PJ

PJ

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings. I hope you find something that will help you in your journey of grace!

1. John Piper encourages parents to require obedience of the children. Excellent stuff!

2. Tim Challies shares 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids AND 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Wife. If you are a parent or a husband ... or both, you need to read what he has to say!

3. Did you ever wonder how God views people? Mike Emlet from CCEF answers this question in this brief video clip. 

4. As we stand on the threshold of the month of November, here is a brief devotional from Alistair Begg on the Importance of Thanksgiving. 

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Busy Doing Nothing?

I don’t know about you, but I love the cartoon family of Bill Keane. Perhaps it is because his “keane” sense of humor is much more keen than mine! In one of my favorite Family Circus cartoons, little Billy and his younger brother are watching squirrels scampering about gathering acorns from the ground.  Billy says to his brother, “Look at those squirrels. They’re real busy and they have nuttin’ to do!”

How many of us are real busy doing “nuttin?” We scurry from one activity to the next while accomplishing little if anything for God and His Kingdom. I encourage you to take some time out and evaluate your life.  Time is too valuable a resource to waste. Let’s seize the moment and live it for Jesus! Before your time of evaluation pray these words: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day!),


Pastor John 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Being Relevant

I hear and read a lot these days about the need for the church (and Christians) to be “culturally relevant.”  The dictionary defines the word “relevant” as “having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.” In effect, to be culturally relevant is to have a bearing on or a connection with our culture.  This means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  Many, I am afraid, in the pursuit of cultural relevancy have emphasized the wrong things and lost sight of the main thing.  (Are you with me?) 

My approach to the Christian life is the K.I.S.S. approach (Keep It Simple Smitty). So as I consider the need to be culturally relevant (and it is a need – no one will give us a hearing if we walk around acting and looking like Yoda from Star Wars!), I believe it boils down to the main thing. If we pursue this main thing – we will ALWAYS be “culturally relevant.” So just what is this “Main Thing?”  We find it in Matthew 22. Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in God’s Law (The Jews believed there were 613 of them!).  In Jesus’ response we find what I believe is the main thing.  If we practice this main thing – we WILL be relevant. Listen to what Jesus said about the greatest commandment: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  (Matthew 22:37-39)   

So there you have it.  Do you want to be “culturally relevant?”  Do you want to have a bearing on and a connection with the people around you?  Learn to love God with all you are and have – AND love the people in your life as you love yourself.  As you do this – God will work through you to impact your world. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

 PJ 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Due to being away the first three days of this week at our fellowship of churches, East Focus Retreat (held in Ocean City, MD - click on link for photos of which I am in a couple), I have no random thoughts to share with you this week. In fact my only thought is that I have to get a sermon ready ... because it's Friday and Sunday's coming! But ... here is a quote for you from Pastor Tim Hodge of Grace Family Church in New Holland, PA.  "Chew" on this as you begin later today to enjoy a (I trust) well-deserved weekend break from your job!

"While happiness is desirable, holiness is essential. There will be times when you feel like Elijah in the desert seated under the broom tree lamenting of your lonely stance. Know that in the times when you feel at your worst, God is working at his best" (Tim Hodge).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life Boringly Ordinary?

In the first chapter of his book, Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, author James Hamilton writes these compelling words:

"We have been lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of our lives. Our senses have been dulled by the humdrum of one day after another. We need to see God as he is. We need to be convinced that Jesus is reigning as the risen King. We need to have him speak to the situation in our churches. We need to know that God is right now on his throne, in control in Heaven, worshiped by myriads upon myriads of the heavenly host. We need to see the way that God will pulverize wickedness, obliterate those who oppose him, and set up his kingdom. The Book of Revelation has exactly what we need."

If you find yourself being "lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of your life," then you need to pick up your Bible, open to Revelation, the Bible's final book. In this book of tomorrow, you will find much hope for today. And if you really want to dig deeper as you read, check out this online commentary. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Talk that Drains!

Sometimes what I read in the newspaper makes me laugh – or cry – or both.  Other times I find myself grimacing, as when I read the following: "Some psychological experts say folks who whine and complain all the time can suck the energy and health out of those around them." Come now.  Do we really need psychological experts to tell us that?  All of us know people whose native tongue is whine-ish or gripe-eese.  Spend enough time around these people and when you walk away you feel like you’ve been run over by a bus (or at the very least a large SUV!). So when we see these people coming our way, we usually do our best to duck out of their way! But I think we can learn a valuable lesson from the whiners and gripers in our lives.

When we  talk, we must watch the tone and content of our words.  Negative talk (griping, complaining, sarcasm, etc.) will tend to discourage and dishearten those who hear (ala the bus or large SUV).  On the other hand, positive talk (kind, thankful, encouraging, etc.) will build up those who hear.  Let’s purpose to be a blessing to those around us today.  But this is not easy.  Our tongues seem more prone to grumble than express thanks.  We need help.  In fact, we need supernatural help – and lots of it.  So let’s get in the habit of praying the following to God each day “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalms 141:3).  It is so easy to be negative, isn’t it?  That’s why we need His help!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Monday, October 21, 2013

God Always Gets It Right!

Thomas Watson was the chairman of IBM from 1920’s into the 1950’s.  He grew IBM into an international giant.  At the time of his death in 1956 he was one of the richest men in the world and was called the world’s greatest salesman.  Here is a quote from this very successful business man:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Did he get it right? Sorry, Tom ... but you blew that assessment! But God – on the other hand – always gets it right!  And in the Bible he reveals to us all that we need to know about him … about ourselves  .. about life – both here on earth and for all eternity!

Sometime this week, pull out your Bible and read through Psalm 119:1-175. It will give you a fresh perspective on just how valuable the Bible really is! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday means ..... COFFEE!!!! Well, at least for me. Of course, any day is coffee day for me! :) Here are
some random thoughts for you to "chew on!"

1. With all the talk of the government shutdown and the debt ceiling (and I hope, since I am writing this on Wednesday that these things will be settled by the time this post goes "live!"), I am grateful for two things. First, that heaven will never "shut down!" Our God, who is on his throne is still ruling from that throne and will always do so. If you need a good reminder of this, take some time and read through the book of Revelation. Circle each time the word "throne" appears. You will be encouraged, I am sure! Secondly, I thank God that there is no debt ceiling on what Christ's sacrifice will pay in regard to the debt of our sin. Every single sin we have ever or will ever commit has been totally paid for! Praise God for his AMAZING grace!

2. The situation in the Central African Republic continues to be bad .... especially for Christians (see World Magazine dispatch on how Islamists are continuing to target Christians). Please pray for our brothers and sisters in this impoverished, war-torn country. And pray specifically for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. Thanks!

3. Here is a great quote that I ran across recently that should bring much encouragement to your heart and soul. It is from Michael Chase's book, Behold Our Sovereign God: All Things From Him, Through Him, and To Him.

"The reason for keeping the cross central is this hope: if God ordained the worst evil to bring about the greatest good, then lesser evils are not beyond his decree or his ability to work good from them." 

Amen! Well said ... let's always keep this truth in mind. Especially when the tough times roll!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's a la carte menu items. "Eat hearty!"

1. For those of us who like to complain about our lives ... perhaps we need to take a look at this brief video and read the accompanying article. 

2. We spend so much time communicating ... either in person, over the phone, via email or texting. So, what does the Bible have to say about how we communicate? Check out the answer to that question here!

3. Kevin DeYoung with, A Friend of Sinners and Not a Friend of Sin. A good read!


4. Ed Welsh weights in on the Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety. 

5. I like what Kathleen Nielson has to say about grandparenting in her article, Grandparenting: A Great Road Trip. 

6. And on a lighter note (especially for you Hobbit fans out there!) . . .

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Unanswered Calls in Heaven!

The other day, my wife Sharon and I ran some errands together. After pulling into the shopping center's parking lot, I headed to the pharmacy to fill a prescription and she to the grocery store. Since I was just planning to drop my prescription off and pick it up the next day, I told her I would quickly catch up with her in the supermarket. But that changed when the pharmacy tech told me that they could have my prescription filled in just ten minutes or so. Deciding I would rather wait than make a trip back the next day, I reached for my cell phone to call my wife. All I was able to get was her voice mail. "She didn't bring her cell phone!" was the thought that ran through my mind ... and sure enough ... that's exactly what happened. All this reminded me of another account (true story!) of an unanswered cell phone.

One spring, a family was driving to Florida. They decided to drive through the night. Mom took a cat nap early on while Dad drove. When it came her turn to drive about 2 AM or so, they stopped to gas up. Mom also took the opportunity to purchase a large cup of coffee. Sure enough – the coffee really PERKED her up. She had no problem staying awake and alert at the wheel. As the sky began to brighten with the dawn's first light, her empty stomach reminded her that an early breakfast was in order. So she woke up the kids and told them to wake up Dad in the back of the van. A few moments later, one of her kids responded, “Mom, Dad is not back here!”  It seems that Dad was about 200 miles behind, still at the gas station where they stopped. And since Mom had her cell phone off – he could not get a hold of her!  

Friends, even though we may fail to answer the calls people place to us (either by choice or by not having our phones on or even with us) - there is SOMEONE who will never fail to answer when we call. That's right. God has promised in his word that when we call to him he will answer ... always and forever (Matthew 7:7-11; John 15:7; 1 John 5:15). Now that answer may not be the one we are looking for ... but since he always knows what's best, we need to learn to accept his answers with faith, believing them to be for our good and for his glory. So, the next time you pray to God, be assured he hears you AND he will answer you - all in accord with his infinite wisdom, power and love! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What? More Change?

Change is a constant in our lives. Our bodies change (of which I am reminded every time I engage in a physical activity - my body screams at me "I am NOT as young as I once was!"). Our families change. Our work situations change. Our friendships change. Our neighborhoods change. Our world changes. But as I was reminded in my devotional time this morning, God NEVER changes (Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6). He is THE only constant that is always present in our lives. He is THE only non-negotiable.

So as we travel on this journey we call life, immersed in a sea of never-ending change, pause . . . and pause often ... to remind yourself that the God who loved you enough to die for you ... is ALWAYS by your side. His eye is ever watching (Proverbs 25:3) ... his hand is always gripping (Psalm 139:10) - YOU! And that, my friend, will NEVER change!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

After missing my weekly coffee with you last week, I am more than ready to share some random type thoughts with any of you with time to stop and listen.

1. So many of us struggle with our prayer lives. By that I mean that most of us, if really honest, would have to admit we don't pray nearly enough. I admit that's definitely true of my life. And there are many reasons for this lack of prayer: life's busy routines, the distraction of the world, the influence of our enemy who certainly does not want to see God's people on their knees before God . . . . and the list could go on and on and on. So to help me "pray better and pray more," I am always looking for any helpful tool which will help me do so. One such resource is a book by Ken Boa titled, Handbook to Prayer: Praying the Scripture Back to God. This handbook has helped me to become more consistent ... AND ... more God-centered in my praying. I highly recommend any of Boa's books on prayer. It's really, really good stuff!


2. When it comes to the practice of meditating on Scripture, I believe the Puritans had a huge leg up in this arena over what most Christians today call meditating on the Word.

"Puritan meditation engages the mind with God’s revealed truth in order to inflame the heart with affections towards God and transform the life unto obedience. Thomas Hooker defined it like this: 'Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.' The direction of our minds reveals the truest love of our hearts, and so, Hooker said, he who loves God’s Word meditates on it regularly (Psalm 119:97). Therefore, Puritan meditation is not repeating a sound, emptying the mind, or imagining physical sights and sensations, but a focused exercise of thought and faith upon the Word of God" (Dr. Joel Beeke, author of the acclaimed book, Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life).

Wow! That first sentence says it all. Oh that I would meditate on God's Word to inflame my heart and transform my life!


3. The rain that is falling from the clouds as I write this post brings to mind what God has to say about His word. In Isaiah 55:10-12 God likens the His word to rain or snow. These forms of precipitation water the soil so that crops and trees and grass can grow. And so with the Bible. It WILL do the same, bringing forth growth as it waters our souls and hearts. In fact, God makes the incredible promise that His word will not return to him EMPTY or UNPRODUCTIVE. Rather the Scripture will accomplish God's will in our lives. Given this truth ... what's keeping YOU from the Bible?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings ...

1. Tim Challies offers up some advice on growing a Porn Free Family. 

2. Do you feel like you make a mess of a lot of stuff? Paul Tripp reminds us of one thing that we could never destroy. 

3. One of my favorite theological "mentors" R.C. Sproul writes, "If It Be Your Will" A great (and needed) read!

4. A great reminder that we can ill afford to stop praying ... even when it seems like we are merely talking to the ceiling!

5.  Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church in Manhattan ... offers up comments about the church and homoxexuality. Well worth your time!

6. And on a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The House that Mickey Built

"It all started with a mouse." Words spoken by the founder of the Disney empire, Walt Disney (hear for your self in this brief video clip):





Looking at all that Disney has become, it is hard to believe that Walt's early ventures included bankruptcy and failure. But thanks to this mouse named Mickey, Walt's last name has become magical to kids of all ages.

Last week, my wife and I spent a week at Disney World along with our oldest daughter and family. Prior to this visit, my experience at Disney had been a four hour visit to the Magic Kingdom while on chorale tour during spring break of my freshman year (when the Magic Kingdom WAS Disney World!). We also spent a full day at Magic Kingdom in the early 1990's with our children. So spending all that time at Disney was a real eye opener ... and a boat-load of fun!

The sheer size of the place astounded me! Did you know that Disney World covers over 30,000 acres? And did you know that Disney World employs over 60,000 people making it the country's largest single-site employer? And speaking of people, over 40 million visitors enter the Disney theme parks each year! And to think this all started with a mouse!

But as great as this "house that Mickey built" might be ... the Scripture speaks of a far greater house. In Hebrews 3:1-5, the writer makes reference to "God's house" which he goes on to identify as the church of Jesus Christ. This house, my friends, built by God himself upon the blood of His own Son and our Savior, is not yet complete. When God nails the final shingle on the roof, so to speak, his "house" will gloriously shine long after the house that Mickey built has crumbled into dust.

I am so thankful that God has seen fit to set his love upon me and call me into his household! How about you? When the magic of Disney is long done, where will you be spending eternity? I know that's a heavy question ... but it is an urgent one. One that you must face, seeing that all of us will one day die and after that face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

I encourage you to check out Two Ways to Live: A Choice We All Face.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

God Is at Work in Israel!

For the past fifteen years or so, I have served on the board of Hebrew Christian Fellowship.  During that time, I have often been amazed at how God is at work in that predominantly Jewish land. I have posted below a brief devotional by a friend of mine, David Salinger. David, a messianic Jew, is on the staff of Israel College of the Bible located in Netanya, Israel. I encourage you to take the four minutes required to view the video. It will be time well spent!




Thanks for stopping by . .
 pj

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings. I hope you find something that will help you in your journey of grace!

1. John Piper encourages parents to require obedience of the children. Excellent stuff!

2. Tim Challies shares 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids AND 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Wife. If you are a parent or a husband ... or both, you need to read what he has to say!

3. Did you ever wonder how God views people? Mike Emlet from CCEF answers this question in this brief video clip. 

4. As we stand on the threshold of the month of November, here is a brief devotional from Alistair Begg on the Importance of Thanksgiving. 

5. On a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Busy Doing Nothing?

I don’t know about you, but I love the cartoon family of Bill Keane. Perhaps it is because his “keane” sense of humor is much more keen than mine! In one of my favorite Family Circus cartoons, little Billy and his younger brother are watching squirrels scampering about gathering acorns from the ground.  Billy says to his brother, “Look at those squirrels. They’re real busy and they have nuttin’ to do!”

How many of us are real busy doing “nuttin?” We scurry from one activity to the next while accomplishing little if anything for God and His Kingdom. I encourage you to take some time out and evaluate your life.  Time is too valuable a resource to waste. Let’s seize the moment and live it for Jesus! Before your time of evaluation pray these words: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day!),


Pastor John 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Being Relevant

I hear and read a lot these days about the need for the church (and Christians) to be “culturally relevant.”  The dictionary defines the word “relevant” as “having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.” In effect, to be culturally relevant is to have a bearing on or a connection with our culture.  This means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  Many, I am afraid, in the pursuit of cultural relevancy have emphasized the wrong things and lost sight of the main thing.  (Are you with me?) 

My approach to the Christian life is the K.I.S.S. approach (Keep It Simple Smitty). So as I consider the need to be culturally relevant (and it is a need – no one will give us a hearing if we walk around acting and looking like Yoda from Star Wars!), I believe it boils down to the main thing. If we pursue this main thing – we will ALWAYS be “culturally relevant.” So just what is this “Main Thing?”  We find it in Matthew 22. Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in God’s Law (The Jews believed there were 613 of them!).  In Jesus’ response we find what I believe is the main thing.  If we practice this main thing – we WILL be relevant. Listen to what Jesus said about the greatest commandment: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"  (Matthew 22:37-39)   

So there you have it.  Do you want to be “culturally relevant?”  Do you want to have a bearing on and a connection with the people around you?  Learn to love God with all you are and have – AND love the people in your life as you love yourself.  As you do this – God will work through you to impact your world. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

 PJ 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Due to being away the first three days of this week at our fellowship of churches, East Focus Retreat (held in Ocean City, MD - click on link for photos of which I am in a couple), I have no random thoughts to share with you this week. In fact my only thought is that I have to get a sermon ready ... because it's Friday and Sunday's coming! But ... here is a quote for you from Pastor Tim Hodge of Grace Family Church in New Holland, PA.  "Chew" on this as you begin later today to enjoy a (I trust) well-deserved weekend break from your job!

"While happiness is desirable, holiness is essential. There will be times when you feel like Elijah in the desert seated under the broom tree lamenting of your lonely stance. Know that in the times when you feel at your worst, God is working at his best" (Tim Hodge).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life Boringly Ordinary?

In the first chapter of his book, Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, author James Hamilton writes these compelling words:

"We have been lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of our lives. Our senses have been dulled by the humdrum of one day after another. We need to see God as he is. We need to be convinced that Jesus is reigning as the risen King. We need to have him speak to the situation in our churches. We need to know that God is right now on his throne, in control in Heaven, worshiped by myriads upon myriads of the heavenly host. We need to see the way that God will pulverize wickedness, obliterate those who oppose him, and set up his kingdom. The Book of Revelation has exactly what we need."

If you find yourself being "lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of your life," then you need to pick up your Bible, open to Revelation, the Bible's final book. In this book of tomorrow, you will find much hope for today. And if you really want to dig deeper as you read, check out this online commentary. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Talk that Drains!

Sometimes what I read in the newspaper makes me laugh – or cry – or both.  Other times I find myself grimacing, as when I read the following: "Some psychological experts say folks who whine and complain all the time can suck the energy and health out of those around them." Come now.  Do we really need psychological experts to tell us that?  All of us know people whose native tongue is whine-ish or gripe-eese.  Spend enough time around these people and when you walk away you feel like you’ve been run over by a bus (or at the very least a large SUV!). So when we see these people coming our way, we usually do our best to duck out of their way! But I think we can learn a valuable lesson from the whiners and gripers in our lives.

When we  talk, we must watch the tone and content of our words.  Negative talk (griping, complaining, sarcasm, etc.) will tend to discourage and dishearten those who hear (ala the bus or large SUV).  On the other hand, positive talk (kind, thankful, encouraging, etc.) will build up those who hear.  Let’s purpose to be a blessing to those around us today.  But this is not easy.  Our tongues seem more prone to grumble than express thanks.  We need help.  In fact, we need supernatural help – and lots of it.  So let’s get in the habit of praying the following to God each day “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalms 141:3).  It is so easy to be negative, isn’t it?  That’s why we need His help!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Monday, October 21, 2013

God Always Gets It Right!

Thomas Watson was the chairman of IBM from 1920’s into the 1950’s.  He grew IBM into an international giant.  At the time of his death in 1956 he was one of the richest men in the world and was called the world’s greatest salesman.  Here is a quote from this very successful business man:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Did he get it right? Sorry, Tom ... but you blew that assessment! But God – on the other hand – always gets it right!  And in the Bible he reveals to us all that we need to know about him … about ourselves  .. about life – both here on earth and for all eternity!

Sometime this week, pull out your Bible and read through Psalm 119:1-175. It will give you a fresh perspective on just how valuable the Bible really is! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday means ..... COFFEE!!!! Well, at least for me. Of course, any day is coffee day for me! :) Here are
some random thoughts for you to "chew on!"

1. With all the talk of the government shutdown and the debt ceiling (and I hope, since I am writing this on Wednesday that these things will be settled by the time this post goes "live!"), I am grateful for two things. First, that heaven will never "shut down!" Our God, who is on his throne is still ruling from that throne and will always do so. If you need a good reminder of this, take some time and read through the book of Revelation. Circle each time the word "throne" appears. You will be encouraged, I am sure! Secondly, I thank God that there is no debt ceiling on what Christ's sacrifice will pay in regard to the debt of our sin. Every single sin we have ever or will ever commit has been totally paid for! Praise God for his AMAZING grace!

2. The situation in the Central African Republic continues to be bad .... especially for Christians (see World Magazine dispatch on how Islamists are continuing to target Christians). Please pray for our brothers and sisters in this impoverished, war-torn country. And pray specifically for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. Thanks!

3. Here is a great quote that I ran across recently that should bring much encouragement to your heart and soul. It is from Michael Chase's book, Behold Our Sovereign God: All Things From Him, Through Him, and To Him.

"The reason for keeping the cross central is this hope: if God ordained the worst evil to bring about the greatest good, then lesser evils are not beyond his decree or his ability to work good from them." 

Amen! Well said ... let's always keep this truth in mind. Especially when the tough times roll!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's a la carte menu items. "Eat hearty!"

1. For those of us who like to complain about our lives ... perhaps we need to take a look at this brief video and read the accompanying article. 

2. We spend so much time communicating ... either in person, over the phone, via email or texting. So, what does the Bible have to say about how we communicate? Check out the answer to that question here!

3. Kevin DeYoung with, A Friend of Sinners and Not a Friend of Sin. A good read!


4. Ed Welsh weights in on the Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety. 

5. I like what Kathleen Nielson has to say about grandparenting in her article, Grandparenting: A Great Road Trip. 

6. And on a lighter note (especially for you Hobbit fans out there!) . . .

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Unanswered Calls in Heaven!

The other day, my wife Sharon and I ran some errands together. After pulling into the shopping center's parking lot, I headed to the pharmacy to fill a prescription and she to the grocery store. Since I was just planning to drop my prescription off and pick it up the next day, I told her I would quickly catch up with her in the supermarket. But that changed when the pharmacy tech told me that they could have my prescription filled in just ten minutes or so. Deciding I would rather wait than make a trip back the next day, I reached for my cell phone to call my wife. All I was able to get was her voice mail. "She didn't bring her cell phone!" was the thought that ran through my mind ... and sure enough ... that's exactly what happened. All this reminded me of another account (true story!) of an unanswered cell phone.

One spring, a family was driving to Florida. They decided to drive through the night. Mom took a cat nap early on while Dad drove. When it came her turn to drive about 2 AM or so, they stopped to gas up. Mom also took the opportunity to purchase a large cup of coffee. Sure enough – the coffee really PERKED her up. She had no problem staying awake and alert at the wheel. As the sky began to brighten with the dawn's first light, her empty stomach reminded her that an early breakfast was in order. So she woke up the kids and told them to wake up Dad in the back of the van. A few moments later, one of her kids responded, “Mom, Dad is not back here!”  It seems that Dad was about 200 miles behind, still at the gas station where they stopped. And since Mom had her cell phone off – he could not get a hold of her!  

Friends, even though we may fail to answer the calls people place to us (either by choice or by not having our phones on or even with us) - there is SOMEONE who will never fail to answer when we call. That's right. God has promised in his word that when we call to him he will answer ... always and forever (Matthew 7:7-11; John 15:7; 1 John 5:15). Now that answer may not be the one we are looking for ... but since he always knows what's best, we need to learn to accept his answers with faith, believing them to be for our good and for his glory. So, the next time you pray to God, be assured he hears you AND he will answer you - all in accord with his infinite wisdom, power and love! 


Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What? More Change?

Change is a constant in our lives. Our bodies change (of which I am reminded every time I engage in a physical activity - my body screams at me "I am NOT as young as I once was!"). Our families change. Our work situations change. Our friendships change. Our neighborhoods change. Our world changes. But as I was reminded in my devotional time this morning, God NEVER changes (Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6). He is THE only constant that is always present in our lives. He is THE only non-negotiable.

So as we travel on this journey we call life, immersed in a sea of never-ending change, pause . . . and pause often ... to remind yourself that the God who loved you enough to die for you ... is ALWAYS by your side. His eye is ever watching (Proverbs 25:3) ... his hand is always gripping (Psalm 139:10) - YOU! And that, my friend, will NEVER change!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Coffee with PJ

After missing my weekly coffee with you last week, I am more than ready to share some random type thoughts with any of you with time to stop and listen.

1. So many of us struggle with our prayer lives. By that I mean that most of us, if really honest, would have to admit we don't pray nearly enough. I admit that's definitely true of my life. And there are many reasons for this lack of prayer: life's busy routines, the distraction of the world, the influence of our enemy who certainly does not want to see God's people on their knees before God . . . . and the list could go on and on and on. So to help me "pray better and pray more," I am always looking for any helpful tool which will help me do so. One such resource is a book by Ken Boa titled, Handbook to Prayer: Praying the Scripture Back to God. This handbook has helped me to become more consistent ... AND ... more God-centered in my praying. I highly recommend any of Boa's books on prayer. It's really, really good stuff!


2. When it comes to the practice of meditating on Scripture, I believe the Puritans had a huge leg up in this arena over what most Christians today call meditating on the Word.

"Puritan meditation engages the mind with God’s revealed truth in order to inflame the heart with affections towards God and transform the life unto obedience. Thomas Hooker defined it like this: 'Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.' The direction of our minds reveals the truest love of our hearts, and so, Hooker said, he who loves God’s Word meditates on it regularly (Psalm 119:97). Therefore, Puritan meditation is not repeating a sound, emptying the mind, or imagining physical sights and sensations, but a focused exercise of thought and faith upon the Word of God" (Dr. Joel Beeke, author of the acclaimed book, Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life).

Wow! That first sentence says it all. Oh that I would meditate on God's Word to inflame my heart and transform my life!


3. The rain that is falling from the clouds as I write this post brings to mind what God has to say about His word. In Isaiah 55:10-12 God likens the His word to rain or snow. These forms of precipitation water the soil so that crops and trees and grass can grow. And so with the Bible. It WILL do the same, bringing forth growth as it waters our souls and hearts. In fact, God makes the incredible promise that His word will not return to him EMPTY or UNPRODUCTIVE. Rather the Scripture will accomplish God's will in our lives. Given this truth ... what's keeping YOU from the Bible?

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday A La Carte

Here are this week's offerings ...

1. Tim Challies offers up some advice on growing a Porn Free Family. 

2. Do you feel like you make a mess of a lot of stuff? Paul Tripp reminds us of one thing that we could never destroy. 

3. One of my favorite theological "mentors" R.C. Sproul writes, "If It Be Your Will" A great (and needed) read!

4. A great reminder that we can ill afford to stop praying ... even when it seems like we are merely talking to the ceiling!

5.  Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church in Manhattan ... offers up comments about the church and homoxexuality. Well worth your time!

6. And on a lighter note . . . 

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The House that Mickey Built

"It all started with a mouse." Words spoken by the founder of the Disney empire, Walt Disney (hear for your self in this brief video clip):





Looking at all that Disney has become, it is hard to believe that Walt's early ventures included bankruptcy and failure. But thanks to this mouse named Mickey, Walt's last name has become magical to kids of all ages.

Last week, my wife and I spent a week at Disney World along with our oldest daughter and family. Prior to this visit, my experience at Disney had been a four hour visit to the Magic Kingdom while on chorale tour during spring break of my freshman year (when the Magic Kingdom WAS Disney World!). We also spent a full day at Magic Kingdom in the early 1990's with our children. So spending all that time at Disney was a real eye opener ... and a boat-load of fun!

The sheer size of the place astounded me! Did you know that Disney World covers over 30,000 acres? And did you know that Disney World employs over 60,000 people making it the country's largest single-site employer? And speaking of people, over 40 million visitors enter the Disney theme parks each year! And to think this all started with a mouse!

But as great as this "house that Mickey built" might be ... the Scripture speaks of a far greater house. In Hebrews 3:1-5, the writer makes reference to "God's house" which he goes on to identify as the church of Jesus Christ. This house, my friends, built by God himself upon the blood of His own Son and our Savior, is not yet complete. When God nails the final shingle on the roof, so to speak, his "house" will gloriously shine long after the house that Mickey built has crumbled into dust.

I am so thankful that God has seen fit to set his love upon me and call me into his household! How about you? When the magic of Disney is long done, where will you be spending eternity? I know that's a heavy question ... but it is an urgent one. One that you must face, seeing that all of us will one day die and after that face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

I encourage you to check out Two Ways to Live: A Choice We All Face.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

God Is at Work in Israel!

For the past fifteen years or so, I have served on the board of Hebrew Christian Fellowship.  During that time, I have often been amazed at how God is at work in that predominantly Jewish land. I have posted below a brief devotional by a friend of mine, David Salinger. David, a messianic Jew, is on the staff of Israel College of the Bible located in Netanya, Israel. I encourage you to take the four minutes required to view the video. It will be time well spent!




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.