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Showing posts from August, 2008

A Thought about Faith . . .

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Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was a Scottish pastor whose teachings on the Christian's journey of faith still impact people today. He is best known as the author of the popular devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (first published in 1935). Among his many quotable quotes are these words concerning faith:

"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading."
Well said, don't you think?!!?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Do Cows Have a Built-in Compass?

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A team of German and Czech researchers who have studied satellite photos of thousands of cows around the world, believe that cattle have some sort of built-in compass. The reason for their conclusion: approximately 2/3 of all the cattle examined had their bodies aligned in a north-south orientation. They point out that this would not be the expected norm if cattle were totally random in their body's directional orientation. I am still trying to figure the "so what!" about this research (perhaps it shows that researchers have too much time on their hands and they should mooooooooooove on to other more pressing research!).

As I thought about this ... I thought of those of us who claim to be following Jesus Christ. Now I don't know if cows are truly aligning their bodies due to some sort of built-in compass. But I do know that Christians must learn to align their lives according to a compass that should be "built-in." And to what built-in compass am I referring…

Render to "Caesar"

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In yesterday's post, I promised to list some practical suggestions for you on how to obey Jesus' command to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." I have gleaned and adapted these suggestions from a list in Jay Dennis' book, The Jesus Habits (the book is worth a read!). Here are four for you to "chew on!"

1. Pray for those in government. We are commanded to do so in 1 Timothy 2:1-2. The reason behind Paul's command to pray for governmental leaders is his desire that we might live "peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." The next time you catch yourself complaining about someone in office, stop and pray for them instead.

2. Vote your convictions. The American poet and author Walt Whitman once said, "Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote." Too many people simply vote for candidates simply because they are Democrat or Republican or because they look great on camera. Know the candidat…

Democrats Meeting in Denver!

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Well, the first of the two political conventions has arrived. Democrats are meeting even as I write these words out in the mile high city. And just around the corner, the Republicans will be gathering for their big hour in prime time. I thought I would take this time in light of these two political extravaganzas to remind all of us who follow Jesus about our responsibility to the government. Jesus put it plainly when he said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Luke 20:25). We see from these words that Jesus was not anti-government. He saw human government as an institution that should be obeyed and respected.

Now I realize at times those who are elected to office do little to gain our respect. Far too many when given the power that comes with their elected positions, become drunk with that power and succumb to the temptations of greed and fame. However, that does not release us from submitting ourselves to the govern…

Hurry Up!

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Our society seems to know one speed: FAST! My day often runs from one meeting to the next, one phone call to the next, one email to the next. As I write this, I am tired. And I know I am not alone! "HURRY UP!" is what our world screams at us day in and day out, 24/7/365. If I could only wear ear plugs!

In the foreward to Donald Whitney's excellent book, Simplify Your Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed, Richard A. Swenson writes the following insightful and compelling assessment of our day:
"Do more and more with less and less - and do it faster and faster. This is the oft-heard management strategy in our profusely overloaded age. But what would Jesus think? Can you imagine Him flying past the blind beggar, sweat dripping off his brow, yelling at his lagging disciples because they were twenty minutes late for the Jericho prayer breakfast? How would He respond if cell phones when off within the assembled crowds as the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus had little …

Two Very Different Moves

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When I had just turned 13, I went through what proved to be a very difficult time. My parents moved my family from the city of Harrisburg to a rural area of northern York County near the town of Lewisberry. Since I had grown up in Harrisburg, it was, to that point, all I had known. I loved my neighborhood, my school...but most of all I loved my friends. In fact, I had many, many friends. In my new home I had very few friends. Everything was different. And I had great difficulty adjusting. Going from hero to zero was not easy.

Fast forward the calendar just over three years. In late summer of 1972, I found myself at a weekend church retreat at Camp Penn, a United Methodist retreat center near Gettysburg, PA. There I found Jesus Christ (or better said, there Jesus Christ found me!). And just as what happened to me three years earlier - I experienced a major change in my life. God took me and "rescued us (me) from the dominion of darkness and brought us (me) into the kingdom of the S…

Present but not Competing!

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In 1972, Eddie Hart was a man on a mission. His mission? To win Olympic gold in the 100 meter race to be held in Munich, Germany. At the 1972 Olympic Trials, he tied the world record of 9.9 seconds in the 100-meter dash. And that set the stage for a showdown with the the top-ranked sprinter in the world, the Bionic Man, Valeri Borzov of the Soviet Union. It was a showdown that never happened. After easily winning his qualifying heat in the morning (the 100-meter final was to be run that afternoon) - the U.S. sprint coach gave Hart and two other sprinters the wrong start time for the race. So when they arrived back at the stadium for their warm ups - they realized the race was already over and Borzov the gold medalist! I cannot imagine how gut-wrenching that must have been for Hart! To be present - but not competing!

The Bible often uses the analogy of a race to describe the Christian's journey of grace. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:24 we read, "Do you not know that in a rac…

A Coat of Fresh Paint

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Every Thursday morning at 6:15, I meet with a group of guys I have chosen to call "The Brothers of Aaron and Hur" (as to why that name, pull out your Bible and read Exodus 17:8-16). The primary reason for our meeting is to pray for our church - its people and its ministry - and our world, both locally and globally. After our prayer time, those who have the time, head out for a quick breakfast together. It is one of my favorite weekly activities. I love my brothers!

Over breakfast this morning, one of the men shared a story from his working days at Campbell's Soup. Every so often, the president of the company would tour this gentleman's plant. On one of these occasions, the plant manager asked this man if he would like to join him as he toured the plant with the company president. At one point during the tour, the plant manager turned to the company president and asked, "Don't you get tired of smelling fresh paint?"

Hmm. That got me thinking. How often do …

Going for the Gold!

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Every time the Olympics rolls around ... either the Summer or Winter Games ... I thoroughly enjoy watching them. This year has been no exception (which is the reason I've been feeling tired this week .... too much "Late Night with Michael Phelps!). I have been amazed as I have watched Phelps and others. There speed, endurance, and skills have been so very cool to watch (like how you do a flip and land on your feet on the balance beam - that takes an awful lot of practice!!!). And that it indeed the key to these athletes. They have taken their God-given talents and with hours and hours and hours over years -- have sharpened and honed that talent to the level where they can "go for the gold."

All this reminds me of the following words of the Apostle Paul:
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly…

A Lesson from The Family Circus

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Even though I subscribe to the local evening paper and the local Sunday paper, I don't often read the comics. However, that does not mean I don't enjoy reading them on occasion. One of my favorites is the comic strip by Bill Keane, The Family Circus. One reason I enjoy it so much is because it is so true to family life and raising kids. Often through the years I could find myself smiling in agreement with Keane's take on family life. In addition, I have enjoyed it because the creator manifested such a "keane" sense of humor! I could almost always count on a good chuckle as I read the latest exploits of this comic strip family.

In one of TheFamily Circus cartoons, 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!” (pretty punny statement, eh?!!?)

How many of us are real busy doing “nuttin?” We scurry fr…

Now Was That a Big Dog or a Little Horse?

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Yesterday, I had to stop by someone's house. After knocking at the door, the lady of the house opened the door. After a quick exchange of "hellos," this huge animal head appeared from behind the door. At first I was unsure as to just exactly what I was looking at. I mean the head had the look of a dog's head -- but the size of a horse's head. I took a fast step back. The woman, noticing the look of fear (no, better said, HORROR!) on my face, quickly assured me that the dog was a very friendly dog. Now - I have NEVER seen a dog as big as this dog. It was a Great Dane. Great Dane's average about 130 lbs ... and from what I understand larger males can easily top 175 pounds. This dog tipped the scales at over 210 pounds. It was a giant of a dog ... and fortunately a very gentle giant! So as it turns out ... I had nothing to fear!

Often times as life unfolds, trials appear out of nowhere. As we first encounter them, they can threaten to overwhelm us. We see them as…

Is Your Torch Sitll Burning for Christ?

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Today is the day that the Olympic games officially open in Beijing, China. With that in mind, consider the following quote by Joe Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute. The quote is rooted in the history of the Olympics.

"The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him."
Few of us have a problem starting the race God calls us to run (see Hebrews 12:1-2). But how many of us lack the perseverance and endurance to stay in the race ... and to stay in the race so that the flame of our torches are still burning hot and bright for Jesus Christ - even after many years of running?
Oh God, give us hot hearts. Hearts that burn with an undying passion for you and your Kingdom!
Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

It's Always "Your Serve!"

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Again I am pulling a blog posting from the past (summer of 2007). I am posting this again because all of us need to be reminded that being a servant is something God calls us all to be - everyone of us without exception! But far too often, we are looking for others to serve us vs. looking for opportunities to serve others. Remember Jesus said, if we want to be great in His kingdom, then the path of servanthood is the path we must travel.


It's Always "Your Serve!" August 2, 2007

I used to play a fair amount of ping pong, tennis and volleyball. In all of these activities, participants get the chance to serve. I especially loved to serve when playing ping pong. A former pastor of mine (way back when I was in high school) taught me how to put all kinds of "english" (a.k.a. "spin") on the ball which causes it to fly off the opponents paddle in a lot of weird directions. So serving while playing ping pong is FUN!

As we live out our lives, God calls us to serve.…

Is Being Broken Ever a Good Thing?

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Recently, a few people I know have suffered broken bones. In the fifty plus years of my life I am glad I can say I have never broken a bone. Broken bones are rarely a good thing. And if we talk about other things that can break, like washer machines or computers or lawn mowers or cars - broken things are rarely if ever a good thing. So while most brokenness cannot be said to be good - there is one kind of brokenness that I see as being good and profitable. It is spiritual brokenness.

I don't know if you have ever had the opportunity to ride a horse. When I was in high school, a friend of mine had several horses and I was able to go riding quite a bit. Most times the horse I rode was very gentle and responsive to instruction. Once, though, he was startled by the wind blowing something across the path and he took off at a full gallop. "Whoa Nellie!" I cried, as I clung to the horse's mane for all I was worth! Now the reason that this particular horse was so gentle and r…

Growing It (my faith) Alone!

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This year has brought a lot of satisfaction to me as a parent. My oldest daughter will be married in October and is now in her third year working as an R.N. at Lancaster General Hospital. My son started his masters program and was just hired by the university to work as a Graduate Assistant. He and his wife just celebrated their second wedding anniversary. My youngest daughter finished up her first year of teaching 9th grade history at Milton Hershey school and just celebrated her first month wedding anniversary yesterday. So it is quite gratifying to see my children grown and establishing their own vocations and homes. Now all these changes did not come as a surprise. My wife and I raised them to one day be off "on their own." It is part of the goal of parenting. We want to see our children "grow up!"

In the same way our heavenly Father desires for his children to grow up. Each and every follower of Christ is to "grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ…