The Star Chapter 2

Tolui shook as he held the baby, this small child this room filled with a light from outside; all of it made him feel so strange, not bad, but unworthy to even be here and that he could not understand. His personal bedroom was larger than this whole house, his clothes were by far superior to anything they were wearing, yet somehow he knew that he was the unworthy one in this humble place.

His father, King Balthasar, motioned with his eyes for him to return the child to the mother and as he did so his father reached and touched the child more tenderly than Tolui had ever seen him do with anyone. Then he knelt and nodded for Tolui to kneel as well as the other two kings. The room was filled with the silence of heaven as his father bowed before the child and then he heard the words coming from his father’s lips. “Almighty creator, Yahweh, giver of life and Father of this child forgive our presence in this house and let the glory of this moment change each of us forever and forever. May our camels never walk the same, may our minds never seek the same, and may our hearts never belong to anyone except the Father of this Child before whom we bow and pray.”

Tolui was sure he heard the sounds of wings in the room, the groans of the mud from which the house was built and felt the warmth of the Star shinning outside in the darken sky.

His father, King Balthasar, was bowing before a child and praying to a God whose name he did not know. Here in a house of one room made from mud, here before these humble people of this foreign land his father a King was bowing.

Tolui followed his father, King Balthasar as he rose from the floor and backed slowly out of the small one room house. They turned and walked toward the camels and Tolui asked, “Father what happened in there? Who are those people and why did you pray to that man, the one you called Yahweh?”  “No son”, Balthasar said, “I did not pray to the man in the room.” “But father you said father of this child. There was no other man in the room and he was not as great as you, he was not.”

”I understand why you are confused my son, but the man standing there is an ordinary man with and extraordinary job to do. He is not the father, but only appointed by Yahweh to serve as the father of the child in the place of God. God is the Father.” “I do not understand. I know about these things but this I do not understand.” Tolui said, “And who is this Yahweh?” “Child, Child”, King Balthasar said, “Yahweh is the God of the Hebrews who once lived in our country as slaves and served our families. They told us of their God, Yahweh, and now I know that not only is He the God of the Hebrews but He is also the Creator and God of all peoples.” “But father”, Tolui spoke and the King interrupted him, “Son the prophet of the Hebrews, Isaiah, told them that a Virgin would have a child and that the child would be the Son of God, even God Himself with us. Tonight my son you held God in your arms.”

Ivan

 

 

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Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star

The Star

Tolui stretched his body on the dusty ground with his head and shoulders resting against his father’s camel. He could see the star almost directly above his head; his heart beat fast as he dreamed of all the possibilities of this night. His father, King Balthasar had instructed him to stay with the camel. He knew that it was not necessary, the desert beast would not move without his father’s command, but stand watch he did. There were at least fifty soldiers and servants also resting on the ground in the area and another four hundred or so camped outside the small village making ready their journey back to the homeland almost two years away.

Tolui wonder what or who lived in this small house. It was certainly not the home of a king, not even a minor ruler; in fact it looked like it had only one room. Who could be so important that his father would spend almost two years to find this place and he and his two fellow rulers would go unprotected into this peasant’s house.

He had just turned twelve when they left his country and he would be sixteen by the time they returned. What is in that house that makes it so very important? Why would his father travel so far, spend four years of his life to make the round trip journey, what or who could it possibly be. Then there was the star, that star that had started this journey. His father was a priest of astrology but to come this far, to end the journey in this nothing house in this unknown village what is in that house?

Tolui felt the camel raise its head and saw the nostrils open and close, and then it turned toward the small house and seemed to recognize something. It was his father, King Balthasar standing in the doorway of the house. “Tolui”, he called, “Come son and visit with me.”  The boy arose and walked swiftly to the door and his father. Tolui was amazed at what he saw; the floor was dirt and true to his thinking there was only one room. A mat that looked something like a bed was in one corner and a young girl just a few years older than he was sitting on a stool holding a baby. A tall older man stood next to her and looked with wonder at both the mother and child. His father said, “Come son and touch the child, do it softly boy, do it with care.” Tolui reached out his hand and felt the warmth of the young child as his flesh touched him. It was almost as if this baby knew that he was here and that he had come from some far off place to stand in this little room and behold his face.  The mother lifted the baby and nudged the boy to hold him in his arms for just a moment. Tolui had never felt such joy, such completeness, such love. The great star from overhead of the house seemed somehow to bring a heavenly glow to the humble room. Gifts lay on the floor before the mother, gifts his father and the others had brought. Who is this I am holding he thought; who is this child that we have traveled two years to see and hold?

Ivan

Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Trees of Christmas

Trees of Christmas

On the first Saturday of December Tom Stewart who worked for my dad would get the company truck and come by and pick dad and me up so that we could all go out on Christmasville Road to a friend’s farm and cut Christmas trees for all of our family and many of our friends.

We always choose cedar trees and until I joined the navy and went to California I had never seen any other tree used for Christmas.

Dad would always let me pick out the one for our house and I would always choose the largest that would stand in our living room.

We would return as the sun was falling from the sky and deliver the trees to all of those who had asked for one, then home, supper, and building a stand so that our tree would be upright in our living room before the day came to a close.

Sunday after church we would all gather and put all the lights and trimmings on the tree. We even used ice sickles made from some kind of foil on the tree along with a lot of artificial snow. In those days if one light went out then all the lights on that strand would also go out, it was my job to find the bad light and replace it with a new light. That was often a major job.

During the war years we could not purchase new lights but dad knew a way to make the old bulb, if not glow still carry the circuit and keep the others burning, mother would always call foul and state that he was going to burn the house down. Somehow we made it through those years and so did the house.

Life at 246 South was good, full of love, adventure, tears, joys, hopes, and the launching platform for a little boy into manhood.

Ivan

 

Published in: on November 28, 2016 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Moving Finger of Time

The Moving Finger of Time

Two days more and the calendar will be torn and the last month of 2016 will roll us into its mist. Seems like only yesterday I was a boy playing in the vacant lot on Lindsey Street, no cares no worries just enjoying the days of childhood.

Now so long since those innocent days the future seems to hang like a great cloud that will wrap me in its presence and I shall be walking in a land I have only dreamed of, a land I have never seen but in which I have been promised I can live forever.

I wonder if I will have the wonderful memories of this place, this time, and this my age. Thursday was a beautiful day, joy flooded our home and our bodies were filled with the harvest of our hands, laughter, dreams, and joy were talked about and all at our home fell fast asleep in the glory of another Thanksgiving.

Just a couple of weeks ago I had a great birthday, nothing was spared and I was made the center of attention and we all had a wonderful time.

Will I take those memories with me? My three sisters, two of my nephews and both of my parents are now in that land of dreams, I will see them, know them and weep for the joy that we shall be together forever.

Byrdstown has so marked my life that I will certainly carry much of it with me to that place and time. I will brag to all who will listen of the wonderful people of this city, of the joy I have had in these ageing years.

Yes the Moving Finger of Time does move only forward but the memories it cannot erase, age weakens the body but not even age has weaken my love of these hills, this place, and most of all the people of our community.

December is coming and Christmas is but a breath away; how wonderful it is to live in the land of America to spend these days as a ‘ship in’ here in the upper Cumberland. Thank you for your warm acceptance of me.

Ivan

Published in: on November 27, 2016 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  

Thanksgiving 2016

Sounds of Thanksgiving

A Song

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free

A Commitment

I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one nation,
under God,
indivisible,
with liberty
and justice for all.

A Prayer

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever.

Amen.

Published in: on November 24, 2016 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Great Thanksgiving

Twenty Five Thanksgiving Dinners

A judge in our small town gave me 25 turkeys to give to families that might not have a great Thanksgiving.

Man I went crazy it was going to be a beautiful day so I was off to give out the turkeys. The first house I went in changed my mind for the lady of the house had never cooked a turkey.

I told her to put it in the sink keep it covered with water and it would be ready to cook the next day. She explained to me that she did not have running water in the house and how far up the hill she would have to go to get water and to put a nail in my coffin she said she and none of her neighbors had a pan large enough to cook it in.

I had to get my thinking cap on so I took the turkey, told her I would be back the next day and that I was sure she would have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.

I rounded up several of our ladies, told them the story and they got together and cooked the turkeys and made all the fixings for a wonderful dinner and back we all went the next day to bring a fully cooked, complete dinner for twenty five families.

I learned that there is more than one way to cook a turkey and the best way that week was to have some wonderful ladies who had a ball cooking dinner for twenty five families who had never had a turkey.

Great Thanksgiving that year, great.

Ivan

Published in: on November 22, 2016 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Gift for God

A Gift for God

I can remember people coming by at Christmas that we had not seen in a long time and we had not purchased a gift for them. So we would rush around and wrap something to have for them before they left.  I think a lot of people try that with Jesus.  Just give him what is lying around, just anything, and get him on his way. That will not do, Jesus wants our service, real service, and nothing else will do. Jesus wants our hearts and our witness.

Take this week of Thanksgiving and use it to prepare your heart to someday meet God face to face and give praise to Him. You can do that by not waiting until Thursday to give thanks but rather begin even today, Tuesday, to give praise and Thanksgiving to God. Don’t worry about your gift fitting Him, being the right color, or meeting His desire; for His desire is for you to bear fruit and the fruit bearing begins with giving Him your praise and honor.  Just look around like my son use to do at the table when asked to say the blessing, see what is before you and like Vann say thank your Lord for the turkey, beans, and etc. I am sure that as you look you will see many things for which you can praise the Lord, begin now, look around your room, walk out the door, see, and behold His blessings.

Give God two gifts this year, your heart and your witness.

Published in: on November 22, 2016 at 12:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving from My Youth

Thanksgiving from another Time

The sounds of Christmas are already in the air and the smells of food being cooked for a great feast of Thanksgiving battle for the attention of our nose.

I was in college before my family celebrated with a turkey, we always had a couple of baked hens with all the trimmings; I don’t remember if turkeys were too expensive, maybe not so available as today, maybe mother had nothing large enough to cook one in, we just didn’t have turkey.

I don’t remember that it mattered for we had a table so full that we were always able to eat for days on what was left over. The house was filled with family from the smallest grandchild to my mom and dad. All of us were always there, we listened to the stories of days gone by, played in the yard, fell asleep on the couch, chairs, and floor.

Until I was a senior in high school we didn’t have a television so it was family and one another that entertained us. We came back to the table to snack for supper and one by one all would leave our home at 246 South Lindsey Street as the sun fell from the sky and the night air became cold with the reminder that winter was coming.

I slept those nights the sleep of the innocent, full, warm, snug in the bed of my youth. God carved the memory of those beautiful days in my heart and now in the time of my own winter I find it warm to remember, to travel down those carved pathways and walk again those beautiful, full and wonderful days of Lindsey Street.

Ivan

Published in: on November 20, 2016 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Standing My Watch

(A reprint)

It was time for Habakkuk to stand his watch. It would be a long three hours, but important, necessary, and his duty. As he climbed the ladder which would lead to his rampart, the place where he would stand as the protector of his city he remember what his father had taught him about the duty of standing watch.

He had told him as he passed the time of providing protection to look in three directions. First he was to look outside the wall, out where the enemy would come from, out where those who would do them harm were hiding. A good watchman knew how far his eyes could see and how long it would take a warrior to come from that distance to his city. He knew each tree, stone, ditch, and other places where the enemy could hide in order to bring harm to his city.

Second a good watchman would always look within; from where he stood on the rampart he could see the roof of his home. He knew that under that roof his wife was asleep depending on him to proved protection, warning, and safety. His children were there deep in sleep with no fear and no concern about their safety because their father was standing the watch.

The third place a good watchman would look was up; up to where the stars marked their place in the sky, where the dimming of those stars would let him know that soon over the eastern horizon the sun would begin to peek and the morning star would begin to bring light to his city. Habakkuk was an excellent watchman, he searched the darkness and shadows of the night outside his city, his eyes saw the image of his family and others who depended on him for their safety. He would not fail them. Habakkuk also looked up and as he did so he looked not only for the peaking of the sun in the eastern sky but for the presence of The Son as He keep their city safe and provide what no watchman could provide, assurance of salvation.

Habakkuk watched, he listened, he learned, and he longed for the coming of the Son. I wonder who did not keep their watch in America. Who allowed sin to slip so far under our doorway that what was once horrible has become an accepted way of life. Who forgot to sound the alarm, who failed to see how fast the enemy approached, who slept and did not look and allowed our values to slip until even truth is hard to find? Maybe it is time for us to look up and ask for The Son to rise.

Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 11:13 pm  Comments (2)  

The Tears of the Lost

Some years ago a lady came into my office and poured out to my secretary and I, this was a number of years ago, I don’t have a secretary at Byrdstown, she had fallen so many times, broken the hearts of her parents, abandoned her children and even though she was yet to turn forty she could not name her husbands in any order even with the help of her fingers. She said she had heard me preach and that I had looked across the audience and said that God loved her, but she knew I had to be talking about someone else, that she was certain that God could not love her. She talked in a wispier because she said even to mention it she was afraid that God would somehow punish her before she could leave the office.

My secretary handed me my bible turned to Psalm 139 and I read David’s great praise to God for loving him in spite of knowing him. I told her of the woman at the well and how God had used her to change a city, of the woman who came with tears and perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus, too sinful to stand before him, of John when he heard the voice of God fell before His feet as though he, John, was dead, and how God used a big fish to teach a man who refused to serve Him how to change the history and destiny of a great city. I then told her that just as David, this man who had caused murder, committed adultery, and lost the joy of his family, but was still loved by God and called the apple of His eye, had said that God not only knew him but loved him.

She shed the tears of a broken and saddened child as my secretary and I prayed for her and with tears flowing with the force of rain she wept her sorrow before God and gave Him all that she could, the years that were left.

Is it not wonderful, marvelous, glorious, and beyond understanding how much God loves us, even when we are who we are?

Published in: on November 16, 2016 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)