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.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Grace in the Family Tree of Jesus


             Have you ever taken the time to explore Jesus’ family tree? To go through the list of his relatives that Matthew puts together for us in the opening chapter of his Gospel? It’s actually a very fascinating study full of several interesting characters and quite a few surprising ones as well. And it reveals for us one of the greatest pictures of God’s grace.


            One of the most surprising things for us to see in this genealogy is the mention of the names of five women. Now, we have to realize that it was very unusual for a woman to be named in any genealogy at this time due to the focus always being on the man who would carry on the family name to the next generation. And not only is the fact that these women can be found in this list surprising but the specific women that he chooses to include are even more so. After all, these weren’t ones with the most squeaky clean reputations. Every Jew who first read through this genealogy would have recognized their names but not necessarily for the best of reasons. They have been said to be “among the most notorious women in biblical history.” Four of them were outsiders and could be described as shady ladies with sinister sins and provocative pasts.


            The first of these ladies that we discover in this list is Tamar (Matthew 1:3). We read about her back in Genesis 38. She was the one who dressed up as a prostitute in order to sleep with her father-in-law, Judah. He had promised her his third son in marriage but after losing the previous two that he had given her, never followed through on that promise. Her one night with her father-in-law resulted in the conception and birth of twins. One of which became the next chain in the line of the Messiah. Not only was a woman who was involved in a scandal of deceit chosen to become a part of Jesus’ family tree but that scandal itself was used as the means to bring about the succeeding branch of that tree! 


            The next of these shady ladies that we come to didn’t play a prostitute on one occasion but rather was one by profession. In fact, many of the times that she is referenced in Scripture she is known as the harlot. Even where her faith is commended and held up as an example, we are reminded of her former shameful career (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25) I’m talking here about Rahab (v. 5). The Canaanite woman who hid the Israelite spies in Jericho and whose life was graciously spared on account of it. (See Joshua 2 for more of the story.) Who would have ever thought that a foreign prostitute could be engrafted into the sinless Savior’s family tree?


Immediately following Rahab is Ruth, who married Rahab’s son, Boaz (v. 5). Unlike the previous two shady ladies on this list, Ruth doesn’t have any direct sexual scandals that she was involved in but her people certainly did. Ruth was a Moabitess. Another outsider. The nation of Moab originated from the child produced by the act of incest between Lot and his daughter when the latter got the former drunk so that she could sleep with him and bear children (Genesis 19:30-38). This group of people were not allowed to join the Israelites in worshiping the Lord for a number of years (Deuteronomy 23:3). And before committing to go where her mother-in-law Naomi goes and to worship her God, Ruth would have worshiped the false gods of the Moabites. But even with such a provocative past, God had her marry one of Naomi’s sons and then after his death, to remain loyal to her, and find her kinsman Redeemer, Boaz, who in turn would give her a son named Obed, the grandfather of King David and forefather of the Messiah. 


The fourth woman that we come to in this list isn’t even named but is simply referred to as “the wife of Uriah” (v. 6). A subtle reminder of the fact that Bathsheba did not originally belong to King David but to his servant Uriah instead. Yet, after noticing her bathing on her rooftop, the King had her brought to him and following his affair with her resulting in a pregnancy, eventually had Uriah killed (2 Samuel 11). This has gotten Bathsheba forever associated with David’s adultery and murder. Amazingly, God used what began as an unholy union to continue His plan for the Messiah to be a descendant of kings.


Now, what are these shady ladies with such sinister sins and provocative pasts doing in the family history of the King of kings and Lord of lords? Why would God ever choose such to be included in the lineage of His sinless Son and why would Matthew go out of his way to highlight them for us? Would it not be to show us the very kind of people that Christ came to save? Outsiders who originally are not a part of His people. Shady sinners with provocative pasts. All to point out to us that God extends His grace to even the vilest of sinners and to the worst of outcasts. Which is good news since many of us could fit in such categories ourselves. Let’s be sure that this Christmas we celebrate God’s grace. The grace that is shown to those like these four ladies. The grace that has been shown to us.


Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Four Things That Will Not Change on November 4th

            Do you find yourself 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 if he gets elected? Concerned over how his election might prove detrimental to our society? The type of future this may bring for our children? Every election carries with it the possibility of change and those changes are not necessarily for the better. But I think as Christians, we need to find comfort in those things that will NOT change on November 4th, the day after the election, regardless of who winds up coming out on top. 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 any human politician, who inevitably will let us down regardless of what they promise to do for us.                 

            One thing that will not change after the election is that God will still be just as 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 good or 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. That 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. They will only be a footnote in history. 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 4th 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 four more years of a President Trump or a President Biden, regardless of what they may do in any attempt to stop it. As Jesus said, the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

            And the results of November 4th 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 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. Certainly vote for the man whom you believe best for the future of our nation, who will both best protect life and promote justice but then leave the results in God’s hands, continuing to be busy with His kingdom work.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Precious Promise or a Sober Warning

            One of the most well-known and beloved proverbs in the Bible would probably have to be that of Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (ESV). Many a parent has held to this verse as a precious promise that if they do their job right in raising their children that they then have no need to fear them ever going astray from what they were taught. However, a number of parents can also testify to them seeking to do their very best at this training to have the heartbreak of watching their son or daughter walk away from it, leaving it all behind. In such a case, what went wrong? How could the child grow up to depart from it when it says here that they will not? I think part of the problem lies in us having the wrong view of what this verse actually is saying. In fact, the more that I study it, the more I am convinced that rather than being a precious promise for parents to hold fast to, it instead serves as a sober warning of what can happen if we prove negligent in our duty to discipline our children. 

            The misunderstanding of this verse begins with a mistranslation of the Hebrew that it was originally written in. The phrase should go is absent in the Hebrew. Literally, it reads, Train a child according to his way, even when he grows old, he will not turn aside from it. The training spoken of here then is not according to the way that the child ought to go but rather to his way. Furthermore, the word for “train” actually means to “start” or “begin.” (You will notice that the NIV captures this with their translation.) If you start a child out according to his own way, then you can expect him never to depart from it when he grows up. This changes everything, doesn’t it? What we have here is no encouragement as to what we are to do with our kids but what we must be careful not to do with them.

            Now, why is it that hardly any English translation actually carries this meaning? We don’t know for sure but it may have something to do with the fact that the King James Version added the should go, perhaps giving their interpretation of the according to his way, and it has become so familiar of a translation that other modern versions have been hesitant to veer from translating it any other way. In fact, it is hard to find a translation that doesn’t include these two words or some variation of them. (The New American Standard Bible, NASB, at least contains a footnote to indicate the literal translation of it.) However, one of the newest of the English translations currently available, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), does provide the closest reading of the text that I have found. It translates it as follows: Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.

          So, what does it mean for a parent to start a youth out on his way? What kind of way is it? According to the book of Proverbs, there is only two ways in which you can walk; the way of wisdom or the way of foolishness. The author seems to imply that the way of foolishness is the natural way for us to walk. He tells us that the way that appears right to a man has at its end the way of death (14:12; 16:25) and that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, which is why discipline is necessary to remove it from him (22:15). This would mean that the way that the child would want to go would be the way of foolishness. And to allow him to go his way without any correction would be enable him to get to the place where he will not, apart from the supernatural work of God, depart from such foolishness. 

            When it comes to child rearing, the emphasis throughout the book of Proverbs is on discipline. We see this with every other proverb that addresses the issue (13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:17). In light of that, we should realize that this proverb isn’t an exception. It also deals with the issue of discipline. In this case, what happens should the parent fail to discipline their son or daughter. Should they do so, their children will get to the point where the parents will not be able to do anything with him or her. The child will become so ingrained in their foolish disobedience that there is no way to break them of it.

And is this not what we are witnessing today? A generation of those who, by and at large, have not been disciplined and taught to go the way of wisdom, but rather who had parents who basically let them do whatever they wanted, allowing them to call the shots. Such has resulted in them desiring to have their way and not being able to be bridled. How many of a parent has wound up with a teenager who they can do nothing with who they failed to discipline at a young age? We see this warning left unheeded played out again and again. 

For those of us with children still in our home, let’s be careful not to cave into their demands and allow them to get their way but to discipline them as God has prescribed, in hopes that their foolish bent will be curbed and they will learn to walk wisely. Of course, as with everything that God has called us to, this is not something that we can do on our own effectively without Him. We must rely on Him and seek to be faithful. Remember that “discipline” is related to “discipling.”

Love in Christ,

Pastor Lee

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Regarding Racism

            The recent horrific unjustifiable killing of Mr. George Floyd has erupted quite a discussion over the state of racism and race relations currently in our country. Now, to be fair, we do not know whether his murder was racially motivated or not. Just that it was a “white” cop who had his knee on the neck of a “black” man. (I personally have not read of any evidence that indicates that it was and it would be wrong of any of us to assume motive without knowing such.) Regardless though, it has got us focused on this issue with the many responses that we witness in light of it, from the protests and rioting to talk of defunding the police and the removal of anything that could be perceived to have some connection with slavery. With there being so many voices out there seeking to influence us in how we ought to see the matters of racism in the nation right now, we need to be sure that we always go back to the Bible itself to find the proper understanding of these things. And like any other matter that we may face in life, we find that Scripture is sufficient to help us to frame the issue and direct us in how to respond to it.
            The first thing that we need to realize in talking about “racism” is that the Bible is clear that there really is only one race and that is the human race. According to Acts 17:26, And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. We all have the same ancestry in Noah and, through him, ultimately Adam. There is less than 0.2 genetic difference between any of us. All of us, regardless of the color of our skin, are part of a common humanity, and in racism, when someone is treated differently due to the shade of their skin, we forget just that. There are different ethnicities but only one race. Actually, it is wrong of us to even speak of being different colors. The truth of the matter is that we all are of the same color. We are just different shades of the color brown (not merely “black” or “white”). Some of us have darker skin tones and others of us lighter due to the amount of a thing called melanin in our skin. So, we really are not that different after all and all of us could be said to be “a person of color” then. This of course does not diminish any important and unique differences among us, but I don’t see those being necessarily related to the color of one’s skin. Every person is an individual designed and created by our all-wise God and of great worth and value since he or she bears His image and should be treated as such. The shade of one’s skin doesn’t make a difference in that.

            The issue with racism is the sin of partiality that James addresses in chapter 2 verses 1-7 of his letter where we are called to show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (v. 1). The Greek word used here literally means “to judge according to face” and it prohibits treating anyone differently due to any external feature of theirs, whether that would be how they dress, their social status, or the color of their skin. Whenever we have made a presumption about someone on the basis of the shade of their skin and treat them differently than others, we have fallen prey to this sin. And it must be stressed that none of us are immune to this. We should not think that we ourselves cannot be guilty of racism (and that is true regardless of how light or dark your skin may be). Keep in mind that it is believers that James writes this to. He addresses them as my brothers indicating their kinship in Christ. That they are all part of His family. Just as easy it can be to give someone preferable treatment due to their social status because they appear to be better off than another, we can do the same thing on account of the shade of their skin. We must keep our hearts in check in regard to this and seek to love our neighbor, no matter what he or she may look like.

             And finally, we need to realize that the answer to the sin of racism is the same answer for each and every sin that plagues mankind; the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. No amount of protesting and rioting can bring us together. No new laws that would be legislated can do so. Joining a movement ultimately will not make any lasting difference. God alone has the power to break down any barriers that divide us and He has done so for those in the church through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus Christ that reconciliation between two warring parties can ever happen. When someone is reconciled to God through receiving Christ’s salvific work on the cross in repentance and through faith in Him, they are also reconciled to those who, by grace, are their brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of who they are and what they look like. This is Paul’s point in Ephesians 2:11-22 when he talks about how, through the means of the cross reconciling believing Gentiles and Jews to God, they are brought together into one body where those who once were hostile to one another now are one in Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in the ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (vv. 14-16).

So, if we want to see an end to the hostility between different ethnicities today, then we need to direct people back to the cross where we find ourselves all standing on level ground, all of us regardless of ethnicity or skin color being in the same boat of being a sinner in need of a Savior. And to Christ who through His death on the cross reconciles the believing repentant sinner to God and then in turn to those in Christ as part of His Church. It is only in Him do have any hope to bring about an end to the things that currently divide us. Are we telling people the gospel and calling them to be reconciled to God which will lead to their reconciliation with others? May God grant us the grace to do so even more!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee