Phil Us Up!
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June 17, 2013, 11:51 AM

A Way of Life


     Some things about a road trip I really enjoy. To see and experience new places, to think about how different life would be living there. There is a place in north western New Mexico I have found to be very curious. It is out in the middle of nowhere off of highway 550. There appears to be only one dusty way in and out across a cattle guard. It’s not on any of my maps, but now I have now driven by it 4 times. If you do some research, and you will have to dig a little bit, you’ll discover Dzilth-na-o-dith-hle. It has the appearance, from the highway, of a closed community. Here is a picture of it. It’s the home of a Navajo charter school and health center. Johnny Henderson, who manages one of the dormitories, says “The Navajo don’t have a religion; we have a way of life.”

     It is difficult to find a Native American word for religion. The Navajo have a difficult time recognizing the division in our culture between the spiritual and the physical. Their religion is not a system of beliefs, in the way we usually think of religion. We have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives, spiritual here, physical here, makes it neat and tidy.

     I’m convinced there is a deep spiritual hunger in this country today. I believe most are not looking for a system of beliefs, but a way of life, a way that connects the physical, to the spiritual. When the world looks at us, much of the time they hear us speaking against this or that, and don’t see much living for anything. There seems to be a disconnect between our religion, and our way of living. It wasn’t like that in the beginning.

     Christianity started out, not just as a system of beliefs; but also a way of life. Christianity wasn’t just what they believed in; it was how they lived, it was who they were. It was first called “The Way”. To help early Christians follow “The Way”, they engaged in several things. Things we still do today, and others we don’t. Why do we, and did they, do these things? They understood and I hope we understand it takes practice to become who we want to be. Do you want to be a better Christian, grow in faith, give life meaning, and live the way God wants you to live? You have to train and practice.

     I have believed for many years that what happens during the two hours or so we are together can’t be the focus of our walk with God. It’s very important, but in the sense that it prepares us for us to walk “The Way” the rest of the week! It is my prayer each and every week we leave this place; we leave ready to do the work God has called us to do.

Have a great week!     Philip

“If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.” John 13:17

(MSG)




May 15, 2013, 3:07 PM

Do you have what it takes.......nope.


     There are times I wonder…….lots of times. You might think that the preacher always feels confident and sure about what he has to say. I often wonder to myself, do I have what it takes? Then I am reminded by the Apostle Paul what Jesus told him; "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Many times we fall short of what God’s vision for us is because we conclude we don’t have what it takes. Or even worse, we find excuses lots of them. “I don’t have the financial resources, proper education, enough training, the right social standing or skills,” the list can go on and on. We are paralyzed by our own limitations and deficiencies.

     One of Satan’s most effective weapons against us is to fill our minds with what we don’t have, and all the ways we will surely fall short because we just don’t have what it takes! When I concentrate on what I don’t have its easy to forget God’s power in me is more than enough! God has a long history of using what little I may have, (and He even gave that to me) to accomplish His goals. When I hear……”Philip, you don’t have what it takes”, I’m going to agree, then realize, my greatest limitations is God’s greatest opportunity!

     When God asked Moses to lead His people out of Egypt he asked “What do you have” Moses answered “A staff”. What we would call a stick! When Jesus was going to feed thousands he asked the disciples, “What do you have?” A boy’s lunch was all they had. You see that kind of thing over and over again. THE QUESTION IS NOT, DO WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? Do we trust God to use our weakness so Christ power may rest on us! Our greatest weakness is God’s greatest strength!  Have a great week!     Philip

 




May 9, 2013, 2:25 PM

Mothers day like no other for some.


Mothers Day 2013

A day some Mothers will never forget.

    It is my sincere hope and prayer you have some time this week to think about and be thankful for your mother. I can’t imagine the sacrifices our mothers experienced for us. When we think about our mothers, it’s usually not the big or monumental things we think about, rather it’s the small acts of kindness, the constant caring we experienced that made such a big difference in our lives. Every day our lives were molded by the little things that made a difference. Things we would find out later were not so little. We should take note because every new day brings with it, the opportunity to extend kindness or help to someone God has put in our path. Making the most of opportunities, making a difference means: having the courage to act; willing to display the love of God that lives in us; and showing love and kindness toward our family and others. These kinds of things have always been used by God to make a difference and change lives. Sometimes something really big happens if we just hear and act.

   Yesterday, Charles Ramsey did something while eating a McDonald’s hamburger. You never know what God will use to make a difference. "I heard screaming, I'm eating my McDonald's, I come outside and I see this girl going nuts trying to get out. I go on the porch and she said, 'Help me get out, my name is Amanda Berry.' "I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms.” Those words led police to a house near downtown Cleveland where Amanda and two other women who vanished about ten years ago were found, elating family members and friends who had longed to see them again. Louwanna Miller, Amanda’s mother died in 2006 from pancreatitis and a broken heart. The other two mothers will celebrate a mother’s day like never before, just because Charles Ramsey went outside to see. At least four lives were changed forever and those who were lost were found.

    I am reminded of how we serve a God who specializes in finding the lost. Even with things that, may at the time seem small. Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing our God cannot do, through you!

    May God bless you this week with courage to do something, it might not seem like much, but God just might use it for something really big. Thanks Mom for all the “little” things you did and do. Happy Mother’s Day!

Philip




April 24, 2013, 2:33 PM

That Doesn't Hurt.........or Does It?


     I wonder how many times this week I have thought badly of, or worse belittled someone?   We have heard all our lives, “Sticks and stones will break our bones but words will never hurt me.” I’m pretty sure those words are not in God’s word. Jesus says words do break, not bones but hearts and relationships. The worst damage is done to the heart of the speaker.

    Jesus teaches us with these words; “You have heard it said ‘You shall not murder”. Now I really like easy to follow instructions! Today, I have a good chance of getting through without breaking that one! But then He says, “Don’t call anyone a bad name in anger.” Why, cause it hurts; it destroys relationships; it tears down people. If you don’t think it’s that important, listen again to Jesus. “Anyone who calls his brother a fool is in danger of Hell!” Why? It raises questions about what people are worth, it chops people down, it shows what you think of them. Jesus goes on to say how important all this is. It’s more important than my worship to God. Jesus says leave the temple, reconcile, then come back to worship. I wonder what the world would look like if people would lay down their anger and commit to reconciliation.

   Jesus says the way to prevent murder and violence, is to cut out the anger, which leads to such things. That’s a message all of us need. Congratulations on not killing anyone this week! How ya doing with your anger today? Let’s lay it down, who knows what might not happen.           Philip

 




April 16, 2013, 3:43 PM

Running for Their Lives!


    What an awful day, again. A few minutes before two on Monday, the lion roared, again. I don’t know why we are surprised; I mean it happens all the time, Sandy Hook, Dr. Gosnell’s house of horrors, and now the Boston Marathon bombings. I admit, I grew tired last night watching the explosions over and over again. I couldn’t help but think of 9/11. As I grew weary of the video, I tried to not look at the explosions, and instead focus on the people. Something was different this time. Right after the blast many ran, but there was something else…….there were lots and lots of people running TO the injured, instead of running to save their own lives! Maybe my memory fails me; I don’t remember seeing that during other times. “Today, rescuers were running toward the wounded on Boylston Street in acts of true heroism — running toward the sounds of the screams. In the end the terrorists will fail because Bostonians did not turn from their fellow man — they turned toward them. And that is the real music of mankind.” (Boston News).

   I saw and heard of runners in the race who just kept on running to the hospital to give blood to try to save the injured. It took some effort on my part I admit, but maybe I caught a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God might look like, in the face of the lion.

   I often hear this advice for those close to death; Run to the light. Yesterday, I saw the “light” run to the darkness. As Jesus' church, we are called to be that “light”, running to the darkness in our world to bring salvation. Maybe it’s time for us to stop running for our lives and start running for their lives.

  So, today I am thinking about, and thankful for the example of those yesterday, those who didn’t run for their lives, but ran so others might live. That’s what Jesus did for us. I think that’s what He wants us to do for them. Let’s start today; running for their lives, it’s not a sprint but a marathon. What will we do the next time the Lion roars?

 

Hebrews 12:1

            …let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

On your mark, get set, GO!     Have a great week.     Philip


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