The Town That Santa Forgot

June 25, 2017

Here’s a short Hanna-Barbera Christmas video starring Dick Van Dyke that I became aware of just a couple days ago.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Book Review: The Red Suit Diaries

May 25, 2017

The Red Suit Diaries by Ed ButchartRedSuitDiaries

A Real-Life Santa on Hopes, Dreams, and Childlike Faith

This book is a biographical sketch of Ed Butchart’s journey to becoming Santa Claus for the children and children-at-heart of the Atlanta area.  He begins with the first time he donned the red suit.  He was a senior in high school at the time.

After high school he went to college to study journalism then joined the Marine Corp.  When his time in as a Marine was over he became a salesman for a medical diagnostics company.

He was also active in his church where he befriended a wheelchair-bound man who had cerebral palsy.  This friendship eventually led Ed to stop being a very successful salesman and start a non-profit business repairing wheelchairs and other medical equipment for folks in need named Friends of Disabled Adults, Inc. (FODA).

The next time he donned the red suit was for a special event hosted by his church.  This launched him into becoming a professional Santa Claus.  Ed’s faith became a big part of his philosophy, of what he endeavored to portray as Santa Claus.  He was determined that each child who came to see him would experience the love of God Who sent His son Jesus born on that first Christmas day to die for the sins of the world and to know that just as God loves him or her Santa loves him or her, too.

The book is full of Santa Ed’s encounters with children.  One of my favorite stories was of a family who visited Santa.  There were five poorly dressed children.  At the request of the oldest child Santa Ed started with the younger children.  After listening to their Christmas lists, the oldest girl sat on Santa’s lap.  Her only request was for a Christmas tree for the younger children to enjoy.  Ed, seeing the family did not have extra money for Christmas, encouraged the young lady to keep hope in Christmas and her dreams alive for herself and her siblings.  He told the man who videotaped for sale each child’s interview with Santa to give the family for free their children’s interview tape.  As the family walked away the videographer followed them and gave them a $100 bill, telling them it was from Santa, so they could get a Christmas tree and make their Christmas merry.  The family’s return thanking Santa for “his” gift is priceless.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I believe you will enjoy it also.  It made me want to put on the red suit and share the love of Jesus, the One whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day, with children in my area.  Perhaps someday, if God wills it, I will do so.

Easter message & Hot Cross Buns

April 25, 2017

The Eternal Message
by Margaret Rorke

Once again in joy and wonder
We approach the holy tomb
Where despair’s been rent asunder;
Where the Marys went at dawning
On that week’s initial day;
Where the sepulcher is yawning
For its stone’s been rolled away.

Once again the angel motions
To the faithful to draw near
And to offer their devotions
With the news, “He is not here!”
He has risen!  Be not fearful.
As he promised he has done.
Be not sick at heart or tearful.
His great victory is won.

Once again we thank our Master
For the message Easter gives.
Though there’s heartbreak and disaster
For each one of us who lives,
We can glimpse eternal portals
Through a faith which makes it known
That what means the most to mortals
Isn’t earthbound by a stone.

Ideals Easter, 1988

 

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon instant powdered milk
1/4 cup white sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg white
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup dried currants
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons milk

Directions

  1. Put warm water, butter, skim milk powder, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, egg, egg white, flour, and yeast in bread maker and start on dough program.
  2. When 5 minutes of kneading are left, add currants and cinnamon. Leave in machine till double.
  3. Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.
  5. Mix egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush on balls.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.
  7. To make crosses: mix together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk. Place glaze in a piping bag or a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off; pipe a cross onto each roll.

 

Easter’s Christmas Connection

March 26, 2017

We are now in the middle of the Easter season.  For many this is a time of looking forward to colored eggs, candy, and Easter bunnies.  For others it is a time of remembering Easter’s Christmas connection.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Baby whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas, grew up living a life free from sin as predicted by the prophets of the Old Testament.  He led an itinerant ministry up and down the tiny country of Israel.  He preached the message “The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand” while training twelve men to spread His message throughout the world.


In spite of all the good He did, in spite of the following He had among the people, the leaders, both religious and political, hated Him.  They conspired against Him, arrested Him on fake charges, and held an illegal kangaroo court to convict Him of a crime He never committed.  They pressured the Roman governorship to give Him a death sentence.  Then they made sure the death sentence was carried out.  All this, too, was predicted by the prophets of the Old Testament.


But that is not the end of the story.  Three days later the event occurred that many celebrate on Easter Sunday.  God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead signifying that He accepted Jesus’ payment for the penalty of our sins.


This same Jesus Who was born in a stable whose birthday we celebrate Christmas Day died to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind and Rose from the dead Easter morning to seal the deal for all time.  It is now up to each one of us to accept that payment for the penalty of our sins.  If you have not yet accepted that payment for the penalty of your sins I hope you will do so soon.


That is Easter’s Christmas connection.

History of Christmas Traditions

February 25, 2017

My friends at Tree Classics shared this History of Christmas Traditions with me so I thought I would share it with you.  Thank you, Tree Classics!  I bet there is something here that you did not know.  Now I wonder what Michelangelo used to sculpt his snowman.

treeclassics-infographic-final-v2

For more Christmas tradition history visit Tree Classics’ blog.

Please share some of your Christmas traditions in the comments below.

Christmas blessings!

Thinking back, looking forward

January 29, 2017

This Christmas I really wanted to visit the home folk, but I could not.  My family is large requiring two vehicles to travel anywhere together.  We just did not have the money to do it.  I thought of them often this Christmas season.  Perhaps you were in the same situation as I was so I hope this poem taken from the Country Christmas book published by Ideals.

The Heart Goes Home
Grace V. Watkins

Always the heart goes home on Christmas Eve,
Goes silently across a continent,
Or mountains, or the seas.
  A heart will leave
The glitter of a city street and, sent
By something deep and timeless, find the way
To a little cottage on a country hill.

And even if the little cottage may
Have disappeared, a heart will find it still.

The smile of tenderness upon the faces,
The simple words, the arms secure and strong,
The sweetness of the well-remembered places –

All these a heart will find and will belong
Once more to country hills, however far,
And sense the holy presence of the Star.

 

The little snow we had at Christmas time has long been gone, but I am looking forward to more hopefully soon.

Winter Night
Author Unknown

Outside, the icy wind with eerie sound
Sweeps through the trees and chants a minor strain,
Like one who on some endless quest is bound,
Seeking for that which he may never gain.

Grateful am I that I am housed tonight
Within four walls, the hearth fire flickering low;
You near to share with me in this delight
That soothes our senses with its genial glow.

We speak not any word to break the spell –
We fear to mar this perfect, golden hour;
Who called the winter drear?
  Do we not dwell
With beauty as lovely as a summer flower?

Christmas blessings to you and your family!

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2016

The Characters of Christmas – Jesus

December 24, 2016

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

There has never been a more awaited birth or a longer celebrated one.  Ever since sin first entered the Garden of Eden through Adam and Eve, the world waited for the coming of the One who would destroy sin and the evil one.  Then one night in a little town named Bethlehem the One arrived as a little baby, God’s gift to mankind, the first Christmas gift.

Many men prophesied about this One, the Messiah, Savior of all the world.  Moses wrote that this One would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah (Genesis 17:3, 7, 19, 21:12, 22:18, 28:13-14, 49:8-10, Numbers 24:17).  Isaiah added that He would descend from Jesse (Isaiah 11:1); and Jeremiah added that He would come from Jesse’s son David, king of Israel (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15).  The prophet Micah further said that out of all the towns in Judah He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3).  Isaiah further prophesied that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).  David also foretold that God would be the Father of the Savior (Psalm 2:7).  This had to be because He could not save the world from their sins if He had sin in His nature too.  Since the sin nature was passed on through the man, the mother of the Savior had to be a virgin and the father had to be God.  Isaiah also said that this One would be God Himself (Isaiah 9:6-7).

King David, along with the prophet Isaiah, said that kings would bring Him gifts and bow down to worship Him (Psalm 72:10-15, Isaiah 60:3).  Hosea prophesied that He would spend time in Egypt (Hosea 11:1), and Jeremiah foretold the weeping that occurred when Herod killed all the boy babies two years old and under in Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15).  Isaiah even revealed that the Savior would live in the area around Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2).  Many more prophesies were recorded throughout the Old Testament about the Messiah, the Savior, but we won’t go into them here.

Only one person fulfilled all these prophesies.  He was born in Bethlehem to a virgin, Mary, a direct descendant of King David.  He was named Jesus. Angels announced his birth to shepherds. Kings known as wise men or magi brought Him gifts and bowed down to worship Him.  He was taken to Egypt by Mary and Joseph just before Herod called for the killing of Bethlehem’s baby boys two years old and younger.  He lived there until Herod died.  Then Joseph brought the family back to Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

Jesus lived a life just like we do.  He was tempted to sin just like we are, but He never sinned.  He suffered persecutions from those who hated Who He was and what He stood for.  Then He was crucified on a cruel Roman cross not because of something He did for He did nothing wrong but because He was the Son of God.  He went to the cross as God’s sacrificial lamb willingly giving up His life so that sin and the Devil’s hold on humanity would be broken forever.  Then Jesus rose from the dead to complete His wonderful work of salvation.  All this was prophesied in the Old Testament, too.

This year as you celebrate the birth of Jesus consider what gift you are going to give Him.  The gift He wants most is you.

Merry Christmas!

Names of Jesus
The Amen – Revelation 3:14
Angel – Genesis 48:16, Exodus 23:20,21
Anointed – Psalm 2:2
Apostle – Hebrews 3:1
Author and Finisher of our faith – Hebrews 12:2
Beginning and End of the Creation of God – Revelation 3:14, 22:13
Beloved Son – Matthew 3:17
My Beloved – Ephesians 1:6
Only Begotten – John 1:14, 18
The Branch – Isaiah 11:1, Matthew 2:23
Bread of Life – John 6:32
Bridegroom – Matthew 9:15
Christ “Messiah, the Anointed One” – John 1:41
Consolation – Luke 2:25
Cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20
Counselor – Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 2:3
Dayspring – Luke 1:78
Deliverer – Luke 2:11
Door – John 10:9
Emmanuel – Isaiah 7:14
The Faithful Witness – Revelation 5:5
The Father of Eternity – Isaiah 9:6, Revelation 1:8
God – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1
God, My Savior – Isaiah 45:1
The Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-3
Governor – Matthew 2:6
Head of the Church – Ephesians 5:23
Heir – Hebrews 1:2
Holy One – Isaiah 41:14, Mark 1:24
I Am – John 8:58
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14, I Timothy 3:16
Israel – Isaiah 49:3
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
Jesus Christ – John 1:17
Jesus of Nazareth – Mark 1:24, Luke 24:19
King – Matthew 21:5, Psalm 2:6, Matthew 2:1-2
King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – Revelation 19:16
Lamb of God – John 1:14
The Last Adam – I Corinthians 15:45
Life – John 14:6
Light of the World – John 8:12
The Lion of Judah – Revelation 5:5
LORD – Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:1-8
Lord – Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:41-44
Lord Jesus – John 20:28
Man – 1 Timothy 2:5
The Second Man – 1 Corinthians 15:47
The Master – Matthew 9:11, 23:8
Messiah – Daniel 9:25, John 1:41
The Messiah – Daniel 9:25-26, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:16-21
Paraclete – John 16:7, 14, 15
High Priest – Hebrews 3:1
Priest – Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 3:1, 5:5-6
Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14
Prophet – Deuteronomy 11:15, 18; Matthew 21:11; Luke 24:19
The Prophet – Deuteronomy 18:15-18, John 12:49-50
Rabbi – John 1:49, 20:16
Resurrection and Life – John 11:25
Righteous One – 1 Corinthians 1:30
Rock – Matthew 16:18
Savior, Christ the Lord – Luke 2:11, Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 2:10
Savior of the World – 1 John 4:14
The Seed – Genesis 15:5, Galatians 3:16
Servant – Isaiah 42:1, 49:7
The Servant of the Lord – Isaiah 42:1, 52:13, Philippians 2:7
Good Shepherd – John 10:11
Shiloh – Genesis 49:10, Ezekiel 21:27
Son of the Blessed – Mark 14:61
Son of David – Matthew 12:23
Son of God – John 10:36
Son of Man – Mark 10:45
The Son – Psalm 2:7, Hebrews 5:8
The Son of Man – Daniel 7:13, Matthew 20:28
Stone – Matthew 21:42, 1 Peter 2:8
The Stone – Psalm 118:22, 1 Peter 2:4-8
Teacher – John 3:2, Matthew 9:11
Truth – John 14:6
True Vine – John 15:1
The Way – John 14:6
Wonderful – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:14
Word – John 1:1

The Characters of Christmas – Wise Men

December 17, 2016

Of all the characters in the Christmas story the wise men may have the least said about them in the Bible and the most legend about them in stories and song.  Here’s what we do know about the wise men based on what the Bible tells us.

First, there was more than one wise man.  The Bible says that they were wise “men” plural, but it doesn’t reveal the actual number of wise men.  Many say there were three wise men because of the number of gifts recorded as being given to Jesus.  Next, we know that they came from the East.  How far to the East we do not know.  They may have been from Persia or even the orient.  The wise men were astrologers; they studied the stars.  They knew the stars very well so that when His star appeared they knew what they needed to do.

When they saw the star they left the comfort of their homes to seek out the newborn King of the Jews.  They had a basic knowledge of this baby.  They knew that He was to be King of the Jews and that He was to be worshiped.  That is why they went to Jerusalem, to find where this King was to be born.  The Bible does not say that the wise men followed the star they saw from their home to Jerusalem.  It just says that they saw the King’s star in the East and came to worship Him.

The wise men caused quite a stir in Jerusalem.  No one knew of a newborn King.  King Herod, a ruthless and paranoid man, was troubled most of all.  Was this another plot to depose him?  He decided to play along with the wise men, find out where the baby was to be born, and have the wise men find the baby for him.  Then he would destroy this new King.  The chief priests and scribes, the experts in the Jewish scriptures, came and told the wise men that the baby was to be born in Bethlehem.  Herod told the wise men to look for the baby and to return to tell him where He was so he could go worship Him, too.

When the wise men left Herod’s palace they looked up and once again saw the King’s star.  This time the star led them to Bethlehem to the house where Jesus was.  Some have speculated that the star was just a lining up of certain planets or a comet.  But can a comet or a group of planets way up in the cosmos lead a group of men to a particular town and point out a particular house within that town?  Instead the star seems to be a special miracle star that God made expressly for the purpose of showing the wise men where His Son, the newborn King of the Jews, was staying.

The Bible does not say how close to the birth of Jesus the wise men arrived in Bethlehem.  However, it is safe to say that it was at least forty days and may have been as much as two years after the birth.  We do know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt to flee Herod after the wise men left, probably the same night.  When Jesus was forty days old He was taken to the temple so the wise men could not have arrived before then.  We also know that when Herod discovered that the wise men had no intention of telling him where the newborn King of the Jews was he killed every baby in Bethlehem two years old and younger.  This may be because the wise men traveled for two years before finding the baby Jesus.  The exact time is unknown, but we do know that it was long enough that Joseph found a house for the young family to live in.  The wise men never went to the stable.

When the wise men saw Jesus they fell down and worshiped Him; and they gave Him gifts: gold, signifying that Jesus is King of the world (that gold financed the family’s trip to Egypt to flee Herod), frankincense, a present signifying that Jesus is our High Priest, and myrrh, signifying Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of mankind.

That night God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod.  The wise men obeyed returning to their home by a different route.

God’s Son Jesus was sent to the earth to be the Savior of all mankind.  He is the Savior of the common man as shown by His announcement to the shepherds.  He is also the Savior of the rich man and the scholar.  Jesus is Savior and Lord of all.

 

The Characters of Christmas – The Shepherds

December 11, 2016

Many people use the fact that the shepherd were in the fields watching their sheep as proof that Jesus could not have been born on December 25.  Actually, since the Bible never says why the shepherds were in the fields that night, any reason proffered is pure speculation.  Why were they in the fields at night instead of in the sheep folds?  We are never told.  Perhaps it was because of all the Roman soldiers in the area.  The Roman soldiers were known to take by force what they wanted so perhaps the shepherds were out in the fields to keep the sheep away from the soldiers.  In that case they might have been in the fields with their sheep cold or not.  At any rate the shepherds were in the fields watching the sheep.  Each day was spent making sure the sheep got the food and water they needed; each night watching the sheep sleep undisturbed by thieves or marauding beasts.  One day ran into the next with very little change to the routine.

Then came that special night.  The shepherds were watching their sheep sleep keeping active sheep from wandering away from the herd.  The night sky became as bright as day and a person appeared out of the light.  Understandably the shepherds were terrified.  Where did this bright light come from?  Who was this person who stands before them?  Is he friend or foe?  The person spoke, “Do not be afraid…”  After this speech the sky was filled with more beings like the first one singing and praising God.  Then they disappeared and the light faded to night once more.   When the shepherds found their voices they discussed what they heard.  The Messiah, the Christ, has been born.  They left their sheep and hurried to Bethlehem.  They left their sheep in the hands of God and ran to behold the miracle of the birth of the Son of God.

We are not told how many stables with mangers there were in Bethlehem.  The shepherds may have gone right to the one where Mary and Joseph were, or they may have had to search for it.  When they found “the Babe lying in a manger” they told Mary and Joseph all that happened to cause them to search for the baby Jesus.  We do not know how long the shepherds stayed with Mary and Joseph.  At the time they left the stable, people were stirring in the town of Bethlehem; and the shepherds told everyone they met about their experience with the angels and going to see the Christ, the Son of God.  The people marveled at the shepherds’ message possibly thinking the shepherds were going a bit loony spending too much time with their sheep.  Mary, however, pondered everything the shepherds told her and kept their sayings in her heart.

The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God worshiping Him for letting them be one of the first to get the birth announcement of His Son.  This was a sure sign that God sent His Son to the humble, the lowly, the common man.

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