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Showing posts from April, 2010

Take Some Time for This Rhyme!

Someone sent me the following youtube video. In just 1 minute and 42 seconds, this follower of Christ cuts to the quick and gets to the bottom line! You talk about giving the gospel in a creative way - wow! Please take a moment to view the video ... you won't be disappointed!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Alternate Routes to God?

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"Do people of other faiths have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven?" This is a question that I have been asked on more than one occasion. In fact, it's a question that all pastors face. Yesterday, I ran across a solid, biblical and down-to-earth answer that I thought would be good to pass along to you. The answer is given by Kevin DeYoung, a pastor from Michigan and an author of several books.


"Do people of other faiths have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven?"
“That’s a huge question. On one level it’s hard to answer because it feels like a trap. ‘Will he or won’t he condemn everyone to hell?’ Well, it’s not my place to give the final evaluation for anyone. And I don’t want to sit here and say that I deserve to go to heaven more than someone else.

“Because the fact of the matter is none of us can merit heaven. God is holy and we are not. No matter how sincere we are or how many good things we do, we can’t begin to approach the purity and perfection of …

It Ain't Mayberry Anymore!

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I have spent the past two days in Carlisle, PA for police chaplain's training sponsored by the International Conference of Police Chaplains. One of the points the instructor wanted to impress upon us was just how much police work has changed from a generation or so ago. He did so by showing us a couple of segments of the Andy Griffith Show (which aired from 1960-1968). The show features Andy Griffith as the sheriff of the small fictional town of Mayberry, NC. Sheriff Andy is assisted by his bumbling deputy, Barney Fife (played by the natural comedian, Don Knotts). In contrast to the work of law enforcement in this tranquil town (where the worst crime is shoplifting and the sheriff does not even wear a firearm) is the violence that police officers face today. To drive this contrast home, the instructor showed a video (shot from the dash cam of a police cruiser) in which the driver of a pickup truck that was stopped, pulled out a rifle and shot the officer 27 times. It was a disturb…

A Solid Reminder of One Solitary Life

I ran across the following Youtube video about Jesus Christ. Take a moment (1:46 to be exact) to watch and worship our Lord!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Teen Texting on the Rise ... and the Impact on Relationships Will Be???

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A new poll by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals that cell phones have become the preferred means of communication among American teens. According to the poll's findings, 75% of U.S. teens now have a cell phone ... and for 54% of them, texting is the preferred way of communicating with friends. And this trend will probably only grow.

This leads me to this question: In the long term, will all the communicating we do via technology hinder or help the quality of our relationships? I wonder. If so much of interpersonal communication involves body language and tone of voice --- how does these come across via a text message (or an email)? Hey, I am one who is quick to fire off a text or email to communicate with a friend or family member. But if I want to really communicate with someone concerning an important matter, I will do my best to do so face-to-face. So all this to say ... go ahead - use your cell phones to text and your computers to email.…

Why?

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"Why?" is a question we learn to ask from "the get go!" "Daddy, why is the sky blue?"  "Mommy, why do fish live in water?" "Grandma, why do birds eat worms?" And on and on and on it goes. When we reach adulthood, we are still asking our Heavenly Father the "Why?" question. But now it is a bit more sophisticated. "Father, why did uncle Joe die of cancer?"  "God, why did that drunk driver crash into my friends Kyle and Sue, killing them both?" "Why did my husband lose his job?" And on and on and on it goes.

Now unlike the "Why" questions of childhood, we often cannot answer the "Why" questions of adulthood. Of course, we can point at some contributing factors behind what happens (like the danger of driving while intoxicated or the need of a company to downsize in order to survive). But these don't totally answer our "Why's." As followers of Jesus, we need to le…

Judgment's Coming!

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It was a cold January morning when police informant Mary Johnson was found lying outsider her home having been shot multiple times in the back. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital. But before dying, she was able to identify her killer to investigators. Now a judge must rule if that confession will be admissible in the case against the defendant, "Squeeze" Williams (who had threatened Johnson's life the day before her killing). More specifically, the judge must determine if Johnson's words can be considered a "dying declaration." If so, her fingering of Williams will be allowed, as the courts have ruled in the past that statements by a person who knows he or she is dying can be admitted as evidence in court, based on the contention that most people do not lie when they are facing their own death.

Now that's interesting! People are more prone to tell the truth if they know they are about to die. Why is that? Is it perhaps because they are thi…

Jesus Our Advocate

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When Jesus returned to heaven some 2000 years ago, he did not go to just sit around the halls of glory. No - he is our advocate. And as such, He is ACTIVE on our behalf. Yesterday I ran across the following prayer about Jesus Christ and his advocacy on our behalf. It was written by a pastor from Tennessee named Scotty Smith (what a great last name, don't you think?). It is a powerful prayer!

"Most loving Lord Jesus, this scene in Stephen's costly discipleship profoundly underscores what a wonderful, merciful and engaged Savior you really are. At the climax of his stoning he sees you standing at the right hand of the Father--rising for the very occasion of his greatest challenge, and soon to be realized death. Oh indeed, you are the Good Shepherd who cares, not the wicked hireling who disregards the plight of your lambs...

May this image supplant every wrong notion I've ever had about you "sitting at the right hand of the Father." Your "sitting" doesn…

Delays

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On my journey back from Indiana the other day, I hit a potential problem when "signing in" at the self-serve Delta computer kiosk at the Fort Wayne airport. After entering all my info, viewing my itinerary and confirming that I was not checking any luggage, the computer screen issued the message, "Please see agent."  "OK," I wondered, "What's up?" So I walked up to the counter and gave my info to the agent. She worked on her computer and then informed me that there was a problem with my flight from Detroit to Harrisburg. My first thought was "Oh no, it's canceled!" But before the anxiety of spending an unwanted night in Detroit could really fill my heart - she added. "Your flight is delayed." Now that is not what I wanted to hear at that point. I was tired and I was still not feeling well (I eventually went to see my doctor yesterday - diagnosis: sinus infection). I just wanted to get home. And given that I had a 45-5…

The Prayers of the Purtians

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The Puritans were an influential group of English protestants who lived during the 16th and 17th centuries. They have left behind a body of literature that impacts Christianity to this day. One of my favorite books is a book titled, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. I like to read a prayer each day .... and use the prayer to focus my heart, soul and mind upon God. And these prayers do just that because these Puritans knew their God! (just reading a few prayers will show the reader that these Puritans had none of the silly thoughts about God that some modern writers today do). The other day, as I prayed through one of the prayers of this book, I came to the following lines that really spoke to my soul. I therefore, share them with you in the hopes they will also encourage your heart. 

"Let me not be at my own disposal, but rejoice that I am under the care of one who is too wise to err, too kind to injure, too tender to crush. Help me to guide my af…

On Being Responsible

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Last week I received a phone call from the Dean of Grace Seminary. After exchanging a few "Hello's" and "How are you's?" he then said, "John can I ask you for a HUGE favor?" (and he really emphasized the word "huge").  He then proceeded to ask me if I could "if at all possible" (I heard this as "please say "Yes" to what I am about to ask you because I am DESPERATE!") if I could travel to Grace this week for an important meeting with a team from the Association of Theological Schools. The team is on campus this week for an accreditation visit. He needed me as a member of the board to be present at that meeting. So I checked my date book and saw that there was nothing that would keep me from saying "yes" to his request. So today I am in lovely Winona Lake, Indiana, fulfilling my responsibility as a Grace College and Seminary Board member. God willing, I will be back home tonight.

Responsibilities. No…

Life is Short! Don't Waste It in Trivial Pursuits!

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How short is our life? The Scripture tells us that our life is like "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14). Wow! That's brief!!  Just today I ran across another metaphor that helps us get a grip on just how short are lives really are ... especially against the backdrop of eternity. This metaphor involves the Mayfly. If we were Mayflies, our lives would look something like this:

- Born, 7 AM
- Reach our teens, 8:57 AM
- Have kids, between 10 AM and Noon
- Reach 50th birthday, 2:30 PM
- Retire - 4:30 PM
- Die at age 80, 7 PM

Friends, talk about a "here today and gone tomorrow" sort of existence - that is you and me! In light of this, let's get intentional about the exhortation given to us by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:15-16a when he writes, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A Prayer to Be Prayed!

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Yesterday, I attended a stewardship of leadership meeting. As part of that meeting, we prayed a prayer that I needed to pray ... not just yesterday, but I believe I could benefit from praying this prayer EVERY day! We live in such a fast moving world - and I am in definite need of God's help to SLOW DOWN! Here is the prayer:

Prayer for a Peaceful Spirit
Please, Lord, slow me down, ease my pounding heart, quiet my racing mind, steady my hurried steps.  Amidst the confusion of my days, grant me the calmness of Your peace.  Help me to know the truly restoring gift of sleep.  Teach me the art of taking time off, to slow down to see the beauty of Your creation, to chat with a friend, to read a few lines from a good book ... or from THE GOOD BOOK.  Remind me each day, that there is more to life than increasing its speed, it is living, each moment, with You and for You.  Let me look upwards into the branches of a towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and wel…

Getting Rid of Extra Baggage!

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Spirit Airlines is a small airline based in Florida (Spirit has less than two dozen planes and its 150 daily flights are about one-twentieth the flights offered by American Airlines). Given its size, I am guessing many of you have never heard of it ... let alone flown on it. But Spirit Airlines will begin doing something no other airline has yet to attempt. Starting August 1st, Spirit will begin charging for carry-on luggage. So if your carry-on must be stowed in the overhead bins, you will be charged $45 (if paid at the gate, $30 if paid in advance). If your carry-on can be stowed under the seat it will fly free! In defending this move, Spirit claims it will be dropping most base fares an average of about $40. Therefore, most passengers will not have to pay any more to fly even when paying for their carry-on.

If you have done any flying recently, you know that when the airlines began charging for checked baggage (anywhere from $20 on up per bag per way), passengers made changes in ho…

Sex is Holy!

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A young British couple were arrested and sentenced to one month in jail for kissing in a restaurant. It all happened in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Even though much of the very conservative social codes in cosmopolitan Dubai have been relaxed, officials there still enforce a strict decency code. And kissing in public there is considered indecent!

What a difference from here in our country where far more than just kissing is seen (or suggested) openly on prime time television and in films on the silver screen. Our society is a sex-saturated society! For those of us who are followers of Christ, we are called to a very high standard when it comes to sexuality. Given the pressure of our sex-crazed culture, we need to be reminded of this standard on a regular basis. One of the clearest statements of this standard comes to us from 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 where the Apostle Paul writes,

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4th…

Truth SADDER than Fiction?

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During our family lunch together on Easter Sunday, my son related to me a story he had heard about a couple in South Korea who neglected their baby while playing a video game. Their neglect was to such an extent that their infant died of malnutrition. Wanting to learn more of the details of this case, I found an article on the BBC News site that was posted in early March. According to the BBC report, "The pair fed their own premature baby just once a day in between 12-hour stretches at an internet cafe." The BBC article goes on to say that an investigating officer reported that the couple "lost their will to live a normal life after losing their jobs and they indulged themselves online to escape from reality." Unbelievable? But wait, I am not done yet. The BBC also reported that the video game they were playing was all about nurturing a virtual girl called Anima. Ouch! Here was a couple raising a virtual daughter online while their living baby in the real world s…

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Fact or Fraud? (part 2)

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Yesterday I posted the first two of four lines of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fatal torment: Jesus really did die.
Empty tomb: His tomb was and is still - empty!

Today I will offer two more: 

Appearances:  Jesus appeared to dozens of people after his resurrection. In fact, on one occasion he appeared to 500 individuals. In 1 Corinthians 15:6 the apostle Paul states concerning the resurrected Jesus that "he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living..."  This is significant for two reasons. First, if the experiences of the eye witnesses to the resurrected Jesus could be attributed to hallucinations, isn't it striking that 500 people all had the same hallucination at the same time? Also, Paul makes it quite clear that some of these eye witnesses were still living at the time he wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians. What Paul was saying to his readers was this, "If you don't believe me, contact…

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Fact or Fraud?

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As I mentioned in yesterday's posting, I want to briefly overview the evidence for the resurrection with you. For either the resurrection of Christ is a terrible FRAUD ... or it is a life-changing FACT. It cannot be both. And as I have considered the evidence, I believe it powerfully points toward the latter ... that it is a FACT of time-space history which speaks to the power of God to accomplish such a feat! Today I will examine the first two of four lines of evidence for the resurrection. To help you remember these, I will use the acrostic "F.E.A.T." (which was developed by Hank Hanegraff of the Christian Research Institute).

Fatal torment: It is vital to prove that Jesus Christ actually suffered to such an extent that he died, for the obvious reason that one must be dead before one can be resurrected. But this is vitally important for another reason. One line of argument that has been leveled against the resurrection down through the centuries is the belief that Jesu…