Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Construction at Grace - #12

What Stinks on Stage?




This is going to be a transparent posting of something personal. Some people in the church seem to get uptight whenever their pastor gets transparent. If you are that type of person, QUIT READING NOW!!

So last Sunday during our second morning worship service I am preaching and as I am I keep getting a whiff of some really horrible body odor. As I am preaching I am thinking to myself, “Somebody on the front row or two did not put on any deodorant this morning and they really stink!” I mean it was seriously distracting me.

I have to be honest. While I am preaching I am studying the people on the front two rows trying to decide who the culprit might be (I don’t know if there was any type of politically incorrect profiling taking place on my part or not). I had it narrowed down to two or three possibilities and was leaning heavily in one specific direction. The whole time I am thinking to myself, “Gee whiz, mister, how about a shower and some deodorant.” I was thinking that maybe an anonymous gift of some “soap on a rope” might be helpful.

OK, let me say it again…WARNING!!



So about halfway through the message I realize that the odorous smell was a little closer to me than I originally thought. That’s when it hit me. Is it possible that this man in serious need of a “soap on a rope” and some Right Guard could actually be me? I proceeded to pretend to use my shoulder to wipe my face just so I could investigate to see. That’s when the evidence became clear in my nostrils.

IT WAS ME!!! I totally forgot to put on my deodorant after I showered that morning. Preaching during the first service got my sweat glands in motion and halfway through the second service I was the one giving off the offensive smell. So as soon as I got done preaching, before the service let out for me to greet people, I ran back to my office where I put on some Speed Stick that I had stashed and soaked the armpits of my shirt with some cologne that was sitting on my desk. Now I was set for the third worship service!

Hmmmm….I wonder if I owe an apology to the man up front that I thought was the guilty one?!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Construction at Grace - #11

Touchdown Dances

I think it all started with a player from the old Houston Oilers named Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. After that came the “Icky Shuffle” named after a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals. Now, it’s not just touchdown dances, it’s amazing, and sometimes absurd, antics. For example:

In Green Bay they have what’s called the Lambeau Leap. Whenever a Packer scores a touchdown, they leap into the stands where they are temporarily mobbed by the fans.

When Randy Moss played for the Vikings he turned his back to the fans at Green Bay and mimicked as if he were mooning them.

After scoring a touchdown for the New Orleans Saints, Joe Horn grabbed a cell phone which he had hidden in the padding of the goal post and preceded to call his mom.

Terrell Owens, as a 49er, took out a Sharpie marker after scoring a touchdown, autographed the ball, and then gave the ball to a man in the front row. The man happened to be his agent.

I like what legendary coach, Paul Brown, said when these elaborate end zone celebrations started. He told his team, “If you get in the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

My favorite story comes from the Oakland Raiders who going into November had scored the fewest touchdowns in the NFL. That week in practice they actually practiced their end zone celebrations. Then on Sunday they hosted the Atlanta Falcons. The final score was 24-0 in favor of Atlanta. Imagine that! Maybe if they had spent less time practicing how to celebrate in the end zone and spent more practice time on getting into the end zone, there may have been a different outcome.

But isn’t that how it is with many church-goers today? They are simply practicing Christianity. They are simply going through the motions of religion but they have never truly put their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone for their forgiveness of sin and their eternal life. So where are you? Are you practicing Christianity or have you truly put your faith in Jesus and are now following Him, evidenced by spiritual fruit and a changed life.

Now in football, end zone antics following touchdowns have resulted in penalties and even some hefty fines. But when it comes to God’s end zone there are no penalties for excessive celebration. In fact, Jesus taught that every time someone truly puts their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone for their salvation, there is celebration in the presence of the angels in heaven (I guess we could call that the ultimate sky box). After all, coming to faith in Christ, knowing you are forgiven, and receiving God’s free gift of eternal life is a score worth celebrating for all of eternity.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Construction at Grace - #10

Fourth and Goal - TOUCHDOWN!

All month long here at Grace Church we have studied the parable of the sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13 by seeing how the story may have looked had it been told in a football setting. In this parable we have seen that there are three major elements. There is the sower who represents anyone who spreads the message of Jesus. There is the seed which represents the Word of God or the Gospel. And then there is the soil which represents the heart of man as he responds to the message of Jesus he hears. In a football context, the sower would be the quarterback; the seed would be the football; and the four different kinds of soil would be four receivers or four pass plays.

Over the first three weeks of this series we saw the first three types of soil that Jesus described. First, there was the seed that fell beside the road that we said described the indifferent heart. If this were a football pass play it would be the one that results in an interception. Second, there is the seed that fell on rocky places which described the impulsive heart. This would be the pass play that results in an incompletion. Third, there was the seed that fell among the thorns, or the indulgent heart. This would be the pass play that is called back due to a penalty.

Last Sunday we concluded our series by studying the seed that fell on the good soil. In the parable this was soil that was away from the path and was soft and loose. It had sufficient depth to support its root systems and it was free of thorns and weeds. As a result, this is the only soil that results in a harvest. According to Jesus, some of the harvest was thirty fold, some sixty fold; and some a hundredfold. It is interesting to note that in Palestine during the time of the New Testament, the average ratio of harvested grain seeds to those that were planted is said to have been less than eight to one. Even a ten to one crop would have been above average. Jesus was speaking of a phenomenal harvest

This soil represents the intelligent heart. It is the one who hears the word and understands it. This is the only soil of the four that bears spiritual fruit (Matthew 13:23b). This fruit can be evidenced in many different ways including winning souls to Christ (Romans 1:13); practical holiness (Romans 6:22); sharing material things (Romans 15:27); the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); good works (Colossians 1:10); praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15); and righteousness (Philippians 1:11)

According to Jesus, we will bear fruit abundantly. Not all bear fruit in the same quantities (hundredfold, sixty, thirty…Mt 13:23), but the Christian is to constantly bear fruit (Colossians 1:6). The Psalmist described one who delights in the Word as being like a tree planted by streams of water that produces fruit (Psalm 1:2-3). True conversion cannot be kept a secret.

So in football terms, this is the only pass play of the four that results in a touchdown. This is the only one that puts points on the board. In spiritual terms, this is the only heart that finds true salvation, true forgiveness of sin and true eternal life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why We Do CONNECT Groups

Beginning in October, we start a new series here at Grace Church that we are calling, GRACE MATTERS! This series will take us through the first 3 chapters in the book of Ephesians. Not only will we see that the GRACE of God matters, but we will also see that God saved us for far more than just heaven. He also saved us to be part of this wonderful thing we call the church. So in that case, GRACE Church matters as well.

During this series (that will last through November 15th) we are going to be going over the main teaching of the passage in our Sunday morning services. We then are encourgaing everyone to get into one of our small groups that we call CONNECT groups, just for 8 weeks, where the practical aspects of the passage will be discussed throughout the week.

Why are we encoruaging everyone to get into a CONNECT Group? Our Pastor of Connections, Steve Burghart, answers that question below:

At Grace Church, we define our mission in the world according to the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20) and the Great Commandment (Mt. 22:36-40). We are all about Meeting people wherever they are and Moving them to where God wants them to be. That means that we are here to make disciples of Jesus Christ and a disciple is characterized as a person who loves God, loves people, and seeks to serve in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. We believe that group life is where we can most effectively meet all of these requirements of the church.

Our faith is a relational, communal faith. We have to learn how to love, even unlovable people, like God loves, something radically different than anything experienced in the world. But it’s clear that this was Jesus’ desire for His church. In His prayer for us just before going to the cross, Jesus prayed,

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

The glory given to Christ by the Father was His mission in the world, to seek and save the lost. That glory was given to His church in the Great Commission. And the foundation of that mission is divinely-created community characterized by love as described in the Great Commandment.

Since God intends that we would learn what Jesus taught and live in loving relationship, we need to get life-on-life with others who are travelling this pathway toward faithfulness. This can’t be accomplished purely on Sunday morning. This needs to be integrated into our entire life. And, since Jesus’ desire is that the world would see our love, it makes sense that we should practice loving each other where the world will likely see it, namely in the world.

Therefore, at Grace Church, we pursue faithfulness to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through solid biblical preaching and teaching on Sunday mornings AND committed group life during the week where we seek to help one another grow in the faith as we encourage one another to continually move in the direction God has set for us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Construction at Grace - #9


We have done a lot of work and are very proud of our live stream here at Grace Church. Each Sunday, our 10am service is streamed lived on the web ( We have been amazed at how God is using it and you will be amazed at the quality of it. Below is what one of our church members wrote after watching the live stream for the first time last Sunday. Please note that in his e-mail WAM stands for Worship Arts Ministry

Pastors & WAM Members (Instead of WAM it should be WOW!)

Sunday was the first time I ever watched church via the net, while I was home taking care of my 84 yr. old mom. WOW is what I kept thinking as I watched the church I am blessed to be a part of.

David you did a wonderful job for your 1st service. The drums & the playing sounded crisp and rich; the vocals beautiful and in harmony as are the singers; the music beautiful, blended, & in-time; the lighting and web cast beautiful and easy on the eyes – (i.e., to follow what was being presented); and the message was, as usual, OK…..just kidding…Wonderful!! Scott, the depth and down-to-earth style of your preaching is what attracted and has kept me at Grace.

WOW – I am honored to be a part of such talented people in such a straight-shooting, Bible based place. Thank each of you for letting me work with you.

We also received the following note not long ago about our live stream from a man who cannot attend right now due to chemo treatments:

Thank you for today's message from the Word. I am always encouraged by your ability to break down the Scriptures into bite sized portions that anyone can understand and incorporate into their lives. I am also encouraged by your live web cast. Although I am currently unable to attend the services because of illness; I can still actively participate in the service.

So, if you don’t attend Grace Church, we invite you to watch our live stream every Sunday at 10am Pennsylvania time. (

If you do attend Grace Church but are unable to be here some Sunday due to sickness or travel, then be sure to tune in to the 10 am live stream (

Be sure to tell everyone you know about our live stream. This is a way that we can meet people right where they are (literally, all over the world) and help move them to where God wants them to be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Construction at Grace - #8

DO for ONE when you can't DO for ALL

Yesterday I started an overview of the video series by Andy Stanley called, Becoming a Great Leader, that our ministry leaders and managers here at Grace Church are going through together. We started with an overview of Biblical leadership that says if you want to be great, you must first be a servant.

Based on this, what is the goal of a staff in order to become a great staff? Stanley says that the goal is a staff culture characterized by mutual submission. In other words, not everyone is to be equal on the organizational chart but everyone is to be mutually submissive to everyone on the organizational chart. The question that we must always be asking is, “How can I serve you?” We must create a culture where we are regularly asking each other, “What can I do to help?”

This can be difficult in our culture today. Listen, the higher you go up in the organization today, the harder you must work at being mutually submissive. Today’s view of leadership says that the higher you are the more you are to be served by those under you. Jesus’ words on leadership was a complete paradigm shift.

So how do we put this into practice? How do we “flesh it out”? One way Stanley gives is to begin to do for one when you can’t do for all. This again is a paradigm shift. We tend to do the opposite. The higher we go up in position, the more excuses we have for not doing something for one person because we can’t do it for everyone. For example:

I can’t visit everyone who is in the hospital so I won’t visit anyone in the hospital.

I can’t get everyone on my staff a laptop, so I won’t get anyone a laptop.

I can’t go to everyone in my church’s wedding, so I won’t go to anyone’s wedding.

Instead, Stanley says, we should practice symbolic leadership. Symbolic leadership says I will do for one what I wish I could do for everyone.

But wait. Is that fair? Is it fair for me to do something for one person in my church if I can’t do it for everyone? Is it fair for me to do something for one person on my staff if I can’t do the same thing for everyone on may staff?

Here is how Stanley answers it. He says don’t try to be fair. He then adds that fairness is not a Biblical value and that fairness is the enemy of rightness. Now, I have to be honest. When he first made this statement, I cringed. Did I believe that? Should I strive to be fair? Is fairness completely absent as a Biblical value? Is fairness really the enemy of rightness? Is it possible to be both fair and right? I’m chewing on all of these questions.

What say you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Construction at Grace - #7

A Great STAFF is Made Up of Great LEADERS

Tim Auld, our Executive Pastor here at Grace Church, is taking our ministry leaders and managers through the video teaching of Andy Stanley called, Becoming a Great Staff. In session #1 we learned that a great staff is made up of great leaders. But what is Biblical leadership? We see it presented clearly in Mark 10:32-45.

This passage begins as Jesus and His disciples are walking to Jerusalem during which Jesus announces to them that when they get there, He was going to be betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, spit on, flogged, killed, and then 3 days later rise again. Now how would you imagine these men who had left everything to follow Jesus responding to such shocking news? Would you see them crying? Would you see them begging Jesus not to continue to Jerusalem? So how did they respond? According to verse 23, James and John immediately take Jesus aside and respond with these words, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

Excuse me? Did they not hear what Jesus just said? And what was it that they wanted from Jesus? They wanted Him to promise that when He came to glory that they would be second in command with Him. Imagine the gall of these two that were nicknamed, “Sons of Thunder.” Mark tells us that when the other ten heard about this (I wonder how they heard) they were indignant. Why? It wasn’t because they were offended on Jesus’ behalf. It was because they hadn’t thought of it first.

Jesus calls them all together and reminds them of the world’s view of greatness. In the world, “the large are in charge.” Those who are great rule and lord over those who are underneath them. Then Jesus announces, “This is not to be the case with you who will be those who lead my church that is about ready to be launched!” Now Jesus offers a whole different paradigm for leadership. He is basically saying, “Don’t do it the way it has been modeled before you all your life.” Jesus goes on and says that whoever wants to be great must first be a servant and whoever wants to be first must first be slave of all.

Notice, He does not say it is wrong to want to be a leader. It is not wrong to desire to be great. Nor is He saying that there shouldn’t be leaders. There is a growing popular movement today that says that we should simply level out the organizational chart and make everyone equal in leadership. That is not what Jesus was saying. Jesus was teaching that if you desire to be great, then you must first be a servant. He then gave Himself as the ultimate example. Even though He was the Son of Man, He did not come to be served but to serve others. If Jesus did not come to be served, church leaders are not to be served either. And too what extent is this true? Jesus did so to the extent that He laid down His life as a ransom for many. That’s Biblical leadership.

Based on this, what is the goal of a church staff in order to become a great staff? Stanley says that the goal is a staff culture characterized by mutual submission. What’s that look like? I’ll share more in my blog tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Construction at Grace - #6


Each week during our TOUCHDOWN JESUS message series here at Grace Church there have been many tailgate parties going on. The one last Sunday was unbelievable. After all, what can be better than Brutus the Buckeye being here with us at Grace Church!