Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings ... enjoy!

1. How cheap is life in Norway? John Piper (with some insights from CS Lewis) weighs in on the sentence given to the mass murderer who murdered 77 victims.

2. What exactly is "righteous anger?"  Here is one man's take ... quite insightful!

3. Is it possible to think too much ... too often about the cross? Read these thoughts on this question . . . 

4. When God ... life ... doesn't make sense. Here's some brief insights from Jared Wilson. 

5. On a lighter side. . . (note: an adder is a poisonous snake whose diet includes mice!).

Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men!

One day, as Simon and his brother, Andrew were casting their fishing net into the waters of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus spotted them. He stopped to talk to them. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." How did Andrew and Simon respond to this invitation?  "At once they left their nets and followed him." (See Matthew 4:19-20). I don't know about you - but I find it striking that they did that. They could have said to Jesus, "That sure is an interesting invitation. We are heading over to Starbucks for a latte and we'll talk it over there. So stay tuned. We'll get back to you tomorrow." Nope, didn't go down that way, did it!  Matthew records no hesitation on their part. None whatsoever. They simply left their nets and followed Jesus. Surprising? It shouldn't be. Simon and Andrew realized who it was that was offering the invite. And that made the all the difference for them. 

I love to fish (see pic. It is not doctored in any way. I really did catch that fish all by my lonesome!). But I love to fish for men even more. What a joy to be able to point people to Jesus Christ.  He alone can meet a person's deepest needs. And He alone is the way home. Without Christ, people are lost.  But with Him, they are wonderfully found! The invitation Jesus offered to Simon and Andrew - he offers to all of us.  Are you willing to follow Him and allow Him to make you a fisher of people?

Thanks for listening, 

On the Storms of Life

Last week, as meteorologists were coming out with their thinking on Hurricane Isaac's future path, most predicted a path that would take the storm either over Florida or to the EAST of Florida. Now that we are about 12 hours from landfall, it is becoming more and more certain that landfall will the in the vicinity of New Orleans. Once glance at a map will show the reality of the storm's track is quite a bit different from what the professionals were predicting last week.

In spite of the progress that's been made in tracking storms in the past decade, to accurately predict which way these tropical systems will trek is precarious at best. It almost appears that these storms have a mind of their own! The unpredictability of the paths (and you could add speed of movement and amount if intensification) really does not surprise us. We understand that even though the technology used by the National Hurricane Center is quite complex ... these hurricanes are even more so. Therefore, trying to accurately predict just where these storms will head and how big and ferocious they will be once they get there is a tall task indeed!

All this reminds me of the storms that crash into our lives. Unlike the arrival of hurricanes, we often have no advanced warning. At other times, we can see them brewing on the horizon ... and so we worry and fret as we make predictions of how they will bring us hardship and heartache ... only to see them drift off in another direction. But no matter if storms come our way or steer clear of us, we can always find comfort that the God who sits on the throne of heaven, has his hand upon the steering winds of the storms of life. So when life gets stormy (and it will, note James 1:2 tells us to rejoice WHEN - not IF - we encounter trials of various kinds), we can find comfort, strength, courage and hope knowing that our God is in control of ALL things (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28). So if you are hurting today, look to the God who loves you and has YOU in HIS loving and powerful grip!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

If Feels Good To Be Loved!

Yesterday, my iPhone rang. I answered with a friendly "hello." The little voice on the other end responded with "Grammy?"  "No, this is Papa. Would you like to speak with Grammy?" "Yes," the little voice replied. So I handed the phone to my wife. "Hello, Ella." And with great passion and enthusiasm, our 3 year old granddaughter asked, "Grammy, can I come over to your house? I love you so much!"  And just the day before when we were driving Ella back to her house she told us as we were driving along, "Grammy and Papa ... I loooovvveee you!"

Wow. It feels good to be loved! And what is true of being loved by a grandchild, child, spouse, friend, etc. - is even more true when it comes to be being loved by God. How so? Human love ... even at its best and purest ... is imperfect. God's love, on the other hand, is a perfect love. If you are a child of God, then he will neither love you more nor less tomorrow than he does today. His love is unconditional and unfailing. He loves us perfectly in His Son. And that, my friend feels good!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

PS - If you unsure if you are a child of God, please check out the web site: Two Ways to Live.

Thursday A La Carte

It's time again for a hodge-podge group of offerings in hope that you will find something to inspire, encourage and equip you in your journey of faith!

1. Here is a fascinating video from the Roman Catholic Church that's worth watching! It's titled, Test of Fire: 2012 Elections.  

2. Want to know how great a difference ten years has made on the Internet? Check this out! 

3. In Pakistan there is an incident brewing involving a mentally disabled Christian who might have to spend the rest of her life in prison for blasphemy. Please pray!

4. Is "should" a dirty word? Ed Welch offers up an insightful answer! 

5. Here's the story of how God changed the life of a Planned Parenthood manager. Truly an "amazing grace" sighting!

6. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Flash Mobs ... Now Cash Mobs! What's Next?

According to Wikipedia, a flash mob is "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression." Usually the mob is gathered via various forms of social media such as Facebook and/or Twitter. The word was first coined in 2003. Since that time, many videos of flash mobs have gone viral.

Now there is a new kind of mob at work ... it's called a cash mob. Again, citing Wikipedia, a cash mob is "a group of people who assemble at a local business and all buy items from that business." The whole purpose of doing so is to support the local business ... and by extension, the local community. The first cash mob can be traced back to 2011.  And according to the local Lancaster newspaper, the first cash mob appeared in the city of Lancaster this past Sunday when a group of about 100 people mobbed a local downtown merchant for one purpose .... to buy! 

The emergence of these mobs manifests that our society just loves to go after whatever is "new and exciting!"  As a result, there is always a new fad just around the corner. Yesterday it was flash mobs ... today it is cash mobs ... what will tomorrow bring, "gash mobs" with people hitting a city block, gashing tires as they go? Or perhaps "trash mobs" consisting of people hitting an area to clean up trash (many areas could really use such a mob!)? Or maybe "mash mobs," where a group of people get together and mash some grapes or potatoes (for what purpose I would not know!)?

The church is not immune to this chasing after fads (does WWJD ring any bells?). One concern (of many) that I have for today's church is that in chasing after all that is new and exciting ... we have lost a grip on the old and life-changing. I am talking about God's Word and the truths of the gospel that it reveals to us. Please take a moment and read the following quote from pastor and author Kevin DeYoung: 

"The only thing more difficult than finding the truth is not losing it. What starts out as new and precious becomes plain and old. What begins a thrilling discovery becomes a rote exercise. What provokes one generation to sacrifice and passion becomes in the next generation a cause for rebellion and apathy. Why is it that denominations and church movements almost always drift from their theological moorings? Why is it that people who grow up in the church are often less articulate about their faith than the new Christian who converted at forty-five? Perhaps it’s because truth is like the tip of your nose-it’s hardest to see when it’s right in front of you. No doubt, the church in the West has many new things to learn. But for the most part, everything we need to learn is what we've already forgotten. The chief theological task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or to be relevant but to remember. We must remember the old, old story. We must remember the faith once delivered to the saints. We must remember the truths that spark reformation, revival, and regeneration" (The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism). 

Hmm. Perhaps we need to get back to that old, old gospel and allow its beauty and truth to renew our souls, invigorate our hearts, stretch our minds and strengthen our faith!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Chew on This as You Begin Your Week.

Thought I would offer up a great quote from A.W. Tozer on the pursuit of holiness.

“Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in their life." 

Tozer is right. Far too many Christians profess a faith that makes little if any difference on how they live out the routines of their lives. Tozer would say they might profess faith in Christ ... but they don't really possess it.

How about you? If you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ ... what in your day-to-day living would support your claim. Just asking . . . because the eternal welfare of your soul hangs in the balance!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

A Brief Prayer for Your Lord's Day

Here is another brief prayer I want to offer up to you today as you go through yet another Lord's Day. For the most part, it is a prayer gleaned from one of my favorite devotional books, The Valley of Vision. I encourage you to take this prayer and make it yours.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill;
Unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget you. 

Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots;
Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live for you, 
That all else is trifling. 

Your presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. 
Abide in me, gracious God and fill me with your holy presence. 


Thanks for stopping by . . .

OK ... How Is It Possible to "Pray without Ceasing?"

Most if not all Christians are familiar with the biblical mandate laid down in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 where we are told to "pray without ceasing." Knowing it is one thing .... putting it into practice is another. I mean ... most of us have a life and a very busy one at that! Running here and there .... doing this and that ... and getting down right wrung out by the day's end by doing so. So how in the world can God expect us to "pray without ceasing?"  

Theologian of yesteryear, Charles Hodge had this to say . . . 

"I think that in my childhood I came nearer to conforming to the apostle’s injunction: “Pray without ceasing,” than in any other period of my life. As far back as I can remember, I had the habit of thanking God for everything I received, and asking him for everything I needed. If I lost a book, or any of my play things, I prayed that I might find it. I prayed walking along the streets, in school and out of school, whether playing or studying. I did not do this in obedience to any prescribed rule. It seemed natural. I thought of God as an everywhere—present Being, full of kindness and love, who would not be offended if children talked to Him. I knew he cared for sparrows. I was as cheerful and happy as the birds and acted as they did." 

Hmm. Thanking God for everything we receive AND asking God for everything we need. Now that's one way we can effectively "pray without ceasing." 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Thursday A La Carte

Hard to believe that it's Thursday again ... but it is and so here are this week's offerings:

1. Scripture Union's mission is to get people into the Word of God and help them to then get the Word of God into their lives. Here is a free ebook that they offer that might prove helpful to you in your discipline of the Word.

2. For the past 16 years I have been serving on the board of Hebrew Christian Fellowship, a small mission with the purpose of presenting lovingly and sensitively the gospel to Jewish people. Why is this so important? Here is Roger Wambold's (the director of HCF) most recent letter to the HCF family. He gives a great rationale on why we cannot neglect reaching out to the Jewish people.

Dear Friend,

It is certain that the 26 athletes representing Israel in 10 fields of competition at the London Olympic Games are singularly united in their realization that this year marks the 40th anniversary of what has become known as the Munich Massacre.

At the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, the first Olympiad to be held in Germany since Adolph Hitler presided over the Berlin Olympics in 1936, a horrifying scene unfolded.  Eight Palestinian terrorists, part of the Black September organization, breached the light security of the Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team who resisted them, and took nine others hostage.  Ultimately all nine of those hostages were killed in the crossfire of an unsuccessful rescue attempt by the German authorities, along with five of the terrorists.  The remaining three were arrested, but subsequently released by the German government negotiation with Black September over yet another hostage situation involving a hijacked plane.
It is hard to imagine the level of hatred directed against the Jewish people that would cause such a monstrous act to infect the spirit of these international games when political and ideological differences have been historically set aside for a brief period in the interest of true sportsmanship.  On the other hand, Jewish people have been the object of this kind of pernicious hatred throughout their history.

While there is even now a rising tide of anti-Semitic sentiment throughout the world, especially in Europe and, of course, the Middle East, the Scriptures make it clear that the worst days lie yet ahead for Israel.  In view of this, it is more important than ever to reach out lovingly and sensitively with the Gospel of Messiah Jesus to our Jewish friends everywhere.

May the Lord bless you and yours with joy and peace in these monumental times.

Sincerely in Messiah Jesus,

 Rev. Roger L. Wambold,
General Director

3. Forbes offers up an interesting article on how to tell when someone is lying

4. As the London Olympics fade into the rear view mirror of life, here is an interesting article on lessons from one of the best known British Olyimpians of yesteryear, Eric Liddell.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

London Gold!

The London Olympics proved to be golden for the American Olympic athletes. The United States not only won the overal medal count ... but in doing so amassed more gold medals than any other country. The US team especially shined in the pool and on the track. But one small country was able to outshine the American men on the track in the sprints ... and that was the country of Jamaica, led by three-gold medal winner Usain Bolt (whose last name is so very appropriate given this guy's speed!). Usain not only won the individual 100 meter and 200 meter sprints ... he won them handily. It wasn't even close! After anchoring the winning 4x100 relay for Jamaica ... he declared himself  "a living legend."

When I heard that ... I winced. Not because I disagree with his assessment. In my opinion and in the opinion of many others, he is indeed the greatest sprinter of all time. But if I could speak to Usain this is what I would tell him: "Usain, you might very well be a living legend, but let OTHERS say it!" When Usain (or anyone else for that matter) goes around blowing their horn ... celebrating themselves .... putting themselves on a pedestal  ... what does that communicate about them?  Doesn't take a college degree to answer that!

The Old Testament book of Proverbs offers up a lot of wisdom. Among its wisdom sayings is this helpful advice: "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips" (Proverbs 27:2), 

So Usain ... you may indeed be a living legend ... but let someone else put that tag on you. It wears better that way! 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Back from the Beach!

Every summer we take a "family" vacation to the beach. "Family" means my wife and me, our adult children and their spouses ... and of course, the grandkids. Each summer gets a bit more challenging, especially packing all the baby/toddler gear needed and, once arriving, deciding who is going to sleep where! With 8 adults, one tweenager and four little ones age three and under ... it does get interesting!

Many people asked me this past Sunday if I enjoyed my vacation. Yep! Hands down a great time was had by all (I am guessing that is true of four-month old Molly as she is not up to talking much yet!). Almost two year old Jack kept saying "beach" every time we got in the car and 14 month old Nolan couldn't figure out how to catch a sea gull (though he never gave up trying!). Three year old Ella laughed and giggled on the rides at the boardwalk ... and tweener Nathan just loved it all (as did all of us adults)!

But I must admit that even though my mind is full of pleasant memories ... my body is half empty of its normal energy. Even though the week was a boatload of fun ... it was tiring. Perhaps it's because I am getting older ... or maybe it's just living with 13 people - including 4 little ones - for a week under one roof.  I sure am glad  that I have a year to rest up before our next family vacation!

One of my takeaways from the week is the importance of our relationships. And if these relationships are to be the kind of relationships God designed them to be ... then we must invest in them. And that is just what my family did down at Bethany Beach. Living, loving, laughing together --- I love you, family!!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Beyond Saying, "I Do!"

I published this posting back on June 30th. Given that I have another wedding tomorrow AND given all the media attention on the topic of marriage (thank you, Dan Cathay, for your stand for traditional marriage - if you have not yet done so, go support his right to speak his opinion by eating at one of his Chick-fil-A restaurants!), I thought it appropriate to re-post these thoughts on marriage.

Today on my calendar I have marked the word "wedding rehearsal." Yep. I get to officiate another wedding tomorrow ... something I have enjoyed doing a few times across the course of the past thirty years.

Marriage has been in the news a lot in recent months ... especially since our president has come out in support of gay marriage. There has been a lot of discussion about marriage and what it is and who it is for. So ... here are a couple of thoughts on the issue.

- Marriage is a gift ... a gift from the God who made us and who knows what is best for us. He knows that for the vast majority of us, it is in our best interest that we be married (see Genesis 2:18-24). 

- Marriage is to be between a man and a woman. From the beginning, marriage was designed by God be a one man ... one woman relationship (see also Matthew 19:4-9). 

- Marriage is also to be life-long. Jesus makes it clear in the Matthew 19 passage that marriage that from the get-go, God clearly intends that people marry for life.

Now ... I could say more, but based on what I have said above, here are some implications for all of us who claim to follow Jesus! 

1. We must take a stand for traditional marriage. The term "gay marriage" is actually a contradiction in terms. A gay marriage may be a relationship ... even a civil union ... but it is not a marriage (at least not in biblical terms).

2. We must take just as strong (if not stronger) stand on the permanency of marriage. Far too many Christians have adopted our society's view of marriage ... that it is more than a "going steady" relationship ... but not much more. Therefore, when things aren't working out in the marriage ... it's time to be getting out of the marriage.

3. We must treat our spouse as a gift from God to us. When you start thinking about one another in these terms ... it has a way of changing the relationship .... for the better!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Thursday A La Carte

Here is this week's "vacation" version of "Thursday A La Carte." 

1. Randy Alcorn writes about his father's conversion to Christ at the age of 84. Praise God, it's never too late for God's grace to break even the hardest of hearts! 

2. Here is a powerful post from a survivor of the Colorado movie theater massacre. The title? So you still think God is merciful?

3. Here's a segment of the Olympic's opening games you did NOT see. Be sure to click on the link to the BBC video of this moving memorial. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

To the Beach with the Fam!

This week I will be enjoying some "down time" with my wife, kids and grandkids down at Bethany Beach, Delaware. Should be a great week (although with four preschoolers, three of whom are under the age of two, I am just hoping we all get enough sleep ... my guess is that it will be more than the kids taking afternoon siestas!).

Family is important to me. This is why my wife and I make this investment in our family. We want to strengthen the bond that exists among us. Spending a week together under one roof and away from the normal demands of work and life help us to do just that.

Please pray for me and my family this week.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


This past Wednesday, 8 women badminton players were kicked out of the Olympic games ... and it was not for doping (although what they did could qualify them as dopes!). Two Korean pairs and a pair from China and Indonesia all tried to LOSE their matches (and given that these pairs were playing each other ... it was tough to do so!). Why would Olympic athletes try to lose? All four teams were looking ahead. All figured that by losing they would receive a better draw for the next round and therefore an easier opponent. So ... in their minds, losing seemed the path to take toward their ultimate goal of winning! Unfortunately for them it was the wrong path to take!

How many of us are guilty of the same thing? When faced with a choice of two (or more) paths, we take the wrong one. There are many reasons for this ... but by far the number one reason is that we ignore God's Word. Given that the Bible is "a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," when we are deficient in our knowledge of Scripture and what it teaches we are setting ourselves up to stumble in the darkness and head down the wrong paths that life offers us.

So let me ask you some questions. How often do you open your Bible? When you do, what are your reading? Do you have a plan for Bible intake? Are you seeking to put into practice (Matthew 7:24-27) what you learn from God's Word?

I encourage you to set some time aside and read through Psalm 119. Note the writer's attitude toward God's Word. Ask God to give you the same passion for Scripture.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

P.S. - I am using M'Cheyne's Bible reading plan for this year. I have found it to be a real blessing!

Thursday A La Carte

Here is this week's offerings . . .

1. With all the flack in the news recently about Chick-fil-A's founder and president and his comments about traditional family ... this is a must read: Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus. 

2. Another amazing prayer by Scotty Smith ... I am going to pray this prayer for myself and both my families (immediate and church) for the next week!

3. Here's a great devotional based on the apostle Paul's words, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (see Philippians 1:21-24).

4. Here is a great resource from the Evidence Bible. If you are serious about sharing your faith, you will want to bookmark this page (from the Way of the Master web site).

5. Finally ... on a lighter note ... 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

How Young Is too Young for a Cell Phone?

A recent study reveals that nearly 6 out of 10 parents of tweeners (children between the ages of 8 and 12) said that their child has a cell phone. I don't know about you ... but that figure surprised me. Not that there are children of that age who have cell phones (I have seen them), but that almost 60% of children in this age group do (if, indeed, the survey is accurate).  Now what concerns me about this is that these children are not mature enough to understand the downside of technology. But then again, I would guess there are a lot of parents out there who do not understand this downside either. And there is a downside ... and it might surprise you.

Tim Challies is one of my favorite bloggers. He released a book in 2011 that addresses this area of technology and its impact on our lives. Below is a video that introduces his book, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Definitely a must read for all of us who want to keep our sanity in this fast-paced digital world!

 Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

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