Tag Archive | witness

The Cross and the Bystander

Chalk outline - personWe have now in America what is referred to as The Bystander Effect. This “psychological phenomenon” was brought to light on March 16, 1964 when a young woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was brutally stabbed to death while walking to her apartment at Kew Gardens in Queens, New York City. A man named Winston Moseley had decided he was going to kill a woman that day, and it didn’t matter who it was. Driving around, Moseley spotted Genovese, and followed her to a parking lot. He got out of his car, and when she began to flee, he quickly caught up to her, and began stabbing her. As Genovese screamed, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!“, Moseley continued his attack. Amid her cries for help, a neighbor eventually yelled out of his window, “Let that girl alone!“, at which point Moseley fled the scene of the crime. Lying wounded and dying, not one of the estimated three dozen+ people who either heard her cries or saw the attack came to help Genovese. After ten minutes of lying there wounded, her attacker returned, and continued to stab, rape, and rob Genovese. By the time Moseley left, and help finally arrived, it was too late. Twenty-eight-year-old Kitty Genovese took her last breath en route to the hospital.

Was her life nothing to those that heard her cries
and did nothing in those early morning hours?

Wikipedia describes the Bystander Effect as…

“… a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.”

There once was a man who walked the dusty roads of the Middle East. He was kind, compassionate, and full of wisdom. Crowds large and small gathered to hear him speak, and his words brought life and hope to those who heard. However, regardless of the words he spoke, kindness he showed, and good deeds he did, the “Establishment” hated him. He rocked the boat of their belief system, upset the apple-cart of their status-quo, and for that — they deemed — he was worthy of death. Accusations were brought, false witnesses told lies, a friend betrayed him, he was given a mockery of a trial, and sentenced to die.

But death wasn’t good enough. The Establishment needed to make an example out of him, if for no other reason, to discourage copy-cat rabble-rousers.

They began by striking him and mocking him. They blindfolded him, hit him, and made sport of his captivity. Since this cruelty wasn’t enough to elicit a response, they ramped up the abuse. He was tied to a post and whipped 39 times with a device designed to tear the flesh from his body; nine strips of leather, embedded with broken pottery, bone, metal, and any other sharp edge that would help accomplish its goal. This “scourge” was raised by the muscled arm of a soldier who showed a knack for inflicting the most pain and damage, and 39 times it fell with the ferocity of a pack of wild dogs descending upon its victim.

When he survived that unimaginable beating, the rest of his sentence of death could be carried out. The “electric chair” of that day was called a cross — a heavy beam of lumber with a cross beam. The victim would be nailed to it, forced to hang naked before the world, dying from his wounds, exposure, and asphyxiation. To add insult to injury, the soldiers tasked with his execution forced him to carry his own instrument of death through the dusty streets, being mocked, spit upon, and humiliated along the way. At one point, when he finally collapsed for the last time under its weight, the soldiers accompanying him pulled a man from the crowd, forcing him to carry the load the rest of the way to the spot of execution.

Upon arrival at a place known by the locals as “The Place of the Skull“, his cross was dropped onto the ground, and he was forced on top of it. Spreading his arms out on the cross-beam, massive spikes were driven through each wrist, with one being driven through his overlapped feet. Once it was certain he was secure, they raised the cross and dropped it into a hole in the ground, the velocity of his body weight jerking hard against the spikes.

And for six hours, Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth… and died… for you.

Chalk outline - crossIs His sacrifice nothing to you?

If you could cure AIDS, wouldn’t you want everyone to know it? If you could stop cancer, would you keep quiet? If you had the method to put an end to Alheimer’s, would you keep silent?

If you are a believer in Christ, you have a testimony.

As one saved by Jesus’ precious blood, you have an amazing story to tell.

As a Christian, you have the incredible witness of a Gospel that
transforms lives… and it is criminal to keep it to yourself.

Are the lives of those around you who are dying — lost without Jesus — nothing to you?

In a YouTube video, illusionist, comedian, and renowned atheist Penn Jillette had this to say about Christians who share their faith…

And I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people that don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a Heaven and Hell, and people could be going to Hell — or not getting eternal life, or whatever — and you think that, “Well, it’s not really worth tellin’ ’em this, because it would make it socially awkward”, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize, “Just leave me alone. Keep your religion to yourself”… How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it —that truck was bearing down on you — there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that.

At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His triumph over death, Hell, and the grave! What better time to introduce a friend to the risen Savior that can save their soul, and transform their life. Christian, it is time to get serious about our witness. It is not enough to be a bystander, watching the masses pass by — beating a path to Hell — and waiting for someone else to tell them of Jesus’ love. He has called YOU. You are the one to tell His story. You are the one they are waiting for.

Is it nothing to you?

Maybe not… but it is EVERYTHING to them.

 

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Come Home

Homecoming 2015

I wanted to take my blog today to share with you a little about a special event coming up in the life of our church, Abba’s House.

On October 11, we will be celebrating Homecoming at Abba’s House. This will be a time of reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and reflecting on the heritage of the place we call home.

Our special guest for this celebration will be none other than my dear friend and former colleague Pastor Gaylon Wiley. Pastor Wiley served as Pastor of Education at Central Baptist Church of Hixson/Abba’s House from November 1, 1991 – March 30, 2013.  During this time, he helped train over 1500 soul-winners. He and his team averaged over 200 soul-winners over 32 weeks a year for 10 years.  Only God knows how many people were saved! He is now pastoring Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN.

Preachers often use the analogy of the pebble being thrown into the water. Although tiny, when it strikes the calm water, the ripples it creates can be seen and felt for a great distance.  Recently, Pastor Wiley had a reunion with a man whose family he had ministered to years back. The father’s name was Rafael, and he had abandoned his family in Canada, and gone back to Texas. Pastor Wiley met Rafael, witnessed to him, and led him in the sinner’s prayer to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. Rafael went back, reconciled with his wife and 3-year-old son, and got his family back together. Pastor Wiley went on to baptize Rafael and his family. That ripple of influence is still being felt today through the life and work of Rafael’s then 3-year-old son… Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Ted Cruz (TX).

Click HERE to see the full story about that reunion from WKRN-TV in Nashville.

So come home to Abba’s House on October 11. Whether you have been gone for a long time, or have never visited, we want Abba’s House to be a place you can call home. Because no matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve been through, The Father is waiting… and we are too!

For more information, you can visit our website.

You’re welcome at Abba’s House – Come home October 11!

Dancing With the Fishes

Through the Looking Glass      A couple was walking down the beach when they saw a man dancing in the sand up ahead of them. As they approached him, they realized he wasn’t dancing at all. Instead, he was picking up starfish that had washed up on the beach, and was throwing them back into the sea. They called out to the man…

“You know, there are thousands of starfish here? You’ll never be able to rescue them all. It’s not going to make a difference!”

Without looking up, the man reached down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf.

“It made a difference to that one,” he replied.

When we see the problems facing our country and the world, it is easy to lose hope. Jesus even said, “In this world you will have trouble…”

But then He said (and I can see Him smile as He replied)…

“Cheer up! I have overcome the world!”

“But the world is so big,” you may be saying. “Where do I start?”

Look down at your feet, and then out from your feet 5 yards in each direction. Do this multiple times a day (constantly is good), and every time you do, realize that the area you see is your mission field at that moment. Pick someone you know, or maybe even a complete stranger, and make a positive difference in their life today.

Question: “How do you change a world that needs Jesus?”

Answer: “One heart at a time.”

On a related note…

As you read this, we have a mission team from Abba’s House on it’s way to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to spend a week ministering to the people that live there. We are believing for great things for the team and the people they minister to. Please pray for safety, favor, and open lines of communication to hearts hungry for the love of Jesus.

If you would like to keep up with the team, you can follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/abbashousemissions

You can also follow them at:
http://www.ronphillips.org or http://www.abbashouse.com

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

Silent Preaching

Through the Looking GlassSt. Francis of Assisi had this to say about sharing the Gospel…

“Preach the Gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words.”

In the church, we put a lot of emphasis on sharing our faith. However, many times, our actions speak louder than our words. After all… who is our audience???

… The waitress we chewed out for getting our order wrong at a restaurant;

… The clerk we belittled for an honest mistake;

… The guy at work who saw us wasting company time;

… The new next-door neighbor we never had time to welcome to the neighborhood.

Sometimes we may struggle with the right thing to say when discussing our faith. Maybe we should first make sure that our actions reflect the love of God before we open our mouths.

Here’s a challenge for you: Share God’s love with someone in your life today, and, if necessary, use words.