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Peru 2014

As I sit in the plane bound for Lima Peru via Miami Florida I find myself recounting the last three years.

God first called me to this mission in 2012. Our church decided to start exploring the international mission field and we teamed up with a great group of people from LifePoint Church in Columbus Ohio. They were gracious enough to bring us along on a mission trip they had been growing for a few years at that time. I remember The Lords voice clearly in my head the day we announced it. This voice said “get ready, you’re going”. To which I replied “uh, what?” We can’t afford that. I’d love to be able to say I anxiously jumped at the call but alas, I did not. But He continued to tell me I was going on this trip.

A few days later after the voice had persisted I had a conversation with my wife that went something like this,
me: “I think I’m supposed to go on this Peru trip”
her: “we can’t afford that”
me: “I know right! That’s what I keep telling Him. But I’m sure this is what He’s telling me so if it’s supposed to happen the He’ll make it so.”
And through a course of amazing events He made it happen.

In 2013 our church committed to return. I already knew I’d be returning since The Lord may that perfectly clear to me after the first trip. That year I would be co-leading the team with an awesome brother in Christ, Steve Clifton, from LifePoint church that had led our team in 2012. Another great trip and God experience ensued.

Now it’s 2014. My third trip to Peru in three years. This time I find myself leading our team on our own. I have a healthy mixture of fear and excitement brewing inside me. I’m excited and anxious to see how God has worked in the lives of the growing group of believers we’ve encountered over the last two years. I’m excited and anxious to see how God will work in the lives of our team this year. I know that we will find a growing thriving body of believers that is as on fire as when we last saw them.i know this because it what we have prayed for. I am confident in God’s equipping of our hearts and minds in helping to love on and build up the people we will encounter. I know that He has our back and through Him alone we can and will help to grow His Kingdom in the mountains of Peru.

Sounds kind of cocky doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is… But, when our amazing God is at the center of things and we speak the truth of the Good News in love and compassion, how can you not get a little cocky. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean in an arrogant or self-confident way but with a full reliance in Him and His ability to do anything. I mean He is God!

So, all that being said please be in prayer that we can stay out of the way and He will work in us and through us this year. I’ll get back with you after next week and tell you all about the amazing work He is doing and how we saw it all unfolding to His glory.

Going Back Again!!!

Photo Aug 29, 11 03 51 AMWow, I have been absolutely terrible about posting. Where has the time gone? Well my August Peru trip was amazing. God has opened so many doors since then that I am just trying to keep up and stay out of His way. (more to come on that soon.)

I am returning to Peru earlier this year. Actually the trip is in 22 DAYS!!! Holy cow! I am super psyched about what is happening in the villages of Tapacocha, Cotaporacco and Allpacocha. The GOD certainly is alive and at work there. we have seen much growth physically and spiritually there. We believe our trip this year will be a little different than in the past as it will involve more equipping and discipling those believers already there. When we left in August they were so fired up for the Lord I can’t wait to see what He has done since our last visit. Please keep our team in prayer and I will try to keep you posted about new developments and the actual trip once we return. Thank you and God bless.

Not Giving But Gaining

1012057_10201538991017531_1427808434_nYesterday I was blessed with the privilege of giving my daughter away in marriage. I don’t really like that phrase though. It sounds so “end of the story.” It’s more like gaining a new son. Actually, it’s the beginning of a whole new story and Jenni and I not only got to be part of the story and help launch it but now we get front row seats to watch the rest of it unfold and we now have a new son to enjoy and share life with.

It was also awesome to see a group of young people, in Marissa, Casey and their friends, that have Christ at the center of their lives. I am confident that Marissa and Casey are well grounded in Him which made this weekend much easier for me but as always I do have a few words to pass on to them and all others that are getting married or already married.

Love God and love each other. Keep Christ at the center always. With His example of unconditional love as your focus you can reflect that on each other. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Treat love as a verb. We often treat love as an emotion instead of an action. Christ showed us His love with actions and we need to follow that example. Not for reciprocation or for “love points” but because, as spouses, it’s what we have committed to by joining together in a covenant marriage. and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)

Always have Christ centered friends you can turn to. Also, give them permission to call you out when they need to and ask them to lift you up when you need it. Marriage is tough at times and you need friends that understand what your marriage means to you, even when you don’t want may not want to hear it. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NIV)

Laugh! At yourself, at each other, at life. Don’t forget to laugh because nothing should be as serious as we make it out to be. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)

Cry. When you need to, lean into Christ and lean into each other and cry. You will find comfort in the arms of Him and your spouse. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21 NIV)

Forgive often. Look at what Jesus has forgiven us for… everything! We need to follow that example with our spouses and forgive quick and often. Don’t confuse this with trust. Trust may be broken and it may take time to rebuild, but forgiveness should happen immediately. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)

Communicate!! All of things listed above require communication. I have sat with couples that thought they were at the end but once we reestablished some communication and they started verbalizing some of their issues things started working better. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NIV)

I can say from experience, I did not follow this path for the first 17 years of my marriage and I nearly destroyed it. If I had not gotten in line with the above things and what God designed marriage to be I may not have had the blessing I had yesterday. My daughter may not have been where she is now either. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m on it all the time but It’s a lot easier than the previous way (my way).

I thank God for His direction and instruction for my marriage. I thank Him for my wife and daughter for their patience with me and now I thank Him for my new son.

30 Days and Counting…

August 23rd – 30th 2013, I will be returning to Peru. I am so excited to be making this trip again. Last years trip changed my life forever and I can’t wait to see where God will lead our team this time, not just during the trip but afterwards too.

Once again, I have already seen Him at work all around me in my life and the other team members lives as well. Many people have stepped forward to pray for us all and to help out financially. It is always so amazing to see The Lord at work in people.

I am also excited to be working through a new program that will help us process and work through what God puts on our hearts with this trip. It is called “The Next Mile: Short Term Missions for the Long Haul.” You can check it out at http://www.thenextmile.org  The program offers practical tools and training for Short-Term Mission experiences with emphasis on Post-Ministry Follow-Through.

I love their use of the phrase Follow-Through” instead of follow-up. Follow-up implies a one time thing while follow-through is an ongoing, continuous thing.

If you or someone you know is planning any kind of short-term mission trip I highly recommend “The Next Mile” as part of their preparation before and during the trip but especially for after. As I have worked through the material I keep wishing I had discovered it last year to better help me process after my return but I guess He has His reasons for everything.

Thank you all again for your continued support financially and most important spiritually.

If you would like more information about our Peru mission trip or would like to see about joining us next year please contact me at rphillips@ridge.tv

My Hero

A hero is defined as:
1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.

I’d like you to meet one of my heroes. Her name is Marissa, she is my 20 year old daughter. Last weekend she graduated from Anderson University. She acquired a four year degree in three years. She accomplished this by taking college courses during high school and working very hard to finish early.

She’s my hero because when I was in high school I didn’t tend to focus any further ahead than the next party. I certainly had no ambition or drive to go to college let alone finish early. While I tested as gifted, just like she did, I chose to make poor decisions and just eke by. She graduated high school with a 3.87 gpa and graduated college with honors, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.875 gpa.

She is my hero because she keeps her eye on Jesus. I didn’t know Him or care to know Him at her age. I gave my life to The Lord at the age of 36. Up to that point I was pretty much only concerned about me.

She is my hero because she has a clue what she is going to do with her life career-wise. She has a degree in communications and wants to work in the public relations field. I joined the Army at 17 because I was clueless and had no way of getting into college at that point. After 6 years of that I became a carpenter for 5 years before figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up and settled into a career in massage therapy at the age of 28.

She is my hero for being true to her beliefs and saving herself for her future husband whom she will be marrying July 28th. Me? Well I didn’t wait, ’nuff said. This decision made for a lot of turmoil and trouble in my marriage. Problems I thank God she and her husband will not have to face.

She is my hero because she has already been figuring out how to be a wife to her husband. She has read about the “5 Love Languages” and sees them as an important part of her future marriage. I did not do this. I caused her amazing mother a lot of grief and heartache in the first seventeen and a half years of our marriage.

She is my hero because she is is fun to be around and knows how to have fun in a safe, clean, moral way. Rather than seeking the drunken often vulgar party lifestyle I chose to live in my earlier years, she has chosen what I consider a better path.

She is my hero because she doesn’t have a smug, superior or holier than thou attitude. Even when those she knows, loves and cares for, like my past self and others her own age, are making poor choices and running headlong in the wrong direction. She exhibits a Christ like love for others instead.

Now of course she’s not perfect. I know that and I’m not trying to paint her out to be. But I truly admire her faith, her character, her tenacity, her drive, her determination. Also her obedience, her ambition, her morals. While I may be a bit biased it is my opinion that she “has heroic qualities.” I love her dearly and she is my hero.

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The Model

I think its sad sometimes that when someone makes a commitment to follow Christ that we don’t offer them a class in how to pray. It may seem too basic or simple but I think it’s an important piece of our spiritual maturity that is often overlooked or just assumed.

Knowing how to pray is not that easy sometimes. It can be intimidating, daunting, scary… “what if I say something dumb… wrong… unbiblical…” In Luke, chapter 11, the disciples asked Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray…” He then gave them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. But before we get to that in Matthew 6:5-8 he gives a little more pre-instruction.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Basically, what He is saying here is we need to have the right mind-set or heart-set not only for what we are praying for but how and why we are praying. Don’t be boastful or prideful in our prayers proclaiming our great works or sinlessness so that others can see how holy we are. The only one that could even claim this was Jesus and even He did not pray that way. So, prepare yourself or your heart for prayer.

As we’ll see, it’s not so much the words spoken as the the motivation for speaking them. There are no magic words. You also don’t have to use big confusing words or King James English. You don’t have to use your “prayer voice.” Just pray, from the heart.

Jesus then says: “This, then, is how you should pray:” He doesn’t say word for word but “HOW” as in here is a model for you to design your prayers around.

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” -Luke 11:2-4 KJV

So let’s break this down.

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…” This set the stage for us. We first need to proclaim and acknowledge God’s rightful place. Above all else He is first and foremost. Hallowed means to honor as holy or consider sacred.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Here’s where things get a little tough for us. Before we even ask anything we have to realize God has a plan that is bigger than all of us and that plan has a direction. What this really means is no matter what I pray for, not my will but Your will be done. That’s a hard one to say and mean. Because God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them answered. Don’t misunderstand me here, He always answers prayers. His answers are either yes, no or wait. Now, of course, yes is the easy one I’m not even going to talk about that. No, that one’s certainly hard to take. We want that illness to go away, we want people healed, hurts mended, problems fixed but that just might not be God’s will. In the end, He knows what is best and how things should and will work out so in order for His will to be done sometimes the answer has to be no. And wait? well that one certainly stinks too but it all happens in His timing not ours. Gods will comes before our want.

“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Ok, finally the good stuff! The “gimmes.” We usually get this one in the wrong order. We want to say “Father in heaven, gimme my daily bread…” but our wants need to take their proper place because remember “Thy will be done…” not “my will be done…” Notice too He says “day by day” or sometimes it’s “this day” Keep it simple, “Lord, here’s what’s on my heart right now…” Here’s a little hint though, He already knows what weighs heavy on our hearts I think sometimes He just wants us to say it so that we realize it too. Stating it sometimes makes it more real for us. I know I have a tendency to kind of sweep things under the rug or ignore the elephant in the room. So, “here is what I’m asking, Lord”

“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Now the first part here is pretty obvious the second part is yet another thing we often forget. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. That’s a tough one to remember but probably more important than asking His forgiveness for sins He has already forgiven by dying on the cross for us in the first place.

“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God will not lead us into temptation as we commonly think of it. The word temptation can also mean trial or affliction and we will be met with trials and sometimes afflictions along the way and we need to pray for protection against them or the strength to avoid temptations/trials/afflictions. A strength that can only come from God. And through this strength we will be delivered from the evil that can drag us into embracing that temptation.

So, there we go. Keep this in mind when you pray as a model for what, when and how to say it and you may find more focus in your prayer life. I feel like I have.

I hate these things…

Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.

I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.

(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.

Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.

I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.

Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.

So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)

The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.

Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.

-Rick