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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Real Celebration at CHRISTmas

CHRISTmas should be a great celebration for believers. After all, we are not celebrating the birthday of just anyone but of the greatest Someone who ever walked upon this earth, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. To help us have the proper perspective about how special Jesus is, consider this sampling of what Scripture says about Him:

He is the eternal Divine Word of Creation (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1-3), the seed of the woman who will defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15), the One slain to provide a covering for man's sins and guilt (Genesis 3:21), the ark of safety from God's wrath (Genesis 7-8), the descendant of Abraham in whom all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 22:18), the Angel/Messenger of Yahweh (Genesis 16:7-14; 18:1-33; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; 31:11-13; 32:24-32; Exodus 3:1-4:22; 23:20-33; Numbers 22:22-35; Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 6:11-26; 13:2-23; 2 Samuel 24:16; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 21:1-27; Isaiah 37:36; Zechariah 1:7-21), the Promised Child of a miraculous conception who brings laughter and rejoicing (Genesis 21:1-7), the only beloved Son sacrificed on the altar in place of the sinner who deserves it (Genesis 22), the One whose betrayal brings about salvation for His family (Genesis 37-50), the king from the tribe of Judah who brings peace (Genesis 49:10), the One who delivers His people from the bondage of sin (Exodus), the Lamb whose shed blood causes God's wrath to "pass over" His people (Exodus 12:1-13), the tabernacle of God's presence among us (Exodus 25-40; John 1:18), the sacrifice that atones for the sin of God's people (Leviticus), the High Priest who serves as the mediator between God and His people, the One lifted up who brings healing to those who look to Him (Numbers 21:6-20), the star of Jacob (Numbers 24:17), the Prophet like Moses from among the people (Deuteronomy 18:15), the One whose holy character is revealed in the law (Exodus 20; Leviticus, Deuteronomy), the ultimate anointed priest, the Leader of His people into the promised land (Joshua), the Captain of the LORD’s army (Joshua 6:15), the Judge who will deliver His people from their oppression (Judges), the Living Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth; Job 19), the ultimate anointed king after God's own heart (1 Samuel), the descendant of David who will forever rule on his throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16), the ultimate king of peace (1 King 1-11), the builder of the church (Nehemiah), the righteous sufferer who intercedes for his friends (Job), the Eternal Son of the Father (Psalm 2:5), the Deliverer (Psalm 14:7), the One forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1; 69:7-8), the One despised by men and mocked (Psalm 22:6-8), the One pierced for man's sins (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10), the One whose garments would be gambled over (Psalm 22:18), the Good Shepherd of God's people (Psalm 23; 100; John 10:11), the One who would overcome death (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53), the One who would be betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9), the One whose zeal for God's house would consume Him (Psalm 69:9), the One who would be given vinegar for His thirst (Psalm 69:21), the rejected cornerstone of the Church (Psalm 118:22), the personification of wisdom (Proverbs), the One without Whom everything else in life would be meaningless (Ecclesiastes), the Lover of the Church (Song of Songs), the Child born of a virgin being "Immanuel, God with us" (Isaiah 7:14), the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the King of the everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 9:7; Daniel), the shoot from Jesse who will bring peace (Isaiah 11:1-10), the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53), the First and the Last (Isaiah 41:4), the I Am (Isaiah 43:10), the Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20), the Branch of Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:15), the fourth man in the fire who delivered those thrown in (Daniel 3:24-25), the Son of Man with an everlasting rule (Daniel 7:13-14), the price paid to buy back God's adulterous bride (Hosea 3:1-5), the Son called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1), the salvation accomplished through a three day stay in the belly of the earth (Jonah), the Desire of All Nations (Haggai 2:7), the eternal One born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), the humble king who brings salvation (Zechariah 9:9), the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), the ultimate anointed prophet, the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1), a Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11), the Servant who gives His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), the obedient Son (John), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7), the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), the True Vine (John 15:1), the sender of the Spirit (John 15:26), the Holy One (Acts 3:14), the Second Adam whose obedience brings justification and life (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 45), the means of man’s reconciliation with God the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18), the One who “knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21), the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23), the One who “made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men . . . becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” who now has been exalted to receive the name above all names (Philippians 2:7-11), the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15), the agent of creation (Colossians 1:16), the head of the body, the Church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18), the reconciler (Colossians 1:20), the One mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:6), the great God and Savior (Titus 2:13), the greater revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2), the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), the One greater than angels (Hebrews 1:4-14), the One greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6), the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1), the guarantee of a better covenant (Hebrews 8:22), the final, true, and complete sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-18), the Pioneer and Perfecter of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2), the One foreknown before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20), the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), the Advocate for God’s children, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), our only Master and Lord (Jude 4), the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness (Revelation 3:14), the Lion of Judah, the Root of David (Revelation 5:5), the slain Lamb (Revelation 5:6), the Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11), the Almighty (Revelation 19:15), the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), the One who is coming again soon (Revelation 22:20) and so much more!
With all of this being the case, our CHRISTmas can’t be just any ordinary celebration but must be extraordinary. Who else deserves center stage other than this One revealed to us from Genesis through Revelation? May you reflect on and worship this Wonderful One this CHRISTmas season whom all the Bible points.

            Love in Christ,
            Pastor Lee

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Reformation Day!

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. ~Romans 3:28

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the work of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9

This doctrine [Justification by Faith] is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. ~Martin Luther

Wherever the knowledge of it [the doctrine of "Justification by Faith"] is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown. ~John Calvin

Tonight many will spend their evening "trick or treating," celebrating a so-called holiday called Halloween and not realize an event that transpired 499 years ago on this day that marked a major turning point in the history of the church. October 31, 1517 marks the day the German monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, an event most scholars identify as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. These "theses" called the authority of the Pope in matters of salvation into question and sought to expose how the "treats" of the indulgences that were sold were actually "tricks" with no real significance except for making the pope and those who sold them very wealthy. An indulgence was a letter the Catholic church sold that promised forgiveness of sin and an early release from purgatory (a place the Catholic church conceived of where one would stay after death but before heaven which length of stay was based on the number of sins one committed in their earthly life). Luther's posting of his theses on "All Hallow's Eve" was instrumental. The next day the church would celebrate "All Saints Day" so they would see these as they walked in. Luther's students actually took the list and made copies with the aid of the new printing press creating quite a stir. The first ripple of Reformation fervor had been struck and would gain in momentum as God enlisted others such as Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin to join the cause. Several current protestant denominations are products of God's work through them.

Many may question why such an event is a big deal. Why would a man complaining about certain teachings in the church be something to celebrate? People do this all the time. However, I think the celebration really is about God and how He used this man with his many, many, many flaws (he clearly had an anger problem and appeared to promote some wayward morals) to call His Church back to the truth. The Catholic church had repudiated the Bible's teachings on salvation by creating a synergistic economy of grace where man cooperated with God for his salvation. The selling of indulgences was a form of works-righteousness where the church taught that one could earn their salvation by paying a certain price for an indulgence. The sacraments became viewed as works that one must do in order to receive God's grace. In the Pope claiming the authority to grant the remission of sins based on a sale of an indulgence, he placed himself above both God's Word and Christ Himself. Many were blinded by such teaching (and some still are today) thinking that they could earn their own salvation.

The Reformers combated such views and practices. They claimed sola scriptura, that Scripture alone was the only authority for the believer. This led Luther to translate the Bible into German so people at the time could have a personal Bible and be able to study it on their own instead of relying on the false teachings of the priests who were the only ones who could own and read one. The Reformers called the people back to the truth taught in Scripture that one was justified (declared righteous in God's sight by God Himself) through their faith in Christ and not by any works that they could do. They rightly stated that salvation was by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (sola Christa) for the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria) as Scripture taught. Paul explicitly states For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a gracious gift given by God and received through the means of placing one's faith in Christ. The Lord used Luther as well as the other Reformers to call the church back to this truth, a truth foundational to the gospel.

Let's celebrate God using such men with their numerous flaws (much like we each have) to call the church back to the truth of His Word, especially with the central doctrine of "Justification by Faith," as well as pray that God would continue to raise people up with a passion for His Word and boldness for His truth to continue to reform His Church as to where He would have it to be.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Four Things That Will Not Change on November 9th

            Are you worried about the upcoming election? Anxious over what might happen if a certain candidate wins and takes office? Thinking that the world as we know it may just come to an end? The kind of changes that he or she will bring that might prove detrimental to our society. The type of future this will bring for our children. Certainly there will be changes when the next president takes office and not all of them necessarily good. But I think as Christians, we need to find comfort in those things that will not change on November 9th, the day after the election. To look beyond this tumultuous election season and what it promises to the much bigger and better picture. To find our hope and comfort there instead of in some corrupt politician.

            One thing that will not change after the election is that God will still be sovereign and on His throne. That has been true for all eternity and will remain so. His sovereignty does not depend on what the American people decide at the polls. No human can usurp His authority and reign. We all have tried in our own lives and we each have failed. I think back to the book of Daniel where God’s people are in a foreign land living under wicked rulers. (Hmm . . . Sound familiar? That’s exactly where we as Christians find ourselves now. Having our true citizenship in heaven with earthly rulers here below who are more concerned about themselves rather than honoring God.) In the case of each of those leaders, God reminded them that He called the shots and that He determines them to have such a position and how long they will be in it. “That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets it over the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17). He even brings the boastful arrogant pagan King Nebuchadnezzar to say that “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ ” (Daniel 4:35). I find great comfort in the truth of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” No need to lose sleep about what will happen following election day. God will still be reigning over whoever is president and we can rest in that!

            Another thing that will not change after the election is that we still have a greater eternal kingdom to which we belong. This is a kingdom that cannot be shaken by the events of earth (Hebrews 12:28). The policies of any president, no matter how awful, will not affect or damage that kingdom in any way, shape, or form. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue that represented four different kingdoms in history and a rock not of man that destroyed all of them. The rock being God’s kingdom that Jesus will consummate when He makes His grand return (Daniel 2:31-45). When, as John records, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). America, as well as every other kingdom in this world, will not last. It all will come to an end when Christ returns. As those who are part of this eternal kingdom because of Christ’s obedient life and sacrificial death, let’s make sure that our greater concern is found in preparing ourselves and others for that kingdom instead of this kingdom which WILL sink by the time that the better kingdom sails in.

            Also, Jesus will continue to build His church on November 9th and following as He has done up to this point (Matthew 16:18). The affairs of this earth will not hinder it. The future of the church does not hang in the balance with whatever the results of the election turn out to be. If Jesus can build His Church under a Herod and Emperor Nero who both tried to destroy the Church in their day, He can certainly do so under a President Trump or President Hillary, regardless of what they may do in an attempt to stop it. As Jesus said, “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

            And the results of November 9th will not change our mission. We will still be expected just as much to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). You see, we have a much greater mission than winning an election. We are to be about winning souls! People will still be just as lost and heading to hell after the votes have been cast as they are now. We are the ones that He has sent out to warn them and offer them the salvation that can only be found in Christ Jesus. Let’s be careful not to get so caught up promoting a certain candidate as if he or she is our only hope but instead spend more time promoting Jesus Christ as the true hope for a lost people.

The next time you find yourself upset or anxious about the results of this upcoming election, take a moment to reflect on these four truths. Whenever you look at the big picture, it helps put things into their proper perspective. Regardless of who will be our next president, God will remain sovereign, His kingdom will still be coming unshaken, Jesus will continue to build His Church, and we still have a mission to be faithful in. Take heart and, by His grace, continue to press forward for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Fighting Forgetfulness

I think that often a Christian’s problems come from one thing. Forgetfulness. Now, I’m not talking about forgetting where you placed your keys, an anniversary date, or the reason you walked into the room you are in. This forgetfulness is much worse and can have even greater consequences in your daily life. It is the forgetfulness of some important truths that we find taught to us in the Word of God.

            One of these truths concerns who we are. Basically forgetting our identity. That we are sinners in daily need of God’s rescuing grace. We cannot get through a day on our own in our strength and power. We are impotent. We are dependent. We are in need. When we forget this, we don’t see the necessity of prayer and spend far too little time on our knees. We fail to look to God for His all sufficient grace. Like Adam and Eve before us, we will buy into the lie that we can be self-sufficient like God (Genesis 3:5). And also like Adam and Eve, the results will be disastrous! We can never do one thing to add to our salvation but find the salvation we need already accomplished by the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, through His perfect sinless life and substitutionary death on the cross. The moment we are no longer mindful of that blessed truth, we will become so weary focusing on our many, many, many daily failures rather than resting in the grace that has been provided and holding that as our comfort.

            Another truth we have a tendency to forget is whose we are. That, as the Heidelberg Catechism so beautifully put it, “I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” This means that Christians do not have a right to live as they please. They are not in charge of their lives. Christ rules over them and His Words direct how they are to live and what they are to do with their bodies. What happens when we forget this? Well, it will result in some sin. Just look at the church in Corinth as an example. They thought that they could do whatever they wanted with their bodies so they gave themselves over to sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). Such is the very reason Paul wrote, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (vv. 19-20). How many sins would be avoided if we kept in mind more often that we have given up all the rights to ourselves to the One who purchased our lives through the blood that He shed on the cross?

            We also wind up forgetting where we live. How many times do we get shocked at the things that are occurring in our world? Finding ourselves gasping at the violence, deceit, or hatred that feeds the news cycle? Or confused when our lives are disrupted by an illness, job loss, death, or another major difficulty? Shouldn’t we actually expect such in a broken fallen world under the curse of sin? Things are not right in this world. They are not the way that they should be. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it” (Romans 8:20). The only reason we can experience anything going right in this world comes from God’s grace in sending His Son to redeem us from under the curse and in the promise of His return to restore this world back to where it was before the curse.

            And we continually forget where our home is. As worked up as we can get about our material possessions or about the election of the president of an earthly nation, you would think that this earth is our home. That we plan to be here for all eternity. The things of this temporary world appear to mean the most to us. We can never seem to have enough and always want something bigger and better. But, doesn’t Scripture tell us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20)? That we are not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth which will be destroyed but instead treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20)? Isn’t our example the Old Testament Patriarchs who saw themselves as “strangers and exiles on the earth” looking for a better heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13-16) instead of the rich fool who planned to build bigger barns to store his excess in order to, in a sense, “retire early” (Luke 12:13-21)? Our affluent extravagant lifestyles reveal to us just how much we have forgotten this truth.

            So, what is the remedy to this forgetfulness? To immerse ourselves in the Word of God and allow the Spirit to shape and mold us according to it’s truths; the very ones that we are so prone to forget. Popular author Randy Alcorn has said, “During the days when I neglect to spend time in God’s Word, I see a very real difference in my eternal perspective (and my lack of perspective).” We see a real difference with how much we are mindful of these truths in our thoughts and actions with how much we intake of God’s Word. Guard against the natural tendency to forget who you are, whose you are, where you live, and where your home is by reminding yourself of the truth through reading and studying the Bible.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee