Phil Us Up!
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December 9, 2014, 11:00 AM

You better not cry!


I love the memories family holidays and growing up on the farm in Kentucky. We always cut our own Christmas tree, usually picked out long before December 1st, as I rode the 45 minutes it took the old school bus to get home every day from Lynn Grove Elementary. At church not much was said about Christmas, because, we didn’t know if the 25th was His birthday, but at home we did Christmas! Santa, lights the whole meal deal!

     I can’t help but wish we had talked more about the birth of Jesus and less about Santa at home and church.  We know Santa is a myth, but Jesus is not. I am afraid sometimes we treat them as if they are related. We all know the song, “you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.” It was fun, but we all know or will know, it’s not true, it’s a myth. The most important thing about Santa that bothers me is this, we tell our children about him, and it’s fictitious. The second is just about as important.

     “He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town.” We know that God is all seeing, but Santa? This is where sometimes our theology gets skewed. If I understand Santa correctly, he rewards those who’ve been nice and doesn’t reward those who’ve been naughty. Jesus never operates that way. And for me, that’s a good thing. It’s easy to believe that God might operate like Santa, rewarding those who have done good and punishing those who are naughty! The problem with that is we have all been NAUGHTY! That simple truth means we would all be in big trouble, if God operated like Santa.

     Jesus teaches if we do good things, to be seen by others, that’s our reward. Now don’t misunderstand, God wants us to do good things, not so we will be rewarded but that He will be praised! “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16). In fact God has a lot of good things prepared by Him for us to do! “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

     When I hear the song, “Santa Claus is coming to Town”, I’m going to think about the one who came to town over 2000 years ago. I praise God that His arrival means we will be rewarded, not because we aren’t naughty, but because He was  nice and perfect. If we come to Him in faith, allow Him to wash our sins away, we are adopted into God’s family and become heirs with Jesus to all the joys of heaven! See, it’s not a reward, but an inheritance! Now that’s a good reason you better not cry, you better not pout,‘ cause He came to town!                    Merry Christmas

 

Philip

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December 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

What are you shopping for?


It’s now happening in earnest.  The shopping season used to kick off the day after Thanksgiving, but now we just can’t wait!  It starts on Thursday afternoon! After watching all the football this weekend I wish someone would throw a flag for “encroachment”! The question now on everyone’s lips is “What do you want, or what are you getting for Christmas?  What I really need are some gift suggestions!

I read a neat quote this morning attributed to someone I never heard of, Oren Arnold. Here it is. “Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness, to an opponent, tolerance, to a friend, your heart, to a customer, service, to all, charity, to every child, a good example, and to yourself, respect.”

What a great idea! Those are not only great gifts, they are the things folks really need! The greatest gifts are things we really need, not the things we think we want. I believe it’s a pretty good way to describe the things God gives.

The first suggestion is to offer the gift of forgiveness to our enemies. I wonder if that is what Jesus had in mind when he told us to “love our enemies?” Paul would write to the Romans; God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were enemies, Christ died for us.

My suspicions are if I asked my enemies what they want for Christmas, forgiveness might not be on the top of the list, but it’s what I need to give, and what they need to receive.

When I look at Arnold’s list, forgiveness, tolerance, heart, service, charity, good example, and respect, I realize this; I not only need to commit to giving these, they are exactly what I need.

I don’t have to fight a crowd to purchase these things, I don’t even have to sit at my computer and search Amazon. The first thing I need to do is inventory the things God has given me through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness through His blood, tolerance because that’s what God does, Jesus’ example of service, it goes on and on. This might be the second greatest Christmas ever.

So what are you giving this year? It’s an important question. I do know I can’t out give my God, no matter how hard I try. I am just going to try to give what He has given and still offers.

Jesus said in Matthew; “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Now, let’s go shopping!  Have a great week!                                        

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November 25, 2014, 2:30 PM

I don't know


   It is my sincere wish and prayer you had some time this week with loved ones. I hope it included good food and good fun.

     I don’t know but sometimes I wonder if the “wheels are coming off” in our world today. I watched with a sick stomach what was happening late Tuesday night. Now, I don’t think we are through with Ebola, or ISIS, but those things are on the other side of the world from me! What I saw Tuesday was not too far from where I grew up! I just don’t know.

     I think some people were there to just stir up hatred and fear. The facts don’t matter to some; they decided on the outcome they wanted, not on the truth. I know the truth will only matter when it comes in the person of Jesus Christ. What I saw late Tuesday night simply tells me hate and fear are alive and well in the USA.

     I don’t know a lot but I do know there are choices all around us as we live our lives. I know there are also consequences to those choices. We choose how we look at the world around us and what filters we will look through. When we make choices, we also choose the consequences whether we like them or not.

     I don’t know a lot but I know when we live our lives holding on to fear and hate things will constantly be out of control. Most importantly we will not be able to hold on to something much more important. We will not be in control then either, but the consequence of holding on to the CROSS will be very different. It’s only when we take hold of the cross we will be able to hold on to the mercy and grace that comes along with it. I know I need a second thanksgiving helping of grace and mercy.

     I don’t know all the facts of what happened in Missouri back in August or last Tuesday. I do know those who are there need Jesus. They need the healing that only He can bring. How can we ask anyone to love and respect each other unless they come to know Jesus? He is the only one to teach us how to love. He is the only one to bring the peace that passes our understanding. He is the only one that can change us from the inside out. We won’t ever be perfect, but He will save us from ourselves and each other.

     Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

     I don’t know, but I know Who does.

Philip Sims




October 28, 2014, 9:20 AM

Party In Parking Lot


     I think this is the most difficult day of the year for those of us who generally really love holidays. I am always glad, not when it gets here but when it’s over. This Friday is Halloween, and this Wednesday night we have our annual “trunk or treat”. I like our party in the parking lot. Fun times, but I am always a little uneasy with the actual day, Halloween.

     I pretty sure we all have heard or read the pagan history of Halloween. I am aware of the issues that leave godly, sincere people on both sides of the discussion. Let me be clear: people on each side have valid points—points we need to consider—and each person has a responsibility to follow his or her convictions on this issue. But we all have an equal responsibility to ensure that our convictions align with biblical truth. And we have a responsibility to treat everyone—even those with whom we disagree—with respect and understanding.

     I do know this—we should never worship the devil on this or any day. Honoring him is the root of all idolatry. That must be avoided at all costs. Some have said that trick or treating or having some Halloween activity is doing just that. I don’t see it that way. I enjoy the dressing up! To see the creativity and imagination used I believe is to use gifts God gives. Who would think of dressing up as a black eyed pea? That takes imagination and creativity! If you don’t know what I am talking about you should have been here last Sunday night!

     I look forward to the positive interaction with every single one of our children that attend Wednesday evening classes. This week will be the only time all year all of us, get to speak and encounter each and every single one of them! On top of that, we get to elbow our way into the same action Bob Earls and Woody Turnbow get every week, giving each one of them something sweet and fun.

    It can also be a great teaching moment for our kids. One of the greatest skills we can teach them is to discern what is real and what is not. Now that’s a lesson we should try to teach each and every Halloween.  

   I understand those who don’t want to participate. I also understand those who will refuse to give Satan any claim on that day. I just don’t believe he has that kind of power. This week every day is made by God and for God. I will honor HIM!  Have a great week! If you can, join us in the parking lot this Wednesday! 

Philip 




October 6, 2014, 2:12 PM

Do over!


      I really do love this time of year. After a long hot summer, we don’t have to look for, we have cooler days! It’s my favorite time of the football season too. Everyone plays or very soon will play those games that really count! It doesn’t matter what your record is, everyone gets to start over. I have always enjoyed “do overs”. An opportunity to start over can be a real blessing.

     I often hear our God is a God of second chances. That is certainly true, but I believe we should think of our God as a God of “more chances”. That’s a good thing because I have messed up lots of times on my first and my second chance! One of the amazing characteristics of our God is his incredible patience with us. The Psalmist says it this way; but you, O Lord, are a compassionate and merciful God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. The prophet Micah says; Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

     There is something that comes along with another chance, at least as far as God is concerned. It’s not just for my benefit, it’s for others too. God calls us to clothe ourselves with the same character traits He has. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

     He constantly gives us another chance, and calls us to do the same. In fact Jesus sternly warns those who choose not to forgive will not be forgiven.

   I am reminded of one other thing I must understand. The forgiven are called to a life of repentance. A “do over” means I am committed to doing better. That is exactly what Jesus asks us to do with our “do overs”.

       Remember in John 8 when some respected men brought to him a woman caught in the act. She was really needing a BIG “do over”. After they said they knew what should happen, Jesus says "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." Did you see it? It’s right there! Right after the “do over” is the “do better”, he says leave your life of sin. DO BETTER!

   I am so thankful we serve a God that is generous with “do overs”! I hope I will understand the responsibility that always comes with them, DO BETTER! Have a great week! If you need some “do overs”, well, take ‘em and do better!

Philip


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