Phil Us Up!
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April 3, 2015, 10:00 AM

Son Like Father....I hope.

     I had to go to Abilene Thursday morning and didn’t listen to much news before I left the house. I listened to the radio on my way and heard the news. I had never heard of Garissa University College, I have now. It’s a small teacher training school located in Garissa Kenya. The reporter said at least 147 are dead, with that number expected to rise. According to other reports, the attackers went through the dormitories asking the students if they were Christian or Muslim. They shot the Christians and let the Muslims go. The terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, has taken credit for this latest attack.  It just breaks your heart.

     As I listened to the radio people began to call in. Nearly everyone they put on the show was understandably angry, another example of senseless killings. Most of the calls were demanding some kind of retribution, some kind of pay-back. As I listened I really wanted to agree with the anger. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe the Kenya police have every right to track down those responsible for these murders. But I wonder how does God expect us to react?

     Jesus’ teaching on how we treat our enemies is clear and well, downright hard. “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” (Matthew 5:43).

How to you love people that do things like this? I don’t know, but He did.

     Paul would write some time after Jesus’ teaching, “while we were God's enemies, Christ died for us.” For me the problem is not that I don’t know how to treat my enemies, I just find it hard to do it. For me it begins with actions that I know are helpful and beneficial to them regardless of how my heart feels. I can do for them what I do for those I love, pray and provide. I hope that’s what Jesus meant when he told us to “lay up treasures in heaven” if I do that, maybe somewhere down the road hearts will be softened, and my heart will come along. I know that’s what I need. I’m pretty sure God sometimes doesn’t like what I do, but he never stops loving.  It’s where as a son, I need to be like my Father. 

March 4, 2015, 8:00 AM

Haskell Donuts


     Have you heard this story? A man found dieting success by taking a different path to work, to avoid his usual stop for donuts. One day he absent-mindedly took his old route. He was about to turn around, then thought, “Maybe this is a sign! Maybe God is rewarding me for my efforts and hard work.”

     So the man said a short prayer asking God for a sign: If this was His true intention, let there be a parking spot right in front. Sure enough, as he went around the block for the fifth time, one opened up! This describes me in at least two ways: I love donuts! And I struggle in surrendering my will, to His will!

    When Haskell donuts opened just around the corner from where I live, I knew trouble was looming. When the sign on the front of the building says they open at 5 in the morning, and I know then they will have hot donuts, big trouble was coming. When I am able to ride my bicycle in the mornings I get to ride right by there, oh and it smells so good.

     Since the shop opened a couple of years ago I have enjoyed fewer than a dozen donuts. But it’s been a struggle. Just as I feared, the sign and the smell have been very tough to disregard. I even buy a dozen every week for about 7 months of the year, to take to ladies class on Wednesday mornings.

     When it comes to donuts and life I’m too often like the man circling the parking lot, at heart looking to do my will, all the while insisting I’m waiting on a sign from God. The problem for me is I listen to all kind of voices. The problem for me is exactly what Jesus pointed out in the garden. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Sometimes I even go the way where I know, I will fall into temptation.

      When measuring my will against God’s, there is no better standard than Jesus. In the next verse Jesus says; He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." Someway somehow that needs to be my example of submission. “Not my will but Thine.” Do you struggle with this as much as I do? It looks like even Jesus was struggling with it for a short time.

     Maybe I should spend more time speaking to God in prayer, and less time running around in circles waiting for Him to speak to me. Jesus sat still, talked to God the Father, instead of running in circles. We read over and over Jesus saying, His was to do the Fathers will, not His own, even when His disciples offered Him, maybe a donut.

     They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?" "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:30-34

     Have you tried Haskell Donuts fritters? They are really good. Have a great week.


February 17, 2015, 9:00 AM

I love Jesus! Church...not so much.

 One of our all-time favorite songs is Jesus Loves Me This I Know. And man, do we know! We know by what He did for us, how he takes care of us and what scripture tells us; Jesus loves me this I know! There is never a doubt about that.

     I also know I love Jesus! I hope there is never a doubt about that too. A young member of our church family was quoted recently. “I really love God, I just don’t like church” I appreciate children so much, first of all they are honest, often much more than we adults are. Secondly they rarely varnish how they really feel. In this instance, boy I do understand. Allow me to also say I’m not too worried about my young friend; I’ve been there and done that. I also know the attention span is often exceeded for our young ones, and sadly our older ones. Sometimes we are BORING. I wonder if Jesus was the only 12 year old that ever lived who wanted more than anything to be in church.

     My guess is we rarely question God’s love for us, or our love for Him. But church, well that’s a different story! Sometimes it’s hard to “love church”.

     People like you and me, are the church. I have made mistakes, and you have made mistakes. This reality makes it possible for others (who will also make mistakes) to join us. As a minister, I have made mistakes in trying to be a leader in our congregation. Sometimes it’s hard to love church, but I know I am loved. Maybe we just don’t communicate enough how much we love each other. Maybe we need do just that more often.

      I pray our visitors feel welcome, but just as important I pray our members feel welcome. Maybe we should make more effort to welcome OUR FAMILY, and let them know how much we love them and are so thankful they are here with us! Make sure you let someone know, especially a member of our family they are loved, not only by Jesus but by you too!

Have a great week!


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January 20, 2015, 11:00 AM

Playing it Safe

    I was reminded again; there are times in our lives we need to play it safe, and times we need to just go for it. Of course the important thing  is to KNOW when to play it safe or when go for it! It's painful when I get it wrong; it’s painful when I see someone else get it wrong. I left for service groups last Sunday evening, it was over, Green Bay had gone into Seattle and whipped the Seahawks, at least that’s what I thought. Morgan Burnett intercepted a pass with about 5 minutes to play and leading by 12 points. He played it safe and fell down, on purpose because that’s the safe play. So I left and went to service groups. I found out later the Seahawks scored 21 points in the last few minutes and overtime to win. So, do you play it safe or go for it?

     Sometimes I ask myself the same question when I work on lessons, do I play it safe or just go for it? I admit I have always had the desire to “go for it” but often found myself “playing it safe”. I have decided to go for it with some lessons on the Holy Spirit. Who knows Revelation might be next!

     There are so many differing opinions about God’s Spirit it’s one of those things the safe thing to do is to teach something else! I am going to try do both,, safe and go for it. Because I think there are things I KNOW about God’s Spirit. I’m going to go for those.

     First His Spirit changes priorities in my life. In fact that is one of His agendas. His Spirit expects to make changes in our lives. Sometimes it’s dramatic. I’ve seen people become Christians and immediately their lives change drastically. But more often than not it seems to me the changes are very subtle, in fact so subtle we don’t even see it happening.

     Secondly, when I allow His Spirit to take over my life, I pray differently. His Spirit changes how I think when I pray. Paul says in Romans 8:26, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” That is one of the great promises of God. He knows exactly what I want to and need to say, even when I don’t!

   Finally I want to “go for it”. The Spirit of God doesn’t depend on what I feel. It is IN ME. I think there are lots in the Christian world who are not satisfied with that. They are convinced if they don’t feel the Spirit He’s not there. So they spend a lot of time trying to get that feeling. Paul wrote to Corinthian brothers and sisters who had all kinds of Spirit gifts. In chapter 3 he says “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.” The Spirit had not changed them, oh they were Christians, God’s Spirit was in them, but they didn’t live like Spirit filled children of God. They desired the Spirit for the wrong motive, not to allow them to serve better, but so they could BE BETTER THAN other servants. That’s the difference we must understand. Scripture never glorifies the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It always focuses on Jesus Christ. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Come on, let’s go for it this Sunday! I love you all. Philip

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January 7, 2015, 11:00 AM

What are you going to do now?

     Its official, the holidays are over. This past Monday it was back to school. Today we resumed Ladies Class. Tonight we begin a new study in our Wednesday night adult class.  We’re going to borrow a phrase from a political campaign and call our class “Hope and Change.”

     It seems like every year after the holidays we go right back to our regular schedule quickly. Christmas is over, the New Year is here, and I just have to remember to write 15 instead of 14.

     At the end of Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, he tells us “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  The shepherds went back to their fields after the big event. It sounds to me like they went back doing the same thing they had been doing before, shepherding the sheep……but there was something different. Light had come into the world.

     Every year I am thankful much of the world takes time to remember Jesus and the miraculous appearance of the Messiah. I am also afraid we do what world does after the holiday, we just go back to doing the things we were doing before, and for us something has to be different. Go back and read what the shepherds did, yes they went back to doing the same stuff, but it was different. They went glorifying and praising God. In our  part of the world it’s easy to make Christmas, and other holidays the days to glorify and praise God. Of course we should do that, but after the holidays and because of the holiday we should return,  glorifying and praising God for all the things we have seen and all the things He has done!

     Light has come into the world! What did those first believers do? They just went back to doing what they did, but now there was something different, they began to spread the light through their worship and their witness to what they had seen!

      Even the Angles, after Jesus was born, first praised God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." The next says they went away from them and back to heaven. Right back to what they had been doing. Even the Wise men first worshiped and praised God. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”

     My prayer is, this year after the holidays you just go back and do what you were doing. Just go praising and glorifying God, for all the things you have seen Him do and all the things we know He will do! 


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