Phil Us Up!
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July 1, 2014, 12:00 AM

Makes me want to light a sparkler!


     On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. So each year on July 4th, we celebrate this historic event. Thomas Jefferson penned the document sometime in June, 1776. The Declaration of Independence is our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty, and I believe rightly so. It came as a result of oppression under the strong arm of the King of England. One thing we humans don’t do well with is oppression. I wonder, if we as modern day Americans fail to understand freedom, because we have never lived without it.

     This week we will spend some time thinking about freedom and independence. I hope you get to do just that. More importantly we need to understand a freedom so much more than the freedom July 4th celebrates. Paul would write a long time before July 4th 1776, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

     Only, when we realize our own sins, and struggles with them will we begin to understand the freedom we have. Paul tells us here in Romans 8, the Spirit has been given, to give us comfort and assurance of our salvation. We are free from the law of sin and death! We, bumbling along in our many failures, become aware of the power of grace to be forever free from all the effects of sin! Now that’s real freedom, freedom that will last forever.

     I love the USA, and I’m proud to be an American. We are so blessed to live in a place where freedom is cherished. This Friday I will celebrate our freedom.

    I will spend the rest of my life thanking God for sending first His son, and then His Spirit, so that I might have “real freedom”. That’s where our ultimate allegiance has to be. “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

     Kinda makes me want to light a sparkler! Have a great week!

Philip




June 3, 2014, 2:06 PM

HELP!


I admit I was so optimistic when the weather men a couple of weeks ago called for rain, maybe a big rain. I am also thankful for those in south and east who really did get a nice rain. For us, well not so much. I measured 1.2 inches at my house, which I am thankful for. But as for the drought, well it continues. This week we may reach a 100, again. Not much relief in sight.  What do we do? Well the first thing I do is find joy in what we did receive, and do have.

     I know it’s dry, I also know many of us are experiencing what might be considered a dry season in our lives. Death, sickness, troubled relationships; it seems to go on and on. I know, from my own experience its tough not to give in, many times I have said I don’t know if I can hold on.

     I sat down this morning to try to write something that would encourage everyone. I read a devotional from the greatest Christian writer of our modern era, C. S. Lewis. He wrote, “The prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please God best.” I thought about that, sickness, troubled relationships, death, and drought. I see it’s dry in a lot of places. I am reminded life is not always fun and games, there will be times when we go dry, in our relationships and in our world. I also know what we do when it is dry out there, reveals who we really are.

     I think I understand the writer in Psalm 42 more and more.  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

     My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.

     My hope is the writer of this song survived his dry season and found renewal. I think he did. Later in Psalm 121 we read; “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Now that’s pretty good help!  Hold on and have a great week.

Philip

  




May 6, 2014, 2:51 PM

Name change??


     I was told recently by a friend of mine that he laughed at the title of my weekly bulletin article and blog, “Phil Us Up”.  Of course it got me to thinking.  Jesus wonderfully said in His sermon on the mount, “Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty, they will be filled.”

   It seems to me that being thirsty and hungry is something most of us are not. I wonder if somewhere along the road we thought we were satisfied and simply pushed back from the table. A book I read a few years ago said that we all are given a craving from God, a hunger that will be satisfied by something. The only question is, what will we “Phil” ourselves up with? When we try to do it with possessions, power or success, well sooner or later we figure out this truth.  Those things will never fill us up! When we try to fill up on those things, we are answering our own call. I know because I have been guilty often of being full of myself, full of my ideas, full of what I want. When Jesus promises, “they shall be filled” it is those who are answering the clear call of our awesome God, not their own voice.

     Maybe the problem is most of us are not in want for much. Maybe the problem is not that we are full, but we are never empty. I think the idea is we need to fill up, so that God can pour us out. Only then will He fill us up again, if we are dining from the right menu.  It’s only after we are empty we will ever be hungry or thirsty.

     One of the reasons the Dead Sea is dead is because fresh water runs into the sea, to the tune of 6 ½ tons a day but has no outlet. (Catholic encyclopedia) The only way water leaves is by evaporation, the salts and minerals stay. Always filling up, never emptying.

     Maybe that’s the reason behind the spiritual discipline of fasting. To remind us what it means to be hungry, to thirst for a righteousness that only comes from God and His Son. Maybe if I spent less time at the table eating, and more time emptying myself…….who knows how God would fill me up!

Have a great……hungry and thirsty week!

Philip

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March 25, 2014, 11:29 AM

Rain or Reign?


 

     I am reminded almost daily to pray for rain; we all know we are in the middle of a drought. I just hope we are way past the middle.  I mean we need rain, not just a shower; we need a RAIN, the kind that not only fills up the creeks and tanks, but also washes them out.

     We all understand we are at the mercy of God when it comes to rain, He sends it or He withholds it. It’s been that way for a long time. There is a kind of rain that I do have control of.

     Jesus tells us in Luke 17:21, “... the kingdom of God is within you.”  Jesus is answering a question, “When is the Kingdom coming? His answer is that you won’t see signs or look and see it.  It’s in our hearts that God reigns — our hearts. The question for me, and those of us praying for rain, is when we look into our hearts do we see God reigning there? As much as I want to see it raining out there, it is so much more important that I see it reigning in here!

     John the Baptist marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with these words. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Repentance is the first key in accepting God’s reign here on earth. That’s the kind of reign, I have control of. That kind of reign comes only to those willing to receive. Jesus says rain is sent to those who are just and are unjust, (Matthew 5:45). It really doesn’t really matter if you are willing or not, when the rain comes, it falls on everyone, willing or not.

     When we are ready and willing to receive reign, things grow in us. Paul describes them as fruit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That is the nature of reign.

     We are in two kind’s drought, one we have to wait on God to take care, the other we simply have to receive the reign. The one thing I am sure of is this, as much as we want to receive rain, God wants us to receive reign, His. Then the drought will really be over!

 

Have a great week.

Philip

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March 18, 2014, 11:31 AM

Bracketology


     Well it’s that time of year again, March Madness. I admit it is fun for those of us who love basketball, two weeks ago the high school state tournament and this week the NCAA tournament. The odds, and they are not good, in fact I heard a number I have never heard of, quintillion, that’s 1 million times 1 trillion!  Now that gives new meaning to the phrase, “may the odds be ever in your favor”. Even though the odds are like that I am still filling out my bracket.

     Sometimes I feel like the odds are never in my favor, that’s why I don’t buy lottery tickets or play other games of chance. Often we are reminded by the world, there are no sure things.

     There are some things I need to be reminded of that are in my favor. I am sure about this church, my family, and I am positively confident in my Father, and His Son in heaven. One of the ways Satan attacks our faith is he wants us to be reminded there is a contest going on and the odds are not always in our favor. That’s a lie, and every lie has a purpose. Satan’s purpose is to chip away our faith in God, so we will place it somewhere else. When it feels like I won’t win, I have to stop trusting my feelings and start trusting my God. After all, God tells us who is going to win the fight, the only question is do we trust His word? Take your eyes off your feelings and failures and put them on Christ, His word, and His sacrifice. Trust Him and Him alone.... not what you feel, not at what you fail or succeed at. He didn't save you because of your works or your "goodness."  He did not save you because of what is or is not in you. He saved you because of what is in Him: love and truth.

     Jesus says in John 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

   Jesus says if we hear His word, trust him, the odds are not just in my favor, we have already won! Now I like those numbers! Have a great week.            Philip

If any of you would like to help me fill out my bracket……….


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