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Showing posts from December, 2008

Blessings for the New Year!

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As I wrap up my blogging for yet another year, I want to leave you with a few well said words. Take a moment and think on these things. And if changes in your life are called for - then take action!

I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light. (Mary Gardner Brainard)

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. (C.S. Lewis)

Live as though Christ died yesterday, rose from the grave today, and is coming back tomorrow. (Theodore Epp)

Wishing will never be a substitute for prayer. (Ed Cole)

I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker. (Voltaire)

Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack o…

Open Your Eyes!

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Peggy Noonan was a young speech writer for President Ronald Regan. Today she is a contributing editor of the Wall Street Journal. Her syndicated column appears in the Lancaster New Era. In last evening's column she was reflecting on several books she had read during the course of 2008. One of these was titled, Mother Teresa's Secret Fire. The book was written by a close friend of Mother Teresa, Joseph Langford. He writes of many lessons he learned from Teresa, who left her convent to work with the poorest of the poor among the slums and ghettos of Calcultta, India. Among these lessons that Noonan cites is one that struck me. So as we stand on the doorstep of a new year - I share it with you.

"You must find your own Calcutta. You don't have to go to India. Calcutta is all around you."

All we have to do is OPEN OUR EYES! As we do so, God will show us the desperate need of the people who surround us. And as He does so, we must be willing to show them the love of Jesu…

Do You Talk Too Much?

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As we say "goodbye" to 2008 and "hello" to 2009, I think it is helpful for all of us to take some time to "take stock" of our lives. Yesterday my message to our church family detailed a list of 7 questions for a spiritual self checkup (you can see the complete list on our web site - www.gracewv.org). One of these questions was "Do I talk more than I listen?" Most of us like to listen -- as long as it is US we are listening to! Now God's advice on this is clear. Consider the following verses:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak... (James 1:19)

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those…

God's Gift to You

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Gifts are a big part of the Christmas season. We spend time thinking about them, shopping for them, wrapping them and exchanging them. For most people a Christmas without gifts under the tree would be no Christmas at all.

There is no clear consensus as to when gift giving became so firmly entrenched with Christmas. Many point to the Victorian era which brought renewed warmth to the holiday with its emphasis on family. At that time Yule tide gift giving sprang up to show kindness and love to family members and beyond. But whatever the case, gifts are a big part of Christmas.

As you exchange your gifts this Christmas - take a moment and look beyond these gifts to the greater gift of God. After all, Christmas is all about God so loving us "that He sent His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish BUT have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Tomorrow morning (Christmas Day) is the time my family will be exchanging our gifts for one another. If my wife were to leave o…

A Christmas Carol .... or a CHRISTmas Carol?

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Last Friday evening, my wife and I and our daughter and son-in-law, took in a local theater company's production of Charles Dickens classic yule tale, A Christmas Carol. Although I had seen many a television/movie version, I had never seen it done "live." It was a highly enjoyable experience (for those of you who live in Lancaster, I would highly recommend it. Info on the production - which runs through December 28th - can be found at http://www.seventhsister.com. The theater is offering a "pay as you wish" admission plan!).

Now that I have seen A Christmas Carol "live" - I thought it would be interesting to read it as Dickens actually wrote it. So I went to Amazon.com to purchase the book. In the process of doing so, I read some reviews on the book that readers had posted. The following caught my eye:

"This is the most heartwarming story EVER written about Yuletide, the story is truly magical. It captures the very essence of what Christmas is al…

So Where Did Santa Clause Come From?

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The model for our modern day Santa Clause, can most likely be traced to an actual historical figure of the fourth century. Saint Nicholas was the bishop of Lycia in what is modern day Turkey. There is not much known about this man beyond that. However, in the Middle Ages, when the Roman Church began to venerate saints of old, many legends about St. Nicholas began to flourish. One recounted how he had given to each of three poor girls a bag of gold that they could use as a dowry. Therefore, they would not be forced to earn their dowry through prostitution. Another story told how he had restored to life three boys who had been cruelly killed. Because of stories like this, St. Nicholas became known as the giver of gifts and the patron saint of children. His day is December 6.

St. Nicholas was particularly popular in Holland. It seems that it was there that he first became associated with customs that eventually linked him to Christmas. The Dutch children expected this patron of children t…

Thinking About Christmas . . .

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"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"

G. K. Chesterton quotes (English Novelist and Poet, 1874-1936)



"The very purpose of Christ's coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas."

(Evangelist Billy Graham)





Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Christmas as a Holiday?

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Christmas as we know it today has not always been commemorated as a holiday. In fact, Christmas was not given any official recognition by the Church until the mid-fifth century. And in the centuries since, Christians have not always been open to celebrating Christmas. This was due in part to the connections Christmas had with the ancient Roman feast of Saturnalia (which marked the winter solstice when the sun ended its decline in the sky and began moving higher leading to the lengthening of each day). The Puritans in early America totally rejected any kind of Christmas celebration. In fact, they deliberately worked on December 25 to show their disdain for the practice. A law passed in England in 1644 reflected this Puritan influence. The law made Christmas Day an official work day. And for a brief time in England, it was illegal to cook plum pudding or mince pie for the holidays!

My how times have changed. Today most Christians tend to heartily celebrate the Christmas holiday. Now the…

Lost ... now Found!

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Joe Richardson graduated from Houston's Universal Technical Institute in 1987. Before graduation, his mom purchased a $200 class ring for him. She had the blue-stoned ring engraved with his name. However, about two weeks after his graduation, Richardson lost the ring. After an exhaustive search he gave up looking for it, figuring he would never see it again. But he was wrong.

Earlier this fall, a fisherman was cleaning an 8-pound bass he caught while fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn near Buna, Texas. He was surprised to find a blue-stoned class ring in the Bass's stomach. And yep, you probably guessed it. It was Joe Richardson's!

The fisherman (who wants to remain anonymous) tracked Joe Richardson down with help from the Internet. Richardson's initial reaction was, "You've got to be kidding!" On November 28, the fisherman presented the long lost ring to Joe, who lives in Buna. What had been lost for over 20 years had now been found!

What are the chances of som…

Parachute Failure - Unbelievable Outcome!

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Three years ago Shayna West took her first solo skydive and almost died. In fact, she should have. As observers watched in horror, Shayna's main chute failed to open, which sent her spiraling out of control. When she pulled the cord for her emergency chute, it too failed to open (I read that the odds of this happening are about a million in one - for me even those odds are TOO HIGH!). Remarkably, incredibly - Shayna somehow survived. However, she suffered massive injuries to her face, leg and pelvis ... just to name a few ... and has undergone numerous surgeries since her accident. Oh and I forgot to mention that when she took that jump she was in the early stages of pregnancy. So early, she did not even know that she was pregnant! Apparently because the baby was so small, he survived. Today Shayna's son Tanner is a very active two year old.

I read that story and I came to a couple of conclusions. First, you will NEVER (and I do mean NEVER) see me jump out of a plane (unless i…

Lights Out!

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This past Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of giving both the invocation and benediction at Millersville University's commencement ceremony (which saw close to 500 graduates receive their degree). Just before I took my cell phone off my belt to place it in my coat pocket - my wife, Sharon called. She informed me that our power went out and was wondering if I had seen anything on my trip to Millersville to explain why it did so. I informed her I had seen nothing unusual. I asked her to call the utility company just to make sure they were aware of the problem. After saying goodbye, I went on with my responsibilities and never gave the power outage another thought - that is until I arrived home around 4 PM to discover there was still no power! Sharon had contacted the utility company who had told her that they were looking at a 2 AM restoration of power. Apparently a fire had hit a small substation, knocking out power to our development and the adjoining development. Of course…

A Quote to Think About . . .

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There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." (C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters)

Which kind of person are YOU?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

An X(ray) Marks the Spot!

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A Naples Florida teenage, William Colburn faces charges for an alleged recent attempt at shoplifting. But he is also facing charges for tampering with evidence. It appears that a store security guard saw Colburn take a pair of earrings and drop them into a bottle of water. He then proceeded to walk out of the store. When security confronted him outside, he quickly took a long swig of his water, swallowing a mouthful of water and the stolen merchandise. After his arrest, he was taken for xrays, and sure enough, the xrays showed the stolen earrings (the police have not revealed if they were able to recover the confiscated jewelry)!

The moral of this incident is that you might be able to try to cover up your sins - but you can be sure that even if you are successful at hiding your sins from those around you, there is a God in heaven who can see deeply and clearly into the core of your being. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that "nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everythin…

Let's Honk Like Geese Today!

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It is not uncommon for me to hear geese honking overhead several times a day. Huge flocks of Canadian geese loiter around the area, taking advantage of the numerous ponds and the many corn fields in the area. And as soon as these geese take wing, the honking begins. Wondering why they insist on honking so much, I did some research on the Internet. The articles I read all agreed that the geese honk in order to encourage one another in flight. Now I am not opposed to geese offering one another encouragement, but it does get a little annoying when they are honking away as they fly over my house at the crack of dawn!

But we can all take a lesson from our feathered neighbors. All of us have people in our lives (more than we know) who need some encouragement. They have slipped and fallen. They have been hit with some unanticipated trial. They are bleeding. They hurt. They are in need of a solid dose of encouragement to help them get through their daily routine. Yet all too often when faced …

Fatal Proposal

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The place is called "Proposal Rock." The rock sits along the Oregon coast and is so named because it is a favorite destination for those wishing to "pop the question." Last week, what was planned to be a romantic rendezvous between two lovers turned out to be a deadly tragedy. As the couple made their way across the beach to the rock, a 3 foot wave suddenly crashed around them, sweeping 4' 11" Leafil Alforque out to sea. By the time her would-be fiance, Scott Napper could react, "She was about 30 feet away, getting swept away," he said. Quickly he tore off his jacket in order to dive in after her. But when he looked up, she was gone. "That's the last I saw of her," he said Wednesday, breaking into tears. Authorities conducted a search, but came up empty.

What a tragic story! But it reminds me of another fatal proposal. It is the proposal offered to all of us. It is the proposal that life lived independent of God can lead to ultimat…

Back to Work!

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This morning I crawled out of bed, knowing that my week of vacation was now in life's rear view mirror (isn't it curious that "vacation time" appears to fly by so much more quickly than "non-vacation time?"). My wife and I had plans to travel south (Virgina and North Carolina) for the week but had to postpone our itinerary due to my mother-in-law's unanticipated surgery (she is doing well by the way). Instead, we spent much of the first four days of the week at the hospital. But then we did manage to sneak away for a couple of days of much needed R&R at the end of the week thanks to the timely arrival of my wife's brother (who lives in Virginia).

The events of last week proved a valuable reminder to me ... and so I pass it on to you. No matter how well laid our plans might be (and I had everything set!), they are subject to change. Much in life is simply outside of our control. And so when things happen that force us to change our plans, we can …

I'll Be Back Next Week

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I will be out of the office this week (week of December 1st). My wife and I had planned an out-of-town trip, but were forced to cancel the trip due to my mother-in-law's need for surgery. I would appreciate your prayers for her.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj