Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I clearly remember the first time I posted a message to an internet forum. I told whoever was out there in cyberspace that I thought believers really weren’t free in the way Americans understand freedom. We don’t do whatever we feel like doing. I argued that we choose to be held to a higher standard that limited our actions to those that our Heavenly Father would want us to do. I typed it into my word processor; spell checked it and sent it off where it was posted onto the forum for all to see. Well, those who bothered looking. Not too long afterwards I received a private message in my email box from a forum participant. In the message he ranted and raved about how wrong I was. In fact he cursed me and said that he valued freedom above everything else and that I couldn’t take it away from him. He rounded it off with several more curses and a hearty drop dead.
Welcome to the world of Christian Internet Forums. That’s right, I said Christian.
I love logging onto Internet Forums. I admit it, I love them. But they drive me crazy. They are filled with writings that aggravate me, confuse me, and bemuse me. They are populated by people who are at times loving and caring and at other times hateful and malicious. They are full of intelligent commentary but more often than not overwhelmed by inane drivel. If you have never logged onto a forum, if it has never crossed your mind to jump into the bizarre world of Internet communication just be aware that this is a world far removed from our own and yet hardly different.
Internet Forums are places that people post messages to be read by anyone who wants to take the time to read them. They are categorized by a common interest, religion being a popular one. I was not able to find out how many people currently use forums. But I did find these numbers; MSN has 11,344 different Christian forums, Yahoo has 53,591. A Google search on the words Christian Forums comes up with 6,200,000 responses in only .23 seconds. The largest site I found was the rather obviously named Christianforum.com. A hefty 113,972 members have posted over 16 million messages in 225 sub-forums. The site has a volunteer staff of 93 people who daily take the time to monitor what is being said on the site in an effort to keep the peace with this rather large and diverse community. This limited research makes it clear that forums are a very popular form of communication. More and more people are finding community in these places on the Internet.
But what kind of community is this? A wild and wacky one to say the least. All sorts of people sign on to the service get a password and jump into the fray. When a participant signs up he/she can choose a name that will appear on the screen. Some people use their real names but many don’t. I guess we are all a little nervous about privacy on the Internet. Once one is signed up posting messages can begin. Some people ask questions which are meant to start up a conversation on a particular topic. How can we reduce global poverty for instance? Some people have particular issues that they must tell others about. I know of a gentleman who cannot let an opportunity go by without talking about the global disaster about to befall the earth. Some people tell jokes, write poetry, make snide remarks, and generally act like normal people having a conversation. And just like normal people, forum participants get mad at each other. When most people join for the first time they are shocked by the anger. But we shouldn’t be, after all people are people. And even Christians don’t act like Christians all of the time. Christian Internet Forums become big extended families – just like churches. And just like churches they run into problems.
Problems? Did someone say there are problems? Yes my friends, and with them come rules. Internet Forums better have rules, or else they won’t have any members left. In an effort to keep the peace Christianforum.com has a large list of rules which include the following; no personal attacks, no attacks against Christianity, no posting private correspondence, no selling/marketing anything, no obscenities, or anything sexually explicit. Anyone who breaks the rules can have their password suspended temporarily or even permanently. Most of these rules are the same common sense principles that guide us in everyday life. But it is shocking how often people indulge in inappropriate behavior on Internet Forums. Take the ban on personal attacks for instance. I belong to a forum where personal attacks are almost a daily occurrence. The man who monitors it must spend enormous amounts of time writing emails warning participants to keep themselves under control. When confronted do you know how most people respond? They say “he started it”. This is the same excuse that didn’t work when I was in Kindergarten. God bless Forum monitors – they need all of the help they can get.
During my time as a member of religious forums I have seen certain types of posts that come up over and over again. We all tend to fall into certain patterns. First, there is the great pronouncement. A message that informs us that God has spoken with the messenger personally and that: 1) Jesus is coming soon; or 2) the messenger is to start a mission; or 3) Jesus is coming soon. I’ve always liked reading these posts because we never know when a truly mighty prophet is going to show up and it’s good to be paying attention when he/she does. Next on the list are the political posts. The fact that these web sites are specifically focused on religion does not keep politics out of the fray. Political battles can go on for days and days. After the first couple of months I stopped looking at these kinds of posts. I’m just not interested in the same political arguments that caused me to swear off cable news. And after the fighting stops comes the tearful goodbye. Quite frequently someone gets mad and quits the forum. But before he/she goes a message is posted saying why as well as goodbye. People usually respond with supportive posts but the injured party leaves anyway. The funny thing is, many of these hurting souls end up coming back to the forum after a few months. I’ve never been able to figure that out.
Another common part of Internet Forums is the Chat Room. I’ve not been able to figure these out either. Chat Rooms are ‘real time’ – that is they are a running conversation, like a phone call. Except that anyone with a password to the Forum can join in. The people who frequent these seem to have made up their own short hand. Let me give you an example I recorded one night.
Person a) I was taking my girlfriend to a movie, and she got sick, and we had to pull over where she threw up…
Person b) yo - - - ba da boom!
Person c) how are you?
Person a) Too funny; how about a courting couple.
Person d) heeeey fly
Yes my friends, this is considered communication on some parts of this planet. But I haven’t a clue. I guess this over the hill 44 year old is just too long in the tooth to understand this new fangled style of chat-er-ate‘n.
So why do people log onto Christian Internet Forums anyway? I think I can answer that question by telling you why I log on. I have something to say that I think is important and there are people who are willing to listen. I believe that I have some thoughts and insights that can help a few of the people who are out there searching for answers life’s basic questions. This idea has been reinforced by people responding on the Forum and privately through email. Most of these have been positive, unlike the guy who cursed me out. Another important reason for belonging is the sense of shared values and beliefs that people on the Forum have. We all believe Jesus is Lord and we all want to see His Kingdom come. This gives me a sense of belonging, a sense that these people know me and accept me even though we haven’t formally met. I didn’t just join some strange electronic club, I am part of a faith community, and it feels pretty good. And finally, I must admit that I love these people. I log on day in and day out because I have grown to care for all of my fellow forumites. I love the ones who write beautiful words of faith in God, as well as the ones who don’t. I even care about the people who get angry and rant and rave. These are God’s people and I do love them very much.
Well, another day and another series of crazy posts. I don’t know what to make of some of these people and some of them don’t know what to make of me. But I just can’t resist going back again and again. Isn’t it funny – here I am sitting alone at my desk and yet, I’ve found community?
Peace, Pastor Bill
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The United Methodist church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is anything but united.
Two pastors preach from the same pulpit and live in the same parsonage next door, but they are barely on speaking terms and openly criticize each other’s approach to the faith.
In the church’s social hall, two camps eye each other suspiciously as one finishes its meal of rice and beans while the other prepares steaming pans of chicken lo mein.
Two very different congregations share the soaring brick building on Fourth Avenue: a small cadre of about 30 Spanish-speaking people who have worshiped there for decades and a fledgling throng of more than 1,000 Chinese immigrants that expands week by week — the fastest-growing Methodist congregation in New York City.
The Latinos say they feel steamrolled and under threat, while their tenants, the Chinese, say they feel stifled and unappreciated. Mediators have been sent in, to little effect. This holiday season, there are even two competing Christmas trees.
Read the rest of this article from The New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/nyregion/29church.html?_r=1&hp
FBC Rahway has three congregations worshipping on Sunday. So far we are united and blessed. Pray for these two battling congregations. Pastor Bill.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
On that first Christmas night, the angels appeared to shepherds on a hill near Bethlehem. Alfred Edersheim, the great 19th-century Jewish-Christian scholar, wrote in his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah that the shepherds and the sheep to whom the angels appeared near Bethlehem were no ordinary shepherds and sheep.
The sheep were those bound for the temple sacrifices. The shepherds were outcasts because of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances. And their manner of life rendered legal observances unlikely, if not absolutely impossible.
How wonderful that in God’s wisdom and love the angels should appear to them—the doomed and the outcast—that night.
Today we can declare to the world that the Good Shepherd cares for all people and wants to give them peace. Christ came on that first Christmas for one great purpose—to die on the cross for our sins. Now God offers forgiveness, inner peace, and eternal life to all who will repent and believe in His Son. This is the Christmas message!
Do you know people who need to hear about God’s love and forgiveness? Will you share the true Christmas message with them this year?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tis the season of the Prince of Peace. We need to pray for Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Everyone. Below is a prayer for Burma / Myanmar, a place that has seen violence for 50 years. Pray for Peace in Burma and everywhere.
We pray for peace in Burma. We pray for justice for all people that will make for a lasting and substantive peace. We pray for relief for the suffering of those who have fled their homes. We pray that all the people of Burma might find the way to obedience to your call in Matthew 5:21-26 to make peace with our adversary "while there is time." May people, groups and the government choose to practice conflict transformation talks rather than war. May your justice, peace and healing come to this long-suffering land and its many people. Amen.
From Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Top Ten ways to know you live in Zimbabwe:
10. When you open a bottle of medicine you take out the cotton and save it to use for cotton swabs for giving injections/starting IVs at the hospital. We actually open our ART medicine and take the cotton out before dispensing to the patient! Even though we are a country that used to export quality cotton, it is now all exported to China to pay for the cheap things they send here (airplanes, tractors, buses) and so there is no cotton available here. So we find ways to get our own!
9. Patients are so happy when you read their X-ray and say they have TB they actually clap and ululate! They now know they will get admitted, have 3 meals of good food and 1 tea a day, more than they can ever think of getting at home. Over 85% of Zimbabweans do not have enough food supplies to feed themselves adequately each day. I assume the 15% who do have are government ministers now in power.
8. When we see a teacher at the hospital we stand and give them a standing ovation and offer them to be seen first in the queue because they are now an endangered species. We have also decided to offer free treatment to all teachers and their family. With 70,000 teachers not reporting for work last term and more leaving each week, most schools are grossly understaffed. Some of our schools have 1 teacher present out of 25. What kind of education children will receive is of grave concern by all parents. A teacher (and all civil servants) makes $100 US month and bus fare from Chidamoyo to get that salary from their bank in Karoi is $8 for one round trip. What do they live on for the month? We remember when teaching was a proud profession that people looked up to with respect - now they look at you like you are stupid to be working for so little.
7. The doctor, Major and I have a running bet each day to see how many scotch carts can fit into our scotch-cart parking area at the hospital. Scotch carts are ox or donkey drawn 2 wheel carts that are now coming 2-3 days walk to the hospital with patients since there is limited bus service and the cost of buses is so prohibitive. Most people don't have the foreign currency to pay for the bus in the rural areas.
6. Every night we wait anxiously for news in the progress in the unity government. We turn on the radio and listed to the jammed and banned VOA newscasts for the true news. Seems like most days the news is fighting over the Mercedes Benz cars that Members of Parliament should take or not take!
5. We all have ZESA anxiety. ZESA stands for our electricity company (Zimbabwe Electricity Sometimes Available). When it comes on and when it will go off we are never sure. Should we start to bake a loaf of bread in our bread maker or will it go off before the 3 hours needed? Should I cook beans, can I do a load of laundry before the electricity goes out. Maybe we can do X-rays sometime this week without starting our generator. And then once it goes out when will it come back on? We are thankful that we do get it sometime each day - even if it is during the night.
4. Every day you have to spend time deciding: what am I going to eat that will use up the least amount of food I have and do I have gas to cook it if there is no electricity. If there is no electricity and I have gas I don't want to use a lot of it, so I wouldn't cook beans with gas, only things that need a short amount of time. We are coming up with "meals in 1 minute" to save on gas and get it done before the electricity may go off. I try to save my meat or canned food for when I have electricity and eat eggs in 101 different ways to save gas and food! It is always a challenge each day to plan so that I don't have to cook outside with wood!
3. This week we got our monthly salary deposited into our banks in Zim dollars. For 4 months now there is no place in the country that will accept this money (Zim dollars) for payment so essentially we have had no salary in 4 months. Officially this month the Zim dollar was made non-existent for 1 year and cannot be used for legal tender, so we got paid in money that has been banned from use! We did get a $100US in retention bonus that is given to you whether you are a doctor or a sweeper in the hospital. So we have finally reached socialism!
2. We recently had a problem with our electricity not working. We sent our driver in 4 times to take the ZESA people out to find the fault and each time they "thought" maybe they had found the problem and fixed it and when our driver returned home - still no electricity! Finally on Day 13 without power they found the problem and fixed it and we got so excited when it came on. Two hours later it was turned off for "load shedding" after we had saved them power for 13 days straight - go figure!
1. The number one answer to know you live in Zimbabwe is come to our hospital on any day of the week and see people coming with bags (black garbage bag size) of peanuts, maize, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, soy beans, or pumpkins. This is now the form of payment for our services at the hospital! We also take goats, chickens, pigs and turkeys! We haven't bought any food for the hospital in 6 months because of this new barter system! We literally are providing medical services for peanuts!
To Learn More about Chidamoyo Hospital go to http://www.chidamoyo.org/
An Article on Chidamoyo from the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/world/africa/19zimbabwe.html?hpw
Saturday, December 18, 2010
We are a group of Christian Singers all the way from East African region (Burundi, Congo and Rwanda), serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are based in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. If you want the Lord's presence in your Special Church Service, Special Event, Wedding or Christian Party, just let us know by sending us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imana ibahezagire! - God bless you!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The following is an excerpt from an article by Physicist and Christian Dr. Michael R. Molnar. He explains what the Star of Bethlehem was through the study of modern astronomy and ancient astrology.
Powerful evidence supports the idea that the Star of Bethlehem is based on Roman-era astrology rather than an exceptionally bright astronomical event. For Roman-era astrologers, a royal "star in the east" meant that Jupiter, the star of kings, rose exactly 12° ahead of the Sun, becoming a "Morning Star." They also believed that this produced a royal birth. Jupiter rose precisely 12° ahead of the Sun in Aries on April 17, 6 BC. In the Mathesis written by Julius Firmicus Maternus in AD 433, this Christian convert described the horoscopes of two Roman divinities. The first is for an "almost divine and immortal" person. This horoscope with Jupiter "exalted" in Cancer is undoubtedly for Emperor Augustus Caesar. The Roman Senate declared Augustus divine shortly after his death.
Firmicus then wrote about an "especially" divine and immortal person, who is probably Jesus. In this horoscope the Sun is "exalted" in Aries, accompanied by the planets Saturn and Jupiter that ruled over Aries. Most importantly, Jupiter was "in the east" with the Moon moving toward Jupiter, accompanied by the Sun and Saturn in Aries, which perfectly describes the conditions for April 17, 6 BC.
There's no proof that Jesus was born on this date, but astrologers would have associated the birth of the King of the Jews with April 17, 6 BC. As astrology lost its significance and the actual birth date was never recorded, religious fervor mythologized the Magi's star. The adoption of the pagan holiday “The Unconquered Son”, on December 25th, as Christ's birth date compounded the confusion.
Unfortunately, many astronomers and historians have ignored the historical evidence that the Star of Bethlehem was an astrologically significant event rather than a sky spectacle. Sky spectacles, like comets, fit our modern way of thinking and satisfy religious expectations. But historically incorrect theories collapse under scrutiny. Only by looking to the ancient beliefs and practices can we understand how a mundane Morning Star became the glorious Star of Bethlehem.
From Sky and Telescope Magazine, December 2008.
Retired Rutgers University astronomer Michael R. Molnar explains his full case in his book: "The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi."
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Christine Sobiat’s amazing story of survival and faith during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
It took us two hours to go 20 miles because the road was lined with bodies. I was in Goma, traveling with a group of American Medical Relief Team workers, who came to respond to the need caused by the Rwanda 1994 refugees influx. This was their first day, and it seemed none of them were prepared for the sights.
On the roadside, a baby was crying next to its dead mother. Past the third roundabout, thousand of tired refugees were crossing the Rwanda/Zaire border where the noise of heavy weapons could be heard, in the last battle of 1994 war.
As people fled to Zaire, the many miles they had to walk, the lack of food, water and shelter caused cholera and many more diseases to ravage through the masses of refugees fleeing their homes. Under the eucalyptus trees, numerous bodies were lying on the ground. The nearly dead joined the corps, where they had to wait for death! These were my compatriots, human beings like me! Seeing them dying like grass pushed me to think about what was happening to their souls after death.
Many people have never seen such a thing! I wish I could describe the scene so that everyone could picture it, but my words are inadequate. Abandoned and lost kids were crying, despair was on everyone's face. There was horror and anger and finally silence. The team was so shocked! Some of them called it "the road of despair", others "hell on earth"...
To continue reading her remarkable story…
Monday, December 13, 2010
“I’m here in South Africa with Steve Morgan,” Jim Schmidtke speaks loudly above airport chatter and public announcements. Jim is on his way home from Johannesburg, South Africa. Steve will remain in Johannesburg until July 7.
Jim is the U.S. soccer director for Athletes in Action, Campus Crusade for Christ’s ministry to athletes. Steve Morgan is the associate director for U.S. soccer with AIA and chaplain for the Kansas City Wizards, one of the 16 teams which make up the Major League Soccer club. MLS is a professional soccer league based in the United States and Canada, representing top tier athletes.
Both men have been staff members with the ministry for over 30 years.
Since their arrival on June 4, Jim and Steve have seen God at work amid World Cup hysteria.
There are hundreds of volunteers in South Africa right now. “Our primary purpose was to do pre-game chapel with the U.S. Men’s Team,” Jim says. “Last week before the big game against England, we read Psalm 23 together, then the guys went out and scored a goal."
Then Tim Howard, goal keeper for the U.S. team, won the Man of the Match Award. The game tied 1:1.
“We arrived at this place [gaining access to the U.S. team] not because we are important or special, but because we developed relationships with people,” Steve says.
“The guys on the team know we are there to disciple and encourage them. They know who we are. Guys like Tim Howard are setting an example for Christ because of the way he lives his life. Tim takes his job as a player seriously, but our job as chaplains is to help the guys focus on the Lord.”
“We’re here for the team and the team knows us and the coaches know us, but other people -- even administration people -- in the area, like hotel employees, security, and police don’t know us and aren’t allowed to let anyone in restricted areas without credentials,” Steve says. “We don’t have credentials. But we’ve had relationships with the players for the past 3-5 years while they were playing on their professional leagues in the U.S.”
“When Jim and I arrive, the athletes help us in gaining access to areas where they are staying by telling local police, hotel staff, etc., that we are allowed in,” Steve says. “The only credentials we have are our passports and drivers license. Like any other fan, if we can find a ticket to the game, we do. If we can’t, we just find a TV and sit and watch the game like everybody else.”
“We’re having a blast here,” Jim says. “We’re [connecting] with other staff members from Canada and the U.S., and going out into slums and ghettos to conduct sports clinics and outreaches.
"Just yesterday we were at Diepsloot, one of South Africa’s poorest areas, located on the outskirts of Johannesburg. There were staff members and volunteers from Ethiopia and Zimbabwe reaching out to over 300 kids.
"After the fun and games a local pastor told them about Jesus, and many of these kids -- whose primary language is Zulu -- made a decision to follow Christ. There’s a ton of ministries here, and we are working with volunteers and partnering with local churches to accomplish a great goal: reaching people for Christ.”
“Every city in the country is having Fan Fests where thousands of people show up to watch the game on a big screen in local stadiums and parks around the country,” Steve says. “Parks are a sea of color as thousands of fans wear green and gold and blow colorful vuvuzelas (the loud horns fans blast during games). AIA is using this as an outreach opportunity. Last night they showed the video “The Prize” about the World Cup, in the city Pretoria, and saw a huge response.”
“I’m here until July 7,” Steve says. “USA plays [June 18] against Slovenia. One of the U.S. players, 28-year-old Clarence Goodson, just text messaged me and said we can meet at 10 a.m. at the hotel where the team is staying. It’s only 3 miles from where I stay. The meeting is totally voluntary.”
“Before the game against England we met and had Bible study/chapel with 8 of the USA team (Howard, Guzan, Clark, Goodson, Dempsey, Torres, Buddle, Findley), and one of the team doctors came as well,” Steve says. “This is the largest group ever with the Men's National Team. They were fully engaged and we had a wonderful time.”
“The U.S. plays again [June 23], and I will be in touch with the guys so they can tell me what time to meet,” Steve says. “I will also still be doing clinics in South African ghettos (shacks, lean-tos, etc.).
"Pray for all of us here to be bold and compassionate in bringing a clear message of hope to those in need of our Savior.”
Athletes in Action Website.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This is the story of how we have come to celebrate Christmas today. The story starts with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth either in the year 6 BC or 6 AD. Both dates have pros and cons. The earlier one would have the baby Jesus born during King Herod’s lifetime (Matt. 2:1), before the King’s death in 3 BC. Jesus would also be in his thirties (Lk 3:23) during the time Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea, from 26 AD to 36 AD. In 6 BC there was a conjunction of planets that could have been what the Magi saw (Matt. 2:1 - 2). However, there was no census (Lk 2:1) that we know of taken in Palestine in 6 BC. We do know that there was a census taken in 6 AD while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Lk 2:1). However if Jesus were born in 6 AD he would not have begun his ministry in his thirties and still face Pilate at a trial. Another date to consider would be 3 BC, but this date has problems too. All we really know is that Jesus didn’t say what year he was born in or what day. In fact, Jesus probably didn’t want anyone to make a fuss, and so he kept quiet about it. And this silence left the door wide open for people to make Christmas into whatever they wanted.
The earliest celebration of the birth of Jesus was called the Theophany or manifestation of God. Today we call it Epiphany and it is celebrated on January 6th, which was the beginning of the year in the days of the early church. The celebration included more than Jesus’ birth, it included the concept of God being with us always. This celebration was split into two holidays in the 4th century AD. At that time the Christmas celebration competed with the pagan celebration of the birth of the Unconquered Son which was placed on the winter solstice (the calendar in those days was off by four days). When the Roman Empire became Christian, December 25th became Jesus’ birthday. Epiphany was then considered the day Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit became manifest to all (Matt. 3:16). And Advent came about as a civil law that required all citizens to be in church for forty days before Epiphany! For over a thousand years Christmas was a midwinter religious celebration. But it changes dramatically in the last several hundred years.
Our modern celebration begins in the fourth century AD in the Turkish town of Myra. Bishop Nicholas was known for his generosity and kindness to children and after his death was canonized as Saint Nicholas. The day of his death, December 6th became a major holiday around Europe and people celebrated it by exchanging gifts. Protestants in the 16th century banned the celebration of saint’s days and so people moved the day of celebration to Christmas. German traditions have Nicholas giving gifts to children and a ghost-like Christ child hovering around him called Christkindl (Kris Kringle). Dutch settlers in New York brought with them the story of Sinter Klaas (Santa Claus) who was plump and smoked a pipe. And in the early eighteen hundreds in America Clement Clarke Moore wrote the words, “‘Twas the night before Christmas…” which cemented the story of Santa in the minds of every American. In his story St. Nick rides a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, is a jolly old elf and delivers toys to children through the chimney. Our modern Santa is dressed in red and white because in the 1930’s Coca-Cola used him to sell soda in the winter. And so there you have it - the story of how the birth of our savior and a kindly saint became tied up with gift giving and soda pop!
Isn’t this an amazing story! Isn’t it astonishing how St. Nick became Santa and was thrust into the Christmas story? I hope you can see that many of our Christmas traditions have very little to do with Jesus of Nazareth. Fortunately the core message of the religious celebration still survives in our churches today. And that is the message of God becoming manifest to people in a very real way. God came to our world, as a real living person to show us how much He loves us. And He lived His life as an example of how to serve our Father in Heaven as well as serve other people. This is the real message of Christmas. And the message is more important than all of the gifts and all of the celebrating in the entire world. It is my hope that as we are opening presents and drinking soda, we keep in mind a child in a manger who came to give us the gift of light and life.
Have a blessed Christmas.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
In this article from The New York Times, the Salvation Army is saying donations are down a lot this year. They do wonderful work, especially in hard times. Please pray that they receive the resources they need to help people in trouble this year. Here is more information on the Salvation Army.
The "miracle" of Christmas is repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing.The traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless, in keeping with the spirit of the season.
Donations provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need. Financial assistance also helps with basic necessities, along with seasonal aid. Families of prisoners often are included.
Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners. The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.
Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season as well, people struggling with difficult family, emotional, or employment problems.
The Salvation Army website.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Jacob DeShazer, a member of the Doolittle Raiders, tells the story of his conversion to Christianity in a Japanese POW camp, his forgiveness for his Japanese torturers, and his return to Japan to preach the Gospel.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Rev. Ananth Kumar is reaching out to Hindu’s in the northern and central New Jersey area. His mission has been very successful so far. He is hosting an outreach in the Edison NJ area this Saturday. Here is some information on it.
Indian Community Christmas Celebration 2010 will be held on Saturday, December 11th, 2010 from 11:00 A.M. Program starts promptly at 11am.
The main objective and motivation behind the Community Christmas celebration is to proclaim the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and to Project him as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” so that it is an occasion for the born again Christians to lead some non-believers to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Several spirit filled musicals and video programs are planned with performances from Light House team, NYC and famous Gospel singers "Couriers".
Special sermons from Rev. Bryan Schwartz, a motivational speaker for NFL football and other athletic teams and Rev. Naveen Balakrishnan, a Brahmin convert and a inspirational orator are scheduled.
A manger scene performance and special carols, special solo songs with track by Children are planned to make this a true family fun filled and a blessed event. If you would like your child/children to participate in the children activities, please respond to this email so that we can forward to the children's ministry team
It is very important to confirm your child's participation by Monday, December 6th so that the children ministry team can co-ordinate with parents directly.
So far more than 100 free tickets are being distributions to non-believers to attend this event with support and generous donations from other Christians from Churches across America.
In addition to non-believers many Christians are planning to attend the event. We hope this event may be a life-changing event for non-believers and to unsaved Christians. So please try to bring your neighbors or friends to this event.
Since we need a headcount and names for the Pines Manor Banquet Manager to plan for seating and catering arrangements, we encourage you to purchase your tickets from Organizing committee or online.
So let’s all unite and pray with one goal – “To reach the unsaved” so that we can make an impact in this world for the GLORY of GOD.
For more information and online tickets purchases please visit
Thank you and God Bless you.
Friday, December 3, 2010
My wife loves this duet by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. A nice rendition of the Birth of Jesus.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I think that many of you can relate to this story. I was out of collage and heading nowhere. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. I picked up a job that was taking me nowhere. I had no career aspirations, and I didn’t make much money. I became more serious about my future after I was married and had a baby. Maybe the shock of newfound responsibility forced me to deal with my future or maybe I was finally growing up. I started to take job hunting more seriously. I started to work harder at the goal of forging a new future.
Then a strange thing happened to me. As I was trying to build a career in the Banking world, I was called into the ministry. A ‘calling’ is different from a career goal. We ministers believe that the ‘call’ is a message from God. So I jumped into the role of minister in training. I continued to work at the Bank in the day, went to school at night and worked as a minister on Sunday’s. In-between I found time to study and be with my family. The whole process took six years. I found in this experience that I could accomplish more than I ever thought possible. I never knew that I could work so hard. I never dreamed that I could do so much. Even today I am still amazed at what I accomplished.
Because of this experience, I now believe that people can accomplish anything. And why not? Why can’t we reach those goals that we dream of? Many things are holding us back, but so what? I am not a naturally gifted writer, but I have written a book. I had the vision of what I wanted to accomplish and went out and did it. Why not follow the vision? The only thing that could have stopped me was me. It may take time and energy, but so what? Put the time and energy in and bask in the accomplishment.
Every generation produces great people. We have a set of criteria that is not written down to decide who is a great person. One of the criteria is success in business. Captains of industry like Andrew Carnegie are usually considered great people. Another of the criteria is inventing something that impacts lives. Thomas Edison would fall under that one. And still another of the categories would be people who do extraordinary things to help others. During my lifetime Martin Luther King is considered one of the greatest of people who helped others. So would Mother Theresa. Great people pop up now and again and are remembered.
Why not more? Why aren’t there more people who are considered great by today’s standards? What makes a person great? Maybe it’s because of their family background. Maybe it’s their genetic background. Maybe they’re in the right place at the right time. Most likely it is a combination of factors that no one can guess at before it happens. As a result, great people don’t come around very often. Not everyone becomes a person that others consider great.
But why not more ordinary people doing great things? Why not more great moms and dads? Why not great accountants? Why not more people going to nursing homes and visiting with the lonely people there? I know a woman who goes to a nursing home and sings songs for the people with her guitar. She is not a professional singer. She is just an ordinary person. Wouldn’t the world be better off with more people visiting the lonely people who live in nursing homes? Nobody is going to honor this woman with a national holiday, but in her small way she is doing a great thing. I know that everyone can achieve greatness in everyday living!
Be a great Mom, be a great Dad. There is nothing holding you back. Strive to be more than you are. Reach for achievements that appear high and lofty to you. There is no reason to stay where you are. All of us can be great in our own individual way.
Pastor Bill Whitehead
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
On Nov. 8, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge in Pakistan, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. The judge also fined Asia $1,190 (U.S.) and told her she had seven days to appeal the decision. VOM contacts reported that her attorney will appeal the sentence.
Asia was arrested by police on June 19, 2009, and charged with blasphemy after she engaged in a religious discussion with co-workers. Many of the local women, including Asia, worked on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees. During their work, many of the Muslim women had pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. Her family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.
On June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith. The Muslim women told Asia about Islam, and, according to VOM sources, Asia responded by telling the Muslim women that Christ died on the cross for our sins. She told them Jesus is alive. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them.
Upon hearing this response, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.
Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there had urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.
Pray for Asia and her family. Pray that the people of Pakistan will understand God’s love and mercy.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Pastor Marquis Arrue and his daughter perform Hey Christo at Sunday night's Music Concert. Marquis is the Pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Rahway, which worships every Sunday at 12PM.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Kim does little of everything in El Salvador. Right now Kim has been working with several delegations that have come to visit the Baptist Federation from partner organizations around the world. In a normal week Kim does a mix of institutional development with how the Federation can be more effective in serving and partnering with local churches around the country. Kim also works with project based ministry, things like agricultural development, bakery coops for women, charity schools run by churches, working with national leaders and partners to make those projects functional, help with fund raising strategies, and just spending time with them. It´s a lot of fun and a lot of work.
At the regional level, Kim has been invited by partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to serve as coordinator of a regional assessment of theological education. She expects to ultimately organize a regional gathering for theological educators where they will have the opportunity to discuss the trends of the assessment and explore strategic directions for their unique education contexts.
From 2002 until 2004, Kim served as a volunteer missionary with a holistic community health and development organization which prepared local farmers to provide primary health care services in rural Nicaragua. She helped train promoters and coordinated over 40 short-term mission teams who came to partner with rural communities in building health clinics and digging wells. In 2005, Kim spent four months working with short-term groups who were partnering with Deborah House in Tijuana.
From August 2006 until April 2008, Kim worked with the Volunteers in Global Mission team at International Ministries providing administrative and program support. She then spent four months in Chile, volunteering with a local church preparing women and youth to plan and develop church-based social outreach ministries.
She works with Federation churches in the areas of leadership and empowerment projects with women and youth, as well as informal theological training in the local churches. Kim also supports short-term teams and individuals partnering in El Salvador.
Please pray for unity and direction in the new generation of young leaders in the church in Miramar; also for continued growth of the new Baptist Women in Ministry group. Thank you!
For more information about Kim Kushner; http://www.internationalministries.org/missionaries/kim_kushner
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopa) is native to North America and was a staple in the Native American diet. It was imported to Europe in the early part of the 16th century by the Spaniards via Turkey (the country.) It was confused in those early times with the Guinea fowl which also arrived via Turkey, and both birds were called turkeys in those days. When it was assigned its latin name in the 18th century, the name turkey still stuck. Native Americans called it peru with no reference to the country of the same name.
Turkey was introduced to the early Pilgrim settlers by the Native American Wampanoag tribe after the Pilgrims arrived in 1620. The first year for the settlers was bleak, with many dying from the journey. Their seeds, aside from barley, did not produce any usable crops. The Indians assisted the settlers, introducing them to native foods such as corn and squash and showed them how to hunt and fish. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 at the behest of Governor William Bradford, and the Native Americans were invited guests of honor.
Thanksgiving became an official holiday in the United States on October 3, 1863 via proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln. This was largely due to the lobbying efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Magazine who had lobbied for 17 years for the holiday. The proclamation declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
By 1916, Thanksgiving was referred to in writings as Turkey Day due to the popularity of the bird at the traditional feast.
Interestingly enough, in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to move the official Thanksgiving date to earlier in November in order encourage a longer Christmas shopping season as a Depression recovery strategy. His idea was shut down by Congress, and the official date was declared permanently as the fourth Thursday in November via Public Law #379.
The popularity of wild turkeys nearly wiped them out. The federal government stepped in with protection in 1991, and they are now found in 49 states.
Turkey was most-associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, making winter the prime season for turkey farmers. In 1935, the per capita consumption of turkey was only 1.7 pounds.
Today, turkey has been recognized as a lean substitute for red meat. Aggressive marketing by turkey farmers by advertising and availability of parts rather than the necessity of cooking a whole bird has increased consumption to 20 pounds per person per year, with 74 percent of the consumption being in sliced turkey sandwiches.
And, of course, who can resist drying the wishbone from the breast of the turkey to make a wish?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Good news friends. Paralyzed Rutgers Football player Eric LeGrand was upgraded from a complete spinal cord injury to an incomplete injury. This gives him a better chance at a recovery. Keep praying for Eric to walk again. God does miracles all of the time!
Here is the NJ.Com story. http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2010/11/change_in_rutgers_football_pla.html
And here is a link to the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund webpage. You can help Eric out by donating to the fund and/or buying Believe clothing. http://www.scarletknights.com/believe/
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Loneliness ate away at Scott that made him so miserable. If YOU are lonely, take the time to hear what Scott has to share. A Christian Video Testimony about God's Grace!
Monday, November 22, 2010
- Ed & Miriam Noyes
- Lusekele Agricultural Development Center, Vanga, Bandundu Province, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Partners with the Baptist Community of Congo and the Lusekele Agricultural Development Center. Helping the Church to improve food security and livelihoods for semi-subsistence farmers through practical ag innovation, extension services, and market development. Equipping local congregations to serve their neighbors through literacy classes. Developing stronger lay leaders for more effective ministry and mission.
To find out more about this mission go to http://www.noyescongo.blogspot.com/
Friday, November 19, 2010
The Harry Potter Movie is out. I want to do anything by waving a stick and saying the magic words. However, it doesn't work like that. Instead, God can do anything without all of the sillyness.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I believe that our world is searching for the right way to live. And I believe that we are slowly getting closer to the right way of treating each other. It is just taking some time.
Back in fourteenth century France, things were pretty bad compared to today. English armies were invading every few years. After the battle ended, the English King would leave behind large numbers of soldiers, not wanting to pay for their return to England. These men became roving bands of outlaws, attacking villages and travelers. Between the wars and the outlaws, there was also the black plague, which was devastating the people of Europe. In those days, when a village needed help neighboring villages did not respond to their pleas. If they were attacked, their neighbors armed themselves and hoped they too would not be attacked. If the plague struck, doors were shut and locked. If hunger assailed people, there was no help coming from nearby towns or villages. There were plenty of instances of individual compassion and help. Many individuals put their lives on the line to help others. But no general organized effort existed to help neighbors in trouble. And the thought of helping strangers who lived far away, would not have even occurred to most people at this time.
Move to the nineteenth century. The historians call it the age of volunteerism, when most of the organizations that help victims were born. In 1863 a Swiss citizen, Jean Henri Dunant spoke out for the need of an international organization to help wounded prisoners of war with improved medical care. The Red Cross, Red Crescent, and articles of the Geneva Convention came out of his efforts. Before Jean Dunant people didn’t care about prisoners of war, wounded or otherwise. Armies also attacked hospitals as if they were active fighting units. The conditions in prisoner of war camps were horrendous. The average person of the day would not care about the deaths of enemy soldiers. And yet Jean Dunant did care. And not only that, he convinced other people to care, so many that even the governments took notice and supported his efforts.
The creation of the Red Cross and the many other organizations created in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are an amazing part of world history. No where else in our history can I find large numbers of people organizing to help others from around the world. Individual acts of mercy are common throughout history. But organizations that help strangers from other countries, which speak other languages, who have strange customs and who worship gods with different names, that is a new and marvelous thing! In the last several hundred years, the number of these groups has expanded a great deal. Many of the organizations are religious and many are not. Many of the groups help people, and some are out to help animals and the environment. Even countries are joining into this wonderful development. Not only does the United States’ defense department prepare to fight a war, they also prepare to launch peace missions. In light of our war ravaged history this has been truly amazing!
The world is evolving ideas of truth and justice that are being recognized as universal. Treating all humans with love and respect was a concept that only a few held a thousand years ago. But today, many more people hold to these principles. I believe that some day, all humans will hold the same basic principles of treating each other as we would our family. And so I believe that universal principles of behavior will continue to develop over time to guide future generations.
God Bless You,
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Rights groups say Burma has one of the world's most oppressive governments. There are over 2,000 political prisoners in its jails and the military is accused of systematic forced labor, torture, rape, and murder.
Aung San Suu Kyi says she will continue to push for an end to abuses.
But Case in Hong Hong says if she is too vocally critical of the government she can be easily silenced.
Read the rest of the article from Voice of America.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Michelle Otero talks about life as a Strip Club Dancer with two children to life as child of God.
Monday, November 15, 2010
This is an inspired Christian ministry in the north of Thailand. ABC missionaries help the Akha people sell homemade clothing and other items online. It’s great because they work and can support themselves with the sales.
Now here is a chance for you to do your part. Open up your wallets and buy some of their stuff for Christmas. It’s inexpensive and really cool. So, open up that wallet, pull out that credit card and buy, buy, buy.
The Akha hilltribe people have immigrated from Burma and China over the last 100 years to the country of Thailand. They also reside in Laos and some in Vietnam. They have come seeking freedom from the conditions in Burma and China. Perhaps originally from Tibet, they are a gentle people who live off the land. They have survived by hunting, gathering, and "slash and burn" agriculture. Today, an Akha traveling to Bangkok some 500 miles from Chiang Rai to work for six months is not unusual. If an Akha person can get a Thai citizenship card, it is considered to be a great achievement within the Akha village community.
To learn more and buy some neat stuff; Akha Craft Center Internet Store
Friday, November 12, 2010
You don't want me to cook for you, unless you have good Health Insurance. However, I can do God's Work on this planet and so can everyone else. A Pastor Bill Video Message.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
How do we learn the difference between right and wrong? When I was a child, I learned right and wrong from my parents. Today my children learn the same from me. They watch how I behave and they imitate me. If I handle trouble by getting angry, they will do the same. If I settle arguments by being a peacemaker, they too will learn to become peacemakers. We learn from our parents the basics of right and wrong. We learn from each other what it means to be moral and ethical.
I have several friends named Ken and Bonnie, who have shown me what it means to live a good moral life. Over the years they have taken people into their home that had nowhere to go. This had happened so often that their kids didn’t even ask who was coming. They just started moving their stuff into another bedroom. Then my wife and I invited a family into our house to stay. And we looked at each other and said; we’re becoming like Ken and Bonnie! These two people taught my wife and I selfless living just by being themselves.
Not only have I seen a truth filled life in other people, but I have lived it myself. I have had many opportunities to help people in trouble. Recently several people asked me for used furniture. They were too poor to buy furniture on their own. Unfortunately I don’t have any furniture stored anywhere, but I started asked around. Soon several people were donating furniture, and a friend with a truck was transporting it. It felt so good to help out people in need. Surely I experienced truth when I helped these people.
I believe that many simple truths of how to live a good life are all around us. We learn these truths from our families. We learn these truths from our neighbors and friends. We learn these truths through everyday life. Developing caring relationships is the best teacher of right and wrong. Because we know how we want to be treated, we know how other people want to be treated. Because we wish to be loved and respected, we instinctively know that everyone else wishes the same thing.
* By the way. This article was written a while ago. Recently, Betsy and I have opened our home up again to an 18 year old boy who had some problems at home. I guess the lessons we learned from Ken and Bonnie are still alive and well in the Whitehead household. I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn from two wonderful people.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- At least three people were killed and 25 wounded Wednesday morning in continuing attacks on Christians in Iraq, an interior ministry official said.
The roadside bombs and mortar fire targeted Christian homes in several Baghdad neighborhoods, the official said.
On Tuesday evening, three people were wounded in western Baghdad when bombs exploded outside Christian homes there, the ministry said.
It was not clear if the injured were Christian residents or others on the street.
A group called the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the gruesome October 31 siege of the Sayidat al-Nejat cathedral that left 70 people dead and 75 wounded. The umbrella group includes a number of Sunni extremist organizations and has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.
On Sunday, a Syriac Orthodox archbishop in Britain called for all Christians in Iraq to leave the country and slammed the Baghdad government for not doing enough to protect the rights of minorities.
Read More; Attacks on Christians Continue
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
After a dramatic vision, a Jewish man studied the Bible for many years as great literature, then finally accepted that Yeshua (Jesus) really is the Messiah of Israel. He became a new and better person, but then realized that his Jewish identity is still very important to God!
Glenn Blank is now a professor of Comoputer Science as well as the Messianic Rabbi of Beit Simcha (www.beitsimcha.org) in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The clip is from a TV show, The Living Truth, hosted by Pastor Larry Burd, on WBPH 60 in Bethlehem, PA.
Monday, November 8, 2010
A Network of churches and community organizations are helping refugees from Myanmar (Burma) make a new life in the USA. Here is a common story from one of the girls who now live in Rochester NY.
I am from one of the Christian families from Myanmar that have been brought to the United States. I was born on October 15, 1991 in Chin State Matupi Town. When I was six years of age my father died suddenly of an unknown illness. Seven years later I lost my mother, again to an unknown illness. At the age of thirteen I had lost both my parents and went to live with my Uncle, who was very good to me.
I was taken from Thailand to Malaysia at which time we were living in the refugee camp. We were very fearful of the soldiers. They would stop us all the time and want to see our Citizen Card which we did not have because we had fled the country of Burma I was very sad because I had lost my parents, I had to flee my country and now I could not go to school. One day my Uncle was stopped by the police and they demanded his Citizen Card which he did not have at this time. He was arrested and sent to jail. I was sad and lonely but the people in our villages took care of me. I was very grateful.
When my Uncle was released from jail we began to apply to the UN so we could come to the United States. It took us two years to finally be able to leave Malaysia. During that two years we lived in fear of being put in jail. There was a lot of red tape to go through but on November 19, 2008, my Uncle and I arrived in Rochester, New York. Even though I am happy to be here I will always miss my country. I am studying very hard in hope that I may go to college to become a doctor and someday return to my country to help my own people.
I want to take the time to thanks everyone for everything they have done for me. Thank you and God bless America.
If you wish to learn more on Christian Refugee Mission.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I hike quite a bit, and so in the woods I have often found the remains of unbelievable human behavior. The skeletal remains of cars, stripped of everything including the engines, left to rot miles from the nearest road. Junk tires, foam insulation, plastic sheets, dumped deep in the evergreens. The remains of buildings, most likely ghost towns, spray painted or just smashed to bits. This behavior has caused me to wonder why people do crazy things in the woods. Why go to all of the trouble of traveling miles from home just to get drunk around a camp fire and smash beer bottles on the ground? The answer that I have come up with is that people feel free in the woods. With no one else around they feel released from the restrictions that society places on them and they think that they can do anything. And by anything that includes destroying property that doesn’t belong to them and/or permanently damaging natural habitat that belongs in the public trust. And so my question to you is; is this what freedom looks like?
I certainly hope not. If freedom means that I can do anything that I want to do, including hurting others, then the free life is not a life worth living. So if I reject this common notion of freedom, then what is the alternative? There must be limits that we place on our behavior. If not then we take away the freedom of others. We must restrict our actions in order to live together in a supportive way.
Society must have rules. There must be a code of conduct by which we operate. But the limits of our rules are being pushed by our individualistic society. The Internet is an amazing creation that gives all of us many ways to express ourselves. I looked for advice on building a telescope. And I was pleased to find many people who build telescopes as a hobby. And they are happy to publish instructions on how to do this. This is a great example of the positive impact the Internet has had. But the Internet also can have a destructive impact. I remember the story of a local politician whose home phone number was placed on the Internet as an ad for sex. It was like saying, for a good time call… This man and his family were harassed day and night until they changed their phone number. The story expresses the need for some restrictions on self-expression. Unrestrained expression means that innocent people are going to get hurt.
There are issues here that affect our greater society. Did you know that anyone could learn to make a bomb on the Internet? This type of information has been available for a long time in obscure books. But those books were hard to come by. Now this information is easy to obtain. Many people can learn to make bombs out of materials purchased at hardware stores. I’m not sure whether the second amendment protects the publication of this material or not, but surely there must be a way for our society to protect itself against people who spread information for the purpose of hurting others.
Ethical living requires limits on our actions. The unrestricted exercising of rights can take away rights from others. For example, I have seen some ugly fences in beautiful neighborhoods. If you live in a lovely neighborhood with open yards and someone puts up a cyclone fence that doesn’t fit the area, do you have a right to complain? In the Sonoma, California there are many housing developments with strong homeowners associations. They tell the owners what type of fence to put up, what colors to paint them, and what plants can be placed in front of the fences. This makes the development orderly and beautiful. But doesn’t this take basic rights from the individuals who live there? Yet people see the wisdom of giving up some personal freedoms in order to receive something they value in return.
Our right to buy and discard things creates massive landfills that pollute land and water. Our right to go to work for industry also pollutes the environment and causes many to develop health problems. Our right to drive cars that pollute the air causes some people to live indoors because they can’t breath. How does the old saying go? One hand giveth the other taketh away.
We are not free to do whatever we want in the world. I am not free to kill someone just because I feel like it. I am not free to take someone else’s rights away from them.
There must be limits placed on our actions. In order for a fair and just system to exist on our world, some of our personal freedoms must be limited. Our purpose for living is not to impose our selfish wishes onto others and therefore deprive them of important freedoms. We were not placed here on this earth to grab all we can and leave nothing left for others. We were created to care for and love other people as well as ourselves. No one can live in a vacuum. We need each other, and therefore we must learn to limit our actions.
God Bless You,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Please Pray for our Church and Yours! We are struggling financiall, but God is good and we are hanging on. However, I know of two local churches that are in real trouble. Here is an article from USA Today on the struggles of the Christian Church.
Recession pain has hit widely and deeply among U.S. churches — driving down contributions and limiting budgets, according to surveys from two groups specializing in Christian research. Meanwhile, pleas for assistance rose sharply in 2009.
Although pastor Rick Warren, a best-selling author, raised $2.5 million with a New Year's Eve appeal when the budget for his Saddleback Church came up $900,000 short, few pastors have his fame or his affluent Southern California base.
A national survey of 1,002 Protestant pastors in November by Nashville-based LifeWay Research found:
•28% reported raising less money than in 2008.
•57% said the poor economy was hurting their church.
•70% reported increased requests from people outside their congregation for assistance.
•43% budgeted more money to help more needy people.
•3% were considering closing down their churches.
"Churches have not yet entered the recovery," says LifeWay director Ed Stetzer. "Historically, they tend to recover financially when unemployment decreases, usually after the economy as a whole" recovers.
"Still, we have a mandate to help, even when giving is down," says Brady Boyd, senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where 10,000 people attend weekend worship.
New Life dealt with a 13% drop in offerings in 2009 by cutting 25 staff positions through layoffs and attrition, ramping up use of volunteers, and relying on special appeals such as a Christmas collection to help struggling military families nearby to buy food.
"I'm proud that our people rallied and we do as much or more in ministry than we did before," Boyd says.
Read the rest of the article here:
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Deepak Matani, a succcessful ethnic Indian management consultant based in London describes the events which led him to question the meaning of life and finally yield his life to the Lord Jesus Christ
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I hate Halloween. I hate buying candy. I hate dressing up in stupid costumes. I hate ghouls and goblins. I am the ultimate Halloween party pooper. Every party must have one, and I am it. I am also, not alone in hating this fall celebration.
The Christian world has several responses to Halloween. First, the people who hate it like me, just ignore the holiday and hope that someday it will just go away. Second, are the Christians who try to incorporate the holiday in their ministry. They have events at church with candy and costumes, but they ban scary costumes and have Christian programming as part of the party. I know of one church that has a haunted house that shows kids that if they are not Christians, they are going to hell. Now that is scary.
In the great scheme of things, Halloween doesn’t matter. It’s a chance to have fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What really matters is this, Loving God and Loving People. That is the essence of Jesus’ message. God wants to have a loving, supportive relationship with us. And God wants us to have the same relationship with each other. If we make this simple truth the core of our lives, the rest will be easy. Even putting up with candy and costumes will be a piece of cake.
God bless you,
Friday, October 29, 2010
Christian Contemporary music from Thailand. Sounds just like American Christian Contemporary, just not in our lingo.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Think about the simple activity of holding the door open for someone. It doesn’t take much energy; it doesn’t cause much fuss. Just open the door stand there for a few seconds and that’s it. Amazing how something so simple, easy and pain free could be so satisfying. It feels good to help someone even if it isn’t a big deal. My children feel this way as well. When we decorate the Christmas tree they want to help. They get so excited about being involved in a helping activity. Just being asked to carry something excites my middle son. He says, “I’m a big helper.” My kids are at that age where helping their parents is a special activity. I can understand why they get so excited. It’s fun to help other people. It just plain feels good. I wish I felt that way all of the time. Now if only we could live our lives in such a simple and satisfying way.
Putting other people first can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This is why so many people volunteer to help others. This is why so many people give their hard-earned cash to help those in need. This is why so many of us go out of our way to support worthy and important causes. It may be costly, troublesome, time consuming and downright annoying to volunteer, but in the end we enjoy it. We receive a feeling of satisfaction when we put other people first.
I recently started volunteering at a local soup kitchen. We serve a good meal at lunchtime every Saturday. I met a man by the name of John whom I started to get to know. He comes every week to help with set-up and with cooking. He stays until the very end cleaning and putting things away. I asked him some questions about himself, and he told me how he just recently lost his wife. They were married a long time, and now he is alone. It was very sad to hear. So now he comes to the church that hosts the kitchen on Saturday’s and during the week, if they need anything delivered. And this is his life now that she is gone. I think I would do the same thing. Life is empty without someone to share it with. How much meaning is there in life without someone to take care of? Why sit at home, alone? Why not take care of someone else?
After all isn’t this what we all hope for? Someone to spend our lives with? Someone to take care of? When we are alone we become so anxious, we need to find someone to fall in love with. The drive to fend off loneliness has spawned a multi-billion dollar match making business. But when we find that special someone it must occur to us at some point that love is a two-way street. One can’t be loved and taken care of without putting out love and care in return. People who don’t realize this end up alone again. This analogy extends into our relationships with everyone else we are associated with. If we are to have friends, if we want people to respect us, if we want people to even love us we must be friendly, respectful, and loving in return. If we want people to help us and to take care of us we have to do the same. Life is a two-way street.
And you learn that fast at a soup kitchen. If someone needs to eat, someone has to cook. I do the prep work like cutting carrots, shredding lettuce, slicing tomatoes. Someone else cooks the main meal, which is good because I would probably burn it. Cutting things and throwing them into a salad bowl - that I can do. Then we bring it all out into the main hall and serve it up to the people who come. It’s all worth it when someone says thank you. This is what comes back to you on that two-way street, the grateful thanks of someone who truly needs help. It makes all of the work worth it.
Putting others first is what good parents do. Most of us would say we are good at parenting. We love and care for our child as much as we love and care for ourselves. We would be willing to give our child anything to make things comfortable and safe. We put our children ahead of our own interests. This is a basic truth of good parenting. Parents love their children so much that they are willing to put themselves second behind their child’s best interests. Isn’t the highest form of service to sit with a child day after day and work on his/her homework? The child complains every time Mom pulls the book out. It’s boring to go through the homework and aggravating to deal with a complaining child. And yet, a good parent puts family first.
But isn’t our family more than just the people we are related to? Shouldn’t we treat everyone as family?
I say the answer to that question is yes. Putting others first means treating other people as we treat our family. It means giving the same amount of love and respect we give to our own children to strangers. It means being able to talk to someone we just met with the same concern as we would our own sister. This is a tall order. We don’t always treat our family the way we should, let alone a stranger. But we know in our hearts, that treating everyone as family is the way to becoming a good caring person.
Who are the people we care about the most? It’s safe to say that all of us care most about the people who care about us. Feelings are mutual. Caring people are cared for in return. I have been to funerals where I did not know the deceased person. But I could tell something about that person by the way his/her family talked and acted. I could tell that the deceased person was loved by the way the family loved her. Let’s face it, a loving caring person is loved and cared for in return. It has to start somewhere, so it better start with me.
We don’t have to always be first to be happy. There is much more to happiness than satisfying every whim. Our happiness is dependent upon our relationships with other people. We need to be sensitive and caring of our friends and loved ones in order to experience feelings of contentment. Loving and caring relationships are made by putting others first.