Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Christmas Edition

It's hard to believe that Christmas Day is here! I am still trying to figure out where last summer went!
But, with the mild weather of this week, it sure doesn't "feel" like Christmas!

Pretty soon, my house will be filled with the sounds of little kids giggling and laughing as our grandkids arrive for our Christmas Day Smith family holiday celebration. But before they come, I am enjoying a couple of cups of my favorite coffee (San Fransisco Bay Fog Chaser) ... AND the peace and quiet of the day!

On this special day ... if you can make the time ... I believe your heart will be warmed and your faith will be strengthened by John Piper's reading of his book, The Innkeeper.

I hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Update on Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries on earth. The average person earns less than $2 per day, making the C.A.R. the third poorest in the world. It is also one of the most miserable, with political instability and violence still preventing any movement toward a better living for the five million people who live there (click here for an International Red Cross video, just released today, that will give you an idea of the conditions many people in the CAR currently face).  In the face of such suffering, what can we do?

1. PRAY! National elections are taking place this coming Sunday, December 27th. Pray that God, through the votes of the people, will put into office men and women who care about the needs of the people and the future of the country. Pray also for the ministry of my dear friend, Dr. Augustin Hibaile, who directs the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership). Augustin has access to government leaders at the highest levels. Pray that God would work through him to achieve HIS (God's) purposes!

2. GIVE! The people of the CAR are in need of all kinds of basic necessities of life. If you feel led to give, I suggest you go to the Encompass World Partners website. Click on the words, "Select a Project." You will see a number of projects listed for the C.A.R.

3. PRAY some more! God is sovereign. God is compassionate. And God does respond to the prayers of HIS people!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

Sorry folks for the delay this morning. Last week I was on vacation, spending much of my time helping my wife and getting her out some to finish up our Christmas shopping. So being off last week got me behind for this week ... but I am ready, so pour yourself a cup of coffee (I am on my second cup) and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I just heard that Pope Francis has approved sainthood for sister Theresa. Apparently some miracle of healing occurred that has been attributed to Theresa. Therefore the Pope has cleared the way for her to be canonized a saint. A couple of thoughts are floating around my head as I think of this. For starters, I cannot say definitively if this alleged miracle actually occurred. It very well may have happened for God does indeed heal today. But certainly not due to any prayers offered up to this woman (1 Timothy 2:5). But secondly, the Bible is clear that every single person who embraces the gospel and turns from their sin and rebellion against God is at that moment "set apart" by God for Himself. And therefore, the writers of the New Testament refer to their readers as "saints" (2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1). If Sister Theresa was trusting in Christ alone through faith alone ... then she is already a saint. And the greater miracle in this story is how a fallen image bearer of God could and would sacrificially put the needs of others above her own.

2. As I was praying through the Psalms today (using the method suggested by Donald Whitney in his excellent book, Praying the Bible,) I came to the following passage:

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

(Psalm 138:7-8)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my wife has been on a rather unexpected and extended journey for almost four months now. What was to be a "routine" total knee replacement has been anything but! A manipulation under anesthesia resulted in a broken femur which went undiagnosed for a week as her physical therapist worked with her for five of those seven days. Once it was finally diagnosed, she underwent a surgery to repair the fracture. Now for the past four weeks, she has not been able to bear any weight on her broken leg ... a restriction that will go for another three weeks. This, of course, makes doing life (even the simple every day tasks we do without much thought) difficult. So this morning, my heart was encouraged as I read and prayed these verses. It is such a comfort to know that as we walk in the midst of trouble, that we do not do so alone. Our God is with us. His hand is upon us. And he will fulfill his purpose for us! If you are going through difficult circumstances in your life, take heart from these verses. God has not forgotten you! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ: Special Mid Morning Edition

Hope you have enjoyed your morning cup of coffee by now. I just finished my third and I think I am finally awake enough to share a few thoughts with you.

1. My wife had her post-op appointment yesterday. Although it is too early to tell if the broken femur is mending, the surgeon was positive about what he was seeing on the x-ray. Sharon will go back in four weeks at which time x-rays should be much more telling. Please pray for the mending of this bone (to help this along, Sharon will not be able to put ANY weight on her leg for at least the next four weeks). In addition, she will resume physical therapy next week to start working on motion in her knee. Would appreciate your prayers for her along that line as well. Sharon and I have found much comfort in our understanding that even though this caught the two of us by surprise, it did not catch our God by surprise. He has a plan for us and he is actively working that plan. Knowing this has helped us keep our sanity .. and our faith! There are no better hands to be in than those of our almighty and compassionate Creator and Father!

2. In the midst of this violent world, where people so coolly and calmly kill others, it is a comfort to know that Christmas is all about the birth of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus Christ offers to us peace WITH God (Romans 5:1). He is able to do so because on the cross he died to pay the wage we owed God for our sin and rebellion against him. Therefore, Jesus is able to offer us forgiveness for our sin and new life in HIM! This is something only he can do (Romans 6:23). He also offers to us the peace OF God. This is promised to us as we, clothed in the righteousness of God, take all of our needs to the Father in prayer. When we do this ... we will experience an inner peace ... even in the midst of the turbulent world in which we live (Philippians 4:6-7). There is one final peace that Jesus Christ offers, but this is still future. It is the universal peace that will one day reign upon the earth. Jesus Christ will usher in this peace as he begins his reign as King of kings and Lord of Lords (Isaiah 9:7; Revelation 21:4). So as you celebrate the Christmas season ... rejoice in Jesus the Prince of Peace! Are YOU experiencing the peace he gives?

3. Recently my youngest daughter wanted my wife and me to see how her kids were learning about God using the little book, My First Book of Questions and Answers (I highly recommend this little book!). Kate looked at her two year old and asked, "Who made you?" "Gawd" little June replied. "And why did God make you?" my daughter asked. "To bwing gwoly to him," June answered. So far so good! Then Kate asked, "June, who is in heaven?" Without hesitation June responded, "God, Jesus and Santa Clause!" OK. She got the idea of the trinity down, but a bit off on the identity of the third member!  If you are a parent with young children, it is never to early to start teaching your children the truth of God's Word. Remember, your kids are not yours. They have been loaned to you by their Creator. So train them in the way they should go! That's your responsibility and joy!

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...