The Vanishing Mind

Across the years of my pastoral ministry ... I have noted two regrettable "vanishings." I am reminded of the first every time I look in the mirror or see myself in a photo. The hair that once totally covered my head has been vanishing for some 25 years or so. I have resigned myself to my hair loss ... and in fact, enjoy the low maintenance hair style that I now sport (my remaining hair is dry as soon as I turn the shower off!). No "bad hair days" for me!

The second "vanishing" concerns me much more. It is the vanishing of the mind. Increasingly people in our culture are disengaging their minds - and this includes the majority of people who attend what we would call "evangelical" churches. People no longer discuss what they "think" about life. Instead, people talk about how they "feel" about things. Now I am not opposed to emotions ... and engaging them in the various arenas of life. But it is troubling to see how the emotions are given such high prominence in the decision making process that we undergo each day.

For this reason, I was thrilled to see John Piper's new book (just came out on September 15th). The title is Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. In the book's introduction, Piper talks about the fact that the ultimate goal of our lives must be to glorify God (and Scripture most emphatically makes that point!). Piper then goes on to say the following:

"The way we glorify him is by knowing him truly, by treasuring him above all things, and by living in a way that shows he is our supreme treasure (see Philippians 1:20-21; Philippians 1:23; Philippians 3:8). Therefore, the main reason God has given us minds is that we might seek out and find all the reasons that exist for treasuring him in all things and above all things. The more we see of his surpassing greatness and knowledge and wisdom and power and justice and wrath and mercy and patience and goodness and grace and love, the more we will treasure him. And the more we treasure him, the more he is consciously and joyfully glorified. The point of this book is that THINKING is a God-given means to that end."

I am looking forward to reading Piper's book. I, for one, want to discover more reasons for treasuring God above all else!

Thanks for stopping by. . .


But That's not in the Plan!

Plans. We all make them. Seek to implement them. Hope to realize them. But often our plans don’t quite work out the way we hoped. When I was a senior in high school, my plan was to go off to college and major in chemistry and become a chemist. Gladly, that plan did not work out. When Sharon and I got married, our plan was for me to work our first year while she finished college. Then she would work full-time while I attended seminary, after which I would seek a pastorate. At that point we would begin a family. That plan lasted ten months. Our first born, Emily, came along during Sharon’s spring break of her senior year. I could go on … but I think you get my point. No matter how well thought out our plans might be – there are no guarantees that they will come to pass.

Not so with God’s plans! His plans are set in granite. What God purposes WILL happen! No ifs, ands or buts about it! In Psalm 33:11 we read, “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” I don’t know about you – but I find a lot of comfort knowing that God’s plans for this world (and for me!) will one day be a reality! Why? Because when you read the finally chapter of the good Book – you will see that in the end, “Jesus is going to win!” So in the midst of this world’s ongoing turmoil, take heart in that! A better day IS coming!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Elmo Attacked

One of my 17 month old granddaughter's favorite "character's" is Sesame Street's Elmo (as pictured on her bib). Not only does she have an Elmo bib, she also has an Elmo tee shirt, an Elmo book, and Elmo DVD and a stuffed talking Elmo. She loves her Elmo. And she's not alone. There are millions of other children who also love Elmo. But the beloved status of Elmo did not deter a thug in Winter Park, Florida from attacking Elmo. That's right. A music store hired a man to wear an Elmo suit as some sort of sales promotion. According to police, a man approached "Elmo" around 3 PM this past Saturday and began throwing punches. "Elmo" fought back. He was able to fend off the attacker - breaking a few fingers on the assailant's hand in the process. Officers who were called to the scene and were able to break up the fight. Fortunately no children were in the store at the time (how unsettling would that be for a young child .. to see Elmo in a fight?). Yet children unfortunately and far too often witness something that is much more unsettling - Mommy and Daddy fighting.

Now it is inevitable that married couples will encounter conflict in their relationships. This is due to the fact that we are imperfect beings. When two imperfect beings live together under the same roof - there is bound to be some disagreements. Most are small ... but there are some that can rock the foundations of the relationship. But no matter the size of the issue causing the tension, Christian couples must learn to deal with conflict in a biblical way. For some thoughts on how to do so .... check out the following article, Five Keys to Resolving Marital Conflict ( Your children need the security that comes from a harmonious relationship between Mom and Dad.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Train Up A Child

Yesterday we (my wife, son and his wife and my daughter) decided to have a bit of fun with my son-in-law Ryan (who is a stout Eagle's fan). Since my family are all Pittsburgh Steeler fans (we lived in Pittsburgh for five years prior to living here in Lancaster), we decided to wrap our new little addition to the family in a Steeler Terrible Towel. So while he was out of the hospital room, we took the towel supplied by my son and his wife and did the deed (a dastardly deed from Ryan's perspective)! Of course, when Ryan saw what we had done, he responded just as we had hoped. Later I posted a pic of Jack wrapped in the black and gold on my Facebook page ... and it managed to generate a few comments which only added to our fun (but looking at Jack's face, you have to admit he appears to be enjoying the moment!).

Proverbs 22:6 talks about child rearing. In fact, it may very well be the most quoted verse about parenting. But far too many parents view this verse wrongly. They see it as an iron clad promise from God. And therefore, when their child reaches adulthood and strays from the Faith they have been taught - the parents grow frustrated and angry. That anger is often directed at God. After all, they had done their job as parents. They had trained their child in the way he or she should go ... and yet their child as an adult went a different way! So in their minds they did not fail, God did! He failed to deliver on His promise.

But God never makes an iron clad promise to parents that if they do this and that - that their children will follow in the Faith. The proverbs in the Old Testament book of Proverbs are not promises. Rather they are "truisms." General principles about life that, for the most part are true. But there are exceptions. And when the exceptions come in the realm of parenting, the exceptions are down right heart breaking!

I once heard James Dobson, found of the pro-family ministry Focus on the Family make a statement that should prove helpful to all Christian parents. He said that most Christian parents take too much credit when their kids turn out well ... and too much blame when they don't. Those are words worth thinking about!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Waiting for Baby

Right now I am sitting alone in a hospital coffee shop. Just a few hundred feet away, behind a few security check points and a closed door my youngest daughter is in the final stage of labor. My wife is with her along with her husband Ryan (when the midwife showed up and announced that it was time to push, that was my cue to exit- which I did most willingly - although part of me would like to be present to greet my grandson as he enters the world - but just a small part :)!!!

As I sit here sipping my coffee, a lot of questions are meandering around inside my head. What will "Little Slugger" (my wife's and my name for our yet-to-be-named grandson) look like? Will he have a lot of hair (won't need much to beat out Papa John!)? What color will his hair be? What will he weigh? How long will he be? Will he arrive waving a Pittsburgh Steeler terrible towel? :) But most pressing is the much more heavy question: Will he arrive healthy? That is THE question that tends to haunt most expecting parents (and grandparents). For good reason. There are no guarantees. The hospital promises good care - but cannot promise a healthy baby. All the prenatal care is a good thing but cannot assure a healthy newborn. But this is true of the world we live in. We are faced with uncertainties every day. So how do we handle these? The answer to this question is of utmost importance. For how we deal with life's uncertainties will go a long way toward determining the quality of our mental, emotional, physical and
spiritual well being.

So how should we handle the ups and downs .... the uncertainties of the world in which we live? Consider the following Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, John 14:1, Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5-6. All of these passages encourage us to trust God. And why not? Is there anyone who loves us more than our all-powerful Father in heaven? He sent His Son who, on the cross, went through hell for us so that we don't have to! Is there any greater love than that?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


PS - In case you did not hear, little John David Aument arrived safely and healthy yesterday at 12:40 PM. Thanks be to God!

The Costly Lordship of Christ!

I love to read. At any given time, I am probably reading a half dozen different books. One of the books I have been re-reading recently is the excellent book by Kevin DeYoung, The Good News We Almost Forgot. The book is a collection of devotionals that DeYoung wrote as he spent a year going through the Heidelberg Catechism, a 16th century writing that is among the world's most published works. This catechism is based in part on the ancient Apostle's Creed, an powerful statement of faith of historic Christianity. If you are looking for a good read that will stretch your faith and warm your heart - I HIGHLY recommend this book.

In his devotional titled, His Son Our Lord, DeYoung writes the following:

"Remember too, His lordship was also costly. Jesus Christ didn't establish His authority by taking prisoners, executing judgment, and shedding the blood of His enemies. He is Lord because He shed His own blood, bore God's judgment, and set the captives free. He purchased our bodies and souls with a commodity far more precious than stocks or bonds. He redeemed our lives by loving us enough to lose His own." (The Good News We Almost Forgot, p. 73).

Wow - that's a heart-gripping thought!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


P.S. - For those of you who attend Grace, be watching for more information about an exciting learning initiative coming to Grace in 2011 which involves this book by DeYoung.

Waiting for THE Phone Call!

Yesterday, as my wife and I were driving home after spending part of my day off sitting by the banks of the Cheasapeake Bay, she offered up a rather vocal and rather loud yawn. I almost jumped out of the driver's seat! "What's wrong?" I asked with more than a little urgency in my voice. "Nothing, dear. I just yawned." After calming down, my wife was quick to point out that I have been a bit "on edge" the past few days. She's right. I have been! Why? As many of you know, my youngest daughter Kate is expecting to deliver her first child any day now. Every time my cell phone rings I find myself thinking, "This is it! The baby is on the way!" You'd think after having gone through this three times with my wife that I'd be an old pro at this! But nope! The thought of the "baby" of our family having a baby of her own causes me great excitement and joy one moment and fear and trepidation the next!

So all this to say ... if you email me, call me, talk to me anytime in the next few days and I don't appear to be "all there" in my response - it's because I'm not. Please pray for me, that I can stay focused on my tasks. But more importantly, please pray for Kate and her husband, Ryan - and of course the little guy we have been affectionately calling, "Lil' Slugger."

Psalm 127:3 "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Couple of Early Week Questions

As you start day #2 of your work week ... here are two questions for you to ponder:

1. If we Christians say we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then why don't we spend more time reading, studying, meditating, memorizing it (things we MUST do if we are to put God's Word into practice - see Matthew 7:24-27)? I would think that if we really believed that the Bible is indeed God's Word (and therefore the written revelation of who God is and what He wants to accomplish in our world ... in and through us) - if we really believed this, I would think we would be "in" the scriptures with much more regularity and passion. Perhaps it's time for us to evaluate exactly what we do believe about the Bible.

2. Why is it that we who have chosen to follow Jesus are so easily distracted from our highest calling - that of following Christ? It just seems to me that it sometimes does not take much for me to get my eyes off of Jesus and onto other things that really don't mean all that much. I am convinced that part of this is due to the efforts of the Enemy. He knows how important it is that we fix our eyes on Jesus as we run the race marked out for us (see Hebrews 12:1-2). I am sure all of us would benefit from asking ourselves this question: "What steps can I take that will help me stay focused on Jesus as I go through my daily routine?"

It's always good to take time out for self evaluation. Take a moment and use these two questions to take a good and honest look at yourself! And ask the Spirit of God to help you!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


My Dying Lawn and the Word of God

Brown and scraggly. Accurate adjectives to describe what the grass in my yard looks like these days. And my guess is that if you live anywhere close to where I live in eastern Pennsylvania, you know what I am talking about. I have not had to cut my grass for quite some time now due to a lack of rainfall. And if these dry conditions continue, I probably won't have to cut it for some time to come (which, I must admit I am OK with!).

This condition of my grass reminds me of a verse from the Old Testament. In Isaiah 40:8 we read, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." The prophet is making a contrast that we all can get our minds around. All of us have seen grass withering (like right now) and flowers falling. Been there, seen that! But in contrast to that, we can have complete confidence in God's Word. It will never wither ... it will never fall. It will stand FOREVER!

This is a truth that is under attack in our "postmodern" world today. Even some who profess allegiance to Jesus, question the authority of God's Word. These individuals have bought into the view that to claim that the Bible is absolute truth and therefore authoritative for faith and practice is a claim of arrogance. But such a claim is not an arrogant claim ... I believe it is a biblical claim. Please take a moment and read the following quote which I found to be quite insightful and helpful:

"Jesus taught that absolute truth is knowable. He also taught that truth is found in the Word of God. Biblical leaders must take heed to Jesus' prayer in John 17:17 when he prayed to his Father, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Jesus believed that the sanctification of his followers would be the result of the truth of the Word of God. Truth is not a social construct. An individual, a culture, or even a community of believers, does not create it. Nor is it relative as some claim. The God of truth, through revelation, both natural and special, communicates it to us, his creatures. He does this in diverse ways (Hebrews 1:1-3), including the use of language and propositions. Over seventy-five times Jesus proclaimed, "I tell you the truth," with a certain knowledge that truth does in fact exist." (Gary Bredfeldt, Great Leader Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership)

So the Word of God stands today. It is true and it is absolutely true. Therefore, we must submit to it in every arena of life. And as we do we will begin to experience the reality described in 1 John 5:3: "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome."

Thanks for stopping by . . .


He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not . . .

Growing up, I never really doubted my dad's love for me. He worked hard, often working two jobs to provide for me, my mom and my four siblings. However, I cannot recall my dad ever saying to me, "John, I love you." Because of this, I determined from the get-go of having children, that I would always tell them that I loved them. Even now, when my son and I wrap up a phone call it's always with the words, "I love you." What I have done with my kids ... we are now doing with our grandkids. We want them to hear LOUD AND CLEAR that we LOVE them! And, of course, we strive to back up our words with our actions.

God is love. And He has expressed his love for us in an unmistakable manner. The Bible tells us that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Isn't it incredible to think that while we were God's enemies (see Romans 5:10, 8:7), Jesus Christ, the God-man was willing to go through "hell" on the cross for us? Wow! That's love! And for those of us who have been born again by the Spirit of God and are therefore now "in Christ" - there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love God has for us in Christ (see Romans 8:35-38). It's is truly reassuring to know that nothing I do or say or think today will cause God to love me any more or less than he does right now! His love for me is constant and unconditional. Knowing that is enough to make my day!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Cat Did That?

My son, Tim used to have a cat. Her name was Mary. For the most part she was a good cat. But that didn't change my view of cats. I don’t really like cats. It’s not that I hate them. It’s just that I can think of a thousand and one things that I like more – like a good root canal or a steaming bowl of Brussels sprouts – just to name a few. But there are many cat lovers in our world and the biggest one might just be a guy named Gary Rosheisen.

Gary lives in an apartment with Tommy in Columbus, Ohio. Tommy is Gary’s cat. A few years ago, Gary fell out of his wheelchair and onto the floor. Unable to move he remained where he fell until paramedics arrived. How did paramedics know he was in trouble? Tommy the cat apparently dialed 911. That’s right! You read what I wrote correctly. Gary had trained Tommy to hit the speed dial button for 911 on the phone that he kept on the living room floor. Gary always wondered if the training had taken. It had. When the 911 dispatcher received the call and no one was on the line (Gary had not gotten around to training Tommy to talk!), he notified authorities who decided to check things out. When they did they found Gary on the floor, the result of a mini-stroke. Concerning Tommy the cat, Gary was quoted as saying, “He’s my hero!” Tommy might have nine lives – and it seems that the one life Gary has he owes to his cat!

Just as Gary Rosheisen owes his life to his cat we too, owe someone our lives. That someone is Jesus Christ. Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He gave His life on the cross for us. We did not ask Him to do this and we certainly did not deserve such an act of sacrifice on our part. Yet “while we were still sinner (rebels against God), Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Doesn’t such sacrificial love demand something from us? Give it some thought. For your sake and for Jesus’ sake!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


It's a Small World!

Shortly after I finished preaching in Union Biblical Seminary's Chapel service during my recent time in India, I met one of the professors who teaches there at UBS. He approached me after the service and introduced himself. He wanted to speak to me because he had heard that I was associated with Lancaster Bible College (I am an adjunct professor there). This man had served for a number of years as a missionary in Guyana. He knew some LBC personnel as LBC would take students to Guyana on short term trips. When I heard "Guyana," I asked him about a high school buddy of mine who had served in Guyana as a missionary for a number of years. Turns out, my friend was his co-worker! So there I was in Pune, India - talking with a man I had never met about a mutual friend! One that he knew from South America and I knew from my home town in Pennsylvania! Wow! Talk about a small world!

Well, the world we live in is indeed growing smaller, much of which is due to the advances in transportation and technology that we have seen in recent years. But the world is also growing increasingly more troubled and violent. A glance at any newspaper or Internet news site reveals just how true this is. But this should not surprise those who know their Bibles. In 2 Timothy 3:1-4, the Apostle Paul writes,

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"

Sounds a lot like today, doesn't it? I believe we are in the last days. And these last days will not go on forever (that's why they are termed the "last" days!). These turbulent times in which we live will end when Jesus Christ returns from heaven to establish his kingdom. Are you ready for his return? When he comes back, will he find you faithful?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Perform Lasik Eye Surgery in Your Own Home?

Can you imagine performing Lasik eye surgery on yourself in the privacy of your own home? I can't! But yet, for $99.95 you can order your very own Lasik@home kit! And once you receive it ... all you have to do is follow four easy steps and you will be able to kiss your eye glasses goodbye! (I'm thinking you might be kissing your eyesight goodbye as well!). Now you might think I am making this up ... but you can check it out for yourself at On the site there are a couple of testimonials. Here is one that sort of grabbed my attention:

My LASIK@Home kit came in the mail just a few days after I ordered it. I was so excited that I used it that same night! My boyfriend helped me do it. It was all done in an hour and I didn’t feel a thing!

I am glad this gal did not feel anything ... But I wonder if this gal can SEE anything? I mean, who would take a LASER and shoot it into their eye? I sure would not, would you?

Now if you think the above is so far fetched that it cannot be true - you are RIGHT! It turns out the web site is a hoax. If you try to order the kit ... you will get an error code. But you can order the merchandise offered on the site (shirts, mugs, tote bags, etc.). My guess this is someone's attempt to make some money. And I would guess that they will do so!

So .... all this to say that we need to learn to discern. Too many people are gullible ... ready to believe whatever sounds like an easy ... or inexpensive route to go. And we who are followers of Christ need to learn how to practice biblical discernment, which is all about measuring the messages we receive through the filter of God's Word. Of course, to do so - we need to be IN the Scriptures? How about you? Do you have a plan for REGULAR Bible intake? I hope you do. My current plan is to complete the reading of the entire Bible by the end of 2010 (I have only the 17 books of OT prophecy to complete) and to read 1 chapter of the book of Proverbs each day for the remainder of the year. I am also reading a devotional book on how to memorize Scripture. Given the importance of God's Word - it's the least I can do!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Some Random Thoughts to Begin Your Week

Here are some random thoughts floating around my mind today . . .
Add Image
1. This morning it hit me that there are only 8 more days of summer (Autumn officially begins Wednesday, September 22 at 11:09 PM, Eastern Daylight Savings Time)! Where did the summer go? Summer picnics, our shore trip, my time in India -- all are now quickly fading in the rearview mirror of my life! All this is just another reminder of how quickly time passes (like a puff of steam - James 4:14) and how vital it is, therefore, to make the most of our God-given opportunities. Let's determine not to waste our time (and our lives) playing the Great American Game of Trivial Pursuit!

2. Yesterday was Grandparents Day. Back in 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a presidential proclamation designating the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The first official observance was held on September 9, 1979. Grandparents Day has been observed each year since. (Now ... all I have to do is educate my kids!) If you have grandparents that are still living, let me encourage you to send them a card or note, or better yet, give them a call or even a visit. You will make their day!

3. The NFL (that is the National Football League for you non-fans) is back! Now for some of you (perhaps a lot of you) that won't mean a whole lot. But I happen to enjoy football for many reasons. I find that I can "chill" nicely as I watch a game (unless, of course, it is one of my teams playing in a tight game -- then it becomes a bit stressful!). So count me as one who is glad to see the opening of the NFL's season.

4. Yesterday I preached from Proverbs on Wise Talk. I gave four insights on how to speak wisely. Here they are:

Weigh your words before speaking
Orient your words toward the needs of others
Respect the power of words
Discard wrong talk

If we all were to practice these tidbits of wisdom - we would all go along way toward controlling the dangerous little piece of flesh that wags between our jaws!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Friend and Brother on the Far Side of the World

I first met Pramod (pronounced "Prah-moad") as I served up the "bhajjis" (onion fritters) at the dinner following the ordination of Children's Fellowship of India's Director, P.C. Thorat. I noticed this certain man kept coming back for another handful of bhajjis. Finally, toward the end of the dinner when he returned for one final handful, he sheepishly looked at me and said, "I really like these!" I was more than happy to give him another supply! And he was more than happy to give me a HUGE smile in return.

That all occurred on Sunday, August 15th in Naya Akola. Fast forward to Friday, August 20. We were pulling up to the house of our host family for the weekend (I was preaching at Norton Memorial Christ Church in Daund, located some 300 miles from Naya Akola). So you can imagine my surprise when standing at the front door to welcome us was not only the man and woman of the home -- but also Pramod! I could not believe my eyes. Here, staying in the same house with us for the weekend was the bhajji man!

Across the course of the next few days, my admiration and respect grew by leaps and bounds for this man. Pramod grew up at Boys Christian Home, an orphanage now located close to CFI. He went on to Bible school and became a pastor. But when it came time for him to marry, an arranged marriage for him was hard to come by. As he related, "All the women turned me down because I was short (Pramod is only 4' 11" tall), I was a poor pastor, and I was an orphan." When he had almost lost hope of ever being married, God provided a very special woman for him. And today, he and Agnes are the parents of two grown daughters.

When we left Dound to begin our return trip to Mumbai (and eventually the States), I looked at Pramod and said to him, "Pramod, you may be small in stature - but you have a BIG heart!" All throughout the weekend he was busy serving us .... encouraging us ... and always with that big beautiful smile on his face. I am amazed at how much I grew to love this man in such a short time.

Would you please offer up a pray right now for Pramod. He pastors a small church in Nagpur in central India. And his ministry and life is not an easy one. And as I pray for him ... I am asking God that I might become more like him! (By the way, his name means "Delight!")

Thanks for stopping by . . .


You Must Be Born Again!

In his conversation with the very religious Pharisee, Nicodemus, Jesus stated quite clearly that Nicodemus needed to be "born again." What does this term mean? It is often used of people who are given a "new lease" ... and so a thriving company that was once on the verge of bankruptcy is said to have been "born again." A once-washed-up athlete who happens to land on the right team, surrounded by the right teammates and therefore experiences a rejuvenation of his career is said to have been "born again." A city, once mired in decay and crime but now seeing a resurgence of neighborhoods and business is referenced as being "born again." So when Jesus uses the term in John 3 -- is he using the term in the same way? Not quite. The term as Jesus used it refers to the act of regeneration. This occurs when the Living God reaches into the deadness of a person's soul and creates new spiritual life. And so at that point ... that individual experiences the new birth (or is "born again!"). One of the best books I ever read on this topic is the book Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again, written by John Piper and published in 2009.

Why did Piper write on this topic? Because from his vantage point (and I have to agree with him on this) far too many professing Christians don't really understand what being born again is all about. And so Piper wrote the book to help believers like you and me understand what happens to us when we experience the new birth. Here are three reasons he gives for his desire to help Christians understand the doctrine of regeneration:

1. When you are truly born again and grow in the grace and knowledge of what the Lord has done for you, your fellowship with God will be sweet, and your assurance that he is your Father will be deep. I want that for you.

2. If you know what really happened to you in your new birth, you will treasure God and his Spirit and his Son and his word more highly than you ever have. In this, Christ will be glorified.

3. In the process of believers discovering what really happened to them, the seriousness and the supernatural nature of conversion will rise and that, I pray, will serve a more general awakening of authenticity in the Christian church so that religious hypocrisy will diminish and the world will see real love and sacrifice and courage in the service of Christ.
(Finally Alive, Desiring God Foundation, 2009, p. 18).

If you are looking for a good read that will stretch your faith, warm your heart, and ignite your passion - this is it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Horrible Roads?

People who live in Pennsylvania often joke about our state's roads. Compared to neighboring states, our roads are often lacking! Recently, the Reason Foundation issued its 19th annual report on roads. Pennsylvania ranked 38th overall ... which surprised me somewhat. I would have thought our roads would have ranked much closer to 50!

As I thought about this report (and trust me, I did not think about it very long) - I had to admit our roads in places are pretty downright awful. However, compared to the roads I have been on in the past year (Central African Republic last September and India last month) - Pennsylvania's roads are stellar! Funny how perspective can change one's viewpoint!

This is why, my friend, it is so very important to view life from God's perspective. We must learn what He values ... what He views important -- and embrace them. Then and only then will we live our lives out to their ultimate potential. And the only way to get to learn God's perspective on life and reality is to get to know His Word! So --- are YOU in the Scriptures on a regular basis? I hope so!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Why Work? - part 2

In addition to the two reasons I gave yesterday in answer to the question, "Why work?" - I missed the most important motivator of all as to why we need to be gainfully employed. The apostle Paul gives this reason while addressing slaves in his letter to the church at Colosse. Keep in mind that what he says to slaves about their labor, (and slaves had no choice about who they worked for or what they did) is even more true for us (who do have a choice). Read carefully his words:

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:22-24).

Did you catch what he wrote? Ultimately we are working not for ourselves or our families, not for those in need, but we are working for the LORD! So in answer to the question, "Why work?" We work to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ! Wow! There is no greater motivator than that!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Why Work?

On Labor Day ... I think its a good time to remind ourselves as to what the proper motivation should be in working the jobs we work. Scripture gives us a couple of motivators ....

1. We should work to provide for the needs of our family. Two passages come to my mind as I contemplate this motive for gainful employment:

"For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." 11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8)

2. We should work in order to give to those in need.

"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. " (Ephesians 4:28)

During these times of economic turmoil, my prayers go out to those who would like to fulfill God's plan for their work life - but are either unemployed or underemployed. May God grant you the desire of your heart!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Monsoon Rains!

I saw an article on the Internet this week that reminded me of the weather we experienced while in India. Philip Dongre, the Executive Director of Children's Fellowship of India assured me last fall when we made the decision to travel to India in mid August of this year that the majority of the monsoon rains would be over by then. When we experienced a number of days of heavy rain (leaving much of CFI's campus quite water logged), he again assured me that this was not the norm. I was not convinced - until I saw this Internet article. According to this article, Mumbai has received 2,896 mm of rain since June 1st. Now that did not really register with me ... so I got my calculator out and converted the millimeters to inches. The result? 2,896 mm = 114 inches! Now that is a lot of rain! (here in eastern PA we receive, on average, approximately 43 inches of precipitation in a year) And, according to the report I read, August was the rainiest of the three months! (and the rain is not over yet!)

Now how does this compare (114 inches of rain and counting) with a normal monsoon season in India? Up until this year, the record rainfall for a monsoon season was 105 inches (set back in 1983). So you as you can see, Philip was quite right. This was not a normal Monsoon season.

But life is like that, isn't it. The "seasons" we experience are not always "normal." We face trials of many kind that interrupt the ebb and flow of the seasons of our lives. But this should not surprise us. It should be something for which we learn to be thankful! Really? Absolutely. It is true that trials are never easy to go through. They hurt! And sometimes they hurt a lot! So am I a masochist? Do I love pain for pain's sake? Not at all. But God tells us that there is great benefit to suffering. In James 1:2-4 we read,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Suffering is to be welcomed (and even REJOICED in) because of what it will do in our lives .... developing in us a perseverance which in turn will help us to grow in our faith. So the next time your current "season of life" is interrupted by a trial of some sort - view it for what it can be - "growing pains!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Divorce or Not to Divorce - That Is the Question!

Recently, I ran across the following comments about the recently announced divorce of Tiger Woods and his wife Elin. I thought the writer had some good insights into the whole marriage, divorce and sexual addiction scene. Please take a few minutes to read the article. It will be some time well spent!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


The Tragedy of Tiger and Elin
Sarah Jennings Family Editor

Major news outlets are reporting that Tiger Woods' marriage to Elin Nordegren officially ended on Monday. I am so sad for this couple and their children, ages 3 and 1.

In their joint statement, Tiger and Elin state, "While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us. Once we came to the decision that our marriage was at an end, the primary focus of our amicable discussions has been to ensure their future well-being."

Sadly, the demise of their marriage was a major blow to their children's future well-beings. It's not that the kids can't learn to cope with their new reality. But couples so often make the mistake of compartmentalizing their children into a separate category from their marriage.

Divorcing couples often don't comprehend that statements like, "Mommy and Daddy may not love each other anymore but we still love you" send incredibly confusing messages to a child. Because a child comes from both Mom and Dad. A child shares Dad's eyes and Mom's nose. Dad's tenacity and Mom's kindness. At their very core, children cannot split Mom and Dad in two because that is like splitting their own selves in two.

How can Mommy not love Daddy and still love me when I am just like Daddy?

Kids are not only genetically intertwined with both parents but emotionally they are fiercely attached to both parents. So it is confusing and distressing when the two people they adore, the two people who define their very existence, don't adore each other and don't want to exist together.

I love Daddy. I need Daddy. But... should I? Mommy doesn't. Is he trustworthy? Is my mom trustworthy? Who is wrong? Me? Mommy? Daddy? Who is right? Anyone?

More than anything else, divorce demonstrates the sacredness of marriage. The shattering of a family reveals the incredible bonds that were never meant to break - that no man was to separate (Matt 19: 6). The child will spend the rest of his childhood - perhaps even his life - doing the hard work of reconciling the two worlds his parents chose not to reconcile (a reality Elizabeth Marquardt articulates so well in her book Between Two Worlds). Splitting may make things simpler for the parents but inevitably complicates things for the kids.

Many may say, "Well, when you look at what Tiger Woods did, how can you advocate staying married?"

You're right. What Tiger Woods did was awful. I don't know all the details of their marriage or reconciliation attempts. Perhaps this is a case where separation truly was the least damaging path.

Still, I think sometimes we give up on people too quickly. We make assumptions. I've seen so many articles claiming Tiger Woods doesn't have an addiction. That he is just a rich jerk. My honest opinion here: there is no way for these writers to know if Tiger Woods has an addiction or not. So often people demonize others in an attempt to feel safer themselves. Oh, that would never happen to me because I am not a bad person like Tiger Woods. I am not rich and famous and greedy.

Newsflash: Sexual addiction does exist, and you don't have to be rich and famous to destroy your marriage.

My biggest fear in labeling Tiger Woods as "the worst husband ever" is that my words may dash the hopes of a couple struggling with this very issue. Because there is hope. Meg Wilson, author of Hope After Betrayal, is one of my favorite writers on this topic. She and her husband not only overcame sexual addiction but have a strong marriage today. And they aren't the only ones.

In my line of work, I come in contact with great Christian marriage counselors all the time. They share some incredible resurrection stories. You would be amazed at how many issues can be worked through with a heavy dose of God's grace, accountability, forgiveness, and some solid therapy. Even something as serious and daunting as sexual addiction.

I was praying Tiger and Elin would be able to work it through. They chose divorce instead. I can't judge them for that but their unhappy ending doesn't have to play out the same way for other couples. My prayer is that more struggling couples find help and healing.

To India and Back ... Some Final Thoughts

Now that I have been home for one week, I thought I would list some final thoughts on my recent trip to India.

1. The actual traveling was grueling . . . about 37 hours on the way over (van, plane, plane, plane, van) and about 27 hours on the way home (van, plane, plane, van). It is not a trip I would want to make with any regularity. But, at the end of the day, all the hours of sitting on the planes and in the terminals was worth every minute as we ministered for Christ in India.

2. Having friends (both old and new) on the other side of the world is indeed a great joy. The Indians I have met in my three trips may speak a different language, dress in different clothes and have names that I have trouble pronouncing - but they are a precious people who love God just like me. I am a better person having met these dear people.

3. Watching the excitement of 160 boys as they received a new shirt was, in a way, a rebuke to me. I have more shirts than I could ever wear. Hmm. Time to simplify and free up resources to help those in need.

4. What a blessing it was to see points of light in the midst of the pervasive spiritual darkness of India. The gospel is alive and well at Children's Fellowship of India in Naya Akola; at Boys and Girls Christian Home in Chaddur Bazzar; at Prakash Institute in Nagpur; at Norton Memorial Christ Church in Daund; at Union Biblical Seminary in Pune. Please join me in praying for the advance of the gospel in India.

5. The ministry of CFI is about far more than providing basic necessities of life to orphans. At the heart of this ministry is raising up a new generation of devoted followers of Jesus. Each time I have been to India (and this time was no exception) I have met Christian leaders who were raised at Boy's Christian Home (the orphanage where Philip Dongre, Executive Director of CFI was raised). I am convinced that in the next two decades, visitors to central and western India will meet a number of Christian leaders who grew up at Children's Fellowship of India.

6. When we are weak, He is strong. As I sat in my hotel room in Mumbai the final Friday we were in country, I asked God, "How am I going to be able to make it through this weekend?" At the time I was suffering the third day of a GI tract infection. We were set to drive to Daund (a 5 hour drive) and then I was scheduled to preach 7 times between Friday evening and Monday morning. I asked God to strengthen me so I could fulfill this ministry of the Word. God enabled in a powerful way. In spite of my sickness and weakness, I was able to fulfill each responsibility. God proved himself strong when I was very weak. God has a way of doing that, doesn't He?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


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...