December 30, 2008

More Christmas Festivities

(kids in their costumes)

Since Christmas isn't a holiday here in Thailand, it is difficult to do things on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because everyone works. So we celebrated Christmas at our church on the 28th instead. We gathered for worship in the morning and after church we loaded up and headed out to Jom Tong to have a special Christmas outreach. For me, the greatest part of the day was that 42 people from Antioch travelled in 5 trucks in order to participate in the outreach. Like always we played games, the children from Antioch had a special Christmas performance and afterwards I was able to talk for a few minutes about Christmas. The past 2 Sundays, we have had about 80 kids come to our English club. Last Sunday there were a number of adults too.

I am so thankful for Tawm who worked especially hard before the outreach preparing costumes. Tawm and 3 women from church spent a number of long days sewing the costumes (Tawm didn't even know how to sew but learned in order to make the costumes). The costumes looked great, the kids did a great job of acting too. Everyone from Antioch and the people that came really enjoyed their time. We also handed out a lot of tracts and pray that our Christmas outreach will begin to bear fruit that way too.

(our church gang and others)

December 29, 2008

Christmas Serenading

This year Tawm got some of the kids from Antioch Baptist Church together in order to do some Christmas Caroling or as they call it here in Thailand, Christmas Serenading. Tawm, a few adults and about 15 kids loaded into 2 vehicles and drove to different church member's houses to do some caroling. At each house, the hosts had different foods prepared for the kids, including a main meal at one house, to snacks and fruit at other houses. I stayed home to look after Owen. Caroling started about 7 o'clock but Tawm didn't get home until after midnight! I think everyone really enjoyed it.

December 25, 2008

A Great Christmas Sports Story

Thanks to Wayne Drehs and for writing this story about Kurt Warner (just click on the red print to access). This is a story that we don't see or hear about often in today's media, but one that needs to be told.

Merry Christmas Blog Readers!

 We wanted to start off by wishing all our blog readers a Merry Christmas and thanking all those who take the time to keep up on what is happening in our lives here in Thailand.
Last night we were able to spend Christmas Eve with another missionary couple who has been a huge help  to us since I arrived here in Thailand. Although we didn't have any turkey or ham, we had a great fondu dinner. They had their house nicely decorated too. Since we don't even own a Christmas tree, we figured it would be a good time to take some Christmasy pictures. Hope you enjoy!

December 16, 2008

New Work in Jom Tong

Over the past several weeks, we've been doing evangelism in Jom Tong or having special prayer meetings on Sunday afternoons for the city of Jom Tong. This past Sunday, we started a children's club at one of the schools there. The school has given us permission to use their facility free of charge and the school's English teacher has been promoting the club to other schools in the area. This Thursday, I will go out to Jom Tong to teach English in the school and promote the children's club.

We've been eagerly anticipating the new work in Jom Tong but had no idea what to expect. We were excited to see over 40 kids from grade 3-9 show up. The teacher told us that she was unable to promote it at all the schools that she wanted to and this week she will promote it some more. We had kids from about 5 different schools in Jom Tong.

On December 28th, many of the people of Antioch Baptist Church will be journeying out there to do a special Christmas program. We will encourage the kids to bring their parents and we will present the gospel that day. I've included some pics of the day of Jom Tong and a pic of Owen too.





December 11, 2008

Materialistic Christianity and Me

This coming February, I have to teach a class about Christian Financial Principles at the seminary. As a result, I am currently reading some books on financial principles. When I first started thinking about the class, I figured I'd talk about budgeting, saving and tithing (which I will do to some degree) but I have started reading a book by Randy Alcorn called "Money, Possessions and Eternity". From the get go, this book has been hard hitting and has made me really think about my ideas of money and prosperity. I've never highlighted a book up as much as this one. Although I'm only a few chapters in, I highly recommend this book.

I just finished a chapter talking about the lies of the health and wealth teaching which teaches that God wants to bless us financially and make us rich. Although, the teaching is clearly contrary to Scripture, it's still amazing how much my materialistic, western world view shapes my Christianity. At the end of the chapter, the author shares 2 stories, one of an American and another of a Chinese man living in mainland China. The stories really struck me and helped me to see how much of my worldview is shaped by materialism rather than Christ. I hope they stir your heart like they did mine.

Here's the 2 stories and the author's commentary:

In America, a sharp-looking businessman stands up at a luncheon to give his testimony: "Before I knew Christ, I had nothing. My business was in bankruptcy, my health was ruined, I'd lost the respect of the community, and I'd almost lost my family. Then I accepted Christ. He took me out of bankruptcy and now my business has tripled its profits. My blood pressure has dropped to normal and I feel better than I've felt in years. Best of all, my wife and children have come back, and we're a family again. God is good - praise the Lord!"

In China, a disheveled former university professor gives his testimony: "Before i met Christ, I had everything. I made a large salary, lived in a nice house, enjoyed good health, was highly respected for my credentials and profession, and had a good marriage and a beautiful son. Then I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. As a result, I lost my post at the university, lost my beautiful house and car, and spent five years in prison. Now I work for a subsistence wage at a factory. I live with pain in my neck, which was broken in prison. My wife rejected me because of my conversion. She took my son away and I haven't seen him for 10 years. But God is good, and I praise him for his faithfulness."

Material blessings and restored families are definitely worth being thankful for. The brother in China would be grateful to have them again; indeed he gives heartfelt thanks each day for the little he does have. And while the American brother is certainly right to give thanks, he and the rest of us must be careful to sort out how much of what he has experienced is part of the gospel and how much is not. For any gospel that is more true in America than in China is not the true gospel.