From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Sweet Little Story...

I have a sweet little story about my two oldest grand-daughters.  I cannot imagine them being so grown up now, Madie will graduate from high school this year, and Samantha will be a sophomore this year.  There have been so many special moments in my life with these two.  From the first time I held them, it was love at first site.  Not only are they beautiful and accomplished young women now, but they still have those beautiful hearts of true gold.  Anyone could trust them with their life, they are loyal, hard working, honest, and possessed of integrity that is rare today.  I am of course so proud of how they have grown into such young women, who trust in the Lord God.

One night when the girls were spending the night with me and sleeping in the bed with me, they were wrestling, rolling around n the bed, talking, laughing, and enjoying being together so much. They were five and three years of age at the time, just a little older than in the picture above. It was getting on toward mid-night, and I was exhausted having cooked and taken care of the whole household all day.  In those days it was an extremely large household at the time, due to all the family being home. Both Madie and Samantha have always been a bit hard headed, (can't imagine where they got that...) and settling them down with the ordinary admonishments just wasn't working. So in a fit of creativity I whispered in a conspirator's tone... "did you hear that??? They both froze... "What Nana, what!!!" It's Stewart the Mouse, I hear him running up and down the hall again in that Barbie doll car. I wouldn't mind so much, but he never puts up anything when he is through with it... He gets the Ken doll shorts and shirts out, gets them dirty, and then leaves them in the floor for me to pick up and wash... He leaves the car out, with food wrappers and drink cups in the floor board, and leaves his dirty dishes too. Samantha was looking at me like she is looking at Madie in the picture of them above, she just wasn't quite buying it yet.

But pretty soon with added details they both bought the whole thing. When they would start cutting up again, I would say, I heard it again! He has let that little bird in too... that means there will be an even bigger mess... Then I would quietly reach over the side of the bed and scratch the side of the mattress, or thump the bed rail, or make some other covert noise and let them suddenly exclaim to me, "Nana did you hear that!" I would sit up in bed and say, I didn't hear anything that time, I must have fallen asleep. They would then begin describing what they thought the mouse was doing. They soon fell asleep as they laid quietly listening for Stewart and the little bird girlfriend. Of course I had to get up early and I got the doll furniture out, the little table and chairs, filled cups with a bit of tea, and crumbled Cheese crackers in the little plates. I got doll clothes out, the Barbie doll car, and left the door open, and the clothes in a pile in the floor. I had tucked the whole little set up in a corner where it was not real noticeable. I didn't say a word when they both got up... just waited until they found it... I loved those big round eyes when at last during their play they stumbled upon the staged scene... I just said, "I told you he wouldn't clean up after himself!" For the rest of that entire visit they couldn't wait to go to bed at night, and would lay so still listening for the mouse...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Picking Wildflowers, One I Didn't Publish From Long Ago

I am so lucky, Sunday as I was driving to church down the winding little road to Bellville, I realized how blessed I am, and how much I love where  I live.  I passed the cows, then the long horn cows, and when I passed the buffalo, I was certain I was in Texas.  There are so many old barns and old houses in Austin County, and my shutterbug goes off every time I pass them.  Then there are the wild flowers, on the way home I took dozens of pictures.  Some of them turned out beautiful, so I thought I would share some with you.

First, I loves these white cows in the pond cooling off, it gets so hot in Texas!

These are beautiful and have beautiful delicate flowers. They have the see through type petals.  If you even get close to their thread size long thorns, they get you.  They are tipped with poison as well, and they burn like fire, or fire ant bites! 

So never ever try 
to pick these!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sometimes Looking at the World Around Me Soothes Stress

These pictures I took of the moon with tree tops showing at the bottom really do please me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Year, New Possibilities, Hopes, Dreams, and Goals

Life is such a complex and evolving thing.  So many changes, stresses, and challenges are faced by each of us because of the time in which we live.  Technology has complicated most lives in our world.  I am sure there are still some who are not "connected," but that number dwindles daily.  Technology has also made our lives easier, but the true wonder of our gadgets and access to the world wide web lies in our ability to connect much more personally to so many more people in a life time, and that now affects my goals and aims in life.

 Fireworks over Wiesbaden, Germany on New Year's Eve

I am looking, as I always do, at my life this first work week of the New Year. Since I know I am an eternal being, and this life is only a journey to my lasting life, I want to follow the lead of my husband.  My husband is able to get more out of each day than anyone I have ever known.  He loves life, is always in a positive mood, no matter what challenges he faces, and accomplishes more than any other five people I know in a given day.  In Ranger School he claimed a mantra which he has kept for a life time, "If the man in front of me can do it, so can I."  He completed Ranger School and was awarded an "Iron Mike" by those evaluating his performance, and he almost drown in the process. That is an especially coveted award given in the Army.  My husband received three from those who served along side him during his career.  That mantra of his distinguishes a man from his peers always, and brings either admiration or resentment from those around him.

Of course in me it brings great admiration, because I know him best of all who know him.  I watch what he accomplishes daily, and I try to keep up.  That is an impossibility for me, even as we walk together, he must put thought and effort into slowing his gait, as he takes one step for every two I must take just to walk beside him.  That isn't taking into account the speed with which he moves, as I often say, "with my husband, everything is a road march!" Footwear is sometimes an issue too, he always goes for functionality, and well, I do love little red heels...

As I said, in my planning today, I am looking at ways to accomplish all that my limited energies and resources will produce each day, because we only have any given day once, and it faces each of us as a blank canvas each morning.  There may be incidents where things which are out of our own control, dictate the colors and brushes with which we must work to produce our day's painting, but still the control of those tools and resources remain completely in our own control.  How we use what we are given determines the satisfaction or disappointment we can claim at the end of each 24 hours.  I know of certainty that planning is important in producing work that pleases both God and myself.  Always I try to remember that the One I want to please most with my efforts is my Lord and Savior, and that my planning should be conducted with that goal in mind.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Someone Taught Me Magic, Real Magic

My mother is 86 years old now, still a hard worker, still able to take care of her home with my dad alongside, and still possessed of wisdom. She and my dad are still in love, true love, after more than 65 years. She hasn't been a perfect mother, there aren't any, but she has lived before me, and the rest of the world, a steadfast life devoted to God, my father, her children, grand-children, and now great grandchildren. The older I get, the more wisdom I find in the things she taught me, and they were many. How to work hard, how to get by on little, how to get by in a right way when you have much, to always save some... of everything, how to make a new use for something, and how to love and honor a husband, are just a few of the things she has taught me. Then there is the creativity she taught, she has taught to all of us who have fallen under her tutelage, all the way through the great-grandchildren. She has taught us how to "pretend play."

Being a child of the Great Depression, toys were a luxury that were not hers to enjoy. That was such a blessing for all of us who have followed, because she can teach one how to make a "play house" under a tree, bake lovely "dirt cakes," or be a princess while wearing an old square dancing skirt. No matter how busy she is with her day, she will still take the time to fall into whatever character fits into the play of a child nearby. She can be the person at the drive through window at McDonald's, and take your "pretend" order, a mean witch trying to trick your "Barbie" into marrying the wrong guy, or the MC at your concert, announcing your performance with great flare. All this is accomplished as she cooks supper, sweeps, irons, or washes dishes. Needless to say, she is adored by all children. 

My mother came from a large family, this photo is of her and her sisters.  She also had four brothers.

When I find myself most under the gun, most strained to the breaking point, most discouraged and defeated, without fail, the greatest thing she has taught me comes to my mind. My mother was not especially sympathetic to my woes as I was growing up, which at the time was sometimes very annoying. She has always been an "executor." When there is work to be done, she works until it is done, when a plan of action is needed, she makes suggestions until a choice is made, and when there is a need, of any sort, she finds a resource. She never has had the tendency to entertain the notion that one is helpless or defeated in any situation. If she can't figure it out, she knows daddy can. Then there is her magical cure for the depression that can accompany the hard times in life. It was and still is her standard answer when things seem completely deadlocked, and one is faced with just having to endure. I use to resent so much her answering some complaint about life with the "magic," but slowly over the years, the magic has proved time and again to be magic indeed.

 Easter when my daughters were small, I always wear a hat at every opportunity, two of my daughters and my sister with her hair short.  My mother is in the right hand corner.

Mom and Dad, my daughter Beth, and a passel of their great-grandchildren.

It is such a simple solution for life's darkest hours, works every time, and will see you through the hardest of situations.  According to my mother, the solution to these trying times, is to look around you, find someone with a need, or a problem, and then reach out to them. Her theory is it takes the focus off your own trouble, immediately brings a relief to your soul, and honors God, bringing blessing and solution to your own difficulty, and to the others as well. For a long time, each and every time she suggested this plan, I secretly scoffed, certain there was no validity to such thinking. Time and time again, I would give in and try it... and that is when the "magic" happened. Over and over I have experienced the magic. Each time I reach out to another human being in compassion and care, whatever load I am carrying, lightens. At times I have reached out to others only to experience being taken advantage of, but those times have been few, and still the magic worked. The practice of her theory has brought so much to my life. I have learned to go quickly now to the magic when I realize I am in real trouble in life. Inevitably the trouble passes, the problem is solved, and with the application of the magic, the good is multiplied.  I love my mother for many reasons, one of them is for teaching me magic.

My favorite picture of my mother ever... it speaks volumes of how she has lived her life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It Is Time Again For the Most Comprehensive and Acurate Description of Christmas I Have Ever Heard

How proud I am that it was written by our son, Brian LeCompte, who continues his post graduate studies at Criswell Bible College in Dallas, Texas.  Needless to say, we are so proud of him in every way.  How far from what humanity as a whole makes Christmas this account and explanation is.  Truth however is always in class all its' own, and brings an assurance nothing else can match.  Merry Christmas to all who read this, and blessings to you and your family.

An article on the origin of Christmas
Written by: Brian LeCompte


                I am writing this article so that all who read it might understand the meaning of Christmas and its’ origin.  It will become evident if it hasn’t been already that I am writing this article from a Christian perspective.  I will document the story of the birth of Christ as it is recorded in the Gospels of the New Testament and explain various aspects and historical context of the story which are often misinterpreted or overlooked.  I will then explain that how the holiday celebration arose for different purposes but during the same time out of an earlier pagan tradition and explain how this in no way harms the truthfulness of the Biblical account.  My hope is that all who read this will learn the true scholarly Christian viewpoint of the history and significance of Christmas and will benefit from this knowledge in the same manner that I have after learning it. 

                The purpose for the traditional holiday of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of a man named Jesus Christ.  According to the Old Testament the world would one day receive a savior to come and rid the world of all injustice and He would be the Lord of all the people,  establish a kingdom that is nothing but eternal peace and love, and where sorrow, pain, and death would be no more.  In some of the Old Testament prophetic accounts the man is spoken of as a servant that is beaten and crushed for the sins that are committed by others and in essence takes the penalty for that sin (cf. Isaiah 53:5).  In other scriptures he is spoken of as an Anointed one that would free the people from oppression (cf. Psalm 2).  This word anointed is referencing  a king because it was understood by the audience that the Old Testament was written for, the Hebrew people, or Jews of Israel, that the Spirit of God anointed men that He would make king over this nation of people.  At the time of Jesus’ birth the Jewish people had been under the oppression of Roman rule for centuries and the prophetic Spirit of God had not been among the people for four hundred years (This is also known as the Intertestamental Period.)  The Israelites were” groaning” for their savior to come and free them from this oppression and set them up as His priestly nation once more.  However, the Jewish people were looking for a warrior king to lead an army against their earthly oppressors, not the defeated servant spoken of in Isaiah. 
                The New Testament scriptures affirm for us what was meant by those Old Testament prophecies.  According to the four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) Jesus was both of these iconic figures spoken of in the Old Testament.  Matthew’s Gospel is primarily focused on the kingdom that Jesus spent his life preaching about and initiating.  Mark’s Gospel is the most concise of the four, and has a pivotal moment in the center of the text when the apostle Peter acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ sent from God to save mankind.  Luke’s Gospel is primarily focused on the blessing of salvation, and John’s Gospel seeks to prove that Jesus was not a mere man but was also God who took on the form of man and performed “signs” or miracles, to prove his identity, then paid the price for all of mankind that would lead all of those who believe in what he did to salvation.  Most of this study will be in the book of Luke, as this book contains the most elaborate narrative of the birth of Christ, and is where the nativity scene, which has become the most popular Christmas decoration and theme for many Christmas plays and traditions,  originated.

The Birth
            The Bible asserts that Jesus’ mother was betrothed (engaged to be married,) to a man named Joseph.  Many have interpreted this to mean that they were already married which would indicate that the Bible is wrong when it records that Mary was a  virgin.  However, the word used in the original text simply means that they were “to be married” or close to engagement in our culture.  The difference between the two is that engagement is a public statement that you intend to be married with someone and focusing on the planning of the wedding while a betrothal, which is what this couple had entered into, is a public statement that you are preparing for marriage.  In this case the couple focuses on a commitment to each other, God, and the community without a physical commitment of sex for each which is to be saved until after the marriage.  This correct understanding of the word gives credence to the Bible’s message that Mary was in fact a virgin when Christ was born.  The purpose for mentioning her virginity is to highlight her purity and also to give no credence to any argument that could be made that Christ was the son of any man.  Rather the text affirms that Jesus is the “Son of God.”  In an Old Testament context this would have been recognition of his Kingship because to be called a “Son of God” in that context would insinuate that you were a King.  However, in the context of the birth narrative it literally means that Jesus was not born by the seed of Man in the manner that all people alive today are, but that he was born directly from God.  This is important to understand because the apostle Paul informs us in Romans 5:12 that death entered the world and was passed to all men because the sin of the first man Adam spread into the nature of all men by birth.  It is easier to understand sin as a gene in this instance that is passed down from the father of any given child.  I am not at all trying to say that sin is literally genetic but it is a way to understand what the scripture is communicating, and that is this sin is passed to all men and therefore every person in the world sins.  The significance of Christ’s divine birth is that he is not from that same line of sin, Christ still took on the flesh of man and so was forced to undergo the same temptations as you and I, but he did not descend from that same sinful line as humanity.  This is a brand new chance for a man to accomplish his original purpose to rule over God’s creation rightly and bear God’s image to the world for all to see and praise.  This new gift of the offering of atonement from sin repairs what went wrong and was given to Man by God, and it was done by God as he took on the form of a mere man! 
            Next is the focus on the location of Jesus’ birth.  The prophet Micah foretold approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ that he would be born in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  Luke’s Gospel explains that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census of the known world should be taken for a myriad of reasons, the most likely probably for taxation purposes.  Joseph was the son of a man named Heli and was born in Bethlehem and so according to Caesar’s decree he had to return to his homeland to be properly registered and so he traveled to Bethlehem with Mary and his unborn “step-son.”  The Gospel account reads as follows concerning the birth, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6 & 7 ESV.  In the next few sections I will perform a thorough exegesis of this scripture. 
The text is clear that the baby was laid in a manger because they had nowhere else to go.  The place that rejected them is translated as “the inn” for most English versions of the Bible.  However, the word that is being translated is a Koine (meaning common) Greek word kataluma.  The Bible was originally written in Koine Greek, which was a form of Greek that was used by the common people at the time.  This word kataluma has until recently best understood as an inn, but it has for some time been ambiguous.  After newly uncovered Greek texts and letters furthered our understanding of the language, this word would be best interpreted to mean “guest room.”  So with this understanding it would be better to say that there was no room for them in the guest room, but which guest room?  Joseph was returning to Bethlehem because it was where he was born and so he would have had family living in Bethlehem most likely, and would have chosen to stay with them.  This would have been very common because the Jewish culture has always been a very collectivistic culture, in which the primary focus is on the family as opposed to the needs and desires of the individual that comprises the culture of America today.  Also it would be peculiar if there were an inn inside the city because in the first century most inns were found on the road between cities because showing hospitality to guests was extremely important in that setting.  So with this understanding it is appropriate to assume that Joseph would seek to stay with his family, but was not allowed to.  Also, it is understandable that probably in their culture, his family would not allow them to stay because Mary was pregnant with a child, and the couple was not married yet.  To them the child was illegitimate, and in the 1st century context it was a very shameful thing.  We read already that Jesus is being rejected by his own family before he is born, but rejection was an ordained part of Christ’s life,  and was necessary to fulfill the prophecy made in Daniel 9:24-26.   Every detail of prophecy is fulfilled many times in the New Testament, and the academic, or scientific study of God’s Word reveals the validity of its’ message.
After the baby has been rejected and so born outside of appropriate shelter the text says that Mary wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.  A manger is simply a feeding trough for an animal cut out of stone and typically found in small caves called sukkah.  The geography surrounding Bethlehem is riddled even today with these small caves that the ancient Jewish people living in that area would have used to shelter their livestock during times of harsh weather.  Swaddling cloths were the same type of cloth that was used to wrap the bodies of the deceased in the Jewish burial tradition.  So the picture is quite clear; the baby is born in a shallow cave structure similar in appearance to the type of tomb he was to be buried in at his death on the cross, wrapped up in swaddling cloth the same as he would be at his death, and laid in stone feeding trough which also resembles the tomb his body would have been placed in.  

This is an image of a garden tomb.  One side of the tomb 
has been cut away for display purposes.

Seen above is first a picture of a manger and below it a 1st century tomb that is most likely the kind of tomb Jesus was buried in.  It is not mere coincidence that these two look similar and that the description given for the scene of Jesus’ birth is similar to that of his death.  After all Jesus himself said to his disciples that his purpose while he was here on Earth was to die (Matthew 16:21).  It seems that even at his birth God is showing the World his plan. 

The Magi
            If the words before these haven’t already upset someone by changing their entire nativity scene already, then I hope that they do not get angry after this section.  So far if our nativity scene were to be accurate then we would have to ditch the wooden lean to shack and replace it with a shallow cave, then get rid of the nice wooden cot that is coated with hay and replace it with a cold stone box where the baby Jesus would have been placed after being wrapped in cloth giving him the appearance of a corpse lying in a tomb.  However, even more must be done to the nativity scene in order to be accurate. 
Magi or “Wise men” were educated scholars of the day who were from the lands East of Canaan.  Many respected their wisdom and intellect and so one of their main contributions was to council the people about their next King.  Magi were effectively king makers because in that day they would judge the abilities of those eligible for the throne and make a decision as to which man would be the better leader.  The Magi traveled in packs of 20, 50, or even 100 people since the threat of bandits was ever present.  Being from the East their steed of choice was a horse as opposed to the popular imagery of a camel.  They are typically depicted as being three men (because there are three gifts) who were led by a star in the night sky and were present on the night of Christ’s birth.  However, the text makes no assertion that this is true. 
The text says that the Magi came looking for the King of the Jews and asked Herod, the Roman appointed King of the Jews at the time, where he was because they had seen His “star.”  The word that is used here in the original Greek for star is astera.  Generally speaking nativity scenes depict the Northern Star, the brightest star in our sky, as being the star that the Magi are speaking of, but this interpretation places our modern scientific understanding of a star in the minds of the ancients and this is simply not appropriate.  When we see a star in our sky we understand it to be a giant ball of flaming gas somewhere in the universe that is big enough that we can see it but due to our scientific understanding we can tell the difference between a nearby planet and a star or a comet and a star.  However, the ancients only knew stars to be lights and so any bright light in the sky to them would have been called astera.  So the next question is can a star in the sky really lead you to a specific location on the Earth?  If you were to point yourself towards a star in the sky and start walking would you ever reach a destination?  No, of course not you would only walk forever or until you decided it was time to quit because you could never reach the star; but then why does the text assert that “the Magi followed this light until it rested over the house that Mary and the boy Jesus were in” (paraphrased from Matthew 2:10 & 11)?  Well, let me present another hypothesis to you.  One of the names that was given to Jesus was Immanuel which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).   To the ancient Israelites when God’s presence was among the people he would manifest himself in the form of a bright light called the Shekinah.  The Shekinah hovered above the Ark of the Covenant (seen below) in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred room of the temple where God manifested his presence on the Earth.    

If we are to understand that the Shekinah rested over the location where God dwelt on Earth and that Christ is the Son of the Living God, and therefore also God himself, and is called Immanuel which means “God with us,” then it is reasonable to assume that the astera or bright light the Magi witnessed resting over the house Jesus was in was actually the Shekinah of God.  This would explain how the Magi were able to follow the star directly to the location that Jesus was at. 
            Next is the timing of the Magi’s arrival.  If you remember the text from earlier concerning how the Magi found Jesus then you know that the text says they found him in a house with his mother.  We already know that Jesus was born in a cave with the livestock so if the Magi actually found Jesus on the night he was born then how did they find him in a house?  Also, the word that is translated as child in Matthew 2:11 is a word that is actually used to describe a baby not a newborn.  We also know that Herod, fearing that his throne might be in danger, sent men to kill all the young boys in the town that were two years of age or younger, but if the Magi had arrived on the night of Christ’s birth then why would he need to kill babies that were 2 years of age?  With this information it is more likely then that the Magi arrived maybe as late as a year after the birth of Jesus and gave the gifts of gold,  frankincense, and myrrh to the young King.  These gifts would soon be an example of God’s provision because the family was forced to flee to Egypt after an angel warns them of Herod’s plot to kill all the boys in an attempt to kill Jesus. 

The Purpose of Christmas
            We now know that Jesus was born for the purpose of dying and that God illustrated this to the world even in the scene of His birth.  So you might be thinking to yourself that it sounds awful to celebrate the birth of a King when the message conveyed by his birth was the message of death, and that this King would die in one of the most shameful manners by which to die, crucifixion.  However, the Christian understands that the birth of Christ signifies that the promise of God made to his people was kept, and that salvation from the death that is brought on by the sin that we all experience has come through Jesus Christ.  So it is not His death that we are celebrating, for we know that the grave could not hold Him and He is risen, but it is the fact that God had mercy enough that he would save us from our sin.  He keeps His promises and shows that He is a father to the fatherless and a leader to the lost.

Why December 25?
            The text informs us that shepherds received news of the birth of Christ from an angel while they were out in the fields with their livestock and went to see Jesus on the night he was born (Luke 2:8-20).  This has led  scholars to believe that Jesus was not actually born on December 25 because it would have been wintertime and so the livestock would not have been in the fields but rather in shelter.  The Bible is also unclear about the date of the birth and so there is currently no way to know exactly when Christ was born only that it would have been during one of the summer months when the shepherds would have actually had the sheep in the fields.  If this is true then why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?  The most logical reason is one that skeptics of the Christian faith usually use as evidence that the Bible is wrong.  Before Christmas was started, pagans had a festival around the same time after the winter solstice, which is on December 21.  The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and is preceded by a string of short days.  The ancients recognized this and attributed the phenomenon to the anger of the gods.  Their belief was that if the gods were not appeased then their fury would be unleashed on the world and all would perish.  So the pagans would make sacrifices in order to please the gods and if the next day were longer then it was a sign that the gods were giving them another year of life.  Skeptics like to say that Christians simply stole the holiday and so the story of Christmas is therefore a lie.  I still do not understand how the two ideas are even related, because even if Christians deliberately took the date of the holiday, I don’t see how the facts of the story itself can no longer be validated. Nevertheless, I like the skeptics explanation here for the date because it is logical and I believe it actually helps my argument. 
            Many of the new Christians after Jesus’ resurrection were Gentiles and so they would have been accustomed to celebrations around the time of the winter solstice, and so after embracing their new faith celebrating the coming of their Savior around the same time would have been an easy transition.  Also the fact that it would come to replace the pagan tradition would be perfectly expected from what we know to be the character of God in the scriptures.  God is the ultimate Redeemer, he takes men who are fifthly and sinful and restores their heart so they can be a whole new creation which bears the image of God more fully.  If God has such redemption power for man, then why can he not do the same for a tradition?  It makes perfect sense to me that God could choose to take an earlier pagan tradition that worships false gods and redeem it to be a celebration of the One True God and therefore glorifying his name so that others may hear of His good news.  It is no mystery as to why different civilizations have gods that they worship.  Mankind could see plainly, until recently when science has become a new god, that there is a higher power that is responsible for all that he witnesses in nature.  The Gospels record Jesus performing miracles of nature that in the Roman context would have been attributed to other gods, i.e. turning water into wine which would have been attributed to Dionysus, commanding the sea which would have been attributed to Poseidon, and calming a storm which would have been attributed to Zeus.  It is as if man sees something in nature and assigns a god or gods to be the cause of that occurrence, and then Jesus comes and proves that the cause man was looking for the entire time was Jesus himself.  This seems like a logical explanation for the origin of Christmas being celebrated on the 25th to me.  As the darkness of death was reigning over the Earth through sin and it appeared that God’s wrath had come against us, God sent his son to be the offering for us that met the requirement of sinless before Him, and so we were given new and eternal life.

            The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world and the Lord of all.  In the image of his birth it is evident that the reason for His first visit to Earth was to die so that the price for sin could be paid and the Way to the Lord God could be opened for those who would have faith and believe that the story of God is true.  Even though there is evidence for the claims of the Bible there is still a necessity for faith.  Not all things in the Bible can be proven with concrete evidence that can be seen with the naked eye.  But then again not all of the claims made by science or any other religion can be either.  Whether one believes in the Gospel’s accounts or in the Big Bang there are still going to be gaps where there is no supporting concrete evidence and so faith must fill those gaps.  It is true that there is no way of proving here on Earth that Christ is risen and seated at the right hand of God in heaven and so as a Christian we exercise faith.  However, let it never be said that the Naturalist who believes that creation can be explained by merely natural properties and was not influenced by a divine being has no faith, but rather let him realize that he cannot prove his hypothesis for creation and so must he too exercise faith if he is to believe that he is right.  Let us never buy into this post-modern ideology either that states that truth is relative and so there is no absolute truth.  If whatever is true for me states that what is true to you is right as well, then this method of thinking is folly.  You and I cannot both be right, it is either one of us is right or neither of us is right.  The real truth is that there is only one truth and  the Christian believes that God is the author of that one truth and so if one’s view of what is truth does not align accurately with God’s truth in the Bible then that person is wrong. 
            If you are a Christian and you read this article my hope and prayer for you is that the Spirit of God has used this information to grow you and strengthen your faith.  I hope that you can use it the next time you are witnessing to another person and that it will bear some fruit in your life.  If you are not a Christian and you read this article my hope and prayer for you that you would know that there is a God who created the universe and that he loves and cares for you more than you can imagine.  The story of Christmas would have never existed if God had chosen to keep Christ with him, but instead because he loved us so, God came to Earth to do what we as humans could never do, and then suffer our rejection of him until we killed him.  I pray that you know that it is no coincidence that you are reading this today, but that God has drawn you to this article so that you can know that he is reaching out to you wishing that you would step out in faith and accept his gift of salvation.    


Friday, December 11, 2015

What Is The Truth Out of the Desert?

CNN's version:

You know I have worked with a lot of Soldiers, I am personally devoted to those who serve. I know they stand between us and the end of our nation everyday holding the line. My husband served 30 years, is a honor graduate of West Point and the Army War College, an Airborne Ranger, Jungle Survival School, whose branch is Infantry. He was awarded the Bronze Star in Afghanistan, and the Legion of Merit. My daughter served 8 years, two sons-in-law... my father, and my grand-father... I have worked with military families, and I love and respect all those who honorably serve, but as in all demographics, there are some who do not serve honorably. I believe that Bergdahl in his youth and immaturity served honorably. I believe after dedicating his life in the exuberance of youth to honorable service, he encountered leadership which was without honor, and out on the battlefield playing their own little movie games. The argument that later that day he was going back to a base where he could have reported his leadership may be true, but, as a Private First Class... no one would have taken any heed to his report. I guarantee you that... My husband once intervened to have a Soldier who had previously served under him, who found himself in a similar situation removed from Afghanistan, after the Soldier reported failed leadership and tried to get the leadership above that failure to act. Instead of action, he was threatened with sexual assault and fratricide, and transferred to the unit whose leadership he had made the report about. I could tell you a hundred such stories... and this man who reported this breech of honor was a Master Sergent. This young man never had any hope of any reports up the chain of command. I think if he had reported, he would not be alive today to stand trial for "his crimes." The United States Army is trying desperately to right its' ship... and as far as the General featured in this news piece... well, the Army has self examined and determined that upper leadership has been at the root of dishonorable acts in the United States Army in recent years. Look at all the generals who have recently been called to accountability. I think the Army should really very carefully evaluate the true state of affairs in Bergdahl's unit, and they have already admitted not all was as it should be... and fess up, then do the right thing. The United States Army recruited and signed up this young man, taught him the Seven Army Values, but emphasized "Loyalty" over honor... They still do.