PJ

PJ

Friday, September 30, 2016

It's Friday ... so it's time to pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join me for a couple of thoughts. 

1. In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day, and some places were giving away free coffee! Why celebrate coffee? Why not? Is there a better beverage out there? Coffee hot or cold can't be beat. And not only does it taste great ... but it is chock full of great health benefits. So if you missed the fact that yesterday was National Coffee Day you may have missed a free cup. But given the upside of coffee drinking, coffee is worth every dollar you have to spend on it! Oh ... and by the way, today is National Chewing Gum Day. Since people have been chewing gum for several thousand years ... why not celebrate with a chew of your favorite brand? 

2. Long time Los Angeles Dodger baseball fans will no longer enjoy the voice of Vin Scully when they tune in to listen to Dodger games next season. After SIXTY-SEVEN years, Scully, known as "the Voice of the Dodgers," broadcast his last game this week. Scully is one of the most beloved baseball voices of all time. Even non Dodger fans loved listening to him (I know I did!). Among the many tributes that poured in this week was this one: "He makes Los Angeles a better place to live."  That tribute got me thinking. Is Lancaster a better place to live because of me? Is Grace Church a better church in which to worship and fellowship and serve because of me? Is my family a stronger, healthier family because of me? And what about YOU? Are those around you better because of you? For all of us who claim allegiance to Christ, let's be more intentional about being the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)! 

3. I recently read an article titled, Are We Seeing the Death of Congregational Singing in "Contemporary" Worship? One of the statements made by the author referenced the volume of the worship band in many churches. He wrote, "Often the congregation can't hear itself sing because of the sound level of the 'professional' singers and instrumentalists. So people don't sing." Now that may be true of other churches, it is not true of the church I am privileged to pastor. On one recent Sunday, during our "contemporary" service (which is led by a worship "band"), I stopped singing. Not because I could not hear myself sing, but because I wanted to hear our congregation sing. In fact, on the last verse of the song, the band stopped playing ... and oh, how beautiful was the music being made by a chorus of human voices! Here at Grace Church, our philosophy of music includes this dictum: If the congregation cannot be heard singing ... then the worship band is too loud. Maybe that won't work for other churches, but it sure works for us! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew of coffee and join me for a couple of random, but I hope fruitful, thoughts.

1. Today is the first official Friday of the fall season (autumn officially arrived yesterday at 10:21am). This is somewhat ironic given the fact that the high temperatures for yesterday and today are from the mid to upper 80s. Just shows that the thermometer doesn't always agree with the season. But the forecast for next week is much more fall-like. You see, the seasons come, and the seasons go. And they always come in their proper sequence. So we know that the summer type temperatures won't continue forever… For autumn has now arrived. And the temperatures will progressively trend downward  as we approach the next season of winter. Life is a lot like this. We go through seasons of life. As I look back at my own life I think fondly of the season of childhood. My earliest memories go back to when I was three years of age. Childhood passed and I entered the season of adolescence and then young adulthood.  This was followed by middle-age… And just this year I hit the season of life known as the sixties! I have eight grandchildren! Before I know it, should God grant me more years,  I'll be rocking away (and not to music!), wondering where life went!  But that's OK. I know that this life is merely a preface to the life to come. And with my faith firmly fixed on Jesus Christ, my savior and Lord … I know with the utmost confidence that I will one day cross the great divide from this life into the next. When that happens I will find myself in that glorious place called heaven. How about you?  Do you have this confidence? Or do you have questions about your eternal destination? Courage you to take a few moments and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. You will be glad you did!

2. This week I did a couple of really really stupid things! On  Monday, my wife and I stopped at Walmart. We needed to run in and pick up some miniature pumpkins and some google eyes for a project she was planning for our "little kids." When I got out the car I noticed that it made some sort of strange noise when I went to lock the door. I paused for a moment, and then turned toward the store. About 20 minutes later, shopping mission now accomplished, as I went to unlock the car, I found the door already unlocked. "That's odd!" I said to myself. So I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. When I went to start the car I discovered it was already running! That's right! I left the car running with doors unlocked the entire time we were in Walmart. Now a little background on this. We bought this car in late June. It has a push button ignition.  I'm not trying to make an excuse for my stupid move… But I guess I am still getting used to this new technology. That was stupid move number one. Stupid move number two occurred the very next day. I was walking back from a lunch our staff  enjoyed together in the café of the nearby supermarket. There were three of us walking abreast along the sidewalk. I was walking near the curb.  As I turned my head from the side to look straight ahead, I did so a split-second before I walked right into a metal rod that was holding a banner on the lamp post. You talk about seeing stars.  I saw a few! But after a couple of minutes I started feeling better and no significant damage was done (to me or the banner, my pride, however, took a huge hit!).  All of us from time to time pull stupid stunts like this. As I look back on these "duh moves," I am glad and thankful that no one hopped into our car and took off with it! I'm also grateful that I didn't knock myself out walking in to that metal rod! But when we do stupid things,  I find it a comfort to know that our God… Who is wise beyond measure . . . has his eye upon us (Matthew 10:29-31) and and his hand firmly gripping our lives (John 10:28-29)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

 It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me for a few random thoughts…

1.  Monday evening of this past week, my son, Tim, invited me over to his house to watch our favorite NFL team play (which is the Pittsburgh Steelers of course!).  Since our granddaughter, Ella, was attending art club at our church facility (which is only a couple of minutes from our home), I offered to pick her up and bring her with me to save my son a trip. When we arrived in the house my son informed Ella  that she needed to do some reading. The conversation went something like this:

T -  OK Ella, before you do anything else you need to do some reading.
E -  How long do I need to read? Ten minutes?
T - No, you need to read longer than that.
E - So  how long?
T - Well why don't we negotiate? How about 40 minutes?
E - Well (with a sigh) ... OK

With that Ella proceeded up the stairs to retrieve her book. After she went upstairs, I looked at my son and said, "I guess she needs to learn what the word negotiate means!" Negotiate. I wonder how often we do this with God. We try to negotiate with him when it comes to the demands he makes upon us. Yet when it comes down to it… Who are we to to negotiate with God?  I think we often forget that he is God and we are not. If you need reminded of this take some time and read the  Old Testament book of Job.  Job tried to negotiate with God. And when God finally showed up, any thoughts of negotiations were over! God reminded Job of this truth: "I am God and you are not."  If we pause to remind ourselves of this truth AND the truth that God's commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13), this should dampen any desire we have to negotiate with God. And that, my friends, is a good thing!

2. Here's a quick update on my health. Yesterday I went back for another post op follow-up appointment with my surgeon (surgery was four weeks ago). When I went two weeks ago for my first post op, the surgeon was concerned with a  hematoma which had formed.  I am very thankful to say that the hematoma has almost totally dissipated on its own (otherwise a surgical procedure would've been required to remove it).  I'm also grateful that the x-rays taken yesterday showed everything was looking good. I will continue with physical therapy twice a week. I will continue to wear the brace. And I will continue with the weight restriction of 4 to 5 pounds (lifting  with my left arm). Thanks for all of your ongoing prayers! Very much appreciated! To God be the glory!!!

Thanks for stopping by…
PJ

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday!  Hard to believe that another work week is almost in the books!  Go ahead and pour yourself a couple of your favorite java  and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1.  On Wednesday of this week I finally got my removable splint made for my arm and wrist. It was a rather fascinating process watching the therapist make the splint for me. But I must  admit I would've rather had the experience watching it made on YouTube! What really struck me most when she took off the cast that had been on my arm was just how much my arm had atrophied in the past three weeks. It is a shadow of its former self. She pointed out that once everything is healed with my wrist and arm I will have to work hard at strengthening the arm back to its pre-surgery state.  Now I was not surprised that my arm had atrophied.  That's what happens to muscles when they are not used. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. When we fail to exercise certain spiritual practices… We experience spiritual atrophy. So for example if you're not praying like you should,  when you do pray your prayers will tend to be weak and shallow.  The same is true for our interaction with God's word. If you're not exercising that spiritual practice you will experience atrophy. So the key to saying strong  in the so-called spiritual disciplines that will lead us to grow in our faith is to exercise them. So how are you doing? People spent a lot of time and a lot of money keeping their bodies in shape.  What are you doing to keep  your soul in shape?

2.  This summer is one that is insisting on sticking around.  We are currently standing at 38 days of 90° or above this summer (in a normal summer we would have 22 such days).  And with the forecast containing at least two more days with forecast highs of 90° we should have no problem hitting the
40 mark (which would tie for 7th place on the "Most 90 degree days" list)! This is been one hot long summer!  But it is September. That means with one turn at the calendar, it will be October. Summer will soon begin  to fade in the rear view mirror of life. That's the way life happens. Summers come  and summers go. And the older we get the faster that all occurs! The other day as I looked in the mirror it struck me that a 60-year-old man was staring back at me. Really? I'm now in my 60s? How did that happen? When did it happen? Well sooner or later it happens to all of us. As the Scripture reminds us we are like grass that flourishes in the morning but fades and withers by evening (Psalm 90:5-6).  Given this reality we all need to be praying Psalm 90:12. "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  And we need to be living out the Apostle's Paul's counsel in Ephesians 5:15-15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are passing quickly." So let's determine to make the most of our time ... living each day for Christ and Christ alone!

Thanks for stopping by,
PJ

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well, it's Friday again. So I invite you to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts. And since I am still in recovery mode and typing comes with some difficulty, I will begin with a quick update on my health followed with a post I wrote a while back.

1. On Wednesday I returned to see my surgeon for my postop  appointment (15 days following my surgery). For the most part he was pleased, although he is concerned about a hematoma which has formed. He is hoping it will dissipate on it's own. If it does not then he will have to care for it in the OR. Normally I would be seeing him in four weeks, but due to this I will be seeing him in two. I did get my cast off and the sutures out. I have a temporary splint on. Next Wednesday I see the hand therapist who will fit me for a splint I can put on and take off myself. Yea! Thanks for your own ongoing prayers!

2.                                You Can Run but You Can’t Hide!

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) might be the most watched show on television – but it is losing popularity among law enforcement personnel.  It seems that criminals are “wising up” on how to go about covering up their tracks after a crime.  And it appears that they are learning how to do so by watching the popular TV series.  Take for example the case of  Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney. This guy allegedly broke into a home and murdered two women.  He then carefully cleaned up the crime scene (using bleach which destroys DNA evidence) and disposed of the bodies and his bloody clothing.  He did make one mistake, though.  He attempted to get rid of some of the evidence by throwing it into a lake. However the lake was frozen and what he threw remained on top of the ice (apparently the ice was too thin to support his weight, so he was unable to retrieve the incriminating evidence).  Investigators later recovered the evidence and charged McKinney with two counts of murder (the word, “duh” comes to mind!). 

Now as I thought about this, a lot of life lessons come to mind.  But probably the most needful for me (and I think for you, too) comes out of the Old Testament book of Numbers where we read, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  You see, friend, you and I can do all we want to try to “cover up our sin.”  But the God who sees all – He will know.  So when you do sin, come clean with God.  Confess your sin to Him and receive from Him cleansing and forgiveness.  It is the far better route to go! (See 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32:1-2)

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, September 30, 2016

It's Friday ... so it's time to pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join me for a couple of thoughts. 

1. In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day, and some places were giving away free coffee! Why celebrate coffee? Why not? Is there a better beverage out there? Coffee hot or cold can't be beat. And not only does it taste great ... but it is chock full of great health benefits. So if you missed the fact that yesterday was National Coffee Day you may have missed a free cup. But given the upside of coffee drinking, coffee is worth every dollar you have to spend on it! Oh ... and by the way, today is National Chewing Gum Day. Since people have been chewing gum for several thousand years ... why not celebrate with a chew of your favorite brand? 

2. Long time Los Angeles Dodger baseball fans will no longer enjoy the voice of Vin Scully when they tune in to listen to Dodger games next season. After SIXTY-SEVEN years, Scully, known as "the Voice of the Dodgers," broadcast his last game this week. Scully is one of the most beloved baseball voices of all time. Even non Dodger fans loved listening to him (I know I did!). Among the many tributes that poured in this week was this one: "He makes Los Angeles a better place to live."  That tribute got me thinking. Is Lancaster a better place to live because of me? Is Grace Church a better church in which to worship and fellowship and serve because of me? Is my family a stronger, healthier family because of me? And what about YOU? Are those around you better because of you? For all of us who claim allegiance to Christ, let's be more intentional about being the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)! 

3. I recently read an article titled, Are We Seeing the Death of Congregational Singing in "Contemporary" Worship? One of the statements made by the author referenced the volume of the worship band in many churches. He wrote, "Often the congregation can't hear itself sing because of the sound level of the 'professional' singers and instrumentalists. So people don't sing." Now that may be true of other churches, it is not true of the church I am privileged to pastor. On one recent Sunday, during our "contemporary" service (which is led by a worship "band"), I stopped singing. Not because I could not hear myself sing, but because I wanted to hear our congregation sing. In fact, on the last verse of the song, the band stopped playing ... and oh, how beautiful was the music being made by a chorus of human voices! Here at Grace Church, our philosophy of music includes this dictum: If the congregation cannot be heard singing ... then the worship band is too loud. Maybe that won't work for other churches, but it sure works for us! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew of coffee and join me for a couple of random, but I hope fruitful, thoughts.

1. Today is the first official Friday of the fall season (autumn officially arrived yesterday at 10:21am). This is somewhat ironic given the fact that the high temperatures for yesterday and today are from the mid to upper 80s. Just shows that the thermometer doesn't always agree with the season. But the forecast for next week is much more fall-like. You see, the seasons come, and the seasons go. And they always come in their proper sequence. So we know that the summer type temperatures won't continue forever… For autumn has now arrived. And the temperatures will progressively trend downward  as we approach the next season of winter. Life is a lot like this. We go through seasons of life. As I look back at my own life I think fondly of the season of childhood. My earliest memories go back to when I was three years of age. Childhood passed and I entered the season of adolescence and then young adulthood.  This was followed by middle-age… And just this year I hit the season of life known as the sixties! I have eight grandchildren! Before I know it, should God grant me more years,  I'll be rocking away (and not to music!), wondering where life went!  But that's OK. I know that this life is merely a preface to the life to come. And with my faith firmly fixed on Jesus Christ, my savior and Lord … I know with the utmost confidence that I will one day cross the great divide from this life into the next. When that happens I will find myself in that glorious place called heaven. How about you?  Do you have this confidence? Or do you have questions about your eternal destination? Courage you to take a few moments and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. You will be glad you did!

2. This week I did a couple of really really stupid things! On  Monday, my wife and I stopped at Walmart. We needed to run in and pick up some miniature pumpkins and some google eyes for a project she was planning for our "little kids." When I got out the car I noticed that it made some sort of strange noise when I went to lock the door. I paused for a moment, and then turned toward the store. About 20 minutes later, shopping mission now accomplished, as I went to unlock the car, I found the door already unlocked. "That's odd!" I said to myself. So I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. When I went to start the car I discovered it was already running! That's right! I left the car running with doors unlocked the entire time we were in Walmart. Now a little background on this. We bought this car in late June. It has a push button ignition.  I'm not trying to make an excuse for my stupid move… But I guess I am still getting used to this new technology. That was stupid move number one. Stupid move number two occurred the very next day. I was walking back from a lunch our staff  enjoyed together in the café of the nearby supermarket. There were three of us walking abreast along the sidewalk. I was walking near the curb.  As I turned my head from the side to look straight ahead, I did so a split-second before I walked right into a metal rod that was holding a banner on the lamp post. You talk about seeing stars.  I saw a few! But after a couple of minutes I started feeling better and no significant damage was done (to me or the banner, my pride, however, took a huge hit!).  All of us from time to time pull stupid stunts like this. As I look back on these "duh moves," I am glad and thankful that no one hopped into our car and took off with it! I'm also grateful that I didn't knock myself out walking in to that metal rod! But when we do stupid things,  I find it a comfort to know that our God… Who is wise beyond measure . . . has his eye upon us (Matthew 10:29-31) and and his hand firmly gripping our lives (John 10:28-29)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .
pj




Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

 It's Friday so pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me for a few random thoughts…

1.  Monday evening of this past week, my son, Tim, invited me over to his house to watch our favorite NFL team play (which is the Pittsburgh Steelers of course!).  Since our granddaughter, Ella, was attending art club at our church facility (which is only a couple of minutes from our home), I offered to pick her up and bring her with me to save my son a trip. When we arrived in the house my son informed Ella  that she needed to do some reading. The conversation went something like this:

T -  OK Ella, before you do anything else you need to do some reading.
E -  How long do I need to read? Ten minutes?
T - No, you need to read longer than that.
E - So  how long?
T - Well why don't we negotiate? How about 40 minutes?
E - Well (with a sigh) ... OK

With that Ella proceeded up the stairs to retrieve her book. After she went upstairs, I looked at my son and said, "I guess she needs to learn what the word negotiate means!" Negotiate. I wonder how often we do this with God. We try to negotiate with him when it comes to the demands he makes upon us. Yet when it comes down to it… Who are we to to negotiate with God?  I think we often forget that he is God and we are not. If you need reminded of this take some time and read the  Old Testament book of Job.  Job tried to negotiate with God. And when God finally showed up, any thoughts of negotiations were over! God reminded Job of this truth: "I am God and you are not."  If we pause to remind ourselves of this truth AND the truth that God's commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and are for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13), this should dampen any desire we have to negotiate with God. And that, my friends, is a good thing!

2. Here's a quick update on my health. Yesterday I went back for another post op follow-up appointment with my surgeon (surgery was four weeks ago). When I went two weeks ago for my first post op, the surgeon was concerned with a  hematoma which had formed.  I am very thankful to say that the hematoma has almost totally dissipated on its own (otherwise a surgical procedure would've been required to remove it).  I'm also grateful that the x-rays taken yesterday showed everything was looking good. I will continue with physical therapy twice a week. I will continue to wear the brace. And I will continue with the weight restriction of 4 to 5 pounds (lifting  with my left arm). Thanks for all of your ongoing prayers! Very much appreciated! To God be the glory!!!

Thanks for stopping by…
PJ

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday coffee with PJ

It's Friday!  Hard to believe that another work week is almost in the books!  Go ahead and pour yourself a couple of your favorite java  and join me for a couple of random thoughts.

1.  On Wednesday of this week I finally got my removable splint made for my arm and wrist. It was a rather fascinating process watching the therapist make the splint for me. But I must  admit I would've rather had the experience watching it made on YouTube! What really struck me most when she took off the cast that had been on my arm was just how much my arm had atrophied in the past three weeks. It is a shadow of its former self. She pointed out that once everything is healed with my wrist and arm I will have to work hard at strengthening the arm back to its pre-surgery state.  Now I was not surprised that my arm had atrophied.  That's what happens to muscles when they are not used. What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. When we fail to exercise certain spiritual practices… We experience spiritual atrophy. So for example if you're not praying like you should,  when you do pray your prayers will tend to be weak and shallow.  The same is true for our interaction with God's word. If you're not exercising that spiritual practice you will experience atrophy. So the key to saying strong  in the so-called spiritual disciplines that will lead us to grow in our faith is to exercise them. So how are you doing? People spent a lot of time and a lot of money keeping their bodies in shape.  What are you doing to keep  your soul in shape?

2.  This summer is one that is insisting on sticking around.  We are currently standing at 38 days of 90° or above this summer (in a normal summer we would have 22 such days).  And with the forecast containing at least two more days with forecast highs of 90° we should have no problem hitting the
40 mark (which would tie for 7th place on the "Most 90 degree days" list)! This is been one hot long summer!  But it is September. That means with one turn at the calendar, it will be October. Summer will soon begin  to fade in the rear view mirror of life. That's the way life happens. Summers come  and summers go. And the older we get the faster that all occurs! The other day as I looked in the mirror it struck me that a 60-year-old man was staring back at me. Really? I'm now in my 60s? How did that happen? When did it happen? Well sooner or later it happens to all of us. As the Scripture reminds us we are like grass that flourishes in the morning but fades and withers by evening (Psalm 90:5-6).  Given this reality we all need to be praying Psalm 90:12. "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  And we need to be living out the Apostle's Paul's counsel in Ephesians 5:15-15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are passing quickly." So let's determine to make the most of our time ... living each day for Christ and Christ alone!

Thanks for stopping by,
PJ

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Coffee with PJ

Well, it's Friday again. So I invite you to pour a cup of your favorite coffee brew and join me for a few random thoughts. And since I am still in recovery mode and typing comes with some difficulty, I will begin with a quick update on my health followed with a post I wrote a while back.

1. On Wednesday I returned to see my surgeon for my postop  appointment (15 days following my surgery). For the most part he was pleased, although he is concerned about a hematoma which has formed. He is hoping it will dissipate on it's own. If it does not then he will have to care for it in the OR. Normally I would be seeing him in four weeks, but due to this I will be seeing him in two. I did get my cast off and the sutures out. I have a temporary splint on. Next Wednesday I see the hand therapist who will fit me for a splint I can put on and take off myself. Yea! Thanks for your own ongoing prayers!

2.                                You Can Run but You Can’t Hide!

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) might be the most watched show on television – but it is losing popularity among law enforcement personnel.  It seems that criminals are “wising up” on how to go about covering up their tracks after a crime.  And it appears that they are learning how to do so by watching the popular TV series.  Take for example the case of  Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney. This guy allegedly broke into a home and murdered two women.  He then carefully cleaned up the crime scene (using bleach which destroys DNA evidence) and disposed of the bodies and his bloody clothing.  He did make one mistake, though.  He attempted to get rid of some of the evidence by throwing it into a lake. However the lake was frozen and what he threw remained on top of the ice (apparently the ice was too thin to support his weight, so he was unable to retrieve the incriminating evidence).  Investigators later recovered the evidence and charged McKinney with two counts of murder (the word, “duh” comes to mind!). 

Now as I thought about this, a lot of life lessons come to mind.  But probably the most needful for me (and I think for you, too) comes out of the Old Testament book of Numbers where we read, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  You see, friend, you and I can do all we want to try to “cover up our sin.”  But the God who sees all – He will know.  So when you do sin, come clean with God.  Confess your sin to Him and receive from Him cleansing and forgiveness.  It is the far better route to go! (See 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32:1-2)

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.