Phil Us Up!
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August 12, 2014, 9:54 AM

Every 1020 Seconds


     I am told every 17 minutes someone commits suicide in the USA. It’s the leading cause of death among those between 15 and 25 years old. I believe we can all agree, suicide is always a tragedy. One of the most disturbing statistics for me is this; it’s the 6th leading cause of death for those aged from 5 to 14. Our hearts simply ask why, and the answer never comes.

     I can’t help but think whatever the age, those who take their own life, believe their lives are not worth living. Despair, depression, hopelessness, self-hatred; these are the killers. The news last night and this morning is that Robin Williams fought a losing battle with depression.

     When I was a child growing up in rural America, it was an occasional question. Can suicide be forgiven? It always included discussions about mental health, repentance and the few incidents (six I think) of taking one’s life in the Bible.  I haven’t found where any of those six are condemned for taking their life. For those who ask the question about forgiveness, I think the burden is for those who would deny grace.  What sin cannot be washed away by the blood of Jesus? Taking one’s life is tragic, but not unforgiveable.

     Paul writes in Romans, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship? I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

     I believe we as Christians should spend less time worrying about whether Christians who take their own lives are going to heaven, and worry more about how can we help people find the joy of living, especially in Christ! The most important thing for me is not the morality of suicide, but can I help those who struggle with the things that drive them to that tragic end. The question is not what’s going to happen to them in eternity, but can I help today? I know Jesus cares, and so should we.

I choose to LOVE LIFE this week.


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July 16, 2014, 9:16 AM

They laugh at us

The longer I live on God’s earth the more my perspective changes. I think that’s what’s supposed to happen. When your perspective changes, what you see changes. I am not nearly as distressed as I used to be when I see the world today in conflict with Christianity. It’s that way because their perspective is different. It used to bother me when the world made fun of “believers”. They did it and do it because of their perspective. Here is what Paul writes to the church in Corinth.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

It is remarkable how people with different perspectives can see the same thing in such opposite ways. The cross makes no sense if looked at through a worldly view. But….if looked at through believing eyes you get a totally different view.

   In Jesus’ day, the world knew the cross was for criminals, insurgents and the like. Those first believers saw something different, and it made a difference. Paul would go on to tell the brothers and sisters in Corinth that it actually pleases God to use the folly of what we preach to bring salvation to those who believe. His folly is wiser than man’s wisdom. The world says death; especially death on the cross is final. God says that Jesus’ death on the cross is the POWER OF GOD to save. What a huge difference perspective makes. The world says PROVE IT, God says believe it.

   The truth in all this is this, it turns the world upside down, the last become the first, the weak become the powerful, and the poor become the rich, and the world will never see it. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that anything hung on a tree was a curse! Christians preached it and actually celebrated it!  Paul would say to the Galatians, “Jesus became a curse so that we might be redeemed!” If it were not so important, it would almost be funny.

     The world will only see things differently when their perspective changes.  Until that happens, they laugh, they think they understand and they call us foolish. From God’s perspective, the world’s wisdom is just folly.

     The world says strength is in numbers and power, and God has always used the weak and powerless to overcome. The world says the strong will conquer. God says Jesus has already conquered everything……even death…death on a cross.

And the world laughs.


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July 1, 2014, 12:00 AM

Makes me want to light a sparkler!

     On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. So each year on July 4th, we celebrate this historic event. Thomas Jefferson penned the document sometime in June, 1776. The Declaration of Independence is our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty, and I believe rightly so. It came as a result of oppression under the strong arm of the King of England. One thing we humans don’t do well with is oppression. I wonder, if we as modern day Americans fail to understand freedom, because we have never lived without it.

     This week we will spend some time thinking about freedom and independence. I hope you get to do just that. More importantly we need to understand a freedom so much more than the freedom July 4th celebrates. Paul would write a long time before July 4th 1776, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

     Only, when we realize our own sins, and struggles with them will we begin to understand the freedom we have. Paul tells us here in Romans 8, the Spirit has been given, to give us comfort and assurance of our salvation. We are free from the law of sin and death! We, bumbling along in our many failures, become aware of the power of grace to be forever free from all the effects of sin! Now that’s real freedom, freedom that will last forever.

     I love the USA, and I’m proud to be an American. We are so blessed to live in a place where freedom is cherished. This Friday I will celebrate our freedom.

    I will spend the rest of my life thanking God for sending first His son, and then His Spirit, so that I might have “real freedom”. That’s where our ultimate allegiance has to be. “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

     Kinda makes me want to light a sparkler! Have a great week!


June 3, 2014, 2:06 PM


I admit I was so optimistic when the weather men a couple of weeks ago called for rain, maybe a big rain. I am also thankful for those in south and east who really did get a nice rain. For us, well not so much. I measured 1.2 inches at my house, which I am thankful for. But as for the drought, well it continues. This week we may reach a 100, again. Not much relief in sight.  What do we do? Well the first thing I do is find joy in what we did receive, and do have.

     I know it’s dry, I also know many of us are experiencing what might be considered a dry season in our lives. Death, sickness, troubled relationships; it seems to go on and on. I know, from my own experience its tough not to give in, many times I have said I don’t know if I can hold on.

     I sat down this morning to try to write something that would encourage everyone. I read a devotional from the greatest Christian writer of our modern era, C. S. Lewis. He wrote, “The prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please God best.” I thought about that, sickness, troubled relationships, death, and drought. I see it’s dry in a lot of places. I am reminded life is not always fun and games, there will be times when we go dry, in our relationships and in our world. I also know what we do when it is dry out there, reveals who we really are.

     I think I understand the writer in Psalm 42 more and more.  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

     My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.

     My hope is the writer of this song survived his dry season and found renewal. I think he did. Later in Psalm 121 we read; “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Now that’s pretty good help!  Hold on and have a great week.



May 6, 2014, 2:51 PM

Name change??

     I was told recently by a friend of mine that he laughed at the title of my weekly bulletin article and blog, “Phil Us Up”.  Of course it got me to thinking.  Jesus wonderfully said in His sermon on the mount, “Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty, they will be filled.”

   It seems to me that being thirsty and hungry is something most of us are not. I wonder if somewhere along the road we thought we were satisfied and simply pushed back from the table. A book I read a few years ago said that we all are given a craving from God, a hunger that will be satisfied by something. The only question is, what will we “Phil” ourselves up with? When we try to do it with possessions, power or success, well sooner or later we figure out this truth.  Those things will never fill us up! When we try to fill up on those things, we are answering our own call. I know because I have been guilty often of being full of myself, full of my ideas, full of what I want. When Jesus promises, “they shall be filled” it is those who are answering the clear call of our awesome God, not their own voice.

     Maybe the problem is most of us are not in want for much. Maybe the problem is not that we are full, but we are never empty. I think the idea is we need to fill up, so that God can pour us out. Only then will He fill us up again, if we are dining from the right menu.  It’s only after we are empty we will ever be hungry or thirsty.

     One of the reasons the Dead Sea is dead is because fresh water runs into the sea, to the tune of 6 ½ tons a day but has no outlet. (Catholic encyclopedia) The only way water leaves is by evaporation, the salts and minerals stay. Always filling up, never emptying.

     Maybe that’s the reason behind the spiritual discipline of fasting. To remind us what it means to be hungry, to thirst for a righteousness that only comes from God and His Son. Maybe if I spent less time at the table eating, and more time emptying myself…….who knows how God would fill me up!

Have a great……hungry and thirsty week!


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