Perspectives

More than we’d like to admit, life changes and it never goes back to the way it was. Yet, if life were a coin, there would be two sides. There would be the side of “I don’t mind losing these things” and then there’s the other side of, “I wish I could go back to the way it was.” Maybe we just want things to be normal again. But there is no “normal again.” There is only what we can do now. It is what we can do now that leads us into a better future.

In my years as a published author, I have encountered countless people who talk about writing a book, yet few follow through. If you’re one of those dreamers who have a book in you, it’s time to buckle down, bite the bullet, and get the job done. Why?

On January 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that January 22 would be the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. January 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion-on-demand in the U.S. in 1973. This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which led to the deaths of over 60 million preborn children in the United States alone. But this year, on the National Sanctity of Human Life Day we will be celebrating last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on a Sunday. This will be the first time in 50 years.

I read recently that thousands of churches close their doors every year. Who knows how many others are on life support? We live in a time when, more than ever, congregations need revitalization and renewal. The eternal destiny of millions depend on the faithful witness of our local churches. As I think about churches dying, I’m reminded there are certain poisons that trigger death.

Bills-Bengals game Monday night, January 2. The Bills medical staff immediately responded with CPR and an AED that made a difference. Miraculously, Damar is still with us. This game-halting play in the first quarter suddenly made football secondary to a life hanging in the balance. This episode starkly reminds us life is fragile and uncertain. We’re one heartbeat away from eternity.

In 1980, two years after Charlotte and I got married, I started my MDiv program at one of our sister seminaries. I remember our excitement in those days. Even though we were poor (like most seminary students) and did not know how the Lord intended to use us for his mission, we were passionate to serve him. That is why I chose the MDiv program.

When the centuries-old church was written off by the Diocese of London, God provided a miracle from unlikely places. Once again proving God, and God alone, has the final word in the affairs of mankind and His church. It was a beautiful bright Sunday afternoon in London in the fall of 2019, a few months before the pandemic shuttered the cities of the world. The morning was spent attending church, the London museum, and several other points of historical interest in the area around St. Paul’s Cathedral. Realizing there was extra time before meeting up with my traveling companion, another history nerd, later in the day, I decided to walk the mile and a half down Fleet and Strand Streets to Trafalgar Square.

On January 9 the Georgia General Assembly will convene for its 2023 legislative session. This year is set to begin what will be the first of a two-year legislative cycle. Therefore, new legislation will be introduced to the Georgia General Assembly. It is not uncommon that over a two-year period, Georgia Baptists will monitor anywhere from 25 to 30 pieces of legislation, covering approximately 18 or more subject headings.

Georgia Baptists pull together through Mission Georgia to share the gospel with some of the state's most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people. Fueled by the generous giving of Georgia Baptists, Mission Georgia provided nearly $392,000 in 2022 to ministries that provide direct care to children, mothers-to-be, victims of human trafficking and international refugees.

Commentary: Prayer makes a difference

Leonard Ravenhill, the English evangelist, wrote, “The greatest undiscovered area in the resources of God is the place of prayer . . . at the judgement seat, the most embarrassing thing the believer will face will be the smallness of his praying.” The Bible tells us prayer is important. God calls us to pray (Jeremiah 33:3). We also know prayer makes a difference in our lives and impacts the lives of others (James 5:16).

Bells clanging, bodies burning, smoke rising — I’ll never forget my first experience of the Aarti along the banks of the Ganges. People were passionately worshiping. Not the Most High God, but the goddess of the Ganges River. Every year hundreds of thousands of worshipers make the pilgrimage from around the world to Varanasi. Every night thousands gather along those banks and in small boats on the river to experience this unique and well-choreographed worship service.

DULUTH, Ga. – Georgia lawmakers will see a renewed effort from the state’s largest religious group to protect biblical definitions of gender and to oppose efforts to expand gambling when they convene next month in Atlanta for the start of the 2023 legislative session. Messengers to the 1.4 million-member Georgia Baptist Convention approved a series of resolution last month, including one that reiterates their opposition to allowing male athletes to compete as females in sporting events.

The Georgia Baptist Pastors Day at the State Capitol will take place Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. Combining the annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Pastors’ Day into one helped make last year’s event such a success. Because of that, this year’s event, hosted by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Public Affairs department, will once again combine the two. We encourage you to join us at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and to hear from legislators, public policy experts and activists.

“Will you make the first and most expensive Christmas gift this year a gift to our Global Missions Offering?” Sitting in the sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina, on the first Sunday of December, I heard Pastor Will Toburen ask that question of his congregation.

Most people no longer get a tax deduction when they donate to charity. That shouldn’t keep you from making donations, but you may want to change your approach. Typically, only taxpayers who itemize deductions can write off charitable contributions.

America’s largest Christmas tree is no longer found at Rockefeller Center in New York City. America’s tallest Christmas tree now resides in Enid, Oklahoma, standing at 140 feet, 75 percent taller than the Rockefeller Center tree. Last year’s tree, dubbed the “Christ Tree,” was ringed with 20,000 multi-colored LED lights, decorated with 10,000 ornaments, and circled with 12 smaller trees.

Georgia’s largest religious organization is still growing both numerically and ethnically. In November, 17 new congregations joined the Georgia Baptist Convention, which has some 1.4 million members in about 3,600 churches.

The ruling that overturned Georgia’s heartbeat law on Tuesday risks the lives of countless unborn babies whose best hope at this point is that the attorney general’s office prevails on appeal.

As we think about all elections, we need to remember that it is imperative that Christians vote and be engaged in this process. It’s one of the most basic rights that we have as Americans and one of the great responsibilities we have as followers of Christ.

Count your blessings, and not just once a year

It’s always something. Last year supply chain issues caused a turkey shortage. This year bird flu (Avian Influenza) is running rampant and impacting chicken, eggs, and turkeys as our Thanksgiving dinner approaches. Hormel tells us to expect a turkey shortage of at least 20 percent, which will drive up turkey prices.

Once again people can get a close-up look at the Christmas decorations at the Georgia state Capitol during a series of Christmas prayer tours which are scheduled starting December 7th. We welcome you to join us! Our prayer tours are designed to give participants the opportunity to be informed about what happens at the Capitol and to pray for those who are making public policy decisions.

International Baptist Church of Debrecen, a collaborative effort church plant between International Mission Board missionaries Gary and Carolyn Miller, national believers and other Christian workers, has grown to reach 50 people each week. In this international city, the church focuses on college students and young adults who come to Debrecen to make their home while studying.

One of the easiest things to find for many people is fault.  There’s always a critic.  In fact, criticism is the one thing many believe is more blessed to give than to receive.

In Bible times, the name was more than a label, but was given to communicate character or designate mission. When the angel told Mary she would bear a son and call his name Jesus (Luke 1:31), he told her how great Jesus would be. Philippians 2:9 says His name is a name above every name, the most important name in all the earth.

Only a few decades ago, the Bugkalot people were one of the fiercest tribes in the Philippines, known for beheading their enemies. No outsider who contacted the tribe survived, and the people around them lived terrified of them. Then, in the 1950s, the gospel slowly took root in the tribe after some of the leaders met believers and came to faith.

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