The Phil Files

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

Archive for the ‘Heartlight’ Category


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Well, I put out a couple of invitations for folks to join the SpiritFire daily email devotional list with Heartlight and have been entering email addresses ever since. (The email list is a free, year long, daily devotional on the Holy Spirit that I am doing in 2010. You can sign up by sending an email to Seems like there is a deep hunger to know more about the Holy Spirit and be drawn closer in relationship with God’s abiding presence within us.

Here’s one that is especially close to my heart because we have Congolese refugees as part of our church family. This young man lives as a refugee in another African country:

Hi, I’m Freddy, a young Congolese student in the south, living for Christ no matter all winds that I’m going through, but thank God through what I’ve read about Heaven’s Fresh Air (the Holy Spirit) …

This was a response from a sister in Christ, and this challenges me today on my birthday as I look at finishing strong for the Lord!

Please include me on your mailing list. I do want to go above and beyond where I have been. I do more today that I did 5 years ago and I fully intend to head out beyond that. The Lord has graciously given me open doors and I want to pass through those doors with the passion required.

Too often we forget that we are part of a world-wide Kingdom that knows no genders or races and transcends cultures and languages. Receiving emails from all over the world, it has been a joy to see the variety of names and countries and know that while “blood is thicker than water,” the Spirit that binds us together in the Body of Christ is thicker than blood!

Over the next year, I’m committed to focus throughout the year to reminding us that God wants us to be …

* Spirit-cleansed

* Spirit-filled

* Spirit-led

* Spirit-equipped

* Spirit-empowered

Please pray for me as I try to share God’s great and gracious promises given to us through the Holy Spirit. No one is really sufficient for such a task. But I am pumped about the interest and passion I’ve seen in others. Let’s pray for Holy Spirit revival to sweep like wildfire through the people of God all over the world!

Grace to you for a great New Year as we serve the King of Glory and serve the world as the Body of Christ!

Here are the questions that go with today’s article entitled, ASK!

When is the last time you have prayed for God to release his powerful presence in your life through the Holy Spirit?

When is the last time you have prayed that God release his powerful presence into the life of a believing friend or family member?

Why do you think so many believers have neglected or don’t even know that God has promised the Holy Spirit to believers who ask for him?

Who is someone you can get together with regularly to help you stay on track in your daily prayer for the Spirit of God to be released into your life and the lives of those you love?

What are some Scriptures that speak to you about the five ways God wants us to be blessed by the Holy Spirit?

* Spirit-cleansed

* Spirit-filled

* Spirit-led

* Spirit-equipped

* Spirit-empowered

Written by phil

December 31st, 2009 at 9:35 am

Back in the Saddle

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We are back from being gone for two weeks and I’m officially ending my Twitter and Blog silence!

We had a great visit with our kids in Lexington, Kentucky who are caring for an emergency situation with a foster baby and couldn’t leave town to come see us and so we packed up and went to see them for the week of Thanksgiving. Last week I was south of Fort Stockton stalking Mule Deer in the cold, wind, sleet, snow, and rain in an open jeep. Like most crazy outdoor loving dudes, I loved every minute of it!

I’m excited about a couple of things coming up.

Our church is hosting the second Community Christmas Celebration at the Abilene Civic Center on December 20th at 10:00 a.m. We had folks from the Abilene community and the surrounding Big Country come last year. Brandon Scott Thomas, of Zoe, will be leading our worship time. We will be making a special presentation to our Habitat for Humanity family as well as remembering the incarnation of God in human flesh.

The big thing I’m working on and very excited about is the SpiritFire email list for 2010. It will be a daily devotional focusing on the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It will be added to the Heartlight devotional offerings and we will be offering to everyone in our church. If you are interested, just send an email to and say, “Add me to the list!” We’ll be working on the details next week, but so far, the response has been very good!

Grace to you for a great weekend.


Written by phil

December 11th, 2009 at 9:52 am

Posted in BLOGSTUFF,Heartlight


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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


with 4 comments


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

Kingdom above Claims

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Today in my article, Drop the Rope!, I talk about the way we end up playing tug-of-war over a lot of issues that we need to simply agree on — or at least agree to see things a little differently from each other. One key, the focus of the article, is on whether we take mission trips or service trips. Somewhere along the way, the Kingdom of God has got to become more important than our claims to being right about an issue. Of course this applies across the board to a number of issues beside this one.

Pray the Lord’s prayer with me today, focusing on crying out for the Kingdom to come and then let’s ask ourselves some questions about our passion for the Kingdom!

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

For yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

What is an area of spiritual life where you have caught yourself wanting to be right — win an argument — and have lost sight of your passion for God’s rule to break into our world and for God’s reign in your own heart to control your actions and words?

Why do you think it is so easy for us to get into these religious tug-of-wars instead of caring and sharing with those outside our spiritual family?

What is missing on a service trip in Jesus’ name when folks don’t look for opportunities to share the story of Jesus?

What is missing in a mission trip if folks preach and teach in Jesus’ name, but don’t serve others as Jesus did or treat others along the way as Jesus did?

* Which is harder for you, sharing the story of Jesus or caring for those in need?

* Why is one harder than the other?

* What can you do to grow in both areas, but especially in the area of weakness?

* What can we all do to ensure that our efforts in mission trips and in daily life include both caring and sharing?

Written by phil

October 15th, 2009 at 6:39 am