PJ

PJ

Monday, September 30, 2013

Out of Office

I will not be posting this week as I am out of the office enjoying some time away with my wife. "See" you again next week!

But before I sign off ... here is a quote for you to ponder this week:


"Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society's own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender"  (A. W. Tozer, 1897-1963).


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your favorite morning, afternoon or evening beverage of choice and join me for a couple of random
thoughts.

1. Whenever something bad happens in our lives, the Enemy is always quick to whisper in our ear something along the line of "So, God loves you does he? Come on . . . if God REALLY loved you, then would he have allowed this to happen to you?" From the dawn of human history, this has been one of Satan's strategy . . . to get us to doubt God's goodness (see Genesis 3:1-5). But when Satan comes whispering his vicious accusation against our God, we must respond with God's Word (just as Jesus did when tempted by Satan - Matthew 4:1-10). Over and over again the Bible tells us that God is good and faithful (Psalm 107:1; Psalm 36:5; Lamentations 3:22-25). So even when life grows so dark it is tough to see any light, we must, by faith believe that God is near and He has us in HIS hand (Psalm 139:9-11). And there is no better hands to be in than HIS!

2. Jerry Bridges writes much about our pursuit of God and personal holiness. In one of his books, he quotes King David in Psalm 27:4 where David declares, "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."  Here are Bridges' comments on David's stated desire: 


"This is the heartbeat of the godly person. As he contemplates God in the awesomeness of His infinite majesty, power, and holiness, and then as he dwells upon the riches of His mercy and grace poured out at Calvary, his heart is captivated by this One who could love him so. He is satisfied with God alone, but he is never satisfied with his present experience of God. He always yearns for more." 

Oh that God would give us all that kind of a heartbeat! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Helping to Carry Your Burden

Here are a few quotes that I hope will help those who may be, for whatever reason, bearing a heavy burden today:


"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jesus to his disciples in John 16:33).

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (King David in Psalm 27:1). 

"You can be sure of this; your day of trouble will come. Yet, in your trouble, God has not left you alone. What is it that he gives you in your trouble? He gives you himself! He is what will keep you safe"            (Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm).  



Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thanking God for the Comfort He Gives!

In light of the sorrow that our church family is undergoing this week in light of a high school student's sudden death, here is a portion of a prayer by one of my favorite "pray-ers", Scotty Smith. 


"Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast, discouraged or even despairing. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us—you comfort us; for you’re “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Thank you for commanding us to cast our cares on you (1 Pet. 5:7), not to swallow them or pretend like we don’t have any. Thank you for never telling us “buck up” or “get over it.”
And thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you regularly comfort us through your Word, or even in our sleep, quite often you send a Titus or a Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) to a Paul. You love to tell your story through your people. Thank you for well timed emails, visits, hugs, calls, texts—for the friends, family, even angels, you send us. But Father, above all, thank you for the ultimate comfort you’ve given to us by giving Jesus for us. One burden I don’t bear today, or forever, is the weight of my guilt and sin. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!
This very day, help me be honest about my limitations and vulnerable enough to allow others to care for me. And make me sensitive to the needs of others around me today—those up close to me, and those afar. In my weakness I may be more good to them than when I feel “on top of my game.” Who needs a word of comfort from another weary traveler? Show me, Father. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ compassionate name."

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Uninvited Intruder

Intruders. They come in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes they come in human form, other times they crash into our lives as an unwelcome set of circumstances or a tragic event. No matter what they might be ... they are always uninvited.

Over the weekend our church family was impacted by an intruder. A 17 year old student in our youth group died ... suddenly, unexpectantly. His immediate family is devastated by the loss of a son and a brother. Our students are crushed at the loss of a peer and a friend. Our church family hurts for them. And I am angry. That's right . . . I am mad! But, I have no bone to pick with God, for my anger is not directed at him. No, I am mad about sin. SIN ... our rebellion against God. For it is OUR sin that opened the door for the intruder of death to enter our world . . . and eventually our lives (see Romans 5:12 and Romans 6:23). When death pushed open the door of this family's lives over the weekend . . . his intrusion left pain, sorrow and heartache beyond imagination in its wake.

Last night, as a group of us gathered in a circle, many clutching a fistfull of tissues, I talked a bit about how death is so unnatural. It was not part of God's original design for us. No. We brought all of this upon ourselves. But because we were never wired to deal with death, when death intrudes, we hurt. We hurt bad! BUT at the same time GOD tells us that because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, even though death for now still maintains its sting, that's all it is. For we will have the ultimate victory over death as we place our faith and trust in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)!!! As Jesus himself told Mary who had just lost her brother Lazarus to this grim intruder, "I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). 

My friends, do YOU believe this? This young man who passed into eternity did. And he is now in a better place (Philippians 1:23). If you have any questions about how you can be prepared when the intruder of death comes knocking at your door, PLEASE check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We Must All Make. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your morning (or afternoon ... or evening) cup of coffee and read on. This morning, a few quotes from my recent readings for you to dunk into your think tank called a mind! 

1. "We as Christians make a staggering claim: we lay claim to truth that is exclusive. In a society that rejects  the notion of objective truth, ours is a monumental claim. We proclaim one way to God - Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When we lay claim to truth in such radical terms, it is imperative that such truth be undergirded by love. If it is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the dogma repulsive. I believe it is vital that we understand this" (Ravi Zacharias). 

2. "We should soak ourselves in the Bible, so that our minds are awash with it - or as C. H. Spurgeon put it, till our blood is "bibline" (J. I . Packer).

3. "If we consider the unblushing promises of rewards in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased" (C. S. Lewis). 

4. "No Christian should be pessimistic. We should be true realists-focused on the reality that we serve a sovereign and gracious God. Because of the reality of Christ's atoning sacrifice and his promises, biblical realism is optimism" (Randy Alcorn).

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are today's offerings ... enjoy!

1. Here is a great interview Justin Taylor does with Kevin DeYoung to promote Kevin's new book, Crazy Busy. 

2. Ed Lewis, a friend of mine and a real blessing to so many in our Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (and beyond!) is a great example of a Christian living ON MISSION. Listen here! 

3. Ed Welch with some interesting thoughts on What is Faith? 

4. Alistair Begg on how we need to respond to Bad News! 

5. John Piper addresses the question, Do We Need Christian Role Models? A great podcast!

6. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Dentist, a Drill and Our God-Given Shape

I just got back from one of my favorite places in all the world . . . and I am not talking about Starbucks! First
thing this morning I had a dentist appointment to fill a cavity. Yea! I just love getting shot up with Novocain so that I have molasses lips for the next couple of hours. And the high pitched sound of the drill ... man that makes my heart soar! And not in a good way!

Now as much as I hate going to the dentist ... I go. Faithfully (well, probably not as faithfully as I should, but then again, who's perfect?). And I go because I know its in my best interest to do so (one look at those denture commercials makes my teeth shudder!). Now that its all done, I must admit it was not all that bad an experience. But at the same time, I am glad that, God willing, my next trip to the dentist won't be until next year!

All that said, I do have a great respect for my dentist (and his entire staff). I cannot imagine working 8 hours a day, five days a week sticking my fingers into the mouths of complete strangers. Yuck. No way! But at the same time I am glad that he and his staff don't mind doing so. Someone has to do it. This can be said about any vocation. People have often said to me, "I sure would not want to do what you do." When that occurs, I simply smile and reassure them that I really love what God has called me to do!

God shapes all of us differently (Ephesians 2:10). He gives us all differing gifts, abilities, passions and experiences. Our responsibility and joy is to use our God-given shape for HIS honor and glory. As we do so, he works through us to advance HIS kingdom! SO . . . how about YOU? Are you using your God-given shape to further HIS agenda?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Can you believe it's Friday already? Yep! So grab that cup of joe (or tea, or  . . . ) and spend a few time thinking on some random thoughts.

1. Where has the concept of submission gone in the evangelical church ... at least here in the United States? The New Testament mentions in several places that we are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) and to those in authority over us (Hebrews 13:17). It seems to me that submission to one another and to authority, especial spiritual authority within the church is something that is rarely taught and even more rarely practiced. Why, in the light of the teaching of Scripture, is this the case? I see several factors behind this failure. First, the default setting of our fallen humanity is not submission but rather rebellion. We don't want to submit to God because we want to do things our way (Isaiah 53:6). And as we resist God's authority, so we resist earthly authority as well. Add to this the individualism that pervades our American culture, which says you need to be your own man (or woman), standing up your own rights. Finally there's the American democratic process, which has taught us from the time we were able to recite the pledge of allegiance to the American flag (for me this was Kindergarten) that we should all have a say in what happens around us ... and, if we are honest, most of us believe that our say should carry the most weight. Put all this together and you have the perfect setting for Christians to want to do their own thing in their own way. As a result, biblical submission takes a back seat (if its even in the car to begin with!).  Take a moment and reflect on Ephesians 5:22 and Hebrews 13:17. You just might discover that you might have to make some changes (and isn't that how we should always approach our time in the Word?).

2. I love my church family. Having just started my 25th year of ministry here at Grace, I can say that there is no other place I would rather be serving. My staff, my brother elders, and all who are committed to Grace as their church home are people that I have grown to love . . . and to love deeply. Some I have known for all 24 years that I have been privileged to serve here. Others I have just recently come to know. So if you are part of the church family here at Grace, I want you to know that you are loved. By me, yes. But even more so by the God who loved you so much that he sent his only son to take your place upon the cross. That shows how much you matter to God. And I trust my ministry here shows you how much you all matter to me.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday A La Carte

Enjoy this week's offerings ....

1. Desiring God suggests seven ways for busy moms to get into the Word! 

2. In light of our recent summer sermon series (Seven Ordinary People Who Trusted God for the Extraordinary), Michael Horton has some interesting insights on Ordinary Excellence! 

3. Tim Challies weighs in on The Accuser and the Advocate. Good stuff!

4. Ed Welsh on the importance of gratitude in the everyday life of a follower of Jesus.

5. John MacArthur comments on the importance of local church membership. 

6. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Beware of the Madness of Anger!

Jordan Linn Graham was charged this week with the murder (second degree) of her newlywed husband, Cody Johnson to whom she had been married a scant seven days. According to authorities, on July 7th she and Johnson were hiking in Montana's Glacier National Park when they began to argue (Graham claimed she was having "second thoughts" about their marriage). Instead of walking away, Graham informed authorities that in her anger she pushed Johnson face first off a cliff. She then proceeded to report him missing the next day. Johnson's body was discovered three days later. Investigators unraveled her attempt to cover up what had happened . . . and as a result filed the second degree murder charges. 

What a sad and bizarre tale! To go from being a newly married bride to a widow accused of the murder of her own husband - ouch! And all because her anger went unchecked. The Old Testament book of wisdom warns of the dangers of anger when it declares, "A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression." (29:22). All of us could, I am sure, do some work in this area of anger management. So before shaking your head at this Jordan Graham ... perhaps a look into the mirror would be in order. And after you do that, take some time to read this article on how to deal with anger. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Prayer When Tough Times Lay before Us!

This morning in our weekly staff meeting, a prayer was distributed for us to reflect on and pray back to God. The prayer was written by a Puritan from years gone by. His prayer gripped my heart. Here is just an excerpt ... I thought it could benefit a number of you who read my blog. Far too often we think much of ourselves and not nearly enough of Christ. Take a moment ... and make the words of this individual from yesteryear your words as you talk to the Father.

"When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have the ability to do all things. Amen."  (from an unnamed Puritan) 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Hope you are having a solid week as you seek to walk with Jesus! Now, grab your coffee and think on a few things with me.

1. The other night, just before I was to lead our India 2013 team meeting, I thought I should check my passport to be sure that my Indian visa was current (on my second trip to India in 2008, I opted for a long term visa . . . but I could not remember if it was for five or ten years). I was glad to see the year 2018 listed as its expiration date. But then I thought I should take a look at my passport. I was pretty certain I had renewed it in 2006. But nope! I had renewed it in March of 2004. No problem, right? I will be traveling in November of this year and my passport doesn't expire until March 1, 2014. But then I recalled reading somewhere that if your passport expires within 6 months of any international travel, you must renew your passport before departing on your trip. Hmm. So I went to the State Department's passport website and read the following: "If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met."  Sigh . . . onmore thing to add to my never diminishing to do list! So yesterday I took care of it. I sure don't want to be left standing at the gate as my team departs for Mumbai! 

As I thought about this ... I asked myself, "When is an expiration date not an expiration date?"  I guess when it's on your passport! Of course, I understand why this is done. Countries and airlines want to be sure that if your trip somehow gets interrupted and you have to change return dates, that your passport will still be valid! So I get that! But there is ONE expiration date that is set - and that is the date that you and I will one day depart this life for the next! God has numbered our days (Psalm 139:16). So ... in the face of this reality - are YOU ready to meet God?  If you have any question about that, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

2. I was struck by one particular verse that I ran across this week. The verse is Psalm 96:30 and it reads, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving."  In particular, it was the last half of the verse that got me thinking. We can magnify God as we give thanks! And of course, in magnifying God we are putting him on display for others to see! That really got to me. Because my default setting is not being thankful. My default setting is that of complaining (when I take the time to intentionally listen to myself, I find myself complaining far more than I thought possible!). So ... I have determined this week to begin each day with a time of thanksgiving to God. In addition, whenever I catch myself complaining, I immediately confess that to God and replace it with thanks! Will you join me in this effort? Let's stop complaining and start thanking. In the process, God gets magnified and we grow more satisfied! 

And just so you know, I am VERY thankful that I checked my passport's expiration date when I did! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings . . .

1. Having just celebrated the Labor Day holiday, here are some very good thoughts about work.

2. Tim Tebow just got cut .... again. This time it was the New England Patriots. So how should we think about Tebow? Justin Taylor has some thoughts. 

3. In the midst of the tragic turmoil unfolding in Syria, we need to be praying for the church there. Here is one man's prayer. 

4. Listening to a friend. Shouldn't be hard ... yet it often is. Ed Welch gives a brief answer to the question, "How do I listen well as a friend?" 

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some Gators!

Over this past weekend, the Missisippi state record for the largest captured alligator was broken twice! Take a moment to view the video below. The size of these creatures is truly stunning!




Wow! Two 700 pound plus alligators. Don't know what they eat to grow that big, but whatever their diet is, it sure has grown both of them!

How about you ... and your faith? Is your faith growing? Can you honestly say that your faith is stronger than it was a year ago? Six months ago? Or even last week? What are you doing to feed your faith? How much time do you spend in God's Word? In prayer? In ministry for Christ? Engaged in accountable relationships? Telling others about Jesus? My friends, God's will for you is that you would "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). So, make sure your daily diet includes those things that will help you grow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beware of the Sinkhole of Sin!

Sinkholes have been in the news often of late. Predominant in the south, they are still not unheard of in our region. In fact, Pennsylvania is on the list of the states most likely to experience these destructive events of nature (take a moment and watch the video below of a sinkhole doing its thing!).




As I watched this, my mind turned to the destructive nature of something else ... sin! Sin always destroys.  It devours both the inner person and his outer world. How often have you seen a public figure resign from office due to a sinful act(s) of adultery or some sort of embezzlement scheme? What began as a temptation to sin ended up as a "sinkhole" that swallowed up the individual's life.

Friends, sin is subtle. It can sneak up on us and ensnare us. If we give in to it and allow it to continue unchallenged, it will, like the sinkhole in this video, swallow us whole! So, above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) AND be sure that you are engaging in accountable relationships in your life (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Monday, September 30, 2013

Out of Office

I will not be posting this week as I am out of the office enjoying some time away with my wife. "See" you again next week!

But before I sign off ... here is a quote for you to ponder this week:


"Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society's own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender"  (A. W. Tozer, 1897-1963).


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your favorite morning, afternoon or evening beverage of choice and join me for a couple of random
thoughts.

1. Whenever something bad happens in our lives, the Enemy is always quick to whisper in our ear something along the line of "So, God loves you does he? Come on . . . if God REALLY loved you, then would he have allowed this to happen to you?" From the dawn of human history, this has been one of Satan's strategy . . . to get us to doubt God's goodness (see Genesis 3:1-5). But when Satan comes whispering his vicious accusation against our God, we must respond with God's Word (just as Jesus did when tempted by Satan - Matthew 4:1-10). Over and over again the Bible tells us that God is good and faithful (Psalm 107:1; Psalm 36:5; Lamentations 3:22-25). So even when life grows so dark it is tough to see any light, we must, by faith believe that God is near and He has us in HIS hand (Psalm 139:9-11). And there is no better hands to be in than HIS!

2. Jerry Bridges writes much about our pursuit of God and personal holiness. In one of his books, he quotes King David in Psalm 27:4 where David declares, "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."  Here are Bridges' comments on David's stated desire: 


"This is the heartbeat of the godly person. As he contemplates God in the awesomeness of His infinite majesty, power, and holiness, and then as he dwells upon the riches of His mercy and grace poured out at Calvary, his heart is captivated by this One who could love him so. He is satisfied with God alone, but he is never satisfied with his present experience of God. He always yearns for more." 

Oh that God would give us all that kind of a heartbeat! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Helping to Carry Your Burden

Here are a few quotes that I hope will help those who may be, for whatever reason, bearing a heavy burden today:


"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jesus to his disciples in John 16:33).

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (King David in Psalm 27:1). 

"You can be sure of this; your day of trouble will come. Yet, in your trouble, God has not left you alone. What is it that he gives you in your trouble? He gives you himself! He is what will keep you safe"            (Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm).  



Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thanking God for the Comfort He Gives!

In light of the sorrow that our church family is undergoing this week in light of a high school student's sudden death, here is a portion of a prayer by one of my favorite "pray-ers", Scotty Smith. 


"Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast, discouraged or even despairing. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us—you comfort us; for you’re “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Thank you for commanding us to cast our cares on you (1 Pet. 5:7), not to swallow them or pretend like we don’t have any. Thank you for never telling us “buck up” or “get over it.”
And thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you regularly comfort us through your Word, or even in our sleep, quite often you send a Titus or a Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) to a Paul. You love to tell your story through your people. Thank you for well timed emails, visits, hugs, calls, texts—for the friends, family, even angels, you send us. But Father, above all, thank you for the ultimate comfort you’ve given to us by giving Jesus for us. One burden I don’t bear today, or forever, is the weight of my guilt and sin. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!
This very day, help me be honest about my limitations and vulnerable enough to allow others to care for me. And make me sensitive to the needs of others around me today—those up close to me, and those afar. In my weakness I may be more good to them than when I feel “on top of my game.” Who needs a word of comfort from another weary traveler? Show me, Father. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ compassionate name."

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Uninvited Intruder

Intruders. They come in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes they come in human form, other times they crash into our lives as an unwelcome set of circumstances or a tragic event. No matter what they might be ... they are always uninvited.

Over the weekend our church family was impacted by an intruder. A 17 year old student in our youth group died ... suddenly, unexpectantly. His immediate family is devastated by the loss of a son and a brother. Our students are crushed at the loss of a peer and a friend. Our church family hurts for them. And I am angry. That's right . . . I am mad! But, I have no bone to pick with God, for my anger is not directed at him. No, I am mad about sin. SIN ... our rebellion against God. For it is OUR sin that opened the door for the intruder of death to enter our world . . . and eventually our lives (see Romans 5:12 and Romans 6:23). When death pushed open the door of this family's lives over the weekend . . . his intrusion left pain, sorrow and heartache beyond imagination in its wake.

Last night, as a group of us gathered in a circle, many clutching a fistfull of tissues, I talked a bit about how death is so unnatural. It was not part of God's original design for us. No. We brought all of this upon ourselves. But because we were never wired to deal with death, when death intrudes, we hurt. We hurt bad! BUT at the same time GOD tells us that because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, even though death for now still maintains its sting, that's all it is. For we will have the ultimate victory over death as we place our faith and trust in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)!!! As Jesus himself told Mary who had just lost her brother Lazarus to this grim intruder, "I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). 

My friends, do YOU believe this? This young man who passed into eternity did. And he is now in a better place (Philippians 1:23). If you have any questions about how you can be prepared when the intruder of death comes knocking at your door, PLEASE check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We Must All Make. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your morning (or afternoon ... or evening) cup of coffee and read on. This morning, a few quotes from my recent readings for you to dunk into your think tank called a mind! 

1. "We as Christians make a staggering claim: we lay claim to truth that is exclusive. In a society that rejects  the notion of objective truth, ours is a monumental claim. We proclaim one way to God - Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When we lay claim to truth in such radical terms, it is imperative that such truth be undergirded by love. If it is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the dogma repulsive. I believe it is vital that we understand this" (Ravi Zacharias). 

2. "We should soak ourselves in the Bible, so that our minds are awash with it - or as C. H. Spurgeon put it, till our blood is "bibline" (J. I . Packer).

3. "If we consider the unblushing promises of rewards in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased" (C. S. Lewis). 

4. "No Christian should be pessimistic. We should be true realists-focused on the reality that we serve a sovereign and gracious God. Because of the reality of Christ's atoning sacrifice and his promises, biblical realism is optimism" (Randy Alcorn).

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are today's offerings ... enjoy!

1. Here is a great interview Justin Taylor does with Kevin DeYoung to promote Kevin's new book, Crazy Busy. 

2. Ed Lewis, a friend of mine and a real blessing to so many in our Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (and beyond!) is a great example of a Christian living ON MISSION. Listen here! 

3. Ed Welch with some interesting thoughts on What is Faith? 

4. Alistair Begg on how we need to respond to Bad News! 

5. John Piper addresses the question, Do We Need Christian Role Models? A great podcast!

6. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Dentist, a Drill and Our God-Given Shape

I just got back from one of my favorite places in all the world . . . and I am not talking about Starbucks! First
thing this morning I had a dentist appointment to fill a cavity. Yea! I just love getting shot up with Novocain so that I have molasses lips for the next couple of hours. And the high pitched sound of the drill ... man that makes my heart soar! And not in a good way!

Now as much as I hate going to the dentist ... I go. Faithfully (well, probably not as faithfully as I should, but then again, who's perfect?). And I go because I know its in my best interest to do so (one look at those denture commercials makes my teeth shudder!). Now that its all done, I must admit it was not all that bad an experience. But at the same time, I am glad that, God willing, my next trip to the dentist won't be until next year!

All that said, I do have a great respect for my dentist (and his entire staff). I cannot imagine working 8 hours a day, five days a week sticking my fingers into the mouths of complete strangers. Yuck. No way! But at the same time I am glad that he and his staff don't mind doing so. Someone has to do it. This can be said about any vocation. People have often said to me, "I sure would not want to do what you do." When that occurs, I simply smile and reassure them that I really love what God has called me to do!

God shapes all of us differently (Ephesians 2:10). He gives us all differing gifts, abilities, passions and experiences. Our responsibility and joy is to use our God-given shape for HIS honor and glory. As we do so, he works through us to advance HIS kingdom! SO . . . how about YOU? Are you using your God-given shape to further HIS agenda?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Can you believe it's Friday already? Yep! So grab that cup of joe (or tea, or  . . . ) and spend a few time thinking on some random thoughts.

1. Where has the concept of submission gone in the evangelical church ... at least here in the United States? The New Testament mentions in several places that we are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) and to those in authority over us (Hebrews 13:17). It seems to me that submission to one another and to authority, especial spiritual authority within the church is something that is rarely taught and even more rarely practiced. Why, in the light of the teaching of Scripture, is this the case? I see several factors behind this failure. First, the default setting of our fallen humanity is not submission but rather rebellion. We don't want to submit to God because we want to do things our way (Isaiah 53:6). And as we resist God's authority, so we resist earthly authority as well. Add to this the individualism that pervades our American culture, which says you need to be your own man (or woman), standing up your own rights. Finally there's the American democratic process, which has taught us from the time we were able to recite the pledge of allegiance to the American flag (for me this was Kindergarten) that we should all have a say in what happens around us ... and, if we are honest, most of us believe that our say should carry the most weight. Put all this together and you have the perfect setting for Christians to want to do their own thing in their own way. As a result, biblical submission takes a back seat (if its even in the car to begin with!).  Take a moment and reflect on Ephesians 5:22 and Hebrews 13:17. You just might discover that you might have to make some changes (and isn't that how we should always approach our time in the Word?).

2. I love my church family. Having just started my 25th year of ministry here at Grace, I can say that there is no other place I would rather be serving. My staff, my brother elders, and all who are committed to Grace as their church home are people that I have grown to love . . . and to love deeply. Some I have known for all 24 years that I have been privileged to serve here. Others I have just recently come to know. So if you are part of the church family here at Grace, I want you to know that you are loved. By me, yes. But even more so by the God who loved you so much that he sent his only son to take your place upon the cross. That shows how much you matter to God. And I trust my ministry here shows you how much you all matter to me.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday A La Carte

Enjoy this week's offerings ....

1. Desiring God suggests seven ways for busy moms to get into the Word! 

2. In light of our recent summer sermon series (Seven Ordinary People Who Trusted God for the Extraordinary), Michael Horton has some interesting insights on Ordinary Excellence! 

3. Tim Challies weighs in on The Accuser and the Advocate. Good stuff!

4. Ed Welsh on the importance of gratitude in the everyday life of a follower of Jesus.

5. John MacArthur comments on the importance of local church membership. 

6. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Beware of the Madness of Anger!

Jordan Linn Graham was charged this week with the murder (second degree) of her newlywed husband, Cody Johnson to whom she had been married a scant seven days. According to authorities, on July 7th she and Johnson were hiking in Montana's Glacier National Park when they began to argue (Graham claimed she was having "second thoughts" about their marriage). Instead of walking away, Graham informed authorities that in her anger she pushed Johnson face first off a cliff. She then proceeded to report him missing the next day. Johnson's body was discovered three days later. Investigators unraveled her attempt to cover up what had happened . . . and as a result filed the second degree murder charges. 

What a sad and bizarre tale! To go from being a newly married bride to a widow accused of the murder of her own husband - ouch! And all because her anger went unchecked. The Old Testament book of wisdom warns of the dangers of anger when it declares, "A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression." (29:22). All of us could, I am sure, do some work in this area of anger management. So before shaking your head at this Jordan Graham ... perhaps a look into the mirror would be in order. And after you do that, take some time to read this article on how to deal with anger. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Prayer When Tough Times Lay before Us!

This morning in our weekly staff meeting, a prayer was distributed for us to reflect on and pray back to God. The prayer was written by a Puritan from years gone by. His prayer gripped my heart. Here is just an excerpt ... I thought it could benefit a number of you who read my blog. Far too often we think much of ourselves and not nearly enough of Christ. Take a moment ... and make the words of this individual from yesteryear your words as you talk to the Father.

"When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have the ability to do all things. Amen."  (from an unnamed Puritan) 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Hope you are having a solid week as you seek to walk with Jesus! Now, grab your coffee and think on a few things with me.

1. The other night, just before I was to lead our India 2013 team meeting, I thought I should check my passport to be sure that my Indian visa was current (on my second trip to India in 2008, I opted for a long term visa . . . but I could not remember if it was for five or ten years). I was glad to see the year 2018 listed as its expiration date. But then I thought I should take a look at my passport. I was pretty certain I had renewed it in 2006. But nope! I had renewed it in March of 2004. No problem, right? I will be traveling in November of this year and my passport doesn't expire until March 1, 2014. But then I recalled reading somewhere that if your passport expires within 6 months of any international travel, you must renew your passport before departing on your trip. Hmm. So I went to the State Department's passport website and read the following: "If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met."  Sigh . . . onmore thing to add to my never diminishing to do list! So yesterday I took care of it. I sure don't want to be left standing at the gate as my team departs for Mumbai! 

As I thought about this ... I asked myself, "When is an expiration date not an expiration date?"  I guess when it's on your passport! Of course, I understand why this is done. Countries and airlines want to be sure that if your trip somehow gets interrupted and you have to change return dates, that your passport will still be valid! So I get that! But there is ONE expiration date that is set - and that is the date that you and I will one day depart this life for the next! God has numbered our days (Psalm 139:16). So ... in the face of this reality - are YOU ready to meet God?  If you have any question about that, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

2. I was struck by one particular verse that I ran across this week. The verse is Psalm 96:30 and it reads, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving."  In particular, it was the last half of the verse that got me thinking. We can magnify God as we give thanks! And of course, in magnifying God we are putting him on display for others to see! That really got to me. Because my default setting is not being thankful. My default setting is that of complaining (when I take the time to intentionally listen to myself, I find myself complaining far more than I thought possible!). So ... I have determined this week to begin each day with a time of thanksgiving to God. In addition, whenever I catch myself complaining, I immediately confess that to God and replace it with thanks! Will you join me in this effort? Let's stop complaining and start thanking. In the process, God gets magnified and we grow more satisfied! 

And just so you know, I am VERY thankful that I checked my passport's expiration date when I did! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings . . .

1. Having just celebrated the Labor Day holiday, here are some very good thoughts about work.

2. Tim Tebow just got cut .... again. This time it was the New England Patriots. So how should we think about Tebow? Justin Taylor has some thoughts. 

3. In the midst of the tragic turmoil unfolding in Syria, we need to be praying for the church there. Here is one man's prayer. 

4. Listening to a friend. Shouldn't be hard ... yet it often is. Ed Welch gives a brief answer to the question, "How do I listen well as a friend?" 

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some Gators!

Over this past weekend, the Missisippi state record for the largest captured alligator was broken twice! Take a moment to view the video below. The size of these creatures is truly stunning!




Wow! Two 700 pound plus alligators. Don't know what they eat to grow that big, but whatever their diet is, it sure has grown both of them!

How about you ... and your faith? Is your faith growing? Can you honestly say that your faith is stronger than it was a year ago? Six months ago? Or even last week? What are you doing to feed your faith? How much time do you spend in God's Word? In prayer? In ministry for Christ? Engaged in accountable relationships? Telling others about Jesus? My friends, God's will for you is that you would "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). So, make sure your daily diet includes those things that will help you grow!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beware of the Sinkhole of Sin!

Sinkholes have been in the news often of late. Predominant in the south, they are still not unheard of in our region. In fact, Pennsylvania is on the list of the states most likely to experience these destructive events of nature (take a moment and watch the video below of a sinkhole doing its thing!).




As I watched this, my mind turned to the destructive nature of something else ... sin! Sin always destroys.  It devours both the inner person and his outer world. How often have you seen a public figure resign from office due to a sinful act(s) of adultery or some sort of embezzlement scheme? What began as a temptation to sin ended up as a "sinkhole" that swallowed up the individual's life.

Friends, sin is subtle. It can sneak up on us and ensnare us. If we give in to it and allow it to continue unchallenged, it will, like the sinkhole in this video, swallow us whole! So, above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) AND be sure that you are engaging in accountable relationships in your life (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13).

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.