Phil Us Up!
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December 15, 2015, 2:55 PM

He is the reason.

     The center of the civilized world in the first century was Rome. During those days, the Romans mistakenly believed “their world” was the center of the universe. They began a mid-winter celebration called Saturnalia, which meant the return of the invincible sun. We call it the winter solstice, when the days begin to get longer. I think their celebration traditions will sound familiar. Wreaths, to praise the sun for its trip around the earth, trees were brought inside and decorated with small candles to represent the light given by the sun. Gifts were exchanged and the Romans made the mistake many have made, and continue to make, worshiping the created rather than the Creator.

     In the first century a few Christians tried desperately to move the focus from the sun, to the Son. They spent the festival telling their children and others about the arrival of the Invincible Son of God. They placed wreathes in their home, not to celebrate the suns trip around the earth, but to contemplate the promise the Son made to return to earth someday. When those first century Christians placed trees in their home, they used it to tell about the Son’s willingness to die on a tree for our sins, and the lights? Well He was and is the “Light of the World”. The greatest gift of the gift giving was the door it opened, the telling of the greatest Gift ever given. It was a great time to honor God’s Son, rather than the sun.

     By 325 A.D. something slowly had happened. In the Roman world, and soon, across the whole world, what was started by a few Christians had changed the holiday season. It was even made official, no longer a festival called Saturnalia, but one called Christmas. 

     In the 19th century a few Christians stood and opposed Christmas. The argument; no one knows the exact date of His birth. Now in the first century those Christians didn’t set the day on December 25th because they thought that was the day He was born. They understood the DATE DOESN"T MATTER. I for one am thankful for those first century believers and their thoughtful, tactful and very effective way of being light in their culture.

     It will be a sad day if in our lifetime; we unwittingly became instrumental in removing the focus on the birth of the Christ, giving the greatest holiday in our culture and world back to the pagans. Can you imagine a place where laws forbidding nativity scenes being placed in public places are enacted? Can you imagine a place where schools don’t allow our children to sing songs that tell of the birth of the Son? Can you imagine a place where the entire emphasis is placed on only the secular side of Christmas? It’s not a question of can I imagine it; I think I am seeing it. Sometimes we really don’t think about what we are doing. It is sad to me; what began as a movement to be right on something that doesn’t matter will undo everything a few Christians started some 1700 years ago, that really, really does matter, the birth of the Son.

     Tonight, when I plug in the lights on our tree, I will only think of the gift of the Son, He is the light of the world, and He died on the tree……for me.

“Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness, open my eyes let me see” Join me when I sing it on Sunday. Do you see….He is the reason for the season?

Merry Christmas.                                                                                                        Philip

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November 17, 2015, 2:14 PM

Do's and Don'ts

     It didn’t take long this past weekend for ISIS to declare and claim responsibility for the attack in Paris France. Some of you may have noticed, I have strong opinions on what we should do as Americans collectively with the rest of the world. I can honestly say I don’t really struggle with those ideas. I do struggle with what I should do as a Christian. How do we respond to these, seemingly unending events? 

     First, pray. Pray for the families, pray for Paris, pray for……this gets tougher, Muslims. 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.

     Second, love the hurting. I know none of us are in France today. I do know this, there are Christians there loving those who have lost so many. From right here in Haskell, I can love the French. Paul tells us in his letter to some Italians, “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 at least three things we should do, there are at least three 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. We all remember when those things happened to us. It’s even come to our home this week. Maikel’s dad is scheduled to be in France this week to work, just north of Paris. These are the emotions that try to lead my soul to some really 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 take it out on the refugees. We still need, I believe to figure out a way to help the helpless. The “Good News” first says we are a people of compassion. Let’s be just that.

     Third, don’t mistake the real enemy. I believe all people need Jesus, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and everyone else. Paul says, “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 our story is bigger than this because it’s written by the author of life. That story ends with great realized hope. God help us all.                                                                                     Philip


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October 1, 2015, 2:41 PM

Blood Moon

     There are many people, churches and traditions with specific ideas about how the world will end. Last week some of the leaders in one fellowship spent a bunch of time trying to calm folks worrying about the lunar eclipse Sunday night. Lots of folks were worried about calamity or the end of time as we know it.

     I have never attended or preached for a church that taught any more detail about end-times than the fact that Jesus will return, the dead will arise and all of humanity will be judged. One other detail is that no one knows when this will occur. Jesus himself says in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” 

     As I read the explanation of why so many were worried about the lunar eclipse this week their reasoning escaped me. Every time one of these theories comes to light I can’t seem to understand how or why they came to the conclusions they arrived with. I even wonder how important it all is. It seems to me what will happen at the end of the world, will happen. I am not sure my beliefs about it, in advance will help me much other than to be ready! I do that because of my love for Jesus and His love for me. My salvation and life with Jesus is not endangered by my ignorance of when the end will happen or what it will all look like. The first disciples seem to have little clue about these matters.

     Of course I could be wrong! I didn’t go to seminary school and I don’t have a divinity degree or anything like that. I admit I have not studied this topic as much as others have I’m sure. So I am left with putting my faith and trust with Jesus, who himself seems to have little concern about this.

     I have do have another observation. Contemporary end-time prophets don’t have a very good track record of accuracy concerning these things. Every single person who has ever interpreted current events in light of Biblical prophecy to make a specific prediction has been wrong. I guess it happened again Sunday night. I mean, here I am Monday, morning writing another Phil us Up!

     So, I for one was not too worried about last night. It was pretty though.

     When Jesus does speak about the end of time, He talks a lot about the people who are not ready. When He does comes again, I would rather Him surprise me, and interrupt me while I’m busy, feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, inviting strangers in, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting those in prison.

     A friend of mine frequently reminds me, I need to be more worried about the end of Philip, than the end of the world. I think he’s right. The next super blood moon and lunar eclipse will happen again in 2033. Have a great week! Maybe I will be here to watch again.


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August 31, 2015, 4:31 PM

Our Pilot

     I walked by it hundreds of times from 1997 to 2007. It’s titled Christ, our Pilot. Last month I walked by it again, and paused to look closely at the picture hanging in the hallway at the Kodiak Church of Christ. For many years I didn’t know it was produced by a rather famous and successful Christian artist. It’s not a valuable piece of art by any stretch. It is not even Warner Sallman’s most famous work. That goes to a work titled, Head of Christ. At least 500 million copies of it have been produced, and the original has been valued at more than 3 million dollars. I’m sure the copy I looked at was worth at least 2 bucks.

     Christ, our Pilot is a good fit for Spruce Cape Road in Kodiak. It depicts a young man steering his vessel through stormy waters. The sky is threating and dark, streaks of lightning flash across the background. Jesus is right there, behind the young captain, one hand on his shoulder. His other hand, pointing confidently forward.

     I asked one of my closed brothers there if he knew when it was put there on the wall, Frenchie said he didn’t know. We do know Warner Sallman produced the original sometime between 1942 and 1950.

     I stood there for several minutes, just looking. It occurred to me, how many times have we experienced Jesus pointing the way. I also noticed Jesus wasn't taking over the wheel, but is simply there with us, pointing the way. Maybe Sallman is telling me, Jesus has the power to take the helm, but he doesn’t. has the power to force me to go a certain way, but dosen't. He simply shows me where He wants me to go, and just as important is right there by my side, giving comfort and confidence along the way.

     I gave thanks right there in that hallway for His direction and His presence. I also understand He never forces me to go a certain way, but asks me to allow Him, to show me the way. I keep telling myself, Philip he is right there with you, just listen to Him, and trust.


09-05-2015 at 3:21 PM
Bobby Sims
Kodiak has so much relationship with the sea that this article really hits home.
09-05-2015 at 3:20 PM
Bobby Sims
Very nice article. Well written with a heart felt message! Thanks, son.
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August 25, 2015, 1:25 PM

Back to School!

    It is a familiar feeling of excitement! We are back in school, either as teachers, coaches or students! 

     Summer break is done; I just wish the summer weather was too! I keep telling Maikel, (our new family member from Amsterdam) soon the heat will be over.

     I come from a family of teachers; my oldest brother, twin sister, dad, mom, mother-in-law and my wife are or were all teachers. Now my son, Paul is one. I suppose this is one reason I have respect for teachers. I remember a time when that was not true!

     Teachers were good topics to discuss and laugh about with friends. They were something to be avoided when I was breaking the rules! They were objects of resentment when they gave me too much homework! I remember many of the unkind comments many of us gave our teachers.

     After growing up, and getting to know so many teachers, I think I understand them better than I used to. I no longer think of them as dictators and tyrants. Admittedly, to some teaching is only a job, but to most it’s a job in which they can help students in the best way they know how. Teachers are some of the most dedicated people I know. I’m sure many times they don’t feel like grading papers any more than I felt like writing them, but they do it, even if I didn’t appreciate it.

     I love to tell the story of running into one of my high school teachers not long after I moved to Haskell! I saw her waiting at the gate out at the Rolling Plains Detention Unit. I knew she looked familiar, but who. I hate that feeling of knowing someone but not knowing who they are. As I got closer, she recognized me first, and then I knew, Ruth Lambert Jackson, my old high school art teacher. No she wasn’t an inmate waiting to be released, although I like to tell the story of running into a high school teacher of mine out at the prison. She is still teaching, and I know it’s the most important thing she has ever taught. Teachers deserve more praise than is given to them. Thank you Mrs. Lambert for all that you taught me, and are still teaching.

1Thessolonians  5:13

            Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work     

     I give thanks to God for all the teachers I have had in my life. Where would I be without them? I don’t even want to think about that!


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