Sunday, December 25, 2011

Please pardon my mess hopefully Onesimus is moving to here;
hopefully Onesimus
image source; construction worker

Sunday, December 18, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13/NKJV)

     H owever Della's frugality and grit are not all we see with this introduction. We also begin to see some of her daily devotion and the daily giving of her own life that was mentioned in my previous post about this story. Furthermore, if we continue on we see the importance of this modest sum of money; "One dollar and eighty-seven cents." and we understand Della's response to it;
"There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. "
                                                                                       The Gift of the Magi
     A fter all, "...the next day would be Christmas", and what could be more disheartening then to have worked so hard to be able to provide something special for someone we truly love and fall short of obtaining that goal? It is in her response that we see a hint of what is clearly mentioned later;
"Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim."                                                                                        The Gift of the Magi
     I t is in this little snippet we see the love and honor Della has for Jim, we see there is joy not in something for herself, but in something for the one she loves; "Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him.". We see the value she has placed on Jim as it is something she feels needs to be worthy of him; "Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim." We begin to see the delight of Della as she sees the happiness and surprise on Jim's face as she thinks of the moment when he is presented with her expressions of love and devotion. Again, we truly see daily devotion and the daily giving of life.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,...So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself...Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:25,28,33/NKJV)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther
*NOTE; for other short stories by O. Henry go here

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
The Gift of The Magi (bookcover)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. (Luke 2:13.14/NKJV)

     L ast year at Christmas as I was looking for something to blog about I briefly discussed some literature and its redemptive qualities (see also here, here and here).  This year I hope to do the same and, I think it is obvious from the picture above, one piece of literature I hope to blog about is The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry*.  I must confess that all I know about O. Henry is simply this; he was an American and his real name was William Sydney Porter.  So I do apologize for my lack of biographical knowledge.  I honestly have no idea whether his life was one spent in the debaucheries of sin or in the enlightenment of saintliness.  The apostle Paul wisely said, "...ask nothing for conscience sake." and so (in the case of O. Henry's bio) I will follow that advise.
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13/NKJV)

     Y et whether Mr. Porter, aka O. Henry, was a "sinner" or a "saint" we cannot deny the humanity and stark truth which we are confronted with in his story The Gift of the Magi.  I quote John 15 above not because someone in the story gives their life, at least not in the literal sense.  However, we must remember there are other ways of giving ones life.  It is this "other way" that we get a glimpse of in O. Henry's brief (there are only 2163 words in the story) tale.  It is not only in their large but also in their small actions that we see both Jim and Della (O. Henry's characters in the story) would be more then willing to give that "...last full measure of devotion..." which Abrahan Lincoln so highly honors in his Gettysburg Address.  It is the daily devotion, the daily giving of one's own life that we see in both the characters, and if we are honest we would say daily devotion and daily giving of one's own life can often be more difficult than that ultimate sacrifice.
     S o what specifically in this vignette reflects shared sacrifice and the pleasure of giving, i.e. other then Della's obvious sacrifice of her hair and Jim's obvious sacrifice of his watch, what do we see?  The answer to this immediately begins with O. Henry's introduction of Della at start of the whole story;
"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas."
                                                                                       The Gift of the Magi
In this succinct paragraph O. Henry not only shows us Della's dilemma, but part of her character. We see that Della is frugal and has some grit; "Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony..."

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther
*NOTE; for other short stories by O. Henry go here

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
The Gift of The Magi (bookcover)

Sunday, December 04, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

Luke 1 & 2
(New King James Bible)

Chapter 1
Dedication to Theophilus

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us,
2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us,
3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,
4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

John's Birth Announced to Zacharias

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,
9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.
22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.
24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,
25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Christ's Birth Announced to Mary

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,
40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:“ My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.
58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Circumcision of John The Baptist

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.
60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.”
62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled.
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.
65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.
66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zacharias' Prophecy

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Chapter 2
Christ Born to Mary

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Circumsion of Jesus

21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”),
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Simeon Sees God's Salvation

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against
35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

The Family Returns to Nazareth

39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;
44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Jesus Advances in Wisdom and Favor

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

"Simul iustus et peccator. "*
*Martin Luther

image re-design;
bleu elle
original image source idea;
bible passage source;
Bible Gateway

Friday, December 02, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   S o who or what are you a slave to?
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." (Galatians 4:7/NASB)

"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14/NASB)

   O nce a month I re-post this so anyone reading will understand the purposes for creating this blog.  So, before I do anything else please allow me to explain the main purpose of this blog and particularly these posts, i.e. the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2/NKJV)

The Bad News First -  (In the Shackles of Sin)
   A gain I ask; who or what are you a slave to?
"Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever',..." (John 8:34, 35a/NKJV)

   Y ou are not alone, the truth is we all have sinned and consequently will not get to be with God,
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,..." (Romans 3:23/NASB)

   W e are all weighed down by those things which seperate us from God, continually bring spiritual death in our lives, and inevitably destine us to hell;
"For the wages of sin is death,..." (Romans 6:23/NASB)

Now the Good News - (Get Out of the Shackles It's Time to G.O.)
   G od freely provided a way for us to be with Him;
"...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23/NASB)

   G od loves us so much He sent His son Jesus to pay the price;
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8/NASB)

   G od provided Someone who can and will set you free. All you have to do is turn to Him, acknowledge your need and ask Him to forgive you;
"...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;..." (Romans 10:9/NASB)

   O nce we have turned to Christ, confessed our sins, and need for forgiveness to Him we have peace with God;
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,..." (Romans 5:1/NASB)

   O nce we have done so we have the ability (through Christ) to overcome sin in our lives
"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14/NASB)

   O nce we make the choice to follow Christ we are heirs with Him;
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." (Galatians 4:7/NASB)

   S o, again I ask; who or what are you a slave to?   I (and millions of others) know Someone who can set you free.  If you truly want to be set free then all you have to do is turn to Him (Jesus).

Royal Gifts
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21/NKJV)

   I n my previous post we began discussing practical ways to help us live for Christ;
  1. weekly church attendance
  2. daily prayer
  3. daily Bible reading
  A t this point I would like to pause and discuss the reason why we do these, I will be brief, we have been given some phenomenal gifts;
  1. God willing gave His one and only begotten son (Jesus) so we could have eternal life.
  2. Jesus willing gave His life on the cross (suffering all the things we should have) to pay the debt we owe.
  3. The Holy Spirit is freely given and willingly comes to dwell within us so once we are saved we can live for Christ.
   N ote - while my salvation is not contingent upon my works, i.e. I am saved solely by what Christ did for me, no good works of mine can get me to heaven.  That does not negate the fact of what Christ said;
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them..." (Matthew 7:24/NKJV)
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them..." (Luke 6: 46,47/NKJV)
"If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15/NKJV)

   O ther parts of the New Testament plainly state the importance of living for Christ;
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,..." (Hebrews 10:24/NKJV)
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22/NKJV)
"But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18/NKJV)

   F urthemore, Romans shows the end results if we are not thankful and do not glorify God in/with our lives;
"...because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21/NKJV)

   T he fact is if we are truly Christians then we will want to give back to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit because of all that has been given to us,  This is called gratitude, or as scripture puts it, thankfulness.  The only thing that even comes close to what has been given to us is our very lives.  So as Christians we want to live for Him.  Out of gratitude we daily offer our lives (and everything in them) to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13: 15/NKJV)

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Get Out of the Shackles - wallpaper