The Love of Christ

In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul expresses his prayer for the Ephesian believers when he asks God that they might "have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 

Noted New Testament Scholar, D. A. Carson, in his excellent book, Praying with Paul, writes the following about our need for God's enablement to help us understand and get a grip on the love of Christ for us. 

"It takes nothing less than the power of God to enable us to grasp the love of Christ. Part of our deep “me-ism” is manifested in such independence that we do not really want to get so close to God that we feel dependent on him, swamped by his love. Just as in a marriage a spouse may flee relationships that are too intimate, judging them to be a kind of invasion of privacy when in reality
such a reaction is a sign of intense immaturity and selfishness, so also in the spiritual arena: when we are drawn a little closer to the living God, many of us want to back off and stake out our own turf. We want to experience power so that we can be in control; Paul prays for power so that we will be controlled by God himself. Our deep and pathetic self-centeredness is precisely why it takes the power of God to transform us, if we are to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and grow to the maturity the Scriptures hold out before us."

Our Father in heaven, strengthen us in our inner being so that we may be able to understand just how much you love us in Christ! Amen. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well, what I thought was a cold last week, was/is a sinus infection. I finally gave in and went to see my doctor. I am now on antibiotics and trying to rest up some. So in place of my regular posting, I offer up the following prayer of Benedict who lived between 480-847 AD. Make his words your words and you will be blessed! 

Gracious and holy father, 
please give me: 
an intellect to understand you; 
reason to discern you; 
diligence to seek you; 
wisdom to find you; 
A spirit to know you; 
A heart to meditate upon you; 
ears to hear you; 
eyes to see you; 
a tongue to proclaim you; 
a way of life pleasing to you; 
patience to wait for you; 
and perseverance to look for you. 

Thanks for stopping by, 

Friday Coffee with PJ

As I write these words, I just finished a cup of tea. "What?" you might be thinking, "Tea over coffee? Are you sick?" Well, sort of. I feel a cold coming on and when I feel a bit under the weather, I prefer tea over coffee. Not sure why ... but I do. So today feel free to pour yourself a cup of tea and join me for a couple of random thoughts which I hope will help you in your spiritual journey with Christ. 

One concern (among others) that I have when I consider the walk of many Christians is just how ungracious some are. I see Christ followers who easily get bent out of shape when someone offends them or if something is not done in the way they think it should be done. They carry grudges, allow a critical spirit to grow within them, and are down right negative about the circumstances they endure and the people they encounter. 

If you are reading this and you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, I urge you to examine your own heart. Are you harboring resentment, jealousy, bitterness toward someone (Ephesians 4:31)? Have you been critical of a brother or sister in Christ (James 4:11)? Do you gripe and complain about this, that, and the other thing (Philippians 2:14-16)

My friends, God has graced us. He has withheld from us what we truly deserve to receive from his hand (i.e. judgement) and instead opened his hand and showered us with a multitude of blessings - NONE of which we deserve in any sense of the word! 

So if God has graced us in this way ... who are we NOT to grace others around us? If we as Christians have truly experienced God's grace in our lives, we should be the most gracious people in the world (Matthew 18:21-35)! 

So, take a look in the mirror. Do some soul searching. Then come to Christ and repent and confess and find the joy and peace that only he can give ... and then give that joy and peace to others! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Here we are ... the first Friday of a new year! And as I write this post - and I admit to a late start as I usually write this on Thursday but due to the short week did not get to it until this morning - I am already on my 3rd cup of coffee. So pour yourself a cup and join me for a couple of random thoughts which I hope will help you in your journey of faith. 

Last night as I led our Life Group, I asked each one to share something from 2018 which showed God at work in their lives. Since I had already been thinking about this, I offered up first. 

When I had spent time thinking about what I would say earlier in the day, it hit me pretty quickly as to what I would be sharing. For some of you who read my blogs on a regular or semi-regular basis, you will know that I have been battling a kidney related issue for the past couple of years. After several surgical procedures and a number of tests in the first months of 2018, I received a phone call from my urologist in early June. He informed me that the one kidney which had been the object of the surgeries and tests was no longer functioning. He could not explain why that was the case. In his words, "numbers don't lie and the numbers from your recent renal scan shows that the kidney is no longer functioning." 

As I allowed his words to rattle around in my head, I recall feeling an incredible sense of peace. Yes, I was disappointed in his report. But I was not freaking out. As I reflect on my response, I give the credit to God's Spirit giving me a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). As a result of walking through the difficult situations my wife and I have been health-wise across the past few years, God has taught me again and again that I can trust him. And so, at the moment I received my urologist's call, I chose to continue to trust him. 

I can tell you that I have moved on and not looked back. I have not tried to second guess the path the urologist took in treating me. Nor have I questioned God as to why he allowed this to happen. Instead, each day I choose to trust him. After all, he is God and I am not! 

Due to my kidney issue, I have faced some life style changes. But I am OK with that (although I sure do miss a good old Reuben sandwich covered with sauerkraut!). God is sovereign. He has a plan for our world, for you, for me. And as he works his plan, I continue to ask him for the grace to trust him! I pray the same for you! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ (Special New Year's Edition)

One of my New Year resolutions is to continue to enjoy my Friday cup(s) of coffee. Another is to enjoy coffee on the other six days of the week! Given all the benefits of drinking coffee, why stop?! This morning for this last day of 2018, a bit of poetry for you. Enjoy! 

Tis the morn of 12/31
The last day of the year, 
And I’m thanking my God
That I’m well and still here!

 For this year that’s now passing  
Was a rough one for sure, 
With hurricanes and floods, 
gun violence and wars. 

But in the midst of it all 
God is still on His throne,
No matter what lies ahead, 
We won’t have to groan! 

 Instead we look to the sky
As we wait for the Son,  
Following His plan to
Finish the work He's begun!

A Blessed New Year to You and Yours! 

Thanks for stopping by . . ,

Coffee with PJ - Christmas Eve Edition

As I sit here drinking my coffee this Christmas Eve morning (hmm ... is this my third or fourth cup?), I want to give you, my readers, some insightful words that will help enrich your Christmas celebration. These words come from the excellent book, Knowing God, written in 1973 by J.I. Packer (this evening I am sharing The Watchman's Tale about a night watchman in the town of Bethlehem - it was while a night watchman as a college student that I first read Packer's book!). I hope Packer's words encourage you in your worship of the Christ child this Christmas season. 

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

"We see now what it meant for the Son of God to . . . become poor. It meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice and misunderstanding; finally, a death that involved such agony—spiritual even more than physical—that his mind nearly broke under the prospect of it. (See Luke 12:50 and the Gethsemane story.) It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely human beings, that they through his poverty might become rich. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.

Rejoice in this indescribable gift of God! And repent of your sin and believe the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ! 

Merry Christmas! 


Friday Coffee with PJ

Once again this week, I was reminded of the wonderful benefits that come from drinking the brew made from coffee beans. If you doubt my opening statement, take a moment and check out 75 Amazing Benefits of Coffee ... then pour (or buy) yourself a cup and begin your journey toward better health! 

With Christmas just five days away (if you count today), I thought I would focus some thoughts on the Christmas holiday. Recently, I saw a commercial featuring a local television station's news team (anchors and reporters) expressing holiday wishes to their viewers. Only one (of over a dozen) used the expression "Merry Christmas!" For the rest, "Happy Holidays!" was the greeting of choice. 

What should we take from this? Are these people anti-Christmas? Or did they just want to include the entire holiday season (Christmas and New Years) in their holiday greetings? Since I have not asked them, I would be hard pressed to know for sure. But I do know this: the Christmas season is losing its religious content as  it is becoming increasingly secular in nature. 

A U.S. District Court Judge, Susan Dlott delivered our culture's verdict on Christmas when she stated the following about Christmas in one of her rulings: "The celebration of Christmas as a national holiday cannot be viewed by any reasonable person as an endorsement of religion. The holiday itself is so imbued with secular connotations that, indeed, its religious origins are lost on many." 

So what does this mean for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ? Understanding this should compel us to redouble our efforts not to allow our culture's view of Christmas to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas. This is best summed up by what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). God the Son, willingly stepped from the brilliant glory of the throne room of heaven into the dark recesses of the womb of a virgin named Mary. This began his journey to the cross upon which he would die a violent death to pay the penalty for our sin rightly demanded by a just and holy God. In taking our place, he faced the wrath of the justice of God so that we would never have to! So the true meaning of Christmas begins with a birth and "ends" with a death. For Jesus was born to die! But his journey did not end with his death. For the true meaning of the Easter holiday reminds us that death could not keep Jesus in its cold and icy grip. Today he lives and we who celebrate his birth this Christmas do so knowing that we worship and serve a living savior! 

My friends, if you have any questions about the true meaning of Christmas and how you should respond, I encourage you to view this video by 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

The Love of Christ

In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul expresses his prayer for the Ephesian believers when he asks God that they might " have strength to  compreh...