December 26 '98
First Christmas Jesus, Born In Bethlehem
Stories recounting the origins of Christmas trees, the development of the Santa Claus phenomena, and the contributions of organizations such as the Salvation Army have appeared in various publications that this writer has read this Christmas season. These stories would not be a drop in the ocean of all that has been written to help educate us and prepare us for the holiday season. Every December, year after year, you will find all sorts of articles that relate to the event known as Christmas, and it is good that this occurs. This Christmas season, I have not read any articles devoted to "the reason for the season," but the reason behind our Christmas celebration ranks as one of the most important events in human history. It is a story that should be retold again and again. It is a story whose meaning is timeless, for its importance will not diminish even centuries from now. While Christmas may seem to drown in a sea of worldliness revelry, it will always mark an event that completely changed the world. That event you all know as the birth of one named Jesus, and hailed throughout Christendom as the prophetic fulfillment of a Savior for the World.
That event took place in an obscure Jewish village named Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus was a humble one and occurred in what we would refer to as a stable, because all the "motels" were filled to overflowing. His parents had traveled to an ancestral city, at the urging of the Roman emperor, in order to be counted in the nations census. The parents of the Promised One were of ignoble birth, save being descendants of David, a greatly respected warrior/ king of Israel. The birth of Jesus astounded the world in the days of the Caesars of the Roman Empire, and it astounds many today.
The nation of Israel, under Roman oppression at the time of Jesus birth, never accepted him as their king for they perceived the ancient scriptures to point to an earthly warrior/ king who would restore their nation to its rightful place among the nations of the world, or at the very least, overthrow their oppressors. Instead, the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people would one day coerce the Romans to execute their long awaited savior by means of crucifixion, a cruel and inhumane form of capital punishment.
Comprehending Gods methods to govern the affairs of mankind is not a task that can be attained by worldly minds. His wisdom is but foolishness to them. His redemptive act, made possible by the death of His Son, is viewed as nonsense by the carnal mind. Indeed, apart from a mind seeking after the heart of God, the acceptance of Jesus as Savior of the world in simply unbelievable. However to a believer, Christmas brings unspeakable joy. Yes, joy, even unto the world. If it were possible for all Christendom to have erred, then we Christians, to borrow from one of Pauls letters, "are of all men most deserving of the worlds pity," for we have engaged ourselves and invested our lives in an imagined cause. Yet, if we are found correct, concerning our hope in Jesus as our Savior, then our joy is understandably boundless, constrained or contained only by whatever limits God imposes upon his creations of earth and the heavens.
It is such "boundless joy" that Christians seek to express at Christmas through gifts of love to family, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. Their personal mirth is derived not in receiving gifts from others, but instead from the act of giving gifts to others. The Christian completely understands and rejoices in the admonition of Jesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Luke, the New Testament author of the book that bears his name, provides us with our best account of the birth of Jesus. Luke, Chapter 2, draws into focus the natural and the supernatural. The natural aspect includes the birth of a baby and the supernatural aspect is illustrated by a host of angelic beings, seen by lowly shepherds as they watched over their flock during the calving season, and further refined by the shepherds testimony of angels singing praises to God and bestowing Gods blessings upon those who please Him.
It is easy for the skeptic to dismiss the Biblical accounts of the virgin birth of Jesus, the humanity and deity of Jesus, and the angelic appearances and announcements. It is equally easy for agnostics to taunt, "Prove that God exists." However, the strongest proof of the reality of the events and the existence of God is found in the innumerable lives that have been transformed by this One whom we call Jesus and by the gentle, quiet testimonies of such lives, today.
God chose to offer salvation to the world through an unusual means. To the Jews, God has yet to fulfill his promise of a savior. Christians find the promise fulfilled in the life of a baby born in Bethlehem of Judea more than 2000 years ago. The first Christmas impacts every person who has lived since the birth of Jesus. Every person makes a choice to accept or reject Jesus as Savior of the World. It is a choice that impacts each person not only in this life but also in the life that is to follow.
Two thousand years ago, Gods unusual plan to reconcile the world unto Himself caught the religious aristocracy by surprise. Though they had the scriptures and the prophets, they misunderstood Gods gift of His Son to the world. Today we have the scriptures of the New Testament to study and help prepare us for the end days, the "Second Coming" of Christ, the binding of Satan, and other apocalyptic events.
I am left wondering if God will surprise everyone by providing a strange twist to His plans for those future events and once again throw the religious experts into widespread panic as they seek to understand that which they believed to have reconciled to their own satisfaction. Regardless, whether you agree with my thoughts or not, please dont put too much stock in all the millennia rhetoric you will hear, in the next year, regarding the end of the world. Instead, let us concentrate our thoughts on how we can best serve our fellowman and thus honor the God we worship. In this fashion, we shall celebrate the first Christmas all year long.
Tonka Christmas By Wayne L. Carter
Halfway through my thirteenth year, my younger brother, James, was birthed on a bone-chillingly cold, January night. The night was so cold that I was unable to sleep warmly, though I lay buried under massive amounts of Aunt Jos flannel sheets and blankets. James would be the last child born to my parents. He and my older brother, Fred, are separated by a span of twenty years. Had Fred been living at home at the time, instead of traveling the globe in the employment of the U.S. Air Force, his youngest brother would have seemed more like a son instead of a brother.
Indeed, the age difference between James and me was sufficient for me to treat him much like a son of mine insofar as discipline and instruction were concerned. I did not mind the responsibility, and he never showed any signs of rebelliousness regarding my authority over him. I had wanted a younger brother for most of my life, because my older brother was too old to play with a brother six years younger. I was nine years old when Sarah was born, and though I was disappointed she did not arrive as a boy, I soon adapted to having a baby sister around. I was probably not as useful to my parents in the rearing of Sarah as I was to that of James, but by the time James was born, I was older, wiser, and better equipped for the task.
As a teen, I enjoyed watching each stage in the development of my baby brother, from coaxing him to take his first steps, to teaching him how to ride a bicycle, and to later fish with rod and reel alongside me. I did not teach him how to break an arm by jumping off a seesaw or riding a horse under an overhanging tree limbI let him learn those things on his own. However, I tried to teach him manual dexterity by tilting a flat surface to and fro in order to work a marble through a tricky maze. I tried to teach him the skills of the meat-cutter trade and the importance of taking pride in whatever work was to be done.
I observed a tendency of James, at a very young age, to desire to understand how things worked. He was inquisitive and showed an early interest in toy cars and trucks. He was especially interested in refining his motor skills as they related to removing the tires and/or wheels of his entire collection of toy cars and trucks. In fact, he was so good at the task of wheel removal that by the time he was five years old, he could pop the wheels off any toy he was given in a days time or less.
I remember well the Christmas before James turned six in January. I had saved some money to buy presents for family members and had set aside a bundle for James present. I knew my folks would not be able to buy him any expensive toys, but I had seen a set of fire trucks that I wanted to give James for Christmas. I scraped together the grand total of $27.50 (before tax) to purchase two fire trucks. One truck was a pumper with a removable ladder; the other was a magnificent hook and ladder, tractor-trailer rig. The ladder could be swiveled and extended to reach the upper floors of an imagined multistory building in order to save occupants or direct streams of water to portions inaccessible to firemen on the ground.
Tonka was the manufacturer of both trucks. As I remember, the metal bodies and working parts were solidly manufactured in the good old U.S. of A. I considered the purchase an expensive one, but believed the fire trucks capable of enduring the torture tests through which James was certain to put them. When you consider the minimum wage that year was about $1.00 per hour, you may have a feel for the value of the same fire trucks on todays market.
I wont presume to know whether or not those fire trucks contributed to a memorable Christmas for my younger brother, but they certainly contributed to one of my most enjoyable Christmases. You might say I had a personal interest in the well being of the fire trucks, so I kept a close eye on them for the next couple of years. It would seem that I had finally found a toy for my baby brother, one from which he could not remove the wheels. However, in the passing of time (almost three years), James discovered a way to pry the wheels off the magnificent set of fire trucks. By then, I had realized a return on my investment in the many pleasurable hours my little brother had spent enjoying my gifts to him.
In my brothers younger years, I gave him a lot of toys and a lot of my time (big brothers like toys, too). I like to think that I supplemented the parenting skills of our parents and made a lasting contribution to the character development of my younger brother who turns forty-three this coming January.
Merry Christmas "little" brother.
Bodock Beau Horoscope For Rednecks
Beau received this interesting article from his "surfing" buddy, Joe Fannin:
It has become pretty obvious that our present astrological signs have served their purpose and that we should get rid of them. When out driving around one can see bulls, and once in a great while I suppose, even see a ram. Up the street, there may be some twins. The rest of these things are just too obscure. You only see crabs on vacation. There are no lions, or scorpions, not many archers and no damn water bearers. Virgins? Needless to say, the neighborhood's not crawling with them either. So... what we need here is some relevance. We need things we can recognize up there in the night sky.
Dec 22 - Jan 20
Although you appear crude, you are actually very slick on the inside. Okra have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his life and see the seeds of his influence everywhere. Stay away from Moon Pies
Jan 21 - Feb 19
Chitlins often come from humble backgrounds. Many times, they're uncomfortable talking about just where they came from. A Chitlin, however, can make something of himself, if he's motivated and has plenty of seasoning. When it comes to dealing with Chitlins be very careful. Chitlins can burn and then erupt like Mt. Vesuvius, and this can make for a really terrible mess. Chitlins are best with Catfish and Okra. Remember that when marriage time rolls around.
Feb 20- Mar 20
You have an overwhelming curiosity. You're unsatisfied with the surface of things, and you feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you had some inner hunger. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.
Mar 21- Apr 20
You're the type that spends a lot of time on the front porch. It's a cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies. Big and round are the key words here. You should marry anybody who you can get remotely interested in the idea. It's not going to be easy. This might be the year to think about aerobics. Maybe not.
Apr 21 - May 21
When confronted with life's difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don't-bother-me about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you're dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy, but seems to work for you. One day, however, it won't work and you may find your problems actually running you over.
May 22 - June 21
Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you're always hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, the bathtub to the living room. You tend to be not particularly attractive physically, but you have very, very good heads.
June 22- July 23
Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the "melting pot" of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, if you are Collards, stay away from Moon Pies. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.
July 24 - Aug 23
Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, although one: Whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. You catfish are never easy people to understand. You prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.
Aug 24 - Sept 23
Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. ou love to travel, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese or gravy or bacon or butter or eggs. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things, that serves you well.
Sept 24 - Oct 23
You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best -- your friends and loved ones-may find that your personality is much too salty, and their criticism will probably affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. On the road of life, you can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.
Oct 24 - Nov 22
Always invite a Butter Bean because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.
Nov 23 - Dec 21
You have a tendency to develop a tough exterior, but you are actually quite gentle. Whats a good evening for you? Old friends, a fire, some roots, fruit, worms, and insects. You are a throwback. You're not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You're not concerned with anything about today. You're really almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably want to marry another Armadillo, but Possum is another somewhat kinky, mating possibility.