Showing posts from 2014

Making and Breaking Those Dreaded New Year's Resolutions

As we approach the beginning of a new year, there is something inside of us that awakens to say, "Hey, don't you think it's time to make some changes?" And so many of us will sit down and make a list of goals or resolutions that we are determined to keep (unlike every previous year where we make it to the third week of January at best - and I speak from experience!). So should we just throw out this urge to come up with a list of new year's resolutions? Not at all. But I do think we should approach the process with some good old common sense. So ... here is PJ's common sense approach to making resolutions that stick. 
1. Keep your list short. I suggest you take stock of how your doing by examining each of five major areas of life: physical, intellectual, spiritual, financial, relational. After a good long (and HONEST) look in your mirror, identify one glaring need for improvement in each of these five areas. So ... when you draw up your resolutions, you will…

Twas the Day before Christmas

Twas The Day Before Christmas                            
And deep in my heart Was a compelling desire To dash off to Wal Mart!
But I fought off the urge  And instead opened God’s Book To Luke’s second chapter  Where I took a long look. 
For in Luke chapter two  We hear the angels proclaim A message of peace, hope and joy As they tell how Jesus came.
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth, peace, goodwill to men!”  This is the message of Christmas Day, An indescribable gift from God. Amen! 
Merry Christmas! 
Thanks for stopping by . . .  pj

Christmas Caroling, Inc.

As a youngster growing up in the city of Harrisburg, my friends and I discovered a cool (perhaps I should say cold!) way to make money around the holidays.  I don’t recall how the discovery was made, but I do remember how thrilled we were with it.  We found out that by going door-to-door singing Christmas carols, people would invite us in out of the cold and give us steaming hot chocolate to warm our cold little bodies.  To go along with the hot chocolate, they would offer us a wide array of delicious home-baked Christmas cookies.  And often, as we said our good-byes, they would give us each some money.  Either we looked pretty poor and they felt sorry for us – or they viewed us as cheap holiday entertainment! I must say, we made out pretty well the two Christmas seasons we went caroling!

Last Thursday evening, I was at it again!  Our Life Group caroled at the Presbyterian Home in Quarryville. And again, we made out pretty well.  This time it was not because of the hot chocolate, cooki…

To Lighten Up Your Day

Here are a few "clean" jokes I recently ran across that I thought might bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

About Wedding Attire
A little girl finally got to attend a wedding for the first time. While in the church, the girl asked her mother: “why is the bride dressed in white?” The mother replied to the girl: “because white is the color of happiness and it’s the happiest day of her life today.”
After a little bit, the girl looks up at her mother and says: “But, then why is the groom wearing black?”

About Marriage and Coffee
Shortly after tying the knot, a young married couple started arguing over who should make the coffee. Being a good Christian woman, the wife went to the scriptures for her answer. She said that the Bible specifically stated that men should be the ones to make the coffee.
Puzzled, the husband asked her where in the Bible it said that. Very confidently, the wife opened up her Bible and said: “It’s right here—HEBREWS.”

In Sunday School
During a Sunday school lesson…

A Wonderful Staycation

Last week, I enjoyed a week off. But unlike most of our vacations during which we spend at least some time away from home ... this time we were at home for the entire week.  The reason we took a "staycation" was due to my arm and my wife's knee. That might sound a bit strange. But I had some scheduled physical therapy to go to ... and my wife was scheduled to undergo an MRI on her knee, with a follow up with the orthopedic later in the week (at which she received a cortisone injection and returns for another evaluation in 6 weeks). But in between those health related appointments, we did manage to have a great time of kicking back and getting some down time (and spending some extra "quiet" time with God).

Among other things, we enjoyed one meal with a group of friends and another with my twin brother and his wife. We finished our Christmas shopping while browsing the shops of East Main Street in Lititz. We checked out our son-in-law's new district office (…

Friday Coffee with PJ

I just love the smell of freshly brewed coffee. And when the weather outside is a bit frigid, it tastes all the better! So ... pour yourself a cup of your favorite joe ... and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. This past Tuesday I posted a request for continued prayer for me. But this time it was not about the struggles that I have had with my recovery from my biceps tendon surgery. Rather I was asking for prayer that focused on my walk with God (thanks to those of you who have been praying). Now when my post went live on Tuesday morning, little did I know that I had made a small omission that would have caused a HUGE stir if it had not been caught right away. Here's what happened.

We were in the middle of our staff meeting on Tuesday morning when one of my staffers got a text asking him if it was true that I had committed some sort of moral sin that would disqualify me from my pastoral ministry. Puzzled and a bit stunned, he leaned over to me and told me about the text. I kne…

Please Keep Praying!

Across the course of the past almost three months, I have often asked you to pray for me. These requests have centered on the surgery to repair my torn biceps tendon and the subsequent recovery. Again, I ask you to continue to pray for my recovery as I "keep on keeping on" with the physical therapy.

But this morning, I want to ask you to pray for me concerning my walk with God. No, I have not strayed. I have not fallen into a sin which would disqualify me from continuing in my pastoral ministry. But I do want to walk closer with God. With that in mind, when you think of me, please pray for the following:

1. That I would walk in a greater dependence upon the Holy Spirit's work in my life (Ephesians 5:18-20).

2. That I would push back from the demands of ministry to PRAY (Luke 5:15-16).

3. That I would walk worthy of my calling (Colossians 1:9-10).

4. That I would love my wife as Christ loves His Church (Ephesians 5:25).

5. That I would be the kind of pastor that God desi…

Friday Coffee with PJ - Special Saturday Mid Morning Edition

I am just now finishing up my third (and final) cup of coffee of the morning. If you were looking for this post yesterday, my apologies. I ran out of week before I ran out of work!

1. First, an arm update. I am now up to doing two pound curls with my left arm. Monday, I move up to three! Wow! So things are progressing well, so it seems, with the repair of the biceps tendon. However, it is a different story with my wrist and hand. Not much change in the amount of pain and stiffness. I see the Orthopedic doctor on Tuesday. I would appreciate your prayers. Even though this is making my life hard at times ... I keep reminding myself that my life is still not nearly as hard as what some others are going through AND that, at the end of the day, God is ALWAYS good! Thanks for your prayers!

2. When I was in high school, I sang on year in the school choir. For our holiday concert, we sang the song, "Snow, Snow, When Are You Falling?"For folks in the Buffalo area, that is one questio…

A Broken Tooth and the Providence of God!

As I was chewing on Sunday, I noticed biting down on something unexpectedly hard. A quick inspection revealed that the hard substance was a small piece of one of my teeth! Discouraged that I was going to have to make an unplanned visit to my dentist, I was grateful that I was not in pain.

Now that visit is in the rear view mirror of my life (VERY THANKFUL for that!). The appointment took longer than expected for I had not just one broken tooth ... but two! As the dentist drilled and grinded and scraped and all the other stuff dentists and their assistants do inside one's mouth, I thought, "Wow! forget water boarding. This would be the ultimate method of torture!" I can't tell you how glad I was to walk out of his office! Let's just say when he and his staff wished me a happy Thanksgiving ... I was thanking God that there was not a return trip to his office needed to finish the task!

Now ... what I just said, I said somewhat "tongue in cheek." It is tru…

Friday coffee with PJ

I hope you have your favorite brew of Java ready to sip as I share a few random thoughts with you.

1. If our weather outside is any indicator of the kind of winter we are going to have… I would love to take the first plane south! Yesterday morning as I was watching the news, the weather guy reported that the temperature (not wind chill) was 14 below zero in Denver. That is a whopping 39° below the average low temperature for Denver for this date (avg low is 25°). Now thankfully, as this cold air mass heads are away, it will moderate. So even though it will be cold, it won't be that cold! And perhaps that's how we're going to have to approach this upcoming winter. It may get cold and it may get snowy, but there's always places on this planet that will be colder and will have much more snow! Just saying!  So no matter what difficulty you may be facing in life, remind yourself that you're not alone, and that there are many others who are going through worst circumsta…

You Break It . . . You Buy It!

All of us have seen signs displayed in shops and stores that remind us that if we handle something and manage somehow to break it – then we must buy it.  Most of us would agree that would be the right thing to do.  If you break something in the store – why should the store owner suffer the loss because of your clumsiness?  So yes – you break it – you buy it makes a lot of sense.  But it can prove to be quite pricey, as millionaire Steve Wynn learned.  Several years ago, Wynn sold Picasso’s famous painting, “Dream” to a fellow art collector for 139 million dollars.  In showing the painting to someone in his office just after the sale, he inadvertently poked a silver-dollar sized hole in the canvas with his elbow.  Since he “broke it” – he released the buyer from the purchase.  So in effect, he bought the painting back.  We look at that and would all agree that it was the right thing for him to do.  He broke it – so he bought it!
When I look around at our world – I see a lot of broken…

Friday Coffee with PJ (Health update)

Well, the week got ahead of me again. So instead of Friday morning coffee with PJ this will be a special evening addition. Coffee is just as good at night (decaf) … At least in my book! Enjoy!
People keep asking me how my rehab is coming along in the aftermath of my biceps tendon repair surgery. I have been doing some, but the more aggressive rehab has been a bit delayed by a new development. At my rehab session on Monday, the physical therapist, as he was working with my very stiff wrist, asked me, "was there anything wrong with your wrist before the surgery?" I quickly responded with an emphatic "No!" So I asked him if this degree of wrist stiffness was common with this type of surgery. He told me it was not. So that really got me thinking. So Tuesday morning I called the orthopedic office. I talked with the admin assistant to my doctor, and by the end of the day I had a prescription for a steroid and an appointment to see the doctor today. At that appointment, …

We Must not Forget Our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters!

It is so easy living here in our comfortable affluent country, to forget about those suffering in other parts of the world . . . including those suffering because of their faith in Christ. However, we must not forget them. In fact, God tells us that we are to remember them (Hebrews 13:3). For in remembering them, we can stand with them in prayer, asking God to give them the grace to stand without wavering in their commitment to Christ, even in the face of life-threatening persecution.

Here is a five minute video from The Voice of the Martyrs. It is not an easy video to watch. But standing for Christ is not always easy, especially in other parts of our world. Please take a moment to watch this video ... and then pray for the persecuted church!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's that time of the week again. So go ahead and pour a cup of your favorite Joe. And as you enjoy it, think on these random thoughts.

1. Kaci Hickox is a nurse. But she is not just any nurse. She just may be the most talked about nurse in America right now. If her name doesn't ring a bell let me remind you of who she is. She recently spent time in West Africa treating Ebola patients. Upon arrival back in the states, she was placed in a tent under quarantine for three days at the Newark airport. During that time she went on record as believing her constitutional rights were being violated. Since being released from that quarantine, she has returned to her home in Maine. She is under orders to remain at home. But in a newscast which I saw Wednesday evening, she made it clear in no uncertain terms that she had no intentions of doing so. Even as I am writing this blog post, I just saw an Internet report that she left her home this morning to take a bicycle ride. Now… I am no he…

Maneuvering a Big Load

This morning I watched an extra long 18 wheeler back up and turn around. As the truck drove on its way, I just shook my head and chuckled as I tried to imagine myself at the wheel doing the same. Never happen. I can't even back up and turn my little Nissan around without working up a sweat!

Life is a lot like this. We all have to maneuver big loads at times. The load might consist of health issues (hmm ... I can relate to that one!), financial pressure, relational conflicts ... and the list goes on and on. But always remember ... no matter the load, no matter how big, you do NOT have to carry it alone. God in the person of the Holy Spirit is your constant companion (John 14:16-17), and his shoulders are much broader than yours! So allow him to help you carry whatever it is that is loading you down. Life will be hard at times ... but God will always be good (Psalm 23:6)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday coffee with PJ

I've already enjoyed 2 cups of my favorite brew, and I am considering a third. And it's only 8:00 in the morning. This morning's post will be brief, as I am still moving quite slow as result of my recovery from my surgery five weeks ago. I would appreciate your prayers as I return to the orthopedic surgeon next Tuesday, and then walk across the hall to see the physical therapist. My therapy is supposed to begin "in earnest" this upcoming week (gulp!).

1. One of the keys to personal evangelism is relationship. As one writer states, "Evangelism for most Christians comes, not out of giftedness, but out of relationship." The first key relationship is that of a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. We don't begin to "fish" until we first follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19). The second relationship that has huge implications for evangelism is involvement in a personal way with people who don't know Christ. One look at Jesus and how he related to …

Be Real!

The other day as my wife (a.k.a. "Grammy") was watching our 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Molly. She approached my wife and said, "let's play!" She then went on and said "let's be real." What she was trying to communicate was that whatever she had on her mind to play, she didn't want to just pretend. She wanted to "be real!"

That's good advice for all of us who claim to follow Jesus. We need to be real. Too many of us wear masks which hide the real us from those we encounter. We do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we are ashamed for people to see us for who we really are. At other times we want to impress people and so we pretend to be something that we are not. But what people really need to see is that we are real people. We have real problems, real struggles, real ups and real downs. Yet in the midst of all of that "realness," they need to see our real relationship with Jesus Christ. So… How is your relationsh…

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for stopping by for today's edition of Friday coffee with PJ!

1. Sometimes when I watch the national news on television, or read Internet news reports, I sometimes get the feeling that the media doesn't merely report the news, but in reality makes the news. The hype that is placed upon local and world events can be sometimes overwhelming. Everything is a crisis. And major steps must be taken before tragic consequences ensue. Now, I don't mean to minimize the severity of some of the events going on in our world today. Ebola. The advancement of ISIS. The weakness of the global economy. And the list could go on and on. These are things that we do need to be concerned about. But, we don't have to go into panic mode over them. When I read my Bible, I see that God is sovereign. He is Lord over all. That means all of these things I just mentioned (and the many more that I did not). As the sovereign God (Ephesians 1:19) he has a plan for us and our world. And in some i…

The Posture of True Strength

In one of the many blogs that I read during the week, I ran across the following quote that really got  me thinking: "You and I are only truly living to the degree that we surrender our lives to Jesus. . . . We often associate humility with weakness when in reality declaring our weakness before an Almighty God is the only posture of strength we can take" (Graig Denison). 

I am thinking that Craig may have had the apostle Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 in mind. Or perhaps he was thinking of 1 Peter 5:5-6....or maybe something Isaiah the prophet said in Isaiah 57:15. The point I'm trying to make is this: What Denison wrote about the true posture of strength is consistent with what God tells us in his word. True strength comes our way only as we own up to our weakness and turn to the one who is the pillar of strength. How about you? Are you surrendering yourself to Jesus Christ today? Are you leaning on his strength, realizing that any strength you can conjure up…

Friday coffee with PJ

Well it's that time again to pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee and join me for just a few random type thoughts.

1.  I don't know about you, but I find myself so much more prone to grumble, gripe, and complain than I am to be thankful. Yet I have much more to be thankful for in my life than to complain about. And why is that? The Scripture is clear. The only thing I deserve in life is the judgment of God. I was born a rebel. I continue to sin. And therefore, I deserve God's judgment. However, in his grace and mercy, God has judged my sin and rebellion through the death of his son Jesus Christ! So now I do not have to fear ever facing God's wrath for my sin because Jesus already did so! In addition, God graces me every single day. He gives me life, health, a home, family, sight, hearing, and the list goes on and on and on! The Thanksgiving holiday is a mere seven weeks from today. But let's not wait till Thanksgiving to begin cultivating a thankful heart. …

A Change in Wardrobe

Yesterday was my day off. It was also an "errand" day. Leaving the house about 10:45 in the morning, my wife and I were out and about until we arrived home close to 5pm. Our stops included the physical therapist, the bank, Walmart, Cracker Barrel (for a good old-fashioned lunch at a good old-fashioned price), the Mennonite home (where my mother-in-law resides), and Boscovs department store at the mall. All in all it was a very busy and very productive day!

Now our stops at Walmart and Boscov's were somewhat related. I have had to do a wardrobe readjustment these past couple of weeks. With first a cast and now a brace on my left arm, I have had to alter some t-shirts and sweatshirts to be able to get them on. So the stop at Walmart was to buy an extra large fleece (one which I could more easily pull over my brace) so I could stay warm in these cooler October temperatures. The Boscov stop, enabled me to pick up some very affordable T-shirts and sweatshirts to replace the a…

Pain with a Purpose

Yesterday I had my postop visit with my surgeon. A nurse first removed the cast and the stitches. Everything looked good. Even the surgeons initials which he wrote on my forearm with a purple marker were still visible. Up until yesterday, I really hadn't experienced a whole lot of pain. In fact, the doctor was a bit surprised that I did not take more pain med then I did. So I guess I have something to really be thankful for! However, once the cast was off and they fitted me with my new brace, I started having some pain. And the pain continued off and on throughout the rest of the day and even into this morning. Since I have quite a bit of physical therapy to go through, I'm going to guess that pain will be a rather constant if not welcomed companion of mine for the foreseeable future.

But that's not a bad thing. For starters, I have to get through the pain to find the healing that my arm needs. In addition, God uses pain in our life to refine us and to conform us to the i…

Two Weeks, Two Firsts!

The last two weeks have been quite interesting. In these two weeks I experienced two "firsts" in my life. Many times in my ministry I have traveled to numerous hospitals. I have been in trauma units, intensive care units, preop rooms, postop rooms, regular patient rooms, emergency rooms, and of course many a coffee shop. But never have I been any of these areas of the hospital as a patient. That of course all came to an end two weeks ago!

On the evening of September 9th, I made my first visit to a hospital ER. A rather stubborn kidney stone was the reason for the visit to Lancaster General. I must say I would much rather be on the comfort giving rather than the comfort receiving end of things. This kidney stone episode had the result of postponing my surgery for a week. But finally on September 18th, I got to experience yet another "first" as I was prepped and then went through surgery on my left arm. The staff at LGH did all they could to make it as "pleasan…

Tomorrow's Not Just Thursday ... It's D-Day!

One-hundred and fifty-three days after injuring my left arm, I will finally begin the path toward healing. It was on April 19th that I took advantage of a warm spring Saturday. The mountainous pile of branches left over from the winter's fury had to be broken down and bagged. I had planned to commit about an hour and a half to that task (for I also had the lawn to cut and some other outside things to get done). Not sure if I lost track of time or just got excited to see the pile begin to shrink in size. Whatever the case, I worked too long. The repetitive nature of the task eventually resulted in tearing my distal biceps tendonofmy left arm.So for the past five months I have had varied amounts of pain in my arm ... depending on how I was using it. Even though I am not exactly looking forward to the surgeon doing what he is going to have to do ... I am looking forward to taking this step toward the repair and restoration of my torn tendon in spite of the pain it will bring.

Now my…

Encouragement Needed ... Encouragement Received!

In the last six days I have undergone five tests ... all related to this kidney stone episode that I referenced last week. The two tests I had done yesterday (ultrasound and x-ray) showed no sign of the kidney stone! Yes! So I am now cleared for my surgery, which will take place this coming Thursday morning. I never thought I would be excited to undergo surgery! But it has been a looonnnggg time coming and this extra week of delay has just made the wait seem all the longer!

Yesterday I attended the memorial service for a dear saint. Jeannette served the Lord faithfully for many, many years. Her service, written and planned entirely by Jeannette, was a testimony to God's grace at work in her life. On the back of the program was a prayer she had written back in the 1970's. God spoke to me in a powerful way through a couple of  her lines. Jeanette wrote,

I choose to ... acquiesce in Your will even though I don't always like it, rely on Your promises even when they look imposs…

Friday Coffee with PJ - Yet Another Special Weekend Edition

Yikes! Two weeks in a row I have failed to get my Friday Coffee with PJ post done in time! Last week I blamed it on the holiday. This week I will blame it on the wrestling bout I had with a kidney stone (see Wednesday's post for more details!). So ... as you pour yourself a cup of your favorite weekend morning brew (for me it's the same as Friday - and everyday for that matter!) ... here are couple of random thoughts.

1. I could have very easily gotten bent out of shape over the postponement of this week's surgery. For starters, my arm has been injured since April. Even though it does not hurt all the time, it sure hurts enough. So I would like to take the first big step toward its healing!  In addition, I am not the bravest man this world has ever seen (just put me in a room full of cockroaches and you will see just what I am saying!). Just the thought of a surgeon slicing my forearm makes me faint of head and heart! And finally, the type of repair I am having done invo…

A Journey Unforseen and Unenjoyed!

This past Sunday morning began like most Sunday mornings. I climbed out of bed, shaved, spent a lot of time on my hair, dressed and headed for my office. Little did I know the day would be anything like a routine Sunday morning.

All was proceeding as planned (at least as per my understanding of the plan). But, I didn't know the real plan! As our worship service began, everything took a turn that I had not seen coming! Unknown to me, the church staff had been planning for several months a surprise 25th anniversary celebration (to think I was only 33 when I came as lead pastor at Grace!). It was a day my wife and I will always cherish, knowing that those whom we have ministered to over the years love us as we in turn have (and continue to) love them! So ... many thanks to ALL who came, served, planned, gave, etc. to make the day so special. I trust God was glorified as I know without HIS grace in our lives, we could never have accomplished anything of eternal value in our service f…


D.L. Moody was a man God used in a mighty way. Not because he had money. Not because he had a stellar education (he never progressed past the fifth grade). Not because of family connections (his father, who died when Moody was four, was a poor farmer). No ... God used D.L. Moody because D.L. Moody made himself available to God. In what may be the most well known quotes attributed to Moody, the evangelist described his life's goal:

“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
A look at his life shows that he did his best to live this out. But that does not mean he did not struggle in his lifelong attempt! Below is a graphic containing another Moody quote. This one really resonated with me. I could not have said it better myself about myself! 

Ahh .... thank God for HIS grace the Holy Spirit brings to me. A grace that continues to mold and make me into the image of His Son (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 15:10). 

Friday Coffee with PJ ... Special Weekend Edition

The title of today's blog is my attempt of putting a positive spin on running behind schedule this week. One reason for this is that I actually took two days off (my regular day off on Monday ... and since Monday was a holiday, I relaxed a bit and took Thursday off as well). As a result, I am running about a day late! So ... pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Back on August 28th, celebrity Joan Rivers underwent surgery on her vocal chords. This past Thursday she died from complications of that surgery. Her death, coming on the heels of the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams, reminds us that death will one day come calling for all of us. It doesn't matter how much money or fame one might possess. Death is no respecter of persons. The Bible makes it clear that all of us will one day exit through that same door (compare Ezekiel 18:4, 20 with Romans 3:23). The Bible is equally clear that death is not the end of our existenc…

"John, Are You in the Cookie Jar Again?"

I can still see it sitting on our kitchen counter – an olive green ceramic cookie jar.  My mom always made sure it was stuffed full of cookies (which was not easy with me, my twin brother and a little brother running around the house!).  Now there was THE RULE (and it was the ONLY rule) regarding the cookie jar.  We could not grab a cookie or two (or three or four) just any time we wanted. We had to have permission first.  I want you to know that I tried to stick by THE RULE.  But that cookie jar had a powerful pull on my little hands.  It seems like any time I walked near it, my hands were drawn to it, like a piece of iron to a powerful magnet.  When this happened, I just went with the flow.  I would carefully lift the ceramic top, reach in and grab the loot, and then as quietly as possible, set the lid back on the cookie jar.  Almost without exception, the noise of ceramic on ceramic alerted my mom that someone was in the cookie jar. (How she could hear that from halfway down the b…

An Open Letter to the Church Family at Grace Church of Willow Valley

Twenty-five years ago, I entered the pulpit (and it was a fairly large pulpit back then) at Grace Church to begin what I was hoping would be a long and fruitful ministry (by long I was thinking ten years or so). Obviously, God had other plans. The years have been far more than ten. As for being fruitful, I defer to God on that call.

To mark this occasion ... here is a letter for my family at Grace Church at Willow Valley. If you are not part of our church family, feel free to read the letter, too. These twenty-five years have passed quickly. But my resolve to glorify God as I serve Jesus Christ in this place has not. I hope it has only grown.

September 1, 2014
Dear Grace Family,
In Psalm 16:6, King David wrote the following words: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” The boundary lines he has in mind here are not the boundary lines of a piece of land, but rather the boundary lines of his life. David believed God had placed …

Friday Coffee with PJ

Another Friday morning ... another cup of rich, steamy coffee! Yum! Pour yourself a cup (of coffee or whatever it is you drink in the morning) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Church growth, Chinese style! Reports coming out of Communist governed China indicate that the church there is doing much more than merely surviving - it is thriving! Check out this report and then take a moment and praise and pray ... for what God is doing in the world's most populated country!

2. During last winter's destructive ice storm, the five birch trees that line the back of my yard took a major hit. Clean up from the storm has taken two visits by two different tree outfits (and a major hit on my bank account!). During those visits, using their power saws and other equipment, the arborists removed a lot of broken, twisted limbs. Now, even with the damage cleaned up, the trees still bear the "scars" of the winter's wrath! But, these tree experts assured me that the trees sh…

Robbing the Amish? Really?

The headline of today's Lancaster newspaper's front page reads: "Police search for buggy bandit." The story went on to detail the holdup at gunpoint of three Amish who were heading home. He demanded their money. They threw their wallets to him and as he stooped down to pick them up ... they turned the horse into the adjacent field and off they went (pretty quick thinking on their part). The thug who robbed them, apparently satisfied with his take, climbed back in his van and took off. 
This incident brought to my mind a couple of thing, the first being the expression, "stealing candy from a baby." Surely if this guy knew anything about the Amish ... he would have known that they are a very peaceful people who believe in nonresistance. In other words, they were an easy mark. In addition, this whole incident reminded me that no one is exempt from being victimized by others. Not the Amish ... not you and not me. We live in a broken and twisted world ... popul…

Please continue to Pray for the Central African Republic - God Is at Work!

The new transitional government of the Central African Republic is doing its best to move forward. But the obstacles in its path are many and great. In light of this, I am so thankful for my friend and colleague, Dr. Augustin Hibaile and his work among government officials. Please take a moment to read his most recent email (dated August 24th) and then PRAY for him. God is opening doors to him and I am sure, knowing this man as I do, that his greatest desire is to serve them by pointing them to Jesus Christ. Thanks for caring enough to pray.

Greetings from Bangui,
We prayed for news members of the transition Government of the Central African Republic to be appointed. Almost 13 days after the New Prime Minister was appointed by the President of the State, 30 men and women were appointed last Friday to lead the different departments of the Government until a democratic election in 2015.

Among those Ministers of the Government, five are known to me. I just called two of them, one who is a P…