Phil Us Up!
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March 19, 2013, 11:23 AM

Early March Goodness


   Have you filled out your bracket yet? It’s that time of year I pick my favorite team or player and the real rooting begins. This year for me it’s a little different, none of my teams made it to the tournament. So I will watch, but with not as much emotion as in years past. I still have my favorite moment and player for 2013. Someone you probably never heard of, Jonathan Montanez. He was a senior this year and played for the Franklin High Tigers in El Paso. It was not a year to remember, they went 15-14, but there was that unforgettable moment on Feb. 12th against their greatest rival, the El Paso Coronado Thunderbirds.

   The coach of the Thunderbirds, Peter Morales put his team’s manager, Mitchell Marcus into the game with about a minute to play. It was something he had planned to do from the start of the game. For the first time in Mitchell’s life that night Coach gave him a uniform and asked him to sit on the bench with the team. Mitchell is developmentally challenged but always wanted to play basketball. Because of Coach Morales, Mitchell would get his chance. Because of a rival player, Jonathan Montanez it was a moment no one there would ever forget.

   As the clock ran down Mitchell’s teammates kept passing him the ball wanting him to score a basket. Three times Mitchell missed badly. Finally with time running out and the Tigers with the ball on an inbounds pass, Jonathan would give Mitchell one more chance. He called out his name and passed the ball to the opposing player, Mitchell. He turned faced the basket and threw up an awkward shot. It went in and the buzzer sounded. What was the score? Coronado won by 15 points. Mitchell’s shot wasn’t a game changer but maybe Jonathan’s pass was a life changer. That night the team manager, who never played a game in his life was carried off by his team mates. His mom, Amy told CBS “I think I will cry about it the rest of my life. Jonathan will never know how much that moment meant to me and Mitchell”

   Jonathan would say later, “I was raised by my parents to treat others how I want to be treated. I just wanted to give him another chance.”

   Mitchell has his memory, his Mom has her tears of Joy, and we all have a real life lesson taught by a senior basketball player from El Paso. It’s a lesson on kindness, sportsmanship and on how to live out the golden rule.

Have a great week!                   Philip

 “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” Matthew 7:12 (msg)


February 26, 2013, 1:20 PM

Am I obligated?



   Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. -Romans 13:8-10 NLT

   I think it is easy to see some differences in the law of the Old Testament, and the law of the New Testament. Everyone I know is glad we do not live under the old law! I am thankful the apostle Paul shows us the BIG connection between the two. Sometimes what Israel failed to learn was not what the law was, but what God was trying to teach through the law. What God always wanted was for His people to love Him, and each other.

   The Ten Commandments clearly teach the idea of loving God and loving each other. As Paul indicates in Romans 13, no one steals from another if they love them. Neither do they murder them or commit adultery with that person's spouse. When someone gossips or bears false testimony, they show that they do not love the one that they malign. In the same way, a person shows they do not love God when they treasure earthly things more than they treasure their relationship with God.

   Love can do what no written law can ever do. Love compels us to do things that cannot be listed in written law. In the gospels, Jesus consistently contrasts divine love with Mosaic Law. When a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to him, he showed us the weakness of that law. Everyone walked away from stoning this woman, because none were free of sin. Maybe there is a principle here! Maybe we can only love when we first understand we are all sinners? We are all in the same boat! Remember, Jesus said, “If anyone of you is without sin….” He didn’t specify which ones! I see why no stones were thrown.

The answer is to learn to… Love like God does. Now, that’s the law of love, and my obligation. Have a great week!  I love you all!                 Philip

January 25, 2013, 10:19 AM



I think that made me think! 

   I think one of the best ways you can tell if a sermon or a class is “any good” is to answer this question. Did it make me think? Too often the question we want answered is, “Do I agree with that?” I have appreciated our class on Sunday morning this quarter not because I agree with everything said but because every week I come out of class saying, “I need to think about that!” Thank you Justin for doing a great job Sunday mornings! If you are not in a class Sunday I would encourage you to make the effort to get to the Annex! You will be blessed and I promise it will make you think!

   We have been looking first in the Old Testament and now in the New Testament at the characters God used for His will and purposes. I have had to rethink some of my conclusions about some of the folks God was and is using to accomplish His will in this world. I think I have drawn some wrong conclusions about the people God uses. It’s easy to conclude God will use us but we really need to reach some level of goodness first if God is going to use us for His will. Now don’t get me wrong, I know God wants His children to be good people! But I have come to this conclusion; it is always about the Goodness of God and not the goodness of us.  Sometimes I have fallen into the trap of looking at other fallen people and say well I don’t look so bad compared to………….whoever! I call that comparative goodness. In Luke 15 Jesus makes a powerful point about comparative goodness. A wealthy man had two sons, one of which was rebellions and unhappy. He takes his inheritance and departs. It doesn’t take long; he loses everything and is far from home. Finally he comes to his senses in the pig pen and heads home. The father spends his evening looking down the road, searching for his lost son. When he sees him he runs to him and welcomes him home. Very quickly plans are made for a celebration. His older brother hears the commotion and becomes angry that a wonderful greeting was given to his worthless brother. He is so angry he will not come into the party. This parable has so many great lessons. We have often talked about the goodness of God shown here. What if we look through the eyes of the older brother? I think he was so impressed with his own goodness, he could not see the goodness of the Father. He used comparative goodness; he was good because his brother was bad.

   I am afraid I like to forget what Jesus says a litter later in Luke. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do should say, we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

  I can never be “good enough”, but God is always good enough, to use even me! Have a great week serving our Good God!     Philip

January 3, 2013, 9:52 AM

Happy New Year!


Watching the news the past couple of days, well I wonder what kind of New Year many people will have. It seems kind of a rough start to begin with the task of avoiding a cliff! So many of us are compelled to worry about such and wonder what is going to happen in 2013. Now don’t get me wrong, I do wonder, but I am not afraid of the New Year in spite of the cliff. It occurs to me as to why so many are afraid is because of where their confidence comes from. Here is part of a Psalm from David. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

In the coming New Year the only safe place to put our trust is in God and His Son. I learned enough in 2012 to know we can’t put our trust in men or in nations and certainly not in the economy. That whole cliff thing is still staring us in the face!

The only safe place to put our confidence and our trust in 2013 is in God. "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:12). "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Psalm 34:8).

The New Year is always full of resolutions. Let this one be yours from Psalms (18:2). The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold"

Put your trust in God! For where your treasure is, there you'll find your heart. He won't let us down.  May this be our resolution for 2013!

Happy New Year! I love you all! Philip

December 27, 2012, 9:11 AM

Only 364 days until Christmas!


     Well another Christmas is in the record books. I think many people feel like I do, we really enjoy the holidays but are glad when it all can get back to normal. Christmas brings memories of  all the others I have celebrated through the years. This one was the second “white” Christmas we have had since Leigh and I have been in Haskell! So we put some more Christmas memories in the bank this year. It is my prayer you did the same.

   I also realize this can be a time of difficulty for many. I wonder how Christmas will be looked at 364 days from now in Connecticut. Or for others who suffered some kind of tragedy this year or in years past.

  Whatever memories are stirred during these times I hope we all take time to think about how much God loves each and every one of us. This is the time of year we most often think about Jesus coming into the world as a demonstration of that love. I also know for some of us, memories of Christmas past  and even Christmas present  will make the holidays more difficult. For me these days are a reminder of all the love that has passed down through the years of my life, and the gratitude I share for simply having known that. Remember, even in your darkest moments, when you feel most separate, you are still loved! Beyond traditions, beyond faith, beyond hope there is love. God bless you with these thoughts this year.

   “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.”

God bless you all, and have a happy and blessed new year!     Philip

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