Tag Archive | friends

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

That One Thing

FriendsAt Abba’s House over the past several Sundays, I have been speaking on the subject of Friendship (I’ve even had a couple of blog posts on the subject).

With that said, tell me in a few words: What is one thing you can do for someone in your circle of friends to make a difference in their life? What is a tangible way you can share the love of Jesus with another? (Just in case you need some inspiration, I recommend referring back to my post A Love Stronger Than Death.)

Set a goal (say… the end of the month) to accomplish this by. If you’re like most of us, if we don’t set a deadline, we never get it done.

Make the decision. Decide that, by faith, you are going to reach out to that person(s).

Take the leap of faith.

Leave me a comment on your thoughts, your ideas, and maybe even a follow up on how it went. Who knows? Your idea may spark someone else to do the same (it could even start a movement). You never know what a difference the smallest act of kindness can make.

A Dangerous Business

1227101031aLet’s start with a question: What would you risk for a friend?

Ok… talk is cheap. Let’s start with another question:

What have you risked for a friend?

What friendship comes to your mind that you have taken a risk on? Did it pay off or cost you? Did it lead to fulfillment or heartbreak? True friendship is one of life’s greatest riches. However, a fading friendship can be a devastating force. Victor Hugo once said, “The Supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself”. Like a child who fears going into a kitchen after having been burned by a hot stove, many people shut themselves off from relationships because they have been burned by them. When you add the walls that society erects to the equation, the problems grow exponentially.

Do you first view the people you see every day…

… as black, white, Hispanic, Asian (etc)?

… as male or female?

… as young or old?

… as a Yankee or a Southerner (for those of us in the United States)?

… as local or foreign?

… as wealthy, middle class, or poor?

Sadly, we in the church have our own “walls” list, on top of these I’ve mentioned…

… Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, (etc).

… clean-cut or rough-around-the-edges.

… reserved or expressive.

… (musically) traditional or contemporary.

Subsequently, have we limited our vision to only those like us?

If we as Christians are going to follow the example of Jesus, we MUST set the societal and cultural biases aside, and tear down the walls that divide us.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4), in that one conversation, He crossed the borders of gender, society and race (Samaritan), religion, and morality in order to touch her heart.

When Jesus befriended Mary Magdalene, she had been previously demonized (Luke8:2). Mary went on to be one of His closest and most loyal friends. In fact, she was the last to leave Him at the cross, and the first to see Him at the tomb! Here was a woman who took risks to display her friendship, who was elevated by their friendship, and who was generous and unselfish in her expression of that friendship (Luke 7).

Stepping out from behind the walls we erect can be a scary proposition. It can also be among the most fulfilling in life. Taking a risk on another person is part of what makes life worthwhile, and if we are to live out God’s ideal for our lives, we must tear down the walls!

 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 6:26-29

So, break out your emotional and spiritual sledge-hammers! What are the walls you are going to tear down today?