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Showing posts from January, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

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Here are this week's a la carte offerings.

1. Pastor Don Shoemaker, chair of our fellowship's (Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches) social concerns team, writes about the abortion situation as he sees it today. 

2. John Piper, in a letter to his congregation, offers up 13 reasons why Christians don't have to be afraid. 

3. Ed Welch gives one of the best explanations of Matthew 11:28-30 that I have ever read. Check out, "Whose Yoke Are You Under?" 

4. Kathleen Nielson wrote the following about grief shortly after the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT last month. It's worth the read!

5. On a lighter note . . . (Tim Hawkins on the things you don't say to your wife!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Got Bible Right!

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Yesterday I wrote about the need for a daily time in the Bible, using a quote from John MacArthur to drive the point home (also see Psalm 1:1-6, John 17:17 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17  for further encouragement to get into the Word DAILY!).

Today, I want to give some tips on how you can be sure you are "getting it right" (2 Timothy 2:15) when it comes to your understanding of what the Bible is actually saying.

1).  Take the LITERAL approach. Do not look for hidden spiritual meanings as you read and study the Bible. The whole purpose for this book is REVELATION. Therefore, God is not going to play hide and seek with us in the Bible. He wants to reveal truth to us - not conceal it!

2).  Remember, the best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself. How so?Because the Bible ultimately has ONE author, it makes sense that what God says in one place will agree, and often clarify, what he says in another passage. So as you seek to understand the Bible, one of the best things you can do …

Got Bible?

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A number of years ago, the Dairy Association ran an ad campaign with the slogan, "Got Milk?". Here is one brief video of a commercial from that campaign:




If I were to start a similar ad campaign in the church today ... I would title it "Got Bible?" So many Christians fail at spending much, if any, personal time in God's Word every day. This is tragic!

Author and pastor John MacArthur explains why this is such a tragedy:

The rapid pace of twenty-first-century living is not very conducive to setting aside time to slow down, read the Bible, and pray and mediate on God’s Word. Yet such activity ought to be the daily priority of every Christian—it is the primary way God leads us in our sanctification. Just as physical nourishment is essential to physical life, so spiritual nourishment is essential to spiritual life—your growth in Christ depends on it.  (MacArthur, John F. Daily Readings From the Life of Christ, Volume 2)
I agree with MacArthur on this. SO ... how abo…

Some Random Thoughts on Parenting

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From time to time I grow a bit reflective. In those moments, I often think about parenting.  Now I admit I have not been a parent as long as some – but I have been at it longer than many (almost 34 years!).  Sharon and I have been blessed to parent three of our own (and now we have five grandkids with another on the way!). And for a little over a year (some 33 years ago) we also had the chance to parent a group of nine who were not our own. So I guess you can say we’ve had some experience.

Now just what have I learned about parenting across the years? Hmm.  That’s a good question.  I think I have learned a lot.  I learned that my own mom and dad were a lot smarter than I ever gave them credit for.  I learned that parenting is a lot more demanding than I ever dreamed.  I learned that the joys of parenting far outstrip the heartaches.  And I have learned that parenting never ends.  It changes – but it does go on and on and on.  Sharon and I like the stage of parenting in which we find…

Thursday A La Carte

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Somewhat busy this week ... so here is an abbreviated a la carte offering ... enjoy!

1. Tim Challies writes on the reality that Facebook makes us miserable. 
2. R.C. Sproul weighs on whether Christians should or should not boycott companies that support unbiblical practices.  
3. A thought-provoking and brief article for parents who struggle with how much technology is too much in our digital age. 
4. On the lighter side . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

It's All Relative ... Or Is It?

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Here we are ... moving toward the end of January and mired in a good old fashioned cold snap. Our temperature this morning just before sunup was 9 degrees (F.). Even now at midday, we have yet to crack into the twenties! Now ... there are some up in Minnesota who would probably scoff at these temps being considered "cold." For example, at International Falls, MN it is currently -9 degrees (F.) after bottoming out at -30 degrees overnight. But even these temperatures fail to compete with the conditions at the summit of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington where right now it is a frigid -30 degrees. Add the 53 mph winds and the wind chill is a down right frightening 75 degrees BELOW ZERO! Now that ... without argument is COLD!

So ... when I say it's cold here ... compared to what's happening elsewhere .. it might not be very cold at all to someone else (especially if that "someone else" lives in south Florida, where a temperature below fifty is considered &quo…

You Can Run but You Can't Hide!

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Megan Lee Musser recently learned that "you can run, but you can't hide." Last July Musser was charged by police with stealing over $20,000 from the housing authority for which she worked. She appeared for her arraignment and then disappeared. For the past six months, authorities have been looking for her. This past weekend she was arrested by U.S. Marshals at her home in New York. She is awaiting extradition to Lancaster County.

What Musser did is not all that unusual. Frequently the media reports on people who steal from their employers. In addition, accounts of people jumping bail and eluding law enforcement authorities are also not all that uncommon. Sometimes these individuals manage to seemingly disappear into thin air. But often, as in the case of Musser, they are eventually found.

With God, this is ALWAYS the case. We can run ... we can hide ... we can flee to the most remote spot on the planet. But even there, God will see us (Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3).  S…

What Do You Say When You Encounter Someone Who's Hurting?

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We've all had the experience. We are sitting in church waiting for the service to start and we notice the woman next to us is quietly crying. You sit there paralyzed, not knowing what to do . . . what to say. Or you are walking in the office door and you encounter a co-worker who has been off for a couple of weeks. He lost his young daughter in a tragic car accident. You want to say something ... but what?

I could go on with additional examples ... but if your experience is any thing like mine ... you know exactly what I am talking about. All too often when faced with human pain and grief, we do little if anything. Not because we do not care. But rather because we don't want to do or say the wrong thing. None of us want to add to anyone's pain. And so we choose to do/say nothing.

Of course ... this is quite the wrong thing to do (or not do!). Scripture is clear that we are to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2) and "encourage the fainthearted&q…

Thursday A La Carte

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Here are this week's offerings. Enjoy! Be challenged! Be encouraged!

1. Ever been accused of worshiping the Bible? Tim Challies has some great insights on this! 

2. If you struggle with meeting God in his word and prayer, here are five promises God gives us for our Bible reading and prayer and John Piper states, You can never ask too much from God (from Desiring God Ministries).

3. Louie Giglio, mega church pastor from Atlanta, made the news last week when it came to light that he had preached some anti-homosexual messages back in the 1990's.  Why did this make the news? Because he had been selected to offer the benediction at next week's presidential inaugaration. You can just imagine how the gay activists went after him! Here is a collection of articles about the situation

4. Here's a moving music video by Andrew Peterson ... worth a watch and listen! (especially for dads of young sons!).

5. On a lighter note. . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Step #5 toward Failure in the Christian Life

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We finally come to the fifth and final step that will surely guarantee your failure at this thing we call the Christian Life (please go back and read the intro to the first step).

Step #5 Be accountable to NO ONE for ANYTHING! 

One truth that is quite clear in the Bible (especially the New Testament) is that Christianity was never meant to be lived in isolation (Proverbs 27:6; 17; Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25). Over and over again the NT mandates that Christians do this or that for "one another!" Christians are to be involved in one another's lives for encouragement and accountability. For without these, a Christian will only flounder in his faith.

Therefore, stay away from involvement in any kind of small group. And if someone ever approaches you about becoming his or her "accountability partner," run the other way just as fast as you can! Seek to be a loner as much as you can. Avoid anything that smacks of "community!" The last thing you want i…

Five Steps toward Failure (part 4)

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It's been a bit busy for me of late ... so I apologize in getting a bit behind the proverbial eight ball in getting back to this fourth step toward failure (to understand why I am writing on this ... go back and check the intro to the first step - otherwise you might think I have really gone crazy!).

Step #4 - Adopt the verse, "God helps those who help themselves" as your life verse. 

If failure in the Christian life is truly your aim, then take this verse (which is not really in the Bible ... but it is a truism so go ahead and strive to live by it!) and run with it. Do all you can to better yourself ... knowing as you do God will help you in the process. And when you see people struggling around you ... tell them to suck it up and get moving IF they want God's help. But don't you dare reach out a helping hand. For the Christian life is one of serving, yes?!!?

Jesus himself set the standard when he said he did not come to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). And …

Thursday A La Carte

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Time to get back to our Thursday offerings . . .

1. Here is an update from Randy Alcorn on Steve Saint, who was seriously injured last summer. Steve Saint's father was one of the missionaries murdered by the tribe of Indians they were trying to reach with the gospel.

2.  Ever wonder how UPS moves the massive number of packages it moves with such efficiency ... check it out right here! (I thought this was cool!)

3. Should we keep on praying when we feel that our prayers are going no where?  Here is one man's response to this question . . . Why keep praying when I'm feeling dull? 

4. Is the pro-life cause really winning? Russel Moore gives some good insights in answering this question.

5. Here are some great reminders for Christian parents! 

6. On a lighter note . . .  Thanks, Kevin DeYoung!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Crisis in the Central African Republic

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The crisis is still unfolding in the CAR with peace talks beginning at some point this week (click here ---- and here for latest news updates). And for the latest update from Dr. Augustin Hibaile, click here. 

Please be in prayer for Dr. Hibaile and his family, our Hand-in-Hand Orphan school in Bangui and the people of the CAR. Pray that the gospel will shine brightly during these dark days.

Thanks for praying . . .

And thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


PS --- Here is an article from the Economist that paints a very bleak picture of the future for the CAR. At the end of the article, there is this quote:"In its recently published quality-of-life survey of 221 of the world’s major cities, Mercer, an American consultancy, ranked Bangui 220th, a whisker ahead of Baghdad. The CAR looks set to rot away on its own." Ouch! A bad situation looking to only get worse!

Five Steps to Failure (part 3)

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I have been tackling an issue in such a way that may cause some of you to wonder if I have finally buckled under the stress of life and gone of the deep end. Well ... no. I am quite sane and there is, I believe, some method to my "madness!"  Today, step three toward failure in the Christian Life.

Step #3  Pour your energies into making money versus those activities that help make disciples. 

This step should come as no surprise. After all, what was the very last command given by Jesus to his disciples? We find it in Matthew 28 where Jesus tells them to "Go and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:18-20). So if we really want to fail at the Christian walk, then we surely do not want to take the last command of the Lord Jesus Christ and make it our first concern!  So instead of getting into step with the heart beat of Christ, let's pour ourselves into the spirit of our age and go hard after making money and lots of it! Making money, after all, is much m…

Five Steps to Failure (part 2)

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Today a quick look at the second step you need to take as you choose to walk down the path of spiritual failure (please read step 1 post before reading further).

If you want to fail at this thing called the Christian life ... then in addition to diminishing the Bible's importance in your life you must also:

Step #2  Throw spiritual discipline out the window!

The Apostle Paul makes it quite clear if you want to grow in godliness, you must learn to practice discipline. Here is how he puts it: "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come"  (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

The English word, "train" is a translation of the Greek word, "gymnao." If this word sounds a little familiar, it should. Our English words "gymnasium" and "gymnastics" are derived from this…

Five Steps to Failure in the Christian Life

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Across the course of the past 40 years, I have spent a lot of time with Christians, people of all ages from all walks of life who profess an allegiance to Jesus Christ. Much of this time has been spent in training, discipling, mentoring, teaching, and counseling them. As a result of all this time investment, I have become convinced that many Christians are out to fail. Why do I say this? As I have observed the lives of those who claim to be Christ-followers, I have seen them take the steps necessary to fail at what they profess to be! Therefore, I must conclude that they must desire to fail. Why would anyone seem to intentionally follow the path of failure if it something they do not desire? With this in mind, beginning with today's post, I want to detail what I consider to be FIVE STEPS TO FAILURE in the Christian life. So ... if you are one of those whom I talked about above and want to fail, then read on and be sure that you understand and then put into practice these five ess…

Relationships that Honor God and Enrich Life!

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Twice before on this blog (2006 and 2011) I have offered up the thoughts below. I do so again at the start of this new year in the hopes that as you understand this very basic yet very powerful principle about relationships (and then, of course, "put it into practice!"), you will enjoy relationships that will honor the One who gave up his life for you (and bring much blessing to you in the process!).


If we are to have relationships that honor God and enrich our lives, then we must have the right focus - and far too many of us don't! So what is the right focus when it comes to relationships? God answers this question (I never get over just how relevant the Bible is for day-to-day living!). In Philippians 2:3-4, we read, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also for the interests of others." In Romans 12:10 the Apostle Paul commands…

Update on Crisis in Central African Republic

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According to this latest news report from Retuers, it does appear that a genuine attempt at arriving at a political solution is in the works. Please continue to pray for peace for that impoverished land. Also, please continue to pray for my dear friend and his family, Dr. Augustine Hibaile (please click here for his latest email update).

Thanks for praying!
pj

A Prayer for your New Year

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Scotty Smith knows how to pray (I am guessing because he knows his God!). This morning as I read through this prayer and made it my own, I realized I needed to share it with you. Please take some time and carefully read through this prayer and, as I did today, make it YOUR prayer for the upcoming new year.



To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24– 25 NIV)


Heavenly Father, while many clamor about and try to “claim” more blessings from you, may this be a year in which we come alive to the multiplied blessings you’ve already lavished upon us in the gospel. Already you have rescued us from the dominion of darkness and have placed us in the kingdom of your beloved Son, Jesus (Col. 1: 13). Already you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (…