A Short Christmas Story

William, my big baby boy, is growing up, even though he doesn’t want to.  He’ll be 13 in March, he’s almost as tall as I am, he weighs 140 lbs., and he started middle school this year. [edit: he’s now a 16 year old high school sophomore, 6 ft., and about 220 lbs.!]
baby william
He’s not a fan of school, William.  He’s had some struggles, and only returned to formal schooling last year after spending several grades being taught at home.   Making friends with other kids is not his strong point.  And middle school is a particularly vicious place, where bullying is a favorite sport.
This one kid has been a thorn in William’s side most of the year.  The name-calling got so out of hand that both John and I spoke to the boy ourselves after school as well as alerting the principal.  And things improved.  But while he has turned it down a notch, this boy cannot seem to stay away from William.  It’s more irritation than bullying, in my opinion–this boy is much smaller and William is not intimidated, just annoyed.
At first William would come home and complain about how much he “hated” the boy and what “a jerk” he was.  But lately that’s changed.  He still complains, but he also talks about how “sad” and “pathetic” the boy is, how he never does any schoolwork, how he just lays his head down on his desk, how none of the teachers seem to like him much.  He says, “I wonder what his life is like?” and asks me, “Why do you think he acts this way?  What is the matter with him?”  He says he wants to be angry with him but he can’t help feeling sorry for him.
William and Mace
William loves to have conversations in the car on the short drive to school in the morning, and today he introduced the topic.  “What do you think,” he asked me, “Jesus would say about the way we celebrate His birthday?”  We both agreed that Jesus would be in favor of presents, although not materialism.  But that most of all he would like us to show love, especially to those most in need of it.    William recalled the Golden Rule, and then I reminded him about turning the other cheek and loving your enemies.  I suggested–only half serious, really–that he should say Merry Christmas to anyone who bothered him today.
But when William  got in the car this afternoon, he said that on the way out of school he went right up to the boy who has been bothering him, gave him a hug and wished him Merry Christmas.  A few minutes later, he said, the boy walked down to where William was waiting for me and said, “I can’t believe I am saying this, but Merry Christmas to you!” 🙂
William gazing
 

Persecution and Perspective

It’s that time of year again!  Yes, it’s time for the annual “War on Christmas,” when all we faithful Christians must endure the pain of being wished “Happy Holidays” and seeing retailers advertising “Holiday Sales” and let’s not forget all those evil people taking Christ out of Christmas and replacing him with an X!
I could write several blog posts on this topic, but this morning I just want to provide a few points for your consideration.

  • Nobody can take Christ out of YOUR Christmas, no matter what they say or do.
  • Holiday = Holy Day.  So Christians still win on that one.
  • X = Christ. YES IT DOES.  If you don’t believe me, read this.
  • This is what an actual war on Christians looks like:”According to the U.S. Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Christ . . .    Christians in North Korea face the risk of detention in the prison camps, severe torture and, in some cases, execution for practicing their religious beliefs . . . Catholic and Orthodox groups in Syria say the anti-government rebels have committed “awful acts” against Christians, including beheadings, rapes and murders of pregnant women . . . In August 2013, Egypt faced what has been called the the worst anti-Christian violence in seven centuries: 38 churches were destroyed, 23 vandalized; 58 homes were burned and looted and 85 shops, 16 pharmacies and 3 hotels were demolished; 6 Christians were killed in the violence and 7 were kidnapped . . . [In Pakistan] two suicide bombers exploded shrapnel laden vests outside All Saints’ Church in the old city of Peshawar. Choir members and children attending Sunday school were among 81 people killed. The attack left 120 people wounded, with 10 of them in critical condition . . . . Four Christians in Iran will get 80 lashes each this month for drinking wine during a communion service . . .  An average of 100 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith.”  If you can stand it, you can read the rest here.
  • If you still feel persecuted, take heart!  Here’s what the Scriptures have to say to you:

    John 15:18  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” 

    2 Timothy 3:12  “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

    1 Peter 4:12-14  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. “

    1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled”

    Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

     Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

    I’ll just leave you with this.  What would Jesus do?  Seriously?  This is the guy who gave us a NEW commandment, to love one another as He loved us, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, to forgive seventy time seven.  Do you really think He would want us feeling and spreading ill will on His birthday over the way people extend greetings at this time of year?