|Live Services||Liars Beware!|
|Editorial||Christmas–Secular or Christian?|
|Q&A||Should Christians participate in New Year's Day celebrations on December 31 and January 1?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
On December 22, 2007, Michael Link will give the sermon, titled, “Liars Beware!”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Christmas–Secular or Christian?
by Norbert Link
(Español: Navidad – ¿Secular o cristiana?)
Recently, a minister of one of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God organizations was quoted in the press as saying that Christmas was a “secular holiday.” Subsequently, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that, according to the Pope, Christmas was “a Christian feast.” To explain its “Christian nature,” the Pope stated that Christmas “symbols, especially the Nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus.” He added that the “ancient fir” or Christmas tree “is an important symbol of Christ’s Nativity because with its evergreen leaves it recalls the life that does not die.”
So who is right–newscasters and commentators who refer to Christmas as a “secular” or “national holiday,” or religious leaders who emphasize the “Christian nature” of Christmas? Surprising to many, perhaps, the answer is, neither is correct.
Christmas is not a secular holiday. It is clearly religious–even though in our modern civilized Western world, commercialism and other mundane secular activities may have, in many cases, covered or hidden the religious nature and character of Christmas. But to say that the second-most important feast of orthodox Christianity (Easter being regarded as the most important feast) is merely a secular observance, misunderstands the roots and origins of Christmas–and plays into the hands of advocates who want to keep Christmas celebrations alive even amongst those who object to them on religious grounds.
Christmas is not a Christian Holy Day either–at least not in the way in which the Bible defines true Christianity. A true Christian is one in whom Christ’s Spirit dwells (Romans 8:9)–a true Christian obeys Christ (John 15:14), believes and abides in His Word and follows His lead (John 8:31; 1 Peter 2:21). And Christ–the spoken and written Word of God (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:1-3)–commanded His followers NOT to keep Christmas. The reasons for this prohibition are many, as fully explained in our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Christmas is a religious holiday, all right–but it is pagan to the core. It did not originate with Christ’s birth. Gentiles already observed it in honor of their pagan gods long before Christ’s First Coming. The ancient Christmas tree was used in those pagan celebrations for the purpose of worshipping pagan gods. In fact, pagans believed that their particular god changed into a tree–that he was living in that tree–hence the decoration of the fir tree with gifts in honor of that pagan god (who was known in different cultures under different names, such as Mythra, Attis, Dionysus, Marduk, Baal and Nimrod). These are FACTS–if one cares to know. And the Bible condemns and ridicules the Gentile custom of cutting a tree and decorating it with gold and silver (compare Jeremiah 10:1-5).
The truth is the truth–and no label, pro or con, changes the facts. Christmas is not a secular or national holiday, but it is a religious festival; however, it is pagan, not truly Christian. To use pagan practices, in honor of pagan gods, and apply them to the worship of Christ is in direct violation of Christ’s explicit commands (compare Deuteronomy 12:29-32). Christ said that we worship Him in vain, if we do this (compare Mark 7:6-9).
Here is your challenge: Whom do you want to believe–a man and man-made traditions… or the Jesus Christ of your Bible? For a true Christian, the answer should be obvious.
This Week in the News
The Climate Conference On Bali–“A Disaster”
The German paper, Die Tageszeitung, wrote on December 17: “The Bali climate conference will enter the history books — as a disaster.”
What has happened? Didn’t the world celebrate Bali as a success? Maybe at first–but not anymore.
What has come out of Bali is simply this: America is perceived to have failed in any leadership role, and Germany and Europe are becoming the leaders which the USA has refused to provide.
Success On Bali?–No Way!
On December 15, the press enthusiastically reported about a breakthrough at Bali’s climate change conference. But the reports were premature, and satisfaction was short-lived.
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 15:
“There were tears, boos and, at the end, even hugs: After a long struggle, the delegates at the UN climate conference on Bali finally managed to agree on a roadmap for fighting climate change. Despite the lack of concrete targets, most considered the deal a success… The last-minute deal came on Saturday after the US delegation made a U-turn in a final negotiating session…
“Paula Dobriansky, leader of the US delegation, and her colleague James Connaughton found themselves the targets of naked animosity. When Dobriansky announced that the US would not sign up for the Bali roadmap, boos echoed through the room. The Americans were sharply attacked by several delegations. ‘If you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way,’ said a US environmental activist representing Papua New Guinea.
“Other opponents of binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as Japan or Russia, failed to come to the US delegation’s defense. Left isolated, the American delegation gave in and agreed to the roadmap. ‘We will go forward and join consensus,’ said Dobriansky. This time the delegation was rewarded with a standing ovation from some participants.
“German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters he was on the verge of sending a mobile phone text message to Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to intervene with the White House, when the US delegation reversed their position.”
Is It Up to Germany and Europe to Save the World?…
However, only two days later, international enthusiasm was replaced with frustration and anger towards the United States.
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 17:
“It took just hours for the White House to begin back-pedalling on the Bali climate negotiations breakthrough. One minute, US head of delegation Paula Dobriansky was agreeing to a blueprint for a new international accord to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. The next minute, the White House press secretary released a statement indicating that Washington has ‘serious concerns’ about the agreement reached on the Indonesian island of Bali.”
In addition to the isolation of the United States, the eyes of the world focus now on GERMANY and EUROPE to lead. Der Spiegel Online continued:
“German media commentators say Washington is increasingly isolated in one of the most pressing problems facing humanity, and that it’s up to the Europeans to save the world… Business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… The most important driving force behind protection remains a credible pioneer. Only if a group of industrial nations forges ahead and shows that climate-friendly technology can be profitable will others follow. Germany and Europe have taken on this pioneering role once and for all. That is good news from the climate conference.'”
… Or, Will America Still Be Able to Lead in the Future?
On December 17, The New York Times acknowledged the lack of American leadership in Bali, but was hopeful that the USA will provide leadership in the future. The article stated:
“In Bali, where delegates from 187 countries met to begin framing a new global warming treaty, America’s negotiators were in full foot-dragging mode, acting as spoilers rather than providing the leadership the world needs… Despite pleas from their European allies, the Americans flatly rejected the idea of setting even provisional targets for reductions in greenhouse gases. And they refused to give what the rest of the world wanted most: an unambiguous commitment to reducing America’s own emissions. Without that, there is little hope that other large emitters, including China, will change their ways…
“The decision to maintain the tax breaks was particularly shameful. Blessed by $90-a-barrel oil, the companies are rolling in profits, and there is no evidence to support the claim that they need these breaks to be able to explore for new resources. Yet the White House had the gall to argue that the breaks are necessary to protect consumers at the pump, and the Senate was craven enough to go along.
“This Senate will have another chance to provide the American leadership the world needs on climate change. An ambitious bipartisan bill aimed at cutting America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by midcentury has been approved by a Senate committee and may come to the floor next year. Though the bill is far from perfect and will provoke intense debate, it could offer a measure of redemption for the administration’s embarrassing failure in Bali.”
European Sanctions Against the USA Because of Climate Change?
The International Herald Tribune reported on December 18:
“The Social Democrats are calling for sanctions on energy-intensive U.S. export products if the Bush administration continues to obstruct international agreements on climate protection, the party’s leading environmental expert said Tuesday. The move, after the United Nations climate conference last week in Bali, Indonesia, has won strong support from the Greens and other leftist groupings in the European Parliament. Those factions will renew their bid to impose such levies when the Parliament reconvenes next month. It also signals a big effort by the Social Democrats to take the initiative on the environment and perhaps reshape it as a foreign policy issue that could affect relations between Berlin and Washington…
“‘Merkel has made climate change a big issue and has tried to bring the Bush administration on board, so far without success,’ said Ulrich Kelber, deputy parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats and an environmental expert… ‘We cannot let the U.S. continue to block multilateral agreements, as it tried with Kyoto, or weaken them, as it did in Bali,’ he said… ‘The U.S. is a major part of the problem. Levying special taxes or sanctions on energy-intensive U.S. products, such as steel and aluminum, which are exported to Europe, could be the first step,’ Kelber said.”
Scientists Disagree on “Man-Made Global Warming”
On December 20, the Drudge Report published the following article, which appeared on the Website of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (epw.senate.gov):
“Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007.
“Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics ‘appear to be expanding rather than shrinking.’ Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears ‘bites the dust.’
“This blockbuster Senate report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. This new ‘consensus busters’ report is poised to redefine the debate.
“Many of the scientists featured in this report consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, explains how many of his fellow scientists have been intimidated. ‘Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media,’ Paldor wrote…
“This new report details how teams of international scientists are dissenting from the UN IPCC’s view of climate science. In such nations as Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Russia, New Zealand and France, scientists banded together in 2007 to oppose climate alarmism. In addition, over 100 prominent international scientists sent an open letter in December 2007 to the UN stating attempts to control climate were ‘futile.'”
Is US Economy Headed Towards Full-Blown Recession?
The Sydney Morning Herald wrote on December 16:
“The chairman of investment bank Morgan Stanley’s Asian arm, Stephen Roach, says the United States economy is headed towards recession and the rest of the world should be concerned… ‘What is interesting, and potentially disturbing, is that the rest of the world doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal any more,’ he said… Mr Roach said the US was the world’s biggest consumer economy at US $9.5 trillion, compared to China at $1 trillion and India at $650 billion… He said growth in Asia was vigorous but was export-led, and the end game of the Asian growth machine was directed at US consumers. The new consumers in China and India would not be able to offset falls in US consumption.”
In addition, The Associated Press reported on December 18:
“Housing construction [in the USA] fell in November and single-family activity dropped to the lowest level in more than 16 years as a severe housing slump showed no signs of a turnaround… Construction of single-family homes fell by 5.5 percent to an annual rate of 829,000 units, the lowest level since April 1991…
“In a bad sign for future activity, the government reported that applications for building permits fell for a sixth straight month, dropping by 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.15 million units, the slowest pace for building permits since June 1993…
“The slump has raised concerns that the economy could be pushed into a full-blown recession. Starting this summer, some of the nation’s largest banks and investment firms have declared multibillion-dollar losses stemming from a surge of defaults on subprime mortgages, loans offered to borrowers with weak credit histories… The concern is that the rising number of mortgage defaults will dump even more homes on an already glutted market.”
On December 15, 2007, The Courier-Post reported the following:
“Despite vocal protests from several statewide parents’ organizations, New Jersey became the first state in the country Friday to require annual flu shots for preschoolers. Along with the flu vaccine, State Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred Jacobs signed off on adding three other required vaccinations. Preschoolers will be required to receive immunizations for pneumonia and the flu, while sixth-graders will get shots for meningitis and a booster for tetanus and whooping cough…
“Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination, said that by mandating the vaccines, the state thinks ‘the government knows New Jersey’s children better than their parents do. Parents no longer seem to have a say what medical procedures their children get’…
“Children in the state already are required to receive vaccinations for nine diseases by the age of 2, and some of those require multiple doses. Exemptions can only be given for medical reasons or religious objections. In addition, some parents protested the flu shots because some brands still contain the mercury-based preservative thimersol…”
… And Con…
Time Magazine wrote on December 13:
“Merck announced that it is voluntarily recalling 1 million doses of two common childhood vaccines, routinely given to children under 5… Merck is pulling… a vaccine that protects against infection with haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections. The COMVAX vaccine protects against haemophilius B and hepatitis B, a virus that can cause liver disease… During a routine inspection of their manufacturing process, Merck officials found that some equipment was contaminated with a bacteria…”
The magazine’s further comments are quite revealing and contradict New Jersey’s official state policy, as referred to in the previous article:
“If children can’t get immunized, is there a danger that we will see more meningitis outbreaks? Probably not. Immunization rates are so high in the U.S. — 94% of toddlers are up to date on their Hib vaccinations — that it would take some time for a widespread infection to take hold.”
Soon to Come–Major Earthquake in Israel
AFP wrote on December 17:
“As if political instability and rampant insecurity in the Middle East are not worrying enough, Israeli experts are warning that a major earthquake could strike the region at any time. Three minor quakes over the past month have served as a reminder that Israel and the West Bank sit atop one of the most sensitive fault lines in the world, where earthquakes have a history of causing havoc…
“Under that assessment, Israel and the Palestinian territories should brace for a major earthquake soon, as the last one happened 80 years ago, on July 11, 1927, in British mandate Palestine when 300 people were killed in Jerusalem and Jericho. A similar quake measuring seven on the Richter scale and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, today in northern Israel up from the Sea of Galilee, devastated the town of Safed and killed some 4,000 people in 1837…
“The Lod institute estimates that if a magnitude seven earthquake strikes the northern Jordan Valley or the Dead Sea, between 8,200 and 9,500 people could be killed, more than 20,000 injured and more than 20,000 left homeless… Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who saw Jerusalem fall to the invading Romans in 70 AD, also wrote that around 30,000 people perished in an earthquake whose epicentre was in the region of the Dead Sea in 31 BC.”
The Bible predicts that in the not-too-distant future, a major earthquake will destroy parts of the city of Jerusalem and kill 7,000 people (compare Revelation 11:13).
How China Poisons Its People
Der Spiegel Online reported on December 18:
“Chinese journalist Zhou Qing, a critic of the regime, unearthed political dynamite in his two-year investigation of China’s food industry. He interviewed grocers, restaurant owners, farmers and food factory managers for an exposé for which he won a prize as part of the German ‘Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage’ in 2006.
“His book is a dark account of a ruthless food mafia that stops at nothing to maximize its profits, for example by using contraceptives to accelerate the growth of fish stocks, lengthening the shelf-life of cucumbers with highly toxic pesticide DDT, using hormones and poisoned salt in food production and putting absurd amounts of antibiotics in meat…
“Zhou said uncontrolled greed had caused a food disaster of unimaginable proportions. ‘I can only warn you never to go in a restaurant.’ The danger of food producers being taken to task for their actions is slight. Everything disappears in China’s endless bureaucracy, he said.
“Zhou’s claims may sound exaggerated, but they’re borne out by recent developments. In early December the Shanghai city council slapped an export ban on products made by the Shanghai Mellin Food Company after cancer-causing substances were found in its pork products. In July the former director of the state food and drug supervisory authority… was executed after being convicted of taking bribes to award licences for forged drugs, some of which had lethal side effects…
“The children are the biggest sufferers, said Zhou. Poisoned baby food has led to severe diseases and physical deformities. Zhou writes that 200,000 to 400,000 people fall victim to poisoned food each year. A third of cancer cases, which are increasing at double-digit rates, can be attributed to food, he writes.”
Food In Short Supply
The International Herald Tribune reported on December 17:
“In an ‘unforeseen and unprecedented’ shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the top food and agriculture official of the United Nations warned Monday. The changes created ‘a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food,’ particularly in the developing world, said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization…
“World wheat stores declined 11 percent this year, to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds to 12 weeks of the world’s total consumption – much less than the average of 18 weeks consumption in storage during the period 2000-2005. There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the earlier period. Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, Diouf said Monday. Wheat prices have risen by $130 per ton, or 52 percent, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time Monday, the agricultural equivalent of $100 a barrel oil… To make matters worse, high oil prices have doubled shipping costs in the past year, putting enormous stress on poor nations that need to import food as well as the humanitarian agencies that provide it…
“Part of the current problem is an outgrowth of prosperity. More people in the world now eat meat, diverting grain from humans to livestock. A more complicated issue is the use of crops to make biofuels, which are often heavily subsidized. A major factor in rising corn prices globally is that many farmers in the United States are now selling their corn to make subsidized ethanol.”
Over 12 Million New Cancer Cases in 2007
AFP reported on December 17:
“More than 12 million new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed around the world in 2007 and 20,000 people a day, or 7.6 million people, will have died from the disease… According to Monday’s report ‘Global Cancer Facts and Figures,’ some 5.4 million cancer cases and 2.9 million deaths will occur in industrialized countries… Some 6.7 million cancer cases and 4.7 million deaths will take place in developing nations, with lung, stomach and liver cancer being most prevalent in men, and women suffering most from breast, uterine and stomach cancer… ‘This cancer burden is also increasing as people in the developing countries adopt western lifestyles such as cigarette smoking, higher consumption of saturated fat and calorie-dense foods, and reduced physical activity,’ said [the report]…
“The report also contains a special focus on smoking called ‘The Tobacco Epidemic’ which predicts that more than a billion people will die from smoking-related diseases in the 21st century — most in developing countries. This compares to about 100 million deaths from smoking around the world in the 20th century.
“About five million people died around the world from tobacco use in 2000, of which 30 percent [1.42 million] contracted cancer, of whom 850,000 had lung cancer… If the trend continues, there will be about two billion smokers around the world by 2030 of which half will die from smoking-related illnesses if they don’t quit.”
First Joint Military Exercise Between China and India
The Times of India wrote on December 19:
“India and China are getting ready for a unique game, where observers and the audience will count for more than the actual players. The two nations are set to hold their first joint military exercise from December 21 ending a year of both distrust and intense parleys to build friendship. Just about 80 soldiers from each side will participate in the five-day anti-terrorism drill scheduled to take place in the picturesque mountain ranges of Yunnan close to the provincial capital of Kunming. They will be led by a company commander, usually an officer of the rank of Major, from each side.
“The key to the exercise is not the actual players in the drill but senior military officers observing the game from the sidelines. These observers will use the opportunity to [gauge] the operational methods and capabilities of the armed forces. A crucial input would be the capability to handle surprises, which is the main tool in the hands of terrorists. ‘The purpose is to feel each other [out] and see if we can work together in [the] future. The key word is inter-operability. We would be in better equipped just in case the military of the two countries need to fight terrorists in future,’ a senior defense ministry official told TNN over phone from Delhi.”
Hungary First to Ratify New EU Treaty
The EUObserver reported on December 18:
“Hungary on Monday… became the first of the 27 member states to ratify the bloc’s new treaty, making the move just days after the document was formally signed off by EU leaders… Reacting to the vote, Hungary’s prime minister praised the ‘historic achievement’ of his country. In taking the ratification step so quickly, Budapest has stolen the crown from Poland and France, both of whom had indicated they were aiming to be the first…
“The new EU treaty takes on most of the features of the rejected European constitution, including a foreign policy chief, a long-term president of the EU, a binding citizens rights charter as well as cutting down on the areas where member states have a right to veto. The new institutional rules, six years in the making, were signed off in a formal ceremony on Thursday (13 December) in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon…
“Each member state has to ratify the treaty for it to come into force, with governments aiming to get it in place by early 2009. Ireland is the only country to have a referendum on the document, while the British government is undergoing strong pressure from opposition conservatives to hold a popular vote. Mr Sarkozy has sidestepped the awkward question of why French voters will not be having a second say on the treaty by suggesting that if France had a referendum then the British government would be forced to follow suit, resulting in a probable rejection of the document.”
Russia Delivers Nuclear Fuel to Iranian Power Plant
The New York Times reported on December 18:
“The United States lost a long battle when Russia, as it announced on Monday, delivered nuclear fuel to an Iranian power plant that is at the center of an international dispute over its nuclear program… from the American standpoint, the timing could not have been worse, coming just two weeks after the release of a United States intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003…
“Russia’s decision to deliver fuel to Bushehr further encourages Iran, several administration officials and European diplomats said privately… Iran said it had no intention of suspending its uranium enrichment just because it had received the fuel shipment for Bushehr, and it even confirmed that it intended to enrich uranium for another new nuclear power plant in the south of the country…”
Putin Will Stay in Power
As if there was any doubt regarding the intentions of power-hungry Vladimir Putin, he has now confirmed what everybody suspected; that is, he WILL stay in power. The only question remains, exactly HOW will he do it?
The EUObserver wrote on December 18:
“Russian president Vladimir Putin seems set to retain power even after his second presidential term expires next year, as he has accepted an offer to serve as prime minister. ‘If citizens show trust in Dmitry Medvedev and elect him president, I will be ready to head the government without changing the institutional powers of the president and government”, Mr Putin said on Monday… The power-sharing deal ends speculation on whether the current Russian leader would resort to changing the constitution, which currently bars him from seeking a third presidential term.
“It remains unclear, however, what role Mr Putin will play on the country’s political scene… According to Leonid Gozman from the opposition Union of Right Forces party, the deal will see a strengthening of the prime minister’s role at the expense of the president’s. ‘It means either there will be a transfer of functions from the president to the premier or Putin will think of something else, for example, either becoming general secretary of United Russia or changing the constitution to create the position of spiritual leader of the nation’, Mr Gozman was cited as saying by AP.
“Analysts also took a critical tone, with Konstantin Remuchukov from the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta saying ‘It means one thing: Putin’s team will remain in power’. ‘This is not an election but the distribution of roles within a single team. There has never before been such a situation in Russia’, he added.”
Nativity Scenes Nothing But Human Legends
The Telegraph reported on December 20 about the well-known fact that the “nativity scenes,” as prominently pictured at Christmas time, are nothing but human legends. The article stated:
“The Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that the Christmas story of the Three Wise Men was nothing but a ‘legend’. Dr Rowan Williams has claimed… there was certainly nothing to prove there were three of them [the Magis] or that they were kings. He said the only reference to the wise men from the East was in Matthew’s gospel and the details were very vague.
“Dr Williams said: ‘Matthew’s gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that’s all we’re really told. It works quite well as legend.’ The Archbishop went on to dispel other details of the Christmas story, adding that there were probably no asses or oxen in the stable.
“He argued that Christmas cards which showed the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus, flanked by shepherds and wise men, were misleading. As for the scenes that depicted snow falling in Bethlehem, the Archbishop said the chance of this was ‘very unlikely’. In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: ‘Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival.'”
Of course, Dr. Williams is right, as any true scholar of the Christmas legend will have to admit. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
“Why Don’t We Just Call Off Christmas?”
The Christian Science Monitor wrote on December 18:
“My best Christmas as an adult was one I spent in the hospital. That was where our first child was born, on Dec. 21. As his mother recuperated, our new little family observed the holidays in her room, cut off from the frenzied world outside, enjoying one another’s company, and only occasionally being reminded of what we were missing by muted sounds of revelry down at the nurses’ station. Being in the hospital gave us an impeccable excuse not to ‘celebrate.’ We had no parties to attend, no cards to mail, no last-minute gifts to buy, no crowds to brave. It was wonderful.
“That experience left me wondering about the current state of year-end holidays. Whose needs are they meeting? A majority of us? Anything like a majority? If Christmas were put to a vote this year, would it pass? That vote would have to be secret, of course… But I keep wondering: If given the opportunity to vote Christmas up or down, anonymously, in a private booth – would a majority check the Yes box?
“Stress is as common as chimney stockings during the modern Yuletide. ‘How to Survive the Holidays’ workshops are more common than roving carolers. Magazine articles on ‘Coping With Holiday Anxiety’ and ‘How to Conquer Holiday Blues’ are a year-end staple. As Dec. 25 approaches, the police warn us to be on the lookout for drivers drunk from reveling, firefighters issue cautions about miswired lights, and hospitals plead for blood because their usual donors are distracted by the duties of the season.
“You’d think we’d learn. You’d think I would. I’d love to reclaim the many hours my wife and I have spent making up gift lists, then scurrying about frantically after work and on weekends hoping against hope to find the ‘right’ present for people we love, or at least get them something. On two different occasions I’ve had to sort through the effects of my late grandmother and my aunt. Both had drawers filled with Christmas presents in original boxes, many still half-wrapped, all with labels intact. These gifts had been opened, examined, and set aside. Some of them were from me…
“As if it weren’t bad enough that our Christmas rituals are obsolete, they’re also obligatory. You simply cannot avoid the occasion. Oh, you can. You could join a year’s end tour of Papua New Guinea. Or take to your bed for a week. One woman I know tries to schedule medical procedures for late December so she has a good excuse for avoiding Christmas festivities. Most of us aren’t that resourceful, however. We just muddle through. And keep smiling. And pray that it will soon be over. So why don’t we just call it off?…”
Good questions! And the answers might surprise you. In fact, we SHOULD call it off! For more information, please read our free booklet, mentioned above, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
No Christmas Presents
The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 20:
“People work hard for their money, and then they throw it away like this. And it adds up. In total, holiday spending this year will add up to about $475 billion… Our national savings rate is pitiful. Most people, including many high earners, are woefully unprepared for any kind of retirement. Or even for putting their kids through college… ‘I’m at the point where in my family none of the adults exchange presents anymore,’ says Jan Geiger, a financial planner in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of Get Your Assets In Gear. ‘We’ve all basically decided that most of what you get is a waste of money.'”
More Evolutionary Nonsense
Der Spiegel Online “reported” on December 20 about more aspects of the evolutionary fairy tale. If one is gullible enough to believe it, the latest “findings” of “scientists” “prove” the evolutionary claim that mammals and whales had a common ancestor. Here are experts from the “news” article:
“A new paper by a team of US evolutionary biologists in the journal Nature claims that whales and land mammals share a common ancestor — a miniature deer that sprung into the water to escape being eaten 50 million years ago. Based on an extensive fossil record, biologists agree that whales evolved from land mammals. But the exact evolutionary link between the two was never clear.
“Now a paper in the journal Nature has provided possible answers: Researchers in the US believe that the ur-whale was actually a raccoon-sized deer. In the report published Thursday, anatomy professor Hans Thewissen from the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine argues that the whale’s land-based origins are anatomically evident in the fossils of a prehistoric animal called an Indohyus. The raccoon-sized animal lived some 48 million years ago in what is now Kashmir, between India and Pakistan.”
At least, Der Spiegel Online was willing to admit that this new “finding” was met with skepticism from some other scientists. The article continued to “explain”:
“Naturally, not everyone is convinced. A professor of functional anatomy and evolution at Johns Hopkins University, Kenneth Rose, told the Associated Press that Thewissen and his colleagues had not provided enough evidence to merit the conclusions drawn about Indohyus…”
This whole scenario is complete and utter nonsense. We might call it an assault on intelligence and the truth. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults.”
Be Thankful That You Live in the USA
We might complain about our Western “free” societies, and there is indeed much to complain about. But just imagine, for a moment, you would live in a more restricted environment, such as Saudi Arabia, for example–especially, if you are a woman. The following article, which was published by AFP on December 17, might just give us an idea how thankful we should be to live in countries such as the United States:
“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia pardoned a teenage girl sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes after being gang raped in a decision swiftly welcomed by Washington on Monday… The girl, who was 18 at the time she was raped, was attacked at knifepoint by seven men after she was found in a car with a male companion who was not a relative, in breach of strict Saudi law. The king also pardoned the male companion, the justice minister announced…
“In October 2006, a judge sentenced her to 90 lashes for being with the man — a taboo in the conservative Muslim kingdom which imposes segregation of the sexes. She appealed against the sentence but despite her ordeal the court ruled that her punishment should be increased to 200 lashes and a six-month jail term. The judges decided to punish the girl further for ‘her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media’…
“The rapists were initially sentenced to one to five years in jail, but those terms were also toughened in November to between two and nine years. A rape conviction carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, but the court did not impose it due to the ‘lack of witnesses’ and the ‘absence of confessions,’ the justice ministry said last month. The girl’s husband praised the king for granting the pardon…
“Women in oil-rich Saudi Arabia live under restrictions imposed by a rigid interpretation of Islam and stringent tradition. They must be covered from head to toe in public and are not permitted to drive. Furthermore, they need a ‘mahram’ or a guardian — a husband or close male relative if they are widowed or single — in order to apply for and obtain a passport. Political constraints also mean that Saudi women are totally absent from the Shura (consultative) Council, whose members are appointed by the king, and were barred from landmark municipal elections in 2005.”
Should Christians participate in New Year's Day celebrations on December 31 and January 1?
They should not.
New Year’s Day celebrations are linked to pagan customs and even demonic activities. Professor Philippe Walter’s book, “Christianity—the Origins of a Pagan Religion,” copyright 2003, 2006, makes several startling statements about the real origins of New Year’s Day, as well as its customs.
Walter explains the pagan belief that by the end of December and on “New Year’s Day” (January 1), “fairies… enter the homes of those who worship them… One must take pains to prepare the meal that should be offered to them in a clean and isolated room…”
A German magazine, PM, wrote the following about New Year’s Day, and the customs associated with New Year’s Day, in an article, titled, “What is special about New Year’s?”:
“There is no objective reason, why January 1 is a better day for the New Year than any other day. The Macedonians began the new year in the autumn, and the ancient Greeks in the middle of the summer, at a new moon.
“January 1 as the beginning of the New Year goes back to Roman arbitrariness. Consul Fulvius Nobilor was prevented in 153 B.C., because of a war, to begin his rulership on March 15, which had been the day of the New Year up until then. Therefore, the Consul transferred the day of the New Year to January 1, which was more convenient to him.
“This date was accepted by Julius Caesar and has endured, thanks to the Julian calendar, as it was favorable towards new beginnings. After all, the double-faced Roman God Janus was the protector of the month of January. Pope Gregory XIII, who corrected the Julian Calendar for us, maintained January 1 as New Year’s Day. But the Chinese and the Arabs still determine New Year’s today by using the moon-calendar. And according to the Jews, New Year’s – Rosh Ha-Shanah – is in September/October. The civil celebrations of New Year’s took place for a long time on January 6, the [perceived] day of the [so-called] holy three kings.”
The Bible makes it clear that a new year begins in the spring–not in the midst of winter or in the autumn (compare Exodus 12:1-2). For instance, in 2007, the New Year began on March 21, according to the Hebrew calendar, and in 2008, it will begin on April 6. But the Bible does not command us to celebrate the New Year according to the Hebrew calendar.
The article in the P.M. continued:
“In 1742, a decree of the Pope transferred church celebrations of the New Year to January 1; at the same time, this day was declared to be a fast day, in order to counteract the ‘unchristian’ actions between the two years. For between Christmas and January 6, the ghosts became active. When winter storms howled around the houses of the Germanic tribes, Wotan’s [Wodan’s] wild hunt was present—a frightening train of gods, demons and ghosts of the dead… These ghosts were driven away with big fires and cracks of whips. The ancient placed sacrificial offerings and gifts for the demons in front of their doors… Christianity could not eradicate those pagan customs. Quite to the contrary… The cracks of whips changed with the invention of black powder to fireworks….”
“Why do we still have to drive away – symbolically – ghosts with mortar shots and rockets? Why do we still maintain those New Year’s rites? Psychologists explain this with…the power of tradition, with superstition…This word reminds us of what is ‘standing above,’ what is ‘still there’, what has endured from the pagan past and from the ancient fears of man.”
The article also explained that in Munich, Germany, “Christian” celebrations are held on New Year’s Day with choirs and trumpets to “awake the new sun.”
Another source from the Internet tells us that rituals on New Year’s Day included purgations, purifications, exorcisms, extinguishing and rekindling fires and masked processions. Often exorcisms and purgations were performed with much noise as if to scare away the evil spirits. In China, Ying, the forces of light, fought Yang, the forces of darkness, with cymbals, noisemakers, and firecrackers.
It should be easily seen WHY it is wrong for TRUE Christians to participate in New Year’s Day’s customs.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video, and You Tube. It is titled, “What Is the True Gospel?” In the program, Norbert Link is asking the audience: Did you know that the true gospel was suppressed and that the apostle Paul explained that some had already begun at his time to proclaim another gospel and another Jesus? But Paul placed a curse on those who did. Today, almost nobody knows what the true gospel is. Do you know? Don’t be too sure!
This weekend, Rene and Delia Messier will be visiting our brethren in Oregon. Please pray for safe travel.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
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