“The True Light, which, coming into the world, enlightens every man”

Abigail snapped this photograph of me reading aloud "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" to family (that's a copy from 1887 that I'm holding!).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.

He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

He was in the world, and the world did not know Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

~ John 1:1-14.

“So preoccupied is the mind with myths and systems; so much do false deities crowd every place–earth, air, sky; so have they become of everything a part, that return to the first religion can only be along bloody paths, through fields of persecution; that is to say, the converts must be willing to die rather than recant. And who in this age can carry the faith of men to such a point but God himself? To redeem the race–I do not mean to destroy it–to REDEEM the race, he must make himself once more manifest; HE MUST COME IN PERSON.”

~ The Magi in General Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

 

The keeping room at night, after the multitudes have dispersed...

Merry Christmas, and have a Blessed New Year ahead!

The Star of Bethlehem

We could spend our entire lifetimes drinking in the evidence for the creative GOD of the Bible within the finite basin of our universe and still never find it dry – the fingerprint of an infinite Designer, no doubt!  Are you not impressed by the design of the giraffe, that can bow and raise its long neck quickly without losing consciousness?  Look to the bombardier beetle, with its built in arsenal of chemical weaponry.  Not impressed?  Look to the smallest unit of living matter, the cell.  Not impressed?  Look to the complex symbolism within the Hebrew and Chinese languages.  Look to the precise chemistry of the atmosphere, the way a fish breathes under water, the way the immune system fights like a trained army, and the way a mammal nurses its young.  Still not impressed?  Look to the heavens.

Behold a system so mathematically precise that you can fast forward and rewind an image of its motions with modern software.

“The heavens are telling the glory of GOD; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.”
~ Psalm 19:1-4

The actual Hebrew words in those sentences that are often translated as “declaring” or “telling” are çâphar (ספד) and nâgad (נגד).  The meaning of çâphar is

to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e. (by impl.) to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intens. to recount, i.e. celebrate: – commune, (ac-) count, declare, number, + penknife, reckon, scribe, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer.” Strong’s Concordance.

Ah, doesn’t that sound astronomical?

The word çâphar is the same word used in Job 12:8, 28:27 (“Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out”), 1 Chronicles 16:24, Psalm 78:6 (“That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children…”) and many other verses.

The meaning of nâgad is

to front, i.e. stand boldly out opposite; by impl. (causat.) to manifest; fig. to announce (always by word of mouth to one present); spec. to expose, predict, explain, praise: – bewray, x certainly, certify, declare (-ing), denounce, expound, x fully, messenger, plainly, profess, rehearse, report, shew (forth), speak, x surely, tell, utter.” Strong’s Concordance.

The word nâgad is used in Genesis 41:24 (when Pharaoh told Joseph about his dream, “I told it to my magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me”), Esther 4:8, Job 31:37, Isaiah 3:9, 21:6, 41:22 (“Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; as for the former events, declare what they were, that we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce what is coming…”), and many other passages.

Read Psalm 19 with this fuller understanding of the beautiful Hebrew words çâphar (ספד) and nâgad (נגד) and no longer does it simply mean that the starry sky is an impressive display to reflect GOD’s glory. The celestial bodies have been placed there with a mission to communicate and verify the entire saga of salvation.

“Then GOD said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…’”
~ Genesis 1:14

The Hebrew word in that passage often translated as “signs” is ‘ôwth (אות), which means

a signal (lit. or fig.), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: – mark. miracle, (en-)sign, token.” Strong’s Concordance

Before I delay any longer, I really must let you see what one Christian lawyer on a quest to understand the Star of Bethlehem discovered along the way.

Hint: Remember that YAHWEH named the stars, not man (see Job 9 and Amos 8 ) – different cultures have told stories to go along with the stars, but they haven’t changed the names and their meanings. Then recall the great sign that appeared in heaven in Revelation 12 about the woman clothed with the sun; the moon at her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head. Now prepare to realize that there is something historically significant about December 25th, and no, it has nothing to do with pagans, Santa Clause, or even a manger.

Introducing, Frederick A. Larson…

Post Scriptum to skeptics – Still not impressed? There’s more…

~Amanda~

The Atheist Christmas Tree Farmer

The exceptionalism of Jesus Christ was his livelihood, and yet he could not bring himself to believe it.

The Reads’ little red Honda scooted down the narrow driveway along the rail fence of the Christmas tree farm.  It was December of 1993; Amanda was a little girl of three years going on four and Rachel was a baby.  The cold, snowy winter of Ithaca, New York left everything outside dense, quiet and white – Narnia white.  Christmas was coming, and the celebration of Advent was a new family tradition.  The anticipation of Christmas Day became a remembrance of the anticipation of the Savior’s coming, and a rekindler still more of the anticipation of His return.  One classic symbol included was the Christmas tree; its evergreen nature a symbol of eternal life.

The Christmas tree farmer stood at the gate to discuss their Christmas tree selection.  “I’m an atheist.” How the subject came about is not remembered, but the man made it clear that he had nothing to do with this Christ everyone was celebrating.  Amanda stared hard at the fellow.  She hadn’t seen an atheist before.  He stood there with his toboggan pulled tight around his ears, his nose in the air as he beat snow off his gloves.  “Watch out for the ice there,” he told the little girl.  “You could slip and fall.” It is easy to underestimate the mental capacity of a child.  Children do stupid things – do they ever have even a halfwit reason?

The little girl kept trying to imagine what it would be like to live without believing God exists.  If God is love, and you don’t believe in God, can you still love?  If God has standards for what is right and what is wrong, and you don’t believe in God, can you still believe in right and wrong?  She edged her foot out across the smooth ice.  If I stepped out on the ice and slipped when the atheist told me not to, what would he do? Just like that, Amanda decided to risk injury for an experiment she might not get the chance to repeat.  She stepped out on the frozen puddle and began obeying every law of gravity and friction that she didn’t know existed.  The atheist Christmas tree farmer caught her arm before she went under. Perhaps Amanda resembled a wee polliwog on the evolutionary scale that needed to be saved from extinction.  Perhaps, being an atheist, the Christmas tree farmer knew what it was like to step out on ice everyday, cheekily experimenting to see if God would suddenly appear to rescue him.  Or perhaps, being a human made in the image of God, the Christmas tree farmer was obeying every law of reason and compassion ingrained in him that he didn’t know existed.  If you were to ask him, the Christmas tree farmer would probably say that he recognized the rational reality of slippery ice and concussions and God had nothing to do with it.  If you were to ask the adult Amanda Read, she could just as easily disregard the atheist’s existence and say it was the hand of God alone who saved her skull.  But one of the two knows better than to say either.  Feel free to experiment until you find out.  Yet do be careful around the ice.

Jesus Christ was his thriving business, yet he loved Him not.  Jesus provided for the atheist Christmas tree farmer well.  One can only hope that he personally thanks Him for it before it is too late.

This is a true short story that was originally written for the Cross-Eyed Blog and Webzine, but due to certain constraints it was never published and has now been posted on Sincerely Amanda later than it should have been.

~Amanda~

Gone With The Year

Christmas has come and gone once again. Year twenty o’six is nearly over.

We had a splendid Christmas party with family at our Grandparents’ house on the 23rd (little cousins are growing up fast!). Grandmomma gave Rachel and I each a very pretty old-fashioned white nightgown with lace and burgundy velvet trimming. They match exactly and are very lovely. I’m sure the other little Read bloggers want to fill you in on their gifts…

We also had a game of “Dirty Santa”, as tradition holds, and Rachel and I played this time. We managed to find nice gifts; an ivory ceramic potting bowl with narcissus bulbs and an ivory shelf with two picture frames and a clock (which will complement our bedroom walls very nicely).

The feast (you might say that we had three days of feasting ) was delicious. Dad, by the way, tried his hand at cooking some huge cuts of venison in the smoker on the 22nd. It was roughly a 24 hour project total, but the meat was delicious and it was a learning experience.

On Christmas Eve our Grandparents took Rachel and I on a shopping trip. Rachel came up with the idea of five of us children combining our money (a total of $172.00) to buy presents for Mom and Dad. I was skeptical about the idea at first, as I worried that we would not find any suitable presents. We did manage to find a fancy blender and brown blouse and sweater for Mom and a printer/scanner/copier/fax machine for Dad.

That evening we wrapped the gifts at our Grandparents’ house with Grandmomma and Aunt Laurel. After a nice supper, Uncle Dan and Aunt Laurel drove us home (Cousin Samuel was having a great visit with the others at our house, and little cousin Goodwin was already in bed). They stayed for our own little Christmas Eve Advent Service that we have every year.

After they left we completed our other Christmas Eve tradition – watching, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. That is always nostalgic and enjoyable.

Christmas day dawned as a cloudy one, since we had a good deal of rain the night before. We don’t get a ton of gifts like we used to, which actually makes presents a more tolerable experience. We don’t have to deal with hectic amounts of wrapping paper everywhere.

Beth received a puzzle, chim-a-long and Buzz Lightyear toy; David received a light-up flying disk and Woody Toy (he got a Buzz from our grandparents too!); Mary received a toy horse barn with a collection of little horses; Abigail received a digital Kids’ Camera; Joseph received a Playstation 2; Rachel received an assortment of ballet attire and a Roller Coaster Tycoon computer game; and I received nice Levenger Circa Agenda notebooks. Each of us children also received $25 dollars from our Grandparents on the Sayers side of the family.

We had a game of Charades that evening (one of Rachel’s stocking stuffers). Very funny…

Today we visited our Great-Grandparents. Great-Grandmother Mary loves to hold Ben. The rest of us children sat down through the majority of the chilly evening watching the 1938 “Adventures Of Robin Hood” while Dad talked to Papa Joe (Great-Grandfather) about family history. It was another nice visit.

Thus, all is well that ends well. Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

GOD BLESS,

~Amanda~

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Comments

Thursday, December 28, 2006 – Untitled Comment

Posted by Jocelyndixon
I like the new picture…you’d go great in a P&P movie!

Stop by soon!

Sincerely yours,

Jocelyn
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Monday, January 1, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by DancingFeet
Just dropping by to catch up a little bit on your blog! It sounds like you had a nice Christmas and visits with family. Hope your New Year is a blessed one!
Love,
Briana
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Monday, January 1, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by Jocelyndixon
I’m very glad you a wonderful Christmas.. I bet you learn a lot from papa joe… I love hearing old stories…

I hope you have a WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!!!

Sincerely
Jocelyn

Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh

I am generally not content with a blog post unless it describes every detail which I intend to convey to the utmost of credit.

So – we finally have an updated HomeschoolBlogger.  It seems to have learned a thing or two about detail from HomesteadBlogger.  I believe I am nearly recovered from the utter resounding difference of this set up.  I appreciate it regardless of any slight hinderment whatsoever.  But my precious Palotino Linotype font is gone!   What I have will have to suffice (and I am not ignorant to a few tricks in the book of webdesign as it is).

I will share a little "Gold, Frankincense and Myrhh" we have experienced recently…

As for glittering Gold, Rachel and I have been trying our minds at the Jamestown 400 National Treasure Hunt.  Joseph and Abigail have helped too.  We have found a lot of clues, but the challenge lies in connecting them all.  Once I get passed the hieroglyphic translation entirely, we should be on to something.

This evening we are attending a Christmas party (yes, the entire family!).  It is an event being held by the Sons of the Confederacy (being Southerners, we have Confederate ancestors, of course).  Civil War history is so fascinating.

As for lively Frankincense, Advent celebration has been as lovely as ever this year.  Our Christmas picture for this year was a reasonable success.  We attended our friend, Evan’s performance in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever recently.  It was a cleverly amusing portrayal of fun and flaw that always shows up in a Christmas Pageant – no matter how hard everyone tries.  I’ve been in five little Christmas Pageants myself, mind you ("I’m always Mary" – that’s a running feminine brag line, isn’t it?).

As for bitter Myrhh, Mary’s 8-month old cat, Pearl, died mysteriously today.  This morning I found her in the kennel when I was on my way to feed the chickens.  She seemed nearly paralyzed, her head and neck trembling.  Mitzi, her grandmother, curled up next to her as though she was trying to comfort her.  From the drooling and tremors the cause is assumed to have been poisoning.  Joseph, Abigail, Mary, David and I handled the burying.

Here is our chosen Christmas picture of the year:

The Read Children - December 2006  

"…GLORIOUS NOW BEHOLD HIM ARISE, KING AND GOD AND SACRIFICE…"

MERRY CHRISTMAS,

~Amanda~

 

Comments

Monday, December 18, 2006 – Untitled Comment

Posted by Jocelyndixon
Amanda
I know what you mean in your comment. It is very scary to know the End Days are coming. I hope I am will be prepared.

As for goats, we have 2 and they are Nubians. One white and the other brown. Like I said, they are easy to care for. The only thing I don’t like is clipping their hooves, it grosses me out.

Love, Ms. Jocelyn
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006 – Hello

Posted by PinkFlamingo
Interesting post, how you tied in the Wise Men’s gifts with the recent events of your life! I’m sorry to hear about your sister’s kitty. My cat died this past October, so I know how she feels.
I hope you have a great day and a wonderful Christmas!