Monday, December 28, 2009

My Thoughts on Tiger Woods, Elin, and God's Redemptive Power

I am not one to weight in on the Hollywood babble business. In fact, I only recall one time when I had anything to say about specific celebrity character. You can wander through my archives and see that I could empathize all too well with Michael Vick and his need for salvation, redemption, and restoration. No, I've never fought dogs, but I have sinned, and I am as much in need of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's heart changing within me as he is.

Now, I again empathize with a celebrity that has proven too human for most folks' tastes.

Today I was on Facebook, and someone made a off-hand comment about Tiger needing to talk to a variety of other "fallen" sports figures so people who know how to spin things can deal with the media, his sponsors, and so on.

Let me put this in clear perspective for you. A Christian is saying Tiger Woods needs to find folks who can make his lie look better and get him out of hot water with folks. If that weren't enough, the focus is all about the folks that don't matter in the first place. The focus has nothing to do with his family, specifically his wife. Why not? Isn't she the one that he needs to reach at this point?

I wonder: is it that this person, and others like her, are so worldly that the world's way of thinking pervades their thoughts, or are they so hopeless that God does not pervade their thoughts?

This is the way I see it. Tiger and his family don't need spin doctors. They don't need caustic remarks or shallow attempts at humor at their expense.

Tiger Woods and his lovely wife need to know Jesus and His restorative and redeeming power. They need to be inundated with letters from people who have survived adultery, been healed from its desires and effects, and walk in God's restoration of their covenant.

Either God is sovereign--even over adultery--or He's not.

Do Tiger and Elin know that? Do people in the church? If we do, why aren't we spending our time praying for them instead of trashing them? If we don't, how can we hope they ever will?

And in case you are wondering, I know God is sovereign. It is more than a belief. It is absolute assurance to the core of my being. If you need someone to pray with you or stand with you, please contact me via my profile email. God's heart is always for healing, redemption, salvation, and restoration. Always.
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ponder: Grace

"I think anyone who is not fantastically amazed by grace does not truly understand it." -- Jerri Phillips
Friday, December 25, 2009

Divine Divinity

My grandma has been gone for over six years now. Years before that, her mind abandoned her. For the most part, she has been gone to me for over fifteen years now. For some reason, this Christmas finds me missing her immensely.

There are two things I remember with great fondness when I think of my grandma: gardening and divinity. Gardening as in flowers and vegetables. Divinity as in the candy.

I used to work with my grandma in the garden a lot. I helped her plant the garden, pick the veggies, and can the harvest. My definition of ambrosia? Grandma's black eyed peas, canned in a jar, hot and poured over a slice of bread. Food does not get much better than that.

I didn't help Grandma cook much. I never fried chicken with her or made cream gravy, but I did wear my arm out a few times using her old whisk to make meringue for her pies. And on a few special occasions, we made divinity.

I have not had divinity since the last time we made it together over two decades ago...until today.

For reasons I do not know, I needed divinity this Christmas, so I pulled out a recipe a friend sent me. Mary and I made cookies together a few years ago, and I mentioned my grandma and her divinity. Mary sent me a copy of her divinity recipe, and I've kept it like a treasure waiting to be enjoyed.

I went to the store and bought the ingredients, all the while wondering if I could do this on my own. All the while missing my grandma, wishing for one more Christmas to make this candy with her.

Today I took time to deliver some yummies and clean the house, and when everything was done, I pulled out my recipe, looked at Mary's writing, and saw my grandma's face. I could do this, but did I want to? Did I really want to do this by myself? I tucked the recipe back into my cookbook and did other things.

When the doorbell rang, I was surprised. When I opened the door, our neighbor stood with a container in her hands. "Mom made this for your family. It's homemade candies."

The box was filled with a variety goodies. I wasn't sure what they all were, but on top was unmistakable treasure, the divine kind that only God can deliver, the kind that comes in the form of white fluffy divinity.

People ask me how I hear God speak, how He communicates His love for me. Sometimes He speaks in a voice I've come to know. Sometimes He speaks through His written Word. And sometimes, like today, He does it with divine divinity.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips

The Gifts of Jesus

If I could give you all a gift today, I would give you Christ, not as you probably know Him, but as the passionate pursuer of you, His Beloved.

I would give you Christ the Healer who desires to heal your body, mind, and spirit, who isn't afraid of your hurts or the anger and hopelessness that may go with them.

I would give you a Counselor who can help you move beyond all boundaries and prisons, preconceived ideas, small-minded lies spoken by small-minded and small-faithed people, and fear so you can live in the wildness of who He is, into the wildness of who you were created to be in Him.

I would give you the Savior who can take everything you've ever done and rip its weight from you and let you fly in Him.

I would give you the Friend who is too good to be true, the one that never leaves, the one that always understands, the one who is never afraid of being real, and who only speaks the Truth--loving, uplifting, life-giving. The one who never has alterior motives, but always leads you back where you need to go, to the real you, to the real God.

I would give you the Jesus that values you more than you value yourself, the one that knows how special you really are, the one who embraces your strengths...and weaknesses, and sees unfathomable potential in you.

I would give you the Jesus that right now is calling your name with arms open wide, hodling out all of these gifts and more, and I would give you the courage to believe everything He promises you.

In fact, I offer Him to you now.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior or if there is some other aspect of Him I have described that you do not know, His gifts are only a prayer away. He is no respecter of persons, and He never turns away someone who seeks Him. All you need do is ask.

Salvation is not complicated. To receive Jesus as your Savior, you need to confess that you are a sinner, that you believe He died to save you from those sins, and that you want Him to forgive you for them. Ask Him to be all He wants to be in your life. He wants to be all I've listed and more.

If you are saved but don't know Jesus as a Counselor, Healer, Lover, Friend, or a myriad of other facets of His identity, ask Him to reveal Himself to you as such. Ask Him to open your eyes to see Him that way. If you are like me, you may need to ask Him to free you from beliefs the prevent you from seeing Him in all His fullness. He will. He is excited to share Himself with you. I have found we underestimate His passion for us far more than we overstate it.

And maybe you need the gift of seeing yourself as He sees you. If so, that is available for the asking, too. Again, you may need to ask for the courage to believe what He says and to embrace it so you can live in the Truth of you. He will give you that gift as well.

If you have questions or have accepted Jesus as your Savior and want more information, please contact me via my profile. You'll find my email there, or post a comment here. Nothing shows up without my approval, so if you want to comment with your contact information but not have it public, just let me know.

Merry Christmas, dear ones! May you find the greatest gifts of all in the only One who can give you everything you need!
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Right Now

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Promises of desired goodies will be piled high under the tree. The aroma of turkey, ham, and the fixin's will fill the house. Laughter and squeals of joy will ring through the rooms. It's going to be a wonderful day...tomorrow.

Right now, the floors need swept and mopped. The bathroom counter needs wiped down, and the mirror needs the smudges removed. Papers and magazines need to find homes, either in baskets or the recycle bin. Ingredients sit on the table waiting to be made into something mouthwatering. And, as usual, a few gifts remain in need of wrapping. Yes, I still have a to do list...right now.

But tomorrow... Tomorrow the waiting is over. Dreams come to life. Fulfillment pours from boxes, and rejoicing is abundant.

Tomorrow...dishes will fill the sink...and sit stacked on the counter. The refrigerator will have to be rearranged to hold the leftovers we don't want to spoil. Ripped wrapping paper and boxes will lie like carnage in heaps around the room. Recycle bins will overflow.

But right now those things don't matter. They are easily hidden in the shadow of the promised joy seen in the eyes of those I love and in the boxes under the tree. Right now I am lost in the promises of tomorrow, escaping the dreary demands of today.

And in the dreaming of tomorrow, it is easy to miss the blessings of Right Now.

Right now my daughter is laughing while she helps her dad wrap presents. My son is playing with his new Lego set he received in the mail today. The sky is dropping fat snow flakes.

Right now Anna is twelve and loves to cook with me. Robert is nine and wants all of us to play. Games are waiting to be played. Pieces of wood are ready to try a new form of art. Cocoa is ready to be enjoyed, and we have plans to watch a movie curled up together.

Right now I am sitting in my warm home, with my warm socks, and my hot coffee. Light streams through the window, and when I look out, I see the sky filled with clouds pregnant with enough snow to cover the ground. This is no small thing in Texas.

Right now the world is a wondrous place filled with God's blessings. I am overwhelmed with His goodness and gifts. My imperfect life with all its demands and needs abounds with fulfilled promises and evidence of His love. In this moment, I have all I need, and that is enough, and I choose to enjoy it...Right Now.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips

The Reason

Good morning, LORD.
Right now, it is quiet in the house. The light is peaking over the neighbor's fence into the backyard, and the lights are glowing softly on the tree. Before long, the family will be up moving. Breakfast smells will seep from the kitchen, and the busy day of preparing for guests and gifts will begin. Right now, though, there are only the two of us.

In the quiet, I stop to ponder. It is so easy to let the "Reason" get avalanched under the "season". I've done a lot of "seasoning" this year, and I don't want the real stuff, the good stuff, the life-altering stuff to get buried or missed. So I'm getting still, pondering what is in my heart, pondering the Gift and the Giver, knowing to celebrate the Gift is not to merely see a babe in a manger or a Messiah on a cross, but to see, know, and embrace the daily presence of a GOD of love whose passion refuses to keep Him aloof or on a throne but compels Him to wildly pursue those He loves.

This is what I ponder now. The gift of pursuit. The gift of being found.

Growing up, I knew about the babe in the manger. Later, I understood the power of the Messiah on the cross. With tender healing, soft touch, and loving words, you showed me the heart of a Father. A few years ago you begin to reveal to me the passion of a Lover. Each new facet you revealed left me overwhelmed with you, overcome by the reality of a God madly in love with mere humans. Beyond my wildest dreams was a God who cared more about the details of my life than I did, who was far more realistic about my imperfections than I am but saw far more potential than I ever dreamed, and believed I could do the impossible because He wanted to do it through me. This God pursued me.

Even now such Truth takes my breath away. Such amazing beautiful gifts.

As always, you are the Giver. As always, you are the Gift.

This year you gave again. You gave me a gift I wasn't sure existed. I wasn't sure it could exist between an imperfect human and a perfect God. You stepped down from your throne and sat on my couch, and you became my Friend.

You have talked to me intimately. You have shared your heart in ways I never dreamed you would. We have sat together and watched the sun rise while you painted the sky for me to enjoy. You shared lovely morning concerts as we sat on my deck and listened to the birds serenade you. You opened your heart to me as we talked about people you love, how you want to bless them, healing you want to do, and then you asked I would use my authority you've given me to declare into my realm, to bring heaven to earth.

My realm. The place you opened your arms to and said, "I need you to govern here and do my bidding. I need you to be me where those whose spiritual eyes aren't opened see me in the form of you."

So many times you've placed pieces of heaven into my hands and said, "I need you to deliver this into your realm."

In an ICU room while monitors beeped and life was freed from his clay vessel, you sat with us. You allowed me to see you so clearly there. It was a side of you I had never seen. A side I hope I never forget. So patient. So understanding. So focused on the one you were taking home.

When my heart hurt more than I ever imagined it could without exploding in my chest, you were right with me. When I screamed, you never flinched. When I cried, you caught every tear in your hand. Sometimes you spoke. Sometimes you sat quietly. Always you were there.

As I knelt on my knees searching for seedlings breaking through the ground, you were on your knees, peering at the ground with me, and at the hint of life, you got excited, too. And I loved how you wondered at the blossoms on the plants you created. Maybe "wondered" isn't the right word, but "enjoy" is really too small of a word. It was a pleasure that settled down deep inside you. I had never seen pleasure like that. Maybe next year, you can give me that gift, too?

And the morning glories! They exploded their praise to you, and you walked by, gently brushing your hand over them, as if to tell them they had done well, that they had given you a beautiful gift, and that you were pleased.

Oh, and do you remember the one lone sunflower that couldn't take its eyes off you but followed you from morning till dark? I loved that flower. I know. You did, too.

Even when I am "ugly" and struggling with attitudes or temptations, you are right there. "Talk to me. Why is this a temptation for you? What do you feel you are missing? Where do you feel I've failed you or didn't keep my promise? I want to lay this out in the open because I love you to much to let you think I would ever lie to you or not be all I promised to be. I want you to know I am wholly your Provider and your King. I want you to realize I'm not afraid of imperfections. I will not abandon you. When the enemy comes at you, I'm right with you, and we'll tear apart his strategy, understand why has worked in the past, and fix the broken area that allowed his access by filling it with Truth. I'm not 'skeered, Jerri. I'm in. For everything. Everyday. I'm your Friend. Talk to me."

These are the things I ponder. These are the things that humble me and bring tears to my eyes.

My heart is overwhelmed with you.

I am overwhelmed by how completely tangible you are, how clearly I see you now, and how loud your quiet whisper is.

I'm still trying to grasp how completely fascinated you are with me. You love taking things that most people dismiss as minutea, and you make it wondrous simply because you care about it. You get to excited when I find a gift you've given me. You love to surprise me. You get giddy with excitement when we share a joke or I find one of your "just between us" gifts. And I am amazed at how childlike is the God of the universe.

You fascinate me.

In Song of Songs, it says, "You have stolen my heart, oh beautiful one. You have stolen my heart." Words you spoke to me a month ago, wrap around me, opening my eyes to see you more clearly, to see me through your eyes.

You have utterly swept me off my feet. You have stolen my heart, oh beautiful one. You have stolen my heart.

You are more than an almighty GOD or a Messiah raised to glory. You are my Friend that I can't wait to see every day. The one I can't wait to share my life with, the one whose heart I want to know intimately. You are the one who takes me beyond my dreams into a love that consumes you...or perhaps you are the love that consumes me.

Right now, the house is coming alive. Children are now moving around. Murmurings of empty stomachs are coming my way. Feet are heard on the hard wood floors, and anticipation for the season's climax fills the air.

In twenty-four hours the empty area under the tree will be filled with brightly covered packages spilling into the room around it. In thirty-six hours, the mayhem of ripped paper, empty boxes, and stuffed bellies will be over. Travelling family will have gone home. The first wave of dishes will be drying in the dishwasher. The recycle bins will be overflowing, and hopefully, the children will still love their toys then.

And when the house has gone silent, you and I will sit, lights glowing softly from a tree soon to go back in the attic. Maybe we'll talk. Maybe we won't, but we will be together...friends and more...both of us the gifts...both of us the givers...our hearts wide open...fascinated and consumed...such is the wonder of the Reason...every single day.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips
Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lovely Gifts

This morning I walked through my home in the early morning light and found myself wrapped in the joy of loving my life.

The fact is, I love my life.

I love the race car track spread out in the sunroom floor.
I love Anna's "I'm reading that" books liking here and there. Four in all right now.
I love the sleeping bags rolled up nicely and sitting misplaced in my bedroom floor, knowing on any given night, for reasons I may never know, my youngest will wander in, unroll one, and find peaceful rest sleeping on it on my side of the bed.
I love Robert's stained and wrinkled memory verse paper lying crinkled on the table beside the recliner where we learn the scriptures together.
I love pens, pencils, and crayons waiting for their next creative adventure. I wonder if they ever considered waiting in the tubs with the rest of the pens, pencils, and crayons. But then, what is the fun in being like everyone else, right?
I love Robert's waking up really early to see Rob off to work and then falling asleep in my lap in the recliner, where I leave him while I type in a few words of thought or sit a bit at Jesus' feet. Sometimes I just stay in the reclner, peaceful nine-year old spread across me, in wonder of how much his act of love reveals God's love for me.
I love the sound of our Millie-Mix snoring on the couch close to us. An abandoned dog tagged for destruction, rescued, loved, restored. In so many ways, I can identify.
I love the unmade bed where Rob and I spent a few moments this morning whispering in the dark, warm and content--and then the alarm went off....again.
I love the smile of remembering...
I love Bibles stacked in different parts of the house. Different versions. Different study notes. All used at different times.
I love the huge Christmas tree standing in the living room with its decades of ornaments...each one a piece of our history, a symbol of what has made our present...and the stories...the smiles...the sneaky tears that come with memories of those rejoicing in the wonder of Christmas every day...at Home.
I love the sun spilling through the windows, the creative remodel design bringing sunlight where darkness used to be.
I love coats waiting to keep us warm, mittens to protect precious hands, and scarves...a gift from Gran.
This morning I even love the two piles of laundry sitting in the living room waiting to be folded...and now ironed.
I love the Kleenex boxes, not put in away in tidy cubbies, but sitting out ready to render aid during this season of sniffly noses and too common sneezes.

Funny how things on a driven day--the day when I'm drowning in my to do list or the day when I'm concerned not so much about the people who live in this house but about what those outside think of it--funny how on those days, a book on a table instead of a shelf, a toy in the floor and not in a bedroom, or a child who is more concerned with how to love than how things look can be such nerve fraying burdens. However, there are times when wisdom whispers louder than the cacophony of life's uninterested demands, and I stop and ask, "Lord, what do you love?" When I listen closely, I find He loves the same things I do.

In that moment, I love my life all over again.


Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009

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"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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