Friday, April 30, 2010

Financial Failure

Question #1 – Do you have any financial concerns at all?

Question #2 – Could you use some more money?

Chances are good that most of you answered YES to both of these questions. So how should we respond to our fear of financial failure? That’s what we will talk about this Sunday at Grace Church as we continue our “Face Your Fears” message series by looking at the fear of financial failure.

We will begin by looking at an instruction given by Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21. These words were directed toward the Pharisees who believed that God blessed materially those He loved. This justified their tendency to stockpile their wealth. In reaction to this, Jesus says not to store up for yourselves earthly treasures. An earthly treasure would be anything that is tangible and has a price tag. Jesus was teaching against the idea of stockpiling or hoarding. The scope of Jesus' words deals with the selfish accumulation of tangible things or extravagant living to the exclusion of others. After all, what happens to earthly treasures? The finest clothes made of wool would be eaten by moths. The grain was eaten by rats, worms or other insects (“rust” is literally “eating”…see Rom 14:17; I Cor 8:4; II Cor 9:10). Other objects were stolen by thieves that break in and steal (“break in” = “to dig” as valuables were buried for hiding).

In contrast to this, what should our priority be? We should be storing up that which is eternal. Now this is definitely a “good news/bad news” scenario. The good news is the fact that earthly treasures are temporary while that which is eternal is permanent. If we will make eternal treasures a priority over earthly treasures we will be able to enjoy these treasures much longer. The bad news is the fact that earthly treasures are able to be obtained immediately while that which is eternal is often postponed. But we must choose carefully because according to Jesus, whatever we choose as our priority will be what controls us (James 4:4). The location of our treasure will indicate the priority of our heart.

In Mark 12, we see an illustration of this. In verses 41-42, Jesus was observing how the people gave. By the way, Jesus still observes how people give today. He and the disciples saw many wealthy people who gave large amounts. Then they saw a poor widow who gave two small copper coins. These were the smallest bronze Jewish coins in circulation. Together they equal ¼ of a cent in our money system today. Jesus made this observation. The widow gave more than all of the wealthy givers before her who had put in great sums of money. How can this be true? This is true because the others gave out of their wealth with little sacrifice. She gave out of her poverty, showing dependence on God. The fact is that God places value on whole-hearted commitment, not the amount of one’s financial portfolio.

So let me conclude with a statement that you will most likely disagree with and which just might make you angry, but here it is anyway. Maybe it’s not financial failure we should fear. Maybe, just maybe, we should be more afraid of financial success. Maybe it’s our financial success that hinders our walk with God more than our financial failure does. Give it some thought.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Keeping a Prayer Journal

As part of our 2010 Year of Prayer we are doing a monthly prayer challenge together as a church family that is designed to help improve our prayer lives individually and corporately. During the month of May we are asking everyone who is part of our ministry here at Grace Church to keep a personal prayer journal.

Why Keep a Prayer Journal?

A prayer journal keeps you focused during prayer. Have you ever been praying and the next thing you know, you are thinking about something totally off topic? God wants our prayer time to be focused on Him. Writing your prayers down does just that - It keeps you focused. A prayer journal is a great way to build your faith! When you are going through a trial you can read through all of the times God came through for you and be reminded of all the answered prayers in your own life. It is a ready reminder of God’s faithfulness when you need it most.

Over time, a prayer journal will develop into a beautiful love story between you and the Lord. Your prayer journal can become a historical document that chronicles your entire walk with God. It will hold the truths that He reveals to your heart throughout your journey with Him. This written documentation of God's great provision for you and your family through the years will also become an heirloom to pass on to future generations.

How Do I Keep a Prayer Journal?

Choose something that feels comfortable to write in. Experiment with side-bound and top-bound books, as well as lined and unlined paper. Some people do not feel comfortable writing on a thick pad of paper, so a slimmer notebook would be a better choice if this describes your preference. You can use anything from a spiral-bound notebook to a fancy logbook with a tooled-leather binding.

Choose a writing implement that is comfortable. Regardless of whether you prefer pencil or pen, blue, black, or colored ink, ballpoint or fountain pen, find something that is easy to hold and use.

Date your entry. You'll want to know what day you wrote it later on.

Write out a prayer to the Lord. Write exactly what you would say if you were "talking" to Him. The length of your prayer is up to you. Try to do this at least three days a week.

Keep a Bible on hand, if you like, so that you can add verses to your entries.

Make your prayer journal part of your routine. Commit to writing in it on a set schedule. Stick with it and you will be rewarded with a tangible record of your prayer life as it unfolds.

Go back occasionally and read past entries. You will be amazed at all of the prayers that got answered. It's a really neat thing to realize that prayer really does work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grace Cafe Dedication This Sunday

This Sunday will be a very special Sunday here at Grace Church as we officially dedicate our new Grace Café. We will have special times in each of our three morning worship services for this and then we will have an official “ribbon cutting” ceremony taking place in the café in between 2nd and 3rd services. Folks, listen, you are going to be blown away! This café is amazing. Along with everything else you imagine in a café, this also has a full sound-system, place for staging with special lighting, 4 large screen televisions and wi-fi throughout. WOW!

We are then looking to have our Grand Opening on Mother’s Day, May 9th. And because it is our Grand Opening and it is Mother’s Day – all coffee, tea and other beverages will be free. So over the next 2 Sundays be sure to go in and take a gander at one of the best looking cafes you will find anywhere around us.

I am very excited about how we believe God is going to use this part of our new facility. The main purpose, remember, is “connecting.” With 1500-1600 people coming to one of our three worship services here at Grace Church each and every Sunday, it is hard to connect with people on a Sunday morning. At best, we give a brief “hello” as we rub shoulders and pass each other in the lobby in between services. Now we will have a place big enough where hundreds of people all morning long can spend some time in order to have a cup of coffee or tea and get to know other folks who are also worshipping our great God here at Grace Church.

In the near future this will also give us a wonderful place for our Grace Student Ministries to have their weekly youth night each Wednesday. Our youth group has outgrown their present room and this will be the perfect place for them to meet and move teenagers for Jesus.

Starting in June, we also want to use our three summer months to plan a wee day morning each month when our Primetime Group (anyone over 55) can come together for a time of fellowship, prayer, some hymn-singing and a Bible Study. It is my desire to be the one to teach this Bible Study for our Primetime group so if you are over 55 be paying attention for these dates and details to soon be announced.

And then ultimately, we hope this can be a place that special events can happen in and which can be open at certain times so that parents who are bringing children here each weekday to Lititz Christian School and Morningstar Childcare can also take time to connect better with our church. We would love to one day also see our café open during certain hours in the week where people from the community can come as well, giving us more opportunity to connect with people.

We praise the Lord that we were able to pay for the majority of this facility expansion with cash. The portion that we did finance we did so on a 5-year note at a very low interest rate. But it is our prayer goal to see this facility paid off in just 3 years. Please keep that in mind because every dollar you give to our building fund takes us closer to paying off this debt early so that we can move forward on our next desired renovation which is to turn our present Young Wing and Chapel into a portion of our facility designed specifically to meet and move children.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When Church and School Collide

One of the things I love the most about our ministry here at Grace is when we combine together as a church ministry and a school ministry and see God use our complete ministry in a most remarkable way. That is exactly what happened last Sunday morning as I preached as if I were in the middle of a Scripture drama from John 21 with Jesus and Peter. What made it special is that both Jesus and Peter were played by Lititz Christian School (LCS) students. Nate Garland, who graduated last year, played Jesus and Jonathan Distler, a Senior this year, played the role of Peter. They were outstanding. How fulfilling it was to see God use their talents which were groomed and developed under the ministry of Mrs. Jen Felty and Mrs. Sue Bitner through their participating in LCS musicals, dramas and drama classes.

It was a very moving experience Sunday to see dozens people coming forward at the end of all three morning services to say, “Yes, I am choosing to follow Jesus in spite of my past spiritual failures. I believe He has forgiven me and still wants to use me.” Here is what one person wrote on our church Facebook page about the service yesterday:

"What an amazing service today. What an awesome God. Thanks Grace & the whole staff for ministering to us!!!"

Below is another piece of feedback I received about last Sunday’s services. I especially love this one because it shows how God also has used our Face Your Fears yard signs.

“I just wanted to say thanks to you for your amazing messages. This series is speaking right to my heart. I am sure that God is doing a great work in the hearts of many through you. I do not belong to your church and have not been going to church for a few years. When I started noticing the lawn signs pop up all over the area I began to wonder what they were about. I was encouraged to check out Grace Church by someone I went to high school with and I have been coming all series long. Each week I pray to find the courage to go alone and each week your words speak to my heart. Thanks so much for doing the work that God has called you to do!! Your messages bring me to tears and make me feel like I am where God wants me to be. Today’s message was truly the message I have been needing to hear for a long time.”

If you would like to watch the message/drama portion service last Sunday you can do so through out internet ministry at

We also had 103 visitors who watched the live stream of the 10am service last Sunday on the web. 53 of these visitors completed a survey. We discovered that 32% of viewers were first time visitors to the live webcast and that 28% of viewers were NOT regular attendees or members of Grace Church. We also learned that on average, for each visitor that logs on, there are a total of 2.6 people watching. So given yesterday's numbers of 103 visitors logged on to our live webcast we can figure that a total of 267 people watched the live webcast. 86 of these people were first time viewers to the live web cast and 75 of the viewers were not regular attendees or members of Grace Church. Thank you, Jesus, for what You are doing here at Grace, using us to meet as many people as possible right where they are and helping to move them to where God wants them to be.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Becoming a Philly Fan?

Those who know me or have spent any amount of time reading my blog know that when it comes to professional sports, I am a Cleveland fan through and through. That doesn’t make for a lot of championships to celebrate. In fact, no Cleveland team that I follow has ever won a championship in my lifetime. However, that has a reasonable chance to finally change this year with the Cavs in the NBA – I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

You also know that I am virtually a “one city” kind of fan. If it isn’t a team from Cleveland I just can’t become a serious fan. Even when the NFL Browns moved to Baltimore I could not switch my loyalties to another city’s team. In the 10 years I lived in Southern Ohio, I could in no way find it in my heart to root for the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cincinnati Reds. When I lived in northwest Indiana where the closest sports city was Chicago, it was the same way. Root for the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls or the Blackhawks? I don’t think so.

But things may be changing…again, I stress “may” be changing! Is it possible that I just might be finding myself becoming a fan of a professional sports team from the city of “brotherly love”? It is. But this possibility has nothing to do with the Philadelphia Eagles. They remain a team I love to watch lose – not sure why – just do, unless they are playing the Steelers, then it is “Fly Eagles, Fly”. On the 4th week of the NFL season this Fall I would love to see McNabb return to Philadelphia and lead the Washington Redskins in throttling the Eagles. But that’s just me.

What about the Phillies? I must say that I don’t feel the same way about them as I do the Eagles. I don’t root against the Phillies, but I don’t root for them either. I actually enjoy watching them play. They are an exciting ballclub and when they were in the World Series last year I definitely wanted them to beat the Yankees. But I don’t think I could ever become “an official fan” of the Phillies – maybe the Phillie Phanatic, but not the Phillies themselves.

Is it the Sixers that are starting to get to my sport’s heart? Not a chance!! Go CAVS!!

There is one major professional sports team left to be mentioned from Philadelphia – the Flyers! I enjoy hockey, especially when it reaches the playoffs. I look forward all day long to going home and watching some bone-crushing skating known as the NHL. And I have to admit – I have found myself rooting for the underdog Philadelphia Flyers with the same passion I usually show when it comes to rooting for teams that play on the banks of Lake Erie.

I think part of the reason is that in my teen and adult life there was never a professional hockey team in Cleveland that I could root for in the NHL. So as I root for the Flyers game to game I am in no way feeling like I have committed an act of athletic treason.

Now the jury is still out. I’m not ready to say 100% that I am officially a Philadelphia Flyers fan. When and if that day comes it will mean that the Flyers are the only team in the NHL that I will root for. There is still a very small part of me that kind of favors the Colorado Avalanche as well. But for now, the Avalanche are out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so it’s “GO FLYERS!”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Survivor Old Testament - LAST WEEK TO VOTE

For our mid-summer message series in 2010, we will be doing a series we will call “Survivor: Old Testament.” This will be a series on the six most favorite stories of the Old Testament. In order to determine which six stories we use, we are asking our church family, as well as anyone else who would like to participate, to vote each week on their favorite story from a list that began with 14 possibilities. Over the last three weeks 6 stories have been voted off the list.

Voting begins again Sunday morning and runs through noon each Wednesday on the 8 remaining stories from the Old Testament. We will then once again remove the two stories which get the least number of votes which will result in just 6 stories remaining. Those will be the six stories from the Old Testament that we use.
Here are the 8 possibilities that remain on our poll right now:
Noah and the Ark
David and Goliath
Abraham Offers Isaac as a Sacrifice
Achan Steals the Goods
Deborah and the Tent Spike
Gideon and his Fleece
Jehu the Wild Chariot Driver
The Patience of Job


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Face Your Fear Of Disappointing God

Join us at Grace Church this Sunday!

8:30am; 10am; 11:30am

Topic: Face Your Fears

Facing Your Fear of Disappointing God

Watch our Sunday 10am service live on the web

Friday, April 23, 2010

Do You Love Me?

Yesterday we saw how Peter had gone back to fishing after his three denials of Jesus. We also saw that following the resurrection, Jesus called out to Peter from the shore after a long night of fishing and commanded him to throw his net on the other side of the boat resulting in a great catch of fish. In John 21 we next see Peter and Jesus sitting around a fire on the shore after eating breakfast prepared by the Lord. As they conversed, Jesus asked Jesus three questions:

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

In the English text, it looks like the same question all three times. However, that is not the case. The first two times Jesus uses a word that means to have self-sacrificial love. The final time He uses a word that is much less in intensity and simply indicates a tender affection. All three times Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” But each time Peter simply uses the word for “tender affection.” Because of his failures, he could not look Jesus in the eyes and say that he loved Him with a self-sacrificial love.

But Jesus used this conversation to let Peter know that in spite of his past failures, God wasn’t done with him yet. He would still be involved in ministry in a major way. In fact, Jesus would call him to a new level of commitment that would end, not in denial, but in martyrdom.

I have had the privilege of standing on this actual shore in Israel twice in my life where Jesus and Peter had this conversation. The picture above is me on that shoreline which is one of my most favorite places to spend time in Israel. One reason is because it is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and I have grown to love the Sea of Galilee more than any other place that I have visited in this world. And second, because in my mind there is no better place in the entire world that communicates forgiveness.

The last time I was on this shore with a group from our church we each picked up a small stone. That stone symbolized our greatest spiritual failure. We carried it in our pockets all day long and every time we saw it or felt it we were reminded that we have disappointed God. That night we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. As we reached the middle of the waters, we took out those stones symbolizing our failures and we threw them into the water, reminding ourselves that through Christ, our sins have been buried in the deepest sea.

I picked up two fist size rocks from that shore as well and they sit on my bookshelf where I can see them multiple times throughout the day. Why? Because like Peter, I also have failed spiritually. I also have disappointed God. And each time I look at those rocks that come from that exact shore where Jesus and Peter had this conversation I am reminded that I am forgiven through my faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for my sin. The penalty for my failure has been paid in full on the cross. And as a result, God is not done with me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


One thing we all have in common is that we have all at some point in our lives disappointed God. These personal failures have left many followers of Jesus feeling like a second-class Christian. Maybe your failure in an area like those listed below has had this result in your life:

You had an abortion

You are divorced

You committed adultery

You abused someone

You got wrapped up in pornography

You struggled with alcoholism

You struggled with drug addiction

You have a criminal record

You got caught in a very big lie

And the list goes on and on. In the Bible, Peter was a Christian whose failures led him to a feeling of defeat. In fact, after the death and resurrection of Jesus we find Peter back at his trade, back to fishing. In his mind he was destined to a life of simple existence without accomplishing anything real for God. After all, he had several failures that weighed him down.

He sank in the sea because he took his eyes off Jesus!

He spouted off his mouth resulting in Jesus saying, “Get behind Me, Satan.”

He denied Jesus three times on the final night before Jesus’ crucifixion!

Talk about failure! And as a result, he was sure God was done with him. That’s why he was back at fishing. And even that wasn’t going well. In John 21, he had been fishing all night and caught nothing. A man from the distant shore called out and asked if they had caught anything. I’m not a fisherman but I imagine that fisherman don’t like to be asked that question when their net is empty. But then the man on the shore gave them a command. He told them to drop their net on the other side of the boat. That voice should have seemed very familiar to Peter. That command should have resonated in his heart and his spirit. They threw the net on the other side of the boat and brought in an amazing amount of fish. It was Jesus. He wasn’t yet done with Peter. And in spite of your failures, He is not yet done with you either.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Eats

One of the things I do enjoy doing is eating out. But when I eat out, I also like to choose some places to eat that I have never been to before. In recent weeks I have been able to eat at some of the following places in the area:

The Brickerville House in Brickerville – I have eaten there for breakfast meetings many times but never for dinner. Laura and I went there one evening and were very pleased. I had some ham loaf that was out of this world (with French fries and apple fritters). Now back in the Midwest we never had ham loaf but I have come to really like it. Again, that’s ham loaf not meatloaf – there is a humongous difference in the two.

Tropicana Smoothie Café down by the Airport Diner – Laura and I had a coupon for buy one wrap get one wrap free. Then we split a smoothie. It was fantastic.

The Franklin House in Schafferstown – I pass this cool looking building all the time. The tavern was established 30 years before America became an official country. Laura and I went there with friends. We ordered off the tavern menu, not the dinner menu. Laura and I had a spinach artichoke dip appetizer and split a Reuben sandwich with fries. It was terrific.

The Olde Village Grille in East Petersburg. A lady from our church owns this cool little café. Laura and I went there for breakfast on our day off and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also was given a piece of amazing desert to enjoy later in the day! Awesome!

The Boar’s Head Pub – this is the new pub in downtown Lititz located with the General Sutter. It is a British style pub meaning there is no table service – you have to order at the bar. I went there with another man from the church. I had the Reuben – he had the fish and chips. It was great – and some of the best unsweetened iced tea I have ever drunk.

The Lyndon Diner down near the mall – OK, this one wasn’t anything more than normal when it came to food but it was a memorable experience. I went there with Pastor Tim, Pastor Doug and Pastor Steve. It was after midnight and we had just sat through an Elder Board meeting which lasted more than 4 hours so we were pretty giddy – thus, it was a memorable experience.

Last Friday Laura and I were down at the outlets on route 30. It was time to do lunch so we decided to drive on 30 past the outlets toward Gap and find a new place to eat. The problem is I don’t remember the name of the place. It was not far past Miller’s Smorgasbord on the left side of the road as you are heading toward Gap. It is located in kid of a “tourist trap” area that includes a building with a windmill. The restaurant started with a “D” – I do remember that. I had the lunch buffet. It was decent but the part I liked best was the pumpkin torte and the chocolate applesauce cake on the desert bar.

But when it comes to eating out, I am not hard to please. Last week I simply grabbed a 50 cent hot dog from Stauffers of Kissel Hill. Even that was very satisfying.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Practicing In The Shower

I love preaching. I absolutely live for Sundays and the opportunity to preach three times here at Grace Church. But almost as much as I love preaching I also enjoy studying through the week to preach. The better part of my week, week in and week out, is spent in this task. This involves two parts. The first, of course, is planning. I enjoy studying. But in the process we use here at Grace Church, my planning for a sermon literally begins months in advance:

6 months in advance I am praying and brainstorming over series topics. It is my goal to have a weekly message schedule that is always completed 6 months in advance and broken down so that I can look at any given Sunday over the next 26 weeks and know what series I will be in, what the main topic of that particular week in the series will be, and what Scripture passages I will be using. Obviously this 6-month preaching schedule isn’t in concrete but it’s pretty solid.

3 months in advance I have to have my tentative message outlines completed so that I can send them out to our Worship Design Team so that they can have them 30 days in advance of our planning meeting to read them, pray through them and begin brainstorming about them.

2 months in advance I meet with our Worship Design Team to go through the message outlines and to plan the specific creative elements of our services that we will use for that series.

1 month in advance I meet with our Executive Pastor and Worship Arts Director to be sure we are on track with all of our plans. We meet again one week in advance to confirm all details. We then actually meet 2 hours in advance for one last walk through. We will then meet again one week after to evaluate how things went and to discuss if we met our strategic goals.

But along with the planning comes the practicing. I am often asked how I can preach without using much in the way of notes while I’m talking. The reason is because the week prior to the message I practice it, practice it, and practice it some more.

At least twice through the week I go find a place in the church where nobody is (a hard task indeed around here) and practice my sermon just as if I were giving it. Every time I take a shower (and I take a minimum of 2 showers a day) I practice my sermon in the shower. Every time I’m driving, you can bet I’m going through my sermon until I get to my destination. And them on Saturday, I spend the entire morning in the church with the better part of that time spent practicing my message. I then get to church early on Sundays for the same reason. After our 6:45am pre-service meeting and sound checks, I have about an hour before it is time to head to the auditorium. I use that time to go through my message one final time in my office.

Planning and practicing are key elements to my life as a pastor. But there is also a third part that is even more crucial – praying! After all, nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer. All three our key elements in my mind. It goes back to what my High School Band Director taught me – “Proper preparation prepares for powerful performance!” So, planning, practicing and praying – those words describe my sermon preparation each week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Polls Out

If you have been following my blog you know that here at Grace Church we are doing a weekly “American Idol” style text poll as we narrow down an original list of 14 Old Testament stories to just 6 which will be a 6-week series this summer that we will call “Survivor: Old Testament.” Each week we are removing the 2 stories with the lowest vote totals from the list. Round three began last Sunday morning and is currently underway through this Wednesday at noon. People can vote live during the worship services here at Grace Church through sending a text or by going to our church website at

Over 1300 votes were cast in round two (a 41% increase from round one). After the second round of voting, which ended last Wednesday, here are some very interesting observations through two rounds of voting:

The four stories which have already been voted out are Elisha healing Namaan; Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt; Cain killing Abel; and Solomon dividing the baby.

Deborah and the tent spike received the most votes in round two getting 25% of all votes cast. This is amazing as in round one, Deborah came in 9th place only receiving 5.5% of the votes cast. Something tells me that a certain office manager I know is applying the “vote early, vote often” philosophy of elections in this important contest.

Gideon and his fleece is the only story not to change in the standings coming in at the #2 spot after both round one and round two! Gideon received nearly 13% of the votes cast in round one and nearly 16% in round two.

Pastor Tim’s feverish lobbying for Jehu the wild chariot driver is having an impact as Jehu, who was not in the top 6 after round one, ended round two in the #3 spot, moving up from #7.

The top three vote getters in round two (Deborah, Gideon and Jehu) combined received more than half of all votes cast.

The biggest positive move in the polls from round one to round two was Achan steals the goods which barely survived being voted off the list in round one, coming the 12th spot with just 27 votes, but ended round two in the 6th spot getting 82 votes (a net gain of 55 votes).

There were also some downward results as Noah and the ark went from the #1 spot after round one, getting 158 votes, down to the #7 spot after round two with just 69 votes (a net loss of 89 votes).

Another crowd favorite after round one, David and Goliath, moved from the #3 spot after round one down to the #5 spot in round two in spite of the fact that he went up from 106 votes to 134.

The three men in the fiery furnace moved up from #6 to #4 while the patience of job dropped from the #4 spot to the #8 spot. LET THE VOTING CONTINUE!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


For our mid-summer message series in 2010, we will be doing a series we will call “Survivor: Old Testament.” This will be a series on the six most favorite stories of the Old Testament. In order to determine which six stories we use, we are asking our church family, as well as anyone else who would like to participate, to vote each week on their favorite story from a list that began with 14 possibilities. Over the last two weeks the stories of Elisha healing Namaan; Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt; have been voted off the list.

Voting begins again Sunday morning and runs through noon each Wednesday on the 10 remaining stories from the Old Testament. We will then once again remove the two stories which get the least number of votes and continue the process until we are down to just 6 stories remaining. Those will be the six stories from the Old Testament that we use.

Here are the 12 possibilities that remain on our poll right now:

Noah and the Ark
David and Goliath
Cain Murders Abel
Moses and the Parting of the Red Sea
Abraham Offers Isaac as a Sacrifice
Achan Steals the Goods
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace
Deborah and the Tent Spike
Gideon and his Fleece
Jehu the Wild Chariot Driver
Solomon’s Wisdom in Dividing the Baby
The Patience of Job


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Face Your Fear Of Sickness

Join us at Grace Church this Sunday!

8:30am; 10am; 11:30am

Topic: Face Your Fears

Facing Your Fear of Sickness

Watch our Sunday 10am service live on the web

Friday, April 16, 2010

Facing Your Fear Of Sickness - James 5

As James wraps up his very practical book on Christian living, he ends with the topic of sickness. He begins in verses 13-16 by describing 3 circumstances of life. At all times we are in one of these 3 circumstances. He begins with those who are suffering and according to James, in these times of our lives we are to pray. Second, James address the times in our lives when we are cheerful. In these times we are to sing praise to God.

Now James gets to his main point. He now speaks of those who are physically sick (v14-16). This is not a word describing minor sicknesses such as the flu or a cold. This word described a serious condition, one that was beyond human ability to treat. This word was used to describe the royal officer’s son who was about to die in John 4:46-47; Lazarus who shortly after did die in John 11:1-3, 6; Dorcas in Acts 9:37, who also died; and it was used to describe Epaphroditus who Paul described as being close to death (Philippians 2:26-27).

What are we to do when we are facing a serious physical condition? James teaches that it is the sick person who is to take the initiative to call for the Elders of the church who are to anoint the sick person with oil and pray for them. This anointing was not medicinal but rather a symbol of the Holy Spirit (James 4:5). According to James, the prayer offered in faith by the church leaders will restore the sick one and the Lord will raise him up.

It is obvious from this passage that God still does heal. However, it is very important to properly interpret Scripture with Scripture in this case and realize that our prayers being answered are conditional on our requests being God’s will (1 John 5:4). It is obvious from Scripture that it is not always God’s will to heal. Many examples show this to be true. Paul had a thorn the flesh which was most likely a physical ailment that God did not heal (2 Corinthians 12:7). Timothy had a stomach problem that was not healed (1 Timothy 5:23). On one of Paul’s journeys he had to leave Trophimus in the city of Miletus sick (2 Timothy 4:20).

James further says that when we are in this type of sickness, we also have a need to confess our sins. James now makes a specific connection between the sickness involved and sin. He states that if the sick person has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Since we all have sinned, this must refer to specific sin which has caused the illness. Please understand that all illness is not due to sin, but some can be. James is speaking in this passage of sickness that is the result of sin. He says that if the illness is due to sin and prayer and confession takes place, God promises to forgive and to heal.

The bottom line to the whole passage is that of trust. When we are seriously ill we should call for the leaders of the church to anoint us and pray for us. When we are seriously ill we should examine our lives and confess any sin that God reveals to us. When we are seriously ill we should trust God’s will. God will do one of three things and whatever it is that is His will can be trusted to be perfect in purpose and timing. He may choose to heal us. However, as in the case with Paul’s thorn in the flesh, He may choose to give us the grace to endure the sickness. He also may use the sickness to take us home to heaven, which after all, is the ultimate healing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facing Your Fear of Sickness - Acts 3

Acts 3 begins with Peter and John going into the temple. This duo was very closely associated together. They were partners in the fishing trade (Luke 5:10). They were entrusted for preparing the Passover celebration which would become what we call “The Last Supper” (Luke 22:8). They were also the first disciples to visit the empty tomb of Jesus (John 20). So it is no wonder that they are often found traveling together in the book of Acts (Acts 4:13, 19; 8:14).

Going to the temple was a daily activity of the Apostles (Acts 2:46). In verse 1 we discover the exact time that Peter and John went up to the temple. It was the ninth hour by Jewish time. Jewish time stared at 6am so the 9th hour would be 3pm by our time. This was the hour of prayer. Psalm 55:17 tells us that there were 3 hours of prayer – morning (9am); noon (12pm); and the ninth hour (3pm). This was the time of the evening sacrifice so it would be the peak time (rush hour) for a crowd to be arriving at the temple.

At the temple we learn that there was a man who was lame and who had been lame from birth. In Acts 4:22 we learn that this man was over 40 years old. Every day he was carried by family or friends and set down at the temple gate called ‘Beautiful’. This was the gate that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Women. It was a large and ornate gate and just through this gate was the temple treasury. So people walking through this gate were in a mindset of giving. This was the perfect location for this man to sit and beg for alms. And you can be sure that he was not the only beggar who would have been there on this particular day.

As he asked for alms, Peter spoke to the lame man. The man quickly gave Peter his attention, expecting that he was going to receive some money. Now notice, that this man had no indication that a possible healing was on tap. He was only expecting one thing – money, not a miracle. What does that tell me? That tells me that, unlike what many advocate in their teaching today, healing is not based simply and solely on our faith. This man ultimately would get healed, but he was only expecting money. So often I talk to people who live in a horrible state of guilt and failure because they have been taught that if they had enough faith, they would be healed of a certain sickness and affliction. So if the healing does not take place, they conclude they must be a faithless believer destined to be a second-class follower of Jesus. Such is not the case.

Peter commands the lame man to walk and he does. His ankles and feet receive strength that they had never possessed prior. Not only could he stand, but he who had never walked before could suddenly leap without so much as a hitch in his “giddy-up”. His healing was instantaneous and complete. He leaped – he didn’t limp. The man realized that his healing was due to God, not the Apostles, which resulted in his praising God, not Peter and John.

Now let me ask you some questions. Was this man the only beggar at the temple that day? Probably not. Is there any indication that any of the other beggars received healing that day? Not that I can see. If this man had sat at this gate daily for the better part of 40 years, would Jesus have ever passed him at the gate? Sure He would have. Did Jesus ever heal him? No. Why? Because healing is based on the sovereignty of God. He heals whom He chooses to heal.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mars Hill in Lititz

We received a very interesting e-mail this week from someone in the community who was bothered by our Face Your Fears yard signs. Positive feedback to our yard signs has outnumbered negative comments 10 to 1. I have tried to respond personally and graciously to anyone who contacted us, whether they were complimenting us or expressing a concern. The e-mail we received yesterday was unique to any others that have come our way. It was a very lengthy e-mail. It seemed obvious to me that the person who wrote and sent it has some serious baggage from past spiritual and church experiences that were no doubt negative. But as part of the e-mail, the person wrote this:

“I don't know what kind of God you worship and I don't care but the God I serve and love is an all loving God and mother Azna and Jesus and they are beside us and love us through anything, every mistake we make, every trial we learn from.”

I have to be honest. I have heard of God and I have heard of Jesus but I had never heard of Mother Azna. Neither had Pastor Tim. So we did a quick google search and a quick self-education on what this deity was all about. Here is what we discovered.

“Azna” is the sacred name the Divine feminine is known by on the other side. She is channeled through a woman who wrote a book and has an advice column in which Mother Azna answers questions submitted to her by this woman. This woman shares that she has been given a love song to Mother Azna that if someone will sing for 5 days in a row, they can be assured that Mother Azna will answer their petition. She further tells that after 5 days of singing this love song to Mother Azna, you will know that your request is going to be answered because you will be given a sign which will be in the form of either a flower, a bee, or a frog.

As I read this e-mail we received here at the church and the information I found on line regarding Mother Azna, I was reminded of the story in the book of Acts where Paul goes to Mars Hill and stands with the many philosophers who loved to debate and hear of all deities and religions. There they had statutes built to all of the gods. And in case they missed one, they even had a statute erected to “The Unknown God.” Paul used this statute as a foundation to preach to them the truth about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I was reminded through this recent e-mail encounter that there is a Mars Hill everywhere – even in Lititz, PA. The god of this world has blinded the hearts and spirits of many. Spiritual deception is real and it is all around us. People are lost – yes, even in Lititz. That is why we must take seriously our purpose as a church which is to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be.

So how did I respond to this e-mail? I replied thanking them for taking the time to write and send their e-mail. I told them that I had never heard of Azna and enjoyed educating myself on this a bit through the internet. I then asked them to consider watching the first two messages of our Face Your Fears series on line and then responding to me with their thoughts and feedback.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Pit of Broken Relationships

Last Sunday we overviewed chapters 25-50 of the book of Genesis in just 30 minutes as we painted a picture of the life of Jacob, a man who from womb to tomb had a life characterized by multiple broken relationships:

His broken relationship with his twin brother actually began in the womb and culminated with his brother vowing to kill him!

His broken relationship with his father culminated in his deceiving his father shortly before he died!

His broken relationship with his uncle resulted in his working for him for 14 years because he was tricked him into marrying the wrong daughter!

His broken relationship with his wife was due to his having multiple wives, two of whom where sisters who competed for his affection!

His broken relationship with the wife he loved the most culminated in her death while giving birth to his 12th son!

His broken relationship with one of his daughters is seen as she is abducted, raped, and in retaliation her brothers massacre a whole group of people.

His broken relationships with his sons resulted in his loving one son over the others which resulted in his many sons hating the one that he loved most, abducting him, throwing him in a pit, selling him into slavery in Egypt, and convincing their dad that he was killed by an animal.

Now talk about broken relationships. How could God ever use this family? But he did. And in the end, all of these broken relationships resulted in Joseph, the son of Jacob who was sold into slavery by his brothers, rising to a high position in Egypt and saving many people from death during a time of great famine. That is why in Genesis 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers, “What you meant for evil, god meant for good.”

So, like Joseph, have you found yourself in the bit of a broken relationship, pushed in by someone close to you? A spouse? A child? A parent? A friend? So what do you do when you’re in the pit of a broken relationship? You can ask yourself one of the following questions:

WHY ME? – This is the question you ask when you descend even further into a state of self-pity and allow yourself to develop a bitter heart and a bitter soul which results in your living out the remainder of your life in misery.

WHAT NOW? – This is the question you ask when you realize that even though you hate being in the pit and you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy, God is still at work and can take the evil that was meant against you and use it to accomplish His plan and His purpose!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Tale Of Two Yard Signs

Last year we changed our promotion strategy going into Easter. Instead of the usual direct mailings and the newspaper ads, we spent that promotional money on ways we could better equip our own church family to invite those they know. The paradigm shift has been successful. This Easter our attendance was up 25% over Easter two years ago

Our big Easter promotion was the hundreds of yard signs that all of our church families put in their yards to promote our Face Your Fears message series that runs from Easter through Mother’s Day. We found this approach to be very effective resulting in the largest weekend service attendance in the history of our church on Easter weekend. Most all of the feedback we have gotten have been very positive like this one below:

I love the Face Your Fears campaign by your church! Since October of last year I have been in the process of rebuilding my life and my spiritual walk with Christ from ground up. Part of my journey has been dealing with anxiety and depression. Then I started to see your clever signs posted all throughout the Lititz Area. I visited your website, learned about your church for the first time and even downloaded last weekend's first message of the series. What I particularly like is the creative and effective means you have employed to bring about the message. It goes right to where people are with an issue they are concerned about. With the website, not only did I find a creative, straight forward, non-religious approach to the issue, but a tremendous gateway to your church. Without the signs, without the website, I'm not sure if or when I would have ever learned about your church. And the church website is also wonderful: lots of great programs, wonderful links.

This comment above which was posted on my blog really encouraged me as this was the exact strategy and goals of our yard sign approach to promoting our series which began on Easter. But as you can expect, not all the feedback we got was as flattering as seen by this e-mail below:

To Whom It May Concern, I would like to respectfully request that you have your parishioners take down all of the 'Face your Fears' signs. Springtime is blooming in all Gods glory outside and these mini billboards are truly junking up the scenery. I went for a walk the other day and when I stopped on the corner for traffic to pass I counted eleven of these signs in clear view.... in the middle of a neighborhood. I'm certain that you didn't intend your message to evolve into graffiti? A few years ago Mr. Scoop had to take down all of his signs of that size and although I'm sure most would argue that your message is 'nobler' it is just as bothersome in such great numbers. It was a clever ad campaign but it's time to be done now. Please let us appreciate the peace & beauty of a lovely Lititz Spring!

Seriously, to anyone who found our yard signs to be a negative, we apologize. Our intent was not to disturb anyone but rather to find an effective and creative way to equip our church family with a unique way that they could invite those in their neighborhoods to Easter and our Face Your Fears message series. It is part of our efforts here at Grace Church to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Survivor Old Testament POLL OPEN

For our mid-summer message series in 2010, we will be doing a series we will call “Survivor: Old Testament.” This will be a series on the six most favorite stories of the Old Testament. In order to determine which six stories we use, we are asking our church family, as well as anyone else who would like to participate, to vote each week on their favorite story from a list that began with 14 possibilities. Last week the story of Elisha healing Namaan and the story of Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt were voted off the list.
Voting begins again Sunday morning and runs through noon each Wednesday on the 12 remaining stories from the Old Testament. We will then once again remove the two stories which got the least number of votes and continue the process until we are down to just 6 stories remaining. Those will be the six stories from the Old Testament that we use.
Here are the 12 possibilities that remain on our poll right now:

Noah and the Ark
David and Goliath
Cain Murders Abel
Moses and the Parting of the Red Sea
Abraham Offers Isaac as a Sacrifice
Achan Steals the Goods
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace
Deborah and the Tent Spike
Gideon and his Fleece
Jehu the Wild Chariot Driver
Solomon’s Wisdom in Dividing the Baby
The Patience of Job


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Face Your Fear of Broken Relationships

Join us at Grace Church this Sunday!
8:30am; 10am; 11:30am

Topic: Face Your Fears
Facing Your Fear of Broken Relationships

Watch our Sunday 10am service live on the web

Friday, April 09, 2010

Country Music And Broken Relationships

OK – if you know me at all, have read my blogs for any length of time, or attend here at Grace Church, you know that I really do not like country music. But this Sunday as part of our Face Your Fears message series we are talking about the fear of broken relationships. So, what better style of music for this topic than country? After all, country music is all about one thing, right? It is all about broken relationships as seen in some of these country song titles:

I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well
I Want A Beer As Cold As My Ex-Wife’s Heart
I Would Have Wrote You A Letter But I Couldn’t Spell Yuck
She Got The Coal Mine I Got The Shaft
Would You Like Fries With That (the divorce song)
Jesus Loves You But I Don’t
How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away
I Keep Forgetting I Forgot About You
I Still Miss You Baby But My Aim Is Getting Better

So this Sunday one of our very talented vocalists who is all about country music and even has the “country twang” down real well, will be singing Rascal Flatts' song, “To Make Her Love Me.” It is a song about a man who has gone through a broken relationship and is asking God to make her fall in love with him again. I don’t like country music, but this song will set the topic up nicely as we look at what the Bible says about facing the fear of broken relationships. Below are the lyrics to the Rascal Flatts’ song:

You waved your hand and it was done
So let it be and there it was
A mountain, so high, it broke through, the sky
A canyon, so deep, it'll bring a man to his knees

I've seen what you can do
I've seen you make miracles and hopeless dreams come true
You've made the heavens and the stars
Everything, come on how hard Could it be, To make her love me?

I've said some things I shouldn't have
Tried everything to win her back
I'm human, I messed up, Is she gone? Are we done?
Forgiveness, another chance, that's all I want, it's in your hands

I've seen what you can do
I've seen you make miracles and hopeless dreams come true
You've made the heavens and the stars
Everything, come on how hard Could it be, To make her love me?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Facing Our Fear Of Broken Relationships

As we look back over our lives we can see instances of very painful broken relationships - Romantic relationships that ended; Marriages that dissolved; Promises that were broken; Friends that betrayed us; Children that rebelled. And chances are that we have not yet experienced all of the broken relationships in our lives. As long as we choose to love people we will continue to open ourselves up to the very real possibility of broken relationships.

This Sunday we continue our Face Your Fears series by talking about the fear of broken relationships. We will look at one individual’s story in the Bible whose life was characterized by one broken relationship after another.

He fought with his twin brother even while in his mother’s womb!

He was born grasping his brother’s heal as if trying to beat him out of the womb!

His dad loved his brother more than him but his mother loved him more than his brother!

He bribed his brother out of his birthright!

With the help of his mother, he tricked his dad into giving him his brother’s blessing!

He had to go live with his uncle because his brother wanted to kill him!

He fell in love with a beautiful woman but was tricked into marrying her not so beautiful sister!

He ultimately married both sisters but loved the one more than the other!

He had 11 sons and a daughter by four different women – his two wives and their handmaidens!

His daughter was kidnapped and raped!

The wife he loved became pregnant with his 12th son but she died while giving birth to him!

Like his father before him, he visibly loved one of his sons more than the all the others!

His other sons sold the son he loved the most into slavery

His sons than lied to him convincing him that the son he loved was killed by a wild animal!

Talk about a life of broken relationships! And this isn’t even a complete list of all the dysfunction in this one man’s life. But even with all of this brokenness, human mistakes and tragedies, the story ends with hope! The story ends with a family being reunited, rewarded and restored. Hear how this Sunday as we face our fear of broken relationships!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My Easter Reflections - Part 2

Easter here at Grace Church actually started on Saturday with our 5pm service which was the first of four identical Easter Celebrations we had. This was the day that included all of our final rehearsals as well so I was at the church by 2pm so that we were ready for our pre-meeting at 2:45 and then sound checks and rehearsals which began at 3pm. Saturday night was then the first of four tremendous worship celebrations. Everything went exactly as planned. If there were any major glitches I am not aware of them.

Our First Impressions teams greeted everyone with friendliness and enthusiasm!
Our Educational Ministries arranged complimentary coffee for all as they arrived!
Our Facility team had our building in absolute tip-top shape!
Our Worship Arts Department had a great themed set in our theater in the round!
Our Bands were tight and the Worship Choir and Vocalists were outstanding!
Our sound, lighting and media techs all were at the top of their game!
Our office staff had all the logistics well under control!
Our children’s staff and volunteers were absolutely wonderful in their ministry!

What a thrill it was to watch people pour into all four services. The lowest amount in the auditorium was still 418 (which was our 11:30 Sunday morning service). When you add in all the numbers, it was the largest attended weekend in the history of our church with over 2,500 people on our campus for these four services. Plus there were many others who watched our 10am Sunday service live on the web. I am still floored at how God would use us in the little town of Lititz, PA to meet literally thousands of people over the last two weekends (4,800+ at the Egg Hunt and 2,500+ over Easter) right where they are and help move them to where He wants them to be. Praise the Lord!

The rest of Easter was a family time. Laura and the kids and I went home after the final service and had our Easter dinner out on the back deck – ham, deviled eggs, and pasta salad. Speaking of the outdoors, I think this was the best weather I have ever experienced on Easter in my entire life. In fact, after dinner, we headed out to Strasburg to play miniature golf. The weather was perfect and we had the entire course to our selves. We played 24 holes. I have to be honest – usually I win (no matter how hard my son tries to beat me) but Sunday, I was so whipped by the time we hit the first hole that I ended up in third place, barely beating my daughter (who always loses at putt-putt) by just 2 strokes.

Then it was back home to relax for the rest of the evening. And to top off a wonderful holiday it was also the first Major League Baseball game of the season. I enjoyed watching the Yanks battle the Red Sox. My family even watched some of the game with me – I think that’s a first. It was probably due to the fact that I splurged for pizza! I didn’t make it through the whole game. At the top of the 7th I had to go to bed even though the score was tied. I was so glad to wake up the next morning and find out that the Yankees lost! Now that’s fitting. Sunday morning I awoke to celebrate the fact that Jesus defeated death and Monday morning I awoke to celebrate the fact that the Yankees had been defeated as well. What a Easter!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

My Easter Reflections (part 1)

I think for me, one of the aspects that made this past Easter more special than usual was that we went into with a Church-wide Day of Prayer and Fasting from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening. This personal yet small sacrifice allowed me to focus more clearly on the sacrifice of Christ. The most meaningful part of that 24-hour time period was the 75 minutes that seven of us men on staff spent together in prayer. Pastor Tim, myself, Craig Peters (our Facility Manager), David Felty (our Worship Arts Director); Pastor Whitie; Pastor Doug and Dennis Jordan (our Finance manager) had a very informal yet special time of reading Scripture and praying as God lead each of us. Frankly, it has been a long time since I spent 75 minutes uninterrupted before the Lord.

For me personally, the highlight of the weekend was our Good Friday Night of Worship. Pastor Tim led this evening and it was amazing – without question, the best Good Friday Worship I have ever attended. What made it more special for me was that my family got to sit on the back row together for the entire evening. Joy got home from college just as the service was starting. I had no part of the service and Laura did not have to play on stage so we sat together. I honestly think the last time the four of us sat together in church was way back when I was a youth pastor and the kids were too young to remember. How cool it was to sit together; worship together; and take communion together, especially in light of the fact that this was our last Easter before both of our kids will be gone off to college and empty nest begins to settle in.

Saturday was a great day for me leading up to our first of four Easter Celebration services. I planned to sleep in a bit longer than usual but I woke up at 6:30am due to my small bladder. As soon as I did my mind kicked in and my allergies did as well causing my nose to start running. I knew I would never get back to sleep so I got up, showered and was into the church by about 7am. It was one of those rare times that it was just me in the entire building. I honestly love being in the church by myself (unless of course it is late in the evening – for some reason that spooks me). I was able to go into the auditorium and spend time going through my Easter message and meditating before the Lord as I looked at each of the seats that were set up in the auditorium, thinking about who God was going to bring in over our four services to fill those seats and to hear about Jesus.

I then had to run an errand out to the Rockvale Outlets. It was still early enough that traffic wasn't bad. I used the trip out to the outlets to go through my message one more time. On the way back to the church I put on a powerful worship CD, cranked it as loud as I could possibly crank it and still be able to stand it, and spent the ride home in an amazing one-on-one time of worship with my Risen Redeemer.

When I got back to the church I took time to walk through the building and found myself filled with awe and wonder at the anticipation of how God was going to use our entire ministry and every square footage of our facility to meet thousands of people where they were and help move them to where He wants them to be. I then went home to have our big dinner of the day over lunch as a family realizing that I was going to have to be back to the church by 2pm for all of the final preparations, prep meetings and rehearsals for our Saturday Night Easter Service at Grace!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Survivor: Old Testament - Poll Open Now

For our mid-summer message series in 2010, we will be doing a series we might call “Survivor: Old Testament.” This will be a series on the six most favorite stories of the Old Testament. In order to determine which six stories we use, we are asking our church family as well as anyone else who would like to participate to vote each week on their favorite story from a list that begins with 14 possibilities. Voting begins each week at our first worship service of the weekend and runs through noon each Wednesday. We will then remove the two stories which got the least number of votes and continue the process until we are down to just 6 stories remaining. Those will be the six stories from the Old Testament that we use. Here are the 14 possibilities that are on our poll right now:

Noah and the Ark
David and Goliath
Cain Murders Abel
Moses and the Parting of the Red Sea
Lot and the Pillar of Salt
Abraham Offers Isaac as a Sacrifice
Achan Steals the Goods
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace
Elisha Heals Namaan of Leprosy
Deborah and the Tent Spike
Gideon and his Fleece
Jehu the Wild Chariot Driver
Solomon’s Wisdom in Dividing the Baby
The Patience of Job


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Face Your Fear This Easter!


Join us at Grace Church for one of our four Easter Celebrations!
Saturday, April 3rd @ 5pm
Sunday, April 4th @ 8:30am; 10am; 11:30am

Childcare provided all four services (nursery through 4th grade)
Complimentary coffee at all four services

Topic: Face Your Fears
Facing Your Fear of Death

Watch our Sunday 10am service live on the web

Friday, April 02, 2010

We live. We die. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.

The Bucket List is a 2007 Warner Brothers movie about two cancer-ward roommates who decide to make a bucket list of things to do before their cancer causes them to “kick the bucket.” The movie is all about their many adventures as they accomplish their bucket list before it’s too late. There is a scene in the movie when the two men are on a jetliner flying over the polar cap. One of the men, Carter, shares with the other, Edward, how indescribably beautiful the view is. Their dialogue is amazing. Here is what they say to each other:

Carter: “The stars…it’s really one of God’s good ones.”

Edward: “So you think a being of some sort did all of this?”

Carter: “You don’t?”

Edward: “You mean, do I believe if I look up in the sky and promise this or that, The Biggie will make all this (speaking of their terminal cancer) go away? No.”

Carter: “Then 95% of the people on earth are wrong.”

Edward: “If life has taught me anything, it’s 95% of the people are always wrong.”

Carter: “It’s called faith.”

Edward: “I honestly envy people who have faith. I just can’t get my head around it.”

Carter: : “Maybe your head’s in the way.”

Edward: “Carter, we’ve all had hundreds of these discussions, and everyone of them always hits the same wall. Is there a sugarplum fairy or not? And nobody has ever gotten over that wall.”

Carter: “So, what do you believe?”

Edward: “I resist all beliefs.”

Carter: “No Big Bang? Random Universe?”

Edward: “We live. We die. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.”

Look at that last line again. “We live. We die. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.” That sure seems to be the philosophy and worldview of many people around us. But is it really true? That’s what we will be talking about this weekend, Easter weekend (Sat 5pm; Sun 8:30, 10, 11:03) as we face the fear of death head on!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

FASTING - Part 4

Thursday night after dinner we started a Day of Prayer and Fasting for our ministry as we move into our big Easter Weekend and the beginning of our FACE YOUR FEARS message series that we have been heavily promoting. As we fast and pray today, below are some specific requests to lift up before God:

Pray for good weather for Easter weekend, April 3-4!

Pray for God to use our FACE YOUR FEARS yard signs and website to see more people attend our Easter services than ever before!

Pray for Pastor Doug (Pastor of Children and Student Ministries); Jill Lutz (Children's Director), Brenda Miller (Early Childhood Coordinator) and all of their workers who will impact the lives of everyone nursery through 4th grade at our Easter services!

Pray for Pastor Steve (Pastor of Connections) and all of our First Impressions volunteers including parking lot attendants, Guest Services attendants, Greeters and Ushers!

Pray for Craig Peters (Facility Manager) and all of our maintenance staff who will be readying our building for what is likely to be the largest weekend attendance in the history of Grace Church!

Pray for Megan Wilkerson (Office Manager) and all of our office staff as they finish all the preparations for Easter weekend!

Pray for Dennis Jordan (Finance Manager) and all of the volunteers that work in the stewardship area of our ministry!

Pray for Pastor Tim (Executive Pastor) as he oversees all of our Church Staff through Easter Weekend here at Grace!

Pray for Rick Bernhardt (Senior Administrator) as he leads MorningStar Childcare and Lititz Christian School in providing complimentary coffee at all four Easter services!

Pray for David Felty (Worship Arts Director) and Frank Protaro (Band Leader) and all of our musicians and vocalists as they prepare to lead us in worship this Easter!
Pray for Pastor Whitie (Care Pastor) as he provides pastoral care during this Easter weekend.

Pray for Tim Reedy (Media Producer) and Nancy Martin (Audio Producer) and all of their volunteers as they handle the lights, sound, staging, video and live webcast angles of our Easter celebrations!

Pray for Pastor Scott (Senior Pastor) as he prepares to preach 4 times Easter Weekend on the topic of FACING THE FEAR OF DEATH from John 11!

Pray for our Good Friday Night of Worship which will be led by Pastor Tim (Executive Pastor) and David Felty (Worship Arts Director)!

Pray for Unbelievers to clearly hear the Good News of the Gospel and for many of them to respond by trusting Jesus as their personal Savior!

Pray for Believers to be encouraged in their walk with Christ!

Remember, nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer! May God use this day in the life of our church to result in our meeting and moving many people for Jesus!