Friday, January 30, 2009

A Gift Freely Given

One day as I found myself adrift,
A stranger gave me a wonderful gift.
Deeply indebted, I thought myself to be,
After all, that lovely gift certainly wasn’t free.

Experience had taught me in the past,
To repay my debts, or I would be harassed.
Right away, I embarked on a mission and a quest,
To repay my benefactor, and get some guilt off my chest.

I was in a quandary, and I began to fret,
As I desperately tried to repay my debt.
But this gift was different you see,
It wasn’t borrowed. It was entirely free.

The freely given gift I thought the world of,
It was given to me through an act of love.
I had a gift which I couldn’t buy or sell or trade,
It was something that could never be repaid.

If I could return the favor, my spirits would surely lift,
But alas, I was forever indebted for that freely given gift.
What was that wonderful gift, you ask,
What was the gift I could never repay?

My life of sin carried a sentence of death you see,
But a man called Christ gave His very life for me.
The judgment against me had been mercifully waived,
The sinless Christ had provided a way for me to be saved.

Because of his love, I am no longer adrift;
And I’m forever indebted for His freely given gift.
What can I do, now that I’m forgiven,
To repay my Christ for His gift so freely given?

I can share the good news to others who are adrift;
So they too can accept Him, and receive the gift that is freely given.

Larry Tate
January 30, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Existence of God

For many great details on this subject look at the books entitled, Conversations With A Stranger: A Search for God, by Larry Tate. More information can be found at

Do you ever wonder if God truly exists? Even the most secure Christian may have days when he wonders about the existence of God. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could see God at least once, and have a face-to-face communication with him? Is there anything other than blind faith that can bolster a person’s belief that God does in fact, exist?

First and foremost, faith in the unseen God is of utmost importance. Faith has no equal. Faith is the prerequisite to a walk with God, and is necessary for salvation. With that aside, are there any proofs of God’s existence? Yes, there are many; some of which will be described in this blog. Many men have attempted to prove God’s existence. A few of them are, Blaise Pascal, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury, St. Augustine, Rene Descartes, Avicenna and William Paley.

After examining these proofs, you should obtain the book, Conversations with a Stranger: A Search for God, written by Larry Tate. A good number of proofs about God’s existence are combined into one entertaining and easy-to-read novel about a man’s mission to find out for himself if God truly exists. He eventually finds the evidence he is looking for, but he does not find it where he was expecting to find it. Go to for more information on this enlightening and entertaining book.

Blaise Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher in the 1600’s. His probability theory laid the basis for modern economics and social science.

Blaise Pascal is known for Pascal’s Wager or Pascal’s Gambit. His wager theory is not an actual proof of God’s existence. However after analyzing it, a person has little choice but to live out one’s life as though God does in fact exist.

This simple wager scenario can have a life-changing effect on anyone who honestly studies it. Pascal posed the suggestion that even if a person discards all proofs of God’s existence, he should still live his life as though God does in fact, exist. Why is that? According to Pascal, living one’s life as though God exists has everything to gain, and absolutely nothing to lose. On the other hand, living one’s life as though God does not exist has nothing to gain, and absolutely everything to lose.

It is in Pascal’s Pensees that his wager is detailed. His wager is for all of those who trust neither in faith nor in the logic of reason. Pascal is widely known for the following quote: For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, and all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.

Pascal did not expect that acceptance of his wager would result in faith, or in salvation. Instead, he expected that acceptance of his wager to result in the beginnings of faith. He wrote, You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed.

And now, for Pascal’s Wager

God either exists, or He does not exist. This is a fact that cannot be refuted. Every person on the face of the earth is forced to make a wager in life. They must live their lives as though God does exist, or they must live their lives as though God does not exist. It is an absolute impossibility not to make this wager. All of the so-called proofs of God’s existence are in the realm of theory, which cannot be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. Since reason alone cannot decide the question of God’s existence, one must place a wager on his existence.

The facts are that God exists or he does not exist. And, a person must live his life as though God exists, or as though God does not exist.

Scenario Number One: God does exist.
If a person lives his life as though God exists, and God does in fact, exist, then that person has everything to gain. Eternal life in heaven with God will be the reward. On the other hand, if a person lives his life as though God does not exist, and God does in fact, exist, then that person has everything to lose. Eternal existence in hell will be the punishment.

Scenario Number Two: God does not exist.
If a person lives his life as though God exists, but God does not actually exist, then that person has nothing to gain and nothing to lose. When death overtakes that person, he will simply cease to exist. On the other hand, if a person lives his life as though God does not exist, and God actually does not exit, then that person still has nothing to gain and nothing to lose. When death overtakes that person, he will simply cease to exist.

Below is another way to view this wager for those who would rather see a depiction of it in table-form.

God does exist God does not exist

Living life as if God exists: Reward is Heaven No reward

Living life as if God does not exist: Reward is Hell No reward

Life’s wager has only three possible outcomes: depending on the person’s choice, he will either 1) have an eternal reward, 2) have an eternal punishment, or 3) simply cease to exist. We are left with one startling revelation. There is only one positive outcome associated with the wager of life.

Imagine a person walking up to a game at a casino. Before he makes a bet, the casino employee says, “There are only two bets in this game. You can bet on Red, or you can bet on Black. If you bet on Red, you will either win a fabulous reward, or you will break even. On the other hand, if you bet on Black, you will either lose everything, or you will break even.” The bettor would be a fool to bet on Black because there is absolutely no chance of winning. Red would be the only bet that has any chance of winning. It is the same with the wager of life. There is only one wager with a positive outcome, living life as though God does exist!

If you are a living and breathing person, you are making a wager on your life. You are either living as though God exists, or you are living as though God does not exist. There are no other choices. There is only one positive outcome available for your wager. Which wager are you making on your life?

For an easy-to-understand depiction of this wager scenario, along with other proofs of God’s existence, read my book, Conversations with a Stranger: A Search for God.

The Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas’

St. Thomas Aquinas was a Christian philosopher in the 1200’s. He is known for his Summa Theologica and his Five Ways of proving God’s existence: The Unmoved Mover, The Argument of the First Cause, The Argument from Contingency, The Argument from Degree (or Perfection), and The Argument of Intelligent Design.

The Unmoved Mover

The Argument of the Unmoved Mover tries to explain that God must be the cause of motion in the universe. This argument is the first of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways. His Argument from Motion is based on the observation that any object had to have some other object or force to put it into motion.

An interpretation of his argument goes as follows:

Some things are in motion.
Whatever is in motion is put in motion by something else.
Whatever put that object in motion must itself be put in motion by something else.
Through a chain of events, each object moving another object must have been moved by yet another object further in the past.
There cannot be an endless chain of moving events going on to infinity.
Without a first mover, there would be no motion.
Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at a first mover; a first mover put in motion by no other.
This first mover is God.

The Argument of the First Cause

The Argument of the First Cause is the second of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways. The argument of the first cause tries to prove that God must have been the cause, or the creator of the universe. It is therefore a form of the cosmological argument. The argument states that no object is capable of creating its own self. Every created object had to be created by something or someone else. Going back in time, there had to be the first creator. This first creator could not itself, have been created. A similar philosophy is discussed by St. Augustine.

An interpretation of his argument goes as follows:

All things and beings that exist are caused by other things.
Nothing can be the cause of its own self. If so, it would exist prior to itself.
Through a chain of events, each object of being causing the existence of another object or being, must have been caused by yet another object or being.
There cannot be an endless chain of objects or beings causing the existence of other objects or beings.
Without a first cause, there would be no objects or beings in existence today.
Therefore, it is necessary to arrive at a first cause; a first cause which is caused by no other.
This first cause is God.

Another philosopher who spoke out on this subject was Avicenna. According to Avicenna, the universe consists of a chain of actual beings, each giving existence to the one below it and responsible for the existence of the rest of the chain below. Due to the fact that there cannot be an infinite past to our universe, the chain as a whole must terminate in a being that is wholly simple and one, whose essence is its very existence and therefore is self-sufficient and not in need of something else to give it existence. For an enlightening understanding on the impossibility of an infinite past, read the novel, Conversations with a Stranger.

The Argument from Contingency and Necessary Objects

The Argument from Contingency and Necessary Objects is the third of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways. There are only two kinds of objects in existence: contingent beings and necessary beings. A contingent being is an object or being that cannot exist without a necessary being causing its existence.

An interpretation of his argument goes as follows:

Many things in the universe may either exist or not exist. Such things are called contingent beings.
It is impossible for everything in the universe to be contingent, for then there would be a time when nothing existed, and so nothing would exist now, since there would be nothing to bring anything into existence, which is clearly false.
Therefore, there must be a necessary being whose existence is not contingent on any other being or beings.
This being is God.

Another way of stating the argument is as follows:

We find things (beings) are possible to be, and possible not to be.
That which is possible not to be, at some time is not.
If everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence.
If there was a time when nothing was in existence, then even now there would be nothing in existence because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something else already existing.
Therefore, not all beings are merely possible.
There must exist something, the existence of which is necessary.
This necessary being must have of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another.
This necessary being is God.

The Argument from Degree, or The Perfect One

The Argument from Degree is St. Thomas Aquinas’ Fourth Way, in which the qualities of all things are judged by something else.

An interpretation of his argument goes as follows:

Everything that exists has certain qualities, such as whiteness, greatness and goodness.
Among beings, there are some that are more or less of certain qualities, such as: more or less good, true, great, tall, large and hot.
For something to be more or less of a certain quality, there must exist something that is the ultimate of that quality, such as: the hottest, the largest, the best, the tallest, and the whitest.
If anything is great, there must exist something that is the greatest. If anything is hot, there must exist something that is the hottest. If anything is good, there must exist something that is the most good.
Among things in existence, anything which seems to contain the greatest of a certain quality will eventually be replaced by another thing that contains an even greater of that certain quality.
There must exist something which expresses the greatest of all qualities by which all other things are judged and compared.
This being that expresses the greatest of all qualities is the Perfect One.
The Perfect One is God.

The Intelligent Designer

The Intelligent Designer is St. Thomas Aquinas’ Fifth Way. A similar philosophy is found in Paley’s Teleological Argument. This argument suggests that all things must be designed by an intelligent designer. The main idea of this argument is that there exists so much intricate detail, design, and purpose in the world that we must suppose a creator. All of the sophistication and incredible detail we observe in nature could not have occurred by chance. By observing the fulfillment of purpose in nature, the teleological argument moves to the conclusion that there must be a designer.

An interpretation of this argument goes as follows:

There are things which lack intelligence.
Nevertheless, these things act for an end, by acting in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.
It is by design that they act in such a manner as to achieve their end.
Whatever lacks intelligence cannot move toward an end on its own. It must be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence.
Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all things are directed to their end.
This Intelligent Being is God.
Another way of stating the argument is as follows:

1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design.
2. The universe resembles human artifacts.
3. Therefore, the universe is a product of intelligent design.
4. But, the universe is complex and gigantic in comparison to human artifacts.
5. Therefore, there probably is a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe.
6. This intelligent designer is God.

St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument

The Greater is St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument. St. Anselm was a Christian philosopher around the year 1100 A.D. His argument is based on reason alone. Rene Descartes had a similar Ontological Argument.

An interpretation of this argument goes as follows:

God is a being in which none greater is possible.
The concept of God exists in one’s mind.
It is possible that God may also exist in reality.
It is greater for a thing to exist in both the mind and in reality than in the mind alone.
If God exists in the mind only, then a greater than God could be thought, because one could think of God in reality, in addition to being in the mind alone.
It cannot be that God exists in the mind only, because God is a being in which a greater is not possible.
Therefore, God exists in the mind and in reality.

For many great details on this subject look at the books entitled, Conversations With A Stranger: A Search for God, by Larry Tate. More information can be found at

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Exotic Travel Opportunity

Are you yearning for a chance to get away from it all? Would you like to turn your daily grind into a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity? Are you interested in visiting an exotic destination like no other? Don’t settle for just another trip. There is a benefactor who has hand-selected a trip that offers the finest destination; the finest service and amenities; and the true meaning of a first class experience!

You are in for the treat of your life!

Right now, for a limited period of time, you can sign up for the most exotic trip ever imagined. This offer will not be repeated. This is literally a once in a lifetime travel opportunity!

Don’t worry about the cost. This trip has been totally pre-paid by the benefactor of all benefactors.

Time for booking this trip is quickly drawing to a close. Space is limited. Once the pre-determined capacity has been reached, this offer will end and the trip will begin.

You must be ready to leave without notice. Therefore once you sign on, you must remain packed, prepared and ready at all times. No prior departure notice will be given.

Every seat on this trip is First Class. Every seat is fit for a King. You will be treated like Royalty.

Do you have a fear of flying? Have you ever worried about motion sickness? Well, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! This trip to your exotic destination will be like no other trip you’ve ever imagined. There will be no unpleasant experiences on this trip. As a matter of fact, in the blink of an eye, you will be transported from here to there. At one moment you will be going about your daily life. Then, in the very next moment, you will be enjoying your exotic destination. You will be able to enjoy your exotic adventure without extensive planning, confusing maps and spending countless hours on the internet tracking down what’s highly recommended.

By now, your curiosity must be getting the best of you. What is this exotic trip that is being offered to you?

We can provide you with a few hints; and when we say, hints, we mean just that; tiny little hints. We can’t even scratch the surface of how exotic this trip will be. Neither you, nor any other person on earth can even begin to comprehend the breath-taking beauty and intrigue of this exotic destination. If we were to tell you everything you could expect to experience, you wouldn’t even believe it, because it is just too incredible for the human mind to fathom.

Perhaps you’ve heard people say that they have visited places that were heaven on earth. Well, you have the opportunity to visit a place that truly is heavenly.

Ok. Here are some hints about your exotic destination.

You will be going to a city. This is a city that neither you, nor anyone else has ever been to. You may ask, "What can be so special about a city?" This city is like no other. As a matter of fact, if you saw it, you might say it is of another world. Well, guess what; it actually is of another world! All of the cities you have previously seen are built two-dimensionally; but not this city. This city is built three dimensionally! It is 1,400 miles long, by 1,400 miles wide, by 1,400 miles deep. Have you ever visited a city shaped like a cube? This city has sights like no other. There is no nightlife in this city. Why? Well, for starters, it never gets dark in this city. And that’s not all. The light does not come from the sun. There is a phenomenon that bathes the entire city in perpetual light. After being exposed to this light, you will develop radiant and healthy glow as you enjoy your stay in this city. The city has brilliance like that of jasper, clear as crystal. The walls are made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The twelve foundations of the city walls are decorated with every kind of precious stone. There are twelve gates made of twelve pearls, each gate of a single pearl. The great street of the city is of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Don’t bother packing for bad weather. There is no such thing as inclimate weather at this city. Every day is just as beautiful as the day before.

The accommodations are nothing short of spectacular! No budget motel room for you. Each and every traveler will be staying in his/her own mansion. Your mansion will be bigger and better than any mansion you ever dreamed of.

You will have the distinct pleasure of visiting with many historic figures in our past. They will share stories and experiences of their colorful lives. You will want to spend countless hours soaking in all that they have to say to you.

The number one attraction will be visiting with, and admiring the most revered historical figure of all time. You will soon agree that this one attraction will outshine all other attractions combined. As a matter of fact, you will probably never want to check out any of the other attractions after you have been exposed to this number one attraction.

There are too many sights and attractions to describe on this travel brochure. Just sign up today and be ready for the trip of your life.

Sign up now. Pack your bags. Stay ready at all times. When the departure time comes, you don’t have to do a thing. In the very next moment you will be there.

Where do you get an application? How do you sign up? See your pastor today. Get ready for a trip like no other.

This is a one-time offer. Time is short. There will only be one trip of this kind. If you miss this trip, you will have no other opportunity to come at a later date.

Bon Voyage!

P.S. There will be another trip for all of those who do not sign up for this first exotic trip. But, believe me; you do not want to take that trip!

By Larry Tate

Friday, January 9, 2009

Conversations with a Stranger

Is there a God? Can God's existence be proven? Larry Tate has written a novel entitled Conversations With A Stranger. More information can be found at His book has been an effort to make philosophical teachings more understandable. Many people often wonder: Is there a God? What is God? Where is God? Did God create the universe? How do I fit in? Does God care about me? Is there life after death? Can I have a relationship with God? How do I know that God loves me? Can the existence of God be proven?
Questions about God seem to never end.There have been many philosophers who have attempted to prove God's existence. Blaise Pascal put forth Pascal's Wager. St. Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways and his Summa Theologiae attempts to prove that God exists in a variety of arguments. William Paley is known for Paley's Teleological Argument which suggests that the world exhibits an intelligent purpose. St. Anselm's Ontological Argument is based on reason alone. St. Augustine's Argument from Causality suggests that everything that exists was caused by something else. Pascal's Wager is also known as Pascal's Gambit. Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher in the 1600's. St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican Priest, theologian and philosopher in the 1200's. St. Anselm was a teacher in the 1100's.
Larry Tate probes these age-old questions in Conversations with a Stranger, a quest to find proof that God exists. Through a coincidental encounter with a stranger in a coffee shop, one man has the courage to ask daunting life questings that would shape the course of his future. Finding their first meeting so compelling, the two now-friends continued their dialogue with discussions to follow, slowly unearthing proofs implying God's existence. However, what they ultimately stumbled upon was far beyond anything they could have ever imagined. Eavesdrop on these choice encounters for yourself and find out what is birthed from Conversations with a Stranger.


The plot of Conversations with a Stranger is at once both simple and difficult to describe. Two men meet; one utterly unconcerned with the question of whether God exists. The other dedicated to proving His existence. An age-old dance played out in a coffee shop between two nameless men, previously unknown to one another. Without names these individuals are difficult to describe. The first could be Anyman, unconcerned with the larger questions of life, thriving on work and routine. It is he who shares this story with us. The second offers to meet the challenge of the first, and provide proofs drawn from notable Christian thinkers and apologists throughout the ages.
Generally speaking I approach books that scream “teaching fiction” very cautiously. Many notable titles in the vein are filled with fluff and nonsense, not to mention being poorly written. Think The Celestine Prophecy and you’ll understand my ambivalence for the genre. Thankfully Conversations with a Stranger is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Debut novelist Larry Tate has penned a brief work that is nevertheless densely written with a firm foundation based upon biblical truths. Tate isn’t swilling snake oil; he presents us instead with useful tools for evangelism while inspiring and re-focusing our eyes on the commission Jesus left His followers with. I rarely re-read fiction, but the comprehensive notes to the text provide detailed explanations of each of the proofs for God’s existence allowing for further study. This one is a keeper and I intend to dig deeper in order to make them my own and to use them myself.
The arguments presented are drawn from the work of Blaise Pascal, St. Thomas Aquinas, Henri Frederic Ameil, St. Anselm and scripture itself. Presented both conversationally during the casual and friendly debates of the two men, and in greater detail in the notes, the mental work required to engage the proofs are cushioned with the mundane details of life. Rather than devolving into an ongoing My Dinner with Andre tableau, taking place at a single table, Tate thankfully interjects changes of scene that inevitably lead back to the table for another round of civil verbal sparring.
Highly cohesive, the single-pointed message flows smoothly throughout all shifts in location as our Anyman continues the debate internally. His thought processes ring with doubt and conflict, a nearly universal experience during the transition from disbelief to belief. Having come to Christ in a violent fit of surrender, I found his extraordinarily rational and polite dealings with matters of faith surprising.
Perhaps there are such collected individuals living amongst us, I’m not certain I’ve ever met one. In fact our Everyman is a rather bland fellow and lacking a full complement of emotions and depth of character. This isn’t too concerning however, considering the fact that he simply serves as a placeholder for you, or me, the neighbour down the road or the stranger in line ahead of you at Starbucks.
While the apologetics angle is certainly a drawing card, the heart of the novel is faith. Our standing with God is not determined by our intellectual assent to arguments for His existence, or even in mentally acknowledging the claims of Christ. Rather it is that elusive gift, bestowed by God Himself, that effects the transformation. Still we must ever labour in the harvest, planting seeds, stirring up questions and encouraging conversation – let’s get busy!
Jennifer Bogart

"In Conversations with a Stranger, Larry Tate has brilliantly created a unique Christian evangelistic technique that, like a good mystery, lures the reader to seek the outcome".
Jim Head, Patent, Trademark & Copyright Attorney

"Larry Tate has written a provocative novel. He uses an encounter between two people to explore how a 'doubting Thomas' might deal with questions about God's place in his life. In this time of exploding information, a technically trained person may think he needs logical proof, but Larry shows us that answers maybe found in other ways and in other places."
Otis Winters, Chairman, Oriole Oil Company

"Quite simply put, Conversations with a Stranger, lets us know without any doubt that God exists, and the only way to Heaven is through His Son Jesus. In a world of unpredictability and uncertaintly, Larry Tate brings comfort, assurance, and peace of mind in knowing in who we put our belief and trust in."
Raj Patel, DDS, JD

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Greatest of God's Children

One day I heard a commotion outside my door.
The noise was great; more than I could ignore.
I opened the door to see what was the matter.
I saw a crowd—arguing, shouting, making a clatter.

The Preacher said, “I am the greatest; oh so devout.
I have a mighty calling, of which there is no doubt.
To guide and direct God’s flock, I do commit.
Surely, I and the Father are quite close-knit.”

“Now wait just a minute,” another voice squealed.
“The Preacher is great, but the Missionary is greater still.
He makes great sacrifice, going to a distant land.
He obeys God’s calling, can’t you understand?”

Another one yelled, “You both are wrong!
Teachers are God’s chosen and at His side they belong.
They explain God’s Word, line by line.
Teachers are important, necessary and divine.”

“Listen to me,” shouted the leader of Song and Praise.
His voice was heated and his eyes were ablaze.
“I prepare the congregation to hear God’s Word.
To think me not great, would be absurd.”

Another disputed, “God needs me; this I surely feel.
I take up large offerings with my eloquence and skill.
My job is very important; one I plan to keep.
The Church needs money, for supplies and upkeep.

The Nursery Worker could not sit idly by.
“I may not be the greatest, that I won’t deny.
But, I really love children; I can certainly assert.
So, I’m better than the Janitor. He just cleans the dirt.”

Minute by minute and hour by hour, it went.
No one could agree; that much was evident.
I heard from the Choir, and then from the Prayer Team.
But, the Musicians claimed that they were supreme.

There were Greeters, Youth Leaders and Yard Men.
Before one could finish, another would begin.
They grew louder and louder and louder still.
The neighbors came out just to hear them squeal.

I stopped an old man who came hobbling by;
Perhaps he had wisdom on which they could rely.
I told him about the arguing, so long and hard,
And, so much noise, right in my courtyard.

“Who is the greatest? They just can’t agree.
Do you have an answer? Can you be their referee?
Some of them are great, and some are small.
Sir, who among them is the greatest of all?”

The old man sat down, and began to speak.
“There once was a ship’s captain, so proudly unique.
He delivered merchandise to distant ports.
Fine linens, red rubies, diamonds and quartz.”

“He could read maps and follow the stars.
He loved to praise himself, and wrote his own memoirs.
His skills were important, he did report.
Without him, his ship would never reach that distant port.”

“Before sailing, He sat down to make his plan.
He spread out the maps, and began to scan.
But before he was halfway through,
He realized—he needed a crew.”

“He needed strong sailors to raise the sails.
Without them, his mission would surely fail.
The ship needed wind, he had to agree.
Without sails, he would just drift in the open sea.”

“But what if the wind subsided, not blowing at all?
Without wind, the heavy boat would surely stall.
He must have men to row the boat, as a last resort.
Without strong men, he may never reach that distant port.”

“Might one day he step on deck, with his face aghast?
After a storm has torn the sails and broken the mast?
Skilled carpenters and repairmen, he must court,
If he hoped to reach that distant port.”

Then he thought, “There is one job I can’t overlook.
It’s a very long journey, I may need a cook.
If sailors are hungry, the mission may abort.
Then I would never reach that distant port.”

“While making his plans, he saw a rat.
He realized right then that he needed a cat.
The cat must catch the rat before it eats the food,
If the crew gets hungry, they’d be in a bad mood.

“When his plans were finished and through,
He knew he needed talented and skillful crew.
If he grew stingy and cut the crew list short,
His ship might never reach that distant port.”

“My friend, to you this day, I must report.
In order for a boat to reach a distant port,
Not one job can be the greatest of all.
And no task is considered small.”

When his story ended, the old man just stopped.
The crowd was so quiet, I could hear a pin drop.
He got up from his chair and shuffled away.
He had no reason to linger or stay.

Then I saw a sight that seemed so strange.
The attitude in the crowd began to change.
They ceased from clattering and shouting.
Instead, they began dancing and singing.

Those who before, only wanted to jeer,
They lifted their voices and began to cheer.
To those that once they did push and shove,
They began to express their love.

Pleasant smiles replaced scowls.
No longer were there any howls.
A great transformation was underway,
As the crowd dispersed and drifted away.

The old man’s story caused me to groan.
I went into my house and picked up the phone.
I called my church and asked what I might do.
To which I heard, “We have many jobs for you.”

“I’m so glad you’ve listened to God’s call.
Is your calling Great, or is it Small?”
I smiled when questioned, and quietly replied,
“Any task you give me, I will do with great pride.”

“The church has been chosen to spread the Good News.
Each task is important; I don’t know which to choose.
Any job you give me, whether it be Great or Small,
To God, it will be THE GREATEST OF ALL.”

Copyright by Larry Tate 2006

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Origin of Christmas

Christmas is the festival celebrating the Nativity of Jesus. The story of Christmas is based on the biblical accounts given in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband, Joseph in the city of Bethlehem. According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7 where it states "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Christians believe that the birth of Jesus fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament.

There is a very long tradition of producing depictions of the nativity. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a barn or stable and include Mary, Joseph, the child Jesus, angels, shepherds and the Three Wise Men, who followed a star, known as the Star of Bethlehem.

In the U.S., Christmas decorations at public buildings once commonly included Nativity scenes. This practice has led to many lawsuits, as groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union believe it amounts to the government endorsing a religion, which is prohibited by the United States Constitution. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island did not violate the First Amendment.