Posts Tagged With: Christmas

The Controversy Over Christmas

This year as we celebrate the Christmas season, I pray for the warmth of family and friends to stir your hearts with love. As usual I’ve been seeing a few comments on devotional and other Christian sites that blast us for participating in the festivities of Christmas. So for the past several years I’ve been posting this piece I wrote several years ago. There is much I could add, but I hope to keep it as brief as possible.

The Controversy

Every year as December 25th approaches, there are increasingly controversial views of Christmas being bantered about. Some say its origins are birthed from paganism and heathen practices. Others say no, it is the celebration of our blessed Savior coming into the world. So who is right? More importantly, Is it wrong for a Christian to celebrate at this time of year? 

The answer to both of these questions is rather obvious if we take the time to consider Jesus’ most elementary teachings on the motives of the heart.

The short answer for the 1st question is BOTH! This is explained in context of the answer to our vital, second question.

There are many fond memories associated with Christmas from my childhood. The bright colorful lights with lovingly wrapped presents around the beautifully glittering tree. Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen. The warmth of a fire in the hearth while the pure white snow banks up on the sides of the house. Family and friends all sharing the spirit of love and togetherness. We had some wonderful celebrations. It was a time of giving and sharing and unity and great joy.

My family attended church regularly, though we had a few relatives who did not. In fact two distant cousins were rather opposed to religion of any form. While my immediate family was attending Sunday services, those two would be launching their second day of a hell raising weekend party. There were times they’d be arrested on Sunday and thrown in jail for breaking the law. That’s certainly not what Jesus would have us do. For we are to obey civil authorities.

Sunday was their favorite day. A day influenced by the alcohol and drugs they’d abused beginning on Friday night. It was great fun for them to carouse and fight, drink and drive, do drugs, curse and have free sex. They loved the party life. It was their god. True pagan practices.

Did what they choose to do on Sunday make my family’s church attendance a pagan activity because it was on the same day? Of course not! Associating a Christian’s celebration of the birth of Christ with pagan worship is ridiculous. Worship is in Spirit and from the heart. And so is our celebrations.

I could choose ANY day and decide to celebrate my salvation in Christ on that particular day. Certainly, somewhere in history that same day will hold some significance by being associated with sinful practices, which are done across the globe year round. The world is filled with such things, and has been since the fall of man in the garden. But my celebration has nothing to do with that.

Yes, I’ve done extensive research on the origins of Christmas. I’m aware of how the date was set. Yet I find that its origins do not matter. The important thing is what is in our hearts and the reason we are celebrating.

Nowhere in the bible are we commanded to celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth. Yet the bible does not forbid it either. It is true that December 25th may not be the actual day of our Savior’s birth. But what difference does that make? We choose a day to commemorate that event and celebrate, just as the angels of heaven celebrated in song and heralded His coming. Out of convenience, there have been years I celebrated my own birthday on a different day than my actual birth.

One thing I’ve learned rather well during my life as a Christian is that those activities which are against God’s will for me to participate in, will invariably come between me and my Lord, rather than draw me closer to Him. Over the years, my love for Christ has truly deepened and I have a greater appreciation for my redeemer as I celebrate His human birth, God’s incarnation. Hmmm. It appears that my celebration of Christmas has deepened my faith, rather than hindered it. That alone is evidence enough for me.

I don’t care at all for the fairy tale aspects of Christmas, with Santa and his mythical flying reindeer. I do not participate in those widespread fantasies. It competes with my Lord. And as a child I felt betrayed when I learned that I’d been deceived about such things. There is nothing mystical about Christmas. Miraculous yes! We serve an omnipotent, all wise God. There is no need to make up stories to fascinate children, or to create magical moments based on lies. The truth is exciting enough. And the love, unity, peace and joy associated with the virgin birth of Christ is even more real! A cause for true celebration!

What does Christmas mean to you? And what are you celebrating? Are you celebrating paganism, Satanism and wickedness? Or are you joyfully praising God for the birth of the redeemer of mankind? Are you celebrating that awesome event some 2000 years ago, when in Bethlehem of Judea, the Son of God was born of the virgin Mary?

When you prayerfully consider these questions, you will know if it is right “for you” to continue your Christmas traditions.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

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The Silent Years

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

It was on an elementary school playground during recess that I first heard the little rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” It didn’t take long to learn the fallacy of that statement. Words can, and do inflict much damage and pain.

There is something else, however, that may have even a more profound impact than words, and that is ‘silence’. One poetess, Phyllis Mc Ginley rewrote that little rhyme to say: “Sticks and stones are hard on bones aimed with angry art. Words can sting like anything, but silence breaks the heart.”

When a loved-one gives us the silent treatment and refuses to speak to us, we can be assured we’ve probably said or done something wrong. That silence can bother us so badly that it awakens a desire to restore our relationship with that person and make things right.

During the four-hundred year interim between the Old and New Testaments, God remained silent. No signs or wonders from heaven, and no communication through prophets—nothing.

The last words of the Old Testament are Malachi chapter 4, which delivers a stern and frightening warning in verse one. Then verses two and three are a gloriously wonderful promise. And then in verse four God gives a direct command. Finally, verses five & six closes the Old Testament with the prophecy of Elijah coming again through John the Baptist. Upon whom the spirit of Elijah rested. Many, myself included believe Elijah will also return to earth bodily as one of the two witnesses for God, during the Great Tribulation.

Four-hundred years is a long time to give mankind the silent treatment. Hunger for a word from God was finally at its apex. That’s when the Lord chose to break the silence. And oh how gloriously He did so! For it was in preparation to fulfill the last two verses of Malachi. And to announce both the forerunner of our Messiah, and the wonderful coming of that Messiah, the long awaited Savior, Jesus the Christ.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah, to announce that he would have a son. He would be John the Baptizer who was to come in the spirit and the power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the people back to God and to herald the coming Christ. Six months after Zachariah’s wife became pregnant with John, the messenger angel, Gabriel visited Mary to deliver the splendid news that she was to be the mother of the God-man, Emmanuel (God with us), Jesus. Her fiancé Joseph was also informed of this coming virgin birth in a dream. What an awesome way to break the silence.

God’s timing was and always is perfect. World events were aligned in just the right way for prophecy to be fulfilled. So that, these happenings would have the greatest impact upon mankind. And what a tremendous impact Christ Jesus has made in our world. His powerful work offers eternal and abundant life, victory over the enemy, and a matchless love that lasts forever.

Today, we may get a little uptight when we can’t seem to hear anything from the Lord. But regardless of that, we can continue to trust that God is faithful. He always delivers on His promises. We can be confident that the Lord is in control and He has our individual situations and circumstances well in hand. God is not bound within time as we understand it. Peter wrote: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

This season as we prepare to celebrate that awesome event when the Christ child was sent into our world, I hope you will take the time to do something a little different.  Before you read the usual Christmas story in the first two chapters of Luke, please read the last chapter of Malachi. Think about the long silence from God, and imagine yourself living your lifetime during that inter-testamental era.

You and I no longer have to hunger for a word from God. We have His complete word in written form, and we also have His Spirit joined with ours to lead, guide and comfort us. We are truly blessed to be living in this age of grace. Emmanuel (God with us) has come. He may have gone back to the Father bodily, but He has not left us as orphans. Remember Jesus parting words to you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

&
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

      (Psalm 46:1b NIV)

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5 NLT)

 

Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

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