A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Category: Scripture (page 1 of 2)

About My Neighbor…

OK, boys and girls…here’s one for you…

Sometimes God has a sense of humor. And sometimes He uses that sense of humor to punch us right in the gut to get our attention. Today was one of those days.

We loaded up our church stuff in the car as usual this morning, and headed out of the driveway. About halfway between our house and the front of our neighborhood, we saw an olive-green car sitting at the bottom of the hill with its flashers on. As we approached to pass by, the driver was opening the door, and sitting with one leg out of the driver’s side.

My first thought was, “I wonder if she needs help?”

My next thoughts, in quick succession, were, “But I’ll be late to church,” “I don’t have time to stop now,” and “I sure hope she’s OK.”

When we got to the entrance of our neighborhood, I stopped at the stop sign. I had to wait for an approaching truck before turning left out on to the street. As the truck turned into my neighborhood, I thought, aloud to the lovely and gracious MrsCharphar, “I guess that guy will stop and help.” And with that, off we went to church.

Here’s where God’s sense of humor and the “ouch” came in.

Today’s message at The Crest was Part 6 of a seven-part series called Upside Down Stories. Throughout the series, we’ve been diving into some of Jesus’s parables. Today’s installment was from Luke 10, and dealt with…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…the Good Samaritan.

*Paraphrase of Luke 10: 3031…

“Jesus replied, ‘A woman was going down from her neighborhood to somewhere else in Cherokee County, and her car broke down, leaving her stranded at the bottom of a steep hill. Now by chance the pastor of Stonecrest Church was going down that road, and when he saw her he passed by on the other side.’”

Ouch, indeed.


Sunday Night Unwind, 01.15.12…

Sunday Night Unwind, 01.15.12...

(Image via iStockphoto.com)

In honor of, and in solidarity with, my friend, Tony McCollum, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and a few other random disco favorites are powering the Sunday Night Unwind tonight!

Here’s what I’m thinking about tonight…

  • Long, LOOOOOONG message this morning at The Crest.
  • I started a series last week about facing the challenges of growing older. Today’s installment focused on regret.
  • BTW, I developed the series with help from our folks, who identified some of the most critical challenges they face while getting older.
  • BTW #2: Getting older is not a function of a particular age. You and I are older than we were yesterday, and in fact, whether we are 30 or 90, we’ll continue to get older until we die.
  • Anyway, I digress…I used the story of Samson to help us see some lessons about dealing with regret. This article was a springboard for the message.
  • The discomfort of discipline will help us avoid the pain of regret. Our choices now have consequences later.
  • We can’t change the past. But hopefully, we learn valuable lessons from the past.
  • It’s never too late to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. But time is running out. And it may not look exactly the same at 40 or 50 0r 87 as it may have looked at 16 or 21 or 30.
  • Fulfilling that purpose will likely – no, assuredly! – require us to lose our own selfish and prideful agendas, and follow His.
  • In other news, it was a real special day for my friend and former colleague Melanie Christianson. She celebrated her retirement after 43 years of musical service at my last headquarters. Melanie was (hopefully, still is!) a great friend, an excellent musician, an effective leader, and the best assistant I ever had! Thanks, Melanie, for everything! Well done, good and faithful servant! Oh, and how does someone who’s only 39 serve for 43 years?
  • The lovely and gracious Mrs. JustCharlie and The Boy continue their headlong plunge, lemming-like, into Apple fanboy-/fangirl-dom. They’ve plastered those little white Apple logos on their vehicles! And The Boy just went and traded in his two-week-old iPhone4 for the 4S.
  • Apparently, that Siri can be a real snit!
  • What’s next, I wonder..a MacBook Pro? (13″, 8 gigs of RAM, etc., etc.)? OK…twist my arm…
  • It was good to see some old friends at The Crest today.
  • No YMCA, no school tomorrow…hope you have a great night! Later!

Sunday Night Unwind, 03.07.10…

Good evening, both of my loyal readers! Wait…there’s only one of you left! Anyway, here’s a long-overdue contribution to the old blog.

  • Hanging at home, with an iTunes Genius playlist fueled by the great Hillsong classic Mighty to Save. For some reason, that song never, ever gets old and tired to me.
  • The hanging at home thing is also powered by a French press full of Brazil Peaberry, one of my favorites from WeeklyRoast.
  • BTW…why aren’t you getting your coffee from my buddy Ken at WeeklyRoast? Well, why not?
  • I finished a series-within-a-series this morning on the parables of Jesus from Luke’s blog…uh…Gospel.
  • We looked at the familiar story of The Prodigal Son. No, not that one. The other one. The one that stayed around but was farther from home than his kid brother.
  • See, in the context of the story – see Luke 15:1-2 for the setup – the older son was the one that needed the dad to go find him. Even though he was right outside in the field.
  • Yeah, yeah…I know. We’ve always focused on the kid brother. It’s the twist that makes the story powerful, though. What twist?
  • I’m glad you asked!
  • Part 1 of the Lost and Found trilogy is about a shepherd with 100 sheep. One gets away. What does the shepherd do? He goes looking for the lost sheep. He expends energy. He does everything he can to find the lost sheep. And when he finds the little lamb, wandering in the wilderness, he loads it up on his shoulders and takes it home, rejoicing!
  • Part 2? A woman has ten coins, and somehow loses one. What does she do? She turns her house upside down trying to recover ten percent of her wealth. She expends energy. She does everything she can to find the lost coin. And when the coin turns up in the sofa cushion, she calls her neighbors for a little impromptu party! (I made up the part about the sofa cushion.)
  • Part 3 is the biggest chunk of the story. It’s about a man with two sons. The younger gets all uppity one day, says some horrible things about his dad, demands his share of the old man’s money, and splits! Get ready…here comes the twist.
  • Oh, wait…Third Day’s Your Love Oh Lord just kicked in on the iTunes playlist. Love those guys!
  • Where was I? Oh, the twist
  • What does the dad do in response to his immature brat of a kid taking his money, leaving for a far country, and blowing the whole wad on riotous living? Go ahead…I’ll wait while you tell me about the dad’s response…
  • Got it? Good! How far did the dad go to find the kid? How far was that again? If you said something like, “All the way to the far country,” or something like that, that would be a good guess. But it wouldn’t win the prize tonight!
  • The dad waited at home. Yep, he was there, everyday, watching, hoping, trusting. But he was waiting. And one day, the kid had come to his senses in the pigpen, and realized his need for his dad. He came home, and his dad was there, waiting for him. And the par-tay ensued!
  • What about the older son? He’s the one the dad had to look for. He’s the one the dad expended energy to find. The older son is the one that was far from the dad’s heart, and he was literally in the house the whole time!
  • And as far as we can tell from Luke’s careful reporting of the story, the older son still hasn’t dropped his resentment, self-centeredness, and superiority complex and joined the party!
  • Hmmm…how about that for a twist? And did you catch the connection to the setup? Yeah, I thought so…

Sunday Night Unwind, 10.18.09…

Hey, loyal readers…both of you! I’m unwinding tonight in Starbucks in Woodstock, Georgia. This is becoming a weekly ritual after long days. I’ve got the old iTunes kicked up , and I’m listening to a Genius mix based on Hillsong United’s great From the Inside Out.

Some things on my mind and in my heart tonight…

  • True confession time: Today was the first day in a long, long time I didn’t actually dread showing up at church. I know that’s weird for a pastor to say. Somewhere along the way to somewhere else, I lost that real sense of joy I used to have. Today was different, and I pray that’s going to be a regular thing again.
  • I don’t share that to whine, but just to lay it out there, and let you know that if you’ve got an extra prayer or two, I won’t try to convince you not to use them on my behalf!
  • I’m teaching through the powerful and practical epistle of James these days. It’s been good to get back to my roots, so to speak. For all the cool, hip, happening, relevant topical preaching out there, there is still something pretty powerful about opening up part of The Book and working through it in a systematic, deliberate way.
  • I want to be both Biblical and unboring.
  • I talked about facing the future this morning. I wondered aloud if I talk a lot about faith and all that, but live like a “practical atheist,” as though God really doesn’t exist and is not a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Ouch!
  • I wondered aloud if I presume on His grace when I assume things about tomorrow that may or may not be true. And yes, I used the great lesson of the word assume: you make one out of U and ME when you do it! Ouch, Number 2!
  • And I wondered aloud if I’m cruising through my life with God’s dream, purpose, and plans percolating on the inside, but not taking shape in my life. I wondered aloud what’s keeping me from fulfilling His plan and purposes. Big OUCH, Number 3!
  • I’m planning on talking about money next week.
  • I’m learning some hard lessons about trusting God to provide in the face of great need these days. At least I hope I’m learning the lessons. I don’t want this process to go on indefinitely!
  • Fasting without praying is just a cruel and joyless diet.
  • Action cures fear.
  • I’ve got at least 3 books in various stages of unread. I need to finish them and find something new.
  • I’m old and tired. That’s reality, but I tend to trot it out as a convenient excuse for not doing something.
  • I love Loreena McKennitt’s Christmas stuff!
  • I’m breaking my own rule and actually rooting for an orange team against another orange team next weekend. Hey, Perry…make sure your Tigers win, OK?
  • BTW, how ’bout them Jackets?!?!?
  • What the heck is a Hokie anyway?
  • There’s way too much math homework going on in here tonight!
  • My couple of hours of free wi-fi is about up, and my rambling has about rambled out.

Make it a great evening!

I Can’t Get This Passage Out of My Mind…

God’s been rocking my world over the last week with these words

O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Great Quote on How We Read the Bible…

I’ve been fascinated by Steve McCoy’s blog series on The Big 5: Books That______________.

It’s been enlightening and inspirational to see some of the books that have influenced folks and their thinking. The latest installment is The Big 5: Books That Changed Your Mind. Drilling down through the comments, I came upon this response from Todd Bumgarner, which included this quote…

I have been using two markers in my Bible: a highlighter for the things I like, a sharpie for the things I don’t.

Thanks, Todd. And thanks, Steve!

Wow. Just Wow. Un-freakin’-believable…

Here are some things I bet you pastor/preacher types out there weren’t aware of, until John Killinger said so, in a presentation today in Memphis…

  • Doctrine is a “thing of the past.”
  • Pastors are reluctant to preach from the Gospel of John, preferring instead to focus on the “human” side of Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
  • We need to be “a little less certain” about who Jesus was and what he was all about.
  • Jesus did not conceive of Himself as the Savior of the world and may not have viewed Himself a sacrifice at all until the crucifixion.
  • Salvation is more about “self-fulfillment and love” than any pesky old doctrine.
  • Daniel lied.


Guess we all need to be “re-evaluating” our stance in light of this “advanced” understanding of the gospel and its ramifications.


Incomplete and Inadequate Worship…

Making my way through Psalms 96-100 today.

This powerful picture of worship resounds with the attributes of a holy, awesome God and our response to Him and His character. Pure praise, right?

Hold on, there. In with all the exhortations to praise, mingled in with the commands to worship, there are some other “necessities” that actually make worship what it was always intended to be.

  • Worship must include evangelism. Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:1-3). After all, didn’t Jesus say that the Father is looking for people from every tribe, nationality, tongue, class, and geography to worship Him in spirit and in truth? By the way, He shared that principle in the context of a conversation with a woman who was far from God: evangelism – that goes along with worship. Are we so enamored of “worship” and all that has come to entail today that we have forgotten the Father’s heart for those who are not yet worshipers?
  • Worship must include stewardship. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! (Psalm 96:8) Real worship costs something. It’s impossible to say we’re worshiping God with our whole hearts while our treasure tells the real story.
  • Worship must include holiness. Not holier-than-thou-iness. Not rigid, legalistic Pharisaism. Not a pseudo-elitism that separates “us” from “them.” But real holiness of character in our everyday life. O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:10-11)
  • Worship must include seeking and expecting to hear from God – and obeying when He speaks. Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy! (Psalm 99:6-9). If we claim to be seeking God’s heart in worship, why don’t we expect Him to speak to us? And if He is actually going to communicate His heart and His plans and His purposes, why aren’t we willing to obey Him fully?
  • Worship must include joyful service. The “classic” passage often used to describe worship is this: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1-2). How many times have we heard – or said – something like, “I just can’t give up my worship experience to work with the children/students/hospitality/whatever”? Guess what? You already gave it up. And you replaced the only true Person worthy of your worship with someone far inferior. Ouch!

My thoughts. As usual, the customary disclaimer applies. Oh, and your mileage may vary…

“My Kingdom Go…”

This from yesterday’s Literature Ministries International’s daily A.W. Tozer devotional, Insight for Leaders

It may surprise you that Aldous Huxley, often a critic of evangelical Christianity, has been quoted as saying: “My kingdom go is the necessary corollary to Thy kingdom come.”…

Certainly His kingdom can never be realized in my life until my own selfish kingdom is deposed. It is when I resign, when I am no longer king of my domain that Jesus Christ will become king of my life.


New Morning, New Mercies, New Moleskine…

It’s great to start a new Moleskine! That blank ivory first page sits and stares at you, waiting to be filled with something profound, insightful, and permanent.

I started a new one this morning. That’s it in the picture. I’ve actually had it in my bag for a month in anticipation of finishing the previous one. Today I cracked that wrapper. I perused the “history of the Moleskine” pamphlet inside the secret pocket just as I’ve done 11 times before!

Interestingly, the old one – Number 11 – ended with these words

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

And the first words in the new one could not have been more appropriate for the start of a brand-new day and the start of a brand-new notebook…

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

How’s your new day starting? What are you most grateful for today? How have the Lord’s fresh mercies shown up in your life already today?