Friday, November 25, 2011

A Donkey's Tale

This is a story that I wrote back in the 90's and it was on the web and located at the old geocities personal websites that were sponsored by yahoo. I have received a lot of emails over the years of people who would log onto the site and read the story to the family. Well, for those who made it their tradition, and hopefully for those will start this year to begin one, I humbly present to you:

A Donkey's Tale

It is a story of the donkey that was owned by and ridden by Mary, the mother of Jesus. While the story of the donkey is not portrayed in the bible (when you read it, you'll understand), the major events of the story did happen as depicted. And I believe, as magical of a night as it had to have been, if God had wanted that donkey to talk, this is what he would have said:

Hello, I am a donkey that helped make history a long time ago. You see, there was a man and a woman that loved each other very much. They were engaged to be married but something happened to them that blew all their plans apart.
Joseph had been looking forward to his wedding day, celebrating with all his friends and family. Mary, his one and only love, had finally agreed to marry him. And she was happily going about her duties trying to get everything just right.
But an unexpected visitor showed up in the middle of everything. (Don't you just hate it when company drops by and the house is a wreck?) But this visitor was an angel of the Lord and he told Mary that she was going to have a baby. (Just imagine having to tell that one to Mom and Dad!) But Mary didn't argue with him, which is unbelievable because women are given to argue, especially when they know they haven't done anything wrong. And the Angel had a busy schedule too, so he was glad also since he had yet to talk it over with Joseph. But he took no chances so he appeared in Joseph's dream and told him not to worry, that he should go to his new wife and support her in this ordeal. Joseph did what the angel told him to do even though he had some misgivings at first. But in order to give him time to get used to it all, Mary went to see her dear old cousin named Elisabeth and her husband, Zacharias.
And guess who took her there? You guessed it, yours truly. Anyway, Elisabeth was pregnant too and she was really happy because she was "over the hill" and so was Zacharias. But when Mary walked in you should have seen what happened next. Elisabeth's tummy began to move in really funny directions because John was jumping up and down inside. John knew that his cousin was no ordinary baby. For he would someday get to baptize his cousin, the one and only Jesus. So all three of them got to rejoicing and celebrating the two new babies who would be born soon. Mary decided to stay about three months and catch up on all the news and gossip plus help out her cousin. Also Zacharias had lost his voice right before Elisabeth got pregnant. And it would probably be sometime (at least three months) before he got it back. (I bet Elisabeth was glad that she didn't have to listen to his nagging for a while.)
So Mary returned to her hubby, Joseph, piggyback on me of course, and boy was he happy. I was too, for I got to rest a while again. It was a good thing too because little did I know that I would need all the strength I could get later on.
Well, right before it was time for Mary to give birth and this ruler Caesar Augustus decided he wanted to get a head count of everyone and that he wanted everyone to go back to their hometown to do it. The problem was that Joseph's hometown was 70 miles south of where we were at the time. So Joseph asked me if I would carry Mary for him (note: she sure was a lot heavier than before) since I had done such a good job earlier. I agreed as long as I didn't have to tote him too. He said don't worry; that he needed to walk since Mary's cooking had put a few pounds on him. So we take off from Nazareth and go to Bethlehem to be counted and pay our dues. Poor Joseph was having to put up with a pregnant woman and having to pay to have her along and they had as yet to enjoy any marital bliss because the Lord said "NO" until the baby was born.
Well, we finally get to our destination but guess what? Someone forgot to call ahead to tell them we were coming. I mean the least they could've done was to call 1-800-IMTIRED and book us a room (poolside of course). So here we are listening to the desk clerk tell us that the only place to rest was IN A BARN. I was hot and sweaty from all this and now not only do I have to carry them around, I have to share my bedroom too. Oh well it could be worse, I thought. (The barn could've been full, too). So we crashed out for a few days.
But then one night I heard this awful crying and carrying on and when I looked up there was this bundled up body with two hands just a flailing and two eyes a crying and one gigantic mouth wide open emitting sounds like I never heard before. When I looked again it was Jesus wrapped in a blanket and laying in my plate, uh manger for you others that never have been in a barn. But he soon quieted down.
And then it got really bright inside. At first I thought someone had turned the 3-way bulb up to high but then I realized it was this star in the East shining through the hole in the roof that someone had forgot to fix. No wonder it was so cold before that. I just thought someone had turned down the thermostat to 68 degrees to save energy. You know, I've never been in a hotel room that the air conditioner wasn't running wide open so that you became an ice cube when you walked through the door. Anyway, back to the story. My nose got to itching real bad and about that time this bunch of Shepherds showed up (they left their sheep outside, of course) and just as we got rid of them (I thought we never would get rid of them) these wisemen showed up. They weren't so bad because they brought some stuff that we could use, like to go out and get baby bottles and stuff plus get us a hamburger or something like that to eat.
But wait! This is the scary part. Those wise men who showed up had stopped at Herod's palace to get directions. (Makes sense, if you're hunting for the King of Kings, you would normally go to a palace. But the King got really mad when he heard who was born in his land, since he was a wimp who thought his title was on the line. He wanted the wisemen to find the baby and come back and tell him, supposedly so he could see him too. But Herod was one bad dude and he actually wanted to kill him. So the angel of the Lord told the wise men to go another route and not to tell Herod nothing. They did as they were told (they were wise, not stupid-remember) and then the angel of the Lord showed up at our place and told us to skedaddle too. So Joseph put Mary and Jesus on my back and we took off again to another land to wait till Herod croaked. And so it was that I got to have my place in history along with a lot of other famous people, too. And thus was my contribution to the life of the one whom you all call: JESUS CHRIST

Copyright 1990 Rev. Keith A Moreland

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

HGTV and Me

(There has been some confusion about the blog and the website, so for now, the blog will be posted both on here and on the website.)

One of the TV channels that I love is HGTV. I like getting new ideas on decorating and arranging things in the home, and I like seeing how others setup their homes, both indoors and out. The "___ Crashers" series is one of my favorites, and I would love it if they would be in a store near me sometime and come rescue our house from the hum drums!

One other series that I like is House Hunters and House Hunters International. In case you haven't watched these shows, people get a choice of 3 homes and they have to choose one of them to purchase (or in some countries rent, as outsiders are not allowed to own property.) It is fascinating to see what each country is like, as they will show the surrounding area and people in the villages. Some places are pretty cheap, and then some are so expensive I don't see how anyone can afford it.

I lived in what was then West Germany while serving in the US Armed Forces in the late 70's and early 80's and I remember very fondly the country and the food. (I still love German food today, and I've found several authentic restaurants within a couple hours drive from here.) I spent quite a bit of time "on the economy" as it was called when we weren't in the field on some training mission. I also learned quite a bit of german in my travels, and I still remember some of it, but not nearly as much as I used to.

But when they show pictures of places in Germany, I almost get homesick. There were so many good times there, although that is the country where I was injured while on maneuvers which created my release from the military. But I still miss it. I think about Uta @ Zum Bambi's Gasthaus and her mom and dad. I'm sure they have passed on now and hopefully Uta is still cooking up the Weinerschnitzels for people today. I miss my army buddy Clint Walker and the good times we used to have kicking around Babenhausen. But one other thing that I miss is how different the country was. It was clean. People cared about their homes, their towns and each other. The streets there are clean, you do not see the destitute roaming around. Littering is absolutely not tolerated. And people are friendly to you, whether they know you or not.

Here in America I just don't see that anymore. Almost every town of decent size in the US has a "slum" section, an area where drugs are sold, homeless people are allowed to set up shelter. We step over the drunks on the sidewalks as we head to work, shop or church, never stopping to offer any help. We offer pitiful advice like: "If they wanted to help themselves, they would." "I don't have time to solve the worlds problems, let someone else do it." "Why can't they (whoever they are) do something about these people?"

In 2 days we will celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US. We are supposed to be thankful for all that we have been given. With the looming debt crisis around the world, I don't know how many people are going to be thankful this year. They will be too busy worrying about their stock portfolio's to realize that the greatest thing to take stock in is their family sitting at the table before them. They will worry about needless things, yet the destitute outside their door will look in the windows and marvel at what all they have.

So during the next two days, please take time to look around you. Yes, there will be food banks and kitchens open to serve a meal to a family who otherwise would not have anything this holiday. But what about afterwards? What will they be doing on Black Friday while you're out shopping? For some families, I suspect that they will be huddled in their cars that are parked in some lot, empty of gas, expired/missing tag, with the adults wiping the tears from the children's eyes as they watch people with packages of toys scurry from store to store.

I'm tired of what I see in America. We have so much, yet we gripe (oh how I would love to use another word!) about what we don't have. One thing I learned about Europeans is that family counts. They treasure each other. They don't always have alot, but family and friends ranks first on their list. I want us to be that way. The family you have is the family you had better treasure. You're not guaranteed that you will have them the next day. The friends you have, you had better treasure. Without friends you have no support system outside of the home.

What? You say that you have no family or friends? It is just you, alone in your apartment or home. Well, you do have a friend. His name is Jesus. We used to sing a song from the hymnal long ago, and maybe we need to sing it again:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry,
Every thing to God in prayer.

God knows your needs. God knows your situation. He knows what your future holds. Though it may look bleak now, if you have accepted Christ in your heart, your future is brighter than ever. You have Heaven to look forward to one day, and there is no greater reward or future than that.

So I challenge you. If you are one of the lucky ones who are reading this, you're definitely blessed. You most likely have a roof over your head, and a desktop/laptop that costs hundreds of dollars sitting before you. The world is literally at your feet. So starting today, I want you to put your feet in the world. Go find the people who need God the most, yet most people will not take the time to show them God. Start in your neighborhood.

What? You don't have any of that in your neighborhood? Yes you do. When I worked for Allied Van Lines I moved people into large extravagant homes and they could not even fill up half of the rooms with furniture. But it was the "in place" to live, so they sold their home that suited them and bought something that alot of them lost later due to too much debt. So even in the "finest" neighborhoods, you have someone who needs you and needs Jesus. They may put on "airs" for everyone, but you've seen through it, or they have confided in you. Start to be a true friend. Have them over for Thanksgiving. Show them the love of Christ and what all that He can offer, and that they don't have to try to obtain everything that they want, when He can give them all they need.

Do your part to make this a better world. Pick up that piece of paper and put it in the trash. Buy an extra cup of coffee and put it in the hands of the homeless. Purchase one less present for your children and one more for a homeless or orphan child. Invite a single person or widow/widower to your home for Thanksgiving. And then invite them back regularly to share meals and fellowship times. Give the drunk, the homeless, the drug addict someone to love and let them know that someone loves and cares about them on days other than the holidays. Then we can have a nation that will realize that no matter what the stock markets do, what the news media print, or what their personal situation is at the moment; someone loves and cares about them and that we are all truly blessed.

In closing, I want to be a House Hunter, be it International or not. I want to find a house where families gather with friends, strangers are invited in to share in the company, and most importantly, Christ is shown to everyone present. Will you prepare your house?