Tag Archives: Christmas

FreeWorship Music Page

Hey all,

My author page on Facebook has a cover photo with a whole mess of various items related to my interests and creative pursuits, one of which is a piano keyboard (on the GarageBand app on an iPad).

Oh, look, here it is.

Maybe I should update this with some new interests, like my books and writing in general.

I also have a guitar in that picture but I can barely play for personal amusement, let alone any sort of public performance, so we’ll leave that alone for now.

I chose that as a cover picture because over the course of this blog, I’ve written several times about most if not all of those hobbies and interests. 

All that to say, I haven’t always focused or publicized the music side of my creativity. I’ve posted occasional songs, but with social media and modern technology, there are so many options and ways to put ourselves and our talents “out there”  for others to enjoy. Here’s a step in that direction:

My wife and I have started a Facebook page titled FreeWorship Music where we’ll post videos or livestreams of us playing and/or singing. We have just a few posted for the holidays so far, but we’re working on more songs and sets to post.

One AM Christmas

As is our custom, each member of my family opened one Christmas present on Christmas Eve, a little pre-celebration or appetizer for the main event. We did this fairly late in the evening, after a drive to purchase a festive meal of curry from Coco’s and to look at Christmas lights.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

So it was pretty late when we decided to watch Middle Son’s chosen gift, the Tim Burton movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Not exactly Christmas fare, perhaps, but it’s one he wanted and half the family hadn’t seen it yet.

By the time the movie ended, it was about 1 AM. I’d blame military life and the chaos it sometimes brings, but the fact is we’re pretty much night owls when our tired bodies can put up with the strain. Wifey stays up all hours of the night, and so do I if caffeine and work commitments permit. The teens will try to watch movies at midnight if they can get away with it.

So everyone came to the same conclusion: It’s already Christmas “morning” at this point. The allure of a pile of presents under Christmas lights proved too great to resist… Except for 6-year-old Dude, who was passed out during the early part of the movie (where I admit I also stole a nice catnap).

Once he woke up, groggy and stretching, we asked him if he wanted to open presents. Silly question, of course the answer was yes.

The author, caught by his traitorous wife in a Scrooge moment

This year’s haul was pretty good for all parties.

We set out to make it special for everyone–knowing the cost associated with that–because it’s likely the last Christmas with all six of us together under one roof as one family. Despite any contrary advice or warnings received thus far, Teenage Daughter has an unwavering resolve to move out shortly after turning eighteen and marry her boyfriend, who will probably join the Air Force at that point. (The good news is he’s a pretty decent individual.)

Wifey’s love language is gift-giving, and this year she definitely hit several home runs. Her influence shows strong in our daughter, who also came up with several “OMG it’s perfect” reaction gifts.

My 34-ounce French Press gift is already in use this morning as I make eggs, cherry pancakes and corned beef hash. Teen Son got a much-desired Study Bible, a couple of anime movies, and a giant-size Uno card deck, a game he loves playing with his friends or with our little Dude. Teen Daughter got a collection of art and makeup supplies along with a laminator for photos she intends to print. The Dude and Middle Son got a nice collection of toys and movies they love. Wifey made off with a movie and some high-ticket beauty supplies she probably thought I’d never buy.

Sadly no one thought much of the gift of sleeping in. My work schedule builds in a habit of rising early even if I want more sleep, and Middle Son is a natural early bird. Things could be worse… We have a relaxing yet full Christmas schedule today. A chapel service, a large but non-traditional celebratory meal, an evening visitor, and some live streamed Christmas music on Facebook… And probably more I’m forgetting.

As a touch of holiday cheer, I’ll post some of the Christmas music on my Facebook author page if I can overcome my technological limitations.

Speaking of gifts, Diffraction, my fantasy novel, is free on Kindle through the end of Christmas Day.

I hope your holidays are bright and full of good food, fellowship, and fun.

War on Christmas Over!

“It’s okay to say that now. ‘Merry Christmas’ is back.”

Or so declared a number of Fox News voices on a mash-up video from a left-wing site, posted by one of my friends from that political camp. On the video, President-Elect Trump makes a show of proclaiming, “Merry Christmas” to the crowd, and the video cuts to supporters going wild. The newscasters delighted that the war on Christmas might now be over.

So I guess we win, or whatever. Religious Right, assemble! On to the next vile foe we must defeat to preserve America’s position as God’s favorite!

One of many battlegrounds!
One of many battlegrounds!

That a secular government–by design and by the Constitution–would take pains to be inclusive by not singling out one religion over another should come as no surprise. “Happy Holidays” is a way of recognizing “Maybe not all of you are Christians and some of you might celebrate something else during this season.”

But it’s been spun up for years as a “war,” as if not saying “Merry Christmas” is akin to denouncing the faith or outlawing worship. What if coffee shops don’t offer Christmas cups? What if a store clerk says, “Happy Holidays” to me? This is just one step in the advancement of the liberal agenda to destroy America, of course, so we’re told. Because we have to remember how bad “they” are and how imperiled our freedoms are, so that we keep a good, rabid voting base to get the GOP candidates elected.

Dear Christians, is the President-Elect saying “Merry Christmas” the victory we want? Is that the Good News we proclaim? Christmas is back now, guys; it was gone for the last eight years or something, but Trump said the word and now¬†everything is better!

This changes nothing, and we’re foolish if we think it does.

Is saying the word “Christmas” the important part? Or maybe it’s a blow to politically correct culture that we celebrate? “I’ll say, ‘Merry Christmas’ and if you don’t like it then too bad!” Which totally sounds like the love of God revealed.

That’s what Christmas is about, right? The love of God revealed in the Son of God who entered a broken world and became one of us? That Jesus came in the image of fallen humanity in order to show us how to live and free us from the power of sin? We celebrate Christmas because it starts a story that leads to a cross and an empty tomb, not because “boy it really gets under those progressives’ skin when I say it, hehehe.”

My thanks go out to those who are actually on frontlines that matter:

…those ministering to the poor,

…those reaching out to the wounded and hurting during tough times,

…those who preach the Gospel around the country and around the world,

…those working to fight human trafficking and sexual exploitation,

…those providing comfort and counsel to military members deployed worldwide,

…those speaking life and hope in prisons so that men and women don’t continue down the same paths that got them incarcerated, and so on.

I’m pretty sure these are the wars Jesus won at the cross and the empty tomb. These are the war-zones where His victory needs to be proclaimed and His compassion displayed.

Those wars–where we battle not against Leftists or Democrats or Liberals, not against flesh and blood–those are still ongoing. That’s where we’re needed, because that’s where lives can be changed.

To my fellow believers, merry Christmas. Let’s not forget what it is we say we’re celebrating.

Under Illusion

I saw this political image making the rounds on my Facebook feed this week, and it got me thinking. Or rather some of the responses did.

One pastor seemed quite incensed that “under God” wasn’t in this version. To that individual, this image shouldn’t be shared as a result… despite the image caption making clear the intent of showing the Pledge as originally written.

In fact, the original Pledge by Francis Bellamy is even more different: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

I thought about the power of those two words, “under God.”

In Supreme Court decisions on the subject, the Chief Justice argued that “under God” is an acknowledgement of the religious heritage of the nation but is at this point essentially a secular declaration.  

The ‘God’ referred to is generic and devoid of any religious context. You can say it’s a monotheistic God, so it’s probably tied to an Abrahamic religion. But I don’t think that’s the Court’s intent or point.

I think they recognize, like we should, that two words in a pledge do absolutely nothing to impose any religious standard of behavior or belief upon anyone. No one draws nearer to God in a spiritual experience by reciting the Pledge. It’s not a hymn or worship song, it’s not a prayer to say by rote like Our Father Who art in Heaven or Hail Mary.

Yet the Righr, ever fearing that War on Christianity, focuses attention on those two words in the pledge, as though they constitute some magic cute to social ills that concern us.

Maybe if kids say “under God” then it’ll show what a good, Christian nation we are–regardless of the immorality we approve, condone, or even actively participate in.

I don’t think it works that way. Not on a national level, where we claim some divine favored status–spiritual immunity perhaps?

I’m positive it doesn’t work this way on an individual level, where so long as I say the right words now and then, all my faults and failures get a wink and an understanding grin before being brushed aside. 

After all, I’m part of the good Christian club, right? I ‘liked’ that image that 93% wouldn’t, and shared that poem about footprints in the sand. I voted for the guy who quoted the Bible in his speeches. And I totally got behind defending “under God” from those atheist social justice warriors. 

To paraphrase Jesus, perhaps today He’d tell us, “On that day, many will say, ‘Lord, did we not post in Your Name? And did we not block the atheists on social media, and fight against the growth of Islam in Your favorite nation? Did we not defend the Christ in Christmas, and stand up for the massive cross monuments on public property?’ 

And I will say to them, ‘Depart from Me. I never knew you.'”

It’s easy for me to sit and criticize. So I’ll be honest and admit that I’m just as in danger of missing the whole point as those whose opinions I decry here. I just don’t want to be content flailing about in a cloud of religious / cultural chaff and controversy. 

If I really believe what I claim, then it’s too important to get hung up quibbling and griping over minor details, caught under some illusion that I’m fighting the good fight for the faith.