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

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Believing

With Christmas just around the corner many people will be getting ready for the day and making preparations for parties, visitors and visiting too. Making sure there is plenty of food and drink in stock and ensuring gifts and presents are wrapped. Decorations and the Christmas tree will already be out and on show and everyone will be excited as the day approaches. I used to do all those things until a few years ago when I began to see through it all and the sham it was. That’s not to say it’s the same for everyone as it isn’t. What is more important is focusing on the reason for the celebrations and why we have Christmas in the first place. Christmas is for remembering the birth of a saviour, The Saviour and only Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ. Sadly Jesus is left out of the celebrations by many people which kind of defeats the object of having them in the first place. God knew His Son would be rejected by many but He gives everyone the opportunity to accept His wonderful gift. If we accept Jesus as our Saviour God sees us in a different light………..

Shirley Anne

How does God see people—the masses of humanity? (Luke 19:1–9)

The beautiful thing about God’s kingdom is that all those who welcome Jesus as their Lord are given the opportunity to accept a new identity through him. This is illustrated poignantly through the story of a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were among the most despised people in Israel because they chose to work for Rome and were making themselves rich by gouging their fellow Jews. But Zaccheaus shows that even the lost can be adopted and made new.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:1-9)
KEY VERSE
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

When we become believers things change for us..

KEY IDEA
I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
How would life change if we started to see people as God sees them? How would the world change if you and I truly believed the only way for people to enter heaven is through Christ?
We value all human life.
We see and treat all people the way God sees and treats them.
We are compelled to tell all people about Jesus.

Taken from NIV Believe

Yes, I believe, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour thirty years ago. Will you do the same?

Shirley Anne

With all my heart

I’ve a wonderful love
That’s so deep in my heart
Came into my life
Gave me a new start
Through all of my sorrows
My troubles and pain
Whenever I fell
I was lifted again.
The joy of this love
Gives to each one a share
With no special favours
To black, brown or fair.
Take hold of this love
There for each one of us
The love of my Saviour
My sweet Lord Jesus.

Copyright Shirley Anne 31 March 2003

Dear Lord my God, my Heavenly Father I give you praise

You are worthy to receive honour and glory and praise

For You are the I AM, you are the Creator of all things

You created all things through your Son my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

He is my Redeemer my Saviour God

Today the world celebrates your birth, the day you came down from heaven to live amongst us

Immanuel! We cry out Immanuel – God with us

You take away the sins of the people that we may be presented pure and holy before The Father

For all those who believe on your name there is Salvation.

Thank you for the greatest gift we could ever receive

Thank you Jesus for loving me.

Today as in every day my soul rejoices in the knowledge of your love

I pray for those who don’t know you, for those who reject you

Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing forgive them in Jesus’ name I ask

Give them O God another opportunity today to get to know you.

Thank you Jesus

Amen

 

Shirley Anne

Beans at the ready

If there is one thing you could say about beans it is that they really let you know who your friends are! I refer to the following day after eating them of course but we’ll not explore that. It has become somewhat of a small tradition with me that I have beans on toast on Christmas day instead of a roast dinner with turkey (or some other unfortunate bird), roasted potatoes, vegetables and all the trimmings that come with a Christmas dinner.

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

What is so special about a Christmas dinner anyway? Many folk have roasted dinners every week which are not any different from a Christmas dinner. The real difference is probably the company with which the meal is shared, this is what makes it special. For myself I no longer eat Christmas dinner. One reason, probably the main reason is I have no-one with which to share it but there are other reasons too, I don’t really want to stuff myself silly with a large roast dinner. The tendency is to eat far more than we should on such occasions and that habit I am happy to forego. I spend Christmas day, that is the afternoon and early evening alone. E spends the day with her mom and brother and some members of the family. I am never invited just as her sister now isn’t either. This doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t matter as I don’t celebrate the day as they do anyway. So much for the love we are supposed to be showing to others at this and any other time of the year. The secular Christmas should have no meaning to a Christian except maybe to have an opportunity to witness. So as long as I can have my beans on toast, with a fried egg or two on top I am happy. Why did Christmas get hi-jacked by the secular world? They saw it as an opportunity to revel, to party and to have a good time (nothing wrong with all that) but it lacks endurance, it simply doesn’t last and at the end of the day (literally) doesn’t really satisfy completely for if it did there wouldn’t be a reason to do it all over again. Having Jesus as your Saviour however does satisfy because that lasts forever.

Shirley Anne

All been said before

Deep in the valley of sorrow and sadness,
Where my life was ebbing away,
I saw a light, it was shining so brightly,
That my eyes did draw me to stay.

Out of the darkness a hand pulled me gently,
And effortlessly lift me above,
I felt the warmth and a power surround me,
The power of ineffable love.

Copyright Shirley Anne 19 Feb 1999

The above poem was dedicated to my father just before he died.

The Power to Believe
The Power to Believe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He always maintained a belief in God though I was never quite sure because he didn’t talk about it. However his way of life and his love for my mother and we his children would indicate he was a God-fearing man. When we as Christians talk about fear in this way we mean having respect for our Creator, His awesomeness, His power, His love. It is not fear in the everyday meaning of the word as in being frightened or scared. True love casts out all fear. If we love God and we know He loves us we have the assurance of His love. Does everyone love God? Unfortunately no. often simply by the way they live they show a lack of love for Him. People might say they just don’t understand but God says in His word that there is no excuse for not believing because of the evidence which surrounds us…. Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

If knowing this people who still remain stubborn still remain in sin and will be judged accordingly. It seems stupid to me that people will reject the free gift of Gods love by rejecting His Son our Lord Jesus Christ and be set free from their sins. Why face God as a sinner when you know that He cannot look upon sin? It will be too late to do anything about it once you have died. So if you are about to celebrate Christmas think about the reason for Christ‘s birth, what was the purpose? He came to save sinners from eternal damnation and give them eternal life. All He asks is they repent and believe in Him. Make this Christmas one to remember, one that changed your life and gave you hope.

Shirley Anne

They can’t wait

Downstairs a little later on Wednesday even though I was up and out of bed before eight. Being a woman it takes longer sometimes to get ready for the day! Still, I wasn’t dressed in my day clothes when I did get downstairs, I was dressed for working out on the treadmill or other things. Although I wasn’t really in the mood for running I made the effort as I always do and as I always do I feel great for doing it. It’s psychological I suppose. Anyway that done it was time for breakfast after which I got ready to go for a walk. Wednesday was a lovely sunny day but it was cold at 5 deg C with a slight northerly wind making it feel even colder. I was well-wrapped up though and prepared to enjoy the walk despite the cold. Part of the walk included my ending up at the pier. There were very few people out and about, especially down on the sea front where it was exposed to the wind. It didn’t matter to me, I walked the length of the pier, which in Southport is quite a long way….
Southport Pier is a Grade II listed pleasure pier located in Southport, Merseyside, England. First opened in August 1860, it is the oldest iron pier in the country and spans a length of 1,108 metres (3,635 ft), making it the second-longest in Great Britain after Southend Pier. Although at one stage reaching out 4,380 feet (1,340 m), a succession of storms and fires during the late 19th and early 20th century have reduced its length to that of the present day. (Extract from Wikipedia)’

At the time of writing the pier has been undergoing extensive maintenance to its ironwork and the work has been in progress for a couple of months. It will take a few more months I guess to complete the work. I spoke with one of the guys working there who told me that although the work is good (you’ve got to enjoy your work!) it was ‘Bl***y freezing’ he quipped! I left him to it and started back home which would be to the right along the shoreline and off the picture above. On the way home I paid a visit to the pub as I wanted a drink and the use of their toilet, though not necessarily in that order! It was packed with diners inside in the warmth. I stayed at the bar and off the carpet as I was wearing dirty boots. It was decorated for Christmas inside with two very large trees. It was still November. I thought it too early for Christmas decorations but it seems with each passing year it gets earlier. I suppose people are just too keen to begin the Christmas festivities. It’s a pity many don’t believe in Christ. He seems to have been left out of His own birthday celebrations (at the pub) once again, for nowhere could be seen anything to indicate the reason for the season. With a sigh I left for home and dwelled upon the weeks ahead and all that will go on during that time and into the new year.

Shirley Anne

Resisting

How to Get Ahead in Advertising
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Maybe should read How to get ahead without advertising!

 

My intentions over the Christmas and New Year period has varied somewhat over the years. Sometimes I would work whenever I was asked and just had the minimum of rest days and at other times I would take as much time as I could free from work. Over the past few years I have tended to work right up to Christmas Day and then not return to work until after the first week of the new year. This year I extended that until half-way through the second week by submitting my advertisement on 11th January, a Wednesday as that is the day the newspaper is distributed each week. However not all goes to plan in my life and despite not advertising I still get requests for my services. Usually they are from existing customers who have my card or details from my last visit. As my previous customers are many I can expect one or two calls at any time irrespective of my advertising or not. I’ve had a couple of requests already but have resisted the urge to do them though one I will have already done by the time you read this and there may be more. It is all about boredom and having something to do. I have just returned from answering the house telephone call I received when writing this post at the end of the last sentence! It was from a woman who had jotted down my details from an earlier copy of the newspaper and was asking if I did house rewires. After explaining why I no longer do rewires she asked what would be the cost of such work and I gave her a rough idea. That is one of a couple of requests I have had today, Wednesday, both of which I have declined. Though the other one had been a much smaller request I resisted the temptation to do it. If I get any more requests in the forthcoming week or so I doubt I’ll be able to resist so I’ll probably end up taking them on board. Though I have work to do in the gardens it has been very cold and frosty and therefore off-putting. Why should I be uncomfortable when it is unnecessary? The work can be done at another time.

Shirley Anne

Well did I?

Or didn’t I? That is the question and the short answer is yes. I was rambling on in yesterday’s post about whether I would get some garden maintenance done because the weather had been forecast as warm but a little windy. Well it was a little bit windier than just a little though not as it was on Christmas Eve. I came down quite early and to my surprise E had pipped me to the post and was just about to eat her breakfast. She hadn’t gotten back home until very late and didn’t get upstairs to her room before one o’clock. I knew that because I was having difficulty nodding off in the heat and humidity inside the house. Three times I had to get up and open the window fully just to stand in the cool breeze and help chill the room down a little. I must have dozed off around two o’clock but was up at seven-thirty after a sound sleep. E’s good at finding things for me to do and Christmas morning was no exception. Evidently her garage door had once again stuck in the open position and wouldn’t drop down. After breakfast I put on my overalls, for I was going to do some garden maintenance anyway and went out to check the roller door. The real problem is with the tracks, one either side, in which the roller door runs. If it catches something the motor continues to unwind the rolled-up door and it all becomes loose. The cure is to disengage the motor using the installed lever and then pull down the door manually until it reaches the floor. Once there the motor is re-engaged and all is fine. I applied some lubricant to the tracks using furniture polish. Yes you read that correctly, it has bees-wax in it which is the recommended lubricant. Now I could get on with the garden work. The first task was to dig out the bluebell bulbs I had missed when redesigning the flowerbeds in Summer, though only one had bulbs in it. I must have done a more thorough job in filtering the soil in the other! That didn’t take long and then it was time to pull out some Montbretia and begin to take down little by little an overgrown tall shrub growing in the border. This is the picture I took after I had cut down half of it…….side-border-1

it is the one standing immediately next to the large holly tree on the right. The problem is that this shrub likes to grow fast and weaves itself amongst other plants. I left the other half to chop down for another day as by that time I’d had enough. Here is a picture taken near to its base which will also have to be removed in the near future….side-border-2

When I had tidied up I went into the rear garden and cleared away more leaves that had found their way there, almost half a wheelie bin of them when loose. Naturally I pressed them down to get them in. I had thought I’d seen the last of fallen leaves in the gardens. It wasn’t to be. It was time for lunch when I had finished but this year I broke with tradition (beans on toast) and had eggs on toast instead. E had cooked a chicken to compliment other roasted foods her mom would be cooking and soon she was off out with it to Christmas dinner with her family, and half of my family too! Why didn’t I go? I wasn’t invited as usual.

Shirley Anne

Friday and the long weekend

‘So this is Christmas‘ as John Lennon sang in the well-known song. When I was young it wasn’t so much the day itself but always the approaching days which held the excitement, in fact the day itself wasn’t as exciting as I remember and sometimes it turned out a little disappointing. I find that happens a lot in life, we expect something to be exciting and we find we are somewhat disillusioned when the time comes. Sometimes we expect too much and when we do we get let down. Not always though, no, there are things which satisfy in life but I think you’ll agree, they don’t last and soon we are looking for another thrill, another exciting event. This pretty much sums up Christmas for many people but it doesn’t have to be that way, there is more to Christmas or rather the message it contains that will never disillusion if taken to the heart. Who cares? Many simply want to enjoy the time without the ‘religious’ theme but without the religious message the whole event becomes meaningless, just another event in the calendar we look forward to for enjoyment. Well Christmas is a time to rejoice and be happy, a time for people to get together in love and friendship though for some that isn’t their lot. Tell people that God sent His only begotten Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit by a virgin to be an atoning sacrifice for those who have turned away from Him and they will laugh, they will scoff, they will not believe, but that is the message that Christmas brings. It is the gift of God, a free gift and it doesn’t arrive on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and driven by a guy in a red outfit! The truth of the matter is we ALL need salvation for we ALL fall short of the glory of God. God is waiting for those who will turn to Him in repentance, who will accept His free gift of life that only comes through Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger lost in the secular version of what should be a Christmas centred around him and the reason he came.

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...
Detail – Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eva are represented bellow Jesus-Christ Ceiling painting made by Daniel Gran (1694-1757). Post-processing: perspective and fade correction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isaiah 7

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Immanuel means ‘God with us’

Remember what Christmas is really about.

Shirley Anne