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Showing posts from August, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

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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?

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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!

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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…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Now that I am back from the beach ... it's time for a cup of coffee and some thoughts from here and there.

1. Just heard yesterday that the Farmer's Almanac is forecasting the upcoming winter to be a very cold one. That is certainly something I really don't want to hear! I am hoping that the Almanac is wrong on this one! But, time will tell. And if it turns out to be a very cold winter ... well, we will just have to deal with it. But when it comes to relationships, there is no excuse for us to be "cold" toward others. In fact, based on what Scripture teaches us in this arena, love is to characterize our interactions with others. So ... as you go about your day, even if you are having one of those horrible, no good, downright nasty days...don't take it out on those around you. Rather offer to all a warm smile that flows from a loving heart!

2. One of my greatest frustrations with my smartphone is the poor battery life. Almost without exception, before I reach…

The Glorious Reality of Prayer

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Every so often I stumble across something someone has written that really grips my soul. Last week was one of those moments. As I was reading John Piper's new book, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield and C.S. Lewis,the following words of Piper struck a chord in my heart. Earlier today I shared them with our church staff. Now I share them with you. Take a moment and read his words ... and then take another moment and read God's words. Your prayers should be better and more often as a result!

“My guess is that when you read my phrase ‘glorious reality of prayer’ you feel a disconnect between my big language and your small experience of prayer. Yes. So do I. But just a moment's reflection and you realize prayer is glorious. How could talking to the Creator of the universe personally not be glorious? How could something not be glorious that cost the Son of God his life, so that sinners may come bold…

There's Old ... and Then There's Really Old!

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Recently I got to wondering what the age of the oldest living American was. So I googled “oldest living American” and found the answer. Her name is Gertrude Weaver and she was born on July 4, 1988. That makes her 116 years old! And as old as I feel some days, I am nowhere close to that age (you can read about this amazing woman right here!
Indeed, 116 years of living is a long time! But even Gertrude's longevity is just a puff of smoke when compared to eternity.  As James writes, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).  So – life is short (yes even a life that extends more than a century!).  Don’t waste it!  Each year, each day, each hour, each moment is a precious gift from God.  Let’s take these gifts and use them for HIS glory! 
Thanks for stopping by . . .  pj
PS - the pic is for all you Star Trek fans out there!

The Devil Is in the Details!

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The phrase, "The Devil is in the details" is an idiom which expresses the reality that details are important. It is a phrase that I find myself using from time to time to communicate to people just how important details can be. In fact, not paying close enough attention to even little details can lead to a big mess. I was reminded of this last week. I often check my online bank and credit card accounts to make sure all is well. When I did so last week, I was stunned to see a very large withdrawal from my checking account. One that I in no way expected. I called the bank as soon as they opened. They informed me that the payment was authorized by a user on the account. "Impossible," I replied, and proceeded to tell the customer service representative that I was the only one who used our online banking. I then asked if our checking account had been compromised. She indicated that she did not know for sure, but did not think so. She immediately issued a stop payment a…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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1. In yesterday's blog post, I posted a video of what happened when I tried to shoot a quick video of a passing train. I mentioned that my one grandson just LOVES trains. Last summer, as my wife and I paroused the gift shop at Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, PA ... we spotted the perfect Christmas gift for our grandson. A DVD of trains taking the curve. At one point in early January, our daughter Kate told us that she and her husband were growing quite tired of the DVD as grandson John insisted on watching it every night for his evening "show!" I was reminded of this because yesterday she sent us a video clip of John yet again jumping up and down as he watched the trains taking the curve!  Wow! If we could only love God with such intensity! 

2.  Given the turbulent world in which we live, I find much comfort in these words of C.H. Spurgeon. No matter what trial might happen to crash into our lives, we can find encouragement knowing that the God who sent his very own Son to …

Beware of Living Life in "Selfie Mode!"

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Last evening our Life Group spent a delightful evening cruising the Susquehanna River. The mild weather and calm surface made for one smooth ride. Eagle sightings, an assortment of taste bud tickling snacks and a boat full (literally!) of laughter made it a night to remember.

At one point, the quiet of the river was interrupted by the horn of a coming train. I quickly whipped out my phone to video tape the train for my grandson, John. He is one four year old who is in the midst of a passionate love affair with trains. But .... what happened next is downright funny. Take a look.




Now as I reflected on what I did ... it reminds me of how we so often live life. Instead of focusing on God and others (ala the Two Great Commandments - Matthew 22:34-40), we focus on SELF. Yep! So true. The default setting of our broken, twisted, fallen, sinful humanity is to do just that. Selfishness is not something we must learn ... it just comes naturally! So just as I was trying to capture a video of a p…

Back "at it!"

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My wife and I enjoyed our "road trip" of last week. Leaving Tuesday we traveled to such places as Hagerstown, Cumberland, Rockville, and Williamsport (all in Maryland); Bear Run and Mill Run (both in Pennsylvania); and lastly, Washington, D.C. During this time we walked along the tow path of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, visited with a long time friend, and toured many of the D.C. attractions, including the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Museum of American History. But our most unusual stop in D.C. were two very old cemeteries.

Our first cemetery stop was the Congressional Cemetery, located just two Metro stops from Capitol Hill. There, after some searching and with the needed help of a cemetery employee, we were able to find the unmarked graves my wife's great-great grandparents, Hanse and Emily Smith (I just knew my wife had to have some Smith blood flowing through her veins when I met her!). It was rather sad to see no grave stone bearing their names. Sharon's…