Words of Life

Posted: February 14, 2020 in Meditations
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36 years ago I sat in a local diner with a group of men in a small Missouri River town. Banter flew, boys being boys. I was 29, married with a two year old son. Times were tough, the country strained in the midst of a recession. Interest rates hovered at 17%, farms got auctioned off monthly in this rural county. I cracked a joke about my wife, a cheap laugh at her expense. I got the reflex response I wanted, that is, until my pastor, Brian Guy, spoke up. I’ll never forgot the terse inflection of his voice, “Phil, don’t ever talk about your wife that way. You’re a better man than that.” My heart froze, I knew he was right. I apologized to everyone at the counter. I felt two inches tall. I’m sure my face flushed red. I knew I sinned against my wife.

“Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness; let him rebuke me – it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.”  Psalm 141:5  I didn’t like being called out. I still feel the pain of my embarrassment. Yet I received it as truth to my heart and I knew Brian loved me. That rebuke instantly became a life lesson, it changed me in an important way. I chose to honor my wife. Have I violated this precept since then? To my shame, yes I have. But I know it and immediately sense conviction and repent. Lord, open my heart always to the rebuke of a righteous man; don’t let me skate on my sin and ignorance.

Back in 2012, I was dying, the final stages of the debilitating effects of traumatic brain injury incurred from a 26 foot fall from a roof in 2005. God intervened through a series of providential events. I got novel treatment from the one doctor in the world who could address my condition. Three months of therapy gave me a new lease on life. My doctor asked me to solicit friends with influence to promote his clinic. I never felt comfortable with the prospect of soliciting people of means, it felt dirty. But I stood healed, and what about the other desperate individuals who needed healing too? I wrestled with this quandary for a week. I made the call via the internet.

Back in 1977, I rented a trailer home with a young man named Kevin Compton. We parted ways but I kept in contact with his sister. Kevin went on to an incredible career, a unicorn on the national scene. Perhaps Kevin could help and see opportunity to bring this approach to brain trauma to the world. We emailed back and forth. Kevin could not have been more gracious, more blunt, more concise, “Phil, what do you want me to do? I get solicitations all the time for revolutionary treatments of concussion injuries (Kevin led an investment group that owned the NHL San Jose Sharks). I’ve learned through my own experience to stay out of businesses that are not in my wheelhouse. I did an investigation into this clinic and am not impressed.” Ouch, right? But this is exactly what I needed to hear. Kevin, a righteous man, spoke life to my heart. What I couldn’t discern, Kevin could. Eight years have passed and you know what? Kevin was right. I still feel bad that I called him but that is my problem. Kevin resolved my conflict with a very healthy “no”.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”  Psalm 143:10  Stay humble. I ask the Lord to speak to my heart through the Scriptures, through prayer, through my wife and kids, through the voice of others. “My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teachings. Bind them upon your heart forever.” Never forget the treasure of wisdom that has been invested in your life. Take confidence in those lessons, pass them on. Finally, thank God for those individuals who did the right thing, who spoke words into your life that weren’t easy. Thank you Brian, thank you Kevin, thank you Mom and Dad. A special shout out to my wife, Lynn, thank you for pushing me to be a better man. Finally, thank you, Holy Spirit, you never let me go. Because of you, I know, in the end, Christ is all that matters.

  1. John Mayer says:

    Its hard to receive a rebuke but if done in the right spirit is medicine and can take us to our next break throughs. Thanks for sharing Phil.

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