Reminded of the Promise

Dear Lord; Happy Wednesday Father!

Over the past couple weeks Father, I’ve been listening to and enjoying a sermon series called “Times and Seasons” preached by Steven Furtick, the lead pastor over at Elevation Church.  It’s been a powerful series for me so far Lord, and has touched on some areas of my life that are very raw right this moment.  This morning as I pondered the most recent message I’d listened to, You placed on my heart a guest post I wrote for Healthy Spirituality a couple years back.  I chased down the document containing the post, and as I reread the words You’d given me during a very different season of my life it dawned on me that even now, Your Promise still holds true…

The Promise





Such is the way many choose to view the winter landscape.

And yet,

I believe that winter carries with it a deeper message;

A Promise from God.

I absolutely love taking long, quiet walks in the woods; spending that communion time with my Heavenly Father, surrounded in the majesty of His bounty.  In that Stillness, I find that I feel powerfully connected to God’s presence, and He’s used those moments of intimacy to bring me some wonderful revelations.

I try to visit our local forest as often as possible, even during the “less comfortable” seasons.  Seeing the many transitions and phases of God’s creation never fails to unveil new truths to me, and whatever the conditions are I always come away feeling Blessed for my time there…

Even in the dead of winter.

Hmmm… The “dead” of winter…

Not a very accurate description in my opinion.

I actually enjoy walking through the woods in the winter months.  Strolling among the leafless timbers, the barren landscape lies in stark contrast to the lush foliage that normally fills the scene.  And yet, while first impressions are that all life has left this place, nothing could be further from the truth…

Life still resides here…


Promising to burst forth and begin anew with the breath of spring…

Just as God designed it to.

And Funny enough, He designed our lives that way as well.  Like that forest, our paths are bound to the seasons God lays out for us…

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time
for war, and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

Times of abundance, and periods of trial; both are gifts from God.  We celebrate those moments when His Blessings shine brightly all around us, and yet those times of wanting are also cause to rejoice…

When instead of dwelling on our pain,

We give thanks for His promise;

The promise that it is in fact, a season,

And that in the “dead” of our Winters, there is still life,

And there is still love.

Thank You for our Winters Lord, and Your promise of the Springs ahead.


~Phather Phil

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And There Was a Great Calm

Dear Lord; Happy Tuesday Father!

You know Lord, it’s a vicious circle we face.

Storms erupt around us in our lives; casting the shadow of doubt upon our hearts and threatening to draw our focus from the peace You freely offer.  We allow fear to gain hold, and from there we proceed not from faith but instead become driven by our false perception that for some reason, You’re not interested in our current plight.

Eventually, the waters recede as they always do and in our illuminated hindsight we realize that once again You’ve led us through… Unshaken by our circumstances, and unwavering in Your love.

Yesterday as I pondered this recurring tendency to doubt that we all seem to have, You placed in my heart a reminder that we’re in good company…

“As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”” – Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)

Now these were men Lord, that had personally witnessed You performing miracles and seen firsthand Your divine Love at work…

But still they doubted.

And over the course of my life Father I’ve seen Your hand in so many places, and experienced Your love in so many beautiful ways…

And yet, I also allow those doubts to cloud my heart.

Thankfully Lord,

You remain unshaken by our fears…

Unwavering in Your devotion…

And stalwart in Your love for us.

So when the storms rage about us and our hearts feel that grip Lord, I pray You help us see beyond those crashing waves; resolute in the knowledge that You’re in that boat with us and that soon we’ll once again be able to state…

“And there was a great calm…”

For it’s in Your precious name I pray Jesus,


~Phather Phil

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Today and Every Day

Dear Lord; Happy Thursday Father!

It’s unfair.

How many times have I felt this way Lord…

How many times?

When its seemed as if the problems and struggles of this life were threatening to engulf me, how many times have I cried out to You…

“Why Father?!?”


And in those anxious moments as my heart flitters on the edge of despair, dark questions flood to mind seeking to pull me from the anchor of my faith.

Such was the case this morning as I made my way towards the office; contemplating the situations that I knew awaited me just down the road and fervently petitioning You for aid and guidance.  Awash in a sea of concerns, my thoughts aimed to betray Your peace as my heart fought to regain it’s footing in Truth.

And somewhere in the midst of that flustered conversation Lord, I heard Your small, still voice whisper


And a new song started playing on the radio…

“Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It’s unfair”

I’d heard these lyrics sung many times before Father, but this morning through Your prompting I allowed the powerful truth in these verses to answer my need…

“This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.”

In spending my energies to focus on my struggles and allowing frustrations to cloud my thoughts, I was missing the bigger picture…

Through all of my nightmares and all of my trials, You’ve always been there…

Holding me when my world seemed most fragile…

And today would be no different.

So thank You Lord, for holding true to Your loving promise,

Today and every day.


~Phather Phil

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All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Jesus

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;

I will pay them back,”

says the Lord.


“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.

If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap

burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:6-21(NLT)

Long before Robert Fulghum penned his famous “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, the Apostle Paul detailed in his Epistle to the Romans some similarly clear and practical directives for showing and sharing God’s love, and for striving to live as Jesus’ perfect example gave precedent for us to do.

~Phather Phil

Becoming “Fruit Inspectors”

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” – Matthew 7:15-20 (NLT)

It’s very important that as Christians we become “fruit inspectors” when listening to or reading teachings from others.  While it’s important that the words they use strive to relay the truths and proper context in Scripture, it’s just as vital to examine the manner in which they show Christ’s love to others and try to live those messages out.

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