A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY HAS ARISEN — This Is HUGE!
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
A wonderful opportunity has arisen that will allow us to GREATLY EXPAND our outreach. This is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY, but it is beyond our parish’s monthly income right now so it is a leap of faith.
I do not claim to be a prophet, but I cannot help but believe that God has opened this door for us to walk through. It makes me think of ancient Israel, when they were about to cross the Jordan River and enter into the Promised Land. The river did not part until the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant actually exercised the faith to step into the water.
We do not want to run ahead of God, but we do not want to miss a door that He has opened either. Our parish Vestry has decided unanimously to take a leap of faith and embrace this wonderful opportunity to advance the Work of the Gospel. Like Peter, if we want to walk on water we have to have the faith to get out of the boat. The key is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
I am amazed at how quickly God has answered our prayers, and I cannot wait to share this exciting news with you from the pulpit on Sunday. Please plan to be there to hear the news, and then “Go tell it on the Mountain!”
If you are not in the Omaha area and cannot be with us on Sunday, I will be sending out a written announcement of this GIANT STEP FORWARD next week. God is doing a GREAT WORK AND WONDER among us, and for that we should be truly thankful. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!
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SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT — Sunday, December 6th
This coming Sunday, December 6th is the Second Sunday in Advent. The celebration of the Nativity of Jesus is only 21 days from today, BUT should believers even be observing Advent and celebrating the Birth of Yeshua, Jesus?
Every year we hear talk of Christmas being a pagan holiday. The Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately come to mind when this charge is heard; but I have known many solid Bible-believing Christians who do not celebrate Christmas either because it is not explicitly commanded in the Holy Scriptures, or out of a concern for its alleged pagan connections.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses contend that, “those who celebrate Christmas do not honor God or Christ, but honor pagan celebrations and pagan gods” (Awake! magazine of December 8, 1988, p. 19). The view that Christmas is really an old pagan holiday was made more popular in recent years by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (p. 232).
Are Christians who celebrate Christmas really celebrating a pagan festival and honoring pagan gods? This is a serious question that needs a serious answer!
If Christmas is indeed just a pagan holiday, Christians should nothing to do with it. Period. I know that I do not want to have anything to do with any pagan holidays or with any form of religious syncretism. Last December I preached a brief sermon on this question, but this year I wanted to dig deeper. When I began my research I only wanted the truth, and I was willing to let the chips fall where they may.
Not only did I research the origin of Christmas, but I researched Saturnalia and Sol Invictus as well. I also studied the history of the Christmas tree in light of the warning in Jeremiah chapter 10, as well as the use of evergreens for decorations — and more.
After doing thorough research, using scholarly sources rather than sensationalist materials or articles and books filled with speculations and accusations by people with a theological axe to grind, the results of my research were clear. Christmas is not a pagan holiday. Disciples of Yeshua, Jesus, can enjoy the season and celebrate the commemoration of Yeshua’s birth with joy and a clear conscience.
If you have questions about Christmas or lingering doubts about its appropriateness, you will want to read my blog post:
Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?
Some serious Bible-believing Christians will respond, “Christmas may not be a pagan holiday, but it is still not mentioned in the Bible and God nowhere commands it to be kept. Therefore, it is a humanly instituted celebration, unauthorized by God, and should not be celebrated by disciples of the Messiah.”
It is true that we are not commanded in the Holy Scriptures to celebrate Christmas, therefore no one is obligated to celebrate it. It is no sin not to celebrate the festival. However, celebrating the birth of Yeshua does not contradict the Scriptures, obscure Biblical truth, or make void the Word of God, so we are free to celebrate it.
Christmas is the one common experience that hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings share all around the world. It is a time when spiritual matters commonly enter conversations. It is a time when even secular people and backsliders begin to think of Jesus and what his birth means. It is a time when people dream of peace on earth and seek to show some good will to their fellow man. It is a time of giving to charity, helping the poor, healing brokenness in families and mending estranged relationships. It is a time of gift giving, love and joy.
No one is celebrating Christmas and honoring pagan gods at the same time. You can do one or the other, but you cannot do both together. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season, and a world in rebellion against God is confronted every year with the inescapable fact that God loves us so much that He sent a saviour — Messiah Yeshua the Lord — and that even time itself is divided between the years before and after his birth.
Advent/Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! Let us rejoice in the redemption that we have in the Messiah Yeshua. His birth is worth celebrating!
Perhaps the proper question is not, “May we celebrate a festival that is not specifically commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures?” But, “Why do most Christians refuse to celebrate the feasts that God HAS GIVEN in the Holy Scriptures and COMMANDED to be kept?” Thankfully, we are keeping the Feasts of the LORD at Holy Cross, and we invite you to keep them with us. You will find them in Leviticus chapter 23.
Before the time of Yeshua the people of Israel added such feasts as Purim and Hanukkah to their liturgical calendar. These celebrations where not commanded by God, but arose from the hearts of God’s people in order to commemorate and celebrate great events. Yeshua certainly celebrated Hanukkah. You can read all about it in the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to John.
Disciples of Yeshua later also added festivals to celebrate Biblical events such as the Annunciation (miraculous conception), the Birth of Yeshua, his Circumcision, Baptism, and his Ascension forty days after his Resurrection. Adding such commemorations is not pagan, — it is a very Jewish thing to do!
I am attaching for you an article from Chabad, an Hasidic Orthodox Jewish site that I have followed for years. I hope that you will read it. It will clear up a lot of misinformation. The article is titled,
Can We Add Our Own Jewish Holidays?
Have you ever heard of the, Megillat Taanit ?
The Megillat Taanit is a very early first century CE list of 35 eventful days on which the people of Israel either performed glorious deeds or witnessed joyful events. These days were celebrated as feast-days during which fasting and eulogies were not permitted. Most of the entries in it refer to events which happened between the second century BCE and the first century CE They are arranged in twelve sections, according to the Jewish month in which they occurred. The list was written in Aramaic, and it was later amplified by a Hebrew commentary or scholium.
I am attaching for you an English translation of the Megillat Taanit derived from Solomon Zeitlin, who provided a full commentary on the historical context of each event in his study "Megillat Ta'anit as a Source for Jewish Chronology and History in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods" (1922). A summary of his comments has been added to the translation in green.
The numbers in red are the numbers of the Jewish months. You can click on the # symbols to go to lists of other ancient sources which refer to the same events. Here is the link:
UNTOLD ARCHEOLOGY OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT — A Must See 20 Minute Video!
Sergio and Rhoda Voitenko are a young Israeli couple, and Youtube sensations. Since they began in 2017, their videos have had 26,814,532 views. The video, “Untold Archeology of the Temple Mount” was only posted on their YouTube channel on October 11th of this year, and it already has had 870,452 views. For anyone who has an interest in Biblical archeology this is a Must See video!
Sergio was born in Soviet Lithuania to Russian speaking Jewish parents. In 1992 his family made aliyah (moved to Israel). He was seven years old at the time, so he grew up in Israel, went to college there, and did his service in the Israeli military.
Rhoda was born and raised in Nazareth to very devout Arab Christian parents who have been active in ministry all of their lives. Rhoda’s dad is pastor of a small lBaptist church in Nazareth.
Sergio grew up in Nazareth Illit, which is the Jewish Nazareth, and Rhoda grew up in the (now) Arab town of Nazareth. In 2008, there was a joint meeting between Arab and Jewish believers in Yeshua held in Nazareth. That’s where Sergio and Rhoda met.
They later married and moved to the United States where Sergio had a job offer. While living in the United States the Lord put them in the path with some very special people who, Sergio says, “shone the light into our lives and and that changed everything.” After spending seven years in the United States they returned to Israel three years ago and live in Nazareth.
Sergio and Rhoda’s story is beautiful. A Jew and an Arab together, believing in Yeshua, Jesus, who has broken down the middle wall of partition and made the two one. Through the Messiah Yeshua peace and reconciliation is coming to Israel one heart at a time. Sergio says, “That's the only way to peace and reconciliation. That's that's what we believe, we've seen it. I've seen it happen with people only through Christ.”
You will find this video educational and uplifting. I hope you will watch it. To God be the glory!
Here is the link:
THE CELTIC CHURCH IN BRITAIN — A Wonderful Christmas Gift!
Are you looking for a great Christmas gift for a believing family member for friend? Or for yourself?
I highly recommend the book, The Celtic Church in Britain, by Dr. Leslie Hardinge. This wonderful book is the best book on Celtic Christianity that I have ever read, and it is in its 95th edition!
The Gospel arrived in the British Isles directly from Jerusalem in the year 37 CE. It was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea and his companions. Joseph of Arimathea was not only the man who buried Yeshua in his own new tomb, but he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council headquartered in Jerusalem.
This book is a history of Christianity before the arrival of Augustine of Canterbury and his Italian Mission in 597 CE. The book documents the British Christians conflict with the Roman Imperial Church of which Augustine’s mission belonged, and the subsequent pressure that was applied to make the British believers conform, and finally the persecution that drove them to the margins until Celtic Christianity was finally suppressed in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Having come to Britain directly from Jerusalem, Celtic Christianity could be best described as Judaeo-Christianity. They lived “the faith once delivered” in the first century (Jude 3), and at Holy Cross we are trying to fully return to the first century faith and practice.
We have a wonderful Celtic heritage and patrimony at Holy Cross parish, and our English Spiritual Tradition has very deep roots indeed. We are so blessed by our incomparable Prayer Book liturgy and our Bible-centered faith.
What we are preaching and teaching at Holy Cross parish is nothing new. On the contrary, it is very ancient indeed. In the book, The Celtic Church in Britain you will see these beliefs and practices lived out in the lives of our spiritual forebears.
The Celtic Church in Britain is a fascinating and authoritative account of Celtic Christianity, its beliefs and practices based on Old Testament canon and the laws of the Pentateuch, including the keeping of the Passover and the Sabbath. It is illustrated with line drawings taken from the crosses which were a notable feature of Celtic church architecture, and with examples of documents of the period.
The Celtic Church in Britain is a scholarly book, and not an easy read, but it is well worth the effort. In this important book you will discover the first century Messianic faith and how it was lived out in Britain for a millennium.
You can order it from Amazon;
Or from the publisher:
HANUKKAH — The Feast of Dedication
The Feast of the Dedication or Hanukkah begins this year on Thursday, December 10th, and ends on Friday, December 18th.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah, is Hebrew for “dedication.” The feast commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the pagan Syrian Greek army that had occupied and profaned the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by setting up an image of Zeus Olympius in the sanctuary and sacrificing a pig on the altar, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah (lamp-stand).
It is sometimes called the festival of lights because only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil to illuminate the Temple menorah for one day, and yet it miraculously burned for eight full days.
Hanukkah is celebrated at home by lighting the menorah (each night we light one additional candle to the number from the previous night), and eating foods cooked in oil to commemorate the miracle. Potato pancakes, called latkes, are a favorite Hanukkah food. Some people also sing Hanukkah songs, play dreidel, or exchange gifts after lighting the menorah, which is also called a hanukkiah. Many people host and attend Hanukkah parties.
Public Services also commemorate the festival. We will light a hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) at Holy Cross on Sunday, December 13th, and I will be preaching on the topic of the feast.
The apostle John records that Yeshua, Jesus, celebrated the feast of Dedication in Jerusalem:
Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:22-24).
Yeshua sets the example for us, and we are to walk (live) as he walked:
He who says he abides in Him [Yeshua] ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1John 2:6).
Come and celebrate Hanukkah with us on Sunday, December 13th. There will be no party or fellowship afterward due to the pandemic, but we will commemorate the feast, light a hanukkiah, read about the feast from the Scriptures during the Service, and I will be preaching on it.
Cheri and I will be lighting our hanukkiah at home every night during the feast. I encourage you to join Yeshua our Lord in celebrating this great deliverance and the rededication of the Holy Temple too. If it is too late for you to get ready for the feast this year, then make plans to celebrate at home next year. You can order a hanukkiah for your home from many sources on the internet. They are readily available and inexpensive.
While you are at it, why not do a web search for recipes for special Hanukkah foods. Believe me, you will be glad you did!
HEBREW GOSPEL PEARLS #11 — Matthew 4:17-22
In Hebrew Gospel Pearls #11 (Matthew 4:17-22), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson delve into the functions and roles of the prophet in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and compare that to how Yeshua is portrayed in the New Testament.
Hebrew Gospel Pearls is a verse by verse study of the Shem Tov Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. As many of you know, Nehemia Gordon is one of my favorite scholars, and I have been benefiting from his teachings for many years. He and Kieth Johnson, a former United Methodist mega-church pastor and chaplain to the Minnesota Vikings football team, who gave it all up to follow the same path we are on to “the faith once delivered” in the first century (Jude 3), are excellent teachers and this is a great series.
You can watch the video or listen to the audio. Each episode lasts about an hour. Episode #11 is an excellent one. You will learn a lot. I highly recommend it. Here is the link:
SOCIAL MEDIA GROWTH
Our social media outreach is important to us at Holy Cross parish. We update our parish Facebook page regularly with everything from parish news to new archeological discoveries.
We promote the Holy Cross parish Facebook page on each broadcast of The Faith Once Delivered and in every edition of the Holy Cross Update. In response to our efforts we are getting new viewers throughout each week, with an uptick of new viewers after each broadcast.
I recently checked our Facebook statistics and, as of December 3rd, “People Reached” are up by 84% over 28 days ago, and “Page Likes” are up a whopping 213%.
Our Gospel and teaching ministry is certainly having an impact on many lives for which we are truly thankful.
FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK
New posts are made on the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page regularly. We hope that you will visit our Facebook page and check back with it often. Better yet, visit our Facebook page and become a Follower. Just click Follow. That way you will not miss a single post!
You can access the Holy Cross Parish Facebook page here:
THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED — Studies in the Book of Daniel, Part 3
After spending the last two broadcasts answering the question, Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday? We will be returning to our series titled Studies in the Book of Daniel.
The Faith Once Delivered is a Full Message broadcast, bringing you the Bible in its proper historical, cultural and linguistic context.You will not want to miss this series in Daniel!
The Faith Once Delivered Radio Broadcast can be heard every Saturday at 9:30 AM and Sunday at 9:30 PM (Central Time) on KCRO Radio, 660 AM in Omaha, and 106.7 FM in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Not in eastern Nebraska or western Iowa? No problem! You can hear The Faith Once Delivered radio broadcast live over the Internet. Just go to the KCRO website and click Listen Live:
All of our radio broadcasts are archived for your use. You can listen to any or all of our past broadcasts for free, any time you would like. You can access them here:
OUR MISSION AT HOLY CROSS
At Holy Cross parish we are committed to proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, teaching the faith which was once delivered in the first century (Jude 3), and preparing a people for the Coming of the Lord.
If a “traditional” belief does not go back to the first century it cannot be apostolic and is instead a tradition of men. The faith was not delivered in the 16th, the 11th, or even the 4th century, but in the 1st century. Come and join us in our journey to the first century Messianic Jesus movement. Everyone is welcome.
Maranatha — O Lord Come!
EVERYONE IS INVITED AND VISITORS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!
Holy Cross is a teaching congregation. We take Bible study seriously and are a congregation of intentional disciples. Where else can you find such constant, and in-depth teaching from the pulpit, over the airwaves, on social media, in print, and by email? Believe me, it is rare. Holy Cross is very special!
If you want to be fed with spiritual food rather than milk, and want to grow in grace, in your understanding of the Holy Scriptures, in your faith in God, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ — Yeshua the Messiah — then Holy Cross is the congregation you have been looking for.
I hope that you will accept my personal invitation to join us this Sunday morning at 9:00 AM for Morning Prayer and a Sermon. Morning Prayer or Shacharit is our morning Service. It has its roots in the synagogue Services of Jesus’ time. It is an ancient and beautiful Service of Psalms, Canticles, two Scripture readings, a sermon, and prayer. Bring your Bible with you and be ready to learn!
If you haven’t attended Services for a while, or don’t have a community, Advent is a wonderful time for new beginnings. We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you.
We hope to see you soon!