Do You Hear What I Hear?

My wife and I had the exciting privilege in July of 2015 to visit the House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir, better known to us as ancient Ephesus, Turkey.

Folklore has this house as the place where the Apostle John, following Jesus’ last words on the cross, took Jesus’ mother Mary to escape persecution. Legend places Mary there where she with John lived out their final days.

Outside the house, on the path back to the parking lot, was this wall with a place to place your prayer slip of paper. Many hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions over the years, took this opportunity to leave a request in hopes of receiving an answer, a blessing to their innermost prayer.

A couple of thousand years earlier, when Jesus was teaching, in one of his controversial moments, a woman called out of the crowd, “Your mom is so blessed to have you!” (Loosely paraphrased) In the cadence of the moment, Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28 NLT)

I think we’ve all had them, you know, the idea in our head that we can almost hear. It may have come in the voice of our parents, a teacher, a loved mentor. You may have caught yourself saying, “It was almost audible.”

What if God wants to use that medium to bless you?

Do you hear what I hear?

“But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

House of the Virgin Mary in Izmir, Turkey
Looking for Answered Prayer

The next 24 – Trajectory

“The next 24 hours is going to happen.”

I sat down to reflect and enter into my journal (I use Mel Robbins, 5-Second Journal as my template), and the thought dawned on me.

I am not sovereign, I can only control a few of the details coming my way, but I can decide how to face these next moments. I make my plans, but in reality, they are often subject to the flow of my day.

Trajectory, however, is in my control.

The trajectory is the point of the triangle, the ‘how’ I will look forward, the piece of the pie that I will consider, the attitude that I will choose, the angle of vision that I will allow myself to entertain.

The next 24 hours will happen. I get to decide the how.

Trajectory
You choose how you see

The Encounter. It’s My Fault!

“It’s me. Sir, it’s my fault. There is no one else to blame. I did it. Did you hear me, sir? It’s my fault!” 

These words pushed out of my mouth as I was being berated, at a very large volume, at a very close proximity, with coffee still on his breath, with many colourful words, on a very busy Vancouver street corner, with a whole lot of people looking on. He went up one side of me and down the other. I knew with ample awareness and bountiful description that we, I, had created a mess. 

I had committed the unpardonable sin by not delivering, on time, an entire job site’s paycheques on payday morning. This was long before Direct Deposit; in fact, this one occurrence may well be the reason for Direct Deposit. You’re welcome. 

Yah, I would have been mad at me too!

It was a simple mistake. No, it really was. I was supposed to deliver 711’s paycheques to their new location just under construction. The complicator? The job site was directly across the main intersection from the 711 store that was already there. I had delivered similar packages many times before. When I went to the store to give it to the person who’s name was on the parcel, the store attendant knew nothing of it and wouldn’t sign for it. 

The simple solution was to deliver it to the correct address right across the street. But, who needs an address when you have the name like 711 directly on the package? So the next best solution was to take it back to the depot and let it be reprocessed from there. Had it been for something of lesser importance, that might have been the correct procedure, but not for this, and not for this day. 

Then, to make matters worse, I finished my deliveries early, so I went for a leisurely lunch. My boss, who was almost unglued, rudely interrupted my solace when I got back to my truck. He required that I end my leisure immediately and deliver this package to the rightful owner, who would have had plenty of time to practice his communication skills. This was all done over the 2-way radio (before personal cell phones) with all my colleagues to hear. 

So, 2.5 hours past the intended delivery time, the encounter. 

Before this encounter, I had recently learned that when you make a mess, you have to own it. I didn’t realize then that I would be part of a practical exercise in this skill. 

It absolutely worked. When the construction boss finally heard me, he immediately calmed and then lamely apologized for his overreaction. We were good, my company was saved, and I learned a LIFE Lesson with far-reaching applications. 

When you screw-up, you have to own your stuff. 

“So, the first step to getting free from conflict and staying free is for us to come out of denial and correctly process our lives. We need to live transparent lives by owning our stuff, our actions.” (Sovdi, Philip. Path Out: Eliminate the Swirl (Page 12). Kindle Edition.)https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

Incognito

I just put down the book, caught by a sidebar comment that I’m not sure the authour even intended to land. The authour, Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book, The Real You, talked about a conversation he had with his daughter, that she initiated when she was a young teenager. She caught herself gossiping about her friends with some regularity, and she came and talked to her father about it.

What caught my attention was the very fact that this daughter would have that conversation with her parents in the first place. The very fact she felt free to come and talk and expose her inner self, exposed my deceit. 

Conversely, I’ve learned to invite God. I’ve learned to invite, acknowledge Him in all my ways. I’ve learned to invite Him into my ‘good’ ways, that, I’ve always done. But, I’ve also learned to invite Him into my ‘struggling’ ways as well. I’ve even learned to invite Him into my ‘dark’ ways and my ways that have totally missed the mark. I’ve learned to be open, vulnerable with Him.

Maybe you are different, she was. But where I came from, that would have been covered and concealed. I would have dealt with that privately because real Christians don’t have those kinds of problems. Real Christians overcome. ‘Real Christians,’ I’ve discovered, often aren’t real Christians. I know I wasn’t. 

Like the authour’s daughter, I have open, honest conversation with my Father in Heaven. 

He knows anyway.

He is just waiting for us to uncover. 

The Joseph Document

The Joseph Document is a compilation of twenty blogs that I did in 2017 on the life and surrounding story of the historic Joseph found in Genesis, starting in chapter 37.

Other than the story of Jesus, there may not be a more impacting and compelling Bible story in my adult life than the story of Joseph.

The story is full of innocent naivety, family dysfunction, and betrayal, brutal and cruel captivity. It shows life’s underside and how even that works for a bigger plan when God is involved, and by the way, God is always involved if we dare to look.

So, take the time. Use this tool to lift you and inspire the drama in your life for good. I guarantee that Joseph will speak from the ancient pages of history and will return the hope that you thought was gone for good.

Without modern communication, social media, church attendance, and face-to-face friends, Joseph was able to preserve his faith and equilibrium.

You can too.

The Joseph Document

 

Fallen From Grace (A Fresh Perspective)

In the world that I grew up in, ‘Fallen From Grace’ was something catastrophic, an unwanted label, something hugely embarrassing, and something that had an irreparable air about it. At all costs, you wanted to avoid this humiliation, this shaming, this ‘DIS’ Grace. Coming back, if you could, from a fallen position was something that would take hours, days, months or even years to repair, and it might also bar you from a place in heaven. The message was as dangerous as it sounds. It was invoked with a warble in the voice and exaggerated gestures that made the most religious squirm.

That was then, and I for one am glad that it is over for me. Oh, there are still many who would follow that understanding, but for me, there is a fresh understanding that is light years apart from that and has brought back peace and purpose.

I believe that a person can and will fall from grace, but the definition of grace isn’t directly connected to a description of eternal consequence.

Grace simply put, biblically put, is God’s ability given to an individual to meet the task, problem, obstacle, or challenge at hand. God actually empowers you to meet face-on what you need to ‘get through.’ He gives you the ‘grace to help’ in time of need

Falling from that? Falling from grace just means that I have chosen to meet that same obstacle in my own ability and trying to use my own strength, or once again saying, “God I’ve got it.” That’s it. I can continue in that power struggle if I wish or I can yield.

But, that also intrinsically means that I can get back to where God is the one helping and empowering by simply admitting my error, “God I just tried to do this, again, in my own wisdom and ability. I want and need you. I need your grace once again. Amen.” No longer fallen, once again connecting and growing with Him.

Just like getting back on a horse, dust your self off, check out and correct your place of compromise and get back up and get going.

God gives grace to the humble.

Small Victories

DCIM999GOPROI’ve had great moments where I trusted entirely. But, probably like you, that trust didn’t stay Front and Centre very long.

I, once again, rose in my humanness and took over the thought process. I once again began to fixate on things I couldn’t change, bringing tomorrow into today’s capacity and finding it overwhelming. Ya, once again.

Today is a small victory; today I decided that I would live like my prayers have been heard. I’ve decided that my faith and my action would be harmonious.

Now that I remember God’s got it, I’ll rest.

Is That It?

 

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Thirty-seven years, fourteen days, and fifteen hours and forty minutes ago, I almost said out loud, “Is that it?” The preacher had just said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife…” All I could think about at that moment was, “That’s all there is?” “We waited this long and spent this much and planned so intricately, and it’s over?”

The only thing over was that part of the ceremony. The work was just beginning. All-be-it, it has been considerable work. Right babe? Right…babe?

I’ve had it happen with holidays, destinations, stuff, and things. All the time spent dreaming and planning; the time of hoping and wishing is over in a moment of acquisition.

Life works that way.

We get that new car, and after a week we see someone has gotten a better car with more options on top of a better base package, for a thousand dollars less than what we paid.

Sound familiar?

Even though these things happen and happen with frequency, I believe that the question is a great question to ask, “Is that it? Is this all that there is?”

Some save the question for mid-life so that they can commiserate over it. Others try to ignore it all together.

Instead of allowing the question to intimidate you, come to the table with your sleeves rolled up and your strategy hat on. Ask the question. The fact that you are here to ask it means the answer is a definite, “No! There is more, way more.” The fact that you still have breath and thought means that a new course could be charted, a new normal can be achieved, a new standard can be realized; It just requires you to ask and answer boldly.

So, thirty-seven years, fourteen days, fifteen hours and twenty minutes ago, I ventured on a life-altering, sometimes terrifying, always challenging, and totally rewarding journey. It only required four words, “I do,” and “I will.”

What will you do?

If you would like marital direction please consider the Marriage Consult.

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Turn Up The Heat or Wait For The Weekend

The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.

My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)

My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.

“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)

Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?

Time for some changes?

Me too!

Don’t Forget To Be Friends

Life gets big, fast, and sometimes all too confusing. 

Remember when things were simpler when it was just you and him, or maybe you and her?

Hey, did that actually happen or was that a mythical moment with a mythical couple?

Why just this morning the SUV has left the driveway at least three times, and that was before 9:00 am; not once would you have been presentable had you been pulled over.

It’s called life. Not a prison, sentence, or punishment; it’s a full-on privilege.

I know you needed a moment, I just wanted to remind you of that. We all do.

We started out as friends; we liked spending time together. I would do crazy things to get to be with her and see her smile. Even if I only got five minutes during her lunch break and then have to drive back to where real life happened, I did it for fun, for friendship, for love.

We’ve seen others succumb and lose their focus. It could have happened to us. Somehow we picked up a little tidbit. Somehow we learned to push back on the rapid, the consuming press of time, schedule and appointments. We learned that we have to be friends and stay friends. Working on friendship in the middle of life is no easy task, but we’ve been able to do it up until now and determinedly we’ll do it into the future.

You can too. Stay friends.

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