PJ

PJ

Friday, February 26, 2016

It's Friday .... meaning COFFEE! (of course, I don't need Friday to enjoy coffee. For me, coffee is an everyday affair!).  Whether you enjoy coffee or not, I invite you to join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Last week, people around here were groaning about a big snow storm that was bringing a foot of snow or more our way this week. Well ... with hindsight (which is always 20-20 - something more of us need to remind ourselves of more often) - the talk of a big snow storm was just that, "talk." As it turns out, we did have about an inch of rain fall (which would equate to approximately 10-12 inches of snow, depending upon the temperature). But it was WET not WHITE precipitation that fell from the sky! So even though the meteorologists got it right that a storm was coming ... they could not accurately forecast the type of precipitation we were going to have until much closer to the date of the actual storm (I believe by Monday they were pretty confident that it would be primarily an all rain event). Two thousand years ago, someone said told a group of twelve men that he was going away but would one day return (John 14:1-3). That someone was Jesus and the twelve were his apostles. Because this forecast of a return was given by none other than God's Son (the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is indeed God the Son), we can count on it happening. When? We can't know for sure. But my gut tells me it will be sooner rather than later. SO ... my question, my friend is a simple one: Are you ready to meet the God who made you? If you have any questions, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

2. To mark this season of Lent, I chose to preach a series of five messages that I have titled: iWill Follow Jesus: Five Commitments that Define a Christian. The series is loosely based on Jesus' call to follow him as recorded in Luke 9:23. A key word in this verse is the word "daily." The commitment Jesus calls us to is not a once and done kind of commitment ... but one that we must renew day by day. A friend passed on to me several devotionals based upon Luke 9:23. Here are a few thoughts of the writer in one of these devotionals:

"There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God's will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow him."

Of course, the cross Jesus is referring to here is not the burden of a cranky back or mother-in-law. The cross in Jesus' day was an instrument of suffering and death. So Jesus is telling us (as the writer of this devotional points out) that we need to be willing to suffer for his name (no matter what the form of suffering might take).

My friends, in a culture that values comfort and convenience, we who choose to follow Jesus must be OK with letting go of those values and be willing to suffer for Jesus' sake. Only then can we truly follow Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... so grab your Friday morning cup of hot steaming coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. The other day I was listening to a Christian radio station, and the DJ came on and said something to this effect, "As Christians, we don't follow a church, we don't follow a set of teachings, we simply follow Jesus."  As I reflected upon what he said (and he is in no way the first person I have heard say something like this), I just shook my head. Yes, it is true that as Christians we ultimately follow Jesus. BUT ... that does NOT mean that we don't follow a set of teachings. The last time I checked, the gospel record is filled with the teachings of Jesus. AND the New Testament letters were written to explain and expand upon the teachings of Jesus. And Jesus himself followed the teachings of the Bible of his day (which we know as the Old Testament books). So ... if we are to follow Jesus, then we must follow the teachings of the Word of God. What saddens me today is that so many who claim to follow Jesus neglect the Scriptures! If you have decided to follow Jesus ... then don't neglect God's Word. For it is in the Word that we see God and His Son, Jesus, revealed. Only as we follow the Bible can we truly claim to be following Jesus!

2. This week I was reminded that spring is indeed just around the corner. How so? Major League baseball teams have begun their spring training. Yep. Pitchers are throwing, catchers are catching, batters are batting ... all the while littering the field with the empty shells of sun flower seeds. So for those of you who just hate the cold and the snow, sleet and freezing rain, be patient. Spring is on the way! In the same way, we need to be patient as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ. While on earth some 2000 years ago, Jesus promised that after his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven, he would one day return. When he does he will gather his people to himself (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and bring about the final judgment of humanity (Revelation 20:11-15). So my question to anyone reading this ... "Are YOU ready to meet the God who made you?" If you have any uncertainty whatsoever, I would encourage you to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.

3. Now if you are following Jesus, you will put yourself in a place to influence others for Christ (and surely you have a desire to do just that!). Here's an excellent read on How to Influence People Spiritually. Read it ... chew on it ... put it into practice! You and those around you will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Time to pour your favorite cup of Joe and enjoy a few random thoughts with me ...

1. Valentine's Day is fast approaching ... now just two days away. So, as always at this time of year, I start to contemplate what I can give my wife. In the past I have given her chocolate, flowers, jewelry, dinner out, etc. No matter how I have chosen to express my love for her, she has always shown appreciation for my efforts. But what we all must consider is this ... not how we show our love for our significant other on Valentine's Day ... but rather how we demonstrate our love on EVERYDAY! Putting our sweetheart's needs and interests above our own on a regular basis is the best gift you can give one another! Take a moment and read Philippians 2:3-4 and then live these verses out in your day to day relationship! You will be better for it!

2. Cold weather is coming! The forecast for Sunday is calling for early morning temperatures near zero and wind chills well below that! Brrr .... frigid indeed! I will be sure to bundle up before I head for the church in the predawn hours of Sunday. And anyone who would see me with a ski cap on my head, scarf around my neck. wearing a heavy winter coat and gloves, would not give me a second thought. In fact, I am guessing that even those who insist on wearing shorts all year round (yes, even outdoors) will think twice about doing so on Sunday! None of us like to be cold ... and so we do all we can to stay warm. Hmmm. When it comes to our faith in Christ, far too often our hearts grow cold. The fire of passion and enthusiasm for Jesus begins to die out (if you are anything like me, you know exactly what I am talking about!). So ... when this happens, what can we do? How can we keep our hearts warm with love for Jesus when the world around us can be so cold? Here are a few thoughts:

  - Preach the gospel to yourself! As you remind yourself of God's love for you. . . a love that led him to send his one and only son to die in your place even as you were shaking your fist in his face ... your heart cannot remain cold toward him! For starters check out Isaiah 53:1-12 from the Old Testament and Ephesians 2:1-10 from the New Testament.

   - Count your many blessings! When Satan went on the attack against our first parents, he successfully got Eve to focus on the ONE (and only one!) prohibition God had set before her and Adam. EVERYTHING in the garden was theirs for the having ... except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan convinced them that they would not be happy as long as they could not have it all! Well just as he did with Adam and Eve, Satan does the same with us. He tempts us to be discontented because we don't have this or that ... even though we should be contented because we have the basic necessities of life and much more (especially compared to so many billions on this planet who number among the "have-nots"). Please take a moment and reflect on 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

There are certainly other things you can do ... but these two will, I believe, go a long way toward restoring any lost spiritual passion!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning .... Friday coffee ... and a few random thoughts about life and faith. Thanks for joining me!

1. Tuesday was Groundhog Day. It amazed me to hear that many of these Groundhog "meteorologists," including the most famous Groundhog of all, Punxsutawney Phil, were unable to see their shadow despite the clear skies and the sun shining brightly to welcome the day. All that said, I sure hope Phil is right about this. After the 2 1/2 feet of snow that recently fell, I am all in for an early spring! But, I am not going to get over excited about the prospect of "spring being right around the corner." According to Stormfax Almanac, Phil only gets it right about 39% of the time for his home town of Punxsutawney. As I thought of that ... I thought of God's Word. I am so thankful whenever I read the Bible, I don't have to wonder if what God saying is accurate. Since the Bible contains the "God-breathed" words of God (2 Timothy 3:16), we can be assured the accuracy of the Bible is 100%! No need to second guess if what God says will happen will happen. If God says it ... you can count on it!

2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul makes references to the need Christians have for the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. Just as a soldier does not even think about going into battle without his body armor and weapons, we can ill afford to do so as we do battle with the spiritual forces around us (Ephesians 6:10-18). Now how can we put on this breastplate (to protect our heart) and helmet (to protect our mind)? We can do so by believing what God says by faith, doing what God commands out of love, and embracing what God promises because of hope. If we do this, we will be prepared to meet the enemy on the field of battle (for more on this, click here for the audio and PPT of my message of this past Sunday).

3. Finally, yesterday was the five month mark of the journey my wife (and I) have been on. It was on September 4th that she underwent her total knee replacement of her right knee. Then on November 10th, she underwent a manipulation of that knee while under a general anesthesia (in order to break up the large amount of scar tissue that had built up and was preventing her from getting the bend in the knee that she needed. Unfortunately, during that procedure, her femur was broken. So after discovering this, she underwent another surgery on November 18th to repair the break. Tuesday of
this week, we had another follow up with the surgeon. The x-rays taken revealed that all looked good. He told her she could continue to increase the weight she was placing on the leg (she had the initial go ahead to do this back on January 20th). We are hoping that by the end of March/beginning of April, she will be able to get back to watching grandkids ... which she loves to do!  Thanks for  your ongoing prayers. God has taught us a lot about serving and waiting. He has also shown us that we are in a wonderful community of believers. Thanks, Grace Church, for all your loving support during these difficult days.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 26, 2016

It's Friday .... meaning COFFEE! (of course, I don't need Friday to enjoy coffee. For me, coffee is an everyday affair!).  Whether you enjoy coffee or not, I invite you to join me for a few random thoughts.

1. Last week, people around here were groaning about a big snow storm that was bringing a foot of snow or more our way this week. Well ... with hindsight (which is always 20-20 - something more of us need to remind ourselves of more often) - the talk of a big snow storm was just that, "talk." As it turns out, we did have about an inch of rain fall (which would equate to approximately 10-12 inches of snow, depending upon the temperature). But it was WET not WHITE precipitation that fell from the sky! So even though the meteorologists got it right that a storm was coming ... they could not accurately forecast the type of precipitation we were going to have until much closer to the date of the actual storm (I believe by Monday they were pretty confident that it would be primarily an all rain event). Two thousand years ago, someone said told a group of twelve men that he was going away but would one day return (John 14:1-3). That someone was Jesus and the twelve were his apostles. Because this forecast of a return was given by none other than God's Son (the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is indeed God the Son), we can count on it happening. When? We can't know for sure. But my gut tells me it will be sooner rather than later. SO ... my question, my friend is a simple one: Are you ready to meet the God who made you? If you have any questions, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

2. To mark this season of Lent, I chose to preach a series of five messages that I have titled: iWill Follow Jesus: Five Commitments that Define a Christian. The series is loosely based on Jesus' call to follow him as recorded in Luke 9:23. A key word in this verse is the word "daily." The commitment Jesus calls us to is not a once and done kind of commitment ... but one that we must renew day by day. A friend passed on to me several devotionals based upon Luke 9:23. Here are a few thoughts of the writer in one of these devotionals:

"There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross. There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires suffering or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God's will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow him."

Of course, the cross Jesus is referring to here is not the burden of a cranky back or mother-in-law. The cross in Jesus' day was an instrument of suffering and death. So Jesus is telling us (as the writer of this devotional points out) that we need to be willing to suffer for his name (no matter what the form of suffering might take).

My friends, in a culture that values comfort and convenience, we who choose to follow Jesus must be OK with letting go of those values and be willing to suffer for Jesus' sake. Only then can we truly follow Jesus!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... so grab your Friday morning cup of hot steaming coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. The other day I was listening to a Christian radio station, and the DJ came on and said something to this effect, "As Christians, we don't follow a church, we don't follow a set of teachings, we simply follow Jesus."  As I reflected upon what he said (and he is in no way the first person I have heard say something like this), I just shook my head. Yes, it is true that as Christians we ultimately follow Jesus. BUT ... that does NOT mean that we don't follow a set of teachings. The last time I checked, the gospel record is filled with the teachings of Jesus. AND the New Testament letters were written to explain and expand upon the teachings of Jesus. And Jesus himself followed the teachings of the Bible of his day (which we know as the Old Testament books). So ... if we are to follow Jesus, then we must follow the teachings of the Word of God. What saddens me today is that so many who claim to follow Jesus neglect the Scriptures! If you have decided to follow Jesus ... then don't neglect God's Word. For it is in the Word that we see God and His Son, Jesus, revealed. Only as we follow the Bible can we truly claim to be following Jesus!

2. This week I was reminded that spring is indeed just around the corner. How so? Major League baseball teams have begun their spring training. Yep. Pitchers are throwing, catchers are catching, batters are batting ... all the while littering the field with the empty shells of sun flower seeds. So for those of you who just hate the cold and the snow, sleet and freezing rain, be patient. Spring is on the way! In the same way, we need to be patient as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ. While on earth some 2000 years ago, Jesus promised that after his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven, he would one day return. When he does he will gather his people to himself (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and bring about the final judgment of humanity (Revelation 20:11-15). So my question to anyone reading this ... "Are YOU ready to meet the God who made you?" If you have any uncertainty whatsoever, I would encourage you to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.

3. Now if you are following Jesus, you will put yourself in a place to influence others for Christ (and surely you have a desire to do just that!). Here's an excellent read on How to Influence People Spiritually. Read it ... chew on it ... put it into practice! You and those around you will be better for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Time to pour your favorite cup of Joe and enjoy a few random thoughts with me ...

1. Valentine's Day is fast approaching ... now just two days away. So, as always at this time of year, I start to contemplate what I can give my wife. In the past I have given her chocolate, flowers, jewelry, dinner out, etc. No matter how I have chosen to express my love for her, she has always shown appreciation for my efforts. But what we all must consider is this ... not how we show our love for our significant other on Valentine's Day ... but rather how we demonstrate our love on EVERYDAY! Putting our sweetheart's needs and interests above our own on a regular basis is the best gift you can give one another! Take a moment and read Philippians 2:3-4 and then live these verses out in your day to day relationship! You will be better for it!

2. Cold weather is coming! The forecast for Sunday is calling for early morning temperatures near zero and wind chills well below that! Brrr .... frigid indeed! I will be sure to bundle up before I head for the church in the predawn hours of Sunday. And anyone who would see me with a ski cap on my head, scarf around my neck. wearing a heavy winter coat and gloves, would not give me a second thought. In fact, I am guessing that even those who insist on wearing shorts all year round (yes, even outdoors) will think twice about doing so on Sunday! None of us like to be cold ... and so we do all we can to stay warm. Hmmm. When it comes to our faith in Christ, far too often our hearts grow cold. The fire of passion and enthusiasm for Jesus begins to die out (if you are anything like me, you know exactly what I am talking about!). So ... when this happens, what can we do? How can we keep our hearts warm with love for Jesus when the world around us can be so cold? Here are a few thoughts:

  - Preach the gospel to yourself! As you remind yourself of God's love for you. . . a love that led him to send his one and only son to die in your place even as you were shaking your fist in his face ... your heart cannot remain cold toward him! For starters check out Isaiah 53:1-12 from the Old Testament and Ephesians 2:1-10 from the New Testament.

   - Count your many blessings! When Satan went on the attack against our first parents, he successfully got Eve to focus on the ONE (and only one!) prohibition God had set before her and Adam. EVERYTHING in the garden was theirs for the having ... except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan convinced them that they would not be happy as long as they could not have it all! Well just as he did with Adam and Eve, Satan does the same with us. He tempts us to be discontented because we don't have this or that ... even though we should be contented because we have the basic necessities of life and much more (especially compared to so many billions on this planet who number among the "have-nots"). Please take a moment and reflect on 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

There are certainly other things you can do ... but these two will, I believe, go a long way toward restoring any lost spiritual passion!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning .... Friday coffee ... and a few random thoughts about life and faith. Thanks for joining me!

1. Tuesday was Groundhog Day. It amazed me to hear that many of these Groundhog "meteorologists," including the most famous Groundhog of all, Punxsutawney Phil, were unable to see their shadow despite the clear skies and the sun shining brightly to welcome the day. All that said, I sure hope Phil is right about this. After the 2 1/2 feet of snow that recently fell, I am all in for an early spring! But, I am not going to get over excited about the prospect of "spring being right around the corner." According to Stormfax Almanac, Phil only gets it right about 39% of the time for his home town of Punxsutawney. As I thought of that ... I thought of God's Word. I am so thankful whenever I read the Bible, I don't have to wonder if what God saying is accurate. Since the Bible contains the "God-breathed" words of God (2 Timothy 3:16), we can be assured the accuracy of the Bible is 100%! No need to second guess if what God says will happen will happen. If God says it ... you can count on it!

2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul makes references to the need Christians have for the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. Just as a soldier does not even think about going into battle without his body armor and weapons, we can ill afford to do so as we do battle with the spiritual forces around us (Ephesians 6:10-18). Now how can we put on this breastplate (to protect our heart) and helmet (to protect our mind)? We can do so by believing what God says by faith, doing what God commands out of love, and embracing what God promises because of hope. If we do this, we will be prepared to meet the enemy on the field of battle (for more on this, click here for the audio and PPT of my message of this past Sunday).

3. Finally, yesterday was the five month mark of the journey my wife (and I) have been on. It was on September 4th that she underwent her total knee replacement of her right knee. Then on November 10th, she underwent a manipulation of that knee while under a general anesthesia (in order to break up the large amount of scar tissue that had built up and was preventing her from getting the bend in the knee that she needed. Unfortunately, during that procedure, her femur was broken. So after discovering this, she underwent another surgery on November 18th to repair the break. Tuesday of
this week, we had another follow up with the surgeon. The x-rays taken revealed that all looked good. He told her she could continue to increase the weight she was placing on the leg (she had the initial go ahead to do this back on January 20th). We are hoping that by the end of March/beginning of April, she will be able to get back to watching grandkids ... which she loves to do!  Thanks for  your ongoing prayers. God has taught us a lot about serving and waiting. He has also shown us that we are in a wonderful community of believers. Thanks, Grace Church, for all your loving support during these difficult days.

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.