Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Biblical Truth about the Closet - Part 2

Yesterday in my blog I began a 2 part posting on what the Bible really teaches about homosexuality. Let me again stress what I stressed yesterday. These postings are not meant to be a personal attack against homosexuals. Simply put, in our day today when so many, even under the umbrella of Christianity, our condoning the gay lifestyles as pleasing to God, it is important that followers of Jesus at Grace Church go back to Scripture as our final authority on what we believe and how we live our lives. Yesterday, I overviewed passages in Genesis and Leviticus that clearly states that homosexuality is not pleasing to God. Here are some additional passages to consider on this topic:

Deuteronomy 23:17-18, I Kings 14:24; 15:11-12 and II Kings 23:7 all speak of the abomination of the male cult prostitutes who practiced homosexuality. Some would argue that these passages are only condemning homosexual prostitution and not homosexuality practiced in a loving relationship. If this were the only passage in all of Scripture dealing with God’s view on homosexuality, maybe, just maybe, this would have a shred of possibility. But when it is taken with the whole of Biblical teaching it seems to be very clear that prostitution and homosexuality are both being condemned.

Romans 1:26-28 teaches us that God gave mankind over to their sinful hearts which included degrading passions as women exchanged their natural affection for men for an unnatural affection for other women and that men abandoned their natural desire for women and burned in their lustful passions for other men, committing indecent acts.

Many would argue that this passage is speaking of committing perverted homosexual acts without being born gay, meaning that inborn homosexuality (being born that way) is perfectly natural and condoned by God. In the passage there is no distinction between perverted homosexuality and inverted homosexuality. In fact, the word “natural” in the text argues that homosexuality is contrary to God’s pattern for sexuality found in nature.

In First Timothy 1:10, homosexuals are among a list of sinful people also including murderers, kidnappers and liars. Add to these explicit verses that Genesis, Matthew and Ephesians all concur that the purpose of marriage (which is the only Biblical scenario for sexual activity) is meant to be a MAN leaving his parents and cleaving to his WIFE resulting in the two (the man and his wife) becoming one flesh.

It is clear that a literal interpretation of Scripture as the authoritative and inspired Word of God does not allow for homosexuality as being an acceptable lifestyle to God. But my favorite verse in Scripture on this topic comes from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. In this passage homosexuals are included in a list of sinners that will not inherit the kingdom of God. But verse 11 begins with Paul saying to the church at Corinth, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” God’s grace can help homosexuals (and all sinners) overcome their sin! That is the power of the Gospel!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Biblical Truth about the Closet - Part One

This past month news broke about a popular secular singer who “came out of the closet” and announced that he was gay. We have also recently heard news that a prominent Christian singer has also “come out of the closet” and has announced that he too is gay. In fact, in his interview he commented that God made him with this sexual preference which, in his mind, makes everything okay spiritually. But is it possible to believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture and hold to the view that God makes people homosexuals and condones such behavior?

Please understand that the purpose of this blog today and tomorrow is not to attack those who are gay. I would not attack them anymore than I would attack any other sinner. I believe God loves all sinners and that Jesus died for all sinners. It is my prayer that God would use Grace Church as a place where all sinners (yes, including homosexuals) can discover God’s forgiveness and freedom through a real, genuine personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The purpose of this blog is simply to spell out for the people of Grace Church what the Bible really teaches about homosexuality.

In Genesis 13:13, the Bible describes the men of the city of Sodom as “wicked exceedingly and sinners against God.” In Genesis 18:20 the Lord describes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as “exceedingly grave.” What immoral actions were the men of the city participating in that caused such descriptions? We find the answer in Genesis 19:1-7 when God sends two angels in the form of two human men to Sodom who were welcomed by Lot, the nephew of Abraham, into his home. When the men of the city heard that these two male visitors were staying with lot, they surrounded the house and demanded that Lot bring them out so that they could have sexual relations with them. It is obvious that it was the sin of homosexuality that God described in Geneses 13 and 18 as “wicked exceedingly” and “exceedingly grave.”

Those who support the gay lifestyle as being Biblical will say that Sodom’s sin was that of violent homosexual rape, not simply homosexuality out of a loving relationship. This is nowhere indicated in the text. In fact, Lot even offers his own virgin daughters to the men of Sodom who refuse due to their desire for the male visitors. The New Testament confirms this in Jude 1:7-8 where the men of Sodom and Gomorrah are described as those who, “engaged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.”

When God gave the Law to Israel he specifically commanded in Leviticus 18:22 that a man should not lie with a male in the same way he lies with a female because to do so would be an abomination. Some would argue that Hebrew laws against homosexuality such as these were part of the ceremonial law and are no longer to be kept today. However, nine of the Ten Commandments, and much of the rest of the law dealing with moral issues, are repeated in the New Testament. If this line of thinking were true, then other acts such as adultery (Leviticus 20:10); incest (Leviticus 18:6-8); beastiality (Leviticus 18:23); and child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21) would also be acceptable today.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


That's me in the middle. Pastor Tim, our Executive Pastor, is on the left. And that is Matt McElravy, our single and available Worship Arts Director, on the right! Our GHOSTBUSTERS message series starts this Sunday, October 5 and runs all month long here at Grace Church! Remember, beginning Oct 5 we will now be having 3 Sunday AM services - 8:30; 10:00 and 11:30!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Mark of the Beast

In Revelation 13:1 we saw the Antichrist described as “the beast out of the sea” but in Revelation 13:11 we are introduced to another end time individual that the Apostle John calls “the beast out of the land.” This is the false prophet who will cause people to focus on and worship the Antichrist. Like the first beast, this beast is also a real person. The pronoun “he” is used to describe him. Verse 11 says it is “another” beast. The word “another” means “another of the same kind” as the first Beast. The first beast was a real person and this beast is like the first beast. This beast, however, comes out of the earth. In other words, he is an earthly being as opposed to a heavenly being. He is possibly a Jew as “earth” (or land) in Scripture often refers to Palestine or the land Israel.

This second beast is described as a lamb with horns. Horns represent power. The term lamb shows his gentle deception (Matthew 7:15). He speaks like a dragon. This not only shows that there is destruction in his teaching but, since Revelation 12:9 identified the dragon as the devil, it also shows that his power, like the Anti-Christ’s, comes from Satan.

This false prophet has all the power that the Anti-Christ has (v12) and his words and actions cause the world to worship Anti-Christ (v12-15). He performs wonders (making fire fall from the sky) and miracles that deceive. He even creates an idol to the Anti-Christ for worship (v14-15) and causes the idol to speak. It is important to note that he gives it breath, not life. The idol does not come to life but rather has the appearance of speaking and all who do not participate in this idolatry are sentenced to death.

We also learn that a special mark of the beast is instituted by the Antichrist and the False Prophet. This is a universal mark (v16). Social status does not matter. Economic status does not matter. Positional status does not matter. It is also a physical mark (v16) that is put on the right hand or on the forehead. And most of all, it is an economic mark (v17). It controls all commerce. Without the mark you will not be able to buy and sell anything. Revelation 20:4 teaches that many Saints will be executed for not receiving this mark.

It is also a mark of mystery (v18). It deals with the #666 or the name of the Anti-Christ (v17). Some feel that from this number one can calculate the identity of the Antichrist. However, it is important to realize that this verse is not meant to help us today to discover his identity. We do learn that it is the number of “a man.” In Scripture, the number 6 was seen as the number of man. So literally 666 could be taken as a triple reference…man…man…man. In Isaiah 6, God is described with the triple usage of “Holy…Holy…Holy.” By identifying the Antichrist with the number 666 we are leaning that the Anti-Christ is the ultimate in humanness. He will indeed be the most dangerous man to ever live on earth.

But in the end, the Antichrist will see his own demise. According to Revelation 19:11-21, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. According to Revelation 20:10, the Dragon, who is Satan, will ultimately face the same fate.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leaving the Antichrist in the Dust

All month long we have been studying about the Antichrist on Sunday mornings. What have we learned about this coming world ruler?

We have learned that he is called by some 35 names in Scripture. The Apostle John calls him the Antichrist in 1 John and the Beast out of the Sea in Revelation.
We have learned that he is the most dangerous person ever to walk on planet earth and that he is energized by Satan who gives him his power, his throne and his authority.

We have learned that he will lead a 10-nation confederacy that will become the greatest world power that the world has ever seen in all of its history.

We have learned that he will counterfeit the resurrection of Jesus which will result in the world not only following him, but also worshipping him as God.

We have learned that by worshipping the Antichrist, people will actually be worshipping Satan.

We have learned that he will speak great words of blasphemy and that he will seek to overcome Israel and the tribulation saints.

This Sunday we will conclude our 4-week series on the Antichrist that I will preview in my blog tomorrow. But after all of these mornings learning what the Bible teaches about the Antichrist, it is now time to leave the Antichrist in the dust and focus solely on the true Christ…Jesus Christ.

Everyone is invited to join us here in the Grace Church auditorium for a very special Night of Worship this Saturday evening, September 27, beginning at 7pm. This is an opportunity to spend an extended time together in praise, worship, prayer, and reflection, focusing solely on lifting up the Name of Jesus Christ and dwelling in the presence of God. The evening will be led by our Worship Arts Director, Matt McElravy (pictured).

And because "worship" is so much more than just music, we encourage you to act out your worship and service to God by dropping off some "Stuff the Sunroom" items on your way in, which will help meet the needs of many women and children in our community and will share the love of Christ with them in a very real way. This will give us a jump start to the month of October in which we are asking all of our ministries to join together to fill the needs of 4 local organizations that exist to help women and children who are going through struggling times right here in Lancaster County. It is our desire to literally STUFF THE SUNROOM off the church lobby with thousands of items such as baby items, cleaning supplies, craft supplies, non-perishable food, games, office supplies, paper supplies and toiletries. Join us Saturday for a special Night of Worship at Grace!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grace Church Wins Breastfeeding Recognition

This is no joke. The Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition contacted me here at the church this week with an invitation to attend the Central Pennsylvania Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Awards Event.

Nursing Mothers, Counselors and Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania, Inc., in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition, have announced the 2008 Breastfeeding Friendly Business Awards in which they recognize area businesses and workplaces that support breastfeeding employees and/or patrons.

Grace Church of Lititz has been nominated to receive a Certificate of Recognition for steps taken to support breastfeeding employees and patrons. The selection criterion is based on provisions of time, space, support and flexibility for women who choose to breastfeed. We are one of only 2 churches in the entire state of Pennsylvania receiving this recognition.

A special ceremony will be held on Thursday, October 2nd at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg to honor Award and Certificate recipients. Representatives from businesses receiving awards will be photographed, listed in the program materials and our business name will be used in any resulting press.

The Pennsylvania Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Collaborative is a statewide effort providing education on the importance of workplace support programs for breastfeeding women and recognizing workplaces with such programs. This project is sponsored by a contract number HHSP233200800464P from the Department of Health and Human Service's Office on Women's Health.

So how about that? I never dreamed that our church would receive such an honor in this area. As a result, we will be sending a representative to the event on October 2 in order to receive our certificate of recognition.

Just for fun, I think I should make our single Worship Arts Director, Matt McElravy, very uncomfortable by making him our representative to receive the award and be in the group picture. Just kidding! I believe Tim Auld, our Executive Pastor, will be checking to see if Brenda Miller, our Early Childhood Director, may be able to represent us since our nursery ministry falls under her area of ministry.

In all seriousness, Grace Church is honored to be recognized as a ministry that helps to meet the needs of people. After all, that is what we are all about…Meeting people where they are and moving them to where God wants them to be! In case you did not realize it, we have three full nurseries that are in operation on Sunday mornings here at Grace, staffed by very competent and loving people who understand the importance of meeting the needs of families with infant children so that worship can still be a very important and real part of their weekly schedules. If you would like to be involved in our nursery ministry here at Grace, contact the church office and speak with Brenda Miller.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SUPERMAN is only as effective as his STAFF

I laughed really hard when I saw this comic that one of our staff found in the paper and put in my box. If your lost as to its connection, just cut and paste the following link and you will understand…http://www.gracechurchworship.org/2videojune8.html! But the truth is that “superman” is really only as effective as the staff surrounding him. My goal when I came to Grace Church 4 years ago was to build a dream team of staff. That has been accomplished. I am daily amazed at our staff and their effectiveness. Our ministry staff includes the following:

Tim Auld is our Executive Pastor. Two weeks ago Tim moved from Pastor of Spiritual Formation to this new role. He is now over every aspect of our church ministry and I am amazed at what he has already accomplished in just a two week time period.

Whitie Willard is our Care Pastor. He has been on our staff the longest of all our ministry staff and is the one who makes all of our hospital and shut-in visits.

Steve Burghart is our Pastor of Connections. He is our newest staff member coming from Southern California where he was on staff at the church pastored by Rick Warren. His main role is to lead us in becoming a church of small groups.

Doug Kegarise is our Director of Student Ministries. Doug is home grown here at Grace Church and has done a very effective job in developing our 7th-12th grade ministry. Under Doug’s leadership is Jeremiah Kleylein who is our Junior High Director.

Susan Auld is our Director of Children’s Ministry and is the wife of our Executive Pastor. She has led the way in making our children’s ministry relevant and exciting. Brenda Miller serves under Susan’s leadership as our Early Childhood Director

Matt McElravy is our Worship Arts Director. This young man has more talent than seems fair. His ability to lead in worship and his introducing of original songs that he has written has greatly enhanced our worship ministry. Under Matt’s leadership are our Media Producer, Tim Reedy, and our newly hired Audio Technician, Nancy Martin.

Rick Bernhardt is our Senior Administrator who gives oversight, leadership and vision to our educational ministries including Morningstar Daycare and Lititz Christian School. Under his leadership are Eric Lewis (Secondary Principal); Sherry McConaghay (Elementary Principal); Tammy Wiggins (Daycare Director); and his key support ladies including Cindy Layton (finances) and Con Maser (office manager).

And then there is the backbone of our staff…our support staff who works in the church office making us all look good and keeping the ship of Grace Church from crashing. They include Joan Dombach, Karen Gromis, Elaine Bendinsky, Sheri Sell, Crissy Reedy, Jodi Miller, Charlene Mummau, Megan Wilkerson, Betsy Echternach and Laura Distler (she’s the sexy one on staff). And then there are our two full-time facility guys…Jay Hall and Marlin Weaver!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Glow in the Dark Green Slime

On Sundays during the month of October, we will not only be adding a third Sunday morning service, since we are now regularly exceeding the 80% capacity mark in our auditorium in our current two services, but we will also be studying a haunting message series that we are calling, “Ghostbusters.”

The series will start on October 5 with our worship band kicking off the morning by playing the theme song to the hit movie of the 80’s, “Ghostbusters!” In my opinion, this just may be the best theme song to any movie in Hollywood’s history. Our own David Felty will be singing the lead vocals on this song. David has sung and acted at Sight and Sound Theater and on Broadway and is always a favorite when he sings here at Grace Church. In fact, later in October he and his wife, Jen, will be giving a concert here at the church. I can’t wait to hear David and the band open our series with this movie theme song…“Who ya gonna call?”

Not long ago, a lady from our church stopped by my house to give me a present that she saw at Target that day. It is a t-shirt that mimics the top of the outfit that Bill Murray wore in the Ghostbusters movie. It is so cool…but here is the best part. If you remember the movie, one of the greatest scenes is when Murray is chasing the ghost and he gets slimed and ends up laying on the floor covered with gross green goo! Well, guess what? This shirt has the green slime on it and when you turn off the lights, the slime glows in the dark. Since I have been asked by this dear lady to wear the shirt as we kick off the series on October 5, you can bank on the fact that when I stand up to preach we will turn off the lights for just a moment so that you can see the green slime glow in the dark.

So, who have you invited to come and be part of our Ghostbusters series in October? It is so simple. All you have to do is to ask anyone you happen to be talking to this question, “Do you believe in ghosts?” No matter what their answer is, invite them to church this October. Our Ghostbusters series will take place in these sections:

Week 1 (October 5): We will answer the question, “Are ghosts real and if so, what are they?” Depending on the answer to those questions, how should I respond as a Christian?

Week 2 and 3 (October 12 and 19): Can the spirits of the dead communicate to those who are still living? Over these weeks we will study the Old Testament story of King Saul going to the Witch of Endor to speak with the dead spirit of the prophet Samuel.

Week 4 (October 26): What is the historical roots of Halloween? What spiritual merit is there in this October holiday that can cause all of us to be strengthened in our faith?

Through this series we will learn some deep, meaningful and practical truths from Scripture on a topic you don’t hear talked about in church often. In case you’re wondering, the message series will not in any way be scary, just educational and motivational.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Daddy's Girl

I don't usually make a new post over the weekend but I received this picture in the form of an e-mail attachment this morning from my daughter, Joy, who is a freshman at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, with a little note that said,

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, than this picture attached says it all!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Beast is Wounded

As we continue our study of the Antichrist this Sunday we will see from Revelation 13:3 that this one world ruler of the tribulation time period will suffer a serious wound as one of his 7 heads receives a fatal wound that is healed. Is this literal or symbolic? One option is that this is speaking of the Revived Roman Empire which appeared dead but is powerfully revived during the tribulation period. Another option is that this is teaching that the Anti-Christ is a resurrected figure from the past like Mussolini; Hitler; Stalin; or Nero. There are many who believe that the Antichrist is a resurrected Judas because Jesus refers to Judas as the devil (John 6:70, 71) and the Bible teaches that Satan actually entered Judas (Luke 22:3; John13:27). Another reason for this theory is due to the title “Son of Perdition” being used of Satan in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and Judas in John 17:12.

A third option as to the meaning of the wound is that it is teaching that the Anti-Christ is killed and rises from the dead. However, I am not sure that this is signifying the death of the Beast as just one of the heads is wounded and the heads represent world powers. It is also questionable that Satan has the power to restore life. The final option appears to be the best and that is that the Anti-Christ appears to be dead and claims a false resurrection (13:12, 14; 17:8-11). The effect of this wound and the healing is that the whole world is totally amazed resulting in their worshipping the beast, and according to Revelation 13:4, by worshipping the Beast they are actually worshipping the Dragon who is Satan.

In giving homage to the beast the people exclaim, “Who is like the Beast? Who is able to wage war against the Beast?” This description is a direct result of the Antichrist killing two witnesses of God (Revelation 11:7-10). The bodies of these two witnesses lie in the streets of Jerusalem and all the world sees them resulting in a world-wide celebration rivaling Christmas including gift-giving. These two witnesses had a powerful ministry during the first 3.5 years of the tribulation (Revelation 11:3-6). Who are they? Some believe they are Moses and Elijah due to their ability to do miracles and the fact that they appeared with Jesus at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). Others believe they are Enoch and Elijah due to their never dying physically (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11). Whoever they are, they will testify about Christ and perform great miracles. Anyone who opposes them is killed supernaturally but the Antichrist is able to slay them which gives more reason for the world to worship him. These witnesses are resurrected (Revelation 11:11-14) but the world continues to worship the Antichrist (Revelation 13:8).

The Antichrist now begins a verbal assault (Revelation 13:5-7). Satan gives him words of great blasphemy (Daniel 7:8; 11:36) and great power for the remaining 3.5 years. At the beginning of the tribulation, the Antichrist is able to orchestrate a covenant of peace with Israel allowing the Jewish people to rebuild its temple and reinstate the sacrificial system of worship (Daniel 9:27). But half way into the tribulation, he breaks this covenant with Israel and commits the height of blasphemy by seating himself in the Holy of Holies proclaiming to be God (Daniel 11:36-39; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). He wages war on Israel causing Jews to have to flee for their lives (Matthew 24:15-26; Luke 21:20-24).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Experimenting with Comments

I am quickly coming up on my 1,000 blog posting (today is #934). I am toying with the idea once I hit 1,000 blog entries to do something I have never done since I started my blog and that is to allow comments from my readers. The main reason I have not opened the comments option previously is because the purpose I started my blog was simply to allow those who attend Grace Church here in Lititz to learn a little more about me as their Senior Pastor.

When I started my blog back on March 31, 2005, I never imagined that in just three and a half years I would have had over 75,000 people visit “Folks Listen.”. Obviously my blog is read by far more than just the 1500-2000 people who are associated with Grace Church and so I thought maybe it would be fun to hear where some of these readers are from and to hear what their thoughts might be. However, I don’t want to lose total control of my blog either so I am going to go by the following guidelines when it comes to comments posted on “Folks Listen.”

I will personally moderate all comments so any comment that is submitted will not appear automatically. I will do my best to keep up so that comments that are submitted are posted in a somewhat timely manner.

Just because a comment is submitted does not mean that it will be posted. I have readily discovered that there are many out in the blogging world, even those in the Christian blogging world, who seem to only desire to tear down rather than edify
. Any comment that I deem to be destructive in nature or that I believe may cause damage to the cause of Christ or to the ministry of Grace Church will be rejected.

Any comment that is simply a “cut and paste” of other people’s works will be rejected. The reason I am experimenting with opening comments is to hear the original thoughts of readers not to read volumes of other works that have simply been reprinted. I am amazed at how many people who comment on blogs simply cut and paste volumes of second hand information.

Because I do not have the time to check out hundreds of other websites to make sure that they are appropriate, I will not allow any other websites to be advertised in comments.

I do reserve the right to edit any comment submitted for the purpose of length. I would ask that comments be kept to a simple paragraph. Comments are in no way enjoyable to read when they seemingly go on and on and on and on and on and on.

So, I’m not sure how long I will conduct this experiment but starting today I will be opening comments on “Folks Listen.” So feel free to take a moment, even if it is simply to say “hello.” This experiment will help me decide if this will become a permanent thing once I hit the milestone of my 1,000 blog entry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why is God still blessing America?

As we have been studying the Antichrist on Sunday mornings here at Grace Church we have seen that when he comes on the scene he will rule the world through a ten nation confederacy that is often referred to as the Revived Roman Empire. So that brings up a very legitimate and sincere question…Will the United States be one of those countries?

I think the answer to that question is, “Could be!” We really cannot be certain. As I study prophecy I have a hard time finding the United States being mentioned . It is my opinion (that’s “thus sayeth Scott” not “thus sayeth the Lord”) that America will not be one of those nations. If that is true then obviously something must happen between now and then to cause the power and the prestige of America to greatly diminish.

What could cause such a thing? One possibility I see is a complete economic collapse. Our country as a whole and Americans as individuals are so addicted to materialism and have accrued such immense amounts of financial debt that a major economic collapse would have the potential of brining our nation to its knees.

But I think there is another more pertinent possibility. To understand it we must first ask ourselves another question…“Why is God still blessing the United States of America?” Some would say it is because of the role of the church as a whole in our country. I’m not sure this is the case. I think it is very debatable as to if the church as a whole in America is all that strong and healthy.

Another might suggest that it is because of the number of international missionaries that our country sends to the ends of the earth. Maybe this is the case but I remember reading recently that there are other countries who are actually sending out more missionaries than are coming out of the United States. I have heard others say that it is because we are still a very moral nation. To truly believe this you must have been living with your head in the sand for the last couple of decades or so.

Then why is God still blessing our country? I think it goes back to a promise that God made to a man named Abraham way back in Genesis 12 when he told Abraham that He would bless him and through his descendants form a mighty nation. That nation is Israel. But then God went on to tell Abraham that those who blessed him (Israel) God would bless and those that cursed him (Israel) God would curse. Why is God still blessing America? I don’t think it is because of the strength of the church or the level of our morality as a country. I think God is still blessing America because we remain the number one friend and ally of Israel in the world.

So what could cause the sudden collapse of our country’s standing in the world? Folks, listen, as long as we bless Israel, I believe that God will bless us. But when that day comes, and I believe it will, when America turns it back on Israel, on that very day I believe that God will turn His back on America.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You can tell a Youth Pastor anywhere!!

Doug Kegarise, our Director of Student Ministries, at Kaen's celebration this morning! You can tell a youth pastor anywhere, can't you?

A Long Lost Friend

In celebrating Karen Gromis' 20 years of ministry, we surprised her with the return of a long lost friend. If you come by the office sometime you will see this figure outside Karen's office holding all of the financial forms we need to conduct ministry here at Grace!

Celebrating 20 Years of Minsitry at Grace

This morning in Staff Meeting, our Executive Pastor, Tim Auld, led us in recognizing Karen Gromis for 20 years of faithful service here at Grace. Karen is our Financial and Human Resources Assistant. Thanks, Karen! You are a valuable part of our team!

The Teams I LOVE to HATE

I love sports and I am a die-hard fan of my teams. So let me break down for you my favorite teams; the teams I love to hate; and the teams I like to see win if mine doesn’t:

My teams are:

Major League Baseball: Cleveland Indians

National Football League: Cleveland Browns

National Basketball Association: Cleveland Cavaliers

National Hockey League: None (there is no team in Cleveland)

College: The Ohio State University; Liberty University

High School: Lititz Christian School

The teams I love to hate are:

Major League Baseball: New York Yankees; Chicago White Sox

National Football League: Pittsburgh Steelers; Denver Broncos

National Basketball Association: Los Angeles Lakers

National Hockey League: Detroit Red Wings

College: Michigan University; Penn State University; Notre Dame

If my team can’t win, the teams I kind of root for are:

Major League Baseball: Philadelphia Phillies

National Football League: Indianapolis Colts

National Basketball Association: Indiana Pacers

National Hockey League: Colorado Avalanche

College: Any Big Ten team except Michigan and Penn State

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Love Fall at Grace!

We are now entering the fall months here at Grace Church and I have never in my ministry seen the explosion of growth and excitement like we are seeing. From a Sunday morning attendance standpoint, it is amazing what God is doing. The first Sunday of September we had 728 packed into the auditorium for our first morning worship service. I wondered if anybody would be left for the second service, but to our thrill another 548 were in attendance for a total auditorium attendance of 1,276. When you add the 336 kids in our nursery through 4th grade programs that morning, our total Sunday morning attendance for the first week of September was 1,612.

Now I realize that some will immediately cry out that I am only about numbers. Yes, I am about numbers because I am all about Grace Church being used by God to meet as many people as possible right where they are at and then being used by Him to move them to where He wants them to be. Each of these numbers represents a real person…a person created in the image of God…a person who without Christ is dead in their sin and can do nothing on their own to rectify that fact…a person for whom Christ died as a substitute, paying the penalty for their sin…a person who, unless they hear the truth of the Gospel and change their mind about Jesus and place their faith in what He did for them through His death and resurrection alone, will spend an eternity apart from God…a person that God has given His church the marching orders to reach out to with the Love of Jesus. Or to put it in simple terms…“we count people because people count.”

The excitement around this place continues to grow and we are riding this wave right into October when we will add a third Sunday morning worship service and will participate in our “Stuff the Sunroom” project to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus as we practically reach out to and make a difference in the lives of hurting women and children right here in Lancaster County. Plus, in early October our Youth Ministry will be reaching out to hundreds of area teenagers through a big fifth quarter event following a Warwick High School football game and our children’s ministry will be putting on a very special Fall Harvest Party early in November.

We are also nearly ready to launch our first wave of small groups. God answered our prayer in sending us Steve Burghart from Saddleback Community Church (Rick Warren, pastor) in Southern California to spearhead our endeavor to see everyone that God brings to us connected to a small group where they can share life together and grow in their knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ.

I could go on and on about all that God is doing, not just on the church side of Grace Ministries, but also on our educational side through Morningstar Daycare and Lititz Christian School. We entered this school year with several faculty needs and we have literally been blown away with the caliber of men and women God has brought to us.

I love the fall season…especially at Grace!

Friday, September 12, 2008


In Revelation 13, he is called “The Beast” which was a name given to the Antichrist back in Revelation 11:7. This word does not describe a domesticated animal but rather a wild, savage beast on the prey. Revelation 13 begins by calling attention to the Dragon who is standing on the seashore. The dragon is Satan (Revelation 12:9). At the mid-point of the tribulation, Satan calls the Beast out o the Sea (the Anti-Christ) and the Beast out of the Land (the False-Prophet) forming a unholy imitation of the true Trinity. Satan is a counterfeit of God the Father. The Anti-Christ is a counterfeit of God the Son. And the False Prophet is a counterfeit of God the Holy Spirit.

As we continue to learn what the Bible teaches about the Antichrist we first learn that he is a person. Though he has been viewed by some to be a religious system, a political system, a philosophical system, an influence, or even computers, the Bible gives plenty of evidence to show he is a real person. He is always described with personal pronouns. He comes up out of the sea which is speaking of the sea of nations or peoples (13:1; 17:15). He has a mouth and speaks (13:5). He is specifically called a man (13:8). He is also described as a person by both Daniel (Daniel 7:25; 8:24-25; 11:36-45) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Revelation describes him as a beast with ten horns and seven heads. According to Revelation 17 the ten horns represents ten kings leading ten nations during the tribulation period under the Anti-Christ’s control. These kings had no present kingdom at the time of John’s writing but will have a kingdom during the tribulation. Each horn has a diadem showing the rulership of these ten nations during the tribulation period. Many have falsely speculated that the seven heads speaks of Rome due to the city of Rome having seven mountains. This is not the case. These seven heads represent seven world powers. At the time of John’s writing, five of these world powers had come and gone including Egypt; Babylon; Assyria; Persia and Greece. One of these powers, Rome, was in existence at the time of John’s writing. And finally, one was still to come. That speaks of the Revived Roman Empire which will be in power during the tribulation period. Revelation 13 also describes the beast as having names of blasphemy against God (Revelation 13:7).

The power of the Antichrist is seen in Revelation 13:2. This Beast is the fourth Beast of Daniel’s vision and has the power of all the former world powers combined (Daniel 7:1-8). In Daniel’s vision the Leopard represented the Grecian empire (Daniel 7:6); the Bear represented the Medo-Persian empire (Daniel 7:5); and the Lion represented the Babylonian empire (Daniel 7:4). This beast is controlled by Satan himself. Satan is the source of his power, his position, and his popularity. He will be an intellectual genius (Daniel 8:23). He will be an oratorical genius (Daniel 11:36). He will be a political genius (Revelation 17:11, 12). He will be a commercial genius (Daniel 11:43). He will be a military genius (Revelation 6:2; 13:2). And most dangerously, he will also be a religious genius (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Political Prayer

I don’t usually write out my prayers, but when I was invited to give the invocation at the McCain/Palin rally last week here in Lancaster, I felt the need to take time to prayerfully consider my words in advance. In case you are interested, below is what I prayed:

Heavenly Father,

You teach us that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, from You. And so this afternoon we want to pause for just a moment to give you thanks for the many good gifts you have so graciously lavished on us. We thank you for our country that you have so richly blessed. We thank you for our freedom that allows us to gather at this very hour without any fear of reprisal. We thank you for the purpose for which we have gathered together and for the democracy that we so cherish and enjoy. We recognize today that all of these gifts come from You and we are so very thankful for each of them.

Father, you have instructed us in Your Word to pray for those in authority over us. So we take time today to lift up to you our president and vice president along with our senators and congressmen and congresswomen in Washington as well as our governor and our many state and local leaders. We ask that you would strengthen them, guide them and give them courage and wisdom each day. I ask that each of them would continually seek divine guidance from you as they lead our country. And I especially take time today to pray for the two individuals that we have gathered together to hear from. I pray for Senator McCain and for Governor Palin. We thank you for both them and for their strong and proven commitment to our country and for their willingness to be a public servant. Most all of us in this room have no real idea the immense physical, emotional and spiritual toll it must take on someone to run for President and Vice President of the United States. So I ask today that you would protect them both. I ask that you would give them strength from on high and that your grace would be sufficient for them. I pray for their spouses and for their children and ask that you would protect their marriages and their families. And I pray that this political process would ultimately draw them even closer to each other than they already are, and more importantly, that these days ahead would draw them closer to You.

And finally, Father, I ask that you would continue to be with our brave men and women who are this day in harms way as they protect our freedom as Americans. I ask that you would protect them as well and give grace to their loving families here at home. So Father we ask that you would now bless our time together. May we sense Your presence with us and may we honor You with all of our words and all of our actions this day. And most of all, we ask that you would continue to bless our country and to use each of us to accomplish Your will here on earth and for all of eternity. And I pray these things in the name of Your Son, my personal Savior, Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Sports Preview

I always wanted to be either a sports announcer or a sports writer. So, today I will pretend that I am the latter and give you my personal analysis (as painful as it might be for some to read) on the fall varsity sports program of Lititz Christian School which is a ministry of Grace Church. Please realize that I am the #1 fan of the LCS sports teams!

Let’s go with ladies first. This ought to be quite an interesting year for the Lady Eagles varsity volleyball team made up primarily of underclassmen and with four of the six starters for first year varsity coach Denise Kennedy being freshmen. Most would definitely see this year as a rebuilding year with a promising future in mind. But don’t count these girls quite out of it yet. These freshmen are talented and are use to the coaching style and philosophy of Kennedy who coached them on the Middle School level the last two years.

My first glimpse of the Lady Eagles this season occurred a little over a week ago as I traveled down to Lancaster Mennonite High School to watch them play in the LMH tournament. LCS had to start their day against LMH whom some consider to be a contender for this year’s state title (LMH’s coach also attends Grace Church). To put it bluntly, I was very impressed with the Lady Eagles. They don’t have a lot of power offensively but they are a scrappy defensive team who played very well against a far superior LMH team losing one of the games by a score of 25-14 and the other 25-18. Though the rest of the day was a struggle for the Lady Eagles, there were many aspects of that opening match that gave great hope, not just for the future but even for a title run in our conference (the CCAC) yet this season. The girls then went on to win their first two conference match-ups against Dayspring Christian Academy and Bible Baptist along with shutting our York Country Day to start their season 3-0. One of the biggest needs I see for this team is for one or two of the girls, be they upperclassmen or a couple of the freshmen, to step up as the team leaders who will be the players to take control on the floor and to keep their teammates attitudes in check and to ensure that they maintain a positive outlook on what may just be more than simply a rebuilding year.

My hopes for a banner year of LCS soccer was greatly heightened when I attended the final scrimmage of the season where we played one half against Harrisburg Christian and one half against Harrisburg Academy. We battled Harrisburg Christian to a scoreless tie and then, with little rest and very few subs, went right back out on the field to play a fresh Harrisburg Academy team. Shortly into the half, Harrisburg scored a goal when the LCS goalkeeper got shielded by his own defense. I fully expected the gift goal and the fact that we were tired to result in a let down but the Eagles mounted strength and played their best soccer of the day the rest of the way and ended up outscoring Harrisburg Academy 2-1.

I can honestly say that in the time I have been here at Lititz I have not seen our team ever look that good going into the start of a season. However, the official start of the season saw 3 key upperclassmen out of the line-up and LCS losing a conference game in a driving rain storm by a score of 5-1 to Lancaster Christian. However, our team is now back at full strength with a great shot still to win the CCAC conference and go deeper into district play than ever before in the history of our school. GO EAGLES!

Added footnote: The girls volleyball team lost a heart-breaker Tuesday night to Conestoga Christian in 5 games, losing the final game 16-14 after leading 14-11. The soccer team however, was dominating against Conestoga on the road with a 6-0 shutout. Coach Lewis said it was the best he has ever seen an LCS team play. Both teams are in action Friday night here at home against Berks Christian (soccer begins at 4pn; volleyball at 5pm)!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Some Days Are Just Better Than Others

Have you ever had “one of those days”? To be honest, most days are probably somewhat similar…nothing extraordinary occurrs but nothing horrible happens either. I remember hearing Dr Falwell say, “If you have a good day, expect the next two to be bad.” Sometimes, that is just how life works, isn’t it?

But then there are some days that are simply better than most others. Today has potential to be one of those days for me. Why? Because today I have scheduled a morning event, afternoon event, and an evening event that doesn’t usually occur for me on a typical day. Here are the three major events on my itinerary for today:

My day is scheduled to start this morning (weather permitting) by meeting a friend who attends our church for breakfast. Now what is special about that? Well, breakfast with friends are always good but this one will also be unique. We aren’t driving to breakfast. We are flying to breakfast. I have had the good fortune of going up with this person in his plane on a couple of occasions and really caught the passion of flying. There is just something about being up in the cockpit of a small plane hovering over beautiful Lancaster County that makes for a great way to start a day. This is not the normal way I start a day so I think this day has the possibility of just flat being better than most days.

In the afternoon I will then be heading down to Franklin and Marshall College where Presidential Candidate, John McCain along with Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, will be speaking at a campaign rally. I have been asked to give the invocation for the event. How cool is that? Again, this is not normal for me. Add this to the morning flight for breakfast and this has the real potential of simply being a better day than most. By the way, Senator Obama was in town last week and spoke to an estimated crowd of 15,000. For the record, the only reason I did not offer the invocation at that event is simple…I wasn’t asked too.

After the McCain event, the best part of my day still lies ahead. My son, Jonathan (pictured), plays on our varsity soccer team here at Lititz Christian School and they have an evening game under the lights at Conestoga Christian School. For me, there is nothing in life I enjoy more than watching my kids play sports. So, yes, flying to breakfast in the morning will be awesome. And yes, offering the invocation in front of thousands at the McCain rally in the afternoon will be a thrill. But both of these events pale in comparison to watching my son play soccer.

So, as you can see, today has the potential of simply being better than most days. But when you think about it, every day should have that feel to it. After all, every day is a day that the Lord has made, so no matter what is on the schedule, be it good or bad, we should rejoice in it. But for a Tuesday, this day still could end up being better than most days. We’ll have to wait and see. But flying to breakfast, praying at the John McCain rally, and watching my son play soccer under the lights…now that is a good day!
Added note: The flight to breakfast this morning got pushed back to Wednesday due to weather...but this is sitll a pretty good day!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Normal Church Folk

The Elder Board of our church has given me 6 weeks a year called refreshment or enrichment weeks. These do not count as vacation but rather are weeks when I can step away from the normal activities of leading Grace Church and participate in activities that refresh and enrich me. The last enrichment week I took was the last full week of August. My intent was to not even be around the church that entire week but some transition in the office and a need in the school kept me around most of the week. But when the weekend rolled around I still had time to get in some “enrichment” so I walked out of my office, closing the door at 11:30am, and due to the Labor Day holiday, did not step back into my office until Tuesday morning.

Since Pastor Tim was preaching on that Sunday and I had no responsibilities as part of that morning, Laura and I decided to attend another church and just be “normal church folk” for a Sunday. On a typical Sunday morning I am up by 6:15am so that I can leave the house by 6:45, stop at the Hess station in town for a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, and arrive in my office by 7am. The time between 7-9am is spent in quiet preparation for the morning and a meeting with Matt McElravy and the Media Producer for the morning to make sure that every aspect of the service is ready.

But on this Sunday I slept in and spent the morning watching the news on television, browsing through the Sunday morning newspaper, and even taking time to cook myself some breakfast. We didn’t even leave for church until close to 10am. We drove out to Palmyra and attended the morning worship service at the Palmyra Grace Brethren Church which is pastored by a friend of mine named Dan Travis (pictured). I didn’t give Dan any heads up that I was coming because I didn’t want him to ask me to preach as this was a Sunday I was committed to being part of the “normal church folk” crowd. Dan and his wife are the leaders of the Israel trips that we are part of and my relationship with him goes back to our youth pastoring days when I was youth pastor in West Milton, OH and he was youth pastor in Wooster, OH.

Dan is doing a tremendous job at Palmyra. Not many years ago the church was down to around 50 people. Today they are pushing 200 each Sunday. In fact, the Sunday Laura and I were there had 13 first time visitors. The service was both refreshing and enriching. Their worship was led by a worship intern who did a very fine job. The song selection was very focused on Jesus and the Scripture reading in between two of the songs was done very dramatically and really prepared us to worship the Lord through the beautiful song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”

Dan introduced his message with a powerful clip from the television drama series, ER. In the clip a dying man demands to talk to someone who can tell him how he can attain forgiveness in light of his imminent death. Dan than shared a powerful message on the fact that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, we went to lunch with Dan and his wife…a great way to end the morning as “normal church folk!”

Friday, September 05, 2008

Introducing the Man of the Hour - Part Two

So the Apostle John confirms that the present antichrists that are growing in our world today are the precursor to the real antichrist who is still to appear. But when will this “man of the hour” be identified? 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 gives us some answers to this question. This passage of Scripture is born out of a misunderstanding by the church at Thessalonica regarding future events. This church had been wrongly taught that the Day of the Lord had already come and that they were currently living in the tribulation period. The persecution that they were facing as a church seemed to confirm this fearful reality. As a result, the church was “shaken” and “disturbed.” The word “shaken” speaks of being tossed around violently as in an earthquake. Believing that this was true had literally upset their entire lives causing them to exist in a continual state of worry and fear. Paul is writing this letter to this troubled church to assure them that they had not missed the coming of Christ and that they were not in fact living in the tribulation.

In verses 3-12, Paul gives two markings of the tribulation period. Both had to be true if the tribulation were occurring. The first was the coming of the apostasy, or the great falling away of so many who professed to be followers of Jesus. But more so than that, for the tribulation to be happening, there also had to be the appearance of the Antichrist. In verse 3, the Antichrist’s designation is given as the man of lawlessness, meaning defiant to all law, and the son of destruction. His determination is seen in verse 4 where he opposes every god and exalts himself above every god. He will ultimately take his seat in the Jewish temple (which will obviously be rebuilt) displaying himself as God.

According to verses 5-8, there is a supernatural deterrence to Satan’s plan to bring about his “man of the hour.” There has been and still is today a restrainer who is currently holding back Satan’s strategy. I believe that the text best supports that this restrainer is the Holy Spirit of God working through the church in holding back evil’s full force. Paul teaches that this restrainer must be removed before the Anti-Christ can appear and the tribulation begin. I believe this will happen through the rapture of the church. This means that the rapture must happen prior to the Antichrist being revealed and the tribulation beginning. So when will the Antichrist be revealed? It will happen immediately after the rapture of the church (see 1 Thessalonians 4). Though we cannot know the exact date, I believe the rapture of the church could happen at any time.

Paul then jumps ahead to the end of the tribulation and the demise of the Antichrist making it clear that in the end the Lord will destroy him and that he will have his place in the Lake of Fire (see Revelation 19:20). But before his ending occurs, his deception will affect millions (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12). This will be due to supernatural power which comes directly from Satan (Revelation 13:2) with the purpose being to deceive people through amazing signs and wonders. I believe that this deception will be directed toward those who heard the Gospel prior to the rapture but did not receive it. I believe that those who rejected Christ before the tribulation will be caused to believe the deception of this coming “man of the hour.”

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Introducing the Man of the Hour - Part One

Everyone is asking the same question and debating the answer. Who will be the next President of the United States? Will it be the Democratic Senator from Illinois, Barak Obama, or will it be the Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain? At this point, your guess is as good as mine. One thing is for sure…it won’t be very long and we will know the answer. But here is a far more intriguing question. Who will be the one commonly referred to as the Antichrist, that coming one world ruler of the tribulation period as taught in the Bible? I think the same two things can be said about this question as was said about the first question. At this point, your guess is as good as mine but one thing I think is pretty certain…it won’t be much longer and we will know the answer.

This Sunday we are starting a new message series here at Grace Church on the topic of the Antichrist. We are calling this series, “The Man of the Hour.” The Bible gives this coming world ruler many names such as “The Man of Sin” and “The Son of Perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3); “The Lawless One” (2 Corinthians 2:8); “The Beast” (Revelation 13:1); and a host of others throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. But the Apostle John, in 1 John 2:18-23, is the only New Testament writer to use the title of “Antichrist” which is most certainly the most common title used for this coming world leader in our culture today. In verse 18 John writes, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”

Keep in mind that in Scripture there are really three different usages that include the title, “Antichrist.” First, there is the “spirit of Anti-Christ” which describes the demonic forces behind false teaching and sin in our world today. Second, there is “the Anti-Christ” which speaks of the coming one world ruler of the tribulation period. Finally, there are “many Antichrists” which speaks of the false teachers during the church age. In John’s writing above, the first usage of the title speaks of a future one world ruler while his second usage speaks of present false teachers.

It is important to note the timing that John is speaking of when he says that it is the “last hour.” The last hour is a reference to the time-period between Christ’s first and second coming. John is teaching us that there will be a growing presence of false teachers as we near Christ’s second coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Peter 2:1; and 1 John 4:1 all speak to this as well). In verse 19 we learn that the tactic of these false teachers in the last hour is that they appear to be part of the church when they really are not. The fact they did not persevere in the faith shows they were never true believers.

It is the teaching of these false teachers in verse 22 that contains their danger. They teach heresy regarding the person of Christ by denying the incarnation and deity of Jesus. By denying the Son they also deny the Father. It is these denials which prove them to be liars. These false teachers are not true believers of God. Folks, listen, it is impossible to deny the deity of Christ and be a true believer! It is simply impossible.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Today for one of the High School classes at Lititz Christian School I will be donning my Grandpa Distler’s old preaching robe and reading the text from a message given many years ago (July 8, 1741) during the Great Awakening by a preacher named Jonathan Edwards who lived from 1703-1758. Wikipedia describes this sermon, Sinners in the hands of an Angry God, as follows:

This sermon was the very embodiment of a traditional fire and brimstone sermon of the Great Awakening. Edwards' invoked Biblical and true imagery with the intention of persuading his audience through scripture of their own damnation. Using the truth of scripture was apparently so great that during the sermon Edwards had to ask for silence from the overwhelmed crowd so that he could finish. When performing this sermon, Edwards would read it in a quiet, calm voice that commanded silence from the audience. The subject matter of this sermon was not uncommon for Edwards. Invoking Hellish images was part of a greater arsenal of Gospel topics that Edwards commonly used throughout his catalog of sermons. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a typical sermon of the Great Awakening, emphasizing the belief that Hell is a real and functional place. Edwards hoped that the imagery and message of his sermon would awaken his audience to the horrific reality that awaited them should they continue in their ways. The underlying point, often overlooked in this sermon, is that God has given humanity a chance to rectify their sins.

Here is how Jonathan Edward’s sermon ends:

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now harken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favours to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire. Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Announcing our Executive Pastor

Grace Church continues to be an exciting place to worship and serve the Lord together. I am thrilled at what God is doing and I continue to be dependent on Him as we move forward as a ministry in our efforts to meet people where they are and move them to where God wants them to be.

As we continue to evaluate and improve our ministries as a whole, we have come to the realization that one of our greatest hindrances is the internal structures we have in place as a ministry. The current operating structures we work under were designed back when the church was 400-500 in size. We are now three times that size but we are still functioning under those same outdated structures which create a lot of internal pressure.

As a result, I have shifted the role of Pastor Tim Auld (far left in picture) to the role of Executive Pastor, putting all of the day to day operations of the church under his pastoral leadership. In doing so, I have given Pastor Tim the task of evaluating all of the systems that we function under and adjusting those systems to better fit who we are as a church today and where we are going.

This role will give Pastor Tim oversight of the following areas of our ministry…Church Staff; Office Operations; Finances; Human Resources; and Internal Technology. As Executive Pastor, Tim will be empowering managers over each of these areas to implement that proper structure that is needed. This position will also give Pastor Tim oversight over all adult ministries of our church that are led by lay leaders including Adult Bible Fellowship classes, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, missions and all areas of first impressions.

This will not only allow our ministry to function with greater effectiveness but it will free up more of my time, especially as we move into adding a third worship service in October, to make the preaching, vision casting and long range planning of our ministry a priority. This will also allow me to work directly with Pastor Tim as Executive Pastor of our church ministry and Rick Bernhardt as Senior Administrator of our educational ministry to see our ministry continue to move forward.

Pastor Tim is suited perfect for this position. His passion is leading people and his administrative skills are strong. He has great experience in local church ministry, is completely sold out to our vision as a church and our philosophy of ministry and he also has the respect of our entire staff as well as our congregation as a whole. I believe that Tim will prosper greatly in this position. And in taking this position, Pastor Tim is also communicating that he believes that God has called him to be here at Grace for many years to come. For that, I am very excited and thankful

Please be praying for Pastor Tim as he assumes this new role of leadership here at Grace Church. After all, nothing of eternal importance ever happens apart from prayer.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Just Say NO - A Quick Review

Over the month of August on Sunday mornings here at Grace we have looked at different Biblical examples of individuals who faced personal temptation. Below is a quick review of the main principle we learned from each. If you missed any of these messages be sure to go to our church website (www.lgbc.org) and listen to the audio of these sermons:

Eve – Genesis 3
· Temptation usually comes in disguise
· Temptation becomes more powerful when we do not know well the plan of God
· Temptation is always rooted in a lie
· Temptation casts doubt over God’s character
· Temptation appeals to our natural desires and appetites
· Temptation never stops with us…it always involves others

Christ – Matthew 4 and Luke 4
· Recite Scripture
· Resist the Devil
· Run to God

Joseph – Genesis 39
· Resisting temptation is founded in the priority of your life being your relationship with Christ over the reality of your circumstances
· Resisting temptation can become more difficult with success
· Resisting temptation requires a firm response
· Resisting temptation does not always result with positive immediate results

David – 2 Samuel 11
· A lesson in rising demand
· A lack of routine disciplines
· A look of riveting desire
· A lowering into revealing discussion
· A leap into runaway delight

Last Sunday morning Pastor Tim led in concluding our Just Say NO message series on temptation by looking at the example of Daniel found in Daniel 1. Throughout the month we also took the time to memorize as a church the same verse from Scripture. It is our hope that this corporate exercise will unable each of us to be more equipped to say NO to temptation as it rears its ugly head in our lives:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)