“Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed him to the cross. Two other were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.” John 19:16-19 NLT
Beautiful dogwood trees are blooming this time of the year. Some are covered with white blossoms and some with pink. The tree blooms in spring about Easter time when the Christian world turns to thoughts centered on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. A poignant legend links the pretty blooming tree with the crucifixion of Jesus.
At the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of a mighty oak tree. The wood was strong and firm, so it was chosen as timber for Jesus’ cross.
To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the dogwood. While nailed upon the tree Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said. “Because of your pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross–two long and two short petals.”
In the center of the outer edge on each petal is the print of nails. In the center of the flower, stained with blood, is a crown of thorns, so that all who see it will remember.
Following is a memoriam from Franklin Gaham, Samaritans’ Purse Ministry, to his father, Reverend Billy Graham. We lost a great man today—a man of prayer who was always faithful to the ministry of the Lord. He proclaimed the gospel message to people around the world and led multitudes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m praying the Lord will raise up another preacher of His message who will be as faithful.
My father, Billy Graham, went into the presence of the Lord on February 21, 2018.
The Bible tells us in Revelation 14:13: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (NKJV).
Many have said that his death ends an era, but he would be the first to say that when God’s ambassadors die in Christ, the Lord raises up others, because the preaching of the Gospel will go forward until the end of the age. God’s blessing continues as He opens doors for the Gospel around the world. BGEA remains committed to preach the Word in season and out of season across the globe.
My siblings and I would appreciate your prayers in the days ahead as we honor a man who served the Lord with his life, loved his family, and was always grateful for God’s faithful people who supported him in the work of the ministry in Jesus’ Name.
As we lay to rest this very public ambassador, please pray with us that the testimony he leaves behind will touch many lives and point them to salvation in Jesus Christ. My father’s journey of faith on earth has ended. He has been reunited with my mother and has stepped into the eternal joy of Heaven in the presence of his Savior, in whom he placed his hope.
If you would like to know more about my father’s life, share a memory, or read public visitation details, please visit BillyGraham.org.
God bless you, and thank you for your prayers for our family and the staff of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Happy New Year
I am republishing this post from last year, because my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 are the same as the those for 2017.
Resolutions for 2018
1. Seek the Lord’s perfect will for my life.
2. Be content in the life He gives me and live it to the best of my ability.
3. Serve Him by serving others.
4. Spread the light of God’s Word to a dark world through ministry and writing.
6. Send Bibles and literature to pastors in the United States and overseas.
5. Write two historical fiction books.
6. Publish two books.
But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” (1 Chronicles 21:24)
The ministry continues to send Bibles and literature to pastors overseas. One pastor lives in Peru and is anxious to receive Spanish Bibles. Brother Jaime Frias ministers to patients and staff in the local hospital and has led many to salvation in Jesus.
The literature goes to Book Link, a ministry that sends Christian literature and Bibles to missionaries.
I am in the process of writing an inspirational historical novella set in 16th century Scotland. Hopefully, the present book will be finished and another set in the American post-Civil War period completed.
Learning to write historical fiction is a journey within itself. So many factors and variables must be considered in plotting, characterization, point of view, grammar and punctuation to name a few. And then the story must be historically accurate, so extensive research is necessary.
I ask myself the same question each day. “Is all this worth the time and effort?” A still small voice answers deep within my spirit, “Yes. I have a message for you to tell. Your work is an offering to me and you should give me nothing that does not cost you something.”
What are you giving to the Lord? Is your offering costing you something? He commands we give Him our best without spot or blemish. I cannot do less than I am doing. I must give Him my all.
His Unfailing Presence (author unknown)
Another year I enter, its history unknown; Oh, how my feet would tremble to tread its paths alone! But I have heard God’s whisper. I know I shall be blest, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
What will the New Year bring me? I may not, must not know. Will it be love and rapture, or loneliness and woe? Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper. I surely shall be blest. “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
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.
Written by Joseph Mohr, arranged by Franz Gruber
The beautiful hymn has blessed the hearts of people at Christmastime since Father Joseph Mohr first wrote the lovely song.
December 24, 1818: Father Joseph Mohr first performed his song Silent Night 198 years ago today. Nearly a century later, in 1914, German soldiers on the Western Front sang the song from the trenches and were joined by their British opponents. ~ Goodreads
On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 35 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914?
Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, in a document later rounded up by the New York Times. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail.
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”*
Certainly Silent Night was one of the carols sung by the troops on that Christmas Eve in 1914, bringing joy and peace to the war-torn, weary soldiers.
Bethabara Faith Ministry sends Christmas Greetings to all our friends and neighbors. We wish you peace and joy through the holiday season and blessings for the New Year.
*Taken from Times Magazine online.
By Brenda B Taylor
Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. Psalm 100:4
November is a beautiful month in East Texas. The trees begin to sport their fall colors in full. Autumn comes to our area a month later than in the northern states. Thanksgiving is a colorful time. Many years we have gone to our camp and spent Thanksgiving with our family in the pretty woods near Lake Sam Rayburn. The day holds promises of good food, too much to eat, watching parades on television, and great fellowship. It will be a good day, and I will praise the Lord for His many blessings in my life.
The Psalmist said when you praise God, giving thanks to Him for His goodness, you enter His gates and are ushered into His presence. What a wonderful place to be, in the presence of God. He listens to the praise of His people and you bless Him. Blessing means to make happy. Praising God is something you do for Him out of the fullness of your heart, because He has blessed you.
Praise is a sacrifice to God. It is a sweet aroma in His holy nostrils. The ancient Jews burned incense on the temple altar daily. The incense was made from a specific formula given to Moses by God. The sweet odor traveled heavenward, reaching the very presence of the Lord. Knowing His children were obediently carrying out His command pleased God. Their obedience meant they were thinking about Him. God is blessed by your praise, because you are obedient, and He is taking first place in your thoughts and mind. He tells you to praise Him and be thankful in all circumstances.
Revelation 5:8 says your prayers are incense offered to God. He keeps them close and is reminded of your petitions, answering each request in His own time and way. Your prayers never leave His presence. They are a sweet aroma that He loves. Praise is a type of prayer we offer to our Lord. Thanksgiving is a type of praise. Be thankful and praise Him in all circumstances of life, because He is there with you, keeping you close and listening to your prayers. Hold tightly.
Cornbread Dressing With Chicken
3 packages of cornbread mix, prepared as directed
3 chicken breasts, boiled and chopped
3 cups chicken broth from the boiled breasts or from a can
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 bunch green onion, chopped
½ package Pepperidge Farms Cornbread Stuffing
4 large eggs, boiled and chopped
4 slices of white bread, toasted, cooled, crumbled
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sage to taste
Preheat oven to 3500.
Prepare cornbread mix as directed. When cool, crumble in a large pan along with toasted bread. Add seasonings and mix well.
Sauté celery and onions together in a small amount of oil, and then add to mixture.
Add chopped eggs, chopped chicken, and then chicken broth. More broth may be added to make a moist mixture. Mix well.
Spray a 9*12 baking pan or large casserole dish with cooking spray. Put dressing mixture in the pan and bake at 3500 until top is brown – about ½ hour.
Dressing may be frozen until needed.
May be served with baked turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, or with a salad and green peas and rolls for another meal.
Praise the Lord for all He’s done this Thanksgiving.
We recently celebrated Veterans’ Day, a special time set aside to remember those who fought for our country. So many have given their time, talent, and all defending the freedoms we hold so dear. Freedom is not free. This time of remembrance brings us to a closer understanding of what the Savior experienced when he purchased our freedom with his life.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NLT)
The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short-haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s, but he has never collected unemployment either.
He’s a recent high school graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten-year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life – or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat, and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to’ square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.
Just as did his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.
He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.
And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to war when our nation calls us to do so. As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot… A short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.
When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground troops, sailors on ships, and airmen in the air, and for those in Iraq, Afghanistan and all foreign countries.
Of all the gifts you could give an US Soldier, Sailor, Coastguardsman, Marine, or Airman, prayer is the very best one.
By Chuck Pace
Psalm 25:13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
15 Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
NLT: 13 They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
Have you ever considered yourself as rich? Oh, I’m not at all talking about owning a bunch of junk on this earth. I’m talking about as a Christian we have a wonderful, unbelievable inheritance waiting for us which will be everlasting, eternal and forever.
No matter the circumstances, no matter the lack of things on this earth, God is a friend who will never let you down as you reverence Him and follow His Word for guidance.
Keep your eyes on the Lord as we worship Him today.
by Brenda B. Taylor
I spent the first week of September watching the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and surrounding areas on television. Several of my relatives were caught in the throws of Harvey’s destructive rains. My brother had four feet of toxic flood water in his home. Every home in his neighborhood was flooded.
I traveled to Spring, Texas and stayed with my son while I helped my brother in Kingwood salvage whatever he could rescue. Not much could be saved—only those items made of metal or no-porous materials. My niece and I washed the items in disinfecting water with bleach, rinsed and dried, and placed them in containers to be stored for the home when all is renewed. All the while my heart was breaking for the victims of the devastating flood in the Houston area.
Images of homes with the owners’ ruined possessions piled high along curbs waiting for the FEMA garbage truck to take them are imprinted on my mind. I am reminded how short and fleeting life is. We should make the most of each moment and never miss an opportunity to say, “I love you,” or give someone a big hug.
Jesus loves us and when he walked the earth, reminded us often just how much. The scriptures are full of His ‘love’ sayings. He knew the brevity of time and how important expressing our love and appreciation was to others. Some of us aren’t all that loveable, either, but He loves in spite of our shortcomings.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
“for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.” John 16:27 NLT
I witness the depth of caring people express for those who are hurting as I watched the ones who spent their time, resources, and efforts rescuing victims of the storm. Stories abound about the rescues and saving lives.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT
Although the storm raged, peace could be found in Jesus. He was with us through the storm.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I recently traveled to Ireland, and one place in particular I had on my agenda for visiting was Trinity College, Dublin. The Treasury in the Long Room of Trinity Library contains, The Book of Kells. The Book of Kells, also known as The Book of Columba is a priceless illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It is the oldest Celtic manuscript in the world and has long been associated with St. Columba (c. 521 – 597 AD) who founded his principal monastery on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, in about 561 AD. The Book of Kells was probably produced early in the 9th century by the monks of Iona, working wholly or partially at Iona or at Kells, county Meath, Ireland. The monks moved to Ireland after 806 AD when Vikings attacked Iona and killed sixty-eight of their brothers. The Book of Kells was sent to Dublin around 1653 for reasons of security during the Cromwellan period. It came to Trinity College through the agency of Henry Jones, after he became bishop of Meath in 1661.
Over 1000 years ago, when The Book of Kells was written, Ireland had a population of less than a half million people living in fortified homesteads along its coasts and inland waterways. The Irish church was largely monastic in organization. Monks lived in communities devoted to the study of God’s word, fasts, and manual labor. The message of the life of Christ was spread primarily through gospel books, and scribes and artists who produced them held an honored place in Irish society. The monks of Ireland were instrumental in preserving the Bible during the European Dark Ages (c. 500 – 1000 AD), after the fall of Rome when Germanic tribes swept through western Europe and Africa destroying towns and villages.
Photos of The Book of Kells are not allowed, so the follow photographs are taken from the publication, The Book of Kells, an Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin, by Bernard Meehan and published by Thames & Hudson, 1994. Hover your mouse or pointer over the photos for a caption.