PJ

PJ

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!



Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)



Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)







Thanks for stopping by ... and have a blessed THANKSGIVING celebration!

pj

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanking God as Our World Is in Crisis!

Modern day pirates are taking ships and lives off the coast of Africa. Warfare rages around the globe (over 30 current conflicts according to globalsecurity.org). Recent natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis) have taken thousands upon thousands of lives. World economies are crumbling. It is clear that our world is being shaken to its very core.

But as followers of Jesus, should we be filled with anxiety and a sense of dread? Certainly not! For as Believers, we receive "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Hebrews 12:28). This kingdom is none other than the Kingdom of God. And though the our world might appear to be on the verge of collapse - God's Kingdom is ROCK SOLID! So do you see why we should not be anxious or full of fear? Instead, we must "show gratitude by which we may offer to God and acceptable service with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).

Tomorrow, as you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, be sure to thank God for His unshakable Kingdom (and the reality that due to HIS grace, you are a part of it!). But don't stop with tomorrow. Thank God EVERYDAY -- and in that attitude of gratitude offer to the King the service He is due!

Thanks for stopping by ... and a BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL! I THANK GOD FOR EACH ONE OF YOU!

pj

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So, Who Are You Going to Lean on?

Recently in my reading I ran across a quote that really (I mean REALLY!) got me thinking! These words were written by Elizabeth Elliot. Her husband was one of the five missionaries killed by the Auca Indians in 1956. Elizabeth writes,

"It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God's and the call is God's and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package - our bravery, our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses . . . [God uses] as the instruments of His peace a conglomeration of sinners who sometimes look like heroes and sometimes like villains, for 'we are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure [the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ], and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God's alone.' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NEB)"

Those our powerful words spoken by a woman whose personal world came crashing around her when her young husband was struck down in the prime of life. Especially considering he was killed trying to reach his soon-to-be murderers with the Gospel. Soldiers and cops are expected to die in the line of duty - but not missionaries! Yet through this dark valley Elizabeth Elliot learned that she could lean on God and HIS power to accomplish HIS purposes. That is a lesson I need to learn and re-learn. All too often, I want to be in control. And so I go through life depending way too much on MY power rather than HIS power. Ouch! May God help me (and YOU) lean more on HIM!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Prodigy

A prodigy is defined as being "a person, especially a child or young person, having extraordinary talent or ability: a musical prodigy" (source: dictionary.com). Take a moment and view this video and you may just find yourself listening to a prodigy!




Wow! This girl can sure tickle those keys! I could practice the piano for 8 hours a day for the rest of my life and not be able to play as well as this six year old can! But that is OK by me. I know that playing the piano is not one of my gifts. So I content myself to sitting back and listening to those who have the gift and ability to play piano (or any other musical instrument for that matter).

But what about the gifts and abilities that I do possess? All of us have been given different gifts/abilities by God. And sitting back and not utilizing them is not an option. God shapes us so that we in turn might serve him and serve others (for His sake!). Ephesians 2:10 is a great reminder of this truth. The Apostle Paul writes, "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

So let me ask you -- just what are your gifts and abilities and how are you currently using them to serve God and others? One day we will all be called upon to give an account to God of our "stewardship" of our God-given SHAPE. Will you be ready?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Concerning Tuxedos

From my recent wedding experiences in marrying off our daughters (not to mention my son's wedding in July of 2006), I learned a number of things about tuxes. First, they are expensive to rent (even with the discount I received as “father of the bride!”). In addition, they are quite warm. No matter the season (in my case it was summer and early fall) – tuxes have a way of maintaining body heat. Also I learned that they have a way of making a person look rather sharp (at least that’s what a lot of people told me – so either they were just trying to be nice, or they felt sorry for me – knowing I probably spent a lot on its rental – or they were being honest. I’ll opt for the latter!). All in all I’d have to say that my experiences with tuxedos (the first in some 28 years) – were far better than I had expected.

In our “dress-down” increasingly “casual” society, weddings are still one of those few times where people, for the most part, still “dress up.” I like that. I think it’s a good thing. When I scan the guests at weddings, I enjoy seeing people in their fine attire. There is coming a wedding banquet for followers of Jesus Christ. It will take place at some undisclosed date in the future. The Bible refers to it as the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” It is discussed in Revelation chapter 19. In verses 7 and 8 we read, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"

Did you catch what was said about what we will be wearing to this tremendous celebration? We will be wearing fine linen – and this fine linen stands for our “righteous acts!” So I rented the tux I wore for my son’s wedding, but for THE SON’S wedding, I will be wearing attire that I make by myself for myself. And I am making it right NOW – in this life. Gulp! And this is true for every follower of Christ. So the question for me – and for YOU is this: How will we be dressed at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? Rags? Scruffy tee shirt and ratty jeans? Or will we be in attire more fitting for a wedding celebration? It’s all up to YOU (and me!). Living for Jesus will weave for us attire appropriate for that occasion. So by God’s grace – let’s go live for HIM and get ready for the wedding to come!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tyranny of the Urgent

A number of years ago, Charles Hummel wrote a little book titled, The Tyranny of the Urgent. In this short but powerful booklet, he reminds us of just how easily we can get distracted from what is truly the important things of life. How so? Hummel points out that all of us every day face what he calls life's urgent demands (things like paying the household bills, raking the leaves, running the kids to soccer practice, buying the groceries or doing the laundry). These things have to be done ... and most of them have to be done RIGHT NOW! But the more important priorities in life (such as time spent with God in prayer and the Word, calling to talk with a distant friend, playing in the back yard with your kids, or talking about your dreams with your spouse) - these things can be left undone. And as the urgent demands continue to scream at us - we can tend to lose sight of the truly important.

I am feeling a bit harried by life's urgent demands. I must admit that I have not spent much time with God the last couple of days. So as soon as I post this - I am going to walk away from the urgent tasks on my desk and go spend time with God. These things will still be here tomorrow. I will tackle the pile then!

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down Time on the Weekend

Weekends are a great time to enjoy some "down time" as most people take a break from their work-week routine (although, my weekends tend to be the busiest time of my week!). Be sure this weekend to give some quality time to your family and other close relationships ... and also to God! Take a moment and think about the following quote:

"I cannot understand how there's always the present, and how quickly the present becomes the past." (Dean Meyers)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Love My Church!

In recent years, "The Church" has taken a bad rap. Books such as Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It and So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore? remind us that many people don't think too highly of "The Church."

I want to go on record of saying that I LOVE my church (which is one of a multitude of local expressions of "The Church"). And I am not alone. Jesus Christ also loves my church. One of several New Testament metaphors for "The Church" is that of "the Bride of Christ." Jesus loves "The Church" (and therefore each local expression of "The Church") because "The Church" is HIS bride! He died for her and He is at work in her "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:26-27). Did you catch that? "The Church" (and again, read here - my church as one of its local expressions) is not perfect! Jesus Himself is working on her so that one day yet future she WILL be perfect. But until that day "The Church" will not be perfect - but rather a "work in progress!"

So bottom line, my church is not perfect. I know this to be true (for starters, I am part of my church and I know far too well that I am FAR from perfect!). But I still love my church -- warts and all. I hope you love yours, too because Jesus surely does!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buddah? God? Or Something Else?

Ram Bahadur Bamjan sits quietly in the jungles of southern Nepal. But he doesn't sit alone. In spite of being only 18 years old, Bamjan has attracted thousands of followers. And just what is it about this teen with the flowing locks and white robe that has garnered the adoration of so many? The crowds come because they believe him to be the reincarnation of Buddha. But for many - he's even more! Here is what a few of his followers have said about Bamjan:

"I got a chance to see God today. They say he is Buddha, but for me he is just God."
(Bishnu Maya Khadka, a housewife)

"I have no doubt in my mind he is a God." (Meg Bahadur Lama, a local farmer)


So what are these people basing their judgment about Bamjan's identity upon? Just what is the evidence they cite for making such a claim? They believe Bamjan has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Wow! That's about three years (or 1095 days). If true that would be quite the feat, especially considering that Jesus only went 40 days without eating! I wonder if he is under observation 24/7/365. My guess is he is sneaking in food and water when no one's watching!

So really - who is this guy who many believe to be a reincarnation of Buddha or even God? I don't know. But I do know who he is NOT. And he is neither Buddha reincarnate nor God. Concerning reincarnation - the Bible clearly states that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So according to God's Word, it's once and done when it comes to the life we live on this earth. And concerning the deity of this teen, only one individual who ever walked this earth could make a legitimate claim to deity - and his name is Jesus (for an excellent article on the evidence for Christ's deity, see: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/deityofx.html; also for a briefer read see: http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2548425/k.82B9/Deity_of_Christ.htm).

I am saddened by this spiritual darkness that manifests itself in the belief that an 18 year old man is a reincarnated "holy man" or even God! But we can be encouraged that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World -- and light always conquers darkness!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Fragrance of Gratitude

Years ago an incident occurred on the Metro in Washington, DC in which a crowded subway train stalled on the tracks. Before stalling, the riders were dozing, reading or just "zoning out." But once the train stalled (and stayed stalled) - the harried commuters, all anxious to get to their homes, exploded. They noisily vented their anger and frustration. They blamed the driver, the Metro authorities, the federal government and anyone else that came to mind for this irritating disruption of their day. Somewhere in the midst of this growing bedlam, a woman holding a number of bulky bags from her day of shopping, dropped one of them containing a bottle of perfume she had purchased. The bottle shattered, releasing into the air the perfume's pure, luxurious fragrance. As this sweet smell made its way through the crowded car, the people sniffed, smiled and then relaxed. They began to laugh about their situation. What was once seen as horrible was now "no big deal!"

As followers of Jesus walking through the crowded moments of life, we can do the same as this woman who dropped her perfume. People all around us are frustrated and angry with the irritating circumstances and details of life. By being positive (and not in a Pollyanna sort of way!) we can release a sweet fragrance of hope that people need to smell. And one of the greatest ways to release such a fragrance is to work on being thankful. Far too many Jesus followers (and I count myself among them) tend to complain about life -- when we of all people should be thankful about life! After all, the author of life is our Lord, our Saviour and our Friend. So -- spread the fragrance of hope by cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your life today!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back in Town with Some Random Thoughts

I am glad to be back in Lancaster! My time in Indiana was VERY productive. Grace College/Seminary are alive and well ... but are facing some challenges given the current recession in which we find ourselves. But with great leadership at the helm and God on His throne - I am optimistic concerning the future of Grace Schools.

Since I am still digging out of the pile of work that accumulated while I was gone, I thought that in lieu of a regular posting - I would post just a few random thoughts that are floating around in my head.

1. Seeing that today in Veterans Day - please take a moment to thank a vet and pray for the men and women in our military. Sharon and I gave a card to our son-in-law, who served in Iraq. We enjoy our freedoms in part due to the sacrifice of our service men and women.

2. Offering hospitality is a great way to demonstrate the love of Jesus (which is why we are commanded to do so - see Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9). I was on the receiving end of some very gracious hospitality during my time away in Indiana (thanks, Pat, Leslee, Alex and Ed!).

3. Relationships are so precious! I was reminded of this upon arriving in Indiana and spending time with some people I love for the first time in a long time. I was reminded again when I returned home to a hug and kiss from my best friend (a.k.a. my wife!). All of us could enrich our lives by making the relationships in our lives a greater priority (a quick read of the New Testament will affirm the same!).

4. In spite of the turbulent times (or probably better said, "BECAUSE of the turbulent times") - the opportunity to advance the gospel is growing! People are frightened and anxious about tomorrow. What a great time for us to come along and point them to the ONE who holds tomorrow in His hand!!!

I hope to get back to some "regular" spiritual meanderings tomorrow. Until then ...

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Way to Indiana

Today I catch a mid-morning flight to Indianapolis. I am heading out to Indiana to attend the Board of Trustees meetings of Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. The two schools are located in north-central Indiana, in the small resort town of Winona Lake. The Board is made up of about two dozen men and women from across the United States (and one member lives in Germany). We meet twice a year (March and November). Now I take this responsibility very seriously. The Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (of which our church is a member) has entrusted the direction and well-being of these two schools to our Board. That is why we are called a Board of Trustees. We have been put in trust for these two schools. I also serve on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew Christian Fellowship. HCF is a board which focuses on reaching Jewish people for Christ. Again, our Board has been entrusted with the oversight of this mission.

In a similar way - every single follower of Jesus Christ has been entrusted with many things. But the most important is the GOSPEL. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 we read, "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." So how are you handling this trust? Are your striving to live the gospel? Are you seeking to share the gospel?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - I will do my best to post from Indiana ... but the schedule is quite full so I may not be able to post until I return. I would very much appreciate your prayers for me and my fellow Board members. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is D-Day!

Today millions of Americans will go to their local polling place to cast their vote (I just got back from voting). That means that more than likely by the time we all wake up tomorrow, we will know who will occupy the oval office for the next four years (We will also be able to say "good-bye - and good riddance! - to all the annoying campaign commercials that have flooded our television screens for the past year plus!). So today is Decision Day!

Now - no matter who wins the election, keep in mind that the ultimate King still rules. That's right. No matter who lives in White House, God remains firmly entrenched on His heavenly throne. And from there He is actively orchestrating the ebb and flow of human history. This is made clear in Daniel 2:21 where we read, "He (God Almighty) changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them." So the bottom line of today's election? Whoever wins - does so by permission of God Himself. God has a plan .... and he is working that plan! And as people of The Book - we have read the final chapter of God's plan which tells us that HE wins!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 3, 2008

November's Here . . .

It might be hard to believe but I just confirmed it by looking a the date on my wrist watch - today is the third of November! And as I look out the window of my home office, I can see a carpet of golden leaves on my back lawn that says, "Ditto - it's November!" Personally, I think November is a great month - for many reasons. The football season is in high gear (football is my favorite sport) and the autumn colors are often spectacular. But the biggest reason that I like November is that it contains one of my favorite holidays - Thanksgiving Day.

As we approach Thanksgiving, you will probably find me posting some thoughts on the topic of gratitude. Giving thanks to God is probably the most underrated spiritual "discipline" in the toolbox of spiritual disciplines. It is simple to do yet profound in its affects. For starters, consider the following quote about the giving of thanks:

"Being thankful is not rocket science. Though the topic of gratitude goes as deep as the grace of God, it does not require tough biblical exegesis or advanced degrees to practice it. It just requires obedience. . . When we really give God thanks in everything, we are acknowledging that He is sovereign and that we trust Him. And we find that it changes us."
(Ellen Vaughn in Radical Gratitude, pp. 43-44)

Am I thankful for YOU?

You know it!

pj

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!



Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)



Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)







Thanks for stopping by ... and have a blessed THANKSGIVING celebration!

pj

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanking God as Our World Is in Crisis!

Modern day pirates are taking ships and lives off the coast of Africa. Warfare rages around the globe (over 30 current conflicts according to globalsecurity.org). Recent natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis) have taken thousands upon thousands of lives. World economies are crumbling. It is clear that our world is being shaken to its very core.

But as followers of Jesus, should we be filled with anxiety and a sense of dread? Certainly not! For as Believers, we receive "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Hebrews 12:28). This kingdom is none other than the Kingdom of God. And though the our world might appear to be on the verge of collapse - God's Kingdom is ROCK SOLID! So do you see why we should not be anxious or full of fear? Instead, we must "show gratitude by which we may offer to God and acceptable service with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).

Tomorrow, as you celebrate Thanksgiving Day, be sure to thank God for His unshakable Kingdom (and the reality that due to HIS grace, you are a part of it!). But don't stop with tomorrow. Thank God EVERYDAY -- and in that attitude of gratitude offer to the King the service He is due!

Thanks for stopping by ... and a BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL! I THANK GOD FOR EACH ONE OF YOU!

pj

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So, Who Are You Going to Lean on?

Recently in my reading I ran across a quote that really (I mean REALLY!) got me thinking! These words were written by Elizabeth Elliot. Her husband was one of the five missionaries killed by the Auca Indians in 1956. Elizabeth writes,

"It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God's and the call is God's and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package - our bravery, our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses . . . [God uses] as the instruments of His peace a conglomeration of sinners who sometimes look like heroes and sometimes like villains, for 'we are no better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure [the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ], and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God's alone.' (2 Corinthians 4:7 NEB)"

Those our powerful words spoken by a woman whose personal world came crashing around her when her young husband was struck down in the prime of life. Especially considering he was killed trying to reach his soon-to-be murderers with the Gospel. Soldiers and cops are expected to die in the line of duty - but not missionaries! Yet through this dark valley Elizabeth Elliot learned that she could lean on God and HIS power to accomplish HIS purposes. That is a lesson I need to learn and re-learn. All too often, I want to be in control. And so I go through life depending way too much on MY power rather than HIS power. Ouch! May God help me (and YOU) lean more on HIM!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Prodigy

A prodigy is defined as being "a person, especially a child or young person, having extraordinary talent or ability: a musical prodigy" (source: dictionary.com). Take a moment and view this video and you may just find yourself listening to a prodigy!




Wow! This girl can sure tickle those keys! I could practice the piano for 8 hours a day for the rest of my life and not be able to play as well as this six year old can! But that is OK by me. I know that playing the piano is not one of my gifts. So I content myself to sitting back and listening to those who have the gift and ability to play piano (or any other musical instrument for that matter).

But what about the gifts and abilities that I do possess? All of us have been given different gifts/abilities by God. And sitting back and not utilizing them is not an option. God shapes us so that we in turn might serve him and serve others (for His sake!). Ephesians 2:10 is a great reminder of this truth. The Apostle Paul writes, "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

So let me ask you -- just what are your gifts and abilities and how are you currently using them to serve God and others? One day we will all be called upon to give an account to God of our "stewardship" of our God-given SHAPE. Will you be ready?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Concerning Tuxedos

From my recent wedding experiences in marrying off our daughters (not to mention my son's wedding in July of 2006), I learned a number of things about tuxes. First, they are expensive to rent (even with the discount I received as “father of the bride!”). In addition, they are quite warm. No matter the season (in my case it was summer and early fall) – tuxes have a way of maintaining body heat. Also I learned that they have a way of making a person look rather sharp (at least that’s what a lot of people told me – so either they were just trying to be nice, or they felt sorry for me – knowing I probably spent a lot on its rental – or they were being honest. I’ll opt for the latter!). All in all I’d have to say that my experiences with tuxedos (the first in some 28 years) – were far better than I had expected.

In our “dress-down” increasingly “casual” society, weddings are still one of those few times where people, for the most part, still “dress up.” I like that. I think it’s a good thing. When I scan the guests at weddings, I enjoy seeing people in their fine attire. There is coming a wedding banquet for followers of Jesus Christ. It will take place at some undisclosed date in the future. The Bible refers to it as the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” It is discussed in Revelation chapter 19. In verses 7 and 8 we read, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"

Did you catch what was said about what we will be wearing to this tremendous celebration? We will be wearing fine linen – and this fine linen stands for our “righteous acts!” So I rented the tux I wore for my son’s wedding, but for THE SON’S wedding, I will be wearing attire that I make by myself for myself. And I am making it right NOW – in this life. Gulp! And this is true for every follower of Christ. So the question for me – and for YOU is this: How will we be dressed at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? Rags? Scruffy tee shirt and ratty jeans? Or will we be in attire more fitting for a wedding celebration? It’s all up to YOU (and me!). Living for Jesus will weave for us attire appropriate for that occasion. So by God’s grace – let’s go live for HIM and get ready for the wedding to come!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tyranny of the Urgent

A number of years ago, Charles Hummel wrote a little book titled, The Tyranny of the Urgent. In this short but powerful booklet, he reminds us of just how easily we can get distracted from what is truly the important things of life. How so? Hummel points out that all of us every day face what he calls life's urgent demands (things like paying the household bills, raking the leaves, running the kids to soccer practice, buying the groceries or doing the laundry). These things have to be done ... and most of them have to be done RIGHT NOW! But the more important priorities in life (such as time spent with God in prayer and the Word, calling to talk with a distant friend, playing in the back yard with your kids, or talking about your dreams with your spouse) - these things can be left undone. And as the urgent demands continue to scream at us - we can tend to lose sight of the truly important.

I am feeling a bit harried by life's urgent demands. I must admit that I have not spent much time with God the last couple of days. So as soon as I post this - I am going to walk away from the urgent tasks on my desk and go spend time with God. These things will still be here tomorrow. I will tackle the pile then!

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down Time on the Weekend

Weekends are a great time to enjoy some "down time" as most people take a break from their work-week routine (although, my weekends tend to be the busiest time of my week!). Be sure this weekend to give some quality time to your family and other close relationships ... and also to God! Take a moment and think about the following quote:

"I cannot understand how there's always the present, and how quickly the present becomes the past." (Dean Meyers)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Love My Church!

In recent years, "The Church" has taken a bad rap. Books such as Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It and So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore? remind us that many people don't think too highly of "The Church."

I want to go on record of saying that I LOVE my church (which is one of a multitude of local expressions of "The Church"). And I am not alone. Jesus Christ also loves my church. One of several New Testament metaphors for "The Church" is that of "the Bride of Christ." Jesus loves "The Church" (and therefore each local expression of "The Church") because "The Church" is HIS bride! He died for her and He is at work in her "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:26-27). Did you catch that? "The Church" (and again, read here - my church as one of its local expressions) is not perfect! Jesus Himself is working on her so that one day yet future she WILL be perfect. But until that day "The Church" will not be perfect - but rather a "work in progress!"

So bottom line, my church is not perfect. I know this to be true (for starters, I am part of my church and I know far too well that I am FAR from perfect!). But I still love my church -- warts and all. I hope you love yours, too because Jesus surely does!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buddah? God? Or Something Else?

Ram Bahadur Bamjan sits quietly in the jungles of southern Nepal. But he doesn't sit alone. In spite of being only 18 years old, Bamjan has attracted thousands of followers. And just what is it about this teen with the flowing locks and white robe that has garnered the adoration of so many? The crowds come because they believe him to be the reincarnation of Buddha. But for many - he's even more! Here is what a few of his followers have said about Bamjan:

"I got a chance to see God today. They say he is Buddha, but for me he is just God."
(Bishnu Maya Khadka, a housewife)

"I have no doubt in my mind he is a God." (Meg Bahadur Lama, a local farmer)


So what are these people basing their judgment about Bamjan's identity upon? Just what is the evidence they cite for making such a claim? They believe Bamjan has been meditating without food and water since he was first spotted in the jungles of southern Nepal in 2005. Wow! That's about three years (or 1095 days). If true that would be quite the feat, especially considering that Jesus only went 40 days without eating! I wonder if he is under observation 24/7/365. My guess is he is sneaking in food and water when no one's watching!

So really - who is this guy who many believe to be a reincarnation of Buddha or even God? I don't know. But I do know who he is NOT. And he is neither Buddha reincarnate nor God. Concerning reincarnation - the Bible clearly states that "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So according to God's Word, it's once and done when it comes to the life we live on this earth. And concerning the deity of this teen, only one individual who ever walked this earth could make a legitimate claim to deity - and his name is Jesus (for an excellent article on the evidence for Christ's deity, see: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/deityofx.html; also for a briefer read see: http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2548425/k.82B9/Deity_of_Christ.htm).

I am saddened by this spiritual darkness that manifests itself in the belief that an 18 year old man is a reincarnated "holy man" or even God! But we can be encouraged that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World -- and light always conquers darkness!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Fragrance of Gratitude

Years ago an incident occurred on the Metro in Washington, DC in which a crowded subway train stalled on the tracks. Before stalling, the riders were dozing, reading or just "zoning out." But once the train stalled (and stayed stalled) - the harried commuters, all anxious to get to their homes, exploded. They noisily vented their anger and frustration. They blamed the driver, the Metro authorities, the federal government and anyone else that came to mind for this irritating disruption of their day. Somewhere in the midst of this growing bedlam, a woman holding a number of bulky bags from her day of shopping, dropped one of them containing a bottle of perfume she had purchased. The bottle shattered, releasing into the air the perfume's pure, luxurious fragrance. As this sweet smell made its way through the crowded car, the people sniffed, smiled and then relaxed. They began to laugh about their situation. What was once seen as horrible was now "no big deal!"

As followers of Jesus walking through the crowded moments of life, we can do the same as this woman who dropped her perfume. People all around us are frustrated and angry with the irritating circumstances and details of life. By being positive (and not in a Pollyanna sort of way!) we can release a sweet fragrance of hope that people need to smell. And one of the greatest ways to release such a fragrance is to work on being thankful. Far too many Jesus followers (and I count myself among them) tend to complain about life -- when we of all people should be thankful about life! After all, the author of life is our Lord, our Saviour and our Friend. So -- spread the fragrance of hope by cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your life today!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back in Town with Some Random Thoughts

I am glad to be back in Lancaster! My time in Indiana was VERY productive. Grace College/Seminary are alive and well ... but are facing some challenges given the current recession in which we find ourselves. But with great leadership at the helm and God on His throne - I am optimistic concerning the future of Grace Schools.

Since I am still digging out of the pile of work that accumulated while I was gone, I thought that in lieu of a regular posting - I would post just a few random thoughts that are floating around in my head.

1. Seeing that today in Veterans Day - please take a moment to thank a vet and pray for the men and women in our military. Sharon and I gave a card to our son-in-law, who served in Iraq. We enjoy our freedoms in part due to the sacrifice of our service men and women.

2. Offering hospitality is a great way to demonstrate the love of Jesus (which is why we are commanded to do so - see Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9). I was on the receiving end of some very gracious hospitality during my time away in Indiana (thanks, Pat, Leslee, Alex and Ed!).

3. Relationships are so precious! I was reminded of this upon arriving in Indiana and spending time with some people I love for the first time in a long time. I was reminded again when I returned home to a hug and kiss from my best friend (a.k.a. my wife!). All of us could enrich our lives by making the relationships in our lives a greater priority (a quick read of the New Testament will affirm the same!).

4. In spite of the turbulent times (or probably better said, "BECAUSE of the turbulent times") - the opportunity to advance the gospel is growing! People are frightened and anxious about tomorrow. What a great time for us to come along and point them to the ONE who holds tomorrow in His hand!!!

I hope to get back to some "regular" spiritual meanderings tomorrow. Until then ...

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Way to Indiana

Today I catch a mid-morning flight to Indianapolis. I am heading out to Indiana to attend the Board of Trustees meetings of Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. The two schools are located in north-central Indiana, in the small resort town of Winona Lake. The Board is made up of about two dozen men and women from across the United States (and one member lives in Germany). We meet twice a year (March and November). Now I take this responsibility very seriously. The Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (of which our church is a member) has entrusted the direction and well-being of these two schools to our Board. That is why we are called a Board of Trustees. We have been put in trust for these two schools. I also serve on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew Christian Fellowship. HCF is a board which focuses on reaching Jewish people for Christ. Again, our Board has been entrusted with the oversight of this mission.

In a similar way - every single follower of Jesus Christ has been entrusted with many things. But the most important is the GOSPEL. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 we read, "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." So how are you handling this trust? Are your striving to live the gospel? Are you seeking to share the gospel?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - I will do my best to post from Indiana ... but the schedule is quite full so I may not be able to post until I return. I would very much appreciate your prayers for me and my fellow Board members. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is D-Day!

Today millions of Americans will go to their local polling place to cast their vote (I just got back from voting). That means that more than likely by the time we all wake up tomorrow, we will know who will occupy the oval office for the next four years (We will also be able to say "good-bye - and good riddance! - to all the annoying campaign commercials that have flooded our television screens for the past year plus!). So today is Decision Day!

Now - no matter who wins the election, keep in mind that the ultimate King still rules. That's right. No matter who lives in White House, God remains firmly entrenched on His heavenly throne. And from there He is actively orchestrating the ebb and flow of human history. This is made clear in Daniel 2:21 where we read, "He (God Almighty) changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them." So the bottom line of today's election? Whoever wins - does so by permission of God Himself. God has a plan .... and he is working that plan! And as people of The Book - we have read the final chapter of God's plan which tells us that HE wins!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 3, 2008

November's Here . . .

It might be hard to believe but I just confirmed it by looking a the date on my wrist watch - today is the third of November! And as I look out the window of my home office, I can see a carpet of golden leaves on my back lawn that says, "Ditto - it's November!" Personally, I think November is a great month - for many reasons. The football season is in high gear (football is my favorite sport) and the autumn colors are often spectacular. But the biggest reason that I like November is that it contains one of my favorite holidays - Thanksgiving Day.

As we approach Thanksgiving, you will probably find me posting some thoughts on the topic of gratitude. Giving thanks to God is probably the most underrated spiritual "discipline" in the toolbox of spiritual disciplines. It is simple to do yet profound in its affects. For starters, consider the following quote about the giving of thanks:

"Being thankful is not rocket science. Though the topic of gratitude goes as deep as the grace of God, it does not require tough biblical exegesis or advanced degrees to practice it. It just requires obedience. . . When we really give God thanks in everything, we are acknowledging that He is sovereign and that we trust Him. And we find that it changes us."
(Ellen Vaughn in Radical Gratitude, pp. 43-44)

Am I thankful for YOU?

You know it!

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.