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Archive for December, 2010

Surrounded by my family at this time of the year I am thankful for the many blessings that God has given me. It is such a joy to have my children and grandchildren all around for a few days. It is wonderful to have a peaceful and genuinely happy time with all. So many families, though having many material blessings, do not have the true fun and fellowship that we have because they do not get along with each other. For them the holiday is a time to go and put on a fake smile, get indigestion eating a meal that they can barely get through without choking, collect their loot and head home. I feel really sorry for them.

Here in our home we celebrate Christ from the smallest to the oldest. Not all of our in-laws are Christians, but they still respect the real reason for Christmas. Some, even the most cantankerous, have admitted that we have something special in our home. We pray that every year they will realize that it is because of the Lord Jesus Christ that we have beautiful relationships with our children. We pray that they will want the peace and joy that we have so much that they will turn to the Lord themselves.

We are thankful for the many blessings that we still have in our country.
Only in America would people band together like they did in Wilmington, Ohio, and take care of each other. They refused the government’s “help” which always comes with a demand surrender your freedom. They have shown us that we can still be a nation of loving people, caring for each other. As the present administration’s insane policies continue to contribute to the high unemployment, I pray that more towns will follow the example of the courageous citizens of Wilmington.

Only in America will we find so many wonderful people volunteering to help the homeless, as Habitat for Humanity does. Since 1976, they have built or repaired 400,000 homes worldwide. This is because we are a Christian based nation. While many do not profess to follow Christ anymore, we still are living with the values that our forefathers brought to this land.

Thank God that in America people can still proclaim Christ in public, though we are fast losing this ability. As the Christmas season wanes, I pray that the courageous acts of those who put Christ forward will continue. I fear that it won’t.

It was very emotional for those of us who are Christians to see the group at a shopping mall who sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus to the delight of the onlookers. In the video that I saw on You Tube, there didn’t seem to be anyone who was offended. I believe that there is still lingering the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in hearts in our country. One of my prayers for the New Year is that Christians and churches all over our land will be encouraged by these choruses and do it throughout the year. I am optimistic. We can still save our country.

At this time next year, I hope that the following is true:

a.  Christians everywhere will be able to speak about Christ openly in public places without being arrested for a “hate crime.”

b.  The “banksters” will be brought to justice for the crimes they have committed against all of the ordinary people in our country in order to just keep on enriching themselves. No, they are not too big to fail. Make them do business by the same rules that the rest of us do.

c.  All elected officials who have raised taxes, leading to horrific unemployment will be impeached. This is still the United States of America. We elect our officials and if they harm us, we can impeach them. Let us say “enough is enough” to leaders who put policies into practice that give them more power and money and impoverish the already overworked and overtaxed citizens. How many of these will be out of office at this time next year? Many, I hope.

e.  The TSA must be abandoned as it presently exists. They do not protect us; they only humiliate us. Let’s rid ourselves of these parasites. I will believe that the government really is interested in our safety when they ensure us of all of our second amendment rights. A responsible population, well educated, skilled, and equipped can protect itself.

f.  Unborn women will have the same rights as grown women.

g.  Government officials will stop trying to be our nannies. They will leave our small family farms alone. They will not tamper with our food supply.

h.  “Mallard Filmore” will be the one of the most widely read cartoons along with the other family friendly cartoons such as Family Circus.Thank you, Bruce Tinsley for your courage and for speaking for all of us. I do believe that most Americans are with YOU no matter what the liberals try to say!!

If we could have all of these things then it will be a VERY GOOD NEW YEAR!

MAY THE LOVE,
PEACE,
AND JOY OF CHRIST
BE WITH YOU AND YOURS ALL YEAR!

 

 

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Merry Christmas, 2010

Let us take some time off from the hustle and bustle of shopping and preparing for family get-togethers and remember why we have this wonderful time of the year to celebrate.

All over the world, people remember that Jesus was born in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. What a wonderful testimony to the goodness of our God. This is the perfect time to tell others the good news of the Gospel. This is the one time that even in public places, they will be reminded about the Savior. Thank God Christmas Carols have not been outlawed outside of churches. Maybe the cynical side of us would say that the stores know better than to stop playing the songs that we all grew up with and love so well or they’d lose money. The stores realize that they cannot do away with those bell-ringing Santa’s with their little red kettles, collecting money for the poor. Some “big-box” stores tried. They were boycotted. I am sorry that they think only of money at this time of the year, but I am not entirely cynical. I am thankful that whatever the reason they have decided to include reminders of the Savior around their establishments, many people will hear about the love of Christ at this time of the year who may otherwise never give Him a thought throughout the rest of the year.

Let us take advantage of it and say “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you” wherever we go.

We are very familiar with the first verses of many of our favorite Christmas Carols. We often don’t get to the last verses, yet many of them are the most evangelical. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and leave you to celebrate the holy-day with your loved ones.

And so, please contemplate on these inspiring last verses of the Christmas Carols.  Notice how they praise not only our Savior, but the entire blessed Trinity.  I wish we could sing them more often. Here are a few of my favorites.

From, “Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus”

“By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. Amen.”

From, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace’
Good will henceforth, from heaven to men,
Begin and never cease!”

From, “Angels, from the Realms of Glory”

“Saints and angels join in praising
Thee, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore their voices raising
To th’Eternal Three in One.
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the new-born King.”

And finally, a beautiful hymn by Martin Luther that sums up the prayer of our lives, From, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
Who unto us His Son hath given!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.”

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The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:27,28)

At this time of the year when we remember the birth of the blessed Christ child, let us also honor His courageous mother, Mary.

Mary has been admired universally above all women. She was truly remarkable. Sovereignly chosen by God to bear the Christ child, from among all of the women who had ever been born, she was the one who brought our Redeemer, the Messiah into the world.

Many have made a superhuman of Mary. She was given much grace and a remarkable privilege. But we must be careful not to elevate her too much. Her blessings and graces were given to her by God. She was an ordinary human being, like us. And yet, she showed her strong faith in God, by trusting Him with whatever He chose for her. We can look up to her for that.

We don’t know very much about Mary’s upbringing. We know that she had a sister, Salome, who was the mother of Jesus’ disciples, James and John. Salome was also a devoted follower of Jesus and was there at the cross with Mary when He was crucified. Of course, we also know that she was related to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. Besides this, we only know that she grew up in Nazareth as the daughter of a poor but hardworking family.

At the time of the Annunciation, Mary was probably a teenager. Back in that day, girls were often betrothed at age thirteen. Her marriage was probably arranged by the parents of Joseph, her prospective bridegroom. Joseph was a carpenter. He was also a godly and righteous man.

In those days a betrothal was as legally binding as a marriage. In fact, if a betrothal was broken by one of the parties, through infidelity for instance, there had to be a divorce proceeding. There were two ways to get the divorce, a public trial, which would have been very humiliating for Mary, or a quiet proceeding. In the quiet proceeding, the wronged party could get two witnesses to sign a release with him and send the other party away. In Joseph’s case, he thought that he would just send Mary somewhere to have her child secretly and avoid disgrace. We know that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and then he knew that everything was all right. This was God’s plan. And so he willingly took his part as husband and earthly father of Jesus.

Mary must have known what could happen to her when Joseph found out that she was pregnant. She knew that the horror of public scandal might await her. But she trusted God to take care of her. She surrendered herself unconditionally saying, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary did not doubt or question God. She just immediately, humbly, and joyfully submitted to God’s will.

Mary was not just praising God for her own part in God’s plan. The meaning of her pregnancy was that the longed-for Messiah was finally coming to Israel. This was cause for everyone to rejoice. When she visited her relative, Elizabeth, this godly cousin also rejoiced that now the things that God had promised since the beginning, were finally being fulfilled. Christ was finally coming!!

Then, in the Scriptures we have one of the most beautiful prayers ever recorded. It will remind us of the Psalms in the Old Testament. In it, Mary praises God for His splendor and power and mercy and holiness. God is the One Who did great things for her. This song is about God’s greatness, His glory, the strength of His arm, and His faithfulness across the generations.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty form their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

Mary’s worship was clearly from her heart. She was grateful to God for the things that He had done for her and for all of Israel. She was humble and amazed that God would do such remarkable things through her, a lowly and undeserving handmaid. Yet, she still rejoiced with all her heart.

This wonderful, joyful blessing would also be the cause of much sorrow and a broken heart later in her life. Though she had a wonderful relationship with her Son, and followed Him all of her life, she knew that the day would come when He would have to fulfill the purpose for His coming to earth. Simeon had told Mary of Jesus’ death when she and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for His circumcision. Jesus Himself spoke of His own death often.

Finally the day came. We can only imagine the wound that pierced her heart as she watched the soldiers thrusting a sword through Jesus’ body on the cross. She stood bravely and quietly by at the cross while others were screaming wicked taunts and insults at Him. She knew the injustice that was being done. She must have also been sorrowful at the thought that here was the Savior, on the cross for their sins. They did not know it. This only added to her own anguish and grief at the horrible sight of her dying Son. Yet, she stayed, silent and sorrowful. Others would have fled in fear and terror. Many might have fainted at the sight of the horrible suffering of the Messiah. But, Mary remained. She gave Him the support of her love by being near to Him until the very end.

Jesus also showed His love for His mother in His final moments. Though He carried the weight of the sins of the whole world on his shoulders, He took out time to provide for her support. He gave her into the care of the disciple, John. Mary would be cared for the rest of her life.

Mary was no ordinary mother. Most mothers are involved in training their children to grow up and follow the Lord. But, Jesus is the Lord. Mary understood this and nurtured Jesus as a child while worshiping Him as her Savior.

She clearly had received grace from God for this. She was an ordinary woman who had been given extraordinary blessings by God. She is a woman to emulate. But, let us be careful not to give her the adulation that only belongs to God. Mary herself was very humble and would not want anyone to venerate her as some do today. She would point us to Christ. He was the object of her worship. He is the One we adore. He is the only One to recognize as Lord and Savior. All of her life she was an example, pointing us to loving God and praising Him for His many blessings to us.

 

 

 

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