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 . . . 
pj

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