Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year 2009 in Review

2009 is winding down very quickly. Not only is another year winding down, but another decade is about ready to cease. We've almost finished the first decade of the 21st century. It went by very quickly. The landscape of our world has changed since the dawn of the year 2000. America was beset by some of the worst terrorist attacks on our soil on September 11, 2001. Since that time America has launched a "war on terrorism" and to date our country is bogged down both in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had a number of new technological inventions in the last decade. Americans have been introduced to MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, which are social networking sites and several million people are logged into these social networks. However, I'm briefly going to mention about some of the things that took place in 2009. We're about ready to dawn on 2010, which will be a new year and a new decade. Many more changes will be taking place before our eyes. I venture to say there's a great possibility the Lord could be coming back. You never know. However, time is winding down and the world stage is being set for the appearance of the antichrist, which is spoken about in the book of Revelation. Here are a few of the highlights of 2009.

One of the most eventful occasions took place on January 20, 2009 for some Americans; especially those that are black or African-American. Americans witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama on that date. He was the first black (racially mixed) president of the United States. He defeated rival John McCain for the presidency in November 2008. Many black civil rights leaders were overjoyed to have him as president because he's the first black president ever elected. He came into office in the midst of an economic recession beginning with the revelation of the mortgage meltdown in September 2008. He had promised hope and change and that the atmosphere and tone in Washington would be different. Almost a year after his presidency began it's mostly the same old business as usual except he's pushing the socialist agenda on America. He still continued the same policy of mortgage bailouts as former President Bush and then-Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson started late last year. The Obama administration gave $30 billion in TARP money (on top of what the Bush administration gave) to AIG earlier this year. The Obama administration also continued giving bailout money to GM and Chrysler. Later, the Obama administration took control of General Motors when they filed for bankruptcy protection in June and forced Rick Wagoner (GM CEO) to resign. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection and Bob Nardelli was removed from CEO as well. The Obama administration has also crafted some new rules for the financial markets.

When President Obama took office, he signed an executive order which ordered for the closing of Gitmo in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba. As of yet, there's no set date when Gitmo will close as well as the administration is trying to decide where all the Gitmo detainees might be transferred. Some could be transferred to Yemen. Also, President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice to the Supreme Court who replaced the retiring David Souter. At the end of January, Congress passed a stimulus bill which was supposed to help revive America's economy. Much of that money went to special interest groups as well as many of the states across America. It was nothing but a spending bill which didn't accomplish much when it came to the reviving of our economy. Small businesses should've received some of that money to help keep them going. However, the hope and change that Obama had promised didn't take place. He appointed a record number of czars who are very radical in their beliefs that support Communism. The White House Communication czar said one of her heroes was Mao Tse-tung (leader of Communist China). The national debt continues skyrocketing. He has the largest budget deficit ever in the history of our country in just one year's time. Washington can't throw our money away quickly enough. Also the Obama administration decided to scrap the missile shield program which would've protected Poland from missile attacks from Iran. Russia wasn't for the missile shield program and Obama caved into Russia's demands.

In the midst of the ire against Washington and how it's been ruining this country, the Tea Party movement has sprung up and has been holding rallies in Washington, D.C. and in communities all across America. The Tea Party had rallies on April 15, July 4, and other dates as well this year. It's not a partisan movement. It's a populist movement. It started as the result of voters being angry at the sky-high federal deficits in Washington as well as all the federal bailouts of the troubled Wall Street firms. The Tea Party gatherers were showing their disgust with Washington's policies. The mainstream media didn't view them very favorably other than FOX news. During the August recess many town hall meetings were conducted across the country. The senators and U.S. representatives met with their constituents and the electorate voiced their disgust at the healthcare proposal that was being debated before Congress. On a negative note, Congress and the Senate ignored their constituents' wishes and passed the healthcare proposal in both the House and the Senate. The Senate passed their's on Christmas Eve due to some bribery of a few Senators by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The bill passed on a 60-39 vote and it will head to conference committee once Congress is back in session.

There has been efforts this entire year led by the "World Net Daily", talk-show host Jim Sumpter and some other very conservative causes to try to force Barack Obama to reveal his birth certificate to determine whether he's a natural-born citizen. Those efforts have been futile thus far. However, Obama's citizenship has been questionable ever since he ran for president. He's not revealed his true birth certificate nor has he shown any of his college transcripts. A president isn't qualified unless he's a "natural-born citizen." However, the liberal media such as MSNBC and CNN covered for Obama when he ran for president last year. He is the poster child for the liberal media.

There have been an array of deaths this past year by some famous people. Some of the famous names are Patrick Swayze, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Ed McNamara, Walter Cronkite, and a host of others. I remember when Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett passed away. They both passed away on June 25. There was extensive media coverage of Michael Jackson's life and many of the news networks showed his funeral live. It's amazing the undue attention these Hollywood superstars receive. Sen. Kennedy received a lot of accolades following his death by the media and by his former colleagues in the Senate. He was very liberal in his political philosophy and he'd been instrumental in pushing for nationalized health care the last four decades. When the Senate voted for the healthcare bill on Christmas Eve, President Obama called Kennedy's wife to congratulate her. When ailing Senator Robert Byrd was wheeled up to the Senate to vote for the meausre, he stated he was doing it for his friend, Ted Kennedy.

America has also had an interesting year in sports as well. The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Superbowl in February. This is the second time this decade that the Steelers had won. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship in June. The University of North Carolina Tarheels won the NCAA basketball championship in April for the men. The University of Connecticut won the NCAA basketball championship for the women's team beating the University of Louisville to cap a perfect 39-0 record. The New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series this year for the first time in almost a decade. One major development in men's college basketball was the firing of the University of Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie in late March due to some comments he made about not being an ambassador for UK. UK hired former University of Memphis Coach John Calipari on April 2nd to be Kentucky's new head coach. He landed some amazing recruits in the process such as John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and DeMarcus Cousins, to name a few. Kentucky so far is doing great with a 14-0 record and they won 2000th all-time career victories on December 21.

Tonight there will be a huge celebration at New York Time's Square to ring in the New Year. I will be in church tonight celebrating the New Year. I want to wish everyone a Happy and safe New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas History (Part 2)

Throughout the history of America from the colonial period in the 1600's until present, Christmas hasn't always been celebrated in our country. There have been a number of reasons for that. When you read about Puritan Massachusetts, Christmas was outlawed for a period of time. From 1659-81 Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Christmas as we know it today wasn't celebrated in the same fashion back in early colonial America like it is today. The seventeenth century Puritans were vehemently opposed to the celebration of Christmas. Also, on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under the new constitution, Congress was in session. Christmas wasn't declared a national holiday until 1870. There were some states in the South during the time of the Civil War that declared Christmas a state holiday such as Arkansas, for example, but it wasn't a national holiday until June 26, 1870. We will take a look into the colonial background of America and determine why Christmas wasn't celebrated in Massachusetts, for example.

In the early 17th century a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645. They vowed to rid England of decadence, and as a part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the thrown and in essence the holiday was reinstituted. The Pilgrims, English Separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Oliver Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone celebrating Christmas was fined five shillings. Christmas was celebrated in Jamestown, Virginia, but that wasn't a Puritan stronghold. Following the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under the new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a national holiday until June 26, 1870.

There were a number of reasons why the early Puritans during the majority of the seventeenth century in America were opposed to Christmas. One reason was that nobody knew when Jesus was born and they didn't believe Jesus was born on December 25. They said if we were supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ, God would've instructed Christians to do so from the Bible. Instead, it taught Christians to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Another reason for the Puritans' dislike of Christmas was because Christmas wasn't a family holiday during those days like we know it today. Back then celebrating Christmas was a time of excessiving "partying". It was a time when drunkeness, revellings, fornication, and gluttony took place from December 25 up until the New Years. I read in a book about Christmas in early North America and it said the "Twelve Days of Christmas was about the twelve days of sinning." I'm somewhat paraphrasing it but you understand the point. It was a time after the harvest was finished when food and wine became accessible and many citizens took advantage of the time to engage in drunkeness and gluttony. That's one of the reasons why the Puritans were so vehemently opposed to celebrating Christmas.

Christmas was re-invented in America during the early nineteenth century. A wave of Dutch and German immigrants brought with them many Christmas customs such as Santa Claus or "Sinter Klaas". Americans started embracing Christmas in the early nineteenth century. They re-invented it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. During the early part of the nineteenth century there was a period of class conflict and turmoil. Unemployment was high and rioting was taking place from disenchanted classes. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city's first police in response to a Christmas riot. As a result, the upper classes decided to change how Christmas was celebrated.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote, "The sketchbook of GeoffreyCrayon, gent.," a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving's mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of social wealth or status. Irving's fictitious celebrants enjoyed ancient customs," including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving's book wasn't based on any holiday celebration he had attended. Many historians say that Irving's account actually "invented" tradition by implying that describes the two customs of the season.

Santa Claus was introduced into America in the 18th century but it was in the nineteenth century due to the poem that Clement Moore wrote that helped make Santa a part of America's holiday custom. He wrote a poem entitled, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" or "Twas the Night Before Christmas" that depicted Santa as a portly, round figure with a corn-cob pipe in his mouth who comes on his sleigh bringing all kinds of toys to good children and he comes and visits their home while they're alseep in bed. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast further developed that in the 1860's in his cartoon on the Harper's Weekly that gave us the modern-day image of Santa. Santa through the years would be used in many retail stores as part of their advertisement in luring shoppers for the holiday season. Santa would also be making appearances at the malls in the 20th century in which children had the opportunity to see Santa and give him their Christmas wish requests. Many men also would dress up as Santa ringing the bells for the Salvation Army to solicit donations. That's all part of the Santa tradition that has evolved in this country for the last two centuries.

2009 is drawing to a close. Tomorrow is the last day of the year. This will be my last post about the Christmas holiday and its many traditions for this year. Next Christmas season I will continue writing posts about the Christmas traditions throughout America and the world. I will also continue further exploring other aspects of Christmas history and how it became such an integral part of our culture! I hope all the bloggers and blog readers have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Traditions: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

For almost three quarters of a century, the song, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" has been a popular hit at Christmas time. When I used to attend elementary school, we used to sing this song in music class during the Christmas season. I recall the animated version of Rudolph in which Burl Ives narrated the television special and sang that popular song. That program was first telecast on NBC on December 6, 1964. It was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of the General Electric Fantasy Hour.

This song was created by a major retail store named Montgomery Ward for the purpose of enticing shoppers to their store. The story of the origins of Rudolph is as heartwarming as the song itself. The story of Rudolph began in 1939. America was still in the midst of the Great Depression but it didn't prevent people from celebrating and enjoying the good times of life. In the Chicago headquarters of the Montgomery Ward retail store that summer, executives were making plans for the Christmas season that year. Cities were more compact and commerce was centered downtown during those days. Christmas shoppers would flock downtown and these stores competed fiercely for these shoppers' dollars. The stores hung up lavish decorations and in their toy departments. They would create Christmas kingdom displays with Santa Claus enthroned in the middle. The highlight of the Christmas shopping season was for children to go downtown shopping with their parents to see Santa. Children would wait in line to see Santa. Once they sat on his lap, they gave their Christmas wish requests to Santa. After assuring Santa they had been good boys and girls, Santa would assure them he would do his best to grant their requests. Before they would leave Santa would reach into the large sack next to his chair and reminding them to be good, he would give them a little parting gift. For a number of years Montgomery Ward had filled their Santa's sack with a Christmas coloring book they had specially printed each year. In 1939, Montgomery Ward had decided to try to do something new and different. They happened to use their advertising department to create the new giveaway instead of hiring someone from the outside.

Robert L. May, a 34 year-old employee for Montgomery Ward was asked to come up with a new gift for Santa to give to the little children. May was small for his age and had experienced taunt and ridicule from other children when he was young. He decided to create a character that had similar problems, who, in the end, rose above his problems and was transformed. It was a very difficult task for him because his wife lay dying of cancer. They both had a four year-old daughter named Barbara who was also having to deal with the grief of losing her mother. Barbara helped her dad in the creation of Rudolph. Robert worked on the project in his home and in his office. He would test out the themes and story lines on Barbara. They both would converge together on the project. It's been stated that Barbara was the one that came up with the name "Rudolph". May's creation was not the "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" song that everyone knows today nor was it the popular cartoon now shown on television each Christmas. May's creation was a short story written in rhyming verse. It was the story of a little reindeer who was different due to a physical deformity, which was his bright red nose. He lived an ordinary life with his parents in the woods. He didn't live at the North Pole and his parents weren't part of Santa's reindeer team. He had to deal with the taunts of the other little reindeer because he was different. He had a positive outlook on life and he didn't allow his deformity to hold him back. Santa had asked him to guide his sleigh with his bright red nose because there was a dense fog out there and Santa couldn't see. He said all the children in the world would be disappointed unless Rudolph helped guide the way. The ending of the song was a little different when it was first created. At the end of the song, Santa said to Rudolph, "By you last night's journey was actually bossed. Without you, I'm certain we'd all have been lost." It's different from the current ending which says, "He'll go down in history."

The book given out by the Montgomery Ward Santas was an immediate hit with the children and their parents. Montgomery Ward distributed 24 million copies the first year. The popularity of the story continued immediately following 1939, but because of World War II, there was a paper shortage. Montgomery Ward was only able to produce and distribute 6 million copies between 1939 and 1946. Very few of the original six million booklets survive to this day. There was also tragedy that took place in May's life. His wife died of cancer. The medical expenses of her illness placed him deeply in debt. May didn't profit from the publishing of the story because Montgomery Ward owned the story. The story actually was a giveaway to children from Santa. Montgomery Ward profited form Rudolph indirectly by enticing more shoppers to the retail store.

In 1946, a financially strapped Robert May approached Sewell Avery, President of Montgomery War and asked for the rights to publish the story commercially. Avery granted May's request in January 1947 and the copyright to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was given to May by his employer. May then published the story commercially as a book in 1947 and also authorized the production and release of a nine minute cartoon version of the story for viewing in the theaters. May then teamed up with his brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks to turn May's story-poem into a song. In writing the lyrics, Marks changed the story slightly from May's original from the story we know today in the song. They had a difficult time finding a singer for that song. There weren't many singers willing to sing a song which would change the image of Santa's Reindeer from Clement Moore's poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" a century earlier. Gene Autry, a singer and actor best known for his role in Westerns, agreed to sing the song and it became a smash hit and had its place assured in the cannon of Christmas music. Year's later there would be a prime-time TV special in which Burl Ives would narrate the show and sing the song. Here's some of the lyrics to RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games
Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say
Rudolph with your nose so bright won't you guide my sleight tonight
Then how the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
He'll go down in history

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Foiled Terrorist Plot on Christmas Day

A terrorist plot to explode a jet this past Friday failed due to the detonator not working properly on an airplane. On Christmas day a 23-year old Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. He had an explosive device hidden underneath his pants. It was a chemical explosive that had a history of terrorist use--according to government officials and explosive experts. He also had a syringe filled with liquid as well. The liquid appears to be a glycol-based liquid explosive. The explosive is called PETN. It is small and powerful. The Saudi government stated it was used in an assassination attempt on Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the country's counterrorism operations chief in August. According to an article in USA Today, it was a component of the explosive that Richard Reid, the convicted "shoe bomber" used in his attempt to down an airliner in 2001. The Justice Department said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Nigerian man), had a device containing a high explosive on his body when he traveled from Amsterdam to Detroit. PETN is the primary ingredient in detonating cords used for industrial explosions and can be collected by scraping the insides of the wires. It's used in military devices and found in blasting caps. It's the high explosive of choice because it's stable and safe to handle, but it requires a primary explosive to detonate it.

Federal presecutors say his plot to blow up the plane was foiled because the detonator failed to explode. Instead, it started a fire and passengers and crew extinguished the flames and subdued him. It was the grace of God the detonator failed. After being treated for burns at a Detroit hospital, Abdulmutallab is in federal prison on charges of trying to destroy the airliner. Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said, "The System worked," on CNN. "Everybody responded quickly, effectively, without panicking and shutting the airline systems on air travel." As a result, the latest security breach could speed the installation of body-scanning machines. Janet Napolitano was dead wrong when she said the system worked. If it had worked, Abdulmutallab wouldn't have been allowed to board Northwest Airles Flight 253. Twenty-four hours later Napolitano recanted her statement. The question that must be asked is why was Admutallab allowed to board a flight to the USA?

The London-educated mechanical engineer was estranged from his wealthy Nigerian family and has claimed ties to Al-Qaeda. A month ago, his father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab warned U.S. Embassy officials of concerns about his son's religious beliefs. Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top-ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said he wants to know why authorities didn't act on the father's warning. "This is a well-respected government and business officials," he said. Abdulmutallab's name "was on a general list" of more than 500,000 people the federal government was tracking--not the much more limited no-fly list," Napolitano told CNN. And Janet Napolitano claims the system worked. With his name being on the general list, he shouldn't have been allowed to board the airliner. It's foolish! Instead of dealing with the root of the problem, the TSA is using all kinds of silly methods to detect explosives. Some of the methods and restrictions they're using are running a wand across your whole body, body-scanning machines which can detect non-metallic objects, such as plastic or liquid explosives. These machines can scan under your clothes and be able to see the private parts of a person's body. It's ridiculous! Some of the restrictions they're placing on passengers are bathroom breaks being eliminated for the last hour of international flights. Passengers are also being prohibited from holding items such as blankets or coats on their laps before landing.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to treat the symptoms instead of zeroeing in at the root of the problem. The answer is not foolish passenger restrictions which will ensure in further flight delays. The answer is profiling. The ACLU and the leftists think it's racist to profile. However, when you're dealing with issues of crime or terrorism, one of the methods that should be used to detect those that are guilty of these acts is their race, religion, and ethnicity(profiling). What type of people are the most likely to blow up airliners? Is is a 90-year old white granny walking with a walker? Of course not. It's those Islamists that are of Arabian descent. The Islamists believe in jihad. They preach in killing those that don't subscribe to the religion of Islam. The Islamic world is at war with the United States and the West. What are we doing? We're turning our head the other way. We don't want to offend Muslims or be insensitive to them. That's asinine! We're speaking of national security! Why won't the United States zero in on those that are responsible? I believe it's partially due to the ties America's elected officials have with the Middle East. President Obama is very sympathetic to the Muslim World. The Bush family even has ties with Saudi Arabia. We import a percentage of our oil from the Middle East.

The problem is that political correctness is run amok in the United States. What needs to be done is Janet Napolitano needs to be terminated from her position. We need to vote out our politicians from Congress this November. Also Abdulmutallab needs to be turned over to the military and subjected to coerced interrogation. It's ridiculous to hand him over to a lawyer and place him under a civilian trial. This should be treated as an act of war. We also need to be profiling questionable suspects. We need to implement a closed borders policy to prevent illegal aliens from crossing our borders. We also don't need to be allowing Muslims to come to America given the fact we're in a war with the Muslim world, even though President Obama and our elected elite seem nonchalant about it. Anybody suspect that's on a no-fly list has no business setting their foot on American soil. There's an old adage that holds true--THOSE THAT FAIL TO LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Wise Mens' Gifts to Jesus

(Matthew 2:1-12) Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. Saying, Where is he that it is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod teh king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the kin, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

In reading the account of the wise men bringing their gifts to Jesus, you see that these gifts were very expensive. They had seen his star in the east and they wanted to come and worship him. I was studying the three gifts that the wise men had presented to Jesus. They were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I was reading trying to determine what the spiritual significance of those gifts were. It says a lot for them to bring the kind of gifts they did to Jesus. Jesus was born into this world and he was to be the King of the Jews. He was to be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You can't reach any higher than that. Jesus' coming into the world was foretold a few millennia beforehand. Here the wise men had come to worship him and bring him valuable gifts. That explains much when it comes to what kind of baby Jesus was. If we were to invite the President of the United States over to our house, we wouldn't prepare him leftovers we had a few days a ago. We would fix him the finest meal that's ever been fixed. We would use the freshest ingredients to prepare that meal. We would prepare him an extravagant meal. Also, we would decorate our house in such a splendid manner to welcome the arrival of such a guest. Why? Because of the position he holds. He's the president. He's the leader of the free world. Jesus wasn't no ordinary baby. He came into this world to die for the sins of mankind. He was born a Jew from the seed of David. He will one day reign as king in the Millennial Reign. That's something to consider when you read about the type of gifts the wise men presented to Jesus.

I was busy studying about the three gifts that the wise men gave to Jesus and I thought it was very intriguing in what I read. I'm going to take time to describe what each of the gifts represent. I was looking on the website and it supposedly had the name of the three wise men. They were Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior. I can't confirm whether the names of these men are correct but I thought I would just mention their names I saw on the website. I looked up information about the three gifts from a couple of websites as well as from a book entitled, Were they Wise Men or Kings? The Book of Christmas Questions. It was authored by Joseph J. Walsh.

Gold of course, is a type of currency. It is a rare type of currrency and as a result, it's very invaluable. It is a medium of exchange. Now frankincense and myrrh are both resins. They are dried tree sap that comes from the trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and commiphora (myrrh) which are found in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Frankincense and myrrh have always been used to create incense, a substance you burn to create pleasing aromas. Cutting the tree's bark causes the sap to flow out of the cut. It's allowed to dry on the tree, then its collected.

The trees that produce frankincense are grown in northern Africa, mostly in Somolia. The trees grow on the rocky coast; the youngest trees furnish the most valuable sap. The season for gathering dried sap lasts from May till the middle of September. The milk-like juice runs from a cut made in the bark and is allowed to harden. After about three months the sap dries into yellowish "tears". These clear globules are scraped off. Frankincense is mixed with spices, seeds, and roots to create different aromas. Traditionally, you burn a powdered form of the incense with charcoal in a censer or a small stand. A censer is a vessel for burning incense. A typical censer is a small metal or stone dish. In many cultures, burning incense has spiritual and religious connotations, and this influences the design and decoration of the censer. Designs vary from simple, earthenware bowls to intrinsically carved silver or gold vessels.

Commiphora is a shrub or small tree found in the desert areas of Somolia and the Red Sea shores of Saudi Arabia. It grows up to 3 m. tall and has tough, knotted branches. The sap or resin is a pale yellow liquid and it flows slowly from cuts in the bark. After it dries it's collected in reddish-brown or irregular lumps. Myrrh means "bitter" in Arabic. Myrrh has been usd for ages as an ingredient in incense, beauty treatments, and perfumes. It also makes a good glue. Writings from 2700 years ago describe how it was also used for embalming. Because the demand for myrrh eventually became so high and because its supply was limited, it became as valuable as gold.

These three gifts have different meanings. I thought it was interesting when I read what they symbolize. Gold is the symbol of kingship on earth. It represents royalty. I believe it could be representative of Christ's royalty. Jesus will come back to this world one and will be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus will be king on this earth during the Millennial Reign. Frankincense is a symbol of the priesthood. Frankincense was a critical ingredient in the incense and oils used in the Temple in Jerusalem. Pagans also exploited its fragrance in incense oils, and perfumes and used it even to mask the repugnant fumes of bodies being cremated. Frankincense's association with the Jewish Temple priesthood could be symbolic of Jesus' priesthood, or even of his divinity. Jesus today is our high priest. When Jesus died on the cross to atone for the sins of makind it eliminated the need for an earthly priest to offer up sacrifices for the sins of man once a year. Jesus made that payment on Calvary's cross once and for all. He didn't have to sacrifice himself on Calvary's cross once a year. Once was enough for time and eternity. Myrrh is described as the symbol of death. Myrrh was employed as an aromatic additive. Myrrh was used to treat wounds and modern scientific research has shown that myrrh has geniune antiseptic and analgesic properties. According to Mark's Gospel, Jesus was offered on the cross wine laced with myrrh to temper his pain. He received it not (Mark 15:23) Myrrh was also used to anoint the dead, just as it says in John's Gospel. Jesus was embalmed with myrrh after his crucifixion (John 19:39, 40).

The three gifts the magi brought to the newborn baby Jesus were fit for a king. Jesus' birth into the world was finally fulfilled. The wise men honored Jesus with three precious, expensive gifts. We could learn a lesson from that. I know Christmas is now over, but we need to ponder the question on what we can give to Jesus? The most important thing we can give to Jesus is ourselves. That is to allow the Lord to have his way in our lives and to mold us and make us more like Him. Henceforth we are to be conformed to Christ's image.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Traditions: Twas the Night Before Christmas

by Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just setled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Given the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid, On, Donder, and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound,
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack,
His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right old jolly elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas", or currently known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Moore's poem is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a "right jolly old elf" with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. His poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve--Santa Claus waiting for the children to go to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve in a miniature sleigh which was led by eight flying reindeer. Santa Claus left presents for deserving children.
In 1881 political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew upon Moore's poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in "Harper's Weekly", depicted Santa Claus as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. Nast gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, and his wife Mrs. Claus.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

I want to extend this opportunity to wish all the bloggers, blog readers, my blog friend Becky Abner and everyone in America a very Merry Christmas! Today is one of the rare days where almost every type of store and business is closed except some of the most necessary ones. I'm thankful for the opportunity we have to visit family and friends on this day. It's a blessing to live in America and for the freedoms we enjoy immensely. I enjoy the opportunity to sit down at the table to a wonderful home-cooked meal prepared by the ladies and enjoy the delicious meal set before me. I enjoy the opportunity we have to sit by the fireplace and exchange presents with family and friends. I enjoy all the beautiful Christmas music that's played this time of the year. I enjoy the Christmas tree and all the beautiful decorations that adorn our homes both internally and externally. I'm thankful for all the Christmas perks that I receive at work such as a nice Christmas dinner as well as a Wal-Mart gift card. God has indeed been good to us. We've been blessed beyond measure materially, physically, emotionally, etc. I'm thankful for all the family and friends the Lord's allowed me to have.

Most of all I'm thankful for the reason why we celebrate this Christmas season: JESUS. I'm thankful that Jesus left the splendor of Heaven to come down unto this earth to die for sinful, lowly man. I'm thankful that Jesus was willing to leave the very best in Heaven and come to this earth for a short period of time to be born in a manger, to live in this world for a short while, and to die on a cruel cross for my sins and all the sins of mankind. I'm thankful Jesus was willing to experience the temptations of man and also was willing to face scorn and ridicule. I'm thankful we have a saviour who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. I'm thankful for the gift of salvation that's been freely extended to man. I'm thankful for the opportunity we have to serve the Lord in this nation and as of yet we don't have to meet underground to attend church. I'm thankful for the church that I attend and the opportunities the Lord has given to serve. I'm thankful for all the brethren that attend Pleasant View. I was remembering today how good the Lord's been to me throughout my life. I will admit I've taken it for granted a number of times. I'm thankful the Lord's been great to me in spite of myself. The Lord's goodness should compel us to want to live for him and serve him. It should cause us to desire to be merciful and compassionate toward the world when God was merciful to us when it was the most undeserved on our part.

Psalms 103:1 says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name." Thank you Lord for being good to us. Another year will soon draw to a close. 2010 will soon be upon us. It's hard to believe not only will be beginning another year but another decade. Time flies by so quickly. I know over the years I've wasted a lot of time which could've been productive. This would be a great time to start the new year using our time wisely accomplishing something productive. Life is short. We'll never accomplishing something sitting on our stool of do-nothing. Time wasted is time lost. It can never be regained. One of our goals for next year should be to more efficient with our time and to accomplish great things with our time! Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions: A Charlie Brown Christmas

YouTube - Charlie Brown Christmas

When I was a young boy and for several years afterward, I would watch the prime-time Christmas specials that would come on television such as "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", and the "Charlie Brown Christmas." I used to enjoy watching all the Peanuts gang prime-time animated specials on television. I especially enjoy the Charlie Brown Christmas special that debuted on December 9, 1965 and has been airing ever since. CBS aired this prime-time special from 1965-2000 and ABC has been airing this special ever since 2001. The producer of this prime-time animated TV special was Bill Melendez, who supplied the voice of Snoopy. It was initially sponsored by Coca-cola and over the years it would be sponsored by Dolly Madison and McDonald's. This special aired more than any other prime-time special, including the "Wizard of Oz." Since ABC started airing this special in 2001, it's aired at least twice annually. This Christmas production has received both an Emmy and a Peabody award. It became an instant hit when it first debuted on CBS. 50% of American households were tuned into the program on the first showing on December 9, 1965.

Four years ago I was reading an article about the production of the "Charlie Brown Christmas" in the USA Today newspaper. It was mentioning of the difficulties that Charles Schultz had in convincing executives to air this special promoting the theme of Linus reciting the birthday of Jesus from Luke 2:8-14. The network executives weren't keen on Linus reciting the birthday of Jesus on this special. Their reasoning was that viewers wouldn't want to sit through watching Linus quoting passages of the King James Bible. Schultz told them, "If we don't say what the true meaning of Christmas is, who will?" So they kept the recitation in the storylines. There were technical issues with the production as well. When producing this special, they were operating on a lean budget. Also, there were issues when it came to the voice productions of characters. With the exception of Charlie Brown and Lucy, the children who mimiced the voices of the Peanuts gang had difficulties in doing so. Kathy Steinberg, who provided the voice for Sally, who too young to read and had to be cued line by line on the audio track. Also there were segments that were choppy and poorly enunciated in certain places. There was a segment where Schroeder abruptly stopped playing the piano and the Peanuts gang continued dancing a couple of seconds. They felt the production would be a flop. Despite the producers' concerns, it was an instant hit and it has been a part of every American household since 1965. The quirks in the program supposedly didn't faze the viewers any.

I'm going to briefly give a narration of this Christmas story. The purpose of this show was to highlight the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas. The show begins with Charlie Brown joining the Peanuts gang at the frozen pond. Brown confides to Linus he was suffering from holiday depression despite all the cards and Christmas presents during this time of year. Even though his mailbox is empty and contains no Christmas cards, he thanks Violet for sending him a Christmas card even though she said she didn't send him any. He decides to visit Lucy (who on numerous occasions refers to Charlie Brown as "blockhead") in her psychiatric booth. He explains he's suffering from holiday depression. Lucy advises him he needs to direct the school play about the Nativity. She sympathizes with Charlie Brown about holiday depression, saying she receives "a lot of stupid toys" instead of what she really desires: real estate. On his way to the school's auditorium he is drawn to Snoopy, who is decorating his doghouse. Brown demands an explanation and Snoopy hands him a flyer about the neighborhood lights and display contest. Brown is frustrated by Snoopy being bitten by the commercial bug. Charlie Brown's sister Sally says she wants him to compose a dictation to Santa and she requests money in the form of "tens and twenties." He's also frustrated by her being drawn by commercialism.

When Charlie Brown arrives at the school auditorium for the rehearsals, he's frustrated because he's having a difficult time directing the play as the uncooperative kids want to modernize the play with dancing and lively music. Charlie Brown then suggests that the play needs a Christmas tree. Lucy suggests Charlie brown find a shiny, alumnium tree; possibly pink. Lucy dispatches Charlie Brown and Linus to fetch a tree. They head to a lot and they find several Christmas trees. He finds a baby Christmas tree that's alive. That's the only live tree he finds in the lot. Linus commented he didn't know they still made wooden Christmas trees. Linus questioned Brown's choice of the selection of the baby Christmas tree. Brown insists it would be the right tree. They bring it back to the rehearals and the gang laughs and castigates Charlie Brown for his choice of the tree. Charlie Brown in frustration asks "Does anyone here know what Christmas is all about?" Linus exclaimed he did and he went to center stage claiming the spotlight and he quoted Luke 2:8-14 which gives an account of the birthday of Jesus. Linus stated that Jesus' birthday was what Christmas was all about. Charlie Brown has a newfound inspiration and then proceeds to take the tree with him to his house to show it could work in the play. Along the way he stops at Snoopy's doghouse. He placed an ornament on the tree, but the ornament was too heavy and the weight of the ornament caused the limb to stoop to the ground. "Everything I touch gets ruined," Brown exclaimed. Realizing after Linus's reciting they were too hard on Charlie Brown, Linus and the gang then come to Snoopy's doghouse and he puts his blanket on the bottom of the tree to prop up the branch. The gang then removes the decorations from Snoopy's doghouse to decorate the tree. When Brown arrives back to his dismay he notices the little tree is decorated. The Peanuts gang then sings, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Then afterwards they exclaim, "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!"

Ever since 1965 this prime-time animated Christmas special has been coming into the homes of millions of viewers. I'm thankful that the recitation by Linus about Jesus' birth wasn't deleted from the storyline. It would be interesting to note how successful this prime-time special would've been if the producers had decided to delete Linus's recitation. I guarantee you the theme about the secularism and over-commercialization of Christmas wouldn't have made sense if Schultz's vision for this special had been deleted (the recitation of the birth of Jesus). The recitation of the birth of Jesus is what made The Charlie Brown Christmas so special and that's why I enjoy it so much. It explained the true meaning of Christmas!

YouTube - O Come All Ye Faithful in the style of Traditional

YouTube - O Come All Ye Faithful in the style of Traditional

O come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing Choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father, glory in the Highest;
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
All Hail, Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore by Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
The text to "O come All Ye Faithful" was originally written in Latin (Adestes Fideles) and was intended to be a hymn; it is attributed to John Wade, an Englishmen. The music was composed by fellow Englishment John Reading in the early 1700's. The tune was first published in a collection known as "Antus Diversi" in 1751. In 1841 Rev. Frederick Oakley is reputed to have worked on the familiar translation of "O Come All Ye Faithful" which replaced the Older Latin lyrics, "Adestes Fideles."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The U.S. Senate Votes for the Healthcare Bill

I had made a prediction several weeks ago when the U.S. Senate voted to begin healthcare debate that they would vote on party line to pass this 2,0000 page healthcare bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had made a promise that he would pass this healthcare bill before Christmas. Sadly, Reid kept his word. On the early morning of Christmas Eve, the Senate voted on party lines 60-39 to pass sweeping changes in the healthcare industry. Only Democrats voted for the bill. No Republicans voted for the bill. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) was the only absent senator in this meeting. Vice-president Joe Biden presided over the Senate vote in case there was a possibility of a tie. This was the first Christmas Eve vote since 1895 on a bill. When roll call votes were called Sen. Reid accidently voted "no", which resulted in the whole Senate erupting in laughter. Reid has been working round-the-clock the last four weeks on the Senate debates in this healthcare bill. Reid also had been involved in bribing so-called Democrat moderates such as Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) for example to vote for this healthcare bill. I read a Reuter's news story where Reid had offered deals to bribe senators such as to promise $100 million for a hospital in Connecticut as well as $100 million to provide medical care for the poor in Louisiana.

Also voting on this healthcare bill is the ailing Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) who made the statement "This is for my friend Ted Kennedy" who died in August of brain cancer. Kennedy has pushed for national health care the last few decades. Byrd was wheeled in to make this historic vote. Following the vote President Obama called Kennedy's widow Vicki Kennedy to congratulate her and Obama personally thanked all the Senators who voted for the bill for their vote. The last attempt to pass national healthcare was in 1994 when Bill Clinton was president. Clinton's efforts were thrwarted and it failed. Following the Senate vote the S&P Managed Healthcare index of large U.S. health insurers closed at 0.3 percent lower. The Health insurers stocks have soared since the start of October.

This bill is supposed to overhaul the $2.5 trillion Medicare system already in place. The bill would require all Americans to purchase health insurance. If any American refuses to purchase health insurance they would be subject to a penalty. It's supposed to provide coverage for 30 million uninsured Americans. It would supposedly cover 94% of all Americans. The House and Senate versions are different. Both the House and Senate will have negotiations to come up with a single bill. After a single bill is worked out each chamber must approve it again before it's sent to Obama to be signed. I predict that Obama will sign the final version. Both the House and Senate versions are different. The House passed theirs on November 7. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "This fight is long from over," "My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law." I wish that were possible but I don't think McConnell or any of the Republicans will have any success. The Democrats and President Obama can't wait to sign this bill into law. Once this bill is signed into law, the U.S. government will take control over 1/6th of the American economy. Taxes could rise around 13% and benefits won't take effect until 2014. That's a terrible deal!

The House and Senate versions are different. The House bill calls for a surtax on individuals earning more than $500,00 or couples making $1 million dollars and there will be a 2.5% excise tax on medical devices. The Senate calls for a $40% excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans. It will raise the payroll taxes for Medicare, which is the government health insurance for the elderly. The House has a public option which is the government will be in competition with private insurance. The Senate bill doesn't include one. There will be special fees on insurers, drug companies, and medical device makers.

The whole purpose for the Democrats desiring to pass health care is because they desire to take control of the nation's economy. In doing so, they can seize control over the American people. Every other aspect of American life has some effect on healthcare. The elected elite that's in power today are socialists to the core. They believe government-run healthcare is the solution to the high healthcare costs. They want to dictate to the American people on what they can eat and drink as well as to say what temperature to set on your household thermometer. They'll try to dictate our lifestyle choices. The Democrats will next be trying to push for healthcare coverage for illegal aliens. Then you'll see the push for amnesty for illegals. With so many Americans being unemployed, it will be very expensive to fund. There's not a sufficient tax base to cover the costs of national healthcare. This healthcare bill will be a further drain on the economy. It will drive up costs even further when it comes to private insurers. It will make it more costly for businesses to operate. I also predict that there will be a provision for abortion coverage as well. The Democrats are heavily supported by the pro-abortion groups and I guarantee they will come up with some plan to allow for abortion coverage. This new healthcare overhaul will definitely change America. America will no longer be the same.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Traditions: Gift-giving

One of the popular customs that's associated with Christmas is gift-giving. Gift-giving is primarily for children during this time of year. Children look forward to this holiday season and they have a list that's a mile-high of all the toys and other items they desire this holiday season. The custom of gift-giving during the holiday season began even before the birth of Christ. The union of Christmas and gift-giving was gradual and began before the birth of Christ. In ancient Rome, gifts were exchanged during the New Year's celebrations. They were simple: few twigs from a sacred grove and some food. Many gifts were in the form of vegetables in honor of the fertility goddess Strenia. During the Northeastern European Yule, fertility was celebrated with gifts made of wheat products, such as bread and alcohol. Emperor Caligula of Rome declared to all that he would be receiving presents on New Year's Day.

In the book of Matthew in the Bible following the birth of Christ, we read of the account of the three wise men bringing gifts to the little baby Jesus. Jesus was born in Jerusalem in the days of Herod the King. Three wise men came from the east inquiring of the Christ child. The wise men had seen his star in the east and they came to worship him. King Herod had inquired of the wise men of what time the star appeared. Matthew 2:8-11 says, "And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." What a special time that was! The wise men presented gifts unto the newborn child; the saviour that was to die for the sins of the world.

After the advent of the church, the early church leaders tried to outlaw the custom, but the people cherished it too much to let it go. There was controversy over the celebration of Christmas and all the trappings involved with it throughout the history of the world, but the modern concept of the gift-giving tradition as we know it today stems from Victorian England. There were two traditions that the Victorians practiced. One was the cobweb parties in which each family was assigned multicolored yarn. The people followed their color through the maze of yarn to the present tied at the other end. Another tradition was the Christmas pie. Everyone gathered arond a large bowl of grain into which small gifts had been given. Each person took turns dipping their spoon into the grain "pie" and whatever Christmas treated they scooped up was theirs to keep.

Gift-giving in America became a tradition in America when the Christmas holiday was rejuvenated in America in the nineteenth century. The Germans had brought the Christmas tradition to America in New York. They had brought Santa Claus with them to America, who was a mystical gift-giver. He played a major role in the gift-giving tradition in America, especially with young children. Legend has it that Santa Claus gives gifts to deserving children during Christmas. The poem that Clement Clarke Moore wrote in the 1800's entitled, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" reinforces Santa's gift-giving myth. After the Santa tradition began in America, Santa or one of his earlier models became responsible for presents left in an ever-increasing number of stockings. Merchant stores began advertising Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840's, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements; which often feature images of the newly popular Santa Claus.

The tradition of gift-giving being associated with Santa Claus and young children continues this very day in America. Every year you'll find men dressed up as Santa Claus in the shopping malls across America and a host of children will be lined up to see Santa presenting their Christmas requests to him. The sad part about it is that parents have led their children to believe Santa is the giver of gifts. It's the Lord. All the bounty that we receive comes from God above. It's never right to give credit to someone for God's blessings other than God himself. It's true that God uses people to bless us with gifts, but the ultimate source of all our blessings comes from the Lord; not Santa Claus. We've made Santa Claus an idol in America.

Christmas History (Part 1)

December 25th is the day we celebrate Christmas every year all around the world. There's numerous traditions involved with celebrating this holiday. Those of us who are Christian celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on this date every year. It's become one of America's holiday customs given the fact that America was founded on Judeo Christian principles. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this holiday in regards to the day we celebrate Jesus's birth because most likely Jesus wasn't born on December 25. Many historians believe Jesus was born around the month of September when the weather was warmer. Why would shepherds be tending to their flock with the weather being very cold? Also during colonial history in America many Puritans were opposed to the celebration of Christmas. It was even outlawed in Massachusetts for a period of time. What are the origins of Christmas? Who was responsible for making Christmas a "Christian" holiday?

Most historians believe Jesus' birth occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. The question was why would shepherds be tending to their flock during the colder months of the year? They wouldn't be out tending to their sheep during the cold Judean winter. The Rome winter solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of agriculture. In January they observed the Kalends of January, which represents the triumph of life over death. The whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the birthday of the unconquered son. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and their dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. As a result, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. In Northern Europe, many other traditions we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan sun god, Mithras, being born and was observed on the shortest day of the year.

As the sun grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year. Huge yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. Yule itself means "wheel", being a pagan symbol of the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods. The tree is the one symbol that unties almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and they were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

It's believed that the church chose December 25 as the day to celebrate Christmas as an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity the custom spread to Egypt in 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated thirteen days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. In 350 Pope Julius I declared that Christ's birth would be celebrated on December 25. Undoubtedly he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans to convert to Christianity. At least their feasts wouldn't be taken away from them.

Regardless of the day when Jesus was born Jesus birthday is worth celebrating. It's worth celebrating any time of the year. The seventeenth century Puritans didn't believe in celebrating Christmas for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was that if God wanted us to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, then the Bible would've instructed us to do so. However, without his birth, there never would've been no death, burial, and resurrection. Anything that has to do with Christ coming into this earth is worth celebrating for no other reason because He's the reason why life is worth celebrating.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Congratulations to the University of Kentucky in Winning 2000 All-Time Career Victories

As it's apparently evident, I don't write posts about sports. That's not the purpose of why I established this blog. However, whenever the occasion deems it noteworthy to mention a sports team or to mention about a particular sport, then I'll do so. Anytime I can draw some points and apply it to practical living in everyday life, I'll definitely take advantage of it. Today is one of those occasions. Anyone that keeps up-to-date with sports knows that the University of Kentucky Men's Basketball team defeated Drexel University 88-44 to become the first men's basketball team to win 2000 all-time career victories. Kentucky's record over 107 seasons is 2000-635-1. Defending national champion North Carolina Tarheels is a close second with 1992 victories and the University of Kansas is third with 1980 victories. That's a great accomplishment dating back from the UK's first game with the Lexington YMCA with a a 11-10 victory on February 18, 1903. The UK team that accomplished 2000 wins this year did so with first year coach John Calipari and his spectacular freshmen class which includes John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood as well as the more experienced players consisting of Patrick Patterson, Ramone Harris, DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller, and Perry Stevenson. If UK continues progressing like they have in the first twelves games of this basketball season, then I'll feature periodic posts about this team trying to expound upon some important qualities that this team possesses to practical living.

This was definitely a special moment at hand. There were many fans on hand such as former radio announcer Ralph Hacker, former UK head basketball coach Joe B. Hall, former Coach Adolf Rupp's son, former players Kenny "Sky" Walker Jamal Mashburn, to name a few. Also Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was at hand to watch the game and the after-game festivities. According to Owensboro's Messenger-Inquirer, streamers showered the court moments after the final buzzer while players donned black T-shirts commemorating the occasion. The crowd was getting wild. "I saw stuff flying, we were just trying to enjoy ourselves," forward Josh Harrellson said. Kentucky had it's most dominant performance this season when it played Drexel last night. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson scored 18 points apiece. Freshmen John Wall had 16 points and and seven assists. Following the game both Adolf Rupp's son and Joe B. Hall payed tribute to UK's 2000th win.

For weeks coach John Calipari had been downplaying Kentucky's pursuit of 2000 wins, saying his team needed to focus on improving, not making history. Calipari admitted it's pretty good when you can do both. "We weren't a part of many of those 2000 wins (but) we had a job to do and that was drag us across the line before that other blue team got there," referring to North Carolina as he was standing on the confetti-strewn floor at Rupp Arena. "This is a special program for this program and the state." Kentucky's rich and storied tradition began with Adolf Rupp when he was hired in 1930. As a coach, he won an NIT (precursor to the present NCAA tournament, and four national championships. On January 18, 1969, Kentucky won 1000 games beating SEC foe Tennessee on the road with the score of 69-66. Almost 41 years later on December 21, 2009, Kentucky won its 2000th game. Rupp was the all-time leading coach in the number of victories at UK with 875 wins from 1930-72. He was forced into retirement. He was in his 70's at that time. He was known for wearing brown suits while coaching. He had built a solid winning tradition at Kentucky which lasted for years to come. Since Rupp's departure, Kentucky's head coaches have been Joe B. Hall (1972-85), Eddie Sutton (1985-89), Rick Pitino (1989-97), Orlando G. "Tubby" Smith (1997-07), Bill Gillespie (2007-09), and current coach John Calipari (April 1, 2009 - present).

Kentucky overall has won seven NCAA champions in 1948-49, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, and 1998. Joe B. Hall won a national championship in 1978, Rick Pitino won a championship in 1996 and Tubby Smith won a championship in 1998. Kentucky has also won two NIT championships in 1946 and 1976. Kentucky has been to the final four numerous times. Kentucky has had quite a roster of noted players such as Ralph Beard, Cotton Nash, Cliff Hagan, Dan Issel, Pat Riley, Jack Givens, Sam Bowie, Melvin Turpin, Kevin Grevey, Kyle Macy, Kenny Walker, Rex Chapman, Winston Bennett, Jamal Mashburn, Walter McCarty, Antoine Walker, and Jodie Meeks, to name a few. I couldn't begin to scratch the surface in naming all their names. Dan Issel stands as the all-time leading scorer with 2138 points in three seasons at UK back in the sixties. During that time freshmen were ineligible to play.

There are numerous reasons for the 2000 victories Kentucky has won in 107 seasons. Some of the reasons are due to a strong work ethic, talented players, great coaches, the motivation to win because of UK's winning tradition etc. I want to briefly emphasize the other reason for UK's 2000 victories: teamwork. Kentucky over the years has played together as a team. When a sports team plays together as a team, you will win games. Teamwork is crucial. One of the daunting challenges Coach Calipari has had this season as the new head coach is trying to coach freshmen all-Americans such as John Wall, Eric Blesdoe, Daniel Orton, and DeMarcus Cousins for example. When a team consists of high school all-Americans, it can be very difficult to coach them. Many players that were great in their game such as scoring, rebounding, assists, etc. many times tend to think of their game in terms of their individual stats. They have a tendency to think of scoring "x" number of points in a game or "x" number of rebounds or assists. The individual sometimes has precedence over the team as a whole. That's one of the challenges that Calipari has had to deal with. So far this team is improving and meshing well together with each passing game. Calipari emphasizes the importance of team play. Instead of thinking in terms of individual performance, a player must think in terms of playing as a team. Basketball players must be willing to play unselfishly if they have a desire to win national championships. You don't win national championships by playing one-on-one the entire game. You don't win championships by individually trying to score the most points in a game. The players must play together as a team and pass the ball to one another. It's all about teamwork and making plays that will make your team better, regardless of your individual stats. That's one of the daunting challenges many college coaches have when they have high school All-American sports stars. It's very easy to think in terms of individual play instead of teamwork. You won't win very many games against top-ranked opponents unless your team knows how to play unselfish basketball and work together as a team. There's no other way around it.

That same principle of teamwork goes with other areas in life such as the workplace, organizations, churches, etc. Everybody that works for a business must understand that everybody has a certain role to fulfill and that everybody must work together as a team if that business is to thrive and prosper. Everybody can't think just in terms of self. Everybody must think in terms of how they can profit the business in which they work in. Our churches need members that think in terms of working together as a team when it comes to propagating the gospel as well as fulfill God's will for that local church. I've heard preachers say over the years that most of the work that's accomplished at church is accomplished by approximately 20% of the members. That's a crying shame. Everybody must learn to work together as a team. When you work together as a team, you become strong and it's very difficult to defeat a group of people that work together as a team. When a group of individuals don't work together and think only in terms of self, then little will be accomplished. Also, that group of individuals will be weak as well. However, when the church bands together and the members are willing to work together for the cause of Christ, Satan won't be able to defeat them. Teamwork is crucial. Teamwork not only applies to a sports team, but it also applies to any type of organization you're affiliated with in everyday life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Traditions: The Christmas Tree

One of the popular traditions in America culture as well as around the world is the Christmas tree. I look forward to the Christmas season every year. Most years with the exception of this year I'll set it out either the day before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving Day. It's a tradition that I treasure dating back from when I was a little boy. I enjoy placing the garland and the ornaments on the tree. I also place a lighted star on top. I like Christmas lights and how they glow in the dark. Those are very memorable traditions for me. Christmas trees have been popular in American society since the nineteenth century, when when German immigrants brought the Christmas tree tradition with them to America. Legend even has it that it was a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve that played a turning point in the Revolutionary War for the colonialists in 1776. Let's take a peak into the origins of the Christmas tree which is such a staple tradition in the world.

The fir tree has a long association in Christianity. It began in Germany almost 1000 years ago when St. Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. St. Boniface was said to cut down the oak trees and in its place a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. Fir trees weren't brought indoors at Christmas time until the 16th century.

The very first evidence of a decorated Christmas tree without lights appearned in Alsace, in Germany around 1521. We give credit for the modern-day Christmas trees originating in Germany. The Christmas tree tradition was rooted in Germany. The custom of decorating Christmas trees was well-established in Germany, France and Austria. Legend has it that Martin Luther (the Reformer) began the tradition of decorating Christmas trees to celebrate Christmas. On one crisp Christmas Eve around 1500, he was walking through the snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a small group of evergreen trees. The branches, which were snow-dusted, shimmered in the moonlight. When Luther arrived home he set up a little fir tree and decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth. Until around 1700, the use of Christmas trees appears to have been confined to the Rhineland. From 1700 on, when lights were an accepted part of the decorations, the Christmas tree became a tradition in Germany. That tradition crossed the Atlantic with the Hessian soldiers.

However, the tradition of tree decoration was around long before Martin Luther in Germany. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a festival called Saturnalia, in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens, and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life. Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during the mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life and placed evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits. Later in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrived, (the shortest day of the year) they bought green date plam tree leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.

The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with the Hessian troops during the American Revolution, as well as with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio. What role the Hessian troops played in the Christmas tree tradition in America I don't know. I read in a book that they played a minor role. A legend has it that a Christmas tree on a cold Christmas Eve in Trenton, New Jersey played a part in turning the tide for the Colonial forces in 1776. Hessian mercaneries were so reminded of home by a candlelit evergreen tree that they abandoned their guardposts to eat, drink, and be merry. That night Washington and his forces attacked them and defeated them. In today's world, if our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were to attack the terrorist forces while they were celebrating their own holiday tradition, our soldiers probably would be court-martialied and reprimanded.

In America, the Christmas tree didn't became a part of the American tradition until sometime later in the 1800's. The Puritans in Colonial America were opposed to Christmas trees or anything that had a resemblance to pagan elements. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. Even in 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job for having a Christmas tree on display at his church. Schools were open on Christmas Day in Boston until 1870 and those students that stayed home were expelled. As a result, the custom spread slowly. It was around the 1830's when the first Christmas tree was on display which was by the German settlers of Pennsylvania. By as late as the 1840's, they were seen as pagan symbols and weren't accepted by most Americans. The Christmas tree was an oddity to most Americans at that time. The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled 20 sleds of evergreens into New York City and the mall. By 1900, 1 in 5 American families had a Christmas tree and 20 years later, the custom was universal. Christmas tree farms sprang up during the Depression. There are six species of Christmas tree that are popular sellers: Scotch pines, Douglas firs, noble fir, white pine, balsam fir, and white spruce.

In the 1890's Christmas tree ornaments arrived from Germany from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the United States. In the early 20th century, Americans were decorating trees primarily with homemade ornaments. The German-American sect used apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. With the advent of electricity, Christmas trees used lights and the tree became a common custom in American society. The trees were dazzling when the Christmas lights shone in the dark.

Here are a few trivial points about Christmas trees in closing. The Christmas tree tradition in the White House began with Franklin Pierce, the nations' 14th president. Theodore Roosevelt banned Christmas trees from the White House due to environmental reasons. In 1923, Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree lighting tradition which has taken place every year since that time. In 1931 the Rockefeller Center in New York started setting out the Christmas tree in 1931. The next year they set out one with lights and it has been an ongoing custom at Rockefeller Plaza. In 1948 the tallest tree set up at the plaza was 100 feet tall, which was hailed from Connecticut. Today the Rockefeller tree is laden with 25,000 Christmas lights. Lastly, in 1979 the national Christmas tree was not lighted except the ornament at the top. It was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Jesus was Born of a Virgin

(Matthew 1:18-25) "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that whicdh is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying,
Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

One of the grave injustices many of the modern translations commit is to substitute the word "young woman" in place of the word "virgin". That changes the entire meaning of the birth of Jesus. Why is that so? Simply because not all young women are virgins. In today's society there are 12 and 13 year olds that aren't virgins. The King James had it right when it said that Jesus was born of a virgin. Some of these modern translations such as the NIV will substitute "young woman" with virgin. That could cast into dispute whether or not Mary was a virgin when she conceived the Christ child. The King James is explicit in its language. It doesn't use ambiguous language. As something as serious as the virgin birth of Christ, the King James Bible wouldn't use the phrase "young woman" in place of "virgin". It would be crystal clear in its usage of language. Something as profound as the virgin birth it would definitely use the proper word virgin to signify that Mary was indeed a virgin when she conceived Jesus. She knew no man before she was impregnated. That's something in itself that is an impossibility according to the laws of nature. There's no woman that's living in this world that could become pregnant without the aid of a man or without his sperm. A man must be involved when it comes to a pregnancy. A pregnancy without a man involved is against the laws of reproductive nature.

However, when we read about the account of Mary being impregnated, we read about an incident that has never taken place before in the history of mankind nor has since. Mary became pregnant without the aid of a man. On top of that she was still a virgin. That's two contradictory terms. No woman could become pregnant without the aid of a man as well as no pregnant woman could be a virgin. A woman that's a virgin is a woman that's never entered into any kind of sexual relationship with a man. Once a couple are joined together and become one, they aren't considered "virgins". However, in the case of Mary we see two contradictory things that were a reality in her situation. Mary was a virgin and was pregnant with the Christ child. Also, Mary had known no man. Even after Mary and Joseph wed the Bible says that Joseph knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son. When Joseph knew that she was pregnant, he being a just man was going to put her away privily and not make her a "public example." However the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph and told him that it was no problem for him to wed Mary because the child that's in Mary was conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Who had ever heard of a woman being impregnated of the Holy Ghost? You can imagine what some of those in Jerusalem may have thought if they were to learn of Mary's pregnancy. Some probably would've said, "It's impossible, how can a woman become pregnant without a man?" However, God's ways aren't man's ways. This was a supernatural type of birth. It was called the "Immaculate Conception." This was a birth that was foretold throughout the last four thousand years. God had promised Eve as far back as the Garden of Eden that "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15) God told Eve that after she and Adam partook of that forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Since that time many women in the Old Testament had desired to conceive a child in hopes that they would be the ones to give birth to the Christ child. The birth of Christ was a major event that was to change the landscape of the world. Never before would the world be the same again once Jesus entered into this world.

Why did Jesus have to be born through the Holy Ghost? Why couldn't he have been born through Joseph? Jesus is the Lamb of God. He was God and is God. He was part of the Godhead prior to the creation of the world. There are some that teach that Jesus didn't ever exist until he was born into this world. However, scripture verifies Jesus existed with the Godhead. He always was. Jesus came into this world as God incarnate: all man and all God. That's another human impossibility. Jesus would never have been born into this world as all God and all man had he been born through Joseph. Jesus couldn't have been born through mortal man and have been sinless. He would've been a sinner like the rest of us if he was born through Joseph. You read in Psalms where David said that in "sin did my mother conceive me." David was born through a human father named Jesse. All humans that are born through natual birth are born in sin. The seed of sin passes down from man to man from generation to generation. That's why the Bible says that babies are born speaking lies. They were tainted with the seed of sin. God the Father had a purpose for Jesus to be born into this world. Jesus was born to die on a rugged cross called Calvary to save man from the ravages of sin.

Jesus could never fulfill his purpose to die on a wooden cross for the sins of man if he was born through natural means. God knew this from the beginning and it was planned that Jesus be born of a virgin. That's the only way Jesus could be born without sin. The seed of sin is passed down from the male; not the female. Jesus couldn't be God incarnate unless he was born through the Holy Ghost. Not only was he born without sin but he maintained his integrity and sinned not throughout his 33 years that he lived on earth. Even when he was tempted of the Devil in the wilderness, he didn't cave into sin. He resisted Satan through scripture. He was obedient even unto death. Even when Jesus was sweating great drops of blood knowing he would have to drink of that bitter cup, he still sinned not. He was still obedient unto the father. He was obedient unto the end. And it's because of his obedience that we can celebrate the birth of Jesus and enjoy Christmas. If Jesus could've sinned and had sinned at any time while living on this earth, we wouldn't know what it would mean to enjoy the free pardon of sin. We couldn't come together and spend time with our families remembering the account of Jesus birth. If Jesus hadn't died on the cross for the sins of man, we would be all the most miserable. I'm thankful that Jesus was born of a virgin and that he died for the sins of man. One of the cardinal doctrines of the Bible is the virgin birth. Without the virgin birth, there would have been no spotless lamb to offer upon Calvary's cross. Jesus couldn't die for the sins of man himself had he been tainted with sin. Tampering with the virgin birth is heresy. We wouldn't know what it means to be saved today if it weren't for the virgin birth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Famous Televangelist Oral Roberts Dies at 91

Famous televangelist Oral Roberts passed away at age 91 yesterday. He died from complications of pneumonia in Newport Beach, California. He was the founder of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association since 1947 and was known for the "healing crusades" back during the 1950's and 60's. Starting in 1954, television cameras were brought into the tent meetings and viewers could view people in the healing lines requesting prayer for healing. Oral Roberts would lay hands on them and many would claim to be healed of their sicknesses and diseases from the Lord. Oral Roberts had a television program that was called "Oral Roberts Presents." It was later renamed "The Place for Miracles. The Abundant Life Prayer group was founded in 1958 to "address the around-the-clock needs of those suffering and requesting prayer. Surviving Roberts are a daughter Roberta, a son Richard who has his own television show, twelve grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. His wife Evelyn preceded him in 2005 after 66 years of marriage.

Granville Oral Roberts was born into poverty on January 24, 1918 in Bebe, Oklahoma. He was of the Cherokee descent. His ministry began when he went to a healing crusade at the age of seventeen and he was supposedly healed of tubercolosis. He claimed God called him to spread God's message of healing throughout the masses in crusades in America and around the world. He pastored churches in Oklahoma and Georgia and preached at revivals around the country while studying at Oklahama Baptist University and Phillips University. He founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association in 1947 and conducted crusades across America and around the world, crowds of thousands who were sick and searching for healing. Oral Roberts University was founded in 1963 and it was built on 500 acres in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ORU began accepting students in 1965 and the university was dedicated in 1967 with Billy Graham delivering the message. "Oral Roberts was a man of God and a great friend in ministry," Billy Graham stated. "I loved him as a brother. We had many quiet conversations over the years." I read that in a CNN report on the website.

In 1977 Roberts stated he saw a vision of a 900 foot tall Jesus. God had "instructed him to build the City of Faith Medical and Research Center" whose purpose was to merge the healing power of prayer and medicine. Back in 1983 Roberts also claimed God told him to find a cure for cancer. The ironic thing was he never found a cure for cancer and on top of that the City of Faith Medical Center shut down in 1989 due to financial reasons. Oral Roberts preached a prosperity gospel doctrine. He preached seed faith where if you donate a portion of your money to the Oral Roberts ministries God would multiply it. He was preaching the false doctrine of prosperity gospel. It's amazing that the Lord told him to build the City of Faith but God wasn't able to sustain the needs of that hospital. If the Lord told Oral to build it and if Oral believed in seed faith like he claimed to, then why couldn't God have rained in the necessary funds to keep it going? It's a sham. I wonder what kind of steward the Oral Roberts Ministry was with all the millions of dollars that were contributed by millions of viewers to his television program. Oral Roberts familiy lived a lavish lifestyle themselves with their vacation houses and their Rolls Royce. I wonder to what degree did they misuse funds? I'm not trying to set myself up as a judge but considering some of his statements and actions it makes you wonder. He had an explanation for the City of Faith closing down and he said that God told him to build the City of Faith to merge prayer and medicine together and that they had done that and it was finished. He equated the work that was accomplished by the City of Faith to the finished work of Christ on the cross. That's false doctrine.

Back in 1987 Oral Roberts told his viewers that God wanted to send medical missionaries from the center to the world and if he didn't raise 8 million dollars by the end of March 1987, the Lord would call him home. I never saw anything as foolish as that! It was a race track owner that gave him the needed funds which totaled $9.1 million in April 1987. Two years later the City of Faith Shut down. I believe that's blasphemy! I never have seen anything so foolish as that. Right in the middle of Roberts telling his viewers he needed 8 million dollars or the Lord would call him home the PTL/Jim Bakker scandal erupted. There was revelation of hush money being paid to Jessica Hahn, whom Jim Bakker had a sexual tryst with some seven years before. Also, there were allegations that funds sent to PTL were spent on the Bakkers' lavish lifestyle. It gave a terrible name to Christianity. There was news every single day on that one single event. It seemed like a living soap opera in the evangelical world. It was one of those ordeals where you would want to stay tuned for the latest, breaking news. It was pathetic. I had never seen anything as foolish as that. Several months later in February 1988, it was revealed that Jimmy Swaggart was seeing a prostitute in a motel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It seemed like a living nightmare. There was something brewing all the time for several months.

Oral Roberts helped play a pivotal role in spreading the Charismatic movement across America with his message of healing and seed faith. I believe in divine healing but God doesn't always heal everybody that prays for healing. Also, there's no such thing as faith-healers. Only God heals. Oral Roberts also taught the erroneous doctrine of seed faith. The Bible declares in the book of Malachi that if you bring your tithes and offerings in the storehouse, God will pour you out a blessing that you can't contain. However, that doesn't necessarily come in the form of money or material goods. God blesses that way but he doesn't promise that if you give $10 you'll receive $100 back. God's blessings come in many ways; some ways we're unaware of. But giving isn't about receiving so we can consume it upon our own lusts. We are to give with a cheerful heart because we love him. If we give cheerfully, the Lord will bless us. However, God's blessings aren't necessarily limited to material prosperity. Giving is to teach us to honor God and to be a blessing to others. It's not about self-gain. Oral Roberts was another one of those false prophets that I believe God said we should mark and avoid. He caused a lot of damage to the body of Christ with his deceptive message about prosperity and gimmicks he used when it comes to healing. It's tragic the many followers he had and they never learned the truth. I understand if you're a new Christian it might take a while to learn the truths of the Bible, but if you're grounded in Bible doctrine, then you'll know Oral Roberts was a false prophet.