Thursday, December 27, 2007

Live Nativity Pictures

Early in December my daughter along with a few other members of her youth group participated in a live nativity at another church. Here are a few of the pictures:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Take a Break From Holiday To-Dos With Blog Carnivals

I’ve been in and out all day today helping Santa to complete his list and when I stopped by the house long enough to drop off packages I was pleased to discover the 25th Georgia Blog Carnival has arrived for your reading pleasure over at Marketing Through the Clutter. Head on over and discover what the Georgia Blogosphere has to offer.

The latest edition of the Education Carnival is up over at The Education Wonks

The Carnival of Political Punditry can be found here and The Carnival of Family Life is over at Adventures in Juggling.

and finally Bounded Irrationality is hosting the Christian Carnival.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas to Those in Heaven

Ok, I’ll admit it. Last Christmas was hard. It was very hard. My mother had passed away in July, my father had a hip replaced in October, my sister had lost her mother-in-law in November, and my mother-in-law continued to have complications from months of chemo.

Spiritually by December I was spent…..running on fumes….barely hanging on. It was much easier to stay home on Sunday mornings than it was to sit in the service at church and wipe tears away. I would have fallen apart had it not been for my Bible, kind friends, and my understanding family.

By December I was really beginning to realize what life would be like without Mother. I had identified thousands of questions I wish I had asked and was still avoiding weeding through any of her things storied in my basement. Over at History Is Elementary I posted a 13 list regarding what I wanted for Christmas and the last thing I asked for was one more conversation with my mother.

We have been undergoing renovations at my home for over a year. Last year we were painting the great room so furniture was out of place and ladders were standing against the walls. I used the disarray in my home as an excuse for the disarray in my heart and decided to forego Christmas decorations including a tree.

In my post I'm Not Trying to be a Grinch, Really I wrote:

My family has been very supportive of my decision to not unpack Christmas and drag it about the house. It’s just not in me. The sheer thought of having to make Christmas is simply too overwhelming this year. I think I’ve finally reached the apex of my grieving and folks simply need to let me be. No more fending and fighting it off…..I need to wallow and flop about in it. I need to be messy with it and let it ooze from my pores.

Now, a year later, I still don’t think I’m done, but I am at a different place.

Time. Time. Time. That is the magic ingredient.

One of the little things that did help me last year was a poem an online friend sent me out of the blue….totally unexpected. I was touched by her effort to reach out to me in some way, and her efforts did make a difference.

Perhaps you have stumbled across this post and you are grieving over the loss of someone. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone. Others are grieving too, but while we grieve we should also be celebrating that our loved ones are in Heaven whether it is their tenth year there, their second, or even their first……..

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular please wipe away the tears

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many songs that people hold so dear
But the sound can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me; I see your tortured heart

But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.
So rejoice for me my loved ones, you know I hold you dear
And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory of my all undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than ingots made of gold,

For I can’t count the blessings or love He has for you.
So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

Merry Christmas to you and those in Heaven!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

White House Christmas Greeting

Every year since the administration of President Coolidge there has been some sort of official White House Christmas greeting that has been sent out to particular folks.

I was pleased to discover the inside of the official White House Christmas Card fror 2007 contains a Bible verse from Nehemiah.

It states: You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 6:9 NIV)

Click through to History Is Elementary to find out more and see images.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

13 Things About the Movie "The Nativity"

I watched the movie “The Nativity” last Sunday night. I had never seen it before and was very impressed regarding the movie's realism in costume, surroundings, and story overall.

Here are 13 things I’ve discovered about the movie:

1. Screenwriter Mike Rich began writing the screenplay of the movie on December 1, 2005, exactly a year before its release.

2. By the time New Line agreed to finance the film, several other studios had similar nativity scripts under review, so the film was rushed to production for a Christmas 2006 release date, thereby eliminating competition.

3. The cast were taught how to use certain tools used 2000 years ago as well as how to build homes, how to press olives and grapes, how to make bread, how to make cheese, and how to milk goats.

4. This was the first feature film to ever premiere at the Vatican.

5. The movie shows a field of maize-corn in a Nazareth farming scene. Maize-corn is native to Mesoamerica. It was grown in the Americas until the late 15th century.

6. King Herod steps out on a rampart in Jersusalem during one scene and a large expanse of the city can be seen (as matte painting) in background. During another scene, he steps out in the same location and the city background is missing (sky background instead).

7. In the beginning when the King’s son is saying the prophecy will end that night the son is on the right. A year later in the movie when that scene was being played again he was on the King’s left.

8. In the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem the columns are Corinthian, which was first used in Ancient Greece in 429 B.C. while the second Temple of Solomon (the one in the film) was completed in 515 B.C.

9. When Baby Jesus is born, he doesn’t have an umbilical cord.

10. Many times the Roman soldiers were shown with beards or shabby facial hair, the Romans at this time considered body hair to be barbaric, and therefore it was forbidden.

11. Although Nativity Scenes often include the Three Wise Men at the birth of Christ, they in fact did not find Jesus until he was closer to two years old. We are so used to it by now most don't even realize this.

12. During the movie when a man tries to steal Mary and Joseph’s money Joseph says, “What comes with us, stays with us.”

13. At one point Mary asks Joseph, “How do we raise such a child?” Joseph replies, “ I wonder if I will even be able to teach Him anything.”

Hmmn....I think I'd have the same feelings if I was in Joseph's shoes.

You can view other 13s here.

Wordless 28

This is a painting by James Tissot titled Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Luke 1:5-7 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth could not conceive, and both of them were well along in years.

See other Wordless offerings here

Thursday, December 6, 2007

When Doors Slam in Our Face

While I’m one of those that believe every moment of history is important---even some of the most mundane everyday moments---there are those events that can be placed in the monumental category. Moments like the landing of the first Europeans in America during the late 1400s and early 1500s, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, or the events of September 11th. Other monumental events include Moses being given the Ten Commandments, David’s little altercation with Goliath, and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The other morning at church our focus text was Acts 16: 6-10 which states: [Paul and his companions] went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. During the night a vision appeared to Paul: a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, “Cross over to Macedonia and help us!” After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.

At first glance it would appear this passage is merely transition from one location to another….a simple list of places Paul and his companions went on their way to Macedonia during his second missionary journey.

It is much more than that. These simple verses signify the first time the gospel will enter Europe, and I’m sure you would agree it is a very monumental event. These verses also provide insight into Paul’s character, his relationship to the Lord, and a lesson for us to apply to our own lives.

First of all the geography begs for explanation. Take a look at the map I’ve placed with this post. Note that the Bible states Paul was prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. Think of Asia today and thoughts of India, Vietnam, Korea, and China come to mind, however, during the time of the Roman Empire the province of Asia was not the Asian continent we know of today. The Roman province of Asia is present day Turkey. The map I present here is Turkey as it would have appeared during Paul’s life.

Notice the Bible text states the group traveled across Galatia and Phrygia and then north to Bithynia along the Black Sea. Having tried several directions Paul and his companions finally go another way. They traveled west to the seaport town of Troas. During Paul’s time Troas was a major seaport along the Aegean Sea and was the crossing point for those who wanted to travel across to Macedonia and then follow the land route into Rome.

Paul tried several different locations to spread the Gospel, and according to the text he was not allowed to share his message in the province of Asia. He was stopped by the Holy Spirit, the part of the Godhead that reveals the mind of God to mankind (I Peter 1: 10-12). The Holy Spirit lives within followers of Christ. It is God’s of way of revealing his heart to us. The text at I Corinthians 2: 7-13 explains God’s revelations are given without error and inspire us.

The Bible text does not explain why the doors were closed to Paul in Asia, but they were. I find it interesting that Paul kept trying. He traveled to several places in the province of Asia before reaching Troas. Knowing what I already do about Paul it would make sense that he prayed to and worshipped the Lord along the way. He might have been agitated, exasperated, and at times he might have even felt like he should just go home, but he didn’t.

Isn’t that the way we feel sometimes when we are attempting something new? Route after route to our goal is blocked, doors are closed, equipment breaks down, co-workers don’t do their share…..the list is endless. Today we live in a society where we are constantly told nothing is impossible. We are making huge strides in technology that will have tremendous impact on society in the coming years.As an educator I am to constantly tell students they are the best, they can succeed, and there is nothing that can keep them from their goals.

The thing is no matter how many self-help podcasts you view, blogs you read, or books you buy doors will be closed in your face. Like Paul, the Holy Spirit will prevent you from taking a particular route. What must be remembered is in the overall scheme of things it isn’t about me or you…’s about God and his plan. Sometimes our purpose and intent is not in alignment with the will of God, and we will be told no just like Paul.

The trick is to keep going….keep knocking on those doors as Jesus teaches in Luke 11:9---“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Paul traveled in several different directions and finally the only choice that was left for him was west. Paul didn’t stop….he kept moving. Once at Troas he received his vision---a supernatural image or picture given by a revelation of God that can come when you are awake or sleeping. Because of this close relationship with the Lord Paul trusted his vision and it made all the difference in the world because entering Europe was the will of God.

Closed doors are not moments to succumb to moments of self- loathing and “can’t help its”. They are prompts for you keep the Lord close to you as a partner in whatever goal you are trying to reach. Through prayer and worship He will provide the key to unlock that all elusive door.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Biblical Grocery List

If you lived during Biblical times what would your grocery list look like?

Here are 13 food items that are mentioned in the Bible:

1. Coriander
*The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers [made] with honey (Exodus 16:31)
*The manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of bdellium. (Numbers 11:7)

2. Pomegrantates
*Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink! (Number 20:5)
*A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8)

3. Gourds
*One went out to the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine from which he gathered as many wild gourds as his garment would hold. Then he came back and cut them up into the pot of stew, but they were unaware [of what they were]. (2 Kings 4:39)

4. Barley
*A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8)
*Also take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt. Put them in a single container and make them into bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the number of days you lie on your side, 390 days. (Ezekiel 4:9)

5. Fish
*So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish---153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.

6. Partridge
*So don’t let my blood fall to the ground far from the LORD’s presence, for the king of Israel has come out to search for a flea, like one who pursues a partridge in the mountains. (1 Samuel 26:20)
*He who makes a fortune unjustly is [like] a partridge that hatches eggs it didn’t lay. In the middle of his days [his riches] will abandon him, so in the end he will be a fool. (Jeremiah 17:11)

7. Oxen
*So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen’s wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him. (1 Kings 19:21)

8. Curds
*By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey. (Isaiah 7:15)

9. Locusts
*John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)

10. Wine
*Whatever is needed---young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, or wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem---let it be given to them every day without fail (Ezra 6:9)
*”Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from---though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine until now.” (John 2: 7-10)

11. Apples
*Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples for I am lovesick (Song of Solomon 2:5)

12. Anise
*Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the most important matters of the law---justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

13. Cucumbers
*We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. (Numbers 11:5)

Join in on the fun at Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wordless: Verse 27

Look for an explanation in the comments.
Join in on the Wordless Wednesday fun

A Song for Tuesday

This song was sung Sunday morning at church….I find the lyrics inspiring.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is trueThat God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
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