Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning. Cup of coffee. Open Bible. Talk with God. No better way to start a Friday (or any day) than this! Thanks for joining me for a few random thoughts that I hope will help you move forward in your faith walk with Jesus Christ! 

Today I got to thinking about some of the friends God has used in my life to help me along in my faith journey. One of these was a guy named Dave Bobbs. Dave was a classmate of mine in college. We hung out a lot together (especially my first three semesters - after that I hung out a lot with a girl named Sharon Pietrowski). Dave and I played tennis together. We studied together. We talked sports (and girls) together. I stayed in his home in Bristol, PA. He stayed in mine in Lewisberry, PA. Once I began dating Sharon, we did a number of double dates with Dave and his numerous female interests. After graduation, we went our separate ways. He headed off to the Midwest for Seminary, I remained in the Philadelphia area for my schooling. Upon finishing my seminary studies, a church family in the western hills of Pittsburgh called me to be their pastor. About a year later, Dave was called to a large church in the Cleveland, Ohio area to oversee their Christian Education ministries. Being so close (no more than a two hour drive) we were able to reconnect for a brief period of time. In his second year in Ohio, he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Eight months later he departed this earth for heaven. At age 32 he left behind a wife and two young sons. I spoke at his Cleveland memorial service. It was one of the toughest funerals I have ever had the privilege to officiate. Many would say "Dave died before his time." But the biblical response would be "Dave died right on God's time." 

Really? If we are to believe the Bible, then yes. In Psalm 139 we are told that God has planned out our days before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16). But how could God allow Dave to be taken by cancer at such an "early" age leaving a young, grieving family behind? I don't know the answer to that question. But God does. And from what I know of God, that is good enough for me. 

But here is one thing I do know ... Dave in his short life of 32 years had a bigger impact for the cause of Christ than many Christians who live two or three times as long. How so? Dave understood the call of the Apostle Paul contained in these words which he penned to the church of Rome: 

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship." 
(Romans 12:1)

Dave not only got this, he lived it! How about YOU? Have you been the recipient of God's saving mercy and grace? And if so, are you living a life worthy of the gospel?

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

Friday Coffee with PJ

It's Friday ... so pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me for a few random thoughts ... at least one of which, I hope, will help you along in your journey of faith! 

1. Last week, one of my associate pastors suffered a heart attack. On Monday of this week he underwent surgery. As a result of him being in the hospital (and a couple of other folks from our church family), I have been drinking a lot of Pete's Coffee, which is served in the Skylight Cafe on the hospital's second floor. It is by far the best tasting coffee to be had anywhere in the hospital! Usually they have several kinds of coffee available. I have tried several. Each has a distinctive taste. Each can be savored for those very differences. Reminds me of people. We are all unique, distinct in a lot of different ways. And God calls us to "savor" one another no matter how different we may be from one another. The greatest command given to us by God, according to Jesus himself, is to love the Lord our God with all of our soul, heart, mind, and strength. The second great commandment according to Jesus is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So, those different people who live across the street, work across the office, or sit on the other side of the classroom, Jesus calls us to love them! All of them are image bearers of the God who made us all. Fallen image bearers? Yes. Sinful? Indeed. In need of God's grace? Absolutely. So if you are a follower of Jesus, love those around you ... no matter how different and "distinct" they may happen to be. It's what God is calling you to do! 

2. Yesterday I took a quick walk to a nearby pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The medication is to help me breath easier. I have asthma. Many people who know me might be surprised by that. But it is true. Ever since I was a freshman in college, asthma has dogged me. A year and a half ago, my primary care physician told me it was time for me to see a specialist. So off to the pulmonologist I went. In a matter of two visits, he laid out a plan for me to follow. Ever since I have been following his plan . . . my asthma has been well controlled! I am grateful (but sure wish  my doctor had recommended I do this earlier!). You see, the pulmonologist knew lungs and the common diseases of the lungs (like asthma). And in a few short minutes he knew what had to be done. He prescribed. I followed. And I am much healthier as a result! In a similar way, when we encounter the difficulties of living in a fallen world, we need to go to the one who knows our world and the diseases of our world. This would be the one who designed and created the world we live in ... God! And he has revealed himself to us not only in the created realm which he has made (Romans 1:18-20) but also in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:18; John 14:6) and in his word, the Bible (2 Peter 1:3-4). As we seek to know God and his ways better, we will be better equipped to face the challenges of living in this broken world. How about you? Are you seeking God? Why not open a Bible today (if you don't have a print Bible, check out www.biblegateway.com). As you read, you will learn God's prescription (the gospel). It will be your choice as to whether you "listen to the doctor's (Creator's) orders!" I hope you make the right choice! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj


Friday Coffee with PJ

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 female" (Genesis 1:27). Fallen humanity has been constantly suppressing God's truth and exchanging it for a life (see Romans chapter one). So, human beings are not only making God in their own image ... they are also making his image bearers in their own image. For more insightful thoughts on this issue from a biblical worldview, I encourage you to check out Al Mohler's Daily Briefing from Wednesday of this week. Click on The words "boys" and "girls" are becoming increasingly ironic (6:12).


2. This past Sunday we had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Augustin Hibaile and his daughter, Andrea to our church and into our home. Back in 2005, Dr. Hibaile left his position of Dean of a seminary in his homeland of the Central African Republic to start a new organization, The Center International for the Development of Ethical Leadership (CIDEL). For the past 12 years, Dr. Hibaile has conducted seminars and workshops for government officials, military leaders, educators and pastors not only in the CAR, but in neighboring French speaking African countries as well. In fact, there are far more open doors of opportunity than he can walk through with his limited staff of three. So, please pray for Dr. Hibaile's ministry, that God would raise up more individuals and resources to tackle the great need in that area of the world. Also pray for his family. Just last month, rebel forces (which control as much as 80% of the country) attacked his home town in the north western part of the CAR. Many were killed, and most were displaced. He has had no word from relatives who were living in that city. For all he knows, they may be among the dead. Yet in spite of this kind of danger and the extreme poverty the people suffer under, Dr. Hibaile continues to live among his people to serve them and to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks for praying for this godly man (to view a brief video of an interview I did with him this past Sunday, click here). 


3. I referred to the gospel above. Just what is "the gospel?" The world "gospel" literally means "good news." And the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news that you or I could ever hear! For a fuller explanation of just why this is the case, check out the following brief article, What is the Gospel? 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

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 family to me, and family ties are special ties. So if you are a part of the family at Grace, be assured that there is one guy who loves you very much. His name is John Smith (is that really his name? That is a topic for a future blog!).

Thanks for stopping by,
Pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday has once again rolled around (amazing how quickly this happens!). So please pour yourself a cup of your favorite java and join me f...