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Category Archives: Freedom

Freeing Slaves

choice Freedom Joan Winifred

Am i a slave? (and to my own preferences?)

“Why should my freedom be judged by another person’s conscience?” (1 Corinthians 10:29) Although we have the freedom to make our own choices about our education and our career, we must remember that our freedom has limits and that all our decisions have consequences. That is why Paul said: “All things are permissible, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23; footnote) So even though we have the freedom to make choices in personal matters, what we want is not the most important thing.

Some of us are blinded slaves…people here in the USA are celebrating supposed “freedom” when they don’t even realize/understand/comprehend/apprehend that they are NOT FREE!!…but rather enslaved by “false” religion, materialism/material things/possessions, nationalism, their own bellies/preferences, unhealthy habits (i.e. smoking, over-drinking/eating, addictions of every sort, and sin).  Some are slaves to whims and trends and/or sport(s) or fashion(s)…various forms of entertainment. People slave away for credit card bills and mounting education bills and for various unmerciful, tyrannical bosses of one type of another. People slave for political parties/numerous-flawed-human ideologies.

Yeah, i am a slave…but i’ve chosen to slave for the True God of Freedom…(and of true compassion–Yahweh)…i privately dedicated my life to Him when i was 12…and publicly when i was 16…in 1985.

This past June 29, 2018…marked 33+ years of “Freedom”…of a life dedicated to the True God of Freedom! (This dedication has tremendously impacted my life positively in numerous ways unimagined by a twelve year old girl.)

Similarities of Modern-day USA and Ancient-Roman Empire…

THE early Christians lived in the Roman Empire, where people were very proud of the laws, system of justice, and freedom that they had. Yet, that powerful empire relied on slaves to do most of the hard work. At one point, about 1 out of every 3 people in the Roman Empire was a slave. Certainly, slavery and freedom were important subjects for the common people, including Christians.

Yes, this common girl, as well as most of us appreciate the importance of “freedom” but not all of us make (or have made) the necessary distinction(s) between “relative” and “absolute” or of “real” “true” freedom…from “false” freedom(s)…nor have some of us made courageous choices indicative of these “accurate” understandings.

The apostle Paul often wrote about freedom. But he was not trying to fix this world’s problems, which many people of that time wanted to do. Instead, Paul and his fellow Christians worked hard to teach people the good news of God’s Kingdom and to help them understand how precious the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus was. Paul told his fellow Christians where to find the Source of true freedom. He wrote: “Jehovah is the Spirit, and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.”​—2 Corinthians 3:17. [excerpted readings: Serve Jehovah The God of Freedom w 4/18]

Thinking about Noah & His Family…all humans trace/(our ancestry) back to them…

Think of what Noah and his family did. They lived in a violent and immoral world. But they did not get involved in the goals and activities of the people around them. They chose to stay busy doing the work Jehovah had given them to do. They built the ark, collected food for themselves and the animals, and warned others about the Flood. “Noah did according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) As a result, Noah and his family survived the end of that world.​—Hebrews 11:7.

Using my free will to BUILD UP Others & myself…some past readings…

“All things are lawful; but not all things are advantageous,” noted the apostle Paul. He added: “All things are lawful; but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Paul obviously did not mean that it is lawful to do things that God’s Word expressly condemns. Compared to the some 600 laws given to ancient Israel, there are comparatively few explicit commands regulating Christian life. Hence, many matters are left to individual conscience. A person who has made a dedication to Jehovah enjoys the freedom that results from guidance by God’s spirit. Having made the truth his own, a Christian follows his Bible-trained conscience and relies on God’s direction by holy spirit. This helps the dedicated Christian to determine what will “build up” and be “advantageous” for himself and others. He realizes that the decisions he makes will affect his personal relationship with God, to whom he is dedicated. [Living Up to Christian Dedication in Freedom w ’98]

Choices (based on accuracy (Biblical & other))…that build up and are advantageous (for myself and others)…enable True Freedom!:)

some further context IF needed…

July 4th, 2017: a FREE day??

I want YOU

chikungunya…OUCH!

July 4th, 2018 @ 3:00 p.m.

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Out of Hiding

Freedom insights Joan Winifred

There must be a pellucid distinction made between Absolute Freedom & Relative Freedom. Aka so-called life and REAL life… and not some unattainable feeble fantasy.

Let me preface post by saying: (1) I am Politically Neutral. I do not put my trust nor hope nor vote in humans’ misguided attempts of self-rule. Don’t be deceived: All forms of government by Man are epic fails and mostly an apparatus/a torturous machine of suffering (including Democracy). (Of which history and modern-story LOUDLY/SCREAMINGLY attest!) Neither do I support nor endorse Anarchy.((2) Nor am I endorsing the above-referenced movie. The clip is a teaching tool.)(3) Nor am I endorsing violence as a viable option for attaining so-called “freedom.” (4) Yes, I want You Reader:) to enjoy REAL Freedom… and fight for it spiritually speaking.

It especially takes a brave heart to fight for real freedom… when…
So many people are in the wrong fight and fighting for what results in only (more) senseless suffering and (more) deep disappointment!:(

Okay, so that’s out in the Open. A summation of compounded suffering is the so-called quest for so-called “Freedom”… which in actuality is a mere guise for the pursuit or license to… (you name it)…. aka “selfishness” (in hiding)…

Studied & Recently Read this… may be this excerpt will help You get Your thoughts together about Freedom (which hopefully may help lessen any of Your suffering:))…

“TODAY, there is much talk about equality, liberty, and freedom. People in many parts of the world want to be free from oppression, discrimination, and poverty. Others demand to have freedom of speech, of choice, and of self-determination. To be able to do what one wants to do or to live the way one wants to live seems to be much desired by people everywhere.”

2 How to satisfy those desires, however, is quite another matter. On the social or political level, many resort to protests, demonstrations, revolts, even revolutions. But do such confrontations achieve the desired results? On the contrary, they often lead to tragedies and loss of life. All of this once again testifies to the truthfulness of King Solomon’s inspired observation: “Man has dominated man to his harm.”​—Eccl. 8:9.

3. What can we do to find true happiness and satisfaction?

3 The Christian disciple James pointed out the key to finding true happiness and satisfaction. He wrote: “The one who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and continues in it . . . will be happy in what he does.” (Jas. 1:25) Jehovah, who gave that perfect law, knows best the things humans need in order to be completely happy and satisfied. He gave the first human couple everything that they needed to be happy​—including true freedom.

WHEN HUMANS WERE TRULY FREE

4. What freedom did Adam and Eve enjoy?

4 When reading the first two chapters of Genesis, we can easily see that Adam and Eve enjoyed the kind of freedom that people today can only hope for​—freedom from want, from fear, and from oppression. The first couple’s life was completely free from worries about food, work, sickness, and death. (Gen. 1:27-29; 2:8, 9, 15) Does this mean that the freedom that Adam and Eve enjoyed was absolute? Let us see.

(Us humans… tend toward cockiness… when we actually do something good, are we actually “good?” and when we exercises our “freedoms” in a “free” country, are we actually “free?”)

Freedom: Are You Free?

“If the Son sets you free, you will be truly free.”​—JOHN 8:36.

5. Contrary to what many think, what is needed for people to enjoy freedom?

5 Many today think that to be truly free, they must be able to do anything and everything they want to do, regardless of the consequences. The World Book Encyclopedia defines freedom as “the ability to make choices and to carry them out.” However, it adds: “From a legal point of view, people are free if society imposes no unjust, unnecessary, or unreasonable limits on them.” This implies that, in practice, certain limits are necessary so that everyone in that society can benefit from the freedom granted. The question, then, is: Who has the right to determine what limits are just, necessary, and reasonable?

6. (a) Why does Jehovah alone possess absolute freedom? (b) What sort of freedom can humans enjoy, and why?

6 When it comes to freedom, a key point for us to bear in mind is that Jehovah God alone has what can be called absolute and unlimited freedom. Why? Because he is the Creator of all things and the almighty Sovereign of the universe. (1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 4:11) Recall the beautiful words of King David in describing the unique and lofty position that Jehovah alone occupies. (Read 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12.) Accordingly, all creatures in heaven and on earth have freedom in only a relative sense. They must recognize that Jehovah God has the ultimate authority to impose what he determines to be just, necessary, and reasonable limits. That, in fact, was what Jehovah God did with his human creation right from the beginning.

7. What are some instinctive actions that contribute to one’s happiness?

7 Even though Adam and Eve initially enjoyed freedom in many ways, there were limits imposed on them. Some of them were instinctive, but they were limits nonetheless. For example, our first parents knew that to keep on living, they had to breathe, eat, sleep, and so on. Would they feel a loss of freedom for having to do these things? No, for Jehovah saw to it that even in doing such routine things, they could find enjoyment and contentment. (Ps. 104:14, 15; Eccl. 3:12, 13) Who would not delight in taking an invigorating breath of fresh air, eating his favorite food, or awakening from a restful night of sleep? We happily do these necessary things without any feeling of constraint or burden. Adam and Eve no doubt felt the same.

8. What specific command did God give our first human parents, and for what purpose?

8 Jehovah specifically commanded Adam and Eve to populate the earth and to take care of it. (Gen. 1:28) Did this command in some way deprive them of their freedom? Of course not! It was given to enable humans to participate in their Creator’s purpose​—to make the earth into a global paradise home for a race of perfect humans forever. (Isa. 45:18) Today, it is not against Jehovah’s will for people to choose to be single or to be married but remain childless. Still, by and large, people marry and raise children in spite of the challenges such choices bring. (1 Cor. 7:36-38) Why? Because under normal circumstances, people find happiness and satisfaction in doing so. (Ps. 127:3) Enjoying their marriage and family for all eternity could have been Adam and Eve’s happy lot in life.

HOW TRUE FREEDOM WAS LOST
. Why was God’s command found at Genesis 2:17 not unjust, unnecessary, or unreasonable?

9 Jehovah gave Adam and Eve another command, which included a clear statement of the penalty if violated: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:17) Was this command in any way unjust, unnecessary, or unreasonable? Did it rob Adam and Eve of their freedom? Certainly not. In fact, a number of Bible scholars comment on the logic and good sense of the command. For example, one scholar observes: “The inference of God’s commands in [Genesis 2:16, 17] is that only God knows what is good . . . for humanity and only God knows what is not good . . . for them. To enjoy the ‘good,’ humankind must trust God and obey him. If they disobey, they will be left to decide for themselves what is good . . . and what is not good.” That is a burden that humans could not carry successfully on their own.

Piloting Life… destination? “True” “Relative” “Freedom” 🙂

10. Why should we not equate free will with the right to decide what is good and what is bad?

10 Upon reading Jehovah’s command to Adam, many today would say that Adam was denied the freedom to do what he wanted. In saying so, they are confusing the exercise of one’s free will with the right to decide what is good and what is bad. Adam and Eve did have the freedom to choose whether they would obey God or not. However, only Jehovah has the right to decide in the absolute sense what is good and what is bad, as symbolized by “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” in the garden of Eden. (Gen. 2:9) We have to admit that we do not always know what the outcome of our choices will be; nor do we know whether they will turn out for our good every time. That is why we so often see people make choices or decisions with all good intentions​—only to have them result in suffering, disaster, or tragedy. (Prov. 14:12) Human limitations play a large role. By means of his command, Jehovah lovingly taught Adam and Eve the way to exercise true freedom. How is that so, and did that first couple respond?

11, 12. Why did Adam and Eve’s choice prove to be disastrous? Illustrate.

11 As it turned out, our first parents chose to disobey. Satan’s tempting promise​—“your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad”—​proved to be irresistible for Eve. (Gen. 3:5) Did Adam and Eve’s choice eventually enhance their freedom in any way? Sadly, it did not. Their choice did not bring them what Satan said it would. In fact, they soon learned that rejecting Jehovah’s direction and going their own way resulted in disaster. (Gen. 3:16-19) Why? Simply because Jehovah did not give humans the freedom to determine for themselves what is good and what is bad.​—Read Proverbs 20:24 and footnote; Jeremiah 10:23.

12 This can be illustrated with a pilot flying an airplane. To reach a certain destination safely, he usually must follow a preapproved flight path. Modern aviation equipment allows a pilot to use onboard navigation instruments and to keep in touch with air traffic controllers along the way so as to reach his planned destination. However, if the pilot chose to disregard that guidance and fly any route he desired, the result could be disastrous. Like that pilot, Adam and Eve wanted to do things their own way. They rejected the guidance God had provided. The result? They ended, as it were, in a tragic crash, resulting in sin and death for themselves and for their future offspring. (Rom. 5:12) In striving for self-determination, they lost the true freedom they had been given.

HOW TO GAIN TRUE FREEDOM

13, 14. How can we gain true freedom?

13 People may think that the more freedom they have, the better off they will be, but the reality is that having unbounded freedom is a two-edged sword. True, freedom does bring many benefits; yet, we shudder to imagine what the world would be like if there were no restraints at all. For this reason, The World Book Encyclopedia states: “The laws of every organized society form a complicated pattern of balanced freedoms and restrictions.” “Complicated” is surely the right word. Just think of the volumes and volumes of laws written by man, let alone the armies of lawyers and judges needed to interpret and administer them.

14 In contrast, Jesus Christ pointed out a simple way to enjoy true freedom. He said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Jesus’ direction for gaining true freedom involves two requirements: First, accept the truth that he taught, and second, become his disciple. Doing so will lead to true freedom. But freedom from what? Jesus went on to explain: “Every doer of sin is a slave of sin. . . . If the Son sets you free, you will be truly free.”​—John 8:34, 36. (excerpted “The Way to True Freedom” w 4/18)

Free Will–a gift with instructions–about consequence(s). 🙂 Hey, the last time i checked… found fresh-air breathing, fine food dining (aka healthy eating), peaceful-sleeping and love not war making…enJOY–able.

Be Brave! Be Free…(for real) Reader:)

6/11/18 @ 7:13 p.m.

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Yokes, yoking, and yoked; no joke!

Breathing-Fragile-Life compassion education Freedom healing insights Joan Winifred justice leadership love peace respect stress management things i learned Transformations trust Truth

Peaceful Greetings Reader:) Thank You for taking the time to stop by this blog and read/consume it. Time is a precious investment. (In what/who am i making investments??)

“Make” …build/construct a worthwhile day (span of time to accomplish compassion aka invest in compassion) now!:)

Are You a skilled “tekton”?

Christ’s Carpentry…(my highlighted points of interest; excerpted readings)…

carpenter’s son: The Greek word teʹkton, rendered “carpenter,” is a general term that can refer to any artisan or builder. When it refers to a woodworker, it can mean one who works in the building trade, in the construction of furniture, or in the making of other types of wooden objects. Justin Martyr, of the second century C.E., wrote that Jesus worked “as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes.” Early Bible translations in ancient languages also support the idea of a woodworker. Jesus was known both as “the carpenter’s son” and as “the carpenter.” (Mr 6:3) Evidently, Jesus learned carpentry from his adoptive father, Joseph. Such an apprenticeship would typically have begun when a boy was about 12 to 15 years of age and would stretch over many years. [New World Translation Study Edition, Gems]

From a young age onward…Jesus learned the art of “yokes”…through physical work/labor. (And through spiritual/mental labors.)

To what or to whom am i yoked??

Successful Stress Management…contributes to inward (and outward Peace)/health: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically…here/(inwardly), there(outwardly), everywhere, huh?

Relief from Stress a Practical Remedy w 01…excerpts:
Did you note that in the words quoted from Matthew 11:28, 29, Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Back then, a common man might have felt as though he were working under a yoke. From ancient times, the yoke had been illustrative of slavery or servitude. (Genesis 27:40; Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48) Many of the day laborers whom Jesus met worked with an actual yoke on their shoulders, carrying heavy burdens. Depending on how a yoke was fashioned, it could be easy on the neck and shoulders or it could chafe. As a carpenter, Jesus may have made yokes, and he would have known how to shape one that was “kindly.”Perhaps he lined the contact points with leather or cloth to make the yoke as comfortable as possible.

10 When Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you,” he could have been likening himself to one who provided well-made yokes that would be “kindly” to a workman’s neck and shoulders. Thus, Jesus added: “My load is light.” This signified that the yoke bar was not unpleasant to use, and the work was not slavish either. Granted, by inviting his listeners to accept his yoke, Jesus was not offering immediate relief from all oppressive conditions then current. Still, the change of viewpoint he presented would bring considerable refreshment. Adjustments in their life-style and way of doing things would relieve them too. More to the point, a clear and solid hope would help them find life less stressful.

Refreshment Can Be Yours

11. Why was Jesus not simply suggesting a trading of yokes?

11 Please note, Jesus was not saying that people would trade one yoke for another. Rome would still be in control of the land, just as today’s governments are in control where Christians live. First-century Roman taxation would not go away. Health and economic problems would remain. Imperfection and sin would continue to affect people. Still, refreshment could be theirs by adopting Jesus’ teaching, as it can be ours today.

12, 13. What did Jesus highlight that would bring refreshment, and how did some respond?

12 A key application of Jesus’ illustration of the yoke became apparent regarding the disciple-making work. There is no doubt that Jesus’ main activity was that of teaching others, with the emphasis being on God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 4:23) So when he said, “Take my yoke upon you,” that would certainly have involved following after him in that same activity. The Gospel record shows that Jesus moved sincere men to change their occupation, a major concern in the life of many. Remember his call to Peter, Andrew, James, and John: “Come after me, and I shall cause you to become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:16-20) He demonstrated to those fishermen how satisfying it would be if they did the work that he was putting first in his life, doing so under his guidance and with his help.

[…]
that there is a difference between agreeing with Jesus’ teachings and actively embracing them, thus reducing stress. If you truly want to overcome the effect of too much stress in your life, what is going to help? How can you be affected for the better if you increase your attention to spiritual matters, letting such occupy more of your thoughts? Is there some concern in your life that you need to attach less importance to, allowing for greater attention to spiritual issues? If you do so, it will add to your happiness now.

An observation from my own life experiences…equal/balanced amounts of challenging physical labor and challenging mental/spiritual labor…aka body/mind work or mind/body work…is healthy for me!:) The teachings of the Sermon on the Mount… such as “treat others the way you want to be treated” “freely forgive” “live a simple life and putting spiritual interests first instead of being anxiously consumed by materialism”…”be self-sacrificing vs. self-indulgent”…”love your neighbor as yourself” “Pay Caesar’s things to Caesar and God’s Things to God” “those who take up the sword, perish by the sword” (as well as his example of political neutrality) contribute greatly to joy and peace!! Jesus courageously taught TRUTH!…by living it!! What he taught/lived…healed Others physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually…leading them to a multi-faceted wellness.

I encourage all Readers:) do “Your” own investigative-research on the AMAZING teachings of the Sage of Compassion, Jesus Christ…a great teacher! It’s interesting to note, from my studies, those who knew him well/best, his closest followers…viewed/respected him as a “teacher” vs. a carpenter and as “God’s Son” and NOT as God Almighty/Yahweh/Creator.

What a Great Man and Miracle Worker/Positive Teacher…who selflessly labored/worked tirelessly from youth onward on behalf of Others!!…Healing/helping both bodies and minds by compassionately changing dead-weight burdens to bear into transparent-bijoux to wear with dignity!:)

Positive Transformation, Peace & Transparent-Bijoux to You Reader!!:)

 

3/4/18 @ 2:20 p.m.

 

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When in doubt, Sit it Out! (I do, so I don’t!)

appreciation fake "holy" days Freedom insights Joan Winifred trust Truth

In
&
Out
&….
“upside down”

Personally, Why i don’t play with piñata..s…

THE Christmas season is here. What does that mean to you, your family, and your associates? Is it a spiritual occasion, or is it only a festive and merry period? Is it a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ or not to be concerned about Christian norms?

In considering those questions, bear in mind that Christmas traditions may differ according to where you live. For instance, in Mexico and other Latin-American countries, even the name is different. One encyclopedia points out that the English name Christmas “is derived from the medieval Christes Masse, the Mass of Christ.” However, La Navidad, or the Nativity, as it is called in these Latin-American lands, refers to the nativity, or birth, of Christ. Take a moment to consider some details from Mexico. This may help you to shape your own opinion about this holiday season.

The Posadas, “the Three Wise Men,” and the Nacimiento
The festivities begin on December 16 with the posadas. The book Mexico’s Feasts of Life comments: “It is the time of the posadas, nine magical days leading up to Christmas Eve, which commemorate the lonely wandering of Joseph and Mary in the city of Bethlehem and the moment when they at last found kindness and shelter. Families and friends gather together nightly to reenact the days preceding the birth of Christ.”

Traditionally, a group of people carries images of Mary and Joseph to a home and in song asks for shelter, or posada. Those in the house sing in reply until the visitors are finally given admittance. Then begins a party, where some—blindfolded and with a stick in hand—take turns trying to break the piñata, a large decorated earthenware pot that hangs from a cord. Once broken, its contents (candy, fruit, and the like) are gathered by the celebrants. This is followed by food, drinks, music, and dancing. Eight posada parties are held from December 16 through December 23. On the 24th, Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) is celebrated, and families make an effort to be together for a special dinner.

Before long comes New Year’s Day, celebrated with very noisy parties. On the evening of January 5, the Tres Reyes Magos (“three wise men”) are supposed to bring toys for the children. The climax is a party on January 6, when a rosca de Reyes (ring-shaped cake) is served. As this pastry is eaten, somebody will find in his piece a little doll representing the baby Jesus. The finder is obliged to organize and host a final party on February 2. (In some places there are three little dolls, representing “the three wise men.”) As you can see, the partying in connection with Christmas goes on and on.

Concerning the Christmas celebration as it is generally known all over the world, The Encyclopedia Americana says: “Most of the customs now associated with Christmas were not originally Christmas customs but rather were pre-Christian and non-Christian customs taken up by the Christian church. Saturnalia, a Roman feast celebrated in mid-December, provided the model for many of the merry-making customs of Christmas. From this celebration, for example, were derived the elaborate feasting, the giving of gifts, and the burning of candles.”

In Latin America, those basic Nativity customs may be followed, along with additional ones. ‘From what source,’ you might wonder. Frankly, many who want to adhere to the Bible recognize that some customs are nothing but Aztec rites. El Universal, a newspaper in Mexico City, commented: “Friars from different orders took advantage of the fact that festivities of the Indian ritual calendar coincided with the Catholic liturgical calendar, so they used this to support their evangelizing and missionary work. They replaced the commemorations to the pre-Hispanic divinities with festivities to Christian divinities, introduced European festivities and activities, and also took advantage of the Indian festivities, which resulted in a cultural syncretism from which authentically Mexican expressions have arisen.”

The Encyclopedia Americana explains: “Nativity plays early became a part of the Christmas celebration . . . The representation in church of the crèche [the manger scene] is said to have been begun by Saint Francis.” These plays featuring the birth of Christ were performed in the churches during the beginning of the colonization of Mexico. They were organized by Franciscan monks in order to teach the Indians about the Nativity. Later the posadas became more popular. Whatever the original intention behind them, the way the posadas are held today speaks for itself. If you are in Mexico during this season, you can see or sense something that a writer for El Universal highlighted in his comment: “The posadas, which were a way to remind us of the pilgrimage of Jesus’ parents looking for a shelter where the Child God could be born, are today only days of drunkenness, excesses, gluttony, vanities, and more and more crime.”

In Latin America, the three wise men replace the idea of Santa Claus. Still, as is done in other lands, many parents hide toys in the home. Then on the morning of January 6, the children look for them, as if the three wise men brought them. This is a money-making time for toy sellers, and some have made a fortune on what many honesthearted people recognize is just a fantasy. The myth of the three wise men is losing credibility among a goodly number, even among little children. Though some are displeased that this myth is losing believers, what can anyone expect of a fantasy maintained only for the sake of tradition and for commercial convenience?

Christmas, or the Nativity, was not celebrated by early Christians. One encyclopedia says about this: “The celebration was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth.” The Bible links the celebration of birthdays with pagans, not with God’s true worshipers.—Matthew 14:6-10.

This does not, of course, mean that it is not beneficial to learn and remember the actual events involved in the birth of the Son of God. The factual Bible account provides important insights and lessons for all those who want to do God’s will. [excerpted: Christian Customs: Are They Christian? w 00]

“RELIABLE” information… aka “accurate” (aka Truth)… is very useful in making sound aka wise decisions. What about the Gospel Accounts?… aka “good news” accounts of Jesus… aka Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…

There are benefits to having these separate accounts of what Jesus said and did. To illustrate, imagine that four men are standing near a famous teacher. The man standing in front of the teacher has a tax office. The one on the right is a physician. The man listening from the left side is a fisherman and is the teacher’s very close friend. And the fourth man, located at the back, is an observer who is younger than the others. All four are honest men, and each has a distinct interest or focus. If each writes an account of the teacher’s sayings and activities, the four records would likely feature different details or events. By considering all four accounts, bearing in mind the varying perspectives or objectives, we could get a complete picture of what the teacher said and did. This illustrates how we can benefit from having four separate accounts of the life of the Great Teacher, Jesus.

Continuing the illustration, the tax man wants to appeal to people of a Jewish background, so he groups some teachings or events in a way to help that primary audience. The physician highlights the healing of the sick or crippled, so he omits some things that the tax man recorded or presents them in a different order. The close friend emphasizes the teacher’s feelings and qualities. The younger man’s account is briefer, more succinct. Still, each man’s account is accurate. This well illustrates how having all four accounts of Jesus’ life enriches our understanding of his activities, teachings, and personality.

People may speak of ‘the Gospel of Matthew’ or ‘John’s Gospel.’ That is not inaccurate, for each contains “good news about Jesus Christ.” (Mark 1:1) However, in a larger sense, there is but one overall gospel, or good news, about Jesus—available to us in the four records. [excerpted: Why Four Gospels, The Way, The Truth, and The Life]

The Astrologers…

Matthew’s account mentions that astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the place where the King of the Jews was born. King Herod was very interested in this—but not with good intentions. “Sending them to Bethlehem, he said: ‘Go make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found it report back to me, that I too may go and do it obeisance.’” The astrologers found the young child and “opened their treasures and presented it with gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” But they did not go back to Herod. “They were given divine warning in a dream not to return to Herod.” God used an angel to warn Joseph of Herod’s intentions. Joseph and Mary then fled to Egypt with their son. Next, in an effort to eliminate the new King, cruel King Herod ordered the killing of boys in the Bethlehem area. Which boys? Those two years of age and under.— Matthew 2:1-16.

What Can We Learn From the Account?

The visiting astrologers—however many of them there were—did not worship the true God. The Bible version La Nueva Biblia Latinoamérica (1989 Edition) states in a footnote: “The Magi were not kings, but fortune-tellers and priests of a pagan religion.” They came in line with their knowledge of the stars to which they were devoted. Had God wanted to guide them to the young child, they would have been led to the exact place without needing to go first to Jerusalem and to Herod’s palace. Later on, God did intervene to alter their course to protect the child.

At Christmastime this account is often surrounded by a mythical and romantic atmosphere that obscures the most important thing: that this baby was born to be a magnificent King, as was announced to Mary and to the shepherds. No, Jesus Christ is not a baby anymore, or even a child. He is the ruling King of God’s Kingdom, which very soon will eliminate all rulerships opposed to God’s will, and he will solve all problems of mankind. That is the Kingdom we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer.—Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:9, 10.

Through the angels’ declaration to the shepherds, we learn that the opportunity for salvation is open to all who are willing to hear the message of the good news. Those who gain the favor of God become “men of goodwill.” There are marvelous prospects for peace in all the world under the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, but people must be willing to do God’s will. Is the Christmas season conducive to this, and does it reflect that desire? Many sincere people who want to follow the Bible feel that the answer is obvious.— Luke 2:10, 11, 14. [excerpted: Christian Customs: Are They Christian? w 00]

More reliable information about piñata…article:

The Piñata—An Ancient Tradition

BY AWAKE! WRITER IN MEXICO 2003

THE neighborhood children are having a fiesta. We can hear their excited voices crying out: “Dale! Dale! Dale!” (Hit it! Hit it! Hit it!) We peer over into the patio and observe a gaily decorated papier-mâché burro suspended between two trees. A blindfolded child is striking out at the burro with a stick, attempting to break it. The guests are shouting encouragement. At last, the burro bursts open, and candy, fruit, and toys spill out. Amid much laughter, all scramble to pick up the treats. It looks like fun. We are told that the burro is called a piñata and that breaking a piñata at fiestas is a tradition here in Mexico and some other Latin-American countries.

A widespread opinion is that the Chinese may have been the first to use something like a piñata as part of their New Year’s celebration, which also marked the beginning of spring. They made figures of cows, oxen, and buffalo, covering them with colored paper and filling them with five kinds of seeds. Colored sticks were used to break the figures open. The decorative paper that covered the figures was burned and the ashes gathered and kept for good luck during the coming year.

It is thought that in the 13th century, Venetian traveler Marco Polo took the “piñata” back with him from China to Italy. There, it acquired its present name from the Italian word pignatta, or fragile pot, and came to be filled with trinkets, jewelry, or candy instead of seeds. The tradition then spread to Spain. Breaking the piñata became a custom on the first Sunday of Lent.* It seems that at the beginning of the 16th century, Spanish missionaries brought the piñata to Mexico.

However, the missionaries may have been surprised (as we were) to find that the native people of Mexico already had a similar tradition. The Aztecs celebrated the birthday of Huitzilopochtli, their god of the sun and war, by placing a clay pot on a pole in his temple at the end of the year. The pot was adorned with colorful feathers and filled with tiny treasures. It was then broken with a stick, and the treasures that spilled out became an offering to the god’s image. The Maya also played a game in which blindfolded participants hit a clay pot suspended by a string.

As part of their strategy to evangelize the Indians, the Spanish missionaries ingeniously made use of the piñata to symbolize, among other things, the Christian’s struggle to conquer the Devil and sin. The traditional piñata was a clay pot covered with colored paper and given a star shape with seven tasseled points. These points were said to represent the seven deadly sins: greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath, and lust. Striking the piñata while blindfolded represented blind faith and willpower overcoming temptation or evil. The treats inside the piñata were the reward.

Later, the piñata became part of the festivities of the posadas* during the Christmas season and continues as such to this day. (A star-shaped piñata is used to represent the star that guided the astrologers to Bethlehem.) Breaking the piñata is also considered indispensable at birthday parties. Indeed, piñatas have become so traditionally Mexican that Mexico even exports them to other countries.

We found that for many people in Mexico, the piñata has lost its religious significance and is considered by most to be just harmless fun. In fact, piñatas are used in Mexico on many festive occasions, not just for the posadas or for birthdays. And piñatas can be purchased in many forms other than the traditional star shape. They are sometimes made to resemble animals, flowers, clowns.

When considering whether to include a piñata at a social gathering, Christians should be sensitive to the consciences of others. (1Corinthians 10:31-33) A main concern is, not what the practice meant hundreds of years ago, but how it is viewed today in your area. Understandably, opinions may vary from one place to another. Hence, it is wise to avoid turning such matters into big issues. The Bible says: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1Corinthians 10:24.

*In some religions, such as Catholicism, Lent is the 40-day period of penance that culminates in Holy Week celebrations at Easter time.

In Mexico the posadas is a nine-day celebration prior to Christmas, enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for posada, or lodging. A piñata is broken as the culmination of the festivities on each of the nine nights.

12/25/17 @ 11:52 a.m.

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