Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 31, 2010

Pray today that our YEAR OF PRAYER would allow all of us who are part of Grace to become more committed to prayer!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

THIS SUNDAY'S LIVE WEBCAST: Learn What To Do When Your Prayers Don't get Answered

What do you do when your prayers do not get answered?

Do you keep asking?

How long do you keep praying about something before you give up?

Is it possible to "annoy" God into answering your prayers?

Join us this Sunday here at Grace Church in Lititz, PA as we continue our message series that we are calling, "PRAY '10!" This Sunday we will see from a story Jesus Himself told in Luke 18 the answers to these above questions as we talk about the need for perseverance in prayer.

If you can't join us live here at Grace Church (8:30am; 10am; 11:30am) then be sure to watch the live webcast of our 10am service (PA time) in its entirety by using the link below:

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 30, 2010

Pray today that we would see 2,500-3,000 people attend our four Easter services the weekend of April 3-4!

Friday, January 29, 2010

An Absurd Story About Prayer (part 2)


Yesterday I introduced to you a rather bizarre story that Jesus told His disciples in order to get them to see prayer as a priority and to pray persistently. If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog posting you really should before you go on and finish the story in today’s posting.

It appears that the widow in the story would simply stand outside the tent and holler into it. Can you imagine that? All through the day as the judge is inside presiding over cases, outside is this woman who just jeeps hollering over and over and over and over again:

“Hey, judge! Please help me! I need protection! I’m being taken advantage of! Hey, judge! Please help me! I need protection! I’m being taken advantage of! Hey, judge! Please help me! I need protection! I’m being taken advantage of! Hey, judge! Please help me! I need protection! I’m being take advantage of! Hey, judge! Please help me! I need protection!”

Now folks, I don’t care who you are, that is a bit bizarre, wouldn’t you say? It almost makes me chuckle to think about it and try to picture it in my mind. Can you imagine how annoying this must have been to this judge? But he was a hard man. Remember, he didn’t fear God or respect men. So at first, he stands his ground and is unwilling to grant her request. But a man, even a hard-hearted man like this judge, can only take so much. In the end, the judge gave her the protection she requested.

But why this sudden change of heart? The reason is clear. He didn’t change his mind due to fearing God nor did he change his mind due to respecting man. He changed his mind due to her persistence in asking. Her constant requests became a bother to him. Her constant requests wore him out.

Now, how is this story teaching us to be persistent in prayer? Is this story saying that if we annoy God enough He will get tired of us and say, “Here take what you want, just leave me alone”? Of course not. In verses 6-8, Jesus gives the thrust of his bizarre story. He begins by comparing the judge in the parable with God.

This parable is not teaching that God can be “bothered” into changing His mind. What it is teaching is that even when there are delays in seeing answers to our prayers we should continue to pray. The moment we send God a prayer that is in his will, He begins to work…we may not see it now but one day we will (1 John 5:14-15). If a poor widow got what she deserved from an unrighteous judge by being persistent, how much more will we, who are God’s children, receive from our Heavenly Father if we pray persistently.

In fact, for just a moment compare this widow’s condition with ours as followers of Jesus. She was a stranger to the judge while we are God’s children. She had no advocate to stand up for her while we have Jesus as our advocate. She came to a court of law while we go to a throne of grace. If her persistence brought blessing to her in her situation, how much more will our persistence in praying bring blessing to us in ours? LET US PRAY PERSISTENTLY!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 29, 2010

Pray today that teenagers in our Grace Student Ministries would develop a heart for sharing Jesus with their unsaved friends!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Construction at Grace - #37

The first four pictures below show the progress taking place inside our office expansion and in our soon coming cafe. The final picture shows the outside progress on the portico side of our coming new cafe.



An Absurd Story About Prayer - Part 1




Sometimes Jesus told stories that included the bizarre in order to capture his audience’s attention and teach spiritual truth. The story of the guy with the log sticking out of his eye is a great example of this. But as we close our PRAY 10 series this coming Sunday here at Grace Church we are going to see another story that includes a somewhat bizarre scenario that Jesus told in Luke 18 to teach His disciples about prayer.

But first let’s be sure we understand why Jesus told this story. What was the purpose behind it. We learn in verse 1 that the purpose was twofold. First, Jesus told this parable so that His disciple would pray as a priority. And second, Jesus told this parable so that His disciples would pray persistently. He doesn’t want them to “lose heart.” In other words, He told this story so that when it came to praying, even if it didn’t seem like it was accomplishing anything, they wouldn’t get discouraged and quit. Galatians 6:9 tells us to never get tired of doing good because in do season we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.

Now with those two purposes in mind, let’s move on to the story Jesus told. There are two main characters. First, there is a judge. Now this would be more of a circuit-riding judge who travelled around from town to town, pitching his tent for a few days to conduct legal affairs. We learn two very important characteristics of this judge in Jesus’ story. First, he had no fear of God. Second, he did no respect of men. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? This guy doesn’t fear God nor does he respect men so let’s make him a judge. But nonetheless, in the story that is what this circuit-riding judge is like.

The second main character in the story is a widow. Now remember that in that day and culture widows had a difficult time making ends meet. This widow obviously had an opponent who was taking advantage of her situation. So, hearing that the judge was in town, she came to ask him for protection against her opponent.

It is important to note that this woman would have had three things going against her in trying to get this legal protection. First, as a woman she was not allowed to go inside the court. She would have had to speak from outside the tent. That may seem unfair but you need to understand that in that day and culture, women did not have a high standing. They were not allowed to testify in court. Also, as a widow she had no husband to stand up for her. That would have been the process. Her husband would have been her advocate. She had none. And from the appearance of things, there was no other male relative who could or would stand up for her either. And finally, as a widow she would have most likely been poor meaning she would have been unable to pay any type of bribe which was fairly common practice in that day as well.

Now here is where it gets bizarre. With all this against her, what does she do? The Bible says she kept coming (note the continual, persistent action) and she kept asking the judge for the protection she needed. Now if she could not enter the court, how would she do that? Be sure to read my posting for tomorrow for the conclusion of the story. This is where it gets bizarre but there is an amazing principle we can learn from this story that Jesus told about prayer.

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 28, 2010

Pray today that God would continue to work in our staff and that they would stay committed to their personal and spiritual goals!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Disappointed in the Super Bowl Already




One week from this Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year. Usually I get pretty pumped going into the Super Bowl – but not this year. Why? Two reasons:

First, I am disappointed in the Super Bowl because I have no team to root for. As I said last Sunday in church as I wrapped myself on stage in my Cleveland Brown’s Snuggie, I can only root for professional sports teams from Cleveland, Ohio. So, since the Cleveland Browns are not in the Super Bowl (what a surprise, huh?), I have no team to root for come game day.

Second, I am disappointed in this year’s Super Bowl already because not only do I not have any to root for, I have no team to root against. I’m not sure if any other sports fans out there are like me or not, but I get as much pleasure out of rooting against certain teams as I do rooting for my team. And there are some teams I love to root against in every sport. For example:

When it comes to hockey, I love to root against the Detroit Red Wings!

When it comes to basketball, I love to root against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls!

When it comes to baseball, I love to root against the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox

It’s true of college sports as well. I love to root against any team playing from Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame, The University of Southern California, and any team from any college in the state of Florida.

And football is no different. In fact, my passion to root against some teams is at its highest when it comes to the gridiron. For example:

I love to root against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you are a Cleveland Browns fan, as I am, there is no explanation needed for this.

I love to root against the Baltimore Ravens. After all this is the team that resulted when Art Modell moved the Browns out of Cleveland under the cover of darkness.

I love to root against the Denver Broncos. After all, this is the team that miraculously beat the Browns two years in a row in the last seconds of the game to keep us from the Super Bowl.

And, I also love to root against both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not sure I can give you an exact reason why, I just do.

So, since Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver, Philadelphia, nor Dallas will be playing in the Super Bowl on February 7th, I really have no one to root for and no one to root against on that day. That’s why this year’s Super Bowl is going to be very disappointing to me.

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 27, 2010

Pray today that our new café would be fully operational by Easter weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stop Shaving in February


I hate it when I make major typo type mistakes – even after I have checked, proofed and reproofed again. When I was a youth pastor I almost made a major one of these types of mistakes. We were getting ready to send out a large mailing to hundreds of homes to promote Vacation Bible School. The flyer was suppose to say,

“COME AND WIN!”

Instead, it boldly read,

“COME AND SIN!”

When I pastored in Indiana, I was amazed at the number of spelling mistakes and typos that were in information going out from the office of the Christian School that we ran as a church. It is one thing for a church to make spelling mistakes but it seems even worse when it is an educational institution doing it. It’s like saying,

Hey, come let us learn your kids how to read and write.”

So I placed a mandate before the School Administrator that a “proofing” system had to be put into place. He sent out a memo to all the staff. Instead of saying, “Proofing Procedures” it said: “Froofing Procedures.”

But this past Sunday I did it again. We passed out the gold medals that we are using for our February Prayer Challenge. On one side is a Scripture passage and prayer that we are asking everyone in our church to read and pray every morning in February, and on the other side is a different Scripture passage and prayer that we are asking our church family to read and pray every evening in February. The verses are correct but the references are wrong on both sides.

For the morning passage, it says that it is Deuteronomy 4:4-5. It is actually Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Again, the words are right – “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our god, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your might.”

On the evening side of the coin, again, the words to the verse is right – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbors as yourself. I am the Lord.” However, that verse is not Leviticus 19:27 as the coin says. The reference is actually Leviticus 19:18.

Now here is what I found very humorous about my blunder. I put the reference as Leviticus 19:27 when it is really Leviticus 19:18. But here is what Leviticus 19:27 says, “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.”

So just to be safe, men, let’s put our razors away for the month of February!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 26, 2010

Pray today that we would see at least 30% of our CONNECT groups involved in quarterly outreach!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Devotion and Sunggies


Colossians 2:2 tells us that we need to “devote ourselves” to prayer. But what does that really mean? This comes from a compound word in its original language made up of the word “to be steadfast” and the word “to endure.” It is the idea of persisting or faithfulness.

To really understand it, let me use a “non-spiritual” example from my own life where I am devoted. I am a devoted fan of Cleveland, Ohio professional sports teams. I grew up in Akron, Ohio. As a result, I am a devoted Cleveland Indians fan when it comes to baseball; a devoted Cleveland Browns fan when it comes to football; and a devoted Cleveland Cavaliers fan when it comes to basketball. Over the 4 decades that I have followed Cleveland sports teams, there has never been an overall championship – not even one. But there sure have been many reasons to abandon the emotional beating that Cleveland sports teams have provided me over the decades.

During my growing up years my Cleveland Indians almost always ended up in last or next to last place. During my early adult years they turned things around but still could never win the big one losing World Series to Atlanta and to Florida. Over the last couple of years they have hit dry times again but yet I remain a devoted fan and follower of the Cleveland Indians.

At least growing up the Cleveland Browns were pretty competitive. Yet, they have never even made it to the Super Bowl. I can remember three times that my Browns came within one play of stamping their ticket to the Super Bowl but all three times they lost. Once, Brian Sipe threw an interception into the end zone against the Oakland Raiders in what some have called “The Ice Bowl.” The other two times, both agonizing debacles came at the hands of the Denver Broncos. In each case, my Browns had the game won and then came John Elway’s 98-yard drive followed the very next year by Ernest Byner’s infamous fumble right before crossing the goal line. And if that were not bad enough – the tragedy became complete when Brown’s owner, Art Model, moved the Browns under the cover of darkness to Baltimore where they became known as the Ravens. For years I was a man without a football team but then the Browns were rebirthed. However, that rebirthing has again produced Sunday after Sunday of defeats and mishaps.

Yet, I continue to be a devoted Cleveland Brown’s fan. In fact, I have always thought that one of the silliest inventions of modern times was the Snuggie. Oh, they are so stupid. I’m sorry, they just are, especially for men. How could a man ever be caught dead in a Snuggie? Well, for Christmas my wife got a blue Snuggie from someone. I laughed! Was this, a gag gift? But then I opened up a gift from my sister who know lives in Tennessee. Guess what it was? A Snuggie! And not just any Snuggie – I got me a Cleveland Brown’s Snuggie. Suddenly, Snuggies became the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now I love to recline in my chair, put my arms through my Cleveland Brown’s Snuggie and watch TV. What changed my mind about the Snuggie? It was a Cleveland Browns Snuggie and I am a hopelessly devoted fan of the Cleveland Browns.

In the same way, we need to be devoted to prayer. No matter what the circumstances are, no matter how bad our life may seem to get, no matter if everyone else around us gives up, we must be devoted to prayer. Nothing of eternal importance happens a part from prayer!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 25, 2010

Pray today that God would provide wisdom in restructuring our women’s ministry!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

THIS SUNDAY'S LIVE WEBCAST: Learn how you can become more devoted and alert when it comes to praying

What one word would describe your prayer life?

DEVOTED?

ALERT?

Join us this Sunday here at Grace Church in Lititz, PA as we continue our message series that we are calling, "PRAY '10!" This Sunday we will see from Colossians 4 what it means to be devoted and alert in our prayer lives. What one action should our prayers involve? What two attitudes should our prayers involve? What should be our main aim in praying? We will answer all of these questions this Sunday here at Grace.

If you can't join us live here at Grace Church (8:30am; 10am; 11:30am) then be sure to watch the live webcast of our 10am service (PA time) in its entirety by using the link below:

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 23, 2010

That God would give wisdom to all of our political leaders, locally, state-wide, and nationally!

Friday, January 22, 2010

When Church Ends With a Parade


This Sunday we will continue with our PRAY 10 series that we are using to kick off our Year of Prayer here at Grace Church. But before we move on to the topic for this Sunday, which is being “devoted” to prayer, let me just give a brief refresher to what happened over the first three Sundays of this series.

Week one we looked at the prayer life of Jesus and saw that His prayer life was a priority; it was personal; it was used as preparation; and it was meant to be a pattern for you and I to follow.

Week two we toured the mansion of prayer. We saw the foyer which we identified as the place of confession. We saw the throne room which we identified as the place of adoration. We saw the trophy room which was the place of thanksgiving. We saw the guest room which was the place of intercession. And we saw the living room which was the place of petition.

Last Sunday we looked at the topic of praying for our young. Doug Kegarise, our Pastor of Student Ministries, preached and shared with us three ways we can pray for our children and our teenagers. It all focused on praying for their hearts, their heads, and their hands.

In regards to their heart, we should pray that our children and our youth will accept God’s plan for salvation and live their lives completely for Him.

In regards to their head, we should pray that our children and our youth will understand who they are in Christ and will live their lives as “new creations”.

In regards to their hands, we should pray that our children and our youth will engage in the responsibilities God has given them to be ambassadors for Christ.

Three excellent principles, wouldn’t you say? But then came the amazing ending to the morning. At the end of Doug’s sermon each service, while we sang a song, all of our children and teenagers from cradle to 12th grade paraded in and lined the aisles of the auditorium. We had shared earlier in the morning the statistics from the previous week in which we had 1,555 people at church and 509 of them were 12th grade and under – literally one out of every three people in our church. But the reality of that set in when these children and teenagers came parading into the auditorium filling the aisles. We then took time to pray for their hearts, heads and hands.

Folks, listen, I knew this was coming and I thought it was going to be a “cool” ending, but I didn’t realize the impact it was going to have. I stood up in the mezzanine and just wept as I watched all of these kids and teens parade in that God has entrusted to us. And it didn’t just impact me first service. It had just as much impact, maybe even more so, when I watched the same parade take place second service and third service as well. And I wasn’t the only one. As I looked around the auditorium I saw men and women of all ages brushing away many tears.

So don’t miss this Sunday as we continue PRAY 10 talking about being “devoted” to prayer.

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 22, 2010

Pray today that we would see 50 individuals complete our Understanding Grace Membership curriculum by March 2010!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

June "BIG EVENT" Postponed


Remember the rodeo? Three years ago we wanted to pull off an event that would allow us to touch 2,000-3,000 people in a positive way so that we could meet them where they are and begin the process of moving them to where God wants them to be. The end result was a one day event that made connections with some 7,500 people. It was amazing. And over the last three years a lot of our growth as a church has come from people who have been making steps in their spiritual journey because of that first touch they had with our ministry at the rodeo.

Building on that, it was our goal to try to do the same kind of event this coming June but to make it more county wide rather than community wide. The thought was to rent out Clipper Magazine Stadium for a Sunday which would began with one big combined worship celebration and then and afternoon and evening full of free events that could allow us to make a first touch with some 10,000-15,000 people in Lancaster County. However, for this to take place, a lot of pieces had to fall together just right for us to be able to move forward full throttle. But as we near the end of January we have come to the realization that not all of the vital pieces needed to pull off this event have fallen into place and, as a result, we feel that it is best to postpone this event for now.

This is not a bad thing at all. We need to explore opportunities that are “outside of the box.” Some of these ideas will come to fruition and some of them won’t. But as I heard Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch TV, once say, “If we are going to reach people that no one is reaching, we have to do things that no one is doing.” I believe that. So, we will continue to think outside the box and trust the direction and timing of God for which of these ideas becomes reality. I especially want to thank the Big Event Planning Team that was working to see this event take place. I appreciate so much their sincere willingness to give of their time and efforts.

But we are not just postponing the “Big Event” idea until a more suitable time. We are still going to look to have on this same Sunday, June 27, 2010, a full-blown Grace Celebration as we find a location in which all of our people can come together for one big worship service in which we pull out all of the stops. This was one of the parts of the “Big Event” concept that I was most excited about and there is no reason why we can’t go forward with it. Imagine all of our church family together for one gigantic worship celebration. How awesome and cool will that be?

The reality is that on any given Sunday morning we have 1,500+ people in our facility. It doesn’t seem like that because we are all spread out in location and times. The teens and adults that are part of this 1,500+ people are divided into three services. 350-400 of these 1,500 people are 6th grade and under and they are in a totally different part of our building and they too are split between three morning worship services. How awesome will it be for the 1,500+ people who make up the Grace Church family to all be able to gather together in one place for one worship celebration and all lift up all of our voices as one to our great and glorious God?

So, be sure to mark June 27th on your calendars right now. Plan your vacations around that weekend. You don’t want to miss this Grace Worship Celebration. I believe that it will be so fun, so energetic and so remarkable that we will want to do it every single year!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 21, 2010

Pray today that we as an entire ministry would be able to move people to where God wants them to be!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter Olympics Come To Grace


This February the world will come to Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympiad. And since Canada is not all that far from us, we are also bringing the Olympics to Grace Church this February.

During this month we are going to be studying together the story from Scripture when religious leaders tried to trap Jesus by asking Him what the greatest commandment in the Law was. Jesus’ answer was twofold – we are to love God and we are to love others. So over the four weeks of the month, in a message series we are calling “Love: Go For The Gold,” we will look at what it means to love God; love others; love our neighbors; and even love our enemies.

The stage will be transformed into a winter Canadian sports complex complete with the medal ceremony podiums and flags. The first Sunday of February will begin with our own Olympic Opening Ceremony complete with the lighting of the Grace Olympic Torch. Now trust me, you will want to be in your seat a few minutes early on that Sunday as right at start time we will begin with a video presentation of the Grace Olympic Torch making its way through the streets of Lancaster and Lititz, ending with a very special live lighting of our Grace Olympic Torch. Look for other special events over the course of the four Sundays including key members of our staff in a competition against the Jamaican Bobsled Team.

Another special part of this February Olympic Month here at Grace as we focus on love is the way it will also fit into our Year of Prayer. During the 2010 year we are focusing on making prayer a priority as individuals and as a church. Part of this is doing a monthly challenge together as a church family. In January, we prayed through a daily prayer guide in which we were all praying for the same request regarding our ministry here at Grace each day.

In February, we are going to be using what is called the “shema” as part of our monthly prayer challenge. As we study the response of Jesus regarding what the greatest commandment is, we will see that Jesus quoted from a part of the Old Testament that is commonly called the “shema.” So here is what we will be doing for our monthly prayer challenge.

Every morning in February we are asking our church family to read this passage from Deuteronomy 4:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” We are then asking each person in our church to pray this prayer each morning, “Father, today help me to love You with everything that I am and everything that I have. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Then, for the entire month of February we are asking our church family each evening to read this passage from Leviticus 19:27, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” We are then asking each person in our church to pray this prayer each evening, “Father, tomorrow help me to love everyone I meet and pass by as I would want others to love me. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Join us here at Grace Church this February as we go for the GOLD when it comes to LOVE!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 20, 2010

Pray today that we as an entire ministry would be able to meet as many people as possible right where they are!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Construction at Grace - #36

Below are some more pics of the progress of our current construction project which includes additional offices, restrooms and a large cafe. We were able to pay for 60% of this expansion with cash. The other 40% we took a loan for at a very low rate on a 5-year note. This will be paid for with monies that were already planned for Facility Expansion in the budget. That means that the worst case scenario is that this new addition will be paid off in just 5 years. However, all monies that come in to our Building Fund will be used to pay off this loan early. It is our goal to pay it off in just three years, saving quite a bit of monies in interest and so that we can move forward with our second planned expansion which deals with renovating our Young Wing and Chapel into a more conducive wing for our ever growing and very effective Children's Ministry here at Grace Church.
The first two pictures below show the block going up outside. The first picture is the very end of the office expansion. The second picture clearly shows the office expansion (in block) and the new cafe (without block). The final 3 pictures show you the work and progress taking place inside these additions.





If CHURCH Were Like HOCKEY


Last week I attended my very first NHL (National Hockey League) game live and in person. I have been to multiple minor league games, including the Hershey Bears, but never an NHL game. We sat just 7 rows back right behind the glass in the corner of the rink. The Philadelphia Flyers played the Toronto Maple Leafs. My mind is somewhat warped so while I was there I couldn't help but to make some observations regarding what church might be like if only hockey fans attended. Now I can tell you this after my first NHL experience live and in person – hockey fans are, well, let’s just say, “very unique.” So what would Grace Church be like if only hockey fans filled the auditorium for each service each weekend?

First, our services would always be packed. I was amazed at how jam packed the arena was for this game between Philly and Toronto. I mean it was packed – virtually sold out. Why was that amazing? It was amazing because both teams were in dead last in the standings in their respective divisions. This was a battle of two last place teams – hardly a big draw. Two last place teams square off in any other sport and the place would have all kinds of empty seats. Not hockey fans. I concluded this – they really aren’t die-hard Flyer fans as much as they are die-hard hockey fans. It didn’t matter what place the Flyers were in or who they were facing off against, it was hockey and that was good enough to go out in the brutal cold winter weather of January and sit around an ice rink. So if hockey fans were the only ones who came to church I think all the services would be packed every weekend. It wouldn’t matter who was preaching; it wouldn’t matter what the theme was; it wouldn’t matter what style of music was being played; it wouldn’t matter what the weather was like or how crowded the parking lot was, they’d be there. Why? Simple – because it’s church and that would be enough for them to get out of bed and come in on a cold, wintry January Sunday.

I also decided that the services would be far more participatory if only hockey fans filled the auditorium. I had such a great time watching one guy who sat right behind the goalie net. He had about 100 different signs (I’m not exaggerating) and at every stop in the action he would hold one of the signs up for the opposing team’s goalie to see and read. After a great fight, he held up a sign that said, “Old Fashioned Hockey.” When it was evident that Toronto was going to lose, he held up a sign saying, “Start the bus!” Whenever the Flyers were on a power play he would hold a sign up so the goalie could see it that said, “You’re going to choke!” But my favorite was after the Flyers scored their 6th goal of the night on him and the man held up a sign for this Canadian goalie to see that said, “Some fun, eh?” So based on that, I have a feeling that if only hockey fans came to Grace Church the services would be far more participatory.

The final thing I observed was that if only hockey fans came to church, we would not serve beer at Business Meetings (not that we do now or anything). There was a group of Toronto fans right above us who were very obnoxious – not necessarily out of line that I could see, but definitely obnoxious. By the 3rd period, when the many Philly fans had become fully sloshed, there were as many altercations in the stands as there was on the ice. So, if only hockey fans came to Grace the rule would definitely be no beer at business meetings. Best of all, if church were like hockey, the ushers would drive a Zamboni down the aisle to take up the offering. Cool!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 19, 2010

Pray today that our staff and our church would have unity through which God can accomplish awesome things in and through us!

Monday, January 18, 2010

ELECT EASTER


Easter is coming! April 4th will be here before you know it and we have many elements that we are diligently planning for this year’s resurrection celebration. We will have our annual Egg Hunt – Helicopter style – on Saturday, March 27th. A Good Friday Night of Worship led by Pastor Tim will be held on April 2nd at 7pm. We will have four identical Easter Celebrations – April 3 @ 5pm; April 4 @ 8:30am; 10am; 11:30am. Easter will kick off a new 6-week message series entitled, “Face Your Fears!” During this series we will do a 6-week pilot of a Saturday night service each week (5pm). Also during this series you will need your cell phones in church in order to send text votes for what we are calling, “Survivor: Old Testament.” And sometime during this “Face Your Fears” series we should also be able to dedicate and open our new Café.

But now let me share with you our strategy for promoting all of this effectively. In the past we would pour our promotion monies into newspaper ads and direct mailings which are fine. But we changed our thinking on this last year realizing that the vast majority of first-time guests to our church come as a result of a personal invitation from someone who already attends. So, instead of spending our promotional monies on impersonal approaches, we decided to find ways to use those monies to better equip our own people to be able to invite those they know.

Last year we came up with the really cool coffee invitation that included a coupon inside of it for a free beverage at Sheetz. That was very effective and resulted in our largest Easter attendance ever here at Grace Church with nearly 2,400 people attending the four services.

So this year we have another idea along those lines. Here is what our promotional plan is that we feel will equip you to be able to invite people you know to Grace this Easter. We are having 1,000 yard signs (you know, like the election yard signs) made that simply have the words “FACE YOUR FEARS” on it along with a special website (for example: www.facefears.comthat is just an example and is not the real website). This will be a carefully designed website that will hook the viewer in and ultimately invite them to Easter weekend and our “Face Your Fears” series. We are asking every family from Grace to take a sign on Sunday, March 7th and put it in their front yard. If you own a business, take one for that yard as well.

Here is what we think will happen. When your neighbors see the sign in your yard they will most likely do one of two things. Either they will simply go to the website where they will get invited or they will ask you what the sign is all about and you will be able to invite them.

We also realize that the key to marketing is repetition. So it is our hope and prayer that as people drive around Lititz and the surrounding communities from March 7 through April 4th and see multiple FACE YOUR FEAR signs in people's yards and in front of businesses that curiosity will get the best of them and they too will visit this special website and get invited to Easter and the series.

We even think that many of you will be surprised when you drive through your own neighborhoods and see signs in the yards of your own neighbors that you had no clue attended here at Grace Church! So “Elect Easter” by being sure to get your yard sign on March 7th.

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 18, 2010

Pray today that we would see an increase in year round full-time enrollment at MorningStar Childcare and Academics!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Proud Dad...One Great Son



This morning my son, Jonathan (known as "Jon" to everyone except his parents, and known as "Bubba" to his sister) led worship in all three of our morning services. And may I just say...HE WAS OUTSTANDING!!!! The very first song was entitled, "You Make Me Want To Sing." This is a song that Jonathan wrote and that the band he is in, Eternal Mindset, plays frequently at their concerts. I love this song. it is very catchy, fun to sing, and the words really are amazing.

Jonathan (Jon, Bubba) will graduate from Lititz Christian School this spring and head to Liberty University this fall where he will be a freshman Worship Arts Major. I love seeing how God is preparing, equipping, and using Jonathan. A different John, the Apostle John, sure said it best when he said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 4)." I know that the Apostle John was speaking of "spiritual children" in this passage, but the principle applies just as appropriately to physical children as well!

Way to go, Jonathan! I am so proud of you!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 17, 2010

Pray today that our teenagers here at Grace would take personal responsibility for their walk with Jesus, pursuing Him passionately!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

WHY IS THIS SUNDAY SO IMPORTANT?


This Sunday we will be foucsing on the topic, "praying for the young!" At the risk of making some uncomfortable because of the use of numbers, I have to share these statistics from last Sunday here at Grace Church so you realize how important this Sunday is going to be.

Not counting our live stream viewers, Sunday was the 15th largest Sunday morning in the history of Grace Church – that is including Easter; Christmas and Patriotic Celebrations! The total attendance on campus was 1,555. When you include live stream viewers the total attendance from Sunday was 1,703.

However, that is not the exciting part. Get this. Of the on campus attendance of 1,555:

183 were cradle through Kindergarten
138 were 1st through 4th graders
56 were 5th and 6th graders
50 were 7th and 8th graders
80 were 9th through 12th graders

That means that out of the 1,555 who were on campus last Sunday (on a very cold mid-January morning) 507 were 12th grade and under. That is right at 33% of the morning attendance. Did you get that? One-third of our total on campus attendance were children and teenagers. WOW!

So how much more important does that make the theme of this Sunday as we talk about three very specific and practical ways that we can pray for our children and youth?
If you can't join us live here at Grace Church (8:30am; 10am; 11:30am) then be sure to watch the live webcast of our 10am service (PA time) in its entirety by using the link below:

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 16, 2010

Pray today that offerings would remain strong and that we would end the fiscal year at or ahead of budget in the General Fund!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mansion of Prayer - Living Room; Place of Petition


As we have overviewed the Mansion of prayer we have seen 4 of the rooms, what they mean, and a key to unlock each of them to greater effectiveness. They have been:

The Foyer…Place of Confession: Key = Be honest
The Throne Room…Place of Adoration: Key = Be creative
The Trophy Room…Place of Thanksgiving: Key = Keep a spiritual journal
The Guest Room…Place of Intercession: Key = Identify with who you are praying for

Now we reach the final room which is the Living Room. This is what we call the place of petition. This is where we seek God for our own needs. The common word used for this in the New Testament is “supplication.” It literally means “to beg” or “to lack.” It is the idea of a beggar sitting at the side of the road begging the help of not just anyone, but the king himself as he passed by. It expressed destitution and inadequacy. It is in fact the inability to meet one’s own needs and having a total dependence on another. J. Oswald Sanders described it as a need expressed in a cry.

In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are taught that because Christ is our great High Priest, we can boldly make petitions to the Father. In Philippians 4:6-7, we are told to not be anxious about our life. This is a command meaning to allow ourselves to be distracted or feel pulled in diverse directions. Instead, we are to pray about everything. This is another command telling us to transfer the time and energy we put into worrying into praying instead. In other words, turn your “worry list” into your “prayer list.”

When we do this, the result is that the peace of God guards our heart and mind. This isn’t just any peace. This is a peace that transcends all of our mental ability to grasp and appreciate it, even in the worst of circumstances. It acts as a guard. This word was used to describe a garrison of soldiers on duty (see Second Corinthians 11:32). What does it guard? It guards our heart…how we feel about things; and it guards our mind…how we think about things. Why is this crucial? Because it is wrong feelings and wrong thoughts that will create wrong behavior in our lives.

So what is the key to this room? The key here is to be specific. We are to pray with prayers (general requests) and supplications. This word speaks of personal details. One of the greatest lessons I have learned when it comes to my prayer life is to pray more specifically so that I can see and measure God’s answers to my requests. The more specifically I pray, the more I see answers to my prayers which builds my faith and motivates me to spend even more time in every room of the Mansion of Prayer. I have heard two statements about prayer that have stuck with me over the years. They are:

“Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer!”

“Prayer is striking the winning blow while service is gathering up the results!”

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 15, 2010

Pray today that God would use our Christian Schools in the CAR to see many orphans come to know Jesus in 2010!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mansion of Prayer - Guest Room: Place of Intercession


The Guest Room in the Mansion of Prayer is where we spend time hanging out with God as we pray for the needs of other people. Paul exhorted Timothy to offer prayers on behalf of all men (Second Timothy 2:1). The idea of intercession describes one that goes to his father on behalf of another or a person who entered a king’s presence to submit a request for another person. You can see Abraham interceding for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33) and the example of Moses who interceded for Israel as God prepared to punish them for making and worshipping the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-14). In Ephesians 6:18, Paul commands us to pray “at all times for all of the Saints.”

But just how do we do this effectively? It really involves two things. First, there must be intensity. Praying for others in a lackadaisical way has no effect. In Acts 12:5, when Luke describes the church praying for Peter who was in prison awaiting execution, he says that they prayed “fervently.” This is a medical term that describes stretching a muscle to its limit. That takes energy. In Romans 15:30, Paul asks the church at Rome not just to pray for him but to “agonize” in prayer for him. That takes intensity.

A great example of someone who prayed for others like this is a hero of the New Testament named Epaphras who is talked about in Colossians 4. He was a member of the church of Colosee and according to verse 7, he was involved in evangelism and discipleship and was very quick to serve others. According to verse 12, he was also submissive and had suffered for sharing his faith in Christ (see Philemon 23).

But take a careful look at Colossians 4:12. Notice how he prayed for the church. First, his intercession was frequent. He prayed “always.” This is an adverb of time showing persistence and frequency (the same idea as in First Thessalonians 5:17). In other words, he saw praying for others as a priority. Do you?

His intercession was also intense. He “labored earnestly.” Like in Romans 15:30, this is where we get our word “to agonize.” It was used to speak of wrestling or hand to hand combat. Tell me, do you pray for others with that kind of intensity?

Finally, his prayers for others were specific. He prayed specifically that they would stand perfect and that they would be fully assured in the will of God for their lives. He didn’t just pray a casual, “God, bless the church.”

So what is the key to open this room to greater effectiveness? I believe the key is to identify with the person you are praying for. In Hebrews 13:3, Paul speaks of remembering in prayer those who were in prison for their faith as if you were in prison with them. If I heard that you child was diagnosed with leukemia, I would pray for them. But if it were my child, I would pray much more intensely. Imagine how our prayers for others would change if we would pray for the needs of others as if their need were really our need? That’s the type of intercessor I want when needs come into my life, don’t you?

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 14, 2010

Pray today that God would keep safe those from Grace Church that are currently serving in the military!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Construction at Grace - #35

Below are some current pictures of the progress of the inside of our coming cafe and office expansion!





Mansion of Prayer - The Trophy Room: Place of Thanksgiving


The trophy room in the mansion of prayer is where we thank God for what He has done for us. So why do I call it the trophy room? Well, think about it. What is the purpose of a trophy? It is to remind us of a special event in our lives, right? I never attained many trophies growing up but one that I did get is a very special one to me even to this day. My mother and I won first place in a Mother/Son finger-painting contest when I was a small kid in the lowest level of the Cub Scouts. Now, every time I look at that trophy I am reminded of that special day when my mom and I had so much fun finger-painting in the living room of our house. And the older my mom gets, the more special that trophy becomes.

The same is true with this room of the mansion. This is where we take time to remember all the special things that God has done and respond to Him with thanksgiving. This is different than the throne room where we praise God for who He is. Here, we thank Him for what He has done. Psalm 100 shows us many ways we can give thanks to God.

We can thank God by shouting (v1). Our English texts add the word “joyfully,” but this word really is not in the original text. The word “shout” refers to a trumpet blast and has the idea of splitting the ears with sound. It is not referring to singing. It is literally telling us to shout words of joyful approval to God (Psalm 136).

We can thank God by serving (v2). This word means to work as a slave. We are to serve the Lord and we are to do it with gladness (Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

We can thank God by singing (v2). This is to be done joyfully. In other words, it has nothing to do with talent, but everything to do with our heart. It is when we see God working in our lives that we want to sing thanksgiving to Him (Psalm 40:1-3).

We can thank God by studying (v3). Our worship of God should be an intelligent worship. The more we know about God the more thankful we become.

We can thank God by supplication (v4). In this verse, the “gates” and “courts” describe the temple. Today, prayer is our gates and courts (see Hebrews 4:16).

We can also thank God by submission (v4). We are to bless Him. In the Old Testament this meant “to kneel.” In the New Testament it means “to speak well of.” It is showing honor and homage to his name

What is the Key to this room? I believe it is to keep a spiritual journal. Take time to write down 2 or 3 times a week what God is doing in your life. Down the road as you take the time to read through those journals you are keeping, you will discover that you have forgotten so much of the goodness of God in your life and you will desire to spend more time in the trophy responding to the special moments you have had with your Lord!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 13, 2010

Pray today that God would give us wisdom as we put together the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget that begins July 1!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mansion of Prayer - Throne Room: Place of Adoration


The Throne Room in the Mansion of Prayer is where we take time in our prayer life to praise God for who He is. This is adoration. This is worship. There are actually three words used in the New Testament that are translated worship. One means “to adore.” Another carries the idea of serving without compulsion. But the most common word for worship is transliterated “proskuneo.” It literally means “to kiss toward” and was the idea of throwing a kiss as a token of homage or respect. This was part of the ancient oriental mode of salutation.

When we enter the Throne Room of adoration, we take the time to show our respect and homage of God as we focus on who He is. But what exactly is worship? To me, the answer is found in the pages of John chapter four as Jesus is talking to the woman at the well. As he does, the topic of worship comes up. Jesus makes this statement. He says that those who worship God must do so “in spirit” and “in truth.” I believe that the definition of worship can be seen in these two prepositional phrases.

Let’s take the last one first. We must worship God “in truth.” What does that tell me? It tells me that worship is not simply singing a song. Worship deals with truth. What kind of truth? It is truth about God. So what is one aspect of worship? Worship begins by recognizing a truth about God. So when you stand in church on Sunday and you sing the songs, do you just sing or do you focus on the lyrics of the song you are singing in order to recognize a specific truth about God? That is worship. Worship is focusing on a Biblical truth about God. In Isaiah 5:1-3, the primary focus of the prophet’s worship was seeing God. The more I learn about God the more I will want to worship Him. True worship begins with a hungry, seeking heart that is dissatisfied with religious substitutes. My friend, the greatest deterrent to worship is losing your awe of who God really is.

But along with worshipping God “in truth” we also must worship him “in spirit.” The first aspect dealt with recognizing a truth about God. This one deals with our responding to the truth that we have recognized. So if you put the two ideas together you could rightfully define worship as “a Spirit-led response to a truth about God.” Worship is all that we are acting rightfully to all that God is. Yes, this even includes our emotion. Unfortunately, in many non-Pentecostal churches, we have so tried to differentiate ourselves from those on the charismatic side of the denominational fence that we have taken our churches to the other extreme side of the pendulum. In many churches, worship is all emotion, making their worship out of balance. But my friend, showing no emotion at all in our worship of God is just as extreme and ineffective. Worship includes a Spirit-led emotion that is acceptable (Matthew 15:8-9).

And what is the key that unlocks this room? I have found that the key is to be creative. There are so many different ways to praise God. I can sing. I can shout. I can dance. I can raise my hands. I can stand in silence. I can kneel. I can lay prostrate. I can draw. I can paint. I can write. I can jump. Sometimes I think we get into a “praise rut.” As long as we are focusing on a truth of who God is and we are being led by His Spirit, the sky is literally the limit to the many different ways that we can praise God in the throne room – the room of adoration.

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 12, 2010

Pray today that we would see a double-digit increase in average attendance during the 2010 calendar year over that of 2009!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mansion of Prayer - The Foyer: Place of Confession


Imagine prayer as a huge and wonderful mansion that you and I have the privilege to explore anytime we desire and as often as we need to. With each room in the mansion there is also a key to unlock that room to greater effectiveness. The rooms include:

· The Foyer: Place of Confession
· The Throne Room: Place of Adoration
· The Trophy Room: Place of Thanksgiving
· The Guest Room: Place of Intercession
· The Living Room: Place of Petition

As we tour our way through the Mansion of Prayer, we are first introduced to the foyer. What is the purpose of the foyer? In our earthly homes today, the foyer is the place where the welcome mat lies. This is where we wipe our feet so as to not drag mud and dirt across our host’s carpet. The same is true in the Mansion of Prayer. The foyer is where we wipe our spiritual feet. It is the place of confession.

Why is this room needed? The answer is quite simple. Because unconfessed sin in our lives hinders our prayers. David wrote in Psalm 66:18 the principle that God doesn’t even hear our prayers if we are knowingly allowing unconfessed sin to remain in our lives. Some say that this means that God hears our prayers but chooses not to answer us. However, the word in this verse means that He literally does not hear. If we willingly let sin remain in our lives without dealing with it, then our prayers may bounce off the ceiling, or maybe even the planets, but they never make it to the ears of the Father.

So what does it mean to confess our sin? Does this mean that we simply say some magical words, “God, I ____________ (fill in the blank)! Please forgive me.” No. Confession is more than the recitation of a few choice words. It first involves acknowledging our sin. The Old Testament word for confession is a word that literally means “to point out with the hand extended” (Psalm 32:5). In the New Testament, the word is a Greek compound word where we get our two English words “to say” and “the same.” Thus, confession is to say the same thing about the action as God does. In other words, we acknowledge that it is sin and that it is an offense against a holy God. Like God, we hate it and desire it to be out of our lives.

It also involves an attitude of godly sorrow. In the Bible, there are many examples of those who had remorse but they were not truly sorry (Pharaoh, Balaam, Achan, and Judas are just a few). Godly sorrow is always evident with true confession (Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11; James 4:8-10; Romans 7:15; Psalm 38:4).

In the example of confession in Second Samuel 7:2-3, we also see that this act involves both aspiration and action. Aspiration is an inward turning. This deals with our will. We make the internal decision to turn from that sinful activity. Action is an outward turning. This deals with out walk. We separate ourselves from the sinful practice in our lives.

So what is the key that opens up this room and by opening it, ultimately gains us access into all the other rooms in the prayer mansion? The key to the foyer is this…be honest! Be honest about your sin. Quit rationalizing away your sinful activities. Quit justifying your disobedient practices. Call it what it really is…an offense against a holy God. Hate it. Make the decision to turn from it. Separate yourself as far as you can from it. First John 1:9 is written to Christians. It is a beautiful verse. According to it, if we truly confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. “Just” means He will forgive every sin. “Faithful” means that he will forgive us every time!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 11, 2010

Pray today that we would be able to add a regular Saturday Night Worship Service during the 2010 calendar year!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 10, 2010

Pray today that we would see 100 people follow the Lord in water baptism during the 2010 calendar year!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

THIS SUNDAY'S LIVE WEBCAST: Come Explore The Mansion Of Prayer With Us


Prayer...how difficult is it?

Do you find yourself sitting down to pray and within minutes your struggling to stay focused and to know what to say?

What if prayer were like a huge mansion that we could explore together?

What if we could find a key to unlock each room of this mansion which would electrify our prayer lives?

Join us this Sunday here at Grace Church in Lititz, PA as we continue our message series that we are calling, "PRAY '10!" This Sunday we will explore together The Mansion of Prayer, finding a key that will unlock each of the five magnificent rooms.

If you can't join us live here at Grace Church (8:30am; 10am; 11:30am) then be sure to watch the live webcast of our 10am service (PA time) in its entirety by using the link below:

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 9, 2010

Pray today that Lititz Christian School would increase 10% in enrollment beginning next August as the new school year begins!

Friday, January 08, 2010

How God Used Grace Church in Europe


Recently a team from Grace Church spent the holidays in France and Spain where their main minsitry of encouragement was to put on a Bible School for the children of all of our Grace Brethren European Missionaries that were gathered in Spain. Below is an e-mail that one of our missionaries, Rebekah Becker, sent to a couple which was on that team. Scott and Rebekah Becker (pictured above - sorry, it is a bit old) our missionaries supported by Grace Church. She also mentions how God used the monetary love gift that our church gave to our missioanries as well. This e-mail letter is well worht the read as it is evidence that God continues to use Grace Church to meet as many people as possible (even missionaries) where they are at (even in Ireland and Spain) and help move them to where God wants them to be!

Please pass our thanks along to the team and church if you like... We want you to know that the children have continued to talk about and share about the kids’ time at the conference. Yesterday they were singing GO studio Go to us and even little David was doing the motions with his big sister. The kids had a fantastic time and we have been able to talk further about what you were teaching them. We prayed as a family on New Year's about how we could each be Christ to someone else and how to GO take our faith and knowledge of Jesus. The second found us celebrating epiphany with a French family here (Sean was the king) and we were further able to share about the conference and the fact that people from our church in the states were minding our children.

Scott and I sooooo appreciated that break from the children were both of us could be fed together, snuggling on the comfy couch. It was such a relief to know that our children were safe and in good hands. I appreciated all of the special care that was taken, the excellence that was given to the kids program. You did not just do a program you did it to the very best of your ability. the kids have excitedly shown our church body last night the crafts they did and wanted to sing the song (but we didn't let them). The children have continued to share about Esther and Gideon and the different sessions. This has given us time to review with them and what they learned. Thank you so much for giving up holidays, time with family, and R&R to minister to the families with young children. Please know that we greatly appreciated and perhaps it felt all that more special because it was our home church body.

Please also thank the church for the love gift. What you all didn't know was that the week before Christmas my credit card was lost. That meant that the cash I had on hand at the end of the month was all we had to live on. To add to the challenge for some reason there was miscommunication with my employer here and I wasn't paid. Long story... anyway we lived day to day and Scott and I didn't really do much for each other but the kids and friends were covered. However I knew we were having people for Christmas dinner and that it would cost about 100.00. I also realized on the 23rd that I didn't have enough clothes for Joshua or the older 2 children for a 5 day trip. They normally wear uniforms and Joshua had just outgrown everything and his brothers and he were born different seasons so a search of hand me downs resulted in nothing. A check came from family which covered a few outfits for each child, and the Christmas dinner and we had about $50.00 left for Scott to buy me a present he wanted to get. After we went to the shops and were returning home I was struck with a startling realization. I had forgotten about metro tickets, bus fares, food during our travel to the conference and the fact that our car didn't have enough petrol to get us to the airport. Usually this wasn't a problem because I can put work expenses on my card and get reimbursed but we had no credit card and no more money. Scott had tried to buy a have a gift for 38 euro but we didn't have sufficient funds. Hmmm...I knew that there were a couple of reimbursement checks on their way for medical bills November we spent about E600.00 on medical appointments) but would they arrive on Christmas eve since they hadn't as of 5:00 our time. We returned home at 7:00p.m. to learn that our Christmas gift from Grace church had just arrived in our bank giving us money to travel and pay for the bits we would need to travel. What a huge blessing at just the right time. I knew God would provide somehow for what we needed and he had enough money to buy food (nice food for our Christmas dinner), clothes for my kids, and petrol for my car.

I want to say a huge thanks to Grace church for the gift and the special way it met our needs this Christmas. We are blessed to have moved into a lovely "warm" house this year and we are so thankful for all of our blessings. Please thank the team and our church body for the wonderful gift of money and the children's team which were so wonderful this year.

Oh, and I didn't tell you the epiphany celebration the wife asked how to have a relationship with Christ and we spent an hour sharing about a relationship with Christ. It was a battle to go but God continues to work in their lives. They spent a further hour discussing God and we are praying for them to understand the hope that she wants and says that she sees in our lives. Unfortunately we need some French teammates to come and visit because they are limited in communicating some of the more deep theological terms for lack of vocabulary.

Thank you,
Rebekah

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 8, 2010

Pray today that we could pay off the financing of the new café and lobby renovation within three years!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Prayer Math - It Adds Up

Due to this being our Year of Prayer here at Grace Ministries, we are using the five Sundays in January to kick off the year with a message series on prayer. We started last Sunday looking at the way Jesus prayed and we saw four characteristics that we could apply to our lives. This Sunday we will see the Mansion of Prayer.

We have called this message series PRAY ’10. Now we obviously called this series PRAY ’10 because the year 2010 is our Year of Prayer. But looking at a whole year of prayer might be somewhat overwhelming for some. It is kind of like this. If we were going to leave Lititz today and head to California in our car, it would be overwhelming to count down the miles to California. You would feel like you would never get there. So instead we would start by counting down the miles to Ohio – then Indiana – then Illinois – then Missouri – then Kansas – then Colorado – and so on.

So let’s do the same with PRAY ’10. Instead of it only communicating 2010 as our Year of Prayer, let’s break it down a little bit. Let’s make it something smaller…something more manageable. Let’s say that PRAY 10 simply means a commitment to praying just 10 minutes every day for the entire year. That’s it – just 10 minutes. Not too hard, huh? Can you make it a priority to pray 10 minutes every day this year in a place where it is completely personal – just you and God?

It may seem like just 10 minutes but let’s do some “prayer math.” Get your calculators out and ready:

Counting today there are 359 days left in 2010.

Ten minutes of prayer every day starting today for the rest of the year would result in you spending 3,590 minutes in prayer this year.

Now if just 1,000 people who are part of this ministry did that it would mean that the people of Grace Church would spend 3,590,000 minutes alone with God in prayer in 2010.

That would be the equivalent of more than 59,833 hours of prayer in 2010.

That would be the equivalent of more than 2,493 days of prayer in 2010.

That would be the equivalent of more than 356 weeks of prayer in 2010.

Now, if nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer and the people of Grace Church spend 3,630,000 minutes or 60,500 hours, or 2,493 days, or 356 weeks in prayer this year, what do you think might happen in 2010?

If 1,200 people participated in personal prayer with God for 10 minutes every day it gets even better. Now it would equal 4,308,000 minutes in prayer; 71,800 hours in prayer; more than 2,991 days of prayer; more than 427 weeks in prayer – all in 2010.

If 1,500 people participated in personal prayer with God for 10 minutes every day it gets even better. Now it would equal 5,385,000 minutes in prayer; 89,750 hours in prayer; more than 3,739 days of prayer; more than 534 weeks in prayer – all in 2010.

PRAY ’10It adds up to something eternal!

Grace Church January Prayer Guide - Jan 7, 2010

Pray today that we would see 500 people become engaged in 50 CONNECT Groups by the end of December 2010!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Celebrating 25 Years of Pastoral Ministry (part 2)


This post is the completion of a two-part post that I began yesterday regarding a video message I was asked to make for Pastor Steve Peter's (pictured above) 25th anniversary as Sr Pastor of Community Church in West Milton, OH. Be sure to go back and read yesterdays posting to get all of the context (to view the video in its entirety go to http://www.gracechurchworship.org/pastordistlerdec27.html).

But of all the wonderful memories I have of those 9 years at Community Church, the part I am most thankful for were the countless times of sitting in Pastor Steve’s office and chewing the fat about life, ministry, the church, and what it means to be a pastor. It is not any exaggeration to say that more days than not over those 9 years we would spend anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours in his office just talking. I learned more in those one-on-one times than a lifetime of college and seminary courses could ever teach.

There are two things that stick out to me the most when it comes to lessons I learned from Pastor Steve. One is this…if you are going to err, always err on the side of grace. Steve didn’t just teach that, he modeled it. But the greatest thing that Pastor Steve taught me is that I am free to do anything but sin when it comes to reaching people for Jesus. That, more than anything else, has shaped my ministry. To me, meeting people where they are at and helping to move them to where God wants them to be is what the local church is all about. And that I learned in my 9+ years in West Milton at Community Church.

So to me, Pastor Steve can be characterized in three ways. First, he is my pastor. Every pastor needs a pastor and Steve will be the one I always consider to be my pastor. Second, he is my mentor. He is the one who taught me what ministry is all about and what it means to be a pastor and lead a local church. But thirdly, Steve is not just my pastor and my mentor, to me he is also a spiritual hero, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you were to ask me who my spiritual heroes were, I would say that I have four. First is my dad who as a layman has been the most committed person I have ever seen to the local church. Second is my Grandpa Distler who pastored for 50 years. Back in 1990 my Grandpa preached my ordination service right there at Community Church. Today, he is with the Lord. My third spiritual hero would be Dr. Jerry Falwell. Ever since I was in Junior High School I would watch Dr Falwell on television. I couldn’t wait to attend his college and was privileged to spend four years under his ministry. It is amazing to me how much his ministry impacted my life. Today, Dr Falwell is also with the Lord.

And then last, but certainly not least, is Pastor Steve. He isn’t just a pastor to me; he isn’t just a mentor to me; he is one of my spiritual heroes. If, when it is all said and done, I end up being half the pastor that Steve Peters is, I will consider my life a success.

25 years in pastoral ministry is quite the accomplishment in itself, but to spend 25 years as the Sr Pastor of the same church is remarkable. It shows unwavering faithfulness to the Lord and to the people that God has called you to shepherd. So congratulations, Steve, on 25 years of ministry at Community Church. My prayer for you is that when it comes to ministry fruit, that the best will still be yet to come.