Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas Carols and the Message

I grew up celebrating Christmas and singing all the the familiar Christmas carols.  It has been many, many years since those days. However, while shopping recently I heard two and the familiar words made me stop and think.

The first was the third verse, I believe, of “Joy to the World.”  “He rules the world with truth and grace ….”  I pondered why all I ever hear from those celebrating this holiday is the grace part and nothing about the truth.  What has happened that the truth of His Word has been forsaken for His grace?  After all, Jesus prays to his Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your Word, Your word is Truth.”  With only grace, His rule is incomplete.

The second song ended with “born is the King of Israel.” Though I do not believe that Jesus was born at this time, many sing this song with great sincerity.  But as one pastor I knew said a long time ago, you can be sincere, but sincerely wrong.  Apart from that, who actually is the King of Israel and how should His culture, His people and His Scriptures affect one’s walk of faith and one’s understanding of, well, the whole Bible.

As these songs are sung in churches around the world at midnight services by those whose hearts are hopefully filled with joy and peace (there’s a lot of stressed out Christians who claim this holiday ),  I hope and pray that maybe some eyes and ears would be opened to the true identity of the King of Israel, the Jewish Messiah Yeshua,  and the foundation for His coming Kingdom, His Father’s commandments.  I hope the carols sung are not just rote, as they can so easily become, but pierce the hearts and minds of some who sing them because the realities of truth with grace and the King of Israel, apart from the doctrines embraced, should be empowering and life changing from the heart.   They have been for me. 

 

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

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

The Night Before Christmas Poem

This was posted by Passion For Truth Ministries and ‘says it all.’

Twas the night before Christmas; and strange as it seems
I wasn’t indulging in covetous dreams;
But reading my Bible, I searched for a clue
Why Christians take part in this holiday too.

I plainly could see that it carried His name,
But the spirit behind it just wasn’t the same.
The songs spoke of wise men, of virgin and child,
Of shepherds, of God, and all men reconciled;

But nothing was said of the blood and the cross;
Of repentance, and faith, and of counting the cost.
They sang of the babe, His miraculous birth,
But not of the day when He’ll judge the whole earth.

My Bible said nothing of Santa, or toys,
Of Frosty the Snowman, and small drummer boys.
A reference to Rudolph not once did I see.
But it seems Jeremiah did mention the tree.

I sat and I pondered this curious matter,
When out on the roof there arose such a clatter
That I knew in a moment he soon would be here;
So I prayed in the Spirit and stood without fear.

He slipped down the chimney, quick as a flash,
And stepped from the fireplace all covered with ash.
There stood St. Nick with his bag and his beard,
He looked at the Bible I held, and he sneered,

“Another fanatical Christian, I see;
No stockings; no holly, no pictures of me.”
I asked him if Jesus was God in the flesh,
He said that was something he couldn’t confess.

He said, “I am Santa, I come from afar.”
I stood in the truth – “The Devil you are.
That suit and that beard doesn’t fool me one bit.
Your jolly deception is straight from the pit.

Beneath all your Ho Ho Ho’s Lucifer lurks;
With your all-seeing eyes and your gospel of works
Like a thief in the night you impersonate Christ,
Returning to judge the naughty and nice.”

“So call Christmas pagan,” he said, “That’s O.K.
‘Cause that’s what my sons at the Watchtower say.
You’ll look like a pagan or like a deceiver,
But none will suspect you to be a believer.”

I said, “I don’t care what your servants will say,
My loyalty lies with the Ancient of Days.
No matter how many abuses are hurled,
My Bible says be not conformed to this world.

You have no power, and no part of me,
So I stand on God’s Word, and command you to flee.”
He squealed like a pig that was stuck with a knife.
He ran to the chimney and climbed for his life.

And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Merry Xmas to all, and a long, dark night.”

– Unknown

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