Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as “Holiday Trees” for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America . . .
The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,
There is a love that motivates any of us to serve others. That love is powerful in many ways.
Ephesians 3: 7 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—
Here we find a prayer to be rooted and grounded in love. Here we find a desire to know the total scope and immensity of the love of God. Why? For motivation.
When we understand the love of the Father for us as individuals, we can access that love and apply that love to others. Love becomes our motivation.
When Jesus looked out over Jerusalem, he was “moved with bowels of compassion”. What a strange phrase this is. You will not find it in all translations, but it is extremely accurate. The core thought is that He is so touched with love that his stomach hurts. This type of love commands you to action. You must do something.
There are other instances where Jesus looks out and sees the people are confused, is moved with compassion, and sends out workers to teach and help. It is a constant with Him. Love motivates.
Jesus came to show us the Father. He shows us the Father’s love. The Father so loved the world that He gave His Son. He was motivated to action by compassion.
Any father/leader does the same. Our actions are driven by the deep motivations of our heart. When greed is motivation, we act greedily. When self sufficiency is motivation, we act accordingly. When love is our motivation, we act with compassion and protection and provision.
Love brings health. A friend of mine has struggled for some months over a decision. In that time frame, he has made many decisions that don’t seem to add up. But there is a constant that has directed his path. He has a great love to do a certain work and lead a certain demographic. His decisions keep coming back to making that happen. Wandering off course for a few weeks, he will always come back to supporting that group and that motivation. It compels him. The more questions he answers with that motivation, the more clear his path and direction becomes.
Think of a father and his family. When he is motivated by love every decision leads in the same direction. It leads to the health of his family. When making a priority decision over spending household budget, he will ensure everyone has their basic needs met and something that brings joy to them. Love motivates and guides his decisions. When making a decision during a hardship of whether to speak words that build or words that tear down, he will choose the former. When finding himself in the wrong, he will seek forgiveness and health of his family over self serving his ego. Love motivates to the good.
Love is healthy. It leads us to life building decisions.
The normal slate of Christmas movies reminds me of a big lesson. Whether it is Elf or The Santa Clause, the recurring theme of holiday movies is the dad that never could. Unlike the Little Engine, there are dads out there that just never seem to make it to be the father they desire to be.
Dad, you have it tough. Everyone wants you to be perfect and normal like Mr. Cleaver. But Ward Cleaver is not normal. Mr Huxtable is a rarity. He just is not real. Real dads are more susceptible to mistakes.
They are not fools like most of our sitcoms of today. And they certainly need respect not parody like so many of the cartoon dads of the Simpsons and other tragedies. Those are certainly not comedic. They are sad.
Yet, like the movies, it is never too late to get it right. Robin Williams in Hook gets it right. He finds a way back to his happy thought. And that happy thought is his son. He finds a way to reestablish his family and get them back.
That movie is great. Peter Pan grows up to be too busy for his children. Then they travel to Never Land, just as he did. They get engaged with the lost world of missing dads. He has to remember who he is and go and get his children. He has to become the father he never had.
It takes the whole movie for him to find a way. Then he has to fight off the pirates of Never Land. Really those pirates are lurking inside every dad working to keep him away from his kids. He has to face them once he wakes up. Just picking up and being a great dad overnight won’t work. You have accumulated a world of pirates set on making you fail.
When he starts to fight, he has so many helpers. His wife, the woman who raised him, and Tinker Bell all rally around him and believe in him. The troop of lost boys believe in him and fight with him against the pirates. Even when his own children do not believe in him, others do.
So, Dad, face it. You have made some mistakes. But, your kids don’t have to be written up in a sad movie plot. They don’t have to reach adulthood separated from you. And, if they have already reached adulthood separated from you emotionally or physically or spiritually, you have enough inside of you to fight all the pirates of Never Land to get back into their lives.
You can do it, Dad. I believe in you. Others believe in you. We are all in this together.
Everyone wants you to be a different kind of dad. Sure, the young kids want you energetic and involved in all the sports. And, those teenagers want to know you love them with words and texts and facebook, but don’t get too close when the friends are around. Then the adult kids want affirmation of career and life choices. Everyone wants a different kind of dad.
You have to find your own groove. Being a father is not about being everything to everyone. You have to be you. Sure, you need to adapt to the different styles of your children and adapt to their needs along the path of growing. But you need to be you. If you needs to change, then change the whole you.
Yesterday wasThanksgiving Day. That means a lot to me. During the mix of people coming over, I had to find time to say thank you to friends and fathers and children across states and nations. They all mean something to me. That is one of the ways I am a father. Some need encouragement. Some need to know I am here. Some responded as if I had given them a great gift. Some responded with requests for prayer as they shared deep pains of life. Some did not respond at all. But that is a way I am a dad.
Then kids and family came over. My wife had invited a few friends and others. Some came. Some did not. We will be together again tomorrow at my mom’s a few hundred miles away. It is expected of our home that we host holidays. That has become part of the family tradition. Other families depend on it, not just ours. Every dad needs traditions others can rely on. That is a way I am a father. I used to think tradition was expendable. It isn’t. Find the right ones and honor them. Let them be expressions of you. Traditions bind family.
The way you cut your hair, your after shave, the way you greet someone who enters your home, and more all define you as a father. You are being watched. You are being studied. Consistency and congruency mean a lot.
A friend wrote about her husband. Seems he had another life online and offline. For three years, he was single and looking on facebook. On Sunday he was a leader in the congregation. Yes, he is now an ex. He made that choice some years back, it just manifested recently. Men, get real. You need a positive and affirming and family including groove. You are a father. People count on you. This certainly is an unacceptable groove.
So, get your groove on. Be you. Be the man and father and dad you are called to be. Do it positive. Do it consistently. Do it. There is a lot of love to be had in your life when you do. You won’t have to look elsewhere. It will come looking for you at home.
Phil Larson has worked diligently for the past 15 years to strengthen fathers and families. His efforts have provided hope for many households. With your help he can accomplish much more and I look forward to seeing the results across Oklahoma, the Mid-West and the U.S.” Ken R Canfield PhD, Founder, National Center for Fathering, Director, Urban Center for the Family. World Impact, Los Angeles, CA.
Your support of fathers, leaders, and pastors makes enormous difference. Together, we can educate and encourage thousands of fathers and strengthen their families by reaching where it is hard to reach.
The moral strength of our nation has atrophied in the last five decades. Fathers need strengthening. The leadership mindset in business, government, congregation and community develops from fathers. The leaders developed in a world of fatherlessness need strengthening. From 1960 forward, we have seen a disastrous rise in fatherlessness and related social ills such as divorce, suicide, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, drug usage, and moral apathy. Unmarried birth has skyrocketed to 40% of all births and primarily to women in their twenties and thirties.
Fathers and Families
What love can engulf our families through the message of Godly fathering? “I am aware that you, Phil, are a man of great persistence and determination to spread the Word of God to encourage others. ….. express my appreciation and say that I understand how important “Fathering” and good loving fathers are. My hope is that you will be successful in this effort” .an Oklahoma City dad.
Community and Congregation Leaders
What blessing can engage our congregations through powerful prayer and counsel for pastors and ministers? “You must continue to reach pastors, Phil. You have been anointed for it. It has meant much to me.” Pastor of a large Black Baptist congregation
Government and Legislative Leaders
What would be the impact on our nation if every legislator in our nation received hope and peace and grace as the present 3242 we reach? “I want to take a moment to “THANK YOU” for your prayers and for every email I have received from you during this session. Sir, this is my 6th session since my initial election and, by far, this has been my most enjoyable and successful session. …I give God the ultimate credit for everything that occurs every day, but know that you deserve a tremendous amount of credit for keeping me on the right path with every expression of support and encouragement. Thank you again and my God bless you.”
We intend to find out.
In past years, all of these areas have been a part of our efforts and energy. Yet, there has never been enough time while working 60+ hours a week in the business community. Now it is time to turn the tables and give the lion’s share of time to the community and flexible hours to business. That can only happen with your help and hundreds of others like you.
Fathers count with me.
Our nation struggles with family bonding and long term fathering engagement. The results are horrid.
Research is clear. When the father stays actively engaged with his children, there are specific results.
1. They perform better in school.
2. They are less likely to live poor.
3. They are less likely to be engaged in criminal activity
4. They are less likely to engage in destructive behaviors such as drug use and early sexual activity.
5. They become more compassionate adults.
In Oklahoma, we started a good thrust in support of fathers in 2001 and have continued over the years. More Father/Daughter Summits have been held here than in any other city in the nation. Men have been trained and enabled. Counselors and social workers and ministers have been trained in new techniques. Citywide campaigns and single congregation campaigns have educated and enabled thousands of men and women. Children have been blessed. Community cooperation with CBMC, the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, American Fidelity, the Department of Human Services, CDC, Character First, business leaders, and hundreds of congregations has benefited us all through more family stability and generational blessing. This has extended in support of leaders in congregations and community.
Now, I have a dream.
It is time to develop our community with targeted and morally responsible resources and support for fathers and leaders. Right now, I am working with Carey Casey and the National Center for Fathering to bring an affiliate of the NCF to Oklahoma on a full time basis. In January, I will meet with a brainstorm team in Kansas City at the National Center to make further plans for Oklahoma City.
We need your input and we need your support.
Dream with me.
- An interactive resource place for men to come and receive advice and education. Online and onsite.
- Continual community visibility through education in business, congregation, and governmental interaction.
- Constant equipping of community leaders such as pastors, men’s group leaders, social workers, counselors, and others to equip and empower men as effective fathers and leaders.
- A strong and visible voice for families and fathers and two parent homes.
This dream is real. It is in motion. We need your support.
What dream do you have to support fathers and families?
Talk to me now. Don’t delay your action and your feedback. Do something positive about the next generation. Do something distinctive for this generation.
Sometimes testimonies can stir our faith to new levels of expectancy.