Why I Love Christmas!

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by Bob Pappas, USMC (Ret.) ©2012, blogging at Gulf1

(Dec. 23, 2012) — It is my understanding and is factually accurate that some people “hate” Christmas…or at least don’t like the time of year. Not me… I love it, everything about it. Christmas is magnificent, uplifting, glorious…I laugh and cry at the same time because it so exhilarating. In a word it is: wonderful! Full of Wonder!

I’m not naive…we all know there is hatred, war and pain in the world, just call to mind the dear folks at Newtown; God bless and comfort them. All right thinking people mourn their loss; but we celebrate a Savior, whose name is Jesus, Christ the Lord.  He is opposite of and the antidote for the pervasive evil and pain that came to Sandy Hook. In Him there is no guile and no hatred for humankind; but rather, love, compassion, forgiveness and healing of the broken-hearted.  Please don’t make the mistake of blaming God for the evil in the world. God is love, in Him is no darkness at all, He sent his Son, Jesus to give life, and give it abundantly.

On the other hand there is evil…despite what the secular world would have us believe, evil is not merely a mental illness. There is a force, an evil force, that causes heartache, pain, dysfunction, destruction and death; and that force is personified in Satan. Oh? you don’t like the word “Satan?” Okay, try the Devil or the “Dark Side of the Force.” Only those who deny reality cannot see the truth “they have eyes and cannot see, ears and cannot hear;” and in denying the truth are unable to take action to fix what is amiss and broken… reality is that there is Satan and that evil one comes to steal, kill and destroy. No doubt there is mental illness, but that can be frequently, if not most often traced to thoughts and conduct that are contrary to ones innocent conscience; which incidentally naturally aligns, unless perverted, with what is found in God’s word.

Here’s the simplest way to genuine happiness…eschew evil and cling to good. Turn away from evil thoughts and actions; turn to good thoughts and righteous behavior. Would you like a prescription for good mental and spiritual health? Here it is: “whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; virtuous, or praiseworthy, think on these things.” (Bob’s version of Philippians 4:8)

No doubt there are some readers who think, “this guy’s a right wing conservative.” Actually, I’m as liberal as they come: I believe in and practice feeding the hungry, giving to the less fortunate, helping those who cannot help themselves, healing wounds, forgiving those who harm, and although it took too long, I have learned to exercise patience.  Is that my “natural” self? No. I was a lying, cheating, stealing, selfish, “SOB,” but thanks be to God, in His infinite love, mercy and grace He changed that and now I am a new creation. Yes, I’ve been born again, not in response to a command, but as the way to eternal life.

God took me, a functional but vile, angry, bitter young man and now, 35 years later He continues reshaping me into whatever He wants me to be. At last, I got it, “He is the potter, and I am the clay.” I only wish I had learned that as a practical matter in my youth. Sure, I memorized Bible verses, I heard the gospel, I sang the songs, but I clung tenaciously to selfish concern that I would miss some pleasure or some thing; or had a score to settle, or some other spiritually…and mentally unhealthy behavior.  In the process I sadly did more harm and hurt more people than I can remember…and now, can only ask forgiveness. Have you ever suffered vertigo? I have, spiritual vertigo and was lost, totally lost in spiritual darkness; spinning out of control and on a path to destruction.

One night, as I returned from Los Angeles International Airport to Camp Pendleton the fact that I was so totally lost came into full focus and while driving down Interstate 5 surrendered the centerpiece of the problem…myself… I asked God to forgive me of my past and to lead me in new life, in paths of righteousness that focused on and leads to Him. He did! And, I haven’t turned back. He gave me freedom, joy and peace that passes understanding, so how could I possibly hate Christmas?  Au contraire, I love it!

Jesus was born on Christmas day to live, teach, suffer and die, and defeat Death, (Satan, the Devil, the Dark Side of the Force), and the harm caused by Satan’s deception of mankind.  I asked, and God set me free, He lifted form me the weight of the sin and evil that so easily beset me; and, now I can shout the words so eloquently spoken by Martin Luther King Jr., “Free at last, free at last! Praise God almighty, I’m free at last!” Now, every day is Christmas because God gave me the gift of His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, called: Wonderful, Counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

Joy to the World and Merry Christmas dear reader! May the Perfect God, the God of Love and Justice, the Almighty Creator of the Universe give you unspeakable joy and peace.

Semper Fidelis

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