PJ

PJ

Thursday, February 26, 2009

That's It!


I will soon be heading back to Lancaster. My two days away with God (DAWGs) proved to be refreshing and renewing. I spent much time in pondering, planning, praying, and reading (Scripture and a few other books I am currently reading through). In one of these other books (Christless Christianity) I was struck by one of the author's insights. It struck me because for quite some time I have sensed a significant shortcoming among American Christians (and it may be so for Christians elsewhere in the world, but my observations are, for the most part, of American Christians). Michael Horton's comments were one of those "ahah!" moments for me. This is what he writes:

"In American religion . . . there is almost no sense of God's difference from us - in other words, his majesty, his sovereignty, self-existence, and holiness. God is my buddy, my inmost experience, or the power source for my living my best life now."

I stopped after reading those words ... "Yes, that's it! That is the problem I have been observing all this time!" You see, the Bible is clear that God is both immanent and transcendent. When we say that God is immanent, we are saying that God is "with us" or always near by. The word itself comes from two Latin words meaning "remaining" and "in." Now when we refer to God being transcendent, we are saying the opposite. The word carries the meaning of being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge. When we say that God is transcendent, we are saying that He is above and beyond the universe as we know it. So putting these two concepts together relative to God (which is quite difficult for us finite (i.e. "limited") creatures to do), they tell us that God is both fully present and engaged in this created realm in which we live AND that he is totally distinct from it (as Isaiah 55:9 tells us, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.")

Now most American Christians "get" this idea of God's immanence. After all it is fed to believers almost none stop through the lyrics of popular worship songs, the best-selling books of authors like Joel Osteen, and via thousands and thousands of pulpits in churches across America. Now I am all for living in light of the truth of God's immanence. But, unfortunately, most American Christians have lost a handle (if they ever had a grip on it in the first place!) on this equally important TRUTH of God's transcendence. As a result, our Christian journey of faith suffers - and suffers greatly.

I invite you today to pull out your Bible and read Isaiah chapter 40. This is one of the great passages of Scripture that focuses on the transcendence of our GREAT, ALMIGHTY and INFINITE GOD! What a God we our privileged to call Father!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Take Time to SLOOOOWWW Down

One winter when I was in high school, we experienced a substantial snow storm. A couple of days later, we had an ice storm. This one-two punch of winter weather, left the hills around my small town knee-deep in snow, topped with a thick glaze of ice. So what did my friends and I decide to do? Go tobogganing! Why not? So with toboggans in hand, we struggled up (try walking up hill on ice and you will know what I mean by that word "struggle!") our hill of choice. Upon reaching the top, we quickly boarded our toboggans (four to each toboggan) and off we went (or better said, "off we FLEW!"). I do not know what speeds we reached that night (and yes, we did it at night!), all I know was we were MOVING FAST! And the sound of our toboggans zipping across the ice-glazed snow could be heard from quite a distance away!

When I think back on that experience - I can't believe how courageous (or should I better say, FOOLISH) I was. Wearing no protection, with one wrong move on the toboggan - several of us could have been seriously hurt. But, then again - it sure was FUN!

Living in today's world here in 21st century America, reminds me of the toboggan riding we did that night some 35 years ago. Life moves FAST! Everyday comes and goes in a blaze of speed. This is why it is so important that we take the time to intentionally SLOW DOWN! How can we do so? Let me suggest you learn to practice the spiritual discipline of SILENCE AND SOLITUDE (for an insightful article by Don Whitney on this discipline, check out this link: http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/silence.html).

Recently, my life as been moving at warp speed, so I have decided to "head for the hills" for a couple of what our church staff refers to as DAWGS (Days Away With God). In doing so, I will be practicing this discipline of Silence and Solitude. Therefore, I won't be posting any thoughts for the next few days. It's time for me to SLOOOOWWWW Down!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Insight from C.S. Lewis


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

To which group of people do YOU belong?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Relevance without the Gospel?

Recently I have been reading through Michael Horton's book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. In chapter one, he writes the following:

"Where the gospel is not taken for granted, it is often a means to an end, like personal or social transformation, love and service to our neighbors, and other things that in themselves are marvelous effects of the gospel. However, the Good News concerning Christ is not a stepping-stone to something greater and more relevant. Whether we realize it or not, there is nothing in the universe more relevant to us as guilty image-bearers of God than the news that he has found away to be 'just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:26)."

Horton hits that proverbial nail on the head. Far too many churches have been so busy trying to be relevant to an increasingly godless culture, that they are losing their grip on the ONE THING that makes a church relevant! I pray that here at Grace we will always hold firmly to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is indeed "the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe" (Romans 1:16).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Too Casual?

Last evening I was reminded of just how casual our society has become. Sharon had ordered a DVD set for her mother titled, Reminisce Through the Decades - The 1940s. I made a comment to my wife at one point when a group of guys were playing tag football in their back yard ... and each of the young men was wearing a tie! But back in those days, it was common for men to wear ties almost around the clock (just watch a I Love Lucy episode and take a look at how Ricky dresses as he is just "chillin" around the house!). My how things have changed. Oh there are still times when men and women get "dressed up" - weddings and funerals for example. And there are still some professionals who also routinely wear their suits - like bankers, attorneys and professional athletes. But for the most part, men so rarely wear ties that many don't even know how to tie one! Business attire as been replaced by "business casual" attire for most offices. We have become a casual society.

I often wonder how this "casualness" of our society in general has impacted our view and approach to God. Have we become too casual in our relationship with Him? I am currently reading through the book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer by John MacArthur. In writing about the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be Your Name," MacArthur quotes a Welsh pastor by the name of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who pastored Westminster Chapel in London from 1939-1968. Listen to what this great Bible teacher of yesteryear wrote about the use of God's name:

"What unworthy ideas and notions this world has of God! If you test your ideas of God by the teaching of the Scriptures you will see at a glance what I mean. We lack even a due sense of the greatness and the might and the majesty of God. Listen to men arguing about God, and notice how glibly they use the term . . . It is indeed almost alarming to observe the way in which we all tend to use the name of God. We obviously do not realize that we are talking about the ever blessed, eternal, and absolute, almighty God. There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off our feet whenever we use the name."

MacArthur then continues with his own comments:

"When believers have a low view of God, everything focuses on meeting felt needs within the body of Christ. When the church adopts such a perspective, it often offers people nothing more than spiritual placebos. It centers on psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, and a myriad of other diversions to attempt to meet perceived and felt needs. It is essential, however, that the church and each individual believer in it understand that they exist to bring glory to God. When you know and glorify God, the needs of your life will be met. 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). But many believers don't revere God-their very actions prove their irreverence. Instead of trembling at God's Word, they twist His truths or supplant them with worldly philosophies."


My prayer is that we will all take a long hard look within and ask ourselves, "Do I truly FEAR God -- or have I grown too causal in my relationship with Him?"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, February 13, 2009

Think Ahead!


Authorities in Cape Haze, Florida claim they arrested a man after he had robbed a gas station. Nothing unusual about that. Police arrest people every day for robbery, and convenience stores/gas stations are often favorite targets. But what makes this case so strange is how they caught the thief. After the hold up (which the robber accomplished by threatening the cashier with a knife), the 23 year old took off in his car. However, he did not get very far as he ... are you ready for this? .. he RAN OUT OF GAS! Now ... there's a guy who failed to THINK AHEAD!

But that's true of many of us. We tend to be very MYOPIC (near-sighted) when it comes to life. We often don't think ahead. We are so into the present moment, we fail to give much thought about our future. As a result, we are often ill prepared for what comes down the highway of life.

In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that we THINK AHEAD! One way to do this is to be sure our financial house is in order. Do you have a will? Adequate life insurance? A budget for your financial spending and saving? Friends, we do not know what tomorrow holds. But we need to THINK AHEAD and prepare for WHATEVER and then leave the rest by faith in God's hands!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Contagious?


When I was a kid growing up, my mom always made sure I never left the house without being properly bundled up against the cold winter air. "The quickest way to catch a cold is to go without a coat" she would tell me. Well, my mom was almost always right. But in this case, she was wrong. Exposure to winter's chill might lead to frostbite, but it won't lead to catching a cold. Only exposure to the viruses that can cause the common cold will result in catching the illness. The most common of these viruses is known as the rhinovirus, but other viral causes include the parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus and adenovirus (are you impressed yet? Don't be. I just copied these from a list on some medical web site!). Now as we know, these viruses are very contagious. This is why colds are far more prevalent in winter months. It is during the winter that we have the most prolonged and close contact with others as we live much of life indoors. And so the best defense against catching a cold is to frequently wash your hands (and to stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing!).

Now as I thought of just how contagious these viruses are ... I got to wondering if my faith is just as contagious? Do people look at me and think, "Now there is an example of what living by faith looks like!" I must admit that probably not many people think that. But more important than what people think about my faith walk is what GOD thinks of my faith walk. Hmm. I need to spend some time thinking on that -- and I would encourage you to do the same. In fact, let's all ask God to make us increasingly into people who have a growing and vibrant faith that others "catch!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Know I Should Be Sharing My Faith. But . . .


Most Christians I know would agree with the following statement: "As a Christian, God expects me to share my faith and point lost people to Jesus." At the same time, most Christians I know fail to follow through in practice what they believe in precept. Now there are a lot of reasons for this, such as a fear of rejection (you don't have to share your faith too many times before you realize most people aren't really interested) a spiritual apathy (I know where I am going, who cares about others), a feeling of being ill-equipped to witness (how does one witness to a Muslim or a gay person?) or just plain busyness with the ongoing demands of life. Whatever the reason for our struggle, (and I admit I have a way to go in this area as well), let me issue a challenge to you that if you take me up on it - you will find yourself improving in this spiritual ministry of personal evangelism. The Way of the Master has an excellent website (www.wayofthemaster.com) that is designed to encourage and equip Christians to witness for Jesus. My challenge to you is to set as a goal to spend a minimum of 20 minutes each week for the next 4 weeks on this web site. Read, listen, view what Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have to say. If you do so with an open mind and heart - you will become a more effective witness for Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"I am Truly Humble," Frank Said Proudly!


Humility. It is something that we all need yet few possess. Consider the following quote:

"Humility is a paradox. The moment you think you've finally found it, you've lost it. There has yet to be written a book entitled, Humility and How I Achieved It. And yet, God expects (and rewards) an attitude of servant-like humility in His followers." (Unknown)

How about YOU? Do you consider yourself humble? Or almost humble? Most of us think we are more humble than we are. And we think so proudly! Let's forget about being great and get on with serving others - for Jesus' sake!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Worry!


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called by many the "Prince of Preachers" preached to as many 10,000,000 people in his lifetime. From 1854 until his death in 1892, Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London. Today, more published works by Spurgeon exist than any other Christian writer. Among the many things he wrote, consider the following brief quote:

"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."

Wow! Well said by Spurgeon and very true to my experience. I have yet to change anything by worrying about it! But I have found myself paralyzed with dread and fear when anxiety grabs hold of my heart. Jesus tells us ... no Jesus commands us ... to stop worrying (just check it out in Matthew 6:25-34 where three times he says "do not worry!"). So the next time you feel yourself worrying ... pick up your Bible and read Matthew 6:25-34. Put off the anxiety you feel rising up within and replace it with faith in God and HIS promises!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Octoraro Orphie and Punxsutawney Phil Agree: Button Up for 6 More Weeks of Winter!

Monday was Groundhog Day. And the two most famous groundhogs in Pennsylvania both saw their shadows - indicating 6 more weeks of winter (of course, one look at the calendar will basically tell you the same thing!).

Yesterday morning, I was reminded in a rather surprising way that these two critters were right with their prediction! Around 5:30 AM, I got a phone call from someone canceling a breakfast meeting that I had set up with him for 6:00. "It will take me too long to dig out of my driveway" he explained. Perplexed, I walked over to a window and looked out. Sure enough there was between 3 and 4 inches of snow that had fallen overnight covering my front lawn, driveway and the street in front of my house. "Where did this come from?" I asked myself. The weather guys had said we might see a few flurries overnight! So I proceeded to go out and clear my driveway of the snow flurries that had fallen! Upon returning to the house, my wife informed me that some parts of the county had received up to a foot of snow (while other parts saw nothing!). Schools in our immediate vicinity delayed their start time for 2 hours ... and some schools in the harder hit areas of the county closed down for the entire day. A really strange snow storm. Eric Horst, a long term meteorologist at Millersville University said, "I've never seen anything like this. It's truly truly remarkable."

Horst might have been mistaken about the forecast for Tuesday night - but he was correct about his assessment of what happened. It was indeed remarkable. But when I think of something "TRULY, TRULY REMARKABLE," I think of what Jesus Christ did for me (and countless others). He was willing to take my place on the cross, facing death for me and in doing so pay the penalty for my sin and rebellion against the God who made me. This was a penalty that I in no way could have ever paid. It was either Christ pay it - or I would be condemned forever in a horrible place the Bible calls "hell." Forever separated from God and His goodness. Now that, my friend is TRULY, TRULY REMARKABLE!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unusable? Never!

Within minutes of winning the Super Bowl this past Sunday, the victorious Steelers were sporting caps that heralded their Super Bowl Championship. Obviously these were pre-printed and were all set to be distributed at the game's conclusion. But what if the Cardinals had won? Just as there was a supply of Steeler Super Bowl attire on the Steeler sidelines ... there was a similar supply on the Cardinal sidelines that would proclaim the Cardinal's Super Bowl championship. But since that never happened, the caps were never distributed. So did you ever wonder what happens to all those caps (and the shirts and other attire that was waiting to be shipped to a number of retail outlets across the country)? And of course, throw in the same scenario for both the AFC and NFC championships -- and you have a lot of attire that can't be sold. So what happens to all of this?

I wondered ... so I got online to find out. Here is what I discovered: World Vision, a Christian relief organization, will collect the losers' items and redirect them to impoverished families. This year, the losing Cardinal Super Bowl attire will be distributed in remote areas of Central America. World Vision will also be handing out Baltimore Ravens AFC Championship attire and Philadelphia Eagles NFC Championship attire as well - most likely in Africa. World Vision has been collecting and distributing unusable and unsalable NFL and Major League Baseball attire since 1992. The retailers and manufacturers write off the apparel as a donation.

I am grateful to God that he never "manufactures" anyone who is unusable. All of us are unique creations of God. He wires and shapes each of us in a specific way. And He does so in order that we are who we need to be to accomplish what HE wants us to accomplish. The Apostle Paul refers to this when he writes, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). SO - are YOU using your God-given shape to do HIS work?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's A WIN - a SUPER Win!

Well ... it's now official. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now, as the USA Today put it, "The Lords of the Rings" (as in Super Bowl rings). As a result of their victory in Sunday's Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers have won 6 Super Bowl rings - more than any other NFL team. As a Steeler fan, that brings a smile to my face! Because of this, there's been a lot of talk that the Steelers have become America's team (replacing the Dallas Cowboys in that role). Frankly, I do not care if the Steelers are America's team or not - they are, however, MY team! So my congratulations to the Steeler's organization and the Steeler nation.

As I think of all these pro athletes go through to get to this level of play - I am amazed! Would I love to catch a game winning TD catch in the Super Bowl before millions of people? You know it! But would I be willing to pay the price these guys pay to even be in the position to do so? Absolutely not! The pain, the sweat, the effort these guys put forth week after week is herculean! Yet they do it! Why? To win a ring! We who are followers of Christ are also engaged in a struggle that is very similar to an athletic competition. The Apostle Paul loved to use the metaphor of an athletic competition to describe the Christian life. Read what he writes to the church at Corinth:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:225-27)

My question for all of us is this: What kind of effort are we putting forth as we strive to run the race God sets before us (see Hebrews 12:1-2)??? Pro athletes do it for a "crown" (or ring) that will not last. We, however, are running for a crown that will last FOREVER!!! Please take some time to stop long enough to evaluate how you are doing in running the race. If you want a tool to help you do this, check out the home page of Grace's web site (www.gracewv.org) and download "Evaluating Your Relationship with God: 50 Diagnostic Questions".

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 26, 2009

That's It!


I will soon be heading back to Lancaster. My two days away with God (DAWGs) proved to be refreshing and renewing. I spent much time in pondering, planning, praying, and reading (Scripture and a few other books I am currently reading through). In one of these other books (Christless Christianity) I was struck by one of the author's insights. It struck me because for quite some time I have sensed a significant shortcoming among American Christians (and it may be so for Christians elsewhere in the world, but my observations are, for the most part, of American Christians). Michael Horton's comments were one of those "ahah!" moments for me. This is what he writes:

"In American religion . . . there is almost no sense of God's difference from us - in other words, his majesty, his sovereignty, self-existence, and holiness. God is my buddy, my inmost experience, or the power source for my living my best life now."

I stopped after reading those words ... "Yes, that's it! That is the problem I have been observing all this time!" You see, the Bible is clear that God is both immanent and transcendent. When we say that God is immanent, we are saying that God is "with us" or always near by. The word itself comes from two Latin words meaning "remaining" and "in." Now when we refer to God being transcendent, we are saying the opposite. The word carries the meaning of being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge. When we say that God is transcendent, we are saying that He is above and beyond the universe as we know it. So putting these two concepts together relative to God (which is quite difficult for us finite (i.e. "limited") creatures to do), they tell us that God is both fully present and engaged in this created realm in which we live AND that he is totally distinct from it (as Isaiah 55:9 tells us, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.")

Now most American Christians "get" this idea of God's immanence. After all it is fed to believers almost none stop through the lyrics of popular worship songs, the best-selling books of authors like Joel Osteen, and via thousands and thousands of pulpits in churches across America. Now I am all for living in light of the truth of God's immanence. But, unfortunately, most American Christians have lost a handle (if they ever had a grip on it in the first place!) on this equally important TRUTH of God's transcendence. As a result, our Christian journey of faith suffers - and suffers greatly.

I invite you today to pull out your Bible and read Isaiah chapter 40. This is one of the great passages of Scripture that focuses on the transcendence of our GREAT, ALMIGHTY and INFINITE GOD! What a God we our privileged to call Father!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Take Time to SLOOOOWWW Down

One winter when I was in high school, we experienced a substantial snow storm. A couple of days later, we had an ice storm. This one-two punch of winter weather, left the hills around my small town knee-deep in snow, topped with a thick glaze of ice. So what did my friends and I decide to do? Go tobogganing! Why not? So with toboggans in hand, we struggled up (try walking up hill on ice and you will know what I mean by that word "struggle!") our hill of choice. Upon reaching the top, we quickly boarded our toboggans (four to each toboggan) and off we went (or better said, "off we FLEW!"). I do not know what speeds we reached that night (and yes, we did it at night!), all I know was we were MOVING FAST! And the sound of our toboggans zipping across the ice-glazed snow could be heard from quite a distance away!

When I think back on that experience - I can't believe how courageous (or should I better say, FOOLISH) I was. Wearing no protection, with one wrong move on the toboggan - several of us could have been seriously hurt. But, then again - it sure was FUN!

Living in today's world here in 21st century America, reminds me of the toboggan riding we did that night some 35 years ago. Life moves FAST! Everyday comes and goes in a blaze of speed. This is why it is so important that we take the time to intentionally SLOW DOWN! How can we do so? Let me suggest you learn to practice the spiritual discipline of SILENCE AND SOLITUDE (for an insightful article by Don Whitney on this discipline, check out this link: http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/silence.html).

Recently, my life as been moving at warp speed, so I have decided to "head for the hills" for a couple of what our church staff refers to as DAWGS (Days Away With God). In doing so, I will be practicing this discipline of Silence and Solitude. Therefore, I won't be posting any thoughts for the next few days. It's time for me to SLOOOOWWWW Down!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Insight from C.S. Lewis


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

To which group of people do YOU belong?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Relevance without the Gospel?

Recently I have been reading through Michael Horton's book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. In chapter one, he writes the following:

"Where the gospel is not taken for granted, it is often a means to an end, like personal or social transformation, love and service to our neighbors, and other things that in themselves are marvelous effects of the gospel. However, the Good News concerning Christ is not a stepping-stone to something greater and more relevant. Whether we realize it or not, there is nothing in the universe more relevant to us as guilty image-bearers of God than the news that he has found away to be 'just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:26)."

Horton hits that proverbial nail on the head. Far too many churches have been so busy trying to be relevant to an increasingly godless culture, that they are losing their grip on the ONE THING that makes a church relevant! I pray that here at Grace we will always hold firmly to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is indeed "the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe" (Romans 1:16).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Too Casual?

Last evening I was reminded of just how casual our society has become. Sharon had ordered a DVD set for her mother titled, Reminisce Through the Decades - The 1940s. I made a comment to my wife at one point when a group of guys were playing tag football in their back yard ... and each of the young men was wearing a tie! But back in those days, it was common for men to wear ties almost around the clock (just watch a I Love Lucy episode and take a look at how Ricky dresses as he is just "chillin" around the house!). My how things have changed. Oh there are still times when men and women get "dressed up" - weddings and funerals for example. And there are still some professionals who also routinely wear their suits - like bankers, attorneys and professional athletes. But for the most part, men so rarely wear ties that many don't even know how to tie one! Business attire as been replaced by "business casual" attire for most offices. We have become a casual society.

I often wonder how this "casualness" of our society in general has impacted our view and approach to God. Have we become too casual in our relationship with Him? I am currently reading through the book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer by John MacArthur. In writing about the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be Your Name," MacArthur quotes a Welsh pastor by the name of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who pastored Westminster Chapel in London from 1939-1968. Listen to what this great Bible teacher of yesteryear wrote about the use of God's name:

"What unworthy ideas and notions this world has of God! If you test your ideas of God by the teaching of the Scriptures you will see at a glance what I mean. We lack even a due sense of the greatness and the might and the majesty of God. Listen to men arguing about God, and notice how glibly they use the term . . . It is indeed almost alarming to observe the way in which we all tend to use the name of God. We obviously do not realize that we are talking about the ever blessed, eternal, and absolute, almighty God. There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off our feet whenever we use the name."

MacArthur then continues with his own comments:

"When believers have a low view of God, everything focuses on meeting felt needs within the body of Christ. When the church adopts such a perspective, it often offers people nothing more than spiritual placebos. It centers on psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, and a myriad of other diversions to attempt to meet perceived and felt needs. It is essential, however, that the church and each individual believer in it understand that they exist to bring glory to God. When you know and glorify God, the needs of your life will be met. 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). But many believers don't revere God-their very actions prove their irreverence. Instead of trembling at God's Word, they twist His truths or supplant them with worldly philosophies."


My prayer is that we will all take a long hard look within and ask ourselves, "Do I truly FEAR God -- or have I grown too causal in my relationship with Him?"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, February 13, 2009

Think Ahead!


Authorities in Cape Haze, Florida claim they arrested a man after he had robbed a gas station. Nothing unusual about that. Police arrest people every day for robbery, and convenience stores/gas stations are often favorite targets. But what makes this case so strange is how they caught the thief. After the hold up (which the robber accomplished by threatening the cashier with a knife), the 23 year old took off in his car. However, he did not get very far as he ... are you ready for this? .. he RAN OUT OF GAS! Now ... there's a guy who failed to THINK AHEAD!

But that's true of many of us. We tend to be very MYOPIC (near-sighted) when it comes to life. We often don't think ahead. We are so into the present moment, we fail to give much thought about our future. As a result, we are often ill prepared for what comes down the highway of life.

In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that we THINK AHEAD! One way to do this is to be sure our financial house is in order. Do you have a will? Adequate life insurance? A budget for your financial spending and saving? Friends, we do not know what tomorrow holds. But we need to THINK AHEAD and prepare for WHATEVER and then leave the rest by faith in God's hands!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Contagious?


When I was a kid growing up, my mom always made sure I never left the house without being properly bundled up against the cold winter air. "The quickest way to catch a cold is to go without a coat" she would tell me. Well, my mom was almost always right. But in this case, she was wrong. Exposure to winter's chill might lead to frostbite, but it won't lead to catching a cold. Only exposure to the viruses that can cause the common cold will result in catching the illness. The most common of these viruses is known as the rhinovirus, but other viral causes include the parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus and adenovirus (are you impressed yet? Don't be. I just copied these from a list on some medical web site!). Now as we know, these viruses are very contagious. This is why colds are far more prevalent in winter months. It is during the winter that we have the most prolonged and close contact with others as we live much of life indoors. And so the best defense against catching a cold is to frequently wash your hands (and to stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing!).

Now as I thought of just how contagious these viruses are ... I got to wondering if my faith is just as contagious? Do people look at me and think, "Now there is an example of what living by faith looks like!" I must admit that probably not many people think that. But more important than what people think about my faith walk is what GOD thinks of my faith walk. Hmm. I need to spend some time thinking on that -- and I would encourage you to do the same. In fact, let's all ask God to make us increasingly into people who have a growing and vibrant faith that others "catch!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Know I Should Be Sharing My Faith. But . . .


Most Christians I know would agree with the following statement: "As a Christian, God expects me to share my faith and point lost people to Jesus." At the same time, most Christians I know fail to follow through in practice what they believe in precept. Now there are a lot of reasons for this, such as a fear of rejection (you don't have to share your faith too many times before you realize most people aren't really interested) a spiritual apathy (I know where I am going, who cares about others), a feeling of being ill-equipped to witness (how does one witness to a Muslim or a gay person?) or just plain busyness with the ongoing demands of life. Whatever the reason for our struggle, (and I admit I have a way to go in this area as well), let me issue a challenge to you that if you take me up on it - you will find yourself improving in this spiritual ministry of personal evangelism. The Way of the Master has an excellent website (www.wayofthemaster.com) that is designed to encourage and equip Christians to witness for Jesus. My challenge to you is to set as a goal to spend a minimum of 20 minutes each week for the next 4 weeks on this web site. Read, listen, view what Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have to say. If you do so with an open mind and heart - you will become a more effective witness for Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"I am Truly Humble," Frank Said Proudly!


Humility. It is something that we all need yet few possess. Consider the following quote:

"Humility is a paradox. The moment you think you've finally found it, you've lost it. There has yet to be written a book entitled, Humility and How I Achieved It. And yet, God expects (and rewards) an attitude of servant-like humility in His followers." (Unknown)

How about YOU? Do you consider yourself humble? Or almost humble? Most of us think we are more humble than we are. And we think so proudly! Let's forget about being great and get on with serving others - for Jesus' sake!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Worry!


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, called by many the "Prince of Preachers" preached to as many 10,000,000 people in his lifetime. From 1854 until his death in 1892, Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London. Today, more published works by Spurgeon exist than any other Christian writer. Among the many things he wrote, consider the following brief quote:

"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."

Wow! Well said by Spurgeon and very true to my experience. I have yet to change anything by worrying about it! But I have found myself paralyzed with dread and fear when anxiety grabs hold of my heart. Jesus tells us ... no Jesus commands us ... to stop worrying (just check it out in Matthew 6:25-34 where three times he says "do not worry!"). So the next time you feel yourself worrying ... pick up your Bible and read Matthew 6:25-34. Put off the anxiety you feel rising up within and replace it with faith in God and HIS promises!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Octoraro Orphie and Punxsutawney Phil Agree: Button Up for 6 More Weeks of Winter!

Monday was Groundhog Day. And the two most famous groundhogs in Pennsylvania both saw their shadows - indicating 6 more weeks of winter (of course, one look at the calendar will basically tell you the same thing!).

Yesterday morning, I was reminded in a rather surprising way that these two critters were right with their prediction! Around 5:30 AM, I got a phone call from someone canceling a breakfast meeting that I had set up with him for 6:00. "It will take me too long to dig out of my driveway" he explained. Perplexed, I walked over to a window and looked out. Sure enough there was between 3 and 4 inches of snow that had fallen overnight covering my front lawn, driveway and the street in front of my house. "Where did this come from?" I asked myself. The weather guys had said we might see a few flurries overnight! So I proceeded to go out and clear my driveway of the snow flurries that had fallen! Upon returning to the house, my wife informed me that some parts of the county had received up to a foot of snow (while other parts saw nothing!). Schools in our immediate vicinity delayed their start time for 2 hours ... and some schools in the harder hit areas of the county closed down for the entire day. A really strange snow storm. Eric Horst, a long term meteorologist at Millersville University said, "I've never seen anything like this. It's truly truly remarkable."

Horst might have been mistaken about the forecast for Tuesday night - but he was correct about his assessment of what happened. It was indeed remarkable. But when I think of something "TRULY, TRULY REMARKABLE," I think of what Jesus Christ did for me (and countless others). He was willing to take my place on the cross, facing death for me and in doing so pay the penalty for my sin and rebellion against the God who made me. This was a penalty that I in no way could have ever paid. It was either Christ pay it - or I would be condemned forever in a horrible place the Bible calls "hell." Forever separated from God and His goodness. Now that, my friend is TRULY, TRULY REMARKABLE!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unusable? Never!

Within minutes of winning the Super Bowl this past Sunday, the victorious Steelers were sporting caps that heralded their Super Bowl Championship. Obviously these were pre-printed and were all set to be distributed at the game's conclusion. But what if the Cardinals had won? Just as there was a supply of Steeler Super Bowl attire on the Steeler sidelines ... there was a similar supply on the Cardinal sidelines that would proclaim the Cardinal's Super Bowl championship. But since that never happened, the caps were never distributed. So did you ever wonder what happens to all those caps (and the shirts and other attire that was waiting to be shipped to a number of retail outlets across the country)? And of course, throw in the same scenario for both the AFC and NFC championships -- and you have a lot of attire that can't be sold. So what happens to all of this?

I wondered ... so I got online to find out. Here is what I discovered: World Vision, a Christian relief organization, will collect the losers' items and redirect them to impoverished families. This year, the losing Cardinal Super Bowl attire will be distributed in remote areas of Central America. World Vision will also be handing out Baltimore Ravens AFC Championship attire and Philadelphia Eagles NFC Championship attire as well - most likely in Africa. World Vision has been collecting and distributing unusable and unsalable NFL and Major League Baseball attire since 1992. The retailers and manufacturers write off the apparel as a donation.

I am grateful to God that he never "manufactures" anyone who is unusable. All of us are unique creations of God. He wires and shapes each of us in a specific way. And He does so in order that we are who we need to be to accomplish what HE wants us to accomplish. The Apostle Paul refers to this when he writes, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). SO - are YOU using your God-given shape to do HIS work?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's A WIN - a SUPER Win!

Well ... it's now official. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now, as the USA Today put it, "The Lords of the Rings" (as in Super Bowl rings). As a result of their victory in Sunday's Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers have won 6 Super Bowl rings - more than any other NFL team. As a Steeler fan, that brings a smile to my face! Because of this, there's been a lot of talk that the Steelers have become America's team (replacing the Dallas Cowboys in that role). Frankly, I do not care if the Steelers are America's team or not - they are, however, MY team! So my congratulations to the Steeler's organization and the Steeler nation.

As I think of all these pro athletes go through to get to this level of play - I am amazed! Would I love to catch a game winning TD catch in the Super Bowl before millions of people? You know it! But would I be willing to pay the price these guys pay to even be in the position to do so? Absolutely not! The pain, the sweat, the effort these guys put forth week after week is herculean! Yet they do it! Why? To win a ring! We who are followers of Christ are also engaged in a struggle that is very similar to an athletic competition. The Apostle Paul loved to use the metaphor of an athletic competition to describe the Christian life. Read what he writes to the church at Corinth:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:225-27)

My question for all of us is this: What kind of effort are we putting forth as we strive to run the race God sets before us (see Hebrews 12:1-2)??? Pro athletes do it for a "crown" (or ring) that will not last. We, however, are running for a crown that will last FOREVER!!! Please take some time to stop long enough to evaluate how you are doing in running the race. If you want a tool to help you do this, check out the home page of Grace's web site (www.gracewv.org) and download "Evaluating Your Relationship with God: 50 Diagnostic Questions".

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.