The Star of Bethlehem

Credible historians tell us that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus stayed in Bethlehem for two years and moved into a house where Joseph found work and community (perhaps for the protection of Mary from the customs of the day).

The visit of the Magi or the Wise Men, arrived from 40 days to two years after Jesus’s birth. Thus they were not at the cave at the birth as we often see in our manger sets.

It is reasonable to assume that there were three Wise Men because they present Jesus with three gifts.  Their number, nationality and country are unknown; some speculate they were from present day Iraq or Iran.  If so that would easily be a two year trip to Bethlehem.

They were of a priestly hereditary caste that uttered prophecies, explained omens, interpreted dreams and practiced divination (see Daniel 2:2, 48, and 4:9).  These Wise Men were people held in high regard by all the Kings and Rulers of the time; they were also well versed in the prophesies of the era. 

They followed a star that eventually brought them to the house where Mary, Joseph, and the two year old Jesus lived.  They made a brief stop to enquire of King Herod.  (See the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew).

The star was supernatural and cannot be logically or astronomically explained.  Many people much smarter than I have tried: astronomers, scientist, theologians.  It is speculated to be perhaps a supernova, a comet, a conjunction of planets.  None of these stay in the sky as long as this star needed to.  In Matthew 2:9 the scripture states, “…and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was“.

Have you ever heard of a star simply appearing, lasting from 40 days to two years and actually moving as a guide?  I want to offer you a theory I received (I believe) from the Holy Spirit a few years ago.

It is recorded in all four Gospels that angels were involved in the announcement of the birth of Jesus and all though out the Bible they are associated with the delivery of messages from God to man, and many other activities in the Spirit Realm. 

I did a study of angels a few years ago.  They are mentioned almost 300 times.  They all have different jobs…only some are messengers.  Some are called seraphim, cherubim, the Hose of Heaven and (among other names) Stars.  I present you the Star of Bethlehem, a Spirit Being assigned to herald the birth of the greatest man ever, the son of God.  So large and so bright he was seen as a celestial object and brought the Magi from a great distance.  This beautiful being shown over the stable and moved with the Christ and His family until they went to Egypt to escape the army of Herod.

Herod, so afraid of the new “King” that he ordered the death of all the Jewish boys from new born to two years old.  It is totally possible these Wise Men provided the funds for Joseph to take his small family to Egypt to avoid this slaughter.

INFLUENCE

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” — Jesus. (Matthew 10:34 NKJV)

 CULTURE

I’ve been told that 30% of Americans consider themselves evangelical Christians. The Screen Guild, Planned Parenthood and the Gay/Lesbian groups seem to be having more influence on our culture than we do. These, and many more, are part of the new religion: progressive-liberalism. I know, I was once a part of that mindset. I was also a part of that passive, let’s not shake the boat mindset…peace at any price, mindset.

 Why do you think that the progressive-liberals are having a great influence on our culture? Should Christians be non-confrontational and only peaceful?

Should Christians never be politically involved? I’ve heard Christians say they were not going to vote because the candidate isn’t a Christian. Really? People that is a cop out. One doesn’t need to be a Christian to be a great leader.

 Lord, help us. If we ever needed a great leader, it is NOW.

 If you care about our changing culture, get politically involved at the very least. Stay informed and hold your representatives feet to the fire on our important issues. For example: we need term limits, we need to be rid of lobbyist (which is political corruption), and we need some economic and trade reform. These things, left to the politicians, will not get changed. Let us be logical here. Why should they make these changes? They are profiting from them.

 Martin Luther King, Jr. was an unknown, black, Christian, preacher without mega money behind him; actually with nothing behind him. Did he let that stop him from taking the authority and influence given to him to make changes to the culture? Did he allow intimidation to make him back down?

 We don’t have to develop a powerful position like this to make a difference in our culture. Remember, snowflakes are all very small, but in short order they can completely cover a landscape.

 I believe God gave us this country to occupy until He comes and many other very good reasons I won’t address right now.

 Are we influencing our given territory or are we just letting TV, media, our educators, and/or politicians change our culture and the next generation’s mindset without our involvement? We have influence and authority, are we using it in the realm we have been assigned to? Or are we letting intimidation from the progressive-liberals keep our mouths shut?

 Do you know what your children/grandchildren are being taught in school? It may be a good influence or it may be a bad one. However, if we don’t get involved by reading over some of the materials…that is passive neglect of your influence. PERIOD

 Home schooling and private Christian schooling has had its fair share of ridicule. Wonder why? The progressive-liberals cannot control what is being taught.  

 Do you remember the story of Ester in the Bible (if not read it – the whole book is called, ESTER)? She was a beautiful woman from the Israel captives, who became the queen of the kingdom of her captors. She had the best of everything: food, servants, clothing, entertainment, protection and comfort of every kind. Why, I ask you, would she rock that boat? To go before her King with a request, without being summoned was often sure death. Why would she risk that? Because she loved her people and she culture more than her life. PERIOD

 Jesus was born a Jew in a religious culture, ruled by Romans. He fought the religious culture for three years, within the Roman culture. He made an obvious difference. Such a difference, that thousands of people since have been willing to and have died for Him. That, beloved is influence.

Christmas ~ Part 1

Growing up there was one thing we almost never missed and that was Paul Harvey’s radio program, news and commentary at noon every Saturday.

The below story has always been a profound and moving Christmas story for me.  If you want to actually hear him tell it you can go to Youtube and type in, “Paul Harvey, The Man and the Birds”.

The Man and the Birds
by Paul Harvey

The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

1birds

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

And he sank to his knees in the snow.

3BIRDS

 

White House Christmas Tour

THE STORY

We were told if we contacted our congressman several months in advance we could apply for tickets to see the White House decorated for Christmas – for FREE. We arranged with our friends who live outside DC, applied and were approved.

Our tickets were for entrance at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 8th, so after contemplating the traffic from Virginia to DC, in rush hour, we took the train (a very pleasant experience). We arrived in time for an hour’s visit to the White House Visitors Center, two blocks from the tour entrance at Hamilton and 15th Streets. The “Visitor’s Center” was just ok, in my opinion.  Union Station was WONDERFUL!

The day before Toby had gone to see his doctor for a cardiac stress test. This requires an IV shot of some type of radiation. Naturally, at the White House we had to go through four security stations. The first was simply to check our IDs to see if we were on the approved list. The second was when the alarms started going off. The Secret Service agent holding the dosimeter was freaking out and made everyone stop. When she finally took the meter over to Toby – bingo he was pulled aside. They took him in a private room to test him for dose levels. He told them about the test the previous day and the meter confirmed he had indeed only a small, medical dose. They released him, but failed to give him a “PASS”, so the next two entrances through

Kay & Toby with The Willard Hotel behind them.

Kay & Toby with The Willard Hotel behind them.

two different security checks caused the alarms to trigger. Poor Toby was mortified, to say the least, but it was surely the most exciting part for the day for the Secret Service.

Some of the people who were entering with us looked suspiciously at Toby for the balance of the tour. We, instead, had a big laugh.

THE TOUR

Before we entered our tour, I showed Kay & Toby the Willard Hotel, which is just across 15th Street from the White House. As the story goes, every afternoon President Wilson walked to the coffee shop at the Willard. If anyone needed to talk to him or intercede for a favor they would wait for his arrival in the lobby. This is where we eventually got our “Lobbyist”.

We entered the East Visitor Entrance, on the ground floor guarded by large penguins and a glorious, multi-sized, silver ball ornament garland which lead us down to the East Colonnade and East Garden Room. The colonnade’s ceiling was covered in hundreds of dangling snowflakes intermingled with one large flake for each State, Territory and Commonwealth. As you walked through the Colonnade you could look out on the Ease Garden filled with merry snowmen.

1East Entrance

At the end of the colonnade was a room dedicated to the White House’s current furry inhabitants – Bo and Sunny (Portuguese Water Dogs) and tennis ball trees. The same room held a small gift ship, beautiful tree and a bust of Mr. Lincoln.

2Bo & Sunny

Continuing on the lower level we visited the White House Library, The Vermeil Room and The China Room. All were smaller than expected.  They are, however used for small meetings and receptions by the First Lady and all tastefully decorated.  The Vermeil Room had portraits of several of the recent first ladies.

The China room displays the various official china including the new service chosen by Michelle Obama.  Not every new administration chooses new china.

We went up one level to the Green Room, the Blue Room, The Red Room, The State Dining Room, The East Room, The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall.

The Green Room was brilliantly decorated in exotic peacocks and the colors of sparkling gems, teal and feathers in the garlands, the trees and wreaths accented the colors of the room. The wall were covered in emerald silk.

The next level up we entered the historic East Room under a canopy of sparkling icicles and glimmering silver spheres, we were awed by a multitude of white, silver and champagne tones. Four grand trees covered in ornate decorations of iridescent pearls, frosty icicles, vintage jewels, and delicate buttons trim the largest room in the White House  

The White House crèche graces this room. The nativity scene made of terra cotta and intricately carved wood was fashioned in Naples, Italy in the eighteenth century. Donated to the White House in the 1960s, this piece has sat in the east room for the holidays for more than forty-five years, spanning nine administrations.

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I have not mentioned the draperies, the rugs and the chandeliers, but they are of the finest I have seen and we have visited more mansions in our great nation that I can count. These pictures will not do them justice. It is, after all, our White House and should be the most outstanding of all our homes…and in my opinion, it is.

The Blue Room had the grandest and most patriotic room of decorations. This room is dedicated to our Nation’s service members, veterans, and their families. The whole room is decorated in red, white, blue and golden stars. The tree sits in the center of the room in from of a double door facing the Grand Foyer, the entrance to The White House. The doors in the foyer are flanked by our flags and the Presidential Seal.

The Red Room was once First Lady Dolley Madison’s famous salon. This room customarily glistens with cranberries during the holidays. The two trees in the parlor emit a warm crimson glow.

The State Dining room was decorated for children of every age with giant nutcrackers, teddy bears, a giant gumball machine and trees on the grand table all made of real candy. This is a tradition started by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy who announced her first theme would be Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.  This is also the room where the Ginger Bread White house is displayed. This year was covered in milk chocolate.

The Grand Foyer and Cross Halls are the graceful entrance of all Guests and dignitaries to White House events. Today it had a grand piano and chairs set up for a string quartet for an upcoming reception. The room is most impressive and inviting with marble flooring and steps up to the open double doors inviting you straight in to gather in the Blue room or to the State Dining room on the left or the grand East Room to the right. This was our point of exit.

x16main hall entrance

Standing in the Grand Foyer with the State Dining Room behind us.

piano tuner

Walking out that door you knew you had been a part of a great historical experience. Every room we went through had portraits of past presidents and First Ladies. When you step out the door the grand light above and the ornate front door with the imposing Washington Monument in the distance was beyond words. This time of year stationed between the White House and the Washington Monument is the National Christmas Tree, surrounded by a tree from each state and territory.

We walked down to see the National Tree and found, by accident, the oldest and most famous restaurant and bar, The Ebbit Grill. Great food, great service, wonderful ambiance at the most reasonable of prices.