Count your BLESSINGS!

Every day from 7 AM to 3 PM our host family in Daund, India could rely on one thing - no electricity. India cannot generate enough electricity to meet the demands of its people, so rolling blackouts are a part of life. In addition to these scheduled blackouts, the loss of power can also occur at other times. This happened on our last morning in Daund (ever try shaving by flashlight?). The power went out around 4 AM and, I am guessing it stayed out until at least 3 PM that day. What amazed me is how the Indian people take it all in stride. If that were to happen here in the U. S. --- you can just imagine the public outcry!

This (among many other things) reminded me of just how much we have here in the States. We are so wealthy compared to much of the world. Yet we can so easily find things to gripe and complain about, can't we? Let me encourage you to count your blessings today - among which are the many things you (and I) take for granted (like reliable electrical service, clean water, a stocked refrigerator, an automobile to drive, etc.). God has been so good to us here in America. And it's so easy to lose sight of this. But I am grateful that God helps me to regain a focus on His provision for me every time I travel to a developing country. So let's thank God for His generous provision ... and at the same time use our God-given abundance to help those less fortunate.

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Joy and Sorrow!

During my time in India I experienced a lot of joy - the first dose of which occurred when I saw the boys lined up to greet us as we entered the CFI campus. Even though I was about to collapse from fatigue (36 hours of continuous travel with little sleep will do that to a person!), when I got out of the vehicle and began walking down the path between the two column of boys all shouting, "Hello Uncle!" - I found the adrenaline that began rushing through my veins made me forget all about my tired body and foggy mind. Oh was it was good to be back at CFI! However, no sooner had I begun to soak in the joy, I was forced to confront a reality that brought great sadness. "Uncle," several of the older boys cried out to me, "Sarug, gone!" These boys knew that for nine years (since Sarug arrived at CFI as a hurting and hungry 6 year old), my wife and I had been Sarug's sponsor. Sarug, however was now gone. He had run away a few times in the past year and when he went "home" to visit family this past May, he never returned (I have since found out that he takes cattle to the fields to graze - which is about as low as one can go in Indian society). Talk about throwing rain on what had been a really good parade!

Now fast forward to my last weekend in India. As I exited the church after preaching on Sunday morning, a beautiful young woman named Alka and her new husband, Satish (just married in June) approached me. My heart jumped with joy as I embraced this young woman and gave her a hug not just from me but from my wife as well. Alka was just a little girl of 6 or so when we began supporting her back in 1992. She lived at Boys and Girls Christian Home, located in Chaddur Bazzar which is not far from the campus of CFI. After graduating from school, she went on for a three year stay at Maharashtra Bible College. During her time there, Sharon and I continued to send support for her schooling. Then in May, when I heard she was in need of financial help with her wedding expenses, Sharon and I gave to help meet that need. So knowing that background, I think you can better understand why I was overjoyed to see her. And since one of our prayers for Alka in recent years was that she marry well - I was just as overjoyed to meet her husband. He is a carpenter (and therefore able to provide for a family) and he is a pastor-evangelist (and thus loves God with a great passion). What a joy to see Alka and Satish face-to-face!

Sponsoring children in India has proven to be a wonderful experience. Since Sarug is no longer at CFI, my wife and I just chose a little 4 year old boy to begin to sponsor. He and his older brother were just brought to CFI in July. Their mother had died and their father is a deaf mute and unable to care for himself, let alone two boys.

Currently both my daughters and their spouses sponsor a CFI boy, and my son on my return from India expressed the desire that he and his wife also want to begin to sponsor a child. How about you? For a mere $30 a month you can sponsor a little boy -- providing him with food, clothing, shelter, health care and an education. But most important of all - you can help a child hear about the One who loves the little children and gave His life for them. Now that's a joy worth knowing!

For info on how you can sponsor, please email me at

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Back Home!

When Ted Long (one of the India team members who remained with me in India when the rest of the team left last Thursday night to return to the States) and I left our hotel in Bombay Monday evening (8:30 pm Bombay time; 11:00 Monday morning Lancaster time) - we were more than ready to get home. Both of our flights (Bombay to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Newark) were on time. Once on the ground in Newark, we breezed through immigration, baggage claim and customs. We only had to wait 20 minutes to connect with our ride ... and we were home by about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. I couldn't quite see straight at that point (I had only slept about an hour on the plane). But I saw straight enough to know I was back in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of home!

Going to India always stretches me. And this trip perhaps a little more as I struggled a good bit with my health (which is not the norm for me). But at the end of the day, God proved Himself strong and faithful - as He always does. I believe our team accomplished our goals at the orphanage, and I saw God's blessing on my ministry of the Word this past weekend at both Norton Memorial Christ Church in Daund and Union Biblical Seminary in Pune.

Am I thankful to be home? YEP? But at the same time I am very grateful to God for the opportunities He gave to me and our 14 member team from Grace. I'll give a bit more details in the next few days. And for those of you who prayed -- a heartfelt "THANK YOU!" It was through your prayers that God gave us the strength to serve!

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Madder than a Wet Hen!

The expression "Madder than a wet hen" comes from the fact that chickens in no way like to find themselves in water. And if they do happen to fall into the drink, they flap and cluck, doing all they can to get out (to say chickens don't swim very well would be an understatement!).

Earlier this week, 34 year old Omar S. Thornton was called into a meeting with his employer. Thornton had been caught on video tape stealing beer from the company. At this particular meeting, he was given the choice of resigning his job or being fired. He chose the former. Then on his way out, he pulled a couple of handguns out of his lunch box and opened fire. His rampage led to the deaths of 9 people, including himself (he committed suicide).

In the aftermath of this horrendous act, questions have been raised as to the motives of the shooter. According to his own testimony (recorded on a 911 call he made after shooting his victims and just prior to the taking of his own life), Thornton claimed that he had been the victim of racial harassment (he is African American) and so he wanted to fix the problem. So bottom line ... Thorton was "madder than a wet hen."

Now I don't know if Thorton was a victim of racial harassment as he claims (it certainly is possible as racial prejudice is not by any means dead in this country). But I do know he was very troubled and very angry! And this tragedy illustrates just how destructive anger can be. It hurts those around us ... and it hurts us, too! This is why the Bible is very explicit on how we are to handle our anger. In Ephesians 4:26 the Apostle Paul tells us how God wants us to handle anger: "In your anger do not sin; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." We are going to get angry. But when we do we are to be careful not to sin. We are to deal with our anger when it arises, not allowing it to simmer and smolder until it reaches the boiling point (which is what Thorton allowed to happen!). I tell people who have anger problems to look beneath the anger and identify the reason for the anger. Only then can one begin to get a handle on one's temper.

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Are Our Prayers Really All That Important?

I don't know how it is with you, but all too often I find that my "prayer life" stinks. Really. I know I should pray. I know I should pray more. But the urgent tasks of my busy life will often crowd out the truly important activities - one the most important being that of communing with my Father in heaven (for more on this "tyranny of the urgent" I encourage you to pick up and read the little booklet by that name written by Charles E. Hummel - it's a great read!).

This morning as I was reading through 1 Peter, I was convicted of my "prayerlessness." In particular it was the following verse that the Spirit of God used to get my attention:

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Peter 4:7)

When Peter mentions that the "end of all things is near," he is referring to the return of Christ and the end of this world as we know it now. In light of the fact that Christ's return is imminent (i.e. - it could happen at any time!), we need to work at thinking clearly and living holy. And the reason he gives for this is not that we would be able to point people more effectively to Christ. Nor is it that we would be in a better position to encourage our fellow Christians in their journeys of grace. Rather the reason we are to think clearly and live holy in the face of Christ's imminent return is so that we can pray! Wow! Peter thought prayer was important (and since what Peter wrote here was via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we can say God views prayer as important!).

"Father, help me to become the man of prayer you want me to be ... and those around me need me to be!"

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P.S. As you pray today, please pray for me as I continue to work on some messages I will be preaching during my upcoming trip to India. Thanks!

One Way to Make a Point!

All of us have been in either a store, a restaurant or some other public place when a young child(ren) have run wild! When I see that, I feel sorry for these kids. If they don't learn self control when they are young there are heading for nothing but trouble later in life.

I am sure that retailers and restaurant managers grow weary of asking parents to "corral " their out-of-control offspring. But one restaurant management of an eatery I recently visited sought to be proactive from the moment people walked in their door. Hanging prominently adjacent to their front reception desk was a cute sign that read, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." The sign, meant to be humorous, was this restaurants way of saying, "Parents, please keep your child in check!"

Parenting has always been challenging ... perhaps never more than it is today. But it is a challenge worth "grabbing by the horns!" Children are a gift from God (see Psalm 127:3). So parents, no matter how weary they might be from the demands of a busy routine, must treat their kids the gifts that they are (vs. just another burden to bear!).

Parents, let me encourage you to do something that will be the very best thing you could ever do if you want to be the kind of parent that your kids need you to be. Make your relationship with God the #1 priority in your life! Seek Him. Get into His Word - and then seek, with HIS help to "put it into practice!" The more you love God, the better equipped you will be to love your children!

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Talk about Greed!

How much do you think a city manager of a 36,000 resident city should be paid? Before answering this question, consider these figures: The President of the United States (population 350 million) is paid $400,000 per year. The salary level of the Mayor of New York City (population 8.3 million) is set at $195,000 per year (although billionaire Mayor Bloomberg receives only $1.00 per year in salary as he declines the city's salary). The city manager of Los Angeles (population over 4 million) earns a $200,000 salary. Now, given these figures back to my original question: How much do you think a city manager of a 36,000 resident city should be paid? I hope you are sitting down for this answer. Robert Rizzo, the city manager of Bell, California (population 36,522 - 2009 estimate), makes an astonishing $787,637 a year! That's right! He makes $387, 637 more than the President! And his salary level is set at over $500,000 above the salary levels of the Mayor of NYC and the City Manager of nearby LA! When news of his outlandish salary (and those of other Bell government officials) became public - the outcry was so loud and strong that Rizzo (and several other resigned). My guess is that they will also have to move to another state!

How did all this happen (Rizzo started as Bell's City Manager in 1993 at a salary of $72,000. By the time he resigned 17 years later his salary had increased over 1000%!!!)? I am not sure all the ins and outs of how it was done. But I do have a good idea behind the motivation of it all - GREED! That's right! Simple, unadulterated greed!

Greed is something we must all guard against - and I don't care if you have little or much in terms of money (Billionaire J.Paul Getty was once asked, "How much is enough?" He replied, "Just a little bit more!"). Now the problem is not with money per se. Some people misquote Scripture when they say, "Money is the root of all evil." But that is NOT what the Bible states. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about money and ALL of us would benefit from taking heed to what he says!

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

My friends --- did you "hear" that? The answer to greed (the love of money which is the root of ALL kinds of evil) is godliness with contentment! Are you pursuing godliness? Are you content with God's provision of your needs? Not easy to do in our consumeristic culture ... but by God's grace - we can learn the secret of being content!

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Worship the Resurrected Christ!

If you have a few minutes ... or even if you don't ... I would encourage you to watch this video. World renown artist, Ron DiCianni talks about his two year project of painting the largest mural in the world of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wow! This is incredible! Praise God we serve, love, trust, obey and worship a LIVING SAVIOR!

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Friday Coffee with PJ

My apologies for missing the past several Fridays. I was off last week, and the previous couple of weeks I got caught up in the Thanksgivi...