Friday Coffee with PJ

Hard to believe but Friday is here again! For you, it means the final day of the work week ... but, alas, not so
for me! But that's OK ... I love my job!

1. The shock waves of yesterday's Supreme Court decisions will continue to reverberate far into the future. As the homosexual community and their supporters celebrate, I have chosen to mourn. Marriage as instituted by God has taken a huge hit. Same-sex marriage ... is really not marriage at all. But this is a discussion for another day.  But concerning the court's decision, Al Mohler, one of evangelical Christianity's most lucid thinkers, said the following about the court's decision:

"Nevertheless, even as Justice Kennedy castigated Congress (and presumably former President Bill Clinton) for making moral judgments, he could not resist moral judgments of his own. He wrote of our society’s “evolving understanding of the meaning of equality and declared that the states have the right to confer on same-sex marriages “the equal dignity” of a mariage between a man and a woman. By finding that the moral judgment of Congress in opposing same-sex marriage was wrong, he asserted, quite forcefully, that opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in animus or hatred. In other words, Justice Kennedy, joined by four other justices, believes that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong. In condemning a moral judgment, he arrogantly made a moral judgment." 
(for his entire post, click here)

We Christians need to do all we can to elevate the status of "sacred-covenant marriage" - one man, one woman, one flesh --- for life! (see Matthew 19:4-6)

2. One of the most powerful verses on how we talk is Ephesians 4:29. According to this verse, we are to speak ONLY for the benefit of the ones with whome we are speaking (writing, texting, emailing, messaging, etc.). Far too often when we do communicate, our motive is not OTHERS-ORIENTED ... but rather SELF-CENTERED! So ... take some time and analyse WHY you say (or text or email ... I think you get the point) what you say. Do your words spring from a desire to MINISTER to others or MANIPULATE others?  

3. Finally, I had a conversation today with a parent who pointed out that so many kids have their identity all wrapped up in their sports involvement. And given the crazy sports culture in which we live, we know what she is talking about. This got me thinking about even us adults ... and we, too, find our identity so often in the things we do (our jobs, our community involvement, our hobbies, etc.). But as followers of Jesus, where SHOULD we find our identity. Ed Welsh points us in the right direction with his thoughts in reponse to the question, Who Am I?  It is well worth the 3 minutes or so that it will take you to read! 

Thanks for stopping by ... and I hope you have a great weekend! Don't neglect worshipping our Great God with your church family. And if you don't have one, you are always welcome to come our way. We will keep the doors open and the coffee hot for you! 


Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings. I trust they will encourage you in your faith walk with Christ!

1. OMG is texting for .... Oh My God! Increasingly you can hear (and see) Christians using this common expression. But is this a good thing?  Check out some great insights on why we should think twice about dropping this expression whether my mouth or by text. 

2. How bizzare can our culture get? Check out the latest court case granting a transgender girl in Colorado the right to use the girl's restroom. 

3. Praise God for the power of the gospel! Here are some brief thoughts from Greg Laurie.

4. Here's a great song about our Mediator! 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Calling Sin 'Sin!'

Joel Osteen pastors Lakewood Church in Houston Texas. This church is one of the largest if not the largest
mega churche in America, averaging approximately 43,000 people in average weekly attendance. In an interview a few years back, Osteen was asked by Larry King of CNN if he ever used the word “sinners” in his preaching. Osteen replied, “I don’t use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don’t.” 

Never thought about it?   Hmm.  How do you not think about sin and sinners when the Bible uses the word some 2000 times? But Osteen’s approach, which is far removed from biblical teaching, is to focus on the positive and avoid mention of anything negative. This, of course, includes the concept of sin (and its subsequent judgment). 

But this is a BIG problem! Why?  Because humanity’s root problem … is SIN! It is sin that condemns us to hell. Sin which separates us from God. Sin which is at the root of every single problem we face as human beings (click here for some insights on the biblical consequences of sin). Therefore, it is no surprise that increasingly we hear less and less about sin, both inside and outside of the church. After all, the god of this age is at work to remove the concept of sin from the daily conversation of life. In doing so, he can keep us in his snare (2 Timothy 2:25-26). 

Consider the following quotes by Jerry Bridge's in his classic work, The Pursuit of Holiness: 

“Our problem is that we do not take some sin seriously. We have mentally categorized sins into what which is unacceptable and that which is to be tolerated.” 

“Are we willing to call sin 'sin' not because it is big or little, but because God’s Word forbids it? We cannot categorize sin if we are to live a life of holiness. God will not let us get away with that kind of attitude.” 

What is YOUR attitude toward sin? Do you see it as God sees it? Or have you bought into our culture's view of sin -- that, ahh ... it's no big deal?  That is a question you need to answer! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Something to Think About

Thought I would post a quote for you to think on as you hit day #2 of your work week (which is actually day #1 of my work week as Monday is my normal day off). The quote is from John MacArthur's excellent devotional book, Daily Readings From the Life of Christ, Volume 2. If you are looking for a good devotional that will keep you focused on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3), this is a book I highly recommend.

"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."

Hope you make the time to read and then think about (meditate) on the Scriptures EVERY day this week! You will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well it's Friday ... and that means "Friday Coffee with PJ" --- so here are a few random thoughts for you to enjoy with your morning cup of joe.

1. This morning at 1:04, summer arrived here in Lancaster, PA. So that means we can look forward to some triple H days! These are the days saturated with Heat, Haze and Humidity. The days that we work up a sweat just thinking about going outside. Although we don't know how many of these triple H days we will have to endure, we do know that some are in the forecast. How so? Hot, steamy days are just part of the package that we call summer. So we can be certain that before too long, a triple H day will arrive. Just as summer brings these kind of days .... so life brings a number of things our way as well. One of these is interpersonal conflict. How so? Given that ALL of us are broken people whose sin all too often turns are gaze self-ward, it is inevitable that we will experience conflict. Therefore, we need to be equipped to handle and resolve it in a God-honoring, Kingdom-advancing way. For tips on how to do so .... check out the Peacemaker Ministries blog which offers a lot of great insights to help you in this arena!

2. This morning is the final morning of our week long Vacation Bible School at Grace. Our high mark in attendance came yesterday when we hit 257 kids! Wow! The theme this year is all about serving! After all, if Jesus the King of the Universe did not come to be served but to serve ... and to ultimately give his life as a ransom for sin ... who are we to refuse to serve those around us? It has been a great week .... and my hat is off to all of those who have given of their time and effort to serve these children (see Mark 10:13-16). IF children matter to Jesus, they had better matter to us as well!

3. Finally, a great J.I. Packer quote for you to chew on over the weekend:

"In our life of faith, we often impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small."

How big are your thoughts of God?  Take some time and read through Isaiah 40.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Thursday A La Carte

Here are just a few offerings for this week:

1. One of the most influential books I have ever read (besides the Bible, of course) is J.I. Packer's wonderful primer on God, Knowing God. I read this book about a year after it was first published in 1973. At the time I was half way through my freshman year in college ... and had only been a Christian for less than 3 years. If you want to get to know God better ... I can hardly think of better book that will help you in your pursuit. Here is a list of some great quotes from that book! 

2. Here is a "spot on" article, Should We Stop Saying, "The Church Hurt Me?"   I wish we could include this article as required reading for anyone who claims to follow Jesus!

3. "So was God in control when my dog died? Why would God kill my dog?"  Hmm. How would you answer those questions in light of the biblical teaching on God's sovereignty? Here is a great article, 3 Mistakes We Make When Talking about the Sovereignty of God. 

4. Here is a topic you don't hear or read much about (to our detriment!) .... Be Killing Sin or Else.   And if you want to read more on how to kill sin ... click here for the first of a four part series on the topic (you can find the other three parts at the bottom of the page).

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

I borrowed the title of today's post from the New York Times #1 Best-Selling Relationship Book of All Time: MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS  This book is based on the reality that all of us who have ever been in a serious relationship with a member of the opposite sex know - that men and women think about things and process life very differently (Men Are Like Waffles - Women Are Like Spaghetti is another book along these lines - and is a better book in my opinion!).  

This morning, one of my associates sent me a link to the video below which illustrates this truth in a humorous and a "been-there-experienced-that" sort of way. Enjoy. And then ... run out and get a copy of the waffle and spaghetti book. Your relationship will be much better for it! 

 Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Broken Street Lights

I saw a report on last evening's local news about a significant problem our state capital of Harrisburg is facing. It seems like there are a large number of broken and even downed street lights around the city. And with a crew of just four to do the repairs, many streets will remain in the dark until the crew can make their rounds. You can guess that a lot of city residents are not happy about that.

This situation Harrisburg is facing got me thinking about what Jesus said about those of us who have chosen to follow him. In the longest of his recorded messages, Jesus directed the following words to his followers:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). 

I wonder how many of us Christians are "out of commission" when it comes to being "street lights" for Jesus? Take a moment and reflect on your life. Can you honestly say that people around you are seeing the light of Jesus in you?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

I hope you enjoy your coffee as much as I do! But whatever your choice of morning brew, I trust you will enjoy these random thoughts that have been rattling through my mind.

1. Next week is VBS week here at Grace. And every Vacation Bible School week brings a boat load and then some of kids to our facility (as of this morning, 210 kids are pre-registered. This compares to 150 at the same time last year. That's a lot of kids!!!). For about the fourth or fifth year in a row, I will be one of the actors. This year, four of us will provide an opening skit (to introduce the day's theme) and, on Friday morning only, a closing skit (to wrap things up). This year I am playing the role of "Stan." Stan is "a little nerdy, but he's got a great heart. He loves Jesus and wants to share Him with others. Things don't always go right for Stan - he can be a little clumsy, extremely timid, and underestimates himself. Stan should be dressed in prim and proper clothes, to match his personality."  Now I can safely say that there are some characteristics of Stan that are not true of me. For example, I am anything but "extremely timid!" But ... I do wonder if I was chosen for this part because I can be at times "a little nerdy?" Hmm . . . I will let you all make that call!  PLEASE PRAY FOR US NEXT WEEK AS WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO INTRODUCE MANY KIDS TO JESUS! 

2. All of us are prone to forgetfulness ... yes? I am constantly forgetting things. People's names. Bills to be paid. Emails that need an answer. The trash that needs put out. And on and on and on it goes. But probably one of the biggest things I forget to do is to thank God for his MANY blessings that he sends my way! God warns us against forgetting to thank God (Psalm 103:2). And God warned the Israelites not to forget him when they got into the promised land and began to enjoy the comforts of that place (Deuteronomy 8:13-15). Often we complain about how poor our memories are ... but ALL of us have really solid forgeteries!

3. Someone much wiser than me once said, "Everyone loves progress, it's just change they can't stand!" Hmm. That is SO true! Yet ... living in an ocean of change, where life tomorrow will almost certainly be different from life today, change is a constant of this package we call life in 21st century America. SO ... let's quit complaining about it and accept it. But, let's do so by anchoring our souls to one constant that we can count on NEVER changing .... Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:8).

Thanks for stopping by  . . .

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this Thursday's offerings. Enjoy!

1. There are an increasing number of books being published about heaven. These are written by people who allegedly have been there and returned to report to the rest of us their celestial experience. Tim Challies has a book recommendation for any who would like to have some biblical insight into this phenomenon.

2. Again from Tim .... if you want to get more things done ... you might what to first get rid of some things. Here is his suggestion on 6 things to lose! 

3. Paul Tripp writes about something you cannot destroy ... no matter how hard you might seem to try!

4. Ed Welch writes about hoarding and the DSM 5 (5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)

5. On a lighter note . . .  (classic Lucy!)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

A Father's Painful Love

When acting Chief of Police James Cavallo Sr. was paging through the local newspaper one evening several years ago, his eye was drawn to a story about a local bank holdup.  Along with the story was a grainy surveillance photo that showed a young Caucasian man wearing a baseball cap.  The longer Cavallo looked at the photo, the more certain he became that he knew the suspect.  It was his son, James Cavallo Jr.  So what did he do?  What any law respecting law enforcement officer would do – he turned him in.  When asked about his actions, Cavallo Sr., speaking from his home in rural Moore Township, north of Allentown, said, “I knew I had to do it. There was no question about it.”

The next day, police arrested Cavallo Jr. and charged him with robbery, theft and receiving stolen property. After making a videotaped confession, he was taken to the Northampton County Jail and held on $500,000 bail.  According to the police, Cavallo Jr. claimed to be high on cocaine the night of the robbery. 

Wow!  That must have been a very difficult thing for Cavallo Sr. to do.  I mean, turning your own son into authorities, knowing that if convicted his son could go to prison for a very long time!  This story reminds me on a small scale of what another Father must have experienced some 2000 years ago.  That Father “turned in” His own Son – even though His Son was innocent.  I am referring to God the Father sending His Son to die for our sins.  Even though he had no sin of his own – Jesus Christ willingly took upon Himself our sins.  He then faced the wrath of His own Father as the Father poured out upon Jesus the punishment for our rebellion against Him.  What motivated the Father to do this?  In the words of Jesus, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Do you believe in Jesus Christ?  If you do, have you thanked your Father lately for the agony He must have endured in sending His willing Son to Calvary’s cross? Are you grateful for our Father’s painful love?

Thanks for stopping by . . . 


Hope Rises in the Central African Republic


Thank you so much for praying for the situation in the Central African Republic! The recent military coup has devastated the country ... a country already ravished by poverty. Yet, in the midst of this despair, hope is rising! Below is an email I just received from Dr. Augustin Hibaile, my friend and the director of the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership (CIDEL). He, along with two men from Encompass World Partners had an exciting and hope-inspiring meeting yesterday. Please read on ... and PLEASE continue to pray!

Greetings from C.A.R,

In my email today, I asked many of you to pray for the opportunity to meet with the President with the missionaries Mike (USA) and Frank (Germany). This morning we had a good audience with the Minister of Religious Affairs. He introduced us to the Head of the State this evening.

Frank, Mike, Pastor Banga Boniface and myself were received by the President in his cabinet this evening (6:15 - 6:45 PM). It's was a wonderful time to inform the President about what our mission and churches have done in C.A.R since the arrival of the first missionaries. The President gave a good testimony about our churches and is encouraged by the Bible message he heard the first time in one of our churches here in Bangui.

Frank and Mike have assured the President about the many prayers of Christians around the world. The President asked for prayers on his behalf and for peace in the country. Concerning the letter sent to Saudi Arabia that said it is the President who want to change the country into an Islamic country, he denied it and said that someone with an evil intention did it to destroy his testimony. 
Augustin and wife, Marie-Helene

Please pray for the Minister of Religious Affairs for wisdom.Pray for the President as he seek ways to restore the country in this chaotic situation.

Pray for our guests who have some couple days with us before they go back.

Pray for the C.A.R.! 

Dr. Augustin Hibaile 

Thanks for stopping! 

P.S. For future prayer updates, please visit the Friends of CIDEL website. 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday's here ... and although I did not get to my Thursday A La Carte offerings ... I thought I would squeeze in some time for my Friday Coffee with PJ post ... enjoy!

1. Earlier this week, Shane Bunting did what a lot of 22 year olds do ... he went to a party. But after being asked to leave the party as a result of an altercation, he did something that few 22 year olds do ... he returned to the party armed with a baseball bat and a pit bull. That's right ... a pit bull! He released the dog which proceeded to attack three different people (two of which were treated at Ephrata Hospital for dog bites). The local chief of police said during a television interview that he had never seen a pit bull used as weapon in a situation like this before. Really? Bottom line here - this man has anger issues! But he is not alone. A lot of people have anger issues. We live in an increasingly angry world! Why so? Because people in their sinful pursuit of self gratification get angry whenever someone or something gets in the way of that pursuit! IF we are honest ... we would all admit that we deal with anger to some degree. Perhaps not enough to sic a pit bull on someone ... but angry none-the-less. God calls upon us to deal with our anger (Ephesians 4:26, 31; James 1:19-20). A great way to do so is to read through the book of Proverbs (the Old Testament book of wisdom) and read every verse that talks about anger (there are at least a dozen). Then seek to apply God's wisdom and get the anger out of your heart! You (and those around you) will be better for it!

2. I found this article ( to be quite compelling. The author writes about the gospel in that it is a gospel that fits all people. Not just the beautiful people ... the successful people ... the cool people. But it is good news for ALL people (Luke 2:10;  1 Corinthians 1:26-31). I hope you take a moment to read it.

3. Some nights I sleep well ... others I don't. On some of those latter occasions it is because I have something on my mind and heart. But many times I am not quite sure why I can't sleep. Last night was one of those. I woke up around 4 AM. After laying in bed for almost an hour, I decided to just get up and start my day. But during that time that I remained in bed a rather strange thought hit me. It dawned on me that when we do sleep, we are at the total mercy of external circumstances. Someone could break into our house and we would not know it. A fire could begin to smolder in another room, releasing toxic fumes (and if the smoke alarms don't go off, we could easily succumb to those fumes and never wake up - this side of eternity that is!). And on and on it goes. SO ... as I thought of that I realize that going to bed and falling asleep is actually an act of faith. Because as we do so we are trusting God to keep us while we are snoring away! Even though I did not grow up in a churched home ... my mother did teach me a little prayer to pray before I went to bed each night. You may very well be familiar with it. It went like this: "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." Hmm ... for such a little prayer, there is some good theology in that (Psalm 4:8)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

"Take Heart! I am!"

This past Sunday in our study of the Gospel of Mark, we took a look at two incredible miracles performed by Jesus. And in putting these two together, the result is a truly amazing portrait of our Savior! The two miracles were the feeding of the 5000 and His walking upon the water. Both of these point toward the reality that Jesus Christ as the Son of God is extremely great AND deeply compassionate. In both miracles he demonstrated his awesome power. In the first he did so by creating on the spot between two and three tons of food to feed a hungry crowd that may have been as large as 15,000 to 20,000 when factoring in women and children who were also present. In the second he manifested his power by defying the law of gravity to walk effortlessly upon the surface of the turbulent surface of the Sea of Galilee. In addition to Jesus' power, Mark refers to his compassion as Jesus looked out upon the crowd and saw them as "sheep without a shepherd" - and if you know anything about sheep, sheep without a shepherd our very sorry sheep! In addition, when the the disciples cried out in fear (thinking they were seeing a ghost as Jesus was walking past their boat), Jesus immediately spoke into their fear to reassure him as he said, "Take heart! I am!" SO all this to say ... No matter our need, we can always look to him for the help that only he can give. For his eye is always upon us and we are forever in His grip!

Paul Trip, in his excellent book, A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble, reminds us that God is always near to help ... but there is something we must do. Please read on . . .

"You can be sure of this; your day of trouble will come. Yet, in your trouble God hasn’t left you alone. What is it that he gives you in your trouble? He gives you himself! He is what will keep you safe. He is near, and he comes to you armed with transforming grace and liberating wisdom. But it’s vital that you live with eyes and heart open to what Scripture says to you about you and the world in which you live. If you do, you’ll live in a way that’s humble and needy, seeking the grace and wisdom that you so desperately need and that God so willingly and lovingly gives. Be realistic. Remember, there’s amazing grace for every realistic thing you’ll be called to face."

I trust you will be seeking HIM for the amazing grace that ONLY he can give!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Be the Hands of Jesus!

In his book, The Jesus Habits: Exercising the Spiritual Disciplines of Jesus, author Jay Dennis relates a story about a church in Strasbourg that was destroyed as result of Allied bombing in WW 2.  After the bombing was over, the church members surveyed the damage. As they did they were pleasantly surprised to find a statue of Christ still standing.  The stature showed Christ with his arms outstretched in service.  When the church members got closer to the statue they noted that a beam had fallen in such a way as to sever the hands from the statue.  Knowing how much the statue meant to the church and the community (it had been sculptured several centuries before), a local artist offered to sculpt new hands for the statue.  After considering the offer, the church members declined it.  They thought the handless Christ would be a good reminder to them that God’s work of service is done though His people.

Wow!  That is a great illustration of a great truth.  God is doing a work in our world today – and he wants to do that work through YOU and ME!  Whether it’s teaching little ones in our children’s ministry or volunteering to do some office work – it is a privilege to serve as Christ’s hands!  People all around us have needs.  Reach out to someone today and touch them.  Be the hands of Christ!   

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

My apologies for missing the past several Fridays. I was off last week, and the previous couple of weeks I got caught up in the Thanksgivi...