Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Love is Felt

Several weeks ago, my grandfather, Dr. Jim Phillips, was preaching at Faith Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California. Knowing that he was within ten minutes of my in-laws' house, I called him and asked if he would visit them. He had actually already planned on doing that. The only time he had ever met Linda's family was at our wedding over three years ago; but he was thrilled to see them again.

He asked me for all the names of Linda's siblings. He asked me what he should call Linda's mother and father. He wanted to make sure he was culturally prepared for the visit.

Before I go any further, let me explain something about Linda's family. Linda and her siblings have never had a grandfather. Their father's father was killed by the Khmer Rouge in the early 1970's. Their mother's father has never left Cambodia. While Linda, Dena, Dana, Vicki, and BJ were growing up in Long Beach, California, their mother's father was in Cambodia. Furthermore, in Cambodian culture, elderly people generally do not show affection to young people- even to their own grandchildren. Typically, the grandchildren are expected to serve the grandparents; but often (not always) this is done with very little affection shown by the grandchildren or the grandparents. In the minds of Linda and her siblings, this has always been their idea of what a grandparent is.

When my grandfather showed up at their doorstep on that Saturday afternoon, he completely revolutionized their idea of a grandfather. He entered the house, hugged Linda's parents, and then he did the unthinkable: he began calling Linda's siblings by name and giving them hugs. They had a wonderful visit, and my grandfather quickly found out how wonderful my wife's family is.

Toward the end of the visit, my grandfather invited them to come and hear him preach the next day. There was no pressure, no pushing; just a simple invitation.

That night I receive a phone call from Dana, Linda's 22 year old sister.

"Chad, we got to meet Grandpa- he is the sweetest man! We're gonna go hear him preach tomorrow if we can get a ride."

The next day, Dana, Vicki (Linda's 18 year old sister), Dena (Linda's 24 year old sister), and my mother-in-law went to Faith Baptist Church and heard my grandfather preach. Dena had not been to church since she rode the bus to Pacific Baptist Church when she was a little girl. Dana had been to church one time in the past ten years. I was honestly shocked to hear that they had gone to church.

On Monday, I received calls from Dena and Dana. Neither could stop talking about my grandfather being such a loving person. In fact, Dena said that when she hugged him the last time, she did not want to let go of him.

I was thinking about this whole situation. Why did my wife's family, who were not even interested in church, just suddenly decide to go hear my grandfather preach? They don't know that he is a respected preacher. They don't know what God has used him to do in the ministry over the past 50 years. They don't know the legacy he has left in the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. But they know one thing: he loves them. And that's what makes the difference.

"Where love is felt, the message is heard." -Jim Phillips

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Embarrassing Moment on Deputation

I love meeting young people in the churches that we visit. I love everyone, but I have an especially great time joking around with kids and teenagers when we visit a church on the deputation trail. One way that I break the ice with children and teenagers when I am introducing myself and my family is attempting to guess their names. It goes something like this:

Me: So, what's your name?

Kid: It's...

Me: Whoa, whoa...stop...let me guess...Jerome!

Kid: No.

Me: Okay....Mickey!

Kid: (Giggling) No!

Me: Okay....Harold!

Kid: (Laughing) No!!

Sometimes I will guess twenty to thirty times, and usually it is a great way to show kids and teenagers that the Phillips family is having a great time on deputation. But today it backfired.

I had just met a 12 year old girl named Bailey. Next to her was what appeared to be a 9 year old girl with shoulder-length blonde hair. So, I began the name-guessing game.

Me: "So, what's your name?"

Kid: "It's..."

Me: "Wait, wait...let me guess....Meredith!"

Kid: "No."

Me: "Okay...Jessica!"

Kid: "No....keep guessing."

Me: "Ummm....Brittany!"

At about this time, Bailey, the 12-year old girl whom I had just met, and who happened to be the cousin of the kid whose name I was attempting to guess, began whispering something to me with her hand over her mouth. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what she was saying.

"He's a boy, not a girl!"

"Oh," I replied, "okay...well...what's your name, man?" (Emphasis on the "man")

(Interestingly, the boy's name was Haven. Even if I had just asked him his name, I probably would have still thought he was a little girl.)

I tried to think of a smooth way out of the embarrassing situation; but my wits failed me. It was one of those awkward moments in life when there is no escape from looking like a total idiot.

Hopefully this doesn't happen again. :^)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Anthem Every Church Should Have

It is a good sign when I walk into a church on a Sunday morning and see several people who are NOT wearing suits, ties, and knee-length dresses. When I see this, I can pretty much surmise that I am in a church that is reaching out to people; and that is a great thing. On the same token, I become a bit concerned when I enter a church on a Sunday morning and EVERYONE is dressed perfectly. Obviously, the reason for my concern is that this is a sign that the church is content with its current status, and perhaps even views unchurched visitors as a burden rather than a blessing.

I was in a church on a Sunday morning in which everyone was in their Sunday best. The pastor preached for about an hour on several hot-button issues, all issues that the average unchurched person in America would not understand. In all of his ranting and raving on issues, I don't remember hearing a clear presentation of the Gospel. Had I brought a first-time visitor to church that Sunday morning, I would have been grossly disappointed.

I believe in the biblical teaching of modesty; but the most important thing an unsaved woman needs to hear when visiting an Independent Baptist church is NOT a fifteen minute temper tantrum against women wearing pants. I believe that the King James Version is the correct English translation; but going on a ten minute "face-ripping" session about the corruption of the other versions on a Sunday morning is NOT the first and most important thing a lost visitor needs to hear. The FIRST thing a lost visitor needs to sense and hear preached is the amazing love of Christ. Not only do they need to hear that message preached, but they need to sense the love of Christ in our spirit when we preach it. I believe the best way to help an unsaved person understand issues of personal separation is to first see them saved, and then to help them through personal discipleship. (Of course, it is absolutely necessary for a pastor to preach the whole counsel of God; and I believe that Sunday and Wednesday nights are wonderful opportunities for a pastor to deal with issues of personal separation, reasons for why we use the King James Version, etc. But when dealing with these issues, I believe we should remember that we not only need to speak the truth, but we need to speak the truth in love.)

With all that being said, I would like to share the lyrics of a wonderful song written by Bro. Cary Schmidt, one of the assistant pastors at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California. The song is entitled, "This Must Be the Place." I believe this should be the anthem of every Independent, Fundamental Baptist church.

Souls on the street, addicted to sin

Selling themselves to survive

Not understanding the love they could find

In a place where God's love is alive.

They doubt that they could meet the standards necessary,

And fear that they'd find judgment

Rather than a sanctuary.

The neighbor next door keeps the house looking good,

But the home is collapsing within.

Pressures of life pull a family apart,

And temptation's destruction begins.

They doubt the church could have the answers necessary

And fear they'd find rejection rather than a sanctuary.


This must be a place where a broken heart can mend

This must be a place where the outcast finds a friend.

For we cannot lift the fallen if our hand still holds a stone,

And their sin that seems so great to us is no greater than our own.

There must be a point where shame meets grace,

And the church must be the place.

Jumping Into the Deep End

If I had to explain how I feel right now about our upcoming move to Cambodia, I would use the following analogy.

I feel like a kid who has had a couple of swimming lessons. He can somewhat hold his own in the shallow end of the pool. And then, his dad takes him by the hand and begins to lead him to the high dive. "Son," the dad says, "I want you to jump of this high dive into this water that is 20 feet deep. Don't worry- you've been practicing for this, and if anything goes wrong, I'll be there to help you."

God has taken me by the hand and is leading my family and me to what seems like the "deep end." I'm nervous. I question whether I am ready for this. At times, I doubt myself. But I am reminded of Psalm 107:23-30: "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep." This verse and the verses following teach me that it is in the deep waters of life that we see the Lord do the greatest works; and it is in the deep waters of life that we truly see His hand of providence and provision.

I do have reason to be nervous if our mission is dependent upon my strength and ability. But I have the confidence to jump into these deep waters because I know that God has led me to this "high dive", that He has prepared me for this "jump", and He will be there to help me when I feel like I'm about to "go under."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Questions and Answers

Recently, I was considering the reality of the decision to follow the Lord to Cambodia. I guess these thoughts were triggered when I looked at the calendar recently and realized that our departure is only four months away. As I have been thinking about this life-changing move we are preparing to make in just a few short months, I have asked myself some questions, and have been assured with some answers from God's Word.

What would cause us to leave our family, our friends, and our comforts and move to a country like Cambodia? What would motivate me to learn a language like Khmer? Why would we go to a predominantly Buddhist country and tell them of Jesus Christ, knowing that if they accept this Jesus they will be ostracized from their families and ridiculed by their countrymen?

Here are a few answers that have given assurance to my sometimes frail heart.

1. Because of the command of Christ. In all of the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, Christ issues the command to His church to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. I like the words of Jim Elliot: "Why are you waiting on a voice when you already have a verse?"

2. Because of the constraining love of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:14 states, "For the love of Christ constraineth us..." Praise the Lord, I am a recipient of God's love; and it is that very love that has compelled me to go to such a spiritually dark place like Cambodia, where most of them know nothing of the love of God. The verse goes on to say, "because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Christ's love constrains us, it compels us, to carry the light of the Gospel to Cambodia.

3. Because of the cry of the Christless. Most people in Cambodia are not waiting with open arms for us to arrive with the message of the Gospel. Many of them are angry that we preach a message that is in direct conflict with their religion. But they are crying. While many will not admit it, they are crying for truth. They are crying for love. Their religion and superstitions have left them spiritually, emotionally, and even physically empty. I believe that the only true answer to their spiritual plight is salvation in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Tonight, the during the last service of the missions conference at Harvest Baptist Church in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, I had the privilege to sing "A Passion for Thee" for the offertory.

A passion for Thee
Oh, Lord, set a fire in my soul
And a thirst for my God!
Hear Thou my prayer
Lord, Thy power impart
Not just to serve
But to love Thee with all of my heart.

After I finished singing, Pastor Kurt Skelly made some insightful remarks about the message of the song- the fact that our service for God should flow from a sincere love for Him. Then, he made the most profound statement concerning true service for God that I have ever heard.

"True service for God is not about output; true service for God is about outflow."

How true this is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Being a Realist

Tonight I was in a service at a large fellowship meeting. There were many missionary families present, as well as many pastors and laymen. I went alone because my daughter was sick, and my wife needed to be with her. I slipped in a few minutes before the service started, greeted some familiar, friendly faces that I have met on the deputation trail, and took my seat. The choir sang wonderfully; the congregational singing was lively; the preaching was great. Yet, I felt unsettled in my heart.

Normally, I would love this setting. But tonight, I kept thinking thoughts along these lines: "Here we are, all wearing our happy faces, enjoying the magnificent choir, listening to a well-known preacher- but this isn't reality. Reality is being in Cambodia where people aren't patting you on the back. Reality is being discouraged because you have been soul winning for weeks, and have little to show for it. Reality is being in a country where they have no concept of camp meetings, revival meetings, fellowship meetings, or big-name preachers. Reality is smelling the stench of an open sewer as you walk to the market. Reality is the brothel across the street from the church."

Now, I'm just being transparent. And don't misunderstand me. I'm not against fellowship meetings. They definitely have their purpose, and I appreciate them. I'm just against thinking that fellowship meetings are the pinnacle of the Christian experience. I'm against the mentality that says, "Man! Here we are at this big meeting! This is what it's all about!" I appreciate the fellowship at these kind of meetings; but the hyped-up fellowship meetings are not "what it's all about."

Then, this thought hit me. "For me, reality needs to be serving the Lord with a heart of sincerity and full of joy, even if no man ever recognizes me."

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Phillips Family Setup Fund

Thank you for taking a minute to find out what the Phillips Family Setup Fund is all about. If you will look to the right-hand side of the screen, you will find a brief description of the Setup Fund, as well as a detailed list of items we will need to purchase immediately upon arrival to Cambodia on March 29, 2011.

If you would rather send a check, please make check out to:

Macedonia World Baptist Missions
(In the memo line of the check, just write "For Chad Phillips Setup Fund")

and send to this address:
Macedonia World Baptist Missons
P.O. Box 519
Braselton, GA 30517

Thank you, and God bless!

-The Phillips Family, servants to Cambodia

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dark Places of the Earth

Psalm 74:20- "Have respect unto the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."

If there ever were a spiritually dark place in this world, it would be the country of Cambodia. The Gospel first reached Cambodia in 1923 when David Ellison went in as the first evangelical Christian missionary. From the time the Gospel entered Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975, very few Cambodians turned from Buddhism, animism, demonism, and ancestor worship to Christ. The number of Christians in Cambodia on April 17, 1975- the day of the Khmer Rouge victory- was approximately 10,000, not even one percent of the country.

In addition to the educated class, the Khmer Rouge also targeted religious people of all types. Before 1975, there were thousands of Buddhist monks in the country. By 1979, there were only about 50 Buddhist monks who were still alive. Of the 10,000 Christians, it is estimated that 90 percent of them perished in the "Killing Fields."

Throughout the 1980's, the Khmer Rouge were fighting another brutal civil war with the Vietnamese-installed government in an attempt to regain their power, and Cambodia remained shut off from the rest of the world. In 1994, Cambodia finally opened its doors to outside influences, and missionaries re-entered for the first time since 1974.

Yes, the Gospel reached Cambodia in 1923; but what little presence of the Gospel that was there was almost completely annihilated during the "Killing Fields." The missionaries who entered Cambodia in the mid 1990's- missionaries like Rodney Ruppel- came into a country that had been without a strong Gospel witness for twenty years. Additionally, these missionaries had the responsibility of ministering to a people who had been through genocide and corruption unparalleled by any other country in history.

Because of its oppressive spiritual darkness, Cambodia is "full of the habitations of cruelty." It is one of the top countries in the world for the heinous practice of child prostitution. In Cambodia, honesty is not seen as a virtue, but rather as a weakness. To say that the government is corrupt would be a drastic understatement. Indeed, Cambodia is a country in desperate need of the "light of the glorious Gospel of Christ." Please pray for us as we carry the light to this dark place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Special Missions Conference

From October 27-31, God allowed us to be at Bible Baptist Church in Matthews, NC for their missions conference. This is a dear church to our hearts for a couple of reasons.

First, my grandfather, Dr. Jim Phillips, pastored this church for 21 years (from 1978-1999). Under his leadership, God allowed the church to see thousands saved, baptized, and discipled. The church grew from an average of 50 to over 700. Scores of people who were members of Bible Baptist are now in full time ministry. Praise the Lord, the church is still moving forward under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Ron Allen.

Second, Bible Baptist Church is the church where I was dedicated by my parents to the Lord back in 1982. How thankful I am to God for giving me the opportunity to come back to Bible Baptist 28 years after I was dedicated to the Lord and preach from the pulpit from which my grandfather preached for 21 years. It is only of His goodness and mercy that such a wonderful event could take place. I can look back on many times of my life where God should have just taken me home. But He has allowed me to live for Him, and He has added bonus blessings along the way. God is good!