Christmas Colors: Black and Red

One of the most contentious issues around Christmas is money. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about digging themselves out of holiday debt come January. Retailers revel over the black in their checkbooks, while consumers cry over their bleeding bottom line.

For many Christians, the concept of debt is a touchy one. There are the pious few who shun credit cards, and a majority who long for the day when they can pay off all their plastic.

Recently, I heard a financial adviser speak on debt-proofing Christmas. She had tons of wonderful ideas for keeping Christmas traditions while eliminating or minimizing the cost. Wonderful ideas, good ideas, useful ideas.

However, following that interview, I got into a discussion on marital finances with my sisters. That prompted me to re-examine my perspective on money, debt, borrowers and lenders. What exactly does the Bible say?

Once when I was young, my dad loaned me money to purchase a bike. The plan was for me to earn my allowance and other funds to slowly pay off my debt. Truthfully, I don’t recall how many nights passed, but I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake thinking about how sinful, terrible and scary it was to owe someone something. One night, I climbed out bed, ran to my dad and begged him to let me take the money out of my savings account so that I could be free of this terrible debt.

Therein, I think, lies one of the Biblical cautions against debt. It invokes fear. There’s a feeling of inferiority to the person who holds the debt. That emotion, in and of itself is not Biblical. As children of God, we are not beneath or subservient to anyone. Neither should our lifestyle reflect that we are.

The problem with debt is that from either side, it is completely contrary to our personhood in Christ. We are called to be like our Father. Our God is beneath no one, in need of nothing and under no fear or condemnation. Neither are we. To live in a lifestyle of borrowing and owing is not to look like our Father.

In the relationship between a borrower and lender, Proverbs tell us the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7) Consider these two roles. Both encourage an attitude that is un-Christ-like. The lien holder has the tendency to feel superior and to lord his influence and power over the borrower. The borrower is beholden, and legally bound to his benefactor.

Throughout the Old Testament, God laid out parameters  for borrowing and lending. If to do either was sinful, God would not have explained how to do so honorably. God tells the Israelites to lend freely but never to be in debt to another nation. I believe God does this for the sake of His own name.

“The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Duet. 28:12)

“And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” (Duet 9:26-28)

For the glory of His own name, God protected and provided for His people. He does the same today. Essentially, borrowing displays a lack of trust in God’s faithful provision.

A final criteria for Christians to consider regarding debt, is motive. More often that not, debt is acquired by greed. There is an insatiable longing for something that God has not previously provided, so in self-sufficiency we run to our own means for satisfaction.

Finally, in the New Testament, Paul instructs his listeners to own no man anything but a debt of love. Think of how you feel when you owe someone money. It is usually a pressure, a frustration, a burden. However, when love has been given, to return it ten fold is a joy, a pleasure!

God longs for His people to reflect His nature. God longs for His people to trust his sufficiency. And God longs for His people to experience the joy of effusively giving love.

Can we apply this to our checkbooks?

 

 

Missing Beauty

Like a child at Christmas

New to a world of unbridled joy

Toys and gifts unshelved and labeled just for me

Scantily wrapped in bows to entice

And to celebrate the more beautiful giver

With an eye to Glory and Grace.

 

But I ran through the piles,

Stepped on a few.

Past love and peace and a new set of eyes.

Past my new heart and a clean mind.

I reached for the lowest branch,

And plucked an eye catching bauble.

As I turned the plastic charm around in my palm

Narcissus, I boasted in my glossy reflection.

Oh the prize of this cheap decor.

 

But a hook skewered my finger

Biting my pink, immature flesh

It held and my blood dripped upon

The beautiful gifts meant for me.

TaDA! Another Year Down, One Closer to Christ’s Return!

Oh Friends,

What I precious time I’ve had getting to know you this year. And what generous readers you are to put up with my chatter, my learning, my sharing, and doubtless, my typos!

There’s one more day this year. Today, the 30th, Patrick and I are setting off for Oklahoma. We’ll spend a few days with his family and then travel to Kansas to spend sometime with my parents. The sad part is that my sisters were in KS for Christmas, and by the time I get there, they will have returned to TX and jobs and family life. I will arrive in the wake of some real excitement though…

JORDAN JUST PROPOSED TO RACHELLE!! My next planned trip to the midwest will hopefully their wedding! There is no way to express my joy that Jordan will now be my brother (I’ve accidentally been calling him that for quite a while now). And no one, I mean no one, is God more happy to bless than Rachelle. Her heart for Jesus and desire to love those He loves is unparalleled.

Obviously, Christmas will have passed. But Patrick and I will arrive in Oklahoma in time to take in OSU’s bowl game. We’re going to go to old stomping grounds, Eskimo Joe’s, (where we feel really old) to watch the game. Hopefully, some friends will join us.

So, on to business. January. If you had asked me 15 years ago if I expected to see 2012, I would have said no. I didn’t believe I would live that long. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live that long. Thank the Lord that He doesn’t ask us for our opinion on His sovereign plans. To this end, I have been asked to review Simple Steps. I can’t tell you much yet, except that it is a UK website aiming to help those suffering from eating disorders. We’ll discover this treasure together as I review it for a week in January.

Also, I have joined a book review program with Moody Publishers. I will be reading, reviewing and giving away a copy of one of their books each month (Lord willing) starting in January. That will take a week of our time together as well. As you know, I am a Moody disciple – devouring everything from their radio programs to their books, to their Bible studies, to their continuing education courses to…I’m sure I have yet to discover all they have to offer.

That only covers 2 weeks of January. I trust that God will continue to teach me about Himself- the very Truth Himself. I promise to share everything with you so that together we can combat the enemy of our souls. For one week, I will delve into the truth that God has been teaching me about men. Now that could get interesting! The truth about our differences, the joy in those differences and certainly the pain. I’ll include stories, juicy ones sometimes using my marriage as a case study. Finally, I will offer related resources.

And the fourth week… NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.  I don’t make them. Enough said??

Christmas Memory

I thought your absence would mellow,

That time would dull the ache I feel,

When I smell snicker-doodle coffee

When I slip on a soft flannel shirt.

I worried that I would slowly forget

The callous of your fingers

The sharpness of your whistle.

I thought your absence would mellow.

But just yesterday I cried.

I miss you.

I remember so many Christmases

When I was a little girl.

I remember caroling and gazing at the lights.

I remember services at your church.

Plates of cheese and crackers,

After candlelight services.

Stacked in bunk-beds for meager hours

Till we could tumble down the stairs.

You waited at the foot,

Steamy, black coffee in hand.

Sun-sparked through frosty windows.

A buzz of home and warmth.

The air was full of you.

Of bridled enthusiasm for childish glee.

As we tumbled down the stairs

To assault the Christmas tree.

I promise to remember.

Your voice echoes in my heart.

Christmas will never be quite the same

As long as we’re apart.

Granddad, I miss you.

Grandma, we remember.

But, remember,

It won’t be this way forever.

A Gift of Links

As promised, today I’m going to share awesome links that you will find especially helpful for the holidays. Enjoy!

Chantel Hobbs – manage your holiday weight

Bodyrock.tv – keep moving!

Crown financial – Christmas Credit Cards- don’t panic

Dave Ramsey  – Financial Peace, need I say more?

Don’t look all over Amazon- here’s exactly what you need for Christmas

Christmas marriage meltdown? 

I hope you enjoy some of these links. I love all of them, personally.

Merry Christmas!

 

It’s so Obvious!

I’m not really comfortable sharing my faith, so I just try to be good – hopefully people will see Jesus in me.

Have you ever heard someone say that? Have you ever said it yourself? I think most of us have and if we haven’t we certainly want to think it!

At Christmas time, it’s a given that Santa shows up in the mall, nativity scenes grace the corners of most mantles and nearly everyone knows the words to Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Bumper stickers mumble our beliefs about the real “reason for the season.” But we’re lying to ourselves if we think that the Christmas message is just so obvious!

Sorry Charlie Brown, it’s not. Unfortunately, beneath the clutter of X-boxes, baby dolls, expensive gift cards and tangled lights, I don’t think most people really do know that Jesus’ birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. How many generations are we away from tiny tots who don’t know what the manger represents?

It’s difficult to locate statistics on how many people associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ. It won’t be representative of a large sampling, but I’ll post a survey here out of curiosity.   

Most people won’t argue over the historicity of Jesus Christ. But Christmas questions open a wide door for Christians to share their faith – do you believe that the baby born in Bethlehem was the Son of God? Do you believe that He lived, died as a sacrifice for sin and rose again on the third day according to the inerrant Word of God?

I confess that the story seems so obvious to me that it’s often difficult to explain the gospel to someone who doesn’t have the life-long context of being raised in a Christian environment. So this year, give yourself a gift – learn to share your faith boldly. That’s a gift that will really keep on giving.

I just finished and recommend this book:

Shopping Pains

I can’t make up my mind.

If I don’t hurry, they’ll leave me behind!

Red stockings? Green?

Cinnamon or Vanilla bean?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Should I buy Dad great coffee,

Mom – flavored tea?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Does Mom want new gloves,

Can a tie show my love?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Does my sister wear tall,

Does Pete still play ball?

 

I can’t make up my mind!

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

The mall is closing, Dad’s jingling the keys.

Oh if everyone was just easy to please!