Frank and Sandy Phillips were on a vacation out west when a scenic Utah vista became, he said, a geologic description of Jesus Christ.
The vast Bryce Canyon amphitheater, crowded with eroded rock formations called “hoodoos,” appears to have a lone, pale-colored figure facing the rest of the red-rock geological formations, Frank Phillips said. The scene stirred his soul and he snapped a photograph that is now the cover of his new book, “Living Life.”
“I was standing along the rim of the canyon and saw these thousands of little hoodoos and looking at it, I saw the back of this figure in the center of the photo, and it reminded me of Christ speaking to a multitude of people,” Phillips, 71, said. “Just looking at that awakened so many thoughts in my mind about Christ and how we can see him in nature and everything we look at.”
A caption printed across the bottom of the front cover reads, “Jesus spoke to the people and those who believed His message received eternal life.”
The book, a full color, illustrated devotional guide to a fulfilling life in Christ, was recently released and is available online and in some local stores. Several of the scenery photos were shot by Phillips, taken over years of touring the USA; other photos were provided by the publisher, Lulu Publishing Services.
The title, “Living Life,” Phillips said, “comes from allowing Christ to live his life through you and you to live your life within Christ.”
In its 25 pages, Phillips clearly and simply explains topics such as God’s love, separation from God and its consequences, what salvation means, journeying to heaven and having an effective prayer life.
“The audience that I want to appeal to is that casual Christian that maybe attends church but is not fully involved,” Phillips said. “I also want the book to appeal to the young Christian that has just accepted Christ and to give them a guide that will take them through scripture that will lead them into accepting God’s plan for their life, implementing that plan and giving them a road map to follow through life.”
Another of his photos, of a trail winding through a foggy, northern California redwood forest, “gives you the sense of starting out on a journey,” he said.
The 10-chapter book, printed in large type, is formatted in what Phillips calls anecdotal form and begins by explaining God’s love for the reader.
“I use a weaver’s loom to illustrate how God threads his love into the fabric of that person,” Phillips said.
“My goal is to offer something that takes God from a passive role, just as someone they know or have read about, to a dynamic role in their life,” he said. “To guide them into fulfilling purpose in their life.”
Growing up as the oldest son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher and farmer, Phillips said while he has always known of Jesus, he never really completely gave his heart to Christ until middle age. He couldn’t wait to get away from the farm so he enlisted in the Army at 18, served three years and was honorably discharged after a tour in the rebuilding of South Korea.
He attended college to learn about the brand-new technology of automated electronics and built a successful engineering and testing firm, Gulf Western Electric, that he sold a few years ago.
He and Sandy were attending Parkview Baptist Church in 1989 when his life changed, he said.
“I was a good person, I put money in the offering plate, said all the right things, did all the right things, but I had never openly accepted Christ,” Phillips said. Then during a Sunday school class, “Dr. Alton Starkey said, ‘you know it doesn’t matter how good a person you are or how much good you do, it makes no difference unless you have truly accepted Christ into your life. He is the only way to salvation or you are not going to heaven when you die.”
“I nudged my wife and said we need to go down to the front of the church and confess our love for Jesus Christ,” Phillips said, his voice thickening with emotion. “That’s when I fully and truly openly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of my life.”
This is his first book, although Phillips said he’s written many devotionals, Sunday school lessons and sermons and has taken thousands of photographs. Now semi-retired from a successful career, he is working on another book about how the American family that used to meet daily at the dinner table is disintegrating.
He said he loves the 23rd Psalm and John 14:26, where Jesus promises his apostles the Holy Spirit will come to them. But his favorite Scripture, that guides his daily life, is John 17:4, where Jesus is praying just prior to his arrest and crucifixion.
“We’ll all find ourselves in this position,” Phillips said, “and when his hour had come, he prayed, ‘I have glorified You on the earth and have finished the work you gave me to do.’”