Given with Love

The other day the granddaughters came over for a little while and they colored and drew some pictures.  Haley, the youngest one who is six, colored a special picture for Marta and me and signed it “Love Haley.”  Our refrigerator is always adorned by Haley’s pictures and letters from Avery who is eight.  All of the pictures and letters always tell us how much they love us.  I always feel so blessed when we receive these special gifts.  I am so glad they have learned to express and demonstrate their love for the people they care about.  The Bible declares that God has done that very thing for us.  Paul said in Romans 5:8

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God has shown His love for all of us by sending His Son to be our Savior.  God offers the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation to us through Christ because He cares so much for us and about us.  God loves us!  I hope you know how much He cares for you.

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Posted in Being Blessed, Christianity, Church, God Loves Me, God's Love, good gifts, grandchildren | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wherever You Are

Our granddaughters Avery and Haley came by the other day to play Hide and Seek.  Avery, who just turned 8 told me, “Pawpaw we are ready to play Hide and Seek.  And this time we aren’t going to fall for any of your tricks.”   Her little sister Haley who is 6 chimed in, “Yeah, none of your tricks work!”  They were referring to other times when we have played and I have made the bed and used the blanket to cover pillows so it looks like I am hiding there.  I even put shoes sticking out of the end of the blanket just to really sell it.  Other times I have left one of my shoes peeking out from behind a pantry door to draw them that direction.  The first time I did it, Avery saw my shoes sticking out from under the blanket on the bed and said, “I see your shoes!”  She ran over to the bed and pulled off the blanket only to find my shoes and several pillows.  I was watching from the closet and I laughed so loud she found me right away.  I love those girls.  And I love the games of hide and seek we play together.   Whenever I think of the game Hide and Seek, I am reminded of what David said in Psalm 139

[Psa 139:7-8 NIV] 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

David shares a wonderful truth in this passage.  God always knows where we are.  There is no way for us to successfully hide from Him.  God is everywhere.  There is no way He could not know where we are.  As David said earlier in this psalm, God knows our innermost thoughts.  God knows where we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I find that thought comforting because wherever I am, I just need to reach out to Him and His right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:10).  I hope you know that is a promise for you as well, wherever you may be.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Don't give up, faith, God Seeks After Us, grandchildren, inspirational, Psalm 139:10, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fresh Start

I saw the movie “A dog’s life” the other day.  I enjoyed it.  It wasn’t quite as sad as “Old Yeller” or “My dog Skip.”  When I watched “My Dog Skip” I was at home by myself.  I cried like a baby.  It was good but really sad.  As I said, this movie was good too.  The movie does suggest that all dogs come back to life over and over again, reincarnated to experience life with another human.  For that reason, you may have to remind yourself that it’s just a movie.

The movie reminded me of a conversation about faith I had once with someone on the capitol grounds. They were sharing with me that spiritually speaking they were drawn to the idea of reincarnation.  I asked this person what it is about reincarnation that appeals to them.  They replied they liked the idea of being able to start over and have a “Do over” as many times as it takes to “get.it right so they could go to heaven.”

After listening, I acknowledged the appeal of being able to start over and have another chance to get things right so that one can get to heaven.  Then I shared what God’s Word says about those concepts.  God knows we all make mistakes and all of us could use a chance to start over and have “do over” to try and get life right.  God also knows that even after life time after life time of trying, we would still get it wrong in some way and still be separated from Him because of our sin.  And He tells us in His word that this life is the only shot we have (Heb 9:27).  The good news is that we don’t have to get everything right to go to heaven.  When it comes to getting it right, Christ did that for us.  He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for our sins; whoever places their faith in Him will receive forgiveness and have everlasting life.  God does offer us a fresh start, a “do over.”  He offers it right now, in this life, through a relationship with Son.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Filled with Grace, forgiveness, God will help you, Hebrews 9:27, ministry work, missions, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Veterans Day 2017

Today we stop to share our thanks
For your service to our land,
You gladly put on the uniform,
Took your oath and took a stand.
 
We are grateful for your courage,
You, who chose to sacrifice and give,
It is because of the heroes among us
That Old Glory still flies and our freedoms still live,
 
So today we say thank you,
And, because these simple words are not enough,
We pray you will have health and happiness
And a life full of peace and love.
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The San Antonio Rescue Mission – A Safe Place

I had the opportunity to speak at the San Antonio Rescue Mission last night.  My friend Bill who has volunteered at the mission for 17 years and is on the Board of Directors invited me.  The mission has been providing shelter, food, and assistance to homeless men in San Antonio since 1975.  And while the service went well, the best part was arriving early enough to spend time visiting with the men prior to the service.  One man spoke of the decision he was wrestling with in regard to a potential job change – they both paid the same, but which one would last through the winter and into the spring?  One had no prayer requests but wanted to be sure that we “gave thanks for a safe place to sleep.”

Another man was excited to see my friend Bill who he had not seen in a while and proudly reported that he had been sober for 3 years 2 months and 7 days.  He said he had to take a time-out from where he was staying because it was getting too stressful with the people he was around and he didn’t want to break his streak.  He knew the mission was a better option.

I heard similar stories from others as well.  One was in from Arizona for a few weeks and knew the rescue mission would be a safe place to be because he was familiar with rescue missions from his past.  The Mission does good work; it does godly work.  On their website the San Antonio Rescue Mission declares, “The primary purpose of the Mission is to acquaint the homeless and the wanderer with the priceless knowledge of the love and forgiveness of God in and through Jesus Christ. Our secondary purpose is to offer a bath, clean clothes, food and a place of shelter for the night.”

Please keep the Mission and the men they serve in your prayers.

Posted in Christianity, Good Works, Love your brother, ministry work, missions, religion, Volunteer Work | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Started Running Again

I started playing basketball on Tuesday nights again for the last couple of weeks and it has been fun.  I haven’t played in over a year due to a leg injury.  Most of the guys who I am playing with are about 25 to 30 years younger than me.  The first week, my shot was just okay and I gassed out after game 3 and was not much of a factor in the outcome of the last game.  I was tired.  The second week, my shot was even better and I did not run out of steam until game 5.  I can tell that I am progressing and that my stamina is coming back.  I ran the floor with the best of them, dribbled behind my back during one fast break on my way to a layup and I even illustrated the “Dr. J baseline scoop” on a couple of occasions.  The scoop shots were a crowd favorite and elicited shouts from one bystander of “Old man buckets!” every time I scored.  He didn’t get tired of saying it and there were a couple of games where he got to say it a lot.

I have been running during the week to prepare for the games.  I figure it will take about another month before I get back to what I consider being in “good game shape” and being able to run all night, for two hours without getting tired so that I can compete well.  For me, doing well at basketball has always come down to being able to run well.  I am not a natural three point shooter but I can play defense, I can rebound and I can run.  When I think of running well I think of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24:

1Cor 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Paul, at this part of the chapter is speaking of the importance of the gospel and living for Christ.  When I think of the effort and the energy and the practice and the pride that I put into running well and winning at basketball, I wonder if I always place the same effort and energy, the same practice and pride into sharing the gospel and living for Christ as I do for playing basketball.  I hope I put more emphasis on my relationship with Christ!  I think I do.  I hope I do.  I pray that I am always concerned about learning God’s word, living God’s word and lovingly sharing it with others.  I pray that I am running the Christian race in such a way that I am winning where it counts.

Posted in 1 Corinthians 9:24, Christianity, faith, following Christ, God | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Things Should Be Let Go

I attended the funeral yesterday for one of my friends  named Steve.  I’ve had a lot of good memories and good stories come to my mind this week about Steve. A good person always leaves you with a lot of good stories and good memories and Steve is one of the best. I remember one time at church a group of us men were trimming trees and clearing debris after a storm. We had been working for a few hours and as I was walking to the other side of the property I met up with Steve. He mentioned he had moved an old saw horse but got popped by a yellow jacket that had made a little nest underneath it. I told him I would have helped him but that I didn’t even see him moving that old saw horse. He smiled and said, “Well, what with those yellow jackets and all… I really didn’t move that saw horse very far. A fellow needs to know when to let some things go.”

That was Steve. He had a way with words. I used that story one time of Steve, the sawhorse and the yellow jackets to illustrate the verse in Ephesians 4:31 where we are told to let go of bitterness, wrath, anger, slander and malice in our lives and instead are told to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving others just as God in Christ has forgiven us. By the way he lived, Steve always helped me remember that some things are worth holding on to and some things just need to be let go. I know Steve helped others remember things like that too. And for that reason, it’s gonna be real hard to let him go. I hope that God blesses you this week with good times and good friends to hold onto and the good sense to know when to let some other things go.

Until next time, stay strong in the faith,

Pastor Phillip Stephens

Posted in Christianity, Ephesians 4:31, faith, God, good advice, Let Go of Anger, Lost a Good Friend, Saw Horses and Yellow Jackets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment