Sunday, October 31, 2010
I hate Halloween. I hate buying candy. I hate dressing up in stupid costumes. I hate ghouls and goblins. I am the ultimate Halloween party pooper. Every party must have one, and I am it. I am also, not alone in hating this fall celebration.
The Christian world has several responses to Halloween. First, the people who hate it like me, just ignore the holiday and hope that someday it will just go away. Second, are the Christians who try to incorporate the holiday in their ministry. They have events at church with candy and costumes, but they ban scary costumes and have Christian programming as part of the party. I know of one church that has a haunted house that shows kids that if they are not Christians, they are going to hell. Now that is scary.
In the great scheme of things, Halloween doesn’t matter. It’s a chance to have fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What really matters is this, Loving God and Loving People. That is the essence of Jesus’ message. God wants to have a loving, supportive relationship with us. And God wants us to have the same relationship with each other. If we make this simple truth the core of our lives, the rest will be easy. Even putting up with candy and costumes will be a piece of cake.
God bless you,
Friday, October 29, 2010
Christian Contemporary music from Thailand. Sounds just like American Christian Contemporary, just not in our lingo.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Think about the simple activity of holding the door open for someone. It doesn’t take much energy; it doesn’t cause much fuss. Just open the door stand there for a few seconds and that’s it. Amazing how something so simple, easy and pain free could be so satisfying. It feels good to help someone even if it isn’t a big deal. My children feel this way as well. When we decorate the Christmas tree they want to help. They get so excited about being involved in a helping activity. Just being asked to carry something excites my middle son. He says, “I’m a big helper.” My kids are at that age where helping their parents is a special activity. I can understand why they get so excited. It’s fun to help other people. It just plain feels good. I wish I felt that way all of the time. Now if only we could live our lives in such a simple and satisfying way.
Putting other people first can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. This is why so many people volunteer to help others. This is why so many people give their hard-earned cash to help those in need. This is why so many of us go out of our way to support worthy and important causes. It may be costly, troublesome, time consuming and downright annoying to volunteer, but in the end we enjoy it. We receive a feeling of satisfaction when we put other people first.
I recently started volunteering at a local soup kitchen. We serve a good meal at lunchtime every Saturday. I met a man by the name of John whom I started to get to know. He comes every week to help with set-up and with cooking. He stays until the very end cleaning and putting things away. I asked him some questions about himself, and he told me how he just recently lost his wife. They were married a long time, and now he is alone. It was very sad to hear. So now he comes to the church that hosts the kitchen on Saturday’s and during the week, if they need anything delivered. And this is his life now that she is gone. I think I would do the same thing. Life is empty without someone to share it with. How much meaning is there in life without someone to take care of? Why sit at home, alone? Why not take care of someone else?
After all isn’t this what we all hope for? Someone to spend our lives with? Someone to take care of? When we are alone we become so anxious, we need to find someone to fall in love with. The drive to fend off loneliness has spawned a multi-billion dollar match making business. But when we find that special someone it must occur to us at some point that love is a two-way street. One can’t be loved and taken care of without putting out love and care in return. People who don’t realize this end up alone again. This analogy extends into our relationships with everyone else we are associated with. If we are to have friends, if we want people to respect us, if we want people to even love us we must be friendly, respectful, and loving in return. If we want people to help us and to take care of us we have to do the same. Life is a two-way street.
And you learn that fast at a soup kitchen. If someone needs to eat, someone has to cook. I do the prep work like cutting carrots, shredding lettuce, slicing tomatoes. Someone else cooks the main meal, which is good because I would probably burn it. Cutting things and throwing them into a salad bowl - that I can do. Then we bring it all out into the main hall and serve it up to the people who come. It’s all worth it when someone says thank you. This is what comes back to you on that two-way street, the grateful thanks of someone who truly needs help. It makes all of the work worth it.
Putting others first is what good parents do. Most of us would say we are good at parenting. We love and care for our child as much as we love and care for ourselves. We would be willing to give our child anything to make things comfortable and safe. We put our children ahead of our own interests. This is a basic truth of good parenting. Parents love their children so much that they are willing to put themselves second behind their child’s best interests. Isn’t the highest form of service to sit with a child day after day and work on his/her homework? The child complains every time Mom pulls the book out. It’s boring to go through the homework and aggravating to deal with a complaining child. And yet, a good parent puts family first.
But isn’t our family more than just the people we are related to? Shouldn’t we treat everyone as family?
I say the answer to that question is yes. Putting others first means treating other people as we treat our family. It means giving the same amount of love and respect we give to our own children to strangers. It means being able to talk to someone we just met with the same concern as we would our own sister. This is a tall order. We don’t always treat our family the way we should, let alone a stranger. But we know in our hearts, that treating everyone as family is the way to becoming a good caring person.
Who are the people we care about the most? It’s safe to say that all of us care most about the people who care about us. Feelings are mutual. Caring people are cared for in return. I have been to funerals where I did not know the deceased person. But I could tell something about that person by the way his/her family talked and acted. I could tell that the deceased person was loved by the way the family loved her. Let’s face it, a loving caring person is loved and cared for in return. It has to start somewhere, so it better start with me.
We don’t have to always be first to be happy. There is much more to happiness than satisfying every whim. Our happiness is dependent upon our relationships with other people. We need to be sensitive and caring of our friends and loved ones in order to experience feelings of contentment. Loving and caring relationships are made by putting others first.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Gideons International has a great ministry giving away Bibles. Occasionally they run into problems. Recently several of the members were handing out Bibles outside of a school in Trenton, NJ. They were asked to leave by the police, despite the fact that what they were doing was legal. My friends in the Gideons say this happens frequently. However, it doesn’t stop them from handing out God’s Word. Please pray for this wonderful mission and all of the members.
It's been just over 100 years since The Gideons International placed the first Bible in a hotel room in Montana. Today, The Gideons are organized in more than 190 countries around the globe. Bibles and New Testaments are printed for distribution by The Gideons in more than 90 languages. Through God's grace and to His Glory, more than 1.6 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been given away.
For more information;
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Josh Hamilton talks about his faith and how God rescued him from addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Monday, October 25, 2010
In November 2008, Habitat for Humanity raised the first wall of a new home for Karen Struck, a single mother of two, in Stoughton, Massachusetts. This video provides of glimpse of the beginning stages of this project, and the wonderful people who are making it happen.
To find out more about Habitat for Humanity visit the Plainfield NJ website;
Friday, October 22, 2010
The Bodo people of Assam, India are one of several tribal communities that have existed for centuries in the jungle areas of this region, although in these days there are certainly Bodo people who no longer living in such isolation.
Incredibly, the gospel has taken root and the church has instinctively offered their own cultural worship, likely because these Bodo people have been hidden off from the rest of the world and its media influences.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES VISIT THE WEBSITE OF HEART SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL AT . . .
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I was involved in a demolition project at the house. I was replacing rotten window sills. I ran into a problem right away with removing the old ones. I cut them in half with a saw and started to rip them out. But I was afraid that I would harm the rest of the window or the wall and so I tapped on the old sill with the hammer and pulled lightly on it with a crowbar. I approached the job very daintily, and so the wood was not coming out of the wall. Then my wife got involved. She said that I was not doing it right and I felt she was butting in. She took the crowbar and started to attack the wood. She banged away at it, ripped, and pulled at it and within a minute the sill was out. I had to admit, that was the right way to do it. She really taught me a lesson. After that if something needs to be demolished, I call on Betsy.
I don’t know anyone who knows everything, do you? Since none of us do, I think everyone needs just a little bit of humility. People who possess humility know that there are experiences beyond their own and there are people who have acquired greater wisdom. I wish I had all of the answers, but I don’t. I know that the way to be successful at my job and in my life is to cooperate with others, to team up with other people who have different skills and gifts to bring to the table. It is a rare individual who can exist alone; it is a humble individual who knows this.
The Boy Scouts know this lesson and so they are always looking for ways to help the boys work together. They have an outdoor obstacle course, called a COPE course, which they use to build teamwork. One of the obstacles is a twelve-foot wooden wall that needs to be climbed. There are no footholds on or around the wall and so the group has to work together to get every person over the wall. It is amazing to watch these different sized people work together. At first the group needs to create a human tower for several to climb up and reach the top. Then those at the top reach down to those on the ground and lift them up and over. The last person has to jump up and grab the outstretched hand of someone at the top. It is a great example of people working together. I believe that no one can work alone. Teamwork and diversity of talent is important for success.
It works that way in my home. Betsy is really good at cooking, but me I could get frustrated boiling water. So Betsy does all of the cooking and I clean the dishes. At least I can’t burn them by overcooking. But recently we purchased a bread machine. You put the ingredients together and place them in the machine and it does the mixing, kneading and baking for you. It is very easy and I happen to like fresh bread, so I started doing the work. It comes out good every time. Hey I might have some talent after all in this cooking arena. Well, maybe I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. But Betsy has been very supportive of my brave new steps into the unknown. And that is the way it should be, we work as a team, we support each other and we are flexible. All of these things are important if we are going to be open to our own gifts as well as the gifts of others.
As I have already said, every one of us has gifts and skills that we can offer. I can do some things well, like sing. I think I am a pretty good singer, I enjoy performing in front of an audience, and I have performed a lot of music in a lot of different styles. From music written in the renaissance to classical through folk and to modern music, I love to perform it all. Like many people I crave the acknowledgement of my skills. I would like people to notice my gifts. All of us want to be recognized for what we do best. And so we should realize that others have this same need. Ask someone to give you a hand the next time you put up wallpaper. They may do a better job than you and they will feel good.
A teachable person is a person who helps several people at once. When I ask someone for help, I receive help and I give something back as well. I receive help because I’m not gifted at everything and therefore I need to find someone who is gifted at the job that needs to get done. The person I ask receives something in return. That person gets validated. By asking, I am telling him that he is good at something. Surely this helps us both.
It certainly helped me when I let Betsy destroy the window sills. She felt good about being able to help. And I felt good because I was better at putting the new ones in. So we both received something. And the reason is, we were both willing to lean on each other, to learn from each other and to allow each other to do what we do best. I just have to remember to stand back; my wife swings a pretty mean crowbar.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed in a collision last Saturday on the playing field. Eric is from Avenel, NJ and played High School football for Colonia High School, right on the border with Rahway. Here is an excerpt from the Star Ledger.
At 4:46 p.m. last Saturday, when his neck and helmet smashed against the shoulder of an Army kick returner, the ordinary college life of Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was throttled to its core.
According to neurologists, however, that brief, cataclysmic moment, was only the beginning of his injury. In spinal-cord cases such as his, a cascade of physiological crises is unleashed by the initial blow. Assessing the damage caused by these injuries will go a long way toward determining whether LeGrand will ever walk again, neurologists say.
Read the rest of the article: http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2010/10/rutgers_community_awaits_news.html
There is hope: http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2010/10/adam_taliaferros_message_to_ru.html
My son will be graduating from Rutgers soon. He will be the tenth person in my wife’s family to get a degree from RU. We are very shaken by this. Please pray for Eric and ask God for a miracle.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Party Girl Jennifer realizes that lots of sleeping around and drinking is not the way to live.
If you would like to HEAR more REAL LIFE STORIES of Hope and Encouragement, you can click on this link: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/R... If you would like to READ more REAL LIFE STORIES of Hope and Encouragement, you can click on this link:
Monday, October 18, 2010
Below is an excerpt from the diary of a New Jersey Christian who went on a mission trip to an Orphanage in India with Pillar of Fire Missions.
I’ll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on Renuka. She is one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. Being taller than most of the girls at Happy Home, Renuka sat in back of all the other girls in the left most corner, quietly staring at all of us.
Read the rest of her story at this link.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
At one time much of Central Asia was under Russian control and, although they now have their independence, civil war has caused much suffering. Still, their beautiful cultural forms of music, dance and celebratration have remained strong.
Spiritual interest is common, and the primary religious expression is Sunni Muslim of the Hanafite branch. Although small, a church has been birthed here and is learning to offer worship of their own heart sounds. You will hear this in the video, and you will see a blending of live worship along with the wonderful dancing from a local wedding celebration. The life of both the song and the dancing express so well the heart of these people.
COPYRIGHT HEART SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Everyone was partying this week in Chile. The trapped miners were released and the rescuers proclaimed as heros. Do you want to be a hero? Then you can't sit on the sidelines. A Video Message from Pastor Bill.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
A Video from last Saturday's Puppit Show Ministry at First Baptist. Here are links to more videos and some pictures of the event. It was a wonderful show and a great blessing.
I got into trouble when I sent my wife on a fools errand. She went to pick up my son at his friends house, about 20 miles from here. And wouldn’t you know, right after she left he comes walking up the drive way. Our friend Adele said that she told me she was going to drop Edward off at our house. And so I knew I was in deep trouble. How can I have forgotten such a crucial piece of information?
I tried to remember what Adele said to me and when she said it. I thought about pleading ignorance and claiming that she didn’t tell me. The only problem with this strategy is that I do remember her telling me. But I wasn’t really listening. I was thinking of something else at the same time she was speaking to me. And so I remember hearing her, but I also remember other things going on in my mind as well. If I had paid more attention to what she was saying and focused on how important it would become, I wouldn’t have been sweating it out as I waited for my wife to return. And the things that were distracting me weren’t important anyway. I have to remember to stay focused. It is really important to listen to people. That way I won’t get killed by my wife.
The skill of listening to people is very important. It means disciplining our minds to really pay attention, and not letting our thoughts wander. When we’re talking to someone, we need to zoom in on our friend’s words, look into her eyes, and understand everything she is saying. This takes practice and self-discipline. I think about how often I have allowed my thoughts to wander onto the football game that is being played on the television, instead of listening to what my wife is saying. I’m sure she senses that my mind is drifting, but she puts up with me anyway. But I would understand if she became angry with me. Let’s face it, when we open our mouths we all feel we have something important to say. And when people ignore us, it gets frustrating. So when I feel that someone is paying no attention whatsoever to my words, I just want to walk away and do something else. Learning to focus on what other people are saying communicates that we care to the person who is speaking.
And that’s what this is all about - building up our friends. We care about so many people. We care about our friends, our neighbors, and our relatives. Most of us care about the people around us and so we want to help them feel good about themselves. No one feels good when being ignored. So that’s why it’s so important to listen. But there are other ways in which people communicate their thoughts and feelings.
I love to look at the birds of prey migrate over the Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary in PA. Every year thousands of different raptors - hawks, falcons, kites, Osprey’s and Eagles - fly over the mountain on their way south. And on the mountain thousands of bird enthusiasts stand and sit on rocks with their necks craned upward to look at the birds as they fly over. Among the throngs of people sitting on rocks are the expert bird watchers that count the flying travelers in order to monitor bird populations. A bird flies over and the expert says it’s a Coopers Hawk. Another bird flies over and he says it’s a Northern Goshawk. I can’t tell the difference. Even when I look in the bird book, they look almost identical. How can these people looking through binoculars at a bird a mile away tell the difference between them? Because day in and day out they watch the birds and they learn to recognize the subtle differences that make them unique.
In the same way it is important for us to love our friends by learning to recognize the subtle ways they communicate. We don’t always say what we mean. We don’t always express our thoughts. But you know the old expression; he wears his thoughts on his sleeve. It is impossible for me to hide my mood. It’s as plain as the nose on my face. And my wife definitely knows if I am angry just by looking at me. I make it obvious that I am mad or upset. But I drop other more subtle hints about my mood because I’m not so sure I want to talk about it. My family and friends have learned over the years to recognize my mood swings. When we care enough about each other we can learn to pay attention and understand the unspoken communication in the body language of our friends.
Paying attention to the details of a person’s life validates them. My wife comes home from work and talks about what she did during the day. She used to work in the Food Industry surrounded by chemicals all day. She would come home and talk about the product she was working on or the smelly chemicals she was working with. She didn’t have to tell me about them because I could smell them. I had no clue what she is talking about because chemistry was my worst subject in grade school, along with English (and now I am writing a book, go figure.) But just listening to her talking makes her feel good. And as long as I am really paying attention to her and not letting my mind drift off onto other things, I let her know that she is important to me. I believe this is part of the reason our marriage is so wonderful.
The people we love need to feel important. And it is not that hard to help them to feel good about themselves. It doesn’t make us feel too bad either. We just need to pay close attention to what they say and do. Our faces and bodies tell others how we feel. Our words tell others what is going on inside. We communicate our emotions even when we want to conceal them. I believe that all of us can understand each other better. I know that it is possible to be more caring of others. The trick is to understand people by paying close attention to their words and deeds. A good person listens to her friends.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
In this video the Family of Christian converts in Turkey publically forgive the murderers of their family members.
Monday, October 11, 2010
We praise God for the faithfulness of both old and new believers! The Icy Baptism video is an actual baptism of New Believers from the Yamal area of northern Siberia. This region remains under harsh conditions and can be described as rural and bleak . This group asked Russian Missions director, Rev. Alexander Yuchkovski (aka Pastor Sasha) to baptize them in strict accordance with the Bible's guidelines of full immersion.
However, the temperature for weeks had been well below the freezing point, which is not an unusual occurrence in this region. Pastor Sasha and Pastor Anatoly Marichev (Russian Missions missionary) surrendered to the new believer's wishes and baptized each individual in a local frozen lake. Although, in order to even enter the water, both Pastors had to chop into over six-inches of ice using quickly found sharp edged farming blades.
This video was not staged and only accidentally captured by a friend of one of the New Believers.
For more information about Mission in Russia go to;
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
"Jirtdan's Adventure", a Children's Christian Musical composed and recorded in Azerbaijan (Jirtdan is a symbolic word for lovely child in Azerbaijan). Jirtdan's Adventure takes the young singers and listeners on an exciting journey with the final destination leading to a recognition of the love of Chirst.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES VISIT THE WEBSITE OF HEART SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL AT . . .
COPYRIGHT, HEART SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Ah, the sweet smell of failure. How many times must I crash and burn in my life? How many times must I feel like I am a complete and utter failure? I don’t have an answer to these crazy questions. But I believe that we all ask them at one time or another. Everybody fails at something. But I think that the key to ultimate success is perseverance. And that includes persevering at loving and supporting relationships. Not giving up on someone tells that person how much you care about them. And I believe that will lead to success in the end.
I have a dear friend named Anna who is a prison minister. She is a woman of a certain age. Every Sunday she goes to the local county jail and leads worship with the women who are incarcerated. She visits them at least once during the week. She brings gifts and special things at the holidays. She even celebrates Christmas in July with them. She works hard and takes good care of people who are in desperate need. One would think that people would see the good in doing this type of work. No way.
When Anna first started she received what she understood as a clear call from God to reach out to these poor needy people in the prison. At the time there were only a handful of women in trouble. A local priest was coming around for communion but no one was spending much time ministering to their needs. Anna walked into the warden’s office and told him of her vision. She was thrown out. She stopped in again and was thrown out again. Now Anna is an older woman and retired. She isn’t very tall or imposing. But when Anna gets something in her head you just can’t move her. If she believes that God wants her to do something – come hell or high water – nothing is going to stop her. So Anna told me that she went to the front doors of the prison every day for what seemed like an eternity telling them, “The Lord told me to minister to these women”. She did this until they finally – grudgingly let her in. At first the guards didn’t like her and made life miserable, but she persisted and slowly some of the guards started to treat her well. She just wore them down. Now Anna has a thriving ministry at the prison. Many people are helped through her work.
Being unwilling to give up is a sacrifice. It means that we have a desire to continue suffering in order to see us through to our goals. Giving up is easy, we don’t have to suffer through the pain of failure anymore. Someone tells us to go away, we go away and we try to forget it happened. But to come back time and again requires emotional sacrifice. Anna was refused time and again and must have suffered greatly from the rejection. But she didn’t give up and because of this many people have been helped by her ministry. Even as I write this book I know that I will be rejected over and over by publishers. But I will persevere because I believe that I can be of some help to people. Serve people and never give up.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Before atheists like Richard Dawkins became popular, Antony Flew was the most famous atheist philosopher in the academic world. It was a complete shock when he converted to Theism. Here is a video of his reasons for seeing the light.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Every child has a story. For 1.5 million American children, that story is filled with the abandonment, loneliness, and shame that comes from having a mom or dad in prison. At Angel Tree, we find ways to reach out to these children, by sharing Gifts and Christ's love with them at Christmas and by developing year-round relationships. In the end, it's so much more than giving Christmas gifts-it's about restoring families.
To give a gift to a child at Christmas or to find out more go to; http://www.prisonfellowship.org/deliver-love
Friday, October 1, 2010
Due to the sensitive nature of this part of the world no faces are revealed in the video. Neither is a description offered. Rather, we will let the music, images, and scripture lyrics from Psalm 7 reveal the wonderful Spirit behind this recording.
COPYRIGHT HEART SOUNDS INTERNATIONAL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.