Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Part 4

Hello everyone.  Merry Christmas!  Today, I want to post the last installment of my version of the Christmas story.  It's the part of the story I think we are most familiar with.

When we left Joseph and Mary, they were headed to the town of Bethlehem.  Now Bethlehem is basically part of Jerusalem.  You might consider it a suburb because it is about 5 miles from Jerusalem.  So David and Mary go there but apparently there are a whole bunch of folks in town for this census thing.  Because of this, they can't find a room anywhere at any of the hotels.  This is a pretty bad thing because Mary is 9 months pregnant.

In Texas, I can tell you this would have been really bad news.  See they had to stay in a barn with no central heat and air.  Today as I write this, it's 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside in Fort Worth.  Not many women could handle being 9 months pregnant and actually giving birth to a baby in a barn under those circumstances.  Now ladies, I don't mean this as a slight against you.  I was in the room for the birth of all three of my children and after seeing what their mother went through, I don't know one man who could handle giving birth to a child under any circumstances!  But there they were and that is where Jesus was born - in a barn.  They wrapped him in a blanket and used the animal's feeding trough as a baby crib.  It's pretty amazing to thing that the greatest person ever to walk the earth was born in such lowly circumstances.  Do you find yourself living below where you would like?  Well, take heart.  Jesus started in exactly the same situation.  Guess what, he came out of that situation.  It didn't happen because he was the Son of God, it happened because he had faith in God and now you and I can operate in that same type of faith.

So at the instant that Jesus was born, there were these sheppards in a field keeping watch over their flocks and an angel of the Lord appeared to them.  I wonder why God chose them instead of anyone else?  He could have chosen the religious leaders or maybe even the government but he chose these sheppards.  When the angel shows up, the glory of the Lord shone all around these guys and it freaked them out.  They must have thought this was some type of alien that appeared out of no where in the sky.  They were terrified.  The first thing the angel said was, "Don't be afraid."  He went on to say, "I bring you news that is great for everyone.  Today in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world was born.  He is Christ the Lord.  You can find him wrapped in a blanket staying in a barn."

Suddenly there was a multitude of angels in the sky praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."  Then the angels left those guys and went back to heaven.  Naturally these guys wanted to see Jesus so they hurried off to the barn to see Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  They found them right where the angel said that He would be. 

Now it looks like after reading the bible that there was another set of dudes that showed up after some time.  These other dudes had a lot of money.  Think of people like Bill Gates, the guy who started Facebook, and Warren Buffett.  These cats were loaded.  Now they heard that Jesus was born and went looking for him to give him gifts and when they found Jesus they gave him some pretty expensive stuff.

Luke 2 and Matthew 1.

There is no good way to stop this story because the story has been going on for over 2,000 years now and it will never stop.  I have heard people say that Jesus is the reason for the season.  That's true but remember Jesus is the season.  Everything good about Christmas is a reflection of Christ on the earth.  Always remember that Jesus has a gift ready for you for Christmas this year.  As a matter of fact, it is the first of many gifts that he has planned for you but you have to accept the gift.  It's the gift of salvation.  What does that mean?  Some think it means getting your ticket punched so you can go to heaven but it is so much more than that.  Salvation is the way to get born into a family.  That family is alive all over the world today.  Are you lonely this holiday season?  Do you miss family members?  Maybe you don't have a family at all and you are reading this. 

If that's the case, you can become a member of my family by simply saying this prayer.  "Jesus, I want to be part of your family.  Please come into my heart and make me your brother or sister.  I accept you as my Lord and savior."  It's that simple.  If you prayed that prayer for the first time, would you please let me know.  If that is you, I want to be the first to tell you, welcome to the family.  You are now my brother or sister.  Our brother Jesus is constantly hanging out with our Dad planning good things for us.  If you prayed that prayer, please try to find a good church that will teach you all about our family from our history, to the way we love each other to what our family business is all about.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Minion

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Part 3

Hello Everyone,

This is part three of the story of Christmas.

Now Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John.  For those of you who don't know, John and Jesus' lives will be intertwined through out all of John's time on earth and most of Jesus.  I believe John is the one who ultimately baptizes Jesus and John gets his head cut of by the king because he tell the king that the king was doing something wrong.

OK, back to the story.  Mary decides that since she and Elizabeth are cousins that she's going to pay Elizabeth a visit and she does.  Here's something that strikes me as interesting.  It seems like several people must have known about what was going on with Mary and more than one believed her because when she rolls into Zach's house, Elizabeth says, "Your are most blessed of all women and the child you bear will be very blessed.  I know you are Jesus mother, why did you come to visit me.  As soon as you said hello, John started moving around.  You are very blessed because you believed that God will accomplish what he said he would."  We can learn something from this and I may have already pointed it out.  Mary was very blessed because she trusted God.  God is a gentlemen.  I believe that if Mary had told God she didn't want to be Jesus' mom, he would have passed her by and found someone else.  Now we don't have any record of this in the bible, but it's possible that Mary was not the first person God approached about this.  I can't prove that one way or the other.

But what we do know is that Mary had faith in God.  We also know that Joseph had faith in God.  So the Lord was putting Jesus in a house where his parents both had faith.  It is truly an amazing thing when people come together in agreement and stand in faith together.

So after Elizabeth talks to Mary, the anointing comes in Mary and she sings this song:

My soul glorifies God and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For he is mindful of how humble I am (side note, this is the second place in the bible where someone called themselves humble.  Moses wrote that he was the most humble man ever to walk the earth.)
From now on all the nations will call me blessed
For the Lord Almighty has done great things for me
His mercy extends to those that fear him from generation to generation

He has performed mighty deeds
He has scattered the proud
He has brought down kings
But has lifted up the humble

He has filled the hungry with good things
But sent the rich away empty
He has helped Israel, remembering to be merciful
To Abraham and his descendants for ever

After this, Mary hung out with Elizabeth for three months and then she went back to Joseph's place.  You have to feel for Joseph a little.  Not only did he not get to go on a honeymoon with Mary but pretty quick after they get married, she takes a three month vacation to Elizabeth's house.  I bet Joseph had to stay home because he was a carpenter and had a business to run and her his new wife takes off and leaves for three months.

So let me close out what happened to Elizabeth and Zach.  Elizabeth finally gives birth to John and her neighbors and relatives all come over to celebrate and throw a big party.  That seems a little strange to me.  I can remember when we brought each of our kids home from the hospital.  I don't remember my ex-wife or I ever wanting to have a party.  As a matter of fact, we both wanted the opposite.  We both wanted to sleep.  If someone woke the baby up, it sort of made us mad but anyway, that's what happened.  We know that Zach didn't wake John up because he still couldn't speak.  Remember, God had shut his mouth.

So eight days after his birth, when Zach and Elizabeth had not named the baby yet, the friends and family decided they were going to name the baby Zach after his father.  That's pretty pushy if you ask me.  First they come over and party like it's New Year's Eve then they get impatient about naming the kid and try to do it themselves.

Well, Elizabeth is having no part of it because she knows that the baby's name is John and she tells them this.  Unfortunately, no one in the crowd likes the idea and they tell her it is a stupid idea.  Have you ever had family trying to tell you what to do or trying to live their lives through you?  Well this is a bible record of it happening.  Anyway, they don't like her answer so they ask Zach.  This sort of reminds me of when a child asks one parent for something and gets told no so the child goes and asks the other parent.  Zach takes a writing tablet and with a written note, tells everyone that the boy's name is John.  As soon as he did that, God allowed him to talk and Zach started praising God.  Now the crowd was really in awe and they all started talking about it.  Word spread through the grapevine about the story and everyone wondered what John would amount to.

Luke 1:39 to Luke 2:5

To be continued....

The Minion

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Part 2

OK so now we have Elisabeth and Zach expecting a son named John.

Now let's fast forward six months.  There was this guy named Joseph who was a one of King David's great...great grand kids.  He was engaged to marry this girl named Mary.  Now Mary had never had sex with anyone so she wasn't pregnant.  How do we know this?  Well that's what the bible says so I guess I just believe it.  One day while Mary was hanging out and I assume she is working on wedding plans or something, this angel appears to her.  I know this didn't happen this way but I imaging Mary getting wedding invitations ready, talking to the florist, lining out the church, getting her dress ready and working on the wedding cake.  All of the sudden out of thin air, an angel appears to her and says, "Greetings Mary, you are highly regarded by God and as a matter of fact He is with you."

So of course Mary does what we all would probably do, she instantly freaks out.  She is really afraid of this dude and has no clue what he is talking about.  The angel goes on to say, "Don't worry Mary.  This is really great news.  Out of all the women in the world through out all of time, God has chosen you to be the mother of a Son.  You will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Lord.  The Lord will give him a kingdom that will one day include all the earth and he will rule over it.  He's going to save the world."

Now Mary is confused and she says, "How can I be pregnant since I haven't had sex with anyone?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will make you pregnant without having sex."  Then the angel tells her again, "You will give birth to the Son of God.  Just like your cousin Elizabeth got pregnant when she was real old, you will be too.  Nothing is impossible with God."

Here Mary says something real smart.  She says to the angel that she is God's servant and if it's God's will to do this, than she wants it to happen."  Then the angel left her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

So there's one huge problem at this point.  Mary has to go tell Joseph, her fiancee, that she is pregnant but that she hasn't had sex.  God made her pregnant without it.  I can tell you that I wouldn't have believed a story like that.  Sometimes my kids come in and tell me really unbelievable stories but something like this would take the cake.  If I was Joseph, I would have thought she just wanted to marry me and she was trying to make excuses for cheating on me.  We know that Joseph thought something like this because the bible says that he was planning on breaking up with her.

I wrote about Joseph in a separate blog so I will try to be brief with retelling the story.  Now Mary could have gotten in a lot of trouble for having sex before marriage and Joe was a real merciful guy who didn't want to get her in a lot of trouble so he decided to break up with her without telling anyone why.  While he was thinking about this, he fell asleep and the angel of the Lord appeared to him.  So this angel says, "Joseph, don't get all freaked out about this.  You know that crazy story Mary told you about the Lord putting a baby in her womb, well it's 100% true.  She didn't make it up.  Take her to be your wife but don't have sex until after Jesus is born.  This child will be the savior of the world."  Guess what, he obeyed instantly.  He married her that very day.

If it were me, I would not have been up for that kind of deal.  If I was one of Joseph's buddies listening to this story, I would have thought he was absolutely crazy.  The whole deal doesn't make any sense.  God puts a baby in your fiancee who is going to be the savior of the world and you have to marry her anyway.  On top of that, there is no honeymoon for a year!  Forget that, Joe you need to do something else.  But Joseph was a man of God who trusted God and obeyed what the Lord told him to do.  Joseph also made sure he was named Jesus when he was born.

(Matthew 1:18-24)

To be continued.....  The Minion