Friday Coffee with PJ

After enjoying Thanksgiving Day with my family (there were a total of 18 in our home for the celebration!), I am ready for more turkey leftovers (I just love turkey dinners ... even more than steak!). Often my problem is that my wife sends so many leftovers home with the kids that there is often not much left for me! But I made sure that did NOT happen this year! 😉 Thanks for joining me for Friday Coffee with PJ! 

1. I hope that during this Thanksgiving weekend, you spend some quality time thanking God for his many blessings ... and if you failed to do so yesterday, well today is another day! Here are a couple of quotes to inspire you toward a grateful heart! 

"To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater." 
(J. I. Packer) 

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.” 
(Corrie ten Boom)

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations."
(Psalm 100:4-5)

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
(1 Thessalonians 5:18) 

2. The MacDonald's restaurant next door to our church is undergoing a massive makeover. They are adding a second drive thru lane and renovating the inside of the restaurant. It has already been shut down for two weeks ... and it looks like there is still quite a bit of work to be done. But eventually (and probably sooner rather than later ... every day closed is a day the restaurant is not making money) ... the store will be reopened to the happiness of its regular customers. 

We who choose to follow Jesus are also undergoing a massive makeover, and I for one am glad for it! I know what I once was. And I know that I am not even close to "having arrived" where God wants me to be. But God is at work in me and will one day complete his work (Philippians 1:6). Until that time, I must strive to work out my salvation with fear and trembling KNOWING that God is at work IN ME to do and to will of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). And that is one HUGE motivator to say "Thank you, God for not quitting on me!" 

Thanks for stopping by ...

Friday Coffee with PJ

As I write these words, I have just finished up my fourth cup of coffee. So I am thinking I will call that cup my last ... maybe! 😃  Thanks for joining me for some random insights into life. 

1. This week I met my son for lunch. Over a breakfast wrap and a cup of decaf coffee (it was after the noon hour!) we talked about life. All in all, a wonderful hour catching up with each other. Afterwards, as I was driving back to the office – it hit me. This little baby boy that I once bounced on my knee causing him to giggle hysterically is all grown up! He has earned two degrees and has parlayed that into a very responsible job at an institution of higher learning. In addition, he has bounced three of his own children on his knee! I could not be more proud! But wow!  Where have the past 36 years gone?  When did my little boy become a man? 

If you are a parent of young children and you just happen to be reading this (which in and of itself would be quite remarkable considering all the time you must give to your kids!), I encourage you to make time with your children a priority (which is something I always tried to do).  This WILL mean saying “No!” to some things you enjoy doing or even possibly to some career “advancement.”  Don’t buy into the lie that when it comes to your kids what they need is “quality” (vs. “quantity”) time.  Nope.  I think kids need both.  They need more of your time – and when you give them time, they need more of YOU!  So it’s not a question of either or (either quality or quantity) but BOTH AND!  Even though my children are no longer little (they are all adults now with kids of their own), this is a lesson I am still trying to get down. The next time your little one comes and says, “Daddy, please read me a book...” or “Mommy, please play a game with me . . .” – remember, they are only young once.  Build into them while you’ve got the chance.  There will come a day (trust me on this) when you will long for the days when your kids were young (although I must admit those days are few and far between)!

2. The other day when I drove my son's 2 year old home, whenever I would ask him a question he would answer with "I don know." It did not matter whether he really knew the answer or not. I would ask and his response was always, "I don know." I am guessing it was his way of playing a game with me. 

Sometimes people ask me questions about why certain things (usually difficult things) are happening to them. I will often answer in the way my grandson was answering my questions, "I don't know." But then I always add this: "But I do know God, and his ways are always trustworthy" (Psalm 119:138). William Cowper was a British poet and hymn writer in the 18th century. To the very end of his life he battled deep bouts of depression. Through it all, he clung to his faith in Christ. One of his most loved hymns is the well known (and well sung) hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways. The fourth stanza ends with the words, "Behind a frowning providence God hides a smiling face." In those words, Cowper captures a truth that we must all grip and never let go! God has a plan for us (providence). Often, in his infinite wisdom he knows that we must endure suffering if indeed we are to become what he wants us to be and all of us long deep inside to become. James understood this and wrote to his readers to rejoice when trials hit (James 1:2-4). God is not a cosmic sadist, getting a thrill out of seeing us suffer. Rather, he is our Father in Heaven ... and as such, he has our best interests in heart. As C.S. Lewis reminds us, "Pain is the megaphone of God." 

So my friends, if you are hurting today, take hope. Behind your pain God is wearing a smile! And the hurt you are experiencing is ultimately for your good and HIS glory! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

Please feel free to pour yourself a cup of your favorite joe and join me for some thoughts which I hope will get you thinking about your faith and this world in which we live. 

Speaking of this world in which we live, we must never lose sight of what the Bible has to say about this world. For starters, the Apostle John in his gospel tells us that "God loved the world in such a way that He gave his one and only Son . . ." (John 3:16). The word "world" here refers to the world of people - the image-bearers whom God himself created among whom everyone of us is numbered. Now when we are born into this world, we are born in a state of rebellion. That's right. We are born rebels. We don't want to go God's way, but rather we are determined to go OUR way (Isaiah 53:6). As a result, children need to be taught to do the right thing, yes? If you have any doubts, you have never been a parent or worked in childcare! One of the roles of parents is to teach their children to do the right thing! 

God the Father, knowing our desperate condition, sent his son to be born as one of us and to eventually die for us. In Jesus Christ (his death, burial and resurrection), God provides for us the path (the only path) back to him (John 14:6). 

In addition to this use of the word "world", John uses the word in another way in his first letter. In 1 John 5:19 he writes, "the whole world is under the sway of the evil one." Here John is using the word to refer to the evil world system which is controlled by our arch enemy, Satan. One quick look around at what is happening in our world today most certainly confirms that the evil one is at work all across the globe! 

This brings me to what is so heavy on my heart as I write these words. Early this past Sunday afternoon, I received the first news of the church shooting in Texas. Over two dozen people, many of them children gunned down in cold blood. Eight members of one extended family! I was stunned! My heart was broken. As my mind began to clear, I found myself shaking my head. Yet another mass shooting. Las Vegas and now this (and this shooting on the heels of the recent truck killing of people on a Manhattan bike path)! The evil one is indeed at work  - and by the way, Jesus himself refers to the evil one as a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). Since Satan controls this world system, murders are all too common. 

So what is the answer? Tighter gun control? More emphasis on the treatment of mental illness? More security measures? 

Bottom line, the issue is a heart issue. Evil hearts are behind these killings (take a look at the anatomy of the first murder in human history as recorded in Genesis 4:1-15). Jeremiah the prophet writes that the human heart is "more deceitful than anything else and incurable - who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 9:17). Of course, the answer to his question is that God can. God knows all. That means he knows anything and everything there is to know about our hearts (Hebrews 4:13). 

But all is not doom and gloom. Into the shroud of evil's darkness shines the light of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. When Jeremiah tells us that our hearts our incurable, he is right on! So our only hope is for a new heart. And only God can give us one (Ezekiel 36:26). How about YOU? Have you undergone this divine heart transplant? If you haven't, I encourage you to take a moment and check out Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face.  When you make the right choice to embrace Jesus Christ as the ONLY answer to your desperate need for a new heart ... he will give you a new heart, a new life, a new destiny! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 

Friday Coffee with PJ

I hope you enjoy your coffee as much as I do mine! My favorite brew, by the way, is San Fransisco Bay Fog Chaser (just noticed on my last Costco run that Costco is now offering San Fransisco Bay's French Roast! Yes! Highly recommend!). Thanks for joining me this morning for a couple of random thoughts that I hope will encourage you in your faith journey with Christ! 

1. When we first moved into our current home back in November of 2000, the previous owner-builders had a couple of flower beds around the house. Nothing big. Certainly far from elaborate. Across the course of the next few years my wife planted new flower beds ... quite a few of them. At first I didn't mind too much. Less grass to cut! But then I realized that every spring brought with it the ritual of the mulch! But, at the end of the day, I enjoyed all the flowering plants my wife had planted and so went with the flow. But as both us us have aged a bit in the past 17 years ... "the flow" is getting harder to keep up with! So this year, we hired a landscaper to remove two large flower beds my wife had planted in our front lawn and planted grass seed in their place. In part, due to the warm October, the lawn is now looking pretty good! But it does look odd to see all that green grass where before a variety of plants had grown!  All this reminds me that we go through seasons of life. When we moved into our house in 2000, my wife was in the season of life in which she found a lot of joy in working in her gardens. Now, that season is quickly (and I do mean QUICKLY!) passing. Energy levels for both of us are not what they once were. And so we are learning we must allocate our energy to the more important activities in life (for my wife that means running around after our grandkids! Not much energy left for gardening after a day with grandchildren!). 

The day is coming for us all when we will enter the final season of life. As I look ahead (with most of my life now behind me ... and I don't think I will be living until I am 123!), I am praying two things for myself. First, I pray that I will finish well! Finish well in loving my Lord. Finish well in loving my wife, children, and grandchildren (and maybe even great-grandchildren). Finish well with whatever God calls me to do in the remaining years of my life. I simply want to be able to say what Paul the Apostle said has he reflected on his life: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7). Secondly, I pray that as I grow older I will grow older graciously vs. become a grumpy "old guy!" I had a former bus driver recently tell me one reason he quit driving was because he could never please older people. Now I understand how easy it would be to become grumpy in one's old age (after all ... so many parts of the body just don't work the way they used to ... and that brings pain, inconvenience and a lot of sitting in doctors' waiting rooms). So as you move thru the seasons of life, I would encourage you to pray that God would help you to finish well and to do it graciously! 

2. Speaking of finishing well, Jesus Christ certainly did just that. In his next to last recorded words of his earthly life, He said, "It is finished." In speaking these words, it was not his earthly life he was referencing, but the mission of his earthly life. In Mark 10:45 he declared that mission to be the giving of his life as "a ransom for many." Also, in Luke 19:10 he stated his life mission as being to "seek and save those who are lost." So when Jesus said, "It is finished" he was saying the ransom he came to pay for us rebels who were lost and estranged from the Father had been paid in full! This means there is NOTHING we can (or need to) add to what he has already done for our salvation! Jesus paid it ALL! 

Last May, I traveled to Parkeside Church for their 2017 Basics Conference for pastors. For two and half days we feasted on Scripture as we heard sermons by Alistair Begg, Al Mohler and Sinclair Ferguson. Below is a quote by Ferguson on this concept of our getting right with God through faith alone: 

"Remember that you are not saved by increased levels of holiness, however desirable it is that you should reach them. ...It is Christ who saves us-through faith. Your faith is a poor and crumbling thing, as is your spiritual service. Jesus Christ alone is qualified and able to save you because of what He has done."

If you have any questions about whether or not you are right with God ... please take a moment to view, Two Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face. 

Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

Friday Coffee with PJ

My apologies for missing the past several Fridays. I was off last week, and the previous couple of weeks I got caught up in the Thanksgivi...