For "Scripture Sunday":
New Year: Should Christians Celebrate It?"God didn’t begin His year in the dead of winter. So what does He think of the celebration of New Year’s Eve based on the Roman's calendar and customs?" What does God think of New Year’s Eve?
"Are New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations that God approves of? Since God set the first month of the year on the sacred calendar to begin in what we call March or April, obviously it is not God’s new year (Exodus 12:2; Deuteronomy 16:1). And God didn’t command a celebration for that day either.
The origin of New Year
So what is the origin of New Year? “In early times, the ancient Romans gave each other New Year’s gifts of branches from sacred trees. In later years, they gave gold-covered nuts or coins imprinted with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. January was named after Janus, who had two faces—one looking forward and the other looking backward. The Romans also brought gifts to the emperor. The emperors eventually began to demand such gifts. But the Christian church outlawed this custom and certain other pagan New Year’s practices in A.D. 567” (The World Book Encyclopedia, 1990, article “New Year’s Day”).
Not pleasing to God
Today, too often New Year’s Eve is treated as an excuse for drinking too much and lowering moral standards. It is one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving, and every year warnings are given about those who fire guns into the air in celebration—an act that too often turns deadly.
For all these reasons, celebrating the pagan holiday of New Year is not pleasing to God." From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/plan-of-salvation/holy-days-vs-holidays/new-year/
50 Years Without Christmas
"Now, with Thanksgiving behind us, here in the U.S. we turn our eyes toward Christmas. (Well, that’s not exactly true … some stores were throwing up Christmas displays back in mid-October. Give us another 20 years, and Black Friday will probably be sometime around the end of August!)
This year will be a special Christmas for me—it will be the 50th consecutive year that I’ve been without it! Yes, a golden anniversary of not having something!
I remember it well. I was 11 years old when my parents made the big decision that it was intellectually dishonest, scripturally untruthful and spiritually hypocritical to celebrate Christmas. Researching the facts was the easy part—history has never hidden the pagan origins of Christmas and how its customs became integrated into the church by powerful people who called themselves Christians but bore little resemblance to the Christians of the Bible. And finding out the truth of what the Bible says, or does not say, about Christmas was a piece of cake.
Even as a child, I could clearly see the truth of the matter, and maybe I was more primed to accept it since the memories of having been lied to about Santa Claus were still fairly fresh in my young head.
At any rate, it really wasn’t all that hard to stop celebrating Christmas. That we weren’t going to be keeping Christmas anymore was much more difficult for those who weren’t changing anything than it was for us who were! I saw my grandparents all the time throughout the year, but one would have thought their world was coming apart at the seams when we announced that we were quietly bowing out of the Christmas scene! At least they weren’t mean and spiteful about it like some people were. This decision taught me one of my early lessons in life about freedom of religion—it’s a nice notion, but in reality it usually comes with a price, such as having to deal with other people ridiculing and badgering you.
Those closest to us, though, adjusted after a while when they realized that we hadn’t turned into religious nuts, that we still loved Jesus, that we still loved them and that, because we loved them, we would continue to give and receive gifts at other times of the year … just not at Christmas. That actually turned out to work to our advantage because when we did show up with gifts for no particular reason, it was always a surprise and they knew it was a gift from the heart, not because it was the seasonally expected thing to do.
It’s probably strange to some people; but truthfully, from year one I never missed Christmas. Maybe it was the way my parents engaged me in the discovery process—I don’t remember the exact conversations we had about it, but I do remember coming to comprehend the core issue that I mentioned earlier: Mixing Christianity and Christmas just isn’t being honest with the truth.
And isn’t honesty, sincerity and truth supposed to be a cornerstone of our relationship with God? Isn’t that one of the most important gifts we can give to our children? For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough." From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/speaking-of/50-years-without-christmas/
Xmas Trash. Friday, December 27, 2013
"One last thought about Christmas and the trash that is generated. Everybody's dumpsters are overflowing with the trash, the refuse, the packaging that has been accumulated as a result of the Christmas holidays."
Transcript at: http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/christmas/xmas-trash
This Woman's Walk: A New Name
"While watching a BT Daily recently, I stopped and thought back through the years to an afternoon in a park. I was sitting on a bench next to my then-fiancé, David. We were having one of many conversations about how we thought our marriage would work. In this particular conversation, I had stated that once we were married, I would like my name to be hyphenated.
I wanted to be Joy Elliott-Jones. I liked the ring of it. It sounded modern, and suited the woman that I wanted to be: headstrong, independent, career-focused, making my own way. The truth was that I was not ready to give up my own personal identity to take up that of another. I liked being an “Elliott”. I didn’t want to surrender completely to becoming a wife. I wanted to hold onto who I had been and keep it with me in our marriage. In my head, marriage looked less like “two becoming one” and more like “two remaining two, but sharing living space.”
I explained my rationale with arguments about my upcoming career, my personal identity, and my right to choose what my name should be. To my ears, my points seemed so reasonable! After I had spoken for what seemed like a long time, I felt satisfied that he would understand and agree. I had made an impassioned argument and I felt confident that he would see my side. I was wrong.
When he did speak, though, he started by explaining that his family name, Jones, was not one of which he was proud. His father had done a good deal to damage that name before abandoning the family that carried it. He had grown up on financial assistance, and he felt as though that label followed him and affected how people saw him.
David wanted to build and strengthen that name, and change what it meant to be a Jones. He wanted a wife who would stand beside him and help create that new meaning with him. He wanted a wife who would surrender her past identity as he surrendered his, to create a name that would be their own—a name worthy of praise.
I have been Joy Jones for nearly 18 years. I did surrender my “identity”, but as it turns out, taking my husband’s name was never about losing “me”. I am still me, but I am better-- I have my helpmate walking alongside me. Taking my husband’s name was not about losing myself, but simply a step in becoming his wife. There were so many more steps after that… learning to trust him, to depend upon him, to walk beside him through life’s storms and see myself as a part of him… as “two becoming one”. Those steps have not been easy, and I have stumbled my way through some of them. But now as I look back at our years together, I reflect on the effort I have seen him make to create a “new name” for himself and for our family. Today I can say, with complete conviction, that I bear my husband’s name with great love and pride.
What struck me this morning is that God is asking us each and every day to take His name and make it our own. His name is not one of which He is ashamed, and He doesn’t want us to be ashamed to wear it. He asks us to let go of our past identity and to surrender that “old man” to become all that He would have us to be: His beautiful bride.
God’s gift to us of His name is beautifully stated in the book of Isaiah: “…do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine…” (Isaiah 43:1). God gives His name to us, and we have to take it and really make it our own. Just like I did in my own marriage, we will stumble at times, but our Beloved’s hand will be ready to pick us back up. I am living proof that there is truly beauty in the surrender to something greater." From: http://www.ucg.org/blog/womans-walk-new-name/ by Joy Jones
3 Lies Every Woman Needs to Stop Believing
"If you’ve flipped on a radio station or picked up a magazine recently, chances are you’re aware of the highly controversial teen pop star Miley Cyrus. Miley made headline news with her performance (which we won’t describe) at the 2013 Video Music Awards. She stirred up further controversy with her provocative music video for the song “Wrecking Ball,” in which she appears nude.
Miley’s reputation, however, was not always so shocking. As the former star of Disney’s Hannah Montana TV series, Miley once portrayed a far more wholesome image. Miley Cyrus grew up attending church and even wore a purity ring. Now she has become known for her increasingly provocative clothing and sexually explicit routines.
What happened to the wholesome image?
Miley is not the only celebrity to undergo an outward transformation. Well-known singer Katy Perry also grew up in a religious home and lived a conservative lifestyle until her music career began to take off. Now she is known for her sexy clothing, provocative music videos and hard-edged lyrics.
With such influential role models on the scene, what kinds of messages are being sent to us about beauty and femininity? Is it possible that society is broadcasting some very powerful messages that are actually false?
Consider the following three false messages that are currently being sent to women—and especially to young girls—through celebrities and modern fashion.
Both Miley and Katy have undergone complete transformations. But what was wrong with how they looked before?
False Message No. 1: You’re not good enough the way you are.
Truth: Your worth is not determined by what you see in the mirror; your worth is determined by the God who created you.
False Message No. 2: It’s all about the image.
Truth: True beauty is not dependent on how you look, but on how you act.
False Message No. 3: Being sexy and alluring is fun and powerful.
Truth: You teach people how to treat you. When you treat yourself with respect, others will too."
Complete article at: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/blog/3-lies-every-woman-needs-to-stop-believing/ by Debbie G. Pierce and Vivienne Villaescusa
The program on WGN TV this morning:
A Thief in the Night
"Jesus said to "be ready" for the horrific events of the day of the Lord. Don't let yourself be caught off guard. Learn how."
On This Day:
Germans raid London, Dec 29, 1940:
"On this day, German aircraft blanket incendiary bombs over London, setting both banks of the Thames ablaze and killing almost 3,600 British civilians.
A double-decker bus drove into a bomb crater in Balham, south London
The German targeting of the English capital had begun back in August, payback for British attacks on Berlin. In September, a horrendous firestorm broke out in London's poorest districts as German aircraft dropped 337 tons of bombs on docks, tenements, and teeming streets. The "London Blitz" killed thousands of civilians.
December 29 saw the widespread destruction not just of civilians, but of great portions of London's cultural relics. Historic buildings were severely damaged or destroyed as relentless bombing set 15,000 separate fires. Among the architectural treasures that proved casualties of the German assault were the Guildhall (the administrative center of the city, dating back to 1673 but also containing a 15th-century vault) and eight Christopher Wren churches. St. Paul's Cathedral also caught fire but was saved from being burned to the ground by brave, tenacious firefighters. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Chamber of the House of Commons were also hit but suffered less extensive damage.
Fighting the blazes was made all the more difficult by an unfortunate low tide, which made drawing water a problem."
From me: I remember the bombings very well. During the course of the war, I would go to school and find out which of my class mates had been killed during the night. I was very fortunate, I just got a hurt foot.
After the animals had their breakfasts and Wendy and I had our Saturday phone call, I got ready for church.
Jay called and said that he was going too. When I went to pick him up, he was wearing sunglasses to cover his scabs and black eye. But he didn't have his arm in a sling, as he said it was too constricting. I don't think it could have been really broken. The teen that often hangs around him, was there too, and he said that Bret was going to church, too. Bret said that he often went to church, but when we were looking up Bible verses, he didn't know his way around the Book.
The Bible readings were the continuation of Genesis 37:1 - 40:23. About Joseph being sold into slavery, imprisoned in Egypt, and he interpreted the dreams. The other reading was Amos 2:1-3:8.
The song service was great, as usual. The talk was about God's Mysterious Ways, and one example was from Acts 16:26. There came a great earthquake which broke up the foundations and doors of the jail, and broke the feet stocks of Paul and Silas. Thinking that his prisoners had gone, the jailer was going to kill himself, but Paul and Silas had not escaped, knowing what would happen to the jailer. That made the jailer and all his family believe in God.
The potluck and fellowship was great, though I did think it was a bit much that Bret went back for four helpings.