All posts tagged: Christmas

Did Your Family Impeach The President Over The Holidays?

I hope you had a break over Christmas, and a good one. Christians are told many times about the reason for the season; God came down do live with us, and to save us:

Jesus cleansing the Temple by El Greco (1541-1614)/Wikipedia

What is the division of Abijah and what does it have to do with Christ’s birth?

In the first chapter of Luke, before the story of Jesus’s conception by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the record of John the Baptist’s miraculous birth. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Zacharias was a priest and he and  is wife were unable to conceive. But that all changed when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, who was working in the temple, saying his wife would have a child in their old age (Luke 1:12-13). And we know Elizabeth’s pregnancy is connected to Mary’s, because we are told around the six month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy that Mary conceived Jesus (Luke 1:24-27). But the passage provides a bit of information about Zachariah’s priestly service that may hint at what month Jesus was born: 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth ….. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service …

Fireworks in Spain Credit: Ryan/Flickr/Creative Commons

“Now That’s Worth Celebrating!”

Now that’s worth celebrating! I remember those words being said on the very rare occasion I actually did something worth celebrating. I think one time was when I was managed to convince my wife to actually say I do and not run screaming back up the aisle! Of course the ten pounds of concrete I put in her shoes helped as well but I digress. Back in the day, whatever day you pick, let’s say Saturday. Saturday December 12, 1986, the day Stella married me. I married her too but I wasn’t the pretty one! That day we celebrated! There was food, music, dancing, and fun. We celebrated other life’s milestones and achievements. Whatever the reason, we always knew why we celebrated. Now I think the art of celebration is gone. We celebrate for the sake of celebration. We even celebrate Fridays! Or cheap wing nights! We don’t save it for significant milestones or events. Like the two greatest events of all time. Christmas and Easter are the birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. …

Nativity Scene, New York City Credit: Gary Wong/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christmas Without Jesus

When I was in high school, we had a Christian club called BASIC. That meant “Bothers And Sisters In Christ.” Looking back, our weekly huddle in a classroom, with our dry sandwiches, was the first time I got to be a Christian without supervision. My older generation liked to control the kids, and religion was pushed on me constantly, at home and in church. We knew how to behave, to avoid criticism and discipline, but I think most of my friends dropped out of church as soon as they grew up, and they don’t identify as Christian now. In BASIC, we made our own choices. Maturity had to start somewhere, and I learned about Christianity that was just Jesus. The members of BASIC came from different churches, and some had no family church. I remember two girls from a Plymouth Brethren group, and they seemed to detest Christmas. To them, the season was filled with pagan symbols and idols and shrines, especially those decorated trees. I struggled with their ideas, but I learned that the …

The Magi visiting Jesus by Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)

The promise of a ‘King’ born to a virgin?

In the Christmas story recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, the Apostle does a very odd thing. He connects the virgin birth of Jesus with a prophecy given by Isaiah to Ahaz, the king of Judah, 700 years earlier: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 NASV based on Isaiah 7:14) For many it has been a controversial connection. But it makes sense when we understand what was happening when Isaiah gave this prophecy with what Matthew emphasized in his account of the birth of Christ. In Isaiah 7, the prophet was dealing with a situation that was taking place in Judah. By this time, Israel and Judah had been ripped apart. Israel had fallen into abject idolatry, and Judah was the last remnant of God’s kingdom. In the first two verses, we read that back-slidden Israel and Syria had joined to rage war against Judah intending to remove Ahaz and set up a new …

Notice the star as part of street Christmas decorations in Lillehammer, Norway. Credit: Peta Chow/Flickr/Creative Commons

Islamization of Christmas in Norway?

A strange story posted by Norwegian blogger, Hanne Tolg, which she describes as “pretty bizarre” is that a Christmas program being performed by an elementary school in Skien, Norway, will now include verses from the Koran, Islam’s main religious text. Though Europe is very liberal in its beliefs and traditions, and most do not attend church, Christmas is still a huge celebration and acknowledged as a Christian holiday. Homes and streets are typically decorated with Christmas themes and it is traditionally one of the big celebrations of the year. According to Bruce Bawer of Gatestone Institute who helped break this story in the English-speaking world, other national holidays in Norway also coincide with Christian celebrations such as Pentecost and Ascension Day. But it appears that efforts are now underway to add an Islamic element to the Christian, Christmas celebration in Norway. According to Tolg, this year’s program at Stigeråsen School will include two verses from the Koran. Christmas is certainly not a holy day for Islam, so why would any school, as Tolg explains, want …

Feast of Saint Nicholas being celebrated in Firbourg, Switzerland on December 6, 2009 Credit: Chlempi/Wikipedia

Have archaeologists found the grave of Santa Claus?

A recent statement by Turkish archaeologists may throw a damper on this year’s Christmas celebration. They are claiming to have found the last remains of Santa Claus. While working on an old church in Demre located in Southern Turkey, an electronic survey revealed an opening in the ground beneath the church that probably holds the remains of Saint Nicholas. He is a fourth century bishop on which our modern Santa Claus is based. An initial look beneath the church floor revealed an undamaged shrine. Saint Nicholas was the Bishop of Mrya. The name of the city was later changed to Demre. According to tradition, he would secretly give gifts to children often by putting money in their shoes. Bishop Nicholas was imprisoned and tortured during the reign of Diocletian but lived long enough to see the Christian emperor Constantine come to power and was then released. When Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD (December 19 on the Julian calendar) he was buried at his church. Demre even has a museum dedicated to this saint. …

Church of Nativity, Bethlehem Credit: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

A 360 virtual tour of the birth place of Jesus

For those who have never visited Israel, in the video above film director Pearry Teo provides a 360 degree virtual tour of what is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. Just move your mouse over the video for a full panoramic view. Our tour guide is Danny Herman. Located in Bethlehem which today is part of Palestine, the Church of the Nativity covers the opening to a cave or Grotto, where you walk down stair to view where it is traditionally believed Jesus was born. On the floor, you can see the spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus. A ‘silver star’ marks where the manger sat — installed in 1717, for good reason some question if this is the exact spot. They even note where the Magi stood when they came to worship the Christ. We can’t be absolutely sure the cave is the location where Jesus was born. The original version of the chapel claiming this as the place was built by Constantine in 333 AD — at the insistence of his …

Credit: Scott Fiddelke/Flickr/Creative Commons

What should we tell our kids about Santa?

My son was about five or six years old when he motioned for me to come to our front window. It was December and our front yard was blanketed with a fresh layer of snow. We lived on the edge of the city and wild life made regular forays into our front yard. As I went to the window I saw a trail of rabbit tracks wandering through the snow. My son then explained those were the tracks of Santa’s reindeer. He must have been in our yard the night before. My wife and I had decided to tell our children that Santa was not real, with the proviso that they were not to say anything about it to the other kids. But my son saw Santa in the malls and on TV. At his Christian pre-school, many of the kids were talking about Santa and my son wanted to believe in Santa as well and now he was trying to convince me those tracks were evidence Santa existed. I told him that those were …

Credit: rpphotos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Liberty Counsel’s ‘Naughty’ or ‘Nice’ list

We are all readying ourselves for the hectic Christmas season. One of things we do is buy gifts for family and friends — a tradition handed down through the centuries from the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh the magi gave Jesus shortly after the Lord’s birth (Matthew 2:11-12). Christmas is retailers biggest sales quarter with many selling as much merchandise in this period as they did the rest of the year. Just before Christmas, US-based Liberty Counsel publishes its ‘Naughty or Nice List”, that they have put out annually since 2002. The list is in response to the politically-correct climate that in recent years has tried to pressure companies and governments to remove any religious references in their Christmas messaging. Though Christmas Day is undoubtedly not Jesus’ true birthday, nevertheless the fact December 25 rose to prominence as a Christian religious holiday is undisputed. To determine a company’s response to Christmas, Liberty analyses how many times they use the word ‘Christmas’ on their advertising, merchandise descriptions and website compared to the politically-correct term ‘holiday.’  …

Christmas is illegal in Brunei Photo Brunei water village/jkuba

Christmas is Cancelled, and Illegal

Did you know Christmas is illegal in Saudi Arabia? Celebrating Christmas there can get you ten years in jail. The country is the home of Mecca, the holy city at the center of Islam. It is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with massive oil and gas deposits. Many foreigners work there, including thousands of committed Christians, and the economy needs them. During the first gulf war, American troops defended the Saudis against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army, and Christian chaplains led worship services. I think that was the first time that Christians worshiped legally and openly in Saudi Arabia. There are no reports of Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu services. And now Christmas is illegal, and severely punished. The tiny country of Brunei on the island of Borneo is more lenient. Celebrating Christmas will only get you five years. Brunei has a population of less than half a million, and more than 30% of them are non-Muslim, but Muslim Sharia law has been imposed on everyone and it’s now illegal to wear a …

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Phillip Photo: Ben Murray/Flickr/Creative Commons

This year’s Christmas message will be Queen Elizabeth’s clearest expression of faith

For nearly every year since 1932, England’s Royalty has broadcast a Christmas message across Britain on BBC, the government-run TV station. The only year it didn’t happen was in 1969 when BBC instead aired a documentary on England’s royalty This year, Queen Elizabeth, 89, will be making her annual broadcast which according to an article in The Express will be the clearest expression of her Christian faith since she became Queen in 1952. In recent years, the Queen has become increasingly vocal about her faith. The broadcast to be aired on Christmas day is expected to attract millions of viewers. Last year 7.8 million people watched the Queen’s message. The Queen will backdrop her faith declaration with the “unprecedented” rising persecution of Christians around the world particularly by Muslim extremists in the Middle East where ISIS has targeted believers. According to The Express, a source within Buckingham Palace said “she [the Queen] is driven by a deep and spirited faith.” Though to a lesser degree, the Queen has also felt first-hand the threat of Muslim Jihad. In September, the British …

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning." Jesus (Luke 10:18) Photo: Matt/Flickr/Creative Commons

The real story behind the first Christmas

Español: La verdadera historia detrás de la primera Navidad Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright… When Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr of Austria penned the famous Christmas carol Silent Night in 1818, they painted a calm, idyllic image of Christmas. It along with many Christmas carols portrayed the birth of Jesus as we see it in Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18-2:23 — Shepherds in the field, Angels singing, a baby in swaddling clothes,  a manger, bleating sheep and lowing oxen. Peaceful, serene… yet is this what really happened at the birth of Jesus? There is a third version of the Christmas story, found in the Book of Revelation, that isn’t often read this time of year: The Woman, Israel 12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. The Red Dragon, Satan 3 Then another sign …

Peter Hollens amazing A cappella rendition of ‘Mary, Did You Know’

This rendition of the Christmas favorite,  Mary, Did You Know, has received nearly 2 million views on YouTube since it was posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. Based in Eugene, Oregon, Peter Hollens is an American singer and producer. He has produced a number of songs on YouTube where he sings A cappella, however as you will see in this unique video he sings all the parts himself. Hope you enjoy this amazing rendition of Mary, Did you know.    

Was this the Star of Bethlehem?

On June 30, 2015, those familiar with astronomy saw the rare conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter — basically these two planets cross paths and for a few days align together giving the appearance of a new brilliant star. The Venus-Jupiter convergence is the most spectacular of the planetary conjunctions. The one at the end of June was 0.33 degrees apart. Some have referred to it as the “Star of Bethlehem” because astronomers have calculated this same conjunction took place in 2 AD and may have been the star that marked the birth of Jesus recorded in Matthew 2:2, 9. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him. “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.” (Matthew 2:2, 9 NASV) Perhaps as mysterious as the star itself is the Old Testament …

Jesus a Palestinian?

[by Dean Smith] Just before Christmas, the Palestinian Authority rewrote history. It has become a bit of an annual event in Palestine. Over the past few years, a few days before December 25th, the Palestinians roll out a number of officials who make statements claiming Jesus was a Palestinian. This year was no different. According to the Wafa News Agency on December 22, 2014, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas said: “We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace.”

Christmas display in Rome. Photo: Lorenzoclick/Flicrk/Creative Commons

Why December 25th was chosen as Christ’s birthday

ESPAÑOL: Por qué el 25 de Diciembre fue elegido como el cumpleaños de Cristo There is much debate on why December 25th was chosen as the day Jesus was born. There is little Biblical evidence that reveals the date of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:8 refers to shepherds in the fields suggesting Jesus’ birth took place in the spring when shepherds were with their flocks during lambing. Maybe not coincidentally, John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Clement of Alexandria (150 AD – 215 AD), an Egyptian Christian teacher, had cited May 20th and April 20th or 21st as possible dates of Christ’s birth fitting the spring theory. By 400 AD, December 25th along with January 6th were considered the dates for Christ’s birth with December 25th the leading contender and eventual winner. The December date was listed as Jesus’ birth on an ancient Roman almanac from the 4th century that listed the death dates of early Christian martyrs. The most popular reason why December 25th was chosen is because the church was Christianizing …

30% of English kids don’t know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus

A survey of 2,000 families commissioned by the English organization Christmas Starts with Christ found over 30% of the children (aged 10 to 13) did not know Christmas was associated with the birth of Christ and 51% of adults do not believe Jesus is important to Christmas. The organization blamed the political correctness creeping into English schools for much of this lack of awareness. This includes removing mentions of Christ from Christmas so not to offend and no longer displaying nativity scenes or if they do including everything from Elvis to Aliens in the scene.

Muslim Imam: saying “Merry Christmas” is the same as committing murder

[by Dean Smith] In this YouTube video, a Muslim imam warns his followers that saying “Merry Christmas” was a mortal sin. In fact, he described it as equal to murder. Imam is a term used to describe a Muslim leader, particularly those who lead prayers at a Mosque. On the video the imam says: “[saying “Merry Christmas”] is worse than fornication and drinking alcohol and killing someone, because you are approving of the biggest crime ever committed by the children of Adam’s sin.” So what is the big crime in the eyes of this imam?

Frankincense: A Christmas gift that fights cancer?

When Jesus was born, the Bible records that magi through their study of astronomy realized something significant was happening. Using an ancient Biblical prophecy, God led them to Jesus (Mathew 2:1-8). We are not told how many magi there were or exactly when they showed up, but we do know they came bearing gifts. Though it’s highly doubtful Jesus was born on December 25, it is a good day as any to celebrate the occasion. The Bible focuses on Jesus’ birth much as it does His death and resurrection suggesting God wants Jesus’ birth remembered as well. One of the gifts the magi brought to honour Jesus’ birth was frankincense:

“Journey of Faith” flash mob

On December 18, 2010, singers from Journey of Faith church in Manhattan Beach, CA surprised shoppers at South Bay Galleria in nearby Redondo Beach with a flash mob presentation of Christmas carols. Journey of Faith is over a 100 years old and has strong emphasis on children’s ministry. The church started in 1911, when a group of  believers used a school bus to offer Sunday school classes to children and parents in neighbouring Hermosa, Beach. That ministry proved so popular, it quickly transformed into a full-fledged church.

“Little Drummer Boy” as it should be played — on a drum

In 2011, 16 year-old Winnipeg high school student Sean Quigley produced this unique arrangement of the traditional Christmas carol Little Drummer Boy. Sean not only sang, but he also played all the instruments, directed and edited the video. Winnipeg is located in the province of Manitoba in Canada. The YouTube video went viral and now has over 2.8 million views. The Winnipeg Free Press did an interview with Sean, then 18, in December 2013.  A lot has changed and not much has changed. What hasn’t changed is Sean still wears shorts in the middle of winter. Sean said he only owns one pair of long pants. What has changed is that He graduated from High School and started his own band  — Bold as Lions. The name comes from Proverbs 28:1: The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (NASV) Sean is also engaged to fellow band member Karli Gerbrandt. In the interview, Sean spoke of his faith: We want to be a light in the darkness in the music …