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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Christmas Story

I like the Christmas story as it is recounted in the King James Version of the Bible, which is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. For your convenience, it is reproduced here with the help of the fine folk at Bible Gateway.

A special Christmas song is also found at the end of the Bible reading.

God bless you and yours this Christmas. And may your holidays be filled with the joy, hope, and peace of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Luke 2

King James Version (KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Here is a real treat, a rare video of the Cathedral Quartet singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" a capella. A wonderful Christmas song. And keep watching, because after that they do their famous a capella rendition of "Wonderful Grace of Jesus."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why You Should Not Worry About Doomsday Predictions for Friday

As Christians it is important to exercise discernment in all things. One area of utmost importance in this regard is the tendency among many to make outlandish predictions about the end of the world, such as the current hoop-la over the Mayan calendar's indication that Dec. 21, 2012 is the end of the time cycle.

In order to make this complicated subject easy to understand, I decided to break this down into sections that are straightforward and simple to follow.

1. Jesus warned against predicting when the end of the world will be. "No man knows the day or the hour," said Jesus. The very fact that Dec. 21 is pinpointed as "THE day" is enough reason in and of itself to dismiss it. It is FALSE.

2. Jesus stated that many "false prophets" will come along claiming they know about these things. He told us not to believe them.

3. The Mayan calendar has nothing to do with Christianity or Judaism, the religion of the ancient Hebrews. Thus, if there are any Mayan "predictions," they are incompatible with Christianity.

4. Modern Mayans say that the calendar is not about predicting the end of time but about describing cycles of time which lead into other cycles. When one cycle ends, another begins. The ancient Mayans simply believed that Dec. 21, 2012 represents the end of one large cycle...NOT the fact that the end of the cycle means disaster or calamity.

5. Jesus taught that for unbelievers the end of the world will come with the element of surprise. Thus, if thousands or millions of unbelievers are expecting the end of the world, you can pretty much bet on the fact that it is not true.

6. The exception to Number 5 above is in the event of a cosmic natural disaster, such as an asteroid, a comet, or some other astronomical event that can be predicted in advance.

7. For Christians, things that only God can know are best left to God. What good does it do us to delve into endless, obsessive speculation about these things? None whatsoever.

So, that's about it. Stop worrying about tomorrow, and celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas to You

Here at Martin Christian Ministries, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for visiting these pages.

My special gift to you for Christmas is one of my favorite selections from Handel's Messiah titled, "For Unto Us a Child Is Born."

This rendition is a real treat. The great maestro, Eugene Ormandy, who directed the famed Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly 50 years, teams up with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to present this masterpiece.

I wish I had a live video of the great "little maestro" as he was called, directing this piece. Ormandy was one of a kind, a brilliant musician and conductor, and  magnificently inspiring as he led the orchestra, drawing out from the musicians the very best that could be expected, leading the world to dub what he accomplished as "the Philadelphia sound."

That sound was Ormandy's belief that an orchestra should place the emphasis on the mellow woodwinds and violins, violas, and cellos, as opposed to what most orchestras were doing by emphasizing brass. Ormandy used brass, of course, but he believed that in a good orchestra, that shrill sound should be subservient to the more mellow tones produced by other instruments.

The result was a distinct style that placed the Philadelphia Orchestra in a category all its own.

I admit I loved Ormandy and the sound he got from the Philly Orchestra. In my mind, there was none better, and nothing today even comes close to approaching the near-perfection of that style and sound.

And of course, it gets no better than Handel's Messiah, and the Mormon Choir performs it admirably.

The message in this selection is what Christmas is all about. Enjoy. And God bless!

(Note: click on this YouTube link if you cannot view below).