PJ

PJ

Monday, October 31, 2011

Think on This!

I am sure most Christians would agree that as followers of Jesus our lives should be different from the lives of unbelievers who surround us. Yet, far too frequently, we Christians tend to blend right in with our ungodly world. I believe this occurs because so many believers do not take the gospel seriously! God calls us as Christians to be a community of those who "love God, even to the contempt of self" as opposed to those who "love self, even to the contempt of God" (the words quoted are the words of the early church theologian, St. Augustine in his work, The City of God).

So ... my friends, are we learning to love God ... even to the contempt of self?  That is what God is calling us to do!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Heroes Among Us!

When the tornado hit Joplin, MO on the evening of this past May 22nd, Mark Lindquist and his co-worker, Ryan Tackett did what they had been trained to do. The two worked for a social agency in a group home, caring for three middle-aged men with Down Syndrome. Since the home had no basement and since the men moved too slowly to be relocated, they pulled out three mattresses, placing the men underneath them. Ryan and Mark then climbed on top to weigh the mattresses down. When the EF-5 tornado's 200 mph winds blew through, the house was destroyed. The three Down Syndrome men were killed. Tackett and Lindquist survived, Lindquist barely so. His injuries were so severe that his body swelled to the point he was unrecognizable. He was in a coma for several days and was only identified by the tiny green flecks in his eyes. He is still recovering from his injuries.

Now if you know anything about social workers you know that they give a lot and get paid a little. Lindquist did not have medical insurance because he could not afford it. But he figured that since his injuries occurred while on the job, workman's comp would cover his bills. He figured wrong. The insurer denied his claim, "based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado." Considering that his medical bills have topped 2.5 million dollars AND he has more surgery planned, to say Lindquist was disappointed would be quite an understatement. The insurer's decision angered Lindquist's friends, employer and even Missouri state legislators. Yet in spite of this growing mountain of debt and the controversy swirling around him, Lindquist is still very grateful. "I'm a walking miracle!"

I first read of Lindquist, his heroism and his dilemma, in Monday's paper. On Tuesday I read that on Monday (perhaps even as I was reading the story), the insurer did a 180! They have now agreed to pay Lindquist's expenses. My guess is the insurer came under great pressure as a result of the AP story which I read which had been published nationwide and even in some international markets. But whatever the reason, Lindquist is one who is getting his due!

As I reflect back on my life, I could list a number of "heroes" that I have encountered. Men and women who have generously given of themselves to the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many have gone unthanked and unappreciated. But I know ... even if they never receive their due here ... one day they will! (Matthew 19:29; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). And the reward received by these "unsung" heroes will last forever! Praise God!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday A La Carte


Thursday means ... a bunch of stuff that you might (I hope) find helpful for your faith journey!

1. Have you ever found waiting upon God (Isaiah 40:31) difficult? Paul Tripp offers five reasons why God calls us to wait. 


2. Tim Tebow is a  name that even non-football fans probably recognize. Tebow became a national celebrity when he became the first sophomore to ever win college football's most prestigious individual award, the Heisman Trophy. After winning a number of other awards, he was drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos and has just won the starting quarterback job. But not everyone is a Tim Tebow fan. You see, Tim is an outspoken Christian ... and for that fact alone many are hoping he fails. Really? Check out Denny Burke's post, Why is Tebow Hated So Much? 


3. Here's a touching story of long-lasting marital love and commitment (72 years long!). You probably heard this account of an Iowa couple who died one hour apart ... holding hands!  Check it out (but grab a few tissues before you do!).

4. Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Certainly! Check out this brief devotional from Ligonier Ministries.

5. On a light note, from the Bill Cosby Show: How Mothers Deliver a Baby!


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So What Are You Advertising?

Recently, a Lancaster man was arrested on the suspicion of breaking into and burglarizing a local bowling alley. Now I am not sure of the evidence which pointed police in this man's direction, but I did hear of some evidence that appears to confirm his guilt. When arrested, the suspect was wearing a brand new sweatshirt ... bearing the name of the bowling establishment! Put that together with the fact that at least one such sweatshirt was listed among the stolen goods ... and voila! Nothing like advertising your guilt!

We as Christ followers can learn something from this. Really, John? Yep! Like this alleged burglar, we also need to be involved in advertising ... not our guilt but rather God's grace. What I am referring to is the gospel of course. This gospel is the GOOD NEWS that God so loved me (in spite of who I was ... a rebel who wanted absolutely nothing to do with HIM) that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16). His Son humbled Himself, came to this earth as one of us and eventually died a violent death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). And why did Jesus Christ do this? In order to face a righteous God's wrath against our sin so that we would never have to do so! (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10)  As a result we can enjoy a relationship with the Living God! (1 Peter 3:18; John 17:3). 

So .... my question for all of us this morning is this: "What is it that we are advertising in our lives?" I hope and pray that increasingly the answer to that question will be "The gospel of Jesus Christ!" 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's the Big Deal About Worship?


In just a few hours, the family here at Grace will gather to worship our God. Why is it so important that we do so? Consider the following quote by Manley Beasley, a prominent Southern Baptist evangelist who ministered in the middle to later years of the 20th century:

"'A glimpse of God will save you. To gaze at Him will sanctify you."


Right on brother Beasley!  


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, October 21, 2011

Peanut Butter and Evangelism

Recently the media has issued the follow warning: Shoppers prepare yourselves, the price of peanut butter is going up ... way up!"  And when they say "way up" the media is not in this case guilty of overhype. J.M. Smucker Co. which makes Jiff peanut butter has announced a 30% increase. Other pb makers have also announce planned increases ... some as high as 40%. What does this mean for the average consumer? According to the National Peanut Board based in Atlanta, this cost increase will add about 4 cents to the cost of a pb and jelly sandwich. Now that might not sound like much ... but when you take into account the fact that Americans eat enough pb each year to make approximately 10 billion pb and jelly sandwiches ... that 4 cents adds up ... to a total of $400 million!  Wow!  That's a pile of money that could be spent on other things!

Why the increase? Simply put it's Economics 101. The supply of peanuts is down (due to the drought in the American South) while the demand is up. That equals higher prices!  Now since I LOVE my peanut butter giving it up is not an option. So I plan to spread it on a bit more thin. Perhaps with this strategy I can keep my increase to just a penny a sandwich! All this to say ... this painful-to-my-wallet jack in the price of pb is due to a lousy harvest!

Just the other day as I was reading through the gospel of Matthew, I came across a verse in which Jesus talks about a harvest. But he was not talking about a harvest of peanuts. Here is what he said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 13:37-38). The harvest he was referencing was the harvest of souls. Note he calls it "plentiful." So there is a lot of harvesting to be done ... but the problem is that there are not enough workers to do the harvesting! So he urges us to pray that the Lord Himself would send workers out into the harvest. So ... let's pray ... and let's also be part of the answer to this prayer. As we go through our routine, let's do our best to point people to Jesus Christ! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday's A La Carte Offerings

Hey it's Thursday ... that means it a la carte day. Enjoy!

1. How does God speak to us today? Tim Challies has some great insights in answer to this question.

2. As Christians, we often refer to the truth that God is sovereign. But what is he actually sovereign over? Check out Justin Taylor's (gospel coalition) list. Quite encouraging!

3. Here is a video (6:56) in CEEF's "Ask the Counselor" series in which David Powlison discusses what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. 


4. Here is another brief video (2:00) with John MacArthur talking about the interceding of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

5. On a lighter note ... a video (2:34) featuring one of my favorite animated character from the Ice Age series of films.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let My People Think!


There are times when I look at what people do and I ask myself, “WHAT were they thinking?”  That question popped into my mind as I viewed the evening news recently. Shawn Wiemer, a Detroit area man, made a 3 AM stop at a convenience store. The clerk, taking note that Wiemer was drunk, must have asked him if he was driving. Wiemer quickly pointed out that he brought a designated driver along ... his 9 year old daughter!  To read more about this bizarre story, check out a Los Angeles local newscast coverage of the story. 

Many people today just don’t think (OK, perhaps their situation is not as extreme as the situation above – but people would rather be entertained and amused today than think).  God calls His people to THINK!  In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter tells us that we must be “preparing our MINDS for action.”  Jesus Himself told us we are to love the Lord our God “with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our MIND” (Matthew 22:37).  So God calls out to all of us, “Let my people think!”  If you need some guidance on what you need to think about, open your Bible and read Philippians 4:8 and THINK! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When You Need Help . . .

There is a rather bizzare movement that has taken hold in America ... and I am not talking about the "Occupy Broad Street" movement. Unlike the "occupy" movement which is anti-corporate greed, this movement is all about anti-crime. It has been fueled in part by the rash of superhero films that have made it to the screen in the past few years (think Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, the Green Lantern, Captain America ... just to name a few). Inspired by these comic book world superheroes, a growing number are donning superhero costumes in the real world. And they are doing their best to go after the bad guys. Take for example, Benjamin Foder. His hero name is Phoenix Jones and as PJ (Phoenix Jones) he wears a black mask and a matching muscle body suit. He belongs to a Seattle area group of superheros known as the Rain City Superhero Movement. These individuals all don various superhero outfits as they do their part in attempting to keep crime in check.To read more about this phenomena, check out the real life superheroes web site (the site lists approximately 600 members worldwide.)

Being a guy who has seen a few superhero movies and in my youth read more than a few superhero comics, I must admit I kinda like the idea of a superhero appearing out of nowhere in my hour of need. But really, I don't need a superhero. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe dwelling inside of me in the person of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:15-17).  So why would I need some guy in a cape to save me when God's Spirit is always with me? I think I will take my chances with God. How about you?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, October 16, 2011

iWill Connect: Sunday October 16, 2003

Technology can be quite useful in life ... except for those times when it doesn't work at all. That was the case this morning. Our computer in our sanctuary was very uncooperative and therefore we were unable to use our projector. So for those in our our early service, I have posted my message slides from this morning.


Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just What Is Mormonism?

As a result of recent comments connected with the group of Republicans campaigning for their party's nomination, the Mormon faith has been in the news. Milt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and one of the leaders for the Republican nomination is a Mormon. Some have attacked him on those grounds, labelling Mormonism as a cult. Others have defended him, claiming that Mormonism is simply a denomination of Christianity (like the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians are distinct denominations within Christianity). So, what is the reality? Is the Mormon faith a cult, squarely outside the teaching and beliefs of orthodox Christianity. Or is it at its core truly Christian?

If you want a soundly reasoned, true-to-the-Bible answer to this question, check out this article, "Is Mormonism a Cult? What Do Mormons Believe?"   And if you want to dig a little deeper, Kevin DeYoung on the Gospel Coalition blog has a more indepth article. 


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What is the Mission of the Church?

This has been a busy week ... and I have not had time to collect any goodies for you. Instead ... here is just one for your Thursday. This extended quote is from a book I just picked up titled, What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert.


In 1933—in the depths of the Great Depression and in the heyday of theological liberalism—J. Gresham Machen tried to answer the pressing question: What is the church’s responsibility in this new age? His answer was spot-on back then, and it is no less true three-quarters of a century later:

"The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life—no, all the length of human history—is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth—no, all the wonders of the starry heavens—are as the dust of the street. An unpopular message it is—an impractical message, we are told. But it is the message of the Christian church. Neglect it, and you will have destruction; heed it, and you will have life." 

DeYoung and Gilbert follow-up Machen's quote with these words: "It is not the church’s responsibility to right every wrong or to meet every need, though we have biblical motivation to do some of both. It is our responsibility, however—our unique mission and plain priority—that this unpopular, impractical gospel message gets told, that neighbors and nations may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, they may have life in his name." (Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (2011-09-06). What Is the Mission of the Church? (p. 250). Crossway. Kindle Edition)

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Birds of a Feather - Flock Together!

This morning as I was preparing my morning coffee, I heard what sounded like a whole lot of birds chirping away. So I stuck my head out my front door and sure enough ... the sky above was black with black birds ... chirping and flying to who knows where. And they just kept coming and coming and coming. There must have been a couple thousand of these birds. And from the best I could tell ... they were all starlings.

As I thought of this ... I thought of the old expression, "Birds of a feather, flock together." I did some research and found that the origin of this phrase dates back to the 1500's.  The saying simply means that those of similar taste tend to congregate together. This is not only true of birds, it's true of us humans, too. We tend to hang out with those that have the same likes (or dislikes) as we do. Case in point ... I don't hang out with people who like to do scrap booking - because that is something that is not on my radar screen of "likes."  But invite me to watch a football game with the guys and I am there (unless it's the New England Patriots!).

SOOO ... who are the people that you tend to associate with? This is a more important question than you might think. In a number of places, Scripture gives us guidance on the type of people we should be hanging with (Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:33). You want to be wise? - spend time with wise people. You want to be gracious? - spend time with gracious people. You want to become more like Christ? - then look for people who exemplify him and seek to spend some time with them. Remember ... "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Foggy Future

This morning when I walked out my door to retrieve the morning newspaper, I was greeted by a blanket of fog – a blanket that was quite heavy early on (at least surrounding my house). So I was very glad to see that much of the fog had dissipated by the time I had to hop in my car and head off for my day. I don’t know how you feel about driving in foggy conditions … but I don’t like it one bit! I like to see clearly what lies ahead of me when I am driving – which is something that isn’t going to be the case on a real foggy morning!

Living out our lives is a lot like driving in the fog. We can only see so far ahead. As much as we might like to be able to see around the next corner, it is fruitless to even try. Only God knows what lies before us as we walk (or run!) through our daily routines. But isn’t that a comfort? Knowing that the God who made me and saved me has my days in HIS hands brings me a lot of peace. And peace is in short supply in our anxiety saturated world. I hope you can find peace today knowing that you and your future are in the Almighty’s hands.

 Thanks for stopping by,
pj

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life Doesn't Work So Well Alone!

At Grace Church, we believe that God calls us to do life together ... because life works best in community.  That's why we are launching our new and improved small group ministry. We call our groups Life groups. We take seriously the exhortation in Hebrews 10:24-25 which demonstrates just how important it is do journey through life TOGETHER with other followers of Christ.

Here is a brief video that demonstrates the foolishness of trying to do life alone!



Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

Here are my Thursday offerings:

1. Ligonier Ministries features an excellent interview with Joni Erickson Tada on The Purpose in the Pain. A great read!

2. Ray Ortland on the unBeatitudes.  Ortland is "spot on!" as they say across the Atlantic.

3. Need some help in teaching children who are reluctant to change. Here is a great video (5:14) from CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation).

4. Here is a heart warming video of a little baby who hears his mother's voice for the very first time!  Wow!


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 Billion and Counting!

According to the United Nations, sometime toward the end of this month, the world will welcome it's 7th billion human being onto the planet. Seven billion! That's more than a boatload of people!  To help you get a handle on this vast number ... think of this: If you were to count the world's population (counting at the rate of one person per second), it would take you over 220 years to do so!  Wow! That's a lot of people!

The Bible makes it clear that each one of these approximately 7 billion people who live on earth is an image bearer of God's. Now sin has twisted, distorted and broken this image - but it is still there. The Bible also makes it clear that God commands every single one of these fallen image bearers to repent (Acts 17:30). The reason given for this command is that God has fixed a day on which he will judge all of humanity (Acts 17:31-32). Repentance and judgment are two concepts one does not hear much about today ... even within the church. But they are biblical words that describe biblical realities. And we must not lose sight of this!

So ... as you think about your 7 billion fellow human beings ... pray for them! Ask God to work in them so that they will heed his command to repent and thereby be ready to face the Judge on that day God has fixed.

Tonight at Grace Church we launch our Wednesday Night Live programming. As part of our evening activities, we will be sponsoring what we are calling an "All Souls Prayer Gathering." This gathering will meet the first Wednesday of each month and will be a focused time of praying for the lost souls around us, both near and far. If you are in the area, I invite you to join us. And if you are not, I encourage you to spend some time praying for those around you who do not know Christ.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Courageous: The Movie


Yesterday, since it was rainy and quite cool, my wife and I decided to head for a matinee at our local movie theater. We had wanted to see the new movie, Courageous  (produced by the people who came out with Fireproof). The movie proved to be a good fit for a rainy day.  It was an entertaining film with a great message. This morning, I received an email from the producers of the film ... in part it read: 


"What an amazing Opening Weekend for COURAGEOUS! Thank you for the role you played in helping this film reach a wide audience—it was the No. 1 new release of the weekend. What did people think of COURAGEOUS? It scored it an A+ on CinemaScore—one of just four films to do so this year.

While opening in fewer than half of the theaters as the three other new releases—and three holdover films—COURAGEOUS finished No. 4 in the box office this weekend. And in the per-screen average, COURAGEOUS was by far the No. 1 movie of all movies playing in 1,000 or more theaters.Talk about exceedingly, abundantly more than we can hope or imagine!"


Not everybody is thrilled with the film. On RottenTomatoes.com, even though moviegoers gave the film a 93 rating (out of 100, only one film was rated higher), movie critics gave it a lowly 31. Here is what the critics were saying, "While the filmmaking is fairly competent, Courageous is overall worthless to anybody who doesn't subscribe to its dogmatic agenda."

Hmm. Quite a harsh statement from the critics. Why such a statement? Could it be because the film mentions the name "Jesus" several times ... and NOT as an expression of profanity? Could it be because the gospel is given in no uncertain terms? 

I would encourage you to go and see the movie. Especially you dads out there!  You won't be disappointed!  

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Monday, October 31, 2011

Think on This!

I am sure most Christians would agree that as followers of Jesus our lives should be different from the lives of unbelievers who surround us. Yet, far too frequently, we Christians tend to blend right in with our ungodly world. I believe this occurs because so many believers do not take the gospel seriously! God calls us as Christians to be a community of those who "love God, even to the contempt of self" as opposed to those who "love self, even to the contempt of God" (the words quoted are the words of the early church theologian, St. Augustine in his work, The City of God).

So ... my friends, are we learning to love God ... even to the contempt of self?  That is what God is calling us to do!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Heroes Among Us!

When the tornado hit Joplin, MO on the evening of this past May 22nd, Mark Lindquist and his co-worker, Ryan Tackett did what they had been trained to do. The two worked for a social agency in a group home, caring for three middle-aged men with Down Syndrome. Since the home had no basement and since the men moved too slowly to be relocated, they pulled out three mattresses, placing the men underneath them. Ryan and Mark then climbed on top to weigh the mattresses down. When the EF-5 tornado's 200 mph winds blew through, the house was destroyed. The three Down Syndrome men were killed. Tackett and Lindquist survived, Lindquist barely so. His injuries were so severe that his body swelled to the point he was unrecognizable. He was in a coma for several days and was only identified by the tiny green flecks in his eyes. He is still recovering from his injuries.

Now if you know anything about social workers you know that they give a lot and get paid a little. Lindquist did not have medical insurance because he could not afford it. But he figured that since his injuries occurred while on the job, workman's comp would cover his bills. He figured wrong. The insurer denied his claim, "based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado." Considering that his medical bills have topped 2.5 million dollars AND he has more surgery planned, to say Lindquist was disappointed would be quite an understatement. The insurer's decision angered Lindquist's friends, employer and even Missouri state legislators. Yet in spite of this growing mountain of debt and the controversy swirling around him, Lindquist is still very grateful. "I'm a walking miracle!"

I first read of Lindquist, his heroism and his dilemma, in Monday's paper. On Tuesday I read that on Monday (perhaps even as I was reading the story), the insurer did a 180! They have now agreed to pay Lindquist's expenses. My guess is the insurer came under great pressure as a result of the AP story which I read which had been published nationwide and even in some international markets. But whatever the reason, Lindquist is one who is getting his due!

As I reflect back on my life, I could list a number of "heroes" that I have encountered. Men and women who have generously given of themselves to the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many have gone unthanked and unappreciated. But I know ... even if they never receive their due here ... one day they will! (Matthew 19:29; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). And the reward received by these "unsung" heroes will last forever! Praise God!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday A La Carte


Thursday means ... a bunch of stuff that you might (I hope) find helpful for your faith journey!

1. Have you ever found waiting upon God (Isaiah 40:31) difficult? Paul Tripp offers five reasons why God calls us to wait. 


2. Tim Tebow is a  name that even non-football fans probably recognize. Tebow became a national celebrity when he became the first sophomore to ever win college football's most prestigious individual award, the Heisman Trophy. After winning a number of other awards, he was drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos and has just won the starting quarterback job. But not everyone is a Tim Tebow fan. You see, Tim is an outspoken Christian ... and for that fact alone many are hoping he fails. Really? Check out Denny Burke's post, Why is Tebow Hated So Much? 


3. Here's a touching story of long-lasting marital love and commitment (72 years long!). You probably heard this account of an Iowa couple who died one hour apart ... holding hands!  Check it out (but grab a few tissues before you do!).

4. Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Certainly! Check out this brief devotional from Ligonier Ministries.

5. On a light note, from the Bill Cosby Show: How Mothers Deliver a Baby!


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So What Are You Advertising?

Recently, a Lancaster man was arrested on the suspicion of breaking into and burglarizing a local bowling alley. Now I am not sure of the evidence which pointed police in this man's direction, but I did hear of some evidence that appears to confirm his guilt. When arrested, the suspect was wearing a brand new sweatshirt ... bearing the name of the bowling establishment! Put that together with the fact that at least one such sweatshirt was listed among the stolen goods ... and voila! Nothing like advertising your guilt!

We as Christ followers can learn something from this. Really, John? Yep! Like this alleged burglar, we also need to be involved in advertising ... not our guilt but rather God's grace. What I am referring to is the gospel of course. This gospel is the GOOD NEWS that God so loved me (in spite of who I was ... a rebel who wanted absolutely nothing to do with HIM) that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16). His Son humbled Himself, came to this earth as one of us and eventually died a violent death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). And why did Jesus Christ do this? In order to face a righteous God's wrath against our sin so that we would never have to do so! (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10)  As a result we can enjoy a relationship with the Living God! (1 Peter 3:18; John 17:3). 

So .... my question for all of us this morning is this: "What is it that we are advertising in our lives?" I hope and pray that increasingly the answer to that question will be "The gospel of Jesus Christ!" 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's the Big Deal About Worship?


In just a few hours, the family here at Grace will gather to worship our God. Why is it so important that we do so? Consider the following quote by Manley Beasley, a prominent Southern Baptist evangelist who ministered in the middle to later years of the 20th century:

"'A glimpse of God will save you. To gaze at Him will sanctify you."


Right on brother Beasley!  


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, October 21, 2011

Peanut Butter and Evangelism

Recently the media has issued the follow warning: Shoppers prepare yourselves, the price of peanut butter is going up ... way up!"  And when they say "way up" the media is not in this case guilty of overhype. J.M. Smucker Co. which makes Jiff peanut butter has announced a 30% increase. Other pb makers have also announce planned increases ... some as high as 40%. What does this mean for the average consumer? According to the National Peanut Board based in Atlanta, this cost increase will add about 4 cents to the cost of a pb and jelly sandwich. Now that might not sound like much ... but when you take into account the fact that Americans eat enough pb each year to make approximately 10 billion pb and jelly sandwiches ... that 4 cents adds up ... to a total of $400 million!  Wow!  That's a pile of money that could be spent on other things!

Why the increase? Simply put it's Economics 101. The supply of peanuts is down (due to the drought in the American South) while the demand is up. That equals higher prices!  Now since I LOVE my peanut butter giving it up is not an option. So I plan to spread it on a bit more thin. Perhaps with this strategy I can keep my increase to just a penny a sandwich! All this to say ... this painful-to-my-wallet jack in the price of pb is due to a lousy harvest!

Just the other day as I was reading through the gospel of Matthew, I came across a verse in which Jesus talks about a harvest. But he was not talking about a harvest of peanuts. Here is what he said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 13:37-38). The harvest he was referencing was the harvest of souls. Note he calls it "plentiful." So there is a lot of harvesting to be done ... but the problem is that there are not enough workers to do the harvesting! So he urges us to pray that the Lord Himself would send workers out into the harvest. So ... let's pray ... and let's also be part of the answer to this prayer. As we go through our routine, let's do our best to point people to Jesus Christ! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday's A La Carte Offerings

Hey it's Thursday ... that means it a la carte day. Enjoy!

1. How does God speak to us today? Tim Challies has some great insights in answer to this question.

2. As Christians, we often refer to the truth that God is sovereign. But what is he actually sovereign over? Check out Justin Taylor's (gospel coalition) list. Quite encouraging!

3. Here is a video (6:56) in CEEF's "Ask the Counselor" series in which David Powlison discusses what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. 


4. Here is another brief video (2:00) with John MacArthur talking about the interceding of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

5. On a lighter note ... a video (2:34) featuring one of my favorite animated character from the Ice Age series of films.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let My People Think!


There are times when I look at what people do and I ask myself, “WHAT were they thinking?”  That question popped into my mind as I viewed the evening news recently. Shawn Wiemer, a Detroit area man, made a 3 AM stop at a convenience store. The clerk, taking note that Wiemer was drunk, must have asked him if he was driving. Wiemer quickly pointed out that he brought a designated driver along ... his 9 year old daughter!  To read more about this bizarre story, check out a Los Angeles local newscast coverage of the story. 

Many people today just don’t think (OK, perhaps their situation is not as extreme as the situation above – but people would rather be entertained and amused today than think).  God calls His people to THINK!  In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter tells us that we must be “preparing our MINDS for action.”  Jesus Himself told us we are to love the Lord our God “with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our MIND” (Matthew 22:37).  So God calls out to all of us, “Let my people think!”  If you need some guidance on what you need to think about, open your Bible and read Philippians 4:8 and THINK! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When You Need Help . . .

There is a rather bizzare movement that has taken hold in America ... and I am not talking about the "Occupy Broad Street" movement. Unlike the "occupy" movement which is anti-corporate greed, this movement is all about anti-crime. It has been fueled in part by the rash of superhero films that have made it to the screen in the past few years (think Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, the Green Lantern, Captain America ... just to name a few). Inspired by these comic book world superheroes, a growing number are donning superhero costumes in the real world. And they are doing their best to go after the bad guys. Take for example, Benjamin Foder. His hero name is Phoenix Jones and as PJ (Phoenix Jones) he wears a black mask and a matching muscle body suit. He belongs to a Seattle area group of superheros known as the Rain City Superhero Movement. These individuals all don various superhero outfits as they do their part in attempting to keep crime in check.To read more about this phenomena, check out the real life superheroes web site (the site lists approximately 600 members worldwide.)

Being a guy who has seen a few superhero movies and in my youth read more than a few superhero comics, I must admit I kinda like the idea of a superhero appearing out of nowhere in my hour of need. But really, I don't need a superhero. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe dwelling inside of me in the person of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:15-17).  So why would I need some guy in a cape to save me when God's Spirit is always with me? I think I will take my chances with God. How about you?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, October 16, 2011

iWill Connect: Sunday October 16, 2003

Technology can be quite useful in life ... except for those times when it doesn't work at all. That was the case this morning. Our computer in our sanctuary was very uncooperative and therefore we were unable to use our projector. So for those in our our early service, I have posted my message slides from this morning.


Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just What Is Mormonism?

As a result of recent comments connected with the group of Republicans campaigning for their party's nomination, the Mormon faith has been in the news. Milt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and one of the leaders for the Republican nomination is a Mormon. Some have attacked him on those grounds, labelling Mormonism as a cult. Others have defended him, claiming that Mormonism is simply a denomination of Christianity (like the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians are distinct denominations within Christianity). So, what is the reality? Is the Mormon faith a cult, squarely outside the teaching and beliefs of orthodox Christianity. Or is it at its core truly Christian?

If you want a soundly reasoned, true-to-the-Bible answer to this question, check out this article, "Is Mormonism a Cult? What Do Mormons Believe?"   And if you want to dig a little deeper, Kevin DeYoung on the Gospel Coalition blog has a more indepth article. 


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What is the Mission of the Church?

This has been a busy week ... and I have not had time to collect any goodies for you. Instead ... here is just one for your Thursday. This extended quote is from a book I just picked up titled, What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert.


In 1933—in the depths of the Great Depression and in the heyday of theological liberalism—J. Gresham Machen tried to answer the pressing question: What is the church’s responsibility in this new age? His answer was spot-on back then, and it is no less true three-quarters of a century later:

"The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life—no, all the length of human history—is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth—no, all the wonders of the starry heavens—are as the dust of the street. An unpopular message it is—an impractical message, we are told. But it is the message of the Christian church. Neglect it, and you will have destruction; heed it, and you will have life." 

DeYoung and Gilbert follow-up Machen's quote with these words: "It is not the church’s responsibility to right every wrong or to meet every need, though we have biblical motivation to do some of both. It is our responsibility, however—our unique mission and plain priority—that this unpopular, impractical gospel message gets told, that neighbors and nations may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, they may have life in his name." (Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert (2011-09-06). What Is the Mission of the Church? (p. 250). Crossway. Kindle Edition)

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Birds of a Feather - Flock Together!

This morning as I was preparing my morning coffee, I heard what sounded like a whole lot of birds chirping away. So I stuck my head out my front door and sure enough ... the sky above was black with black birds ... chirping and flying to who knows where. And they just kept coming and coming and coming. There must have been a couple thousand of these birds. And from the best I could tell ... they were all starlings.

As I thought of this ... I thought of the old expression, "Birds of a feather, flock together." I did some research and found that the origin of this phrase dates back to the 1500's.  The saying simply means that those of similar taste tend to congregate together. This is not only true of birds, it's true of us humans, too. We tend to hang out with those that have the same likes (or dislikes) as we do. Case in point ... I don't hang out with people who like to do scrap booking - because that is something that is not on my radar screen of "likes."  But invite me to watch a football game with the guys and I am there (unless it's the New England Patriots!).

SOOO ... who are the people that you tend to associate with? This is a more important question than you might think. In a number of places, Scripture gives us guidance on the type of people we should be hanging with (Proverbs 13:20; 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:33). You want to be wise? - spend time with wise people. You want to be gracious? - spend time with gracious people. You want to become more like Christ? - then look for people who exemplify him and seek to spend some time with them. Remember ... "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Foggy Future

This morning when I walked out my door to retrieve the morning newspaper, I was greeted by a blanket of fog – a blanket that was quite heavy early on (at least surrounding my house). So I was very glad to see that much of the fog had dissipated by the time I had to hop in my car and head off for my day. I don’t know how you feel about driving in foggy conditions … but I don’t like it one bit! I like to see clearly what lies ahead of me when I am driving – which is something that isn’t going to be the case on a real foggy morning!

Living out our lives is a lot like driving in the fog. We can only see so far ahead. As much as we might like to be able to see around the next corner, it is fruitless to even try. Only God knows what lies before us as we walk (or run!) through our daily routines. But isn’t that a comfort? Knowing that the God who made me and saved me has my days in HIS hands brings me a lot of peace. And peace is in short supply in our anxiety saturated world. I hope you can find peace today knowing that you and your future are in the Almighty’s hands.

 Thanks for stopping by,
pj

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life Doesn't Work So Well Alone!

At Grace Church, we believe that God calls us to do life together ... because life works best in community.  That's why we are launching our new and improved small group ministry. We call our groups Life groups. We take seriously the exhortation in Hebrews 10:24-25 which demonstrates just how important it is do journey through life TOGETHER with other followers of Christ.

Here is a brief video that demonstrates the foolishness of trying to do life alone!



Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday A La Carte

Here are my Thursday offerings:

1. Ligonier Ministries features an excellent interview with Joni Erickson Tada on The Purpose in the Pain. A great read!

2. Ray Ortland on the unBeatitudes.  Ortland is "spot on!" as they say across the Atlantic.

3. Need some help in teaching children who are reluctant to change. Here is a great video (5:14) from CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation).

4. Here is a heart warming video of a little baby who hears his mother's voice for the very first time!  Wow!


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

7 Billion and Counting!

According to the United Nations, sometime toward the end of this month, the world will welcome it's 7th billion human being onto the planet. Seven billion! That's more than a boatload of people!  To help you get a handle on this vast number ... think of this: If you were to count the world's population (counting at the rate of one person per second), it would take you over 220 years to do so!  Wow! That's a lot of people!

The Bible makes it clear that each one of these approximately 7 billion people who live on earth is an image bearer of God's. Now sin has twisted, distorted and broken this image - but it is still there. The Bible also makes it clear that God commands every single one of these fallen image bearers to repent (Acts 17:30). The reason given for this command is that God has fixed a day on which he will judge all of humanity (Acts 17:31-32). Repentance and judgment are two concepts one does not hear much about today ... even within the church. But they are biblical words that describe biblical realities. And we must not lose sight of this!

So ... as you think about your 7 billion fellow human beings ... pray for them! Ask God to work in them so that they will heed his command to repent and thereby be ready to face the Judge on that day God has fixed.

Tonight at Grace Church we launch our Wednesday Night Live programming. As part of our evening activities, we will be sponsoring what we are calling an "All Souls Prayer Gathering." This gathering will meet the first Wednesday of each month and will be a focused time of praying for the lost souls around us, both near and far. If you are in the area, I invite you to join us. And if you are not, I encourage you to spend some time praying for those around you who do not know Christ.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Courageous: The Movie


Yesterday, since it was rainy and quite cool, my wife and I decided to head for a matinee at our local movie theater. We had wanted to see the new movie, Courageous  (produced by the people who came out with Fireproof). The movie proved to be a good fit for a rainy day.  It was an entertaining film with a great message. This morning, I received an email from the producers of the film ... in part it read: 


"What an amazing Opening Weekend for COURAGEOUS! Thank you for the role you played in helping this film reach a wide audience—it was the No. 1 new release of the weekend. What did people think of COURAGEOUS? It scored it an A+ on CinemaScore—one of just four films to do so this year.

While opening in fewer than half of the theaters as the three other new releases—and three holdover films—COURAGEOUS finished No. 4 in the box office this weekend. And in the per-screen average, COURAGEOUS was by far the No. 1 movie of all movies playing in 1,000 or more theaters.Talk about exceedingly, abundantly more than we can hope or imagine!"


Not everybody is thrilled with the film. On RottenTomatoes.com, even though moviegoers gave the film a 93 rating (out of 100, only one film was rated higher), movie critics gave it a lowly 31. Here is what the critics were saying, "While the filmmaking is fairly competent, Courageous is overall worthless to anybody who doesn't subscribe to its dogmatic agenda."

Hmm. Quite a harsh statement from the critics. Why such a statement? Could it be because the film mentions the name "Jesus" several times ... and NOT as an expression of profanity? Could it be because the gospel is given in no uncertain terms? 

I would encourage you to go and see the movie. Especially you dads out there!  You won't be disappointed!  

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


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.