Decisions (choose ye this day . . . )

Along with the end of 2014 came my usual thoughts of what I could do differently in 2015. I stopped making resolutions many years ago. Now, I merely take inventory and focus on self-improvement. I like that I don’t have to wait until year-end to do this. It’s an ongoing process that is as welcome in May as in December. Last year (as in last month), was somewhat different. The words fear not came to me repeatedly. After reflecting on the times when these words applied, I finally understood them to be the Lord’s way of reminding me that there was no need to fear if I trusted in Him. Not only were they words of encouragement for last year — these words ushered me into 2015 with confidence and anticipation of a new guide-word to govern me. I tossed words around; but nothing stuck. Last week, I came across two things. One gave me my word for 2015. It is decisions. On January 2, I listened to Dr. Todd Hall share the meaning of this word for those who would lay hold of it in 2015. The second was a challenge to share the one word that would be my guide-word for the year. I thought this was a good way to keep the word before me. In each post, I’ll expound on what affects our decisions and how they shape our lives. As long as Christ is the head of my life and His will shapes my will, my decisions will be pleasing unto Him. The key is using scripture to interpret scripture. Nothing in God’s Word is open to human interpretation.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

Everything rests on the admonition to “. . . choose ye this day . . . ” Allowing these words to reverberate throughout our minds, we are more likely to:

  • follow God’s plan for our lives
  • receive grace to bear hurts and wrongs
  • receive blessings beyond what we can imagine

Fear Not

Q_Fear_Not copy

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17 KJV)

Soundness of mind is a most virtuous gift from God.  A thing that zips right past others has a way of taking up residency in my mind until He gives me spiritual clarity about it — until I have understood “the thing.”

The New Year is a time of reflection for me.  If I could use two words to sum up God’s desire for me in 2014 — what He wanted me to finally grasp — they would be, Fear not .  Time after time, I found myself on the other side of seemingly insurmountable circumstances — shaking my head in humbled adoration of the power of the Hand of God.

The words, fear not were spoken many times throughout God’s Word when His people didn’t know what to make of a thing. And those are the two words I have finally lain hold of.  Now the only thing I anticipate is how He will restore order.  You know, that’s what He does when we fear not.

♛ Keep Calm — ChristMass is Older Than ✞ Christ

Keep_Calm_Christmas copyWhat if you found out that Christmas predates the birth of Christ? Not the word — the celebration. The word has roots in Catholicism. Compounded from the words, “Christ” and “Mass,” the first recorded use of the English word for “Christmas” was in 1038 A.D. when a book from Saxon England used the words “Cristes Maesse” in the text. The celebration, however, is connected with the pagan holiday known as, “Saturnalia.” You will find many references that relate Christmas to Saturnalia, which was first observed in 150 B.C. Then, in the 4th century, the holiday was renamed Christmas to assure Christians that it was acceptable to celebrate it.

Considering the controversial nature of this topic, let me clarify that I believe:

There are many other objections to Christmas including familiar concepts regarding the birth of Christ, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, holly, garland, gift-giving, etc. Though relevant, these are secondary to my interest. And, rather than delve into the details surrounding Saturnalia (and other facts concerning the celebration of Christmas), my first order of business will be to study the Holy Bible to establish a firm foundation on which to base any further study.

I can tell you, though, that the renaming of the pagan holiday was the Catholic church’s way of enticing Christians to join in with the Druid’s celebration of Saturnalia.

Does Christ approve the celebration of Christmas? You decide after reading where Jesus speaks on teaching as doctrine ; and God warns against adopting pagan worship customs .

  • From The Real Truth: “The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth [emphasis mine}. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. . . .”
  • From Christmas Before Christ: The Surprising Truth!” : The early Catholic theologian and writer Tertullian (A.D. 155-230) was a convert from paganism. He wrote numerous works defending Christianity as he understood it, combatting contrary teachers and giving exhortation to fellow believers. In one he described how the Christian converts of his day were already ignoring the biblical Sabbath day and festivals and flocking to the pagan Roman winter festivals, such as the Saturnalia, which honored the god Saturn: . . .

Considering the abundance of web references on this topic, I am confident that Christians are aware of these facts. But many continue to struggle with separating truth (God’s word) from — let’s face it — fiction (traditional practices). Think about it. Are you observing Christ’s birth or are you celebrating tradition?

I used to be highly offended by signs and greetings that replaced Christ’s name with an X. I recoiled at any variation of the word, “Xmas.” And did not hesitate to remind offenders that, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. Since I learned about the true origin of Christmas, however, it is no longer an issue — because, contrary to popular belief, Jesus Christ was never in it to begin with.

So my position is if, after confirming the information presented here, you wish to continue celebrating a holiday of pagan origin — simply leave Christ’s name out of it. Truth mixed with error is still a lie. And we know who God calls, “the father of lies.” Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44 KJV)

To separate from the paganism associated with ChristMass, the Christian should (1) refrain from celebrating anything on December 25; and (2) focus his observance on the teaching ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus rather than His birth; and (3) ascribe a scriptural name to his observance.

Maya_Angelou_SpeakingI could never deny the wonderful memories of Christmases past. My family’s traditions of candle-light services, carols, and gift-giving — along with the merriment of meal preparation and social gathering with immediate and extended kin are forever etched in my memory. And the truths I’ve learned about Christmas can never erase them. But, the beloved Maya Angelou who departed us earlier this year, could not have said it more plainly — “. . . When you know better, do better.” And I guess being a non-conformist helps. I’ve never had a problem adapting to change — with the exception of driving in Texas, that is. There’s still something in me that wants to teach Texas drivers how to execute a proper left turn!

No doubt many have happened upon this information and chosen to look the other way. But the fact that church leaders have chosen to look the other way is what really bothers me. There are those among Christendom who order their lives according to what they hear from the pulpit. And Romans 10:14 (KJV) does tell us, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

But, there are those who will take the pastor’s word as gospel rather than read the Bible for themselves. We are to follow Christ and what He reveals to us in His Word and through the Holy Spirit. Instead, many are content to form their belief systems solely on the words of their respective Reverends, Pastors, and Bishops.

The Christmas You Don’t Know Includes a detailed timeline of events related to Christmas. For the purposes of this post, I’ve extracted entries from 150 B.C. to the 21st century. I found some interesting references among the 19th and 20th century entries. Most of these popular references are secular in nature:

21st Century: Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas

20th Century:
1957 – Little Drummer Boy published
1947 – Glass Christmas Balls mass-produced
1942 – White Christmas released
1939 – Rudolph debuts
1929 – First flight of flying Santa

19th Century:
1857 – We Three Kings published
1856 – First White House Christmas Tree
1843 – First Christmas Carol
1836 – Alabama First State to Observe Christmas
1823 – The First Noel published
1823 – Visit from St. Nick published

18th Century:
1773 – Santa mentioned in newspaper for first time

For the record, I am a Southern Baptist — with a Reformed Baptist mindset. My church’s negligence to address this topic (and another — freemasonry) is an issue for me.

✍ Be it Resolved

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Be Resolved.”

Rather than New Years resolutions — what about daily improvements? Do they count? And do they have to be called resolutions ? KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAnd do they have to be proclaimed publicly ? I try to make corrections as soon as I realize there’s a problem. I don’t think anyone does this; but the whole idea of New Years resolutions suggests that that’s the only time improvements can be made.

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.
Cavett Robert

I think I stopped making resolutions a few years after I realized my sister’s observation about me was right. She teased me about my habit of making resolution amendments. “You always say you’re gonna do something by Christmas .” Of course we laughed about it. But as soon as she said it, I knew she was right. It took me a while — as I caught myself stopping short of using Christmas as my deadline. If she were here, we would still be laughing about it. In fact, I’m smiling as I remember that the year-end holiday of Christmas was my mark for everything that needed to be done.

So, not only did I make resolutions. I amended the ones I had managed to actually keep with other improvements I thought needed to be made that year. I guess I tried the failed resolutions again the following year. Crazy . . . The mere mention of New Years resolutions can elicit a smirk and head-shake reaction from me. It’s actually pretty amusing to read other people’s resolutions as I think, “Did they actually wait until New Years to figure out they needed to make that change?”

Being my own worst critic, I’m happy to make self-improvements as the realizations arise. No, I do not make New Years resolutions. But I do look forward to reading other peoples’. It’s amusing to see that we all need to make similar adjustments.

I do, however, wish you a Happy, Prosperous, and Safe New Year.

To Be Resolved

The Year-End Holiday Season – 2014

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Getting Seasonal.”

The Holiday Season? My attitude toward the end-of-year holidays has, indeed, changed over the years. In a nutshell, I’m unfazed by it all. Let’s start with Thanksgiving. I’ve always known that it falls on the 4th Thursday in November. Recently, I found out why. In 1939, FDR gave in to the pleas of retailers and moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. The reason was to lengthen the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas so that people could spend more money Christmas shopping. Don’t believe me? Read about it here A simple Google search will return many similar articles. These are just articles I selected for this post. Two-Day_Doorbuster - CopyThere was a time, when my son was younger, that I would arise at 0:dark:30 on “Black Friday” to be among the earlybirds to snag a bargain or two for Christmas gifts, decorating items or whatever. Earlybirds greeted one another and discussed what we hoped to find, compared notes about where to shop for what. Fast forward to 2014; and both the consumer and retailer greed level intensifies greatly. Stores are now open on Thanksgiving Day to lure the most eager shoppers. Public outcry of late has been for the boycotting of retailers who open on Thanksgiving because by doing so, they are taking their employees away from their families. People begin camping out weeks before Thanksgiving to be first in line for “doorbusters” which are another greed tactic of retailers. Consumers are aware of this tactic; and now know they have to be one of the first ones in line because the store has only stocked a few of the doorbuster items. It’s a hot mess dot com. It was several yeaDoorbuster - Copyrs ago that I became disenchanted with the gross commercialism and revelry of what I believed, at the time, to be a sacred holiday. I don’t get caught up in the shopping, buying or expecting gifts. And once it finally dawned on me to question the giving of gifts to each other on Jesus’ birthday, I never got an answer that made sense to me. So celebrating in this way, just as Christmas Day itself, has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. (More about that in a post I’m writing for this weekend.) Of course I’ll be happy to spend the holiday known as Christmas with my family — many of whom don’t bother to display anyyears-text.2jpg acknowledgement of Jesus or His birth. And, I will say this. During the days when I shopped frantically through Christmas Eve, I had a great appreciation for the stillness of space and time that enveloped Christmas Day. There’s a peace that seems to abound when the world stands still. Most businesses are closed. Even though I really don’t immerse myself into all the hoopla like I once did, I still appreciate this blessed silence. And I’ll be happy for those who can finally collapse from all the frenzy and return to their senses and business as usual. When it’s over, it will be over; and the world will be set back on its axis. Then we can prepare for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

<a href="">Getting Seasonal</a>