PJ

PJ

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

I usually really enjoy my morning cup(s) of coffee! But this week, with early morning temperatures hovering around the zero degree mark ... I have REALLY enjoyed my coffee! I invite you to pour yourself a cup and join me for some thoughts from here and there.

1. Thanks to all of you who prayed for me and my family last week. The memorial service for my sister, held down in Carthage, North Carolina, went very well. I believe my sister's life was celebrated as was the gospel. My wife put it right when she said, "Bev didn't have it easy in life, but she never let go of her faith." So in the midst of our sorrow, we were able to find comfort knowing that my sister's faith in Christ took her, on December 26th, to a place that is better by far than the best that this life has to offer. I hope YOU have the same faith in Christ as your savior. If you have any doubts or questions, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Make.   In addition to last week's memorial service, we plan to conduct another in the Harrisburg area in late February or March. There are a lot of family and friends who could not travel to NC for last week's service. Again, if you prayed, THANK YOU!

2. So far so good with my Carpe Diem reading plan. I chose the plan that will take me through the Bible (and then some) in this year of 2014. If you have not yet joined us, it's never too late. Simply click on the words Carpe Diem above and that will take you to the blog where you will find all the info you need. Time is too short and opportunities too great to waste our lives in trivial pursuits. Let's SEIZE THE DAY by knowing and living God's Word!

3. Out of the mouths of "babes!" Last night, during the opening of our AWANA Sparks group (K-2nd grade), one of the leaders was informing the kids about next Wednesday's "Crazy Night." She encouraged them all to dress up crazy ... just another way to add some fun to the evening. Immediately one little boy raised his hand. When he was called on, here is what he said, "I can't participate. I don't like to wear anything crazy because I don't want to look crazy. I want to look awesome!" Now we chuckle at that, but he expressed what is in all of our hearts. This desire to look "awesome" before our friends, classmates, work colleagues, and neighbors. I mean, none of us want to come across looking like Joe Smo the town nerd ... right? Yet, instead of wanting to look "awesome," perhaps we need to focus on looking "like Jesus!" Because when you get right down to it, looking like Jesus is about as awesome as it gets!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Living Life NOW in Light of THEN

Yesterday at our weekly staff meeting, we do something we almost always do: share prayer requests. Often these requests are for people with needs within our church family. One woman we prayed for is just six weeks away from her birthday ... and not just any birthday ... but her 100th birthday! Wow!  100 years of living!  Now as I thought of her birthday, I thought of my own approaching birthday (which just happens to fall on the same day as this centenarian) which will be, for me, number 58. So if God allows me to live as long as this woman – I will still have almost half of my life before me!

Now, regardless as to whether I live another 42 years or another 5 – what is most important is that I live those years fully for Jesus Christ.  This life, no matter how brief or how long, is only a prelude to the main event.  Most of us get this all mixed up.  We think of this life as the main event and the next life as a mere add-on.  But in reality, Eternity is what life is all about.  God created us for Eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He saved us for Eternity.  We are headed for Eternity.  Therefore, we had best live NOW for Eternity (see Colossians 3:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Pro Football Player Who Knows Who He Is!

I followed Michael Robinson as a college football player. His senior year at quarterback was his best as he led Penn State to a 11-1 record, an Orange Bowl victory over Florida State and a final #3 ranking in the national polls. He was selected as the Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year and was a consensus second team All American. The San Francisco 49ers drafted him in the fourth round of the NFL draft and immediately converted him into a running back. Robinson's dream of playing quarterback in the NFL ended right there. But that did not deter him (as it might have done for some). He gave his new position his all. Eventually the 49ers released him after five seasons. He was then signed by the Seattle Seahawks. This Sunday he will have the opportunity to play in the NFL's elite game ... the Super Bowl. And it is an opportunity he does not take for granted. 

Back in August, Robinson was forced to leave a preseason game against the Broncos (the Seahawks' opponent in Sunday's Super Bowl). The illness he was suffering was due to a reaction of his body to an antibiotic. He began to lose weight (he lost close to 30 pounds!) and was hospitalized several times. Robinson's kidney and liver were beginning to shut down. Finally the doctors were able to reverse the illness and Michael began his road to recovery. As he worked on his conditioning and restoring his lost weight, he began making plans for his post NFL life. He realized that he was on the wrong side of thirty and the Seahawks had two younger running backs doing the job. But then in October, one of these was injured. This opened the door for Robinson's return. He signed a one year contract with Seattle and will play on Sunday. 

During an interview this week, he was asked about how, during his illness, he had dealt with the possibility of never playing in the NFL again. In his response he said this, "I don't want football to define me. I'm a man, a Christian, a husband, a father who just happens to play football. I would have been OK with that." Those are refreshing words from a professional athlete with a lesson for all of us. No matter what your vocation ... teacher, nurse, police officer, accountant, custodian, trucker, retailer, stay-at-home mom .... you are a CHRISTIAN who just happens to be a teacher, nurse, police officer, accountant, custodian, trucker, retailer, stay-at-home mom (Colossians 3:23)! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

You can skip the donuts but not the coffee!
Time to grab that cup of java ... and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Today is a day my family is gathering in Carthage, North Carolina to reflect on the life of my sister, Beverly. Since she was six years older than me, and being an older SISTER (vs. an older BROTHER), we did not run in the same circles when I was growing up. But that does not mean I have no childhood memories of her. In fact, many of my memories of her can be grouped around one theme: BOYS! Yep. She was quite popular in school, doing all the things that popular girls do (cheerlead, date a lot, talk on the phone ALL THE TIME, etc., etc., etc.). One other memory that stands out in my mind is her playing of the piano. I am not sure who insisted she take piano lessons. But whenever I saw her heading for the piano, I bolted for the door. Needless to say, she did not hang with the piano for long (making me one very happy little brother!). So ... all this to say, I am sad that she is no longer with us. But glad that she was my sister for 57 years ... and glad that I will one day see her again as she, like me, is a follower of the ONE (and the only one) who can open the doors of heaven for us (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

2. Please keep praying for our brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic. Although a few things happened this week that bring hope, there is a loonnnggg way yet to go. Thanks for caring enough to pray each and every day!

3. I really cut it close with the snow storm this week. I discovered two weeks ago that my snow blower refused to start. "Hmm," I thought to myself, "time to take this in to get fixed!" Well, I put it off until last Thursday when I finally lifted it into our van and took it to a repair shop. The owner told me it would most likely by five days max. No problem, I thought, as there were no big snow storms in the forecast. Ha! By Monday morning, snow was indeed in the forecast ... and possibly a lot. In a semi panic, I called the shop. "Do you think you can get to my snow blower today?" I asked. "Well" the reply came, "we actually already have it done. Just did not get a chance to call you at the end of the day on Friday." Yahoo! I was thrilled. But that sure was a close call! And it did not have to be so. Why? One word: PROCRASTINATION! Yep. Something I am sure you just might be familiar with? Yes? Mark Twain said it well when he wrote these words, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow!" That might be the easier route to go in the short term ... but you will pay a price in the long term if that is your typical MO (modus operandi)! SOOOO .... TODAY (not tomorrow nor the day after tomorrow) you need to get into God's Word. DON'T PUT IT OFF! Seize the day by knowing and living the Word of God (visit our Carpe Diem blog)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Time to Make an Appointment?

If you are anything like me, then the phrase "crazy busy" probably seems to describe your life far too often. Yes? Well for all of us who are "crazy busy," pastor and author Kevin DeYoung has done us all a favor by recently writing a book with the title,  Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.  He concludes chapter 2 (Here, There and Gone: Three Dangers to Avoid) with the following (You may want to put on a pair of steel toed boots. Kevin just might step on your toes!):

"What does it say about me that I’m frequently overwhelmed? What do I need to learn about myself? What biblical promises am I not believing? What divine commands am I ignoring that I should obey? What self-imposed commands am I obeying that I should ignore? What’s going on in my soul, so that busyness comes out as my chief challenge every year?
 
The presence of extreme busyness in our lives may point to deeper problems— a pervasive people-pleasing, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaninglessness. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness,” writes Tim Kreider in his viral article, “The‘Busy’ Trap,” for the New York Times. “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” The greatest danger with busyness is that there may be greater dangers you never have time to consider.
 
Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the Word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls. If only we could make time for an appointment."
 
So ... how about that appointment?
 
Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Transported Back in Time!

Old Main of PCB
1800 Arch Street
Last week as I was in my car heading somewhere ... can't remember where but it really does not matter ... I was listening to KYW news radio out of Philadelphia. I admit it is a habit of mine. A habit I picked up as freshmen attending Philadelphia College of Bible. At the time the school was located in center city, Philadelphia (in fact, for a several years the tag line of the school was "Philadelphia is our campus"). It was and I loved it. So I got in the habit of listening every day to get the latest Philadelphia news, WEATHER and sports (I got so into listening to KYW that when Sharon and I honeymooned on the beach in North Carolina, I was thrilled to discover that I could pick up KYW at night ... even from that distance ... and if you don't believe me, you can ask my wife!). I know that might make me a bit odd, but what is odd for one person is perfectly normal for another!  :)

Now back to my story. Last week on KYW I heard the news that Comcast was going to build a new headquarters in Philadelphia. Seems like they are outgrowing the headquarters they built not that long ago. Their new HQ is going to be the country's tallest building outside of New York and Chicago. But that is not what grabbed my attention. What made me turn and stare at the radio (not recommended while driving, by the way!) is the location in center city where this mammoth  tower was to be built: 1800 Arch Street! Now that probably means nothing to you ... but to me it meant much! For it was at 1800 Arch Street that I spent much of four years of my life. You see, that was the location of PCB's Old Main. This building housed the school cafeteria, library, chapel, several classrooms and some dorm rooms. So I spent a lot of time eating, reading, worshipping and learning in that building. Oh ... and as a school security guard, I spent many a night walking the quite hallways as I made my night rounds.

Old Main was demolished shortly after the college relocated to suburban Bucks County. Since that time it has been one very large parking lot. But now, with this news, in just a couple of years it will be the site of one very tall building.

As I reflected on the news, I thought of my college years. Years that I grew by leaps and bounds in my faith journey as I studied God's Word. Years of forming friendships that last to this year, the most precious being the friendship (and more!) that I enjoy after 35 plus years of marriage to my college sweetheart!

All this to say ... it never hurts to pause and take a look back. And as you do, look particularly at those "God moments" in your life where you can see the unmistakable hand of God guiding your steps!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Saturday, January 18, 2014

So ... You Hate Waiting?

J.I. Packer is one of my favorite theologian-authors. His writing is extremely practical and to the point. Unlike other theologs whose writings are like a swamp of molasses, I find Packer's to be more like a mountain stream full of clean refreshing water. Often that is just what my soul needs!

I was introduced to J.I. when I was a freshman in college. I bought and then devoured his classic book, Knowing God (if you have not read it ... you should!). Packer introduced me, as a young Christian, to the God I was just getting to know. Below is one of his many insights into the nature and ways of God that fill every page of his book. Take a few moments this weekend to chew on what he writes. You will be better for it!

"Wait on the Lord" is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come." 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your cup of Joe and join me for a few random thoughts that I hope will encourage you in some way.

1. The other morning I took a ministry friend out to breakfast. We had a great time talking about life and ministry as we enjoyed our breakfast fare (and for me that always includes a few cups of coffee!). When it came time to pay the bill, I reached for my wallet only to discover that I had not brought it with me! As visions of washing dishes began to haunt me (I worked in a restaurant, washing dishes, my senior year in high school), my friend offered to pay. Seeing me reluctant to accept his offer (after all, I told him it was "my treat"), the cashier, who was waiting patiently, told me that I could pay the next time I was in (now I must let you know that this is the restaurant which I frequent at least twice, if not more, times each week. She knew me ... and I knew her). With a sigh of relief, I accepted her offer (and did settle the account the very next morning!). Moral of this story .... DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR WALLET (or purse!). And if you do, don't attempt to buy anything! By the way ... isn't it great to know that when we arrive at the gates of heaven, we will not have to buy our way in? Praise God the price has already been paid in full by Jesus Christ!

2. I mailed some materials on dealing with grief and loss to my niece the other day (my sister and her mother died just after Christmas). Since my niece has a post office box, I had to use the postal service (UPS does not deliver to post office boxes). I used 2nd day priority mail. On the second day, I got on the USPS web site and entered the tracking number. I was shown the journey of the package ... but only so far. It never showed the fact that the package reached its destination. Why, I don't know. I am glad God does not track us in such a partial manner. His eye is ALWAYS upon us . . . and he knows exactly where we are and what we are doing. Now that can be quite comforting (when we are in need of his presence) OR it can be quite sobering (as when we are walking out of step with his way). But in either case, the knowledge that God is watching over us should cause us to live our lives differently than we might otherwise live!

3. Our International Day of Solidarity is fast approaching. I would encourage you to set aside some time to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering so horribly in the Central African Republic. The violence continues as do the shortages of many of life's basic commodities. For more information on how you can pray, please check out this information and resources at Encompass World Partners (be sure to download the tip sheet on how to pray - the English version, of course!).

4. Finally, if you have yet to visit our Carpe Diem 2014 blog, I encourage you to do so. On Wednesday I posted a helpful article that deliniates the reasons as to WHY we MUST be in God's Word.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Obstacles or Opportunities?

When my wife and I are on  a road trip, we will often encounter unexpected delays. These may be caused by construction, a disabled vehicle, weather, or, worst case, an accident. Sometimes these delays add a few minutes to our travel. Sometimes far more. And if you have done any amount of travel by car, you know exactly what I am talking about. 

These experiences remind me of life.  As we journey through this world, we often encounter obstacles.  Many of these, like the delays I mentioned above, are both unexpected and unwelcome. Our first reaction is to gripe and complain.  We don’t like obstacles.  We hate to be inconvenienced in any way!  But the Bible has a different “take” on obstacles. We see this in a story from the Old Testament (Numbers 13-14).  When Moses was leading the people of Israel to the Promised Land, he sent twelve spies to spy out the land.  When they came back they gave two reports: a majority and a minority report (politics were alive and well way back then!).  The majority (ten of the twelve spies) said, “Let’s go back to Egypt!”  Why?  Because they saw obstacles in their path of settling in the Promised Land.  Giants and well-fortified cities were there, making it much too difficult a task to settle there.  But the two spies who gave the minority report wanted to go in and “take the Land.”  But wait! Didn’t these two see the giants and the well fortified cities?  Yes.  SO what was the difference between these two and the rest?  The ten who wanted to flee back to Egypt saw the obstacles and that is where their vision stopped.  The other two, however, saw the obstacles but also looked beyond to the God who had promised Israel the Land.  So in their thinking, the obstacles were only opportunities for God to work!  Wow!  How about YOU?  When you are confronted with obstacles, are you like the ten spies who see only the obstacles?  Or are you like the two who instead of an obstacle see an opportunity for your God to work?  

Oh, and by the way, can you name any one of the ten spies who gave the majority report?  Don’t worry if you can’t, because their names are not mentioned.  But how about the two who saw the obstacles as opportunities for God to work and show Himself strong – can you name them?  I hope so.  Their names are preserved for us in the Bible.  They were none other than Caleb and Joshua.  Let me challenge you to follow in their sandals.  When obstacles hinder your forward progress – stop and thank that here is an opportunity for Him to work.  Then trust Him to do so (Psalm 37:5)!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and don't forget to SEIZE THE DAY! 
pj
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Putting Feet to Your Prayers for the C.A.R.!

As the crisis continues to deepen in the Central African Republic, three groups affiliated with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches have joined together to provide vitally needed aid to this violence-wracked, impoverished country. If you would like to give, please click here. On behalf of the many believers in the C.A.R. THANK YOU!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

Pour your favorite brew and join me for some random thoughts that just happen to be rambling through my
mind.

1. People in our society look for any and every way to avoid taking responsibility. This should not surprise us, for in Genesis 3:8-13 we see both Adam and Eve, when confronted by God, trying to pass the blame for their actions. But a recent article in the Washington Post really "takes the cake!" You might want to take a moment and read how the diagnosis of "affluenza" was used to help a teenage boy avoid jail time after he caused the death of four while he was driving drunk. Hmm. Makes one wonder what could possibly top that?

2. Last Saturday I attended a wedding of the daughter of close friends. I was struck with how "grown up" she and her siblings all looked, decked out in their wedding attire. I can recall them all as little children running around the hallways of church! Ouch! Where is time going? One of my goals for 2014 is to spend time meditating each month on a passage that reminds me of the brevity of this life and the need to focus more on the next. The passage I chose for this month is Psalm 39:4-5. I encourage you to take a moment and mediate on these verses. Then pray them back to God. Life is too short ... eternity too long to spend our time investing in the wrong place!

3. My wife and I recently picked up a used mini-van (still can't believe at my age I am back to the minivan!). When we bought the vehicle, only one key fob came with it. So we purchased a used one online and took it (and the van) back to the dealership. They programmed our used fob so it would work with the van. Happy that we now each had our own fob, we returned home. The next day I discovered that the fob that came with the van was now no longer working! Somehow the programming of the used fob rendered the other useless. So .. back to the dealership we had to go to get it all straightened out (which they quite willingly and apologetically did). As I thought about this I was reminded of life in general. Life doesn't always work the way we think it should. And sometimes when we think we have a problem fixed, we don't! We hit a lot of "speed bumps" along the way. Some are so slight we barely notice them. Others are so large they threaten to keep us from our journey forward. But it is a comfort to know that when we do hit one of these ... we can always go back to the One who made us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). He will straighten out our path if we only trust him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

4. Finally, as a follow-up to my Tuesday posting about the Grim Reaper: I did not know as I wrote that post that earlier that day a woman in our church had received the news that both her mother and grandmother had died just a few hours apart. Again, another hard reminder that death comes knocking far too often. All of us had better be prepared (see Tuesday's post to see how this is done!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crisis in Central African Republic Continues to Deepen!

Please take a moment to read up on the deepening crisis in the Central African Republic. Then take another moment (and two and three and . . .) to pray for peace in that impoverished, war-torn land. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for the ministry of the gospel. Pray for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. They need us to stand by them in this way!

And by the way ... if you watch the video of the eight year old sharing her tragic story, you just might want to have a box of tissues at hand!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Give Me More!

As I have reflected on my sister Bev's life (she passed away the day after Christmas), my mind traveled back to her days in high school. Bev was six years older than me, so when she was in high school I was still in elementary school. 

The year was 1966 (or there abouts!).  I was seated in the auditorium of John Harris High School attending the high school performance of Oliver Twist.  Now as an energetic ten year old who love to play football and ride a bike – I was not too happy about sitting in a high school auditorium for some stupid old musical – especially on a sunny Saturday afternoon!  But I was there because one of my older sisters bribed me to go along with her (her boyfriend had one of the lead roles – I believe he played the Artful Dodger).  Now for some reason I just can’t explain, this one line by Oliver stands out in my mind” “Please, Sir, I want some more.”  Maybe it’s because as a ten year old boy, I was always asking for more at supper (and breakfast and lunch and snack time and . . .).  I could relate to this hungry little boy who just wanted more to eat!

One of my prayers for me and for all of us here at Grace is that we would approach God as Oliver approached the person ladling out the food – asking God to give us more because we are hungry for Him and His Word.  Sometimes I hear people complain that they are not getting fed at church.  As I mentioned this past Sunday, I don’t see my job as that of spoon feeding anyone.  Rather, I see myself as the one ladling out the stew.  I place it on the plates of those who are listening.  Then it’s up to them to take the plate home and feed themselves.  How about YOU?  Do you truly hunger for God and His Word?  Are you asking Him for MORE?  Are you taking God’s Word and feeding yourself with its soul sustaining nourishment?  If you find your relationship with God and His Word somewhat stale – then begin today and PRAY.  Ask Him to give you a hunger and thirst for Him and His Word like you have never had before.  Pray it today. Pray it tomorrow.  Pray it next week.  Pray it for the rest of your life!  

Also, I invite  you to travel over to our Carpe Diem 2014 blog. Carpe Diem 2014 is a spiritual growth intitiative of Grace Church at Willow Valley. In this new year, we are seeking to SEIZE THE DAY as we strive to know and live God's Word. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Grim Reaper is Reaping Away!

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, it seems like every time I turn around I receive news that the Grim Reaper has struck. I answer my smartphone or read my email only to be told of another death. Among them? Two seniors from our church family; one of our missionary's father; a good friend and former boss' dad; the college student who lived with us for four plus years - her grandfather; and the one that hurt me the most, my own sister. And to have these deaths occur around the holidays, makes a bitter pill even tougher to swallow.

Some of these deaths were anticipated. Others, however, were not. But in either case, when death comes knocking, it is always a bittersweet moment. Bitter because it hurts to be separated from the one you love. To think you will never embrace your loved one (this side of heaven) or hear his or her voice on the phone is tough to handle. Saying "goodbye" is a bitter experience. But for those of us who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, death can be sweet. For in death, we know that our loved one is now at peace. No more pain ... no more heartache ... no more sin. In its place is a joy that I won't even attempt to describe.

So, when death comes knocking at the door of someone you love ... and if that someone knows Jesus .. remember these words of the great evangelist, D. L. Moody: "One day you will hear that D. L. Moody is dead. Don't believe it. For on that day I will be more alive than ever!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

PS -- If you have any questions about being prepared for this visit of death that is sure to come your way someday ... please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

I trust you had a great time over the holidays in your gatherings with family and friends. Here are today's thoughts and enjoy your favorite cup of Joe!

1. Over the course of the past two weeks or so, I have received a number of death notifications (two yesterday). The most difficult and personal was the call from my niece telling me that my sister had unexpectedly passed away the day after Christmas. All these messages of death got me thinking about this part of the package we call life. We were not designed by God to deal with death. In fact, death was not part of the package of life until sin entered our world (Romans 5:12). Since we were never intended by our Creator to have to deal with death ... when it comes ... it hurts. And it hurts real bad! Thankfully, for those of us who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have as our constant companion the Comforter (i.e. Holy Spirit - John 14:16). As our helper, he comes alongside of us and offers to us the strength and encouragement that only God can give. So ... if you are grieving today, make sure to reach out and grab HIS hand and receive the peace that passes all understanding!

2. On a lighter note, a friend shared something that made me chuckle. She and  her young granddaughter were watching the Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. When the film portrayed the sleeping Snow White, her granddaughter looked at her grandmother and said, "It's no wonder that Snow White slept so long. She must have been awfully tired after all that cleaning she had done!" Ohhhh ... out of the mouths of babes!  I hope as you journey through this new year with all of its ups and downs, that you will look for those moments that make us laugh. They surround us. But we must slow down and keep our eyes and ears open. Keep in mind that gladness is good for you (Proverbs 15:13)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

BLESSED NEW YEAR 2014!



Toward the end of his great letter to the church at Rome, Paul offers up this benediction (blessing) upon thechurch: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (Romans 16:21). From The Valley of Vision comes this portion of a prayer for the New Year. I offer it up to you to pray for yourself as we begin our journey through 2014. 

O Father, 
Give me Your grace to sanctify me, 
   Your comforts to cheer, 
   Your wisdom to teach, 
   Your right hand to guide, 
   Your counsel to instruct, 
   Your law to judge, 
   Your presence to stabalize, 

May Your fear be my awe, 
   Your triumphs my joy. 

Amen. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

I usually really enjoy my morning cup(s) of coffee! But this week, with early morning temperatures hovering around the zero degree mark ... I have REALLY enjoyed my coffee! I invite you to pour yourself a cup and join me for some thoughts from here and there.

1. Thanks to all of you who prayed for me and my family last week. The memorial service for my sister, held down in Carthage, North Carolina, went very well. I believe my sister's life was celebrated as was the gospel. My wife put it right when she said, "Bev didn't have it easy in life, but she never let go of her faith." So in the midst of our sorrow, we were able to find comfort knowing that my sister's faith in Christ took her, on December 26th, to a place that is better by far than the best that this life has to offer. I hope YOU have the same faith in Christ as your savior. If you have any doubts or questions, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Make.   In addition to last week's memorial service, we plan to conduct another in the Harrisburg area in late February or March. There are a lot of family and friends who could not travel to NC for last week's service. Again, if you prayed, THANK YOU!

2. So far so good with my Carpe Diem reading plan. I chose the plan that will take me through the Bible (and then some) in this year of 2014. If you have not yet joined us, it's never too late. Simply click on the words Carpe Diem above and that will take you to the blog where you will find all the info you need. Time is too short and opportunities too great to waste our lives in trivial pursuits. Let's SEIZE THE DAY by knowing and living God's Word!

3. Out of the mouths of "babes!" Last night, during the opening of our AWANA Sparks group (K-2nd grade), one of the leaders was informing the kids about next Wednesday's "Crazy Night." She encouraged them all to dress up crazy ... just another way to add some fun to the evening. Immediately one little boy raised his hand. When he was called on, here is what he said, "I can't participate. I don't like to wear anything crazy because I don't want to look crazy. I want to look awesome!" Now we chuckle at that, but he expressed what is in all of our hearts. This desire to look "awesome" before our friends, classmates, work colleagues, and neighbors. I mean, none of us want to come across looking like Joe Smo the town nerd ... right? Yet, instead of wanting to look "awesome," perhaps we need to focus on looking "like Jesus!" Because when you get right down to it, looking like Jesus is about as awesome as it gets!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Living Life NOW in Light of THEN

Yesterday at our weekly staff meeting, we do something we almost always do: share prayer requests. Often these requests are for people with needs within our church family. One woman we prayed for is just six weeks away from her birthday ... and not just any birthday ... but her 100th birthday! Wow!  100 years of living!  Now as I thought of her birthday, I thought of my own approaching birthday (which just happens to fall on the same day as this centenarian) which will be, for me, number 58. So if God allows me to live as long as this woman – I will still have almost half of my life before me!

Now, regardless as to whether I live another 42 years or another 5 – what is most important is that I live those years fully for Jesus Christ.  This life, no matter how brief or how long, is only a prelude to the main event.  Most of us get this all mixed up.  We think of this life as the main event and the next life as a mere add-on.  But in reality, Eternity is what life is all about.  God created us for Eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He saved us for Eternity.  We are headed for Eternity.  Therefore, we had best live NOW for Eternity (see Colossians 3:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Pro Football Player Who Knows Who He Is!

I followed Michael Robinson as a college football player. His senior year at quarterback was his best as he led Penn State to a 11-1 record, an Orange Bowl victory over Florida State and a final #3 ranking in the national polls. He was selected as the Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year and was a consensus second team All American. The San Francisco 49ers drafted him in the fourth round of the NFL draft and immediately converted him into a running back. Robinson's dream of playing quarterback in the NFL ended right there. But that did not deter him (as it might have done for some). He gave his new position his all. Eventually the 49ers released him after five seasons. He was then signed by the Seattle Seahawks. This Sunday he will have the opportunity to play in the NFL's elite game ... the Super Bowl. And it is an opportunity he does not take for granted. 

Back in August, Robinson was forced to leave a preseason game against the Broncos (the Seahawks' opponent in Sunday's Super Bowl). The illness he was suffering was due to a reaction of his body to an antibiotic. He began to lose weight (he lost close to 30 pounds!) and was hospitalized several times. Robinson's kidney and liver were beginning to shut down. Finally the doctors were able to reverse the illness and Michael began his road to recovery. As he worked on his conditioning and restoring his lost weight, he began making plans for his post NFL life. He realized that he was on the wrong side of thirty and the Seahawks had two younger running backs doing the job. But then in October, one of these was injured. This opened the door for Robinson's return. He signed a one year contract with Seattle and will play on Sunday. 

During an interview this week, he was asked about how, during his illness, he had dealt with the possibility of never playing in the NFL again. In his response he said this, "I don't want football to define me. I'm a man, a Christian, a husband, a father who just happens to play football. I would have been OK with that." Those are refreshing words from a professional athlete with a lesson for all of us. No matter what your vocation ... teacher, nurse, police officer, accountant, custodian, trucker, retailer, stay-at-home mom .... you are a CHRISTIAN who just happens to be a teacher, nurse, police officer, accountant, custodian, trucker, retailer, stay-at-home mom (Colossians 3:23)! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

You can skip the donuts but not the coffee!
Time to grab that cup of java ... and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Today is a day my family is gathering in Carthage, North Carolina to reflect on the life of my sister, Beverly. Since she was six years older than me, and being an older SISTER (vs. an older BROTHER), we did not run in the same circles when I was growing up. But that does not mean I have no childhood memories of her. In fact, many of my memories of her can be grouped around one theme: BOYS! Yep. She was quite popular in school, doing all the things that popular girls do (cheerlead, date a lot, talk on the phone ALL THE TIME, etc., etc., etc.). One other memory that stands out in my mind is her playing of the piano. I am not sure who insisted she take piano lessons. But whenever I saw her heading for the piano, I bolted for the door. Needless to say, she did not hang with the piano for long (making me one very happy little brother!). So ... all this to say, I am sad that she is no longer with us. But glad that she was my sister for 57 years ... and glad that I will one day see her again as she, like me, is a follower of the ONE (and the only one) who can open the doors of heaven for us (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

2. Please keep praying for our brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic. Although a few things happened this week that bring hope, there is a loonnnggg way yet to go. Thanks for caring enough to pray each and every day!

3. I really cut it close with the snow storm this week. I discovered two weeks ago that my snow blower refused to start. "Hmm," I thought to myself, "time to take this in to get fixed!" Well, I put it off until last Thursday when I finally lifted it into our van and took it to a repair shop. The owner told me it would most likely by five days max. No problem, I thought, as there were no big snow storms in the forecast. Ha! By Monday morning, snow was indeed in the forecast ... and possibly a lot. In a semi panic, I called the shop. "Do you think you can get to my snow blower today?" I asked. "Well" the reply came, "we actually already have it done. Just did not get a chance to call you at the end of the day on Friday." Yahoo! I was thrilled. But that sure was a close call! And it did not have to be so. Why? One word: PROCRASTINATION! Yep. Something I am sure you just might be familiar with? Yes? Mark Twain said it well when he wrote these words, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow!" That might be the easier route to go in the short term ... but you will pay a price in the long term if that is your typical MO (modus operandi)! SOOOO .... TODAY (not tomorrow nor the day after tomorrow) you need to get into God's Word. DON'T PUT IT OFF! Seize the day by knowing and living the Word of God (visit our Carpe Diem blog)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Time to Make an Appointment?

If you are anything like me, then the phrase "crazy busy" probably seems to describe your life far too often. Yes? Well for all of us who are "crazy busy," pastor and author Kevin DeYoung has done us all a favor by recently writing a book with the title,  Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.  He concludes chapter 2 (Here, There and Gone: Three Dangers to Avoid) with the following (You may want to put on a pair of steel toed boots. Kevin just might step on your toes!):

"What does it say about me that I’m frequently overwhelmed? What do I need to learn about myself? What biblical promises am I not believing? What divine commands am I ignoring that I should obey? What self-imposed commands am I obeying that I should ignore? What’s going on in my soul, so that busyness comes out as my chief challenge every year?
 
The presence of extreme busyness in our lives may point to deeper problems— a pervasive people-pleasing, a restless ambition, a malaise of meaninglessness. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness,” writes Tim Kreider in his viral article, “The‘Busy’ Trap,” for the New York Times. “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” The greatest danger with busyness is that there may be greater dangers you never have time to consider.
 
Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the Word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls. If only we could make time for an appointment."
 
So ... how about that appointment?
 
Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Transported Back in Time!

Old Main of PCB
1800 Arch Street
Last week as I was in my car heading somewhere ... can't remember where but it really does not matter ... I was listening to KYW news radio out of Philadelphia. I admit it is a habit of mine. A habit I picked up as freshmen attending Philadelphia College of Bible. At the time the school was located in center city, Philadelphia (in fact, for a several years the tag line of the school was "Philadelphia is our campus"). It was and I loved it. So I got in the habit of listening every day to get the latest Philadelphia news, WEATHER and sports (I got so into listening to KYW that when Sharon and I honeymooned on the beach in North Carolina, I was thrilled to discover that I could pick up KYW at night ... even from that distance ... and if you don't believe me, you can ask my wife!). I know that might make me a bit odd, but what is odd for one person is perfectly normal for another!  :)

Now back to my story. Last week on KYW I heard the news that Comcast was going to build a new headquarters in Philadelphia. Seems like they are outgrowing the headquarters they built not that long ago. Their new HQ is going to be the country's tallest building outside of New York and Chicago. But that is not what grabbed my attention. What made me turn and stare at the radio (not recommended while driving, by the way!) is the location in center city where this mammoth  tower was to be built: 1800 Arch Street! Now that probably means nothing to you ... but to me it meant much! For it was at 1800 Arch Street that I spent much of four years of my life. You see, that was the location of PCB's Old Main. This building housed the school cafeteria, library, chapel, several classrooms and some dorm rooms. So I spent a lot of time eating, reading, worshipping and learning in that building. Oh ... and as a school security guard, I spent many a night walking the quite hallways as I made my night rounds.

Old Main was demolished shortly after the college relocated to suburban Bucks County. Since that time it has been one very large parking lot. But now, with this news, in just a couple of years it will be the site of one very tall building.

As I reflected on the news, I thought of my college years. Years that I grew by leaps and bounds in my faith journey as I studied God's Word. Years of forming friendships that last to this year, the most precious being the friendship (and more!) that I enjoy after 35 plus years of marriage to my college sweetheart!

All this to say ... it never hurts to pause and take a look back. And as you do, look particularly at those "God moments" in your life where you can see the unmistakable hand of God guiding your steps!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Saturday, January 18, 2014

So ... You Hate Waiting?

J.I. Packer is one of my favorite theologian-authors. His writing is extremely practical and to the point. Unlike other theologs whose writings are like a swamp of molasses, I find Packer's to be more like a mountain stream full of clean refreshing water. Often that is just what my soul needs!

I was introduced to J.I. when I was a freshman in college. I bought and then devoured his classic book, Knowing God (if you have not read it ... you should!). Packer introduced me, as a young Christian, to the God I was just getting to know. Below is one of his many insights into the nature and ways of God that fill every page of his book. Take a few moments this weekend to chew on what he writes. You will be better for it!

"Wait on the Lord" is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come." 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

Grab your cup of Joe and join me for a few random thoughts that I hope will encourage you in some way.

1. The other morning I took a ministry friend out to breakfast. We had a great time talking about life and ministry as we enjoyed our breakfast fare (and for me that always includes a few cups of coffee!). When it came time to pay the bill, I reached for my wallet only to discover that I had not brought it with me! As visions of washing dishes began to haunt me (I worked in a restaurant, washing dishes, my senior year in high school), my friend offered to pay. Seeing me reluctant to accept his offer (after all, I told him it was "my treat"), the cashier, who was waiting patiently, told me that I could pay the next time I was in (now I must let you know that this is the restaurant which I frequent at least twice, if not more, times each week. She knew me ... and I knew her). With a sigh of relief, I accepted her offer (and did settle the account the very next morning!). Moral of this story .... DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR WALLET (or purse!). And if you do, don't attempt to buy anything! By the way ... isn't it great to know that when we arrive at the gates of heaven, we will not have to buy our way in? Praise God the price has already been paid in full by Jesus Christ!

2. I mailed some materials on dealing with grief and loss to my niece the other day (my sister and her mother died just after Christmas). Since my niece has a post office box, I had to use the postal service (UPS does not deliver to post office boxes). I used 2nd day priority mail. On the second day, I got on the USPS web site and entered the tracking number. I was shown the journey of the package ... but only so far. It never showed the fact that the package reached its destination. Why, I don't know. I am glad God does not track us in such a partial manner. His eye is ALWAYS upon us . . . and he knows exactly where we are and what we are doing. Now that can be quite comforting (when we are in need of his presence) OR it can be quite sobering (as when we are walking out of step with his way). But in either case, the knowledge that God is watching over us should cause us to live our lives differently than we might otherwise live!

3. Our International Day of Solidarity is fast approaching. I would encourage you to set aside some time to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering so horribly in the Central African Republic. The violence continues as do the shortages of many of life's basic commodities. For more information on how you can pray, please check out this information and resources at Encompass World Partners (be sure to download the tip sheet on how to pray - the English version, of course!).

4. Finally, if you have yet to visit our Carpe Diem 2014 blog, I encourage you to do so. On Wednesday I posted a helpful article that deliniates the reasons as to WHY we MUST be in God's Word.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to SEIZE THE DAY!
pj

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Obstacles or Opportunities?

When my wife and I are on  a road trip, we will often encounter unexpected delays. These may be caused by construction, a disabled vehicle, weather, or, worst case, an accident. Sometimes these delays add a few minutes to our travel. Sometimes far more. And if you have done any amount of travel by car, you know exactly what I am talking about. 

These experiences remind me of life.  As we journey through this world, we often encounter obstacles.  Many of these, like the delays I mentioned above, are both unexpected and unwelcome. Our first reaction is to gripe and complain.  We don’t like obstacles.  We hate to be inconvenienced in any way!  But the Bible has a different “take” on obstacles. We see this in a story from the Old Testament (Numbers 13-14).  When Moses was leading the people of Israel to the Promised Land, he sent twelve spies to spy out the land.  When they came back they gave two reports: a majority and a minority report (politics were alive and well way back then!).  The majority (ten of the twelve spies) said, “Let’s go back to Egypt!”  Why?  Because they saw obstacles in their path of settling in the Promised Land.  Giants and well-fortified cities were there, making it much too difficult a task to settle there.  But the two spies who gave the minority report wanted to go in and “take the Land.”  But wait! Didn’t these two see the giants and the well fortified cities?  Yes.  SO what was the difference between these two and the rest?  The ten who wanted to flee back to Egypt saw the obstacles and that is where their vision stopped.  The other two, however, saw the obstacles but also looked beyond to the God who had promised Israel the Land.  So in their thinking, the obstacles were only opportunities for God to work!  Wow!  How about YOU?  When you are confronted with obstacles, are you like the ten spies who see only the obstacles?  Or are you like the two who instead of an obstacle see an opportunity for your God to work?  

Oh, and by the way, can you name any one of the ten spies who gave the majority report?  Don’t worry if you can’t, because their names are not mentioned.  But how about the two who saw the obstacles as opportunities for God to work and show Himself strong – can you name them?  I hope so.  Their names are preserved for us in the Bible.  They were none other than Caleb and Joshua.  Let me challenge you to follow in their sandals.  When obstacles hinder your forward progress – stop and thank that here is an opportunity for Him to work.  Then trust Him to do so (Psalm 37:5)!

Thanks for stopping by . . . and don't forget to SEIZE THE DAY! 
pj
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Putting Feet to Your Prayers for the C.A.R.!

As the crisis continues to deepen in the Central African Republic, three groups affiliated with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches have joined together to provide vitally needed aid to this violence-wracked, impoverished country. If you would like to give, please click here. On behalf of the many believers in the C.A.R. THANK YOU!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

Pour your favorite brew and join me for some random thoughts that just happen to be rambling through my
mind.

1. People in our society look for any and every way to avoid taking responsibility. This should not surprise us, for in Genesis 3:8-13 we see both Adam and Eve, when confronted by God, trying to pass the blame for their actions. But a recent article in the Washington Post really "takes the cake!" You might want to take a moment and read how the diagnosis of "affluenza" was used to help a teenage boy avoid jail time after he caused the death of four while he was driving drunk. Hmm. Makes one wonder what could possibly top that?

2. Last Saturday I attended a wedding of the daughter of close friends. I was struck with how "grown up" she and her siblings all looked, decked out in their wedding attire. I can recall them all as little children running around the hallways of church! Ouch! Where is time going? One of my goals for 2014 is to spend time meditating each month on a passage that reminds me of the brevity of this life and the need to focus more on the next. The passage I chose for this month is Psalm 39:4-5. I encourage you to take a moment and mediate on these verses. Then pray them back to God. Life is too short ... eternity too long to spend our time investing in the wrong place!

3. My wife and I recently picked up a used mini-van (still can't believe at my age I am back to the minivan!). When we bought the vehicle, only one key fob came with it. So we purchased a used one online and took it (and the van) back to the dealership. They programmed our used fob so it would work with the van. Happy that we now each had our own fob, we returned home. The next day I discovered that the fob that came with the van was now no longer working! Somehow the programming of the used fob rendered the other useless. So .. back to the dealership we had to go to get it all straightened out (which they quite willingly and apologetically did). As I thought about this I was reminded of life in general. Life doesn't always work the way we think it should. And sometimes when we think we have a problem fixed, we don't! We hit a lot of "speed bumps" along the way. Some are so slight we barely notice them. Others are so large they threaten to keep us from our journey forward. But it is a comfort to know that when we do hit one of these ... we can always go back to the One who made us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). He will straighten out our path if we only trust him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

4. Finally, as a follow-up to my Tuesday posting about the Grim Reaper: I did not know as I wrote that post that earlier that day a woman in our church had received the news that both her mother and grandmother had died just a few hours apart. Again, another hard reminder that death comes knocking far too often. All of us had better be prepared (see Tuesday's post to see how this is done!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Crisis in Central African Republic Continues to Deepen!

Please take a moment to read up on the deepening crisis in the Central African Republic. Then take another moment (and two and three and . . .) to pray for peace in that impoverished, war-torn land. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for the ministry of the gospel. Pray for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. They need us to stand by them in this way!

And by the way ... if you watch the video of the eight year old sharing her tragic story, you just might want to have a box of tissues at hand!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Give Me More!

As I have reflected on my sister Bev's life (she passed away the day after Christmas), my mind traveled back to her days in high school. Bev was six years older than me, so when she was in high school I was still in elementary school. 

The year was 1966 (or there abouts!).  I was seated in the auditorium of John Harris High School attending the high school performance of Oliver Twist.  Now as an energetic ten year old who love to play football and ride a bike – I was not too happy about sitting in a high school auditorium for some stupid old musical – especially on a sunny Saturday afternoon!  But I was there because one of my older sisters bribed me to go along with her (her boyfriend had one of the lead roles – I believe he played the Artful Dodger).  Now for some reason I just can’t explain, this one line by Oliver stands out in my mind” “Please, Sir, I want some more.”  Maybe it’s because as a ten year old boy, I was always asking for more at supper (and breakfast and lunch and snack time and . . .).  I could relate to this hungry little boy who just wanted more to eat!

One of my prayers for me and for all of us here at Grace is that we would approach God as Oliver approached the person ladling out the food – asking God to give us more because we are hungry for Him and His Word.  Sometimes I hear people complain that they are not getting fed at church.  As I mentioned this past Sunday, I don’t see my job as that of spoon feeding anyone.  Rather, I see myself as the one ladling out the stew.  I place it on the plates of those who are listening.  Then it’s up to them to take the plate home and feed themselves.  How about YOU?  Do you truly hunger for God and His Word?  Are you asking Him for MORE?  Are you taking God’s Word and feeding yourself with its soul sustaining nourishment?  If you find your relationship with God and His Word somewhat stale – then begin today and PRAY.  Ask Him to give you a hunger and thirst for Him and His Word like you have never had before.  Pray it today. Pray it tomorrow.  Pray it next week.  Pray it for the rest of your life!  

Also, I invite  you to travel over to our Carpe Diem 2014 blog. Carpe Diem 2014 is a spiritual growth intitiative of Grace Church at Willow Valley. In this new year, we are seeking to SEIZE THE DAY as we strive to know and live God's Word. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Grim Reaper is Reaping Away!

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, it seems like every time I turn around I receive news that the Grim Reaper has struck. I answer my smartphone or read my email only to be told of another death. Among them? Two seniors from our church family; one of our missionary's father; a good friend and former boss' dad; the college student who lived with us for four plus years - her grandfather; and the one that hurt me the most, my own sister. And to have these deaths occur around the holidays, makes a bitter pill even tougher to swallow.

Some of these deaths were anticipated. Others, however, were not. But in either case, when death comes knocking, it is always a bittersweet moment. Bitter because it hurts to be separated from the one you love. To think you will never embrace your loved one (this side of heaven) or hear his or her voice on the phone is tough to handle. Saying "goodbye" is a bitter experience. But for those of us who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, death can be sweet. For in death, we know that our loved one is now at peace. No more pain ... no more heartache ... no more sin. In its place is a joy that I won't even attempt to describe.

So, when death comes knocking at the door of someone you love ... and if that someone knows Jesus .. remember these words of the great evangelist, D. L. Moody: "One day you will hear that D. L. Moody is dead. Don't believe it. For on that day I will be more alive than ever!"

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

PS -- If you have any questions about being prepared for this visit of death that is sure to come your way someday ... please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

I trust you had a great time over the holidays in your gatherings with family and friends. Here are today's thoughts and enjoy your favorite cup of Joe!

1. Over the course of the past two weeks or so, I have received a number of death notifications (two yesterday). The most difficult and personal was the call from my niece telling me that my sister had unexpectedly passed away the day after Christmas. All these messages of death got me thinking about this part of the package we call life. We were not designed by God to deal with death. In fact, death was not part of the package of life until sin entered our world (Romans 5:12). Since we were never intended by our Creator to have to deal with death ... when it comes ... it hurts. And it hurts real bad! Thankfully, for those of us who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have as our constant companion the Comforter (i.e. Holy Spirit - John 14:16). As our helper, he comes alongside of us and offers to us the strength and encouragement that only God can give. So ... if you are grieving today, make sure to reach out and grab HIS hand and receive the peace that passes all understanding!

2. On a lighter note, a friend shared something that made me chuckle. She and  her young granddaughter were watching the Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. When the film portrayed the sleeping Snow White, her granddaughter looked at her grandmother and said, "It's no wonder that Snow White slept so long. She must have been awfully tired after all that cleaning she had done!" Ohhhh ... out of the mouths of babes!  I hope as you journey through this new year with all of its ups and downs, that you will look for those moments that make us laugh. They surround us. But we must slow down and keep our eyes and ears open. Keep in mind that gladness is good for you (Proverbs 15:13)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

BLESSED NEW YEAR 2014!



Toward the end of his great letter to the church at Rome, Paul offers up this benediction (blessing) upon thechurch: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (Romans 16:21). From The Valley of Vision comes this portion of a prayer for the New Year. I offer it up to you to pray for yourself as we begin our journey through 2014. 

O Father, 
Give me Your grace to sanctify me, 
   Your comforts to cheer, 
   Your wisdom to teach, 
   Your right hand to guide, 
   Your counsel to instruct, 
   Your law to judge, 
   Your presence to stabalize, 

May Your fear be my awe, 
   Your triumphs my joy. 

Amen. 

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.