PJ

PJ

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Reduction of Spam on the Way?

When I was a kid, the first question out of my mouth as I walked into our house after school was, "Hey, Mom, what's for supper?" Sometimes the answer would be "Spam!" That's right. That delicious mystery "meat" that comes in a can (Well it is not really a mystery meat - the term comes from taking the first two letters and the last two letters of the meat's description: "SPiced hAM"). Some of you probably have never eaten Spam. However, I am quite sure that all of you reading this posting have encountered spam (that is, spam of the computing kind). The proliferation of SPAM on the Internet has cost the economy millions if not billions of dollars. Even with a spam filter on one's computer or network cannot catch it all. That is why I was thrilled to read today that one of the world's top ten spammers is being held in Seattle. Authorities predict everyone could very well see a reduction of the amount of spam on their computers! I sure hope they are right!

Spam. It is part of the package of life here in this computer driven society in which we live. Sure, we can try to reduce it - but we will never eliminate it. We just have to learn to accept it. And so it is with many of the other things we consider nuisances in this life. Whether it is a bum knee, an unexpected bill or a misunderstanding between friends - these things are part of the package of life. Isn't a great comfort to know that when these irritating (or even worse than irritating) things come our way, that our God walks with us and will provide us the strength we need to get through the day, no matter how tough our circumstances might happen to be? May the reality the Apostle Paul discovered be one we also come to know, "I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Thanks for listening,

pj






Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Subway Hero

His name is Wesley Autrey. He looks like an average 50 year old man. He works construction. He has two daughters. But Wesley is not your regular run-of-the-mill guy. Back in January while waiting for a subway train, Autrey watched in disbelief as he saw a young man fall backwards onto the subway tracks as a train was approaching the station. Without hesitating, Autrey leaped onto the tracks and pulled the man to safety just as the 37 ton train rumbled into the station. Unbelievably, both he and the man he rescued escaped with only a few minor bumps and bruises. Because of his selfless act of heroism, Autrey is known around the country as "The Subway Hero." His motto? "If you see something, do something."

I wish more of God's people would live by that motto ... if you see something (a need), do something (about it!). Isn't that what the second great commandment is all about - loving others as you love yourself? John in his first letter hit upon this when he wrote, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18).

So my friend, let's get our eyes off ourselves and onto others. Let's not just SAY we love others, but let's SHOW that we love others through our deeds! So, to quote the subway hero, "If you see something, do something!" That's good advice for us all!
Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Police Sunday 2007 - Another Great Day!

For the past 23 years, Grace Church has conducted a service honoring law enforcement personnel who serve the people of Lancaster County. The service originally began as a memorial service, remembering the Lancaster County officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. In recent years, the service has morphed somewhat. We still remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but we also seek to honor and appreciate those still serving our communities throughout the county. One way we do this is by giving out awards in conjunction with the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association. The Chiefs select the winners and we recruit corporate sponsors to supply nice gifts for the winning officers. In doing so, we want all those serving us in law enforcement to know that we appreciate them!

Is all the effort to put together this service year in and year out worth it? Here are some excerpts from three emails I received in the days following this year's service. I think they answer this question quite clearly!


John,

My sincere thanks to you and the church officials, staff and congregation for another outstanding service which truly means so much to the entire Lancaster County Law Enforcement Community. I have also received many words of praise and compliments for the service… Great Job.

Chief Jim Walsh (West Lampeter Township PD)


John,

I know I echo the sentiments of the other law enforcement officers in the community in thanking you for the wonderful opportunity to recognize the active officers as well as those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sincerely,
Chief John Bowman (East Lampeter Township PD)


John,

It was a great day honoring those fallen officers, and I want to thank you, your church members and staff for making us from Lititz Borough feel right at home. I have enjoyed this service, and the warmth that seems to come so naturally from your congregation. Thanks again.

Chief Bill Seace (Lititz Borough PD)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Inspiration in an Unlikely Place!

Yesterday I took some time to visit two people who are in skilled care at a nearby health care facility. Both are up in age. Both are weak and frail. And both encouraged the socks off of me! That's right. I spent about 30 minutes with each one and in those 30 minutes they did not want to talk about themselves and their problems. No, they wanted to talk about me and my family, the church and what God was doing here. Their bodies might be falling apart, but their love for others and their faith and hope in God is as strong and firm as ever.

As I walked back to my office I told God that if He ever allows me to live to be that age, I want to be like them! Strong in faith. Positive in attitude. I want to finish well. But to finish well THEN means I must stay in the race NOW, running hard, never quitting. And the key to staying in the race is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:1-2). Given all the temptations of the world around us ... this is not easy. It requires discipline and intentional effort. How about you? Do you desire to finish well? Then keep running this race of faith. And as you run, fix your eyes on Jesus! And if your eyes drift away from him (as they are prone to do) - then do a re-fix! It's the only way to finish the race and to finish it well!
Thanks for listening,
pj

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Glance Into My Rear View Mirror . . .

During last evening's rush hour, I was driving north through the city. Sitting at a traffic light, I happened to glance in my rear view mirror. In the car directly behind me was a man (he looked a little younger than me) and a teen aged boy. The man was talking. "Hmm. How nice." I remember thinking. "A dad and his son having a talk." Across the course of the next several minutes, I stole an occasional glance at the two as they drove in the lane behind me. The man continued to talk and at times got quite animated as he took his hands off the wheel and gestured wildly. At the same time, the boy just stared dispassionately into space, NEVER saying a word. At that point my warm fuzzy feeling departed. This was NOT the case of a dad and his son kibitzing (a new word I just learned from WDAC - it means to chat or banter). Rather it was a case of a dad lecturing his son.

Now being a dad, I realize there are times in the parenting process that a lecture might be in order. However, I also realize that more times than not, us parents go into the "lecture mode" when we should be in the "listening mode." And when we do this, we run the risk of embittering our kids - which is something God's Word cautions us against (see Colossians 3:21).

Let me encourage you, if you are a parent, be sure to take time to LISTEN to your children. In listening to them, you show them that you care about what they think. And sometimes that is all they are looking for - a little respect!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Questions from a Commencement Address

The past two Saturday mornings, I have spent a total of four hours sitting through two different college commencement ceremonies. If you have yet to experience one of these, go prepared for the long haul. It takes a while to announce anywhere from 750 to 1200 names!

Philip Yancey, prolific Christian author (if you have not yet read his most recent book, Praying, I highly recommend you get it and read it!) was this past Saturday's commencement speaker. In a brief fifteen minute address, he gave me a lot of chew on! Among other things, he made mention of a recent accident he suffered. He was driving home on a mountain road in his home state of Colorado when he lost control of his SUV on a sharp curve. After several flips, the vehicle came to rest. Yancey survived, but has spent the past 12 weeks in a neck brace (Saturday's commencement was his first public appearance without the brace). As Yancey reflected on that experience, he said there were four questions that ran through his mind as he was awaiting surgery at the hospital (he was told that there were several bone fragments dangerously close to an artery - any movement could mean death). His four questions as he faced death are questions all of us can ask ourselves to make sure we are where we need to be in life. They are: Who do I love? Who will I miss? What have I accomplished with my life? And am I ready for what lies ahead?

Please take a moment and ask yourself these questions. If you are not satisfied with the answers, perhaps you need to make some changes. Don't wait until you are on your death bed - it will be far too late then!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dog Bites and Doing the Right Thing!

If you have ever been bitten by a dog, you are not alone! (I've been bitten a couple of times). The US Postal Service recently released statistics on letter carriers and dog bites for 2006. In that particular year, 3,184 mail carriers were bitten by dogs. The top five most dangerous cities for mail personnel were (in order of the # of dog bites): Santa Anna, 96 bites; Houston, 94; Sacramento, 82; Los Angeles, 77 and South Florida, 71. Believe it or not the safest place to deliver mail? The New York City metro area which had no reports of a mail carrier being bitten by a dog!

With all the experience the postal service has had across the years with dogs desiring to do a taste test on their workers, the service offers the following dog bite advice:

·Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey. (So unless you are with someone much slower than you - don't try to run!)

·If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight (and PLEASE don't trip as you are walking backwards!).

·If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog (and I don't think the postal service has another person in mind!).


All of these tips seem to make a lot of sense from what I know about dogs. Yet, when faced with a growling, baring-its-teeth dog, many of us probably do what comes instinctivley to us and that is run, baby, run! This teaches us that sometimes what might feel is the right thing to do is not. In fact it may be the very worst thing we could do! And so it is in our faith journey. We cannot afford to simply make decisions and choices based on what we "feel" is right. Our sinful nature and our godless culture can impact us in ways that make us feel something is right for us when God says it is terribly wrong. What we all need to do is to spend time in God's Word so we can know His plan for our lives. Then and only then will we be able to stay on the path and avoid the painful experience of being bitten by sin!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ads Reflect our Culture's Values

This morning I did something I usually don't do - purchase and then read the local morning paper. The reason I did so was to read the paper's coverage of yesterday's primary election. As I read through the paper, something struck me about the ads featured on page 2 of the paper's front section. Of the six ads found there, two dealt with ways to keep your skin looking young, one encouraged breast augmentation, another offered a chair side whitening of one's teeth, a fifth announced a big sale on furs and leathers and the last was an ad offering to buy houses and investment properties for fast cash.

Think with me of these ads. What do they tell us about the values of our culture? The first five I mentioned all have to do with outward appearance - one's skin, body shape, clothing. Our culture values appearance. Look young. Be shapely. Dress sharply. That's what these ads are telling us! But this over emphasis on external appearance is contrary to what God tells us, isn't it? In 1 Samuel we read about God sending Samuel the prophet to the home of a man named Jesse. Once there, Samuel was to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be the next king of Israel (for God had rejected King Saul for his spirit of pride and arrogance). When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse's oldest son he thought that he was the one God wanted him to anoint to be the next king. After all, he was the first born (important in that culture) and he apparently had all the physical attributes of a king. But God said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). I fear that many of us have been influenced by our culture's emphasis on a person's external appearance. If we would spend as much time tending to our hearts as we do buying our wardrobes, working out at the gym or putting on makeup - I think we would have a lot more to offer God and others! Give it some thought.

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Survived!


Good news! I survived this past weekend intact - a bit frazzled and tired perhaps - but intact! All in all it was a great weekend. In spite of baking in the sun at Saturday morning's commencement, the failure of the little "flower dude" to cooperate in the wedding ceremony and a HUGE T-storm that threatened to blow over the reception tent - the weekend passed very smoothly. Worst case scenarios failed to raise their ugly heads - which is always a welcome thing.

So for those of you who prayed - thanks so much. Through your prayers, I received help. The Apostle Paul and his ministry companions also received help from the Corinthian church which we see in the following words he wrote to them, "as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (2 Corinthians 1:11). Yes I survived the weekend. I was blessed because YOU prayed! Let's strive to remember to pray for one another!

Thanks for praying,
pj

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Busy Weekend? Hmm...


This is one of those really crazy weekends that come around only once every twenty years or so. Today my youngest daughter Kate celebrates her birthday (Happy Birthday, Kate!). Tomorrow she graduates from Millersville University (Congrats, Kate!). Sunday is both Mother's Day and Sharon and my 29th wedding anniversary (Happy anniversary, honey!). Well really, that is not all that busy. So let's throw in to the mix the opening weekend of a production Kate is in (Theatre of the Seventh Sister's Inherit the Wind - showing at Millersville University's Rafters Theatre. The production opened last night and runs Thursday through Sunday of the next three weekends- You did a great job last night, Kate!). Now we are getting somewhat busy. OK - one more event to add to the mix. How about a wedding I am officiating tomorrow (congrats Brad and Liz!)? That means rehearsal tonight and ceremony tomorrow. Yep - now we are talking busy. Oh, and I had better mention that the wedding is taking place in Winchester, VA. Hmm. Busy? No! This weekend is beyond busy! So between all the birthday cake, wedding cake, commencement speeches and honoring mom and cherishing my wife -- I have 6 hours to drive today and 6 hours to drive tomorrow. Like I said "crazy busy!"

I am already tired thinking about all of this. But I know that in the midst of all this busyness God will be sustaining me. And that is a real joy of being a follower of Jesus Christ. He gives us the grace we need to face the demands of each day (or in this case, weekend). So no matter what you are facing today, look to Jesus Christ. He will enable you to get through (and survive in the process!).

Thanks for listening,

pj


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag!)

One question you can count on being asked at the check out line of almost any grocery store in America is, "Paper or plastic?" Did you ever wonder if there is a right answer to that question? I mean, environmentally speaking that is. I saw a news report last night that listed the pros and cons of bagging your groceries in plastic bags vs. bagging them in paper bags (and vice versa). Both paper and plastic bags are costly to the environment (paper bags cost millions of trees and plastic bags millions of barrels of oil). So bottom line, if you really want to be environmentally friendly, BRING YOUR OWN BAG!

That is really not such a bad idea. Think of all the trees that would be spared and all the oil that would be conserved. Not to mention the money saved by grocery stores, which in turn might lower grocery bills (OK, John - don't press your luck!). I am sure there are some people among us that might be willing to BYOB when grocery shopping. But my guess is that most Americans would not want to be bothered. After all, it is far more convenient to just take the bags offered by the grocer! And that is what we want. The more convenient something is - the better!

We as Christ-followers must be very careful that we do not allow this cultural value of convenience impact our faith journey. Following Christ is often NOT the easy, most convenient path to travel. This is why Paul (the battle hardened veteran) urged Timothy (the tender footed rookie) to "endure hardship with us as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). Following Jesus is often hard. So if we are going to run the race, finish the fight and keep the faith (as Paul did - see 2 Timothy 4:7) then we must kiss this desire for convenience goodbye! And that might just mean BYOB!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Thought For Your Friday . . .



"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. " (1 Samuel 16:7)

So my friend, when God looks at my heart - when he looks at YOUR heart, what does He see?





Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, May 3, 2007

It's All about Communication!

The other morning I woke up to the singing of what sounded like the All-American Choir of Birdland! As it was still dark outside, I looked at my alarm clock to check the time. The clock read 4:40! That got me to thinking, "Why do these birds start singing so early in the morning?" I mean, some of us would rather be sleeping than be serenaded by the local neighborhood bird choral society! This morning, I did some quick research on that question ... and here is what I discovered (and I quote):

"Birds don't sing for fun or entertainment, they sing to communicate. What you may not know is that, with few exceptions, it is the males that are doing all the singing. They sing to attract a mate and to announce their territory. Each day, as soon as possible, the males want to make sure that everyone knows that they are alive and well and ready to defend their territory. What is interesting, although it may all sound the same to us, is that there is some evidence suggesting that each bird has its own unique song and other birds know it. We hear the lovely call of a robin, while other robins hear 'This is Vinny, stay away and nobody gets hurt'.

Another reason why birds sing at the crack of dawn is that the pre-dawn hours are usually the quietest part of the day. The sun hasn't had a chance to stir up the air. The birds’ voices are a lot clearer without having to compete with the sound of the wind blowing through trees or without having to be heard above those annoying backup beeps on dump trucks."

Now that makes a lot of sense to me. Communication is important for us people - so I guess it is important for them birds! But we can learn something here from our feathered friends. Think with me for a moment about marriages. Having been married myself for almost 29 years (our anniversary is next Sunday - which is also Mother's Day AND the day after my daugher Kate's college graduation which is the day after her birthday - not to mention a wedding that I am officiating down in Virgina next Saturday evening!) and having observed other marriages, all of us could use a little help in this area of communication. And just as communication is vital in Birdland, it is even more important in marriage. Recently I picked up a book that Sharon and I have begun reading together. It is already helping us in this vital area. The title is Men Are Like Waffles--Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences. I recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself. If you apply its principles, I think you will be hearing your spouse (and being heard by your spouse) much more clearly!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Honoring the Aged Among Us!

All Rose Morat wanted to do that morning was to walk to church. So the 101 year old grabbed her walker and shuffled out of her apartment. As she approached the church building, 44 year old Jack Rhodes approached her and offered to help her into the church. Just as they got to the door to the church's vestibule, Rhodes put Rose in a head lock and punched her three times in the face. He then grabbed her purse. When Rose also grabbed for her purse, he punched her again and pushed her to the ground. Rhodes made off with $33 in cash and Rose's apartment keys. Fortunately all this was captured by a surveillance camera which led authorites to Rhodes (who had been accused in the past for attacking an 85 year old woman). Rose suffered a broken cheekbone.

When I first read this news account, I read in disbelief. How can anyone attack a woman over 100 years of age? Apparently Rhodes could! But what I see here is simply a symptom of a deeper problem in our society - and that is a decreasing respect for the older among us. Our culture is so youth oriented that we have lost sight of the value of the aged in our society. God, however, has a far different view of senior adults. Proverbs 16:31 reads, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life" and Proverbs 20:29 tells us that "the glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."

Let us as a community of Christ-followers buck this trend in our society. Let's learn to honor the aged among us!
Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Reduction of Spam on the Way?

When I was a kid, the first question out of my mouth as I walked into our house after school was, "Hey, Mom, what's for supper?" Sometimes the answer would be "Spam!" That's right. That delicious mystery "meat" that comes in a can (Well it is not really a mystery meat - the term comes from taking the first two letters and the last two letters of the meat's description: "SPiced hAM"). Some of you probably have never eaten Spam. However, I am quite sure that all of you reading this posting have encountered spam (that is, spam of the computing kind). The proliferation of SPAM on the Internet has cost the economy millions if not billions of dollars. Even with a spam filter on one's computer or network cannot catch it all. That is why I was thrilled to read today that one of the world's top ten spammers is being held in Seattle. Authorities predict everyone could very well see a reduction of the amount of spam on their computers! I sure hope they are right!

Spam. It is part of the package of life here in this computer driven society in which we live. Sure, we can try to reduce it - but we will never eliminate it. We just have to learn to accept it. And so it is with many of the other things we consider nuisances in this life. Whether it is a bum knee, an unexpected bill or a misunderstanding between friends - these things are part of the package of life. Isn't a great comfort to know that when these irritating (or even worse than irritating) things come our way, that our God walks with us and will provide us the strength we need to get through the day, no matter how tough our circumstances might happen to be? May the reality the Apostle Paul discovered be one we also come to know, "I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Thanks for listening,

pj






Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Subway Hero

His name is Wesley Autrey. He looks like an average 50 year old man. He works construction. He has two daughters. But Wesley is not your regular run-of-the-mill guy. Back in January while waiting for a subway train, Autrey watched in disbelief as he saw a young man fall backwards onto the subway tracks as a train was approaching the station. Without hesitating, Autrey leaped onto the tracks and pulled the man to safety just as the 37 ton train rumbled into the station. Unbelievably, both he and the man he rescued escaped with only a few minor bumps and bruises. Because of his selfless act of heroism, Autrey is known around the country as "The Subway Hero." His motto? "If you see something, do something."

I wish more of God's people would live by that motto ... if you see something (a need), do something (about it!). Isn't that what the second great commandment is all about - loving others as you love yourself? John in his first letter hit upon this when he wrote, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18).

So my friend, let's get our eyes off ourselves and onto others. Let's not just SAY we love others, but let's SHOW that we love others through our deeds! So, to quote the subway hero, "If you see something, do something!" That's good advice for us all!
Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Police Sunday 2007 - Another Great Day!

For the past 23 years, Grace Church has conducted a service honoring law enforcement personnel who serve the people of Lancaster County. The service originally began as a memorial service, remembering the Lancaster County officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. In recent years, the service has morphed somewhat. We still remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but we also seek to honor and appreciate those still serving our communities throughout the county. One way we do this is by giving out awards in conjunction with the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association. The Chiefs select the winners and we recruit corporate sponsors to supply nice gifts for the winning officers. In doing so, we want all those serving us in law enforcement to know that we appreciate them!

Is all the effort to put together this service year in and year out worth it? Here are some excerpts from three emails I received in the days following this year's service. I think they answer this question quite clearly!


John,

My sincere thanks to you and the church officials, staff and congregation for another outstanding service which truly means so much to the entire Lancaster County Law Enforcement Community. I have also received many words of praise and compliments for the service… Great Job.

Chief Jim Walsh (West Lampeter Township PD)


John,

I know I echo the sentiments of the other law enforcement officers in the community in thanking you for the wonderful opportunity to recognize the active officers as well as those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sincerely,
Chief John Bowman (East Lampeter Township PD)


John,

It was a great day honoring those fallen officers, and I want to thank you, your church members and staff for making us from Lititz Borough feel right at home. I have enjoyed this service, and the warmth that seems to come so naturally from your congregation. Thanks again.

Chief Bill Seace (Lititz Borough PD)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Inspiration in an Unlikely Place!

Yesterday I took some time to visit two people who are in skilled care at a nearby health care facility. Both are up in age. Both are weak and frail. And both encouraged the socks off of me! That's right. I spent about 30 minutes with each one and in those 30 minutes they did not want to talk about themselves and their problems. No, they wanted to talk about me and my family, the church and what God was doing here. Their bodies might be falling apart, but their love for others and their faith and hope in God is as strong and firm as ever.

As I walked back to my office I told God that if He ever allows me to live to be that age, I want to be like them! Strong in faith. Positive in attitude. I want to finish well. But to finish well THEN means I must stay in the race NOW, running hard, never quitting. And the key to staying in the race is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:1-2). Given all the temptations of the world around us ... this is not easy. It requires discipline and intentional effort. How about you? Do you desire to finish well? Then keep running this race of faith. And as you run, fix your eyes on Jesus! And if your eyes drift away from him (as they are prone to do) - then do a re-fix! It's the only way to finish the race and to finish it well!
Thanks for listening,
pj

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Glance Into My Rear View Mirror . . .

During last evening's rush hour, I was driving north through the city. Sitting at a traffic light, I happened to glance in my rear view mirror. In the car directly behind me was a man (he looked a little younger than me) and a teen aged boy. The man was talking. "Hmm. How nice." I remember thinking. "A dad and his son having a talk." Across the course of the next several minutes, I stole an occasional glance at the two as they drove in the lane behind me. The man continued to talk and at times got quite animated as he took his hands off the wheel and gestured wildly. At the same time, the boy just stared dispassionately into space, NEVER saying a word. At that point my warm fuzzy feeling departed. This was NOT the case of a dad and his son kibitzing (a new word I just learned from WDAC - it means to chat or banter). Rather it was a case of a dad lecturing his son.

Now being a dad, I realize there are times in the parenting process that a lecture might be in order. However, I also realize that more times than not, us parents go into the "lecture mode" when we should be in the "listening mode." And when we do this, we run the risk of embittering our kids - which is something God's Word cautions us against (see Colossians 3:21).

Let me encourage you, if you are a parent, be sure to take time to LISTEN to your children. In listening to them, you show them that you care about what they think. And sometimes that is all they are looking for - a little respect!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Questions from a Commencement Address

The past two Saturday mornings, I have spent a total of four hours sitting through two different college commencement ceremonies. If you have yet to experience one of these, go prepared for the long haul. It takes a while to announce anywhere from 750 to 1200 names!

Philip Yancey, prolific Christian author (if you have not yet read his most recent book, Praying, I highly recommend you get it and read it!) was this past Saturday's commencement speaker. In a brief fifteen minute address, he gave me a lot of chew on! Among other things, he made mention of a recent accident he suffered. He was driving home on a mountain road in his home state of Colorado when he lost control of his SUV on a sharp curve. After several flips, the vehicle came to rest. Yancey survived, but has spent the past 12 weeks in a neck brace (Saturday's commencement was his first public appearance without the brace). As Yancey reflected on that experience, he said there were four questions that ran through his mind as he was awaiting surgery at the hospital (he was told that there were several bone fragments dangerously close to an artery - any movement could mean death). His four questions as he faced death are questions all of us can ask ourselves to make sure we are where we need to be in life. They are: Who do I love? Who will I miss? What have I accomplished with my life? And am I ready for what lies ahead?

Please take a moment and ask yourself these questions. If you are not satisfied with the answers, perhaps you need to make some changes. Don't wait until you are on your death bed - it will be far too late then!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dog Bites and Doing the Right Thing!

If you have ever been bitten by a dog, you are not alone! (I've been bitten a couple of times). The US Postal Service recently released statistics on letter carriers and dog bites for 2006. In that particular year, 3,184 mail carriers were bitten by dogs. The top five most dangerous cities for mail personnel were (in order of the # of dog bites): Santa Anna, 96 bites; Houston, 94; Sacramento, 82; Los Angeles, 77 and South Florida, 71. Believe it or not the safest place to deliver mail? The New York City metro area which had no reports of a mail carrier being bitten by a dog!

With all the experience the postal service has had across the years with dogs desiring to do a taste test on their workers, the service offers the following dog bite advice:

·Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey. (So unless you are with someone much slower than you - don't try to run!)

·If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight (and PLEASE don't trip as you are walking backwards!).

·If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog (and I don't think the postal service has another person in mind!).


All of these tips seem to make a lot of sense from what I know about dogs. Yet, when faced with a growling, baring-its-teeth dog, many of us probably do what comes instinctivley to us and that is run, baby, run! This teaches us that sometimes what might feel is the right thing to do is not. In fact it may be the very worst thing we could do! And so it is in our faith journey. We cannot afford to simply make decisions and choices based on what we "feel" is right. Our sinful nature and our godless culture can impact us in ways that make us feel something is right for us when God says it is terribly wrong. What we all need to do is to spend time in God's Word so we can know His plan for our lives. Then and only then will we be able to stay on the path and avoid the painful experience of being bitten by sin!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ads Reflect our Culture's Values

This morning I did something I usually don't do - purchase and then read the local morning paper. The reason I did so was to read the paper's coverage of yesterday's primary election. As I read through the paper, something struck me about the ads featured on page 2 of the paper's front section. Of the six ads found there, two dealt with ways to keep your skin looking young, one encouraged breast augmentation, another offered a chair side whitening of one's teeth, a fifth announced a big sale on furs and leathers and the last was an ad offering to buy houses and investment properties for fast cash.

Think with me of these ads. What do they tell us about the values of our culture? The first five I mentioned all have to do with outward appearance - one's skin, body shape, clothing. Our culture values appearance. Look young. Be shapely. Dress sharply. That's what these ads are telling us! But this over emphasis on external appearance is contrary to what God tells us, isn't it? In 1 Samuel we read about God sending Samuel the prophet to the home of a man named Jesse. Once there, Samuel was to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be the next king of Israel (for God had rejected King Saul for his spirit of pride and arrogance). When Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse's oldest son he thought that he was the one God wanted him to anoint to be the next king. After all, he was the first born (important in that culture) and he apparently had all the physical attributes of a king. But God said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). I fear that many of us have been influenced by our culture's emphasis on a person's external appearance. If we would spend as much time tending to our hearts as we do buying our wardrobes, working out at the gym or putting on makeup - I think we would have a lot more to offer God and others! Give it some thought.

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Survived!


Good news! I survived this past weekend intact - a bit frazzled and tired perhaps - but intact! All in all it was a great weekend. In spite of baking in the sun at Saturday morning's commencement, the failure of the little "flower dude" to cooperate in the wedding ceremony and a HUGE T-storm that threatened to blow over the reception tent - the weekend passed very smoothly. Worst case scenarios failed to raise their ugly heads - which is always a welcome thing.

So for those of you who prayed - thanks so much. Through your prayers, I received help. The Apostle Paul and his ministry companions also received help from the Corinthian church which we see in the following words he wrote to them, "as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (2 Corinthians 1:11). Yes I survived the weekend. I was blessed because YOU prayed! Let's strive to remember to pray for one another!

Thanks for praying,
pj

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Busy Weekend? Hmm...


This is one of those really crazy weekends that come around only once every twenty years or so. Today my youngest daughter Kate celebrates her birthday (Happy Birthday, Kate!). Tomorrow she graduates from Millersville University (Congrats, Kate!). Sunday is both Mother's Day and Sharon and my 29th wedding anniversary (Happy anniversary, honey!). Well really, that is not all that busy. So let's throw in to the mix the opening weekend of a production Kate is in (Theatre of the Seventh Sister's Inherit the Wind - showing at Millersville University's Rafters Theatre. The production opened last night and runs Thursday through Sunday of the next three weekends- You did a great job last night, Kate!). Now we are getting somewhat busy. OK - one more event to add to the mix. How about a wedding I am officiating tomorrow (congrats Brad and Liz!)? That means rehearsal tonight and ceremony tomorrow. Yep - now we are talking busy. Oh, and I had better mention that the wedding is taking place in Winchester, VA. Hmm. Busy? No! This weekend is beyond busy! So between all the birthday cake, wedding cake, commencement speeches and honoring mom and cherishing my wife -- I have 6 hours to drive today and 6 hours to drive tomorrow. Like I said "crazy busy!"

I am already tired thinking about all of this. But I know that in the midst of all this busyness God will be sustaining me. And that is a real joy of being a follower of Jesus Christ. He gives us the grace we need to face the demands of each day (or in this case, weekend). So no matter what you are facing today, look to Jesus Christ. He will enable you to get through (and survive in the process!).

Thanks for listening,

pj


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag!)

One question you can count on being asked at the check out line of almost any grocery store in America is, "Paper or plastic?" Did you ever wonder if there is a right answer to that question? I mean, environmentally speaking that is. I saw a news report last night that listed the pros and cons of bagging your groceries in plastic bags vs. bagging them in paper bags (and vice versa). Both paper and plastic bags are costly to the environment (paper bags cost millions of trees and plastic bags millions of barrels of oil). So bottom line, if you really want to be environmentally friendly, BRING YOUR OWN BAG!

That is really not such a bad idea. Think of all the trees that would be spared and all the oil that would be conserved. Not to mention the money saved by grocery stores, which in turn might lower grocery bills (OK, John - don't press your luck!). I am sure there are some people among us that might be willing to BYOB when grocery shopping. But my guess is that most Americans would not want to be bothered. After all, it is far more convenient to just take the bags offered by the grocer! And that is what we want. The more convenient something is - the better!

We as Christ-followers must be very careful that we do not allow this cultural value of convenience impact our faith journey. Following Christ is often NOT the easy, most convenient path to travel. This is why Paul (the battle hardened veteran) urged Timothy (the tender footed rookie) to "endure hardship with us as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3). Following Jesus is often hard. So if we are going to run the race, finish the fight and keep the faith (as Paul did - see 2 Timothy 4:7) then we must kiss this desire for convenience goodbye! And that might just mean BYOB!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Thought For Your Friday . . .



"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. " (1 Samuel 16:7)

So my friend, when God looks at my heart - when he looks at YOUR heart, what does He see?





Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, May 3, 2007

It's All about Communication!

The other morning I woke up to the singing of what sounded like the All-American Choir of Birdland! As it was still dark outside, I looked at my alarm clock to check the time. The clock read 4:40! That got me to thinking, "Why do these birds start singing so early in the morning?" I mean, some of us would rather be sleeping than be serenaded by the local neighborhood bird choral society! This morning, I did some quick research on that question ... and here is what I discovered (and I quote):

"Birds don't sing for fun or entertainment, they sing to communicate. What you may not know is that, with few exceptions, it is the males that are doing all the singing. They sing to attract a mate and to announce their territory. Each day, as soon as possible, the males want to make sure that everyone knows that they are alive and well and ready to defend their territory. What is interesting, although it may all sound the same to us, is that there is some evidence suggesting that each bird has its own unique song and other birds know it. We hear the lovely call of a robin, while other robins hear 'This is Vinny, stay away and nobody gets hurt'.

Another reason why birds sing at the crack of dawn is that the pre-dawn hours are usually the quietest part of the day. The sun hasn't had a chance to stir up the air. The birds’ voices are a lot clearer without having to compete with the sound of the wind blowing through trees or without having to be heard above those annoying backup beeps on dump trucks."

Now that makes a lot of sense to me. Communication is important for us people - so I guess it is important for them birds! But we can learn something here from our feathered friends. Think with me for a moment about marriages. Having been married myself for almost 29 years (our anniversary is next Sunday - which is also Mother's Day AND the day after my daugher Kate's college graduation which is the day after her birthday - not to mention a wedding that I am officiating down in Virgina next Saturday evening!) and having observed other marriages, all of us could use a little help in this area of communication. And just as communication is vital in Birdland, it is even more important in marriage. Recently I picked up a book that Sharon and I have begun reading together. It is already helping us in this vital area. The title is Men Are Like Waffles--Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences. I recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself. If you apply its principles, I think you will be hearing your spouse (and being heard by your spouse) much more clearly!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Honoring the Aged Among Us!

All Rose Morat wanted to do that morning was to walk to church. So the 101 year old grabbed her walker and shuffled out of her apartment. As she approached the church building, 44 year old Jack Rhodes approached her and offered to help her into the church. Just as they got to the door to the church's vestibule, Rhodes put Rose in a head lock and punched her three times in the face. He then grabbed her purse. When Rose also grabbed for her purse, he punched her again and pushed her to the ground. Rhodes made off with $33 in cash and Rose's apartment keys. Fortunately all this was captured by a surveillance camera which led authorites to Rhodes (who had been accused in the past for attacking an 85 year old woman). Rose suffered a broken cheekbone.

When I first read this news account, I read in disbelief. How can anyone attack a woman over 100 years of age? Apparently Rhodes could! But what I see here is simply a symptom of a deeper problem in our society - and that is a decreasing respect for the older among us. Our culture is so youth oriented that we have lost sight of the value of the aged in our society. God, however, has a far different view of senior adults. Proverbs 16:31 reads, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life" and Proverbs 20:29 tells us that "the glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old."

Let us as a community of Christ-followers buck this trend in our society. Let's learn to honor the aged among us!
Thanks for listening,

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.

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.