The Phil Files

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

Archive for November, 2009


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Our family has enjoyed an incredibly blessed Thanksgiving season, enjoying being together, sharing good food, and the presence of a precious little guest that is the foster baby our kids are caring for at this time. This Thanksgiving has been wonderful!

Other Thanksgiving celebrations have been filled with other things. Misunderstandings, unexpected deaths, difficult illnesses, hard travel, and hurt feelings. Like you, I’m sure, the travel season of the holidays is a wondrous and sometimes worrisome time. In response to both, I will begin a short series of messages on called Traveling Mercies about some of the more famous journeys made by God’s people of faith. Next week (December 3), I hope to look  Moses, the following will be Ruth (December 10), then we will focus on Joseph and Mary and their trip to Bethlehem (December 17). The final week of the year, we will look at Saul’s trip to Damascus on the final day of the year, we will anticipate where God is going to take us this next year.

As you travel, I hope you will think about the following questions and pray that God will fill your season with His presence and that your joy will bless others. This Thanksgiving, I hope you will think about the following (these go with the week article called, “The Long Wait”):

What is your most memorable Thanksgiving for good reasons?

What is your most regrettable Thanksgiving?

Most of the time, we talk about Thanksgiving as the holiday that is good and Christmas as the one that is commercialized.

* Why do think this is so?

* Which holiday do you like better and why?

* How can you make Thanksgiving more full of the joy of Jesus’ coming and Christmas more full of thanksgiving for what God has done for us?

* Why are both celebrations important for us as God’s people?

What can you do to prepare your heart and your family for a more proper approach to the Christmas season?

Written by phil

November 25th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Posted in BLOGSTUFF,Heartlight


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Do not read that as an emphasis on ego. Think of it as a question you ask to God … as a recognition that you are not good enough, equipped enough, smart enough, or whatever enough you feel you lack.


That was Moses’ question to God in Exodus 3. In fact, Moses made a whole lot of excuses about why it couldn’t be “ME?”

Moses was thrilled God had heard, seen, and understood His people’s sufferings. After all, those sufferings are what got Moses run out of Egypt and sent him chasing woolies in the wilderness for 40 years. So when God said He was coming to deliver His people, Moses’ heart must have skipped a beat or two with excitement. But when God said the way He was coming down to deliver His people was through Moses, well, let’s just say Moses’ heart stopped and his stuttering began.

“ME? No way!” And then the questions and excuses began.

  • “Who am I that I should go?” (3:11)
  • “What is Your name? Who should I say has sent me?” (3:13)
  • “Why would the people believe you sent me to deliver them?” (4:1)
  • “Where will I get the ability to lead since I can’t speak very well?” (4:10)
  • “Why don’t you just pick someone else?” (4:13)

So what is God asking you to do?

Why do you keep answering, “ME?”

Admit it: you’ve been wondering, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” So maybe you are that “somebody” — for more on this see my piece this week and also look at Rubel Shelly’s article called “Mercy”!

And for those who are church leaders, let’s quit saying “ME?” and get back to building churches the way Jesus wanted them built. See Frances Chan’s convicting article, “The Comfortable Substitute!”

“ME?” To which God says, “Absolutely, you betcha, get on with it!”

Written by phil

November 20th, 2009 at 10:45 am

Greatest Joy

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All of us are put into relationships, networks, situations, jobs, and circumstances where we exercise influence and leadership. What is your greatest joy in those areas of influence?

That’s a much more important question than you might imagine. When Jesus gave the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), the Lord wasn’t laying down a plan for evangelism. No, Jesus’ words push us much deeper than simply sharing the Good News of the Kingdom. Look more closely and you will see the key verb can literally be translated “disciple” — it’s nearly always translated “make disciples” but the focus is on going to people, leading them to the point of baptism, and then walking beside them until the truth of Jesus comes alive in them. This is far more than sharing a gospel presentation. This is a commitment to pass on our our passion and it is a passion to pass on our commitment!

In my post in this week, “The Greatest Glory,” I emphasize that a leader — parent, teacher, coach, counselor, manager, boss, friend, etc. — finds his or her greatest joy in seeing someone he or she has trained investing and forming others. Take a look at that post and then I’d really like to hear from you about the questions at the end of the post:

Who is someone who has invested in you to help you become the woman or man of God that you are today?

  • What would you like to say about them to thank them for their investment?
  • When was the last time you said it?
  • Why not write them a note and thank them now if they are still living and if they have gone to be with the Lord, then thank one of their children or grandchildren telling them about this person who made such a difference in your life?

Who is someone in whom you are investing — or should be investing — your passion, values, and goals?

  • What skills and character qualities do you see in them?
  • How can they bless the Kingdom of God?
  • When was the last time you told them these things?
  • How are you going to share these things with them in the near future?

A friend once said, “We can’t live for our children, that’s too limited a horizon. We must live for our grandchildren! That means we’ve got to help our children pass on to our grandchildren what we hold as most valuable to us.”

What do you think about this thought?

  • How does this more accurately reflect what Paul taught to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-2)?
  • How did Jesus embody this principle of passing on faith to multiple generations?
  • How can you embody this principle in your relationships?

What is your greatest glory and joy in your influence and leadership of others?

Written by phil

November 11th, 2009 at 11:22 am

Posted in Heartlight

I Wish I Had Thought of That

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On November 2nd, we saw our first Christmas commercials on TV. I couldn’t believe it — well, I guess I could, but you know what I mean. I hadn’t even thought about turkey and dressing and here were Christmas commercials. I love Christmas, but I would at least like to keep the commercial side of it confined to December, or to at least the post-Thanksgiving mayhem.

One of our annual Christmas traditions is to either watch Christmas Vacation, or at least talk about our favorite parts of it. One of my favorite things is Sparky’s (aka Clark Griswold) desire to have the best lights and decorations on his house and in his lawn. Part of my love for this parody and the humor involved in the whole lighting extravaganza at the Griswold home is based on having lived next door to someone who actually went that overboard with decorations. So to my great delight, a fellow staff member forwarded me the following picture. I only wish I had thought of this!

I Wish I Had Thought of This!

I Wish I Had Thought of This!

Written by phil

November 9th, 2009 at 2:28 pm


Chuckle or Two

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Okay, so it’s been a bit on the tough and serious side this week, so I took a moment to enjoy some silly and light hearted stuff on the web this beautiful morning. It all started when a friend sent me the link to this cute take on being one of God’s lamb, to the old Beach Boys tune of Barbara Ann (sorry, it can’t be embedded, but it’s worth a peak just for fun):  Baa, Baa, Baa, Baa We’re Lambs

Of course, I can’t leave out my wife’s favorite chuckler, Flex the Golden Pipes!:

Of course, I can’t leave out the baby giggles times 4:

Okay, so I know it ain’t serious stuff today, but sometimes I need a serious dose of the sacred gift of laughter. Today is one of those days! If God could name one of the three great patriarchs of Israel Isaac (which means laughter), then I’m going to have a little chuckle before I start what will be a hard day. Grace to you and I hope you find more than a touch or two of joy in your day!

Written by phil

November 4th, 2009 at 8:07 am