PJ

PJ

Friday, October 23, 2015

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 should do if we can squeeze it in once in a while ... but rather it is something God calls us to practice "day and night!" Given the importance placed upon meditating on the Scripture ... what does that look like? I encourage you to take the time to read the article, Five Steps to Meditating on the Bible. You will be better for it!

2. Recently I have been struck by the number of commercials I have seen promoting products that will supposedly help pets live long and prosperous lives. In addition, on more than one occasion I 
have scratched my head at television news reports of some tragedy involving an animal. It just seems to me that increasingly our society is valuing animal life while at the same time devaluing human life (PLEASE ... don't get me wrong. Even though I have not pets in my house at the present time, I have had them in the past. I really do love animals!). But when more of an outcry is made over dying or dead chickens than millions of unborn human babies ... something is wrong. Very wrong! I happen to believe that human life begins at conception. Therefore, to destroy an "fetus" is to destroy a human life. If you would like to further investigate why I believe abortion is wrong, check out Ten Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Take the Life of Unborn Children. And if you do happen to agree with me, then let me ask you, What have you done of late to help save some of these yet-to-be-born babies? If you don't know what you can do to help ... check out the website for Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.

3. In the midst of all the ups and downs of the past 7 weeks since my wife's knee replacement, I have continued my Sunday morning teaching through the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians. The church in Thessalonica was a young church. But it was also a suffering church. Birthed in the midst of chaos and persecution ... that continues long after the Apostle Paul and his church planting companion Silas, were run out of town. And it was to this young and suffering church that Paul wrote this first of two letters addressed to this group of first century believers. Last Sunday's passage yielded some principles that help us persevere through life's difficulties. The following day, I received this email which strengthened my weary soul:

Dear Pastor John, 

I believe God is birthing something new among us, something more than just the daughter church. The Holy Spirit is at work in each of us in powerful ways through the trials we are facing. We are all learning to depend on Him more completely.

Your message yesterday was God's provision for all of us as we face these "labor pains" - take God at His Word, stand together as His church, and look ahead to our blessed hope!
Praying for you and Sharon today!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj



Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 teaching at LBC occurs when I happen to run into a former student. This occurred recently as my wife and I were dining out at Olive Garden (across from the Park City Mall). This particular student had been called to pastor a local church just six months ago. He shared with me his excitement about the opportunity God had given him. He also thanked me for the role I had played in equipping him for his pastoral ministry. As he walked away, I silently thanked God that he uses someone like me to encourage others as they seek to serve Him! That "crossing of paths" made my day! God wants to make your day as well . . . so who are you seeking to influence for Jesus Christ?

2. Later today I will have the honor of officiating at a wedding ... just as I have done so many times before. Across the course of the past several months, I have met with this couple, equipping them, I hope, with the tools they will need to experience the intimate marriage God wants them to enjoy. During the ceremony I will do what I have been doing for  years ... and that is to offer them the same advice that I have offered to countless couples before them. Someone once asked me why I chose to basically give the same message at every wedding. I responded, "I want couples to actually remember what I said to them. I also want to be able to remember myself. That way, when I see the couple down the road, I can ask them if they are putting into practice what I encouraged them (from God's Word) to do in their relationship with one another." I guess you could call this practicing accountability. It seems to work well ... and as my Dad often told me, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

3. As you well know, life doesn't always go as planned. Those of you who have visited my blog in the past may recall that my wife underwent a total knee replacement back on September 4th (now six weeks ago). On Wednesday her surgeon was concerned with the stiffness in her knee which, he said, is being caused by scar tissue. He told her that in three weeks, he will reexamine her. If she has not progressed sufficiently in bending and straightening her knee, he will perform MUA on her knee (Manipulation Under Anesthesia). Knee stiffness after a TKR (also known as arthrofibrosis or "stiff knee syndrome"does impact a very small percentage of patients. It appears that my wife is now a member of that small exclusive club! The physical therapist is talking about using a brace that may help her get to where she needs to be (and thus avoid the MUA). Please pray for my wife. Your prayers are very meaningful (2 Co 1:1; Acts 12:1-19) and much appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 9, 2015

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 the phubbing? I must admit that all too often I am guilty of doing this with my wife. She's talking ... I am checking my twitter feed. Ouch! I really do need stop it. I think I will make a stop at www.stopphubbing.com.  Maybe I can find some tips on stopping this unhealthy practice! Remember ... if you don't want to be phubbed ... then stop phubbing others (see Matthew 7:12)!

2. On Monday I was cutting my lawn for the first time in well over a month (reason: I returned home from the beach in August with a bad back. It took a that long for it to heal enough for me to get back to walking behind my mower - mine is self-propelled!). I was about 90% done when I had to stop the mower in order to pick up a fallen branch from one of my birch trees. After doing so, I returned to the mower and pulled the start cord. "Rumble, rumble, cough, cough, silence." No matter what I tried ... the same response. The mower would not cooperate (and NO it was NOT out of gas!). Even the next morning I got it out and tried starting it ... but no go! SO, I loaded it into my van (with help) and drove it to the repair shop around the corner. I must admit I was a bit frustrated (OK ... more than "a bit"). After all, I had just bought the mower in the spring! But no matter how new or old a piece of machinery is, breakdowns are sure to come. The same can be said for us. We can breakdown physically or emotionally. When this happens, we need to head off to see the appropriate professional for help. But we can also breakdown spiritually. When this happens, we need to go to the one who created our soul ... Jesus Christ. He himself issues us the invitation to come to him when we are burdened ... and he will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). So the next time you feel like you are falling apart ... then you need to come apart (from all your busyness) and spend some time with the One who loved you enough to die for you! 

*Note - I just got a call from the repair shop. The governor spring had fallen off the engine. Cost of repair? $22! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 went. As I processed his comments, I was a bit irritated. I did not think my wife needed to hear that with all the pain she was going through. As we drove home from the appointment, we talked some more about this man and what he had said. My wife told me that she talked to the therapist about it ... and he said something to the effect that some people seem to be smiled upon by God more so than others after a total knee replacement. My wife and I agreed that our response was very much "me centered." Instead of feeling irritated, we should have rejoiced that this man had been spared the pain and agony that my wife is currently enduring. Ouch. We are more "egocentric" than we realize. Praise God that he will not grow weary of us ... but will continue doing HIS work in our lives ... turning us from egocentric sinners into theocentric (God centered) saints!

2. Later on today I will be wrapping up premarital counseling with a couple whom I will have the privilege to marry in a couple of weeks. Walking a couple through their preparation for marriage is a good thing for me. It reminds me of what marriage is all about and God's design for it. What a joy marriage can be when a husband is cherishing his wife and a wife is respecting her husband! When by God's grace we make an intentional effort to live out God's blueprint for marriage ... we can enjoy a taste of heaven on earth. Unfortunately, too many husbands (me included) and too many wives can be ... as I said above ... "egocentric." What we need to do in our homes is to "hear" and then "put into practice" (Matthew 7:24-27) the Apostle Paul's encouragement to the church at Philippi (and to us, of course) as recorded in Philippians 2:3-4. Only as we consider our mate as more important than ourselves will we begin to understand the kind of true intimacy that leads to a joy that lasts!

3. Finally ... a quote from the pen of Kevin DeYoung that all of us busy people need to read (and slow down long enough to think about!).

"Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the Word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls. If only we could make time for an appointment."


Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 23, 2015

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 should do if we can squeeze it in once in a while ... but rather it is something God calls us to practice "day and night!" Given the importance placed upon meditating on the Scripture ... what does that look like? I encourage you to take the time to read the article, Five Steps to Meditating on the Bible. You will be better for it!

2. Recently I have been struck by the number of commercials I have seen promoting products that will supposedly help pets live long and prosperous lives. In addition, on more than one occasion I 
have scratched my head at television news reports of some tragedy involving an animal. It just seems to me that increasingly our society is valuing animal life while at the same time devaluing human life (PLEASE ... don't get me wrong. Even though I have not pets in my house at the present time, I have had them in the past. I really do love animals!). But when more of an outcry is made over dying or dead chickens than millions of unborn human babies ... something is wrong. Very wrong! I happen to believe that human life begins at conception. Therefore, to destroy an "fetus" is to destroy a human life. If you would like to further investigate why I believe abortion is wrong, check out Ten Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Take the Life of Unborn Children. And if you do happen to agree with me, then let me ask you, What have you done of late to help save some of these yet-to-be-born babies? If you don't know what you can do to help ... check out the website for Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.

3. In the midst of all the ups and downs of the past 7 weeks since my wife's knee replacement, I have continued my Sunday morning teaching through the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians. The church in Thessalonica was a young church. But it was also a suffering church. Birthed in the midst of chaos and persecution ... that continues long after the Apostle Paul and his church planting companion Silas, were run out of town. And it was to this young and suffering church that Paul wrote this first of two letters addressed to this group of first century believers. Last Sunday's passage yielded some principles that help us persevere through life's difficulties. The following day, I received this email which strengthened my weary soul:

Dear Pastor John, 

I believe God is birthing something new among us, something more than just the daughter church. The Holy Spirit is at work in each of us in powerful ways through the trials we are facing. We are all learning to depend on Him more completely.

Your message yesterday was God's provision for all of us as we face these "labor pains" - take God at His Word, stand together as His church, and look ahead to our blessed hope!
Praying for you and Sharon today!

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj



Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 teaching at LBC occurs when I happen to run into a former student. This occurred recently as my wife and I were dining out at Olive Garden (across from the Park City Mall). This particular student had been called to pastor a local church just six months ago. He shared with me his excitement about the opportunity God had given him. He also thanked me for the role I had played in equipping him for his pastoral ministry. As he walked away, I silently thanked God that he uses someone like me to encourage others as they seek to serve Him! That "crossing of paths" made my day! God wants to make your day as well . . . so who are you seeking to influence for Jesus Christ?

2. Later today I will have the honor of officiating at a wedding ... just as I have done so many times before. Across the course of the past several months, I have met with this couple, equipping them, I hope, with the tools they will need to experience the intimate marriage God wants them to enjoy. During the ceremony I will do what I have been doing for  years ... and that is to offer them the same advice that I have offered to countless couples before them. Someone once asked me why I chose to basically give the same message at every wedding. I responded, "I want couples to actually remember what I said to them. I also want to be able to remember myself. That way, when I see the couple down the road, I can ask them if they are putting into practice what I encouraged them (from God's Word) to do in their relationship with one another." I guess you could call this practicing accountability. It seems to work well ... and as my Dad often told me, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

3. As you well know, life doesn't always go as planned. Those of you who have visited my blog in the past may recall that my wife underwent a total knee replacement back on September 4th (now six weeks ago). On Wednesday her surgeon was concerned with the stiffness in her knee which, he said, is being caused by scar tissue. He told her that in three weeks, he will reexamine her. If she has not progressed sufficiently in bending and straightening her knee, he will perform MUA on her knee (Manipulation Under Anesthesia). Knee stiffness after a TKR (also known as arthrofibrosis or "stiff knee syndrome"does impact a very small percentage of patients. It appears that my wife is now a member of that small exclusive club! The physical therapist is talking about using a brace that may help her get to where she needs to be (and thus avoid the MUA). Please pray for my wife. Your prayers are very meaningful (2 Co 1:1; Acts 12:1-19) and much appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, October 9, 2015

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 the phubbing? I must admit that all too often I am guilty of doing this with my wife. She's talking ... I am checking my twitter feed. Ouch! I really do need stop it. I think I will make a stop at www.stopphubbing.com.  Maybe I can find some tips on stopping this unhealthy practice! Remember ... if you don't want to be phubbed ... then stop phubbing others (see Matthew 7:12)!

2. On Monday I was cutting my lawn for the first time in well over a month (reason: I returned home from the beach in August with a bad back. It took a that long for it to heal enough for me to get back to walking behind my mower - mine is self-propelled!). I was about 90% done when I had to stop the mower in order to pick up a fallen branch from one of my birch trees. After doing so, I returned to the mower and pulled the start cord. "Rumble, rumble, cough, cough, silence." No matter what I tried ... the same response. The mower would not cooperate (and NO it was NOT out of gas!). Even the next morning I got it out and tried starting it ... but no go! SO, I loaded it into my van (with help) and drove it to the repair shop around the corner. I must admit I was a bit frustrated (OK ... more than "a bit"). After all, I had just bought the mower in the spring! But no matter how new or old a piece of machinery is, breakdowns are sure to come. The same can be said for us. We can breakdown physically or emotionally. When this happens, we need to head off to see the appropriate professional for help. But we can also breakdown spiritually. When this happens, we need to go to the one who created our soul ... Jesus Christ. He himself issues us the invitation to come to him when we are burdened ... and he will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). So the next time you feel like you are falling apart ... then you need to come apart (from all your busyness) and spend some time with the One who loved you enough to die for you! 

*Note - I just got a call from the repair shop. The governor spring had fallen off the engine. Cost of repair? $22! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 went. As I processed his comments, I was a bit irritated. I did not think my wife needed to hear that with all the pain she was going through. As we drove home from the appointment, we talked some more about this man and what he had said. My wife told me that she talked to the therapist about it ... and he said something to the effect that some people seem to be smiled upon by God more so than others after a total knee replacement. My wife and I agreed that our response was very much "me centered." Instead of feeling irritated, we should have rejoiced that this man had been spared the pain and agony that my wife is currently enduring. Ouch. We are more "egocentric" than we realize. Praise God that he will not grow weary of us ... but will continue doing HIS work in our lives ... turning us from egocentric sinners into theocentric (God centered) saints!

2. Later on today I will be wrapping up premarital counseling with a couple whom I will have the privilege to marry in a couple of weeks. Walking a couple through their preparation for marriage is a good thing for me. It reminds me of what marriage is all about and God's design for it. What a joy marriage can be when a husband is cherishing his wife and a wife is respecting her husband! When by God's grace we make an intentional effort to live out God's blueprint for marriage ... we can enjoy a taste of heaven on earth. Unfortunately, too many husbands (me included) and too many wives can be ... as I said above ... "egocentric." What we need to do in our homes is to "hear" and then "put into practice" (Matthew 7:24-27) the Apostle Paul's encouragement to the church at Philippi (and to us, of course) as recorded in Philippians 2:3-4. Only as we consider our mate as more important than ourselves will we begin to understand the kind of true intimacy that leads to a joy that lasts!

3. Finally ... a quote from the pen of Kevin DeYoung that all of us busy people need to read (and slow down long enough to think about!).

"Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the Word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls. If only we could make time for an appointment."


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.