PJ

PJ

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Two Cents on Mowing the Lawn!

I posted these thoughts back on September 22, 2006. Thought I would revisit them ... been a bit busy the past few days! 

Did you ever wonder where the expression “to offer one’s two cents worth” came from? I did some research, and there are two dominant theories. The first dates back to the years 1883 – 1932.  During this time, a first class stamp cost two cents (Can you believe it? No price increases for almost 40 years!  You talk about “the good old days!”). So if a person wrote a letter to the editor to express his or her opinion it would cost two cents to do so. Hence he was offering his two cents! The other theory states that the expression “two cents worth” arose to simply mean “of little worth.” When a writer stated he was offering his two cents it was his humble way of saying what he had to offer might not be all that valuable a contribution. So bottom line – you can take your pick.  Either one makes “cents” to me!  

This is basically what I do on my blog - offer you my two cents on some random topics. It may not be worth a whole lot – but I hope I get you to think.Today consider mowing the lawn. If you have ever had the pleasure of keeping up with growing grass (it is amazing how FAST grass can grow!), you know that no sooner do you get it cut, you are back at it again!  It grows, we cut it back. It grows more. We cut it back. It grows again. We cut it back. Sometimes I wish I could buy a spray that would keep my grass at the perfect height!  But cutting the lawn is just part of the package of home ownership. So instead of griping about cutting the lawn again (and again and again) – we should be filled with gratitude for a number of things. Such as having a lawn to mow (lots of people don’t) and being blessed with the good health to push a mower (not everyone can) – just for starters. You see, all too often we grip and complain when in reality we should be giving thanks to the One who blesses us with every good gift. And that’s my two cents!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, May 30, 2011

No Greater Love

The Apostle John recorded the following words of Jesus, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).  So on this Memorial Day, pause to give thanks for the following who have demonstrated "no greater love:" 

- The men and women of our armed forces who have died fighting for our country
- The men and women of our law enforcement community who have died to keep us safe
- The Lord Jesus Christ who died that we might never have to!

Have a great holiday! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 27, 2011

When It Rains . . . It Sometimes Pours!

Given the choice, I would choose a bright sunny day over a dreary rainy day every time! And I am guessing, you would most likely do the same. Yet, what would life be without the rain. For starters, what would we drink and eat? Without a good supply of clean drinking water, life is hard at best and impossible at worst. Our food supply is totally dependent upon receiving an adequate amount of rain. When a drought raises up its ugly head, famine and death are sure to follow. So we might complain about the rain ... but without it we would be doomed.

So it is with life. I'm sure we would all love to enjoy a continual string of "sunny days." But life is not like that. This world is a broken one. As a result, some days it rains. Sometimes the rain that falls is nothing more than an irritating off and on drizzle. At other times, the rain is more steady and more persistent. And then there are those days that the dark storm clouds roll in, the heavens open and we are drenched to the bone.

Right now, my family is experiencing the latter with the impending surgery (scheduled for later today) of our three week old grandson. Earlier this week an ultrasound revealed a tumor on his kidney. Therefore the need for surgery. Now we could choose to respond to this situation out of fear. Fearful of what could happen to the baby as the doctors perform the needed surgery. Fearful of possible complications. Fearful of what lies beyond the surgery. Or we could choose to respond in faith. Faith in our God who unlike us was not caught by surprise by all of this. Faith in our God who we know loves us and loves baby Nolan. Faith in our God who works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Faith that in this difficulty, as in all of life's trials, God is at work, fashioning us into the people he desires for us to be (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

Please pray for my family, especially baby Nolan and his mom and dad (my daughter and son-in-law). Ask God to give us the grace to respond to this storm in faith. Pray that his Spirit would help us to choose faith over fear. To believe that even in the midst of this storm, God's hand is upon us all.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

A happy Thursday to you all. Enjoy!

1. Nancy DeMoss (of Revive Our Hearts Ministry) writes on the importance of starting your day off with a time of personal devotions with God (on a personal note - during my freshmen year in college I sang in the college chorale. Nancy was the pianist).

2. Times are changing - Amazon announces that recently its e-book sales have topped its print books sales!

3. Do you need some help to teach your children to pray? Here's a helpful article from the Gospel Coalition, Teaching Children to Pray: Guiding Principles.

4. Ed Welch of the Christian and Counseling Educational Foundation offers some interesting insights on depression in his article, Does Depression Look the Same Around the World?

5. And finally, for a bit of humor (1:48).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Putting on the "Spin!"

Judgment Day,  May 21, 2011 - came and went with no judgment. Or did it? According to Family Radio's Harold Camping, judgment did occur on Saturday. We just could not see it! Really? According to comments Mr. Camping made on his Monday evening broadcast, the judgment of God that took place on Saturday was invisible because it was spiritual in nature.Here's what he had to say:

"On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn't see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed."

As far as I know, Camping did not elaborate on just what this "spiritual judgment" entails. Nor did he explain the rationale behind the new date of October 21. In my opinion, he is just trying to put a positive spin on his very bad theology! 

What saddens me most about all of this is that Camping's Judgment Day crusade is this. Many unbelievers view Camping as some doomsday crackpot. So all of  his talk about a coming Judgment Day is just that ... talk. And crazy talk at that. As a result, when they encounter true biblical teaching about a coming Judgment Day (and one is coming - see 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 and Revelation 20:11-15) - they dismiss it as being irrelevant at best or downright lunacy at worst! . 

Reader. Please do not throw out the baby (the biblical truth about a coming judgment) with the bath water (Camping's crazy predictions). Instead, study the Bible to see what it says ... and then prepare to one day meet the God who made you! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What SHAPE are you in?

Today I received an email from someone who asked me this question: "How does a person know if he is called by God to serve as a pastor or a chaplain?" That's a great question. And it is a question that all of us ask at various times in our faith journey. God places opportunities to serve him before us, and we wonder if God is actually calling us to serve in that particular capacity.

Here is what I in essence said in my response. God takes all of us who have chosen to follow Jesus and shapes us to do good works - works that he has chosen in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 makes this clear). He does this through his Holy Spirit, who gives us each certain spiritual gifts (see Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). He also does this through His works of creation (for example, each of us are wired by God with a certain personality temperament) and providence (in which God orchestrates the details and situations of our lives so that we gain valuable experience to later use in our service for him).

Given all of this, whenever we are considering an opportunity to serve, we need to examine how God has shaped us. What are our spiritual gifts? What am I truly passionate about (in regards to becoming a pastor/elder, I believe one must have the strong desire to become one - a desire I believe is place on one's heart by God - see 1 Timothy 3:1)? What experiences have I had that could help me in this particular ministry? Does the strengths of my personality temperament lend itself serve in this capacity? Am I spiritually at a maturity level demanded by the ministry opportunity (in the case of pastors/elders - the qualifications are quite high!).

So it all comes down to ... "What shape are you in?"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, May 23, 2011

Amazing Grace!

In his book, By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Sinclair Ferguson writes the following sobering and compelling words:

"A chief reason for the weakness of the Christian church in the West, for the poverty of our witness and any lack of vitality in our worship, probably lies here: we sing about 'amazing grace' and speak of 'amazing grace,' but far too often it has ceased to amaze us. Sadly, we might more truthfully sing of 'accustomed grace.' We have lost the joy and energy that are experienced when grace seems truly amazing."

Does God's grace amaze you? Or has it become something you take for granted? Something more or less routine? My friends, Ferguson is so right on with this thoughts. When we are no longer astonished when we think of God's grace, we have lost a grip on the very thing that makes our faith vibrant and alive. So ... how about YOU? Does God's grace still amaze you? 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011

This morning I hopped onto the Family Radio web site ... and sure enough, when their home page popped up on my screen, so did the words, "Judgement Day, May 21,2011. The Bible guarantees it!" (I wonder what version of the Bible Mr. Camping was using!??!)

Now I don't know how many people have done what Camping has done (at least twice that I know of). Down through the centuries since Christ, many have set a date (that they have arrived at via their study of the Bible) on which they were convinced Jesus was going to return. Now it is OK to long for Jesus' return. In fact, more of us followers of Christ could stand to do so far more than we do (Philippians 3:20). But let's all of us be sure that whenever we study the Bible, that we do so carefully, prayerfully, correctly handling the word of Truth (2 Timothy 3:15).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is Today THE Day?

When I looked at the calendar this morning, I was reminded of the prediction by Harold Camping of Family Radio that today, May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day. This prediction has been getting a lot of press lately ... and most of the television reporters and anchors that I saw discussing it, did so with a sublte smirk or outright scorn. I simply shook my head.

So ... is Jesus coming back today? He could, no doubt. But WILL he?  Consider:

Harold Camping: "Jesus is coming back May 21, 2011."
Jesus Christ: "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  (Matthew 24:36)
  
Thanks for stopping by . . . (and GOD WILLING I will post again soon), 

pj 

Friday, May 20, 2011

His Initials on Our Heart!

Yesterday my wife had to undergo knee surgery. The orthopedic surgeon (the same one who performed her back fusion 20 years ago) performed a meniscectomy. This is a procedure in which all or a portion of an individual's meniscus is removed (the meniscus is the shock absorber of the knee joint ... in Sharon's case only the portion of her meniscus that was torn was removed). In the words of the surgeon in my post-op meeting with him, my wife should be feeling real good once she recovers. That's good news because of late ... if she was active at all ... her walk was more like a hobble!

Prior to her meniscectomy, the surgeon came in to discuss the surgery. After answering our questions, he asked Sharon this question, "Now which knee is the knee destined for surgery?"  She indicated that it was her right knee. The surgeon then took a purple marker and in large letters wrote his initials on her right knee. We found comfort in that. Just as he didn't want to go to work on the wrong knee - neither did we!

Now what struck me in that is that the doctor could have simply put a big X on my wife's knee (or a happy face or a "Go Steelers!") ... but instead he chose to write his initials. I am not sure why he did so. Perhaps he was marking the knee as his territory ... that the repair that was to be done was going to be his handiwork. 

If that is the case ... I see it as a wonderful picture of what Jesus Christ does with us. All of us are in desperate need of divine surgery .... in fact, surgery is probably not the best word to us to describe our need. Rather we are in need of a supernatural miracle. Our condition is not merely that of being sick or injured. The Scripture clearly tells us that we are spiritually DEAD (read Ephesians 2:1-10). When God, the Divine Surgeon gets a hold of us ... he performs a heart transplant. He replaces our dead and decaying heart with a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). A heart that is spiritually alive and inclined toward him. And then Jesus Christ writes his initials on our new hearts ... indicating that we belong to HIM and that this new life we now enjoy is due to HIS handiwork!

If you have experienced the handiwork of the Great Physician in his work of giving you a new heart ... take a moment before you move on with your day and praise God for the love and grace and mercy that he has showered upon you in Christ! But if you have not, click on this link and spend a few minutes reading about how you can experience the life-giving work of Jesus! (http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

Thursday means ... a la carte. So here are some links to other sites that are worthy of a look ...

1. Our youth pastor showed me this video about the gospel. I loved the way the rapper got the theology of the gospel right and framed the gospel within a worldview. Enjoy!

2. So, what difference does the death of Osama bin Laden mean for our world? Here's an interesting perspective on Did Your World Change When Osama bin Laden died?

3. Here's a great little article by John Piper on why belief in the sovereignty of God matters.

4. Take a quick look at this parody on our society's obsession with technology in general and video games in particular. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have You Been on an Ego Trip Lately?

The dictionary defines the word, ego as "the mind; the conscious self; one's self image; conceit." The word itself comes from the Latin word for I. When we refer to someone with a big ego ... we are indicating that the person has a "big head," is "full of himself,"or is "stuck up." In other words, to have a big ego is to be full of pride.

But what do I mean by using the phrase "ego trip?" Am I referring to the hip hop magazine of the 1990's by that name? Or the 1984 album by Kurtis Blow (again by that name)? Not at all. The term "ego trip" has to do with the actions an individual takes to draw attention to himself in order to inflate his sense of importance.

In the recent wake of the heroics of the U.S. SEAL team's successful mission against Osama bin Laden, many men have been on ego trips. They have claimed falsely to have served in the U.S. Navy as a member of the SEALs. But this is nothing new. Steve Waterman is a retired Navy diver (what an appropriate last name for a diver, "Waterman!"). He has exposed many a false Seal over the years. According to Waterman, ""There were about 500 SEALs that operated in Vietnam, and I've met all 20,000 of them." 

Among the most recent crop of these phony SEALs is a Harrisburg, PA area pastor. After he was quoted in the Harrisburg Patriot-News as having served in the SEALs, He was called out by Don Shipley, a retired SEAL from Virginia, who is one of a few SEAL's that has been entrusted with a database of all those who have served as a SEAL. When confronted by Shipley, the pastor admitted that he had lied. Why did he lie? In his own words, "It's an ego-builder, and it's just simply wrong."

Now before we go throwing stones at this pastor .... let's make sure that we heed the Word of God on this issue: "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment" (Romans 12:3). All of us like to take trips. But let's strive to avoid the constant temptation to take an "ego trip!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On Knowing God

This morning I ran across the following thoughts about God that got me thinking. I share them with you in hopes they will also get you thinking about God.

"Over and over the Bible has to say God is not like us (Exodus 8:10; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Kings 8:23; Isaiah 46:9) because we repeatedly try to make him like us. We squeeze Him into our own mental universes. We domesticate him and fashion him after our image. But what foolishness! This is the God who created the universe with words. This is the God who destroyed the world with a flood. This is the God who struck down two priests for offering unauthorized incense. This is a God who raises up nations and dashes them to pieces. This is the God who put on flesh, died on a cross, and rose again. This is the God who commands us to present ourselves as living sacrifices of worship. God is not like us, but far more worthy and far more holy. He is not to be trifled with." (Jonathan Leeman, Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day)

I believe Leeman is right on target with these words! The God of the Bible (our God) is a transcendent God. That means he is is above and beyond the world in which we live. He is distinct from his created realm. He is Creator ... we are creatures. And what is truly amazing in light of this reality of who God is ... is the fact that we can know him. Certainly not fully. He is infinite (without limits and unlimitable). We are finite. But we can certainly know him sufficiently. By opening the pages of the Bible, we find our God revealed. And what a glorious God he is! 

So do you really desire to know God? Then get into the Bible. It's the pathway that must be traveled if we are to grow in our knowledge of God! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Blog Flashback!

I posted the following back on January 19, 2006. I thought what I had to say then is just as appropriate for today. And given that I spent the past two days at a training conference (and have not had time yet to work on my blog postings for this week), I thought I would post this again for your (I hope!) encouragement!


Move Aside, Dr. Phil - It's Dr. John! 

This morning on the radio as I was driving my “long” commute into the office, I heard an ad with a familiar voice speaking.  It was Dr. Phil.  He was promoting some sort of dating service.  In the ad he made the statement, “When it comes to relationships, it’s all about attitude.”  In part he is right.  The quality of our relationships is impacted either negatively or positively by the attitude we bring to our relationships. But I, Dr. John, think that something else is far more important. I’m talking about our focus.  If we are to have relationships that honor God and enrich our lives, then we must have the right focus – and far too many of us don’t!   

So what is the right focus when it comes to relationships?  God answers this question (I never get over just how relevant the Bible is to day-to-day living!).  In Philippians 2:3-4, we read, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” In Romans 12:10 the Apostle Paul commands us to be strive to honor the other guy more than he honors us! So you see – it all comes down to our focus.  Our default focus is SELF.  When push comes to shove we most naturally think of ourselves first.  But God tells us that we need to reset our default focus.  Instead of focusing on ourselves – we need to focus on others.  We do so as we consider them to be more important than us and seek to honor them above ourselves.  So are your life relationships not working?  Take a look at your focus.  My guess is you are focused on the wrong person.  Get your eyes off of yourself and onto others.  Then and only then will you begin to experience God-honoring and life enriching relationships.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day is Coming!

When I was a youngster, I remembering asking my mom one Mother's Day, "Mom, you have Mother's Day and Dad has Father's Day, when is Children's Day?" She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "John, everyday is Children's Day!" (I am guessing many of you probably heard something very similar to that. Of course, I did not buy it then. But now, after raising three children I would have to say that my mom was a very wise woman!).

Mother's Day wasn't always observed. It was first declared a holiday by the state of West Virginia in 1910. Four years later, Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. Ever since, the day has grown in importance and significance. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year for dining out. Add to this the billions of dollars that Americans spend on flowers, gifts and greeting cards and one can easily see that the observance of Mother's Day has made prime time!

God tells us that when it comes to our moms, we must honor them. In fact, this command to honor our parents is one of the Ten Commandments, and it is the ONLY one that comes with a promise (see Exodus 20:12). So God means business when it comes to how we treat our mothers! And note that his command to honor does not add the qualifier, "if they are worthy of honor." There is something powerful that happens in the family dynamic when children honor their parents!

So, use this Mother's Day as a reminder of how EVERYDAY you are to treat your mother (and/or your wife as the mother of  your children). Honor her. Esteem her. Give her some love.

Now I must run ... as I just remembered I should go buy my wife a card. She's been a wonderful mother to our children (and now a grandmother to our grandkids!).  To all you moms out there ... Happy Mother's Day! I thank God for you! (and if you want to view a humorous, though often true video of motherhood, check this out!)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

It's Thursday a la carte time again!

1. For those of you who have either been to India or support the work of Children's Fellowship of India, or simply have a love for missions, blogger and author Tim Challis reviews the book, For the Love of India. It is the story of British missionary Henry Martyn, who sailed for India in 1805. Based on Challis' review, it looks like a good read!

2. Here is a great sermon jam on God's holiness. Be careful, it's convicting!

3. Do you thirst for God? Here is an excellent article from Don Whitney on this topic. Enjoy!

4. Since I started with a book review concerning India ... I thought you might enjoy this brief vintage Bollywood television commercial.


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Passing the Faith on to the Next Generation.

Holding my little grandson Nolan in my arms brought the words of Psalm 127:3 to mind, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." Children are indeed a gift from God! But along with the joy of having children comes responsibility. I believe the greatest part of this responsibility is to introduce our children to the Lord Jesus Christ. How can parents do this in a way that will grab and hold the attention of their children (which is no easy task in this technology saturated age in which we live!)?  Here a just a couple of suggestions:

1. Grab their hearts with PASSION - your passion for God AND your passion for them! Your children need to see that  you are passionate about your faith in Christ - that your faith in Christ means far more than just attending church most Sundays or praying before eating a meal. They need to see you as an authentic follower of Jesus. They need to see you in God's Word. Talking to others who don't know Jesus about Him. Giving generously and sacrificially of your resources to the church and kingdom ministries. They also need to experience your passion for them. That  you LOVE them - unconditionally and unfailingly. What you need to shower upon them is the kind of love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

2. Saturate their minds with TRUTH - God's truth! If the apostle Paul is right that spiritual transformation begins with the mind (see Romans 12:2), then we must be intentional about teaching our children the Word of God (see also Jesus' prayer concerning our sanctification in John 17:17). Given how our culture is moving further and further away from God's truth it becomes all the more important that we take the spiritual training of our children more serious than ever. If we do not, our children will simply "go with the flow" and buy into the lies that permeate our society about how to find fulfillment and significance (which, by the way, is very much the opposite of the path toward these things laid out by our Creator!).

So ... all this leads me to the following questions I offer to you to ask of yourself:

1. How passionate am I about Jesus? Is He merely and add-on to my busy schedule? Or is He truly the center of my life? If my children were asked, what would they say about my relationship with Christ?

2. How passionate am I about my children? Do they feel my love? Do they know I love them unconditionally? Or do they feel they have to earn my love?

3. What is it that I are doing to saturate my children's minds with God's Word (and I mean beyond merely bringing them to Sunday School or Awana - the church is here to assist parents in this area of training up their children for Christ ... it is NOT the church's job to do it!)? Do I ever talk with them about what God is teaching me in Scripture?

Our children are gifts to us. They are on loan to us from the Creator! So ... let's determine to do our best for HIM and for them!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

P.S. - I will be sharing more about this extremely important topic this coming Sunday at Grace (9:00 and 10:30 services). 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Two Cents on Mowing the Lawn!

I posted these thoughts back on September 22, 2006. Thought I would revisit them ... been a bit busy the past few days! 

Did you ever wonder where the expression “to offer one’s two cents worth” came from? I did some research, and there are two dominant theories. The first dates back to the years 1883 – 1932.  During this time, a first class stamp cost two cents (Can you believe it? No price increases for almost 40 years!  You talk about “the good old days!”). So if a person wrote a letter to the editor to express his or her opinion it would cost two cents to do so. Hence he was offering his two cents! The other theory states that the expression “two cents worth” arose to simply mean “of little worth.” When a writer stated he was offering his two cents it was his humble way of saying what he had to offer might not be all that valuable a contribution. So bottom line – you can take your pick.  Either one makes “cents” to me!  

This is basically what I do on my blog - offer you my two cents on some random topics. It may not be worth a whole lot – but I hope I get you to think.Today consider mowing the lawn. If you have ever had the pleasure of keeping up with growing grass (it is amazing how FAST grass can grow!), you know that no sooner do you get it cut, you are back at it again!  It grows, we cut it back. It grows more. We cut it back. It grows again. We cut it back. Sometimes I wish I could buy a spray that would keep my grass at the perfect height!  But cutting the lawn is just part of the package of home ownership. So instead of griping about cutting the lawn again (and again and again) – we should be filled with gratitude for a number of things. Such as having a lawn to mow (lots of people don’t) and being blessed with the good health to push a mower (not everyone can) – just for starters. You see, all too often we grip and complain when in reality we should be giving thanks to the One who blesses us with every good gift. And that’s my two cents!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, May 30, 2011

No Greater Love

The Apostle John recorded the following words of Jesus, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).  So on this Memorial Day, pause to give thanks for the following who have demonstrated "no greater love:" 

- The men and women of our armed forces who have died fighting for our country
- The men and women of our law enforcement community who have died to keep us safe
- The Lord Jesus Christ who died that we might never have to!

Have a great holiday! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 27, 2011

When It Rains . . . It Sometimes Pours!

Given the choice, I would choose a bright sunny day over a dreary rainy day every time! And I am guessing, you would most likely do the same. Yet, what would life be without the rain. For starters, what would we drink and eat? Without a good supply of clean drinking water, life is hard at best and impossible at worst. Our food supply is totally dependent upon receiving an adequate amount of rain. When a drought raises up its ugly head, famine and death are sure to follow. So we might complain about the rain ... but without it we would be doomed.

So it is with life. I'm sure we would all love to enjoy a continual string of "sunny days." But life is not like that. This world is a broken one. As a result, some days it rains. Sometimes the rain that falls is nothing more than an irritating off and on drizzle. At other times, the rain is more steady and more persistent. And then there are those days that the dark storm clouds roll in, the heavens open and we are drenched to the bone.

Right now, my family is experiencing the latter with the impending surgery (scheduled for later today) of our three week old grandson. Earlier this week an ultrasound revealed a tumor on his kidney. Therefore the need for surgery. Now we could choose to respond to this situation out of fear. Fearful of what could happen to the baby as the doctors perform the needed surgery. Fearful of possible complications. Fearful of what lies beyond the surgery. Or we could choose to respond in faith. Faith in our God who unlike us was not caught by surprise by all of this. Faith in our God who we know loves us and loves baby Nolan. Faith in our God who works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Faith that in this difficulty, as in all of life's trials, God is at work, fashioning us into the people he desires for us to be (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

Please pray for my family, especially baby Nolan and his mom and dad (my daughter and son-in-law). Ask God to give us the grace to respond to this storm in faith. Pray that his Spirit would help us to choose faith over fear. To believe that even in the midst of this storm, God's hand is upon us all.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

A happy Thursday to you all. Enjoy!

1. Nancy DeMoss (of Revive Our Hearts Ministry) writes on the importance of starting your day off with a time of personal devotions with God (on a personal note - during my freshmen year in college I sang in the college chorale. Nancy was the pianist).

2. Times are changing - Amazon announces that recently its e-book sales have topped its print books sales!

3. Do you need some help to teach your children to pray? Here's a helpful article from the Gospel Coalition, Teaching Children to Pray: Guiding Principles.

4. Ed Welch of the Christian and Counseling Educational Foundation offers some interesting insights on depression in his article, Does Depression Look the Same Around the World?

5. And finally, for a bit of humor (1:48).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Putting on the "Spin!"

Judgment Day,  May 21, 2011 - came and went with no judgment. Or did it? According to Family Radio's Harold Camping, judgment did occur on Saturday. We just could not see it! Really? According to comments Mr. Camping made on his Monday evening broadcast, the judgment of God that took place on Saturday was invisible because it was spiritual in nature.Here's what he had to say:

"On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through. God again brought judgment on the world. We didn't see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed."

As far as I know, Camping did not elaborate on just what this "spiritual judgment" entails. Nor did he explain the rationale behind the new date of October 21. In my opinion, he is just trying to put a positive spin on his very bad theology! 

What saddens me most about all of this is that Camping's Judgment Day crusade is this. Many unbelievers view Camping as some doomsday crackpot. So all of  his talk about a coming Judgment Day is just that ... talk. And crazy talk at that. As a result, when they encounter true biblical teaching about a coming Judgment Day (and one is coming - see 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 and Revelation 20:11-15) - they dismiss it as being irrelevant at best or downright lunacy at worst! . 

Reader. Please do not throw out the baby (the biblical truth about a coming judgment) with the bath water (Camping's crazy predictions). Instead, study the Bible to see what it says ... and then prepare to one day meet the God who made you! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What SHAPE are you in?

Today I received an email from someone who asked me this question: "How does a person know if he is called by God to serve as a pastor or a chaplain?" That's a great question. And it is a question that all of us ask at various times in our faith journey. God places opportunities to serve him before us, and we wonder if God is actually calling us to serve in that particular capacity.

Here is what I in essence said in my response. God takes all of us who have chosen to follow Jesus and shapes us to do good works - works that he has chosen in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 makes this clear). He does this through his Holy Spirit, who gives us each certain spiritual gifts (see Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). He also does this through His works of creation (for example, each of us are wired by God with a certain personality temperament) and providence (in which God orchestrates the details and situations of our lives so that we gain valuable experience to later use in our service for him).

Given all of this, whenever we are considering an opportunity to serve, we need to examine how God has shaped us. What are our spiritual gifts? What am I truly passionate about (in regards to becoming a pastor/elder, I believe one must have the strong desire to become one - a desire I believe is place on one's heart by God - see 1 Timothy 3:1)? What experiences have I had that could help me in this particular ministry? Does the strengths of my personality temperament lend itself serve in this capacity? Am I spiritually at a maturity level demanded by the ministry opportunity (in the case of pastors/elders - the qualifications are quite high!).

So it all comes down to ... "What shape are you in?"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Monday, May 23, 2011

Amazing Grace!

In his book, By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Sinclair Ferguson writes the following sobering and compelling words:

"A chief reason for the weakness of the Christian church in the West, for the poverty of our witness and any lack of vitality in our worship, probably lies here: we sing about 'amazing grace' and speak of 'amazing grace,' but far too often it has ceased to amaze us. Sadly, we might more truthfully sing of 'accustomed grace.' We have lost the joy and energy that are experienced when grace seems truly amazing."

Does God's grace amaze you? Or has it become something you take for granted? Something more or less routine? My friends, Ferguson is so right on with this thoughts. When we are no longer astonished when we think of God's grace, we have lost a grip on the very thing that makes our faith vibrant and alive. So ... how about YOU? Does God's grace still amaze you? 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011

This morning I hopped onto the Family Radio web site ... and sure enough, when their home page popped up on my screen, so did the words, "Judgement Day, May 21,2011. The Bible guarantees it!" (I wonder what version of the Bible Mr. Camping was using!??!)

Now I don't know how many people have done what Camping has done (at least twice that I know of). Down through the centuries since Christ, many have set a date (that they have arrived at via their study of the Bible) on which they were convinced Jesus was going to return. Now it is OK to long for Jesus' return. In fact, more of us followers of Christ could stand to do so far more than we do (Philippians 3:20). But let's all of us be sure that whenever we study the Bible, that we do so carefully, prayerfully, correctly handling the word of Truth (2 Timothy 3:15).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is Today THE Day?

When I looked at the calendar this morning, I was reminded of the prediction by Harold Camping of Family Radio that today, May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day. This prediction has been getting a lot of press lately ... and most of the television reporters and anchors that I saw discussing it, did so with a sublte smirk or outright scorn. I simply shook my head.

So ... is Jesus coming back today? He could, no doubt. But WILL he?  Consider:

Harold Camping: "Jesus is coming back May 21, 2011."
Jesus Christ: "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  (Matthew 24:36)
  
Thanks for stopping by . . . (and GOD WILLING I will post again soon), 

pj 

Friday, May 20, 2011

His Initials on Our Heart!

Yesterday my wife had to undergo knee surgery. The orthopedic surgeon (the same one who performed her back fusion 20 years ago) performed a meniscectomy. This is a procedure in which all or a portion of an individual's meniscus is removed (the meniscus is the shock absorber of the knee joint ... in Sharon's case only the portion of her meniscus that was torn was removed). In the words of the surgeon in my post-op meeting with him, my wife should be feeling real good once she recovers. That's good news because of late ... if she was active at all ... her walk was more like a hobble!

Prior to her meniscectomy, the surgeon came in to discuss the surgery. After answering our questions, he asked Sharon this question, "Now which knee is the knee destined for surgery?"  She indicated that it was her right knee. The surgeon then took a purple marker and in large letters wrote his initials on her right knee. We found comfort in that. Just as he didn't want to go to work on the wrong knee - neither did we!

Now what struck me in that is that the doctor could have simply put a big X on my wife's knee (or a happy face or a "Go Steelers!") ... but instead he chose to write his initials. I am not sure why he did so. Perhaps he was marking the knee as his territory ... that the repair that was to be done was going to be his handiwork. 

If that is the case ... I see it as a wonderful picture of what Jesus Christ does with us. All of us are in desperate need of divine surgery .... in fact, surgery is probably not the best word to us to describe our need. Rather we are in need of a supernatural miracle. Our condition is not merely that of being sick or injured. The Scripture clearly tells us that we are spiritually DEAD (read Ephesians 2:1-10). When God, the Divine Surgeon gets a hold of us ... he performs a heart transplant. He replaces our dead and decaying heart with a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). A heart that is spiritually alive and inclined toward him. And then Jesus Christ writes his initials on our new hearts ... indicating that we belong to HIM and that this new life we now enjoy is due to HIS handiwork!

If you have experienced the handiwork of the Great Physician in his work of giving you a new heart ... take a moment before you move on with your day and praise God for the love and grace and mercy that he has showered upon you in Christ! But if you have not, click on this link and spend a few minutes reading about how you can experience the life-giving work of Jesus! (http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

Thursday means ... a la carte. So here are some links to other sites that are worthy of a look ...

1. Our youth pastor showed me this video about the gospel. I loved the way the rapper got the theology of the gospel right and framed the gospel within a worldview. Enjoy!

2. So, what difference does the death of Osama bin Laden mean for our world? Here's an interesting perspective on Did Your World Change When Osama bin Laden died?

3. Here's a great little article by John Piper on why belief in the sovereignty of God matters.

4. Take a quick look at this parody on our society's obsession with technology in general and video games in particular. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have You Been on an Ego Trip Lately?

The dictionary defines the word, ego as "the mind; the conscious self; one's self image; conceit." The word itself comes from the Latin word for I. When we refer to someone with a big ego ... we are indicating that the person has a "big head," is "full of himself,"or is "stuck up." In other words, to have a big ego is to be full of pride.

But what do I mean by using the phrase "ego trip?" Am I referring to the hip hop magazine of the 1990's by that name? Or the 1984 album by Kurtis Blow (again by that name)? Not at all. The term "ego trip" has to do with the actions an individual takes to draw attention to himself in order to inflate his sense of importance.

In the recent wake of the heroics of the U.S. SEAL team's successful mission against Osama bin Laden, many men have been on ego trips. They have claimed falsely to have served in the U.S. Navy as a member of the SEALs. But this is nothing new. Steve Waterman is a retired Navy diver (what an appropriate last name for a diver, "Waterman!"). He has exposed many a false Seal over the years. According to Waterman, ""There were about 500 SEALs that operated in Vietnam, and I've met all 20,000 of them." 

Among the most recent crop of these phony SEALs is a Harrisburg, PA area pastor. After he was quoted in the Harrisburg Patriot-News as having served in the SEALs, He was called out by Don Shipley, a retired SEAL from Virginia, who is one of a few SEAL's that has been entrusted with a database of all those who have served as a SEAL. When confronted by Shipley, the pastor admitted that he had lied. Why did he lie? In his own words, "It's an ego-builder, and it's just simply wrong."

Now before we go throwing stones at this pastor .... let's make sure that we heed the Word of God on this issue: "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment" (Romans 12:3). All of us like to take trips. But let's strive to avoid the constant temptation to take an "ego trip!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On Knowing God

This morning I ran across the following thoughts about God that got me thinking. I share them with you in hopes they will also get you thinking about God.

"Over and over the Bible has to say God is not like us (Exodus 8:10; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Kings 8:23; Isaiah 46:9) because we repeatedly try to make him like us. We squeeze Him into our own mental universes. We domesticate him and fashion him after our image. But what foolishness! This is the God who created the universe with words. This is the God who destroyed the world with a flood. This is the God who struck down two priests for offering unauthorized incense. This is a God who raises up nations and dashes them to pieces. This is the God who put on flesh, died on a cross, and rose again. This is the God who commands us to present ourselves as living sacrifices of worship. God is not like us, but far more worthy and far more holy. He is not to be trifled with." (Jonathan Leeman, Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day)

I believe Leeman is right on target with these words! The God of the Bible (our God) is a transcendent God. That means he is is above and beyond the world in which we live. He is distinct from his created realm. He is Creator ... we are creatures. And what is truly amazing in light of this reality of who God is ... is the fact that we can know him. Certainly not fully. He is infinite (without limits and unlimitable). We are finite. But we can certainly know him sufficiently. By opening the pages of the Bible, we find our God revealed. And what a glorious God he is! 

So do you really desire to know God? Then get into the Bible. It's the pathway that must be traveled if we are to grow in our knowledge of God! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Blog Flashback!

I posted the following back on January 19, 2006. I thought what I had to say then is just as appropriate for today. And given that I spent the past two days at a training conference (and have not had time yet to work on my blog postings for this week), I thought I would post this again for your (I hope!) encouragement!


Move Aside, Dr. Phil - It's Dr. John! 

This morning on the radio as I was driving my “long” commute into the office, I heard an ad with a familiar voice speaking.  It was Dr. Phil.  He was promoting some sort of dating service.  In the ad he made the statement, “When it comes to relationships, it’s all about attitude.”  In part he is right.  The quality of our relationships is impacted either negatively or positively by the attitude we bring to our relationships. But I, Dr. John, think that something else is far more important. I’m talking about our focus.  If we are to have relationships that honor God and enrich our lives, then we must have the right focus – and far too many of us don’t!   

So what is the right focus when it comes to relationships?  God answers this question (I never get over just how relevant the Bible is to day-to-day living!).  In Philippians 2:3-4, we read, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” In Romans 12:10 the Apostle Paul commands us to be strive to honor the other guy more than he honors us! So you see – it all comes down to our focus.  Our default focus is SELF.  When push comes to shove we most naturally think of ourselves first.  But God tells us that we need to reset our default focus.  Instead of focusing on ourselves – we need to focus on others.  We do so as we consider them to be more important than us and seek to honor them above ourselves.  So are your life relationships not working?  Take a look at your focus.  My guess is you are focused on the wrong person.  Get your eyes off of yourself and onto others.  Then and only then will you begin to experience God-honoring and life enriching relationships.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

pj

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day is Coming!

When I was a youngster, I remembering asking my mom one Mother's Day, "Mom, you have Mother's Day and Dad has Father's Day, when is Children's Day?" She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "John, everyday is Children's Day!" (I am guessing many of you probably heard something very similar to that. Of course, I did not buy it then. But now, after raising three children I would have to say that my mom was a very wise woman!).

Mother's Day wasn't always observed. It was first declared a holiday by the state of West Virginia in 1910. Four years later, Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. Ever since, the day has grown in importance and significance. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year for dining out. Add to this the billions of dollars that Americans spend on flowers, gifts and greeting cards and one can easily see that the observance of Mother's Day has made prime time!

God tells us that when it comes to our moms, we must honor them. In fact, this command to honor our parents is one of the Ten Commandments, and it is the ONLY one that comes with a promise (see Exodus 20:12). So God means business when it comes to how we treat our mothers! And note that his command to honor does not add the qualifier, "if they are worthy of honor." There is something powerful that happens in the family dynamic when children honor their parents!

So, use this Mother's Day as a reminder of how EVERYDAY you are to treat your mother (and/or your wife as the mother of  your children). Honor her. Esteem her. Give her some love.

Now I must run ... as I just remembered I should go buy my wife a card. She's been a wonderful mother to our children (and now a grandmother to our grandkids!).  To all you moms out there ... Happy Mother's Day! I thank God for you! (and if you want to view a humorous, though often true video of motherhood, check this out!)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

It's Thursday a la carte time again!

1. For those of you who have either been to India or support the work of Children's Fellowship of India, or simply have a love for missions, blogger and author Tim Challis reviews the book, For the Love of India. It is the story of British missionary Henry Martyn, who sailed for India in 1805. Based on Challis' review, it looks like a good read!

2. Here is a great sermon jam on God's holiness. Be careful, it's convicting!

3. Do you thirst for God? Here is an excellent article from Don Whitney on this topic. Enjoy!

4. Since I started with a book review concerning India ... I thought you might enjoy this brief vintage Bollywood television commercial.


Thanks for stopping by . . .

pj

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Passing the Faith on to the Next Generation.

Holding my little grandson Nolan in my arms brought the words of Psalm 127:3 to mind, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." Children are indeed a gift from God! But along with the joy of having children comes responsibility. I believe the greatest part of this responsibility is to introduce our children to the Lord Jesus Christ. How can parents do this in a way that will grab and hold the attention of their children (which is no easy task in this technology saturated age in which we live!)?  Here a just a couple of suggestions:

1. Grab their hearts with PASSION - your passion for God AND your passion for them! Your children need to see that  you are passionate about your faith in Christ - that your faith in Christ means far more than just attending church most Sundays or praying before eating a meal. They need to see you as an authentic follower of Jesus. They need to see you in God's Word. Talking to others who don't know Jesus about Him. Giving generously and sacrificially of your resources to the church and kingdom ministries. They also need to experience your passion for them. That  you LOVE them - unconditionally and unfailingly. What you need to shower upon them is the kind of love Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

2. Saturate their minds with TRUTH - God's truth! If the apostle Paul is right that spiritual transformation begins with the mind (see Romans 12:2), then we must be intentional about teaching our children the Word of God (see also Jesus' prayer concerning our sanctification in John 17:17). Given how our culture is moving further and further away from God's truth it becomes all the more important that we take the spiritual training of our children more serious than ever. If we do not, our children will simply "go with the flow" and buy into the lies that permeate our society about how to find fulfillment and significance (which, by the way, is very much the opposite of the path toward these things laid out by our Creator!).

So ... all this leads me to the following questions I offer to you to ask of yourself:

1. How passionate am I about Jesus? Is He merely and add-on to my busy schedule? Or is He truly the center of my life? If my children were asked, what would they say about my relationship with Christ?

2. How passionate am I about my children? Do they feel my love? Do they know I love them unconditionally? Or do they feel they have to earn my love?

3. What is it that I are doing to saturate my children's minds with God's Word (and I mean beyond merely bringing them to Sunday School or Awana - the church is here to assist parents in this area of training up their children for Christ ... it is NOT the church's job to do it!)? Do I ever talk with them about what God is teaching me in Scripture?

Our children are gifts to us. They are on loan to us from the Creator! So ... let's determine to do our best for HIM and for them!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

P.S. - I will be sharing more about this extremely important topic this coming Sunday at Grace (9:00 and 10:30 services). 

Are You Preparing for Eternity?

Our journey on earth is but a breath ... a heart beat when compared to the expanse of Eternity. We all must remember that how we live live in the here and now will impact our experience in the then and there.

Thoughts on how biblical truth impacts all of life.