Tag Archive | Abba

Following The Father’s Voice

Leaves1As we enjoy the colors of fall, in the midst of a season of thanksgiving, this seemed like a good thought for today…

Jesus’ challenge to us  – His calling – is to “follow on”.

What an exciting call!

Jesus acknowledges us as joint heirs with Him, saying literally, “What is Mine is yours.” And the Holy Spirit wants to guide you into the treasure chest of what God has for you.

We have, for too long, kept our hands behind our backs, Leaves3afraid to plunge them into the fruit basket of the Spirit, not opening up the presents God has for us. There is so much to experience – so much to see. Jesus cries, “Follow on!”

A simple, yet potentially double-edged Ashanti proverb begins Javaka Steptoe’s picture book entitled In Daddy’s Arms, I Am Tall, a powerful collection of poems celebrating African American fathers. The proverb reads…

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.

Leaves2In Jesus’ arms, I don’t have to worry about the future! The future is in the hands of my Father. He will whisper in my ear, and He will say, “This is what I am going to do if you trust me and step out in faith. My gifts are here to help you live in peace and joy.”

— from the book, Kisses from the Father
by Ron Phillips

Thanks

Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who is following my blog. It is both inspiring and humbling to know I have so many friends out there, and I hope that what you find here is uplifting to your spirit, and encouraging in your walk with Abba Father.

I do want to remind everyone of a few of things…

First of all, don’t forget the Monthly Grab Bag. Tell your friends to sign up. Just by “following” my blog, you are automatically entered for the monthly giveaway. Just click on “The Monthly Grab Bag” tab at the top of the page to find out what the giveaway is for the month.

Next, please remember that this blog is interactive. That means I want to hear from you! I really want my blog to be a conversation, so I need to hear from you to make that happen. If something you find here inspires you, God uses it in your life, or you just want to leave a comment, feel free to do that. I’m always interested in your thoughts on the topics I write about. Please understand, however, that due to the amount of “spam” that blogs attract, all comments first go to my webmaster for approval. So, if you post a comment, but don’t see it immediately, please be patient. We’ll get to it soon. If, for some reason, you do not want your comment to be made public, please let us know that too. Otherwise, we’ll assume that it is ok for your comment to be a part of the conversation.

Last of all, help us spread the word about “The Heart of Abba”. This blog is meant to be, not just a place “of ” discussion, but a springboard “for” discussion. It could be that something you or a friend see here becomes a launching-pad for a personal conversation – a “door-opener” for you to speak into the life of someone else the Good News of Jesus. That is what it is all about, and we’ll rejoice with you for the courage and encouragement you find here to share your faith.

Thanks again for being a part. I hope everyone has a great weekend – God bless!

When The Diagnosis is Defeat

“When adversity comes, you praise God.”

That was what my friend Terry had always been taught. When those tough times come, you just stand there, stare down the storm, and praise God.

However, on January 8, 2012, praising God was not very high on Terry’s priority list. After experiencing some problems, and noticing a lump that had developed only over a couple of days, and that ran from his chest up toward his shoulder, Terry decided to visit his doctor. His doctor was pretty blunt with the assessment:

“You have extensive small cell carcinoma (a very fast growing and aggressive form of cancer). You probably only have 6 to 12 months to live.”

A very shocked Terry had little time to process this news and the implications. He began chemotherapy immediately… the next day to be exact. While the prognosis was grim, doctors were going to try to do what they could to try to help him.

In her book, On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlines the 5 stages of grief for someone who is dying: Denial (isolation), anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

“I immediately began going through the stages. In the coming weeks, I dealt with anger, denial, and depression.”

But after some initial grieving, something miraculous happened:

Terry found a spark of faith.

He found out that people all over the country were praying for him, praying for his healing. People from all walks of life were joining together in faith for a husband, father, and brother many had not even met.

“I was at my sister’s barber shop”, Terry recalled. “A Christian lawyer was there and asked if he could pray for me. As he prayed, I felt some long-seeded emotional pain begin to disappear. I felt healing – emotional healing – beginning to take place.”

Terry was sent to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX for more treatment. During his numerous visits to MDA, he would undergo radiation therapy… for three weeks at a time.

After his first stay at MDA, Terry came home. That Sunday, while at Abba’s House for the morning service, Terry came forward for prayer. “As Pastor prayed over me, I could feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

Drawing on these prayers, Terry began to spend more time in personal prayer, time in the Word, and listening to anointed worship music and healing Scriptures. Through his Lifegroup at Abba’s House, Terry was introduced to the book, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The book teaches that, if we will just keep “circling” the promises of God through prayer, that God will ultimately deliver. One of Terry’s favorite quotes from the book is “God has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be exercised in response to prayer. Simply put: God will not do it unless you pray for it.”

Holding on to the prayers that had been offered up on his behalf, as well as the belief that his mission on this earth was not over, Terry refused to stop believing in a loving Father who wanted to heal him. He continued to “draw the prayer circle” around his need, and continued to believe for his healing.

On February 13, 2013, Terry was declared “cancer-free” by his doctors! At a time when medical science had all but written him off, Terry believed God. “Don’t stop! Don’t give up,” he says. “God will answer your prayers. It may take a while, but his promises are ‘yes and amen (so be it)’. Hold God to His word, and don’t give doubt the tiniest foothold!”

As you can imagine, the medical cost of a catastrophic illness such as this can be astronomical. However, Terry just smiles, “God has met our needs. Not one bill has gone unpaid. I haven’t worked in over a year. However, we continue to pay our tithes and give, and God miraculously meets our needs”.

God is true to His Word. Throughout Scripture, He gives us His promises to heal and deliver, and His promises are as good today – as “yes and amen” now – as they were when He originally breathed the Word to those who wrote it down.

So here is the question? Do you need healing? Do you want to be healed – physically, emotionally, spiritually?

If the answer is YES, I hope you will join me at this year’s Fresh Oil New Wine Conference. We are believing for a mighty, healing outpouring this year.

Come and get into the circle! For more info, just click the image below…

FONW2013

Faith, Philippians, & Fleetwood Mac

Happy New Year!

As with each New Year, for most of us, this one probably started with watching the crystal ball drop in Times Square (we miss you, Dick Clark), a kiss from a loved one, and a string of well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions:

“I’m going to lose that elusive 40 lbs”.

“I’m going to finish that never ending remodeling project .”

“I’m going to quit smoking.”

The list can go on and on for most of us. A New Year is a time for new beginnings… a time at which we contemplate the person we would like to be – a thinner, kinder, healthier, more organized person. However, by the first couple of days into January, any failure to strictly adhere to our good intentions spells doom for the other 363 days. We begin to look at the big picture through the lens of our failure at keeping last year’s resolutions, and the spiral of defeat begins before the last of the spiral-sliced ham (and other Christmas leftovers) has found its way to the garbage can.

But hold on a second! Before you give up completely, and start looking for a yard stick and paper towels with which to construct the white flag of surrender, please allow me to throw a sound-bite of reason into your intellectual quagmire.

Fleetwood Mac.

Christine McVie of the band Fleetwood Mac put it this way…

If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop… it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Years ago, the news media was interviewing soldiers on the front line of Vietnam. It was the Christmas season and the reporter asked a question of a grisly, old Gunnery Sergeant.

“What gift would you like this season?”

The old soldier answered – “Tomorrow”.

Stop trying to bite off a mouthful that it is going to take 365 days to chew. Start with that one thing that this old soldier understood all too well…

Tomorrow.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul talked about how he approached the future…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (v. 13-14)

Sounds like good advice to me. However, in spite of the blank page, uncharted waters, open doors, and genuine hope that 2013 offers us (which, incidentally, I am running with), many of you reading this right now have already resigned yourselves to defeat. Because of things such as personal problems, taxes and inflation, wars in the Middle East, and the uncertainty of the stock market, many of you have already decided that 2013 is going to be a bad year.

I, for one, haven’t. But let’s go with this line of thinking for a moment…

If you are bound and determined that this is going to be a bad year, here are several ways to guarantee that outcome:

Keep your eyes on the rear-view mirror.

John Maxwell says that there are four bridges that we all must burn if we want to have a better life.

  1. Wrongs done to us. Successful people let the past go. Ignore the little stuff… forgive the big stuff.
  2. The unfairness of life. Determine that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are NEVER going to live with a victim mentality.
  3. Bad habits. Break unhealthy patterns from the past.
  4. Our own stupidity. Become intimately acquainted with the phrase, “I was wrong”.

There is a story told of an old black man, age 85, down South, sitting on his porch one summer evening, slowly rocking in his rocking chair, with his pipe, blowing circles into the motionless air. A young hyperactive salesman approaches him and shouts from the sidewalk:

“Grandpa, I got a book for you here that will help you remember everything from your whole life. It costs only five dollars.”

The old man sat there in silence, reflecting, not saying a word as he rocked, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, said:

“Sonny, I’ll give you a thousand dollars for the book that can help me to forget.”

A really great way to sabotage your year: Don’t pray – Worry instead.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says ten times, “Don’t worry”. The Apostle Paul encourages us:

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6-7).

     So why do we? Why do we worry about tomorrow when it can do nothing but destroy our today? Dr. Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I’ve never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from stress.”

Someone once said that, “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” So what did all of that worrying gain you? What was it about today that had you so in knots yesterday? Was it really worth it, or do you think that a little less worrying and a little more praying might have given you, if nothing else, a little more peace of mind?

Remember: Nothing kills a good year like having a bad attitude.

“If you don’t think every day is a good day, try missing one.” ~ Cavet Robert

So, you walk into a room, and the very first person that speaks to you begins by sneezing in your face.

That is exactly what a bad attitude is like. It is a virus of ill-will that is spread every time you open your mouth. Just like passing a cold, a bad attitude has the potential to infect all of those it comes into contact with.

Life is full of things over which we have no control… where we were born, who our relatives are, what we look like, any physical limitations. The one thing in our life that we have TOTAL control over is our attitude. People cannot make you have a bad attitude. Your job cannot make you have a bad attitude. Your church or pastor cannot make you have a bad attitude.

Attitude is ALL up to you.

       “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright, Reader’s Digest (June, 1995)

     But if you are determined to have a bad attitude, then by all means…

  1. Be a fault-finder. Go out of your way to find fault with everything and everyone God puts into your path. Family, co-workers, church leadership… make no one exempt. For the true fault-finder, there are always plenty of targets. However, anyone who wants to be like Jesus will find potential, not pessimism. They will focus on the positive, not the negative.
  2. Kill your passion. You were created for greatness, but if you have your heart set on killing your God-given passion, it can be done. If you never question why you were created, avoid people with passion at all cost, or just shift the transmission of your creativity into neutral, that’s a good beginning to the end of passion. However, if you have a dream you can’t stop talking about, or a vision that excites you, it could be that God is trying to tell you something. As Nelson Mendela once said, “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.
  3. Blame others for your situation. This is the one that permeates society. There is never a shortage of people or circumstances to blame for our misfortunes. If your business fails, blame your downline. If you don’t like your looks, blame your parents. If your kids are a mess, blame the church for not raising them right. If you get a speeding ticket, blame the policeman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, if you want to break the cycle that has made us a nation of “victims, crybabies, and fault-finders”, take responsibility for your life. If something is not working, be willing to change.

     “The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Good intentions won’t carry the day (or year) if you don’t finish what you start.

Success in anything starts with a determination to finish what you started. No runner ever won a race by lying down on the track 20 feet shy of the finish line. Don’t let mediocrity weaken you… set goals, make a plan, then work the plan.

                  Write them down.
                  Embrace them by faith.
                  Give it your all.
                  Do not be afraid.

If you make your plans for “someday”, just remember this… Someday never comes.

START TODAY!

A promising year will end in a big pile of nothing if you have all of the answers, and never listen to others.

It is what you learn after you know it all that really matters. No one knows less than the “know-it-all”. Be teachable… be humble.

Live out your year with an attitude of defeat… Never take the risk of faith.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~ Paul (2 Timothy 1:7)

“Greatness, in the last analysis, is largely bravery. Courage in escaping from old ideas and old standards and respectable ways of doing things.” ~ James Harvey Robinson

Taking the risk of faith begins quite simple, requiring just three things… power, love, and a sound mind.

Hopefully, in the process of reading this New Year’s blog, you’ve changed your mind, and have made the decision to make this the best year ever. The future is full of promise, and tomorrow is (as Annie sang) “only a day away”. Using Philippians 3:12 -16 as a model, we can have a simple formula for not just a great year, but a great life as well…

Stay Hungry“not as though I had attained”
Stay Focused“This one thing I do…”
Stay on Course“… forgetting… reaching…”
Stay Determined“I press”
Stay Disciplined“toward the goal”
Stay Open“God will reveal…”
Stay Together“be of the same mind”

So have a great year, my friend, and may faith and the favor of God find you wherever you are.

Pastor Ron