Archive for 2013

Chrismas is Yours, Not Mine and They’re Okay

Christmas is not our holiday.  It just isn’t.  It hasn’t been for over 20 years.  It’s just that simple.   Every year when one of my adult children says to someone who does celebrate the holiday that they don’t, they are invariably asked, “How has that affected you?” making them feel like they have been deprived of something grandiose or that their parents are mean green ogres.

This year has been interesting to listen to their responses.   One said they ‘love’ this time of year because they don’t have to be stressed out like everyone they know trying to buy gifts, getting them wrapped and attending parties.  Another said she has LOVED wrapping gifts at her job knowing she’s helping relieve some of the stress of those who do celebrate!?   Another one said, they’ve never really thought about what they missed because there’s nothing to miss.  The discussion drifted into the conversations they have had with people and not one person ever  mentioned a spiritual connection to the holiday – not one.  And, we live in a town where there’s a church on every corner!

Though I know everyone I saw yesterday meant well when they wished me, “Have a Merry Christmas”, however,  I wonder what they thought when I said, “YOU have a Merry Christmas, our family does not celebrate.”  From their silence, they were dumbfounded.  They were probably thinking,  ‘Who would be so humbug as to not celebrate this holiday of cheer?’  But then, “How has not celebrating Christmas affected the Jews?”

We have never felt comfortable about lying especially to our children about a hopping rabbit that lays chocolate eggs, the little lady with fluttering wings who steals from them while they sleep, or the jolly man from the north pole who flies a sleigh through the sky led by eight wingless mammals with antlers.  Really?  He comes down the chimney?  We don’t even have one!

More than feeling uncomfortable, we realized we would begin a cycle of lying.  With the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, we would be subtly teaching our children when they grew up and realized that they’ve all been a make-believe sham, they would begin to question our authority in knowing truth.  As parents, we wanted to set an example – a lifetime example.

The most important Truth to us is our faith in the God of Israel and the birth, life, death. resurrection, and soon return of Yeshua.  To think that someday our children would doubt Yeshua as the Savior of the world and his Lordship in their lives because we fabricated cutesy games about other beings they couldn’t see, feel, touch, or hear was just not worth the price of their eternal life.   Lies are lies.  Not bearing a false witness is a commandment.  There was someone other than their mommy and daddy who could claim the ‘father of lies.’

Some  may not include Santa and his reindeer in their holiday festivities because they honestly do want to honor the time as Jesus’ birthday.  We also don’t celebrate Yeshua’s  birthday at this time of year.  At one time we did, but then learned that’s another lie based on the lie that ‘we don’t know when he was born.’  When we were made aware of the timing of the Messiah’s birth through Scripture, we were honest with our first two children (4 and 2 at the time – now 26 and 24) about our own deception.  We repented and removed the lie from our lives.   Christmas is not our holiday.   It may be yours and our children are okay.

Back to the original question from a different perspective, “How has not celebrating Hanukkah, Passover or Feast of Tabernacles affected your children, spiritually?”

©2013 Tentstake Ministries

Mammon – god of wealth, materialism

“No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and mammon.”

This deity is found in the New Testament in Matthew 6:19-21.  He is the god of material wealth and greed and is sometimes included in the seven princes of hell along with Lucifer (pride), Beelzebub (envy), and Satan (wrath).   

From the Greek, mamona, mammon means ‘riches’; from the Hebrew mmon, it means wealth, possessions, and money.  It also has the underlying meaning of ‘that in which one trusts.’  In the Scriptures, mammon is personified as a false god representing excessive materialism or greed.   During the Middle Ages, mammon was the god of gluttony, riches, and injustice.

 

What is the Reason for the Season?

Every year we have to listen to the comments of those who embrace this holiday known as Christmas.  Some enjoy the festivities and prepare with excitement and anticipation of ‘the morning of’.  They bake cookies, wrap presents, prepare an ‘advent’ calendar,  trim trees, and wait for Santa Claus to come down the chimney.

Others claim they center the holiday on the “Reason for the Season.” They become stressed and obsessed with shopping, gifts, parties, decorating their house and trees, church activities and extra activities until their Season loses its Reason.   If some unexpected event turns their well-devised plans upside down, they become angry or depressed.   Feelings of inadequacy, unfinished business, an urgency to ‘get it all done’ before that ‘great and glorious morning’ arrives replaces the joy the Messiah brought into the world when He became flesh. I know.  I lived it.  Though I tried and tried to focus on Jesus’ birthday by changing the Advent tree to a Road To Bethlehem, reading more and more daily Scriptures, baking a birthday cake for an absent baby, it just didn’t do away with the trappings of the wrappings.

“In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks,  when an angel of Adonai appeared to them, and the Sh’khinah of Adonai shone around them. They were terrified;  but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord.  Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” Suddenly, along with the angel was a vast army from heaven praising God: “In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!”

“No sooner had the angels left them and gone back into heaven than the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go over to Beit-Lechem and see this thing that has happened, that Adonai has told us about.”  Hurrying off, they came and found Miryam and Yosef, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. Upon seeing this, they made known what they had been told about this child;  and all who heard were amazed by what the shepherds said to them.  Miryam treasured all these things and kept mulling them over in her heart.  Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen; it had been just as they had been told”  (Luke 2:8-18).

Since our family has embraced the Jewish Messiah as the shepherds who were in the countryside,  we stopped celebrating this time of year as anyone’s birthday or holiday season.  It’s no longer ‘our’ holiday and it has no appeal to us, emotionally or spiritually.   It wasn’t a radical decision that happened overnight and BAM, everything Christmas was gone.   It  was a process of letting go of cherished traditions and warm fuzzies.  The change was gentle, loving and led by the Spirit of God.  When we listened to His voice, read His Word, we found it was His desire to separate us from the chaos in the world and the church around us because He was not part of the celebration nor was His beloved Son.

For the past 20 years, we have had a much more relaxed winter season.   Every stress and struggle disappeared when we stopped insisting  the devil was the root of the problem and  realized the Spirit of God was actually trying to deliver our souls from the god of this world, mammon.  We saved  money and our credit cards breathed a sigh of swipe relief.    We now sit back and watch the chaos around us and pray for Christians to truly find the shalom of Messiah in the disordered season that is supposed to be ‘merry.’

We do celebrate Yeshua’s birth.  We do honor God arrival in the flesh of a human being – Immanu’el.   We remember the birth of the risen King of  the Jews, the salvation of the world at the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall, but without any pomp, obsessive gift giving, evergreen trees decorated with silver and gold, endless parties and financial despair.  It is within a sukkah, the Hebrew word for ‘manger’,  and like Miriam, we treasure all of the things that happened with the shepherds in Bethlehem with a vision and hope for the coming Kingdom.

©2013 Tent Stake Ministries

Christmas Myths

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8).

Quotes from well-meaning believers compared to the Word of God.

Meaning of Christmas Tree

“First of all, the fir tree is an evergreen–it does not die or fade away or lose its needles in the winter. In this sense it has soon come to represent the immortality of the resurrected Christ.

“The lights in the Christmas tree also have a deeper meaning. Originally the lights used were candles, of course.  The candles too were meant to symbolize Christ, specifically his self-giving love and gift of life to us. As many of us know, the candle provides light and warmth as it consumes its own substance, the wax. So, too, did Jesus give of his own substance–his life–so that we might find divine light. And when we have found divine light for ourselves, we too are enabled through the power of the Holy Spirit to give of ourselves to others. After all, Christmas is the feast of love, where we share gifts with each other as Christ shared the gift of life with us.

Compare to Jeremiah 10:1-5

“Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is a tree cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”

Meaning of the Candy Cane

“The most obvious symbolism used in the candy cane is its shape. Turned one way, it looks like a “J” for Jesus. The newborn Lamb of God was named Jesus, meaning Savior, because He was destined to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Turned the other way, candy canes remind us of the shepherd’s staff. The first people to hear of Christ’s birth were shepherds guarding their flocks at night (Luke 2:8-20). Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and the Bible frequently compares the actions of the Messiah to those of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, feeding them, gently leading them, and carrying them in his bosom (Psalm 23; John 10:1-18; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Micah 5:4; Hebrews 13:20).”

Compare to Matthew 1:21 where the name of the Messiah is not Jesus, but Yeshua, meaning ‘salvation.’  There is no “J” in the Hebrew language.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Yahweh saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.”

“The sweetness of the candy reminds us that we are fed on the sweet milk of the Gospel of our salvation and peace (Ephesians 1:13; 6:15).”

Compare to Psalm 19:9-11

“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Though the foundation of faith is called the ‘milk of the Word’ in Hebrews, it is not called ‘sweet milk‘ and we are to grow into maturity eating the ‘meat of the word’.    The Word of God, the commandments of God are that meat and are sweet. The decrees of God are compared to honey from the honeycomb, not candy.

The hardness of the candy reminds us that Jesus is our rock of refuge (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:32, 47; 23:3; Psalm 18:2, 31; 28:1; 92:15; 94:22; 95:1; Isaiah 44:8). In rocky lands like Israel, people often sought shelter from their enemies in the caves or rocky crags of cliffs. Rocks also remind us of the solidness of the promises of Christ who is a precious cornerstone and sure foundation to those who follow Him, but a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” to those who reject His gift of peace (1 Pet 2:6-8).

Compare to Zechariah 7:12

They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the Torah or to the words that Yahweh Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.”

Compare to Matthew 13:15

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

Compare to Hebrew 3:7-9

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.”

It would seem that the hardness of people’s hearts keep them from obeying the commandments and living according to the Words of the Spirit from the prophets.

If you want to continue reading about the candy cane, here is the link.  Make your own comparisons with the fabricated stories and the Scriptures regarding the colors of red and white in the candy and the flavor being compared to hyssop.

Santa Claus from Christianity Today

“But what if Christians embraced the Father Christmas myth while rejecting the materialism attached to it? Myths, after all, are time-honored methods of communicating truth through story, and the Santa Claus myth is no exception. (Please, don’t tell me his name is an anagram for Satan. Santa comes from the Latin sanctus, meaning holy or saint. Santa’s name likely evolved from a real person, Nicholas, a Christian man whose extreme generosity helped strangers.) I’d like to propose that teaching children about Santa Claus does not conflict with teaching them about Jesus. In fact, I propose that the Nativity story and the Santa myth may have more in common than we’re prone to believe.

Some stories, such as fables and parables, are not empirically true, but they are true in that they point to realities about God’s world and the human condition. Some stories are empirically true and also communicate this kind of truth. The Nativity story is a perfect example of the latter. The Santa Claus myth is a great example of the former. Santa Claus embodies Christian values such as kindness, generosity, forgiveness—every child soon realizes that even if they have not been perfect all year, Santa comes through. Santa brings gifts to children both deserving and undeserving. While Santa is not a Christ figure—that must be clear—the Santa myth is not the problem. The problem is that we have let advertisers hijack Santa, turning Christmas into a retail event.”

Compare with 1 Timothy 4:7 

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

Compare with 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Compare to Titus 1:14

“Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith  and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.”

This is taught like this: As long as the myths and pagan practices can be Christian-ized, they are okay.  However, anything Jewish that may bring light to Biblical Truth is to be rejected.

©Tentstake Ministries

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