Starbucks, Girl Scouts, and Me

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Remember when I wrote this article, Boycott: The War Cry?

Boycotts are effective, like in One Million Moms that fight bad programming or commercials on television most parents would object to, even the American Family Association has had some success in recent years. Your voice matters, but Perry Noble, senior pastor at Newspring Church, disagrees with the method:

“My question then would be, “what did you win?”  You succeeded in making a point, but you still have not made a difference.” Noble insists it is a matter of the heart. “…only JESUS has the power to change a heart, only through the proclamation of the GOSPEL will people hear about Jesus, and when Jesus takes over someone’s life HE will change more in five minutes that a boycott could change in 500 years.” So should we boycott?

I stopped buying Starbucks, not because of their long-held support of gay marriage, but due to the possible financial aspect of how they politically supported a same-sex bill that passed in the state of Washington. If I would vote against a same-sex marriage bill in my state, why would I give financially to support it in another state? If a boycott worked, it would harm a companies ability to continue supporting something I disagree with. That is why people boycott. However, Noble also makes a good point when he explains how many companies we’d have to boycott in order to stop financial support of an organization that help things Christians don’t agree with.

According to this site, the founder of Facebook gave $992 million to an organization that also supports Planned Parenthood. Nike announced political support towards the Oregon gay marriage initiative. The Girl Scouts tweeted some kind of pro-abortion statement.  So what do we do as Christians?

Perhaps Noble does have a point? Boycotts may still help and should be done in some cases, but bottom line: it is indeed a spiritual issue. Politically, we SHOULD fight through bills introduced in congress to protect Christians and unborn babies, and to protect marriage, but individually we should frequent places like Starbucks and work on changing their hearts one person and barista at a time through genuine friendship and love.

So, as of today, I am choosing my boycotts carefully. Starbucks may see me in their place of business on occasion (though I will do so moderately as I support locally run coffee houses). I am on the fence about the Girl Scouts. And I don’t plan on stopping my use of Facebook. Some companies grow too big, making them fearless in who they loudly support. But we can use Facebook and the products that other companies create to continue to spread the Gospel and conservative values.

What do you think about boycotts?

The Word, Christian

A missionary friend once said he doesn’t use the word, “Christian,” in his field to identify his biblical belief because of how internationally re-defined it has become and how religions have made it all-inclusive. I came across Ravi Zacharius’ Youtube video on the word Christian and Cult. I love Ravi.

How Long Will You Remain Sick?

“Later, Jesus met the man in the temple and told him, “You are now well. But don’t sin anymore or something worse might happen to you.” 15 The man left and told the leaders that Jesus was the one who had healed him. 16 They started making a lot of trouble for Jesus because he did things like this on the Sabbath.” - In context here.

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This passage in John has been on my mind for months. I am thinking of the sins in our spirit and actions that keep us “sick.” I wonder if that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “You are now well. But don’t sin anymore or something worse might happen to you.”

According to a Bible Commentary here, “Instead of answering Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6), he tries to explain why he can’t get healed and blames others.” He, being the man who was healed, blames others. In context with today’s culture, how many people experience the consequences of their sin and blame others or circumstances for their problems?

It’s always the job we lost, the person who was mean, or (fill in the blank). It’s never the bad decisions we made that led to the circumstances we now experience. Even my first knee-jerk reaction is to look to others or my circumstances to blame when confronted by someone. How long will I remain sick when simply acknowledging the truth will set me free from that “illness”; that, and taking the hard steps to make it right will create a better future and grow me as a person. How long will I remain sick? How long will you remain sick?

Let whatever it is that holds you back from being well go, and take the first brave steps forward to have a better future than the one you are experiencing now. What is it that makes you sick and holds you back from healing? Of course, I’m not talking physical illnesses. Though the man in John 5 was healed physically, I wonder what sin caused him to be sick. Jesus infers there was something else. Why else would he say, “You are now well. But don’t sin anymore or something worse might happen to you?”

Can I pray for you?

Dear Lord, I pray for those who are both physically sick and whose sin made them sick. I pray that this scripture reminds us that sometimes its a sickness of heart that keeps us from fully living Your purpose. May we live in your grace and remember your forgiveness. May we have faith as we walk our difficult paths. In Jesus Name, Amen.

What or who is holding you back and why?

The Value of a Shoebox (A Christmas Story)

The naked bulb that dangled in the center of the square closet shuddered with every hot breath Penelope Williams exhaled. Her hands felt along the edge of the highest shelf. Her fingers felt the feather-softness of the thick dust and snagged in a small and hopefully abandoned web.

“Dad, where is it?” She felt frantic, talking to herself as she always did when stress levels rose.

Penelope didn’t expect an answer. He hadn’t been answering for a while now. A bad decision took care of that, and now she stood in his house—the one he occupied in seclusion since her mother’s death three years ago. Like a typical bachelor, her father let the dust collect on the shelves, his movies, electronics, and some dust hung off fan blades like moss.

Her fingers slid further along the shelf and encountered cardboard—a box! A shoebox! Penelope strained her arms above her head and stood on tiptoes until her hands grasped one end of it and pulled it down. She walked into the bedroom and sat down on the unmade bed. In forty-years, he had never made his bed. In the last three years, he rarely left it preferring Bill O’Reilly and the Packer’s to his neighbors. Penelope set the shoebox on her lap and her stomach flipped. He had spoken about the shoe box during his last days, struggling to breathe as the lung cancer took away his energy. Her father had stored his world in a non-brand name shoe box whose lettering had faded now.

Penelope lifted the lid and set it on the bed. The house smelled musty of old memories both pleasant and unpleasant. The box held only papers and photos. Her brothers would be disappointed, she thought. This box contained no safety deposit key to hidden riches or old silver. No money to pay the funeral expenses or to ready dad’s house to put on the market. Worthless paper he deemed too valuable to throw away. Too bad he didn’t prepare financially for his death. Penelope and her brothers contributed from their meager incomes to pay down the debt her father left in the wake of cancer. Her brothers were married. Penelope had a long line of ex-boyfriends and was sadly still single. She was an aunt this year. Her eldest brother, Fred and his wife had their first just two months ago. The historical novels she consumed would have deemed her a spinster at age 30. While deep in regret, her cell phone buzzed.

“No—Nothing like that. I wish.” Penelope answered Fred’s inquiry about the box, clutching the phone to her ear. “No, I’ll be joining Jared and his wife for Christmas in Colorado this year. I’ve always wanted Christmas with snow.”

Penelope tilted her head and stared at the dirty glass face of her mother’s picture. It hung crooked near daddy’s dresser. “Yeah, I’ll miss her ham. I know. That’s the advantage of being single. I can go anywhere on Christmas. Okay…love you, too.” She pressed ‘end’ and put the phone back into her pocket.

Penelope began to go through the yellowed papers and photos, laying them on the bedspread. One by one the memories came back. There were two tickets to her mother’s favorite ballet still attached to the program. Dad surprised her on her birthday one year. Then, there’s the hand drawn Christmas cards Penelope created and the hand prints in plaster her brothers did in class. Dad had kept even the wrinkled napkin from a Thanksgiving dinner where Penelope slipped a note to him beneath the table cloth to make him laugh. That was the year he lost his job. He kept pictures of her mother being silly, stirring the soil with her gardening gloves, and working her first job after all of Penelope’s brothers had moved out of the house. Dad even kept a photo of himself smoking a cigarette. Mom had written on the back, “Please quit. I don’t like kissing an ash tray.” Penelope took out the wrinkled obituary of her mother and saw how grease-stained fingerprints made it almost see-through. The last thing in the box was a white envelope, tattered and creased. It was addressed to Penelope and her brothers.

As if the envelope contained riches beyond her imagination, Penelope carefully opened the flap and slid out a single index card. It began with John 3:16. In her father’s quirky script, it said, “I discovered Jesus. I just wanted you to know that all your prayers and your mother’s prayers were answered. Tonight I pack to be in hospice and that television preacher talked about Jesus and I felt like that preacher spoke to me, like God was speaking to me. I know that if you are reading this I am gone, but I am someplace more splendid than earth. One day we’ll reunite. I am with your mother as you read this. I love you. I love Jesus.”

Penelope cried. She buried her face in the dirty bedspread and soaked the blanket that still held her father’s scent—old nicotine. Outside, a Harley-Davidson roared past the house. Mr. Adams yelled at the neighbor’s cat who was in his flower bed again. A breeze tickled the old wind chimes in the backyard. Life went forward. The most valuable items in her father’s life was in this shoebox. In a life fraught with hardships, job losses, sorrow and disappointment, her father maintained a joy that was nearly divine only losing some of it after her mother’s passing.

Penelope packed everything back into the shoe box and walked into the living room. A pile of bills sat on the counter—all past due. An old Bible was underneath her father’s favorite magazines. She slipped his Bible on top of the shoebox. The binder had softened and creased as if he had opened the Bible often. Penelope left the bills and stepped outside. The clouds hovered dark gray in the sky and dusk muted the sunlight. All ready Christmas lights shined on the houses. Penelope held her shoebox and dad’s Bible tighter against her waist. She thought of her favorite verse in the Bible as she got into the car and headed home:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)

“Merry Christmas, Dad.” Penelope whispered as she left the neighborhood. “Thank you, Jesus.” If one day she would ever marry and have children, Penelope decided to teach her children the value of a shoebox.

Hope you enjoyed the story! Merry Christmas!

(copyright 2011 Nikole Hahn)

The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression

war-on-christmasBuy book here: War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression

The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression is an education into the culture war and dispels the myths man has created from Christmas.

While some tire of the phrase, war on Christmas, its no less a reality for Christians who seek to celebrate a holiday that is theirs to celebrate in the first place, but find Christmas challenged in the court and school systems. Christmas to Christians is like Hanukkah is to the Jewish in that Christmas is a Christians celebration of the birth of Christ. Some have paganized much of the Christian holiday with Santa Claus, elves, and reindeer. In The War on Christmas, even Black Friday is picked on a little. I echo what Charlie Brown said, “Doesn’t anyone know the meaning of Christmas?”

The War on Christmas explores the truths behind common misunderstandings of Christmas, like the Nativity set. The Three Wise Men didn’t actually come to see Christ until Christ was nearly two years of age. The book also talks about the star and how the book of Genesis plays into the Christmas story. The book talks about how Jesus had brothers, how Mary wasn’t a perpetual virgin, and other things. All of the details of the Christmas story are discussed in this book, even to the smallest detail of the “Inn.”

My husband and I chose to keep this book in our library as a reference for re-reading as it is a testament to God in every small detail of the Christmas story even before the beginning of time. I am ever amazed at God’s attention to detail. Why should I be surprised though when God also created the human body, DNA, and even the atom? The archeological and spiritual truths in this book is what I would expect from Ken Ham and the people at Answers in Genesis.

For anyone who wonders how to keep the Christmas Story in focus over the other distractions and commercialization of the holiday, this book is a great book, laid out in full color and nice, thick pages. It’s a teaching tool for parents, and towards the end shows how we can still play the Santa Claus game without lying to our kids about whether Santa Claus is real, and instead, focusing on the historical figure behind the mythical man. I gave this book five stars. It’s on my re-read list.

*Book given by publisher to review.