Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday again ... so grab that cup of your favorite Joe (and if you don't drink coffee ... why not give it a try?) ... and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Compassion in a pill. That's right. According to a Time article, researchers at the University of California Berkley and the University of San Fransisco are suggesting that their research suggests that by "manipulating a brain chemical, people can become more compassionate." Hmm. I have enough pills to take and certainly don't need one more. I think walking with God's Spirit will do far more to increase our compassion level than swallowing a pill. Yet, it's where are society is at ... yes? Medication is increasingly seen as the cure all for whatever ails us. And that just isn't so! Make it your prayer to walk in step with God's Spirit today!

2. I am still trying to process the latest news from France concerning the airplane crash of yesterday (Wednesday). It just blows me away that someone would deliberately fly a plane into the ground. Authorities (at the time of this writing) are saying the co-pilot who did so had no terrorism connections. So ... why did he do it? We may never know the answer to that question. But there is one who does know. God! He knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. Before a word rolls off our tongue, he knows exactly what we are going to say (Psalm 139:4). Knowing that God knows all about us is a real comfort. So no matter where we might be and what needs we might have .... God knows! And since God knows, he can follow through on this promise to care for us (Philippians 4:19). But the reality that he knows us can be discomforting as well. Ever since the fall of our first parents, we have been trying to hide ... from God and from one another. Why?  Because all of us have some sort of skeleton in our closet. Something we regret ... something(s) that brings us shame. And we have a tendency to keep adding stuff to the closet. But ... we must always remember that there is a simple way to clean out our closets ... it's called confession. And as we practice it, God promises forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Do you think it's time to do some spring "house" cleaning? And to spur you on, take a moment and reflect on both 1 John 1:9 and the quote below.

"Forgiveness of sin is such a central, familiar part of the gospel message; its amazing wonder and relief is often lost on us over time. As you consider today the width and depth of this undeserved blessing, let His cleansing wash over you again. Give Him new thanks for the grace of forgiven sin."
(John MacArthur  Daily Readings From the Life of Christ, Volume 2)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life!

The title of this post are words that I am sure most of you have heard before. There's a good reason for that. It is true that our past has played a huge role in shaping us into the people we are today, whether for better or for worse. However, we do not have to be chained to our past. No matter what might be cluttering the closet of your regrets, you can move on. Tomorrow can be a much better day! Knowing and following the teachings of Jesus Christ is the key to doing so. He himself put it this way:

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” 
(John 8:31-32; see also John 8:34-36). 

How well do you know the truth? What are you doing to know it better? And what are you doing with what you know? Jesus makes it clear that we must not just here his word . . . we must also put it into practice (Matthew 7:24-27)! Only then will we find the freedom from a past that can at times haunt us! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Thanks for joining me on this first official day of spring (which actually begins at 6:45 pm tonight - maybe the snow will be done by then!). So with the frightful weather outside, now would be a good time to pour yourself a delightful cup of hot coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Yesterday morning I awoke to see that the National Weather Service had posted a Winter Weather Advisory for today. Ouch. A WINTER weather advisory for the first day of spring? That's just not right! I am more than ready to see daffodils in bloom and to soak in some sun (and I am guessing most of you are, too!). But the seasons don't always follow the script. And life doesn't either. Well, at least that partially true. Better said, "Life doesn't always follow OUR script." But life ALWAYS follows God's script. He is sovereign (Ephesians 1:11). And as a sovereign, He rules. He rules over the affairs of large nations and little people (like you and me). In HIS providential plan, nothing comes our way without first passing through his all powerful hands (not to mention his all wise mind and his forever loving heart). Now it is true we don't always understand His script. But we can trust ourselves to the One who does. God KNOWS what He's doing! And that's good enough for me!

2. I just began reading Tim Keller's recent book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In his book he notes that the Apostle Paul never prayed that God would change the circumstances of his readers. Rather, he prayed that through their circumstances they would come to know God better. According to Keller, prayer itself is "not a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself."  Ouch! If he is right (and I believe he is), then I sure have a long way to go in my "prayer life." All too often, my prayer list looks like the list I would draw up as a kid as I looked through the Sears Catalog trying to decide what I wanted for Christmas. How about you? How do you view prayer?

3. I was going to add another thought ... but I think instead I will sign off so I can "sign on" with God in prayer. Keller is so convicting!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

The Ever Changing ... the Never Changing!

I have been recently thinking about change and how fast and how often it happens. My 59th birthday last year was a reminder of how quickly time passes. And with the passing of time comes a boatload of change! Just ten years ago:

-No one ever heard of an iPhone.
- Android? What's that?
- Face Time was what you did each morning as you stared in the bathroom mirror.
- ISIS was something your sister would say.
- Willow Valley Family Restaurant was my favorite breakfast place (now gone!).
- I had no grandchildren (now have 6).

The list could go on and on and on. My point? Life is ALWAYS changing. If you don't like it (and I don't always like it!), you just need to "grin and bear it" - because it is part of the package we call "life."

But there is something that NEVER changes - the gospel of Jesus Christ. What Jesus accomplished on the cross of Calvary some 2000 years ago is just as sufficient today as it was then. The gospel continues to bring hope and healing to a battered and broken world. And it will always provide peace for those who embrace it as it is the ONLY way to find reconciliation with the God who made us and against whom we all rebelled. If you have never embraced the gospel, or you have you questions about it, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We AlL Face.

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday and that means it's COFFEE TIME (of course for me ... any day of the week is COFFEE TIME!)!!!  And for all you people out there who don't drink coffee ... here's an interesting read on coffee and maybe some reasons you should start (providing you meet the guidelines!).

As I write these words, I'm celebrating my 59th birthday, wondering where the first 58 years! But as I sit here and reflect on my life, and more particularly, how I can improve on my life, the following "more–thans" came to mind:

I need to listen more than I talk.

I need to think more about the interests and needs of others than my own.

I need to seek to give more than I get.

I need to be in the Bible more than I currently am.

I need to pray more than I do now.

I need to be more intentional about sharing the gospel than I have been.

I need to love my wife more than I have been loving her of late.

And the list could go on and on. How about you? If you were to make a "more – than" list, what would you include?

Thanks for stopping by,

59 and Counting!

Today I turn 59. That's right! Fifty years ago I recall going every Sunday afternoon to my grandmother's and grandfather's house. Today, I live with grandmother ... and the kinds come to MY house to see their grandfather!!!!  Where has the time gone????

Since life is short and time passes quickly (James 4:14), it is important that we get intentional about making the most of our time (Ephesians 5:15-16). To help you do so, I recommend you work your way through the following list of ten questions compiled by Don Whitney (check out his website here). 
 1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ - Special Weekend Edition

Words are great! You can use them to put a positive spin on just about anything. For example, I just didn't get to my weekly Friday blog this week… For a number of reasons. So I'll post something this morning but make it seem "special" by tagging it with the words "special weekend edition." Well whether it's special or not I will allow you to decide, but since you're with me why don't you pour your favorite cup of coffee and join me for a random thought or two.

1. This morning I was reading a prayer for one of my favorite devotional books, The Valley of Vision. It's a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. A richer book would be hard to find in my opinion. Here is an excerpt from my morning prayer. I would encourage you to take a moment to make it your own.

Most men seem to live for themselves,
without much or any regard for your glory,
or for the good of others;
they earnestly desire and eagerly pursue
the riches, honors, pleasures of this life,
as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment, 
could make their immortal souls happy;
But, alas, what false, elusive dreams are these! 

Oh may I never fall into the tempers and vanities,
the sensuality and folly of the present world!
It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast emptiness;
time is a moment, a vapor,
and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles,
fleeting blasts of wind,
from which nothing satisfactory can be derived.
Help me to grow continually
that there can be no true happiness,
no fulfilling of your purpose for me, 
apart from a life lived in and for
the Son of your love.


2. So much for this being the first week of meteorological spring! We've had some of the coldest nighttime temperatures of the winter and we've had our largest snowfall of the season. But looking ahead, we know warmer days are coming! This reminds me of our faith journey. We all go through times of "winter." These are those seasons of life, when not a lot seems to be happening in our own spiritual lives. God may in fact seem distant or even absent. During these times, it is essential that we exercise faith. We need to lay a hold of the promises of God, knowing that he is with us, and that he has us firmly in his grip, no matter how we might be feeling. So yes, you may be going through a season of winter just now, but take hope, spring is just around the corner. If you seek God, he promises that you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13)!

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...