Simple gestures make a difference when a friend is overwhelmed

We’ve all heard the reminders to give people who come across angry, grouchy or distant a break because we don’t know what they might be going through at the moment.

It’s true that life gets heavy sometimes, and when it does we can choose to carry the load alone or share with others who are willing to help.

We also can make someone else’s load lighter by simply being present, staying positive and offering a listening ear. 

But our attempt to help can actually pile on our friend’s load if we turn the conversation back to ourselves and exhaust his or her energy with too much venting about what is happening in our lives.

It’s a hard balance because it seems more and more people are overloaded and stressed. More and more people need rescuing, but the pool of rescuers seems limited.

Lonely journey

I wonder how many people are working through life’s difficulties, pressures and to-do lists in their heads without talking it out with someone else. 

It might be they don’t want to burden others; it might be they have a hard time trusting. And in many cases it is because of the confidentiality of the matters at hand. 

Either way carrying heavy loads and attempting to navigate difficult issues alone is more than a lonely journey. It also leads to mental, physical and emotional fatigue.

I sometimes wonder how those called to the counseling profession handle all they have to carry.

The same is true with pastors. Think about all the families in a congregation and the burden of concern and care the pastor has for each of them and what is happening in their lives.

More people than we realize are balancing a tremendous weight mentally and emotionally as they work through each day.   

Praying should always be our go-to response for those we know tasked with — and thus attempting to manage — major responsibilities.

Choosing to share a positive word of appreciation will go a long way in the midst of the heaviness, especially if they are receiving a large dose of complaints or negative feedback from others. 

And finding a way to help relieve some of the pressure your friend is under might just be the best gift he or she receives all year.

—Jennifer Davis Rash 

Welcoming Doug Sweeney as Beeson Divinity School’s new dean

Beeson Divinity School

Dr. Timothy George and Beeson Divinity School are one and the same for me. 

As an alumna of Beeson, I have had the highest respect for Dean George since first meeting him in 1996. 

Imagining Beeson without Dean George leading the school is difficult but I admire him for determining the right time to transition from the dean role to a research professor position.

Beeson’s interdenominational set up and strength of theological training developed by Dean George allows the school to maintain an elite position among divinity schools. 

Newly elected dean, Dr. Doug Sweeney, describes Beeson as “the best-conceived and cultivated divinity school in all of North America.”

Doug Sweeney

Dr. Doug Sweeney

In the coming days, you will hear much about Dr. Sweeney’s seasoned experience as an academic leader and his reputation among top evangelical scholars. 

You will discover he is indeed among those who are able to sit with theologians and thinkers like our own beloved Dean George and contribute at a high level. 

Dean George has known Dr. Sweeney for many years and holds him in high esteem as a friend, scholar and theological educator.

“He is a person of wisdom, humility and spiritual depth,” Dean George said. “His appointment is a cause of rejoicing for all who know and love Beeson Divinity School.”

Getting to know him

There’s no question Dean Sweeney will represent Beeson well among top evangelical scholars, but I also believe he will quickly win the hearts of Beeson and Samford faculty, staff and students as well as churchgoers across the state and nation.

Alabama Baptists will want to know more about his previous experience in Baptist life and what led him to migrate to an evangelical Lutheran denomination. The Alabama Baptist will be sharing more about that soon.

Along with Dean Sweeney’s scholarship and leadership qualities, he also brings a steady confidence and peace about himself and the role to which God has called him at this time. 

He understands the need for fundraising and the importance of relationships when leading an interdenominational Christian seminary that is one of 10 schools on a Baptist college campus in the South.

Dean Sweeney is a solid evangelical and theologically sound leader who is ready to tell the world why students interested in seminary should consider Beeson first.

Jennifer Davis Rash

What hanging out with a few thousand chickens can teach you

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A persistent push for immediate action, consistent determination and keeping the important responsibilities as top priorities — all of these are ways to describe urgency.

Maintaining and modeling a sense of urgency is important for us as believers because of our mandate to share Christ and make disciples.

It also helps those of us who want to stay sharp, be productive, streamline routines and live efficiently and effectively.

An intense focus seeking quality results regarding a crucial situation might be another way to explain it.

But no matter how you describe it, the hurry and haste associated with urgency does not equate to chaos and carelessness.

Calmly making progress vs. rushing around in a tizzy

I remember moments when I’ve rushed around in a tizzy, attempting to make up a few minutes of lost time only to create more problems for myself. Instead of gaining time, I actually lost time because I spilled water on my project or took the wrong exit off the interstate and got stuck in traffic or tripped and hurt myself — all from rushing rather than concentrating.

I learned this lesson the best when my dad was teaching me how to gather eggs in our family layer (chicken) house. I was 15 years old and a bit scared of both the hens and the roosters.

Dad taught me to move with a smooth, calm motion through the large housing facility filled with hundreds of individual hen houses, slipping my hand carefully but quickly into the nests to grab the eggs.

Maintaining a steady, focused pace and not over reacting to every peck or screech helped settle my feathered friends down.

It also meant fewer broken eggs and a successful contribution to the day’s overall results.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Implementing a few basic systems saves time, energy

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Cracking open a crisp new calendar with 12 months worth of life yet to discover is always one of my favorite moments of the new year.

Smartphones and digital calendaring options don’t provide the same satisfaction as pen in hand filling in schedules, appointments and plans.

While I do use a hybrid organizational system between the two worlds of digital and paper, it is still the hardcopy calendar and my endless lists that clear space in my mind to be able to think, dream and rest.

Decluttering

I’ve lost count of the number of years my goals going into a new year included simplifying life, creating more margin and decluttering at home and work.

But this year I’ve decided to surround myself with a team of friends and co-workers who have similar goals. We are working together to manage the chaos.

At the office and at home we are determining bite-size steps to declutter one drawer, one closet and one room at a time.

Streamlining routines

We also are streamlining systems in a way to avoid recreating daily, weekly and monthly routines multiple times. 

By slowing down one time to think through exactly what needs to be done on what schedule and then creating a checklist and/or routine with a timeline, there’s no more wasted energy.

Think of it like creating routine schedules and actions similar to brushing your teeth, getting ready for bed, etc. We do these things without thinking, without having to make new decisions.

One of the hardest areas to tame is always the pull and demands from others on our time. No matter how organized we may be, we can’t control every life moment.

We can continue working to create enough margin, however, so when those moments surprise us and we want to be available to help others or need to adapt to an unexpected situation we actually have room to adjust.

—Jennifer Davis Rash

Wisdom of an Innkeeper

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Artwork by Vicki Love (used with permission)

The First Christmas (another perspective)

The weary couple at the close of day
hoped this crowded Inn was their place to stay.
Compelled by the expectant couple’s plight,
the innkeeper found them a room that night.

He ushered them into his hectic hall
When he heard God’s voice so still and small,
“Don’t birth my son in the ruckus place
Of noise and drink and want disgrace.
Is this a place to begin a life
that will change the world of dark to light?”

So the keeper of the inn did say,
“There is no room for you to stay.”
He turned the worn out couple away.

Then stepping outside his lodging place,
He whispered to the groom in haste
“There is a place where you can stay —
out back in my livestock stable hay.
Though not as warm as sleeping here,
it is distant from this dwelling of leer.”

“This is no place to birth a king
whose life will make the angels sing
Of love and joy and grace to all —
Don’t start His life in this reckless mall.”

Stark words he spoke, were not his own.
Where had his compassion gone?
This kind innkeeper had been used
to protect God’s son by his refuse.

The groom in livid anger said,
“I’ll take my bride to this unkempt bed
to birth a child alone this day.
But you, dear sir, will be known for all days
as he who turned the King away.

In great dismay by what he heard
The innkeeper left without word.

That night a savior child was born
in the silence of a manger lorn
With sheep and mules and cattle there
to gaze upon the baby fair

The groom looked at his bride and child
in this quiet place of peace and mild.
He understood the inn keeper’s will.
That put them in a place so still
so they could hear the angels’ thrill
and see the star above the hill.

If they were in the noisy inn
the angels’ song could have never been
heard above the party crowd,
the star obscured by a smoky cloud.

Now they both knew the reason why
the innkeeper had passed them by
This tiny king in their arms this night
Will never be found in the noise and blight
And bustle of a world that reeks
of a self excess — where egos peak.

Instead He is found in a silent night
Where angels sing and stars are bright.

As you seek your Christmas this year
Look not in the hustle and bustle so near.
Consider the innkeeper’s faithful ear

To God’s whispered voice,
which always speaks,
but seldom shouts or competes
with all the glitter, glitz and haste.
Find this Christmas in a common place.

By Michael Alan Tate, Leadership & Life Journal (originally published in 2004, reprinted 2018, used with permission)

TAB News takes a look behind the picture-perfect family masks at Christmas

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TAB News co-hosts Jennifer Davis Rash (center) and Debbie Campbell (left) interview Tray Lovvorn from Undone Redone about dealing with the tough issues in relationships.

Tis the season for holiday movie-style family scenarios complete with snowy scenes, warm gingerbread baking in the oven and lots of smiles and laughter. But many families have learned to pretend and fake it through the family Christmas gatherings. The masks come out to hide the pain and broken parts of the relationships.
 
In the next TAB News, Tray Lovvorn of Undone Redone ministry explains how pain and frustration of this type can be magnified during the Christmas season because of all the expectations for picture perfect. He also shares tips for gaining the courage to tackle the issues head on, walk through what is necessary to repair the situation and discover there is peace on the other side.
The interview with Tray will be available on the upcoming TAB News podcast, which will be released Tuesday, Dec. 18, on iTunes, iHeartRadio, etc., and in the podcast section on www.thealabamabaptist.org.
—Jennifer Davis Rash
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Congratulations to new Alabama Baptist convention officers

Looking forward to partnering in ministry with the new Alabama Baptist State Convention officers, elected Nov. 14:

ABSC new officers 2018-19

 

President Tim Cox (center, being choked … ha!) — pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Chelsea.

First Vice President Buddy Champion (left) — pastor of First Baptist Church, Trussville.

Second Vice President Morgan Bailey (right) — pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, Bessemer.

Dedicated group of pastors for sure — and lots of fun as well.

A note of congrats also goes out to John Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City, who wrapped up his time as convention president Nov. 14. Prior to his final act as president, Thweatt shared with The Alabama Baptist some of what he learned during his time in the role.

Alabama Baptists have a lot of thriving, “incredible” ministries, and watching them at work was a good reminder to keep the Great Commission central and work together to accomplish it, he said.

—Jennifer Davis Rash