Tag Archive | Abba’s House

Snowblind!

White Mtns

It sounds dramatic and tragic… Snowblind! For those who live in areas that spend a vast majority of the winter covered in white, snowblindness can be a very real problem. I live in the south where winter almost started to show up this year, so unless you can get snowblindness from looking at pictures of Vermont or Switzerland, watching downhill skiing on television, or staring at a snowcone, I think I’m safe.

imageAccording to the website MedicineNet.com, snowblindness is a burning of the cornea by ultraviolet rays. Also known as photokeratitis, it is a temporary condition that “typically occurs at high altitudes on highly reflective snow fields or, less often, with a solar eclipse.” While it can be painful and unpleasant, resulting in temporary loss of vision, symptoms usually only last about 18 hours.

Here’s another interesting fact about snowblindness…

Did you know that God is snowblind?

That’s right! When it comes to the sins of those who have chosen to put their trust in Him, God is snowblind. In Isaiah, God said to His people…

“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

In Psalms 51:7, the psalmist says this…

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Though our sins makes us filthy and reprehensible in the eyes of God, and separate us from His presence, Jesus came to give us life and take the guilt and shame of our sin upon Himself. For those of us who choose to accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers through faith in Him, God no longer looks at us and sees all of our sins, shortcomings, and failures…

He becomes “snowblind”… Blind to everything that kept us from a life with Him.

He now sees us as pure and clean, washed white as snow by the red blood of Jesus.

Want to learn more?  Watch here…

The Unknown Soldier

2014-01-28-1678Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is an experience I would recommend to any American citizen. Overlooking our nation’s capitol, Arlington is the final resting place for American heroes, patriots, presidents, and other notable figures throughout our history. Among those laid to rest in Arlington are Presidents Kennedy and Taft, Governor Earl Warren, astronaut Capt. Pete Conrad, explorer Robert Peary, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

For all of the statuary and solemnity that such a place exhibits and deserves, there is one grave that stands out as a place of reverence and respect…

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

2014-01-28-1701Established in 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  is the resting place of three unknown American soldiers… one from each of the wars; World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. While there had been one unknown from the Vietnam War, that body was later exhumed and identified through DNA as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. The Vietnam War crypt now remains vacant.

2014-01-28-1700Guarded non-stop since July 1, 1937, the sentinels guarding the tomb are committed to the respect and reverence a place of such hallowed distinction deserves. From their 8 hours of uniform preparation prior to every shift, to the precision of every movement, to their unwavering dedication in the face of heat, cold, and inclement weather, these soldiers dedicate their time of service to the physical and symbolic protection of the Tomb.

Inscribed in the face of the sarcophagus are these words…

Here rests in honored glory
An American Soldier
Known but to God

You may ask, “So why all of the pomp and ceremony? Why all of the attention to some soldiers who we don’t even know their identity?”

It is because those who established the Tomb, as well as those who dedicate their lives to guarding it, understand that just because a soldier’s name is not known does not make him any less worthy of respect and honor. They understand that bravery and dedication as a soldier of our nation deserves to be recognized and revered in the highest way, even if the rest of the world doesn’t know their name.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul said…

      But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. ~ I Corinthians 1:27-29

Maybe people consider you foolish because of what you believe. Maybe you are not the biggest or strongest warrior of the faith. Maybe you feel despised and even unknown. Maybe you do your task for the Kingdom in utter obscurity, pray in your quiet place, and live your life in quietness and peace.

You know what? You might not be a big deal (or even noticed) in the world, but God sees you. You might not be the one getting the recognition, but God is taking notice of your labors. You might not be getting cheers on this earth, but rest assured, you are receiving the applause of Heaven.

So take heart, you unknown soldier. Your labor is not in vain. Just remember…

The proud are opposed by God, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Man may see your outward appearance, but God sees the attitude of your heart (I Samuel 16:7).

The mighty may inherit the battlefield, but the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Carry on, unknown soldier… you are known to God — and that is all that matters.

A Tiny Fire.

America has long been a nuclear superpower on the world stage. Since the days of the Manhattan Project to our current time, the United States has possessed the capability for destruction on a scale incomprehensible to most people. And while such power becomes a deterrent to those who would do us harm, it also comes with great responsibility and peril to those who wield it.

For example…

titan-iiOn September 18, 1980, at approximately 6:00p.m., an Air Force PTS team (Propellant Transfer System) entered the Titan II Missile Complex 374-7 in Damascus, Arkansas. Their purpose for being there was to replace a small part on the missile. At about 6:25p.m., a two man team went into the missile silo to work on the missile.

Now, the Titan II missile was no small thing. As the name would indicate, the Titan II was enormous. In the documentary Command and Control (American Experience, PBS), Missile Combat Crew member Allan Childers described the sight…

“You couldn’t see the warhead from the bottom ’cause you were 8 stories down, and the cone of the warhead disappeared off in the distance.”

titan_ii_launchThe Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile stood approximately 7 stories high, weighed around 330,000 pounds (165 tons), and carried the most powerful and destructive weapon in the history of warfare in the United States (possibly the world); a nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead that had three-times the destructive capability of every bomb dropped by every army during World War II combined, including the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This was a weapon with the capability to wipe out — not just a city — but a civilization.

As the crew began to work on the missile, the unthinkable happened. The socket they were using to remove the pressure cap disconnected from the wrench, and fell about 80 feet to the bottom of the missile silo. The eight-pound socket ricocheted off a thrust mount and struck the side of the missile, rupturing the fuel tank.

Over the next several hours, dozens of people across the military and defense department spectrum worked frantically to come up with a solution to keep the situation from turning into a nuclear disaster. During that time, over 14,000 gallons of rocket fuel continued to leak from the rocket into the silo.

In the early morning hours of September 19, tragedy struck.

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While crews on site continued their work, the fuel ignited, and the missile complex exploded in a ball of fire seen for miles. About 21 personnel were seriously injured in the blast, and one PTS crew member, Senior Airman David Livingston, lost his life. Miraculously, the nuclear warhead itself did not detonate, and the destruction was confined to the immediate area of the missile silo and complex. The nuclear warhead was later located — still intact — in a nearby ditch, having been blown clear of the silo by the massive force of the explosion.

damascus-ar-2Now think about it. This catastrophe was caused because a small, eight-pound socket — something a minuscule fraction of the size of the missile — was accidentally dropped. And all it took then was for the tiniest spark to ignite the leaked fuel for the entire facility to turn into a deadly inferno.

This tragedy reminds me of the words of James…

   Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:3-6

woman in depressionA tiny bit controls a thousand-pound horse. A tiny rudder steers a massive ship on the wild sea. Thousands of acres of forest can be set ablaze by an unattended campfire or a carelessly discarded cigarette butt.

In the same respect, the tongue is among the tiniest members of the body, but has the potential of an emotional “nuke”. Wars have been started because of words. Lives have been destroyed because of the power of the tongue. Marriages and friendships have been laid waste in the wake of destructive words.

James goes on to say…

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. ~ James 3:9-12

King Solomon put it this way…

The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked. ~ Proverbs 10:11

GirlsWhether it is how you whisper to a child, speak to a friend, orate to a large gathering, or proclaim from the mountaintop through media… words have meaning. Words have consequences. Words can be a fountain of life, or a weapon of destruction. Words are more than just mindless blathering… they are the reflection of the deepest recesses of the heart. Jesus drove this point home when He said…

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ~ Luke 6:45

nuke-1Maybe your words have already harmed another. Maybe, because of something you said, the elements are already in motion, counting down to an inevitable explosion. It’s not too late! Just as words of anger, jealousy, and malice can set the potential disaster into motion, words of forgiveness, healing, and contrition can avert that same disaster. It just takes the putting down of pride and the willingness to be the “bigger” person; to be righteous instead of “right”. It just takes putting on the mind of Christ, and being an agent of peace and unity instead of chaos.

Don’t wait until the little “dropped sockets” of life allow circumstances to build to critical mass. Let your words be a well of Life for someone else today.

 

Glory in the Highest!

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     And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

     Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

     Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

     And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

     “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 

KS12494So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

From my family to yours…

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas_Tree_FarmsChristmas is upon us.

In just a few more days, we will wake to a day of family, friends. food, and gifts as we celebrate the Greatest Gift of all… Jesus.

 

 

 
KS12480As we bask in the warmth of the love of family and friends, let us take inventory of the goodness of God in our lives, starting with the Child in the manger, over 2000 years ago… the Hope of the world. Let us put aside the things that divide us, and draw near to the simplicity of that night, that angels heralded His birth, and Hope was given to a people lost in darkness. As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed centuries before that blessed night…

 

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

Thank you for making us a part of your season and year, whether by television, radio, visiting our church in Hixson, TN, or reading my blog. My prayer is that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy and Peaceful New Year, and that your life will be filled with the abundance and blessings of a child of the King.

If you are in the Hixson area, please come join us for our Traditions Christmas Eve Communion at 5:00pm on Saturday, then our Christmas Service at 10:30am on Sunday, Christmas Day.

From our family to yours… Merry Christmas!

Pastor Ron

rp-paulette-christmas

A Christmas Story of Sorts

across-the-water3

There once was an old artist…

He lived in a small home in a setting that was picturesque: His property was wooded with a short hill that ran from his back door down into a vast, calm lake. Looking out over the water into the distance revealed a majestic mountain range. He had few human visitors, but enjoyed watching the fish jump and the ducks and geese gliding effortlessly across the surface of the water. It was not uncommon for him to be visited by squirrels, raccoons, and quite often, deer.

Snow 2JEvery morning (weather permitting), the old artist would walk down the hill from his house to the small dock he had built years before on the lake. He would take his easel and a small box of drawing and painting utensils, and spend hours sitting on the dock, painting and sketching. Often, he would paint his beautiful surroundings — trees, water, the mountains, the woodland creatures — but every once in a while, he would paint images from his mind, and what the serenity of that place inspired in his imagination. He started off just hanging the pictures in his small home but over time, the lack of wall space and the encouragement of a friend inspired him to sell his paintings at a local store. Every once in a while, his art would inspire him to accompany the painting with a poem from his own experience, and although he rarely wrote such poems, they were always filled with beautiful imagery, witty humor, and profound wisdom.

There came a day when a man from a large city visited the area, and stopped by the store for some supplies. The man owned a large publishing company, and upon seeing the art on display, was intrigued. He read a couple of the poems, and was beyond impressed.

“Who is the author of these masterpieces?” he inquired.

The shop owner gave him the old artist’s address, and he hurried away to find the artist. When he arrived at his destination, the old artist was down on the dock, feeding some ducks a little dry bread left over from last evening’s dinner. The publisher proceeded to introduce himself, and compliment the artist on his craft — particularly his poetry. He passionately  made the case that the old artist’s gift of poetry did not need to be hidden from the world, and that his work could reach thousands and millions of people if he would come to work for him. The publisher’s words made the old artist feel respected, needed, and guilty all at the same time. After a couple hours of persuasion, the publisher convinced the old artist to come to work for his company, and share his wonderful insights with the rest of the world. The old man agreed to a contract which required him to move to the city in which the publishing company was located.

bldg-in-philly2For the first six months, his work was incredible. The publisher was overwhelmed by the beauty of the old artist’s eloquent and witty poems and stories. Furthermore, he was overjoyed by the public reception of the old artist — letters and correspondence praising the writings as masterful and insightful. Readership was up for the first time in a decade, with a corresponding rise in revenue. Everyone at the publishing company was happy.

Everyone, that is, except for the old artist.

Over time, sales plateaued and began to fall away. The new readers who at first seemed so excited began to disappear, the praise began to subside, and what little correspondence there was was less than flattering. “Dry”, “passionless”, and “formulaic” were words that critics began to use to describe the writing they once called “fresh”, “genius”, and “inspirational”. The publisher, concerned about not just his company’s bottom line, but having also grown quite fond of the old artist as a friend, decided to talk to the man.

Meeting one evening at the publisher’s home, the publisher asked the old artist if he was alright; had something happened to cause him to lose his inspiration?

The old man replied…

“You became interested in me and my work because of my poetry. You saw it as beautiful and unique, inspiring and insightful. But I’m not sure you understood where it came from. Honestly, until now, I’m not sure I did.

But I do now.
You see, the beautiful poetry you love was always a by-product of the hours I spent alone with my art. Almost every morning (weather permitting), I would go down to my dock — the place you found me feeding the ducks — and paint or sketch what I saw, not just with my eyes, but with my mind and my heart.

The thing is, that art came from a place as well.

That place.

wintertree-charcoalThat place I call home. That place I knew since I was a young boy. That place I shared with the love of my life — my other inspiration — until her time on this earth was done. That place where the wind sings to my spirit, that holds my memories, my laughter, my tears, my joys, and my sorrows. That place that inspired adventure in a young man, and soothed the broken heart of a grieving and lonely old man.

When you hired me and I left that place, I left behind the art and inspiration that gave my poetry its real meaning. You gained the writer, but left behind everything that made the artist.”

Friends, how many times have we done that?

holly-paintingHow many times do we see someone for what they are, but we miss who they are? How many times have we — as friends, acquaintances, leaders, and employers — looked to someone to fill a role in our lives without considering what it is that makes them qualified or even necessary to fill that role? How many times have employers, for the sake of gaining an employee, forsaken an artist? We see how having the abilities of a person can benefit us, but what is that thing that inspires them, that makes them who they are, that makes them of benefit to everyone around them? While we may choose what a person’s assignment is, do we understand what their anointing is?

Well… God does.

He understood it when He told Jeremiah…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations. ~ Jeremiah 1:5

His creative genius was clear to David, who wrote…

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16

Paul recognized that God’s good and perfect gifts come without a return receipt…

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. ~ Romans 11:29

KS12499This Christmas season, I encourage you — actually, I invite you — as we celebrate the story of the Christ Child, to find out someone else’s story. Find out what makes them tick. Look beyond the temporal and temporary exterior and find out about their experiences, dreams, and aspirations.

Look beyond the assignment and find the anointing.

Look past the grit and find the gift.

Solomon recognized the value of God’s gifts when he said…

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

This next year, let’s commit ourselves to recognizing the gifts and callings in those around us, and help to clear the path for that anointing to find its way to greatness.

Ready… FIRE… Aim…


So I’m perusing my news feed on social media the other day when I see this headline…

“Chip and Joanna Gaines Under Fire for Maybe
Having the ‘Wrong’ Views on LGBT Issues”

“Maybe”…

Please, take a moment and let that sink in.

“Maybe.”

Chalk outline - crossThe story, posted in The Daily Signal, discussed how the HGTV stars of Fixer Upper were in hot water with some outlets such as BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan over the fact that they attend a church where the pastor still believes that homosexuality is a sin. Now, bear in mind that the Gaines couple, who happen to be born-again Christians, have never spoken publicly (that anyone seems to know of) about their position on homosexuality and/or gay marriage.

Cue the sirens of the “Thought-Police“.

So, if I’m getting this straight, now we have gone from…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you speak out against what the Bible calls ‘sin'”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you think something is a sin”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if I think that you think that something is a sin.”

Folks… we, as a society, have officially jumped the shark.

First_amendment_engraving,_Washington_DCPolitical correctness has indeed reached a tipping point, and for the left-wing crowd that wants to be able to say, express, and champion every progressive, “enlightened”, offensive, and ungodly idea under the auspices of “free speech”, well… here’s your First Amendment at work.

Our nation is sorely divided over LGBT issues. According to The Daily Caller article

According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, 37 percent of adults in this country still oppose same-sex marriage, while 55 percent approve. That means over a third of Americans are still against same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, among Christians, 54 percent thought that homosexuality should be accepted in society, per a 2014 Pew study—which means that up to 46 percent thought it shouldn’t be. Among Protestants, 44 percent believe that homosexuality should be discouraged in society.

However, as a minister of the Gospel for the vast majority of my life, I will continue to stand on the truth of the Word of God, and its definition of sin. In our day and time, with cultural forces being brought to bear on those who believe in the inerrancy and timelessness of the Bible, it would be far easier to go with the flow, follow the crowd, and preach an “I’m ok, you’re ok” doctrine that marginalizes holiness and righteousness in the name of a twisted and corrupted definition of “love”. But that isn’t how it works. The laws and principles laid out in God’s Word are sovereign and unchanging. What God says is sin is sin, for He is not bound to bend to the whims of culture and political correctness. He is God Almighty, unchanging from eternity to eternity.

In I Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter), Paul says…

    Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (v. 4-8a NKJV)

As a minister of the Gospel, I speak out against things that the Bible calls ‘sin’ — not in spite of love — but because of love…

… Love that puts up with being called a bigot or a homophobe because of my love for the souls of men and women who are without Christ.

… Love that is willing to risk ridicule and derision for the sake of truth.

… Love that wishes, as Christ did, that “none should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

But I digress… a little.

The fact is that political correctness in America has reached a point of toxicity, hypocrisy, and absurdity that warrants a long, hard look by the next administration into the injustices and persecution of conservative individuals who have simply stood on their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and faith, while other — more politically correct — individuals are given a pass on the basis of those same rights.

And for the “who are you to judge me?” crowd to now begin persecuting people because of what they MIGHT believe??? Is that not the very essence of being judgmental? (I wish I could say this is a joke, but you really can’t make this stuff up.)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. ~ Hebrews 4: 12-13 (NKJV)

In the end, God is the Judge of all. Until that time, whether conservative or liberal, right or wrong, we must all be ready to be offended in some way by some person who has a differing viewpoint from our own. That is the whole essence of discourse or having a conversation — to share differing ideas and opinions. 

And who knows… in the process, we might actually learn something about ourselves, about others, and about what it means to live and exist outside of the bubble of our own ideas. As Christians, we might actually become better informed to make the difference that Jesus called us to make, in the lives of others and in our world. We might start changing minds and hearts because of, not just a message of love and forgiveness, but a lifestyle and attitude that uncompromisingly walks the talk.