Archive for December, 2011

Koreans Leading the Way

Posted on December 30, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I have just returned from the Global Korean Young Adult Mission Festival (GKYM) held this year in Rochester, New York. I was not able to accept invitations to speak at this conference previously, so this was my first time to gather with more than 3,000 second-generation Koreans, primarily from the U.S. and Canada for this end-of-the-year event. Seldom had I been at a conference that reflected such intense passion and commitment for evangelizing a lost world.

It reminded me of one of my earlier experiences of seeing how God is moving among Korean youth. The first GCOWE (Global Consultation on World Evangelization) was held in Seoul, Korea in 1995. It was a gathering of evangelical denominations and mission agencies from …

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Christmas is Family Time

Posted on December 27, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Even though Christmas is a religious holiday, getting together with family takes pre-eminence. Many churches canceled worship on Christmas Day knowing members would be scattered far and wide to gather with family. Stories have been written and movies produced about estranged and dysfunctional families gathering for the holidays. Thatʼs certainly not the case with ours as we relish this rare occasion to celebrate our Lordʼs birth together.

I can remember as a child bundling up in the car and driving to North Mississippi every year to spend Christmas at Grandmotherʼs house. Countless cousins would sleep on pallets as close to the coal fireplace as possible while aunts and uncles enjoyed the warmth of feather beds. The abundance of food was …

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Christmas and Missions

Posted on December 21, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

In all the festivity that surrounds the season it is easy to ignore the fact that at the heart of Christmas is the mission of God. Buying presents, decorating our homes, enjoying music we listen to only at this time of year and indulging in goodies we would not otherwise eat, obscure the significance of what we celebrate. Oh, we keep the birth of Christ central in the midst of all the commercialization, but do we ignore why this event occurred?

More than one pastor has been confronted by a puzzled church member, wondering why we emphasize missions at this time of year when everyone’s agenda is overwhelmed by shopping, choir presentations, Christmas parties and travel to family reunions. Other …

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Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Posted on December 19, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

We are returning to a little common sense in decorating for Christmas now that we are down home in Mississippi. We were overwhelmed by Texas traditions during our early years of marriage. Everyone tried to outdo their neighbors in excessive decorations. “Gaudy” is not an inappropriate word for outlining one’s house, covering every bush and lining every tree limb with colorful lights while filling the lawn with blinking raindeer, snow men and angels on the roof.

When we returned to Richmond, Virginia in recent years we found the colonial tradition prevailed of only white lights and a single candle in each window. Wreaths had to be natural with fruit and berries, not the modernistic colorful, puffed ribbons of green and …

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Emmanuel: God with Us!

Posted on December 16, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

There was no mistaking the identity of the baby born in Bethlehem that first Christmas. The angel declared to the shepherds,“ Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He was Christ, the long-awaited Messiah promised to Israel centuries ago and predicted by the prophets.

He was a Savior, confirmed by the name “Jesus” as revealed to Joseph–”And you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The Jews thought more in terms of a political savior saving them from Roman oppression, but the subsequent events of the cross brought clarity to His role as …

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Is Lottie Moon Starving?

Posted on December 14, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Several years ago the International Mission Board encouraged churches to give more generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering by using the theme, “Is Lottie Moon Starving Again?” The promotion generated a backlash from many who considered this disrespectful of Lottie Moon who literally starved to death. She was a pioneer missionary to China in the 19th century and challenged the Woman’s Missionary Union to take an offering at Christmas to send more missionaries. Eventually this annual mission offering, begun in 1888, was named for Lottie Moon and has raised almost four billion dollars for missions.

More than 50% of the budget of the International Mission Board comes from this voluntary annual offering. Contrary to the perception of some, none …

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Another Road Trip

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

We are home after another road trip last week which included engagements in East Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. Now it is crunch time for getting the Christmas shopping done and and decorating the tree. We always have intentions of shopping early but usually are among those who wait until the final days.

Driving home westward on I-20 yesterday afternoon enabled us to enjoy a spectacular sunset along the way. This had been one of the occasions for traveling to Columbia International University to confer with administration and plan with the staff of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. In addition to efforts to increase enrollment in the Muslim Studies degree program in the College of Inter-cultural Studies, we …

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Getting into the Season

Posted on December 5, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

Thanksgiving is over so, in contrast to many commercial early-promoters, we are ready  to acknowledge that Christmas is coming. At this time every year I vow to better organize and label our Christmas decorations next time, but by New Year’s we are ready to get them out of sight and into the attic. Now we face the challenge of sorting through a mountain of boxes and bags, untangling lights and porch swag and unpacking all the nativity sets from around the world. The tree can wait a couple of weeks, but for the sake of our reputation in the neighborhood, outside decorations have to get in place (that is what it is all about, isn’t it?).

It has been a …

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The Assurance of Success

Posted on December 2, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

I have never known anyone to say, “My goal in life is to be a failure.” I have known those who seem to be directionless and are floundering in identifying a compelling purpose for their lives. Others may lack ambition and are satisfied just to get by; as long as life’s basic needs are provided there is no need to put out an extra effort.

While most people may not have lofty goals of high position and status in the eyes of others, it is natural to want to be a success in whatever we do. Whether it is providing for our family, teaching or other vocations, or volunteer tasks in our church and community, we don’t want it to …

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