PJ

PJ

Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back to Look Ahead!

As we wrap up yet another year, let me suggest to you that you spend some time taking a look in your life's rear view mirror. Take some time to evaluate this past year. Look at how you have grown (or not grown) in different areas of your life. Count the many ways that God has blessed you. After this backward look, then take some time to look ahead to the upcoming year. I think we often fail to progress in our faith journey because we fail to reflect and set goals.

To help you, check out Don Whitney's article, "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday." You can download the article at http://biblicalspirituality.org/newyear.html.


May God richly bless you and yours in the upcoming year of 2008! Happy New Year!

Pastor John

Monday, December 24, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


In a world that is full of darkness, I find great comfort in the one who claims to be "the light of the world." Please take a moment and read the following words which open up the Gospel of John. This is what Christmas is truly all about.


The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)


Thanking God for HIS indescribable gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ . . .

pj

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time Mag's "Person of the Year???"


Did you see who Time Magazine chose as its "Person of the Year?" I hope you are sitting down for this one ... Time's choice is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why Putin you might be wondering? According to Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor Putin was chosen because of his "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability." Hmm. Seems to me that Putin's "extraordinary" feats of leadership also include numerous and various human rights violations (which are well documented). Hard for me to understand how the editors of Time can so easily and readily dismiss all the human suffering due to Putin's "extraordinary" leadership. To sum up my thoughts on Time's decision in one word - RIDICULOUS!

I think a much better choice for "Person of the Year" would be Philip Dongre. Philip was born in India and moved to the United States for schooling in the 1980's. He then remained here in the States to represent a ministry located in central India: Boys Christian Home (which in the early 1990's began accepting girls and became Boys and Girls Christian Home). In 2001, he and a group of dedicated Christians began a new ministry for children in Naya Akola, India. In the last several years, this new ministry (Children's Fellowship of India) has grown tremendously. Presently at CFI's growing campus, over 140 boys are fed, clothed, educated, given medical care and most importantly, introduced to Jesus Christ. Philip works and prays with undying enthusiasm and passion for the boys and this ministry. He represents CFI's ministry in churches throughout the northeastern United States, seeking people to sponsor these needy boys. He travels four times a year to India, taking short term missionaries with him. He gives guidance to the ministry staff in India. And in the midst of all the success CFI has experienced, Philip is among one of the most humble men I have ever met.

So Time - you can have your Vladimir Putin as your "Person of the Year." I will take Philip Dongre any day!

Thanks for stopping by,
pj

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh, No! I'm Late!

This morning something happened that does not happen very often - but when it does, I get down right irritated ... at myself! I was late for an early morning appointment. In fact, I had forgotten all about it. Even though I was involved in setting it up and even though it was clearly marked on my calendar (BOTH hard copy and computer) - I simply forgot about it. I did not remember it until I just happened to glance at my calendar and saw it staring back at me. OOPS! Thankfully, that "just happened to glance at my calendar" occurred at 6:10 this morning (the meeting's start time was 6:00) AND thankfully the location was just a few minutes drive from my house. So I finally arrived at the meeting (already in progress) at 6:30. The server greeted me with "Better late than never!" (And all I could think to respond was - "Yes, but better never late!" I was glad that the guys I was meeting with are really forgiving!

Now my guess is that most of you can relate to this incident. All of us from time to time and place to place forget an appointment or are late for a meeting. It happens. And it will most likely happen again. But there is one person whom we can count on. He will never be late for an appointment or forget about a meeting. This perfect person is none other than Jesus Christ. Some where down the road of human history a date is set. On that date Jesus Christ WILL return. He will not forget. He will not be late. We can count on Him. And according to the Bible, his return is imminent. That means it could happen AT ANY TIME. Today? Yes! Tomorrow? Yep! Next year? Absolutely. Knowing this, we MUST all be sure we are ready. The apostle John puts it this way, "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). Are YOU "continuing in him?" Are you a student of the word, seeking to KNOW God's will -- and striving to obey God's will? Only then will we be ready for his certain return!
Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Monday, December 17, 2007

Savor the Moment!

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in the December commencement ceremony at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. Each year, I teach a few courses in the college's Degree Completion Program. As an adjunct faculty member, participation at graduation is optional for me. I opted to participate this time around in response to the request of several of my students. It felt good to be wanted!

At one point during the commencement, the president of LBC, Dr. Peter Teague was congratulating the graduates for their efforts. He told them to "savor the moment." Indeed, it was for them a moment to be savored! They had worked hard. They had sacrificed. Now they were reaping their reward!

Hmm. "Savor the moment!" All too often I fail to do that. So today, I am going to intentionally work on savoring the moment -- those moments when I am reaping God's blessing in my life! Savoring time spent in God's Word - learning about Him and His plan for me and our world. Savoring lunch with my wife and daughter, enjoying their love and laughter. Savoring the friendship I enjoy with my elders here at Grace. Savoring my health which enables me to listen to the Christmas music that I love. Savoring the moment of crawling into a warm bed on a cold night.

My friends, let me encourage each of you to intentionally today (and every day) to "savor the moment" - those moments in which you reap God's many blessings in your life! If you do, I think you will become a far more contented person. And that is a good thing for ALL of us!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gett'n Ready!

A bit later today I will be spending some time getting my snow blower out of storage and prepping it for use (and I surely hope I can get it "up and running!"). Now why am I going to do this today? There is no snow falling from the sky - in fact I see some sunshine, which has been is short supply recently around here! Well, as you probably well know, there is a winter storm heading our way. It may drop quite a bit of snow ... or it may be mainly sleet and freezing rain .... or it may just end up rain. But no matter the end result - I want to be prepared just in case we get several inches of snow! Being prepared is a good thing! (As a boy scout, this concept was DRILLED into my head by my scoutmaster. "Be Prepared" was the motto of the scouts).

This leads me to a question for you to ponder this weekend - Are YOU prepared for whatever life might bring your way? None of us know the future (that is, I believe, a good thing!). But we know the ONE who does know the future. And in HIS Word (the Bible), he has given to us lots of insights for living -- life principles that if we practice, we will be prepared to face - whatever!

So I hope you are spending time getting to know the Bible better -- and remember, God does not want you to merely KNOW the Bible -- he wants you to LIVE the Bible!

Thanks for stopping by,


pj

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BEWARE OF WACKY WARNING LABELS!


As I was out running an errand today, I was catching up on the news courtesy of KYW 1060 news radio out of Philadelphia (I began listening to KYW in college and have been an avid listener ever since). I caught the tail end of a news story about an annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. This contest, now in its eleventh year, is conducted by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch. I was astonished at the content of some product's warning labels. An honorable mention was given for a warning label on a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended." Hmm. I wonder what that manufacturer thought might be in a letter? Third place in the contest was awarded to the manufacturer of a baby stroller featuring a small storage pouch. The stroller included a warning label that warns, "Do not put child in bag." The contest judges gave second place for a a label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: "Do not iron while wearing shirt." And finally the grand prize was given for a warning label on a tractor that read, "Danger: Avoid death!"

OK. I can see why these labels were noted for their wacky warning labels!!! I mean - who in their right mind is going to climb on a tractor and go looking for death! And using an iron on your shirt while you are wearing it? No wonder these warning labels were winners! To call them wacky doesn't quite seem to go far enough!

A lot of people think that the warnings in Scripture are wacky. They see God as some sort of cosmic kill joy who is looking over their shoulder just waiting to squash their fun. But the warnings in the Bible are there for OUR good, to protect us from evil. The sooner we learn that, the better off we will be!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Monday, December 10, 2007

Will Get Back to Blogging Soon!

As soon as I "dig out" from this pile of work that is now sitting on my desk, I will get back to my blog. In the meanwhile, if you want to read a thoughtful blog posting on the new (and controversial) movie The Golden Compass, I suggest you check out the following web address: www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1065. This is a blog posting of Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. in which he discusses this new movie. Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His thoughtful approach is worthy of a read.

"See" you soon!

pj





Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Away for Some R and R!

I am out of town this week for some needed rest and restoration (My wife, Sharon and I are enjoying the history and beauty of Charleston, SC.) Therefore, I have posted a blog posting from the past that I think needs to be read again. It is so easy to get away from the Word!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj


Rain and the Bible

(Originally posted on September 15, 2005)

It began yesterday around 3 PM. I looked out my office window, and there it was, falling from the clouds. Rain! (Note: If I had written this TODAY - I could have said "SNOW!" I regret I am not in Lancaster to enjoy it - not!) I had not seen it for over two weeks. With the grass growing brown and plants beginning to wither, I was glad to see it!

As I thought of the benefits of rain, these words penned by Isaiah the prophet came to mind: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). There is power in the book we call the Bible. It is God’s Word. As such, God sends it to accomplish HIS purposes in our lives. Hmm, I wonder. For those of us who are not seeing God at work in us and through us – could it be due to our lack of interaction with God’s Word? How much time do YOU spend in the Bible?

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back to Look Ahead!

As we wrap up yet another year, let me suggest to you that you spend some time taking a look in your life's rear view mirror. Take some time to evaluate this past year. Look at how you have grown (or not grown) in different areas of your life. Count the many ways that God has blessed you. After this backward look, then take some time to look ahead to the upcoming year. I think we often fail to progress in our faith journey because we fail to reflect and set goals.

To help you, check out Don Whitney's article, "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday." You can download the article at http://biblicalspirituality.org/newyear.html.


May God richly bless you and yours in the upcoming year of 2008! Happy New Year!

Pastor John

Monday, December 24, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


In a world that is full of darkness, I find great comfort in the one who claims to be "the light of the world." Please take a moment and read the following words which open up the Gospel of John. This is what Christmas is truly all about.


The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)


Thanking God for HIS indescribable gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ . . .

pj

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time Mag's "Person of the Year???"


Did you see who Time Magazine chose as its "Person of the Year?" I hope you are sitting down for this one ... Time's choice is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why Putin you might be wondering? According to Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor Putin was chosen because of his "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability." Hmm. Seems to me that Putin's "extraordinary" feats of leadership also include numerous and various human rights violations (which are well documented). Hard for me to understand how the editors of Time can so easily and readily dismiss all the human suffering due to Putin's "extraordinary" leadership. To sum up my thoughts on Time's decision in one word - RIDICULOUS!

I think a much better choice for "Person of the Year" would be Philip Dongre. Philip was born in India and moved to the United States for schooling in the 1980's. He then remained here in the States to represent a ministry located in central India: Boys Christian Home (which in the early 1990's began accepting girls and became Boys and Girls Christian Home). In 2001, he and a group of dedicated Christians began a new ministry for children in Naya Akola, India. In the last several years, this new ministry (Children's Fellowship of India) has grown tremendously. Presently at CFI's growing campus, over 140 boys are fed, clothed, educated, given medical care and most importantly, introduced to Jesus Christ. Philip works and prays with undying enthusiasm and passion for the boys and this ministry. He represents CFI's ministry in churches throughout the northeastern United States, seeking people to sponsor these needy boys. He travels four times a year to India, taking short term missionaries with him. He gives guidance to the ministry staff in India. And in the midst of all the success CFI has experienced, Philip is among one of the most humble men I have ever met.

So Time - you can have your Vladimir Putin as your "Person of the Year." I will take Philip Dongre any day!

Thanks for stopping by,
pj

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh, No! I'm Late!

This morning something happened that does not happen very often - but when it does, I get down right irritated ... at myself! I was late for an early morning appointment. In fact, I had forgotten all about it. Even though I was involved in setting it up and even though it was clearly marked on my calendar (BOTH hard copy and computer) - I simply forgot about it. I did not remember it until I just happened to glance at my calendar and saw it staring back at me. OOPS! Thankfully, that "just happened to glance at my calendar" occurred at 6:10 this morning (the meeting's start time was 6:00) AND thankfully the location was just a few minutes drive from my house. So I finally arrived at the meeting (already in progress) at 6:30. The server greeted me with "Better late than never!" (And all I could think to respond was - "Yes, but better never late!" I was glad that the guys I was meeting with are really forgiving!

Now my guess is that most of you can relate to this incident. All of us from time to time and place to place forget an appointment or are late for a meeting. It happens. And it will most likely happen again. But there is one person whom we can count on. He will never be late for an appointment or forget about a meeting. This perfect person is none other than Jesus Christ. Some where down the road of human history a date is set. On that date Jesus Christ WILL return. He will not forget. He will not be late. We can count on Him. And according to the Bible, his return is imminent. That means it could happen AT ANY TIME. Today? Yes! Tomorrow? Yep! Next year? Absolutely. Knowing this, we MUST all be sure we are ready. The apostle John puts it this way, "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). Are YOU "continuing in him?" Are you a student of the word, seeking to KNOW God's will -- and striving to obey God's will? Only then will we be ready for his certain return!
Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Monday, December 17, 2007

Savor the Moment!

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in the December commencement ceremony at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. Each year, I teach a few courses in the college's Degree Completion Program. As an adjunct faculty member, participation at graduation is optional for me. I opted to participate this time around in response to the request of several of my students. It felt good to be wanted!

At one point during the commencement, the president of LBC, Dr. Peter Teague was congratulating the graduates for their efforts. He told them to "savor the moment." Indeed, it was for them a moment to be savored! They had worked hard. They had sacrificed. Now they were reaping their reward!

Hmm. "Savor the moment!" All too often I fail to do that. So today, I am going to intentionally work on savoring the moment -- those moments when I am reaping God's blessing in my life! Savoring time spent in God's Word - learning about Him and His plan for me and our world. Savoring lunch with my wife and daughter, enjoying their love and laughter. Savoring the friendship I enjoy with my elders here at Grace. Savoring my health which enables me to listen to the Christmas music that I love. Savoring the moment of crawling into a warm bed on a cold night.

My friends, let me encourage each of you to intentionally today (and every day) to "savor the moment" - those moments in which you reap God's many blessings in your life! If you do, I think you will become a far more contented person. And that is a good thing for ALL of us!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gett'n Ready!

A bit later today I will be spending some time getting my snow blower out of storage and prepping it for use (and I surely hope I can get it "up and running!"). Now why am I going to do this today? There is no snow falling from the sky - in fact I see some sunshine, which has been is short supply recently around here! Well, as you probably well know, there is a winter storm heading our way. It may drop quite a bit of snow ... or it may be mainly sleet and freezing rain .... or it may just end up rain. But no matter the end result - I want to be prepared just in case we get several inches of snow! Being prepared is a good thing! (As a boy scout, this concept was DRILLED into my head by my scoutmaster. "Be Prepared" was the motto of the scouts).

This leads me to a question for you to ponder this weekend - Are YOU prepared for whatever life might bring your way? None of us know the future (that is, I believe, a good thing!). But we know the ONE who does know the future. And in HIS Word (the Bible), he has given to us lots of insights for living -- life principles that if we practice, we will be prepared to face - whatever!

So I hope you are spending time getting to know the Bible better -- and remember, God does not want you to merely KNOW the Bible -- he wants you to LIVE the Bible!

Thanks for stopping by,


pj

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BEWARE OF WACKY WARNING LABELS!


As I was out running an errand today, I was catching up on the news courtesy of KYW 1060 news radio out of Philadelphia (I began listening to KYW in college and have been an avid listener ever since). I caught the tail end of a news story about an annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. This contest, now in its eleventh year, is conducted by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch. I was astonished at the content of some product's warning labels. An honorable mention was given for a warning label on a letter opener that says: "Caution: Safety goggles recommended." Hmm. I wonder what that manufacturer thought might be in a letter? Third place in the contest was awarded to the manufacturer of a baby stroller featuring a small storage pouch. The stroller included a warning label that warns, "Do not put child in bag." The contest judges gave second place for a a label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: "Do not iron while wearing shirt." And finally the grand prize was given for a warning label on a tractor that read, "Danger: Avoid death!"

OK. I can see why these labels were noted for their wacky warning labels!!! I mean - who in their right mind is going to climb on a tractor and go looking for death! And using an iron on your shirt while you are wearing it? No wonder these warning labels were winners! To call them wacky doesn't quite seem to go far enough!

A lot of people think that the warnings in Scripture are wacky. They see God as some sort of cosmic kill joy who is looking over their shoulder just waiting to squash their fun. But the warnings in the Bible are there for OUR good, to protect us from evil. The sooner we learn that, the better off we will be!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Monday, December 10, 2007

Will Get Back to Blogging Soon!

As soon as I "dig out" from this pile of work that is now sitting on my desk, I will get back to my blog. In the meanwhile, if you want to read a thoughtful blog posting on the new (and controversial) movie The Golden Compass, I suggest you check out the following web address: www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1065. This is a blog posting of Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. in which he discusses this new movie. Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His thoughtful approach is worthy of a read.

"See" you soon!

pj





Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Away for Some R and R!

I am out of town this week for some needed rest and restoration (My wife, Sharon and I are enjoying the history and beauty of Charleston, SC.) Therefore, I have posted a blog posting from the past that I think needs to be read again. It is so easy to get away from the Word!

Thanks for stopping by,

pj


Rain and the Bible

(Originally posted on September 15, 2005)

It began yesterday around 3 PM. I looked out my office window, and there it was, falling from the clouds. Rain! (Note: If I had written this TODAY - I could have said "SNOW!" I regret I am not in Lancaster to enjoy it - not!) I had not seen it for over two weeks. With the grass growing brown and plants beginning to wither, I was glad to see it!

As I thought of the benefits of rain, these words penned by Isaiah the prophet came to mind: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). There is power in the book we call the Bible. It is God’s Word. As such, God sends it to accomplish HIS purposes in our lives. Hmm, I wonder. For those of us who are not seeing God at work in us and through us – could it be due to our lack of interaction with God’s Word? How much time do YOU spend in the Bible?

Thanks for stopping by,

pj

Are You Preparing for Eternity?

Our journey on earth is but a breath ... a heart beat when compared to the expanse of Eternity. We all must remember that how we live live in the here and now will impact our experience in the then and there.

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.