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Showing posts from October, 2007

Indiana Wants Me!

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Well, Indiana wants me ... more specifically, Grace College/Seminary wants me. I was recently elected to the Board of Trustees for Grace and the fall board meetings start tomorrow in the teeming metropolis of Winona Lake, Indiana. So I will be out of the office through Sunday and more than likely not posting to my blog. Please pray for me and the other board members as we meet to discuss the work of Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. I know I cannot contribute as a new trustee (or even should I become a long-term trustee for that matter) without God's help. Thanks so much for praying!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Our Spiritual Growth - A Final Word

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Before I leave the topic of spiritual growth, I want to leave you with one other thought. This thought flows out of the following text: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:12-13).

In this text we see two apparently contradictory truths. In v. 12 Paul tells us that we must continue (never stop) to work out our salvation. He isn't telling us to work FOR our salvation. That would contradict what he says elsewhere about salvation being UNEARNED on our part (see Ephesians 2:8-9 for example). What he is saying here is that we need to always be striving to work our salvation OUT into every area of our life - like when you add an ingredient when you are making a cake and you stir the cake batter to make sure the ingredient gets worked throughout the e…

So When Are You Going to Grow Up?

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Recently I had a couple of conversations with people (now that is a profound statement - I mean who else do I converse with? The frogs and gold fish in my garden pond? The birds who roost in my back yard birch trees?). Let me start over ... Recently I had a couple of interesting conversations concerning teens growing into adults. These talks basically concluded (based on my observation and the observations of the other PEOPLE in the conversations) that young people are not maturing as fast as once was the case (and by maturing we were not talking about physical maturity - but rather a maturity that results in a degree of responsibility that is able to care for the various demands of life).

Today, as I was doing some Internet research, I stumbled across a book that sets forth this very same premise. The book, titled The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization (published in August 2007) contains some very interesting and soberin…

Growing Up! Key #4

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Across the course of the past dozen years, both of my parents and my father-in law have died of cancer. Not all that suprising, considering that cancer trails only heart disease as the leading cause of death among American adults. It is no wonder that the last word any patient wants to hear from his or her doctor is the dreaded "C" word!

In the spiritual realm, there is something that is just as devastating as cancer is in the physical arena. It is sin. However, sin is not something that is talked about at all in our culture any more. In fact, New Testament scholar D. A. Carson commented that the most frustrating aspect of doing evangelism on university campuses is that most students have no idea of sin. According to Carson, "They know how to sin well enough, but they have no idea of what constitutes sin." And the sad reality is that the idea of sin is also disappearing from many churches as well. In the church's drive to be "seeker sensitive," many ha…

Growing up! Key #3

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Back in August, my wife and I enjoyed several days hiking through Acadia National Park in Maine. On one of those days, standing on the summit of Cadillac Mountain, I pulled out our binoculars to view the various boats out in the harbor. As I peered into the binocs, instead of seeing the boats "up close and personal" - they appeared even smaller and further away than they appeared to the naked eye. Duh! I was looking through the wrong end of the binocs!

Hmm. I think when it comes to our view of God, we often look at him through the wrong end of the binocs. Instead of seeing God as the almighty King of the Universe, we see a god of pygmy proportions. This brings me to this third key to spiritual growth: A HIGH VIEW OF GOD. Far too many Christians have a view of God that is way too small! And as J. I. Packer writes, if our view of God is that of pygmy proportions, then we "cannot hope to end up as more than pygmy Christians." We live in a world in which man is exalted …

Growing Up! Key #2

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Yesterday I discussed what I see as the #1 key to spiritual growth: interaction with God's Word (and by interaction I mean gaining knowledge that translates into action). If we are not in the Bible on a regular (read regular as DAILY) basis and then applying what we learn to our lives, we are in effect starving our souls as we keep from them the spiritual nourishment that they need to grow. Just remember this "rule of thumb": little interaction with the Bible, little spiritual growth; much interaction with the Bible, much spiritual growth.

Enough for key #1. Here is key #2: DISCIPLINE. In 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 the Apostle Paul urges Timothy (and by extension, us) to "train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." The Greek word translated "train" is the word from which we get our English words "gymnasium" and "gymnasti…

Growing Up! Key #1

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When I was born over 52 years ago as the second of twin boys, I tipped the scales at just over 5 pounds. This morning I got on my scales at home and saw the numbers .... well that is too personal to share - sorry! But I will say the number staring back at me was a LOT HIGHER a number than the number five! But that's OK - because we are expected to put on weight as we grow (but alas, I've had the tendency to put on a little bit too many pounds!).


This week I am talking about growing in our spiritual lives. I want to share with you several keys to spiritual growth. Here is Key #1: If we are really serious about growing in our faith - then we will get really serious about our Bibles. Neither you nor I nor any follower of Christ can grow very much if we spend little time in God's Word. This is why Peter urges his readers to "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" (1 Peter 2:2). The Scripture is what God will u…

Babies and Guns (And I Am not Talking "Play!")

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Bubba Ludwig can't walk or talk, but he can legally own a gun in the state of Illinois. The 10-month-old baby was issued a firearm owner's identification card after his father paid the required $5 fee and filled out the application, not expecting to actually get one. The application lists Bubba's height at 2 feet 3 inches and displays a scribble on the signature line. All this occurred because Bubba's grandfather had purchased him a 12 gauge shotgun for Bubba to use once he reaches hunting age. Crazy, huh? Yet all perfectly legit as there are no age restrictions on gun ownership in Illinois.

What makes this story so bizarre is that we usually do not associate a 12 gauge shotgun with a ten month-old baby! When we think of babies, we usually think of diapers and pacifiers, car seats and rattles! Real guns (of any gauge or type) are not the usual components of "babyhood!"
Yesterday, I got to hold a baby who is less than a week old. Wow! How small, how fragile. Yet…

A Thought for Your Weekend

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"God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually." (Paul. W. Powell as quoted by Charles Swindoll, The Strength of Character). Wow! This is a powerful quote - and especially needed for us Christ-followers here in our culture which places such a high value on personal comfort and convenience! Thanks for stopping by, pj

Another "Blog Flashback"

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I posted the following post back in July 2005. I thought it was worth repeating.



A Surprise Visitor

It had been 16 years since we had last seen her. She was a fellow home schooler in the days we lived in the Pittsburgh area. Her kids and our kids sometimes played together. Out of the blue, she called yesterday. She had dropped off a son at a camp in Reading, then drove to Willow Street. She called us from the Weis Market. Of course, we invited her over. She could only stay a short time - and we made the most of it. We (mainly Sharon) caught up on her family - she on ours. Sharon and I were saddened to hear that her husband had died two years ago from cancer (at the age of 53). With two of her kids still in high school, things have not been easy for her.

After she left, I was struck at the effort she made to come see us - knowing that the visit would be brief. Obviously, she felt a need to see us, even though I would not have called us the best of friends. But people need people. It's…

Talk About Amazing!

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This past weekend, the Rubik's Cube championship was held in Budapest Hungary. For many of us this multi-colored cube puzzle has been just that - a real puzzle. I don't know how many times I have tried to line up all the colors - but I do know how many times I was successful (would you believe a big fat zero?). I guess that is why I am amazed at the weekend's results, among which include the following: the fastest time to solve the puzzle: 9.86 seconds. The fastest one handed time: 21.13 seconds (average of five tries). The fastest time to solve the cube using only one's feet: 49.33. And for me the most amazing figure was the best time turned in by a BLINDFOLDED competitor: 1 minute, 7 seconds! And I can't even solve the cube with both eyes open, both hands working, and taking my good old time! In my book, these guys are amazing!


There is no doubt, as I said earlier - for most of us, the Rubik's Cube is a complex puzzle. But so is life. In our fast paced, ever c…

Think about This!

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I read a quote this morning that really got me thinking. It is from the pen of C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock). Lewis writes, "Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."

He is absolutely right on with this. Christianity is either true or it isn't. It can't be both. There is no - "If this works for you ... OK then, for you it's true. I just can't buy into it." The truth (or falsehood) of Christianity exists no matter if I or you or anyone else "buys into it" (or doesn't buy into it). Given this (and I realize that many 'postmoderns' out there will not give this to be true - but that is a posting for another day), then what C.S. Lewis says here is of the utmost significance. Many people would say if asked, that God and their Christian faith is fairly (i.e. "moderately") important to them. But as Lewis points out,…

Words of Comfort in the Midst of Days of Difficulty

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Recently I ran across a surgeon whose name was Dr. Payne (pronounced, "PAIN!"). Now how would you feel if you were going into surgery and the surgeon introduced himself to you, "Hello. I am Dr. Payne and I can assure you, that you have nothing to worry about?" Somehow, coming from Dr. Payne - I don't know if I would find much comfort in his words!

We followers of Jesus Christ, however, can find much comfort in the words of the One who has the name that is above all other names (see Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus as Lord of lord and King of kings speaks to us in the midst of our difficulties when he says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). If you are going through some tough times, I trust you will find hope in HIS words!
Thanks for listening,
pj

Staff Day Away

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Usually on a Wednesday morning, our Grace Staff gets together for our weekly staff meeting. We meet from about 9:00 to 10:45. The meeting involves a brief devotional thought, lots of discussion on what's happening (or not happening and should be!) and prayer. Today, however, will not be a routine Wednesday. Our staff is going to experience a "Staff Day Away." This is something that we aim to do about twice a year. We select a site that is away from Willow Street where our church facility is located (but not too far away that it takes forever and a day to get there!). Today we are heading to Black Rock Retreat Center. Black Rock is located about 25 minutes south of here. Once there we will spend the day in the Word, in prayer, and in discussion and goal setting. Our schedule calls for us to depart Black Rock about 3 PM to return to the offices (and then prep for our first Family Night of our fall season!).

Now we get away so we can unplug from all those things that can ten…

The Dead Sea Is Dying!

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The Dead Sea, (a.k.a. the "Sea of Salt"), is a body of water 42 miles long and 11 miles wide and is bounded by Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. It is the lowest point on earth, sitting at 1,378 feet below sea level. With a salinity of 30%, it is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. As such, it is unable to sustain life and therefore the name, "Dead Sea."

Well the Dead Sea is dying. The sea is shrinking at a rate of 3 feet per year. At its current rate of disappearance, it appears that it will be history as early as the year 2050. The primary reason given for this crisis is the diversion of water supplies from the Jordan River, the main source of the Dead Sea's water. Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli authorities are looking at solutions to try to save the Dead Sea (such as piping ocean water in from the Mediterranean Sea to the west - the "Med-Dead" plan - or doing the same from the Red Sea to the south - the "Red-Dead" plan.) Whether…