Tired of people bashing "Christ's-mass"? Well check out the rich meanings behind the symbols of the season.
Christmas. The word "Christmas" comes from the term Cristesmaesse and is another way of saying "festival" or "celebration." Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth, or the great feast day of Christ's birth. In other words, Christ is the purpose for the party.
Taking their cue from Old Testament Jewish celebrations and festivals, Christians developed their own feast day commemorating the event and called it "The Feast of the Nativity." It was later called "Christ Mass" or "Christ's Mass" and eventually shortened to "Christmas."
Practice spiritual disciplines. Read the bible daily, confess and repent of your
sins and pray for the lost. Your relationship with Christ is a priority and the key to effectively discipling others.
Remain conservative in your ethics. Remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us.
Lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" is not an effective way to disciple someone. Make sure your life is worthy of emulating.
The current economic situation has affected every area of our lives, including our elaborate Christmas budgets. Find creative, sentimental and inexpensive do-it-yourself gift ideas. Sometimes the best gifts cost only a little time.
Create a recipe booklet with a collection of all your favorite homemade recipes that have been passed down for generations. Click here for instructions.
Make homemade Christmas ornaments that can be used on Christmas trees year after year. Click here to find different designs and instructions on how to make your own ornaments.
Make homemade jam and jelly and put them in decorative jars for a nice gift. Click here for holiday recipes.
Homemade magnets are a great gift idea for a teacher, friend, neighbor or a family member and they are so simple to make. Click here for instructions on how to create your own Christmas magnets.
Bake some homemade cookies and package them in a creative and festive way. Click here for ideas.
Gel candles are very popular and a great gift idea. Click here for instructions so you can make your own.
Make a Christmas gift basket. Click here for ideas for making your own gift baskets on various Christmas themes.
Play dough is a great gift idea for children. You can even make the dough in holiday colors and add Christmas cookie dough cutters for a more festive arrangement. Click here on recipes for play dough and an instructional video.
Gift an ‘Herb Garden'. Grow various herbs like Thyme, Rosemary and Basil in small pots. Place these pots in a long plastic flat-bottomed basket or a clay pot and give it to someone that loves to cook. Click here for instructions on how to plant your herb garden.
Make a homemade Christmas wreath that they can hang on their door or as home décor. Click here for instructions on how to make a traditional Christmas wreath.
Help others learn to read by volunteering as a tutor to help illiterate children and adults with Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. Help transform someone's life today by teaching this important and necessary skill.
Offer to babysit, sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn't get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. It can make a big difference.
Save a life by giving blood. The American Red Cross estimates that "every two seconds someone in America needs blood" and over 4 million Americans donate to the cause. To learn more about donating blood visit your local American Red Cross.
Clean out the garage. No doubt you've got a garage or basement full of stuff you've been meaning to get rid of. Consider having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a local charity, food pantry or ministry.
For those who like to knit and crochet: Knit for Kids has a program to supply sweaters for children of poverty all over the world.
Many senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. Call your local senior citizen center and volunteer your time.
Is it hard for you to stop your anger from escalating? Here is a list of Scriptures that you can meditate on to help you control your anger.These scriptures were taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm (Psalms 37:8).
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated (Proverbs 14:17).
He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly (Proverbs 14:29).
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).
The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression (Proverbs 19:11).
Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul (Proverbs 22:24-25).
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22).
"Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth (Colossians 3:8).
Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you (Proverbs 20:22).
A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back (Proverbs 29:11).
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient (2Timothy 2:23-24).
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1Peter 3:8-9).
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14).
Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:17-18).
Although many people might believe angels exist, that's where the consensus ends on this controversial topic. Do angels come and talk with humans? Can anyone see an angel? Watch and read testimonies of angelic manifestations on earth.
Around the world and around the corner, ordinary people are helping to abolish this form of modern-day slavery. You can be one of them. (All scriptures are NKJ unless noted.)
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger [foreigner], giving him food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10:18)
Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy (Psalm 82:3).
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed (Psalm 85:10).
Justice and judgment are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth shall go before Your face (Psalm 89:14).
There is no end to the increase of His government and of peace on the throne of David, and on His kingdom, to order it, and to sustain it with justice and with righteousness, from now and forever. The zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:7).
So says Jehovah, Keep judgment and do justice; for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed (Isaiah 56:1).
I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor (Psalm 140:12).
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity (Proverbs 1:3).
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3).
If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, do not marvel at the matter. For He who is higher than the highest watches (Ecclesiastes 5:8).
Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and one who did not forget the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in drawing near to God (Isaiah 58:2).
None calls for justice, nor does anyone plead for truth; they trust in vanity and speak lies. They conceive mischief and bring out iniquity...Therefore judgment is far from us; nor does justice overtake us. We wait for light, but behold, dimness; for brightness, but we walk in darkness (Isaiah 59:4, 9).
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NAS).
Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and act wisely, and shall do judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely. And this is His name by which He shall be called, Jehovah, Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Righteousness = "altogether just"
The Lord, the habitation of justice (Jeremiah 50:7).
Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream (Amos 5:24).
Around the world and around the corner, ordinary people are helping to abolish this form of modern-day slavery. You can be one of them.
"I've found Twitter to be a surprisingly helpful tool in connecting with other human rights advocates," noted Stephanie Hamilton of Nowhere2Hide. "Most of the networking I've done has originated through Twitter. Phone calls, emails, [and] face-to-face meetings have all been arranged through this social networking tool that many people have deemed fun but without much merit." If you're on Twitter, you can find fellow abolitionists to follow here and here.
Diana Scimone: You recently started working at the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking of Persons. What's your vision as the new director?
Ambassador CdeBaca: One of the main things we're trying to do, speaking for myself, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama, is to have a sustained anti-trafficking movement that harnesses all the voices of folks moved to do something about modern-day slavery-and then take that to the next level.
In January 2001, the work of the Clinton administration was continued and intensified by the Bush administration. That's one of the things we're hoping to continue-to harness that activity and commitment on the part of civil society. That can be human rights groups, mission groups, folks in the community, worker organizers, women's groups-all of those groups, each of which brings something to the table. At the end of the day, we're talking sustainability and intensity.
DS: How have things changed since you first got involved?
LCdB: I think about the first case I did in Florida in the mid 1990s as a civil rights prosecutor. To the degree that we even knew about this thing called human trafficking, we could have had a meeting of all the people who were involved in the fight back then and met in a minivan. Maybe a Volkswagen.
Today there is this [understanding] that folks in the non-government sector are just as important to the fight as any dedicated cop or prosecutor. It really has grown past those of us who started working on it [15 years ago]. We're in a good position now, that we're able to tap into the real energy coming not from people who've been working at this for a decade, but people who are just getting involved in the fight.
DS: What do you tell people who hear the horror stories and want to do something about it, but say, "I can't rescue a child from a brothel. What can I possibly do to help?"
LCdB: A lot of people sell themselves short. They say, "I'm not the attorney general, so I can't put together a task force in my state." You can do a lot more than you think. You can go to the AG or your mayor, and say, "Our state should be addressing the root causes of trafficking in our borders. We should be doing something to reduce the demand. We should be helping the newly arrived and vulnerable immigrants, or the street people who are written off as disposable. We not only want, but we demand that trafficking victims be treated professionally."
That's when you start seeing shelters go up, when you start seeing victims being helped and put into places where they can receive help.
There are lots of different ways to get engaged on a grassroots level. Put together a house party and ask people to bring clothes they're no longer wearing so that women and men who are rescued can have something to wear for a job interview. When someone flees through a window, they don't have anything but the clothes the traffickers were making them wear. Having a sweater and a decent skirt can make a difference to them.
DS: When you and Secretary of State Clinton released department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), you said you'd like to add a 4th "P" to the categories of fighting trafficking-partnership. [The other Ps are prosecution, protection, and prevention.] What was behind that suggestion?
LCdeB: A lot of countries see the TIP Report as the U.S. coming to them and saying how bad they are. We wanted to make it very clear by releasing the U.S. government self assessment at the same time that we have people still in bondage right here in the U.S. They're in our agricultural fields; they're in prostitution; they're in many places.
We realize we have to work in partnership with those around the world who are working to stop human trafficking. When President Obama was in Ghana recently, he gave a speech to the parliament and talked about trafficking heroes. He mentioned a journalist in that country who went undercover and helped bring down a trafficking ring.
While the president was in Ghana, I was in Nigeria meeting with cops who work to stop trafficking and with nuns who operate a shelter for trafficking victims. When they heard the president speak, even though he was talking about what was happening in a different country, they felt it was recognizing what they are doing and how hard they are working.
These are the trafficking heroes and we want to work in partnership with them and others who know their own affected populations.