Sunday, December 24, 2023

Season's Farewell: Leaving Man-Made "Holidays" Behind



"This what the LORD says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. He will be a holy place..." (Isaiah 8:11-14, NIV)


Many of you may be celebrating "Christmas" today. However, upon further inspection of this so-called "holiday", it can be found that this time of year does not represent what we have been told. "Christmas" is nothing more than a pagan celebration that was repackaged to fool the people of God into believing that we are remembering the birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is not the case...

In fact, "Christmas" has its origins in the worship of idols. According to CNN, "The first time the birth of Jesus Christ was attributed to the date December 25th was in the 4th century, according to early Roman history. Early celebrations of Christmas are thought to have derived from Roman and other European festivals that marked the end of the harvest and the winter solstice". During this time, the Roman people would worship two idols, "Saturn" who they referred to as "the god of agriculture" and "Mithra" who was considered the "god of the unconquerable sun". 

As stated by the History Channel, "Beginning the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, "Saturnalia" was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and normal Roman social order was turned upside down." This correlates to the tendency to overindulge during this time of year in food, drink, spending, and more. It appeals to our flesh and not the Spirit of God. Similarly, "Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, on December 25th. It was believed that Mithra, infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birth was the most sacred day of the year". Sound familiar? Well, it should. It was this very story that was used by Pope Julius I to create and promote the "holiday" of "Christmas", which was first called the "Feast of the Nativity".  This was all in the hopes that the day and its customs would be embraced by the masses....and it was!

Unfortunately, this exchange of pagan origins for falsified Godly ones does not stop there. January 1st, widely (and wrongly) accepted as the beginning of the year honors the month's namesake: Janus, "the Roman god of beginnings", whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Hence, the "old man" on "New Year's Eve" and the baby on "New Year Day". Moreover, Easter honors the "resurrection" of Tammuz  the "god of Babylonian" who was brought back to life by his wife Ishtar (pronounced, " Easter"). According to The Restored Church of God, Ishtar or Easter "was the goddess of fertility, worshipped in spring when all life was being renewed. The origin of the Easter egg is based in fertility lore of Indo-European races...The egg to them was a symbol of spring...In Christian times the egg had bestowed upon it a religious interpretation, becoming a symbol of the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged to the new life of His resurrection. This is a direct example of exactly how pagan symbols and customs are 'Christianized', i.e., Christian-sounding names superimposed over pagan customs". Fast forward to today, few know the true origins of these "holidays". A wise evangelist, Deloris Marks, would admonish believers, "If you can't 'Amen', say 'Ouch'! Ouch, indeed!

It does not stop there, if you research the true origins of "Mother's Day", "Father's Day", and "Thanksgiving", you will find the same results: a pagan origin with a "Christian" spin. Let's not even consider "national holidays", which are clearly not related to God in any way. In His Word, God prescribed seven "Holy Festivals" (information found in the Life Application Bible, NIV): 

  • Passover, celebrated on one day (Leviticus 23:5) - reminded the people of Israel of God's deliverance
  • Unleavened Bread, celebrated on seven days (Leviticus 23:6-8) - reminded the people of Israel they were leaving the old life behind and entering a new way of living
  • Firstfruits, celebrated one day (Leviticus 23:9-14) - reminded the people of Israel how God provided for them
  • Pentacost, celebrated on one day (Leviticus 23:15-22) - showed joy and thanksgiving over the bountiful harvest 
  • Trumpets, celebrated in one day (Leviticus 23:23-25) - expressed joy and thanksgiving to God
  • Day of Atonement, celebrated on one day (Leviticus 23:26-32) - restored fellowship with God
  • Tabernacles, celebrated for seven days (Leviticus 23:33-43) - Renewed Israel's commitment to God and trust in his guidance and protection  (often wrongly mistaken as the origin of modern-day "Thanksgiving", which is a holiday created by Sarah Josepha Hale, who was the editor of "Lady's Magazine" and "Godey's Lady's Book")

As you can see, it was God and He alone, who commissioned these days/week of remembrance of Him. As believers, this is what we are to do: seek on what is holy (of God) and not what is common (of the world).  Scripture declares that, "for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession" (Deuteronomy 14:2). As believers, we are to be set apart from the world, and its rituals and traditions, to be an example unto those who have yet to establish and maintain a personal and intimate relationship with God. This cannot be done by following the ways of the world. We have falsely learned that showing our "holiness" is the observance of "holidays" that claim to honor God.  However, holiness is not a day, but a place; and that place is our LORD God Almighty.

Today, instead of worrying about trying to "make 'Christmas' happen" for your family, you are admonished to create and establish a personal and intimate relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ. This is the gift that truly keeps on giving! If you are ready today, pray this prayer unto the LORD:


"Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I come boldly before your throne of grace thanking you and praising you for your love and forgiveness. I recognize that I am a sinner, and because of my sinfulness, I have been separated from you. I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on my behalf to pay the penalty of death for my sins. I thank you and praise you for raising Him from the dead three days later, with all power and glory. Your Word states in John 6:40 that "my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” , so today I confess that Jesus Christ is my LORD and Savior and thank you that I will now live an eternal life with you. I declare that, from this day forward, I am your humble servant, and by your saving work, I am holy. I commit my life, which is my ministry, to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen."

  

By saying this simple prayer, you have embarked upon a new journey. An Illuminated Journey. You are now a disciple of the LORD Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. I encourage you to cultivate your relationship with God by spending time with Him in prayer and quiet time. Read, study, and apply His Word to all aspects of your life and He will will transform your heart, mind, soul, and life.


I look forward to sharing this time with you! God Bless!


Tonya Craft-Perry, M.Ed., M.A.

Founding President & Lead Minister

Illumination Comprehensive Development

 


Monday, June 26, 2023

Focus on the SOURCE and not the Situation

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:35-37, NIV).





Now more than ever, this passage of Scripture rings true. This pandemic season has been one of the most difficult challenges we have faced in recent history; and we may feel overwhelmed and defeated. However, to quote Maya Angelou, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it”. I believe this requires you to focus on your SOURCE and NOT your SITUATION. For context, let’s look at what “source” and “encounter” mean. Your source is a “person, place, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained”. You encounter something when you “meet with or contend against unexpected experiences, difficulties, or opposition”. It denotes the experience of combat or battle. Thus, while in the midst of your encounter, focusing on your SOURCE rather than the SITUATION will ensure that you “know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it” better and stronger than you were before.

Your SOURCE has five main parts: 1) hope, 2) joy, 3) knowledge, 4) strength, and 5) support. Let’s reflect on these five parts. First, your source of hope. What person, place or thing provides you with a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, or even a feeling of trust. While facing a challenge, are you able to see your desired and most beneficial outcome? Second, your source of joy. What person, place, or thing provides you with the feeling of contentment despite your present circumstances? While facing a challenge, are you able to find the “silver lining”? Third, your source of knowledge. What person, place, or thing provides you with accurate and helpful facts, information, and skills? While facing a challenge, are you learning from your experiences and acquiring the tools necessary to tackle the “new normal”? Fourth, your source of strength. What person, place, or thing provides you with the capacity to withstand great force or pressure? While facing a challenge, do you have the stability to bend but not break? Finally, your source of support. What person, place, or thing provides you with the assistance you need to function or act according to what you are called to do? While facing a challenge, do you have a “village” to empower and uphold you?


As believers, our "person" is Jesus Christ, God made manifest in the flesh; our "place" is His comforting omnipresence; and our "thing" is our faith in His saving power. Thus our SOURCE, “person, place, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained”, is God the LORD Almighty. By always focusing on our SOURCE and not our situation, we are able to “encounter your defeats” and overcome them. This all begins with our relationship with God as our LORD and Savior. If you have yet to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and LORD and do not know Him as your SOURCE, I encourage and invite you to pray this prayer of salvation:

"Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I come boldly before your throne of grace thanking you and praising you for your love and forgiveness. I recognize that I am a sinner, and because of my sinfulness, I have been separated from you. I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on my behalf to pay the penalty of death for my sins. I thank you and praise you for raising Him from the dead three days later, with all power and glory. Your Word states in John 6:40 that "my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” , so today I confess that Jesus Christ is my LORD and Savior and thank you that I will now live an eternal life with you. I declare that, from this day forward, I am your humble servant and you are my SOURCE. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen."


By saying this simple prayer, you have embarked upon a new journey. An Illuminated Journey. You are now a disciple of the LORD Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. I encourage you to cultivate your relationship with God by spending time with Him in prayer and quiet time. Read, study, and apply His Word to all aspects of your life and He will will transform your heart, mind, soul, and life.


I look forward to sharing this time with you! God Bless!


Tonya Craft-Perry, M.Ed., M.A.

Founding President & Lead Minister

Illumination Comprehensive Development







Season's Farewell: Leaving Man-Made "Holidays" Behind

"This what the LORD says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: Do not call conspiracy ev...