We Celebrate Christmas with grateful hearts to Yahweh, who sent His only son to Save us from our sinful inheritance of death and destruction, and give us a right to His Name and His Standing before the Creator and Judge of all. Thank you, Yeshua, Jesus, for blessing our world with your birth, your presence, your Truth, and your life.
By John Dehnart
Merry Daring Christmas Story
Shepherds met with friends and shook with awe and excitement as they recounted the blinding light , the thunderous voices of the angels, and the shock of meeting a secret newborn king hidden in a cave.
And for two thousand years, we have continued their tradition
to retell the daring story of the King of kings.
But how did those first few Christmases unfold?
The sun had set. The sheep had settled. It was time for the story. Although none of his fellow herdsmen would have thought of it as a story. It was an event, like the toppling of a government or the crowning of a king. King indeed... their King, had finally, finally come, and in a form so fragile that it was not just unexpected but... unthinkably absurd. The Creator of might and power taking on a task insurmountable by even the mightiest of men, and what army does He bring or what armor does he wear? Nobody and nothing. No, this wasn't a campfire tale or bedtime story or a holiday greeting card. This was the talk of their time. And it was fantastical, revolutionary, life-changing news.
"It's been a year," the old shepherd might have opened the discussion. To a stranger listening, an opening like that would have brought to mind the crime and chaos just 12 months back... the populous of an entire country being forced to travel and register to pay taxes to a king they despised. Tens of thousands of people required to the city of their father's birth to register to pay taxes and swear allegiance to Roman rule.
But to anyone who knew these weathered shepherds already knew what this story was about. These rough men were usually gone months at a time caring for the hundreds of sheep, but whenever they were in town, they recounted the details of that fateful night to everyone they knew -and many they didn't know! Local townsfolk and foreign travellers alike had been astonished at the men's eager story, and with all the travel, word would have spread quickly. Perhaps more quickly than the shepherds would have liked. King Herrod wasn't known for being reasonable with his inquiries, especially if they concerned a possible usurper to his throne. Did the shepherds still tell the story abroad, one year later? Or did excitement for the news of the coming King plateau against the rising fear of the present one?
Regardless... one year later still would have been a special night. A full calendar year from the event that had shaken these calloused herdsmen to their core, and to their knees, and sent them on a mission to find a baby King. A year later, wouldn't you have been out in that field again? Looking for that bright star that had lit the night? Listening for an Angel's swift wings cut through the cold night's winds? Recounting that awesome moment when all that you thought mattered suddenly didn't, except for single vibrant message of the Almighty announcing that He was coming, in person.
Yes, those shepherds kept talking. And nights beneath a field of stars could not have been looked upon in the same way again. That "2nd Christmas" would have been one of reflection, significance... and an underlying wonder and excitement that something amazing could happen again. That events were in motion to change the state of mankind and the course of history. And they --poor, lowly shepherds-- had been honored to see the precursor to a change in the universe between God and man. On that starlit, wondrous night, their wide eyes witnessed the beginning moments of a new baby that would save them from death itself.
"Under a strange sky in the dead of night in this very field..." the shepherd may have continued, telling about the brilliant light of fully armed winged warriors of the Almighty, the thunderous sound of their united voices shaking the hills, "Glory to Elohym in the Highest Heaven, and on earth..."
On earth... what? Would the Shepherds have had a moment to second-guess what the Angel was about to say? What was coming "to earth"? Was this the end? Was this the judgement? Was the Holy of Holiness, God of Justice, Commander of the Hosts of Heaven going to come to earth at that moment, at that time in history? When lives and integrities were stretched thin between the powers on the verge of war... What would that look like? GOD... on earth? Armies, hosts of Angels, swords aflame, coming to bring justice to mankind, who had convoluted the truth and corrupted the heart?
But the Angels continued, in unison, and perhaps, strangely, with joy.... "on earth, Peace. And God's favor towards men."
No doubt, shepherds must have had some great storytellers amongst them. But even a great storyteller would have been at a loss to recount something so fantastic. No, this event was treated like news, not stories. Hushed news around the romans. Whispered news behind the priests, but life-changing, revolutionary news like nothing the shepherds had ever heard. GOD had come, and was someone, somewhere, celebrating his first birthday on earth.
But that yearly tradition couldn't stop there. The next year, they surely spoke again of that awesome night's events. Perhaps fewer shepherds or less excitement... maybe more fear or more focus on tending to sheep, which were reserved for Jerusalem's temple sacrifices. But there was still talk on that night.
Perhaps some of them thought about what the angels had said in unison... God's favor on men, sent to earth, or maybe they thought on the promise given to Abraham, Patriarch of all Jews... "...and through your family line, will all families of the earth be blessed." Blessed. The favor and good-will of God to a mere man, or to all of mankind.
Think of the mindset of God that these men had at that point in history. When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, mankind had LOST the continual presence and favor of God. Sin had separated them from the GOOD hope and good future God had planned for them. That's why promises given through the prophets were so vital, so essential and so precious to any heart that dared to hope that God's favor would someday be restored.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
In their time... the "end" was an expectation. Reminders of God's holiness, justice, judgement and consequence were continually refreshed in the mind of a Jew through the traditions of sacrifice and the steely finality of the words of the law of God that every free-willed human on the planet had broken a thousand times over. And who would know this more deeply than the men charged with caring for the lambs of sacrifice for the Jerusalem temple. The most perfect of every flock, brought as penance and payment for the sins of men, killed and bled out on the altar as a reminder of the cost of our sin. Death, for them, was a fact of life.
If the shepherds knew the prophecies, -as many Jews did-, then perhaps they began to realize what would be required of the young baby king to restore the favor of God to mankind. This was not a happy story. This was a revolutionary, life-changing event that would unfold in the lifetime of a baby they saw two years ago in a stable.
And it was about this time, -Jesus' 2nd birthday- that the very first recorded Christmas gifts were given. Second only to the gift of Jesus himself, these three gifts have become known through history as the most famous Christmas gifts. The wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the home of the young new family. But Jesus wasn't the only one who received something special. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream with a message to flee to a foreign country to the West, because the king wanted Joseph's son dead. Joseph obeyed without hesitation, rose in the night, woke his family, and left immediately to Egypt.
Herrod's order earned him the title of the Butcher of Bethlehem, requiring Roman soldiers to execute every child under the age of two in Bethlehem and its coast lands. And in the fields near Bethlehem, perhaps near the time of the 3rd Christmas, Shepherds between Bethlehem and Ramallah, 16 miles away, could hear the terror of families under the blade of Herrod's rage.
A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel "Mother Sheep", weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Jeremiah 31:15
A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping;
Rahel "Mother Sheep", weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Jeremiah 31:15
Perhaps the shepherds knew this verse. Perhaps they recognized the Perfect Lamb of God, come to restore God's favor to mankind and fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, to fulfill the law. And what did the law require? The wages of sin is death, and to bring Christmas's greatest gift to us, God gave us His son, the Only Hope, Yeshua, whose name means "Salvation of Yahweh."
And we, today, live and die for that hope still. In present times, over 100,000 people are ANNUALLY murdered for their proclamation of the Truth of Jesus. Annually. Over the last twenty centuries, the story of a new King has brought His subjects persecution, strife, abuse, neglect, insult, threat, murder and massacre. But the retelling of The Story has brought them to Jesus, who came to give LIFE, and LIFE ABUNDANT, full and overflowing life that is the opposite of bored minds and idle hearts and empty existences. LIFE in Jesus, who He has saved from a universal consequence greater than Nero, Red China, Muslim Terrorists or corrupt rulers: the immutable Justice of a Holy God over the personal sin we have committed in our hearts, to raise our will above the Word of our Creator.
In a real sense, Jesus saves us from ourselves. Our hearts' rebellion against God has maimed us so bitterly that we can not even approach our holy and just God. But Jesus came to save, to heal, to redeem us into the presence of the Father. That HOPE and LIFE is what we celebrate every year, continuing the discussion and tradition started by humble shepherds two thousand years ago about the life-changing event, announced by the Angels. GOD is among us.
So, we wish you a Merry Christmas, with the courage and faithfulness shown through the centuries by Brave Followers of Christ who have dared to whisper the story... the King has come.
By John Dehnart
We are spirits. Seventeen of us, floating together like candle flames in an ocean of light. We listen to one another. Feel one another’s presence. We share the warmth of where we are. We giggle and laugh with joy. We are the best of friends, soaked in the presence of love. Our creator. Our Daddy’s warm, secure arms. He is our home; an ocean of light, swaying and surging, always present, always, surrounding us. He comes near and splashes us with ideas we’ve never thought… little inklings and wants, grand emotions larger than ourselves, stories about him, and his love.
We were escorted into His presence by two young men, a roman soldier, and an innkeeper’s wife. They had been given the honor of walking with us to the shore, because they gave their lives trying to protect ours, their blood mixed with ours on a Roman blade. We Seventeen had all been pushed from our warm cocoons of earthly life on the same dark night. And we all arrived into this new place of light and warmth and love. Those five people stood and watched us run in the sand, splash in the warm water with laughter and comfort and squeals of joy, and then we floated upwards in the sea of light. At the time, we had no questions of the future, and no thought of the past. Everything, everywhere, always, was all... good.
But as time has passed on earth, we have grown and matured from our time as infant joys and giggles, drinking in years of learning, knowing, understanding, and shining like twinkling stars in a calm night sky. And now our Father has shared parts of what events have passed on earth, and shared pieces of what is to come, and we watch what is right now. He has given us the honor of sharing this story with you, about the only night that all his stars were eclipsed by the piercing light of angels. --Angels! Twenty times our size, hovering in a vast array. They each came and visited us in our infancy, and gave us a touch of comfort. Some of us were still in our mothers’ wombs, some of us were asleep, wrapped in blankets in warm homes, but the Angels brought each of us a message from the Father of Heavenly Lights. One of great comfort, great assurance, great love.
I was one of those children, still being woven together in the womb of my mother. The Weaver, the Creator of my spirit, was stitching together my being, inside of her. That was my first sense; my first memory. I began in a tiny flash of light. I was so small that the tiny spark seemed huge, brilliant, encompassing. But to you, I would have been so small that perhaps only my mother could detect my spirit with hers, and the hands of God, deftly forming every part of me within her. I had no questions, no knowledge, no curiosity; just a sense of becoming; as though I was being sown together into a warm blanket where my spirit would reside. I felt warmth, love, presence, and all that was good surrounded me.
As I was formed, and my mother slept, an angel came. His wings moved like a great wind, and I drew back as he approached. A bright light shone behind him, and passed through him as he spoke. Though I had never seen light, my spirit opened to his words, which shone with love, comfort, warmth and brightness. He stood and waited, until the warm light drew me towards him again and we were face to face. His grey eyes reflected compassion, and he smiled and bowed in greeting. “I am Ruaaron”, he said, “bringer of spirits.” He smiled again, and I felt joy. Ruaaron told me that I had only just been created, but that he had been created four thousand years hence, and it was his honor and service to escort spirits to the presence of God in Heaven, as they passed out of one body and being, into another.
As he spoke, he stepped aside and gestured to the light, shining brightly behind him. My eyes were wide, and my spirit yearned to fly towards the light. I lifted my arms towards him, ready to be carried away. He stepped back, and held up his hand with a gentle smile. “No, Little One. I am not here for you.” he said. “I am here because my service to the Most High has... changed.” His words slowed as he spoke, as though they took some effort to describe something that was unfamiliar to him. He continued. “For four thousand years, I have always brought spirits upwards, from earth, to my Lord. But for the first time, He has chosen me among twenty one others to escort a single spirit... downward, from heaven, to earth.”
I was amazed at these thoughts, and fixed, unblinking, with the light. But I had only the simplest of languages and the simplest of questions, which came out as an expression or gesture or a simple notion of my heart. “Who?” I asked. Ruaaron's eyes focused again on me, and he smiled gently, then turned, stretching one hand towards me, and one up towards to the light. He gazed up at the light, and seemed as full of awe as I was. A tear streaked down his face before he answered me. “Himself.”
The angel took a deep breath, faced me again, and willed himself to continue. “I am Ruaaron, Bringer of Spirits. But I never thought I would be asked to escort the Spirit of The Most High downwards to earth, into the frailty of an earthen life... into the binds of time and place, and, weakness...” Ruaaron stretched out his wings and gestured wide as though other angels stood behind him. “We have watched in awe, as the Maker of Man has sown himself into a human form.” Ruaaron paused a moment and bent down towards me. “As small as you are before me, so I am infinitely small before the Maker of Angels. HE has created us both. The Most High, all mighty and all powerful! -and yet He has chosen to infinitely reduce himself to a simple human form, and endure a life... in a form like yours, stitched into an earthly body, bound to earthly pains, and destined... to an earthly fate.” The angel swallowed, and I sensed his sadness, and, I shared it. This was my second feeling, and I pondered the difference between the warm joy of Light and the sorrow of loss. Again I struggled to compose a question in my small heart. “Why?” I asked.
Ruaaron closed his eyes, bowed his head, and then opened them again. He stared intently at me, weighing the weightlessness of what I was. “for you, Little One.” he said; his words shining with bright warmth and love. “You will never grow strong enough to reach up to Heaven, So He is reaching down to you, to bring you to Himself.”
I closed my eyes and considered his words. So many, many thoughts had been given to me. And I had only the most basic questions in return. The thought of being lifted towards the warm light cheered me, and I asked, “When?” I raised my arms with my question, hoping the answer was now. But again, he halted me. “Not yet, Little One. But soon. Too soon, I will come for you and become once again, Ruaaron, Bringer of spirits. This night, I have come to celebrate with you. For tonight, your King’s arrival has been announced by a host of angels, proclaiming his birth in the night sky! Even now, the first storytellers have left their sheep in the northern hills and sought out the baby who will become your Savior, and seek to reunite you with your family, and the great Light, your Heavenly Father.
Author notes: Following chapters will explore the spirits’ short lives on earth and their story of earthly events from a heavenly perspective. Their story will tie into the life of Jesus and the stories of the five heroic people who died trying to protect the infants. Perhaps the arrival of the shepherds when they die, or John the Baptist, or perhaps the short visit of Lazarus, and ultimately, the glorious victory and return of Yeshua!
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By John Dehnart
Fear Not. Merry Christmas!
Hot dogs, baseball, Thanksgiving, Monopoly, Macaroni & Cheese, The 4th of July,
Voting and trimming the Christmas tree…
Of all American traditions, Christmas has been a beloved American celebration for… well, a really long time! —It’s been part of our country since the beginning! When Christopher Columbus landed, it was Christmas day, and he named his first settlement Navidad, Spanish for the word, Christmas.
The first Christmas tree was decorated in 1851 by an American pastor in Cleveland, Ohio, named Henry Schwan. And in 1870 Christmas became a Nationally Declared holiday.
Christmas has been an American family tradition ever since, and today over 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas with shopping, decorating, nativity scenes and gift giving, reminiscent and reminding of that first Christmas night, when God gave Himself to us in Jesus Christ.
It was that Star-lit night that was the reason for our gift-giving holiday (holy-day) called Christ-mas. To remember the day a dark world received Light and Truth.
But in the last few years, corporate retailers of the country blatantly remove Christmas Carols from their aisles, replacing them with “neutral holiday songs” about winter and snowmen. Have you noticed even the word Christmas is disappearing from packaging, labeling and advertising? More and more cashiers are being instructed to say “Happy Holidays” and avoid “Merry Christmas”, even though 9 out of 10 customers say it’s OK to wish them a Merry Christmas, and over half of consumers are bothered when businesses avoid saying Merry Christmas.
The “politically correct” agenda to remove Christmas from America tramples family values and American freedoms more and more every year, even though no law has ever been passed —and hopefully never will— to remove Christmas from, well, from Christmas!
Ninety-Six Percent of America celebrates Christmas, and the month of December is the highest ranking sales month of the year for most retail stores. Yet every year there are forces that act to remove Christmas from our American traditions.
Those forces, -those powers-, fight against the Light of Truth, who is Jesus the Chosen Savior and Son of God. It is His birth and life that I celebrate at Christmastime, and it is His Salvation that I celebrate when I bless someone with "Merry Christmas."
So yes, CrossTimber says Merry Christmas to you. And we’re not afraid to include it in our business, our greetings, and the way we live.
May you know the Light that had its beginning in that cold Christmas cave, and may you hold as a treasured celebration the night that Jesus’ infant-eyes first squinted at the sky above, to see the stars that shined His coming:
Christmas, 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and 2014.
By John Dehnart
The Patriots' Call to Action
I remember reading when Jesus moved like a warrior, a soldier, a man moving with purpose and action, wielding a whip and very few words. Perhaps that's the only picture of Jesus similar to Indiana Jones, but when Jesus drove out dishonest moneychangers and religious extortionists... He was an action figure.
While we don't live near a temple that holds our souls hostage for exorbitant fees, there is a different type of manipulation invading our shores, deteriorating our convictions, and degrading our beliefs. Far too often, we fall prey to the lies that are pressed upon us by men in power.
As an American, God has placed you in a country that has the richest, most precious foundation of freedom and prosperity in the world. And in the last twenty years, its freedoms and harvests have been limited, reduced, regressed, and constantly under attack from corrupt or lazy governing authorities. What was once a structure of checks and balances has become a skyscraper built on shifting sand.
Is it any wonder that the news of this infant King was preceded with this command: Do Not Be Afraid. Share the good news. Tell people about JESUS, and encourage others to do the same. Choose a battle line, and hold fast to it. Thank your pastor, volunteer to get righteous Godly Christians elected, volunteer with Right to Life, run for office yourself, or give money to enable your warriors to fight in your behalf.
AFA: Defender of Family Freedoms
Focus on the Family: Encourager of God's Designs for Family
Right to Life: Defender of the Helpless
All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is for good men to do nothing.
Probably the SIMPLEST and most powerful influence you can have on your country's government is to VOTE. If you're an American, you have a unique privilage that very few citizens have had throughout history: the ability to vote for your lawmakers. 40% -that's 4 out of every 10 Americans- don't vote. Dedicate 4 hours of your year to shaping our government. That said, don't "just vote", vote as though your actions (and inaction) is being recorded before God. Take 30 minutes to do your homework about the candidates. Encourage Godly men to take office. Vote your conscience, not your "party."
PRAY for God's presence to be in the hearts and minds of those in your government. And not only on the "supernatural" level, allow God to use YOUR hands to write a letter, YOUR feet to bring it, YOUR voice to speak the truth to your elected leaders and guardians.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. American, Be brave, be watchful, be fierce against those who would take "a little bit" of your religious freedoms, or "a little bit" the freedoms of your fellow Americans.