PJ

PJ

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings . . .

1. The most offensive verse in the Bible? Consider this take by Dan Philips.

2. And to think the sun (as a star) is the "work of his fingers" (Psalm 8:3). Check out this amazing NASA video of a fiery looping rain on the sun! 

3. Tim Tebow was at the center of controversy for agreeing to speak at a baptist church that was on record as stating homosexual behavior is sinful. Tebow eventually withdrew. So, what are we to make of this? Here are two takes on the matter ... one from Al Mohler the other from Kevin DeYoung.

4. Ed Welch on what it means to give thanks in all circumstances ... and why it is a good thing to do so!

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grace Beyond the Cross!

This morning as I was reading a new book by Paul David Tripp (Dangerous Calling) I ran across the following insightful comment concerning biblical maturity. Take a moment to read it and "chew" on it.

"Biblical maturity is never just about what you know; it's always about how grace has employed what you have come to know to transform the way you live." 

Tripp is right on with these comments. Grace does not end with the cross. It's not, "I am saved by grace" ... "I am sanctified by works." No! We are dependent upon grace for all of our faith journey through life! Jerry Bridges, in his book, Transforming Grace, writes,

"Grace doesn't first rescue us from the penalty of our sins, furnish us with some new spiritual abilities, then leave us on our own to grow in spiritual maturity. Rather, as Paul said, "He who began a good work in you [by His grace] will [also by His grace] carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Amen! God. Thank YOU for never letting up on the flow of your amazing grace!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

PS ... This does not mean that we are not required to work at all when it comes to our spiritual growth. Paul wrote to Timothy, "train yourself for godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7-8 -- see also 2 Peter 1:5-11). 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Project Done - and Another in Progress!

My wife would tell you that when it comes to "handyman" projects around the house, I fail miserably. And I would not argue (and for many of you who know me, you are probably just smiling right about now!).

This past weekend ... I took on a MAJOR house project (please understand that the word "major" as I have just used it is relative ... for others the project I completed would be nothing more than a minor chore). SO ... you are probably wondering just what this MAJOR project was. Yes?  Sharon and I went out and bought four new sets of shades for our bedroom windows. That meant I had to take down the old ones (including the brackets that supported them) before I could install the new ones. A task that probably would have taken even an average "handyman" an hour at most ... took me at least twice that. Then, of course, I had to put up new curtains. I will say I was able to do that in a much more timely fashion. And ahh ... does it feel good to have that project in my rear view mirror!

There's another project that I will be glad to have in life's rear view mirror one day. I am thinking of me! The Bible makes it clear that I am God's "workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). And God is not yet finished working on me ... I am still "a work in progress" (Philippians 1:6). What's true of me ... is also true of you if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. Isn't it a comfort to know that God's not done with us yet! I "blow it" all-too-often when it comes to living out God's word in my life (and I am guessing you do, too!). So I am glad to know that God is still at work in me ... and there will come a day when his work is done ... and I will be presented before him without fault (Jude 1:24). Until then ... I am so glad God continues to pour out his grace upon me. I just hope I learn to be just as gracious with others!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 22, 2013

T.G.I.F.

Today it's Friday ... and most people are glad that it is! Some might even be thanking God that the work week is almost over. But this morning ... I am thanking God for something else (and besides, Friday is not the end of my work week!). Today ... I'm Thanking God I'm Free! Free? Yes! Absolutely! And incredibly so! Jesus himself said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free ... So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"  (John 8:31-32; 36). The freedom Jesus is talking about here ... is the freedom from the bondage that arises from our sin and rebellion against God. And when we are free (and free indeed!) ... we will move toward experiencing life as God intended it to be lived! 

This morning I read some thoughts penned by J.I. Packer in his book, Celebrating the Saving Work of God. In them, he powerfully describes the highest privilege that is ours as a result of the freedom we now have in Christ. I urge you to take a moment and read what J.I. has to say ... and rejoice in God's grace that makes what he talks about a reality for us who choose Christ!

"The New Testament views knowing your Maker as your Father, and yourself as his child and heir, as the highest privilege and richest relationship of which any human being is capable. Not to know God in this way is, by contrast, to be in a state of fallenness and guilt, cut off from God's life, exposed to his judgment, and under demonic control, whence flows only misery. But this is every man's condition." 

Packer then asks the question, "Can it be changed?" The answer the Bible gives ... absolutely! But only through the saving work of Jesus Christ (John 14:5; 1 Peter 3:18). Once we place our trust in Christ's death on our behalf and accept him for who claimed to be (The God-Man who came to give his life as a ransom for many) ... at that point this incredible relationship that Packer refers to becomes ours (John 1:12).

SO ... are YOU right now experiencing what it means to have the Maker of heaven and earth ... God Almighty ... as YOUR heavenly Father? I hope so ... and if you are not, then take a moment and check out Two Ways to Live: A Choice We Must All Make. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

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

1. Here is a rather heated exchange between Ray Comfort (Living Waters/Way of the Master) and a woman named Cindy. Sad to think there are millions of "Cindy's" in this world who defiantly shake their fists in the face of God.

2. Randy Alcorn says (and writes) a lot of cool things about eternity, money and the Christian journey. Here is an article in which he talks about Uncoolness, Intolerance, and Christ's Bride the Church. 

3. We need to be praying for the Church in China. Seems that the communist government is stepping up its attempts to wipe out the house church in China. 

4. I always find myself helped by reading through Nancy DeMoss' Brokenness Bookmark. But I warn you ... it is quite convicting. The sin of pride so subtly lurks with in us ... if we don't get intentional about rooting it out ... it will remain!

5. On a lighter note .  . .  (for you Downton Abbey fans!)

Thanks for stopping by ...
pj

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Life Isn't Always Safe!

Yesterday morning, in the predawn quiet of the day, a fire broke out in the city of Lancaster, PA. Before its flames were extinguished, two lives were gone and three firefighters were injured, one seriously. Gone in the fire were a 38 year old woman and her 6 year old niece. Both were trapped by the flames and could not get out. The three firefighters who were injured all did what they were trained to do ... get the trapped people out. It did not matter that the fire was engaged at that point. These men and women take the job knowing that on every call they may have to do what these men did. Please pray for these three men (two were treated and released). But pray especially for the one firefighter who remains in the hospital, listed in critical but stable condition, suffering from second and third degree burns. Also pray for the family and friends of the two victims who died. As of this writing, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

As I reflected on this tragedy, I thought of how we are a society of people who crave safety. Just think about all the recalls of products that are considered a  health or safety risk (there is actually a web site, www.recalls.gov) where you can go to find out about the latest recalls. But ... no matter how tirelessly we work at trying to make life "safe," we are always going to come up short. Why? Because we live in a broken world. So life does not always work the way we want it to work. As a result, fires take innocent lives, starvation claims hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, cancer strikes and kills, serious (and far too often, fatal) car accidents occur ... and I could go on and on and on.

In light of this ... it is of great comfort to know that our God reigns (Psalm 93:1; Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:34-35; Matthew 10:29-31; Ephesians 1:11). And even though we just cannot see through the misty fog that separates our natural realm from the supernatural, we can rest assured that if we could see through to God's throne, we would see a God who is actively with great power and compassion .... working out HIS plan ... for us and for all humanity.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our God is an Awesome God! A Thought for Your Sunday Worship Pleasure!


Here is a thought from J. I. Packer on just how great our God really is. Truly mind boggling to think of how awesome a mind our God has!




Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Feature ... Friday Coffee with PJ

Today I am launching a new feature that I am calling "Friday Coffee with PJ." I got the idea as I was enjoying breakfast with a former student of mine this morning. He made a comment that he just enjoyed sitting and discussing different topics with me. Well, I enjoy that too ... just talking almost randomly about topics here and there. So, with that in mind ... I thought each Friday I would post some random thoughts about a couple of random topics.

- Death: Death always brings with it a lot of pain and grief and suffering. Those left behind are often heart broken and feel as if life just simply cannot "go on." As I minister to a lot of people who grieve ... I am reminded over and over again at just how UNNATURAL the experience of death is. God never designed us to have to deal with death. Death only entered the human race when Adam and Eve sinned (Romans 5:12). So it is no wonder that death wrecks life as it does. BUT there is coming the day for the follower of Jesus that death will be no more (Revelation 21:3-4).

- Morality: Moral standards in the U.S. continue a downward spiral. What is either acceptable or becoming acceptable today, was viewed as immoral by most people just a generation ago. This especially holds true in the arena of sexual behavior ... and this downward spiral of morality has even infiltrated the church. The church must find a way to clearly and compassionately communicate biblical standards and values in this arena. And as we do we must be willing to stand up to the charges of "intolerance" and "bigotry" and "narrow-mindedness."  This moral decline is just a reminder of how much our world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ (for an insightful article on this topic, check out what Al Mohler wrote in the Washington Post).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

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

1. Boston.com posted over 40 photos of the blizzard which roared through New England last week. Wow! So glad the storm missed us!!!

2. For you Downton Abbey fans out there .... here is one compelling take on the series. 

3. Here is a Valentine's Day must read. Far too many Christian parents place their kids above their relationship with one another on their scale of priorities. This is neither the God-honoring nor children-benefiting thing to do. Take a moment and read!

4. Here's a brief article I wish I could get into the hands of every single follower of Christ in our culture ... The Goal of God's Love May Not Be What You Think. 

5. On a lighter note . . . for your Valentine's Day enjoyment!  

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Church .... My Family!

This past Sunday, as we continued to walk with Mark through the life of Christ, we came across Jesus's somewhat puzzling words. They occur when Jesus' family comes to take him back home as they thought he was "out of his mind." And when Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were outside calling for him, this is how he responded: "Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35). As I pointed out, Jesus was not ditching his natural family here (evidence being he provided for the care of his mother as he hung upon the cross; his half brother James wrote the New Testament book of James). But what Jesus was saying was this ... that when push comes to shove, the "supernatural" family trumps the "natural" one. For even though we are related by blood to our "natural" family, the bonds which unite us as followers of Jesus are soaked in HIS blood! 

In light of Jesus' teaching here that the church is FAMILY ... let me ask you this: are you part of a local church community of believers? And if you can name a particular church as your "church home" - have you made that commitment public? Most churches have some sort of process on becoming a "member" of that church. So if you are engaged with a church ... then follow their process. Become a member. You (and your church) will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Awesome Power of God's Creative Word!

From the very moment we open our Bibles and begin to read the beginning of this grand story of God . . . we are confronted with the awesome power of this God. The first words we read are these ... "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." So ... in the beginning when there was NOTHING (except God, of course), He created. He had no raw materials to work with. He had to make that as he went along. And how did he create? "And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." So he created out of nothing by merely commanding this vast universe into existence! Now that's one powerful God!

Concerning God's act of creation, author J.I. Packer states, "To say that he created 'out of nothing' is to confess the mystery, not explain it." Packer is right ... there is a lot of mystery here. Our limited minds find it very (extremely proably the better word) difficult to grasp the actions of the One who is infinite and whose being goes beyond our understanding of the reality of space and time. Yet .... praise HIM that he has revealed himself to us ... and makes himself KNOWABLE to us ... in His Word ... and in His Son! Yes, we will never fully know God in the sense that we will be able to understand all that he is. To do so would require us becoming God. But we can know him in such a way that we can enter into a loving and intimate relationship with him. Wow! To think that our Daddy is the Maker of all!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Enormity of Our Sin ... The Amazingness of His Grace!

Below is a quote from Jerry Bridges book, The Transforming Power of the Gospel.   After I read it ... these words of King David came to mind, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity" (Psalm 32:1-2).

Please take a moment and read what Bridges has to say about the enormity of our sin. Only by understanding that will we fully appreciate God's grace!


"Suppose you want a new rug to cover the wooden floor in your living room. Being of modest means, you go the local discount store and pay three hundred dollars for a rug. I come into your house with a bottle of black indelible ink and spill that ink on your rug. I have just ruined your three-hundred-dollar rug. But suppose you are a wealthy person and you pay thirty thousand dollars for an expensive Persian rug. If I spill ink on that rug, it is an entirely different matter. Why is that true? It is the same act on my part. In both instances, I have spilled black indelible ink on a rug. The difference, of course, lies in the value of the rug.6 This is the way we should view the enormity of our sin. God’s holiness cannot be compared to even the thirty-thousand-dollar rug. It is infinite. It is immeasurable. Furthermore, we do not accidently “spill” our sin on God’s holiness. For the most part, we rather pour out our sin; that is, we choose to act out our pride and selfishness, our judgmental attitudes, and our unkind words about others. And when we do that, we deliberately pour out our sin on the holiness of God. That is why our sin, be it ever so small in our eyes, is always an abomination to God. 

We need to be clear in our minds that the pursuit of holiness — that is, seeking to be holy as God is holy — is no light, incidental matter. It is central to the Christian life. The psalmist wrote, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently” (Psalm 119:4). Diligently! That is the way we are to respond to God’s command “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)."


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Warm and Inviting OR Cold and Forbidding??

Psalm 42:1  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

I ran across a rather disturbing quote today by one of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges. Please take a moment and read what he wrote ....


Now if you read those words, you might be wondering why I found his words to be disturbing. More than I would like to admit ... I don't find those words "warm and inviting" describing me (at least not nearly as much as I would like). I can get awfully grumpy and critical at times, complaining about this and that to anyone who might want to listen. So as I thought about that ... it made me see that I am not spending enough alone time with God. So ... with that said ... I am signing off to do just that.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Making the Doctor Call!


Sometimes I have the most difficult time making the call to go see the doctor when I am sick. As I thought through why this is the case .... I came up with the following: I don't really want to spend money on the cost of the office visit and the medicine that he will most likely subscribe. I simply hate sitting in a waiting room with a bunch of people who appear sicker than me. In addition, I detest taking the time to do so when I have a mountain of tasks calling my name. Finally, I figure if I wait long enough my body will be able to fight off the illness on its own.

Well I tried waiting my current illness out. But after at least two weeks of doing all the home remedies that I could think of ... I finally waved the white tissue of surrender. So later this morning ... it's off to the doctor I go.

All too often, I do the same think in the spiritual realm (and I am guessing you do this, too). I try to grow in my faith more or less on my own ... giving little thought to the divine partner that God gives to each one of us. I am referring to the Holy Spirit. The night before Jesus was crucified, he stunned his disciples by telling them that it was for their good that he was leaving them (John 16:7). And the reason it was for their good (and ours as well) is spelled out clearly by Jesus. If he had not gone, he would not have been able to send the Holy Spirit to them. And of course, we could not live the Christian life if it were not for the Spirit's enablement (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:18).

All this said, I have a loooooooooong way to go in learning what it means to "walk in step with the Spirit." I am praying that God will teach me and that I will be a good student! How about you? It's not an issue of how much of the Holy Spirit you have ... it's an issue of how much of YOU the Spirit of God has!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Know Your Name, Christian!

My 2 1/2 year old grandson is named after his two grandfathers ... "John David." However, he was also given the nickname "Jack." So most people call him Jack. However, I do not want him to lose sight of the reality that his given name is "John." So I play a little game with him. I'll ask him, "Where's John?" He immediately pats me on the arm. Then I ask, "Who else is John?" And without batting an eyelash he taps himself on the chest. So ... even though he answers's to "Jack," he knows that his REAL name is "John!"

I wonder how many followers of Christ lose sight of their "real" name (and I am not talking about some mysterious, mystical name that God will reveal to you if you ask him to do so!). No ... I am referring to our names that God has ALREADY revealed to us in His Word! For starters he calls us "my child" (John 1:12), "friend" (John 15:15) and "my sheep" (John 10:27).  And that's just the beginning.

It's easy living in such a harsh world (where we get called a lot of unflattering names!) to forget how God views us in Christ. We are his children, his friends, his sheep ... and there is nothing that can change that (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:38-39)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj



Friday, February 1, 2013

Man's Response to His Guilt before a Holy God



This morning as I was reading J.I. Packer's Concise Theology, I was struck by the following quote which comes from his section, Guilt: The Effect of General Revelation: 

The apostle Paul begins his magnus opus (greatest work), the book of Romans with these sobering words:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore, God gave them up. . ."   (Romans 1:18-24a ESV)

Man does all he can to suppress the revelation that speaks loudly and clearly that "Yes, Elizabeth (and everyone else), there IS a God!" (see Psalm 19:1-5)  Humanity also takes the revelation of God and exchanges it for a lie ... the lie being, "There is no Creator. WE can become our own god!"  And why does man do this? Packer hits upon it when he uses the word "escape." Man wants to put out of his mind any thought of a future reckoning before an Almighty, Creator God. And so he supresses God's truth and exchanges it for a package of lies. 

But there is hope for humanity. And it does not lay on this path that Paul describes in Romans 1. Rather man's hope is, as Packer rightfully points out, only and solely in the gospel (good news) of Christ. And if you want a brief explanation of that gospel, click right here! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj




Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings . . .

1. The most offensive verse in the Bible? Consider this take by Dan Philips.

2. And to think the sun (as a star) is the "work of his fingers" (Psalm 8:3). Check out this amazing NASA video of a fiery looping rain on the sun! 

3. Tim Tebow was at the center of controversy for agreeing to speak at a baptist church that was on record as stating homosexual behavior is sinful. Tebow eventually withdrew. So, what are we to make of this? Here are two takes on the matter ... one from Al Mohler the other from Kevin DeYoung.

4. Ed Welch on what it means to give thanks in all circumstances ... and why it is a good thing to do so!

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grace Beyond the Cross!

This morning as I was reading a new book by Paul David Tripp (Dangerous Calling) I ran across the following insightful comment concerning biblical maturity. Take a moment to read it and "chew" on it.

"Biblical maturity is never just about what you know; it's always about how grace has employed what you have come to know to transform the way you live." 

Tripp is right on with these comments. Grace does not end with the cross. It's not, "I am saved by grace" ... "I am sanctified by works." No! We are dependent upon grace for all of our faith journey through life! Jerry Bridges, in his book, Transforming Grace, writes,

"Grace doesn't first rescue us from the penalty of our sins, furnish us with some new spiritual abilities, then leave us on our own to grow in spiritual maturity. Rather, as Paul said, "He who began a good work in you [by His grace] will [also by His grace] carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Amen! God. Thank YOU for never letting up on the flow of your amazing grace!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

PS ... This does not mean that we are not required to work at all when it comes to our spiritual growth. Paul wrote to Timothy, "train yourself for godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7-8 -- see also 2 Peter 1:5-11). 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Project Done - and Another in Progress!

My wife would tell you that when it comes to "handyman" projects around the house, I fail miserably. And I would not argue (and for many of you who know me, you are probably just smiling right about now!).

This past weekend ... I took on a MAJOR house project (please understand that the word "major" as I have just used it is relative ... for others the project I completed would be nothing more than a minor chore). SO ... you are probably wondering just what this MAJOR project was. Yes?  Sharon and I went out and bought four new sets of shades for our bedroom windows. That meant I had to take down the old ones (including the brackets that supported them) before I could install the new ones. A task that probably would have taken even an average "handyman" an hour at most ... took me at least twice that. Then, of course, I had to put up new curtains. I will say I was able to do that in a much more timely fashion. And ahh ... does it feel good to have that project in my rear view mirror!

There's another project that I will be glad to have in life's rear view mirror one day. I am thinking of me! The Bible makes it clear that I am God's "workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). And God is not yet finished working on me ... I am still "a work in progress" (Philippians 1:6). What's true of me ... is also true of you if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. Isn't it a comfort to know that God's not done with us yet! I "blow it" all-too-often when it comes to living out God's word in my life (and I am guessing you do, too!). So I am glad to know that God is still at work in me ... and there will come a day when his work is done ... and I will be presented before him without fault (Jude 1:24). Until then ... I am so glad God continues to pour out his grace upon me. I just hope I learn to be just as gracious with others!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 22, 2013

T.G.I.F.

Today it's Friday ... and most people are glad that it is! Some might even be thanking God that the work week is almost over. But this morning ... I am thanking God for something else (and besides, Friday is not the end of my work week!). Today ... I'm Thanking God I'm Free! Free? Yes! Absolutely! And incredibly so! Jesus himself said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free ... So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"  (John 8:31-32; 36). The freedom Jesus is talking about here ... is the freedom from the bondage that arises from our sin and rebellion against God. And when we are free (and free indeed!) ... we will move toward experiencing life as God intended it to be lived! 

This morning I read some thoughts penned by J.I. Packer in his book, Celebrating the Saving Work of God. In them, he powerfully describes the highest privilege that is ours as a result of the freedom we now have in Christ. I urge you to take a moment and read what J.I. has to say ... and rejoice in God's grace that makes what he talks about a reality for us who choose Christ!

"The New Testament views knowing your Maker as your Father, and yourself as his child and heir, as the highest privilege and richest relationship of which any human being is capable. Not to know God in this way is, by contrast, to be in a state of fallenness and guilt, cut off from God's life, exposed to his judgment, and under demonic control, whence flows only misery. But this is every man's condition." 

Packer then asks the question, "Can it be changed?" The answer the Bible gives ... absolutely! But only through the saving work of Jesus Christ (John 14:5; 1 Peter 3:18). Once we place our trust in Christ's death on our behalf and accept him for who claimed to be (The God-Man who came to give his life as a ransom for many) ... at that point this incredible relationship that Packer refers to becomes ours (John 1:12).

SO ... are YOU right now experiencing what it means to have the Maker of heaven and earth ... God Almighty ... as YOUR heavenly Father? I hope so ... and if you are not, then take a moment and check out Two Ways to Live: A Choice We Must All Make. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

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

1. Here is a rather heated exchange between Ray Comfort (Living Waters/Way of the Master) and a woman named Cindy. Sad to think there are millions of "Cindy's" in this world who defiantly shake their fists in the face of God.

2. Randy Alcorn says (and writes) a lot of cool things about eternity, money and the Christian journey. Here is an article in which he talks about Uncoolness, Intolerance, and Christ's Bride the Church. 

3. We need to be praying for the Church in China. Seems that the communist government is stepping up its attempts to wipe out the house church in China. 

4. I always find myself helped by reading through Nancy DeMoss' Brokenness Bookmark. But I warn you ... it is quite convicting. The sin of pride so subtly lurks with in us ... if we don't get intentional about rooting it out ... it will remain!

5. On a lighter note .  . .  (for you Downton Abbey fans!)

Thanks for stopping by ...
pj

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Life Isn't Always Safe!

Yesterday morning, in the predawn quiet of the day, a fire broke out in the city of Lancaster, PA. Before its flames were extinguished, two lives were gone and three firefighters were injured, one seriously. Gone in the fire were a 38 year old woman and her 6 year old niece. Both were trapped by the flames and could not get out. The three firefighters who were injured all did what they were trained to do ... get the trapped people out. It did not matter that the fire was engaged at that point. These men and women take the job knowing that on every call they may have to do what these men did. Please pray for these three men (two were treated and released). But pray especially for the one firefighter who remains in the hospital, listed in critical but stable condition, suffering from second and third degree burns. Also pray for the family and friends of the two victims who died. As of this writing, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

As I reflected on this tragedy, I thought of how we are a society of people who crave safety. Just think about all the recalls of products that are considered a  health or safety risk (there is actually a web site, www.recalls.gov) where you can go to find out about the latest recalls. But ... no matter how tirelessly we work at trying to make life "safe," we are always going to come up short. Why? Because we live in a broken world. So life does not always work the way we want it to work. As a result, fires take innocent lives, starvation claims hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, cancer strikes and kills, serious (and far too often, fatal) car accidents occur ... and I could go on and on and on.

In light of this ... it is of great comfort to know that our God reigns (Psalm 93:1; Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:34-35; Matthew 10:29-31; Ephesians 1:11). And even though we just cannot see through the misty fog that separates our natural realm from the supernatural, we can rest assured that if we could see through to God's throne, we would see a God who is actively with great power and compassion .... working out HIS plan ... for us and for all humanity.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our God is an Awesome God! A Thought for Your Sunday Worship Pleasure!


Here is a thought from J. I. Packer on just how great our God really is. Truly mind boggling to think of how awesome a mind our God has!




Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Feature ... Friday Coffee with PJ

Today I am launching a new feature that I am calling "Friday Coffee with PJ." I got the idea as I was enjoying breakfast with a former student of mine this morning. He made a comment that he just enjoyed sitting and discussing different topics with me. Well, I enjoy that too ... just talking almost randomly about topics here and there. So, with that in mind ... I thought each Friday I would post some random thoughts about a couple of random topics.

- Death: Death always brings with it a lot of pain and grief and suffering. Those left behind are often heart broken and feel as if life just simply cannot "go on." As I minister to a lot of people who grieve ... I am reminded over and over again at just how UNNATURAL the experience of death is. God never designed us to have to deal with death. Death only entered the human race when Adam and Eve sinned (Romans 5:12). So it is no wonder that death wrecks life as it does. BUT there is coming the day for the follower of Jesus that death will be no more (Revelation 21:3-4).

- Morality: Moral standards in the U.S. continue a downward spiral. What is either acceptable or becoming acceptable today, was viewed as immoral by most people just a generation ago. This especially holds true in the arena of sexual behavior ... and this downward spiral of morality has even infiltrated the church. The church must find a way to clearly and compassionately communicate biblical standards and values in this arena. And as we do we must be willing to stand up to the charges of "intolerance" and "bigotry" and "narrow-mindedness."  This moral decline is just a reminder of how much our world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ (for an insightful article on this topic, check out what Al Mohler wrote in the Washington Post).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

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

1. Boston.com posted over 40 photos of the blizzard which roared through New England last week. Wow! So glad the storm missed us!!!

2. For you Downton Abbey fans out there .... here is one compelling take on the series. 

3. Here is a Valentine's Day must read. Far too many Christian parents place their kids above their relationship with one another on their scale of priorities. This is neither the God-honoring nor children-benefiting thing to do. Take a moment and read!

4. Here's a brief article I wish I could get into the hands of every single follower of Christ in our culture ... The Goal of God's Love May Not Be What You Think. 

5. On a lighter note . . . for your Valentine's Day enjoyment!  

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Church .... My Family!

This past Sunday, as we continued to walk with Mark through the life of Christ, we came across Jesus's somewhat puzzling words. They occur when Jesus' family comes to take him back home as they thought he was "out of his mind." And when Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were outside calling for him, this is how he responded: "Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35). As I pointed out, Jesus was not ditching his natural family here (evidence being he provided for the care of his mother as he hung upon the cross; his half brother James wrote the New Testament book of James). But what Jesus was saying was this ... that when push comes to shove, the "supernatural" family trumps the "natural" one. For even though we are related by blood to our "natural" family, the bonds which unite us as followers of Jesus are soaked in HIS blood! 

In light of Jesus' teaching here that the church is FAMILY ... let me ask you this: are you part of a local church community of believers? And if you can name a particular church as your "church home" - have you made that commitment public? Most churches have some sort of process on becoming a "member" of that church. So if you are engaged with a church ... then follow their process. Become a member. You (and your church) will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Awesome Power of God's Creative Word!

From the very moment we open our Bibles and begin to read the beginning of this grand story of God . . . we are confronted with the awesome power of this God. The first words we read are these ... "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." So ... in the beginning when there was NOTHING (except God, of course), He created. He had no raw materials to work with. He had to make that as he went along. And how did he create? "And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." So he created out of nothing by merely commanding this vast universe into existence! Now that's one powerful God!

Concerning God's act of creation, author J.I. Packer states, "To say that he created 'out of nothing' is to confess the mystery, not explain it." Packer is right ... there is a lot of mystery here. Our limited minds find it very (extremely proably the better word) difficult to grasp the actions of the One who is infinite and whose being goes beyond our understanding of the reality of space and time. Yet .... praise HIM that he has revealed himself to us ... and makes himself KNOWABLE to us ... in His Word ... and in His Son! Yes, we will never fully know God in the sense that we will be able to understand all that he is. To do so would require us becoming God. But we can know him in such a way that we can enter into a loving and intimate relationship with him. Wow! To think that our Daddy is the Maker of all!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Enormity of Our Sin ... The Amazingness of His Grace!

Below is a quote from Jerry Bridges book, The Transforming Power of the Gospel.   After I read it ... these words of King David came to mind, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity" (Psalm 32:1-2).

Please take a moment and read what Bridges has to say about the enormity of our sin. Only by understanding that will we fully appreciate God's grace!


"Suppose you want a new rug to cover the wooden floor in your living room. Being of modest means, you go the local discount store and pay three hundred dollars for a rug. I come into your house with a bottle of black indelible ink and spill that ink on your rug. I have just ruined your three-hundred-dollar rug. But suppose you are a wealthy person and you pay thirty thousand dollars for an expensive Persian rug. If I spill ink on that rug, it is an entirely different matter. Why is that true? It is the same act on my part. In both instances, I have spilled black indelible ink on a rug. The difference, of course, lies in the value of the rug.6 This is the way we should view the enormity of our sin. God’s holiness cannot be compared to even the thirty-thousand-dollar rug. It is infinite. It is immeasurable. Furthermore, we do not accidently “spill” our sin on God’s holiness. For the most part, we rather pour out our sin; that is, we choose to act out our pride and selfishness, our judgmental attitudes, and our unkind words about others. And when we do that, we deliberately pour out our sin on the holiness of God. That is why our sin, be it ever so small in our eyes, is always an abomination to God. 

We need to be clear in our minds that the pursuit of holiness — that is, seeking to be holy as God is holy — is no light, incidental matter. It is central to the Christian life. The psalmist wrote, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently” (Psalm 119:4). Diligently! That is the way we are to respond to God’s command “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)."


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Warm and Inviting OR Cold and Forbidding??

Psalm 42:1  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

I ran across a rather disturbing quote today by one of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges. Please take a moment and read what he wrote ....


Now if you read those words, you might be wondering why I found his words to be disturbing. More than I would like to admit ... I don't find those words "warm and inviting" describing me (at least not nearly as much as I would like). I can get awfully grumpy and critical at times, complaining about this and that to anyone who might want to listen. So as I thought about that ... it made me see that I am not spending enough alone time with God. So ... with that said ... I am signing off to do just that.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Making the Doctor Call!


Sometimes I have the most difficult time making the call to go see the doctor when I am sick. As I thought through why this is the case .... I came up with the following: I don't really want to spend money on the cost of the office visit and the medicine that he will most likely subscribe. I simply hate sitting in a waiting room with a bunch of people who appear sicker than me. In addition, I detest taking the time to do so when I have a mountain of tasks calling my name. Finally, I figure if I wait long enough my body will be able to fight off the illness on its own.

Well I tried waiting my current illness out. But after at least two weeks of doing all the home remedies that I could think of ... I finally waved the white tissue of surrender. So later this morning ... it's off to the doctor I go.

All too often, I do the same think in the spiritual realm (and I am guessing you do this, too). I try to grow in my faith more or less on my own ... giving little thought to the divine partner that God gives to each one of us. I am referring to the Holy Spirit. The night before Jesus was crucified, he stunned his disciples by telling them that it was for their good that he was leaving them (John 16:7). And the reason it was for their good (and ours as well) is spelled out clearly by Jesus. If he had not gone, he would not have been able to send the Holy Spirit to them. And of course, we could not live the Christian life if it were not for the Spirit's enablement (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 5:18).

All this said, I have a loooooooooong way to go in learning what it means to "walk in step with the Spirit." I am praying that God will teach me and that I will be a good student! How about you? It's not an issue of how much of the Holy Spirit you have ... it's an issue of how much of YOU the Spirit of God has!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Know Your Name, Christian!

My 2 1/2 year old grandson is named after his two grandfathers ... "John David." However, he was also given the nickname "Jack." So most people call him Jack. However, I do not want him to lose sight of the reality that his given name is "John." So I play a little game with him. I'll ask him, "Where's John?" He immediately pats me on the arm. Then I ask, "Who else is John?" And without batting an eyelash he taps himself on the chest. So ... even though he answers's to "Jack," he knows that his REAL name is "John!"

I wonder how many followers of Christ lose sight of their "real" name (and I am not talking about some mysterious, mystical name that God will reveal to you if you ask him to do so!). No ... I am referring to our names that God has ALREADY revealed to us in His Word! For starters he calls us "my child" (John 1:12), "friend" (John 15:15) and "my sheep" (John 10:27).  And that's just the beginning.

It's easy living in such a harsh world (where we get called a lot of unflattering names!) to forget how God views us in Christ. We are his children, his friends, his sheep ... and there is nothing that can change that (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:38-39)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj



Friday, February 1, 2013

Man's Response to His Guilt before a Holy God



This morning as I was reading J.I. Packer's Concise Theology, I was struck by the following quote which comes from his section, Guilt: The Effect of General Revelation: 

The apostle Paul begins his magnus opus (greatest work), the book of Romans with these sobering words:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore, God gave them up. . ."   (Romans 1:18-24a ESV)

Man does all he can to suppress the revelation that speaks loudly and clearly that "Yes, Elizabeth (and everyone else), there IS a God!" (see Psalm 19:1-5)  Humanity also takes the revelation of God and exchanges it for a lie ... the lie being, "There is no Creator. WE can become our own god!"  And why does man do this? Packer hits upon it when he uses the word "escape." Man wants to put out of his mind any thought of a future reckoning before an Almighty, Creator God. And so he supresses God's truth and exchanges it for a package of lies. 

But there is hope for humanity. And it does not lay on this path that Paul describes in Romans 1. Rather man's hope is, as Packer rightfully points out, only and solely in the gospel (good news) of Christ. And if you want a brief explanation of that gospel, click right here! 

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.