Off to the Bahamas!

My wife and I leave today for several days in Nassau. I will be teaching a Walk Thru the Bible Seminar (Understanding the Love of Your Life) at Calvary Bible Church on Saturday. Then we will enjoy a few extra days of just "chillin" (especially nice in 75 degree weather!).

I will be back to blogging later next week. Until then, may God continue to bless you with more and more of His grace and His presence!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Thursday A La Carte

Again ... here are a few odds and ends that I found to be of interest. Perhaps you will as well!

1. In spite of the Bible's regular reminders of our need to wait on God, it is something I find difficult to do. Here is one blogger's take on why it's good to wait on God!

2. What did Jesus mean when he told us to "take up our cross?"  Many believe that the cross he is talking about here is some burden we must carry through life ... say a physical illness, a strained relationship, an overbearing mother-in-law. But that is NOT what Jesus had in mind. Check out this very insightful article on

3. Did you ever wonder where President Obama stands on the abortion issue? Al Mohler writes on this topic in his blog posting, "In His Own Words: A Radical Pro-Abortion President."

4. On the lighter side ... a video that talks about ... talking wrong (or is it wrongly?)

Thanks for stopping by . . .


PS - A word about the graphic, Java Joe's --- I chose this because it does reflect my life. In my early boyhood years I had the nickname of Jody (which I shortened to Joe - after all, Jody is a girl's name!). In my adult years, a morning cup (or two or three) of java has become part of my daily routine. So Java Joe is fitting!

Beware of "Devil Dog!"

Yesterday I was struck by an article in the paper that detailed an incident involving a 65 year old woman charged with felony cruelty to animals. It seems that her nephew's pit bull chewed on her Bible. So to keep, in her words, this "devil dog" from harming neighborhood children, she killed it and threw its body under a pile of leaves.

When I read this story, it struck me how people think in such bizarre ways. I mean, too bad the dog didn't chew on this woman's purse or favorite sweater - it might still be alive today! But because it chewed on a copy of the Bible ... it must, therefore be a "devil dog!"

Friends, there is only one antidote to this poison of wrongheadedness. It is to allow God's Word to "renew our minds" (see Romans 12:2). Only as we see this world through the lens of Scripture (and thus see the world through the eyes of the One who is the Truth (see John 14:6) - only then will we avoid such goofy reasonings as we interact with the world around us!

Thanks for stopping by . . . .


Hypocrisy is Rampant - In My Own Heart!

This morning as I was driving through downtown Lancaster, I heard an interesting story on the radio that got my attention. It seems that according to a recent survey, the majority of people who experience flu-like symptoms, go to work in spite of being sick. This same survey showed that of those questioned, again a large majority disapproved of co-workers showing up to the office when ill. Hmmm. Are you hearing some hypocrisy here?  "I can come to work when sick (and spread my illness to you), but don't you dare show up when you are sick and spread your germs to me"

As I thought of that this morning traveling north on Prince Street, I noticed that the driver in the car in front of me threw a spent cigarette out his car window. The first thought that raced through my brain was, "There's another person, abusing their body with the unhealthy habit of cigarette smoking!" No sooner had that thought bounced around the walls of my mind, a still small voice seemed to say, "But John, is that any different from your abuse of your body by not getting enough exercise?" Ouch!  Hypocrisy in my own heart!

My friends, before pointing a figure of condemnation at someone else for their failures, please take a long, hard look in your mirror. My guess is that you have plenty of shortcomings of your own to work on (see Matthew 7:1-5).

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Thirty-eight Years Ago Tomorrow . . .

On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court legalized abortion in its landmark case we all have come to know as Roe v. Wade. Since that fateful day, according to statistics posted on the National Right to Life's website, 49,551,703 abortions have been performed. My friends, that is 49,551,703 too many! Now why do I say this? A large segment of people in our society would passionately disagree with me. They believe that abortion is a woman's right. She can do what she wants. After all it is HER body.

I oppose abortion because of my convictions concerning the sanctity of life. These convictions are summarized well by one of the continuing resolutions of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches of which my church is a member. The statement reads as follows:

Human life is worthy of respect and protection at all stages from the time of conception. The sanctity of human life is established by creation (Gen. 1:26-27), social protection (Gen. 9:6) and redemption (John 3:16).

I believe that every time an abortion occurs, a human life is ended. So we are not merely talking about removing a fetus. In reality, abortion ends the life of an unborn CHILD.

For those of us who speak for the voiceless unborn, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic. Consider:

1. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge in April 2007 to the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, allowing the law to go into effect for the first time since it was signed by President Bush in 2003. Some abortion-rights supporters fear the landmark ruling is the first step toward overturning the 1973 law legalizing abortion. This law is still on the books. Yes it is a small step ... but a step none-the-less in the right direction!

2. According to statistics released by both the Center for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions in the United States have fallen to levels not seen since the late 1970's. However, there is still, on average, 100,000 babies aborted every month in this country. This is tragic!

Now I am not expecting Roe v. Wade to be overturned tomorrow. But each step we can take (even if they are baby steps) is a step that just may save lives. Please join with me in praying for the lives of the unborn. Pray for pro-life ministries that are on the front lines of this battle for life. And add feet to your prayers by volunteering your time and/or your money to help support the pro-life ministry of your choice. If you are part of our family here at Grace Church, stop by our Hospitality Center and pick up a baby bottle to help support the ministry of Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.

Let's not grow weary in this battle. It is a matter of life and death!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

P.S. I believe I must add a postscript to address anyone reading this that has chosen to undergo an abortion. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. God's grace is amazing and will "wash over" anyone who comes to Jesus with a truly repentant heart. This is true for any sin, whether it be gossip, adultery, lust, dishonesty, pride, abortion, etc. Thanks be to God for the forgiveness that he offers to us in Christ! Free to us - but at a great cost to Him!

A La Carte January 20

Again, some miscellaneous "stuff" that might profit you in some way. Enjoy!

1. Ever been frustrated in your attempts to convince someone heading down the wrong path to change their ways or their thinking? Here's some great insights on how to sweeten your speech.

2. Ever wonder how much people use the Internet?  Here are some downright staggering numbers from Internet usage in 2010!

3. With all the media focus recently on the huge Mega Millions lottery jackpot (last week 2 winning tickets split $380 million) it saddens me to think that so many people in our country (and beyond) believe that the path to true happiness is MONEY!  Here's a recent CNN article, Winning the Lottery: Does It Guarantee Happiness?

4. If you like barbershop music - you will enjoy this. These guys scored three perfect 100's in the International Barbershop Chorus Championship in 2009. They are that good!

5. For an interesting Rap song based on Kevin DeYoung's book on the Heidelberg Catechism, visit the Deeper 20'11 blog (do this especially if you enjoy rap music!).

Have a great rest of your week! And don't forget that if you are a follower of Jesus - you are "on mission" for Him!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


God-honoring Boasting!

This past Sunday, I concluded my message with a quote from Kevin DeYoung's book, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. I have not been able to get this quote out of my head since. Here is what DeYoung wrote:

"Never stop glorying in the cross where Christ accepted the penalties that should belong to us so that we can claim the blessings that would otherwise belong only to Him."

The Apostle Paul said something very similar to this when he wrote, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). 

Have you rejoiced in the cross of Jesus today? Certainly there is nothing I can think of that is more worth celebrating than that which Jesus did for us on the cross. If you want to review just what it was that He did for us, stop by the Deeper '11 blog for my sermon audio and/or PowerPoint slides. 
Thanks for stopping by . . . 


Why Atheists Exist

This morning as I was spending time in the first chapter of the book of Romans, I got to thinking about atheists. What got me thinking along these lines were the words of Romans 1:18-20 which basically tell us that mankind suppresses the plain, clearly visible truth about God and his existence. This truth surrounds humanity in the form of God's handiwork in creation (see Psalm 19:1-4). It is truth that is available to any people group anywhere in the world. Yet, man chooses to ignore this plain truth. Why?

James Boice, in his commentary on Romans points out that man's failure to acknowledge God is not due to ignorance of God, but rather it is because of man's willful choice NOT to acknowledge him. And why does humanity do so? According to Boice, man just simply cannot acknowledge God because to do so would mean that man would have to bow to him. After all, the God of the Bible is a God who is sovereign (man likes to think of himself as the sovereign one), holy (man despises God's holiness because it exposes his sin), omniscient (who wants to be under the always open eyes of "Big Brother") and immutable (meaning this God who is sovereign, holy and omniscient will always and forever more be so - because he never changes). Because God is all of this - man makes the willful choice to suppress this truth and exchange it for a lie (Romans 1:21-25).

All this to say ... we who choose to follow Christ and seek to point others in His direction, MUST speak to God about people BEFORE we speak to them about God. Unless God softens their hearts - they will remain without God and without hope in this life and the life to come.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Are the End Times Near?

People are always looking at certain current events and trying to decipher if they are indicators in any way that the end times and the return of Christ is drawing near.  Recently, a mysterious death of a large number of birds got people talking about the end of time. Kirk Cameron (star of the Left Behind movies and more recently, Fireproof) was interviewed by Anderson Cooper of CNN. I thought Kirk had some interesting insights.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Hitting the Nail on the Head

Back in 1993 on my second CoMissioin trip to the former Soviet Union (this second trip was spent primarily in Keiv the capital of Ukraine), I had the opportunity to preach at a local church. A group of believers who had attended one of my workshops, asked me to come and shed light from the Scriptures on a problem within their local assembly. After getting permission from my team leader (there were about 70 North Americans on that particular team), off we went. The gathering numbered, if I recall correctly, about 50 - 60 people. I spoke about 30 minutes (so with the translation it went about an hour) to the issue. As I was leaving, I asked the group that had invited me for their assessment of the evening. They enthusiastically said, "We have a saying in our country, 'You did not hit the eyebrow .... you hit the eyeball!'"  Which I took as saying, "You hit the nail on the head!"  I walked away gratified that God used my meager efforts to meet a pressing need in a church in Keiv, Ukraine!

I tell you this story because yesterday I read a quote from that great London preacher of the 1800's, C. H. Spurgeon. His words did not hit my eyebrow ... nor did it merely stop with my eyeball - it struck a chord deep within my heart! Here is what he wrote:

"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."

Ouch! But thanks, C.H., for these words of admonishment. May we read and respond!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A La Carte

Again ... some lighter and some not so light fare for your consideration.

1. You want to see a happy penguin? Check this little guy out! 

2. Is all the technology we are using hindering our ability to talk face-to-face with one another? Here's an article from USA Today that offers some insight (2010: The year technology replaced talking).

3. Sudan just had a vote concerning the forming of the primarily Christian southern Sudan (the larger northern section is muslim) into a new country. African Inland Mission is asking for prayer for Sudan. Click here for more info.

4.  Often in our attempt to read more of the Bible we actually take away less. Here is a Bible reading plan that encourages less reading but more meditation. Check it out here. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .


C. S. Lewis on What Really Matters!

Consider the following insight of C.S. Lewis:

"Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever."

Right on, C.S.! 
Thanks for stopping by . . . 


PS - I just posted on the DEEPER blog an audio podcast of Sunday's message. 

Resolutions for 2011

Once I got back to feeling myself this week, I took some time to draw a list of resolutions for this new year. After much thought, prayer and re-edits ... here are my seven. I offer them up to you for a couple of reasons. First, to encourage some of you to do the same. Far too often we tend to drift through life with little direction. Living like that will never lead to greater godliness and obedience. Second, I want to go on record for the purpose of accountability. I post this list with some fear and trepidation, knowing that a lot of people "out there" will be "in the know" concerning my personal resolutions for 2011 (and please, feel free to ask me about them!). So here is my list ...

1. I resolve to get to know the Word of God better to better know the God of the Word.
2. I resolve to be more intentional in loving my wife as Christ loves His Church.
3. I resolve to pray more.
4. I resolve to be a better shepherd of my family, especially in regard to the faith journeys of my children and grandchildren.
5. I resolve to improve the care of my body, knowing that it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
6. I resolve to be more intentional in sharing my faith.
7. I resolve to strive to keep the above resolutions - all by God's grace and for His glory.

Now it is my plan in the next week or so to work out some specific goals that will help me to keep these resolutions. For today, here are a couple of goals that I have set in place for resolution #1:

1. I plan to spend time each day in an in depth devotional study of the Book of Romans. To assist me in this, I will use James M. Boice's four volume commentary on Romans (I had the incredible privilege to sit under Dr. Boice's teaching for two years when I attended his Center City Philadelphia church while a college student.  He was quite the Bible teacher!).
2. I also plan to journal on what I "pull out" of these daily times of study.
3. Finally, I plan to memorize a verse or passage of Scripture each week.

So there you have it. I covet your prayers for me. I know how easy it is for me to get distracted from the truly important by the tyranny of the urgent.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A La Carte

Some a la carte items for your enjoyment and inspiration . . .

1.  A recent NY Times column on abortion that is surprisingly good. The writer concludes with these lines, "This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed." Well said! For the rest of the column, click here (note: you will have to register for the site - it is free but will take you a minute or two).

2. A truly refreshing story about heroism and humility in the life of a recent recipient of the Medal of Honor. This is a good read!

3. You talk about a guy with voice for radio ... check out the voice of this homeless man in Columbus, Ohio. As a result of this publicity, this man has been offered an announcing job with the Cleveland Cavs (NBA basketball team) and NFL Films is looking into offering him an audition. He was also a guest on this morning's NBC Today show (Here is a video of the interview .... interesting the number of biblical quotes and allusions this man, Ted Williams, makes during the interview).

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Whatever Happened to Self-Control?

The #1 New Year's resolution year after year after year is ..... TO LOSE WEIGHT!  I am guessing one reason for this is that according to, the average person puts on from 7-12 pounds during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. Given that stat, it comes as no surprise people are determined to shed some pounds come the new year!

However, since most of us have a sweet tooth (or probably better said, some sweet TEETH!), losing weight is not an easy task.  But never fear, is here! Below is ThinkGeek's video on a new product that you can order and enjoy. It promises for all of us chocolate lovers the enjoyment of chocolate without the calories!  Hmm ... What is coming down the pike next? But we can expect more of the same! Self-control is something Americans are not noted for ... and that includes those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Yet, self control is mentioned by Paul as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and something that the apostle practiced in his life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) and urges us to also exercise in our own lives (1 Timothy 4:12).  So why not make a New Year's resolution that you will strive to be more self-controlled in 2011, more disciplined ... all with the help of God's Spirit, of course!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Big Day for a Family Member

Today is a big day for my daughter Kate's husband. Ryan will be sworn in at the state Capitol in Harrisburg as the new state representative for Pennsylvania's 41st legislative district. My wife and I, along with our other two children and their spouses will be in attendance.

Please keep Ryan (and all of our public officials) in your prayers, which is something Scripture commands us to do (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Ask our sovereign God to turn the hearts of these men and women toward him.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Blessed New Year to You and Yours!

Jonathan Edwards is arguably the greatest theologian that America has ever produced and also one of this country's greatest intellectuals of all time. Among many other things, Edwards is known for the resolutions he made that guided his life. Consider these two:

Resolution One: I will live for God.
Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.

Now there are two resolutions worthy to live by, don't you think?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means COFFEE! (frankly, every morning means coffee for me)! So why not pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join m...