Saturday, January 16, 2016

Have Yourself a Pagan Little Holiday

Ah, Christmastime. A time for joy, eggnog, and controversy.

Last year, my wife and I celebrated our first Christmas as us. Part of being an us meant having to stand- if with all the confidence of Bambi on ice- on our own convictions.

I had seen my parents, and other families, go through it before- Saturnalia, druids, and evergreen idols. This year, though, God brought the issues into razor-sharp focus, as our entire church came face-to-face with this issue.

Is the tree really an idol? Is the Grinch really a reformer waging war on idolatry? Can I get some eggnog with a shot of paganism, please?

It's an emotional topic, because if the answer is "yes," then a lot of fun memories and happy traditions need to be torn down like so many asherim, burned with the yule log, and buried with a sprig of holly through their heart.

But we must be willing for the answer to be "yes," or there is no purpose in asking the question. As with any other question which we take to Scripture, a good first step would be an examining of our own hearts- are we really ready to follow wherever God calls us to go? If we aren't ready to submit to any answer, then why bother seeking an answer at all?

There are many Godly believers who celebrate Christmas, and many who do not; furthermore, there are many from either camp who could argue their position very convincingly.

But last year, as my wife and I wrestled through it, I felt like The Lord clearly and decisively answered my questions about Christmas. I'm writing it down here because I'm sure the discussion will come up again and I don't want to forget what I learned. I'm also hoping that it will be a blessing to others who are or will be wrestling with the same issues.

So, without further ado- is it permissible, let alone good, for Christians to celebrate Christmas?

The Christmas issue boiled down in my mind to a few doubts that hovered like the shadow of an enormous Ebenezer Scrooge over the lights and the trees and the stockings. I'm going to focus on those here.

What about the Jewish feasts?

I have in the past participated in "Passover" celebrations which served as a way to look back on Christ as the fulfillment thereof, and insofar as the Old Covenant feasts are enjoyed as educational and historical exercises which teach us about Christ they are wonderful opportunities.

But if God decreed these feasts- some of which He called perpetual, and commanded for generational observance- why are we not celebrating them yearly? Why are we not quite literally religious about them? Shouldn't we be celebrating the Jewish feasts as a matter of obedience to God's Word?

No. We should not. What's more, we cannot.

The feasts were part of the ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant- laws which, unlike the moral and judicial laws, were abrogated in Christ, their Fulfillment. To which you say, "prove it, bub," and rightly so; we cannot just go cherry-picking through the Law of God, deciding which ones sound fun for us to keep and which ones are too old-fashioned. So is there a Biblical basis for calling some of God's Laws "ceremonial," and for saying that we are not obligated to keep them?

In Hebrews 9:8-11, we see that the laws regarding "food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body" are appointed until "a time of reformation," namely, "when Christ appeared." That verse succinctly clarifies what exactly the "ceremonial law" is. But noticeably absent from this list is any mention of feasts or festivals.

Hebrews 10:12, however, tells us that Christ was the final sacrifice. We are no longer supposed to follow the laws about sacrificing animals, because those laws pointed to Christ, and He has come and fulfilled them once for all. It is now not only unnecessary but actually blasphemous to sacrifice animals, because The Lamb has come, and we should not look to anything else for our atonement.

What does this have to do with the Jewish feasts? Many or all of them involved offering sacrifices. Most notably, Passover- the yearly passover lamb which pointed to the once-for-all Lamb to be slain for the sins of the world.

Since sacrifices are inherently woven into the feast and festival laws of the Old Covenant, and since the sacrifices are fulfilled in Christ, the feasts must also be fulfilled in Christ. We cannot keep the feasts for obedience, because we cannot actually follow the prescribed method for celebrating those feasts- through sacrificing animals!

One more note- our church celebrates the New Covenant passover every week, when we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb who delivered us from the Egypt of sin.

That's a New One

Fine, but we still have to answer- why Christmas?

Nowhere in Scripture does God command or even model the celebration of Christmas. So the question haunted my mind like Marley's ghost- do we have any Biblical precedent for creating new festivals like Christmas?

Yes. We do. In the book of Esther, after the Jews routed their enemies, Mordecai instituted the feast of Purim as a yearly holiday to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews. That's a new feast- a man-made holiday- commemorating an act of God in history. So there is Biblical precedent for making holidays of remembrance- and what better to remember than the advent (Christmas) and resurrection (Easter) of the Messiah?

Druids and Yule Logs and Solstice, Oh My!

That's all well and good, but isn't Christmas a pagan festival with Jesus sprinkled on top? Didn't the church just take idolatry and churchify it so that Christians could feel better about keeping right on sacrificing to the Baals?

This question is really twofold.

First, there is the question of whether the Christians stole a pagan holiday or the pagans stole a Christian holiday. The idea that the Christians began celebrating Christmas on their own is a very tenable position (an argument can even be made that the magi actually arrived in Bethlehem on December 25th- see this amazing film for more on that), but I do not have the historical knowledge to argue it here; for the moment it will suffice to say that it is at least debatable that Christmas actually does have pagan roots.

For a moment, though, let's give the Christmas critics a freebie. Let's assume for the sake of argument that Christmas is rooted in pagan celebrations full of dark deeds and idolatrous traditions.

If that is the case, then the church of Jesus Christ took a pagan celebration and transformed it into a yearly remembrance of the birth of Christ which is now celebrated worldwide.

I would call that a victory.

Why would we want to surrender such a glorious heritage- our Christian forefathers tearing December 25th out of the hands of the godless and claiming it for Christ? That it still proclaims like the herald angels the advent of our Lord is evidenced all around, from the stars and nativities to the carols and choruses to the very fact that the nations rage against the word "Christmas."

The Name of Christ is the Name seared into the season of Christmastime.

Rather than abandoning it to the pagans of today, it is for us as believers to take a cue from Saint Nicolas and take a stand for our King. (Next time Arius says "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings," he's in for it.)

The nations may rage, but He Who sits in the heavens laughs. And since He came down to earth and bought us with His blood, we should laugh too.


I can't wait for next year...

#JoyToTheWorld #TheLordIsCome

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sleeping in a Cradle

"I love Thee, Lord Jesus;
Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle,
'Til morning is nigh."

A lot of us sing this during the #Christmas season. At first glance, it looks to be a lullaby for a child. Maybe at one time it was.

But we are grown-ups. We don't sleep in cradles. Isn't a little silly to sing this every year?

When we think of a child sleeping in a cradle, we think of the serene face and tiny, rhythmic breathing of a miniature person undisturbed by financial stress or current events or family conflicts. Mommy and Daddy are right there by the cradle, so, as far as that baby is concerned, all is right with the world.

We have no more needs than that baby does (if anything, we have less). But we are burdened by those needs much more than the child is.

Yet we are called to have the faith of children. Our Heavenly Father watches over us even in our sleep (Psalm 127).

I want to sleep in a cradle- not with my body, but with my soul. And I want to lay there undisturbed, knowing that since Daddy is there all is right with the world.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015


The Darwinian worldview leads to euthanasia, abortion, sterilization, and genocide. If we assume the truth of Darwinian evolution, that is the simple and logical conclusion; as Hitler's propoganda stated, no good animal breeder allows the unhealthy or inferior animals in his care to breed. If we, too, are just animals, somewhere between apes and supermen, then why would we not want to assist the progress of the species by cutting out those who obviously will not be helping us toward the latter?
The Christian worldview stands in stark opposition. The Author of life claims responsibility for making the deaf and the blind. (Ex. 4:11)
In the Christian worldview, there is no such thing as a "defective" person. The child with Down Syndrome, the cross-eyed man, the woman lame from birth, the deformed, the mute, these people were not rejects from the celestial assembly line.
Certainly, there are natural factors that God uses to bring such things about- some of which we are responsible for.
But the basic Christian assumption is that God made you how He wants you. 
We are responsible for what we do with what He gives us; we are responsible to invest our talents wisely. But He is the One Who gives the talents as He sees fit. (Matt. 25:14-30) 
Sterilizing the "inferior", as America did in the early 1900s, or committing mass acts of genocide, as the Nazi regime did, or murdering the unwanted in the womb like we are doing by the thousands and ten thousands today in this country- this all makes sense if we are the judge of what is "viable," what is "superior," if we can control the factors and predict the results- and if we are not accountable to God for what we do with His souls.
But if God makes people individually by His hand, then it doesn't matter what the child's pedigree is. If God wants him blind, He'll make him blind. If He doesn't want him blind, then the child will not be blind. If the child is blind, there is no blame or shame. That was God's perfect will. That is just as much a person, a life, a soul, in the words of Lewis a "self." And if that child is chosen by God, then he is just as much a member of the Church-Bride of Jesus Christ. God wove that human tapestry and signed it with His image and bought it with His blood. There is no higher pedigree than that which is held by the child of God.
Blind or not, "normal" or not, we do not have the right to determine that life inferior. We can only judge things which are under us. Human creations, human actions. Life is a creation of God. He has the right to tell us when- and why- we may take it from another. 
We did not give it. It is not ours to take unless the One Who gave it tells us to.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Time to be Shocked

We are the nation where little babies, alive and wriggling, have their faces scissored in half so their brains can be harvested.

I generally don't like the shock-value technique.  But it's far past time for us to be shocked.

Examinations of the underbelly of the Planned Parenthood​ monster keep showing more and more festering infection.  The heartless perversion- this just makes me shudder.  We need to see this.  We need to shudder.  We need to show it to others so they can shudder too.

And we need to *repent.*  The only way hell can prevail and belch forth such wickedness is if the Church of Jesus Christ has not rolled over the gates of hell with the Word of God.

God will not be mocked, and a nation that does this and does not repent is a nation that will be broken- soon and hard.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Wandering Hearts

Thinking about the dangers that the stereotypical workplace model present to marriage; a married man with a secretary who isn't his wife happily helping and serving him all day; a married woman helping a man who isn't her husband, and being appreciated, and seeing his big vision and hard work; this is a chemistry that God designed to create a powerful reaction, but unfortunately it is not often enjoyed in its proper context- marriage- today.

I'm very happy and blessed that my secretary is Mrs. Bethany Hudelson, and I can be unashamedly in love with her.

But also thinking... the proper Christian response to this and other areas of temptation is not "I love my wife so much that I would never fall prey to such a thing," but rather "I love my wife too much to trust myself with temptation, because I know I am a sinner."

(Not saying that such a situation is inherently sinful, by the way, but rather that it is something to be careful of.)

It is not a sign of loving Jesus more that we feel no need to flee temptation- it is a sign of thinking too highly of ourselves. The stronger we are as believers, the weaker we know ourselves to be.

It is only the grace of God that stands between us- between me- and every depravity of the flesh. I pray that God would be merciful to me, would hold me to Himself, would not leave me to discover just how weak I am without His grace and His Spirit.

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." - 1 Cor. 10:12

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All or Nothing

Fiscal conservatism and social liberalism are irreconcilable positions.  It may sound romantic to be able to advocate "liberty" in areas like "sexual preference" and "choice" while still promoting small-government fiscal policies, but the social issues walk hand-in-hand with the fiscal ones.  The moment we forsake God's Word as the standard for ALL areas of life, we have forsaken God's Word as the standard for ANY area of life, and we are left to the chilling arbitrariness of humanism.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kings of the Earth

Like on the side of a fighter jet, #SCOTUS marks another kill- but with a knife into the Constitution and a slap towards the face of God.

He Who sits in the heavens laughs.  Their slaps will only result in broken fingers.

God will not be mocked; our nation will continue her spiral into insignificance and final collapse until the people of God are faithful to stand on His Word.

That is the true travesty.  The only way that the kingdom of darkness can gain so much ground is if the Kingdom of Light forsakes it.  So long as we continue to apologize for the Word of God, we can expect these travesties of justice to continue.