PJ

PJ

Friday, August 29, 2014

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 should make a strong comeback in the next couple of years.

What the heavy ice accumulation did to my trees reminds me of what sin does to all of us. It twists us. It distorts us. It bends and even sometimes breaks us. All of us. No exceptions (I recently said to my wife that all of us are dysfunctional ... its just that some of us are more dysfunctional than others!). Therefore, all of us are in need of the hand of the divine "tree surgeon" to come and prune out the broken and twisted limbs (John 15:1-11). Only as the Master prunes us will we be in a position to bear much fruit for him (AND experience the JOY that comes from doing so!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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 ... populated with broken and twisted people (which, by the way, includes you and me!). This is not God's doing. It's ours. All the evil, the brokenness, the pain and heartache is all the result of our rebellion against the God who made us. And the only solution to this dilemma is found in the greatest act of evil ever perpetuated by man: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Really? How so? I have heard it said that evil committed suicide on the day of Christ's murder. For when evil men fueled by the evil powers of the unseen world nailed Christ to the cross, they were nailing their own death sentence on that cross (Colossians 2:13-15). But what was a death sentence for evil brought for humanity the hope of forgiveness and new life (Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This promise becomes a reality for us when we by faith embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ! My friend, if you have never done so, let me encourage you to check out this message of hope: Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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 Professor of the University is now the Minister of Higher Education and Chancellor of the University of Bangui. He was pleased to receive my congratulation. Than he said to me, "I am sure that you put me on the list of your prayer, because I need wisdom to lead the department I am in charge. I will use the leadership principles you and Pointman Leadership Institute have taught me. My cabinet is wide open for you to come and strengthen my skill in leadership." He even reminded me on the example of me showing the picture of my wife on the screen during the Pointman leadership explaining my engagement in
marriage, where I said that I always has the picture of my wife in my wallet and think of her often when I travel. He said that he never forget that example and want to follow my example.


The second one I taught with today is an  Inspector of Finance former General Director of the Departement of Finance. He is a Deacon of one of our Grace Brethren Churches. He asked me to go and pray with him just after he will begin his new role.


Please pray that doors will be opened for me to minister to those key leaders in this critical time our country is going through. Those Ministers will be in favor of the Government leadership seminar I would like to organize before the élections.


Last Friday, I met with the faculty of the University to set a date for the ceremony where my organization will honor some students who have been in small groups to learn on developing their habitude and attitude of leadership through the book of Dr Tim Elmore, President of Growing Leaders who have been one of our speakers during the students leadership conference in Bangui in 2012. September 27 will be a great day for that event. Please pray that the ceremony will bring a great impact on the students and give my organization to create more small groups.


Thanks for partnership with me in the great ministry God calls me to do even in a very difficult environment.


Together

Dr. Augustin Hibaile 


To stay connected with Augustin's ministry, visit the Friends of CIDEL website. 


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 end of my day, I have already reached the end of my battery! And of course, no juice in the battery .... no use of the smartphone! And what is true of smartphone batteries, is also true of our lives. As we go through our days ... facing the challenges that come with the package of life ... we often start running out of "battery." Our eyelids become heavy. Our feet begin to throb. And a weariness can settle like a wet blanket over our souls. Just as experts encourage a brief "power nap" to increase productivity, you should also consider a five minute "soul-break." To do this, simply grab a verse or brief passage from Scripture, read it ... and then pray it. You will be amazed at the lift you will experience in your soul!

3. As I think about the time I spent last week at the beach ... I just have to smile. Spending 7 days and nights under one roof with our three children and their families has etched a number of heart warming memories on the walls of my mind. It also reminded me of the importance of relationships and how we must make the effort to invest in the important ones in our lives. That means spending time (and quality time at that) with those who are important to us. So ... take a step in that direction today. Turn off the TV. Sign off your computer or tablet. And spend some REAL face time with someone you love! You (and they) will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Glorious Reality of Prayer

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 boldly to the throne, not of judgment, but of grace.”  (John Piper, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully)

Hebrews 4:14-16
 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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

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! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Devil Is in the Details!

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 and told me the funds would be returned to our account.

Concerned that perhaps our account had been hacked, I promptly changed the user id and the password. I then called the payee to whom the payment was made. In the course of this conversation I discovered what happened ... a discovery that left me totally embarrassed yet truly relieved. Are you curious? OK ... I will swallow my dignity and let you know what happened.

It seems that the previous week I had made a very small online payment to this particular payee. But in setting up the payment ... the decimal point was in the wrong place. As a result, what should have been a small payment grew 100 fold!

Now I learned a valuable lesson through all this! PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS! THEY MATTER! This sounds somewhat similar to what the Apostle Paul urged his young friend Timothy to do (1 Timothy 4:16). So remember ... The Devil's in the details!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 die for us ... is the very same God who controls the ebb and flow of human history ... right down to the details of our lives. Wow! That is a powerful, life altering truth. Embrace it and you will find rest even in the midst of life's storms! 

3. During last week's visit to Washington, DC, my wife and I traveled into the city and around the city using the DC Metro. Five different lines service the capital. Now granted, it can be somewhat intimating if one is doing so for the first time. But using the map of the system really does make it simple to get from where you are to where you want to be. But read the map wrong ... and you may very well end up heading in the wrong direction. God gives us a map for life. It is called the Bible. As we use it to navigate through what is often a confusing world, we can get to where we want to go (and I trust that is where GOD wants us to go!). Of course, to use the Bible as our point of reference, we must be in it ... and then we must interpret it properly before applying it to our lives (2 Timothy 3:14). This month at Grace Church, we will be wrapping up our summer sermon series which is all about using the Bible correctly. I hope you can come out and join us at either 9:00 or 10:30 AM! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Beware of Living Life in "Selfie Mode!"


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.


video


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 passing train ... I had the camera focused on me. As you can hear Gary state in the background ... I was still in "selfie-mode!"  

Friends, beware of living your life today (and everyday) in "selfie mode!" Instead live for God and for others! You will be better for it ... and God will be honored by it! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back "at it!"

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 g-g-grandfather was a veteran of the civil war. His wife very involved in charity work in the city. Yet ... nothing was there to testify of the lives they once lived.

The next day we traveled to the Georgetown section of the city to visit Oak Hill Cemetery. We found this cemetery to be the more interesting of the two. In addition to finding the graves (which were marked) of Sharon's ancestors, we also sat in the beautiful cemetery chapel where Abraham Lincoln sat with most of his cabinet on the day of his son Willie's burial. As we walked through the cemetery, our guide, Lou, pointed out a number of graves of note. Heirs of fortunes, political heavyweights, authors and playwrights ... all are buried here. But what grabbed my attention the most were some of the elaborate mausoleums. One, according to Lou, would cost $30 million to build today. Ouch! That sure is not pocket change! But as I thought of the motivation for spending that kind of money for such a monument (and the cost for a burial plot in this cemetery is $65,000 - definitely a burial place for the "rich and famous") - I came to this conclusion: these people did not want to be forgotten. They wanted something to leave behind that people would notice and ... remember.

Now that's understandable. All of us have a deep desire to live a life that matters. A life that, when we breath our last, people will stop and think: he or she lived a "well-lived life!" My friends. You can live such a life. Just remember as you start each day that you will live that day placing God first, others second and yourself third! Then you will leave a living legacy behind ... one that will speak to others from beyond the veil!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 29, 2014

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 should make a strong comeback in the next couple of years.

What the heavy ice accumulation did to my trees reminds me of what sin does to all of us. It twists us. It distorts us. It bends and even sometimes breaks us. All of us. No exceptions (I recently said to my wife that all of us are dysfunctional ... its just that some of us are more dysfunctional than others!). Therefore, all of us are in need of the hand of the divine "tree surgeon" to come and prune out the broken and twisted limbs (John 15:1-11). Only as the Master prunes us will we be in a position to bear much fruit for him (AND experience the JOY that comes from doing so!).

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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 ... populated with broken and twisted people (which, by the way, includes you and me!). This is not God's doing. It's ours. All the evil, the brokenness, the pain and heartache is all the result of our rebellion against the God who made us. And the only solution to this dilemma is found in the greatest act of evil ever perpetuated by man: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Really? How so? I have heard it said that evil committed suicide on the day of Christ's murder. For when evil men fueled by the evil powers of the unseen world nailed Christ to the cross, they were nailing their own death sentence on that cross (Colossians 2:13-15). But what was a death sentence for evil brought for humanity the hope of forgiveness and new life (Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This promise becomes a reality for us when we by faith embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ! My friend, if you have never done so, let me encourage you to check out this message of hope: Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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 Professor of the University is now the Minister of Higher Education and Chancellor of the University of Bangui. He was pleased to receive my congratulation. Than he said to me, "I am sure that you put me on the list of your prayer, because I need wisdom to lead the department I am in charge. I will use the leadership principles you and Pointman Leadership Institute have taught me. My cabinet is wide open for you to come and strengthen my skill in leadership." He even reminded me on the example of me showing the picture of my wife on the screen during the Pointman leadership explaining my engagement in
marriage, where I said that I always has the picture of my wife in my wallet and think of her often when I travel. He said that he never forget that example and want to follow my example.


The second one I taught with today is an  Inspector of Finance former General Director of the Departement of Finance. He is a Deacon of one of our Grace Brethren Churches. He asked me to go and pray with him just after he will begin his new role.


Please pray that doors will be opened for me to minister to those key leaders in this critical time our country is going through. Those Ministers will be in favor of the Government leadership seminar I would like to organize before the élections.


Last Friday, I met with the faculty of the University to set a date for the ceremony where my organization will honor some students who have been in small groups to learn on developing their habitude and attitude of leadership through the book of Dr Tim Elmore, President of Growing Leaders who have been one of our speakers during the students leadership conference in Bangui in 2012. September 27 will be a great day for that event. Please pray that the ceremony will bring a great impact on the students and give my organization to create more small groups.


Thanks for partnership with me in the great ministry God calls me to do even in a very difficult environment.


Together

Dr. Augustin Hibaile 


To stay connected with Augustin's ministry, visit the Friends of CIDEL website. 


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 end of my day, I have already reached the end of my battery! And of course, no juice in the battery .... no use of the smartphone! And what is true of smartphone batteries, is also true of our lives. As we go through our days ... facing the challenges that come with the package of life ... we often start running out of "battery." Our eyelids become heavy. Our feet begin to throb. And a weariness can settle like a wet blanket over our souls. Just as experts encourage a brief "power nap" to increase productivity, you should also consider a five minute "soul-break." To do this, simply grab a verse or brief passage from Scripture, read it ... and then pray it. You will be amazed at the lift you will experience in your soul!

3. As I think about the time I spent last week at the beach ... I just have to smile. Spending 7 days and nights under one roof with our three children and their families has etched a number of heart warming memories on the walls of my mind. It also reminded me of the importance of relationships and how we must make the effort to invest in the important ones in our lives. That means spending time (and quality time at that) with those who are important to us. So ... take a step in that direction today. Turn off the TV. Sign off your computer or tablet. And spend some REAL face time with someone you love! You (and they) will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Glorious Reality of Prayer

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 boldly to the throne, not of judgment, but of grace.”  (John Piper, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully)

Hebrews 4:14-16
 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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

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! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Devil Is in the Details!

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 and told me the funds would be returned to our account.

Concerned that perhaps our account had been hacked, I promptly changed the user id and the password. I then called the payee to whom the payment was made. In the course of this conversation I discovered what happened ... a discovery that left me totally embarrassed yet truly relieved. Are you curious? OK ... I will swallow my dignity and let you know what happened.

It seems that the previous week I had made a very small online payment to this particular payee. But in setting up the payment ... the decimal point was in the wrong place. As a result, what should have been a small payment grew 100 fold!

Now I learned a valuable lesson through all this! PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS! THEY MATTER! This sounds somewhat similar to what the Apostle Paul urged his young friend Timothy to do (1 Timothy 4:16). So remember ... The Devil's in the details!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 die for us ... is the very same God who controls the ebb and flow of human history ... right down to the details of our lives. Wow! That is a powerful, life altering truth. Embrace it and you will find rest even in the midst of life's storms! 

3. During last week's visit to Washington, DC, my wife and I traveled into the city and around the city using the DC Metro. Five different lines service the capital. Now granted, it can be somewhat intimating if one is doing so for the first time. But using the map of the system really does make it simple to get from where you are to where you want to be. But read the map wrong ... and you may very well end up heading in the wrong direction. God gives us a map for life. It is called the Bible. As we use it to navigate through what is often a confusing world, we can get to where we want to go (and I trust that is where GOD wants us to go!). Of course, to use the Bible as our point of reference, we must be in it ... and then we must interpret it properly before applying it to our lives (2 Timothy 3:14). This month at Grace Church, we will be wrapping up our summer sermon series which is all about using the Bible correctly. I hope you can come out and join us at either 9:00 or 10:30 AM! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Beware of Living Life in "Selfie Mode!"


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.


video


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 passing train ... I had the camera focused on me. As you can hear Gary state in the background ... I was still in "selfie-mode!"  

Friends, beware of living your life today (and everyday) in "selfie mode!" Instead live for God and for others! You will be better for it ... and God will be honored by it! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back "at it!"

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 g-g-grandfather was a veteran of the civil war. His wife very involved in charity work in the city. Yet ... nothing was there to testify of the lives they once lived.

The next day we traveled to the Georgetown section of the city to visit Oak Hill Cemetery. We found this cemetery to be the more interesting of the two. In addition to finding the graves (which were marked) of Sharon's ancestors, we also sat in the beautiful cemetery chapel where Abraham Lincoln sat with most of his cabinet on the day of his son Willie's burial. As we walked through the cemetery, our guide, Lou, pointed out a number of graves of note. Heirs of fortunes, political heavyweights, authors and playwrights ... all are buried here. But what grabbed my attention the most were some of the elaborate mausoleums. One, according to Lou, would cost $30 million to build today. Ouch! That sure is not pocket change! But as I thought of the motivation for spending that kind of money for such a monument (and the cost for a burial plot in this cemetery is $65,000 - definitely a burial place for the "rich and famous") - I came to this conclusion: these people did not want to be forgotten. They wanted something to leave behind that people would notice and ... remember.

Now that's understandable. All of us have a deep desire to live a life that matters. A life that, when we breath our last, people will stop and think: he or she lived a "well-lived life!" My friends. You can live such a life. Just remember as you start each day that you will live that day placing God first, others second and yourself third! Then you will leave a living legacy behind ... one that will speak to others from beyond the veil!

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.