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Showing posts from March, 2009

To Complain or To Give Thanks - That is the Question!

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Yesterday, my wife and I stopped by the dealership were I had bought my PT Cruiser seven years ago. They had just completed the required PA state inspection. It was time to bring the Cruiser home. After paying the bill, I walked out to the car, climbed in, and started it up. The engine coughed and sputtered a few times and then quit. It refused to start up again! So I calmly walked back into the service department to inform them of my dilemma. The mechanic who had done the work was summoned. After a quick look under the hood, he announced that he would have to check it out in the morning as he had no idea as to the cause of the problem. So I climbed back into our Nissan and Sharon and I returned home.

Now I could have grumbled and complained about this situation. After all, it would mean another day with only one car, another trip to the dealership when the Cruiser was finally road worthy and another bill to pay! But I made a choice to look on the "bright side." The Cruiser c…

Beware of Thinking too Highly of Yourself!

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This past Friday morning, a man was robbed at gunpoint in a restroom at Harrisburg hotel and conference center. With a gun in his face, the victim surrendered his wallet and cell phone to the thief, who then fled out of the building and hailed a cab. Unfortunately for the criminal the man he robbed was a retired police chief and the conference he was attending was for narcotics officers - of which approximately 300 were in attendance. So to say the robber never had a chance to get away just might be an understatement!!! Here is a case where the perpetrator did not pick his victim with much if any forethought. Yet when asked by a reporter for a comment, the suspect replied, "I'm smooth." Apparently he got mixed up with his "s" words. I think "stupid" might have been a more appropriate choice!

But this guy suffers from something we all struggle with ... and that is the tendency to think too highly of ourselves. That's why Paul in Romans 12:3 tells …

Living Up to Expectations!

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If you read my posting of yesterday, you would know that Sharon and I took in the performance of Riverdance at the Hershey Theater last night. We went with high expectations and we were not disappointed. I can't recall ever seeing foot work like I observed last night. The dancers seemed to glide across the stage as they tapped and stomped, moving as one with each other and the music. And the musicians (all five of them) were among the most talented muscians I have heard perform live! Add in some acappella choral arrangements - that were both soothing and haunting at the same time, and it made for quite the enchanting evening. If you ever have the chance to see this performance - GO!

But what if the performance of the dancers, musicians and vocalists had not lived up to our expectations? What if the vocalists had been off key, the dancers out of sinc and the instrumentalists had missed notes? If that had been the case, we would have walked away disappointed. And the greater the ga…

A Much Anticipated Gift!

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Every Christmas, I try to come up with some sort of meaningful gift for my wife. One I know that she will appreciate. One that shows her just how much she means to me. This past Christmas, I think I hit a home run! About a month before Christmas, as I was still debating with myself (I can't figure out if that is a good or bad thing - to debate with yourself. On the one hand you always win- a good thing - but on the other hand you always lose - a bad thing!) ... but as I was saying I was debating with myself as to what to give my wife. It was around that time that I took my son to a Hershey Bears hockey game. During one of the intermissions, a commercial aired on the big screen which hung over the rink. It was all about the Irish River Dance which was coming in March to the Hershey Theater. As soon as I saw it, my debate with myself was over! My wife has for years mentioned her desire to see this production. And since this tour is being billed as the River Dance's farewell tour…

Blessed to Do What?

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I want to follow up yesterday's posting with another thought concerning God's blessings. Yesterday I encouraged all of us to regularly pause to thank God for his blessings. It is only due to His grace that we enjoy anything at all!

Today, I want to remind you of another truth that I was reminded of this past Sunday by our missionary, Jim Momeyer. Jim and his wife Deb serve with Grace Brethren International Missions in the African country of Cameroun. In his sermon, he shared this principle: We have been "BLESSED TO BLESS FOR HIS PRAISE!" He drew this principle from the first three verses of Psalm 67 which reads as follows:

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, 2that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you."

Jim pointed out to us that what this portion of Scripture teaches is that God doesn't generously bless us so that we can e…

It's Easy to Forget to Say, "Thanks, God!"

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Joe was a factory worker in suburban Cleveland. He started at the plant right out of high school. He was in his 22nd year on the job, married with three kids. Recently, a number of his co-workers had been laid off. But he thought he was safe given his years of seniority. But one day, he found out other-wise. As he drove home from work that last day at the plant, he wondered how he would ever find another job - at least one that paid him as well as his factory job had done over the years. After all, he had no education beyond high school and given the poor job market, he knew he was in for a rough time.

The very next morning, he began his new job - that of finding a job! He registered at a local "career-link" job center. There he honed his resume and learned a strategy to find employment. With a renewed feeling of hope, he began in earnest looking for his next job. But days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months with no results. Joe's unemployment benefits were so…

A Case of Mistaken Idenitification

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The headline in this morning's paper read, "Police had wrong guy." Curious, I read the article. Seems like the wrong guy, Clark Lilley, was arrested last month for robbing a Manor Township convenience store. Turns out, he never did it! Yet for the past several weeks, he has languished in Lancaster County prison, day after day proclaiming his innocence. Authorities turned a deaf ear to his protests (after all, most inmates do the same!) until, a man now identified as the true culprit was arrested after robbing another convenience store. And since Lilley was incarcerated at the time, it was clear he was innocent as he claimed! So last night, Lilley slept in his own bed for the first time in FIVE weeks! Now how did it come about that Lilley was arrested in the first place? Seems that a worker at the convenience store picked him out of a photo line up and identified him as the robber. Because of that mistaken identification, Lilley's life was turned upside down! At the …

Off to République Centrafricaine!

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Details continue to firm up for the open door of ministry that I blogged about last week. God willing, we are scheduled to leave for central Africa on Tuesday, August 25. I said "we" because I now have a teammate confirmed for the trip. Ryan Aument, my son-in-law will be traveling with me and doing some of the training. Ryan leads and teaches in our growing young adult ministry here at Grace. He also is serving in his first term as the Clerk of Courts of Lancaster County (to read his bio, you can go to http://www.co.lancaster.pa.us/lanco/cwp/view.asp?a=502&q=608324&lancoNav=|&lancoNav_GID=987). One of the groups we will be training in the CAR will be government officials and workers. Given Ryan's vocation, he will have an immediate connection with this group (as I will with the pastors, educators and police chaplains that we will be working with). This is again another confirmation that God indeed has placed this open door of opportunity before us!

As more det…

Another Birthday in the Rear View Mirror!

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Last Thursday I turned 53. Now some might think that is pretty old (I am thinking of some teens and twenty-somethings that I know). Others would still consider me to be on the younger side (like many of my older senior adult friends). But as I sit here pondering my age ... at the end of the day it does not matter how old or young we might happen to be. What matters is that we are living each day (whether we are 19, 33, 62, 87 or FIFTY-THREE) by God's grace and for HIS glory!

So how about you? Do you remind yourself each day of God's grace and where you would be right now WITHOUT it? And do you place God's glory at the forefront of your thinking, knowing that the choices you make today (and tomorrow and the next day and the next . . . ) should be choices that put Him on display in your life? Take a moment right now to stop and read the following two verses .... then ask God to help you live them out in your day-to-day routine!

Galatians 6:14"May I never boast except in…

An Open Door (part 5)

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Yesterday I mentioned that God "spoke" to me about going to Africa to assist Augustin. It was through a verse in the passage I was studying in preparation for this past Sunday's sermon. The passage was Revelation 3:7-13. These verses make up Jesus' letter to the church in Philadelphia (the ancient city by that name which was located in the Roman Province of Asia). In that letter, Jesus says to the church, "See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut" (Revelation 3:8). As I studied that verse, I came to the conclusion that this open door could have two possible interpretations (of which I believe both are in view here). This open door refers to the open door of salvation that God places before humanity. It is a door that will always be open to anyone who will come and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I also believe that this open door refers to the open door of opportunity. The city of Philadelphia was located at the junction of ma…

An Open Door (part 4)

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If you have been following my blog this week, I have been discussing an open door of ministry that God appears to be laying before me. Yesterday, I mentioned the brief email that Dave Guiles of GBIM planned to send to Augustin after our initial conversation at Jane's Cafe. A mere two days after that meeting, Dave sent Augustin this email, in which he mentioned me (and my background) and my possible interest in assisting Augustin in his ministry. The very next day I received an email from Augustin. He expressed his need for my help whenever I could come. He told me to let him know as to when I was "convicted" to come (did he mean to say "convinced?"). I remember thinking ... "Wait a minute, Lord, I said I would pray about it!" At that point, I began praying with more fervency ... seeking His guidance and wisdom.

Across the course of the last two weeks of February and into the first week of March, I prayed and continued communicating with Agustin. Fina…

An Open Door (part 3)

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Back to that day in Jane's Cafe when Dave Guiles, Executive Director of Grace Brethren International Missions (GBIM) asked me to consider traveling to Africa to partner with Augustin Hibale's ministry. Now why did Dave ask me to consider this ministry opportunity? Given that Augustin's ministry to those in authority includes (among others) pastors, educators and police, Dave thought my background of pastoring (for almost 30 years now), teaching (I am in my 15th year as an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College), and serving as a police chaplain (now in my 9th year) made me a good fit to help Augustin in his ministry. In addition, my earned doctorate would, as Dave put it, open many doors to me in Africa. As I mentioned in my first posting on this topic, when Dave first threw this my way, I did not jump up and down! I was not asking him how soon he thought I could go. But in contrast to my reaction in 1993 to the opportunity to go to Russia with the CoMission (which g…

An Open Door (part 2)

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The place was Jane's Cafe. The date, February 11th. As Dave Guiles and I chatted over coffee, he mentioned to me the name of Augustin Hibale. The name was not unfamiliar to me. In fact, we hosted Augustine and his wife in our church in September of 2007. So I was somewhat "in the know" concerning this man and his ministry. Dave suggested that I might want to pray about traveling to Africa to assist Augustine in his ministry. Now, why would Dave ask me? Before I answer that question, let me give you a bit of background on Augustin.

Augustin was born and raised in the Central African Republic. He trusted Christ, I believe at a young age, and went on to teach in the Bible Institute and Seminary. Eventually he enrolled at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake and earned his Doctor of Ministry degree. At some point (and I am unsure of the timeline here) he left his teaching post and established the International Center for the Development of Ethical Leadership. He did thi…

An Open Door (part 1)

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Yesterday in my Sunday morning sermon (yes, I still call my Sunday morning "talks" sermons!), I shared that my blog postings this week would feature the story of an open door for ministry that Jesus Christ is placing before me. Today is the first installment of this story.

It all actually began back in 1993. That is the year I took my first of three mission oriented trips to the former Soviet Union. I was a member of a 70 person North American team that traveled to two cities in Russia as part of a mission initiative known at the CoMission. I took two more CoMission trips, one in 1994 and the next in 1995. Both were to Ukraine. In 1996 I began my Doctor of Ministry program at Grace Theological Seminary. Involvement in that program kept me home for quite a few years. Finally, in 2006 I helped to lead a team from Grace to India. The impact of that trip (as well as the three earlier CoMission trips) on my own personal walk and the lives of others was such that I made a commitmen…

True Beauty - It's More than Skin Deep!

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This upcoming week is a big birthday week. I will be turning 53 on Thursday. My oldest daughter turns 30 on Tuesday. And you will never guess who turns 50 on Monday! Ready for this? Barbie hits the half century mark on Monday! Actually her full name is not "Barbie Doll" but "Barbara Millicent Roberts." That's a fact ... no joking! Other little known facts about this well known American icon?

- Mattel estimates that three Barbies are sold every second.
- In the past three months, 217,736 Barbies have been sold on eBay.
- The most expensive Barbie sold for $7,999,999. It was a No. 1 Ponytail Barbie.
- Barbie met Ken in 1961 (wow - Barbie met Ken when she was just 3 years old - talk about a childhood romance!).
- Early research suggested that Barbie would never sell. Let's just say it was due to her bodily proportions.
- If Barbie were real, she would probably be suffering today from back pain (due to all the high heels), would be at risk for osteoporosis, would …

Got Prayer?

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I ran across the following quote of Martin Luther, the "father" of the Reformation. Concerning prayer he said,

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness."

I have often said to people, that God is far more willing to hear our prayers (and respond to them) then we are to pray them! How about you? Have you spent anytime yet today, praying to the Almighty God of the Universe who is also the Daddy of all who choose to follow Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

To Jail!

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When I was a mere lad of six, my mom went away for a couple of days. When she returned home, she did not come alone. She brought with her a little baby boy. That began my relationship with my little brother. For the most part, we had a good relationship. Although at times it was a pain to have him tagging along with my twin brother and me (especially when we hit our teenage years!), we still had a lot of fun with him. One activity we did a lot of was playing board games. His favorite game was Monopoly. We played it so much (and there were many times my mother informed me that I had to play with my brother - I had no choice in the matter) that I got sick and tired of the game. Knowing that Mom would enforce her "Play with your brother" policy, my twin brother and I threw the game out. When the game came up missing, my mom went out and bought a new one! To this day I refuse to play Monopoly. I have been scarred for life!

I played the game so much ... I can still read portions o…

Net Impact 2!

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OK. Go ahead. Give it to me. So meteorological spring began on Sunday? Well, someone forgot to tell the climate about it!

Granted we dodged a mess on Sunday with just a few flakes of snow littering the landscape. But Monday's storm was a far different story. I am not sure how much snow fell in my driveway, but it was enough for me to get my snow blower out. And it was enough to cancel school yesterday for many area schools and then delay or cancel them again today. All this to say ... the storm on Sunday was a "No Net Impact" storm ... yesterday's storm was a "Significant Net Impact" storm.

My prayer is that all of us will experience a "SIGNIFICANT NET IMPACT" when it comes to the Word of God impacting our lives. Just as Monday's snow fall (and high winds) caused a re-ordering of our day, may the Scripture as we read it, study it, hear it, memorize it - cause us to re-order our lives EACH AND EVERY DAY! But for this to happen, you MUST be inter…

Net Impact!

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This morning I was awakened about 4:30 to the sound of the township's truck spreading salt in our cul de sac. "Oh great!" I mumbled to myself, "Will we have to cancel services today?" So I stumbled over to the window and looked out toward the street. Seeing very little snow on the lawn and nothing on the street, brought a smile to my sleepy face. Content that this morning's schedule could proceed as scheduled, I crawled back into bed to grab another hour of dreams.

Now as I type these words, a few flakes of snow are drifting lazily down from the clouds. In fact, for the past two hours, that's what's been happening. Snow lovers might not be liking it - but I sure am! This is one snow "storm" that is having NO NET IMPACT! In my opinion, that is the best kind of snow storm for a Sunday morning!

No impact! That's OK if we are talking snow storms - but it is not OK if we are talking about our lives. Yet far too many Christians are living …