Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Update #4 from our Grace Team in France

Below is the another update from Marlin Weaver who is leading our 9-member team from Grace Church currently in France. This was sent to me at 6:19pm PA time on Wednesday. Please pray fo rhtem as they travel home Thursday and Friday.

"Hi Scott, Just a quick update. We're all doing well and beginning to look forward to our return trip from France. This team is just super. They worked hard out in the sun this afternoon moving rock from around the wall that we just finished. I will not have internet service until we return Friday afternoon. We're looking forward to seeing everyone. Have good end of the week, Marlin for the France Team"

Update #3 from our Grace Team in France

Here is another e-mail update I received Tuesday (6:13pm our time) from Marlin Weaver who is leading our 9-member team from Grace Church currently in France:

"Hi Scott, Just a quick note to let you know that the France team is doing well. We're finishing up the list that Jay Hocking gave us at the beginning of our stay. I never thought that we'd finish, but this is a super motivated team. We've finished building a retaining wall, treating the wood on the patio, tiling the dining room floor, building concrete stairs, painting in the new building and lots of little jobs like mowing, cleaning rooms and helping with meals and dishes. God couldn't have given us a better--more united team. Tuesday evening we enjoyed a barbecue with some Grace Brethren missionaries and the Pastor and his wife, Gerard and Dominique Maldonado, of the Macon Grace Brethren church. Wednesday is our last full day then we leave the Chateau on Thursday afternoon. We arrive in Paris at about 7:45 PM. We plan to spend the evening doing some visiting in Paris and then we'll crash at the airport and catch our plane for the US on Friday AM. Thanks much for your prayers and support, Marlin--For the team."

Working One Day a Week: Part 7 - Wednesday

Hump Day,” as some call it, is a very busy day. Most Wednesdays I leave the house at 7:30am and stay all the way through until 8:30pm. After my usual personal time I am ready for a morning of meetings and appointments. One Wednesday a month I meet with one particular Elder for a time of one-on-one prayer. This is a valuable time for me as it gives me the opportunity to share personal needs and ministry concerns in a safe setting.

Every Wednesday from 10:00am to noon, we have an Executive Staff meeting. This is a meeting with myself, Tim Auld (Executive Pastor) and Rick Bernhardt (Sr Administrator). Each week we meet has a different purpose.

On the first Wednesday of the month we work through what we call our “Top 25 Planes to Land.” I had an air-traffic controller who worked at O’Hare, the busies airport in the world, tell me that the key to success is that you have to land the planes one at a time. On this week we look at the next 25 planes we need to land in our ministry and evaluate where we are on each of them.

On the second Wednesday of the month we look at the ministry calendar for the next 12 months – always adding one more month to the list. This allows us to always be aware of what we have going on one year in advance.

On the third Wednesday of the month we bring in Dennis Jordan, our Finance Manager, and we discuss all the details to the previous month’s financial reports.

On the fourth Wednesday, our Manager’s join us and we look at a similar list to our first week’s meeting, but this is only, “Our Top 10 Planes to Land.”

If there is a 5th week of the month we make that an informal meeting with no agenda – we just talk.

Once a month on Wednesday morning I teach a Bible Study at our Primetime Bible Fellowship. Primetimers are those who are over age 55 (and willing to admit it).

Wednesday afternoon are again given primarily to study. Along with the studying I do all week in regards to Sunday mornings, I also have to take study time to plan other speaking events like the monthly Primetime Bible Study and monthly Staff Meetings, among other things.

Most Wednesday evenings I reserve two hours in my schedule for appointments with people who need to talk but can’t make it in during the work day. Twice a year I also teach a Pre-Marital Class for four consecutive weeks for those whose weddings I will be officiating. Several times a year I also teach an Understanding Grace Class on Wednesday nights for those who are new to Grace and are interested in learning more about our church or even becoming a member.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Working One Day a Week: Part 6 - Tuesday

As in the case with all my other work days, Tuesday starts off with me personal time followed by a morning of appointments and meetings. On the first Tuesday of each month I lead a meeting for our full staff. This includes all pastors, ministry leaders, support and maintenance staff, as well as the administrative staff of Lititz Christian School and MorningStar Childcare. At this meeting we take the first part to share how we have seen God working in our ministry over the previous month. I then lead the staff in a teaching time that is designed to be a spiritually educational and motivational time. A couple other times a month I also am part of a Managers and Ministry Leaders meeting on Tueday mornings that is led by Tim Auld, our Executive Pastor.

From a study perspective, I usually try on Tuesdays to literally type out a manuscript of my sermon for that coming Sunday. Now, obviously, I don’t preach by reading from a manuscript but this exercise helps me to really think through what I want to say and to prioritize the main points to fit within the timeframes I have. I will then read through that manuscript several times over the remainder of that week so that I become very familiar with the content of the message.

Though they don't report directly to me, once a month I also am starting to take an hour to meet with each ministry leader one-on-one in order to give them an opportunity to share with me anything that is on their heart – victories, goals, frustrations, needs, etc. These ministry leaders include Doug Kegarise, our Pastor of Children and Student Ministries; Jeremiah Kleylein, our Director of Student Ministries; Steve Burghart, our Pastor of Connections, and Whitie Willard, our Care Pastor. We will also add to this list our new Director of Children’s Ministry who starts in August. Some of these meetings are scheduled for Tuesdays.

Every Tuesday I also spend time in a one-on-one meeting with Tim Auld, our Executive Pastor. Tim is the one who pretty much runs the church side of our ministry while Rick Bernhardt runs the educational side of our ministry. This is a time for Tim to give me updates and for he and I to talk through any other issues, strategies or decisions that are in the works.

I also take time on Tuesday afternoons to send an e-mail to anyone who was a first time guest the following Sunday. By Tuesday I have received a copy of those cards and send a quick e-mail thanking people for checking out Grace Church and encouraging them to visit with us again.

Once a month on Tuesday night we have our Worship Design Team meeting. I talked about this a little bit back on my blog about Monday. This team and meeting is under the direction of David Felty, our Worship Arts Director. It involves several key creative people in our ministry and the job of this team is to brainstorm creative elements for our upcoming worship services. This team plans two months ahead. The meeting starts with evaluating past services. Then I take the team deeper into the week to week direction I plan to go with the sermons for the month we are planning. We then brainstorm all kinds of creative ideas. After much brainstorming we decide which elements we will focus in on and assign each of those elements to one of the team members to make happen. This is one of my most favorite meetings each and every month.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Working One Day a Week: Part 5 - Monday

After my personal time on Monday morning (described in last Wednesday’s posting) I am ready to attend our Team Huddle. Every Monday at 8:30am we gather as a staff out in the main office work area for a “stand-up” meeting. This meeting is run by our Managers (Dennis Jordan who is our Finance Manager, Craig Peters who is our Facility Manager, and Megan Wilkerson who is our Office Manager). At this Team Huddle the managers give us updates that we need to be aware of for that particular week.

At 9:30am I am scheduled to meet with David Felty, our Worship Arts Director. David and I use this time to do three main things. First, we evaluate the services from the previous day. What went well? What could have been better? In what ways did we miss our goals? In what ways did we hit our goals? How was the quality of the service elements? How were the audio and video aspects of the morning? What feedback had we heard about the morning? Second, we talk through the service order for the coming weekend. We try to think through every detail so that nothing catches us off guard come Sunday. Finally, we take time to talk through briefly the three to four Sundays following that. Is everything coming together as we had planned? Are we going to need to make any changes? Do we need to be communicating with any other staff members about any of the upcoming elements?

The rest of my Monday is pretty much given over totally to study. For me study each week involves two different focuses. First, I focus on the upcoming Sunday. Monday is the day I really pour in the mental juices to tearing apart the text and making sure that I am really understanding its meaning and its context as best as I possibly can. This is the day that I have to finalize my sermon notes for the morning program and my slides for the screens so that the staff member’s responsible can put these aspects of the Sunday service together.

But my study time each Monday also has to focus on the series that will be upcoming three months down the road. Here is why. Our Worship Design Team meets once a month (I will talk about that more in tomorrow’s blog) to plan the creative elements of the service. When they meet they are planning the services two months in advance. So when they meet in July, they will be planning the services for the month of September. In order to give them time prior to our meetings to prayerfully think through the services we will be planning, I have to get in their hands a rough draft overview of each sermon one month prior to our meeting. This means that at all times I have to be three months ahead in general study and sermon preparation. As you can imagine, that is quite a task. As a result, I give most all of my day Monday to study.

Every few weeks I am also Pastor of the Day on Monday. Monday’s are Pastor Whitie’s day off (Pastor Whitie does our hospital visitation) so each pastor takes a turn as Pastor of the Day on a Monday in case of any emergencies that come up that require a Pastor. The other thing I do every Monday is to send an update out to our entire staff and another one to our Elders, updating them on the victories of the weekend and the main activities of the coming week.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

LIAR - Part 7

This Sunday we conclude our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 3:14-18 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update #2 From our Grace Team in France

Below is update #2 that I recevied from Marlin Weaver who is leading our 9-member team from Grace Church in France. This update was received Friday night at 6:21pm (our time). Pictured above are 7 of the 9 team members.

"I wanted to send a quick update from our team here at the Chateau. Everyone is doing well. Our last team member, Stacy arrived today. She changed her ticket so that she could attend her grandmother's funeral. On our first day here Jay (Hocking) gave us a list of projects and told us to pick from the list. The teams response was "and the second day?" We've already finished about half of the list...Some of the things on the second half that we're starting on Monday are bigger projects, but the team is super motivated. We've already stained the windows and shutters on the "new" building, painted the hallways in the same building, built about half of the stone wall, and done all the prep work for tiling the dining room (we will start that on Monday). Tomorrow (Saturday) we'll be taking the day off work here at the Chateau and will spend the day in Geneva, Switzerland (about one and a half hours from the Chateau). We will be doing some sightseeing and souvenir shopping, but more importantly we'll be talking about the reformation... a movement that shaped much of the way we think and live in the US. Every time I go to Geneva I thank the Lord for men and women who were willing to study the Bible and say no to the unbiblical teaching of that time.There is a childrens weekend here at the Chateau this Saturday and Sunday and our team is looking forward to seeing the Chateau function as a ministry center. We will be attending the Grace Church of Macon on Sunday, and we hope to be an encouragement to them. God Bless, Marlin for the Chateau-France 2010 team."

Working One Day a Week: Part 4 - Saturday/Sunday

Ah, the weekend. For most it is their time away from work. For me, it is the busiest workdays of the week – but I wouldn’t trade the weekend for anything.

I keep Saturday mornings reserved for nothing but final preparations for Sunday. I take my role preaching on Sunday mornings very seriously. I want to be sure that I truly have a grasp on the heart of the passage and am communicating it in such a way that people keep interested, understand it, and are motivated to change because of it. That happens primarily by practicing. I am the type of person that does everything out-loud. Yes, I talk to myself. I like to say that I talk to myself because I need “expert advice.”

So on Saturday mornings I head down to another room in the church – usually the back room in the library – and I practice preaching my sermon just as if it were Sunday morning. Actually throughout the week I practice going through my sermon multiple times until I know it like the back of my hand. I don’t just think through what I am saying but also how I am saying it. I usually try to end my Saturday’s in the office by 1pm and use the afternoon as one of those “half-days” I get off. To be honest, it is very rare that I actually take the second half-day off that I am allotted. Saturday afternoons are usually for personal tasks like mowing the lawn and what have you. Saturday evenings are very similar to how I described Friday evenings in yesterday’s posting.

Sunday is the ultimate day. For me, that means getting up at 5:45am so that I am leaving the house by 6:15am. This gives me time to stop by the Hess gas station on 501 to get a cup of Dunkin Donuts Coffee and get things settled in my office prior to our 6:45 pre-service meeting. At 6:45 I meet with our Worship Arts Director along with our audio and media producers to go through the details of the morning’s services one final time. At 7am, it is time for my sound check which I also use to go through all of the overhead slides to make sure they are right and to give our technician an idea where I am going in the morning’s message.

While the worship band does their rehearsal beginning at 7:15, I use that hour to practice my sermon one more time and to spend some time alone with the Lord in worship. At 8:15am I head out to the auditorium to greet a few people before the first service begins at 8:30. In between each of our three worship services, I take time to shake as many hands as possible in the lobby for a few minutes before meeting again with the Worship Arts Director and producers again for 5 minutes to discuss if we need to change anything and to have prayer again for the upcoming service. I then try to spend about 10 minutes by myself back in my office while the next service starts, regrouping and having a light snack for energy.

After the third service I wrap things up in the office and I am usually ready to head out between 1pm-1:30pm. Typically we go grab some lunch and then head home where I shower and nap for the afternoon. Every once in a while I am part of “Lunch with Pastor Scott” where I spend some time with newer folks to the church telling them more about me and about Grace Church.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Working One Day a Week: Part 3 - Friday

This is the one day a week that I don’t work. I am given one full day and two half days off a week. I have chosen to take Friday as my full day off. Most pastors take Monday as their day off so they can recoup from the long day on Sunday. That just doesn’t work for me. I get hit with so many issues on Sunday at church that if I did not come into the office on Monday, I would think about them all day long and not enjoy my day off at all. I have found that if I can have a pretty good handle on what I am preaching on Sunday by Friday, I can usually relax on my day off.

I’d like to say that I sleep in later on Friday but the truth is that my internal body clock usually awakes me by 7am. I will then get showered, dress and have some coffee while I watch the morning news. I then spend 8-10am watching double episodes of one of my all-time favorite television dramas, The West Wing, on the Bravo network. I’ve always had a fascination with politics so watching the West Wing and getting a glimpse of how the inner workings of the White House functions is very appealing to me. I use that time while I am watching the tube to clip the coupons from Sunday and sort them in the coupon caddy while taking out the coupons that will expire that week. Sounds weird, I know, but I actually really enjoy it.

By 10am Laura and I are ready to head out for the day. Friday is a day we have always reserved for just the two of us and it is absolutely the highlight of my week. If you have attended Grace Church for any length of time then you know how we spend my day off – we go grocery shopping. That’s right. And at the risk of losing any “macho points” I may have with some of you, I have to admit that I love going grocery shopping wit my wife. OK – so what kind of life do I lead when one of my favorite hobbies and activities of the week is grocery shopping? I guess that’s debatable but Laura and I love it.

You have to understand that for us, grocery shopping is an all-day event. We don’t just go to one store – we got to multiple stores. We look through all of the ads in the newspaper and go that day wherever an item we need may be a couple cents cheaper. I’m sure we spend more on extra gas then we do on grocery savings, but the bottom line is – we enjoy it. While we are out that day we always grab lunch somewhere. Where we eat depends on what sounds good and where we happen to be at the time we get hungry.

After finally getting back home, unloading, and putting all of the groceries away, the rest of the evening is spent simply relaxing. Sometimes we will be invited out with another couple or family, which we also enjoy, but most Friday evenings we spend just lounging and relaxing around the house (well, I lounge...Laura doesn't stop most nights until time to go to bed).

By the time the clock strikes 11pm on Friday night I am ready for bed after having enjoyed a wonderful day with my wife and away from the day to day grind that accompanies ministry. The way I spend Friday is perfect for getting me all rested up as well as pumped up for the weekend of ministry ahead.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Update #1 From our Grace Team in France

Below is is the first e-mail update (including some pictures) that I received Wednesday night at 6:19 (our time) from Marlin Weaver who is leading our 9-member team from Grace Church currently on a work project in France. In his e-mail he mentions Jay and Debbie. Jay and Debbie Hocking are missioanries at the Chateau who are supported by our church:

"Hi Scott, Just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that we arrived safely at the Chateau de St Albain. We were very tired last evening, but everyone was a trooper. This morning we visited the Chateau and then decided on our first work projects. We've gotten a good start...We'll be tiling the dining room, painting shutters and windows in one of the buildings and building some cabinets. All those projects have been started. Jay and Debbie send their greetings. Marlin"

Working One Day a Week: Part 2 - Thursday

On a typical work day I leave the house by 7:30am. My first 60-80 minutes of the day, depending on my schedule that day, is what I call “personal time.” I use this time to start my day with the Lord and to get caught up on responding to my e-mails. One of the things I have always tried to do, especially as the church has grown, is to return any e-mail I receive within 24 hours if at all possible. I get many e-mails in a day from people within the ministry and I enjoy getting them and responding to them. Most of the time these e-mails are asking for advice on an issue or asking for an answer to a Biblical question. Sometimes these e-mails may be expressing a concern over something in the ministry. A lot of times these e-mails are forwarding items to me that people feel I may be interested in seeing or reading. My favorite ones are the e-mails in which people are sharing how God is working in their lives and using our ministry here at Grace to move them in their walk with the Lord. I take time each morning to read each and every e-mail sent to me and to respond to each of them personally.

On the first and third Thursday of each month I meet with 4 other Elders at a local restaurant at 7am. We use these times to discuss a book we are reading together that can help us individually and hopefully ultimately help our entire Elder Board in Leadership Development. Currently, we are reading and discussing Alexander Strauch’s book called, “Biblical Eldership.” On these mornings my personal time is moved back as I do not get into the office until about 9am.

One a month we also have a pastoral staff meeting which includes our 5 pastors. This meeting is led by Pastor Tim, our Executive Pastor. All other Thursday mornings are spent working specifically on my message for the upcoming Sunday. By this time of the week I am pretty much done with the majority of the study regarding the passage. I use this time to go on-line and see how other pastors preached on this passage by reading through some on-line sermon transcripts or listening to some on-line messages of pastors I know and trust.

Lunch each work day can be different. Often I use my lunch hour to meet with people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes many of the guys in the office will spontaneously decide to go grab a bite. Most days, though, I bring something from home and use my lunch time to continue to study while I eat in my office.

Thursday afternoons I often spend in appointments that people have scheduled with me. Each Thursday at 2:30, I meet with Rick Bernhardt, our Sr Administrator of Lititz Christian School and MorningStart Childcare. Rick is one of the two individuals in our ministry that reports directly to me. We spend anywhere from 90 minutes, sometimes up to two hours, talking through the major issues of our educational ministries here at Grace.

Thursday evenings are Elder meeting nights. Our full Elder Board, made up of all of our pastors and several other men form our church, meets every 3rd Thursday of the month. The Executive Committee of our Elder Board then meets every other month on the 1st Thursday. These meetings begin at 7pm and typically last 2-3 hours in length depending on the agenda.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Working One Day a Week: Part 1 - Introduction

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard it said as a joke I would be able to pay cash for my children’s college education. I am talking about the phrase that goes something like, “It sure must be nice to have a job where you only have to work one day a week!” Now I know that 9 times of out 10 people are kidding, but I have to be honest, every once in a great while a little twinge of, “I sure would like to slap you right upside the head right now” does tend to form inside of me when this happens. I remember one pastor saying how after church one Sunday a lady shook his hand and said, “Oh, pastor. What soft hands you have. I bet you haven’t seen a hard day’s work in your entire life.”

Again, I realize that the vast majority of time, these types of comment are purely innocent and simply meant to be funny – and in many cases they really are. But I also realize that in almost all of these cases the statements come from a bit of ignorance. What I mean is that the average person who sits in church on Sunday really has no clue as to what the pastor or other church staff members for that matter, do all week. A Worship Arts Director told me one time of the person who said to him, “After you pick out the 5 songs we are going to sing on Sunday, what else do you do all week?” A former Director of Children’s Ministry told me of the time that someone asked him, “Other than picking out and ordering the curriculum for Sundays, what else do you do?

So I thought I would take an entire week (7 days total) to do a series of blog posts on what I do all week. I realize that this may make some people uncomfortable because they don’t like it when I get too transparent. Others might say, “There he goes again just talking about himself.” But please understand that my purpose in writing this series of blogs is to allow you to see more inside the life and the mind of your pastor. Obviously I will not even be able to come close to mentionting everything I do but I can give you a quick snapshot of my typical week.

One note before I start this day by day journey of one of my average weeks. One thing I won’t mention in the coming postings is that most days there is time set aside in my schedule for appointments. I really don’t call this counseling because I am not a counselor. I started my college career as a counseling minor and was bored to tears in my first counseling class so I switched to a Greek minor. I don’t provide “professional counseling” but I do meet with people often to talk about what the Bible has to say about issues they are facing and to to pray with them.

I try to remain available when people in the church have an issue they want to talk through with their pastor. These times are often very draining as in most cases they center around real hurts, pains and failures that people are facing. In recent weeks I have met with people whose marriages are breaking up, who are facing abuse-oriented issues, who are dealing with serious physical adversities like cancer, and other heart-wrenching issues. But these times can also include meeting newer people to our church who have questions about our church, the Bible, or Jesus. There are also the couples I meet with for pre-marital counseling. I love those times!

So – what does your pastor do all week? If you’re interested in knowing check back tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Go Tribe!

Laura and I are going down with friends to watch the Phillies play my beloved Cleveland Indians tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Hopefully my struggling Indians can at least spank the Phils!

Can I Speed Up The Return Of Jesus?

In my post yesterday we saw that in light of the fact that Jesus is going to return, 2 Peter chapter three teaches us of our need to live holy and godly lives and to eagerly await His return. In verse twelve peter also tells us that we should be “hastening” the Day of God (I explained my view on the Day of God in yesterday’s post). In other words, we should be actively involved in speeding up its coming. Can we really do that? We must be able to if Peter gives this as an admonition. But how? How can I hasten – how can I speed up the Day of God? I think there just might be two possibilities.

First, it just might be that we can hasten the Day of God by praying. Remember how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10. He said to pray, “You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” What is this a prayer about? When will this happen that the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven? That will occur during the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus says that we should pray for that day to come. That is exactly how the Apostle John prayed in the very last prayer recorded in the Bible in Revelation 22:20 when he writes, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!”

Second, it also might be that we can hasten the Day of God by preaching. Speaking of the time period during the 7-year tribulation before He returns to set up His kingdom on earth, Jesus taught this in Matthew 24:14. He said, “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” When you combine this with the fact that Peter taught us that one of the reasons Jesus hasn’t come back yet is because God is giving more time for people to hear and respond to the Gospel so they do not perish, it would seem to me that every time we share our faith in Jesus we are hastening, we are working to speed up that coming Day of God.

So with that being said, let me end this series of posts by talking to those of you who are reading who have been checking out church and checking out the claims of Christ but who have not yet put your faith in His death and resurrection for your sins. Jesus has not come back yet, has He? And do you know why He hasn’t? Because in His patience He is giving you another opportunity to change your mind about Jesus and put your faith in Him alone. Right now you have another chance due to the patience of God and His desire for you not to perish – not to go to hell. But one day those chances will come to and. In fact, today could very well be your final chance. God’s patience does not eliminate His judgment. So if you have never put your faith alone in the death and resurrection of Jesus – may I strongly encourage you to make that decision today? For whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!

Even so come, Lord Jesus! Even so come today!
Even so come Lord Jesus! Catch up Thy Bride away!
O how my heart is yearning! Longing for Thy returning!
Even so come Lord, Jesus! Even so come today!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Will I Miss Out On When Jesus Returns?

In 2 Peter 3:8-10, Peter answers the question as to why Jesus has not come back yet as He promised. You can read about this in my earlier posts. In verse 11, Peter now moves to our conduct as His followers in light of the fact that He is one day going to return. Based on this, what “sort of people” are we to be? This deals with more than the surface. When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee with just His words, His disciples asked each other , “What sort of person is this?” So what sort of people should we be in light of the fact that Jesus is going to return?

First, we should live holy and godly lives according to verse 11. The word “holy” refers to our external actions while the word “godly” refers more to our internal attitudes. Realizing that Jesus is going to return should completely change how we act and how we think.

Second, Peter says in verse 12 that we should anticipate the Day of God. Notice that in verse 10 he refers to the Day of the Lord but in verse 12 he uses the name, Day of God. Some would say that they are the same – they are synonymous. I don’t think so. I believe that the Day of the Lord speaks of the time of judgment that takes place in between the start of the tribulation and the end of the Millennial Kingdom while the Day of God speaks of eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. It is the Day of the Lord that brings us the hope of the Day of God.

Peter says we should be “looking for” the Day of God. “Looking for” carries the idea of expectancy. We are to be eagerly awaiting the day when we will live with God forever in this new heaven and this new earth. Have you noticed that the older you get the more this becomes true – the more you find yourself eagerly awaiting eternity with God? I am only 45 years old but I find myself eagerly awaiting spending eternity with the Lord more now than ever before.

But what about the things I might miss if Jesus were to come back today? I am on the verge of empty nest. I am looking forward to this. I’ll miss my kids – but I am looking forward to the quiet, to having my car back, to knowing were my remote control is. And at some point I am looking forward to grandchildren. But if Jesus came back today, I’d miss all that. And I know what every teenager and single adult is thinking right now – what about missing out on that little 3-letter word that begins with “s” and ends with “x”? What about missing out on that?

The truth of the matter is this – seeing Jesus face to face and spending eternity with Him will be far more surpassing in enjoyment and fulfillment then anything I could possibly miss out on here on earth. You mean being with Jesus will be better than “empty nest”? Yes! You mean being with Jesus will be better than having grandchildren? Undoubtedly! You mean being with Jesus will be better than sex? Just a little – I’m only kidding – it will completely outshine sex. So instead of falling in love with empty nest; with being grandparents; with experiencing the pleasure of your wedding night – fall more in love with Jesus because seeing Him face to face and spending eternity with Him will be the greatest pleasure and the greatest joy that you could ever experience. As a result, we should be eagerly awaiting His coming.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

LIAR - Part 6

This Sunday we continue our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 3:8-13 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Hasn't Jesus Come Back Yet? (Part 2)

The delay in Jesus coming again isn’t just due to His not having the same perspective on time as we do, as we saw yesterday. It is also rooted in another aspect of God according to 2 Peter 3:9 – His compassion. Peter says that God is not slow concerning His promise to return. The word “slow” means that He is not late. It is a word that carries the idea of loitering. Jesus isn’t just loitering around up in heaven, apathetic, with nothing to do. That’s not why He hasn’t come back yet. Instead, the delay in our minds is explained by the fact that God is patient. This is a compound word made up of the word “large” and the word “great anger.” It means that God has a large capacity to store up anger before it spills out. That’s hard for many of us to understand because we don’t necessarily share that same quality. How many times does it take for someone to cut you off in traffic before your anger spills out? How many times does someone have to mistreat you before your anger spills out? How many times do your kids have to disobey you before your anger spills out?

But the key is in understanding why God is patient, why He has a large capacity to store up anger before it spills out. It is because God does not want anyone to perish but all to repent. The word “perish” speaks of being utterly destroyed. I believe it is referring to eternal punishment – yes, I am talking about hell. Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? He hasn’t returned yet because God is patient, not wanting to see anyone spend eternity in hell. Instead, He is giving time for sinful man to repent. He is giving time for sinners to change their mind about Jesus and realize that He is the Son of God, that He is the only one who died to pay the penalty for their sin, that He is the one who rose from the dead, that He is the only way to heaven. In other words, why hasn’t Jesus come back yet as He promised? Well, if you have yet to put your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin, you are the reason. He is giving another chance for you to admit your sin and turn to Jesus.

But don’t be mistaken. Don’t think that this additional opportunity for repentance will last forever. It won’t. God’s compassion does not eliminate judgment. Peter is clear about this in verse ten. Though God, in His patience, is giving additional time for sinners to repent and turn to Jesus, the bottom line is that the Day of the Lord will come. The Day of the Lord is a time of judgment which starts at the beginning of the Tribulation period. This is a 7-year period of judgment on the earth due to unbelief. I believe that the tribulation does not begin until Jesus returns to take His church, those who have put their faith in His death and resurrection, to heaven in an event we call the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4). At the end of this tribulation, Jesus will return to this earth and set up His kingdom that we refer to as the Millennial Kingdom, where He will reign supreme in righteousness for 1,000 years. During that time Satan will be locked up in a pit. But at the end of this 1,000 years, Satan will be loosed and lead one last and final rebellion that will be squelched by God as He destroys the present heavens and earth with fire and creates a new heaven and earth. So the Day of the Lord that Peter refers to starts at the beginning of the tribulation period and lasts through the destruction of the present heavens and earth. Right now, He is giving more time to repent – but the Day of the Lord will come.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Hasn't Jesus Come Back Yet? (Part 1)

In chapter two of 2 Peter, we learn all about false teachers. We learn at the beginning of the chapter that they exist today and that their existence is under the umbrella of Christianity – even in the church. We see at the end of the chapter that they are as disgusting as vomit and as filthy as pigs wallowing in the mire. The verses in between gave us a litany of phrases describing their danger. Then, in the early verses of chapter three, Peter introduces us to a “sub-group” of false teachers that he calls mockers who are also among us and in the church. What is the difference between a false teacher and a mocker? False teachers deny the truth by distorting the Scriptures while mockers deny the truth by making light of Scripture.

In both cases, one of the main teachings of Peter that was under attack by the false teachers and the mockers of his day was the fact that Jesus is coming back. The early church definitely believed that this was true and it seems apparent from their writings that they expected it to happen in their lifetime. The mockers ridiculed this truth saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” They used this question to make fun of a very important truth that should bring hope to each of us as believers. So beginning in verse eight of 2 Peter chapter three, Peter answers their question. Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? The answer is rooted in God’s character. You see, to attack the Word of God, as the false teachers and mockers do, is to attack the very character of God because His Word and His character are linked inseparably.

So why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? The first answer to that question is that God has a different perspective on time than we do. This is hard for us to imagine in our day and age because we are literally confined, sometimes even enslaved to time. Let me prove it. Do you where a watch? How many times a day do you look to see what time it is? Could you go an entire day without ever knowing what time it was? The answers to all of these questions demonstrates how so very much of our lives is ruled by time.

In fact, our church services are ruled by time. I am a stickler to the fact that we have to start on time – even though in most cases well more than half of those who will ultimately be in the service are still in the lobby, in the parking lot or even still driving to church. And our services are all time-oriented. We know exactly how long each song and each element of the service takes. I know what time I am supposed to start preaching and I know at what time I am supposed to stop preaching and we follow that schedule. We are controlled by time – even in church.

Bu Jesus hasn’t come back yet because God has a different perspective on time. Peter says that one day to God is like a thousand years to us and a thousand years is like one day. Peter is quoting from Psalm 90:4 which teaches us that God transcends time. It has been over 2,000 years since Jesus ascended back into heaven after promising to return. For us, two thousand years is a long, long, long time. That’s why mockers ridicule this promise. They don’t understand the character of God. 2,000 years to Him is like a night’s sleep to us. So why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? One reason is because in God’s view, it hasn’t been all that long since the promise was first made.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grace Church Trip To France

A 9-member team from Grace Church is ready to embark on another short-term mission’s trip, this time to France. This work team will be leaving on Monday, June 21st. Please be praying for them. Their detailed itinerary is seen below:

2:30 PM June 21, 2010 – Departure Lititz Grace Lobby

11:30 PM June 21 Departure from JFK flight Air France #9

12:30 PM June 22 -- AM Arrive Paris

June 22 -- Visit Paris

7:08 PM June 22 -- PM Take fast train to Macon

8:43 PM June 22 -- Evening Arrive in Macon and on to the Chateau

June 23 -- AM Visit Chateau and discover work projects

June 23 -- PM Begin work projects

June 24-26 -- Continue work projects

June 26 -- Afternoon and PM Visit Macon do some souvenir shopping

June 27 -- AM Go to French church in Macon

June 27 -- Afternoon visit area around the Chateau

June 28 -- July 1 – Continue work projects

During these days we will plan an afternoon trip to Geneva, Switzerland (on a sunny afternoon), a picnic with local missionaries, at least on other evening trip to the local grocery store and shops for souvenirs, and a picnic with the Macon church.

July 1 (6:07 PM) -- Train to Paris

July 1 Evening Visit in Paris then crash at airport until morning flight

July 2 -- Return flight to US by way of Manchester, England

July 2 (1:55 PM) -- Arrive JFK

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

July Book List Continued

Yesterday I introduced to your our upcoming Prayer Challenge for the month of July. This includes everyone in the Grace Church family being encouraged to pick up and read a good book on prayer. On our church website we have a list of 16 books recommend by our staff and Elders. I shared 4 of these books with you yesterday. Below are the final 12 titles. Be sure to go to our website ( which contains links where you can order one of these books for July! If you want to be a leader you have to be a reader – so let’s all read about prayer in July!

Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels
Recommended by John Kegarise, Elder Board Chairman – “Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels is an excellent book because it is practical, deals with the struggle to be consistent in prayer and gives you a way to overcome the common obstacles to prayer and instructs you how to pray.”

The Great House Of God: A Home For Your Heart by Max Lucado
Recommended by Tim Auld, Executive Pastor – “This book is a simple read that allows the reader to see their prayer life visually through the lens of a home. It is a very practical read that allows the reader to put into place some tangible steps that to engage the very heart of God by making room for Him in your heart (home) through times of prayer (talking with Him).”

Handle With Prayer by Charles Stanley
Recommended by Dan Buch, Elder Board Member – “This short book gives a practical understanding of prayer, including chapters on Praying with Authority, Why Our Prayers Are Unanswered, and A Time to Wait, a Time to Act. It is a good book to help improve our prayer lives.”

Together In Prayer: Coming To God In Community by Andrew Wheeler
Recommended by Steve Burghart, Pastor of Connections – “Lots of us know how to pray privately, but what happens when we come together as God’s people and ‘pray together?’ Wheeler addresses the fundamentals of prayer (individual, corporate, and community). He also explains why and how community prayer needs to differ from individual prayer in a crowd. This is a great book for small groups to do together so that they can faithfully pray in unity as the Bible instructs us. Each chapter ends with group discussion questions.”

Other books on prayer:

The Power Of Praying For Your Adult Children by Stormie Omartian
Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore
How To Listen To God by Charles Stanley
Prayer: The Great Adventure by David Jeremiah
Alone With God: Rediscovering The Passion Of Prayer by John MacArthur
A Hunger For God by John Piper
Praying The Lord’s Prayer For Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns

Monday, June 14, 2010

July Prayer Challenge

As you know, 2010 is our Year of Prayer here at Grace Church and as part of this we are participating together as a ministry family in a Prayer Challenge each and every month throughout the year. For the month of June we just finished up last Sunday our 7-Days of Non-Stop Prayer for our ministry by our ministry. Wasn’t that great? Now it is time to start gearing up for July. Our upcoming prayer challenge for the month of July is to see everyone who is part of our ministry read a book related to prayer.

A page is available on our website ( that gives a suggested list of books on prayer that have been recommended by our Staff and Elders here at Grace. This page also includes links where you can order the book you would like to read during the month of July. I will use my blog postings today and tomorrow to share with you this list of books. Be sure to get yourself a copy of one of these books, or pick another one you know of that is not on the list. Get yours before July so that we can all read a good book on prayer during this summer month.

Books Recommended by Staff and Elders:

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
Recommended by Barry Brooks, Elder Board Treasurer - “I saw a video over a dozen years ago of Jim Cymbala talking about prayer. It was powerful. I have read two of his books on prayer - Fresh Wind Fresh Fire and Fresh Wind Fresh Faith.”

Prayer: Does It Make A Difference by Philip Yancey
Recommended by Megan Wilkerson, Office Manager – “I believe this book is worth reading because the author covers many common questions about prayer: how to pray? Why? Does prayer change God or change me? Why does it seem like my prayers aren’t answered? I appreciated his simple language and insight. It was easy to understand and then apply to my life. Yancey also tells many stories throughout the book, from the Bible, from history, and from current events.”

The Power Of The Praying Wife, Woman, Parent, Husband by Stormie Omartian
Recommended by Laura Distler, Worship Arts Assistant – “Any of the Prayer Series by Stormie Omartian would be great. These are the ones that I’m most familiar with are. Stormie has designed these books with short chapters, each dealing with a specific topic ending with scripture to pray through regarding that particular topic.”

The Power Of A Praying Teen by Stormie Omartian
Recommended by Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Children and Student Ministries – “This book is part of a popular series of prayer books, but focuses on the prayer lives of teens. Each of the 20 chapters, each loaded with Scripture references, is designed to help students pray in a way that focuses their attention on God and who He has created them to be. It has an attractive and interesting layout to keep the attention of young readers and includes a sample prayer, related Scripture and thought-provoking study questions at the end of each chapter.”

Saturday, June 12, 2010

LIAR - Part 5

This Sunday we continue our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 3:1-7 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Sequel to the Whale - Part 3

Over the last two posts we have shown from Nahum chaper one how mighty and evil the city of Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire was. We have also seen how they were no match for God. Yesterday we saw that God is jealous – meaning that He has a burning desire to see justice and righteousness. Based on that fact of God, vengeance on Nineveh was assured. We also saw that God is slow to anger. That is why His judgment doesn’t always come quickly. He gives man time to repent. Today we see two more characteristics of God in Nahum chapter one that makes Nineveh no match for Him.

God is great in power (v3b-6). God’s being slow to anger in taking vengeance on Assyria was certainly not because of lack of power or a need to build up His strength. His power is evident.

His power is seen in His ability to control hurricanes and storms (v3). The people of Nineveh certainly didn’t have that power.

His power is seen in His being above the clouds – He walks on the clouds. Can the Assyrians do that? Can King Sennacherib do that? (v3)

His power is seen in His ability to cause seas and rivers to dry up (v4). He did so for Israel when He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Jesus showed this divine power when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee and walked on water. Can any Assyrian mimic this?

His power is seen in His ability to cause fertile lands to wither and cause the elements to shudder (v5). In other words, who are the people of Nineveh when compared to God? His delay in bringing judgment isn’t because of a lack of power – it’s because of an abundance of grace.

The conclusion is obvious. No one can withstand His power. The Assyrians thought they could. In 2 Kings 18:35, as they laid siege on Jerusalem, the captain of Sennacherib’s armies asked this question, “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” He thought he was invincible He thought he was no match for this Jewish God. But he found out wrong, as we saw yesterday, when the angel of the Lord came while his army was sleeping and slew 185,000 of his fighting men.

We must remove any thoughts from our minds of God being limited in power and compare His power with any force in our life that we see as great. J.I. Packer put it this way, “We are modern men, and modern men, though they cherish great thoughts of man, as a rule have small thoughts of God.”

God is jealous. God is slow to anger. God is powerful. And finally, Nahum reminds us that God is good (v7-8). This jealous and powerful God that takes vengeance on His enemies is just as powerful in protecting those who trust Him (v7). In verse 8, Nahum predicts the destruction of the city of Nineveh which occurred in 612 BC just as he said it would. And that’s just the beginning 8 verses of this amazing book of Nahum which is the sequel to the story of Jonah and the Whale.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sequel to the Whale - Part 2

Yesterday I introduced you to the mighty city of Nineveh to which Nahum delivers his threatening message. I ended yesterday’s posting by telling you how the city of Nineveh struck great fear in the hearts of those who lived in Judah. But still, Nineveh was no match for God. And now beginning in verse two of chapter one, Nahum describes God in contrast to the mighty city of Nineveh. Charles Feinberg put it this way, “Against the ruthless invaders the prophet places before their eyes their own majestic and omnipotent God.” In so doing, Nahum give us four characteristics about God.

First, God is jealous (v2). Now when we think of jealousy we use the term in a negative sense. But the Hebrew word carries the idea of “zeal” or “burning desire.” God’s burning desire – His jealousy - for both justice and righteousness would result in vengeance and wrath toward Assyria. It is important to understand just how much Assyria had devastated the Jewish people. In fact, Judah had been terrorized by Assyria for over 300 years. Those who had repented under Jonah more than a century earlier had not been successful in passing down this repentance to their children and grandchildren. As a result, Nineveh had returned to their cruel and evil practices. That’s why Nahum uses words like “bloody” (3:1) and “evil” (3:19) to describe them.

In 722 BC, the Assyrians had destroyed Samaria, the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In 701 BC they had nearly captured Jerusalem and would have if God had not intervened. We read about this intervention in 2 Kings 19:32-26. Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, had laid a siege on the city of Jerusalem and it looked like all was lost. But overnight, as the Assyrian army slept, the Angel of the Lord went through the camp and struck down 185,000 men. When the others awoke the next mroning they found all of these dead bodies and Sennacherib led them in a quick retreat. Now Nahum is saying very clearly that God’s jealousy, his burning desire for justice and righteousness, would be shown. In fact, the certainty of His justice is seen in that Nahum three times in verse number two alone announces that the Lord will take vengeance. God is a jealous God.

Second, God is slow to anger (v3a). God will take vengeance but He hadn’t yet. Why? Because He is slow to anger. God hadn’t forgotten about this punishment. He wasn’t going to overlook these injustices. So why was He delaying? He was delaying punishment (and would continue to delay this punishment another 100 years after Nahum’s writing) because He always gives gracious time for people to repent. That’s why He had spared Nineveh for the last 100 to 150 years since the time of Jonah – because Nineveh repented. According to the New Testament, that is why His Son has not yet returned to bring final judgment on the world, because He is giving people more time to repent (2 Peter 3:8-9). Every day that Jesus does not return is another day that God has given man to repent and put their faith in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Yes, Nineveh was great. Without question, the Assyrian Empire was strong. But they could in no way stand up against Jehovah. God is jealous – He will right all wrongs and bring justice to every injustice. He is also slow to anger. Why does He wait to judge? Because He is giving time for men to repent. Tomorrow we will see two more characteristics of this mighty God.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Sequel to the Whale - Part 1

Every good movie seems to have a sequel today. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a sequel yet that could hold a candle to the original movie. Such is not the case in the Old Testament. Jonah is one of the most exciting books in the Hebrew Bible. But its sequel carries just as much action and amazement. I am speaking of the book of Nahum – The sequel to Jonah – The sequel to the story about the whale. This Wednesday I start teaching through the book of Nahum to our Primetime group here at Grace (Primetime is a ministry for those who are over age 55). I love the first 9 verses of this sequel so I thought I would take the next few days to describe them.

Let’s start with the prophet himself, Nahum, mentioned in verse 1. We know little about him as he is only mentioned by name in this one verse. Nahum is also mentioned in Luke 3:25 but it is a different Nahum, one who was an ancestor of Jesus. All we are told about the Nahum of the Old Testament is that he was an Elkoshite, meaning he was from the town or village of Elkosh. Though we cannot be certain of the location of Elkosh it is possible that it was a small city in Galilee. In fact, the city of Capernaum, which was the Galilean headquarters of Jesus, literally means, “village of Nahum,” so it is quite possible that Capernaum was named after the Prophet Nahum who wrote the sequel to Jonah.

The name Nahum literally means “consolation” or “comforter.” We know that he was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Nahum’s ministry most likely occurred about 100 to 150 years after the ministry of Jonah and 100 years before the final destruction of Nineveh which occurred during the reign of Hezekiah. The theme of the book is “The Judgment on Nineveh.” In fact, in verse 1 Nahum call his writing an “oracle” which means a load or a burden. Nahum was delivering a threatening message from God to Nineveh. The tone of his writing is more severe and shows more passion than any of the other Minor Prophets in the Old Testament.

The city of Nineveh is first mentioned back in Genesis 10:11-12 when it was built by a man named Nimrod. At the time of Jonah and Nahum it was the capitol of the Assyrian Empire. This was the same city which, over 100 years earlier, had repented under the ministry of Jonah after he was swallowed by the great fish and spit out on Nineveh’s shore. The city was nothing short of amazing. From a military standpoint, it appeared to be impregnable. The walls of the city were 100 feet high and they were wide enough that chariots could race on top of them. The wall around the city had a circumference of 60 miles with over 1,200 towers. The Royal Palace in the city had an area of nearly 100,000 square feet and the Palace walls were sculptured with all the many scenes of King Sennacherib’s military conquests. The city was very garden like with many parks and even a zoo. It was called “The Great City” by God in Jonah 1:2.

And you should also note that the Assyrians were very cruel and ferocious. I could tell you many stories and give you many accounts of their horrific actions that would make your stomach turn and your heart sink. If you were to say the word “Nineveh” to someone living in Judah at the time of Nahum, fear would be able to be seen in their eyes. But still, as we will see tomorrow, Nineveh was no match for God!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Shrek Speaks to Adults

On Memorial Day my whole family (me, my wife, my daughter, my son, my son’s girlfriend, as well as my mom and my dad) went to the movie theater to see the new Shrek movie in 3-D. I’m not much into cartoons anymore but I am still a sucker for a cartoon with some good humor. So I have always enjoyed the Shrek movies. Besides, who can resist a talking donkey that sounds like Eddie Murphy? Every time that beast of burden opened its mouth I found myself laughing (at least on the inside).

The movie was a typical sequel – you know – never as good as the original (especially when there are multiple sequels). But I left this move with a smile on my face for more reason than just laughing at the Eddie Murphy sounding donkey. This time my smile was because of two very wonderful morals that the movie taught that both connected with me as a 45-year old adult. Before I give you the two morals that I found, I first must give you a brief overview of the flick.

In case you never have seen any of the Shrek movies, you may not know that Shrek is an ogre who in the first movie rescues the cursed princess from the dragon’s lair. As a result, he marries the princess, has children and becomes a hero in “Far Away Land.” But as the new Shrek adventure in 3-D opens, the ogre misses the days of having everyone being scared of him and is ultimately tricked by the evil Rumpelstiltskin who agrees to allow him to re-live one of those days from his past in exchange for a day from his childhood. This lands Shrek into a life where his wife does not know him, and without true love’s kiss from her, he will cease to exist.

Through this misadventure, Shrek comes to the conclusion that you never really realize how good you have it until you no longer have it. Shrek had forgotten how good he had it as a popular ogre married to a loving princess with three ogre-looking children until he no longer had any of it. How true is that about so much of our lives? We forget how good we have it as a family until we are separated from our families. We forget how good we have it where we work until we lose our job. We forget how good we have it where we worship until we no longer are able to worship there. I believe the Apostle Paul would agree with this moral as he was the one who said that we need to learn to be content in all situations of our lives.

But my favorite moral in this movie came at the end after Shrek had won back his princess wife but it appeared it was too late. And as he began to dissolve into nothingness, his wife apologized to him for not seeing his love in time. Shrek’s answer is awesome. He says something along these lines, “You gave me a special gift. I got to fall in love with you all over again.” WOW! I only wish every married couple that sees that movie hears that line. What a great truth to lift up at the end of this cartoon movie. There are few gifts more special in life than being able to fall in love with our spouses all over again.

Oh how I wish every husband could learn this Shrek-like value. We need to fall in love with our wives all over again. Oh, how I wish every wife could learn this Shrek-like value as well. Take time to fall in love with your husband all over again. Far too many people end up not realizing how special their marriage is until they no longer have it. Don’t make that mistake.

Monday, June 07, 2010

And We Pray...Non-Stop

At the stroke of midnight this morning we began our 7 Days of Non-Stop Prayer by Grace Ministries for Grace Ministries. Below are the 10 prayer requests that we are remembering during this June Prayer Challenge as part of our Year of Prayer.

Pray for the hiring of the right person by to be our new Director of Children’s Ministry.

Pray for us to end the year strong financially and that God would bless us abundantly in this area in the new fiscal year which begins July 1.

Pray that we as a church family would develop a real servant’s heart and that each person who attends Grace would actively become involved in serving within our ministry.

Pray that Lititz Christian School and MorningStar Childcare would meet their fund-raising goal of $162,000 by June 30th.

Pray that we would see hundreds more people here at Grace get plugged into a Connect Group.

Pray that God would work in special ways as we continue to develop our PRIMETIME ministry for those who are 55 years or older here at Grace

Pray that we would be able to pay off our new café and building addition within 3 years

Pray that enrollment for the next academic year at Lititz Christian School would surpass our projections and that summer camps would be well attended

Pray that as we study through 2 Peter that each of us would take to heart Peter’s admonition to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)

Pray that God would continue to use Grace Church to meet as many people as possible right where they are and to help move them to where He wants them to be including His blessing on our missionaries around the world supported by Grace Church.

If you have not signed up to cover a 15-minute segment this week, be sure to go to our church website ( and do so right now. To accomplish our challenge we need to fill a total of 672 slots. Each slot is 15-minutes long – some are in the middle of the night. We still have slots that need filled. Once at our website, click on the June Prayer Challenge and then one of the dates on the calendar between June 7-13. Then just fill in the information and submit your reservation. Remember, nothing of eternal importance happens without prayer. Will you join us for this challenge and be part of Grace Ministries 7 Days of Non-Stop Prayer? Only eternity will tell the impact that these next 7 days will have! Let’s pray!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

At The Stroke Of Midnight

At the stroke of midnight tonight we begin our 7-Days of Non-Stop Prayer by our ministry for our ministry here at Grace. If you haven't yet, be sure to visit our church website ( and click on the June Prayer Challenge banner so that you can reserve one or more of the time slots that are remaining for people to pray during. each time slot is juts 15 minutes in length. Once you reserve a spot, you will receive a confirmation e-mail also containing 10 prayer requests to remember as your pray!

So let's pray Grace Church! After all, nothing of eternal importance happens without prayer!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

LIAR - Part 4

This Sunday we continue our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 2:10-22 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Friday, June 04, 2010

We All Need a Donkey to Talk to Us Sometimes

As we continue our LIAR study through the book of 2 Peter this Sunday we will see that Peter will single out one false prophet from the Old Testament in particular. His name is Balaam and in 2 Peter 2:15 we learn that this false teacher loved the wages of unrighteousness more than he loved living for God. Remember that description. Let me give you a quick overview of the story of Balaam which you can read in its entirety in Numbers 22-24.

The name Balaam means to “swallow hard” or “gulp down.” Perhaps you eat like that – simply devouring your food. That was the kind of reputation Balaam had as a prophet. Whoever he cursed was soon after devoured. So one day Balak, king of Moab sends to hire Balaam to curse the children of Israel. Balak is in fear of them, their numbers and of the news of the way they had utterly destroyed the mighty Amorite nations. When Balak’s messengers get to Balaam with the job offer, Balaam seeks the counsel of God who tells him not to go back to Balak because he cannot curse this group of people that God had blessed (see Genesis 12:1-3).

Balak will not be told “no” so he again makes an even more lucrative offer to the Prophet. Balaam knows that God has already spoken and the that he cannot curse Israel whom God has blessed. But he goes back to God anyway hoping God will somehow change his mind. Why? Because Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness more than he loved living for God. So God says, “Go ahead” but he is angry with Balaam for his lack of commitment to Him.
Balaam gets on his donkey and starts the journey to King Balak. God puts an angel in the road with a drawn sword, no doubt to kill Balaam for his unrighteousness. Balaam does not see the angel but God opens the eyes of the donkey so he does. The donkey goes off the road to avoid the angel and Balaam beats the donkey. Awhile later the angel is standing in the middle of the road with a stone wall on either side. To avoid the angel the donkey goes to the side, crushing Balaam’s foot against the stone wall. So again Balaam beats the donkey. Then the donkey comes to a narrow spot in the road where the angel is standing with no room to go around him. So the donkey sits down and refuses to move forward and again Balaam beats the donkey.

Now the story really gets good. God now opens the mouth of the donkey who turns and says to Balaam (perhaps in the voice of Eddie Murphy), “What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?” Now if you think that is the most amazing part of the story, that the donkey talked to Balaam, you are wrong. The most amazing part is that Balaam talked back. Not me! I would have been out of there! But Balaam says, “You have made a fool out of me.” Wait a second Balaam. You’re the one talking to a donkey. Who made who the fool? Next, God opens the eyes of Balaam and he also sees the angel with the drawn sword and realizes that, had it not been for the donkey, his loving the wages of righteousness more than living for God would have been very detrimental to his well-being.

The truth is that all of us have pockets of “Balaam-like” strongholds in our lives. We all have a sin that we many times love more than we love living for God. And these strongholds can be horribly detrimental to us. Maybe we all could stand to have a donkey speak to us now and then.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Best of the Class of 2010

Tonight is graduation here at Grace Church for Lititz Christian School. The class of 2010 here at LCS is a very top notch class. These students have been as good for Lititz Christian School as Lititz Christian School has been for them. Over all, they are just a good group of young adults.

But in my humble opinion, there is one graduate in the class of 2010 that stands head and shoulders above them all, not just at LCS, but everywhere, and that is my son – Jonathan – who will officially end his High School career tonight as he walks across the stage and receives his High School Diploma.

So, I just have one question. How come when my son was born over 18 years ago, nobody offered me the biggest piece of advice I needed? I mean everyone seemed to have a nugget of wisdom to throw my way, and some of them were very helpful. But the truth is that nobody hit the bulls-eye with their words of wisdom. No one really shared what I needed to hear. And as a result, I made the fatal mistake that every parent seems to make.

What I needed was for someone to look me in the eye that day that Jonathan was born and say to me these amazing words of parental wisdom,

“Whatever you do, don’t blink!”

You see, that’s the fatal mistake I made. I blinked. I blinked and suddenly my son was no longer a baby – he was 18 years old and ready to walk across the stage and receive his high School diploma. Why didn’t anyone tell me not to blink?

So, as a result, I blinked and here we are. Our last child and our only son ready to graduate in a matter of hours. I’m not sad. I just feel kind of “weird” – does that make any sense at all? But at the same time I also feel very proud. There is something about watching a boy turn into a teenager and then into a man. It’s a thrill. With each phase there are challenges but as one period of life turns into the next the rewards and blessings are beyond description.

I wonder if God feels that way as He watches us grow in our faith. As we go from newborn babes who just put our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus to young children learning how to walk and talk like a Christ-follower – and then we move into spiritual adulthood and begin to spiritually reproduce in others – I wonder how God feels as he watches us, guides us, teaches us, and directs us. I wonder if He feels at all like I am feeling today on the day my son graduates.

So tonight is graduation. Tomorrow we will have the graduation party. Then we will be ready for summer as a family. But I have a feeling I’m going to make the same mistake as I did when he was first born. I’ll blink and as soon as I do summer will be over and both Joy and Jonathan will be at college. Yesterday on my blog I posted some pictures of my son through High School. In my opinion, he is the best of the class of 2010.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Jonathan - Part 3

The first two pictures below are of Jonathan singing/playing with his band, Eternal Mindset, at a concert down at Long's Park:

The picture below is of Jonathan leading worship as part of the Senior Class Chapel:

This final picture is of Jonathan with yours truly when I dressed up a Superman to help raise money for Lititz Christian School as part of their Race for Education: