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.

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

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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.

God’s gospel is about God’s glory

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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

Vision, Distraction, and Expectations

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“So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.  Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’”  (Nehemiah 6:3)

Fulfilling a vision means being able to say no to the distractions of less important things.  It requires boldness and determination, and a willingness to hold the line even (and especially) in the face of criticism.

When it seems like everyone is pressing and everything is urgent, just remember this.  Don’t let the expectations of others derail the destiny God has for your life.

–Pastor Phillip

Why people flocked to John

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Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to [John], and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.  (Matthew 3:5-6)

Why did people flock to John?  Some came out of curiosity, to be sure, perhaps even many or most of them.  Yet, even they were drawn by something deeper, because their visit resulted in repentance.  Surely this can only be the result of the supernatural hand of God, stirring hearts in need of repentance towards a desire for repentance!

After all, John is not portrayed as a particularly eloquent or crowd-pleasing speaker, so the delivery wasn’t the key.  He was in the wilderness, not a lovely temple, so the environment wasn’t the draw.  He was dressed in rough garments, not in fine clothes that signified authority or appeal, so that wasn’t it, either.

No, it was simply a Spirit thing.

John served as a focal point for something God already wanted to do.  He was not the cause, only a catalyst, and even that was not because of his own noble choice.  It was because God called him.

So, here is the deep question for us today: if we want to see people come to faith in Christ and rally to repentance, what should we do?

Here are three suggestions…

  1. We should “Make every effort to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by focusing on our personal walk with God.  It is doubtful John thought of making the desert his home base on his own.  Surely this must have been revealed through his intimate relationship with God.  This is why prayer is vital.
  2. We should pay attention to the times and seasons of the world around us.  What is God already doing?  How is He already stirring hearts and preparing them to respond to a catalyst?
  3. We must obey God when He tells us what to do, no matter how uncomfortable or unorthodox the instruction may seem.  I doubt locusts, wild honey, desert life and came-hair clothing would have been at the top of John’s list of goals for his life, but there he was, being faithful…

And God responded in amazing ways.

–Pastor Phillip

God is delighted when you delight in Him

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.  Let the godly exult in glory, let them sing for joy on their beds.  (Psalm 149:4-5)

God doesn’t get the most glory out of the submission of slaves, but from the celebration of sons and daughters.  His greatest desire isn’t that people would obey Him out of the fear of punishment, but that they would worship Him out of delight at the reward of His pleasure.

He is a loving Father who wants the greatest good and the deepest joy for His children, and He knows that these things only come when we walk in fellowship with Him.

So, let God Himself be your treasure today, and as you do, you can have confidence that you’re pleasing Him because of this truth.

God is delighted when you delight in Him.

–Pastor Phillip

All of creation brings praise to the Lord

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling His word.
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!  Kings of the earth and all people, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted, His majesty is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148:7-13)

When you sing praise to God, you aren’t the only one bringing Him worship.

Right now, at this very moment, all of heaven and earth are giving glory to Him.  This means that when you sing praise to God, you are joining in the chorus of all the universe that has been flowing since time itself began!

Take time today to lift your head up out of the details of your little life, and be motivated by this truth…

All of creation bring praise to the Lord.

–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

The Paper Clip [An Encouraging Word]

I confess, I probably love paper clips a little too much.

I am that guy who will throw away a whole stack of papers but remove the paper clips first so I can reuse them. I carry two of them on my keychain and others in my car. I’ve used them for clipping papers, of course, but also for picking toy handcuff locks (when I was younger), for resetting any number of little electronic devices, and even for cleaning under my fingernails.

I love paper clips.

The Paper ClipThat’s one reason I noticed it the moment I sat down at the long, dark brown wooden table at Starbucks: a jumbo silver paper clip, abandoned and unused by a previous guest. It had curves in all the right places, and boy did it shine.

I wondered why on earth someone would leave a perfectly good paper clip behind. Why not take it with them? Why not use it again? Why the waste?

I started to ponder what its use had been before I found it. School assignments? Job applications? Legal documents?

Then I had this thought: even though I didn’t know WHAT its purpose had been, I knew THAT it had a purpose once and could have one again in the right hands.

Even though someone else hadn’t considered it worth bringing along, that paper clip still had usefulness left in it, still had value, still had potential if someone was willing to give it a shot.

Just like the people in the coffee shop that day.

Just like me.

Just like you.

When the Bible teaches that, “God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female…” (Genesis 1:27), it isn’t just making a theological point. It’s revealing a personal promise.

If you’re human, then it doesn’t matter what other people have said about you or done to you; GOD says you have value and potential and worth just because you’re you.

If you’re human, then whether you’ve been lifted up or trampled down by this life, GOD says you can have power and purpose and hope in Him!

I picked up that paperclip because I saw there was still life left in it.

May you look to Jesus today and let Him pick you up, because He knows that wherever you’ve been, and whatever you’ve been through, there’s still life left in you.

–Pastor Phillip

Prepare the Way (Luke 3:4b)

Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight.  (Luke 3:4b)

John’s job was to ready the masses to receive the Messiah.  His task was to “make His paths straight,” not because Jesus wasn’t able to find His own way into people’s hearts, but because people always have barriers that prevent a clear view of who Jesus really is.

John’s job was to clear away any obstacles that might have kept people from seeing and responding to Jesus.

Now, that job belongs to you and me.

–Pastor Phillip

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