Saturday, October 31, 2009

CCAC Champions - "Who-Ha-Ha"!!

Congratulations to the Lady Eagles Varsity Volleyball Team of Lititz Christian School who swept Bible Baptist Friday evening at Lancaster Bible College to bring the CCAC Chamionship home to LCS WHERE IT BELONGS!

And a special "hats off" to our fans who filled the gym at LBC last night all sported out in their LCS WHO-HA-HA shirts. WHO-HA-HA has become somewhat of a battle cry for our Lady Eagles Volleyball Team. You can hear it after every successful kill on the court and last night it echoed through the gymnasium as a chant during every time out. I have never seen as much school spirit among our student body, faculty and parents as I have recently, especially last night. BUT IT IS NOT OVER YET...the LCS Varsity Volleyball team will be in action this Thursday night out at York Central High School against Hanover High School in the opening round of the District III playoffs. GO EAGLES!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Spiritual Merit in Halloween

What is the history of Halloween? Without question, the history of Halloween is founded in occult themes. There is no debating that. Much of our holiday traditions goes way back to Scotland and Ireland where Druid Priests celebrated a special day in honor of Saman, Lord of the Dead. The belief was that on the eve of this celebration, Saman called together all the souls of those who had died the previous year and who currently inhabited the bodies of animals, to return to their homes. Bon-fires were lit to scare off these spirits and children would dress in costumes to confuse these wandering souls.

Jack-o-lanterns also go back to this era, only they started as large rutabagas, carved with gross faces and lit with candles. This is due to a tale about a man named Jack who was a notorious drunkard but who was also smart. The fable says that when he died, he was turned away from both heaven and hell. As a result, he put a glowing coal into a carved turnip and he has been wandering the earth ever since. Poor Jack!

So should Christians participate in Halloween? I really do not believe there is one “right” or “wrong” answer to that question for every person. Much like the issue of Christians eating meat offering to idols back in the days of the Apostle Paul, we must each follow our own conscience on this one. There is simply not one right answer for every believer. Our family has always put out jack-o-lanterns and participated in trick-or-treating but that does not mean that every Believer should. But is there any merit in Halloween that we can all agree on? I think there definitely is.

In 834 AD, in order to combat these occult practices, Pope Gregory IV moved the church festival of “All Saints Day” to November 1. This was a day to honor all the Saints who had died. The eve of the festival was called, “All Hallows E’en” (E’en is a contraction for evening). So let’s start a new Halloween tradition. Let’s take time to reflect on such great saints. First, we can remember saints of theology. These are individuals from the pages of Scripture whose life message greatly influence us for Jesus still today. For me, this is a man like Joshua who led Israel in possessing the Promised Land.

There are also saints of history. These are individuals who lived in history but are now with the Lord but whose testimony for Christ still impact us today. For me, that includes men like singer/songwriter, Keith Green, (pictured top) whose music kept me focused on God during my teen years, and Dr. Jerry Falwell (pictured middle) who greatly impacted my life through the ministry of Liberty University. Finally, there are saints of family. These would be family members or close friends who are now with Jesus but whose heritage causes us to walk with Jesus today. For me, this is my Grandpa Distler, (pictured bottom) who was a pastor for some 50 years.

You see, even Halloween can become a spiritual beneficial holiday for all of us. After all, it was on Halloween in 1517 that a great man of God named Martin Luther climbed some steps in Germany and posted his “95 Thesis” on the doors of the Wittenberg Church setting off the “Great Reformation.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Construction at Grace - #24

Above are the windows of the new office addition...that will be my office window on the right and Pastor Tim's on the left!
Above is the hallway going from the current lobby down to the Education and Children's Wing of our is getting a complete face lift with new paint and new flooring!

Above is the new family room that is being put in next to our present restrooms in the lobby!

Above is the meeting room where the maintenance office and coat rooms use to be...the walls will all be glass and it will include a gas fireplace!

Above is the new Welcome Center that will be off the main office in the lobby!

Thanksgiving through Easter

Few things bring me greater excitement than prayerfully thinking through the upcoming message series that we will be having here at Grace. A few days ago Pastor Tim and I spent some time strategizing the upcoming message series that will take us from the Thanksgiving holiday through Christmas through Easter. Here is the tentative line-up:

Nov 22-Nov 29: This will be a 2-week series in Philippians 4:4-13 that we are simply calling 4:13. This series will allow us to take a look at 5 words that we must understand and apply to our lives if we are going to experience real, Biblical contentment.

Dec 6-Dec 27: This will be a 4-week Holiday series that we are calling “Avoiding the Christmas Crash.” We will be looking at four passages of Scripture that typically are not used at Christmas time in order to see how we can avoid a Christmas Crash this year when it comes to areas of gift-giving, preparations, family, and the dreaded post-Holiday blues.

Jan 3-Jan 31: This will be a 5-week series that will kick off our Year of Prayer emphasis here at Grace Church. During this month we will see the pattern of Jesus prayer life (Mark 1:35-39). We will see how to pray by imagining prayer as a huge mansion. We will see how to pray for our students. We will see what it means to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2-4). And we will see the need for persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8)

Feb 7-Feb 28: This will be a 4-week series that will also coincide with our Year of Prayer by taking us through the details of the Great Commandment as given by Jesus in Matthew 22:33-40 including loving God and loving others. We will take a closer look at loving our neighbor through the story of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus in Luke 10:25-37 and the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:43-48 regarding loving even our enemies.

Mar 7-Mar 28: This will be our Vision Month here at Grace Church as we look to make the theme of the month “Foundations.” It will be our purpose through this series to see everyone who attends Grace Church take the same four foundational steps needed to help our church continue to effectively fulfill its purpose to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be.

Apr 4: On Palm Sunday we will have a “stand alone” message in which we answer the question, “Why and How should I Fast?” This message will be in preparation for a ministry wide day of Prayer and Fasting that we will have that coming week as we anticipate God doing great things in our Easter services here at Grace.

Apr 11-May 9: Easter Sunday through Mother’s Day we will have a 6-week series on the theme of “No Fear”. We will start on Easter Sunday dealing with the topic of fearing death. The other five areas of fear that we will deal with will be picked by you. On Sunday, November 22nd we will take a survey as part of all three of our morning services here at Grace to find out what areas of your life is creating the most fear for you when you think about the future.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Foyer and Welcome Center - Construction at Grace #24


As you know, Grace Church and Lititz Christian School fully support four Christian Schools for orphans in the Central African Republic. The following is a report we received from our school in Cattin written to us by Ginger Hock, who is the Field Director for Grace Brethren International Missions in the Central African Republic:

"I visited your school today and observed the classes meeting in the new school building. Here's Pastor Laida in front of the building that now has a nice tin roof and wood door and window frames (see picture above). He's still working on the windows in the classroom on the right. Both classes seem to be going well. Pastor Laida asked me to thank you once again for all you have done for the Cattin church and school. He is making a plea to the people in his church to have a little clinic to store medicines just for the orphan school children. This would be mostly worm and malaria medicine to assist the kids when they are feeling poorly. It's really great to see the Church on this side taking responsibility and thinking ahead about what they can do for these kids. I was blessed. Thanks again for all you do and for all your prayers!!!"

How awesome is that? And don’t forget that our Birthday Gift for Jesus project this Christmas will once again go toward our ongoing ministry to these precious orphans in the C.A.R. You can give to this fund throughout the month of December. As always we ask that all giving to these types of special funds be above and beyond your regular giving to the general fund.

Speaking of impacting the world, Mission Team leader here at Grace Church, Mike McCracken, and his wife, Joan, returned to Cambodia on October 26th and will not return home again until November 11. They are there for the Community Transformation Ministries (CTM) Summit. Since the founding of CTM it has been the vision and intention that it becomes a ministry with an Asia-wide focus. To this point, CTM’s ministries have been focused entirely in Cambodia. This Summit is designed to assemble all of the people who have been involved in development ministries throughout Asia and of those who will be involved in the future. This is a momentous event. This expansion and improvement of CTM at this time will profit immeasurably in its efforts to make disciples and plant churches throughout Asia, in particular the poorer countries of SE and East Asia.

Mike and Joan have been a very important part of the development of CTM over a number of years and a big part of the success and advancement of CTM in Cambodia. It is also the intention of the McCrackens to stay involved in CTM in the future. Since this Summit is such a significant event in the strategic advancement of Asia ministries, and since Mike and Joan factor large in the future development of CTM ministries, it is extremely important and beneficial that they are part. We have budget monies each year in our Missions area for Mike and Joan’s continued ministry abroad as ambassadors of Grace Church. Please be praying for Mike and Joan while they are gone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Construction at Grace - #23


For months and months now we have been pouring enormous amounts of time, energy and strategy into a new website here at Grace Church and we are now counting down the days until we unviel it. We are so excited! We know that it is going to flat blow you away! Look for Grace Church's new website in just 24 days!!!! It will be unveiled on November 20th.

That day is also important for two other reasons!

First, it is the day that I, dressed as SUPERMAN, will participate outside no matter what the weather in our Race for Education for Lititz Christian School. My personal goal is to raise $20,000 in sponsors. See my blog from yesterday for more information.

Second, there is great cause to believe that the renovation of the foyer (not the cafe, just the foyer) will be finished by that weekend as well. That is also going to blow you away as well!


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Back in June of 2008 I dressed up in a full SUPERMAN costume to preach as part of our Super Heroes message series. I promised myself that I would never put the blue spandex and red cape back on ever again. Now, I am breaking that promise. I can tell you that to get me back in that costume would take something very important.

MorningStar Childcare and Lititz Christian School (LCS) are important and effective ministries of Grace Church. I have seen the value of these ministries day in and day out as a pastor and as a parent who has had two kids attend. But as you can imagine, the economic downturn of our country has provided challenges for all private education institutions. The administration of LCS has worked hard to make cuts and sacrifices, but even with this, in order to meet their budget they must raise still $250,000.

As a result, I have made the personal commitment to take it upon myself as the leader of our overall ministry to "jumpstart" their drive to raise this $250,000. On November 20th, our Educational Ministries will be holding its annual Race for Education fund-raiser in which our students spend the morning walking and/or running, getting sponsors who make pledges toward their walking/running per lap or at a flat donation. I have committed to participate in this year's Race for Education and to do so once again wearing the SUPERMAN outfit.

But I believe that leadership should go "above and beyond" (or in SUPERMAN'S case, "up, up and away!"). This year's event, because it is being held later in the year than usual, will be held indoors. NOT ME! I am committing to do my "walking" (sorry, not only will you not see SUPERMAN fly, you will not see him run either) outside no matter what the weather. Rain, sleet, hail, cold, snow, blizzard, hurricane, doesn't matter. If SUPERMAN can leap tall buildings in a single bound, I can do my walking outside in whatever weather there might be (but please pray with me that God would give us a warm, sunny November day on the 20th so SUPERMAN doesn't catch pneumonia).

I have set a personal goal of raising $20,000 in sponsors for my participating in our Race for Education as SUPERMAN. For this to happen, I could really use your help. As a reader of this blog, whether you are part of our ministry here at Grace or not, would you consider sponsoring me in my SUPER HERO participation in our Race for Education and help me to personally raise $20,000 for our school? I am not doing the "per lap" angle of the fund-raiser (SUPERMAN isn't in the best of shape right now), I am just doing the flat donations. To make your pledge, simply e-mail me ( letting me know the amount of your pledge. Your donation is tax-deductible and you will receive a tax receipt for it. You can then send your donation, made out to Lititz Christian School, at anytime between now and the end of November to Lititz Christian School; 501 W Lincoln Ave; Lititz, PA 17543.

I have already asked our Church Elders, Church Staff and our Board of Education members, along with a few friends, to sponsor me and have already received 29 sponsors totalling $7,260.00! That is just over one-third of the way to my goal already! Only $12,740.00 to go!

So thank you in advance for helping me and our Educational Ministries! And it goes go without saying that I would ask that you not take any monies away from your normal giving to the church you attend for this event. I look forward to receiving your e-mail.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How can I help you?

Last month I blogged about our Executive Pastor here at Grace Church, Tim Auld, taking our ministry staff and managers through Andy Stanley’s video series, Becoming a Great Staff. Last month we saw that a great staff is made up of great leaders and that the goal of that staff should be to have a culture characterized by mutual submission. This is a culture where the question is constantly asked of each other, “What can I do to help?”

Stanley than gave some best practices for creating this kind of great staff. Last month he talked about and I blogged about the principle, “Do for one when you can’t do for all.” This week we met again and looked at four more of these best practices for creating a great staff culture that is characterized by mutual submission. Here they are:

The second practice is to systematize top down service. Stanley said that random acts of kindness and service are not enough in ministry. Notice, he didn’t say that random acts of kindness were bad, just that they are not enough. We need to build top down service into the rhythm of our organization. This is the type of top down service that Jesus advocated in Mark 10:32-45 as we saw last month.

The third practice to ask the following question in response to your staff’s key objectives, “How can I help you?” We are good at demanding objectives from our staff and letting them know it when they don’t fulfill them, but when was the last time as a leader that one of my staff brought me their goals and objectives and I said, “Great, now what is one thing that I personally as the Senior Pastor of this ministry, can do to help you accomplish this task?” That is powerful. I confessed to our staff that instead of asking, “How can I help you,” I tend to say, “Now here is how I will help you!” I wonder how many times they have thought inside, “Oh, no! That is going to make my life so much more difficult, please don’t help me like that!” Maybe I should have asked.

The fourth practice is to create and maintain a sustainable pace. Without margin, there is no room to serve each other. When people are under pressure they become very self-centered. Without margin, we end up seeking our own kingdoms rather than His kingdom. Remember, this thing we are in is a marathon, not a sprint.

And the fifth practice Stanley gave to build this kind of a great staff is to celebrate and reward greatness. Now remember again what greatness is according to Mark 10. When you serve when you don’t have to serve, that’s greatness. Reward this kind of service when you see it in your ministry and among your staff. Stanley said that one of the most important leadership phrases in the entire world is this, “What’s rewarded is repeated!” Let me reward you by repeating that, “What’s rewarded is repeated!” You deserve another reward so let me say it again, “What’s rewarded is repeated!” So with that in mind, who do you need to reward? Who do you need to write a note of thanks to? Who served you this week when they didn’t have to do it? Who made your life a little bit easier this week, expecting nothing in return?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our Youngest Turns 18 Today

Everyone would agree that turning 18 is one of those milestones of life. But this milestone is multiplied when the person turning 18 is your youngest child. Today is my son, Jonathan’s, 18th birthday. That’s right. Laura and I are right on the doorstep of the season of life called “Empty Nest” as we watch our children go from the realm of teenagers into the realm of adulthood.

Jonathan is a senior this year here at Lititz Christian School. Come the beginning of this approaching summer, he will graduate from High School. Come the end of this approaching summer and he will begin his first year in college. Jonathan has always been the personality who has brought us many laughs as a child and as a teenager. Now we will get to laugh with him (and quite often at him) as he enters to world of adulthood. How cool!

Come August, Jonathan will be attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where his sister, Joy, is currently finishing her sophomore year. Since Laura and I are both graduates of Liberty (I also got my masters through Liberty’s correspondence program) we are thrilled to see our kids spending their college career on Liberty Mountain. Some might think that since we are alumni that we directed our kids to Liberty. That is nowhere near reality. Our kids chose Liberty completely on their own accord. Obviously, I’m glad. Personally, I don’t see why anyone would go anywhere else, but obviously I’m quite biased.

Jonathan has always had a soft heart. He was always the one who looked out for the underdog and wanted to befriend the person who didn’t make friends real easily. From the youngest of ages, Jonathan would find a friend in a matter of moments no matter where we went, from church to the Playland at McDonalds.

Jonathan has a love for music. He loves to play guitar. He loves to sing. He loves to write songs. He loves to worship. And he is rather good at all of these. I have always loved to watch my son play sports but nothing brings me greater joy than watching him lead worship. No wonder John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to see my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Jonathan will be a Worship Arts Major at Liberty. He is really sensing a call on his life to be a Worship Arts Director or Worship Pastor. I can see that call developing in his life as well and it greatly excites me.

18 years ago today I held him in my arms for the first time. Now we start the process of officially letting him go. But that doesn’t sadden me. It really doesn’t. It actually excites me. You see, that is how it is supposed to be. That is how God intended it. In reality, Jonathan isn’t mine. He belongs 100% to God. 18 years ago today God gave Laura and I Jonathan, not to possess, but as good stewards, to raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord so that He would ultimately fulfill the very plan that God has for his life. The last 18 years have been fun. But now the real fun begins…watching Jonathan accomplish God's plan for his life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Floor is Poured - Construction at Grace #21

Leading Through Uncertainty - FLEXIBILITY

Yesterday in my blog was the first part of my summary of Andy Stanley’s (pictured) talk at Lancaster Bible College last Friday on the topic of, "Leading Through Times of Uncertainty." We saw that uncertainty is a permanent part of leadership. We saw that uncertainty is why we need leadership. We also saw that God is very active and recognizable in times of uncertainty. We then begin to look at the two words that characterize our leadership in times of uncertainty. Yesterday, we discussed the first word which was "clarity."

Today let me complete the summary by talking about the second key word which is FLEXIBILITY. As we saw yesterday, our vision must remain clear and stay the same but we must understand that our plans can change. The problem is that we tend to confuse our vision with our pans. In times of uncertainty, plans fail and when they do we then feel like failures. We must remember that plans fail but even when they do our vision stays the same. That is where flexibility comes in. We should be infatuated with our plans but we should be in love with our vision.

Stanley then wrapped up his session with three final applications. Here they are:

First, be honest with your leaders and your followers. In other words, don’t pretend to know what you don’t know. Learn to confidently express your uncertainty. Respond like this, “I don’t know right now but we are going to figure it out.” Or say, “I don’t know right now but God has always been faithful and He will lead us in this one too.” Those statements express true uncertainty but it does so with confidence.

Second, seek counsel. Leadership is not making decisions on your own but owning the decisions you make. No matter how smart and successful you are you still need to listen and to learn. Isn’t it interesting that the person in the Bible who talked about wisdom the most was the person who needed it the least…Solomon.

Third, pray for wisdom all along the way. That needs no further explanation.

When the session was over, I then had the privilege to be one of 12 people to have lunch with Andy Stanley. We sat around the table in the President’s Dining Room at Lancaster Bible College and for nearly two hours we were able to discuss with Andy all kinds of issues facing the church and church leaders. It was awesome!

My questions to Andy centered around his process of message preparation. I was interested to learn that Andy starts with a team that comes up with the main concept of a series. Then he meets with his creative team (a totally different group of people from his concept team) to discuss the creative elements that can be used for the series. Then it is Andy’s job to put the content into it. Content comes last. My process has always been just the opposite. I always start with the concept, then add the content, then go to my creative team. Now that is something for me to think about!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Construction at Grace - #20

Leading Through Uncertainty - CLARITY

Last Friday I had the opportunity to hear Andy Stanley (pictured) speak at the Leadership Business Conference at Lancaster Bible College. Andy is the Sr Pastor at North Point Community Church in Atlanta with 22,000 people attending three campuses. In my opinion he is one of the most effective communicators of our day. He spoke on the topic of “Leading through Times of Uncertainty." What a timely topic as anyone who is leading today is leading through uncertain times. Let me use my blog today and tomorrow to try to summarize Stanley’s main points as I heard them and as I wrote them down.

Uncertainty is a permanent part of leadership. We will always be dealing with uncertainty because we always have limited knowledge. Why do we have limited knowledge? We have limited knowledge because we don’t know the future. It is a myth to think that if I were a good leader I would always know exactly what to do. The fact is that uncertainty does not equal poor leadership. Uncertainty is why we need leadership. If there were no uncertainty there would no need for leaders.

God is often most active and most recognizable in times of great uncertainty. Even though life is uncertain, God is not uncertain. We have the opportunity as leaders to leverage uncertainty to the glory of God. In times of uncertainty we have the opportunity as leaders to lead with hope to the glory of God. History, what we would see as the good parts and the bad parts of it, is all about the glory of God. Our ultimate goal as leaders is to figure out how God is glorified in times of uncertainty.

So what do we do as leaders in times of uncertainty? Stanley gave two words which characterize our leadership in times of uncertainty. The first key word is CLARITY. We can afford to be uncertain but we cannot afford to be unclear. The more uncertain times get the clearer we should be about why we are doing what we do.

When Joshua took over leadership from Moses God told him to lead Israel across the Jordan and to take possession of the land He had promised to them. Now up to this point all they had done for the past 40 years was wander. I’m sure that when Joshua gave them the new marching orders there was a lot of uncertainty. But Joshua made sure that they all knew very clearly what the vision was. There were many questions to be answered but one things was immovable…their vision. They were crossing the Jordan.

Uncertainty brings about emotion. As a result it is easy to lose our clarity and make some real bad decisions. We must remember that clarity will trump uncertainty every single time. When times are uncertain, we must retreat back to our vision. One thing must remain crystal clear and that is what we came together to do. That is why having a clear vision is essential. The clearer the vision the easier it is to bring clarity.

Andy Stanley shared the vision of their church that they keep clear. From the very beginning they were in it to, "Create a church that unchurched people loved to attend."

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Back in June of 2008 I actually preached a sermon as part of our Super Heroes message series here at Grace Church dressed in a full SUPERMAN outfit. If you were here, I am sure that the image of me in that blue outfit with the red boots and cape and the big red "S" on my chest is seared into your mind forever.

It created quite the response as it found its way on to literally dozens of blogs all across the country. Well, guess what? It is possible that


Now, I won't be preaching as the x-ray vision wonder this time. It will be something else. Something really big and something really important.

That's it for now. In the very near will here more!

But for now,

UP, UP and AWAY!!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Going to the NLCS

Sunday night I get to go to Citizen's Bank Park for Game Three of the NLCS. I have been able to go to the first round of the playoffs twice in my life (last year in Philly against the Dodgers and a few years prior to that in Atlanta when the Braves played the Astros) but I have never been to an ALCS or NLCS so I am pumped!

Now I am a one team fan, loyal to the end to my Cleveland Indians, but I will be cheering for the Phillies Sunday night! I'm hoping Cliff Lee will be ptiching. After all, he was the Cy Young winner with my Indians just last year!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Feeling Intimidated

It’s weird. I can stand in front of a crowd of hundreds and preach without feeling the least bit uncomfortable. In fact, it fires me up. I love to preach. I would do it every day if some of you knuckleheads would come hear me. Some would look at my confidence and aggressiveness as a public speaker and think that I must always feel that way. But the truth is I don’t always feel that way. While I am very relaxed and at home speaking in front of a crowd, I often struggle being in smaller circles, especially if it is with people that I consider true leaders. In fact, as loud and boisterous as I am when I preach, I am just the opposite in smaller circles. I tend to just sit, listen and learn without saying a whole lot. Why? Because believe it or not, I am easily intimidated.

It happened again just recently. I was invited to participate in a meeting with four very effective leaders. I have to be honest. Good, bad or indifferent, I was intimidated. I did not say one word for the entire two hours. I sat in amazement at the dialogue that was going on in the room. I took four pages of notes of phenomenal questions that were being asked and answered. It was awesome to participate in this. But then again, I really didn’t participate…I just listened.

Seriously, I am intimidated being in a small group with businessmen and leaders. My hands were sweating and my mouth was dry and all I did was listen. I mean these four men could run circles around me when it came to leadership. The more they talked the more I soaked up what was being said but the more intimidated I became.

Finally, at the end of the two hours I decided that I better say something. I mean, what would these guys think if I was the only one who didn’t say one word in the entire 2-hour meeting. So, I swallowed hard and spoke up. It started something like this…

“Well, you obviously realize that I haven’t said anything. That’s mainly because I am really intimidated…”

Wait a minute. Did I really say that? The only feeling that is more uncomfortable than feeling intimidated is publicly admitting it! I went on to give my one nugget of wisdom, hoping that it would actually make sense to these amazing leaders that sat around the table. Now don’t get me wrong. I loved being in that meeting. I’m not sure I really fulfilled the purpose for why I was invited but I learned so much and I have found that its being in those times when I feel intimidated that I find myself being stretched and grown.

So, why do I share all this in my blog for the world to read? Simple. It was a great reminder that what you see on the outside of a person may not always be the case on the inside. I may look like a confident leader when you watch and listen to me preach on Sunday morning, but the truth is that I struggle with insecurity when it comes to my own leadership. I really do. I may be comfortable in front of a crowd of hundreds, but put me in a room around a table with a handful of real leaders and it’s a whole other story.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Year of Living like Jesus

I am currently reading a very intriguing book by a man named Ed Dobson called, “The Year of Living Like Jesus.” If you want to be stretched while being entertained at the same time, grab this book. It’s worth the read.

Dr Dobson was one of my professors and mentors at Liberty University when I was there. Laura used to babysit his kids and my roommate and I once stained the outside of the log cabin he lived in with his family. He was one of the most conservative men I had ever met and without question was and still remains the best preacher I have ever heard. I lived for Sunday nights in college because Dr Dobson spoke in the service on campus. After he left Liberty and started pastoring Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, I watched his sermons each and every week. Dr Dobson is no longer in full-time vocational ministry due mainly to the fact that he is currently fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Being inspired By A.J Jacobs book, The Year of Biblical Living (which I also have read and thoroughly enjoyed), Dr Dobson decided to take a full year and live exactly like Jesus would have lived as a Jewish man in the culture of that day. This is no easy task living in our culture today. His experiences are amazing.

I have to admit that there are times throughout the book where I get uneasy. Dr Dobson really struggled with what exactly Jesus prayed. He used many prayer tools today including praying the Catholic rosary as well as the Orthodox Church’s Prayer Rope. When he first started down that path, I became very uncomfortable. But as I have kept reading I have found my guard actually coming down a bit. I’m not sure if I will end up trying the rosary or the prayer rope as I still have some real issues with that, but I am definitely not as opposed to the idea as I was at the beginning of the book.

One thing the book has challenged me to do is to quit simply reading the Psalms and start praying the Psalms. After all, they were written as prayers. If you prayed five Psalms a day you would pray through the Psalms in just 30 days. I may just try that one.

Along with living like Jesus for a year, Dr Dobson also read through all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) every week. Now that is quite the undertaking. But what better way is there to really learn as much as we can about how Jesus lived? Dr Dobson has made some interesting points as a result that I hadn’t realized. For example, never once in any of the four Gospels does Jesus ever mention homosexuality.

Among many other things, living like Jesus for a year also took Dr Dobson into bars to have a beer and talk to people there about Jesus. It also resulted in his voting for Barak Obama in the last general election. I believe that was the first time in his life that he ever voted for a democrat. As you can see, the book is intriguing. There are times I have laughed. There are times I have gotten frustrated. And there are times I have really had to think. If you ask me, that is what makes a book worth the read.