PJ

PJ

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Daddy, Not So Far Out!"

Earlier this week I took a glance at the comics section of the daily newspaper (which I rarely do). On this particular day (which happened to be the day after I got back from our beach vacation), the Family Circus comic was about ... of all things ... the beach! It pictured little P.J. (the youngest of the clan) standing in toe-deep water. His father, is standing on P.J.'s ocean side in perhaps ankle deep water. As P.J. looks at his father, he says, "Not so far out, Daddy. Not so far out!"

This made my heart smile. I thought back to a few days earlier when our granddaughter Ella (a tad younger than P.J. and still not grunting out much more than a few basic "words") was walking very tentatively in the surf. And when the waves began to roll in ... she wanted up! As long as she was in my arms, she did not mind if I waded out into the surf. The waves did not appear nearly as big to her as she was held in my embrace.

Just as P.J. looked for safety and security from his daddy ... and just as Ella felt safe in my arms - so we must look to our God when the waves of trouble begin to crash against us. In Him we can find safety and security. He has promised to care for us. And that's a promise He is more than willing and able to deliver on!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poison Ivy, Bed Bugs and Our Walk with God


Two stories in the local paper today caught my attention. The first was a story about the rise of poison ivy cases here in Lancaster County. It seems that doctors and health care workers are seeing a significant increase this year in the numbers of people they are treating for this nuisance. Experts are offering numerous factors behind the increase. But no matter the reasons, since 85% of us are sensitive to the resin found in poison ivy, here's the bottom line: "Leaves of three, let it be!" (or pay the price which won't be nice!).

The second story detailed New York City's recently declared war on bed bugs! As a result of a recent survey of NYC residents, one out of every 15 New Yorker admitted to battling bed bugs last year. In raw numbers that's about 400,000 people! Ouch! And these nasty little critters, whose nocturnal biting leaves itchy red welts, are showing up in all sorts of places: hotel rooms, theaters, clothing stores, office buildings, housing projects and luxury apartments. As a result, officials in the the Big Apple have announced a plan to fight the spread of these little insects. That's good, because I would hate to bring any of these unwanted creatures home with me after my next NYC visit!

As nasty as poison ivy and bed bugs can be (from personal experience I can only vouch for the former!) - there are other things against which we need to be "waging war!" I am thinking of what the Apostle Paul urges us to do in Colossians 3:5-10.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

Note the things that he tells us that we must "put to death" (strong words, yes?). Take a moment and look over this list. Then take out an ax and begin to "put to death" the items on Paul's list that you see in your life. Do so ... or pay the regretable price that sin brings!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Back .... for a While!


Now that I am back from my travels to Cincinnati, Ohio and Ocean City, Maryland ... here are a few thoughts rambling through my rather numb brain - numb from being blitzed by all the work that has piled up in my absence!

1. "Vacation Time" passes at 3.67 times the rate of all other kinds of time. Have you noticed this phenomena? It seemed like we had just pulled out of our driveway on the way to Ocean City when lo and behold we were pulling into our driveway on our way back from Ocean City! This just doesn't seem quite fair to me ... but it's the way things are! SO ... I will accept it and move on!

2. Adjusting to new surroundings and routines can prove trying for adults ... but can be downright next to impossible for a 14 month old toddler. We were reminded of this during our stay down at the beach. Our granddaughter Ella thought sleeping in the same room as Mommy and Daddy meant more time to play ... when Mommy and Daddy (and the rest of us) wanted to sleep! (In all reality it wasn't that bad for us ... with the exception of Mommy and Daddy!) Having said this ... let me put a plug in to ask you to pray for our team down in Mexico this week ... and our team leaving for India on August 8th. Pray for their adjustments to new surroundings, food, situations, etc.

3. There is NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Despite being blitzed by the demands of my work -- I can honestly say that I am so very glad to be back - sleeping in my own bed, typing on my own computer, reclining on my living room lazy boy. Home is where I feel most comfortable (thanks Sharon for making it such a wonderful place to "kick back" and relax!). And of course, this is just a foretaste of our real home ... a place called HEAVEN! Are you ready to go? Have you made peace with God?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VACATION TIME IS HERE!


I will not be posting until next Wednesday. I am leaving this morning for a family vacation with my wife and our kids. We will be enjoying some hardcore beach time for the next several days.

So until I get back ... may God bless you and keep you ... and make HIS face shine upon you! And in turn - allow his light to shine through you upon others!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joy in Serving Others!

Sharon and I arrived home last evening after an all-day drive from Cincinnati, Ohio. Was I ever glad to see our driveway! Dorothy was right - "There's no place like home!"

During our time at Celebrate 2010 (the national conference for our Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches), Sharon and I enjoyed many aspects of the conference. The worship celebrations were just that - opportunities for celebrative worship and challenges from God's Word. It was also great to connect with other "Grace Brethren" people from around the world and to hear stories of God at work throughout our fellowship of churches.

On Saturday, Sharon and I took part in "We Care Miami Valley." This ministry initiative of serving included both the adults of Celebrate 2010 and the youth of Momentum 2010. We came together in the Dayton, Ohio area to serve churches and para church ministries. Sharon and I chose to come alongside of the ministry of the Dayton Vineyard Church in inner city Dayton. We did so because the youth of our church were also assigned to serve there (as were the youth of three other churches). As it turned out, Sharon and I served about three hours or so, painting in the kitchen of the Vineyard church (see photo). And the students we served with were not our students but teens from a Grace Brethren Church in Norwalk, CA!

Even though my body reminded me the next day of all the bending I had done on Saturday, I was so glad to be able to lend a hand where a hand was needed. And isn't that what God calls us to do? "You, my brothers, were called to be free. Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13). Look for someone who needs a hand today .... and extend yours!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 16, 2010

Racing in the Wrong Direction!


I have been enjoying reading a newly published biography on the German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I have been amazed over and over again by this man who, at the cost of his life, stood up for his beliefs in the gospel of Christ while standing against the evil of the Nazi regime. If you are looking for an inspiring read, I highly recommend this book!

One of the many Bonhoeffer quotes that I highlighted is the following: “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” His words got me thinking. How many people in this world are currently on the wrong train? Many! And as far as eternity is concerned, it does not matter what they are doing on that train ... they are headed for destruction (Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death"). Life for so many is like a train heading for a bridge that crosses a deep gorge ... and the bridge is no longer there having been washed away in a flash flood. The engineer is clueless (as are all the passengers) about their fate that lays ahead of them.

Friends, this describes so many of those who work and play and live next door, across the street, or across the office. Let's pray for them ... and seek out the opportunities that God will give us to proclaim the gospel of Christ!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time Is a Precious Gift - Don't Waste It!


Suresh Joachim might not be a household name here in the U.S. (and probably most other places in the world). But he does hold a world record. Last year Jocachim set the Guinness world for consecutive hours of television viewing. And just how long did Joachim stay glued to the tube? 72 hours! That's three days! And he did it by drinking some 30 cups of coffee.

Now I don't know about you. But quite frankly I am not all that impressed. Big deal. The guy watched TV for three straight days without falling asleep or taking a "time out." At the end of the day, what impact will his feat have on this desperately needy world in which we live? But before I go too far dismissing Joachim for wasting his time, I need to look in my own mirror (and I suspect you do as well). How much of what I do is, in the grand scheme of things, a literal waste of time. Now I am not saying that when we pause from life's busyness to watch a television program (or engage in any type of recreation) that we are wasting our time. All work and no play is a certain recipe for burnout. But I think all of us could stand to benefit by taking stock of how we spend our time - especially given the opportunities around us to work for God's kingdom! God tells us in His Word that we are to be "making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Remember, every minute you spend doing something .... anything ... is gone forever!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Follow the Evidence!


When CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) first hit the television airwaves, I was a fairly consistent viewer. I enjoyed watching how these men and women would meticulously comb over and over a crime scene, collecting as much evidence as they could find. And once they had the evidence -- they would allow it to tell them what happened. One line I heard repeated over and over again was "Just follow the evidence."

I have thought of that often when I have run across individuals who are hard core evolutionists. These individuals certainly don't follow the evidence. Here's just one (of many that I could offer) line of evidence as an example. DNA is a nucleic acid that is found in every human cell. It carries our genetic information. The volume of this information is mind boggling. A single human cell contains enough information storing capacity to hold all the information contained in the 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica some 3 or 4 times over! That's amazing! Now just where did this huge mountain of highly complex information come from? Many scientists liken the genetic code of DNA to a very sophisticated computer program. Hmm. Every computer program that I know of had a computer programmer(s) behind it. But evolutionists want us to believe that across the course of millions and millions of year that DNA simply wrote its own code? In my mind that required far more faith than believing that an Intelligent Designer (a.k.a. "God") wrote the code! If we simply follow the evidence - it leads us right to Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Few Questions to Ponder


Today as I start my work week (I usually take Monday off), I offer you a few questions to ponder.

1. If Americans are growing more spiritual, why is our culture becoming less moral? A recent report from the Princeton Religion Research Center was labeled with the headline, "Religion is Gaining Ground, but Morality is Losing Ground." The report showed that even though our society has seen an increase recently in church attendance and Bible reading there is, at the same time, a marked decline in morality (a quick look at a newspaper or an Internet news site will confirm this reality of a declining morality!). So what is the answer to this question? Philip Ryken, in his book, Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today's Moral Crisis, offers this assesment:

"How can people be more interested in God and at the same time less willing to do what he says? The only explanation is that people do not know the God of the Bible, because if they did, they would recognize the absolute authority of his law. Respect for God always demands respect for his law. And whenever people have a low regard for God's law, as they do in our culture, it is ultimately because they have a low regard for God."

Ryken, I believe, hits the proverbial nail on the head!

2. Are we as a culture too obsessed with "safety?" Now that I am a grandparent, I have been reintroduced to the world of baby things. In this process I have been struck by how things have changed since my kids were babies and toddlers (some 26 plus years now). For one thing, most toys now require batteries (I am convinced that toy makers and battery manufacturers got together to conspire against the American parent!). But I am also amazed at how "safe" everything has become. So much so that I am amazed that I and my children even lived to adulthood! Now I am all about keeping my grand kids safe. But I just wonder ... have we gone overboard with this? For those of us who are Christ followers, we need to remember that it does not matter where we are or what we are doing ... our safety ultimately comes from the fact that we are in the sovereign God's hands - and He will keep us safe! (see Tuesday July 6th posting).

3. Why does Jesus love me? My wife and I taught our children the song, "Jesus Loves Me" and plan to teach it also to our grandchildren. But did you ever stop to wonder, "Why does Jesus love me (or you)?" The Scripture is clear that from God's perspective, there really is NOTHING loveable about us (just take a moment and read the opening verses of Ephesians 2 and you will see what I mean). Yet in spite of who I was, God chose to love me! Wow! That blows me away!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 9, 2010

Think on This!

A desperate farmer once went to see his rabbi. “Rabbi,” the farmer began, “I need help!” “What is the problem?” the Rabbi asked. Quickly the farmer explained how he was going crazy in his small house with all the commotion and noise. After all, he had a talkative wife, three rowdy boys and a baby girl who cried non-stop! The Rabbi thought for a moment and then asked the harried farmer if he had a chicken. “Of course,” the farmer responded. “I have a whole flock of chickens.” “Well, then,” said the Rabbi, “Go bring one of the chickens in the house.” So the perplexed farmer went home and did as the Rabbi suggested.

Early the next morning, the farmer was pounding on the Rabbi’s door. “Rabbi, I did what you suggested. Now things are worse than before!” After stroking his beard, the Rabbi then told the farmer to go home and bring his goat in the house. Since the Rabbi was a man of great wisdom, the farmer went home and brought his goat in the house.

Just after sunup the next day, the farmer was once again pounding on the Rabbi’s door. Again he expressed to the Rabbi that things were far worse now that the goat was in the house (along with the chicken, talkative wife, three rowdy boys and one crying baby girl). After a thoughtful pause, the Rabbi told him to go home and bring in his donkey. More confused than ever, yet knowing the Rabbi was a man of great wisdom, the poor farmer went home and pulled and yanked and pulled and yanked and finally got the donkey into his house.

The next day BEFORE dawn, the farmer was once again pounding on the Rabbi’s door. “Rabbi, I did all you have told me to do. I brought in the chicken, the goat, the donkey – and things are worse than they have ever been!” The Rabbi sighed and looked toward heaven. Then he told the farmer to go home and take the donkey and the goat and the chicken and return them to their proper place. Wearily (and now wondering if this Rabbi was a man of great wisdom) the farmer went home and did as the Rabbi suggested.

Around mid-morning on the following day, the farmer returned once again to see the Rabbi. “Rabbi, I must thank you for what you have done for me. The peace and quiet of my home is truly an amazing gift! Thank you!” Leaving a basket of eggs, bread and cheese with the smiling Rabbi, the happy farmer returned home to his talkative wife, three rowdy boys and baby girl who cried non-stop.

The moral of this story? No matter how bad you might “have it” – it could always be worse!

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vuvuzela Madness!

I have watched enough world cup soccer games that I have become deaf to the steady drone of the vuvuzela horns in the background. This does not mean that I would relish the experience of a fan sitting behind me, tooting his vuvuzela all through a baseball game. So I am hoping vuvuzelas remain on the far side of the Atlantic!

Yesterday I ran across the following You Tube video involving vuvzelas. As I watched and listened to this video, I both laughed and cringed. This is what happens when one takes an object and attempts to do something with it ... something that the object was really never designed to do. Sometimes Christians are like this. We take on ministries for which God had not shaped us (and the truth that God does shape us for specific ministries and tasks can be seen in Ephesians 2:10). So ... after you view the video (and laugh or cry) ... ask yourself, how has God shaped me? And how should I be using my God-given shape to serve Christ, His Church and the world?



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Tale that IS Stranger than Fiction!

Most people in the small rural community of Wyalusing in upstate Pennsylvania thought Jean Stevens, a 91 year old widow lived alone in her small, rundown house. True if you would only count the living bodies in the house. Recently someone tipped off state police that Jean had two dead family members still "living" with her. That's right. Jean by her own admission finds death "hard to take." So shortly after her husband was buried in the local cemetery in 1999, she had his embalmed body exhumed and placed on a couch in a detached garage. Then when her twin sister died last October, she had her body exhumed. She kept her twin sister's body in a spare room off the bedroom. Until police arrived and removed the body, Jean did her best to keep the remains of both her husband and twin sister, giving both bodies her best tender loving care. When questioned as to why she did it, she expressed her fear that after death ... there is nothing. In addition to her fear of death, Jean is extremely claustrophobic. Therefore, she could not bear the thought of her loved ones being cooped up in a coffin six feet under the ground!

As I read this article yesterday, the expression, "Truth is stranger than fiction" came to my mind. I was also saddened that this woman has no hope of heaven ... for either herself or her loved ones. If you are a follower of Jesus and therefore possess a hope of heaven and the promise of a glorious inheritance reserved for you in eternity, then take a moment and thank God that you do! For without HIS grace, you would be as this woman is - without God and without hope in this world! And then, after thanking God for your salvation, determine today with God's help, to intentionally point someone toward Jesus! For He and He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except by Him! (see John 14:6).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eyeing a Toddler ... and God's Watch Care of Us!

This past Saturday (July 3rd), my siblings (half of them, that is) and our families got together for a family picnic at a park on the west side of York, PA. Since two of our children and their spouses were unable to make it, we offered to take their kids. So we packed up our car with our food contributions for lunch and then stopped by our son's and daughter's houses to pick up Ella and Nathan (Ella is 14 months old, Nathan is 10 years old).

Shortly after arriving at the park, Nathan took off to play with a bunch of my nephews, several who are about his same age. For the rest of our time there, Nathan was doing something or other with the guys. Not so with Ella. She required constant supervision. Of course, given just how cute she is (as are most 14 month old toddlers) - we had plenty of help. But I will admit, Grandma and Papa John were a bit tired when we arrived home late that afternoon.

As I thought back on our day this morning, it hit me that our watching of Ella is somewhat like God's watching of us. Just as we keep a constant eye on her (at least we do our best to do so!) - so God keeps a constant eye on us (Jesus reminds us that if God's eye is on the sparrow, then His eye is definitely on us as well! - see Matthew 10:29-31). We watch Ella so she does not fall into harm. And we do so gladly because of our love for her. So it is with God. His constant oversight of us is done with our best interests at heart, for He loves us deeply. But there is one way that our watching over of Ella and God's watching over of us is different. We grow tired. We get distracted. But not God! Please take a moment and read what the psalmist wrote about the wonderful watch care of God. Then worship Him who loves you so and keeps a constant eye on you!

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!


Today as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of our nation. Two-hundred and thirty four years ago today, our Founding Fathers adopted a document that declared the independence of the thirteen American colonies from England. It took another seven years before the colonies were actually free. As you celebrate our American freedom today, don't forget to celebrate the greater freedom you enjoy as a believer in Christ. As Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). Jesus Christ sets us free from sin - it's penalty and its power over us. We are now free to become the people God always intended for us to be. Now that's freedom!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tongue Tied?


All too often when Christians are talking with unbelievers (whether they are neighbors, co-workers, classmates or family members), they find themselves tongue tied when thinking about speaking up for Christ (been there, done that!). Often it is simply a case of not knowing how to get the conversation steered in a spiritual direction. Donald Whitney has put together a list of ten questions believers in Christ can use to open up spiritual chats. You can find his helpful article, "Ten Questions to Ask to Turn a Conversation toward the Gospel" at http://www.biblicalspirituality.org/gospelq.html. Certainly a list worth committing to memory so you have them at your disposal as you talk with those who need to hear the gospel!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It is Nice to Be Wanted!


Earlier today my wife, Sharon called me. She wanted to tell me that when our 14 month old granddaughter, Ella, got up from her nap - the first thing she "said" was "Pa ... Pa ..." I must admit, that brought a warm feeling to my heart. It sure is nice to be wanted!

God wants us. He invites us into His presence to enjoy Him. But far too often we are too busy (or so we think) to carve out time from our busy and often downright hectic schedules in order to spend some quiet time in His presence. As a result, our relationship with God suffers. And when that relationship suffers - all others will as well. Friends, (and I am really talking to myself on this!!!) we need to get more intentional about spending some quiet time in the presence of our God. The first and greatest commandment from our God (and therefore our first and greatest priority in life) is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (see Mark 12:28-30). One way we deepen our love for God is to get away ... get alone ... and get into His Word (which is the written revelation of His nature, character, wisdom, will and plan). As we quietly reflect on Scripture in HIS presence - His Spirit will bind our heart and soul to Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Daddy, Not So Far Out!"

Earlier this week I took a glance at the comics section of the daily newspaper (which I rarely do). On this particular day (which happened to be the day after I got back from our beach vacation), the Family Circus comic was about ... of all things ... the beach! It pictured little P.J. (the youngest of the clan) standing in toe-deep water. His father, is standing on P.J.'s ocean side in perhaps ankle deep water. As P.J. looks at his father, he says, "Not so far out, Daddy. Not so far out!"

This made my heart smile. I thought back to a few days earlier when our granddaughter Ella (a tad younger than P.J. and still not grunting out much more than a few basic "words") was walking very tentatively in the surf. And when the waves began to roll in ... she wanted up! As long as she was in my arms, she did not mind if I waded out into the surf. The waves did not appear nearly as big to her as she was held in my embrace.

Just as P.J. looked for safety and security from his daddy ... and just as Ella felt safe in my arms - so we must look to our God when the waves of trouble begin to crash against us. In Him we can find safety and security. He has promised to care for us. And that's a promise He is more than willing and able to deliver on!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poison Ivy, Bed Bugs and Our Walk with God


Two stories in the local paper today caught my attention. The first was a story about the rise of poison ivy cases here in Lancaster County. It seems that doctors and health care workers are seeing a significant increase this year in the numbers of people they are treating for this nuisance. Experts are offering numerous factors behind the increase. But no matter the reasons, since 85% of us are sensitive to the resin found in poison ivy, here's the bottom line: "Leaves of three, let it be!" (or pay the price which won't be nice!).

The second story detailed New York City's recently declared war on bed bugs! As a result of a recent survey of NYC residents, one out of every 15 New Yorker admitted to battling bed bugs last year. In raw numbers that's about 400,000 people! Ouch! And these nasty little critters, whose nocturnal biting leaves itchy red welts, are showing up in all sorts of places: hotel rooms, theaters, clothing stores, office buildings, housing projects and luxury apartments. As a result, officials in the the Big Apple have announced a plan to fight the spread of these little insects. That's good, because I would hate to bring any of these unwanted creatures home with me after my next NYC visit!

As nasty as poison ivy and bed bugs can be (from personal experience I can only vouch for the former!) - there are other things against which we need to be "waging war!" I am thinking of what the Apostle Paul urges us to do in Colossians 3:5-10.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

Note the things that he tells us that we must "put to death" (strong words, yes?). Take a moment and look over this list. Then take out an ax and begin to "put to death" the items on Paul's list that you see in your life. Do so ... or pay the regretable price that sin brings!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Back .... for a While!


Now that I am back from my travels to Cincinnati, Ohio and Ocean City, Maryland ... here are a few thoughts rambling through my rather numb brain - numb from being blitzed by all the work that has piled up in my absence!

1. "Vacation Time" passes at 3.67 times the rate of all other kinds of time. Have you noticed this phenomena? It seemed like we had just pulled out of our driveway on the way to Ocean City when lo and behold we were pulling into our driveway on our way back from Ocean City! This just doesn't seem quite fair to me ... but it's the way things are! SO ... I will accept it and move on!

2. Adjusting to new surroundings and routines can prove trying for adults ... but can be downright next to impossible for a 14 month old toddler. We were reminded of this during our stay down at the beach. Our granddaughter Ella thought sleeping in the same room as Mommy and Daddy meant more time to play ... when Mommy and Daddy (and the rest of us) wanted to sleep! (In all reality it wasn't that bad for us ... with the exception of Mommy and Daddy!) Having said this ... let me put a plug in to ask you to pray for our team down in Mexico this week ... and our team leaving for India on August 8th. Pray for their adjustments to new surroundings, food, situations, etc.

3. There is NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Despite being blitzed by the demands of my work -- I can honestly say that I am so very glad to be back - sleeping in my own bed, typing on my own computer, reclining on my living room lazy boy. Home is where I feel most comfortable (thanks Sharon for making it such a wonderful place to "kick back" and relax!). And of course, this is just a foretaste of our real home ... a place called HEAVEN! Are you ready to go? Have you made peace with God?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VACATION TIME IS HERE!


I will not be posting until next Wednesday. I am leaving this morning for a family vacation with my wife and our kids. We will be enjoying some hardcore beach time for the next several days.

So until I get back ... may God bless you and keep you ... and make HIS face shine upon you! And in turn - allow his light to shine through you upon others!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joy in Serving Others!

Sharon and I arrived home last evening after an all-day drive from Cincinnati, Ohio. Was I ever glad to see our driveway! Dorothy was right - "There's no place like home!"

During our time at Celebrate 2010 (the national conference for our Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches), Sharon and I enjoyed many aspects of the conference. The worship celebrations were just that - opportunities for celebrative worship and challenges from God's Word. It was also great to connect with other "Grace Brethren" people from around the world and to hear stories of God at work throughout our fellowship of churches.

On Saturday, Sharon and I took part in "We Care Miami Valley." This ministry initiative of serving included both the adults of Celebrate 2010 and the youth of Momentum 2010. We came together in the Dayton, Ohio area to serve churches and para church ministries. Sharon and I chose to come alongside of the ministry of the Dayton Vineyard Church in inner city Dayton. We did so because the youth of our church were also assigned to serve there (as were the youth of three other churches). As it turned out, Sharon and I served about three hours or so, painting in the kitchen of the Vineyard church (see photo). And the students we served with were not our students but teens from a Grace Brethren Church in Norwalk, CA!

Even though my body reminded me the next day of all the bending I had done on Saturday, I was so glad to be able to lend a hand where a hand was needed. And isn't that what God calls us to do? "You, my brothers, were called to be free. Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13). Look for someone who needs a hand today .... and extend yours!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 16, 2010

Racing in the Wrong Direction!


I have been enjoying reading a newly published biography on the German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I have been amazed over and over again by this man who, at the cost of his life, stood up for his beliefs in the gospel of Christ while standing against the evil of the Nazi regime. If you are looking for an inspiring read, I highly recommend this book!

One of the many Bonhoeffer quotes that I highlighted is the following: “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” His words got me thinking. How many people in this world are currently on the wrong train? Many! And as far as eternity is concerned, it does not matter what they are doing on that train ... they are headed for destruction (Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death"). Life for so many is like a train heading for a bridge that crosses a deep gorge ... and the bridge is no longer there having been washed away in a flash flood. The engineer is clueless (as are all the passengers) about their fate that lays ahead of them.

Friends, this describes so many of those who work and play and live next door, across the street, or across the office. Let's pray for them ... and seek out the opportunities that God will give us to proclaim the gospel of Christ!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time Is a Precious Gift - Don't Waste It!


Suresh Joachim might not be a household name here in the U.S. (and probably most other places in the world). But he does hold a world record. Last year Jocachim set the Guinness world for consecutive hours of television viewing. And just how long did Joachim stay glued to the tube? 72 hours! That's three days! And he did it by drinking some 30 cups of coffee.

Now I don't know about you. But quite frankly I am not all that impressed. Big deal. The guy watched TV for three straight days without falling asleep or taking a "time out." At the end of the day, what impact will his feat have on this desperately needy world in which we live? But before I go too far dismissing Joachim for wasting his time, I need to look in my own mirror (and I suspect you do as well). How much of what I do is, in the grand scheme of things, a literal waste of time. Now I am not saying that when we pause from life's busyness to watch a television program (or engage in any type of recreation) that we are wasting our time. All work and no play is a certain recipe for burnout. But I think all of us could stand to benefit by taking stock of how we spend our time - especially given the opportunities around us to work for God's kingdom! God tells us in His Word that we are to be "making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Remember, every minute you spend doing something .... anything ... is gone forever!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Follow the Evidence!


When CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) first hit the television airwaves, I was a fairly consistent viewer. I enjoyed watching how these men and women would meticulously comb over and over a crime scene, collecting as much evidence as they could find. And once they had the evidence -- they would allow it to tell them what happened. One line I heard repeated over and over again was "Just follow the evidence."

I have thought of that often when I have run across individuals who are hard core evolutionists. These individuals certainly don't follow the evidence. Here's just one (of many that I could offer) line of evidence as an example. DNA is a nucleic acid that is found in every human cell. It carries our genetic information. The volume of this information is mind boggling. A single human cell contains enough information storing capacity to hold all the information contained in the 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica some 3 or 4 times over! That's amazing! Now just where did this huge mountain of highly complex information come from? Many scientists liken the genetic code of DNA to a very sophisticated computer program. Hmm. Every computer program that I know of had a computer programmer(s) behind it. But evolutionists want us to believe that across the course of millions and millions of year that DNA simply wrote its own code? In my mind that required far more faith than believing that an Intelligent Designer (a.k.a. "God") wrote the code! If we simply follow the evidence - it leads us right to Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Few Questions to Ponder


Today as I start my work week (I usually take Monday off), I offer you a few questions to ponder.

1. If Americans are growing more spiritual, why is our culture becoming less moral? A recent report from the Princeton Religion Research Center was labeled with the headline, "Religion is Gaining Ground, but Morality is Losing Ground." The report showed that even though our society has seen an increase recently in church attendance and Bible reading there is, at the same time, a marked decline in morality (a quick look at a newspaper or an Internet news site will confirm this reality of a declining morality!). So what is the answer to this question? Philip Ryken, in his book, Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today's Moral Crisis, offers this assesment:

"How can people be more interested in God and at the same time less willing to do what he says? The only explanation is that people do not know the God of the Bible, because if they did, they would recognize the absolute authority of his law. Respect for God always demands respect for his law. And whenever people have a low regard for God's law, as they do in our culture, it is ultimately because they have a low regard for God."

Ryken, I believe, hits the proverbial nail on the head!

2. Are we as a culture too obsessed with "safety?" Now that I am a grandparent, I have been reintroduced to the world of baby things. In this process I have been struck by how things have changed since my kids were babies and toddlers (some 26 plus years now). For one thing, most toys now require batteries (I am convinced that toy makers and battery manufacturers got together to conspire against the American parent!). But I am also amazed at how "safe" everything has become. So much so that I am amazed that I and my children even lived to adulthood! Now I am all about keeping my grand kids safe. But I just wonder ... have we gone overboard with this? For those of us who are Christ followers, we need to remember that it does not matter where we are or what we are doing ... our safety ultimately comes from the fact that we are in the sovereign God's hands - and He will keep us safe! (see Tuesday July 6th posting).

3. Why does Jesus love me? My wife and I taught our children the song, "Jesus Loves Me" and plan to teach it also to our grandchildren. But did you ever stop to wonder, "Why does Jesus love me (or you)?" The Scripture is clear that from God's perspective, there really is NOTHING loveable about us (just take a moment and read the opening verses of Ephesians 2 and you will see what I mean). Yet in spite of who I was, God chose to love me! Wow! That blows me away!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 9, 2010

Think on This!

A desperate farmer once went to see his rabbi. “Rabbi,” the farmer began, “I need help!” “What is the problem?” the Rabbi asked. Quickly the farmer explained how he was going crazy in his small house with all the commotion and noise. After all, he had a talkative wife, three rowdy boys and a baby girl who cried non-stop! The Rabbi thought for a moment and then asked the harried farmer if he had a chicken. “Of course,” the farmer responded. “I have a whole flock of chickens.” “Well, then,” said the Rabbi, “Go bring one of the chickens in the house.” So the perplexed farmer went home and did as the Rabbi suggested.

Early the next morning, the farmer was pounding on the Rabbi’s door. “Rabbi, I did what you suggested. Now things are worse than before!” After stroking his beard, the Rabbi then told the farmer to go home and bring his goat in the house. Since the Rabbi was a man of great wisdom, the farmer went home and brought his goat in the house.

Just after sunup the next day, the farmer was once again pounding on the Rabbi’s door. Again he expressed to the Rabbi that things were far worse now that the goat was in the house (along with the chicken, talkative wife, three rowdy boys and one crying baby girl). After a thoughtful pause, the Rabbi told him to go home and bring in his donkey. More confused than ever, yet knowing the Rabbi was a man of great wisdom, the poor farmer went home and pulled and yanked and pulled and yanked and finally got the donkey into his house.

The next day BEFORE dawn, the farmer was once again pounding on the Rabbi’s door. “Rabbi, I did all you have told me to do. I brought in the chicken, the goat, the donkey – and things are worse than they have ever been!” The Rabbi sighed and looked toward heaven. Then he told the farmer to go home and take the donkey and the goat and the chicken and return them to their proper place. Wearily (and now wondering if this Rabbi was a man of great wisdom) the farmer went home and did as the Rabbi suggested.

Around mid-morning on the following day, the farmer returned once again to see the Rabbi. “Rabbi, I must thank you for what you have done for me. The peace and quiet of my home is truly an amazing gift! Thank you!” Leaving a basket of eggs, bread and cheese with the smiling Rabbi, the happy farmer returned home to his talkative wife, three rowdy boys and baby girl who cried non-stop.

The moral of this story? No matter how bad you might “have it” – it could always be worse!

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vuvuzela Madness!

I have watched enough world cup soccer games that I have become deaf to the steady drone of the vuvuzela horns in the background. This does not mean that I would relish the experience of a fan sitting behind me, tooting his vuvuzela all through a baseball game. So I am hoping vuvuzelas remain on the far side of the Atlantic!

Yesterday I ran across the following You Tube video involving vuvzelas. As I watched and listened to this video, I both laughed and cringed. This is what happens when one takes an object and attempts to do something with it ... something that the object was really never designed to do. Sometimes Christians are like this. We take on ministries for which God had not shaped us (and the truth that God does shape us for specific ministries and tasks can be seen in Ephesians 2:10). So ... after you view the video (and laugh or cry) ... ask yourself, how has God shaped me? And how should I be using my God-given shape to serve Christ, His Church and the world?



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Tale that IS Stranger than Fiction!

Most people in the small rural community of Wyalusing in upstate Pennsylvania thought Jean Stevens, a 91 year old widow lived alone in her small, rundown house. True if you would only count the living bodies in the house. Recently someone tipped off state police that Jean had two dead family members still "living" with her. That's right. Jean by her own admission finds death "hard to take." So shortly after her husband was buried in the local cemetery in 1999, she had his embalmed body exhumed and placed on a couch in a detached garage. Then when her twin sister died last October, she had her body exhumed. She kept her twin sister's body in a spare room off the bedroom. Until police arrived and removed the body, Jean did her best to keep the remains of both her husband and twin sister, giving both bodies her best tender loving care. When questioned as to why she did it, she expressed her fear that after death ... there is nothing. In addition to her fear of death, Jean is extremely claustrophobic. Therefore, she could not bear the thought of her loved ones being cooped up in a coffin six feet under the ground!

As I read this article yesterday, the expression, "Truth is stranger than fiction" came to my mind. I was also saddened that this woman has no hope of heaven ... for either herself or her loved ones. If you are a follower of Jesus and therefore possess a hope of heaven and the promise of a glorious inheritance reserved for you in eternity, then take a moment and thank God that you do! For without HIS grace, you would be as this woman is - without God and without hope in this world! And then, after thanking God for your salvation, determine today with God's help, to intentionally point someone toward Jesus! For He and He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except by Him! (see John 14:6).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eyeing a Toddler ... and God's Watch Care of Us!

This past Saturday (July 3rd), my siblings (half of them, that is) and our families got together for a family picnic at a park on the west side of York, PA. Since two of our children and their spouses were unable to make it, we offered to take their kids. So we packed up our car with our food contributions for lunch and then stopped by our son's and daughter's houses to pick up Ella and Nathan (Ella is 14 months old, Nathan is 10 years old).

Shortly after arriving at the park, Nathan took off to play with a bunch of my nephews, several who are about his same age. For the rest of our time there, Nathan was doing something or other with the guys. Not so with Ella. She required constant supervision. Of course, given just how cute she is (as are most 14 month old toddlers) - we had plenty of help. But I will admit, Grandma and Papa John were a bit tired when we arrived home late that afternoon.

As I thought back on our day this morning, it hit me that our watching of Ella is somewhat like God's watching of us. Just as we keep a constant eye on her (at least we do our best to do so!) - so God keeps a constant eye on us (Jesus reminds us that if God's eye is on the sparrow, then His eye is definitely on us as well! - see Matthew 10:29-31). We watch Ella so she does not fall into harm. And we do so gladly because of our love for her. So it is with God. His constant oversight of us is done with our best interests at heart, for He loves us deeply. But there is one way that our watching over of Ella and God's watching over of us is different. We grow tired. We get distracted. But not God! Please take a moment and read what the psalmist wrote about the wonderful watch care of God. Then worship Him who loves you so and keeps a constant eye on you!

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!


Today as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of our nation. Two-hundred and thirty four years ago today, our Founding Fathers adopted a document that declared the independence of the thirteen American colonies from England. It took another seven years before the colonies were actually free. As you celebrate our American freedom today, don't forget to celebrate the greater freedom you enjoy as a believer in Christ. As Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). Jesus Christ sets us free from sin - it's penalty and its power over us. We are now free to become the people God always intended for us to be. Now that's freedom!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tongue Tied?


All too often when Christians are talking with unbelievers (whether they are neighbors, co-workers, classmates or family members), they find themselves tongue tied when thinking about speaking up for Christ (been there, done that!). Often it is simply a case of not knowing how to get the conversation steered in a spiritual direction. Donald Whitney has put together a list of ten questions believers in Christ can use to open up spiritual chats. You can find his helpful article, "Ten Questions to Ask to Turn a Conversation toward the Gospel" at http://www.biblicalspirituality.org/gospelq.html. Certainly a list worth committing to memory so you have them at your disposal as you talk with those who need to hear the gospel!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It is Nice to Be Wanted!


Earlier today my wife, Sharon called me. She wanted to tell me that when our 14 month old granddaughter, Ella, got up from her nap - the first thing she "said" was "Pa ... Pa ..." I must admit, that brought a warm feeling to my heart. It sure is nice to be wanted!

God wants us. He invites us into His presence to enjoy Him. But far too often we are too busy (or so we think) to carve out time from our busy and often downright hectic schedules in order to spend some quiet time in His presence. As a result, our relationship with God suffers. And when that relationship suffers - all others will as well. Friends, (and I am really talking to myself on this!!!) we need to get more intentional about spending some quiet time in the presence of our God. The first and greatest commandment from our God (and therefore our first and greatest priority in life) is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (see Mark 12:28-30). One way we deepen our love for God is to get away ... get alone ... and get into His Word (which is the written revelation of His nature, character, wisdom, will and plan). As we quietly reflect on Scripture in HIS presence - His Spirit will bind our heart and soul to Him!

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.