PJ

PJ

Friday, October 31, 2008

Will the Real Biggest Loser Please Stand Up?

Manuel Uribe set a Guinness Book World Record back in 2006, when he weighed an astonishing 1,230 pounds! Since then, he has shed an amazing 550 pounds - still leaving him with plenty more pounds to lose (and I thought I had it tough with the weight I should lose!). Manuel was in the news recently as he married his long time sweetheart. Since he has not been able to leave his bed in six years, his bride did all the walking and standing during the ceremony - a ceremony which left Manuel in tears. Now that he is married, Manuel has set a goal to become the world's biggest loser. The current Guinness World Records for weight loss are held by and American woman Rosalie Bradford at 907 pounds lost, and a British man Jon Brower Minnoch who lost 924 pounds. So Manuel has a few pounds to go! But concerning his fight against his obesity, Manuel said, "The doctors told me I had a choice. To choose life or to choose death. I chose life."

Now those are good words that reveal the kind of attitude we all should cultivate. Since all of us face difficulties (you may even be facing a HUGE one right now!), we all need to remember that how we face life's difficulties is a CHOICE. Just as Maneul Uribe made the right choice to try and overcome his obesity, we must do the same no matter what our difficult situation might be. So the question we must all answer is this: Will we choose to do our best to meet the challenge while trusting God to work in us and around us? Or will we choose to grumble and complain and adopt a victim mentality ("Oh, woe is me!")? This choice will make all the difference as to whether we will rise above our difficulties or our difficulties will rise above us!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What Are You Passing On?

You'd better keep your outside lights on tonight! Why? Tonight is what is commonly referred to as "Mischief Night." Most common in the Northeastern U.S., Ireland, England and Canada, it is a night when young people play pranks on their neighbors. These pranks include soaping windows, ringing doorbells and then running away and "T-ping" (taking rolls of toilet paper and draping the TP over trees and houses) - and a list of other things (unfortunately sometimes these pranks can and do get out of hand!). Where and why this practice originated - I do not know (I did a brief scan of Internet info and found it to be somewhat confusing concerning the origin of this practice). So all this to say - keep your outside lights on tonight and it should keep would be pranksters away!

Why do young people get involved in these things? Is it something that is taught in school? No. Rather younger kids hear about it from older kids who heard about it from their parents. In other words, this tradition of "Mischief Night" has been passed down from one generation to the next. And what is true of "Mischief Night" is also true of many things. Values, beliefs, practices -- all get passed on from one generation to another. There is nothing wrong with this ... as long as what is being passed on is good stuff.

So if you are a parent ... let me ask you, "What are you passing on to your children?" I hope you are passing on the things that matter - values, beliefs, standards, and priorities that are based solidly on the teachings of the Bible. Along with your spouse, take some time to answer this question. The welfare of your kids is on the line. Because if they don't get God's way from you - WHO will they get it from?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Call to Prayer!

Just one week from today, Americans will go to their polling places and vote in the next president of our country. With such a monumental decision before us ... I invite all who read this to join me at noon each day leading up to the election. Take a moment to pause and pray for our nation. Consider the following prayer of Billy Graham for our nation:

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snow Is on the Way - but So Is Jesus!

This morning I saw the dreaded "S" word in today weather's forecast (at least for many of us!). Yep. That's right. You probably heard it too (if you live in the Lancaster area). Snow may be falling before the day is over. Now, it won't lay on the ground - but the fact that we might see snow flakes floating down from above is just a foretaste of what most likely lies ahead of us. And if meteorologist Joe Bastardi of Accu Weather is right, we are facing a winter with below normal temps and above normal precipitation. To me, that sounds like the formula for a lot of the white stuff! Hmm. I'll have to make sure my snow blower is in working condition soon!

Now we all know with weather forecasts, there are many variables that go into the making of a forecast. Therefore, forecasts can be way off the mark. And usually the longer range the forecast the higher probability that the forecast will be inaccurate. I'm hoping that is the case with the forecast for the upcoming winter!

However, when God makes a forecast, it does not matter how "long range" it might be! His forecasts for the future are ALWAYS 100% on the mark! How so? Because as the book of Daniel (and other books of the Bible) demonstrates, our God is sovereign over the affairs of men and the ebb and flow of human history! So when he forecasts, for example, the return of His Son to this earth - you can count on it occurring. He just hasn't revealed to us the date. So if we are going to get our snow blowers set for action based on an uncertain long range weather forecast, then how much more do we need to be sure we are ready for the return of Jesus Christ? If you have any questions about your readiness to meet him - please don't hesitate to email me at jsmith@gracewv.org. I would be glad to "chat" with you!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recession Proof?

This morning when the stock market opened, I happened to notice on my MSN home page that within minutes of the opening bell, stocks fell over 400 points. Now 6 months ago, that might have shocked me. Today it's becoming routine. Up a couple hundred one day, down several hundred the next. Consumer confidence is at an all time low and home foreclosures at an all time high. Unemployment is climbing .... and the only good economic news is the fact that oil prices are falling.

In light of all this economic turmoil, Forbes Magazine recently published an article which gave the results of a study Forbes conducted. The results of the study reveals the best places (and the worst places) in the U.S. to "ride out the recession." At the top of list of best places - Austin, Texas. Not all that surprising given the fact that Austin is the state capital AND the home of the University of Texas. That combination makes for a lot of job security. However, what I did find surprising was the city that came in tenth on that list. Here are the top ten:

1 Austin, TX.
2 Oklahoma City.
3 Honolulu.
4 Portland, Ore.
5 Tulsa.
6 Virginia Beach.
7 Seattle.
8 Baltimore.
9 Boston.
10 LANCASTER.

And the LANCASTER on this list is none other than Lancaster, PA. Wow! I found that to be quite encouraging! However, I do think Forbes missed the mark with this article. Now don't get me wrong. I am glad their study reveals my home town as one of the top ten places to ride out this current economic down turn. BUT - the VERY BEST PLACE to ride out any recession is "in the hands of God!" That's right. It doesn't matter what your mailing address is ... if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He is your GOOD SHEPHERD. And if He is your shepherd, you "shall not want!" (see Psalm 23). Jesus Christ put it this way:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:25-33)

So rest easy - no matter where you live. GO hard after God and then leave your NEEDS in His capable hands.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Your Faith Contagious?

Recently a teacher friend of mine came down with conjunctivitis, better known as "pink eye." Pink eye (an inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids) is rarely life threatening but at times can lead to quite a bit of discomfort. But the real problem with pink eye is that it is HIGHLY contagious. I guess we shouldn't be surprised then, when we hear of a school teacher who comes down with pink eye!

As I thought about pink eye, I thought of our faith in Christ and how I wish my faith (and the faith of others) was more contagious. We are surrounded by people on their way to a meeting with God. At that meeting they will be judged. And if their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, they will be cast forever into the lake of fire (check out Revelation chapter 20). That's why I wish my faith were more contagious. Well perhaps it's time to stop wishing it were more contagious ... and start making it more contagious. How can we do so? For starters, consider the following passage:

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wasting Time with God?

Shopping is not something I enjoy doing. In fact, it fits in the category of "have-to" tasks vs. "want-to" tasks (other "have-to" tasks would include going to the dentist, completing my tax returns, and grading exams - just to name a few). Therefore, if I must shop, I am usually in and out of stores as quickly as I can. But there is one type of store I could browse in for hours and that is a bookstore. Whether we're talking a Berean Christian Bookstore or a Barnes & Nobles or a Borders (or even Amazon.com!), I just love checking out potential books to read. And I must admit, I usually end up buying more than I can read! (Right now I am working my way through at least 7 or 8 books - hopefully I will finish at least half of them!)

One of my recent purchases is the book Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God (by Klaus Issler). In a conversation, a friend happened to mention this book, so I checked it out and bought it. Currently I am working my way through chapter 2 - and so far I have enjoyed the book immensely. Just what is the book about? The following is a quote from the back cover:

"When it comes to developing a deep, trusting relationship with God, efficiency and productivity are not the answer. Rather we need to 'waste' time with him, to just enjoy being with him. After all, that's how any friendship grows. Exploring how to make room for God in our fast-paced lives, Issler considers seven character traits and companion disciplines: friendship, humility, faith, commitment, communication, apprenticeship and partnership. These combine to offer a model for a full-orbed Christian spirituality that will be of lasting value."

One of the most compelling quotes from the book that I have encountered in my reading to date actually comes out of the author's acknowledgements section. In fact, it is his last acknowledgement. Here is what he writes, "But most of all, I thank God for being God - mysterious, majestic, personal." Wow! That is our God. As the infinite (read "unlimitable") God he is indeed mysterious. We are finite (read "limited") and so there is much about God that we just can't get our arms around. He is also majestic (the most majestic being by far in the universe and beyond!). And to think that this mysterious and majestic God is personal! Wow! And because He his personal, we can enter into a personal friendship with Him! But to grow that friendship we must be willing to "waste time" with Him! Are you willing???

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tackling Life's Challenges!

For several years a small pub in upstate Pennsylvania has put a challenge on the table: $400 to anyone who could down the Beer Barrel Belly Buster in under five hours. For several years, many a burly man has stepped up to take the challenge - but never finished. That is, until last week. That's when a Uniontown, PA chef named Brad Sciullo walked into the pub. He ordered the Belly Buster (which, by the way is a 15 pound hamburger covered with an additional five pounds of toppings - which is the equivalent of approximately 60 Burger King Whoppers)! Four hours and 39 minutes later, Sciullo had accomplished what many before him had failed to do. For his efforts he was awarded $400, several T-shirts, a certificate and what the pub owner called "a burger hangover."

What motivated Sciullo to tackle the seemingly impossible? In his words, "I wanted to see if I could." Despite his rather average stature (5'11", 180 lbs) - he was up to the challenge and walked out of the pub (or perhaps he was carried out of the pub) $400 richer.

Hmmm. "I wanted to see if I could." As believers in Jesus Christ, I wonder how often when faced with a challenge, we simply give up ... we throw in the proverbial towel. Life is full of obstacles and difficulties (see my posting of yesterday). And when we encounter them - especially the bigger ones that come our way - I think far too often we allow anxiety and fear to grip us ("Oh, woe is me ... how we I ever get through this?"). At these times we must fix our minds on the promises of God (such as "Nothing is impossible with God." [Luke 1:37] AND "I can do everything through him (Jesus Christ) who gives me strength" [Philippians 4:13]).

So as you face today's challenges - remember that you do not face them alone. Jesus Christ the King of the Universe is there with you ... and he will make you able!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Back!

Sharon and I rolled back into town last Friday around 4 PM. We had a wonderful 3 days in Cape May, NJ (which even included wading in the surf, it was that warm - both the air temp and the water temp). I must admit I found the town to be surprisingly delightful. Sharon and I have placed it on our list of places worth a repeat visit. After being in the "wedding mode" for so long, it sure was great to get away and RELAX!

Well little did I realize how short lived that time to relax would be. Soon after arriving back home, we received a phone call from the assisted living facility where my mother-in-law lives that she had fallen and was being transported to the hospital. The exam in the ER showed a fractured shoulder. She was admitted, with the plan to run additional tests today (to help determine the reason for her dizziness which led to the fall). Yesterday, Sharon and I helped her celebrate her 84th birthday.

All this to say life sure is unpredictable. Walking hand-in-hand with your best friend, enjoying the ocean surf one day- then spending an evening in the ER helping to comfort a hurting family member the next. But that is the way life happens ... much like a roller coaster, up one day and down the next. Isn't it great to know that in midst all this turbulence, Jesus Christ has us in HIS hands! And concerning Jesus we are told that He is "the same, yesterday and today and forever!" (Hebrews 13:8). So the next time your life gets rocked - remember that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ - your soul is anchored to the solid rock - the One who NEVER changes! Now that's stability!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'll Be Back Next Week!



My wife, Sharon and I are leaving town this morning for some needed rest and relaxation. We are heading for Cape May, NJ - a place Sharon has always wanted to visit. So we thought this would be a great time to go.

As I close out this short week of blog postings ... a quick question for you: Whose approval are you seeking? Are you seeking the approval of others? Or the approval of God? Consider carefully the following verses:

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)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride - the FINAL Installment!


Now that a day has passed since the wedding, I thought I would share just a few final thoughts about the experience of being the Father of the Bride for my second and final time.





1. I have known many joys in life but the joy of knowing that all three of my children are now married to good spouses ranks up there near the top.

2. Putting together a wedding is far more work than I ever imagined. All the planning, running, phone calls back and forth, dress fittings, tux fittings, etc., etc., etc.. (If I had known what I know now, I think I would have upped the anty on my elopement offer I made to both my daughters! :) )

3. People really matter! What made all three of my children's weddings so special were the family and friends we were able to have present to share the day with us.

4. A wedding may be beautiful - but it is really the marriage that counts. Far too many grooms and brides have a happy wedding day and then lose that happiness somewhere during their marriage. I pray that my children will experience the blessing and happiness that I have enjoyed during my thirty years of marriage to my sweetheart and best friend. But a happy marriage just doesn't happen. It requires a lot of effort and work. Husbands and wives must make their marriage one of their life's top priorities.

I could say far more but I am still quite tired from the whole experience which I found to be emotionally and physically draining.

Today my daughter and her new husband are enjoying their honeymoon . . . and I am one satisfied papa!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again (Part 4)

As I write these words, the big event that has been much planned for, paid for and prayed for ... is a mere four hours away! I am ready!!! Bring it on!

Yesterday's rehearsal ran very smoothly, putting the bride and groom at ease. I think the most nervous people today are the parents of the three year old ring bearer and the parents of the two and four year old flower girls. During the rehearsal, all three made it down the aisle on only the second try ... but today with a crowd of people watching, things might not go so well. But little ones can do about anything and everyone will ooh and aah at their "cuteness!"

As glad as I am for this wedding to be here ... I also have a touch of sadness floating around in my heart. Even though I will officiate many more weddings down the road (God willing), this will be the last wedding of one of my children that I will have the privilege of officiating. I certainly see this as a HUGE perk of being a pastor. Not many dads get to walk their daughter down the aisle and then lead her (and her future husband) in the exchange of their marriage vows.

Either tomorrow or Tuesday I will wrap up these Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again. Right now, I have to begin getting ready - it's not every day that I put on a tux, and I think I might need some extra time to figure it all out. (Hey, honey, where is my tux?)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One More Day to Go!

When our daughter, Emily and son Tim were little, they liked to play "wedding." In this photo Emily is wearing Sharon's wedding dress and Tim the tuxedo jacket in which I was married (They also liked to eat cake!). Well, tomorrow Emily will experience the real thing (which my son did a little over two years ago).

So that makes today my daughter's "Wedding Eve." And boy do I have a lot to do:

- Pick up bagels and cream cheese at Panera Bread (for bridal party's wedding day breakfast)
- Stop at Starbucks (for a cup of coffee, what else?)
- Finish my wedding ceremony notes and print them out
- Help set up for rehearsal dinner
- Conduct wedding rehearsal
- Enjoy rehearsal dinner
- Clean up after rehearsal dinner
- A pile of other misc. tasks that I have forgotten to list (or do not at present foresee doing - which will have to be done. I know this will occur having walked down this path just 3 1/2 months ago!)

Although I will be busy today, I am going to do my best to "stop and smell the roses." I want to "drink it (today's experiences) all in" as this is my last opportunity to be involved in the wedding of one of my own children. My prayer is that this day will be a day of blessing for my daughter, her fiance, my wife and the rest of our family (and friends). God has been so good to us, but that comes as no surprise as He is in His very nature GOOD! Consider the following words:

"For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

P.S. By the way, you know those wedding programs that I thought I was handing off to someone else to do? Well, somehow I got involved in putting them together. Just another "joy" of being the Father of the Bride!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again (Part 3)


In just 56 hours and 9 minutes I will once again be walking one of my little girls down the aisle and giving her away to another man. On one hand, I will relish the moment. After all, this is the goal of parenting - to see your children grow up, mature, become responsible and then "leave the nest" to start life on their own. And since this is our third and last child to be married - it brings a special sense of satisfaction. But on the other hand, I am dreading the moment. It is as if the door to a major chapter of my life is now slamming shut - never to be opened again. I thoroughly enjoyed raising my kids and had a blast doing so (although there were THOSE moments!). Sunday's walk down the aisle will be a reminder that life is now moving on.

HOWEVER, I am more than ready for the next chapter in the parenting cycle -- that of grand parenting. As I see it, grand parenting has all the upside of parenting with little of the downside! I am going to love being a granddad!

But whether we are talking about our kids or our grandkids, we must always remember that these children and grandchildren do not belong to us - they belong to God. God merely loans them to us to raise them for HIM! Pslam 127:3 reminds us that children are a reward from God. Here's one dad who is VERY grateful to God for the three little rewards God sent his way!

More later. . .

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride Again (part 2)

Today I have not spent much time thinking about the wedding. Too many other things on the old "To-Do" list that have been screaming for my attention all day long. Yesterday, however was a different story. My daughter gave me her handwritten wedding program on Monday. I looked at it and said, "No problem! I can do this!" So thinking I could knock it out in a matter of a half hour or so, I went at it. It took all of about 3 minutes to realize that "no problem" had become "no clue!" But by the end of the day, someone who knew what they were doing rescued me .... and the programs were printed. Now they have to be assembled. But that is a task I am passing off to someone else to do!

This reminded me that I need to be more careful in "counting the cost." (Jesus talked about this in Luke 14). So often I start something before "counting the cost" that is involved in completing the task. I think if I were to SLOW down and "count the cost" involved before rushing into things - I might just save myself a lot of heartaches and headaches! And probably the same is true for you!

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again! (Part 1)

In just five days I will be walking my daughter down the aisle. Where has the time gone? The following words of Bob Carlisle's song, Butterfly Kisses sums up pretty well how I am feeling about things today.


Butterfly Kisses

There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.

But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly.

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure-I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over...gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
"Walk my down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.

To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses-I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.

I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yet Another "BIG EVENT" Is Coming!

In just six days, my oldest daughter, Emily will be marrying her fiance, Matt (who apart from being a Cleveland Browns fan is a GREAT guy!). Having just gone through this process (back on June 29th my youngest daughter, Kate was married - to some guy named Ryan - whom we have grown to love very much!), it is with joyful anticipation that I look forward to Sunday!

Across the course of the next several days ... I will be posting some blogs again under the title of "Reflections of the Father of the Bride." You can consider it the sequel to my postings back in June leading up to Kate's wedding. I hope you stop back!

Until then . . .

pj

Friday, October 3, 2008

You Need to Go on a Date!

As you begin the weekend - let me suggest you take your spouse (or boy/girlfriend) on a date. Dinner and a movie is always in order. I'll leave the choice of restaurant up to you ... but let me suggest the movie choice. Last Friday I highly recommended the movie Fireproof. The movie stars Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) and is about a firefighter and his troubled marriage. Well, I saw the movie today. And now I must VERY highly recommend it to you. Whether you have the most solid marriage on the planet -- or you are about to make a call to an attorney (or you are simply not married or even attached at the moment) - this movie is a MUST-see! It is entertaining. It is funny. It is moving. And it points to the One whom life is all about! So, grab your honey's hand -- or call a friend and go see Fireproof. But be sure to take a few tissues with you ... your eyes just might start sweating (as mine did - it was awfully warm in the theater!!!).

Here again is the trailer for the movie. Enjoy it -- then go see the real thing!





Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Beware You Don't Miss the Obvious!

Recently, someone set me a video that I found quite interesting. If you have a couple of minutes, please watch the following. Then scroll down and read my comments (but do NOT read my comments before viewing the video).














Now, I must confess I missed the obvious on my first view. I was so busy and intent on counting the passes ... that I missed the gorilla! Funny ... yes, but sobering too. Why do I say it's sobering? For this reason: So many of us are so intent on making a living here on earth --- going to work, running our kids to soccer practice, doing our grocery shopping, etc. --- that it can be very easy for us to miss the obvious. And what is the obvious? Simply that this life is only the first of two lives that we will live AND that this life is by far the shorter and more brutish of the two. So all this to say - DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF HEAVEN! Make choices now that will have consequences then! Really, what is even 90 years on earth compared to an eternity in heaven?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What - The Philadelphia Phanatic a Threat?

I have seen many sport's mascots across the years. The Pittsburgh Pirates' Parrot, the Penn State Nittany Lion's Lion, and the Lancaster Barnstormers' Cylo - just to name a few. But I must confess that my all time fav is the Phillies' Phanatic. He is just so adorable and so entertaining!

Last week, when authorities found some suspicious looking packages outside of Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, the evidence trail led right to this furry green fan favorite. Here's what happened.

Several hours before the Phillies were scheduled to play the Atlanta Braves last Wednesday, the Phanatic was involved in the shooting of a commercial. The ad showed him launching some heavily wrapped hot dogs from a hand held launcher. When the shooting was all done, someone mistakenly left three of the duct-taped hot dogs laying just outside the ball park. When they were discovered, the bomb squad was called in and the hot dogs blown up. Only after doing so did authorities discover that their bomb threat was three measly doggies. Frankly put, the Phillies' execs who made the call might have been somewhat embarrassed, but they defended their actions (to call in the bomb squad and evacuate the workers who had already arrived at the ball park) as the right thing to do. In their words, "It turned out to be nothing. We could have gone over and picked it up and thrown it in the trash and been done with it. But if we had been wrong, somebody might have lost an arm."

The moral of this story is that not everything is as it appears to be. What authorities saw as a possible bomb was in reality routine ballpark fare - nothing more. Sometimes as we look at life and life being lived all around us - we can be tempted to think "This is it! This is reality!" This "what-you-see-is-what-there-is" approach to reality has a label. It is called "naturalism." Many people in our world today have bought into this view of our world. However, not everything is as it appears to be. And although it may appear that this world as we experience it is all there is to reality - we know from the Bible that there is another realm .... another dimension that exists that we cannot experience with our normal physical senses. But that does not make it any less real! The supernatural realm is just as real as this natural world in which we live and move and have our being! For an interesting read about this, take a moment and read the following passage: 2 Kings 6:8-17.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Better Way!

I just read a story that got me slightly peeved. No, better said, A LOT PEEVED! It concerns Washington Mutual's (a.k.a. WaMu)new CEO, Alan Fishman. Now if you have been following the news, then you will know that WaMu has the distinction of being the largest bank to fail in U.S. history (at least to date!). Now listen to the following information that I just read on the Internet:

"After just 432 hours on the job -- during which time he presided over the complete collapse of the company -- Fishman stands to collect more than $19 million in pay.

That's right: $19 million for 18 days work, or an annualized rate of $385 million. $1.05 million per day. $44,000 per hour. More money than most people will make in several lifetimes, all to watch one of America's largest banks spiral into failure"
(from article titled, WaMu Richly Rewards CEO Failure, posted on www.fool.com).

So how does that make you feel? A bit peeved? All I can say is that this situation exposes a big part of the reason we are facing the economic crisis that we are facing today. And it is not just greed on the corporate level (although that is a significant factor). It is greed on every level. All of us can be tempted toward greed. As followers of Christ we must learn to put off greed and put on contentment in its place. Paul the apostle puts it this way:

"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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (i Timothy 6:6-11).

So let's flee from the "love of money" and pursue the virtues mentioned by Paul. And as we do, let's purpose to be CONTENT! It is the BETTER way!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 31, 2008

Will the Real Biggest Loser Please Stand Up?

Manuel Uribe set a Guinness Book World Record back in 2006, when he weighed an astonishing 1,230 pounds! Since then, he has shed an amazing 550 pounds - still leaving him with plenty more pounds to lose (and I thought I had it tough with the weight I should lose!). Manuel was in the news recently as he married his long time sweetheart. Since he has not been able to leave his bed in six years, his bride did all the walking and standing during the ceremony - a ceremony which left Manuel in tears. Now that he is married, Manuel has set a goal to become the world's biggest loser. The current Guinness World Records for weight loss are held by and American woman Rosalie Bradford at 907 pounds lost, and a British man Jon Brower Minnoch who lost 924 pounds. So Manuel has a few pounds to go! But concerning his fight against his obesity, Manuel said, "The doctors told me I had a choice. To choose life or to choose death. I chose life."

Now those are good words that reveal the kind of attitude we all should cultivate. Since all of us face difficulties (you may even be facing a HUGE one right now!), we all need to remember that how we face life's difficulties is a CHOICE. Just as Maneul Uribe made the right choice to try and overcome his obesity, we must do the same no matter what our difficult situation might be. So the question we must all answer is this: Will we choose to do our best to meet the challenge while trusting God to work in us and around us? Or will we choose to grumble and complain and adopt a victim mentality ("Oh, woe is me!")? This choice will make all the difference as to whether we will rise above our difficulties or our difficulties will rise above us!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What Are You Passing On?

You'd better keep your outside lights on tonight! Why? Tonight is what is commonly referred to as "Mischief Night." Most common in the Northeastern U.S., Ireland, England and Canada, it is a night when young people play pranks on their neighbors. These pranks include soaping windows, ringing doorbells and then running away and "T-ping" (taking rolls of toilet paper and draping the TP over trees and houses) - and a list of other things (unfortunately sometimes these pranks can and do get out of hand!). Where and why this practice originated - I do not know (I did a brief scan of Internet info and found it to be somewhat confusing concerning the origin of this practice). So all this to say - keep your outside lights on tonight and it should keep would be pranksters away!

Why do young people get involved in these things? Is it something that is taught in school? No. Rather younger kids hear about it from older kids who heard about it from their parents. In other words, this tradition of "Mischief Night" has been passed down from one generation to the next. And what is true of "Mischief Night" is also true of many things. Values, beliefs, practices -- all get passed on from one generation to another. There is nothing wrong with this ... as long as what is being passed on is good stuff.

So if you are a parent ... let me ask you, "What are you passing on to your children?" I hope you are passing on the things that matter - values, beliefs, standards, and priorities that are based solidly on the teachings of the Bible. Along with your spouse, take some time to answer this question. The welfare of your kids is on the line. Because if they don't get God's way from you - WHO will they get it from?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Call to Prayer!

Just one week from today, Americans will go to their polling places and vote in the next president of our country. With such a monumental decision before us ... I invite all who read this to join me at noon each day leading up to the election. Take a moment to pause and pray for our nation. Consider the following prayer of Billy Graham for our nation:

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snow Is on the Way - but So Is Jesus!

This morning I saw the dreaded "S" word in today weather's forecast (at least for many of us!). Yep. That's right. You probably heard it too (if you live in the Lancaster area). Snow may be falling before the day is over. Now, it won't lay on the ground - but the fact that we might see snow flakes floating down from above is just a foretaste of what most likely lies ahead of us. And if meteorologist Joe Bastardi of Accu Weather is right, we are facing a winter with below normal temps and above normal precipitation. To me, that sounds like the formula for a lot of the white stuff! Hmm. I'll have to make sure my snow blower is in working condition soon!

Now we all know with weather forecasts, there are many variables that go into the making of a forecast. Therefore, forecasts can be way off the mark. And usually the longer range the forecast the higher probability that the forecast will be inaccurate. I'm hoping that is the case with the forecast for the upcoming winter!

However, when God makes a forecast, it does not matter how "long range" it might be! His forecasts for the future are ALWAYS 100% on the mark! How so? Because as the book of Daniel (and other books of the Bible) demonstrates, our God is sovereign over the affairs of men and the ebb and flow of human history! So when he forecasts, for example, the return of His Son to this earth - you can count on it occurring. He just hasn't revealed to us the date. So if we are going to get our snow blowers set for action based on an uncertain long range weather forecast, then how much more do we need to be sure we are ready for the return of Jesus Christ? If you have any questions about your readiness to meet him - please don't hesitate to email me at jsmith@gracewv.org. I would be glad to "chat" with you!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recession Proof?

This morning when the stock market opened, I happened to notice on my MSN home page that within minutes of the opening bell, stocks fell over 400 points. Now 6 months ago, that might have shocked me. Today it's becoming routine. Up a couple hundred one day, down several hundred the next. Consumer confidence is at an all time low and home foreclosures at an all time high. Unemployment is climbing .... and the only good economic news is the fact that oil prices are falling.

In light of all this economic turmoil, Forbes Magazine recently published an article which gave the results of a study Forbes conducted. The results of the study reveals the best places (and the worst places) in the U.S. to "ride out the recession." At the top of list of best places - Austin, Texas. Not all that surprising given the fact that Austin is the state capital AND the home of the University of Texas. That combination makes for a lot of job security. However, what I did find surprising was the city that came in tenth on that list. Here are the top ten:

1 Austin, TX.
2 Oklahoma City.
3 Honolulu.
4 Portland, Ore.
5 Tulsa.
6 Virginia Beach.
7 Seattle.
8 Baltimore.
9 Boston.
10 LANCASTER.

And the LANCASTER on this list is none other than Lancaster, PA. Wow! I found that to be quite encouraging! However, I do think Forbes missed the mark with this article. Now don't get me wrong. I am glad their study reveals my home town as one of the top ten places to ride out this current economic down turn. BUT - the VERY BEST PLACE to ride out any recession is "in the hands of God!" That's right. It doesn't matter what your mailing address is ... if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He is your GOOD SHEPHERD. And if He is your shepherd, you "shall not want!" (see Psalm 23). Jesus Christ put it this way:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:25-33)

So rest easy - no matter where you live. GO hard after God and then leave your NEEDS in His capable hands.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Your Faith Contagious?

Recently a teacher friend of mine came down with conjunctivitis, better known as "pink eye." Pink eye (an inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids) is rarely life threatening but at times can lead to quite a bit of discomfort. But the real problem with pink eye is that it is HIGHLY contagious. I guess we shouldn't be surprised then, when we hear of a school teacher who comes down with pink eye!

As I thought about pink eye, I thought of our faith in Christ and how I wish my faith (and the faith of others) was more contagious. We are surrounded by people on their way to a meeting with God. At that meeting they will be judged. And if their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, they will be cast forever into the lake of fire (check out Revelation chapter 20). That's why I wish my faith were more contagious. Well perhaps it's time to stop wishing it were more contagious ... and start making it more contagious. How can we do so? For starters, consider the following passage:

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wasting Time with God?

Shopping is not something I enjoy doing. In fact, it fits in the category of "have-to" tasks vs. "want-to" tasks (other "have-to" tasks would include going to the dentist, completing my tax returns, and grading exams - just to name a few). Therefore, if I must shop, I am usually in and out of stores as quickly as I can. But there is one type of store I could browse in for hours and that is a bookstore. Whether we're talking a Berean Christian Bookstore or a Barnes & Nobles or a Borders (or even Amazon.com!), I just love checking out potential books to read. And I must admit, I usually end up buying more than I can read! (Right now I am working my way through at least 7 or 8 books - hopefully I will finish at least half of them!)

One of my recent purchases is the book Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God (by Klaus Issler). In a conversation, a friend happened to mention this book, so I checked it out and bought it. Currently I am working my way through chapter 2 - and so far I have enjoyed the book immensely. Just what is the book about? The following is a quote from the back cover:

"When it comes to developing a deep, trusting relationship with God, efficiency and productivity are not the answer. Rather we need to 'waste' time with him, to just enjoy being with him. After all, that's how any friendship grows. Exploring how to make room for God in our fast-paced lives, Issler considers seven character traits and companion disciplines: friendship, humility, faith, commitment, communication, apprenticeship and partnership. These combine to offer a model for a full-orbed Christian spirituality that will be of lasting value."

One of the most compelling quotes from the book that I have encountered in my reading to date actually comes out of the author's acknowledgements section. In fact, it is his last acknowledgement. Here is what he writes, "But most of all, I thank God for being God - mysterious, majestic, personal." Wow! That is our God. As the infinite (read "unlimitable") God he is indeed mysterious. We are finite (read "limited") and so there is much about God that we just can't get our arms around. He is also majestic (the most majestic being by far in the universe and beyond!). And to think that this mysterious and majestic God is personal! Wow! And because He his personal, we can enter into a personal friendship with Him! But to grow that friendship we must be willing to "waste time" with Him! Are you willing???

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tackling Life's Challenges!

For several years a small pub in upstate Pennsylvania has put a challenge on the table: $400 to anyone who could down the Beer Barrel Belly Buster in under five hours. For several years, many a burly man has stepped up to take the challenge - but never finished. That is, until last week. That's when a Uniontown, PA chef named Brad Sciullo walked into the pub. He ordered the Belly Buster (which, by the way is a 15 pound hamburger covered with an additional five pounds of toppings - which is the equivalent of approximately 60 Burger King Whoppers)! Four hours and 39 minutes later, Sciullo had accomplished what many before him had failed to do. For his efforts he was awarded $400, several T-shirts, a certificate and what the pub owner called "a burger hangover."

What motivated Sciullo to tackle the seemingly impossible? In his words, "I wanted to see if I could." Despite his rather average stature (5'11", 180 lbs) - he was up to the challenge and walked out of the pub (or perhaps he was carried out of the pub) $400 richer.

Hmmm. "I wanted to see if I could." As believers in Jesus Christ, I wonder how often when faced with a challenge, we simply give up ... we throw in the proverbial towel. Life is full of obstacles and difficulties (see my posting of yesterday). And when we encounter them - especially the bigger ones that come our way - I think far too often we allow anxiety and fear to grip us ("Oh, woe is me ... how we I ever get through this?"). At these times we must fix our minds on the promises of God (such as "Nothing is impossible with God." [Luke 1:37] AND "I can do everything through him (Jesus Christ) who gives me strength" [Philippians 4:13]).

So as you face today's challenges - remember that you do not face them alone. Jesus Christ the King of the Universe is there with you ... and he will make you able!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Back!

Sharon and I rolled back into town last Friday around 4 PM. We had a wonderful 3 days in Cape May, NJ (which even included wading in the surf, it was that warm - both the air temp and the water temp). I must admit I found the town to be surprisingly delightful. Sharon and I have placed it on our list of places worth a repeat visit. After being in the "wedding mode" for so long, it sure was great to get away and RELAX!

Well little did I realize how short lived that time to relax would be. Soon after arriving back home, we received a phone call from the assisted living facility where my mother-in-law lives that she had fallen and was being transported to the hospital. The exam in the ER showed a fractured shoulder. She was admitted, with the plan to run additional tests today (to help determine the reason for her dizziness which led to the fall). Yesterday, Sharon and I helped her celebrate her 84th birthday.

All this to say life sure is unpredictable. Walking hand-in-hand with your best friend, enjoying the ocean surf one day- then spending an evening in the ER helping to comfort a hurting family member the next. But that is the way life happens ... much like a roller coaster, up one day and down the next. Isn't it great to know that in midst all this turbulence, Jesus Christ has us in HIS hands! And concerning Jesus we are told that He is "the same, yesterday and today and forever!" (Hebrews 13:8). So the next time your life gets rocked - remember that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ - your soul is anchored to the solid rock - the One who NEVER changes! Now that's stability!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'll Be Back Next Week!



My wife, Sharon and I are leaving town this morning for some needed rest and relaxation. We are heading for Cape May, NJ - a place Sharon has always wanted to visit. So we thought this would be a great time to go.

As I close out this short week of blog postings ... a quick question for you: Whose approval are you seeking? Are you seeking the approval of others? Or the approval of God? Consider carefully the following verses:

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)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride - the FINAL Installment!


Now that a day has passed since the wedding, I thought I would share just a few final thoughts about the experience of being the Father of the Bride for my second and final time.





1. I have known many joys in life but the joy of knowing that all three of my children are now married to good spouses ranks up there near the top.

2. Putting together a wedding is far more work than I ever imagined. All the planning, running, phone calls back and forth, dress fittings, tux fittings, etc., etc., etc.. (If I had known what I know now, I think I would have upped the anty on my elopement offer I made to both my daughters! :) )

3. People really matter! What made all three of my children's weddings so special were the family and friends we were able to have present to share the day with us.

4. A wedding may be beautiful - but it is really the marriage that counts. Far too many grooms and brides have a happy wedding day and then lose that happiness somewhere during their marriage. I pray that my children will experience the blessing and happiness that I have enjoyed during my thirty years of marriage to my sweetheart and best friend. But a happy marriage just doesn't happen. It requires a lot of effort and work. Husbands and wives must make their marriage one of their life's top priorities.

I could say far more but I am still quite tired from the whole experience which I found to be emotionally and physically draining.

Today my daughter and her new husband are enjoying their honeymoon . . . and I am one satisfied papa!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again (Part 4)

As I write these words, the big event that has been much planned for, paid for and prayed for ... is a mere four hours away! I am ready!!! Bring it on!

Yesterday's rehearsal ran very smoothly, putting the bride and groom at ease. I think the most nervous people today are the parents of the three year old ring bearer and the parents of the two and four year old flower girls. During the rehearsal, all three made it down the aisle on only the second try ... but today with a crowd of people watching, things might not go so well. But little ones can do about anything and everyone will ooh and aah at their "cuteness!"

As glad as I am for this wedding to be here ... I also have a touch of sadness floating around in my heart. Even though I will officiate many more weddings down the road (God willing), this will be the last wedding of one of my children that I will have the privilege of officiating. I certainly see this as a HUGE perk of being a pastor. Not many dads get to walk their daughter down the aisle and then lead her (and her future husband) in the exchange of their marriage vows.

Either tomorrow or Tuesday I will wrap up these Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again. Right now, I have to begin getting ready - it's not every day that I put on a tux, and I think I might need some extra time to figure it all out. (Hey, honey, where is my tux?)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One More Day to Go!

When our daughter, Emily and son Tim were little, they liked to play "wedding." In this photo Emily is wearing Sharon's wedding dress and Tim the tuxedo jacket in which I was married (They also liked to eat cake!). Well, tomorrow Emily will experience the real thing (which my son did a little over two years ago).

So that makes today my daughter's "Wedding Eve." And boy do I have a lot to do:

- Pick up bagels and cream cheese at Panera Bread (for bridal party's wedding day breakfast)
- Stop at Starbucks (for a cup of coffee, what else?)
- Finish my wedding ceremony notes and print them out
- Help set up for rehearsal dinner
- Conduct wedding rehearsal
- Enjoy rehearsal dinner
- Clean up after rehearsal dinner
- A pile of other misc. tasks that I have forgotten to list (or do not at present foresee doing - which will have to be done. I know this will occur having walked down this path just 3 1/2 months ago!)

Although I will be busy today, I am going to do my best to "stop and smell the roses." I want to "drink it (today's experiences) all in" as this is my last opportunity to be involved in the wedding of one of my own children. My prayer is that this day will be a day of blessing for my daughter, her fiance, my wife and the rest of our family (and friends). God has been so good to us, but that comes as no surprise as He is in His very nature GOOD! Consider the following words:

"For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

P.S. By the way, you know those wedding programs that I thought I was handing off to someone else to do? Well, somehow I got involved in putting them together. Just another "joy" of being the Father of the Bride!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again (Part 3)


In just 56 hours and 9 minutes I will once again be walking one of my little girls down the aisle and giving her away to another man. On one hand, I will relish the moment. After all, this is the goal of parenting - to see your children grow up, mature, become responsible and then "leave the nest" to start life on their own. And since this is our third and last child to be married - it brings a special sense of satisfaction. But on the other hand, I am dreading the moment. It is as if the door to a major chapter of my life is now slamming shut - never to be opened again. I thoroughly enjoyed raising my kids and had a blast doing so (although there were THOSE moments!). Sunday's walk down the aisle will be a reminder that life is now moving on.

HOWEVER, I am more than ready for the next chapter in the parenting cycle -- that of grand parenting. As I see it, grand parenting has all the upside of parenting with little of the downside! I am going to love being a granddad!

But whether we are talking about our kids or our grandkids, we must always remember that these children and grandchildren do not belong to us - they belong to God. God merely loans them to us to raise them for HIM! Pslam 127:3 reminds us that children are a reward from God. Here's one dad who is VERY grateful to God for the three little rewards God sent his way!

More later. . .

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride Again (part 2)

Today I have not spent much time thinking about the wedding. Too many other things on the old "To-Do" list that have been screaming for my attention all day long. Yesterday, however was a different story. My daughter gave me her handwritten wedding program on Monday. I looked at it and said, "No problem! I can do this!" So thinking I could knock it out in a matter of a half hour or so, I went at it. It took all of about 3 minutes to realize that "no problem" had become "no clue!" But by the end of the day, someone who knew what they were doing rescued me .... and the programs were printed. Now they have to be assembled. But that is a task I am passing off to someone else to do!

This reminded me that I need to be more careful in "counting the cost." (Jesus talked about this in Luke 14). So often I start something before "counting the cost" that is involved in completing the task. I think if I were to SLOW down and "count the cost" involved before rushing into things - I might just save myself a lot of heartaches and headaches! And probably the same is true for you!

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reflections of the Father of the Bride, Again! (Part 1)

In just five days I will be walking my daughter down the aisle. Where has the time gone? The following words of Bob Carlisle's song, Butterfly Kisses sums up pretty well how I am feeling about things today.


Butterfly Kisses

There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.

But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly.

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure-I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over...gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
"Walk my down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.

To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses-I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.

I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yet Another "BIG EVENT" Is Coming!

In just six days, my oldest daughter, Emily will be marrying her fiance, Matt (who apart from being a Cleveland Browns fan is a GREAT guy!). Having just gone through this process (back on June 29th my youngest daughter, Kate was married - to some guy named Ryan - whom we have grown to love very much!), it is with joyful anticipation that I look forward to Sunday!

Across the course of the next several days ... I will be posting some blogs again under the title of "Reflections of the Father of the Bride." You can consider it the sequel to my postings back in June leading up to Kate's wedding. I hope you stop back!

Until then . . .

pj

Friday, October 3, 2008

You Need to Go on a Date!

As you begin the weekend - let me suggest you take your spouse (or boy/girlfriend) on a date. Dinner and a movie is always in order. I'll leave the choice of restaurant up to you ... but let me suggest the movie choice. Last Friday I highly recommended the movie Fireproof. The movie stars Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) and is about a firefighter and his troubled marriage. Well, I saw the movie today. And now I must VERY highly recommend it to you. Whether you have the most solid marriage on the planet -- or you are about to make a call to an attorney (or you are simply not married or even attached at the moment) - this movie is a MUST-see! It is entertaining. It is funny. It is moving. And it points to the One whom life is all about! So, grab your honey's hand -- or call a friend and go see Fireproof. But be sure to take a few tissues with you ... your eyes just might start sweating (as mine did - it was awfully warm in the theater!!!).

Here again is the trailer for the movie. Enjoy it -- then go see the real thing!





Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Beware You Don't Miss the Obvious!

Recently, someone set me a video that I found quite interesting. If you have a couple of minutes, please watch the following. Then scroll down and read my comments (but do NOT read my comments before viewing the video).














Now, I must confess I missed the obvious on my first view. I was so busy and intent on counting the passes ... that I missed the gorilla! Funny ... yes, but sobering too. Why do I say it's sobering? For this reason: So many of us are so intent on making a living here on earth --- going to work, running our kids to soccer practice, doing our grocery shopping, etc. --- that it can be very easy for us to miss the obvious. And what is the obvious? Simply that this life is only the first of two lives that we will live AND that this life is by far the shorter and more brutish of the two. So all this to say - DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF HEAVEN! Make choices now that will have consequences then! Really, what is even 90 years on earth compared to an eternity in heaven?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What - The Philadelphia Phanatic a Threat?

I have seen many sport's mascots across the years. The Pittsburgh Pirates' Parrot, the Penn State Nittany Lion's Lion, and the Lancaster Barnstormers' Cylo - just to name a few. But I must confess that my all time fav is the Phillies' Phanatic. He is just so adorable and so entertaining!

Last week, when authorities found some suspicious looking packages outside of Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia, the evidence trail led right to this furry green fan favorite. Here's what happened.

Several hours before the Phillies were scheduled to play the Atlanta Braves last Wednesday, the Phanatic was involved in the shooting of a commercial. The ad showed him launching some heavily wrapped hot dogs from a hand held launcher. When the shooting was all done, someone mistakenly left three of the duct-taped hot dogs laying just outside the ball park. When they were discovered, the bomb squad was called in and the hot dogs blown up. Only after doing so did authorities discover that their bomb threat was three measly doggies. Frankly put, the Phillies' execs who made the call might have been somewhat embarrassed, but they defended their actions (to call in the bomb squad and evacuate the workers who had already arrived at the ball park) as the right thing to do. In their words, "It turned out to be nothing. We could have gone over and picked it up and thrown it in the trash and been done with it. But if we had been wrong, somebody might have lost an arm."

The moral of this story is that not everything is as it appears to be. What authorities saw as a possible bomb was in reality routine ballpark fare - nothing more. Sometimes as we look at life and life being lived all around us - we can be tempted to think "This is it! This is reality!" This "what-you-see-is-what-there-is" approach to reality has a label. It is called "naturalism." Many people in our world today have bought into this view of our world. However, not everything is as it appears to be. And although it may appear that this world as we experience it is all there is to reality - we know from the Bible that there is another realm .... another dimension that exists that we cannot experience with our normal physical senses. But that does not make it any less real! The supernatural realm is just as real as this natural world in which we live and move and have our being! For an interesting read about this, take a moment and read the following passage: 2 Kings 6:8-17.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Better Way!

I just read a story that got me slightly peeved. No, better said, A LOT PEEVED! It concerns Washington Mutual's (a.k.a. WaMu)new CEO, Alan Fishman. Now if you have been following the news, then you will know that WaMu has the distinction of being the largest bank to fail in U.S. history (at least to date!). Now listen to the following information that I just read on the Internet:

"After just 432 hours on the job -- during which time he presided over the complete collapse of the company -- Fishman stands to collect more than $19 million in pay.

That's right: $19 million for 18 days work, or an annualized rate of $385 million. $1.05 million per day. $44,000 per hour. More money than most people will make in several lifetimes, all to watch one of America's largest banks spiral into failure"
(from article titled, WaMu Richly Rewards CEO Failure, posted on www.fool.com).

So how does that make you feel? A bit peeved? All I can say is that this situation exposes a big part of the reason we are facing the economic crisis that we are facing today. And it is not just greed on the corporate level (although that is a significant factor). It is greed on every level. All of us can be tempted toward greed. As followers of Christ we must learn to put off greed and put on contentment in its place. Paul the apostle puts it this way:

"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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (i Timothy 6:6-11).

So let's flee from the "love of money" and pursue the virtues mentioned by Paul. And as we do, let's purpose to be CONTENT! It is the BETTER way!

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.