The Phil Files

Musings & messages on everyday worship, Jesus, and the stuff of life.

Archive for April, 2008

Psalm 37: Wait Patiently

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Do not fret because of those who are evil
      or be envious of those who do wrong;
   for like the grass they will soon wither,
      like green plants they will soon die away.

   Trust in the LORD and do good;
      dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
   Take delight in the LORD
      and he will give you the desires of your heart.

   Commit your way to the LORD;
      trust in him and he will do this:
   He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
      your vindication like the noonday sun.
   Be still before the LORD
      and wait patiently for him;
   do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
      when they carry out their wicked schemes.

   Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
      do not fret — it leads only to evil.
   For those who are evil will be destroyed,
      but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

   A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
      though you look for them, they will not be found.
   But the meek will inherit the land
      and enjoy peace and prosperity.

   The wicked plot against the righteous
      and gnash their teeth at them;
   but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
   for he knows their day is coming.

   The wicked draw the sword
      and bend the bow
   to bring down the poor and needy,
      to slay those whose ways are upright.
   But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
      and their bows will be broken.

   Better the little that the righteous have
      than the wealth of many wicked;
   for the power of the wicked will be broken,
   but the LORD upholds the righteous.

   The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
      and their inheritance will endure forever.
   In times of disaster they will not wither;
      in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

   But the wicked will perish:
      Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
      they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
   The wicked borrow and do not repay,
      but the righteous give generously;
   those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
   but those he curses will be destroyed.

   The LORD makes firm the steps
      of those who delight in him;
   though they stumble, they will not fall,
   for the LORD upholds them with his hand.

   I was young and now I am old,
      yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
      or their children begging bread.
   They are always generous and lend freely;
      their children will be a blessing.

   Turn from evil and do good;
      then you will dwell in the land forever.
   For the LORD loves the just
      and will not forsake his faithful ones.
   Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
      the offspring of the wicked will perish.
   The righteous will inherit the land
      and dwell in it forever.

   The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
      and their tongues speak what is just.
   The law of their God is in their hearts;
      their feet do not slip.

   The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
      seeking their very lives;
   but the LORD will not leave them in their power
   or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

   Hope in the LORD
      and keep his way.
   He will exalt you to inherit the land;
      when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

   I have seen the wicked and ruthless
      flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
   but they soon passed away and were no more;
   though I looked for them, they could not be found.

   Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
      a future awaits those who seek peace.
   But all sinners will be destroyed;
      there will be no future for the wicked.

   The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
      he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
   The LORD helps them and delivers them;
      he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
      because they take refuge in him.

\o/ — Comments Psalm 37: Wait patiently for him! — \o/

Repeatedly this psalm reminds us that if our hearts are set on the way of the Lord, He will give us the desire of our hart. For the psalmist and the people of his day, this clearly had to do with regaining control of their la nd — notice how often he talks about inheriiting the land, a phrase Jesus puts in His beattitudes: The meek will inherit the earth.

The tough and vital ingredient for us in these amazing promises, however, ar found in the troubling words, “Wait patiently for him.” Like Isaiah’s incedible promises in 40:28-31. But again, the key is waiting on the Lord. Even though I am getting older, like the psalmist describes himself, I find waitng is not easier, but harder and getting things done for the Kingdom seem even more urgent. Waiting is hard! How about you?

Why not pray for each other’s patient endurance, our ability to be meek, to trust, to desire the things of God, and to … wait!

Written by phil

April 20th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Sometimes, Jesus

with one comment

Sometimes, Jesus, I really miss you. I guess I should be able to say that more often … or maybe should never have to say it. Either way, no matter what the “should’s” say, there’s no real future in trying to pretend: some days, I just miss you.

I have to confess, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks with all sorts of medical craziness in our family. Thankfully it’s all gone well. But, I’ve gotten busy doing ministry, studying for others, taking care of family, doing the hospital deal, and I’ve just not heard your voice. Maybe it’s because I’ve let my daily Bible reading get pushed out and quit listening — and of course, I’m supposed to be reading in the Gospel of Mark which is all about you. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been listening very well. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you show up and help people and make a difference in their lives. Maybe it’s because life is just that way some times — kinda like when you are around someone all the time, but still miss them because you just don’t quite get to connect.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know I’ve missed you this week and that I’m listening for you.

To help me unstop my ears, I read that story about you and Mary Magdalene at the tomb (John 20:11-16 ERV). She called you “Lord” even though she thought you were dead. Then You, Jesus, called her by name, and she knew it was You who were calling her name. “Rabboni!” she cried out. To me, it’s one of the most powerful moments in your whole story.

When I miss you, Jesus, I like to read that story. I hope and trust that when you call my name, I will know it’s Your voice.

Anyway, just wanted you to know.

Written by phil

April 19th, 2008 at 10:14 am

Release from Poverty?

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After yesterday’s post and a few bits of feedback and some healthy skepticism about the good of donating to certain relief efforts, I would like share two things with you.

First, my own experience with the child we sponsor in Uganda with Compassion.

Medical-RecordsWhat you see are the medical treatment records of our sponsored child, Doreen. These records were more than an inch thick. They were carefully taken and tracked.

Doreen was brought into the Compassion’ Child Survival Program at 1 year old because she was felt to be at high risk. Without medical treatment, immunizations, regular doctor’s visits, mosquito nets for her bed, treatment for her mom, training for her mom and grandmom, Doreen and I would probably have never met because she would have not survived the two and a half years before I met her.

The second picture, of Doreen with me, reveals to you how great a tragedy that would have been for both Doreen and her family, as well as my family and me. Where God will take Doreen, how she will respond to the love of God and the opportunities she has, are really outside my control. But, I can help give her a chance Our-Compassion-Childat life, a group of people who will help her meet Jesus, my daily prayers, notes and cards, and the assurance of the basics of life — in other words, I can help release her to have an opportunity at life — for about 110 pennies a day!

Second, I’d like to point you to my friend, Shaun’s blog to learn more about what it means to “release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” Check out Shaun’s clear and vivid explanation.

You see, we’re not donating to a cause or an organization, we’re helping children … we know … we’ve held … and we pray we’ll know forever.

Click the Sponsor a Child with Compassion button at the top right and see for yourself!

Written by phil

April 17th, 2008 at 10:44 am

Genuine Compassion?

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Bite-Back-Image-CompassionAre you immune yet? I’m not talking about immunity to a biological disease, I’m talking about an immunity to a very needed God-inspired human virtue, genuine compassion.

Movies, advertisers, preachers, fund raisers, sportscasters, politicians, and a host of others, frequently play with our emotions and generate feelings of empathy, sympathy, and pity for people, events, and situations. Over time, we begin to associate compassion with feelings, emotions, and intentions. Before we know it, just having the emotion makes us feel like we have compassion.

As followers of Jesus, however, we need to hear everything in our Bible heritage remind us of one simple truth: compassion isn’t genuine compassion until intention becomes action.

Don’t mis-hear me on this: our intentions and motivations and emotions ARE important. But, these are not compassion, at least not from God’s point of view.

God demonstrates compassion by becoming human flesh and living among us as Jesus — it was not “tender compassion” until God’s concern for us was demonstrated by His action of becoming one of us (Luke 1:78 NLT). Notice how frequently God’s love, concern, and compassion are identified with His actions on our behalf (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:8-10 NLT) and how God’s compassion for us should be completed by our compassionate action for others (1 John 4:8-10 NLT). Jesus even teaches this truth about compassion in two of His most famous parables.

Remember in the story of the “Good Samaritan” how the Priest and the Levite walked on past the man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. But the one who had compassion for this battered man was the Samaritan, who got down off his “high horse” (Okay, it was really a donkey, but “high donkey” just doesn’t seem to have the emotional impact!) and he helped the man. He treated his wounds, bandaged the stranger, put the wounded man on his donkey, put him up in an inn, and paid the man’s way until he was healed. (See Luke 10:30-37 NLT for details, notice especially vs. 33.)

In the famous story of the rebellious son, Jesus tells about the father who had compassion for his wayward child. When the father saw him at a distance, he had compassion on him and ran to meet him, hug him, and welcome this son home. (Luke 15:11-32 NLT, especially vs. 20.)

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, the Lord’s compassion moved Him to actions like, touching and healing lepers, mending the broken and the blind, feeding the hungry masses, teaching the confused and shepherdless crowds, raising from the dead a widow’s only son, and defeating the demonic powers controlling the hopeless. (Follow this link for details in the ministry of Jesus about His compassion — you may want to download the Greek and Hebrew fonts to use the language resources.)In cornbread English, feeling concern and empathy for folks in need is good. We don’t want our hearts to become immune or callused to human suffering. However, we must remember that good intentions don’t become compassion until they move us to action. In the picture above, four key elements of compassion come together with mosquito bed nets for the baby and her mom, a worker from the church to do regular check ups and also Bible mentoring, sponsors who help provide regular support, and medical care with good records — all part of Compassion International’s ministry to kids.

And here is a great way to demonstrate our compassion. April 25 is World Malaria Day. The leading killer of children in many tropical countries is malaria. Having been to Uganda, a number of us know first hand what a huge difference in the life of a child a mosquito net for beds truly can be. I’m hoping your concern will move you to two actions regarding this important issue:First, please make a donation to Compassion International’s Malaria Prevention Fund to provide bed nets for children in malaria infested countries.Second, find out more about the effort to “Bite Back” against this awful disease that ravages the lives of thousands of children every day.

Charlotta-Doug-VanPelt-Baby-in-Compassion's CareSo what makes it hard for you to move from compassionate feelings to genuine compassion in action?

  • Seen too many ads and heart too many pleas to really be moved?
  • Don’t trust the websites for donating or helping?
  • Want to help, but not sure I can?
  • None of the above, I’m ready to help right now!

Today we’re joining Randy Elrod for WaterCooler Wednesday and reminding ourselves the ultimate creative active is to give someone at chance at life.

Written by phil

April 15th, 2008 at 10:48 pm

The Lord’s Take?

with 6 comments

In my article today, rather than give my opinion on the subject of paying taxes and handling money, I share some insights from Scripture. However, there are still some questions I’d love some input from others on:

Does doing taxes make you nervous or give you heartburn?

Are there things the government spends money on that make uncomfortable supporting through taxes?

Would you support through financial gifts a “widows” and “paupers” and “missionaries” fund in your church if it was fully tax deductible — i.e., it was removed from your gross income before taxes?

What’s your take on all this tax stuff or are you afraid to even post one?

Written by phil

April 14th, 2008 at 8:44 am

Psalm 36: The Long Faithfulness

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I have a message from God in my heart
      concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
   There is no fear of God
      before their eyes.

   In their own eyes they flatter themselves
      too much to detect or hate their sin.
   The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
      they have ceased to be wise and to do good.
   Even on their beds they plot evil;
      they commit themselves to a sinful course
      and do not reject what is wrong.

   Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
      your faithfulness to the skies.
   Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
      your justice like the great deep.
      You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
   How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
   People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
   They feast on the abundance of your house;
      you give them drink from your river of delights.
   For with you is the fountain of life;
      in your light we see light.

   Continue your love to those who know you,
      your righteousness to the upright in heart.
   May the foot of the proud not come against me,
      nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
   See how the evildoers lie fallen —
      thrown down, not able to rise!

\o/ — Comments Psalm 35: Continue your love to those who know you! — \o/

We could call this psalm the collision of two ways.

One way, the first way emphasized, is the way of the wicked. They continually do evil and plot to do more. Their way is wicked, vile, and arrogant. It is everything that God is not and love everything that God detests. The psalmist recognizes the truth about those who are wicked!

The other way, the way emphasized second, is the way of the LORD. Notice how God’s way is described: love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice. Those who are the LORD’s people are blessed by these qualities of God and find delight in His presence — the light of God.

So what am I to make of this? How does this psalm intersect my life? I join the psalmist plea for God to be God. I also pledge to align my heart and my life with His character. Rather than being deceived by the temporary “success” of those who are evil, I remember the long faithfulness of God. Rather than being “co-opted” by the evil and deceptive shortcut ways of those who are false, I choose to trust that God will act in behalf of His people. I trust to see the defeat of the wicked even before the first steps of their defeat are visible, for I know that the LORD, and those who honor Him, will ultimately triumph.

Written by phil

April 13th, 2008 at 7:07 pm