PJ

PJ

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"But God ..."

I spent some time recently reading on the doctrines of divine election and human responsibility. I did so because I find great encouragement and comfort in them. A number of years ago, as I worked my way through these doctrines, I came to the conclusion that if my salvation is by grace alone… then the reason God chose me had nothing to do with me ... but it had everything to do with Him. Was it a random choice? Did God play a game of darts in eternity past, and every human being that was to be born who was hit with a dart he chose for himself? Hardly! God never does anything arbitrary. Rather he does everything according to his good pleasure. So why he chose me… I will never know. But I do know this: it had nothing to do with me!

So, if I came to faith because God elected (chose) me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), what about those who ultimately don't believe. Will they be able to blame God for failing to choose them when they stand before him at the final judgment? No. The Bible makes it clear that human beings are accountable to God for their choices. And since God has revealed himself clearly to humanity in the things he has made ... people who reject him will be without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). So those who will face eternal judgement will do so because of their unbelief. This is the clear teaching of Scripture. 

How do I put these two seemingly contradictory doctrines together? Frankly, I don't! Arguably the greatest preacher of the 19th century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked to reconcile these truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the outworking of salvation. His response?
"I only reconcile enemies. These two truths are friends taught side-by-side in the word of God."

Often as I think through these truths (as well as other difficult doctrines revealed in the Scriptures), I think of the words of Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." Keep in mind that God is the Creator. He has existed forever. He designed us and he made us. Therefore we should expect, because of the great and vast gulf between us and Him (Isaiah 55:8-9), there will be many truths which we will find difficult to grasp. And when we start thinking (as some do) that God is not "playing fair" when it comes to his choosing a people for himself out of lost humanity, (while not choosing all) we must remember that he is the potter and we are merely the clay (Romans 9:19-21). Understanding that will go a long way toward helping us to worship and love him as we should!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... and I am really going to enjoy my morning coffee this morning! I have been ill this week ... and have not had a cup of coffee since Sunday morning. For those of you genuine coffee lovers, you know I must have been feeling poorly to have no desire for a cup of java! All that said, this week's edition will be somewhat shorter than normal. Still, I hope you find something to stir your heart and strengthen your faith.

1. My wife returned from a shopping trip the other day and informed me that the vehicle registration on our van had been expired for a month! Ouch! Renewing vehicle registrations is something I have never forgotten to do ... not in all the years I have been a car owner (I bought my first car, a 1965 Chevy Bel Air when I was 17. My twin brother and I shared it for two years and then sold it when we went off to college in Philadelphia - we bought it for $350 and sold it for the same!). So I at once took care of renewing the registration online. But think with me .... across all the years of car ownership (43 years to save you from doing the math) .. and with many of those years requiring the renewal registrations for two vehicles ... to forget just once is not a bad track record. Right? So I should feel pretty good about it (actually I am feeling very thankful that a friend pointed out the expired sticker on our license plate!). But aren't you glad that God ... when it comes to remembering his promises ... never once across scores of generations of human history involving scores of different promises ... NEVER ONCE has he forgotten a promise he has made to us! I am reminded of these words the prophet Jeremiah spoke to God: "Morning, by morning new mercies I see. Great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).  What was true in Jeremiah's day is true in our day .. and I thank God will be true in my grandchildren's day as well!

2. This week of sickness has reminded me of just how frail our bodies are. But I praise God that these bodies are not the bodies we will have to endure for eternity. Paul describes the bodies that await us in the great resurrection chapter of the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 15. He does so by contrasting our current bodies with the ones that await us at the final resurrection. Take a moment to read his words (and remember, he was writing under the inspiration of God. Therefore his words are God's words). Then worship our Creator who promises a new body to all of us who treasure Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior --- and as I mentioned above, he is ALWAYS faithful to his promises. He will NOT forget! We will receive a new body that we will enjoy FOREVER and EVER! Amen!

"So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable: what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning .... Friday coffee .... And for most of you ... a sigh of relief that the weekend is almost here!

1. My friend Augustin Hibaile is being used of God in a great way in the heart of Africa. Encompass World Partners sent out yesterday the following prayer update concerning Hibaile and his ministry. Please read it and take a moment to pray for this dear brother. His heart's desire is to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of the human suffering of the Central African Republic's peoples (and you can stay updated by visiting the Friends of CIDEL website).
Dr. Hibaile (left) with UN rep


UPDATE:  In April, Dr. Hibailé was invited by the European military contingent of the UN to lead training on military ethics to the national senior officers. He has also had contact with C.A.R.’s new President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. God continues to give opportunities for teaching and witness among officials and educators. Pray for continued open doors and for personnel needed for the ministry.

Dr. Augustin Hibailé continues to conduct training encounters for leaders of the Central African Republic. When the C.A.R.’s newly-elected president was formerly the prime minister, he and Dr. Hibailé met weekly for prayer. Members of the new government, once they are in place, will be invited to seminars on ethical leadership and statesmanship. In addition, Dr. Hibailé maintains an extensive ministry of training for church leaders, including trauma relief and providing housing for widows whose homes were destroyed. Pray for Dr. Hibailé’s ministry of leadership and encouragement.


2. As a little kid, whenever we would go to Grandma's, my grandfather would almost always welcome me with a "dutch rub," vigorously rubbing his knuckles across the top of my head (for an interesting take on where this expression originated, click here). Fast forward from 1960 to 2016 and it's deja vu! When the little kids come to my house (a.k.a. "Grammy's), they sometimes ask me to give them a dutch rub! What goes around comes around! Having just written this, it is hard for me to believe that I am now the grandfather giving dutch rubs to his grandkids! Where has the time gone? In Psalm 90, Moses writes about the brevity of life. He states that the years of our lives "are soon gone and we fly away (Psalm 90:10). He then offers up this prayer: 

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (v. 12). 

Friends, no matter what your age is right now, your earthly journey will sooner (rather than later) be done. And when that time arrives when you are gone, what will remain of your life? A big house? A fancy car? A large bank account? Or will you leave behind a number of people whose lives were enriched by yours? Make the prayer of Moses your prayer. You (and those around you) will be better for it! Life is short and passes quickly. Don't waste it! 

3. By the time lunch time rolls around on Sunday, I am ... to put it mildly ... just a bit tired. So my agenda for most Sunday afternoons contains one word, "chill!" This time of year, one of the ways I enjoy chillin ... is to grab the tv remote, plop down in my favorite recliner, and with a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee at my side, turn on the television and find the channel airing the weekend PGA event (for all you non golfers, PGA stands for Professional Golf Association). For some odd reason (and maybe it's
not all that odd!) I find watching a bunch of grown men running around a golf course, trying to get a little white ball into a slightly larger hole to be quite relaxing! And as I watch some of these guys hit the ball one or two hundred yards and land it within a few feet of the pin ... I find myself thinking, "Man, I wish I could do that!" But .. really? These guys just don't grab their clubs for the weekend and go golfing. They are on the golf course, driving range, putting green for hours and hours and days and days on end, honing their skills so they can play at the professional level. So after I go through that reality check, I settle back down to just enjoying what they are able to do! 

Now ... all that said ... if they are going to work that hard at perfecting their golf game ... how much harder should we be working at growing in godliness? In his first letter to his young mentee, Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote these words. "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8). What is interesting here is that the Greek word Paul uses (which the ESV translates as "train) is the Greek word from which we get the English words, gymnasium and gymnastics. It literally means "to train naked" (athletes in the Graeco Roman world would often do this so that they would not be hindered in any way by any article of clothing). Paul is stressing to young Timothy (and by extension us as well) that just as athletes sweat in a gym in order to prepare for competition ... so we need to sweat spiritually, if we are to become the godly men and women that God desires we become. How can we do this? Simply ... make it a priority to practice the various spiritual disciplines that are available to us ... and as we do, we will grow! And that, my friend will benefit us both now in this life ... and later in the life to come! (For some help with spiritual disciplines, check out some sample chapters from some of Don Whitney's VERY helpful books on the topic). 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's that time again to pour yourself of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I must admit I am surprised at the number of non-coffee drinkers that I know. I feel somewhat sad for them. Not only do they miss out of the joy of savoring a variety of coffees, but they also miss out on all the health benefits of drinking coffee ... and I am thinking of far more than just waking a person up in the morning (and there's no better way to wake up than coffee in one's cup!). Here are 19 good health reasons to drink coffee. 

2. The expression "lightening never strikes the same place twice" is actually a myth. Lightening can, and does occasionally strike the same place twice. It happened this week in New York State, in the small town of West Babylon. Bruce Magistro, an every day construction worker, won a million dollars this week in the New York State lottery. And this was not his first million dollar lottery ticket! Four years ago he bought a ticket at the same gas station which also brought him a million dollar prize! The odds he beat to win two million dollar lottery prizes? A paltry 1 in 7,745,600! Now compare the odds he beat to win these two million dollar payouts to the odds we must all beat in order to avoid death. The statistics are clear. One out of every one dies! And there is no way of avoiding our date with death! And what awaits on the other side of the grave? The Bible tells us "just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So ... given the inevitablity of death, I need to ask you, "Are YOU ready?" Jesus Christ has made a way for all of us to "be ready" to meet the God who made us. You can find out about this way and the choice we all face RIGHT HERE! 

3. Please continue to pray for the people of the Central African Republic. The conditions there remain desperate, especially outside the capital city of Bangui. Nearly half the population of 5 million people need aid (if that were true of the United States, that would mean 160 million people would be in need! Ouch!). The country recently elected a new president, but he has a steep up hill battle to fight to bring stability and peace back to this impoverished, war weary country (read this Guardian article for the latest). So ... please pray for the country and the many believers who live there. Also please pray for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. You can read about his ministry on the Friends of CIDEL webiste (CIDEL stands for the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership). Thanks!

4. Finally, we will be conducting our annual police officers appreciation and memorial service this Sunday. We do this to let our law enforcement community who put their lives on the line every day know just how much we appreciate what they do for us. If you are in town on Sunday morning, I invite you to join us. The service begins at 10:30.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday morning  ... so it's coffee time (well actually as I write this it's Thursday afternoon and it's still coffee time as I am enjoying a delicious cup of Maxwell House's House Blend!). So pour yourself a cup of Joe (or not, whatever your pleasure be) ... and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. The dictionary defines "overwhelmed"as "the feeling or state of mind that results from being buried or drowned under a huge mass." I am going to be very transparent with you (which is what I should be, yes?) ... I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I write these words. For starters, we are in the last few weeks of an incredibly busy season at church that has included several big events/projects (eg: student ministries' auction, Easter week activities, our annual missions conference, budget and annual membership meeting planning, our Celebrate Grace Sunday, and ... in just a little over a week, our annual Police Officers Appreciation and Memorial Service). Throw into that mix the spring board meetings of Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana which I attended and all the rest of the demands of pastoral ministry ... and it has been one very busy spring! And of course, the journey my wife has been on (update below) has added an extra weight. So ... I am very tired. But all that said ... I will say that through all of this, God has been good ... very good. So many wonderful things have happened in and through all of this activity that I have to say, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" But now it's time for a brief break ... so next Monday and Tuesday I am taking my wife (who is a Jersey girl) to the beach for an overnight. It will be the first time we have been away together overnight since our family beach trip of last August. We are going next week as next Friday is our 38th anniversary. Please pray for us that we can rest a bit and recharge our batteries. Thanks!

2. If you are interested in learning a bit about the Old Testament book of Proverbs, here is a nice brief video (5 minutes) on the book. The Bible Project has a number of other videos also available on their Youtube channel that you might want to check out.

3. Update on my wife, Sharon. Yesterday we returned to see the orthopedic surgeon who repaired her fractured femur back on November 19th. If you remember from my previous updates, back at the beginning of March, a CAT scan of her leg revealed that a portion of the fracture was not healing. The doctor ordered a bone stimulator for her and she has been using that faithfully now for some 7 weeks. She has also been gaining strength in her leg, walking more with just a cane (and some around the house without even the cane!). She has also returned behind the wheel of our van, driving some short distances once or twice a week. So progress is being made on some fronts. Yesterday's x-rays were once again inconclusive (a downer as we were hoping the healing would be very evident). The doctor told us that even though the healing could not be clearly seen did not mean it was not happening. He suggested one of two courses of action. First he mentioned the possibility of taking a nuclear medicine bone scan. He was 50-50 on this as, in his words, the test results are open to interpretation and could therefore prove inconclusive. He then suggested a second course of action ... to simply continue as is for now (bone stim, physcial therapy, exercises at home, and a good does of calcium and vitamin D). We chose to take option two. So we will go back in early July for another assessment. I did ask him if a bone graft was the next step should this stubborn bone refuse to heal (as this was something he mentioned as a possibility back in March). He informed us that he would lean away from doing so for a number of reasons which I will not get into at this point. SOOO ... all that said, the next step would be a total revision of Sharon's knee replacement ... a path down which we do NOT want to go. So we left a bit shaken ... a bit discouraged ... yet knowing that we are in the hands of the God who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us! Tomorrow will be another day ... and I am sure we will be feeling better about things. Would you please pray for healing for Sharon's leg? And would you also pray for wisdom for us as to my own need for surgery on my left arm? Your prayers mean more to us than you know!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"But God ..."

I spent some time recently reading on the doctrines of divine election and human responsibility. I did so because I find great encouragement and comfort in them. A number of years ago, as I worked my way through these doctrines, I came to the conclusion that if my salvation is by grace alone… then the reason God chose me had nothing to do with me ... but it had everything to do with Him. Was it a random choice? Did God play a game of darts in eternity past, and every human being that was to be born who was hit with a dart he chose for himself? Hardly! God never does anything arbitrary. Rather he does everything according to his good pleasure. So why he chose me… I will never know. But I do know this: it had nothing to do with me!

So, if I came to faith because God elected (chose) me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), what about those who ultimately don't believe. Will they be able to blame God for failing to choose them when they stand before him at the final judgment? No. The Bible makes it clear that human beings are accountable to God for their choices. And since God has revealed himself clearly to humanity in the things he has made ... people who reject him will be without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). So those who will face eternal judgement will do so because of their unbelief. This is the clear teaching of Scripture. 

How do I put these two seemingly contradictory doctrines together? Frankly, I don't! Arguably the greatest preacher of the 19th century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked to reconcile these truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the outworking of salvation. His response?
"I only reconcile enemies. These two truths are friends taught side-by-side in the word of God."

Often as I think through these truths (as well as other difficult doctrines revealed in the Scriptures), I think of the words of Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." Keep in mind that God is the Creator. He has existed forever. He designed us and he made us. Therefore we should expect, because of the great and vast gulf between us and Him (Isaiah 55:8-9), there will be many truths which we will find difficult to grasp. And when we start thinking (as some do) that God is not "playing fair" when it comes to his choosing a people for himself out of lost humanity, (while not choosing all) we must remember that he is the potter and we are merely the clay (Romans 9:19-21). Understanding that will go a long way toward helping us to worship and love him as we should!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj


Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... and I am really going to enjoy my morning coffee this morning! I have been ill this week ... and have not had a cup of coffee since Sunday morning. For those of you genuine coffee lovers, you know I must have been feeling poorly to have no desire for a cup of java! All that said, this week's edition will be somewhat shorter than normal. Still, I hope you find something to stir your heart and strengthen your faith.

1. My wife returned from a shopping trip the other day and informed me that the vehicle registration on our van had been expired for a month! Ouch! Renewing vehicle registrations is something I have never forgotten to do ... not in all the years I have been a car owner (I bought my first car, a 1965 Chevy Bel Air when I was 17. My twin brother and I shared it for two years and then sold it when we went off to college in Philadelphia - we bought it for $350 and sold it for the same!). So I at once took care of renewing the registration online. But think with me .... across all the years of car ownership (43 years to save you from doing the math) .. and with many of those years requiring the renewal registrations for two vehicles ... to forget just once is not a bad track record. Right? So I should feel pretty good about it (actually I am feeling very thankful that a friend pointed out the expired sticker on our license plate!). But aren't you glad that God ... when it comes to remembering his promises ... never once across scores of generations of human history involving scores of different promises ... NEVER ONCE has he forgotten a promise he has made to us! I am reminded of these words the prophet Jeremiah spoke to God: "Morning, by morning new mercies I see. Great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).  What was true in Jeremiah's day is true in our day .. and I thank God will be true in my grandchildren's day as well!

2. This week of sickness has reminded me of just how frail our bodies are. But I praise God that these bodies are not the bodies we will have to endure for eternity. Paul describes the bodies that await us in the great resurrection chapter of the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 15. He does so by contrasting our current bodies with the ones that await us at the final resurrection. Take a moment to read his words (and remember, he was writing under the inspiration of God. Therefore his words are God's words). Then worship our Creator who promises a new body to all of us who treasure Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior --- and as I mentioned above, he is ALWAYS faithful to his promises. He will NOT forget! We will receive a new body that we will enjoy FOREVER and EVER! Amen!

"So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable: what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."
(1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning .... Friday coffee .... And for most of you ... a sigh of relief that the weekend is almost here!

1. My friend Augustin Hibaile is being used of God in a great way in the heart of Africa. Encompass World Partners sent out yesterday the following prayer update concerning Hibaile and his ministry. Please read it and take a moment to pray for this dear brother. His heart's desire is to bring the light of Christ into the darkness of the human suffering of the Central African Republic's peoples (and you can stay updated by visiting the Friends of CIDEL website).
Dr. Hibaile (left) with UN rep


UPDATE:  In April, Dr. Hibailé was invited by the European military contingent of the UN to lead training on military ethics to the national senior officers. He has also had contact with C.A.R.’s new President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. God continues to give opportunities for teaching and witness among officials and educators. Pray for continued open doors and for personnel needed for the ministry.

Dr. Augustin Hibailé continues to conduct training encounters for leaders of the Central African Republic. When the C.A.R.’s newly-elected president was formerly the prime minister, he and Dr. Hibailé met weekly for prayer. Members of the new government, once they are in place, will be invited to seminars on ethical leadership and statesmanship. In addition, Dr. Hibailé maintains an extensive ministry of training for church leaders, including trauma relief and providing housing for widows whose homes were destroyed. Pray for Dr. Hibailé’s ministry of leadership and encouragement.


2. As a little kid, whenever we would go to Grandma's, my grandfather would almost always welcome me with a "dutch rub," vigorously rubbing his knuckles across the top of my head (for an interesting take on where this expression originated, click here). Fast forward from 1960 to 2016 and it's deja vu! When the little kids come to my house (a.k.a. "Grammy's), they sometimes ask me to give them a dutch rub! What goes around comes around! Having just written this, it is hard for me to believe that I am now the grandfather giving dutch rubs to his grandkids! Where has the time gone? In Psalm 90, Moses writes about the brevity of life. He states that the years of our lives "are soon gone and we fly away (Psalm 90:10). He then offers up this prayer: 

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (v. 12). 

Friends, no matter what your age is right now, your earthly journey will sooner (rather than later) be done. And when that time arrives when you are gone, what will remain of your life? A big house? A fancy car? A large bank account? Or will you leave behind a number of people whose lives were enriched by yours? Make the prayer of Moses your prayer. You (and those around you) will be better for it! Life is short and passes quickly. Don't waste it! 

3. By the time lunch time rolls around on Sunday, I am ... to put it mildly ... just a bit tired. So my agenda for most Sunday afternoons contains one word, "chill!" This time of year, one of the ways I enjoy chillin ... is to grab the tv remote, plop down in my favorite recliner, and with a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee at my side, turn on the television and find the channel airing the weekend PGA event (for all you non golfers, PGA stands for Professional Golf Association). For some odd reason (and maybe it's
not all that odd!) I find watching a bunch of grown men running around a golf course, trying to get a little white ball into a slightly larger hole to be quite relaxing! And as I watch some of these guys hit the ball one or two hundred yards and land it within a few feet of the pin ... I find myself thinking, "Man, I wish I could do that!" But .. really? These guys just don't grab their clubs for the weekend and go golfing. They are on the golf course, driving range, putting green for hours and hours and days and days on end, honing their skills so they can play at the professional level. So after I go through that reality check, I settle back down to just enjoying what they are able to do! 

Now ... all that said ... if they are going to work that hard at perfecting their golf game ... how much harder should we be working at growing in godliness? In his first letter to his young mentee, Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote these words. "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8). What is interesting here is that the Greek word Paul uses (which the ESV translates as "train) is the Greek word from which we get the English words, gymnasium and gymnastics. It literally means "to train naked" (athletes in the Graeco Roman world would often do this so that they would not be hindered in any way by any article of clothing). Paul is stressing to young Timothy (and by extension us as well) that just as athletes sweat in a gym in order to prepare for competition ... so we need to sweat spiritually, if we are to become the godly men and women that God desires we become. How can we do this? Simply ... make it a priority to practice the various spiritual disciplines that are available to us ... and as we do, we will grow! And that, my friend will benefit us both now in this life ... and later in the life to come! (For some help with spiritual disciplines, check out some sample chapters from some of Don Whitney's VERY helpful books on the topic). 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's that time again to pour yourself of your favorite coffee and join me for a few random thoughts.

1. I must admit I am surprised at the number of non-coffee drinkers that I know. I feel somewhat sad for them. Not only do they miss out of the joy of savoring a variety of coffees, but they also miss out on all the health benefits of drinking coffee ... and I am thinking of far more than just waking a person up in the morning (and there's no better way to wake up than coffee in one's cup!). Here are 19 good health reasons to drink coffee. 

2. The expression "lightening never strikes the same place twice" is actually a myth. Lightening can, and does occasionally strike the same place twice. It happened this week in New York State, in the small town of West Babylon. Bruce Magistro, an every day construction worker, won a million dollars this week in the New York State lottery. And this was not his first million dollar lottery ticket! Four years ago he bought a ticket at the same gas station which also brought him a million dollar prize! The odds he beat to win two million dollar lottery prizes? A paltry 1 in 7,745,600! Now compare the odds he beat to win these two million dollar payouts to the odds we must all beat in order to avoid death. The statistics are clear. One out of every one dies! And there is no way of avoiding our date with death! And what awaits on the other side of the grave? The Bible tells us "just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). So ... given the inevitablity of death, I need to ask you, "Are YOU ready?" Jesus Christ has made a way for all of us to "be ready" to meet the God who made us. You can find out about this way and the choice we all face RIGHT HERE! 

3. Please continue to pray for the people of the Central African Republic. The conditions there remain desperate, especially outside the capital city of Bangui. Nearly half the population of 5 million people need aid (if that were true of the United States, that would mean 160 million people would be in need! Ouch!). The country recently elected a new president, but he has a steep up hill battle to fight to bring stability and peace back to this impoverished, war weary country (read this Guardian article for the latest). So ... please pray for the country and the many believers who live there. Also please pray for my friend, Augustin Hibaile and his family. You can read about his ministry on the Friends of CIDEL webiste (CIDEL stands for the Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership). Thanks!

4. Finally, we will be conducting our annual police officers appreciation and memorial service this Sunday. We do this to let our law enforcement community who put their lives on the line every day know just how much we appreciate what they do for us. If you are in town on Sunday morning, I invite you to join us. The service begins at 10:30.

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday morning  ... so it's coffee time (well actually as I write this it's Thursday afternoon and it's still coffee time as I am enjoying a delicious cup of Maxwell House's House Blend!). So pour yourself a cup of Joe (or not, whatever your pleasure be) ... and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1. The dictionary defines "overwhelmed"as "the feeling or state of mind that results from being buried or drowned under a huge mass." I am going to be very transparent with you (which is what I should be, yes?) ... I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I write these words. For starters, we are in the last few weeks of an incredibly busy season at church that has included several big events/projects (eg: student ministries' auction, Easter week activities, our annual missions conference, budget and annual membership meeting planning, our Celebrate Grace Sunday, and ... in just a little over a week, our annual Police Officers Appreciation and Memorial Service). Throw into that mix the spring board meetings of Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana which I attended and all the rest of the demands of pastoral ministry ... and it has been one very busy spring! And of course, the journey my wife has been on (update below) has added an extra weight. So ... I am very tired. But all that said ... I will say that through all of this, God has been good ... very good. So many wonderful things have happened in and through all of this activity that I have to say, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" But now it's time for a brief break ... so next Monday and Tuesday I am taking my wife (who is a Jersey girl) to the beach for an overnight. It will be the first time we have been away together overnight since our family beach trip of last August. We are going next week as next Friday is our 38th anniversary. Please pray for us that we can rest a bit and recharge our batteries. Thanks!

2. If you are interested in learning a bit about the Old Testament book of Proverbs, here is a nice brief video (5 minutes) on the book. The Bible Project has a number of other videos also available on their Youtube channel that you might want to check out.

3. Update on my wife, Sharon. Yesterday we returned to see the orthopedic surgeon who repaired her fractured femur back on November 19th. If you remember from my previous updates, back at the beginning of March, a CAT scan of her leg revealed that a portion of the fracture was not healing. The doctor ordered a bone stimulator for her and she has been using that faithfully now for some 7 weeks. She has also been gaining strength in her leg, walking more with just a cane (and some around the house without even the cane!). She has also returned behind the wheel of our van, driving some short distances once or twice a week. So progress is being made on some fronts. Yesterday's x-rays were once again inconclusive (a downer as we were hoping the healing would be very evident). The doctor told us that even though the healing could not be clearly seen did not mean it was not happening. He suggested one of two courses of action. First he mentioned the possibility of taking a nuclear medicine bone scan. He was 50-50 on this as, in his words, the test results are open to interpretation and could therefore prove inconclusive. He then suggested a second course of action ... to simply continue as is for now (bone stim, physcial therapy, exercises at home, and a good does of calcium and vitamin D). We chose to take option two. So we will go back in early July for another assessment. I did ask him if a bone graft was the next step should this stubborn bone refuse to heal (as this was something he mentioned as a possibility back in March). He informed us that he would lean away from doing so for a number of reasons which I will not get into at this point. SOOO ... all that said, the next step would be a total revision of Sharon's knee replacement ... a path down which we do NOT want to go. So we left a bit shaken ... a bit discouraged ... yet knowing that we are in the hands of the God who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us! Tomorrow will be another day ... and I am sure we will be feeling better about things. Would you please pray for healing for Sharon's leg? And would you also pray for wisdom for us as to my own need for surgery on my left arm? Your prayers mean more to us than you know!

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.