Watch out, little Dude!

…so the priestly men headed back to their homeland of Persia, leaving Josh with his mom & dad in Bethlehem. Does that worry you? (If you recall, from the last post King Herod was up to his nasty shenanigans… so it should!)

But, remember, Josh was (uh… IS) a big deal. And his true father totally had Josh’s back. Don’t forget, God knew how to bend  the ear of Josh’s earthly dad, Joseph. (like back when the angel told him that Mary wasn’t a cheater…) So, God hit Joseph up in a dream again.

The Angel said, “Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill  him.”

Totally on point, by the way. Because as mentioned in the prior post, Herod DID try to kill Josh. But Josh and his small family had already fled to Egypt. And stayed there safe and sound for many years…  

Do me a favor.  Take a breath. Sit back and slowly release it. Allow yourself some time with this historical account. It really is quite incredible.

Prophecies being fulfilled. Men traveling thousands of miles to honor this newly born king. Angels talking to people. A crazy king slaughtering an entire town of babies… not to mention a pregnant virgin.

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your brain around this account, you’re not alone. At one time, I did too!

Because… IF it was all true, I would’ve had to believe that:

  • God talks to US (people) through prophets and angels.

  • Josh is a truly unique being.

  • Josh was sent to this earth by God.

  • God had this event planned since time on earth began.

Although I know what I’ve uncovered, I can’t decide for you if you believe Josh’s story.  I can tell you there have been many scholars who have tried to disprove Josh’s story, but rather than debunking the myth, they became believers. (Here’s a website that summarize a few of these scholars.)

I can also tell you the old info highway is littered with nuggets leading to Josh.

Therefore, if you’re feeling skeptical, I’d really encourage you to do your own investigation! What you find might really surprise you.

truth

Today’s verses can be found here: Matthew 2:13-18

(P.S. Here are a few really good books I recommend)

  1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  2. BUSTED by Fred von Kamecke
  3. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

 

 

Prophecies, Preists, and Kings (oh my!)

So remember how we were just talking about prophecy? Well, dang-it-all-if we don’t start off the next chapter of Josh’s story with another full-on prediction that had been told by another prophet.

Want to see that mind-blowing prophecy? Go ahead and take a read  here!

You see Josh was born in Bethlehem. And it wasn’t like his mother and father could have prearranged this just to fulfill a prophecy. When Mary became pregnant, they had NO CLUE they were going to end up in Bethlehem. But the stars aligned (oh, BTW, quite literally), and the government chose that for them.

Here’s how Luke told it to us:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.

But there’s more to the story. You see a few priestly men from far away also knew of this prophecy. (Which in itself is pretty cool, because they weren’t even of the Jewish faith.)  And, yet, they followed a star  across the lands (Dude we’re talking from Persia to Bethlehem which was over a thousand miles… on camel!)

So, yeah, it was a BIG DEAL to them.

The first person they visited was the ruling, hometown king. Makes sense, right? I mean if a prophesized king was about to be born, you’d probably visit the ruling king to check up on the big event.

But Matt tells us that the king was disturbed. And so were all the townsfolk.

‘Cuz if the king aint happy, aint nobody happy.

 

No doubt.. the king had issues.

Maybe he’d been bullied as a child. Maybe his undergarments were cinched up a little too tight. Most definitely he felt threatened. As a matter of fact, he tried to trick the priests into telling him where the baby was. (which is super-ludicrous, because if he knew his own religious scripture, he could have figured it out himself!)  He claimed he wanted to worship this royal babe. But in truth? He had some devious plans in mind for this little king.

But the priests from Persia were warned of this in a dream, and so after visiting Josh, they bolted.

Which totally ticked off the king and he did a horrible, horrible thing….

He had every child in Bethlehem under two years old killed.

Let that sink in. Cuz’ its a big deal. And it sucks. (Here’s a historical write-up on the evils of King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.)

By they way… King Herod’s atrocities.. another prophecy. NOT because God wanted it to happen, simply because God KNEW it would happen. Read the prophecy here.

Whew! This story is really ramping up! (and we haven’t even met Josh yet.)

Yeah. He’s a big deal… Keep reading. You’ll want to know why!!

And here’s  today’s corresponding text in the Gospel of Matthew.

 

 

 

 

The Future…

Hmmm… Prophet. Now, there’s a term that rolls off the tongue on a daily basis…

or,  Not  LOL.

In the early days of the Jewish nation of Israel, however, prophets were pretty prevelant. (Some even have their own books in the bible!)

So who were they? Fortune tellers? Apocalypse predictors? Wha???

A prophet was actually a gifted person whom God would use as his mouthpiece to talk to the  nation of Israel. Sometimes the prophets would tell the nation (or individuals) that God wasn’t happy with their ways. But, sometimes, they would share God’s delight! And, sometimes they would drop nuggets of future events, yet to happen. What they told the people, however, was pretty dependent upon what God wanted to share. Not, necessarily what the people wanted to hear.

Some of the biggie prophets of the bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel & Daniel.

So, for thousands of years, one of the futuristic nuggets the Prophets foretold was of The One coming to save the nation of Israel. That usually excited folks and these prophecies are sprinkled throughout the old testament. Sometimes being separated by hundreds of years. Here’s the kicker…

JOSH FUFILLED EVERY SINGLE PROPHECY.

Let that sink in, because it is a VERY big deal. I mean if someone would have come to me when I was a single woman and said,

“Your husband will be six feet tall. He will be born and raised in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook. He will work in the family business. He will have one brother. He will be 37 years old when you meet. He will have had no wife or children before you.”

I might have laughed.

BUT, when I met him and found every single one of those predictions was true… the very moment he uttered, “I want to marry you,” I probably would have fainted. (In real life, I giggled…sorry)

So, yeah. Having every single prophecy line up for Josh was a BIG DEAL.

Back to the story… Joseph went to sleep that night (after Mary dropped da bomb), do you know what the angel told him?

“Everything the prophets have foretold over the last millennia is about to happen! Through you and your fiancé!”

A virgin is pregnant! And she’s going to give birth to a son. And he will be called The Christ. (AKA, the anointed one, AKA the messiah, AKA God with us)

Bing! Bing! Bing!

Image result for ringing

That’s why Joseph didn’t divorce Mary. (I know.. you wanted to think he was just a nice guy, right? Well… he probably was that, too.)

So, now all is well in Josh’s family. Mom and Dad get married without a care, and a year later are bouncing baby Josh on their knee and saving for his college fund…

Nah.

Stay tuned.

BTW, you can find today’s scripture  here.

Nitey-nite….sleep tight!

Quick recap: Josh’s Mom (Mary) just dropped a pretty big bomb on her fiancé, Joseph: She’s pregnant (with Josh) and Joseph’s not the biological father.

We don’t know a ton of stuff about Mary’s background, but it is safe to assume that she was a forthright gal. After all, God had chosen her out of all of the women throughout history to be the mother of Josh.

Click here to read the amazing words of thanksgiving she gave to God for the high honor of becoming an unwed mom…

However, although Josh’s Mom was on board with this pregnancy, Joseph was still pretty upset when he headed for bed that night. And, truly that would probably be natural reaction for any dude–even in today’s loosie-goosey culture! But, the culture of Josh’s era frowned even a little deeper with out-of-wedlock pregnancies. And, because Joseph knew he hadn’t been with Mary, there was only one natural conclusion… She’d been with another man.

Arrgggghhhh! The wedding is off!

Well, actually, it was more like, “I want a divorce!”

In the culture of Josh’s day, engagement was a pretty binding contract. During engagement, although, the marriage papers had been drawn, signed and sealed, the ‘wife’ remained in her parents house and waited for her groom to come receive her to their new home. (Sometimes it would be months until that happened.) When he came for her, there would be a huge celebration (Dude, these mega-parties often lasted an entire week!) But finally, when the last sparkle of glitter and nugget of confetti had swept from the streets and Uncle so-and-so finally relinquished his wine glass, the husband and wife would go to their new home, to ‘be’ together.

I picture Mary sharing the news of her pregnancy with Joseph.. tears of joy in her eyes as she tells her devout husband-to-be that the Holy Spirit has placed a baby in her womb. Did Joseph square his shoulders and point to the door? Did he pace the room ranting while she cowered in the corner? Did he simply shake his head in disapproval and turn his back? Feel free to use your own imagination to fill in the gaps. What we DO know is that when he went to sleep that night, it was Joseph’s turn to be visited by angel.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

     …that’s what the angel said.

I’m figuring Joseph must have been a pretty devout man of God. Otherwise, he may have simply dismissed the dream as nothing more than a too few many pickled fish before bed.

So, ya. Joseph was a good guy.

But there’s more!

You see, the cool thing is that because Josh is actually son of God AND son of a human being, he has more than one set of parents for us to consider. And knowing his parents’ stories, helps us to start to put together a picture of Josh.

  • He has his human parents, Mary and (adopted by) Joseph.
  • He has his heavenly parent… God the Father.
  • His human parents were committed to one another and to God.
  • His human parents paid heed to God’s messages.
  • He was divinely fashioned by God in a way that had never been done before (or has been done since!

Next Friday…  the birthday boy makes his appearance.

If you’d like to follow along in the Gospel of Matthew, here are the verse we covered today.

Meet the Parents!

So… we made it through Josh’s ancestral line. Now His story begins, right?!

Almost…

Soon…

First. Let’s meet the parents!  After all, I’d say that the P’s are a pretty good barometer of a person’s character. Were they kind and loving? Honest and upright? I mean, seriously, I’d like to know if Josh has trust issues… or worse! So, yeah, let’s meet mom and dad…

Mom was pretty young when she became pregnant with Josh. And, well… she wasn’t exactly married. I mean, she was engaged, so she was almost married, but, no. Not married. …

Also, Mary (Josh’s Mom) hadn’t actually been with a man yet. (Aka, she hadn’t had relations.)

(man) + (woman) = baby… right?

mmm… most of the time, yes.

Ever watched those weird medical shows that highlight rare  medical anomalies? I remember on in particular about a woman arriving to the ER with a bad stomach ache, only to find out she was pregnant.. and delivering her baby! all the while claiming, “I didn’t even know I was pregnant!” Just to be clear,  that’s NOT what we’re talking about with Josh’s Mom… so keep that in mind.

Here’s the incredible difference with Josh’s mom. God placed Josh into his Mom’s womb through His Holy Spirit

Yep. Go ahead and take a moment with that. It’s a big deal.

And, while you’re brain explodes with all kinds of logic and reasoning, here are some other mind-blowing concepts to kick around:

Each corresponding Wikipedia page is linked for your reading pleasure. And, hey, if you’re in a really investigative mood,  why don’t you see how many, miraculous, but beautifully natural oddities, you can come up with on your own!

miraculous….

Anyone with two eyes and a brain can attest to the fact that there are some pretty incredible things in life all around us. Some stuff scientists have been able to unlock and explain in a manner we can accept (aka, the above cool things). But, even before we were able to click on a Wikipedia link (or sit through a science class) and unravel some of nature’s hidden mysteries, the above truths were still valid. In other words, their validity didn’t change just because we figured them out. Rather, our understanding or perception of those things changed. Yes… even back when the earth was… ahem.. flat.
Are you willing to accept a truth that may not be explainable in our perception of nature today?  if your answer is, “Absolutely not!” then you might have a hard time with the rest of Josh’s story. (But you’re still welcome, and I encourage you, to stalk him through this blog!)
If you’re hesitant but wiling to entertain the idea that maybe we can’t explain EVERYTHING we see today, I say, “great!” Keep reading.
And, of course, If you get it and are willing to open up your mind to some of the mysteries of heaven, then my friend considered yourself blessed!

Now, back to the story.

If your immediate reaction toward Josh’s mom’s pregnancy was, “no way!” you weren’t alone. You see, her fiancé, Joseph, had the same reaction. BUT, he was a nice guy, so rather than have her stoned (yes, that was actually a thing back then), he decided he would quietly call off the wedding.
Until his dream, that is….
And that’s where we’ll pick up next week.
The scriptures corresponding to this blog post can be found in the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, verses 18, 19. And if you need a bible to follow along, just click here!

See you next Friday!

 

 

14 Kings?

My first order of stalking… gather info from Josh’s friends.

In my (almost) decade and half since knowing Josh, I’ve learned much of what I know about him by listening to his comrades–you know, the guys who did time with him in the foxholes. Their accounts are solid and say pretty much the same thing, so they validate one another. For the sake of introducing you to Josh, however, I’m going to stick with the testimony of his buddy, Matt. Like some of Josh’s friends, Matt also been a “Josh-disser” at one time… I guess, kind of like me.

The first thing Matt shared about Josh was his family line. I mean, he schooled me in a serious  Ancestry dot com kind of way.

And, hey, I’ll admit, I’ve done a bit of where-did-I-come-from-surfing on that website as well.

BTW, I’ve been able to go as far back as my great, great, grandparents (that’s five generations!) and have learned that I came from… well, pretty much poverty in the hills of Eastern United States. No monarchs in my history that we know of. No stately commanders in the British army or wealthy barons. So, I’m not a very big deal.

I mean, it’s fun to learn about our roots, right? Yet, sitting through an Ancestry.com Power Point of a total stranger… meh. Not quite as fun. In all honesty,  when Matt first tried to talk to me about Josh’s roots and lineage, I was like,

“Blah, blah, blah. Just give me the good stuff, Matt.”

But I did listen.

And, now all I can say is,

“Wow.”

Matt taught me that Josh’s lineage had been traced back 42 generations.

Dude.

Seriously? (My five looks pretty paltry now.)

Please don’t allow my casual lingo encourage you to think that Josh is just a made-up guy and, his story an old fable. Not only is this ancestral line awesome, it also TRUE.

Historians, as well as the friends of Josh, all testify to his authenticity. These testimonies were put together with many other historical documents and compiled into what we read today as the Bible. The crazy thing is that anyone who doesn’t know Josh might cringe a little bit when they hear the word “Bible” referenced. I have to admit, before I read it, I also thought it was just a bunch of malarkey (or worse.)

But, stalking is believing.

So, do you want to know who else was in Josh’s ancestral line? Well, the first person Matt knew of in Josh’s family line was Abraham. This is the guy who every Jew today originally came from. (Did I mention that Josh has Jewish blood? If not, beg my pardon. Josh was born into a Jewish family.)

Another fun fact is that unlike this poor hillbilly gal, Josh came from a royal line. Fourteen generations of Kings, as a matter of fact.  (I mean seriously, how many of us can lay claim to that?)

Anyway, as impressive as that sounds, Josh’s lineage also had its share of not-so-stately folks. Murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, and plain old folks whose moral compass wasn’t always pointing toward the divine.

Maybe that’s what makes him so incredibly cool. AND, not only that, because I was able to read the stories of how the lives of many of his ancestors played out in real time, I really cared about the people who contributed to Josh’s physical genetic makeup.

Food for thought: I wonder what each of those folks would have thought if they knew they were going to be included in the awesome story of Josh? I mean, unlike reality TV, they didn’t know they were being filmed. I wonder if they would have lived their lives differently if they’d known their stories were going to be broadcast to hundreds of generations?

Well, that’s as much as I’m going to divulge about Josh today. If you want to read along, and comment as we go, feel free! Me (and Josh) encourage it!

We’re in the Gospel of Matthew. The verses we just covered are in Chapter 1, verses 1-16.  I’ll be back next Friday with more background info on Josh.

Hope to see you then!!

P.S. If you’d l like to follow along in the reading, but don’t have a bible, no worries!! Just click on this link.

P.S.S. If you’re just tuning in to this blog, I recommend heading back to the first post titled, “What’s in a Name?” and following from there.

 

What’s in a name?

I am Viv. My son is Viv.

Well, not really. My son’s name is Michael and my name is Heather. But we call each other Viv.

All of the time.

So, here’s how it happened. Viv (aka Mike) was born Michael Spencer. Which, by the time he was old enough to walk, progressed into Mikey. And when Mikey and I laughed and had fun together in his toddler years, I would cry out “I love you, Bubby-Boo.” Naturally, after several hundred times of declaring him my Bubby-Boo, the name evolved.

Into Bubby. 05229d0763b68f607fe6c4be7dc9909b7b401394e36456f6521110fad262312d

And then Bub.

And, Bub stuck. Through his grade school and high school years, to me he was Bub.

But as you know, in college everything changes.

I was tired and mumbling my words when I picked up my phone that day. Maybe I’d just woken up, when he called. Not sure. What I do remember, however, is that my lips and tongue weren’t at peak state of operation. I sort of mumble-slurred, “Hey Bub.”

“Um, did you just call me Viv?” He asked.

Viv?” I laughed. “No, I said Bub.”

“Oh. Okay, Viv.” he answered.

“No really, Viv. I said Bub.” I assured him.

We sparred like that for a few more minutes before moving on to our conversation. However, from that day forward, I became Viv. And so did he.

Is he still Michael Spencer? Of course. And if I ever get mad enough at him, I might just call him that. (Probably not, however, because now he is a grown man and so when I’m REALLY mad, I call him Vivian.)

Name progressions. They happen all the time.

Josh was no different. His name originally began as Yehoshua. (Seriously, a very close match to the name Joshua, right?) Over time, His name (of Hebrew origin) was shortened to Yeshua. Later, when  folks of other tongues (specifically Greeks), began to dialog about him, Yeshua was loosely translated to Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous). From Greek, it was translated into Latin. And finally to English to become Jesus.  (For you etymology freaks–like me– here’s the link to an unabridged version of the name progression.)

I’m not really sure what his Mom called little Yehoshua when he was running around underfoot. Hosh? Hoshy? Boo-boo?  Little Boo? I can guarantee you one thing. She didn’t call him Jesus. (Ehem… she didn’t speak English.)

To me… He’s Josh. Do I find that to be irreverent? Probably no more so than calling him Jesus, IMHO.

I know that many, many painful things in this world have been done while wrongly using the name of Jesus. (He’ll discuss that with the offenders at another time.)

However, regardless of what some misguided hearts have done (in his name) over the years, Josh hasn’t changed. He’s still the greatest man in history. And my friend.

I really want to introduce you to him. And, like I said in the previous post, He’s been asking about you.

On  Friday, we’re going to begin the journey of diving into some text that will help round out the picture of Josh. Allow you see who he REALLY is, so you can decide if you want to befriend him.

Can you lay down your preconceived notions of Jesus and allow me to offer a proper introduction to Josh?

I hope so!!

See you Friday.

s875940929888323360_p8_i6_w425