Phil Us Up!
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December 4, 2012, 1:44 PM

Better than Santa


   I read this definition of the gospel the other day, “God created us, loves us, and will not – in spite of our sinfulness – leave us to the horrible fate we deserve”. So God comes after us, sends His own Son from heaven to pay the debt we owe. He invites us to His grace only because He loves us. That is the simple truth of the gospel.

   I remember growing up and not celebrating Christmas as the birthday of Jesus. (We do know, December 25th very likely is not Jesus birthday.)  I also remember growing up having lots of discussion about the truth of Santa. Once in a while you hear of someone getting in trouble because they say there is no Santa! Here is what I know now, the gospel story is TRUE, and the Christmas story must be told. It seems to me the greater problem are Christians who have no problem with sharing Santa, but have some problem in telling the TRUE story of a baby being born of a virgin. The story of how God’s love came to earth as a baby and the start of realizing the promise to reconcile sinful man to Him.  

  We were blessed with a beautiful white Christmas a few years ago. For me the picture of a white Christmas is more than a blanket of white snow. It’s the picture of a human heart, washed as white as snow by the blood of a baby born of a virgin in a manger long ago. It’s an open invitation to come to Christ and be washed clean. It’s an invitation for a life filled with a new Hope and new Life. You see Christmas is about gifts, but not from a man dressed in red and white, but from a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

            “And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

   It is my prayer we embrace the true Christmas spirit this season, giving the gifts of love, hope and forgiveness. And we give those gifts because they were given to us by that little baby who grew up strong enough to carry a cross.   I love you all.     Philip




November 28, 2012, 9:30 AM

Cutting loose dead weight


 

 

   There are times I really do miss the ocean and deep-sea fishing. I was telling some old fishing stories this morning because it was way too cold to go fishing! One thing I don’t miss is pulling the anchor.  I would start the engine then crawl out to the bow and hand pull in at least a 100 ft. of anchor line then about 20 ft. of chain. Even though I had started the motor, it was obvious the boat was not going anywhere until I had “pulled the anchor”. At least one time I had to cut the line because the anchor just wouldn’t come up.

  I am often reminded the Christian life is one of transformation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

  It seems to me that many of us don’t experience the “new creation” because we won’t, or think we can’t pull our anchors. We make the same mistakes over and over again because; well it’s what we know. For example, people who grow up with violence and abuse often become the violent and the abusers.

   We all need help sometimes to “pull our anchors”, move away from the past so we can move on to a new destination God has planned for us. I know it can be scary but we will never get anywhere as long as we are anchored here.  Be brave, cut loose from the dead weight and get ready to move where God will lead us! Paul says, “We are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory! Move and have a great week!  Philip




November 14, 2012, 11:18 AM

My only option


 

My only option

   Scripture tells us over and over we are all sinners, evil doers, people who have fallen far below God’s intention for us. Simple law-breaking isn’t the real point. We have broken God’s heart, but He still loves us and seeks to have relationship with us through Jesus.

   I read the heart breaking story of a murderer being sentenced last week. The wife and mother of the two victims asked the court to read her impact statement. Oh boy here it comes, and the murderer deserves what’s coming. Instead something else happened. She offered forgiveness, and asked the court not to sentence the un-repentant man to death. The judge so moved by her words spared the guilty one and sentenced him to life. Maybe you respect what she did; maybe you think she robbed justice. It really doesn’t matter but it did give me some perspective.

   All of us have been hurt or seen loved ones hurt by those who break the rules, violate laws and betray trust. Some would say it’s really hard or even impossible to forgive…….Really? Tell that to the woman who lost her husband and child. Or better yet tell God, whose son was murdered for mine and your evil doing.  Now don’t get me wrong, evil doing must never be minimized and consequences are real and often painful. Then I see what this wife and mother did, and I think of what God did after his Son was killed. I know it’s going to be hard to do but my only other option may be worse! If I hold on to the scorn, hatred or anger MY soul is in danger. My reluctance to forgive is rebuked by this wife, mother and by God. This week I pray for more strength to forgive instead of more chances to get even.

 

Luke 23:34

   "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Acts 7:60

   "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

 

Father this week, give me strength to forgive.

Philip

 

 




November 6, 2012, 1:42 PM

It's been decided, I hope!


 

It’s been decided, I hope.

   As I write this, its election day. By the time you read this, my hope is it has all been decided. Maybe it’s a sign of just getting older, but I find myself wishing the campaign season was a lot shorter. I just want the whole thing to be over. I have been amused over the past few weeks listening to both sides talk about this election. The future hangs with the outcome of this election. Prosperity on one side, doom and gloom on the other side. It all depends on who you are listening to and which candidate they support.

  As God’s people we will still be able to seek the Kingdom of God regardless of who “wins”. That’s what I will focus on as the results come in late tonight and probably on into tomorrow morning. I love our country, and I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America, and as much as we are blessed by living here, America does not have my ultimate loyalty. The USA is not the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God does not depend on the success or failure of America.

   I have lived long enough to hear this statement several times. “This is the most important election of our lifetime. Everything we hold sacred is at risk.” In as much as every election is important, tomorrow morning this I know will be true. God will still be sovereign over His universe, He will still rule over the hearts and lives of His people. As great as our country is, nothing can compare to the great things God has done for His people in His son.

   Paul wrote in the glory days of the Roman Empire, “We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior”.

   No matter what happens today, I know where my allegiance is, and I wait for my King’s return! God bless you all!   Philip

 

   “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.”  1st Peter 2:13-17




October 16, 2012, 11:51 AM

Bread for Eternal Life


 

Showing Jesus

   This Friday we have a chance to show compassion to some folks we don’t see every day. We will fill the boxes on Friday and then hand them out Saturday morning. I admit it is not one of my favorite ministry opportunities! It’s uncomfortable looking at all those in our community who for whatever reason don’t have the resources most of us enjoy. It calls me to get out of my comfort zone. Everyone who will come through that line Saturday morning represents a person who needs compassion, mercy, and grace, and more important each one is a soul in need of Christ.

    The most often recurring theme in Jesus’ ministry was the compassion He had on people. Whether it was a group that followed him like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36-38); a widow burying her son (Luke 7:13); thousands who followed listening to His teaching (Mark 6); or a leper who needed healing (Mark 1:41). Jesus had compassion. He met their physical needs.

   While Jesus our Savior met their physical needs, He never did it without recognizing and addressing the spiritual need of relationship with God through Him. What strikes me is He did both out of compassion. His goal for coming to earth was to provide an opportunity for people to have eternal relationship with God through Him. I wonder sometimes if we have lost that level of compassion for those around us. The question I have to answer is this, how do I view people—like Jesus did. That is my great challenge this week and every week. God help me to see people with the eyes of Jesus, so my heart will be moved to compassion!

John 6:51

            “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

I love you all!                                   Philip


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