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Friday Coffee with PJ

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As I write this blog post, I am on my fourth (and final) cup of coffee (and it's only 8:19 am!). Time to quit. As you have heard, every good thing must come to an end ... and so for my coffee drinking ... for today that is! Thanks for joining me for today's edition of Friday Coffee with PJ! 


1. Unless you have been totally "zoned out" of what's been going on in the world, you know that the Boy Scouts have been in the news of late (with their decision to allow girls into their ranks ... something, by the way, the Girl Scouts organization is not too happy about). As a former cub scout and boy scout I am saddened by this news. Not because I don't think much of girls or I don't think girls should have the same opportunities as boys, but because this is simply one more step further into the gender confusion of our day. God makes it clear in the opening chapter of the Bible that when he designed and created humanity in his image, he created us "male and fem…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Thanks for joining me once again. My apologies for being a bit late with the post as I am at Grace College & Semonary board meetings in Winona Lake, Indiana).

Twenty-eight years ago last month (September 1, 1989 to be exact) I began my pastoral ministry here at Grace. Much has changed since then. My kids have grown older (all married and all have blessed us with grandkids ... eight to be exact). I have grown balder (bald is beautiful, right?!). Sharon, my wife has grown lovelier. And Grace Church has grown, too. Grace is larger (in numbers, facilities, and ministries) and, I trust, more Christ-like (although we are nowhere close to being where we need to be!).

Am I glad that God in His providence led me here twenty-eight years ago? Absolutely! As I have said before, at this present time in my life, there is no other place I would rather be serving my God than right where I am. I work alongside a great staff and a godly group of elders. And I love the people of Grace. They are fam…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friday morning is here again!  And today happens to be National Coffee Day! So pour yourself a cup of the wonderful juice from the good old coffee bean and enjoy (and have better health to boot)!  You might also want to check out this link to National Coffee Day for some special savings from your favorite place to pick up a cup of Joe!

1. Today is the final day of the Lampeter Fair. For the past 25 years or so, our church has hosted a "baby comfort station." Just what is that? It's a clean, comfortable place for moms and dads to change their babies. Finding such a place to do so can prove challenging, especially given the changing weather conditions at the fair (from wet and muddy to dry and dusty). We also provide a private place for nursing mothers to feed their little ones. Across the years, many parents have expressed their thanks for our comfort station (especially those who realize they left their diaper bag at home!). Why do we do this? Because we are a group of pe…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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It's Friday morning (again? really?). And it's the FOURTH Friday morning of September! Ouch! Where is September going? Just another reminder that our life is brief and passes quickly. So ... over our cup of coffee, let's agree NOT TO WASTE IT! 

1. Speaking of the passing of time, this afternoon at 4:02 the fall season officially begins. Today's forecast is calling for a high temperature in the mid-eighties ... hardly a fall forecast. Now we all realize this summer-like weather won't last forever. Soon the crisp temperatures of a more typical fall day will be upon us (which will be "shortly" followed by weather forecasts with the dreaded "S" word being bandied about ... but enough of that for now!). As for me, as long as this late summer weather lasts, I am going to enjoy it! 

Just as climatic seasons come and go .... the true is same of the seasons of life. Some of you might be in one of your earlier seasons of life ... seasons marked by preparati…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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A good Friday morning to one and all! For most of you, Friday morning brings the knowledge that in just a few short hours you will be done working (at least on the job) until next Monday! But alas, for me ... it means my most tiring day of work is just around the corner! Yep. It's Friday, but Sunday's coming! Please pour yourself a cup of coffee (and for the health benefits of java, click the link in last Friday's post), and join me for a few random thoughts. 

1. I am sure you have seen video and photos of the devastation left behind by the 100+mph winds of Hurricane Irma. Trees toppled. Huge RV's flipped over. Construction cranes mangled. Homes totally blown off their foundations. It is heartbreaking. Authorities estimate a quarter of the houses are gone in the hard hit Florida Keys. Ouch! Now ... why did some houses survive the storm's fury while others did not? I am sure there are probably a number of reasons for this ... one of which would be the quality of cons…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Good morning! Can you believe September is already 24% done??!!!  The rapid passing of the time should remind us that this life will soon be over. So, are you ready for the next chapter of human life? If you have any questions, please check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. And as you read on, feel free to pour yourself a cup (or more!) of coffee. Your health could depend upon it!

1. I am now in my second week back from being gone on a nine week sabbatical. I am glad to be "back in the saddle again" - I was greeted by that song blaring through the church sound system as I opened up our second service this past Sunday! :)  I love my job. I love my church family. I love the staff and elders who I am privileged to work alongside of! And I love all of YOU who take time to read my meanderings! Thanks!

2. With the hurricane season ramping up, we are reminded of just how vulnerable we are as human beings. It has been many years since the Caribbean and the United States ha…

Friday Coffee with PJ (Special Thursday Morning Edition)

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On Tuesday of this week I returned to the office after enjoying a nine week sabbatical. When I arrived home after work that day my wife asked me how it felt being back. I told her it felt like I had never been gone! When she asked me to elaborate I simply told her that being back in my office, working alongside the great staff at Grace Church, it just had the feel of "being home!" So all that to say, I am very glad to be "back in the saddle again!" 

Since my return I have been asked by many, "How was your sabbatical?"  As many of you might be wondering the same, here's my response. 

1. Rest. I got a boatload of rest. Mental. Physical. Emotional. Lots of time to just kick back and enjoy the moment. It was quite different going to bed at night and not having to set the alarm for an early morning meeting! Different and delightful! And it sure was fun getting back to doing some fishing (something I have enjoyed since childhood). 

2. Renew. I made an intentio…

Friday Coffee with PJ (Special Monday Edition)

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Just a quick note to let you all know that I am on sabbatical leave until the end of August. Will be back (God willing - James 4:13-15) on Friday, September 1st with my next edition of Friday Coffee with PJ. Have a blessed summer as you walk with the King!

But as I go .... knowing how quickly this sabbatical will fly by, I leave you with these thoughts on life.


Living NOW in light of THEN!


Several years ago, when my son was working as an intern with theLancaster New Era(now LNP), one of his first interviews was with a woman who was about to celebrate her 100th birthday. A couple of years ago, our church said “good-bye” not to just one centenarian, but two! Wow! One hundred years of living!  As I reflected on these women (yes, they were all women) and their long lives, I thought of my own age. At age 61, I have less than 39 years to join the centenarian club (Hmmm. Not sure I want to join that club!).
Regardless as to whether I live another 39 years or another 39 months – what is most impo…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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It's Friday morning again! Yes! So pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy a few random thoughts that I hope will help you in your walk of faith with Christ! 

1. At the end of May, I finished up a one year reading plan I was using on YouVersion Bible app. Last June I had selected their Project 345 plan. It is designed to take you through the New Testament in a year's time by reading one chapter of the NT each weekday (weekends are used for catch up). It's name is derived from the time it takes for the average reader to read one chapter of the NT. I found the plan to be very manageable and found much profit. Many days I took more than 3:45 just to reflect and pray about what I had just read. If you are looking for a Bible reading plan (and a way to keep on the plan) I highly recommend using the YouVersion app (available on both IOS and Android) and the 3:45 plan! 

As the first of June was fast approaching, it hit me that I needed another plan. Hmm. I hadn't read Proverbs …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Don't know about you ... but no matter the temp outside, I still enjoy my morning coffee. Even on Tuesday when the high temperature for the day reached a balmy 95 degrees (almost 20 degrees higher than today's forecast high) I started my day with a cup of Joe! Now I will admit that on hot, hazy, humid days, if I opt for coffee in the afternoon, you can count on it being iced coffee (which I quite enjoy ... almost as much as I enjoy a frosty cup of iced tea)! But enough of my rambling. Here are a couple of thoughts which I hope will encourage you in your faith walk with Jesus! 

 Some of you might know (from my Facebook post) that on Monday of this week, my wife and I took our 5 year old granddaughter to Lake Tobias (as a celebration of her fifth birthday). She wanted her older sister (who is 8) to come along. So the four of us piled in the van around 8:30 in the morning, hoping to arrive when the park opened (we wanted to beat the heat). Well, we did well in timing our arrival, …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Thanks for joining me today! Pour yourself a cup of your favorite JOE as I share a couple of brief thoughts (as Sunday is coming ... and since it is "the only day of the week which I work" :) .... I must get moving on my message for Sunday morning!) 

1. I apologize for being a bit late this morning. I was out of the office yesterday and did not write this post (as Thursday is usually the day I do so). One task I did get done yesterday was to pick up my lawn mower which was at the shop for repairs. A couple of weeks ago, I ran over something in the ground as I was mowing. This chipped my blade and also bent the blade. Now with a brand new blade, I am ready to once again tackle the ever growing grass that makes up my lawn. Now ... I did try to cut the grass with my damaged-blade lawn mower ... but it just was not cutting right. I made some adjustments in hopes that it would start cutting the way it was designed to cut - but to no avail!   I needed another blade. So it is with o…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Another Friday. Another edition of "Friday Coffee with PJ." Thanks so much for joining me again ... I hope I have something to say that is a worthwhile investment of your precious time!  

Last Friday afternoon we received a phone call in the church office that set in motion a very hectic series of events. The caller who worked for a bank (not ours) told our office manager that she suspected there was fraudulent activity happening with checks being drawn on our church's checking account. As soon as that phone conversation ended, we called our bank and ... to make a long story short ... the caller was right! Someone (or someones) from outside of our church had printed up fake checks with all of our info on them and proceeded to deposit them in their accounts (about a dozen checks were involved totally over $30,000). Gulp! Immediately, our bank froze our account which stopped the bleeding! And fortunately, we will not be out those funds ... in fact, as of yesterday, the majo…
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As I crawled out of the fog of sleep this morning, it hit me . . . I had forgotten to write this post yesterday as I usually do. So here it is Friday morning, coffee in hand as I quickly type out something on my computer that I hope you might find worth reading. So please, pour yourself a cup of coffee and join be for a brief thought or two. 
1. Time for the backstory as to why I forgot to attend to my blog post yesterday. For the second Thursday in a row I was called upon to officiate a memorial service. Now, funny thing about funerals (well, nothing is funny about funerals - poor choice of words - which, by the way, would be a great topic for another post - how our choice of words really does matter!). So, when it comes to funerals, I have never had a funeral director call me and say, "Rev. Smith, Joe Parishioner just passed away. The family is here and they are wondering what your schedule looks like? Is there a day and time in the upcoming week that you have open to officiate …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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It's yet again Friday morning. So I invite you to join me over a cupof your favorite java for a few random thoughts. Thoughts which, I hope, will bring some enlightenment to your mind and strength to your faith! 
1. We can learn a lot about history (and the people of history) through letters written in their particular time. So what were Christians like in the 2nd century? Here is an excerpt from a letter written by an unknown letter writer ... sent to an individual named Diognetus. In the letter, the writer describes how these early Christians lived out their faith in their culture: 
"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language, or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. . . . With regard to dress, food, and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is someth…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friday already? Ouch! How can it be? This week seems a lot shorter than usual! Oh ... that's right ... I was away in Cleveland for the first three days of this week attending the 2017 Basics Conference for pastors. So ... given the fact that I am trying to jam a full week of work into two days ... I will be very brief today. So pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me for a couple of random thoughts. 

I just LOVE the reality that so many of the PA Turnpike rest stops have a Starbucks! Yes! I enjoyed two cups on the way to the Basics Conference and one cup on the way back. Now I realize that many people (I am guessing the majority) don't simply order a straight up cup of coffee at Starbucks. But that is the ONLY thing I order. I like coffee undefiled (OK ... I admit I put a "dash" of creamer or milk in ... but that's it!). Now do I look down my coffee mug at those who prefer to have their Starbucks coffee in some other way? Of course I don't (unles…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Friday morning again! So pour yourself a cup of your favorite Joe as I share with you a few random thoughts that I hope will get you thinking about your faith in Christ. 

1. Prayer. It is something all of us do. It is something all of us would like to do better! The Bible tells us we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But have you wondered how in the world we are supposed to do so? Much of our days are spent on the job or in the classroom. Not to mention the hours we spend sleeping (which for so many of us is probably NOT enough). So what does God expect of us?  Donald Whitney who as written so many excellent books on the spiritual disciplines (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Simply Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed, and Praying the Bible) answers this question for us! Check out what he has to say here!


2. This week I finished teaching a course on Apocalyptic Literature in the Accelerated Undergraduate Degree progra…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Wow! What happened last Friday? I guess I got blitzed by Easter week ... then smothered by another busier than usual post-Easter week. This perfect combination caused me to not even realize I had missed writing this post until Saturday morning! But, don't worry - I did manage to get my cup(s) of coffee in! So my apologies and thanks for showing up today! So pour yourself a cup of coffee and read on my friends! 

1. This year we bit the proverbial bullet and hired a landscaping service to do our mulching for us. With Sharon still struggling with a lot of pain in her leg and knee and with my busy schedule we thought that was the best route to go. And wow! The day I came home to fully edged and mulched flower beds, I plopped into my lazy-boy and let loose a ssssiiiigggghhhh of relief. Oh did that feel good (now I haven't received the bill yet - when I do, that feeling might not be so positive!). There are many things in life we can pay others to do for us. Sometimes we do so becaus…

Friday Coffee with PJ

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Pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me for a few thoughts that I hope will encourage you to grab a hold of the day and live it for Christ!

1. Today being Good Friday, I want to begin by expressing my desire for you to experience in a special way God's love for you in Christ His Son. The Apostle Paul reminds us that God demonstrated his love for us in that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). I hope as you spend time today reflecting on the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf, that you will be powerfully reminded of just how much he loves you! And if you are in the Lancaster area, please join us from 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm for our Good Friday Evening Service, during which we will focus on the Seven Sayings of the Cross. 

2. Two Fridays ago I confessed to a speeding ticket which I received (and justly so) on my drive back from Virginia. Last Friday I mentioned that I had received 5 letters from different attorneys offering to represent me …

Friday Coffee with PJ

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So glad to have you join me for another edition of Friday Coffee with PJ. I hope you enjoy both your coffee and few random thoughts I have to share with you that I trust will strengthen your faith and warm your heart! 

1. Last week I owned up to being stopped by a county sheriff on our way back home from Williamsburg, VA. Why was I stopped? I was exceeding the speed limit! And if you read my post of last Friday, you will know that I have already paid the fine. This week I received several letters (five and counting!) from lawyers who practice in that area of Virginia. They all offer to represent me in court in an attempt to have the fine reduced or dismissed - all at the bargain price of $350 (a couple have come in at a lower price in an attempt to gain my business)! Of course, I am not going to be contacting any of them. For starters, their fee is much more than the cost of the fine. But more importantly, I am guilty as charged. So why fight it? The honest thing is to pay the fine and…