Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Resolutions - Here we go again.

New Years Resolutions - Here we go again.

It’s that time of year again, when everyone evaluates the past year and resolves to “do better” in the coming one! Really?

If only life were as uncomplicated as that. It isn’t. In fact, if we lived alone on a mountain top devoid of any people inclusion, we would still get into trouble. Its human nature to “self-destruct”, it just happens that the process expedites with others present. Oh for the quiet life!

Making new year resolutions are a unique way of listing ones failures, Sure we do fail, but why make a list for the whole world to see and evaluate that failure. I mean, it’s not as if we “plan to fail”. Ask Anthony Robbins! I have a complete set of his videos which I purchased in 2002, which are still unopened. According to my local online auction site, so do 178 other people also.

New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges seen on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar

Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.

So why are we set on pursuing the annual pilgrimage into this propensity for change? 
Are we so discontent with that which we are, that self-betterment eases the sting of failure? 

Now I am all for progressive change, and self-betterment. Not to impress others, but because I personally desire it.

The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began during this period in Rome, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. But when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. 

For example, Christians chose to observe (sure to make all males wince), the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1 in place of the revelry otherwise indulged in by those who did not share the faith. 

This replacement had varying degrees of success over the centuries, and Christians hesitated observing some of the New Year practices associated with honouring the pagan god Janus.

Once again, (as in the trappings of "Christ-Mass" we see how much of our activity is of pagan origin, based on “works other than grace”.

Theologian Jonathan Edwards, who was brought up in New England Puritan culture,took the writing of resolutions to an art form. But he did not write his resolutions on a single day. Rather, during a two-year period when he was about 19 or 20 following his graduation from Yale, he compiled some 70 resolutions  on various aspects of his life, which he committed to reviewing each week on a consistent basis.

Here are just three of those resolutions:
·         Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
·         Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
·         Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.

So this year, (for those who make resolutions), why not take a moment to evaluate the inner reasons for making the external changes? Or why not make a list of the “things” that you want to change and then make a value statement as to “why” those changes are needed? According to the plethora of statistics and surveys appearing online, the top ten changes that people put on their list of resolutions are, (not always in this order of priority) :
1.       Lose weight
2.       Save money and get out of debt
3.       Exercise more
4.       Stop drinking
5.       Stop smoking
6.       Change job, get a job, stay in a job
7.       Volunteer or give
8.       Be less stressed
9.       Travel
10.   Spend more time with family
The most rigorous study of New Year's resolutions, conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton, shows a steep drop off in how long New Year’s resolutions stick around. Seventy-seven percent of the revolvers studied made it through a full week, and then 55 percent stuck with their goals for a month. By June, six months into the New Year, only 40 percent of those who had made a New Year's resolution were still sticking with the goal.
Well folks, despite the weighty club that science now wheel’s in the minds of the more enlightened in society (tongue in cheek), may I make an observation? The resolutions that (the above list suggests), are issues relating to “self-control”. These choices (which are well within an individual’s capacity to change), and control with self-discipline. Therefore, many a new year’s resolution is down to three things: 
1.       Choice (things rarely change without our decision)
2.       Action (things rarely change without our input)
3.       Discipline (things rarely change without our persistence)
On a final note, any changes that are conditional upon the change in someone else, is sadly out of your control and doomed to disappointment!. Change begins within us, not waiting on the change in someone else. Be the change in the world you want to see, and remember, a new years resolution, is usually one that goes in one year and out the other.   See you on the other side of 2015.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

So WHO stole Christmas?

So WHO stole Christmas?

(WARNING - If you still believe in Santa, you’re in for a shock if you read on) 

Over the next few weeks, millions of children around the world, will be deliberately lied to, misled and taught to believe that a fictitious (and once noble benefactor), will spread good will and miraculous provision around the world. In just a split second , this once in a year activity, will turn the mundane into a day where hopes and dreams eventuate.

The educated and uneducated, rich and poor, believer and none believer, young and old, black and white, will all teach their children to give thanks for a fat man in a red jacket, who miraculously provides for their “wants.” 

The truth of the season will be purposely ignored  due to man’s superior Intelligence in not falling for an historical fact that a child was born into a poor family, and spend his total life spreading good news to the rich, poor, sick and healthy, around his world.
In the latter part of his life (Jesus), he grew in purpose and provided sight for the blind, food for the poor, justice for the convicted felon, cleansing for the leper and hope (with miracles) for those with a will to receive them.  

All this without a red jacket, serving elves and reindeer with names that rhymed.  

It wasn't the Grinch that stole Christmas, it was us!

Intelligent, educated human beings that exchanged the truth for a lie in the belief that a little bit of folk lore and myth would somehow put fun into a season that says more about marketing than it does “joy to the world”. 
Children with more gifts than their homes can house, will once again plead their deserving case for the latest “in thing”, whilst injustice is still rampant, the sick continue to die in poverty whilst our primary concern is living out a myth. 

We do this by consuming more than we can eat, buying more than we can financially sustain and living in “the moment,” for we have no regard for the coming year, and its pending challenges that may require us to “tighten ones belt”. Yet most people unwittingly, think that the word "Christmas" means "the birth of Christ."  By definition, it means "the death of Christ". How ironic, when faithless politicians and educators seek to remove Christ from Christmas, by calling it "Holiday season", and paganism (a religion itself), exchanges God The Father (as the giver of all life) for the pagan gods of Thor, Odin and St Nicolas, yet justify Christs removal on the basis of "other faiths being offended". Whatever slight of hand or mis-direction used among the media, one thing is sure! The spirit of Christ is alive and at work to draw all men to himself during all seasons.

However, the discerning believer is not fazed by truth, as they understand and rightly discern the difference between myth and truth. The world book encyclopedia defines "Christmas" as such: 

 "The word Christmas comes from "Cristes Maesse", an early English phrase that means "Mass of Christ." It is interesting to note that the word "Mass", (as used by the Roman Catholics), has traditionally been rejected by the so-called Protestants, such as Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Pentecostals etc.  The word "Mass" is strictly a Catholic word and thus, so is "Christ-Mass."

As previously mentioned, the word "Mass" in religious usage means a "death sacrifice."  The impact of this fact is ironic for when the millions of people are saying, "Merry Christmas", they are literally saying "Merry death of Christ!"  Furthermore, when the fat man in the red suit laughs his "Ho-ho- ho, Merry Christmas", he is in fact erroneously (or intentionally), inferring the opposite of his supposed Christmas cheer. 

Christ was not crucified during the Christmas season, and we don’t celebrate his death but rather his birth and life, (filled with hope).

So, as millions of parents around the world are queuing to place their little children into the fat man’s waiting arms, and being serenaded with false prophesies and promises of gifts being “air dropped” down the chimney; just consider the words "Merry Christmas”.

So what’s the truth about Christmas?

"Whilst the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 2 and 7 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown. His birth is however mentioned in two of the four gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date later adopted in the East, (although some churches celebrate on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar), which currently corresponds to January 7 in the modern-day Gregorian calendar. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pagan, pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Almost all the rituals associated with Christmas are of pagan origin. C.H. Spurgeon said ""Those who follow the custom of observing Christmas, follow not the Bible but pagan ceremonies."

Popular modern customs of the holiday include:

·         Gift giving, 
·         Christmas music and carolling,
·         Exchange of Christmas cards,
·         Church celebrations,
·         A special meal,
·         The display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees,  lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.

The custom of the Christmas tree, developed in early modern Germany (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum or "Tannenbaum") with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which "devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. "Christmas trees were hung in St. George's Church, Sélestat since 1521. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century. The Christmas tree has also been known as the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  ― Roy L. Smith

 The Fat Man in a Red Coat –

Several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christ-kind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
Christmas Spirit –

Much of what surrounds Christmas is actually misguided tradition and pagan ritual. Yet one has to at least give mental ascent to the traditions one engages in. The media at large present Christmas erroneously and with bias. Our TV’s will belch out a “Hollywood” take on Christmas, with barely a Christian accuracy amongst it. Crime rates and family violence will soar as relationships strain under the pressure of “forced giving” and “Yule-tide cheer”, and the effort of “being with family” loses its gloss when plied with copious quantities of alcohol and other stimuli. Yet amidst all the mayhem and hype there is a message screaming to be heard.

Matthew 1:23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").

Christmas is about having “God with us”. Central to our activities is “God with us”. Central to our actions, attitudes and behaviour, is “God with us”. The true spirit of Christmas is having “God with us”.  In this mixed up folk lore ridden marketing event, is a time where God came to earth with a plan of salvation (to buy back or redeem) for mankind; where peace, justice and mercy reign around the world. It begins with one person at a time and with a decision to hope and believe in God with us or a fat man in a red suit. The choice says more about our willfulness, than ones intellect.
So when those childish, innocent eyes focus on you this Christmas, would you rather they observe in you, the truth or folklore?  As an adult, we have the freedom to choose what we believe. As a child, we trust in the stories were told. The wise men were wise, because they were seeking out Jesus, "God with us". 
Baby in a crib or fat man in a suit – you choose!

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”   Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!