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, September 2, 2018

The Importance of Having Children in the Worship Service


When I was preaching through Ephesians 5:22-6:4 on the family a few months ago, something really jumped out at me when I got to 6:1. I noticed that Paul addressed children specifically and directly in this section. Since these letters were originally intended to be read to the whole church gathered together for worship on a Sunday morning, he obviously expected the children to be sitting there with their parents as it is being read. He doesn’t say, “Parents, be sure to tell your children when you see them later that they are to obey you in the Lord.” No, he points the finger right at the children. He is hoping that their ears will perk up as they are listening to the letter being read. That they would have been listening to all of the letter up to this point. They would have been in the assembly with their families.

Today in several churches many people are quick to desire to drop their children off in some room and then come to worship without having to worry with them. They want the children to be “out of sight” and “out of mind” in the worship service. That’s sad really. We shouldn’t want to deprive children of the blessing of being a part of the worship service where they are exposed to the rich truths of the hymns that we sing. Where they can witness the adults worshiping. Where they can hear what God is saying to them from His Word during the sermon.

Now don’t get me wrong. The nursery and Jr. Church are good things and both have a place. For the littlest ones among us, sometimes they get fussy and need to be carried out into the nursery. That’s part of what it is there for. But the reason why we decided at Mt. Joy to only have Jr. Church twice a month is so that the children can benefit from being a part of the full worship service. I absolutely love what Al Mohler has said about the importance of having children in the worship service. “We should, in church, welcome the wiggling and the squirming. And we should hope that what is happening is that the Word of God is reaching those hearts in ways those children do not even recognize. They are speaking as children. They are thinking as children. They are reasoning as children. But the Word of God can reach where we cannot go.” 

            Yes, I know that when they are really little, they are not going to be able to understand it all. But that is not a reason to not bring them to be a part of the worship service. An infant doesn’t make sense of everything you say to them either. But you still speak real words to them because you know that they will grow to understand what you are saying. If God be merciful, they will grow eventually to not only understand the gospel truths that we sing and that are being proclaimed from the pulpit each week but to treasure them as well. And parents, if you are doing your job at home to teach them the Word and to model for your children what it looks like to follow Jesus, what they come to experience at worship on a Sunday morning will only reinforce that.

            One thing I have learned and am still learning is not to underestimate children. Many of you can attest to the fact that they can often appear as if they are not paying attention at all, their mind is elsewhere, maybe drawing a picture or looking at a book or something. But then later that day, they ask you a question about something that was said or they repeat words from the preacher. The Word very well may be getting to them. We should be happy to have those sitting among us whose feet do not touch the floor and pray that the Spirit impacts them through the Word of God which they may not be aware of until much later.

            One thing parents can do today to encourage their kids in worship is to communicate to them in both words and actions how important such a time is. If you tell your kids that they will not understand the preacher and that the worship service will be boring for them, it will turn out to be a self-defeating prophecy. They will more likely not come to see this time as special and significant for them. If all a child ever hears is that Chuck-E-Cheeses is the last place you would want to be and is no fun whatsoever, they are not going to want to go to Chuck-E-Cheeses. Likewise, if you tell them something similar about the worship service, don’t be surprised when they don’t want to go. (Of course, there will not be a natural desire for them to hear God’s Word and be a part of the service as that results from the new birth. You can’t change their heart but you can instill in them the significance of corporate worship.) Do they see an excitement and enjoyment in you to be with God’s people and to worship Him through the singing of songs, prayers, and attentiveness to the Word? Never forget moms and dads that your children are always watching. And they can tell whether you are being genuine or not. Let’s be sure not to neglect having them in worship each Sunday morning to help develop in them an understanding of the gospel and the transformative power of the Lord Jesus Christ in hopes that the Spirit might use that, along with your faithful instruction at home, to bring them to faith in Him.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Monday, July 30, 2018

God's Perfect Purposeful Timing


We are an impatient people living in a microwave society. Through the advancement of modern technology and drive-through fast food restaurants, we have become accustomed to receiving everything at our fingertips within a matter of minutes. All of that leads us to never wanting to wait for anything and always desiring immediate results. We want to have what we are praying for right now and not a minute later. We want to see something right away in response to our evangelistic efforts. We want quick spiritual progress in our own lives and in the lives of those we are ministering to. (I am talking to myself here now as well.) But God very often chooses not to operate on our own time table . . . and this is a good thing.

Throughout history, God has kept His people waiting. For Abraham and Sarah, it was 25 years before the child that God had promised them finally arrived. Job waited in the midst of the pain and poor counsel of his so-called friends to hear from the Lord. Joseph found himself waiting through the pit, Potiphar’s house, and prison before coming to the palace where the dream that God had given him finally became a reality (Genesis 37-42:9). Hannah had to wait in tears for a son (1 Samuel 1:1-20). The people of Israel waited 4,000 years for their promised Messiah to deliver His people. In more modern times, missionaries William Carey and Adoniram Judson waited while faithfully ministering respectively in India and Burma before each saw even one convert! Jesus Himself continually waited until His time had come to be glorified by giving His life as a ransom for many (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1). And numerous Scriptures call us to “wait upon the Lord.”

Now why is this hard task of waiting such a good thing? Because as Mary and Martha discovered when they waited for Jesus to arrive to heal their sick brother Lazarus, He always has a perfect purpose when He causes us to wait on Him (John 11). In that case, they thought that Jesus was four days late; waiting to come to them after Lazarus had already died. They knew that He could have easily healed him had He come sooner. But as the old Southern Gospel song rightfully put it, “When He’s four days late, He’s still on time.” Jesus had a greater purpose in keeping them waiting. That purpose was to glorify God in Himself being glorified (v. 4) in providing for them a visible demonstration of what it meant for Him to be “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Something that they would not have experienced had Jesus not waited and arrived those four days earlier when they thought that He should. They would have missed coming to a greater understanding of who Jesus is and seeing God’s glory on display.

God’s expressed purpose for His children is to make them more like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29 states, “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” One of the ways that God brings about this conformation is through the times of waiting He has for us to go through. When you may think that God is doing nothing in your life at the moment as you’re waiting on Him to do something, He actually may be using the waiting itself to change you. God often does some of His greatest work in our lives while we are in a waiting season or period. It is in such times that He stretches our faith and teaches us what it really means to trust Him and to rely on the promises that He has given us in His Word. In such times, He seeks to help us “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Keep in mind as well that one of the fruit of the Spirit is “patience” (Galatians 5:22-23). And all of the fruit of the Spirit are characteristics of Jesus. We are most like Jesus when we are patient with God’s timing and patient with others. How can such a fruit be produced in our lives unless we are put in a position where it can be developed? We learn patience the best when having to wait. We become more like Jesus through having to wait. Through our waiting, we experience the goodness of God to bring us to a point to look to Him in trusted anticipation of what He will do, not only in delivering in what we may be waiting for from Him but even more so in the time of waiting itself.

            So, don’t despair of the time of waiting you might find yourself in at the moment. Whatever you may be waiting on from the Lord. Instead, take a moment this minute to thank God for the work He is doing in your life right now through the waiting period. Even if you see no evidence of it. Ask Him to keep using it to make you more like Jesus.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Necessity of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself


I believe that one of our biggest problems as Christians is that we do not do enough preaching. Now, I don’t mean behind a pulpit every Sunday or even on the street corner throughout the week. And I’m not thinking here about preaching to your unsaved loved one or neighbor, though certainly you should be sharing the gospel with them whenever you are provided the opportunity. I am talking about personally preaching to ourselves every single day. Specifically preaching the gospel message to ourselves. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was right, “most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself” (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986; 20). Let me explain what I mean by this.

Every morning we wake up with thoughts going through our head. Perhaps they remind us of sins we committed yesterday; an ugly thought that we had, that unkind and hurtful word which we said to our spouse, the wrong way we responded to our children, or the jealousy we had for what someone else had been given instead of us. These thoughts condemn us wearing us down. We can either listen to these thoughts and allow them to defeat us or we can battle them by preaching to ourselves the truth of the gospel message. Telling ourselves that Jesus Christ died for all of those sins 2,000 years ago experiencing the punishment for them that we deserve and if we are united to Him through faith, God no longer sees those sins when He looks at us. We have been forgiven of all of them through the shed blood of our Savior. Nothing that we do can separate us from the love that He has for us in Christ (Romans 8:35-39). When our thoughts point out that we can’t do enough or will fall short of the next task, we need to preach to ourselves that Jesus did all that was necessary for us to be in a right standing before God and our acceptance before Him is not based on our imperfect deeds but Christ’s perfect righteousness. Also, we remind ourselves that we have His Holy Spirit dwelling inside us whom we can rely on to give us the ability to do whatever it is that He has called. Or the thoughts tell us some negative things about ourselves after looking in the mirror or being given the pink slip at our job. Preaching the gospel to ourselves is saying to ourselves that in light of that, our real identity is still found in being a chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven child of God in Christ (Ephesians 1). When we look at our circumstances and our thoughts conclude that God has abandoned us, preaching the gospel to ourselves is telling ourselves that God uses such times to strengthen our faith and to increase our trust in Him as we are made more aware of how good He is to us (Job 42:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; James 1:2-4). That He is forever for us and working all things for the good of our ultimate redemption (Romans 8:28-32). Preaching the gospel to ourselves is basically taking the truths of Scripture and telling them to ourselves to combat these thoughts in our minds.

This practice is exactly what the author of Psalm 42 does in battling his depression. As he goes through and recounts his longing to be back in God’s presence at the temple and the tears that he has been shedding day and night as well as the taunts of his enemies as to where his God is, he stops and begins to talk to himself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (v. 5). He encourages himself in the midst of the pain and woe that he needs to find his hope in God, not in anyone or anything else. That in God is found his salvation from whatever it is he may be experiencing. That God is still his God regardless of it all. We see that he ends the Psalm on the exact same note (v. 11). That is the method which he employed to pull himself out of the pit of despair and depression; preaching the gospel to himself. We would do well to follow his lead. 

It appears that Jeremiah also, in a sense, preached the gospel to himself in the midst of his lamenting over how bad things had gotten with the Babylonians ransacking of Jerusalem. Roughly halfway through the book of Lamentations, he states, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’ ” (3:21-24). He preaches to himself the character of God to bring him back to the hope that he has only in Him. A hope that he obviously was losing sight of in the thick of the circumstances he found himself in.

So the next time those thoughts come into your head, don’t listen to them. Preach the truth of the gospel to yourself instead. And keep preaching until you stop giving heed to such thoughts but embrace the truth. When the thought returns, then begin preaching again. Continue to preach the gospel to yourself everyday.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee