Monday, December 17, 2012

Life Lessons from Joseph & Mary

The month of December is one of my favorite times of the year. Our days will be filled with Christmas events which will include family, friends and food, and, yes, gifts!  All of our gifts will appreciated but some will be returned because of wrong size, color or we already have one. But my most valuable gift of this month will return but not be returned by me! What gift might that be? The gift of The Lord Jesus Christ, for one day He will return to my world!

As I think of this gift my mind goes to the scriptures. They are my point of reference as to His life story. They give information about His birth, ministry and purpose. In December I always read His birth story.

As I read the birth story this month in Matthew 1:18-25 many thoughts filled my mind as I pondered the story. Mathew writes the following (King James Version):

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 

The word 'found' gives the thought that the promise was true. The promise was wonderful but it also brought problems.

Who found it? Mary found out first. It must have created great emotion tension within her mind and heart. The rubbing together of opposite forces and thoughts always creates heat. The forces, that is the Spirit and flesh, have meet. She is pregnant! She being used by her LORD yet her lifelong dream is about to be destroyed, that is, her marriage to Joseph. Will he believe my story? Will he  think I'm lying? I must  also protect his reputation and let others know that he has not violated me neither failed as an honorable man and kept himself. Will others believe that he is just?

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 

Joseph found out second! Her story brings clouds of doubt and despair to his mind! What action should he take? Joseph is a man of high character. He is described as just. His emotions run wild! They stumble over the logic of how conception happens! Her story seems impossible. She must be lying. His own self esteem is being attacked! I'm not good enough to keep her from desiring other men. Yet her character weighs in and tries to balance the accusations of his logical mind. He comes up with a plan. I will put her away. I will take it on the chin! I will move forward.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

He placed Mary on trial in his mind as he tried to sleep. He tossed and turned. What shall I do? His analytical mind spoke the impossibility of her story. Reasoning cross examined the story. No way! Then to her defense her character took the stand and spoke. She's always been honest and true. But she is pregnant! Why did she give such an illogical reason for how it happened? Wouldn't had been better for her to say she had been violated by one of the Romans soldiers? He would have felt the emotions of anger and hatred toward his oppressor for their abuse of such an helpless one as Mary. This would have caused him to feel compassion and concern for Mary! Yet her story was impossible to believe! He finally fell asleep!

In middle of the night the door opened in the court room that played in his head. An angelic being walked in and spoke with the defense counsel! The creature was sworn in and Joseph found out who it was: The Angel of the LORD! With a calm confident voice the angle spoke! He turned and look at Joseph. Mary has been overshadowed by the Spirit of God! God is using her to bring the Savior of the world into physical being! She has been faithful to you! She is telling the truth!

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 

Now Matthew interject his interpretation to the reader as to why the story has to be true! It is a fulfillment of a promise of scripture spoken by the prophet Isaiah (7:14)! God always completes His promises! The Word is always fulfilled!

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. 

Joseph awakens and sits up in his bed! The cloud of confusion and depression has been blown away by the Spirit! He has direction and  confidence! He will continue with the marriage! He understands that not only has Mary been chosen but also he has been chosen to protect, provide and prepare the child to be the Savior of  the World!

His understanding of God's purpose for Mary and himself causes him to discipline himself and not allow his flesh to rule! Even though married he will keep himself from her! God's will must rule everything!

When asked after the birth what is your son's name? He continues to obey the angel and speaks loudly for all to hear: Jesus, Jehovah has become salvation!

What lessons do I learn from my Christmas reading of 2012?

The first one is that it is important to have the Holy Ghost overshadow you. When the Holy Ghost is within it will impregnate you with your purpose for existence. You must allow this revelation to grow within your being and push it to the forefront of your life! It must come to be known to all!

Secondly what God places in your life might not be understood by others. They might have other plans for you and the birth of God's dreams clash! It is lonely when you are trying to do the will of God!

Thirdly, we must understand that disciples disciple themselves. We must disciple ourselves to daily spend time in prayer and His word. You cannot live your life in a fleshly state and expect to be anointed by the Spirit! Remember that God's Spirit is the Holy Spirit! The adjective of Holy was the primary word that the New Testament writers used to describe characteristic of the Spirit. What is Holy or hágios? It means properly, different (unlike), other ("otherness"). It also implies something "set apart" and therefore "different (distinguished/distinct)" – i.e. "other," because special to The Lord ( Since the Spirit is Holy then if the Spirit is to operate through our lives then we must continually be striving to live a different and distinct life from the other lives and influences of this world (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

Fourthly, we must be as Joseph and obey what is spoken to us. Verse 24 states that Joseph "did" as the angel of The Lord bid him. Obedience to God's Word is a must to receive our blessing! Yet obedience was not a one time act, for Joseph took Mary as his wife in obedience to the angel yet he continued to obey and pronounced that the name of his son was Jesus as instructed. We must be continually obedient to the will of God throughout all of our lives if we are to see salvation come to the world though us!

Yes, Christmas is a time of gifts but understand the greatest joy is in the giving of a gift not the receiving of a gift! The best gift you can give to your world this Christmas is the gift that God has given to you, that is, share with someone the story of how the Holy Ghost has overshadowed your life and changed your world!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Life Story of My Mother

My mother, Imogene Wilmoth, entered into eternal life at the age of 81 years, 10 months 20 days. She resided in her "little mansion" at The Pines Mobile Home Park at 6746 Tam O Shanter Avenue Space 69 in Stockton, CA. She passed from this life on December 4, 2012 at Elk Grove, CA after a brief vicious battle with cancer.

She was born at Paragould, AR on January 14, 1931 to Fred and Bertha Kieffner. She was named by her oldest brother Edwin who decided on her name because a neighborhood girlfriend was named Imogene. She the ninth of 11 children. Seven brothers and three sisters. She was the baby of the four girls.

Her home was filled with the love of a wonderful mother and work ethic of her farmer father. Her older brothers would laugh and fight while her sisters would baby her. Her outgoing personality at times would help to evade her parents’ correction. When she failed to get them to laugh she would run and hide in the tree outside the house to avoid the switch of her mother.

As a girl she was expected to wash dishes, feed the chickens, and clean the house. Her most despised chore was chopping the long rows of cotton in the heat of summer. She said that the hot and humid Missouri sun seemed to create a mirage of eternal cotton rows.

As a young girl she had many favorite things such as the book, Little Women, the Christmas Holidays, and spending time at Paragould Park, wading in the creek. School was an opportunity to study history which proved to be her favorite subject along with making friends like Norma Jewel Buck. Being from Arkansas she was fond of all types of southern food but pork chops topped the list.

When asked what her parents taught her she began with the values instilled into her by her father. This included: to obey others, be honest, work hard, have commitment, be zealous for life, and be a lady with respect. Her mother taught her, to be kind to others, always be myself, respect my elders, feel free to ask and then you will receive.

The love of her father, she said, gave her security, the sense that he will always take care of me. She loved that her mother was loving and kind. She always appreciated her mom’s trustworthiness as she could confide in her and know that the secrets were safe.

School was a wonderful place for her. A place to be surrounded by people! As a young girl she loved playing sports, especially basketball since she was naturally tall. She was a natural at acting in dramas. She had no problem with speaking her lines and getting in character.

It was at Arbyrd High that she met the love of her life Buel Wilmoth. This handsome young man who was extremely athletic caused her heart to skip! They were both 18 years old when they were married on May 28 1949 at 11:30 AM in Paragould Arkansas. Her dreams were fulfilled as he lifted her and carried her over the thresh hold of the little rented house.

The Korean War was approaching and Buel joined the Marines. After Boot Camp they were stationed at different bases from Florida to Southern California. At the conclusion of his time of service they moved to Flint Michigan joining two of her sister's families looking for auto factory work.

They found work but she found something more! She found another love, The Lord Jesus Christ! Her sister's, Ona and Daisy, and her brother in law Harold Ruff led her to their church. South Flint Tabernacle became a home away from home. Here she was baptized in Jesus name and received the gift of the Holy Ghost in 1954. This experience marked her life! It would become her tower of strength in times of heart ache.

Faithfully she attended becoming involved in many area of serving. From singing soprano in the choir to cooking chicken dinners. But the one area that she loved most was in ministering to children. Here her love for acting motivated her to help direct in the children's Christmas Dramas. Her outgoing personality caused her to be able to hold the attention of her Sunday school students. She was very demonstrative in her teaching. Her love for the children was so great that she would awake at night to write songs for her class, such as "We are the Pentecostal Children".

After a life changing divorce she began to work on her education. She attended the following schools: Victor Business School and Dempsey Key Punch. She needed to provide for her children. This love for education led her to enter into C.S. Mott College in her late 30's. It did not matter that she was the oldest in the class, she wanted to excel. Her desire was to be a teacher and the goal was met as she began to teach at C.S. Mott College.

She moved to California at the age of 52. Her son, BJ and daughter Rhonda had moved to there to go to college. She would say to all that like Huck Finn "I've come to California to see what the world about"! Here she started over, looking for work. She was aggressive when looking for job and seemed to always find something very interesting. She worked as a hostess at a hunting club in the San Joaquin Delta where she met individuals such as Baron Hilton of Hilton Hotels. A freak winter storm caused the island to become a covered with water. This led to her finding employment as the private cook of Charles Berolzheimer the owner of California Cedar Products Company (Cal Cedar) the world's largest supplier of wooden slats used in the production of wood-cased pencils and the developer of the Duraflame log. Her job allowed her to be paid year around but only to work 9 months of the year. It seemed perfect for her but after a few years she grew bored and desired other work. She took the needed test and became an employee of the State of California. She continued to reach back to her past and became a teacher again for the California Youth Authorities. This was the position she retired at.

In retirement her grandchildren became the center of her attention. Her home was a place where they would come to always knowing that "Grams" would allow you to get away with murder. Eddie's Pizza was always delivering to her door. At Grams you would be able to lie in bed and eat chips never having to worrying that you would get in trouble for it. In fact she became an accomplice with you in your crime by getting her own bowl, filling it with chips and munching right beside you in the bed .

Chocolate was important to her and her family. She would make "Chocolate Pizza and Chocolate gravy"! The grandchild would beg her to make her world class "Chocolate Rolls" that her mother had taught to her to make. These special deserts would satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.

There were special times when she would covered her hands with lotion to rub your feet so you could relax. She would also sit you at her feet and slowing she would rub your head and face. At the same time she would be saying: "Swish, Swish making sounds of waves of the ocean! She would say: “The waves come in and the waves go out, Swish! She was rewarded when you fell asleep!

One of her dreams was to take her total family on a cruise. This dream became a reality in 2005 when she paid all eleven to go spend three days together, laughing and eating!

As her journey of life came to a close she began to feel physical pain. Her last two months were months of extreme pain! Yet as her pain would reach its climax she would call on the name of Jesus! Her faith in Him helped her to cope as she entered into eternal life.

She is survived by her sisters Ona Ruff of Forrest City, AR and Daisy Young of Grand Blanc, MI. Her last surviving brother is Bobby Kieffner of Newport, AR.

She has two children, by her husband Buel Wilmoth. The children are son BJ Wilmoth who is married to Michelle, and daughter Rhonda Castaneto who is married to Arthur.

Here grandchildren are:
Brandon and Rachael Wilmoth of Redlands, CA.
Derrick and Alyssa Wilmoth of Redlands CA.
Todd and Courtney Wilmoth of Riverside CA.
Stepheny and Eric Weisz of Lodi, CA
Chelsea Castaneto of Long Beach, CA and
AJ Castaneto of Lodi, CA.

She has also been blessed to have five great grand children:
Brenden Wilmoth of Redlands, CA
Larissa Wilmoth of Redlands, CA
Luke Wilmoth of Redlands, CA
Audery Wilmoth of Redlands, CA and
Shiloh Wilmoth of Riverside CA.

She has been a wonder daughter, special sister, loving aunt, faithful mother, and caring grandmother and great grandmother. I honor her today!