An Angel and a Young Girl

A young girl was visited by an angel of the Lord one night and told that, even though she was not married, she would conceive and give birth to a son, who would be the Son of God.

She was a simple peasant girl, probably in her early teens, raised by devout Jewish parents to believe that God’s Word is true. She was probably taught the prophecy that said, “A virgin will conceive and bring forth the Son of God,” and in her daily prayers she probably asked God to let her be the mother of Messiah. Her mother taught her to be obedient and believe the word, because when the angel told her that she would become the mother of the Son of God, she simply asked how it would happen.

There was no question in her mind that what the angel said was true. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Because she agreed with the Word of God spoken by the angel, it came to pass like the angel said.

When was the last time you agreed with the Word of God? When you do, you’ll see His plan fulfilled in your life.

Christmas means music

Christmas means music to me. Our holiday has always revolved around school Christmas programs.

At school, from Thanksgiving on, we practiced for the Christmas play. Mamas made costumes for angels, shepherds, sheep. We envied the two who got to play Mary and Joseph.

We sang “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” We memorized the unfamiliar words, singing them over and over with our music teacher, until we could sing them in our sleep.

With no shyness,  we who loved to sing sang at the tops of our voices. The boys held nothing back, singing loudly. They were too young to know that the older boys thought singing was for “girls and sissies.”

We sang, “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go,” and “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose,” and “I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus.”

In junior high, we enrolled in chorus class where the only boys there were the ones who could really sing or thought they could. The jocks didn’t have time for chorus. When we auditioned to find our part to sing, the chorus teacher simply placed some boys where he thought they should stand to look the best during performances. Fortunately many girls sang loudly and drowned out the few boys who couldn’t sing.

In high school, we began to sing the harder songs. “O, Holy Night,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” and “Hallelujah Chorus.” We started practicing long before Thanksgiving. Our Christmas concert was the culmination of months of work. We were proud of our hard work and effort and sang with all our hearts.

Christmas really starts with the Christmas songs being played over the sound systems at our favorite store. At a time when religious displays are being removed from public places, religious music is being played constantly for nearly two full months of the year. Imagine that.

Christmas music. What better way for God to get His word into our hearts?

Singing Songs

Did you ever get a song stuck in your head? You hear it all day long, all night long. Every time your mind is in neutral, the song is playing.

This last year I have had one song stuck in my head, the song ʼTis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus. Well, not in the typical sense that every time I was not thinking about something I would hear it, but in the sense that every time I would consciously think, “song,” it was always ʼTis So Sweet.  I sang it twice in church last year acapella (voice only, no music.)

Little kids love to sing, loudly, heartily, putting their whole body, soul, and spirit into it. They just can’t stand still so they do a little dance, a little jig, as they sing. Teach a child the song Jesus Loves Me and he will know it till the day he dies.

Then they grow up and develop a taste for a certain kind of music, rejecting other styles. They might sing along with the music in the car or sing in the shower, but seldom in public. Sometimes the only opportunity some people have to sing is in a Karaoke bar, where they can sing along to a recording of the latest hit song.

 Most churches have changed their format to praise-and-worship songs, with few hymns. Many older folks wish they would sing some old familiar hymns, but the younger folks want to learn the latest-and-greatest praise songs. Some churches resolve this issue by holding two separate services, one traditional, one contemporary.

God who created us with the capability to sing put a song into our hearts. Every race on earth sings, from Africa to New Guinea to Alaska.

Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

God’s kingdom choir can sing every style of music, from chanting psalms, gospel hymns, and songs of the Spirit of God given to us in these last days. Don’t limit yourself to only one style.

Turkey, Ham, or Deer Steak

One of the advantages of our grocery system in the U.S.  is that we can have turkey or ham any time of the year, not just on holidays. My kids didn’t want either one this year, so we agreed on deer tenderloin steaks.

The menu also included chicken breasts for variety; baked sweet potatoes (no marshmallows); green beans; mixed green salad with homemade vinegar and oil dressing; and for dessert homemade pumpkin pie with Reddi-Whip whipped cream. I made whole-wheat bread in the bread machine, but it didn’t rise very well, and it was heavy, so at the last moment I put frozen biscuits in the oven, which we ate with real butter and honey. No dressing; no mashed potatoes and gravy; not much left over.

Sweet potatoes and pumpkin are high in vitamin A and fiber. Deer is very lean, low in cholesterol. Whipped cream is real, not fake. Vinegar and oil are real ingredients too. Of course, turkey and ham are real too, and very good for you, just not what our stomachs were hungry for.

Do you read ingredients labels on food items? Words we can’t pronounce. Preservatives to extend the shelf life into eternity. Supposedly even the ants and roaches won’t eat some of those things.

Psalms 103:1-2, 5 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:. . . Who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

God filled the earth with good things just for you and me. On the third day of creation, even before God made man, He planned what man would eat. Genesis 1:11-12 says, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit. . . and God saw that it was good.”

Then after the flood, God told Noah, “And every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” Genesis 9:3.

We are eating “back-to-nature,” using God’s natural foods.

Oatmeal for Breakfast

Oatmeal for breakfast with honey and pecans—the perfect fall breakfast.

When I was a kid, I hated oatmeal. Gummy, gooey, stick-in-your-throat mess. I forced mine down with toast. We ate cornmeal mush, sometimes fried in bacon grease, or boiled rice, with butter, sugar, and milk, but that stuck in my throat too.

Sometimes we had eggs but Mama always made “lace” on my eggs, burned places on the edges where it was cooked at too high a temperature, or the yolk would be broken or hard. And when she scrambled eggs, she stirred them in the pan, instead of beating them in a bowl first, and there were always strings of egg white, which made me gag.

When I was about ten, she gave me my own little cast iron fry pan which I still have and basically said, “Fix your own eggs.”  

Mama was a great cook who worked at the school cafeteria for 25 years. All the kids remember her brown beans and cornbread, turkey and dressing, hot rolls, but she was best known for her cinnamon rolls and peanut butter cookies.

Now I am trying to go back to God’s natural eating plan. I am still picky, but not as spoiled by my mama as I was when I was a child. I try to limit processed foods and use olive oil and natural oils for cooking. And I keep fruit and nuts and dark chocolate around for snacking.

I sauté fish and I use my electric grill for chicken breasts, instead of frying. We eat dark green salads with home-mixed olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. We eat whole-grain cereals and use whole wheat-bread.

Genesis 1: 29 “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed ….and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” Then after the flood, God told Noah, in Genesis 9:3, Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”

God has given us good food to bless our bodies.

Greater Love

Say the word, “love” and what image forms in your mind? Young couples walking arm in arm on a secluded beach?  A mother holding her newborn baby? An older couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary?

 Jesus modeled true love when He walked on this earth. He called the little children to Himself, sat them on His lap, and cuddled them. He stopped a funeral procession, raised the dead boy and presented him back to his mother. He raised Peter’s mother from the sickbed. He cried as He gave Lazarus back alive to his two sisters.  His last act from the cross was providing a home with John  for His widowed mother.

Jesus was love personified, but He was not afraid to condemn the Pharisees for their hypocritical lifestyle, while bragging on the little widow who gave her last few pennies to God. He could be sarcastic, like when Judas betrayed him with a kiss. He rebuked Peter and the disciples frequently for their lack of faith.  He drove the money-changers from the temple with a whip He made Himself, when He saw that His Father’s house of prayer had become a shopping mall, where people were ripped off and short-changed.

Jesus was not a lily-livered coward, who turned the other cheek and let the Romans and Jews kill Him, as He has frequently been portrayed in films. He was a real man who stood strong in the face of His enemies and deliberately let them take Him to the cross. Jesus gave Himself to die—they did not kill Him.

That was His destiny, His goal, the reason  He came to earth—to die.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Love sent Jesus to the cross.