In the End . . .

Sharon and I watched a movie this week about a group of British pensioners who decided, independently of one another, to retire in India. Now having been to India three times, I always enjoy watching movies filmed in India. It brings back a lot of ... mostly good ... memories!

In this particular film, one of the main characters (the Indian owner of the hotel where these pensioners go to live), quotes the following old Indian saying ..."It will be all right in the end, and if it is not all right then it's not the end."  After the movie was over, my wife discussed it (as we typically do). I pointed out to her that, for the follower of Jesus, that old Indian saying is right on! It's true! And after spending several months studying the book of Revelation, I believe it more firmly than ever. That in "the end" for me and anyone else who chooses Christ over this world, it will be "all right!"  Now ... right now ... things are often NOT "all right." And this should not in any way surprise us nor discourage us! Jesus himself cautioned us that in this world we would face difficulty. But even in those tough times, Jesus told us to take courage ... for he had overcome the world (John 16:33). This was His way of saying, "in the end, it will be all right!"

How about you? Have you chosen to follow Jesus? Then don't sweat this life for IN THE END IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT .... AND IF IT IS NOT ALL RIGHT ... THEN IT IS NOT THE END! 

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PS - Need to explore the good news about Jesus Christ? Click here for THE TWO WAYS TO LIVE: THE CHOICE WE ALL FACE! 

Thursday A La Carte

Enjoy this week's offerings:

1. Ed Welch on God (and us) Pursuing the Shamed. A good read! 

2. Are you a busy mom? You might want to read this! 

3. If you are a parent ... you would benefit from these thoughts from David Murray on Presumptuous or Optimistic Parenting? 

4. I am sure you have heard that there is no difference between the divorce rate inside the church from the world at large. But is this truly the case? Check out this post from the Gospel Coalition. 

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To Obey or Disobey ... That Is the Question!

Ever since Eve took that fateful bite of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, humanity (and that means YOU and ME) have had a thing for disobedience. Given the choice to obey authority or rebel against it, our default setting is to do the former. Any one who has ever raised children (or even worked with preschoolers in any context) know that you don't have to train a child to disobey. That comes naturally. Rather, you have to spend a lot of time and effort (and pain and anguish) to help children understand the need to listen and obey.

In this morning's daily reading from the J.I. Packer Collection, Packer discusses the need (for our own good! See Deuteronomy 6:23-25) to obey God. As he points out, "the Bible displays God as one who commands and humans as required to practice obedience" (see Genesis 2:16-17; Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 29:29; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Mark 10:17-19; John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 5:3). He goes on to write the following:

"Little stress is laid these days, even in the church, let alone in our supposedly Christian culture, on the reality and authority of God's commands. But the fundamental dimension of being Christian people guided by God is that we labor to learn his commandments as he has revealed them and to live by them in faithful obedience just as consistently as we possibly can. When, one day, we have to give an account of ourselves to God, it will be important for us to be able to say with truth that we sought to keep all his commandments throughout our Christian lives." 

Right on J.I.! Let's passionately purse the keeping of God's commands ... all by HIS grace and for HIS glory!

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It's No Generic Name for Us!

Last week a friend passed this advertisement from our local newspaper on to me. He thought it was quite funny that my name was being used in such a generic ad (a clergy appreciation ad none the less!). I laughed when he gave it to me. After 50+ years of bearing my generic name ... I have heard it all! At least no one ever has asked me to spell my name!

But we who choose to follow Jesus Christ bear a name that is anything but generic! We bear HIS name. And what does the Bible say about HIS name?  "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11; see also Ephesians 1:20-22). What a privilege to bear HIS name!  Let's be sure we bear it with courage, integrity and compassion! 

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A Prayer for Your Sunday

O God, Designer and Creator of all,
Who am I, that You think of me?
Who am I, that You sent your
One and only Son to die for me?        

God, your grace and mercy is beyond amazing!          
Help me, today and EVERY day
To always remember just how far down
You had to reach to rescue me.

And as I continue my journey on earth,
Help me to resist the agenda of the night,
Embrace the agenda of the day,
And carry the light of the day into
The darkness that surrounds me.


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Calvary Love!

Here is an artistic take on a bit of poetry from pastor and author, John Piper. Take a moment and allow your  soul to drink this in. Wow! And he did this for us!

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Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's a la carte offerings ... Enjoy!

1. I really appreciate hearing from people that they are praying for me. If you would like to pray for me (or for your pastor), here are some excellent thoughts on how you could pray in a way that will result in God being honored and His kingdom being advanced!

2. One of the most influential books written for women in the past decade is the John and Staci Eldridge book, Captivating. I have read portions of the book and found what I read to be lacking for biblical support. Here is a very well written review of the book (written by a woman) that points out the book's most glaring error.

3. Here is the trailer for Steven Spielberg's new film, Lincoln,due to hit the screen in November. As huge history buffs, my wife will definitely be seeing this (Note: My wife's nephew plays the role of a Confederate soldier ... even if it is a dead Confederate soldier! I wonder if we will even be able to pick him out!).

4. R.C. Sproul weighs in on the question, Are We Too Concerned about Demons? 

5. On a lighter note . . . 

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So ... Who Made You?

The intensity of the debate concerning the origins of humanity and the universe rises and falls. Right now it appears that the discussion has quieted down ... at least in my small corner of the world. But that could (and undoubtedly will) change tomorrow, or next week, or next month.

This week a friend passed on a book to me. It's title grabbed my attention: A Closer Look at the Evidence.The book offers up what it claims to be "incredible evidence for the existence of our Creator." It does so in a very easy-to-read format. Each day of the year, a brief reading is given which highlights a certain nugget of evidence for creationism. I spent a bit of time looking over the book and must say, I was impressed with what I read. Here is a brief excerpt from June 7th's reading which is under the heading, "Common Sense." 

"Evolutionists say that human beings, "evolved" from simple cells entirely by random-chance processes. Man's understanding and use of technology (tool-making, electronics, aeronautics, and the principles of science)are also said to be "evolving." 

When the word "evolving" is used with technology, it means improvements that are planned, carefully worked out, and implemented using intelligent guidance. When the word "evolution" is used in biology, however, it shifts meaning in order to deny any planned or intelligent design. Common sense shows that life simply does not form or advance in this way. In reality, it is deceiving to use the same word to mean something which is perfectly logical and then, with no warning or disclaimer, shift the meaning to support something based on faith that actually contradicts the observations" (emphasis from text).

The reading offers up Proverbs 14:7-8 as the Scripture for that day's reading. Seems appropriate to me!

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Monday, Monday!

Here's one of the hit songs I used to listen to as a tweenager, Monday, Monday by the Mamas and the Papas (check out Mama Cass' boots!). The group released the song in 1966 and it proved to be their only #1 hit.

I can relate to the opening line of the song, "Monday, Monday .... So good to me!" That is certainly how I feel about Mondays!  As much as I enjoy Sunday's (my favorite day of the week!), Monday is a welcome arrival. I am usually ready for a day of rest (which, for me, Sunday is NOT!). So in addition to doing a few chores around the house and maybe running a couple of errands ... I am sure to get some quiet time with God AND some quality time with my wife.

Yesterday my wife and I drove down to Sandy Cove Ministries. We took our own chairs and set up shop overlooking the bay. It was quiet around the cove and the weather was superb!  It was everything my wife and I hoped it would be.

All of us need to do this from time to time (Mark 6:31) ... to unplug from our digital world and get apart (lest we fall apart as a 20th century preacher liked to quip!). I hope you are marking the effort to unplug!

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Thurday's A La Carte

Here are this week's a la carte offerings . . .

1. With Mormonism being in the news lately (due to Mitch Romney's Mormon faith), here is a great article on how to engage Mormons. 

2. In light of our Sunday morning study of the book of Revelation, I thought these insights from Randy Alcorn on tying current events with prophetic claims is timely.

3. Tim Challies weighs in on the discussion on the "right" age at which to baptize children. 

4. Ed Welch on when it feels like God has pulled out the rug from beneath us.

5. Should we ... as we share the gospel ... really do our best to "keep it simple?" Randy Newman thinks keeping it complicated is the better way to go! 

6. And finally ... on a lighter note ... 

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A Prayer for Your Midweek

As I was praying through and meditating upon one of the prayers from the book, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, I was really struck by the first section of the prayer. The opening words of Hebrews chapter 12 talks about the race God has set before us. He wants us to run this race with perseverance (i.e. - to keep on running even when the terrain gets rough or we feel that growing pain in our sides). The key to doing this is to keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). The prayer I read today .... helps, I believe, us to do just this. I encourage you to take a moment and make this prayer of yesteryear ... your prayer for today.

Thou God of all grace, 
Thou has given me a Saviour, 
Produce in me a faith to live by him, 
To make him all my desire, all my hope, all my glory. 

May I enter him as my refuge, 
     build on him as my foundation, 
     walk in him as my way, 
     follow him as my guide, 
     conform to him as my example, 
     receive his instructions as my prophet, 
     rely on his intercession as my high priest, 
     obey him as my king.

And whatsoever I do today, 
May it be done in the Saviour's name. 


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Digging that Yields Treasure!

Peter Kirk takes the old saying that "someone's trash is someone else's treasure" - just a bit further than I am guessing most of us would. Pete spends a good bit of his time in digging through Lancaster city's old outhouses. In doing so, he has found quite the array of unusual items. Now if you think that's a pretty disgusting hobby, I would agree. But, according to Kirk, it's really not that bad: "It's 100 years old. Everything has rotted away, so you're not playing in poo. It's a little gross, but once you make your first find, you forget about it."  A "little" gross? Maybe by his standards ... but certainly not by mine! (to read more about this man and the finds that people of yesteryear left "behind", you can read the article here on Lancasteronline). 

As I thought of this guy's determination to mine treasures from ... well .. you know ... I thought of my often lack of determination to mine treasures from God's Word. As a result, I don't dig into Scripture as I should. In failing to do this ... I hurt not only myself, but all those in my network of relationships. How so? If it is true that the Word of God will equip me for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then when I fail to dig into it and then put what I find into practice (Matthew 7:24-27), then I am not being equipped for every good work. And what does "every good work" entail? For me it would include my pastoral ministry, my roles as a husband, father and grandfather, my work of being a good friend and neighbor, my ministry as a police chaplain, etc., etc., etc.. 

Friends ... all of us could stand to follow Peter Kirk's example of determined digging. So join me in taking some time to take stock of how your digging into the Bible is coming along. If you need to make some changes ... do so. You and those around you will be better for it! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

We Are All Beggars!

The J.I. Packer Classic Collection is a delightful book that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to find some encouragement for their faith journey with Christ. Concerning this book, Jerry Bridges, bestselling author of such gems as Respectable Sins, The Pursuit of Holiness and Trusting God, writes, "I have been a fan of J.I. Packer and his writings for almost fifty years and have read most, if not all, of his books. Therefore, I am delighted to see the 'best of J.I. Packer' being made available in one volume."  And Eugene Peterson, translator for the popular Bible version, The Message, adds, "Always wise, always reverent, J. I. Packer's words can be depended on to provide accurate guidance to our responses to Jesus and Scripture. A truly classic theologian." This book is a great addition to anyone's library!

Today I read the following challenging words from Packer's pen:

"Martin Luther's last written words were 'We are all beggars. That is true.' Two days later he died. He was right, of course. If we think of ourselves as achievers, creators, reformers, innovators, movers and shakers, healers, educators, benefactors of society in any way at all, we are at the deepest level kidding ourselves. We have nothing and have never had anything that we have not received, nor have we done anything good apart from God who did ti through us. In ourselves we are destitute, bankrupt, and impotent, totally dependent on God in every respect. This is true, as Luther constantly insisted, with regard to the pardon of our sins and the justification of our person. And it is equally true of life, health, food, clothing, a job, a home, a family, a car, a bank balance in the black, and every other good thing that comes our way. So before God's throne we are all beggars, and begging good gifts from God is what petitionary prayer is all about." 

Wow! Right on Martin and J.I.! Now let's be sure to spend some time begging today!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Thursday A La Carte

Hey ... it's Thursday ... SO here are this week's a la carte offerings . . .

1. With the start of the NFL this week (that's National Football League for you non-football fans!) ... we should expect to be hearing about Tim Tebow. Tebow, though not the most gifted athlete in the NFL was certainly the most talked about athlete last season. This season finds him on a new team (NY Jets) and in a new role (backup quarterback). Here is an interesting article on Tim

2.  The Gospel in Seven Words is an interesting take on how to share the essence of the gospel message in a mere seven words. Worth a read.

3. If you have a college student in your life ... you might just want to take a moment to read, Ten Things I Wish They Told Me at College Orientation.

4. Texting. I find myself doing it more and more. But is that a good thing? Here is a CNN article that suggests that it probably isn't. (You might also want to check out this video by psychologist Sherry Turkle: Connected but Alone).

5. Here's a great description of the gospel from an Anglican church website (in that great city of Pittsburgh!).

6. On a lighter side . . . 

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I just got done reading about a group of best selling authors who engaged in ... well let's say ... a rather questionable activity. In an order to boost the sale of their own books, they would register on a site such as Amazon under a pseudonym. Then they would proceed to write glowing reviews of their own works while offering harsh criticism of the books of their rivals (If you want to read more about this, click here).

This, of course, is an obvious lack of integrity. But it does not really surprise me. For integrity is a rapidly diminishing virtue in our world today. But for those of us who follow Jesus, we must buck this trend. We must strive (by God's grace) to be men and women whose walk matches their talk. People who are honest and authentic. Not perfect, of course ... but consistent! And when we make integrity a goal of our lives, God promises blessing (Proverbs 10:9, 11:3, 20:7, 28:6).

How about you? Are you seeking to be a man or woman of integrity? I hope you are. Our world could use a bigger dose of it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Some Thoughts this Labor Day Weekend

As I reflected on the fact that today is the first day of our Labor Day weekend, a couple of thoughts ran through my mind.

1. Hmm. Labor Day is the "official" end of summer (I guess vs. the calendar end of summer which this year falls on September 21st). Where did the summer go? It seems like yesterday I was cooking out on Memorial Day and learning my lines for our June Vacation Bible School. Time flies. So we must learn to make our days count (see Psalm 90:12 and Ephesians 5:15-16) for Christ and HIS kingdom!

2. Hmm. How many people who get a paid day off to celebrate the Labor Day holiday even know what the holiday is all about?  Babies maybe? After all, what women go through to birth a child is certainly worthy of a holiday! Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, being established to commemorate the accomplishments of the American worker (for more background, click here). Since this is the case, allow me to suggest you take some time to reflect on your job. Are you thankful for it? Do you work for the glory of God? Do you pray for those who are out of work?  Always remember that there are many on this planet that are far worse off than you! So let's be sure to remember to give generously to the work of God ... and to those in need (see Ephesians 4:28).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

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