Friday, July 08, 2005

New Neighbor

There is a moving truck in front of the corner building across Delancey. Someone is moving in. Pray that we will establish friendly relations and be a good witness. I would think our church presents challenges to our neighbors because of our large attendance on Sunday. For most neighborhoods, Sunday morning is a sleepy quiet time. For our neighbors, it is the time when parking is the worse and hundreds of people are passing by their doors.

2006 Budget

We have begun the process of preparing the 2006 Budget. Anyone responsible for a line item in the budget has received notification to submit a proposal. Pat Canavan and I review them and prepare them for the trustees to examine at the August Trustee Meeting. The trustees, in turn, review the ministry proposals, general and administrative operations, building maintenance, staff salaries, building fund capital projects, as well as examine giving patterns. The resulting guidelines will further refine each budget item. I then meet with ministry leaders who want to discuss and refine their budget. In October, the trustees shape a budget to present to the Session October 25. After Session's approval with whatever revisions it may have made, this will become the budget to submit to the congregation in advance of the December 5 meeting.

Pray for everyone involved, especially the trustees. We want to be responsible stewards of the resources God gives to us. There is a delicate balance to keep that we do not act recklessly in committing projected funds, yet acting in faith that God will provide. Discerning where and how God is leading us is the key. We know the direction, but it is in the details where things get tricky.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Are you single? Would you like to attend events for singles? The staff is exploring this subject now. Give me your feedback.

TP and LC

Two short-term mission teams will be commissioned this Sunday. At 9:00 will be the Cambodia team, and at 11:00 the Turkey team.

Note the Tenth Press article which is a report by Kin Lam on his church planting efforts in South Philly among blue-collar Chinese immigrants. Kin is looking for helpers and hopes to start worship services in August.

I just edited another TP article that will appear August 7. It is by Ed Gross the pastor of Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in Roxborough. The church is OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian) but recently voted to enter the PCA in order to join the new city-wide presbytery forming in January. Grace Chapel, a small PCA church on Henry Avenue, voted last month to merge with Pilgrim. The plan is to move most of Pilgrim's congregation into Grace's facilities and then basically replant a church in Roxborough that will be more intentional in reaching the changing community.

On July 17 new members will be received. Take note of the 24th Living Church. Nada Ghattas will speak. She is the daughter of Nasrat and Afaf. Deaf and unable to speak (will use computer technology to speak), she is a delightful young woman with a strong faith and love for the Lord.

From the Field

Here are excerpts from a report on a trip to Cambodia by Harvey and Heidi Shepard:

It is estimated that 2 million people had been killed during the reign of Khmer Rouge, mostly sent to the mass graves now known as Cambodia’s Killing Fields. I have read that after Pol Pot’s reign of terror there were only 300 educated people in the entire country; included in these were about 50 doctors.

One consequence of the wars and killing is that countless children became orphans. These children were the beginning of Cambodia’s street children. Since then the street children have had children, etc. and now it is estimated that there are about three thousand street children just in Phnom Penh.

Some of our time here has been spent with “His Child,” a Christian organization InterServe partners participate in. They run an orphanage as well as a pre-orphanage halfway home for children coming off the street or rescued from the boarder (before being sold to brothels in Thailand). There is also a bus which goes out to the neediest areas from which street children can receive a lesson, some food and a change of clothes. I (Harvey) have been going along to provide medical care, although it is very basic. The children have little family or social supports in place – you can’t give a five-year-old child who lives on the street, for example, a week of antibiotics – it won’t get taken correctly, or will be sold, etc.

After a visit to the Killing Field’s mass graves and seeing the many skulls and bones of its victims, as well the infamous prison where many were tortured, there is the grim reminder that life is not only difficult for many of this world, but for some, intolerably evil. Yet it is also a reminder that much of what happens in this life is just a foretaste of what awaits us in the next. For many, it will sadly be a fate far worse than the Pol Pots of this world have been able to dish out. For others, it will be such an overwhelming experience of goodness that we will continually be taken by surprise at how purely good it is.

While we are here on this fallen earth, occasionally tasting hints of both these extremes, we pray that by the grace of God we might be able to introduce some to the One who brings Hope during this life, and who guarantees safe passage to eternal joy with Him when this life, whether good or bad, comes to an end.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Your Profile

During this hour of 11:00, the largest number of you will check out this site (21 avg) and tomorrow on Thursday, the largest number throughout the day will check in (46). I am surprised by some habits. Less than 10 will look during the 8 am hour, but 23 between 11:00pm -1:00 am. I surmise, then, that most readers are under the age of 35.


On July 17, we will receive new members at Tenth. One of the pleasurable tasks I have is to edit the testimonies to be read at public reception. I am about half way through and here are some exerpts:

Rick had no conviction of being saved, worried about committing mortal sin, and fearing that God would lose patience with him. At Tenth, he learned of the hope that through God’s Son he could be saved from sin.

During high school, he attended church, describing himself as religious and moral but without a God-centered life and God-given repentance. From his love of science and philosophy, he contemplated the meaning of life, and after reading Psalm 19, saw the greatness of God, understanding that he stood under God’s judgment and would spend eternity apart from him—who is pure delight and wonder—without Christ.

Bob became an angry, addictive college freshman. He became a new person when he acknowledged his sin and trusted in Christ.

She then lived on her own terms for many years. After experiencing personal failures that left her feeling empty and alone, she realized that she needed a relationship with God and his Son in the front of her life to guide her. As she says, “I placed my life in the hands of Jesus Christ, who has saved me by dying on the cross for my sins and by this has assured my salvation.”

Birthday Celebration

The staff celebrated Cora Hogue's birthday yesterday by taking her out to lunch at Branzino's, a block away on 17th Street. Delicious Italian cuisine, but prepare to wait a long time before it comes out, especially if you have 15 people sitting at your table.

New Staff

Faith Mayes is filling in as Interim Missions Assistant. If you want to communicate with the missions office, email her at

Evening Preachers

The next four Sunday evenings feature our interns preaching - Chris Seah (2 John 1-6; 3 John 1-8), Luke Herche (2 John 7-13), and Aaron Snethen (3 John 9-15).

Little Red Riding Hood

Did you know that there are two wolves in The Little Red Riding Hood story? The huntsman, with Grandmother and Red, do in the first one with stones sewn in his belly, and then Grandma and Red take care of the second one on their own later in the story. Old ladies and little girls were tough in those days!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An American!

After months of crossing hurdles and patient waiting, Fayek Khalil, sends this good news:

Dear Friends,
Today I became a United States citizen! Praise the Lord!
Thank you all for praying for me!

(U.S. citizen)


I have not updated my reading list. While on vacation read C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces, the retelling and reinterpreting of the Cupic and Psyche story in such a way as to present earlier Lewis' themes - the longing of a glorious, spiritual reality signifies its reality; redemption comes when we are brought to truly knowing who we are as sinners. For me, Lewis is the standard for writers, both fiction and nonfiction. I can pick up any book at any page, enjoy the fine craftsmanship and be stimulated to deeper thought.

I then continued my reading of Tenth members with Bruce McDowell's Muslims and Christians at the Table (co-written with Anees Zaka). The strengths of this book are: clear, well organized presentation of Islam, practical guidance for developing relationships, and (most importantly) a balanced, gracious attention to Muslims. It neither demonizes Islam, nor overlooks its defects, but takes the concerns and needs of our Muslim neighbors seriously and charitably.

Am now reading Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, by Guy Waters, a formed Tenth member while attending Westminster and now teaches biblical studies at Belhaven College. The first seven (I am in six) chapters present a study of the sources from which the New Perpectives teachings have developed. The last two offer a critique. Will report.

Am also reading Grimm's fairy tales, which along with needing a PG-13 rating for children, have, for the most part, been underwhelming in excitement. The end of most stories leave me asking, "That's it?" They seem more like story-lines meant to be filled out for complete stories later.

After the Party

The weekend of Philadelphia's parties before the nation and the world is over. I attended most of last night's concert in front of the museum and was disappointingly bored by it. No musician sang more than three songs, I think including Elton John (may have had four), and most of those songs were slow or lacking energy. Between each cameo act were intermissions longer than the acts, either of commercials or fundraising pitches. Ginger and I squeezed out of the crowd before Sir Elton who was preceded by a half-hour of intermission. We could hear the music from the condo and watch the crowds who had gathered in front of our building. The night was saved by the fireworks which were directly across from our window. Spectacular! Next year we will stay inside to enjoy the festivities.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Came across a good web resource for expository sermons. Check out

Fourth of July

What a great place to be for the 4th of July - not only in Philadelphia, but with an upper floor view of the fireworks across the street. Can't wait!