PJ

PJ

Friday, May 28, 2010

Living by the Book!

Single mother and Wal-Mart employee Heather Ravenstein did what she thought she had to do - stop a shoplifter from stealing a $600 computer. The suspect had set off an alarm when he exited the store without paying for the computer. Ravenstein went after him. When she caught up with him (he was walking somewhat briskly), she asked him to see the receipt for the computer. When he ignored her request, she grabbed the computer. After a brief tussle, he let go of the box and ran off. Yea Heather Ravenstein! You foiled the attempts of a would-be shoplifter, thus saving Wal-Mart (and really all of us in the long run, as costs associated with shoplifting are passed on to us the consumer) money!

But wait! Not so fast. The next day, Ravenstein was fired by Wal-Mart. According to a spokesman for the giant retailer, Wal-Mart has a policy that clearly states that only a manager or someone in asset protection is to try to stop a customer from stealing. This policy is in place to protect both employees and customers. Wal-Mart views this so seriously that to violate this policy leads to immediate termination. Ravenstein claimed that she was unaware of the policy - but that was irrelevant as far as Wal-Mart was concerned.

Now I must admit when I first read of this incident, I was a bit peeved at Wal-Mart. Here is this huge corporation firing a single mom and all she did was stop a shoplifter. But, after hearing of their policy (which does make a lot of sense when you think about it), my anger toward Wal-Mart abated. Now as to whose fault it is that Ravenstein did not know about the policy - if indeed she is telling the truth - whether Wal-Mart for not clearly communicating this policy with employees or Ravenstein for not paying attention to clearly stated store policies - I don't know. But this incident does remind me of our relationship to God's Word. In the Word, God lays out His will for our lives. He gives us clear instruction on what we are to value and how we are to live. He wants us to live life by the Book - His Book! So ... to do this, we must KNOW the Book (we cannot obey and practice what we do not know). One day ... we will have to give an account to God as to how we lived our lives in light of the Book. Claiming ignorance of the Book will not acceptable on that Day. So ... that leads me to the question: have you been in the Book today?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Brother is Watching!

In an attempt to curb increasing crime rates in urban areas, a growing number of municipalities are adding surveillance cameras to their downtown streets. This has many libertarians quite upset. "It is an infringement upon a person's privacy," they protest. Many claim it is unconstitutional (although I am not a constitutional scholar, I don't think the right to privacy is actually a right mentioned in the Constitution). But in spite of protests, the cameras are there ... and being used quite effectively.

Now it is not my purpose to argue the pros and cons of such cameras (although my view is if you don't have anything to hide, what's the problem with the cameras?). I do want to remind all of us that all the cameras could be removed and we would STILL be under surveillance. Scripture tells us that "the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). So it does not matter whether "Big Brother is watching" - unless, of course, you are committing a crime! But it does matter that God is watching!  So as you go about your day today ... remember these words: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Neglect Your Family and Friends!

Monday was my day off. I spent the day cultivating relationships that are important to me. I had breakfast with my oldest sister (who lives in Etters, PA in northern York County). I went to a late morning showing of Iron Man 2 with my son and then grabbed a late lunch with him at Burger King. I came home to spend time with my granddaughter who my wife was babysitting. Then that evening, I was with my wife, our two daughters, their spouses, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter (my son had to work) as we enjoyed talking over pizza at my oldest daughter's house. I wrapped up the day watching the final episode of Lost with my wife (see yesterday's post). All-in-all, it was a very good, satisfying day!

Family and friends. So important. But in our busy, fast paced lives, it is far too easy to overlook those who are (or should be) important to us. I believe all of us could to a better job at cultivating life's important relationships. It is the depth of relationships that will go a long way toward making or breaking our enjoyment of life. One of my favorite movies is the film, It's a Wonderful Life. At its conclusion, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) looks at a copy of the book, Tom Sawyer, left for him by the angel Clarence. Inside the book's cover, Clarence had written the following words: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." Friends and family are gifts God gives to us. Let's not abuse these gifts through neglect or mistreatment of any kind. Rather let's determine to practice Proverbs 17:17 which reads, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Series Finale of "Lost"

I don't watch many TV shows. Apart from some newscasts and sporting events, I usually limit myself to watching one (or at most two) television series with any regularity. The one I have followed in recent years has been ABC's Lost. Those of you who are fellow "Lost-ers" have probably by now viewed the final episode of Lost (my wife and I viewed it last night as we were unable to see it live on Sunday evening). As the show concluded, I was trying to figure it all out and decide on whether or not I liked it (my wife informed me immediately that she indeed liked how it ended). Guess what ... I am still unsure of how I feel about the series' conclusion. But as I think on this (and trust me, I won't spend much more time on this) ... here are some thoughts:

1. For me, the series finale left too many questions unanswered, too many details unexplained. For example, we know how Jack died, but how did the others die? And why wouldn't Ben Linus enter the church for the closing scene ... and what ever happened to the island?  As I posed these questions to my wife, she reminded me that really - that is true to life. Many of our questions about life remain unanswered - and details unexplained. There are a lot of loose ends in life - Lost was no different.

2. The finale led viewers into the "after life." Yea! I thought! At least the writers got that part right. There is an "after life" for all of us, as the Scripture states clearly, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So there is an "after that" to life. The writers got that! (but they missed the judgment part!).

3. What I will miss most about the series is the characters. The writers did a wonderfully creative job of telling the stories of the various people who made up the cast. I felt that I had become friends with all of them. This reminds me of how important relationships are to me (and this is no surprise given that God created us in HIS image ... and He is a relational being (think "Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and so we are relational beings.) Therefore, I need to give more weight to the significant relationships in my life.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, May 21, 2010

Now That's Weird!

I've read some odd news stories in my life, but one recently might have taken the proverbial cake! The headline read, "Lord Jesus Christ hit by car in Massachusetts." The story went on to give the account of a 50 year old man who was struck by a car in Northampton, Mass. The man gave his name to police as "Lord Jesus Christ." When officers checked his ID, sure enough that was indeed his legal name. Ouch! I don't know if this man was given this name at birth or if he changed his name legally to "Lord Jesus Christ" (probably the latter is more likely). But in either case this is very strange! Certainly someone was/is trying to make some kind of statement. But exactly what? I have no idea!

But this leads me to ask you a question to "chew on" today. What kind of statement are you making with your life? The choices you make? The words you speak? The values you embrace? The schedule you keep? Think about it ... you might need to make some changes!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gracing Others

Michael Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback (and now a Philadelphia Eagle) who was convicted of running a dog fighting ring and sent to prison has been in the news quite a bit here in Lancaster. He was in town two weeks ago to speak at a local charity fundraiser. His presence got many people upset.And some are still "fighting mad!". One individual wrote a letter to the editor of the Lancaster paper, published just this morning. It's headline grabbed my attention. It read, "Vick does not deserve a second chance." I got to thinking about that and it struck me: WHO among us does? Really do I ... do you deserve a second chance? Especially when it comes to our standing before God. The Bible is clear: the only thing we deserve from God's hand is judgment. But God who is rich in mercy and love offers us a second chance. Not just once but over and over and over again! That's called grace! God giving to us what we in NO WAY deserve! And as God graces us ... we need to learn to grace others. Because offering others grace is part of what being like Jesus is all about!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Life Brings Pain

This is indeed a sad world in which we live. Far too often, we experience pain. It may be physical, financial, emotional, relational or spiritual in nature. But no matter how it manifests itself ... it hurts. And there are times the pain pierces us to the very core of our souls.

So when this occurs, how can we cope? How can we "keep on keeping on" with the demands of life. It's tough putting in your eight hours on the job when your life is falling apart around you. Recently I ran across the following words in a book I am reading (a book that I would label as one of the best books I have read recently!). Please take a moment and read through Kevin DeYoung's remarks:

"He (God) will turn to good whatever adversity He sends me. The Bible is not naive about suffering. Trusting in God's provision does not mean we expect to float to heaven on flowery beds of ease. This is a 'sad world' we live in, one in which God not only allows trouble but at times sends adversity to us. Trust, therefore, does not mean hoping for the absence of pain but believing in the purpose of pain. After all, if my almighty God is really almighty and my heavenly Father is really fatherly, then I should trust that He can and will do what is good for me in this sad world. Parents, don't you wish your kids had more faith in you and trusted that you knew what was best and were always on their side? I imagine God wants the same kind of faith for all of us." (The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism).

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wrong Time, Wrong Place

In the early morning hours of this past Sunday, 7 year old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by Detroit Police. It was the result of a tragic accident. Assistant police chief, Ralph Godbee was quoted as saying, "This is any parent's worst nightmare. It also is any police officer's worst nightmare. And today, it is all too real."

Police were executing a search warrant on the house where Aiyana lived. They were seeking a homicide victim who had gunned down a 17 year old teen on Friday night. As the police SERT team entered the house, there was apparently some physical resistance offered by an inhabitant in the house. As a result, an officer's gun discharged, striking the 7 year old girl, inflicting a fatal wound. The police did eventually find and arrest the suspect without further incident.

Now I am sure there will be some sort of anti-police outcry on this. But I am also hopeful that the police department will do a thorough investigation and take the necessary steps to discipline or correct - whatever might be needed. It's not easy policing in these violent days in which we live. If the suspect being sought had not murdered his victim, Aiyanna would still be alive today. I hope that fact does not get overlooked in this discussion.

Bottom line, the old cliche "being at the wrong place at the wrong time" describes Ayianna's death. She was an innocent victim in this. And Ayianna's situation is all too common in our society today. No, not that there are many other children losing their lives to a stray bullet (although there are more of these than there should be). Rather, I am thinking of children who find themselves in the middle of a broken marriage. Mom and/or Dad decide they have had enough and so they walk out. Parents often think their kids will get over it. But research shows that this is simply not the case. Divorce impacts kids. And the impact is NOT GOOD! So all this to say, if you are contemplating a divorce - think twice fifty times about it! Because at the end of the day, the hurt you inflict will not be just upon your spouse - but upon your kids who happen, like 7 year old Ayianna, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Thought for Your Weekend .... and Beyond!

While browsing some shops at Cape May this week, I spotted the following statement that I thought worthy of passing on:

"Life is not a matter of counting years, but a matter of making years count."  

Well said, don't you think? Reminds me of what Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Ephesus: "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mayberry in the News?

Two weeks ago I titled one of my postings, "It Ain't Mayberry Anymore!" The very next day after posting those thoughts, I read in the paper that the actress who played the role of Deputy Barney Fife's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, was robbed in Mount Airy, NC, the small town that the fictional town of Mayberry was based upon. The actress, whose name is Betty Lou Lynn, now 83, was approached by a man while shopping in downtown Mount Airy. The man grabbed her purse and fled. Police were notified, and after a brief chase, were able to arrest the suspect and retrieve the actress' purse. The irony in all of this is that Lynn had moved to Mount Airy from Los Angeles because she was fed up with the crime there (she had been victimized several times while living in L.A.). But she has learned that crime is not confined to big cities. It's everywhere - even in Mayberry! All the more reason to pray ... and to support our police - the thin blue line between order and chaos, good and evil in our society.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Struggle to Pray

On this our nation's 59th annual observance of a Day of Prayer ... I ask myself, "Why is it that I struggle so much to pray?" (and if you are anything at all like me ... I am sure you struggle too). As I thought of that, the following answers came to mind.

1. The last thing (and I do mean the LAST thing) that the Enemy of our souls (a.k.a. "Satan") wants to see is God's people on their knees in prayer. As hymn writer William Cowper put it so well, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." Given this ... Satan will do all he can to keep us from praying. It is part of our spiritual battle.

2. All of us as humans have this very stubborn streak of self-reliance and independence that runs through the core of our fallen nature. We therefore do not realize often just how dependent we are upon God. We think we can do life on our own. So we go about our routines giving little thought to God and our need for His help. This keeps us from reaching up for His hand (which is always extended in our direction!).

3. Our fast-paced society in which we live does not lend itself well to prayer. All of us live under the constant demand of the "tyranny of the urgent." And so we give into the urgent demands of our life while we neglect the truly important (which would include prayer).

Which of the above do you seek keeping YOU from prayer? And just what are YOU going to do about it?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Midweek Random Thoughts


Here we are, already at the midweek point of most people's work week. So as you begin to head down "the home stretch" toward your weekend, some random thoughts for you to "chew on."

1. This world is a real mess! Reading the newspaper, watching television news or reading news updates via the Internet can be down right depressing. Wars and rumors of war, earthquakes and famines in various places. Hmm. Sounds a lot like Matthew 24! Are these signs that the Lord's return is "at hand?" It could very well be that Jesus Christ will return a lot sooner than most of us think. If He were to return before the end of this day - would YOU be ready to meet Him?

2. Why is it that I an so quick to avoid what I know I need most? What I am thinking of is quiet time spent in the presence of God. Yesterday's time (much of it quiet time with God) spent at the National Cathedral was a reminder of just how much I need to build alone time ... quite time ... with God into my busy and often downright hectic schedule. Yet I so often fail to do this! I am reminded of a title of a book on prayer that Bill Hybels wrote a few years ago: Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God. That says it all! When will I ever learn????

3. Today my granddaughter turns one! It still sometimes has not really sunk in that I am now married to a grandmother! Just the other day my wife and I were looking at some pics of our kids when they were young. My parents and her parents were in some of these same photos. My wife turned to me and said ... we are now our parents! Yep! She's right. We are now the older generation! How can that be? Where did the time go? As I think on this, I am reminded of James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Friends, life is short and quickly passes. Let's INTENTIONALLY use our time wisely ... all by God's grace and for HIS glory!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heading for some QT in DC!


Today our church staff and a couple of our lay elders are heading to Washington, D.C. and the National Cathedral. Our purpose is to get away from the pressing demands of our ministry schedule for some quiet time with God. The National Cathedral with its beautiful chapels and gardens, supplies a wonderful venue for the spiritual practices of silence and solitude. And in our busy world, silence and solitude is something all of us must make time for! Vance Havner, a well known and appreciated evangelist of yesteryear said it well when he said we Christians "need to come apart lest we come apart!" My prayer for me, our staff and elders is that we will grow in our love for God as a result of our time away with Him ... and bond even more deeply with each other.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Have a Blessed Memorial Day!


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, May 28, 2010

Living by the Book!

Single mother and Wal-Mart employee Heather Ravenstein did what she thought she had to do - stop a shoplifter from stealing a $600 computer. The suspect had set off an alarm when he exited the store without paying for the computer. Ravenstein went after him. When she caught up with him (he was walking somewhat briskly), she asked him to see the receipt for the computer. When he ignored her request, she grabbed the computer. After a brief tussle, he let go of the box and ran off. Yea Heather Ravenstein! You foiled the attempts of a would-be shoplifter, thus saving Wal-Mart (and really all of us in the long run, as costs associated with shoplifting are passed on to us the consumer) money!

But wait! Not so fast. The next day, Ravenstein was fired by Wal-Mart. According to a spokesman for the giant retailer, Wal-Mart has a policy that clearly states that only a manager or someone in asset protection is to try to stop a customer from stealing. This policy is in place to protect both employees and customers. Wal-Mart views this so seriously that to violate this policy leads to immediate termination. Ravenstein claimed that she was unaware of the policy - but that was irrelevant as far as Wal-Mart was concerned.

Now I must admit when I first read of this incident, I was a bit peeved at Wal-Mart. Here is this huge corporation firing a single mom and all she did was stop a shoplifter. But, after hearing of their policy (which does make a lot of sense when you think about it), my anger toward Wal-Mart abated. Now as to whose fault it is that Ravenstein did not know about the policy - if indeed she is telling the truth - whether Wal-Mart for not clearly communicating this policy with employees or Ravenstein for not paying attention to clearly stated store policies - I don't know. But this incident does remind me of our relationship to God's Word. In the Word, God lays out His will for our lives. He gives us clear instruction on what we are to value and how we are to live. He wants us to live life by the Book - His Book! So ... to do this, we must KNOW the Book (we cannot obey and practice what we do not know). One day ... we will have to give an account to God as to how we lived our lives in light of the Book. Claiming ignorance of the Book will not acceptable on that Day. So ... that leads me to the question: have you been in the Book today?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Brother is Watching!

In an attempt to curb increasing crime rates in urban areas, a growing number of municipalities are adding surveillance cameras to their downtown streets. This has many libertarians quite upset. "It is an infringement upon a person's privacy," they protest. Many claim it is unconstitutional (although I am not a constitutional scholar, I don't think the right to privacy is actually a right mentioned in the Constitution). But in spite of protests, the cameras are there ... and being used quite effectively.

Now it is not my purpose to argue the pros and cons of such cameras (although my view is if you don't have anything to hide, what's the problem with the cameras?). I do want to remind all of us that all the cameras could be removed and we would STILL be under surveillance. Scripture tells us that "the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). So it does not matter whether "Big Brother is watching" - unless, of course, you are committing a crime! But it does matter that God is watching!  So as you go about your day today ... remember these words: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Neglect Your Family and Friends!

Monday was my day off. I spent the day cultivating relationships that are important to me. I had breakfast with my oldest sister (who lives in Etters, PA in northern York County). I went to a late morning showing of Iron Man 2 with my son and then grabbed a late lunch with him at Burger King. I came home to spend time with my granddaughter who my wife was babysitting. Then that evening, I was with my wife, our two daughters, their spouses, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter (my son had to work) as we enjoyed talking over pizza at my oldest daughter's house. I wrapped up the day watching the final episode of Lost with my wife (see yesterday's post). All-in-all, it was a very good, satisfying day!

Family and friends. So important. But in our busy, fast paced lives, it is far too easy to overlook those who are (or should be) important to us. I believe all of us could to a better job at cultivating life's important relationships. It is the depth of relationships that will go a long way toward making or breaking our enjoyment of life. One of my favorite movies is the film, It's a Wonderful Life. At its conclusion, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) looks at a copy of the book, Tom Sawyer, left for him by the angel Clarence. Inside the book's cover, Clarence had written the following words: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." Friends and family are gifts God gives to us. Let's not abuse these gifts through neglect or mistreatment of any kind. Rather let's determine to practice Proverbs 17:17 which reads, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Series Finale of "Lost"

I don't watch many TV shows. Apart from some newscasts and sporting events, I usually limit myself to watching one (or at most two) television series with any regularity. The one I have followed in recent years has been ABC's Lost. Those of you who are fellow "Lost-ers" have probably by now viewed the final episode of Lost (my wife and I viewed it last night as we were unable to see it live on Sunday evening). As the show concluded, I was trying to figure it all out and decide on whether or not I liked it (my wife informed me immediately that she indeed liked how it ended). Guess what ... I am still unsure of how I feel about the series' conclusion. But as I think on this (and trust me, I won't spend much more time on this) ... here are some thoughts:

1. For me, the series finale left too many questions unanswered, too many details unexplained. For example, we know how Jack died, but how did the others die? And why wouldn't Ben Linus enter the church for the closing scene ... and what ever happened to the island?  As I posed these questions to my wife, she reminded me that really - that is true to life. Many of our questions about life remain unanswered - and details unexplained. There are a lot of loose ends in life - Lost was no different.

2. The finale led viewers into the "after life." Yea! I thought! At least the writers got that part right. There is an "after life" for all of us, as the Scripture states clearly, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So there is an "after that" to life. The writers got that! (but they missed the judgment part!).

3. What I will miss most about the series is the characters. The writers did a wonderfully creative job of telling the stories of the various people who made up the cast. I felt that I had become friends with all of them. This reminds me of how important relationships are to me (and this is no surprise given that God created us in HIS image ... and He is a relational being (think "Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and so we are relational beings.) Therefore, I need to give more weight to the significant relationships in my life.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, May 21, 2010

Now That's Weird!

I've read some odd news stories in my life, but one recently might have taken the proverbial cake! The headline read, "Lord Jesus Christ hit by car in Massachusetts." The story went on to give the account of a 50 year old man who was struck by a car in Northampton, Mass. The man gave his name to police as "Lord Jesus Christ." When officers checked his ID, sure enough that was indeed his legal name. Ouch! I don't know if this man was given this name at birth or if he changed his name legally to "Lord Jesus Christ" (probably the latter is more likely). But in either case this is very strange! Certainly someone was/is trying to make some kind of statement. But exactly what? I have no idea!

But this leads me to ask you a question to "chew on" today. What kind of statement are you making with your life? The choices you make? The words you speak? The values you embrace? The schedule you keep? Think about it ... you might need to make some changes!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gracing Others

Michael Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback (and now a Philadelphia Eagle) who was convicted of running a dog fighting ring and sent to prison has been in the news quite a bit here in Lancaster. He was in town two weeks ago to speak at a local charity fundraiser. His presence got many people upset.And some are still "fighting mad!". One individual wrote a letter to the editor of the Lancaster paper, published just this morning. It's headline grabbed my attention. It read, "Vick does not deserve a second chance." I got to thinking about that and it struck me: WHO among us does? Really do I ... do you deserve a second chance? Especially when it comes to our standing before God. The Bible is clear: the only thing we deserve from God's hand is judgment. But God who is rich in mercy and love offers us a second chance. Not just once but over and over and over again! That's called grace! God giving to us what we in NO WAY deserve! And as God graces us ... we need to learn to grace others. Because offering others grace is part of what being like Jesus is all about!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Life Brings Pain

This is indeed a sad world in which we live. Far too often, we experience pain. It may be physical, financial, emotional, relational or spiritual in nature. But no matter how it manifests itself ... it hurts. And there are times the pain pierces us to the very core of our souls.

So when this occurs, how can we cope? How can we "keep on keeping on" with the demands of life. It's tough putting in your eight hours on the job when your life is falling apart around you. Recently I ran across the following words in a book I am reading (a book that I would label as one of the best books I have read recently!). Please take a moment and read through Kevin DeYoung's remarks:

"He (God) will turn to good whatever adversity He sends me. The Bible is not naive about suffering. Trusting in God's provision does not mean we expect to float to heaven on flowery beds of ease. This is a 'sad world' we live in, one in which God not only allows trouble but at times sends adversity to us. Trust, therefore, does not mean hoping for the absence of pain but believing in the purpose of pain. After all, if my almighty God is really almighty and my heavenly Father is really fatherly, then I should trust that He can and will do what is good for me in this sad world. Parents, don't you wish your kids had more faith in you and trusted that you knew what was best and were always on their side? I imagine God wants the same kind of faith for all of us." (The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism).

Thanks for stopping by ...

pj

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wrong Time, Wrong Place

In the early morning hours of this past Sunday, 7 year old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by Detroit Police. It was the result of a tragic accident. Assistant police chief, Ralph Godbee was quoted as saying, "This is any parent's worst nightmare. It also is any police officer's worst nightmare. And today, it is all too real."

Police were executing a search warrant on the house where Aiyana lived. They were seeking a homicide victim who had gunned down a 17 year old teen on Friday night. As the police SERT team entered the house, there was apparently some physical resistance offered by an inhabitant in the house. As a result, an officer's gun discharged, striking the 7 year old girl, inflicting a fatal wound. The police did eventually find and arrest the suspect without further incident.

Now I am sure there will be some sort of anti-police outcry on this. But I am also hopeful that the police department will do a thorough investigation and take the necessary steps to discipline or correct - whatever might be needed. It's not easy policing in these violent days in which we live. If the suspect being sought had not murdered his victim, Aiyanna would still be alive today. I hope that fact does not get overlooked in this discussion.

Bottom line, the old cliche "being at the wrong place at the wrong time" describes Ayianna's death. She was an innocent victim in this. And Ayianna's situation is all too common in our society today. No, not that there are many other children losing their lives to a stray bullet (although there are more of these than there should be). Rather, I am thinking of children who find themselves in the middle of a broken marriage. Mom and/or Dad decide they have had enough and so they walk out. Parents often think their kids will get over it. But research shows that this is simply not the case. Divorce impacts kids. And the impact is NOT GOOD! So all this to say, if you are contemplating a divorce - think twice fifty times about it! Because at the end of the day, the hurt you inflict will not be just upon your spouse - but upon your kids who happen, like 7 year old Ayianna, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Thought for Your Weekend .... and Beyond!

While browsing some shops at Cape May this week, I spotted the following statement that I thought worthy of passing on:

"Life is not a matter of counting years, but a matter of making years count."  

Well said, don't you think? Reminds me of what Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Ephesus: "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mayberry in the News?

Two weeks ago I titled one of my postings, "It Ain't Mayberry Anymore!" The very next day after posting those thoughts, I read in the paper that the actress who played the role of Deputy Barney Fife's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, was robbed in Mount Airy, NC, the small town that the fictional town of Mayberry was based upon. The actress, whose name is Betty Lou Lynn, now 83, was approached by a man while shopping in downtown Mount Airy. The man grabbed her purse and fled. Police were notified, and after a brief chase, were able to arrest the suspect and retrieve the actress' purse. The irony in all of this is that Lynn had moved to Mount Airy from Los Angeles because she was fed up with the crime there (she had been victimized several times while living in L.A.). But she has learned that crime is not confined to big cities. It's everywhere - even in Mayberry! All the more reason to pray ... and to support our police - the thin blue line between order and chaos, good and evil in our society.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Struggle to Pray

On this our nation's 59th annual observance of a Day of Prayer ... I ask myself, "Why is it that I struggle so much to pray?" (and if you are anything at all like me ... I am sure you struggle too). As I thought of that, the following answers came to mind.

1. The last thing (and I do mean the LAST thing) that the Enemy of our souls (a.k.a. "Satan") wants to see is God's people on their knees in prayer. As hymn writer William Cowper put it so well, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." Given this ... Satan will do all he can to keep us from praying. It is part of our spiritual battle.

2. All of us as humans have this very stubborn streak of self-reliance and independence that runs through the core of our fallen nature. We therefore do not realize often just how dependent we are upon God. We think we can do life on our own. So we go about our routines giving little thought to God and our need for His help. This keeps us from reaching up for His hand (which is always extended in our direction!).

3. Our fast-paced society in which we live does not lend itself well to prayer. All of us live under the constant demand of the "tyranny of the urgent." And so we give into the urgent demands of our life while we neglect the truly important (which would include prayer).

Which of the above do you seek keeping YOU from prayer? And just what are YOU going to do about it?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Midweek Random Thoughts


Here we are, already at the midweek point of most people's work week. So as you begin to head down "the home stretch" toward your weekend, some random thoughts for you to "chew on."

1. This world is a real mess! Reading the newspaper, watching television news or reading news updates via the Internet can be down right depressing. Wars and rumors of war, earthquakes and famines in various places. Hmm. Sounds a lot like Matthew 24! Are these signs that the Lord's return is "at hand?" It could very well be that Jesus Christ will return a lot sooner than most of us think. If He were to return before the end of this day - would YOU be ready to meet Him?

2. Why is it that I an so quick to avoid what I know I need most? What I am thinking of is quiet time spent in the presence of God. Yesterday's time (much of it quiet time with God) spent at the National Cathedral was a reminder of just how much I need to build alone time ... quite time ... with God into my busy and often downright hectic schedule. Yet I so often fail to do this! I am reminded of a title of a book on prayer that Bill Hybels wrote a few years ago: Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God. That says it all! When will I ever learn????

3. Today my granddaughter turns one! It still sometimes has not really sunk in that I am now married to a grandmother! Just the other day my wife and I were looking at some pics of our kids when they were young. My parents and her parents were in some of these same photos. My wife turned to me and said ... we are now our parents! Yep! She's right. We are now the older generation! How can that be? Where did the time go? As I think on this, I am reminded of James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Friends, life is short and quickly passes. Let's INTENTIONALLY use our time wisely ... all by God's grace and for HIS glory!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heading for some QT in DC!


Today our church staff and a couple of our lay elders are heading to Washington, D.C. and the National Cathedral. Our purpose is to get away from the pressing demands of our ministry schedule for some quiet time with God. The National Cathedral with its beautiful chapels and gardens, supplies a wonderful venue for the spiritual practices of silence and solitude. And in our busy world, silence and solitude is something all of us must make time for! Vance Havner, a well known and appreciated evangelist of yesteryear said it well when he said we Christians "need to come apart lest we come apart!" My prayer for me, our staff and elders is that we will grow in our love for God as a result of our time away with Him ... and bond even more deeply with each other.

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.