Month: December 2013

Thank you readers!

Thank you to my readers in 2013!  I had a lot of fun writing and I hope you had fun reading.  My writing also helped me with my healing  following Isaiah’s death in 2012.  Thank you for your support to our family!

I am slowly learning more about blogging.  I am planning to focus these more in 2014 and I may consolidate them to make my life easier.  Stay tuned.  For 2013, I had a grand total of over 15,000 reads in 70 countries.

My two books came out in 2013 and I have a children’s book in the works.  I HOPE to have exciting news of another project in 2014 but we will need to wait and see how it progresses.

I pray for God’s blessings to all of you in 2014.  I pray for wisdom as my fingers continue to hit this keyboard.

Brian

Hannah thanksgiving

 

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A little Perspective

Let’s get serious for a moment: I love animals. My dog sleeps under the covers in my bed. I love everyone else’s dogs. I like cats. I feed birds. I love wildlife. I am a tree hugger as well. BUT, folks c’mon. Lets get serious. We have animal sponsor funds to “save” dogs and cats. Little perspective – dogs and cats fend for their lives in almost every country of the world besides America. I’m not happy about that. I think people who abuse an animal should be punished – remember, I love animals. But the day I sponsor an animal protection charity over children who are suffering and starving will be a cold day . . . . Putting an ad on TV with ‘O Holy Night’ playing with sad dog faces. Really? How about some perspective?

We need responsible pet owners.  We need to stop puppy mills and abuse.  But have you ever held a hungry child?  Have you ever walked the slums of the poorest?  A little perspective is needed.  Sponsor a child this year.  Give some time to help a human. 

 

Miracle or Curse?

We often think that if we are on God’s path life should be easy.  When we hit obstacles, discouragement, failure or loneliness we quickly jump to the notion that we have made a wrong turn or worse: that God has abandoned us.  Consider the birth of Jesus.  God spoke to a young woman and “blessed” her with a child.  I write “blessed” because to me what happened to Mary could easily look like a punishment or life ending failure.  I wonder if the question “what did I do to deserve this?” ever came up.  What did Joseph really think?  Most men would have walked away – or ran!

Pregnancy out of wedlock.  Threat of divorce.  Threat of death. Separation from family.  Poverty.  Forced travel by donkey in 9th month. Travel to a foreign city.  Overcrowded conditions.  Sleeping in a dirty barn.  Delivery in a barn.  No doctor.  No medical help.  No sterilization.  Travel back to hometown by donkey.

Questions, doubts?  I would have had thousands!  There was nothing romantic about this assignment.  There was nothing glorious other than the visitation by angels.  Life for Mary and Joseph would have been much simpler without God’s “blessing”. 

Two thousand years later we celebrate this miracle.  In current terms this “miracle” must have seemed like a never ending curse.  

When God calls you, be obedient like Mary and Joseph were.  But don’t expect a rosy path.  God will bring your miracle.  It just might look the way you think a “miracle” is supposed to look.

Luke 2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Do you know how St. Jude’s Hospital began?

Danny Thomas and the Founding of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

More than 70 years ago, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he’d done, Danny prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.

Two years later, Danny had achieved moderate acting success in Detroit, but he was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once again, he turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny asked the saint to “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”

His career took a turn for the better, and soon he moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers. A few years later, at another turning point in his life, Danny visited a church and remembered his pledge to St. Jude. Again he prayed to St. Jude and repeated his pledge to build a shrine to the saint if he would show him the way.

In the years that followed, Danny’s career flourished through films and television, and he became an internationally known entertainer. He remembered his pledge to build a shrine to St. Jude.

Danny started raising money for his vision of St. Jude in the early 1950s. By 1955, the local business leaders who had joined his cause began area fundraising efforts, supplementing Danny’s benefit shows that brought scores of major entertainment stars to Memphis.

*Based on the 2010 Philanthropy 400 ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Luke 21:1-3 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said,“this poor widow has put in more than all the others.

Give what you have.  Dedicate it to God.  Follow your vision.  Bathe it in prayer.

Bedding Down for the Winter

sarahpatelagape

Growing up as a RefugeeGetting ready for winter takes on somewhat of a different outlook when you are refugee struggling to make a life away from home.

Earlier this week I spoke at our fundraising dinner for Syrian refugees at a local Syrian restaurant in Birmingham. My talk wasn’t about the situation from a removed perspective but was actually sharing stories on behalf of the refugees themselves. At the end of November I had the opportunity to join with the Global Aid Network staff from Canada on a visit to the work they are doing in Jordan to support Syrian Refugees.

It is striking that while we might think that since the chemical weapons have been removed that the situation is improving when the reality is very much the opposite and many of the Syrians we met reported that the conflict is in fact getting worse. There are now nearly 600,000 refugees in Jordan…

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Bitcoin

Many of you may not be familiar with this.  I certainly don’t understand it.  Is it a fad or is it a new currency?  Time will tell.

Revelation 13:16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark . . .  

 

I am NOT declaring this the mark of the beast.  We need to be aware of what is happening around the world.  Wake up and pay attention.

 

Bitcoin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
Bitcoin
Bitcoin logo.svg

A common Bitcoin logo[1]
Ledger Transactions are verified and secured by decentralized peer-to-peer network.[2]
Date of introduction 3 January 2009
User(s) International
Issuance 25BTC every ten minutes
 Source Total BTC in Circulation
 Method The rate of new Bitcoin creation will be halved every four years until there are 21 million BTC[3]:17
Subunit  
 .00000001 satoshi[4]
Symbol BTC, XBT,[5] BitcoinSign.svg, ฿ (note: this also is thebaht symbol),[6] Ƀ[7]

Bitcoin is an open source peer-to-peer payment network and digital currency introduced in 2009 by pseudonymous developer “Satoshi Nakamoto“.[8] Bitcoin has been called a cryptocurrency because it uses cryptography to secure funds.[9]Transactions transfer bitcoins, the unit of currency, between Bitcoin addresses derived from cryptographic public keys. To spend the funds associated with an address, a user must broadcast a payment message digitally signed with the associated private key. Transactions are verified by a decentralized network of computers all over the world. Specialized computers use aproof-of-work system to prevent people from copying and spending the same bitcoin multiple times, a problem for digital currencies known as double-spending.[10] The operators of these computers, known as “miners“, are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted bitcoins.[11]

A collection of addresses and their associated private keys is known as a wallet. These may be stored online on the web, on local hardware (like a personal computer or mobile device), or on paper print-outs. Thefts of bitcoins from online wallets have been covered in the media, prompting assertions that the safest way to store bitcoins is in a paper wallet generated by the owner on an uncompromised computer.[12]

In 2012, The Economist reasoned that Bitcoin has been popular because of “its role in dodgy online markets”,[13] and in 2013 the FBI shut down one such service, Silk Road, which specialized in illegal drugs (whereupon the FBI took control of approximately 1.5% of all bitcoins in circulation).[14] However, Bitcoins are increasingly used as payment for legitimate products and services, and merchants have an incentive to accept the currency because transaction fees are lower than the 2 to 3% typically imposed by credit card processors.[15] Notable vendors include OkCupidRedditWordPress, and Chinese Internet giant Baidu.[16]

Speculators have been attracted to Bitcoin, fueling volatility and price swings. As of November 2013, the use of Bitcoin in the retail and commercial marketplace is relatively small compared with a relatively large use by speculators.[17]

Have life in full

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:7, 9-10 NIV

sheep

Photo Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/4561405278/sizes/m/in/photostream/        Tim Green

Preacher’s Kids #4

1 Samuel 2:18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to[c]the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

One of the greatest impacts to me growing up a preacher’s kid was that I literally grew up in the church.  The church building was often my playground and I spent countless hours playing and just hanging out there while my dad worked.  I’m not saying that playing in a church building makes one spiritual but for me it made it a place that I wanted to be in.  I was comfortable there.  I liked being in the sanctuary when it was totally empty and quiet.   It was so peaceful and I often felt the presence of God there.

On Sunday’s we were the first ones there and the last ones to leave.  I’m no longer the first one there but I am often the last to leave.  My complaint now is that we live 25 minutes away from our church building.  I miss being able to just go in and hang out.

We don’t need to be in a church building to grow up in the presence of the Lord but as parents we need to offer opportunities to our children to be in His presence.

church

Kyrgyzstan

camkyrg.jpg

(Photos courtesy Christian Aid Mission)

Kyrgyzstan (CAM/MNN) ―Kyrgyzstan is the first country in Central Asia to have a democratically-elected head of state. Unlike the rest of Central Asia, persecution of believers comes mainly from family, friends, and community. In rural areas especially, Muslim-background believers face enormous pressure to recant their new faith.

To be a traditional Kyrgyz practically equates with being Muslim. Identifying oneself as a Christian brings all sorts of challenges for new believers who experience misunderstanding, ridicule, and in some cases even abandonment by families who feel they have scorned their very heritage.

Nearly 90% of Kyrgyzstan’s 5.5 million people consider themselves Muslim, according to Operation World. Most adhere to a form of traditional Islam that combines remnants of tribal folk practices with Sunni beliefs.

More militant forms of Islam, however, are perceived to be a threat to the country’s secular government. To combat increased pressures from radical groups, Kyrgyzstan passed a law against extremism in 2005. Additional religious laws approved in 2009 tightened controls on all faiths but had an especially adverse effect on Christianity.

Read more:  http://www.mnnonline.org/article/19248

Violence in Guatemala

World

Life is Worth Nothing in Guatemala

By  / December 02 2013 1:36 PM
Guat1

Violence is a way of life in this Central American country.   Lianne Milton

There’s a common phrase that Guatemalans say about violence in their country: En Guatemala, la vida no vale nada. In Guatemala, life is worth nothing. During the country’s bloody and genocidal 36-year civil war, about 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” and buried in mass graves. It left a brutal legacy of violence on the social fabric of this nation of 15 million.

Just two years ago, Guatemala elected its first peacetime military leader, President Otto Perez Molina, a former army general who emerged from retirement to run on using an “iron first” to fight crime. He’s been criticized for the way he’s used the country’s military to respond to protests or combat organized crime, and has facedaccusations of human rights violations from his role in Guatemala’s civil war.

There are reports of improvement in the country, but cartel, gang, and street violence persists. A hired assassin can earn about $20 per murder. Mexican drug cartels, such as the Zetas, are new players in a complex mix of paramilitary and vigilante groups that lurk in the country’s shadowlands. Today, Guatemalans live in a society where 98 percent of all crimes go unprosecuted.

Last year, there were 34.5 murders for every 100,000 people in the country. That’s a decreased rate from previous years, although the first half of 2013 actually showed anincreasing number of murders. Violence still touches far too many lives in Guatemala, where nearly 100 people were murdered each week last year.

Visit Lianne Milton Photography

Full article and photos: http://www.newsweek.com/life-worth-nothing-guatemala-207586

12Guatemalans celebrate Dia de los Muertos by flying colorful kites to scare off bad spirits so that the dead can enjoy offerings by the families. Many Guatemalans seek solace from violence in religion. Lianne Milton

12Family members react to the death a 31-year-old man who was shot in his car in Guatemala City in 2011.  Lianne Milton

Full article and photos: http://www.newsweek.com/life-worth-nothing-guatemala-207586

Note from MissiontoMission: These murder rates are about the same for Chicago.  There are areas of Chicago and other cities where the murder rates are actually double these statistics.   That is not a statistic to be proud of – but it does bring a different perspective to this story.  There are dangerous areas in any city of the world.