Shelves, Selves, and a 2020 Vision

I have a wall-to-wall bookshelf in my study, or more accurately, pieces of one.

For six months I’ve waited, stalled, and “meant to get to” finishing that shelf, and last week I finally started the finishing process…and stopped again.

Maybe I keep stopping because life is just so busy sometimes, but maybe it’s because of something else. Maybe my issue is that it’s so much easier for me to live in the future dream of having the shelf than it is to do the work of actually building the shelf.

How about you? Is there something in your life like that, a project, a dream or an idea that you’ve taken steps to pursue but haven’t followed through with?

If there is, then maybe you need to hear this like I did: “You can’t get to the future without going through today.”

That’s what my wife told me when I complained about feeling stuck, and she’s absolutely right. The truth is that my dreams will never happen without me taking steps towards them today, and neither will yours.

You know what that also means, though? It means even if we only take one tiny, timid step today, that’s a win that we can and should feel good about, and I don’t know about you, but that sounds like good news to me!

So, let’s make a change.

Let’s take a step.

Let’s make this year a year of finishing, of completing, of being done with old things not just so we can put them behind us, but so we can welcome the new things ahead of us with clear minds and open arms and keep moving forward to become the best version of who we were made to be.

You can do it.

I can do it.

Let’s do it together.

Helping people like you take their next step forward so we can build a better world together.


p.s. I’m calling 2020 the Year of Vision (I know, original, right?) because if you want to know how you’re doing, you have to know where you’re going. If you have a clear vision of where you’re headed and how to get there, congratulations, you’re one of the fortunate few!

On the other hand, if you’re like most of us and could use a little help achieving clarity, I’d love to help you get there. Drop me a line, and I’ll tell you about some ways I can help you and/or your team or company think, see, and communicate clearly so you can take your next step forward in 2020.

Two Perspectives on Pull-ups in the Pool [An Encouraging Word]

The clock was ticking, and we weren’t getting anything done.

My son Bradley loves the pool, and this particular morning I had agreed to join him in “training” together, practicing laps to help us both prepare for the triathlon he wants to do with me in the fall.

Pull-ups in the PoolThere, in tepid waters of our little neighborhood pool, I started out by explaining the difference between “lengths” and “laps,” and we started swimming… but not for long.

Instead of doing significant training, we explored new ways to splash each other, played make-believe for a little while, and yes, got in a bit of exercise, though not as much as I would have liked.

Then, as our alotted time was almost up (I had to get to work), Bradley decided he wanted to get a little more exercise, not by swimming, but by doing pull-ups… in the water on the side of the pool.

Pull-ups in the pool.

To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to say. I’d already been a little annoyed at having done very little actual training, and while I’m all about encouraging physical fitness in creative ways, I was pretty sure doing pull-ups in the pool wasn’t actually doing anything!

Or was it?

Maybe the greater purpose of that morning before work wasn’t helping my son strengthen his body, but helping the two of us strengthen our relationship. Maybe the real value in those moments wasn’t found in the exercise, but simply the experience of us being together and him feeling like his ideas had value and worth.

Maybe I needed to adjust my priorities.

Another thought occurred to me in the water that morning. This one not about relationships, but effectiveness.

I wondered, what are the “pull-ups in the pool” that I’m doing right now in other areas of my life? What activities am I doing that keep me preoccupied, but don’t produce much progress? What things are giving me a busy schedule, but aren’t helping me build success?

Maybe I need to adjust my work habits.

How about you?

You see, when our relationships become all about productivity and progress, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. We need to remember that “pull-ups in the pool” are okay, because what matters most isn’t accomplishing goals, but cultivating hearts.

On the other side of the equation, when our work becomes more about routine than results, we’re out of balance there, too. We need to remember that “pull-ups in the pool” must be avoided at all costs, because life is too short to spend it doing things that don’t really make a difference.

Wherever you are right now, relationally or professionally, here’s my encouragement to you today.

Ask God for the clarity to evaluate your priorities and activities, and the courage to make the changes that lead to the result He wants for you: a flourishing life.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus wants to set you free from works

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.  (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Did God get tired and need a break after His work of creation?  Of course not.  He rested to set an example for us.

We know that we need physical rest after physical work, yet all-too-often we fail to receive the spiritual rest God desires for us.  We run around doing good deeds or feel guilty for not spending more time in prayer, all the while hoping we’ll do enough to please the Father.

But if you’re in Christ, God is already pleased with you!

If you’re striving and straining to earn God’s favor, relax, Jesus took care of that for you!  If you’re working and struggling trying to make God happy with you, relax, Jesus took care of that for you!

Today, let God’s love for you in Christ give rest to your soul and freedom to your mind, and let your heart be encouraged by this truth: Jesus wants to set you free from works.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus wants true prosperity for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 1


He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The world tells us that prosperity is about money and possessions. It shows us example after example of “successful” people who seem to prosper in all they do.

Yet, underneath the glamor shots and fancy toys, isn’t it true that again and again, we eventually learn that those so-called prosperous people were empty and miserable on the inside? Don’t we hear of all their failed marriages and broken families and destructive coping habits?

Jesus wants something better for you!

The life of prosperity in Christ may indeed include financial abundance, but that is not the greatest blessing of all. The greatest blessing is a life and heart filled with overflowing joy and hope in any circumstance. Not only that, but when the life of Christ is flowing out of you, you can walk in a prosperity of heart that can never be shaken, no matter what comes your way.

How do you do it? Simple. Keep your roots in the water through regular time with God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people, the Church, and watch your life be refreshed as you tap in to this truth: Jesus wants true prosperity for you.

-Pastor Phillip

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The Vine Does Not Define You

The Vine Does Not Define You 3

The dry, withered vine hung like tentacles from the branches of the aging pine.

Once the vine had tried to seize control of the tree.  It had threatened to overtake the pine and strip it of life until only the vine remained.  Left unchecked, the vine would have grown so much that it would have obscured the tree almost entirely, hiding the beauty of what was supposed to be there behind a façade of something that didn’t belong.

But the vine was dead now.

The vine no longer threatened the life of the tree.  The vine was only an echo of a time long past, and the tree was free to grow as it was intended to.  The only reason the vine was still hanging on was because no one had yet taken the time to remove it so the beauty of the tree could shine through.

Your life is like that.

If you’re in Christ, the Bible says you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It says that once sin was like that vine, toxic and spreading, sucking away your life and leading you to destruction (Romans 6:23), but not anymore!

If you’re in Christ, the Bible says old things have passed away and all things have become new, and that means no matter what patterns of sin used to define you, they don’t have to anymore.  Whatever patterns of dysfunction used to command you, they don’t have to anymore.  Whatever habits or addictions or compulsions used to control you, they don’t have to anymore!

Jesus makes all things new, and that means you can be free of those things that used to hold you back as you trust and obey the One who is calling you forward.

Cast aside those old remnants of sin and shame!  Throw off those leftover patterns of thought and behavior that don’t line up with who God made you to be!

In Christ, you have a new life now, and the vine does not define you anymore.

-Pastor Phillip