Showing posts from April, 2008

Start and End Your Days with Praise!

This year I set a goal to read through the Bible, starting in Genesis in January and ending (I trust) in Revelation in December. Yesterday I found myself reading in the latter chapters of 1 Chronicles. In Chapter 23, King David outlines detailed instructions for the Levites and priests as they carried out their service in the Temple that David's son, Solomon was to build once he succeeded David as Israel's king. Among these instructions is a rather fascinating task that the Levites are assigned. In v. 30, the Levites are told that "they were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening."

When I read those words, it struck me that thanking and praising the LORD would be a great way for me ... and for all of us ... to begin and end our days. For starters, it reminds us that God (not us or anyone else) is in control of our circumstances. He is the source of our blessings, so it is appropriate to praise and thank him. I…

Darwin? Or Intellegint Design? (Part 2)

Yesterday, my wife and I went to see the movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. For a documentary film, I found it to be quite engaging. Before I knew it, the movie was over and we were on our way.

This morning I got on the Internet to see what kind of "buzz" the movie is causing. I was amazed to see how the Establishment has reacted. The National Center For Science Education has developed a web site devoted solely to discrediting the film. Richard Dawkins, a well known atheistic evolutionist who was interviewed in the film, has written a very emotional and sarcastic response to how the movie portrayed him. And on and on it goes. (By the way - you can go to the movie's web site to check these things out for your self.)
Hmm. Why such a ferocious response? Could it be that the film has rattled the bastions of academia? I have done a lot of reading in this area of the origin of life. And even though evolutionists keep saying (and writing) t…

Rocky the Bear

Rocky the Bear has been in the limelight this week. For some reason that has yet to be determined, Rocky bit his handler on the neck which led to the handler's death. According to the owner of the animal training center where the huge grizzly is housed and trained, Rocky is a "loving, affectionate, friendly, safe bear." However, the owner is clueless on how such a "simple routine" turned so tragic.

In thinking about this, I was reminded of how we often relate to sin. We begin to play around with it, we learn to tolerate it - and before we know it we see it as being "no big deal" at best or we become "totally indifferent to it" at worst. And just when we least suspect, the sin we allow to fester in our hearts and souls jumps up to bite us - bringing great pain and anguish as a result.

My friends, we MUST not allow this to happen. We must, in the words of the apostle Peter, "abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul" (…

Feeling a Bit Nostalgic!

Nostalgia is defined as "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for or return to some past period." I was experiencing just a touch of nostalgia earlier this week as we travelled to and from Carlisle, PA. To get there, we had to go through the Harrisburg area. I was born in the city of Harrisburg and lived there until I was 13. Then we moved to the Harrisburg West Shore, just outside the teeming metropolis of Lewisberry which is located in the northern reaches of York County. So in our drive to and from Carlisle, we passed the Farm Show complex (which hosted the Shriner's Circus which I attended each year that I was in elementary school), the cemetery where my grandmother was buried when I was 12 and the Embers Restaurant where several of my high school banquets were held.

Passing these places brought back a rush of memories. As I reflected on these, I was reminded of how great a role our past has played in defining who we are today. Past actions and choices have …

Back from Training! (And It's Good to Be Back!)

I just got back from three days of rather intensive training with the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Each April, Region 5 of the I.C.P.C. (which consists of the North East and Mid-Atlantic states) conducts a regional training conference. This year's conference was held at an Assemblies of God conference ground just outside Carlisle, PA. My associate here at Grace and newly installed chaplain with the West Lampeter Police Department accompanied me to the conference.

The conference was attended by approximately 75 law enforcement personnel and police chaplains. They came from Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Topics covered included "Death Notifications," "Substance Abuse," "Hostage Negotiations," and "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" - just to name a few. The presenters of each session were experienced police officers, FBI agents and fellow chaplains. All in all …

Off for Training!

I will be leaving this afternoon for three days of training with the International Conference of Police Chaplains. The conference is being sponsored by the Northeast Region of the ICPC and is being held in NEARBY Carlisle! Pastor Al Reilly, one of my associate pastors here at Grace will be also attending the training conference. He was just sworn in this past Monday evening to serve as a chaplain with the West Lampeter Township police department. Please pray that the conference will be HUGELY beneficial.

Thanks for partnering with us in prayer . . . and thanks for stopping by.
pj P.S. - I do not believe I will have the opportunity to post a blog while gone ... so I will "see" you when I return on Thursday!

Oh What Love!

Gone are the days when I would walk in my front door after a long day at the office and get mobbed by three little Smiths! For starters, my son (our middle child) is now married. Our oldest daughter (due to be married this October) has been living on her own for several years. This leaves only our youngest daughter still at home. But that will change come June 29th when she gets married. But even though one of my kids is still at home, it is still not the same.

I was reminded of this yesterday. I arrived home for supper and noticed her car in the driveway. I walked in the front door and called out a "Hello! I'm home!" My wife (bless her heart!) came running to greet me. But nothing out of my daughter. Since she gets up early to drive her 45-50 minute commute to school, I just figured she was taking a nap. Wrong! Shortly after I walked in the door, her Mr. "captured my heart" walked in the door. Within seconds of hearing his voice, my daughter bounded down the st…

Jesus Wants Us to Be HOLY!

In the three week sermon series that I just wrapped up this past Sunday, Jesus Prays for His Church, we took a look at the five desires that Jesus expressed for His Church in this longest recorded prayer of his earthly ministry. Last Thursday (see April 10th posting) I referred to the first of these five desires (joy). Today a quick consideration of the second desire Jesus expressed, that of holiness. In John 17:17 Jesus prayed to His Father, "Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth." The word for sanctify here means "to set apart." Jesus is praying that God would set his followers apart ... apart from sin to righteousness, from the ways of the world and the ways of self to the ways of God. In other words, he was asking God to make us HOLY. So at the end of the day, if we are following Jesus as individuals and as a church, we must be DIFFERENT from the world around us ... a world that is living in defiance of and rebellion against God.

During my message in ta…

A Lousy Forecast for Crabs!

The forecast is in. This upcoming summer looks like it will be a lousy season for crabs. Maryland blue crabs that is. Last summer was was Maryland's second-lowest haul since 1945, and this winter's population surveys indicate this year's harvest may not be much better. For crab lovers among us - this is not good news!

Even though the forecast for blue crabs is a poor one - I wonder about the crabs among the human population. It seems to me that there are a lot of crabby people around. And even I can get crabby at times! Now I know that life can be difficult - and at certain times downright VERY difficult. And right now with rising gas and food prices, there might be a lot to "crab" about! But I think most of us have a lot to be thankful for as well. The Bible tells us to "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Notice we are to give thanks IN all …

Lawn Mowing, Flabby Muscles and Spiritual Growth!

Yesterday I cut my lawn for the second time this spring. This morning my body is reminding me. Pushing around a 300 pound lawnmower (OK -- it only seemed like it weighed 300 pounds!) for 50 minutes last evening is enough for my body to be crying out in pain this morning. So what happened since the fall? The last time I cut my lawn in November, I zipped through the task in about 40 minutes - barely breaking a sweat in the process. Now I know I've had my 52nd birthday since then - but come on now! Why has it become so much more laborious a process?

Simply put - I am OUT OF SHAPE! Over the winter months, with a greatly reduced level of physical activity, my body has grown soft (not that it was ever honed to an iron-like consistency to begin with!). Bodies happen to do that. If we do not exercise them, our muscles grow weak and flabby. Yep - that's me right now - weak and flabby! However, given the better weather and more lawn cuttings real soon, I know it is only a matter of time…

Got Joy?

I am currently preaching a series on the desires Jesus expresses for His church as seen in his prayer recorded in John 17. The first of these five desires is joy. In John 17:13 Jesus prays, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." Jesus wants us to have not just a little bit of joy -- but the FULL MEASURE of HIS joy! Wow!

Now when I spoke about joy, I mentioned this important distinction: joy and happiness are NOT the same! Happiness is based upon "happenings" - it is circumstantial. As the cartoon above states, "Happiness is a warm puppy." If the puppy runs away (or Mom and Dad decide the puppy just ain't a fit - like happened in our home!) the happiness leaves with the puppy. But joy is different. It is not circumstantial. It is supernatural and internal. It is, as Galatians 5:22 reminds us, a fruit of the Spirit of God. So the Spirit grows it in us -…

Darwin? Or Intellegint Design?

God has blessed me in allowing me to travel a number of times overseas. In doing so, I have seen some incredible sights. One of the more incredible was the sight of the ancient Egyptian pyramids as they came into view during my one and only visit to Cairo. Now when I saw those pyramids up close, I was amazed at the engineering that went into their design and construction. Never once did I entertain the thought that they just, on their own, grew up out of the sands of Egypt. And no one else would entertain that thought either!

Yet, over and over again we are asked to believe in Neo-Darwinism's insistence that this vast universe (which is FAR MORE COMPLEX than the pyramids of Egypt) is the product of long epochs of evolutionary processes that just happened to come together in just the right way to have brought about life as we know it! Hmm. Just doesn't make sense to me!
If you want to see an interesting film supporting the common sense concept of Intelligent Design, let me recom…

"Moses" Died on Saturday

This past Saturday, an icon of the American film industry died. Charleston Heston, passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was probably best known for his role in the film classic The Ten Commandments in which he played the part of Moses. He was one of Hollywood's biggest names across the course of much of three decades (the 50's, 60's and 70's). Heston was 84.

The passing of this man is a reminder to all of us that time relentlessly marches on. Each of us will one day follow in Heston's footsteps (unless, of course, the Lord intervenes with his return!). So the question I want to leave us all with is this: Are we making each moment count for Christ? It is only what we do for him that will ultimately last!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Think on This. . .

"He who dares the most, shall win the most; and if rough be your path of love, tread it boldly, still loving your neighbors through thick and thin." (Charles Haddon Spurgeon) Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

About Those Bible Quotes

Recently an individual (Rick Thompson) wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper. In his letter, he was complaining about another letter writer's (by the name of Hartz) use of the Bible. Hartz had written to support the concept of marriage as being ONLY between a man and a woman. Thompson took offense to Hartz's use of the Bible and so he wrote, "According to Hartz, 'My position is based on some easily understood statements in the Bible (Romans 1:26.).' Oh, really? If Hartz wants to invoke this passage by Paul (often taken out of context and open to various interpretations by biblical scholars) for discriminating against gay people, fair enough; but let's hope that Hartz also then embraces Paul's support for the oppression of women and acceptance of slavery."

Thompson's comment about the Bible - (that it is) "often taken out of context and open to various interpretations by biblical scholars" - is one that is used over and over agai…

If You Know a Teacher, Thank Him or Her Today!

Being a teacher today is becoming increasingly difficult. As the family unit in this country continues to break down, teachers are being called upon not only to teach but also to parent. Recently I read an editorial in our local paper written by someone objecting to the level of teacher's salaries, especially given that they have summers "off." Apparently this writer never had to teach in one of America's classrooms today.

Just how tough is it getting for our teachers? In Waycross, Georgia a plot was uncovered in which a group of students were planning to attack a teacher. So they brought a number of items to school, including a knife, duct tape and handcuffs. What makes this story so disturbing is that these students are in THIRD grade! They were upset because the teacher had scolded one of them for standing on his chair. Sad story, don't you agree?
So if you know a teacher - thank him or her for being willing to teach our children. Pray for that teacher. And pra…

Breakfast at Kirby's

Monday is my usual day off. So I decided on Sunday to give my sister a call to see if she wanted to meet up for breakfast yesterday morning. She lives in Etters which is located just off I-83 about 2/3 of the way toward Harrisburg (from York). Our rendezvous spot was Kirby's, a small Irish restaurant in Manchester, owned by her daughter and son-in-law.

Nancy is the oldest of my siblings. She was the first of two girls. Twelve years after Nancy came along (and six years after my other sister was born), my twin brother and I were born. Then six years later, my little brother arrived. So I am number 4 of 5.

As my wife, my sister and I sat an reminisced over our eggs, toast and coffee (well I had coffee - I think they both had tea), we were transported back in time to 1966. That was the year Nancy got married. My twin brother and I (we were ten at the time) were involved in her wedding as acolytes. So we got dressed in these white robes (which at the time I thought made us look like sis…