One never knows where evil lurks! The terrorists of 9-11 most likely walked or rode bikes by our home in Venice, Florida. This was the beginning of their journey to murder as many people as possible and to die.
Venice is a peaceful, quiet place situated on the Gulf of Mexico in the U.S.A. Families enjoy the beautiful beaches that are quiet and serene, especially as the sun begins to set in the West. Yet, evil was among them.
Late one evening, my husband and I walked down to take a look at the sunset. A group of young people from Italy were there. As we listened to them speak in Italian, we asked them if they were tourists. They replied, “No, we are training at the Venice Airport.” It was not uncommon to have people from around the world, who in good faith wanted to learn to fly in the U.S
Yet, no one would have dreamed that evil was lurking there behind the controls of the small aircraft. The pilot trainee was learning to fly in order to murder not only Americans, but thousands from different countries… even people from their own country, who were simply doing business here. On leaving Venice, they planned to go on to other airports in Florida to learn to fly large aircraft. Coming to the U.S. through Hamburg, Germany, they blended in and were like many other foreigners who had trained in Venice.
We were told that the employees at the airport were kind to the foreigners and even offered for two of them to stay in their home until they could find a place of their own during training. Because they were so rude to the employee’s wife, they were asked to leave.
A Christian friend of ours was a flight instructor at the Venice Airport. Unfortunately, he had been given the assignment to train these men. After much frustration with them, he decided to complain to the airport managers. The men wanted to learn to fly, but oddly did not want to take instruction on landing. Another instructor took over. Neither the Venice Airport or local authorities in the area had been warned by federal agents about the men’s possible connection to the terrorist group Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden. Yet, here they were in the small town of Venice, ready and willing to learn, take their time and then strike like great, poisonous snakes for their Jihadist cause.
Do we remember their names? No…a thousand times NO! Their names are not worth remembering!
We do remember, however, the honorable, decent human beings who were the first responders, volunteers, and people from around the world who cared about humanity.
We remember and pray for those men and women who are still sick from exposure at the 9-11 sites and the families of those who will forever grieve here and around the world.
We give HONOR to the victims of 9-11. (Slide presentation)
Jesus had just performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. People around this event had actually seen this miracle happen after Lazarus had been buried four days. There was no doubt about it. Throughout His ministry on earth there had been many miracles: water to wine, healing the leper, the blind and the sick.
The word of this particular miracle spread quickly and when Jesus found a donkey to ride through the streets, the crowds came out to meet him in a frenzy. Surely this man was going to save them from the Romans and become their King and Messiah.
They called out to him, giving him the name of not only “king”, but also “Prophet, Son of David, the Messiah, and the Hope of Israel.” There was great excitement and expectation that things would change for them through this man who did great and wondrous things. The crowd threw down palm branches before him as they would a great leader or someone they were ready to make their ruler. They shouted “Hosannah!” Many Christian churches reenact this event on Palm Sunday.
Since previous posts have been about LENT and MAUNDY THURSDAY, perhaps it would be good to put into sequence the main Christian days of the Easter Holy Week prior to Easter:
- Ash Wednesday (Ashes placed on the forehead for prayer, fasting and sorrow for sins in repentance) Job, Jerimiah, Daniel, Mathew and Luke are a few scriptures where this is described.
- Palm Sunday (Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem)
- Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper, washing of disciple’s feet, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and the arrest by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin )
- Good Friday (The Crucifixion)
- Easter Sunday (The Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah)
The Jews knew the Holy Scriptures. David had taken an oath to Saul that he would make certain that the descendants would not be destroyed. (1st Samuel 26) Jesus Christ, being from the line of David, could possibly in their minds be the Messiah or Mashiach which means the “anointed” one.
Original Hebrew Word: מָשִׁ֫יחַ
Phonetic Spelling: (maw-shee’-akh)
Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and that He had not come to be an earthly king, but to be a Savior and the Messiah for Whom the Jews had been waiting.
Many Jews, even today, have through the study of the Holy Scriptures, both old and new, have found Christ to be their Messiah. These are often referred to as Messianic Jews. (For personal stories of Messianic Jews, see the link after the video.)
VIDEO (Turn up sound)
Would things have been different for Jesus had Pilate listened to his wife? Could He have avoided the terrible death of crucifixion? Pilate’s wife came to him, pleading that he not harm Jesus. In fact, she said for him to have nothing to do with Him. This was a strong statement. “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” Matthew 27:19
It appeared that she believed strongly in her dreams and what they may mean. She also “suffered” in them, so the dreams must have been terrifying. Regardless of how she got the word, she knew her husband might make a grave mistake. She had to warn him! She also calls Jesus an “innocent (or just) man”.
Who exactly was Pilate? Better known as Pontius Pilate, he was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD26-36. He had served under Emperor Tiberius and according to various writing was probably a Roman equestrian. (The Equestrian Order is the Plebeian nobility. … Also referred to as the Equites, or Knights. In Roman antiquity, these were the wealthy, landed Plebeian merchant class granted a “Public Horse” by the State so they could act as the Republic’s cavalry. Wikipedia)
Pilate’s position gave him authority to grant or deny certain requests by the people. Pressure was building on Pilate from the crowds of people and the traditions of the time of releasing from prison someone on certain days. In this case, the mob wanted Barabbas to be released and Jesus taken.
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Matt.27:24
On releasing Barabbas to the mob and giving them Jesus to crucify, Pilate not only ignored the wise words of his wife, but made a terrible prophecy to future generations. He publicly and ceremoniously washes his hands and calls out to the people, “ His blood be on us, and on our children.” Did he have any idea what he was really saying? Probably not, but he wanted to rid himself of all responsibility. One can imagine what his conversation was like with his wife that evening!
Sometimes we are warned by those around us when we have major decisions to make…to be careful…to reconsider. We can choose to ignore and rush out on the limb because of fear; lack of self confidence…or even the pressures being brought about by work or relationships. It is an age-old problem for all of us.
Back to our previous question: Could Jesus have avoided the Crucifixion if Pilate had listened to his wife?
Maybe He could have for that moment, but not in the long run for God had a plan to save the world from sin and give forgiveness and meaning to our lives. He had told of this plan to the generations before by way of their prophets. The betrayal of Christ by Judas (discussed in the previous blog) and leading up to the events of the crucifixion, had been clearly told in what is now the Old Testament Holy Scriptures. We are told in the New Testament, “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled” (Matt. 26:56).
If you are a Jewish reader, who has dismissed these prophecies as pertaining to Christ, Who you do not believe to be the Messiah, I challenge you to read the prophecies and their fulfillment written below… and ask God to show you His truth.
Jesus, Himself, had shown the Jews that followed Him that they had been shown by the prophets His death and purpose: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27).
Let’s take a look at a few of the many Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament: (Taken from Messianic Prophecies bible.com)
1. SOLD FOR THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER by Judas
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12 And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.
2. THE MONEY CAST TO THE POTTER
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:13 Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:5-7 And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.
3. THE DISCIPLES FORSOOK HIM
Prophecy: Zechariah 13:7 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
4. SMITTEN AND SPIT UPON
Prophecy: Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:30 And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.
5. DUMB BEFORE HIS ACCUSERS
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12-14 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.
6. WOUNDED AND BRUISED
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:26, 29 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified. . . . And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
7. HANDS AND FEET PIERCED
Prophecy: Psalm 22:16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
8. CRUCIFIED WITH THIEVES
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Fulfillment: Mark 15:27-28 And they crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 (And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”)
9. PRAYED FOR HIS PERSECUTORS
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (emphasis mine)
Fulfillment: Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
10. GARMENTS PARTED AND LOTS CAST
Prophecy: Psalm 22:18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
Fulfillment: John 19:23-24 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 They said therefore to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
11. HIS FORSAKEN CRY
Prophecy: Psalm 22:1 For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? “that is, “ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ?”
12. GALL AND VINEGAR GIVEN HIM
Prophecy: Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Fulfillment: John 19:28-29 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch ofhyssop, and brought it up to His mouth.
13. HIS SIDE PIERCED
Prophecy: Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
Fulfillment: John 19:34-37 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. 35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” Not a bone of Him shall be broken. “ 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
14. DARKNESS OVER THE LAND
Prophecy: Amos 8:9 “And it will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “That I shall make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. (The Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset. This would make the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour near three o’clock.)
15. BURIED IN A RICH MAN’S TOMB
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:57-60 And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given over to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Perhaps in her dream, the wife of Pilate saw all these things that would come to pass. She knew this innocent man’s crucifixion was nothing for which she wanted her husband to be responsible. Yet, if it had not been Pilate who turned a deaf ear to the pleas of his wife, there would have been another who would have condemned Him. God, the Father, had a plan for the world and for His Son to be the Redeemer and the Messiah. If she had seen more, she would have known that her terrified dream had a magnificent ending… the Resurrection after the third day. She would have seen that His followers recognized him and that He showed Thomas the nail scars on his hands.
Jesus said to Thomas, “… reach hither thy finger and behold My hands…”
VIDEO: turn up sound and share in a peaceful worship of a Greek Orthodox Christian Byzantine voices for Lent
They both were dying by crucifixion, on either side of Jesus, because they had been condemned to die for their crimes. Interestingly, only one of them was able to look at the facts…his own guilt and the innocence of the man hanging with him Who claimed to be the Messiah, God’s Son. He must have seen at least some of the miracles that Jesus had done or heard His message of God’s love and forgiven. Now was the thief’s only chance to make things right and he was not going to get it from those who stood mocking them. He knew that he was shortly going to meet God.
The other man was demanding that Jesus prove He was the Messiah and bring them down from the crosses. ” But the other (thief) rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:40-43
How often we want for God to prove Himself. We demand of Him to meet our needs. It is often those last hours or when we think we are not going to make it out of a tragedy closing in on us, that we finally begin to pray. God could ask us in that moment, “Where have you been all these years?” He might even say, “I waited for you to share your life and thoughts with me, but I never heard from you. Now you are asking.”
It appears that Jesus looked into the heart of the man who admitted his sin… and made a request that he might be with Jesus in heaven…or paradise. Jesus granted his request, making him a promise. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Think about it. This thief had no time to do good works, which is what many people are counting upon to get them to heaven. He had no one praying for him or helping him in any way. Neither, it appears, had he made it a habit to attend church or the synagogue. He only happened to be side by side with the Son of God…and somehow he knew it.
This is simply what God is asking of us…to take a good, long look at ourselves. As we spiritually stand side by side with Jesus, humbly confess and make a request that He not forget us, whenever our time may be, and to bring us to that heavenly place that He says He has gone to prepare for us.
For contemplation and self-examination in this season of Lent. (performed at Lutheran Hall in Tokyo)
Throughout history, there has been religious groups spreading their mayhem into lands where innocent people have been brutalized. One only needs to read the Holy Scriptures to find what happened when the Jews took revenge on their enemies. The Muslims invaded territory after territory with slaughter. The Christians were also brutal during The Crusades. On and on it goes if we look into Genghis Khan and tribal warfare around the world.
Christians were burned at the stake during the Inquisition. Today, in the Middle East, they are being murdered for their faith. Jews were murdered by the millions in World War II.
There has never been a peaceful world since sin and evil began. Will there ever be peace or will the fury remain? We’ll attempt to answer this at the end of this blog.
Great anxiety is happening as nations in our modern day time deal with the potential of nuclear warfare and even the possibility of space warfare as more deadly inventions are developed. Should people be more than a little anxious…you bet they should be! Who then is responsible for the fright that people feel? Is it the actions of a new administration which swears to protect the people? Is it our own imaginations and thoughts that pity the people who try to flee to a safer place regardless of their religious beliefs and actions of tyrants?
An article was written recently that had a number of responses from readers. A reader challenged the author with the following words about the raw nerves and anxiety of people concerning extreme vetting of refugees who may or may not be Muslim because the entire world is worried about terrorism in all forms. He wrote the following, giving specific examples of why extreme vetting may be the only answer to finding out the motives of people who come to a country other than their own:
“…the US isn’t responsible for anxiety about Muslim refugees. Who is actually responsible? People such as Somali Muslim migrant Mohammad Barry, who in February 2016 stabbed multiple patrons at a restaurant owned by an Arab Christian; Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghan Muslim migrant who in September 2016 set off bombs in New York City and New Jersey; Arcan Cetin, a Turkish Muslim migrant who in September 2016 murdered five people in a mall in Burlington, Washington; Dahir Adan, another Somali Muslim migrant who in October 2016 stabbed mall shoppers in St. Cloud while screaming ‘Allahu akbar’; and Abdul Razak Artan, yet another Somali Muslim migrant who in November 2016 injured nine people with car and knife attacks at Ohio State University. What’s more, all of the Islamists who murdered 130 people in Paris in November 2015 had just entered Europe as refugees. In February 2015, the Islamic State boasted it would soon flood Europe with as many as 500,000 Muslim refugees. The Lebanese Education Minister said in September 2015 that there were 20,000 jihadists among the refugees in camps in his country. Meanwhile, 80% of migrants who have come to Europe claiming to be fleeing the war in Syria aren’t really from Syria at all. So why are they claiming to be Syrian and streaming into Europe, and now the U.S. as well? An Islamic State operative gave the answer when he boasted in September 2015, shortly after the migrant influx began, that among the flood of refugees, 4,000 Islamic State jihadists had already entered Europe. He explained their purpose: ‘It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah.’ These Muslims were going to Europe in the service of that caliphate: ‘They are going like refugees,’ he said, but they were going with the plan of sowing blood and mayhem on European Crusader streets. As he told this to journalists, he smiled and said, ‘Just wait.’ On May 10, 2016, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s DGSI internal intelligence agency, said that the Islamic State was using migrant routes through the Balkans to get jihadists into Europe…”
Most people that I know have a great deal of empathy for those people caught in war and are persecuted for their beliefs. They are not against people for their religious beliefs as long as they are ones of peace and tolerance. Unless the reasons for coming to America or any other country are for these reasons, people neither want to be enslaved to another religion or murdered for their beliefs. We are all responsible to not allow that to happen. Unfortunately, it will be hard for us to know exactly who those with evil in their thoughts really are unless we actually hear or observe someone spouting these thoughts and goals. We’ve been told “See something…say something.” Otherwise, we are at the mercy of those professionals in our countries who watch out for us.
Courtesy of Phil Schmidt
So is there any hope? Will there be peace on earth? It begins with us for certain and every individual. The Holy Scriptures tell us some disheartening news:
“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.” Matthew 24
“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” Proverbs 12:20
To Those Christians who Serve in our Armed Forces for a strong America, we honor you this Christmas season as we remember the birth of the Savior, Jesus.
To those Jewish military who celebrate Hanukkah, thank you for your service. ( Hanukkah is the Jewish festival, lasting eight days from the 25th day of Kislev (in December) and commemorating the re-dedication of the Temple in 165 BC by the Maccabees after its desecration by the Syrians. It is marked by the successive kindling of eight lights.)
To all veterans everywhere, we honor you for your service to our country.
Video 1: The U.S.Air Force Band Holiday Flash at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center)
They are brave…bold…courageous…and sometimes just for fun to show love of country and patriotism to a very big audience. Want to try this in the New Year? Thanks to the U.S. Navy Seals (Leap Frogs) who train for everything to be ready on sea and in the air! America Strong!
Video 2 Members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, jump into Neyland Stadium to kick off the Orange vs. White UT Vols Spring Scrimmage football game as part of Knoxville Navy Week, April 16, 2016
A few years back, I wrote some words about a funny and intelligent man named Ben Stein, who is a Jew. I am a Christian and I thought I would resurrect some of what he, as a Jew, feels about Christmas.
First, I will do a little comparison. Mr. Stein is famous and a writer. (He is the one in the Santa hat.) I am not famous but also a writer, retired educator,wife, mother, Grandmother called Nanny, and a photographer, who believes God gives me a thought here and an inspiration there.
We are both celebrating. Mr. Stein celebrates Hanukkah and I celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Savior and the Messiah. Ben may be still investigating that point. I hope so.
Yes, it is only a few days until Christmas Eve. The door is open and all is beautiful inside our church, St. James Episcopal Church in Florida. The bright red poinsettias flank the altar and the tall candles will be lit. A statue of Mother Mary, holding Jesus, is off to the side.
Mr. Stein may be worshiping at his synagogue. I’m certain it will be also inspiring.
At this Advent time , I celebrate the birth of my Savior and look for His return as He promised. One thing for certain that Mr. Stein and I have in common at this holiday season is what is important and has value. He has written about his appreciation for the sacrifices made by the military, the police, the firemen, medics, and others who serve. We both hold them in great esteem.
One of the beauties of this season is the Star of Bethlehem that shown over the manger long ago. My kitchen and porch have a beautiful Moravian star to remind us and the neighbors of the real meaning of Christmas.
It is also good to remind ourselves of those men and women who do not want to destroy all that Christmas represents even if it is not their own faith.
In 2005, Mr.Ben Stein had this to say about Christmas to CBS News:
“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees “Christmas trees”. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. “
As I put up my manger scene, Mr. Stein, I dedicate this video to you. Here’s hoping that you have had a very Happy Hanukkah!
Never stop writing. For the rest of us, a little education on this Jewish celebration is a good thing.
Forty days and Forty nights is the time for Christian believers to observe Lent.
Lent is a time of reflection, prayer, and repentance. We at Boyer Writes will take this time to bring to you a special thought or two during Lent. It is our hope and prayer that it will speak to someone who is reading and seeking more of Jesus Christ in their lives.
We begin with the book of Job, found in the Old Testament of the Holy Scriptures. We ask the question why a man who loved God with all his heart would be allowed to be tested in every area of his life? Satan said to God that Job would certainly deny Him and even curse Him if the things he held dear were taken away. What were those things?
- His wealth and possessions
- His family
- His health
This many years later, those things do not sound any different from what the modern day person may cherish. Job’s many possessions were stolen by bandits; a storm killed his children and much more!
By this illustration, it seems that God does allow testing. Do we understand it? Not really…at least not fully. Why would God allow something terrible to happen to a believer in order to prove Satan wrong? We may not get an answer to that question until we meet God face to face.
We often hear people say that God wanted to take someone when there was an accident or sickness. I never believed that a loving God deliberately brings evil. He does allow man to have free will and we suffer the consequences to our actions or the actions of others. Health issues often overtake us because of pollution, the environment, or disease. The natural result of all these things is inevitable. Difficulties are a part of life that can not be easily explained.
Job did what most people would not do or say : Job arose , tore his robe, shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
We won’t get ahead of ourselves, but if you want to peek to the end of the book, you will find out how God made everything right for Job. God would reward him greater than he had ever been rewarded.
At this time of Lent, there will be readers who are going through some extremely hard times and perhaps doubts about faith. One may say that he/she could never have this kind of relationship with God. This is understandable, but sometimes in the middle of the trials, we must wait and seek…resting and believing that He will find a way to make us understand. The answer that we look for is probably not in the dramatic or what we even expect…but in a small still voice……a gentle whisper. (1st Kings 19)To best view the video below, turn on the sound and enlarge.
So often people talk about the Christmas tree as a religious symbol. To some it may be, but it is not. The decorating of a tree at Christmas goes back many years throughout the world, coinciding with the traditions of Christmas, but has no real religious significance to Christians. That may be a surprise to some of our readers. We are glad, however, that we can enjoy this beautiful, decorated work of art each year in our homes, shops and even in our churches.
The True Meaning of Advent: In this world where darkness would destroy peaceful living, we look for the LIGHT to come. Advent is not only about the birth of Jesus Christ, but about the waiting for his return again. For He has told us in John 14:3 , “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” We are to search our souls; ask forgiveness and be ready for His return. He is to come as a thief in the night.
My thanks to a very talented staff at Jacquie Lawson and to Gayle in California who sent this card to me a Christmas or two ago. If you are young at heart and have a love for the Savior and this Advent season, you will love this in Boyer Writes Advent Moments. Gather your children or grandchildren around to view this card. The ornaments on this Christmas tree do tell the story of the real meaning of Christmas. We hope you enjoy it.
According to the AP:
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front and the Qalamon Liberation Front still control Maaloula, an ancient village that is home to two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria. Rebels captured this village on Saturday and it is reported that nuns are trying to find safe places for the orphans that they care for. Priests are also being tortured by extremist Muslim rebels.
Situated about 40 miles northeast of Damascus, Maaloula had until recently been firmly under the regime’s grip despite sitting in the middle of rebel-held territory east and north of the capital.
The village was a major tourist attraction before the civil war. Some of its residents still speak a version of Aramaic, a biblical language believed to have been used by Jesus. Maaloula is known as the last surviving place where Western Aramaic (Aramaic of Jesus) is still spoken.
Some History facts:
The savage attacks on the village of Maaloula highlights fears among Syrian Christians that the alternative to Assad’s regime — which is made up mostly of Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam — would not tolerate minority religions. The spotlight now is on the deep-seated fears that many of Syria’s religious minorities harbor about the growing role of Islamic extremists on the rebel side in Syria’s civil war. This very fear should be a focus that every Senate, House Member and Americans should be asking when looking at Syria. Would we enable those terrorizing the Syrian Christians to take control in this Civil War?
The video below shows scenes from Maaloula Monastaries.
We all want to be accepted. It really doesn’t matter who we are or what we have in common with someone else…just accept us for who we are and don’t worry about the rest! Is this true? It seems to be the socially and politically correct thing in the world today. Just accept everyone…or most everything. We can get philosophical and remind ourselves of some of the things that we think of as acceptance:
ACCEPTANCE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS:
- Catholic Christians.. Understanding beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, acceptance is key to being a committed and devoted catholic. That may include family planning; going to confession; repenting of sins and church attendance. This also is true of the emphasis other Christian groups place on their particular brand of Christian faith and commitment.
- Jews… some similar beliefs in that they accept the Ten Commandments as a way to live and have a good and fulfilling life (Mcdowell and Stewart, 1983).
- Muslims.…acceptance of Allah as their higher being and the teachings of the Koran.
Whatever a person’s religious beliefs, they believe that acceptance of these parts of their faith is important to show structure and commitment in everyday life. Let’s look at some other types of acceptance?
PERSONAL ACCEPTANCE How people accept one another has a direct effect on the individual’s self-esteem and well-being. Does this have to be true? We are told that this need for approval will have a direct impact on a person’s life. Some may even cause psychological disorders. Examples are: approval by parents; acceptance by work associates; peer pressure in schools ; living up the religious up-bringing or teachings and many more relationships.
We have to ask ourselves a very important question.
Is total acceptance what we really want and is it good for us? On the surface, it seems to be a good thing…but maybe not.
- Is it best to be totally accepted by a peer group, whether work; at school, or socially? What are their values?
- Are there dangers to relationships that keeps us in bondage to a person… such as a battered wife who feels there is no recourse? We could elaborate on this where a male is concerned.
- Is staying true to religious tenants that do not bring us to a peaceful, loving God, what we really need or want?
All of this seems complicated…and often we make it so. The thing that is most important is the ACCEPTANCE OF ONE’S SELF. After all, we live with ourselves moment by moment. We are told that we should not be so self-centered. Why not? Of course, we do not mean self-centered to the neglect of others or so wrapped-up in ourselves that no one else matters.
“Self acceptance (or self-centered, as we mean it) is being happy with who you are now. It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this moment.” If you find that things in your life need change, then work toward that…evaluating WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.
ACCEPTANCE…NOT RESIGNATION People may asked how they can accept something or someone that has brought great pain in their life…death of a loved one; a divorce; sickness. All these things may not be able to be changed. They are what life has given. There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. Realization that one can not change the past or the sadness of the present has a lot to do with acceptance. This is living in reality…not in fantasy or wishful thinking.
“Accepting whatever the loss is, does not mean you are forgetting the loss or that you won’t ever feel sad again, but it’s a turning point that means better things are to come.”
All of this is just food for thought as you may be asking yourself how important is acceptance to you. You may also be thinking about relationships, beliefs, and what works for you in your life. Some things may worry you.
There is only One who fully accepts us just as we are and gives us the courage to face life daily. We are told in the Holy Scriptures ( Philippians 4:6) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In this video, we see that there are some unusual bonds of acceptance…and just as in humans…those bonds that seem like a good thing may turn out to give an outcome not anticipated. I watched this video several times and heard words that I think also have to do with human behavior when it comes to acceptance…and a need for a relationship. You will hear these words in the dialog: obsession, bonds, controlling, complex emotions and intimacy. All of these pull us into a need for acceptance…to our good or to our detriment. In your own life, you will have to be the judge.
Readers around the world may not understand some of the rituals of the Christian Church. Because today is called Ash Wednesday, it may be good to help in this understanding. The observance even varies from one Christian church to another.
“Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults.”
I think there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we all have faults, even if we do not always call them sins. Most people know when something is considered a real sin. So, why in the modern world… when we are asked to think on the positive, should we set aside 40 days for reflection, prayer, and being sorry for things done? As mentioned, this day begins the forty days of Lent. Some take it lightly and joke about giving up candy or a latte for this period of time. To others it is much more a serious matter.
Job, who had suffered so many unbelievable things, said the following:
. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6)
The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer 6:26).
The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness to His Father in heaven for the people of the world.
How does Ash Wednesday get its name? It comes from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of believers as a sign of repentance before God. These ashes typically are gathered from the palms used the year before at Palm Sunday, which is a celebration of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. The palms are burned to make the ashes. Some think of this as only a Roman Catholic practice, but it is also celebrated each year by those in the Episcopal and Anglican churches, as well as Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and some Baptist denominations.
Does this Ash Wednesday, or any other Christian observance, forgive sins?
No, of course not, for it is not what we as believers do that forgives and gives eternal life. Only Christ, our Savior, who died for our sins…taking our place…can forgive. He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus Christ was not just another prophet as some of the major religions believe. His resurrection from the dead makes Him different. His disciples who observed Him die on the cross also saw Him three days later very much alive. Thomas, who was much like any of us, wanted to see proof. He asked to actually see the nail prints in His hands and the scar on His side. Yes, the resurrection, which is celebrated by Christians at Easter, is the only hope for our own resurrection. The Apostle Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
By the way, for anyone who has not studied Paul’s writings in the New Testament, I would suggest that you do so. Paul, first known as Saul and a powerful member of a Jewish group, had persecuted the Christians and actually held their robes while they were stoned. God had other plans for him and later he found Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Hopefully, this writing has helped our non-Christian readers understand better some of the rituals of the Christian church. Persecution of Christians is happening around the world today, especially the Coptic Christians.
It is important to pray for peace and understanding. I am certain there are those in cyber-world who are searching for the truth. You are wrestling, but God also has a plan for you. Like it or not, we must remember that we are dust and to dust we will return. It is important to be ready.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write to us at Boyer Writes. firstname.lastname@example.org We will try our best to answer any questions.
VIDEO FOR ASH WEDNESDAY AND THE BEGINNING OF LENT
We pulled this inter-active Christmas card from the 2010 writings. Hope you enjoy it again this year. Compliments of Ashland University in Oregon. Merry Christmas!
Click on the link and follow directions:
When we talk about character traits that we hope for in ourselves or in our children, one does not often hear the word character mentioned. Perhaps this is because character is a somewhat elusive achievement. In fact, “Character” has many meanings. A few of these are:
- In computers: any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data
- one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer.
- In printing … a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet.
- In literature or the theater… the character or role representing a personality type (Sometimes we say a person is out of character)
The Moral and Ethical Uses of the word Character
- A moral or ethical quality (person of fine, honorable character)
- Qualities of courage, integrity (It takes character to face up to the challenge)
- A reputation ( as a stain on one’s character)
- Behavior ( as a suspicious character or an unusual character)
- An odd, eccentric or unusual person ( He is quite the character)
None of the above achieves character, but are simply a definition of a usage of the word. When it comes to the Moral and Ethical uses of the word character, it becomes a bit elusive, whether good or bad? Can character be changed? Is to have worthy character or reputation something to be sought after in a life time? Does it matter?
Is it possible that everything we allow into our character is like an engraving tool…chiseling away or stamping into our very souls who we are becoming?
It is quite complex as character is also individuality. It is personality which makes up the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. It refers to ethical standards, moral qualities, and principles of a person. We often say a person has a sterling character.
We are differentiated from others by our individuality. From the day we are born, we are acquiring these differences from one another. However, personality is greatly different from character. Thomas Paine once said ” Reputation is what men and women think of us, but character is what God and angels know of us.”
Character is the soul of the matter. Perhaps character is also made up of the experiences we have encountered in life. For instance, I read this in the Holy Scriptures ( Romans 5):
“Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand…knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us……because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
According to this reading, whatever we may be going through in life, we should, with God’s help, stay the course of endurance. Through this endurance, we then begin to develop the character that God wants in us…and perhaps others may see in us. I do not think that most admired people are aware of the character that they possess. It is simply a part of them. The beauty in the endurance is that it produces something positive….hope. All of us need hope. The ultimate promise is that the hope we are given will not disappoint us.
SUFFERING-ENDURANCE-CHARACTER-HOPE THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT
- The world needs men and women. . .
- who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond;
who put character above wealth; who are larger than their vocations;
- who do not hesitate to take risks; who will be as honest in small affairs as in greater; who will make no compromise with wrong;
- whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
- who are true to their friends through good and bad, in adversity as well as in prosperity; who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for truth when it is unpopular. (source unknown)
- You may say that you are not a great Apostle of Christ or a Mother Theresa who had great character and purpose in life. Character is like cream in the milk. It rises to the top. These persons did not set out to be known for their character. They set out to be God’s servant and to do His will in their lives just one step at a time…and toward one person at a time. It is the character development that only God can give as we surrender our lives to Him.
Our vision of this place is one of peace with Mary, who is expecting a child, and Joseph, who is trying to find a place for her to sleep for the night. Here, in this little town, she gives birth to the Son of God, Jesus.
How different is this town of Bethlehem today because of the political unrest between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves at this Advent of the reality of Bethlehem today.
(After viewing, click on the Birthplace of Christ for beautiful scenes of the church built over the historical site of His birth.)
In any or all languages, the Lord has come.
His name is WONDERFUL COUNSELOR
THE MIGHTY GOD
PRINCE OF PEACE
EMANUEL..God with us
The MESSIAH (Isaiah 53)
….Rejoice O Israel.
The above video is the beautiful voice of Enya from Ireland. Part is sung in English and part in Irish (Gaeilge or Gaelic) is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating spoken by the Celts in Ireland, the Highlanders of Scotland, and on the Isle of Man.
John the Baptist was a man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the coming of the Lord”. He called for repentance.
He baptized; saying, ” “I baptize you with water, but after me One mightier than I is coming, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose;”
As John met Jesus at the River Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and a voice called from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus, in His coming, would be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He would be the “Bridge over Troubled Waters” for those who looked to Him as Savior and Lord.
How many of us have needed this Savior, this Messiah to gently take us by the hand and lead us over those waters of life? At this Advent, we remember John the Baptist who was not fearful to speak out; who knew his mission in life was to go before the One to Come. He had a message: God was sending His Son to save mankind.
John’s life was one of obedience. A life that was finally cut short by those who would have his head severed from his body. Yet, even in this…God has made his voice heard throughout the centuries and throughout the world. ” …One will come after me…”
CLICK HERE and then click again, as directed, enlarging the screen for best viewing.
This is Advent, no matter where you are. For some of the Christian believers, it is holding a rifle, living in the dust, and being away from those they love most. The Chaplains, who serve those Christians, move along the lines beside them. My husband, who served as a Navy Chaplain in Desert Storm, and his dearest friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, know this loneliness. Today, Boyer Writes honors those who stand watch as the Marines laid 24, 000 wreaths on the graves of Arlington yesterday. God’s blessing to each of you.
PRAYER: “Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our Armed Forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be ; through Jesus Christ Our lord. Amen” (The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, p. 823)
My thanks to Margie who shared this special poem.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Behold is born to you this day, A Saviour, Christ the King! Out of the root of Jessie…out of the line of David….Jesus, the Messiah came.
Isaiah 7, verse 14: Al right then, the Lord Himself will choose the sign. Look. The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (God with us).
THE PROPHECY FULFILLED
The first Canadian Christmas Carol was the Huron Carol written in the 1643 by Jean du Brefeuf.
Notice the words early Native Canadians would understand
The Huron Carol
Twas in the moon of wintertime
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wond’ring hunters heard the hymn:
Jesus, your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.
O, harken to the angels’ word,
Do not decline
To heed the message which you heard:
The Child Divine,
As they proclaim, has come this morn
Of Mary pure. Let us adore.
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.
Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp’d His beauty ’round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high:
Jesus, your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.
The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on
The helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before Him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus, your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.
O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heav’n
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy;
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
Jesus, your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.
Today the Russian Chuch serves not only the Russian community but also Bulgarians, Serbs, Coptic Christians and other Orthodox worshippers who do not have their own church in Geneva.
The Beautiful Music of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church ( Click below and then to the men’s chorus shown next.)
Wonderful Male Choral Voices
The word “blasphemy” sounds old-fashioned to the western ear. It is defined in the dictionary as :
- Profane or contemptuous speech, writing, or action concerning God or anything held as divine
- Any remark or action held to be irreverent or disrespectful
So much of the world speaks in irreverent or disrespectful tones and words. It does not justify it, but most people do not feel that they have to defend their God.
Today in a world that values the freedom of speech and the freedom to write and advertise, could people actually be put to death for what is considered blasphemy? At this holiday season, a man who represents an atheist organization has contracted a large billboard on which depicts the three wise men riding toward the Christmas star. The bold words proclaim it a myth. His purpose, is to “educate, and to bring the closet atheists” out in the open. He obviously relies on and approves of freedom of speech to express his view-point. However, if he lived in certain parts of the world, he would be arrested for blasphemy. In fact, he denounced the three major religions openly. Perhaps he should watch his back. We think he has the right to say what he likes…to proclaim his unbelief…but others do not.
A little history:
“Blasphemy against God and the Church was a crime punishable by death in much of the world, and remains punishable by death in some parts to this day. Britain’s last blasphemy execution was 18-year-old Thomas Aikenhead. He was executed for the crime in 1667 for saying on a cold night, “I wish I were in that place Ezra calls hell so I could warm myself.”
George Rosie wrote in the newspaper The Scotsman, “The killing of Thomas Aikenhead, like the hounding of Salman Rushdi for the same ‘offence,’ was a disgrace. . . a prime example of a God-fixated state killing a man in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea.”
In the 1600’s, the church ruled. Personal freedoms of thought were not a privilege. We are now in the 21st century and still such harshness in religious faith exists. I have often wondered why anyone, of any faith, would feel that he had to kill a person in defense of his God? Could God not strike a person dead if He so chose? Perhaps He is waiting until He comes in Great Judgment. Perhaps He understands the frailty of his creation and has mercy. Just perhaps.
“Stopping an idea” Do people believe they have the right to stop an idea? It appears so.
One woman who had a dispute with other women is now fighting for her life. Unless pardoned by a court, she will die in Pakistan by hanging….yes, in this 21st century.
Blasphemy is still a word that is alive and well in certain areas. It is more than taking God’s name in vain…as many do. How often do we hear a person exclaim “Jesus Christ!” when something goes wrong. This name of the one we love and whose name we honor and celebrate at this Christmas time is on the lips of those who would blaspheme….not honor. Yet, we leave this condemnation to God. We do not rush out to kill. That may be because we realize that we were guilty already for the sins in our lives and Christ came to take that sin. Disapproval may be in order, but how dare we set ourselves up as a judge against others. God is powerful enough and ready to defend His Own Name. Click to view: Video
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