Phil Us Up!
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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




April 2, 2013, 1:18 PM

Do What?



 

   Reading God’s word is easy, understanding  is, well is another thing. When my son Paul was a freshman in college one of his Bible teachers required each member of class to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. If my math is correct, its 2360 words in the NIV. Now that would be hard for me to do, but memorizing is sometimes easier than understanding.

   At the end of Matthew 5 Jesus teaches some of those easy to memorize words, but hard to understand and even harder to do. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Do what? Well I do pray for them, I ask God to do whatever is needed to bring my enemies around to my way of thinking! In fact I really don’t find that too hard to do! Maybe I’m not praying the right prayer, (that’s another article), but then He says, “Love your enemies.” Do what? What do you think He means by that? Jesus says it’s easy to love those who are like us, and love us! He uses the example of God the Father blessing all people even evil people, with sunshine and rain. Then it gets hard, “follow God’s example.” It’s hard to treat people we just  know are enemies of God with respect and grace.  Jesus calls on us to not only to pray for them, but to pour blessings out just like God does with the sunshine and rain. The thought is for us to wish our enemies the very best!

   The Apostle Paul would write in Romans 12,

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I think Paul is helping us understand what Jesus really meant. When Jesus says “Love your enemies” He doesn’t mean tolerate them, or condemn them, He says pray for them and bless them! Why? Well maybe we will win a few over for the cause of Christ! That is exactly what God does for us in Christ Jesus! God overcomes OUR EVIL with the goodness of Jesus Christ!

   We will never overcome evil with condemnation and persecution. We will only overcome evil with good. Maybe we should do what Jesus says. Do what?

Philip              

  




March 19, 2013, 11:23 AM

Early March Goodness



 

   Have you filled out your bracket yet? It’s that time of year I pick my favorite team or player and the real rooting begins. This year for me it’s a little different, none of my teams made it to the tournament. So I will watch, but with not as much emotion as in years past. I still have my favorite moment and player for 2013. Someone you probably never heard of, Jonathan Montanez. He was a senior this year and played for the Franklin High Tigers in El Paso. It was not a year to remember, they went 15-14, but there was that unforgettable moment on Feb. 12th against their greatest rival, the El Paso Coronado Thunderbirds.

   The coach of the Thunderbirds, Peter Morales put his team’s manager, Mitchell Marcus into the game with about a minute to play. It was something he had planned to do from the start of the game. For the first time in Mitchell’s life that night Coach gave him a uniform and asked him to sit on the bench with the team. Mitchell is developmentally challenged but always wanted to play basketball. Because of Coach Morales, Mitchell would get his chance. Because of a rival player, Jonathan Montanez it was a moment no one there would ever forget.

   As the clock ran down Mitchell’s teammates kept passing him the ball wanting him to score a basket. Three times Mitchell missed badly. Finally with time running out and the Tigers with the ball on an inbounds pass, Jonathan would give Mitchell one more chance. He called out his name and passed the ball to the opposing player, Mitchell. He turned faced the basket and threw up an awkward shot. It went in and the buzzer sounded. What was the score? Coronado won by 15 points. Mitchell’s shot wasn’t a game changer but maybe Jonathan’s pass was a life changer. That night the team manager, who never played a game in his life was carried off by his team mates. His mom, Amy told CBS “I think I will cry about it the rest of my life. Jonathan will never know how much that moment meant to me and Mitchell”

   Jonathan would say later, “I was raised by my parents to treat others how I want to be treated. I just wanted to give him another chance.”

   Mitchell has his memory, his Mom has her tears of Joy, and we all have a real life lesson taught by a senior basketball player from El Paso. It’s a lesson on kindness, sportsmanship and on how to live out the golden rule.

Have a great week!                   Philip

 “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” Matthew 7:12 (msg)

   




February 26, 2013, 1:20 PM

Am I obligated?



 

 

   Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. -Romans 13:8-10 NLT

   I think it is easy to see some differences in the law of the Old Testament, and the law of the New Testament. Everyone I know is glad we do not live under the old law! I am thankful the apostle Paul shows us the BIG connection between the two. Sometimes what Israel failed to learn was not what the law was, but what God was trying to teach through the law. What God always wanted was for His people to love Him, and each other.

   The Ten Commandments clearly teach the idea of loving God and loving each other. As Paul indicates in Romans 13, no one steals from another if they love them. Neither do they murder them or commit adultery with that person's spouse. When someone gossips or bears false testimony, they show that they do not love the one that they malign. In the same way, a person shows they do not love God when they treasure earthly things more than they treasure their relationship with God.

   Love can do what no written law can ever do. Love compels us to do things that cannot be listed in written law. In the gospels, Jesus consistently contrasts divine love with Mosaic Law. When a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to him, he showed us the weakness of that law. Everyone walked away from stoning this woman, because none were free of sin. Maybe there is a principle here! Maybe we can only love when we first understand we are all sinners? We are all in the same boat! Remember, Jesus said, “If anyone of you is without sin….” He didn’t specify which ones! I see why no stones were thrown.

The answer is to learn to… Love like God does. Now, that’s the law of love, and my obligation. Have a great week!  I love you all!                 Philip




January 25, 2013, 10:19 AM

Thinking



 

I think that made me think! 

   I think one of the best ways you can tell if a sermon or a class is “any good” is to answer this question. Did it make me think? Too often the question we want answered is, “Do I agree with that?” I have appreciated our class on Sunday morning this quarter not because I agree with everything said but because every week I come out of class saying, “I need to think about that!” Thank you Justin for doing a great job Sunday mornings! If you are not in a class Sunday I would encourage you to make the effort to get to the Annex! You will be blessed and I promise it will make you think!

   We have been looking first in the Old Testament and now in the New Testament at the characters God used for His will and purposes. I have had to rethink some of my conclusions about some of the folks God was and is using to accomplish His will in this world. I think I have drawn some wrong conclusions about the people God uses. It’s easy to conclude God will use us but we really need to reach some level of goodness first if God is going to use us for His will. Now don’t get me wrong, I know God wants His children to be good people! But I have come to this conclusion; it is always about the Goodness of God and not the goodness of us.  Sometimes I have fallen into the trap of looking at other fallen people and say well I don’t look so bad compared to………….whoever! I call that comparative goodness. In Luke 15 Jesus makes a powerful point about comparative goodness. A wealthy man had two sons, one of which was rebellions and unhappy. He takes his inheritance and departs. It doesn’t take long; he loses everything and is far from home. Finally he comes to his senses in the pig pen and heads home. The father spends his evening looking down the road, searching for his lost son. When he sees him he runs to him and welcomes him home. Very quickly plans are made for a celebration. His older brother hears the commotion and becomes angry that a wonderful greeting was given to his worthless brother. He is so angry he will not come into the party. This parable has so many great lessons. We have often talked about the goodness of God shown here. What if we look through the eyes of the older brother? I think he was so impressed with his own goodness, he could not see the goodness of the Father. He used comparative goodness; he was good because his brother was bad.

   I am afraid I like to forget what Jesus says a litter later in Luke. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do should say, we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

  I can never be “good enough”, but God is always good enough, to use even me! Have a great week serving our Good God!     Philip


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