It's that time of the year again
YES IT'S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN....
THIS IS THE REASON WHY WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS....its not the gifts and parties, it's Faith....
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.
Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go." "Not without something hot in your belly." George said.
He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."
Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.
"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.
"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.
"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."
The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."
George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked. "None for me," said the officer. "Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.
"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.
"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."
The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"
The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."
He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."
George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer." "Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said. George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.
"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"
"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.
"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued. "Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"
Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."
"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."
George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."
"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."
George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.
"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."
"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"
"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"
"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.
"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."
The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."
George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."
George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"
Updated: 5:30 PM GMT on December 11, 2012
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Happy Thanksgiving America
The First Thanksgiving
Why should we celebrate Thanksgiving? Is this holiday just the annual American fall holiday that President Abraham Lincoln put on the calendar during the Civil War, or does it have a special significance for us above and beyond its tradition?
For most of us, Thanksgiving is about family, feasting, and football—approximately in that order. If we think about God at all, it usually involves saying a few simple pre-turkey-carving prayers of thanksgiving for His blessings during the year which is now fast ebbing away.
But, had it not been for the hand of God watching over that hardy little band of Pilgrims that found themselves thrown up on the shores of Massachusetts in 1620, there would have been no first New England thanksgiving. And quite probably, no modern holiday to celebrate.
What keeps modern Americans from properly understanding who the Pilgrims were, and the pivotally important role they played in our history? That we are not taught the whole truth about why they came to America. Every school child has been told for decades upon decades that the Pilgrims came to America for religious liberty, or religious freedom. Not quite right. Shallow history teaching.
In reality they were missionaries, coming to the New World to plant the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the wilderness. As their great governor and chronicler, William Bradford, wrote: “They had a great hope and inward zeal of laying some good foundation…for the propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” Obviously, they had a strong sense of call and mission.
What is special about the Pilgrims is that these English evangelical Christian exiles actually layed the moral, spiritual, and governmental foundations of America at Plymouth (see our book The Light and the Glory, and my DVD “Pilgrims, Puritans, and Patriots,” and the DVD teaching seminar “Restoring America” — all available on my website). But it was only by God’s repeated intervention that they survived to accomplish their calling.
With other Puritans, they had endured vicious religious persecution in England, having been arrested often by the King’s soldiers and imprisoned by sheriffs. Finally, fleeing for their lives to Holland, they settled in the town of Leyden. There they enjoyed religious freedom for 12 years. But, toward the end of this time, it became increasing clear to them that God was calling them to leave Holland and come to America.
Consider the fact that, if their motivation had been primarily about religious liberty, they could have stayed where they were. They already had it. But what compelled them was much deeper than that. They were missionaries. They weren’t running away from anything when they came to America — they were obeying the call of Christ on their lives!
Leaving Leyden in mid-summer, they traveled in barges to Delfthaven, and boarded the small ship Speedwell for the short trip to Southampton, England. There they met the Mayflower, the larger merchant vessel they had leased for the occasion, and additional English passengers whom these “saints,” as they called themselves, quickly dubbed “the strangers.” Delayed by leakage problems with the Speedwell, they finally had to abandon her in Plymouth, England, and there all who remained committed to the expedition were crowded on the Mayflower. It was early September as the last glimpses of England faded from view and the Mayflower gamely launched out into the vast North Atlantic ocean.
The first few weeks at sea proved to be balmy sailing weather, but then the voyage turned nasty. Their delays had put them squarely into the fall storm season. The old freighter soon found herself battered by fierce gales and towering waves of sea-green water. While the crew tied themselves with ropes to the masts and rigging to stay on board the tossing ship, their captain, Master Jones, had ordered below the 102 men, women, and children passengers. They were confined in the “tween-decks,” the cargo area of the old ship — about 90 feet long, and 25 feet wide, with only 5.5 feet of head room. In these storms, with people being simultaneously thrown from side to side and violently pitched up and down; with children crying and adults throwing up; with the stench of vomit, animals, and unwashed bodies; and with the sea water leaking through the deck above, the conditions must have been almost unbearable. The passengers tried to cope with their fears as best they could by chanting Psalms from the Bible, which welded saints and strangers alike into a praying congregation of desperate Pilgrims.
They had good cause to be afraid. In the midst of one terrible storm, there was suddenly a loud crack! One of the large beams that held the mainmast in place had snapped, and now was dangerously sagging. Should that beam give way, the mast would fall and the ship would surely founder, with the loss of all passengers and crew. By the grace of God, the Pilgrims had brought with them a large iron screw, which was found and quickly hoisted into place under the beam. Buttressed with other pieces by the ship’s carpenter, young John Alden, the beam thankfully held.
In the midst of yet another storm, John Howland, a young twenty-something indentured servant of the Pilgrims’ first governor, John Carver, found himself unable to take the confinement any longer. He lifted the hatch and stepped out on deck. In seconds the next huge wave washed him overboard, and Howland found himself in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Only minutes away from freezing to death, as he was going under the waves, one of the ropes from the ship’s rigging just “happened” to snake across his wrist. Instinctively, his hand closed on it, and the crew managed to haul him back on board.
Just luck or a coincidence? I don’t think so, and neither did the Pilgrims. God’s hand had intervened once again, and John Howland knew it. He became one of the leading elders in the Plymouth colony.
After enduring storms for 44 days out of their 66 day voyage, the weakened and sick passengers at last sighted land on November 9th, 1620. It was Cape Cod. Turning south, toward their original destination in the northern part of the Virginia Colony (today’s New Jersey shore), the ship soon got caught in the shoals off the bottom elbow of the Cape. After fighting through this for a day and getting nowhere, the Pilgrim leadership prayed and decided that God wanted them to stay there and start a separate colony. Master Jones sailed north and anchored the Mayflower in the lee curl of Cape Cod’s tip, in what is today Provincetown harbor.
There they re-assembled the one-masted sailboat they had brought in pieces on the ship, and prayerfully launched a hand-picked crew to sail around the inside perimeter of Cape Cod Bay and search for the right location for their colony. Providentially, in the midst of a blinding December snowstorm, they were blown into Plymouth harbor. After spending a cold and miserable night on a small island, and resting the next day on the Sabbath, they came ashore at Plymouth to find the ground cleared and recently cultivated, but no Indians anywhere to be seen. Strangely, the area was littered with human bones.
Concluding that God had prepared this place for the colony, they sailed back across the bay to fetch the Mayflower. After anchoring the ship in Plymouth harbor, they commuted from ship to shore in the ship’s boat, and began construction on a common house. There they could sleep and store supplies until they were able to start building their houses.
But, with no shelter, and immune systems weakened by the rough voyage, they began to get sick. Colds became bronchitis, and pneumonia set in. The dreaded killer of ship’s passengers—scurvy—and other “wasting sicknesses” ravaged their number. With no effective medicines, they began to die. In January and February the deaths sometimes reached two and three a day; 17 dying in February alone. At one point, there were only five people well enough to be on their feet, caring for the rest. Toward the end of March, when the worst was over, they had lost 47 of their number. Of the 18 wives who had come, 13 had died. Only three families remained unbroken. They were in real trouble, for the food they had brought on the Mayflower was virtually gone, and they were facing an unhospitable wilderness.
But God’s greatest miracle for them was on its way! On March 16th, 1621, a lone Indian, clad only in a loincloth, walked boldly up to them and said: “Welcome, Englishmen!” After the Pilgrims had recovered from this surprise, they had found out that his name was Samoset, and that he had come from Massasoit, a regional Indian chief who lived about 40 miles to the southwest. The following week he appeared again, this time bringing with him a Patuxet Indian by the name of Squanto, who as William Bradford would write, was “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation.” That was understating it a bit.
Squanto offered them his services, and they were invaluable. He taught them how to trap eels in the mud flats of the bay, what berries were edible, what herbs were good for medicine, and how to trap beaver, which would later become a source of income for the Pilgrims. Most important of all, he taught them how to plant corn, and plant it the Indian way — by burying dead fish with the seed, to fertilize the seedlings as they grew. He was God’s instrument for their salvation.
As Squanto’s story came out, the Pilgrims learned that his tribe, the Patuxets, had lived at Plymouth. But, in 1617, a plague, probably brought by French fur-trappers from the north, had killed every member of the tribe. That explained why they had found the ground covered with human bones, and evidence of previous cultivation. The plague had raced through the tribe so quickly that they had not even had time to bury all their dead!
Sqanto had escaped because he had not been there. They learned that he had been kidnapped in 1605 by an English fishing expedition and taken to England, where he had lived for nine years in the home of an merchant named John Slanie. He had learned to speak English well, and became accustomed to English foods and ways. In 1614, he had been brought back across the Atlantic on another fishing expedition, under the command of John Smith, of Jamestown, Virginia fame, who had gone into the fishing business. Squanto had enjoyed being home while the English filled up their ships with the plentiful cod in the bay. But, when it came time for them to depart, Smith had ordered one of his captains,Thomas Hunt, to stay behind and trade for beaver pelt. After Smith and the others left, Hunt got rid of the fish, but he had another cargo in mind. Tricking on board 20 young Patuxet braves, Squanto among them, he took them prisoner and sailed across the bay, stopping briefly to pick up 7 Nauset men. He set course for Malaga, a slave-trading port on the south coast of Spain. There, these American Indians were auctioned off as slaves!
When it became Squanto’s turn to be sold, a monk from a nearby monastery just “happened” to pass by at that moment. Looking at this forlorn Indian, he took pity on him, bought him, and took him to the monastery. Squanto lived with the monks for about a year, after which he obtained his freedom and worked his way up through Spain and France until he could cross the English channel and get back to England. He stayed with the English until 1619, when a Captain Dermer brought him back home on a fishing expedition to the New England coast in exchange for his services as a pilot in American waters. Dermer dropped him off on the tip of Cape Cod, but when Squanto got back to his village site at Plymouth, he received the worst shock of his life. All of his people were dead, killed by the plague that had struck two years earlier.
Heartbroken, he wandered among the ruins and the bones, and then walked the 40 miles southwest to the tribal seat of the Wampanoag and Chief Massasoit, who took him in. He stayed with them until March of 1621, when Samoset had returned from his village site to tell him that some English had settled there. Squanto suddenly had a new reason to live! He would go help these white people. And so he did.
In October, when the 20 acres of corn the Pilgrims had planted under Squanto’s tutelage had been harvested, they wanted to hold a celebration festival. They invited Massasoit and the Wampanoag, and of course Samoset and Squanto as well, to come and celebrate with them. Massasoit came a day early, with 90 braves, plus women and children. The Pilgrim women’s hearts must have sunk, because they were going to have to use the corn stored up for the winter to feed this crowd of Indians. But Massasoit had thought of that, and had ordered some of his men to hunt for the occasion. They brought with them five deer strong up on poles, and wild turkeys. There were fish from the bay, berries and other fruits, roasted corn, and the Pilgrim women supplied vegetables from their gardens. The festival lasted three days, complete with bow and arrow shooting contests, foot races, and relay races. It was a good and peaceful time for whites and Indians together.
I suspect that many times during those festivities the Pilgrims stopped to thank the Lord for His miraculous provision of Squanto. Had it not been for him, there would have been no cause for celebration and thanksgiving. God had sent this American Indian, who spoke English fluently, ate English foods, understood English customs and ways, and knew about the Christian faith because of his time with the Spanish monks: the right man, in the right place, at the right time. Only God can do something like that.
My friends, that is the true story of the first New England Thanksgiving; the real reason this holiday should be special in Americans’ hearts!
Copyright, 2007, 20011, Peter J. Marshall. All rights reserved.
Facts about NOVEMBER
According to the Georgian calendar, November is the eleventh month of the year. In the early Roman calendar, it was the ninth month. The Roman Senate elected to name the eleventh month for Tiberus Caesar, and since Augustus time, it has had only 30 days. Originally, there were 30 days, then 29, then 31.
November comes between the fall and winter months. The leaves are almost completely gone from the trees, and the rest have lost most of their color. The Anglo-Saxons referred to November as the 'wind month' and the 'blood month' - probably because this is the month they killed their animals for food.
Lots of activities come to a halt in November. The crops have been harvested and either put in storage, or sent to processing plants or mills. Farmers already know if their year has been successful or not. Football is the main sport of the month. The weather is usually beautiful for this kind of sport.
The topaz is the birthstone for November.
The chrysanthemum is the flower for the month of November.
November woods are bare and still;
November days are clear and bright;
Each noon burns up the morning's chill,
The morning's snow is gone by night..
Source: Helen Hunt Jackson - Taken from World Book Millennium 2000