Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

I'm sorry, I can't answer that question. I really don't know what tomorrow will bring. All we have is the now. Everything else is a big maybe. God willing I'll be here tomorrow and of course I make plans for tomorrow and beyond, but what tomorrow actually has in store for me, or you for that matter, only God knows. I'm ok with that, aren't you?

Some of my favorite verses in the bible are found in Matthew 6:25-34

Don't Worry!
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Since anouncing that I'm leaving McMinnville and begiining work in Murfreesboro, there seems to be a fear of what's to come. I have associates that have anxiety over who their new Supervisor will be. What will he be like? Will he or she be nice, fair, friendly, bossy, or even mean or tough? What will happen now that Steve's gone? My friends at my church have concerns and wonder who we'll get to lead us in music and worship? Things just won't be the same! What are we going to do now that Steve is leaving?

I understand that I have many friends who will miss me and I also have fallen into the trap of worrying about tomorrow and what the future holds, but these verses help me a lot and remind me that there's really nothing to worry about. God's got it all under control. I keep thinking about the great opportunioties that revolve around me leaving and moving on. Think about the possibilities...

1. After 12 years in one location I've about taught all I know. This is a chance to learn from someone else.
2. A change like this gives everyone a fresh start. It doesn't matter what you've done in the past or where you were in your career path, it's a new fresh start. Whoever comes in doesn't know you and you need to remember they're just as nervous about coming in as you are getting them. It will all work out fine and you can start fresh. Think of this as a great new beginning.
3. It's always good to have a fresh set of eyes looking at things. I'm amazed at the things I don't see after being in one place for so long. You begin to walk past things that you shouldn't. A new set of eyes will see things that I didn't and with everyones help some great things can change and make things better than they were before.
4. The church can move forward in the area of music. I'm so limited on what I offer as far as music goes. I can't read music, and maybe God will open this door so that somebody else can come in that can offer more.
5. Since I don't read music the choir doesn't get to practice much and hopefully we'll get someone that can work more with the choir in the future.
6. Maybe God' will send us an instrumentalist, that would be great. The point I'm making is that God can and will take care of us.
7. For me personaly. This challenge before me renews my excitememnt in the businesss. It's good to take on new challenges and new responsibilities. It's keeps us on our toes. We avoid complacency.

One things for sure... With tomorrow comes new life! New beginnings, and chanllenges await us all. We need to embrace the new day. When we get up in the morning, thank God for another day and live it for him! Live for him in your work! Live for him in your church! Live for him and you won't have to worry anymore. God has this amazing ability to provide for all of our needs. Verse 33,34 says it best... 33but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Seek God's kingdom and his righteousness. Live for Christ! So don't worry about what tomorrow brings. Live for Christ and enjoy the new day.

Your brother in Christ,


Monday, January 28, 2008

My Music

If you are interested in ordering any of the CD's listed below, please email Steve at and I will make arrangements to ship you your CD. The cost is $12 and this includes shipping. Thanks for your support.

Steve Phillips

CD #1
Folks have asked me how they can get a hold of my music. I've been involved in three different CD recording projects. My first project pictured here was recorded with recording artist Mark Barnett out of Nashville TN. He encouraged me to record my music and songs and he offered to play fiddle, guitar, banjo, and mandolin on this CD. He also brought in several of his friends and together we recorded a great collection of bluegrass / gospel songs. My instrument of choice is the Hammered Dulcimer so this album revolves around my hammered dulcimer playing. I'm very proud of this project and I hope that you will enjoy listening to this CD as well.

CD #2 and CD #3
I plan to list the other two CD's very soon in the near future. These other two recording projects (CD's) were recorded with some good friends of mine out of McMinnville TN. We call ourselves "The Company I Keep" and we have a Celtic / bluegrass / Gospel feel to our music. It's a very unique sound that many folks have really enjoyed from us over the years. Be looking for these CDs to be sold here as well in the near future. The cost is $12 for each and this does include shipping. If you would like to buy these CD's over the counter they are available at "Town and Country Animal Hospital" in McMinnville TN. The cost is $10 since you don't have to pay shipping cost if you buy them there.

Again, thanks for your support.
Steve Phillips

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Message... it's the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

Its' simple really, the message I mean. Jesus loves you! He came to this earth to live as an example of God's loves for you. He came to forgive you of your sins and give you eternal life. He died as a sacrifice for you and then rose from the grave three days after his death to live in Heaven and prepare a place for you to live with Him forever.

God is love, Jesus is love and the Spirit is love. The three are one but have different functions. The Father is God almighty, the creator of the universe and all that is in it. From beginning of time was also the Word (the son of God) who is Jesus, Jesus is God and He became flesh and walked among us to show us the way to eternal life. Jesus is our Savior. Since Jesus has gone to be with the Father in Heaven the good news is He has left us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells within us when we understand and realize that we are sinners condemned to go to hell unless we realize our need for a Savior. When we finally call upon the name of Jesus to save us, His promise is that He will. At this moment the Spirit lives within us to guide us, to direct us, to convict us and to love us as we stumble and struggle to walk with the Lord through the rest of our days here on earth.

Our old nature still within us struggles in conflict with our new nature (the holy Spirit) within us every single minute of every day. That's why I say we stumble and struggle as we walk with the Lord every day.

But one day, life on earth will be over. We will take our last breath and die. Everyone will do this, everyone will die. I doubt that anyone believes they'll live forever. Everyone knows they will die. But not everyone believes in God, so not everyone will have eternal life. The bible says the names of those that belong to Jesus Christ will be found written in the Lambs book of life. Death can be a scary thing to endure for sure, but to die without Christ, is hell! Whatever pain or suffering you endure in your last days will be a cakewalk compared to what awaits the sinner not saved by the grace of God. Nothing I can say, nothing you can imagine can be as bad as it will be. NOTHING. Plead all you want on Judgement day, but your name will not be there in that book if you have not called on the name of Jesus to save you before now.

People ask, if God is love why would he not allow everyone to go to heaven? Doesn't he love all of his creation. The answer of course is... yes he does. That's why He provides a way to live with Him eternally. That's why He sent his son Jesus to live and die as the payment for your sin. That why He has sent His Spirit to live within you until the day you are with Him in Heaven. He loves you that much!

Don't ask why God decided to offer His gift of eternal life this way? Just accept it and choose life. You either believe... or you don't. If you believe, then give your life to Jesus Christ and make Him lord over all of your life. If you don't believe... then fall on your face and ask for God to reveal himself to you so you can believe and thus be saved. The truth is this... Jesus Christ is the way to eternal life... PERIOD.

Here's the message, plain and simple:

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

I challenge you to read the entire Chapter of John 3. Jesus is teaching a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus has all kinds of questions for Jesus. he sees that Jesus has the power of God within him and he believes this because of all the miracles he's seen Jesus do. Only God can do that. But even so, Nicodemus doesn't understand what it means to be born again and he has other questions that you may have as well. So Jesus teaches this man, and us, the truth of the message he brings. Read Chapter 3 of the book of John. May the Spirit convict your heart and may you respond in faith to Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father. May the person that reads this devotion clearly see the message of your love for them. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Friday, January 25, 2008

A New Chapter begins

It's amazing sometimes to stop and look back over the months and see what God has done to create a change in your life. A major shift, but set up over a period of time. A bunch of small little steps that leads to a major event.

If you had asked me just 6 months ago if I was going to be moving and taking on another job. I would have thought you were crazy. Nothing like that was in my plan, that's for sure. I would have laughed it off. But here I sit at the dawn of a new journey in my career. Not only with my career but with my family as well. I'll be moving to Murfreesboro TN. I've been given an opportunity to manage a larger store and also relocate to a another town. All of which is what my family and I needed. You see the new store brings with it new challenges and that has excited me and revived my interest in my job. I find work exciting again. Not only has this change impacted my attitude towards my work, but my family benefits as well. Eric will be out of jail soon and the advantage of moving helps him to be in a new town with greater opportunities for him to start fresh and begin a new life. My youngest son graduates from vo-tech this year and he will have greater opportunities for work in Murfreesboro as this city is much larger and has more opportunity for the trade he's going into. My wife needed the change desperately. These years we've spent in McMinnville have many good memories attached with them, we have some very good friends and a wonderful church, work has been great with wonderful associates to work with but unfortunately McMinnville is associated with many painful memories as well. Twelve years, and a lot has happened. If you have read my blog in the past you know what I'm talking about. What started out as a temporary situation to help out another store in need has turned into a permanent change that impacts my life and my family like I would have never ever seen happening just a few months ago. It's amazing to me to think that God already had this planned out for me and that he was preparing the steps for me to take that would eventually lead to this change in my life. In a week I'll be permanently assigned to this new store and soon I'll be relocating and moving there to avoid the hour long drive to and from work everyday. Even though I'll miss all my friends at work and in the community, I'm excited about what God has planned for me in the future. One thing I do know... God has it all worked out, and that's all I need to know.

Thank you Lord for guiding me and taking care of my family as only you can. I know without a doubt in my mind that this was all ordained by you and because of that I have confidence and I'm content with the new challenges before me. May you continue to guide and direct my life and may I always be willing to go wherever it is you need me to go. Thank you Lord for opening this door, because I would have never opened this one if you hadn't. It's in the precious name of Jesus that I pray. Amen

Friday, January 18, 2008

Looking for a way out?

We've all gotten ourselves into situations we knew we shouldn't be in. It's seems that we go down a road we have no business being on, then when the road dead ends well we have a decision to make? Do we turn left? Do we turn right? Or do we turn back? This decision at this point and time is critical for us. Huge consequenses await us if we make the wrong choice.

Let's paint a picture here. The road of sin you are on is leading you into more and more temptation. Whatever road that may be; anger/bitterness, bad habits, being unfaithful, additions, lying, stealing, cheating and I could go on and on... we know this is a bad road because of our convictions. The Holy Spirit within us is screaming out saying... "Stop, don't go there! This is a place you do not need to be going." So most of the bad roads we go down, we usually know it's not a good road. (The decision to begin down a bad road begins in the mind or our thoughts) We think about it, we fantasize about it, and we begin down the road of temptation. Now sometimes we don't realize how bad the road is in the beginning as we start down it, but this road quickly gets worse the farther we drive down it. Examples of this are temptations are getting stronger. It becomes more difficult to abstain from the temptation. We think we're strong enough to resist or only go so far, but the farther we drive down this road of sin the greater the temptation and the weaker we become. While driving down this road we see all kinds of warning signs that this is a bad road, but we ignore them. It's like seeing a flooded river over the road and we know it's dangerous to cross it, but we think we can do it anyway and get to the other side without getting hurt. So we press on taking risks along the way. My point is this... we know this road is bad and we know we have to drive very cautiously or we could get hurt. Eventually we hit a dead end, the road ends. This dead end I compare to a decision that has to be made that crosses the line. We're going past the point of no return. Up to this point we have somehow justified in our minds that we haven't crossed the line. We think because we haven't committed the actual act of sin that we haven't crossed the line... BIG MISTAKE! If you thought it, Jesus says you committed it! There's no difference according to the word of God, which is the standard of course rather than how we feel about it.

This point of no return is the moment I want to focus on for us. Remember, we should never have allowed ourselves to get to this point. If we are here, we have not listened to our convictions, we have ignored the Holy Spirit's warning signs along the way. In our own selfish desire we went on down the road anyway, and now we find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we turn right, left, or back? Well there's only one answer isn't there? Turn back of course. To turn right or left confirms only one thing... we're still on this bad road. We have to turn around and go back. We have to get off this road and by turning around we are no longer going in the wrong direction anymore, we know we're headed back to safety and a road that is good. It's called repentance of our sin. It's when we realize we're headed the wrong way and we turn around and head the right way. Sin is always leading us away from God... to repent means we turn from our sin and head back towards God.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

So now we know the way out of the temptations we face... Turn back to God, and He will provide you a way out so you can stand up under the pressure of this temptation. God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. So remember, when you are tempted... there's always a way out, an escape route just for you! Seek God's face and allow the Holy Spirits conviction to turn your focus away from temptation and back on the Lord. What a loving and compassionate God we have. A God that always gives us a way out so we don't fall into the traps of sin that Satan sets for us. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Building a Trust Fund

How's your trust account? Is it growing? Are you saving for a raining day?

I know it sounds like I'm talking about saving money, building a trust fund to draw from later in life. Well in some way's, this is exactly what I'm talking about, but it's not about money or wealth as you might expect, it's about being trustworthy. Can you be trusted by others. When others speak of you do they say you are honest and truthful, can you be trusted?

That word TRUST is a big word. It affects our marriage or relationships in a big way doesn't it? Many marriages end because we just can't trust each other to be faithful to one another. Even when we are faithful to one another, if the perception is there, then the person simply is not trusted. There's doubt or concern. TRUST is all or nothing. Either the person is trusted or they are not. What about work related issues? Depending on if you are trustworthy or not can determine if you get that next promotion or not. Let's face it, if you can't be trusted with what you are responsible for now, then why would anyone give you more responsibility. People that are not trusted will not advance. If we can be trusted, if we are trustworthy, then we will prevail and have victory in our relationships, our careers, and even when charges are brought against us. Our reputation can speak for us, our trustworthiness can dismiss the charges against us because the accusations go against the fact that we are trustworthy. Let's look at Daniel and his track record of being trustworthy.

Daniel 6:4, At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

I believe Daniels TRUST begins with his trust and faith in his God. Because he lives a life of obedience and he places his full faith and trust in his God, He's seen as a person with great conviction and commitment. I have to ask... Do you live, completely trusting in the Lord to provide, to guide, and to protect you in your life? Our lives reflect this trust. If we're living our lives trusting in God, then we will be seen as trustworthy as well by others. In other words, as we become Spirit filled, we become more like Christ, and the more we become like Christ the more trustworthy we are. So what can we do to become more trustworthy?

1. Place your full faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we live a life of trust, then we become a life of trust. We become an example of trust for others. People will see that we just do not deviate from our convictions. We live for Jesus. When given a temptation that goes against God's word, we don't stray away from the truth, we stay the course no matter what... Like Daniel. Sadly though, we all know the truth, so many times we don't stay the course do we? We stray, we struggle and we often look like hypocrites in our faith. Is that a picture of trustworthiness? No, not at all. So we must work on trusting the Lord, knowing Him more, and focusing on him more, so we live as the Holy Spirit would have us live. A reflection of a trustworthy God.

2. TRUST is earned. What I mean by this is that people don't just automatically trust you, or think you'll be trustworthy. Most people, have a "I'll believe it when I see it," attitude towards trust. After we've proven we can be trusted in the little things, then we begin to see a greater trust with the deeper or greater things in life. Why is it this way with people? Well my experience has been that too many people have been burned in the past. They've trusted people that only hurt them. Either in their relationships, or in their careers at work, or in their Church, or in their family. And each time we get burned, we build up a wall that prevents us from being so trusting of others. the more we get burned, the less we trust the next person that comes along. So very soon, TRUST has to be earned. I'll trust you only after you have proven to me you can be trusted.

The reason I mention this... is because in the beginning of this post I talked about building a trust fund, and that's exactly what we have to do. If you want to be a person that can be trusted, then you must work on your trust fund. Building a relationship of trust will cost you. I like to think of it this way. Every time you follow through on a commitment or promise to someone, you'll add change to your trust fund. Every time you do something special or unexpected for someone, then you'll add more change to your trust fund. The next time your tempted to lie or cheat, but don't... you add change to your trust fund. When faced with a difficult challenge to break the rules, but you don't, then others see you are trustworthy and you have added change to your account. People begin to see you as trustworthy and you begin to build a relationship of trust. The reason I say you must build up a fund, is because when we do something stupid, that violates our trust, then change comes out of your trust fund. Sure you may have done something that made someone feel they can't trust you anymore, but if you have lived a life of trustworthiness, then you'll be forgiven more often than not, because they know this was not typical of you. Normally you can be trusted, so even though the other person may have been hurt, the relationship is not destroyed. But what happens if you keep doing things that violate the trust in your relationship? More and more change is taken from your account until finally you run the risk of not being trustworthy anymore at all... your trust fund is now at a zero balance. The worst thing that can happen to a person is to have a zero balance trust fund then do something that violate trust, it's very difficult to build up trust with someone, when you miss managed your account in this way. Often you will not recover and thus... the relationship ends.... you lose your job and your career ends... well you can think of all the different scenarios. It's not good! One other thing to remember... The change comes out faster than it goes in. In other words... You can work hard to build trust in a relationship, and then wipe out most of your account with one stupid laps in judgement. Building the trust is a lot harder and more time consuming that spending it (losing it.)

So again I ask... How's your trust fund?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may my life be focused on you. May I put my full faith and trust in you. Change me Lord into your likeness and through this change in my life, I become more and more trustworthy as well. Thank you for the example you gave us in Daniel. A man who was noted as trustworthy as he lived his life for you. May other see me as trustworthy as well. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Monday, January 7, 2008

This moment, right here, right now, could be your last.

It began like any other Wednesday, my usual day off. I got up early to take my two boys to School as I always did on Wednesdays. The boys were usually taken to school by their Mom every day of the week except for Wednesday. You see, Wednesday was Dad's day to drive them to and from school and they seemed to enjoy the change. As we finished up breakfast and loaded into the car, we talked about the threat of snow for the day. The boys loved all the snow we'd been getting since we moved up here to Pennsylvania. During these winter months it seemed it snowed a little everyday. Here it was mid February and we've already seen more snow than I've seen in my entire life in Kansas. Thinking back, I can remember we got over 120 inches of snow that winter!

Before we arrived at school the boys already had plans to sled when they got back home later that afternoon. I promised to pick them up as usual after school and then said my goodbye's as they hopped out of the car. As I drove back home all I could think about was getting on my new 4 wheeler that I had bought just two weeks ago. I hadn't had much of an opportunity to ride it like I wanted to, but this morning I had planned to enjoy time riding the trails in the mountains near our house. These trails were awesome, they went for miles and miles through the wilderness and over the last week or two I had been riding them trying to learn my way around the mountains. Even though it was very cold with the threat of snow later on in the day, I figured I could still get in a good ride before noon. The Year was 1995 and this cold February day that began like any other day would change my life forever! I just didn't know it yet.

Thinking back on this day and what happened, it's kinda strange how oblivious we are to major events that affect and change our lives, we just do not know what tomorrow will bring do we? Tomorrow? We don't even know what's going to happen in the very next moment of today! This moment, right here, right now, could be your last.

I bundled up and was armed for the cold weather with my coat, gloves and helmet. I was actually pretty warm as I took off up the hill through the trees across the street from our house. I had told my wife I was going riding and that I'd be back later. She knew I had planned on exploring some more of the trails that I had discovered last week, so she expected me to be gone for a while. The ride was great! I quickly found a familiar trail through the woods and took off on a great ride. Other than the bitter cold weather, I was having the ride of my life. Well after riding for a few hours I realized that I was about half froze and I decided I better head on in. Besides, it was almost noon and I was getting hungry. A cup of hot chocolate sounded great at the moment! I traveled back through miles of trails and I was almost home, maybe a mile away is all and I suddenly saw a short trail that went up a small steep hill. I stopped at the bottom of this little hill and decided to take the hill rather than go around. It seemed harmless enough and really it was, but I messed up. As I started up the hill I didn't go fast enough. I didn't have enough momentum to carry me up the hill and as I began to climb my 4 wheeler began to bog down and lose power. Suddenly I came to a stop on the hill and at this moment I really didn't think I was in any danger at all. What I'd do is simply pull in the clutch and coast backwards down the hill like I've done many time on my motorcycle. This was my first 4 wheeler I've ever owned but I've enjoyed riding motorcycles since I was 16 years old. That's where I messed up. My experience riding motorcycles had caused me to instinctively pull in the clutch as I began to roll backwards, but on a 4 wheeler, there isn't a clutch. It's not like a motorcycle. Sure the lever is there just like on a motorcycle but rather than being a clutch, it's your rear brake. The worst thing I could have done in that moment was hit the rear brake while beginning to roll backwards down this steep little hill. As soon as I pulled the brake, the 4 wheeler flipped backwards and I was thrown to the ground flat on my back, and as quickly as this happened I realized the 4 wheeler was going to land right on top of me. I quickly raised my legs thinking I would kick off the 4 wheelers as it came down on top of me, but the weight and momentum of the vehicle simply flattened me. My legs did little to soften the blow. The handlebars crashed into my head and the weight of the vehicle simply pushed my right leg right up behind my head and as a result of the impact, shattered my hip socket and twisted my leg out of place. It happened so suddenly that at first I didn't know what had happened. Thank God I was wearing my helmet or my face would have been crushed, instead my head was just smashed to the side but no damage was done other than my neck was sore from the force of the impact. I immediately felt swelling in my groin area. I didn't feel pain at this moment, but the pressure was increasing quickly in my groin and I knew I was hurt bad. I figured I had broke my pelvis or something, I wasn't sure, but I knew it was serious! As I lay there I see that my 4 wheeler is still running, it had actually landed upright right beside of me and it was still running, just idling. As I looked around I notice I'm laying in a muddy hole, I was wet and cold. Because of the swelling in my groin I'm afraid to move. I know I have to try and move and somehow get myself on my 4 wheeler and get home or I might never be found up here. I begin to think about how stupid it was for me be riding up here all by myself, my real worry though was that no one would be riding on a day like today. It's just too cold, let's face it, the only reason I was out riding was because I wanted to ride my new 4 wheeler, no one else in their right mind would be out riding on a day like today. I hadn't seen a single person all morning long, so I knew the chances of someone stumbling upon me was not good. I looked at my watch, it's noon. What am I going to do? I check myself out, I think I'm OK other than my injury to my pelvis area. I don't appear to be bleeding anywhere, that's a good thing. I'm able to think clearly, that's a good thing. Let's see if I can get on this 4 wheeler and putt back home. As I try to scoot towards the 4 wheeler my leg twists and suddenly I'm in severe pain, Up till this point I had only felt pressure, but not really any pain. Now, the pain was tremendous. I quickly tried to maneuver back to the position I was in prior to moving but with each little movement the pain got worse. I was crying out, but the pain never stopped. It was unbearable. Finally as I held perfectly still, the pain began to subside and I was able to breathe normally again. I grabbed a stick and reached out towards the 4 wheeler with the stick and was able to turn the 4 wheeler off so it stopped running. All was quite. I lay there thinking about how I'm going to get home or how am I going to get help. I didn't own a cell phone then, so I couldn't call anyone. My only hope was to scream out for help as loud as I could and hope that someone would hear me. I begin to yell out "Help", "Help Me!" "Can anyone hear me!" I did this for several minutes and then I remember thinking, "How useless is this?" "There's not going to be anyone out here to hear me. I too far up the side of this mountain. Maybe if I was closer to the road, but I'm still a mile up in the woods, what's the use?" Suddenly I hear movement in the woods up above me up the mountain a ways. I can't see anything and I finally think it must be an animal like a deer, or fox. My mind races back to the black bear my family and I saw crossing the road a few weeks ago. "Great," I think... "just my luck, it's probably a black bear and he's going to hear all the yelling and screaming I'm doing and come down here and take a swat at me." My only thought was how bad that was going to hurt when my leg moved again! I lay there quite, listening for anything, but nothing, not even a bird chirping, nothing but a slight cold breeze whispering through the trees. As I lay there I just stare up to the sky. Wow, it's a pretty day. Although it was bitter cold, the sun was shining. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I looked up to the sky. It felt good. For the first time since my accident, I begin to think about God. Up till this point, my mind had been racing trying to figure out what to do, not once did I think to pray or ask God for help until now. In the quietness of this moment I begin praying. I'm ashamed I hadn't thought of praying sooner. As I think back to that day, I sure wasn't very mature in my faith or my walk with the Lord at the time. My prayers were shallow at best. I prayed for God to send me help, I prayed that my injuries wouldn't be too severe. I didn't realize it right then but everything I prayed for was for me. I was even making deals with God. "Dear God, if you'll get me through this safely Lord I promise I'll be more faithful in going to Church." Lord, I'll be a better Dad and a better husband." I'm ashamed when I think back to the prayers I offered up to God during this terrible time in my life. Of course after each prayer, I still felt all alone. It was like God couldn't hear me, or at least that's how it felt. I begin to scream out some more... "Help! Is anyone out there?" "Help Me!" I do this for the next hour or so. I decided I'd cry out for help every minute on the minute just in case someone was out there. So for one hour, every minute on the minute, I would yell out for help as loud as I could, hoping by some miracle someone would hear my cries. Over this hour the sun begins to fade and the clouds begin rolling in and then here comes the snow! As the snow falls on my face while I look up to the sky, I wonder if this is going to be my last day. This could be it for me. I realize if I'm not found before it gets dark, I doubt that I'll survive the night. I'm already freezing cold and beginning to shiver uncontrollably. The more I shiver and shake the more I cry out in pain as my leg twitches. I know that my body temperature has got to be dropping. I begin to sob and cry. I'm angry at myself for getting myself in this position. I cry as I think about the possibility of dying out here all alone here in these woods. What will it be like? I begin day dreaming about my life, my boys, my wife, the things we've done and the plans we had that now could be shattered. I begin to think about what my wife will be going through when I don't come home, how worried she will be for me and I again get angry with myself for putting my family through all of this. I notice time has passed quickly. I do not remember anything from 2pm -3pm. I must have passed out or fallen asleep? Did I daydream all this time? I'm very confused at to what has happened because I remember looking at my watch every minute, then suddenly an hour has past and I can't recall any of the time? I realize I should have been picking the boys up from school right now. Now I know that Brenda and the boys know that something has happened to me. I would have been home by now and I know Brenda's probably frantic because I didn't come home. I imagine the boys asking Mom, "Where's dad?" when she picks them up at school. They will see the fear in her eyes. I begin to cry again. I think about how worried she must be. I cry because I know I've scared the boys and I hate that they are going through this.

I pray some more. I'm praying more often now. I know it's going to be dark by 5pm. Two hours of daylight left! I have to get home. I have to drag myself off this mountain somehow. I can't just lie here and die. With all the courage and strength I have I begin turning myself around so my head will be downhill rather than uphill. The pain is incredible. I had been so afraid to move but now I force myself to pivot. I think that if I can lift myself up on this 4 wheeler somehow, then I can get home. I drag myself next to the 4 wheeler and try to sit upright but I can't do it. The pain is too much. I stop moving to lessen the pain. What am I going to do now? I remember thinking maybe I can drag myself down the mountain on one of the trails. I know it's far but maybe I can slide down a trail. I begin my journey and I slowly begin inching down the trail. I feel every rock and root in the trail. These trails aren't smooth, and the trail I'm on happens to be a washed out trail where rain runs down the hill, so you can imagine how rough this part of the trail was. To make a long story short, it takes me half and hour to go maybe 25 feet and I'm in unbearable pain and have to stop often to get through it. I finally lay there and rest, catching my breath and praying some more. I begin to frantically cry out for help. Maybe I just haven't yelled loud enough. I keep telling myself I have to keep trying to get help. I stop and simply rest. It feels good to stop and rest, it's peaceful, I'm very tired. I just want to rest. I look at my watch and I see it's about 4pm. The sun is beginning to go down, it's getting even colder now. I can't stop shivering, my teeth are chattering uncontrollably. It happens again. Time has passed and I can't remember it? I must have fell asleep again. I'm so tired and it's difficult to stay alert. I just want to rest, to lay here and relax.

As I lay there my thoughts again go to my family. I've heard stories of when people get close to death, they see their life flash before their eyes. That's not was happening here, but it was more like a slow slide show of pictures in my mind of things I did with my boys and my wife. Things like hiking trips, riding bikes, piggy back rides, all the fun things we've done together. I begin to give up. I realize that I'm not going to be found and I begin to think differently. I'm not hurting any more, I even stop shivering. It feels great not to shiver! I don't feel so cold now. I'm OK, this isn't so bad. I really do think I'm going to die, I just don't feel like I have the strength to stay with it. I remember thinking to myself, that dieing this way wasn't going to be as bad as I imagined. I'm at peace, I'm just going to go to sleep soon and not wake up. I thank God for the break in the pain. I mean I literally thank God in my prayer for the relief He's given me. As I lay there on my back, looking up into the heavens I offer up my final prayer.

"Dear God, forgive me for all my failures to live as I know I should have. Lord I know the end is near, and I'm OK with that Lord, Thank you for loving me so much and giving me this peace during this time. I know that heaven awaits me and thank you Lord for saving me. (I pause) (I begin to weep as I continue praying and I cry through the rest of my prayer.) Lord, thank you so much for my beautiful wife Brenda, I love her so much. Lord I thank you so much for the time you've given me with my two boys. I love them both so much. Lord what gifts you've given me and I'm so thankful. Please God, take care of my wife and boys for me Lord. Please God provide for them. Lord please allow Brenda to find someone that will love her and care for her and my sons since I won't be able to do that anymore. Please Lord help Eric and Ryan through this terrible time of losing their Dad. Please don't let them suffer long. Comfort them and wrap them with your love. Please Lord, I just want them to be happy in life. Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

As if on cue, I hear the sound of an approaching motorcycle coming down the trail above me! I turn my head and a motorcycle comes flying over the little hill and almost lands right on top of me. It's a good thing I had drug myself down about 25 feet or he'd have killed me trying to save me. I recognize the rider, he's my neighbor's son. He asks if I'm OK, and I tell him I'm hurt real bad, I explain I been here since noon. He tells me he's going back for help and promises to be right back. I thank him and he takes off.

Thank you Lord! Is all I can say. I shout it out! "Thank you God!" I wonder if anyone heard that! It dawns on me, that God answered my prayer and I breakdown because I know in that very moment that my prayers weren't answered all day long until I finally stopped focusing on me and my problems and finally surrendered my life and my only concern was for my family. My only prayer was for God to send them someone that could love and care for them as I wish I could. God gave me this wonderful opportunity. He allowed me to be the one! I was overwhelmed with emotion and praise! I knew I was going to be OK. I knew at this moment that God was giving my life purpose.

It took them a long time to get me down off that mountain. They had to take me down in the back of a pickup truck, but only after cutting several trees down to be able to get a truck up there to where I was. The ambulance was waiting for me on the road at the bottom of the trail. I'll never forget how good it felt to have those hot blankets thrown over me and to feel the heat from the heat lamps.

Later my wife told me about what she had went through, I felt so sad for her and the boys. It hurts me to think about the pain I caused them. Oh what a terrible mistake I made that day. It almost cost me my life! Brenda said when I didn't come home to get the boys she was real worried. She said when she picked the boys up at school,the first thing they did was ask where I was because I had told them I would be picking them up. This is when she knew for sure something bad had happened. She said she felt it it her stomach. She was terrified and didn't know what to do and the only thing she could think of in that instant was... She knew that she needed to pray, and not just her prayers! She frantically called every Christian she knew and told them to pray and pray hard for me. The word spread like wildfire and within 30 minutes time, there were several churches praying for me. Prayer chains were activated everywhere and I was amazed later to hear just how many people were praying for me in my time of need. It was unreal! As soon as Brenda got home she ran to all the neighbors houses and told them that I hadn't returned home and that something was wrong. The neighbor boys all got on their bikes and immediately hit the trails in all directions to search the mountains for me. Brenda went home and prayed none stop until she finally heard the news that I was found. When God answered my prayer, he answered hers at the same time.

As I laid there waiting to be rescued I heard the sound of an approaching motorcycle. Brenda when she saw me, jumped off the back of that bike and ran to me and layed on top of me to help warm me. I was so glad to see her. I'll never forget that moment. She saved me through her prayers, she saved me through her actions, and God gave me an extended life, a gift, of loving her and providing for her and my sons as long as He sees fit. I'm thankful for every day he gives me. What an awesome God we serve! Everyday I live, is another blessing from God! Everyday!
Thank you Lord Jesus! Thank you!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Steve's Devotions, another year!

As I've come into yet another year... 2008. I've been setting here thinking about what I had hoped to accomplish with my blog this last year. My main hope of course was that God would bless the work and efforts I put into it and somehow through the words, reach out and touch those that read it.

My main goal has been to encourage or uplift the readers. I realize, looking back that I didn't always write that way. A little of the flesh always comes out I suppose. But if in some way, you have been encouraged, been uplifted, or maybe even just seen God from another persons perspective, trials and victories. Well, sometimes that's all we need to stay focused and committed. Seeing what others go through and how God delivers them through life, can be a great help in our time of need.

Another focus of my blog has been to testify God's love, his power and his mercy and grace. It's my way of publicly giving God all praise and glory for what He has done and will continue to do in my life.

I'm often asked how I have time to write and do all the other things I do as well? The answer... I don't know. I usually write late at night before I go to bed, unless I'm off work that day, then I might write during the day if time allows. You know, I don't know how long I'll continue to write these little tidbit's of sharing my life and God's word, but as long as I feel I'm honoring the Lord and sharing His truth, then I suppose I'll continue on with my quest. It's my layman's way, if you will, of preaching the Gospel to the world.

In retrospect, if one person is encouraged and finds the Lord in their moment of trial, then all has been for not. If only one Christian is motivated to do more or be more for Christ because of something they have read, then it's all been good.

Well, my hope and prayer for you this year is a renewed focus on Christ and a commitment to serve your Lord and Savior in everything you are. May God bless you and may 2008, be the year we mature in our faith and may we be "More like Christ."

God's love to you.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Our motive determines our results

Have you ever thought about what motivates you to do something? We all desire for our lives to be better, be more productive and if we're honest with each other, we'd even like to see some wealth and prosperity in our future. Let's face it! Why do we seek that next promotion? Why do we strive to achieve results that propel us into the spotlight? We're all trying to move from where we are to another place that we want to be. We can see that if we make more money then we can provide for our families better. The motive for wanting wealth and prosperity can be an honorable motive. The motive for recognition could be so that we'll be noticed and appreciated and then in a position to be able to get that next advancement in our career we've been striving for. Whatever our motive, one things for sure... If our motive is pure and revolves around God's purpose in our life, then God will bless us in ways we never dreamed or expected.

Have you ever had dreams and plans that just didn't seem to work out? You think, "Well if I do this, then this will happen, and when that happens, I can pay off this and that, then I'll be making more money, then I can get this house, then when I do this, I'll get that other promotion I've got my sight on. Then I'll be able to afford this and I can send my kids to this school and live in this neighborhood. If I can just make all this happen then life will be great!" What a mistake we make when we try and determine how we want God to bless us! The focus, rather than being on the outcome or the rewards, should be on God. How can I serve and honor God in my work? How can serve and honor God in my schooling? How can serve and honor God in my marriage and my family? How can serve and honor God in my Church? If we would put as much thought and time in these goals and dreams rather than the outcome or the end result, we just might be amazed at the end result or blessings that God has planned for us. It's all about trust and our ability to have faith in God with our lives. Let Him have it! Give Him all we are and allow Him to live through us.

King Solomon had it figured out. Rather than seek wealth, rather than seek prosperity, rather than seek anything that was a by product of God's blessings, he sought God's wisdom and knowledge.

8 Solomon answered God, "You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
11 God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have."

I want us to think about these verses for a minute. Everyone of us are leaders in one way or another. You influence others around you every day. Maybe you own the Company and you are the CEO, maybe you supervise a department within an organization, maybe you're a leader at church, maybe you're a friend that has influence on another person. If you are a husband, a wife, a friend, a co worker, a son or daughter, no matter who you are, you're leading and influencing someone all the time. So I ask you... what kind of success have you had with your ability to influence and lead others? What has been your motive? Why do you do it? What can we learn from King Solomon?

  1. Solomon's motive was to thank the Lord God for his great kindness that He showed to his father David. Solomon was thankful and appreciative of what God had done in the past!

  2. Solomon knew that he was in the middle of God's plan for his life and that God had directed his steps up to this point in his life, so he trusted Him with the rest of it as well.

  3. Solomon understood and knew that the people he was leading were not his people, but rather they were God's people that God had entrusted him to lead. This knowledge kept him from being prideful and self honoring.

  4. Solomon knew that since these were God's people and that he had been placed in this position by God to lead, then he asked for God's Wisdom and Knowledge to make the right decisions governing His people as their leader going forward.

  5. God Blessed Solomon more than any other king as ever been blessed.

God blessed Solomon with great wealth, great riches, and great honor, that no other King has ever seen, nor will ever see in the future. Why was Solomon blessed in this way?

Because he wasn't concerned about his own results that he could achieve with the power and leadership placed upon him as King, but rather he was only concerned about doing the will of God in this place of leadership that God had placed him in. It wasn't his Kingdom, it was God's Kingdom and Solomon realized that he was given a great responsibility as the leader and King of God's people.

The question I have for each of us is this... Are we trying to achieve in our own strength, are we trying to work out our dreams and visions as we see them happening based off of our own abilities and accomplishments, or are we seeking the wisdom and knowledge of God to carry out His plan wherever we've been placed in it at the time. Maybe we should focus less on where we want to be in the future and seek God's wisdom and knowledge to know what to do where He has us today... right now.

Let God take care of the future since it's all His anyway. May we be more willing to live today for him and trust Him with what tomorrow brings. I don't think any of us can out guess what God would like to do for us in the coming days, if only we would leave it up to Him rather than always getting in the way of His plan. So... "What's your motive for doing what you do every day?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Do you have PEACE?

Joy and Peace are two of the Characteristics of Christ that are listed as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23. Peace... Isn't it what we all want. I'm talking about the kind of Peace that comforts us when nothing else will. The kind of peace that we can have when the storms of life are raging all around us. The peace of calmness in these storms. The peace that makes no sense to others when they see what we're going through, but to us, we know why we're OK. The kind of peace that a person has at the funeral of their spouse after being married for over 50 years. How can a person be at a funeral and praise the Lord during a time like this? They have God's peace that surpasses all understanding, that's how. Do you have this kind of peace? Do you want it?

First... if you are not a Christian, this peace is not available to you unless you understand that you need a Savior. Your sin separates you from God's eternal love and unless you have made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, you can not, and will not have this peace I'm talking about. You can think you have this peace at times, but the worlds peace, is temporary and doesn't last.

Secondly... if you are a Christian, you can have this peace, but so often Christians live with very little joy or peace in their lives! Many Christians should have this peace, but don't. So I ask again... do you want PEACE, God's Peace in your life? Let's take a look at what it means to have the peace that only God can give us, and see maybe why we don't experience this peace as Christians like we should.

(3) You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You.

This verse tells us that we can have God's perfect peace. How? By staying focused on Christ. And why do we stay focused on Christ? Because we trust Him. We have faith in Him. Think about the time that Jesus walked out on the water to the disciples in the boat in the storm (Matthew 14:22-33) the disciples thought they were seeing a Ghost and they were afraid. then Jesus says, do not be afraid, I'm here, it is I. Peter says, if it's you Lord tell me to come to you on the water. Then Jesus says... Come. And Peter takes off walking on the water towards Jesus! Verse 30 says... when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and he began to sink. What we see here is a man that was only able to accomplish God's will (walking on water) as long as he remained focused on the Lord. It's a perfect example of what Isaiah 26:3 is talking about. God's peace is ours as long as we remain focused in Him and keep our trust in Him. If we lose focus, we sink, we're miserable, we lose our peace that only God can give us.

Let's look at another verse that can help us see why we might not be experiencing God's peace.

John 14:25-27
(25) "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.
(26) "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
(27) "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Two things I wanted to focus on in these verses... One, The Holy Spirit, The Helper, whom the Father sends us, will teach us all things, and remind us of what Jesus promised us. Two, The peace that Jesus is speaking of doesn't come from the world, it comes from God. This peace is far greater than anything the world offers. It's God's peace. You see the world offers us peace in a lie. We think that if we drink, we feel better and we can escape the troubles of our life, but we all know it's only temporary it in the end we're destroyed. Drugs are the same way. The world offers a false peace, a shallow peace, really no peace, but it appears that it's peace. But God's peace is not of this world. It's supernatural in power and strength. So we might not have peace because we're searching for it in the wrong places.

Galatians 5:22.23
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This reminds me of a peach tree I have in the yard. This tree is not healthy at all. It looks very sick, hardly has any leaves and several of the branches are dead. It's a mess. It produces maybe one peach each year. Seriously, one peach, and it's not worth eating. The tree is that unhealthy. Well in the same way, if we as Christians are Spiritually unhealthy, will we produce fruit? The answer of course is no. But the fruit of the Spirit is Joy and Peace and several other characteristics of Christ is it not? So why do we not have peace or joy in our life as a Christian? You know if you took your temperature because you felt like you had a fever and the reading was high, then your fever and the temperature would indicate to you that you are sick. Then you would take yourself to a doctor and get some medicine to hopefully get to feeling better and get over your sickness. We need to use Galatians 5:22,23 as a barometer for our Spiritual health. If we see no evidence of Joy or peace in our life as Christian then there's something wrong! Fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy and others, so if we are not experiencing these things then we need to go to our great physician, our Holy father and get a prescribed dose of God's word. We need to reconnect with the great healer, our heavenly Father through Christ. We've become disconnected somehow and we no longer have His joy and His peace like we should.

Finally we can see that God's peace surpasses all understanding. It just doesn't make sense to most people how we can live in a storm, but still have peace. How can we be ok, when the world says we shouldn't be ok with what we're having to deal with?

Philippians 4:4, 6-7
(4) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God;
(7) and the peace of God; which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Rejoice!! Joy!! We should be anxious about nothing because we take all of our concerns to God the we trust to take care of us. The promise of course is God's peace! The kind of peace that makes no sense to the world. The best thing about this peace though is this... The peace of God guards our hearts and our minds through Christ. In today's world we need guarded don't we?

How do we have this peace?

The answer? Let's go back to
Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly father, I understand and know that without You I am nothing. I know that there is no way I can do anything to BE LIKE YOU, but I know that You can make me like you in the renewing of my mind and my heart. As I focus on You everyday you perform a miracle in and through me. You begin to change me into Your likeness. So Lord I know I can do nothing to be like you, but You can do everything to make me like you, and it's through this likeness, that I can experience your Joy, and your peace, that no one but you can understand. Thank you Lord Jesus! Amen.