PJ

PJ

Thursday, December 31, 2009

When Life Unravels Due to an Unexpected Death . . .


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 not have to walk through it alone. As King David wrote, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me!" (Psalm 23:4)

Thanks for stopping by . . . and thanks for your prayers for our family . . .

pj

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

T-minus 42 Hours and 11 Minutes!


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 reminds us, "This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24).Put off griping and complaining and put on a spirit of gratitude!

3. Spend more time in prayer. I know I need to do this ... but with life being so short and passing so quickly, we MUST ask God to anoint our days with His grace and His enablement, without which we are destined to fail. Let's practice the instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray continually."

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yum! Let's Eat Some Crow!


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, 1962)

- "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." (drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859)

All of us realize that these individuals quoted here not only got it wrong ... they got it VERY wrong! But we can rest assured that our God NEVER gets it wrong. What he proclaims to be true in His Word is true! And what He says in His Word will one day happen, WILL HAPPEN! Are you prepared for the future that God lays out in the Bible? Why not pick up the book of Revelation and read chapters 19-22? What is described in those pages will one day occur - you can count on it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Reflections


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 thanked God TODAY for the indescribable gift of His Son, Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .l

pj

Thursday, December 24, 2009

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Only Two Days Until Christmas!


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, she left the room and rushed into the master bedroom where she had left her baby asleep in the middle of their large bed. There on the bed she found a huge pile of the guests' coats. The mother rushed to them and began to fling them aside as she clawed down to the bottom of the pile. To her horror she found her baby. . . dead. . . smothered by the coats of her guests." 

This parable was written to caution us against allowing all the activities and hub-bub of Christmas to cause us to lose sight of the very reason for the season - and that is the Christ child. Please be sure to be very intentional about worshiping Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).  Where would we be if Jesus had not been willing to leave the glory of heaven for the depravity of earth?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are You Mad?


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 is quite commendable!

How about you? Got anger?  Something making you mad? God says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26). You have heard it said (and said rightly) that righeous anger is not sin. But let's be honest. For most of us, the anger we experience is far from righteous! So let's do what the Scripture tells us to do ... and deal with whatever it is that is making us angry, confess to God and get it right!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now That Is One Cancellation to Get Excited About!


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 condemnation (and we are ALL law breakers!). Now God did not cancel His Law and its judgment against us in some arbitrary manner. No, justice was served. Jesus Christ lived out His life in perfect submission to the Law of God. Therefore, when He experienced death on the cross, he was not paying the curse of the Law (see Galatians 3:13) for His own breaking of God's Law (for He had never done so). Rather he was fulfilling OUR just sentence. And because he did so - the penalty of the Law against us was fulfilled!

So ... the next time you experience a cancellation for whatever reason - allow that cancellation to remind you of the one cancellation that is most definitely worthy to get excited about - not just during this week of Christmas, but every week of the year!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aliens on Earth!


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 exactly what we are. We are travelers who have yet to arrive at our final destination. And we must always remember that! The temptation to "settle down" into this temporal, earthly life is very alluring. If we are to fulfill the mission God has given us, and prepare ourselves for the life that awaits us in heaven, then we must live our lives HERE and NOW in light of the life we will live THERE and THEN! So ... don't get wrapped up in storing up for yourselves treasures here on earth, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal", knowing that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (see Matthew 6:20-21).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful . . .


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 providence.

Let me encourage you to use this time to slow down and reconnect ... with God and with your family. Spend some time around your Christmas tree. Moms and dads, share some childhood memories of your Christmases of yesteryear. Sing a Christmas carol or two. Open your Bible and do some long overdue reading. Play some games. Call a friend (you should catch them at home if your friend lives anywhere near Lancaster!).  Whether you are a snow lover or hater - "This is the day that the LORD has made" (Psalm 118:24) - so "let us be glad and rejoice in it!" Even if the weather outside is frightful!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Security? What Do We Have to Fear?


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 the security at the White House?" Whatever it says, it is definitely not complimentary!!!

So the security around the President seems a little lax. But the security around the follower of Jesus is anything but! Jesus states in John 10:27-30: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one." 

The Apostle Paul adds to this thought of the security of the believer in Christ when he states in Romans 8:38-39: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, have you thanked your Father lately for the security you have in Christ? Be assured - there is nothing that can breach the security He provides!


Thanks for stopping by!

pj

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Will Be a Blue Christmas . . .


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 we are to encourage our downcast hearts. Take a moment and read the psalm ... and then I will share a couple more thoughts:

Psalm 13
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD,  for he has been good to me.

David takes two steps to get beyond his blues. First he prays. He asks God to give light to his eyes. I believe what he is asking for is that God would grant him His perspective on his, David's problems. It is so easy to lose perspective when troubles hit. To see our problems as God sees them is a big part of overcoming discouragement. Secondly, David chooses to trust God - specifically God's unfailing love and salvation. Friends, when difficulties hit and we grow discouraged, it is easy to doubt God's love for us and his goodness toward us. We must refuse to go down this path and instead choose to go down the path of trusting our loving and our good God. When we take these two steps, our hearts will begin to move from sadness to singing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wanted: A Car Thief!


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 comfort. We live to make life more comfortable. Comfort and convenience are two highly cherished personal values. And so we take the chance of a ticket or theft because of our desire to slip into a warm car and avoid the shivers that come from sitting in an ice box. In addition, we really don't think our car will get stolen. Yes, the police warn us ... and yes, we hear about it happening, BUT it surely won't happen to us. This is how many of us approach life. However, it is downright foolish to think like this. If we are unguarded enough to leave our car unattended with the keys in the ignition - we are simply asking for trouble. And life brings enough trouble are way without us advertising for it! The Scripture is clear, "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7). What are YOU sowing today? An important question to consider because what you sow today you will reap tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 14, 2009

Black Ice and Common Sense!


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, you are one of those people who like to throw caution to the wind! Now what makes black ice so treacherous is that it is almost impossible to spot. So before you know it - you are on top of it and your tires are spinning and your car begins to slip and slide. Hopefully you get it under control before you collide with some immovable object! So ... please if you are driving on a wet day and the temperature is anywhere near freezing - PLEASE slow down and drive with care!

So bottom line, it all comes down to driving with a bit of common sense. In fact - much of life comes down to living with a bit of common sense. It amazes me at how so many of us lack so much of this commodity of common sense and that includes what I call "spiritual common sense." This type of common sense is what comes our way from getting to know the basic scriptural truths that the Bible gives to us over and over again. Truth that is designed to help us become more like Jesus. So we need to be in the Word so we get this spiritual common sense into our heads ... and then we need to be intentional about the Word as we seek to apply it to our daily lives!  How about it? Are YOU living your life with a lot of spiritual common sense?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Thought for Your Weekend . . .


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 residence in your heart that you need to get rid of right now? If you are not sure, ask God to show you ... and when he does, take action!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, December 11, 2009

Climategate and Integrity


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 decided to give Dr Jones the benefit of the doubt - that is until I had the chance to consult several online dictionaries. Every single dictionary I checked with indicated that the definition of the word "trick" carried the idea of deception. Dr. Jones apparently needs to check his dictionary a little more carefully!

All this to say - as fallen sinful people, we have a tendency to do whatever it takes to rationalize our sin and when caught, to do whatever is needed to find some "wiggle room" so we do not have to take responsibility for any wrong doing. For those of us who follow Jesus, we need to be on the alert for this tendency and make sure we don't fall into doing the same. When we are wrong (whether we get caught by others or not is NOT the issue - God sees ALL!) - we need to take responsibility for our actions, repent and confess, embrace God's gracious forgiveness and right any wrongs.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frozen Tongue and Right Talk!


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 frozen grip!

Silly? Yes! But every year it seems like some ten year old some where decides to lick a cold metal object. You can count on it happening (last year it was a ten year old in Hammon, Indiana). Perhaps more of us should consider doing just that. Well, not really. But all of us could benefit from keeping our tongues in check. All too often our tongues (that piece of flesh that wags between our jaws) get out of control. And with a thoughtless word (or words) we pierce another person's soul. Let's purpose to practice Ephesians 4:29 in our talk: "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 who listen."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

While on Vacation . . .


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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Laugh a Little!



 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 disease
Mental Health Benefits:
  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
Social 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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger's Confession


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," but due to his "transgressions" he has lost his good name and probably a lot more!  Let's learn from this. Even when we think we have "gotten away" with a sin - we really have not!  Our sin will find us out - some how, some way! And when it does ... the good name we have worked at building for so long can be gone in an instant!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

4 Cops Slain! Why?


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 teenage crime spree, but had his sentence commuted after he demonstrated to the satisfaction of the governor and the parole board that eleven years in prison had changed him. This is what he wrote concerning his change: "Where once stood a young (16) year old misguided fool, who's own life he was unable to rule. Now stands a 27 year old man, who has learned through 'the school of hard knocks' to appreciate and respect the rights of others. And who has in the midst of the harsh reality of prison life developed the necessary skills to stand along and not follow a multitude of do evil, as I did as a 16 year old child."  Unfortunately for the four cops and their families (not to mention other crime victims - Clemmens had 7 pending felony charges in Washington at the time of his death) - his change did not run as deep as he claimed. Now I understand hindsight is 20-20 - but somewhere and somehow the justice system failed!

This brings me to ask about changes you have made in your life. Are they deep and abiding? Or are you just mouthing change while deep down inside you remain the same old ..... whatever. It is easy to claim change ... far more difficult to actually experience it. Now there are a number of reasons for this such as the reality that our sinful flesh bulks at any change toward Christlikeness; and our Enemy (a.k.a. "Satan") sure does not want us to experience change toward godliness; and our entire world system is hell bent on keeping us in line with all of its godless values. All this to say we must PRAY with all our might that God would work deep within us to change us and make us more like Jesus AND we must WORK at disciplining ourselves for godliness. Or as someone once put it: Pray as if everything depends on God and WORK as if everything depends on you!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hell? No!


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 a God of love and love alone. Even among evangelical believers, the troubling trend of the disrobing of God of his majestic holiness is a happening! This in spite of the fact that Scripture portrays a God who is as much a God of wrath as He is a God of love, many turn a deaf ear to the teaching of the former and prefer to think of God primarily (if not only) in terms of His love. This is tragic for as A.W. Pink points out, "A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God than there are to His love and tenderness." If you want confirmation on this - just read through the book of Revelation and note the references to God's wrath!

4. Hell is indeed a real place. It is referred to over and over again in Scripture (and mentioned often by the Lord Jesus Himself). But how can God send someone to hell (that God will do this please see Revelation 20:11-15) for all eternity when the person has sinned for only 60, 70, or 80 years? Doesn't that seem like the punishment is a bit "over the top?" Read the following quote from Lee Strobel's book, A Case for Faith (in which he quotes J.P. Moreland): “You have to understand that God is infinitely greater in his goodness, holiness, kindness, and justice than anyone else. To think that a person could go through their whole life constantly ignoring him, constantly mocking him by the way they choose to live life without him, saying, ‘I couldn’t care less about what you put me here to do. I couldn’t care less about your values or your Son’s death for me.  I’m going to ignore all that’– that’s the ultimate sin. And the only punishment worthy of that is the ultimate punishment, which is eternal separation from God.”

5. The fact that an increasing number of people reject the concept of hell - this does not mean hell is not real (consider that for centuries the vast majority of people believed the earth was the center of the solar system - yet this strong belief did not make it so!). Hell is real and therefore people who continue to live with out Jesus Christ are in danger of eternal judgment. Those of us who have the good news must strive to be more intentional about sharing that good news with others. It is their only hope!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Post Thanksgiving Reflections


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 Christmas spirit. Hmm. The Christmas spirit?  When I think of the spirit of the Christmas holiday I think of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). If we want to do something "in the Christmas spirit" then let's share the gospel with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates. Let's give a gift to a ministry that reaches out to the poor and need, like Children's Fellowship of India or Water Street Ministries. That's what the Christmas spirit is really all about!

3. Given the fact that there are now only 31 days left in this year, let me ask you something. Is there anything you have been planning to do but just have not "gotten around to it?"  Let me challenge you to stop right now and make plans to "get around to it." It may be inviting a friend over for dinner or out to lunch. It may be something your spouse has been asking you to do around the house. It may be a spiritual discipline you have been meaning to tackle or a book you have been meaning to read. But whatever it is you have been thinking about doing --- do it! Before this year is over and a new one arrives!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanking on Purpose!


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 changing God!

Let me encourage you to get intentional about giving thanks - not just on Thanksgiving Day but EVERY DAY!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talk about Some HEAVY Reading!


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 70,000 pages long!).

As complicated as our government makes things .... God on the other hand makes things simple. Take the gospel for example. One does not need to read a 2000 page document filled with "legaleese" and "financialeese" to understand the meaning of the gospel. In fact, John 3:16 expresses the heart of the gospel quite well. In just 26 words, Jesus Christ explains the gospel when he says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Now here is a message simple enough for a child to grasp! No lawyers, accountants, medical experts or economists required!

I for one want to go on record that I am quite thankful to God that he loved me, a sinner and a born rebel, and that His Son took my place on the cross and paid the penalty for my sin!  I thank God for the simple - yet profound - gospel message!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Begin Thanksgiving Week


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, like son" or "like mother like daughter" is very true.

4. There's no better meal than turkey with all the trimmings (by the way, if you have never tried Isaac Restaurant's  'Thanksgiving on a Bun' sandwich - you MUST do so!). Well, like many places, turkey with all the trimmings is the menu for our Smith Thanksgiving Day feast. But that is not the highlight for me. The highlight is having our entire family around the table, thanking God for His blessings and enjoying one another's company. It doesn't get much better than that. Thank you, Father!!!

And thank YOU for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Real Zinger for So Many of Us!


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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Cow Takes a Dip!


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 for this is that many of those who are teaching from America's pulpits are giving a watered-down gospel at best and another gospel at worse (see Galatians 1:6-9 to hear what the Apostle Paul had to say about those who were distorting the gospel). To show you what I mean, check out the following excerpt of an interview done by Larry King on CNN. His guest? Joel Osteen, pastor of one of the largest (if not the largest) church in America. Just listen to his lack of clarity on what humanity so desperately needs to hear - the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

So ... in closing, let me encourage  you - if you claim to be a follower of Jesus - whenever you listen to anyone teach the Bible, follow the example of the Bereans who listened to Paul preach. In Acts 17:11 we read, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Let's go and do likewise!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Just around the Corner!


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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UNFRIEND?


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 friend requests from people I do NOT know.

However, being a friend in "the REAL world" is much more demanding. The Old Testament book of wisdom, Proverbs, has much to say about friendship (the word "friend" in some form appears 25 times in the book!). One of these verses speaks about the Facebook social community (and other such cyberspace relational sites). Proverbs 18:25 reads, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." This verse contains a warning to those of us who use Facebook type sites to do our social networking - and it is this. Having lots of friends on Facebook is simply having a lot of COMPANIONS -- people who you might "know" and who might "know" you. But if we are to really make it in life - we need those friends who stick closer than a brother. This type of friendship can stay connected via a site like Facebook - but I do not believe it can be nurtured into a deep relationship there. All this to say -- do not neglect face-to-face contact with your friends. For it is there that you will find yourself growing together and your hearts bonding!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 13, 2009

What We MUST Know


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 following quotes:

"Of all the things you might ever study or reflect on, nothing could possibly be greater than God. So your view of Him automatically has more far-reaching ramifications than anything else in your belief system. What you think of God WILL automatically color how you think about everything else - especially how you prioritize values; how you determine right and wrong; and what you think of your own place in the universe. That in turn will surely determine how you act." (John MacArthur, The Jesus You Cannot Ignore)

"This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,  24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD . . .' (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

How well do you KNOW God???

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Insomnia!


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 last time either! According to emedicine.com, an estimated 30-50% of the population is affected by insomnia, and about 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. Given these stats, I am sure you can most likely relate to my experience.

Now what makes my bouts with insomnia so baffling is the ease at which I sometimes find myself falling asleep. I can be watching the evening news (either 6 PM or 10 PM) and fall fast asleep. And there have been a few times in the past in which I have been talking to my wife (or a roommate on a mission trip) and have fallen asleep in the middle of a sentence (with me speaking!!!). So I just don't get it! Sometimes sleep comes easily and at other times it is very elusive. And as to why this is so, I must confess that for the most part I am clueless!

Of course, the reason we all hate these bouts with insomnia is that we need our sleep. And when we are deprived of sleep, our minds become foggy and our spirits grow grumpy - and that is not a great way to tackle our day! But this is NOT so with our God. Unlike us He requires no sleep. In fact, he never sleeps. And for us, that is a very good thing. In Psalm 121:4 we are told that the God who watches us, "will neither slumber nor sleep." So you and I never need to worry that when we are facing a crisis God might be sleeping through it. No. Never happen. God is always watching over us - 24/7/365. And I for one am very glad!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You, Vets!!!


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 for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Weekend, Two Church Visits


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 regard to the bread and cup), "This do in remembrance of Me." However, there was a woeful lack of attention given to Jesus and His sacrifice for us as we observed the bread and cup. It left me feeling that this was something the church had to "squeeze" into their worship script for the service. It also made me so very thankful for how we practice the Lord's Supper, giving a whole 1 1/2 hours to the practice (and if you have never participated in a three-fold communion service - which is based on the events of the Last Supper - I encourage you to join us at Grace this coming Sunday (Nov. 15) at 6 PM in our Family Life Center).

3. There's no place like home! I love my church. Yes, it's not a perfect church. But is a church that lives up to its name. Grace is in the fibers of our church - and I love it! So to all who call Grace Church at Willow Valley "home" - I want you to know that I am privileged to be serving you for Jesus' sake!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home from Indiana . . .


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!).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiness or Happiness?


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 commanded: God wills it, Christ requires it, and all the Scriptures - the law, the gospel, the prophets, the wisdom writings, the epistles, the history books that tell of judgments past and the book of Revelation that tells of judgment to come - call for it." (if you want biblical support for this statement, please see the following: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; John 8:11; Matthew 5:19, 1 Peter 1:16, Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 4:21-24, 5:25-27; Revelation 21:27; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1 - and I could go on ... but I will stop there!)

Hmm. J. I. is right here. Far too many of us have bought into the American right to the "pursuit of happiness" when we should be striving to pursue the biblical mandate to be holy. How about you? Given much thought lately to your state of personal holiness? (Oh and by the way ... the path of personal holiness results in a deep and enduring joy which is a far better state of soul then "happiness" which is so dependent on our external "happeninings!")

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Indiana!


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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back to Africa?


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 Word of God!"


That last statement is so true. I do love to teach God's Word!  And why is that so? The answer to that question is found in the prayer Jesus prayed for His Church the night before His crucifixion. As He prayed to His Father, He said, "Sanctify them by the truth - your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's Word is THE instrument that God will work through to transform us into the image of Christ. So I am thrilled to know that I get the opportunity to teach God's people God's Word ... and then pray for them that they will take the Word and obey it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Start the Week


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 Christ do not have to "grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Because Jesus lives we know with confidence that when His followers die - they really live on (see John 14:19)! Are YOU ready to meet God? (see http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/ to find out how YOU can be ready to meet God!)

3.  It is great to be feeling well physically again. For many weeks following my return from Africa, I just "was not myself!" But thanks to a couple of weeks of antibiotics and the gracious hand of God, the little visitors that I unknowingly brought home with me are now gone - and I hope never to return!

4. Finally, I am so grateful for my kids. All of them are now married (and I think happily so). My wife and I are thankful to God that in His providence they all still live in Lancaster county, none more than 25 minutes from our house. That is a blessing we do not take for granted (and hope we never do!). My hope is that my wife and I will continue to be able to build into the lives of our children .... and their children as they come along. What a privilege that is!

5. Tomorrow is election day. Do make the time to exercise your citizenship and vote!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got Faith?


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

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Unwelcome Certainty of Life


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 remain young) - death is inevitable. And none of us know just when death will come knocking on our door! So getting prepared is not a bad idea. In fact, it is a pretty good one. Some people see pre-planning of one's funeral as being morbid. I see it as being prudent. Having had to go through with my siblings the planning of both of my parents' funerals - I know how difficult it is to make decisions while being emotionally drained. Why not spare your loved ones from having to go through this? Make the decisions for them so they don't have to guess about what you would have wanted. And relieve them the necessity of making tough calls when they are in the midst of the often overwhelming pain of grief.


In addition, getting prepared for death also involves getting ready to meet God. The Scripture is clear that "just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Did you catch that? There is an "after that" to death. And the "after that" is judgment. Are you ready to face God's judgment?  How does one "get ready?"  Take a moment and check out the following web site - it will explain how to "get ready!" --  http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talk about a Wrong Assessment!


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't realize that President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event that day (the event was the public dedication of a cemetery built to bury the Union dead who died in the battle of Gettysburg). That honor went to a man by the name of Edward Everett, one of the era's greatest orators. Everett spoke for two hours. Lincoln's "Dedicatory Remarks" (the label given them in the ceremony's program) lasted two minutes. But I would challenge any of you to recall from memory one phrase from Everett's marathon speech. On the other hand, I would guess that many of you could either recall a portion of Lincoln's ten sentence address - or would at the very least recognize if you heard it being read. It has indeed reached the status of one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) speeches ever given in America's two plus centuries of existence. BOY did those newspapers ever get it wrong!

Now some of the papers who ridiculed Lincoln's remarks did so due to political leanings. Others simply thought the speech was sub par. But whatever the reason - many papers missed seeing the address for what it truly was - a truly great speech. Reminds me of how so many people miss the Bible for what it truly is ... a truly great book. With so many in our world offering advice, I want to go on public record (again!) and say that there is no better advice to be had on how to make life work than the Bible! In its pages God gives us "everything pertaining to life and godliness!" (2 Peter 1:3).

Have you read your Bible lately?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back from Vacation with Some Random Thoughts


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 personal history). We just might learn something from yesterday that will help us live our lives today!

2. This coming Saturday night we finally get the hour of sleep back that we lost last March when we turned the clocks ahead to Daylight Savings Time. This coming Sunday morning (at 2 AM) Daylight Savings Time will come to an end. That means we get to turn the clocks back upon retiring!  Hurrah! I wish we could do this every night! (But if we were to do that, we would soon be heading to lunch in the dark!) I love my nights. I love climbing into bed when totally exhausted and then drifting off to Sleepville!  This is one reason I just love the word the book of Hebrews uses for heaven ... "REST!"  Wow!  What an experience that will be - to be able to rest forever!!! Thanks to what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross (paid the penalty for MY sin) I am heading to heaven! What about YOU? Have you trusted Christ as your savior yet?

3. Two excellent baseball teams begin to slug it out starting tonight in the World Series. The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were one and two in the number of home runs hit during the regular season. So the series could turn into a real slug fest! I think the teams are fairly evenly matched and both are playing good baseball. I sure hope the Phils win - but if they don't, my life will go on and will go on quite gladly. My gladness does not come from the success of any sports team - but rather from my relationship with a God great enough to speak the universe into existence and good enough to welcome me, a defiant rebel to his banqueting table!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gone Fishing! Well not Really - Just Gone!


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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Take Care of Your Good Name!


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 remember what the Good Book says about a good name: "A good name is more desirable than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1). 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good Old Days?


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 million pounds of manure to dispose of each and every day! So what happened to all that manure? In many neighborhoods it lined the streets as large snow banks do today after a winter snow storm. It was heaped into huge piles in vacant lots (some piles reaching 60 feet in height!). And not only did it stink, it was a fertile breeding ground for flies that spread disease. City planners were at a loss of how to resolve the manure problem. Fortunately for them, the arrival of the automobile solved the problem (and replaced it with others)!

Problems. In every era, humanity has encountered problems - and will continue to do so until Jesus returns. Sometimes problems resolve themselves (as in the case of unwanted horse manure). But many times we have to apply our minds - using our knowledge and wisdom to find a solution. As we do, let's not fail to ask the giver of wisdom for his help. All too often we try to fix things on our own, leaving God out of the equation. Doing that will only result in failure in the long run. Keep in mind these words of wisdom from the Old Testament book of wisdom: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, December 31, 2009

When Life Unravels Due to an Unexpected Death . . .


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 not have to walk through it alone. As King David wrote, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me!" (Psalm 23:4)

Thanks for stopping by . . . and thanks for your prayers for our family . . .

pj

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

T-minus 42 Hours and 11 Minutes!


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 reminds us, "This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24).Put off griping and complaining and put on a spirit of gratitude!

3. Spend more time in prayer. I know I need to do this ... but with life being so short and passing so quickly, we MUST ask God to anoint our days with His grace and His enablement, without which we are destined to fail. Let's practice the instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray continually."

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yum! Let's Eat Some Crow!


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, 1962)

- "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." (drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859)

All of us realize that these individuals quoted here not only got it wrong ... they got it VERY wrong! But we can rest assured that our God NEVER gets it wrong. What he proclaims to be true in His Word is true! And what He says in His Word will one day happen, WILL HAPPEN! Are you prepared for the future that God lays out in the Bible? Why not pick up the book of Revelation and read chapters 19-22? What is described in those pages will one day occur - you can count on it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Reflections


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 thanked God TODAY for the indescribable gift of His Son, Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .l

pj

Thursday, December 24, 2009

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Only Two Days Until Christmas!


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, she left the room and rushed into the master bedroom where she had left her baby asleep in the middle of their large bed. There on the bed she found a huge pile of the guests' coats. The mother rushed to them and began to fling them aside as she clawed down to the bottom of the pile. To her horror she found her baby. . . dead. . . smothered by the coats of her guests." 

This parable was written to caution us against allowing all the activities and hub-bub of Christmas to cause us to lose sight of the very reason for the season - and that is the Christ child. Please be sure to be very intentional about worshiping Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).  Where would we be if Jesus had not been willing to leave the glory of heaven for the depravity of earth?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are You Mad?


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 is quite commendable!

How about you? Got anger?  Something making you mad? God says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26). You have heard it said (and said rightly) that righeous anger is not sin. But let's be honest. For most of us, the anger we experience is far from righteous! So let's do what the Scripture tells us to do ... and deal with whatever it is that is making us angry, confess to God and get it right!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now That Is One Cancellation to Get Excited About!


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 condemnation (and we are ALL law breakers!). Now God did not cancel His Law and its judgment against us in some arbitrary manner. No, justice was served. Jesus Christ lived out His life in perfect submission to the Law of God. Therefore, when He experienced death on the cross, he was not paying the curse of the Law (see Galatians 3:13) for His own breaking of God's Law (for He had never done so). Rather he was fulfilling OUR just sentence. And because he did so - the penalty of the Law against us was fulfilled!

So ... the next time you experience a cancellation for whatever reason - allow that cancellation to remind you of the one cancellation that is most definitely worthy to get excited about - not just during this week of Christmas, but every week of the year!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aliens on Earth!


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 exactly what we are. We are travelers who have yet to arrive at our final destination. And we must always remember that! The temptation to "settle down" into this temporal, earthly life is very alluring. If we are to fulfill the mission God has given us, and prepare ourselves for the life that awaits us in heaven, then we must live our lives HERE and NOW in light of the life we will live THERE and THEN! So ... don't get wrapped up in storing up for yourselves treasures here on earth, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal", knowing that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (see Matthew 6:20-21).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful . . .


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 providence.

Let me encourage you to use this time to slow down and reconnect ... with God and with your family. Spend some time around your Christmas tree. Moms and dads, share some childhood memories of your Christmases of yesteryear. Sing a Christmas carol or two. Open your Bible and do some long overdue reading. Play some games. Call a friend (you should catch them at home if your friend lives anywhere near Lancaster!).  Whether you are a snow lover or hater - "This is the day that the LORD has made" (Psalm 118:24) - so "let us be glad and rejoice in it!" Even if the weather outside is frightful!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Security? What Do We Have to Fear?


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 the security at the White House?" Whatever it says, it is definitely not complimentary!!!

So the security around the President seems a little lax. But the security around the follower of Jesus is anything but! Jesus states in John 10:27-30: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one." 

The Apostle Paul adds to this thought of the security of the believer in Christ when he states in Romans 8:38-39: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, have you thanked your Father lately for the security you have in Christ? Be assured - there is nothing that can breach the security He provides!


Thanks for stopping by!

pj

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Will Be a Blue Christmas . . .


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 we are to encourage our downcast hearts. Take a moment and read the psalm ... and then I will share a couple more thoughts:

Psalm 13
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD,  for he has been good to me.

David takes two steps to get beyond his blues. First he prays. He asks God to give light to his eyes. I believe what he is asking for is that God would grant him His perspective on his, David's problems. It is so easy to lose perspective when troubles hit. To see our problems as God sees them is a big part of overcoming discouragement. Secondly, David chooses to trust God - specifically God's unfailing love and salvation. Friends, when difficulties hit and we grow discouraged, it is easy to doubt God's love for us and his goodness toward us. We must refuse to go down this path and instead choose to go down the path of trusting our loving and our good God. When we take these two steps, our hearts will begin to move from sadness to singing!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wanted: A Car Thief!


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 comfort. We live to make life more comfortable. Comfort and convenience are two highly cherished personal values. And so we take the chance of a ticket or theft because of our desire to slip into a warm car and avoid the shivers that come from sitting in an ice box. In addition, we really don't think our car will get stolen. Yes, the police warn us ... and yes, we hear about it happening, BUT it surely won't happen to us. This is how many of us approach life. However, it is downright foolish to think like this. If we are unguarded enough to leave our car unattended with the keys in the ignition - we are simply asking for trouble. And life brings enough trouble are way without us advertising for it! The Scripture is clear, "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7). What are YOU sowing today? An important question to consider because what you sow today you will reap tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, December 14, 2009

Black Ice and Common Sense!


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, you are one of those people who like to throw caution to the wind! Now what makes black ice so treacherous is that it is almost impossible to spot. So before you know it - you are on top of it and your tires are spinning and your car begins to slip and slide. Hopefully you get it under control before you collide with some immovable object! So ... please if you are driving on a wet day and the temperature is anywhere near freezing - PLEASE slow down and drive with care!

So bottom line, it all comes down to driving with a bit of common sense. In fact - much of life comes down to living with a bit of common sense. It amazes me at how so many of us lack so much of this commodity of common sense and that includes what I call "spiritual common sense." This type of common sense is what comes our way from getting to know the basic scriptural truths that the Bible gives to us over and over again. Truth that is designed to help us become more like Jesus. So we need to be in the Word so we get this spiritual common sense into our heads ... and then we need to be intentional about the Word as we seek to apply it to our daily lives!  How about it? Are YOU living your life with a lot of spiritual common sense?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Thought for Your Weekend . . .


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 residence in your heart that you need to get rid of right now? If you are not sure, ask God to show you ... and when he does, take action!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, December 11, 2009

Climategate and Integrity


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 decided to give Dr Jones the benefit of the doubt - that is until I had the chance to consult several online dictionaries. Every single dictionary I checked with indicated that the definition of the word "trick" carried the idea of deception. Dr. Jones apparently needs to check his dictionary a little more carefully!

All this to say - as fallen sinful people, we have a tendency to do whatever it takes to rationalize our sin and when caught, to do whatever is needed to find some "wiggle room" so we do not have to take responsibility for any wrong doing. For those of us who follow Jesus, we need to be on the alert for this tendency and make sure we don't fall into doing the same. When we are wrong (whether we get caught by others or not is NOT the issue - God sees ALL!) - we need to take responsibility for our actions, repent and confess, embrace God's gracious forgiveness and right any wrongs.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frozen Tongue and Right Talk!


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 frozen grip!

Silly? Yes! But every year it seems like some ten year old some where decides to lick a cold metal object. You can count on it happening (last year it was a ten year old in Hammon, Indiana). Perhaps more of us should consider doing just that. Well, not really. But all of us could benefit from keeping our tongues in check. All too often our tongues (that piece of flesh that wags between our jaws) get out of control. And with a thoughtless word (or words) we pierce another person's soul. Let's purpose to practice Ephesians 4:29 in our talk: "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 who listen."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

While on Vacation . . .


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

Friday, December 4, 2009

Laugh a Little!



 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 disease
Mental Health Benefits:
  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
Social 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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger's Confession


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," but due to his "transgressions" he has lost his good name and probably a lot more!  Let's learn from this. Even when we think we have "gotten away" with a sin - we really have not!  Our sin will find us out - some how, some way! And when it does ... the good name we have worked at building for so long can be gone in an instant!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

4 Cops Slain! Why?


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 teenage crime spree, but had his sentence commuted after he demonstrated to the satisfaction of the governor and the parole board that eleven years in prison had changed him. This is what he wrote concerning his change: "Where once stood a young (16) year old misguided fool, who's own life he was unable to rule. Now stands a 27 year old man, who has learned through 'the school of hard knocks' to appreciate and respect the rights of others. And who has in the midst of the harsh reality of prison life developed the necessary skills to stand along and not follow a multitude of do evil, as I did as a 16 year old child."  Unfortunately for the four cops and their families (not to mention other crime victims - Clemmens had 7 pending felony charges in Washington at the time of his death) - his change did not run as deep as he claimed. Now I understand hindsight is 20-20 - but somewhere and somehow the justice system failed!

This brings me to ask about changes you have made in your life. Are they deep and abiding? Or are you just mouthing change while deep down inside you remain the same old ..... whatever. It is easy to claim change ... far more difficult to actually experience it. Now there are a number of reasons for this such as the reality that our sinful flesh bulks at any change toward Christlikeness; and our Enemy (a.k.a. "Satan") sure does not want us to experience change toward godliness; and our entire world system is hell bent on keeping us in line with all of its godless values. All this to say we must PRAY with all our might that God would work deep within us to change us and make us more like Jesus AND we must WORK at disciplining ourselves for godliness. Or as someone once put it: Pray as if everything depends on God and WORK as if everything depends on you!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hell? No!


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 a God of love and love alone. Even among evangelical believers, the troubling trend of the disrobing of God of his majestic holiness is a happening! This in spite of the fact that Scripture portrays a God who is as much a God of wrath as He is a God of love, many turn a deaf ear to the teaching of the former and prefer to think of God primarily (if not only) in terms of His love. This is tragic for as A.W. Pink points out, "A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God than there are to His love and tenderness." If you want confirmation on this - just read through the book of Revelation and note the references to God's wrath!

4. Hell is indeed a real place. It is referred to over and over again in Scripture (and mentioned often by the Lord Jesus Himself). But how can God send someone to hell (that God will do this please see Revelation 20:11-15) for all eternity when the person has sinned for only 60, 70, or 80 years? Doesn't that seem like the punishment is a bit "over the top?" Read the following quote from Lee Strobel's book, A Case for Faith (in which he quotes J.P. Moreland): “You have to understand that God is infinitely greater in his goodness, holiness, kindness, and justice than anyone else. To think that a person could go through their whole life constantly ignoring him, constantly mocking him by the way they choose to live life without him, saying, ‘I couldn’t care less about what you put me here to do. I couldn’t care less about your values or your Son’s death for me.  I’m going to ignore all that’– that’s the ultimate sin. And the only punishment worthy of that is the ultimate punishment, which is eternal separation from God.”

5. The fact that an increasing number of people reject the concept of hell - this does not mean hell is not real (consider that for centuries the vast majority of people believed the earth was the center of the solar system - yet this strong belief did not make it so!). Hell is real and therefore people who continue to live with out Jesus Christ are in danger of eternal judgment. Those of us who have the good news must strive to be more intentional about sharing that good news with others. It is their only hope!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Post Thanksgiving Reflections


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 Christmas spirit. Hmm. The Christmas spirit?  When I think of the spirit of the Christmas holiday I think of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). If we want to do something "in the Christmas spirit" then let's share the gospel with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates. Let's give a gift to a ministry that reaches out to the poor and need, like Children's Fellowship of India or Water Street Ministries. That's what the Christmas spirit is really all about!

3. Given the fact that there are now only 31 days left in this year, let me ask you something. Is there anything you have been planning to do but just have not "gotten around to it?"  Let me challenge you to stop right now and make plans to "get around to it." It may be inviting a friend over for dinner or out to lunch. It may be something your spouse has been asking you to do around the house. It may be a spiritual discipline you have been meaning to tackle or a book you have been meaning to read. But whatever it is you have been thinking about doing --- do it! Before this year is over and a new one arrives!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanking on Purpose!


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 changing God!

Let me encourage you to get intentional about giving thanks - not just on Thanksgiving Day but EVERY DAY!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talk about Some HEAVY Reading!


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 70,000 pages long!).

As complicated as our government makes things .... God on the other hand makes things simple. Take the gospel for example. One does not need to read a 2000 page document filled with "legaleese" and "financialeese" to understand the meaning of the gospel. In fact, John 3:16 expresses the heart of the gospel quite well. In just 26 words, Jesus Christ explains the gospel when he says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Now here is a message simple enough for a child to grasp! No lawyers, accountants, medical experts or economists required!

I for one want to go on record that I am quite thankful to God that he loved me, a sinner and a born rebel, and that His Son took my place on the cross and paid the penalty for my sin!  I thank God for the simple - yet profound - gospel message!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 23, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Begin Thanksgiving Week


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, like son" or "like mother like daughter" is very true.

4. There's no better meal than turkey with all the trimmings (by the way, if you have never tried Isaac Restaurant's  'Thanksgiving on a Bun' sandwich - you MUST do so!). Well, like many places, turkey with all the trimmings is the menu for our Smith Thanksgiving Day feast. But that is not the highlight for me. The highlight is having our entire family around the table, thanking God for His blessings and enjoying one another's company. It doesn't get much better than that. Thank you, Father!!!

And thank YOU for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Real Zinger for So Many of Us!


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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Cow Takes a Dip!


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 for this is that many of those who are teaching from America's pulpits are giving a watered-down gospel at best and another gospel at worse (see Galatians 1:6-9 to hear what the Apostle Paul had to say about those who were distorting the gospel). To show you what I mean, check out the following excerpt of an interview done by Larry King on CNN. His guest? Joel Osteen, pastor of one of the largest (if not the largest) church in America. Just listen to his lack of clarity on what humanity so desperately needs to hear - the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

So ... in closing, let me encourage  you - if you claim to be a follower of Jesus - whenever you listen to anyone teach the Bible, follow the example of the Bereans who listened to Paul preach. In Acts 17:11 we read, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Let's go and do likewise!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Just around the Corner!


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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UNFRIEND?


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 friend requests from people I do NOT know.

However, being a friend in "the REAL world" is much more demanding. The Old Testament book of wisdom, Proverbs, has much to say about friendship (the word "friend" in some form appears 25 times in the book!). One of these verses speaks about the Facebook social community (and other such cyberspace relational sites). Proverbs 18:25 reads, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." This verse contains a warning to those of us who use Facebook type sites to do our social networking - and it is this. Having lots of friends on Facebook is simply having a lot of COMPANIONS -- people who you might "know" and who might "know" you. But if we are to really make it in life - we need those friends who stick closer than a brother. This type of friendship can stay connected via a site like Facebook - but I do not believe it can be nurtured into a deep relationship there. All this to say -- do not neglect face-to-face contact with your friends. For it is there that you will find yourself growing together and your hearts bonding!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, November 13, 2009

What We MUST Know


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 following quotes:

"Of all the things you might ever study or reflect on, nothing could possibly be greater than God. So your view of Him automatically has more far-reaching ramifications than anything else in your belief system. What you think of God WILL automatically color how you think about everything else - especially how you prioritize values; how you determine right and wrong; and what you think of your own place in the universe. That in turn will surely determine how you act." (John MacArthur, The Jesus You Cannot Ignore)

"This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,  24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD . . .' (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

How well do you KNOW God???

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Insomnia!


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 last time either! According to emedicine.com, an estimated 30-50% of the population is affected by insomnia, and about 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. Given these stats, I am sure you can most likely relate to my experience.

Now what makes my bouts with insomnia so baffling is the ease at which I sometimes find myself falling asleep. I can be watching the evening news (either 6 PM or 10 PM) and fall fast asleep. And there have been a few times in the past in which I have been talking to my wife (or a roommate on a mission trip) and have fallen asleep in the middle of a sentence (with me speaking!!!). So I just don't get it! Sometimes sleep comes easily and at other times it is very elusive. And as to why this is so, I must confess that for the most part I am clueless!

Of course, the reason we all hate these bouts with insomnia is that we need our sleep. And when we are deprived of sleep, our minds become foggy and our spirits grow grumpy - and that is not a great way to tackle our day! But this is NOT so with our God. Unlike us He requires no sleep. In fact, he never sleeps. And for us, that is a very good thing. In Psalm 121:4 we are told that the God who watches us, "will neither slumber nor sleep." So you and I never need to worry that when we are facing a crisis God might be sleeping through it. No. Never happen. God is always watching over us - 24/7/365. And I for one am very glad!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You, Vets!!!


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 for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Weekend, Two Church Visits


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 regard to the bread and cup), "This do in remembrance of Me." However, there was a woeful lack of attention given to Jesus and His sacrifice for us as we observed the bread and cup. It left me feeling that this was something the church had to "squeeze" into their worship script for the service. It also made me so very thankful for how we practice the Lord's Supper, giving a whole 1 1/2 hours to the practice (and if you have never participated in a three-fold communion service - which is based on the events of the Last Supper - I encourage you to join us at Grace this coming Sunday (Nov. 15) at 6 PM in our Family Life Center).

3. There's no place like home! I love my church. Yes, it's not a perfect church. But is a church that lives up to its name. Grace is in the fibers of our church - and I love it! So to all who call Grace Church at Willow Valley "home" - I want you to know that I am privileged to be serving you for Jesus' sake!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home from Indiana . . .


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!).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiness or Happiness?


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 commanded: God wills it, Christ requires it, and all the Scriptures - the law, the gospel, the prophets, the wisdom writings, the epistles, the history books that tell of judgments past and the book of Revelation that tells of judgment to come - call for it." (if you want biblical support for this statement, please see the following: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; John 8:11; Matthew 5:19, 1 Peter 1:16, Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 4:21-24, 5:25-27; Revelation 21:27; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1 - and I could go on ... but I will stop there!)

Hmm. J. I. is right here. Far too many of us have bought into the American right to the "pursuit of happiness" when we should be striving to pursue the biblical mandate to be holy. How about you? Given much thought lately to your state of personal holiness? (Oh and by the way ... the path of personal holiness results in a deep and enduring joy which is a far better state of soul then "happiness" which is so dependent on our external "happeninings!")

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Indiana!


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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back to Africa?


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 Word of God!"


That last statement is so true. I do love to teach God's Word!  And why is that so? The answer to that question is found in the prayer Jesus prayed for His Church the night before His crucifixion. As He prayed to His Father, He said, "Sanctify them by the truth - your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's Word is THE instrument that God will work through to transform us into the image of Christ. So I am thrilled to know that I get the opportunity to teach God's people God's Word ... and then pray for them that they will take the Word and obey it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Start the Week


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 Christ do not have to "grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Because Jesus lives we know with confidence that when His followers die - they really live on (see John 14:19)! Are YOU ready to meet God? (see http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/ to find out how YOU can be ready to meet God!)

3.  It is great to be feeling well physically again. For many weeks following my return from Africa, I just "was not myself!" But thanks to a couple of weeks of antibiotics and the gracious hand of God, the little visitors that I unknowingly brought home with me are now gone - and I hope never to return!

4. Finally, I am so grateful for my kids. All of them are now married (and I think happily so). My wife and I are thankful to God that in His providence they all still live in Lancaster county, none more than 25 minutes from our house. That is a blessing we do not take for granted (and hope we never do!). My hope is that my wife and I will continue to be able to build into the lives of our children .... and their children as they come along. What a privilege that is!

5. Tomorrow is election day. Do make the time to exercise your citizenship and vote!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got Faith?


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

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Unwelcome Certainty of Life


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 remain young) - death is inevitable. And none of us know just when death will come knocking on our door! So getting prepared is not a bad idea. In fact, it is a pretty good one. Some people see pre-planning of one's funeral as being morbid. I see it as being prudent. Having had to go through with my siblings the planning of both of my parents' funerals - I know how difficult it is to make decisions while being emotionally drained. Why not spare your loved ones from having to go through this? Make the decisions for them so they don't have to guess about what you would have wanted. And relieve them the necessity of making tough calls when they are in the midst of the often overwhelming pain of grief.


In addition, getting prepared for death also involves getting ready to meet God. The Scripture is clear that "just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Did you catch that? There is an "after that" to death. And the "after that" is judgment. Are you ready to face God's judgment?  How does one "get ready?"  Take a moment and check out the following web site - it will explain how to "get ready!" --  http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talk about a Wrong Assessment!


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't realize that President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event that day (the event was the public dedication of a cemetery built to bury the Union dead who died in the battle of Gettysburg). That honor went to a man by the name of Edward Everett, one of the era's greatest orators. Everett spoke for two hours. Lincoln's "Dedicatory Remarks" (the label given them in the ceremony's program) lasted two minutes. But I would challenge any of you to recall from memory one phrase from Everett's marathon speech. On the other hand, I would guess that many of you could either recall a portion of Lincoln's ten sentence address - or would at the very least recognize if you heard it being read. It has indeed reached the status of one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) speeches ever given in America's two plus centuries of existence. BOY did those newspapers ever get it wrong!

Now some of the papers who ridiculed Lincoln's remarks did so due to political leanings. Others simply thought the speech was sub par. But whatever the reason - many papers missed seeing the address for what it truly was - a truly great speech. Reminds me of how so many people miss the Bible for what it truly is ... a truly great book. With so many in our world offering advice, I want to go on public record (again!) and say that there is no better advice to be had on how to make life work than the Bible! In its pages God gives us "everything pertaining to life and godliness!" (2 Peter 1:3).

Have you read your Bible lately?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back from Vacation with Some Random Thoughts


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 personal history). We just might learn something from yesterday that will help us live our lives today!

2. This coming Saturday night we finally get the hour of sleep back that we lost last March when we turned the clocks ahead to Daylight Savings Time. This coming Sunday morning (at 2 AM) Daylight Savings Time will come to an end. That means we get to turn the clocks back upon retiring!  Hurrah! I wish we could do this every night! (But if we were to do that, we would soon be heading to lunch in the dark!) I love my nights. I love climbing into bed when totally exhausted and then drifting off to Sleepville!  This is one reason I just love the word the book of Hebrews uses for heaven ... "REST!"  Wow!  What an experience that will be - to be able to rest forever!!! Thanks to what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross (paid the penalty for MY sin) I am heading to heaven! What about YOU? Have you trusted Christ as your savior yet?

3. Two excellent baseball teams begin to slug it out starting tonight in the World Series. The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were one and two in the number of home runs hit during the regular season. So the series could turn into a real slug fest! I think the teams are fairly evenly matched and both are playing good baseball. I sure hope the Phils win - but if they don't, my life will go on and will go on quite gladly. My gladness does not come from the success of any sports team - but rather from my relationship with a God great enough to speak the universe into existence and good enough to welcome me, a defiant rebel to his banqueting table!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gone Fishing! Well not Really - Just Gone!


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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Take Care of Your Good Name!


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 remember what the Good Book says about a good name: "A good name is more desirable than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1). 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good Old Days?


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 million pounds of manure to dispose of each and every day! So what happened to all that manure? In many neighborhoods it lined the streets as large snow banks do today after a winter snow storm. It was heaped into huge piles in vacant lots (some piles reaching 60 feet in height!). And not only did it stink, it was a fertile breeding ground for flies that spread disease. City planners were at a loss of how to resolve the manure problem. Fortunately for them, the arrival of the automobile solved the problem (and replaced it with others)!

Problems. In every era, humanity has encountered problems - and will continue to do so until Jesus returns. Sometimes problems resolve themselves (as in the case of unwanted horse manure). But many times we have to apply our minds - using our knowledge and wisdom to find a solution. As we do, let's not fail to ask the giver of wisdom for his help. All too often we try to fix things on our own, leaving God out of the equation. Doing that will only result in failure in the long run. Keep in mind these words of wisdom from the Old Testament book of wisdom: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Are You Preparing for Eternity?

Our journey on earth is but a breath ... a heart beat when compared to the expanse of Eternity. We all must remember that how we live live in the here and now will impact our experience in the then and there.

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.