Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songs of a Pious Heart

Blake Hicks, a good friend of mine, has just released his new album, titled "Songs of a Pious Heart." The album was birthed out of reading St. Augustine's "Confessions," and I would call it a mix of ancient thought with a modern sound. I've been listening to the album for a week or so, and I have been truly blessed by his songs. I'm not just saying all of this because he's my friend, either.

Blake's the kind of guy I would fight in the spiritual trenches with anyday. His heart for the Gospel and sincere transparency are evident within his lyrics and his life.

Please go to Blake's website:, or find him on Facebook, to listen to some of the songs. This guy is so humble and genuine, that he's actually making his songs available for free on so that others can be blessed by it. He didn't ask me to say this, but you need to listen to the songs, and then if you like the music, purchase the album, either through his site or iTunes or Amazon. At $10, it might just be the best Christmas gift or stocking stuffer you've ever purchased, and it has eternal value. It will also help support Blake, his wife, and two boys.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

How do we avoid Christmas consumerism?

I want to start off this post with a humorous video:

One quick note about the video: the X in X-mas actually stands for the Greek letter "chi" which is a symbolic letter for Christ, so I get why people have called it X-mas.

But, like many Christians, I struggle with knowing just how much to embrace the holiday season. Nostalgia and excitement draw me into the "Christmas spirit" that our culture promotes as the goal of the Chrismas season. But how do I make sure this isn't my goal? I believe it's fine to enjoy the festivities, the parties, the music, and the decorations of the holiday season, but I also know that it's a challenge not to let this become all that Christmas is.

How do I lead my family in making Jesus the centerpiece of Christmas without jettisoning some of the fun things associated with it? Maybe it's impossible. Maybe I should follow suit with some who reject all the things like the festivities, the parties, the music, and the decorations.

As I was typing all of this, Will came up and gave me a huge hug and told me I was a great daddy. I took the opportunity to ask him what Christmas was all about. Unprompted, he said, "It's about Jesus' birthday." I guess I might be doing some things right after all. But, I will continue to strive to keep this on the forefront of our minds. Here's some thing we've been doing with this in mind:

- Each night, we read from the Bible and focus on an aspect of Advent. With the kids so young, I generally have to modify it, but they really seem to be picking it up.

- We don't do Santa. I know this sounds horrible for some, and my kid might be the one who blows it for your kid. I even know that I grew up believing in Santa Claus and it didn't destroy my faith in the long run. We basically tell the boys that he's pretend, just like Elmo or Bob the Builder, and that mommy and daddy are the ones who give the presents. We also tell them that there are some boys and girls who think he's real, and we will let their mommies and daddies tell them when they think it's the right time. The underlying principle for me is that I don't want to blur the line between reality/make believe to the point that my kids question the reality of Jesus Christ.

So, here's the question: What do you and your family do at Christmas to keep Christ on the forefront of your affections for the season? Post a comment or two and share how your family does it.