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Showing posts from October, 2012

Hello Sandy!

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Today Lancaster County, along with much of the East Coast is shut down. Even as I type these words, the sounds of rain tapping on my windows and the winds howling as they blow through my back yard remind me that Sandy is no average woman. In fact, she's no woman at all! Hurricane (or is it Frankenstorm?) Sandy is still churning about 150 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ. It is projected to make landfall about 8 PM this evening .... and from there make a bee line for southern PA. Yahoo!  But with all the rain and wind that it is bringing ... it is effectively shutting down life as we know it ... malls, schools, businesses, airports ... and the list goes on and on. And as Sandy continues her march westward, we all hold our breath .... will the power stay on? Will my roof stay on?  Time will tell. Tomorrow I am scheduled to catch a flight out of Harrisburg to head to Indiana for several days. Hmm. Maybe ... maybe not!

All I can say ... is that I am glad that my God is a rock…

Thursday's Offerings

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Here are this week's offerings of a little bit of this and a little of that . . .

1. With the big election less than two weeks away . . .here is a summary of an excellent sermon by Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church on the the Christian's responsibility to government.

2. Ever get to the point where you find yourself mired in the pit of discontentment? You know you should be content ... but you just don't know how to get there. Here is an insightful and helpful post on the topic.

3. We just celebrated children this past Sunday at Grace. Why? Well if children mattered to Jesus, then they had better matter to us (see Mark 10:13-15)! Thinking of children reminded me of this brief devo from Chuck Swindoll, Everybody "Act Medium." 

4. Hmm. Ever wish you had that voice of the soloist who just rocked the room with her song? Or perhaps the skill of the IT guy who knows how to fix every single computer problem this world has ever seen? But if you don't have the…

Making Wise Decisions

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All of us must make decisions every day. Some are small, almost insignificant (hmm .. which pair of socks should I wear today ... how about these hot pink ones?  Nah! Not my color!). Others are much (and sometimes MUCH) larger and significant (uh, which health plan should I choose at work?). So when it comes to making the right call, does the Bible give any insight?

The book of Proverbs (the Old Testament book of wisdom) offers us the following three strategies when it comes to making wise decisions:

1. Fear God. Proverbs 9:10 and Proverbs 15:33 make it clear that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. To fear God means to respect and honor him ... acknowledging the place he has as sovereign ruler over us and our world. This makes a lot of sense. If our relationship with God is out of whack, then how will we ever be able to make consistently "wise" decisions? It just won't happen. After all, it is HIS world in which we live and work and play ... AND make decisi…

Enjoying the Rail Trail

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Yesterday was one of those gorgeous late October days that you dream of ... sunny and mild with the trees arrayed in their full autumn wardrobe of reds, oranges and yellows. Since Monday is my day off, my wife and I decided we had to spend at least a portion of the day OUTSIDE. So we chose to check out a rail-trail at the other end of the county. We had heard some real good things about this particular rail trail (the Conewago Recreation Trail). We were NOT disappointed. We spent about 2 hours and walked over four miles and enjoyed every step!

One of the most striking things about the trail is just how straight and level it is (no surprise, given that the trail follows the raised bed of what once held railroad tracks). It brought to mind these words from the Old Testament book of wisdom: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). So as we go through li…

The "Nevers" of the Gospel

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During a morning time of prayer today, I was using one of my favorite devotional helps, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Praying through one of the prayers, I was struck by the following lines:

O LORD, May I  never confine my religion to extraordinary occasions,         but acknowledge thee in all my ways;  never limit my devotions to particular seasons        but be in they fear all the day long;  never be godly only on the Sabbath or in thy house,        but on every day abroad and at home;  never make piety a dress but a habit,         not only a habit but a nature,        not only a nature but a life. 
Amen. 
Wow! Now there is a prayer I really need to be praying. Not just today -- but everyday! Take a moment and make this prayer your own. I suspect like me ... you need to do so, too! 
Thanks for stopping by . . .  pj

Thursday A La Carte

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

1. Denny Burke makes a strong case on why abortion is the most important issue in the upcoming election.

2. And while on the topic of the upcoming election, John Piper shares why he plans to vote. 

3. Ever wonder what the "blind spots" are for the church in America? Here's a very brief but very insightful response to the question, "What are the some of the blind spots for the American church when it comes to transformation?" 

4. J.C. Ryle writes about Seven Marks of a Right Heart ... good stuff!

5. Here's a practical, relevant and downright convicting post ... Have you ever told God you are all in? 

6.And on a lighter note . . . 


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

A Big Time Dive!

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If you have paid any attention to the news media in the past couple of days, you may have heard the name, Felix Baumgartner. Baumgartner  set an all-time record this past Sunday for the highest sky dive ever done. The Austrian skydiver's jump from over 128,000 feet (that's just over 24 miles!) broke the old record, set in 1960 by a whopping 25000+ feet (over 4 miles!). His peak speed during his free fall of 833.9 mph broke the sound barrier. In doing so, he became the first human being to do so without the use of any type of craft. Just what was going through his mind as we was falling toward earth?

“The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. …

STRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Life can be somewhat stressful at times ... yes?  YES!!!!!!!!! Encountering stress is not an "if" it is most definitely a "when." For life in this fast-paced, broken world often immerses us in situations and events that cause our hearts to throb and our heads to pound. Anxiety and fear raise their ugly heads within us and get an iron-like grip on our souls.

So ... what should we do when we begin to feel overwhelmed by stress?  We need to follow the example of King David ... who in his lifetime faced much stress. In Psalm 131:2 he writes, "But I have calmed and quieted my soul . . ."

Now that sounds like it's easier said than done! So how can we calm and quiet our souls when our world is churning around us? In the 1700's a woman by the name of Katarina von Schlegel wrote what has become one of the favorite hymns of the Church. We don't know much about this German believer, but we do know from the words of this hymn that she was a woman who kne…

So What's with "Amen?"

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I was not raised in a "churched" family. That means we did not attend church (although for a brief time my twin brother and I were sent off to Sunday School at a nearby Lutheran church). God was present in our home but only in a nominal sense. So I was taught a few "stock" prayers as a child. At supper it was "God is great and God is good,  and we thank Him for our food; by His hands we all are fed, Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen." And then there was the bedtime prayer: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy and Daddy, Grandma and Gramps, Inky and Tipsy (my dog and cat) -- although as I reflect back I don't think I ever prayed for my cat!), etc. .... Amen."  Now as a youngster, I really did not understand all that I was praying (especially with that bedtime prayer ... I mean what little kid thinks about dying and having the Lord take h…

Thursday A La Carte

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Here are this week's offerings with a hope that you will be inspired, encouraged, stretched in your journey of faith!

1. Did you ever wonder what the teaching known as "The Prosperity Gospel" does to the true biblical gospel? Here's a short but insightful answer. 

2. Here's a thought provoking article from the gospel coalition site on why we should still sing hymns in our worship services today.

3. Here is a video that reveals what an astronaut sees at night while orbiting the earth. I found this fascinating!

4.  All of us have friends who are struggling in their marriages. So ... what can you do? Here is a helpful article from Focus on the Family listing ten ways to help such a couple.

5.  Are you a "radical," "passionate," "edgy" Christian? Hmm. Here's an interesting article from David Powlison discussing the need for a moderate makeover (vs. an extreme one).

6.  And on a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Pursuing Holiness

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Personal holiness. Now there are two words that we don't hear all that much about in the Church of today. And that is unfortunate .... VERY unfortunate. Perhaps it is why the Church today in America is miles and miles wide and inches (at best) deep! 

You see, personal holiness should be an urgent priority of Christians. The Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian believers to bring holiness in their lives to completion (2 Corinthians 7:1) and the writer of the book of Hebrews encouraged his readers to strive for holiness for without it they would not see God (Hebrews 12:14). 

Given the importance of personal holiness, here is an excerpt for Kevin DeYoung's excellent new book, The Hole in our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. But a word of caution ... what he says here might be convicting to your soul!


"Christians often equate holiness with activism and spiritual disciplines. And while it’s true that activism is often the outgrowth of ho…

Back with a Thought from Vacation

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Hard to believe that last week during our Ocean City, MD vacation I was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. Had never done that at OCMD in October before! Had not planned on going into the water. Did not even bother to pack my swim trunks. Yet as we sat there on the beach, basking (or was it baking?) in the warm early autumn sun, the ocean was calling my name! So I just had to jump in! And since I wanted to towel off afterwards so that I was not soaking wet when we climbed into the car, I ran up to the boardwalk to buy the cheapest towel I could find. I came back with a yellow and pink flowered rag of some sort (which normally I would never have thought of buying!) - but for my purposes it filled the bill! And since the air was warm and the water temps comfortable - I immensely enjoyed my time of being tossed by the waves.

But there are other times in life (many, in fact) that I do NOT enjoy being tossed by the waves of life. If you are anything like me, I am sure you would much prefer t…

UNPLUGGED!

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This morning I am starting a week's vacation ... which means I will not be posting to my blog this week. In fact, I am going to attempt the unthinkable in this digital age ... and that is to do my best to unplug (for the most part) from all my TDDs (Technology Driven Devices). Therefore, no posts until I "get back in the saddle" next week.

Until then ... ."The Lordbless you and keep you (and yours), theLordmake his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give your peace" (Numbers 6:23-24).

26 Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj