Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday has once again rolled around (amazing how quickly this happens!). So please pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me for a couple of random thoughts. 

One of my ministry tasks at my church finds my wife and I leading a Life Group. Our group consists of 13 adults, most of whom are in my age group. Some are a tad older, some the same age, and a some a few years younger. Let's just say all of us have been sent AARP membership applications in the mail! Given where we are in life, I suggested to my wife that we lead our group through a book just published in 2017 and already gone through a reprint in 2018. The book is titled, A Good Old Age. The author is Derek Prime, author of numerous books and a retired Scottish pastor. I was first introduced to Prime's book this past May at Alistair Begg's Basics Conference for Pastors. During the sessions, Alistair highlighted only three or four books. A Good Old Age was the first. On my next stop in the conference bookstore, I picked up a copy of the book and read the intro and first chapter (very readable ... in style, brevity, and large print!). I then proceeded to the checkout line with two copies in hand. 

In the book, the author begins with the letter A and then proceeds to work his way through the alphabet (same here in the United States as it is in Scotland, by the way!). The twenty-six principles are spot on. Concerning them (and the book as a whole), Alistair Begg writes the following in his foreword: 

"My only concern in reading this material is that it will be housed in the wrong section of the library – geriatric studies. It needs to be read long before we find ourselves in the senior citizens seats on the train. We want to be like those who were 'still living by faith when they died' (Hebrews 11:13). In other words, those people of faith were still doing in the closing chapter what they had been doing throughout the course of their lives.  They had not adopted a new pattern at the end, driven by guilt or fear; instead, seeing the finishing line in view, they had picked up the pace. Surely it is a life of humble dependency and steady consistency that paves the way to a good old age." 

If you are in my age bracket (or close), then I would highly recommend you order yourself a copy of Prime's book. And if you are still young and robust, you would also benefit from his wisdom - for both living out your life AND to minister better to those you love who are closing in on the finish line! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ


Friday is here! You know the routine. Coffee (I prefer mine bold and black). And just a few minutes of your time for a few random thoughts to help you, I trust, in your spiritual pilgrimage through this life. 

A number of years ago, the local Lancaster newspaper reported on an incident which occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility located near Harrisburg. The story told of a security guard who was so absorbed in playing his hand-held video game that he failed to notice an inspector approaching on a surprise inspection!  (I’m glad it was an inspector approaching and not a would-be terrorist!)  As if that weren’t sad enough – the article went on to cite the state Department of Environmental Protection’s read on the incident.  According to the department, the employee broke no work rules for guards are encouraged to engage in mind-stimulating activities!  OK.  Does this make sense to you?  Or is it just me having a grumpy morning? 

The New Testament in a number of different places tells us that we must always be on the alert – watching for the return of Jesus Christ (Mark 13:33); being alert in prayer (Ephesians 6:18); staying alert lest we fall asleep amidst the darkness of this age (1 Thessalonians 5:6); keeping alert for the advances against us of our Enemy (1 Peter 5:8).  Let’s purpose in our hearts that we will not be like this guard at TMI who got so absorbed in his video game that he was caught off guard.  Don’t allow the distractions of this world to diminish your readiness. Life is too short and the opportunities around us too great to fail in this area.  Jesus urges us, “Be on guard!  Be alert!” (Mark 13:33).  That’s good advice.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday yet again! So pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and reflect on some random thoughts which I hope will help you in your journey with Jesus Christ! 


Today is the final day of meteorological summer (June, July, August). And what a summer it has been here in Lancaster County! We perspired through a record heat wave in late June into early July which saw the mercury rise to an average high of 95.3 on six consecutive days! That's quite the heat (not to mention it piled up a lot of extra clothes needing washed)! In addition, the month of July was the wettest on record (we picked up 9 inches of rain in our rain gauge in a five day span!). Overall, the summer has been the second wettest on record, which in turn has led to a record number of times I have had to mow my lawn! And even though meteorological fall begins tomorrow, summer is not showing any signs of going away as the extended weather forecast for next week is showing several days with highs near 90 degrees! This is fine by me, for I will take 90 degrees over 20 degrees any day of the week and twice on Sunday! 

All this said, we know that real autumn weather is coming, followed by the season that features that white stuff (just can't bring myself to write the "s" word!). How do we know this? From our experience. We live in an area of the world that consists of four seasons. Winter, spring, summer, fall. Always in that order. Always the same months of the calendar. Farmers know when to plant, water, cultivate, and harvest. Road crews know when they can pave a new road, and when it's time to put their paving operations on hold. Retailers know when it's time to replace fall clothing with winter attire (although sometimes I think they get ahead of the game here!). 

Now we can explain this consistency of the changing seasons in a totally naturalistic way ... that seasons change in certain parts of the world due to the tilt of the earth. But for me, I see a greater hand guiding the earth's movement. In Genesis 8:22 we have the promise that as long as the earth endures, the seasons will come and go (Genesis 8:22). Hebrews 1:3 informs us that the Son himself sustains all things (which would include the earth's movement which leads to the seasons). Seasons come, seasons go. This is an evidence of God's faithful oversight of his creation, the work of HIS hand! 

So today, as you prepare yourself to say goodbye to the lazy, hazy days of summer and welcome the soon to come crispness of an autumn evening, stop what you are doing. Lift your eyes toward heaven. Thank our Father above for his faithful care of this world ... and of you! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

Good morning one and all! It's time to pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts. 

Not sure if you saw this in the news ... but here is something that will wow you (it surely did me!). This past July at the Cube National Championship, Max Park, was crowned the national champion. Moving his hands at the speed of light, he solved the puzzle in a stunning 7.26 seconds! Wow! I think the last time I had my hands on a Rubick’s Cube, I took a sledge hammer to it after failing to solve the thing after 3 ½ months of trying (that’s a slight exaggeration – but not by much)! What Max Park accomplished is truly amazing!  

But even more amazing is what God did for us. When we were hopelessly lost in our sin and stubbornly defiant in our rebellion against Him, God showed us just how much he loved us. He did so by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us (Romans 5:8). Nothing required God to do this. He just did. All because He loves us – unconditionally and sacrificially. Take a moment and rejoice in God’s love for you.  And if you have never reached out to God with the empty hands of faith, consider doing so now! The eternal welfare of your soul is at stake (see Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face). 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Friday Coffee with PJ (Special Vacation Edition)

One of the people I follow on twitter is Church Curmudgeon (@ChurchCurmudgeon). His tweets often make me lol! Here is a recent tweet on coffee: 


The birds cannot sing
The sun doesn't rise
If I don't have coffee
To open my eyes

I can surely relate! If you can, then grab yourself a cup of your favorite coffee and join me for a special vacation edition of Friday Coffee with PJ. 

This past Saturday, my wife and I returned from a week at the beach with our kids and their families. A vacation we all enjoy (most of the time!). We love riding the waves, watching the g-kids play in the sand, walking the board walk, playing games at the house, swimming in the community pool, and, of course, eating orange and vanilla twist Korh's ice cream (due to my low sodium diet I will have to say "no" to the boardwalk fries - although I did beg a couple from my daughter)! 

There's something to be said for spending quality and quantity time with family. That's why I love this week (not always the most relaxing vacation ... but certainly a boat load of fun!). We always return home a bit more tightly bonded to one another. And that is a good thing!

What is true of our biological families, is also true of our spiritual families. The hymn writer got it right when he wrote these words in 1782:
Blest be the tie that binds, 
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.

The tie that binds us together is the gospel of Jesus Christ! And when we come together around Jesus, we can enjoy a taste of heaven here on earth! So if you are a follower of Jesus, make attending your church's weekend service a priority. You not only cheat yourself. You shortchange others when you stay away! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Friday Coffee with PJ

My cousin, who is a writer, posted the following on his Facebook page the other day: "PROCAFFEINATING (v.) The tendency to not start anything until you've had a cup of coffee." That caught my attention because that sums up the start of my day. I need that initial shot of caffeine to get the fog chased out of my mind (maybe that is why my favorite coffee is San Fransisco Bay's Fog Chaser). So if you are reading this and you feel that need for a cup of coffee, please brew yourself a cup (or a pot), clear the mind fog, and join me for some random meanderings which, I hope, will help you in your spiritual journey with Jesus Christ. 

It does not take the brain of a rocket scientist to know there is something wrong with the world in which we live. Just this past weekend, for example, sixty-six people in Chicago were shot. Twelve died of their wounds. Mass shootings are becoming so routine, we are no longer shocked to hear of one. Sexual abuse and harassment involving high profile individuals (think Matt Lauer of the Today Show or those involved in the sexual abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church and the world of women's gymnastics). I could go on and on. But I won't. You know what I am talking about. 

So what is the cause of all of this? Many believe it's due to bad parenting, bad schools, bad economic situations, etc. But is it really? The Bible identifies the problem as a bad heart. From a biblical perspective, all of us are born with a heart that is beyond repair. And it does not take very long for the true nature of our heart to reveal itself (do you have to teach a toddler to say "NO!" or "MINE!")? So what is the answer to the evil in our world? Bottom line, we all are in need of a heart transplant. The Bible speaks of this in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel: 


I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" 
(Ezekiel 36:26).

Now when does God do this? This spiritual surgery takes place when a person admits before God their need of a new heart. That not only are they sick inside ... they are in fact DEAD (Ephesians 2:1). Therefore they need what only God can give them. A new (living) heart. God in his grace offers this gift of a new heart and its accompanying new life. This is something that only he can offer. If you are tracking with me and you want to know more about how you can undergo this necessary divine surgery, I encourage you to take a few moments to check out: Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.  It may be the most important moments of your life! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj



Friday Coffee with PJ

Given that I am posting this on a Friday morning, I invite you to pour yourself a cup of that black gold known as coffee. And if you are reading this post and it is after noon time, then you may want to consider what President Ronald Reagan once said, "I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon." So drink up in the AM, and as you do, here are a couple of random thoughts for you to ponder. 

On Monday of this week, I saw a nephrologist. When I got the word that my left kidney had lost its function (late May), I was referred to this kidney specialist. As my family physician put it, "we want to make sure we keep your right kidney healthy!” As a result of my time with the nephrologist, I now have some adjustments to make. One of which is diet related. For starters, I will say I am glad coffee is not on the "no-no" list ... that is, as long as I drink it in moderation (so I figure two to three cups of day will suffice!). But the big diet challenge will be to cut down on sodium. Why is this a challenge? Well, sodium is everywhere! One of the nephrologist's patients told him that "salt is what turns a cook into a chef!" So, when Sharon and I stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat dinner last evening, I downloaded their nutrition guide to my phone. It did not take long before I realized that I would have to eliminate at least 80% of their menu if I was going to stay within the sodium guidelines laid down by my doctor! But I managed to order what turned out to be a very good meal and kept the sodium to a very reasonable amount! 

Due to this new low sodium diet, my wife and I have found ourselves reading the labels on our foodstuffs. We are also researching the Internet for low sodium foods. In doing this research I discovered that one of the best vegetables to eat for kidney health is asparagus. Ugh. Now that might be going just a bit TOO far! 

Speaking of diets, let me morph to talking about a healthy diet for the soul (and if you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably know where I am heading with this). If you want to grow spiritually, then you need to feed your soul the Word of God. Not just on Sundays but everyday! Really, how often do you feed your body? Just once a week? I hardly think so. 

But maybe you struggle with daily Bible reading, Yep, if you want to get serious with eating well for your soul's health - as I am for my kidney's health - then you need to be reading and meditating on your Bible every day (Psalm 1:1-5). Perhaps you don't do so because you don't know how. If this is you, I have a suggestion. Recently, I ordered from the Good Book Company a subscription for their quarterly devotional, Explore: For Your Daily Walk with God.   I have been using it for the past 2 weeks and I am VERY impressed with it! I have gone through the book of Jude and am now going through the book of James. The comments on the Scripture are insightful and very pertinent to where we all do life! The cost is $29.99 for an annual subscription - and, in my opinion, worth every penny (don't you wish you could feed your body a healthy diet for under 9 cents a day?).  

So whether you were to use this devotional guide or another to help you establish a healthy routine of daily Bible intake matters little.  What is of utmost importance is that you just do it! The health of your soul depends upon it!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 


Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday has once again rolled around (amazing how quickly this happens!). So please pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me f...