Don’t Waste Your Cancer & John 9

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Hey Church,

I’m still enjoying thinking about this past weekend’s baptism service. There was just so much to love about it!

First of all, we had about 20 people come out for the work day on Saturday. We got a lot of great work done. Had some great discipleship happening as folks rubbed shoulders together and the place looked as immaculate as a Disney theme park when they were done!!!

Then, the actual service – It’s amazing how much energy 200 students can bring to anything they are a part of! I loved walking down toward the crowd right before the service began and seeing the kids do the wave around the seating area!!!! I loved the prayer time for CEF. Loved hearing Greg share the gospel so effortlessly and clearly. Loved the encouragements and the testimonies. I loved getting to baptize my son (a life memory for sure)!! I loved Scott’s “last call for baptism” and having that kid jump over the chairs only to have his dad following him into the baptism tank!!!! (I still get chocked up just writing about it)

But it’s time to begin to think about this week’s services. We are going to conclude John chapter 9 this week. In order to refresh our minds and think again about our first message in this chapter I want to share an article written by John Piper in 2006 when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. He entitled it, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” In the article, Piper discusses ten ways not to ‘waste your cancer’ or any other hardship you might find yourself in. I’ve listed the ten points below.

To read the whole article click here.

  1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Special thanks to Joe “our favorite attorney” C. for sending me Piper’s article.


To Those Single Parents Out There

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Everyone has their own ‘thing’ — a chronic illness, an ongoing broken relationship, a life circumstance that’s not changing anytime soon.

Like being a single mom or dad.

Most of us will never know the daily heartaches or struggles you go through. And because we don’t know all that, and because our lives are full of our stuff, we don’t know how to come along side you and encourage you or comfort you.

A friend of mine shared this blog post recently and I appreciated the insight it gave me for your life. I’ll never know how to love you or encourage you as well as you deserve. But know that this glimmer into your world has made me appreciate your life just a little better than I did before.

Click here to read the post: Common Moments Build Great Lifetimes

Sowing & Reaping & Rejoicing Together

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Hey Church,

Remember what I said about Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) using our campus and being in our service this Sunday?

Well, they arrived this week. I walked across the parking lot on Wednesday afternoon to check out their set up and was blown away!

I’m including some photos in this post to show what it looks like to prepare 206 students to share the Gospel with over 5,000 kids throughout our region.

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There are CEF’ers in every nook and corner of our campus!! Their stuff is everywhere. They have puppet stages, skit props, juggling balls, crafts, music equipment, magic tricks, costumes, props/tools for sharing the Gospel – many in the colors of the wordless book – green, white, black, red and yellow. There are cases and cases and cases of materials!!

Then there is the food! Teenagers can stow it away!

That was just the stuff. Today the students arrived! When you throw in the staff and chaperones there are way over 200 people on campus. The next few days they are here training, learning how to lead a child to Christ, how to build a relationship with children, how to juggle, how to work with puppets, the lyrics and hand motions to songs, how to paint faces, make balloon animals.  I walked past one boy, couldn’t be more than 14 years old, training another boy how to share the Gospel. I heard him say,

“You have to be excited about this! You have to really excited when you are explaining this to them!”

How cool is that!

Sunday is their first day of ministry. After they are with us in our service they do a block party In Kensington. The rest of next week they will be at 29 different locations ranging from Perkasie to Kensington, to Manyunk and Norristown. These students come from 22 different churches as far away as Ohio, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Churches and individual homes are housing all these student evangelists. Here at CCC we are home to 30 girls. They’ll be sleeping downstairs and showering in the VERY LARGE blue showers Bob McGinnis, Bill Quanstrom and Nick Holister built for them. (People ask why they are so tall? Because a teenage boy lives above the showers! DUH?)

Each day the teams will gather here at CCC, organize the materials for the day, then head out to their location. At the end of the day they come back here, eat, debrief, worship together then go to their respective home for the week.

The CEF Director, Linda McIntyre, has said numerous times how thankful they are for the use of the campus, “We just are speechless for the opportunity that your church has provided for these teams to come and be trained.”

Church, each of you are a part of this huge outreach effort. When you come and volunteer to clean, mow, fix or build on our campus you are a part of the ministry of these 200+ students. When you drop an offering in one of the boxes you are a part of the CEF ministry this week. When you pray for them, you are a part of their ministry this week.

You know that passage in John 4 that speaks of ‘one sows and another reaps’? It is speaking about how each of us have a different role in the process of evangelism. Crossing, our role this year is to facilitate! Simply by unlocking the doors of our building over 200 students are being trained how to share Christ in multiple ways. In the next two weeks over 5000 children will hear the Gospel!

What an honor! What a privilege! I had a hard time not getting all choked up as I walked through our auditorium on Tuesday and imagined the impact all those materials and students were going to have on our region!

BUT THIS ISN’T ENOUGH! This year CCC only has one student participating – Jeremy Breece. Let’s change that next year. Next year let’s have multiple homes that host backyard bible clubs. Next year let’s have 20, 30 of our students being trained and going out!

This Sunday we have the honor of praying over this throng of student evangelists in our morning service. I can’t wait! I hope you are as excited as well.

These are good days we are in, Church! Be sure to thank God for the honor of participating in the Gospel this way!

Can’t wait to be with you this Sunday!

Pastor Tim

PS: There is still room to help out at the workday this Saturday morning! (hint, hint!)

Israel 2012 Update #6

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Saturated. Overwhelmed. Overstimulated. Sensory overload. 

Just a few adjectives to describe how my mind & heart feel tonight.

The visit to the Temple Mount was dark. Extreme security surrounds the entire area. Although all of Jerusalem is under Israeli control, the Temple Mount is a different animal. Jewish security maintains the peace but, if I understand it correctly, everything else on the mount is controlled by the Muslims. The Mount is a huge site, the equivalent of 11 football fields. A Jew would be allowed up there to pray but for several reasons that is rare.

Although Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Koran, Muslims have assimilated the city and especially the Temple Mount into their religious traditions, thereby making it one of the most important sites for Muslims.

Messiah is supposed to return through the Eastern Gate, so the Muslims have blocked it, bricked it in, to prevent Him from returning. As an additional protective measure, they put a large grave yard outside the Eastern Gate as they know that would make the Messiah unclean. What do you think?  Is all hope lost for the return of the Messiah?

The smallest stone used in constructing the Temple was 2.5 tons. The largest is +\- 600 tons. It’s the 3rd largest stone in the world. At over 44 foot long it is longer than our tour bus. It’s used as a portion of the retaining wall.

The Western Wall is special to Jews because it is the closest place on the Temple Mount they can get to where the Holy of Holies would be.

We visited the Huldah Steps located on the southern side of the Temple area. These steps lead up to the Mount. Every visitor to the Temple would go up these steps as they entered the Temple. From these steps, one has a great view across the Kidron Valley of the Mount of Olives and the Jewish grave yard that lies on the hill below it. It’s likely that as Christ rebuked the Pharisees by calling them “white washed sepulchres” (Matt. 23:27), He was standing on these steps with the sepulchres easily within eyesight.

Sitting at the Southern Steps at the Temple Mount

We visited the Pool of Bethesda (John 5) where Christ healed the man who had been lame for 38 years. We took time to pray for those among us struggling with illnesses. I made sure to pray for many of you at home.

This area is under the control of the Greek Catholic church, an order called the White Brothers. A church sits just a few yards from the ruins of the pools built by the Crusaders. I learned that the churches of the Crusaders didn’t intend folks to preach in their churches. Instead, they were built for chanting. And for echoing. We were told that an echo would last for 7 seconds. So we tried it out! We sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and they weren’t fooling! It was very cool!!

After a visit to the Temple Institute early this morning, we had the rest of the day off. More about that presentation at another time. Make sure I tell you about it some time, though, because it is worth hearing about!

On my freetime, I did some wandering around and only got lost once. (That’s good for me!) I did some shopping, mostly in the Muslim section of the Cardo. Those guys are sharks! I was no match for them! Those guys are shrewd. One guy stopped me and asked if I could come into his shop, to the register, to write an English phrase for him, then he immediately began trying to sell me stuff. He knew English. He was just trying to get me in the shop! It was a lot of fun and totally different from everything else we had seen and done so far on the trip.

I have really enjoyed many of the guides we’ve met at the different exhibits. One young man was 26, born outside of Jerusalem and had served his mandatory time in the military. He recently completed his tour guide education. I asked him about what that entailed. He said it was a two year course that included botany, zoology, archeology, architecture, weather patterns, ancient history, politics and the study of Judaism, Christianity & Islam. Knowing other languages is helpful too. He said that half of those who attempt the class flunk out. Currently there are about 1500 guides in Israel. Jane, our guide has been doing this for 40 years! He gets married in May — to a girl from Lower Merion! They met while she was here studying.

We’ve met tons of Americans who live here now. I met another young man from Miami who is serving in the military. One guide this morning was from Edison, NJ. I bought a painting from a young lady from Baltimore. She suggested we buy honey-roasted cashews from the guy on the next street. She said he used to live across the street from her in Baltimore. As we were standing on a street corner today with our map out, a guy walked out of a shop and in perfect English asked what we were looking for. His hands were full from his shopping, so he handed me a heavy bag and said to follow him  because he was going to that street.  Along the way, we learned that he had lived here for 18 years, was from San Francisco and his name was Dan. When we got to our street, he pointed it out and took his packages back. He said he made it his mission to help people standing on corners looking at maps. Glad we helped him fulfill his mission!

Tomorrow is our last day. It is packed! We will be hitting many of the sites we read about in the events of the last week of Christ’s life — Mt of Olives, Gethsemane, Golgotha, the praetorium and others. I anticipate an emotional day.

I hope to get one more post off while on the bus tomorrow night on the way to Tel Aviv to catch our plane.  If not, I’ll do it when I get home.

So that’s all for now.

Pray for the peace of Israel!

Pastor Tim

P.S. There might be errors in some of my comments, dates or something like that. I’m taking notes on my iPhone or iPad as best I can and it isn’t always best for me to ask questions since I’m part of a group of 38 folks, so bear with me if you see an obvious error!

P.P.S. I just lost my latest “the trip so far” — it got deleted via an erroneous ‘paste’ command that I can’t undo in my notepad. Sorry about that but at this late hour I’ve got no juice left to recreate it!

Israel 2012 Update #5

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 The Trip So Far — Part 2
Bet Shean — This is the city where King Saul’s body was hung on the wall by the Philistines.

Jordan River — We visited the region where Jesus was baptized.

En Gedi — A national park in the Judean desert.

Looking from En Gedi out to the Dead Sea

Dead Sea — You really do float!

Masada — One of King Herod’s many palaces. The site of the last stand ofthe Jewish revolt of 70 AD.

Qumran — The Essene community where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.

The Mount of Olives — Stunning view overlooking the Temple Mount!

City of David– The area of Jerusalem settled by King David.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel — walked through one of the tunnels used to provide water to Jerusalem

The Pool of Siloam — My favorite mention of this site is in John 9, where the man born blind washed himself when Jesus healed him.

Yad VaShem — The National Holocaust Memorial

Ended the night with a quick visit to the Western Wall. Very cool to be here at night with no crowds, just sit and watched those who were praying.

Looking down at the Western Wall with the Dome of the Rock looming over it.

Israel 2012 Update #4

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From Sunday, Monday & Tuesday March 4th, 5th & 6th, 2012:
Hey Church!

You really DO float in the Dead Sea! The salt content is determined by the level of the sea. Currently, the salt level is 33%. How salty is that? If I heard our guide right, the Pacific is 1.4% !!!  The water was bitter cold, but I had to do it!  All you do is walk out into the water and sit down, BOOM, you’re floating!

Other Dead Sea facts that are only important if you are playing Trivial Pursuit:

-Nothing but one tiny algae grows in the Dead Sea.

-It’s the lowest point below sea level in the world.

-Presently, the Dead Sea is declining by 3 feet every year.

-Some of the most important exports for Israel are the minerals extracted from the Dead Sea.

-The Egyptians used them for mummification.

-Cleopatra was given the city of Jericho by Mark Anthony, but she had her eye on the Dead Sea.

-The region of the Dead Sea is where the geological plates of Africa and Asia meet. Movement on the water surface is often due to seismic shifts on the sea bottom.

 Enough about the Dead Sea!

The land around the Sea of Galilee is full of agriculture. Everywhere you look there are orchards, vineyards & groves. As you would expect there are grapes. They also grow figs, pomegranates, oranges, wheat and so much more. But the big surprise to me where the banana groves. Yes, bananas! Often they are under white canopies.

What’s interesting about all this agriculture is that those who occupied the land before the Israelis could never make the land productive. Many areas of the region were unusable due to the vast marshes & wetlands. But since 1948, when the Jewish people returned, they began to reclaim the land, finding constructive means to make it productive. This is just another instance where I’m convinced that God is still blessing His Chosen People!

We passed through the region of Jericho with Mt. Nebo on our left. Jericho is the oldest walled city in the world.  Ruins have been found that show the ancient walls fell outward away from the city instead of inwards, the way walls fell when invaded. Wonder how that happened? (GOD!) The city lies in a very large plain not far from the Jordan River. It is so easy to imagine Joshua and the people marching across that plain.

We were able to visit Jericho since our guide and bus were Israeli. But our Arab taxi driver tonight sure tried to convince us to take the trip with him!


The ruins of Bet Shean

We visited the city of Bet Shean. It was one of the ten Roman cities of the Decapolis, east of the Sea of Galilee. It was destroyed by earthquake in 749 AD. It was only discovered in 1986 just like it was left after the quake. There is astonishing detail — frescos, paved streets, columns, well- defined rooms & buildings, and a really cool public, unisex bathroom that could accommodate over 45 men & women at one time! I posted a fun pic on my Face Book page!

Exhibit of Herod’s palace at Masada

I was thrilled to have the privilege to visit Masada. This site is not mentioned in the Bible but has huge significance in Israeli history. It was built by Herod the Great as his palace of last resort. It soars off the Judean plain to a large, flat-topped plateau with only one natural way up. We talked about it in our Christmas series briefly. In the Jewish rebellion of 70AD, Masada was the last hold-out against the Romans. It took the Romans 7 months to build a siege ramp high enough to reach the top of the plateau. The 900+ Jewish rebels chose to take their own lives instead of going into slavery. (That’s the cliff notes version of Masada.) We rode a cable car up and walked the 700 steps down!

All for now! More soon!

Israel 2012 Update #3

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From Sunday March 4th, 2012:
There are people from all over the world here. Today, I heard German, French, Vietnamese, & Spanish. We were talking with the owner of a museum & I asked him what nationality he saw most. His answer blew me away! Take a few guesses. I’ll tell you his answer tomorrow. 

 About all those people from around the world being here — There will be a day when people from every tongue, tribe, nation & people group will be in Jerusalem. That will be the New Jerusalem. But even now, people from around the world are drawn to this Jerusalem. This one is broken & dirty, filled with injustice, hatred and violence.  But in the New Jerusalem it will be filled with the glory of the risen King, the Lamb of God, and there will be nothing to compare it to!

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