Posts

Showing posts from 2009

When Life Unravels Due to an Unexpected Death . . .

Image
Yesterday, my family experienced a tragic death. A family member died unexpectantly, leaving many grief stricken people behind. And as is always the case with death, those who remain must at some point begin to put their lives back together. Always a difficult and painful process.

When life begins to unravel due to death, it is easy to look for someone to blame. And all too often that someone is God. We look his way and shout, "God, why? Why did he or she have to die?" I know. I've been there. But once the fog of our emotional pain begins to dissipate, we must quickly rid ourselves of our anger toward God. He is NOT to blame for death. We are. It is because of our sin, our rebellion against the God who made us, that death exists (see Romans 5:12). God never intended for us to ever experience death. This is why, I believe, the experience of losing a loved one is so painful -- it is downright unnatural! So, as we go through this experience ... I am so very glad that we do…

T-minus 42 Hours and 11 Minutes!

Image
As I write, the year 2009 will soon be over (in just 42 hours and 11 minutes to be specific). Wow! Where did all the other 8718 hours go? They went where all the rest of the 45,000 (give or take a few) hours of my life have gone (and where one day all the remaining hours of my earthly life will also go!). They are done. Finished. Never to be lived again. As I sit here thinking about this, here are a few thoughts I offer for your consideration:

1. Since life passes so quickly (and can never be reclaimed) - don't waste it! Make the most of the time God gives you ... to live for Him. Heed these words of the Apostle Paul, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15-16a). Strive to live your life in such a way that your days matter .... to God and the work He is doing in this world!

2. Work on daily cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and joy. Each day is a gift from God. As the book of psalms remin…

Yum! Let's Eat Some Crow!

Image
The expression, "to eat crow" is an idiom referring to a person humbling themselves by admitting that a previously held opinion was a very wrong opinion.Why is this referred to as "eating crow?" Well, just as no one likes to eat crow (I have yet to see crow on any restaurant menu), no one likes to have to admit that something they had previously stated was wrong. So when a person must do so, he or she is said to be "eating crow!"  Recently I ran across the following quotes that made me think of this idiom of eating crow:

- "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the US market." (Business Week, August 2, 1968)

- "But what is it good for?" (Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip)

-  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." (Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles,…

Post Christmas Reflections

Image
Christmas 2009 is now past. And for me, it was a good Christmas. We had the family to our house for a good part of Christmas Day. I also enjoyed the two Christmas Eve services we conducted here at Grace. In fact, my only regret is that Christmas is just ONE day! On a recent tour of Mt. Vernon (George Washington's home), I learned that in George's day, the common practice was to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (you are familiar with the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," aren't you?). Hmm. 12 days of Christmas? That might be a little much! But one day sure doesn't seem to cut it! But I am glad that even though Christmas Day comes around only once a year, the truth that it marks (the incarnation of the Living God) is a truth that impacts my life EVERY day of the year! How I thank God that He "so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life!" (see John 3:16). Have YOU thank…

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Please take a moment to watch this video. I found it a refreshing way to remind me of what Christmas is truly all about! 



Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

It's Only Two Days Until Christmas!

Image
December 25th arrives in just two days! For almost all of us that means a day off of work (when normally, since the 25th falls on a Friday, we would be putting in a routine day at the office). But I am hoping that it means far more than that! Christmas Day is the day we commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (at least, that is what Christmas should be all about - the word itself literally means "Christ's Mass."). However, all too often Jesus gets lost in all the feasting and gift giving with our family and friends.

Please take a moment and read the following parable:

"A wealthy Boston family held a christening party after the baptism of their baby. Guests and friends swarmed into their palatial home. Soon the party was in full swing. People were having a wonderful time, enjoying one another, eating, drinking, and being merry. Somebody asked, "By the way, where's the baby?" Instantly the mother's heart shuddered! In questioning panic,…

Are You Mad?

Image
James Bain has spent the last 35 years in a Florida prison for a crime he did not commit. It was back during my senior year in high school (1974) that Bain was convicted of a kidnapping and rape that he did not commit. Recently, DNA evidence exonerated him and just last Thursday a judge ordered his release. Asked by reporters if he was angry about his wrongful incarceration, Bain replied, "No, I'm not angry." And the reason he gave as to why he was not angry (in spite of the fact that most of us would agree that he has every right to be angry!)?  "Because I've got God." 

Ouch! I've got God. Yet I get impatient, irritated and yes, downright angry at times. Usually it happens when I am behind the wheel of my car and some idiot (ouch - my anger is starting to surface!) ... I mean some nice sweet driver cuts me off.  Yet here is a guy who was locked up for three and half decades ... and he is not angry about it! If he is telling it like it really is - that …

Now That Is One Cancellation to Get Excited About!

Image
Due to this past weekend's snow storm (the biggest snow storm ever to hit Lancaster County in the month of December!), I experienced four major cancellations of important activities (at least they were important to me). Although I was glad for some unexpected time to slow down and catch my breath (at what is always a busy time of year), I was still disappointed about the cancellations.

One cancellation that I am NOT disappointed about is referenced by the Apostle Paul in Colossians2:13-14. There he writes the following:

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."

Wow! The Law of God which we have violated has been cancelled! And that is something to rejoice about because violating God's Law leads to the sentence of eternal cond…

Aliens on Earth!

Image
This morning my wife and I were talking about the various homes we have lived in across the course of our thirty-one and a half years of marriage. The briefest stay in any one home was about 11 months. That was our first apartment, located on the first floor of an apartment building at 1813 Arch Street in center city Philadelphia. Our longest stay has been ten years and two months. That was 109 Main Street in Refton (although in about a year, should we still be in our current residence it will become our longest stay). Now in between Arch Street and Main Street have been numerous other homes ( five, if I have my math correct). Really that is not all that many compared to some people, but a lot for others. But given the mobility of our society, it probably surprises none of you!

This reminds me of what the Bible calls us in 1 Peter 1:1 where Peter refers to his readers as "aliens,"  "strangers" or "sojourners." When it comes to this earthly life, that is e…

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful . . .

Image
The meteorologists are having a hay day -- or better said, a SNOW day! It always makes me chuckle about how much these weather forecasters get all excited about weather in general and big snow storms in particular! Well I must say they have done pretty well so far in forecasting this particular storm. As I write this posting, it is snowing fairly hard out there and we already have several inches on the ground. And the forecast I just viewed said the heaviest period of snow fall will be this afternoon into this evening! I guess that means we will be looking at well over a foot of snow before it is all over. Throw in some stiff winds that are forecast, and I am thinking that church services tomorrow will be only a dream! Of all Sundays (the Sunday before Christmas) to have to cancel! But I must remind myself that God is sovereign even over the weather. In Job 37:6 we read that God "says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth." So this snow storm is all part of God's providenc…

Security? What Do We Have to Fear?

Image
Harvey and Paula Darden of Hogansville, Georgia arrived at the White House for what they thought was a tour. Instead they were ushered into an invitation-only breakfast with the President. It seems that the Dardens showed up a day early for a tour that had been arranged by their congressman for his constituents. When they arrived, they went through all the routine screening of the Secret Service. When it became increasingly apparent to the couple that this was not their tour - they approached a White House staffer. After voicing their concerns, they were simply told to "just go with the flow." So they did and enjoyed a wonderful buffet breakfast and even had their picture taken with the Obamas (which they are still waiting to receive).

I chuckled as I read about this. What an experience for this couple! But at the same time I also grimaced. On the heels of the news of the D.C. socialites who crashed a recent state dinner, I had to ask myself, "What does this say about t…

It Will Be a Blue Christmas . . .

Image
The occurrence of depression is something that seems to spike around the holidays. And those who have gone through serious bouts of depression know that it can be quite life disrupting. According to current statistics, approximately 15-20% of Americans will go through a serious time of depression at some point in their lives. And no doubt ALL of us will go through significant bouts of discouragement throughout our life times. So what should we do? For serious cases of clinical depression, professional help is in order. If you think you might be suffering from clinical depression, a trip to your family physician would most certainly be in order. But what if you are not suffering from a clinical depression but you are experiencing "the blues." What steps can you take to rid yourself of discouragement?

Consider Psalm 13. In this psalm, King David is down in the dumps. This is clear from what he says in the first two verses. Then as he moves on, he gives the path we must walk if…

Wanted: A Car Thief!

Image
Yesterday, the Lancaster City Police Department began handing out citations to people who leave their cars unattended, unlocked and with the engine running. You know the routine. It's a cold morning. The windows are frosted over. So you run out to the car, start it up, and then run back into your warm house while your car warms up. The problem of course, is that would-be car thieves also know the routine. And this practice by many just makes it all that much easier for the crooks to drive off with a car (which in turn makes a lot more work for an already overworked police force!).So the police are hoping that the citation, along with a minimal fine, will be enough motivation to encourage people to forgo this unwise practice.

I guess for some people, the threat of a fine will be enough motivation to skip this routine. But my guess is that for others, they will take their chance on a ticket (or worse yet, on their car being stolen). Why? First off, we Americans love our personal com…

Black Ice and Common Sense!

Image
Wikipedia defines black ice (or sometimes it is referred to as "glare ice") as "ice frozen without many air bubbles trapped inside, making it highly transparent. This type of ice appears in the color of the material beneath it, often wet asphalt or a darkened pond. Because it may be difficult to detect, it presents a significant hazard to automotive traffic, pedestrians, and sailors."  Yesterday, black ice proved to be a major headache for many here in the Lancaster County area as rain began falling while some road surfaces were still at a temperature below the freezing mark. As a result, dozens of ice related accidents occurred, including one that resulted in a fatality.

Now if you have ever hit a patch of "black ice," you will know the terrible feeling of utter horror and helplessness as you feel your car begin to slide out of control. If you encounter it once, I will guarantee that you will slow down the next cold wet day we have - unless of course, yo…

A Thought for Your Weekend . . .

Image
A week ago yesterday, a homeowner in Ephrata, PA was awakened by her child, informing her that some stranger was asleep on their living room couch. After confirming her child's report, the startled  homeowner immediately called police who upon arrival arrested the 16 year old boy, charging him with trespassing and underage drinking. It seems that he was so intoxicated, that he wandered into the house and fell asleep on the sofa!

As I thought on this, the first question that came to my mind is, "How did he get in?" The fact that he was not charged with breaking and entering tells me that the door to the house was probably unlocked. If this was the case, it reminds me of how so often we leave the door to our heart unlocked. We allow sin to enter in and take up residence when we should be doing all we can to keep it out. Such sins as selfish ambition, pride, envy, jealousy, greed, bitterness, anger, etc. This leads me to the question: What have you allowed to take up reside…

Climategate and Integrity

Image
Recently a scandal involving the scientific community has hit the proverbial fan. Computer hackers broke into the computer system of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. The emails they uncovered seem to suggest a plot among the researchers there to hide the truth about recent changes in global temperatures. Now my purpose in bringing this to your attention is NOT to discuss global warming (or non global warming, depending upon your position). Rather I want to point out what the director of the research unit, Phil Jones had to say in defense of a rather condemning email. In the email he wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart detailing recent global temperatures. When called on the carpet, he claimed that he did not use the word "trick" to refer to an act of deception but merely as a "clever thing to do." Hmm. Really? I always thought the word trick carried the idea of deception. But I…

Frozen Tongue and Right Talk!

Image
I read a brief newspaper article yesterday morning that immediately transported me back to my days as a student at Melrose Elementary School in Harrisburg, PA. The story related the incident where a ten year old boy in Boise, Idaho got his tongue stuck on a frozen metal pole - most likely the result of a dare. (Sound familiar? If you have ever seen the classic movie, A Christmas Story - you will have to shake your head "yes!" - see adjacent photo). Back in my elementary school days, on a frigid winter morning, a student was dared to lick the metal hand rail on the stairs leading up to the school's main entrance (just so you know, I was neither the boy who licked the metal hand rail, nor the boy who issued the dare - in fact, I was no where near this unfortunate incident - really!). The boy was not one to turn his back on a dare and he licked and immediately his tongue froze to the hand rail! The police and EMT's came and the boy was finally freed from the hand rails …

While on Vacation . . .

Image
I am currently enjoying some time off. I will be back in the office on Thursday. Until then, just a brief thought that hit me yesterday (Monday). My wife, Sharon and I were eating breakfast at a Hampton Inn in Williamsburg, VA. The table at which we were seated overlooked the hotel's indoor pool. I commented to Sharon about the stillness of the pool's surface. In her reply she used the word "undisturbed." Undisturbed. That will one day be our experience ALL THE TIME! Our soul will be at perfect rest, undisturbed by anything external or internal! But for now ... there are those times of rest when God gives us an undisturbed soul - if even only for a moment. Take some time to "stop striving" (Psalm 46:10) and rest in God's presence today. Ask him for a time of peace ... a time when your heart and soul is undisturbed in His presence.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Laugh a Little!

Image
According to research, laughter is very good for you! Life is too short and too hard to never laugh. Take a moment and consider the following benefits of laughter:


Physical Health Benefits:
Boosts immunity Lowers stress hormones Decreases pain Relaxes your muscles Prevents heart diseaseMental Health Benefits:
Adds joy and zest to life Eases anxiety and fear Relieves stress Improves mood Enhances resilienceSocial Benefits:
Strengthens relationships Attracts others to us Enhances teamwork Helps defuse conflict Promotes group bonding 
Given these benefits ... I decided to post the following Muppet Youtube video in hopes you will laugh a little - I certainly did when I first viewed this clip. Enjoy!





Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tiger's Confession

Image
As I write this, Tiger Woods, undoubtedly the world's highest paid athlete and probably the most famous as well, has just gone public with a statement in which he says that he has let his family down and regrets “transgressions” he has committed. Since his early morning accident over this past weekend, allegations have surfaced that he has had affairs with several women. Now at this point, only Tiger knows the answer to the questions "Who?" and "How many?" and perhaps in time those answers will be revealed by the relentless investigation of the media. All this to say, Tiger's squeaky clean image is now tarnished. And whether his marriage will survive is hard to say at this point.

A verse from Proverbs came to my mind as I thought about Tiger Wood's current situation. In Proverbs 22:1 we read that "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."  Tiger has a lot of "silver and gold," bu…

4 Cops Slain! Why?

Image
Why? That was a question I asked myself when I heard about the assassination of four Seattle area police officers this past Sunday morning. The four were just beginning their shifts, working on their laptops at a local coffee shop. In walked Maurice Clemmons. He pulled out a gun and shot each of the four. In the struggle with one of the officers, Clemmons was apparently shot in his abdomen. He ran for two days before he was finally shot by police in a standoff in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

This story saddens me for many reasons. For starters, I feel for the families of the slain officers. I believe all were married with children still at home. As a result of one mad man's senseless act, wives are left without husbands and children are now fatherless. That not only saddens me - it angers me! Something else that angers me is the revelation that the shooter had been given clemency in 2000 by the then governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. He had been sent to prison for a teen…

Hell? No!

Image
In a survey released just a little over a year ago by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, just 59% of 35,000 respondents said they believe in a hell "where people who have led bad lives, and die without being sorry, are eternally punished." And this is down from 71% who said they believed in hell as reported in a 2001 Gallup poll. As I reflected on this finding concerning hell, the following thoughts came to mind:

1. I was not surprised that belief in hell is waning. For starters, who among us like to think about a place where people suffer terribly for all eternity - yet alone believe that such a place actually exists?

2. The Enemy would like nothing better to ease people's fear of any eternal judgment to come. Why should anyone run to Jesus for salvation if, at the end of the day, everyone eventually goes to heaven any way? (by the way 74% of the same respondents believe in heaven)

3. The growing disbelief in hell corresponds with the growing belief in God as …

Some Post Thanksgiving Reflections

Image
Hard to believe Thanksgiving Day 2009 is now in life's rear view mirror! But that is the way life is ... it flies by rapidly! As we stand on the door step of December, here are some thoughts to start your week.

1. I love the Thanksgiving holiday! Why? For starters, the day includes my favorite meal - a turkey dinner with ALL the trimmings! Yep! I'd rather eat a turkey dinner over a steak dinner any day of the week! In addition, I love just getting together with our kids and their families and just talking around the table. It's been quite the ride watching our kids grow up! Finally, what a joy it is to spend some time reflecting together on the blessings of God in our lives and then giving Him our thanks! It doesn't get much better than that!

2. Christmas Day is now only 25 days away! Among other things, that means 25 more days of pressure from Madison Avenue to get out and spend money we don't have to buy things we (or others) don't need - all in name of the C…

Thanking on Purpose!

Image
Every parent has had the embarrassement of their child receiving a gift and failing to thank the giver of the gift. Children must be taught to say "thank you." It does not come naturally. The default setting of fallen human nature is ingratitude. Therefore we must get intentional about giving thanks!

So ... with Thanksgiving Day just one day away, it seems like an appropriate time for me to ask, "Are YOU intentional with giving thanks?"  The Scripture is clear that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). Wow! Every blessing in life, from the taste buds you will use to taste all the deliciousness of tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast to the antacids you will have to pop afterward to deal with the indigestion (hint: as in so many things, moderation is the key!) - all of life's blessings come from the hand of our generous, gracious and never ch…

Talk about Some HEAVY Reading!

Image
The debate about the current national health care legislation has been all over the news. I must admit I have read and listened to some of the news ... but not all of the news. I am probably better informed about this issue than some, but probably not as informed as others nor as informed as I probably should be. But then I wonder how anyone with a life could be "well-informed" when it comes to the health care legislation that the Senate is about ready to debate. The bill is approximately 2000 pages in length. Now how long would it take the average person to read such a monstrosity (especially given how busy people are these days)??? And I wonder how many of our senators have actually sat down and read and fully reflected on and then digested all the information contained in this bill. The government surely knows how to make things complicated! (I guess we should be thankful that this national health care legislation is ONLY 2000 pages in length. The federal tax code is some…

Some Random Thoughts to Begin Thanksgiving Week

Image
1. I wonder how many of us (myself included) are more thankful for the blessings of God than we are for God Himself. Now don't get me wrong, we should be thankful to God for His many blessings - but are we more in love with the gifts or the Giver???

2. I never get over just how quickly life is passing. It seems like just yesterday that I walked down the aisle to say "I do" when in fact that was over 3 decades ago! And now all three of my children have done the same! Wow! All this to say - life is precious - each day, each hour, each minute. Let's purpose not to waste our time but make it count for Christ and His Kingdom!

3. Little children are cute and impressionable. We smile at the former and often times forget about the latter. But all of us who claim allegiance to Christ must keep in mind that there are many sets of young impressionable eyes and ears upon us. We must be sure that our walk is worthy of imitating (see 1 Corinthians 11:1). The old "like father,…

A Real Zinger for So Many of Us!

Image
I just came across a quote by J.I. Packer that nailed me between the eyes and then pierced my soul deeply. Please take a moment to read ... and then reflect on what he has to say.

"If we ourselves have known anything of the love of Christ for us, and if our hearts have felt any measure of gratitude for the grace that has saved us from death and hell, then this attitude of compassion and care for our spiritually needy fellow-men ought to come naturally and spontaneously to us . . .It is a tragic and ugly thing when Christians lack this desire, and are actually reluctant to share the precious knowledge that they have with others whose need of it is just as great as their own."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A Cow Takes a Dip!

Image
This past Monday evening, Kathy Wydareny of Spartansburg, SC was minding her own business, going through her normal Monday evening routine. That routine was broken by what she called a "giant woosh." So she grabbed a flashlight and proceeded to go out to her back yard to investigate. To her disbelieving eyes she discovered a cow had fallen into her covered swimming pool!She immediately called 911 (It took 5 men from county rescue to pull the cow out of the pool - they used a sling). It seems the cow wandered over from a neighbor's farm and mistook the pool cover for solid ground, which the cow discovered was a HUGE mistake when the "solid" ground moooooooooved!

Hmmm. The mistake this cow made -- is the same mistake that I see a lot of Christ-followers making today. They think they are on solid ground, when they are not. Now just what do I mean by this? Far too many Christians are embracing beliefs that are not based on a solid biblical foundation. One reason fo…

Thanksgiving Day Just around the Corner!

Image
With the Thanksgiving holiday just a week from tomorrow, I thought I would post something that would get you thinking about thanksgiving (and not just for Thanksgiving Day). So here is a quote about giving thanks from the book, Radical Gratitude: Discovering Joy through Everyday Thankfulness, by Ellen Vaughn.

"Developing the meditative habit of constantly whispering thanks to Him - no matter the situation - is in fact a mustard seed of life-changing power. Radical, for it goes to the root of who we are. Small, seemingly insignificant, yet it has the power to change our lives and blow our socks off, right in the midst of the everyday. 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." 

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

UNFRIEND?

Image
Each year, Oxford University Press tracks how the English language is changing. When the results are in, the publisher selects one word which seems to best capture the mood of the year. This year's New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is the word "unfriend." It means to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook. 

Now you may or may not be a part of Facebook's social network. For better or for worse I am. I first got started just after my youngest daughter's wedding. Her new brother-in-law posted a number of wedding photos on his Facebook site. Wanting to see them, I of course, had to become a registered Facebook user and then send him a friend request. Fortunately for me, he was willing to confirm me as a Facebook friend!

Now being a Facebook friend requires very little. In fact all it takes is a couple of mouse clicks and you are in. In fact, I have some Facebook friends that I barely know ... and regularly receive frie…

What We MUST Know

Image
We live in an information world. The latest news is only a click away. Knowledge that was once attainable only through books in a library can now be accessed from the privacy and comfort of one's own home by surfing the Internet. According to research, the total store of human knowledge is now doubling every 8 years! Wow! That is an astonishing fact! Consider also the following: 80 % of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today. EVERY MINUTE these scientists add 2000 pages to man's scientific knowledge, and the scientific material they produce EVERY 24 HOURS would take one person FIVE YEARS to read! About half a million new books are published EACH YEAR!

So we are being overwhelmed with knowledge with no chance to even come close with knowing it all! Even highly specialized doctors do not even come close to knowing all there is to know even within their narrow specialty! SOOO .... how should we respond as we seek to stay afloat in this ocean of knowledge? Consider the…

Insomnia!

Image
Early yesterday morning (I think the clock read 3:11) I had to make bathroom run. After crawling back under the covers, my mind clicked into gear .... forty-five minutes later I climbed out of bed, frustrated that I could not get back to sleep. I threw on my robe, pulled on my slippers and walked out to pick up our morning paper (which arrived yesterday shortly before 4:00 - I knew that because I saw the headlights of the delivery person's car shining through our bedroom window's blinds). Once back in the house, I settled into my favorite recliner and read the sports page. About fifteen minutes later, my eyes began to grow heavy -- so I threw on a blanket and turned off the light. And the sleep that I could not find while laying in bed ... crept up on me and I slept until just before 6:00. Yes, I wish I had gotten a bit more sleep, but I was thankful that I got the sleep that I did.

Now that is not the first time I have battled insomnia ... and I am sure it won't be the la…

Thank You, Vets!!!

Image
Today's date is November 11th. That means today is Veterans Day. Now for most of us, today is pretty much like every other Wednesday. We got up, got ready, and headed to work. Some of the "luckier" ones among us woke up to the delightful thought of a day off (if this is true of you - enjoy!). So as I sit here at my desk working away ... I do want to express my thanks to the veterans who might happen to read this posting today. Serving in the military is not my idea of a comfortable experience. This is especially true when our country is at war (as is the case now). In a world that is distorted by sin and in which evil often gets the "upper hand" - armed conflict is often unavoidable if freedom is to be preserved. So if you have served in our military - whether a year ago or a half a century ago (or are serving right now) - THANKS FOR SERVING US!  Because of your sacrifice we are secure.

And if you are not a veteran - please be sure to thank one today.

Thanks fo…

One Weekend, Two Church Visits

Image
This past weekend while in Indiana, I had the opportunity to visit two churches. The larger of the two I visited on Saturday evening (this was the first time I had ever visited this particular church). The other I attended on Sunday morning. This second church is one that I have visited several times before. As I reflect on my experience, a few thoughts come to mind:

1. The church is alive and well on planet earth (or at least in certain places!). In both churches I observed people who were engaging in ministry and worship and were passionate about their faith walk. Praise God!

2. Not every church does "church" the way we do. And that is OK. The "different strokes for different folks" adage comes to mind here. Having said that, I must say that the bread and cup celebration that I experienced in the Saturday evening service left me wanting more! The whole segment took no more than five minutes (which included the distribution of the elements). Jesus told us (in rega…

Home from Indiana . . .

Image
I pulled into my driveway about 10:30 last night (Sunday night). I will hopefully post to my blog tomorrow. Until then, remember that God wants us to live a BRAVE life - not a safe life! (probably the topic for a future posting!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - Pictured is my granddaughter Ella as she cheered on the Phillies in the World Series (too bad the Yankees got the last laugh!).

Holiness or Happiness?

Image
From what I see and hear among American Christians today, I would judge that most see the pursuit of personal happiness as the major pursuit of their lives. One major reason why this is so is due to the teaching so many Christians are receiving today. Please take a moment and read the following excerpt from J.I. Packer's book, Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God:

"What do we Christians mainly preach and teach and produce TV programs and DVDs about these days? The answer seems to be not holiness, but success and positive feelings - getting health, wealth, freedom from care, good sex and happy families. I remember seeing in a Christian journal a group eight new 'how-to' books reviewed on a single page. How long, I wonder, is it since you heard about eight new books on holiness? Shall I guess?" 

He then goes on to write, "If we play down or ignore the importance of holiness, we are utterly and absolutely wrong. Holiness is in fact command…

In Indiana!

Image
For the next couple of days I will be in Winona Lake, Indiana for the fall Board meetings of Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. Please pray for wisdom for us as these are very trying days for institutions of higher education. God has entrusted many young men and women to the nurturing of our schools, and we want to prove faithful to this responsibility! How about YOU? What responsibilities has God entrusted to you ... and are YOU being faithful? (1 Corinthians 4:2 reads, "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.")

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Back to Africa?

Image
No, I am not planning to head back to Africa any time soon. But as I sat at my desk yesterday morning, my thoughts began to wander back there. So I pulled out my "email journal" (I kept all of the emails I sent to my wife) of the trip and began to read and reflect. Here is a portion of one email that I wrote after teaching on the 11th of 12 consecutive days of teaching/preaching:

"I covered the 1 Peter 5 passage on shepherding today with the pastors and got through the first third of my 'Epaphroditus, a Model Servant' material. Tomorrow I will finish that, look at Paul's 'swan song' ("I have fought the good fight," etc.) and answer more questions. There were quite a few really good questions today. That shows me the pastors are processing the Word . . . I am VERY tired. I am glad I have only one more day of teaching! So even though I am tired, it is a good tired as I have spent my energy in what I truly love to do - and that is to teach the…

So You Came to Jesus ... WHY?

The way I hear people talk about why they came to Jesus and the way I hear many preachers and evangelists presenting the gospel, I wonder if those who are making decisions for Christ ... are really making decisions for Christ for just making decisions for a better life? In the gospel of John, after feeding a crowd of 5000+ hungry people, Jesus said to these people on the following day, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill" (John 6:26). The people came to Jesus not because they embraced the truth the sign pointed to ... but they came because they had their bellies filled. Please take a moment and listen to this brief excerpt from a recent sermon from pastor and author, John Piper:

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Some Random Thoughts to Start the Week

Image
1. Hard to believe that it is November 2nd already!  Time sure does fly! Means that it's vital that we learn to make our moments count. Too many of us waste this precious resource on such trivial pursuits (I am pointing my finger at me right now on this one!). Given that our lives are "a mist that appears for a little while and than vanishes" (James 4:14), let's strive to be more intentional about NOT wasting our time but rather investing our time in those activities that will deepen our love for God, nurture our love for others and address our world's need for Jesus Christ.

2. In just a little while I will be leaving the office to conduct a graveside service for a woman who passed away last week. She was a woman of strong faith in Christ and so this service will be a joy to officiate. Scripture is clear that for a Believe in Christ to be "away from the body" is to be "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). I praise God that followers of …

Got Faith?

Image
Just what is faith? Michael Horton, in his newly relased book, The Gospel-Driven Life, wrote the following about faith:

"Faith in God is generally treated by the powerful of the earth as a crutch for the weak and foolish. As King Nebuchadnezzar admired his accomplishments from his lofty penthouse (see Daniel chapter 4), he was doubtless of this opinion. However, he literally lost his mind. It is not foolishness, but sanity that recognizes the way things really are. God is Creator and Lord; we are all nothing more than ants pretending to conquer the earth when we merely crawl on top of our own anthill." 

How about you? Got faith? Do you really see the way things REALLY ARE? That in God "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28)? HE is Lord - not you, not me, not anyone or anything else!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

The Unwelcome Certainty of Life

Image
This morning, two headlines on the back page of our local newspaper got my attention. The first read, "Grave crisis: No room for London's dead." The story went on to discuss a serious shortage of burial space in England's largest city. And when you consider that London has been around some 2000 years, it's not surprising to read that cemeteries are running out of room. The second headline read, "Wal-Mart starts selling caskets online."  So for as little as $999 you can order a "Dad Remembered" or "Mom Remembered" casket for your departed loved one (and yes, you don't have to purchase a needed casket from a funeral  home - a federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets).

Both of these articles are a stark (I am going to avoid using the word "grave" here - :)) reminder that death awaits us all. No matter how hard we try to avoid thinking about it (and in many cases try to delay it with our attempts to…

Talk about a Wrong Assessment!

Image
Shortly after the President gave a short speech, the Chicago Times reported on the speech with this assessment: "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."  The London Times reported on the same speech by saying, “The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President. Anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce.” Finally, the Harrisburg Patriot and Union weighed it with its evaluation of the President's remarks by saying, "we pass over the silly remarks of the President: for the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.”

The President who gave this speech was none other than Abraham Lincoln. And the speech was The Gettysburg Address. Many people don'…

Back from Vacation with Some Random Thoughts

Image
As I begin to settle back into the routine of work, here are some thoughts floating around my head:

1. Time sure seems to operate differently when one is on vacation. Whereas time usually moves quickly while at work ... while on vacation it passes with blazing speed! As I crawled out of bed this morning it was hard for me to believe that I had just had a week's vacation - but yep, I counted my days off and it was a week!  Hmm. Why does vacation time speed by so fast?  I guess the old adage is right - "Time flies when you are having fun!"  And one thing that characterized my week off was a boatload of fun (which for my wife and I included lengthy visits to Appomattox Court House (where Lee surrendered his army to Grant) and Gettysburg (the new visitor center there is quite impressive!) - what can I say? We love history!) There are many lessons to be learned from history. From time to time its benefical to take a look back (whether it be our nation's history or our own…

Gone Fishing! Well not Really - Just Gone!

Image
I plan to take the next several days off. I will be back posting sometime around the middle of next week (the 28th). Until then ...

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Take Care of Your Good Name!

Image
The headline caught my eye, "ID THEFT: Your good name is at risk." So I delved into the article. I was astonished to read that the local Lancaster paper had gone onto the Internet and by researching public documents, found the social security numbers of several prominent Lancaster countians. Upon reading that, I decided to do some research of my own. After about 15 minutes of searching public documents on the County's Recorder of Deeds site - I was stunned to see MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER on a public document that any Tom, Dick or Harry (or Mary, Jane or Sally) could view!  So I quickly filled out and submitted a redaction request and today I can rest a lot easier knowing that my SS # is not out there for just anyone to find (and use!!).

Our reputations (which would include our credit rating) can be severely damaged if the wrong person gets hold of our private information and uses it for financial gain (theirs not ours!). So we need to guard this info carefully. And reme…

The Good Old Days?

Image
The automobile, which is now a part of the very fabric of American society (there are approximately 250 million vehicles of various sorts in operation in the United States today) is only a little over 100 years old. When the auto first hit the streets, it was nicknamed "the horseless carriage," for prior to the auto the horse was the basic staple of transportation. So much so that in large urban areas, the number of horses caused a huge problem. Consider New York City for example. In 1900, New York City was the home of 200,000 horses, or one for every 17 residents. That's a lot of horses. And just as all the motor vehicles on today's highways have their down side, so did horses. The biggest of which was .... can you guess???   .... manure! That's right! Two hundred thousand horses can produce an awful lot of manure, especially when you consider that the average horse produces about 25 pounds of manure each day! Multiply that by 200,000 and you have about 5 millio…