When Losing is Winning

[This is a continuation to my last post, “It’s Been Awhile”]

serenity-prayer

[Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)]

 Dear Blog Readers,

An utterly bizarre and atypical sequence of events happened in the world of baseball on September 28, 2016. On that night, and almost at the same time, the RED SOX LOST to the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, and they WON the American League Eastern Division Championship! How on earth did the RED SOX lose and win at the same time? This is how it went down: In order to win the East Championship 1. the RED SOX had to beat the Yankees or 2. the Orioles had to beat the Blue Jays and put them out of contention for first place. The Jays would still have a chance to win the Wild Card which they did]. There are other scenarios, but I won’t go there. I’ll just say, the Orioles helped the RED SOX WIN the Division, though the Orioles did not want to help the RED SOX, by beating the Blue Jays. This unusual moment in baseball history is truly one for the record books.

At first, the SOX players didn’t know what to think or do. How could they celebrate when they lost to their “favorite” nemesis in such a heart-wrenching way: It was the bottom of the ninth inning, the SOX were ahead 3 to 0, the bases were loaded with Yankees, Mark Teixeira was at the plate and he hit a walk-off GRAND SLAM and the RED SOX experienced a crushing 3 to 4 defeat at the hands of their longtime rivals. How can anybody celebrate after that?

papi-celibrating

Walking to the Visitors’ Clubhouse, the RED SOX players and coaches did not look at all like champs, with their “What-just-happened” dejected faces. The clubhouse was made ready for the Boston RED SOX to celebrate winning the division, with heavy plastic covering the walls [and everything else that needed protection], large bins of Champagne and beer on ice, championship caps and T-shirts to wear, and even goggles to protect their eyes. [The Champagne and beer sting the eyes when the players spray each other with them. I don’t mind the beer spraying, but Champagne? C’MON MAN!] How on earth could the Sox get into celebration-mode? Their manager, John Farrell, got everyone together and shared some wonderful words of wisdom. He said something like this: “Don’t let one inning ruin what we’ve accomplished and take away the fact that we are Division Champions.” That’s all Farrell’s team needed to hear to get into a partying mood. The Yankees’ Visitors’ Clubhouse will never be the same.

I have a saying: “BASEBALL IS LIFE IS BASEBALL!” I have learned many very important life lessons from the game of baseball. The lesson I am learning from the baseball game played on September 28th is NOT TO DWELL ON MY LOSSES, BUT TO BE THANKFUL FOR MY WINS: 1. my loving family and friends, 2. the abilities I still can do, 3. being able to live at home with my loving family, 4. my caring church family, 5. caring professionals who work with me to help me get better, as well as the medications that are helping, 6. that I’m growing stronger, 7. my ability to write and encourage others through my blog, 8 the encouragement I receive from the responses to my blog posts, 9. THE JOY OF WATCHING RED SOX IN THE POST SEASON!!!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am aready perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus has made me His own” [Philippians 3:12

I also am learning NOT TO DWELL ON THE RECENT PAST AND MY STRUGGLES WITH DEPRESSION BY: 1. taking it one step at a time and one day at a time, 2. not stressing over the things I can’t control or aren’t that important, 3. enjoying the times I have with my family and friends, 4. being open to suggestions from those who care about me, 5. DOING MY EXERCISES AND EATING HEALTHY FOODS, 6. not being in a hurry when there’s no time limits [writing a blog post,] 7. helping those who help me in any way I can [not being in a rush, asking for help at the appropriate time and being sensitive to what the caregiver is doing and waiting until s/he is finished.], 8. Knowing when I can wait and when I can’t wait. 9. Not panicking when things do not go as planned.

Christian heelping another

From the last two paragraphs, I realize that there are many things I can still do to enjoy life and to help others. In a real sense no one person is independent. As human beings, we all have struggles. We all need God’s help and we all need help from each other. We are all interdependent in one way or another. We will keep losing our abilities as we grow older in one way or another, sooner than later. However, we also keep winning and need to focus on the abilities we still have to help ourselves and to help others. The paragraph above are the goals I am working on, by God’s grace and the help of my family and friends. This is a work in progress. There will be good days and bad days. There will be improvements and setbacks, wins and losses. With God’s help the bad days will not overpower the good days and the setbacks will not overshadow the accomplishments. It is very important not to be hard on myself. What I am praying for something like the Serenity Prayer. [See above]

And that’s my story. “’Nuf sed” [Google it.]

ON TO THE POST SEASON! GO SOX!

Trophy w Mom and Jane

[Me, My Sister Jane and our Mom Vicky who passed away in 2010 ]

cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

Lydia

P.S. It is very important to understand that depression is an illness. When depression becomes clinical depression and is severe and takes over my life, no matter how many fine the goals I set, this is the time to seek medical help. No one [including myself] should feel guilty or ashamed of being severely depressed. What we should do instead is to recognize the symptoms and go to talk to professional who treats people with depression. Some of my warning signs are having no appetite, feeling like I’m in a cloud of despair and having little concentration or interest to do anything. When someone is being treated for depression, is doing okay for awhile, and suddenly has a relapse, s/he may need an adjustment to the medications s/he is taking. In my case, I needed more ECT treatments to get back on track. Go with a close friend or family member and ask your doctor about your options. There is help out there. It takes awhile to find it. Please do not give up.

God Sees Us as

Next post will be sent after the 2016 World Series.

Auntie Got Tongue Lashed By A Reindeer

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There is a ridiculous song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” [Elmo and Pasty, 1979], that some people think is hysterical and others don’t like it at all [I don’t like it at all]. What happened to me this Christmas is something like that song, but with a nicer outcome:

bed puppies

[Woof, when she was a puppy, and Pupper]

It looked like a reindeer, smelled like a reindeer, had a long wet tongue like a reindeer, demonstrated love for everyone and spread Christmas cheer like a reindeer, but was it really a reindeer? Surprisingly, the answer turned out to be “No.” Despite all the evidence pointing to this jolly little roly-poly animal being a Christmas reindeer; it really was my sister’s two-year-old Border terrier puppy, named Pupper. At first I thought it was my sister’s one-year Border terrier, named Woof, who was disguised as a reindeer, but it was really Pupper that wanted to get to her Christmas gifts faster. Both Pupper and Woof [same mommy], are bouncy-bouncy, full-of-energy puppies that show their unbridled enthusiasm by bouncing up and down in order to give “tongue-lashing” face washes to family, friends and strangers alike. All the while, they are wagging their tails faster than a plane‘s propeller. [They also take “power-naps.”] Both puppies call me “Auntie”.

a nap with Tannin

[My Cat Tannin was with me for 17 years]

Animals are a blessing. They make us laugh when we are in a crummy mood. They excitedly make a mad dash to the door to say, “Welcome home! I missed you so! You are the best human being in the world!” Their fanatical greeting stays the same, whether you are coming home from a week’s vacation in Florida or from the mailbox at the end of your driveway. This also happens with cats [my cats anyway] and other pets. How wonderful it is to come home, after a horrible day with people who really don’t seem to care about you, to an affectionate pet that cherishes your every move and wants to snuggle with you in your favorite chair? Animals love unconditionally. They don’t care about the mistakes you have made. They just love you to pieces.

Baby with lamb

Some animal lovers may wonder whether or not animals go to Heaven. I happen to believe the answer is an emphatic “YES!”, although I wouldn’t debate the issue with those who believe otherwise. I believe animals are important to God because they are part of His creation and hold an important role in His eternal purposes. In the Book of Romans, Paul tells us that “all of creation is groaning” and waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming [see Romans 8:19-24]. I believe “all of creation” includes all the animals God created. In Genesis 7:1-16, God commands Noah to save both his family and animals from the flood. God’s plan for redemption included people and animals. When Jesus died on the cross, He saved us from sin and death. Jesus also abolished the need for animal sacrifices.

beast of burden

All we have to do is think about where Jesus was born to realize that animals are important in carrying out God‘s eternal plan. Yes, it was to demonstrate true humility and sacrificial love when Jesus willingly gave up His rightful place in Heaven to enter our world of suffering and want [see Philippians 2:5-8 and Galatians 4:4]. God the Son was obedient to God the Father who chose to give “His One and Only Son” to enter the world in true humility and grace [See Micah 6:6 and John 3:16]. God chose animals to play a part in His Son’s birth. Just think about all the animals that might have been in that tiny little barn in Bethlehem [See Luke 2:8-20]. Even though it is not recorded in the Bible, it is widely believed Mary and God’s unborn Son rode into Bethlehem on a donkey. More likely Joseph, Mary and God’s unborn Son rode on some sort of wagon pulled by the humble beast of burden. The beast of burden transported the Baby who grew up to be the Man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief [see Isaiah 53:3-5]. I believe Jesus loved animals, during His time on earth. I believe Jesus also had a special place in His heart for donkeys.

donkey in a ditch

For example, Jesus used a donkey in one of His parables to teach an important lesson about the Sabbath: “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” [See Luke 14:5]. Jesus also rode into Jerusalem, a week before His crucifixion, on a donkey [see John 12:14]. These are only a few examples of animals playing a role in God’s eternal plan. In His teachings, Jesus also talks with affection to us, telling us that we are like sheep and that He is our Good Shepherd [see John 10]. He talks about many kinds of animals, more than I am able to include in this blog post [that was to be a SHORT one]. I’ll stop with this: In the Book of Revelation [19:11-16], at Jesus’ Second Coming, Jesus will be riding victoriously on a magnificent white horse as our Savior, Lord and King.

a white stallionjesus as high priest

The Bible passage that speaks to me the most about animals in Heaven also talks about how it will be after the Second Coming of Christ Jesus, Who will establish a New Heaven and Earth:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall put his hand over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder‘s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.”
[Isaiah 11:6-9]

The above passage talks about both domestic and wild animals, and children who will play with both without fear. In his book, The Problem with Pain [Chapter 9], the well-known theologian, C.S. Lewis, discusses the theological issues involved in animal immortality. Lewis writes about the relationship between human and beast:

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[My nephew’s dog, Diesel, a pit bull, was often mistaken for a white horse. Diesel lived 13 years before he passed away a year ago.]

“Man was appointed by God to have dominion over the beast, and everything a man does to an animal is either a lawful exercise, or a sacrificial abuse, of an authority by divine right. The tame animal is therefore, in the deepest sense, the only ‘natural’ animal — the only one we see occupying the place they were made to occupy.”

In an article, Do Animals Go to Heaven? C.S. Lewis on Animal Immortality, by Carol Apple [/carol-apple], she explains, “Lewis believes that animals receive a sense of self or personality from association with their human masters. We give our animals names and they answer to those names [hopefully], and perhaps recognize themselves by them. ‘If a good sheepdog seems “almost human” that is because a good shepherd made him so,’ says Lewis. Lewis suggests, acknowledging that he is going out on a theological limb, that animals ‘attain a real self in their masters’ in a sense similar to the way humans attain real life in Christ.’ ‘And in this sense,’ suggests Lewis, ‘it seems to me that certain animals may have immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.’”Also in Carol’s article, she states, “Lewis conjectures that as man is understood by his relation to God, perhaps beasts can be understood by their relationship to man, and through man, to God.”

glasses on Bible

It’s very encouraging to realize that learned theologians think about things I think about and, like me, don’t have all the answers. However, I will point to Isaiah 11:6-9 as a Biblical passage which speaks of both tamed animals and wild animals inhabiting the New Heaven and the New Earth, as they did in the Garden of Eden. This was how all animals were meant to                                         be.

Tulip& RS hat

[My cat, Tulip, who also lived for 17 years, just as her sister Tannin did]

There are also many legends about Jesus and animals. My favorite Legend is about Baby Jesus and the Tabby Cat. The legend goes something like this: Soon after Jesus’ birth, the Baby Jesus was cold lying in a manger, in a cold and drafty barn. Mary tried everything to make her Baby warm, but nothing worked. Finely, she tried laying a barn cat next to Jesus. The body-warmth of the cat made Jesus warm and He was able to fall asleep. Mary was very grateful and touched the cat’s forehead. An M appeared on the cat’s forehead, standing for “Messiah”. From then on, the tabby cat would remind people of Messiah’s birth. [I know this is a legend and not the “Gospel Truth”, but the story makes me smile and think about my “little” Tulip.

a puppy love

[My nephew’s new dog, Misty, when she was a puppy. She is now huge]

Some people will think of all my musings about animals in Heaven as “sentimental hogwash” [Mr. Potter in It‘s a Wonderful Life]. Others may be encouraged and thankful to think that there is a possibility that their beloved pets and other animals may be in Heaven. We may not find out for sure if this is true until we get to Heaven ourselves. In Heaven, we will be with Jesus our Good Shepherd, Messiah and King. Jesus will not disappoint us. The Bible gives us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, but doesn’t give all the answers. Heaven will be beyond our wildest dreams. I Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Until that great day, let us enjoy and care for our animals as God cares for us in Christ Jesus.

[Another good “animal book” is All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot.]

In the New Year, let us have eyes to see God’s love for us through the animals He has blessed us with. [Especially keep a lookout for small lovy-dovy “reindeers” with long wet tongues and waggily tails.]

Happy New Year!

Lydia

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[Tannin liked to hang out with me when I was blogging.]

[One of my goals for the New Year is to make my blog posts shorter. I’m not making any promises.]

It’s Almost Christmas!

lydslookonlife

birthday gifts

What is your response when someone says to you, “It’s almost Christmas!” Most children and a certain brother-in-law I know can’t wait for Christmas to get here, so that they can open their presents under the tree. Most adults like a young father I know might respond, “Christmas! OH KNOW! Where did the time go?” One group is anxiously awaiting to open their gifts. The other group is anxiously buying gifts and worrying that they will not have enough time to finish buying the gifts the need to buy.

baby jesus in manger

Christmas is not suppose to make us franticly running around like chickens without heads, in search of presents that will impress. Christmas is about “peace on earth, good will toward men” [and women and children and animals and the environment]. It’s about spending quality time with family and friends. Christmas is not all about opening the most stupendous gift ever. Christmas…

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A Possible Extended Vacation

OOPS! Here’s the correct blog address above [I’m alrteady on vacation!].
– Lydia

lydslookonlife

COMPUTER CRASH

Dear Blog Readers,

My computer is doing strange things, like “freezing” or “shutting down” on its own or the “arrow” disappearing. Before my computer looks like the one above, I’m going to have it looked at by a friend and dear brother in the Lord. I don’t know how long I will be without a computer or if this one can be fixed or if I need to buy a new one.

Be STILL

Normally, computer trouble really stresses me out. But, so far, I am at peace and I am trusting the Lord to provide what I need in His time. Please pray that this peacefulness will continue. Having a computer is like having a car for most people. It is a necessity in order to go places. My computer is my “Voice” as it is a means to communicate with the world and the world to communicate with me.

So…

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“Holy Monday!” 2015

I have updated “Holy Monday!” originally was written in 2014. The same truths are just as important in 2015.

lydslookonlife

fig tree

What is happening with Jesus? You know – the meek and mild Jesus Who wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41)? What happened to the humble Jesus Who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, instead of a king’s white stallion? Wasn’t Jesus pleased with all the fanfare of the large enthusiastic crowd happily waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks down in front of His path, as a make-shift welcome carpet, and singing “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:1-10, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19)? Everything was going so well one minute, and the next minute Jesus is in the temple tossing tables and money and doves are flying all over the place. In the midst of this chaos, Jesus still makes time to heal people and talk to the religious leaders (Matthew 21:12-14, Luke 19:45-48). As if this wasn’t enough excitement, the very…

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A Person of Mystery (Season Finale – Part 1)

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The Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, the Spirit of the LORD, the Third Person of the Triune God, is much more to me than a ghost or mystical vapor or “the spirit of the holy gods” or “the Great Spirit” or “the Great Mystery” or even “the Spirit in the Sky” (or “the Man Upstairs” – In my case, that would be my brother-in-law. My sister and he live upstairs from me. We live in a two-family house). I mean no disrespect, but those names describe something that is very far away, untouchable and impersonal to me. The Holy Spirit is Someone (a Person) with Whom I have a personal relationship. Just as God is my Father and I am His daughter and Jesus is my Savior who died for my sins, the Holy Spirit is my personal Life Coach.

(My favorite song about the Holy Spirit, believe it or not, is not a hymn. It is actually a song about the Holy Trinity, written in 1987, by Cliff Richard. I will share it throughout this blog post.)

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When did the Holy Spirit come to stay?

When Jesus’ time on earth was completed, He spent forty days with His disciples after His resurrection. Before He ascended into heaven, He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the “promised Holy Spirit” (See Acts 2:33). Ten days later, at Pentecost, Jesus was overjoyed that it finally time to send the Gift of the Holy Spirit to His first disciples and to all His future disciples who would believe in Him through their testimony. The rest is His Story! (For more information about Pentecost, see my posts, see “Waiting to Get Fired Up!” and “Why Get so FIRED UP?” and “Holy Birthday Bothers and Sisters!)

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“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him Who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. And you also were included in Christ, when you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-14).

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Where do you see the Holy Spirit working? Why did Jesus send Him to us? How does the Holy Spirit work?

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The Holy Spirit works inside every follower of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gives each follower of Jesus a new life and a new purpose in life. Jesus did not want to leave us alone. He gave us His Holy Spirit, from the Father, to live inside of us, not far away somewhere in the cosmos. The Holy Spirit personally teaches us, comforts us, counsels us, and gives us the strength and wisdom to live a life which is pleasing to God. He also gives us joy in the process and immeasurable joy at the “Finish Line” (See II Timothy 4:7-8). The Holy Spirit encourages us, even in our sufferings and helps us use our sufferings for the purpose of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, so that we may get to know Him better. It is only through our hardships that we can realize the Holy Spirit’s power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!

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“In reply, Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again…I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” (John 3:3,5).

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:16-17).

“But when the kindness and love of our God and Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

a shine on me

“As we gaze on Your Kingly brightness,

So our faces display Your likeness.

Ever changing from glory to glory,

Mirrored here may our lives tell Your Story.

Shine on me. Shine on me.”

comforter hsa spirit of truth

“And I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain in you forever, the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him, nor know and recognize Him. But you know Him and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans – comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless – I will come [back] to you.” (John 14:16-18; The Amplified Bible).

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This Sunday, June 8th, is Pentecost Sunday. Let us rejoice with hearts of gratitude and great joy and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for giving us the Holy Spirit, His Spirit of Grace and TRUTH.

gratitudegive thanks

But Wait! There’s more! Tune in to “A Person of Mystery (Season Finale – Part 2)”.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The Lyd

Lydia

 

An Anatomy of a Blog Post

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(If anyone is not getting the photos on my blog posts, go down to the very bottom of the post and click onto my blog link below, where it says, Trouble clicking?: https://lydslookonlife.wordpress.com etc. It has been said “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Without photos, my posts would be even longer than they already are!)

This is how I write a post for “Lyd’s Look on Life”:

a nap with Tannin

Before I start typing anything, I pray for ideas of what to write about and for a catchy title and “hook” [introduction). I already have a long list of topics to write about, but I ask the Lord for His perfect timing in which topic I write about next. Sometimes, I pray with my eyes closed, during a “Purrer Nap” with my cat Tannin. Other times, I may pray while enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing the beauty and power of God’s creation. For example, when I visit Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, I experience God’s beauty on the Bridge of Flowers. I think of how it was like before the Fall of Man, before sin entered the world (Genesis 3). God made the world for mankind to spend time with Him and to partner with Him to take care of His creation and to use his/her own God-given creativity to make thousands of kinds of beautiful flowers and plants and trees for food and for esthetic enjoyment.

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“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food…The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:8-9a,15).

Adam was the first botanist, as well as the first taxonomist. God made the animals and asked Adam to name them in Genesis 2:19-20. God then made a “suitable helper” (Genesis 2: 18) for Adam, a woman he named Eve. In Genesis 2:18, 20 the word “suitable” (kenegdo*) denotes equality and adequacy. The word “helper” (ezer*) used to describe Eve, in Genesis 2:18, is the same word that refers to God in most instances in the Old Testament. For example: “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my HELP come from? My HELP comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). Also, Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God made man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” God made Adam and Eve equal partners to enjoy fellowship with Him and gave them the job of caring for His creation. And “God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28)

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When I’m on the “Bridge of Flowers” God gives me a glimpse of how Adam and Eve had it “made in the shade!” Why would they want anything more? They wanted more for exactly the same reason we want more: They wanted to be their own boss and know everything without God telling them what to do. They believed the serpent when he said God was holding out on them and there was more to have than what God had given them. God gave everything to Adam and Eve, but He told them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16b-17). God’s instructions were clear, but Adam and Eve listened to the serpent (Satan) and his lies: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?…You will not surely die…For God knows that when you eat of it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1b, 4a, 5). So, Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan and sin entered the world and made life difficult and burdensome and ultimately end in death. Most of all, sin broke the fellowship and partnership between God and mankind (See Genesis 3).

dam 2troubled waters

After spending time on the Bridge of Flowers, I usually go to the Glacier Potholes, a few blocks away. We walk [or roll] from an example of God’s beauty and creativity, expressed in all the different kinds of flowers, to an example of God’s power and grace, in the rushing Deerfield River and the mosaic-like marbling on the rocks, formed by the power of the rushing water. The Glacier Potholes remind me that God’s power is stronger than Satan’s might. God uses His power to bring us back to Him by the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. Like the Apostle Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, and so, somehow attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). In the same way the mighty currents of the rushing river destroys everything in its path and also creates beautifully marbled rocks, Jesus is able to take our sins and sufferings and turn our lives into a beautiful mosaic with His resurrection power and by His matchless grace.

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After a few days of praying about what God has shown me in His creation and through the reading of His Word, I begin doing my research by “googling” the topic I want to write about. I “google” definitions of words, the history behind the topic, Scripture references, find photos to go along with the topic and I even use real books and Bible study notes from my bookshelves and files. Once I get everything together, on my bed and little table and computer desk, and get the lighting just right, I am ready to write. The typing takes two five-hour days or longer (depending on the number of bathroom visits I have to make) and one three-hour day to proof-read and plug in the photos. Plugging in the photos is the part that‘s really fun for me. Sometimes, I have a friend proof-read my blog post before sending it out to my “most excellent” blog-readers.

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When I have finished the post and have finally sent it out into the “blog-o-sphere”, my two cats, Tannin and Tulip are very happy, and so am I. You did not see Tulip on the bed when I had all my papers and books spread out on it, but she was sleeping on the small area of the bed that was clear. She is a very good kitty. She has learned not to lie on the papers, which I think is amazing! When I put away all the papers and books from my bed and desk, Tulip finally has “her” bed she lets me borrow all to herself again, until bedtime. Having a clean computer desk also is shockingly pleasant to my rubber “chicken and dressing” who watches me type from behind my printer. Finally, Tannin is also very happy because she again gets to have another “Purrer Nap” on her “soft mattress”.

bed with Tulipphoto (9)

There you have it: “An Anatomy of a Blog Post.” It is now officially nap time.

a nap with Tannin

Pleasant Dreams!

Lydia

* “Men, Women and Biblical Equality” (CBE International, serving God by giftedness, not by gender) [ http://www.cbeinternational.org/files/u1/smwbe/english.pdf ]

The website may not work, so it may be better to “google the title of the paper and where it’s from.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

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“Christmas is almost here!” For some people, this announcement causes terror to erupt inside them. One can see it in their eyes. “No! It can’t be! I am nowhere near finished with buying Christmas gifts! How did the time fly by so fast?” For the children, it brings excitement and joy. Christmas will finally be here in a few days and the interminable time of waiting will finally be over. They will soon be at the Christmas tree ripping open their presents on Christmas morning. As for me, I know that Christmas Day is almost here from the bright glow of the Advent Wreath on my dining room table. The purple Prophecy and Bethlehem and the rose-colored Shepherd’s Candles are lit. And now, on the fourth Sunday in Advent, the purple Angel’s Candle is lit as well. All four candles make my dining room bright with their glow and turns darkness into light. The glowing candlelight reminds me of Jesus coming into this dark world to be God’s Light for all who would believe and trust in Him as their Savior and Lord. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a Light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in the darkness” (John 12:46).

The Angel Candle on the Advent Wreath reminds us how angels, God’s messengers, were used in the Christmas Story – Jesus’ Story. Before we go any further, we must understand a few things about angels. Angels have never been human beings. A person doesn’t die and become an angel in heaven. God’s angels are celestial beings created by God to do His bidding. Despite the movies that depict angels as having human desires, as in “The Bishop’s Wife”, with Cary Grant, and “Michael”, with John Travolta, angels are only interested in doing God’s work when they are sent to earth. Also, angels are not to be worshiped. Only the Triune God is worthy of our worship. There are also “dark” angels and other types of angels, as found in the Book of Revelation, but I will leave that to the theologians to address. For the purposes of this blog post, I would like to focus on the angels who were used in the Story of Christ‘s Birth.

Angel with Zechariah

First, we see an angel visiting Zechariah, a priest whose time it was to burn incense in the temple. He was married to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, and they were up there in years and childless. While Zechariah was in the temple, the Gospel of Luke records this: “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But, the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord‘” (Luke 1:11-15a). Zechariah wasn’t sure what was going on and whether or not to believe what the angel was saying and questioned him: “‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’ The angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time’” (Luke 1:18b-20). Zechariah could not speak until his wife Elizabeth gave birth to John, who became known as John the Baptizer and prepared people for the coming of the Messiah.

After Elizabeth gave birth to her son John, she praised God: “‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days He has shown me His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people’” (Luke 1:25). After John was born, Zechariah wrote on a tablet that his name was to be “John.” Immediately, Zechariah was able to speak and he was filled with the Holy Spirit and praised God and prophesied about what God was going to do with his son: “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:76-79).

In the account of the angel Gabriel appearing to Zechariah, we see that Zechariah was scared out of his wits. Looking at Zechariah’s angel-sighting, it must be a terrifying experience that would “put the fear of God” into anyone (much more terrifying than Christmas shopping, which I think is pretty terrifying). The angel Gabriel isn’t a little naked baby with wings and a “belly button” as some paintings and statues depict angels to be. I don’t believe angels have “belly buttons”, since they were never born. Because the appearance of an angel is an overwhelming and frightening sight to see, the first thing Gabriel had to say was, “Do not be afraid” and that he had good news for him and his wife. The good news was too difficult to believe, but that did not stop God from doing what He wanted to do. This is an example to me that even our lack of faith cannot stop God from blessing us. God may discipline us out of His love for us, to teach us and help us grow in our faith, as He did when He took away Zechariah’s ability to speak, but His discipline is only for awhile and His blessings are forever (See Psalm 30:5 and Hebrews 12:5-6, 10-11). It is also important to note that both Elizabeth and Zechariah praised and worshiped God for the gift of their son John. They did not praise and worship the angel Gabriel.

Angel with Mary

The second angel-sighting that played the most significant part in His Story was the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary: “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God’…‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her” (Luke 1:28-35, 38).

Again, as with Zechariah, the angel Gabriel had to calm Mary’s fears by saying, “Do not be afraid.” Unlike Zechariah, I believed Mary believed what the angel was saying was true. Mary just wanted to know how it would happen, since she was a virgin. When the angel explained how it would happen and told her that her relative Elizabeth was pregnant and said, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), Mary put her life into God’s hands. Mary was a very young teenage girl, with her whole life ahead of her. Yet, she gave up all the dreams a teenage girl has and she followed and obeyed God’s unique will for her life. Just as Elizabeth and Zechariah did, she also praised and worshiped God with her own song – “Mary’s Song” found in Luke 146-55.

Mary’s faith in God is an example to us all. In addition to obeying God’s call, Mary teaches us that it is okay to ask God questions. God did answer some of Mary’s questions, but not all of them. She left it up to God, which questions to answer. Sometimes, as in Zachariah’s case, God chooses not to answer any questions. This causes me to ask myself, “Do I have the faith and trust in God when He chooses not to answer my questions?”

Angel's with Shepherds

We already talked about the angels visiting the Shepherd’s when we talked about the Shepherd’s Candle, but it‘s good to note again what the angel said to the shepherds, because they were terrified by their angel-sighting: “Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY [MEGA-JOY] that will be for all the people“(Luke 2:10b).

Angel in Joseph's dream

The next angel-sighting is with Joseph. The Gospel of Matthew tells about his experience like this: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had it in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him “Immanuel” – which means ‘God with us.’ When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus” (Matthew 1:18-25). Also, in Matthew 2:13-15, after the visit of the Magi (to be discussed at another time), Joseph had another angel-sighting: “When they [the Magi] left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.’ So he got up, took the Child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I will call My Son.’” In yet another dream, an angel appeared to Joseph to tell him it was okay to go back to the land of Israel (Matthew 2:19-20). If I didn’t know any better, I would thing Matthew was talking about “Joseph the Dreamer” and patriarch in the Old Testament, with all the dreams Joseph, Mary‘s husband was having.

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Unlike the angel visitations of Zechariah and Mary, the angel appeared to Joseph in dreams. Why was that? I really don’t know why. But, wouldn’t it be easy for Joseph to say, “Oh, it was just a dream,” and ignore what God commanded him to do through the angel. However, he didn’t ignore the dreams or brushed them aside as dreams caused by something he ate (ala Scrooge, in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”). Why didn‘t he? This is my own theory and I am not a theologian, so don’t take it as “Gospel Truth”” Joseph was a carpenter (See Matthew 13:55), and a man of very few words, judging by the few times he is mentioned in the Gospel‘of Matthew and Luke. While he worked he had a lot of time to think, when he did carpentry which did not require a lot of concentration (things that he had done a hundred times and could do them with his eyes closed). During his mundane work, I think he thought about the Old Testament Scriptures and the prophecies found inside them. In all his dreams he obeyed, he was also seeing prophesy being fulfilled. Again, this is only my theory. The fact is, Joseph’s fears were relieved when the angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.” He did everything God told him to do without asking questions. The Bible doesn’t give a lot of information about Joseph, the husband of Mary. But, by what it does say about Joseph, we know that he was a man of God and he obeyed God selflessly and loyally. I believe he loved God and he loved Mary and he loved Jesus. He protected them both and cared for their needs as a good husband and father should.

Angels at God's Throne

To summarize: Angels are celestial beings created by God to accomplish His will. One of their duties is to be His messengers to people on earth, to bring them good news, to warn them and protect them from evil, and what they say and do always comes from God’s Word. Even though angels can be an overwhelming and frightening sight to see, they encourage us not to be afraid, but to believe in God’s mercy and His perfect will. They never seek to be worshipped, but encourage people to worship and obey God as they do. Through the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds, we have examples of people who love the Lord and obey Him, no matter the cost. Through their obedience to God, many people have been blessed, and they were blessed because they saw the very “Face of God” when they saw the Christ Child: “For God, who said, ’Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). (I think Zechariah and Elizabeth might have paid a visit to Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, but it’s just a thought.)

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Dear Father God,
Thank you for the Indescribable Gift of Your Son, Jesus the Light of the world. I pray to have the obedience of Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds and obey Your call. Help me to walk in the Light of Your Son and live by faith and not by sight. l do not need all my questions answered because You know them. As these faithful people obeyed the angel by doing their part in Your Eternal Plan of salvation through the Light of Christ, I pray that I will share Your Light with others and not keep it hidden under a bushel. Thank you for Your mercy and grace when I fail to share Your Light with others out of fear of what they may think. I want to hear the angel’s encouragement loud and clear, “FEAR NOT.” O Lord Jesus, make me a blessing to my family and friends, to my church family, and to neighbors and strangers You put in my path. Thank you Lord that Christmas Day is near. Even so, Lord Jesus, help me to anticipate with excitement and MEGA-JOY the Great Day when You come again in glory! Come Lord JESUS! Amen.

Angels at God's Throne

Angels, from the Realms of Glory
By James Montgomery

Angels, from the realms of glory, Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creations story, Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the new born King.

Shepherds, in the fields abiding, watching o’er their flocks by night,
God with man is now residing, Yonder shines the infant Light:
Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the new born King.

Sages, leave your contemplations, Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations, Ye have seen His natal star:
Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Saints before the altar bending, Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord descending, In His Temple shall appear:
Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

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Some Christians begin the Celebration of Christmas, the birth of Christ, on Christmas Eve. At time all five Candles on the Advent Wreath are lit, with the white Christ Candle in the center of the wreath. This is the time the Advent Wreath is at its brightest and symbolizes Jesus as the Light of the world. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life” (John 8:12). The celebration spills over to Christmas Day, when Christians rejoice in Christ’s birth and, with joyful anticipation, actively await Christ’s Second Coming. When Jesus comes again, as an angel told John in his vision, “No longer will there be any curse. The Throne of God and of the Lamb [Jesus] will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His Face, and His Name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them LIGHT. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5).

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Until Christ comes again, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in His divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil [selfish] desires” (II Peter 1:3-4).

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL and MAY YOUR 2014 BE FILLED WITH CHRIST’S GLORY, GOODNESS AND GRACE!!!!

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Lydia (with my sister Jane and her new puppy “Sweet Pup D’Otter” – “Pupper” for short).

The Shepherds and Religious Elite Should Be Friends

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“I made a mistake” and “I have a confession to make” are both excellent “hook” sentences which writers occasionally use to get their readers’ “curiosity” juices flowing and want to read more (no matter how long the writing is). In my last post, I made a confession. In this post, I want to admit to making a mistake (or two or three). First, I mistakenly called Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip the parents of Prince William of England. Of course, they are the grandparents and Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana are the parents of Prince William (I did make the correction for future readers of my blog). I do humbly apologize, especially to those with British roots. I even knew who Prince William‘s parents are. Perhaps I made the mistake because I really don’t like Prince Charles all that much. Also, in my post regarding the Prophecy Candle, I may have made a few Scripture reference mistakes. For example, Psalm 110 does not have a verse 10 because it only has seven verses. I meant to type Psalm 110:1, which foretold of Jesus being “seated at God’s Right Hand” and Matthew 22:44 and Hebrews 10:12-13 state the fulfillment of this prophesy. If I made other mistakes in Scripture references, please let me know, if you wish, and I will send you the correct reference(s).

One time, when Nelson Mandela was called a saint, he replied, “If by ‘saint’ you mean a sinner who keeps trying, then yes, I am a saint.” Some people say that I am a good writer. I humbly thank you for this “crazy generous” compliment. If by “writer” you mean someone who is able to express her ideas through her creative writing, despite her numerous typos and occasional errors regarding certain facts, but keeps on trying to produce a piece of writing without any typos or other critical errors, then yes, I am a good writer (in progress). I am thankful to the Lord for my gracious and patient blog “followers” who keep reading my LONG posts and gently ignore my mistakes and say, “I knew what you meant.” Thank you very much! (However, I do welcome corrections and other constructive criticism.) Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was a political activist and he ended Apartheid in South Africa and became president. Nelson Mandela was also a great man of the Christian Faith. He often talked about how he took strength, during his twenty-seven-year imprisonment, by reading the biblical account of Joseph’s imprisonment, in Genesis 37-50. Nelson Mandela was a brother in Christ who knew how to fight for what was right and knew how to forgive because he knew the forgiveness of God through Christ. From a human standpoint, few people can ever hope to fill Nelson Mandela’s shoes but, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all have the same spiritual status (See Galatians 3:28) and I believe Nelson Mandela would wholeheartedly agree.

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Speaking about mistakes, did you ever think God makes mistakes? For instance, take the Christmas Story: God handpicked a young, poor peasant girl, named Mary, to become the mother of His One and Only Begotten Son Who would save the world from sin. God handpicked a poor peasant carpenter, named Joseph, to merry Mary, while she was already pregnant with God’s Son – the same man who was thinking about quietly “calling the whole thing off“, but was convinced by an angel not to. Then, God arranged it so that Joseph and Mary had to take a four-to-six-day journey to a little town called Bethlehem, while Mary was nine-months pregnant, in order for God’s Son Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, in a cattle stall. To top it all off, God sends His angels out to a bunch of shepherds to be the first ones to witness and welcome the Savior of the world to the world at His birth. All this does not make any worldly sense. Could it be because we do not know all the heavenly details God knows?

Advent 3b

During the Third Week of Advent, the two previous purple Prophesy and Bethlehem Candles are lit on the Advent Wreath, in addition to the rose colored Shepherd’s Candle. The “Advent-ure” continues like this:

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“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a Baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Thee shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:8-20).

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Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of the shepherds? Think of the brightest night sky you have ever seen. People have told me about the magnificence of the Aurora Borealis, in the Alaskan winter sky. The sky that the shepherds experienced on that Holy Night must have been brighter still. Think of the time when you were filled with the greatest joy in your life. Maybe it was the time you got married or had a baby, or the time you graduated from college or got your dream job, or the time you learned you or a loved one was cancer-free, or the time the RED SOX won the 2004 World Series Championship after an eighty-six-year “drought” (The first time was more glorious than the ones in ’07 and ’13). Your happiest time filled with “busting-at-the-seems” joy cannot compare with “THE GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY” the angel brought to the shepherds on that Holy Night. A pastor I know explained the “great joy” the shepherds experienced can be described as “MEGA-JOY!” It is the joy that makes me free from sin and shame and makes me the child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is the MEGA-JOY that tells me death longer has a grip on me and this aging body will one day be transformed into a new body without pain or sorrow or dread. “For now we know in part [just as the shepherds did, only we know a little more]…but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears…Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:9a, 12).

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But why shepherds? Why didn’t God choose kings and princes and the religious leaders of that day to witness and welcome His Only Begotten Son, the Savior of the world, into their world? We learn from Scripture that both King Herod and the religious leaders of that day were drunk with power and control. When King Herod learns that another king is born “he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years and under” (Matthew 2:16), which fulfilled a prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15. Before Jesus could be killed, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), which fulfilled another prophecy in Hosea (11:1). Before then, three Magi came to Herod to inquire about Jesus’ birth (See Matthew 2:1-12). Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, I believe Herod chose not to go along with the Magi because it was too long of a long trip, but waited to hear about their findings (Interesting!). Later on, in Matthew 23, Jesus calls out the Pharisees and teachers of the law for abusing their power, in the “Seven Woes” by saying things like, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (v. 4). Later on, in all four Gospels, we learn that the religious leaders of the day were all conspiring to kill Jesus. They were not interested in the things of God, but only their own honor, power and control over the people they were meant to shepherd and care for.

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But why shepherds? In those days, shepherds were at the bottom of the social ladder in Palestine. In the beginning of the Bible, shepherding was an honored profession (Genesis 4:20; 30:29; 37:12; Exodus 2:16). It was only after the Hebrews migrated to Egypt that shepherding got a bad name. Egyptians were farmers and the Arabs, who were their enemy, were shepherds. In Genesis 46:34, Joseph warns his brothers, “Every shepherd is detestable to the Egyptians.” Shepherding goats and sheep meant their farmland was taken away and their crops would be diminished. Somehow, the disdain and prejudice against shepherds stuck with the Hebrews through the centuries. As in all forms of bigotry, religious snobbery and class prejudice, hatred toward shepherds grew without any rhyme or reason – It was just how people always felt about that people group. The religious leaders, in Jesus’ day, hated shepherds most of all. Religious leaders banned pasturing sheep and goats in Israel, except in the dessert. They called shepherds “incompetent” and “untrustworthy” and considered them “second-class” and labeled them as “sinners.” Shepherds were deprived of their civil rights and could not hold judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses. Jeremias (a writer who lived in the 6th Century, B.C.) wrote, “The rabbis ask with amazement how, in view of the despicable nature of shepherds, one can explain why God was called ‘my shepherd’ in Psalm 23:1.” (The information in this paragraph is from “Shepherd Status,” by Randy Alcorn, in “Come Thou Long-Expected Jus, Nancy Guthrie, Editor [Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008] pp. 85-89.)

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As I worked on the paragraph above, a song from the musical “Oklahoma,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, popped into my head:

The Farmer and the Cowboy
(First Stanza)

The farmer and the cowboy should be friends.
Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow.
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends.

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Isn’t that basically it? All God’s children should be friends, if God’s Kingdom is #1 on our priority list, just as “Territory folks should stick together“ in order for Oklahoma to become the 46th state of the United States. But, how do we make God’s Kingdom #1 priority in our lives when we make ourselves #1 and are only interested in having our own way and keeping our own power and control in tact? God tells us how to make His Kingdom #1 in Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and the walk humbly with your God.” And God shows us how this is done through the life of His One and Only Begotten Son: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus is the epitome of humility. He told His disciples, “…You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them [the lower class], and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25b-28). Jesus also says in John 6:38 and 40, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him Who sent Me…For the Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

baby jesus in manger

Jesus Christ, our Immanuel (God with us), came down from heaven, down to our level, in order to raise us up to His. John 1:1-2 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” II Corinthians 4:6 teaches us, “For God, Who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Philippians 2:6-8 informs us about Christ, “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death of a cross!” Colossians 2:9-10 instructs us, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, Who is the Head over every power and authority.”

Jesus Christ not only became one of us, He was one of us. He lived with us, ate with us, cried with us, rejoiced with us; He related with us and became our friend. Someone once wrote the Jesus is our “Stooping God.” It makes sense that our “Stooping God” lived with the poor peasants an d identified with the lowly shepherds, so much so, that He became our Good Shepherd. How awesome is that?!

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“The LORD is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, the One Who sits enthroned on high, Who STOOPS down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He sits them with princes, with princes of their people” (Psalm 113:4-7).

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“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep…I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me – just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. The two will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and One Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14-16).

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away…Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s Mighty Hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:”4, 6-7).

The following Scripture and Hymn is my prayer for all of us. As did the shepherds long ago, let us go to Bethlehem and see the GOOD NEWS and MEGA-JOY that Christ’s birth brings to all who believe.

“May the God of peace, Who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

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Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
By Dorothy A. Thrupp
(Stanzas 1 and 2)

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, For our use Thy folds prepare:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine; do Thou befriend us, Be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, Seek us when we go astray:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray.

This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Along with the two purple Prophecy and Bethlehem Candles and the rose-colored Shepherd’s Candle, the purple Angel’s Candle will be lit on the Advent Wreath. Please read John 3:16-21 and Revelation 21:1-6 and 22:7, 12-17, 20-21.

me writing

 

Christmas Blessings to All,

Lydia