Christmas Day

On the way home from midnight service, we listened one more time to The Gaithers’ Christmas CD, The Greatest Story Ever Told, pulling into the driveway to the last delicate note of Mary, Did You Know, blessing us as our heads hit pillow approximately 1 am.  I am up ahead of Honey, talking to you in the pre-dawn morning light, waiting to grind the coffee beans.  We have exactly 7 gifts under the tree for the two of us.  The stockings each have DVDs, a jolly tradition to fatten the movie collection, and somebody got a new cologne to replace the Old Spice (finally).

Christmas. It is what it is, a day set aside to honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We dress up, buy gifts, give to the poor, bake and cook and eat, send greeting cards and letters reporting the year on one page or just sign the card, and attend an extra worship service.

And this is good in its simplicity and adornment.

Then we diet or plan to diet.

I’ve posted many times my complaints of the Christmas machine, how it needs a face lift, a tweak here or there, that we should move the date, tear away the pagan symbols, etc.  I still want to move it, I still want to retire the jolly old elf. Greg Laurie, a prominent minister in California, suggested we at least eliminate gift exchange in a effort to tone down the unrealistic expectation factor for people who become depressed or in debt trying.  I don’t know if I agree with elimination, maybe reduce the pile under the tree and give more to those in need.

In short,

  • research states Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and born the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
  • Santa was originally a false god called Obed or Obid or some such name but is now publicized as a 19th century morph of Nicholas, born in Turkey in the early 300’s, who was a bishop in that early church father group, performed miracles, gave extravagantly to the needy, attended the Council of Nicaea from which he was thrown out and jailed for slapping another attendee who insisted Jesus wasn’t deity
  • from that Council, Constantine made Christianity legal, profitable, and state run, adopting nearly all the pagan symbols from Babylon BTW (and we know how God just loves Babylon), renaming them Christian to attract the multitudes to the new easy religion and pay taxes to him. He was baptized and allegedly converted. If that’s right, I’m going to have a serious discussion with him in heaven right after I scold Eve (poor Eve. Maybe she’s heard it already).

Christmas today resembles nothing of Jesus’ day, Constantine trashed all things Jewish and lest we forget, Christianity is grafted into (not from) the Judeac root, Jesus Himself.

In spite of it all, those who get it worship not the baby, but the existing risen Lord Jesus and rejoice, celebrating through gift exchange and fullness of food, sharing both in Jesus’ name.

The world has gone overboard, twisting each detail.  Christmas is an opportunity to profit, eat, drink, and be merry in all its temporary loud emptiness and glitter, avoiding the intent and meaning of Luke 2. It’s misplaced but we’ve mentioned that already.

(sigh) I can’t fix it.  But I can tell it better.  So can parents teach the real meaning, and please understand you are confusing your children when you let them actually truly believe in the unrecognizable morph of a false god, then a righteous servant of God into an elf in a red suit who can do magic.  Let’s have some fun with fairy tales but call them fairy tales, games if you wish. Consider this.  If they believe in Santa because you said to, and believe in Jesus because you said to, and find out Santa isn’t real, what about Jesus? Is He real or not?

The coffee is on.  The stockings beg attention.  One of my gifts is a tallit, a prayer shawl like those worn from Moses’ day, like in Jesus’ day, like He Himself wore.  I can hardly wait to see it.  I replaced Honey’s worn out Thompson Chain Reference study Bible.  What a blessing he wears out Bibles when years ago he didn’t open it.

May the peace of the season dwell in your hearts.  May your giving give all year. May the Messiah of the manger live in your homes.

Picking them up tonight!

You should have seen it.  Two people our age trying to squeeze a giant piece of  furniture through a smaller than average bedroom doorway.

In order to get to that point, we moved the end table from the master bath, moved the vanity table and bench there in order to move the marble topped credenza in its place, the leftover living room TV on that, so the sofa could sit in the bedroom offering an extra space to sleep company and watch TV too in order to place our pretty new matching mocha recliners in its place in the living room. Easy!

This was a sofa well past its prime and existing on borrowed time when we got it in a used to used trade with the Youth Group. In furniture years it has to be older than Abraham on Isaac’s 40th birthday. The springs sag in the corner, there is no softness, it was beyond fixing.  Trust me, we tried stuffing it with towels with no discernable improvement.  Its one good feature, other than its color – it matches our fireplace wall, or rather, the fireplace wall matches it – is that the popup foot rests entertain the grandsons for hours making it worth keeping.

Because it is a full length sofa with overstuffed arms, the one piece metal frame disallowing separation, it’s huge, I mean hoog, very large, very heavy and stubbornly inflexible.  It’s a geezer. Being a single piece, it was also a 10 on the Clumsy Scale.

Take the door off. (drill noises) You lift that end.  I can only push it, can’t lift it. Twist it. No, the other way. The frame is caught. That’s a nice gouge in the wall. We’re painting anyway. Not this week! Okay, how about standing it up on end.  The arm is caught. Squish it. No, it’s the frame in the arm stuck now. Pull back your end. Can’t, too heavy. Yeah, walk it. Can you get back out the doorway? There’s no space to slide food to you.  If you pull your end your way… I need to pull the end my direction. Can’t. How about we flatten it by extending the foot rests? Now tip it. The metal frame is hitting the door frame. I’m not as young as I used to be! Wait, wait, my foot’s there. Can we turn it upside down and angle the back in first? Now I can’t (push, push) get (push, shove) the (hit, pound) foot rests back. This is a bear cat (spelling adjusted). What door did it come in in the first place? Front? No, I’m not ready to join the ranks of those with upholstered furniture on the porch. It won’t fit through the patio door either. Lean it there. I have to step outside and cool off.  You know, it’s pretty long. I think if the thing ever fits through the door we’ll have to move the armoire. Your chain saw won’t cut through the metal frame, will it?

It took just 10 minutes to unload the new rocker recliner boxes from the truck bed, unpack, and assemble them.  The small drop leaf end table was slipped in between.  Ahhhhhh, that feels great. Here, you sit in mine and I’ll sit in yours to see if either fits better or the same.  Mine’s fine. Mine too. Wow, they look good there. If we ever get the rest of the room repainted the walls will look as great as the chairs. The floor lamp goes behind the drop leaf. You know, the sofa looks pretty good in front of the window. Where’s the remotes caddy?

On the sofa. Do you mind getting up?

Making a difference

I hope this makes the rounds. I found this on Larry Who’s site on my side bar, who moved it from someone else’s on his.

Many times we think we need a pulpit, or that our talents are too small.  Maybe we struggle that we don’t have time. Or are afraid of rejection.  That’s a biggie with me.  I want to minister at a distance.  Do watch all the way to the 8:48 of this visually charming and moving video.  I hope you at least mist up.

I’ve heard of this man before, can’t remember where.  But now, he’s on my site and I will be referencing on Facebook as well.

I’ll take two, please, in the mocha

Almost 12 years ago we scaled down, selling off furniture that wouldn’t fit in the apartment 1200 miles away.

Where’s my recliner? You sold it!!??!! The only recliner that’s ever fit my back and neck–ever? The only recliner in the entire La-Z-Boy gallery in Atlanta furniture market that fit my back and neck? THAT recliner????!!!!

That recliner.  It wouldn’t fit.  I’ve disputed that statement, but gone it was. Sold. He said we’d buy another one when we got a bigger place.  Well, we got a bigger place in 2000.

Today I decided the recliner sofa donated to the youth group for which we traded our other sofa given to us by friends who replaced theirs, was being replaced and replaced this week.  I’ve had it with the slanty cushion badly bolstered with towels in the springs.  My bum goes numb and the feet go to sleep.

Honey picked me up after work and we went out west.  “Did you print of the maps?” No time. “What time does the La-Z-Boy gallery close?” Didn’t call. Too busy. “Brown Squirrel closes at 8. Let’s check out LZB’s 2 for 1 sale first.”

Two streets, one wrong direction on the right street, and one stop to ask directions later, we couldn’t find LZB.

We had a half hour to get to Brown Squirrel, not acronymed here, and pretty much sniffed our way on the other side of the interstate until we spied the sign with the goofy squirrel on it.

“Is this the one we talked about on the phone?”  Not a good fit on the neck.  The back is tilting too far backward.  “Another model for the same price? Show me.”

Ray sent us to the other end of the store while he checked stock.  We looked at every recliner for the price starting with a 2 and found none.  We were starting to leave when Ray found us.  One chair had its tag turned around.  Yup. There it is.  A 2.  It’s green.

It fit.  Green …. cooouuld work… maybe.

“It comes in mocha,” pointing to a love seat about 15 feet away, same fabric.

“If you borrow Jim’s truck on Friday after work, you can return the truck when you go out to the shop Saturday.  You know, I’m thinking the youth group sofa could go where the marble topped credenza is, that can go in the living room, no, how about the rockers in front of the window, we’ll think of something.

“We’ll take two.  In the mocha.”

Light of the world

The Bible has the patterns, or blueprint, of when Jesus was conceived, when He was born, and perhaps will return, and his sacrifice.  They’re laid out in the feasts given to Moses.

Because I have to get ready for work, I’ll add some detail when I get home, so stay tuned and don’t touch that dial.

In short, He was born in the fall, first day of the one week, 8 day Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, known also as Sukkot.  Being the Lamb of God, He died on Friday, the day before the high holy day of that year’s Passover, Saturday and Sabbath, giving up His spirit (voluntarily) at the precise hour lambs were being slaughtered in the temple — 3pm. That’s why they had to rush him to the tomb before sundown.

The scripture gives us the timing between Elizabeth and Mary.  Counting backward, the Light of the World came to us in Mary’s womb during Chanukah, a festival added only a few years before Jesus’ arrival and is also called The Feast of Lights.

Got it? Light of the world, Feast of Lights?

Therefore, December has great meaning associated with the coming of our savior.  But once again, through good ol’ Constantine’s hatred of the Jews, the date and the perception were manipulated to eliminate the real meaning and circumstance in order to de-Jew Christianity.

He was conceived in December.  He was born in the fall.  Consider also the feast of Trumpets is shortly before Tabernacles.  During Trumpets one of them the Trump of God.

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, when the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

We gentiles don’t have all the answers.  We are the grafted ones, the adopted.  It’s about time we paid attention to our Root.

Giving

Have you noticed that Christmas is the season for giving?  The bell ringers are ringing, the toy drives are driving. Coats for kids, angel trees, cans of food instead of tickets to Christmas plays — it’s the season to give.  It’s a teaching moment for kids to pick out something for a child they don’t know and not something for themselves.

Church choirs go caroling to shut-ins, walk through nursing homes singing Silent Night to Jingle Bells and exiting with “We WHISHSH you a merry Christmas” again teaching the children how to give of themselves to bring joy to the lonely.

I applaud.  I approve.  It is good, very, very good.  But when all your giving is done in one short time frame along with everyone else, it’s slam giving, one month fits all year.  It’s huge supplies at the food bank — hopefully it will last 11 months.  It’s carolers lining up at the entrance of the nursing home — too much of a good thing in a short time frame and nothing for another year.

A couple of decades ago Elaine Dollerschell brought up an interesting concept.  “Why don’t we skip Christmas caroling to the elderly in the nursing homes this Christmas and instead hold a party for them in January or March?  That way we don’t have to make an appointment, competing with all the other churches, and the residents don’t have to wait 11 months to have their spirits lifted.”

Hmmmm.  Elaine, you said a mouth full.  Within a span of 20 minutes today while I was watching a colorized Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwick movie, I witnessed two pleas from Feed the Children featuring 10 or more celebrities in each showing “real children with hopes and dream who are hungry.”  It’s good to have these drives to raise money for charity especially when people are in a mindset to give as in “strike while the iron is hot.” I’d like to see them offer a 12 month payment plan.

The hungry are hungry January through November.  The lonely are alone 11 months between groups of carolers.

I was witness to at least two occasions and many discussions of my dad giving his hard earned cash to panhandlers, of him helping someone off the sidewalk and giving him a couple of bucks for food.  The argument always was “You know he’s just going to buy more booze!”

My answer, as was my dad’s, is “So what?”  Then you just wasted your money!

No, I didn’t.  I gave with pure motives.  Don’t need a thank you, don’t need an I.O.U. note.

Choose your recipients carefully enough to know if the charity that claims to feed children actually feeds children if you can find out.  It’s good to know your giving is helping.  But if there’s no way of knowing for sure, don’t withhold your giving.

It’s your heart that benefits.  It’s your heart that God sees.  Do you give only when you know it’s a worthy cause in your estimation? More to the theme here, do you give only in December?

Is there a shelter or a food bank you can pick up a few extra cans of beans or soup for every time you shop for your family throughout the year?  Is there a ministry you can sign up for to have a certain dollar amount automatically deducted from your checking account every month? You can investigate them for their sincerity or you can pray God sends your $10 or $50 where it needs to go.

No extra bucks? Stand in the serving line of the homeless shelter.  Knit or buy  some hats, gloves, and scarves and pull over to the side of the street where the homeless hang out and give them out.  Where I live there are kids at bus stops in below freezing temperatures wearing shorts, maybe because they’re not too bright, trying to appear sexy or tough, or maybe because they don’t have warm clothes because it’s Tennessee and we don’t have all that much cold weather and it’s not cost effective to buy heavy clothes.

Instead of judging their intelligence, assume their need and meet it.  Keep some hats, gloves, and scarves in the back seat.  Maybe the local elementary school needs a supply of the same for those who lack or those who forgot to bring one and need something to keep them warm on the way home.

There are endless opportunities to give and to teach giving.  December is the top feel good month of the year.  Go for it! Reach out and teach by example.  But…. or should I say “And….”

How about using December to launch a new habit? A new habit that becomes so ingrained you don’t feel the giving surge at Christmas. A habit that inspires you to give regularly, using your imagination, or like I already said, an online automatic donation you don’t even have to think about — or talk about.

I’ve experienced a new facet to the bell ringers.  In the lobby of Shopko was a lady in a portable hospital bed wearing her ear muffs, mittens, and had blankets draped over her.  Hmmm.  Really?  I’ll bet she pulled in extra that day.  I’m not saying she was faking anything or planned on playing the Pity Card.  But it was a first for me, this new twist of the heart string.

Years ago Honey’s dad, Herb, gave a twenty to a scruffy man who walked into the store begging politely for a hand out.  He promised to pay it back.  He was not seen again.  Herb was teased relentlessly for years.  Was Herb an idiot for being taken in, fooled by a con man?  Don’t know.  If the man made a living that way, that’s between him and God.  Those who gave to him gave from their hearts.

Don’t worry if what you give won’t be appreciated or if your gift is tricked out of you or if it’s used unwisely.

God sees all hearts.  Just give.

On the way to the shower

That Joyce Voice (Joyce Meyer) stopped me long enough to write it down–

(not an exact quote because the morning brain has more holes in it than the late night brain)

She said, Whatever effort you make to keep the law before you become a Christian (while you’re trying to act like one) is the extent to which you will be judgmental toward others who can’t keep the law after you become a Christian.

Chew on that for a day or two.