Sunday, February 28, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

David, Tim, and I getting in the front of the line for when Rita's opens again in March reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love Your Enemies

Who are your enemies? As an American, who are your enemies? As a member of your political party, who are your enemies? Who are your enemies where you work? Who are your enemies when it comes to your faith? This Sunday, February 28, we conclude our LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD message series here at Grace Church in Lititz, PA as we talk about what it means to "love our enemies."

If you can't be with us live and in person Sunday for one of our three morning worship services (8:30; 10; 11:30) then be sure to watch our 10am (PA time) service live on the web by going to:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Love Your Enemies

Love your enemy. I don’t know about you but I find this to be a very difficult command to obey. When someone hurts me or appears to be acting against me, I have a very difficult time fulfilling the words of Jesus as seen in Matthew 5:43-48. This Sunday we will look at this passage in detail as we finish our “Love: Go For The Gold” message series. I have to be honest and tell you that I have found myself struggling to apply this passage to my own life.

The passage begins by showing the simplicity of the Pharisee’s righteousness. The Pharisees said two things. First, they said, “Love your neighbor.” As we have seen in our study here at Grace Church this month, this is a direct quote from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). But here is the difference. Rabbinical tradition had limited the scope of a neighbor to those you approved of. That was a far cry difference from Jesus who, as we saw last Sunday, defined a neighbor as anyone you meet with a need (Luke 10:30-37).

But the Pharisees added this element – “Hate your enemy.” Nowhere does the Old Testament teach this. It is a Pharisaical addition to the Old Testament Law. This advocated hatred to those who were different (i.e., Gentiles). A saying of the Pharisees had been discovered that said, “If a Jew sees a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no means lift him out, for it is written, ‘Thou shalt not rise up against the blood of thy neighbor.’” In their own self-righteous way, they saw their hatred of their enemies as God’s way of punishing their enemies. The Old Testament concept of a neighbor included enemies that were in need (Exodus 23:4-5; Proverbs 25:21) but the Pharisees in Jesus day had rationalized this away.

With that as the religious mindset of His day, we next see the surpassing of Christ’s Righteousness. Jesus said to “Love your enemies.” The standards of Christ far surpassed that of the Pharisees. And not only are we to love our enemies, which Jesus modeled in Romans 5:10, we are also to pray for those who persecute us. Jesus calls for a response which is not personal retaliation as the Pharisees justified due to the Old Testament law of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38-42). Our response for those who persecute us is one of intercession.

But why does Jesus want us to do such a difficult thing? First, because doing so exhibits our nature as a child of God. To do so shows we are God’s children (John 13:35; 1 John 4:16). It is “Fatherlike” as God is the one who causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust.

The second reason we should love and pray for our enemies is that this kind of mercy exceeds what is natural. To love only those who love you takes no spiritual power. Gentiles and tax collectors (thought to be the low-life of their day) showed love to those who treated them well. But loving our enemies is radical and needs a supernatural power to accomplish. Sure it is tough. That’s what makes it right. False righteousness, such as the Pharisees exhibited, settles for what is attainable and comfortable. True righteousness, which is advocated by Jesus, settles for nothing short of being exactly like God.

Love God – Love Your Neighbor – Love Your Enemies! Go for the gold!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who Are My Enemies?

This Sunday we will finish our month long Olympic series here at Grace Church that we have been calling “Love: Go For The Gold” in which we have seen Jesus gold medal command to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind as well as the silver medal command to love our neighbor as ourselves. Last Sunday, from the story of the Good Samaritan, we looked a little further at what it means to love our neighbor which we defined as helping those we meet who are in need even if they are our enemy.

This Sunday we will look even further at what it means to love our enemies. But before we look at what it means to love our enemies we have to ask a more basic question…“Who exactly are our enemies?” I’d like to say I have no enemies but would that really be true? So, as I look at all the areas of my life, I have to ask myself, “Who really are my enemies?"

As a Christian, who are my enemies? Are atheists my enemy? Are those who are trying to take God out of every area of our society my enemies? What about Satan himself? Is he my enemy?

As an American, who are my enemies? Is Osama Bin Laden my enemy? Are radical Muslim fundamentalists my enemy? Is the leader of Iran, North Korea and the like enemies of mine?

As someone who is a political conservative, who are my enemies? Are political liberals my enemy? What about progressives? Are they my enemy?

As someone who holds to certain social causes such as being pro-life and believing that marriage is a union between a husband and a wife, who are my enemies? Are pro-choice activists my enemy? Are abortion doctors my enemy? Are gay-right activists my enemy?

As a fan of my favorite sports team, who are my enemies? As an Ohio State Buckeye fan, are Penn State and Michigan fans my enemy? As a Cleveland Browns fan, are Pittsburgh Steeler fans my enemy? As a Cleveland Indian fan, are the New York Yankees my enemy?

What about as a pastor? Who are my enemies? Are my critics my enemies? Are those who disagree with my vision and decisions, my enemies? What about those who have left the church? Are they my enemies? What about those who judge my motives? Are they my enemies?

What about in my neighborhood? Are there people who I have had some confrontations with? Would they be considered my enemy?

What about those who I thought were friends and colleagues who have betrayed me or misrepresented me or hurt me? Are they my enemies?

This Sunday we are going to see our need to love our enemies. But before we can show our enemies love we have to identify those people in our lives who we find it the hardest to love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today was my birthday. This morning my son bought me a cup of coffee at Sheetz and my daughter called me from college. What more does a 45 year old man need on his birthday than that? I am truly blessed!

When I was in Lynchburg last week my daughter bought me a Doc's Diner coffee cup as an early B-Day present. Doc's Diner is my favorite restaurant in Lynchburg, VA and it has the best banana pudding you'll get anywhere. I've always wanted one of their coffee cups. Coffee just tastes better when I am drinking it out of my red Doc's Diner cup.
Tonight my son gave me the movie, "We Are Marshall." I love that movie which is a true story about the Marshall University football team that were all killed in a plane crash years ago. My son also got me a very cool green sweater which I will be wearing this Sunday morning to preach in!

But here 's the part I'm really pumped about. My wife is taking me to the Air Supply and Christopher Cross concert at the American Music Theater this Friday night! How awesome! I was really into easy listening music when I was in High School (still am - after all, it beats country music) and some of the best love songs out there were by Air Supply. I can't wait to enjoy that concert with my wife!


I have been thinking a lot lately about enemies. This is mainly due to the fact that “loving our enemies” is the topic of the message that I am preaching this Sunday here at Grace. In fact, in my blog tomorrow I am going to write about the question, “Who are my enemies?” But today let me share some quotes I found about enemies. I am not taking the time to share who said or wrote the quote – just giving the quote itself. After you read them ask yourself this question – “Which of these quotes did I find most applicable to my life right now?” I put my answer at the bottom:

Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.

The face of the enemy frightens me only when I see how much it resembles me

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

You never really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks

I have no trouble with my enemies. But my friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.

“An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”

He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself

It takes your enemy and your friend, working together to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Enemies are so stimulating.

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, and he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names

I asked you at the beginning of the post which of these quotes you found to be the most applicable to your life right now. After all, we all have enemies. For me it is this one:

“An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We Became Friends

This Sunday we will conclude our “Love: Go For The Gold” message series. We have seen this month what it means to love God; to love others; and to love our neighbors. This week we wrap it all up by looking at what Jesus said about loving our enemies. Loving God and loving our neighbor is one thing – but loving our enemies – that is something on a whole different level.

I believe I had one of the greatest examples of what it means to love our enemies by watching the life of one of my biggest spiritual heroes, Dr Jerry Falwell. I’m sure you realize that Dr Falwell had many enemies and one of the biggest enemies he developed was porn-king, Larry Flynt. You might recall that Dr Falwell and Larry Flynt went at each other big time in the public media. And it grew to the climax when Larry Flynt ran a parody in his Hustler magazine suggesting that Dr Falwell’s “first time” was with his own mother in an outhouse. Now folks, if that isn’t an enemy, I don’t know what is. As a result, Dr Falwell sued Larry Flynt and won on the local and federal levels but ultimately lost the appeal at the Supreme Court level. After that case, Dr Falwell and Larry Flynt debated each other in Universities and on national television shows like Larry King Live on the topic of pornography and first amendment rights.

But Dr Falwell didn’t get bitter. He built a friendship with Larry Flynt. Flynt’s own recollection of this is seen in his words that he posted as an editorial in his Hustler magazine on May 20, 2007 (the week after Dr Falwell died). He said:

“Soon after that episode (the Supreme Court ruling), I was in my office in Beverly Hills and out of nowhere my secretary buzzes me saying, ‘Jerry Falwell is here to see you.’ We talked for two hours with the latest issues of Hustler magazine stacked neatly on my desk. In the years that followed he’d come to see me every time he was in California. We’d exchange personal Christmas Cards. He’d show me pictures of his grandchildren. I was with him in Florida once when he complained about his health and his weight. I suggested that he go on a diet that had worked for me. I faxed a copy to his wife when I got back home.”

Once Dr Falwell’s son, Jonathan, asked him why he worked so hard at keeping a relationship with Larry Flynt. Dr Falwell responded,

“One day Larry Flynt will come to a place in his life when he needs a friend. And there will come a time when he needs something of a spiritual nature. When that happens, I want to be the man that he calls.”

Dr Falwell knew what it meant to “love his enemies” and to “pray for those who persecuted Him.” But did it work? I love the last line of Larry Flynt’s editorial in his magazine after Dr Falwell’s death. It says this:

“I’ll never admire him (Dr Falwell) for his views or his opinions. But the ultimate result was one I never expected and was just as shocking a turn to me as winning that famous Supreme Court case: We became friends.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why I Stayed

As a pastor, I am constantly talking with couples or hearing of couples whose marriages are coming to an end. It is one of the most discouraging parts of ministry. Few things seem more devastating to me than seeing marriages crumble and people, who once chose to love each other, now choosing to quit. Today more couples choose to quit than choose to stay. How sad.

As a result, I was very intrigued when I saw Gayle Haggard interviewed on television about her new book, “Why I Stayed.” If her name does not ring a bell, she is the wife of former mega church pastor, Ted Haggard. Ted started and pastored the 12,000 person New Life Church located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was also the head of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Though I personally would not agree with all of Ted Haggard’s theology, one of the most beneficial books I have ever read on the impact a local church can have on a community was his book, “Primary Purpose” which has as its subtitle these words, “Making it hard for people to go to hell from your city.”

Back in 2006 Ted Haggard’s ministry came crumbling down when it came out that he was involved in drug use and sexual immorality with a male escort. At first Haggard denied the charges, but soon after he came clean with his sin. Though not all of the accusations that circled around about him were true, enough were to end his ministry. And you would have thought that it also would have been more than enough to end his marriage to his wife, Gayle, as well. At least I have seen dozens and dozens of marriages that have ended for a lot less of a reason.

But Gayle, from day one, chose to continue to love her husband and to forgive her husband even in her darkest hour. Her book, “Why I Stayed,” is her story. I picked up the book over the weekend and as I was watching the Olympics last Sunday afternoon, I opened it to page one. By the time evening had rolled around I had read 280 of its 348 pages. I finished it the next evening.

I was riveted to her story. How could a woman stay with a man who cheated on her in a homosexual relationship? How could a woman stay with a man that deceitfully used drugs to heighten his sexual experiences behind her back? How could a woman stay with a man whose indiscretions dragged her and their five children through a media frenzy that plastered their family name all over the national media, late night talk shows and the gossip blogs and columns?

But she did! It is obvious that it was not an easy choice to make but she made it anyway and she stuck by it with the help and grace of God. My favorite line from the book is on page 187. Well into the healing process of forgiveness she writes this, “Ted and I continued to cling to each other right before falling asleep. Many times as we held each other, I’d think, ‘I have never felt closer to Ted then I do right now.’” WOW! Not only did their marriage survive – it became better than it was before the crisis. What a story! What a woman! What a God!

Are you struggling in your marriage? Are you even remotely considering the possibility of throwing in the towel? Before you make that final decision, can I urge you to get Gayle’s book and read it. You too can choose to love. You too can choose to forgive. Please…don’t quit!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

Pastor Tim, David Felty and I, while we were picking out our new company vehicles, reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

This Sunday, February 21, we continue our LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD message series here at Grace Church in Lititz, PA as we talk more about what it means to "love our neighbor" as seen in the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told. But why did Jesus tell that story? Was it simply to define what a neighbor is or is there more...much more? Find out this Sunday!

If you can't be with us live and in person Sunday for one of our three morning worship services (8:30; 10; 11:30) then be sure to watch our 10am (PA time) service live on the web by going to:

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Point of the Good Samaritan (part 2)

Yesterday I wrote in my post about the real point of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. It came about in a discussion with a lawyer who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. The lawyer said to love God and love his neighbor. Jesus told him to do that perfectly and he would get eternal live. The lawyer knew he had failed in this, so trying to justify himself he asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds to this question with the story of the Good Samaritan.

When Jesus finished the story, he asks the lawyer another question. This is in response to the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus asks, “Of the three (the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan) who was more of a neighbor to the man who had been beaten?

The lawyer answers, “The one who showed mercy.” I find that amazing because it shows just how much disdain there was among the Jews toward the Samaritans. This lawyer could not even say the word, ‘Samaritan.' Instead he said, “The one.

Jesus then ends the discussion with this command, “Go and do the same.” Again the wording would be “Go and keep on doing the same.” What is Jesus saying? He is saying, “I’ll tell you what you must do to get eternal life. You must with compassion and action love anyone who is in need, even if it is your enemy, and you must do this all the time.” Now we know from Matthew 22:40 that all the Law and the Prophets depend on the commands to love God and love your neighbor so what Jesus is really saying is this, “To get eternal life you must obey the Law perfectly and do so all the time.”

OUCH! That is extremely devastating. Why is it so devastating? It’s devastating because I have not since the day I was born loved God perfectly. I have not since the day I was born loved my neighbor, especially my enemies, perfectly. I have not since the day I was born obeyed the law perfectly. I have failed to do the only thing I can do to get eternal life. And the same is true of everyone who is reading this posting right now no matter who you are or where you are.

So what is the bottom line of Jesus story? The bottom line is that it is impossible on our own to inherit eternal life. If we are going to get eternal life, it will not be because of anything we have done. If we are going to get to heaven, God is going to have to show us mercy. And that is exactly what God did on the cross through Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ died on the cross He did so as a substitute for our sin. He paid the penalty for our sin. Our sin was credited to His account and God poured out His righteous wrath and punishment on Jesus for our sin. There is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life. Everything that had to be done took place through Jesus on the cross. Getting to heaven is not about what we DO – it is about what Jesus has already DONE.

That is why 1 John 5:11-12 says, “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has eternal life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” So what are you trusting for your eternal life? Are you trusting what you DO or are you trusting what Jesus has DONE? If you’re trusting in what you DO, you are in deep eternal trouble. If you’re trusting in what Jesus has already DONE you are on your way to heaven.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Point of the Good Samaritan (part 1)

Just about everyone, it would seem, knows the story of the Good Samaritan. Ask most anyone today what the point of the story is and they will say, “Helping those in need.” But if you really take time to examine Luke 10 you will see that this is not the main point of the story at all.

The story comes about due to a conversation Jesus is having with a lawyer. A lawyer would be an expert in the Mosaic Law and the text is clear that his motive is not innocent. He is testing Jesus. He is trying to trap Him. And to do so he asks, this question,

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

That is an interesting question. Take notice of the word “do”. He doesn’t ask, “What must I ‘believe’ to inherit eternal life?” He asks, “What must I 'do'?” Jesus then does something very Jewish and answers his question with a question. Jesus asks him in reply,

“What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”

The man immediately quotes from the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 saying that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. He then adds from Leviticus 19:28 that you must also love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus says, “Good answer!” But then Jesus adds this command, “Do this and you will live.” The idea is “keep on doing this” and you will live. In other words, do this perfectly, love God and love your neighbor perfectly, and you will inherit eternal life.

Now this bothers the man because though in his pride he might think he has loved God perfectly, he knows he has not always loved his neighbor perfectly. So he looks for a religious loophole. “Trying to justify himself,” the text says, he asked a follow-up question which was,

“And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus answers this question with a story – the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a story about a Jewish man who gets robed, beat up and left for dead on the side of the road. A Jewish priest happens by but doesn’t help him. A Jewish Levite passes by but he too refuses to help him. Then comes a Samaritan, the least likely of the three to offer assistance, and he goes the extra mile in caring for this man out of a heart of compassion. This is staggering to imagine because in Jesus’ day Samaritans hated Jews and Jews hated Samaritans. This hatred can be seen in John 4:9 where it tells us that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. You can see it in John 8:48 where the Jews insult Jesus by calling Him “demon possessed” and a “Samaritan.” You can see it in Luke 9:51-54 when two of the disciples want to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan city.

In spite of this, the Samaritan has compassion on the Jewish man and helps him. Now what is the point of this story? Find out by reading the conclusion of this posting in my blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Glasses

Last Sunday I got new glasses. My wife tells me they make me look “sexy.” Man, I love my wife. But as of now I am still trying to get use to the new glasses. I had to move into the wonderful world of progressive lenses. I’m near-sighted. With my old glasses I could see great far away but I had to take them off to read things up close. The eye doctor said I have 20/60 vision in left eye and 20/100 in my right eye. With my new specs, I should be 20/20 in both.

But for those of you who have progressive lenses or bifocals you realize that the first couple of weeks are really frustrating as you get use to them and as your brain adapts to them. Right now I have to think about if I should look out the top of the lenses or the bottom of them. My peripheral vision is always blurred. I’m told that this is the way it is supposed to be at first and that in time my brain will definitely adjust. I sure hope that happens real soon.

But it reminds me about a passage in 2 Peter. I have been really pouring into the second letter written by Peter lately because beginning May 16th, after our Face Your Fears series that starts on Easter, I will take 7 weeks to preach verse by verse through the book of 2 Peter. I have been enjoying studying this great book that deals with how to handle false teachers and false teaching.

In chapter one, Peter begins by telling us that if we are going to stand firm against false teaching we must be growing spiritually. In verses 3-4, he tells us that God has given to us the power and the promises we need to do just this. He then tells us in verses 5-7 that we need to give great energy to adding seven characteristics to our faith. These include moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

In verse 8 we learn that if we possess these qualities in increasing manner we will not be useless or unfruitful in our spiritual lives. But according to verse 9, if we fail to do all that we can to add these qualities to our faith it is a different story. Verse 9 says this, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”

In other words, if I don’t make the effort to add these qualities to my faith I become spiritually handicapped. It is like being blind or short-sighted. Without these qualities growing in my life I do not know where I am going spiritually nor do I know what next step I should take. Adding these qualities to our faith, through the power and promises God has given us, is like putting on our new glasses. Spiritually, it allows us to have 20/20 vision. We will then be able to know what next steps to take in our walk with the Lord. We will also be able to spot false teaching.

Right now I am having to put all of my mental energies into persevering through getting use to my new glasses. At times I just want to rip them off of my face and go back to my old ones. But I know that if I am going to see clearly I need to add these new lenses to my physical life. The same is true of my vision when it comes to spiritual things. I need to add these seven qualities, these seven lenses, to my life on a daily basis to be able see spiritually.

And I bet these spiritual lenses make me look “sexy” to my wife as well!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

50,000 Dream Fulfilled

Back in 1971 Dr Jerry Falwell opened the doors of what was called then Lynchburg Baptist College which today is known as Liberty University. I attended Liberty from 1983 to 1987, graduating with honors with a B.S. in Pastoral Ministries and a Minor in Greek. I then went on through Liberty’s School of Lifelong Learning to get my Masters of Religion degree. Today my daughter is in the last semester of her Sophomore year as an Education Major at Liberty. Next year my son will join her as a Freshman Worship Arts Major.

I remember sitting in the congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church back in 1985 when there were under 5,000 students at Liberty as Jerry Falwell announced his dream to have 50,000 students that he always called “Champions For Christ.” Well, guess what? This past week Dr Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr, who followed his father as Chancellor of Liberty, announced that the 50,000 student dream has been reached. Dr Falwell’s vision has become reality. Today there are over 57,000 Liberty students. About 12,000 of these students are on campus and the rest take classes through the distance learning program.

This past weekend Laura and I spent a couple days down at Liberty visiting our daughter. I always love walking back on that campus. Though so much has changed, there still is a lot that remains the same as when I graduated 23 years ago. I took my daughter into the room that we called the "preaching lab" in the Religion Building. This is where I was taught and trained how to preach. During those classes we would have to preach a sermon once a week. Our professor, a wonderful man named Dr Paul Fink who still teaches at Liberty, would sit behind a window in a studio where he would be making comments on the video that was being recorded of each sermon. Now, to be honest Dr Fink was pretty forthright and brutal in his comments. If you got it wrong, he would tell you. I remember one sermon I preached from Lamentations 3 that I took way out of context. Boy, did Dr Fink let me have it on that video.

By the way, Dr Fink was my favorite professor at Liberty. He also taught Inductive Bible Study. In short, Dr Fink taught me how to study the Bible and how to preach and for that I will always be indebted to him.

Laura and I attended convocation with Joy on Friday. At Liberty they have convocation three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is amazing to sit in the Vines Center, filled to capacity with Liberty Students, worshipping together our great God and being challenged from the Word of God.

50,000 – that was quite a goal. That now makes Liberty the 25th largest college/university in America. It also makes Liberty the largest not for profit college/university in the nation. Dr Falwell knew how to dream big and had the faith to do so. He called them “BHAG’s” which stood for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. So, I guess my goal of seeing Grace Church in Lititz grow to the place where we are ministering to 10,000 people every week through our educational ministries and our weekend services isn’t so far-fetched. By the way, Dr Falwell also had the BHAG of Liberty football team beating Notre Dame at South Bend. Watch out, Irish. That day is coming too!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Answering With Questions

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus answered His skeptics and critics with a question? For example, in Luke 10 a lawyer asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered with a question, "What does the law say?" Why did Jesus often do this? For one thing, it is a very Jewish thing to do culturally to answer a question with a question and Jesus was a Jew. But secondly, it is a wonderful way to respond to critics and skeptics. Often, we tend to just try to convince them of our point of view through our own intellectual arguments. But how often does that work? Not very often I'm afraid. But if we would instead respond to their statements with a question or two, we might make some progress.

I was actually given this piece of advice when I was young in ministry and getting ready to go before a licensing examination board made up of ordained pastors to be examined for my own ordination. A pastor gave me this piece of advice before I went in for my Inquisition, I mean examination. He said, "If they ask you a question that you either are unsure of the answer or you would rather not give your answer to, simply answer their question with a question." I said, "What good will that do?" This pastor simply said, "Trust me!"

So I went into this oral examination and at one point one of them asked me my view on social drinking. I wasn't sure I wanted to give them my answer on this topic so I decided to try out this piece of pastoral advice I had received. I replied, "What do you mean by social drinking?" I kid you not when I say that for the next 45 minutes these men debated among themselves the definition of social drinking and I never had to answer the question. So if responding with a question can work on a bunch of ordained pastors, why not try it out on some skeptics and critics as well.

So the next time you run up against a skeptic or a critic of the faith who makes an assertion you know to be incorrect and unbiblical, instead of just cramming your point of view down their throat, which usually accomplishes very little, try responding with these four questions:

What do you mean by that?

Where did you get your information?

How do you know you are right?

What if you are wrong?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

Pastor Tim, David Felty (Worship Arts Director) and I, before we were arrested for taking this Warwick Police vehicle for a joy ride, reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have been saying for 5.5 years, since I moved to Lititz, how much I miss the snow. So I for one have thoroughly enjoyed the snowstorms that have blanketed Lancaster County this winter. And as you know, it is our policy here at Grace to never cancel all Sunday morning services unless the authorities declare a state of emergency and ban all travel on the roads. We have, like was the case last Sunday, cancelled only the first of our three services, but snow does not cause us to stop worshipping here at Grace.

And God always seems to bless that mind-set. In fact, snowy Sundays are some of my favorite times of worship here at Grace. Last Sunday, while most churches in the areas closed (and that is completely understandable – I am not looking down my nose at them at all), we still had 845 in the auditorium on Sunday and well over 1,000 in attendance when you add in the kids down in our children’s ministry.

And get this - we also had 153 computers logged on to our live webcast last Sunday. If you estimate and average of 2 viewers per computer that is another 306 that watched our service Sunday live on the web. And here is what is really amazing about our live webcast. We had live viewers last Sunday from Spain, Switzerland, Germany, The United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

In fact, we average 12 computers logged on to lour live feed every Sunday from Canada (so I guess I better be careful poking too much fun at our neighbors to the north during this Olympic themed series). But doesn’t that just blow you away that we are ministering every Sunday, live on the web to people not only in Lancaster County but all around the world? Now that is what I call “meeting people where they are and moving people to where God wants them to be.”

I really appreciated all the work that our staff did in getting the building ready for last Sunday. If you would have seen the drifts that were in front of the church last Saturday you would have known what they were up against. I very much appreciated this e-mail that I received from Craig Peters, our facility manager:

“As I drove in this morning (Sunday) and heard the announcements from WJTL of church after church having cancelled programs for today, I reflected on my fire-fighting days and the 24/7/365 posture we took in ‘making it happen’, getting whatever needed to get done completed so that we were ALWAYS at the ready to respond. In similar storms, whenever the possibility that travel may be questionable, several of us volunteers would leave the comforts of our homes and spend a night, or two if warranted, to sleep at the fire house to be at the ready. Saving physical lives and property certainly is important, but even more so is saving spiritual lives for eternity. I am proud to be a member, and an employee, of a church which is totally committed to having services on Sunday, short of a ban on being on the roads ("state of emergency" being declared).”

So, even if it snows, whether it’s here in the auditorium or live via the web, GRACE IS ON!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I absolutely love Sundays here at Grace Church! Preaching here at Grace in conjunction with all the elements of the service week in and week out is the highlight of my week every single week. And coming up we have some amazing message series’ planned. Here is a quick preview:

LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD – This is our current series wrapped in a Winter Olympic theme from Matthew 22, Luke 10 and Matthew 5 as we look at what it means to live out Jesus’ Gold Medal commandment to love God and His silver medal commandment to love others. This 4-week series runs February 7-28.

FOUNDATIONS – This is our theme for this year’s Vision Month in which we look to get everyone who is part of Grace Church on the same foundation in 8 areas including purpose, vision, salvation, baptism, giving, serving, connecting and fasting. This 4-week series will run March 7-28.

FACE YOUR FEARS – This is the theme for our series which will start on Easter weekend as we look at 6 fears that we all face and how we can deal with each of them and find hope in the midst of them. These fears, which were picked by our church family last November, include the fear of death, the fear of broken relationships, the fear of sickness, the fear of disappointing God, the fear of financial failure, and the fear of being alone. This 6-week series will run Easter weekend (April 3-4) through Mother’s Day (May 9).

LIAR – This will the theme of our series in which we study verse by verse through the book of Second Peter. First Peter is all about protecting ourselves from persecution from without while the book of Second Peter is all about protecting ourselves from false teaching that comes from within. We will see in the first half of the book how to protect ourselves from false teaching while identifying false teaching. The last half of the book will show us that in spite the lies that come from the false teachers, God has not lied to us about the promise of Jesus Christ to return. This 7-week series will start on May 16th and run through the end of June. It is our hope on the final Sunday of this series, June 27th, to have one large outside combined service under a massive tent here on our property.

PRAYER – During the month of July we will return to the topic of prayer as part of our Year of Prayer. In this series, which is yet to be named, we will look at the examples of four people from the Bible and see what we can learn from their prayer lives. We will see the example of Daniel and the need for courage in our prayer lives. We will see the example of Enoch and the need for intimacy in our prayer lives. We will see the example of Solomon and the need for selflessness in our prayer lives. And we will see the example of Samuel and the need for listening in our prayer lives. This 4-week series will run from July 4-25.

SURVIVOR: OLD TESTAMENT - This series will take us back to 6 of the most exciting stories from the pages of the Old Testament. These stories will be picked as part of our “Face Your Fears” series. This 6-week series will run from August 1st through September 5th.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Is Superman Doing?

We all know that SUPERMAN helped to raise funds this past fall for Lititz Christian School, which is a ministry of Grace Church. But what is he doing in front of these signs of our other local private schools here in Lititz?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Why Shout AMEN in Church?

When Jesus gave to His disciples what some call “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6, He ended it with the single word, “Amen.” This is a strong word of affirmation that literally means, “so be it” or “let it be so.” And so when you are sitting in church and you hear a song or a part of a message that you strongly affirm and cling to, it is appropriate to shout out the word, “Amen.”

When Daniel Webster was on his deathbed, his doctor, having done all he could for Webster, picked up a hymnal and read to him the words to his favorite song:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains
and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.
wash all my sins away, wash all my sins away
and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.
be saved to sin no more, be saved to sin no more
till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.

E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
and shall be till I die, and shall be till I die
redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I'll sing thy power to save,
I’ll sing thy power to save, I’ll sing they power to save.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I'll sing thy power to save.

When he finished reading, Daniel Webster uttered his last three words on this earth. They were the words,

Amen! Amen! Amen!”

And all God’s people said?

Monday, February 08, 2010

"LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD" Off And Running At Grace

The snowstorm that swept through Lancaster County Friday and Saturday was exactly the backdrop we needed as last Sunday we kicked off our new Olympic Themed Message Series here at Grace Church that we are calling, "Love: Go For The Gold" as we learn together how to live out the "gold medal" command Jesus gave to "love God with everything we have" and the "silver medal" command which is to "love our neighbor as ourselves."

We had the medal podiums built on stage with the American flag, Canadian flag (since this year's Olympics are in Canada) and the flag of the Central African Republic (which is where we have four Christian Schools that our fully supported by Grace Church and Lititz Christian School). And just in case our Canadian Executive Pastor is reading this, let me remind everyone that in the last Winter Olympics the United States won a total of 25 medals while Canada only won 24. As far as gold medals, the USA brought home 9 while Canadian athletes only brought home 7. Go USA!

All of our services opened up with Jill Lutz and our Elevate Worship team from our Elevate Children's Ministry lighting the Grace Olympic Torch and leading us in some high-energy worship. If you missed the video of the Grace Olympic Torch being run from Philadelphia to Lititz, you can watch it at the following link,

Our "LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD" series continues all month here at Grace Church. If you missed the first week due to weather, be sure to take time this week to watch the video of the sermon by going to our church website (

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

Pastor Tim and I in front of the entrance to MorningStar Childcare and Academics (a ministry of Grace Church) reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

This Sunday's Live Webcast: Bud or Bud Light?

Let's be honest - some of the best commercials on television are beer commercials. That's why many people will watch the Super Bowl Sunday afternoon...because the commercials are just as entertaining (sometimes more so) than the actual game is. I love those beer commercials out right now asking the question, "Too Heavy or Too Light?"
Find out what all of this has to do with our new Olympic Themed message series called "LOVE: GO FOR THE GOLD" that begins here at Grace Church this Sunday, February 7th.

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:

Friday, February 05, 2010

LCS = PRAY 10 (Part 2)

Mrs Echternach teaches our computer classes here at Lititz Christian School. In conjunction with our PRAY 10 theme, she had her High School Photoshop Class do a project in which they were to make "Prayer Posters." Yesterday I showed you 5 of these finised projects. Today let me show you 4 more. Great job, Lititz Christian School. Thanks for inspiring all of us to PRAY 10!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

LCS = PRAY 10 (Part 1)

Mrs Echternach teaches our computer classes here at Lititz Christian School. In conjunction with our PRAY 10 theme, she had her High School Photoshop Class do a project in which they were to make "Prayer Posters." Today and tomorrow I will use my blog to show you a total of 9 of these finished projects! Great job, Lititz Christian School. Thanks for inspiring all of us to PRAY 10!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Update from Jerry Williams in the Philippines

Jerry Williams is currently representing Grace Church on a short-term mission trip to the Philippines. Below is the latest report he e-mailed from the Philippines to Mike McCracken, who is the leader of our Mission Team here at Grace Church:

You are probably wondering if I am ever going to send an e-mail but life has been pretty hectic. My flight to Hong Kong got in late on Wednesday and I missed my flight to Manila so the airlines put me up in hotel and got us out the next morning at 8:00 am. Christian picked me up and we made it to the condo’s where we are staying about noon.

I know you were aware of the Pastor of the Sumulong Church died the Monday before I left for the trip. So the first call we made after I got in was to the wake for Pastor Nilo. That was also the first contact that I had with Ted and Vivian. Friday morning Wayne, Christian, Jason Weimer and I met with Ted and Vivian to start discussing the Coalition and talk about the agenda for Saturday morning with the Philippine leadership team. In the afternoon we met with the “Woven Joy” women’s group that weaves thread bracelets and headbands to sell and generate some income for themselves. That meeting took place at the Sumulong Church where Pastor Nilo’s body laid at rest so we spent some time with the family again. We then went to the Marikina Grace Brethren Church and met with Pastor Franco. He took us down near the river where some of his Church families lived. During the flood these families lost everything as the water reached the third floor of many of their homes. We heard some incredible stories and saw some very depressing situations.

Saturday we met with the Philippine leadership team for an all day meeting. Each Pastor and every Church planter gave a report of what was going on in their Church or points of light and there was some real encouraging news of growing Churches and groups that were having weekly bible studies and some that were meeting Sundays for Worship service. And through these meetings I am getting to know all the Pastors and Church planters. Saturday afternoon Christian introduced the concept of the coalition and presented the plan that would give the responsibility to the leadership team to oversee the Philippine Churches. An election of officiers was held for the leadership team and the rest of the afternoon was spent working out the details of how the leadership team operate.

Sunday morning we attended Church at the Marakina Grace Brethren Church and met with the leaders of that Church after the service. They have got a strong base of leaders in their Church and have plans to start a couple of Churches in other areas. After lunch we met with Olive, who is the sister of Pastor Nilo, the pastor who died. She is a Church planter and has 4 groups meeting presently. She is not connected to any Church but is doing an excellent job. Her biggest obstacle is that she is not getting any men into her fellowships and she needs leaders in each of the groups. It is hard work and she has to travel to all these places on a motor scooter, even when it rains.

We finished the day at the Greater Manila GBC where they had a 21st anniversary celebration. It was a a well planned program and a big success. There must have been close to 200 people in attendance and it was held in a room that held no more than half that many but they came and they worshiped and they enjoyed. They really know how to worship. They have two young men that are Church planters that are doing a fabulous job. They are not without their challenges as one of the young men has had encounters with men that have been very intimidating to him but he is persistent and is doing well.

The other young man is meeting with a group of 40+ people on a regular bases and has a place to meet. It is so exciting to see them worship God with such enthusiasm and to fight on against great odds when they have so little. Many have no place to worship and those that do have a place are limited in space and without any luxuries, yet they make it work and without complaint.

Well that brings you up to date so I will sign off as the other men are in bed and asleep as I write. Tomorrow we have a training meeting then we are going up north and will not be back before Wednesday night and we may be without a computer so you will not hear from me for a few days.

God bless,

Monday, February 01, 2010

Morning and Evening Gold Medal Prayers

Today is February 1st and begins our second monthly prayer challenge in our Year of Prayer. This challenge is in conjunction with our new series we will be going through on Sunday mornings in February that we are calling, "Love: Go For The Gold," as we see what we could call the "gold medal" command that Jesus gave to His followers. As a result, our prayer challenge for the month of February is to ask each person associated with the Grace Church family to start each day in February by reading a specific passage of Scripture each and every morning and then doing the same each and every evening with a different passage of Scripture and prayer.

Every Morning Read This Passage And Pray This Prayer:

"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." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

"Father, today help me to love You with everything that I am and everything that I have. In Jesus name, Amen."

Every Evening Read This Passage And Pray This Prayer:

"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." (Leviticus 19:18)

"Father, tomorrow help me to love everyone I meet and pass by as I would want others to love me. In Jesus name, Amen."