Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Thoughts


‘Tis the season to be jolly’.   Hmmm.  The older I get, the less jolly I feel at Christmas time.  It seems the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, is slowly being pushed aside to make room for all the commercialism that now dominates this holiday.  I don’t like it.

There has also been a lot of skepticism over the past few years about the roots of the celebration of Christmas, and so I decided to investigate it myself.  It seems that Christmas, initially called the Saturnalia Festival, started as a pagan holiday.  Romans adopted it with hopes of turning people to Christianity.

From “Christmas, the Real Story”

          In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.
          The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

     For the complete article, go to: http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

I know there are numerous Christians who have chosen to forego Christmas because of these origins.  I have thought long and hard about this scandalous past and have decided that I don’t want to give up the celebration of the birth of our Savior because of its shady beginnings almost 2000 years ago.  If we give up on Christmas, we will lose the most valuable opportunity of the year to reach out to others to share the gospel story.  As rapidly as Christian rights are being removed, we must keep Jesus’ birthday alive for as long as we can.  It doesn’t matter when it happened; the story needs to be told.

Besides, I don’t think Jesus would have overlooked an opportunity to tell the good news, especially to a group of worldly people who didn’t follow Him.  He would have been the first to invite the pagan celebrators of Saturnalia to His house for a birthday party.

There are many, now, in our society, who live these holidays far from the truth, as the pagans did, but we can’t allow that to blemish what we know to be the reason for the season.

Sure, we can become overwhelmed at the worldly celebration, but we have the right to decide how we spend our time during this season.  We can choose to not get caught up in the excessive spending and busyness that easily engulfs us and distracts us from the birth of Jesus. 

What a wonderful time to reach out to the needy or to share the good news with those who have discounted it.  We are all in a giving and receiving mood this time of year, so let’s not discard these golden opportunities to share the story of Jesus.  Besides, it’s much easier to spot the naysayers, during the holidays, who want to take away our rights to display a nativity scene or sing Christmas carols.   Those are the people we need to reach out to the most.

What’s important is that we continue to observe this momentous occasion.  The world will always add their own spin to what we do as Christians.  We can’t allow that to interfere with the truth of why we celebrate Christmas.  If we do, then the enemy has won.  He doesn’t want the story of Jesus known.  He will always try to make us doubt what we know to be the truth.  He will keep us busy following the customs of the world and miss the importance of this day.  Choosing to give up Christmas because of its origins is succumbing to the legalism of religion that Jesus detested.

I visited my mother’s church this week, and they showed a video of a flash-mob at a crowded mall breaking out in Christmas carols.  It was awesome!  People stopped everything they were doing and joined in.  Two actors dressed as Mary and Joseph walked out carrying an infant during Silent Night, and everyone in that mall got down on their knees.  It still brings tears to my eyes as I write about it.  The traditions and music we have passed down for generations are a powerful force behind the importance of this holiday.  We can’t ever forget that. 

Christmas is not about celebrating on the exact date that Jesus was born; it’s about telling the miraculous story about the birth of our Savior who was sent to save the world..  



 Matthew 1:23, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us’.”





Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Women Don't Say What They Mean

Below is a brief interaction between two married men concerning communication with their wives, taken from the book "Twelve Lies Women Tell Their Husbands" by Tim and Sheila Riter.

_______________________________

"Hey man, you're late.  Anything wrong?" Sweat dripped off Alex after fifteen minutes on the treadmill.

"Dude, you wouldn't believe it. But then, you're married, so maybe you will." Don stepped onto the adjoining treadmill and started running.

"I got home from work today and grabbed my gym clothes like I do every Tuesday. Shontell seemed distant, like she'd had another bad day at work. Her boss has been putting a lot of pressure on her to finish that condominium project, and I'm kinda concerned. The baby's due date is still four months away, but I just don't want her to feel any unnecessary stress.

"So I go up to her, give her a hug, and ask if anything's wrong.' No, I'm fine, just fine.' So I told her she could talk to me; I'm her husband. Know what I heard? 'Go. Just go. You're late for your workout with Alex.'

"So I went! But I know I'm going to hear it when I get back. I don't have a clue if it's something wrong at work, or if I did something, but I know it's not over yet."

"Man, why can't women just come out and say what they mean? Danielle does the same thing. We had our tenth anniversary a few weeks back, remember? So a few weeks ahead, I asked her what she'd like to make it special. I'd saved up some extra money just to do it right. She said, 'Just surprise me! The greatest gift is our marriage.'

"I remember I'd heard her talking to a friend about this bed and breakfast inn down the coast. A little pricey, but nice. So I made the reservations, let her know the kind of clothes to bring, and surprised her. She said all the right things, how nice it was, how I surprised her, but her heart didn't seem to be in it.

"I asked her what was wrong, and she kept saying, 'Nothing.' Finally, the last day there, she told me she really had her heart set on a new wedding ring. How was I supposed to know that? She's never said anything about a new ring. Man, I can't figure out women. They just don't say what  they mean. They hint, and they want you to read their mind. Then you try to, and you get crucified. Why can't they just tell us straight?"
________________________________________

Oh, I feel the frustration of these two gentlemen, and I can sheepishly recall too many similar incidents in the past between my husband and me.  How in the world does this happen?

I think a major problem for me, as probably most other women, is that sometimes I really don’t KNOW what I want or KNOW what is bothering me, ESPECIALLY when I’m emotionally out of sorts.  It could be a myriad of issues that, on their own, don’t cause discomfort.  But compound them with other factors that silently creep up, and I suddenly feel overwhelmed. 

Rick may say  to me, “Honey, is there something wrong?” and I might blurt out one thing that’s bothering me.  As I walk away, I realize that may  not be the core issue that I’m struggling with; it’s something else - a second issue.  Rick, then, is focusing on that first issue to try to help.  No wonder he gets confused when he comes to me with a solution, and I give him that “You’re such an idiot” look because I’ve moved on to thinking about the third issue that’s affecting me.

It’s as though we women carry a bag of garbage around with us.  When things are going well, we don’t need to open the bag.  But when our emotions are running  high and someone offends us with their words, or our husbands neglect to notice something that’s important to us, or (fill in the blank with hundreds of other reasons), we open up the whole bag and air it out.  Not only do we dwell on the here and now issue, but also on everything from the past that we haven’t resolved and still carry with us.  We don’t always know what’s at the core of our hurt because our emotions are so intertwined with all our problems.

As husband and wife, we often share in an unhealthy communication “dance.”  It is important to recognize what doesn’t work and join together to figure out what does work.


Monday, September 19, 2016

What Happened to Faith?

Faith seems to be a rare commodity in our country.  Is it any wonder, though, that we have lost faith when we look at the state of our society?

We’ve lost faith in a government that once governed “for the people, by the people.” It has become greedy for power and control – unconcerned for the needs of the people.

 We’ve lost faith in the values that once resonated strongly in the hearts of our country.  Now, there is no right or wrong.  It’s all about what works for “me.”

We’ve lost faith in a justice system that once ruled fairly and just but is now influenced by the power of money.

We’ve lost faith in a healthcare system that has over-inflated the cost of care while under-inflating the quality.

We’ve lost faith in a banking system that once looked out for its customers but now crushes their dreams for the almighty dollar.

We’ve lost faith in the security of jobs because it’s become too expensive for employers to higher full-time employees.

We’ve lost faith in our welfare system because too many people just don’t want to work.

We’ve lost faith in churches that sugar-coat the truth to bring in numbers.

We’ve lost faith in the value of babies.  Too many believe that if they can’t see it, it must not be real.  They call it the right to choose.  It explains why many can’t grasp the concept of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” 

We’ve lost faith in the institution of marriage because it’s easier to bail out then to put forth the effort required for a healthy marriage.   

It saddens me how our country has turned its back on God.  He once made us the greatest nation in the world, but our lack of faith in Him has disintegrated us to a state of mediocrity. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the enemy trying to pull me down in the faithless pit of fear, depression, disbelief and doubt.  It’s a vicious cycle we get caught up in.  The more dismal the world looks, the more difficult it becomes to keep the faith.

I refuse to ride that cycle anymore.  I believe that God still desires for us to have healthy marriages, healthy lives, healthy careers and a healthy government.

2 Chronicles 7:14 -“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Please join me in prayer for our marriages, our country, and our faith.  We can heal this land and our marriages if we turn to God with faith only as small as a mustard seed, but mighty enough to move mountains.