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A Cautionary Word to Pastors about Internet Resources

Whether you call such a person a guide or a guru, it has become increasingly and painfully clear to me that pastors need some personal guidance about the use of online resources for preparing sermons, Bible studies, etc. The first point I would stress is that there is a reason a lot of the resources [Read More...]

We're Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:51
I've always loved Christmas.  But, I'll have to admit that since having my boys Christmas is just a lot more fun and meaningful.  I know I go a little overboard but I spent many,...

Tempted to Tell ALL

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:00

Jim Bakker is Back— And Doesn’t know Beans about the Apocalypse

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 03:43
If you are old enough to remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the Praise the Loot (err…. Lord) Club, and the Jessica Hahn scandal, all courtesy of a little place just south of my home in Charlotte N.C. then you may remember that the Bakkers could rightly be called world-class prosperity Gospel scam artists. [Read More...]

Books that have shaped me

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 03:21
I was tagged months and months ago asking for the ten books that have most influenced me because of how they stretched my thinking. This post has been languishing in drafts since then, occasionally...

Winter is near, and so is our latest newsletter!

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 20:21
The nights are getting longer. Christmas is getting closer by the minute, but our newsletter is just two clicks away!

On Holidays for an Australian Christmas

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 18:20
Our lunch-time stop on the trip up to Rockhampton. There's been lovely rain along the coast recently and we enjoyed beautiful green along the road. I'm well and truly into our Australian Christmas...

On Holidays

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 18:20
Our lunch-time stop on the trip up to Rockhampton. There's been lovely rain along the coast recently and we enjoyed beautiful green along the road. I'm well and truly into our Australian Christmas...

Merry Christmas

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 17:58
  Wishing all our friends and family a very blessed and joyful Christmas. Thank you so much for all your love, support and prayers over the past year. Love and Blessings, Phil, Martha and Family

Which traditions do you choose?

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 17:52
Just realized that this is going to be another ex-pat post! I guess there's nothing like the holidays to prompt some cultural analysis. Bulletin Board Christmas re-do It's harder to pass on...

Love and Ender’s Game

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00
Years ago, I read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I was reading serious science fiction, including that written by C.S. Lewis. So when Ender’s Game came out as a movie, I had to see it....

Inside an Immigrant's Thought Process

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 19:16
It is really hard to get inside the head of someone functioning in a second language. I know this because it is my everyday reality, in contrast to the people around me! I like to think of America...

Christmas, exactly.

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 17:42
You know that song, "The First Noel?" The one where an angel appears and tells some chilly field hands to get up and follow a totally obvious star to Jesus?... Every time I hear it, it makes me wanna kick a shepherd.

I'm telling you, those shepherds didn't know what a sweet deal they were getting when they got sucked in to the first Noel! They had it so easy. According to the song, it was just like, “Hey, check out that star! Now follow it 'til you find a baby king in a barn - and boom! You're done. Christmas is over, see ya next year.”
Those lucky bastards didn't have to deal with anything like the list of crap we have to do to pull off Christmas. They didn't have to think about teacher gifts and white elephant parties and pesky little things, like credit limits. There were no lights to hang, no trees to decorate, no cookies to bake, and none of them had to find coordinating outfits for a family picture that match, but aren't too, like, matchy-matchyY'know?All they had to do was go find Jesus. And they had a star to show them the way!

Christmas was just so simple.

The first noel sounds like a cakewalk compared to this Noel. Can you imagine if someone wrote a song about this Christmas?
It would go like “La La La. An angel came to the folks fighting for a spot in the Target parking lot at 10 p.m., and sang, 'Merry Christmas! Born is the King of... retail shopping.”, and then there would be a verse about throwing your back out while you pull eleven bins of Christmas shit out of the garage.
Ok. It wouldn't be a pretty song. But it would be pretty accurate.

Seriously though. When did Christmas turn into this? Thisrace to the finish line?

It's like I start on full throttle the day after Thanksgiving, and I keep running, as fast as I can, until I come to a screeching halt on Christmas Eve, when my bank account is too empty and my belt is too tight, and I can finally sit back in a chair at church for a Christmas Eve Service and breathe a sigh of relief, because ~ by the Grace of God ~ it's almost over. Thank you, baby Jesus! 
During the "candle light" service, I will hold my glow stick high, and I will sing all of those beautiful but historically inaccurate Christmas songs loud, and my Joy will be complete - because I did it. I made it to the final stretch. That night, I will close my eyes and pray in earnest thanksgiving, because at home Santa Claus is poised and ready for attack and a Honey Baked ham is waiting for the oven. 
Our holiday celebration will last a few hours, and in a matter of days I'll be sweeping Christmas out of my house along with a mountain of torn wrapping paper and broken ribbons, and pile of dead pine needles. The gifts will have been given, the feast will have been eaten, the food coma will be wearing off to the special kind of quiet that settles over a house filled with brand new hand-held electronics. And that's when I will tie up Christmas with a neat little bow and shove it back in the garage until next year.
Oh, how I envy the shepherds in that stupid song! I envy the simplicity of the first Noel. I envy how the way to worship was marked clearly in the sky. I mean, I don't know about you, but I could really use an Angel to appear out of nowhere and tell me where to find Jesus in all of this, to show me the way, to point out the star. 
I mean, I know the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of a Savior - and I know He's here somewhere, in the mess I've created - but I feel like maybe I'm running too fast to see Him. Maybe my view of the New Born King has been obscured by so many boxes of Christmas junk. And maybe all these twinkly lights are only serving as a distraction from The One Light I should be looking for.
Maybe I'm doing it wrong.
...But I don't really know how to do it right. 
To be honest, I'm a Christian and I'm not even sure what Christmas should look like, exactly.
I just have a feeling it's not supposed to look like this.

Just for funzies, here's my favorite meaningless Christmas carol - by The Pentatonix, because WHO ELSE?!

Merry Christmas 2014!

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 16:52
Dear friends and family, We are hoping this finds you enjoying the Christmas season as we are down south of the equator!  The tree is up, paper snowflakes made, and Tommy hung the last string of...

Wow! This country is absolutely gorgeous…outside of Quito.

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:33
We took a trip to a town called Papallacta which is about an hour and a half outside of Quito. I wasn’t expecting to find such beauty so close to the city. But lo and behold there it is. Once...

A New Partnership - Reaching and Teaching

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:12
It is hard to believe our time in the States is about over.  Time flew by, and we certainly did not get to spend the amount of time that we wanted with everyone we wanted to meet up with. ...

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Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 04:17
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing.Psalm 100:1-2, ESV   Church where they worked with the kids Hiking...

The Changing Face of Employment in Biblical Studies

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 03:25
I was having lunch with my friend Jerry Sumney in Lexington. He’s a very fine NT scholar at Lexington Theological Seminary, which in essence has stopped having regular semester on campus classes. It does online classes, and has intensives in January and in the summer. It does not take a seer to see that in [Read More...]

Blue Springs State Park

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 00:52
I worked at this park one summer when I was 17.  I emptied a lot of trash and cleaned a lot of bathrooms.  Good practice for life in ministry. The weather has been unseasonably unseasonable and with...
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