Friday Coffee with PJ

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 because we lack the know how required for the task (the one and only time I changed the oil filter in my car required the services of a tow truck - but that is a tale for another day!). Other times we make the choice to hire someone to do what we can do (as we did this year with our spring yard work). We had the know how to do our own mulching. We have done so many times in the past. But this year we knew that we needed to spend our time and energy on other things ... therefore the landscape outfit. But there are many things in life that we cannot pay others to do for us. We must do them ourselves (pay our mortgages, eat healthy, obtain a flu vaccine, show up at work, etc.). But there is ONE thing that we can NEITHER pay someone to do for us NOR do ourselves: gain the favor of God that will grant us entrance into heaven once we leave this life behind. All of us have sinned against God. He placed us on this earth to live for his glory - not ours. But we have chosen to do our own thing, in our own way, for our own pleasure. This is the very essence of sIn (note the middle letter). Because we have chosen this path, we all (Romans 3:23) must face his judgment for our sin (Hebrews 9:27). But God in his grace sent the ONLY one who could pay our wage (Romans 6:23) for sin - his one and only Son. Two weeks ago we focused on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because he died and now lives --- we too can live (John 11:25-26). But to receive his gift of eternal life, we must repent (turn from) our sin and rebellion against him and believe in the cross work of Jesus Christ! If you want to explore this more, please take a moment and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face

2. Recently I had to respond to a person on a delicate matter. As I thought about how I would respond, I asked God to give me wisdom. As I prayed, a familiar verse began to bounce around inside my head. Ahhhh ... yes, that must be my guide! Here's the verse: 

" Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). 

This is a verse FULL of wisdom. The words we speak must be for the benefit of the one who hears them (vs. being for our benefit).
This really helped me to respond in a beneficial ... and I hope ... a gracious way! Oh if we could take this wisdom and apply it all the time! For the piece of flesh that wags between our jaws is more destructive than any wildfire (James 3:5-8). May God help us all put our minds in gear before opening our mouths. And as we think about what we are about to say - let's ask God for the words that will give grace to those who hear! 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 in court should I desire to contest the charges (which I don't as I have already paid the fine). Since last week's post, I have received three additional attorney letters. Now, I am planning to make this mention of my criminal activity my last (actually planned for last week's post to be my last, but I wanted to point out something contained in the most recent letter I received). The second paragraph of this letter begins with the following:

We understand that this is a serious matter for you. If you don't hire an attorney you may be convicted of the charge! Your auto insurance could triple! You may have a high fine! You may accumulate too many points and your licence could be suspended! All of these things can possibly impact you and your family.

When I read this to my wife she insightfully responded, "Boy, are they ever playing on people's fears!"  Yup! Exactly! Now for the record, I plead guilty already. My auto insurance will not triple (as this is my first moving violation ever ... at least of which I have been convicted!). The fine, although it took a bite out of my wallet, the bleeding wasn't too severe. And as for points? The commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not add points to a the holder of a PA licence if the speeding violation occurred in another state. 

But this attorney knows what motivates people ... FEAR! As a follower of Christ, I am called to live NOT in fear but to walk by FAITH (John 14:1). In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus states very clearly, "Do not be anxious about your life . . ." He then goes on to explain WHY we should not worry. If you have not read Matthew 6:25-34 recently, do yourself (and your friends and family) a favor and take a moment to read it right now! God doesn't want us to be consumed by fear. He invites us to lean on him! No one has broader shoulders than He does ... not even close! 

3. This past Saturday turned out a bit busier than usual for me. Most Saturday mornings find me in my office wrapping up my preparation for Sunday morning. However, last Saturday not only did I have to get ready for Sunday (and I was behind due to some other responsibilities that hit during the week), but I had to finish preparations for a funeral that afternoon and then conduct both the memorial service and the grave side committal service (the service was for a godly woman who was part of the group of people who started our church back in 1976 - it was an honor for me to officiate)! In addition to this, my granddaughter Molly's 5 year old birthday party was scheduled at the Hands on House from 3pm-5pm. Knowing I would be late for her party, I explained to Molly earlier in the week that "Papa would be late because he had to help comfort a family whose Grammy went home to live in heaven." Well, as I pulled out of the cemetery, I calculated in my mind the quickest route to the Hands on House. I drove as quickly as I could (abiding the speed limits, of course!), finally arriving at 4:45. By the time I walked into the party room, the pile of gifts were unwrapped, the candles had been extinguished, and the kids were licking their lips of the remnants of vanilla icing. As I drove home, I asked myself ... "Was it worth all the hassle to drive to the party, only to be
The dawning of my love for Molly!
there for 15 minutes or so?" I got my answer later that evening. My son, Tim, (Molly's dad) sent me a text. It read, "
Molly's favorite part of the party was opening gifts, she said. I asked her what her second favorite part was; she said, "when Papa came!"  Now that made my day! Listen my friends, don't ever underestimate the value of your presence in the life of someone you love! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 move on (with a bit less pressure on the accelerator!). 

All of us stand before God, "guilty as charged." The Apostle Paul writes the following in his letter to the church in Rome: 

 "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

Paul makes it clear that we are ALL guilty before God (Romans 3:23) and NONE of us can ever hope to be declared righteous due to our own efforts. So are we without hope? Absolutely not! We have an advocate who already paid the penalty (fine) for our sin and rebellion against God! And just who is our advocate (lawyer)? 

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2)

So my friends ... the fine, the penalty for your sin (Romans 6:23) has already been paid in full by Jesus Christ. Have you reached out with the empty hands of faith to receive the free gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of your sin that ONLY Jesus Christ can offer (John 14:6)? I hope you have. It is the most important choice you could ever make in this life! 

2. For the past two months plus, we have been conducting both our worship services in our Family Life Center. The reason? Our sanctuary has been undergoing a heavy duty makeover! New chairs, new pews, new paint, new carpets, new sound, new lighting, new preacher .... well, all but the last (for which I am very thankful!). This coming Sunday we are scheduled to move both of
our services to the sanctuary (there are just a few more things to be done - so it looks like we will make it). This will be just one week later than expected ... and as far as I know, pretty much in line with our projected costs. Yea! Just in time for Easter week! 

Sometimes things go as planned. A lot of times they don't. And it's when things go awry that our true character bubbles to the surface. So the next time you face adversity, whether big or small, listen to what comes out of your mouth. Because Jesus said that what comes out of our mouth originates in the heart (Matthew 12:34). Just this week God has convicted me of a critical spirit. He did so by helping me to listen to myself. As I did,  I heard a lot of criticism coming out of my mouth. So I went to God to confess and repent. I asked him to give me a heart that speaks encouragement to others (Ephesians 4:29). How about YOU? What's been coming out of your mouth lately? Especially when things go wrong. 

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...