Showing posts from September, 2014

Two Weeks, Two Firsts!

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

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

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

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

Now my…

Encouragement Needed ... Encouragement Received!

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

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

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

Friday Coffee with PJ - Yet Another Special Weekend Edition

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

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

A Journey Unforseen and Unenjoyed!

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

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


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

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

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

Friday Coffee with PJ ... Special Weekend Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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