Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas is NOT a pagan holiday

I'm more and more convinced that rejecting Christmas as a pagan holiday simply because it replaced a pagan holiday is very wrong. As I said on my other blog about this a few days ago, it is Christ overcoming the world when this happens, quite the opposite of paganism being honored. The paganism is no longer there, Christ has conquered it. There is no one who celebrates Saturnalia on Christmas any more, or if there are some they are out on the fringe and have nothing to do with Christmas anyway.

Likewise, there is no one who celebrates Ishtar on Easter either. Perhaps it should be Passover instead but that's a controversy I'm not going to get into. Easter is now the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Until the owlish ones got all het up about the meaning of the term "Easter" most of us had no idea about its pagan origins and we were better off when we didn't. It's the Lord's resurrection now, that's how people experience it, that's what's in people's minds and hearts and I have to think God knows it and therefore accepts it.

Some Christians also deal with the pagan holiday of Halloween by substituting harvest concepts. Perhaps we should make it an all-out Day of the Harvest of Souls anticipating the Lord's return. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do with a pagan holiday that we can't participate in.

It's a superstition to make so much out of the bare historical fact when what matters to God is what is ACTUALLY going on in people's minds and hearts -- THAT is what is ACTUALLY being celebrated. The ancient meaning of the date is now meaningless. Nobody would even remember it if it weren't for those who are trying to stumble us over it. It's just another day and if we celebrate Christ on that day then it is Christ's day, not some pagan god's.

I happened to hear R C Sproul talking on this subject over the radio recently. I couldn't find the actual talk online but I did find this brief essay by him on the same subject:
Is the Celebration of Christmas a Pagan Ritual?
from R.C. Sproul

That question comes up every year at Christmastime. In the first place, there’s no direct biblical commandment to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. There’s nothing in the Bible that would even indicate that Jesus was born on December 25. In fact, there’s much in the New Testament narratives that would indicate that it didn’t occur during that time of year. It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.”

I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year.
However, if the consciences of some tell them for the sake of Christ not to celebrate Christmas it seems to me that should be respected, according to scripture:
Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
At the same time they ought to respect those who do celebrate Christmas for the sake of Christ since in our minds there is nothing pagan about it at all, and stop trying to prove that we're really celebrating something pagan. We're not and the accusation only distresses people who are also members of the body of Christ.

Jesus owns every day on the calendar and should be celebrated on every day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Messiah, words and some of the music.

C H R I S T M A S!

Handel, MESSIAH:




The lyrics to Messiah, all straight from the Bible:



RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Tenor) Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness:-Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

AIR (Tenor)
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

CHORUS And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Bass)
Thus saith the Lord of Hosts:-Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

AIR (Bass) But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire.

And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

(Alto) Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name immanuel, God with us.

AIR (Alto) and CHORUS O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain: O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold you God! Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Bass)
For Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

AIR (Bass) The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.


RECITATIVE. (Soprano) There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Soprano) And lo! the angel of the Lord cam upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.

(Soprano) And the angel said unto the, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Soprano) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:-

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

AIR. (Soprano)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee! He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen.

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

AIR (Alto)
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

AIR (Alto)
Come unto Him, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

His yoke is easy and His burthen is light.


Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

AIR (Alto)
He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting.

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows! He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And with His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied -Tenor)
Thy rebuke hath broken His heart; He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort Him.

AIR. (Tenor)
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Soprano)
He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken.

AIR (Soprano)
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.

Unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?

Let all the angels of God worship Him.

AIR. (Bass)
Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

The Lord gave the word, great was the company of the preachers.

AIR. (Soprano)
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.

Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world.

AIR (Bass)
Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and who do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed.

Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us.

He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.

AIR (Tenor)
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!

*Part III*

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though worms destroy this body yet, in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep.

Since by man came death,

By man came also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die,

Even so in Christ shall all be made alive

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Bass)
Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

AIR. (Bass)
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on

Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; Death is swallowed up in victory!

DUET (Alto and Tenor)
O death, where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

AIR (Soprano)
If God be for us, who can be against us? who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
__ Amen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Communications from the Lord far more believable than experiences of heaven

Scott Johnson told these stories in his report for December 16: one about a listener of his who had just lost her daughter, and the others about the deaths of his own parents.

The audio stories.

The PDF to the stories.

The link to the listener's You Tube song .

These three stories all involve coincidences and symbolic events that are far more convincing to me as communications coming from the Lord than any of the visits to heaven I commented on in recent blog posts here. These are events of a sort that many Christians have experienced many times, often in connection with the death of a loved one, or in general when reassurance is needed -- or just as a reminder of His presence or a token of His love. It's one way the Lord Jesus communicates to us. It's very touching when He does it, reminding you that you are His, that your loved ones are His.

And HE is the communicator in all these instances, in fact He is the message itself, whereas in the "heaven" stories it's almost as if He's an afterthought or just part of the furniture. He's there in the scene, some bogus version of Him anyway, but He's not the whole point of Heaven as in reality He would be.

In these cases reported by Scott Johnson they pretty clearly came from Him for the purpose of reassuring the survivors that the person who died is safely home with Him. No visits to Heaven, although there was one event sort of like a vision seen by two people, but otherwise just touching coincidences that add up to meaningful communication for those who belong to Him.

I think I'll just add one of my own experiences of this sort of coincidence although it's nothing compared to the stories told above, and didn't involve anybody's death. On my fiftieth birthday -- a LONG time ago now -- a friend left a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep. The bouquet contained specific flowers that had special meaning to me as representing my family and me, along with a palm leaf which of course represents the Lord Jesus Himself. An odd bouquet, not exactly standard: Tiger lilies, carnations, tiny white daisies and the palm leaf. I immediately knew it was from Him because of what each of those flowers signified to me, about which my friend hadn't the slightest clue -- she'd simply picked up the bouquet in the floral department at the market.

When I was a child my father told me that tiger lily was his favorite flower. I suppose he made up a favorite flower to humor me but I drew pictures of tiger lilies on birthday cards I made for him for years from then on. I'd never seen a tiger lily so I had to find pictures in books, and in fact I don't think I ever saw a real one until I was grown -- I almost want to say until that bouquet but I'm not sure of that. The carnation happened to be my favorite flower at the time of my 50th birthday, as I'd gotten into the habit of buying one or a few at the market to put on the table just for myself. The rest of the story is that I had woven tiny daisies into my daughter's hair for a dance performance when she was six, and they've represented her to me ever since. There's no meaning beyond the flowers representing me and my family, three generations, and nobody would have known any of this except me. And with the palm leaf it was like all of us being gathered under His wing. My father died without Him as far as I know -- that was years before I became a believer -- but I still took the tiger lily as symbolic of my whole family with him as its head, and all in the Lord's hands according to His will. It was like He was right there with me as I thought about the meaning of the flowers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More on the unbiblical nature of experiences of "Heaven"

I read through some of the reviews of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven at Amazon and one in particular, a 3-star review by D. Graeber gave enough specifics to strengthen the opinion I expressed two posts below. Few of the reviews give any of the description of heaven at all and some complain that very little was actually said about heaven. But this review details enough of what was said to be able to judge it by scripture, and by scripture it fails:

3.0 out of 5 stars
Title is misleading, December 4, 2010
By D. Graeber "pshdsa" -

This review is from: The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World (Hardcover)

The Title makes you think that inside this book is a first person account of heaven and all that is inside. The book is by the boy's Dad about his son. The boy is very reluctant to talk about his experiences in heaven and makes it a big secret that he cannot share. Still, enough leaks out despite this reluctance that raises a few eyebrows. Now given the tragedy of the accident and the awful suffering the boy had to endure, there is a natural desire to believe everything the boy says about his trip to heaven to talk to God.

Still, truth should endure scrutiny.

Alex claims God looks like a person, only bigger. He says some angels are only two feet high. He says you have to make your spirit transparent to see and talk with angels. He says that the new heaven is already created and is in another place right now. He says there is a hole in the outer part of heaven that leads down to hell. He says the devil has three heads and looks decrepit.

All of these claims are extra-biblical. That in itself is reason for alarm.
God is a spirit and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen nor can see, and is our shield and exceedingly great reward. Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man.

I know that seeing Jesus is a mind blowing experience that surpasses everything. He eclipses angels, archangels, cherubim, everything. Nothing compares to Him. He is the full and complete answer to everything we face in life or will face. His glory surpasses any light we can think or see now. This is entirely missing in this book. Instead, way too much preoccupation with angels, and Alex. What are angels if you have seen the glory of Jesus? I sure don't see this reaction in this book. That is impossible if you have seen the Lord.

Right on, D. Graeber. That does it for me.

The devil has no scruples. He is only too happy to use a small child to promote his program of deceit, even the horrendous story of the suffering of that child and his family. All to manipulate the compassion of readers and make it harder for anyone to think critically about the story.

I can only wonder what's wrong with the supposedly Christian publishers of these books that they haven't the discernment to know they are sending out a counterfeit message, and with the majority of the commenters at Amazon that they accept it so uncritically.


Many think the book will lead people to Christ. What Christ might that be, pray tell? Oh yes, perhaps a few might actually make their way to the true Christ from such a false start, stranger things have happened, but that would only be because of God's mercy, not because of anything in the story itself.

I got to Christ from first believing some Hindu gurus about the nature of God. Had quite a winding road to go from there, although God took me down that road pretty rapidly considering how many different beliefs I had to get through before I reached my destination -- but that's not exactly the normal way people come to Christ and encountering a deception supported by supposed Christians doesn't bode well.