Posts

Showing posts from December, 2009

When Life Unravels Due to an Unexpected Death . . .

Image
Yesterday, my family experienced a tragic death. A family member died unexpectantly, leaving many grief stricken people behind. And as is always the case with death, those who remain must at some point begin to put their lives back together. Always a difficult and painful process.

When life begins to unravel due to death, it is easy to look for someone to blame. And all too often that someone is God. We look his way and shout, "God, why? Why did he or she have to die?" I know. I've been there. But once the fog of our emotional pain begins to dissipate, we must quickly rid ourselves of our anger toward God. He is NOT to blame for death. We are. It is because of our sin, our rebellion against the God who made us, that death exists (see Romans 5:12). God never intended for us to ever experience death. This is why, I believe, the experience of losing a loved one is so painful -- it is downright unnatural! So, as we go through this experience ... I am so very glad that we do…

T-minus 42 Hours and 11 Minutes!

Image
As I write, the year 2009 will soon be over (in just 42 hours and 11 minutes to be specific). Wow! Where did all the other 8718 hours go? They went where all the rest of the 45,000 (give or take a few) hours of my life have gone (and where one day all the remaining hours of my earthly life will also go!). They are done. Finished. Never to be lived again. As I sit here thinking about this, here are a few thoughts I offer for your consideration:

1. Since life passes so quickly (and can never be reclaimed) - don't waste it! Make the most of the time God gives you ... to live for Him. Heed these words of the Apostle Paul, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15-16a). Strive to live your life in such a way that your days matter .... to God and the work He is doing in this world!

2. Work on daily cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and joy. Each day is a gift from God. As the book of psalms remin…

Yum! Let's Eat Some Crow!

Image
The expression, "to eat crow" is an idiom referring to a person humbling themselves by admitting that a previously held opinion was a very wrong opinion.Why is this referred to as "eating crow?" Well, just as no one likes to eat crow (I have yet to see crow on any restaurant menu), no one likes to have to admit that something they had previously stated was wrong. So when a person must do so, he or she is said to be "eating crow!"  Recently I ran across the following quotes that made me think of this idiom of eating crow:

- "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the US market." (Business Week, August 2, 1968)

- "But what is it good for?" (Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip)

-  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." (Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles,…

Post Christmas Reflections

Image
Christmas 2009 is now past. And for me, it was a good Christmas. We had the family to our house for a good part of Christmas Day. I also enjoyed the two Christmas Eve services we conducted here at Grace. In fact, my only regret is that Christmas is just ONE day! On a recent tour of Mt. Vernon (George Washington's home), I learned that in George's day, the common practice was to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (you are familiar with the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," aren't you?). Hmm. 12 days of Christmas? That might be a little much! But one day sure doesn't seem to cut it! But I am glad that even though Christmas Day comes around only once a year, the truth that it marks (the incarnation of the Living God) is a truth that impacts my life EVERY day of the year! How I thank God that He "so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life!" (see John 3:16). Have YOU thank…

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Please take a moment to watch this video. I found it a refreshing way to remind me of what Christmas is truly all about! 



Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

It's Only Two Days Until Christmas!

Image
December 25th arrives in just two days! For almost all of us that means a day off of work (when normally, since the 25th falls on a Friday, we would be putting in a routine day at the office). But I am hoping that it means far more than that! Christmas Day is the day we commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (at least, that is what Christmas should be all about - the word itself literally means "Christ's Mass."). However, all too often Jesus gets lost in all the feasting and gift giving with our family and friends.

Please take a moment and read the following parable:

"A wealthy Boston family held a christening party after the baptism of their baby. Guests and friends swarmed into their palatial home. Soon the party was in full swing. People were having a wonderful time, enjoying one another, eating, drinking, and being merry. Somebody asked, "By the way, where's the baby?" Instantly the mother's heart shuddered! In questioning panic,…

Are You Mad?

Image
James Bain has spent the last 35 years in a Florida prison for a crime he did not commit. It was back during my senior year in high school (1974) that Bain was convicted of a kidnapping and rape that he did not commit. Recently, DNA evidence exonerated him and just last Thursday a judge ordered his release. Asked by reporters if he was angry about his wrongful incarceration, Bain replied, "No, I'm not angry." And the reason he gave as to why he was not angry (in spite of the fact that most of us would agree that he has every right to be angry!)?  "Because I've got God." 

Ouch! I've got God. Yet I get impatient, irritated and yes, downright angry at times. Usually it happens when I am behind the wheel of my car and some idiot (ouch - my anger is starting to surface!) ... I mean some nice sweet driver cuts me off.  Yet here is a guy who was locked up for three and half decades ... and he is not angry about it! If he is telling it like it really is - that …

Now That Is One Cancellation to Get Excited About!

Image
Due to this past weekend's snow storm (the biggest snow storm ever to hit Lancaster County in the month of December!), I experienced four major cancellations of important activities (at least they were important to me). Although I was glad for some unexpected time to slow down and catch my breath (at what is always a busy time of year), I was still disappointed about the cancellations.

One cancellation that I am NOT disappointed about is referenced by the Apostle Paul in Colossians2:13-14. There he writes the following:

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."

Wow! The Law of God which we have violated has been cancelled! And that is something to rejoice about because violating God's Law leads to the sentence of eternal cond…

Aliens on Earth!

Image
This morning my wife and I were talking about the various homes we have lived in across the course of our thirty-one and a half years of marriage. The briefest stay in any one home was about 11 months. That was our first apartment, located on the first floor of an apartment building at 1813 Arch Street in center city Philadelphia. Our longest stay has been ten years and two months. That was 109 Main Street in Refton (although in about a year, should we still be in our current residence it will become our longest stay). Now in between Arch Street and Main Street have been numerous other homes ( five, if I have my math correct). Really that is not all that many compared to some people, but a lot for others. But given the mobility of our society, it probably surprises none of you!

This reminds me of what the Bible calls us in 1 Peter 1:1 where Peter refers to his readers as "aliens,"  "strangers" or "sojourners." When it comes to this earthly life, that is e…

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful . . .

Image
The meteorologists are having a hay day -- or better said, a SNOW day! It always makes me chuckle about how much these weather forecasters get all excited about weather in general and big snow storms in particular! Well I must say they have done pretty well so far in forecasting this particular storm. As I write this posting, it is snowing fairly hard out there and we already have several inches on the ground. And the forecast I just viewed said the heaviest period of snow fall will be this afternoon into this evening! I guess that means we will be looking at well over a foot of snow before it is all over. Throw in some stiff winds that are forecast, and I am thinking that church services tomorrow will be only a dream! Of all Sundays (the Sunday before Christmas) to have to cancel! But I must remind myself that God is sovereign even over the weather. In Job 37:6 we read that God "says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth." So this snow storm is all part of God's providenc…

Security? What Do We Have to Fear?

Image
Harvey and Paula Darden of Hogansville, Georgia arrived at the White House for what they thought was a tour. Instead they were ushered into an invitation-only breakfast with the President. It seems that the Dardens showed up a day early for a tour that had been arranged by their congressman for his constituents. When they arrived, they went through all the routine screening of the Secret Service. When it became increasingly apparent to the couple that this was not their tour - they approached a White House staffer. After voicing their concerns, they were simply told to "just go with the flow." So they did and enjoyed a wonderful buffet breakfast and even had their picture taken with the Obamas (which they are still waiting to receive).

I chuckled as I read about this. What an experience for this couple! But at the same time I also grimaced. On the heels of the news of the D.C. socialites who crashed a recent state dinner, I had to ask myself, "What does this say about t…

It Will Be a Blue Christmas . . .

Image
The occurrence of depression is something that seems to spike around the holidays. And those who have gone through serious bouts of depression know that it can be quite life disrupting. According to current statistics, approximately 15-20% of Americans will go through a serious time of depression at some point in their lives. And no doubt ALL of us will go through significant bouts of discouragement throughout our life times. So what should we do? For serious cases of clinical depression, professional help is in order. If you think you might be suffering from clinical depression, a trip to your family physician would most certainly be in order. But what if you are not suffering from a clinical depression but you are experiencing "the blues." What steps can you take to rid yourself of discouragement?

Consider Psalm 13. In this psalm, King David is down in the dumps. This is clear from what he says in the first two verses. Then as he moves on, he gives the path we must walk if…

Wanted: A Car Thief!

Image
Yesterday, the Lancaster City Police Department began handing out citations to people who leave their cars unattended, unlocked and with the engine running. You know the routine. It's a cold morning. The windows are frosted over. So you run out to the car, start it up, and then run back into your warm house while your car warms up. The problem of course, is that would-be car thieves also know the routine. And this practice by many just makes it all that much easier for the crooks to drive off with a car (which in turn makes a lot more work for an already overworked police force!).So the police are hoping that the citation, along with a minimal fine, will be enough motivation to encourage people to forgo this unwise practice.

I guess for some people, the threat of a fine will be enough motivation to skip this routine. But my guess is that for others, they will take their chance on a ticket (or worse yet, on their car being stolen). Why? First off, we Americans love our personal com…

Black Ice and Common Sense!

Image
Wikipedia defines black ice (or sometimes it is referred to as "glare ice") as "ice frozen without many air bubbles trapped inside, making it highly transparent. This type of ice appears in the color of the material beneath it, often wet asphalt or a darkened pond. Because it may be difficult to detect, it presents a significant hazard to automotive traffic, pedestrians, and sailors."  Yesterday, black ice proved to be a major headache for many here in the Lancaster County area as rain began falling while some road surfaces were still at a temperature below the freezing mark. As a result, dozens of ice related accidents occurred, including one that resulted in a fatality.

Now if you have ever hit a patch of "black ice," you will know the terrible feeling of utter horror and helplessness as you feel your car begin to slide out of control. If you encounter it once, I will guarantee that you will slow down the next cold wet day we have - unless of course, yo…

A Thought for Your Weekend . . .

Image
A week ago yesterday, a homeowner in Ephrata, PA was awakened by her child, informing her that some stranger was asleep on their living room couch. After confirming her child's report, the startled  homeowner immediately called police who upon arrival arrested the 16 year old boy, charging him with trespassing and underage drinking. It seems that he was so intoxicated, that he wandered into the house and fell asleep on the sofa!

As I thought on this, the first question that came to my mind is, "How did he get in?" The fact that he was not charged with breaking and entering tells me that the door to the house was probably unlocked. If this was the case, it reminds me of how so often we leave the door to our heart unlocked. We allow sin to enter in and take up residence when we should be doing all we can to keep it out. Such sins as selfish ambition, pride, envy, jealousy, greed, bitterness, anger, etc. This leads me to the question: What have you allowed to take up reside…

Climategate and Integrity

Image
Recently a scandal involving the scientific community has hit the proverbial fan. Computer hackers broke into the computer system of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. The emails they uncovered seem to suggest a plot among the researchers there to hide the truth about recent changes in global temperatures. Now my purpose in bringing this to your attention is NOT to discuss global warming (or non global warming, depending upon your position). Rather I want to point out what the director of the research unit, Phil Jones had to say in defense of a rather condemning email. In the email he wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart detailing recent global temperatures. When called on the carpet, he claimed that he did not use the word "trick" to refer to an act of deception but merely as a "clever thing to do." Hmm. Really? I always thought the word trick carried the idea of deception. But I…

Frozen Tongue and Right Talk!

Image
I read a brief newspaper article yesterday morning that immediately transported me back to my days as a student at Melrose Elementary School in Harrisburg, PA. The story related the incident where a ten year old boy in Boise, Idaho got his tongue stuck on a frozen metal pole - most likely the result of a dare. (Sound familiar? If you have ever seen the classic movie, A Christmas Story - you will have to shake your head "yes!" - see adjacent photo). Back in my elementary school days, on a frigid winter morning, a student was dared to lick the metal hand rail on the stairs leading up to the school's main entrance (just so you know, I was neither the boy who licked the metal hand rail, nor the boy who issued the dare - in fact, I was no where near this unfortunate incident - really!). The boy was not one to turn his back on a dare and he licked and immediately his tongue froze to the hand rail! The police and EMT's came and the boy was finally freed from the hand rails …

While on Vacation . . .

Image
I am currently enjoying some time off. I will be back in the office on Thursday. Until then, just a brief thought that hit me yesterday (Monday). My wife, Sharon and I were eating breakfast at a Hampton Inn in Williamsburg, VA. The table at which we were seated overlooked the hotel's indoor pool. I commented to Sharon about the stillness of the pool's surface. In her reply she used the word "undisturbed." Undisturbed. That will one day be our experience ALL THE TIME! Our soul will be at perfect rest, undisturbed by anything external or internal! But for now ... there are those times of rest when God gives us an undisturbed soul - if even only for a moment. Take some time to "stop striving" (Psalm 46:10) and rest in God's presence today. Ask him for a time of peace ... a time when your heart and soul is undisturbed in His presence.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Laugh a Little!

Image
According to research, laughter is very good for you! Life is too short and too hard to never laugh. Take a moment and consider the following benefits of laughter:


Physical Health Benefits:
Boosts immunity Lowers stress hormones Decreases pain Relaxes your muscles Prevents heart diseaseMental Health Benefits:
Adds joy and zest to life Eases anxiety and fear Relieves stress Improves mood Enhances resilienceSocial Benefits:
Strengthens relationships Attracts others to us Enhances teamwork Helps defuse conflict Promotes group bonding 
Given these benefits ... I decided to post the following Muppet Youtube video in hopes you will laugh a little - I certainly did when I first viewed this clip. Enjoy!





Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tiger's Confession

Image
As I write this, Tiger Woods, undoubtedly the world's highest paid athlete and probably the most famous as well, has just gone public with a statement in which he says that he has let his family down and regrets “transgressions” he has committed. Since his early morning accident over this past weekend, allegations have surfaced that he has had affairs with several women. Now at this point, only Tiger knows the answer to the questions "Who?" and "How many?" and perhaps in time those answers will be revealed by the relentless investigation of the media. All this to say, Tiger's squeaky clean image is now tarnished. And whether his marriage will survive is hard to say at this point.

A verse from Proverbs came to my mind as I thought about Tiger Wood's current situation. In Proverbs 22:1 we read that "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."  Tiger has a lot of "silver and gold," bu…

4 Cops Slain! Why?

Image
Why? That was a question I asked myself when I heard about the assassination of four Seattle area police officers this past Sunday morning. The four were just beginning their shifts, working on their laptops at a local coffee shop. In walked Maurice Clemmons. He pulled out a gun and shot each of the four. In the struggle with one of the officers, Clemmons was apparently shot in his abdomen. He ran for two days before he was finally shot by police in a standoff in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

This story saddens me for many reasons. For starters, I feel for the families of the slain officers. I believe all were married with children still at home. As a result of one mad man's senseless act, wives are left without husbands and children are now fatherless. That not only saddens me - it angers me! Something else that angers me is the revelation that the shooter had been given clemency in 2000 by the then governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. He had been sent to prison for a teen…

Hell? No!

Image
In a survey released just a little over a year ago by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, just 59% of 35,000 respondents said they believe in a hell "where people who have led bad lives, and die without being sorry, are eternally punished." And this is down from 71% who said they believed in hell as reported in a 2001 Gallup poll. As I reflected on this finding concerning hell, the following thoughts came to mind:

1. I was not surprised that belief in hell is waning. For starters, who among us like to think about a place where people suffer terribly for all eternity - yet alone believe that such a place actually exists?

2. The Enemy would like nothing better to ease people's fear of any eternal judgment to come. Why should anyone run to Jesus for salvation if, at the end of the day, everyone eventually goes to heaven any way? (by the way 74% of the same respondents believe in heaven)

3. The growing disbelief in hell corresponds with the growing belief in God as …