Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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’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.

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 – Joseph

December 4, 2016

There was a man who lived in Nazareth, a carpenter by trade, who, in another time and another place, might have had a very different occupation.  This man could have been king of Israel. He was a direct descendant of King David through his son Solomon.  If the Romans hadn’t conquered Israel Joseph may have been king instead of a carpenter.

Joseph was a godly man who knew God’s word and obeyed God.  He not only obeyed God, but he also obeyed the government that God placed over Israel.  He was a just man who took his responsibilities seriously.

Joseph was espoused to a girl named Mary, a virgin also from Nazareth.  She, too, was a descendant of King David but not of the kingly line.  He loved her deeply and was looking forward to making her his wife.  He must have been devastated when Mary told him that she was pregnant.  She must have told him that this baby was from God and not from a sexual relationship with another man.  She must have told him about the angel Gabriel’s visit and what he told her.  But Joseph’s mind was still in turmoil.  How could she have done this?  She knows the punishment according to the Torah for fornication was death.  Should he divorce Mary or quietly put her away?  After all, he had his own reputation to consider.  Joseph’s sleep that night must have been fitful with much tossing and turning.  Then an angel of the LORD, quite possibly Gabriel, came to Joseph in a dream confirming what Mary had told him.  Being obedient to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife. We’re not told at what point in Mary’s pregnancy they got married.

Word came from the Roman emperor that all men were to go to their home city, the city of their ancestors, to be counted for tax purposes.  Joseph knew that Mary’s time was near and probably would have done all he could to let her stay in Nazareth while he took part in the census.  Mary, however, refused choosing to go with Joseph to Bethlehem, a very long journey for a woman about to give birth to a baby.  The Bible does not say that Joseph had a donkey for Mary to ride, but Joseph’s concern for Mary was great enough for us to assume that he did something so Mary would not have to walk the distance.  When they arrived in Bethlehem they were tired and needed a place to rest.  The baby was coming soon, maybe even that night.  Joseph went from inn to inn looking for a place to stay.  But no place was available.  No room could be made for the couple soon to have a baby.  Finally someone said they could sleep in his stable.  They gladly accepted.  Joseph made a place in the hay and straw for Mary and him to sleep.  Sometime while they were staying in the stable the baby Jesus was born.

Sometime after Jesus was born Joseph found a house for the family to stay.  When Jesus was forty days old, Joseph and Mary took Him to the temple to offer the sacrifice redeeming the first-born male as required by Jewish law.  It is safe to assume that the wise men did not arrive before this event because of what happened after they left.  The Bible does not say how long Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem before the wise men visited.  It could have been as long as two years, because Herod killed every boy baby two years old and younger, but not less than forty days.  Sometime after the wise men arrived and quite possibly that same night, Joseph had another dream.  In it he was told to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt because Herod would try to kill the baby.  The little family fled to Egypt and stayed there until Herod died.  After Herod’s death Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth.

We are not told much about Joseph after he and his family returned to Nazareth.  We do know that Joseph and Mary had a number of children together, a number of Jesus’ half-brothers being mentioned by name in the Bible.  We also know that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem every year, at least until He was twelve years old, for the Feast of the Passover.  After that time Joseph is never mentioned again.  Some speculate that Joseph died fairly early in Jesus’ life.  They say that Joseph was anywhere from twenty to forty years older than Mary and died of old age.  However, it is not unreasonable to believe that Joseph and Mary were much closer in age.  Carpentry can be a hazardous job, and Joseph could have died in a carpentry accident.  Or Joseph could still have been living when Jesus died but was never mentioned because he did not factor in any more of the stories told in the Bible.  It is impossible to say for sure because the Bible is silent on the issue.

Joseph, because of his obedience to and love for God, was given a very important job, raising the Son of God.  It must have overwhelmed him at times, but God was with Joseph guiding him all the way and giving him the wisdom needed to do the job.

The Characters of Christmas – Mary

November 25, 2016

It has been several years since I posted this blog series so I decided to repost it.  As Advent begins this weekend use these reflections as part of your Advent contemplations.


Mary lived with her family in the town of Nazareth.  They were a poor family living in a town with a poor reputation.  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” was the popular sentiment of the day.  They were descendants of King David through David’s son Nathan, but since the Romans were in control very few of the Jewish royal family were affluent.

Mary was a young girl, a virgin.  We don’t know her age.  Some believe she may have been as young as fourteen years old; others say she was older.  The Bible, however, does not give her age.  She was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart.  She was a thankful, trusting person, too.  She was obedient both to her parents and her God.  She was a normal, young Jewish girl with dreams of being a good wife and mother.

Mary’s parents were godly people who made sure Mary also knew God and loved Him.  They taught her the Holy Scriptures.  Because of this Mary was highly favored by God.

Mary was espoused to a man named Joseph, a godly man who also loved God, when she entertained a special visitor.  The angel Gabriel was sent by God to give a special message to Mary.  Gabriel said that God was with Mary and that she was blessed among women.  Gabriel revealed that she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah.  Mary knew all the prophesies about the Messiah.  She probably hoped that she would be the one to give him life, but she was still surprised and probably stunned to hear that she was the one chosen by God to bear His Son.  She was willing to be used by God but questioned how this was to come about.  She was a virgin.  She never had sex with any man.  So how was she to have this baby?  Gabriel explained that God would take care of everything, and Mary understood that this impregnation would occur without the help of a man.  Mary must have wondered what other people would think of her.  Here she would be pregnant without a husband.  Oh, how the gossip would fly.  And what would Joseph think?  Would he leave her?  Would he divorce her?  Would he make an example of her and cause her to go before the judges?  She knew that God’s law said adulteresses should be put to death.  But Mary’s faith and trust in God shone forth.  She knew if God called her to carry His Son then He would take care of her even if the whole world were against her.

Mary was a loving, caring girl with a servant’s heart as evidenced by what she did when she heard that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant.  Mary, being pregnant herself, left her home and stayed with Elizabeth and her husband for three months helping them with the housework, with the work in the fields, with everything imaginable.  Elizabeth’s pregnancy, like Mary’s, was a miraculous pregnancy.  Elizabeth and her husband were too old to have children; yet God intervened and caused them to have a child.

Mary was a faithful girl, faithful to her God and faithful to her husband.  Instead of staying in Nazareth when the Romans made Joseph go to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, where she could have had her baby in a warm house, Mary went with Joseph on the rough, possibly even dangerous trip to Bethlehem; and she made this trip when she was nine months pregnant.  Many believe that Mary made the trip riding on a donkey.  The Bible doesn’t say that.  She may have been walking.  Not likely, but it may have happened. I am sure Joseph would have done all he could to make the trip as easy as possible for Mary.  When they arrived at Bethlehem they were tired.  Joseph spent a lot of time going from inn to inn looking for a place for them to stay especially since Mary could give birth at any time, but nothing was available.  Mary was gracious.  When a stable was offered she willingly took it, choosing to sleep on the straw instead of the hard, cold ground.

Mary was also a strong girl, strong spiritually and strong physically, too.  She was tired from the long trip, tired from the search for a place to spend the night.  All she wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but she could not. Labor pains began.  The baby was born.  And yet she still could not rest for a group of shepherds entered the stable asking, “Is this the place?”  Then they explained why they were there.  What an incredible, unbelievable story!  Unbelievable to anyone who has never interacted with an angel.  Mary believed.  Mary knew why they were there worshiping her little Son.  Yet Mary did not understand everything that was happening because she pondered in her heart all that she heard.  She did not understand why her God would send His Son birthed by her to save the world from their sins.  Only after the shepherds left could Mary get some sleep if her thoughts did not keep her awake.

Two other times we are told that Mary pondered things she saw and heard in her heart.  One was about forty days after Jesus’ birth.  She and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to offer the sacrifices of purification as demanded by Jewish law and the scriptures.  Simeon and Anna, two elderly people who were frequently found at the temple, came to them and worshiped Jesus and told Mary their story.  Simeon even prophesied about Jesus’ death.  This must have really puzzled Mary.  The next was when the wise men knocked on the door of their house.  We do not know exactly when this was as the Bible does not say.  We can surmise that it was more than forty days after Jesus’ birth because Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt the soon after the wise men left.  It may have been as long as two years after Jesus’ birth.  Why else would Herod have killed all babies in Bethlehem two years old and younger?  The wise men worshiped her Son and gave him wonderful gifts.  The gifts that were given to Jesus would have caused anyone to stop and think.  Gold is a kingly gift, frankincense a priestly gift, and myrrh a burying spice.

Mary truly was blessed among women and highly favored with God and man.  She was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world.  She believed God and trusted Him to get her through the hardships of life and trusted her son, the Son of God, to take away her sins and be her Savior.

 

Christmas in Brazil

July 28, 2016

brazil_treeThose who would love to spend Christmas on Christmas Island might enjoy spending Christmas in Brazil.  Temperatures range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  A Brazilian Christmas, a blend of Portuguese, African, and Indian customs, is a holy time of remembering the birth of Christ celebrated with close friends and family. 

Papai Noel:  Although pictured as doing so Santa Claus, or Papai Noel as Brazilians know him, does not travel by sleigh and reindeer.  Instead he travels by helicopter.  In early December thousands of children fill Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro waiting for the arrival of Papai Noel.  The helicopter lands; Papai Noel steps out, and the children flood the field.  He greets the children shaking their hands and giving them small toys, such as balloons, water pistols, whistles, and more, as gifts.  After the gift-giving Papai Noel steps to a microphone on stage and leads everyone in a sing-a-long.  Local singers and musicians accompany the throng as they sing Christmas carols and other popular songs.

Children in Brazil do not hang stockings for Papai Noel to fill on Christmas Eve.  Instead, in northern Brazil, children put their shoes by the tree, by their bed, or near a window to be filled with all sorts of small toys and goodies by Papai Noel when he arrives later that night after the children are asleep.

Papai Noel personally visits the children in the southern regions of Brazil earlier in the evening on Christmas Eve.  He takes time to talk to each child before giving presents to the child.  Often Papai Noel is a relative, a friend of the family, or a co-worker.

Presepios:  With the vast majority of Brazilians being a religious people it is not surprising that every church and nearly every home puts up a presepio or nativity scene.

Many churches display life-sized versions of the presepio including life-sized animals.  Among those animals is sure to appear a rooster to remind parishioners of the Missa do Galo (Mass of the Rooster).  Some church presepios are so elaborate that non-church-goers go to church to see them.

Home presepios may be set up in early December; others are not set up until Christmas Eve day.  Some are small fitting on a coffee table; others fill a whole room.  Some are simple; others are abundant.  Whether large or small, many include pieces that have been handed down for generations.

Most home presepios include the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the three magi, angels, a star, cows, chickens, sheep, and a rooster.  One of the peculiarities of these home presepios is the figures may not be the same scale.  It is not uncommon for Jesus to be larger than some of the other figures.  Another peculiarity comes in the personal touches.  One may see Brazilian animals, Brazilian fruits, airplanes, trains, and other “impossible” figures included in family presepios.

Christmas cards:  Usually people try to send their Christmas cards so the recipients get them before Christmas; but in Brazil, people think nothing of sending their cards after Christmas.  Many cards arrive at their destinations between December 25 and January 6.

Most cards have the traditional wintery scenes showing lots of snow, Santa Claus and his reindeer, Christmas trees covered in snow, and children wrapped in heavy, warm winter clothing.  However, more cards are appearing showing traditional Brazilian weather and scenes of sandy beaches, palm trees, Christmas trees, and, more importantly, no snow.


Look for more about Christmas in Brazil at CustomsOfChristmas.com.

Happy Easter!

March 26, 2016

It all started many years ago that first Christmas with the birth of a very special miracle baby.  The Baby was special in that His birth was looked forward to for hundreds of years.  His birth was foretold by many people during that time with specific things mentioned many years before they happened: He would be born in Bethlehem, His mother would be a virgin, He would be born of the tribe of Judah of King David’s line, kings would give Him gifts, children would be killed after His birth, and more.

He was a miracle baby born of a virgin who never experience sexual relations with a man until after the Baby’s birth.  A miracle in terms of all that had to be orchestrated to get the right parents to the right place at the right time to fulfill the prophesies about this Baby.  A miracle in that God became man to live and fulfill a specific purpose.

The Baby grew up.  He became a man with a purpose, to live to pay the penalty for man’s sin.  He was not forced to do it.  He was not paid to do it.  He did it willingly.  He did it out of love for mankind.

The first Easter became the culmination of this Man’s finishing the payment for that penalty, a payment He did not need to make for Himself for He never sinned.  The first Easter marked God’s acceptance of that payment.  When Jesus rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb God showed mankind that He was satisfied.  The debt was paid in full.

Now it is up to each member of mankind.  What are we going to do?  Are we going to try to pay the penalty for our sins ourselves?  We are told that we can never do this even if we lived a thousand lifetimes.  Or are we going to accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of our sins?  We can do nothing to earn it.  We can only accept it or reject it.

It is my hope that everyone who reads this will accept Jesus’ payment for the penalty of his or her sins.  Only then will Easter and Christmas have true meaning in our lives.

 

Resurrection Rolls

  • Prep 10 m
  • Cook 15 m
  • Ready In 25 m

Recipe By:Mommyof3

“A great Easter recipe to do with the kids! Rolls with marshmallows wrapped inside, which become hollow as they bake, it represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning, when you break them open they are empty inside!”

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Separate crescent rolls into individual triangles.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Dip a marshmallow into melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture. Place marshmallow into the center of a dough triangle. Carefully wrap the dough around the marshmallow. Pinch the seams together tightly to seal in marshmallow as it melts. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2015

Luke 2  (NKJV)nativity scene

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2   (NKJV)

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

May you all have a blessed and merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Happy Easter!

March 24, 2015

life-of-jesusWe are in the middle of the Easter season.  Both Easter and Christmas are similar in that they begin with the same 40-day season of preparation and they celebrate the same person.  Christmas begins with Advent preparing for the coming of the Christ child.  Easter begins with Lent preparing for the death and resurrection of Christ.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Christ.  Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

All of this was a plan put in place by God to redeem His magnum opus, His prize creation, mankind.  God created the earth and all the plants and animals in it for mankind, and it was “very good.”  God enjoyed intimate fellowship with His masterpiece.  Then the man and woman, God’s favorite creation, turned their backs on God.  God was not willing to leave them in that condition.  He desired the intimate fellowship He once enjoyed with mankind, but there was a penalty to be paid for mankind’s rejection of God, for mankind’s sin.  No man or woman, even if he or she lived a thousand lives, could ever pay that penalty.

So God made a plan.  He would send His Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, live a perfect, sinless life, die a horrible death, and rise from the dead thereby securing the payment for the penalty for the sin of all mankind.

Now God offers this payment for the penalty of sin to every man, woman, and child who will turn from their sin and accept this payment.  This is the ultimate celebration of both Christmas and Easter.

Resurrection Rolls

Ingredients:

1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough
8 large marshmallows
Melted butter
Cinnamon
Sugar

Instructions:

  • Give each child one triangle shaped section of crescent roll. This represents the tomb.
  • Each child takes one marshmallow which represents the body of Christ.
  • Dip the marshmallow in the butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. This represents the oils and spices the body was anointed with upon burial.
  • Lay the marshmallow on the dough and carefully wrap it around the marshmallow.
  • Make sure all seams are pinched together well. (Otherwise the marshmallow will “ooze” out of the seams)
  • Bake according to package directions.
  • Cool.
  • Break open the tomb and the body of Christ is no longer there!!
  • Celebrate God’s love!
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