This is the time of year when people are making New Year’s resolutions. Typically, the most common is to lose a few pounds.  I suspect you want to lose a couple of pounds. Maybe you need to lose a lot of pounds. Many of us do. From September 1 through December 27, I gained 15 pounds. I know, that’s really bad. I wasn’t bad for four months but I had a few good spells of being bad. On September 1, I weighed 198 pounds. Then on December 27, I weighed 213 pounds.

Georgia Baptist Convention Vice President Stephen Dervan offered the sobering observation to the more than 100 pastors serving on the Executive Committee that they're "just one step away from stupid." Such frankness is both needed and appreciated.

The Christian Index owes you, our readers, a heartfelt word of thanks this Christmas. That's because you’ve given us the greatest gift a newspaper could ever hope for — your time. Nothing thrills us more than to peek at our analytics page and see Georgia Baptists from literally every city, town and community across the state reading the latest news.

After reading two articles during the past two days, "What the Christ Child Says to the 'Nones'?" and "The New Agnosticism," I wanted to ask and answer this question: "What can we say this Christmas to 'nones' and 'agnostics'?"

Christmas was bleak when I was fourteen years old. My father had fallen off the roof our barn while trying to make a repair. He was severely injured. His hospital and home recovery took months. As a coal mining family, we lived financially tight in the best of times, although farming and gardening often got us over the hump.  With no paycheck coming into our household for several months, I have no clue how my mother and father kept the lights burning.

First Baptist Church of Woodstock hosted Bill Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band’s New Star Shining Christmas Tour 2023 earlier this month. The spacious auditorium was near capacity and the audience was thrilled with an extraordinary concert of Christmas music and segments of hilarity with the banter between Bill Gaither and guitarist Kevin Williams and the comical antics of Mark Lowery.

A song often heard as Christmas approaches is that the holiday “is the most wonderful time of the year.” But for many, it’s a difficult time — especially for those grieving the loss of a loved one who won’t be at the family Christmas gathering this year. Of course, there are other reasons for anxiety. All it takes is a look at the  news stories each day and you quickly understand the perilous times of 2023.

The Georgia Baptist 10th Annual Pastors’ Day at the State Capitol will take place Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Once again, we will be combining the annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Pastors’ Day into one event. We encourage you to join us at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and to hear from legislators, public policy experts and activists. This also is a great opportunity to invite your state senator and house member to attend with you free of charge.

Natalie Grant, the contemporary Christian artist, was interviewed on this year’s special “Christmas with Will Graham.” She learned early in life that Christmas is about giving. Grant was raised in Seattle, and every other year, her family piled into a motor home and traveled from Washington to San Diego to visit grandparents.

Christmas is always changing. The biblical story never changes, but your story is always changing. How we celebrate and view the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus may change throughout life. We view the story one way as children but then the story matures as we age.

Sometimes, God chooses to emphasize his message, through silence. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist. He and his wife Elizabeth had grown old and the joy they had long prayed for, a child, had seemingly passed them by. The hope of sharing their home with a new life was replaced by the silence of a house without a baby’s cry, a toddler’s footsteps or a child’s voice in play.

Christmas is a joyful season but always has some challenges. The place of Christmas is often a question. Mary and Joseph ended up in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. They had gone there to pay taxes. Paying taxes is never fun but something we have to do. The place they ended up when Jesus was born was probably not their desired location to bear their first child but they made the most of the location. 

The Christmas rush is in full throttle and the pressure is on to get it all done before December 25. I admire those wise folks who make Christmas purchases all year long. Of course, if I was smart enough to purchase gifts ahead of time, I’d probably forget where I hid them.

Giving Tuesday isn't about giving, it's about supporting ministry efforts like Camp Pinnacle, that witness to young women around the state, by improving the quality of their facilities. By giving, you can help provide a new bunk bed for someone to experience rest and hear the Gospel during camps and retreats.

PLAINS, Ga. – While I have had the privilege of meeting several presidents and attending the inauguration of one president, I only met one first lady, Rosalynn Smith Carter. I met Jimmy Carter when he was governor of Georgia. In fact, I brought a church group to Atlanta from North Carolina in 1971, and he was coming down the steps in the rotunda of the state Capitol as our group was ascending the stairs. I introduced myself and told him that we had 45 senior adults visiting Atlanta and the surrounding area on a three-day excursion. He stopped and spoke to our group for at least 5 minutes and told us about his Baptist background.

Commentary: The gift of forgiveness

As we enter into the holiday season, I’d like to share with you a story. I can hardly believe it myself, but every bit of it is true, “so help me God.” Admittedly, I’m no Charles Dickens and the prisoner next to me is not exactly Tiny Tim but I’ll try my best to tell it. His name is Milton and he walks with a permanent limp now because of an exchange of bullets he had with someone in the streets.

In reflecting on the life of Rosalynn Carter, Americans should note her civility, a character trait that seems to be in short supply in today’s political world. She was a genuinely good woman, a wonderful example of a Christian lady, and a tireless humanitarian. Mrs. Carter didn’t tear others down. Instead, she built them up.

When one reads the fifth chapter of Matthew, he finds out that the blessings of God are so numerous and expansive that they can’t be calculated.  Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gives us just a few of the blessings that God has for us.  It is easy for a person to live life without ever thinking of the many ways that God blesses our lives each day.  We seem to think that a blessing is something that is physical or material; something that we need but that is a wrong conception. 

Once again, we are planning for our annual Christmas prayer tours at the Georgia State Capitol! This is a great opportunity for people to get a closeup look at the Christmas decorations at the State Capitol and participate in a series of prayer tours which are scheduled to start on December 6th.

We have often heard it said, and I believe, that witnessing is absolutely essential to the survival of Christianity.  It is so essential that we are told in Matthew to reach all nations for the Lord.  In Acts 1:8, we are also told that we are given the ability to witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.  I think that there are a number of things we should note about this thing called witnessing.

Some people try to forgive but they never forget.  The people of Israel will never forget the October 7th massacre by Hamas which barbarically took the lives of over 1400 people. The goal of Israel now is to eliminate Hamas by whatever means it takes. 

The great evangelist D. L. Moody loved to study his Bible, and he realized one day that he had never tackled the topic of grace. He took a day and did a Bible study on God’s grace. A second day was required, and then a third. By the afternoon of the third day, Moody was so filled with the idea of God’s grace that he had to go out on the street and talk to someone about it.

Have you ever had a sinking feeling that there’s a bigger problem lurking around the corner?  Maybe you have noticed drops of oil on your garage floor or a water stain forming on your ceiling. These types of scenarios are examples of small symptoms that reveal much deeper problems beneath the surface. Whether they are the result of unintentional oversights or reveal some level of negligence on our part, left unaddressed you can be certain that the cost and collateral damage will be far greater than if you confront the issue head on. 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Earlier this month, my wife Martha Jean and I visited the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina’s Queen City. I was filled with joyful anticipation at the prospect of digesting and absorbing the detailed and diagrammatic biography of one of the world’s most beloved and respected leaders; and I was not disappointed.

Georgia Baptists are so thankful for the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court that was in favor of Georgia’s heartbeat law! This is a big victory for life in Georgia! Judge Robert McBurney presided over the original case in the Fulton County Superior Court, which challenged the constitutionality of the LIFE Act. SisterSong, et al, asked Judge McBurney to essentially repeal the LIFE Act and argued that the law was unconstitutional at the time it was passed in 2019, before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a legal principle known as “void ab initio.”

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