Pat Jones, Director of Healthy Church Ministries
I woke up to this amazing thought and had to share it. While there is nothing new in it, my heart was blessed to contemplate it all in a new way. So here is my new, old Christmas thought.

The One who created all things, left that which was comfortable in order to take on a form that was unnatural.
The Creator became created.
The Omnipotent One became dependent.
The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills was born in abject poverty.
He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we may have life.

And He simply asks that we be willing to leave our position of comfort, enter into the zone of unknown, and tell the world what He has done for us. All by the power of His Spirit living in us.

All I can do is say “Thank you” and “Here am I, Lord, send me.”

Here’s a pretty incredible website,, with excellent testimonies from a number of people–some of them well-known, some not. They’re communicating that God is first in their lives. 

2008 Global Ministries Placemat

Hanging on a wall in your church–we hope–is a Global Ministries map showing all of our missionaries and where they serve. We’ve been reprinting the map every year or so, trying to keep up-to-date with our missionaries serving around the world.

Actually, it’s a placemat. It looks good on bulletin boards in church foyers and Sunday school rooms. But the vast majority are used as placemats at church meals. It’s a multi-function piece.

Now we’ve got a new one. It’s not really a map, but does group missionaries according to where they serve (Europe, Central America, Africa, etc.).

This new placemat includes:

  • Photos and information about our newest missionaries (for the website, we had to blur some of them for security purposes).
  • Updated photos from other missionaries.
  • The new Global Ministries logo.

These are free. Just contact Darlene in Global Ministries and tell us how many you want. We’ll ship them right out.

(Yes, the photos in the picture above are blurred. That’s for security purposes. The photos are sharp on the actual placemat.)

Sandie Birdsall remains in Intensive Care, following her emergency surgery on December 1 (as reported here on December 3). Brent, her husband, posts regular upodates on his Facebook page. On Wednesday, he posted the following:

GREAT NEWS. Sandie was extubated (her breathing tube was removed) around 2:30 p.m. Throughout the afternoon she made remarkable progress. Her eyes were open. She was checking out her surroundings, albeit with bleary, somewhat drugged eyes. Her progress was beautiful to behold.

One concern: as we celebrated Sandie’s progress and bombarded the poor gal with too many questions, there was one concern that we noted. Sandie was not able to move her left hand or shrug her left shoulder. I’m hoping it’s primarily an atrophy issue, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I am struggling with anxiety. Please join with me in prayer for Sandie’s FULL recovery. Lots of work and physical therapy are ahead of us. I’m concerned about and I’m praying for Sandie’s ability to regain strength and coordination in both her hands.

We got word of terrible storms and flooding in Honduras. Severe flooding in La Ceiba has left people living in churches and the mission compound. Things are very bad.

This comes from Helen Raudales, a Huntington University student who is the daughter of Francisco and Maira Raudales (Francisco is the conference superintendent in Honduras).

Donna Hollopeter just tried calling to Honduras, but got a message saying all lines are down.

Jeff Bleijerveld sent a quick note. He made it to Germany, for the first part of his trip. He says the snow falling across the Bavarian Alps is gorgeous.

prayercoach.jpgRon Ramsey, Bishop
The book Prayer Coach came across my desk as a freebie from the publisher, Crossway Books. It is written by James L. Nicodem, pastor of a church in St. Charles, Ill. 

I had laid the book, aside but just picked it up a few nights ago. I haven’t read far, maybe 2-3 chapters, but I did skip to the last chapter. It deals with the subject of Satan and how he tries to stop Christians from praying.
That chapter is based on Ephesians 6, where Paul describes the armored garment Christians are to wear. He describes how Satan wishes to defeat us. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. 

To me, it is a very refreshing approach to prayer in the life of a believer. It is serious and very practical, not stuffy. This type of book would make an excellent study for a group of men. (Women might find it interesting as well but it does have a sports analogy and Bobby Bowden wrote the forward). 

Anyway, I’d like to suggest that you buy this book. You can order it from Healthy Church Ministries, 1-888-622-3019, if you’d like. And I’d like to have some discussions about the book on the BishopBlog.

I’ll wait a few days until you get a chance to get the book, and then I’ll begin offering some observations about each chapter, starting with chapter 1. Then invite any and all who will to engage in the discussion to jump in. Who know–it might be fun as well as profitable. It might be a way to energize our prayer life.

Our annual staff Christmas party is next Tuesday, December 16. This would have been the first one for Jeff Bleijerveld, who joined us last spring as Director of Global Ministries. But he decided to skip out on us. Instead, he’s going to Africa.

Jeff left today for  Sierra Leone. Though he has seen much of the world in his career in mission work, he has not yet visited Africa. So this will be a new experience for him (and probably a lot more interesting than our staff Christmas party). 

The Sierra National Conference will meet during his visit. In addition, Billy Simbo, head of the Sierra Leone Conference, has a busy schedule of travel awaiting him. Jeff will be seeing the country in a whirlwind. 

But first, Jeff is heading to Germany, where he’ll spend a couple days with a family who have applied as endorsed UB missionaries.

Jeff will return to the States on December 23, just in time for Christmas with his wife, children, and two grandchildren.

On November 30, Hillsdale UB church (Hillsdale, Mich.) dedicated a 12-unit former assisted living facility two miles from the church. It was donated by three member families who had owned and managed the facility known as Drews Place.

The church is developing plans to expand its outreach ministry in the community by partnering with Domestic Harmony to use the building. Domestic Harmony is a local shelter for abused women and children.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

And now, one final thought on momentum from Andy Stanley. I promise–no more.

Momentum is never triggered by tweaking something old. It is triggered by introducing something new. Human nature prefers the old to the new. So our default action, when we want to become more effective, is to tweak what we’re already doing. More training, different schedule, new materials, whatever. B-o-r-i-n-g.

Perhaps it would be better to think, “What is something we’re not doing, something not even on our radar, that we should try?”

I think of our new church in Grand Ledge, Mich., which held a Vacation Bible School this summer in a trailer park. Rather than ask people to come to the church for two hours of wonderful programs, they took everything right to their target audience.

Imagine the logistics–equipment, food, shelter in case of rain, etc. But they did it, and people were saved. Such a simple idea that makes imminent sense. And it had never before crossed my mind. 

As one of those computer companies says, Think Different. (And don’t get upset by the missing “ly.”)