It was the morning of the first day of the year (according to the calendar of course) and I had slept for over seven hours in one go! I had retired to bed around nine-thirty but didn’t nod off until after ten. E asked me if I had been disturbed by the fireworks being set off by neighbours celebrating the new year. Well I hadn’t as I was fast asleep. It must be around forty years or more since E and I paid any attention to the passing of the old year into the new. We are of the opinion that it is just another excuse for getting drunk. Be that as it may I never arise from my bed with a hangover these days having given up on alcohol some years ago and certainly never on new year. After breakfast I had made up my mind to finish off the painting in the cellar, that is wherever it needed a coat of white emulsion. To that end I stayed down there for three hours and had it almost completed. There only remained a small area not reachable with the small set of steps I was using and I didn’t wish to get the taller steps from the garage just for that. I would tackle that the next day instead as I would still have to retouch some of the white paint anyway. I include these two pictures which don’t look too much different from those I posted a day or so back though in fact the stairwell had just been completely painted with its final coat.
All the doors in the hallway now had their signage returned and each had been retouched with white paint where necessary. The small storeroom to the right of the steps which had been my previous project had its door completely repainted again for the third and final time. All this was done that morning. The next day I would hopefully paint the then presently blue door frames in red.
5 ‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?
6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?
Traditions have great value because they preserve the values and teachings of the past. They remind us of things we might otherwise forget. While living in a foreign land, surrounded by a foreign culture and language, the Jews could have easily forgotten the important events of their history. Future generations could have missed out on how significantly God had dealt with their ancestors. But the Jews used rituals and traditions to avoid historical ignorance. They commemorated the past so they would not forget the lessons learned.
Unfortunately, the rituals “fossilized” over time. People drifted into celebrating the form but forgetting the reality behind it. Their fasting appeared meaningful but had no inner substance. When this or something similar happens, a worship activity becomes an empty ritual or, even worse, a ritual with the wrong meaning attached to it. Often this can occur as a slow erosion of values—a process that eventually destroys the good others intended.
Taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible
Do you remember what Christmas is all about? As we approach the ‘Season of good will’ many will simply remember it is a time to indulge, overeat and drink too much because that is what they do every year. No thought is given to the reason the Christmas Day celebration was instituted in the first place. It was instituted in an effort to remind people to remember their Saviour and to discourage them from turning back to paganism. Today there is still a struggle against unbelief and false religion. Christmas is celebrated by Christians throughout the world but also by those who don’t believe and for all the wrong reasons.
So then here we are again on the brink of another new year and what have we done. John Lennon asked that same question some years ago in his song ‘So this is Christmas‘. Did you think about the question then? One of the things I tire of about the perpetual merry-go-round we in the western world ride each year is that nothing ever changes. It isn’t so much the things which people cling to in order to keep up with the Jones’ or follow like sheep in the tradition of others else feel left out, no, it is more the stupidity of their mindset. We are after all free spirits are we not? Why then is there the need to do anything because others do it? We can think for ourselves, do as we please (within the constraints of a civilised society of course) and live how we wish, it is entirely a free choice. No-one pressures anyone else into doing something they really don’t want to do you would think but often the opposite is true. The bland statement of ‘Oh well we are human beings and expect and accept our behaviour’, is a measure of our own defeat. It’s about time we stopped following all the other sheep who eat in the same old pasture and go find another field, do our own thing.
If you could start your life anew
What would you think or say or do?
If everything you did before
Could be wiped clean and be no more
Would you respond and let it be
Or stay still blind and never see?
You may not think that this is true
But all these words apply to you.
Shirley Anne 21 Dec 2017
So what will change for you this year? Have the promises you made to yourself last year been kept? Probably not in most cases or if they have they probably didn’t take root because they were starved of nourishment and consequently died to become a forgotten memory. Well another year has passed and you are still stuck in the rut, still doing the same old thing, still supporting some nasty habits and maybe now regretting your lack of will-power. Do something different, make some changes and keep them, you owe it to yourself. Who knows how long we may live, chances missed, opportunities passed-by, reluctant attitudes and by this time next year you will look exactly like you do now. Whatever paths you take make sure they are good ones, ones which will stay the course in your life. Make this year the best you’ve ever had but for all the right reasons.
So ends the old year and a new one begins. It was Saturday, the last day of the year and I had ideas of doing a bit of garden maintenance but again I had slept in rather late and shelved the thought. I intended working for an hour or so in the morning because the weather forecast showed that it would get windy and wet later on. I awoke at 9.50 and by the time I had gotten downstairs it was 11.00. I therefore waited a while and prepared lunch instead. The wind did pick up and it was quite cold to be out in it. Soon after lunch E left the house and I thought she would be out for the day but she was back an hour later. In the meantime I potted about doing very little except watch a bit of television. It was New Year‘s Eve but I had nothing planned for the event, I never observe it.
That has been the way for many years and as far back as I can remember. When asked why I don’t observe the occasion I say that I am simply not interested, which is true but then I think to myself what would be the point? I haven’t drunk alcohol now for a number of years and as most celebrations centre around drinking the night away it would be pointless. I would feel like a fish out of water, everyone getting drunk all around me and me being sober as a judge in their company just doesn’t work. I often wonder why people think that getting drunk is a great way to celebrate anything. Some no doubt will get drunk on drugs too. Why do people treat their bodies that way? It is self destroying. So I don’t want to be a part of it. Saturday evening was spent watching a movie till late and then off to the Land of Nod and getting up on Sunday morning without a banging headache and a mouth like blotting paper. The new year for me would be just like the preceding one and the first day just treated as another day. If you really think about it that’s exactly what they are. We hope the new year will be better and that things will change but in reality they don’t because our hearts are not in it. Maybe this time…..?
I have just written a comment on an article posted by AOL regarding snowfall at Christmas. Our weather forecasters seemingly cannot say with certainty if we in the UK will get a white Christmas. My comments centred on the fact that I thought it utter nonsense that people yearn for such things forgetting as many do what Christmas is supposed to be all about, the birth of our Saviour and not the fact that we might or might not get snow!
I was at work on Saturday afternoon. I had no work in the morning but had arranged to work in another town for someone in the afternoon because they had no free time during the week. I didn’t mind, after all it is Christmas as they say. Anyway the work was to replace a few light fittings with sparkling new ones. The lady for whom I was doing the work began chatting with me. Usually it is off-putting when people won’t just let me get on with the work but on this occasion I didn’t mind. I was taken a little by surprise because her questions all centred upon me, my family, friends, about my faith and about Christmas. I am not forthright in opening up to people regarding my family and friends my faith and beliefs unless they ask of course but if they do I don’t hold back. She began by asking what I was doing over Christmas. When I replied ‘nothing different from usual’ she was intrigued and wanted to know more so I explained, telling her that I don’t think Christmas is celebrated for the right reasons these days and it has become a secular and commercial machine having nothing to do with Christ. I also told her that my family have all but distanced themselves and my friends all live afar, not that I can claim having many friends as I don’t which means I couldn’t celebrate the holiday with them as they do even it was my wish to do so. My social life is just about zero too but that’s another story. She became very concerned and it prompted more questions which I answered as honestly as I could. She couldn’t believe I don’t celebrate Christmas as I once did, in fact I don’t celebrate it at all. The look of concern upon her face was evident. She asked if I was a Christian, a question I usually end up asking of those I talk with rather than it being asked of myself. Asking what church I went to and discovering I don’t prompted her to ask why. The answer I gave made her feel sad for me and she said she thought it was sad that I wasn’t in a fellowship and no longer felt the urge to be in one. I was more concerned about her feeling a sadness for me instead of just accepting the way I feel about things as being my own choice. I have to admit I haven’t felt such a concern for me for many years, not even from those closest to me, my own family. I am more concerned that people should believe in God and Jesus Christ rather than be concerned for me and never mind whether it will snow or not.
Around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere of our Earth the days begin to lengthen, that is the hours of daylight. At the same time of course the nighttime hours get shorter. The day is almost upon us, the celebration of the birth of our Saviour and many will be marking the day in their usual way. Before I became a Christian believer I had another faith, I was an atheist, I didn’t believe in God or Jesus Christ and I’d never heard of the Holy Spirit. I followed, like many others, in the tradition of men, celebrating Christmas as non-believers do. People around me would say, Christmas is about family and it is a time for children. Children were told, as they still are, that Santa Clause would be bringing them toys if they were good. Why are children told such lies? There is no harm in make-believe I hear you say but it is just as easy to tell the truth is it not? Children end up growing as non-believers and the lies are perpetuated. If you are going to celebrate someone’s birth surely they will be at the centre of it won’t they? No-one goes to a birthday party that has nobody there whose birthday it is! There cannot be a party without its host. There cannot be a party without an invitation to join-in either, that would be stupid, yet it happens every year at Christmas. If Christ is not in Christmas there is no birthday party to celebrate. Time is short and Christmas will be upon us in a day or two. Time is short for us all and one day we each of us will pass away. For those who believe there is a party in Heaven that will last for eternity and Jesus will be there to greet them, he is their host and will welcome them in because he knows them. Do you know Jesus? Is he the host at your party? Without him there is no real celebration. The invitation is there…..are you going to accept it?
I no longer celebrate Christmas as I once did, the way the world does but I celebrate in my heart each and every day for what Jesus did for me and praise him.
Was I going to get Friday (9th) all to myself? Well sort of. I managed a little bit of a lie-in for a change though even then I was up and dressed well before eight-thirty. I had no work so I decided I would walk into town and deposit some more cash at the bank before it started to burn a hole in my purse! I had just finished breakfast when someone called to ask if I could check why their shower wasn’t working. I was free so I agreed to drive there and sort out the problem. The drive took me to another town which doesn’t have a branch outlet of my bank so I would have to wait until I could drive back home before making my deposit. The fault with the shower lay in the ceiling pull-switch which had jammed open, an unrepairable internal fault meant it would need replacing. I carry several types of switches in my van stock so I was able to effect an immediate replacement and was soon driving back to my own town. I parked the van in the same road I always park in when I have to visit the town centre but only wish to walk part-way there. The bank uses machines for making deposits so I took out the bank notes and placed them into the receptacle for the machine to count and verify them but half were rejected as being unrecognisable! They were all twenty pound notes £500 worth. I walked over to the girl at the help desk and she tried them in another machine with success. I could have done the same thing myself but at the time no other machine was available and I had thought that maybe there was an actual problem with some of the notes and perhaps they were forgeries. It wasn’t my fault was it? It would be quite possible after all for my customers pay in cash (I won’t accept cheques) and who knows where they got them from? There are forgeries at large. Anyway all was put right and the deposit was made. Now I have known this ‘girl’ for quite a few years but actually she is a middle-aged woman. We took a little time to catch up with each other’s news. She told me she was dreading the introduction of tablets for the staff to use when assisting customers. We ended up chatting about technology and the way it is beginning to take over our lives. She and I are both of the same opinion it seems for we both hate it, technology that is. I mentioned ‘the sign of the end times’ when nobody would be able to purchase anything or conduct any business unless they had on them the mark of the beast (which is metaphorically 666). In other words if we haven’t fallen in line with the ‘system’ we will be outcasts. On the other hand God says that whoever has the mark of the beast upon them will be cast out of His presence too. People may not see the future but future has its beginnings in the present. She actually informed me that it is planned that access to banking facilities will one day all be carried out on a smart phone to which I replied, ‘What if you haven’t got or don’t want a smart phone’? Get my drift? We also chatted about Christmas and the hype that surrounds it nowadays. It is surprising what you can chat about in five minutes isn’t it? I had to let her get back to her work but not until she had provided me with the bank’s contact number for their special services. I had told her that I wasn’t impressed with the bank having closed their branch in my village for it meant an inconveniently long trek into town to make deposits. On my way back through town to collect my vehicle I walked through the high street church grounds as they are open to the public and was approached by a lady running the church stall outside the church building. She wanted to know if I had ever used their cáfe to which I replied I had. She wanted to press upon me a couple of tickets for free drinks but I refused them. She then mentioned something about Christmas but I told her that although I was a Christian too I didn’t celebrate it. She was taken a little aback at that while I continued to say that nothing that was on her display, Christmas tree, decorations, wreaths etc. had anything to do with Christ, it was all heathen symbolism. She didn’t have a reply as I bade her farewell. Maybe she (a sister in Christ) will have something to think about in the weeks ahead. When I returned home I phoned the number I was given in the bank and I was able to register to have the branch of the Post Office in my village receive deposits on behalf of my bank. They will send me a book of deposit slips which I will receive in due course. It will mean I will no longer have to walk all the way into town just to put money in the bank. After lunch I received two calls for my electrical services, one I took on board but the other I rejected as it would involve too much work. The one I took on was for another of my regular customers and I would do that work on Saturday morning. I wanted to accommodate them by working on a Saturday because they had a very busy schedule ahead of them. It would be nice to see them again anyway. After their call I drove off to the electrical supplier to purchase a few items and that about summed up the day.
Tomorrow, which will be Monday 21st as I write this on Sunday, will mark the 71st anniversary of my birth. For quite a few years now I haven’t celebrated the event because I personally see it as pointless. To me it is just another day. You may be wondering why I think that way so I will tell you, it is not scriptural. What? I mean the practice of celebrating a birthday is not recorded in Scripture, The Bible, and if I am to live by God’s Word I should not celebrate birthdays either. It is a personal choice however for I know Christians who don’t hold the same view. I really do see it as pointless irrespective of biblical teaching. Why do people celebrate their birthday, to be precise the anniversary of it? What are they celebrating if indeed they are celebrating anything? The anniversary belongs to their parents if the truth be known. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, or would be if those celebrating it had that in their hearts, most don’t. Jesus didn’t have ‘birthdays’ and neither did anyone else at that time. Christmas and ‘birthdays’ are an invention of man. So it was Sunday, the day before the day that marked the anniversary of my birth. I would be working the day after but Sunday itself was a day for relaxing, well relaxing as I do it. I was up quite early and after breakfast I wanted to go for a walk but it was a cold day. I waited a while until it was sunnier then went for the walk. It was indeed a cold day. I was wrapped up for it though but my outward journey was into a biting wind, not a strong wind but enough to make you feel it. I noticed hailstones trapped in the grass in places along the way yet it hadn’t been falling since the day before and everywhere else was dry. I thought that strange as there were unfrozen puddles of water everywhere. On my return journey the wind followed and it felt far less cold. Soon I was back home in the warmth but I didn’t stay indoors long. I went out into the garden to sweep up leaves once more. I knew there would be more to sweep up but now the trees are almost totally bare there shouldn’t be any more to sweep. Maybe. The last collection of green waste for the year will be on 28th of the month so I must make the most of cleaning up before then. When I had finished sweeping up leaves I went into the large greenhouse and placed the strawberry plants I had put into large pots last week onto upturned old pots to keep them off the floor and hopefully keep the woodlice at bay. I didn’t do much after lunch except a few household chores and watch some tv. I was looking forward to Monday, not because it was my birthday, because I would have work to do.
As a child I loved the ‘merry-go-round’ rides and any fairground rides to be honest. For me it was the thrill and excitement of being slightly out of control of my faculties for a short time, the dizziness and pressure on my body was quite exhilarating. Now you may think I’ve grown out of that at my age but in fact the opposite is true, I still enjoy such things or rather would do given the opportunity. I don’t go out of my way to visit fairgrounds though there is one a mere mile and a half from where I live. Many seaside towns have fairgrounds and Southport is no exception. In a way I am still riding the merry-go-round, we all are. Year after year the same old events take place, nothing really changes and most people follow them like sheep. Last night (Saturday) marked the annual celebration of the foiling of The Gunpowder Plot or rather the demise of the conspirators and specifically a man called Guy Fawkes. Why he should shoulder the blame or be remembered above the others I am not sure but the celebrations are named after him, Guy Fawkes night or Bonfire night. Bonfires are lit and fireworks set off throughout the night by way of a celebration that the plot to kill King James 1 by disgruntled Catholics who were prevented from blowing up The Houses of Parliament. The Catholic population at the time had been persecuted by Elizabeth 1 the Protestant queen and the Catholics had thought James’ rule would see an end to it but it hadn’t. All these events happened over four hundred years ago yet they are still celebrated. It is one of many that are celebrated each year, some are local celebrations and others are national. It seems people are not happy unless they are celebrating something. We are never satisfied because material things cannot keep us satisfied for long so we seek thrills and excitement from all sources. Each year it’s the same old thing, a merry-go-round from which we don’t wish to disembark.
As a point of interest I make every attempt not to get on the ride in the first place, not this sort of ride anyway.
The Israelites were noted for it. God had promised them so many things and all they had to do was follow His instruction but time after time they failed. From the beginning mankind has been rebellious because of a stubborn heart. So often we choose the easy way out or we choose to do things our way when in our hearts we know it is wrong. When I took my children to church they learned the right way in life but sadly now they have grown they seem not to continue with Christian instruction in some areas of their lives. They are still believers in Christ, it’s just they make compromises where perhaps they shouldn’t. Hey, listen, I am in no way perfect either though I strive to do the proper thing in my Christian walk. It is fortunate therefore that Jesus has done it all for me because at my best I fail to reach the standard. On Wednesday late in the afternoon I received a visit from my eldest son, his wife and their young daughter who had called to collect something of theirs we have in storage at our house. They didn’t stay long, they never do, there is always some other pressing engagement they have to attend upon. In conversation the subject of Halloween crept up with my little granddaughter getting excited at the prospect of her Halloween celebrations. Children do not understand and neither do many or even most adults! When at the church I used to attend the teaching was that Halloween is centred around pagan rituals and nothing about it was good. The parents were encouraged to bring their children to alternative Halloween celebrations at the church and were discouraged from promoting the secular version. Does God frown upon the secular version? Of course He does. The Israelites were not averse to consulting mediums and spiritualists, the very people He instructed them not to consult. God makes the rules for our benefit but we often ignore Him. My eldest son’s wife, a Christian herself has chosen not to follow instruction and openly encourages their daughter to enjoy Halloween whilst my son rather than making a stand against what he knows about the truth behind the celebration has chosen the easy way out just to keep the peace. I can say nothing of course, why argue with stubborn hearts? I understand that not everyone will agree with my beliefs because they are not believers in God or if they are they do not think it wrong to ignore Him. In the end it is a personal choice we all have to make.