Psalm 119- the entire chapter... really
"I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." vs. 7
"I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." vs. 10
"I will rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches." vs. 14
"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me." vs. 18,19
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." vs. 32
"Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." vs. 36,37
Here we go... Paganism, Rome, Saturnalia, and... "Christ Mass" or Christmas
I have to start off by saying a few Pre-Scripts! This will be one of the boldest posts I have written. It will also be one of the most careful. And it will also be the most thought provoking! It is also important. And that is what I hope to do... cause you to think... to wonder... to question. The rest... I leave to Him.
This will be our first year to not celebrate Christmas. I thought it would be hard. It, very surprisingly, is NOT. It is, however, hard for Abby to grasp. And that makes it one of the hardest sacrifices I have ever made out of obedience of conviction.
I also want to state, way early on, that I do not judge or look down on Christmas celebrators. So please don't think that I think or will think any differently toward you. This is something we have decided as a family. I share it because I have been called to share what God is doing in our lives. It is a joy beyond joy to share God's presence in our lives and give Him praise and glory. It also humbles me that it has encouraged others.
As I have mentioned before, my life has changed dramatically this past year. God became VERY real and personal by manifesting Himself through the Holy Spirit and it sparked a hunger in me for His word, truth, and His presence like I have never known before. This opened up conversations and searches for me and I was given a cd on pagan holidays by a friend. This cd opened pandora's box and led me into three to four months of researching things like, "Pagan roots in Christmas," "Why Christians don't celebrate Halloween," "Where Easter Sunday came from," "Where traditional holidays came from," and so forth. I would print and read articles and that would lead me to more searches. I simply have to say I was blown away... shocked... angered... and convicted.
Now I could just stop here. I could just say, "google it". But I won't. There is much more to say. There is a far greater issue at stake. And it's not found in the popular crowd. And it's not found in the tolerance crowd. It's greatly found in the Christian crowd. The problem is "conforming" instead of "transforming". We, Christians, are called to be separate from the world. We are told not to conform to the world's culture but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That transforming leads to change. We are called to be light in darkness. Very early on, way before we were here on earth, Christianity did not conquer paganism... it blended with it... meshed with it... absorbed it... conformed to it's rituals and traditions and has sadly gotten very lost in it. By getting us to conform, satan has taken away much opportunity from us to transform. It is no accident.
There is an author, Jesse Hurlburt, who wrote a book called, "The Story of the Christian Church." He talks about how when Constantine became Emporer of Rome, he became a "kinda" Christian. He was concerned about his Roman Empire. He greatly merged paganism with the Roman Catholic Church. It was political. It was power driven. It was number driven. "The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship." (Hurlburt)
Sound familiar? How many churches do you know that are so worldly they are no different than a local social club... or even worse? It's been one of my biggest complaints for a long time. Many churches are too busy conforming to the world as much as they can, (in hopes to attract and gain people who want nothing to do with changing) without crossing a line... although many do cross many lines, to be transforming anyone. And THAT is exactly what the enemy is so tickled about. It's one of his greatest attacks on the church. We are too meshed with darkness. And by being so meshed into the world... we have lost the very power to transform it. We have lost much of the light that makes us "different".
Have you ever wondered why millions of non-Christians celebrate Christmas? Do you know how many people step foot inside a church twice a year... Christmas and Easter. Why? Why bother? Have you ever wondered where December 25 as Christmas Day came from? It's certainly not in the Bible. "Christmas" is not in the Bible either. There is no "Christmas Story" in the Bible. There is the birth of Jesus story. But the word "Christmas" is not there. The word came from the Roman Catholic Church who started "Christ Mass" and it evolved into "Christmas". And there is no example of early Christians celebrating it.
"Christmas" is nowhere in Bible, but a "Christmas tree" is. Trees were worshiped hundreds of years before Christ was even born. They were cut down, brought inside homes, and decorated to be worshiped.
"Do not learn the way of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols can not speak..." Jeremiah 10:1-5
This caught my interest for sure and led me to find that the religion of Mithraism celebrated the birth of their god, Mithras, on December 25th. They used these trees. It also was all tied to sun god worship and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year... the day with the least amount of light. December 25th, or the winter solstice, was also the day to celebrate the birth of other gods like Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Bacchus, Adonis, Jupiter, Tammuz. Basically, this time of year was MAJOR sun god worship! It was MAJOR pagan festival time. And it was being celebrated way before Christ was even born.
This led me to learning about Saturnalia... yes, based on Saturn... also a god. It was a HORRID Roman festival during the time of winter solstice that lasted for days! Orgies were held under mistletoe and holly and ivy as they worshipped the gods of fertility. Drunkenness was rampant. Crime was allowed and overlooked. It was HORRID. Google it! And THIS is THE pagan festival Rome blended, meshed, and conformed with Christianity and became Christmas. Seriously. THIS was enough for me. I was totally saddened to the core of my being. I had been ignorant... never asking where or why? I was floored.
But then I searched the origins of the symbols and traditions of Christmas. Further shocked. Again. Never asked why these things were used for Christmas... just did it because everyone else did.
Then I did the same on Santa. Same result.
Then I researched "When was Christ really born" and found MUCH biblical, historical, and astronomical information on a fall birth... and some on a February birth... but ALL saying not a December birth. Many Christians will agree they don't think His birthday is December 25... so why celebrate it then? Because the world does.
Then I went to scripture. Because I was SOLD that I was no more to be a part of what I felt was the biggest lie ever pulled over on mankind. I was about to give up my second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving being my number one). And this what I saw:
1. I saw that God is very specific about how he does not want to be associated with idols and other gods.
2. I saw how God struck 3,000 dead when they came to worship Him with a golden calf. Moses had just been given the Ten Commandments and the people (Israelites) waiting at the bottom of the mountain saw Him, saw His presence, and they made a golden calf to offer Him in worship. THEIR HEART was to worship Him. Their HEART was in it for Him. BUT HE WAS NOT PLEASED. This convicted me greatly.
3. I saw one of the most prominent images of Christmas (tree) spoken against in Jeremiah... the ONLY thing close to "Christmas" being in the Bible. Actually, there is scripture in Revelation eluding to the largest Christmas celebration being during the reign of the anti-Christ.
4. I saw how God is HOLY and can not be associated with sin. I saw a holiday that places the celebration of the birth of His son right in the middle of many other pagan gods.
5. I saw numerous instances when the Lord said, "They worship me in vain." God does not accept all worship. It doesn't not matter how we want to worship God... it matters how God wants to be worshipped. Over and over again, people worshipped how they wanted to and God was not pleased.
6. I saw numerous accounts of where we are told not to follow the "traditions of men".
7. We are told to remember and observe his death on the cross (for THAT is what brings life to us) and that is all. We are given examples of the early church observing this... and that is all. It is one of the most sacred and intimate parts of worship.
8. I also saw, after learning how the biblical feasts in the Old Testament (God's Holy Days with specific dates!) correlate directly to Christ in the New Testament, that winter is silent. There is NOTHING during winter. Winter was the time for rest. ("Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts")
In addition to this... I see clearly what Christmas has become. It has become an idol. There is no other way to put it. People spend money they don't have on things they don't need. Christmas is now in the stores before Halloween (another horrid holiday) is even out... begging you to buy... spend... purchase... get more. It is concealed in glitter, bows, beautiful colors, and other distracting and appealing makeup. But it is consumerism. It is greed. It is discontent. It is excess. It is waste. And the money Americans alone spend on one Christmas day... could solve the world's clean water problem... several times over. One country. One day. One major world problem that kills children every four seconds. THAT is distraction from the enemy.
Then there is the argument that "so much good happens during the Christmas season". "People are in the Christmas spirit." Here is my answer. If we were centered on WHO we should be centered on... we would be in THAT spirit, the HOLY SPIRIT, all year long and would not need a pagan holiday to get us in the mood. We would be doing what many do just during this season... all year long. We would be making a major impact on this dark world. We would be drawing people to Christ like bees to honey!THAT is another ploy and distraction of the enemy. THAT is an excuse. Many people who do not know or live for Christ do great things during this season and we all get lumped together. "Christmas" gets the glory... not God. Wow.
I was reading a book the other day. There was a man who had been struggling with pornography. He had been praying for God to help him with this sin. And he had a dream. A naked and beautiful woman was standing right by his bed... taunting him, tempting him, seducing him. He could not understand why he was having the dream and cried out for God. In that instance, the beautiful naked woman turned into a horrible ugly demon... right by his bed... seducing him. His eyes were finally opened to what was REALLY alluring him... seducing him... tricking him... beckoning for him. He never struggled with that sin again. His eyes were opened and he saw it for what it was. Satan.
This is how Christmas looks to me now. I know that is a strong statement. It was the same with Halloween... it all just changed before my eyes. I see past the lights and paper and bows. I see it all as a HUGE distraction (and lie) that occupies our entire winter. I see it as a way Satan has lumped Jesus in with other pagan gods. What greater way to belittle the one and true God... the I AM. Sometimes I see a pretty tree and my heart has a moment of missing my tree... but that is what it is... missing the tree. It is the feeling I miss... and it has nothing to do with Jesus.
Don and I became convicted on the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas a few years ago. We changed how we celebrated it greatly. Gifts were greatly reduced and giving was greatly increased... giving to the needy... not our friends who have more than they need anyway! But I also was convicted a few months ago that we need to become a family of purpose and be "giving" and "serving" each month as a family. We would pick something (World Vision, Children's Hope Chest, local food bank, ect...) and pray for that organization each day, learn about it, volunteer and give to that as a family. I see this ALL as the foundation to what we have just been convicted to do, give up the holiday of Christmas. I see God preparing our hearts years ago and it just blows me away.
We are celebrating winter. We are celebrating this season of rest God created. We are celebrating the birth, death and resurrection of Christ every day of ours by dying to ourselves and letting His resurrected life live through us. We are celebrating and loving Him by seeking Him, being with Him, obeying Him, and seeking His will... not ours. We are learning to walk in the Holy Spirit... and none other.
If you want to read some articles about this, http://www.soundatrumpet.com/christmas.htm is one of the most inclusive ones I have found. It is 27 pages and so I highly recommend printing it. There is also another good one at http://www.realtruth.org/articles/169-ttooc.html But as I mentioned early, just googling questions will give you MANY links to many articles.
It is not my intention to offend anyone with anything in this post. I pray you know my heart. My heart is SOLD OUT to live for Christ, to continue to learn how to die to myself (daily), and to give Him glory and praise for everything in my life. It is also to share what He is doing in our lives. This is a huge thing we are doing, according to the world's view... but really it's not that big. We are not celebrating Christmas but we will ALWAYS celebrate CHRIST. We will always love others, we will always give, and we will strive to ALWAYS be in HIS SPIRIT... letting His light shine all year long.
I love you all very, very much.