Friday Coffee with PJ - Special Thanksgiving Day Edition

Here it is ... Thanksgiving Day! So I thought I would post my blog early this week to catch the holiday. So ... pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee (and just so you know, I am so THANKFUL FOR COFFEE!) and join me for a few thoughts.  

1. Tomorrow is "Black Friday." Many of you will be numbered among the millions flying from store to store looking for the deals that will lighten your Christmas gift-giving budget! Not me. In all the years I have been on this planet ... there was only one year that I went shopping on a Black Friday. That year I was in need of a sports coat. A store at Park City Center advertised a really nice sports coat as a "door buster." The price was one I could not pass up. So at 6 am I walked into the already packed mall. I walked briskly to the men's department of the store ... found my size ... paid for the coat and got out of there as quickly as I could! That has been it. I now prefer to look for the deals online. Doing so is a lot less hectic (not to mention I can sit and sip my coffee while shopping!). So whether you head out the door later tonight or tomorrow ... remember not to spend over your budget - no matter how great the deals might be! 

2. I read the following article a grandson wrote about his atheistic father. You need to read this. My eyes perspired a bit as I read it. It's titled, Evangelism, the Holidays, and My Atheistic Father. The moral of this story is, "Never give up on the power of the gospel to save!" - Romans 1:16.

3. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the busiest travel period of the entire year. Millions of cars will choke the nation's highways, while millions of others will be taking advantage of lower air fares (as compared to last year's Thanksgiving holiday) to travel to numerous destinations. According to AAA the top destinations this Thanksgiving include the following: 

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. San Diego, California
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. New York City, New York
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana
  7. Anaheim, California
  8. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. Seattle, Washington
Note that several of these are top cities for tourism. This indicates to me that many are using their extra time off to head off on vacation. But AAA missed out on the number one destination of Thanksgiving travelers. I think it's obvious that the #1 destination of those on the move is HOME! Thanksgiving is the holiday when families come together ... perhaps even more so than Christmas. This is what makes Thanksgiving such a special holiday (and yes, the Thanksgiving feast with the Turkey and all the trimmings doesn't hurt either!). If you have a close family ... you know how special it is to gathering together for Thanksgiving dinner! 

For those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, the Bible speaks of a feast in heaven that awaits us. It is called "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (you can read about it in Revelation 19:6-8). Heaven is our home. And one day ... we will sit down with God's people from all the ages to enjoy the greatest feast of all! Will you be there? If you have questions or just are not sure, I invite you to check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

4. Even in the midst of trials, one can be thankful. Sharon and I wrote a blog for our church web site on this topic. The title is Giving Thanks in the Tough Seasons of Life. I encourage you to check it out, especially if life has been on the rought side of late. 

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... so thanks for joining me for Friday Coffee with PJ! Pour yourself a cup of your favorite coffee (just a reminder, mine is San Francisco Bay Fog Chaser ... and it does indeed chase away that early morning fog that so many of us have when we awaken (and looking at its "Best Seller" status on Amazon, I am guessing a lot of other people have discovered that there's no better way to start your day than with Folgers SF Bay Fog Chaser in your cup!).

1. With Thanksgiving Day now less than a week away, I am sure the big Thanksgiving dinner is on your mind. Hmm, I wonder if there is a recipe for "coffee stuffing?" I think I will check ... so hold on .. I will be right back. I promise I will be so quick you won't even miss me! OK .. I am back. Quick, wasn't I! I struck out looking for a stuffing recipe that included coffee. But I did find a recipe that included coffee in the glaze for the turkey. Check it out here!   Now, if you have not yet purchased your turkey for the big meal, you are probably thinking about doing so soon.  So please beware of buying one too big to handle. Take a look at this poor woman's situation!

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did! 

2. Question: when does a parent stop being a parent? Answer: as long as one has children (no matter their age). Once a parent always a parent! Now, what that parenting happens to look like changes across the years, as it should. As my wife and I have moved into the grandparenting phase of life, our parenting has morphed into the giving of occasional advice to our adult children (and that usually when asked!) and giving ongoing encouragement, AND helping care for the grandchildren (which we LOVE to do ... within limits, of course as we are not getting any younger!). But for those of you who are still very much actively parenting children who still live under your roof, Tim Challies (my favorite Christian blogger) has some advise as he discusses 3 Parenting Myths We Are All Tempted to Believe. I only wish someone had warned me about these when I started on my parenting journey! 

3. This month, our church is on a spiritual journey: 30 Days of Praise and Thanksgiving. For the "praise" aspect of our journey, we are using an excellent tool offered by the Navigators, 30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God. Sixteen days in, and I have benefited greatly by being reminded of God and all that he is! He is indeed worthy of all the praise we can offer him! As for the "thanksgiving" aspect of our journey, we have encouraged people to use a gratitude journal (or simply a list) to record at least five blessings each day for which he or she is thankful. I now have around 100 on my list (which will continue to grow!). WHY this emphasis on praise and thanksgiving? All of us live in a very noisy world. We are bombarded by a lot of voices. Many of these voices are not pointing us toward God and His Son. So ... we need to counteract the messages we are hearing with God's truth. Reminding ourselves of WHO he is (and then praising him) and spending time thanking him for his many blessings is a powerful way to keep us "on track" with God while we continue our journey on this earth. It's not too late to join us. God is indeed GREAT and GOOD ... and that makes him a God who is worthy of our praise and gratitude! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Sorry I missed you last Friday. I was away at a Grace College and Seminary Board Retreat and did not have a chance to write a post before I left. So I made up for missing last week with a rather long post. Thanks for joining me today! And a BIG THANKS to all of you who are serving or have served our country in one of the branches of the military. We salute you today! 

1. As I mentioned above, last week I traveled to Rome .... Georgia that is! Our retreat was held at the WinShape Retreat Center, which is run by the WinShape Foundation, a creation of the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy. Just prior to our first session of our board retreat, the activities director (a Grace College alumnus) told the story of Berry College (the retreat center sits on the property of Berry). The college is named for Martha Berry. Martha had a vision to start a school for the academically able and economically poor children of the rural south. Her dream was fulfilled and continues to this day as Berry College (and through the ministry of the WinShape Foundation at the Retreat Center). As the activities director was telling Martha's story and the story of the Cathy family, I could not help but think of the Milton Hershey School, where my youngest daughter teaches. This school exists today because a man and his wife had a desire to help orphans. After making a fortune making and selling chocolate, Milton Hershey established a trust fund to pay for the ongoing work of his school (currently the school is educating  approximately 2000 residential students and construction of more group homes designed to house enough students to raise the student population to 2500 has begun). Over the years, thousands of financially needy students have been prepared for life. All this to say .... Two men ... Two incredibly successfully businessmen ... unbelievably wealthy ... and their legacy lives on through their generosity. We all can learn from them. "But wait a minute, John, I don't have that kind of money and never will!" I am sure you don't (just as I am sure that I don't). But friends, we don't need a lot of money to be generous. Yes, generosity can be done by giving away money ... but there are so many other ways to be generous (with your time, your gifts and abilities, your home, and yes, even with the "little" money you do have ---- I used quotations around the word "little" because by world standards, even the poorest of Americans have more than most people on the planet!). This morning, I ran across the following verse in my devotional reading. I encourage you to read it ... and then go and live it! 

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). 

2. During our Board Retreat, we began each morning with a devotional brought to us by a different board member. The individual who led on our last morning, finished his devotional reading with the following list of observations from a man who had been around the block and then some. The wisdom he gained through life experience was ... well, I will allow you to finish that thought. 

Observations from a long-time, retiring Christian school headmaster:

A. People never receive too much encouragement.
B. There is wisdom in many counselors.
C. In the big scheme, our lives and our influence are really very small. There is no room for pride.
D. Prayer is the most under appreciated and underused source of power.
E. God gives us people with immense needs to keep us from the temptation of self-indulgence.
F. Remember, each day you control very little, so depend on God.
G. God produces fruit, we plant seeds. Don’t confuse the two.
H. Have more grace in your life. 

3. Finally, I would be amiss if I did not say anything about the outcome of Tuesday's election. Many people this week are thrilled that Donald Trump won the election. Others are contacting their realtor to help them find a new house in Canada. I also know that if Hillary Clinton had won there would also be many dancing in the streets while others would be making appointments to see their therapist. Listen. This is not a first for this sort of thing. We live in a democracy. We have a political process that works (perhaps some of you question that given the choice we had on Tuesday and/or the result). But come January 20, 2017, we will witness the peaceful (I hope) transfer of power. This is what makes our country (among other things) unique among the countries of the world. With the election now in the rear view mirror, here are a few thoughts, that I hope, are worth something . . . 

1). There is no perfect candidate for political office. Yes, I would argue that some are better than others, but if you are looking for the perfect candidate ... you will have to look for the rest of your life. Consider some of our previous presidents ... John F. Kennedy was a known womanizer. Lyndon Johnson bullied people and used profanity like I use deodorant. Richard Nixon was ... well, does Watergate mean anything to you? Both presidential candidates this year brought their baggage to the race. Did one have more baggage than the other? That answer depends on who you talk to. 

2.) I have heard many voice their disgust that millions could cast their vote for such a man as Trump. But I have not heard anyone say the same about those who voted for candidates who support abortion. Of course there are many who see abortion as a woman's right (therefore their position is referred to as pro-choice). And then there are many who are pro-life. But what I find interesting in the whole abortion conversation is that when the unborn is wanted by the mother it is referred to as a baby. But when the mother does not want the unborn it is a "fetus." So is that what makes the unborn a person or a nonperson .... whether or not the mother wants the unborn child? I happen to be pro-life. I believe that human life begins at conception. You can call me old-fashioned or whatever else you choose. But I think it is downright shameful that America leads the world in the number of abortions performed each year (approximately a million). When we discuss protecting the most vulnerable in our society, I can think of none more vulnerable than the unborn. We need to do more as a nation to protect these most vulnerable from the abortionists who would end their lives. The screams of the unborn are silent. We must be their voice! 

3). Now that the votes have been tallied and Trump declared the victor, what should our response as Christians be? For starters we must pray for Trump and all of the candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who were elected to office on Tuesday (1 Timothy 2:1-3). We also need to stop griping and stop gloating. Instead, we must come together and try to solve problems through civil discourse (i.e. conversation that is marked by politeness and courtesy) as we discuss possible solutions - something the presidential candidates had problems doing. :( In addition, we need to give all our fears and anxieties to our sovereign God, who loved us enough to give his own son for us (John 3:16). This sovereign God has a plan and is working that plan. And yes, that plan includes those who "rule" in our world today (Daniel 2:21). Finally, we must keep the main thing the main thing. And just what is the main thing? The gospel of Jesus Christ! This is the good news that has value not only for this life ... but the life to come as well! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means COFFEE! (frankly, every morning means coffee for me)! So why not pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join m...