Do Not Open Til Dec. 26th

You may think it odd timing, but think about it…

 

Historically, Jesus’ birth was likely not on December 25th. That date was set as the celebration a long time ago, and established in the church calendar to coincide with the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice. At the time, church leaders were seeking ways to include followers of other faiths in the Christian celebrations. For this reason, some Christians have stopped celebrating Christmas. Historians estimate the blessed event to have happened some time in October. There are several historical and biblical discrepancies in traditions of the season. For example, the Bible does not specify how many Magi there were; however, it does say that they found Mary and the young child about two years later “in the house”. But the tradition makes a beautiful nativity scene.

But really… does it matter when we celebrate the birth of our Savior? Shouldn’t we celebrate Emanuel all the time? The miracle of God becoming one of us should affect every day of our lives. Choosing to celebrate on December 25th does not make us pagans. Regardless of the non-Christian origins of many of the season’s traditions, observing them does not invalidate our celebration. God has used pagan nations and practices to show His glory and fulfill His will. For example, the ancient Roman Empire built superior roads connecting the entire empire (which included most of the civilized world at that time). When the Romans began persecuting the Christians, it caused them to scatter. The road system made travel easier, and theses believers took the gospel with them wherever they went. God had used the Roman empire to spread His good news.

As the season approaches, we must resist the world’s attempts to take Christ out of Christmas. Commercialism breeds despair, particularly in our economy. Giving gifts is a wonderful thing, especially joyful when we give in remembrance of the gift we received from our heavenly Father in Jesus.

Glorify God in all we do in all seasons. Celebrate Emanuel (God With Us) every day. Be a beacon of joy this Christmas. Do not wish anyone a “happy holidays” or “merry X-mas”. Respond with love: “Peace on earth, and goodwill to all”.

Because It Was Torn

******************* This article is based on the first chapter of my book, More Than Songs. *******************

  By Mike Mattice

It’s quiet this afternoon in the Temple, a sharp contrast to the riotous mob in the streets a few hours ago.  You had struggled to pass through the crowd on your way here to pray.  The Romans were parading the Nazarene called Jesus through the streets, to the garbage dump outside the city gates to be crucified.   The march to execution is a commonplace event; yet you were sickened to see the condemned man’s condition.  He had been beaten so badly he barely appeared human; and although he could barely stand, Jesus was being made to carry his cross.

You remember, as you admire the splendor of the Temple around you, when Jesus tore through the courts of this blessed place in a destructive rampage, only a few days ago.  You heard this foolish man say that if the Temple were destroyed, he could rebuild it by himself in three days.  Now, a few hours before the Sabbath of Passover everything was back to normal in the Temple.  The ranting of a lunatic could not stop the work of God.  With the bloody image of the man fresh in your mind, you pray that death will come swiftly for the Nazarene, and that God will forgive his madness.

You marvel over the extreme reactions of the crowd following the procession.  Some wept as though they were losing beloved kin.  You’d heard that some of his followers claimed Jesus was God, and there were rumors of miracles.  A people so desperate for a Messiah could easily be deceived.  You must remember to pray for those poor misguided souls, that they would see the truth.

But most of the mob screamed obscenities and struck the condemned man with their hands or kicked him, throwing rocks if they couldn’t reach him.  As you passed through the violent scene, you were aghast to see the faces of neighbors you knew to be godly people, contorted with demonic hatred.  How could this fool incite such powerful emotion?

Continue reading Because It Was Torn

A Writer Who Doesn’t

I have always a person of passions:

I have always had an obsessive passion for food; not just normal amounts, but excessive quantities. I am striving to change that. I know I will always enjoy food, but I need to learn moderation. This goes against my nature.

When I was young, I had a passion for competitive pool; also I became obsessive, at great cost. I still enjoy playing pool. I no longer gamble at it. I am not so intensely competitive about it. Though when I have an opportunity to play in a tournament, I can still unleash the beast.

In my teens, I developed, through hard work, a passion for music. I became an above-average guitarist, and taught myself to sing (which did not come naturally to me). I no longer live the lifestyle of a typical musician. I still play and sing sometimes, as much as my arthritic hands will allow me. I love to teach guitar now; to pass on my knowledge, and hopefully inspire creativity in others.

In my early 20’s, I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, and have over the years walked with Him, and unfortunately, sometimes away from Him. My passion for my King burns powerfully in me… and then sometimes I lose focus. I have a passion to serve Jesus through song, writing, teaching, and preaching the Word of God. But sometimes I get discouraged, and my strength fails me.

I have always been a writer. From about age 6, I have always written (as a hobby). I’ve written MANY songs, poems, stories, books, teachings, articles, blogs, humor sketches, and etc. It is THE calling on my life. It is my dream. It is my vision. It is my ever-present passion. Unfortunately, my full-time job (which I enjoy and I’m thankful to have) drains so much of my energy, I have, of late, not been writing.

I was recently researching opportunities to write online content for pay. It’s something I have done before, and I could definitely use the additional income; especially doing something I love.

I received wise counsel from my wife: “Have you been writing everyday?” she asked. Honestly, not nearly enough. She then suggested that it would be setting myself up for failure to take on daily writing assignments when I have not already been exercising the discipline to write every day.

This makes perfect sense. I accepted the challenge, and immediately formed a plan. The plan lasted one day.

I have many unfinished writing projects because I do not discipline myself. I feel tired, or sick, or just not inspired. And when I do not indulge my passion, it weakens. It leaves me discouraged.

But I will get up, brush myself off, and try again.