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 to the site. The population of those three zip codes? 476! The population of the other zipcodes? 321,000,000! I am guessing we are about to see a spike in the number of divorces being filed! All this reminds me of a particular verse in the Bible which contains these words, "be sure your sin will find you out." What we think is done in secret, never is! For our God is always watching (Hebrews 4:13). So when the Tempter comes with his enticing bait, turn the other way and run! For our God is watching, even if no one else is!

2. This past Monday I had the privilege of officiating the memorial service of a woman who lived a full life of 94 years. Three and half weeks ago I did the same for a 94 year old man. Both of these people lived in such a way as to point many people to Jesus! I hope that is how you want to live ... to be pointed people to Jesus! And it is not really all that hard to do! A friend of mine (and a friend of a number of you as well), Ed Lewis, encourages people to go FISH for people (after all, if we choose to follow Jesus, he promises to make us "fishers of men!" - Matthew 4:19). SO  here is how it works. As you encounter people throughout your day ....

- Friendly (Be friendly! No one wants to talk with someone who acts like they just ate a dill pickle!)
- Initiate  (Initiate conversation)
- Story or Serve (Ask them about their story or serve them in some way.
- Hope (Give them hope ... offer to pray for them, etc).

This method can be easily remembered and implemented. So ... go out and FISH today! (Thanks Ed, for this reminder!)

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 pulled a muscle in my lower back. That was last Thursday. Eight days later, I am still in pain (although it is finally
improving). All this to say ... we must always be aware of our limitations. This is especially true as we age (as this past year has proven to me ... but I guess I am still a slow learner!). Yes ... we have limits. In fact, we have many of them. But our God does not! The theological word to describe God concerning limits is the word "infinite." This means God is not limited in any way ... nor is it possible for him to ever be limited. Wow! Talk about a great God! And to think this great God is our Father! Is he YOURS? If you can't really answer that question, I suggest you check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

2. Back in 1997 my oldest daughter graduated from high school. Now, 18 years later, many of the babies born that year are in the process of heading off to college. Wow! Time sure does fly! And how the times have changed since then! Jim Denison provides the following ways that today's world differs from the world of 1997: 

Beloit College has just published its annual list of factoids about students entering their first year of college. They
  • Have never licked a postage stamp
  • Have always used cell phones with Wi-Fi access
  • Had their first steps recorded by proud parents using camcorders (the students probably don't know what one is)
  • Improved their reading skills with the Harry Potter series
  • Have always watched television in high definition.
In 1997, the year of their birth, Princess Diana died in a speeding motorcade crash.  Titanic won 11 Oscars.  Seinfeld was the most popular TV show.  Beanie Babies were the most popular Christmas toy.

Now consider how our culture has changed morally over their lifetime.

In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres was one of the first well-known celebrities to "come out" as homosexual; now same-sex marriage is the law of the land.  That year, debate over legalizing physician-assisted suicide began accelerating; it is now legal in five states and being considered by five others.

In 1997, there were 13.9 million illegal drug users in the U.S.; today 24.6 million Americans use illegal drugs, representing a 50 percent increase relative to the population.  Since 1997, the percentage of unmarried couples living together has doubled.  The percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation 
has nearly doubled to 22.8 percent, representing 56 million adults in America and outnumbering Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Indeed our world has changed quite a bit in the 18 years since my daughter graduated from high school. Some of this change is for the better, much is not. And as we seek to navigate through this ever changing world ... we must cling to reality that the God we serve NEVER changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In him we can find the stability we need amidst the turbulent change that surrounds us!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 him, thanking him for his gracious benevolence toward you. After all, the only thing we are entitled to receive from him is eternal judgment. Praise God He withholds that (mercy) and gives us eternal life in Christ (grace).

2. Last Sunday one of my best friends enjoyed the experience of giving his third oldest daughter away to the man who is now her husband. It was indeed a joy to observe him in that moment. Having done the same myself twice before, I know it can be a somewhat bitter-sweet moment. Sweet in knowing that one's daughter is now happy and moving on to a new chapter in her life ... bitter to see the former chapter close. But that is what life is all about! The great task of parenting is to raise our children so that, one day they will be prepared to move on and establish their own households. This requires that we "let go." And letting go is something American parents can have a tough time doing. Yet it is what God requires of us. Because if we don't "let go," our children will never be able to "leave and cleave" in their new relationship as husband and wife (Genesis 2:24).

3. Some time ago, I posted a prayer that I gleaned from John Piper's devotional book, Life as a Vapor). Since posting it, this prayer has been taped to my computer monitor so I can pray it from time to time. I offer it to you again with the hopes that you will make Piper's prayer your own.

"Thank you Lord, for the lives of flawed and faith-filled saints! 
Thank you for grace, amazing grace, that saves and uses sinners! 
Lord, don't let me limit your power by what I see in the mirror. 
Help me to trust you. Help me, as William Carey said, 
to expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.
I am not great, But you are great. 
Your power is made perfect in my weakness. 
I surrender all worldly claims on my life. 
Come. Make me useful for the glory of Christ. 
In his great name I pray.
Amen." (John Piper)

4. Finally, here is an update from my friend, Augustin Hibaile. Augustin began a ministry a number of years ago in the Central African Republic. CIDEL (Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership) is strategically placed to be a major player in helping the C.A.R. on its path
toward peace and stability. Here is an an email I received yesterday from Augustin:

August 7

Dear prayer supporters, 

I am busy preparing for the leadership seminar with Politicians who are running for the elections in CAR. Please pray that God will provide for the remaining funds to organize the four days seminar. Life in CAR is very expensive and it is difficult to afford goods in the store due to the consequences of the war and the presence of the UN troops.

We appreciate your prayer for the success of the seminars that will take place in August 25-28, 2015. We are expecting instructors from UK, DRC, Switzerland.


Augustin Hibaile

****Editors note: If you would like to give toward this pressing need to fund Dr. Hibaile's training seminars, please click here. When you arrive on Encompass World Partners' site, click on the drop down menu to select a project. When the list of projects comes up, click on C.A.R. - CIDEL (Hibaile) - Leadership Development. Thank you for considering some vitally needed financial support!  

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

My apologies for missing the past several Fridays. I was off last week, and the previous couple of weeks I got caught up in the Thanksgivi...