Nightmares [An Encouraging Word]

It was 4am when my son’s little hand rapped loudly on our bedroom door.

The “shave-and-a-haircut, two bits” pattern I taught him echoed through the caverns of my subconscious mind, dragging me up from a deep, clear sleep into the  groggy fog of a much-too-early morning.

“Come in” I moaned, loud enough for him to hear through the white wood, but hopefully soft enough to not wake my still-sleeping wife.  Lucky her.

“Daddy,” he said with the adorable pleading tone of a seven year old boy, “I had nightmares.  Can I sleep in your bed?”

Now, for some people this request might be a no-brainer, but for us it’s a problem.  You see, my son is not a stationary sleeper.  Like a fish out of water or a presidential candidate, he flips and flops and shifts positions all over the place; not exactly the kind of bedmate that is conducive to quality R.E.M.

I knew, too, that not only did I need to sleep, but more importantly, my wife would be waking up early for a long day at work, so she needed as much rest as she could get.

The answer was clear.

“No, son, you can’t sleep in our bed tonight… but I’d be happy to come stay with you in yours.”

After a quick trip to the bathroom, we padded our way quietly back through the dim blue landscape of the night-lighted apartment, grateful that all the Legos had been picked up before bed and weren’t waiting for us like foot-stabbing landmines.  He climbed up to his wooden bunk bed, and I slowly and carefully made my way after him, up the creaky ladder and under the “Star Wars” sheet and comforter.

I knew that for him, being in his room alone would have been difficult, because for this moment it was associated with his nightmares instead of a good night’s rest.  So, nestling close to my son, I settled in for a sleepless hour that I knew would be well worth the sacrifice.

My little boy needed me in his season of fear, and it was my joy to be by his side.

Did you know that’s how your heavenly Father feels about you?

Speaking to the worries and anxieties of the people of His day, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)  Sometimes we think of the “Kingdom of God” as only a future destination, but Jesus taught that it’s also a present experience of God’s presence and power on earth.

What does that mean for you?

It means that wherever you’re afraid today, God wants to speak words of courage to you, because He’s with you.
It means that wherever you’re in turmoil today, God wants to speak words of calm to you, because He’s with you.
It means that wherever you’re anxious today, God wants to speak words of peace to you, because He’s with you.

“Don’t be afraid, little child,” He wants to say to you.  “It’s my joy to be by your side.”

Will you listen?

–Pastor Phillip

God can use your life to bless generations

As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.  (James 5:10-11)

In the midst of Job’s suffering, it’s doubtful he felt like a recipient of mercy and compassion.  Yet, how many countless millions or more have been strengthened and encouraged by the example of his life?

How compassionate and merciful is God, then, that He would allow one man the opportunity to impact lives for thousands of years after his death!  What an incredible gift!

Never forget that the impact of your life can be far bigger than your lifetime.  Remember that the purpose of your existence is far greater than your experience.

If you’re willing to embrace a big picture perspective, you’ll discover a strength and resolve like you’ve never known.  So, take your eyes off your immediate circumstances today and let God bring you joy through this truth.

God can use your life to bless generations.

–Pastor Phillip

God lifts up the humble heart

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.  (James 4:10)

So much in the Kingdom is counterintuitive.  To live, we must die.  To be free, we must become slaves of Christ.  To be exalted, we must humble ourselves.

This seems like exactly the opposite of what we should do, and it can seem so hard at times.  Yet, here’s the incredible blessing.

When you choose to let go of your desire to exalt yourself and instead humbly exalt Jesus, He is freed up to take you higher than you could ever go on your own!

When you let God handle the scope of your significance, you will find He is far more generous to you than you could have ever been to yourself.  Let go of your need to promote your own name, and be encouraged by this powerful truth.

God lifts up the humble heart.

–Pastor Phillip

A woman’s place (Luke 8:1-3)

Soon afterward [Jesus] was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the Kingdom of God.  The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene (seven demons had come out of her); Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others who were supporting them from their possessions.  (Luke 8:1-3)

In a culture that told women to stay at home, Jesus invited them to come along with Him on His travels.

In a culture where women were relegated to “women’s work,” Jesus allowed them to support the most important work of all: His.

If the question is asked, “Where is a woman’s place?” the answer is clear.

A woman’s place is with Jesus, valued and vital to the Kingdom.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s character is the sign of God’s wisdom

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  (James 3:17)

Many people claim to be wise.  They have education and degrees, experience and lots of time invested in the field.  They may even have some good ideas.

But good ideas are not the same as wisdom.

True wisdom is not held by the clever or creative, but by those who reflect the character of God.  Input of true value comes not just from people who are experts in their field, but from those who have experienced the transforming presence of Jesus.

This can be great news for you!

Do you wish you had more wisdom but feel you don’t have the ability?  You do!  Ask God and access His Word, and it’s yours.

Do you feel you don’t often have a lot to contribute?  You can!  Cultivate the character of Jesus, and watch as He blesses the words of your mouth as a reflection of this truth.

God’s character is the sign of God’s wisdom.

–Pastor Phillip

What kind of person…really? (Luke 6:45)

A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart.  An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.  (Luke 6:45)

“I know he’s done some terrible things, but he’s really just misunderstood.”

“Yeah, he cusses and yells and lies sometimes, but he’s really a good person.”

“Okay, so he cheated once and got violent a couple of times, but I know he’s got a good heart.”

Do you know what I think Jesus would say to all of that?

“That’s just silly.”

–Pastor Phillip

God turns your lack into a heavenly abundance

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him?  (James 2:5)

When you look at what you lack, it’s easy to lose heart.  When you focus on where you fall short, it’s easy to get discouraged.  When you dwell on what you don’t have, it’s easy to miss what you do have.

You have the treasure of the Kingdom!

If you’re in Christ, your level of worldly success is no match for the heavenly blessings God has for you.  What you lack in the physical, God wants to provide in the spiritual in much greater amounts!

Yes, God provides for physical needs and loves to do it, but in the in-between seasons when you feel you don’t have what you wish, take heart in this glorious truth.

God turns your lack into a heavenly abundance.

–Pastor Phillip

Who gets what? (Luke 6:19-20a)

The whole crowd was trying to touch Him because power was coming out from Him and healing them all.  Then, looking up at His disciples, He said…  (Luke 6:19-20a)

Jesus offers His healing power to all the people.  He uses miracles to draw them in, but look how He doesn’t expect every person healed to actually give Him a hearing.

He doesn’t make listening to His teaching a prerequisite for His touch.  Rather, He shows the lavish grace of God by healing all who come, and He shows the strategic wisdom of God by teaching only those who care.

Perhaps we would be wise to do the same.

–Pastor Phillip

God has a generous wisdom for you

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  (James 1:5)

We live in a complicated world.  So many decisions, so many problems, so many responsibilities come to fill our minds, and it can sometimes be so hard to make sense of it all.

That’s why we need wisdom.

Here’s good news, then.  God wants to give you the wisdom you need!  He wants to give you the clarity you desire! The only question is, will you trust Him enough to regularly ask?

Don’t let complexity trouble you.  Instead, be refreshed as you act on this glorious truth.

God has a generous wisdom for you.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus doesn’t change on you

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

So often in life, we start a journey of relationship with someone, only to see them change in ways we never expected.

Other times, we put our faith in people to be faithful to us, only to have them change their minds down the line.

Here’s good news, though.  Jesus isn’t like that!

When you trust Jesus, you can have confidence because He is perfectly trustworthy.  When you put your faith in Him, you can rest easy because He is perfectly faithful.

When Jesus says He loves you, He means it, and that is never going to change!  So, let this truth give you greater stability as you trust and follow Him.

Jesus doesn’t change on you.

–Pastor Phillip

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