Monday, December 28, 2009

Enjoy the Blessings of Winter

As someone living in Florida,  I have no concept of cold, snowy, winters.  Every once in a while we get a "freeze" here of 32 degrees, where we wake up to find our car windshields frozen with ice, and some frosted windows in the early mornings, which all soon melt away with daylight.  Winters however do have its special joys for which we can thank God for.  Firstly, it brings relief from the oppressive heat of summer.  Summers down here are no fun for the uninitiated.  The heat and humidity can be quite unbearable for folks who are not used to high humdity, and yes, air conditioning is therefore a must.  Without air conditioning, life here would be quite intolerable.  I have heard it said that Florida owes its development to the advent of air conditioning, for without it, no one would ever think of relocating here.  I  tend to believe that!

Another blessing of winter are the plants that bloom only at this time of year.  I especially look forward to the poinsettia plants.  These are actually leafy plants, with red leaf-life flowers (I am not sure if it is a real flower or just leaves that have changed color).  We also have pine trees here, and one of my favorite activities is to collect pine cones, and use them as decorations for the home.  The next joy we have are all the imported evergreen trees (from out of state) that we purchase as Christmas trees.  I just love the scent of a real tree.  It gives the home such a nice smell.  I do decorate the tree, but very sparsely with ornaments, as I do no want to hide the beauty of the tree itself with too many ornaments.

Special foods are another treat of winter.  Because the cold months discourage food production/planting, much of the traditional foods of winter are preserved food!  Here in South Florida we eat rum cake and dried fruit, and drink apple cider.  Other preserved foods such as sorrel drink is a  traditional Caribbean drink here.  Hot drinks are also very popular, as it is everywhere in the country.  Hot coffee and hot chocolate are the most favorite, but our coffee may come from a variety of places such as Brazil, Colombia, or Jamaica. 

All this eating however can easily cause one to overeat, which reminds me that winter here is a good time to exercise. The freshness and coolness of the air makes it really enjoyable to exercise outdoors.  It is a time to get  out the house, and explore the landscape, and enjoy the wonderful world God has created.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Many of us are familiar with this traditional Christmas song, yet many of us are unaware of its significance to the church.  In his essay, Dennis Bratcher explains the tradition of the twelve days of Christmas as it relates to the church.  In the Western church, the twelve days of Christmas begins on Christmas day (December 25), and ends on January 5, the day before Epiphany (January 6).  In some cultures, the twelve days are counted from December 26 and ends on January 6 to include Epiphany.  Regardless of how the twelve days are counted, the fact remains that Christmas was celebrated as a season, and not just one day.

As a Spiritual teacher within the Christian faith, I have great admiration for traditions that honor our Lord -  Jesus Christ; however, since my spiritual beliefs tend to be more nature-based than church-dictated, I prefer to start counting the twelve days of Christmas from December 21 (the winter solstice) and end it on January 1 (New Years day).  The reason why I start on December 21 and not on December 25 is because I want to honor the God of winter - Jesus Christ- for bringing an end to the lengthening nights, and for the gradually increasing daylight throughout the winter months.  I end the celebration on January 1, to give thanks for the new year which has started.

 Biblically speaking, the new year really does not start on January 1, as January 1st , as the start of the new year, is a construct of the Roman/Gregorian calendar. The natural new year of nature, starts in the spring, which is the time when the earth is renewed and revived from the sleep and death of winter.  The astronomical event - the vernal equinox- marks the beginning of Spring, and the start of the natural year and the religious calendar of the Bible.  In the fall, another new year is celebrated and recognized by the Bible as well.  The new year celebrations of the fall season, which was known as the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible, but is now called Rosh Hashanah by modern-day Jews, marks the beginning of the Biblical civil new year, and occurs around the time of the atumunal equinox, and the sighting of the new moon.    I however also celebrate January 1 as the new year because we are following the Gregorian calendar, which is what we are using to count time in our secular world.  Alas! I now have three calendars to keep abreast with - the Hebrew civil calendar, the Hebrew religious calendar/natural year calendar, and the Roman/Gregorian calendar!  How do I keep it all together?  It is not as hard as some may believe.  The Hebrew religious calendar follows the natural cycle of the seasons of the year.  It is based upon the natural cycles of the sun and moon in the counting of days, months, and years.  The Hebrew civil calendar starts on the seventh month of the religious/natural calendar, and coincides with the religious celebration called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible, or Rosh Hashanah by modern Jews.  After that day, I am no more concerned about the Hebrew civil calendar until the next Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashannah, when the Biblical civil year starts all over again.  The reason I am not concerned about the Hebrew civil calendar for the rest of the year is because it is not used for any civil purposes within our society.  It was used by the Jews back then to mark time, but even for the Jews, the religious holy days and feast days were based upon the natural year/religious calendar.  For my daily secular activities, I follow the Gregorian calendar, because that is what our society uses, and if I want to keep abreast of what is going on in our world, then I would be in peril to ignore it.

So, enjoy the twelve days of Christmas, any way you choose to celebrate them, as long as God is honored.  Let there be peace on earth and goodwill to all men.  Let us not just limit Christmas to a day, or even to a season, but let the hope, peace, and love of Christmas spread out throughout the coming year.

Happy Kwanza!  Happy holidays!  Merry Christmas!  Happy New year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice and Christmas

Today is December 21, and is the official start of winter, and the day when the winter solstice occurs.  The winter solistice is an astronomical event where the sun is at its lowest point relative to the earth, and in the northern hemisphere, the day of the winter solistice is the shortest day/longest night.  This event marks the beginning of winter. 

Around the world, cultures observe and celebrate the winter solstice, and give thanks for the year that is ending, with various rituals and celebrations, some of which are considered pagan.  In our Christian culture, the winter solstice is celebrated by observing the birth of Christ.  What better and more fitting way to give honor to God, than by worshipping and celebrating the birth of the one who created the winter solstice.  The winter solstice is God's ongoing promise to us that the seasons will never end.  As long as the earth remains, we will always have spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Genesis 8:22).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Man and Climate Change

It was only just last week that the discussions on climate change began in Copenhagen by world leaders, in order to curb global warming and the supposed climate change that will result, if global warming is not curbed.  Now I know this is a very touchy subject with strong feelings on both sides of the debate.  There are those who deny global warming and its impact on our planet, and there are those who acknowledge global warming, and see it as a threat to the balance of life on this planet, and its potential impact on climate.  In this blog post, I am going to give a spiritual viewpoint on global warming and climate change and really show that yes, we should be concerned about global warming, but not climate change.  Sounds contradictory?  Well continue reading to find out more.

Climate is a result of a complex set of conditions that governs our atmospheric temperature, humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure, wind factor and so on.  It depends upon our relative position from the sun and moon, the tilt of the earth of its axis, the rotation of the earth on its axis, the rotation of the earth around the sun, the rotation of the moon around the earth, longitudes and lattitudes, ocean currents/flows, and climate zones.  In our northern hemisphere, we experience a temperate climate which consists of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, each of which brings different types of weather and atmospheric conditions.  None of these seasons are in any way under the control of man.  There is nothing that we can do to stop spring, summer, autumn or winter from occuring.  Nothing!  No amount of carbon pollutants and toxic environmental pollutants can change the seasons or the climates.  Precipitation, such as rain or snow is not dependent on how many trees there are, but on the ocean.  That vast body of water, the ocean, is the major reserve of all of earth's water supply, as well as underground streams and polar caps.  Yes, melting of the polar caps can potentially cause sea levels to rise, but the polar caps will not totally melt away, because of the position of the arctic and antaractic poles relative to the sun, and the tilt of the earth on its axis.  Polar caps go through this cycle of melting and refreezing year after year after year.  In summer, when it is hotter, the ice melts but not totally, and in winter the water freezes and there is more ice overall. 

During the time of Noah's flood the earth was covered with water, but where did all that water come from?  In Genesis 7:11 it says, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."  The waters came from the fountains of the ocean (the great deep) and  from rain! Apparently, there are reserve storehouses of water beneath the earth separate from the ocean itself.   This we know to be true because below the earth are myriads of underground fountains and rivers.  Look, even here in Florida, in our state, we are floating on massive channels of underground water.  That is why there are so many lakes here, and if you dig far enough, you will find water.  One of the laws in Florida is that no one should build a swimming pool deeper than six feet, because below that there is no ground, but only water.  The natural law of rivers and oceans tell us the same thing.  Rivers spring from underground sources/fountains, but always return back the sea/ocean, completing the cycle. It was the same in Noah's day.  After the earth was flooded by water from the underground springs and rain, the water returned back to its rightful place again.  The underground springs received back its water, and the rain water evaporated off the ground and returned to the atmosphere and the oceans - all kept in store, never to flood the earth again.  That is God's promise - that He will never destroy the earth again with water, and He has been keeping that promise all along since the time of Noah, and continues to keep that promise even today (Genesis 9:11).  Everytime we see a rainbow in the sky, it is God's reminder to us that the earth will never be destroyed by a worldwide flood (vs. 13-14).

So now, since man is incapable of changing the climate, shall we then not be concerned about the environment and taking care of the earth?  God forbid.  This planet is God's gift to us, and we are called to be stewards of this planet, and take care of it.  The toxic pollutants/chemicals and greenhouse gases, while they do not change the climate, do destroy the purity of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and food we eat.  The cutting down of trees in forested areas destroy the delicate balance of the eco-system, and leaves the ground bare and unprotected from erosion.  This can affect the quantity and quality of natural resources available to us on earth for our use, and food production.  If we continue to destroy the earth, the earth might not be able to give to us of its resources.  A judgment is coming upon those who use and abuse the earth in a careless manner.  In Revelation 11:18 it says:

 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

So yes, while pollutants cannot change our climate, they can destroy the beauty and health of this planet, and make living conditions unbearable.  How would you like to live in a world of acid rain, polluted streams, barren lands, and smog-filled air?  That is where we are heading for if we do not do something to protect this planet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climate Change

Lots of theories, speculation, and misconceptions surround the issue of climate change.  I think it was last week that major world leaders met in Copehagen to discuss global warming and climate change.  I do not have time now to delve into the details of that discussion, but I want to give a spiritual view of the whole matter of climate change.  It is going to be real interesting.  Just give me a few more days, as I am busy preparing for Christmas, and looking forward to the winter Solstice.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger Scandal May Put a Damper on Dating

The ongoing Tiger Wood scandal in my opinion will have major repercussions on the dating scene. For one, when men see the downfall of Tiger due to his cheating, many men will rethink cheating on their wives, for fear of their lives being destroyed.  I mean, many men have a 'good thing" going on at home, and some do not even appreciate it or value it.  They are always searching for more, and never satisfied with what they have.  If there is any good that will come out of this Tiger Wood  scandal, then it will be that men will learn how to appreciate their wives at home more.

Hey guys!  You are married to the woman.  Spend some time building that relationship and make it the best relationship there is.  If you are a born-again Christian man, then there should be NO PLACE FOR HATE in your heart.  Do not even entertain the thought that you do not love your wife.   God is love, and he who hates his brother, or wife does not have the love of God in him.  How can you say that you love God, whom you have not seen, but do not love your wife, whom you can see?   If you say you love God, and do not love your wife, then you make yourself a liar, and have betrayed the faith.    Practice sacred Biblical sexuality with your wife, and reap the rewards - deepening love and fidelity, and a sacred bond of love that will last for all eternity.

P.S.  Marriage does not last forever "until death do we part" but love lasts forever.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why Do Men Cheat?

 1My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
 2That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
 3For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
 4But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
 5Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
 6Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.
 7Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.
 8Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:
 9Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel:
 10Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;
 11And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,
 12And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
 13And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!
 14I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.
 15Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
 16Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
 17Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.
 18Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
 19Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
 20And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
 21For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.
 22His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
 23He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. (Proverbs 5, King James Version)

The ongoing Tiger Woods scandal has got us talking again about adultery, marriage, and money, and asking the age-old question: Why do people cheat on their spouses?

I cannot help but feel bad for Tiger and his wife, and I am sure they are both going through a rough time right now.  I do not know why he cheated, or if there is a really a real reason  for cheating, except for lust.  Oh yes, that four-letter word called lust, which is the root of all our sin problems.  Lust, by definition, is an evil desire, or a desire for something you ought not to have.  Apparently, Tiger's lust got the better of him, and he not only desired what he ought not to have, but also indulged in what he ought not to have.  I tell you, when lust gets a hold upon you, it is very hard to resist.  Sometimes the only way out of the hold of lust, is prayer, for the desires of lust can be extremely strong, and can hold you captive.  Now I am not making any excuses for Tiger, but I am just showing how lust, when played out, can lead to devastating results.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was writing extensively on sacred Biblical sexuality.  Some people probably thought it was inappropriate, but what has happened to Tiger has proved to me, more than ever, the importance of sacred Biblical sexuality.  In sacred sex, each person in the union is held as special, and everything is done as a way of honoring the body, soul, and spirit of your mate.  When one holds such a high regard for one's mate, there will be little to no opportunituy for lust to find a place in your marriage.