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Max Lucado
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As promised yesterday, today we will see how this holiday came into being and its pagan roots.
Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 313 A.D. (fourth century A.D.) resulted in his decree that Christianity would now be the official religion of the Roman Empire. He called the prominent leaders of the faith to a council in 325 A.D. at Nicaea (present day Turkey). It was here that church doctrine was uniformly set forth and all other doctrines declared as heresy. It concentrated religious power and authority in the Roman Catholic Church.
Constantine faced a problem with Roman society. Most people were still pagans. Their highest holiday celebration of the year was at the Winter Solstice. No work of any kind was to be done on that day. Normal social activities ceased in favor of special celebratory activities.
Constantine’s solution was to create a holiday for Christians to be celebrated at that same time in order to avoid conflict and keep the peace. December 25th was the winter solstice on the Julian calendar used by Rome, not December 21st as on our Gregorian calendar instituted more than 1,000 years later. When the Catholic Church switched to the Gregorian calendar, they kept December 25th still as Christmas as it had been established for over twelve centuries. The name “Christmas” was condensed from “Christ Mass,” the church mass in honor of Christ’s birth. In 336 A.D. Christmas was officially declared as December 25th
What exactly was the pagan holiday that prompted the creation of Christmas? How was it celebrated? Were any of its features incorporated into our Christmas celebration? 
The pagans had a week-long celebration that culminated on December 25th in honor of the Roman god Saturn, their God of time and agriculture. It was called Saturnalia. All work ceased. Businesses, schools, and courts closed. Normal social patterns were suspended. The people decorated their homes with wreaths and other greenery. Evergreens were used to decorate the temples. They dressed colorfully. Wax taper candles were used to signify the light returning following the darker days of winter. It was a time of merriment with gaming, singing, music, feasting, socializing, and exchanging gifts. It was the jolliest time of the year above all other holidays. The poet Catullus described it as “the best of times.” It was also around the time period (4th century A.D.) that a brand-new Temple of Saturn was built to replace the older temple.
Does any of this sound somewhat like the way Christmas is celebrated? Wreaths? Greenery? Evergreen Trees? Candles (or tree lights)? Singing (carols)? Music (Christmas songs)? Feasting (special foods, family dinners)? Socializing (gathering)? Exchanging gifts? A “jolly” time? Those were all features of Saturnalia that are now incorporated into the typical celebrations of Christmas.
The one true reason to celebrate Christmas on the 25th is to commemorate the birth of Messiah, the Anointed One sent by Almighty God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the only begotten of God. I do not denigrate the other celebratory features of our holiday. I see no harm in it as long as we keep Jesus Christ at the center of it. Millions do not do that; they only see the features borrowed from Saturnalia. That is sad. 
I celebrate Jesus, God’s gift to the world. It was His love gift.

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God in his great creativity designed the world to have four seasons. I grew up in Michigan, where winter could be a difficult and hard season. I remember blizzards that came, and snow drifted up to the middle of telephone poles. I remember highways being shut down because of the snow and the wind. The frost would form on our windows as children because we did not have double-paned glass. Yet even in the frost on the glass there was a display of creativity. They were like diamonds sparkling as the sun shone through. Each snowflake that fell was unique. Did you know that no two are identical? What creativity!
Then came the first signs of spring. The snow would melt, and you would see the signs of spring flowers come up. There were daffodils and lilies of the valley that would grace the edge of our yard. Sometimes a late season snow would cover them momentarily, but there was always the smell of spring in the air. With spring came new life and newness to the earth. The hardness of winter would leave, and the ground was ready for new seed to be sown. Such creativity!
Spring would give way to summer, where the sun warmed our little tourist town and Lake Michigan. We thought the water was warm when it finally hit 70o . The youth would take to the lake and the playground was full of laughter and frolicking. It was indeed my favorite time of year. The city had a mile long breakwall that held our “lighthouse” that we display in this newsletter daily. There was daily fishing and swimming off that breakwall. Life was slow and easy, and life was good growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Such creativity God brought with summer!
Then the fall came with the rainbow of colors in the trees. Days grew shorter and we knew there were only weeks before winter came again. There were bonfires and hayrides. There was a harvest festival, and there was school. God’s colorful palette of creativity was painted for weeks on end.   Then the first snow fell, and we knew it would be a long winter, usually from late October through the end of March or early April.
It tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 about seasons also. 1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak: 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”  

You see, my friend, there will always be seasons. Whatever season you are in, know the Creator Himself, is there with you. He knows the seasons because He created them. He will see you through to the next season. Never doubt that He is there with you. He will get you through! 

The Seven Prayer Mountains
For those of you that missed Russell's excellent series on the Seven Prayer Mountains click the link below to read them all on our website. It is under the Title "The Seven Prayer Mountains". It lists all 11 of the articles which you can read individually


The Trail to Trouble
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Sunday - 12-20-2020 -----CHURCH ON THE NET

Laying the Foundation - the Principles to build your Christian life on Part 1
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The Fall of Babylon
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From our Ministry School
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The Doctrine of Laying of Hands

Signs you are walking in the Spirit
The Coronavirus origin and the cover-up
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How do I get saved?

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A little Inspiration

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers

Did you feel it my child? Did you feel it? That gentle breeze that touched your lips was me passing by with comfort and love. Did you see it? Did you see it my child? When that butterfly crossed your path, it was me bringing encouragement. Did you hear it? Did you hear it my child? When the sound of the trumpet shall call, it will be me my child, calling you up to be with me in glory. 

I am here, as I always have been. I am guiding you and leading you into paths of refreshment for in this secret place I am bringing restoration to you. Oh yes, my child, it is here. For there are many that are very dry in the spirit and they need refreshing. They long for my touch and I have touched them, but they did not sense it was me. They longed for encouragement and I gave it,  but they did not sense it was me. Never forget that I am with you. I am leading and guiding even in the small gifts that I send your way. Do you not know my child? Do you not know that it is I that has penetrated the darkness that longs to overtake you? It is I that sends the wisp of light to overtake the darkness. I am the one that has been there, and I am the one that will continue to be here for you. Just trust me and come to me and lay your head on my shoulder and let your Abba embrace you with the love that only a heavenly Father can give. Come see and hear and come be touched my child for I have much to show you. I long to spend this time with you for you are my beloved, and I am yours saith the Lord.

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For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
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