Christmas Eve Reflections…

Hello everyone and Merry Christmas!

  This has been a wonderful year for Uncle Jeff. Why? Many reasons…but the most obvious one is Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Second? I am now a married man! On August 15th, I married the love of my life, Rachel.  God has blessed me richly with this lovely woman. Hallelujah!

  Okay…now to some reflections:

  I have been thinking about salvation, the Gospel, assurance of salvation, perseverance of the those who are saved, and all kinds of other things these days. Here are some Scripture meditations and links to Gospel-related content that I think might be helpful.

  1. A few years ago I wrote a blog about my belief in Jesus. These statements are simply written to be clear for those who might speak English as a second-language. I did not back them with Scripture, but I can if anyone needs clarification. Click here for that blog post.

  2. Lately, for my morning devotionals I have been pondering the “faith chapter” in Hebrews – Hebrews 11. In that chapter, the writer of Hebrews (I think the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews) Works through an amazing list of men and women who had faith in God and were counted righteous because of their faith. Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

   The amazing thing about this chapter is the people Paul references are deeply flawed, sinful humans. If you take some time and read the life histories of these people in the Old Testament, you would see that they have serious issues. Adultery, murder, deceit, pride, anger, etc. Now, does God just overlook those issues in these people? No…not at all.

  Rather, God forgives them of their sins just like He will forgive us….through belief in Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel. In Romans 10:17, Paul writes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Jesus said, “I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

  You must be born again through belief in Jesus Christ. You believe that Jesus is God. You know that you are a sinner. You repent (turn from) of your sin and ask God to forgive you through the blood of Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross paid your penalty. This turning from your own righteousness to trusting in Jesus for salvation is hard on your pride. Turn. Trust. Repent. Believe. Live!

  Here are some links to resources for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These men can explain it in ways that I cannot. Take some time and watch and listen. Really try to hear the Gospel. Do you believe?

   – John Piper: John is a pastor in Minnesota. He loves Jesus. He explains the Gospel in 6 minutes. Click here.

  – Propaganda: Prop is a spoken-word artist who loves the Lord and proclaims the Gospel in a unique and powerful way. The message is true, but the delivery is anointed. Click here.

  – Tim Keller: Tim is a pastor in NYC. New York City?!?!?! Yep, New York. He is a clear speaker. This clip is from a Q&A session at a university. He clarifies the difference between religion and true faith in Jesus. Click here.

  I hope and pray these resources give you something to think about and to place your hope and trust – Jesus!

  Merry Christmas,

  Uncle Jeff

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Christmas Cheer

Hey y’all-

Last week, the church where I serve as Associate Pastor, GracePoint Church, participated in an effort to deliver food, toys, and clothing to those less fortunate in eastern Kentucky. We loaded up, headed out, stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and drove over 200 miles into the hills and hollers of Kentucky.

The day was a cold, rainy, cloudy day…perfect for delivering Christmas cheer to those who need it. And, a great day to show the love of Christ through a tangible expression of clothes and other goodies.

When we arrived in Lynch, KY, we met Lonnie and Belinda who head up a sweet little ministry empire (can I use that word?) called Meridzo Center Ministries. Lonnie told us about how they came to acquire their Solomon’s Porch Retreat Center.

Short version:

Lonnie and his wife were offered an opportunity to buy the retreat center. It was an office building that was built by a corporation in the 1920s. The owner wanted $85,000.He gave Lonnie and Belinda 30 days to buy the place.

Lonnie and Belinda had $0. So, they prayed.

Lonnie told us that he didn’t ask anyone for any money. They didn’t send out a letter asking for support. They didn’t do anything but pray. As God began answering their prayers, money started coming in. Over a period of three weeks, they had received about $25,000. This was good, but not enough.

One week before the sale was to happen, the owner called Lonnie and they made plans to meet and hand over the deed. The owner reminded Lonnie of the amount-$85,000. He asked how much money Lonnie had…Lonnie said, “$25,000.” The owner said, “Remember, you need $85,000.” Lonnie said, “Yeah, I do, but I don’t need it today. I need it one week from today and God will provide.”

During that week, Belinda was contacted by a benefactor who said he wanted to send them some money. He had been praying and God had told him to send some money to Lonnie and Belinda. She told him to send it on….

A few days later, Lonnie asked about the money the man was to send. Belinda checked and said he had wired it. Wired? Lonnie asked, “How much did he send?” They checked with the bank and he had sent $65,000.

Lonnie and Belinda had a cashier’s check for $85,000 waiting on the owner of the building when he arrived to sign the deed over. The owner was amazed. Lonnie told him that he lives by faith in a faithful God and the owner could have that same faith if he placed his trust in Jesus Christ…..

An awesome and amazing story of God’s provision. I walked through the 120+ room retreat center, built in the 1920s by Italian stone masons, with beautiful (donated) furniture and was humbled.

Note: The band I’m in The Long Run Players has a Youtube channel and a blog and we’re on Twitter and Facebook. Want to follow us?

Click here for Youtube.

Here for Facebook.

Here for Twitter.

Here for the blog.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Uncle Jeff

 

Christmas Party – Taipei, Taiwan

Hey y’all-

Last night, we hosted a Christmas Party at our apartment. Yes, the party was on the 26th, but many of the students we are trying to reach have class late on Friday. So, we moved it to Saturday. (I think Jesus would be cool with that. Matter of fact, I know it.) So, the party…

We were a tad concerned about the potential turnout. Why? A few reasons: the distance from the school (40+ minutes on the MRT/subway) and no telling how long on a motorscooter, the timing (day after Christmas), the day (Saturday night), etc., etc…..

It is always good to see God work when your faith starts to waver. We were wavering a tad and God worked. He worked to the tune of about 70 students and over 80 total people at our party. It was a blast. Here are some pics…

Students listen as we share the Christmas story...and the Gospel.

Students packed in every corner for the Story of Jesus' Birth...

Me and Joyce

Brian and Rain

The dudes from Change Life Church...they love Jesus...for real.

Eva, Eunice, Stacy, and Example...some of the first friends we made on ChihLee Campus.

What an awesome night. We had a chance to hang with great friends, eat good food, laugh, joke, take pictures, sing songs, and tell them the Greatest Truth Ever Known.

Jesus is real. Jesus is God. Jesus died for their sins. Jesus rose again. And, He wants them to believe in Him and be saved. Pray that they believe!

Thoughts?

Merry Christmas from Taipei, Taiwan.

Uncle Jeff

Christmas Program…er, Party

Hey y’all-

Last night, I went to a Christmas program at the Change Life Church in Banciao, Taiwan. We had a fine time. It was a unlike any Christmas program I’ve ever been to in the U.S. Here are some thoughts:

1. The program was called a “party.” I think I like this.

2. They treated the program like a party. I liked that even better.

3. There were about 600-700 people there. It was packed! And, on a Saturday night.

4. I didn’t understand the testimonies but the drama was done well enough that I got the gist without knowing much Mandarin. (Take note church people. I got it without words….)

5. The dance teams were good. Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

6. It was loud, energetic, exciting, and fun…..Christmasy.

7. Glad I went and we got to re-connect with some old friends from this church. We played an event there when we first came to Taiwan and they were happy to re-connect before we leave for America.

8. They gave an invitation and people responded. Imagine that…a Gospel presentation and invitation at a Christmas program.

Merry Christmas,

Uncle Jeff

Christmas List – Part II

Hey y’all-

Merry Christmas from Taiwan. Yesterday, I posted my Christmas list. Why? Well, to see if people would buy me stuff. Or, to show the super-expensive stuff I can tend to want. Or, just for fun. (Or, all three….) Anyway, the reality is Christmas is not about gifts to me. It is not about getting stuff from others. It’s not about buying, buying, buying….Christmas is much more than that.

Here’s Christmas to Uncle Jeff (in a nutshell): God gives the greatest gift of all time to man. His name is Jesus and His desire is salvation for sinners.

Salvation: It cannot be purchased. It cannot be bargained for. It cannot be stolen. It cannot be earned. It is a gift. A free, simple gift that God offers to man. John 3:16 tells it all.

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (that’s Jesus) so that whoever believes in Him (again, Jesus) would never die but have eternal life. (This is my rough interpretation of John 3:16, but I think it is accurate.)

The Bible goes on to say if you believe in Jesus, if you trust Him as Lord and Savior, if you worship Him alone, you will be saved (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 3:11-24).

What an awesome, awesome gift. Will you believe? God offers you the greatest gift of all. Will you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Thoughts?

Uncle Jeff

Christmas List

Hey y’all-

Thought I might post my Christmas list online (since no one asked for it in person)….so here it is. Numbered and complete with links for easy buying.

1. A new Jeep Wrangler.

This is one nice ride...

2. A Santa Cruz Guitar – Tony Rice Professional Model.

Tony Rice Model Guitar

3. The Message (Eugene Peterson’s “remix” of the Bible.)

4. An iPhone.

5. Lyle Lovett’s new record “Natural Forces.”

6. Cracker Barrel Sunday Fried Chicken platter.

7. Insulated Workboots.

8. Socks and underwear…..

Buy as you see fit. (Shipping address provided upon request.)

Merry Christmas,

Uncle Jeff

Christmas Cards

Nice hat, dude....

Hey y’all-

This week an envelope arrived from some kids at Bedford Baptist Church in Bedford, Kentucky. It was jam-packed full of holiday cheer with about 15 handmade Christmas cards that apparently were constructed all at the same time. (Same paper, same general theme, but all still very cool.) So, I thought I might share a few of them with you….

Many of them are hard to read, understand, decipher, or get much more than a name. Here are the ones I can decode:

From Wyatt:

Dear Jeff

I hope you come back to church

Merry Christmas Jeff

From Wyatt

From Drew:

Dear Jeff

We miss you alot and have a Merry Christmas

love Drew Merry Christmas

From Nixb (? Not sure on this name.)

Merry Christmas to Jeff

We miss u at church

We hope u are safe Merry Christmas from Nixb (This one has a drawing of a Christmas tree with a large heart that reads “God is on our side” and a star on top with the explanatory comment “stare” and an arrow pointing to it.)

From Lauren:

Merry Christ Christmas from Lau Lauren

Dear Jeff I hope you have learned alot. Were hoping to see you in Jan.

From Not sure:

I hopu youhavagap timu (Can’t read the name, but there is some good artwork on this one.)

From Dakota:

Dear Jeff, Merry Christmas!!

We miss you at church!! We want you back at church with us!! Sorry, I can’t send a real!! (has an arrow pointing to a drawing of a Christmas tree) I realy miss you!! I want you to come back soon! And well, not sick!

Love; your friend, Dakota

From Destini:

Merry Christmas Jeff!!

From: Destini To: Jeff

Dear Jeff, I hope you have a Merry Christmas we really miss you at church. You are one awsome missionarie! I hope you come back soon! Your friend, Destini

From Aaron:

Merry Christmas Jeff I have missed you in Taiwan. Im glad we can see you from the computer through SKYPE but I want to see you face to face. I hope that your doing your best in Taiwan. Were all looking forward to meeting you. Watch out for the devil! He wants to win you over God! From: Aaron H.

From Little Jessey:

Merry Christmas To: Jeff

I love (heart) you from: Little Jessey

Dear Jeff, Merry Christmas Hope you tell everyone you can about Jesus. September 26th 2009. I got a new dog I named her Baby She’s really nice and loveable and playful. We really miss you Love, Jessey.

Well, this brightened my day just by typing this up. Hope y’all enjoy.

Merry Christmas,

Uncle Jeff