Tag Archives: Philippians 3


In the classic movie, The Sting, the characters played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford ran an illegal betting operation that conned gamblers into thinking they were watching a live broadcast of a horse race, when in fact the trickster duo had it delayed – just enough so they knew the outcome of the race while the gamblers speculated.

What if you could know how things turn out? Tomorrow’s stock market closing, an impending crime that could be prevented, the outcome of a surgery before it began, or if you could be certain during the turbulent teenage years that things would indeed turn out okay.

Knowing some things brings patience, assurance and peace in the midst of anxiety, hope in the darkness of despair.  Knowing the lessons from the past, we save ourselves from making the same mistakes. Sometimes knowing things changes the future. In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey turned his whole life around after seeing the future consequences of his planned choices.  What if you knew at the moment, that a simple act of compassion or a generous gift would make such a profound difference in someone’s life? Or the calamity of a poor choice that had a farther reaching grip than you imagined? But to a large degree we simply don’t know the specifics of what the future holds for us.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

You and I might have all kinds of theories about what happens after death, but God is the one who knows. And he assures us that we can know too:

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13

Knowing Jesus makes all the difference, not just knowing him for your salvation but knowing him for your victory over the troubles and challenges you face today.

Whether it be political elections, or threat of war or famine, financial disaster or climate change, we know how it all really ends. We’ve read the last chapter of Revelation, the headlines of the last newspaper ever written. They say “God wins!” We know because we know God and we know he knows.

Ponder the words of Graham Kendrick’s song, taken from Philippians 3 and consider how knowing Jesus impacts even the routine aspects of your day today. Reflect on what it means to weigh all you hold dear against the weight/importance of knowing Jesus in your moment to moment life.

“All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die.”


Whom then shall I fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life.of whom shall I be afraid? psalm 27:1


David certainly didn’t lack for woes and reasons to fear. Anointed as King but not yet crowned, he was besought by enemies intent on killing him. And what does he do? He turns to God, the stronghold and fortress of his life. And in this security, he asks, “Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1-2


Most of us in the western world don’t face such violent persecution. But we do face enemies, don’t we? Our foes may be of our own doing, thought patterns that lead us away from God’s stronghold and into pits of despair and fear. Careless words or neglectful actions and apathy may cause relational division among the body of believers. The good news is that we can control our own thoughts and actions by consistently and repeatedly submitting them to God.


But what about enemies that aren’t of our doing? Chronic physical pain may come against us and wreak havoc with our bodies and soul. A spirit of depression may weigh heavily upon us. We ask God to search our hearts and see if there be anything we need to submit to Him. We pray for grace and deliverance. We wait. And we wait. Sometimes we wait for years, decades, or a lifetime.


I think of Marci’s debilitating migraines and her nearly forty years of suffering and waiting for relief. I think of her pain, a lifetime of not being able to work, time away from family, and of the medicines and hospitalizations. But I also remember her indomitable spirit that pressed on in the way Paul describes in Philippians 3. I remember how she would close the blinds and lie down, then get up, then lie down, then get up again. It’s true, a mother’s work is never done, even when Dad helps out; sometimes because Dad helps out. (Sigh)


I think back on those times with cancer when I wanted to toss in the towel. I knew God’s grace was sufficient and that His strength is perfected in my weakness. These truths were evident to me, but I didn’t always feel it during those moments of terror. I felt like some days it was a fight to not let my feelings overwhelm me. I knew God was my stronghold and yet it was like the bombs kept exploding around and within me.


What do you do when this happens to you? David asked one thing of God: that he may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. If only he could live in God’s presence he was confident that he would see God’s goodness here on earth…if he just take heart and wait on the Lord. (Ps. 27:4,13,14) I wonder how many times he prayed that prayer?


There is a transcendent peace that falls upon the believer who turns to God. It doesn’t always dispel the pain but being in God’s presence makes it bearable.


Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4



The end of one adventure is the beginning of the next

“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.”
“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”
“Oh, Aslan!!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.
“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”
From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, CS Lewis

It was a sad moment for Lucy and Edmond, realizing that their great adventure had come to an end. But the great Aslan reminds them of an important lesson we would do well to also learn:

The end of one adventure is often the beginning of another.

For me, there was the end of a good career and good health and the beginning of the battle against cancer. While not the adventure I had sought, it has not been without certain revelations I may have missed elsewhere. Then there was the end of the cancer (for now at least) almost a year ago and the beginning of a new life with new stem cells and all the blessings and trials that come with that. There is for each of us the end of the adventure of life as we know it and the greatest adventure of life after death!

For now, there is the end of this past year and the anticipation of the new one upon us. It is a time to consider wise words:
“There is a time for everything…a time to mourn, a time to stop mourning…a time to fight and a time to stop fighting.” (Ecclesiastes) Always, it is time to accept and fully embrace the life transitions given to us. It is a time, as Paul puts it, to forget what is past and to press on to what is ahead. (Philippians 3)

Imagine a new year being decidedly content and fully satisfied with God’s plan being unveiled in your presence, day by day. Imagine living by faith with reckless abandon the adventure to which he calls you. Don’t shy from it despite your pain, your doubts, your regrets, or your fears. Embrace this new year as a gift to be fully explored and enjoyed.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19