Sunday, December 25, 2022

Twelve Christmas Traditions With Pagan Origins

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Twelve Christmas Traditions With Pagan Origins.

 

Many Christmas traditions do not derive from the Christian religion.

“Many Christmas traditions do not derive from the Christian religion.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Pagan Christmas Traditions

“Do you celebrate Pagan Christmas traditions? Your first instinct would probably be to say 'No!', but you might be surprised.

Christmas is a time of year steeped in tradition, from the actual day itself to the tree we decorate and the presents we place under it.

Even those people who are not overly religious know that Christmas is a Christian festival, so you would think that it would follow that all the modern Christmas traditions developed as part of early Christian celebrations. Right?

Wrong!

Here we outline 12 Christmas traditions that share origins with the Pagan religion:

  1. Holly
  2. Mistletoe
  3. Ivy
  4. Laurel Wreaths
  5. Odin
  6. Romans Gave Gifts at Saturnia
  7. Wassailing
  8. Green Leaves and Red Berries
  9. Group Singing
  10. The Yule Log
  11. Winter Solstice
  12. Candles

Which Modern Christmas Traditions Have Their Origins in Pagan Festivals?

There are lots of Pagan customs in Christianity. Early Christians adapted their Pagan customs to fit their new Christian beliefs, hiding their original meanings and giving them new ones.

We can thank the Romans and Celts for most of our modern-day Christmas traditions.

Festival of Saturnia

The festival of Saturnalia, an ancient Pagan holiday which honoured the Roman God Saturn, took place every year between the 17th and 24th December. This was basically a week of eating, drinking and giving presents during the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice.

Likewise, the Celts celebrated the fact that the winter solstice had arrived and rejoiced at the fact that the nights were once more getting lighter and spring was only just around the corner.

Disagreements Around Religious Beliefs

The early Christian church tried very hard to ban Pagan customs and encourage its converts to follow Christ, but the people were not to be convinced. Winter was a dark and depressing time, and they were keen to keep their winter solstice festivities. Eventually, the church realized that they couldn't ban all festivities, so they provided their followers with an alternative option: a festival which honoured the birth of Jesus Christ that eventually gave us the Pagan-originating Christmas traditions that we celebrate today.

Holly With Red Berries

Holly With Red Berries

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

1. The Pagan Origins of Holly

In Roman mythology, holly was the sacred plant of the god Saturn, and to honor him at the Saturnalia festival, the Romans gave each other gifts of holly wreaths.

When Christians began to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they risked being persecuted for their new religion, and to avoid detection, they would place holly wreaths in their houses. As far as passers-by were concerned, they were celebrating Saturnalia, not Christmas.

The Increasing Popularity of Christmas

Gradually, Christian popularity increased, their customs became commonplace, and holly lost its links to Paganism and became a traditional symbol of Christmas.

Over the centuries, holly has become a symbol of peace and joy, and people often settled disputes under a holly tree.

In Germany, a sprig of holly that was used in church decorations is believed to protect homes from lightning, and in England, farmers decorated their beehives with holly because they believed that at the first Christmas, bees hummed in honor of the baby Jesus.

These beliefs all contributed towards 'decking the halls with boughs of holly' being popular at Christmas.

Wild Druid Mistletoe

Wild Druid Mistletoe

Alexbrn [Public domain]

2. The Druids Beliefs About Mistletoe

Mistletoe was revered as a sacred plant by the Celts, the Norse, and the North American Native Americans.

Druids believed that mistletoe could protect against thunder and lightning. Priests would use a golden sickle to cut a piece of mistletoe from an oak tree, catching the branches before they reached the ground. The mistletoe would then be cut into small pieces and distributed amongst the people.

Mistletoe was also recognized as a druidic symbol of joy and peace. If enemies met each other underneath the woodland mistletoe, they were obliged to put down their weapons and form a truce until the following day.

This is where the custom of hanging a sprig ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and kissing under it originates from.

Ivy was adorned by the Romans.

Ivy was adorned by the Romans.

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

3. The Roman God Bacchus Wore Ivy

In Roman times, ivy was the symbol of Bacchus, who was the god of wine and revelry. He wore it in his crown, and Pagans believed ivy to be a symbol of eternal life.

Because of the Pagan connotations surrounding ivy, early Christians did not use ivy to decorate the inside of their churches, preferring to use it as an outdoor decoration.

It also plays an important part in a traditional English Christmas but is not so popular in the U.S. The popularity of the Christmas hymn 'The Holly and the Ivy' has helped ivy to become synonymous with Christmas time.

Roman Evergreens

Roman Evergreens

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

4. The Romans Made Laurel Wreaths

Laurel or bay leaves were popular with the Pagan Romans because the leaves were sacred to Apollo, the sun god.

The ancient Romans used decorative wreaths, made from laurel wreaths as a sign of victory, and it is believed that this is where the seasonal hanging of wreaths on doors came from.

In northern Europe, laurel leaves were not commonplace, and instead, evergreen branches were gathered and used to decorate houses at Christmas, either as swags or shaped into wreaths.

Probably the most common evergreen used today is the Christmas tree, whose origins are more Victorian than Pagan, but wreaths and swags still play an important part of our decorating, even though they are nowadays often made from artificial materials.

Father Christmas or Pagan Odin?

Father Christmas or Pagan Odin?

LadyDragonflyCC <3 via photopin cc

5. The Pagan God Odin

Despite the fact that our modern-day image of Father Christmas has largely been shaped by a 1930s Coca-Cola advertising campaign, he most definitely has Pagan roots.

Children all over the world are told that Father Christmas developed from St. Nicholas, but those people that follow Paganism know there is more to the story than that. There was a Pagan god named Odin, often depicted as a chubby old man with a white beard who wore a long flowing cloak.

It is, therefore, a combination of these two characters, and a liberal sprinkling of Coca Cola advertising that has resulted in who we now call Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

Christmas gifts or gifts for Saturnia?

Christmas gifts or gifts for Saturnia?

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

6. The Romans Gave Gifts at Saturnalia

The custom of giving presents at Christmas originated from Saturnalia, the Roman feast of Saturn.

The gifts that the Romans gave to each other were small and given for luck. Charity towards those who were less fortunate was also very popular at this time of year.

The humble beginning of gift-giving has developed over the years and is now a multi-million-pound business, causing many people to say that the art of gift-giving has been replaced by mass consumerism and greed.

Wassail is a traditional holiday beverage.

Wassail is a traditional holiday beverage.

Jeremy Tarling from London, United Kingdom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa

7. Anglo-Saxon Wassailing

Wassailing is an ancient custom that is not seen very often today.

The word derives from the Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', which translates to 'good health'.

The wassail drink was originally made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, spices, and sugar, and was served from large silver bowls, may be holding as much as ten gallons.

A modern day alternative to this would be mulled wine, red wine, and spices that is served hot.

Red and green colour theme

Red and green colour theme

8. Pagans Loved Green Leaves and Red Berries

The traditional Christmas colors of red and green are complementary colors that represent fertility.

Pagan-derived decorations that are still seen at Christmas time include the green leaves and red berries of holly, mistletoe and wreaths.

Red and green are the traditional colors for Christmas tree baubles, but in recent years many more colors have become available, often changing yearly with the latest fashions. In recent years, turquoise, pink, purple, and orange have been seen on the best-dressed trees.

Christmas carols or Pagan songs?

Christmas carols or Pagan songs?

infomatique via photopin cc

9. The Pagans Sang at the Winter Solstice

Carols have been sung for thousands of years, but they were not originally Christmas carols.

Originally, they were Pagan songs that were sung at the celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice festival.

The word 'carol' actually means a song or dance of joy and praise! They were written and sung during all four seasons, but it was only the tradition of singing them at Christmas that survived!

A Yule log is decorated before being burned.

A Yule log is decorated before being burned.

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

10. Europeans Burned a Yule Log

The Yule log is a reminder of the times when European Pagans would have bonfires during the winter solstice, thereby symbolising the return of the sun with the days starting to get longer again.

Acquiring a Yule Log

The Yule log played a major role in the Yule festivities, with a piece of the previous year's log being saved to start the fire the following year.

Traditionally, it was considered unlucky to buy a log, and instead, it was harvested from the householder's land or received as a gift.

Once brought into the house and placed ceremoniously in the fireplace, it was decorated with greenery, smothered with alcohol, and dusted with flour before being set on fire. The log would then burn all night before smouldering for twelve days.

Yule Log Mythology

Celtic mythology told the stories of the Oak King and Holly King, with the oak representing the time from the winter solstice to the summer solstice and the holly representing the time from the summer solstice to the winter solstice.

Today, Yule logs are often represented by a chocolate-covered Swiss roll cake, sprinkled with icing sugar to represent the flour that was dusted onto the log before burning, and decorated with small plastic sprigs of holly.

11. A Pagan Holiday Adapted to Christianity

Winter Solstice was celebrated all over Europe, and as nobody was really sure when Jesus was actually born, early Christians altered their existing Pagan festivities to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ during the same time.

In December, the sun appears to rise at the same point on the horizon for the three consecutive days beginning on the 22nd and then miraculously, on the 25th, it appears to move. Our ancient ancestors watched this and celebrated the fact that the days were now beginning to get longer and the dark nights shorter.

It is hard for us to understand how important sunlight was to our ancestors and how it affected their quality of life. Typically people would live and work during daylight hours, so the long and dark winter months must have seemed never-ending.

Also, they would have been relying on their store of grains and crops from the previous summer to tide them over until the following year and would be eager to plant new crops and receive some fresh food to eat.

Roman candles

Roman candles

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

12. Candles Were Used During Saturnalia

Throughout history, candles have been used to ward off darkness and evil.

The first use of candles in December was during the Roman Saturnalia festival, where tall tapers of wax were offered to Saturn as a symbol of his light and also given as a gift to guests.

The Pagans also used candles during their Yule festivities, with candlelight and bonfires being used to welcome the nights beginning to get lighter.

As Christianity became more widespread, candles were put in the front windows of houses in order to guide Jesus as he went from house to house on Christmas Eve. 

Did You Realize That Pagan Christmas Traditions Are Still Celebrated Today?

From: https://holidappy.com/holidays/twelve-christmas-traditions-with-pagan-origins

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Some comments:

Krampus on December 20, 2018:

Its amazing how even after reading this, people like delusional Danny over here still don’t get "the reason for the season" - its the roman god Saturn. Not Jesus.

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Danny on December 19, 2018:

I m a Christian and didn’t realize all the Paganism associated with Christmas. I need to reevaluate how I’m celebrating the holiday. Don’t want to give the enemy no reason to think this is done in its honor. I don’t agree with all the extras man has made Christmas to be. Corporations have become too too greedy not even allowing their employees to spend the day with their families. The true meaning has gotten lost with little hope of ever returning.

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Libby on December 19, 2018:

Also, it is believed that ancient Pagans would bring a tree into their home during the winter months to keep the “wood spirits” warm. They would place little gifts on the tree, such as food and bells. It was believed that if a bell was rung, it was an appreciative spirit. So the Christmas tree may actually be a tradition that goes back even longer than Victorian times. It’s only evolved into what it is today.

The pagans were celebrating with an evergreen tree 600 years before Christ was born. See Jer.10

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William on December 16, 2018:

I find it interesting how many Christians don't know this information. If one goes back and looks at the history of the Christian faith they will see that most of the holidays they celebrate come from paganism, and not going to start on the wars and blood shed.

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See more at: https://historycollection.com/16-pagan-christmas-traditions-that-people-mistakenly-credit-to-christianity/

and: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-unexpected-pagan-origins-of-popular-christmas-traditions/

Search “Christmas traditions with pagan roots” and see what shows up!!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Christmas Before Christ? Christmas: Is It “What You Make It”? Diet and Lifestyle for Cancer Prevention and Survival.

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Christmas Before Christ?

Santa Claus putting gifts under a Christmas tree.Nastco/iStock/Getty Images Plus

“The pagans were cutting down everlasting trees and decking them with gold and silver many centuries before Christ was born, see Jeremiah 10 which was written in the 6th century BEFORE Christ’s birth!” See Jeremiah 10:2-5

“2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

“The Surprising Story.  Most people know the Bible doesn’t direct us to celebrate Christmas. Does it make any difference as long as it’s intended to honor God and bring families together?

None of the symbols, traditions or even characters, like Santa Claus, has any basis in biblical teaching. So where did they come from?

At this time of year it’s fairly common to see programs like the one titled “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas,” which aired on the A&E (Arts & Entertainment) cable television channel. The promo for the program read:

“People all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th. But why is the Savior’s nativity marked by gift-giving, and was He really born on that day? And just where did the Christmas tree come from?

“Take an enchanting journey through the history of the world’s favorite holiday to learn the origins of some of the Western world’s most enduring traditions. Trace the emergence of Christmas from pagan festivals like the Roman Saturnalia, which celebrated the winter solstice.”

This program addressed the fact that Santa Claus is fictitious and that Christmas and its trappings emanate from pagan Roman festivals, as many other sources corroborate.

Is there more to these ancient traditions and practices than meets the eye? And, more important, does it make any difference whether we continue in them?

Celebration of the sun god

It may sound odd that any religious celebration with Christ’s name attached to it could predate Christianity. Yet the holiday we know as Christmas long predates Jesus Christ. Elements of the celebration can be traced to ancient Egypt, Babylon and Rome. This fact certainly calls into question the understanding and wisdom of those who, over the millennia, have insisted on perpetuating its observance throughout the Christian world.

Members of the early Church would have been astonished at the customs and practices we associate with Christmas being incorporated into a celebration of Christ’s birth. Not until centuries after them would His name be attached to this popular Roman holiday.

As Alexander Hislop explains in his book The Two Babylons: “It is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that the day of our Lord’s birth cannot be determined, and that within the Christian Church no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century, and that not till the fourth century was far advanced did it gain much observance” (1959, pp. 92-93).

As for how Dec. 25 became associated with Christ’s birth, virtually any book on the history of Christmas will explain that this day was celebrated in the Roman Empire as the birthday of the sun god. For example, the book 4000 Years of Christmas says: “For that day was sacred, not only to the pagan Romans but to a religion from Persia which, in those days, was one of Christianity’s strongest rivals. This Persian religion was Mithraism, whose followers worshiped the sun, and celebrated its return to strength on that day” (Earl and Alice Count, 1997, p. 37).

Not only was Dec. 25 honored as the birthday of the sun, but a festival had long been observed among the pagan nations of celebrating the growing amount of daylight after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The precursor of Christmas was in fact an idolatrous winter festival characterized by excess and debauchery that predated Christianity by many centuries.

Pre-Christian practices incorporated

This ancient festival went by different names in various cultures. In Rome it was called the Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. The observance was adopted by early Roman church leaders and given the name of Christ (“Christ mass,” or Christmas) to permit pagans converting to Christianity to continue in their former practices, helping to swell the number of nominal adherents of Christianity.

The tendency on the part of third-century Catholic leadership was to meet paganism halfway—a practice made clear in a bitter lament by the Carthaginian theologian Tertullian.

In A.D. 230 he wrote of the inconsistency of professing Christians, contrasting their compromising practices with the pagans’ strict adherence to their own beliefs: “By us who are strangers to Sabbaths, and new moons, and festivals once acceptable to God [referring to the biblical festivals spelled out in Leviticus 23, which they failed to embrace], the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din . . . Oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to THEIR religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians” (Hislop, p. 93, emphasis added throughout).

Failing to make much headway in converting the pagans, the religious leaders of the Roman church began compromising by dressing the heathen customs in Christian-looking garb. But, rather than converting them to the church’s beliefs, the church largely converted to non-Christian customs in its own practices.

Although the early Catholic Church at first opposed this celebration, “the festival was far too strongly entrenched in popular favor to be abolished, and the Church finally granted the necessary recognition, believing that if Christmas could not be suppressed, it should be preserved in honor of the Christian God. Once given a Christian basis the festival became fully established in Europe with many of its pagan elements undisturbed” (Man, Myth & Magic: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion, and the Unknown, Richard Cavendish, editor, 1983, Vol. 2, p. 480, “Christmas”).

Celebration wins out over Scripture

Some resisted such spiritually poisonous compromises, but it was not enough: “Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under Pagan superstition. That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin” (Hislop, p. 93).

The aforementioned Tertullian wasn’t alone in objecting to compromise. “As late as 245 Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ as if he were a king Pharaoh” (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. 6, p. 293, “Christmas”).

Christmas was not made a Roman holiday until 534 (ibid.). It took 300 years for the new name and symbols of Christmas to replace the old names and meaning of the winter festival, a pagan celebration that reaches back so many centuries.

No biblical support for Santa Claus

How did the mythical Santa Claus figure enter the picture? Here, too, many books are available to shed light on the origins of this popular character.

“Santa Claus” is an American corruption of the Dutch form Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas, a figure brought to America by the early Dutch colonists (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. 19, p. 649, “Nicholas, St.”). This is often said to refer to St. Nicholas, bishop of the city of Myra in southern Asia Minor, a Catholic saint honored on Dec. 6.

He was bishop of Myra in the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian, was persecuted, tortured for the Catholic faith and kept in prison until the more tolerant reign of Constantine (ibid.). Various stories claim a link from Christmas to St. Nicholas, all of them having to do with gift-giving on the eve of St. Nicholas, subsequently transferred to Christmas Day (ibid.). Yet the link is questionable, and other suggestions have been proposed.

In any case, we might wonder how a bishop from the sunny Mediterranean coast of Turkey came to be associated with a red-suited man who lives at the north pole and rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.

Knowing what we’ve already learned about the ancient pre-Christian origins of Christmas, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Santa Claus, too, is nothing but a figure recycled from ancient pagan beliefs.

The trappings associated with him—his fur-trimmed wardrobe, sleigh and reindeer—reveal his connection to the cold climates of the far North. Some sources trace him to the ancient Northern European gods Woden and Thor (Earl and Alice Count, pp. 56-64). Others trace him even farther back in time to the Roman god Saturn and the Greek god Silenus (William Walsh, The Story of Santa Klaus, pp. 70-71).

Was Jesus born in December?

Most Bible scholars who have written on the subject of Jesus’ birth conclude that, based on evidence in the Bible itself and knowledge of the climate of the Holy Land, there is no possible way Christ could have been born anywhere near Dec. 25.

Again we turn to Alexander Hislop: “There is not a word in the Scriptures about the precise day of [Jesus’] birth, or the time of the year when He was born. What is recorded there implies that at what time soever His birth took place, it could not have been on the 25th of December. At the time that the angel announced His birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem, they were feeding their flocks by night in the open fields . . . The climate of Palestine . . . from December to February, is very piercing, and it was not the custom for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fields later than about the end of October” (Hislop, p. 91, emphasis in original).

He goes on to explain that the autumn rains beginning in September or October in Judea would mean that the events surrounding Christ’s birth recorded in the Scriptures could not have taken place later than mid-October, so Jesus’ birth likely took place earlier in the fall (Hislop, p. 92).

Further evidence supporting Jesus’ birth in the autumn is that the Romans were intelligent enough not to set the time for taxation and travel in the winter. And it would have been quite hazardous for Joseph and his expectant wife Mary to have made the trip from Nazareth to his ancestral home of Bethlehem so late in the year. As recorded by Luke, Mary delivered Jesus in Bethlehem during the time of census and taxation—which, again, no rational official would have scheduled for winter.

What difference does it make?

The Bible gives us no reason—and certainly no instruction—to support the myths and fables of Christmas and Santa Claus. They are contrary to the ways of Christ and His holy truth. “Learn not the way of the heathen,” God tells us (Jeremiah 10:2, King James Version).

Professing Christians should examine the background of the Christmas holiday symbols and stop telling their children that Santa Claus and his elves, reindeer and Christmas gift-giving are connected with Jesus Christ. Emphatically they are not! God hates lying (Proverbs 6:16-19; 12:22).

Christ reveals that Satan the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). Parents should tell their children the truth about God and this world’s contrary and confusing ways. If we don’t, we only perpetuate the notion that it’s acceptable for parents to lie to their children.

God specifically commands His people not to do what early church leaders did when they incorporated idolatrous practices and relabeled them Christian. Before they entered the Promised Land, God gave the Israelites a stern warning to not worship Him with pagan practices: “Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them [the inhabitants of the land], . . . and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’

You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods . . . Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:30-32).

Many centuries later the apostle Paul raised up churches in many gentile cities. To the members of the Church of God in Corinth, a Greek city steeped in idolatry, Paul wrote: “. . . What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial [or Wickedness personified, here in reference to Satan]? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?

“For you are the temple of the living God . . . Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ . . . Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 7:1).

Instead of approving of any notion of church members renaming and celebrating customs associated with false gods as now Christian, Paul’s instructions were clear: They were to have nothing to do with such practices. He similarly told Athenians who were steeped in idolatry, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

God alone has the right to decide the special days on which we are to worship Him. Jesus Christ plainly tells us that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). We cannot honor God in truth with false practices adopted from the worship of false gods.

Jesus said: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). Even if Christians mean well when they observe Christmas, that does not make it okay. God is not amused or pleased!

The knowledge of how to truly honor God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ has been made available to you. Will you live by the revealed truth of God or follow the wayward traditions of mankind?”  From:  https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/christmas-before-christ-the-surprising-story

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Christmas: Is It “What You Make It”?

Christmas: Is It “What You Make It”?“What do Santa and the Bible have in common? Nothing, actually. Christ said that those who worship Him must worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The source of truth is the Bible—not the traditions of ancient pagan religions or humanly devised myths about Christ’s birth.

Some say that Christmas is what you make it. Yet, since it’s supposedly the birthday of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we ask what His opinion of Christmas is?

“Christmas is what you make it.”

To me, the words coming from the radio were shocking. By themselves, they might have just been an attempt to create the “holiday spirit.” Yet, in the context of the commercial that was playing, those words took on a whole new meaning.

The commercial had discussed the origins of Christmas. It mentioned the fact that Christmas has its roots in paganism (that is, cultures that worshipped gods—often elements of nature—other than the true God), mostly in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia (named after the chief Roman god Saturn). The commercial brought up the fact that the Puritans in New England had banned the celebration of the holiday.

With a background like this, how can Christmas just be “what you make it”?

Origins of Christmas

When you look at the origins of Christmas, you quickly realize that the commercial was correct. Christ had nothing to do with the origins of this holiday—the Catholic Church simply attached His name to the holiday in the third century.

Here are a few elements of Christmas and their pagan origins:

  • The date of Dec. 25: This date is not derived from the Bible. In fact, a strictly biblical examination of Christ’s birth strongly rules out December since the census mentioned in Luke 2 would have been unlikely in the rainy winter months and shepherds wouldn’t have kept their flocks out at night during the winter season.

Instead, the date comes from a number of pagan festivals in the ancient world that were based around the winter solstice. Examples of pagan festivals that were held around this time were Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (birth of the invincible sun god), Saturnalia and the birthday celebration of Mithra.

  • Exchange of gifts: Ever wonder why Christ is the only One who doesn’t receive gifts on what’s supposed to be His birthday? The answer lies in a study of the Roman festival of Saturnalia. During this weeklong festival, the often drunk and unruly festivalgoers would exchange gifts. We encourage you to learn more about the customs of Saturnalia.
  • Santa Claus: What does an obese, old man in a bright red suit have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? Nothing! The modern image of Santa Claus was derived from a figure called Saint Nicholas who lived in Turkey during the third century. Other sources make a link between the name Nicholas and the ungodly Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation 2:6.
  • The Christmas tree: The evergreen tree was seen as special in pagan religions because it lived (remained green) during the winter months. Interestingly, the Bible even mentions “green trees” in the negative context of pagan worship (Deuteronomy 12:2; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10). Many historical sources trace the tradition of decorating a tree to Germanic paganism, but the Bible shows that a form of this tradition went all the way back to the sixth century B.C. (Jeremiah 10:1-5).

Many of these facts are widely known. In fact, we at Life, Hope & Truth encourage you to research the origins of Christmas further. There are various historical reference books that provide a detailed history of the origin of its pagan customs.

What does Christ think of Christmas?

Since Dec. 25 is celebrated as His birthday, it makes sense to pose the question: What does Jesus Christ make of Christmas?

To answer that question, we have to go to the Bible. When we try to discover what it says about the origins of Christmas, we find that it has no basis in Scripture.

In Deuteronomy 12:29-32 God instructed ancient Israel that they should not incorporate pagan practices and teachings into their worship of Him. Jeremiah 10:1-5 describes an idolatrous custom of using a tree decorated in gold and silver for worship. The description in some English translations seems remarkably similar to modern-day Christmas tree customs. In this passage God specifically says, “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles” (heathens) (verse 2).

Christ said that those who worship Him must worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). That means that our worship of Him must be based entirely on truth. The source of truth is the Bible (John 17:17)—not the traditions of ancient pagan religions or humanly devised myths about Christ’s birth.

What will you decide?

Now that you know the origins of Christmas and what the Bible reveals—what will you make of Christmas? Will you just gloss over the history of the day and convince yourself that its popular meaning—giving to the poor, peace and goodwill toward all men—overshadows the pagan, unbiblical origins of the day?

Or will you commit yourself to heeding Christ’s admonition to worship Him in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24)?

In Leviticus 23 God reveals an entirely different set of religious observances—His Holy Days. These days are taught in the Bible and have deep meaning for Christians today.

The question remains: What do you make of Christmas?

To learn more about the origins of popular holidays as well as the true festivals God commands, download our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.                            From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/blog/christmas-is-it-what-you-make-it/

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Diet and Lifestyle for Cancer Prevention and Survival

  

Transcript of YouTube: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/diet-and-lifestyle-for-cancer-prevention-and-survival/?

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. 

“Cancer prevalence is predicted to continue to increase, but the good news is that between 30 and 50 percent of the most common cancers might be preventable through diet and lifestyle changes. Take breast cancer, for example, the most common female internal cancer diagnosis in the United States, and the second leading cause of female cancer death after lung cancer. But “there is a growing body of evidence that breast cancer incidence can be reduced with an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes a high-quality diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes”––like beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils.

Greater adherence to a more Mediterranean-style diet was associated with a lower risk of cancer mortality, including less breast cancer. An analysis of the individual components of the Mediterranean diet revealed that the protective effects appear to be most attributable to eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, contributing to mounting evidence that a plant-based diet is the most beneficial dietary pattern for breast cancer survivors.

Wait; the same diet that can help you prevent cancer can also help you survive cancer? That’s one of the 10 recommendations from the prestigious American Institute for Cancer Research. After a cancer diagnosis, follow the same recommendations to maintain a healthy weight; exercise; eat a diet rich in four things: whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans. But limit fast food and processed junk. And limit consumption of meats, soda, and alcohol.

Okay, but does adherence to these guidelines actually translate into less cancer? Yes, it substantially reduced the risk of total cancer, providing robust evidence that the guidelines for cancer prevention should be widely disseminated in society. About half the folks were failing the healthy weight and physical activity departments, but more than 90 percent were failing on eating enough plant foods, or limiting enough meat and processed junk. But I guess the glass 10 percent full interpretation is that given that many people do not meet the recommendations, there is a great potential for cancer prevention.

Specific to breast cancer risk, women who met most of those recommendations only had half the breast cancer risk, compared to women who only nailed a couple. If you could only do one of those recommendations, limiting animal foods seemed most protective.

Adherence to the recommendations was also associated with higher survival in cancer patients who already have cancer. This was also true for older female cancer survivors, most of whom were suffering from breast cancer.

A good proxy for whole plant food intake is dietary fiber, since it’s not found in animal foods, and is depleted or completely absent in processed foods. And higher dietary fiber consumption was associated with a 37 percent lower risk of dying from all causes put together, and 28 percent lower risk of dying specifically from breast cancer among breast cancer survivors. And it didn’t take much. There was like a 10 percent drop in death risk for every five grams a day increment in dietary fiber intake. That’s just like a cup of oatmeal or broccoli, or a third of a cup of beans. A cancer diagnosis may provide a “teachable moment” for cancer survivors to make positive changes in their health behaviors.

Even more importantly, higher fiber intake may help prevent breast cancer in the first place. Yes, fiber could help directly by feeding your good gut flora, which then produce anti-inflammatory compounds, or it could just be an indicator of total whole plant-food intake.

Adherence to the cancer prevention recommendations isn’t just associated with higher survival in cancer patients and lower risk of dying from cancer, but lower risk of dying overall. That’s the beauty of eating a more plant-based diet. The same diet that’s anti-cancer is also anti-heart disease, and even, apparently, anti-lung disease. Conclusion: Results of this study suggest that following the cancer prevention diet and lifestyle recommendations could signi´Čücantly increase longevity.”  From: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/diet-and-lifestyle-for-cancer-prevention-and-survival/?

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Sunday, December 11, 2022

A Biblical Worldview. Do You Face Obstacles, Challenges or Hardships? 13 Reasons Why Eating Pork Is Bad For Your Health.

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A Biblical Worldview 

“I was recently introduced to a book about the state of religion in America. It’s titled: “American Worldview Inventory 2021-22: The Annual Report on the State of Worldview in the United States.” The author is George Barna of the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. Barna is known for his surveys of the state of American religion. I was amazed while reading the book to find how the views of many claiming to be Christian, and holding a belief in the Bible, are really at odds with what the Bible teaches.  

Barna’s data reveals that 64% of those who profess to be Christian believe that all faiths are of equal value. This does not square with what the Bible teaches. Acts 4:12 says “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” It is very plain. Only in the name of Jesus Christ is there the hope of salvation. You cannot profess to be Christian and deny such specific teaching as this.   

Barna also discovered that no more than 6% of Americans hold a true biblical worldview. A worldview is the frame by which we view the world. To believe the Bible is the Word of God and to live by every Word of God is to live a life based on that book. The Bible must form the view of a Christian’s world. More than 90% of Americans hold a different view. The conclusion of this remarkable study shows that most professing Christians hold a combination of differing incompatible beliefs. The result is a set of beliefs that pose a threat to biblical truth.   

The Bible and biblical teaching have been de-emphasized and minimized out of our schools and out of our Christian lives. This results in what Scripture describes: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).    

Barna’s research reveals most Americans think of themselves as a Christian, and a majority still think that Christianity is “kind of” about the Bible. Though many Americans believe they have a “biblical worldview,” very few do. There is a large gulf between what people think the Bible says and what it really does say.

Does what you believe about the Bible square with what the Bible really teaches?

Does your worldview match with what Scripture reveals about the conditions of human nature, this present world and God’s solution for the problems we face every day? Developing such a view is your key to understanding why the world works as it does.

It's time to take another look at the Bible and to ensure you have a correct understanding of what is says. Our study guide, “How to Understand the Bible,” begins with a helpful chapter to begin forming a solid foundation of knowledge about this most important book. Read the introduction now: Introduction: How to Understand the Bible.”     I encourage you to begin that study today.”  From: https://us1.campaign-archive.com/?e=72c729d811&u=1d04480cefc2e7c4492fe4a04&id=544da97e98

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Do you face obstacles, challenges or hardships that you feel you will never be able to overcome? 

“Is there a difficulty that seems impossible for you to solve, or have you suffered a misfortune you believe will be impossible to ever get past?

So did a young man named Todd Jones, and I want to share part of his story with you.  This is what he faced before he became a most famous voice.  Long before he became famous, Todd was just a young boy, born in Mississippi in 1931, of African, Cherokee, Choctaw and Irish descent. While he was still very young, his family moved all the way to Dublin, Michigan, where he grew up, went to school and later to college.

But life was difficult for Todd, because he had a problem, an obstacle, a serious hardship he had to face: Todd stuttered. I don’t mean just a little. Todd stuttered a LOT! It was so embarrassing and distressing to try to communicate with the spoken word that Todd became very withdrawn, and almost mute. He would attempt to speak only with family and a very few friends who were patient with his terrible stutter. In school he appeared to be withdrawn, sullen and almost never spoke.

However, Todd had a keen sense of observation, and he had a sharp mind. Since the spoken word eluded him, Todd turned to the written word, poetry in particular. He could memorize a poem with little effort, and enjoyed writing poetry as well. As a freshman at Dickerson High School, Todd was drawn to an English teacher by the name of Donald Crouch. Mr. Crouch cared for all his students, but he was especially drawn to Todd. He saw so much potential, and he wanted to find a way to draw out the gifts of this withdrawn and nearly mute young man. Mr. Crouch noticed Todd’s love of poetry, so one day he assigned his students the task of writing an original poem. The subject didn’t matter, so long as it was something they felt passionate about, and the poetry was original. Poetry was their homework that night.

During that time, as a way to help public health, the government began shipping truckloads of Florida citrus fruit to places like Michigan. When a crate of ruby red grapefruit arrived at Todd’s house, he thought it the most beautiful fruit he had ever tasted, and it inspired his poem: “Ode to a Grapefruit.” When Mr. Crouch handed the students’ poems back with grades and his comments, he held one back, and he did something most teachers today would never dare do: he put a young man on the spot. He called on Todd to come to the front and read his poem to the class.

Everyone was stunned. They knew how Todd stuttered. Why would Mr. Crouch do that? How painful would it be for everyone to suffer through Todd reading? Todd was gripped by a cold fear. How could his favorite teacher do something like this to him? When he didn’t move, Mr. Crouch challenged him before the class. “This poem is very good. In fact, I think it is too good to be yours. If it is your poem, prove it by reciting before the class.”   Todd sat accused of being a fraud! 

Now motivated more by anger than fear, Todd stood and recited his poem in a deep, strong voice just as he had written it—clear as a bell, without a single stutter!  Mr. Crouch had noticed when Todd recited poetry, his stutter vanished, and he wanted Todd to see that too. This was the first step in a process that changed Todd’s life. Before he graduated from high school, he joined both the debate team and drama. His new love of the spoken word and performing led him to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. His career, which spans more than seven decades, took off on Broadway in 1956 when he was cast as the lead in Shakespeare’s Othello. On stage and later on the silver screen his powerful and commanding voice came to be recognized the world over.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest stage and screen actors ever, he has won an Academy Award, three Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards, a Grammy, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and he has been nominated an additional 18 times for the various awards. He is one of only a handful of actors in history who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. But you don’t know him as Todd, because early in his career he changed his name to the one you probably do know—James Earl Jones. 

He overcame a debilitating stutter to share his voice with the world as the voice of the Star Wars villain Darth Vader, and as Mufasa in the animated movie The Lion King. Do you face challenges and difficulties that you feel you will never be able to get past?  James Earl Jones had Mr. Crouch to prod and help him along. But don’t forget, we also have a lot of people to help us too!

After writing what we often refer to as the “Faith Chapter” of Hebrews 11, the author encourages us with: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

The examples in Scripture, and those we know today, all serve to prod and encourage us to move beyond trials and challenges. Of our ultimate help, the very next verse says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  We have the greatest power in the universe on our side, and He wants us to overcome and succeed!  The Father even allowed His Son to die so that we can repent, be forgiven and eventually be born into the family of God!

In Romans 8:31 Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  What a loss it would have been if an English teacher, Mr. Crouch, had never taken the time to push James Earl Jones to overcome. What a loss it will be if we do not take advantage of all the help offered by our Father, to bring us into His Kingdom! What God has in mind for each of us is something far greater than just being a most famous voice.  Kind regards, and have a great week,   Tom Clark, for Life, Hope and Truth

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13 Reasons Why Eating Pork Is Bad For Your Health

Here’s 13 reasons why eating pork is not good for your health:

1) A pig is a real garbage gut. It will consume anything, including urine, excrement, dirt, decaying animal flesh, maggots, or decaying vegetables. They will even consume the cancerous growths off different pigs or animals.

dirty pigsImage Source: Pixabay.com

2) The meat and fats of a pig absorbs toxins like a sponge. Their meat can be 30 times more toxic than beef or venison.

3) When consuming beef or venison, it takes 8 to 9 hours to digest the meat. so, what little toxins are in the meat are slowly placed into our system and can be filtered by the liver. But when pork is eaten, it takes most effective 4 hours to digest the meat. We thus get a much higher level of toxins within a shorter time.

4) Unlike other animals, a pig does not sweat or perspire. Perspiration is a means by which toxins are removed from the body. Since a pig does not sweat, the toxins remain within its body and in the meat.

porkImage Source: Pixabay.com

5) Pigs and swine are so toxic or poisonous that you could hardly ever kill them with strychnine or other poisons.

6) Farmers will frequently pen up pigs within a rattlesnake nest due to the fact that the pigs will eat the snakes, and if bitten they will not be harmed by the venom.

7) When a pig is butchered, worms and insects take to its flesh sooner and faster than to other animal’s flesh. In a few days the swine flesh is full of worms.

8) Swine and pigs have over a dozen parasites inside them, inclusive of tapeworms, flukes, worms, and trichinae. There is no safe temperature at which pork can be cooked to ensure that all these parasites, their cysts, and eggs will be killed.

9) Pig meat has a whole lot more fat than beef. A 3 oz T bone steak carries 8.5 grams of fat; a 3 oz pork chop contains 18 grams of fat. A 3 oz beef rib has 11.1 grams of fat; a 3 oz pork spare rib has 23.2 grams of fat.

Eating PorkImage Source: Pixabay.com

10) Cows have a complicated digestive system, having 4(four) stomachs. It thus takes over 24 hours to digest their vegetarian diet causing its food to be purified of toxins. In contrast, the swine’s one stomach takes approximately 4 hours to digest its foul eating regimen, turning its toxic food into flesh.

11) The swine contains about 30 diseases which can easily be passed to humans. This is why God commanded that we aren’t even to touch their carcass. (Leviticus 11:8).

12) The trichinae worm of the swine is microscopically small, and once ingested can lodge itself in our intestines, muscles, spinal cord or the brain. This results in the disease trichinosis. The signs and symptoms are sometimes lacking, however when present they are mistaken for other diseases, inclusive of typhoid, arthritis, rheumatism, gastritis, MS, meningitis, gall bladder trouble, fibromyalgia, or acute alcoholism.

13) The pig is so toxic/poisonous and filthy, that nature had to prepare him a sewer line or canal running down on each leg with an outlet in the bottom of the foot. Out of this hollow oozes pus and dirt, his body cannot pass into its system rapid enough. Some of this pus gets into the meat of the pig."

Leviticus 11 “Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: 3 Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. 4 Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is [a]unclean to you; 5 the [b]rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is [c]unclean to you; 6 the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 7 and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.” 

From: https://thepowerfulfacts.com/13-reasons-why-eating-pork-is-bad-for-your-health/

Here is what Joel Osteen says about it, YouTube:   “What Does the Bible Say About Eating Pork.”    https://youtu.be/9DLA_BRO4p4.  

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Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Birth of Jesus: Myths and Misperceptions. Fulfilled Prophecy: Jesus Born in Bethlehem. Is Soybean Oil Bad for Your Health? 21 Good Reasons to Avoid It.

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The Birth of Jesus: Myths and Misperceptions

The Birth of Jesus: Myths and Misperceptions“Jesus Christ’s birth is often depicted in artwork, movies, storybooks and nativity scenes. But do these traditional images get the story right?

The typical nativity scene depicts a manger surrounded by Mary and Joseph and animals, with three wise men arriving just after Jesus' birth. But what's wrong with this picture?

Every year during the Christmas season, churches, homes and even businesses display nativity scenes portraying the common image most people have in mind about the birth of Jesus Christ.

A Christ-child representation usually occupies center stage, lying in a manger with outstretched arms as His loving mother Mary (with Joseph standing somewhere beside or behind her) kneels, gazing adoringly down at Him. Surrounding the family will be the three wise men, wearing ornate kingly garments and bowing worshipfully. And, of course, a nativity scene wouldn’t be complete without some shepherds, sheep, cows and donkeys in close proximity.

If you have read this column in the past, you know that we often challenge traditional Christianity for inaccurately portraying Jesus and His teachings. We don’t do this just to be picky, but because we believe that when it comes to Jesus and the Bible, truth matters.

After all, the Bible claims that Jesus was the Son of God, literally God in the flesh. Doesn’t it make sense that any teaching about Him must be presented with care and fidelity to the biblical text? Sadly, many of the images in our minds of Jesus’ birth contain myths with no grounding in the biblical record.

Although Christianity celebrates His birth as one of its two most holy and sacred holidays, it’s striking that only two of the Gospel writers chose to even write about the event. Luke gives it the most attention, while Matthew covers it only very briefly. Mark and John don’t reference it at all—devoting their Gospels instead almost entirely to Jesus’ adult life, ministry and death. The later New Testament writers, such as Paul, Peter, James and Jude, don’t mention Jesus’ birthday at all!

Does that mean Jesus’ birth was insignificant? Not at all! But the fact is the Gospel writers put very little emphasis on it, meaning we have few details of the actual event. Let’s explore a couple of common myths and misperceptions regarding the birth of Jesus, and then ask the most important question.

Jesus was born on Dec. 25

Millions of people around the world celebrate Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25 (those in the Orthodox tradition celebrate it about two weeks later on Jan. 7, which is Dec. 25 on the old Julian calendar). But is there any reason to believe that Jesus was born in the middle of winter? Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts give no direct mention of the date or season. When the Bible is noticeably silent on such a detail, it is wise to consider that perhaps there’s a reason for that silence. Is it possible that God left that detail ambiguous because He didn’t intend Jesus’ birth to be celebrated as a holiday?

The Bible’s silence on any specific season or date of His birth is notable, but also significant are the clues in the Gospel accounts that point to Jesus’ birth not occurring in the winter.

First, consider the reason Joseph and Mary traveled to Jerusalem. Luke records: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. … Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem … to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child” (Luke 2:1, 4-5).

It is doubtful that Roman authorities would have required people to travel and register for a census in the typically rainy and cold winter months of the year (Song of Solomon 2:11; Ezra 10:9, 13). More likely, they would have conducted the census during a season when it would be easier to travel.

Luke provides another key detail indicating this didn’t take place in the winter months: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).

The decision to celebrate Dec. 25 as the day of Jesus’ birth was not based on any biblical clues or hints. Many Bible commentators point out that shepherds typically sheltered their sheep at night during the cold, rainy months—roughly November to March. Scholar A.T. Robertson wrote in the notes of his popular A Harmony of the Gospels, “The chief thing that appears proved is that December 25 is not the time [of Jesus’ birth], since the shepherds would hardly be in the fields at night with the flocks, which were usually taken into the folds in November and kept in till March. The nights of December would scarcely allow watching in the mountain fields even as far south as Bethlehem. And besides, the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would hardly be made by Joseph and Mary in winter, the rainy season” (p. 267).

The decision to celebrate Dec. 25 as the day of Jesus’ birth was not based on any biblical clues or hints. Historical evidence points instead to it being chosen hundreds of years after Jesus’ birth in order to align with the winter solstice. Many ancient sun-worshipping religions celebrated the birthday of their various sun gods on the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (the shortest day of the year) because from that day the sun began growing in strength again.

You can read more about the problems with this reasoning in our article “Christmas on Trial.” 

Three wise men visited the newborn Jesus

Three wise men are represented in different art forms. From top to bottom: Gypsum figurines, artist unknown; The Adoration of Magi by Pedro Atanasio Bocanegra.

Nearly every nativity scene pictures three kings, or wise men, visiting the family on the night of Jesus’ birth. But a close reading of Matthew’s account (the only place these individuals are mentioned) shows several things are wrong with this modern notion.

First, Matthew places their coming after Jesus’ birth: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the East came to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1, emphasis added). 

Notice how details from the rest of the account indicate this event took place weeks, months or perhaps as much as two years after the night of Jesus’ birth:

The wise men, when they arrived in Jerusalem, talked about Jesus’ birth as already having occurred (Matthew 2:2).

Three times in the account, Matthew describes Jesus as “the young child.” The Greek word used is paidion, which usually describes a child past nursing age. He could have used nepios, which more specifically describes a newborn baby (translated “nursing infants” in Matthew 21:16).

Matthew describes the wise men visiting Mary and the “young child” at “the house.” This could indicate that the family was living in a home in Bethlehem at this time.

Worst of all, the evil King Herod “put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16).

<p>Three wise men are represented in different art forms. From top to bottom: Gypsum figurines, artist unknown; <em>The Adoration of Magi</em> by Pedro Atanasio Bocanegra.</p>The common myths and misperceptions about Jesus’ birth are all integral parts of the imagery of Christmas. Sadly, a holiday that claims to celebrate the Messiah’s birth has been the primary perpetuator of myths that confuse people about His birth. Second, notice that the text says nothing about the specific number of wise men visiting Christ. It merely says “wise men [magos] from the East came to Jerusalem.” Some suppose there were three because they brought three gifts: “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). These were gifts often presented to a king, but they don’t indicate the number of wise men. It isn’t even very clear exactly who these men were or where they came from. They weren’t kings—as some call them—but seem to be wise men who had some knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and Judaism.

Cut through the fallacies

And what’s the point, you might ask? These examples illustrate a common problem when it comes to the Bible. Whether these Christmas assumptions are big issues (substituting a sun god’s birthday for Jesus’) or small (there may not have been three wise men), they illustrate how people carelessly assume the Bible says things that, in reality, it doesn’t.

The common myths and misperceptions about Jesus’ birth are all integral parts of the imagery of Christmas. Sadly, a holiday that claims to celebrate the Messiah’s birth has been the primary perpetuator of myths that confuse people about His birth. But this is just one side of the problem with Christmas. The other side is that many elements of this holiday, including its date, symbols and traditions, are rooted in ancient pagan celebrations.

The best way to learn the truth about Jesus’ birth—and more importantly, His life—is to Does it matter which holidays you celebrate? abandon this holiday of myths and replace it with study and faithfulness to what is recorded in the Bible.”  

From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-jesus/the-birth-of-jesus/myths-and-misperceptions/

Does it matter which holidays we celebrate? Find the answers in our free booklet. Download now.

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Fulfilled Prophecy: Jesus Born in Bethlehem

Matthew 2:4-6

“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

“The New Testament records dozens of Old Testament passages that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. (The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, Volume 1, lists more than 100 such Old Testament passages on pages 1037-1040.) Matthew includes four quotes about Christ’s birth and young life, including this one.

Jealous and paranoid, King Herod was greatly disturbed when the wise men asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). Herod realized that they were talking about the coming of the Messiah (Christ in Greek), and he asked the religious leaders what the Bible prophesied about the coming of the Messiah. They accurately pinpointed the prophecy about Bethlehem in Micah 5:2. (The Coming Messiah:  2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From [a]everlasting.”)

Though Herod was willing to turn to Scripture to try to find the One he felt threatened by, he was not willing to recognize God’s power and authority. In fact he tried to thwart God’s plan, first through deceit, then through a terrible act of mass murder, killing all the male children from age 2 and under in the area of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). This was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15 and depicted in Revelation 12:4 where Satan, the dragon, was ready “to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” But Christ was protected from this onslaught, as we will see.”

You can find more background about these events in the article “The Birth of Jesus.”  From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/blog/fulfilled-prophecy-jesus-born-in-bethlehem/?

“The Gospel of Matthew quoted Jeremiah when recording the slaughter of the innocent babes in Bethlehem, and the bitter pain the women there had to endure when their infant sons were torn from their arms and brutally murdered. This massacre took place immediately following the birth of the Lord Jesus, after had He escaped into the land of Egypt. Matthew describes it as a 'fulfilment' or sombre reminder of this actual event, which was part of the traumatic history of God's errant people.”

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/jeremiah-31-15

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Is Soybean Oil Bad for Your Health? 21 Good Reasons to Avoid It.

Soy Oil with some seeds on wooden background“Shopping for a healthy cooking oil and not sure what to buy?

While you are perusing the grocery store shelves, you might take an interest in soybean oil, and wonder whether that is something you should purchase.

There is contradicting evidence on whether soybean oil is good or bad for you - but on the whole, I would not recommend it.

There are other healthier oils out there for sale.

But I do not expect you to take my word for it.

You came here to learn whether soybean oil is beneficial or detrimental to your health, so I am going to go over both the advantages and drawbacks.

But before we get into that, let’s talk a little bit more about what soybean oil is.”

More at: https://www.authoritydiet.com/soybean-oil-bad-health-good-reasons-avoid/

Because it is cheap, GMO soy is in most processed foods today. 

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

What Is the Old Covenant? The New Covenant: What Is New About It? World Health Organization Classified Processed Meat As A Group 1 Carcinogen.

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What Is the Old Covenant?

What Is the Old Covenant?“The Bible speaks of an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. What was the Old Covenant? Were God’s laws abolished along with the Old Covenant?

Covenants are common in our modern day, as they were in biblical times. A covenant is a formal, binding contract or agreement between two or more parties, in which each party agrees to abide by specific terms spelled out by the covenant.

So what is the Old Covenant?

Background of the Old Covenant

The roots of the Old Covenant actually trace back to Abraham, the forefather of Israel. God initiated a covenant with Abraham in which He promised to make a special nation of his descendants. It is these descendants who later entered into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai.

Notice the following scriptures in which God spells out specific promises to Abraham and his descendants. These promises include:

These covenanted promises passed from Abraham to his son Isaac (Genesis 17:19), to Isaac’s son Jacob (whom God renamed “Israel”—see Genesis 35:10-12; 28:3-4, 13-14), to Israel’s 12 sons (Genesis 49), and to their offspring (who became the 12 tribes of Israel).

After Abraham’s death, the family eventually ended up in Egypt, and they grew prolifically. Exodus 1 records that while in Egypt, they became entrapped in a life of bondage. “So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24, emphasis added throughout).

The next 10 chapters record God’s intervention to extricate Israel from Egypt, through the famous 10 plagues and the appointment of Moses as God’s spokesman.

Then, 430 years after confirming the covenant with Abraham, God brought his descendants out of slavery, free at last to begin living as an independent nation (see Exodus 12:40-41).

Israel’s formal introduction to the covenant”

Continued at: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/covenants/old-covenant/

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The New Covenant: What Is New About It?

The New Covenant

“What was the problem with the Old Covenant, and what really changed with the New Covenant? What does the Bible say is new about the New Covenant?

Throughout history, God has made various covenants, or agreements, with human beings. These covenants lay out the terms of the relationship God wants to have with humanity. Two of the key covenants recorded in the Bible are:

The covenant God made with ancient Israel at Mount Sinai, also referred to as the “Old Covenant.”

The “New Covenant,” which was inaugurated by Jesus Christ, and which is the covenant that is in force for spiritual Israel, the Church.

Scripture states that the New Covenant is making the Old Covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). But what does that mean? Did God create an entirely different set of terms for this new agreement? Just what is “new” about the New Covenant?

This article highlights four key changes from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Although these four items do not encompass every difference, they illustrate the fundamental distinction between the two agreements.

A change of the sacrificial law

The Bible states that sinners earn the death penalty (Romans 6:23). Forgiveness of those sins requires blood to be shed to satisfy that penalty (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites sacrificed animals as sin offerings, shedding the blood of those creatures as God commanded.

However, animal sacrifices were insufficient as substitutes for human beings. The sacrifices did not truly cleanse the Israelites from their wrongdoing, “for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

Since animal sacrifices could not blot out sins, why did God require them under the Old Covenant? Because those sacrifices reminded Israel of their sins and pictured the time when removal of the death penalty would truly become possible! God never intended for those sacrifices to be in force permanently! He had a plan in place “from the foundation of the world” to have Jesus Christ make the ultimate sacrifice (Revelation 13:8).

Christ’s sacrifice of Himself made it possible to take “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Because He is God, and human beings were created through Him (Colossians 1:16), His life is worth immeasurably more than all other human lives throughout history. Thus, His sacrifice was more than sufficient as total payment for the death penalty we have earned because of sin.

When Christ instituted the New Covenant with His shed blood (Luke 22:20), He made it possible for us to be truly cleansed from sin (Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7). The result was that animal sacrifices were no longer required as symbols, because Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of that symbolism. We accept Christ’s sacrifice at baptism. Although we must still repent each time we sin in the future, Christ’s sacrifice is applied upon our repentance—no further sacrifices for our sins are needed (Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:12).

A change of the priesthood

Under the Old Covenant, priests came from the family of Aaron in the tribe of Levi. The high priest was required to offer a sacrifice for the Israelites’ sins each year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-34). He alone was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place (the innermost room) in the tabernacle and to approach the mercy seat—which represented the throne of God.

The Israelites all deserved the death penalty for their sins, and so the high priest’s responsibility was to make intercession for them. Since he was also “subject to weakness,” he understood how easy it was to sin, and he could show compassion for the people (Hebrews 5:1-4).

However, as we saw, the shed blood came from animal sacrifices under this physical system. Thus the priests under the Old Covenant were not able to truly make people right with God, and a change was necessary (Hebrews 7:11-12).

That change came with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for all humanity, which fulfilled the symbolism of the yearly sin offering on the Day of Atonement. But Christ also filled the role of the high priest by offering Himself. He continues to serve as our High Priest, interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:23-28).

Under the New Covenant, Christ does not serve in a physical tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11). Instead, He performs His duties as High Priest in “the true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:1-2). Today the Church is “the household of God” and “a holy temple” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Members of the Church are able to draw near to the true mercy seat—the throne of God—as they develop a close and meaningful relationship with the Father. This is made possible because of Christ’s sacrifice and His continuing role as our High Priest (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Due to the change from the Levitical priesthood and the physical tabernacle, the rituals associated with the tabernacle and temple under the Old Covenant are no longer required—including various types of food and drink offerings, as well as ceremonial washings. These physical rituals were only “imposed until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:8-10)—which Jesus Christ ushered in with the New Covenant.

Under the New Covenant, God’s people now have a High Priest in Jesus Christ who intercedes for them continually. Since Christ lived as a human being, He understands our weaknesses, can help us when we are tempted, and can show us compassion when we sin. We can therefore be confident in seeking forgiveness when we repent (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16).

A change of the heart

God gave Israel His eternal laws that define sin—with the 10 Commandments serving as the core of Israel’s responsibility under the Old Covenant (Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13). However, there was one key problem with this arrangement: Although God’s law was, and is, perfect (Psalm 19:7), the people were not.

God knew in advance that the Israelites were missing something very important. They did not have the necessary heart to be truly obedient to Him (Deuteronomy 5:23-29). The Israelites agreed to obey God because of external motivation. They were afraid of punishment from God (Exodus 20:18-21), but that type of external motivation does not guarantee right behavior! Unless a person is internally convicted to do what is right, it can become far too easy to choose to do what is wrong instead.

Ancient Israel sadly fell into this trap and repeatedly disobeyed God throughout history, despite the fact that they suffered punishment as a result. Time and time again, the Israelites broke the covenant they made with God, illustrating a key flaw in the covenant. The flaw was not with the laws they agreed to obey, but rather with the people themselves (Hebrews 8:7-8)!

The Israelites did not have a heart to truly know God because the time was not yet right for God to give them that heart (Deuteronomy 29:4). But even without a right heart, it was still possible for the Israelites to respond to the correction God gave them when they made wrong choices. Unfortunately, they failed to adjust their behavior in the long run. However, their example provides a powerful lesson to us of how easy it is to sin (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

Under the New Covenant, God’s people have the opportunity to receive a heart to obey Him. In the Old Testament, God announced that the time would come when His people would have His laws internalized and written on their hearts—when they would truly be able to know Him (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

When God’s Spirit was made widely available on the Day of Pentecost, that goal became possible. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians become able to think like God (1 Corinthians 2:11, 16). God’s mind—reflected in His law of love—can now be internalized within His people.

A change of promises

Under the Old Covenant, Israel agreed to obey God; and in return, God agreed to treat Israel as “a special treasure” (Exodus 19:5-6). He promised Israel specific blessings, including rain at the appropriate time; victory in battle; freedom from sickness; a fear of Israel among other nations; and such tremendous prosperity that Israel would lend to other nations, not borrow (Leviticus 26:3-13; Deuteronomy 7:12-15; 28:1-14).

These promises were all incredible. But they were also all limited to this physical existence! There was no opportunity under the Old Covenant for the nation of Israel to receive access to the gift of eternal life. Thus, the Israelites could only enjoy the blessings of the Old Covenant during their life span on this earth.

Why was eternal life not offered under the Old Covenant? Because Jesus Christ had not yet come to this earth as humanity’s Savior, and “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ’s sacrifice provided a way for humans who had not lived perfectly (all of us!) to avoid the death penalty. Forgiveness was a key requirement so that human beings could “receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15)—eternal life (Titus 3:7).

Another necessary missing component is the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ called it “the Helper” (John 16:7), a “Promise” from God that He gave on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4).

As covered earlier, the Holy Spirit enables God’s laws to be written on our hearts. But beyond that, the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to be “heirs of God,” so that we can “be glorified together” with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). God’s Spirit serves as a guarantee, or down payment, on our promised inheritance of eternal life in God’s family (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Holy Spirit was made available to a select few of God’s servants who lived prior to Christ’s inauguration of the New Covenant (1 Peter 1:10-11). However, the vast majority of the Israelites did not have access to that Spirit, and thus did not have access to eternal life. But God intended from the beginning for all human beings to have that opportunity (Titus 1:2)—His purpose is to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), expanding His family.

Access to salvation under the New Covenant makes this “a better covenant” than the covenant at Mount Sinai, because the New Covenant “was established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). Ultimately, all human beings throughout history will have an opportunity for eternal life as part of the New Covenant. Those who become part of God’s family will dwell with Him forever, and there will be no more death (Revelation 21:1-4).

The New Covenant amplifies the terms of the Old Covenant

This article has not covered every difference between the Old and New Covenants. However, the changes we have examined illustrate a consistent trend: Contrary to the belief of many, the New Covenant does not abolish all the terms of the Old Covenant!

Both covenants include provisions for a sacrifice for sin, a priesthood serving in a tabernacle, obedience to God’s laws, and promised blessings from God. However, in each case, the changes in the New Covenant amplify the terms of the Old Covenant!

Under the Old Covenant, God presented the Israelites with two options and told them to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). God offers that same choice today to those whom He calls into the New Covenant. What makes the New Covenant “new” is that it is a far better agreement than the one entered into at Mount Sinai.

Ultimately all humanity will have the opportunity to be part of the New Covenant. But if God is calling you to be part of that covenant now by helping you to understand His truth, you have a decision to make. Will you choose life—eternal life? The choice is up to you.”                    From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/covenants/the-new-covenant/?

For further study on this topic, read the article “Biblical Covenants.”

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WHO report says eating processed meat is carcinogenic: Understanding the findings

“The World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that consumption of processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans (Group I ),” and that consumption of red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).” The report differentiates the two meats as follows:

  • Processed meat – meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation
  • Red meat – unprocessed mammalian muscle meat such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat meat

Consumption of processed meat was classified as carcinogenic and red meat as probably carcinogenic after the IARC Working Group – comprised of 22 scientists from ten countries – evaluated over 800 studies. Conclusions were primarily based on the evidence for colorectal cancer. Data also showed positive associations between processed meat consumption and stomach cancer, and between red meat consumption and pancreatic and prostate cancer.

  • Meat processing such as curing (e.g. by adding nitrates or nitrites) or smoking can lead to the formation of potentially cancer-causing (carcinogenic) chemicals such as N-nitroso-compounds (NOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
  • Meat also contains heme iron, which can facilitate production of carcinogenic NOCs.
  • Cooking – especially high-temperature cooking including cooking meats over a flame (e.g., pan-frying, grilling, barbecuing) – can also produce carcinogenic chemicals, including heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA) and PAHs.

To help further explain the report findings we spoke with Kana Wu, a member of the IARC Monograph Working Group for this report and a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The IARC Working Group said red meat is “probably” carcinogenic, but several studies showed no clear association. Can you explain why it’s probably carcinogenic?

In large population studies, but not all of them, greater red meat consumption has been associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer. Although these studies were not entirely consistent, results of laboratory studies led the IARC working group to conclude that red meat is probably carcinogenic.

Some reports in the media, particularly those from the meat industry, promote red meat consumption as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Is this true?

While it is true that red meat has nutritional value – it is rich in protein, minerals and vitamins (e.g., vitamin B12) – many studies have also shown that high consumption of red meat can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, and may lead to higher risk of dying of those diseases (when compared to other good sources of protein, such as poultry, fish or legumes). Thus, much evidence suggests that an optimally healthy diet would be low in red meat.

The IARC/WHO classified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos. Some media reports have indicated that eating bacon or hot dogs is as bad as smoking. Is this true?

It has been known for a while that high consumption of red or processed meat can adversely affect health, including raising risk of colorectal cancers and some other cancers.”  Continued at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/11/03/report-says-eating-processed-meat-is-carcinogenic-understanding-the-findings/

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