PJ

PJ

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, July 15, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! It's coffee day! (well, EVERYDAY is coffee day for me!) .... but today I hope to share some thoughts with you over a cup of coffee (or maybe in the midst of this heat and humidity you might want to drink your coffee on ice ... or even go for some iced tea - not quite the caffeine kick but still better than nothing!).

1. Facing a presidential election with the two most unpopular candidates in the history of presidential politics ... many of us are at a quandary as to how to vote. My son-in-law sent me an open letter written by Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. According to my son-in-law it was "exceptionally well written." I agree! I think you would find it helpful. You can find it here. 

2. On Wednesday of this week, a portion of Lancaster County experienced significant flooding. The area involved was primarily East Lampeter Township and a small portion of West Lampeter Township. Both of these municipalities are located just east of the city of Lancaster. I live in Willow Street, just south of the city. Whereas the flooded areas (aproximately 4 miles or so north east of my location) received upwards of 7 -8 inches of rain (in just a few hours) ... my rain gauge measured a mere 1 1/2 inches. A friend who lives just a few miles southwest of me told me that he had barely enough rain to water his lawn! Another friend who lives just a few miles further from me said they saw no rain at
all!  Wow! From flooding basements and stranded cars to just some cloudy skies ... all within just a few miles! Amazing but not all that surprising. That is the nature of summer Thunderstorms. They can develop in one area and totally miss nearby areas. And what happened one Wednesday is the weather effect known as "training." This occurs when storms develop and slowly move over the same area over an extended period of time. This is what results in the high rainfall amounts. This reminds me of life. All of us go through storms. I may be going through one ... and you may not. Storms have a way of developing ... dropping their pain and hardship ... and then moving on. At times, the storms of life do "train" where they come one right after another. And this makes life tough! Now ... I don't know where you are in your life journey. Maybe the sun is shining and has been shining for quite some time. Or perhaps you are in the midst of a flooding "storm." But whatever the case, we must always keep in mind that our God is sovereign over the circumstances of our lives. So if the sun is shining and "all is well" in your life --- then you need to THANK God for this blessing!  But it you are struggling through hardship --- then you need to TRUST God through it, knowing that his eye is upon you and he has you firmly in his grip!

3. Finally ... today I must officiate a memorial service for an individual who many would say died before his time. His death is just another reminder of how fragile life is. Every single one of us will one day follow in this man's footsteps. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that "It is appointed unto to man to die once, and after that comes judgment." All of us will die. But there is an "after that" (death). And what comes after death is judgment. My friends are you ready for that judgment? It is coming as certain as death will one day come calling for you. If you are not sure you are ready ... I urge you to take a few moments to check out two ways to live: the choice we all face. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's good to be back with you all after a week of vacation. My wife and I traveled to up state Pennsylvania where we enjoyed a few days of total relaxation. But for now ... pour yourself a cup of coffee (go ahead Gary, you might actually enjoy it!) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. One of our vacation stops was the quaint little town of Punxsutawney. Even though most of you have probably never set foot in this small town (last week was our first visit), you have doubtless heard of it and actually seen a portion of it on television and internet reports come every February 2nd (by the way, the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, was NOT filmed in Punxsy ... it was filmed in Woodstock, IL). Punxsutawney is the home of the most famous groundhog in the world (sorry Octorara Orphie!). Every Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil predicts whether or not we will have an early spring. If he sees his shadow and returns to his burrow, we will have 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, an early spring is just around the corner. According to a display located at Gobblers Knob, approximately 30,000 people descend upon Punxsatawney every February 2nd (my wife and I were trying to figure out where
they parked all the cars!). All to see some furry, chubby creature prognosticate the weather! I think it's sad that a groundhog can draw such a crowd ... but in many churches across America where the main attaction is God ... all too often people find a whole lot of excuses not to attend worship services. How about YOU? Do you make involvement in a church family a priority of your weekly schedule? If you don't, other things will quickly take its place and before you know it, you will be doing other things on Sundays. And that, my friend, will be to the detriment of your faith. 

2. Do you ever think about how our society is so interested in quick fixes.  If we have a problem (headache, need to lose weight, depressed, etc.) there must be a pill that we can take to solve our problem (now I realize there are times that popping a pill does help).  However, often the solution to a problem is far more involved than just a prescription.  Hard work, lifestyle adjustments, discipline – these are often what’s needed to overcome whatever it might be that continues to nag us. Take personal finances for example. All too often we are spending money we don't have to impress people we don' like. And because we want to keep up with everyone else around us when it comes to having the latest technology or a bigger house, we end up piling up our personal debt. And when the pile gets deep, we look for some sort of easy fix to get out of the mess we have made.  My friend, we could wish life’s problems could all have easy fixes. But they don't.  And when it comes to growing in our faith, Paul tells us to “discipline ourselves for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:12).  We need to stop looking for the quick fix.  Instead, let’s roll up our spiritual sleeves and get to work – striving to grasp spiritual maturity in Christ.  All by HIS grace and for HIS glory!

MID MORNING UPDATE: One blogger that I follow is Dr. Jim Denison. He writes on truth and culture from a biblical perspective. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you should be familiar with his name and his writings. Jim lives in Dallas where, last night, law enforcement was hit hard (greatest loss of life in a single event since 9-11). As of this moment, five officers are dead. When I heard the news late last night, I was so troubled with this ... another act of violence following so many other acts of violence across the past couple of months ... that I found it difficult to sleep. I found encouragement in Jim's cultural commentary today. I encourage you to read it! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Weekend Edition

Hah! What a week! So busy had no time to post a Friday blog! And what was I doing that filled my schedule to overflowing? It was Vacation Bible School week at our church! And what a week it was! We had over 200 kids .... 80 volunteers ... raised over $3200 for our partner ministry, Children's Fellowship of India! So ... if you want to check out what happened, you can head over to the church's facebook page for pictures. And if you want to read why we do a VBS ... you can head to the church's website and read my post there.

OH ... and by the way ... I NEED A VACATION! So I am taking one next week. So I will see you back here on Friday, July 8th ... God willing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! For many of you it means the final day of your work week. For me it means I am just two days away from Sunday. Ughh ... and so much to do. SOOO ... grabbing a cup of coffee on Friday mornings is something that I find gives me my initial push for the day! Why not join me with a cup as I share a few random thoughts with you about what is going on in our very crazy world!

1. The news of late has been BAD ... horrifically so. And Orlando Florida has been at the center of most of it! Last Friday evening, a former finalist on NBC's hit show The Voice, Christina Grimmie (who claimed to be a Christian), was gunned down signing autographs after a performance. Then just a bit over 24 hours later, a crazed gunman, declaring allegiance to ISIS opened fire in a crowded gay nightclub, killing close to 50 people and wounding several dozen more. Finally on Tuesday, at a Disney owned resort, a two year old toddler was dragged away by a large alligator. The next day the toddler's body was found. These are dark days . And to think all of this horror struck in Orlando, home of the "happiest place on earth!" All of this illustrates a painful and sad reality: this world in which we live is a world that is ... like a vending machine that does not deliver the candy once you put your money in ... "out of order." And the only One who can possibly put it back in order is the One who created it in the first place. And please don't blame God for all of this evil and darkness around us. This is our doing, not his! Our first parents chose to walk away from God and his plan and to live their way. All of us who have been born into this world since, have this same defiant heart. We are born rebels! But in the midst of this darkness, pain and grief, there is GOOD NEWS. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, God so loved this world (and us rebels in it!) that he sent his one and only Son into our world. That's right! God the Son became one of us, lived among us and then died for us on the cross! So that anyone and everyone who places his or her faith alone in Christ alone can have the hope of a newer and better life ... beginning here and now but finding its absolute fulfillment in the eternal home that awaits all of God's people. All of us have a choice to make. I hope, my friend, you make the right one!

2. I am still basking in the Stanley Cup championship won by my former city's NHL franchise Pittsburgh Penguins (in case you missed it, they hoisted the cup in victory this past Sunday evening). The other day, someone accused me of "just saying" I was a Penguins' fan because they never heard me talk about the Pens or hockey in general. Well ... that might be true. I don't talk a whole lot about sports (especially compared to a lot of guys). But that does not mean that I don't follow certain teams. So .... to prove that I was not merely jumping on the bandwagon of a championship team, I produced a photo of my wife and me which was taken a few weeks ago. In it I am clearly wearing a Penguins hat. So the evidence clearly testified of my allegiance to the Pens. But how about our allegiance to Christ? What evidence can you (and I) point to that will testify of our commitment to Jesus? That's a question all of us should spend some time answering. We will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for joining me for our Friday cup of coffee together. I hope you glean something of worth from today's meanderings! 

1. I am currently in the midst of teaching a course on the Pentateuch (Creation and Covenants) in the accelerated undergraduate degree program at Lancaster Bible College. This past week, we found ourselves at the foot of Mt. Sinai as Moses delivered the ten commandments to the people of Israel. Often, Christians look at these ten commandments wrongly .... as either ten suggestions or ten restrictions. But they are anything but! Pastor David Murray tries his hand at re-framing the ten commandments from ten vices to avoid to ten virtues to pursue. I think you will find his insightful (and brief) article refreshing. I did! 


2. One thing I have observed as our kids are now raising their own kids is the way that they have stressed the importance of people. It looks something like this: child is playing with a toy (or on an iPad) and I walk into the house. I say hi ... my grandchild continues to play, oblivious to my presence. Parent walks over to child and stops their play. "Papa is here and he said hello. You need to respond. Go and give him a hug. Remember, people are more important than that toy (or game!)" Yes. I like that! And people are more important than toys, or games, or sporting events, or ... yes ... even animals! Don't get me wrong. I do love animals (Although my wife and I don't currently have any pets in our house, it is not due to a disdain for animals but more an issue of lifestyle. We travel a good bit (at least we did prior to my wife's current health journey ... see update below). Arranging care for pets while we are gone is not something we want to have to do!). Recently in the news there has been uproars on social media because zoo animals have been killed when zoo officials have determined that a human life was in danger (the most recent occurred in Cincinnati where a gorilla was killed after a young child had slipped into its exhibit). Many people criticized the killing of these animals. Listen, people are more important than animals. In the Christian Judaeo worldview, only human beings are image bearers of the Creator. Yes, animals need to be treated humanely. But when it comes down to saving the life of an animal or saving the life of a human ... one must go with the latter every time. I would only wish that the killing of unborn children would receive as much attention as the killing of the Cincinnati gorilla did! 


3. One of my favorite (and needful) verses in the Bible is Proverbs 10:19. In the verse, God warns us about our tongue (as he also does in the third chapter of the New Testament letter of James). Why is it that we so often run into problems with our mouth? One big reason is that far too many of us start

wagging our tongues while our brain is still in neutral! We must learn to think before we speak, always keeping in mind the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (emphasis mine). Memorizing and then putting this verse into practice will go a long way toward helping you to keep your tongue in cheek! 

4. Finally here's an update on my wife Sharon and her journey. We saw the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday (our 8th visit since he did the surgery to repair Sharon's broken femur back on November 19th ... but who's counting!). He did not take x-rays (he will when she goes back in 6 weeks). He still does not know if Sharon's fracture is healed. In his words, "it may be ... it may not be." He is encouraged that she has been walking more and the pain is less (she's been using meloxicam and that has been a help). He wants her to continue physical therapy twice a week. So all this to say we are continuing our "wait and see". Dr. Heinle told us that if the bone is not healed, eventually the hardware (plate and screws holding the bone in place) will begin to show signs of failure on the x-rays (or worse case, the plate will actually break at which point Sharon will know it. So another somewhat "mixed bag" visit. We continue to wait upon God for HIS strength. Thanks so much to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray. They mean more than you know. 


Thanks for stopping by ... 


Pj

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, July 15, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! It's coffee day! (well, EVERYDAY is coffee day for me!) .... but today I hope to share some thoughts with you over a cup of coffee (or maybe in the midst of this heat and humidity you might want to drink your coffee on ice ... or even go for some iced tea - not quite the caffeine kick but still better than nothing!).

1. Facing a presidential election with the two most unpopular candidates in the history of presidential politics ... many of us are at a quandary as to how to vote. My son-in-law sent me an open letter written by Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. According to my son-in-law it was "exceptionally well written." I agree! I think you would find it helpful. You can find it here. 

2. On Wednesday of this week, a portion of Lancaster County experienced significant flooding. The area involved was primarily East Lampeter Township and a small portion of West Lampeter Township. Both of these municipalities are located just east of the city of Lancaster. I live in Willow Street, just south of the city. Whereas the flooded areas (aproximately 4 miles or so north east of my location) received upwards of 7 -8 inches of rain (in just a few hours) ... my rain gauge measured a mere 1 1/2 inches. A friend who lives just a few miles southwest of me told me that he had barely enough rain to water his lawn! Another friend who lives just a few miles further from me said they saw no rain at
all!  Wow! From flooding basements and stranded cars to just some cloudy skies ... all within just a few miles! Amazing but not all that surprising. That is the nature of summer Thunderstorms. They can develop in one area and totally miss nearby areas. And what happened one Wednesday is the weather effect known as "training." This occurs when storms develop and slowly move over the same area over an extended period of time. This is what results in the high rainfall amounts. This reminds me of life. All of us go through storms. I may be going through one ... and you may not. Storms have a way of developing ... dropping their pain and hardship ... and then moving on. At times, the storms of life do "train" where they come one right after another. And this makes life tough! Now ... I don't know where you are in your life journey. Maybe the sun is shining and has been shining for quite some time. Or perhaps you are in the midst of a flooding "storm." But whatever the case, we must always keep in mind that our God is sovereign over the circumstances of our lives. So if the sun is shining and "all is well" in your life --- then you need to THANK God for this blessing!  But it you are struggling through hardship --- then you need to TRUST God through it, knowing that his eye is upon you and he has you firmly in his grip!

3. Finally ... today I must officiate a memorial service for an individual who many would say died before his time. His death is just another reminder of how fragile life is. Every single one of us will one day follow in this man's footsteps. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that "It is appointed unto to man to die once, and after that comes judgment." All of us will die. But there is an "after that" (death). And what comes after death is judgment. My friends are you ready for that judgment? It is coming as certain as death will one day come calling for you. If you are not sure you are ready ... I urge you to take a few moments to check out two ways to live: the choice we all face. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's good to be back with you all after a week of vacation. My wife and I traveled to up state Pennsylvania where we enjoyed a few days of total relaxation. But for now ... pour yourself a cup of coffee (go ahead Gary, you might actually enjoy it!) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. One of our vacation stops was the quaint little town of Punxsutawney. Even though most of you have probably never set foot in this small town (last week was our first visit), you have doubtless heard of it and actually seen a portion of it on television and internet reports come every February 2nd (by the way, the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, was NOT filmed in Punxsy ... it was filmed in Woodstock, IL). Punxsutawney is the home of the most famous groundhog in the world (sorry Octorara Orphie!). Every Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil predicts whether or not we will have an early spring. If he sees his shadow and returns to his burrow, we will have 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, an early spring is just around the corner. According to a display located at Gobblers Knob, approximately 30,000 people descend upon Punxsatawney every February 2nd (my wife and I were trying to figure out where
they parked all the cars!). All to see some furry, chubby creature prognosticate the weather! I think it's sad that a groundhog can draw such a crowd ... but in many churches across America where the main attaction is God ... all too often people find a whole lot of excuses not to attend worship services. How about YOU? Do you make involvement in a church family a priority of your weekly schedule? If you don't, other things will quickly take its place and before you know it, you will be doing other things on Sundays. And that, my friend, will be to the detriment of your faith. 

2. Do you ever think about how our society is so interested in quick fixes.  If we have a problem (headache, need to lose weight, depressed, etc.) there must be a pill that we can take to solve our problem (now I realize there are times that popping a pill does help).  However, often the solution to a problem is far more involved than just a prescription.  Hard work, lifestyle adjustments, discipline – these are often what’s needed to overcome whatever it might be that continues to nag us. Take personal finances for example. All too often we are spending money we don't have to impress people we don' like. And because we want to keep up with everyone else around us when it comes to having the latest technology or a bigger house, we end up piling up our personal debt. And when the pile gets deep, we look for some sort of easy fix to get out of the mess we have made.  My friend, we could wish life’s problems could all have easy fixes. But they don't.  And when it comes to growing in our faith, Paul tells us to “discipline ourselves for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:12).  We need to stop looking for the quick fix.  Instead, let’s roll up our spiritual sleeves and get to work – striving to grasp spiritual maturity in Christ.  All by HIS grace and for HIS glory!

MID MORNING UPDATE: One blogger that I follow is Dr. Jim Denison. He writes on truth and culture from a biblical perspective. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you should be familiar with his name and his writings. Jim lives in Dallas where, last night, law enforcement was hit hard (greatest loss of life in a single event since 9-11). As of this moment, five officers are dead. When I heard the news late last night, I was so troubled with this ... another act of violence following so many other acts of violence across the past couple of months ... that I found it difficult to sleep. I found encouragement in Jim's cultural commentary today. I encourage you to read it! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Weekend Edition

Hah! What a week! So busy had no time to post a Friday blog! And what was I doing that filled my schedule to overflowing? It was Vacation Bible School week at our church! And what a week it was! We had over 200 kids .... 80 volunteers ... raised over $3200 for our partner ministry, Children's Fellowship of India! So ... if you want to check out what happened, you can head over to the church's facebook page for pictures. And if you want to read why we do a VBS ... you can head to the church's website and read my post there.

OH ... and by the way ... I NEED A VACATION! So I am taking one next week. So I will see you back here on Friday, July 8th ... God willing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday! For many of you it means the final day of your work week. For me it means I am just two days away from Sunday. Ughh ... and so much to do. SOOO ... grabbing a cup of coffee on Friday mornings is something that I find gives me my initial push for the day! Why not join me with a cup as I share a few random thoughts with you about what is going on in our very crazy world!

1. The news of late has been BAD ... horrifically so. And Orlando Florida has been at the center of most of it! Last Friday evening, a former finalist on NBC's hit show The Voice, Christina Grimmie (who claimed to be a Christian), was gunned down signing autographs after a performance. Then just a bit over 24 hours later, a crazed gunman, declaring allegiance to ISIS opened fire in a crowded gay nightclub, killing close to 50 people and wounding several dozen more. Finally on Tuesday, at a Disney owned resort, a two year old toddler was dragged away by a large alligator. The next day the toddler's body was found. These are dark days . And to think all of this horror struck in Orlando, home of the "happiest place on earth!" All of this illustrates a painful and sad reality: this world in which we live is a world that is ... like a vending machine that does not deliver the candy once you put your money in ... "out of order." And the only One who can possibly put it back in order is the One who created it in the first place. And please don't blame God for all of this evil and darkness around us. This is our doing, not his! Our first parents chose to walk away from God and his plan and to live their way. All of us who have been born into this world since, have this same defiant heart. We are born rebels! But in the midst of this darkness, pain and grief, there is GOOD NEWS. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, God so loved this world (and us rebels in it!) that he sent his one and only Son into our world. That's right! God the Son became one of us, lived among us and then died for us on the cross! So that anyone and everyone who places his or her faith alone in Christ alone can have the hope of a newer and better life ... beginning here and now but finding its absolute fulfillment in the eternal home that awaits all of God's people. All of us have a choice to make. I hope, my friend, you make the right one!

2. I am still basking in the Stanley Cup championship won by my former city's NHL franchise Pittsburgh Penguins (in case you missed it, they hoisted the cup in victory this past Sunday evening). The other day, someone accused me of "just saying" I was a Penguins' fan because they never heard me talk about the Pens or hockey in general. Well ... that might be true. I don't talk a whole lot about sports (especially compared to a lot of guys). But that does not mean that I don't follow certain teams. So .... to prove that I was not merely jumping on the bandwagon of a championship team, I produced a photo of my wife and me which was taken a few weeks ago. In it I am clearly wearing a Penguins hat. So the evidence clearly testified of my allegiance to the Pens. But how about our allegiance to Christ? What evidence can you (and I) point to that will testify of our commitment to Jesus? That's a question all of us should spend some time answering. We will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for joining me for our Friday cup of coffee together. I hope you glean something of worth from today's meanderings! 

1. I am currently in the midst of teaching a course on the Pentateuch (Creation and Covenants) in the accelerated undergraduate degree program at Lancaster Bible College. This past week, we found ourselves at the foot of Mt. Sinai as Moses delivered the ten commandments to the people of Israel. Often, Christians look at these ten commandments wrongly .... as either ten suggestions or ten restrictions. But they are anything but! Pastor David Murray tries his hand at re-framing the ten commandments from ten vices to avoid to ten virtues to pursue. I think you will find his insightful (and brief) article refreshing. I did! 


2. One thing I have observed as our kids are now raising their own kids is the way that they have stressed the importance of people. It looks something like this: child is playing with a toy (or on an iPad) and I walk into the house. I say hi ... my grandchild continues to play, oblivious to my presence. Parent walks over to child and stops their play. "Papa is here and he said hello. You need to respond. Go and give him a hug. Remember, people are more important than that toy (or game!)" Yes. I like that! And people are more important than toys, or games, or sporting events, or ... yes ... even animals! Don't get me wrong. I do love animals (Although my wife and I don't currently have any pets in our house, it is not due to a disdain for animals but more an issue of lifestyle. We travel a good bit (at least we did prior to my wife's current health journey ... see update below). Arranging care for pets while we are gone is not something we want to have to do!). Recently in the news there has been uproars on social media because zoo animals have been killed when zoo officials have determined that a human life was in danger (the most recent occurred in Cincinnati where a gorilla was killed after a young child had slipped into its exhibit). Many people criticized the killing of these animals. Listen, people are more important than animals. In the Christian Judaeo worldview, only human beings are image bearers of the Creator. Yes, animals need to be treated humanely. But when it comes down to saving the life of an animal or saving the life of a human ... one must go with the latter every time. I would only wish that the killing of unborn children would receive as much attention as the killing of the Cincinnati gorilla did! 


3. One of my favorite (and needful) verses in the Bible is Proverbs 10:19. In the verse, God warns us about our tongue (as he also does in the third chapter of the New Testament letter of James). Why is it that we so often run into problems with our mouth? One big reason is that far too many of us start

wagging our tongues while our brain is still in neutral! We must learn to think before we speak, always keeping in mind the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (emphasis mine). Memorizing and then putting this verse into practice will go a long way toward helping you to keep your tongue in cheek! 

4. Finally here's an update on my wife Sharon and her journey. We saw the orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday (our 8th visit since he did the surgery to repair Sharon's broken femur back on November 19th ... but who's counting!). He did not take x-rays (he will when she goes back in 6 weeks). He still does not know if Sharon's fracture is healed. In his words, "it may be ... it may not be." He is encouraged that she has been walking more and the pain is less (she's been using meloxicam and that has been a help). He wants her to continue physical therapy twice a week. So all this to say we are continuing our "wait and see". Dr. Heinle told us that if the bone is not healed, eventually the hardware (plate and screws holding the bone in place) will begin to show signs of failure on the x-rays (or worse case, the plate will actually break at which point Sharon will know it. So another somewhat "mixed bag" visit. We continue to wait upon God for HIS strength. Thanks so much to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray. They mean more than you know. 


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.