Phil Us Up!
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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.



March 23, 2016, 11:13 AM

Your Move

     Most of what happens in our lives on a daily basis is probably not “that” important. I think  I probably spend too much time on things that really are just not that important. When instead, I should consider those things that are, what we like to say,“salvation” issues.

   Four thousand years ago Job asked a “life or death” or salvation question. “If a man dies, will he live again?” Job 14:14 Now that’s an important question. It’s a question that God would answer some two thousand years after Job asked it!

   We have all seen death claim someone we love, someone we miss. If you haven’t yet, believe me you will. It’s no wonder God through the apostle Paul says death is the “last enemy to be destroyed.” And that’s why the answer to Job’s question is important. It changes the way I will die and the way I live! A faith that doesn’t help me when I’m dying probably doesn’t help much when I am living!

   When Jesus walked out of that tomb, the people of God walked out with Him! He arose He arose, hallelujah Christ arose! If a man dies, will he live again? Yes, yes, yes, that’s the answer, to the important question! But there is one more thing.

   I saw a billboard recently; it had a picture of Jesus on the cross. Under the picture were three words; “It’s your move”.

   Jesus died on the cross; now it’s our move. Jesus rose from the dead; now it’s our move. God answered Job’s question and ours that Sunday morning with an empty tomb. This Sunday morning we will declare that Jesus is alive! It’s my prayer we all hear the angels voice; He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Have a blessed week, and join me to declare, He is alive!  Hallelujah

March 1, 2016, 2:29 PM

Brother for Sale

     A lady decided to sell her sewing machine, and it was made by “Brother”, (I have a Brother printer at home). So, she decides to do something  reasonable. She placed a classified ad in her local newspaper under the heading, "Miscellaneous For Sale" and "Items under $50," she bought several lines in the want ad section.

     The advertisement didn't come out exactly as intended. Somewhere along the way from purchase, to copy editing, to printing, the words "sewing machine" got lost. So she wound up offering a "BROTHER" for sale! Now wouldn’t you know, she has two brothers, and insists she wouldn't part with either one of them. Now my sister, Patty has 4 brothers and I believe today she would opt to keep us all, but a few years ago…..well that’s another article for another time. 

            Anyway, the want ad in the paper must have raised some eyebrows. And, it got some responses. One person called her and was given the corrected information – that it was a sewing machine rather than a person on the sales block. "Thank you!" was the quick response, and the caller hung up. Another person called and wanted to know if the price was negotiable!

     Have you ever been misunderstood? Been guilty of poor communication? Had a key word dropped from or added to your message? Been judged harshly by someone who read a false motive into something you said or did?

     Sometimes misunderstandings can be simply cleared up with better information. At other times, the person who misjudged a situation catches on, feels foolish, and takes the initiative. Sometimes there is nothing to be done – except try to go on with your life, without bitterness.

     Jesus knows about being misunderstood. His home life, for example, was less than ideal because his own brothers made fun of the notion that his life had a “divine mission”.

     When he preached in Nazareth, his boyhood home, the people dismissed him as “a nobody.” "Isn't this the carpenter's son?" they asked.

     He must have felt terribly alone when people misread, misjudged and misunderstood him. The big one, the icing on the cake if you will, happened when he was betrayed by one of his friends and left to be judged by a Roman bureaucrat who was clueless to understand a kingdom "not of this world." In that swirling mess, he told his apostles: "You will all leave me; yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me" (John 16:32).

     When misunderstanding leaves you abandoned, God’s presence with you, is the secret to survival.

     Of the brother-for-sale episode, the paper ran a corrected ad. One of her brothers said, "it’s okay. I needed a good laugh."

     Boy I wish every misunderstood situation would have so happy an ending.

     Have a great week!


January 26, 2016, 12:00 AM

He lives!

     I have given the message and attended lots of funerals over the past twenty years. I have buried some friends, some family members, and some people I hardly knew.      

     One of the toughest was a four year old little boy who choked while eating.  I was called to the hospital first to help deal with the emergency, and then to help the family with their grief. I had never met them before. Overcome with grief, the mother and father needed someone to talk with them through the obvious shock and grief. I remember praying, asking God to help me say something that might help them. I told them they could see their little boy again. I believe that because He lives.

     I remember Ben, nearly 90 years on this earth—kind of rough, no really rough around the edges. Ben died with great faith. His younger brother, Baxter couldn’t make the long trip to Alaska from North Carolina for the funeral. Baxter and I spoke on the phone today; he remembered what I said many years ago. Baxter would see his brother again. Ben died telling me to tell him, don’t be sad, and put your trust in God.

     Buzz was an anchor for a whole generation. He died 18 years ago next month. I remember so clearly, it was the first time I stood beside a grave and truly wished it was me there and not him. I was barely able to speak at his service. I look back today and remembered what I told my family and all his friends that windy day on the South Plains. He will live again, and I believe that because He lives.

     I told all of these people their loved ones will live again. Every time I’ve said that is because of what God did when he called Jesus out of the tomb. We don’t have to wait until death to let the hope of resurrection make a difference in life. Too many Christians think the resurrection is only about life after death. Unless you’re planning checking out right now, make His resurrection all about life before we die. The resurrection of Jesus is certainly about eternity, but it must also transform the way we live our lives today! Nurture your relationships in a new way, because He lives. Face your health struggles, as devastating as they might be, with a new hope, because He lives. Put you financial woes in God's hands; make better decisions today and tomorrow, because He lives.

His resurrection is about life today, and forever! Jesus said; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Paul wrote in Romans 8; And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 

All because He Lives, have a great week!




01-27-2016 at 8:16 PM
Tom Hagan
Phil, how do I subscribe?
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January 19, 2016, 12:00 AM

I really need some help!

     It seems to happen to me at least occasionally. It did again yesterday. The question, “now where do you preach?” When I tell them, I can almost predict the answer. “Oh, ya’ll don’t believe in music” or some variation of our differences in worship.

     Now this is not an article on correct worship practices, but I do find it troubling when folks associate us with things other than Christ. I’d much rather someone ask, “Aren’t ya’ll the ones who feed the homeless? Care for the orphans? Run the prison ministry? Love their neighbor? Get along so well with those you disagree with?”

     We could discuss the worship practices of the church for hours, (and I have). But I have finally come to understand this, no matter what there will always be lots of folks who disagree with me on lots of things. The question for me, and I hope for everyone else, is how do I respond when faced with doctrinal matters that some classify as issues and issues that others deem doctrine? I’m really trying here!

     First, respond righteously. Responding in anger, (guilty here) or arrogance, (and here) often negates the cause of Christ. I must refuse to give into and respond with anger because I believe someone is wrong. Even if they are! Fighting with my brothers will extinguish any light that we both should have in this world. Remember, it takes two to fight.

     Second, build bridges. Instead of attacking, gossiping, or thinking poorly of my brother or sister, why not offer time to sit down with a cup of coffee and find out why we might see some things differently. Ask questions. Search the Scripture with an open heart and be willing to win a friend, especially if you can’t come to the same conclusion.

     Who am I to say that those who have come to different conclusions about some things, can’t be servants of the Master. That really is His call, not mine. We need to remember that just because it’s different, doesn’t always mean it’s wrong.

     Christ must be our example. When the disciples were aggravated about those working in the name of Jesus, but who weren’t part of their group, they took matters straight to the Man. You can almost see the twelve stomping their way to Jesus, ready to let him know what those other folks were up to. Those folks hadn’t been living with Jesus, walking where he walked, and watching what he did. They were outsiders, and here when Jesus could have prohibited or chastised them, he doesn’t. Instead, He offers grace and encouragement, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). I need that lesson.

     Our mission isn’t to defend the Gospel, but to simply proclaim it by our words and the way we love God, Christ, and others. The reaction we give to our brothers and neighbors has to be the first statement of that love.

     There are always going to be people we disagree with on issues and doctrine.  However, how we disagree is just as important as the things we disagree about. We can never allow anything to set aside the grace that we have received. We all need it because we are all wrong. When I don’t give it, I act like I don’t need it. If I don’t need it, Christ died for nothing.

 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Gal. 2:21


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