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Top 10 Christmas Movies at the Murrell House

For those who are afraid to go to the crowded malls and are stuck at home watching TV, here's the list you've been waiting for:

Our top 10 favorite Christmas movies.

  1. It's a Wonderful Life – We usually save this one 'til New Year's Eve.
  2. Miracle on 34th Street – The 1947 black and white edition.
  3. Christmas in Connecticut – Another black and white classic that never gets old.
  4. White Christmas – Not too many of these where we live, unless we go to the beach.
  5. Home Alone I or II – The "Wet Bandits" are great bad guys.
  6. All I Want for Christmas
  7. Santa Clause II – We love the Easter Bunny scene.
  8. House Guest – This qualifies because Sinbad & Phil Hartman sang Christmas carols during the closing credits.
  9. Jingle All the Way – Sinbad goes postal.
  10. Die Hard I -The whole movie took place during an office Christmas party.

Victory in the Big Dome

In my twenty-one years in Manila, I have attended many events in Araneta Coliseum – Bocelli in Concert, Disney on Ice, PBA finals, Jesus Rev to name a few – but the December 11 Victory Convergence was the best by far. From a small group of students in Manila’s University-Belt in 1984, Victory has grown to a citywide church that meets in ten venues for weekend services with over 3000 small discipleship groups meeting in coffee shops, homes, offices, and campuses all over the city.

Some of my favorite events of the year are our “convergence services” when all our Victory congregations gather as one for worship, fellowship, and prayer. Highlights included our annual “State of the Church” address by Joey Bonifacio, missions reports by Michael Paderes, Victory provincial news by Juray Mora, and a performance from the annual Kid’s Church musical.

Here are some photos of the event and of our 2005 E412 Awards.

New Paintings and New Photos

Jonathan, our 15-year-old, recently finished painting Uncle David’s House from a photo I took a couple of summers ago. All of you who are dedicated readers of this blog will remember that David is my youngest brother who took in a family of New Orleans refugees who lost all in Hurricane Katrina. Here is the original photo, Jonathan in action, and the finished painting.

Also, I have posted some photos from our APEC meeting in Singapore and our newest family photo which was taken at Elizabeth Houston’s wedding a few months ago. All of us wearing suits at the same time happens about once every three years, so we had to document it.

And finally, I have posted a few more of Jonathan’s paintings for relatives to see, and bid on.

The Purple Book and The Purple Bible

I just sent my final edit of the new and improved Purple Book to Zondervan. We have been working for six months with a Zondervan editor to make the Purple Book a little more user friendly for the non-religious. We've added a sentence here and there to explain concepts like justification, sanctification, sin, eternal life, and other spiritual themes that non-believers may not understand.

Also Zondervan is about to release a purple version of their TNIV (Today's New International Version) to go along with our Purple Book. If you are getting tired of all this purple haze, blame it on our Manila printer. Of course here in Manila, some have started calling it the "ube" book. If you don't know what ube means, then look it up or ask a Filipino.

My Mom reminds me that my favorite book series when I was a small child was Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was so into my Harold books that my grandfather sometimes called me "Harold". Sure glad that nickname did not stick. I guess I will never get away from purple books.

Speaking of purple kid's books, we are currently working with Pastor Paolo Punzalan on a kid's version of the Purple Book. Paolo leads our kids ministry in Manila, ministering to thousands of kids and leading hundreds of volunteers each week. Please pray for this project. Thanks.

Faith in the ICU

Several hours ago I received the following text message from Marie Bonifacio:

Joe is now sitting up and eating on his own. Later he will try standing up. The bandages have been taken off. He has 37 staples in his head. We’ll be out of ICU hopefully by tomorrow. God has been amazing and has given us open doors to pray for others here. Thanks for all your prayers. Joseph is really touched and so are we.

Joey and Marie have practically been living in the Medical City ICU since Joseph’s accident on Monday. Here’s my version of the story.

“Dad, we are at the emergency room…” It is amazing how many scenarios the mind can conjure up in less than one second when a parent hears these words.

“Joe hurt his head.” What? How? How bad? Anyone else hurt? Which hospital? Two dozen more questions in 2 seconds.

“We were jumping off a bench at the basketball courts, taking pictures of each other dunking. On Joe’s last dunk, his feet swung out and his hands slipped and he landed headfirst on the concrete. It was real bad. He was not moving. Josh ran to his house, grabbed the keys and we took him to the hospital.”

The neurosurgeon quickly went to work. He was not in a panic, but he seemed to be in a hurry. Later we heard that if the brain surgery had been 45 minutes later there could have been some serious brain damage, even death.

Joe now has 37 staples and several plates inside his head and no hair on top of his head, but he has all his memory and is expected to fully recover. He has probably dunked for the last time.

After the surgery and a few hours of recovery, Joe’s first question was whether he would be able to teach his ENLI discipleship class on Saturday.

Watching Joey and Marie go through this was a living faith lesson for me. I don’t think I would have handled it with as much grace and faith as they did. They have officially been elevated to superhero status.

Please continue to pray for Joe until he is back teaching at ENLI.

Brave Missionaries in Scary Places

Following is part of an email I recently received from our team leader in Bangladesh:

Yesterday, while everybody was busy at work, the nation was rocked by several bombs again. Islamic militants bombed Chittagong and Dhaka together. This time they used suicide bombers. Recently they have targeted judges because most judges uphold the law of the land rather than Islamic law. This same group blasted more than 500 bombs in September. It was a world record. Lots of innocent Bengalis have lost their lives because of this foolishness, but it is still going on. People are in mourning today. Many diplomats and mission groups are on the hit list, but we believe we are safe. We are crying out for God's mercy and grace for our country. Please keep us in your prayers. Thank you.

If 500 bombs went off in one month here in the Philippines, or even if two went off the same day, it would dominate local and international news. This happens in Bangladesh and the rest of the world ignores it. Why? Maybe because Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations in the world and it is not exactly the destination of choice for international media people. Even if most of the world does not care, God does. Jesus paid the same price for 154 million poor Bengalis as he did for Filipinos and Americans.

Please pray for our Every Nation missionaries who are serving God in some of the most difficult, dangerous, and least Christian places in the world.

© 2012 Steve Murrell

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