May 2014 Leader Spotlight Major Ronnie Robbins – Profile

Ronnie Robbins

After professional careers in law enforcement, executive hotel management and hospital administration, Major Roni Robbins met The Salvation Army and the rest is history. She was ordained and commissioned in 1995 as a Messenger of Hope. Following two corps officer appointments in the Georgia Division, Major Robbins was appointed to the College for Officer Training for three years where she taught both Homiletics and Doctrine (Theology).

She then served at our Southern Territory Headquarters as the Territorial Candidate Recruitment Secretary for three years. Before being appointed to Atlanta Temple Corps as Corps Officer where she is in her fourth year, the Major served at Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Headquarters. She spent one year there as Divisional Secretary and two years as General Secretary.

Major Robbins holds a Masters Degree in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from the same institution.

September 2014 Leader Spotlight Dale Bannon – Time – Urgent or Eternal

by Dale Bannon

Dale Bannon headshotA few of months ago, I found myself in meetings all day.  The kind of meetings where lists are made and tasks are assigned.  As I am taking meeting notes, an anxious thought overwhelmed me—“When will I have time to get to these new tasks on my plate?”  I returned to my desk around 4:15 p.m. to find that while I was away over one hundred emails flooded my inbox.  I went to the bottom of the emails to view the last one received and found that the sender wanted to know why I had not responded to their previous email sent earlier in the day.  The voicemail light on my phone was glowing with five messages (apparently from those that don’t use email).  A stack of mail and documents awaited me (from those that still use U.S.P.S. and paper).  To top it all off, I had forgotten that I promised my family I would be home early for dinner before my son’s early baseball game.  Thus, began the text messages from my wife!   I looked at my calendar for the next day to find myself booked all day with, you guessed it, meetings!

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I’m sure you struggle as I do with competing demands on your time.  Most of the emails, phone calls, and mail could be labeled “URGENT” (in fact, several emails have that word in the header!).  We even hire and value employees that have the “sense of urgency” competency.

There are some days when I am so caught up with the urgent I forget that work and life are supposed to have eternal significance.  All Christians share the same eternal calling—we are called by Christ to model The Great Commandment (Matthew 22: 38) and to advance The Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20).  This eternal calling should guide me daily at work, at home, and in my corps or place of worship.

How can I ensure that all my work, family, and church activities are grounded with His eternal purpose and calling?

Charles Hummel authored a brief essay and pamphlet entitled Tyranny of the Urgent  to remind Christians that Christ was the ultimate example of balancing the urgent with His eternal purpose.  Hummel writes that a good friend’s words were timely and haunted him, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”  In the essay, Hummel looks to Christ as the answer for our dilemma.   Christ was not exempt from urgent matters (not one of us could keep his demanding schedule!).  He encountered hundreds of people on a daily basis that wanted His attention, His Word, and His healing touch.  The Gospels records thousands that He taught and healed.  Yet, there were some who would be disappointed because not everyone would have a face-to-face encounter with Christ.  Not all would receive an immediate answer to their urgent need during his earthly ministry.   His ministry only lasted three brief years.  After the three years and the night before his death on the cross, Christ proclaimed “I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17: 4 NIV).    His entire walk consisted of fulfilling God’s will and purpose.  He was not consumed by the urgent; he was consumed by his Father’s eternal plan of salvation for the whole world.

What consumes you and me—the urgent or eternal matters?  Being consumed by the urgent will eventually lead to a purposeless life.  I won’t be able to ignore all the urgent demands of this earthly life.  I can, however, make sure the urgent doesn’t overshadow the important.   Here are six questions and practical suggestions to ensure our days are built on an eternal foundation (from Hummel and my own experience):

  • Do my days begin in His presence? Christ was an early riser and he communed with the Heavenly Father (Mark 1:35).   A wonderful retired officer, Major Dan Boyer, once told me that he begins his day with a simple prayer (paraphrased)—“Thank you God for yesterday, but I sure do need your help today.”  What a way to begin your day, asking for His help and presence.
  • When is the last time I’ve truly rested? If the urgent matters of the day make you tired and weary, take a day to rest physically and spiritually.  Christ gave us this invitation (Matthew 11:28-30).  Try a “no screen” day in your home once a week—free from your iPhone, computer and television.  Fill the time with Scripture, prayer and sharing His blessings.
  • Does my work today have eternal significance? Write out a “to do” list before you begin your work each day. Make sure there are at least one or two items that are mission-focused.  Ask God to use you for His good work and purpose (Philippians 2: 13).
  • Are there conflicts that cause me anxiety today that need to be released? Disagreements and strife should be viewed in light of eternity.  Will this tension and strife matter when we get to Heaven?  If not, then reconcile and let it go! (Ephesians  4:32)
  • Have I witnessed to someone about Christ this week? Pray for God to give you opportunities in your circle of influence to witness and advance the Kingdom of Heaven (Acts 1: 8 & Roman 10:13-14).
  • When all is said and done, and it’s my privilege to be in the physical presence of Jesus, will He say “well done, thou good and faithful servant?”  The Apostle Paul outlined a great eternal perspective regarding his time on earth— “…The time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:  5-6 NIV).

I can’t ignore the urgent matters of the day.  However, my days can and will be dedicated for His eternal purpose and glory.   Let each of us finish the work God called us to do!

 

Hummel, C.  (1967). Tyranny of the Urgent.  Downers Grove:  Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

Director’s Desk – March 2016

God’s Masterpiece

As one of the world’s premier art museums and home to such famed cultural icons as “Mona Lisa,” the Louvre in Paris ought to have nailed the answer to the simple question, “What is a masterpiece?”  But no. When the museum posed that query to a bunch of its curators a few years ago, they were stymied. It wasn’t that they had no answer, but that they had too many. Superlative craftsmanship, extraordinary design, great antiquity, rich materials, purity of form, artistic genius, originality, and influence on other artists. All those qualities, and more, bubbled into the discussion. “It became evident that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to articulate a definition of masterpiece that could be accepted universally.”[1]

Masterpiece has a broader audience than paintings.  Not a few of you are captive to the Masterpiece Theater broadcasts.  This company has aired excellent TV series since 1971.  Their motto is “commitment to bring the best in drama to American public television audiences.”[2]  Pixar has been hailed as producing a masterpiece in its recent release of Inside.  Others would consider the works of authors like Chaucer, Keating, or Shakespeare as masterpieces.

The quality of the workmanship, no matter the medium, produces a product that transcends normal standards such that the product takes on a life of its own.  The authors or artists are an afterthought.  For example, step into the timeless oil painting entitled The Return of the Prodigal Son.  You lose yourself in the story.  You become mesmerized by the color or the lack thereof as you visually contrast the robes of the figures.  Who are those characters in the darker corners of the painting?  Who is that figure with garments inconsistent with the era?  The story the painting conveys takes over and you no longer think about Rembrandt, the artist, or his techniques used in the painting.

The theme for this month is “God’s Masterpiece.”  Ironically, the beauty of the human being has had the same effect as The Return of the Prodigal Son.  There is the continual and unfolding human drama with the darker figures, the ragged figures, the self-righteous, noble figures, and the father who strains to see a loved one return home.  We find ourselves trying to locate our place in the masterpiece as did Rembrandt when he painted himself into the scene.  We are mesmerized by flashy colors, rich colors, and the depleted colors of life.  We, the figures in the unfolding drama, are God’s masterpieces:  His most excellent creation.

Were it not for Rembrandt, there would not be this standard for a  masterpiece of art.  Were it not for our Master Creator, there would be no possibility for us to be deemed a masterpiece. While it is true that Rembrandt’s painting(s) take on a life of their own, holding us spellbound, those paintings cannot reproduce themselves.  Humanity is given the opportunity to reproduce in a masterful way or in ‘masterpiece style’ the kind and quality of life that represents the original Creator.  Every day we are afforded the opportunity to both represent our Master and create qualities of beauty in our lives and for the lives of others.  The quality of Rembrandt’s painting may take your breath away but cannot give breath to anything else.  The quality of life we receive from Creator God gives breath to us and allows us to participate in the life of those outside us.

We are God’s Masterpiece Theater.  The drama connects heaven to earth:  His life, His values, His beauty in us and then through us.  “The artist speaks to that part of you which yearns for beauty and creativity. Your inner artist invites you to participate in the great work of healing the world by lifting out of your senses creative images, words, and actions that inspire others to live lives of wonder and surprise.”[3]

Surrender to the ways of the Eternal Artist and build a masterpiece out of each day:  superlative craftsmanship, extraordinary design, great antiquity, rich materials, purity of form, artistic genius, originality, and influence on other artists. This invitation is extended to all of those the Master has created to continue fashioning the world in which we live.  May our lives inspire wonder and surprise, beauty and joy, and be a signpost to our Master and Creator to whom our worship and praise rightful belongs.

[1] Mary Abbe Star Tribune, October 14, 2009

[2] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/about-masterpiece/

[3] Christine Valters Paintner. The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom (Kindle Locations 53-55). Kindle Edition

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