Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sun Dec 22nd Todays News

Tweeting has gotten some people in trouble. Sometimes the controversy is concocted and inflated, as with Duck Dynasty. Sometimes it is just a highly lauded idiot being themselves, as with a former PR-exec going to Africa. One hopes she enjoyed her stay. Words have power. Used by wise people, words can build and create hope where there is none, when all seems lost. Such is the case when a dying woman left some letters, to be read after she died. But, words can be badly used. I have pointed this out many times to many people. If you use hatred to make a point, you probably aren't making it well. It would be wrong of me not to say so. One person so advised by me accused me of being dictatorial. I deleted some posts based on published guidelines. That isn't censorship. Censorship is what you get when you can't post good ideas .. or any ideas ..
Piers has a strong opinion on Christians being killed for their faith. But that does not worry me as much as innocent people being killed indiscriminately so as to scare others. The faith of the victim is not important. The faith of the abusers is debatable. Nero felt he was persecuting atheists when he persecuted Christians. That didn't make his ideas worthwhile. A sherif in England denied safe passage to several families a thousand years ago, and so they were lynched. It would have been a cowardly crime at the time, and is considered one today, except where the UN approves the mayhem. Christians are not assured of a great life in the world. It just highlights an important thing. President Bush was wise to defend US interests in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is wrong to abrogate responsibility. A weak President is a bad one, internationally, a weak President is a disaster. Obama is unlikely to tweet himself out of trouble.

Happy birthday and many happy returns Ammanuel Abebe and Hoa Nguyen. Born on the same day, across the years, along with 


A time for love and joy

Piers Akerman – Saturday, December 21, 2013 (11:43pm)

AS the world carols towards Christmas, at least in packed Western-style shopping malls, it is easy to lose sight of the plight of Christ’s followers.
Across the Middle East, in towns and hamlets where some of the oldest vestiges of the religion have clung to existence for almost 2000 years, the remnant Christian populations are being slaughtered.
In Egypt, Libya, Syria, thousands of Christians have been systematically murdered in a continuing horror that is largely overlooked by the world and overshadowed by the bloody wars raging between the Sunni and Shia Muslims.
The Copts, who had notably lived peaceably among the Egyptians, are now almost extinct in the region of their origin, flourishing only in the West.
According to a three-year Pew Research study of harassment of particular religious groups released in August, 2011, government or social harassment of Christians was reported in a total of 130 countries, 66 per cent of the nations surveyed.
Over the past two years, the situation has only worsened.
Anti-Christian persecution and actual violence have increased. The International Society for Human Rights, a German-based monitoring organisation says 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination are directed at Christians.
Rarely however is the big picture revealed, with most news items mentioning the burning of a church here, the murder of a family there, a car bombing or militarily-approved execution somewhere else.
The relentless extermination of Christians rarely rates in the news now. Just as the Syrian civil war, which occupied centre stage and world attention - even drawing some asinine comments from US President Obama for a fleeting moment - is now relegated to background chatter.
Ironically, Syria once housed one of the larger Christian communities in the Middle East and Syrian Christians, and Syrian Jews, were recognised with positions in the Cabinet of the now reviled President Assad.
They would have absolutely no future under the extremists in the militias competing to unseat the dictator.
Even the Burmese, whom the West views in a peculiarly muddled manner because of the media-friendly presence of political figure Aung Sun Suu Kyi, persecute their minority Christian Chin and Karen ethnics.
So much for the luvvies embrace of Buddhism as the religious panacea for the world’s problems.
In North Korea, where Kim Jong-un executed his uncle last week, it is estimated that between 50,000 to 100,000 Christians are held in forced labour camps for failing to worship the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung.
Religion is not a comfortable topic for discussion in Australia unless the absolute evils exposed by the succession of inquiries into child abuse make it inevitable.
The horror stories related to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse would make anyone weep.
But as appallingly tragic as the stories told by the brave survivors have been, there are others still suffering too much pain to expose themselves to the publicity an appearance would inevitably create.
In recent weeks, a number of such people have told me that even the existence of the inquiry has caused them to relive horrendous experiences they had been struggling to cope with.
One correspondent, who sent me a copy of his 29-page psychiatric report to help me gain greater insight into his situation, came forward after hearing the evidence of one of his old companions, Richard “Tommy’’ Campion, who was beaten and sexually abused throughout the 14 years he spent at the North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.
The distressed man said that Campion had mentioned in his presentation an episode about a child forced to wear a nappy all day as punishment for wetting his bed.
“I was that child, this is the episode,” he wrote.
“I was forced to sleep in a cot, suitable for a little baby because I had a problem with wetting the bed but I was about 4 or 5 years old. I couldn’t straighten my legs.
“I woke up one morning having wet myself and was terrified. I was then told I would have to wear a nappy to breakfast in front of 35 other children.
“When they had sat down to breakfast I was PARADED in front of them all while they were ‘ordered’ to ‘laugh at me’. I sat and had breakfast with all these children while wearing a nappy hearing the ridicule and laughter constantly.
“Then after breakfast I was told I was going to wear the nappy to school all day. I was absolutely terrified, humiliated and to this day I still wish I was dead, I constantly wish for death and I cannot deal with more than three people at a time.”
His report would indicate he has led a life of catastrophic distress with not infrequent feelings of worthlessness, guilt and self-loathing and thoughts of suicide.
It would be easy, as some have raced to do, to blame religion and particularly Christianity for the wretched life he has endured, but it would be wrong to do so.
The message Christians share is one of hope, whether they are being persecuted in another country or brutalised by someone professing to be a Christian here.
That is the message in those shopping-mall Christmas carols, if they can be heard above the ringing of the cash registers.
It is not a call to arms, a call to hate, a call to slaughter, but a call to love. It is hopeful.
So, a Merry Christmas to all, and let the message of peace and joy spread throughout the world.


Tim Blair – Sunday, December 22, 2013 (5:08am)

Public relations expert Justine Sacco loses her job after tweeting: 
Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white! 
Sacco joins a long list of people fired or suspended for Twitter comments:

Icon Arrow Continue reading '48 PEOPLE IN TWITTER TROUBLE'
Two years after dying, Brenda Schmitz sends her family an amazing Christmas gift
"HELLO my name is Brenda Schmitz and when you are in receipt of this letter I will already have lost my battle to ovarian cancer."

Season's Greetings!

San Francisco once again adorned in Holiday style as seen from below the famous western span of the Bay Bridge. Getting down to this spot is fairly treacherous, but climbing back up was exceedingly daunting since the fire, leaving the steep climb back up to the top one that was slip sliding on eroded sod and painful side aches for this photographer... the rest of the team didn't seem to fare as badly as I... new year's resolution #1 will be to exercise more.
 — with Eric Dugan,Mike Oria and Joe Azure at Yerba Buena Island.





Michelle Malkin

Steve Martin apologizes, deletes tweet about African American neighborhoods ==>
A good man with a proud list of achievements has passed - ed
It wasn't age that did them in .. drugs, alcohol, firearms .. ed




Anger and empathy

If you’re angry, you cannot really be empathising with the person you’re angry at. A failure to empathise is not a misunderstanding, like when you overinterpret something and get it wrong, nor a fallacy, like failing to see arbitrariness or causality; but it is an intellectual limitation — a form of short-sightedness. When we come into contact with a mind that is not our own, and can only see it from the outside, through the lens of our own thoughts and feelings, then our viewpoints are always blinkered, myopic, one-sided. It’s like never knowing what the back of your head looks like. In the case of anger, it means judging someone without fully understanding him.

Let us not hate anger, but merely see it for what it is. Anger is characterised by paranoia, fallacies of judgement, and a kind of self-centred myopia, but it had to be that way. Darwinian pressures demanded it. The anger program had to be quick and automatic. It had to be nasty. Like it or not, the angriest, most dogmatic, and most tribalistic of our ancestors are the ones that reproduced the most prolifically. So we are not blaming anyone for these intellectual flaws. Man is not Vulcan. Wisdom in man takes considerable work, a little like getting dogs to stop barking at strangers.

Extract from
The Anger Fallacy: Uncovering the Irrationality of the Angry Mindset
by Steven Laurent and Ross G Menzies

Buy the book at

or read more about anger from the authors at

or read about The Anger Fallacy Research project at the University of Sydney
 (2 photos)

"Writing regulation gives companies a leg up on their competition without ever having to improve quality or lower prices. If lobbying is cheaper than innovating, companies will write regulation instead of taking risks."




James Calore
I like to keep my friends close and my herbs closer
reminds me of my wife .. ed===


Five moments when Matt Smith broke our hearts as the Doctor: (fromAnglophenia)

Agreed but I know somehow someway a barnacle is going to be offended by this post.

Jason Queue
Just Released this new music video on my new channel for DLake's new track and album - Producer Rapper DJ. Written and Directed by Jason Queue xQUED Productions

Where were all these Christians when the Jews were being exiled or murdered in Arab lands and Europe ? 

Or indeed Hindus and Buddhists suffering the same in Asian countries at the hands of Islamist extremists ?

Currently over 100,000 Syrian civilians have been killed while Muslim factions butcher each other. Not a word about them by the Prince. And let us not forget his Nazi sympathising Uncle who abdicated.

Christians of convenience such as good Prince Charles are no different to Prime Ministers who attend church for the TV cameras on a Sunday.

So what do they really do and achieve considering their higher status and privilege ?

They pontificate and impress many but show me the results of their speeches and I'll show you a true leader.>
My first thought is "Bullshit." Not that Christians are being killed, but being targeted. The people targeted are defenceless. When Amnesty International divert funds to defend terrorists like David Hicks, it is the defenceless who are victims. Prince Charles is late to the party. His grandfather, for political reasons, facilitated the slaughter of Jewish families so as to appease former Nazi allies. - ed

Murphy's Law.

Our fridge has died.

We now have now and between the 24th to buy and have delivered a newby.

The last fridge only lasted nine years. They are not made to last like they used to.

Luckily we have two smaller fridges as back up but no room for the 7 kilo turkey I ordered.

One is the beer and wine fridge we keep in the laundry. The other is in our son's granny flat better known in the neighbourhood by some worried mothers as " The Crack Shack ". He bought a fridge too. Our boy is growing up. His own beer and wine fridge but it's filled with bottles of chilled water damn it !

My question is this worth the sacrifice ? I hate warm beer.

Might have to buy some ice for the dairy too.

During times of hardship one can sustain under pressure knowing that matters can only improve.

But warm beer ? Talk about living on the precipice. Sheesh.

I suppose it's better though to have a warm beer instead of a cold woman.


Truly stunning 143.23ct Emerald cut emerald cabochon and diamond collar necklace 1932 and once belonged to the Countess of Granard.



Madu Odiokwu Pastorvin
The Nature Of Man.
The Scripture says,What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? Job 15:14-16 (KJV) Don't cross over with your iniquities

Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Daniel 2:48.For 3 billion people, the birth of Jesus is one of the most important celebrations of their entire year. In churches in every country on this planet, people gather to worship the child who became the Savior of the world. In many of those 3 billion homes, a family will have a little manger set up somewhere in their house. They’ll be a grouping of figurines with Mary and Joseph and Jesus, some angels, a few shepherds, and some wise men.As you reflect on the birth of our Lord Jesus,may you meditate on what He did on the Cross.It will be nice if you can renew your heart before you enter new year. Merry Christmas...








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IDF soldiers eliminated a terrorist in the Arab town of Kalkilya. The armed terrorist opened fire at an IDF unit that was attempting to apprehend another terrorist, and soldiers shot back, eliminating the shooter. Soldiers discovered several weapons and a large amount of ammunition on the terrorist's body. Arabs rioted as the soldiers attempted to arrest the suspect, firing handguns and throwing hand grenades. No soldiers were injured in the rioting or shooting.
On Wednesday, IDF troops eliminated a terrorist in Jenin and wounded five others as Arabs rioted when soldiers attempted to apprehend a terror suspect. The clashes broke out after Israeli special forces came under fire after being exposed in the course of an undercover operation to arrest local Hamas commander Jamal Abu al-Haija. No IDF soldiers were injured in that operation either.
Both Kalkilya and Jenin are located in western Samaria, adjacent to the 1948 armistice line. Both are in Area A, under Palestinian Authority civilian and security control. Besides arresting terrorists in Kalkilya and Jenin, IDF troops arrested eight other terror suspects. No security incidents were reported in the course of their apprehension. All suspects are being questioned by security officials Thursday.
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December 22Mother's Day in Indonesia
Chico Mendes




Holidays and observances[edit]

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charels Spurgeon


"Yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant."
2 Samuel 23:5
This covenant is divine in its origin. "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant." Oh that great word He ! Stop, my soul. God, the everlasting Father, has positively made a covenant with thee; yes, that God who spake the world into existence by a word; he, stooping from his majesty, takes hold of thy hand and makes a covenant with thee. Is it not a deed, the stupendous condescension of which might ravish our hearts forever if we could really understand it? "HE hath made with me a covenant." A king has not made a covenant with me--that were somewhat; but the Prince of the kings of the earth, Shaddai, the Lord All-sufficient, the Jehovah of ages, the everlasting Elohim, "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant." But notice, it is particular in its application. "Yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant." Here lies the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nought for me that he made peace for the world; I want to know whether he made peace for me! It is little that he hath made a covenant, I want to know whether he has made a covenant with me. Blessed is the assurance that he hath made a covenant with me! If God the Holy Ghost gives me assurance of this, then his salvation is mine, his heart is mine, he himself is mine--he is my God.
This covenant is everlasting in its duration. An everlasting covenant means a covenant which had no beginning, and which shall never, never end. How sweet amidst all the uncertainties of life, to know that "the foundation of the Lord standeth sure," and to have God's own promise, "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." Like dying David, I will sing of this, even though my house be not so with God as my heart desireth.


"I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk."
Ezekiel 16:10
See with what matchless generosity the Lord provides for his people's apparel. They are so arrayed that the divine skill is seen producing an unrivalled broidered work, in which every attribute takes its part and every divine beauty is revealed. No art like the art displayed in our salvation, no cunning workmanship like that beheld in the righteousness of the saints. Justification has engrossed learned pens in all ages of the church, and will be the theme of admiration in eternity. God has indeed "curiously wrought it." With all this elaboration there is mingled utility and durability, comparable to our being shod with badgers' skins. The animal here meant is unknown, but its skin covered the tabernacle, and formed one of the finest and strongest leathers known. The righteousness which is of God by faith endureth forever, and he who is shod with this divine preparation will tread the desert safely, and may even set his foot upon the lion and the adder. Purity and dignity of our holy vesture are brought out in the fine linen. When the Lord sanctifies his people, they are clad as priests in pure white; not the snow itself excels them; they are in the eyes of men and angels fair to look upon, and even in the Lord's eyes they are without spot. Meanwhile the royal apparel is delicate and rich as silk. No expense is spared, no beauty withheld, no daintiness denied.
What, then? Is there no inference from this? Surely there is gratitude to be felt and joy to be expressed. Come, my heart, refuse not thy evening hallelujah! Tune thy pipes! Touch thy chords!
"Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed
By the Great Sacred Three!
In sweetest harmony of praise
Let all thy powers agree."

Today's reading: Micah 4-5, Revelation 12 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Micah 4-5

The Mountain of the LORD
1 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
5 All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD
our God for ever and ever....

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 12

The Woman and the Dragon
1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days....

Each Wednesday in Advent, we read a passage from the Bible and consider what early church writers had to say about it.

Opening prayer

Open our hearts, O Lord, and enlighten us by the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may seek what is well-pleasing to your will; and so order our doings after your commandments that we may be found meet to enter your unending joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord. --Bede

Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-25
(read on Bible Gateway)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Reflections from the church fathers

The Simple Mystery of the Conception (Chrysostom): Do not speculate beyond the text. Do not require of it something more than what it simply says. Do not ask, "But precisely how was it that the Spirit accomplished this in a virgin?" For even when nature is at work, it is impossible fully to explain the manner of the formation of the person. How then when the spirit is accomplishing miracles, shall we be able to express their precise causes? The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 4.3

The Mystery of His Divinity (Anonymous): But in explaining that his birth happened in a way quite beyond human nature, he reveals the mystery of his divinity. It was not fitting that the only Son of God should be born in the human way. For he was born not for himself but for humanity. He was indeed born into flesh that would undergo corruption. But Christ was born in order to heal corruption itself.... Note that Mary was betrothed to a carpenter. Christ, betrothed to the church, was about to fashion for humanity salvation in its entirety and his entire work from the wood of the cross.Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 1

His Corporeal Birth and His Humanity (Chromatius of Aquileia): John, however, addresses the issue of Jesus' divine birth in the preface to his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. This was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him and without him nothing was made." The Evangelists help us to recognize both the divine and corporeal birth of the Lord, which they describe as a twofold mystery and a kind of double path. Indeed, both the divine and the bodily birth of the Lord are indescribable, but that from the Father vastly exceeds every means of description and wonder. The bodily birth of Christ was in time; his divine birth was before time. The one in this age, the other before the ages. The one from a virgin mother, the other from God the Father. Angels and men stood as witnesses at the corporeal birth of the Lord, yet at his divine birth there was not witness except the Father and the Son, because nothing existed before the Father and the Son. But because the Word could not be seen as God in the glory of his own divinity, he assumed flesh to demonstrate his invisible divinity. He took from us what is ours in order to give generously what is his. Tractate on Matthew 2.1

Not by Chance (Anonymous): "Now all this came to pass." What is meant by "all"? That the virgin would marry her kinsman, that she would be preserved chaste, that the angel would speak to Joseph in a dream that he would be instructed to accept her as his wife, that the boy would be called Jesus and that the Virgin would bring forth the Savior of the world. "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, saying, 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son.' Grace is witnessed through the prophets so that the Old and New Testaments may harmonize, grace may compensate for the weakness of the learned and what was predicted long ago might not seem to happen solely by chance.Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 1

Closing prayer

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says, "He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head." For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the Son of man, so that human beings might in their turn become children and heirs of God? Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace. --Augustine

Today's Advent reading is from 
Ancient Christian Devotional, edited by Oden and Crosby.

FRB-Christmas-Story-BookCover-SmallReading 16: Jesus, the Son of God, is Baptized

When John grew up, he traveled from place to place telling people that the Messiah was coming and that they should change their ways. He did this to prepare them for the Messiah. Then he baptized them in the river to show that their hearts were clean. One day, Jesus came to be baptized too.

Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Further Study
  1. What did John say to Jesus when Jesus came to be baptized? (v. 14)
  2. What happened when Jesus came out of the water? (v. 16)
  3. What did the voice from heaven say? (v. 17)
  1. Jesus never sinned. So why did the Holy Spirit need to come down on him?
  2. Why do you think it was important that God made this announcement?

The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of Jesus’ work on earth. The Holy Spirit came down to give him the power to do miracles and heal people, to teach, and to do all the other things he came to do. God called Jesus his Son, encouraging him and announcing to everyone that he was the Messiah.


3:13 The Jordan River runs north to south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The distance between the two seas is 65 miles, but the Jordan, because it winds its way south, is actually 135 miles long. Before modern times, the Jordan was about 100 feet wide and three to ten feet deep, except when heavy rains in winter and spring caused it to flood.


Family Reading BibleToday's reading is from:The Family Reading Bible 

Additional resources:

A Christmas Devotional


The word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. - John 1:14
Not only did the Son of God become a baby, but also he became flesh. Divinity joined to corporeal muscle, blood and bones. In this humbling of the eternal Son of God, the Word who was with God from the beginning and was God, chose to begin in the way all flesh does-as a newborn.
But what does "flesh" really mean? Doesn't it sound a bit crass?
In the Bible, the word "flesh" points to a number of different realities. Literally, it means "the body," the tissues and bones and fluids that are common to any human being living anywhere in the world at any time. The body is the jar of clay in which God has placed treasures. Consequently, at another level, "flesh" can mean "humanity" or "human nature." To speak of "flesh and blood" refers to the humanness that you share with your family, friends, and people you've never met. And at a different level, "flesh" can mean "fallen, flawed, human." "The flesh" is shorthand in Paul's epistles for intrinsic human nature-broken and fallible. But there is one exception. One human life that was not flawed and full of sin-Jesus'.
"The word became flesh." It means that the Son of God became human-really, truly human-with the exception that he had no sin. Christmas is a time of awe because the best news the human race ever received was that its Creator had so much love, that he joined the human race to save it. He is a savior who experienced real hunger, real fatigue, real sorrow. He faced temptation when the Evil One tempted him in the wilderness with very "fleshy" things like power, wealth, and authority (Luke 4:1-13).
Jesus knows us, because he was one of us. Real flesh, but perfect. So on those days when we are so disappointed with ourselves because we are having a hard time controlling the flesh, this is the kind of savior to turn to.
Prayer for today:
Lord, help me to hear "the Word" this Christmas. Help me to see you for who you are in all your glory. Thank you for humbling yourself.


About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

Late-Night Rendezvous: Nicodemus takes a risk

Today's reading: John 3
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John's Gospel tightens the camera angle, closing in on a few individual faces-a woman at a well, a blind man, a member of the Jewish ruling council-to compose an intimate, in-depth portrait of Jesus' impact on others.
Consider this conversation with Nicodemus, who comes to Jesus at night possibly in order to avoid detection. He risks his reputation and safety by meeting with Jesus, whom his fellow Pharisees have sworn to kill. But Nicodemus has some burning questions, the most important questions anyone could ask: Who are you, Jesus? Have you really come from God? Jesus responds with the image of a second birth, using words that have become some of the most familiar in the Bible.
One of Jesus' statements has probably been memorized more than any other in the Bible. In a few words it tells the story of salvation: God's love for the world, God's gift of his Son and the opportunity for anyone who believes to be saved (see John 3:16).
Keys to Life
Evidently some of Jesus' words to Nicodemus sink in, as his later behavior indicates.
John follows this conversation with a report from John the Baptist. People are questioning the radical prophet about the new teacher across the river who is drawing all the crowds. In words that echo Jesus' own, John confirms that Jesus holds the keys to eternal life. Jesus is indeed the one John has come to herald. A great prophet still in his prime, John nonetheless bows to Jesus: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).

Life Question

How would you explain the term "born again" to someone who has never heard it?
Today's reading is from theNIV Student Bible
by Zondervan

A proven, common sense approach to studying the Scriptures appeals to high school and college readers (and students of all ages).


At Issue - Prayer

If someone called and said that you'd just won a million dollars, what would your first response be? "Wow, thanks! I'll expect it in my bank account today!" Not likely. Usually when we hear outrageous promises, our cynicism kicks into high gear. This is a natural response to most situations, except one-prayer. See, when God makes exorbitant promises (like answering our prayers of faith), he actually means what he says. He's a real "you've just won the jackpot!" kind of God. When you truly believe this, your response to prayer will be like Hannah's. You'll drop your suspicions because you expect God to answer for your good.

True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan

The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
Abiezer [Ābĭē'zûr]—father of help orin help.
  1. The son of Hammoleketh, who was the sister of Machir and daughter of Manasseh. Gideon belonged to this family (Josh. 17:2Judg. 6:111 Chron. 7:18). Perhaps the same as Jeezer (Num. 26:30).
  2. An Anethothite, one of David’s thirty-seven chief heroes, who had command of the army during the ninth month (2 Sam. 23:271 Chron. 11:2827:12). Also the name of a district (Judg. 6:34).
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December 21, 2011
Silent NightSharon Jaynes
Today's TruthFor to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Christmas Day. I imagine if you're like most of us, you are still scurrying about with last minute Christmas preparations. What do you think the angels were doing on that first Christmas Eve? Do you think the heavenly host had one last choir practice before their concert on the hillside? Do you think God was making sure that everyone was in their proper places on the kingdom stage before the curtain rose to begin the grandest drama of all time? Do you think the Holy Spirit was hovering low over the entire world, stirring the hearts of men and women to receive the greatest gift of all?
I'm not sure what was happening in the heavenly realm the night before Jesus was born. But I do know that my heart is full of joy knowing that tomorrow we celebrate Jesus' birth once again.
Perhaps you have sung the words to Christmas carols hundreds of times in your life. But today, I encourage you to pause and read the words to one of my favorites as if you are seeing them for the first time. Read slowly. Ponder the words. "Glories stream from heaven afar"...picture it. "With the dawn of redeeming grace"...savor it. "Christ the Savior is born"...celebrate it.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright
'Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, My heart quietly waits in anticipation of the grand celebration that tomorrow brings. Thank you for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for redeeming grace.
In Jesus' Name,
The Girlfriends in God, Mary, Sharon, and Gwen, pray that you will have a joy-filled Christmas Day celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We love you!
Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Samantha Reed
December 21, 2011
All by Myself
Samantha Reed
"My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted." Psalm 25:15-16 (NIV)
Don't look his way, my heart and mind insist.
I don't want to look. Then again, I do. Though I did not check the "Plus One" box on my RSVP card, I wish I had. I wish I hadn't come alone. Maybe then I wouldn't gravitate to him.
He's reckless and destructive. I know better, but he's the only one who can relate to me. Even so, I avoid eye contact; I must trick him to believe she doesn't need me anymore.
I succeed, until another joined-at-the-hip couple walks into the holiday party. My resolve walks out. He walks up to me, extends a knowing hand. Fingers entwine, I fall in his snare. My stomach lurches. I hate him. I hate Loneliness.
I hate feeling alone and attending life all by myself.
We float from couple to couple. Each marriage, baby, holiday, life-is-grand story runs together like mud. The mud Loneliness slings my way: You'll never have this. You'll be lonely forever.
I can't look at their joy. Instead I turn my eyes to him as I mutter repeatedly through my clinched jaw and cinched heart: Do. Not. Cry.
A deep breath holds back the lonely tears, the lonely years, the lonely fears.
His cruelty seeps in my pores as we make our way from conversation to conversation. Christmas carols in the background promise it's the best time of the year and tell tales of sleigh rides taken with loved ones. Lovely sentiments, but they make me feel even more alone in a crowded room. How can two hours feel like thirty years?
By the time the clock chimes an acceptable hour to bid my goodbyes, I'm eager to be gone. One step out the door and I lower my guard too soon. Loneliness has saved his best for last. Powerfully, he beats me down with lies until I believe: I will always be all-by-myself.
Then Loneliness walks off; leaves me there, ironically, alone.
Compassionately, a different hand reaches down. One that is gentle and healing. Let me help you up. Rough night, huh?
I look up to see His scared hand extended. How'd You know I was here?
He tells me He's been there the whole time, always near. And even though He knows, He asks for details, dreams, despairs. We talk until I can hear His assurances over the barrage of Loneliness' discouragement.
Hollow parts of my heart fill with the lavish warmth of Jesus' courage. Truth soldiers through my thoughts, throwing shields up against the deception. And I know Loneliness can't be my "Plus One" - my go-to guy. I need to rely on my Only One - my Always Near.
It's time to break-up with Loneliness for good. Not just at parties, during holidays or weekends with nothing planned. Because truth is, Loneliness also courts my friends who are married, have children and all that I long for. Loneliness tags along whether alone or surrounded by family and friends, on special days and ordinary days.
There's only one way to keep Loneliness from being a constant companion in life. I must fix my eyes "ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare" of feeling alone. I need to invite Him to attend the lonely times with me, and hold my hand, keeping me company with the truth that He is always by my side.
And the next party I'm invited to? I won't go all by myself. Instead I'll invite the Lord as my "Plus One."
Dear Lord, my eyes are ever on You, for only You will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do you long to know you're not alone in your struggles and feelings? If so, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope is just the book for you! Chapter by chapter, Renee offers the voice of a friend who will take your hand and help you walk out of the shadows of discouragement into the security of God's love!
Visit Samantha's blog where she's giving away a set of A Confident Heart Conference Calls that are part of Renee Swope's upcoming A Confident Heart online study coming in January.
Application Steps:
The next time you start feeling lonely, pray this prayer:"My eyes are ever on You LORD, for only You will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish." Psalm 25:15-17(NIV)
A teardrop on earth summons the King of Heaven.~Charles Swindoll
Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 31:8, "'The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.'" (NIV 1984)
Lamentations 3:22-26, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." (NIV 1984)
© 2011 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

A Rich Man Buries a Poor Man

Matthew 27:57-61 "Joseph took the body...and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away" ( vv. 59-60).
Mary Magdalene and the other women are not the only ones who show faithfulness to Jesus in His death (Matt. 27:55-56). Today's passage tells us about Joseph, "a disciple of Jesus," who is responsible for His burial (vv. 57-60 ). Joseph is from Arimathea, known in the Old Testament as Ramathaim-zophim, a town twenty-two miles northwest of Jerusalem where the prophet Samuel was born (1 Sam. 1:1-20). This Arimathean has secretly followed Christ (John 19:38), probably because Joseph's seat on the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43 ) would be in jeopardy if the other council members found him out. Since Joseph sits on the Sanhedrin, we know that not all the religious leaders reject Jesus completely. The reverent acts of Joseph and the Pharisee Nicodemus, who helps Joseph provide Jesus with a proper burial, (Matt. 27:57-61John 3:1-2119:38-42 ) show that the Jewish clergy at the time do not universally oppose our Lord.
Joseph needs all the help he can get because he must take Jesus down from the cross, wash His body, anoint Him for burial, and finally place His body in the grave. He and Nicodemus only have a three-hour window in which to accomplish this work; Jesus died at the ninth hour (Matt. 27:45-50 ) and all work must stop when the Sabbath begins at the twelfth hour. Because he is a rich man, Joseph likely has servants who are helping in the process, although even with this help there will remain more work to be done, which is why the women return to His tomb on the first day of the week (Mark 16:1). That Jesus is buried in a rich man's tomb is yet another fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 53:9).
Jesus' fellow Israelites consider it especially charitable to provide a proper burial for someone who might not otherwise get one. No doubt this fact motivates Joseph of Arimathea; however, he is not merely doing a good deed. In coming forward to bury Jesus, Joseph identifies himself as a disciple of Christ and risks the Sanhedrin's fury. After years of following Jesus behind closed doors, Joseph makes his true allegiance known. The church father John Chrysostom exhorts us to likewise follow Jesus even if doing so might bring shame upon us (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol. 10, p. 522).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Besides Joseph of Arimathea's faithfulness in our Lord's burial, note that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph are also present when Jesus is laid to rest (Matt. 27:5661). Matthew Henry writes, "True love for Christ will carry us through to the utmost, in following him. Death itself cannot quench that divine fire." Pray today that your fervor for Jesus would increase and that neither shame nor fear would keep you from following Him.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 


A Rich Man Buries a Poor Man

Besides Joseph of Arimathea's faithfulness in our Lord's burial, note that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph are also present when Jesus is laid to rest ( Matt. 27:5661). Matthew Henry writes, "True love for Christ will carry us through to the utmost, in following him. Death itself cannot quench that divine fire." Pray today that your fervor for Jesus would increase and that neither shame nor fear would keep you from following Him.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 
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