• What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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    Do you find it frustrating when you're directed to a link that does not exist? Me too! My apologies for any broken links you may find here.

    JGIG occasionally links to to sites that sometimes move or remove content, forums that periodically cull threads, sites/posters that appear to 'scrub' content from their sites (or YouTube posts, pdf files, etc.) when that content receives negative attention, and others that over time simply cease to exist.

    Please let me know via the 'Contact JGIG' drop-down menu item under the 'About' tab at the top of this page if you come across a link that is broken so that I can try to repair or remove it. Please include the name of the post/article where you found the broken link as well as the link itself. You may be able to find content specified by doing a search and viewing a relocated or cached page/post/video.

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Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

I first posted this back in December of 2008, and it continues to be one of the most-read posts here at JGIG.  Be sure to check out the related links below as well as other informative and thought-provoking Christmas articles on the Articles Page.  Grace and Peace to you in this Christmas season of celebrating the Birth of Christ and in the new year ahead!
-JGIG

Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

Okay.  Before all you holiday purists start hurling comments based on the title alone, hear me out.

I know all about the pagan influences and the date-setting and the sun worship and . . . well, all that stuff  that takes what for me is the simple celebration of the birth of my Saviour and turns it into something ugly and evil.  Some of you will maintain that “Christmas” IS ugly and evil!  And I get where you’re coming from, really I do.  And in the spirit of Romans 14, I’m okay with that.  I would never dream to try to convince you that you should celebrate something that you don’t believe you should.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit this past year, and I just want to share with you where I am in that thought process.

The short answer for me is this:

God made a pretty big deal

out of the birth of His Son.

Angel visitations to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, the summoning of kings from far away (with a special “star” hung in the sky, no less) . . . the divine protection of the baby and child Jesus from the evil King Herod.

shepherd_angel1
Let’s take the shepherd’s experience:  They’re there, tending their sheep, maybe dozing off once in a while, but being good shepherds, waking at any little noise, they wake up to angels!  And they’re singing, “Glory to God in the highest!” . . .

What am I celebrating?
I’m celebrating the willingness of God to come in the flesh to walk among us, love us, teach us, and then do the work of the Cross for us.  And how did He choose to come in human form?  As an obviously powerful King?  Did he ride down majestically on the clouds, announcing His kingdom was at hand?  No . . . He came in the most vulnerable human form, actually taking on humanity through the seed of Mary while maintaining His Godhood through the Seed of the Holy Spirit.

I’m celebrating the birth and gift of Hope and Life to the world.

Having given birth seven times myself, I reflect on Mary’s obedience and courage as a young woman.  Having had relatively easy births with my children, I wonder what Mary’s “birth story” is (a favorite topic among moms of many).  Before I had children of my own, I thought how sad it was that Mary had to go through the birth thing the way she did, the traveling, the no Inn thing, the giving birth with the animals around thing.

But now, having had easy births with all but one of my children (the other one was wonderful, just really, really hard!), I like to think that God must have blessed Mary with a wonderful birth experience.  Understand that I understand that my thoughts are total conjecture in this area, but given the circumstances, I think they’re in line with the character of God to have abundant grace and mercy on Mary in birthing Jesus.  After all, she was giving birth to His Son.  And she had been willing and obedient under difficult circumstances . . . I just think He may have blessed her with a wonderful birth!

There is something quite amazing about birthing a baby.  It’s hard work, and there is pain, but for some the pain is brief, and labor can actually be enjoyable!  The progressive work of the intensifying contractions, the  process of knowing new life is soon coming into the world, getting to meet the one you’ve carried for so long face to face . . . and that you get to be a part of it!  It can be such a profound experience!

nativityscene
And then when that little baby is birthed!  Oh my!  The wonder!  The joy!  The amazement of what God has done!  And that’s just what I’ve felt at the birth of my own children.  I can hardly imagine the glory that must have been in the place where Jesus was born!  And the feelings of wonder and joy that Mary must have felt as the baby King Jesus was placed in her arms and nursed at her breasts.  All mixed in with the gravity of being charged with the care of this child who would in adulthood save us from our sins and give us new life . . . Oh my . . .

And who did God announce the birth of His Son to first?  The local mayor?  Thejesus_nativity governing authorities of the broader area?  No, He told the local shepherds.  And told them to go and see the newborn King . . .  They were the first on the scene besides Mary and Joseph to take in the wonder of the advent of the Saviour of the world.  Just regular folks.  God didn’t leave out the king-types . . . they just came much later.  He came for everyone, from shepherds to kings . . . He came for us all.  What an amazing event – the coming of God in the flesh to dwell among those He created and to eventually provide for their redemption.  To celebrate those things – that’s what I think it’s okay to do.

Do we hang lights?  Make special food?  Sing and listen to special songs? Put up a Nativity scene?   Have a *gasp* tree?  Yes, we do.  NONE of those things signify anything pagan for us.  They are not a part of worship.  They are part of celebrating.  I don’t know where the tradition of baking a birthday cake or putting up decorations to celebrate birthdays came from, but for us, it’s simply a celebration.  A time to be glad.  To take joy in the immense gift from God as He came to us in the flesh.  A time to commemorate the real event that happened so long ago, that has such an impact on us as believers today.

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Luke 2:1-33 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

journey_to_bethlehem_brickey

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

nort_cuypb
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
swindle_she-shall-bring-forth-a-son

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.

jesus02Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect or just a believer questioning what you believe and why, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other articles available at JGIG:

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Hark! Is That the Gospel I Hear?

‘Tis the season for those of you who have friends and family who are in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism/Netzarim movements or related sects to be hearing from them either why they won’t be celebrating the Birth of Christ and/or why you shouldn’t be. 

I’ve written a couple of posts here at JGIG about why we celebrate the Birth of Christ.  One is entitled, “Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate” , and the other, “Celebrating the Birth of Christ – The Reality is Christ . . . . (ya bone-heads) . . . . ”  .  That second one is a bit of a vent after receiving lots of comments that weren’t fit to post because they were so vitriolic.  (It was then that JGIG had to go to moderated comments.)  For a lighter take on a Christmas music classic, check out this post.   

Another wonderful post regarding the celebrating the Birth of Christ from one formerly in the Hebrew Roots Movement is, “A New Relationship With Christmas” , from 8thDay4Life’s blog.  I’ll also provide a list of articles regarding Christmas at the end of this post.

But all that is not why this post is here. 

The reason for this post is about how the Gospel is communicated through so much of the music we hear this time of year.  One of my daughters and I were driving home from a doctor’s appointment the other day, and “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing!” came on the radio.  We had just pulled in to a parking lot to grab a bite to eat on the way home, and I said to her, “Let’s just sit for a minute and listen to the rest of this.”

I knew the Gospel was in there, but, Oh My!  The particular arrangement that was playing was beautifully orchestrated and very well sung.  As I listened, there was no mistaking the Gospel there!  Not only was the Birth of our Saviour celebrated in song, but the Gospel was powerfully communicated there as well. 

There are many, many Christmas songs that also relay the wonder of what God has done through the Incarnation and the work of the Cross and the Resurrection.  Okay, there are some silly songs, too, like “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” and the cultural Santa Claus and Jingle Bells stuff, but I’m thinking that most of us can differentiate between the significance and reality of the two types of songs much as we can between songs like “The Purple People Eater” and Hymns and Spiritual Songs.  I’m just sayin’.

“Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing” was originally written by Charles Wesley (brother of John Wesley) and the work appeared as a poem in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739.  George Whitfield and others ‘punched it up’ a bit into the version we are more familiar with today.  In 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted Felix Mendelssohn’s secular music from Festgesang to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.  Wesley envisioned the song being sung to the same tune as his song  “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”, and in some hymnals, that melody is included along with the more popular version (source).

I found the version on YouTube that we heard the other day on the radio.  I hope you’re as blessed by it and other songs that lift high the Name of Jesus and preach the Gospel that permeate the airwaves now as at no other time of the year.  There are those who come to know Him and follow Him in part through songs such as this:

May you all have a blessed time as we celebrate the Birth of our Saviour, Lord and King, Jesus Christ!  Merry Christmas!

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For some good articles covering the issues of paganism, date setting, and traditions concerning Christmas, click on the following links:

“Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?”

“Are Christian Holidays Pagan in Origin?”

“Should We Have a Christmas Tree?”

“Was Jesus Born on December 25th?”

“Do Some Christmas Traditions Have Pagan Origins?”

“Is Christmas Pagan?”

A New Relationship With Christmas

I saw this post over at 8thday4life’s Weblog and Sondra graciously granted me permission to share her post with you here.  Her perspective as one formerly in the Hebrew Roots Movement is valuable and provides insight that I, as one who merely observes, questions, and comments, cannot give.  I encourage you to spend some time at her blog, a place where she humbly and scripturally communicates about her and her husband’s journey from Law to Grace. 

I know Christmas has come and gone this year, but maybe some of you are discussing such things after being with family and examining why we do what we do – on whichever side of the issue you stand.  

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things,

– JGIG

 

A New Relationship With Christmas

I recently sat in a living room of Christian women who had met together to learn more about healthy food preparation.  As an icebreaker for the meeting, we were asked to share how we kept things in perspective during the busy holiday season, as well as special traditions our families had.  I realized how this question would have stressed me terribly a few years ago.  I shared that I did not have a great deal of experience yet, (long story) but our main focus was to give Jesus the gifts, to the “least of these” rather than go crazy on junk no one needs, wants, or remembers this time next year.   As the sharing moved around the room, one woman began to explain why they were not going to celebrate Christmas this year.  Her explanation wavered between sheepish embarrassment to dogmatic conviction about “what the Bible says.”  I know that conviction well.  No one knew what to say.  I knew what I wanted to tell her, but I also knew she would have to walk down that road to see what I see now.The Christmas Metaphor

You cannot ignore Christmas, no matter how hard you might try.  And oh did we try, for nearly ten years.  We came under conviction early on in our Christian lives that we were wrong to mix the worship of the one true God with traditions inherited from Paganism.  The desire for our worship to be pure before God sparked our search for the purest form of our faith, seeking to go back all the way to what we believed were our authentic roots.

I don’t blame anyone for coming to this conclusion about Christmas, especially if you do as I did and study out the history of the Church and various holy days.  During the Middle Ages, every month had some type of celebration adopted from various pagan cultures, renaming the days for saints, yet retaining the rituals of superstition and divination.  I did not view this as an honorable history, but rather a church compromising in order to gain allegiance and control of the masses.  In many countries around the world today you see a strange mix of traditional cultures with Catholic mass and rituals, mixing Jesus and Mary with whatever custom they can impress them upon.  Watching documentaries of other cultures, I personally saw no difference in what they were doing and the western worship of Christmas.  (I felt the day was worshiped, not God, and still see this is the largest pitfall of our materialistic culture.)

I became a Christian after spending time in the New Age, so I was especially sensitive to avoid all references or participation in paganism, which at this time in my life, was perfectly right.  This was all I could see in Christmas at the time which is why I don’t judge anyone for choosing to not celebrate this day.  However for me, my pure devotion quickly transformed into a source of superiority and pride.

Each year as the day rolled around we sometimes had a dinner with friends who had the same conviction.  There was literally nothing else to do.  We would eat, play games, and lament how our families just did not  understand.  We personally didn’t mind being with our own families, but some did not respect our unwillingness to exchange gifts, which created awkward situations, so we tended to avoid them.  The irony of our non-Christmas dinner fellowships wasn’t lost on me.  I realized, we were still acknowledging the day, just in a different way.

When confronted with Christmas invitations and questions, I soon tried to not reveal that we didn’t celebrate it because the questions were uncomfortable.  Do you believe in Jesus?  Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?  It took too long to explain.  Even with the challenge it posed, this became an important feature of our unique spiritual identity.  To ignore Christmas is like standing against a tidal wave.

When our eyes opened to the reality of what we have in Christ, and we began to rebuild our spiritual worldview, we had to face once again the question; What do we do with  Christmas?

We did not have a new set of facts.  History cannot be changed.  And this was in fact our conclusion.  Try as we might to pretend it didn’t happen, Christmas has become the shining star of the entire year of holidays for the entire western world, and even in many countries which do not generally embrace Christianity.  As we looked at the issue again, we had to go back to the testing method which originally prompted our discontent with the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Fruit.  The fruit of ignoring Christmas had only caused people to shy away and assume we did not even believe in Jesus at all.  Only atheists and cults deny Christmas.  (here’s your sign…once again.)  Bad fruit there if you are in fact wanting people to know about Him.  Add that to the ways in which we gave the wrong impression about Jesus, which were many.  The only thing we had to show for our pious obedience was sheer boredom and miffed family members.

When we looked at  Christmas again, instead of seeing only paganism repackaged, we saw paganism redeemed, for the spread of the gospel.  Just as Jesus took us who were broken, sinful, idolatrous, rebellious, and prideful – and redeemed us for His glory, we realized He can also do this with a day if it pleases Him to do so.  The evergreen, the pagan symbol for eternal life – was simply the cry of their hearts – the realization of their problem with death, that Jesus came to resolve.  The lights symbolize the true Light of the World, that comes in our darkest, coldest nights.  The day they dedicated to call back the Sun is now celebrated to the Eternal Son.  It seems maybe God intended for things to transpire the way they have.  Another miracle of Christmas is the success of its worldwide popularity, being presented as the day of Jesus Christ’s birth!  If I were a pagan, I would not see this as a victory for my perspective, especially since most people don’t give a second thought to where the traditions came from in the first place.

As I sat in church during what was arguably my first real Christmas – fully embracing Christ, I was so moved by the focus on the amazing miracle and sacrifice of a God who was willing to come and give everything of Himself to His Creation.  How could the Creator submit to a human birth,  just as we are born?  I related to Him in the birth of my own children and wondered what Mary must have thought as she held God in her arms.  Thankfully she could not fully see the days ahead.  I was filled with emotion as I saw illustrations of these tender moments – with full knowledge from our perspective of the enormity of His mission and future suffering.

Did He command me to remember His birth?  No.  But part of the beauty of the New Covenant is found in the love offering our life becomes.  In the Old Covenant people brought freewill and thank offerings when they desired to.  I believe Christmas, for a genuine believer, becomes a time to present a thank offering to Jesus for the amazing gift He gave, which only started with His birth.  We cannot stop at the manger.  Our minds are drawn to the cross, and finally a risen Lord, and His ever-present Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas.

I found it was not possible to ever completely separate myself from this holiday, but I am thankful that I am now in a new relationship with it that blesses me and gives me a chance to bless others in many ways.  I don’t believe there is any other day of the year that provides a better stage to share the truth about Jesus, to find people with their ears and hearts a little more open.  I am sorry for the years I missed that, and for all the frustration we put our families through.  I have also seen how special this day is to those who don’t have the freedom to worship Him openly, and how they have risked their lives to honor their Savior on the day dedicated to His birth.  I would much rather stand with them in their sacrificial love of Christ, than were I stood before, in pride against those who have given all for Him.  What will you do with the day of the Son this year?

Thank you Jesus for being willing to come to our dark world and share in our human suffering and carry our humiliation.  Your love is beyond understanding, beyond anything mortal man in all his vain wisdom ever dared to hope for – a God that would come down and unite Himself with us, in order to save us.  Thank you that You are in us, and we are in You, forever! Maranatha!

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Merry Christmas, All

Today we celebrate His humble entrance into the world. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and being willing to come to do the work of the Cross. Thank you for the New Life you offer to all who believe and put their faith in You.

I Think We Can All Agree – This is Cool

I know some of you Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism types will be conflicted with the whole Monk business . . . but don’t ya just get shivers hearing King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Hallelujah with that amazing music just the same?

In Messiah,
– JGIG

(Click HERE to learn more about Handel’s Messiah.)

Celebrating the Birth of Christ – The Reality is Christ . . . . . (ya bone-heads) . . .

2005-mar7-16

In the writing of the previous post, Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate, I was aware of the controversies regarding the “history” of Christmas, but perhaps was not up to speed on the passion that some feel when it comes to their hatred for all things “Christmas”.

Wow.  My heart is grieved that so many put so much energy and hate into something that has been so clearly perverted by the Enemy.  There are several comments that have come to JGIG that were not fit to approve because they were completely agenda-driven and full of stuff that has nothing to do with the true celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, nor did they contain any thoughtful, personal experience or insight as did the comments that were approved.

So determined are some to convince those of us who do celebrate the birth of Christ that we should not that one commenter even plagiarized an article, making it seem as though it was her personal comment.  She made assertions that infant males are sacrificed on Christmas Eve, so I did a search to see if there was any documentation for such a claim.  I found something that looked familiar and what do you know?  There was an article that matched the commenter’s “experience” and “insight”, word for word.  When I emailed her about it, the exchange ended with her telling me to stop wasting her time.  Um . . . okay, I’ll do that.

Did you folks who sent those comments even read the previous post?  Can you not recognize a heart in a right place of worship for the Lordship and advent of  Jesus Christ?  Have you read Luke 2?  There was a celebration!  There was a distinct event and a marking of that event by God Himself.  The fact that the Enemy has perverted the event that was foretold in prophecy and has continued to pervert it after the actual event occurred – including in the hearts of those I’m speaking of  – does not change the reality of the event itself.

Is it so far out of your mental grasp that JESUS IS THE REALITY that MANY CHRISTIANS HONOR at Christmas time???

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.  (Colossians 2:16-17)

I spent some time poking around at a couple of forums which had linked here to JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement.  There were discussions there about Christmas that were incendiary.  These were supposed believers that were sniping and ripping (I am being kind in my description of the treatment of some by these people) at other believers simply because they choose to celebrate the birth of their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

christm-as20toon

They take something that is for many Christians a sacred time of honoring God and turn it into something evil and ugly, claiming that Satan had “first dibs” on all things Christmas.  To all of you demon-behind-every-bush types I say save it.  You’re judging the hearts of people you don’t know, making ASSUMPTIONS about how they worship, WHAT they worship, WHO they worship, taking scriptures out of context and projecting evil where there was none originally (speaking of Luke 2 and the REALITY of the event again here).herb20roasted20turkey203a

Yep, I am aware of the pagan origins of many modern Christmas customs and traditions.  And my goal is not to convince you of anything except that the reality for me is CHRIST.  PERIOD.  There’s no tree-worship or child-sacrifice or sun-worship going on at our house.  And some of you Torah-observant types might be comforted to know that we prefer turkey over wild boar ham for our celebration dinner.   We just celebrate with hearts full of gratitude that God was willing to dwell among men in the flesh as Jesus Christ.

The lack of character and integrity I’ve seen demonstrated in those who vehemently oppose Christmas speaks for itself in the parallel demonstration of the fruits that they bear.  And the fruit is not good, folks.  It’s ugly and rancid and not fit for consumption.

[I’m done venting now.  Merry Christmas to the rest of you!]

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For some good articles covering the issues of paganism, date setting, and traditions concerning Christmas, click on the following links:

“Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?”

“Are Christian Holidays Pagan in Origin?”

“Should We Have a Christmas Tree?”

“Was Jesus Born on December 25th?”

“Do Some Christmas Traditions Have Pagan Origins?”

“Is Christmas Pagan?”

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

Okay.  Before all you holiday purists start hurling comments based on the title alone, hear me out.

I know all about the pagan influences and the date-setting and the sun worship and . . . well, all that stuff  that takes what for me is the simple celebration of the birth of my Saviour and turns it into something ugly and evil.  Some of you will maintain that “Christmas” IS ugly and evil!  And I get where you’re coming from, really I do.  And in the spirit of Romans 14, I’m okay with that.  I would never dream to try to convince you that you should celebrate something that you don’t believe you should.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit this past year, and I just want to share with you where I am in that thought process.

The short answer for me is this:

God made a pretty big deal

out of the birth of His Son.

Angel visitations to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, the summoning of kings from far away (with a special “star” hung in the sky, no less) . . . the divine protection of the baby and child Jesus from the evil King Herod.

shepherd_angel1
Let’s take the shepherd’s experience:  They’re there, tending their sheep, maybe dozing off once in a while, but being good shepherds, waking at any little noise, they wake up to angels!  And they’re singing, “Glory to God in the highest!” . . .

What am I celebrating?
I’m celebrating the willingness of God to come in the flesh to walk among us, love us, teach us, and then do the work of the Cross for us.  And how did He choose to come in human form?  As an obviously powerful King?  Did he ride down majestically on the clouds, announcing His kingdom was at hand?  No . . . He came in the most vulnerable human form, actually taking on humanity through the seed of Mary while maintaining His Godhood through the Seed of the Holy Spirit.

I’m celebrating the birth and gift of Hope and Life to the world.

Having given birth seven times myself, I reflect on Mary’s obedience and courage as a young woman.  Having had relatively easy births with my children, I wonder what Mary’s “birth story” is (a favorite topic among moms of many).  Before I had children of my own, I thought how sad it was that Mary had to go through the birth thing the way she did, the traveling, the no Inn thing, the giving birth with the animals around thing.

But now, having had easy births with all but one of my children (the other one was wonderful, just really, really hard!), I like to think that God must have blessed Mary with a wonderful birth experience.  Understand that I understand that my thoughts are total conjecture in this area, but given the circumstances, I think they’re in line with the character of God to have abundant grace and mercy on Mary in birthing Jesus.  After all, she was giving birth to His Son.  And she had been willing and obedient under difficult circumstances . . . I just think He may have blessed her with a wonderful birth!

There is something quite amazing about birthing a baby.  It’s hard work, and there is pain, but for some the pain is brief, and labor can actually be enjoyable!  The progressive work of the intensifying contractions, the  process of knowing new life is soon coming into the world, getting to meet the one you’ve carried for so long face to face . . . and that you get to be a part of it!  It can be such a profound experience!

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And then when that little baby is birthed!  Oh my!  The wonder!  The joy!  The amazement of what God has done!  And that’s just what I’ve felt at the birth of my own children.  I can hardly imagine the glory that must have been in the place where Jesus was born!  And the feelings of wonder and joy that Mary must have felt as the baby King Jesus was placed in her arms and nursed at her breasts.  All mixed in with the gravity of being charged with the care of this child who would in adulthood save us from our sins and give us new life . . . Oh my . . .

And who did God announce the birth of His Son to first?  The local mayor?  Thejesus_nativity governing authorities of the broader area?  No, He told the local shepherds.  And told them to go and see the newborn King . . .  They were the first on the scene besides Mary and Joseph to take in the wonder of the advent of the Saviour of the world.  Just regular folks.  God didn’t leave out the king-types . . . they just came much later.  He came for everyone, from shepherds to kings . . . He came for us all.  What an amazing event – the coming of God in the flesh to dwell among those He created and to eventually provide for their redemption.  To celebrate those things – that’s what I think it’s okay to do.

Do we hang lights?  Make special food?  Sing and listen to special songs? Put up a Nativity scene?   Have a *gasp* tree?  Yes, we do.  NONE of those things signify anything pagan for us.  They are not a part of worship.  They are part of celebrating.  I don’t know where the tradition of baking a birthday cake or putting up decorations to celebrate birthdays came from, but for us, it’s simply a celebration.  A time to be glad.  To take joy in the immense gift from God as He came to us in the flesh.  A time to commemorate the real event that happened so long ago, that has such an impact on us as believers today.

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Luke 2:1-33 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

journey_to_bethlehem_brickey

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

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And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
swindle_she-shall-bring-forth-a-son

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.

jesus02Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect or just a believer questioning what you believe and why, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other articles available at JGIG:

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