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Showing posts from December, 2010

Hungry?

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John Wesley, the 18th century Church of England cleric who is credited (along with brother Charles) with the founding of the Methodist movement, has left us quite a library of written works, including both hymns and sermons. In the introduction to one of his collections of sermons, he expresses his hunger for God's Word. Oh that God would give me this kind of yearning for the Scriptures! Here is Wesley in his own words:

"I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God and returning to God, just hovering over the great gulf, till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity. I want to know one thing - the way to heaven, how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end he came from heaven. He has written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be

The Defanging of Death!

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Yesterday was an emotional day for me. I did something that I have done countless times in the past for both strangers and close friends and even family members. I officiated at a funeral. The individual who died was a member of my church family and a dear friend. His faith in Christ was strong. This enables me to mourn his departure from this earth with hope.

Those who knew John, knew he was a bear of a man. On a first encounter with him, one could easily find himself intimidated by John's large frame and loud voice. But John was not a man to be feared. As his wife put it, "Some thought of him as a grizzly bear, but he was really a big teddy bear with a heart of gold." I knew John. I agree with this assessment.

John died as a result of a battle with cancer. During the last months of his earthly life, his once strong, muscular body slowly wasted away as the disease raged on. But even though his body lost its strength, his faith never wavered. He spirit was strong to the …

Think on This!

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D.A. Carson is one of evangelicalism's leading New Testament scholars. I was privileged to sit under his teaching during my Doctor of Ministry program. When he writes a new book or article, it's always on my list to read. Below is a quote I stumbled across that hit me right between my spiritual eyes. I offer it up to you to think about as you reflect on just where you happen to be in your walk with Christ.

"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."…

So Does Pride Have a Grip on You?

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Pride is, like many sins, very subtle. When it takes up residence in our hearts it is, therefore, often difficult to spot. Here is a set of questions designed by Nancy DeMoss of  Revive Our Hearts Ministry to help us identify pride in us. I encourage you to take some time to ask yourself these questions ... and if you are really brave, print them out and ask a trusted friend to answer these questions about you.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Together, let's pause and thank God our Father for the "indescribable" gift of His Son!  What a joy to know that God the Father SO LOVED the world that He gave the gift of His one and only Son! Enjoy the following monologue in which the Charlie Brown character, Linus nails the true meaning of Christmas!



MERRY CHRISTMAS! And thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

The Nativity!

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Below is the trailer for the film, The Nativity Story. In a riveting way, this movie preview hits the major highlights of the birth of Christ. Take a few moments to watch it ... it will help you in the midst of your busyness today to prepare to worship the Reason for this Season: our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ!



Merry Christmas . . . and thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

The True Meaning of Christmas

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Today, many people celebrate the Christmas holiday while either willfully or unwittingly ignoring what the holiday is truly all about. According to Ed Stetzer, LifeWay president and a Southern Baptist pastor,"A lot of Americans celebrate Christmas like they participate in yoga: unaware and unconcerned about its religious roots" (for more information on a recent survey conducted by LifeWay Resarch which looked at the how's and why's of people's Christmas observances, click here).

And just what is the true meaning of Christmas? ChristianAnswers.net has a great page detailing just about anything anyone would want to know in answer to this question. I encourage you to check it out.

My desire for you and yours is that you would be experience a more intimate relationship with Jesus as a result of your worship of Him this Christmas season.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all .... and thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A La Carte

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Again, some other sites for you to check out.

1. Back in 2008, Sherwood Films' award winning movie, Fireproof was seen by millions in theaters. On September 30, 2011 Sherwood's new film, Courageous, is scheduled for release. It looks great! Click here to go to the movie's web site. You may want to watch some of the brief videos, including one produced by USA Today. In addition, another Christian faith-based film is set for its release in theaters on February 25, 2011. The idea for this film was planted in the mind and heart of a member of Calvary Church in Memphis, Tennessee after he saw Fireproof. He left the theater thinking that perhaps God was calling his church to produce a film. The result? The Grace Card. Click here to view the trailer. It also looks like a great film!

2. Here's a really nice performance ofO Come All Ye Faithful by the Celtic Women.

3. I also stumbled across another clever retelling ofthe Nativity story using technology from our digital age.

4.…

A Stress Free Christmas!

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The dictionary defines stress as, “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.” According to a recent poll, about three-fourths of people in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the United Kingdom say they experience stress on a daily basis. These feelings of stress only seem to increase during the holidays. With so many places to go, gifts to buy, packages to wrap, cookies to bake, people to visit – life can become quite hectic. And all that busyness just adds to the feeling of stress.
Are you feeling “stressed-out?” I have felt a bit stressed this week. With getting ready for the our Christmas services, prepping for some holiday family visits and planning for a number of activities taking place after the holidays, I have felt “the squeeze.” Whenever we feel the squeeze of stress – we need to follow the advice of the apostle Paul. In Philippians 4:6-7 he writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, b…

To Start Off Your Week

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One of the devotional books I enjoy reading (I read it most mornings), is the classic, Morning by Morning. This inspirational work was written by C.H. Spurgeon who was arguably one of the greatest preachers of his day. As I read his entry for last Friday, I was struck by the following:

"We may often forget to mediate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace that we might constantly and fondly remember Him." 
He then finishes with this prayer, a prayer that we would all benefit from if we prayed it regularly:

"Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of your Son." 
C.H. - I say a hearty "Amen!" to that!
Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

A Clever Retelling of the Christmas Story!

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A friend sent me the following link to a very contemporary re-telling of the Christmas story. Enjoy!



Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A La Carte

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Take a moment and check out the following ...

1. Here is a little drummer boy (I believe he's four) who shows a lot of passion for what he is doing. Passion - something we all should have if we are truly pursuing God!

2. “If after watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (which released in US theaters this past weekend), you find yourself or your kids feeling drawn to Aslan with alarming emotion, don’t assume it’s just the result of some cinematic spell. . ." Click here to read more from Desiring God's web site.

3. This past weekend my son and I traveled to Pittsburgh. We visited with some friends (I lived in the Pittsburgh area from 1984 to 1989) on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we went with some other friends to church ... and from there to the Steelers' game (a first for both Tim and me). Despite the cold and damp weather, we had a blast. The game changing play was made by Steeler safety Troy Polamalu who professes to have a strong faith in God. The 700 club had a vi…

Rev. Who?

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The article headline in yesterday's paper reached out and grabbed my attention. It read, "Online Ordinations Rise." The gist of the article concerned a growing number of people applying for online ordination credentials in order to perform weddings for family and friends. Hmm. I thought back to my ordination process (an 8 hour written exam followed by a two and a half oral exam). Passing this qualified me for "licensure." Three years later, I finished the process with another oral exam. So as I thought about online ordinations, I was wondering just how easy it would be to get "ordained" a second time.

To find out, I went to the web site of the Universal Life Church (whose web site's tag line is "Get Ordained for Free for Life.") I clicked on the tab labeled "Get Ordained." I proceeded to complete the application under the name of Frank Miller (I figured they might think my real name was fake). Upon completion of the application…

A Prayer for Today . . . And Everyday!

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Here's a great prayer . . . Take a moment and make it yours!

"May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day. Amen."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A La Carte

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I have a few minutes .... so here are a few links worth a click!

1. What would you do if you got a phone call to catch a plane and report to play for the New York Jets? Here's a refreshing account of a young man and what he did when he recently received such a call.

2. God gifts us and shapes us for specific tasks (Ephesians 2:10). Here's a sobering video of a couple who just were not doing what God shaped them to do!

3. Should we get all upset when we see the word "Christmas" spelled "X-mas?" Theologian and author R.C. Sproul answers this question quite well ... and if you take the time to read his answer, you will see there's no need to hyperventilate when we see the word "X-mas" this Christmas season!

I'll be back to regular posts next week. I leave tomorrow (Saturday) with my son to travel to Pittsburgh. Will head to church Sunday morning with friends ... and then on to see the Steelers play in the snow! Should be fun!

Thanks for stopping …

An Invitation

This week is a vacation week for me, so this will be my first and most likely only posting of the week. With the Christmas season fast approaching, it is a great time of year to invite friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members to our holiday services. Please take a moment and view this video which is a humorous commentary on inviting unchurched people to church over the holidays.













Hmm . . . who is it YOU could invite?


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A Prayer for Your Weekend

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From time to time, I run across a written prayer that causes me to pause and pray. Here is one such prayer. I encourage you spend a few moments praying it back to our God. It comes from the pen of John Piper, in his devotional book, Life As a Vapor.

"Gracious Father, grant me a lowly spirit of gratitude. Make me feel the preciousness of past grace. Give me an honest memory of mercy. Forgive me for the pride of unremembered gifts and callous thanklessness. Waken faith in my wavering soul and give me strong confidence in your solid promises. Where past and future meet, make me humble and bold. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen."

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

A La Carte

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Again ... here are some other web sites/articles that you might want to check out:

1. Yet another surprise choral offering of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus (this time at a crowded shopping mall food court). I especially enjoyed the facial expressions of joy on the faces of many of the choir members who were singing! Watch and worship!

2. If you are looking for some help in organizing your intercessory prayer life - you might want to check out the iPhone app "Pray!". It costs $.99. I have not used it yet, but it does look like it might prove helpful. Click here to check it out.

3. You may have heard about the recent study on Americans' views on marriage. Time Magazine picked up on this with their recent cover article, "Who Needs Marriage?" For some thought provoking comments from a biblical perspective on this issue, you might want to check out Al Mohler's blog. Dr. Mohler is one of the brightest thinkers in the Evangelical world today.

4. Finally, sometimes,…

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Gospel of Luke.

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love so much about the day .... the reminder it is to give thanks to our God for ALL his blessings; the family fellowship around the table; the food on the table; and the after dinner banter around a football game. Part of me hates to see the day fade away ... but as with every day, it passes by far too quickly.

Of course, it is replaced by what we have labeled "Black Friday." Because it is one of the largest shopping days of the year, retailers are hoping for big sales that will go a long way toward helping them to finish the year with more income than expenses (i.e. "in the black") - and therefore the name, "Black Friday." Now there was a time that Black Friday would begin on Friday morning ... but now - some retailers have moved it up to midnight on Thanksgiving Eve (and for a few - even earlier). Add to Black Friday the hype about "Cyber Monday" (the Monday following Thanksgiving) on which day on…