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Showing posts from February, 2010

Some Comments about the Movie, Avatar

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Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and a prolific Christian author, is not shy about speaking out about his faith. Here is a brief video clip on what he had to say recently about the movie Avatar, the highest grossing movie in history. Perhaps you have seen it ... and perhaps you have not (I have not). But whatever the case, I would encourage you to take a moment and listen to Driscoll's comments:




Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A Painful Faith

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Yesterday morning I was writing in my prayer journal (I had picked up the journal I am using at Barnes and Nobles about a month ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find it there, as I was shopping with a Christmas gift card). On the journal's cover is written the words of Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  As soon as I saw those words on the journal's cover, I knew I had the journal I was looking for! That verse has meant so much to me over the years! In addition to this verse on the cover, inside on every-other-page another verse is printed. So the journal from start to finish contains God's Word! Yes!

As I finished up my journal entry yesterday and went to place the journal down, I noticed the following in fine print on the inside cover: "Printed in China." That struck me as quite the irony. Here is this overtly Christian journal, containing about 100 verses of Scripture, being printed in China, a coun…

And the Winner Is . . .

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When it comes to playing games, I don't view myself as being all that competitive. But if you were to ask my wife, she would beg to disagree. And you know, I think she's probably right. You see, I don't like to lose. It does not matter if we are talking Wii frisbee golf or a good old fashioned game of dominoes. I really do not like losing. Now I would guess that I am like most people in this. If we were to have a choice, most of us would much rather be on the winning side vs. the losing side -  no matter what the competition might happen to be.

That is why I am glad that God in His grace brought me into His family. That puts me on the "winning side." What I mean by this can be explained by a story I once heard. A church custodian was working one day near the pastor's office. The pastor was busy preparing a sermon on the Book of Revelation. The pastor, curious as to what the custodian thought about the Book of Revelation, asked him his opinion on the book. In…

Being Intentional

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Yesterday I spent some time on a monthly ritual that I do toward the end of every month. It's called "balancing the check book." At one time I used to hate going through this. Often when I would get to the end of the process, I would discover that I would be off anywhere from a few pennies to MANY dollars! Oh the time I would then spend trying to find my mistake (or mistakes!). Now - that has all changed as I do my checking on the computer. It is rare that my balance does not read zeroes when I am done. And even those few times when I am off, it is very easy to locate where I went wrong. I am SO grateful for my Quickbooks!

Believe it or not, I know of some people who never bother to balance their check book (and then are surprised when a check is returned for "insufficient funds"). Balancing one's check book is just one of those necessary tasks (if we want to keep our household finances in order). In a similar manner, there are some necessary tasks if we wa…

An "Oops" that Hurts!

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Jorge Villanueva was under medical care for an ulcer on his right foot. When doctors realized that the infection was beginning to spread, they decided they would have to amputate the foot. However, after the surgery was over, they made the discovery that they had amputated the wrong foot. At that point, they had no choice but go back into surgery and amputate the right foot (which was the RIGHT foot). Now, 86 year old Jorge has been left footless - due to a horrible human error.

Mistakes. All of us make them. None of us go through even a day totally and absolutely "mistake free!" Sure, some mistakes (like the one above) are bigger than others and bring quite painful consequences. Others though, are much less significant. Sure these errors might irritate others (or bring frustration to ourselves) - but not much beyond that. All this to say: we need to learn to "grace" others when they happen to make mistakes (now if sin is involved, then other steps might be necessa…

Rapture Insurance for Fluffy?

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The other day my office manager sent me a link to a web site where a Christian can obtain "rapture insurance" for their pet(s). That's right! The web site, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA: The next best thing to pet salvation in a post rapture world, offers to care for the pets of Christians who are raptured to heaven (it is staffed with certified atheists so Christians can rest assured they will be left behind to watch out for their pets). For a fee of $110 (good for ten years), you can go to sleep at night knowing that if Jesus returns while you are sleeping, then your little Fluffy or Spot will not be left alone to starve but given a loving home. (I know this sounds far fetched, but here's the web address for you to check it out: www.eternal-earthbound-pets.com.

Now when I read this, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. I do hold to the conviction that Jesus Christ will one day return to rapture (take up) His Church to heaven. I also believe that once that event…

A Fast Start for the American Olympic Team

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After three full days of the Winter Olympics, the United States Olympic team stands on top of the medal count. Will the U.S. remain on top when the Olympics are all said and done will have to be seen. But for now, we can enjoy the success of our athletes.

Now this success Olympic athletes enjoy does not come cheaply. These athletes have worked extremely hard to prepare for their respective events (I heard that one cross country skier actually logged thousands of miles on his skis preparing for the Olympic games). What motivates these men and women to make such sacrifice? It is their dream of Olympic gold! This is what drives them on, day after day, putting up with pain - so that one day they might gain a place on the medals podium!Yet, this moment in the spotlight does not last, does it?  The fame that comes with a gold medal is here today and gone tomorrow. We as followers of Christ are also in a race (see Hebrews 12:1-2). But the reward for winning our race is not momentary - it is …

A Whale of a Meal!

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Yesterday, my wife and I took in an IMAX movie at Harrisburg's Whitaker Center. The film, titled Dolphins and Whales was a fascinating 3-D look into the underwater world of some of the better known species of dolphins and whales. Among the whales featured was the Fin Whale. This whale is second only to the Blue Whale in size. Adult males can reach a length of 88 feet and a weight of 70 tons. You can imagine it takes a lot of food to fill that frame and sure enough, Fin Whales consume up to two tons of small fish each day.You talk about a meal! Wow!

Just like a Fin Whale, I enjoy eating. Granted I don't eat anything close to 2 tons of food in a day, but I am sure there are many days when I eat more than I need. So I must exercise self control in eating lest I gain too much weight. But it does require self control because I like the way most food tastes (brussel sprouts and asparagus are a couple of items on my "I do not like" list!). Think about it. Isn't it amazi…

Another sNOw storm on the way?

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I couldn't (or perhaps better said, "wouldn't") believe my eyes this morning when I first glanced at the morning's paper. "Forecaster says 6-12 inches possible early in the week."  Yea! Just what most of us want - more of the white stuff! (I can't help but think even the snow lovers among us might just be getting a bit "snow weary" by now?). In regards to this upcoming storm, I recall one of WGAL's (the NBC affiliate here in Lancaster) weathermen looking ahead to this storm and saying, "Early next week this little clipper system will be passing to our south ... not much to worry about with that."  I am convinced that he probably thought that might be the case ... but I am also convinced that he knew he could not be sure. All he was doing was telling us sick-of-snow viewers what we wanted to hear!

As a pastor who has the opportunity to teach the Word of God to the people of God most Sundays, there exists the temptation when ha…

A Monstrous Task!

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Twice in the past week I have stood in the open doorway of my garage and looked down on my driveway, wondering how I would ever move the mountain of snow that covered it? (Especially given the fact that my snow blower has been acting more like a snow catcher of late!) Well the answer, I discovered was quite simple: one shovel full at a time. Sure it took a lot of "shovel fulls" - but I did manage to get the job done. In all, over four feet of snow removed! All I can say is - I'm glad the sun is shining brightly today!

Now how I went about removing this obscene amount of snow - is the same way we must tackle any mountain that we face in life: one step at a time. Sure, it would be easy to allow the magnitude of the task to overwhelm us. In the wake of these huge snow falls, I could have very well thrown up my hands in resignation and returned to the warmth of my home. But, no. I knew what had to be done and so I went about doing it. Focusing on one shovel full at a time!

S…

Enough!

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My wife and I are really enjoying being grandparents. Our grandbaby just passed the 9 month mark. She is crawling, standing, waving, making animal noises and much more. Soon she will begin to talk. And when she does, I am sure she will very soon learn the word "more."  Little children, when they find something they like - whether it be some sort of food or having a favorite book read to them - they often like to have more. And they let you know it.

Now I know what I am about to say might offend some of you out there. But I am going to say it anyway because I believe the vast majority of you will be with me in this. I want NO MORE snow!  My arms and my back ache from all the shoveling I have had to do this past week (my snow blower is not working which is forcing me to do all my snow removal by hand). So ... if not another flake of snow were to fall this winter season -  I would be one happy and satisfied man! HOWEVER, that does not appear to be the case. I checked out the bl…

The Blizzard of 2010

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It's now official. The National Weather Service just issued a blizzard warning for Lancaster County (and other adjacent counties). Here is the criteria that a winter storm must meet to be labeled as a blizzard: "Winds of at least 35 mph (frequent gusts are generally considered to qualify), and visibility reduced by falling and/or blowing snow to less than 1/4 mile. The strict application is for the wind and visibility criteria to be met for at least three consecutive hours."

So there you have it. Stay home. Stay safe. And spend some quality time with your Master and your family. And don't forget ... the official start of spring is only 38 days away!

And as you look at the beauty of the snow, remember what God does for us through the gospel: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). Our sins are forgiven and our souls are clean!  Praise Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

An Honest Attempt at "Silence and Solitude"

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Yesterday was the day I was supposed to leave for a three day, two night personal retreat. One in which I was going to do a lot of praying, some planning and make a grand attempt at practicing the twin spiritual disciplines or practices of "silence and solitude." However, due to the weather (and if you live anywhere near Lancaster you do not need me to elaborate on that!), I decided to stay close to home. Therefore, after spending yesterday morning on certain projects and errands, I set aside the afternoon to practice some silence and solitude. Here's how the afternoon went:

12:30 - retired to my basement study, turned on the heat and sat under a blanket on my comfortable Ikea chair. The only noise to invade the quiet around me was an occasional howl of wind rattling a nearby window
12:32 - I scanned four different books by three different authors on the topics of silence and solitude (S&S)
1:35 - I closed the final book and spend some time reflecting on what I read

"Super" Weekend ... Super Story!

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This past weekend was super in more than one way. Of course, there was the Super Bowl which is the most watched sporting event in the United States and possibly the world (I had a friend call me from France at half time to discuss the first half - it was about 2 AM there and French television was broadcasting the game). In addition to the Super Bowl ... we had the Super Storm of 2010, part one (I added the part one because there is another storm headed our way for Tuesday-Wednesday that could dump more substantial snow on top of the two feet of snow we already have. I sure hope you snow lovers are happy!!).

During the first quarter of the SB, the much discussed Tim Tebow ad promoting life was aired. My first response was, "Is that it?" I must admit I thought the ad was a bit "lame." But this morning I went to Focus on the Family's web site (as the ad encouraged viewers to do) to see the rest of the Tebow story. I was not disappointed. In fact, I would encourage…

Fidelity and Marriage

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Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina was a rising star in the Republican party. Many believed him to be a viable candidate to run for president. But Sanford's star crashed and burned when it came to light last year that he was involved in a torrid love affair with a woman from Argentina. His affair was exposed after he was hard pressed to explain a five day absence (he had told his staff he went hiking on the Appalachian Trail when in reality he was visiting his lover in Argentina). After a tearful public confession (in which he seemed more remorseful about being caught than being unfaithful to his wife) his wife, Jenny  filed for divorce and has taken the couple's four sons and moved out of the governor's mansion.

Now I mention this because of what Jenny Sanford has just revealed in an interview with Barbara Walters (scheduled for ABC's 20/20 to be aired tonight). In the interview she tells Walters that when she and the Governor were married, he did not want to i…

Snow: Appearances Can Be Deceiving!

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Those who are snow lovers among us are right now just loving our current weather pattern (which by the way is forecast to be with us for the foreseeable future). A cold High pressure system in Canada is pushing waves of arctic cold our way. At the same time an active southern branch of the jet stream is generating storms. And when those storms from the south collide with the arctic cold over us, bingo! - you get snow, and sometimes lots of it! Our snow of Tuesday night is just a foretaste of the snow that weather forecasters is saying is on the way! As I write this posting, Accuweather.com is looking at the probability of a substantial snow storm hitting us this coming Friday into Saturday ... with another possibly arriving in our neighborhood next Tuesday. Well, what can we say? It is February. And historically, February is the snowiest month for southeastern Pennsylvania! So for those of us who are growing weary of shoveling our driveways ... we can either pay someone to do it .. or…

A Groundhog Disagreement and Hope!

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In case you missed the big news of yesterday, here it is: The groundhogs are at odds. That's right! The well known Groundhog Day weather forecasters (Punxsutawney Phil, Octoraro Orphie and Staten Island Chuck) were NOT unanimous on whether or not we will see an early spring. Phil saw his shadow while Orphie and Chuck did not. So ... according to the groundhogs, we have a 66% chance of seeing an early spring. With more cold and snow in our short term forecast, I sure hope Orphie and Chuck are right!

Of course, these long range meteorological forecasts by these well known groundhogs are actually quite groundless! I am sure given the fact that Groundhog Day falls on the second day of February each year, that odds are pretty good that we will see another 6 weeks of winter type weather. That's just the way of the climate in these parts (but having said that, I am still holding out that the Orphie and Chuck are right). You see, I can HOPE that Orphie and Chuck are right and that we …

A Follow Up ... Tim Tebow and Tolerance

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Last Thursday I posted some thoughts on the University of Florida senior quarterback, Tim Tebow. Arguably one of the best college quarterbacks to ever play the game. I made reference to an upcoming pro-life Super Bowl commercial that features Tim Tebow. It's not surprising to me that Tebow agreed to appear in the ad. He has never been one to shrink from speaking out and standing up for what he believes. What is surprising to me is what a pro-choice female staff writer of the Washington Post had to say about Tebow and his upcoming ad. It's worth your read! Just go to the following link for the article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102067.html

I praise God that there are young men like Tim Tebow willing to raise up the flag of Jesus Christ! May his tribe increase!

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj