Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Top Ten Countdown

Ed Young sent in this information:

"I was happy to see (below) in SermonAudio's weekly newsletter that Tenth was so prominently represented in the past week's top downloads (with Aaron's and Phil's sermons and the 'Reading Narnia ...' meeting all appearing in the top ten list). I thought it might be worth mentioning somewhere just to remind people of SermonAudio's resources."

Top Downloaded Sermons This Week: These were the top downloaded sermons by our listeners this past week. This includes cases where the sermon is either streamed or downloaded to the listener's computer.

God's Will About the Future. • C. H. Spurgeon 357 downloads
And You • Rev. Aaron Messner 243 downloads
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God • Jonathan Edwards 234 downloads
Five Steps to Genuine Revival • Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley 227 downloads
The Pink Plague – Homosexuality • Rev Ian Brown 218 downloads
Reading Narnia with C. S. Lewis: Leland Ryken • Dr. Leland Ryken 195 downloads
Billy Sunday Preaches Against Booze • Billy Sunday 192 downloads
None But Jesus -- 1 • C. H. Spurgeon 189 downloads
Godly Marriage 1: What God Wants Your Marriage to Be • Joe Morecraft III 176 downloads
Persisting in Prayer • Dr. Philip Ryken 174 downloads

Friday, December 09, 2005

TCU Party Tonight

Join us for an evening of food and fellowship to celebrate the holiday season!!
What: TCU Christmas Party
When: Friday, December 9, 6-9pm
Where: The Olsens' home, 1813 Christian Street
Details: We'll have our traditional White Elephant gift exchange, so please bring a wrapped gift (~$10 value).

By the Numbers

I found this site that gives religious data in the US.

Internship Request

A Covenant College student from Philadelphia is looking for an accounting internship of twelve weeks or more here. If you are with an accounting firm and would like to know more, please contact Marla Randolph, Internship Coordinator, at or 706.419.1164.

1978 Annual Report

Here is a selection from the 1978 Annual Report. I am from time to time posting selections through the years.

This exerpt from the Missions Commission report reveals a broader scope that fell under Missions:

Center City Survey: Neighborhood residents who attend Tenth Church wre surveyed for their perception of neighborhood needs, areas of potential ministry, and interest in attending or hosting home Bible studies.

Home Bible Studies: Encouragement for existing home Bible studies in center city resulted in growth, as well as the formation of several new ones.

Center City Dinner: Periodic neighborhood residents' fellowship dinners were organized.

Film Series: The development of the Christian Approach to Cinema Program, directed by Ken and Katie Myers, was initiated in 1978.

Respectfully submitted,
John E. Snyder,
Chairman, Missions Commission

Philip J. Barackman
Vice-Chairman for Neighborhood Outreach

Bird's Eye View

Click here for a cool picture of Tenth from the sky, sent in by John Voorhis.

The Christmas Pageant

Susan Russo sent this Christmas memory in:

One of my earliest Christmas memories is from when my parents and I attended a small Baptist church in Long Island, New York. Every year, the church had a Christmas pageant. The pageant began the telling of Christmas Story with the Garden of Eden and ended with the resurrection-
displaying the true meaning of Christmas. My family was always involved in the production. When I was five, I played the part of a shepherd. When I was six, I was promoted to an Angel and got to sing "Angels we have heard on high" with the other six-year-olds. I had poster- board wings and a garland head-piece. My parents took the parts of Adam and Eve one year. Since true-to-life costumes would be inappropriate, they wore white choir robes before the fall and the pastor's black robes after. I didn't realize until a few years later that Adam and Eve were actually naked in the Garden!

Limitations and Values

That is the subject of the Jars of Clay newsletter, which is produced by Lois Denier as part of Grace ministry. This newsletter tackles issues that pertain to those coping with disability and chronic illness. It is a very helpful resource not only for those who have disability, but for those who care for them. Indeed, it is helpful to all of us in the church for understanding the issues that our brothers and sisters face in daily life and in the church. You can find the issue and back issues on the church website by clicking "Ministries," then "Grace" or just click here.

Membership Class

The Membership Class will be held at the 11:00 hour this quarter over in the 315 Building. I know, by the way, that there are a number of people who cannot make either of the morning times for the class. If this applies to you, email Christina Corbett at Once we hear from a few people, we will work up an alternate route to meet your circumstances.


The church library had declared December to be "Inklings Month." The Duggans and Garvers are featuring works by and about the creator of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, and his literary friends, Charles Williams and J.R.R. Tolkien. Informative displays will be on view all month. The library is located in the Catacombs, Room 4 and open from 10:30-10:55.

Here We Come a Caroling...

Caroling tonight at 7:00. Meet at the church; we'll carol throughout center city and then return for warm drinks.

Sidewalk Snow

I made it in to the church without too much difficulty. I take a shuttle bus from my place to 17th and Market, then walk. The sidewalks were navigatible; I just had to walk carefully until...until I came to the church's sidewalk and found it almost completely cleaned of snow! At the far end was Jonathan McCarthy running the snowblower, accompanied by a volunteer, Alex, who was clearing off a corner.

Which leads to this notice: We are looking for more snow shoveling volunteers for heavier snowfalls, especially for Sunday mornings. If you would like to volunteer your strong back, email Jonathan at

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Blood Drive Report

Janice Roberts, who directed Tuesday's blood drive sent this report to Cora:

The Red Cross is very pleased with the results...Officially we collected 56 productive pints of blood on a goal of 60. Red Cross says this time of year is really tough because people have so many commitments.

I was especially pleased that many neighborhood people came in. One girl was approached on the street and she said she might be back but was "apt hunting." I wished her well, told her a little bit about the church and she returned later to donate! She said she wanted to find an apt in the neighborhood so she could attend our Church! She had never heard of us before.

This and other contacts make the whole thing worthwhile in the end. The trainer at the gym came back and donated this time. We made him feel VERY welcome! Also my dentist came and was impressed by the warm welcome. He had never donated before!

Jay Hood, George Burkert, and Ed Mutzer did a fine job at the refreshment table. I believe George is the most popular person at the drive. Even the Red Cross wanted to know "if George would be there!" I also give hearty thanks to Danya Kellberg who is a saint at the reception table. Tom Witmer got the posters hung in the neighborhood. We should also thank the faithful in the congregation who donated, especially those that had to travel to do so. We couldn't do this without them.

The Church staff presents a fine example by being so faithful in this work. By donating and by being so enthusiastic you all really make a difference! Many thanks all around and to you, Cora, for your fine support. I couldn't do it without you!

Turn Your Radio On

I'm not sure of the best way to do this, but we should be announcing that our Christmas Eve service will be broadcast live on WFIL.

I know one way! WFIL is 560 AM. Phil is referring to the 7:30 service. You will also be able to listen live online through the webcast. The radio version will include a 15 minute interview with Phil before the service. Tobias plans to air the 4:30 service as well. The 7:30 service will be posted for later hearing also.

Dot on Tour (with added note)

Dot Boersma sent me this notice:

I’m giving City Hall tours Saturday, December 10, at 2pm and 6pm (along with another guide in both cases). They are fairly brief (a half hour to an hour) exterior tours that describe the architecture and sculpture on the building. The evening tour will be an opportunity to see the fantastic new colored lighting that focuses the sculptural elements and other architectural details.

Note: You can meet the guides near the portal on the west side of City Hall--you don't need to let Dot know in advance.

Narnia on the Web

John Voorhis has the Ryken Narnia presentation set up on the webcast. Click here to go directly. You can also get to it through Tenth's website. Click "Resources," then "Special Webcasts." You will find it just above another excellent presentation entitled "Speaking the Truth in Love."

Note: We, alas, could not include Bryan Glass's dramatic presentation due to music copyright issues (music was used for the background).

Christmas Caroling

The annual Christmas caroling in Center City is tomorrow night beginning at 7:00. Meet at the church. Aaron Messner is leading the event, hopefully using someone else to set the key!

Prices Slashed!

Don't forget the slashed prices for Tenth materials available in the bookstore:

Tenth DVD - $15
Tenth Ministers' CD - $5 (sermons by Barnhouse, Di Ganzi, Boice, and Ryken
Boice Booklet - $3
Tenth History - $5

Christmas with the Blairs

I am a former member of Tenth Church, and one of my warmest memories of Christmas past was with Tenth missionaries Howard and Phebe Blair in their wonderful home in Higashi-Kurume, just a short train ride on the Seibu-Ikebukero Line from Tokyo. I had spent a couple of months there as a Tenth summer missionary and then returned to spend Christmas with them for several years thereafter. Early on Christmas morning, Phebe arose to make sure that the kerosene heaters downstairs were functioning because there was no central heating to scare away the night time chill. We came downstairs for Christmas breakfast, sang a few carols accompanied by Howard on the piano, and exchanged a few gifts around the glittering Christmas tree. All during the day, friends from Kurume Christ Church dropped by for an open house even though Christmas Day is not a holiday from work for Japanese Christians. Phebe is especially gifted at welcoming guests and making everyone feel at home. We shared testimonies about what made Christmas special for us. One of the young Japanese men said that even though he had been a Christian for several years, he was still amazed that Christ had come to earth just for him. We sang carols—I still know all the words to “Silent Night” in Japanese--shared stories, and enjoyed warm fellowship. In the evening, Phebe produced a giant roast turkey which she had purchased at an American air force base. Since Japanese turkeys are raised on fish and taste a bit like fish, this turkey was a splendid delicacy for those of us with Western tastes. The grand Christmas feast was a fitting end to a day filled with festivity and shared joy at the Savior’s birth.

Scott R. Kelly

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TV Anyone?

We received four tickets in the mail to attend "Television Preview" Saturday night, December 10, at 7:30, at the Doubletree Philadelphia Northeast, 9461 Roosevelt Blvd. Television Preview presents screenings of pre-recorded 1/2 hour television segments (including programs and commercials) to groups of people across the country. The groups evaluate what they see, and Television Preview tabulates andanalyzes these evaluations. Then they pass them along to the people who decisde whether the material will be televised.

So reads the letter sent. If you want the tickets, email me (don't use the comments section). First emailers receive the tickets, but you must be able to pick them up.

Another Encouraging Word

This was emailed to me this week:

I was raised Catholic and even spent some time at the local seminary. Finding myself not suited to celibacy I left and spent some years of religious wandering. During my wandering I would listen to the Bible Study Hour and Dr. Boice.... I was finally led to a church in Philadelphia where I finally accepted Jesus as my personal savior. After awhile I began looking for more. I began reading some of Dr Boice's books as well as Richard Philips and R.C. Sproul...I wanted a church where the Gospel was preached without compromise and where worship was reverent and there was adult education offered. I found all this at Tenth.

My wife and I really like Dr. Ryken's preaching, and we look forward to attending the adult study on the history of Presbyterianism this coming Sunday. I hope that the next time the new members class is offered I will be in that class. You have a real "gem" in Tenth and I consider myself lucky to have found it. I also want to say that I really enjoy your blog so I hope you continue it.

Speak Up!

Cheryl Brubaker alerted me to this article. Muslim and Hindu clerics are telling the Scottish church to quit being wimpy about the Christian faith. Click here.

Not Open

The Inquirer has an article on megachurches closing for Christmas Day this year. Check it out by clicking here.

Rising Hits

Wow! Last week I asked you to get the word out about this blogsite. The results are in: readership rose from an average of 130s to 182! Usually Saturday and Sunday are low reading days, but even they were 118 and 116 respectively. The weekday average hits is 207. Thanks for the great response.


Traditional Christmas Cake (Susan Fletcher says, "This cake will change your view of fruitcake forever.")

Oven temperature: slow (275 degrees); Cooking time: 2 ¼-2 ½ hours
250 g (8 oz) seedless raisins, 375 g (12 oz) sultanas, 250 g (8 oz) mixed glace fruit, 250 g (8 oz) preserved ginger, 2 small cans chow chow preserves* or 500 g (1 lb.) melon and ginger jam, 125 g (4 oz) mixed peel (not being a fan of this, I eliminate and increase the amount of raisins, sultanas,and mixed glace fruit), 250 g (8 oz) raw cashews or blanched almonds, ¼ cup brandy,
375 g (12 oz) butter, 500 g ( l lb.) caster sugar, 12 eggs, 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind, 1 ½ ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¾ teaspoon ground cloves, 2 tablespoons vanilla essence, 1 tablespoon almond essence, 2 teaspoons rose essence, 1 tablespoon honey, 250 g (8 oz) fine semolina, 6 egg whites, almond paste

Line a 25 cm (10 inch) round or square cake tin with three thicknesses each of newspaper and brown paper, then two layers of greaseproof paper liberally brushed with melted butter. Chop raisins and sultanas. Cut glace fruit into small pieces (use a mixture of pineapple, apricot, and quince—avoid figs). Drain syrup from preserved ginger and chow chow preserves and chop finely. Chop mixed peel. Cut cherries in halves. Chop nuts very finely or put through a nut mill. Combine fruits and nuts in large bowl, sprinkle with brandy, cover and leave while mixing cake. This can be done the day before, allowing the fruit more time to soak in the brandy.

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add yolks of eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add grated rind, spices, flavorings and honey and mix well. Add semolina and bet until well combined, then mix in fruit. Use biggest bowl or pan you have and mix in fruit with both hands (it’s much easier than a spoon and professional pastry cooks do it this way). When fruit is thoroughly mixed in, whip egg whites until stiff and fold through mixture.

Turn into prepared cake tin and bake in slow overn for 2 ¼-2 ½ hours, covering cake with paper after first hour to prevent over browning. The result will be very rich and moist. If you prefer a darker and drier result, bake for 4 ½-5 hours. It will not be dry, but certainly firmer than if you use shorter baking time.

Cool completely, preferably overnight, then remove paper and wrap cake in foil. A tablespoon or two of brandy may be sprinkled over cake after it is cold**, just before wrapping. If liked, ice with almond paste and fondant icing. Cut in small pieces and wrap in foil and colored cellophane. This cake can be kept in an airtight tin for a year or longer.

Note: Chow chow preserves can be purchased at Chinese groceries or specialty food stores. The nearest equivalent is melon and ginger jam.

* This is not the same kind of Chow chow the Pennsylvania Dutch make.
** This cake is best made no later than Thanksgiving. Also, I have found that sprinkling bourbon over the cake weekly until Christmas is a wonderful addition to the recipe. This requires wrapping it in cheese cloth and then foil.

Partying Staff

We had a great party yesterday and fun exchanging gifts through a Yankee Swap. (Only Yankees would think of something so strange.) The two hottest prizes were a large red "Easy" button. When you press it, it says "That's easy." The other was a small basketball basket to hang on the door or over a trash basket and played sports cheers. Cheryl James got the basket, even with Phil, Aaron, and Jonathan unashamedly vying for it. I can't remember who ended up with the button. But if you go for counseling, don't be surprised to hear, "That's easy!"

Frankly Speaking

No matter how I walk to work, Frank Harder catches me. This is the second day in a row, taking different routes. And he gave me an assignment! I suppose I better follow through.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ministry Opportunity

Schola Cantorum has a ministry opportunity! We need one or two more helpers for our 315 sign-in table on Sunday evenings. A helper checks off the names of children as they arrive from 5:50 to 6:10, then mans the desk until 7:40. Occasionally, the helper might need to make runs across the street to the main building, or do other odd jobs. This is an ideal job for someone who would like more time to quietly study or pray on a Sunday evening while serving the church. If you are interested, please contact Susan Russo at

Prayer Request

Please post a prayer request for me on your blog in the next day or two. I will be speaking at a Reformation Pastors meeting and luncheon in Danbury, Connecticut, on Thursday, and then speaking that night at a Reformation Meeting in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Journey of the Magi

I insisted that Susan Fletcher send me in something for Christmas. Here is one of two entries: "Here is one of my favorite poems by T.S. Eliot, 'Journey of the Magi.' There’s nothing quite as wonderful as an author capturing and giving voice to a thought, experience, or emotion that we have had. We find ourselves delighting in knowing that we are known, that there is a kindred spirit out there. That’s Eliot’s effect on me. While not a typical Christmas poem, it does force the reader to deeply contemplate our Lord’s incarnation. and to also consider what Dr. Ryken spoke a bit about on Sunday morning, that we are living in 'the already/not yet.'

“Journey of the Magi”
T.S. Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey;
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter,’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters
And the cities hostile and the town unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation,
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky.
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


Schedule time to take the Strategic Planning Survey. Responses are due January 1. You find the surveys posted at the church website. You can either fill out the survey online or download the survey, fill it out on the computer, and then email back. I did the latter. I discovered the trick that if I double click my answer, a screen will pop up allowing me to fill in a check mark. Give yourself an hour or more to complete the survey. That's why I downloaded mine. You particularly need to read the "Report to Session" document first, so as to have a feel for the context of these questions. You may also use the larger document to review as well. It includes all the reports submitted. Most of the questions asked about staff positions come directly from those reports. I'm told there is a way to do a word search, but I don't know how. You techs guys send some tips.

In danger of getting lost in the Strategic Planning process is the Talent Survey. We had a good start with responses, but now has pretty much died out, with a little over 100 responses. That survey is also on the church website. Right now, it can only be printed out. We'll see if we can format it to be filled out online as well.

Tenth Site News

Dot's got all your questions about holiday events answered at the Tenth Church site. (Click the link on the right.) She's posted all the church Christmas events with times, as well as New Year's info.

Staff Party

The church staff is having a Christmas party today from 12:00-2:00. Cora is cooking a turkey as I write this. Then we are heading down to Reception Hall and giving blood. Today is the Blood Drive. If you didn't sign up, come anyhow. It runs from 12:00-6:00.

Advent Devotions

Beginning tomorrow, the daily devotions will feature Advent meditations through December 23.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The 12 Days of Christmas

This Christmas memory was sent in by Sylvia Duggan. I've run out of contributions. Please send me your Christmas memory to share!

I grew up in an Episcopal Church of which my father was the pastor. The tradition for the children's service at Christmas involved a lovely crèche set that the church owned. As children arrived the various pieces of the set were handed out to different children. Then when story of the Nativity was read during the service each child brought up and placed their piece of
the set on a small table in a corner at the front of the church. The wise men were set on a window ledge at the back of the church and were moved up over the next 12 days to arrive on the Feast of Epiphany (January 6).

Job Opening

There is an opening at my company...we are in a hurry to fill it:

It's a Fortune 25 company headquartered in Valley Forge, the position coordinates activities for four pharmacy-based programs for a network of about 5,000 pharmacies and support for the development of 2 additional programs. It includes basic reporting and administrative activities, along with some introductory marketing and creative work. An excellent opportunity for someone who is looking to work in the pharmaceutical industry. Good for recent college graduates, or those with 3-5 years of marketing experience.

Interested parties can apply through the monster posting and should also e-mail me at


Ryia Miller
Manager, Patient Care Programs
AmerisourceBergen Corporate Office

Pulling the Plug

My sister Jean sent this to me:

Keith & Kendra were sitting in the living room and he said to her, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." Kendra got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of his beer.

Spreading the Word

We need to be spreading the word about the New Year's Eve service and inviting people to give testimonies.

I'll do what I can.

Spread the word! The service starts at 9:00. You know the system. People get up and tell what God has done for them in the past year. If you want to spend New Year's Eve feeling great, then there is no better place to be. We close the year and open the new year with a communion service starting at 11:30 and ending at midnight.

Touring with Phil

I just got Phil's speaking schedule. Here are some of the places where he will be speaking in the coming months:

Connecticut Reformation Society (Fairfield, CT)—12/8

Tenth Church—Charles Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop—2/1-3

Village 7 PCA (Colorado Springs)—Sunday AM Services—2/12

Atlanta, GA—Pres-Wic National Conference—3/9-10

Covenant College (Lookout Mountain, GA)—Chapel addresses and seminars on marriage with Mrs. Ryken—4/3-4

I assume that last presentation is something he is giving with Lisa, as opposed to giving a seminar about being married to her!

An Encouraging Word

I've posted below my discouragement about the church. Here is an email that came in this morning which expresses why my encouragement about the church is so much greater. Since

To the Tenth community and leaders,
... I am a sophomore at University of the Sciences in West Philly. Thank you for providing a strong and solid church where I can significantly learn and grow; in the simplest terms: Thank you for doing what you do, and thank you for doing it so well. I lead Young Life, a ministry to high school kids, in Upper Darby and I know how nice it is to get a word of encouragement on occasion. I thought that you guys might like it too.
I was raised as a Catholic and as I got older and began reading the Bible for myself, I found a few things with the Church that I did not find to be completely Biblical; however, I wasn't too charismatic so I didn't enjoy the non denominational churchs that my Christian friends attend. I enjoy tradition and hymns because those were the things that I have always associated with Church. I am very thankful that when I came to Philadelphia I was lead to your church: a church deeply rooted in the Bible with a strong history to give it structure. It has been a blessing for me to be able to worship with you.

Congregational Meeting Called

A congregational meeting has been called for Sunday, December 18, following the 11:00 worship service. The purpose is to elect elders, deacons, deaconesses, and members of the Nominating Committee, and to adopt the church budgets. We need a quorum of 230 members.

The meeting should be short - 10-15 minutes, as we have already had full presentation and discussion of the nominees and the budgets. The purpose, again, is to vote. Without a vote, we cannot install our new officers. It is within the bounds of our Book of Church Order for the Session to adopt the budgets without congregational action, though Tenth Church has always chosen to have congregational input. But again, the officers cannot be installed without the vote.

Please attend the meeting on the 18th. It is critical for the life of the church to elect our officers.

Off My Chest

My comments on failing to reach a quorum for the congregational meeting:

We needed 230 members; we got 180 at Friday night's meeting, thus keeping us from electing officers and adopting the budget. The irony hits me that one of the reasons cited for not attending is that attenders cannot have a real impact on changing decisions. Nonattenders certainly can make an impact. By not attending, they stripped attenders of any power. The attenders could not vote. By not attending nonattenders have kept worthy men and women from being elected to serve the church. And by not attending, they have forced yet another congregational meeting on the Sunday before Christmas, certainly leaving in doubt if we will have a quorum then as well.

I know that many could not attend because of illness, being out of town, etc. There are valid reasons for many not being able to come. But I also know that many more did not show up because of being disinterested. It is human nature. If I do not perceive an activity to be interesting enough for me, I typically will not attend.

We will consider ways to address the problem of attendance - change times, provide food, make the meetings more entertaining, advertise better. And all the comments posted on this site have been helpful in thinking through what to do. Clearly, we need to make changes. Still, it is discouraging to realize that one's church is no different from the secular population when it comes to carrying out one's duty to vote and support the government of the church. Unless we go through greater measures to make voting more convenient, even the minimal number of voters will not show up.