Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week: November 16-23, 2015

It's that time of year again.  Time to participate in the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind: Operation Christmas Child. The annual Samaritan’s Purse project is a favorite of many families, churches and groups.  They spread joy to millions of children around the world by filling shoeboxes with a “Wow!” item—like a doll or soccer ball—other fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

I had the great privilege of going to Lima, Peru, in 2008 to help hand out some of those shoeboxes to children in need through local churches.  To read my story, follow this link and read several posts from my trip.  It was an unforgettable experience.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.  You would not believe the places these shoeboxes can be delivered for just $7 per box!

With a computer or mobile device, you can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website at samaritanspurse.org/occ.  You can even select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox online. Using special tracking technology, we can follow our boxes to discover where in the world our gifts are delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries, and they are distributed through local churches so life-changing connections can be made with the body of Christ. 

Drop-off locations can be found at this link.

You can volunteer for year-round positions at this link.  It's a very rewarding experience.


Why You Should Become a Christian: Conclusion

I hope that you have found this little series to be helpful.  I have outlined the reasons that I have chosen to be a Christian and to remain in the faith.  I have shared much of my own personal intellectual and emotional journey.

The reasons given are not persuasive arguments for everyone. I pray that if you are a person who does not find them convincing that you will at least be motivated to explore other arguments and approaches.

Some places to look on the internet are: www.str.org, www.ligonier.org, www.carm.org, and www.4truth.net.  

Some helpful books include The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, Reasons to Believe by R. C. Sproul, Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham, and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.  These men differ on many theological issues, but their arguments for God’s existence and the truth of the Bible are sound.  

Some other names to research include Greg Bahnsen, Cornelius Van Til, Alvin Plantinga, John Frame, and Craig Blomberg. 

The ultimate aim of this blog is to point others to Christ as the great Lord and Savior. He is the one Person who has walked the earth who is worthy of true worship and lavish praise. May His glory be over all the earth.


Why You Should Become a Christian: Christianity Has Changed My Life

I was raised in a Baptist church in a small, West Tennessee town. Many times, I have heard the testimony of a person who has been radically and completely delivered from the awful, evil sins they once committed.

I have often questioned the miraculous deliverances purported in these testimonies, especially when the speaker implies that my life must assuredly be changed in the same dramatic way if I truly repent of my sins and come to Christ.

I do not intend to discuss a long, rambling account of my personal sins and the way I have tried to set them aside. I have found in my own experience that my besetting sins have persisted after I became a Christian, even though I am better than I once was.

The difference in my life I want to discuss is not a dramatic reversal of my behavior. The Holy Spirit has helped me to get better over time, but I have not been made perfect, and I have not been radically and instantly delivered from sin.

The change in my life that I want to focus on is the freedom I have found in God’s forgiveness. I have found freedom and power to change in the knowledge that my sins are forgiven because of Christ. I have the encouragement I need to get up when I fall down.

Jerry Bridges describes this well: 
Gradually over time, and from a deep sense of need, I came to realize that the gospel is for believers, too. When I finally realized this, every morning I would pray over a Scripture such as Isaiah 53:6," All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all," and then say, "Lord, I have gone astray. I have turned to my own way, but you have laid all my sin on Christ and because of that I approach you and feel accepted by you.
[Christians] stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don't have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom. 8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude.

To use an expression of the late Jack Miller, we must "preach the gospel to ourselves every day." For me that means I keep going back to Scriptures such as Isaiah 53:6, Galatians 2:20, and Romans 8:1. 

It means I frequently repeat the words from an old hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." The success of our struggle with sin begins with our believing deep down in our hearts that regardless of our failures and our struggle, we have died to sin's guilt. We must believe that however often we fail; there is no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1).

I find freedom from my sin in Christ’s power. I do not find a perfect freedom. These are always sins that I am prone to commit. If I fail, those are the ways I am going to fail at most of the time.

Am I worried about losing my salvation or making it null and void because of a “habit” or “continuing in sin?” Sometimes I do doubt, but in the end I know that I am forgiven in Christ. I repent of my sin and enjoy Christ’s forgiveness.

Will I earn rewards for the good things I have done on earth? Yes, God will graciously reward the results of His power because He sees my ‘good works’ through the lens of Christ’s righteousness credited to me.

He will reward the works He has brought about. But the rewards I earn will not be for me. They will be cast at the feet of Jesus in His honor.

Our next post will conclude our little series about why you should become a Christian.

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