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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sorting Saturday - Arrangements Upon Your Death


It's important to have a file folder or notebook in an easy access place that contains your wishes in case of emergency and death along with copies of any important documents. You should also sit down with your spouse, parents, adults siblings, children, etc. and go through this too. You can live until your 90 yrs old or you could die within the next minute. We never know. So it's important to be prepared ahead of time.

The first and most important preparation is whether or not you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and asked Him to forgive you of your sins. As a Christian, I know that Jesus is the only way to be forgiven and made right with God. It is through Jesus alone that we make it to eternal heaven to live with Him. Otherwise, you will go to eternal hell because yours sins are not forgiven. He has done everything He could to save you and get you to heaven. He gave His only Son to be sacrificed on your behalf and it's as easy as accepting Him and believing in Him. And throughout your life God has tried to reach you, to get your attention, to lead you to Him so you could be saved. If you are reading this message, it's another attempt by God to get you to turn from your own way and accept His way. He loves you. He will forgive you as soon as you ask with a believing heart. He wants you to be in a relationship with Him. It is NOT His Will that you go to hell. But if you remain headstrong and stubborn, you will send yourself to hell.

1 Timothy 2:4-5 (Contemporary English Version) God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, there is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us.

Acts 4:12 (CEV) Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.

John 3:15-18 (CEV, parenthesis mine) Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man (Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man) will have eternal life.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!
No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.

Titus 3:4-5 God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is.
He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning.

Ephesians 2:8-9 You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.
It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.

Mark 16:16 "Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned." - Jesus

Romans 1:23-32 They don't worship the glorious and eternal God. Instead, they worship idols that are made to look like humans who cannot live forever, and like birds, animals, and reptiles.
So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies.
They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen.
God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural.
Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.
Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That's why they do all sorts of indecent things.
They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip, say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil. These people don't respect their parents.
They are stupid, unreliable, and don't have any love or pity for others.
They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.

Romans 2:4-6 You surely don't think much of God's wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don't you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?
But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness.
God will reward each of us for what we have done.

Romans 3:10-12 The Scriptures tell us, "No one is acceptable to God!
Not one of them understands or even searches for God.
They have all turned away and are worthless. There isn't one person who does right.

Romans 3:22-25 God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ.
All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.
But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.
God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life's blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 4:25 God gave Jesus to die for our sins, and he raised him to life, so that we would be made acceptable to God.

Romans 5:1-2 By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God.
Christ has also introduced us to God's undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God.

Romans 5:6-11 Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful.
No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person.
But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life's blood, we will also be kept safe from God's anger.
Even when we were God's enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son's life.
And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us.

John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father."

Revelations 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and Him (Jesus) sitting on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And a place was not found for them.
And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and hell delivered up the dead in them. And each one of them was judged according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.
And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.


I hope and pray that you have made that most important arrangement... being saved.



Here is a list of other things that you can be prepared for.

* Have a living will! And give copies to your closest family members so that they are aware of your wishes. You can even have a copy put in your medical record with your doctor. Make sure your loved ones know where this living will is stored.



* Have a will! This is not difficult but it is very necessary. If you don't want your estate and your children taken over by a government entity, then you better get on the stick and have a will made out for you and your spouse. Encourage your parents, your siblings and your adult children to get a will made. Keep a copy safely and in an easily accessible spot and make sure your loved ones know where it is.



* Keep a document that indicates your wishes of funeral home, your choices of cemetery, funeral, etc.

First, consider three options:
•Direct burial, cremation, traditional or full service
•Funeral Home and Cemetery
•Clothing – What do you want to be buried in?
•Jewelry – For traditional services only, consider what prized jewelry or possessions the deceased had, and consider including them. They can be removed before burial and given to the family.

Gravesite and Burial
•For burial, there are many different options:
 ◦Cemetery plot – If pre-purchased, you should request the funeral director to contact the cemetery.
 ◦Vault
 ◦Mausoleum
•Casket - You will need to choose a casket or urn:
 ◦Wood (what type of wood such as oak, cherry, etc and what color such as light or dark)
 ◦Metal (what type of metal and what color)
•Open or closed Casket
•Grave marker – A new stone marker or engraving on one that is already present? A bronze plaque or a standing tombstone? Are you a veteran, or a member of a special organization that have symbols or official markers that can be affixed to the tombstone? What text do you want engraved?

Service Details
•If you are a veteran, you may want a military presence. Indicate this in your preparations and the funeral home can tell your loved ones who to contact upon your death.
•Obituary – You can write out your own obituary. Please include core information such as birth date and where, parents, spouse, children, survivors, occupation, religious affiliation, date of death, date and place of funeral, date and place of Recieving of Friends/Wake/Memorial Service, cemetery. You can include anything else you want such as education, organizations you are a member of, hobbies, special people in your life, etc. Also a list of the newspapers you want your obituary to appear in. For instance: the newspaper of the town you currently live in, the newspaper of the town you were born and raised in, the newspaper in the town your parents live in, the newspaper of the town where you worked for 20 years, etc.
•Funeral location – Services are frequently held at the funeral home, churches, graveside, or in the family home.
•Eulogies and readings– Eulogies are short speeches that are delivered by one or many people. Who would you want to give a eulogy? For religious ceremonies, readings from the Bible bring comfort. Do you have favorite scriptures you want read?
•Who do you want to lead the funeral service? Your clergyman, your good friend who is a minister, your cousin who is a minister?
•Flowers – Do you want people to send flowers or make a donation in your honor to your favorite charity? There are usually flowers for the casket and you can make your choices such as your favorite flowers.
•Musician and Singers – Funeral directors and clergy will have a list of qualified organists. Or you can designate someone special to play or sing at your service. You can select hymns or songs for the singer and/or the congregation to sing. Do you want piano, organ, bagpipes, etc.
•Pictures and photo albums – In many services pictures and photo albums of the deceased can be placed on a table for family and friends. Designate any specific album or portrait you would want displayed.
•Pall bearers - Select your pall bearers (6 strong, healthy men).
•Remembrance event, wakes, receiving of friends? – Outside of the service, will there be a remembrance event? How do you want this to happen? At your home, your church, the funeral home parlor? Open or closed casket for this?

**Note** After you are dead, the funeral is to honor you but it's also to help your family. Keep in mind what they need to help them through this time of grief. For some, having the casket open is helpful and for others it's torture. For some, receiving the love and prayers and well wishes of friends and family is a comfort. For others, standing for 2 hours and shaking hands is too hard. So, as you make your plans, keep your family in mind and try to do what would be helpful for them.



* Make a list of all your life insurance policies and where the policies are located. Include everything you can think of: employers usually have life insurance on employees; your bank may have a small policy on you that was free; your credit cards may have life or disability policies that you choose and pay for; sometimes your bank requires life and/or disability policies on loans; the little policy your parents got for you when you were a kid and you've kept all these years; etc. Make sure there is a comprehensive list including contact information. Make your loved ones aware of this list and where it's stored.



* Do you have different investments and savings all over the place? Make a list of all your investments along with contact information. Such as 401ks; CDs in the 3 different banks you used; rolled over 401ks in such and such financial institution; that piece of real estate you bought for an investment in Tenbucktoo; your timeshare in Florida; the gold coin collection in that safety deposit box in your hometown; etc. Some people have everything in one bank and some people like to spread it out so that if one bank goes you haven't lost everything. This is especially true when you have more money than the FDIC will cover if a bank goes bankrupt. You are federally insured up to a certain amount. If you have more than that amount, it makes good business sense to divide it into multiple banks. Some people like to have a wide range of investments so that all their eggs aren't in one basket. They may collect gold coins, expensive art, mutual funds and savings bonds. Or they may invest in real estate, CDs and Utility stocks. Whatever you have, make sure you make a comprehensive list with contact information and make sure your loved ones know where you store this list.



* Make sure your loved ones know where your important papers are such as birth certificate, marriage license, social security cards, mortgage papers, property deeds, military discharge papers, etc. If you use a safety deposit box, make sure they know where and know where you keep the keys.


These are the types of things you need to prepare for. Again, encourage your parents, siblings, grandparents, adult children to do the same.


After your loved one dies, what do you need to do?
Find their funeral arrangements and follow their instructions! Simple as that!



After the funeral, this is a list of things to do:
Contact your pastor and your deceased loved one's pastor (if different).

Obtain 10-15 copies of the Death Certificate

Contact attorney, accountant, and executor of estate.

If your loved one was receiving Social Security benefits, notify your local Social Security office of the death, since these benefits will stop. Overpayments will result in a difficult process of repayment. If you are a surviving spouse, ask about your eligibility for increased benefits. Also, check on benefits that any minor children may be entitled to receive.

Contact the Veterans Administration-The Veterans Administration (VA) may offer benefits for funeral or burial costs. Stop any monthly payments that the VA might be paying the deceased.

Contact the health insurance company or employer regarding terminating coverage for the deceased while continuing coverage for others covered through the policy.

Contact the insurance company for all life insurance policies. You will need to provide the policy number and a certified copy of the death certificate and fill out a claim form. If the deceased is listed as the beneficiary on any other policy, arrange to have the name removed.

If the deceased was working, contact the employer for information on pension plans, credit unions and union death benefits. You will need a certified copy of the death certificate for each claim.

Return credit cards of the deceased with a certified copy of the death certificate, or notify the credit card company if you, as the survivor, want to retain use of the card.

Arrange to change any joint bank accounts into your name. If the deceased's estate is in trust, check with the Trust Department or Customer Service at the bank.

Arrange to change stocks and bonds into your name. Your bank or stockbroker will have the forms.

Make sure that important bills, such as mortgage payments, continue to be paid.

Stop subscriptions of newspapers, magazines, etc.

Stop utilities if applicable.

Forward mail at the post office (if applicable).

Here is a list of documents you will need to accomplish the above tasks:
Documents you may need to complete the tasks:
Death Certificates (10 - 15 certified copies)
Social Security Card
Marriage Certificate
Birth Certificate
Birth Certificate for each child, if applicable
Insurance Policies
Deed and Titles to Property
Stock Certificates
Bank Books
Honorable Discharge Papers for a Veteran and/or V.A. Claim Number
Recent Income Tax Forms and W-2 Forms
Automobile Title and Registration Papers
Loan and Installment Payment Books and/or Contracts


I have a small safe in the house for my important documents. I also have a binder with our final arrangements, my parents wishes on their final arrangements, lists and copies of important documents like life ins, birth certificate, etc. I routinely check them to make sure there are no changes (about once or twice a year). I also try to remind my loved ones every once in awhile where all this is.

Bethlehem of Judah



Modern Hebrew words for Behtlehem are Beyt Leḥem, lit "House of Bread." A fitting name for the place where our Savior, the Bread of Life, was born.

The town of Bethlehem Judah is situated on a prominent limestone ridge in the Hill Country of Judah about five miles south of Jerusalem. At an elevation of 2,500 feet, Bethlehem has a commanding view of the surrounding terrain. The hill has a deep valley on the north and another on the south. On the top, lies the village in a kind of irregular triangle. The fertile hill country surrounding the town supported cereal crops, vineyards and olive orchards, as well as abundant grazing land for sheep. There is a Bethlehem Zebulun but they are not the same.

Bethlehem, located in the "hill country" of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical "Ephrath", which means "fertile", as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephratah. It is also known as Beth-Lehem Judah, and "a city of David" because Bethlehem is the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel.

An old photo of Bethlehem's Market Square



Modern Bethlehem


The wall that separates Israel from Palestinians. The Tomb of Rachel is the dome just to the right of the middle of the photo. I have old photos of Rachel's Tomb which will be further down in my post.




Genesis 35:19-20 And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.

Genesis 48:7 (Jacob, aka Israel, speaking) And as for me, when I came from Paddan, death overtook Rachel on the way, when we were still some distance from Ephrath; and I put her to rest there on the road to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem.

Rachel's Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. But there are 2 other sites that claim to be Rachel's Tomb. At the northern entrance to Bethlehem, the 2nd location has been recorded since 4th-century AD. Although it stands within the built-up area of Bethlehem, the tomb is now enclosed within the Israeli side of the West Bank barrier. Others however suggest that the original location of Rachel's burial was in Benjaminite, not Judean, territory. Evidence for this is confirmed in the Book of Samuel where Saul would "encounter two men at Rachel's grave in the territory of Benjamin" (1 Sam 10:2). Furthermore, Jeremiah talks of the "sound of weeping emanating from Rachel's tomb that could be heard in Ramah" (Jer. 31:15). Ramah is identified with the Arab village north of Jerusalem. This area could be the five stone monuments north of Hizma. Known as Qubur Beni Isra'in, the largest so-called tomb of the group, the function of which is obscure, has the name Qabr Umm beni Isra'in, that is, "tomb of the mother of the descendants of Israel".

Here is an engraving of the traditional Tomb of Rachel with Bethlehem in the background.


Here is an old photo of the traditional Tomb of Rachel with Bethlehem in the background.



Judges 17:1-13 Now there was a man of the hill-country of Ephraim named Micah. (2) And he said to his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver which were taken from you, about which you took an oath and said in my hearing, I have given this silver to the Lord from my hand for myself, to make a pictured image and a metal image: see, I have the silver, for I took it: so now I will give it back to you. And his mother said, May the blessing of the Lord be on my son. (3) And he gave back the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, and his mother said, I have made the silver holy to the Lord from me for my son, to make a pictured image and a metal image. (4) So he gave the silver back to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a metal-worker who made a pictured image and a metal image from them: and it was in the house of Micah. (5) And the man Micah had a house of gods; and he made an ephod and family gods and put one of his sons in the position of priest. (6) In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did as seemed right to him. (7) Now there was a young man living in Beth-lehem-judah, of the family of Judah and a Levite, who was not a townsman of the place. (8) And he went away from the town of Beth-lehem-judah, looking for somewhere to make his living-place; and on his journey he came to the hill-country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah. (9) And Micah said to him, Where do you come from? And he said to him, I am a Levite from Beth-lehem-judah, and I am looking for a living-place. (10) Then Micah said to him, Make your living-place with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver a year and your clothing and food. (11) And the Levite said he would make his living-place with the man, and he became to him as one of his sons. (12) And Micah gave the position to the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. (13) Then Micah said, Now I am certain that the Lord will do me good, seeing that the Levite has become my priest.

This story occurs after the death of Joshua and they have no leader or king and therefore no restraint to doing whatever they wanted to do. Micah and his mother are quarrelling. The purpose of the narrative is evidently to set forth the origin of the Danite shrine and priesthood. The son has robbed the mother. The old woman had hoarded a great deal of money, 1100 pieces of silver. It is likely she intended, when she died, to leave it to her son but he didn't want to wait. There is wickedness on both sides because of the love of money. She is miserly and hoards money in such a way that her son is tempted to steal it from her. He wickedly steals from his own mother all that she has saved. The mother has such a fit that she brings down curses upon the thief. It scares him so he gives the money back to her. When he returns the money and apologizes she blesses him. As if the money were not already a god to them both, she decides to take some of the money and have it made into a idol. She doesn't give all her money but gives enough so she thinks she satisfies the gods. In the Ten Commandments, God specifically says we should not make nor worship any graven image or idols. It must not have stopped there because it says Micah "had a house of gods" and mentions his "family gods" (plural). It says he has an ephod and sets one of his own sons up as a priest. Then he invites a Levite to become his priest. This Levite was given much less than he could expect as an obedient servant to the true God. But he evidently was lured because he would be considered the high priest of Micah's religion. Micah was well pleased, as if his building, and endowing this temple authorized him, not only to appoint a priest, but to give orders to the priest which he had no right to give. Now he had his own religion, temple, idols, and priest and he thought this was better because it was of his own invention and under his personal management. I.e. he was in control of his religion. He had set up his own religious system in competition with God and His Ordinances. And he thought he would be blessed because of this. It reminds me of people who also idolize their money and investments. They hire priests (but we call them financial managers, financial planners, stock brokers, bankers) for a fee to knead and manipulate the money into investments that will bring about a good return so we can consider ourselves blessed by our god of money. We like this religion because it's in our control. Don't get me wrong... I don't mean that everyone who saves and has investments are practising idolatry. But there are many who do trust in their money as their savior. They rely on that money and watch the market and call the priest, er, stock broker, to make changes at their own discretion. If anything, including money, is more important to you than the one and only Living God, Jehovah, then it is an idol. If your attention is focused on it, your every thought is how to play with it, your energy, time, talent and money is all directed towards it, then you are practising idolatry whether you call it addiction, investments, hobby, career, relationship, etc. But this story tells of the beginning of idolatry in the new land, the Promised Land.

Later 5 men were sent in quest of new territory by the tribe of the Danites, who had failed to secure a settlement upon their allotment. They visited Micah's shrine, and obtained from his priest a word of encouragement favoring their quest (Judges 18:1-6). They then went on until they reached the town of Laish in the extreme North and they returned to report Laish to their fellow-tribesmen. The Danites at once dispatched thither 600 armed men, accompanied by their families (Judges 18:7-12). Passing Micah's abode, they took his idols and his priest, and when Micah pursued, he was insulted and threatened (Judges 18:13-26). They took Laish, destroyed it with its inhabitants and rebuilt it under the name of Dan. There they established the stolen images, and appointed Micah's Levite, Jonathan, a grandson of Moses, priest of the new sanctuary, which was long famous in Israel (Judges 18:27-31).

In the Book of Ruth, Elimelech and Naomi take their two sons to Moab to escape a famine in the area of Bethlehem. Ruth marries one of their sons. After Elimelech and his two sons die, Naomi wants to return to her homeland of Bethlehem. Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and she goes with her back to Bethlehem. It is there that she gleans from the fields of Boaz and eventually marries and settles down with Boaz.

It is in Bethlehem God has Samuel choose David to be the next King after the failure of King Saul. The Prophet Samuel goes to Bethlehem and anoints David as king.
1 Samuel 16:1-5 And the Lord said to Samuel, How long will you go on sorrowing for Saul, seeing that I have put him from his place as king over Israel? Take oil in your vessel and go; I will send you to Jesse, the Beth-lehemite: for I have got a king for myself among his sons.
And Samuel said, How is it possible for me to go? If Saul gets news of it he will put me to death. And the Lord said, Take a young cow with you and say, I have come to make an offering to the Lord.
And send for Jesse to be present at the offering, and I will make clear to you what you are to do: and you are to put the holy oil on him whose name I give you.
And Samuel did as the Lord said and came to Beth-lehem. And the responsible men of the town came out to him in fear and said, Do you come in peace?
And he said, In peace: I have come to make an offering to the Lord: make yourselves clean and come with me to make the offering. And he made Jesse and his sons clean, and sent for them to be present at the offering.

David loved his home town so much that during a battle with the Philistines he wishes aloud he could have some water from a well in Bethlehem. David's “Three mighty men” “brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David”. David was so overcome that he had to share it with His God so he poured the precious water out as an offering to God.

2 Samuel 23:10-17 (God) was with David and went on fighting the Philistines till his hand became tired and stiff from gripping his sword: and that day the Lord gave a great salvation, and the people came back after him only to take the goods of the Philistines. (11) After him was Shammah, the son of Ela the Hararite. And the Philistines came together in Lehi, where there was a bit of land full of seed; and the people went in flight from the Philistines. (12) But he kept his place in the middle of the bit of land, and kept back their attack and overcame the Philistines: and the Lord gave a great salvation. (13) And three of the thirty went down at the start of the grain-cutting, and they came to David at the strong place of Adullam; and the band of Philistines had taken up their position in the valley of Rephaim. (14) And at that time David had taken cover in the strong place, and an armed force of the Philistines was in Beth-lehem. (15) And David, moved by a strong desire, said, If only someone would give me a drink of water from the water-hole of Beth-lehem, by the doorway into the town! (16) And the three men, forcing their way through the Philistine army, got water from the water-hole of Beth-lehem, by the doorway into the town, and took it back to David: but he would not take it, but, draining it out, made an offering of it to the Lord. (17) And he said, Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this; how may I take as my drink the life-blood of men who have put their lives in danger? So he would not take it. These things did the three great men of war.

Jeroboam converts Bethlehem into a military stronghold in 2 Chronicles 11:6.

Micah 4:8 And thou, O tower of Eder, Fort of the daughter of Zion, unto thee it cometh, Yea, come in hath the former rule, The kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem. (Young's Literal Translation)
Micah 4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. (King James Translation)
Here is a prophesy by Micah that the New Kingdom shall begin at the "Tower of Eder" or "Tower of the Flock". What was the Tower of Eder? This watch tower from ancient times was a military watchtower and was used by the shepherds for protection from their enemies and wild beasts. It was about 4 miles from Jerusalem and on the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. From the tower, they could watch the flocks. It was also the place where ewes were brought to give birth. The shepherds would bring in the ewes which were about to lamb for protection. These special lambs came from a unique flock which were designated for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. It's possible that this Tower of Eder (Hebrew was Migdal Edar) was the place where Jesus was born, the Lamb of God. It would be the perfect place for Christ to be born. The birthplace where tens of thousands of sacrificial lambs had been born. Those lambs had symbolized the Lamb of God for centuries. Whether Jesus was born at Migdal Edar or another stable in Bethlehem, doesn't matter. What matters is that He was born as the sacrificial Lamb of God, the one who would carry our sins and be our substitute so that we can be saved. From His birth, He was meant to pay the price for our sins. It was His Father's plan of salvation and Jesus was obedient unto to death to give us forgiveness and eternal life in heaven with Them.


John the Baptist announced, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." in John 1:29

In Micah 5:2 it is prophesied that the Christ shall come forth from Bethlehem, "And you, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, the least among the families of Judah, out of you one will come to me who is to be ruler in Israel; whose going out has been purposed from time past, from the eternal days."

Sure enough, Mary gives birth to Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem. Jesus' earthly mother and her husband, Joseph, were also of the royal linage of David and so it is to this city that they return to be counted when Caesar Augustus took a census of the entire Roman world.
Luke 2:1-6 Now it came about in those days that an order went out from Caesar Augustus that there was to be a numbering of all the world. (2) This was the first numbering, which was made when Quirinius was ruler of Syria. (3) And all men went to be numbered, everyone to his town. (4) And Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the town of Nazareth, into Judaea, to Beth-lehem, the town of David, because he was of the house and family of David, (5) To be put on the list with Mary, his future wife, who was about to become a mother. (6) And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

Is it not proof of the sovereignty of God and the completeness of His Plan and purpose that the One who was born to occupy the throne of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, was born of the line of David in the very same city as was David himself?

Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this"

Matthew 2:1 Now when the birth of Jesus took place in Beth-lehem of Judaea, in the days of Herod the king, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

The Wise Men were warned by God not to return to Jerusalem and notify Herod where the baby Jesus was.

Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was very angry; and he sent out, and put to death all the male children in Beth-lehem and in all the parts round about it, from two years old and under, acting on the knowledge which he had got with care from the wise men. Then the word of Jeremiah the prophet came true, "In Ramah there was a sound of weeping and great sorrow, Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted for their loss."

King Herod was so angry that instead of sending an executioner for the one child the Wise Men would have told him about, he sent executioners to kill all the male children of 2 yrs old and younger. He was going to make sure there was no further threat from another "King of the Jews". He thought his cruelty would save him from any other rival. It is not known how many boys were killed but thought to be between 20-30 children. How could a man be so brutal? Let's look at a summary of the horrible things he did in his lifetime: Aristobulus, his brother-in-law, the brother of his wife Mariamne, was murdered on his orders when he was just eighteen years of age, because the people of Jerusalem had shown some affection for him. In the seventh year of his reign, he put to death Hyrcanus, grandfather of Mariamne, then 80 years of age, and who had formerly saved Herod’s life. His beloved and beautiful wife, Mariamne, had a public execution, and her mother Alexandra followed soon after - Alexander and Aristobulus, his two sons by Mariamne, were strangled in prison on his orders when they were adults, married, and had children. In his last sickness, a little before he died, he sent orders throughout Judea requiring the presence of all the chief men of the nation at Jericho. His orders were obeyed, for they were enforced with no less penalty than that of death. When they were come to Jericho he had them all shut up in the circus, and calling for his sister Salome and her husband Alexis, he said to them, “My life now is short, I know the Jewish people, and nothing will please them better than my death. You have them now in your custody. As soon as the breath is out of my body, and before my death can be known, do you let in the soldiers upon them and kill them. All Judea, then, and every family, will, though unwillingly, mourn at my death.” Surely there could be no cruelty or barbarity which this man was not capable of.

Between 132–135 AD the city of Bethlehem was occupied by the Romans after its capture during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Its Jewish residents were expelled by the military orders of Hadrian. While ruling Bethlehem, the Romans built a shrine to the mythical Greek cult figure Adonis on the site of the Nativity. A church was erected on the site of the Nativity in 326 by Helena, the mother of the first Byzantine emperor Constantine when she visited Bethlehem. Constantine was the first Christian Roman emperor.

Emperor Constantine the Great


Scholars debate whether Constantine adopted his mother St. Helena's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life. According to Christian writers, Constantine was over 40 when he finally declared himself a Christian, writing to Christians to make clear that he believed he owed his successes to the protection of the Christian High God alone. Constantine appointed his mother Helen as Augusta Imperatrix, and gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order to locate the relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. In 326-28 Helena undertook a trip to the Holy Places in Palestine.

Helena


According to Eusebius of Caesarea she was responsible for the construction or beautification of two churches, the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives, sites of Christ's birth and ascension. The Church of the Nativity is possibly on or near the place of the Tower of Eder (Migdal Edar). It is unknown where the exact place of the Tower of the Flock was but it was in or near Bethlehem.

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem



The small entrance to the church



The nave. Notice the wooden doors open on the floor? I believe that is where they have views of the original Byzantine tiled floors.



The grotto where it is believed Jesus was born. It looks like a fireplace at the end of this room.










Jerusalem was still rebuilding from the destruction of Emperor Hadrian, who had built a temple dedicated, to Venus or Jupiter over the site of Jesus's tomb near Calvary. According to tradition, Helena ordered the temple torn down and she chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses. Then, the empress had a woman who was already at the point of death brought from Jerusalem. When the woman touched the first and second crosses, her condition did not change, but when she touched the third and final cross she suddenly recovered, and Helena declared that cross to be the True Cross. On the site of discovery, Constantine ordered built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. She also found the nails of the crucifixion. To use their miraculous power to aid her son, Helena allegedly had one placed in Constantine's helmet, and another in the bridle of his horse. Helena left Jerusalem and the eastern provinces in 327 to return to Rome, bringing with her large parts of the True Cross and other relics, which were then stored in her palace's private chapel, where they can be still seen today. Her palace was later converted into the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. This has been maintained by Cistercian monks in the monastery which has been attached to the church for centuries. Tradition says that the site of the Vatican Gardens was spread with earth brought from Golgotha by Helena to symbolically unite the blood of Christ with that shed by thousands of early Christians, who died in the persecutions of Nero. According to one tradition, Helena acquired the Holy Tunic on her trip to Jerusalem and sent it to Trier. Several of Saint Helena's treasures are now in Cyprus, where she spent some time. Some of them are a part of Jesus Christ's tunic, pieces of the holy cross and the world's only pieces of the rope to which Jesus was tied with on the Cross. The latter has been held at the Stavrovouni Monastery, which was also founded by Saint Helena.

The entrance to the Church of the Nativiey is a low doorway that has its own legends. One story is that the door was installed by the Muslims during their rule to remind Christians that they were guests in the country and must bow to their hosts. An alternative explanation is that the height of the door was designed to prevent unbelievers from entering the church on horseback. Yet another version holds that it was to protect the Christians from their hostile neighbors.

The church is divided into five naves by four rows of Corinthian pillars with pictures of the apostles on them. The names are written in Greek and Latin and many visitors have carved their own signatures over the centuries. The floor of the nave has a hole that allows you to see what remains of the Byzantine mosaics that covered the original church floor.

The Altar of the Nativity sits below a silver and gold chandelier. Stairways on either side of the main altar lead to a grotto. A fourteen-point silver star embedded in white marble indicates the birthplace of Christ. An inscription reads, Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est ("Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary"). Fifteen lamps burn around the spot. Nearby is the Chapel of the Manger, where Mary placed the baby Jesus. The manger too is of white marble.

The traditional midnight mass celebrated on Christmas Eve is held in St. Catherine's, the Roman Catholic church next door to the Church of the Nativity. This is also the site of several chapels with their own historic and religious significance. The Chapel of St. Jerome is where the Bishop of Bethlehem translated the Old Testament into Latin. The Chapel of the Innocents is devoted to the deaths of the babies killed by Herod. The Chapel of St. Joseph is where an angel appeared to Joseph and commanded him to flee to Egypt.

Not far from Manger Square is the Milk Grotto. According to Christian tradition, this is where Mary spilled some milk while nursing Jesus when she was hiding from Herod's soldiers. The milk turned the rocks of the cave a chalk white color. The rock is believed by some to have healing power and to make nursing easier for women.

Jerome's sepulchre is near; Bethlehem being where he lived for 30 years, and diligently studied the Hebrew Scriptures, to prepare the Vulgate translation.

Bethlehem was sacked by the Samaritans in 529 AD, during their revolt, but was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Bethlehem was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city's religious shrines. In 1099, European Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city's walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority. Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities.

The Shepherds


In Abraham's time (which is called the Patriarchs Period meaning the time of the origin of the Jews with their forefather's Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), he was nomadic. He travelled and lived in tents (nice tents, but tents). He was very wealthy but he did not have a permanent home. He and his family and servants dwelt in tents. In ancient times, wealth was equated with how large their herds were. The more livestock they had, the wealthier they were. But with all this livestock, you had to move on when grazing began to deplete the fields. Good livestock managers had to be on the lookout for grazing fields and water and, thus, had to keep moving in order to provide for their herds. Jacob was a livestock manager for his father-in-law, Laban. When you read about how he met and married Rachel and Leah, you will learn how he prospered in his role as shepherd for his father-in-law.

But the Israelites (aka Jews, Hebrews) spent about 400 years in Egypt, partly as an honored member of Egyptian society (due to Joseph) and, lastly, as heavily oppressed slaves for the Egyptians. Through all those generations, they were no longer nomadic sheepherders. Even after they left Egypt, they preferred having permanent abodes, villages, and towns. They and their families would live in a permanent home but they still had livestock. Much like the farms and ranches we know of today. Those who took care of the sheep were called shepherds. Sometimes it was the owner himself or actual members of the family, sons and daughters, who took care of the sheep and sometimes it was servants and hired men. If the owner or family member took care of the flocks, the sheep would be well taken care of. Owners had a vested interest in having a healthy flock. If it was a servant or hireling, there was the possibility of neglect and abuse. You had to be able to trust the shepherd. King David once tended his father's flocks.

1 Samuel 17:33-36 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him (Goliath, the Giant). For you are but a youth, and he is a man of war from his youth. (34) And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock. (35) And I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb out of its mouth. And when it rose against me, I caught it by the beard, and struck it and killed it. (36) Your servant killed both the lion and the bear. And this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.

2 Samuel 7:8-9 Now, therefore, thus (Samuel) shall say to my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. (9) And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

Moses tended his father-in-law's sheep while he was in exile in the land of Midian.

Exodus 3:1-2 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (2) And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

Shepherds spent most of their time in the fields watching over the flocks. There were no fences. By the way, there were no fences in the times of the Wild West in America either. Which was one of the reasons you had cowboys. It wasn't until barbed wire was invented and accepted by ranchers that you had enclosed and fenced range lands.

Sheep had to have grasses to eat and water to drink and they had to be protected. Shepherds were totally responsible for the sheep. If they were far from home, they had simple tents. They had a mantle, made probably of sheep skin with the fleece on. For rain, the skin was protective and for cold, he turned it inside out for warmth. Sometimes a tower was erected in order to better see the sheep in order to watch over them. The shepherd carried a small bag, or wallet, for food. He carried a sling for a weapon and a staff which served the double purpose of a weapon, and a crook for the management of the flock.

1 Samuel 17:40 Then (David) took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.



“In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and brought it back. In those lands sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. They brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Nor did his labours always end with sunset. Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief (see 1 Samuel 17:34).” Deane's David.



2 Chronicles 26: 9-10 And (King)Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate, and at the Turning, and fortified them.
(10) And he built towers in the desert, and dug many wells. For he had many cattle, both in the low country and in the plains. He also had husbandmen and vinedressers in the mountains, and in Carmel. For he loved the earth.

Genesis 29:1-9 And Jacob lifted his feet and went to the land of the sons of the east. (2) And he looked, and behold, a well was in the field! And, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it, for they watered the flocks out of that well. And a great stone was upon the well's mouth. (3) And all the flocks were gathered there. And they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in its place. (4) And Jacob said to them, My brothers, where are you from? And they said, We are from Haran. (5) And he said to them, Do you know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. (6) And he said to them, Is he well? And they said, He is well. And, behold, his daughter Rachel comes with the sheep. (7) And he said, Lo, the day is yet high. It is not yet time for gathering the cattle together. Water the sheep, and go feed them. (8) And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks have been gathered together. And they roll the stone from the well's mouth, then we water the sheep. (9) While he still spoke with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she kept them.

The firstborn of a sheep was dedicated to the Lord and flocks had to be tithed. I.e., a tenth (1/10th) was given to the Lord. It is said that when a man gave the tithe of his sheep or calves, he shut them all in one fold, in which was a narrow door, to let out but one at a time. He then stood by the door, with a rod dipped in vermilion in his hand, and as they passed he counted them with the rod; and when the tenth came he touched it, by which it was distinguished as the tithe calf or sheep. The sheep was one of the most important animals of the Old Testament sacrifices and there are stories where thousands were sacrificed at a time. The sacrifice of the lambs just before the Angel of Death swept through Egypt killing the first born meant life or death to the Israelites. They were required to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and to put the blood on the door posts and lintel to mark the home so the Angel of Death would "pass over" that house and all inside were safe. So sheep were very integral to the Jewish religion. The sheep also provided skins, wool, meat and milk for the people. It was an essential domestic animal.


Vermillion



Leviticus 27:26 "But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the LORD, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the LORD's.

Leviticus 27:32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the LORD.


Sheep are a peculiarly helpless animal. They have to be led to their food, they cannot find food on their own like goats or cattle. Sheep are also more likely to overeat which can cause enterotoxemia or eat toxic carob husks. They have to be protected from themselves as sometimes they wander off or get caught in a hole or crevice. They also have to be protected from wild animals or thieves. Predators account for many sheep deaths.

In the mountains the sheep are gathered at night into folds, which may be caves or enclosures of rough stones.



In going to pasture the sheep are not driven but are led, following the shepherd as he walks before them and calls to them. Sheep have good hearing, and are sensitive to noise when being handled. Even though there be 2 flocks intermingled, each shepherd can call their sheep and each sheep knows which shepherd is his shepherd and will follow his shepherd.



Genesis 33:13 And (Jacob) said to him, My lord knows that the boys are tender, and the flocks and herds with me are suckling. And if the men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

Sheep have excellent peripheral vision but very poor depth vision and may balk at shadows or dips in the ground. Sheep also have an excellent sense of smell.

All sheep have a tendency to congregate close to other members of a flock and follow a leader. When one sheep decides to go somewhere, the rest of the flock usually follows, even if it is not a good "decision." For example, sheep will follow each other to slaughter. If one sheep jumps over a cliff, the others are likely to follow. Sheep can become stressed when separated from their flock members. It will become highly agitated if it is separated from the group. Sheep have face recognition which enables them to recognize and remember humans and other sheep for years.

For sheep, the primary defense mechanism is simply to flee in panic from danger but cornered sheep may charge or threaten to do so through hoof stamping and aggressive posture. Sheep have little ability to defend themselves from predators. Even if they survive the attack, they may die of the injuries or of the sheer panic they experience. Sheep have an amazing tolerence for pain. They do not show pain, because if they do, they will be more vulnerable to predators who look for those who are weak or injured so the shepherd must be on the watch for hurt or sick sheep.

Sheep cannot be overdriven, they have to have rest.

Sheep do not seek shelter from rain but they do seek shade.

They do not possess the instinct of many other animals for finding their way home.

The usual time for watering is at noon, at which time the flocks are led to the watering-places. After drinking, the animals lie down or huddle together in the shade of a rock while the shepherd sleeps.

The shearing of the sheep was a large operation and evidently became a sort of festival.

The shepherd had to be watchful and alert to protect the sheep. He had to be tender and careful, sensitive to what was happening to them so that he did not overdrive them or lead them into any trouble. He stood at the gate and watched them, checking over them and counting them. He had to know the sheep intimately so that he could differentiate between them and know that they were in good condition. If any were missing, he had to know which ones. The shepherd would go looking for the lost sheep and if they were injured, he had to carry them back on his own shoulders.

Now that we have read about sheep and shepherds, we can easily see why Jesus is called our Great Shepherd!

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of Peace, He leading up out of the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,

God has cared for His people like a shepherd cares for his sheep. How like sheep we are! Do we not follow the crowd even if it leads to disaster? Despite our Savior's free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we can't seem to find our way out of a paper bag! We will follow after every false teaching that comes along rather than accept Jesus as our Savior. We will overindulge in all kinds of toxic sin. And we seem to need partners in crime so we flock together in our dens of iniquity. How often do our sinful thoughts become sinful actions when we are in a crowd? We can't find our way out of the rain but we sure can find the dark places to hide so we can sin. Satan looks for the weak and hurting to attack and instead of running to our Shepherd for protection we blindly run in panic right into the trap! We are so shallow and we don't think deeply which leads us into a hole we can't get out of. We are helpless to save ourselves from our sins but God did not leave us helpless! We need a leader to lead us out of danger and sin and lead us into the light of His love!

As a Good Shepherd, He knows His own and He calls to them and we respond. He knows us by name and can differentiate us. He knows the very hairs on our head and knows our every thought. Those of us who will accept His Salvation are His Children. But there are many sheep who are not His and will not respond to His Call. He knows them too, but He knows they will refuse Him to their dying breath. His offer to save them is rejected.

It was He, the Good Shepherd, who came looking for us, His lost sheep. He sacrificed His own Son for His Sheep! We are dedicated to God. We are the ones marked by the "vermillion" (deep and bright red) on His Rod which symbolizes the blood of Jesus! We are forever marked as His Children. By having the Holy Spirit living within us, it assures anyone that we are His. It is His Mark!

He is alert and watching and knows when we, His Sheep, are hurt. He provides, protects and guides us.

The shepherd's office represents Jehovah's tender care of His people, Israel, and His Children through the New Covenant, those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, Christians. (True Christians, not cultural "Christians".)

Genesis 49:22-25 Joseph, you are a fruitful vine growing near a stream and climbing a wall. (23) Enemies attacked with arrows, refusing to show mercy. (24) But you stood your ground, swiftly shooting back with the help of Jacob's God, the All-Powerful One-- his name is the Shepherd, Israel's mighty rock. (25) Your help came from the God your father worshiped, from God All-Powerful. God will bless you with rain and streams from the earth; he will bless you with many descendants.

Psalm 23:1-6 (A psalm by David.) You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. (2) You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, (3) and you refresh my life. You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths. (4) I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won't be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd's rod makes me feel safe. (5) You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch. You honor me as your guest, and you fill my cup until it overflows. (6) Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, LORD.

Psalm 78:52 Then God led his people out of Egypt and guided them in the desert like a flock of sheep.

Isaiah 40:10-11 Look! The powerful LORD God is coming to rule with his mighty arm. He brings with him what he has taken in war, and he rewards his people. (11) The LORD cares for his nation, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in his arms, while gently leading the mother sheep.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Jeremiah 50:6-7 My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have caused them to go astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. (7) All who have found them have devoured them. And their enemies said, We do not offend, because they have sinned against Jehovah, the habitation of righteousness, even Jehovah, the hope of their fathers.


Spiritual leaders are also referred to as "Shepherds".

Ezekiel 34:2-31 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them, So says the Lord Jehovah to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? (3) You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you kill the fat ones, but you do not feed the flock. (4) You have not made the weak strong, nor have you healed the sick, nor have you bound up the broken. You have not brought again those driven away, nor have you sought that which was lost; but you have ruled them with force and with cruelty. (5) And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd. And they became food to all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. (6) My sheep wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill. Yea, My flock was scattered on all the face of the earth, and none searched nor sought for them. (7) Therefore, shepherds, hear the Word of Jehovah: (8) As I live, says the Lord Jehovah, surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock, (9) therefore, O shepherds, hear the Word of Jehovah. (10) So says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock. Nor shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, and they will not be food to devour. (11) For so says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. (12) As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out My sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. (13) And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the lands, and will bring them to their own land and feed them on the mountain of Israel by the rivers, and in all the places of the land where people live. (14) I will feed them in a good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. (15) I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord Jehovah. (16) I will seek the lost, and bring again those driven away, and will bind up the broken, and will strengthen the sick. But I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. (17) And you, My flock, says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I judge between lamb and lamb, between rams and he-goats. (18) Is it a small thing to you to have eaten up the good pasture, but you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? And to have drunk of the clear waters, but you must foul the rest with your feet? (19) And My flock, they eat what your feet have trampled, and they drink what your feet have fouled. (20) So the Lord Jehovah says this to them: Behold I Myself will even judge between the fat lamb and the lean lamb. (21) Because you have thrust with side and with shoulder, and have pushed all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them to the outside, (22) therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey. And I will judge between lamb and lamb. (23) And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, My servant David. He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd. (24) And I Jehovah will be their God, and My servant David a ruler among them. I Jehovah have spoken. (25) And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and will send the evil beasts out of the land. And they shall dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. (26) And I will make them, and the places around My hill, a blessing; and I will bring down the shower in its season. There shall be showers of blessing. (27) And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. And they shall be safe in their land, and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and have delivered them out of the hands of those who enslaved them. (28) And no more shall they be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beast of the land eat them. But they shall dwell safely, and none shall terrify them. (29) And I will raise up for them a noted planting place, and they shall never again be of those gathered by famine in the land, nor shall they bear the shame of the nations any more. (30) And they shall know that I, Jehovah their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people, says the Lord Jehovah. (31) And you My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, says the Lord Jehovah.


Micah 7:14 Lead your people, LORD! Come and be our shepherd. Grasslands surround us, but we live in a forest. So lead us to Bashan and Gilead, and let us find pasture as we did long ago.


Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd and the Gate to safety.

John 1:29 The next day John sees Jesus coming to him and says, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 18:11-14 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (12) What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, does he not leave the ninety and nine and go into the mountains and seek the straying one? (13) And if it happens that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety and nine which did not stray. (14) Even so it is not the will of your Father in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 25:31-34 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory. (32) And all nations shall be gathered before Him. And He shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. (33) And indeed He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats off the left. (34) Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

John 10:7-16 Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. (8) Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. (9) I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. (10) A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. (11) I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. (12) Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don't own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. (13) Hired workers run away because they don't care about the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. (15) Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. (16) I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

1 Peter 2:24 Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to the cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed. (25) You had wandered away like sheep. Now you have returned to the one who is your shepherd and protector.

1 Peter 5:1-4 I exhort the elders who are among you, I being also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. (2) Feed the flock of God among you, taking the oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor for base gain, but readily; (3) nor as lording it over those allotted to you by God, but becoming examples to the flock. (4) And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.

And, lastly, we must not forget the story of those lowly shepherds keeping their flocks on the very night of Jesus' birth!


Luke 2:8-20 And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid. (10) And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (11) For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this is a sign to you. You will find the babe wrapped, 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 happened as the angels departed from them into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Indeed, let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened, which the Lord made known to us. (16) And hurrying they came and sought out both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. (17) And seeing, they publicly told about the word spoken to them concerning this Child. (18) And all those who heard marveled about the things spoken to them by the shepherds. (19) But Mary kept all these sayings, meditating in her heart. (20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as was spoken to them.



Why would angels announce the birth of the Messiah to some poor shepherds? God and His Son call themselves the Good or Great Shepherd so it should not surprise us. The angels did not go to the princes and chief priests, nor to the wealthy and intelligent men in Jerusalem, or the famous or high ranking politicians. No, the angels were sent to rough and illiterate men. Those everyday workers who do their duty and work for an honest living. God is pleased to choose and call, and reveal his secrets to regular Joe Blows. God hides them from those who think they are so wise and so much better than others.

This revelation to the shepherds should make us think, as we remember that shepherds, as a class, were under the Rabbinic ban, because of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance impossible. And, yet, here is God making the world's greatest announcement to these. The poverty and simplicity in which they found the baby Christ, were no shock to them and their faith, for they knew what it was like to live a life of comfortable communion with God in very poor and humble circumstances. After the great announcement was made by the angels, they did not say, "Let us go and see if it's true." They said, "let us go to Bethlehem and see". They had no doubt the announcement was true. They didn't have to see to believe, they believed and went to see. They evidently left their flocks of sheep and rushed to Bethlehem to see Jesus. And they didn't go home first! It was urgent for them to see the Christ child! Once they had met Mary and Joseph and seen the child, the Bible says they publicly told of their experience to all they could. Once they met the Savior, the Messiah, Emmanuel (God With Us), they had to tell others about it.



Now, 2,000 years later, I worship the same Christ as those lowly shepherds. I have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and I glorify Him just as the angels did that night so long ago. I am one of His Sheep, sealed with the Holy Spirit, marked by His Blood. Should I do any less than to follow Him and obey Him, to worship and adore Him, tell others of what He has done for me?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Sharon's Sausage and Mushroom Dressing

Family Recipe Friday – is an opportunity to share your family recipes with fellow bloggers and foodies alike. Whether it’s an old-fashioned recipe passed down through generations, a recipe uncovered through your family history research, or a discovered recipe that embraces your ancestral heritage share them on Family Recipe Friday. This series was suggested by Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist from GENEABLOGGERS.
Sharon’s Sausage And Mushroom Dressing
½ lb Pork Sausage
½ cup Butter or margarine
1 lbs fresh sliced Mushrooms
1 lg sliced Onion
1 bunch sliced Green Onions
1 (14 ½ oz) can Chicken Broth
1 (8 oz) package Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix
1 chopped Poultry Herb Bouquet
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper

Brown sausage in a large skillet, stirring to crumble. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in skillet; add mushrooms, onion and green onions. Saute until tender. Stir in sausage, broth and remaining ingredients. Spoon 4 cups stuffing into turkey, if desired; place remaining stuffing into a lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Those Places Thursday - Where I've Lived My Life

Those Places Thursday - is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers. Post about places you or your ancestors lived with photos and stories on Those Places Thursday.

This digital scrapbook page documents all the places I've lived in my life. We've been in our current town since I was 8 yrs old but I lived a variety of places before that and then different places in town since then.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Travel Tuesday - Trip to Washington, DC During The Depression

Travel Tuesday – Do you have images, quotes or stories about trips your ancestors or family took during their lives? Or have to ventured out on travels to your ancestral homeland as part of your genealogy research? Travel Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt suggested by Susan Donaldson of Family History Fun on Geneabloggers.

Grandmother and Granddaddy go to Washington DC in 1940. Both of my grandparents grew up in the mountains of Madison County, NC in the northwestern mountains near Cold Mountain. As teens, the families moved to Marion, NC to go to work in the textile mill, Clinchfield Mill. They met in church there. Anyway, notice the background in this picture where they are leaving on their trip.





































































Grandmother and her sister-in-law, Margaret Alice Reese Young
















































This is Granddaddy and Uncle Joe beside Uncle Joe's 4 door 1940 Willys car.















































The 2 door coupe is not their car.























































































My grandparents, Wilford and Genny got married at the end of 1933 and had their first child, my Mom, in 1938. They made a trip to Washington, DC with Granddaddy's sister and her husband, Margaret Alice Reese and Joe Young. Uncle James dated the photos with the cars. We found photos of a 1940 Willys cars and compared them to Uncle Joe's car. There is also a photo of Granddaddy leaning on the front hood of Uncle Joe's car looking at a map. Uncle James was able to zero in on the car's front license tag and it reads 1940. He zeroed in on the map and it seems to be one of Washington DC so we assume it's the same trip. Their fashions were from the 1930's which means they were very spiffy but a little old fashioned.

Remember this was during the Great Depression and in the northwestern NC mountains (way back in the mountains). But both couples were very properly dressed and the car was in good condition. Considering it was at the end of the Great Depression, they must have been doing pretty good. They shared their expenses and were able to make this trip.

Once they were in Washington, DC they took these photos at the Capitol building. I guess, back then, they were still afraid to smile in photos. But notice the hair style on Grandmother. She had naturally curly hair but her hair is fingerwaved in that early 1930's style. Notice the hats, coats, shoes. They were really dressed up and spiffy! I remember Granddaddy always made sure Grandmother could have the very best in clothes, according to what they could afford. She was thrifty but she would always have several really nice outfits. I guess that goes back to him being a Baptist Minister and his family reflected on him in his job. I know they weren't "proud" and "fake". I can honestly say my Grandparents were so NOT into image. But he also knew that they had to be circumspect in order to reach the people in his congregations and communities. He had such a great sense of humor but he also had a lot of dignity because he knew he represented God to the people around him.

What was going on during the 1930's? What was there world like? Lets look at the fashions first and see how very fashionable Granddaddy and Grandmother were.

The fingerwave hair style like Grandmother had.




























































































































































































































































































































The 1930's were called the Golden Age of Hollywood. They still made movies and everyone that had a little leftover money went to the movies to escape the reality of their lives. They saw excitement, glamour, fashion and love at the movies. So many firsts happened in the 1930's. Howard Hughes started his movie empire with Hell's Angels featuring the blonde bombshell, Jean Harlowe. Greta Garbo, the Great Garbo, transferred to the talkies and spoke for the first time. Her gravelly, low voice was considered sexy. John Wayne debuted in 1930. The big stars like Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburne, Shirley Temple, etc all became household names. The Civil War was featured in Gone With The Wind which came out in 1939 along with the Wizard of Oz.


Now let's look at the economy and politics of the time.


















The Great Depression started after Black Tuesday, 10/29/1929, when the stockmarket crashed. It had been going gangbusters for awhile and people had decided to ride the stockmarket wave to wealth. People plowed all their savings into the stockmarket with the expectations that it would make them financially prosperous, if not wealthy. Many went beyond that and took out mortgages on their businesses and their homes to put the money in the stockmarket. But then it totally collapsed in one day...the whole house of cards! Everyone lost all the money invested in stocks. Savings were gone, home mortgages were called in by

their banks (who had invested in the stockmarket and could no longer carry the mortgages and had to have the money or go belly up themselves). Business loans were called in. If the owners didn't have the money to pay off their mortgages or business loans then the banks foreclosed and tried to auction the homes, farms, and businesses to make some money. But everyone had lost and no one had ready cash so they had no buyers. It didn't matter if you weren't behind on your payments, your mortgage was still called in by the banks because they needed the money to stay open. It got worse and worse in a downward spiral. Banks still closed and people who had money in them lost it all even though it wasn't in the stockmarket. Businesses had to close. This ended up in unemployment and homelessness. This photo is a bank auctioning off a once prosperous farm. Not too many people could afford to buy the property that was being auctioned off. My Dad's parents had bought a farm and only owed $300 and it would be free and clear of mortgage. He wasn't behind on his payments but the bank needed their money. They called in the mortgage and he would have lost his farm over that $300 except for a miracle. A friend of his offered to pay the $300 off and Papa would pay him back. It saved his farm and Papa and his 2 mules would hire out for .25/day (not per hour) in order to pay his friend back and he did. He never borrowed money from a bank again!

It began in the United States and quickly spread to Europe and every part of the world, with devastating effects in the industrialized countries. We might have recovered a little faster if it hadn't been for the severe drought that occurred in 1930.























A severe drought ravaged the agricultural heartland beginning in the summer of 1930. It created the Dust Bowl. It has an earlier start. We had overfarmed our nation over the years and many farmers didn't know how to build the soil back up. It became more and more depleted. We didn't have fertilizers like we do now and so many farmers weren't educated in land management. The cotton, grain, and corn farming across the nation depleted the soils.














































Here in SC, this resulted in poor red clay but in the midwest, the prairie lands that had once been grasslands, had been plowed and the soil depleted and then the winds came. This created the great dust storms. The topsoil was blown away, much of it into the Atlantic Ocean. This left farmers destitute with worthless lands and homes filled with sand. This led to a mass migration of families from Texas, Oklahoma (Okies) and Arkansas. They went west to California looking for temperate climate where they could stand to live in tents and shanties and looking for work in the fields as migrant workers. It would have done them little good to go North where it would have been too cold for them to live outdoors or South where it was too hot and poor (still recovering from the Civil War and the Reconstruction as well as it's own soil depletion which made us dirt poor). This is aptly depicted in the famous book, Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I hated that book because it was so depressing but that was the times too.



















































































































At the end of World War I, the American veterans had been promised a bonus to be given to them in 1945. This was before Social Security and I guess it was a way to help aging veterans. But the Great Depression had decended on the country and these veterans and their families were suffering and unemployed. They began to demand their bonus early. In 1932 it came to a head. The problem was the stockmarket crash had affected the government too. No jobs meant no income and therefore no taxes paid into government coffers. The government had not anticipated having to pay out the bonus early and did not have it. It would bankrupt the government during a time of economic crisis. So it became a "we against them" situation. The veterans began to congregate in Washington DC to protest and demand their bonuses. They raised a tent city called Hooverville (after President Hoover) on the marshy Anacostia flats. Veterans hitchhiked and rode the rails and rode in on tractors and trucks full of men. A lot of them had no homes now and they brought their families too. It began to get out of control. A tent city of poor people is going to get nasty fast and disease was a threat. The anger built and built.













































These men deserved their bonus, had been promised a bonus, had fought for their country and were desperate. And yet the government couldn't give in because it didn't have the money to give them and the tent city was becoming a real problem. Finally Hoover sent the army in to physically remove the protesters, the bonus army expedition. The 12th Infantry from Fort Howard, MD, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment under the command of Major George Patton, and under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur. Dwight D. Eisenhower was on General MacArthur's staff and didn't like what happened but couldn't do anything about it. The army had a conflicted time. They knew they were hurting veterans who had served in the world's greatest war, served their country. They knew THEY would be veterans one day. And yet, they are trained to obey their officers and do what needed to be done. It was hard for everyone concerned. The troops came in with tear gas, horses and bayonets, guns and fire. Hundreds of veterans were injured, several were killed and Hooverville was burned out.


































Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the Presidency from Herbert Hoover in 1933. He began to restructure the economy. For the poor, the farmers, the small business owners he was a savior during the worst time in American history. The South had suffered like this during and after the Civil War but this affected the entire world! He began by restructuring the banking system and Wall Street. Bank deposits are now insured by the FDIC up to a certain amount so that people would not lose all their savings by bank closings. He set minimum prices and minimum wages. He organized the Social Security Administration that we know today to protect the elderly, disabled and unemployed. He started the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and the WPA (Worker's Progress Administration) which were government projects that employed men for workers. They built infrastructures like roads, bridges, highways, public parks, dams, etc. To fund these programs he started an income tax. These were temporary organizations that were eventually fazed out as the economy got better. Slowly, the economy began to heal and jobs became available again. But it wasn't until World War II that we completely came out of the Great Depression. For America, we rebounded strongly due to the War. It employed men and built factories for the War effort. And we didn't fight on our shores so we didn't have the war ravages that Europe and the Pacific had. We weren't bombed out. So we rebounded first and then the rest of the world followed after the War. World War II started in December 1941.

Franklin Roosevelt lived until the last months of World War II and was our president for 3 presidencies. He had led us out of the Great Depression and through the greatest war that the world had ever seen, even bigger than World War I. People had depended on him for so long that when he died it affected our nation greatly. Many people mourned. He is the reason why my family were Democrats, staunch Democrats, until my generation. The Democratic Party has changed a lot since FDR.
























Unemployment lines.



























A shanty town in America! Can you believe it?




















































A tent city. Sometimes the car was all they had, it would take them from field to field for migrant farm work. Like a turtle with his home on his back, it was also their home. It was essential to have tires and gas and repairs or they couldn't move to find the migrant work.
























Soup lines in New York City.




















Soup line for children.




















A free food line in front of an ironic billboard.
























A shanty town on the outskirts of a town. Look carefully at how small they were and yet whole families lived in them. Remember there wasn't birth control back then so families had lots of children and many children died. It was a fact of life back then that we aren't used to now.






























I've seen many rural shacks like this even when I was a girl in the 1960's. Haven't seen it too much since then. I remember seeing the pigs and chickens in the yards. You didn't have yards to mow because the animals ate what you didn't. It's what you call "dirt poor". No running water meant no bathrooms in these houses. Personal hygiene was bad because they didn't have indoor bathrooms and baths.


















Many families lived without shoes for their feet, coats or clothes. They had to make do with what they could find. This was the time that you cut the buttons off your clothes and carefully pulled the threads out and saved the buttons and thread to be used for the next outfit. You used any ragged material left over for rags to make quilts, rag rugs and cleaning rags. That left little to "give away" to charity like we do today.





































A shanty town home. And these shacks weren't unusual. Either their men were dead, dying, disabled, or abandoned their families or simply couldn't even scrounge materials to build a decent shelter. Sometimes this left women trying to provide for their children. They didn't have the strength, know how or time to build better than this. Many 3rd world nations live like this today but few Americans have to live like this. There are homeless people and it's bad like this for them. But it's not widespread like it was during the Great Depression.



























Many men were unemployed and homeless. The single men often traveled looking for work. They couldn't afford to pay for a railroad ticket so they would hop the trains and try to get a free ride. They would camp near the railroad tracks. These men would become known as hobos riding the rails. Many were naturally transient men who would move around no matter what the economy but there were many who had no other options. But the railroad companies didn't like to encourage the hobos and their free rides. So many would employ men to bounce the men off the trains.















This gave these men jobs and they had to do what they had to do to keep their jobs or they would be homeless and their families would do without. But this kind of work attracted the worst men and they could be brutal, often beating and killing men.


Stan had a great uncle that rode the rails during this time period. He was well educated but he liked the road and he chose transiency above staying at home and working at the mill. Stan's mother remembers when he would ride in on the train and walk to her grandmother's house (close to the tracks). She said he would drink his coffee straight from the coffee pot spout. He could have stayed at home and been fine but he didn't want to.















































































































































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