Peace on earth, good-will to men

Peace on earth, good-will to men
Christmas is special to a lot of people, whether it’s because of the true Reason for the season or because of the presents, or the cheesy Christmas movies, or the weather, or just  because the whole family is together. For all of those reasons, the Johnson family Christmas is without a doubt one of my favorite days of the year.

We are blessed as a family to enjoy each others’ company more than some during the Holiday season. Our family gets along great and there are several decent cooks, which makes the day all the more enjoyable. We don’t have a whole lot of real Christmas traditions, but one of them, I think, is worth sharing – particularly this year.

With all my siblings and our families sitting on the couches or cross-legged on the floor, the younger kids are antsy, of course, intent on the bright and shiny wrapping papers reflecting the lights from the Christmas tree.

I picked out my parents’ tree as I have every year since I could drive the truck to pick it up and, as usual, I’ve been scolded because it’s too fat. The angel tree topper sits atop the fat tree with her mouth agape, presumably singing praises for the New Born King. I’ve always told my mom that this particular angel is rather ugly, but it takes its place on its green stage every year perhaps, now, a little out of spite.

My mom pulls out an old red book, which, as she explains, holds my grandpa’s favorite poem. It’s not an obscure, self-affected piece, because he wasn’t that kind of person. He was what they call a “simple” farmer and his favorite poem is the classic written by the American poet Henry Wadsworth LongfellowI Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Longfellow wrote it upon hearing that his son was severely wounded in the Civil War, but the words have never been more applicable than in the light of the Newtown Massacre.

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day     Their old, familiar carols play,         And wild and sweet         The words repeat     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,     The belfries of all Christendom         Had rolled along         The unbroken song     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,     The world revolved from night to day,         A voice, a chime,         A chant sublime     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth     The cannon thundered in the South,         And with the sound         The carols drowned     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent     The hearth-stones of a continent,         And made forlorn         The households born     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;     “There is no peace on earth,” I said;         “For hate is strong,         And mocks the song     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:     “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;         The Wrong shall fail,         The Right prevail,     With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

IN CS Lewis‘ space trilogy, he imagines going to another planet with life created by God, but these beings were not fallen, like man is. In Lewis’ imagination these beings were in perfect communion with God. They had no concept of, or even a word for, “evil” or “bad.” The closest that they could get was “bent.”

We live in a “bent” world. It was once perfect, but is now deformed and deeply flawed thanks to sin. It is not as it was made to be. Man was not made to shoot children, but to protect them, and that’s why the shooting in Connecticut grabs our hearts and squeezes like it’s wringing out a dish cloth.

The Wall Street Journal published profiles of the victims of the shooting, including comments of neighbors and friends who knew the kids. What slashes the emotions is reading these commenters saying, “she had a strong personality” or  he “was such an incredible light.”

Was? Had? We should not have to talk about kids this way. Parents are not meant to bury their children.

In Longfellow’s time, the Civil War took the lives of 750,000 Americans on both sides in a war.

In my grandfather’s time, two world wars where 36 million people were killed, plus 6 million Jews in the holocaust.

We’ve had  wars and genocides and school shootings since then.

And this week, 20 six-and-seven- year-old kids and six adults will be put in the ground.

Humans are bent.

There’s only One who can straighten us out and that’s what we celebrate next week – the Birth of the One who has come to unbend us and make us perfect as we were meant to be.

The Reason for the season should be especially poignant this year. Hug your family a little tighter this year, enjoy your time with the ones you love, and praise God for sending His Son to unbend us.

Someday, we are promised, “the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.”

http://americandecency.org/full_article.php?article_no=1641

A new promotion of polygamy on TLC

A new promotion of polygamy on TLC
The attack on marriage has just been ratcheted up a notch.  Another click on the “come-along of evil.”  Added to the push for gay marriage is the increasing legitimization of polygamy.  Both are repugnant and an offense to God’s design of family and marriage.

The cable network TLC, which produces the show “Sister Wives,” has now aired another program promoting group marriage – “My Three Wives.”

Sponsors of this legitimization polygamy include:  Kraft cheese; Kay Jewelry; Big Lots; Amazon (Kindle); Arm and Hammer products; Fruit of the Loom; Kaboom cleaner; Milo Kitchen dog treats; OxiClean; Canon; Comcast; Sprint; Geico; Buick; and local ad Gerber Life Insurance.

Take Action!  Click here to send a message to these corporations empowering this attack upon marriage.

This sickening program showcases a so-called “family” where the husband arrogantly boasts how his first two ‘wives’ were both “competing” for him as young women, so he married them both – on the same day.  He then tells viewers how one “got to go first” on the wedding night, while the other had to wait.  Years later he married the identical twin sister of one of his ‘wives’ to complete his trifecta.

“My Three Wives” goes to great length to normalize this repulsive lifestyle.  These are not the long-dress wearing, bunched up hair, Warren Jeffs cult, polygamists.  They make every effort to depict their family as a “typical” American family.

If you can call “typical” a father of 24 kids rotating to a different wife’s bed every night.  Yet, with TLC’s promotion of “Sister Wives” and now “My Three Wives,” this could one day be more “typical” than we could ever imagine.  Following comments on entertainment websites and blogs, more and more viewers make comments such as person:

“If all the wives are consenting adults, why not? I don’t have a problem with polygamy, or bigamy or any other marriage that isn’t the standard man and wife. As long as it involves consenting adults, who cares?”

One way to breakdown natural resistance to a repugnant concept such as polygamy is to foster empathy for those involved – to personalize it.  TLC and “My Three Wives” do this very well.  In monitoring this show, I lost track of the number of times one of the “spouses” referred to being “stereotyped” or “persecuted” or ‘falsely’ labeled as extremists.

Sounding incredulous that such “persecution” takes place in modern America, one of the ‘wives’ talked about how “technically” their lifestyle is illegal, as she says:  “Our life and the way that we live is considered a third degree felony in the state of Utah.”  With crocodile tears she pulls on the heartstrings talking of her fear that “they’d come and take my children away.”

The crescendo of propaganda builds throughout the episode until the concluding speech of one ‘wife’ who claims her lifestyle is a “privilege” and tells viewers “what she gains is far more” than what she loses by sharing a husband.

She goes on to emphatically state:  “The people who take on the challenge are the most rewarded.”  And that those who don’t embrace polygamy “will never know what they’ve missed out on.”

As with the depiction of homosexuality in television, it began with one gay character.  Then another and another.  Then the first homosexual kissing scene on television.  Then a bed scene.  And now, as resistance has broken down, there are few, if any, network shows that don’t have a homosexual character.

With polygamy, it began with HBO’s “Big Love” and then TLC’s “Sister Wives” and now “My Three Wives.”  And so marriage and family is undermined more and more.

If we do not oppose it now, what will the next ten years bring?

Take Action!  Click here to let the advertisers know you will not support companies that sponsor the legitimization of polygamy.

http://www.americandecency.org/full_article.php?article_no=1643

Gay Jesus Ad Causes Outrage: Jesus Should ‘Come Out,’ Claims New Zealand Church By Myles Collier , Christian Post Contributor

  •  St Matthew-in-the-City Poster

A new billboard outside of a church in New Zealand is drawing  criticism from the local community and the wider Christian population by  inferring that the son of God was homosexual. The billboard states that its  “time for Jesus to come out.”

The church, St. Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, is described on their home  page as a progressive Anglican church and posted the advertisement as a way to  start a new debate. Their argument is that Jesus might have been gay- a dubious  claim that has been met with stern opposition.

Notable theologians have repeatedly charged that the Bible is clear over  which unions were acceptable in the eyes of Jesus, though.

“It is simply undeniable that Jesus assumed heterosexual marriage as God’s  design and plan … Jesus sees all sexual activity outside this covenant as  sinful,” Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,  previously stated during a theological conference.

The controversial poster reads “It’s Christmas. Time for Jesus to come out,”  and includes a picture of a baby Jesus that has his head surrounded by a halo  containing the colors of the rainbow.

While many locals are upset over such an objectionable depiction, the leaders  of the church are attempting to explain the criticism under the semblance of  scholarly debate.

“This year we invited discussion and debate on the sexual orientation of  Jesus … some scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay,”  Nelson explained on the Church’s website.

Rev. Glynn Cardy and Rev. Clay Nelson are the two charged with introducing  their faithful followers to the questionable idea, but they maintain that  posting the picture was not in poor taste; it was a way to capture the attention  of passersby while trying to expose the humanity of Jesus, they claim.

Nelson admitted, however, that the current debates are grounded in little but  conjecture, and that Jesus’ gospel remains unchanged, regardless of their  discussion.

In all of Jesus’ teaching, he endorsed caring for the poor and destitute  while cautioning the faithful of being misled with worldly possessions, Cardy  said. They also claim that Jesus never taught about sexuality, despite the repeated endorsements of marriage in the Bible.

“There is almost nothing in the record of his teachings about sexuality while  there is plenty about the perils of being rich. Certainly he always supported  the marginalized in society,” Cardy said.

Both Nelson and Cardy realize that their offensive depiction of Jesus has  caused controversy, but still maintain that they didn’t mean to denigrate  Christ; instead they were hoping to help others reconcile their faith with their  various lifestyles. That may not be possible, however.

Robert J. Gagnon, professor at a Pittsburgh Seminary, explained to The  Christian Post in a previous interview that the Bible offers some very clear  directions on the origins and duties of marriage, citing Mark 10:2-9, Genesis  1:27 and Gen 2:24.

“If Jesus regarded a male-female prerequisite as foundational for formulating  other principles in sexual ethics (like prohibitions of polygamy and a revolving  door of divorce and remarriage), he obviously was strongly opposed to a behavior  that directly called into question that very prerequisite (homosexual  practices),” the Pittsburgh Seminary theologian contended.

This is not the first time Cardy and Nelson have received negative attention  for their provocative posters. Last year, they put up a poster showing the  Virgin Mary in shock over the results of a pregnancy test. It was  unceremoniously ripped down not long afterwards..

http://global.christianpost.com/news/gay-jesus-ad-causes-outrage-jesus-should-come-out-claims-new-zealand-church-86821/#1lmPsDdsTwWopTS1.99

The Person Makes The Place

God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 21:3-4

Engaged couples often spend hours poring over travel brochures and vacation Web sites looking for just the right honeymoon spot. They can hardly wait for their romantic getaway. But it’s not so much about the place; it’s about being with the person they love.

We get used to places no matter how glorious they are. But being with a person who loves us never gets old!

In Revelation, John paints a beautiful picture of what heaven will be like. But it’s not really about the place—it’s about the Person we’ll be with. The day is coming when Jesus will come to take us to be with Him in the place He has prepared for us. And the wonderful news is that He says: “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 22:7).

If you’re thinking, He may come back for others, but surely not for me, don’t miss verse 17: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Anyone is welcome to join the wedding feast. All we have to do is believe in the One who died for us, Jesus Christ, the Lover of our souls.

Make no mistake, the place—heaven—will be incredible beyond our dreams. But our greatest joy will be the experience of being with Jesus forever!

He will take me to be with Him In His happy Home above, Where no sin or pain can enter, And all is joy and love. —Anon.

The greatest aspect of heaven will be spending eternity with Jesus.

http://getmorestrength.org/daily/the-person-makes-the-place/

The Focus Of Our Message

I did not come to bring peace but a sword —Matthew 10:34

Never be sympathetic with a person whose situation causes you to conclude that God is dealing harshly with him. God can be more tender than we can conceive, and every once in a while He gives us the opportunity to deal firmly with someone so that He may be viewed as the tender One. If a person cannot go to God, it is because he has something secret which he does not intend to give up— he may admit his sin, but would no more give up that thing than he could fly under his own power. It is impossible to deal sympathetically with people like that. We must reach down deep in their lives to the root of the problem, which will cause hostility and resentment toward the message. People want the blessing of God, but they can’t stand something that pierces right through to the heart of the matter.

If you are sensitive to God’s way, your message as His servant will be merciless and insistent, cutting to the very root. Otherwise, there will be no healing. We must drive the message home so forcefully that a person cannot possibly hide, but must apply its truth. Deal with people where they are, until they begin to realize their true need. Then hold high the standard of Jesus for their lives. Their response may be, “We can never be that.” Then drive it home with, “Jesus Christ says you must.” “But how can we be?” “You can’t, unless you have a new Spirit” (see Luke 11:13).

There must be a sense of need created before your message is of any use. Thousands of people in this world profess to be happy without God. But if we could be truly happy and moral without Jesus, then why did He come? He came because that kind of happiness and peace is only superficial. Jesus Christ came to “bring . . . a sword” through every kind of peace that is not based on a personal relationship with Himself.

http://utmost.org/the-focus-of-our-message/

Love for No Reason

“Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping.”—Genesis 45:14

This Torah portion for this week, Vayigash, is from Genesis 44:18–47:27 and Ezekiel 37:15–28.

From all of Joseph’s brothers, there was one brother in particular with whom he had a special bond — Benjamin. Only Benjamin shared with Joseph the same father and mother, the beloved Rachel. So it’s not surprising that Joseph hugged Benjamin before any of the other brothers or that during the embrace, both brothers shed many tears. But what is confusing is that the Sages teach us that these were not tears of joy. They were, in fact, tears of sorrow, hurt, and despair.

Why would the brothers be crying sorrowfully at a time when they should have been overflowing with joy?

The Sages explain that while the brothers embraced, they both experienced prophecy. Joseph foresaw the destruction of the two Temples that would be built in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin foresaw the destruction of the Tabernacle, the temporary Temple that would be built in the tribal territory of Joseph.

Jewish tradition teaches that the Temples were destroyed because of the baseless hatred between one person and the next. Joseph and Benjamin both foresaw that the hatred and jealousy which had resulted in the selling of Joseph would rear its ugly head again and again. And that is why they cried.

The Sages teach that if the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, it is because we are still guilty of harboring unwarranted hatred toward our brothers and sisters in our hearts. There is only one antidote for the disease of hating someone for no good reason – and that is loving people for no good reason.

Recently I came across a story written by a woman who works as a cashier at Wal-Mart. She was checking out the last customers of the day, including a young couple who came up to pay for their stuff. It was mostly baby items – diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. But when it came time for payment, their credit card was declined. The husband tried card after card, and by that time his wife was visibly shaken. As they started to take items out of their bags to return, the man behind them in the checkout line took out his credit card and swiped it. The cashier told the couple that they could stop taking items out of their bag because it had all been paid for, and with tears of joy, they thanked the man and left.

That’s love for no reason. Those people at Wal-Mart weren’t relatives or friends. But they were fellow human beings, and that was reason enough to bond and show love to one another. It’s time, don’t you agree, to turn jealousy into empathy and judgment into compassion? As we love each other unconditionally, we can help to end the suffering in the world.

http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/love-for-no-reason