Fiction Evidenced As Reality


What is your greatest fear?  How does it affect you?  Do you get a physical reaction or just a mental tornado upsetting the organization in your mind?  Is your greatest fear something you can control?  Is the lack of control your greatest fear?

Most times we fear because of the “unknown factors” which lie before us.  We look at our circumstances, calculate our steps and realize that there are factors which do not enter into the equation.  We begin to wonder what those factors are and how they will work out.  We then allow our minds to wander adding another unknown factor which exponentially increases our fears, until the point where we have no control, including control of our thoughts.

It was once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  Although I understand the thought process behind this and the times in which it was said, I think that we need to go one step further with that statement.  I believe, there is nothing to fear.  This is not the same thing as being afraid.  There are times in our lives, when being afraid of something may save our lives.  When we are caught in a burning house, it is being afraid of dying that drives us to try and escape it.  When we are caught in the under tow, being sucked out into the middle of the ocean, it is being afraid that may keep us afloat.

Being afraid of something and fearing are very different.  Being afraid keeps us alive.  Having fear kills us slowly.  When we fear, we create an environment where our minds are no longer in control of our thoughts and many times a physical reaction occurs.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I woke up yesterday and felt very stressed out.  Over the last three weeks, my schedule has been, what some would call…INSANE!  Working a full time job, where we have been short staffed with more work coming in, helping a friend’s church stay afloat, spending time with my wife and kids and trying to spend more time with God has created an atomic explosion in my mind.  Yesterday was the fall out.

In previous blogs, I shared with you my struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  However, even though I suffer with this, there are days, like yesterday, where even medication won’t help.  Part of my therapy to combat this “fallout” is to spend time in prayer, read Scripture and write.  If any one of those components is missing, the fallout wins and depression begins to set itself into place.

Here is where fear takes root.  Depression is just one way that fear solidifies itself and it is very difficult to get rid of it.  Have you ever tried to take out a weed that was in the ground for a long time?  The weed spreads out its roots over a vast area.  This way, when the gardener comes, he/she struggles to pull it out of the ground.  Sometimes the week breaks at ground level and cannot be pulled any further.  The gardener then has two choices.  Choice #1 is to wait it out and then try to pull it out again with brut force.  However with this choice, the weed must grow again.  With fear, we may do things to pull it out by brut force but many times, the root of the issue is still there.  When we choose this method, we allow the fear to reinstate itself and take further root in our lives.  There is another choice.

Choice #2 is a bit more drastic but effective.  If the gardener chooses the wise choice, he/she will get a digging tool and begin the process of ensuring that all of the weed plant, with its roots, is permanently removed.  With this method, the gardener will disturb the entire area in an effort to find out the “root cause”.  The gardener will dig up as much as they can in order to ensure that the weed does not return.  When we deal with fear properly, we must disturb other areas of our lives.  The digging up of past issues, past hurts or past relationships causes us to shuffle ideas and question our motivations.  It forces us to rethink ideals and theologies we have learned.  It upsets all that we believe, the question is can we recover from that disturbance?

Just like the ground, healing takes time.  In the Old Testament, God tells Israel to plant and sow for 6 years.  On the 7th year, let the ground rest from its work.  There are many theologies concerning this but from a practical level, it gave the ground one year to heal.

Sometimes, we need to do the same thing.  There are times we need to step away from the busyness of life and allow ourselves to heal.  Maybe, we need to let go of horrible past relationships or forgive someone who has hurt us.  In some cases, it may be us that needs to ask for forgiveness from someone we hurt.  Whatever it is, don’t let fear dismantle the healing process.

Fear is nothing more than Fiction Evidenced As Reality.  It doesn’t exist.  It is a false representation of the reality of a hurting soul.  Fear is the tool Satan uses to keep us where we are so that we do not cry out to the loving Good Shepherd, who is ready to rescue us.  Fear is just as bad as quotes that people say is in Scripture.

Have you ever heard, “Time heals all wounds”?  It’s in the Bible, right?  There is nothing further from the truth.  This saying is a way for us, as human beings, to pull out the weed of fear and leave its roots in place.  Time does not heal, it just passes.

Many have tried to say it is a Psalm or Proverb.  It isn’t.  What the Scripture does say is in Psalm 147:

2The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.…

New American Standard Bible

It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted.  It is the Lord who heals their wounds.  It is the Lord who counts the stars and names them all.  It is the Lord who can get rid of whatever is keeping you back from coming to Him.

If you are hurting, He knows.  If you are questioning, He has answers.  If you are crying, he is crying with you.  Two of the greatest words ever written were when Jesus approaches the grave of Lazarus.

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”  It was an incredible proclamation.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die.  Jesus knew He was going to raise him from the dead.  So why did Jesus weep?  Simply to show he was 100% human.  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show He was 100% God.  Isn’t that an encouragement for us today?  Think about that for a moment.  Jesus felt what we feel.  He understood what it was like to lose someone.  He understands what it is like to hurt.  And in all of that experience, He never allowed fear to persuade him.  He never allowed the fiction that Satan feeds our minds to take root in His own.

If you are hurting, if you are living in fear, there is someone who understands.  Jesus Christ knows what you are going through, yet desires for you and I to tell Him.  It is Jesus Christ who can heal you.  He can remove the roots of the weed that so easily entangles you.  Only Jesus Christ can take all of our fear, all of our anxiety and use it for His glory and His purposes.

If you don’t know who Jesus Christ is, He is the One who left heaven to come to earth as a baby.  He lived a human life, while displaying His God nature.  He allowed Himself to be beaten and tortured.  He allowed Himself to be put on public display, naked and gave His life in the most horrific way of His time, by being crucified.  But it didn’t end there.  After He cried out in a voice, “It is finished”, he was buried and on the 3rd day, rose from the dead.  HE IS ALIVE!  He is calling out to you, desiring for you to let Him rescue you.

No matter your hurt.  No matter your pain.  Jesus Christ can take it from you.  Just cry out to Him and ask Him to rescue you.  He will.  Let Him into your life and give you the life He always wanted for you.  Believe in Him, cry out to Him and be healed by Him.  Don’t let fear stop you from meeting the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Disrespect of Our Disillusion


Tom sat with his head in his open, sweaty hands.  How could he have done this?  What prevailed inside his mind that would allow him to do such a heinous act?  He decided to pour a drink to calm his nerves.  He got up and opened the oldest bottle of scotch he could find.  As he poured himself a double shot, the bottle chattered against the glass.  His hands could not stay still.  His mind raced with thoughts of anger toward himself.  “How could you have done this”, he thought.  “What was it that brought you this far away from reality?”

In the other room, a young lady walked in with a smile on her face and his shirt on her torso.  She graced herself over, grabbed the glass from his hand and took a sip of the scotch.  A kiss from her was placed on his cheek with these words, “That was really special”.  He tried to muster a smile, but could not as he knew he betrayed his love, his wife and the woman before him wasn’t her.

Every decision we make, every word we speak and every thought we think, has a consequence.  Whether good or bad, every action, work or thought has a reaction, a consequence.  We may not see it at the time, but be rest assured, a consequence is there, ready to peak it’s head, like a viper when it is about to strike.

Recently, I have been an observer of social media and news agencies.  I have cautiously not opened myself to a specific political view, social movement or radical divide.  Day by day, I have seen many people, good people, begin the process of drawing a hypothetical line in the sand declaring where they stand and what they believe.  Whether it is about which political candidate you like or whomever lives matter, many of us are going out of our way to declare what we believe to be the truth.  We have been convinced of our reality no matter how disillusioned we are.

This disillusionment has caused us to become a divided nation.  A nation where all conflicting  testimonies are correct, truth has become irrelevant and division among people groups are growing at a rapid pace.  Conflict is on the rise while love is declining into extinction.  All over the news and social media we see the results of this lack of love and increase of hatred and rebellion.  Many have taken to the street to protest in ways that breaks out in violence, fist shaking and gnashing of our teeth.  So how did we get here?  What caused us to be in this global predicament?  Was it a specific people group, ideology or is it human nature to destroy oneself?

Both Christian and Atheist, Buddhist and Islamic, Jew and Greek, have bought into this disillusionment, making each other vulnerable to prejudice and exposure.  We all have allowed our society to fall into an illness that can be likened to terminal cancer.  If we do not turn away from what we have become, we will ultimately bring ourselves into the chasm of death and be buried in the annals of history lost.

Unfortunately, most will exclude this writing as nothing more than someone who is disgruntled or upset with others behaviors without looking at themselves.  Let me make this disclaimer.  What I am bringing up has nothing to do with you or someone else.  It has to do with us.  We are the problem.  All of us are feeding the beast of this culture.  We all are to blame.  No matter our background, no matter our skin color, no matter who we think we are, we are all to blame, including me.

History has shown that when a nation is divided, then that same nation falls at the hands of others not of the same mindset.  Our own history shows how divided we were but the declaration of United We Stand was the war cry for change.  Today that war cry has gone unheard and ignored.  We have become the nightmare of countries and the falsehood of hatred.   Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be negative.  A positive change can happen, but it cannot start with us.  It cannot start with any other person from any other nation.  It can only happen when we reserve ourselves to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our lives.

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,[b] as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:4-6 (NKJV)

It is the Gospel that changes lives.  It is the Gospel that bears fruit in our lives.  Only the Gospel can change our hearts and minds to unity and progress.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, we have forsaken our Creator.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, our lives are deteriorating into the very pit of Hell.  We have allowed sin to overtake our lives and become our slave master.  We have forsaken the freedom of loving others the way Jesus Christ loves us.  So what is sin compared to salvation in Jesus Christ?

Sin is the chain maker.  Salvation is the chain breaker.  Sin binds us to things.  Salvation frees us.  Sin tells us we are worthless.  Salvation tells us we are worth more than we realize.  Sin leads to death.  Salvation leads to life eternal.

No matter how you feel about society, no matter how you feel about the current social, economic or political environment, sin is the reason we are where we are today.  It has been used by Satan to ensure that our lives are chained to the slavery and division.  Sin has placed in our hearts that some lives matter while others do not.  Sin has told us that one person is a liar and the other is a scam artist.  Sin informed us that one group of people are to blame for the ills of our society.  Let me make sure I am very clear.  Satan is using our sinful lives to bind us, destroy us and ultimately convince us to reject our Creator.

In the words of the famous theologian Francis Schaeffer “How then shall we live?”

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will [i]behave properly toward outsiders and [j]not be in any need.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” – Matthew 28:19-20

These two passages show us what our lives are really about.  These passages show us that our goal is to live a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our hands.  We are to be productive, kind, loving and ready to serve others.  We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our testimony.  We are to make disciples, not division.  We are to do the work that has been commanded to us.  Did you notice that?  Both of these were commanded.  They were not suggestions.  These are things we are to do.

What I will say next is for those who claim to the servants of Jesus Christ….

WAKE UP CHURCH!  We are not doing what God has commanded us to do.  We do not love others when we bash our government leaders and others via social media.  We are not living how God commanded us to live when we shout from the mountain top about our rights and forget to love those who are lost.  We are living in sin if we do not do the things commanded us.

Our goal in this life is to spread the love of Jesus Christ and make disciples.  That’s it!  We may have the “American right” to speak our peace, but is that the way Jesus handled it?  He didn’t go after the political leaders, he went after those who claimed to be His.  He toppled the tables and drove the money changers away because they had no respect for where God’s people gathered.  He didn’t go after the Roman government or voice his discontent with Caesar.  He simply served others, drew people to Himself, showed them compassion and reprimanded the religious leaders who were enslaving their own people with rules and regulations.

The good news about all of this, is we still have time to turn to God.  We NEED to turn back to God and repent of our lack of love.  We NEED to repent of our sin of division and disrespect.  This country CANNOT change unless Jesus Christ is involved and this country CANNOT change unless WE (the Church) repent of our sin and change how we do things.

If we (the Church) do not change, our country will run the high risk of extinction.  The United States is not mentioned in Scripture nor is it implied.  The United States is not the center of this world but God has used us to further His Gospel all over the world.  His Gospel is the center of all creation, not us.

I hope you understand the tears I shed for us.  I pray that we all change our current travels on the wide path (which leads to destruction) and turn toward the narrow path (which leads to life eternal).  Only Jesus Christ and His Gospel will change us.  Please join me in repenting of our sin and making a positive difference by refraining from passionate division and disrespect.

May God have mercy and grace on us as we all seek to change the direction of this country toward Him.  God bless and encourage someone today.

Serpula – Chapter 2


Here is the latest installment of Serpula.  Comments are always welcome…

The air was the cleanest it had been for some time.  Since the Serpula had shown mankind the atmospheric purification process, people no longer needed protective suits and breathing apparatus to walk around the City of Ruins or its surroundings.  The only radiation present was that from the sun and even that was no longer a burden on mankind.  The atmospheric purification process had allows humans to live longer than ever before.  Even in the City of Ruins, one could live a hundred years and still feel youthful and energetic.

      However, there were still necessities in this lost, decrepit city.  The necessary supplies for the day were all that was required; food and water and protection for security.  Food and water were necessary from the outside.  As there were no legitimate inhabitants, none of the electricity from the main land, was sent.  Therefore, the city became the nomad land of generations past.  One for self and none for all.  This was the main reason security was necessary.  Unfortunately, no one wanted to be a security officer in the abandoned city and the Serpula felt the city was not worth their time.  If not for a weapon and his skill with hand to hand combat, the wanderers and vagabonds would ransack his camp, beat him and leave him for dead.

      As Peter hiked down what was once the main thoroughfare, called Broadway, he noted the various and sometimes comical signs on the buildings.  An old toy store called Tim’s Toys and Such.  A coffee shop called Corner Coffee, and many convenience stores all with old rusted signs that squeaked in the gentle cool breeze.  Broken display windows exposed the mannequins and antiquated electronics.  Most of the clothing stores had been ransacked by the hidden, mysterious and violent inhabitants of the city.  Store by store, Peter wrote down the natural and unnatural deterioration of the city’s architecture in an effort to put together a story of ancient times.  As a historian that was his primary goal.  As an amateur archeological enthusiast, the digging was to be done at another time.

      Peter looked down at his watch which displayed the time, date and weather.  Weather was the most important as you never knew when an approaching storm was coming.  Even thought the atmosphere was clean, storms had grown in strength and severity over the past half century.  Hurricanes had become a yearly phenomenon.  Although this wasn’t the season for hurricanes, it was the season for surprise rain storms.  If you didn’t seek protection from the elements, you may become ill and unprotected from nature, wanderers or criminals.

      As he studied his watch, he realized he was slightly behind schedule.  He thought to himself, “If I cannot finish today, I will have to make this trek tomorrow as well.”  The thought of camping out overnight crossed his mind, but his safety would have been at risk.  As he pondered his options, he felt it best to get to the study sight, work for a couple of hours and then make the hike back toward his safe haven.  At least he would have food, water and electricity based on a small solar generator he made during his university days.  At least, he wouldn’t have to worry about stories of the old city rummaging through his mind at rapid pace.

      Everyone had been told and believed that the City of Ruins “citizens” were ruthless, violent and desperate.  A small population of men and women who claimed the Serpula were the enemy were the main inhabitants.  They felt that the laws of peace and prosperity were immoral, unethical and against the laws of an ancient mystical god.  Peter thought they were mostly insane, but the Serpula felt it important to have them banned from society.

      Stories had been told to him as a child about an archaeologist who after exploring the midtown area, was surrounded, beaten and left for dead.  It had been so horrible that his own family couldn’t identify his body once it was discovered floating in the river between the City of Ruins and coast of Eastern Kingdom.  That was why protection was so important.  At least Peter would have a chance to protect himself in the sight of danger.  Peter knew he had to finish what he started today.

      After an hour and a half of walking, he arrived at the study sight.  The shorter buildings and abandoned eateries told him this area was more residential than it was business.  Tables and chairs were rusted, missing portions of legs so that they were either leaning or toppled.  Awnings were torn and graffiti dressed walls.

      The graffiti were indications of who was there.  The markings were an old design of a skull with a cross on top of its head.  This design was the mark of the Psychotics, a group of people who thought they saw and heard things that weren’t really there.  Due to their psychosis, they were the most violent and most desperate.  He had encountered them when he first arrived at another location north of where he was staying.  Once, when he was documenting his observances of the sight, a man came out running toward him shouting, “Take heed of the dogs.  Take heed of the dogs.”

      Without hesitation, Peter had used his hand to hand combat skills to take him down.  He didn’t want to harm him, but as this Psychotic attacked him, he felt the need to protect himself.  As Peter locked the stranger in a classic choke hold, he heard the man whisper, “Take heed of the dogs.  They are like the donkey of old.”  With that, Peter let go as to not kill him but simply render him immobile.  Peter then understood the necessity of a weapon other than his hands.

      For years, Peter had studied the ancient martial art form, Akido.  As far back as he could remember, he would study under his master, Toshiharu Nagasaki.  An older but gentle man, Toshiharu pushed Peter to excel at whatever he put his mind to.  At first, Peter felt Toshiharu was too demanding, but he learned over time that the demands of the art were specific, humbleness, control and discipline.  If it wasn’t for Akido, Peter would never have learned to succeed in life.  Peter knew he couldn’t stay for long but one building caught his eye.

      Although its walls appeared to be crumbing, the architecture told him it was built around the early 1900s.  Nearly eight hundred years had passed since the building had its first inhabitants.  The distinguished lines, the castle style top and the crumbling plaster enticed Peter’s imagination.  What was it like?  How did people live in these conditions?  As he thought about these things, a noise from within the building captured his attention.

      “Hello?” Peter asked, “Is anyone there?”

      No answer came, yet the noise happened again.

      “Hello?  Is anyone there?  I don’t want to hurt you,” Peter asked a second time.

      Once again, no answer came.  The noise sounded like a deer that had been wounded and was crying for help.  Disobeying his instincts, Peter began to approach the building with his weapon of choice in hand, an old samurai sword.  Light and well crafted, Peter had the ability to wield this sword and use it appropriately.  In order for him to accept the position by the government, he had to prove that he was able to protect himself as no military personnel were allowed to enter the city.

      The city had become a prison island of sorts.  The military was allowed to drop criminals off, but no residence could be taken other than that of historic or archaeological in nature.  And even that was done at one’s own risk.  Convict and drop off.  Nothing else, nothing more.  Sometimes, the military would simply throw the convicts overboard and told them to swim to the island and make bets to see who would survive.  On occasion, the captain would turn away and the soldiers would take bets on how many they could pick off before they reached shore.  Most times, the convicts would drown as they never learned how to swim.  Either way, the world had gotten rid of the criminals.  Understanding this, Peter still felt the need to write a true story based on the historical discoveries of this old city.

      The noise sounded for a third time.  This time it was louder than before.  Peter slowly released his sword from its sheath, readying himself for any possible attack.  As he cautiously opened the door, he peered around the room.  He saw the layers of dust and dirt indicating centuries of neglect.  A single wooden desk still stood while the old style office chair had two wheels missing.  Above the desk was a mirror that had clouded with time.  To the left a window with broken glass.  To the right, a closet door.  He entered the room and shone a flashlight with the intent to continue on this quest.

      Again the noise became louder.  Peter knew he was walking in the right direction.  As he walked toward the back of the room, he noted another door with frosted glass and what appeared to be a light moving back and forth behind it.  Peter turned off his light, gripped his sword with both hands and tapped on the door.

      “Hello,” Peter shouted.  “Is anybody there?”

      No answer came from behind the door.  The light continued to move back and forth.  Peter thought, “Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe it’s an optical illusion.”  His instincts told him to leave, but his curiosity got the better of him.  What or who was behind the door?  How were they getting light when no electricity flowed through this place?  Whatever or whomever it was, Peter knew he was in for a possible fight.

      As he approached the door, reached for the handle and silently turned it.  As the door opened, it creaked loudly as a cry for help.  He looked around to discover the origin of the horrific sound.  As he looked around, he saw an old non-working light swinging, swinging and a hole in the wall that led to the outside.  Suddenly, a bird swooped down and hit the old light making it swing.  “That’s all it was.  A clumsy bird”, Peter thought smiling, while giving a sigh of relief.

      Again the noise became louder and more frequent.  This time, Peter knew the noise was with him in the room.  As he looked around, he saw a closet with the door hanging half off.  The top hinge had rusted and disintegrated by the rain, while the bottom hinge was nearly gone as well.   He heard the noise and knew it was coming from inside there.

      Peter approached the closet and placed his sword in front of him, ready to protect himself from whatever or whomever may appear.  “Last warning”, Peter exclaimed.  When Peter was in striking range, he kicked the door into the closet.  He cleared the door with one hand and what he saw was not so shocking.  Two cats.  Two simple alley cats.  They had gotten through the hole in the wall and were in the process of doing what cats do during certain seasons, mating.

      Peter began to laugh.  How ridiculous could he have been?  The thoughts of someone hurting and left for dead had raced through his mind.  Yet in all of this, all it was were cats.  Simply cats.  As he continued to laugh his hearty laugh, his phone rang.

      Peter opened his pack and took out a flat thin touchscreen device.  The device rang with vigor.  He had equipped his device with Serpula technology called, Everlasting Sight, a method of taking a voice pattern and making it a three dimensional projection.  They had given mankind this technology soon after their first arrival.  They wanted to make a positive impact on mankind and show they were peaceful beings, overseeing mankind’s evolution.  He swiped his finger from left to right and an image immediately appeared just above the screen in three dimensions.

      “Peter, honey, it’s mom”, said the female image.

      “Hi mom.  How are things?”

      Peter’s mother was a distinguished short grey haired woman.  Prior to her business days, she was a stay at home mother.  However, no matter what she did or where she was, she always had a smile and appeared to be the most distinguished person in the room.  Well dressed and a face that looked younger than her hair, she could make a chaotic room, orderly simply by entering the room.  Her presence commanded respect and order.

      “Things are fine here.  I was just calling to find out when you’re coming home, honey”, she voiced intently.

      “By the end of the week, I hope.  It depends on how much I can get done over the next couple of days”, Peter answered.

      “The end of the week?  You told me that last week and the week before.  Are you sure this time?  Your father and I miss you and are concerned about your safety with the upcoming winter.”

      “Yes mom.  I am sure this time.”

      “How are you getting off that retched island?”

      “Military convoy.  They should dock this week.  My boss has requested that I take some time off to recoup.”

      “Recoup?  From what?  What happened?  Are you hurt?  Did one of those criminals attack you?”  Peter’s mother asked with worry.

      “Stay calm mom.  I’m not hurt and no one has attacked me.  It’s just that I’ve been here for five years and my boss feels that some vacation is in order.  That’s all.”

      “Oh, okay honey”, his mother said with calmness.  In the background a door was opened and another voice was heard.  His mother quickly turned and said, “I’m in here, dear.  Peter, your father’s home.  Did you want to speak with him?”

      “I can’t mom.  I have to go.  I only have another hour before, I start to lose daylight.  I have to be sure to get back to my apartment before then and it took me an hour and a half to get here.”

      “Okay honey.  Well finish up and get back there in a hurry.  I love you and please be safe.”

      “I love you too mom.”

      “Promise me that you will be home by the end of the week, no exceptions.”

      “I promise mom.  So long as the transport is there, I will be home on Friday.  Bye.”

      “Bye, Peter.”

      As both hung up the phone, Peter thought, “I’d better start heading back to write my report.”  Peter put away his sword, picked up his bag and started to head back to his apartment.  Another day, another discovery even if it only was a couple of felines.  At least when he arrived at his apartment, there was food ratios and a cold sponge bath waiting.  He quickly turned around and started his journey back.  In a few days, he would be home eating a home cooked meal.  That was definitely something he was looking forward to.

John McCandlish Phillips Remembered (1927 – 2013)


There once was a young boy, who went with his father to gather the family for a holiday dinner.  He entered the car not knowing where he was going but knowing his father knew the location allowed peace and calm to enter his being.

When the two arrived, both entered the small apartment knowing that the boy’s grandmother was coming with them to dinner.  As the boy turned to climb the last of the stairs, there was a second person there, a man, whose stature exceeded most.  The boy’s father said, “Joey, this is your uncle John.”

This was my first introduction to my uncle, John McCandlish Philips.  As he approached during our introduction, he leaned toward me, reached out his hand and shook mine saying, “How are you Joseph?”

While it appeared his hand encompassed my hand, wrist and forearm, there was a smile that broke all tension.  His smile was always something that eased the struggles of life.  There was a certain peace and serenity that emitted from his very being.  At the time, I could not place my finger on it, but later on, I would discover the source of his peace.

Year after year, my uncle would come from his Manhattan apartment to our home.  The holidays were the times we would spend with Uncle John.  Every holiday, I would hope to sit next to this gentle giant and every year, my hopes came true.  Just to sit and listen to him speak would allow me just a glimpse as to what was important in his life.

Conversations with Uncle John would always be about church, beliefs and politics.  He would talk about and share what he was writing, what projects he was doing and where he was speaking.  The tales of ministering at Columbia University was always something that he was excited about.  Hearing about others coming to know Jesus and how they would impact their world was exciting and new for Uncle John.  Each and every story emanated with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

On one occasion, I decided to ask my uncle a question regarding Scripture.  At the time, I had been studying the prophetic events in Daniel, Revelation and other books of the Bible.  I had heard of various beliefs and aspects but none appeared to be complete.  As we sat there, I asked, “Uncle John, what is your view of the End Times?  Do you believe in Pre-Tribulation Rapture or Post?”

My uncle’s response was quick but loving and gentle.  He turned to me with a look of seriousness that made me feel guilty, even though that was not his intent and said, “What does it matter?  I hold to one truth that is in Scripture.  Jesus will physically return one day.”

I smiled and pondered what he was saying.  Instead of pushing my agenda, I just sat and thought about what he said and how he said it.  It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I realized, my uncle was not upset, he was just making a point.  The synopsis of his directness was the only area of Scripture that matters is Jesus.  If the position takes you away from Jesus, then it is a position that he would not hold.  It was because of my Uncle John, that I decided to study more about the end times and finally take the same position, Jesus and Jesus alone.

We had many years and dinners with my Uncle John.  Christmas appeared to be his favorite holiday.  Each year he would cautiously and carefully handpick each and everyone’s gift.  After wrapping them with perfection and care, Uncle John would, like a craftsman, make riddles that would entertain.  Each and every gift had been labeled differently.  I was certain that he would spend hours just making the gift labels just to see our reactions.  There were times I would keep the labels for months due to my fascination with his writing style.

When my uncle wrote, he did with vigor and style.  I have yet to know or see anyone write like John McCandlish Phillips.  He had a way with words that tickled the imagination and enticed the soul.  One time, I tried to read his book, “The Bible, the Supernatural and the Jews.”  After a couple of chapters, I became lost due to his extensive vocabulary and my lack of understanding.  One holiday I approached my uncle and said, “Uncle John, I am sorry to tell you that I tried to read your book, but could not.  I couldn’t understand it and got lost.”

He sat back on my parents couch, smiled and said, “Joe, don’t worry about it.”  There were no judgmental words, no harsh reaction, no sadness in his heart.  He understood not everyone communicates in the same style with the same words and reaffirmed me with his gentle words and loving smile that everything was going to be okay.

Over the past couple of days, I have been thinking about what to write regarding Uncle John.  I can only surmise that God wanted a gentle literary giant in His presence.  Although my uncle expressed that he wished another five years of ministry for the Lord to my mother, Janet De Clemente, God decided it was time for Uncle John to go home.  I know beyond any shadow of doubt that at the last breath, an angel appeared to Uncle John and carried him to the feet of Jesus and once at the feet of the Savior, Jesus took Uncle John’s hand, raised him to his feet and proclaimed, “Well done my good and faithful servant.  Come and enter into my rest.”

Uncle John, you will be missed in this world.  Your writing style and message is etched into eternity and into our hearts.  You have completed the task and run the race well.  I am sure you are now worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I can only express the sentiment of our Savior as you have heard already, “Well done, Uncle John, well done.”

My Take on Gun Violence and Regulations


Over the past number of months, we have heard about several unfortunate and tragic instances where gun violence took the lives of many.  The young children of Sandy Hook became victims to an extremely unstable individual who did not have the courage to face the penalty of his crimes.

Overshadowing all of this is the discussion on gun violence and gun regulations.  Some claim that our 2nd Amendment allows us the freedom to possess firearms.  Those who uphold to this standard claim that it is a right that was fought for and many others died ensuring that this freedom is not lost.

On the other side of the fence, are those who feel that no person (other than law enforcement or military) should be allowed to have firearms as most people don’t need them.  They feel the 2nd Amendment is outdated and irrelevant.

So with both sides voicing their opinion, I finally felt that I should weigh in.  The problem we face is not one of legal rights or moral rights, it is simply what does the law say and how are we to respond as Christians.  There is no evidence in Scripture that any of the disciples or followers of Christ has weapons when they preached.  There is also no evidence that they did not.

From a Western culture standpoint, we tend to think of Scripture as peaceful and loving.  We have been told that if we are not peaceful and loving that we are not following the direction Christ placed before us.  We tend to cite only those passages which show a timid, loving, turn the other cheek methodology.  Are we to take the abuse and not say something?  Are we not to try and protect ourselves and families from the horrific events of our world?  This is the struggle of the Christian and what we believe.

However, I must admit, that I personally do not believe that life is that simple.  Sickness, natural disasters and unfortunate violence have a tendency to take our lives and flip them upside down.  We tend to think that if there is violence and disaster that God must not love us or decided to take a break from organizing the universe or maybe He doesn’t exist at all in our minds.

In no way am I going to over simplify the debate, nor am I in any way minimizing the gut wrenching emotions and life altering events for those affected, but I would like to spell out a rounded view.

It is true that our 2nd Amendment gives us “the right to bear arms”.  However, there is more to it than just our enjoyment.  Here is what it actually says:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

First, there needs to be a well regulated militia.  Why?  For the security of a free state and doing so, we were given the right to bear arms.  Not only that but what is this “shall not be infringed”?  Basically, it means that this specific right shall not be outdated or violated.  This makes sense in the world in which it was written.

History tells us that during our early years, the British government was trying to infringe on the freedom our ancestors were fighting for.  They tried sanctions, taxes and other means to secure the “Queen’s” country.  In doing so, we were not allowed to do what we wanted for our families.  When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was a security check for keeping the freedoms we have today.  It was written, not as a gun club, but as protection against an oppressive government.  During that time, our forefathers wanted to be sure that no government could try and regulate our freedom.  It wasn’t an anarchical type of freedom, but one that was guided by the rule of law.

So does that mean we should be able to buy, sell or fire any type of weapon we want?  According to the Constitution, my answer would be yes.  However, we must also place common sense as well into this equation.  Are we to say that registration is a bad thing?  Are we to say that safety and understanding are an obstruction to our right?  Certainly not.

Personally, I believe that we need to mandate that all gun owners go through safety courses to protect them and others.  When we educate those on proper handling of firearms or other type of weapons, we allow citizens to exercise this right to bear arms, while protecting those who choose not to.

When you look at the Department of Justice statistics, you see that most violent crimes are not done with weapons, but without weapons.  And those that are weapon related have a small percentage of handguns and rifles.  In fact, there appears to be more violence with knives than with guns, yet we do not see “knife control” on the news today.  If you dig even deeper, most of the violent crimes that had guns involved were committed almost exclusively with illegal guns.  In fact, even the DOJ indicates that most young people who commit violent offenses do so with illegal guns.  Why?  Because it is easier to obtain illegal guns than legal ones!

So where does Christianity play into all of this?  Well, as I said earlier, we tend to think of Christianity as peaceful and loving.  Although this may be true to some regard, let me shed some light on something else.  Did you know that there will come a time (and probably is already here to some degree) that God will allow natural disasters to increase exponentially in order to show us that He is in control?  Did you also know that there will be a time when Jesus returns with a double-edged sword coming to free His people?

I want to be true to Scripture, so I will be as clear as I can.  Sometimes, Scripture can be rated “R” and is not all peaceful and loving.  The focus of Scripture is Jesus.  The message of Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) is God loves us and wants a relationship with us.  So how is it rated “R”?

Throughout Scripture, we see details that are violent, yet justified.  We also see unjustified violence and the horror that follows.  Think about this for a second.  King David was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he murdered his lover’s husband.  We see a judge named Deborah who “sends a spike through the temple” of her oppressor.  In all of this, we see either God’s judgement or God’s calling to an individual.  To Deborah, it was to free Israel.  To King David, it was a sin that he was judged for.

Our job as Christians is to respect and obey the laws of the land.  Therefore, if the law says that our 2nd Amendment is outdated, we are allowed to speak up, but we ultimately must obey whatever laws are passed.  There is only one area where we are allowed to disobey the law of the land.  If our government tells us that we are not allowed to read Scripture, pray or share Scripture, we are given a clear command to disobey.  The disciples didn’t stop preaching even though they were beaten and warned.  Daniel kept praying three times a day, even though the laws of his land forbid him from doing so.

The ultimate law of all lands is to have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we are to do everything in our power to keep that relationship healthy and strong, no matter the cost.  In Hebrews we read about those who lost their lives and kept their faith.  History shows Rome oppressing the Christian Jews, sending them to the Colosseum to be killed by gladiators and lions.  They did not fight for their rights, they just obeyed God in His commandments.

As Americans, we have been given the right to stand for what our forefathers declared as law.  We have the right to voice our opinion and vote for those who stand for what is right.  As Christians, we have been given the freedom to pray and seek God for wisdom.  We have been set free from the oppression of sin and given the ultimate freedom that Christ fought for.

As an American, I believe that our government and news agencies are barking up the wrong tree.  As it is easier to obtain an illegal gun, then the regulations and laws need to be focused on that and not on the legal gun owners.  Legal gun owners have been given a background check and in most cases can’t pick up their weapon until they have been cleared with the federal agencies.  Therefore, the focus should not be on the legal weapons but the illegal ones.

As a Christian, I believe that even though we have the rights based on our Constitution, we do not have the right to disobey our leaders when it comes to these same laws.  We are only to disobey if it interrupts our relationship with God.

Even though I believe we have the right to bear arms legally, I also believe that God is in control and if He decides that our government is to be oppressive in order to fulfill his judgement then so be it.  My personal belief is that if we are losing our rights, then Christians need to stop living their current lifestyle, where no one knows who is a Christian and who is not.  We need to repent and change our lives in order to reflect a God who is drawing others to Himself.  We need to change our lives in order to show others that God isn’t a wimpy God, but a strong, loving, yet jealous God who cares about what and who we worship.

Let’s start by looking into our own lives, as Christians, and ask God to obliterate the sin that so easily entangles us.  Pray, read, study and memorize Scripture in order to do what Scripture says thereby changing our minds to be more Christ-like.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Islam, Freedom and the Christian Reaction…


The recent, yet unfortunate, current events overseas has allowed the topic of freedom to become the forefront of conversation and publicity.  It also fits into the topic on which I am writing today…Freedom of Speech.

In my last blog, I mentioned that I would go through the Constitution of the United States and one of my first writings was supposed to be on this topic of our 1st Amendment Right, the right to free speech.

At the same time, I would also like to be sensitive to whomever is reading this so before I begin, I would like to make this my preface.  First, I do not agree with the producer and maker of a film that ridicules others religion, race or creed.  Second, I also do not agree with the current response the people of various countries have been showing because they were offended.  Third, I hope that anyone who reads this will understand (but not necessarily accept) how our system works in the United States.

Our forefathers created several documents that make a baseline for how our country is supposed to be run.  The first document that comes to mind was the Declaration of Independence.  The second is the Constitution of the United States of America.  The prior details what our forefathers felt were rights for every human being.  The later shows how we can run our government and separates the rights of the people in view of the structure of government.

The 1st Amendment of our Constitution says the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the  free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If you take this at face value you would see a number of items concerning how religion is to be viewed.  First, our lawmakers are NOT allowed to make any laws regarding religion, how it is expressed, discussed or practiced.  Second, lawmakers are not allowed to stop marches or protests as long as they are peaceable.

So what does this mean for us today, especially as Christians who live in the United States?  We may think that it is our right to speak on anything and everything we desire and this amendment may be interpreted that way, but we must remember the circumstances of that day.  Our forefathers came from a society and time, when England felt that if anyone spoke against the King or his kingdom, they immediately were to be killed.  Our forefathers wanted a country that allowed the people of that country to speak what they believed, regarding religion, and didn’t have to suffer governmental consequences.  So how should we apply this for today?

First, our government is not allowed to tell those who have religious beliefs that they cannot express them, even if it offends others.  Can the Christian speak about Christ?  Yes.  Can the Islamic speak about Allah?  Yes.  Can the Hindu speak about their various gods?  Yes.  Can the Atheist speak about they don’t believe in any higher being?  Yes.  Regardless of who you are or what you believe, the United States is supposed to be a place where you can talk, debate and argue religious beliefs without worrying about the repercussions of the involvement of government officials.

Second, the government cannot stop anyone who wants to pray in public, read their Scriptures in public or share their faith in public, even if it offends others.  In an age where political correctness is spoken about, our country should not concern themselves in pleasing everyone.  A brick to our foundation is the concept of this freedom of speech.  We should not apologize about our rights, nor should the government make any comments regarding what individuals say regarding religion, no matter how they feel personally.

When our government makes statements regarding the stance of the United States in areas of protest from other countries, our leaders should never apologize for one person’s incompetencies, ideologies or view of a religious nature.  This would include blasphemy against all religions and beliefs.  The person or people who made this controversial video should now realize the consequences of their actions and do their best to make things right, but our leaders should never apologize for one person’s actions.

I am very saddened to hear about those who have been losing their lives across the world because of one groups stupidity.  My heart and prayers goes out to those families who have lost their loved ones, who represented our country in their jobs, representing the United States of America.

The next portion is addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  I heard your speech and am proud to hear how you stated our country’s 1st Amendment right.  However, I am very concerned regarding how you view this “small group of people” who have been violently protesting due to the idiotic behavior of a small time film-maker.  Mrs. Clinton, if you view the live footage of each of the protests, you will see hundreds and thousands of people marching in the street, setting American businesses on fire, attacking our Embassies and burning our flag.  This “small group” is making a statement that should cause a “red flag” to shine brightly in your mind and should be clear to your eyes.  Religious war is on the horizon.  Today, I have read about violent protests in Sudan and Tel Aviv.  This “small group” of people are not small and make up the majority of many mid-East nations.  The leaders of Iran have clearly stated that the United States and Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.  The current president of Egypt is trying to show the Muslim Brotherhood that he stands for Islam and not freedom.  The Iraqi Prime Minister has asked that those who made the video be segregated so that they won’t spread their hate filled thoughts and ideas.  Does this sound like a minority of people to you?  Please reconsider what a “small group” of people really means and open the eyes of clarity, as you stated, to see that these people mean harm to U.S. citizens.

With all that said, I feel it necessary to address the Christians as well.  As I am an Evangelical Christian, I know that there are people who ridicule what we believe.  They try to stop us from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, we must consider the following.  Our primary goal is to spread the love of Jesus to others through our testimony of changed lives.  We need not stand against sin as we ourselves come from sin and are sinful to this day.  However, we need to show the love of Christ by serving others.  Does not Revelation show us the warning signs of speaking and not acting?  Does not Revelation show that others questioned God by asking for God to prove that they didn’t serve Him?  What was God’s reaction?  Because they did not feed the poor, cloth the homeless or take care of those in need, they could not be a servant of the King.

Did not the disciples continue to share the Gospel even after being beaten and warned?  Did not the disciples rejoice in their suffering?  Did not Jesus say that when people rejected Him, they will certainly reject us as well?  Were we not warned about suffering trials and tribulations because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Our goal is clear and our sight is focused.  We are to spread the message of life with Jesus Christ to others.  We are not to concern ourselves with the affairs of this world, but the affairs of the Kingdom of God.  I have personally struggled to find a medium between the rights of my citizenship to the United States as well as my responsibility as a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  However, I also find myself realizing the truth needs to be said.

As I am a citizen of these United States of America, I will continue to use my freedom of speech to spread peace-filled messages of hope in Jesus Christ.  I will also continue to stand up for my rights as stated in our Constitution.  However, when my government decide to try and limit my rights toward spreading the Gospel, I will disobey my government.  My heart, soul and mind belong to God and His message of hope and salvation.

Lastly, I must also try to agree both points in this blog.  I do not agree that Freedom of Speech means hate filled words or threatening words.  In fact, I believe it is the opposite.  Our Freedom of Speech needs to come out of our faith in God to develop a world of peace, even though they hate Jesus.  Our Freedom of Speech needs to be filled with love and compassion for those who deny the power of God and the message of Jesus Christ.  Our Freedom of Speech must never dictate the sharing of the Gospel but is a temporary availability given to us by our government so that we can speak, debate and argue our religious beliefs.

Don’t react to what I say negatively.  Just ask yourself this question…Who in the world is spreading a message of peace?  Who in this world is showing the world that it is okay to disagree with your neighbor and not worry about the government getting involved?  Where do you see the love of God in changed lives?  It is only because of Jesus Christ that we can truly say, “I love you” to our enemies.

“Pray for those who persecute you.” – Jesus Christ.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – Jesus Christ.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

30 Million Give Up Their Rights???


I read an article a few days ago and took time to process the scary statistic contained within the article.  The article said that “approximately 30 million evangelical Christians didn’t show up to vote” in the last Presidential Election.  This stirred within me feelings that were very un-Christian yet I also felt compelled to get those feelings in check so that I could write this blog.

In the United States, we have been given the right to vote.  If you were born or are a naturalized citizen of this great country, you are given the right to vote for those in power.  However, when I ask those who tell me they don’t even go out and vote the response I get is the usual one…”I don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference”.

This is an odd but understandable thought process.  When I inquire further, about their reasoning, they felt that since they voted the last time and their candidate lost, it was obvious that the government chose the leaders.  However, this is simply not the case.

Have there been times where questions arise as to the validity of voters?  Yes.  Has there been a time or two where voting machines have miscounted?  Sure.  But no matter how you view the one or two occasions, voting is an extremely important right that we all need to exercise.

In Scripture, Christians are commanded to obey the leaders over them otherwise we are sinning against God.  (See 1 Peter 2 for context).  Does this mean we have to agree with their stances?  No.  In fact, the disciples showed where disobeying the leaders was okay with God.

In Acts, we see the disciples preaching the Gospel at various places.  When they are brought before the leaders of their day, they are told to stop.  They were beaten and put into prison, yet they left praising God for “they were counted worthy” to suffer for the Gospel.  The only time, we are to disobey our government is when speaking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So how does this coincide with voting?  (What I am about to tell you is a personal belief and is subject to change at any time.)  When Christians decide not to vote and give up their rights, they basically give a “slap in the face” for all who serve our country and disobey God in exercising those rights.

Why would I say that not voting is disobeying God?  Because we are told to submit to the authorities over us.  This doesn’t mean to simply stand and do what they tell us.  However, the word submit has the essence of service.  A similar passage in Ephesians gives us a better understanding.

In Ephesians 5, when the Bible says for “wives to submit to their husbands”, it simply means “wives follow your husband’s lead”.  This does not mean you have to take everything he says and follow it.  But what it does mean is that if the direction he wants to take the family is within the guidelines of Scripture, help and support him in that endeavor.  Can you disagree with him?  Yes.  Can you still give your opinion?  Absolutely.  Can you say that you feel differently and guide him to seek God further before making the decision? Sure.  We, men, need our wives to do these things.  Many times God speaks to us through our wives because we are to hard-headed and deaf to listen to God’s voice.

The same holds true for our leaders in government.  We are to submit to their direction unless it falls outside the scope of God’s Word.  We are to pray for our leaders.  We are to advise our leaders.  We are to let our leaders know we are behind them.  This is the true act of “submission”.  Just as we, men, are sometimes hard-headed and deaf to what God is saying, so are our leaders at times.  (Unfortunately, I think it is more so now than ever, but yet again, that is my opinion.)

This November, we are being given yet another chance to exercise our right to vote.  We are being given an opportunity to obey God and tell our military personnel that we are behind what they are doing.  No matter, who you decide to vote for, just go out and vote.

With this in mind, over the next few blogs, I will be going over the Constitution of the United States and the Amendments in order to show how our society and leaders have sorely fallen away from the original intent of the writers.  There will not be any hate language or “high blood pressure” intentions.  Simply put, it will be a fact driven understanding of what our forefathers intended them to represent, a way for a group of people to be free.

You may or may not agree with what I say in the next few blogs.  That is okay.  You have that right.  However, unlike what our society has been saying recently, I also have the right to write my opinions as well.

This November, don’t give up the rights that many have fought and died for, but go out there and show our leaders that you care about this country and the freedom it represents.  God bless and exercise your freedom today.