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Showing posts from July, 2013

In Spite of Us!

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This morning, as I was reading in J.I. Packer's Classic Collection, J.I. really got me thinking. Here's what he wrote:

"God does use us. He uses us right now in spite of our flaws. he is a kindly God and uses flawed people as a part of his regular agenda. No matter how conscious we are of our own limitations, shortcomings, and sins, we may look to God to make us of us again - and in his great mercy he will." 

Packer is right on the mark! God does use us, warts and all, as he carries out HIS plan! Wow! What a God! Indeed, this truth should be a great encouragement to us all as we seek to live for HIM. However, if we are not careful, this reality could become a "cop-out" to striving to live a holy life. After all, if God is going to use me in spite of my shortcomings and sin . . . then do I really need to strive for personal holiness? The answer: ABSOLUTELY! As Packer points out, "we must seek to get and keep our lives in a shape that will glorify God. T…

Back from Vacation!

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I don't know about you ... but I am not a huge "game" person. That can cause some moments of conflict in our house when my wife (who IS a huge game "game" person) says, "Let's play a game!" So ... I have decided to try and be more "game-ready!" To help me do that, I invite you to play a game right now. Can you name the place this photo was taken last week on our vacation? And if you have already seen this on Facebook, then hopefully you know the answer!

At first glance, most of you would guess that it was taken down at the beach. Ocean City? Rehoboth or Cape May? Virginia Beach? If you guessed beach .... you are right. But if you guessed a beach anywhere along the mid-Atlantic coast you would be wrong. This pic was taken on Beach #11 in Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. That's right -that's not salt water in the background! And really ... if this were one of the beaches most people around here frequent ... the background woul…

Got Zeal?

I know I am on vacation ( and loving it!),  but I read some words of J.I. Packer that I want you to hear, too.  In writing about zeal (Psalm 69:9; Numbers 25:11-13) he defines it as "a humble, reverent, businesslike, single-minded commitment to the hallowing of God's name and the doing of his an will." With this definition in hand,  examine yourself. Got zeal?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

On Vacation!

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On vacation this week! Will get back to posting NEXT week!  Have a good day and a great week as you seek to walk in a manner worthy of God! (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Hey ... it's Friday. So if you have some time, grab that breakfast beverage (I hope its coffee!) and take some time to "hear me out!"

1. Recently I said to someone, "Doesn't it seem like time moves so much faster during the summer months than it does during the winter?"  I don't know how you would answer that question . . . but it sure seems so to me. I am still trying to figure out where the month of June went and here we are over halfway through July! Now we know that time moves at the same constant rate whether it's August or January. However, our perspective might be that summer time passes by much more rapidly than winter time. Perhaps that is due to a greater fondness for summer (over winter) or maybe because vacations tend to fall in the summer season more often than winter (and of course we ALL know that vacation time moves faster than any other time on the planet!). All this to say that our view of the speed of time comes down to a matter …

Indiana's Calling My Name!

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Today I am leaving for Indiana .... specifically Indiana Wesleyan University. That's where our Momentum Youth Conference is being held. The last Momentum conference that I was involved with was back in 2007. So it will be good to go back. Please pray for our students and all the other students who will be present. Ask God to do HIS work in them .... a work that only HIS Spirit can do. And ask God to graciously work through the many adults who will be there to minister to the students. I know from past experience that Momentum is often a place where the Spirit does HIS lifechanging, life transforming work!

Thanks for praying!

And thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

The New and Improved Gospel? Hardly!

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Across the course of the past several decades, the church has ... in the words of J.I. Packer, "bartered the gospel for a substitute product which, though similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing." He continues to point out the heart of this difference when he writes, "Whereas the chief aim of the old (gospel) was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference between the two."  

Hmm. J.I. is onto something here. All one has to do is spend some time parousing the shelves of a Christian bookstore or search through the offerings for Amazon's Kindle or Barnes and Nobles' Nook and you will see that this is true. Be honest. What title do you find more attractive: How to Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Blood Pressure or Searchin…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Grab your cup of favorite morning brew ... and read on!

1. The crisis in the Central African Republic is far from over. Even though conditions have somewhat stablalized, the hardships on the people continue per this recent BBC report. Please continue to pray for the people of the Central African Republic, the church there, and my friend Augustin Hibaile and his family. Thanks!

2. In our consumer driven culture, we must beware of allowing a consumeristic mindset from becoming our mindset when it comes to our local church. From my observation, it appears to me that far too many Christians are consumers rather than givers when it comes to church involvement. One way to combat this is to remember the words of Jesus when he stated, "But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many&quo…

Feast or Famine!

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Recently, every time I turned on the evening news, there was video footage of yet another western wild fire consuming trees and homes and everything else in its path. These fires were being fueled by extremely dry and windy conditions. At the same time, every time I viewed a local weather forecast, the words "showers and thunderstorms" were more often than not a part of the forecast. And with the recent rains, the landscape of Lancaster County is looking quite green and lush! So as I think of the variety of weather being experienced in our country these days ... the expression, "feast or famine" comes to mind. We are feasting on the benefits of adequate (to almost too adequate!) amounts of rainfall while much of the western United States is suffering from a famine of beneficial rains! 

Life in general can be a lot like that.  Feast or famine.  We experience a time when life is “going well.”  The kids are doing super at school, our marriage is vibrant, the job is g…

Beautiful People ... Or Are They?

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The Lancaster newspaper runs a column on their back page under the heading "People." Today's column featured three brief articles. One sketched country singer Randy Travis' serious heart condition. He is currently listed in critical condition in a Texas hospital. The second story was all about recording artist Elton John's diagnosis of appendicitis. The third featured 27 year old actress Amanda Byne's court appearance on allegations that she threw a marijuana bong out of her 36th floor Manhattan apartment (why throw anything out of a 36 floor apartment, let alone a marijuana bong!). Did you catch the common denominator of these three people? They are all "rich and famous." Not surprising, though! Why would anyone want to read about Joe Plumber's ailing kidney? I mean .... could you imagine a television show featuring the guy at Walmart who greets you as you enter the store? Hardly! We are a culture that is mesmerized by the celebrities in our m…

The Bible, Our Authority

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"The Bible, Our Authority" is one of four core values that we embrace at Grace Church at Willow Valley. Concerning this value, well known writer-theologian, J. I. Packer, writes:


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj





Friday Coffee with PJ

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Well its the day after the Fourth . . . and many of you may very well be off from work again today. Whether you are working today or kicking back . . . here are a few thoughts to go with your morning cup of joe!

1. Back in 2004, while traveling with my son in Arizona, we spent a night in a small town called Prescott. Earlier this week, that little town was in the national headlines . . . and not for reasons the town would have chosen! Unless you have been off the planet, you know what I am talking about. Earlier this week, nineteen elite firefighters from Prescott were killed when the blaze they were battling turned on them. USA Today calls it "one of the worst wildfire disasters in history." Our hearts go out to the families of these firefighters ... many of whom left wives with young children behind. We also remember the wider community of Prescott, which is reeling from this loss. One reality that this tragedy should drive home to us is that none of us know how much time…

Happy Fourth of July!

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I hope you have a great day off from your job! Enjoy some extra time with your family and friends. And as you go about having FUN . . . take a moment to check out this article from the folks at the National Day of Prayer. It will remind you as to why we get this day off in the first place!

HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Doing It Half Way!

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If you live in the same neck of the woods as I do, you know it's been quite tropical of late. Lots of heat.
Lot's of humidity. And lots of downpours (for example, the storms that rumbled through in the early morning hours of Monday left about 2 inches in my rain gauge). Now with all the warmth and moisture you can just imagine how fast the grass is growing (and if you live in these parts you don't have to imagine - just take a look!). Yesterday, it was evident my lawn could stand a shearing! But with storms threatening, I knew I would not have time to do it all. So, I did the next best thing. I mowed the front lawn. After all, everyone who passes my house sees the front yard. Whereas very few (if any) see the lawn behind my house. I figure, I will get to that eventually ... but at least for now, the front lawn is presentable!

Hmm. Isn't this the way we often deal with our spiritual lives? We seek to work on the areas that are most visible. But the less visible .... we…

God-Shrinkers!

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In my daily devotional reading today of The J.I. Packer Classic Collection, he writes of one of his greatest laments of the past few decades. As I read .... I thought to myself ... "Stop hammering me with that sledge hammer, J.I.!" But ... there are times a good whack or two on the head is good for our souls! Here's what he wrote:

"Often in recent decades I have found myself publicly lamenting the way in which our Western culture has indulged unwarrantably great thoughts of humanity and scandalously small thoughts of God. Our time will surely go down in history as the age of the God-shrinkers. The result is that belief in God's sovereignty and omniscience, the majesty of his moral law and the terror of his judgment, the retributive consequences of the life we live here and the endlessness of the eternity in which we will experience them, along with belief in the intrinsic triunity of God and the divinity and personal return of Jesus Christ, is nowadays so eroded…