Friday, December 02, 2005

Ahhhhhh! Flannel!

It's going to be cold tonight, but I'm not worried. Sena McInnes tipped off my wife Ginger about the joys of flannel sheets. No more getting into a cold bed. Flannel sheets can't be beat!

Worshipping in Spanish

That's what we hope to allow our Spanish-speaking worshippers to be doing soon. We've bought the equipment that allows worshippers to wear headphones and listen to a translator during the service. We are figuring out space and monitor needs now. But what we really need are translators. If you have the answers, contact Bruce McDowell at

I said we've bought the equipment. The truth is that we need some donations to cover the cost - $1,300. If you are excited about this project, send a donation to the church and mark "Spanish Translation Project" on the memo line.

Request Fulfilled

The earlier "Accommodations Request" posting has already been answered. Thanks.

Worthy Receivers

The final paragraphs of the Westminster Confession's chapter on The Lord's Supper:

7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

8. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy coming thereunto, are guilty of the body of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so are they unworthy of the Lord's table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.


Congregational Meeting tonight, 7:30 in the Sanctuary. Agenda includes: electing elders, deacons, deaconesses, and Nominating Committee members; acting on the proposed church budgets; receiving and discussing a presentation of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Come early for dessert, beginning at 6:00. Will include baked goods for sale and auction as a Maranatha fundraiser.



Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He'll wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceivest, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt'st in little room
Immensity, cloister'd in thy dear womb.

John Donne
from La Corona, a series of sonnets on the life of Christ

Accommodations Request

From February 1-3, Tenth is hosting a preaching workshop. We have begun to advertize and have received the following request from a minister in Long Island:

Greetings. I'm seriously thinking about attending the workshop on Biblical Exposition (Feb. 1-3, '06) at Tenth Presbyterian. My name is Wai C. Tan and I pastor a very small RCA congregation on Long Island, New York. I like very much to stay with a church family (if available) while attending the workshop. I plan to go there by bus. Blessings to you. Rev Tan

If you can provide accommodations, contact Pat Russell at


Carroll Wynne sent this meditation this morning:


For many of us, the commodity of time becomes scarce in the midst of a life full of activity. The result? Limited availability. In my life, my lack of availability has led to times of failure in service to those I care about deeply. My family and friends have suffered and continue, at times, to suffer from my lack of availability.

Recently, a man describing his wife, affectionately told of her willingness to be available. She had purposely chosen availability rather than formal work. Although the choice had financial ramifications, the rewards of service were immeasurable. As he spoke, his wife was spending time with a woman in their church who was in need of wisdom and good company. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point, describes a study done by Princeton University psychologists, John Darley and Daniel Batson. The study was inspired by Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke. Seminarians at Princeton Theological Seminary were told to walk over to a nearby building and give an extemporaneous talk on a particular Biblical theme. Some students were told they were late, others were told they had time to spare. Along the way each student ran into a man slumped in an alley, with his head down, eyes closed, coughing and groaning in obvious need. Ten percent of those who thought they were late stopped to give aid, while 63% of those who thought they had a few minutes to spare stopped. The conclusion? Perceptions of our availability can deeply affect our behavior. In this case the perception of time influenced availability. Celebrating Christmas is a wonderful reminder that God made himself available to us. Leaving His place outside time and space, God became man in the form of a child. God's availability is a most extraordinary demonstration of His love. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." John 1:14 NIVAs we turn in gratitude to the Available God, may we, likewise, choose to be available to others.

Sharing the journey with you,
Bob Snyder

Morning Devotion

Julio Zamora shared this devotional with me this morning:

(James Alexander, "My Brother's Keeper" 1838) The habit of early rising is surely a friend to the soul. If it is the best time for study, it is also the best time for devotion. When prayer and praise are neglected in the morning, they are commonly neglected all day. If you let the world get the start of your soul in the morning, you will seldom overtake it all day.

Morning devotion . . .
sweetens every succeeding hour,
pours a balm on the conscience,
gives a pleasant savor to business,
locks the door against wicked thoughts,
furnishes matter for pious reflection all the day.

It is better to go from prayer to business--than from business to prayer. Fellowship with God prepares for fellowship with our fellow creatures--and for every event, whether pleasing or painful.

This is taken from a series of letters from Alexander to his younger brother. You'll find the complete letters, as well as other letters, sermons, and devotions

A Tree and a Bird

This Christmas memory comes from Sarah Brubaker via her mother Cheryl. (P.S. I need more stories!)

I have been thinking about your request for Christmas stories and mentioned your request to the girls. Sarah immediately reminded me of this little interaction between Jim Boice, and herself, around age 4 or so. I don't really know all of the history of "that bird in the tree at Tenth," but I know it is part of my daughter's "Christmas at Tenth" memories ( "there would have been birds in the trees where Jesus was born, wouldn't there Mommy??"..)..and one way in which she remembers her very first Pastor caring for her concerns. Below is Sarah's story retold in her own way....

Dr. Boice had just finished another spectacular sermon of the Christmas season 1995. A small girl of about four who had sat through the entire sermon in one of the Amen pews, runs up to him right as he leaves the platform. She had been studying the tree for the past half hour and had found something lacking. She has sat dutifully through the sermon, waiting with anticipation (and great difficulty) for the moment when she could go to Dr. Boice and ask him the question that has been burning in her mind since she first started studying the tree. “Where is the bird?” she asks, when she finally reaches him. He turns around and studies the tree. After affirming that the dove was indeed not in the tree he bends down to her and says “I don’t know, but I will find out!”

When we went in the next week for church, low and behold, there was the bird! And the little girl was content.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Will Enough Show?

Kristen Harnley just called. She is the Nursery Director. Only five families have signed up to use the nursery for tomorrow night's meeting. All the more we are wondering if we will have a quorum tomorrow. You can still register for the nursery by calling Kristen at 610.449.0353.

Turn Your Internet Radio On

Paul Jones sent this to me today:

You’ll probably be “working” at 3:00 PM (EST) today – but in case you’d like something else to do, there is an hour long interview with me about hymnody, Tenth Church, Schola Cantorum, our Philosophy-Theology of Music statement, WB and PSJ Christmas Cd’s, etc. being aired this afternoon. Westminster Brass gets some good airtime!

To listen live via the internet go to: and click on: VCY America Live

The Substance of the Elements

Ongoing teaching from the Westminster Confession in preparation for Communion this Sunday:

5. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to Him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.

6. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.

Christmas Decorating

Today's Christmas memory comes from Sylvia Duggan. I hope to post one everyday up to Christmas, so send me your memories and stories and recipes. Email me at

Paul and I were married on December 10th. When we returned from our honeymoon week, one of the first things we had to do was move the last of my things out of my old apartment and clean it. We were helped in this task by our wonderful best man, Joel Garver. While the guys took one last load to the new apartment I finished up the cleaning. It took them forever to return and when they did I was worn out and more then a little grumpy from waiting so long. I don't think I held my grumpiness too well. When we got back to the apartment I certainly had to eat crow, for there in our bedroom was a small Christmas tree which they had purchased and set up using the box of Christmas stuff I had sent over with them on an earlier trip. This was
such a special gift from my new husband, all the more so because he had grown up without a tradition of celebrating Christmas (in a Christian family that adhered strongly to the regulative principle), and I was worried about how we would decide what Christmas would look like in our home. (P.S. Its so nice every year when 10th puts up the Christmas Decorations. It looks just like it did on our wedding day, reminding us of the joy of the day and the commitments we made. We always make a point of coming in the Spruce Street doors that first Sunday after the congregational meeting just for the experience of reliving that moment.)


Come early tomorrow night to the dessert party before the congregational meeting. The dessert starts at 6:00 and the meeting at 7:30. Besides free dessert, Maranatha will offer baked goods for sale, as well as an auction for the more extraordinary fare.

Congregational Meeting

Tomorrow night at 7:30 is the Congregational Meeting. I hear that some people do not attend because they do not feel like decisions are already made. Here is why you should attend.

1. As a church member you vowed to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability and to submit yourselves to the government of the church.

2. As a church member you do have a say and opportunity is given for it.

3. As a church member you have the responsibility to encourage and support decisions, not merely speak out when you have objections.

4. If enough do not attend (150), no decisions can be made, as happened at the Spring meeting.

5. At this particular meeting, the first report of the Strategic Planning Committee will be given. This strategic planning is probably the most critical process taking place in the church and will affect the direction of the church for the next ten years. If you want to have a say in this process, now is the time to come.

6. The more the merrier. We like you! It's fun to have the body of Christ together, and the more the merrier.

7. You'll miss Phil's attempt at delivering a joke!

It's in the Mail

This morning I set up with my bank to send 2/3 of my tithe automatically to the church the day after each paycheck. I often will forget to write a check immediately and then end up getting behind, which then makes it more difficult to catch up. The remainder I will give in the offering plate and/or to church and Christian causes. What I don't know yet is how to designate the bank payments to be divided up among the budgets. I'll let you know when I've figured it out.

Day of Prayer

Please come to one of the Day of Prayer sessions this Sunday morning - 9:00 in Fellowship Hall and 11:00 in the 315 Building. I'll be leading the 9:00 session and Aaron Messner the 11:00. We had excellent turnout last time and hope to keep it up.

We are also encouraged by the turnouts for the Friday evangelistic prayer meetings in Phil's study from 12:15-12:45 and for the Sunday mission prayer meetings at 5:30. I am committing myself to attend each meeting monthly.

Blood Drive

Next Tuesday will be our periodic Blood Drive at the church. You can sign up this Sunday for an appointment, or call 800-GIVE LIFE, or sign up online at I use to be a regular donor, but the Mad Cow Disease worries disqualified me. I use to take insulin derived from pigs and cows.

Health Report

My colonoscopy of two weeks ago revealed that I have no signs of polyps or whatever it is to worry about.

Went to be diabetic educator yesterday. He's the one I fear the most. He connects my insulin pump and blood glucose monitor into a computer which then reveals all my sins - all my high blood sugars, all the times I did not check my sugar, and other transgressions. To make matters worse, Ginger sits in on the session and sees the same information.

What if there was a system to plug in our thought-life to a computer for a three-month check-up? Oh wait...what did Jesus say about every word spoken?

It's Beginning to Look...

...a lot like the church. The wreaths are hung and the tree is standing. But I did not see the bird...Where is he hiding?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

MTW Offering 'Incarnate Grace' Devotionals Online

Keep your Christmas in perspective with Mission to the World's online devotional, Incarnate Grace. Written for the advent season by MTW missionaries and staff, devotionals will be available each day from December 1 – 25. The devotionals center around missionary themes and applications. Go to and follow the link on the front page. Here is an excerpt:

Arun Lal Chakma had been one of those that responded eagerly to the Good News. Although he knew that his family was quite opposed, Chakma happily joined those to be baptized that day. As locals finished final preparations fo rthe service, Chakma received a surprise visit from his oldest son. The bright and sunny day suddenly darkened with clouds of the son's anger--anger that his father was betraying all he had taught his son, and anger that the father was taking up a strange new religion. Harsh words were spoken, and attempts to explain fell on deaf ears. Suddenly, the son drew a gun, pulled thrigger, and put a bullet through his father's head, ushering him unexpectedly into the presence of his newly-found Savior.

Advent Tradition

Jessie Bible sent in this Christmas memory:

One thing that stands out to me about my family's Christmas celebrations growing up is our weekly Advent service. Each Sunday of Advent, we would sit in our kitchen and have a time of family worship. We lit a candle for each week of Advent and read from the Bible, and other devotional materials and sang Christmas carols.

The kitchen was in complete darkness except for the candles that were lit. The way our Advent wreath worked, the heat from the candles turned a circle of angels and rang bells above the candles. So as each week passed and the birth of the Messiah was closer, the angels would move faster and the bells would ring louder to signal his coming. And when we were done with readings and singing, we would sit in the near darkness, look at the candles and think about the coming of the Light of the World.

Since I am part of a "lower church" liturgical tradition now, I do miss more overt celebrations of Advent. But starting last Sunday, I am lighting candles in my own Advent wreath at home, continuing this tradition.

Communion Elements

Continuing the reading from the Westminster Confession on the Lord's Supper:

3. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.

4. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other alone; as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas Memory

Jesse Hubley is the first to send in a Christmas memory. Hope I will get more.

Christmas Eve, 2002 - I proposed to my girlfriend (now wife) Suzanne in the lobby of the Philadelphia Ritz Carlton. She met me at my place that evening to go to our first Tenth Christmas Eve Service (we began attending Tenth in July of that year), and I "suggested" that we stop at the Ritz beforehand to see their Christmas display. I proposed to her inside of the life-size gingerbread house, and she said yes (though I am still perplexed as to why she laughed rather than cried…). We asked the concierge to take our picture, which he did, then he offered us a complimentary champagne toast (which I assume is quite pricey at a place like that!). We then were privileged to hear the Westminster Brass and the glorious Christmas Eve Service for the first time!


The Board of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is meeting today. Phil is over there now. I assume Rick Phillips is in town. Below is a thanksgiving on the 5th anniversary of his father's death. I've copied and pasted from the reformation21 blogsite:

Today is the 5th anniversary of my father’s death. It is an occasion of some grief for me, but of more thanksgiving. I want to thank God for just a few of many blessings:

1) Thanks to God for my father’s noble character and joyful love. I was always proud to be his son, and I always knew his love and approval.

2) Thanks to God for answering my prayers for my father’s salvation. It was only 18 months before he died of his long illness that God allowed me to accompany him to cross where he was cleansed by Christ’s blood.

3) Thanks to God for answering my prayer to be with my father when he passed from this life. Five years ago this morning, I read Psalm 23 into my beloved father’s ears as his long ordeal concluded into glory.

4) Thanks to God for a frequent cause to long for the age to come. Next to seeing Jesus in his ascended glory, I most long to see my father in his resurrection splendor.

5) Thanks to God for many small but deep joys. Thanks for Phil Ryken and Carroll Wynne who stood in the back but close to my heart. Thanks for the satisfaction of seeing my father’s flag-draped caisson drawn with honor by the horsemen of his nation. Thanks for the exquisite joy of hearing “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (secretly picked by my father instead of the traditional martial music) as the Old Guard accompanied his body across Arlington Cemetery to his place of rest.

6) Thanks to God for the gift of his Son, who sanctifies holy tears and one day will wipe them all away.

CCA Report

Here is Linda Boice's weekly CCA report:

Thanksgiving comes at a good time of the fall for the school family. First marking period grades went home in mid-November. Then the Tuesday before the break the seniors prepared a Thanksgiving feast for the entire school family, complete with turkey, two kinds of potatoes, green vegetables and sweet desserts. Some of the Tenth Church staff joined the students and faculty for a festive celebration and remembrance of God's goodness to us. Well fortified, our basketball team went on that afternoon to win 49-45 against Grace Temple in a fiercely fought game played at a local gym. The turkey didn't slow them down!

Now we are back into the academic routine, teachers working hard to finish major units before three days of standardized testing in mid-December, and then the break for the Christmas holidays. Busy days, but our teens are working and learning and also having fun.


Communion will be observed in the morning this Sunday. Each day I will post paragraphs from the Westminster Confession about The Lord's Supper. Here are the first two:

1. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and blood, called the Lord's Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.

2. In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ's one, only sacrifice, the only propitiation for all the sins of His elect.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Day of Prayer

Our quarterly Day of Prayer is this Sunday. In September we had over 130 show up for the 9:00 and 11:00 hours. Let's keep moving up with the numbers. We had energy filled pray meetings the last time and expect them again. The Missions Committee is sending at least one missionary to join us. The committee is eager to build on the growing interest in corporate prayer that's occurred since the Missions Conference.

As George Murray made the point in his sermon on Matthew 9:35-38, God has given each of us gifts, but he has called all of us to the task of prayer for the kingdom. You can pray at home, just as you can worship at home. But members of the body of Christ, we all have the calling to encourage our brothers and sisters by praying with the body of Christ.

I will be leading the 9:00 prayer time in Fellowship Hall. Aaron Messner will lead the 11:00 period in the 315 Building, first floor rear. Come join us and the church elders in prayer.

Coffee Hour Training

Joanne McDade alerted me to the following training event. If you would like to participate, email her at

We are planning a training session for congregation members that have volunteered to assist with Coffee Hour. We will be meeting after the 11AM service on 12/11. We will be having lunch first and then a short 20-25 minute training session. Our ultimate goal in all this is to integrate people into the Body of Christ at Tenth and to provide some much needed assistance with things like Coffee Hour. Ministry is one of the best ways for people to participate in the community at the church. I'm very excited by the response I've gotten from those with whom I've spoken directly.

Christmas Postings

I want to post your Christmas stories - your traditions, special memories, etc. Email them to me - I'd like to post one or two a day until Christmas.

Get the Word Out

Faithful readers, I need you to get the word out about this blog. One couple missed a Sunday service because of not knowing about the marathon race; another person just discovered the Missions prayer sign-up board, unaware that there was a call for people to attend the missions prayer meetings.

The site is averaging about 130 hits a day, but that is misleading as many of the hits are by automated surfing systems. I should be getting more than 500 hits from Tenth attenders. Email your fellow attenders and get them hooked.

SPC Reports

If you go to the church website, you will find links on the first page to the reports presented to the church Session by the Strategic Planning Committee. The first is a 43 page summary report; the second is the full document (294 pages).

Congregational Meeting

The annual congregational meeting will be held this Friday, December 2, at 7:30 pm in the Sanctuary. A church-wide dessert will be provided at 6:00 in Fellowship Hall. It will include opportunity to also buy baked goods for Maranatha, as well as auctioning specialty desserts.

The meeting agenda includes:
1. Electing elders, deacons, deaconesses, and nominating committee members
2. Acting on the proposed 2006 proposed budgets
3. Receiving a presentation by the Strategic Planning Committee


Erna Goulding has sent me a number of "what kids' say" stories. I'll post a few now and then:

A little boy was attending his first wedding. After the service, his cousin asked him, "How many women can a man marry?" "Sixteen," the boy responded. His cousin was amazed that he had an answer so quickly. "How do you know that?" "Easy," the little boy said."All you have to do is add it up, like the Pastor said: 4 better, 4worse, 4 richer, 4 poorer."