PJ

PJ

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew of coffee and join me for a couple of random, but I hope fruitful, thoughts.

1. Today is the first official Friday of the fall season (autumn officially arrived yesterday at 10:21am). This is somewhat ironic given the fact that the high temperatures for yesterday and today are from the mid to upper 80s. Just shows that the thermometer doesn't always agree with the season. But the forecast for next week is much more fall-like. You see, the seasons come, and the seasons go. And they always come in their proper sequence. So we know that the summer type temperatures won't continue forever… For autumn has now arrived. And the temperatures will progressively trend downward  as we approach the next season of winter. Life is a lot like this. We go through seasons of life. As I look back at my own life I think fondly of the season of childhood. My earliest memories go back to when I was three years of age. Childhood passed and I entered the season of adolescence and then young adulthood.  This was followed by middle-age… And just this year I hit the season of life known as the sixties! I have eight grandchildren! Before I know it, should God grant me more years,  I'll be rocking away (and not to music!), wondering where life went!  But that's OK. I know that this life is merely a preface to the life to come. And with my faith firmly fixed on Jesus Christ, my savior and Lord … I know with the utmost confidence that I will one day cross the great divide from this life into the next. When that happens I will find myself in that glorious place called heaven. How about you?  Do you have this confidence? Or do you have questions about your eternal destination? Courage you to take a few moments and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. You will be glad you did!

2. This week I did a couple of really really stupid things! On  Monday, my wife and I stopped at Walmart. We needed to run in and pick up some miniature pumpkins and some google eyes for a project she was planning for our "little kids." When I got out the car I noticed that it made some sort of strange noise when I went to lock the door. I paused for a moment, and then turned toward the store. About 20 minutes later, shopping mission now accomplished, as I went to unlock the car, I found the door already unlocked. "That's odd!" I said to myself. So I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. When I went to start the car I discovered it was already running! That's right! I left the car running with doors unlocked the entire time we were in Walmart. Now a little background on this. We bought this car in late June. It has a push button ignition.  I'm not trying to make an excuse for my stupid move… But I guess I am still getting used to this new technology. That was stupid move number one. Stupid move number two occurred the very next day. I was walking back from a lunch our staff  enjoyed together in the café of the nearby supermarket. There were three of us walking abreast along the sidewalk. I was walking near the curb.  As I turned my head from the side to look straight ahead, I did so a split-second before I walked right into a metal rod that was holding a banner on the lamp post. You talk about seeing stars.  I saw a few! But after a couple of minutes I started feeling better and no significant damage was done (to me or the banner, my pride, however, took a huge hit!).  All of us from time to time pull stupid stunts like this. As I look back on these "duh moves," I am glad and thankful that no one hopped into our car and took off with it! I'm also grateful that I didn't knock myself out walking in to that metal rod! But when we do stupid things,  I find it a comfort to know that our God… Who is wise beyond measure . . . has his eye upon us (Matthew 10:29-31) and and his hand firmly gripping our lives (John 10:28-29)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

 It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me for a few random thoughts…

1.  Monday evening of this past week, my son, Tim, invited me over to his house to watch our favorite NFL team play (which is the Pittsburgh Steelers of course!).  Since our granddaughter, Ella, was attending art club at our church facility (which is only a couple of minutes from our home), I offered to pick her up and bring her with me to save my son a trip. When we arrived in the house my son informed Ella  that she needed to do some reading. The conversation went something like this:

T -  OK Ella, before you do anything else you need to do some reading.
E -  How long do I need to read? Ten minutes?
T - No, you need to read longer than that.
E - So  how long?
T - Well why don't we negotiate? How about 40 minutes?
E - Well (with a sigh) ... OK

With that Ella proceeded up the stairs to retrieve her book. After she went upstairs, I looked at my son and said, "I guess she needs to learn what the word negotiate means!" Negotiate. I wonder how often we do this with God. We try to negotiate with him when it comes to the demands he makes upon us. Yet when it comes down to it… Who are we to to negotiate with God?  I think we often forget that he is God and we are not. If you need reminded of this take some time and read the  Old Testament book of Job.  Job tried to negotiate with God. And when God finally showed up, any thoughts of negotiations were over! God reminded Job of this truth: "I am God and you are not."  If we pause to remind ourselves of this truth AND the truth that God's commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13), this should dampen any desire we have to negotiate with God. And that, my friends, is a good thing!

2. Here's a quick update on my health. Yesterday I went back for another post op follow-up appointment with my surgeon (surgery was four weeks ago). When I went two weeks ago for my first post op, the surgeon was concerned with a  hematoma which had formed.  I am very thankful to say that the hematoma has almost totally dissipated on its own (otherwise a surgical procedure would've been required to remove it).  I'm also grateful that the x-rays taken yesterday showed everything was looking good. I will continue with physical therapy twice a week. I will continue to wear the brace. And I will continue with the weight restriction of 4 to 5 pounds (lifting  with my left arm). Thanks for all of your ongoing prayers! Very much appreciated! To God be the glory!!!

Thanks for stopping by…
PJ

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday!  Hard to believe that another work week is almost in the books!  Go ahead and pour yourself a couple of your favorite java  and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1.  On Wednesday of this week I finally got my removable splint made for my arm and wrist. It was a rather fascinating process watching the therapist make the splint for me. But I must  admit I would've rather had the experience watching it made on YouTube! What really struck me most when she took off the cast that had been on my arm was just how much my arm had atrophied in the past three weeks. It is a shadow of its former self. She pointed out that once everything is healed with my wrist and arm I will have to work hard at strengthening the arm back to its pre-surgery state.  Now I was not surprised that my arm had atrophied.  That's what happens to muscles when they are not used. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. When we fail to exercise certain spiritual practices… We experience spiritual atrophy. So for example if you're not praying like you should,  when you do pray your prayers will tend to be weak and shallow.  The same is true for our interaction with God's word. If you're not exercising that spiritual practice you will experience atrophy. So the key to saying strong  in the so-called spiritual disciplines that will lead us to grow in our faith is to exercise them. So how are you doing? People spent a lot of time and a lot of money keeping their bodies in shape.  What are you doing to keep  your soul in shape?

2.  This summer is one that is insisting on sticking around.  We are currently standing at 38 days of 90° or above this summer (in a normal summer we would have 22 such days).  And with the forecast containing at least two more days with forecast highs of 90° we should have no problem hitting the
40 mark (which would tie for 7th place on the "Most 90 degree days" list)! This is been one hot long summer!  But it is September. That means with one turn at the calendar, it will be October. Summer will soon begin  to fade in the rear view mirror of life. That's the way life happens. Summers come  and summers go. And the older we get the faster that all occurs! The other day as I looked in the mirror it struck me that a 60-year-old man was staring back at me. Really? I'm now in my 60s? How did that happen? When did it happen? Well sooner or later it happens to all of us. As the Scripture reminds us we are like grass that flourishes in the morning but fades and withers by evening (Psalm 90:5-6).  Given this reality we all need to be praying Psalm 90:12. "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  And we need to be living out the Apostle's Paul's counsel in Ephesians 5:15-15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are passing quickly." So let's determine to make the most of our time ... living each day for Christ and Christ alone!

Thanks for stopping by,
PJ

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well, it's Friday again. So I invite you to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts. And since I am still in recovery mode and typing comes with some difficulty, I will begin with a quick update on my health followed with a post I wrote a while back.

1. On Wednesday I returned to see my surgeon for my postop  appointment (15 days following my surgery). For the most part he was pleased, although he is concerned about a hematoma which has formed. He is hoping it will dissipate on it's own. If it does not then he will have to care for it in the OR. Normally I would be seeing him in four weeks, but due to this I will be seeing him in two. I did get my cast off and the sutures out. I have a temporary splint on. Next Wednesday I see the hand therapist who will fit me for a splint I can put on and take off myself. Yea! Thanks for your own ongoing prayers!

2.                                You Can Run but You Can’t Hide!

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) might be the most watched show on television – but it is losing popularity among law enforcement personnel.  It seems that criminals are “wising up” on how to go about covering up their tracks after a crime.  And it appears that they are learning how to do so by watching the popular TV series.  Take for example the case of  Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney. This guy allegedly broke into a home and murdered two women.  He then carefully cleaned up the crime scene (using bleach which destroys DNA evidence) and disposed of the bodies and his bloody clothing.  He did make one mistake, though.  He attempted to get rid of some of the evidence by throwing it into a lake. However the lake was frozen and what he threw remained on top of the ice (apparently the ice was too thin to support his weight, so he was unable to retrieve the incriminating evidence).  Investigators later recovered the evidence and charged McKinney with two counts of murder (the word, “duh” comes to mind!). 

Now as I thought about this, a lot of life lessons come to mind.  But probably the most needful for me (and I think for you, too) comes out of the Old Testament book of Numbers where we read, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  You see, friend, you and I can do all we want to try to “cover up our sin.”  But the God who sees all – He will know.  So when you do sin, come clean with God.  Confess your sin to Him and receive from Him cleansing and forgiveness.  It is the far better route to go! (See 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32:1-2)

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday! So it's time to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts… But I hope prove profitable for you!

1. Today is National Dog Day.  So for all of the 43 million plus households in the US who own dogs, today is a day to celebrate your little or big canine friend (and in case you're wondering, more households have dogs and cats.)! Now my household is not among these 43 million plus households that own a dog. And after reading a USA today story on the cost of owning one, I am not sad that I don't.  Please don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like dogs. I grew up with a dog always as part of our family. But I'm at the point where my favorite dog is the dog I don't own. When I think of dogs (and cats) it just makes me wonder at the creativity of our Creator. So as you celebrate your your dog today, thank God for the gift God  has given to you to bring joy to your life!

2.   As I write these words it is now day #9 following my ulnar shortening osteotomy surgery*. The recovery has been a bit more difficult than I had  anticipated. I am scheduled for my post op appointment next Wednesday at 10 AM. Then I will have the wrapping removed, the cast removed and the stitches removed.  Sounds like a fun visit! 😳  Through this recovery I have been reminded of just how frail our health can be. At the same time I've been reminded that God is Jehovah-Rapha, the God Who Heals!  Yes we have surgeons to do surgery on us, and pharmacists who dispense medications to help us deal with pain and to heal… But it is ultimately God who does the healing. Given this reality I would ask all of you who are reading this to please pray for my recovery. And if I can pray for you in anyway, please don't hesitate to let me know and I will add you to my prayer list (Contact me directly at jsmith@gracewv.org).

I wish I could write more, but I am down to just one hand. So I'm actually using my voice activation feature on my iPad mini to type this blog post..

 Thanks for stopping by,

PJ

* What is ulnar shortening osteotomy surgery? The ulna bone, one of the two forearm bones, runs along the ulnar nerve in the elbow to wrist. The larger of the two bones, the radius, extending from the elbow to the wrist on the thumb side of the forearm. When damage occurs in the cartilage of the wrist joint holding radius and ulna bones together, the movements can cause pain. An ulnar shortening osteotomy removes part of the ulna bone and inserts a plate to hold the bone together. This surgical procedure can promote more movement and less pain on the ulnar side of the wrist.

The surgeon also repaired a torn ligament in my wrist and cleaned out the wrist joint. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

No new blog post this week as I am recovering from surgery ... so thought I would pull a post from the past. 

Hey You Geese!  Must You Do All That Honking? 

Yesterday morning, just before dawn, I woke up to the sounds of a flock of geese honking wildly as they flew over our house.  I heard more geese honking mid morning AND late afternoon as they flew over the church facility.  What is it with these geese?  As soon as they take flight, the honking begins.  I decided to do some research on the internet to see why they honk so much.  Most of the articles I read stated that geese honk to encourage one another in flight.  Now I am not opposed to geese encouraging each other, but I sure wish they could find some other way to do so – especially at the crack of dawn! 

But let’s look on the proverbial “bright side” of all this annoying honking (at least I find it annoying!). We can learn something from our feathered neighbors.  All of us are surrounded by people who need encouragement. They have slipped and fallen. They are bleeding.  They hurt.  They need a dose of encouragement as they attempt to go through their daily routine.  Yet all too often what we offer is criticism and quick advice. Let’s all purpose to give out encouragement today.  Here’s my challenge: Seek to give encouragement to at least three people today via a spoken word, a written note, or an act of kindness. Remember these words of Paul: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”  (1 Thessalonians 5:11; see also Hebrews 3:13).

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday already! Where is the week going? Not sure ... but am sure that I will be on my second cup of coffee before the clock strikes 7:00! Thanks for joining me for a few random (but I hope fruitful) thoughts!

1. If you read my blog of last week, you know that last Friday we were on the next to last day of our annual trek to the Delaware beach. What you may not know is that last Friday was actually our LAST day at Bethany Beach. While we were there ... just starting to have a good old time ... an unwelcome visitor paid a visit: "the stomach and points beyond bug." Of 16 of us in the house, 8 became sick throughout the week. When the final two (or so we thought at the time) succumbed in the early morning hours of Friday, we all decided to pack up and head for home a day early. I am so glad we did as I came down with the bug on Saturday evening and my wife on Sunday (victims #9 and #10). Needless to say ... this will be one beach vacation that we will always remember! As I reflected on our time, a line from the traditional marriage vow came to mind, "in sickness and in health." Our family lived this out in a very real way last week. And as my wife put it so well ... it gave us an opportunity to "family" one another. It was indeed a joy to see how my kids were helping each other out in the midst of the "plague!" But as I look forward to next summer ... I am hoping we can "family" one another in a different way! :)

2. A few years ago my wife, Sharon and I took a trip to visit Harper’s Ferry National Park (well worth the visit!). During our time there, we spent two nights in a nearby hotel.  When I registered for the room online, I entered my AAA membership number to obtain the 10% AAA discount offered by the hotel. In checking out, I noticed that the discount had not been applied. So I pointed this out to the front desk clerk. She re-ran the room charge and assured me that the discount had been applied. However, upon returning home, I got online to double check the rate I was charged. Guess what? I had not received the discount. So I decided to call the hotel. Sure, the dollar amount of the discount was not going to break the Smith family bank. But at this point it was more the principle of the matter that was getting to me. When I called, the same front desk clerk answered the phone. As I explained the reason for my call, she did remember me. So she went back to her computer and after checking assured me that the discount would be applied and my credit card would be charged the AAA discounted room rate. I thanked her for her help and hung up, still not totally assured that she was
right. The next day, I logged onto my credit card’s web site and saw the posting – which did not reflect the discount! So here is a question for you: when is a discount not a discount? When it is NOT applied to one’s account. As I thought of this – I thought of another transaction that gets applied to our account. It is the transaction that occurs the moment a person makes a faith commitment to Jesus Christ - trusting Him and Him alone for one's salvation from sin.  At that moment, that person’s sin is taken and applied to Christ’s account and Christ’s righteousness is taken and applied to that person’s account (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). We can rest easy about this transaction, for it is one we never have to worry about.  It is sealed with the blood of Jesus Himself! 

3. For those of you who have been following along with my wife's journey, you will be happy to know that a nuclear medicine bone scan (which she underwent right before our beach vacation) has revealed that her broken femur does appear to be healed. As the orthopedic surgeon said, "We are as sure as we can be that the bone has healed." That is good news (but since he said he is not 100% certain, he will continue to see her with her next visit in 6 weeks). This is good news! We have now gone from "it's my gut feeling that it is healed" to "we are as sure as we can be." That's progress! So Sharon is resuming her physical therapy with hopes of getting her leg straight (it is about 10 degrees short of straight) and getting more motion in her knee (currently no more than about an 80 degree bend). This also means that I can now proceed to have my surgery to correct my ulnar impaction syndrome.  My surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday (the 16th) at Orthopedic Associates's North Pointe Surgical Center. in Lancaster. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

And thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

I invite you to pour yourself a cup of coffee (and if you don't drink coffee, maybe you should start!) and join me for some abbreviated thoughts this morning.

1. Vacation. Merriam-Webster defines vacation as "a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel." Today's post is abbreviated because I did not get as much time to write this before I left for a week of vacation in Bethany Beach. Today is our final day of our annual trek as a family to this beautiful resort town along the Delaware coast. Perhaps next week I will share a story or two from our week (and I am sure I will have plenty to draw from as we spend the time with all of our kids and our eight grandkids - ages 16, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 8 months and 6 months. Hmmm. As I think about that ... perhaps you can take the word "relax" out of the definition of this vacation!  :)

2.  I just picked up our van from the body shop. A few weeks ago, I noticed from an upstairs window (that overlooked our driveway) that the paint was peeling off the roof of the van. In some spots it had begun to rust. So ... I thought I had better get the roof repainted before the rust began to spread. The last thing I wanted was a shower INSIDE the van! As I think about this ... I see a spiritual life lesson for all of us. We MUST, on a regular basis,  examine our walk with God. And we must do so by looking into the mirror of God's Word (James 1:22-25). In addition to God's Word ... you may want to ask for help from a trusted friend. All of us have blind spots (listen to my sermon on the life of King Jotham to hear some thoughts about blind spots and how devastating they can be). So it is extremely helpful that we give permission to others to speak truth into our lives when they see a blind spot (something that we either do not see or are choosing to ignore that we MUST address). Failure to do so will be a detriment to our walk with God and our impact upon the world in which we live.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means coffee and a couple of random thoughts that I hope will be of help to you as you strive to live your faith in Christ.

1. One thing I always find interesting about political conventions. They (both the Democrats and the Republicans) always only showcase "one side." Now it is obvious why they do it - they want to win in the general election. So we get it. But transferring this "looking-at-one-side" to the real world can really get us confused and out of sync. So we must be careful. We must especially be careful that we do not do this when looking at only "one side" of God. Often I hear people say something like, "I like to think of God as ...." Usually the word they fill in that blank with is something like "loving" or "gracious" or "good" or "faithful." And it is true. God is all of these and we need to be VERY thankful that he is! But isn't the God revealed in the Bible also "just" and "holy" and "wrathful?" Of course he is. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the CHURCH in Rome, urged them to "consider the kindness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22). And in the book of Hebrews we are told, in words written to Christians, that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29). It seems to me that today's Church in increasingly looking at God in a "one-sided" manner. Yes God is a God of incredible and amazing love! But he is also a God of terrifying holiness (do a study of those in the Bible who came face-to-face with God and be prepared for some face plants!). Only as we understand just how awesome God is in his holiness, justice, wrath, etc. .... will we truly understand and rejoice in his love, mercy and grace!

 2. Controversy. It is everywhere. No matter where you go, or where you turn, you will find controversy. Even the one event that perhaps brings the world together like no other is not immune to it. Of course I am talking about the Olympic Games. Just one week from today the Summer Games will have its opening ceremonies in Rio De Janeiro. And in our day of seeming endless controversy, the Olympics has its share (think Russian doping scandal and athletes housing issues ... just to name a few). And if you don't like controversy ... well you may want to plan three month excursion to the moon because more controversy is sure to be coming our way as the presidential election heats up. What saddens me about all of this is that the differences we all have in so many varied arenas of life cannot seem to be discussed in a civil and kind way. Instead of trying to understand one another we tend to attack those with whom we disagree. I could go on a lot longer about this ... but let me suggest one simple step all of us can take toward a way we can "defuse" heated conversations about controversial matters....let's just purpose to LISTEN to UNDERSTAND what the others are saying. That, my friend, will go a long way toward bringing back civil discourse in this country to where it needs to be. And to my fellow followers of Christ ... let's practice the admonition of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Colosse:

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:5-6).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ (inludes recent update on my wife, Sharon)

Friday morning (like EVERY morning for me) means COFFEE! So if you are reading this in the morning hours, please pour yourself a cup of java and join me for a few random thoughts (and if it's afternoon, iced coffee is great for these hot and humid days - especially if you drink decaff!).

1. Back in June in one of my three sermons on Isaiah chapter forty (one of the greatest portraits of our awesome God in all of the Bible), I quoted the following words of A.W. Tozer found in his classic book, The Root of the Righteous:

“Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of the lack of spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession do so many persons find themselves no further along than when they first believed?”

“The causes of this lack of growth are many. It would not be accurate to scribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal but it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God. The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.”

I believe Tozer is spot on with his thoughts. True when he wrote them over  half a century ago. Just as true (if not more so) today! How well do you know God? What are you doing to get to know him better? Vital questions to ask yourself today! 

2.  We live in such an "instant" society. When we want something, we want it NOW! Ordering online shows just how true this is. Consider with me Amazon, one of the largest online retailers in the world. For several years, Amazon has offered Prime members free two-day shipping. So if you order on a Monday ... you are guaranteed delivery on Wednesday. However, when Amazon first offered this service, if you ordered on a Friday, you would receive your shipment on Monday. But that has changed. Now you will receive your goods on Sunday! And since that is still not good enough for many, Amazon has been offering same day delivery (Prime Now) in over two dozen larger urban markets around the country. This desire for instantaneity has sadly infiltrated into our spiritual lives. Therefore we expect spiritual growth to come quickly and with little effort. And when this is not the case, we grow discouraged and do little more than "tread water." The New Testament over and over again tells us that we must "make every effort" (2 Peter 1:5-11) and "train" ourselves for godliness (1 Timoth 4:7). So ... what are you dong to "train" yourself to be godly? You might very well be thinking to yourself ... "Right, John! Like I have any spare time to train for godliness! I am running from the time I crawl out of bed ... get the kids up ... feed them breakfast ... get ready for work ... drop them off at the babysitter's ... and put in a full day at the office .. and then go through an evening routine that is just as hectic as the morning. Where am I going to find the time to do anything else?Isn't going to church a couple of Sundays each month enough?" If I just described your thoughts (and I am guessing I am for many of you), let me suggest a short and a very readable book that just might go a long way in changing your life: Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed.  If you order it and read it, you will not be disappointed! 

3. Last Saturday our men's ministries sponsored a night out to the local minor league baseball park to see the hometown Lancaster Barnstarmers play. I took along with me a dear friend, Paul Klawitter, whom I unfortunately don't get a lot of face time with (we see each other probably every-other-year). You see he lives in Dijon, France which is a bit of a "hike" from Lancaster, PA. I first met Paul,who
now serves Encompass World Partners as Sr. Director of International Church Planting, back in 1984. At the time he was an elder at Bon Meade Grace Brethren Church in Coraopolis, PA (near Pittsburgh) and I was a young pastor looking for a new church ministry. We connected over the phone and immediately hit it off. Within two months of that initial phone conversation, I was moving my young family from Philadephia to Pittsburgh for the next chapter of my pastoral ministry career. Even though I served alongside of Paul for a brief six months (he and his wife moved to the Philadelphia area to begin seminary at my alma mater, Biblical Theological Seminary in preparation for their deployment to France), we have kept in touch over the years. Because of our friendship, I believe I am a better man, a better pastor, a better husband and dad. In our Facebook world of shallow relationships, it is so refreshing and necessary to have friends like Paul. I thank God I have a few of these! 

4. Finally a quick update on my wife: We saw Sharon's orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday of this week. After discussing with Sharon her progress in the last 6 weeks, checking out her knee and closely examining the x-rays, he told us that he has "a gut feeling" that Sharon's broken femur is healed. But since the x-rays are still not conclusive, he ordered a nuclear medicine bone scan for Sharon for next Thursday, July 28th. We will then go back to see him on August 10th for the results. Hopefully it will confirm what he suspects but cannot completely confirm via the x-rays and clinical evidence alone. Thanks for your prayers. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj
 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew of coffee and join me for a couple of random, but I hope fruitful, thoughts.

1. Today is the first official Friday of the fall season (autumn officially arrived yesterday at 10:21am). This is somewhat ironic given the fact that the high temperatures for yesterday and today are from the mid to upper 80s. Just shows that the thermometer doesn't always agree with the season. But the forecast for next week is much more fall-like. You see, the seasons come, and the seasons go. And they always come in their proper sequence. So we know that the summer type temperatures won't continue forever… For autumn has now arrived. And the temperatures will progressively trend downward  as we approach the next season of winter. Life is a lot like this. We go through seasons of life. As I look back at my own life I think fondly of the season of childhood. My earliest memories go back to when I was three years of age. Childhood passed and I entered the season of adolescence and then young adulthood.  This was followed by middle-age… And just this year I hit the season of life known as the sixties! I have eight grandchildren! Before I know it, should God grant me more years,  I'll be rocking away (and not to music!), wondering where life went!  But that's OK. I know that this life is merely a preface to the life to come. And with my faith firmly fixed on Jesus Christ, my savior and Lord … I know with the utmost confidence that I will one day cross the great divide from this life into the next. When that happens I will find myself in that glorious place called heaven. How about you?  Do you have this confidence? Or do you have questions about your eternal destination? Courage you to take a few moments and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. You will be glad you did!

2. This week I did a couple of really really stupid things! On  Monday, my wife and I stopped at Walmart. We needed to run in and pick up some miniature pumpkins and some google eyes for a project she was planning for our "little kids." When I got out the car I noticed that it made some sort of strange noise when I went to lock the door. I paused for a moment, and then turned toward the store. About 20 minutes later, shopping mission now accomplished, as I went to unlock the car, I found the door already unlocked. "That's odd!" I said to myself. So I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. When I went to start the car I discovered it was already running! That's right! I left the car running with doors unlocked the entire time we were in Walmart. Now a little background on this. We bought this car in late June. It has a push button ignition.  I'm not trying to make an excuse for my stupid move… But I guess I am still getting used to this new technology. That was stupid move number one. Stupid move number two occurred the very next day. I was walking back from a lunch our staff  enjoyed together in the café of the nearby supermarket. There were three of us walking abreast along the sidewalk. I was walking near the curb.  As I turned my head from the side to look straight ahead, I did so a split-second before I walked right into a metal rod that was holding a banner on the lamp post. You talk about seeing stars.  I saw a few! But after a couple of minutes I started feeling better and no significant damage was done (to me or the banner, my pride, however, took a huge hit!).  All of us from time to time pull stupid stunts like this. As I look back on these "duh moves," I am glad and thankful that no one hopped into our car and took off with it! I'm also grateful that I didn't knock myself out walking in to that metal rod! But when we do stupid things,  I find it a comfort to know that our God… Who is wise beyond measure . . . has his eye upon us (Matthew 10:29-31) and and his hand firmly gripping our lives (John 10:28-29)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

 It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me for a few random thoughts…

1.  Monday evening of this past week, my son, Tim, invited me over to his house to watch our favorite NFL team play (which is the Pittsburgh Steelers of course!).  Since our granddaughter, Ella, was attending art club at our church facility (which is only a couple of minutes from our home), I offered to pick her up and bring her with me to save my son a trip. When we arrived in the house my son informed Ella  that she needed to do some reading. The conversation went something like this:

T -  OK Ella, before you do anything else you need to do some reading.
E -  How long do I need to read? Ten minutes?
T - No, you need to read longer than that.
E - So  how long?
T - Well why don't we negotiate? How about 40 minutes?
E - Well (with a sigh) ... OK

With that Ella proceeded up the stairs to retrieve her book. After she went upstairs, I looked at my son and said, "I guess she needs to learn what the word negotiate means!" Negotiate. I wonder how often we do this with God. We try to negotiate with him when it comes to the demands he makes upon us. Yet when it comes down to it… Who are we to to negotiate with God?  I think we often forget that he is God and we are not. If you need reminded of this take some time and read the  Old Testament book of Job.  Job tried to negotiate with God. And when God finally showed up, any thoughts of negotiations were over! God reminded Job of this truth: "I am God and you are not."  If we pause to remind ourselves of this truth AND the truth that God's commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13), this should dampen any desire we have to negotiate with God. And that, my friends, is a good thing!

2. Here's a quick update on my health. Yesterday I went back for another post op follow-up appointment with my surgeon (surgery was four weeks ago). When I went two weeks ago for my first post op, the surgeon was concerned with a  hematoma which had formed.  I am very thankful to say that the hematoma has almost totally dissipated on its own (otherwise a surgical procedure would've been required to remove it).  I'm also grateful that the x-rays taken yesterday showed everything was looking good. I will continue with physical therapy twice a week. I will continue to wear the brace. And I will continue with the weight restriction of 4 to 5 pounds (lifting  with my left arm). Thanks for all of your ongoing prayers! Very much appreciated! To God be the glory!!!

Thanks for stopping by…
PJ

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday!  Hard to believe that another work week is almost in the books!  Go ahead and pour yourself a couple of your favorite java  and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1.  On Wednesday of this week I finally got my removable splint made for my arm and wrist. It was a rather fascinating process watching the therapist make the splint for me. But I must  admit I would've rather had the experience watching it made on YouTube! What really struck me most when she took off the cast that had been on my arm was just how much my arm had atrophied in the past three weeks. It is a shadow of its former self. She pointed out that once everything is healed with my wrist and arm I will have to work hard at strengthening the arm back to its pre-surgery state.  Now I was not surprised that my arm had atrophied.  That's what happens to muscles when they are not used. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. When we fail to exercise certain spiritual practices… We experience spiritual atrophy. So for example if you're not praying like you should,  when you do pray your prayers will tend to be weak and shallow.  The same is true for our interaction with God's word. If you're not exercising that spiritual practice you will experience atrophy. So the key to saying strong  in the so-called spiritual disciplines that will lead us to grow in our faith is to exercise them. So how are you doing? People spent a lot of time and a lot of money keeping their bodies in shape.  What are you doing to keep  your soul in shape?

2.  This summer is one that is insisting on sticking around.  We are currently standing at 38 days of 90° or above this summer (in a normal summer we would have 22 such days).  And with the forecast containing at least two more days with forecast highs of 90° we should have no problem hitting the
40 mark (which would tie for 7th place on the "Most 90 degree days" list)! This is been one hot long summer!  But it is September. That means with one turn at the calendar, it will be October. Summer will soon begin  to fade in the rear view mirror of life. That's the way life happens. Summers come  and summers go. And the older we get the faster that all occurs! The other day as I looked in the mirror it struck me that a 60-year-old man was staring back at me. Really? I'm now in my 60s? How did that happen? When did it happen? Well sooner or later it happens to all of us. As the Scripture reminds us we are like grass that flourishes in the morning but fades and withers by evening (Psalm 90:5-6).  Given this reality we all need to be praying Psalm 90:12. "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  And we need to be living out the Apostle's Paul's counsel in Ephesians 5:15-15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are passing quickly." So let's determine to make the most of our time ... living each day for Christ and Christ alone!

Thanks for stopping by,
PJ

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well, it's Friday again. So I invite you to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts. And since I am still in recovery mode and typing comes with some difficulty, I will begin with a quick update on my health followed with a post I wrote a while back.

1. On Wednesday I returned to see my surgeon for my postop  appointment (15 days following my surgery). For the most part he was pleased, although he is concerned about a hematoma which has formed. He is hoping it will dissipate on it's own. If it does not then he will have to care for it in the OR. Normally I would be seeing him in four weeks, but due to this I will be seeing him in two. I did get my cast off and the sutures out. I have a temporary splint on. Next Wednesday I see the hand therapist who will fit me for a splint I can put on and take off myself. Yea! Thanks for your own ongoing prayers!

2.                                You Can Run but You Can’t Hide!

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) might be the most watched show on television – but it is losing popularity among law enforcement personnel.  It seems that criminals are “wising up” on how to go about covering up their tracks after a crime.  And it appears that they are learning how to do so by watching the popular TV series.  Take for example the case of  Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney. This guy allegedly broke into a home and murdered two women.  He then carefully cleaned up the crime scene (using bleach which destroys DNA evidence) and disposed of the bodies and his bloody clothing.  He did make one mistake, though.  He attempted to get rid of some of the evidence by throwing it into a lake. However the lake was frozen and what he threw remained on top of the ice (apparently the ice was too thin to support his weight, so he was unable to retrieve the incriminating evidence).  Investigators later recovered the evidence and charged McKinney with two counts of murder (the word, “duh” comes to mind!). 

Now as I thought about this, a lot of life lessons come to mind.  But probably the most needful for me (and I think for you, too) comes out of the Old Testament book of Numbers where we read, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  You see, friend, you and I can do all we want to try to “cover up our sin.”  But the God who sees all – He will know.  So when you do sin, come clean with God.  Confess your sin to Him and receive from Him cleansing and forgiveness.  It is the far better route to go! (See 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32:1-2)

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday! So it's time to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts… But I hope prove profitable for you!

1. Today is National Dog Day.  So for all of the 43 million plus households in the US who own dogs, today is a day to celebrate your little or big canine friend (and in case you're wondering, more households have dogs and cats.)! Now my household is not among these 43 million plus households that own a dog. And after reading a USA today story on the cost of owning one, I am not sad that I don't.  Please don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like dogs. I grew up with a dog always as part of our family. But I'm at the point where my favorite dog is the dog I don't own. When I think of dogs (and cats) it just makes me wonder at the creativity of our Creator. So as you celebrate your your dog today, thank God for the gift God  has given to you to bring joy to your life!

2.   As I write these words it is now day #9 following my ulnar shortening osteotomy surgery*. The recovery has been a bit more difficult than I had  anticipated. I am scheduled for my post op appointment next Wednesday at 10 AM. Then I will have the wrapping removed, the cast removed and the stitches removed.  Sounds like a fun visit! 😳  Through this recovery I have been reminded of just how frail our health can be. At the same time I've been reminded that God is Jehovah-Rapha, the God Who Heals!  Yes we have surgeons to do surgery on us, and pharmacists who dispense medications to help us deal with pain and to heal… But it is ultimately God who does the healing. Given this reality I would ask all of you who are reading this to please pray for my recovery. And if I can pray for you in anyway, please don't hesitate to let me know and I will add you to my prayer list (Contact me directly at jsmith@gracewv.org).

I wish I could write more, but I am down to just one hand. So I'm actually using my voice activation feature on my iPad mini to type this blog post..

 Thanks for stopping by,

PJ

* What is ulnar shortening osteotomy surgery? The ulna bone, one of the two forearm bones, runs along the ulnar nerve in the elbow to wrist. The larger of the two bones, the radius, extending from the elbow to the wrist on the thumb side of the forearm. When damage occurs in the cartilage of the wrist joint holding radius and ulna bones together, the movements can cause pain. An ulnar shortening osteotomy removes part of the ulna bone and inserts a plate to hold the bone together. This surgical procedure can promote more movement and less pain on the ulnar side of the wrist.

The surgeon also repaired a torn ligament in my wrist and cleaned out the wrist joint. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

No new blog post this week as I am recovering from surgery ... so thought I would pull a post from the past. 

Hey You Geese!  Must You Do All That Honking? 

Yesterday morning, just before dawn, I woke up to the sounds of a flock of geese honking wildly as they flew over our house.  I heard more geese honking mid morning AND late afternoon as they flew over the church facility.  What is it with these geese?  As soon as they take flight, the honking begins.  I decided to do some research on the internet to see why they honk so much.  Most of the articles I read stated that geese honk to encourage one another in flight.  Now I am not opposed to geese encouraging each other, but I sure wish they could find some other way to do so – especially at the crack of dawn! 

But let’s look on the proverbial “bright side” of all this annoying honking (at least I find it annoying!). We can learn something from our feathered neighbors.  All of us are surrounded by people who need encouragement. They have slipped and fallen. They are bleeding.  They hurt.  They need a dose of encouragement as they attempt to go through their daily routine.  Yet all too often what we offer is criticism and quick advice. Let’s all purpose to give out encouragement today.  Here’s my challenge: Seek to give encouragement to at least three people today via a spoken word, a written note, or an act of kindness. Remember these words of Paul: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”  (1 Thessalonians 5:11; see also Hebrews 3:13).

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday already! Where is the week going? Not sure ... but am sure that I will be on my second cup of coffee before the clock strikes 7:00! Thanks for joining me for a few random (but I hope fruitful) thoughts!

1. If you read my blog of last week, you know that last Friday we were on the next to last day of our annual trek to the Delaware beach. What you may not know is that last Friday was actually our LAST day at Bethany Beach. While we were there ... just starting to have a good old time ... an unwelcome visitor paid a visit: "the stomach and points beyond bug." Of 16 of us in the house, 8 became sick throughout the week. When the final two (or so we thought at the time) succumbed in the early morning hours of Friday, we all decided to pack up and head for home a day early. I am so glad we did as I came down with the bug on Saturday evening and my wife on Sunday (victims #9 and #10). Needless to say ... this will be one beach vacation that we will always remember! As I reflected on our time, a line from the traditional marriage vow came to mind, "in sickness and in health." Our family lived this out in a very real way last week. And as my wife put it so well ... it gave us an opportunity to "family" one another. It was indeed a joy to see how my kids were helping each other out in the midst of the "plague!" But as I look forward to next summer ... I am hoping we can "family" one another in a different way! :)

2. A few years ago my wife, Sharon and I took a trip to visit Harper’s Ferry National Park (well worth the visit!). During our time there, we spent two nights in a nearby hotel.  When I registered for the room online, I entered my AAA membership number to obtain the 10% AAA discount offered by the hotel. In checking out, I noticed that the discount had not been applied. So I pointed this out to the front desk clerk. She re-ran the room charge and assured me that the discount had been applied. However, upon returning home, I got online to double check the rate I was charged. Guess what? I had not received the discount. So I decided to call the hotel. Sure, the dollar amount of the discount was not going to break the Smith family bank. But at this point it was more the principle of the matter that was getting to me. When I called, the same front desk clerk answered the phone. As I explained the reason for my call, she did remember me. So she went back to her computer and after checking assured me that the discount would be applied and my credit card would be charged the AAA discounted room rate. I thanked her for her help and hung up, still not totally assured that she was
right. The next day, I logged onto my credit card’s web site and saw the posting – which did not reflect the discount! So here is a question for you: when is a discount not a discount? When it is NOT applied to one’s account. As I thought of this – I thought of another transaction that gets applied to our account. It is the transaction that occurs the moment a person makes a faith commitment to Jesus Christ - trusting Him and Him alone for one's salvation from sin.  At that moment, that person’s sin is taken and applied to Christ’s account and Christ’s righteousness is taken and applied to that person’s account (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). We can rest easy about this transaction, for it is one we never have to worry about.  It is sealed with the blood of Jesus Himself! 

3. For those of you who have been following along with my wife's journey, you will be happy to know that a nuclear medicine bone scan (which she underwent right before our beach vacation) has revealed that her broken femur does appear to be healed. As the orthopedic surgeon said, "We are as sure as we can be that the bone has healed." That is good news (but since he said he is not 100% certain, he will continue to see her with her next visit in 6 weeks). This is good news! We have now gone from "it's my gut feeling that it is healed" to "we are as sure as we can be." That's progress! So Sharon is resuming her physical therapy with hopes of getting her leg straight (it is about 10 degrees short of straight) and getting more motion in her knee (currently no more than about an 80 degree bend). This also means that I can now proceed to have my surgery to correct my ulnar impaction syndrome.  My surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday (the 16th) at Orthopedic Associates's North Pointe Surgical Center. in Lancaster. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

And thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

I invite you to pour yourself a cup of coffee (and if you don't drink coffee, maybe you should start!) and join me for some abbreviated thoughts this morning.

1. Vacation. Merriam-Webster defines vacation as "a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel." Today's post is abbreviated because I did not get as much time to write this before I left for a week of vacation in Bethany Beach. Today is our final day of our annual trek as a family to this beautiful resort town along the Delaware coast. Perhaps next week I will share a story or two from our week (and I am sure I will have plenty to draw from as we spend the time with all of our kids and our eight grandkids - ages 16, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 8 months and 6 months. Hmmm. As I think about that ... perhaps you can take the word "relax" out of the definition of this vacation!  :)

2.  I just picked up our van from the body shop. A few weeks ago, I noticed from an upstairs window (that overlooked our driveway) that the paint was peeling off the roof of the van. In some spots it had begun to rust. So ... I thought I had better get the roof repainted before the rust began to spread. The last thing I wanted was a shower INSIDE the van! As I think about this ... I see a spiritual life lesson for all of us. We MUST, on a regular basis,  examine our walk with God. And we must do so by looking into the mirror of God's Word (James 1:22-25). In addition to God's Word ... you may want to ask for help from a trusted friend. All of us have blind spots (listen to my sermon on the life of King Jotham to hear some thoughts about blind spots and how devastating they can be). So it is extremely helpful that we give permission to others to speak truth into our lives when they see a blind spot (something that we either do not see or are choosing to ignore that we MUST address). Failure to do so will be a detriment to our walk with God and our impact upon the world in which we live.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means coffee and a couple of random thoughts that I hope will be of help to you as you strive to live your faith in Christ.

1. One thing I always find interesting about political conventions. They (both the Democrats and the Republicans) always only showcase "one side." Now it is obvious why they do it - they want to win in the general election. So we get it. But transferring this "looking-at-one-side" to the real world can really get us confused and out of sync. So we must be careful. We must especially be careful that we do not do this when looking at only "one side" of God. Often I hear people say something like, "I like to think of God as ...." Usually the word they fill in that blank with is something like "loving" or "gracious" or "good" or "faithful." And it is true. God is all of these and we need to be VERY thankful that he is! But isn't the God revealed in the Bible also "just" and "holy" and "wrathful?" Of course he is. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the CHURCH in Rome, urged them to "consider the kindness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22). And in the book of Hebrews we are told, in words written to Christians, that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29). It seems to me that today's Church in increasingly looking at God in a "one-sided" manner. Yes God is a God of incredible and amazing love! But he is also a God of terrifying holiness (do a study of those in the Bible who came face-to-face with God and be prepared for some face plants!). Only as we understand just how awesome God is in his holiness, justice, wrath, etc. .... will we truly understand and rejoice in his love, mercy and grace!

 2. Controversy. It is everywhere. No matter where you go, or where you turn, you will find controversy. Even the one event that perhaps brings the world together like no other is not immune to it. Of course I am talking about the Olympic Games. Just one week from today the Summer Games will have its opening ceremonies in Rio De Janeiro. And in our day of seeming endless controversy, the Olympics has its share (think Russian doping scandal and athletes housing issues ... just to name a few). And if you don't like controversy ... well you may want to plan three month excursion to the moon because more controversy is sure to be coming our way as the presidential election heats up. What saddens me about all of this is that the differences we all have in so many varied arenas of life cannot seem to be discussed in a civil and kind way. Instead of trying to understand one another we tend to attack those with whom we disagree. I could go on a lot longer about this ... but let me suggest one simple step all of us can take toward a way we can "defuse" heated conversations about controversial matters....let's just purpose to LISTEN to UNDERSTAND what the others are saying. That, my friend, will go a long way toward bringing back civil discourse in this country to where it needs to be. And to my fellow followers of Christ ... let's practice the admonition of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Colosse:

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:5-6).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ (inludes recent update on my wife, Sharon)

Friday morning (like EVERY morning for me) means COFFEE! So if you are reading this in the morning hours, please pour yourself a cup of java and join me for a few random thoughts (and if it's afternoon, iced coffee is great for these hot and humid days - especially if you drink decaff!).

1. Back in June in one of my three sermons on Isaiah chapter forty (one of the greatest portraits of our awesome God in all of the Bible), I quoted the following words of A.W. Tozer found in his classic book, The Root of the Righteous:

“Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of the lack of spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession do so many persons find themselves no further along than when they first believed?”

“The causes of this lack of growth are many. It would not be accurate to scribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal but it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God. The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.”

I believe Tozer is spot on with his thoughts. True when he wrote them over  half a century ago. Just as true (if not more so) today! How well do you know God? What are you doing to get to know him better? Vital questions to ask yourself today! 

2.  We live in such an "instant" society. When we want something, we want it NOW! Ordering online shows just how true this is. Consider with me Amazon, one of the largest online retailers in the world. For several years, Amazon has offered Prime members free two-day shipping. So if you order on a Monday ... you are guaranteed delivery on Wednesday. However, when Amazon first offered this service, if you ordered on a Friday, you would receive your shipment on Monday. But that has changed. Now you will receive your goods on Sunday! And since that is still not good enough for many, Amazon has been offering same day delivery (Prime Now) in over two dozen larger urban markets around the country. This desire for instantaneity has sadly infiltrated into our spiritual lives. Therefore we expect spiritual growth to come quickly and with little effort. And when this is not the case, we grow discouraged and do little more than "tread water." The New Testament over and over again tells us that we must "make every effort" (2 Peter 1:5-11) and "train" ourselves for godliness (1 Timoth 4:7). So ... what are you dong to "train" yourself to be godly? You might very well be thinking to yourself ... "Right, John! Like I have any spare time to train for godliness! I am running from the time I crawl out of bed ... get the kids up ... feed them breakfast ... get ready for work ... drop them off at the babysitter's ... and put in a full day at the office .. and then go through an evening routine that is just as hectic as the morning. Where am I going to find the time to do anything else?Isn't going to church a couple of Sundays each month enough?" If I just described your thoughts (and I am guessing I am for many of you), let me suggest a short and a very readable book that just might go a long way in changing your life: Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed.  If you order it and read it, you will not be disappointed! 

3. Last Saturday our men's ministries sponsored a night out to the local minor league baseball park to see the hometown Lancaster Barnstarmers play. I took along with me a dear friend, Paul Klawitter, whom I unfortunately don't get a lot of face time with (we see each other probably every-other-year). You see he lives in Dijon, France which is a bit of a "hike" from Lancaster, PA. I first met Paul,who
now serves Encompass World Partners as Sr. Director of International Church Planting, back in 1984. At the time he was an elder at Bon Meade Grace Brethren Church in Coraopolis, PA (near Pittsburgh) and I was a young pastor looking for a new church ministry. We connected over the phone and immediately hit it off. Within two months of that initial phone conversation, I was moving my young family from Philadephia to Pittsburgh for the next chapter of my pastoral ministry career. Even though I served alongside of Paul for a brief six months (he and his wife moved to the Philadelphia area to begin seminary at my alma mater, Biblical Theological Seminary in preparation for their deployment to France), we have kept in touch over the years. Because of our friendship, I believe I am a better man, a better pastor, a better husband and dad. In our Facebook world of shallow relationships, it is so refreshing and necessary to have friends like Paul. I thank God I have a few of these! 

4. Finally a quick update on my wife: We saw Sharon's orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday of this week. After discussing with Sharon her progress in the last 6 weeks, checking out her knee and closely examining the x-rays, he told us that he has "a gut feeling" that Sharon's broken femur is healed. But since the x-rays are still not conclusive, he ordered a nuclear medicine bone scan for Sharon for next Thursday, July 28th. We will then go back to see him on August 10th for the results. Hopefully it will confirm what he suspects but cannot completely confirm via the x-rays and clinical evidence alone. Thanks for your prayers. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj
 

Are You Preparing for Eternity?

Our journey on earth is but a breath ... a heart beat when compared to the expanse of Eternity. We all must remember that how we live live in the here and now will impact our experience in the then and there.

PJ's Spiritual Meanderings

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.