Happy, Happy, Happy

I have to admit, I just started watching Duck Dynasty this year. It is in it’s second season and I was skeptical at first, but it’s just funny. I always appreciated the prayers at the end of the show, but lots of people pray over big meals – it doesn’t mean they believe in Jesus. It may just mean that’s what they did as kids and so it became a family tradition. It’s cool to see Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty sharing his story of faith in Jesus.

You can buy his new book here.

Everyone Has a Story

When I saw this video I got a little teary-eyed at the end. People are special and we all have a story. The gangster on the subway, the business man with his laptop, the young girl in the headphones… they are lives, people on a journey, stuck in this thing called life between the temporary and the eternal. We have a small window to learn some things while we are here and what I’ve learned is that we need God, and we need each other.

Enjoy this video and maybe look at a stranger a little differently from now on. They could be dying with cancer or HIV, they may have been beaten or abused that morning, they may be rich, but still miserable or poor and unbelievably happy.

Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

Learning to Listen…

Learning to listen – it’s not something that comes naturally. Some people are better listeners than others, but most people that are really good listeners do it intentionally. I try to be a good listener, but I find myself wanting to interrupt often. I love to hear the sound of my own voice. I love being heard. We all do. It’s what makes being a good listener so special.

Yesterday I was in a training session for a new ministry project that I’m participating in. The speaker said to us, “Don’t be so quick to take mental notes or to think that you have the answer.” It was a simple statement, but so powerful. We often feel like we know what to say – especially if what we are going to say happened to work for us. We get this nugget of truth and then we can’t wait to share it with everyone as if it is some miracle cure. But that nugget of truth might not ring so true for someone else. Being quick to answer often only comes across as rejection and if you aren’t a good listener – people will stop sharing what’s important with you.

My mentor has me reading a book right now called, “The Millionaire Mind.” It’s brilliant, but not in it’s information about money earning, but in the advice it gives on how to deal with people. “Me-Me-Me is Dull, Dull, Dull” – this was a line from the book and it is something I now remind myself often. When I’m with other people I want to always make it more about them and less about myself. This is a learned skill. It is not easy especially if the other person has also learned the importance of not focusing on themselves. But this is where great communication comes in. There is an amazing give and take and you ask questions and you allow the other person to fully answer and even better, you pause when they are done talking just in case they have more to say.

I’m still working hard at being the best version of who God created me to be. If you have some advice for me, I’d love to hear it… I’m listening…

Where is Your Identity?

My first semester at DTS I took a Spiritual Life class with Dr. Ralston. It was amazing. I took the class online and the great thing about that was we could get a transcript of the lectures. I took this snippet from one of the lectures as it changed my life and the way I thought about my ministry. I share it today because I believe it is always good to do some self-examination and find out what our true motives are when we are doing ministry.

“One of the biggest shadows inside a lot of leaders is the deep insecurity about their own identity, their own worth. The insecurity is hard to see in extraverted people, but the extraversion is often there precisely because they’re insecure about who they are. They are trying to prove themselves in the external world rather than wrestling with their inner identity.”

Macintosh comments, “The majority of tragically fallen Christian leaders during the past 10 to 15 years have been baby boomers who felt driven to achieve and succeed in an increasingly competitive and demanding church environment. Most often their ambition has been a subtle and dangerous combination of their own dysfunctional personal needs. In a certain measure of altruistic desire to expand the kingdom of God, however, because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language, for example the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church, the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late. A paradox of sorts existed in the lives of most of the leaders who experience significant failures. The personal insecurities, feeling of inferiority, and the need for parental approval among other dysfunctions that compel these people to become successful leaders were very often the same issues that precipitated their failure.”

You see what people are doing in Christian leadership? They’re trying to compensate. They’re trying to get the affirmation, the security, and the significance; they’re prostituting the role to their own needs. When leaders operate with a deep unexamined insecurity about their own identity, they create institutional settings that deprive other people of their identity as a way of dealing with the unexamined fears in the leaders themselves, and leaders not only embed in their organizations what they intend unconsciously to get across, but they also convey their inner conflicts and the inconsistencies in their own personal natures.

Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves. We can keep ourselves so busy, fill our lives with so many diversions, stuff our heads with so much knowledge, involve ourselves with so many people, and cover so much ground that we never have time to probe the fearful and wonderful world within, and by middle life most of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves; see the issues?” – Dr. Ralston, Dallas Theological Seminary

I thought Christians got drunk on Christmas…

I’m reposting this story from The Village Church because I thought it was really good…

When Katy from TVC stopped by her local dry-cleaner, she’d trade small talk with the Muslim owner. But this week, after getting equipped with how to share the Gospel with Muslims at an IHOPE workshop, when she picked up her dry cleaning, she asked her Muslim friend what he and his family celebrated – if anything – during Christmas. She was a little nervous to ask that first question, but what came next was very sweet.

That simple question prompted him to ask her what she & her family did during the holidays. When Katy shared that she would be praying, spending time in church and celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus, he was absolutely speechless. “I thought Christians got drunk on Christmas,” said the owner.

That led to a dialogue on what true followers of Jesus believe. Katy discovered her Muslim friend had no idea what the reason for the season was. She planted seeds, and now, she’s looking through her house to find more dry-cleaning to drop off to extend the conversation.

Many Muslims in the Metroplex have no idea why Christians celebrate Christmas. Like Katy’s dry cleaner, many think Christmas is about Santa, trees, gifts, food, and drinking. This season, like Katy, you can give a Muslim friend the best Christmas gift ever – the gift of hearing the Gospel for the first time.

Save the date now and plan to join us at the next IHOPE Muslim Outreach Equipping Workshop –on Saturday, February 23rd 9:00-10:30 AM (location details are pending). Join the movement and get equipped to help Muslims find and follow Jesus.

Renod Bejjani
TVC Covenant Member & Home Group Leader
Co-Founder & Executive Director for IHOPE Ministries