Nice way to start

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.

Shirley Anne

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Something to think about

Now that the celebrations are ending I want to ask you to consider the reasons you personally celebrated Christmas. Was it based on your being a Christian? Was it perhaps just a way to have a break and a reunion with your family and friends? Was it just something you’ve always done perhaps because it is tradition?

Shirley Anne

TIME OF THE YEAR
December 24, 2017 by factbasedtruth(.com)
Jesus-Christmas

Merry Christmas! Perhaps the most uttered phrase on one particular day in history. It’s a beautiful time of the year. Snow falling in some places, lights being hung up in most places, and people choosing to be in a more cheerful mood towards one another. All of that combined creates for a touching time period. But in spite of it being touching, I’ll tell you why Christmas is the most awkward time of the year for me.

JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season”. It’s a statement some Christians have used to counter the secular understanding of Christmas being about Santa Claus, reindeers, and presents. Another phrase people sometimes state is “Keep the Christ in Christmas”. That phrase is used to counteract the secular way some choose to say “Merry Christmas” by saying “Merry Xmas”. Just as a side note, it’s actually not secular. According to Greek, the “X” comes from the Greek letter “chi”, first letter of the Greek word which in English means Christ.

Putting that side-note aside, here’s what I want to pose for thought. Is Jesus the reason for the season? Does Christ have anything to do with Christmas?

2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
Before we get into that question, let’s read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The verses state, “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” I think we’d all agree this verse seems to indicate scripture is very important. Not just a guideline, not just a suggestion, but an actual writing of what is correct, right, and Godly. We can perhaps all agree that what is and what is not in these writings should be taken seriously in how we think and act on our faith.

So getting back to our topic, I return to the questions I asked before the last paragraph. In looking to the scripture, which tells us what’s correct, right, and Godly, does Jesus have anything to do with this season? Does Christ have anything to do with Christmas? As far as I’ve read in scripture, the answer is no.

God, Jesus, and the apostles did not instruct to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th with the title of the date being Christmas. They never even instructed to celebrate Christ’s birthday in the first place. This tradition was all started by Catholics. For the record, I don’t state that in a derogatory way towards Catholics, I’m just stating the facts.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
Now some may ask, well what’s the big deal if I put up a tree, put up some lights, buy some presents, and choose to celebrate Jesus in this way? And that’s a very good question to ask. In response to that I would ask, should it not be important to do what God instructs of us to do versus holding to a tradition that was started by humans? Isn’t our faith about not conforming to the pattern of this world as Romans 12:2 expresses?

Jesus himself once stated in Mark 7:6-9, “He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition”. Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!”

Now I know what you might be thinking, and no, I’m not calling anyone a hypocrite, and I know Jesus was directing this to the Pharisees. I’m just pointing out that it mattered to Jesus that people don’t get caught up in keeping human traditions, and should focus on the commands of God. I think we can all agree that what matters to Jesus should matter to us.

It’s not just the son of God who was against unwarranted human invented ways of honouring God, but God himself. Leviticus 10:1-2 states, “Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” God killed people for worshiping and honouring Him in a way He didn’t command. I don’t state that to scare anyone, I just state that to point out how important this appears to be to God.

All of this is shown to us in scripture and we haven’t even gotten into evidence that points to Christmas having pagan origins. Do we really want to tie our Jesus to something that’s potentially based on the worship of a pagan god?

SCRIPTURE AS THE FOUNDATION
For me the big thing in all of this is God and His scripture. Do we take what His scripture states as the foundation of everything we think and do that’s right, correct, and Godly… or do we follow human traditions out of fear of not conforming to the culture and out of the phrases, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done things” and “But the Christmas holiday feels so special to me”?

If people just did things the way they’ve always been done or only based on how things feel, all Jews would have kept being Jews, no Gentiles would have become Christians, and Christianity might have never been anything more than a fringe cult.

This time of the year can be awkward as a Christian who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I have friends who practice Christianity that celebrate the holiday. They enjoy getting to spend time with their families and have years of sentimental memories attached to Christmas. It’s the grand visual of bright lights, white snow, green trees, red decorations, and extra kind nature exhibited, that creates an unfortunately strong emotion fueled attraction that’s difficult to convince people to turn away from.

I’m never offended by anyone who tells me “Merry Christmas”, because I know they mean well. But it’s my hope and prayer that we all think more about how we choose to think and live our faith in the name of Jesus Christ. May we all continue to strive to make scripture the foundation of our faith.

Peace to you all in Christ.

From the author and from Shirley Anne

Remember?

When Does Worship Become Insincere Ritual? 

Zechariah 7:5-6 New International Version

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.  

Shirley Anne

Birthday eve

The Birthday Eve
The Birthday Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne

Same old same old

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, ...
The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Laing Art Gallery (Tyne and Wear Museums) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne

Beans at the ready

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me over the last few years, having beans on toast for my Christmas Day dinner.

English: Beans on toast
Beans on toast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually though mine will be topped with a lightly fried egg. Since I no longer celebrate Christmas as I once did, at least in the way that has become a tradition in the homes of many throughout the land and around the world, I have no need for the rich food and drink that came with it. I celebrate Christ‘s coming of course I do, as a Christian this is quite a normal thing to do but I do it in another way. I have turned my back upon the hedonistic celebrations that have no part in the meaning of the birth of our Saviour. People say they honour Christ in the celebration but in fact the opposite is true. The worldly celebrations are self-centered, self-indulgent and dare I add selfish? People who believe in God should believe in what He has to say about things. God really hates our festivals and our rituals, what He requires of us is that we should look after the widows and orphans, the poor among us and live holy lives before Him. Listen we are all sinners, me included, I try to live as I should too and I guess I miss the mark often enough but Jesus came into this world from Heaven, in order to save the likes of me and you. Without the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we would all perish and end up in hell. Those who repent and accept Jesus have their sins forgiven and have eternal life. This is the real reason for Christmas, not an excuse to revel, get drunk and party. I am glad I have Jesus as my Saviour for surely I need him. I thank him too for many other things, hey, and not least of all baked beans on toast. I wish everyone reading this will enjoy their holiday (holy day) but give thought to what it should be about.

Shirley Anne x