Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why Social Media?

I've seen many amazing things happen through the world of social media. I've seen amazing friendships created. I've seen people who have helped one another. I've seen people reach out to the hurting, the lonely and the marginalized. The blog post below from my friend John Beatty is another reason to be involved with social media. Click on the link below.

“Accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior

Video: My Christmas Day in Florida

Run for your lives. My gal pal Kristina gave me a Sony HD bloggie camera for Christmas. You know what that means? You'll be seeing truckloads of video clips on this blog from Mike "Spielberg" Ellis.

Christmas morning Kristina and I spent with my daughter Kiersten, my grandson's father Eric and my grandson Troy.

After our morning with Troy we stopped so that I could (guess what?) shoot some video of your ace travel reporter Mike "Discovery Channel" Ellis by the ocean in Flagler Beach, FL.

We saved the best for last Christmas day. Kristina and I along with many others served "the least of these" at the homeless shelter.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You're Not A Failure

I'm going to be honest with you. I've been battling with feelings of failure. My second marriage ended this year. My son moved to WA state with his mom. I battle feelings of failure when I try to figure out how to be a father to a son that lives nearly 3,000 miles away. Even though I constantly battle against the tapes in my head that call me a failure, God is always there whispering and at times yelling to me, "Mike, you're not a failure!"

My homeless friend Norm invited me to a memorial service for homeless men and women who have died while living on the streets. After the service, Norm introduced me to someone by saying, "I'd like you to meet my dear friend Mike Ellis." It was hard not to cry when I realized that Norm considers me his friend.

After the memorial service, I went to an AA meeting. At this meeting I admitted that I'm an alcoholic and that I shouldn't drink anymore(I've been sober since Sunday). At the end of the meeting I walked up to receive my "surrender" chip. The man who handed it to me said,"Mike, you will win this war. Here is my phone number. Call me if you need help during the battle."

After the AA meeting and memorial service, my blogging and social media friend Michael Perkins called me to simply say, "Mike, I'm heading to the church for a prayer gathering. What can I pray about for you?" I shared a couple of things with Michael and then we cried together on the phone. Then he said, "Whenever you need me I'm here for you."

After years of doing a less than a lackluster job of being a father to my daughter, I'm getting a second chance. On Christmas morning I'll be with my daughter and my grandson. I sent my daughter a text last week. I thanked her for giving me a second chance at being her father. She sent me a text back that said, "You're the only father I have. Thanks for wanting to take a second chance at being my father. I love you."

As I write this post I don't feel like a failure. Why? Over and over again through the people He has placed in my life God tells me a different story.

If you're feeling like a failure God has a different story He'd like to share with you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post: The Night Before Christmas

What can I say about the somewhat world famous KatDish that hasn't already been said by others? I describe her as "spicy", "salty" and "one of the women I would take into a bar fight". She makes me laugh with her "snort" and has touched my heart with her words. A couple of weeks ago I asked her to write a guest post on my blog. Eventually after some harassment and phone calls to some of her family, she sent me a post. I'm glad she did. Enjoy the guest post below from a talented blogger and one of my she-roes, KatDish.

Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the house

Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse

The shopping was done the bills had been paid

The guest list for tomorrow’s big feast had been made

The children were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of ipods danced in their heads

But just miles away in my city I’m told

Is a man in an alley, desperate and cold

A part of me thinks he deserves what he got

He begs for the money for liquor and pot

But then I remember a time in my life

Before I had title of mother and wife

When days of good times and “casual use”

Turned into the nightmare of substance abuse

My attitude changed, I relent with a sigh

There but for the grace of God am I

I say a quick prayer and ask for forgiveness

For thinking these people are none of my business

I’ve labeled them homeless cause that fits my druthers

But they’re daughters and sons and sisters and brothers

Each has a story how they ended up there

And maybe they’d tell if I lent them my ear

All of these thoughts began flooding my head

As I pulled myself out of my comfortable bed

With coffee and blankets and family in tow

I drove through the streets till we got to Skid Row

We’re only one family we can’t help them all

Compared to their problems our efforts seem small

But I was determined at the very least

To have one extra guest at our Christmas day feast

Question: Would you or I be willing to change our plans to serve and love the people that Mother Teresa described as "Jesus in disguise"?

"The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved, they are Jesus in disguise." -- Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Are We Serving His Target Audience?

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’-- Matthew 25:40

I worked in the world of radio promotions and marketing. If you wanted to stay at the top of the ratings heap you needed to know who your target audience was. For example, back in the old days, if you were an Adult Contemporary radio station your target audience was women 25-54. Every song you played, every contest and every event was designed to serve your target audience.

While Jesus walked this earth he had a target audience. Who were they? Thieves, murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, the sick, the crippled, the dying, the lame, the lonely, the hurting, the hopeless, the discouraged and those that had been kicked to the curb. Everything Jesus did was all about intentionally serving his target audience.

Are you and I serving, loving and reaching the target audience of Jesus?

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’-- Matthew 25:45

The photos above were taken today at an event designed to serve "the least of these" organized and inspired by my pastors and friends Ray and Susan Kelley from the Daytona Outreach Center. Thanks to my friend Christie Hyde for taking photos today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who Does He Give To? He Doesn't Find Fault?

"...God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault." from James 1:5

If I'm a Christ-follower I should do the same. Let me be a little more specific.

"Hello. My name is (Your name here). I'm a Christ-follower. I give freely to everyone. I never find fault with anyone."

Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Churches Truly Helping Hurting People

I have always been impressed with the work of Mark Horvath. He wrote a great article for the Huffington Post.

"..every single church, or temple, or bridge club, or bowling team can work together to support a rotating shelter. The Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team is a group of 90 churches that pool resources to help 60 homeless people get back on their feet. Some churches provide housing, some vans for transportation, some cool meals, and everyone wins. Like I said I visited twice. Both times the old church ladies in the back were having a blast. The smiles were endless. Although it was just a meal prepared and served, it was combined with a strategy to get people into housing and support services.

I urge you, no I beg you. If you're a faith based leader please look at what real effect you have on the community around you. If your tech or worship budget is higher then what you are putting back into the community you are off balance. And to be honest, the only churches that will see growth in the years to come are the ones that are truly helping the hurting people around them -- and not just their own members. Please start working with other organizations instead of being the Lone Ranger. And if the need is there, and I would bet that it is, please find a rotating shelter around you or start one.

Here is an interview with executive director, Rhonda Powell. We talk about the rotating shelter model and the current state of the economy. This is a very powerful interview with lots of information. Please watch and share."

See the complete article by clicking here.

For more information about Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team click here.

Follow Mark on Twitter by clicking here or at his blog by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The secret of being content

I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

From the blog of V.V. Denman

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Not Easy To Step Into Their World

It's easy to throw money at a problem. It's easy to donate used jackets to a ministry that gives away clothes to the less fortunate. It's easy to put a spoonful of potatoes and gravy on a plate before you hand it to a homeless person. It's not easy to step into their world.

The cold weather hit quickly in Daytona Beach, FL. For over 10 years, when it dips to 40 degrees or colder the good folks from First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL open their doors to the homeless. Homeless men and women are brought to the church, fed a delicious, homemade dinner and given a warm, safe place to sleep for the night.

I've been blessed to play a role in this ministry for the past several years. I've learned this while working with the homeless and those that have been kicked to the curb. It's easy to do the easiest thing. What do I mean? Donating money to a worthy cause that helps the less fortunate and not getting your hands dirty is easy. Putting a plate of food in front of a dirty, homeless man is easy. Stepping into their world is not easy. It's hard.

You know you've stepped into the world of the homeless when you find yourself sitting down with them, talking, asking them questions, looking into their eyes and truly listening to them. The photo below is an example. In this photo you'll see youth pastor Tony Sorrell. Where is he? He is wearing a green hoodie, sitting at the table, looking into their eyes, listening and talking to the homeless. Tony stepped into their world.

The other night one of my homeless friends walked up to me as I was getting ready to leave the shelter. I was hungry and wanted to go home. This is typically the time that God has different plans for me. He stood in front of me, looked me in the eyes and said, "Mike, my best friend died a couple of weeks ago. He died right next to me while we were sleeping at our campsite. It's really messed me up. Could you give me a hug?" I gave my friend a hug while he cried and didn't let him go until he stopped crying. When he stopped crying he wiped away the tears and said, "thank you." For just a few moments, I pray that I stepped into his world.

It's not easy stepping into the world of the homeless. Many times it extremely inconvenient. The next day, a few hours later or minutes later I'm always glad that I didn't take the easy way out.

"You live among the least of these:
The weary and the weak.
And it would be a tragedy
For me to turn away.
All my needs You have supplied,
When I was dead You gave me life.
How could I not give it away so freely?

-- Leeland, Follow You