Thursday, March 30, 2017

A little change of Direction for us

Brenda and I have been telling a lot of folks, over the last couple of months, about our newest change of DIRECTION.  As I wrote before, we felt clearly called by G^d to pack up our stuff, leave part of our family, and move to another land, Lynchburg VA. The Biblical precedent for this is ample in such cases as Abram, Moses, Joshua, etc.  We felt clearly called to come to Liberty University.

But now G^d has called us to move again. This time we hope to move soon BACK to AL!  Yes, G^d spoke again in January, calling us to leave this job and locale and join with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) Faculty Ministry.  We have been associate with this ministry for 32 years.  and, we are extremely excited to change our course of travel once again!!!

What does this new venture involve?  Well, we aren't totally sure.  We envision being on university and college campi around the SE, around the USA, and around the world, encouraging and teaching faculty how to impact their campus for the Christ.  We will serve, speak (Phil), love (Brenda setting the pace, me trying to learn and keep up), and minister to Christian faculty, and Christian Graduate and undergraduate students,  at every opportunity.

Most Cru staff have to spend considerable time and energy in raising their own salary.  Thanks be to G^d that HE has provided us with ample resources through our Social Security and retirement benefits.  The only support we will need, in order of importance is:
and travel expenses.

Please PRAY that the Holy Spirit will work in OUR lives and the lives of those to whom we are ministering.

We'll put a bit more in my next post.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Blessings of ... Persecution

I am going to make a bet.  I bet the LEAST popular Scripture in the Newer Testament is 2 Tim 3:12.

What's so unpopular about 2 Tim 3:12?  Well, see for yourself-

"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

What!  Persecution!  No one said anything about that!  I signed on for the health and wealth, not persecution.

Indeed.  I understand.  Most of us, naturally, flee persecution- or avoid it by avoiding any mention of our faith in Jesus the Christ.

Last Sunday, Our pastor made a connection between the verses in Matthew 5:9-11, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Blessed are Peacemakers- who often are persecuted.  But there are lots of opps for those of us who are NOT peacemakers to also suffer persecution- and look at the rewards!!
If we believe this Scripture, why are we so loathe to talk about persecution, and why are we so scared to face it?
No, seriously, why?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Your Name Matters!

My dad's favorite Scripture was from Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, And loving favor rather than silver and gold."  He valued having a reputation as a humble follower of Jesus, as a hard worker, and as a good father and husband.  He was all of those and well respected.

Many of us were named for someone.  My first name, Phillip, is spelled with two "l's" because it came from my step grandfather's last name.  My middle name is the same as my own dad's.  That is, names have meaning, whether your parents simply like the sound, or some other basis.

G^d seems to take names seriously, changing the names of many Bible characters like Abram, Jacob, Saul, and may more.  For whatever reason, and including vanity, I usually like to hear my own name called.  Knowing this, I gave two talks recently at a Cru Faculty Commons conference in Orlando.  In my talks I attempted to call as many names of the participants as I could.  No one mentioned my doing this, and I am unsure if other people like hearing their names called.

Because I get to speak a lot, I NEED YOUR HELP!  Give me a call, an email, or comment below.  

DO you LIKE hearing your name called as I do, or does it make you uncomfortable?

I love your name, and like to call it out in my talks.  Help me out here folks.

Monday, March 20, 2017

"I didn't know that YOU were a Christian- Part 2"

In my last post, I asked the question, "Who among your family, friends and acquaintances would KNOW that you are a Follower of the Christ?"

There is a big NEGATIVE side to that question, that might have occurred to some of you, as it did to me.  What could be negative about it?  you ask.

Well, sadly, very sadly, in today's culture, especially in the USA, some folks view Christians as judgemental, condemning, condescending, right-wing, anti-gay hypocrites.

Sad, sad indeed.

Now don't get me wrong.  Jesus clearly said in Matthew 5, "11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you."  Some folks will condemn us, say evil against us FALSELY because of Jesus.  I am NOT talking about that.  I am talking about when they say evil against us- and it's TRUE!!

We Believers are the representatives (e.g. ambassadors in 2 Corinth 5:20) of Jesus Christ. We are NOT representative of the Jewish Pharisees who had the negative reputation described earlier.  We are representatives of Jesus who said, "For even the Son of Man came not to BE SERVED, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Oh that nonbelievers would say that about me... and about you.  He is a SERVANT.  Servants in this day and age are rare.  Be rare, serve in the Name of the Christ!

We OUGHT to act like it. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"I didn't know that YOU were a Christian- Part 1"

Yesterday's sermon (12 Feb) was very thought provoking.  In it a story was recounted of a person who had known a young man in college.  That young man and gradauted, and later became a Christian.  Upon meeting his old college buddy, and talking a bit, the newer Christian accidently gave what may be the BIGGEST insult in all of Christianity, when he exclaimed, "I didn't know YOU were a Christian!"

Whoa!  What did they just say?

They are saying, effectively, "There is little evidence in your life that you are a Follower of the Christ!"

Sad, very sad.

So, serious question, among your friends, family, acquaintances, who, how many, would KNOW that you are a Follower of the Christ?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Would you be missed- really?

I heard a very stimulating sermon yesterday.  It was about us being salt and light, and it came from the Sermon on the Mount, wherein Jesus, the Christ, says, (Matt 5),
"13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. 16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

The pastor talked about the impact of salt and light and how, when they are missing, they are really noticed.  Then he asked the obvious follow-up, would YOU be missed if you weren't around?

Typically when we think of this, we think or someone dying, and the degree of impact they have on us personally, but I am asking the same question on a broader front.  If you were missing in your neighborhood, would you be missed and why?   In my case, I might be missed, because we might "miss" a pain when it no longer pains us.  But I am asking this in a more positive manner.  Are you having a POSITIVE impact on the world that is your neighbors?


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learning from MY Mistakes

I set a new modern record for NOT going deer hunting.  I hunted 3 times this entire season.  On my last hunt I missed a nice buck.  What makes this noteworthy is that I was sitting in a shooting house, with a good rest for my rifle.  What makes this noteworthy is that the buck was standing still within 50 yards of where I sat.

A couple of days later, it dawned on me that I had made plenty of mistakes over my 50 years of hunting, and even more mistakes over my 67 years of living.  But, as I read in a book this past autumn, mistakes aren’t so bad—IF you learn from them.  I even penned a Deer and Deer Hunting magazine piece on the topic of learning from our mistakes.

We all make mistakes, the question is, am I learning from my mistakes, or just repeating them over and over.

How about you?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Secret Salaries

I am asking a sincere question (not hypothetical).  Why are salaries such secret information?

Now there well may be a good reason for this, I am just a bit unsure about it.  I recall speaking to a group of students in an English as a Second Language Class.  I asked them if they had any questions and they siad they were told NOT to ever ask an American about religion, salaries, or body weight.

I said, hey, you're NOT from around here, so you can get away asking anything you want.  They respondent may NOT answer your question, but they won't be offended that you asked.

On the other hand, if you are a US native, you know not to ask such things.

But again I am unsure as to why this is.  On a few occasions I have felt it was important to tell people, usually Ph.D. or potential Ph.D. students about my salary.  they seemed thrilled that I would share such "persona" information.  Technically, as a state employee for most of my life, my salary was a matter of public record.  Each year the salaries were published and resided in a big book in the Gorgas Library.  Early in my career, I could NOT resist temptation and went over to look at salaries.

A funny thing happened.  For those faculty making MORE than me, I felt I was wronged.   For those making LESS than me, I felt it was entirely fair.  Funny that.

Perhaps this answers my own question.  Perhaps all of us do this all the time, which led some smart person to suggest we simply NOT mention salaries-- and everyone is happier.

This seems a bit sad, that we are so competitive, but it is likely true.  We are indeed fallen.

Why do think talking about salary is off limits?  Should it be?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A brief Defense of Christianity

Christianity seems to be subjected to strong criticism since the US Presidential elections. Lots of folks, even those who claim to be Christians are suddenly full of ideas about how Christians behave badly and think wrongly about... most everything!

Alas, nothing is new under the sun (Sorry folks, that's a Bible quote).  Christianity has been critiqued since the time of Jesus himself.

But before you jump on the over-loaded anti-Christian bandwagon, let me offer a few points for consideration.

  • No one, including the Pope, speaks for all of Christianity,
  • Hospitals, orphanages, disaster relief.

First, no one, including the Pope, speaks for all of Christianity. The bad behavior, and there is no shortage of that, of some Christians, and indeed all Christians at some points in their individual lives, give a bad testimony.  NO WHERE does Christianity promise perfection in its followers.  In fact, quite the opposite, Christianity says that we all are (not were) sinners, saved by grace, attempting, sometimes more than others, to serve the L^rd.  Corporately, the Christian Church has likewise had a less than perfect record- which I point out- is just what Christianity predicts!

But before quitting reading, consider another issue.  I have been fortunate to see a lot of the modern world.  I have seen many hospitals, medical clinics, and volunteer medical services provided the poorest of the poor, with no strong attached by... yes Christians.  the same can be said for orphanages, disaster relief, and many other good works.  I am guessing that somewhere there may be a few of these facilities provided by other groups (not counting governments), including religious ones, but the Christian ones far outnumber the others.  Which is to say, that Christianity has put its money where its mouth is.

In Ephesians the Christian Church is called the bride of Christ.  As my friend Dr. Bob B used to say, "Be careful of criticizing Jesus' bride."


Being "Used" the Good Way!!

Most of the time, whenever we speak of being "used", we are using it in a negative sense.  We feel, on occasion that someone, somehow, used some aspect of our relationship strictly for their personal benefit.

But, being "used" isn't always so bad.  I was just texting a friend, who mentioned that he hoped G^d would "use you (i.e. me) to the max."

And that is a great Blessings.  May G^d "use you to the maximum"!  There is no better thing in life, or even in death, than to be used by the TRUE and LIVING G^d for His divine purposes.  He is Sovereign, He made us, He died for us, and, " Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28).

May G^d use me indeed for His purposes!  And, may G^d use you!  Amen.