About that sinking feeling…

You have not been left out.

You have not been left behind.

You have not wasted your life.

You have not failed your calling.

–––

You still matter to God.

You still have much to offer.

You are still valuable to the world around you.

The best is yet to come.

–––

Now get to it!

–Phillip


Image creditunsplash-logoPaul Bulai

God’s gospel is about God’s glory

God's Hope for Your Heart Header

And I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.  And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”  (Revelation 14:6-7)

The word “gospel” in Greek means good news.  When used in Scripture, though, it isn’t just news of any random thing.  Rather, when the Bible uses the word “gospel,” it carries with it the nuance of an announcement of triumph, a declaration of victory.

Typically we see this word connected with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but here in Revelation we see something related, but different.  Here we see an angel of heaven, announcing an “eternal gospel” to all the peoples of the earth.  So then, what is this good news that has been true for all eternity?

That God is glorious, and worthy of worship.

Here’s why this is good news…

We were created to worship and serve God.  Since this is the point of our existence, true joy and fulfillment in our lives can only come through bringing glory to God.  For most of us, though, it can be difficult to worship God when we’re in the midst of painful seasons.

However, something special happens when we realize that the main point of God’s redemptive work is not our happiness, but His glory.  When we embrace this reality, we are empowered to worship God fully and freely no matter what our circumstances look like, because we realize that God’s goodness is not determined by our experience, therefore our worship of Him need not be, either.

This is truly good news for you, because it means that no matter how difficult your life may seem today, you can still experience joy, meaning and fulfillment as you receive and embrace this truth.

God’s Gospel is about God’s glory.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ Word to You

Scripture Notes Header

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.  (Mark 13:31)

An old saying goes, “all good things must come to an end,” and in most cases this is true.

Companies close and relationships fall apart.  Nations crumble and loved ones die.  Hopes fail and dreams fade and according to Jesus, even heaven and earth will one day cease to exist as we know them.

But there is at least one good thing that will never, ever come an end: Jesus’ word to you.

So what is His word to you if you’re in Christ?

You are loved, embraced, accepted and forgiven, and nothing can ever take that away.

–Pastor Phillip

God allows pain because you are precious to Him

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.  (Revelation 3:19-20)

Christian, do you ever wonder why God allows hard things to come into your life?  Do you ever feel like you’re getting knocked around and you can’t figure out what’s behind it?

Maybe it’s Jesus, knocking on your heart to get your attention.

Don’t miss the obvious truth of this passage, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.”  If God never allows any pain into your life, either you are sinlessly perfect in all your actions and attitudes, or God doesn’t really love you at all.

Yet, don’t miss the incredible encouragement here, either.

When God disciplines us, it is never because He wants to push us away, but because He wants to draw us closer!

His correction is not condemnation.  It is an invitation to greater intimacy with Him!

This is why the Psalmist David can exult, “Let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (Psalm 51:8), because every hurt is another chance to be touched by the hand of the Healer.

Don’t run from or fear the hand of God’s discipline.  Embrace it, and as you do, let this truth fill your heart with hope.

God allows pain because you are precious to Him.

–Pastor Phillip

Thoughts in the wake of a tragedy

They say it is the worst mass killing on U.S. soil, and it happened today.

Fifty people dead, and 53 more wounded, they say.

All across social media, people have one resounding question: WHY?

Some say religion is to blame, while others say things like “intolerance” and “hate.”  Some say the fault belongs to gun laws in our country (or the lack thereof) while some blame law enforcement for not acting on prior concerns about the killer.  Still others will claim this tragedy is “God’s judgment” on our nation, or even on a particular group of people.

May I suggest an answer that is far deeper, yet far simpler than any of these?

There is a violence that springs out of a sense of self-preservation, but this was not that kind of violence.

There is a violence that is birthed by a desire to protect people we love or things we care about, but this was not that kind of violence.

The kind of violence that causes a man to take multiple weapons into a crowded nightclub and open fire has its root in one simple thing: the devaluing of another human being, and there is one key belief that causes this behavior.

Self-righteousness.

I believe the reason fifty precious lives were extinguished is because one man felt he was above them in some way, which to him justified his heinous actions.  He thought he was better than them, therefore their lives were less important than his, and worth taking.

You see, when a person believes themselves to be morally superior to another, it’s only a matter of time before they stop seeing the other as a person at all.  They are something different, something less, some thing that has a name and a category, but isn’t the same as them.

This is when the broad brushes come out, and the self-righteous person stops seeing certain people as fellow human beings and instead sees “gays,” “Christians,” “Muslims,” “conservatives,” “liberals,” “fundamentalists,” “white people,” “black people,” “rich people,” “people on welfare,” and the list goes on and on.

And we all do it.

Maybe you’re feeling that way right now towards the killer, thinking of him as an “extremist,” or a “terrorist,” or a “fanatic.”  Maybe these labels apply, but here’s the deeper truth: he was a person, too.

I’m not saying he deserves pity, or that his actions were in any way right or justifiable.  I’m saying that for all of us, we would be wise to use caution as we ponder this incident, because if we’re not careful, our broad-brush statements about the kind of people who do this sort of thing have the potential to put us in the same boat as him, not as murderers with our hands, but as murderers in our hearts.

This is why the Gospel of Jesus is so powerful, because at its core is the truth that nothing you or I can ever do will make us better than anyone else.  No amount of rule-keeping or moral behavior can earn us the right to be called righteous; only Jesus can do that.  The best we can do is receive a gift we didn’t earn, and remember that all of us are broken and in need of grace.  Embracing this reality sets us free from the need to place ourselves on a pedestal for our performance, and releases us to truly love others as full equals in the human race, regardless of who they are or what they believe or what they’ve done.

Every human life is precious, valuable, and worthy of respect and dignity.  When you realize that you’re no better than anyone else, then whether you agree with their beliefs and behaviors or can’t stand anything they stand for, you can still choose to see them for what they are: a person just like you.

So, if you’re a praying person, pray for Orlando.  Pray for the victims and their families.  Pray for the people of the surrounding communities, and for the law enforcement and medical personnel who will continue to sort through the pieces in the days and weeks to come.  Pray for the killer’s family as they bear the shame and guilt for the actions of this man.

And pray for yourself, as well.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your eternal reward

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  (1 John 2:16-17)

The world promises great rewards for those who will follow its ways.  Money, power, fame, love, success, honor—all these and more it promises you if you bow down and worship.

But all of these things are passing away.

Bank accounts bleed, power wanes, and fame is fleeting.  Love grows cold, success gets old, and honor from others comes and goes with the changing of seasons.

How comforting, then, to know that for those who follow Jesus, there is a reward that endures forever—Jesus himself!

When you are abiding in Christ, you are connected to the source of all good things, of all joy and peace, of all meaning and fulfillment.  When you are in Christ, you can let the world do what it will to you, because you are eternally secure in Him.

Christian, don’t let the trinkets of earth distract you from the treasure you already have.  In Christ, you can find satisfaction in this glorious truth.

Jesus is your eternal reward.

–Pastor Phillip

Get Back on the Bike [An Encouraging Word]

“Why does this always happen to me?”

Bradley had fallen a second time on his bicycle, his 7-year old, 72-pound frame tangled up in steel and rubber with a handlebar poking him in the belly.  The injuries to his body weren’t serious, but the hurt in his heart was real.

He actually hadn’t been falling much at all.  In fact, other than two accidents that particular day, he had stayed upright just fine for most of our rides together.  He’d even begun to regularly muse out loud, “How can I be so good at riding a bicycle so quickly,” and “I don’t think there’s really anything else for me to learn about riding a bike.”

And that was his problem.

My son’s mental anguish at a second tumble wasn’t really about the frequency of the fall.  It was about the breakdown of his feelings of invincibility.  In that moment, my little boy’s greatest struggle wasn’t overcoming the pain in his tummy or the awkwardness of the twisted bicycle.  His greatest struggle was having to come to grips with this simple truth about life.

Everybody hurts.

He needed to know there was no grand conspiracy that made him fall, sometimes things just happen.  He needed to know this wasn’t a great failure on his part, just a part of the learning process.

Most of all, though, he needed to know that no matter how hard he tries, he is not invincible, and that’s okay.  He is not immune to trial and trouble, and that’s a good thing.

You see, to hurt is part of the human experience.  Falling is part of being fully alive.  This is why Jesus’ promise is so hopeful, “You will have suffering in this world.  Be courageous!  I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33b)  By acknowledging the inevitability of suffering, Jesus sets us free from feeling like a failure when we can’t avoid it, and gives us hope that He will see us through it.

How about you?

Have you felt the bite of rejection or the sting of failure?  Have you experienced the pain of loss or the drain of long-term struggle?  Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why does this always happen to me?”

Be courageous!

You and I need to remember there is a time to learn from our mistakes, and a time to accept that things just happen.  We need to remember there is a time to evaluate ourselves to grow, and a time to embrace the truth that sometimes God allows things for reasons we’ll never know.

Most of all, though, you and I need to remember that there’s a time to cry and hurt and grieve and retreat, but there’s also a time where we must receive the word I gave to my son after I comforted his heart and dried his tears.

It’s time to get back on the bike.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s blessing goes beyond your suffering

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.  Have no fear of them, nor be troubled… (1 Peter 3:14)

The reality of suffering is one that many people don’t like to deal with.  Even many Christians, uncomfortable trying to reconcile God’s love with His allowance of pain, gloss over the harsh truth that pain comes to all people, in all places, no matter what kind of relationship they have with God.

Think about it…

Jesus was crucified.  The Apostle Peter was crucified upside-down.  The Apostle Paul was beheaded, and the Apostle John boiled alive in oil and then exiled when he didn’t die.

Throughout history and even to this day in countries across the world, countless millions have been and still are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, yet they continue to trust and praise Him through it all.  Why?

Because Jesus Himself is the greatest blessing of all.

The mighty presence of the risen Savior is a far greater gift than any change in circumstances could ever be.  The lavish hope of glory awaiting believers is a far greater pleasure than any removal of pain.  This is why generations of Christians have endured pain and suffering with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts and praise on their lips.

Will you be one of them?

In the midst of whatever trial you’re facing, let the presence of Jesus bring you hope as you remember this powerful truth.

God’s blessing goes beyond your suffering.

–Pastor Phillip

Waking up to Jesus (Luke 9:32)

Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep, and when they became fully aware, they saw His glory and the two men who were standing with Him.  (Luke 9:32)

Jesus’ glory was on full display, but His disciples almost missed it.  They were “weighed down with sleep,” and almost missed a chance to see Jesus for who He really is.

What causes you to feel “weighed down?”

What makes you want to keep your eyes closed, to sleep and retreat instead of standing and engaging?

Maybe your greatest encounter with Jesus is just around the corner, if you’d just be willing to do the work of waking up…

–Pastor Phillip

GET YOUR LAUNCH LIST BONUSES NOW!

Let's do this together.

WHAT TYPE OF ORGANIZATION IS THIS FOR? (Primarily)