December 2012

Praying through the 52 Sundays

December 31 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

For many people the New Year is a time for a fresh start – a time to resolve to do things differently than the year before. Although we usually begin the New Year with great expectations we often, after a short time, find ourselves already behind in our commitments and resolutions.
 
This year I want to encourage you to resolve to do something that is not only practical and doable, but is very much a necessary and critical component to the life of God’s followers. I want to encourage you to pray for missions and ministry efforts here in North Carolina and around the world. Last year churches across North Carolina prayed for many months that God’s work during our annual meeting would be a catalyst for spiritual renewal. We prayed for spiritual awakening and for God to lead us toward repentance and personal holiness. God was faithful to answer our prayers during the 2012 annual meeting in Greensboro. I hope this will be a spark used of God to ignite the fires of revival that will spread through churches all across this state and nation.
 
I remind you that we must continue to be fervent in prayer. One way you can do this is by committing this year to pray every Sunday – all 52 Sundays – for ministries and missions that are helping advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
Our staff at the Baptist State Convention developed a prayer guide to help you pray every Sunday for missionaries serving overseas, across North America and throughout our state.
 
You can use this devotional prayer guide during your personal quiet time, or you may choose to use this prayer guide during a time of family devotion. Pastors, this is also a great resource for you to use Sunday mornings with your congregation.
 
Your church should have received in the mail a copy of this prayer guide. You can order additional copies by visiting www.ncbaptist.org/cp or emailing cp@ncbaptist.org. On the website you will also find available for download PowerPoint slides that accompany the prayer guide. 
 
Every individual you read about in this wonderful devotional tool is supported through your gifts to the Cooperative Program. The Cooperative Program is how we as North Carolina Baptists, and Southern Baptists, work together to support ministry and missions.
 
I believe in the Cooperative Program because it allows local churches to work together. I believe far more is accomplished for our Lord’s Kingdom when we serve together rather than when we try to do it on our own.
 
As you read about these pastors, church planters and missionaries, please pray for God to work mightily and to transform hearts and lives.
 
Ask God to show you how He may be leading you to support these missions efforts.
 
I pray that as you commit to praying on Sundays you would be reminded of our God’s goodness and incredible power. He is at work among us, and He calls us to be on mission for Him.
 
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2
12/31/2012 1:46:15 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Abiding in Christmas joy

December 17 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

Did you notice how quickly the stores and shopping malls began to decorate and get ready for Christmas?
 
They want to get customers “in the mood” for gift shopping. People are excited to start the Christmas season. I greatly enjoy this special time of the year, including the decorations and festivities. I hope you have some Christmas memories you treasure, and I hope you are able to create some new, enjoyable memories this year. Christmas is also a special season because it reminds us of the eternal hope we have available because of God’s love for us. 
 
As we plan for the Christmas things we enjoy, we should also remember that many people hurt and experience great difficulties during this time of year.
 
People in New York, New Jersey and other places are still trying to get back on their feet after Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home and robbed them of family members and friends. Others still need our help to meet their most basic needs.
 
You can still help by giving a gift to North Carolina Baptist Men designated for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Many families still struggle financially and will have a hard time providing their children with Christmas gifts. Others are fighting grief, cancer and medical crises and will spend much of the holiday season in a hospital instead of being with family and friends. Will you sense God impressing you to help someone who is hurting?
 
The fact remains, no matter what hardships you are enduring today, you can indeed have joy in your heart this Christmas.
 
As much as we enjoy gifts and parties and decorations, Christmas is not just about all those things – it is about the Christ child. I pray your heart will be filled with deep, abiding joy because you remain confident that the Savior loves you with an unconditional, steadfast love and you live in a vibrant relationship with Him.
 
Christmas is about rejoicing in our Savior, who came into this world to save mankind from the sin committed against God.
 
It is because of Jesus’ virgin birth, His vicarious death on a cross and His victorious bodily resurrection that we are offered eternal life in His name. The Bible emphatically teaches there is no other name by which we can be saved. His grace is sufficient.
 
Who do you know who needs to hear the gospel message this Christmas? Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker who needs to know Jesus so that they, too, can experience true joy during Christmas? Be bold in your witness for our Lord during this Christmas!
 
Gloria and I wish for you a Christmas filled with joy and love.
 
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
12/17/2012 2:48:38 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Please support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

December 3 2012 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

In 2009, I was privileged to preach and promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Va., where Lottie was baptized as a young girl. Lottie was small in stature (4 feet, 3 inches), but powerful in her witness for Christ because she spent time in prayer. She devoted her life to caring for the Chinese people and telling them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
On Dec. 24, 1912, 72-year-old Charlotte Digges Moon boarded a ship from China that was bound for the United States. She was desperately in need of medical care. Lottie Moon, as we know her today, died aboard that ship after serving 39 years as a missionary. 
 
This year marks 100 years since the death of Lottie Moon, and I cannot help but reflect on the legacy of this remarkable, godly woman. She was willing to live far away from family and friends in order to serve God. She cared little about material possessions and often gave her food to the poor.
 
In 1918, the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after Lottie Moon, who encouraged WMU to begin an offering to support missionaries. Since that time, Southern Baptists have given more than $3 billion through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. 
 
The International Mission Board (IMB) is able to support about 4,900 missionaries through this offering. In 2010, IMB missionaries helped plant more than 28,000 churches, baptized 330,823 new believers and led 442,385 people to Christ.
 
IMB missionaries serve in many different areas throughout the world, including areas where there are few, if any, believers. About 3,400 people groups are still unreached and unengaged with the gospel. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering helps our missionaries take the gospel to people who have never heard the name Jesus. This year’s offering goal is $175 million and the theme is “Be His heart, His hands, His voice.” Free resources, such as videos, posters and bulletin inserts, are available at imb.org. On this website you will also find a free prayer guide. I encourage you to pray for the missionaries and the various people groups highlighted in this guide.
 
As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to take the gospel into all the nations. Our lives should reflect the glory of the Savior who lives within us. We are called to be God’s heart by loving others and showing them compassion and grace. We are called to be God’s hands as we care for people. We are the voice of our Savior as we tell others about His steadfast, amazing love and mercy.
 
I pray that as we enter this Christmas season we will give sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. When you give, you are investing in our Lord’s Kingdom and making a difference for eternity.
 
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25
12/3/2012 3:48:30 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments