PJ

PJ

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got Faith?


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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Unwelcome Certainty of Life


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

Both of these articles are a stark (I am going to avoid using the word "grave" here - :)) reminder that death awaits us all. No matter how hard we try to avoid thinking about it (and in many cases try to delay it with our attempts to remain young) - death is inevitable. And none of us know just when death will come knocking on our door! So getting prepared is not a bad idea. In fact, it is a pretty good one. Some people see pre-planning of one's funeral as being morbid. I see it as being prudent. Having had to go through with my siblings the planning of both of my parents' funerals - I know how difficult it is to make decisions while being emotionally drained. Why not spare your loved ones from having to go through this? Make the decisions for them so they don't have to guess about what you would have wanted. And relieve them the necessity of making tough calls when they are in the midst of the often overwhelming pain of grief.


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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talk about a Wrong Assessment!


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

The President who gave this speech was none other than Abraham Lincoln. And the speech was The Gettysburg Address. Many people don't realize that President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event that day (the event was the public dedication of a cemetery built to bury the Union dead who died in the battle of Gettysburg). That honor went to a man by the name of Edward Everett, one of the era's greatest orators. Everett spoke for two hours. Lincoln's "Dedicatory Remarks" (the label given them in the ceremony's program) lasted two minutes. But I would challenge any of you to recall from memory one phrase from Everett's marathon speech. On the other hand, I would guess that many of you could either recall a portion of Lincoln's ten sentence address - or would at the very least recognize if you heard it being read. It has indeed reached the status of one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) speeches ever given in America's two plus centuries of existence. BOY did those newspapers ever get it wrong!

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

Have you read your Bible lately?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back from Vacation with Some Random Thoughts


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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gone Fishing! Well not Really - Just Gone!


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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Take Care of Your Good Name!


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

Our reputations (which would include our credit rating) can be severely damaged if the wrong person gets hold of our private information and uses it for financial gain (theirs not ours!). So we need to guard this info carefully. And remember what the Good Book says about a good name: "A good name is more desirable than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1). 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good Old Days?


The automobile, which is now a part of the very fabric of American society (there are approximately 250 million vehicles of various sorts in operation in the United States today) is only a little over 100 years old. When the auto first hit the streets, it was nicknamed "the horseless carriage," for prior to the auto the horse was the basic staple of transportation. So much so that in large urban areas, the number of horses caused a huge problem. Consider New York City for example. In 1900, New York City was the home of 200,000 horses, or one for every 17 residents. That's a lot of horses. And just as all the motor vehicles on today's highways have their down side, so did horses. The biggest of which was .... can you guess???   .... manure! That's right! Two hundred thousand horses can produce an awful lot of manure, especially when you consider that the average horse produces about 25 pounds of manure each day! Multiply that by 200,000 and you have about 5 million pounds of manure to dispose of each and every day! So what happened to all that manure? In many neighborhoods it lined the streets as large snow banks do today after a winter snow storm. It was heaped into huge piles in vacant lots (some piles reaching 60 feet in height!). And not only did it stink, it was a fertile breeding ground for flies that spread disease. City planners were at a loss of how to resolve the manure problem. Fortunately for them, the arrival of the automobile solved the problem (and replaced it with others)!

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Good to Be True?


The following is a true account. The incident occurred earlier this week in a Burlington Coat Factory store in Columbus, Ohio. A Ms. Linda Brown arrived at the store in a limo. She walked in and proceeded to the front of the store where she announced that she had won the lottery and would pay for each shopper's purchases up to $500 per shopper. Well that is good news for people in these tough times, so people quickly filled their shopping carts and headed for the registers. And while waiting in line, they called their relatives and friends telling them to come to the store and get in on the deal. And did they ever come. The store was soon filled with over 500 enthusiastic shoppers with another 1000 waiting outside to get in. But when the cashiers realized that Ms. Brown had no money to pay the tab - they quickly shut down the buying spree. And that ignited a riot. Angry customers threw their merchandise on the floor. Others grabbed their items and fled the store. One police detective stated afterward, "Everybody was like, 'I still want my free stuff,' and that started the riot. It looks like Hurricane Katrina went through the store."



What sounded too good to be true - was just that! It was nothing more than a hoax. But you know the old saying ... "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"  And that usually holds true. But there is one glaring exception. The promise of Heaven really does sound too good to be true. Think about it. The only thing we deserve to receive from God is judgment. The Bible is clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a). Yet God in His mercy and grace offers to us eternal life, as Jesus His Son paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. And so "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23b). When we by faith receive this free gift - God reserves for us a place in Heaven. Amazing to think that we who were born rebels get to spend an eternity in God's House. A place that is so beautiful - that we can only begin to imagine the wonders of that place. Sounds too good to be true - but it isn't. There nothing more true than the gospel of Christ!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'll Make You Fishers of Men

Here is a nice acapella number by Rhonda Vincent that I stumbled across. I hope you will enjoy (and will be reminded of our need (and privilege) to be fishers of men!).



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being a Voice for the Voiceless


There is a new independent film that will be released in the not too distant future. The documentary seeks to expose the terrible reality of abortion by focusing on the financial aspect of the multimillion dollar abortion industry. The film will most certainly be attacked by the pro-abortion* faction in our country. The film, titled Blood Money does not yet have a distributor, but its producers are hopeful that one will soon be found. If you want to help get this movie to the big screen, you can do so by either going to the movie's web site (www.bloodmoneyfilm.com) or view the film's trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYaTywSDmls. Let's together be a voice for those who have no voice!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

*I do not use the term pro-choice to describe the pro-abortion position for where is the choice for the unborn child?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unwanted Guests and a Very Common Name


A month ago during my flight home from Africa, I remember thanking God that I had made it through the trip without getting sick (which is always one of my greatest concerns while traveling on a short term international mission trip - it is tough to keep up with the schedule when you are incapacitated due to illness!). Little did I know then that I was not totally accurate in that assessment.

About a week after being home and having overcome the effects of jet lag, I began to notice that I wasn't quite feeling right - fatigue, some digestive issues (that's all I will say about this) and weight loss (which I thought was due primarily to not eating due to the off and on nausea I was experiencing). I kept thinking that things would clear up ... but when they persisted, I made an appointment to see my doctor which I did last week. He called me yesterday with the results of some stool samples that I had to deliver last Friday to the lab (fun, let me tell you!!!). Sure enough, I did not come home alone from the Central African Republic. I brought a number of microscopic parasites with me. My doctor assured me this is easily treatable via antibiotics (in fact, this parasite exists worldwide -  it is contracted when one drinks contaminated water (contaminated by contact with either human or animal waste) or eats food washed with contaminated water. I am thinking the latter is how I contracted the parasite). So last evening I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription that the doctor's office had called in for me.


Now I gave the pharmacy plenty of time to fill the prescription before going. So when I gave my name at the pharmacy counter and they did not have my prescription filled, I was a bit surprised. I explained that the doctor's office should have called in the prescription a couple of hours earlier. So as the woman who waited on me began to enter my personal info into the computer, another pharmacy tech said, "Oh, you are looking for a prescription for a John Smith? I have it here. I thought it was a joke!"  Well, I was a bit irritated by that, because I had to make a return trip later to pick up my prescription (which I was anxious to get started on so it could begin to rid my body of my uninvited and unwelcome guests!). But I did not stay angry long ... things like that incident have happened to me before because of the name that I bear!  Reminds me that as Christians we can expect things to happen to us because of the name we bear. Jesus himself said, "They will treat you this way (in the context he is talking about persecution) because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me" (John 15:21). So as you bear the name of Jesus, be prepared to face some sort of persecution. And be glad and rejoice when you do for you are BLESSED! (see Matthew 5:11-12).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Start Your Work Week

Here we are on a Monday morning once again (Mondays - as is true of any of the days of the week - sure do seem to come around quickly, don't they?!). To get you started with your work week, here are a few random thoughts:

1. Today is the first day of a work week for most of us. But there are some among us who have the day off - most government workers, bank employees, teachers and staff in some school districts, etc. And the reason for the day off? It's Columbus Day. Yep. In 1934, the U.S. government made the observance of Columbus Day a federal holiday. In 1971, the government permanently established the official Columbus Day holiday as the second Monday of October. Now why do we observe this holiday? Supposedly it is to commemorate the date of Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America which occurred on October 12, 1492. My guess is that most people who have the day off will give little if any thought to the man behind their holiday. Reminds me of the way we human beings so often go about our lives giving little thought to the God behind our lives ... the God in whom we "live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

2. Last nights' divisional baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies was played in less than optimum conditions. The temperature at game time was 31 degrees. By game's end it had fallen into the twenties. Now you might be able to play football in that kind of weather. But baseball is a different game, much more susceptible to poor playing conditions. But I guess since both teams had to play in the same conditions, neither team had the advantage. As we go through our daily routines - often we face less than optimum "playing conditions." It is during these times that our faith is most challenged. But it is also a great opportunity for spiritual growth (see James 1:2-4). So when (not if) you face difficulties (or to use a baseball metaphor: when life "throws you a curve") don't ask God to get you "out of" the situation. Rather ask Him to get you "through" the situation, teaching you the lessons that He has for you to learn.

3. I love my family! My wife has been my very best friend for some 31+ years now. God has blessed the two of us with three children (and now their three wonderful spouses) and two grandchildren (with more, we hope, to come). All of our children love each other and love to be together (and love to be with us!). I also love my church family here at Grace. For over twenty years we have sought God together. Yes, many have come and gone through the years, but there are many who have been here with us now for many, many years. So if you are reading this and you are part of the family here at Grace, I want you to know that I thank God for YOU!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Lighter Posting . . .

I am a coffee drinker. Perhaps not as hardcore as some other coffee drinkers that I know, but I do enjoy my couple of cups of hot java to start my day. And in case you wonder what those two cups of coffee do for me --- take a moment to view these two Starbucks commercials. Enjoy!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ouch!


Last evening, I turned on my television to catch the final inning of the Dodgers-Cardinals baseball game. The Cardinals were leading 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth (that's the last inning for you non baseball fans!). The Dodgers were at bat. They had one runner on first base with two outs. The batter hit a line drive to left field. The left fielder ran in on the ball ... he extended his glove to catch the ball (which would have been the third out of the inning and thus the end of the game with the Cardinals winning). However, he somehow misjudged the ball and ended up dropping it. The next two batters both got hits ... game over with the Dodgers winning the game, 3-2. I imagine the left fielder was feeling pretty disgusted with himself as he sat after the game alone in the locker room.

All of us make blunders. Yep. We drop the proverbial ball. And yep. We (at least I know I do) get pretty down on ourselves when we do. And I guess that is OK ... as long as we don't stay disgusted with ourselves. Instead we must seek to learn from our mistakes and then move on with life, realizing that to err is human. Now I am not making that statement so we can excuse ourselves every time we willfully choose to fail or sin ... that is not what I am talking about here. Rather I am referring to those times when we just do some stupid things (like the time I dropped my PDA into a septic tank!). These are not intentional on our part ... they are accidents (the Cardinal's left fielder did not intend to drop the ball - he simply made a misjudgment).

So the next time you (or someone else for that matter) make an "honest mistake" - go easy. None of us are perfect.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Like to Read!






As you can see from my listing of current reading, I like to read. One of the books I just started is the book, Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fulness of Life with God by J.I. Packer. In the preface to his book, Packer explains what has shaped this particular book:


"The shape this book has taken reflects my belief that there is need to blow the whistle on the sidelining of personal holiness that has been a general trend among Bible-centered Western Christians during my years of ministry. It is not a trend that one would have expected, since Scripture insists so strongly that Christians are called to holiness, that God is pleased with holiness but outraged by unholiness, and that without holiness none will see the Lord. But the shift of Christian interest away from the pursuit of holiness to focus on fun and fulfillment, ego massage and techniques for present success . . . is a fact. To my mind it is a sad and scandalous fact, and one that needs to be reversed." 

Amen, J.I.! Right on! May God help us to reverse this trend ... and may He start right here with me!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Now That's an Outrageous Statement!


Yesterday morning as I was reading our local newspaper, I came across the following quote: "How is denial of evolution by evangelical Christian politicians all that different than a denial of the Holocaust by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmaadinejad?"   I must admit that I had to look twice to make sure I had not misread what columnist Jeff Hawkes had written.

Now I read a lot of outrageous things in the newspaper. Things like adults driving drunk with young children in the car, suicide bombings killing dozens of innocent people and men and women embezzling thousands of dollars from charitable organizations - just to mention a few examples. But this statement of Hawkes is truly outrageous.

For starters, evolution is still a theory. No one has ever observed evolution (between species) and when paleontologists do make a supposedly "ground breaking" find (like the one recently in Africa) - their reports are full of speculation - because that is exactly what it is! In addition, the theory of evolution asks us to believe that the flow of evolution is in direct contradiction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which states that order within a system flows from order to disorder ... from control to chaos). Experience confirms for us that this (the flow from order to disorder) is so (my body reminds me of this every morning! - and where is that car you used to drive 20 years ago?).  And to think that this vast and very complex universe has evolved by chance? The probability of that happening are simply mind-boggling! I could go on and on and on ... but come on now. You may not agree with Creationism or Intelligent Design ... but to equate a denial of evolutionary theory with that of the reality of the Holocaust is downright absurd!  I would expect more from someone writing for the INTELLIGENCER Journal!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Lesson from a Back Yard Game of Wiffleball


On Saturday afternoon, I spent an enjoyable hour playing some backyard wiffleball with my ten year old grandson. It would have been more than an hour if my grandson had his way. Every time I thought we had just played the last inning, he found a way to get me to play another (Am I smarter than a fourth grader? Obviously not!). Finally, when my body was screaming at me to quit - I laid down the law! The inning we were playing would be the last - no, ifs and or buts about it!  And it was!

Now as the game wore on and I wore out - my grandson kept asking more of me. "One more inning, Papa John, please?"  Of course, what am I going to say to the pleading voice of an adorable grandson? Forget it pal? Hardly!" So I kept giving him one more. But finally I came to the point of having no more to give! At that point I had to call it a game!

When we go to our Father in Heaven ... and we ask ... and we ask ... and we ask for more and more and more ... unlike me, He will ALWAYS have MORE to give!  He never tires ... never runs out of resources or patience. "Ask and you will receive," Jesus said (See Matthew 7:7-11). Remember, we will get tired of asking before God even breaks a sweat in giving!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Sermon Rewind


"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth." These are the words which David begins and ends Pslam 8. Indeed, our God is a majestic God. In verse 3 of this Psalm, David points out that the vast universe is "the work of God's fingers!"  Think of it this way, God created this complex and vast universe (which He "thought up!") as effortless as it is for you and me to snap our fingers!  Wow!  What a God.

I used the following illustration yesterday from the White House years of former President Teddy Roosevelt.


It is said that when President Roosevelt entertained diplomatic guests at the White House he was fond of taking them out to the back lawn at the end of the day. As the president stood gazing at the night sky, all eyes would eventually be cast heavenward, as his were. In his day, the vast array of stars was not dimmed by the city lights, and the magnificent display of God’s brilliant creation would overcome the party. After a long moment, Mr. Roosevelt would say, "Gentlemen, I believe we are small enough now. Let’s go to bed."

And what is truly amazing is that this BIG God not only takes note of us - but He cares for us!!!  Wow! What an awesome God we serve!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - If you missed the sermon yesterday (or simply what to go a bit deeper), I invite you to "Sermon Rewind" this coming Wednesday evening (and every Wednesday evening) at 6:45 in Room 207. I will be giving the sermon again and we will also have some time for Q&A.

Friday, October 2, 2009

DISTRACTIONS!


U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray Hood, opened a two day meeting to discuss the danger of distracted drivers (6,000 people were killed and over a half a million seriously injured last year alone due to drivers being distracted while driving their vehicles) by saying, "To put it plainly, distracted driving is a menace to society. Distracted driving is an epidemic and it seems to be getting worse every year."  And just what is it that distracts drivers? The biggest culprit is the use of hand held mobile devices. People just can't seem to stop texting or dialing while driving ... and its obviously hard to do both at the same time - and therefore the problem!

Distractions are not only a problem for drivers - they are also a problem for followers of Christ. And this is often true when it comes to connecting with God through prayer. I know it is for me! That's why, when I stumbled across a book this week that addresses the topic, I did not hesitate to order it (well, I did hesitate long enough to read a review and see who was endorsing it - once satisfied, I bought it.) The title is, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. It is written by Paul E.Miller. I plan to work my way through it this month and then place a review of the book here on my blog when done. So check back in about a month. But in the meantime - what is distracting you from connecting with God?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Soda Jerks and the Immutability of God


Recently I was in the middle of a conversation with a group of people when one of them made reference to her days as a soda jerk. One of the younger participants in the conversation, with a very puzzled look asked, "What is a soda jerk?"  It never occurred to the former soda jerk that our much younger friend would have no clue as to what a soda jerk was (for those of you who are wondering right now "OK, so what is a soda jerk?" - here's the scoop: "a soda jerk was a person — typically a youth— who operated the soda fountain in a drugstore. The term refers to the person who made an ice cream soda. This was made by putting flavored syrup into a specially designed tall glass, adding carbonated water and, finally, one or two scoops of ice cream. The result was served with a long handled "soda spoon" and straws. The name soda jerk came from the jerking action the server would use on the soda fountain handle when adding the soda water" (quote from Wikipedia).  Now even though I was never a soda jerk, I can still remember my friends and I riding our bikes to Brownie's Pharmacy and getting our ice cream sodas from ... the soda jerk!

This is a reminder that times do change and sometimes change quite a bit (although in some retro eateries, you will still find soda jerks doing their thing!). In fact just the other day as I was driving through our community, I was struck by some of the changes I have seen in the twenty years that I have lived here. In the midst of all the change around us, I find great comfort in knowing that God is immutable (that is the theological term that means God does not change!). He is (as the book of Psalms likes to remind us) our Rock. And as our Rock, we can anchor our souls to Him and be secure - no matter how much life is changing around us!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Got Faith?


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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Unwelcome Certainty of Life


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

Both of these articles are a stark (I am going to avoid using the word "grave" here - :)) reminder that death awaits us all. No matter how hard we try to avoid thinking about it (and in many cases try to delay it with our attempts to remain young) - death is inevitable. And none of us know just when death will come knocking on our door! So getting prepared is not a bad idea. In fact, it is a pretty good one. Some people see pre-planning of one's funeral as being morbid. I see it as being prudent. Having had to go through with my siblings the planning of both of my parents' funerals - I know how difficult it is to make decisions while being emotionally drained. Why not spare your loved ones from having to go through this? Make the decisions for them so they don't have to guess about what you would have wanted. And relieve them the necessity of making tough calls when they are in the midst of the often overwhelming pain of grief.


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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talk about a Wrong Assessment!


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

The President who gave this speech was none other than Abraham Lincoln. And the speech was The Gettysburg Address. Many people don't realize that President Lincoln was not the main speaker at the event that day (the event was the public dedication of a cemetery built to bury the Union dead who died in the battle of Gettysburg). That honor went to a man by the name of Edward Everett, one of the era's greatest orators. Everett spoke for two hours. Lincoln's "Dedicatory Remarks" (the label given them in the ceremony's program) lasted two minutes. But I would challenge any of you to recall from memory one phrase from Everett's marathon speech. On the other hand, I would guess that many of you could either recall a portion of Lincoln's ten sentence address - or would at the very least recognize if you heard it being read. It has indeed reached the status of one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) speeches ever given in America's two plus centuries of existence. BOY did those newspapers ever get it wrong!

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

Have you read your Bible lately?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back from Vacation with Some Random Thoughts


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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gone Fishing! Well not Really - Just Gone!


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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Take Care of Your Good Name!


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

Our reputations (which would include our credit rating) can be severely damaged if the wrong person gets hold of our private information and uses it for financial gain (theirs not ours!). So we need to guard this info carefully. And remember what the Good Book says about a good name: "A good name is more desirable than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1). 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Good Old Days?


The automobile, which is now a part of the very fabric of American society (there are approximately 250 million vehicles of various sorts in operation in the United States today) is only a little over 100 years old. When the auto first hit the streets, it was nicknamed "the horseless carriage," for prior to the auto the horse was the basic staple of transportation. So much so that in large urban areas, the number of horses caused a huge problem. Consider New York City for example. In 1900, New York City was the home of 200,000 horses, or one for every 17 residents. That's a lot of horses. And just as all the motor vehicles on today's highways have their down side, so did horses. The biggest of which was .... can you guess???   .... manure! That's right! Two hundred thousand horses can produce an awful lot of manure, especially when you consider that the average horse produces about 25 pounds of manure each day! Multiply that by 200,000 and you have about 5 million pounds of manure to dispose of each and every day! So what happened to all that manure? In many neighborhoods it lined the streets as large snow banks do today after a winter snow storm. It was heaped into huge piles in vacant lots (some piles reaching 60 feet in height!). And not only did it stink, it was a fertile breeding ground for flies that spread disease. City planners were at a loss of how to resolve the manure problem. Fortunately for them, the arrival of the automobile solved the problem (and replaced it with others)!

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

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Good to Be True?


The following is a true account. The incident occurred earlier this week in a Burlington Coat Factory store in Columbus, Ohio. A Ms. Linda Brown arrived at the store in a limo. She walked in and proceeded to the front of the store where she announced that she had won the lottery and would pay for each shopper's purchases up to $500 per shopper. Well that is good news for people in these tough times, so people quickly filled their shopping carts and headed for the registers. And while waiting in line, they called their relatives and friends telling them to come to the store and get in on the deal. And did they ever come. The store was soon filled with over 500 enthusiastic shoppers with another 1000 waiting outside to get in. But when the cashiers realized that Ms. Brown had no money to pay the tab - they quickly shut down the buying spree. And that ignited a riot. Angry customers threw their merchandise on the floor. Others grabbed their items and fled the store. One police detective stated afterward, "Everybody was like, 'I still want my free stuff,' and that started the riot. It looks like Hurricane Katrina went through the store."



What sounded too good to be true - was just that! It was nothing more than a hoax. But you know the old saying ... "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"  And that usually holds true. But there is one glaring exception. The promise of Heaven really does sound too good to be true. Think about it. The only thing we deserve to receive from God is judgment. The Bible is clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a). Yet God in His mercy and grace offers to us eternal life, as Jesus His Son paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. And so "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23b). When we by faith receive this free gift - God reserves for us a place in Heaven. Amazing to think that we who were born rebels get to spend an eternity in God's House. A place that is so beautiful - that we can only begin to imagine the wonders of that place. Sounds too good to be true - but it isn't. There nothing more true than the gospel of Christ!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'll Make You Fishers of Men

Here is a nice acapella number by Rhonda Vincent that I stumbled across. I hope you will enjoy (and will be reminded of our need (and privilege) to be fishers of men!).



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being a Voice for the Voiceless


There is a new independent film that will be released in the not too distant future. The documentary seeks to expose the terrible reality of abortion by focusing on the financial aspect of the multimillion dollar abortion industry. The film will most certainly be attacked by the pro-abortion* faction in our country. The film, titled Blood Money does not yet have a distributor, but its producers are hopeful that one will soon be found. If you want to help get this movie to the big screen, you can do so by either going to the movie's web site (www.bloodmoneyfilm.com) or view the film's trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYaTywSDmls. Let's together be a voice for those who have no voice!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

*I do not use the term pro-choice to describe the pro-abortion position for where is the choice for the unborn child?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unwanted Guests and a Very Common Name


A month ago during my flight home from Africa, I remember thanking God that I had made it through the trip without getting sick (which is always one of my greatest concerns while traveling on a short term international mission trip - it is tough to keep up with the schedule when you are incapacitated due to illness!). Little did I know then that I was not totally accurate in that assessment.

About a week after being home and having overcome the effects of jet lag, I began to notice that I wasn't quite feeling right - fatigue, some digestive issues (that's all I will say about this) and weight loss (which I thought was due primarily to not eating due to the off and on nausea I was experiencing). I kept thinking that things would clear up ... but when they persisted, I made an appointment to see my doctor which I did last week. He called me yesterday with the results of some stool samples that I had to deliver last Friday to the lab (fun, let me tell you!!!). Sure enough, I did not come home alone from the Central African Republic. I brought a number of microscopic parasites with me. My doctor assured me this is easily treatable via antibiotics (in fact, this parasite exists worldwide -  it is contracted when one drinks contaminated water (contaminated by contact with either human or animal waste) or eats food washed with contaminated water. I am thinking the latter is how I contracted the parasite). So last evening I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription that the doctor's office had called in for me.


Now I gave the pharmacy plenty of time to fill the prescription before going. So when I gave my name at the pharmacy counter and they did not have my prescription filled, I was a bit surprised. I explained that the doctor's office should have called in the prescription a couple of hours earlier. So as the woman who waited on me began to enter my personal info into the computer, another pharmacy tech said, "Oh, you are looking for a prescription for a John Smith? I have it here. I thought it was a joke!"  Well, I was a bit irritated by that, because I had to make a return trip later to pick up my prescription (which I was anxious to get started on so it could begin to rid my body of my uninvited and unwelcome guests!). But I did not stay angry long ... things like that incident have happened to me before because of the name that I bear!  Reminds me that as Christians we can expect things to happen to us because of the name we bear. Jesus himself said, "They will treat you this way (in the context he is talking about persecution) because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me" (John 15:21). So as you bear the name of Jesus, be prepared to face some sort of persecution. And be glad and rejoice when you do for you are BLESSED! (see Matthew 5:11-12).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Random Thoughts to Start Your Work Week

Here we are on a Monday morning once again (Mondays - as is true of any of the days of the week - sure do seem to come around quickly, don't they?!). To get you started with your work week, here are a few random thoughts:

1. Today is the first day of a work week for most of us. But there are some among us who have the day off - most government workers, bank employees, teachers and staff in some school districts, etc. And the reason for the day off? It's Columbus Day. Yep. In 1934, the U.S. government made the observance of Columbus Day a federal holiday. In 1971, the government permanently established the official Columbus Day holiday as the second Monday of October. Now why do we observe this holiday? Supposedly it is to commemorate the date of Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America which occurred on October 12, 1492. My guess is that most people who have the day off will give little if any thought to the man behind their holiday. Reminds me of the way we human beings so often go about our lives giving little thought to the God behind our lives ... the God in whom we "live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).

2. Last nights' divisional baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies was played in less than optimum conditions. The temperature at game time was 31 degrees. By game's end it had fallen into the twenties. Now you might be able to play football in that kind of weather. But baseball is a different game, much more susceptible to poor playing conditions. But I guess since both teams had to play in the same conditions, neither team had the advantage. As we go through our daily routines - often we face less than optimum "playing conditions." It is during these times that our faith is most challenged. But it is also a great opportunity for spiritual growth (see James 1:2-4). So when (not if) you face difficulties (or to use a baseball metaphor: when life "throws you a curve") don't ask God to get you "out of" the situation. Rather ask Him to get you "through" the situation, teaching you the lessons that He has for you to learn.

3. I love my family! My wife has been my very best friend for some 31+ years now. God has blessed the two of us with three children (and now their three wonderful spouses) and two grandchildren (with more, we hope, to come). All of our children love each other and love to be together (and love to be with us!). I also love my church family here at Grace. For over twenty years we have sought God together. Yes, many have come and gone through the years, but there are many who have been here with us now for many, many years. So if you are reading this and you are part of the family here at Grace, I want you to know that I thank God for YOU!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Lighter Posting . . .

I am a coffee drinker. Perhaps not as hardcore as some other coffee drinkers that I know, but I do enjoy my couple of cups of hot java to start my day. And in case you wonder what those two cups of coffee do for me --- take a moment to view these two Starbucks commercials. Enjoy!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ouch!


Last evening, I turned on my television to catch the final inning of the Dodgers-Cardinals baseball game. The Cardinals were leading 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth (that's the last inning for you non baseball fans!). The Dodgers were at bat. They had one runner on first base with two outs. The batter hit a line drive to left field. The left fielder ran in on the ball ... he extended his glove to catch the ball (which would have been the third out of the inning and thus the end of the game with the Cardinals winning). However, he somehow misjudged the ball and ended up dropping it. The next two batters both got hits ... game over with the Dodgers winning the game, 3-2. I imagine the left fielder was feeling pretty disgusted with himself as he sat after the game alone in the locker room.

All of us make blunders. Yep. We drop the proverbial ball. And yep. We (at least I know I do) get pretty down on ourselves when we do. And I guess that is OK ... as long as we don't stay disgusted with ourselves. Instead we must seek to learn from our mistakes and then move on with life, realizing that to err is human. Now I am not making that statement so we can excuse ourselves every time we willfully choose to fail or sin ... that is not what I am talking about here. Rather I am referring to those times when we just do some stupid things (like the time I dropped my PDA into a septic tank!). These are not intentional on our part ... they are accidents (the Cardinal's left fielder did not intend to drop the ball - he simply made a misjudgment).

So the next time you (or someone else for that matter) make an "honest mistake" - go easy. None of us are perfect.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Like to Read!






As you can see from my listing of current reading, I like to read. One of the books I just started is the book, Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fulness of Life with God by J.I. Packer. In the preface to his book, Packer explains what has shaped this particular book:


"The shape this book has taken reflects my belief that there is need to blow the whistle on the sidelining of personal holiness that has been a general trend among Bible-centered Western Christians during my years of ministry. It is not a trend that one would have expected, since Scripture insists so strongly that Christians are called to holiness, that God is pleased with holiness but outraged by unholiness, and that without holiness none will see the Lord. But the shift of Christian interest away from the pursuit of holiness to focus on fun and fulfillment, ego massage and techniques for present success . . . is a fact. To my mind it is a sad and scandalous fact, and one that needs to be reversed." 

Amen, J.I.! Right on! May God help us to reverse this trend ... and may He start right here with me!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Now That's an Outrageous Statement!


Yesterday morning as I was reading our local newspaper, I came across the following quote: "How is denial of evolution by evangelical Christian politicians all that different than a denial of the Holocaust by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmaadinejad?"   I must admit that I had to look twice to make sure I had not misread what columnist Jeff Hawkes had written.

Now I read a lot of outrageous things in the newspaper. Things like adults driving drunk with young children in the car, suicide bombings killing dozens of innocent people and men and women embezzling thousands of dollars from charitable organizations - just to mention a few examples. But this statement of Hawkes is truly outrageous.

For starters, evolution is still a theory. No one has ever observed evolution (between species) and when paleontologists do make a supposedly "ground breaking" find (like the one recently in Africa) - their reports are full of speculation - because that is exactly what it is! In addition, the theory of evolution asks us to believe that the flow of evolution is in direct contradiction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which states that order within a system flows from order to disorder ... from control to chaos). Experience confirms for us that this (the flow from order to disorder) is so (my body reminds me of this every morning! - and where is that car you used to drive 20 years ago?).  And to think that this vast and very complex universe has evolved by chance? The probability of that happening are simply mind-boggling! I could go on and on and on ... but come on now. You may not agree with Creationism or Intelligent Design ... but to equate a denial of evolutionary theory with that of the reality of the Holocaust is downright absurd!  I would expect more from someone writing for the INTELLIGENCER Journal!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Lesson from a Back Yard Game of Wiffleball


On Saturday afternoon, I spent an enjoyable hour playing some backyard wiffleball with my ten year old grandson. It would have been more than an hour if my grandson had his way. Every time I thought we had just played the last inning, he found a way to get me to play another (Am I smarter than a fourth grader? Obviously not!). Finally, when my body was screaming at me to quit - I laid down the law! The inning we were playing would be the last - no, ifs and or buts about it!  And it was!

Now as the game wore on and I wore out - my grandson kept asking more of me. "One more inning, Papa John, please?"  Of course, what am I going to say to the pleading voice of an adorable grandson? Forget it pal? Hardly!" So I kept giving him one more. But finally I came to the point of having no more to give! At that point I had to call it a game!

When we go to our Father in Heaven ... and we ask ... and we ask ... and we ask for more and more and more ... unlike me, He will ALWAYS have MORE to give!  He never tires ... never runs out of resources or patience. "Ask and you will receive," Jesus said (See Matthew 7:7-11). Remember, we will get tired of asking before God even breaks a sweat in giving!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Sermon Rewind


"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth." These are the words which David begins and ends Pslam 8. Indeed, our God is a majestic God. In verse 3 of this Psalm, David points out that the vast universe is "the work of God's fingers!"  Think of it this way, God created this complex and vast universe (which He "thought up!") as effortless as it is for you and me to snap our fingers!  Wow!  What a God.

I used the following illustration yesterday from the White House years of former President Teddy Roosevelt.


It is said that when President Roosevelt entertained diplomatic guests at the White House he was fond of taking them out to the back lawn at the end of the day. As the president stood gazing at the night sky, all eyes would eventually be cast heavenward, as his were. In his day, the vast array of stars was not dimmed by the city lights, and the magnificent display of God’s brilliant creation would overcome the party. After a long moment, Mr. Roosevelt would say, "Gentlemen, I believe we are small enough now. Let’s go to bed."

And what is truly amazing is that this BIG God not only takes note of us - but He cares for us!!!  Wow! What an awesome God we serve!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

PS - If you missed the sermon yesterday (or simply what to go a bit deeper), I invite you to "Sermon Rewind" this coming Wednesday evening (and every Wednesday evening) at 6:45 in Room 207. I will be giving the sermon again and we will also have some time for Q&A.

Friday, October 2, 2009

DISTRACTIONS!


U.S. Transportation Secretary, Ray Hood, opened a two day meeting to discuss the danger of distracted drivers (6,000 people were killed and over a half a million seriously injured last year alone due to drivers being distracted while driving their vehicles) by saying, "To put it plainly, distracted driving is a menace to society. Distracted driving is an epidemic and it seems to be getting worse every year."  And just what is it that distracts drivers? The biggest culprit is the use of hand held mobile devices. People just can't seem to stop texting or dialing while driving ... and its obviously hard to do both at the same time - and therefore the problem!

Distractions are not only a problem for drivers - they are also a problem for followers of Christ. And this is often true when it comes to connecting with God through prayer. I know it is for me! That's why, when I stumbled across a book this week that addresses the topic, I did not hesitate to order it (well, I did hesitate long enough to read a review and see who was endorsing it - once satisfied, I bought it.) The title is, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. It is written by Paul E.Miller. I plan to work my way through it this month and then place a review of the book here on my blog when done. So check back in about a month. But in the meantime - what is distracting you from connecting with God?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Soda Jerks and the Immutability of God


Recently I was in the middle of a conversation with a group of people when one of them made reference to her days as a soda jerk. One of the younger participants in the conversation, with a very puzzled look asked, "What is a soda jerk?"  It never occurred to the former soda jerk that our much younger friend would have no clue as to what a soda jerk was (for those of you who are wondering right now "OK, so what is a soda jerk?" - here's the scoop: "a soda jerk was a person — typically a youth— who operated the soda fountain in a drugstore. The term refers to the person who made an ice cream soda. This was made by putting flavored syrup into a specially designed tall glass, adding carbonated water and, finally, one or two scoops of ice cream. The result was served with a long handled "soda spoon" and straws. The name soda jerk came from the jerking action the server would use on the soda fountain handle when adding the soda water" (quote from Wikipedia).  Now even though I was never a soda jerk, I can still remember my friends and I riding our bikes to Brownie's Pharmacy and getting our ice cream sodas from ... the soda jerk!

This is a reminder that times do change and sometimes change quite a bit (although in some retro eateries, you will still find soda jerks doing their thing!). In fact just the other day as I was driving through our community, I was struck by some of the changes I have seen in the twenty years that I have lived here. In the midst of all the change around us, I find great comfort in knowing that God is immutable (that is the theological term that means God does not change!). He is (as the book of Psalms likes to remind us) our Rock. And as our Rock, we can anchor our souls to Him and be secure - no matter how much life is changing around us!

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.