Saturday, July 23, 2005

Of Theology and Tales

Just completed Guy Water's book Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul. An excellent presentation of background sources which have found their way into the Reformed community as seen in the teachings of Norman Shepherd and the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church. Also commendable is Guy's respectful manner in treating the works of NPP writers. Highly recommend the book, which is published by P&R.

Also finished Grimms' Fairy Tales. On the whole fun to read, but some stories would rate an R rating for callous violence. (In the real Cinderella story, one of the sisters cuts off her big toe to fit her foot in the slipper, and is discovered by the blood soaking through.)


Here are some worship attendance figures of interest:

2004 Averages

9:00 – 365
11:00 – 777
6:30 – 295 Total – 1,436

2005 Averages through June 30

9:00 – 381
11:00 – 796
6:30 – 286 Total 1,463

Friday, July 22, 2005

In Perspective

If you feel the weather is hot, here is Steve Kline's weather report in Morocco:
"It's a scorcher today! It's 104, and it's only 12:00! Yesterday it was up to 108!"

Cambodia Team

This is the only report I've gotten about the Cambodian team. It's from the Rudys.

"They are an exceptionally cooperative and mature team. We're enjoying every minute of it. Thanks for sending them to us!" Ken and Donna

Session Report

The church Session meets next Tuesday. Pastoral staff are required to submit reports. Here is the report I am submitting. The style is similar to what the others give.

- Conducted funeral July 9 (Tony Thompson, brother of Mary Thompson)
- Spoke at TCU July 17 (Ecclesiastes 7)
- Lead two small group Bible studies on 1 Peter (Fairmont, Parish 1 and Drexel Hill, Parish 3)
- Provided prayer and counsel on marriage and family issues, relationships, sin
struggles, career changes
- Hospital and home visits: Laura Layer, Louise Schnauffer, Snethens, Tony Thompson
- Continue to meet with individual staff
- Led prayer meeting with staff of Youth Study Center
- Pre-marital counseling
- Assisted elders and deacons in various pastoral cases

- Attended presbytery July 23
- Appointed to committee to make proposal for Grace Chapel facilities
- Met with Frank Moser to discuss set-up of new city presbytery

- Attended information luncheon for LAMP, an urban seminary program
- Attended CCA board meetings
- Attended Church Planting and Growth & Maturity Commissions meetings
- Handling platform assignments in Phil’s absence
- Preparing for Bible Exposition Workshop in February
- Preparing for World Missions Conference in November

- To meet the many projects and deadlines I am responsible for
- Preparation for the four sermons in August

Living Church

I am excited about our Living Church this Sunday. Nada Ghattas will be speaking (through her voice computer). If you attend the evening service, you will have noticed her sitting on the front pew following the "signer" for the deaf. Nada cannot hear, nor speak, and has mobility difficulties. What you will see Sunday is a young woman with a radiant faith. Jodi Clark will also say a few words about the deaf ministry she started at Tenth.

The Ways of God

Saw this on Christiana's blog:

My little team is taking a break from the hot sun. we have had an exhausting, excitıng, overwhelming week so far. we knew things were too easy when Philadelphia security let us through in no time flat...our plane was a bit late out of philly which meant that we arrived in paris with a tiny bit of time to make our connection. we took a bus to a terminal and then to another terminal, and if you’ve ever been to that airport, i recommend planning a long connection time. we missed the flight and stood in the transfer line for two hours. we were booked onto the next flight which meant another 7 hours in the airport. we had vouchers for lunch, and the time we had as a team was, ın retrospect, essential to the rest of our trip. Ari, Kristi, Tim, Maria, and I played a three hour game of spades. neverendıng! just having to hang out with each other during that time prepared us to spend time as a team. The flight to our destination was smooth and all was well until we lined up to get visas and Linda couldn’t find her passport. Everything was searched, but nothing was found. Jonathan and I stayed behind with her, while the team went ahead to meet up wıth John, who had brought Brian P with him. After some time, they headed for the hotel, when it was clear that Linda would not be joining the rest that night. We understood she would have to go back to Paris and perhaps back to the US if the passport was not found. JOnathan eventually sent me on to the hotel, and Maria was asked to go to Paris with Linda if that were necessary. It was. So, for the first three days, our team was really in a state of some upheaval, yet God showed us more of himself then we would have known otherwise. Team members came together and dealt with problems, helped each other out ın amazing ways (you should hear the tales from Paris!), and began to adjust to our new situation. Linada and Maria got back on Monday night thankfully!

I don’t have time to tell all (or even most) of the tales today, but one of my highlights was my team of Amber, George, and Chrıs L. spending a whole afternoon with a family at their carpet shop. We ran into one brother on the street, began asking him questions about carpets, and he asked us to come see his brother a ways away.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Field Report

Jonathan Olsen called. The team is doing great. He says they are being used as guinea pigs to test how to use other teams that come visit. John L will be in the country mid-August and give a report to the congregation. Haven't heard from Cambodia yet.

One Down

I completed the bathroom faucet job and still no leaks. Will tackle the other next Thursday. I noticed I get advice in the comment section from the earlier posting. The best plumbing advice I can be given goes like this: "Sit tight. I'll come over and do the job for you." I recall fondly a day several years ago when Bruce McDowell and Carroll Wynne came over to the house and fixed up my basement bathroom. Bruce handled the plumbing and Carroll the electric. They were like the Dynamic Duo.

Perilous Plumbing

I am taking the day off today, tackling two plumbing projects - replacing faucet systems on our two sinks. That is the goal, anyhow. What should take an hour, I suspect will take the entire day, and may require paying someone who actually knows what he is doing. But, really, what could go wrong?

Dot is Back

Dot is back from vacation. Special thanks to Jessie Taylor for ably filling in.

It Doesn't Get Any Better

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of visiting (with my wife Ginger) Sherry and Elmer Snethen. I thought we were making a pastoral visit to encourage them. The evening, however, was taken up with them telling their testimonies and sharing about God's grace in their lives, including Sherry's stay in the hospital, which she spent ministering to the nurses. The whole time they are talking, they are beaming with joy.

Yesterday, I filled in for David Apple who leads a small prayer meeting at the Youth Study Center for whatever staff would like to come during their lunch break. Three people showed up. As they began to share their prayer requests, they also couldn't help but tell about the goodness of the Lord. Finally, I had to stop the sharing to leave time for prayer.

Last night, I led a Bible study in Drexel Hill. We were studying 1 Peter 1:10-12, which tells how the prophets who prophesied about the redemption of Christ yearned to know when their prophesy would be fulfilled. The answer is that the prophesy was to be fulfilled not for them, but for us. We then reflected on the significance of this and the great mystery of Christ's redemption.

It doesn't get any better than this - not on earth. The joy is never more satisfying than to revel in the glorious grace of our God.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From the Field

I spoke to Jonathan Olsen this morning. The team is doing well (after a 9 hour delay in Paris and lost passport!) and quickly immersing themselves in the culture. Jonathan himself spent a couple of hours in conversation with a vendor. The goal of the hosts is for the team to learn firsthand the work they are doing so as to communicate effectively with us, and through conversations, such as Jonathan's, help build good relations for the hosts with their neighbors.

Have not heard from the Cambodia team yet.

Modern Reformation

The latest issue of Modern Reformation focuses on the "Emerging Church" movement. You can find an analysis essay written by D. A. Carson at the website:, as well as interview with Bruce McLaren, a spokesman for the movement.

LAMP Report

I've come back from the LAMP luncheon. LAMP is an alternative ministry training program that through a six-year program prepares men for pastoral ministry, receiving either a Bachelor of Divinity (if no college degree) or a Master's. It's target is mostly those already in ministry or other careers and active in ministry. There is a strong emphasis on "mentor-based" training, each student meeting weekly with a mentor. The annual tuition cost (including books) is $1,500. (The average debt of a church planter coming out of seminary is $45,000.) Anyone interested?

From the Field

Carroll Wynne has reported in on his speaking assignment at Seneca Hill Bible Conference, a youth conference. He writes:

"The conference is going well as tonight I got into the meaty issue of God's
sovereignty. Tomorrow is his goodness. So tonight and tomorrow really give
the foundation for the rest of the week. However it means I am preparing
and writing five to six hours a day which gives me little time to be with
the kids. Understandable, but..."

Pray for these messages to bear fruit in the young people's lives.

Septa Schedule

If you need to get somewhere in the city using Septa, go to You will find up-to-date notices and schedules. I'm catching the 11:00 to Manayunk today.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Leaky Church

We had at least three leaks in the sanctuary last night. Be glad you were not part of the wedding party Friday night that had leaks and a broken air conditioner. We found the a/c problems and got them repaired, but leaks are another matter. Fortunately, we are moving along on replacing the roof.


Tomorrow, I am attending a luncheon to learn about LAMP (Leadership and Ministry Preparation), a new training program for urban pastors, ministry leaders, and church planters. Will give a report. My understanding is that it is to make seminary level education available to men making a career change and can't afford to move/support a family or for some other reason a traditional seminary education is not practical.

Tenth Evangelism

While reading the March/April edition of Modern Reformation, I came across this brief response by Phil to the question of "How We Do It," i.e. evangelism:

Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelpia does not have a ministry of evangelism, per se. Rather, all of our ministries proclaim the work of God, and therefore we consider all of them to have an evangelistic aspect. Our worship is evangelistic: we preach the gopsel in all of our public services, with the prayer that God will bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. Our Sunday school is evangelistic: as we teach the Bible to children and adults, we call them to trust in Christ for their salvation. Our missionary work is evangelistic: we send missionaries to places far and near with the purpose of sharing the gospel. Our church planting is evangelistic: as we plant new churches in and around Philadelphia, our goal is to bring new people into the church, and not simply to move Christians from one church to another. Our mercy ministry is evangelistic: as we show the love of Christ through feeding the homeless, visiting prisoners, tutoring city children, and caring for people who are separated or divorced, we always combine deeds of mercy with words of gospel truth. Possible the only ministry in the church dedicated exclusively to evangelism is a small prayer group that meets in my study during lunchtime on Friday afternoons. The sole focus of our intercession is to pray by name for people who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Often we find ourselves praying for people whom we have met through one of the ministries of the church.

Thinning Out

Phil left yesterday for four weeks of vacation and study leave. Hhmmm...what can I do in four weeks? He's not the only one gone. Dot has still another week or two away. Carroll, Jonathan, and David left over the weekend.