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Showing posts from July, 2008

Do Not Love the World! (1 John 2:15)

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In his excellent book, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate, Jerry Bridges defines the sin of "worldliness" as "being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life" (he references in connection with this definition 1 Corinthians 7:31). Later in his discussion of this "respectable" sin, he makes this penetrating statement: "I believe the key to our tendencies toward worldliness lies primarily in two words, 'going along.' We simply go along and accept the values and practices of society around us without thought as to whether those values and practices are biblical."

I have thought a lot about this sin of worldliness since preaching on it two Sundays ago. We live in such an affluent and materialistic society. There are many things all around us into which we can invest both our time and our money. We must resist the temptation to just "go along" with our neighbors and pursue the stuf…

Difficult People?

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I originally posted the following on July 27 of 2007. Considering that we all have people in our lives that we consider "difficult" - I thought this posting was worthy of another "read."






Difficult People?
July 27, 2007


This morning I googled the phrase "dealing with difficult people" and got over 16 million hits! Ouch - but not all that surprising. We ALL deal with difficult people. They might work along side us at our workplace or they might sit behind us in a classroom at school. They might even eat at our own dining room table at home. Difficult people are everywhere. Even sitting in the pew at church right next to us! AND -- are you ready -- EVEN STARING BACK AT YOU FROM THE BATHROOM MIRROR! That's right! Difficult people populate our world -- and even populate the church. (Yesterday I was talking with a mail carrier about problems that have arisen in his church. At the end of the conversation, he reminded me that problems in churches can and should …

God's Workmanship

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During our drive to Ocean City, Maryland last week, we stopped for lunch at a Subway®. As we walked up to the door, we were greeted by a life sized poster of Jarod Fogel. Everyone knows Jared Fogle! Jared tipped the scales at 425 pounds while a student at Indiana University. After unsuccessfully attempting numerous diets, Jared grabbed a nutritional information brochure at his local SUBWAY® restaurant and started a reduced calorie diet by eating two SUBWAY® submarine sandwiches a day. In a year’s time, and by incorporating exercise into his daily routine, Jared lost 245 pounds. Since that success, Jarod has appeared in numerous advertisements for SUBWAY® as the fast-food restaurant promotes itself as the heathy choice among fast-food chains.

I think we would all agree that what Jared accomplished was phenomenal. What a transformation! In the spiritual realm, God wants to transform all of us. In fact, in Ephesians 2:10 we are told that for those among us who have made a faith commitment…

Back from the Beach. . .

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OK. Why does "Vacation Time" pass by so much more quickly than "Standard Time" or "Daylight Savings Time?" Well, here I am back in my office after four great days at the shore with the fam. We had a great time! Bonding time with family cannot be overestimated! If you have not spent some quality time with your family lately - I highly recommend you stop whatever it is you are doing and get something on your calendar! My wife and I, our son and daughter and their spouses simply put "had a blast!"

In fact, there were only two real "downers" during our time. The first was missing our oldest daughter and her fiance who were unable to be with us this time around. It would have been all the better if the whole family could have been together. The second downer occurred during the first hour we were on the beach on Friday. My son dove into a wave and in the process, the turbulent ocean waters ripped his wedding ring off his finger and swallowed…

Off to the Beach!

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I and the fam will be heading to Ocean City, MD just a little later this morning for a few days of sun, sand and surf! I'll be back "blogging" early next week. Until then, I encourage you to give your best to God and don't sweat the little stuff!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

God Calls Us to Get Intentional about THINKING!

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There are times when I look at what people do and I ask myself, “WHAT were they thinking?” That question popped into my mind as I was reading the newspaper one evening. A guy named Gary Brunner went to the local police station and to inquire if there were any outstanding warrants on him. The answer? Yep! He was arrested on the spot (for drug possession, Carmel, N.Y.)! Then there’s the case of Bryan Palmer, 21, and Peggy Casey, 31. Police were investigating a burglary in South Windsor, Connecticut. The couple were questioned and released. As the investigation progressed, the detectives changed their minds about Palmer and Casey and began a futile search for them. But they should not have wasted their time and effort. The couple showed up back at the station to check on the status of the investigation. I guess they found out when they were read their rights!

Many people today just don’t think (OK, perhaps their situation is not as extreme as the two above – but people would rather be ent…

Are You Driven?

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Driven people? They are easy to spot. Always on the go. Blackberry in hand. Propelled forward (fast-forward that is) by their various agendas and to do lists. Always pushing to do that "little bit more" that it will take to get ahead in this existence we know as the Great American Rat Race. I hate to admit it, but I am far too often a "driven" person!

This tendency in me toward "drivenness" comes out most often when I am behind the wheel. I get behind an Amish buggy or stopped by a traffic light - and I can often at these times start to fume inside. My wife, who knows me oh so well - knows when I am fuming inside and will be quick to point out that these delays are minor ... very minor when considered in the grand scheme of all things. And she is right! I mean, what does getting where I am going sixty seconds later really matter? Not much!
My guess is that many of you are also driven (some more than me - some less). Most of us could probably benefit by jus…

Your Money???

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Billy Graham has proclaimed the gospel across several generations. His earthly journey is nearing its end. But his words will live on . . . consider his words and God's Word and then spend a moment evaluating your own relationship with money and the stuff money buys.

"There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men." (Billy Graham)

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

It's All about Perspective!

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Yesterday I received a letter from a friend of mine who lives in France. He informed me that when he filled up his little car this week, he paid the equivalent of well over $8.00 per gallon! And we complain about paying just over $4.00 per gallon!

Now the price we pay today does seem like a lot of money -- and if you have a long commute to work, the miles add up and soon start placing a real painful drain on the family finances. Considering that as recently as January of 2007 we were paying $2.25 per gallon, the $4.00+ per gallon price today is hard to swallow! But compared to the $8.82 per gallon paid by my friend in France - we are getting a bargain! You see - it's all about perspective! So having the right perspective is vital!

As we walk through this life, it is crucial that we have an ETERNAL perspective as we look at life. For when we see this life in light of the next, it changes how we see things. The values we embrace, the activities we engage in, the relationships we pursu…

Blog Flash Back: Sprint or Marathon?

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I posted the following thoughts on July 25th of last year. I post it again because this is a truth that we American Christians need to be reminded of on a regular basis. We think everything should happen "right now" if not yesterday! Looking for shortcuts is as American has hot dogs, baseball and apple pie. We must remember that growth in the Christian life is over the long haul! Sadly, too few realize this and so when the going gets tough, they quit when what they need to do is to persevere!


Sprint or Marathon - July 25, 2007 posting
As a student at Melrose Elementary School in Harrisburg, I was always one of the fastest (if not the fastest) kids in my class (I do not mean to brag here. The kids in my classes were always "slow of foot". Even a turtle would appear speedy if racing a snail!). By the time I reached high school and went out for the track team, my 100 yard (yes, we ran yards, not meters in my day!) time was only middle of the pack at best. So not being …

The Faith of a "Hall of Faith-er!"

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Last night, the stars came out! Yep. Right in Yankee Stadium. It was the night of Major League Baseball's annual all star game. I was really impressed by how the the starting lineups were introduced. Before announcing the starters (which they did position by position), several Hall-of-Famers who were present on the field were introduced (I believe 49 of the 63 living members of the Hall were there on the field). For example, before introducing the starting third baseman for each team, a number of Hall-of-Fame third basemen were introduced (among whom happened to be one of my favorite players of all time, former Philly great, Mike Schmidt!). So I really enjoyed watching some of these baseball greats of yesteryear being cheered on by the crowds (among these former greats were Yogi Berra, Brooks Robinson, Bill Mazeroski, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays - just to name a few).

As I thought of these guys who over the years have been inducted into Cooperstown (Cooperstown, NY is the location o…

Why We Are Here

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Stephen Hillenberg. Does his name ring a bell? My guess is "not!" So try this name: SpongeBob SquarePants. Ahh. Now there's a familiar name! I will never forget the first time I met this goofy looking guy (who happens to live at the bottom of the sea in a pineapple). I was doing "The Mystery Bag" one Sunday at church (The Mystery Bag works as follows: a child brings something in a bag that only he knows about (but it must have parental approval!). Then at a designated point in the service, I invite the children up front. The child brings the bag - remember, I do not know what is in the bag - and hands it to me. My task is to pull it out and then use it for an object lesson about God or God things. The child's hope is that I will be stumped. It was in this context that I had my first encounter with Mr. SpongeBob SquarePants!). Now when Stephen Hillenberg created SpongeBob - he did so with a purpose. Being a marine-life educator, he wanted an aid to help in t…

A Quote from the Pen of A. W. Tozer That is Right On Target!

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"Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free. If we understand our first and sole duty to consist of loving God supremely and loving everyone, even our enemies, for God's dear sake, then we can enjoy spiritual tranquility under every circumstance." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Give these words some thought ... before rushing off to whatever is calling you! And as you go ... rememember to love GOD and to love OTHERS!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Who's Approval Are You Seeking?

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Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. (Jeremiah 45:5)

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

It is so very easy to fall prey to the temptation to seek the approval of those around us. After all, none of us want to be rejected by others. We like to think that EVERYBODY likes us! But what is truly important is that God approves of us!

Consider praying the following prayer that is found in Kenneth Boa's excellent devotional guide, Passionate Living: Wisdom and Truth, A Devotional

Lord God,

I thank You that You have given me acceptability and worth in Christ. Teach me to enjoy the opportunities You have given me rather than cramming my schedule in a quest to merit the acceptance of others. May I be concerned about pleasing You rather than impressing people.

Amen

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Regrets at Sunset?

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Last night, my wife and I were watching the final episode of the television mini-series, John Adams. The mini-series is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book, JohnAdams, written by David McCullough. There is a gripping scene toward the end of the film. John Adams, now ninety years of age is walking through a field near his house with his youngest son, Thomas. He stops and tells his son about the queen of France whom he had met. He then points to a small flower growing among the tall grass and states that the queen, beautiful in face and form and arrayed in all of her diamonds was not as beautiful as this small flower. Abigail (Adam's wife) was always urging Adams to pause and look at the beauty around him ... and Adams regretted that he was only now doing so.

He also looked at Thomas and said, "Rejoice always!" He then began to laugh. When Thomas asked him what he was talking about, Adams replied, "Rejoice always. The words of St. Paul." Adams continued on t…

Make Every Effort!

Check out the effort displayed by the ball girl in this video clip:





In Hebrews 12:7 we are told, "Make EVERY EFFORT to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

Are you (am I?) MAKING EVERY EFFORT to live in peace with others and to be HOLY??? This ball girl gave her all to catch a meaningless foul ball that had no impact on the outcome of the baseball game or her job - yet she went after it! She made EVERY EFFORT to catch that ball! We should do nothing less concerning the things of our walk with God and journey of faith - don't you think?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

The Watchtower Visits!

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Yesterday morning someone rang my doorbell. Usually, that might mean a neighbor, the mail carrier or the UPS man. But not so yesterday. When I went to my front door I discovered two tie-wearing, twenty-something young men. My first thought was Mormon missionaries - but I quickly dispelled that when I noticed their shirts were colored and not white (and they lacked the typical name badge that Mormons wear). When I opened the door and said, "Yes???" the one young man immediately showed me a piece literature title, "When a Loved One Dies" (Of course, I immediately saw the words "The WATCHTOWER" spread across the top of the publication ... and so I now knew I was talking with Jehovah Witnesses). It was very apparent that the young man speaking to me was going through a canned talk which he had memorized. I admired his courage ... but not his approach.

After a minute or two ... I interrupted. I decided I was going to go for the spiritual jugular with these guy…

A Happy Fourth of July to YOU!

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I guess this week was a week of weddings ... not only did my daughter get married but so did many others. Among these "many others" were none other than Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross! These two colorful figures of our American past tied the knot in front of Philadelphia's Independence Hall last evening. The mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, officiated. OK, so it was not actually old (and by this time he would really OLD!) Ben and flag maker Betsy who were married but Ralph Archbold and Linda Wilde who are the actors who have been portraying the two historical figures for many years (for Ralph it has been some 30 years that he has been walking the streets of historical Philadelphia as Ben!). After the ceremony, Ben and Betsy (a.k.a. Ralph and Linda) rode off in a horse drawn carriage. Their final destination was the historic City Tavern, the site of their reception. It was there some 200 plus years ago that Franklin dined along with such notables as George Washington a…

Are You Wearing a Mask?

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On the morning of my daughter's wedding, she asked me to make a special delivery to her fiance, Ryan consisting of TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets and MacDonald's coffee. As I thought about doing so, my weird sense of humor kicked in and I decided to dress up as the 9th Bridesmaid (that's right - my daughter had eight!). I posted a written description of what I looked like on Tuesday's edition of my blog - but today I thought I would give you a picture. So take a long look - and yes, underneath the Philadelphia Eagle's cap (hard to believe, I know!) red wig, ugly mask, tie and tuxedo jacket is yours truly! You can imagine my daughter's now mother-in-law's reaction when she opened her front door! I am just glad she didn't panic and do something to hurt me!

Now normally I do not go around wearing a wig and a mask. In fact, I cannot recall the last time I did so. But in a figurative sense, I do wear masks far more than I should. And if you are anything lik…

Think on This . . .

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Please take a moment and think on the following words:

"Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God."(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall/Temptation)



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

The Father of the Bride: Some Final Thots

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Today, two days past the big event I crawled out of bed with a rested body and a much clearer mind. So I am now ready to wrap up my reflections of "The Father of the Bride" and move on to other things.

There is so much I could write about my experience. But I will save you the pain of hearing about it all and just share a few highlights of the Big Day. Since the wedding was scheduled for a 4 PM start (which we almost made ... but we were delayed by what I have discovered to be the number one reason for delay - late arriving grandparents!) - we had all morning to endure (that's what is was for me since all of the bridal party arrived at our house to curl their hair, put on makeup, etc., etc., etc.). In the midst of all the estrogen in the house, I looked for a reason to leave! Kate wanted to make a special delivery to Ryan (who was at his parent's house in Quarryville). I readily agreed to do so. But I decided to spice things up a bit ... and go as the "ninth bri…