PJ

PJ

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Pour yourself a cup of your favorite Joe ... and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. As I was praying through Psalm 31 today, I came to these words (the final words of the Psalm): "Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord." These were just the words I needed to hear this morning. In so many ways this week, I have been reminded of the brokenness of our fallen world. Yesterday I officiated a funeral. The day before, my wife scheduled a knee replacement surgery (September 4th). That same day one of my church staff informed me he would be undergoing back surgery in September (and two spouses of church staff are facing surgery in August!). Add to this is the pastor friend of mine who is going to have his leg amputated due to a health complication. And I could go on and on. This world's a mess! And that is not God's fault, it's ours (read Genesis 3). So in the midst of surviving as we journey through this broken twisted world, it is good to know that when we place our hope in God he in turn will strengthen our hearts and encourage our souls. I for one NEED that!

2. Last evening we had a Life Group outing. In the group I lead, there are, at present, three other couples. We have known two of these couples for twenty-five and a half years (which is how long we have been in our current ministry). Both of these couples have three adult children. All six are married. And I had the privilege of officiating at all six of their weddings. I knew all of these kids from the time they were knee high to a grasshopper! When I began my ministry here at Grace Church (then known as Southern Lancaster Grace Brethren Church), I was asking God to help me stay long enough to see my kids graduate from high school (when we arrived in late August of 1989, my kids were ten, eight and five). God answered that prayer and far more! Now as a result of my long (and I trust faithful and fruitful) ministry in this place, I am loving watching kids "grow up!" and having kids of their own! Only God knows how much longer he will keep me here (I have no plans to move on - but I know I can't stay in my present position forever!). My desire is ... no matter God's timetable ... that I would finish well. Would you please pray for me today (and every day!) that God would help me to do just that!  All by HIS grace and for HIS glory!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... It's coffee day (well, for me EVERY day is coffee day!). Pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Both my wife and I had "second opinion's" in the past two weeks. Mine last week was for my wrist and hand ... hers for her right knee. Both doctors reaffirmed what the first doctor in each case had said. As a result, my wife is looking at a knee replacement and I am looking at further surgery as well. We considered flipping a coin or doing "rock, paper, scissors" to see who would get to go first. But, given our life circumstances, Sharon is the winner here. So ... most likely sometime in September she will be getting a new knee. The date has yet to be set. In the meanwhile, I will bide my time and hope that maybe ... perhaps ... hopefully (although neither orthopedic gave me much hope!) my situation will improve enough that I will not need surgery. All this said, we would appreciate your prayers as we move forward. These are just additional reminders that growing older isn't for sissies ... AND ... what a joy our new resurrection bodies will be (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

2. Donald Trump is proving that not only does he have a big (and I mean BIG!) bank account, he also has a very BIG mouth. And that big mouth is getting him into a lot of hot water. Yet he claims he does not care what other people think. He is going to continue to say what is on his mind. Hmmm. As I thought of "The Donald" ... I thought of myself. I, too, from time to time have too "big" a mouth. I say things that hurt others, slander others, exaggerate the truth to make me look better, gossip about someone, etc. etc. etc. It is no wonder that James refers to the tongue as "a fire" and claims that "no one can tame the tongue" (James 3:1-12). So what can we do to better control this piece of flesh that wags between our jaws? Here are a few suggestions to better your talk:

Think before you speak
Ask God to help you speak gracious words
Listen more, talk less
Kill gossip before it spreads

If you do these simple things ... your words will be much more like Jesus' words!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well ... time to pour a cup or two of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I am discovering that as I get a bit older, my sleep patterns are changing. Some nights ... I sleep like a rock. Then there are other nights when I wake up way too early  ... and find it difficult to get back to dreamland! So ... if you have one of those sleep deprived nights, how can you best handle work the next day? Here's an interesting (and brief) video that will give you some great tips on how to cope at the office when your eyelids won't stay open!

2. This morning I saw a clip on the news of a huge tornado touching down near Chicago. Sure enough, a lot of damage was done. But thankfully, no loss of life reported! Then, once in the office, I checked my twitter feed and found the following quote of Paul Tripp: "God hasn't promised to shelter you FROM the storm, but he has guaranteed he'll be your shelter IN the storm until the storms are no more." This truth is one of the themes of the book of Psalms. In fact, the word "refuge" occurs over forty times throughout the book (Psalm 5:11; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 118:9). So the next times a storm crashes into your life (and it will) .... flee to God. He will be your refuge!

3. Finally, my daughter told me that her son Jack played "preacher" the other day. He lined up some chairs ... then climbed up on the coffee table and "preached." He told this imaginary listeners that we are all sinners but that Jesus died for our sins. Yes! Even at the young age of five, my grandson is beginning to grasp the essence of the gospel message. And at the heart of the gospel is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Praise God that HE so loved us rebels, that HE gave his one and only Son to die in our place on that cross some 2000 years ago! As a result we are enabled to place our eternal welfare upon a life we did not live (Jesus' perfect life) and a death we did not die (Jesus' death in which he paid the wage of sin ... not for himself as he had none ... but for us ... who have more than we will ever fully know). May you find joy in the gospel today ... and look for someone to share it with!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Sorry I missed last Friday ... not only was it a holiday, but I was out of town enjoying a bit of vacation time with my wife. But for today ... go ahead and pour that favorite cup of coffee and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Yesterday afternoon, I stood before a grieving family as they said their earthly "goodbyes" to a wife, mother and grandmother. It was a bitter-sweet moment. Bitter to know that there would be this time of separation from their loved one. Sweet in the realization that she was, at that very moment, in the very presence of Christ. The apostle Paul captured the "bitter-sweet" reality of Christian's who are struck by grief when death comes calling. In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul expressed his desire that his readers not grieve as "those who have no hope." He does not deny the reality of grief (and there are no shortcuts to ease the pain of the grieving process). Yet, our grief as believers in Christ can and should be tempered by the hope we have ... that of an ultimate reunion with those who have gone before (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Thank God for the hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

2. Donald Trump is making a lot of waves. And he is receiving a lot of attention (if you say something often enough and loud enough and politically incorrect enough ... you will be heard! And of course, it does not hurt that Trump is one of the richest men in America). According to latest polls, Trump is right up among the leaders in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Now, my purpose in bringing this up is not political in nature (I hope!). Rather, I mention Trump to simply ask a couple of questions: What does Trump's current success in the race for the White House say about our society and the values we embrace? And what does it say about the importance of a person's character? Hmmm .... now before you (and I) start pointing fingers ... we probably need to take a long hard look in the mirror and check out the person we see staring back at us (Matthew 7:1-5). We (and those around us) will definitely be better for doing so! 

Gulp! I'm being watched!
3. Last week on our vacation, we visited some civil war sites. My wife and I talked about how awful a period of time that was in the history of our nation. Brother fighting against brother, father against son, friend against friend. I am grateful that our country is not now in the midst of such conflict. But conflict on a smaller scale is something that we all deal with. Starting this Sunday at Grace, we are launching out on a study of a number of the "one anothers" of the New Testament. God wants us (and every local church) to become a family of believers in Christ who love one another, honor one another, serve one another, submit to one another . . .  and on and on it goes. Only as we get our focus off of ourselves will we be able to "one another" one another and become the church God wants us to become! I hope you can join us this Sunday .... 9:00 and/or 10:30. And would you please pray with me that Grace Church will be a different church as we expose ourselves to the living and active Word of God! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hype, Hype, and More Hype!

I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who is growing weary of the hype the media is always offering up. Flooding rains bring havoc and destruction . . . they are labeled "historic." A snow storm dumps piles of snow . . . it gets tagged as "Snowageddon." One news event brings about a situation "never seen before." And on and on and on it goes (ad infinitum ... and ad nauseu if you ask me!).

I am reminded of some words from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter one and verse nine we read, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." All that we experience today ... in some form ... has been experienced before. People have populated this planet for many millennium. Flooding rains and tragic deaths are nothing new. So beware of the hype that is thrown your way!

But there is no hype when it comes to the God who designed and created this universe. He is the same God today as he was at the dawn of history. He was great and he was good then ... and he is great and good now.

So in the midst of all the media hype ... keep your hands firmly gripping the reality that the awesome Creator God is always with us ... and that is no hype!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Pour yourself a cup of your favorite Joe ... and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. As I was praying through Psalm 31 today, I came to these words (the final words of the Psalm): "Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord." These were just the words I needed to hear this morning. In so many ways this week, I have been reminded of the brokenness of our fallen world. Yesterday I officiated a funeral. The day before, my wife scheduled a knee replacement surgery (September 4th). That same day one of my church staff informed me he would be undergoing back surgery in September (and two spouses of church staff are facing surgery in August!). Add to this is the pastor friend of mine who is going to have his leg amputated due to a health complication. And I could go on and on. This world's a mess! And that is not God's fault, it's ours (read Genesis 3). So in the midst of surviving as we journey through this broken twisted world, it is good to know that when we place our hope in God he in turn will strengthen our hearts and encourage our souls. I for one NEED that!

2. Last evening we had a Life Group outing. In the group I lead, there are, at present, three other couples. We have known two of these couples for twenty-five and a half years (which is how long we have been in our current ministry). Both of these couples have three adult children. All six are married. And I had the privilege of officiating at all six of their weddings. I knew all of these kids from the time they were knee high to a grasshopper! When I began my ministry here at Grace Church (then known as Southern Lancaster Grace Brethren Church), I was asking God to help me stay long enough to see my kids graduate from high school (when we arrived in late August of 1989, my kids were ten, eight and five). God answered that prayer and far more! Now as a result of my long (and I trust faithful and fruitful) ministry in this place, I am loving watching kids "grow up!" and having kids of their own! Only God knows how much longer he will keep me here (I have no plans to move on - but I know I can't stay in my present position forever!). My desire is ... no matter God's timetable ... that I would finish well. Would you please pray for me today (and every day!) that God would help me to do just that!  All by HIS grace and for HIS glory!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... It's coffee day (well, for me EVERY day is coffee day!). Pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Both my wife and I had "second opinion's" in the past two weeks. Mine last week was for my wrist and hand ... hers for her right knee. Both doctors reaffirmed what the first doctor in each case had said. As a result, my wife is looking at a knee replacement and I am looking at further surgery as well. We considered flipping a coin or doing "rock, paper, scissors" to see who would get to go first. But, given our life circumstances, Sharon is the winner here. So ... most likely sometime in September she will be getting a new knee. The date has yet to be set. In the meanwhile, I will bide my time and hope that maybe ... perhaps ... hopefully (although neither orthopedic gave me much hope!) my situation will improve enough that I will not need surgery. All this said, we would appreciate your prayers as we move forward. These are just additional reminders that growing older isn't for sissies ... AND ... what a joy our new resurrection bodies will be (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

2. Donald Trump is proving that not only does he have a big (and I mean BIG!) bank account, he also has a very BIG mouth. And that big mouth is getting him into a lot of hot water. Yet he claims he does not care what other people think. He is going to continue to say what is on his mind. Hmmm. As I thought of "The Donald" ... I thought of myself. I, too, from time to time have too "big" a mouth. I say things that hurt others, slander others, exaggerate the truth to make me look better, gossip about someone, etc. etc. etc. It is no wonder that James refers to the tongue as "a fire" and claims that "no one can tame the tongue" (James 3:1-12). So what can we do to better control this piece of flesh that wags between our jaws? Here are a few suggestions to better your talk:

Think before you speak
Ask God to help you speak gracious words
Listen more, talk less
Kill gossip before it spreads

If you do these simple things ... your words will be much more like Jesus' words!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well ... time to pour a cup or two of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I am discovering that as I get a bit older, my sleep patterns are changing. Some nights ... I sleep like a rock. Then there are other nights when I wake up way too early  ... and find it difficult to get back to dreamland! So ... if you have one of those sleep deprived nights, how can you best handle work the next day? Here's an interesting (and brief) video that will give you some great tips on how to cope at the office when your eyelids won't stay open!

2. This morning I saw a clip on the news of a huge tornado touching down near Chicago. Sure enough, a lot of damage was done. But thankfully, no loss of life reported! Then, once in the office, I checked my twitter feed and found the following quote of Paul Tripp: "God hasn't promised to shelter you FROM the storm, but he has guaranteed he'll be your shelter IN the storm until the storms are no more." This truth is one of the themes of the book of Psalms. In fact, the word "refuge" occurs over forty times throughout the book (Psalm 5:11; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 118:9). So the next times a storm crashes into your life (and it will) .... flee to God. He will be your refuge!

3. Finally, my daughter told me that her son Jack played "preacher" the other day. He lined up some chairs ... then climbed up on the coffee table and "preached." He told this imaginary listeners that we are all sinners but that Jesus died for our sins. Yes! Even at the young age of five, my grandson is beginning to grasp the essence of the gospel message. And at the heart of the gospel is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Praise God that HE so loved us rebels, that HE gave his one and only Son to die in our place on that cross some 2000 years ago! As a result we are enabled to place our eternal welfare upon a life we did not live (Jesus' perfect life) and a death we did not die (Jesus' death in which he paid the wage of sin ... not for himself as he had none ... but for us ... who have more than we will ever fully know). May you find joy in the gospel today ... and look for someone to share it with!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

Sorry I missed last Friday ... not only was it a holiday, but I was out of town enjoying a bit of vacation time with my wife. But for today ... go ahead and pour that favorite cup of coffee and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. Yesterday afternoon, I stood before a grieving family as they said their earthly "goodbyes" to a wife, mother and grandmother. It was a bitter-sweet moment. Bitter to know that there would be this time of separation from their loved one. Sweet in the realization that she was, at that very moment, in the very presence of Christ. The apostle Paul captured the "bitter-sweet" reality of Christian's who are struck by grief when death comes calling. In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul expressed his desire that his readers not grieve as "those who have no hope." He does not deny the reality of grief (and there are no shortcuts to ease the pain of the grieving process). Yet, our grief as believers in Christ can and should be tempered by the hope we have ... that of an ultimate reunion with those who have gone before (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Thank God for the hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

2. Donald Trump is making a lot of waves. And he is receiving a lot of attention (if you say something often enough and loud enough and politically incorrect enough ... you will be heard! And of course, it does not hurt that Trump is one of the richest men in America). According to latest polls, Trump is right up among the leaders in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Now, my purpose in bringing this up is not political in nature (I hope!). Rather, I mention Trump to simply ask a couple of questions: What does Trump's current success in the race for the White House say about our society and the values we embrace? And what does it say about the importance of a person's character? Hmmm .... now before you (and I) start pointing fingers ... we probably need to take a long hard look in the mirror and check out the person we see staring back at us (Matthew 7:1-5). We (and those around us) will definitely be better for doing so! 

Gulp! I'm being watched!
3. Last week on our vacation, we visited some civil war sites. My wife and I talked about how awful a period of time that was in the history of our nation. Brother fighting against brother, father against son, friend against friend. I am grateful that our country is not now in the midst of such conflict. But conflict on a smaller scale is something that we all deal with. Starting this Sunday at Grace, we are launching out on a study of a number of the "one anothers" of the New Testament. God wants us (and every local church) to become a family of believers in Christ who love one another, honor one another, serve one another, submit to one another . . .  and on and on it goes. Only as we get our focus off of ourselves will we be able to "one another" one another and become the church God wants us to become! I hope you can join us this Sunday .... 9:00 and/or 10:30. And would you please pray with me that Grace Church will be a different church as we expose ourselves to the living and active Word of God! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hype, Hype, and More Hype!

I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who is growing weary of the hype the media is always offering up. Flooding rains bring havoc and destruction . . . they are labeled "historic." A snow storm dumps piles of snow . . . it gets tagged as "Snowageddon." One news event brings about a situation "never seen before." And on and on and on it goes (ad infinitum ... and ad nauseu if you ask me!).

I am reminded of some words from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter one and verse nine we read, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." All that we experience today ... in some form ... has been experienced before. People have populated this planet for many millennium. Flooding rains and tragic deaths are nothing new. So beware of the hype that is thrown your way!

But there is no hype when it comes to the God who designed and created this universe. He is the same God today as he was at the dawn of history. He was great and he was good then ... and he is great and good now.

So in the midst of all the media hype ... keep your hands firmly gripping the reality that the awesome Creator God is always with us ... and that is no hype!

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.