What Do Jews Think About Christmas Celebrations?

God's Love

Nearly all Americans (93%) celebrate Christmas. Only an extremely tiny minority would object to the greeting, “Merry Christmas,” a cherry greeting roughly equivalent to, “I love you,” Yet, political correctness, championed by the liberal/progressive movement, has effectively eliminated the Merry Christmas greeting from public life as well as nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas. In contrast, consider what three nationally-known Jewish leaders have to say about Christmas celebrations:

Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish columnist for a number of national publications, declares:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. . . . How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? . . . Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours. Merry Christmas, my friends!

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin agrees:

Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word “Christmas” is deeply offensive. . . . Anti-Christianism is unhealthy for all Americans; but I warn my brethren that it will prove particularly destructive for Jews. . . . Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends – a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America’s Bible belt is our safety belt.

Orthodox Jewish radio host and creator of PragerUniversity.com Dennis Prager writes:

As a Jew, and a religious one at that, I want to wish my fellow Americans a Merry Christmas. Not “Happy Holidays.” Merry Christmas…

It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by guess who? Jews.

  • White Christmas—Irving Berlin
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer—Johnny Marks
  • Let It Snow! Let It snow! Let It Snow!—July Styne/Sammy Cahn
  • Silver Bells—Jay Livingston/Ray Evans
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an Open Fire—Mel Torme/Robert Wells
  • Sleigh ride-–Mitchell Parish

and many others.

The notion that non-Christians are excluded is absurd.

It never occurred to my Orthodox Jewish family not to enjoy this season. It was a tradition in our home to watch the Christmas Mass from the Vatican every Christmas Eve…Had you visited our home, you would have seen my mother—and my father, my brother and I all wearing our kippot (Jewish skull-caps)—watching Catholics celebrate Christmas…

So when and why did this pernicious nonsense of non-Christians being “excluded” by public celebration of Christmas develop?

It is nothing more than another destructive product of the 1960s and 1970s, when the left came to dominate much of the culture.

There you have it! Say “Merry Christmas” everywhere; say it again and again and again. Say Merry Christmas with love every time. Saying it mechanically, without love betrays the greeting and the Lord.

So—Spread the Deliberate Joy; spread the merriment. After all, love is contagious. And—don’t forget the reason for the season!

Blogging YOU the warmest and merriest Christmas ever!

The first two quotes were abstracted from http://www.wallbuilders.com. The third quote is from wnd.com magazine, Whistleblower, “Of Messiahs False and True,” December 2014.

Calling All Skeptics: The Virgin Birth was Real!

Young Pregnant Mary with Manger

During the holiday season, there is no shortage of skeptics enthusiastically challenging, ridiculing, or casting doubt on the Biblical narrative about the virgin birth of Jesus.

  • True skeptics are not likely to change; wild emotional claims suit their purpose just fine.
  • Believers who have a soul-deep conviction regarding the Biblical record of the virgin birth are not likely to be dissuaded.
  • In between, lie significant numbers of believers harboring views ranging from mild discomfort to serious questions about the virgin birth of Jesus.

The in-betweeners arise, in part, because the body of believers is sailing down the river rapids of cultural Humanism, while the believers are trying to paddle upstream, following the Biblical worldview.

The in-betweeners are not likely to raise questions within their place of worship for fear of embarrassment in front of fellow believers. They are unlikely to raise questions outside their place of worship, because the information is often not trustworthy.

The short answer to the dilemma perceived by some is that God created the “heaven and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1 KJV]. For the Creator of the universe, a virgin birth is no problem at all.

Nevertheless, for the finite human brain it is often helpful to cite illustrations that are a bit closer to human reality than the whole of Creation. For example, the Biblical record includes numerous births that are even more miraculous than the virgin birth of Jesus.

For example, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were all born to conspicuously barren women in an ancient culture that regarded barrenness a curse or a punishment from God. Although the mothers of these great Biblical figures may have lived prior to the writing of the Book of Proverbs, they clearly understood the principles of the thirtieth chapter:

“There are three things that are never satisfied,     four that never say, ‘Enough!’: 16 the grave, the barren womb,     land, which is never satisfied with water,     and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ [Proverbs 30:15-16 NIV Emphasis added]

supernatural-births

Barrenness was a very serious condition. At that time, only a very rare woman would be childless by choice, a married woman—never. As indicated in the table, Scripture clearly confirms that the mothers of these men were barren (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Manoah’s wife, Hannah, and Elisabeth, respectively). Although all the mothers were mature, Sarah and Elisabeth were particularly old, as if the Lord was underscoring their extreme inability to bear a child, without Divine assistance.

Compare those births with the birth of Jesus who was born to a healthy, fertile, young woman, albeit a virgin. The miracle of the virgin birth required only a momentary overshadowing by the Holy Spirit. [Luke 1:35 KJV] There followed a pregnancy that was normal in every respect, except that Mary was hosting in her womb, the Savior forecast hundreds of years earlier. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14 KJV]

The birth of Isaac was announced by God; the births of Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus were announced by angels. The births of Jacob, Joseph, and Samuel were late in life and were answers to particular prayers. In all cases, Scripture emphasizes the barrenness of the mothers.

Sarah and Elisabeth were particularly old, far beyond childbearing years. Their husbands, Abraham and Zachariah, respectively, were also very old. All the supernatural births before the birth of Jesus, required a continuous series of daily miracles from conception until the baby was weaned from its mother’s breast.

At least for Abraham and Zachariah, the Lord had to completely restore their reproductive systems to enable them to participate in their role in conception. However, the string of miracles for the mothers was far greater, at least from a human viewpoint, especially for Sarah and Elisabeth.

Their reproductive systems had to be completely restored and rejuvenated. The Lord had to give them the ability to produce an egg, for them a long lost ability.

The mother’s uterus was completely restored with the with the ability to initially embed the baby in the wall of the uterus, allowing the formation of the umbilical cord through which life sustaining oxygen and nourishment would flow for nine months. The uterine muscles were given the strength to hold a baby for nine months, without rupturing or any form of physical damage.

For these women to bear a child, the entire endocrine system was restored to produce the great array of hormones necessary to sustain pregnancy, throughout the nine month period. Each mother’s uterus was altered to withstand the rigors of pregnancy and daily biochemical changes as well as the later movement of the child.

As childbirth approached, another burst of hormones prepared the way, softening the birth canal and initiating the childbirth sequence. About that time, a hormonal flush prepared the mother’s breasts for feeding the baby. Since baby formulas did not exist in ancient times, feeding a baby with the mother’s milk was essential. All the supernatural births in the above table could not have happened without the mothers’ physical support and nourishment before birth and the mothers’ personal breast milk nourishment for a long period after birth.

All of these complex birth patterns, completely unnatural in barren and old women, required many miracles greater than the virgin birth. For these mothers, pregnancy and nursing (breast feeding), became a series of daily miracles lasting years (nine months + nursing period)

Indeed, when the angel Gabriel was sharing, with Mary, God’s plan for her to give birth to the Savior, Gabriel further explained to Mary that her cousin Elisabeth had “…also conceived a son in her old age…(one) who was called barren.” Just to make sure the message is not in any way misunderstood, Gabriel immediately added, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” [Luke 1:36, 37 KJV] The angel’s abundantly clear message was that if Elisabeth could give birth in her old age, Mary should not be surprised any longer or doubt God’s ability to enable her virgin birth.

John the Baptist is well known for preparing the way for the coming Messiah Jesus. Less often considered is that John’s preparation responsibilities began at his own conception. His presence in the previously barren womb of the old woman Elisabeth, prepared Mary for her virgin birth.

As one final nail in the skeptic’s intellectual coffin, consider God’s proclamation in the Book of Psalms:

13 For you created my inmost being;     you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;     your works are wonderful,     I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you     when I was made in the secret place,     when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.        16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;     all the days ordained for me were written in your book     before one of them came to be. [Psalm 139:13-16 NIV]

Since God created every individual who has ever lived from the Garden of Eden through today, how could a simple virgin birth possible be a problem for Him?

OK, skeptics! It’s your turn. For Bible-believing Christ-followers, the virgin birth is exciting, but not a problem.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

The Birth of the Light of the World!

The Nativity scene.

The Christmas season reminds us of some curious lyrics about love and light, in the most enduring Christmas carols. A closer look reveals that the curious lyrics are rooted in Scripture. Consider two examples:

  • Silent Night, Holy Night-3rd verse

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing-3rd verse

Light and life to all He brings…”

There is a linkage between love and light and something very special about the linkage. Light has fascinated mankind since Creation; artists and scientists have had a complementary interest in studying light. But the highest source of information is Scripture. A look at what Scripture reveals about love and light may save artists and scientists considerable time and effort. We can do that right now:

  • “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5 NIV]—All electromagnetic energy that we perceive as light comes from the Sun. Since the light that illuminates the eyes was created by God, He is the physical light. God is also the spiritual light that illumines the soul.
  • “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV] and “…love comes from God.” [1 John 4:7 KJV]—Love is spiritual energy that comes from God, illuminates the soul, and fuels all interpersonal relationships. All love comes from God, whether the one loving gives God credit or not. Our greatest responsibility is to pass it on.

The visible earthly expression of God’s love is in and through the Son (Jesus, Y’shua). He provided “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” [Luke 2:32 NIV] “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” [John 1:4 & 9 NIV]

After forgiving the adulteress, Jesus (Y’shua) confirmed “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life.” [John 8:12 NIV]

Albert Einstein was famous for thought experiments. As a young man, he imagined riding a beam of light. Of course, Jesus could not ride a beam of light; he is the light. Instead, he chose to arrive in a stable through the humble darkness of a virgin’s womb. He was laid in an animal’s feeding trough called a manger. For 33 years, the “King of the Jews” lived a humble life serving others, ultimately exiting this life in the humblest way possible, dying virtually naked on the excruciatingly painful Roman cross.

King Jesus (Y’shua) came as a humble servant to model the life God intended for us to live and to pay the penalty for Adam’s first sin and all the sins in your life and mine. One day, the King will return as the conquering Messiah.

Don’t be afraid of any form of darkness; God is the light! Don’t fear any form of threat; God is love!

As for me, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” [Psalm 27:1 NIV]

Won’t you join me?

Rocket Launch Devotionals!

“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (1970)

At a time when a movement is determined to forcibly revise history, our spiritual heritage is especially vital. Secular history chronicles man’s successes and failures. Real history chronicles the waxing and waning of man’s relationship with God. Real history is, after all, His story.

The root of C.S. Lewis’s observation is that, no matter how revered current authors may be, they are all subject to the influences and biases of modern culture. Similarly, historical authors were subject to the biases of their cultures. Reading books across a broad time span allows cultural biases to be offset.

C.S. Lewis’ quote drove this writer to search older books, leading to a rocket launch devotional plan. Consider these original source materials (origination time in red).

  1. AncientBible—Choose a reliable translation. Others have masterfully written comparisons of scripture versions. Generally, avoid paraphrases except for occasionally clarifying difficult passages in a translation. Commonly, believers read a chapter each day.
  2. Modern-Federer, William J. (2012). American Minute: Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred, Amerisearch, Inc. (St. Louis, MO). Each daily reading spotlights famous figures and events from the earliest American colonies to the present day. The massive collection of original quotations repeatedly reinforces the principle that the United States form of government is not sustainable in the absence of a virtuous people. The Great American Experiment intends for the people to be self-governing. If the Christian faith and the government are separated, the government will fail. Conversely, the government will succeed only to the extent that people of Judeo-Christian faith are or become engaged.
  3. 1600s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2012). The Puritans Daily Readings, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). The Puritan movement crossed denominational lines and was perhaps larger in Europe than in America. The daily readings feature a different author each month. Although some of the names may be unfamiliar to the modern reader, the readings are all spectacularly powerful. A few of the most familiar names include Richard Baxter, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Rutherford, and Thomas Watson. The vivid daily readings will excite any reader.
  4. 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2010) George Whitefield, Christian Heritage Imprint by Christian Focus Publications (Geanies House, Fearn, Tain, Ross-shire). George Whitefield was one of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening, which was the driving force for the War of Independence (later called the Revolutionary War). Without the Great Awakening, there likely would not have been an American revolution. Whitefield’s preaching, profiled in daily readings, is jaw-dropping.
  5. 1400s-â Kempis, Thomas. (2004). The Imitation of Christ, Hendrickson Christian Classics (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA). Originally written circa. 1421 A.D. Thomas â Kempis was one of the leaders of a reformation movement separate from and predating the Reformation launched when Martin Luther nailed his 99 theses to the Wittenburg church door. Luther’s Reformation exploded in part due to the contemporary invention of the printing press. Nevertheless, â Kempis’ Imitation of Christ remains one of the greatest Christian classics of all time. Each daily reading is dynamite.
  6. 1700s-Pederson, Randall J. ed. (2005) Day by Day with Jonathan Edwards, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody MA. Jonathan Edwards was the other of the two best known preachers of The Great Awakening. Although, his best known message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” may conjure a mental image of hellfire and brimstone, his extremely extensive writings and these daily readings brim with God’s infinite beautiful love.
  7. 18-1900sSpurgeon, Charles (1991) Morning & Evening: A devotional classic for daily encouragement, Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, Peabody MA. The “Prince of Preachers” wrote these daily morning and evening devotionals himself. His imagery is colorful, inescapably captivating, and inspiring beyond any ability to express in a brief summary.
  8. 1600s-Bennett, Arthur, ed. (2013). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, (Versa Press, Inc. East Peoria, IL) Although some believers may not be used to reading the prayers of others, this collection is so vibrant it will bring tears to the eyes of many readers. The prayers in this volume have been written by saints such as Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, David Brainerd, William Jay, and Charles Spurgeon.

Personally, as time passed, a pattern emerged to my devotional time:

  • At first these devotional materials were simply read.
  • A bit later, I found myself highlighting occasional thoughts; eventually highlighting virtually everything with color coded highlighters.
  • Notes were occasionally jotted in the margins of the daily readings.
  • Today, virtually every page is filled with handwritten notes; some seem to be special thoughts from the Lord; others are 1-3 sentence summaries of the reading.
  • Finally, good writers seldom write in the first person (I, me, my, etc.). However, since the devotions are personal, intended primarily for my own use, the message skyrockets off the page when it is personalized. Example: “Christ, is a Mediator of the new covenant, a mediator between God and me. Jesus is a friend to both. He is a reconciler and a servant to both. He suffered for both. Jesus suffered for God’s justice and He suffered for my rejections.” And another example: “I MUST NOT handle God’s magnificent Word or the moments of my life carelessly. Instead, I MUST take great care to honor God’s Word and the moments of my life as special gifts from Him.”

Two other observations burn brightly from this collection of historic readings:

  1. All of these great spiritual leaders fully integrate the Old and New Testaments in their teaching/preaching. The Bible and the biblical worldview is a whole, from creation to the return of Jesus. Such a holistic view seems to be often diluted or piecemealed in present day materials and messages.
  2. The same early spiritual leaders lift up all three members of the Trinity equally and treat the wholeness of the Trinity equally with the roles of each member. Today, many denominations seem to focus on one member of the Trinity more than the other two. Similarly, in a zeal for analyzing Scripture, the wholeness of God too often seems to be overlooked as people zoom in on one member of the Trinity or another.

It is my hope and prayer that YOU will benefit from these suggestions.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

True Faith Cannot Be Deceived

Thomas a Kempis

“Whatever you cannot understand commit to the security of the all-powerful God. Who does not deceive you. The man, however, who trusts in himself is deceived. God:

  • Walks with sincere men,
  • Reveals Himself to humble men,
  • Enlightens the understanding of pure minds, and
  • Hides His grace from the curious and the proud.

Human reason is weak and can be deceived. True faith, however, cannot be deceived. All reason and natural science ought to come after faith, not go before it, nor oppose it…God, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinitely powerful, does great and inscrutable things in heaven and on earth, and there is no searching into His marvelous works. If all the works of God were such that human reason could easily grasp them, they would not be called wonderful or beyond the power of words to tell.” Thomas a Kempis

 

 

Jesus Christ cross. Easter, resurrection concept. Christian cross on a background with dramatic lighting, colorful mountain sunset, dark clouds and sky and sunbeamsBecause God is the Creator, He is the absolute definition of truth. Jesus came as a visible manifestation of God to explain and provide a living demonstration of truth. That is why He could say, “I AM…the truth…” [John 14:6 KJV]

It is easy for me to believe the truth in scripture and the life of Jesus, confirmed by many answers to prayer and the transformation of millions of lives throughout history. The evidence is overwhelming. Charles Spurgeon observed, “A truthful Savior ought to be believed. He is truth itself.”

Ultimate Perfect Love!

Jesus Christ cross. Easter, resurrection concept. Christian cross on a background with dramatic lighting, colorful mountain sunset, dark clouds and sky and sunbeams

Christ’s death on the Cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love. ALL real love (agape; unconditional; others before self) comes from God. He allows and enables us to express His unconditional love to others only to the extent that we cast aside pride. Even that ability to cast aside pride comes from God.

Happy Independence Day!

Declaration of Independence Close Up

Two Powerful Founders’ Quotes Connect Patriotism and Biblical Faith

July 3, 1776 “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.

“You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory I can see that the end is worth more than all the means; that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we [may regret] it, which I trust in God we shall not.” Founder John Adams

July 4, 1837 “Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day. Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before.”

“I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.”

“Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” Sixth President John Quincy Adams

Famous Scientist Stands Up for God!

Wernher von Braun

“Some…challenge science to prove the existence of god.. But must we light a candle to see the sun?…It is difficult for me to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe…Viewing the awesome reaches of space…should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.” Wernher von Braun, Director of NASA and U.S. guided missile program (launched America’s first satellite)

I Must Decrease So That You Can Increase!

man looking at his big boss

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30 KJV] John the Baptist’s humble statement about his relationship with his cousin Jesus the Christ resounds loudly down through the ages. It applies to each of us today, regarding our relationship with the Lord and also our relationship with others.

Each of us must decrease so the love of God and the light of God can shine through each of our lives, becoming abundantly and conspicuously visible to others. Each of us must decrease so that others might increase. I (Lloyd Stebbins) must decrease so that YOU might increase. Humility demands it! God commands it!

Today, our schedules are voluntarily overcrowded with self; we have deliberately allowed little or no time to serve the needs of others. But wait! Serving others is an overarching Biblical imperative. Jesus, our perfect role model said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” [Mark 10:45 NIV]

We cannot draw attention to self and others at the same time. We cannot serve self and others at the same time.

Some say we must sacrifice self for the benefit of others. But scripture guarantees that the benefits returned outweigh perceived sacrifice. He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” [Luke 6:38 KJV] The Apostle Paul, quoted Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35 KJV] What do we have to give? Time, talent, and treasure!

It is a blessing to serve others. God blesses both the giver and the receiver, the benefactor and the one who benefits. If doubts linger, note that serving is not optional.  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:37040 NIV] Service is an expression of love; service is love in action; serving others is love made visible.

The world says, “Have it your way” (old Burger King commercial and Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “I did it my way.”). It is YOUR choice, your way or God’s way.

As for me and my house, we will acknowledge that Jesus is THE WAY–“I am the way, the truth and the life…” [John 14:6 KJV]—and whole heartedly strive to live accordingly.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

The Birth of the Light of the World

The Nativity scene.

The Christmas season reminds us of some curious lyrics about love and light, in the most enduring Christmas carols. A closer look reveals that the curious lyrics are rooted in Scripture. Consider two examples:

  • Silent Night, Holy Night-3rd verse

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing-3rd verse

Light and life to all He brings…”

There is a linkage between love and light and something very special about the linkage. Light has fascinated mankind since Creation; artists and scientists have had a complementary interest in studying light. But the highest source of information is Scripture. A look at what Scripture reveals about love and light may save artists and scientists considerable time and effort. We can do that right now:

  • “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” [1 John 1:5 NIV]—All electromagnetic energy that we perceive as light comes from the Sun. Since the light that illuminates the eyes was created by God, He is the physical light. God is also the spiritual light that illumines the soul.

 

  • “…God is love…” [1 John 4:16 KJV] and “…love comes from God.” [1 John 4:7 KJV]—Love is spiritual energy that comes from God, illuminates the soul, and fuels all interpersonal relationships. All love comes from God, whether the one loving gives God credit or not. Our greatest responsibility is to pass it on.

The visible earthly expression of God’s love is in and through the Son (Jesus, Y’shua). He provided “…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” [Luke 2:32 NIV] “In him was life, and that life was the light of men…The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” [John 1:4 & 9 NIV]

After forgiving the adulteress, Jesus (Y’shua) confirmed “…’I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life.” [John 8:12 NIV]

Albert Einstein was famous for thought experiments. As a young man, he imagined riding a beam of light. Of course, Jesus could not ride a beam of light; he is the light. Instead, he chose to arrive in a stable through the humble darkness of a virgin’s womb. He was laid in an animal’s feeding trough called a manger. For 33 years, the “King of the Jews” lived a humble life serving others, ultimately exiting this life in the humblest way possible, dying virtually naked on the excruciatingly painful Roman cross.

King Jesus (Y’shua) came as a humble servant to model the life God intended for us to live and to pay the penalty for Adam’s first sin and all the sins in your life and mine. One day, the King will return as the conquering Messiah.

Don’t be afraid of any form of darkness; God is the light! Don’t fear any form of threat; God is love!

As for me, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” [Psalm 27:1 NIV]

Won’t you join me?

Do You Think Joy and Happiness Are the Same? Wrong!

joy-of-the-lord

For unbelievers, there may be a certain interchangeableness of joy and happiness. Indeed, there are even some passages in the Bible that use the words for joy and happiness somewhat interchangeably. The overarching point here is that the pure joy that continuously comes from the Lord is vastly different than the occasional happiness that comes from man.

For believers, joy in the Lord is the persistent, upbeat, sense of peace and delight that arises, because the Lord first loves us and we in turn love Him as best we can. Joy arises from the continuous operation of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and longsuffering in our lives. The joy of the Lord is permanent, dependable, reliable, and therefore an anchor of the believer’s life.

Some—especially prosperity TV preachers—claim that God wants everyone to be happy all the time. Really? Then why does God say that suffering is the most powerful tool for building strong godly character? Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” [James 1:2 ESV]

Clearly, God wants us to experience the inner joy that comes only from Him. That joy persists despite suffering and attracts others to a saving faith in Jesus. Suffering itself is not fun; it is often painful physically, emotionally, spiritually or all three. Suffering and happiness cannot coexist; for believers, suffering and the joy of the Lord MUST exist simultaneously. It is the most powerful route to building strong character and becoming an effective witness for God.

Happiness is a temporary response to the words and actions of others who will always let us down. In short, all-embracing joy comes from God, but fleeting happiness depends upon others. Consider the comparison of joy and happiness in the table.

joy-v-happiness

Happiness cycles frequently according to the ebb and flow, of outward circumstances. Happiness depends on others who are fickle and will always let us down.

The joy of the Lord should be rock solid. “…the joy of the LORD is your strength.” [Nehemiah 8:10 NIV] Nevertheless, since all people are flawed and sinful, there may be an occasional lapse of joy, but in a believer, it should be very rare.

Most believers are familiar with at least one stage 4 cancer victim who seemed to radiate the love of the Lord in the days just before death. Stage 4 cancer is no fun and can at times be very painful. Happiness becomes very scarce. When pain arrives, happiness often leaves. But true inner joy—the kind that only comes from God—can shine through despite the pain. It is the joy that shines through the pain that often draws people to Jesus.

The pervasive, immediate and eternal benefits of seeking God’s incomparable joy so far surpass man’s fickle, short-term happiness, that the choice of which to pursue is inescapably clear. Yet, we seem to devote most of our waking hours chasing man’s flawed and undependable happiness, often missing God’s sustained, perfect joy simply due to lack of time.

The joy of the Lord should and must be a permanent characteristic of every believer. It is simply a matter of getting pride out of the way and allowing God’s light and love to shine through. God’s light and love will attract others to Jesus, even, or perhaps especially, when outward happiness is at a record low.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Merry Christmas Everyone!

This is for EVERYONE tonight!

The great passion and extravagant love Jesus had, drove Him straight to the cross to face death. Think about that. He not only spoke about love, He followed it with action. People called Him crazy, God called Him perfect, now we call Him Savior. Having outstanding passion and love for God and others will at some point, put you in the position of being persecuted and misunderstood, BUT…take heart. God loves nothing more than a humble and obedient spirit, ready and willing, AT ANY COST, to carry out His will. Did you catch that? Yes, I said AT – ANY – COST. See, that’s where the dividing line is drawn. That’s the “cross-road” many reach and decide this isn’t what they signed up for. The Cross IS the “cross-road”. It provokes a decision without compromise. It offers you “hot or cold” but never lukewarm.

Yet here’s the amazing thing: Never will you hear God tell you at the end of your life that you loved Him too much, or that you were “too obsessed” with His heart…you were too obsessed in spending time with Him. So you know what that tells me? GO ALL OUT! Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I say, it’s better to be known as the “radical one” who loved Jesus “too much” rather than someone whom never professed their love at all.

Philippians 1:20 – As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with all boldness now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Amy Basel

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What Do Jews Think About Christmas Celebrations?

God's Love

Nearly all Americans (93%) celebrate Christmas. Only an extremely tiny minority would object to the greeting, “Merry Christmas,” a cherry greeting roughly equivalent to, “I love you,” Yet, political correctness, championed by the liberal/progressive movement, has effectively eliminated the Merry Christmas greeting from public life as well as nativity scenes and other symbols of Christmas. In contrast, consider what three nationally-known Jewish leaders have to say about Christmas celebrations:

Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish columnist for a number of national publications, declares:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. . . . How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? . . . Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours. Merry Christmas, my friends!

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin agrees:

Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word “Christmas” is deeply offensive. . . . Anti-Christianism is unhealthy for all Americans; but I warn my brethren that it will prove particularly destructive for Jews. . . . Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends – a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America’s Bible belt is our safety belt.

Orthodox Jewish radio host and creator of PragerUniversity.com Dennis Prager writes:

As a Jew, and a religious one at that, I want to wish my fellow Americans a Merry Christmas. Not “Happy Holidays.” Merry Christmas…

It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by guess who? Jews.

  • White Christmas—Irving Berlin
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer—Johnny Marks
  • Let It Snow! Let It snow! Let It Snow!—July Styne/Sammy Cahn
  • Silver Bells—Jay Livingston/Ray Evans
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an Open Fire—Mel Torme/Robert Wells
  • Sleigh ride-–Mitchell Parish

and many others.

The notion that non-Christians are excluded is absurd.

It never occurred to my Orthodox Jewish family not to enjoy this season. It was a tradition in our home to watch the Christmas Mass from the Vatican every Christmas Eve…Had you visited our home, you would have seen my mother—and my father, my brother and I all wearing our kippot (Jewish skull-caps)—watching Catholics celebrate Christmas…

So when and why did this pernicious nonsense of non-Christians being “excluded” by public celebration of Christmas develop?

It is nothing more than another destructive product of the 1960s and 1970s, when the left came to dominate much of the culture.

There you have it! Say “Merry Christmas” everywhere; say it again and again and again. Say Merry Christmas with love every time. Saying it mechanically, without love betrays the greeting and the Lord.

So—Spread the Deliberate Joy; spread the merriment. After all, love is contagious. And—don’t forget the reason for the season!

Blogging YOU the warmest and merriest Christmas ever!

The first two quotes were abstracted from http://www.wallbuilders.com. The third quote is from wnd.com magazine, Whistleblower, “Of Messiahs False and True,” December 2014.

Two ancient gates to heaven and hell. Choice concept.

“Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a Divine revelation in the (school)–its general precepts expounded…and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?…Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the Sacred Volume?”

United Stated Supreme Court

Vidal v. Girard’s Executor, 1844

It’s Shocking That Sin No Longer Shocks!

Shocked screaming woman holding red head with hands

Sin is still sin. It has not gone away. The overarching message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is God’s provision for redemption from the ravages of sin. The utter depravity of sin is the baseline from which we are extracted or redeemed, ultimately to experience the fullness of God’s love. Yet, today we seldom hear much about sin from the pulpits of America.

The low level of preaching about sin tacitly communicates to believers that sin has a low level of priority or is even unimportant among many Biblical messages. The decades-long decline in the apparent importance of sin encourages believers to flirt with, compromise, or participate in sinful thoughts and activities. The believers’ minds rationalize the compromises, in part, by sugar coating their lives with regular attendance at church or synagogue.

Putting distance between us and sin moves us closer to the Lord. While it is important to keep our eye on, “…the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus,” [Philippians 3:14 Aramaic Bible in Plain English] we must be fleeing from sin every moment along the way.

Consider one definition of sin. In its simplest form, sin is just doing things my way instead of God’s way. My way is pride-driven, self-indulgent, self-centered and therefore evil, because it is antagonistic to God. God’s way is other-centered and an expression of His infinite love. My way and God’s way are diametrically opposed and cannot co-exist for very long.

In short, sin is a man or woman’s private war with God. It is the equivalent of shaking an angry fist in the face of God, effectively saying, “I don’t care what You want; I’m going to do it my way, anyway.” Does that form a revolting and unacceptable mental image? Good! Then, we’re getting somewhere. Read on.

Sin should always shock, but may not always be surprising. If sin is not shocking, some contemplative self-reflection is in order. We should and must always be shocked by each new disturbing, public revelation about same-sex marriage, abortion, assisted suicide, cohabitation, divorce, or anything else contrary to the plain reading of scripture.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on homosexual or lesbian marriage should be a huge shock and wake-up call. Although the decision may not have been surprising in today’s culture, a believer must not confuse shock with surprise.

  • Surprise is emotional. Shock is soul-deep
  • Surprise may provoke anger or joy. Shock inspires action, corrective action if sin is involved.
  • Surprise is temporary. Shock is, or should be, enduring.

If you did not understand the difference between surprise and shock, with abundant clarity, before reading this, it may be because many believers (and clergy too) underestimate the depravity of sin, God’s utter revulsion of sin, and impact of sin on every area of life.

Light cannot shine in the daytime. It is over taken by the brilliance of the sun. Similarly, the light of the believer cannot shine while basking in the glory of God. He is infinite light. His light overtakes the light of the believer, when he or she is in God’s particular presence such as in the protected environment of a place of worship. The light of the believer shines in times and places of spiritual darkness. That is when the believer lights the way for the unbeliever.

The clergy and the body must continually sensitize each other to the evil, disgusting, and relentless nature of sin. We have tended to lose sight of even the definition of sin.

The spirit of believers has become numbed by a secular culture that does not believe the spirit exists. Good preaching lights the way for the believers. But preaching about sin has dwindled in recent decades implying God’s approval through the tacit approval of the clergy. Focused, convicting messages have been replaced by feel-good or how-to messages—with an invitation at the end in conservative churches. Of course, the invitation is important, but the new believer needs enormous support to reach spiritual maturity.

A tree can only grow to a height that matches the depth of its root system. Similarly, our sense of the joy of the Lord can only rise to a height that matches the depth of our conviction of sin. Consider the data: After two years of research, George Barna reported:

“What we’re finding is that when we ask them (pastors) about all the key issues of the day [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues.’ Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ – and the numbers drop … to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”

Good heavens! Why? If the clergy fail to speak forcefully and convincingly to the issues, the people are without direction. The clergy are the ones primarily responsible for applying Biblical truths to today’s culture, in an uncompromising way.

Not many decades ago cultural pressures encouraged right, moral living. Today, relentless, merciless cultural pressures push people nearly irresistibly toward the lures of all manner of sin. The flocks need the collective support of other believers. They also need the strength of their shepherds constantly contrasting the disgusting, evil nature of even so-called minor sins with the glories of God’s infinite love and redemption. It is the starkness of the contrast and the enormity of the gap that inspires.

One cannot fully experience the mountain top without knowing the depth of the valleys. One cannot experience the fullness of God’s love without understanding the utter depravity of sin at a soul-deep level. An intellectual understanding is not sufficient. A transient emotional impression is not sufficient.

It is not necessary to personally experience sin, though to some extent it is driven naturally by the sin nature. Maturity is the lifelong effort to minimize sin in the life of the believer. The Spirit of God will provide conviction through the Bible. The spiritual energy produced must be regularly harnessed and directed by the clergy.

A soul-deep understanding of sin propels the spread of God’s word by lifestyle example and direct evangelism. Witnessing follows conviction (internal) far more than exhortation (external).

Replace milky messages with meaty ones. “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it…” [1 Corinthians 3:2 KJV] Believers are begging for the meat of the Word. They are ready for it.

Too much preaching today begins at a neutral point, urging people to love God. When neutrality is the starting point there is a reduced perception of a need for God, especially if everything seems to be going well for now. People sense a need for God and experience His love to the extent that they understand the depth and evilness of sin.

God, in His Word, commands us to flee from sin (evil). Various translations of Romans 12:9 order us to:

  • Hate evil
  • Recoil from what is evil
  • Detest evil
  • Abhor evil

We can hate, recoil from, detest, or abhor only those things which God hates, recoils from, detests, or abhors, which of course is sin. 1 Corinthians 6:8 requires us to “flee immorality.” [NAS] 1 Corinthians 10:14 adds the mandate to “flee from idolatry.” [NAS]

We flee only from what we fear. We must fear evil (sin) for its relentless destructive effect on:

  • us,
  • our interpersonal relationships,
  • our children and descendants, and
  • our relationship with God.

Unless believers collectively flee from evil, it will destroy our culture and our nation as well.

Sin always separates. Love unites. Sin or evil is the opposite of love. Sin is self-centered and antagonistic to God’s nature. Sin cannot coexist with God’s love, which is other-centered. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” [Psalms 5:4-5 KJV]

“Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.” [Puritan prayer]

What does it take to wake up the believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

Believers Cannot Be the Light of the World Until They Are Willing to Go Into the Storm

Lightning strike in the darkness

Christians and Jews are increasingly disliked and targeted for the same reason. A conspicuous godly lifestyle creates a standard of comparison:

  • Righteousness exposes wretchedness
  • Right exposes wrong
  • Light exposes anything hidden in the darkness

Exposure by godly believers triggers unwanted guilt, stress, disorder, and negative emotions in others. The reactions range from cynical criticism to powerful lawsuits and sometimes violence.

Believers are, or should be, the ‘light of the world’ [Isaiah 42:6; Matthew 5:15-16] exposing hidden wrongdoing to the extent that they live their lives as God intended. Because they aspire to live on a higher plane, the cultural impact of Christians and Jews greatly exceeds the number or proportion of believers in any culture. Unbelievers will respond or react even to the perceived righteousness of believers.

The impact of believers can be positive or negative. For the last 50 years, the American culture has been drifting away from God. The collective body of American believers has been caught in the backdraft of the cultural drift, always a few steps behind, but still drifting away from God. The light of believers has grown dim.

Large numbers of Christian and Jewish believers have compromised in every cultural, social, and family-linked controversy. Examples are legion and include the areas of abortion, divorce, cohabitation, “same-sex marriage,” and many others. As believers continue to drift away from God, the standard of comparison weakens. Unbelievers perceive the lifestyle compromises adopted by Christians and Jews as approval by God and license for even further compromises by the secular public. Believers are facilitating the destruction of the American culture and family.

Today, the drift has become a spiraling free fall into the storm of chaos as American believers have increasingly allowed themselves to be sequestered by the pressures of political correctness to within the four walls of their homes and the four walls of their places of worship.

Of course, God is still in charge. He is the source of infinite love and is always available. Believers can once again become the light of the world to the extent that they soulfully repent of their own wrongdoings and aggressively pursue the life that God clearly intended. Believers must be willing to personally go into the storm and publically let His light shine through them, regardless of the cost. Political correctness is nothing more than aggregated secular pressure to turn off God’s spotlight on their widespread and growing wrongdoing. It cannot continue. Believers must be willing to stand up and let God’s light shine through them once again.

It begins with YOU!

Are YOU willing to drive into the storm?

Your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren and God are depending on YOU.