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Showing posts from 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Christmas Edition

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It's hard to believe that Christmas Day is here! I am still trying to figure out where last summer went!
But, with the mild weather of this week, it sure doesn't "feel" like Christmas!

Pretty soon, my house will be filled with the sounds of little kids giggling and laughing as our grandkids arrive for our Christmas Day Smith family holiday celebration. But before they come, I am enjoying a couple of cups of my favorite coffee (San Fransisco Bay Fog Chaser) ... AND the peace and quiet of the day!

On this special day ... if you can make the time ... I believe your heart will be warmed and your faith will be strengthened by John Piper's reading of his book, The Innkeeper.




I hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year! 
Thanks for stopping by . . .  pj

Update on Central African Republic

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The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries on earth. The average person earns less than $2 per day, making the C.A.R. the third poorest in the world. It is also one of the most miserable, with political instability and violence still preventing any movement toward a better living for the five million people who live there (click here for an International Red Cross video, just released today, that will give you an idea of the conditions many people in the CAR currently face).  In the face of such suffering, what can we do?

1. PRAY! National elections are taking place this coming Sunday, December 27th. Pray that God, through the votes of the people, will put into office men and women who care about the needs of the people and the future of the country. Pray also for the ministry of my dear friend, Dr. Augustin Hibaile, who directs the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership). Augustin has access to government leaders at the highest levels. Pray …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Sorry folks for the delay this morning. Last week I was on vacation, spending much of my time helping my wife and getting her out some to finish up our Christmas shopping. So being off last week got me behind for this week ... but I am ready, so pour yourself a cup of coffee (I am on my second cup) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I just heard that Pope Francis has approved sainthood for sister Theresa. Apparently some miracle of healing occurred that has been attributed to Theresa. Therefore the Pope has cleared the way for her to be canonized a saint. A couple of thoughts are floating around my head as I think of this. For starters, I cannot say definitively if this alleged miracle actually occurred. It very well may have happened for God does indeed heal today. But certainly not due to any prayers offered up to this woman (1 Timothy 2:5). But secondly, the Bible is clear that every single person who embraces the gospel and turns from their sin and rebellion against God is …

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Mid Morning Edition

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Hope you have enjoyed your morning cup of coffee by now. I just finished my third and I think I am finally awake enough to share a few thoughts with you.

1. My wife had her post-op appointment yesterday. Although it is too early to tell if the broken femur is mending, the surgeon was positive about what he was seeing on the x-ray. Sharon will go back in four weeks at which time x-rays should be much more telling. Please pray for the mending of this bone (to help this along, Sharon will not be able to put ANY weight on her leg for at least the next four weeks). In addition, she will resume physical therapy next week to start working on motion in her knee. Would appreciate your prayers for her along that line as well. Sharon and I have found much comfort in our understanding that even though this caught the two of us by surprise, it did not catch our God by surprise. He has a plan for us and he is actively working that plan. Knowing this has helped us keep our sanity .. and our faith! …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Now that Thanksgiving Day is over, it's time to pour yourself a cup of hot coffee for breakfast. Skip everything else. You probably ate enough calories yesterday to get you through the rest of the month. And if you are planning on going out shopping today (or just getting back), please be wary of getting caught up in the pervasive consumerism of our day!

1. In case you might fear that you are drinking too much coffee, relax and read about the 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee, So Drink Up (not that I need any encouragement to do so!).

2.  "Christianity is much more than getting your doctrine right. But it is not less."  These are the opening words of Kevin DeYoung's recent post, "Doctrine Matters: Eternal Life Depends Upon It."  In a day and age when so many in the church find doctrine dry and boring, these thoughts of DeYoung are definitely worth the few minutes it will take you to read them.

3. Finally, an update on my wife Sharon. According to her …

Happy Thanksgiving!

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On this Thanksgiving Day, two quotes concerning gratitude which grip my heart every time I read them:

From Nancy DeMoss – Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy
“Gratitude is not merely a second-tier virtue in the Christian life – it is vital. And it is transformational. I truly believe a grateful spirit, rooted in the soil of God’s goodness and grace, will radically impact how you view and respond to everything in your life.”
From Ellen Vaughn - Radical Gratitude: Discovering Joy through Everyday Thankfulness
“Cultivating a grateful heart is not just an add-on nicety, a civil tip of the hat to God as we steamroll through our day. A posture of purposeful, perpetual thanks to God is absolutely central to Christian character. It gives glory to Him. It is the key defense against Satan’s temptations to despair, distrust, dysfunction. It protects us from sin and self. It is the hallmark of heaven. It does not exist in hell.” 

Thanks for stopping by . . .  pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Thanks for joining me for a cup of coffee and some random thoughts ...

1. I am now in my 27th year of pastoring Grace Church at Willow Valley. Across the years I have seen people come and go, preached well over a thousand times, sung innumerable songs in worship, prayed I don't know how many prayers. I have lost track of the weddings officiated and the funerals conducted. But one thing I have not last track of is the greatness and goodness of my God. To say that our God is an awesome God doesn't seem quite enough. But I can't think of anything better to say about him. He is awesome in holiness, love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, truth, justice, and on and on it goes. I am so thankful that over 26 years ago he led me to Grace Church. From the first Sunday here I began to fall in love with the church family. It surely looks different today then back then, but my love for the church has only grown. SO ... if you are a part of the family at Grace ... know this: God in Christ lov…

Friday's Coffee with PJ

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Fridays keep rolling around at a pace that does not relent! We are now within two weeks of Thanksgiving Day! Wow! SO .... take some time to slow down and pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee while joining me for a few random thoughts.

1. I am really getting sick of going to doctors! I think in the past year and a half, I have been to more doctor offices than my entire life (well ... given my age, probably not ... but it sure seems to be true!). I have had a torn distal biceps tendon repaired (this took five months from the time of the initial injury until the surgery ... in part due to my family physician trying to figure out what was behind my persistent arm pain). Then there was the follow up to the surgery and some complications, all of which led to the determination that I need another surgery due to another problem with my arm/wrist. In the midst of this, I endured a kidney stone episode last fall which led to a surgical procedure in January (and I  have another follow up…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Sorry I missed our coffee time last week. Was enjoying a week of "staycation" with my wife. I also needed to catch up on some chores around the house. So ... I caught up on those and also caught up on some much needed rest! All in all ... a great week! Now it's back to the grind ... so grind your coffee beans (or whatever method you use to brew your coffee) ... and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Yesterday, one of my staff members here at church, invited me to attend Lancaster Bible College's chapel to hear Jared Wilson speak. I had read and appreciated a number of things Jared had written. So I was looking forward to hearing him speak. I was not disappointed. The biggest takeaway for me from what he taught was this statement: "If you find the gospel boring, the problem in not with the gospel. It's with you!" He then went on to list a number of incredible blessings that are ours because of the gospel (and our response to it ... "repenting and…
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Friday morning coffee with PJ time! I hope you are ready to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a few random thoughts ... the coffee will warm your bod .... and I hope the thoughts will draw you to God!

1. Meditation. When we hear this word, we often envision a group of monks dressed in flowing robes, surrounded by a cloud of incense, chanting as they "empty" their minds of any thoughts of this world in order to focus on a mystical, other-worldly (and non existent!) god. Therefore, we who have chosen to follow Jesus often dismiss any thought of meditating. After all, its for eastern mystics ... right? Wrong! The Bible uses the world "meditate" in some form about two dozen times. As we examine these occurrences, it becomes very evident very quickly, that the Bible's portrayal of mediation is nothing like what is mentioned above. The Bible is clear. When we meditate, we are to meditate upon the Scriptures (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3). This meditation is not something we…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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There's not a better way to wake up then with some freshly brewed coffee in my cup ... or should I say "cups!" I just can't stop with one or even two cups. Three seems like the perfect number for me! So ... pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Next month will mark twenty years since I began to teach as an adjunct in Lancaster Bible College's degree completion program for adults (the program is now called Accelerated Undergraduate Degrees). I teach in this particular program for several reasons. I enjoy teaching (and learning from) adults. The format fits my busy schedule well (each course is taught once a week (Tuesdays from 6-10pm) for five weeks). For the past few years I have been teaching three courses each year ... Apocalyptic Literature, The Pentateuch, and Christian Narrative 1. Teaching at the college keeps me sharp which helps in my own teaching and preaching ministry at Grace. One of the big blessings of…
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Friday morning coffee time ... or better said ... Friday morning coffee with PJ time! I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I have writing them! And I most certainly hope you enjoy your coffee!

1. I ran across a new word this week. It's the word "phubbing." The word is actually short for "phone snubbing," This occurs when you ignore someone in favor of your phone. A few years ago I was being phubbed and didn't even know I was being phubbed! But I did know that I did not like the process! I was having a lunch meeting with someone (at his request, not mine). At least a dozen times in the 30 minutes or so that we were lunching "together," his phone would vibrate as it laid on the table. He would excuse himself, read and then respond to the incoming text. I don't think I need to tell you how that made me feel. Let's just say I have not had lunch with him since! SO ... have you been phubbed lately? Perhaps you have been the one doing…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friday morning ... Friday coffee ... and a few random thoughts from my brain to yours. Does it get much better than that? Yep ... it sure does (thankfully so!)!

1. The other day as Sharon and I sat in the waiting area of her physical therapist, an older gentleman (and the older I get ... the older others get when I use the term "older!") walked in the door and plopped down in the chair next to my wife. He looked at her swollen right knee with the zipper that is still healing and said, "Oh, I see you had a knee replacement." (Hmm .... that was a pretty observant comment, I remember thinking!) My wife nodded her head and went on to give him the details. When she finished, he replied, "Yep. I had one about ten years ago. I did not even have to use any pain medication. Once in a while I would pop a Tylenol ... but that was about it. And I did not go for any physical therapy. Did it all myself at home." As he finished that line, his name was called and off he…

Friday Coffee with PJ - Special Wednesday Edition

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If you are like me ... you drink coffee (and several cups) on other days besides Friday. .So I thought you might want to join me for a random thought or two here in the middle of the week.

1. For some people, the lunar eclipse on Sunday evening was magnificent to see. For others who looked toward the sky it was "Where's this eclipse everyone is talking about?" The difference is that the former were looking up into clear skies. For the latter, clouds obscured their view of the moon. As I reflect on this it reminds me of how some Christians can look toward heaven and see eternity. As a result, their lives are different as they live in the here and now in light of the there and then. However there are many other believers (myself included far too often here) that allow this or that to obscure our view of heaven. It may be material things ... or a desire to be entertained ... or careers ... or friends ... or ... But I am guessing you know what I am talking about. The Bible …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friends ... it's Friday ... it's time for another cup of coffee with PJ! So pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew (mine is San Fransisco Fog Chaser) .... and enjoy a few random thoughts with me.

1. Wednesday marked the first day of autumn! That means winter is "on deck" as far as the seasons go. I just saw a long range forecast for this upcoming winter from one of my favorite meterologists (Joe Bastardi) who also happens to be one of the most accurate when it comes to long range forecasting (you can follow Joe on twitter at @BigJoeBastardi). Joe is forecasting a winter for our area that is below average in temperature and above average in precipitation (and given the temperature forecast I am guessing that much of the precip that will fall will be of the frozen variety ---- I am trying to avoid the "s" word!). Now ... time will tell whether or not Joe got this right (and based on his track record he is more often right than wrong). So we will revisit h…
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Friday mornings is coffee time for me (well, EVERY morning is coffee time for me!). If you enjoy coffee ... I invite you to pour a cup and enjoy a few minutes with me (and if you don't enjoy coffee, I hope you don't run off!).

1. I recently went out and bought a new pair of shoes (I actually bought two because the store was offering buy one get a second pair half off). The day after I bought them, I wore one of the pairs. By the day's end I was more than ready to take them off (my "dogs" were really barking!). As you well know, it takes some time to break in a new pair of shoes. So you have to put up with the stiffness and discomfort for a time. This week my wife has been working on "breaking in" her new knee (which looks really cool on the x-rays she had done at her post-op visit). And after watching my wife go through this process, I have added to my prayer list, "Lord let me keep my original knees!" It has not been an easy path for her to …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friday morning means .... coffee time! (well, any morning means coffee time in my book!). So ...
pour yourself a steamy hot cup of joe and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Speed bumps. Don't you hate them? Especially when you aren't paying enough attention to your driving and you hit one without warning? Speed bumps are there for a purpose ... to slow us down! Which is definitely a GOOD thing ... even though we like to complain about them. Our journey through life contains "speed bumps." These are circumstances that come our way that slow us down. And as their counterparts on the streets we drive .... we grumble about these as well. Last Friday my wife underwent a total knee replacement surgery. From the very get go we began to encounter speed bumps. For starters, the anesthesiologist could not administer the spinal block they planned to use due to Sharon's 25 year old back fusion. So they had to administer a heavier general anesthetic. This in turn c…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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It's Friday!!!!!  So it's time to pour yourself a cup of that wonderful beverage we call "coffee" and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Bertrand Russel once said, "Many Christians would rather die than think; in fact, they do!" Ouch! Sad to say, what he said half a century or so ago is just as true (if not more so) today. But following Christ does not require us to check our brains at the door of the church. God calls upon us to love him with all of our hearts, souls and minds (Matthew 22:37). Our faith is not a "leap into intellectual darkness!" There is evidence for our faith. And when one follows the evidence, it leads to the God who made us ... the God to whom we are accountable (Romans 1:18-20). Regrettably, the mass of humanity takes this evidence and suppresses it (Romans 1:18) and exchange it for a lie (Romans 1:25). But for those of us who take God at His Word .... we can ill afford NOT TO THINK. Consider these words written by…
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Today is the FINAL Friday of August AND the final Friday of meterological summer! Boo!!! Summer is my favorite season of the year. And although I do enjoy the fall .... knowing that winter lurks around the corner saddens my soul!  So, enough of that. Thanks for joining me for a cup of coffee and a couple of random thoughts that I hope will strengthen your faith and encourage your soul!

1. If you have been in touch with any news reports of late, the name Ashley Madison should sound familiar. This is the website which allows married people to find other people with whom to have an affair. I never knew such a website existed ... as I am sure is true for many of you. But when hackers obtained the names of those who have used the website, a firestorm erupted. Those who had thought their extramarital activities were "secret" now were frantic with fear. And there were a lot of people in this boat! Of all the zip codes in the United States, only three did not have an address linked…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Once again Friday has arrived! So ... you know the routine ... pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew. Not only will you enjoy a delightful way of waking up . . . but you will enjoy a multitude of health benefits that coffee offers (so quick ...drink up before researches change their tune!). 


1. I am sorry I missed you last week. Our family was on what has become our annual beach vacation. It may not be the most relaxing vacation of my year ... but it is a boatload of fun! Watching "the little kids" interact with one another can be a downright hoot at times (they are 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 years of age). And of course, I just love spending time with them. But what I need to remember is that I am a bit older than I was when I played with my own kids! One of the things I tackled was to haul the grandkids around in a little red wagon (see pic). Fun? Yes! But I sure wished I would have skipped that activity! As a result of the pulling and pushing of the wagon through the sand, I pu…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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It's the end of the work week (for most of you ... definitely not for me!). So celebrate with a good hot cup of coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Yesterday, at the conclusion of my Chinese lunch, the server brought me and my lunch partner the customary fortune cookie. I don't recall the bit of wisdom my fortune cookie revealed once I broke it open ... but I was struck by my friend's. His fortune read, "The gift without the giver is bare." Hmm, I thought to myself. That is really good! Don't you agree? How often do we enjoy God's gifts which he so generously showers us with ... without giving a thought to HIM as the GIVER of these gifts (James 1:17), In doing so, we miss the greatest blessing of all ... that of enjoying God Himself!  I encourage you at some point today ... take out a piece of paper (or call up whatever note taking app you use on your phone or tablet) and draw up a list of gifts God has given you. Then spend some time with h…