Wednesday, December 30, 2009

[ *NEW !!! ] SCRISOARE CIRCULARĂ DECEMBRIE 2009 / CIRCULAR LETTER DECEMBER 2009


" Din adâncul inimii vă salut pe toţi în scumpul Nume al Domnului nostru Isus Hristos cu următorul verset din Is. 46:10: Eu am vestit de la început ce are să se întâmple şi cu mult înainte ce nu este încă împlinit. Eu zic:”Hotărârile Mele vor rămâne în picioare şi Îmi voi aduce la îndeplinire toată voia Mea.”

            În acest verset Dumnezeu ne face cunoscut că dinaintea începutului El a cunoscut toate lucrurile care se vor petrece în decursul timpului până la sfârşit. Şi nu numai atât: Eu am spus, şi Eu voi împlini; Eu am plănuit şi Eu voi înfăptui.” (Is. 46 :11b).

            Începând cu cap.40 este vestit planul de mântuire: Suie-te pe un munte înalt, ca să vesteşti Sionului vestea cea bună; înalţă-ţi glasul cu putere, ca să vesteşti Ierusalimului vestea cea bună, înalţă-ţi glasul, nu te teme, şi spune cetăţilor lui Iuda:”Iată Dumnezeul vostru! Iată, Domnul Dumnezeu vine cu putere şi porunceşte cu braţul  Lui. Iată că plata este cu El, şi răsplătirile vin înaintea Lui.” (Is. 40:6-10).

Cu adevărat, El Însuşi a venit şi ne-a adus mântuirea....  "

                      > DOWNLOAD PDF <


" Heartfelt greetings to all of you in the precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ with the following Scripture from Isa. 46:10: "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure …” In this verse God lets us know that even before the beginning, He knew all the things that would come to pass in the course of time until the end. And not only that: He also purposed a plan which He fulfls down to the smallest detail: “… I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa. 46:11)
From chapter 40 onward, the plan of Salvation is announced: “… get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” (Isa. 40:6-10). Indeed, He personally came and brought us salvation... "

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas History

The word 'Christmas' comes from Cristes maesse, an English phrase that means Mass of Christ.

Christmas History - an overview

The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals (parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.

Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god - Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted for 12 days.

The Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.

To spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a "mock" king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the celebration the "mock" king was stripped of the royal clothes and slain, sparing the life of the real king.

The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.

Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.

In Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

The ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.

The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).

The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. Again the masters and slaves would exchange places.

"Jo Saturnalia!" was a fun and festive time for the Romans, but the Christians though it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan Saturnalia.

But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.

Some legends claim that the Christian "Christmas" celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.

The exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas.

In the late 300's, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. By 1100, Christmas had become the most important religious festival in Europe, and Saint Nicholas was a symbol of gift giving in many European countries. During the 1400's and 1500's, many artists painted scenes of the Nativity, the birth of Jesus. An example of these works appears in the Jesus Christ article in the print version of The World Book Encyclopedia.

The popularity of Christmas grew until the Reformation, a religious movement of the 1500's. This movement gave birth to Protestantism. During the Reformation, many Christians began to consider Christmas a pagan celebration because it included nonreligious customs. During the 1600's, because of these feelings, Christmas was outlawed in England and in parts of the English colonies in America. The old customs of feasting and decorating, however, soon reappeared and blended with the more Christian aspects of the celebration.













thehistoryofchristmas.com

Monday, December 21, 2009

A British Christmas

For practising Christians, Christ is the central theme at this time of the year. But recent trends have shown that Christmas is gradually becoming a traditional British holiday rather than a Christian one. It is increasingly taking on a secular and commercial character, with people of all faiths and no faith taking part in the merrymaking.

As a national holiday, it is now a time for families and communities to meet, make peace and share turkey!

These non-Christians told us how and why they celebrate Christmas.


Atheist - Sarah Davenport, personal assistant, Stockport

We're all atheists in my family, and we just see Christmas as a nice celebration. I just love the atmosphere. We really enjoy all the snow, the tinsel and the carol singers. It's a lovely time of year.

I especially love the build up to Christmas. There are massive amounts of present buying. We go to my parents' house and have Christmas dinner with crackers and on boxing day all the family come round with the kids and we have another meal. The house is decorated with trees, stars and we always watch Christmas TV.

We do recognise it as a date that's important to Christians, but we do it because we've always done it. My parents are atheist as well. I did go to midnight mass once, but I found it mostly boring. The religious bits annoyed me. We do everything to do with Christmas, except celebrate the birth of Jesus.


Hindu - Sonia Karia, presenter, Milton Keynes

We've celebrated Christmas ever since I can remember, and my parents have adapted to the culture ever since they arrived from Africa about 35 years ago. We've had the presents and the roast dinner forever, but we started to really go all out when I was about twelve years old. My parents saw it as a proud British tradition and thought it was a beautiful festive season. You just can't miss the atmosphere with all the lights and the shopping and you feel a bit like a Scrooge if you don't get involved.

This is the first Christmas that we're doing Christmas without my parents, as they're going on holiday, but I'm still going to my other half's on the day itself. Usually though, people would come round to our house and just chill and relax. The Queen's speech will be on, but normally we talk over it!

We celebrate Christmas like any average British family, but it's just that we're Hindu. My sister and I haul the Christmas tree out of the garage every year and decorate the house and we give each other presents.

And although my mum and I are vegetarian, my sister isn't so my mum cooks the turkey for her. We'll have a vegetarian option, but the food is all the same as the traditional Christmas. I know some families who have samosas and Indian foods, but ours is packed with parsnips and carrots and gravy as normal.

To be honest, we don't even think about Jesus, so the celebration of Christmas has no conflict at all with my faith as a Hindu. Christmas for me is about tradition and fun. It's about the warm feeling you get with your family and friends around a fireplace with you when it's cold outside.


Muslim - Temoor Raja, graduate, Bradford

We've celebrated Christmas since I can remember. I remember as children we would bring Christmas cards into the home and hang them up in the living room, having contests to see who had the most.

It was us kids who brought Christmas into the house, really, and my parents were quite happy to accommodate it. When I was five years old, I remember walking into the house and seeing a green Christmas tree on top of the television, decorated nicely with gold baubles. My dad did it as a surprise for us, and I can remember the magic of the moment to this day.

Christmas is so omnipresent in British society that you can't avoid it, but for me as a Muslim it doesn't hold any religious significance. We never had nativity plays in school and I don't remember being taught about Jesus at all. It was a state school but it was 99% Muslim, which is probably why the school never emphasised the religious significance behind Christmas, and it was always just a British holiday.

We had a very traditional celebration of Christmas when I was young. I can remember watching Christmas movies and Christmas Top of the Pops, and going late night shopping with my mum on Christmas Eve. When I was 8, I remember going to see Father Christmas and it was a magical feeling. We never bought any presents for each other or anything - we just liked seeing the lights.

Nowadays, we do Christmas without all the pomp and circumstance, but we will have the Christmas meal with a halal turkey, Brussels sprouts and roast potatoes. Everyone in the family comes to this meal on Christmas Day.


Jewish - Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Maidenhead

In a religious sense, Christmas has absolutely no significance for me but it clearly affects the whole country and there are national holidays to mark it. So we often use it for family get-togethers.

I like Christmas. I find that people are a lot more giving and friendly, and people genuinely have a sense of good will. It maybe a little bit of hype and glamour but people still feel noble and do generous things.

In our family we wouldn't have the lights or the presents, but we have had turkey. We enjoy the holiday and the time off which we spend with family and watch Christmas television.


Sikh - Anu Gurm, management consultant, London

I think my parents started celebrating Christmas when my older sister was born. When it was just the two of them they didn't really bother, but I think they didn't want her to feel left out when other kids at school were talking about how they would celebrate Christmas and getting presents.

When we were little it was me and my sister who did all the decorations but these days my father is keener than anyone. He takes the attitude that we should take any opportunity we can to laugh and celebrate so is always up for it. My first memory of Christmas was opening presents under the Christmas tree. I remember being really excited the night before and asking my parents if I could open one of my presents early and then waking up really early on Christmas morning to open them all.

I think it has now become a family tradition in the sense that we always do the same things every year-cook dinner, invite family over and give presents but at the same time it has a real 'British' feel to it.

There isn't a religious element to it really, but that's not so different from other families. Christmas is more a celebration of togetherness and family than it is anything else these days.

I will continue the tradition with my family, without feeling I am compromising my religion as it's become such a secular festival. December is dark and cold - why not take the opportunity to have a big celebration to cheer things up?


Pagan - Emma Restall-Orr, Chief Druid

The 25th of December was originally a Pagan festival about honouring the dead and giving thanks for what the darkness brings to our lives. It's about celebrating the longest night and the shortest day, and I've personally been celebrating the Winter Solstice to Midwinter period for twenty years.

For Pagans, it has always been about celebrating the darkest time of the year, what we regard as the womb of creation, because light comes out of darkness. It's celebrating the birth of a new cycle of life. In a way we celebrate the birth of the sun, but not the birth of the Son!

Many Pagans will watch the sunrise at Solstice, and in our family we give offerings to the God of the Sun. We'll be up before dawn and offer a libation of whisky to the land and leave nuts and seeds so that anything that comes along can eat it. Then we'll go back into the warmth and light a new candle, signifying the birth of the new cycle.

Usually, we'll give each other home made gifts like poetry and songs but not buy each other presents. Pagans find the commercialisation of Christmas distasteful and if we do buy, it's second hand.

We then have a feast, eating whatever is in season. About half of Pagans eat meat, but others are distinctly vegetarian so they won't eat turkey. But there would be roasted root vegetables and Brussels sprouts if they were seasonal and local.

There are many ways of finding the sacred and as long as people live with honour, then we have no conflict with anyone celebrating this time of year.


© bbc.co.uk

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Despre sarbatori..

Crăciunul şi Paştele – creştine sau păgâne?

Oamenii sunt asemănaţi cu oile. Iar oile au tendinţa să urmeze mulţimea, fără să pună întrebări. Isus însă, ne-a învăţat să cercetăm totul în lumina Cuvântului Său. Fariseii au înălţat tradiţiile omeneşti. Isus a înălţat Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. Omul trebuie să trăiască prin fiecare cuvânt care iese din gura lui Dumnezeu (Matei 4:4). Lupta în care Isus era mereu angrenat cu fariseii a fost bazată pe disputa dintre Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu şi tradiţiile oamenilor. În biserică suntem angrenaţi în aceeaşi luptă. Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu este singura lumină pe care o avem pe Pământ. Iar când Dumnezeu a creat lumina pentru prima dată, el a separat-o îndată de întuneric. Întunericul reprezintă păcatul şi tradiţiile omeneşti. Noi suntem chemaţi să separăm acestea două de Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu, ca să nu fie nici o confuzie în biserică.

Crăciunul

Crăciunul este celebrat de mulţi ca ziua de naştere a lui Isus Hristos. Comercianţii din toate religiile aşteaptă cu nerăbdare Crăciunul, pentru că este o perioadă benefică pentru afacerile lor. Crăciunul a devenit o sărbătoare comercială, nu spirituală. Se cheltuiesc o mulţime de bani pe felicitări de Crăciun şi pe cadouri. Vânzările de alcool cresc semnificativ în perioada Crăciunului. Poliţia rutieră din lumea întreagă este în alertă în această perioadă, din cauza numărului foarte ridicat de accidente. Mai mulţi oameni ajung în Iad din cauza acestor accidente, în preajma Crăciunului, decât în orice altă perioadă a anului. Este oare cu adevărat sărbătoarea naşterii Fiului lui Dumnezeu, sau a altui ”Isus”?

Să privim în Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu, mai întâi de toate. Biblia ne spune că în câmpiile din Iudea se aflau păstorii cu oile lor în noaptea în care Isus s-a născut în Betleem. Păstorii din Palestina nu îşi lăsau noaptea oile în câmp deschis din Octombrie până în Februarie – din cauza vremii reci şi ploioase. De aici deducem că adevăratul Isus s-a născut între Martie şi Septembrie. Înseamnă că ziua de 25 Decembrie trebuie să fie data de naştere a unui alt ”Isus”, care este o amăgire de la Satan!

Chiar dacă am şti cu exactitate data naşterii lui Isus, rămâne întrebarea dacă Dumnezeu a intenţionat ca Biserica să sărbătorească această zi de naştere. Maria a ştiut cu siguranţă care a fost data de naştere a lui Isus. Ea a fost împreună cu ucenicii pentru o perioadă destul de lungă, după Ziua Cinzecimii. Totuşi, nu este menţionată nicăieri data naşterii lui Isus. Ce învăţăm de aici? Că Dumnezeu a ascuns în mod deliberat data naşterii lui Isus, fiindcă nu a vrut ca Biserica să o sărbătorească.

În Biblie găsim mulţi împăraţi care şi-au sărbătorit ziua de naştere în mod public – de exemplu, Faraon (Geneza 40:20) şi Irod (Marcu 6:21). Dumnezeu nu a vrut ca Isus să fie în aceeaşi categorie.

O înţelegere corectă a diferenţei dintre Vechiul Legământ şi Noul Legământ, ne va ajuta să înţelegem mai bine de ce Dumnezeu nu doreşte ca poporul Său să sărbătorească zile sfinte speciale. Sub Vechiul Legământ, Israel primise porunca să sărbătorească anumite zile prin zile sfinte speciale. Însă, aceasta a fost numai o umbră. Acum, că avem pe Hristos, voia lui Dumnezeu este ca în vieţile noastre fiecare zi să fie la fel de sfinte. Chiar şi Sabatul săptămânal a fost scos din Noul Legământ. Din acest motiv nu vedem nici o sărbătoare sfântă menţionată în Noul Testament (Coloseni 2:16, 17)."Nimeni dar sa nu va judece cu privire la mancare sau bautura, sau cu privire la o zi de sarbatoare, cu privire la o luna noua, sau cu privire la o zi de Sabat,

cari sint umbra lucrurilor viitoare, dar trupul este al lui Hristos."

Atunci cum au intrat Crăciunul şi Paştele în creştinism? Răspunsul este: în acelaşi fel cum au intrat şi botezul pruncilor, slujbele preoţilor, şi o grămadă de astfel de tradiţii omeneşti – prin lucrarea subtilă a lui Satan.

Când împăratul Constantin a decretat creştinismul ca religie a statului Roman în secolul 4, mulţimi de oameni au devenit creştini „cu numele”, fără nici o schimbare în inimile lor. Însă ei nu au vrut să renunţe la cele două sărbători mari anuale – amândouă având legătură cu închinarea la soare. Una a fost ziua de naştere a zeului-soare pe 25 Decembrie, când soarele care coborâse în emisfera Sudică îşi începea călătoria de întoarcere (solstiţiul de iarnă). Cealaltă a fost festivalul primăverii în Martie / Aprilie, când ei sărbătoreau moartea iernii şi naşterea verii călduroase adusă de zeul-soare. Ei au schimbat numele zeului-soare în Isus, şi au continuat să sărbătorească cele două festivaluri, acuma ca sărbători creştine, şi le-au denumit Crăciun şi Paşte.

Enciclopedia Britanică (o autoritate în istoria seculară) spune următoarele lucruri despre originea Crăciunului:

„Data de 25 Decembrie era sărbătoarea Mitraică a soarelui neînvins. Obiceiurile de Crăciun sunt o evoluţie din vremuri dinainte de perioada creştină – un amalgam de practici păgâne, sezoniere, naţionale şi religioase, împreună cu legende şi tradiţii. Anul şi data exactă a naşterii lui Hristos nu a fost descoperită niciodată, dar când mai marii bisericii au ales în anul 440 A.D. o dată pentru a sărbători acest eveniment, s-a întâmplat (?) să fie aleasă data solstiţiului de iarnă care era bine cunoscut de oameni, şi în acea vreme cea mai importantă sărbătoare. Pe măsură ce creştinismul s-a răspândit în ţări păgâne, multe practici ale solstiţiului de iarnă au fost amestecate cu practicile creştine” - (ediţia 1953, Vol 5., paginile 642A, 643) – tradus din limba engleză.

Aceste obiceiuri păgâne îşi au originea în religia babiloniană începută de Nimrod (Geneza 10:8-10). După moartea lui Nimrod, soţia lui, Semiramis, a avut un copil nelegitim despre care ea a pretins că este reîncarnarea lui Nimrod. Astfel a început închinarea la mamă şi copil, pe care Romano Catolicii au preluat-o după multe secole, folosindu-i pe „Maria şi Isus”.

Ziua de naştere a acestui copil-zeu era sărbătorită de babilonieni pe data de 25 Decembrie. Semiramis era împărăteasa cerurilor (Ieremia 44:19), cunoscută sub numele de Diana sau Artemis în Efes (Faptele Apostolilor 19:28).

Semiramis a susţinut că un copac peren (evergreen) s-a înălţat într-o noapte dintr-un ciot de copac mort. Acest copac a simbolizat reîncarnarea lui Nimrod, care a adus cu el daruri din cer. Astfel a început tradiţia bradului de crăciun, şi atârnarea luminilor şi darurilor pe el.

„Aşa vorbeşte Domnul: ‘Nu vă luaţi după felul de vieţuire al neamurilor. Căci obiceiurile popoarelor sunt deşerte. Taie un lemn din pădure, mâna meşterului îl lucrează cu securea, îl împodobeşte cu argint şi aur, şi ei îl ţintuiesc cu cuie şi ciocane, ca să nu se clatine.’” (Ieremia 10:2-4).

Paştele

Cuvântul Paşte (în limba engleză Easter) provine din unul dintre titlurile reginei cerurilor, „Astartea” (vezi 1 Împăraţi 11:5) – unul dintre idolii la care se închina Solomon. Au existat diferite forme ale aceluiaşi nume în ţări diferite.

Enciclopedia Britanică spune:

„Cuvântul din limba engleză „Easter” (paşte) corespunde cuvântului german „Oster”, şi ambele au rădăcinile în triburile Teutonice din Europa Centrală. Când a ajuns la Teutoni, creştinismul a încorporat în sărbătorirea acestui mare ospăţ Creştin mai multe ritualuri păgâne, care au acompaniat observarea „festivalului primăverii”. Faptul că „festivalul” învierii se ţinea primăvara, fiindcă sărbătorea triumful vieţii peste moarte, a făcut foarte uşoară asocierea cu acest eveniment a celui mai mare festival al Teutonilor, ţinut în onoarea morţii iernii, a naşterii unui nou an şi a reapariţiei soarelui. Eostre (sau Astartea), zeiţa primăverii, a dat numele acestei sfinte sărbători creştine. Ideea oului ca un simbol al fertilităţii şi vieţii îşi are începuturile în vremea Egiptenilor şi Perşilor antici care aveau obiceiul de a colora şi mânca ouă în timpul sărbătorii festivalului primăverii. Această idee antică, a semnificaţiei oului ca simbol al vieţii, a devenit sursa ideii oului ca semn al învierii. Conform legendei bătrâneşti, soarele care răsare în dimineaţa de Paşte dansează pe cer; încă o idee care îşi are originea în festivalul păgân al primăverii, unde spectatorii dansau în onoarea soarelui... bisericile Protestante au preluat acest obicei de a ţine servicii în dimineaţa de Paşti” - (ediţia 1959, Vol 7, paginile 859, 860) – tradus din limba engleză.

Babilonienii credeau că un ou mare a căzut din cer în râul Eufrat şi din el a ieşit Astartea. Astfel a început folosirea oului în legătură cu închinarea la soare din timpul festivalului primăverii. Creştinii din secolul 4 au preluat această tradiţie, şi până în ziua de astăzi Paştele se sărbătoreşte cu ouă, despre care se spune că simbolizează ieşirea lui Isus din mormânt, asemănătoare ieşirii puiului din ou!!!

Turte de pâine erau aduse de către păgâni ca ofrande înaintea împărătesei cerurilor, cu multe secole înainte de Hristos (Ieremia 7:18). La creştini, acestea au devenit pâinea împletită care se serveşte în Vinerea Mare!

Când frângem pâinea, mărturisim nu numai moartea lui Hristos, ci şi moartea noastră împreună cu El. Sentimentalismul din Paşte distrage atenţia oamenilor de la nevoia de a-L urma pe Isus şi o îndreaptă asupra unor ritualuri goale.

Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu sau tradiţia oamenilor?

În spatele sărbătorilor de Crăciun şi de Paşte stă principiul periculos al urmării tradiţiilor omeneşti, chiar dacă nu au nici un temei în Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. Atât de puternică este această putere a tradiţiilor încât mulţi creştini care cred Scriptura cu privire la alte domenii, găsesc foarte greu să renunţe la sărbătorirea Crăciunului şi Paştelor.

Este uimitor că mulţi creştini nu vor să accepte ceea ce şi scriitorii seculari (autorii Enciclopediei Britanice) au înţeles foarte clar – că Paştele şi Crăciunul sunt, de fapt, sărbători păgâne. Poţi să i te adresezi unui măgar cu numele de leu, însă el tot măgar rămâne. Schimbarea numelor nu a transformat aceste ritualuri în festivaluri creştine!

Din ceea ce am văzut reiese foarte clar faptul că creştinii sărbătoresc la Crăciun ziua de naştere a unui alt ‚,Isus” – Nimrod din Babilon. Iar la Paşte, ei de fapt sărbătoresc învierea unui alt „Isus” – zeul-soare care aduce vara în emisfera nordică! În spatele lui Nimrod şi a zeului soare se ascunde de fapt Satan, care primeşte toată închinarea (Exodul 32:4, 5) "El i -a luat din minile lor, a batut aurul cu dalta, si a facut un vitel turnat. Si ei au zis: ,,Israele! iata dumnezeul tau, care te -a scos din tara Egiptului. Cind a vazut Aaron lucrul acesta, a zidit un altar inaintea lui, si a strigat: ,,Mine, va fi o sarbatoare in cinstea Domnului!``". Să luăm aminte la aceste lucruri toţi cei care sărbătorim Crăciunul şi Paştele!

După cum am spus la început, Isus a fost angrenat într-o luptă continuă cu Fariseii, exact cu privire la această problemă – tradiţiile omeneşti în competiţie cu Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. El a avut parte de mai multă împotrivire din pricina opoziţiei faţă de aceste tradiţii goale „bătrâneşti”, decât din pricina predicării împotriva păcatului. La fel se va întâmpla şi în cazul nostru, dacă vom fi la fel de credincioşi cum a fost Isus.

Chemarea Bisericii din ziua de astăzi este să demaşte orice sărbătoare babiloniană pe care a strecurat-o Satan în creştinism, şi să refuze tot (oricât de nevinovat ar părea) ce nu este întemeiat pe Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu.

Unii vor folosi Romani 14:5, 6 care pomeneşte pe cei care socotesc o zi mai presus decât alta. Aici se vorbeşte clar despre Sabat, la care unii evrei întorşi la Dumnezeu nu aveau înţelepciunea să renunţe.Pavel îi îndeamnă pe cei care aveau lumina Noului Legământ, să aibă răbdare cu acei fraţi evrei mai slabi. Dar acelaşi îndemn nu poate fi aplicat celebrării Crăciunului sau Paştelor de către creştinii din zilele noastre!

Singur, Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu ne este călăuză, nu exemplul oamenilor care, chiar dacă sunt credincioşi, ei nu urmează Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. „Dimpotrivă, Dumnezeu să fie găsit adevărat şi toţi oamenii să fie găsiţi mincinoşi” (Romani 3:4). Credincioşii din Berea au cercetat Scripturile ca să verifice chiar şi învăţăturile lui Pavel, iar Duhul Sfânt îi lăuda pentru aceasta (Faptele Apostolilor 17:11). Exemplul lor trebuie să-l urmăm şi noi.

David a fost un om după inima lui Dumnezeu. Totuşi, timp de patruzeci de ani, el le-a dat voie israeliţilor să se închine la şarpele de aramă făcut de Moise, fără să îşi dea seama că acest lucru nu era plăcut înaintea lui Dumnezeu. El nu a avut înţelepciune nici măcar când a fost vorba de chestiuni evidente de idolatrie. Împăratul Osea, a fost cel care a primit înţelepciune de la Dumnezeu ca să scoată la lumină şi să distrugă această tradiţie idolatră (2 Împăraţi 18:1-4)"In al treilea an al lui Osea, fiul lui Ela, imparatul lui Israel, a inceput sa domneasca Ezechia, fiul lui Ahaz, imparatul lui Iuda.

Avea douazeci si cinci de ani cind a ajuns imparat, si a domnit douazeci si noua de ani la Ierusalim. Mama-sa se chema Abi, fata lui Zaharia.

El a facut ce este placut inaintea Domnului, intocmai cum facuse tatal sau David.

A indepartat inaltimile, a sfarimat stilpii idolesti, a taiat Astarteele, si a sfarimat in bucati sarpele de arama, pe care -l facuse Moise, caci copiii lui Israel arsesera pina atunci tamiie inaintea lui: il numeau Nehustan.". Trebuie să rămânem credincioşi Cuvântului, şi să împlinim fiecare învăţătură fără să adăugăm sau să tăiem nimic.

Spiritualitatea adevărată înseamnă să trăim asemenea lui Isus în toate aspectele vieţii. Aceasta înseamnă în mod principal să ne purtăm crucea şi să ne supunem Cuvântului lui Dumnezeu în viaţa de zi cu zi, prin puterea Duhului Sfânt. De asemenea, înseamnă să renunţăm la orice tradiţie omenească care nu se găseşte în Noul Testament. Dumnezeu ne cheamă să avem o mărturie pură în toate aspectele – o biserică liberă nu doar de păcat, ci şi de obiceiuri babiloniene.



© Zac Poonen - Vin nou in burdufuri noi

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas [detailed synopsis]

Christmas is marked on the 25 December (7 January for Orthodox Christians).
Christmas is a Christian holy day that marks the birth of Jesus, the son of God.

The story of Christmas

Jesus' birth, known as the nativity, is described in the New Testament of the Bible.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give different accounts. It is from them that the nativity story is pieced together.

Both accounts tell us that Jesus was born to a woman called Mary who was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter. The Gospels state that Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant.

In Luke's account Mary was visited by an angel who brought the message that she would give birth to God's son. According to Matthew's account, Joseph was visited by an angel who persuaded him to marry Mary rather than send her away or expose her pregnancy.

Matthew tells us about some wise men who followed a star that led them to Jesus' birthplace and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Luke tells how shepherds were led to Bethlehem by an angel.

According to tradition, Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem shortly before Jesus' birth. Joseph had been ordered to take part in a census in his home town of Bethlehem.

All Jewish people had to be counted so the Roman Emperor could determine how much money to collect from them in tax. Those who had moved away from their family homes, like Joseph, had to return to have their names entered in the Roman records.

Joseph and Mary set off on the long, arduous 90-mile journey from Nazareth along the valley of the River Jordan, past Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Mary travelled on a donkey to conserve her energy for the birth.

But when they arrived in Bethlehem the local inn was already full with people returning for the census. The innkeeper let them stay in the rock cave below his house which was used as a stable for his animals.

It was here, next to the noise and filth of the animals, that Mary gave birth to her son and laid him in a manger.

Date of Christmas and precursors
The first Christmas

The Gospels do not mention the date of Jesus' birth. It was not until the 4th century AD that Pope Julius I set 25th December as the date for Christmas. This was an attempt to Christianise the Pagan celebrations that already took place at this time of year. By 529, 25th December had become a civil holiday and by 567 the twelve days from 25th December to the Epiphany were public holidays.

Christmas is not only a Christian festival. The celebration has roots in the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the festivals of the ancient Greeks, the beliefs of the Druids and the folk customs of Europe.

Midwinter celebrations

Christmas comes just after the middle of winter. The sun is strengthening and the days are beginning to grow longer. For people throughout history this has been a time of feasting and celebration.

Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives and because of this they had a great reverence for, and even worshipped, the sun. The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule (another name for Christmas) is thought to have come. At Winter Solstice the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.

The Romans also held a festival to mark the Winter Solstice. Saturnalia (from the God Saturn) ran for seven days from 17th December. It was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants. The festival also involved processions, decorating houses with greenery, lighting candles and giving presents.

Holly is one of the symbols most associated with Christmas. Its religious significance pre-dates Christianity. It was previously associated with the Sun God (Saturn) and was important in Pagan customs. Some ancient religions used holly for protection. They decorated doors and windows with it in the belief it would ward off evil spirits.

Before Christianity came to the British Isles the Winter Solstice was held on the shortest day of the year (21st December). The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

Judaism was the main religion of Israel at the time of Jesus' birth. The Jewish midwinter festival of Hanukkah marks an important part of Jewish history. It is eight days long and on each day a candle is lit. It is a time of remembrance, celebration of light, a time to give gifts and have fun.

Historical celebration

Christmas has always been a strange combination of Christian, Pagan and folk traditions. As far back as 389 AD, St Gregory Nazianzen (one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church) warned against 'feasting in excess, dancing and crowning the doors'. The Church was already finding it hard to bury the Pagan remnants of the midwinter festival.
Medieval

During the medieval period (c.400AD - c.1400AD) Christmas was a time for feasting and merrymaking. It was a predominantly secular festival but contained some religious elements.

Medieval Christmas lasted 12 days from Christmas Eve on 24th December, until the Epiphany (Twelfth Night) on 6th January. Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means 'to show', meaning the time when Jesus was revealed to the world. Even up until the 1800s the Epiphany was at least as big a celebration as Christmas day.

Many Pagan traditions had been brought to Britain by the invading Roman soldiers. These included covering houses in greenery and bawdy partying that had its roots in the unruly festival of Saturnalia.

The Church attempted to curb Pagan practices and popular customs were given Christian meaning. Carols that had started as Pagan songs for celebrations such as midsummer and harvest were taken up by the Church. By the late medieval period the singing of Christmas carols had become a tradition.

The Church also injected Christian meaning into the use of holly, making it a symbol for Jesus' crown of thorns. According to one legend, the holly's branches were woven into a painful crown and placed on Christ's head by Roman soldiers who mocked him, chanting: "Hail King of the Jews." Holly berries used to be white but Christ's blood left them with a permanent crimson stain.

Another legend is about a little orphan boy who was living with shepherds when the angels came to announce Jesus' birth. The child wove a crown of holly for the newborn baby's head. But when he presented it, he became ashamed of his gift and started to cry. Miraculously the baby Jesus reached out and touched the crown. It began to sparkle and the orphan's tears turned into beautiful scarlet berries.

Ban on Christmas

From the middle of the 17th century until the early 18th century the Christian Puritans suppressed Christmas celebrations in Europe and America.

The Puritan movement began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth in England (1558-1603). They believed in strict moral codes, plenty of prayer and close following of New Testament scripture.

As the date of Christ's birth is not in the Gospels the Puritans thought that Christmas was too strongly linked to the Pagan Roman festival and were opposed to all celebration of it, particularly the lively, boozy celebrations inherited from Saturnalia. In 1644 all Christmas activities were banned in England. This included decorating houses with evergreens and eating mince pies.

The crib and the nativity play

The telling of the Christmas story has been an important part of the Christianisation of Christmas. One way that the Christmas story has been maintained is through the crib, a model of the manger that Jesus was born in.

The tradition of crib making dates back to at least 400 AD when Pope Sixtus III had one built in Rome. In many parts of Europe in the 18th century crib making was an important craft form. This was not the case in England until much later, suggesting that British Christmases were less Christian than those in other parts of Europe.

The tradition of Nativity plays began in churches where they were used to illustrate the Christmas story as told in the Bible.

Victorian Christmas

After a lull in Christmas celebrations the festival returned with a bang in the Victorian Era (1837-1901). The Victorian Christmas was based on nostalgia for Christmases past. Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) inspired ideals of what Christmas should be, capturing the imagination of the British and American middle classes. This group had money to spend and made Christmas a special time for the family.

The Victorians gave us the kind of Christmas we know today, reviving the tradition of carol singing, borrowing the practice of card giving from St. Valentine's day and popularising the Christmas tree.

Although the Victorians attempted to revive the Christmas of medieval Britain, many of the new traditions were Anglo-American inventions. From the 1950s, carol singing was revived by ministers, particularly in America, who incorporated them into Christmas celebrations in the Church. Christmas cards were first sent by the British but the Americans, many of whom were on the move and away from their families, picked up the practice because of a cheap postal service and because it was a good way of keeping in contact with people at home.

Christmas trees were a German tradition, brought to Britain and popularised by the royal family. Prince Albert first introduced the Christmas tree into the royal household in Britain in 1834. He was given a tree as a gift by the Queen of Norway which was displayed in Trafalgar Square.

Modern celebration
Advent

Advent is the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus and begins on Sunday nearest to 30th November. The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning coming. Traditionally it is a penitential season but is no longer kept with the strictness of Lent and Christians are no longer required to fast.

Advent wreaths are popular especially in churches. They are made with fir branches and four candles. A candle is lit each Sunday during Advent.

Christmas Day is the Christian festival most celebrated by non-churchgoers, and churches are often completely full for the service late on Christmas Eve.

Father Christmas

An important part of today's Christmas is the myth of Father Christmas (called Santa Claus in America). His origins are in Christian and European tradition. But the visual image of Father Christmas that we have today is the one popularised by American card-makers in the Victorian era.

Traditionally, Father Christmas visits houses at midnight on Christmas Eve, coming down the chimney to leave presents. Children hang up stockings - nowadays usually large socks with Christmas patterns knitted into them - for Father Christmas to fill with little toys and presents ('stocking fillers').

Some traditions surrounding Father Christmas pre-date Christianity. His sleigh, pulled by reindeer, is left over from Scandinavian mythology. The practice of leaving mince pies and a glass of milk or brandy for him on Christmas Eve may be a remnant of Pagan sacrifices made to mark the end of winter and the coming of spring.

The USA has the figure of Santa Claus, whose name comes from Saint Nicholas via the Dutch Sinterklaas. Saint Nicholas of Myra (a location in modern-day Turkey) is, among other things, the patron saint of sailors. A famous story has him anonymously delivering bags of gold coins to a man who could not afford dowry for his daughters to get married. Some versions of this story even have Saint Nick dropping the bags down the chimney.

In modern times the figures of Father Christmas and Santa Claus are indistinguishable.

Christmas today

Today, only around 60 percent of people in the UK are Christian but Christmas remains the biggest holiday in the calendar. It is a largely secular holiday, with the main element the exchange of gifts on Christmas day.

In previous centuries the Church worried about Pagan influence on the Christian festival, but today ethical considerations are focused on the over-commercialism of the holiday, with the average person in the UK spending hundreds of pounds on Christmas-related purchases (an average of £384 in 2007, according to a Halifax report).

Protests against consumerism have been made by Christians and non-Christians such as 'Buy Nothing Christmas', encouraging people to spend time with their families instead of spending money on them.

With carol concerts, Christmas trees, office parties, midnight mass, and television programmes, today's festival has elements of the Pagan, Christian and folk traditions.

Christmas remains a time to forget about the long dark days and celebrate with friends and family.



Bibliography

The Making of A Modern Christmas, J.M. Golby & A.W. Purdue, Sutton Publishing, 1986

Victorian Christmas, Joy to the World, C. Hart, J. Grossman & P. Dunhill, Ebury Press, 1991

The Christmas Alumanac, Michael Stephenson, Oxford Univesity Press, 1992

The Book of Christmas, Thomas K. Hervey, Folklore Society Books, 2000

Christmas. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 26, 2003, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Santa Christ?

( from Sinclair Ferguson)

I took the hand of my toddler son (it was several decades ago now) as we made our way into the local shop on the small and remote Scottish island where earlier that year I had been installed as minister. It was Christmas week. The store was brightly decorated and a general air of excitement was abroad.

Without warning, the conversations of the customers were brought to a halt by a questioning voice from beside me. My son's upraised index finger pointed at a large cardboard Santa Claus. "Daddy, who is that funny-looking man?" he asked.

Amazement spread across the faces of the jostling shoppers; accusing glances were directed at me. Such shame--the minister's son did not even recognize Santa Claus! What likelihood, then, of hearing good news in his preaching at the festive season?

Such experiences can make us bewail how the Western world gives itself over annually to its Claus-mass or commerce-mass. We celebrate a reworked pagan Saturnalia of epic proportions, one in which the only connection with the incarnation is semantic. Santa is worshiped, not the Savior; pilgrims go to the stores with credit cards, not to the manger with gifts. It is the feast of indulgence, not of the incarnation.

It is always easier to lament and critique the new paganism of secularism's blatant idolatry than to see how easily the church -- and we ourselves -- twist or dilute the message of the incarnation in order to suit our own tastes. But, sadly, we have various ways of turning the Savior into a kind of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus Christianity
For one thing, in our worship at Christmas we may varnish the staggering truth of the incarnation with what is visually, audibly, and aesthetically pleasing. We confuse emotional pleasure -- or worse, sentiment -- with true adoration.

For another thing, we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.

Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been "good enough." So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.

Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus -- a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus' hand, like Santa's sack, opens only when we can give an upper-percentile answer to the none-too-weighty probe, "Have you done your best this year?" The only difference from medieval theology here is that we do not use its Latin phraseology: facere quod in se est (to do what one is capable of doing on one's own, or, in common parlance, "Heaven helps those who help themselves").

Then again, Santa Christ may be a mystical Jesus, who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have when we think about him, irrespective of his historical reality. It doesn't really matter whether the story is true or not; the important thing is the spirit of Santa Christ. For that matter, while it would spoil things to tell the children this, everyone can make up his or her own Santa Christ. As long as we have the right spirit of Santa Christ, all is well.

But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking -- however much it employs Jesus-language--is not to be confused with biblical truth.

The Christ of Christmas
The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).

Those whose lives were bound up with the events of the first Christmas did not find His coming an easy and pleasurable experience.

Mary and Joseph's lives were turned upside down.

The shepherds' night was frighteningly interrupted, and their futures potentially radically changed.

The magi faced all kinds of inconvenience and family separation.

Our Lord Himself, conceived before wedlock, born probably in a cave, would spend His early days as a refugee from the bloodthirsty and vindictive Herod (Matt. 2:13-21).

There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is "like filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6)--far from good enough--and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.
A Christian Christmas
The Christians who first began to celebrate the birth of the Savior saw this. Christmas for them was not (contrary to what is sometimes mistakenly said) simply adding a Christian veneer to a pagan festival--the Roman Saturnalia. They may have been doing what many Christians have done in marking Reformation Day (which happens to fall on Halloween), namely, committing themselves to a radical alternative to the world's Saturnalia, refusing to be squeezed into its mold. They were determined to fix mind, heart, will, and strength exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no confusion in their thinking between the world and the gospel, Saturnalia and Christmas, Santa Jesus and Christ Jesus. They were citizens of another empire altogether.

In fact, such was the malice evoked by their other-worldly devotion to Christ that during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, some believers were murdered as they gathered to celebrate Christmas. What was their gross offense? Worship of the true Christ -- incarnate, crucified, risen, glorified, and returning. They celebrated Him that day for giving His all for them, and as they did so, they gave their all for Him.

One Christmas Eve in my teenage years, I opened a book a friend had given to me as a present. I found myself so overwhelmed by its teaching on my recently found Savior that I began to shake with emotion at what had dawned on me: the world had not celebrated His coming, but rather had crucified Him.

Doubtless I was an impressionable teenager. But should it not cause us to tremble that "they crucified my Lord"? Or is that true only in song, not in reality? Are we not there when the world still crucifies Him in its own, often-subtle ways?

The truth is that unless the significance of what Christ did at the first Christmas shakes us, we can scarcely be said to have understood much of what it means, or of who He really is.
Who is He in yonder stall
At Whose feet the shepherds fall?
'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him!
Crown Him, Lord of all!


And we might add:
Who is He on yonder cross
Suffers for this dark world's loss?
'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall, Crown Him!
Crown Him, Lord of all!


Let us not confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus.


ligonier.org

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Craciunul - sarbatoare crestina?

Craciunul - sarbatoare crestina?
Deoarece suntem in preajma acestor sarbatori de iarna, m-am gandit sa scriu un articol despre ele. Sunt intr-adevar sarbatorile de iarna crestine?
In primul rand cred ca deja stiti ca Domnul Isus nu s-a nascut in 25 decembrie, si nici in alta zi din decembrie. Conform Luca 1:26 si mai jos, "In luna a sasea, ingerul Gabriel a fost trimis de Dumnezeu intr-o cetate din Galilea, numita Nazaret..."
Deci ingerul Gabriel s-a aratat Mariei in luna a sasea. Vers. 39 "Maria s-a sculat chiar in zilele acelea, si a plecat in graba spre munti, intr-o cetate a lui Iuda."
Vers. 42, 43 " Ea a strigat cu glas tare: "Binecuvantata esti tu intre femei, si binecuvantat este rodul pantecelui tau.Cum mi-a fost dat mie sa vina la mine maica Domnului meu?"
Daca in luna a sasea Maria a fost insarcinata, aproximativ in ce luna a nascut?
Eu cred ca martie sau aprilie, desi nu se poate stii sigur.
Si mai este faptul si ca Isus este numit Mielul lui Dumnezeu. Si mieii se nasc primavara.
Sa ne gandim ce inseamna craciunul pentru unii: mancare, bautura, chef...si multe altele.Putini sunt cei care se gandesc la nasterea Domnului Isus. Si totusi, cred ca moartea Lui are o importanta muuuult mai mare decat nasterea Lui. Evrei 9:15 "Si tocmai de aceea este El mijlocitorul unui legamant nou, pentru ca, prin moartea Lui(nu nasterea Lui) pentru rascumpararea din abaterile faptuite sub legamantul dintai, cei ce au fost chemati, sa capete vesnica mostenire, care le-a fost fagaduita." Sa ne gandim, Craiunul este o sarbatoare globala, sarbatorita de tot crestinismul ( si cred ca pentru 80% din oameni cam asa se defineste craciunul, mancare, bautura, voie buna. Si totusi de ce se numeste "craciun" si nu nasterea Domnului Isus? Pentru ca pe asta se pune baza! Aaaa.....am uitat ca vine si Mos Craciun si pune cadourile sub brad...Vedeti? Cati dintre parinti nu isi mint proprii copii si le spun ca "vine mosul" doar ca sa aiba o "copilarie fericita". Eu cred ca se inseala. Cand copiii afla mai tarziu adevarul despre "mos craciun" vor fi foarte dezamagiti si vor zice "pai si povestea cu Isus e la fel ca si cu mos craciun, un basm" ? Am ramas foarte uimit cand in biserica penticostala in ziua de craciun, un predicator a povestit la propriu povestea lui.... "mos craciun".
Sa va spun mai multe si despre partea istorica, despre provenienta craciunului si a obiceiurilor.
Într-un tratat din 243 este indicat ca ziua de nastere a lui Hristos a fost 28 martie. Alte date de nastere a lui Hristos sunt 2 aprilie (dupa Hippolytus), 19 aprilie si 20 mai. Cele mai recente sunt: 6 ianuarie (dupa Clement din Alexandria, numai armeni înca par sa tina nasterea lui Hristos la 6 ianuarie). Abia în jurul anilor 325-354 la Roma s-a stabilit net în mod liturgic sarbatoarea de Craciun, la 25 decembrie, decizia fiind luata din motive teologice: la aceasta data era o sarbatoare pagâna dedicata "dumnezeului soare" si se sarbatorea cu jocuri în circ si cu un aflux mare de oameni de pe întreg teritoriul Imperiului la Roma. Împaratul Aurelian (270-275 d.Hr.) a dat o mare importanta cultului soarelui si, în 274, a declarat 25 decembrie nasterea soarelui neînfrânt. Împaratul Constantin a înlocuit sarbatoarea "dumnezeului soare" pe 25 decembrie stabilind ca sarbatorim nasterea lui Hristos, gândindu-se sa învinga si sa înlocuiasca cultele vechi. În timpul secolului al patrulea aceasta data a început sa câstige, dar aceste sarbatori pagâne erau prea adânc înradacinate în traditii pentru a fi abolite de influenta crestinismului ... Sarbatoarea pagâna cu ospat, a fost atât de populara pentru crestini, încât au fost fericiti sa gaseasca o scuza pentru a perpetua sarbatoarea, cu câteva modificari, atât în spirit, cât si în utilizarea sa (NB: este vorba despre pagânii crestinati fortat de Constantin, nu de adevaratii urmasi ai lui Hristos, de cei care au fost o data pagâni si dupa convertirea simulata de Constantin, au acceptat noua religie de stat: crestinismul). Deci, pentru acei pagani care s-au convertit la crestinism s-a gasit o scuza necesara pentru a începe considerarea sarbatorii lor pagâne pe 25 decembrie (ziua de nastere a dumnezeului soare), cum ar fi fost ziua de nastere a Fiului lui Dumnezeu. In 534 d. C Episcopul de Roma, a declarat 25 decembrie ca fiind aniversarea nasterii lui Hristos. Siberiu a ordonat credinciosilor sa sarbatoreasca aceasta data pentru a comemora Nasterea lui Isus ".
Privitor la bradul de craciun, un mic paragraf care ne arata de unde isi are originile.
Bradul de craciun dateaza de pe vremea semiramisei (sau semiramidei) care a spus ca sub aceasta forma s-a intruchipat nimrod (sau ninus) - fiul si sotul sau! - care a fost ridicat si la rangul de zeu-soare (nimrod e cel care a construit babel sau babilon). acesta era sarbatorit in fiecare an pe 25 decembrie!

Dupa unii cercetatori, cuvantul "craciun" este un cuvant de provenienta straina atat la romani, cat si la maghiari, preluat din limba veche a slavilor si era numele zeului Craciun, un zeu sarbatorit la finele anului, un zeu care era considerat ca are putere asupra vietii si a mortii (ca zeul Odin la scandinavi si germani), de unde si numele - "craciunul" dupa numele zeului slav Craciun ca si "saturnalia" dupa numele zeului latin Saturn.
Craciunul a început cu cei ce se închinau soarelui, înca din timpul lui Nimrod, omul care a supravegheat construirea turnului Babel. Cu mii de ani înainte de nasterea lui Isus, paganii din toate tarile sarbatoreau pe 25 decembrie ziua de nastere a unui zeu, numit zeul soare. Semiramis, vaduva lui Nimrod, a fost mama sa. Ea pretindea ca este împarateasa cerului. Ea a avut un fiu care se presupune ca s-a nascut pe 25 decembrie; numele sau era Tamuz
Potrivit cu toate religiile pagane din acel timp, Tamuz a avut parte de o nastere miraculoasa; de-a lungul secolelor ea a fost celebrata cu petreceri, sarbatori salbatice si orgii de betie. Sarbatoarea pagana a zilei de nastere a lui Tamuz, se desfasura chiar dupa exemplul pe care el l-a dat. El a fost cel mai mare iubitor de femei, de bauturi tari, de glume murdare, si de alte distractii senzuale. Se spune ca el iubea pe toata lumea si toata lumea îl iubea pe el. Iar 25 decembrie era ziua cand toate religiile pagane sarbatoreau ziua de nastere a lui Tamuz, zeul soare.
In mitologia persana, exista un zeu, pe nume Mitra, care s-ar fi nascut pe 25 decembrie. Mitra era zeul soarelui invincibil, zeul luminii dintre cer si pamant, proslavit în acea vreme de un cult roman cu mare influenta. Nasterea lui simboliza sfarsitul noptii lungi si reînceperea dominatiei soarelui. În timpul sarbatorilor solistitiului de iarna erau permise homosexualitatea si desfraul necontrolat.
În anul 270 d.Ch. împaratul roman Aurelian a oficializat sarbatoarea, pentru a oferi cadouri în perioada 17-24 decembrie, iar în ziua de 25 decembrie se sarbatorea nasterea zeului soarelui.
Deci craciunul nu poate fi o sarbatoare crestina atata timp cat are radacina mult inaintea Nasterii Domnului Isus.O data cu crestinizarea fortata a popoarelor de catre biserica catolica, pentru a aplana conflictele religioase (care erau si sunt si azi mult mai puternice decat alte conflicte), s-a introdus aceasta sarbatoare a "craciunului" suparpunand sarbatoarea pagana cu asa-zisa nastere a Domnului. Au schimbat numele celui sarbatorit dar au pastrat ritualul si toate celelalte.
Pe 25 decembrie nu doar popoarele care isi aveau radacinile in babilon aveau sarbatoare ci si alte popoare (inclusiv nordice) si care sarbatoreau tot zeul-soare...
Aceasta sarbatoare a fost instituita doar cu scop politico-religios, si nu are nici o baza biblica.A fost introdusa doar pentru a ajuta la unirea religioasa a tuturor bisericilor sub "biserica mama - catolica".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Restoration (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

God’s promises are so great that faith staggers before them. That’s how it was for God’s people in the time of Ezekiel. Jerusalem lay in ruins. Most of the people had fled or died. Those who survived were exiles in Babylon under a regime that had not intention of letting them go.

God’s people knew His promises. But the destruction of evil, the blessing of God on people from all nations, and the joys of the Davidic kingdom seemed like another world from the daily grind of God’s people, who struggled to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.

God gave Ezekiel a vision in which he saw a valley of dry bones. It was a picture that fitted the mood of God’s people who were saying “Our bones are dried up and our hope in gone, we are cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11).

Ezekiel spoke God’s Word to the bones, and as He did, the bones came together. Then they were covered with tendons, flesh and skin. Then God breathed life into the corpses, just as He had breathed life into Adam. God was bringing new life from the grave.

Broad sweep of God’s promise.
- To create people in His image.
- To deliver His people from evil.
- To bring people from every nation into His blessing.
- To reconcile people to Himself through the sacrifice offered for our sins.
- To establish the Kingdom of His Son forever.
- To cause His people to walk in His ways, and now,
- To give new life from the grave.

Those who question the uniqueness of Jesus underestimate the promises of God. Who else could accomplish what God has promised?

God makes promises so great that only God Himself can deliver them. So God took human flesh. The Creator entered His own creation. God came and stood with us, acting for us, to fulfill His own promise. The Word who was with God, and was God, and by whom all things were made, became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:2, 14).

All of God’s promises are sealed with His own ‘Yes’ in Christ Jesus, and you can add your ‘Amen’ with the full confidence that everything God has promised is yours in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20).



Colin Smith, Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church
thegospelcoalition.com

Adelina Halmajan [interviu][external source]

CrestinTotal: Pentru inceput va rugam sa ne spui cate ceva despre tine. de unde esti, unde stai, varsta, familie, scoli, ce vrei tu sa afle lumea…

Adelina: Sunt doar un om, nimic deosebit…un graunte minuscul de nisip, care doreste sa lase ceva in urma aici pe pamant, sa fiu o marturie si o incurajare pentru cei din jurul meu si Tatal meu ceresc sa imi zambeasca cand priveste spre mine!

Sunt Adelina, nascuta in judetul Botosani, copilaria mi-a fost una frumoasa si plina de amintiri senine!


CrestinTotal: Spune-mi putin despre cariera ta muzicala. De cand ai inceput sa canti ?

Adelina: Am inceput sa cant de micuta, de la 6 ani, mi-a placut muzica enorm de mult.Nu am nici o pregatire muzicala, doar mult drag pentru muzica! Visam mereu ca intr-o zi sa am cd-ul meu eram doar un copil cu vise mari, si la varsta de 24 de ani am scos primul cd, impreuna cu sotul meu Mike. Toate melodiile sunt compozitii proprii, trairi si experiente de-a lungul anilor


CrestinTotal: Muzica este ocupatia ta principala sau ai si alte indeletniciri? Cu ce te ocupi?

Adelina: Pe langa muzica, iubesc fotografia, consider ca o poza opreste timpul in loc pentru o clipa. Sunt mamica, am o fetita de 4 anisori , Sarah-Damaris, care eu consider ca imi ocupa tot timpul


CrestinTotal: Poti sa ne spui cateva dintre piesele tale de succes?

Adelina: Toate piesele sunt foarte deosebite si foarte dragi sufletului meu. Unele dintre cele mai de succes, sa spun asa, sunt SUNT AICI, SUFLET GOL, IN AMINTIREA TA, FIU DE REGE, CUNOSC UN LOC.


CrestinTotal: Crezi ca exista suficiente modalitati de promovare a artistilor in Romania?

Adelina: Nu cred ca sunt destule oportunitati de promovare in Romania, mai ales pentru artistii ce nu au sansa de a inregistra intr-un studio profesionist.


CrestinTotal: De ce ai ales America ? de ce nu stai in Romania?

Adelina: Nu am ales America neaparat, locuiesc aici pentru ca toata familia mea este aici


CrestinTotal: Daca ai putea sa-ti alegi o colaborare cu orice artist, care ar fi acela?

Adelina: Daca ar fi sa colaborez cu cineva ar fi Gabi Ilut, persoana pe care o admir enorm de mult si pe muzica careia am crescut



CrestinTotal: Ce procent din muzica ce o asculti este muzica romaneasca?

Adelina: Ascult foarte multa muzica romaneasca, cam 99% este doar romaneasca!


CrestinTotal: Te deranjeaza comentariile negative sau ai invatat sa le ignori?

Adelina: Comentariile negative incerc sa le ignor pentru ca stiu ce a pus Dumnezeu in mine si stiu ca EL e mandru de mine. SI mai importanta e parerea Lui despre mine decat a oamenilor.




CrestinTotal: Daca ai putea sa schimbi ceva pe lume, ce ai schimba si de ce?

Adelina: Daca ar fi sa schimb ceva in lumea asta ar fi gandirea unor oameni. E absolut ridicul poate ca asta imi doresc dar as schimba inimi, as vrea sa fie mai multa intelegere si mai multa dragoste si unitate intre oameni, mai ales crestini.


CrestinTotal: Care este planul de viitor? Exista vreun material nou la care lucrezi, sau ai ceva planificat? Pe cand un videoclip ? sau ai?

Adelina: Planurile mele de viitor sunt in mana lui Dumnezeu, El stie cel mai bine ce va fi cu viata mea, eu merg pe mana Lui, El sa faca tot ce vrea cu mine. Lucrez la un proiect nou care va fi gata anul viitor, cu ajutorul Domnului!



CrestinTotal: Vin Sarbatorile unde iti vei petrece sarbatorile si cu cine?

Adelina: Ah, Sarbatorile, ce mult as vrea sa le petrec in Romania…dar pentru ca nu am posibilitatea de a ma intoarce acum , le voi petrece acasa, cu familia, nimic deosebit.

sursa:crestintotal.ro

[Music Download]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Avalon Reaches #1 for the 22nd Time

Avalon has achieved something that very few artists have garnered in their musical careers. For the 22nd time in the group’s 15-year history, Avalon has reached the #1 spot with their single, “Arise.” The hit song, which is top of the Billboard Soft AC-Inspo chart, is from the group’s current release, REBORN, which hit shelves September 15th (E1 Entertainment).

“We are thrilled our latest single ‘Arise’ is blessing so many people,” exclaims member Janna Long. “What a great reminder of the abundant life God calls us to.”

“Arise” has also been added to over 30 more stations across the nation, including American Family Radio and the FamilyLife Network. It’s been in the top 5 on the Billboard Soft AC-Inspo chart for 12 weeks, and has also charted on the INSPO, Indicator AC and Monitored AC stations.

“All of us at E1 Entertainment join in congratulating Avalon on the #1 single, ‘Arise,’ from their groundbreaking album REBORN,” states Jim Sturgeon, E1 Entertainment. “I want to thank Christian radio for their continued support of Avalon over the past 15 years. Get ready for the new single ‘Alive,’ coming in January.”

Since its release, REBORN has achieved much acclaim, with stellar reviews from outlets such as ChristianMusicToday.com, GospelMusicChannel.com, Soul-Audio.com, and AlphaOmegaNews.org. All Music Guide claimed, “Hands down, Reborn is the best album Avalon has released this decade,” while JesusFreakHideout.com stated, “Avalon is still one of the best in their game.”

Just days after wrapping up their “An Evening with Selah & Avalon,” the group will perform two more concerts – December 12th in Tallahassee, FL and Dec. 13th in Hollywood, FL – before the year’s end. For more tour information, please visit www.Avalonlive.com.

Correction (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

When God’s redeeming work in your life is complete, you will love God with all your heart and you will love your neighbor as yourself. You will reflect God’s glory along with a vast community of redeemed people drawn from every nation in whom His image has been fully restored.

God receives us in our sin, but he never leaves us in our sins. He is relentless in calling us to follow His ways and in correcting us when we depart from them.

After the time of David, there followed a line of kings, some good, but mostly bad. God’s people worshipped other gods, and walked in their ways. God sent prophets who spoke His Word, calling the people to repentance and obedience. Their message was largely ignored, and so God, whose Word never fails, moved to discipline and correct His people.

The land God had given to His people was over-run by their enemies, and God’s people became exiles in Babylon, where they lived under the discipline of God, and wept their way through 70 years of sorrow.

God never abandons His promise, and even in this severe trial, He was advancing His ultimate purpose for His people. God’s plans for His people are always good. He may hurt us but he will never harm us. His wounds are the wounds of a friend, who will not let you go.

Christ came into the world to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). That means more than forgiveness. Salvation is deliverance from sin and all its effects. It means washing sin’s guilt, breaking sin’s power, healing sin’s pain, removing sin’s regret, and finally expelling sin’s presence.

Hope is sustained for the Christian by looking ahead to your joy that will be full when Christ’s saving work is complete. On that day, your sins will not only be covered, they will be gone. Your sorrow over your own sins, and your pain over the sins of others will be erased as God wipes all tears from your eyes.

Sin will be no more — no longer in you, and nowhere to be seen around you. So take heart and be encouraged in your struggle with sin and sorrow today. It will not always be so. In this life, we are sinners even at our best, but we are sinners in whom God is at work by His Spirit restoring the reflection of His image. When you see Christ, you will be like Him. Having this hope, walk in purity today (1 John 3:2, 3).



Colin Smith, Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church

thegospelcoalition.org







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