Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas is Coming Soon!

Christmas is coming very soon! Are you excited? I can't wait! We have every reason to be excited about Christmas... In fact, Christmas is all about Christ. I'm afraid we sometimes complicate the simplicity of Christmas. The world tells us we must spend lots of money, buy lots of presents, and do so many things that it crowds out the simple message of Christmas.

At the time of Creation, mankind was created in innocence. Adam walked with God in the garden of Eden. Through the sin of Adam, we all have been separated from God. But then God made a promise that the seed of woman would defeat Satan once and for all. For thousands of years, men have trusted in the promise, that God, through the seed of woman, would defeat Satan and save us from our sin. Through the prophets, God told us what to look for. "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Immanuel means "God with us," for this child would be God Himself, born as a little baby in a place called Bethlehem.

Hundreds of years passed, and surely many began to question God's promises. Then, one day, the angel Gabriel announced to a virgin named Mary, that she would conceive the Son of God, and that he would be named JESUS. The name "Jesus" means "Jehovah Saves." This Jesus, is the fulfilled promise of God, that He would come live among us and ultimately save us from our sins! This Jesus, was God almighty, born as a little baby. This Jesus, loved us so much that He willingly gave His life on the cross, and shed his blood as a perfect sacrifice for OUR sins. Jesus is now at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. Jesus is coming back for us before this world is judged.

This is why we celebrate Christmas. It is the story of God's love for us. The story of our salvation. The story of Satan's defeat. Do not get so caught up in Christmas activities that you forget about the reason for Christmas. Let Christmas be a time when we remember the lost who need Christ. Let us remember why Christ came. If you do not know Christ as your Savior, know that God will save you from your sins. It's not about how good you can be, it's about how good God is. If you turn from your sins and place your faith in Christ, He has promised to save you, and He will change your life forever. For those of us who know Christ, let us remember the meaning of his name, "Jehovah saves" and remember that there are still so many who have not yet been saved. Let us show this world the love of Christ, and may God use us to do many wonderful things!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Safety in Nicaragua

One of the questions that people ask us about Nicaragua is this- "What do you have to do to ensure you and your wife's safety?" Good question. While I can easily admit that I've got a lot to learn, I did a little research just to find out some good tips to help keep safe. I found a great article on the website. I have simply summed it up in 6 brief points:
  1. Avoid Political Demonstrations- These demonstrations often result in riots and violence. Even demonstrations that appear to be "peaceful" can easily escalate in violence. Avoid them at all costs.

  2. Be Careful at the Beach- Strong currents have resulted in drownings, and powerful waves can break bones. Stingray injuries are common, and lifeguards and medical equipment are rare or non-existent, even in popular "tourist" beaches.

  3. Avoiding Violent Crime- Violent crime is rising in Nicaragua. Avoid poorer neighborhoods. Gang activity is rising in Nicaragua, but it is still lower than nearby Central American countries. Most crime is a result of criminals who want your money. Many robbers have weapons, so do not resist them. Most violence against US citizens is a result of resistance. Keeping money and travel documents in a belt under your clothes helps keep them safe.

  4. Choosing the Right Taxi- If a stranger approaches you offering to help you locate or share a taxi, this is often a trap. There have been many cases of this with US citizens, and upon entering the taxi, they are threatened with a weapon, and forced to drive around to ATM machines until there is no more money, then left in a desolate area. When choosing a cab, only get an official taxi with a red bordered license plate with legible plate #. Note the driver's name and license #. Instruct them not to pick up anybody else. Agree on fare before departing, and make sure to have small bills as most drivers will not make change. When driving, make sure the windows are up, and doors are locked, as robbers can target you at stoplights.

  5. Choosing the Right Hotel- Choose a hotel with strong security elements. One with a safe is a plus.

  6. Use Common Sense- Always travel in groups of two or more, do not display valuables (jewelry, watches, etc). Use common sense as you would in a high crime area of a large city in the US. Don't look "touristy." This not only tells criminals you are out of your element, but also tells them you probably have money... money they want.

I am sure there is much more that we will learn when we get there, but this is just a few simple things you can do to have a much safer trip or stay in Nicaragua.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

November has been a busy and exciting month for us. As we enjoyed Thanksgiving, we remembered that this is a time when we thank God for all that He has given us. Throughout last month, God has blessed us abundantly and given us many things to be thankful for.

For Thanksgiving, we were able to take a trip up to Georgia to spend time with family. We thank God for the family that He has given us. Many of our family members were able to be an encouragement to us.

Throughout November, we had the opportunity to share our ministry with several local churches. Our desire is to share what God is doing in our lives so that we may be an encouragement to others. These churches have been very encouraging to us. We have seen many old friends and have met many new ones. One church even gave us a very nice projector! We prayed that God would provide our needs, but don't recall telling anybody that we had need of a projector. Yet our Father in Heaven knows exactly what needs we have, whatever they may be. "For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him."

To every church, friend, and familiy member that has given to help us bring the Gospel to Nicaragua- Thank you! To every person that has given prayers to help us and encourage us along the way- Thank you! May God bless you tremendously as we approach the celebration of our Lord on Christmas Day!

In Christ,

Jeremy and Michelle Blanz