Friday Coffee with PJ

Sorry that I have missed the past couple of Fridays ... just been a bit on the busy side. But back today ... so grab your favorite cup of coffee (or whatever you drink on a cold morning) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. It is apparent to every Christian who does not have their head buried in the sand that our culture is moving further away from Christian beliefs and morality. On many occasions I have heard believers bemoan this fact. But here is an interesting take on this situation from the pen of C.S. Lewis:

"Christians increasingly live on a spiritual island; new and rival ways of life surround it in all directions and their tides come further up the beach every time. . . . Some give morality a wholly new meaning which we cannot accept, some deny its possibility.  Perhaps we shall all learn, sharply enough, to value the clean air and 'sweet reasonableness' of the Christians ethics which in a more Christian age we might have taken for granted."

2. I want to give a shout out to my nephew, Mike Graybill. He is the coach of the girls basketball team at Christian School of York (and has been for a number of years). Later today his team will be playing for the single A district three title against Lebanon Catholic. The game is set for 4:30 at the Giant Center in Hershey. Go CSOY! 

Friday morning update: Since I wrote this post yesterday, I can now let you know that CSOY lost to perennial powerhouse Lebanon Catholic, 40-20. It was Catholic's 17th district title. Congrats to my nephew and his team for a great season!

3. Recently my almost four year old grandson, Nolan was playing with my almost three year old granddaughter Molly. They were playing with little stuffed puppy dogs. Here's how the conversation went down as they began to play: 

Nolan - "Oh boy, I am going to shoot da puppies!" (I guess he thought he was going hunting!) 
Mollie - "No, Nowan. I love puppies. Pweese don't shoot dem." 
Nolan - "OK, Mowie. I won't shoot dem." 
Mollie - "Tank you, Nolan."
Nolan - "You welcome, Mowie" 

Certainly a cute exchange. But one we adults can learn from. Far too often we live our lives with ourselves at the center. At these times, life is all about ME, MYSELF, and I! But the Bible encourages us to live life differently. In Philippians 2:3-4, the Apostle Paul lays out for us a strategy for our interpersonal relationships. Bottom line he tells us we need to put others before ourselves. That does not come naturally. That is why we need the supernatural help of the Spirit of God to do so. So let me ask you ... whose agenda are you pushing? Yours? Or God's - which has near the top to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Plans . . .

Last week I was scheduled to attend Grace College and Seminary Board meetings in Winona Lake, Indiana. So last month, I made my plans to travel there and back. Below is the plan .... and then the reality:


Tuesday, Feb. 17th - Fly from Philadelphia to Fort Wayne (Indiana) on a direct flight; flight departs Philadelphia at 11:07 AM and arrives Fort Wayne 1:09 PM

Saturday, Feb. 21st - Return flight Fort Wayne direct to Philadelphia; flight departs Fort Wayne at 7:20 AM  and arrives Philadelphia 9:08 AM


Monday, Feb. 16th - USAirways issues a travel advisory for flights departing from Philadelphia the next day (Tuesday). With the forecast calling for several inches of snow (beginning shortly before the time I would be leaving for the airport), I took advantage of USAirways waving of the ticket change fee ($200) to rebook for a Wednesday morning flight. Glad I did as many flights were cancelled on Tuesday, including mine.

Wednesday, February 18th - Boarded my flight for Fort Wayne on time (departure scheduled for 11:07 AM). 30 minutes later we were deplaned. The pilot explained that the aircraft was experiencing a mechanical problem which was preventing the plane from being fueled. We were told to remain near the gate in hopes that the problem could be fixed and we could be on our way. After waiting for another half hour, the flight was canceled. I was rebooked along with most of the other passengers on the next available flight, due to depart at 6:20 PM. However the plane which we were going to take from Philadelphia to Fort Wayne (coming into Philadelphia from Pittsburgh), experienced mechanical issues in Pittsburgh. Bottom line: we finally departed Philadelphia at 9:05 PM. By the time I rented my car and drove the 50 minutes or so to Winona Lake, I got in after midnight. Needless to say I missed the day's meetings entirely.

Saturday, February 21 - Boarded my flight from Fort Wayne on time. However because it was snowing in Fort Wayne at the time, the plane needed to be deiced. Just as we were about to undergo deicing, an earlier flight which had already departed, had returned to the airport for additional deicing. They had priority over us and so they were deiced before we were. When it was all said and done (which included the time for the previous flight to be deiced and for our plane to be deiced twice) we departed Fort Wayne about an hour and a half behind schedule. Once I arrived at the Philadelphia airport, I contacted the parking service I had used to park my vehicle. Their shuttle arrived promptly and took me back to the parking lot. Got in my car, paid my bill, and was on my way. If you recall the weather on Saturday, a significant snowfall was forecasted. I was hoping to beat the snow home.  About 10 miles down the road I stopped at a WaWa to get a cup of coffee. Just after pouring my coffee, I received a call from the parking lot people. They called to let me know that they had forgotten to return my credit card. Now I take some responsibility for that. I should've noticed. However I was tired, and I was focused on getting home before the storm. So I backtracked to the parking lot to retrieve my credit card (they did give me a coupon for a free days parking for my next trip. Hmm. Don't even want to think about a next trip just now!). This added a bit over a half hour to my trip. I'm glad to say, that from that point on the rest of my trip went as planned!

So my friends, a couple of "takeaways" from all of this. First of all, I discovered that the F terminal at Philly international airport is not a bad place to hang out for a day. The terminal has a small food court with some good eating options and there are power stations available to charge one's electronics. So if you ever get stuck as I did at the F terminal at the Philly airport, you won't starve and you'll be able to stay connected! But on a more serious note, my experience is a good reminder that no matter how hard we plan, there are just many contingencies that are outside of our control. But here's the good news. They are not outside of God's control! I reminded myself of that reality numerous times throughout the day. For reasons known only to God, what actually happened in my travels last week, might not have been my part of my plan, but was certainly part of his (Ephesians 1:11).

Thanks for stopping by . . .

UPDATE: Thursday, February 26th - Interesting that I should post this blog on Tuesday. Last night, the team leader (of a team of three) of a planned missions trip to Haiti underwent emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Needless to say, the trip is in the process of being rescheduled for later this spring (the team leader is an electrician whose skills are necessary to complete the project they were going to work on). So glad this happened while the team was still stateside. Just another example of our plans not always going as scheduled. But we can (and must) trust God through our disappointments. O God, we believe, help our unbelief!

Beware of a Quick Tongue

Winston Churchill, the courageous British Prime Minister who led his nation through the darkest of days during the Nazi bombing of London, was known for his wit and sometimes sharp tongue. Concerning the tongue, he himself said, "We are masters of unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out." On this Churchill was right on!

I wonder how many of us suffer from what I call "diarrhea of the mouth?" Far too many of us begin to wag our tongues before our mind is in gear! All of us could benefit from the wisdom offered to us in Proverbs 10:19: "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

So I challenge you today to think before you speak. A word once spoken can never be retrieved.

Thanks for stopping by,

Our Plans Change . . . Our God Does Not!

My original plan for today would have put me arriving in Fort Wayne, Indiana right about now. However, here I am typing up this blog post instead. You see I was supposed to be out in Winona Lake, Indiana later today for the start of Grace College and seminary board meetings tomorrow. However, due to the winter weather that was forecast for today, I rebooked my flight yesterday for tomorrow morning. It's a good thing I did, as sure enough my flight from Philadelphia to Fort Wayne was canceled. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day! And, I am sure hoping that my flight home Saturday morning will be on time and uneventful!

Now when you fly in winter months, you can expect these sorts of changes. It's all part of the package of flying at this time of year. So you just have to learn to deal with it! But isn't it good to know, that our God never changes. His will, his character, his word, his plans have never, nor will ever change (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). So in the midst of life's turbulence, it's great to know that we can find stability in the God who made us and keeps us firmly in his grip!

Thanks for stopping by,

Update, Wednesday February 18th: Well my morning flight from Philadelphia to Fort Wayne was cancelled after an hour delay due to a maintenance issue. Rebooked on a 6:20 pm flight. It's the last flight of day ... So I am hoping for no more snags!

Update, Thursday, February 19: as it turned out, my 6:20 flight last evening was delayed until 9:05 PM. So by the time I got the Fort Wayne, rented a car, and drove to Winona Lake ... It was past midnight. On a night when the temperature was below zero, after a day of much frustration, the hotel's bed felt wonderful!

Friday coffee with PJ

Well it's Friday again, and that means a fresh cup of brewed Joe to start my day. I'm not sure if this is how you start your day, but we all can't start our days off in the perfect fashion! :-)  But no matter how you start your day, here are a couple of random thoughts for you to think about.

1. The journalistic world was rocked this week when NBC news took the harsh steps of suspending their store anchor of NBC nightly news for six months without pay. What was Brian Williams crime? It appears that on at least one occasion he exaggerated the truth. The situation at the center of the controversy involved a report on events that occurred while Williams was covering the Iraqi war on the ground in Iraq. He claimed that the helicopter that he and his crew were on had been hit by enemy fire. This claim has been refuted by the soldiers who were present. Now why would Williams make this claim if it wasn't true? I believe the answer is pretty obvious. He wanted to make his story sound more exciting than it really was. I am guessing in his mind this would cause more people to tune in to hear the news reported by a man who had come under enemy fire. Now what he did was not all that unusual. We are all guilty of exaggerating the truth (think of the fisherman who talks about the one that got away. After enough tellings the fish that got away has grown from a good-sized fish to a monster fish. One that most certainly would've set some fishing records!). So before we come down too hard on Brian Williams, we all need to take a look in the mirror. All of us need to be speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)! All of us need to be pursuing honesty knowing that honesty is always the best policy. Integrity is hard to come by. But as Brian Williams has learned, it is so easy to lose (Proverbs 28:18).

2. This evening I'll be doing something I've done many many times in the past. I will be officiating a wedding ceremony. Every time I do so I am reminded of God's gift to us in giving us the marriage relationship. It's fascinating to note that in the Genesis account of creation, the very first thing that God saw that was not good was that Adam, the first man, was alone. God resolved the problem by creating Eve, the first woman. He then brought Eve to Adam and the two became humanity's first married couple. God's desire for Adam and Eve was that they would become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). My friends, God desires husbands and wives to experience intimacy in every arena of life. This oneness is a true blessing from the God who made us. But this oneness doesn't "just happen!" It takes a lot of work. It requires a lot of effort! So my question to you if you're married is this: how much effort are you putting in to your marriage? What you put in will go a long way in determining what you get out of this most precious of human relationships!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

A Prayer from Yesteryear for Today!

I just love reading and praying the prayers of the Puritans. These men and women of centuries ago really knew their God ... and that comes out in a powerful way in their prayers. Here is a portion of a prayer that I read (and prayed) today. I invite you to take a moment and pray it, too.

"Thou incomprehensible but prayer hearing God,  
To you I come in my difficulties, necessities, distresses; possess me with yourself, with a spirit of grace and supplication, with a prayerful attitude of mind, with access into warmth of fellowship, so that in the ordinary concerns of life my thoughts and desires may rise to you, and in habitual devotion I may find a resource that will soothe my sorrows, sanctify my successes, and qualify me and always for dealings with my fellow men."

Thanks for stopping by...


Back from Hiatus

Well, it's been 18 days since my last post. Some of you might be wondering if I had skipped town. No, just the opposite. I have been pretty much confined to home. In fact, nine of those days were spent almost exclusively at home. It all started with a surgical procedure on Tuesday, January 27th. After recovering from that, I came down with the flu (yep, got the flu shot ... and, like the experts warned, this year's vaccine was only 25% effective!). So, I have been a bit "out of the loop" the past couple of weeks. 

But now I am back ... for better or for worse! But in the midst of this down time, God has been reminding me of how self-sufficient I can tend to be. And you know, HE (as always) is right on the mark. My self-sufficiency probably comes out most clearly in my prayer life (or at times LACK of a prayer life). If I truly believed that all that I do in life and ministry is dependent upon God and his enablement --- I would pray far more than I do. How about you? Do your prayers (or lack of prayers) demonstrate more self-sufficiency or more God-dependency? Now there's a question ALL of us would benefit by answering honestly ... and then, with God's help ... make some needed changes in how we live and pray! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means COFFEE! (frankly, every morning means coffee for me)! So why not pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join m...