Monday, May 31, 2010

Those Who Battled


Monday is Memorial Day, a day in America where we take time to remember those brave men and women who bravely battled and sacrificed their all for our freedom. I praise the Lord today for each and every one of those who gave their life in the past as well as all those today who put their lives in harm’s all over our country to protect our freedom.

Today I am also thankful for those who have been willing to do spiritual battle over the years as well. This isn’t a battle fought on soil with guns and tanks but rather one that is fought on our knees with prayer and intercession. It is those who have prayed for our church and our ministry who have provided the greatest service that one could render for the church.

That is why I am so excited about our June Prayer Challenge here are Grace Church as part of our year of prayer. Let me take the time to remind you of what this prayer challenge is all about:

What is the June Prayer Challenge? Our prayer challenge for June is to see 7 days of non-stop prayer take place by our ministry for our ministry.

When will this June Prayer Challenge take place? We will begin at the stroke of midnight the morning of Monday, June 7th and go all the way through 11:59pm on Sunday, June 13th.

How will this June Prayer Challenge work? We have taken these 7 days and divided them into 672 different 15-minute time slots. If we can fill all 672 slots with someone willing to pray for that 15 minute time-period we can see 7 days of non-stop prayer take place for our ministry.

How can people sign up to be part of this June Prayer Challenge? All you need to do to be part is to sign up by going to our church website at www.meetgrace.org; clicking on the June Prayer Challenge banner; going to June on the calendar; picking a 15-minute time-slot; filling in your personal information; and then hitting submit. People can sign up as individuals, as couples, as families, or as groups.

Can people sign up for more than one slot for this June Prayer Challenge? Yes. Sign up for one slot or multiple slots. When signing up multiple times, however, you have to make a separate request for each time slot you would like to reserve.

Will there be specific requests to pray for during this June Prayer Challenge? Yes. Once you reserve a time-slot you will receive an e-mail confirmation with 10 specific requests we would like everyone to pray for during their time(s) of prayer.

Do you have to come to the church to pray during this June Prayer Challenge? No. You can pray wherever you are at during your reserved time.

Why are we doing the June Prayer Challenge? Because as my spiritual hero, Dr Jerry Falwell, used to always say, “Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer!”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

Pastor Tim and I in front of the entrance of Lititz Christian School (a ministry of Grace Church) reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

LIAR - Part 3


This Sunday we continue our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 2:1-9 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Questions To Ask To Avoid LIARS


On Sunday we will be continuing our study through 2 Peter that we have called “LIAR” since it is a book written to warn us about the dangers of false teachers in the church. As I was studying this week I came across a message by Dr Ed Dobson who used to pastor Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI. I remember Dr Dobson from when I was a student at Liberty University and he was one of the Vice Presidents who did a lot of preaching at the school and at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Dr Dobson will forever be one if, if not, my all-time favorite pastor to listen to. Due to illness (ALS) Dr Dobson no longer pastors but I love going back and listening to sermons he preached including a series he did at Calvary Church back in 2005 through 2 Peter.

As I listened, Dr Dobson shared three questions that we ought to always ask ourselves regarding every teacher we hear. It doesn’t matter if it is a pastor or teacher at our church; at the Christian School we attend, or whether it is a preacher on television, the radio, or teachers who have written books and articles. False teachers are all around us so we ought to ask these 3 questions:

The first is a question of character. Does this person reflect the character of God and of Jesus Christ? In the King James Version of Scripture, 2 Peter 1:21 says “holy” men spoke from God as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit. “Holy” men! We must look at more than what preachers and teachers say and write. We must also look at the way they live. Do they, in how they live their lives day to day, reflect the character of God and of Jesus Christ?

The second question was must ask is a question of interpretation. Does what I am hearing or reading fit with Scripture properly interpreted? Dr Dobson went on to say that proper interpretation is literal, grammatical and historical. Proper interpretation is literal in that is looks at the plain meaning of the words. Proper interpretation is grammatical in that it follows the rules of grammar in the text. Proper interpretation is also historical in that it reads and interprets Scripture within the context in which it is given. Does what I am hearing or reading fit with Scripture properly interpreted?

The third question is one of objective. Is the desire of this teacher or preacher to conform me to the image of Jesus or are they trying to recreate Jesus in their own image? That’s what many are doing today. They are, as 2 Peter 2:1 describes, denying the “Master who bought us.” They are denying the truth of the person and work of Jesus as seen literally, grammatically and historically in the Bible, and they are substituting these truths for their own made up truths, “false words” according to 2 Peter 2:3. They are recreating Jesus into their own image rather than making their chief objective to see each person who hears or reads their teaching become more conformed to the image of Jesus as seen in the Bible.

2 Peter 2:1-3 tells us that false teachers are still with us. These false teachers distort the truth of God’s Word. They deny the person and work of Jesus. They deceive the masses. They are devoted to themselves more than they are to God. They deal with made up stories. That’s why we must ask these questions about each teacher we hear – even those who teach at Grace Church.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LIARS ARE ALL AROUND US


Some things don’t change. Two thousand years have come and gone since Peter wrote his final letter that we are now studying on Sundays here at Grace Church and one thing is as true now as it was then and that is the existence of false teachers. This coming Sunday we will see that Peter opens chapter two by telling his readers that there were false teachers then and still are false prophets among us today. So what exactly is a false teacher? Taking into consideration the closing verses of chapter one, you can define false teachers as those who give their own interpretation of Scripture. And the evidence of a false teacher can be seen through five certain characteristics.

First, false teachers distort the truth. Verse 1 says that they "secretly introduce destructive heresies." Verse 3 teaches that because of these false teachers, the "truth is maligned."

Second, false teachers deny the Lord. Verse 1 says that they "deny the Master who bought them." False teachers deny the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Third, false teachers deceive the masses. Verse 2 tells us that “many” will follow their sensuality. Do not be fooled by someone just because they have large followings and can fill stadiums and auditoriums.

Fourth, false teachers are devoted to no one but themselves. Verse 3 says that “in greed” they will exploit you. False teachers aren’t concerned most about God and the people they lead and teach. False teachers are moslty about their own name and their own careers.

And finally, false teachers deal in made up stories. Verse 3 calls them “false words.” They are the ones who cleverly devise ideas in order to deceive you.

And though it may appear that these false teachers are prospering and filled with success now, the truth of Scripture is that their ending is certain. This is based on both the conduct and character of God. Look first at the conduct of God in verse 3. According to this verse God will ultimately judge false teachers. Their judgment was determined from long ago. Peter is clear that God has not become idle and has not fallen asleep and forgotten about their punishment.

But this is also based on the character of God. There are two things we know about God. We know first that God always punishes evil. Peter gives three examples to prove this. He speaks first of the angels who sinned in verse 4. In verse 5 he speaks of the ancient world at the time of Noah. In verse 6 he speaks of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But with that principle of the character of God comes the opposite side as well. Yes, God always punishes evil but He also always rewards obedience. Peter reminds us of this by citing the examples of Noah and of Lot.

So the two-fold conclusion to all this is seen in verse 9. God knows how to rescue the righteous like He did Noah and Lot, but He also knows how to keep the unrighteous for punishment. In the end all false teachers and those who follow their lies will get their due reward. But those who teach truth and follow truth will in the end be rewarded.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The LCS Family

I had the thrill of attending a wedding this past weekend down in Lancaster. Typically when I am at a wedding I am the one officiating the ceremony, so it was really nice to just attend this one. I actually sat on the back row because we arrived just in the nick of time. As I watched from the very back (identifying with the rest of you “back row pagans” – just kidding) I was struck by something very fascinating. Here is what I noticed:

The bride and the groom were both alumni of Lititz Christian School

The pastor who officiated the ceremony is the Spiritual Life Director at Lititz Christian School

The Senior Administrator of Lititz Christian School sang a solo

Two other alumni of Lititz Christian School provided special music

Two faculty members of Lititz Christian School played the prelude music

The mother of the bride works in the office at Lititz Christian School

Most all of the wedding party were alumni of Lititz Christian School

The greater percentage of guests were also associated with Lititz Christian School

As I made all of these observations from the back pew of the church we were sitting in, I was moved by the power of family. Yes – this includes personal family but the truth is that there are also families that we become involved in outside of just our own relatives. The church we attend becomes like a family. Clubs we are part of become like a family. But in this case I was struck by the awesome connection there is in being part of the family of Lititz Christian School which is a ministry of Grace Church.

This wedding demonstrated how much impact a Christian School like LCS can have in the life of a person. Take away all of the LCS connections from this wedding and there would have been very few people left in the church on that particular Saturday.

I feel privileged to be part of the Lititz Christian School family. I get to enjoy this connection on a couple of fronts. First, as the Sr Pastor of Grace Church, of which Lititz Christian School is a ministry. But I also get to enjoy this family connection because of being a parent. My daughter graduated from Lititz Christian in 2008. My son will graduate from Lititz Christian this coming June 3rd as part of the class of 2010. As a result of this connection, I will always be connected with the Lititz Christian School family. For that I praise the Lord.

Lititz Christian School and MorningStar Childcare is currently enrolling for summer camp and the next academic year. Why not call LCS (717-626-5828) and see what this family is all about?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Moving the Furniture around


A few weeks ago, Laura changed our bedroom furniture around. You say, “So what?” Well, you need to understand that my wife requires complete darkness in order to sleep – I’m talking “pitch black, can’t see your hand in front of your face” type of darkness. A sock even goes over the alarm clock so the numbers don’t give off any light. I’m talking darkness.

And that’s fine because over the past 6 years that we have lived in our house, I have mastered the art of getting from my bed in the middle of the night to the restroom, something I find myself doing more frequently in the middle of the night as I age. I know exactly how many steps to go in what direction in order to avoid furniture and find the middle of the night promised land.

But when she moved the furniture around, everything changed. That first night I woke up at about the same time as usual, and stepped out of bed in order to head to the restroom not thinking of the amazing adventure it would be. I was completely disoriented standing there in the dark. I had no idea what direction to walk or how many steps to take. I bravely ventured out into the darkness and within a few steps rand smack dab into the dresser…ouch! As I ventured forward I next caught my big toe on the rocking chair…double ouch!

The pain in my toe now increased my disorientation. I had to be a sight to see. My hands were reaching out grasping for a wall or a piece of furniture to try to figure out where exactly in the room I was standing and what direction is should cautiously precede in. I slid my feet cautiously across the carpet causing all kinds of static electricity. I knew the closed door to the restroom off of our bedroom had to be somewhere but the only door I could seem to find over and over again was the door to our closet and that just wasn’t going to work.

I thought of that night this week as I was reading in 2 Peter 1 and saw that Peter talked about the nature and authority of Scripture and said that we would do well to pay attention to the Bible as a lamp shining in a dark place. David makes the same description in Psalm 119:105 when he describes the Word as a lamp to his feet and a light to his way.

Just like my bedroom at night, we live in a dark world today when it comes to spiritual things. In fact, it is pitch black out there. And our only light to show us how to live and what to believe is the Bible. That is what God has given us for direction until Jesus comes. Without it, we will crash into all kinds of spiritual obstacles and open all sorts of doors of false teaching and false doctrine.

So, how much are you using your Bible as lamp in your life? Are you going to the Word daily or are you grappling around in this dark spiritual world constantly running into obstacles that are hindering your growth as a Christ-follower and opening all kinds of dangerous doors. If you think you can walk through this dark spiritual world without a commitment to the Bible in your life, just remember, Satan is always rearranging the furniture without warning.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, our bedroom furniture has been moved back to normal.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

DUET - E.T. - ROSES - DANCING


23 years ago today (May 23rd) I was standing at the front of a church watching the most beautiful woman in the world walk down the aisle to become my wife. This morning, 23 years later, I again stood at the front of a church – this time simply to preach. Yes, our anniversary fell on a Sunday this year but Laura was not expecting anything special due to the fact that we went away for 3 days earlier this week for our anniversary. But I couldn’t let this opportunity go by without publicly honoring my wife so I planned some special surprises for all three morning worship services.

First service went as planned by our design team – until right after the message. The song that was scheduled right after the message was a decoy. Though it was practiced, David Felty, our Worship Arts Director, knew it would never happen. Instead we replaced that song with David and his wife, Jen, singing the duet that was song at our wedding 23 years earlier, “Household of Faith.

I’m sure that my wife was expecting the same for the second morning worship service but for this service we shook it up a bit. You see, our very first date back in 1986 was going to see a movie on campus. The movie was “E.T.” So this service we added an element. Before David and Jen sang, I talked about our first date and we put up on the screen that very popular picture of ET in a basket on the front of the bike pedaled by the boy in the movie. At that time, one of the boys in our church came pedaling in a bike with a basket on the front. In that basket was a 25” plush ET holding 23 roses. I gave ET and the roses to Laura and then David and Jen sang.

But the third service was completely different. There was no duet. There was no bike. There was no ET. There were no roses. This time I did something really off the wall. I do a lot of weddings today and in our culture almost every single wedding reception includes the bride and the groom having their first dance as all the guests watch. Well, Laura and I never had our first dance at our wedding reception. We got married in a pretty strict Baptist church and any form of dancing was taboo. So after the message, instead of the duet, David sang a love song from our era – Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer Than.” As he did, 23 years past due, I had my first dance with my bride on the stage as everyone in the third service watched. Now granted, I have no idea how to dance, but we did it anyway!

So why do these special things? There are several reasons:

I love my wife!

I want to be an example to my son of what it means to be a romantic husband!

I love my wife!

I want to be an example to all Grace Church husbands and husbands to be on what it means to honor our wives!

I love my wife!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

LIAR - Part 2



This Sunday we continue our series here at Grace Church through the book of 2 Peter that we are calling, LIAR! This week we will be looking at 2 Peter 1:12-21 in all three morning services (8:30; 10; 11:30). If you cannot be with us here at Grace, then join us at 10am on the web as we stream our worship service live at the link below:

Friday, May 21, 2010

MORE SURE - Part 2


Peter ends chapter one of 2 Peter by showing us how we got this prophetic word. He wants us to be reassured, once and for all, that we can trust our Bibles. He begins by making it clear where the Bible did not come from. The Bible’s origin was not by human interpretation nor did it come from an act of human will. In other words, it is not simply a book written by man. That’s the belief of many. Just recently I received an e-mail from someone in our community telling us that we as a church ought to be ashamed for following a book that was simply written by a bunch of men. Now there is a person who will be wide open to the threat of false teaching – and actually this person is fully immersed in just that. They have fallen for a false teaching, hook, line and sinker. And so will you unless you nail down the truth of the authority of Scripture.

If we are going to protect ourselves from false teaching we must understand that the Bible is much more than a book written by men. Yes, men were involved. But according to 2 Peter 1:20-21, these men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The word “moved” is the key word. It comes from the nautical world. It was used to describe a sailboat out on the water. Now a sailboat with no engine and no rudder is going to go what direction? Wherever the wind moves it, right? That is exactly what happened with the writing of the Bible. Men wrote it – yes. But they wrote it as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Every word they penned was guided by the Spirit of God. They wrote only what God wanted them to write.

In fact, this is written as a present passive participle. In other words, it is a continual action. This is how every word they wrote took place. As the wind directs a sailboat over the waters, the Holy Spirit of God directed these men over every word they penned. It is not simply a book written by man. It is a book written by men who spoke from God. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul said that “all Scripture in inspired by God.” The word “inspired” means “God –breathed. This isn’t just a book. This isn’t just a book written by men. This is the very inspired Word of God. And if you are going to avoid false teaching you must be sure that you believe in the authority and the supremacy of the Bible.

This is why the Bible must be our chief authority as a follower of Jesus. When the Bible is in disagreement with our own human reason, we must follow the Bible. When the Bible is conflicts with the church and its traditions, we must follow the Bible. When the Bible goes against our own feelings and experiences, we must follow the Bible. And yes, my friend, when the Bible’s teaching differs with popes and preachers, we must follow the Bible.

The book of Acts called the believers that lived in the city of Berea “noble” because they searched the Scriptures daily to make sure that what the Apostle taught them was true. Now folks, if the Berean believers checked out everything that the Apostle Paul taught them to make sure it measured up to Scripture, don’t you think you ought to do the same thing with the truths you hear preached here at Grace? Don’t believe it just because I preach it. Please don’t do that. Take the time to check out everything I say with Scripture and if I ever teach you something different than what Scripture says – choose Scripture! Choose it every time. It is your view of Scripture that will best protect you from false teaching.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MORE SURE - Part 1


This Sunday we will continue our new series through 2 Peter that we have simply called LIAR because Peter writes this letter to warn against the danger of false teaching in the church. We will see that 2 Peter 1:16-21 teaches our need as followers of Jesus to be sure about something. If we are going to avoid the traps of false teaching that are all around us we must be sure of our belief in the supremacy of the Bible. Peter contrasts his teaching with that of the false teachers of his day. What was it that Peter and the Apostles were proclaiming? They were proclaiming the power and coming of Jesus Christ. The false teachers were undermining what Peter was teaching, specifically denying the second coming of Christ as will become very clear as we reach the final chapter of this book.

Peter make is clear in verse 16 that his teachings did originate from cleverly devised tales. This was obviously an accusation that was being communicated about him. The term “cleverly devised” speaks of sophisticated ideas that were concocted in order to deceive others. The word “tales” is the Greek word “muthos” where we get our English word “myth”. Peter wants his readers to be reassured that he and the other Apostles got their teaching straight from God.

To illustrate this, Peter reminds his readers that he was an eyewitness of “the majesty of Jesus.” He is speaking of the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17) in which he, James and John saw Jesus in all of His glory and heard the voice of God come out of heaven saying, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.” Peter wasn’t making truths about Jesus up out of the thin air. He was an eye-witness. He saw Jesus’ transfiguration with his own eyes and he heard the voice of God the Father with his own ears. This is pretty sure stuff, wouldn’t you say?

But in verse 19 Peter says that we actually have something “more sure” than this. Wait! What could possibly be “more sure” than seeing Jesus in His glory with your own eyes and hearing the audible voice of God with your own ears? What could possibly give us more assurance than this? According to verse 19 it is the prophetic word that is “more sure” than these occurrences. What is that? That is speaking of Scripture. Scripture is “more sure” than seeing Jesus with your own eyes and hearing God with your own ears.

Think about that. If Jesus showed up visibly and spoke to us audibly, would we listen? Of course we would. Would we obey Him? You bet we would. Yet, we have something “more sure” than that. We have the Word of God. We should give it the same attention, the same priority, the same obedience, as we would if Jesus visibly and audibly spoke to us. That is why Peter says that we would do well to "pay attention" to this prophetic word – Scripture.

He describes Scripture as being like a lamp shining in a dark place. David makes the same description in Psalm 119:105. We live in a dark world today when it comes to spiritual things. It’s pitch black out there. And our only light to show us how to live and what to believe is the Bible. This is how God gives direction until “the day dawns” – until Jesus returns. Until that day, the only light we have is Scripture. In other words, if we are going to protect ourselves from false teaching we must have a proper view of Scripture. It’s the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Leading From Outside The Box


I had lunch with a ministry colleague a few weeks ago and as we shared I was telling him about some difficult issues I have facing, both personal and ministry related. He quickly responded that he had a year earlier gone through almost identical issues. He shared how tough that year was and then he wrote down the name of a book on his business card and slid it across the table to be saying, “This book literally saved my life during that time.” So I went back to the office and ordered the book. I started reading it. It is a book called “Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out Of The Box” by The Arbinger Institute.

The first part of the book defines “The Box.” Let me try to briefly explain. My behavior as a leader is either “inside the box” or “outside the box.” When I lead from inside the box I see myself and others in a distorted way. In other words, I simply see others as objects. When I lead from outside the box I see myself and others for who we really are – people. Let me illustrate.

I get on an airplane that has open seating. I grab a seat next to the window and quickly put my briefcase on the middle seat. I began to read my newspaper. As people come down the aisle and appear that they may be eyeing the seat next to me, I open the newspaper wider making that sea look less appealing. Where am I? I am “inside the box.” I am viewing everyone who comes down that aisle as merely an object that will make my life less comfortable and enjoyable if they sit in the seat next to me. My behavior of putting my briefcase on the seat next to me and opening my newspaper wider is stemming from my “inside the box” view of people as mere objects.

Now compare that to a married couple who gets on a plane and due to a mishap are not given seats together. To their surprise and delight, a man gets up from the rear of the plane and comes up and says, “It appears you two do not have seats together. There is actually an empty seat next to mine. I would be glad to switch with one of you so that two can sit next to each other on the flight.” Where is this person? He is “outside the box.” His behaviors are stemming from viewing people for what the really are – people!

The book than describes self-deception in leadership. Self-deception is when I am leading from “inside the box” but don’t realize it. Self-deception is when I think I am leading by viewing everyone else in my organization as people when I am really viewing them as objects. Self-Deception is thinking I am leading from “outside the box” when I am really leading from “inside the box.”

As I read the first part of this book I became convicted. I like to think I am leading Grace Church from “outside the box.” I like to think that I am leading this ministry by viewing people as people. But as I read the examples in the book I realized how often I have been viewing people in our ministry as mere objects rather than as people. Self-deception – I think I might be guilty. But that’s not a bad realization because you can’t change until you realize the truth.

The rest of the book will deal with understanding how we get into that box and understanding how to get out of it. I am looking forward to reading and processing the rest of the book.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This is for all the lonely people


Two Sundays ago we ended our Face Your Fears series talking about facing our fear of being alone. We have now moved on to our new series, LIAR, but I want to take one last look at the topic of loneliness. I was really taken back the Sunday we talked about this at how this topic connected with people. We have never had as many requests for cd/dvd copies of a sermon as we did last Sunday. Why? Because loneliness is no respecter of persons.

The American Council of Life Insurance did a study to find out what group of people in America are the loneliest. To my surprise, the most lonely group in America ended up being college students. Behind them came divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives and then the elderly. Again let me say it – loneliness is no respecter of persons.

Even those whom you feel would never experience loneliness find themselves facing being alone. It has been said that the higher up one goes in leadership, the lonelier they become. I can tell you from personal experience that this is true, especially for those in ministry. When you pastor a large church you know a lot of people and a lot of people know you. Many even look favorably on you. But close friends are rare. I remember my Grandpa, who was a pastor for 50 years, telling me that if you find one close friend in each church you pastor, you are blessed.

I think that is why last Sunday connected with so many people. We all have experienced loneliness, sometimes even when we are in the midst of a crowd. So last Sunday we looked at 6 examples from Scripture of individuals who faced being alone. From each of their situations we learned a lesson that we can apply to our lives when we face loneliness. I am just going to list the lessons below. You’ll have to go to our church website (http://www.meetgrace.org/) to watch or listen to the message and get the whole context.

Elijah found himself alone in cave in 1 Kings 19. The cause of his loneliness was self-pity. The lesson we learn is that in times of loneliness we need to lead a full life.

Joseph found himself alone in a pit in Genesis 37. The cause of his loneliness was betrayal. The lesson we learn is that in times of loneliness we need to believe that God has a purpose.

Hannah found herself alone at a banquet in 1 Samuel 1. The cause of his loneliness was infertility. The lesson we learn from her life is that we need to pour our hearts out to God.

Ruth found herself alone in a land in Ruth 1. The cause of her loneliness was grief. The lesson we learn is that in times of loneliness we need to lean on a support system of friends.

Paul found himself alone in a jail in 2 Timothy 4. The cause of his loneliness was imminent death. The lesson we learn is that in times of loneliness we need to deal with our circumstances head on.

Jesus found Himself alone on a cross in Matthew 26. The cause of his loneliness was rejection. The lesson we learn is that in times of loneliness we need to develop our relationship with God.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How Long is 604,800 Seconds?


There are 60 seconds in a minute

There are 3,600 seconds in an hour

There are 86,400 seconds in a day

There are 604,800 seconds in a week

So 604,800 seconds is equal to 7 full days. Now why is that significant? That is significant because our coming prayer challenge for the month of June as part of our Year of Prayer is to see 7 full days of non-stop prayer by our ministry and for our ministry. Of all the prayer challenges we are participating in as a ministry over 2010, this is one of the ones that excites me the most. Imagine it:

7 days

168 hours

10,080 minutes

604,800 seconds
of non-stop prayer by our ministry for our ministry!

WOW! I have never been part of something like this and I can’t wait to see what God will do. Our 7 days will start at 12:00am, Monday, June 7th, and last through 11:59pm, Sunday, June 13th. We will have 10 specific ministry prayer requests that we will be using during these 7 days of non-stop prayer. Beginning May 23rd we will open up a page on our website where people can sign up for a 15-minute slot. If there are four 15-minute slots each hour then that means to fill the entire 7 days we will need to fill 672 slots. Each person who signs up will get a reminder e-mail prior in advance of their time slot which will include the 10 prayer requests.

You can sign up as individuals

You can sign up as couples

You can sign up as a family

You can sign up as a group

You can sign up for one slot

You can sign up for multiple slots.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Remember to PRAY 10

Tim, David and I catching a matinee at Penn Cinema reminding you to PRAY 10 this week!

LIAR - Part 1


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



Friday, May 14, 2010

Home for the Summer



This weekend I head down to Lynchburg, VA to pack up all the belongings out of my daughter's dorm room and bring her home for the summer. That is her pictured above by herself and with her group of Resident Assistant's at Liberty University. My going down to get Joy will also allow me to enjoy some banana pudding at Doc's Diner on campus. I love that stuff.

It's hard to believe that my oldest child is now completely finished with her Sophomore year of college!

It's also hard to believe that my youngest child is now less than 3-weeks away from his High School graduation here at Lititz Christian School!

I'M GETTING OLD!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

LIAR - An Introduction


This Sunday we will begin a brand new series verse by verse through the book of 2 Peter. We are calling this series “LIAR.” But before we begin this fascinating book study let’s take some time to learn some introductory information about this book of the Bible. Let’s start with some trivia related to the numbers 21, 55, 3, 61, 1559, and 6. Here is what these numbers stand for:

21 - 2 Peter is the 21st longest book of the New Testament
55 - 2 Peter is the 55th longest book in the entire Bible
3 – There are 3 chapters in 2 Peter
61 – There are 61 verses in 2 Peter
1,559 – There are approximately 1,559 English words are in 2 Peter?
6 – Peter quotes from 6 Old Testament books

This is Peter’s second and final Epistle. He is one of only 3 of the original Apostles who wrote an inspired book of the New Testament, the other two being Matthew and John. Peter is a very significant character with his name appearing about 210 times in the New Testament. Yet, 2 Peter has created more controversy over the issue of including it as part of Scripture than any other New Testament book due to supposed differences in style between 1 Peter and 2 Peter as well as the difference in vocabulary between the two Epistles. A careful study, however, shows that 2 Peter was indeed written by Simon Peter. How can we be so sure? First, Peter claimed to have written it (1:1). Second, the writer had been an eyewitness of the transfiguration (1:16-18) and Peter was at this event (Matthew 17:1-13). And finally, the writer of 2 Peter had written an earlier letter (3:1) and 1 Peter was definitely written by Peter (1 Peter 1:1).

Peter does not identify where he is writing this letter from. His first Epistle was probably written toward the end of his life, around AD 64, on the eve of the outbreak of the persecution by Nero. Many believe that after writing his first Epistle, Peter was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Perhaps Peter wrote this second Epistle in between his trial and execution.

We are calling this series “LIAR” because of the theme of the book. 1 Peter deals with persecution from without with the key word “suffering” used 16 times (10 of these occurrences referring to believers and 6 referring to the suffering of Christ). 2 Peter deals with false teaching from within and uses the phrase “full knowledge” (or the like) some 16 times. The key verse in 2 Peter is 3:18 which tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter has some very distinct features. For one, it contains the only what we would call “interconnective” reference from one apostolic Epistle to another as Peter refers to Paul’s writings (3:15-16). It is also very connected to the book of Jude. In fact, 19 of the 25 verses making up the book of Jude are reiterated in some fashion in 2 Peter. 2 Peter can also be favorably compared to 2 Timothy. Both are the last books written by their authors. Both contain a key passage on the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Both warn against false teachers (2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 2). And both men knew as they were writing that they would soon die a martyr’s death for their faith (2 Timothy 4:6; 2 Peter 1:13-15).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SUNDAY IS COMING


My greatest love in ministry is planning and preparing messages to preach. Below are the themes and Scripture for Sunday messages here at Grace Church now through September:

May 16 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 1:1-11)

May 23 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 1:12-21)

May 30 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 2:1-10)

June 6 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 2:11-22)

June 13 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 3:1-9)

June 20 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 3:10-13)

June 27 – LIAR Series (2 Peter 3:14-18)

July 4 – HEROES OF PRAYER Series – Daniel: Courage in Prayer (Daniel 5)

July 11 – HEROES OF PRAYER Series – Enoch: Intimacy in Prayer (Genesis 5)

July 18 – HEROES OF PRAYER Series – Solomon: Selflessness in Prayer (1 Kings 3)

July 25 – HEROES OF PRAYER Series – Samuel: Listening in Prayer (1 Samuel 3)

August 1 – OT SURVIVOR Series – David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

August 8 – OT SURVIVOR Series – Deborah and the Tent Spike (Judges 4-5)

August 15 – OT SURVIVOR Series – Achan Steals the Goods (Joshua 7-8)

August 22 – OT SURVIVOR Series – Gideon and the Fleece (Judges 6-7)

August 29 – OT SURVIVOR Series – Jehu the Wild Chariot Driver (2 Kings 9)

September 5 – OT SURVIVOR Series – Abraham Offers Isaac (Genesis 22)

September 12 – CAFFEINATED CHRISTIANITY Series (Mark 8:34-9:1)

September 19 – CAFFEINATED CHRISTIANITY Series (Mark 8:34-9:1)

September 26 – CAFFEINATED CHRISTIANITY Series (Mark 8:34-9:1)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On The Calendar

I was taking the time recently to look over my calendar through October. Outside of the typcal week to week and Sunday to Sunday events, here are the other things I am looking forward to:

May 14 – My son’s Band, Eternal Mindset, has a concert with the band, Disciple!
May 15 - My son's Band has their final concert at Long's Park before college!

May 16 – I go to get Joy and bring her home from College for the summer!

May 17-19 – Laura and I are going on a romantic getaway!

May 23 – Our 23rd Wedding Anniversary!

May 27-June 9Extended family visiting surrounding Jonathan’s graduation!

June 3 – My Son’s High School Graduation!

June 11-20Operation Barnabas Orientation here at Grace Church!

June 17-20 – A weekend to myself (Laura and the kids at a wedding in Indiana)!
June 18-19 - Going to Pittsburg to watch back to back Cleveland Indians games vs Pirates!
June 22 - Going to Philadelphia to watch my Indians do some damage the Phillies!

July 2 – Taking the Family to see Phantom of the Opera at the Fulton!

July 18-21 – Enjoying some days away with the family at the shore!

July 23-24 – Officiating a Wedding!

August 1Youth-led Communion Service!
August 2-3 - Meeting a friend from Ohio in Pittsburg to watch Reds vs Pirates!

August 5-6 – Attending the Leadership Summit at LCBC!

August 16-18 – Taking Jonathan to College for his Freshman Year! Empty Nest Begins!

August 28 – Officiating another Wedding!

August 29-September 3 – Attending a Leadership Development Program in Colorado

September 4-7 – Spending the holiday weekend with Laura’s family in southern Colorado

September 22See You at the Pole Prayer Event! (Church-wide Activity)

October 16-29 – My 3rd Trip to Israel!

Monday, May 10, 2010

To All My FACEBOOK Friends


It seems like everyone is doing it. It’s is the biggest form of “Internet Peer-Pressure” that you can find. I’m speaking of the ever popular activity of “face-booking.” What exactly is the fascination with it? It seems that the vast majority of people I know regularly keep a Facebook account online. I’m talking about people of all backgrounds and all ages.

Now I personally enjoy keeping up with my blog and appreciate the thousands of readers to my blog each month and the more than 158,000 unique visitors to my blog since its inception. But as much as I like the now old-fashioned form of “blogging” I have never really had any desire to open a Facebook account. Frankly, I was one of those parents that wouldn’t allow my kids to have a Facebook account. Call me archaic, but I was always uncomfortable with my kids spending too much time on the internet and putting personal information out there on the web.

But awhile back I decided I would open a Facebook account for one reason – so I could read some other people’s online diaries. I really had no intention of keeping my own account up to date. The problem is that I have no clue about how Facebook works. So when I got online and started through the process of opening my own Facebook account I worked my way through the information questions but for the life of me I just could not figure it all out. So, I finally gave up. People would just have to keep their Facebook accounts without me reading them.

There is just one problem. I must have done enough right in the process that my name is now out there on Facebook as having an account because since then I have received literally dozens upon dozens of e-mails from Facebook informing me of people asking to be “my friend.” In fact, someone must have spread the word back at my former church in Indiana that I supposedly had a Facebook account because in one weekend I received literally dozens – I mean dozens of Facebook emails from some people back at my former church requesting to be “my friend.” That was exciting but because I can’t figure out this cultural phenomenon, none of these wonderful individuals have been added to my account as friends.

So as a result, there are probably dozens upon dozens upon dozens of people out there – some local – some from back at my former church – and some from other past experience in my life – all of whom are probably wondering why I have not accepted their friendship request. They are probably wondering what they did to make me mad at them. But the truth is really quite simple. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I can’t figure out how to do it, nor do I really want to.

So if you are one of those many, many people who have requested to be my “Facebook Friend” and have received nothing reciprocal from me, thank you for being interested in my life. Please don’t take it personal that I haven’t added you as my friend. I haven’t added anyone. Why? Because I don’t know how! You have heard it said that “no man is an island.” Well, that may be true in many areas of life, but when it comes to this area I am on the Facebook Island all by myself – no friends – just me, myself and I. So I guess I’ll just keep blogging. I know it’s not near as culturally relevant as Facebook is but at least I know how to do it. In fact, I can even post your comments and respond to them. So, who needs Facebook anyway? Not me!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Face Your Fear Of Being Alone


Join us at Grace Church this Sunday!

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


Topic: Face Your Fears

Facing Your Fear of Being Alone


Watch our Sunday 10am service live on the web

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lessons from Loneliness


Loneliness is never fun. In fact, it just may be one of the hardest trials in life to endure. It can come from many different sources. This Sunday at Grace Church we will conclude our “Face Your Fears” message series by looking at the final of six very real fears – the fear of being alone. We will see this Sunday five individuals in the Bible who all faced the darkness of loneliness. They each were in different situations and the source of each of their loneliness was unique from the others. But from each of these six individuals we can learn a lesson to help us when we are facing the fear of being alone in our lives.

We will see Elijah who in 1 Kings found himself alone in a cave. The cause of his loneliness was self-pity. After his great victory on Mt Carmel, Queen Jezebel threatens his life and he ends up in a cave where God asks, “What are you doing?” You can see his loneliness and self-pity in his answer in verse 10, “I have been very zealous for the Lord…the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets. And I alone am left and they seek my life, to take it away.”

We will see Joseph who in Genesis 37 found himself alone in a pit. The cause of his loneliness was betrayal. Because of his brother’s jealousy toward him, they abducted him and threw him in a pit. Verse 24 says, “And they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.”

We will see Hannah who was alone at a banquet in 1 Samuel 1. The cause of her loneliness was infertility. While at a banquet, her husband’s insensitivity led her to go to the temple to be alone and to pour out her heart out to God. Verse 9-10 says, “Then Hannah rose…she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.”

We will see Naomi and Ruth who in Ruth 1 were alone in a strange land. The cause of their loneliness was grief. Naomi’s husband died as did her two sons leaving behind just her and her two daughters-in-law, one of whom was Ruth. Verses 8-9 says, “And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each one of you to her mother’s house…Then she kissed them and they lifted up their voices and wept.”

We will see the Apostle Paul who in 2 Timothy 4 found himself alone in a jail. The cause of his loneliness was imminent death. At the tail end of Paul’s life, he is in prison awaiting his execution and deeply desiring for Timothy, his companion and friend, to come visit him. In verse 9 and verse 21 he pleads with Timothy, “Make every effort to come to me soon…Make every effort to come before winter.”

And finally we will see Jesus who found himself alone on a cross in Matthew 27. The cause of His loneliness was rejection. Jesus had been betrayed, denied, and abandoned; even God the Father had to turn His face from him due to His carrying our sin. Verse 46 says, “And in the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?’”

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Grace Cafe Dedication - Photos 11-15

A happy couple enjoy the new cafe!


The new Grace Cafe is a great place to connect

Meeting and Moving - the purpose of the new cafe

Dan Buch, Building Committee Chairman, gives the dedication prayer

Scott Distler (Senior Pastor) and Dan Buch (Building Committee Chairman) find a way to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the dedication of the new cafe at Grace

Grace Cafe Dedication - Photos 6-10

Listening to the dedication in front of the Cafe windows!


Great crowd helps to celebrate the dedication of the new cafe

Special recognition from right to left:
Marlin Weaver, Building Committee
Megan Wilkerson, Building Committee
John Kegarise, Elder Chairman
Doug Bomberger, PR Builders
Two guests from Fulton Bank
Henry Webber, Building Committee
Dan Buch, Building Committee Chairman
Tim Auld, Executive Pastor

A full house for the cafe dedication ceremony

John Kegarise, Elder Chairman, opens in prayer

Grace Cafe Dedication - photos 1-5

Pastor Tim leading the dedication ceremony

A view from in front of the new Cafe counter

Another view from in front of the new cafe counter

Connecting in the new cafe

More connecting in the new cafe

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cleveland Indians WIN!


Most of you know that I am an avid baseball fan and a devoted follower of the Cleveland Indians who have not won a world series in my lifetime and have broken my heart on too numerous of occasions to count. But we finally won! Fox Sports had an article on their website last week showing a report of the most hated teams in baseball based on key words people use to show if they have positive, negative or neutral reactions to different brands or products (I’m not sure I want to know exactly what some of those “key descriptive words” were).

I would have bet the farm that the New York Yankees came out on the top of “the most hated list of baseball teams." But they weren’t. Actually there were four teams that came out as “more hated” than the Yankees. That is hard for me to comprehend because they are definitely at the top of my “most hated baseball teams” list. But Yankee fans will be even more glad to know that fans hate the Boston Red Sox more than they hate the Bronx Bombers.

But coming out on top of this prestigious list were my most beloved Cleveland Indians. We can’t seem to win a World Series but at least we won something. Here was the list of the top 10 baseball teams fans hate:

Cleveland Indians

Boston Red Sox

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals

Chicago White Sox

Baltimore Orioles

New York Mets

Los Angeles Dodgers

In case you are wondering, the San Fran Cisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics were the two teams at the other end of the list. How about that? The two least hated teams in Major League Baseball were both from the California West Coast – go figure. And what’s with this? Two of the top three hated teams were both from Ohio! No problem – as a Cleveland Indians fan still waiting for a world championship, I will take any win. After all, a “W” is a “W”!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

GRACE CHURCH MEETS AND MOVES IN THE CHAD




Marlin and Sue Weaver both serve on staff here at Grace Church. Previously, the Weavers were missionaries in France supported strongly by our church. Recently we received word that a man named Dadje Samuel passed away. Samuel was a key player in seeing Grace Brethren Churches started in Africa. Through the ministry of Marlin and Sue Weaver, Grace Church also had an impact in the church planting ministry of Dadje Samuel in the Chad. Marlin wrote me this:

I wanted to share the following story with you. I met Samuel at the Chateau in 1998 when he was a part of the first African theological training session at the Chateau. He and I hit it off right away due to our many shared interests. I was later able to visit Samuel in the Chad when I was part of a work team in 2001. He proudly showed me his Chadian Chateau and talked about his ministry of training Chadian evangelists. Samuel again returned to our France Chateau in 2005 for further training. Samuel was responsible for starting some 400 churches since his initial training at the Chateau. He opened up several mission fields in neighboring African countries. For Sue and I having the Africans at the Chateau was a fun cultural time and provided us with many stories, but God had a great plan in progress. He used those times to begin a great work in a man’s live which lead to the salvation of thousands. God used Lititz Grace in the support of the Chateau ministry of many years and can rightly rejoice in having shared in this great work. Please pray for the Chadian church. This man’s loss will be felt throughout the African church.

Below is a description of Dadje Samuel’s life:

Dadje Samuel died on Sunday, April 25, 2010. Dadje was married to Christine and had 8 daughters, 2 sons and several grandchildren. He was 47. Dadje was a businessman, an evangelist, and a trainer of church planters. He cared deeply that people who were lost would have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. This passion moved him to invest his life in personal evangelism and in starting a movement of African church planters. Dadje Samuel grew up in the Bassao area of southern Chad where he came to Christ as a young boy. His father rejected his faith and him. Forced to leave home, he climbed a nearby hill and there dedicated his life to God and asked God to be his Father. At 16 he went to Nigeria to work as a mason. By 18, he was a foreman. Later he moved to Cameroon where he gained more training as a mason and then began his own business. Dadje was asked by the Chadian fellowship of churches to return to Chad to assist in the many church building projects. He moved to Moundou where he started a successful construction company. He took classes at the Bassao Bible Institute and invested much time in evangelism and church planting. In 1998, at the Chateau in France, Dadje encountered the ACT Strategy of church planting. He came back to Chad and built his own "chateau" at Kou Bethanie and began the Summer School of Evangelism. Over the last 12 years hundreds of men were trained to minister either as evangelists/church-planters or as leaders in the new church plants. Due to his apostolic vision there are Chadian missionaries working in 4 countries and with unreached people groups with over 400 new churches and Points of Light started. It was on an exploratory trip to develop church planting in a new country that Dadje became ill. He was hospitalized, but died a few days later.

Monday, May 03, 2010

THE FINAL SIX


Our Survivor: Old Testament text polling is now finished. We started with 14 favorite stories from the Old Testament. After each round we dismissed from the list the two stories which received the least amount of votes in that round. Over the first three rounds of voting the following stories were in essence “voted off the island”:

Cain murders Abel

Moses and the Red Sea

Lot and the pillar of salt

Three men and the fiery furnace

Elisha heals Namaan

Solomon divides the baby

That left just 8 stories going into the final round. Amazingly, we received 7,765 votes in the final round and when the dust settled the final two stories to get voted off the island were:

The patience of Job – receiving just 293 votes (3.8% of votes cast)

Noah and the ark – receiving 986 votes (12.7% - falling just 21 votes shy of remaining)

Below are the winners listed in the order they finished after the final round. These will be the 6 stories that will be part of our summer Survivor: Old Testament series here at Grace Church that will take place starting the first Sunday of August and running through Labor Day weekend.

Gideon and the fleece1141 votes (14.7% of votes cast)

Achan steals the goods1097 votes (14.1% of votes cast)

Abraham offers Isaac1082 votes (13.9% of votes cast)

Deborah and the tent spike – also 1082 votes (13.9% of votes cast)

Jehu the wild chariot driver1077 votes (13.9% of votes cast)

David and Goliath1007 (13% of votes cast)

Thank you for your participation in this fun contest that started on Easter weekend. It was a pure experiment through and through and we are absolutely amazed at the numbers participating.