Posts

Showing posts from June, 2010

Some Random Midweek Thoughts

Image
As we hit the midweek, with the July 4th holiday inviting us forward, here are two random thoughts floating around my head this morning . . .

1. I really don't like flying! Flying certainly is not what it used to be. With increased security, decreased flights, it requires a lot of patience to fly the skies today (what ever happened to the "Friendly Skies?"). And on top of all the inconvenience, there's the airlines seeking any and every way to cut cost and raise revenue. Let me give you just one example I experienced on my way home on Monday. I arrived at the South Bend airport early ... early enough to catch the earlier flight to Chicago's O'hare airport where I was to connect for my flight to Harrisburg. So I asked at the gate if there was room on the flight. I was told to wait until the passengers had boarded. At that point the gate agent would check and, if someone did not show (the flight was oversold as so many are these days), I could get on. Sure enoug…

Flight Delayed

Image
"Flight Delayed." No air traveler wants to see those words, but they are the words that I saw staring back at me when I checked the status of my flight. I am due to fly to Detroit and there connect with a flight to South Bend, Indiana. At the airport I will then rent a car and drive to my final destination - Winona Lake, IN - that is provided I ever leave Harrisburg. I am heading to WL for another Grace College Board matter. I am due to return home tomorrow evening. Oh, they just called my flight. Looks like we are about to board. I will wrap this up later.

Well, here I am at the Comfort Inn in Warsaw, Indiana (which is adjacent to Winona Lake). As it turned out, both of my flights were delayed about an hour each. But that's OK. Better delayed than cancelled. Yet delays are something we are not particularly fond of. Especially when we are facing some sort of need and we want God to act like yesterday! But God works on a different timetable. And given that he is a God of …

Now That's Just Not Right!

Image
A Treasury Department inspector general reports that 4,608 people have claimed the homebuyer tax credit even though their primary (and only) place of residence is a prison. Now granted, most of these filed jointly with spouses "on the outside," the inspection did show that over 700 filed on their own ... and these 700 were in prison for life! The end result? You and I who are honest taxpayers have been scammed for millions of dollars! Now that's just not right! Where's the whole idea that "honesty is the best policy?" Unfortunately in our society, that policy has been replaced with a "What's-best-for-me-no-matter-how-I-must-get-it is the best policy!" Dishonesty for so many people today has become "second nature." Integrity has been thrown out the window. So if you have to stretch the truth or even manufacture the truth - as long as it's in your benefit - go for it!

This is a far cry from the biblical teaching on the topic. God …

Sir, May I Marry Your Daughter?

Image
Adoniram Judson and his wife set sail from the United States for Burma in 1812. They were among the first protestant missionaries to go into Burma. Adoniram served in Burma for forty years. However, his wife Ann died in 1826 at the age of 37. Their story is a striking one, as God used them in a tremendous wave to spread the gospel in that dark land. Adoniram's greatest work was to translate the Bible into Burmese. Ann's was the work she was able to do with young girls and women - in a culture where women were very much "second class citizens."

Soon after Adoniram and Ann met, Adoniram sent a letter to Ann's father, John Hasseltine, asking him for permission to marry his daughter. Read on ... and as you do, try to put yourself in John Hasseltine's shoes. Would you say yes to such a request as the one he received from Adoniram?

"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether…

A Lesson from the Mouth of a Child . . .

Image
We are in the middle of our Vacation Bible School here at Grace. So each morning (Monday through Friday) we run our VBS from 9 to noon. On our first two days, we have had approximately 200 children (preschool through elementary) present, along with the 50 or so staff. So things are hopping! My role in this year's VBS is to play the role of "Pizza Man." During each morning's opening and closing, we do a three person skit to either introduce or review the theme of the morning (the other two characters in case  you are wondering are "Mac the Maintenance Man" and "Water Woman"). It's been fun!

As part of the morning rotation, each group spends time on a missions theme. This year they are learning about our Hand-in-Hand orphan school that we sponsor. The school is located in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Last September when I was there, I met the teacher of our school and some of the students (the school year had not yet star…

Living Life as a Practicing Atheist

Image
You are driving down the Interstate, when suddenly you see brake lights ahead of you. Traffic slows, but does not stop. What's up? Soon up ahead you spot the reason for the slow down. A police car is sitting on the shoulder of the highway, a radar gun sticking out of the window. But as soon as the police cruiser is a distant object in the rear view mirror, the traffic flow picks up its speed. Hmm. We all drive differently when we know the police are present.

And, regrettably, we do the very same thing as Christians. We all live differently when we know God is present. The key word in that last sentence is the word "know." Because God is ALWAYS present. But all too often we live as if He were not! This struck me this morning as I read one of the prayers from the book, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (a book I highly recommend!). Please take a moment an read the following lines from a prayer titled, Divine Promises:

"Glorious Jehovah…

Cheering for the Other Guy!

Image
One of the surprise entries in this year's World Cup is the soccer team from North Korea. This is only the second time that a team from North Korea has qualified to play in soccer's premier event. So, given the rarity of the opportunity to cheer for your own team, have North Koreans traveled to South Africa in droves? No. When the cost of the air fare alone is about 100 times what the average North Korean makes in a year and when it is almost next to impossible to get permission to leave the communist country, few North Koreans will be in the stands to cheer the boys on. So who will? The Chinese! The Associated Press reports that North Korean officials have offered most of their allocated tickets for each game to neighboring China, which does not have a team in the tournament. So according to the AP report, "about 1,000 Chinese dancers and musicians are among fans recruited to cheer for North Korea, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency." So if you …

Jesus on Fire!

Image
As I read through yesterday's paper, this series of photos caught my eye. As you can see, a large, 6-story statue of Jesus was apparently struck by lightening. The resultant fire totally destroyed the statue, resulting in $700,000 in damages.

Hmm. Jesus on fire! How ironic that in this scenario, "Jesus" was on the receiving end destructive fire. But the Bible makes it clear that there is coming a day that Jesus Christ will be on the giving end of destructive fire. In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 we read the following:

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he c…

"Vuvuzelling"

Image
The World Cup (the soccer world's equivalent to football's Super Bowl) recently kicked off (pun intended) in the host country of South Africa. The U.S. team played this past Saturday. I got to view most of the first half. It was not very long into my viewing that I noticed this very strange background noise. It sounded like a hive of busy, angry bees. But no. The sound was not being made by bees. But by fans tooting plastic vuvuzela horns, a South African traditional horn. Now the fans are not just blowing them to acknowledge a score or great play ... but they are blowing them CONSTANTLY! So much so that many non-tooting fans and even some players are quite irritated by the racket (and it is indeed a racket! These horns put out 127 decibels of sound, and considering that any noise above 85 decibels is a threat to damage one's hearing, you can imagine just how loud these horns can be!). Many television viewers are choosing to mute their television sets and watch the game in…

Hey Dads!

Image
In one of my favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life, there is a powerful scene that reminds us of the influence fathers have (or should have) in the lives of their children. Young George Baily worked after school at the town's drug store. He had just been given a prescription to deliver. But George hesitated. A he voiced an objection about doing so, Mr. Gower, the druggist, slapped him on the side of the head for what he considered a rebellious attitude. The druggist told young George in no uncertain terms to get going and make the delivery as he was told to do. George reluctantly left the store. Why did George resist going? It was due to the fact that he had noticed Mr. Gower had put poison in the tablets (and this he did because he was drunk with both alcohol and grief, having just been informed that his son had died of the flu while on the front lines in France during WWI). So now George was in a quandry. What should he do? As he walked out of the store, he looked up the st…

"Hold the Line!"

Image
Last month, I spent part of a Saturday walking the Gettysburg battlefield with my family. At the base of Little Round Top (so named to distinguish it from the larger hill next to it which is appropriately named Big Round Top) is a description of the intense fighting that occurred on Little Round Top on the second day of the battle. Little Round Top was the extreme right of the Union line. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine was ordered to "hold the ground at all hazards!" If the enemy were to get around Chamberlain and his men, they could go on to roll up the entire Union flank. So Chamberlain and his men from Maine were determined to hold their ground, and they did just that. They repulsed numerous attacks. When Chamberlain realized his men were without ammunition, he ordered a bayonet charge. Rushing down the hill into the enemy ranks, they caught the Confederates by surprise and captured a huge number of them. For his courage in the heat of battle, Cha…

When Restitution Just Doesn't Seem to Add Up!

Image
Calvin C. Cox of Frederick County, Maryland, stole a plane last winter. Why? Because he was homeless and cold (that's the reason he gave authorities). He should have first thought about whether or not he could fly the plane. As it turns out, he got it up and running -- on the ground that is. By the time he was done, the plane had suffered over $12,000 in damages. He was sentenced to serve time in the county jail and to pay restitution to the owners of the plane. When all the dust settled his restitution payment amounted to $40! That was the deductible on the insurance policy that the owner of the plane carried. So in effect, the policy holders of that particular insurance company are the ones who actually footed the bill. Now does that seem right to you?

Now please, before you think I am cold-hearted in coming down on some homeless man please hear me out. Yes, it is true that I don't know the circumstances of Mr. Cox and what led to him being homeless. But even so, I believe h…

The Al and Tipper Affair

Image
Al and Tipper Gore have been front and center in the news of late. Al Gore, of course served as Vice President under President Bill Clinton, and then ran against George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. Tipper is Al's wife of 40 years. I am sure you have heard by now that after 4 decades of marriage they are going their separate ways. Unlike a number of recent political marriages which have ended due to affairs and scandals, the Gore's marriage seemed to be doing OK. So why the split? This is what the couple had to say, "We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate. This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further." 

Did you notice in the statement that they did not say WHY they are splitting up. All they sai…

Killing Lust - A.S.A.P.! (continued)

Image
I've been talking about how we can slay the dragon of sexual lust. Given our sex-saturated society, this is not an easy thing to do. It will require all the spiritual strength and spiritual energy we can muster. And it demands that we lean heavily on the Everlasting Arms of our Father in Heaven. But just because this is a hard thing to do ... to say "no!" to sexual temptation, it is not impossible. Remember, "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

Now in addition to the first two steps I mentioned last week (see posting of last Friday) here are two more for your consideration (and I trust, PRACTICE!):

Apply the Philippians 4:8 Test to your thought life!  In Philippians 4:8, we read these words: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Via the pen of the Apostle Paul, God gives us the c…

Killing Lust - A.S.A.P.!

Image
Yesterday I discussed how the Seventh Commandment ("You shall not commit adultery") is being demolished in our society today. Sexual purity is considered a thing of the past. But sexual purity for the follower of Jesus is not simply an option to take or leave at one's pleasure. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 we read, "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality." Could God have made His will for us in the sexual arena any plainer than that?

So, in this sex-saturated culture in which we live, how can we slay the dragon of sexual lust? Today, I want to give you two steps you can take to do so. Then in my next post, I will finish my thoughts with two more. I will use an acrostic to help you remember these. Because we must get serious and intentional about our battle against sexual temptation, I am going to use the acrostic ... A.S.A.P. (As Soon As Possible) - this to remind us that we must fight off any and all sexual tempt…

The Demise of the Seventh Commandment

Image
When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments at the Summit of Mt. Sinai, He knew that humanity would fail in the keeping of them. So why did He give them to us? For two reasons. First, God gave us His law to restrain wickedness and evil. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." God's revelation of his law is meant to curb our tendency to move toward sin. So even though we fail and fail miserably in obeying His commandments, they still restrain us from sinning to our fullest capacity! Secondly, God gave us His law to show us our sin and lead us to Christ. The Apostle Paul referred to this purpose behind the law when he wrote, "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet'" (Romans 7:7). When seen in this…

Let it Rain!

Image
Memorial Day afternoon (at least at my house) ended with a drenching T-Storm that just did not seem to want to end. We picked up a good two inches of rain in about an hour and a half. If this were winter and all that rain would have been snow, at a ten inches of snow for an inch of liquid -- we would have had over a foot and half of snow in that small amount of time! Ouch! I'm guessing even snow lovers would struggle with that! But since Monday's precipitation was rain, it does not have the "Wow" impact that a snow event would have had!

Now some of you who live outside of the Willow Street area here in Lancaster County might be wondering, "What rain is PJ talking about? We didn't get any rain and I only live a few miles south of Willow Street." Welcome to summer time precipitation events. Whereas in the winter months, precipitation events tend to be more widespread, during summer months, T-Storms can drop buckets of rain on one street and two streets aw…

Now That's Perfection!

Image
This past Saturday evening, Phillie's pitching ace, Roy Halladay threw a perfect game. For you non-baseball people that means 27 batters came up to bat against him and 27 batters went down (i.e. not a single batter made it to first base either via a walk, hit or error). That is such an accomplishment that in all the years of Major League Baseball there have only been 20 such masterpieces. And when you consider there are 5,184 games played each season (not including the post season playoffs) AND when you consider that MLB has been around since the late 1800's - there have been a pile of games played. Only 20 of them were perfect!  That puts Halladay's performance in perspective, doesn't it?

Halladay is the second Phillie's pitcher to accomplish this feat. The first to do so was Jim Bunning back on Father's Day in 1964. Unfortunately I missed watching Halladay's gem on Saturday. However, I did see Bunning hurl his perfect game! Yep. I was 8 years old and watc…