Phil Us Up!
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July 22, 2018, 5:27 PM

Play the game?

I hope and pray you have a great week! It’s going to be hot I am afraid.

I had fun last week in the home of one of the youngest members of our church family. I made the mistake of commenting on the state of her room, she had obviously been very busy! Her comment was instant and definite; blame her older brother, “It’s his fault.” It was funny, now I’m sure she had some help, but it reminded how early in our lives we learn to blame others. I often wonder how much I have had to and need to, un-learn.

When I was a child I always had someone else to blame, with my three brothers and a sister right there! I admit, sometimes it worked, and other times it failed miserably. I find it still difficult to simply admit, it’s my fault.

Ever since the beginning humans have had trouble with accepting responsibility; it seems to be hard wired in all of us. It didn’t take long for that particular trait to be displayed. When God asked Cain where his brother, Able was we are way too familiar with his reply. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” One of the reasons we do that is….. well sometimes it works and we can fool each other. I could even go back further, Adam tried to blame God, and Eve blamed the snake. Of course none of us will ever fool God. So I have to understand, if I can’t fool God, (and I can’t) what should I do?

I admit we all play at least a little bit the “blame game”. I suspect this has happened to us all; I have been blamed for lots of things, some I deserved and others I did not. Here is some truth; it’s not healthy to play the game. If they had just done something different, I tell myself, I would not be in the mess I’m in. Blame hurts. So whether guilty or not, we waste lots of time and energy trying to find someone else to carry IT for us.

Jesus offers us a better way to deal with blame. Even though He was blameless, He took upon Himself the sin of the world and carried it away (John 1:29). We often refer to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, but He was also the final scapegoat for everything that is wrong with the world (Lev. 16:10).

Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Christ’s offer and allow our sins to be washed away, we no longer carry the weight of our guilt. We can stop looking for someone to blame for what’s wrong with us, and we can stop accepting blame from others who are trying to do the same.

Do you know you can stop playing the game? Jesus takes care of that for his disciples. I just pray for God’s help to learn this; when I am at fault, confess it, and to stop looking for someone else to blame. Thank you Jesus.

I love you all, Philip

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April 25, 2018, 9:27 AM

Iron Sharpening

    Last Sunday afternoon Brian Hodnett and I went out for what I’ve been told is the first annual manly campout. With us was seven of our youth boys it was all for an overnight primitive camp out. The girls all went out that Sunday for some stuff they like to do in Abilene. I can report the boys had a great time, as did Brian and I, and much of the conversation was how the girls couldn’t be having as much fun as we were having! I heard a report that the girls were having the same conversation, just the other way around.

    There are some pictures on Facebook, and also posted on if you would like to see.

   As we sat around the campfire I was humbled as I listened to our young men talk about Gods word. We all shared some of our favorite stories in God’s world and talked about Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” What was humbling for this old preacher was this; I had to consider who was doing the sharpening! Listening to Eli, Luke, Colby, Cooper, Caden, Kason, and Hank, I got the feeling; these guys are really on the right track. I think I can speak for Brian, these young men are the kind of examples I need in my life. .

    I read an article this week about the importance of getting our young out in the wilderness; I think it applies to us all if we are able to get out there. We often talk about “child development” maybe we should include us all and call it Christian development. I do know this, getting out in the wilderness helps us as Christians develop in lots of ways including, socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally and physically.

    God blessed us with wonderful weather this week, and just activating our senses physically the cool air, the warmth of the fire, to hear meaningful stories from God’s word creates a sense of getting closer to God and each other. 

    Even the simple things like caring for the fire, making sure we left our camp as clean as we found it created a sense of stewardship for God’s creation. Watching these young men do things, some they didn’t have lots of experience with, gain confidence and independence was heartwarming. Iron Sharpening Iron.

    Strengthening and building relationships with peers and across generational lines, (old preacher and not so old coach) was Iron Sharpening Iron. Finally I hope there were some memories made I know there were with me.

    We also give thanks to Terry the opportunity to spend some time getting sharpened and I hope sharpening some young men we all love!

God bless you this week, and I love you all!


February 27, 2018, 11:09 AM


    I often say, “fall is my favorite time of year.” I think it’s because of the relief I feel with the end of hot weather. Spring is not my favorite in the sense of relief, but it is always filled with hope. The end of the long cold winter, the beginning of the renewal of life, always brings hope. I noticed green sprigs of grass in my yard this morning, and that’s after last week’s icy weather. A time of hope, life renewed. I’m ready.

    For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus...Romans 6:10-11.

     I know in this life I will never fully understand, but I exert my effort to live His Word. What does it mean when we are told to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God? The long winter is coming to an end, life renewed is on the way.

     For the moment I simply want to point out that sin (ours or someone else’s) does not rule our mood, our day, our course, our life! The resurrection power of Jesus does. When we see someone really discouraged, what do we say?  They really seem "down" today. Think about that just for a minute. Down is the opposite of "up"....and death the opposite of life,. If we live in the "up-ness" of Christ we are dwelling in the resurrection life.

     Does that mean those living in the resurrection that Paul talks about can’t find a reason to be discouraged? Of course not! However, our focus is on the "upside" of life; the resurrected Christ side of life. We become dead to sin. It's not that we don't sin but it has no effect on us. If we say we have no sin we are a liar and the truth isn't in us...I John 1:8. It's what we do with sin; and what God has done with our sins! We confess it, and allow God to dispose of it with the blood of the Lamb!  

     Focusing on sin (yours or mine) and refusing to "arise" from the trash heap keeps us “down” there. We are called to be alive....really alive. How alive is alive? It's measured by how sure we are of His resurrection and how that makes me alive to God. It's not about us. It's about us in His shoes and Him in our shoes. We have reason to hope; not by the gauge of how we are doing, but how He did. Winter is coming to an end

     I first heard this song in singing school and it helps me in me understand what Paul wrote in Romans 6.

Our God is a God who saves

Our God is a God who saves

Let God arise

Let God arise

Our God reigns now and forever

He reigns now and forever

His enemies will run for sure

The church will stand, she will endure

He holds the keys of life, our Lord

Death has no sting, no final word

     This week as we walk, think about what God has done, what God does, “Let God Arise” in us so that we will be alive to God in Christ Jesus!  Winter is nearly over, life returns. I love you all.


November 13, 2017, 2:54 PM

Keep Telling

   I can’t help but feel sick about Sutherland Springs TX. Yesterday, Ben Mereness, from Eastern European Ministries said something yesterday I believe; it will happen again.  I struggle with what I should do as a Christian, it’s one thing when it happens far away, but it’s getting too close to home now. How do we respond to these, seemingly unending events? 

     First, pray. Pray for the families, pray for Sutherland Springs 1st Baptist church, pray for……this gets tougher, evil doers. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Of all the things we do, this one is truly unique to Christians. I admit it’s not easy, but Jesus calls us to do just that. I said a prayer this morning for the evil doer’s family; I know they are devastated too.

     Second, love the hurting. I know none of us live in Sutherland Springs. I do know this, there are Christians there loving those who have lost so many loved ones. From right here in Haskell, I can love. Paul tells us in one of his letters, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”

     Third, we must love our enemies. Again, this is one of the things that make Christianity unique among the world’s religions. I admit it’s not my first natural reaction to events like these.  It IS what we are called to do anyway. Jesus says; "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ but I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” He didn’t say it was going to be easy; I just want to be a son of my Father in heaven.

     Those are a few things we should do, there are also a few things we should not do.

     First, don’t hate. That is exactly what my human nature wants to do. I think it’s natural to feel anger, especially toward an evil we have absolutely no control over. When I dwell on my anger, those emotions lead my soul to some dark, dark places. We can never hate and reach people at the same time. Pray for my heart to be protected from hate.

     Second, don’t be paralyzed by fear.

     We need, I believe to figure out how to help the helpless. The “Good News” first says we are a people of compassion, not fear, Let’s be filled with compassion, not fear.

    Third, don’t mistake the real enemy. I believe all people need Jesus, especially those driven by evil. Paul writes, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

     It is times like this that I need the fruit of the Holy Spirit more than ever. What happened is horrible, but the story we are part of is bigger, the story of the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That story ends with realized hope. Mourn for those hurting in ways I hope I never understand, pray for them, love our enemies, don’t hate, and remember who the enemy is. And maybe the most important, KEEP TELLING THE STORY. God help us all.


I love to tell the story of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love; I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true, It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do. I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.


01-02-2018 at 7:12 PM
Steve Gardner
Hi Phil, I would like to invite you to join the new “Church of Christ at Blogs and Bloggers” group on Facebook.

Its goal is a community to post, read, and discuss blog posts and other articles relevant to the Churches of Christ, conservative or progressive, .... All are welcome.

Of particular interest to bloggers is that bloggers in the group are asked to comment substantively on other bloggers’ posts so all can receive substantive feedback.

Here is a link to the group:

If the link does not work, search on Facebook for Church of Christ at Blogs and Bloggers.

I hope you will join!

Best regards,
Steve Gardner (blogger at
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October 3, 2017, 10:52 AM

Sin City

    It happened again, and it proves something we all know, we live in a fallen world. As of today, 59 dead, more than 520 injured. Horrible, tragic, abominable, I don’t know what adjectives would properly describe the events in Las Vegas. The immediate aftershock seems to always follow the same pattern. Before the shock of what has happened fades, people began to speak very loudly and with conviction of how can we stop this sort of thing. Well, I for one don’t have a clue. I do know evil is alive and well, and that has been a struggle for a long time. Almost as long as people have lived on this earth, evil has taken root and produced its bad fruit.  As much as it hurts those who have lost loved ones, I believe it breaks God’s heart. His heart was so broken; He sacrificed His own Son to fix the mess we made. And what a mess it is. I sometimes feel like the father who told his family, “Just give me a minute to be angry.”

    I don’t know about you but I am tired of it all. The Psalmist would write; “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” The ONLY answer comes from God. It is only God who can bring peace and lasting comfort for those who are hurting and have reached the point of hopelessness. Times like this we as believers need to ask for help to be the heralds of the only way out of the mess we are in. I was reminded of this prayer, attributed to St. Francis, but likely came many years after his death.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!

That where there is hatred, I may bring love.

That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.

That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.

That where there is error, I may bring truth.

That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.

That where there is despair, I may bring hope.

That where there are shadows, I may bring light.

That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.

To understand, than to be understood.

To love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life

    I know I don’t have the answers, but I know the One who does. I ask you to join me in prayer, that we might be His instruments of healing. I love you all


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