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Blegging for Missions

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I’m not one to bleg (blog begging, for the uninitiated), but I think this is an event worthy of the action. My wife has the opportunity to take part in a mission trip in August, and the mission team is in need of additional funds. Read on and see if you might be willing to help.
It began with a mission trip to New Orleans planned by my church. Our youth group has a major mission trip each year, and my wife planned to go. Unfortunately, she had to back out because of a training obligation for her job as a private school teacher. While the youth group, and some adults (including my parents) were in New Orleans helping with recovery, my wife was in Lancaster, PA, training. As you can expect, she was not happy about missing out on this mission opportunity, and explained this to the folks at school.
When the folks at the school learned that she was missing out on a mission trip to go to training, they were able to offer her a consolation prize. Their church, you see, had a mission trip coming up as well. This mission trip didn’t conflict with anything else, and she was offered the chance to go with them. What’s more, this trip is to help build and support a home aimed at Peruvian street orphans. The wife is going to Peru.
Adding one more person to the mission trip did add some financial burdens. They aren’t great, but they do exist. There’s one more person to fly down. One more person to feed and house, as well. The mission trip, previous to her joining, was fully funded, so the need is there for a bit more funding.
That’s why I’m blegging. If you would be interested in supporting this mission, please contribute. Contribute as much, or as little, as you feel led. Any additional funding raised for the mission trip will also go toward this mission, as the home being developed will need additional funding as well. The hope is to contribute to this effort as much as possible. Missions is about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ as our savior, but it is also about helping those who are truly in need.
To find out more about the home being built, and the need being met, visit Peru Missions.
To contribute, send a check to:
Sandhills Alliance Church
P.O. Box 3222
Pinehurst, NC 28374
Attn: Peru Mission

Killing Christmas? It’s Nothing New

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Every year, the hubub between the anti-Christmas folks and the pro-Christmas folks gets more heated. This year, it has reached a fever pitch. I wrote a bit about it last year, and I thought I might add a thought this year.
Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, we celebrate during the wrong time of year. Yes, the date was chosen to pre-empt a pagan celebration. No, everyone does not believe in God, or that Jesus is an aspect of God given an existence of flesh to complete a divine task. Antagonism toward those who do not believe, however, is not the way Jesus would want us to spend the season of celebration.
Jesus was born an outcast. There being a major influx of people into the town of Bethlehem at hs birth, there was no space available for Mary and Joseph to stay, and for Jesus to be born. The inns were full. Private homes, which often had guest rooms, were full. Undoubtedly, the spaces available for travelers were holding far more people than they were designed for.
Word of the impending birth of a messiah-child reached the King, who had no need for an upstart usurper to his crown. He set out to have Jesus killed. If there ever was an attempt to kill Christmas, it was through this act of Satan through the king.
Today, we’re merely faced with unbelievers who dislike being asked to acknowledge what they see as a fictional character. Facing the day with incomplete information and a belief that the day is based in fiction, I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to say “Merry Christmas.” The answer is not to respond with hate, but with love.
I feel pity for those who do not believe. I can see what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ has done in my life, and the lives of my friends and family. It hasn’t been easy, as I watched those things I thought I wanted be put aside by my King to be replaced with greater opportunities and benefits. My own wants were leading me nowhere, while God had a greater plan for my life. I must celebrate the birth of the King that has taken me in and given me the benefit of his leadership.
I’ve had to give up things I thought were great. I thought I had a great opportunity in my business. I thought I had a car I loved. I thought I had some good friends. I’ve had to give up the business, the car, and some friends. Doing so has resulted in greater benefits. I now have a greater income, with more available time to spend with my family. My car has been replaced by a much more enjoyable one, which requires little daily maintenance. My former friends have been replaced and multiplied, with others who I respect more, and who are not sources of constant opposition. As a result, my work ethic is greater than ever before, I have more time to spend with my friends and family, my income has risen, my respect among my peers has grown, and I have some truly fine friends like none I’ve known before. I don’t begrudge my old business. I don’t miss my old car. I pray for my former friends.
When I encounter an anti-Christmas or anti-Christ individual, I don’t jump in and argue. I smile, and let it go. I pray for them, that they can come to know the Lord that I know. I pray that they will change in their heart. I pray for their prosperity. One particular former friend has apparently spent a considerable amount of energy wishing me ill. What he might not know is that I’ve been praying for his success.
That, I believe, is what Jesus wants me to do. Knowing what Jesus has meant in my life, I can do nothing less than celebrate his birth, his life, his death as a sacrificial lamb to absolve me of my sins, and his resurrection that proved his victory over Satan and death.
Merry Christmas.

China’s Early Christian History Proven?

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St. Thomas is believed to have travelled to China in his travels Eastward, eventually being killed in India. Little evidence exists for the claims that he visited China, but possible clues may have been discovered that he, or another missionary, made the trek around this same period. Wang Weifan, a 78-year-old scholar of early Christian history in China has found what he believes to be images of Christian stories in stone relief in Eastern China. The images, found in the tomb of an aristocrat from the Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) appear to depict scenes from the creation, Adam and Eve, and even the birth of Jesus.

“There was Christmas. There was Genesis. There was Paradise Lost. They were on display, one by one, on 10 stone bas-reliefs excavated from an aristocrat’s tomb in the Han Dynasty,” said Wang, a professor of theology at the Jinling Theological Seminary in Nanjing, as he told his story to China Daily

There are critics of his claim, from the government-run antiquities community, who claim that the images look nothing like what Weifan has described. The article’s accompanying image sure looks like Christmas to me.

Hurricane Relief Benefit Notes

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Yesterday was the day of my church’s hurricane benefit. The youth group, which I am one of the adult leaders of, gave up one of its retreats to put on this event, which I think was a fantastic success.
The event started nice and early. We held a “yard sale” inside the fellowship hall, which took up at least half of this newly-built facility. To one side was a bake sale, from which we purchased a cake, two pies, two loaves of bread, cookies, brownies, and banana-nut bread. Along one wall were items being sold in a silent auction format, and at 11am we held a live auction. In addition to all of this, we held a raffle for Carolina Panthers tickets.
The proceeds of the event are being donated to North Carolina Baptist Men. The NCBM is one of those fantastic organizations that maintains disaster relief equipment for immediate deployment. When Katrina hit, and federal agencies were waiting for Louisiana’s state and local officials to ask them to help, NCBM was on the road in short order. Within days, NCBM had begun relief efforts, served thousands of meals, and served other needs. As of October 5, 2005, NCBM has served 456,352 in the Gulf Coast area. In addition, 17,476 volunteer days have been provided by NC Baptist volunteers. They have provided 12,742 showers and washed 2105 laundry loads. If you would like to donate to North Carolina Baptist Men’s relief efforts, your donation would be appreciated.
I’m not sure of the final tally of funds raised through our church’s event. From the amount of sales I saw happening, I’m sure it’s significant. More is needed. Remember, NCBM is a front-line relief agency, arriving as early responders to any disaster they can. They’re not alone. There are many more relief agencies in the Gulf Coast area besides Red Cross. I encourage you to seek these other agencies out and support them when you can.

Bono on Grace through Christ

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“That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”

Bono gets it. He’s no idiot. Who would have thought that the #1 Christian band in the world would turn out to be U2?
Link to Christianity Today article
Hat Tip – Southern Appeal

Another Biblical Site “That Didn’t Exist” Found

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The Biblical Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth has long been held by non-believers as a piece of fiction. They simply said the site did not exist. They’ve tried the same trick with other sites and people from the Bible, and often been proven wrong. They’re wrong again, it seems. The Pool of Siloam, one of three to hold that name, has been discovered.
Of course, this won’t stop the non-believers from not believing, but it’s another proof that not all that is called fiction is, in fact, fiction.

Baby Got Book! Watch the Video

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I had to send this link to Nate, the Youth Minister at our church. If you’ve ever wondered what Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song “Baby Got Back” would be like if it were’t about large butts, but instead referenced Bibles, this is the song for you. I found it via Ace of Spades, where it has generated quite a bit of discussion.

Habemus Papum

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It is now official. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been crowned Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church.

White Smoke – Who Da Pope?

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Watching Fox News, it appears that the chimney at the Vatican is spewing white smoke. The white smoke is a century-old signal that the College of Cardinals have arrived at a decision on a new Pope after the passing of the old. In addition, the bells at the Basilica are tolling, an additional signal decided on after troubles with grey smoke last time out.
Announcement of the new Pope is pending.
Heck, I’m a Southern Baptist ogre, and I’m excited.

Believing in God – Is It Enough?

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There are a lot of people in this world who see Heaven as a foregone conclusion. I’m not talking about the people who don’t believe in God, and think that the concepts of Heaven and Hell are fiction. I’m talking about the ones who believe in the existence of the one God and a paradise in which they are to spend eternity. Too many of these people, because they’ve been wrongly taught, think that they are destined to go to Heaven when they die because they believe in God, have been good people, and maybe even went to church.
I worry about these people.

More: Read the rest of this entry…

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