Phil Us Up!
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August 31, 2016, 3:38 PM

Go...Go...Go



     All summer I have been more diligent in my exercise. I try to ride my bike, after daylight, at least 5 times a week. If you are out early you just might see me. I know that’s why I have enjoyed the cooler weather during these last dog-days of August. I try to change up my route every so often, to keep from getting in a rut. Currently I am riding out west of town on 380. One day last week I was headed back to town and heard all kinds of hollering, Go Philip, Go Philip. I looked up and it was Ryan and Kenley Cox on their way to school, with the window down cheering me on! Let me say by that time in my ride I really needed the encouragement! As I turned north to head home, I thought about how we all depend on encouragement.

     The writer of Hebrews tells us to urge each other on in our faith walk. It comes with the idea of exhorting each other on our path of faith. I love the picture the author paints in chapter 12:1.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

     Well, just who are these “witnesses” and how do they surround us? In chapter 11 we are told that the Old Testament believers were looking forward to the coming Messiah. At the end of chapter 11 he says those believers had faith in God to guide and direct them, but God had something better planned for us. Then he begins chapter 12 with a reference to these faithful men and women who paved the way. What the Old Testament believers looked forward to in faith—the Messiah—we look back to, seeing the fulfillment of all the prophecies about His first coming.

     We are surrounded by the saints of the past in a unique way. It’s not that the faithful who have gone before us are simply spectators to the race we run. It’s a picture for us to see, and it means we ought to act as if they are there, cheering us on to the same victory in the life of faith that they experienced! We are inspired by their cheers! Their past lives of faith encourage us to live that way, too. I love the way the author uses the word cloud. It tells me there are millions and millions of believers who have gone before us, each encouraging us to live a life of faith!

     Thanks Kenley and Ryan.

Now this week….GO GO GO.

Philip




August 16, 2016, 1:28 PM

Come On Down



     Have you ever started out doing something you thought was going to be easy and it just doesn’t turn out that way. It happens to me a lot, I think because I don’t fully understand it even a little bit until I am into it up to my elbows! In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi he gives them a simply stated directive, “Have the same mind set and attitude Jesus has.”  He then quotes what most scholars believe is one of the first Christian hymns. It was not sung like the hymns we sing, it was probably read or chanted like a psalm. Paul uses it as a teaching tool a concise way of sharing who Jesus Christ is and what the gospel is all about.

     Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. So God raised him to the highest place. God made his name greater than every other name so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus— everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and bring glory to God the Father.

     Jesus He held as high a place as one can hold. And He let go of it. Not only to become a human, but a slave. He didn’t come to earth with the status of a king or emperor. When I think about that, having the mind of Christ becomes much more difficult for me to do. In a world where so many are fighting to move up the ladder we might bring glory to God for moving down the ladder for the sake of someone else. Come on down! I hope I’ll see you on the way down the ladder!       Philip

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July 7, 2016, 9:25 AM

Running or Walking?



     If you are going to be successful at anything, we all know there is going to be some risk. That's why those of us who need to lose weight are told, “Consult a physician before starting an exercise program”.  That’s why most of us encourage our children or friends to seek some counseling before making a life changing decision such as a commitment to marry. It doesn’t matter what it is, investing in the stock market, starting a business, leaving one job for another one – everything we do has some element of risk! I knowI don’t want to live in a world where everyday outcomes were guaranteed. We have to understand the concept of risk and reward…..but, some people confuse a simple, healthy sense of challenge with the foolish tendency to tempt fate, I mean I don’t need to just do things to see what happens!

     In the next couple of weeks you will hear or see a good example of some folks that I think get those two things mixed up. The running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain will take place over the next few days. It is run daily at 8 am from July 7th through the 14th.  This spectacle has been held for hundreds of years and is broadcast on live TV in Spain. People from all over the world will “run with the bulls”.

     In one person's opinion, running through narrow streets to escape the charge of a half-dozen remarkably powerful and extremely unhappy bulls crosses the line of taking risks or seeking adventure. It's something very different from courage or bravery. I think it’s better called, flirting with disaster.

     If there is risk in exercising to lose weight to improve cardiac function, then smoking, overeating or drinking to excess is flirting with disaster. If danger lurks in the uncertain twists and turns of life in so many things we often try to mitigate the risk, to do things like this, I believe is to invite heartache. If sacrifice or even persecution is involved in the life-pilgrimage that is faith, as is promised by Jesus, you can imagine the risk for those who navigate this life without Him.

     So here is some advice I need. Don't live to your fears. Yes, there is always the possibility things won't work out. There are dangers ranging from potholes, (especially in Haskell) to cliffs on every highway of life. But the alternative to fear is not false courage at the bottom of a bottle or arrogance in making decisions. It is bold resolve rooted in humble faith.

     In your own life calculations, it might help to ask if the option you see is taking a risk or flirting with disaster, walking by faith or running with bulls. One is legitimate and holy; the other stands to leave you gored and bleeding.

 




May 10, 2016, 2:52 PM

Priceless



     I know before the week is out I will see again the estimated value of a mom, if she were paid what it would cost to have someone else do everything our mom’s do or have done. I admit I always feel a little bit uncomfortable with the amount arrived at. I even wondered if the amount is inflated, or deflated depending on your perspective. The latest estimate I remember was about 75 thousand dollars to “replace” everything our moms do. In a survey from insure.com, men were not nearly as generous, only 28% thought a mom’s dollar value was at that level, and 22% thought it should be about 25 thousand. It’s a game people play every year around Mother’s day.

     God’s word is full of statements concerning the value of a mother. The classic reading on the value of a mother is Proverbs 31. “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” King Lemuel must have had a great mom.

     I have frequently used that text on Mother’s day, and it’s a good one. As I reflect on my mother, and grandmothers, I think about the valuables King Lemuel talks about. As valuable as those things are, I think there are more important things a mom and a dad for that matter, give to their children.

     There are many things we inherit from our parents, some good and well, some I’m still not sure about. Last week my brother Danny was in town for a short time. Someone commented about our physical characteristics that were very similar. I told him, “Well it runs in our family.” God’s word says a lot about what runs in our families. Deuteronomy 4:9 admonishes us to not forget what we have seen and heard as long as we live, and to teach them to our children and grandchildren.  That’s what I hope you remember on Mother’s day.

     Thanks Mom and Dad for sharing your faith with me, and my brothers and sister. It reminds me of what Paul said to Tim about his mother and grandmother. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. ... But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God–breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”Now that’s priceless! Tell your mom you love her today!

 

Philip

 




April 21, 2016, 8:52 AM

Turn That Thing Around!



     Do you know who Robert Cornelius was? I sure didn’t. He was born in Pennsylvania to immigrants from Amsterdam in 1809, and became interested in photography. At the age of 30 he took a self-portrait outside of his family’s store. It is the oldest known self-portrait known to exist in America, the first “selfie”!

     The older I get the more I understand this truth: there is not much new that comes around. But, we do find new ways to express the same truths that have been around a long time. Many of us, at this very moment have a camera, even a video camera within reach of, if not in our hands right now!

     It is estimated that over 1.4 billion are taken every day, with at least 680 million of those posted on social media, literally hundreds of thousand per second! More than a million of those taken every day in America are what we call selfies.

     I really wish we spent more time pointing our phones and cameras in another direction. I don’t think we are anymore self-absorbed than many of those before us, but we may be better at demonstrating it! Here’s a question for us; does the world really need to see more of me, or more of Him?

     The perfect Son of God, gave Himself on behalf of others, He refused to hold on to being God, he humbled himself to become one of us, so that we might become like Him. He was never interested in “selfies”, but always becoming more selfless.

     I was blessed to grow up in a loving family full of people who loved me. We all need to learn, and it usually is a tough lesson, life rarely revolves around us. No matter how good I am, how important I have become what I have accomplished, or how good I look on my phone, I need to see Jesus, and not the other way around. Maybe we simply need more than ever to understand it’s not about self, it’s about Him.

    John would write long after Jesus had ascended to heaven these instructions for us. The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:6

     I pray we could point our camera in a different direction this week! Maybe someone will see Him.

Philip

     


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