With the release of Kirk Cameron’s movie, “Saving Christmas,” the issue of whether Christmas is worthy of such “salvation” has finally hit the main stream.
Many Christians through the years have spoken out against Christians celebrating Christmas because of the implications of using specifically known pagan practices as the means of worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They also point out that Christmas and its celebration, including the use of Christmas trees were initially illegal in America having been made illegal by Christians. Yet, this movie has brought the debate as to whether Christians should celebrate Christmas or not to a fevered pitch among Christians and Messianics alike.
In fact, Jim Staley of Passion for Truth Ministries was recently interviewed on the nationally syndicated radio talk-show, “The Josh Tolley Show,” regarding this very question. During the interview Josh mentions that Kirk’s group had initially contacted his program office to facilitate being on His program to promote the movie. Josh wanted and tried to coordinate both Kirk and Jim Staley to be on the program together to discuss the key issues as his radio program is secular in nature and people might find that type of discussion and debate interesting. Sadly, Kirk was either not able to make the scheduling work or simply chose not to enter into the debate. Either way, there is currently a petition circulating to have both Kirk and Jim on the program to discuss the issues like brothers in the Lord just as the Scriptures say, “Come, let us reason together.” You can sign the petition via this link: http://savingkirkfromchristmas.com/
Because this is such a hot topic, and because the first time I heard someone say that celebrating Christmas was something Christians shouldn’t do, I thought they were nuts, I decided to put together my Top 10 list of reasons why our family, since 2004, chose to no longer celebrate Christmas. My hope is that it will give those of you who may also think those of us who no longer celebrate Christmas are crazy an inside peek into some of the reasons why we changed our opinion on this matter after coming to know the truth, implications, and significance of what participating in Christmas might mean to God regardless of what it had in the past meant to us. In other words, when we looked at our actions from God’s perspective, we changed our perspective.
Reason #1: God’s Word is eternal. It is true, absolute, and unchanging. The Word of God was true yesterday (from time immemorial), it is true today, and it will be true forever. This presupposition frames every decision we make as a family.
Reason #2: We’re just not into sloppy seconds. After experiencing the richness and beauty of the Lord’s Appointed Times we just can’t settle for something less than God’s best. Not to mention, xmas and easter are very self-focused holidays today, full of stress and a significant amount of indulgence of the flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against gift giving or spending time with family, but I simply believe that the context of those encounters matters and can have a significant impact on the long term outcome of these events. Unlike xmas and easter, God’s Appointed Times are all about Him. Messiah is the sole focus of these remembrances. Everything we do at the Appointed Times is contextually embedded and originated in the Gospel. The Appointed Times inherently speak of Him, point to Him, and proclaim Him and all He has done on our behalf. We do not have to try to “put Jesus into or back into” the Appointed Times as Christians try to put Jesus into xmas. In fact, when we keep the Appointed Times we actually proclaim the Gospel within its unique biblical context and framework such that not one element of the Gospel message is lost in translation as often happens with xmas and easter. In these “mixed” observances, the Gospel is forced into a context in which it doesn’t fit and doesn’t belong. Ultimately, if you’ve been blessed to experience God’s best, you’ll simply never desire to go back to the enemy’s “sloppy seconds.” But, if you’ve never been able to fully compare (by experience) the difference between the two approaches, then you simply won’t yet understand what I’m talking about to comprehend what you’re missing.
Reason #3: We’ve learned the lesson of the Golden Calf. Unlike Kirk Cameron and Pat Robertson who today say that Christianity has “redeemed” or can “redeem” xmas, or that xmas and easter have been “Christianized,” the Word of God says differently. God specifically commands us NOT to worship Him in the manner or way or through the methods of the ungodly nations (Jeremiah 10:2-3, “…Do not learn the way (customs) of the nations...” etc.). We are to worship Him according to the manner He has directed us in His Word, first and foremost. You have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t I want to worship God the way He asked me to? If your traditions are keeping you from doing this, aren’t you doing exactly what the Messiah criticized the Pharisees of doing (i.e. letting your traditions make void the Word of God—Mark 7:7-9)? Even Kirk and Pat will be keeping the Lord’s Appointed Times after the resurrection, because there will no longer be xmas and easter celebrations in the millennium kingdom according to the prophets (Zech 14:16-21, Isa 66:15-24).
Reason #4: We “wild branches” are told in Romans 11:17-18 not to be arrogant toward the “natural banches.” How arrogant were the non-Jews who originally hijacked Christianity from the hands of the Jewish led assemblies and specifically (no matter the intention) mixed the worship practices of the Lord with that of pagan nations in direct violation of Scripture. They then proceeded to kick out the Jewish believers who were not willing to turn away from God’s truth (His Torah commandments). Some they forcibly “converted” to a watered down version of Christianity. It was downhill from there until the Reformation began to restore some of the vestiges of truth found in the basic message of the Gospel. Today, our family seeks to humbly learn from our Jewish brethren while being led by the Holy Spirit to rehearse in as much as can be done in Diaspora of His Appointed Times as a sign between us and our God that our God is the King of the Universe. We also join in fellowship and unity with our brother Judah at these Appointed Times of our God just like Caleb, Ruth, Tamar, and Rahab before us.
Reason #5: We are still in the world but we refuse to be “of it” in our worship practices anymore. Think about this. If the world is happy to “play in our reindeer games” each xmas, but wants nothing to do with God’s Appointed Times, and we know that the world hates anything of God, what does that say about xmas and easter of which the world is happy to join in? By doing (11 years ago) what the people who came out of Babylon did in the days of Nehemiah (see Neh 1:6 & 9:2), repenting, confessing our sins and the sins of our forefathers, we can now enjoy pure worship the way God intended it at His Appointed Times. This specific approach to worship is fully capable, because it is designed as such by God, to penetrate the hearts of our children because it is the very definition of what it means to “train your children in the way they should go.”
Reason #6: Freedom baby! F-R-E-E-D-O-M. You have no idea how freeing it feels to unhitch yourself from the burdensome traditions of men, particularly xmas. My garage has so much more storage space! People are all stressed out and busy each December, and we just kick back and enjoy ourselves without having to go into financial debt or trying to figure out how to spend time with all the different members of both sides of our family in one 24 hour period. We’ve adopted a new tradition we tongue-n-cheek call “Christ-nukkah,” because we also celebrate Chanukah (although it is not one of the official 7 Appointed Times, it is still a valuable historic celebration and remembrance for Believers). Yeshua in John 8:12-10:42 is seen doing miracles and teachings leading up to and into the Feast of Dedication or Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Light. He opens this season in 8:12 declaring Himself the Light of the World while in the Temple in Jerusalem (8:20). He goes on to heal a man born blind (i.e. consider the significance of this [in 9:1f] related to light). It is an issue of blindness or a lack of “light in the eyes” that He demonstrated exists in his enemies (9:30). This is stated directly by the formerly blind man and reiterated again to them by Yeshua in 9:39-40. Finally, there is one major confrontation that forces Messiah to leave else they stone him at the Temple. Yeshua’s enemies ask Him point blank if He is the Messiah. When He answers truthfully they pick up stones to stone Him. Ultimately, they are found to be more blind than the blind man for there is no light in them. In the end, regarding Chanukah, we join with our brother Judah at this time and seek to bring “the Light of the World” back into “the Festival of Light.” As Christians, we also take this time to teach our children and recall that Miriam (Mary) conceived Yeshua (Jesus) at this very season. Thus, the Light of the World entered the world literally in Miriam’s womb at this season, and life, as we all know, begins at conception. Yeshua (Jesus) was born 9 months later on the Day of Trumpets, and He will return again on the Day of Trumpets at some future date at which time we too will be reborn at the resurrection. It happens to be “a day and hour no man knows” every year, because it always occurs on a new moon. (See my Discipleship blog www.fulfillthegreatcommission.com for more details on this point)
Reason #7: WWJD? What would Jesus do? One thing is for sure, He definitely would not observe or celebrate xmas and easter, which means as disciples of the Master, my family and I will do what Yeshua (Jesus) did. We know that Yeshua (Jesus) obeyed the Word of God and kept the Appointed Times. As for me and my house, we will do the same. Sadly, most Christians simply have no context or background in the Appointed Times to even know what they are missing. They only have one frame of reference to which they have been born. But like Abraham, they will have to step out in faith if they are going to learn to walk in God’s ways and not the traditions of their fathers that are, in this case, a mixture of holy with the profane. Until you experience the Appointed Times in their fullness first, or in other words, walk by faith according to God’s Word in these areas (fully for an extended period of time), you can never truly have eyes to see and ears to hear and understand the difference between these two vastly different approaches to worshiping God. Not to mention, it should be pointed out that the early church never kept xmas or easter, but kept the Lord’s Appointed Times. Since we know this is a fact, it should provoke Christians who have never even considered keeping the Appointed Times to at least go back and ask why? And what changed? And what did people think about these holidays, even during early American history when xmas and xmas trees were legally banned, Blue Laws existed (although for the wrong day it still tried to maintain the literalness of the rest of the meaning of the day) and at that time most Christians wouldn’t be caught dead observing these holidays with their pagan neighbors.
Reason #8: Paul taught the early church how to keep the Appointed Times the right way (See 1 Cor 5:8, “Let us celebrate the Feast” referring to the week of Unleavened Bread). We seek to do the same and teach others this design of God for lifestyle discipleship.
Reason #9: The Appointed Times provide the only Biblical Framework for true, powerful, and effective Biblical Discipleship. Again, until you experience the difference you probably won’t understand.
Reason #10: We love God; therefore, we want to keep every commandment we are capable of keeping until His return as a means of expressing that love. When Messiah returns He will be present in the flesh to lead and guide us and teach us how to obey Him in areas we are currently unsure about or cannot do because of circumstances or lack of ability. Until then, we will do our best to submit our will to His will in every area that we are capable of keeping just like Daniel did when he lived outside the land in Babylon.
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