Phil Us Up!
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November 13, 2017, 2:54 PM

Keep Telling

   I can’t help but feel sick about Sutherland Springs TX. Yesterday, Ben Mereness, from Eastern European Ministries said something yesterday I believe; it will happen again.  I struggle with what I should do as a Christian, it’s one thing when it happens far away, but it’s getting too close to home now. How do we respond to these, seemingly unending events? 

     First, pray. Pray for the families, pray for Sutherland Springs 1st Baptist church, pray for……this gets tougher, evil doers. Jesus tells us to 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. I said a prayer this morning for the evil doer’s family; I know they are devastated too.

     Second, love the hurting. I know none of us live in Sutherland Springs. I do know this, there are Christians there loving those who have lost so many loved ones. From right here in Haskell, I can love. Paul tells us in one of his letters, “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 a few things we should do, there are also a few 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. When I dwell on my anger, those emotions lead my soul to some dark, 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 be paralyzed by fear.

     We need, I believe to figure out how to help the helpless. The “Good News” first says we are a people of compassion, not fear, Let’s be filled with compassion, not fear.

    Third, don’t mistake the real enemy. I believe all people need Jesus, especially those driven by evil. Paul writes, “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 the story we are part of is bigger, the story of the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That story ends with realized hope. Mourn for those hurting in ways I hope I never understand, pray for them, love our enemies, don’t hate, and remember who the enemy is. And maybe the most important, KEEP TELLING THE STORY. God help us all.


I love to tell the story of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love; I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true, It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do. I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.


01-02-2018 at 7:12 PM
Steve Gardner
Hi Phil, I would like to invite you to join the new “Church of Christ at Blogs and Bloggers” group on Facebook.

Its goal is a community to post, read, and discuss blog posts and other articles relevant to the Churches of Christ, conservative or progressive, .... All are welcome.

Of particular interest to bloggers is that bloggers in the group are asked to comment substantively on other bloggers’ posts so all can receive substantive feedback.

Here is a link to the group:

If the link does not work, search on Facebook for Church of Christ at Blogs and Bloggers.

I hope you will join!

Best regards,
Steve Gardner (blogger at
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October 3, 2017, 10:52 AM

Sin City

    It happened again, and it proves something we all know, we live in a fallen world. As of today, 59 dead, more than 520 injured. Horrible, tragic, abominable, I don’t know what adjectives would properly describe the events in Las Vegas. The immediate aftershock seems to always follow the same pattern. Before the shock of what has happened fades, people began to speak very loudly and with conviction of how can we stop this sort of thing. Well, I for one don’t have a clue. I do know evil is alive and well, and that has been a struggle for a long time. Almost as long as people have lived on this earth, evil has taken root and produced its bad fruit.  As much as it hurts those who have lost loved ones, I believe it breaks God’s heart. His heart was so broken; He sacrificed His own Son to fix the mess we made. And what a mess it is. I sometimes feel like the father who told his family, “Just give me a minute to be angry.”

    I don’t know about you but I am tired of it all. The Psalmist would write; “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” The ONLY answer comes from God. It is only God who can bring peace and lasting comfort for those who are hurting and have reached the point of hopelessness. Times like this we as believers need to ask for help to be the heralds of the only way out of the mess we are in. I was reminded of this prayer, attributed to St. Francis, but likely came many years after his death.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!

That where there is hatred, I may bring love.

That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.

That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.

That where there is error, I may bring truth.

That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.

That where there is despair, I may bring hope.

That where there are shadows, I may bring light.

That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.

To understand, than to be understood.

To love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life

    I know I don’t have the answers, but I know the One who does. I ask you to join me in prayer, that we might be His instruments of healing. I love you all


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September 26, 2017, 1:41 PM

Open Mouth Insert....

On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted, and had John beheaded in the prison.

    Sometimes, (way too many times I have) we get ourselves in trouble when we make promises or speak and do not realize the consequences of our statements. The results can be especially bad, when it is a leader or someone in a position of power. In this situation, King Herod made some promises, and then was asked to do something he really didn’t want to do. He could honor his promise and do what he did not wish to do. Or, he could admit his promise was foolish, reject her request, and produce unknown responses from his guests. What a horrible choice! After all, he was in charge! Now he is in a real tight spot. Should he do something really foolish and evil, or humbly admit he shouldn’t have made such a promise and go back on his word?

    Herod’s situation was not an insignificant situation especially for John! We know some time earlier he had wished John was dead, but now he is afraid of alienating his constituency, so he at least at this time doesn’t want to kill John. Now the real fear for him is what all the people are going to do! What to do, what to do? I wonder if this sort of situation sounds familiar to folks today.

    Herod has to decide, be humble, admit his mistake, or arrogantly preserve his reputation. Well we all know what he did. He had John beheaded, I suppose he decided he would just deal with the fall out later.

    It is a constant battle I believe, especially for those in positions of authority, or leadership. Do I preserve my reputation or do I simply admit I wish I had kept my mouth shut.

   I know Herod was fearful of this situation, which he created. Matthews account in chapter 14 tells us even before the story is told this tidbit; At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him."

    Until we humbly admit our mistakes, we will be forced to live in arrogant pride. It is a miserable fearful existence. The only way out of messes like this is to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift us up.

Have a great week. I love you all.



August 29, 2017, 12:00 AM


    As of this morning, (Tuesday) the rain totals in Houston are of Biblical proportions, as reported by our own Sam Wester. Sam was caught there while visiting his brother, Glenn. I become much more emotionally involved in these kinds of things when friends and family are in the eye of the storm. My brother’s wife has all of her family just north of Houston. I talked to Sam this morning again; he is still in a safe place. Sam keeps asking for us to pray.

    I am humbled by members of our church familydoing more than praying. Modern Way is coordinating with Salvation Army to accept donations of food and water, Dustin Johnson is headed south today, helicopter in tow to assist in rescue operations. Fuel was donated, all are volunteers. More to pray for….protection and success.

    Much of what we have seen brings us to praise God. The image of ordinary people, risking their own lives, to go out and rescue those in peril makes my heart skip. Much of what we have seen brings us to tears. Watching the helpless, just waiting for help, which might not come, breaks our hearts.

    This morning I was reading in John 11, there it was. The shortest verse in the Bible, I know it well. “Jesus wept.” Short, but packed with power. Those two words give us a glimpse into the very heart of God; a look at the compassion of Jesus, who is acquainted with grief and understands deep sorrow. He wept. He hurt. He grieved. He felt compassion. He understood.

    Here is what gives me strength and comfort. He’s with us. And He wins. Jesus has conquered it all by His own sacrifice on the cross. And no hurricane, no flood  no disease or cancer, no tragic accident, nor even the final days of our old age can ever separate us from the love and sheer grace of God.

We never have to fear. May God’s comfort and peace cover all those who grieve.

He weeps, with us and with Houston.


“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:37-39

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Ps. 34:18

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

God help us help them. I love you all.


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July 20, 2017, 9:28 AM

Feeling Groovy

    This happens to me on a regular basis. I hear something or see something that takes me back. This time it took me really back. I remembered the words to an old Simon and Garfunkel as it played on an oldies station. “Slow down your moving too fast, gotta make the morning last, just kicking down the cobble stones, looking for fun and feeling groovy” I suppose its normal, but the longer I am blessed to live on this earth, the faster things seem to happen.


    Pay attention. Slow down. Take time. Life comes at us fast from early adulthood and does not slow down until well I’m not sure! I have concluded there is no time to waste.

God’s word calls it "a vapor" (James 4:13-14).

Paul said, "Make the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15-16). Jesus offers in "abundance" (John 10:10). How many reminders do we need for us to get the message? "Life happens fast!"

    I spent some time recently looking at my dad’s old family pictures of us and was amazed how quickly life has happened. "Where did those little kids go?" "How did we grow up so fast?"

    Watch the news. In Abilene this last week a fire where lives were lost and property was destroyed in minutes. A plane goes down, an automobile accident on the Interstate, a shooting in the city. "Life happens fast!"

    It comes so quickly that about the time we get comfortable in one phase of life, we move into a different phase. We start feeling good being single, and suddenly we are talking marriage. Then, we work and work at being the best husband or the best wife, and then here comes children. We feel like we get the parenting thing figured out, then we are empty nesters and before long we are grandparents.

With life coming (and going) so quickly, how do we manage it, much less feel groovy or good about it?

    Here are a few things I try to think about. Live today, not tomorrow or yesterday. If I spend too much time looking ahead or behind and I will miss what is happening today. Jesus said, "Take no thought in tomorrow." Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind I press on."

    Slow down. Try to eliminate hurry from your life. If you have small children try not to say, "Hurry up!" too many times. When you get on the freeway, drive the speed limit. When you are walking if you see something worth looking at, stop and look at it. Remind yourself that you have all the time you need to do what God wants us to do.

    This is really important, enjoy the moment. When you work, work hard, and when you rest, rest. When you are with friends, shut your phone off and be with your friends, when you are with the ones you love, then just love.

    "Life happens fast!" It does not have to overwhelm us. We do not have to miss it. We can enjoy it. God has given us life and life abundantly. We have the tools to live it at His pace and in His time

    This week I hope you can receive the life God has planned for you and enjoy it to the fullest and not just at it’s fastest! Summer is going fast. I love you all! Philip

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