PJ

PJ

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off to Columbus...


I will be leaving first thing tomorrow morning (sometime shortly after 5:00) to drive to Columbus, Ohio for two intensive days of Grace College and Seminary board meetings. So I don't think I will be posting to my blog any more this week. But before I "sign off" - here is a quote from the pen of Charles Spurgeon, a London pastor in the 1800's who is known as "the Prince of Preachers" (it is estimated that he preached live to over 10 million people during his ministry!):

"Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God." (Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Take a moment and drink deeply of the grace of our God! Then worship Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Airline that Is Going to the Dogs!


Move over USAirways and Southwest. There's a new airline in town. And a very specialized airline at that. Earlier this month, Pet Airways departed from Farmingdale, NY on its inaugural flight, and as you can guess by the name, it caters to pets. It will eventually fly between five major U.S. cities: New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles with an average fare costing about $250. Now why an airline for our four legged friends? Here is an excerpt from a recent AP story that answers the question quite well:

"For owners, the big difference is service. Dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin of a Suburban Air Freight plane, retooled and lined with carriers in place of seats. Pets (about 50 on each flight) will be escorted to the plane by attendants who will check on the animals every 15 minutes during flight. Pets are given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks. And at each of the five airports it serves, the company has created a Pet Lounge for future fliers to wait and sniff before flights."

Take a moment and watch Pet Airways first commercial:




I don't know about you ... but I just had to laugh when I read (and watched) this (and please, for all you dog and cat lovers out there, I have NOTHING against dogs and cats!). And what amazes me is that in spite of launching its services in the midst of a major recession, Pet Airways' first two months of flights are allegedly booked solid!

This shows us that people will spend money on what they really care about (in this case their pets). Hmm. Perhaps this is why our checkbook is a good place to look to see what we truly value in life. If you have not done so lately, take some time to evaluate how you are spending your money. Then ask yourself, "What is this saying about me?" My guess is that far too many of us are spending far too little on the things that really matter to God!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beware of Information Overload!

Please take a moment and watch this humorous video about a common problem in today's high tech, instant info society in which we live.



I wonder -- how much of the information that we know do we really NEED to know? And does all this info crammed into our brains leave us less room for thoughts of God and His Word? Hmmm. Good questions to think about -- that is, if there's any room left in your head for more thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Word about "Sabbath-Keeping"


I have been plodding through a book that I am finding myself enjoying the more I read of it. The book is titled, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. It is written by a Canadian pastor by the name of Mark Buchannan. Below is a quote I read last week that really got me thinking:


"Sabbath-keeping is more than time management. It is a fresh orientation to time, where we think with holy imagination about how the arc of our moments and the hours of our days intersects with eternity. 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12). Teach us that this is not just another day of the week, but the day that the Lord has made . . . (we need to learn to) work out where time and eternity meet. Pay attention to how God is afoot in the mystery of each moment, in its mad rush or maddening plod. He is present in all that. But too often we are so time-obsessed we take no time to really notice."

Hmm. There are some good insights there. Now if I can only find the time to reflect on them!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beware of Those Time Wasters!


If you are anything like me ... I am sure you feel "the time crunch." You know, the ever present squeeze you feel because you have too much to do and too little time to do it in! I feel this a lot. But I wonder - how much of it is of my own making? By this I mean, how much time do I waste in rather meaningless, trivial pursuits? Recently a sheet containing a list of typical time wasters was distributed at one of our staff meetings. Here is some of the things that were part of the list ... as you read it, ask yourself if you are "guilty" of any:

1. Sleeping too much.
2. Watching too much TV.
3. Playing video/computer/xbox/Wii games.
4. Talking too long with people.
5. Emails.
6. Surfing the Internet (and I would include such sites as Facebook and My Space).
7. Day dreaming.

My friends, time is a precious commodity. God gives us all the same amount: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds each day. And once our day, hour, minute or second is past ... it is gone forever. God's Word admonishes us to "look carefully then how (we) walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-15, ESV).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back to See the Dentist!


Yesterday, in addition to heading back to the office I had to head back to see my dentist. Two weeks ago, I went for a LONNGGG overdue checkup. During that exam I was told I had one cavity and it was a deep one. The dentist then told me that based on the xrays, he guessed there was an 80% chance I would need a root canal. So with all of that running around in my mind ... after several hours of work put in at the office, I took off for the dentist's.

Now I am not a fan of the dentist. In fact, I used to go to a dentist who had a sign on his window that read, "We cater to cowards." I always thought that was appropriate every time I walked through the doors. "They knew I was coming!" So I was surprised at how calm I felt yesterday, as I drove to my appointment. I was doing just fine until I walked into the dental office. The receptionist was on the phone and was saying these words as I was walking up to the counter to sign in, "We have a patient in a chair who is experiencing what seems to be heart related issues. We need you to send an ambulance immediately!" Now at that point, I was beginning to rethink my appointment. Is this something that I REALLY need to do???

I am glad to report that the ambulance came and transported the man to the hospital (at which time he seemed to be doing much better) AND I survived my appointment (the dentist was able to just fill the cavity as the nerve was not exposed - although I must keep an "eye tooth" on it just in case it becomes clear that more work will be required!). SOOO ... my wallet and my calendar were both spared a major hit - not to mention my ego (I am a wimp with pain)!

This situation had a good result. But often in this life (in which we live in a world that is "temporarily out of order"), this is not the case. This is why we must do our part to strengthen our faith in God (by getting to know Him and His promises as revealed in His Word) while also asking him to grow our faith - for it is faith in God that will help us to overcome this world!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in Town with Some Random Thoughts


Our English word, vacation, comes from the Latin root, vacare meaning “to be empty.” The idea is that while you are on vacation ... your office or place at work is EMPTY! Well I just got back to my empty office to the work that has accumulated in my absence. Before I begin to tackle the pile of emails and emails, meetings and visits that awaits my attention, I want to share some random thoughts on my vacation.

1. Vacations are a great time to work on family relationships. This past week, my wife and I spent some very special time with our adult kids and their spouses, along with our two grandchildren. It was a great time for us to reconnect. It was also wonderful to get to know our grand baby and our step grandson better. My wife commented to me just yesterday how much her love grew for these two children as a result of our time together. Spending quality time together with others will tend to do this!

2. Vacations are also a great time to work on our "God" relationship. With the press of my schedule removed, it was easy for me to see just how much I allow my "busyness" to crowd out time spent with God. So I return to my schedule, determined to make my relationship with God (and my alone time with Him) a greater priority than it has been.

3. I stink at the game "Sorry!" I played my grandson 6 or 7 times and he beat me EVERY SINGLE TIME! I told him on Saturday that I wanted a rematch ... and he assured me that he would beat me again! And you know, he probably will (and he won't be a bit SORRY about doing so)!

4. Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz had it right when she said, "There's no place like home!" Even though Sharon and I felt sadness in our hearts as we pulled out of Ocean City (we were the last to leave), we both felt good about pulling into our driveway. Yes, vacations away are great - but our home is still our favorite place to be (And to think that our eternal home will be far better -- wow! Looking forward to my arrival there - in God's perfect timing, of course!)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Friend Like No Other!

As I wrap up my vacation (and it has been a delightful one with a lot of time spent with my immediate family) - I wanted to post a song that I ran across. The song titled, My Song Is Love Unknown, is a powerful musical description of the gospel. It reminded me that in this day of Facebook in which we "friend and befriend" one another (sometimes, I think, simply to see how many "friends" we can add to our list!) - Jesus Christ is a friend like no other! Take a few minutes and enjoy the song ... and worship Jesus Christ!




Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Vacation! Yea!!!


I am currently on vacation, getting some needed R&R and spending time with the family. Be back to posting blogs the week of July 2oth.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Most Important Thing about You Is???


Did you ever stop to think about what the most important thing about you is? Is it how much money you make? How tall you are? How much hair you have (or don't have) on the top of your head? Where you went to school? What you have accomplished to date in your life?

Here is what A.W. Tozer had to say in answer to this question:

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like . . . Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, 'What comes into your mind when you think about God?' we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy).

Tozer is right on target with those comment! So, what are YOUR thoughts of God? The more rightly you think about God and the more closely your thoughts about God match up with the reality of who God truly is - the more your life will be a reflection of Him.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lessons from at Dentist's Chair


Yesterday I reluctantly drove myself to see the dentist. I was going not because of a toothache or any problems that I was aware of ... I was simply going because my 6 month checkup was ... uhm ... let's say several months over due! So I went through the routine of xrays and cleaning. Then the dentist came in and the conversation went something like this (my real thoughts are included in parenthesis):

Dentist - "Hello, John I see it's been quite some time since you have been here. What brought you In?"

Me - "Well, for one I knew I was long overdue for a checkup (Yep Doc, I hate people fooling with my teeth!) .... and I am heading to Africa at the end of August and so I thought I should get my teeth checked (Sure don't want to see the inside of a dentist's office in Africa!).

Dentist - "There's good news and bad news. The good news is you have only one cavity. The bad news is that it is a lulu. The actual decay in the molar is very close to the pulp. Once we remove the current filling (Remove filling? That sounds like pain to me!), we will be able to see if a root canal is needed (Ouch! More pain, more time, more money!) But I am guessing that there is an 80% probability that you will need a root canal" (God, make the 20% a reality ... PLEASE!).

Me - "OK, Dr. You have to do what you have to do!" (Why me? Why couldn't this visit have been easy in and easy out ... see you back here in 6 months!)

Dentist - "Looking at the xrays from your last visit, the decay wasn't here. If you had come in earlier, we might have been able to fix this before it became a problem (Yeah, I should have been back here sooner, I know! Just pour on the guilt!). We will set you up for an appointment soon and get this started so you can be all done before you go to Africa.

So on July 20th at 10 AM I go back. Yea!

Now did I learn anything from this visit? Yep! For starters I learned that procrastination can lead to serious problems. If I had not procrastinated seeing my dentist for so long, I probably would not be looking down the barrel of a possible root canal. In addition, I learned that Galatians 6:7 is a reality. This verse reads, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." The bad news I got was due to my actions (or in this case inaction) and I was simply reaping what I had sown. SOOO .... all this to say - beware of procrastination AND always remember that the choices you make today will lead to consequence tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Trashy Case!


John W. Mallgren and his son, John R. Mallgren of Mastic Beach, NY are in a ton of trouble ... or should I say in TONS of trouble. Recently authorities hauled away 42 tons of trash from their property. The two now face fines and fees totaling close to $20,000! 42 tons! That is 84,000 pounds of rubbish! Wow!

Now I do not know why they had accumulated such a huge amount of trash. Perhaps they truly believed in the axiom that someone's trash is someone else's treasure! But whatever the reason, they are now paying for their trashy habit!

How many of us do the same? We allow "trash" to accumulate in our lives. Stuff that hinders us in our walk with God. Stuff like visiting pornographic sites on the Internet, entertaining and feeding sinful thoughts of envy or greed, or practicing the all too "acceptable*" sins of gossip and pride. All of us (me included) need to spend time daily ... "putting the trash out!" Let's get rid of the sin in our lives and other things that will tear us down as we seek to live for God. Keep in mind the words of Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

*Acceptable to us ... but NOT to God!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Golden Arches and the Cross . . .


Logos. Companies spend billions of dollars developing and then marketing them. It's all about positioning themselves and their products in a highly competitive marketplace. Among the more familiar corporate logos would be the Nike "swoosh," popular soft drink logos (Coca Cola and Pepsi), shipping logos (UPS and FedEx) and eatery-beverage place logos (Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Subway and KFC). But of all the company logos littering the landscape of America's market place (and the world's for that matter!) the one that I believe is recognized by more people are the Golden Arches of MacDonald's. One glimpse of these and the average person knows that a MacDonald's is just around the corner!

Just as companies, stores, shipping companies and restaurants have logos that represent them, our faith also has a universal symbol that represents it. Unlike the corporate logos mentioned above, the symbol of the Christian faith is not man-made. Rather, it is a part of God's plan and making. I am talking of course about the cross. Please take a moment to read the following quote from R.C. Sproul's new book, The Truth of the Cross:

"One of the most important subdivisions of theology is Christology, which is the study of the person and work of Christ. Within that field of study, when we want to get at the aspect that is most crucial, the aspect that we may call the 'crux' of the matter of Jesus' person and work, we go immediately to the cross. The words crucial and crux both have their root in the Latin word for 'cross,' crux, and they have come into the English language with their current meaning because the concept of the cross is at the very center and core of biblical Christianity. In a very real sense, the cross crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus" (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-1 to see the Apostle's Paul "take" on the cross).

Have you thanked God for the cross today? Are you ready to tell someone else about the cross?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating FREEDOM! Happy Fourth of July to You All!


On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence. In the opening words of that document's preamble are these:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

As I reflected on the unalienable (read "not to be given or taken away") rights cited by the framers of the Declaration, it struck me that all three of these, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are actually found in Christ. He is the Life (John 14:6), He brings freedom (John 8:36), and the path toward eternal joy is in His presence (Psalm 16:11; Revelation 7:15-17).

So on this day when we commemorate the freedom we enjoy as Americans, are you also enjoying the freedom (and life and joy) that come from being in relationship with Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 3, 2009

For the Thrill of It!


I don't know if you heard about the new all glass balconies of the Sears Tower in Chicago. They extend out about four feet from the building's 103rd floor Skydeck. Since the ceiling, walls and floor are all made of glass, visitors who have nerve enough to venture out onto the balconies get the feeling that they are floating in air, 1335 feet above the street below! I don't know about you, but here is one guy that will never (and I do mean NEVER!!!!) experience that! Nope! Call me chicken ... call me scaredy cat ... call me anything you want - but you will never find me on the 103rd floor Skydeck of the Sears Tower ... let alone on those all glass balconies!

Now why would anyone want to venture onto these glass balconies suspended over the city of Chicago? For the thrill of it, I guess. Visitors who got an advanced tour of "The Ledge" (as the glass balconies have been labeled) talked of pounding hearts and breathless views. I have no doubt that they are right! But for Christians, there is coming a thrill that will leave all earthly thrills appear as non events in comparison. I am talking of the thrill of Heaven ... the thrill of seeing Jesus Christ face-to-face. The thrill of finally being home!

I hope you are looking forward to Heaven. And I especially hope that you have confidence that when you leave this earthly journey behind, you WILL find yourself in that glorious place. If you have any questions about what lies beyond earth's shores for you - PLEASE don't hesitate to contact me (jsmith@gracewv.org). I would be glad to "chat!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Heart of Christianity!

"The heart and soul of all Christianity is our relationship with Christ. Our salvation begins with Him, our sanctification progresses with Him, and our glorification ends with Him. He is the reason for our being, and thus He is more valuable to us than anyone or anything" (John MacArthur, The Power of Integrity). The Apostle Paul wrote something similar in his letter to the church at Philippi, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8).

How about YOU? Is Jesus Christ and your relationship to HIM more valuable to YOU than anything or anyone else??? And if you answer "Yes!" - what evidence in your life would back that up?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - Our backyard wedding last night was beautiful! God-honoring, sunny and a very happy and blessed bride and groom!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some Thoughts on Marriage. . .


In just a little over three hours, I will be officiating a wedding in my back yard (we are hoping the showers hold off!). Just before I lead the couple through their vows, I will remind them of three words ... words that if they understand and build into their marriage ... they will have a great chance to experience some of the oneness that God the creator desires for husbands and wives (cf. Genesis 2:24 which reads, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."). So for those of you who are married (or soon to be married), I thought I would share them with you as well.

- PRIORITY - If we are to get to a point in our marriages that we experience intimacy at the level God desires, then we must (read "ABSOLUTELY MUST!!!") make our relationship with our spouse the #2 priority of our lives - second only to our priority of our relationship with our God. Far too many marriages fail because the husband, the wife or both allow other priorities to usurp the place that their marriage should have in their scheme of priorities. Make your marriage the priority that it should be!

- SENSITIVITY - We will never experience anything close to marital "oneness" if we are not sensitive to one another as husband and wife. Husbands are told that they are to live with their wives in an "understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7). All too often, husbands (and wives) only understand one in their marriage - themselves. We all need to get our eyes off of our selves and commit ourselves to become students of our spouse!

- JESUS - Jesus must be at the center of the marriage relationship. He is the rock upon which we must build (see Matthew 7:24-27). When a husband and wife together go hard after Jesus, He will pull them together. You can count on it!

SOOO - How is your marriage today? I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions: Am I making my marriage the PRIORITY that it should be? Am I practicing SENSITIVITY toward my spouse - seeking to understand his or her needs and then do what I can to help meet those needs? And do we have a spiritual life together? A life in which we are pursuing Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off to Columbus...


I will be leaving first thing tomorrow morning (sometime shortly after 5:00) to drive to Columbus, Ohio for two intensive days of Grace College and Seminary board meetings. So I don't think I will be posting to my blog any more this week. But before I "sign off" - here is a quote from the pen of Charles Spurgeon, a London pastor in the 1800's who is known as "the Prince of Preachers" (it is estimated that he preached live to over 10 million people during his ministry!):

"Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God." (Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Take a moment and drink deeply of the grace of our God! Then worship Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Airline that Is Going to the Dogs!


Move over USAirways and Southwest. There's a new airline in town. And a very specialized airline at that. Earlier this month, Pet Airways departed from Farmingdale, NY on its inaugural flight, and as you can guess by the name, it caters to pets. It will eventually fly between five major U.S. cities: New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles with an average fare costing about $250. Now why an airline for our four legged friends? Here is an excerpt from a recent AP story that answers the question quite well:

"For owners, the big difference is service. Dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin of a Suburban Air Freight plane, retooled and lined with carriers in place of seats. Pets (about 50 on each flight) will be escorted to the plane by attendants who will check on the animals every 15 minutes during flight. Pets are given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks. And at each of the five airports it serves, the company has created a Pet Lounge for future fliers to wait and sniff before flights."

Take a moment and watch Pet Airways first commercial:




I don't know about you ... but I just had to laugh when I read (and watched) this (and please, for all you dog and cat lovers out there, I have NOTHING against dogs and cats!). And what amazes me is that in spite of launching its services in the midst of a major recession, Pet Airways' first two months of flights are allegedly booked solid!

This shows us that people will spend money on what they really care about (in this case their pets). Hmm. Perhaps this is why our checkbook is a good place to look to see what we truly value in life. If you have not done so lately, take some time to evaluate how you are spending your money. Then ask yourself, "What is this saying about me?" My guess is that far too many of us are spending far too little on the things that really matter to God!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beware of Information Overload!

Please take a moment and watch this humorous video about a common problem in today's high tech, instant info society in which we live.



I wonder -- how much of the information that we know do we really NEED to know? And does all this info crammed into our brains leave us less room for thoughts of God and His Word? Hmmm. Good questions to think about -- that is, if there's any room left in your head for more thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Word about "Sabbath-Keeping"


I have been plodding through a book that I am finding myself enjoying the more I read of it. The book is titled, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. It is written by a Canadian pastor by the name of Mark Buchannan. Below is a quote I read last week that really got me thinking:


"Sabbath-keeping is more than time management. It is a fresh orientation to time, where we think with holy imagination about how the arc of our moments and the hours of our days intersects with eternity. 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12). Teach us that this is not just another day of the week, but the day that the Lord has made . . . (we need to learn to) work out where time and eternity meet. Pay attention to how God is afoot in the mystery of each moment, in its mad rush or maddening plod. He is present in all that. But too often we are so time-obsessed we take no time to really notice."

Hmm. There are some good insights there. Now if I can only find the time to reflect on them!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beware of Those Time Wasters!


If you are anything like me ... I am sure you feel "the time crunch." You know, the ever present squeeze you feel because you have too much to do and too little time to do it in! I feel this a lot. But I wonder - how much of it is of my own making? By this I mean, how much time do I waste in rather meaningless, trivial pursuits? Recently a sheet containing a list of typical time wasters was distributed at one of our staff meetings. Here is some of the things that were part of the list ... as you read it, ask yourself if you are "guilty" of any:

1. Sleeping too much.
2. Watching too much TV.
3. Playing video/computer/xbox/Wii games.
4. Talking too long with people.
5. Emails.
6. Surfing the Internet (and I would include such sites as Facebook and My Space).
7. Day dreaming.

My friends, time is a precious commodity. God gives us all the same amount: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds each day. And once our day, hour, minute or second is past ... it is gone forever. God's Word admonishes us to "look carefully then how (we) walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-15, ESV).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back to See the Dentist!


Yesterday, in addition to heading back to the office I had to head back to see my dentist. Two weeks ago, I went for a LONNGGG overdue checkup. During that exam I was told I had one cavity and it was a deep one. The dentist then told me that based on the xrays, he guessed there was an 80% chance I would need a root canal. So with all of that running around in my mind ... after several hours of work put in at the office, I took off for the dentist's.

Now I am not a fan of the dentist. In fact, I used to go to a dentist who had a sign on his window that read, "We cater to cowards." I always thought that was appropriate every time I walked through the doors. "They knew I was coming!" So I was surprised at how calm I felt yesterday, as I drove to my appointment. I was doing just fine until I walked into the dental office. The receptionist was on the phone and was saying these words as I was walking up to the counter to sign in, "We have a patient in a chair who is experiencing what seems to be heart related issues. We need you to send an ambulance immediately!" Now at that point, I was beginning to rethink my appointment. Is this something that I REALLY need to do???

I am glad to report that the ambulance came and transported the man to the hospital (at which time he seemed to be doing much better) AND I survived my appointment (the dentist was able to just fill the cavity as the nerve was not exposed - although I must keep an "eye tooth" on it just in case it becomes clear that more work will be required!). SOOO ... my wallet and my calendar were both spared a major hit - not to mention my ego (I am a wimp with pain)!

This situation had a good result. But often in this life (in which we live in a world that is "temporarily out of order"), this is not the case. This is why we must do our part to strengthen our faith in God (by getting to know Him and His promises as revealed in His Word) while also asking him to grow our faith - for it is faith in God that will help us to overcome this world!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in Town with Some Random Thoughts


Our English word, vacation, comes from the Latin root, vacare meaning “to be empty.” The idea is that while you are on vacation ... your office or place at work is EMPTY! Well I just got back to my empty office to the work that has accumulated in my absence. Before I begin to tackle the pile of emails and emails, meetings and visits that awaits my attention, I want to share some random thoughts on my vacation.

1. Vacations are a great time to work on family relationships. This past week, my wife and I spent some very special time with our adult kids and their spouses, along with our two grandchildren. It was a great time for us to reconnect. It was also wonderful to get to know our grand baby and our step grandson better. My wife commented to me just yesterday how much her love grew for these two children as a result of our time together. Spending quality time together with others will tend to do this!

2. Vacations are also a great time to work on our "God" relationship. With the press of my schedule removed, it was easy for me to see just how much I allow my "busyness" to crowd out time spent with God. So I return to my schedule, determined to make my relationship with God (and my alone time with Him) a greater priority than it has been.

3. I stink at the game "Sorry!" I played my grandson 6 or 7 times and he beat me EVERY SINGLE TIME! I told him on Saturday that I wanted a rematch ... and he assured me that he would beat me again! And you know, he probably will (and he won't be a bit SORRY about doing so)!

4. Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz had it right when she said, "There's no place like home!" Even though Sharon and I felt sadness in our hearts as we pulled out of Ocean City (we were the last to leave), we both felt good about pulling into our driveway. Yes, vacations away are great - but our home is still our favorite place to be (And to think that our eternal home will be far better -- wow! Looking forward to my arrival there - in God's perfect timing, of course!)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Friend Like No Other!

As I wrap up my vacation (and it has been a delightful one with a lot of time spent with my immediate family) - I wanted to post a song that I ran across. The song titled, My Song Is Love Unknown, is a powerful musical description of the gospel. It reminded me that in this day of Facebook in which we "friend and befriend" one another (sometimes, I think, simply to see how many "friends" we can add to our list!) - Jesus Christ is a friend like no other! Take a few minutes and enjoy the song ... and worship Jesus Christ!




Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Vacation! Yea!!!


I am currently on vacation, getting some needed R&R and spending time with the family. Be back to posting blogs the week of July 2oth.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Most Important Thing about You Is???


Did you ever stop to think about what the most important thing about you is? Is it how much money you make? How tall you are? How much hair you have (or don't have) on the top of your head? Where you went to school? What you have accomplished to date in your life?

Here is what A.W. Tozer had to say in answer to this question:

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like . . . Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, 'What comes into your mind when you think about God?' we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy).

Tozer is right on target with those comment! So, what are YOUR thoughts of God? The more rightly you think about God and the more closely your thoughts about God match up with the reality of who God truly is - the more your life will be a reflection of Him.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lessons from at Dentist's Chair


Yesterday I reluctantly drove myself to see the dentist. I was going not because of a toothache or any problems that I was aware of ... I was simply going because my 6 month checkup was ... uhm ... let's say several months over due! So I went through the routine of xrays and cleaning. Then the dentist came in and the conversation went something like this (my real thoughts are included in parenthesis):

Dentist - "Hello, John I see it's been quite some time since you have been here. What brought you In?"

Me - "Well, for one I knew I was long overdue for a checkup (Yep Doc, I hate people fooling with my teeth!) .... and I am heading to Africa at the end of August and so I thought I should get my teeth checked (Sure don't want to see the inside of a dentist's office in Africa!).

Dentist - "There's good news and bad news. The good news is you have only one cavity. The bad news is that it is a lulu. The actual decay in the molar is very close to the pulp. Once we remove the current filling (Remove filling? That sounds like pain to me!), we will be able to see if a root canal is needed (Ouch! More pain, more time, more money!) But I am guessing that there is an 80% probability that you will need a root canal" (God, make the 20% a reality ... PLEASE!).

Me - "OK, Dr. You have to do what you have to do!" (Why me? Why couldn't this visit have been easy in and easy out ... see you back here in 6 months!)

Dentist - "Looking at the xrays from your last visit, the decay wasn't here. If you had come in earlier, we might have been able to fix this before it became a problem (Yeah, I should have been back here sooner, I know! Just pour on the guilt!). We will set you up for an appointment soon and get this started so you can be all done before you go to Africa.

So on July 20th at 10 AM I go back. Yea!

Now did I learn anything from this visit? Yep! For starters I learned that procrastination can lead to serious problems. If I had not procrastinated seeing my dentist for so long, I probably would not be looking down the barrel of a possible root canal. In addition, I learned that Galatians 6:7 is a reality. This verse reads, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." The bad news I got was due to my actions (or in this case inaction) and I was simply reaping what I had sown. SOOO .... all this to say - beware of procrastination AND always remember that the choices you make today will lead to consequence tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Trashy Case!


John W. Mallgren and his son, John R. Mallgren of Mastic Beach, NY are in a ton of trouble ... or should I say in TONS of trouble. Recently authorities hauled away 42 tons of trash from their property. The two now face fines and fees totaling close to $20,000! 42 tons! That is 84,000 pounds of rubbish! Wow!

Now I do not know why they had accumulated such a huge amount of trash. Perhaps they truly believed in the axiom that someone's trash is someone else's treasure! But whatever the reason, they are now paying for their trashy habit!

How many of us do the same? We allow "trash" to accumulate in our lives. Stuff that hinders us in our walk with God. Stuff like visiting pornographic sites on the Internet, entertaining and feeding sinful thoughts of envy or greed, or practicing the all too "acceptable*" sins of gossip and pride. All of us (me included) need to spend time daily ... "putting the trash out!" Let's get rid of the sin in our lives and other things that will tear us down as we seek to live for God. Keep in mind the words of Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

*Acceptable to us ... but NOT to God!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Golden Arches and the Cross . . .


Logos. Companies spend billions of dollars developing and then marketing them. It's all about positioning themselves and their products in a highly competitive marketplace. Among the more familiar corporate logos would be the Nike "swoosh," popular soft drink logos (Coca Cola and Pepsi), shipping logos (UPS and FedEx) and eatery-beverage place logos (Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Subway and KFC). But of all the company logos littering the landscape of America's market place (and the world's for that matter!) the one that I believe is recognized by more people are the Golden Arches of MacDonald's. One glimpse of these and the average person knows that a MacDonald's is just around the corner!

Just as companies, stores, shipping companies and restaurants have logos that represent them, our faith also has a universal symbol that represents it. Unlike the corporate logos mentioned above, the symbol of the Christian faith is not man-made. Rather, it is a part of God's plan and making. I am talking of course about the cross. Please take a moment to read the following quote from R.C. Sproul's new book, The Truth of the Cross:

"One of the most important subdivisions of theology is Christology, which is the study of the person and work of Christ. Within that field of study, when we want to get at the aspect that is most crucial, the aspect that we may call the 'crux' of the matter of Jesus' person and work, we go immediately to the cross. The words crucial and crux both have their root in the Latin word for 'cross,' crux, and they have come into the English language with their current meaning because the concept of the cross is at the very center and core of biblical Christianity. In a very real sense, the cross crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus" (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-1 to see the Apostle's Paul "take" on the cross).

Have you thanked God for the cross today? Are you ready to tell someone else about the cross?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating FREEDOM! Happy Fourth of July to You All!


On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence. In the opening words of that document's preamble are these:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

As I reflected on the unalienable (read "not to be given or taken away") rights cited by the framers of the Declaration, it struck me that all three of these, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are actually found in Christ. He is the Life (John 14:6), He brings freedom (John 8:36), and the path toward eternal joy is in His presence (Psalm 16:11; Revelation 7:15-17).

So on this day when we commemorate the freedom we enjoy as Americans, are you also enjoying the freedom (and life and joy) that come from being in relationship with Jesus Christ?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 3, 2009

For the Thrill of It!


I don't know if you heard about the new all glass balconies of the Sears Tower in Chicago. They extend out about four feet from the building's 103rd floor Skydeck. Since the ceiling, walls and floor are all made of glass, visitors who have nerve enough to venture out onto the balconies get the feeling that they are floating in air, 1335 feet above the street below! I don't know about you, but here is one guy that will never (and I do mean NEVER!!!!) experience that! Nope! Call me chicken ... call me scaredy cat ... call me anything you want - but you will never find me on the 103rd floor Skydeck of the Sears Tower ... let alone on those all glass balconies!

Now why would anyone want to venture onto these glass balconies suspended over the city of Chicago? For the thrill of it, I guess. Visitors who got an advanced tour of "The Ledge" (as the glass balconies have been labeled) talked of pounding hearts and breathless views. I have no doubt that they are right! But for Christians, there is coming a thrill that will leave all earthly thrills appear as non events in comparison. I am talking of the thrill of Heaven ... the thrill of seeing Jesus Christ face-to-face. The thrill of finally being home!

I hope you are looking forward to Heaven. And I especially hope that you have confidence that when you leave this earthly journey behind, you WILL find yourself in that glorious place. If you have any questions about what lies beyond earth's shores for you - PLEASE don't hesitate to contact me (jsmith@gracewv.org). I would be glad to "chat!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Heart of Christianity!

"The heart and soul of all Christianity is our relationship with Christ. Our salvation begins with Him, our sanctification progresses with Him, and our glorification ends with Him. He is the reason for our being, and thus He is more valuable to us than anyone or anything" (John MacArthur, The Power of Integrity). The Apostle Paul wrote something similar in his letter to the church at Philippi, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8).

How about YOU? Is Jesus Christ and your relationship to HIM more valuable to YOU than anything or anyone else??? And if you answer "Yes!" - what evidence in your life would back that up?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - Our backyard wedding last night was beautiful! God-honoring, sunny and a very happy and blessed bride and groom!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some Thoughts on Marriage. . .


In just a little over three hours, I will be officiating a wedding in my back yard (we are hoping the showers hold off!). Just before I lead the couple through their vows, I will remind them of three words ... words that if they understand and build into their marriage ... they will have a great chance to experience some of the oneness that God the creator desires for husbands and wives (cf. Genesis 2:24 which reads, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."). So for those of you who are married (or soon to be married), I thought I would share them with you as well.

- PRIORITY - If we are to get to a point in our marriages that we experience intimacy at the level God desires, then we must (read "ABSOLUTELY MUST!!!") make our relationship with our spouse the #2 priority of our lives - second only to our priority of our relationship with our God. Far too many marriages fail because the husband, the wife or both allow other priorities to usurp the place that their marriage should have in their scheme of priorities. Make your marriage the priority that it should be!

- SENSITIVITY - We will never experience anything close to marital "oneness" if we are not sensitive to one another as husband and wife. Husbands are told that they are to live with their wives in an "understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7). All too often, husbands (and wives) only understand one in their marriage - themselves. We all need to get our eyes off of our selves and commit ourselves to become students of our spouse!

- JESUS - Jesus must be at the center of the marriage relationship. He is the rock upon which we must build (see Matthew 7:24-27). When a husband and wife together go hard after Jesus, He will pull them together. You can count on it!

SOOO - How is your marriage today? I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions: Am I making my marriage the PRIORITY that it should be? Am I practicing SENSITIVITY toward my spouse - seeking to understand his or her needs and then do what I can to help meet those needs? And do we have a spiritual life together? A life in which we are pursuing Jesus Christ?

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.