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The Reason for the Reason  December 16, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Frosty the Snowman asked Rudolph the Reindeer, “Do you think Christmas is too commercialized?”  The Elf on the Shelf interjected, “Is the Pope Catholic?”  Santa put down his milk and cookies and added, “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

As loyal media mavens of 21st Century America pop culture our perceptions of the Christmas season have been shaped as much by George running down the main street of Bedford Falls and Scrooge buying the biggest goose in town as by anything in the Bible.  We spend our time driving the kids around to see the lights, decorating the tree, and shopping with precious little time left to even mention Jesus or the significance of His birth.

Seeking shelter from a crass and crude culture degenerating from indifference to outright hostility to God many of us retreat into a warm and fuzzy Currier and Ives Norman Rockwell bubble of accepted Christmas traditions based more in a Dr. Seuss Disney media than reality.  To ward off the black Friday commercialism that consumes us, we duck behind the “Jesus is the reason for the season,” mantra.  As if this alone was enough to lead us not into temptation.

As we hide behind our little Jesus catch phrase with the pious feelings, even this fleeting mention of the Name of Jesus inspires, and we should ask ourselves how often this spiritual sleight of hand gives us an opportunity to share the reality of Christmas.  Or has it merely become the Christian version of the oft repeated insincerely asked “Hi, how are you?” catch phrase of Xmas?  Is it time we admit this verbal deflection is more about making us feel like we’re doing something to combat the conquest of Christmas by the grasping spirit of conspicuous consumption by making a dent in the cacophony of crass commercialism?

The enemy can’t defeat God.  He cannot overcome God’s plan and he can’t snatch us out of God’s hand.  Just as in the garden when he confused Eve and led her down the primrose path to perdition, the enemy’s power is based on deception.  Afflicted with spiritual ADD most of us careen from one shiny object to the next while falling for fads, trooping after trends and hypnotized by the next new thing.  The accuser of mankind has never missed a church service, and his favorite disguise after an angel of light is the puffed-up rituals, ceremonies, and displays of the sideshow religion he pedals in place of the simple gospel.

Peddled by hucksters who prey upon the potatoes who grow so comfortably on our couches, the glitzy glamour and heartwarming familiarity of cultural Christmas might have more spirituality than a Grinch stealing presents but not nearly as much as Linus sharing biblical truth.

So, the next time we use our “Jesus is the reason for the season” shield to deflect the hooey and hype seeking to drown the most miraculous birth in History let’s prayerfully project the reason more than the season.  Just in case we’ve missed it here’s the reason for the reason:

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

What is Christmas Without Christ? December 18, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized.
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What have Frosty the Snowman, roasting chestnuts, hippos, hula hoops, and barking dogs got to do with Christmas?   

They may bring warmth to our hearts.  They may bring a smile to our lips.  Or they may make us groan.  Whatever they do to each of us what they all have in common is that they’re glued to Christmas like barnacles to the hull of the good ship lollipop.  They’re the accumulated cultural baggage that increasingly obscures the real meaning of a revolutionary blessed event under the camouflage of a socially acceptable winter break. 

The ABCCBSNBCCNNMSNBCPBSNPR Cartel tells us constantly that we now live in a post-Christian America.  They exalt in proclaiming the end of Christ’s dominant influence on Western Civilization.  As a result we’ve descended from a city on a hill to a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.  Our elites call evil good and good evil.   

Ever since the nine black-robed masters of America decreed back in 1962 that God was expelled from school we’ve witnessed the steady degradation of our society.  The coarseness and vulgarity we’re deluged with on a daily basis was unknown in earlier days.  What we call prime time entertainment was once known as pornography.  What were abominations and generally accepted as perversions have become the norm while believing them to be against God’s Word is now considered some type of mental disorder.  The cabal of self-appointed paragons of pomposity that masquerade as educators, politicians, and journalists cap their war against God when they glory in the right of self-interest to sacrifice the lives of the innocent and demand that the government not only endorse it but subsidize it. 

As a natural outgrowth of the city of man’s war against God that defines America’s progressive culture comes the war against Christmas. 

Back in the dream time we used to go to Christmas programs at our children’s schools and listen to the little darlings sing The First Noel, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and O Come O Come Emmanuel.  Now we listen to them sing songs in foreign languages, or do beautiful arrangements of sounds that don’t even have a meaning intermixed with a few songs about winter, snow, or maybe animals.  It may all be PC but it sure doesn’t have anything to do with the reason for the season. 

Just in case all the tinsel and the twinkling lights have blinded us to what that reason is let me elaborate. 

Christmas is all about Jesus the Christ born as a human so that he could bear the sins of the world, die a substitutionary death in our place, rise triumphantly from the grave and ascend into heaven so that we who believe can live in and through Him.  That’s what it’s all about.  Christmas must be linked to Easter to have any meaning.  I’ve met people who never realized that the Jesus in the manger on Christmas was the same Jesus who hung on the cross on Good Friday.  I did not meet them in the jungles of some remote island but in America with a church on every corner.  This is a clear case of Santa with a coke in his hand winning the advertising debate over the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  It may all be PC but it sure doesn’t have anything to do with the reason for the season. 

What is Christmas without Christ?  It’s a worldly hedonistic overly commercialized gift giving/receiving orgasm perpetrated by humanity’s enemy to keep us from knowing that Christ came to set us free, to reconcile us to God, and to make a way for us to live as a new creation in a new creation.   

Not to be Grinch, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Let’s enjoy our family and friends.  Let’s celebrate our traditions as we remember Jesus is the reason for the season.  So let’s wake up and smell the frankincense and myrrh for without Christ in Christmas all we have is “mas.”  

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

Christmas 2017 December 18, 2017

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion.
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In December of 1914 in the first bitter winter of a long bitter war the solders of the German Empire and the soldiers of the British Empire defied the orders of their officers.  They abandoned their hastily dug entrenchments that would soon grow into an elaborate maze of trenches stretching from Switzerland to the English Channel to meet each other in no man’s land. They sang hymns and exchanged gifts in a spontaneous outpouring of the feelings of peace, fellowship, and forgiveness which were then the staples of a Christ centered Christmas season.

In the midst of the War to End War these enemies found peace in the love of their Savior.  Can we at least hope that in the midst of what feels like a terminally divided America if we would take His hand, if we would follow Him maybe we could do the same?

The season for which He is the reason is upon us so let us reflect:

If you drench yourself in the torrent of Christmas movies that bombard us from Thanksgiving till December 25th you see that the spirit of Christmas in emotional America isn’t about the Christ child who came into a lost world to die as a payment for sin and to rise again to bring new life in harmony with God.  It is instead about the sentimental ideal of love and the boy gets the girl or is it the girl gets the boy?  Who knows sometimes they throw in a curve that really builds the suspense.  There are movies about Santa Clause, his sons, his daughters; his elves and wingless angels all of whom help people learn the true meaning of Christmas which is never about Christ and always about family and friends and being nice people.

In our highly commercialized America Christmas is about Black Friday that starts on Thursday then goes for a week and discounts so deep they remind me of the street vendor in Mexico who follows you shouting “I’ll give you 110% off if you buy two!”  The Chia Pets come out along with snuggies, pet rocks, and every other doodad imaginable to buy for people who already have too much.

The mountains of presents which obscenely bury Christmas trees in so many American homes are ripped apart by sugar-high children. Children who get into a frenzy of getting so intense they never have time to appreciate what they get. All they want is to get something else.  The beautiful wrapping paper, the miles of ribbon, and the forests of bows are stuffed the next day unceremoniously into big green garbage bags on their way to landfills.

We hear and see the refrain, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” from those who try to stand against the tide.  If we do or say anything to question the Madison Avenue, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, tinsel, twinkling lights, Santa’s on the roof, and do reindeers really know how to fly presentation of a holiday on steroids we are accused of being a Grinch.

The following sums up the tension between Christmas and Xmas for me:

Shortly after I gave my life to Jesus I was moving to another part of the country and I decided to spend my last Christmas with relatives in the old home place.  When I walked in the door I was greeted by a small committee who knew of my new found devotion with the command, “Don’t ruin Christmas with a bunch of Jesus.”

Sometimes the words of others can express our own feelings as well or better than we can do ourselves.  For me personally of all the contemporary Christian artists which help make my life livable Casting Crowns most closely expresses my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  And although this isn’t technically a Christmas song it gives voice to the faith that for me truly makes Jesus the reason for the season:

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Yeah

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of thieves
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

‘Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost ’cause and I was the outcast
Yeah
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

To make sense of His birth we must look also to His death, His resurrection, and to the fact the He will come again.

Or as Casting Crowns puts it in the remake of a classic:

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

 

So from me to you:  Merry Christmas…oh glorious day indeed.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2017 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

What is Christmas? December 22, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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Yoko Ono and John Lennon, a Buddhist and a who-knows-what Maharishi chasing pop singer who said the “Beatles are bigger than Jesus,” wrote a Christmas song.  It’s a classic.  We hear it every year.  If you really listen to the lyrics it is about a world where everyone gets along, there is no fear, and “war is over, if you want it, war is over now.”  Everyone thinks the title to this much beloved and much played song is “So This Is Christmas.”  Those are really just the first words and part of the refrain.   The title is actually “Happy Christmas (war Is Over),” so it should surprise no one that it wasn’t written as a Christmas song. Instead it was written as an anti-Vietnam War song disguised as a Christmas song. Yet, it’s a classic.  We hear it every year.

This brings me to the question, “What is Christmas”?  I believe it is such a personal thing it can truly only be answered as “What is Christmas to me”?

Is it an arbitrary date instituted by the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor).  The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD during the reign of Constantine.  In 350 AD Pope Julius I declared December 25 the official date and in 529 AD Emperor Justinian declared Christmas a civic holiday.

There is no Biblical evidence to support the date.  Bible History tells us, “Celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the date is not given, not even the time of year. The biblical reference to shepherds tending their flocks at night when they hear the news of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:8) might suggest the spring lambing season; in the cold month of December, on the other hand, sheep might well have been corralled.”

We know it isn’t just a date.  So what is Christmas?

Is it a baptized celebration of the winter solstice? Is it a cultural holiday to celebrate love and family?  Is it all about Frosty and Rudolph and George Bailey?  No, I don’t believe that this is the answer to the question “What is Christmas?” and I know it isn’t the answer to the question, “What is Christmas to me”?

What is Christmas?

Culturally Christmas is more than the sum of all its parts.  It is the public declaration that we are a Christian culture founded upon faith in His declaration, “I am” when he was asked “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”  It is a public declaration that we as a people dedicate ourselves to living as Christ taught us we should no matter how imperfectly we do so.

What is Christmas to me?

It is a time to celebrate the love that Christ has birthed in my heart for friends and family.  It is a time to cherish the traditions which have become Holy through usage and dear through memory.  Above all it is a time to affirm in my heart that Jesus is the only name under heaven by which men must be saved and that Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior.

Christmas is a time to give gifts in memory of the greatest gift of all: Christ the friend of sinners given to a world that did not know Him when He arrived, does not honor Him now, and will not be prepared when He comes again.

The greatest gift I could ever give I give to you. The Bible is the unadulterated Word of God and it does not leave us any doubt about how to be saved.  In the Bible is something called by many the Romans Road.  I followed it years ago, and it changed me forever and gave me a new life.  I pray that it will do the same thing for you.

The Romans Road lays out the plan of salvation through a series of Bible verses from the book of Romans . When arranged in order, these verses form an easy, systematic way of explaining the message of salvation. There are many different versions of Romans Road with slight variations in Scriptures, but the basic message and method is the same. Many evangelical missionaries, evangelists, and lay people memorize and use Romans Road when sharing the good news.

Romans Road Clearly Defines:

  1. Who needs
  2. Why we need salvation.
  3. How God provides salvation.
  4. How we receive salvation.
  5. The results of salvation.

Romans Road to Salvation

Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned.
Romans 3:10-12, and 23
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” … For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)

The price (or consequence) of sin is death.
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death.
Romans 5:8
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)

We receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9-10, and 13
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved … For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NLT)

Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into a relationship of peace with God.
Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (NLT)

Romans 8:1
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

Romans 8:38-39
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

Responding to Romans Road

If you believe Romans Road leads to the path of truth, you can respond by receiving God’s free gift of salvation today. Here’s how to take a personal journey down Romans Road:

  • Admit you are a sinner.
  • Understand, that as a sinner, you deserve death.
  • Believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death.
  • Repent by turning from your old life of sin to a new life in Christ.
  • Receive, through faith in Jesus Christ, his free gift of salvation.

So this is Christmas: The birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God Himself clothed in flesh, the incarnate creator of the universe here to open the way for his creation to be reunited with Him. This makes possible our new birth as a child of God.  It’s open to all.  It’s free.  It is yours for the taking, and you can unwrap this present any day of any year.

Merry Christmas.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

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