PJ

PJ

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Thought For Your Weekend

This morning as I was doing some devotional reading in one of my favorite books, I came across the following words. Read them ... think about them ... apply them to yourself.

"The point is this: We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for lessor things, everything is disordered. The sun of God's glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center." (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, p. 21).

Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Death WILL Come Calling!



Yesterday, I googled the word, "death" and came up with over 390 million hits! The first site listed was http://www.deathclock.com/. Curious, I went to the site. Once there I found out that by entering some pertinent personal information (like date of birth, gender, Body Mass Index, etc.) the site would calculate my personal date of death. So, with some hesitation, I entered all the data, clicked "check your death clock" and waited. After what seemed like hours (which I am sure were just seconds) my date came up. I sure was relieved to see the date, December 22, 2029. But then I looked at my calendar and realized that is just 22 years away! Gulp. I was hoping for at least another thirty!

Now of course, there is no way this clock can be sure. All it is doing is going on statistics relative to length of life (to prove this, I did all the same data and changed my gender. If I were a woman I could count on living an additional 6 years - all because women on average live longer than men!). But there is one thing that is "dead" certain - all of us will one day die (unless the Lord Jesus returns for us before hand!). Statistics tell us that one out of every one dies! The Bible reveals to us the reason we all will die. In Romans 6:23 we are told that "the wages of sin is death." And since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) therefore all of us will die. So even though none of us know when death will come calling -- all of us know death will come. No matter how much we might try to deny or escape or delay this fact -- death will come. For the follower of Jesus, death is not something to fear! Jesus himself has conquered death, freeing us from its grip and its fear (see Hebrews 2:14-15). This is why the Apostle Paul states with such passion in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now That's Some Piece of Real Estate!

Not too long ago, my wife and I were taking a walk when we came upon this sign. After reading the sign, I checked with my wife to see if she thought we should make an offer. An acre of real estate for just $1.7 million - sounds like a real deal! However, our credit card's spending limit was not quite enough!

The old saying that with real estate it's all about location, location, location - is definitely true. The acre being advertised for sale in this sign is located on the waterfront in Bar Harbor, Maine. Definitely a prime location! And if I had the financial capacity to do so, I would possibly think seriously about making an offer. It is incredibly beautiful in that part of Maine! (I wonder if they would accept an even million? Hmm...)

Now as valuable as this piece of property is - there is real estate far more valuable. In fact, the real estate I am thinking of is "out of this world!" It is the real estate of heaven (yes, heaven is a real place - just as real, if not more so, than that acre of waterfront property in Bar Harbor!). If you have not read the Bible's most complete description of heaven recently, let me encourage you to read the final two chapters of the Bible (Revelation 21-22). I just read it and WOW! I am more than ready to go there!). But unlike the acre in Bar Harbor, the real estate of heaven is not for sale! It has already been paid for -- by the blood of Jesus Christ. How about YOU? Are YOU trusting in Christ's sacrifice (and his sacrifice alone) to gain your entrance into this wonderful eternal place called Heaven? Jesus is indeed the ONLY way (see John 14:1-6).

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sunday Evening at the Emmys

This past Sunday evening (at least I think it was Sunday), television handed out its annual Emmy awards. One winner, comedienne Kathy Griffin said the following as part of her acceptance speech: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus ... This award is my god now."

Bottom line, Griffin spoke blasphemy (now there is a word you don't hear much of any more - but it is a word that occurs some 3 dozen times in the Bible!). According to the Bible, it is Jesus who is holding this entire universe together by the power of HIS word (see Hebrews 1:3; also Acts 17:28 declares that it is in God that "we move an live and have our being"). So Jesus in fact DID have something to do with Griffin winning her award (because the last time I checked, you had to be alive and acting or performing in some way in television to win an Emmy).

In mocking Jesus, Griffin was hoping to be offensive. Really? Yes! After the winning the award, she was asked by a reporter about her speech. Among other things, she told him, "I hope I offended some people. I didn't want to win the Emmy for nothing." Well Griffin succeeded. She offended many (a number of the major media outlets edited out this remark). But she had better worry about the One who bore the greatest offense. Judgment day is coming (Hebrews 9:27). And if she continues down her current path, only death and destruction await her (Proverbs 16:25).

Will you join me in praying today for Kathy Griffin and countless others who need to repent of their sinful rebellion against God and receive the free gift of salvation in Christ?


Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flashback to November 2005 Post: A Lesson from The Family Circus

I don’t know about you, but I love the cartoon family of Bill Keane. Perhaps it is because his “keane” sense of humor is just as keen as mine! In a recent cartoon, little Billy and his younger brother are watching squirrels scampering about gathering acorns from the ground. Billy says to his brother, "Look at those squirrels. They’re real busy and they have nuttin’ to do!”

How many of us are real busy doing “nuttin?” We scurry from one activity to the next while accomplishing little if anything for God and His Kingdom. I encourage you to take some time out and evaluate your life. Time is too valuable a resource to waste and Jesus just may come back sooner than any of us think! So let’s seize the moment and live it for Jesus! Before your time of evaluation pray these words: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day!),

pj

Monday, September 17, 2007

Up, Up and Away - The Price of Oil Hits New High!

It was just last week that the price of oil briefly topped $80 a barrel before slipping back below the $80 mark. I just noticed that today the price of oil futures are once again selling for over $80 a barrel. Now I am not an economist. I never took a college class in economics. Never read a book on economics. I don't claim to understand how our economy works. So when I read that the reason for the rise in the price of oil is on "expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut the benchmark federal funds rate, a move the market expects will support the economy and ensure its thirst for oil and gasoline," I am somewhat perplexed. But then I remember two summers ago when Katrina was forecast to head into the Gulf of Mexico (where off shore oil rigs abound and where oil refineries dot the coast) the price of oil rose on the expectation that some of these oil rigs and refineries could be destroyed or at least put out of action for some time. And then there was the time that it was feared that the United States might use military force to "encourage" Iran to back off its nuclear program. Once again, based on this expectation (and the fact that Iran is a major exporter of world oil), oil prices rose! (I always wonder why it does not seem like oil prices drop when these expectations fail to be realized!??!).

Well, I don't think I will ever fully understand the whole futures market thing (whether oil or natural gas or grain or whatever the commodity). But I do find it fascinating how expectations of the future impact the price of doing business in the present!

As followers of Christ, we have a certain expectation of the future that SHOULD be impacting how we live out our lives right here and right now. The apostle John understood this when he wrote, "And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28). Jesus IS coming back! And he is coming back for us (see John 14:1-3). If this is so (and it is an expectation we SHOULD hold based on the clear teaching of the Bible) - then we should live NOW in the "way of Jesus" so that THEN (when he comes back for us) we will avoid being embarrassed and ashamed. How about YOU? Are you living today, right now with the ever present expectation that one day (maybe even today!) Jesus is coming back for YOU?
Thanks for listening,
pj

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Thot for Your Day from C.S. Lewis and King Solomon


"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
"I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has . . . set eternity in their heart." (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The World Turned Upside Down!

Does the name David W. Coterel sound familiar? If you have read a newspaper this week or watched a television newscast, you probably recognize the name. Coterel, a retired auto worker from Indiana along with his two adult children, claimed one of the largest lottery jackpots in history. Their winning Powerball jackpot totaled a measly $314 million! His comment to reporters after coming forward to claim the prize? "I know the world is going to turn upside down." And for him and his son and daughter, he's probably right. And if he is thinking all that money will bring him lasting happiness, he is ripe for a rude awakening (but that is a topic for another posting!).

There is coming a day, though, when "the world is going to turn upside down." And not just for a few people - but for everyone! 2 Peter 3:10 tells us that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." You talk about the world being turned upside down!

Now we don't know just when the day of the Lord will come. But when it does come, it will come suddenly and at a time that we do not expect (just as a thief comes suddenly and unexpectedly). So are YOU ready? If you are not a follower of Jesus, then to get ready you need to come to God on HIS terms: admitting your sin - your rebellion against the God who made you; believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin; and committing your life to follow Jesus - turning from your sin (the Bible calls this repentance) and choosing to love Jesus. If you have already made this faith commitment, then to be ready you must heed what Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 3:11, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives." Well? How about it? Have you made a faith commitment to Jesus as your savior? And if you have, are you living a holy and godly life???

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11/2001

Yes, it is hard to believe that the horrific terrorist attacks against the United States occurred six years ago! September 11, 2001 is one of those moments that most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers being hit (and then the Pentagon ... and then the events involving United Flight 93). I can remember that as those dark events unfolded, suddenly Americans from all walks of life began to get serious about what I would consider life's priorities. But did this change last? Author Ellen Vaughn in her recent book, Time Peace, says this about 9/11 and its aftermath:

"September 11 was a Black Plague moment. In its smoking ruins, life's brevity and priorities suddenly became clear. Americans realized anew the gift of time - wonderful, glorious time. It was a nationwide wake-up call. Many people did wake up. Many stopped their time-crunched rat race for "more" and instead pursued relationships with family, friends, and God. Many prayed hard, Many reassessed their lives and made significant changes for good. Many realized that life is not about excessive acquisition and consumption, but love and service. But like the Black Plague, September 11 itself did not fundamentally change human nature. There was no great cultural shift in American life. Church attendance spiked right after the attacks, but soon dropped back to pre 9/11 levels. Our national conversation today just does not seem to center on life's brevity, its blessings, the priority of family and friends (and she goes on to point out our cultural land marks that show this to be the case - and there are many!)."

I see Vaughn's assessment as being a "bull's eye!" And we who follow Jesus must be careful not to get swept up in our society's drive for "MORE!" This morning I prayed the words of Psalm 37:4 - "When I delight myself in You, you will give me the desires of my heart." Let me encourage you to make Psalm 37:4 a cry of your heart - today and EVERYDAY!


Thanks for listening,


pj

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Why Church?

As I write these words, it's Sunday morning and I am sitting at my computer in my office in our church's facility. I almost wrote, "in my office at church," but that would not really be accurate. This building in which I am comfortably sitting is not my church, although the building is "owned" by my church (of course, in reality it like EVERYTHING else is owned by God - but that is a topic for another post!). This building, built in three phases (1980, 1991, 2003) was constructed to facilitate the mission and ministry of our church. That is why I referred to it in my opening sentence as "our church's FACILITY." So this building exists merely as a tool to assist our church in fulfilling our mission .... and just what is our mission?

I have been doing a lot of thinking on that lately ... and as I see it, our church is here to first and foremost GLORIFY GOD! He is what life is all about. We were made for HIM (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:16, 18) and we were saved for HIM (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And just how are we to best glorify the God who made us and then went on to rescue us from our sin and rebellion against Him? For starters by obeying the GREAT COMMANDMENTS which tell us we must LOVE GOD with all we are and have and LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). In addition, we must also strive to fulfill the GREAT COMMISSION which Jesus mandated for us His Church. This commission tells us that we must be seeking to make disciples of all nations! And Jesus, who has all authority, promises to be with us as we seek to reach this world for Him!

So there you have it ... as I sit in this wonderful office -- I am reminded on this particular Sunday that this office is here to help me and my church glorify God by loving Him, loving others and reaching our world for Jesus!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This Do to Remember Me!

One of my favorite movies is Dances with Wolves, starring Kevin Costner. It is a story of how a Civil War hero (Lt. John Dunbar), struggling in dealing with his new found fame, opts for assignment to the American frontier. Upon arriving at his post, he finds it deserted and in disrepair. He sets about to fix things up. Soon, he is visited by Indians from the local tribe. That begins a long process toward a lasting friendship between him and the Indians. In the film's powerful closing scene, Dunbar and his new wife (a white woman raised by the Indians) are forced to separate from the tribe. From high above the valley through which Costner and his wife (Stands with a Fist) are traveling, comes the cry of his best Indian friend (Wind in His Hair), "Know that I will always be your friend! Know that I will always be your friend!"

Wind in His Hair wanted John Dunbar to know that he would never be forgotten! Wind in His Hair understood that sometimes this can happen. In the busyness of life and the ongoing press of demands - it can be easy to forget people - even those who are most important to us. Jesus Christ also understood this, so he left for us a ritual to practice. We call it communion or the Lord's Supper. When Jesus instituted this practice (a.k.a. "ordinance") with his disciples, he said to them, "Do this in remembrance of me!" So every time we practice communion, it is to help us remember Jesus Christ. Let me encourage you to join in this practice the next time you have the opportunity to do so - whether here at Grace or with your own local body of believers. It is indeed a great way to remember Jesus!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seeking the Oval Office

In case you have missed it, there is an election coming up in November. Candidates from both parties are hot on the campaign trail, all desiring to convince their party's faithful that they are the best candidate for the job (and this campaigning has been going on for quite some time). The election I am referring to is the upcoming election for President. However, this election does not take place this coming November, but November of 2008. So all this hubbub over an election that is still 14 months or 61 weeks or 432 days or 10,368 hours away! What will the campaigning be like next year at this time? Downright unbearable if you ask me! But then again, who's asking?

I have always wondered why anyone would want to become President of the United States. For starters, there will always be approximately half the population that the President will never please. In addition, any privacy one enjoyed prior to becoming President is gone forever! The pressure to perform is relentless, and the daily stress must be unimaginable. Yet, intelligent (for the most part!) people work tirelessly in their effort to gain the right to sit in the Oval Office. Each one has their motivations, and I will not speculate as to what they might be.

But when it comes to leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ, the New Testament makes it clear as to what one's motivation to serve must be. The Apostle Peter puts it this way, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:1-4).


Thanks for listening,

pj

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Sponsored by the Central Labor Union, it was intended to recognize the contributions of American workers. Soon the celebration of the holiday spread, and in 1894 Congress passed a bill making the first Monday of September a legal holiday.

As you celebrate your Labor Day holiday, keep these words from God's Word in mind: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28). This is a good reminder to us who live in such a consumer minded culture - we should labor NOT so we can buy more things that we may want - but rather we should work so that we may have something to share with those in need around us! Now that's a radical thought!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Thought For Your Weekend

This morning as I was doing some devotional reading in one of my favorite books, I came across the following words. Read them ... think about them ... apply them to yourself.

"The point is this: We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for lessor things, everything is disordered. The sun of God's glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center." (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, p. 21).

Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Death WILL Come Calling!



Yesterday, I googled the word, "death" and came up with over 390 million hits! The first site listed was http://www.deathclock.com/. Curious, I went to the site. Once there I found out that by entering some pertinent personal information (like date of birth, gender, Body Mass Index, etc.) the site would calculate my personal date of death. So, with some hesitation, I entered all the data, clicked "check your death clock" and waited. After what seemed like hours (which I am sure were just seconds) my date came up. I sure was relieved to see the date, December 22, 2029. But then I looked at my calendar and realized that is just 22 years away! Gulp. I was hoping for at least another thirty!

Now of course, there is no way this clock can be sure. All it is doing is going on statistics relative to length of life (to prove this, I did all the same data and changed my gender. If I were a woman I could count on living an additional 6 years - all because women on average live longer than men!). But there is one thing that is "dead" certain - all of us will one day die (unless the Lord Jesus returns for us before hand!). Statistics tell us that one out of every one dies! The Bible reveals to us the reason we all will die. In Romans 6:23 we are told that "the wages of sin is death." And since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) therefore all of us will die. So even though none of us know when death will come calling -- all of us know death will come. No matter how much we might try to deny or escape or delay this fact -- death will come. For the follower of Jesus, death is not something to fear! Jesus himself has conquered death, freeing us from its grip and its fear (see Hebrews 2:14-15). This is why the Apostle Paul states with such passion in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now That's Some Piece of Real Estate!

Not too long ago, my wife and I were taking a walk when we came upon this sign. After reading the sign, I checked with my wife to see if she thought we should make an offer. An acre of real estate for just $1.7 million - sounds like a real deal! However, our credit card's spending limit was not quite enough!

The old saying that with real estate it's all about location, location, location - is definitely true. The acre being advertised for sale in this sign is located on the waterfront in Bar Harbor, Maine. Definitely a prime location! And if I had the financial capacity to do so, I would possibly think seriously about making an offer. It is incredibly beautiful in that part of Maine! (I wonder if they would accept an even million? Hmm...)

Now as valuable as this piece of property is - there is real estate far more valuable. In fact, the real estate I am thinking of is "out of this world!" It is the real estate of heaven (yes, heaven is a real place - just as real, if not more so, than that acre of waterfront property in Bar Harbor!). If you have not read the Bible's most complete description of heaven recently, let me encourage you to read the final two chapters of the Bible (Revelation 21-22). I just read it and WOW! I am more than ready to go there!). But unlike the acre in Bar Harbor, the real estate of heaven is not for sale! It has already been paid for -- by the blood of Jesus Christ. How about YOU? Are YOU trusting in Christ's sacrifice (and his sacrifice alone) to gain your entrance into this wonderful eternal place called Heaven? Jesus is indeed the ONLY way (see John 14:1-6).

Thanks for listening,

pj

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sunday Evening at the Emmys

This past Sunday evening (at least I think it was Sunday), television handed out its annual Emmy awards. One winner, comedienne Kathy Griffin said the following as part of her acceptance speech: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus ... This award is my god now."

Bottom line, Griffin spoke blasphemy (now there is a word you don't hear much of any more - but it is a word that occurs some 3 dozen times in the Bible!). According to the Bible, it is Jesus who is holding this entire universe together by the power of HIS word (see Hebrews 1:3; also Acts 17:28 declares that it is in God that "we move an live and have our being"). So Jesus in fact DID have something to do with Griffin winning her award (because the last time I checked, you had to be alive and acting or performing in some way in television to win an Emmy).

In mocking Jesus, Griffin was hoping to be offensive. Really? Yes! After the winning the award, she was asked by a reporter about her speech. Among other things, she told him, "I hope I offended some people. I didn't want to win the Emmy for nothing." Well Griffin succeeded. She offended many (a number of the major media outlets edited out this remark). But she had better worry about the One who bore the greatest offense. Judgment day is coming (Hebrews 9:27). And if she continues down her current path, only death and destruction await her (Proverbs 16:25).

Will you join me in praying today for Kathy Griffin and countless others who need to repent of their sinful rebellion against God and receive the free gift of salvation in Christ?


Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flashback to November 2005 Post: A Lesson from The Family Circus

I don’t know about you, but I love the cartoon family of Bill Keane. Perhaps it is because his “keane” sense of humor is just as keen as mine! In a recent cartoon, little Billy and his younger brother are watching squirrels scampering about gathering acorns from the ground. Billy says to his brother, "Look at those squirrels. They’re real busy and they have nuttin’ to do!”

How many of us are real busy doing “nuttin?” We scurry from one activity to the next while accomplishing little if anything for God and His Kingdom. I encourage you to take some time out and evaluate your life. Time is too valuable a resource to waste and Jesus just may come back sooner than any of us think! So let’s seize the moment and live it for Jesus! Before your time of evaluation pray these words: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day!),

pj

Monday, September 17, 2007

Up, Up and Away - The Price of Oil Hits New High!

It was just last week that the price of oil briefly topped $80 a barrel before slipping back below the $80 mark. I just noticed that today the price of oil futures are once again selling for over $80 a barrel. Now I am not an economist. I never took a college class in economics. Never read a book on economics. I don't claim to understand how our economy works. So when I read that the reason for the rise in the price of oil is on "expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut the benchmark federal funds rate, a move the market expects will support the economy and ensure its thirst for oil and gasoline," I am somewhat perplexed. But then I remember two summers ago when Katrina was forecast to head into the Gulf of Mexico (where off shore oil rigs abound and where oil refineries dot the coast) the price of oil rose on the expectation that some of these oil rigs and refineries could be destroyed or at least put out of action for some time. And then there was the time that it was feared that the United States might use military force to "encourage" Iran to back off its nuclear program. Once again, based on this expectation (and the fact that Iran is a major exporter of world oil), oil prices rose! (I always wonder why it does not seem like oil prices drop when these expectations fail to be realized!??!).

Well, I don't think I will ever fully understand the whole futures market thing (whether oil or natural gas or grain or whatever the commodity). But I do find it fascinating how expectations of the future impact the price of doing business in the present!

As followers of Christ, we have a certain expectation of the future that SHOULD be impacting how we live out our lives right here and right now. The apostle John understood this when he wrote, "And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28). Jesus IS coming back! And he is coming back for us (see John 14:1-3). If this is so (and it is an expectation we SHOULD hold based on the clear teaching of the Bible) - then we should live NOW in the "way of Jesus" so that THEN (when he comes back for us) we will avoid being embarrassed and ashamed. How about YOU? Are you living today, right now with the ever present expectation that one day (maybe even today!) Jesus is coming back for YOU?
Thanks for listening,
pj

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Thot for Your Day from C.S. Lewis and King Solomon


"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
"I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has . . . set eternity in their heart." (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The World Turned Upside Down!

Does the name David W. Coterel sound familiar? If you have read a newspaper this week or watched a television newscast, you probably recognize the name. Coterel, a retired auto worker from Indiana along with his two adult children, claimed one of the largest lottery jackpots in history. Their winning Powerball jackpot totaled a measly $314 million! His comment to reporters after coming forward to claim the prize? "I know the world is going to turn upside down." And for him and his son and daughter, he's probably right. And if he is thinking all that money will bring him lasting happiness, he is ripe for a rude awakening (but that is a topic for another posting!).

There is coming a day, though, when "the world is going to turn upside down." And not just for a few people - but for everyone! 2 Peter 3:10 tells us that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." You talk about the world being turned upside down!

Now we don't know just when the day of the Lord will come. But when it does come, it will come suddenly and at a time that we do not expect (just as a thief comes suddenly and unexpectedly). So are YOU ready? If you are not a follower of Jesus, then to get ready you need to come to God on HIS terms: admitting your sin - your rebellion against the God who made you; believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin; and committing your life to follow Jesus - turning from your sin (the Bible calls this repentance) and choosing to love Jesus. If you have already made this faith commitment, then to be ready you must heed what Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 3:11, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives." Well? How about it? Have you made a faith commitment to Jesus as your savior? And if you have, are you living a holy and godly life???

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11/2001

Yes, it is hard to believe that the horrific terrorist attacks against the United States occurred six years ago! September 11, 2001 is one of those moments that most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the Twin Towers being hit (and then the Pentagon ... and then the events involving United Flight 93). I can remember that as those dark events unfolded, suddenly Americans from all walks of life began to get serious about what I would consider life's priorities. But did this change last? Author Ellen Vaughn in her recent book, Time Peace, says this about 9/11 and its aftermath:

"September 11 was a Black Plague moment. In its smoking ruins, life's brevity and priorities suddenly became clear. Americans realized anew the gift of time - wonderful, glorious time. It was a nationwide wake-up call. Many people did wake up. Many stopped their time-crunched rat race for "more" and instead pursued relationships with family, friends, and God. Many prayed hard, Many reassessed their lives and made significant changes for good. Many realized that life is not about excessive acquisition and consumption, but love and service. But like the Black Plague, September 11 itself did not fundamentally change human nature. There was no great cultural shift in American life. Church attendance spiked right after the attacks, but soon dropped back to pre 9/11 levels. Our national conversation today just does not seem to center on life's brevity, its blessings, the priority of family and friends (and she goes on to point out our cultural land marks that show this to be the case - and there are many!)."

I see Vaughn's assessment as being a "bull's eye!" And we who follow Jesus must be careful not to get swept up in our society's drive for "MORE!" This morning I prayed the words of Psalm 37:4 - "When I delight myself in You, you will give me the desires of my heart." Let me encourage you to make Psalm 37:4 a cry of your heart - today and EVERYDAY!


Thanks for listening,


pj

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Why Church?

As I write these words, it's Sunday morning and I am sitting at my computer in my office in our church's facility. I almost wrote, "in my office at church," but that would not really be accurate. This building in which I am comfortably sitting is not my church, although the building is "owned" by my church (of course, in reality it like EVERYTHING else is owned by God - but that is a topic for another post!). This building, built in three phases (1980, 1991, 2003) was constructed to facilitate the mission and ministry of our church. That is why I referred to it in my opening sentence as "our church's FACILITY." So this building exists merely as a tool to assist our church in fulfilling our mission .... and just what is our mission?

I have been doing a lot of thinking on that lately ... and as I see it, our church is here to first and foremost GLORIFY GOD! He is what life is all about. We were made for HIM (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:16, 18) and we were saved for HIM (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And just how are we to best glorify the God who made us and then went on to rescue us from our sin and rebellion against Him? For starters by obeying the GREAT COMMANDMENTS which tell us we must LOVE GOD with all we are and have and LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). In addition, we must also strive to fulfill the GREAT COMMISSION which Jesus mandated for us His Church. This commission tells us that we must be seeking to make disciples of all nations! And Jesus, who has all authority, promises to be with us as we seek to reach this world for Him!

So there you have it ... as I sit in this wonderful office -- I am reminded on this particular Sunday that this office is here to help me and my church glorify God by loving Him, loving others and reaching our world for Jesus!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This Do to Remember Me!

One of my favorite movies is Dances with Wolves, starring Kevin Costner. It is a story of how a Civil War hero (Lt. John Dunbar), struggling in dealing with his new found fame, opts for assignment to the American frontier. Upon arriving at his post, he finds it deserted and in disrepair. He sets about to fix things up. Soon, he is visited by Indians from the local tribe. That begins a long process toward a lasting friendship between him and the Indians. In the film's powerful closing scene, Dunbar and his new wife (a white woman raised by the Indians) are forced to separate from the tribe. From high above the valley through which Costner and his wife (Stands with a Fist) are traveling, comes the cry of his best Indian friend (Wind in His Hair), "Know that I will always be your friend! Know that I will always be your friend!"

Wind in His Hair wanted John Dunbar to know that he would never be forgotten! Wind in His Hair understood that sometimes this can happen. In the busyness of life and the ongoing press of demands - it can be easy to forget people - even those who are most important to us. Jesus Christ also understood this, so he left for us a ritual to practice. We call it communion or the Lord's Supper. When Jesus instituted this practice (a.k.a. "ordinance") with his disciples, he said to them, "Do this in remembrance of me!" So every time we practice communion, it is to help us remember Jesus Christ. Let me encourage you to join in this practice the next time you have the opportunity to do so - whether here at Grace or with your own local body of believers. It is indeed a great way to remember Jesus!

Thanks for listening,

pj

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seeking the Oval Office

In case you have missed it, there is an election coming up in November. Candidates from both parties are hot on the campaign trail, all desiring to convince their party's faithful that they are the best candidate for the job (and this campaigning has been going on for quite some time). The election I am referring to is the upcoming election for President. However, this election does not take place this coming November, but November of 2008. So all this hubbub over an election that is still 14 months or 61 weeks or 432 days or 10,368 hours away! What will the campaigning be like next year at this time? Downright unbearable if you ask me! But then again, who's asking?

I have always wondered why anyone would want to become President of the United States. For starters, there will always be approximately half the population that the President will never please. In addition, any privacy one enjoyed prior to becoming President is gone forever! The pressure to perform is relentless, and the daily stress must be unimaginable. Yet, intelligent (for the most part!) people work tirelessly in their effort to gain the right to sit in the Oval Office. Each one has their motivations, and I will not speculate as to what they might be.

But when it comes to leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ, the New Testament makes it clear as to what one's motivation to serve must be. The Apostle Peter puts it this way, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:1-4).


Thanks for listening,

pj

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Sponsored by the Central Labor Union, it was intended to recognize the contributions of American workers. Soon the celebration of the holiday spread, and in 1894 Congress passed a bill making the first Monday of September a legal holiday.

As you celebrate your Labor Day holiday, keep these words from God's Word in mind: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28). This is a good reminder to us who live in such a consumer minded culture - we should labor NOT so we can buy more things that we may want - but rather we should work so that we may have something to share with those in need around us! Now that's a radical thought!

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.