Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merry Xmas? Xmas origins and Why No One Can X Christ Out of Christmas!

Every year at Christmas time I hear Christians denounce the use of Xmas. Even as a child, I was told that when a person uses that term, they are crossing Christ out of Christmas. Many people think it is a modern secular conspiracy to eliminate Jesus from the holiday.

Actually nothing can be further from the truth. In the history of the Christian church, the Greek spelling for Christ is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, and for centuries the letters X or XP (Chi Rho) were often used to abbreviate or symbolize Christ. The Chi-Rho symbol, with the P and X put together, was widely used as a christian symbol since the Christianized Roman Emperor Constantine made it part of his standard. putting the symbol on the flags and shields of his army, starting in 312 AD. Some Christian churches, such as the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox still use the Chi-Rho symbol today.

 Since the early church, Christians have been using the X (Chi) symbol in place of Christ in many ways, such as spelling Christian as Xtian or Xian. The abbreviation Xmas actually comes from English speaking Christians who were well educated in Greek.

The early Christian church also noted the similarity of the X to the cross, which made it an even better way to shorten Christ. It's like using a cross in place of His name, as opposed to using a C as in Cmas. (Some scholars even think the cross that Jesus died on was X shaped and not the T shape we think of.)

Although it's not considered the formal way to spell Christmas, and you wouldn't want to use it on your Christmas cards, it really isn't as bad of an abbreviation as many Christians think. So don't worry when you see Xmas. Even if people are deliberately trying, they still can't eliminate Christ out of Christmas!


Wikipedia has a good discussion on this subject:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Story of the Tea Cup

At the annual Ladies' Christmas Tea that my church gives every year, we were given a copy of this story. I liked it so much, I thought I'd share it with you!

A couple vacationing in Europe went strolling down a little street and saw a quaint little gift shop with a beautiful teacup in the window. The lady collected teacups and she wanted this one for her collection, so she went inside to buy the teacup, and as the story goes the teacup spoke and said:

"I want you to know that I have not always looked like this. It took the process of pain to bring me to this point. You see, there was a time when I was just clay and the Master came and he pounded me and he squeezed me and he kneaded me and I screamed: "STOP THAT!". But he just smiled and said, "Not yet".

Then he took me and put me on the shelf and I went round and round and round and round... and while I was spinning and getting dizzier and dizzier I screamed again and I said, "Please get me off this thing... please get me off!!!" And the Master was looking at me and he was smiling, as he said, "Not yet".

Then he took me and walked toward the oven and shut the door and turned up the heat and I could see him through the window of the oven and it was getting hotter and hotter and I thought, "He's going to burn me to death!".

And I started pounding on the inside of the oven and I said, "Master, let me out, let me out, let me out!", and I could see that he was smiling as he said "Not yet". Then he opened the door and I was fresh and free and he took me out of the oven and he put me on the table and then he got some paint and a paintbrush.

He started dabbing me and making swirls all over me and I started to gag and I said: "Master, stop it... stop it... stop it please... you're making me gag". He just smiled as he said "not yet".

Then very gently he picked me up again and he started walking toward the oven and I said, "Master, NO!! Not again, pleeeease!!". He opened the oven door and he slipped me inside and he shut the door and this time he turned the heat up twice as hot as before and I thought, "He's going to kill me!!", and I looked through the window of the oven and I started to pound on it, saying, "Master... Master, please let me out... please let me out... let me out!".

I could see that he was smiling but I also noticed a tear trickle down his cheek as I watched him mouth the words, "Not yet!"

Just as I thought I was about to die, the door opened and he reached in ever so gently and took me out, fresh and free and he went and placed me on a high shelf and he said: "There, I have created what I intended. Would you like to see your yourself?" I said, "Yes". He handed me a mirror and I looked and I looked again and I said, "That's not me, I'm just a lump of clay".

He said, "Yes, that IS you, but it took the process of pain to bring you to this place. You see, had I not worked you when you were clay, then you would have dried up.

If I had not subjected you to the stress of the wheel you would have crumbled. If I had not put you into the heat of the oven you would have cracked. If I had not painted you there would be no color in your life. But, it was the second oven that gave you the strength to endure. Now you are everything I intended you to be - from the beginning." And I, the teacup, heard myself saying something I never thought I would hear myself saying, "Master, forgive me, I did not trust you. I thought you were going to harm me, I did not know you had a glorious future and a hope for me. I was too shortsighted, but I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for the suffering. I want to thank you for the process of pain. Here I am! I give you myself - fill me; pour from me, use me as you see fit. I really want to be a vessel that brings you glory within my life."

Author Unknown

Sunday, September 18, 2011

About the Book

God, Where Are You?! Faith Lessons Learned From Questioning God is a book written by a Christian, specifically for fellow Christians who are having a hard time understanding why bad things happen.

It might be struggling with long term unemployment, losing a home, a debilitating physical ailment, or even the unexpected loss of a loved one... Or perhaps is happens when we watch new newest massive disaster on the news, but sooner or later I believe most Christians find themselves questioning God.

Although I have been a Christian most of my life, there have been times when I cried out, "God, where are you?!" and "why is this happening to me?" The things I went through during these difficult times, when I felt that God had turned his back on me, have inspired me to write this book.

As I have struggled through an abusive marriage, a bitter divorce and custody battle, seven years of single parenting four young children with no child support, physical illness and the loss of loved ones, I found there are many lessons from the Lord that I have learned. With the hard economic times we are in (and with probably more difficult times to come) I feel the need to share some of the things God has taught me, to help guide and comfort other Christians going through tough situations.

Using the Bible as my major resource, in my book I discuss some of the fallacies that are being taught in some Christian churches today. These are things that leave the Christians in these churches heavily burdened or poorly prepared to face hardships and trials.

I also have a list of eighteen ways that God will use suffering for our good. Although not comprehensive, it certainly should give the reader some food for thought.

I believe that people in the United States, and much of the world will be facing some serious trials and tribulations in the future. It will be a time of sifting and testing for those of us who are Christians, as well as a time of growth.

One of the hardest questions a Christian may ever have to deal with is, "How can a good and loving God allow suffering?" My goal is to help those who are facing hardships to be able to deal with hard questions like this. I want to share with my readers that even in the tough times, when it looks like He is nowhere to be found, God is still faithfully and lovingly at work in our lives.