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A BIG Thank You!

Signage

I just wanted to pause for a moment on this rainy Tennessee morning and say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came and participated in some way in our 23 Annual Abba’s House Media Golf Classic! It was great seeing so many friends and players out on the course, with beautiful weather too boot. I can not say enough about the great sponsors we had this year who donated to make this tournament a reality. Whether players or sponsors, all of the proceeds go to the same place… to help us spread the Good News of God’s love to a world desperately in need of salvation and hope. Whether it’s helping spread the Gospel through television and print, medical missions, or the work we do through orphanages, you are helping to give people hope, and making it possible for us to go through other doors of ministry opportunity as the Lord opens them.

StaffA very special thank you to Angie McGregor and her great staff and volunteers at Abba’s House Media who put in all of the hard work putting the AHM Golf Classic together, as well as all of the hard work they do every day to keep this ministry running efficiently and effectively.

This year (as we do every year), we had some great sponsors who make this event possible. Be sure to visit them and thank them with your words and by supporting the businesses of these Kingdom-minded folks…

GOLD
Mike Collins & Associates
Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac Chevrolet

SILVER
Rivers Edge Alliance
Paul Loftin
Rowlett, Inc.

BRONZE
Chattanooga Funeral Home
Daystar Television Network
Frank Steil Insurance
Robert Roberts, LLC

SHIRT
Farley Plumbing

SNACK SHACK
Dominion Senior Living
Johnston, Stuart & Associates/Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

WINNER’S CIRCLE
Lighthouse Media
R & D Wrecker Service

HOLE IN ONE
Integrity Buick GMC Cadillac

LUNCH
Five Guys Burgers & Fries

DRINK
Coca-Cola

FLAG
ABRA Autobody & Glass
Impact Stewardship

HOLE
Northgate Animal Hospital
Lighthouse Media
Webb & Assoc.
Outline Bible Resources
Eslinger Contracting Company, Inc.
Pep Boys

CART
ABRA Autobody & Glass
Rone Regency Jewelers
Pep Boys

Here are a few moments captured from the tournament. Enjoy them, and be sure to join us for The Outpouring, coming to Abba’s House September 14-17. With John Kilpatrick, Nathan Morris, Ronnie Phillips Jr., and me, we are expecting God to do “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think”. This will be a Big Event that will have Kingdom repercussions for years to come.

 

The Outpouring

5 Reasons You Might Want To Reconsider The Lists You Re-post

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read them. We’ve all re-posted them.

Yep… me too. Guilty as charged.

Sprout 2THE LISTS. Like God’s promise in Genesis to Abraham about his offspring, social media/internet lists are becoming as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lists for every conceivable vocation, location, and 12-step program in 15 easy steps. For someone who is in the ministry (like me), it seems like these lists grow faster than the weeds in my flower beds at home. For ministers and ministry-types, the topics can include (but are certainly not limited to) things like…

10 Things You are Doing Right in Your Ministry.

20 Things You are Doing Wrong in Your Ministry.

22 Things You’d Be Doing Right if Your Weren’t Doing Them Wrong (in Your Ministry).

You get the idea. Can I hear an “amen”?

And while some lists are totally informational and harmless — lists like “10 Things to See on Your Trip to Vermont” or “The 15 Top Dining Spots in Coos Bay, Oregon”, others are less so. Others go to the heart of who we are, not just as organizations, but who God made us as individuals.

So here is my list. It’s short — just 5 points — so here we go…

5 Things You Should Consider Before Re-posting Lists

  1. Who is posting your list of choice? Just because someone has a popular blog or website does not necessarily make them an authority on every given subject. Before you re-post something as Gospel that could have a far reaching effect on someone else’s spirit, make sure it actually IS Gospel. Just because you agree with it does not make it right or accurate, it just means it struck a nerve with you for some reason. There is a good chance that, if you agree with it but it does not line up with the Word of God, you might need to step away from the screen and do a little soul searching yourself. Regardless of the authors “credentials”, you should always do your due diligence before parroting anything. Even experts make mistakes.

    The Bottom Line: Don’t listen to every voice. Choose carefully those you allow to speak into your life and destiny.

  2. Beware the “Guilt-List Post.” I think 20 years from now, we will have an entirely new and thriving area of psychology brought on by psychoses born in the realm of social media. I am seeing more and more where we have gotten to a place in which public statements on social media are taking the place of disagreements that should be handled in private conversations; primary among these are what I would term the “Guilt-List Post“… someone who disagrees with something, and posts a list on social media or a blog to add validity to their argument. For ministry-types, whether it is preaching styles, music tastes, or witnessing ideas, people often re-post lists because they either feel guilty, or are trying to “guilt” someone else into seeing things their way, all because some “expert” says “this is what you are doing wrong”.
    In Isaiah 1, the Bible says…

    “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the Lord,
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    They shall be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Social media posting, messaging, and emailing will never be a good substitute for sitting down face to face and reasoning things out with another person. Passive-aggressive chastisement on Facebook is not what Jesus was talking about when He gave us His words in Matthew 18 about how brothers and sisters should deal with disagreement and offense. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a cheap, ill-used, and misdirected substitute.

    The Bottom Line: Social media posts and emails are breeding grounds for misunderstandings and confusion. Learn the art of conversing and (more importantly) listening.

  3. The Self-Aggrandizement Post. The opposite of the Guilt-List Post is the Self-Aggrandizement Post. This is posting a list to reaffirm what you are doing right, and to let everyone else across the world know what you are doing right as well. While affirmation is fine (and we all need it), I’m not sure posting a subjective list based on one person’s opinion as your basis for success is the best way to go about it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 say it better than any 12-point list…

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:18-20

    As someone wiser than me once said…

    A man’s gift makes room for him,
    And brings him before great men. ~ Proverbs 18:16

    In other words, when you let your gifts and talent do the talking, is doesn’t take a lot of words for people to take notice.

    The Bottom Line: Memorize Proverbs 18:16, and remember: “A little humility goes a long way.”

  4. What works for them may not work for you. Celebrating the success of others is great, but one person’s (or organization’s) recipe for success does not necessarily mean it will work for you or yours. While there are some basic, common-sense elements to success that we should all strive to maintain (hard work, diligence, kindness, fiscal responsibility), the fact is that what works in Chattanooga, TN — “the buckle of the Bible-Belt” — might not necessarily work in a place like Oakland, CA. A church in Birmingham, AL that has a thriving bus ministry might not be a great model for a church in Manhattan, KS. There’s an old saying that goes “Bloom where you’re planted.” If you are “planted” in a place that is hard and rocky, you are going to have to get more creative in order to be a success than someone who is “planted” in fertile soil. In fact, you may find that your definition of success is markedly different.

    The Bottom Line: Find your sufficiency in God. Allow Him to define your measure of success.

  5. What has God told you to do? This really is the heart of the matter: What is the revelation God has given YOU? What is the call of God on YOUR life or the life of your organization? Many times in the Bible (and throughout history, for that matter), we have seen God reveal Himself in unusual ways, and give individuals or groups an unusual call or command. For example:

    Moses parted the Red Sea simply by lifting his staff and stretching out his hand.

    The children of Israel leveled the walls of Jericho with a shout and the sound of trumpets.

    A kid named David took out a giant warrior named Goliath with a single stone.

    John The Baptist subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey.

    In the end, while advice is good and good advice should always be considered, nothing can replace the calling of God for you. It might look unusual. It might be unconventional. It might be what the “experts” call crazy. However, if it truly is from God, then you can rest assured that, even if it seems chaotic or way out of the norm, He will be in the middle of it to guide your hand every step of the way.

    The Bottom Line: No ten-step plan to success will ever make you as successful as the single plan of God for your life and circumstances.

So be encouraged if you are a work in progress. If you have a true word from God, He is going to make a way in whatever wilderness you find yourself.

And if you don’t have that word yet, just remember what God said in Jeremiah 29:13…

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Living smart in a smartphone world.

Creación_de_Adám hands

There is an old adage…

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

The problem is, we live in a time of sound-bite-driven and movie-trailer-style culture. We want to be able to wrap up our assessments of others into nice, neat packages, put a bow on them, and divide life into “simple” categories. We want to define others by how they fit into our agenda, without the messiness or benefit of personal relationship. We have become “experts” at the 30-Second Evaluation, without considering the years (and moments) leading up to that evaluation. We don’t often take into account the bad morning (of history of events leading up to that bad morning) before we pass judgment. We look to the surface of appearance and circumstance without considering the depth of another person’s experience, psyche, or soul.

So how do we remedy this as a society? How do we regain the decency and humanity we have lost in our social-media-driven, sit-com addicted culture? Here’s three ideas that may be a good place for you and me to start…

WWJD?

It sounds a little simplistic, and a bit of a throwback to the ’90’s (remember the WWJD bracelets?), but there’s a lot of truth in that little acronym. “What would Jesus do?” is a legitimate question, especially for anyone who calls himself or herself a follower of His. So, when it comes to relationships, what is the example He sets for us? How did Jesus treat those close to Him? We find in the Gospels many examples of how He responded to people in various situations.

 

  • judasAfter Peter denied Him, He gave Him another chance without throwing His failure up in His face (John 21).
  • When the woman accused of adultery was brought before Him, He offered her mercy, then with a simple question, shined a light on the hypocrisy of her accusers (John 8).
  • He wept at the loss of a friend (John 11), lovingly corrected Martha over her frustration with Mary (Luke 10), and used the Truth as a defense in the light of criticism.
  • He quietly dismissed Judas from the upper room and Last Supper without calling attention to his imminent betrayal.

So how does Jesus see those around you; the odd, disagreeable, quirky, and unpleasant? In the face of the misfortune of another, would Jesus break out His camera phone and put that misfortune on public display, or would He pick that person up and become an agent of healing?

ACTION STEP: Before you react to another person, make the decision to ask yourself how Jesus would respond in that situation. Better yet… ask Him.

Open your eyes.

In the “ME” culture in which we live, it’s easy to pass by and not notice the suffering of those around us. When we are surrounded on every side by voices that are telling us to “look out for #1”, we must make a conscious effort to get out from in front of the mirror, get our noses out of our smart phones, and stop staring at the ground. We must notice what is going on around us, the beauty of God’s creation, and the needs of others at the end of our reach. It’s amazing, for a society as connected and “caught on camera” as we are, that we have become as blind to the needs of others as we have. Jesus didn’t wait for someone to come into the synagogue to be healed or ministered to. He hit the streets, visited the homes of “publicans and sinners”, and made Himself available to the masses. His life was the antithesis of the self-preservation mindset we see today.

 

ACTION STEP: Commit a couple of times a day (for starters) that, when you go into a public place, you are going to turn off your ringer, put up your cellphone, and take notice of those around you, looking for a way to be of assistance to someone else.

Listen.

Monitor 1One of the things that drives me crazy about politics is when, in a debate or interview, someone won’t answer a direct question. It is as though they have paid no attention to the question, and simply use their response as an opportunity to change the subject, and advance their own agenda. In the Bible, the apostle James encourages us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak…” (James 1:19). Too often, instead of really listening to what someone else is saying, we are simply working on formulating a pithy or intellectual response while they are talking. We are HEARING, but not truly LISTENING. Really listening requires undivided attention, focusing on the person who is speaking, and if they are in front of you (ie: not on the phone), observing facial expression and body language. There was a time not long ago when we were NOT connected 24/7; NOT constantly looking at Facebook and Snapchat, and NOT at the instant beck-and-call of every email or phone call. And you know what? We survived! We probably had a better quality of life, and definitely had better interpersonal relationship skills. Honestly, short of some sort of personal or dire emergency, when you are having a conversation, there should be nothing more important at that moment than the person sitting across from you with whom you are conversing.

A group of ministry friends of mine were having dinner with the pastor of a church where they were ministering; five or six men sitting in a restaurant conversing over a meal. About three-quarters of the way through the meal, the pastor looked up and exclaimed, “I just want to point out something. As we have been sitting here, the thing I have noticed is the way John (one of the guys at the table) has engaged everyone here. He has been listening to everyone, and has made it a point to draw every person here at the table into the conversation. That is a rare and wonderful ability.” In pointing out this observation about John, the pastor revealed that he, too, had been listening and observing, and had taken an interest in all of the men at the table. He was right… these days, that is a rare ability. Too often, we simply use our silence as the time in which we formulate our next opportunity to say something seemingly wise or clever.

ACTION STEP: The next time you sit down for a meeting, dinner, or just a conversation, encourage those you are with to turn off their phones, and put them in a place to the side, out of sight and mind. Whatever it is, it can wait. Commit to being a better listener.

We are made in God’s image, and it is the nature of God to want communion and fellowship with us, His creation. We all need someone to confide in, someone to talk to, and someone to listen to. It preserves our humanity. It makes us (and others) less lonely. It improves the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.

For those of us who are believers in Christ, I am reminded of this saying…

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So, I encourage you… saddle up, head out, go forth, and reconnect with the world around you. See others the way Jesus does, and take the time to draw them into your circle.

By drawing them into your circle, you might find them drawn into His heart.

 

Pastor Ron

The Lost Art of Reading Billboards

Motel SignBillboards have long been a fixture across the landscape of our country. Just drive down nearly any state highway or interstate, and you will be witness to massive advertisements for any number of businesses, products, services, or causes. From ads for fast food to political candidates to massive marriage proposals, people use billboards to communicate any number of products and ideas.

And in my 70 years on this earth, I don’t ever recall a single time I passed a billboard and witnessed an individual standing on the side of the road, screaming at that billboard while waving a picket sign. A billboard must meet certain community standards in order to be erected in the first place. I see any number of billboards on a daily basis that are advertising something I don’t necessarily agree (or disagree) with.

When I see these, I do what all normal people do… I just keep driving. I don’t stop and scream at the billboard. I stay in my car, maintain my speed, and have probably forgotten about it within a mile.

Wouldn’t it be great if people viewed what they see on the internet and social media the same way they view billboards?

It never ceases to amaze me, the time and energy people put into running something down that they disagree with on the web. In a letter he wrote in 1946, Albert Einstein said something almost prophetic…

“I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives — a disastrous byproduct of science and technology. Nostra Culpa (our fault)!”

Even in 1946 — long before home computers, digital technology, and the internet — Einstein saw technology “depersonalizing” our lives as individuals, and the way we interact with each other. Today we witness people say and do things on the internet — and when I say ‘internet’, I am including social media — that they would never have done even 25 years ago. We see “digital courage” on display on a regular basis; people hiding behind a computer screen, espousing their particular brand of hatred and vitriol from the safety of their bedroom… things they would never dream of saying to another person’s face.

Recently, our church had what we called All American Day. Our church has a long history of patriotic events, dating back over 30 years. I love this country, and I am thankful for the grace God has shown us over the last nearly 250 years. I believe the blessings of God on our nation are worth celebrating. This year, we invited former presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee to be our guest speaker. Subsequently, we did a little advertising on social media to promote the event. The text of the ad read…

Governor Mike Huckabee will be speaking this Sunday at Abba’s House in Hixson! Join us for patriotic music and an inspiring message by Gov. Huckabee! The service begins at 10:30am. Abba’s House is located at 5208 Hixson Pike.

No political agenda. No partisanship. No campaigning for a candidate. A former governor, who happens to be a Christian, was speaking about our nation.

What ensued over the next few days was a series of ill-informed, uneducated, judgmental, and even vile posts by people who disagreed with or disliked the idea Governor Huckabee was speaking at our church. While there were many posts that were positive and/or neutral, many crossed the line into absurdity and profanity that we would not even allow on the page. People launched into uninformed and unfounded personal attacks on Governor Huckabee. Others launched into attacks on President Trump. Still others became “Constitutional scholars”, and launched into arguments about the First Amendment, separation of church and state, and the Johnson Amendment (calling into question our church’s tax-exempt status).  I even had one person who proceeded to attack a speaker who spoke at our church several years ago (in an event that was not even sponsored by our church) who has no affiliation to politics, Mike Huckabee, or President Trump.

But what was probably the most disheartening were the attacks commentors made on other commentors, calling them childish and profane names, and belittling total strangers for being hopeful about our nation and our future.

Now normally I don’t respond to comments and criticisms, particularly on my blog. This “conversation”, however, goes to a bigger issue: Decency. I am used to criticism; I’m a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so in a world that is hostile to Him, it comes with the territory. What gets me, though, is the way people instantly become experts about everything they disagree with, which amplifies the idea that, as a believer in Jesus Christ, trying to “fit in” in such a world is not possible.

Here are a few fast facts pertaining to these posts…

  • Former-governor Huckabee is no longer a political candidate. The fact is, before he was Governor Mike Huckabee, he was Pastor Mike Huckabee. More than a decade before he entered politics, he was the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. One of his former bosses, evangelist James Robison, once said of him…

“His convictions shape his character and his character will shape his policies. His whole life has been shaped by moral absolutes.”

  • The Johnson Amendment (regarding political speech from a pulpit), has to do with the endorsement of a political candidate. Since Mr. Huckabee is neither (at this writing) a political candidate nor endorsing one, this really was a non-issue. In fact, all one has to do is a simple YouTube search, and you will find a variety of politicians (and candidates) who have spoken in churches, from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump.
  • There were several comments about the First Amendment and “separation of church and state.” The fact is that the term “separation of church and state” is not in the First Amendment, or in the Constitution at all for that matter. The phrase separation of church and state came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury Connecticut. The actual text of the First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Jefferson quote 1

While the First Amendment was never meant to keep the Church out of the State, but in fact, to keep the State out of the Church, liberal interpretations of the First Amendment, combined with a mis-interpretation (lack of context) of Jefferson’s words have led us to where we are today. The fact is, Jefferson’s own writings (as well as the writings of many of the founding fathers) bear witness to not only his belief in God, and to his belief that our liberties as a nation are a gift from God. Does it really stand to reason that we should eliminate, from our public life, the very God credited with making our public life, as we know it, possible?

 

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
~ Thomas Jefferson

 

  • In the social media posts, the word “hypocrite” was bandied about quite a bit. The fact of the matter is, hypocrisy is, by definition, the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. The fact is, nearly everyone exhibits hypocrisy in some form or fashion (if you claim to be a law-abiding citizen, yet you speed, you are, by definition a hypocrite)Monitor 4But here again, for the believer in Christ, fighting against the labels the world attempts to put on us is an untenable position; if we stand unwavering on the tenants of Scripture, particularly with regard to issues of morality, we are labelled “intolerant, bigots, homophobic, judgmental,” etc. But the same people who use such terms to describe people who stand on their Christian moral standards and beliefs are as equally unforgiving of any Christian who appears hypocritical in any way, form, or fashion. Essentially the argument is, “You are going to criticize me if my Christian belief system is counter to your political, social, or moral ideology (ie: if I am NOT a hypocrite), but you are going to criticize me for being a hypocrite if I don’t live my life perfectly in keeping with what I claim to believe.” Are you seeing the absurdity here, in trying to please those who you are never going to please?

I could go on for days, but I would like to bring this all back to the bigger issue I alluded to…

Decency.

While there will always be critics and naysayers, regardless of the topic, there should be an understanding that such “dialogue” is not the acceptable norm. There should be a way, in civil society, that we can “disagree without being disagreeable”, and respond to each other with dignity and respect. It seems that the more tech-saavy we become, the less decent we act. We should be able to have public discourse without the need to go to verbal war. We should be able to have honest debate without vitriolic hate. In the Bible, James implores the believer…

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

In Proverbs, we find this truth…

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. ~ Proverbs 15:1-2

Someone much wiser than me wrote that. It seems like pretty good advice for all of us. We can be uncompromising in our beliefs without being uncharitable in our speech. We should all strive to be passionate about our convictions without being profane in our words and attitude. It is possible to strongly disagree, but do so with unquestionable love, or at least civility.

Maybe it’s time to view social media the same way we view bilboards…

Read… and keep on driving down the road.

Have a great weekend!

Pastor Ron

Brother of The King

There was a little boy named Rick.

As a young child, his father abandoned his mother. With no income and unable to support her family, Rick’s mother had to put him and his brothers in an orphanage.

Some time later, Rick’s mother remarried a man whose name was Vernon. One day as Rick and his brothers were at the orphanage, a fancy car pulled up, and they were informed that they were there for Rick and his brothers. The car left the orphanage, and a short time later pulled up in front of a mansion…

Graceland.

As they passed through the gates of the world-famous home of Elvis Presley, the car came to a stop, and upon passing through the doors, they were greeted by “The King” himself.

“I always wanted a little brother, and now I have three”, they were told as the six-year-old Rick and his two brothers were met by their famous half-sibling. You see, Rick’s mother had married Elvis’s father.

The next morning, they discovered a yard filled with toys, bicycles, and gifts, and they ran with joy from one item to another, amazed to find themselves in such a home.

From an orphanage to the mansion of “the king”, this story reminds me of one we should all relate to — one of another King…

Jesus is “not ashamed to call us brethren.”  He is our Brother and Companion.  He has made us sons, and so all that He has is ours.  We are God’s children and are therefore recipients of His love.  All this is possible because He was willing to be a “perfect” Savior…

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ~ Hebrews 2:10

The perfect means “complete.”  Jesus was willing to do all that had to be done to give us complete salvation.  He came to lead a new family home to glory. All of the resources of Heaven are available to us as children of the King, and co-heirs of Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I think that is Good News worth sharing!

This week…

I will be joining Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr. at the RPMI Wilderness Conference in Chatsworth, GA. I hope you will join us for this powerful event. Damon Thompson, Eric Clark, and other will be with us. It all starts tonight (4-27), and runs through Sunday night (4-30). If you can’t be with us in person, you can watch it online on the RPMI Facebook page.

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Resurrection Day Thoughts (Thank You)

The dust has finally settled from a very busy Holy Week, and things have finally slowed down a bit as I share a few thoughts.

Abba's House Wide

Easter of 2017 was  wonderful day! From spending time with church family (and seeing a lot of new faces) to spending time with family and friends as we worshiped together, laughed, ate, and celebrated with thanksgiving and grateful hearts the gift of salvation and the hope that resurrection brings, Easter was a very special day this year.

WorshipWhile we gathered to celebrate Jesus, and the victory that He won over the devil, death, Hell, and the grave, we were reminded that His victory did not come without cost or consequence. Courage, sacrifice, humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart are all attributes at the ready for all who would follow Him. While I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice He made — the only sacrifice by which we can hope to be saved — my gratitude runs deep as well for the people of God and the obedience and diligence which they exhibited on this most Holy day.

I would like to thank all of those who helped care for the dozens of children who came to the house of the Lord on Easter (and every Sunday); folks who forego the experience of worship and teaching in order to minister to the upcoming generation of infants, toddlers, and small children, and take care of their needs with joy and love.

I thank all of the men and women who greeted people with smiles and kindness, assisted visitors, gave directions to those not familiar with our campus, and who diligently walked the parking area throughout the service, making sure things stayed safe and secure.

Abba's House busI thank all of those who volunteered on the Abba’s House bus, and provided a reliable and safe way for the underprivileged of our city to get to and from church to hear the Good News of Jesus’ love.

Vol 3I thank the dozens of volunteers who sacrificially gave of their time during the weeks before Easter; making phone calls, handing out water bottles and invitations at ball games, recreation parks, and places of business, and giving a smile to a stranger in need — inviting friends and strangers to join us on Easter.

I want to thank all of the musicians and singers who led us in worship, and helped create an atmosphere in which the King of Glory was exalted and glorified.

I want to thank all those in our bookstore, who served with joy, and provided refreshments to let us feel just a little bit more at home.

I want to thank all of those who volunteered as support and technical staff, who kept everything running smoothly so the rest of us could see and hear, and enjoy His presence undistracted, not just in the House, but across the world.

I want to thank every member of Abba’s House for making a welcome and inviting place for our guests.

I want to thank our entire staff who worked tirelessly to provide all of our volunteers with the support they needed, and who worked as a team to make the day a very special one.

Abba's House Med WideI want to thank Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr for joining me on stage as we shared from our hearts the message God had given both of us for day, and who ministers beside me with an anointing and heart for people.

Last but not least, I want to thank all who joined us — if even for the first time — in the House or online. I hope you came with an expectation, and left with a sense of the greatness and glory of the Most High God. I pray that your life was touched for eternity through our time together, and that it will not be the last time; that you will choose to join us again and become a part of the family we call Abba’s House.

You are ALWAYS welcome at Abba’s House!

God bless!
Pastor Ron

Dancing In The Latter Rain

tn-wildfires2For those of us living in East Tennessee, last year made us understand why rain is so desperately important. From the Smokies to the Tennessee Valley, wildfires as a result of the lack of rain brought destruction and death to many in our region. While Chattanooga faced wildfires up in the mountains surrounding our city, in places like Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, hundreds lost homes, businesses, possessions, and some their very lives.

Rain brings nourishment to plants. Rain provides protection against fire. Rain cleans the air and atmosphere, and provides clarity and refreshing — not just to our air alone, but also to our spirits. How many times have we all experienced the lifting of our spirits after a shower or storm, to go outside as the sun breaks through, revealing an earth refreshed and alive?

The Bible talks about “the Latter Rain” several times throughout its 66 books. Now, in the natural order, the latter rain was the second of two rains received in Israel for the harvest. The early rain prepared the ground and watered the seed, while the latter rain brought the wheat crop to maturity and prepared the vineyards and olive groves for the wine and oil harvests. However, in the spiritual dimension, the latter rain always has to do with Israel’s obedience, and the subsequent possession of their land.

We can see, even in our recent history, that there have been two latter rain movements in our world…

  • In the late 19th and Early 20th Centuries, The Balfour Declaration was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, in which Balfour confirmed support for an Israeli homeland.

balfour_portrait_and_declaration

It was around this time that the Pentecostal Movement began to break out amongst Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, being highlighted with such movements as Azusa Street.

  • Between 1948 and 1967. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, surrounding Arab nations and organizations mounted attacks over the subsequent years (the Arab-Israeli War, the Six-Day War, etc.). During those same years, as Israel took possession of their land, we saw social justice and civil rights happen under people like Martin Luther King, Jr. We saw revival happen under the likes of Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, and A.A. Allen. Events such as these became the forerunners and part of the Jesus Movement, adding names like Chuck Smith, Duane Pederson, Bill Bright, and others to the list of spiritual fathers to a generation.

Friends, we are in a latter rain period now.

kid-in-the-rain

So what does this mean to us? How should we respond to the positive (and negative) aspects of these Latter Rain times and Latter Days in which we live?

I invite you to join me this Sunday as I speak on The Promise of Change at Abba’s House in Chattanooga, TN. We are in ever changing times. With new leadership comes new direction, new policies and practices, and new hope. As our world changes, I will tell you what you need to be taking notice of with regard to Israel, the economy, and society as a whole. I hope you will join me Sunday at 10:30a.m. (EST)

If you aren’t in the Chattanooga area, please take advantage of our LIVE streaming at www.abbashouse.com/live