Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Real Issue and the Only Solution

We have now witnessed yet another mass shooting in our nation with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on February 14, 2018. It wasn’t too long before that we heard the news of the 26 killed in the church in TX. It seems like more and more of these situations are occurring. In addition to these instances, several students in our area have experienced lockdowns of their schools due to threats being made. All of this has ignited a major debate as to what serves as the cause of such tragedies and what can be done to stop any more from occurring. Opinion after opinion is being offered up concerning these matters. Why is this a reality that we need to deal with today?

The Bible itself provides us with the answer. It ultimately isn’t guns, the current laws that we have or do not have, or even the family background these individuals come from (though of course the latter very well might factor in such). The issue actually goes much deeper. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. That every single one of us is born with a sinful wicked heart in rebellion to our Creator. As the prophet Jeremiah pointed out, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” We are told that when God looked down at people before the flood that He noticed “the intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). And that didn’t change with people after the flood either. The intent of man’s heart is still evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). Jesus Himself said that it wasn’t what goes into a person’s mouth that makes him or her unclean but what comes out of one’s mouth. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Included in his list of the characteristics of man’s sinful nature, Paul says, “their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17). Here we find the true reason for our society’s lack of value for life (and that includes for the tiniest of life in their mother’s womb to the elderly). Man’s wicked sinful rebellious heart.

This means that the solution to these issues cannot be found in stricter laws, the president, or a certain political party controlling Congress. None of these changes the heart. To focus all of our attention on these things hoping that they will make the greatest difference would be like giving cough drops to someone suffering with tuberculosis. It doesn’t address what’s causing the cough in the first place. (This isn’t saying that we shouldn’t of course support policies and politicians who promote and protect life. Just that we shouldn’t place all of our hope in such to bring about the change we ultimately desire to see.)

The best thing that we can do in regards to society’s ills is to focus on what God has called us to do as a church. Not to attempt to seek to change society through man-made means but to proclaim the gospel that God uses to change individual hearts to turn from their rebellion towards Him and to embrace His Son as their only Lord and Savior. The gospel is the true change agent, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Coupled along with the Holy Spirit’s work through it, it can transform someone deadset on destroying the church and killing it’s members to one of the greatest missionaries in the church’s history. That’s the apostle Paul’s story. If you are a Christian, you know this to be true because you can testify to the difference that Jesus continues to make in your life. How you are no longer what you once were before you had your life-changing encounter with Him.

The only hope for our society today is the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that He has accomplished. Our job, commissioned by Jesus Himself, is to tell others about that hope, not just in this society, but in all societies in the world, desiring to see individuals come to faith in Christ and have their lives transformed by His Holy Spirit. While we presently live in this temporal earthly kingdom, we ultimately want to see others become part of the much greater eternal heavenly kingdom. Let’s be careful not to get distracted but be steadfast with this task for the glory of our King. We know the solution. We just need to be sharing it more and praying that others will accept it.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Covering Our Shame

One thing that we all have experienced in some form or fashion in our lives is shame. Shame as a result either of something that we have done or maybe on account of something that has been done to us. This shame causes us to be fearful of what others may think of us and ultimately how God Himself may see us. Such shame can be paralyzing leading us not to form any close friendships or to constantly be worried about what will happen if our current friend discovers our hidden past. Will they still like us? Would that lead to their rejection? Should I even take such a risk? Shame can even keep us from going out of our house at times due to the fear that we will be exposed and humiliated. What can we do about such shame in our lives? How can we move past the feelings of shame that pretty much dominate and control us? This month, I want to explore the nature of shame with you as well as the good news that we have a God who covers our shame through His Son’s perfect sacrifice.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about shame. This really shouldn’t be surprising since it is such a major issue in our lives. We are told that originally with Adam and Eve that they were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). They had no reason to be fearful before God or one another. Neither one of them had done anything to be ashamed of. However, all of that changed when they both ate of the fruit of the tree God explicitly commanded them not to. Moses informs us that in the moment they disobeyed God that their eyes were opened and they were aware of the fact that they were naked (Genesis 3:7). Shame over their sin quickly set in. When God came to them, they went into hiding. They did not want to be seen by their holy God and face up to what they had done. To be exposed for the sinners that they now are. They probably felt dirty. Unclean. Humiliated. Yearning desperately to be covered.

And the couple did attempt to cover themselves up by making clothes out of fig leaves. But this obviously didn’t do the trick since they still hid from God. Their own efforts could not cover up their shame. How often do we likewise try to conceal our shame ourselves? Seeking to do as much good deeds as we possibly can, hoping that they may make up for the wrongs that we have done. Or devoting ourselves to religious service, again thinking that this might hide our shame from God and from others. But it never works, does it? The shame is still there. As much as you work to cover it, you continue to fear being exposed. You just can’t hide it. We are in need of someone else to cover us.

The good news is that we do indeed have Someone who can, and does for His children, cover the shame of sin. God didn’t leave Adam and Eve in their shameful condition. Instead, He comes to them and He covers their nakedness and shame with the skin of an animal that was innocent of their sins (Genesis 3:21). While they deserved to die on the spot on account of their sin, God killed the innocent animal in their place so that they could live and have the shame which resulted from their sin covered. This clearly is a picture of God’s putting to death His sinless Son in the place of repentant sinners. Where the penalty that they deserved on account of their sin was given to the Lord Jesus Christ instead, freeing them from a fear of punishment. Where God has declared the guilty innocent since He treated His innocent Son as guilty of their sins, freeing us from the need to feel ashamed before God. If you are in Christ, God no longer sees you for the sinner that you are but as righteous as His Son is. He has clothed you with His righteousness. It is like having the word “SINNER” stamped on your chest in big black bold letters but being given a pure white coat that says “THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST” and putting that on. Though the word “SINNER” can still be found on your chest, it is not seen by God because the coat with “THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST” covers it. The animal skins covering up the shame of Adam and Eve’s nakedness ultimately point us to Christ’s righteousness covering up our sin and shame.

We find another picture of God’s covering the believer’s shame in Zechariah 3:1-5 with Joshua the high priest. Satan is accusing him before God and the priest is clothed with filthy garments, probably representing his many sins that his life has been stained with. There more likely is a sense of shame for Joshua as he hears the devil pointing out his sin to the Lord while he stands there in his filthiness with nothing to say in his own defense. Yet we find the Angel of the Lord having his filthy garments removed and replacing them with rich clothes. God likewise removes the believer’s filthy sinful garments and replaces them with the righteous robes of His Son.

So when you struggle with shame over something that you have done, look to Christ to wash your dirty robes white with purity in His blood (Revelation 7:14). Find your covering in Him and what He has done rather than trying to cover yourself by what you do. Remind yourself continually that you have been covered by His blood and righteousness. There is no more reason to be ashamed.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Becoming Too Comfortable With An Uncomfortable God

I fear that we each, more often than not, have a far too comfortable view of God. We speak of Him so casually at times, like He is more of our best buddy than the very Creator and Lord of the universe. Our approach of Him lacks the reverence which He so much deserves. We treat corporate worship so routinely as if it is just something that we do rather than the very reason for which we were made and the awesome privilege of being in His holy presence with His holy people to proclaim His wonderful beautiful name.

When we look at God’s holy nature revealed to us in His Word, we do not find a God who we should be comfortable with. Who we can just carelessly approach or think that we can control. But One who should place us in constant amazement and in awe. Who should move us to continually exclaim, “Who is like this God? How marvelous He is.” Who very well may make us scratch our heads at times trying to figure Him out. A God who really cannot be figured out by our small human minds since He is so much unlike us.

After all, this is the God who told Moses to take off his sandals because due to His presence there, the man currently stood on holy ground, leading Moses to hide his face in fear to look at the apparition (Exodus 3:5-6). Who thundered with peals of lightning from the top of Mt. Sinai warning the Israelites not to get near Him (Exodus 19:16-25). The thrice holy God who caused the prophet Isaiah to shake far more than the thresholds of the temple when He appeared before him there. And when the prophet finally gains enough composure to speak, all he can utter is “Woe is me. I am undone!” and recognize his great sinfulness (Isaiah 6:1-5). Likewise Peter, after a miraculous catch of fish orchestrated by Jesus, falls down before Him and exclaims, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” being astonished at this with his companions (Luke 5:8-9). The disciples later actually wind up becoming more fearful of the One who calms the storm than they were of the storm itself, prompting them to ask, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:35-41). Even the soldiers who come to arrest Jesus find that they cannot stand in His holy presence when He utters the divine “I Am” (John 18:6). 

In light of all this, how can we treat such a God so casually? To not be wowed at Who He is every time we think of Him? He cannot in any sense of the word be considered “boring.” Not a God which we could ever tire of if we keep in mind Who He actually is. That in essence has to be our problem. We have forgotten His greatness and His might. We have grown too comfortable with an uncomfortable God.

This is not a God to be taken lightly. He did not take too kindly to Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offering up the type of fire they desired for the altar of incense in exchange for that which He commanded them (Leviticus 10:1-3). Who refused to let Moses enter the promised land on account of his disobedience (Numbers 20:10-13), struck down Uzzah for just touching the ark of the covenant which symbolized for the Israelites His holy presence (2 Samuel 6:5-7), ensured that Ananias and Sapphira’s lie to Him was their very last (Acts 5:1-11), and, in love, showing grace and mercy crushed His own Son for the salvation of the sins of those who place their trust only in Him (Isaiah 53). 

And yet how often do we think or act as if we can bend this God to agree with our wills rather than submit our will to His? To treat Him as some sort of cosmic bell hop who will deliver our every whim or wish. I cringe whenever I hear someone order Him to do something in Jesus’ name as if they control Him. (There is a difference between humbly asking something being resolved ultimately to accept His will whatever that may be and making demands upon Him as if He answers to us rather than us answering to Him.)

It is because we are so prone to forget God’s holiness leading us to think, speak, and approach Him so casually and imagine that we can control Him at times as to why I believe that it is so essential to be in the Word every day throughout this new year. Why once again we will be printing out a Bible reading plan that will take you from the first verse in Genesis all the way to the last line of Revelation in a year’s time. (Some of you may already be working your way through and if the plan we provide isn’t helpful for you, there are other plans out there. The main thing is that you are experiencing our great God through His inspired Word each day.) I do want to encourage you in your reading though to really pay attention to the God you encounter through it’s pages. You will probably be surprised at times. Astonished. Amazed at Who He is and what He has done. Let His holy character move and shape you. And may each of us take Him far more seriously and much less casually as a result.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee