Benjamin Franklin died on April 17, 1790. In the weeks leading to that day Franklin, knowing his death was imminent, had his nurse go into his attic and bring down a picture he had owned for years but kept stored in his attic. He had her place the picture at the foot of his bed. Thus, as he lay on what would become his deathbed he could keep the picture continually before his gaze.
Wouldn’t you like to know what that picture was? Fortunately for you and me, Franklin’s nurse described it. She said it was a painting of Judgment day “where the awful Judge was enthroned in glory, and giving sentence.” I don’t know who did the painting, but the scene is that pictured in Matt. 25:31-46. That passage ends this way: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
It seems obvious that Ben Franklin was thinking about eternal things as he saw his death inexorably approaching. Was the picture meant to bring comfort to his soul or to bring warning to his soul? How did he view it?
We don’t know. No one knows.
But there’s a paper trail. Franklin was a prodigious writer. He had opinions on most everything, so wrote on most everything, including religion, Christianity, and theology. Because he was a printer – that is, one who printed and published his own newspaper, almanac, etc. – his opinions were printed. In those writings one can see his thoughts regarding man and the Last Judgment.
In his early 20s, within a few years of his arrival in Philadelphia, he composed a brief essay titled Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. It’s too long to quote in this space, but it is evident that Franklin is no atheist or agnostic. It begins, “I believe there is one Supreme most perfect Being.” He believes in God. Franklin goes on to elaborate his conviction that God is good, that He rules over all things, is worthy of praise, and will hold men accountable for their actions. He wrote that at age 22.
Sixty two years later, a few weeks before he died, Franklin received an inquiry from Ezra Stiles the president of Yale College. Stiles knew Franklin was dying. He was a friend of Franklin’s, but was uncertain about the state of Franklin’s soul. He flattered him a bit: “You have merited and received all the Honors of the Republic of Letters; and are going to a World, where all sublunary Glories will be lost in the Glories of Immortality.” That’s a fancy way of saying, You’ve received abundant and deserved recognition here, but you’re headed for eternity where even the brightest lights of earth will be lost in the lights of glory.”
Stiles makes clear his wishes for Franklin when he writes, “. . . I shall never cease to wish you that happy Immortality which I believe Jesus alone has purchased . . .” That’s a fairly clear statement of Stiles’ understanding of the Gospel, of how one is redeemed and qualified for eternal life. It seems obvious that Stiles was concerned that despite Franklin’s vast stores of knowledge and experience, in spite of all the honors Franklin has received, still Franklin might not rightly know the role Jesus plays in the great redemption story.
In Franklin’s reply, written on March 9, 1790, he states his faith concisely and precisely:
Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good to his other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion.
I don’t think any of us would find objectionable material in Franklin’s answer. We might quibble about the notion of Justice apart from any mention of Mercy. Otherwise, what he says is really good. Unlike the Deists, Franklin had a strong sense of the providence of God. After all, he was the delegate to the Constitutional Convention who, on June 28, 1787, when affairs seem to have reached an unresolvable impasse, made a motion that the Convention take time to pray and seek God’s gracious intervention daily. His motion was not passed! Franklin was not a mere Deist. He believed in an active and intervening Deity.
Did you notice in his letter that Stiles was explicit in saying that Jesus alone had purchased the immortality to which he aspired. So, in his letter he was quite direct with Franklin, asking, “I wish to know the Opinion of my venerable Friend concerning JESUS of Nazareth.” [emphasis in the original] What will Franklin say to that?
Franklin doesn’t pull any punches. He writes that, As to Jesus of Nazareth . . . I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see. . . . [but] I have . . . some Doubts as to his Divinity. Alas, Franklin is much like Nicodemus in third chapter of John’s Gospel. He knows Jesus as a great teacher, but does not know Jesus as the Messiah and Redeemer. Thus the omission of Mercy in Franklin’s creed is all the more notable and significant.
Franklin had a long, cordial, and mutually enjoyable relationship with the great evangelist George Whitefield. They first met in 1739 and remained friends and associates until Whitefield’s death in 1770. In his autobiography Franklin writes about Whitefield’s concern for his soul: “He us’d indeed sometimes to pray for my Conversion, but never had the Satisfaction of believing that his Prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil Friendship, sincere on both Sides, and lasted to his Death.” In other words, despite 30+ years of friendship with Whitefield, Franklin avers they never shared the same faith.
So, what do you think about Ben Franklin? Why did he have that particular picture brought out of storage and placed at the foot of his bed as he lay dying? Was it to assure himself that he would receive Justice from God for his conduct in this life? Did he think his conduct merited going with “the righteous into eternal life”? Did the letter of Ezra Stiles cause Franklin to continue to ponder the role of Jesus?
We don’t know. No one knows.
The point of all this is the very question Ezra Stiles asked of Benjamin Franklin: What is your opinion concerning JESUS of Nazareth? It does matter: now and eternally.
In the Joy of the Lord,
John H.C. Niederhaus
June Pulpit Schedule
4th – Let’s Pray – Isaiah 37:14-20, 30-32; Matthew 6:7-15; Ephesians 1:15-23
When is it that you hear folk say, “Let’s pray”? Prayer is foundational for Christian living. All of us pray, but none of us think we pray enough or pray well enough. You know what? We’re probably right! The foundation for praying is a desire to pray. So, how does one get a desire to pray? Once we begin praying we wonder how to order our prayers. Is there a pattern or model or order we can follow to help us? Some wonder if prayer is worthwhile; does it accomplish anything? Isn’t God going to do what He wants to do anyway? Why say, Let’s pray.?
11th – The Promise – Isaiah 44:1-5; Luke 1:30-35,41-42,64,67; Luke 3:15-17,21-22; 4:1-2a,13-15
The Holy Spirit is the One who brings God’s promises to fruition. Without the Holy Spirit we have no real basis for hope. This Sunday we particularly want to consider this reality with respect to children. Speaking through Isaiah, the Lord gives a wonderful promise to His people, a promise that is only accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus famously told Nicodemus the work of the Spirit was like the wind: it blows where it wills, we hear the sound of it, yet we don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. We say, “Come Holy Spirit.”
18th – The Doctrine of Man – Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-5; Psalm 8; Hebrews 4:12-13
It’s Father’s Day What better day to consider what God has said about man? Maybe that should be, “What God has said about humans.” Or, again, “What God has said about man/male and woman/female.” We’ll see about all that. We also will consider how it is that we bear the image of God. It is important to know that man is unique in God’s creation – fearfully and wonderfully made as Psalm 139 expresses it. If we bear the image of God and are meant to glorify Him, then we need to know how to do so. Good old Job might give us some insight on that.
25th – The X Factor – Genesis 3:1-13; Romans 8:18-25; 1 John 3:4
Almost every family has a story or two about recipes getting fouled up. It may have been the time baking powder was used in place of flour. What family has not had helpful children refill the salt shaker with sugar or vice versa? All such instances lead to unpleasant surprises; after all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. That helps explain why many folk have a sour taste in their mouth from regular life experiences. To rightly taste life one must not leave out the X Factor. Most folk nowadays do. With disastrous results. What is the X Factor? The Fall.
From the Youth Pastor
GOSPEL-EYES TO GOSPELIZE
Recently I’ve noticed many social media video clips of people with eye impediments who are graciously being given special new-tech glasses that enable them to see colors or depth in their vision for the first time. It’s mesmerizing to watch the raw emotion unfold of the individual who is feeling overwhelmed whilst also full of gratitude for the gift. It is quite touching to view the special moment as these people are awakened to a new reality that they heard existed, but had never experienced personally. The physical experience they go through is similar to what many experience as they meet Christ and suddenly begin to view the world differently (forever changed) because of new found faith in Christ. God gives us gospel-eyes!
Once our eyes have seen and experienced the truth of the gospel we now have gospel-eyes to view our reality. Another way to say all this is the famous hymns words, Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. The Christian should have a Jesus-kingdom-priority-perspective. We should pray that we see things as He sees things (despite seeing through a glass dimly in this life). We should pray as Brandon Heath sings, Give me your eyes for just one second, Give me your eyes so I can see, Everything that I keep missing, Give me your love for humanity, Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, The ones that are far beyond my reach, Give me your heart for the ones forgotten, Give me your eyes so I can see. When we view life through the lens of Jesus’ heart, our hearts will break with His heart and be compelled with compassion.
Do you have gospel-eyes? Do you see things like Jesus does, like when He performed His earthly ministry? The clearest snapshot of this is found in Matthew 9:35-38 where it says that, Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. The harvest needs “gospel-eyed” people who have a heart to work in the harvest. Jesus’ challenge here is to all of His disciples (you and me included) to beseech the Lord, to call on Him to give us vision and heart for His work and then to send us and others to do it. As we “Fix” our eyes on Jesus as the author of Hebrews commends us to do, we will serve, hope, and live differently. God give us gospel-eyes to gospelize!
So what does the term “gospelize” mean anyway? Gospelize is an old English word for “evangelize” and in a culture where the similar term “evangelical” has lost its meaning, we need a fresh term to replace evangelize, even if its an old one. Charles Spurgeon used it so it must be old and good. He said, I contend for this, that to gospelize a man is the greatest miracle in the world. All the other miracles are wrapped up in this one. To gospelize a man, or, in other words, to convert him, is a greater work than to open the eyes of the blind. God give us gospel-eyes to gospelize, so that others would get gospel-eyes!
So, to wrap up, we need gospel-eyes if we are to gospelize! We need to see things from God’s perspective if we are to follow His directive! For me the directive involves going to the harvest (literally an area full of fruit orchards) of central California with a mission called Young Life. If you are interested in this work and would like to stay connected with me as I reach out to teenagers with the gospel then email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or sign up for info at helpforyouthministry.com.
Yes, please also pray for my eyes (physically), but let’s be praying for each other’s gospel-eyes (spiritually) so that many would see truth! Give us gospel-eyes to gospelize! Amen.
New Members to be Received
Leidy’s Church will be receiving new members soon. Those who have been through the Inquirer’s Class recently – that is within the past couple of years – and would like to join the congregation officially, should contact the church office and/or Pastor Niederhaus.
The date for receiving new members is a bit up in the air. It will take place either on the 25th of June or the 2nd of July. Check the bulletin for the final answer! If you have questions, please speak with Pastor Niederhaus.
Heading to Pikangikum
Another intergenerational crew of short-term mission workers from Leidy’s Church is excitedly preparing for service at Pikangikum in far northwest Ontario. This is a First Nations community where we have many friends and relational connections.
The dates for this year’s SLMT adventure are July 13-23. A good group of men are heading up to do some hands-on construction/repair work. On-site missionary Colleen Estes and the Band Council are preparing a list of projects for them.
Most of the team members will be involved with the daily VBS program. A new school has been built at Pikangikum and this is the first year VBS will take place in it. That means it’s a new experience for everyone – even the old timers who are going up.
Usually somewhere around 200 kids show up each day for VBS. That number can go up by 50 or down by 25 on any given day. Flexibility is the name of the game at Pikangikum. Team members are already working on their lesson plans. You Are Valuable to God is the theme of the week. Lessons will come from the parables of Jesus.
While the team has a good selection of veterans on it, there are numerous folk young and old who are making their first journey to the North Country. Next month we’ll provide a list of all the team members so you can provide spiritual undergirding through your prayers. Significant spiritual warfare as well as extraordinary social conditions are part and parcel of this mission.
If you have been thinking about being part of the SLMT team this year, a slot can be found for you. Speak with Mary Beth Musselman or Tony Kapusta; they’ll be glad to hear from you.
If you’re looking for someone to support but no one has approached you, then talk with Pastor Niederhaus and he’ll get you lined up with someone.
All Church Picnic at Men-O-Lan
Summer weather is here to stay, we think – and just in time for our annual excursion to Camp Men-O-Lan on Sunday, June 4th. Located in upper, upper, upper Bucks County, Men-O-Lan is an ideal setting for an all-day picnic.
An outdoor service of worship at 10:30 gets things going. Bring a lawn chair or two if you prefer, or you can sit on the benches provided on-site at the under-the-trees, outdoor chapel. No need for a baptismal service at the swimming pool this year since we have a baptismal pool in church now! (It’s still the case, however, that if you’re interested in being baptized you should speak with Pastor Niederhaus sooner rather than later.)
Everyone brings desserts to share, Men-O-Lan is a peanut free camp, please nothing with peanuts. Lunch is provided by the camp. Yes, we pay a per/person fee, so donations in the basket will be gratefully received.
You and your family may plan to stay all day or just part of it. The Men-O-Lan picnic provides extraordinary opportunities for fellowship by joining in a rousing game of softball or paddling around the pond or perhaps some excellent porch-sitting-and-chatting times. There will be plenty of space to roam. Some years the fish are biting too!
If you haven’t signed up yet, please call the church office and the friendly, efficient, always helpful office ladies will get you registered.
We will need with clean-up at the end of the day, as well as volunteers for pond duty. Pitch in and lend a hand.
Looking forward to seeing you at Men-O-Lan on June 4th.
Are You Ready for Some Fun?
Woohoo!! It’s time for the Strawberry Festival!
Woohoo!! It’s time for the Three Fat Guys Chicken Barbeque Feast!
Woohoo!! It’s about merging these two events into one! Should it be labelled the Strawberry Chicken Barbeque Festival? Regardless . . .
In 2017 we’re still doing new things in new ways at Leidy’s Church. We’ve never had a Strawberry Festival at the new facility, nor have we had the Chicken Barbeque at the new facility. Now we’ll have them both on Saturday, June 4th from 4 to 8 pm.
This new event gives everyone the option to dine in or drive through and take it home. There are inducements to park the car and hang around: good conversations; children’s games; live music; and a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
But, if you’re wanting to do your thing at home, just drive through and get you a chicken meal with the usual sides and a tasty dessert. It’ll work.
And we do need workers for this event to happen. We need folk to help make the potato salad, barbeque chicken, lots of strawberry cleaners and cutters, box up take out orders, cashiers, setter-uppers and taker-downers, ice cream dippers, kitchen help, servers, and just plain old helpers.
Volunteer forms are in the bulletin and in the narthex hutch. Of course, you can always contact Josh Heebner or Pete Martindell or the church office and they’ll get you signed up and plugged in.
Also, please help spread the word about this Strawberry Chicken Barbeque Festival. Invite those within your sphere of influence to come out and have some food and fun.
There’s a Commotion Brewing!
Cultural storms now encompass even our youngest ones. Our children are overshadowed with the barrage of political correctness as well as plain old wickedness. What’s a kid to do?!
We think coming to VBS at Leidy’s Church, June 25-29 would be a good place to start. This year’s curriculum focuses on Noah, his Ark, and the great global flood.
Noah lived in times even worse than ours. Everyone had wicked thoughts all the time. God said the whole world was corrupted and filled with violence.
But the Bible tells us that despite all this, “Noah walked with God!” And students at VBS will learn how Noah did that.
Part of how he walked with God is he did what God told him to do. He built an ark! And it was a whopper! It was ingeniously laid out. All the animals fit in it. There was room for storing food and getting rid of waste. And Mr. & Mrs. Noah and family lived in it as well. It was a wonder!
This VBS program is titled Ocean Commotion and happens Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 8:15 pm. There is an optional dinner program from 5:30 to 6 which requires an extra registration. Registration is free, by the way.
During VBS the featured mission will be Chariots for Hope. Particular attention will be given to the Mahiga Orphanage in Kenya which Leidy’s Church helps support.
Registration for VBS is for children who have completed Kindergarten through 6th Grade, or born prior to Sept. 1, 2011. Registration may be done online at www.leidyschurch.org. Just click on the promo banner and follow the links.
Ladies of Leidy’s
The last meeting until September happens Tuesday, June 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room. Our program will be presented by a representative of AAA. She will be giving us tips and information on how to stay safe when driving and how to be a better driver. All ladies are welcome to attend.
Cause for Celebration
Are you ready for another round of graduation parties? You better be, because there are folk graduating and they and their families are very happy about it. You may share the joy this year with graduates listed below.
David Thompson is getting his diploma from Mustard Seed Christian Homeschool. Parents Carl and Jerri Thompson have faith his knowledge is more sizeable than a mustard seed. David is looking for a job in a service-oriented ministry.
Hollie Walbrandt is ready to toss her cap in the air as she graduates from SAHS. Going from one classroom to another, this daughter of Dave and Allison will begin taking classes in Early Childhood Education at Montco.
Sean Merritt is the son of Ken and Connie, but a native of Ukraine, and a graduate of Central Bucks West. He’s made lots of progress since coming to the US a few years ago, and now will begin classes at Bucks County Community College.
Robin Potts is nursing her plans for life after SAHS, where she graduates this year. The daughter of Doug and Karen, she will take a few courses at Montco and then join the Army with a view to taking up nursing.
Amber Smith is our international student. She’s graduating from Wasse-Abin Wikwemikong High School in Ontario. The daughter of Ben and Evangeline Smith, she plans to go to college in Sudbury, ON, in a General Arts & Science program.
Lydia Wilwert is the last student that will graduate from the Wilwert Homeschool! She looks forward to heading off for the Big Sky country of Montana in September where she’ll be enrolled in the Discipleship Training School at a YWAM base.
Derek Freed didn’t whiff his chance to leave the hallowed halls of SAHS. He’ll leave those halls for the ones at Messiah College where he’ll major in Business Marketing and play plenty of baseball! Dave and Vicki Freed are his parents.
Renée Doran is riding high as she graduates from Faith Christian Academy. The last of the Doran girlies, she will take a gap year and do some nannying and other work. She’s the daughter of Dave and Adine, and Dave may get her on a zero-turn mower too!
Kaitlyn Rittenhouse is the daughter of John and Janelle. Her diploma comes from Rittenhouse Homeschool Academy. She’s calculating her college credits as she takes on-line courses from Liberty University with her sight fixed on a Math/Education degree.
Krista Tyson is getting rammy as our lone graduate from Pennridge High School. The daughter of Glen and Rachel, she’s the caboose of the sibling chain, but will be heading to nearby Eastern University to work on a degree in Social Work.
College and Graduate School
Peter Walbrandt is now a Mountaineer from West Virginia where he is graduating cum laude with a degree in Marketing. Happy parents are Dave and Allison who have their happiness tempered by Pete’s position Sherwin Williams’ management training program in far away Ohio.
Sarah Tyson graduates from the University of Maryland, but she’s not leaving. Her BS in architecture with a minor in Sustainable Studies and Archeology will be put to good use in the graduate program as she continues on to become a resident architect. Glen and Rachel are her parents.
Kayla Ruth is leaving the friendly confines of Kutztown University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. The daughter of Rob Ruth and Stephanie Weiss, she is artfully looking for a job in her field!
Hannah Haughey has fine tuned her way through the MBA program of Penn State. The wife of Matt, she’s also the daughter of Dana and Barb Gehman. She’s ready to sharpen her pencil and do business!
Josh Freed played baseball at Eastern University, but also worked hard at his degree in Accounting, Finance, and Business Management as he graduates summa cum laude. His parents Dave and Vicki are glad he’s been hired by Vanguard to work in nearby Malvern.
Blake Weiss is the youngest son of Drew and Laurie. He’s been out in Williamsport at the Penn College of Technology where he’s earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Design Technology. It looks like he’ll be heading to Beltsville, MD, to work.
Peter Lockman graduates from DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music & Performance. His specialty is the cello. This son of Curt and Betty Jo will have a summer internship with an opera orchestra in Austria and then begin graduate work at the Indiana University School of Music.
A Good Word from India
One of the most fruitful ministries Leidy’s Church supports is the School of Evangelism efforts of Glad Tidings India. This year our support is being used to underwrite the labors of S. Paul Sudhakar at their School of Evangelism.
Mr. Sudhakar was raised an orthodox Hindu. He and his family were very religious. As a youth one of his friends invited him to a church in his village. His parents sought to stop it, but by God’s grace he continued. Here’s his explanation of what happened:
Their [the Christians] God spoke with me day by day. I realized I was a sinner. I came to know that the Lord Jesus died for my sins. Then after my studies my father asked me to go to Chennai for a job . . . There I committed my life to God and became a new man in Christ. I obeyed God and was baptized in water. . . . I got married and our God blessed us with two sons. I am a civil engineer, but I want to serve the Lord, so this School of Evangelism will help me do more for God’s glory.
Mr. Sudhakar has completed four months at the School of Evangelism. Actually, he was at the school for one month and then three months out in the field where no one has heard of Jesus. His first report indicates he made contact with 142 adults and 186 children with news of the gospel. He distributed over 630 pieces of Christian literature. He conducted 12 Gospel meetings, that is, evangelistic events where the attendees are non-Christian. From those meetings and his other contacts, 24 individuals have committed their lives to Christ and 33 are seeking after God. He has founded two house churches (there are no other churches around) and has 35 people regularly attending worship.
What a good word! Let’s remember Mr. Sudhakar in our prayers. Let’s ask God to help us be faithful witnesses and inviters as well.
How Gifts Multiply
Our 30 Pieces of Silver offering was given to Glad Tidings India. In honor of founder Bill Scott’s 90th birthday, they were seeking to raise sufficient funds to provide for the printing of 30,000+ Bibles to be distributed in India. Bill Scott’s ongoing vision is to provide for a Bible in every home in India.
Glad Tidings has Bibles printed in India’s 17 major languages, then sold individually at an affordable price. Because poverty is rampant in India, if Bibles are given away they will be sold for their waste paper value! So they’re sold at an affordable price. The money obtained from the Bibles is then used a second time, usually to sponsor literacy classes or to train a church planter. Not this time, though. Here’s why.
The ministry in India receives huge containers filled with Bible teaching materials several times a year. On average, they distribute 60,000 pieces of Scripture portions every working day! Wow! This would include Bibles, Gospels, tracts, children’s SS materials, Bible-content literacy primers, Christian books in many Indian vernacular languages, etc.
They must rent storage space for this vast stock of materials that keeps pouring through their ministry. Rent is high. Storage quality is low. Rental costs rise about 20% each year. Hence, there is a need for their own warehouse.
Bill Scott asked for the secondary income generated from the sale of the Bibles provided for his birthday celebration be used to purchase the land necessary to build their own warehouse. He is asking the indigenous churches in India who are part of the Glad Tidings network to provide the funds to construct the warehouse. It looks as though that is about to become a reality.
Our 30 Pieces of Silver offering was just over $3,550. That won’t provide for 30,000 Bibles, but it will provide for over 700 Bibles to be printed. That will cover about 1/43rd of the funds needed to be raised. Churches and individuals across our country and from around the world have done just what we’ve done. Each has a small stake in a big project. We thank God that we have a part in buying land in India that will continue to support the distribution of tens of thousands of pieces of Bible materials throughout India each working day!
That’s how gifts multiply.
Some Peeks Ahead
Though not officially announced, we can let the news out that Leidy’s Church has big block of tickets for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game on Saturday evening, July 29th. That evening they will be playing the famous Durham Bulls! Believe it or not, old rubber-armed Pastor Niederhaus will be throwing out the first pitch. Watch for details on how you can get your tickets for this stellar (meaning STARS – like in future Phillies sluggers) event.
During the summer months we’ll have some of our missionaries rotating through our services. Among those we expect to see are John Freeman from Harvest USA, Dan Istrate serving in Romania, Drake Williams with Tyndale Seminary in the Netherlands, and Kevin Noyes serving with DiscipleMakers at Penn State, among others.
You are encouraged to take time to greet these Christian missionaries and worker. They are blessed by our interest and concern.
by Jerri Thompson
Not too long ago, I read Phillip Yancey’s book, What Good Is God? Chapter 19 is entitled “Why I Wish I Was an Alcoholic.” Now, why ever would a Christian write that? I think I know.
After I became a Christian in the 1970s, I expected all my problems to fall away and be healed. Permanently. When they didn’t, I often hid them. When I would come to church on Sunday mornings, I would look like a happy human being. Often I was anything but. We had (still have) some serious relational issues back at the house. Over the years, the issues would keep popping out in visible ways. I felt like a poster child for the needy Christian. Doctrine says we all need God, but hardly anyone else ever looked as needy as I did.
Now, when alcoholics attend their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings everyone introduces themselves as an alcoholic. No one ever identifies as a former alcoholic. They all express their need, and they are all welcome with their needs.
I do not always feel like my needs are welcome among church people. Others feel the same. I talked with a woman who feels “shattered inside” by a long-term estrangement from one of her children but feels unable to share that at church. With another friend, I shared a story about our experience with Child and Youth Services, and she sighed, “Thank you. We had an experience like that. Many Christians back away from us when they find out.”
So we hide our hurts and needs. Maybe that’s why church memberships decline, and self-help books are best sellers. The books don’t really help. We need God. We need the church to be Him with skin on. We need the church to enfold us needy sinners.
In his chapter on alcoholics, Yancey writes,
I recently played a CD which contained songs from my ancient high school days. One starts out “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of….” John 13:35 exhorts, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Does the world know the church is for needy people? Does the world know that we love one another, and they could join in that love? Do we need to learn how to express our needs and our love?
Within the Fellowship
Congratulations to Gus and Sunhwa (Lee) Niederhaus, and to Troy and Ashley (Krassenstein) Radcliff who were united in marriage. May God bless them as they grow in Him.
Congratulations to Jim and Angela Kinney at the birth of a daughter, Bailey Donna. May God be with them as they grow in Him.
On a balmy evening in early May – the 10th to be exact – the Consistory of Leidy’s Church met to conduct the business of the church. Below is an account of some of the matters discussed and/or acted on:
- Devotions were led by Dave Reich on the subject of suffering. It was the sixteenth anniversary of his mother’s tragic death from a fall. He mentioned other incidents that caused him to ask, “Why does God allow suffering?” He pointed to John 9:1-3 as a text that helped him. Also the book A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. Dave mentioned all the options he (and we) consider, but concluded that experiencing bad things allows us to appreciate what is good, and submitting to God’s sovereignty is essential to knowing true freedom and complete joy.
- April did bring better news financially. If we were to pay all our bills and disperse all designated funds, we would still be in the black. Praise God.
- Report was received from the Spiritual Council regarding our two staff openings: Director of Children’s Ministry and Youth Pastor. It is the recommendation of the Spiritual Council for the positions to be combined. Mention was made of other local churches where this has been done. The Transition Committee thinks this is a workable option. The Credentialing Cadre of Spiritual Council will work on merging the two job descriptions in conjunction with input from other churches and from our own folk. The hope still is for someone to be in place by mid to late summer.
- Acoustical panels for the sanctuary/FH are ordered. There is a four week delay because of a backup at the company that manufactures the fabric covering. Scott Rittenhouse will install the panels when they become available, most likely in late June to early July.
- Discussions continue between the Township, the engineering company, and the construction company regarding the dimensions of some of our retention basins/rain gardens.
- Authorized signing an HVAC service contract with I.T. Landis for the new church facility. It will cost $3,500 p/year.
- Staff persons continue to seek ways to alleviate high electrical usage/costs. Some dimmer switches have too many lights on them and will need to be adjusted. The changeover from motion activated switches to manual ones is still in process.
- It is reported our sanctuary is too warm on occasion. It is also reported that our sanctuary is too cold on occasion. Sometimes those occasions are the same occasion! Our maintenance staff will set the heating/cooling system and everyone will have to adjust: some bringing sweaters, some in short sleeves.
- 1 Tim. 3:8-12 was read prior to discussing nominations for Deacon. Three Deacon positions will open up this year. Eventually a slate of five men was established, the names written on slips of paper, placed in a Bible, and then pulled out. The order in which the names were pulled out is the order in which the men will be approached until three consent to being nominated.
- A permanent projector is now installed in the Fellowship Hall, the Kitchen Committee is exploring options to install additional outlets, a new ac/heat pump was installed for the parsonage garage apartment, and Directory photo reservations still need to be made.
A variety of other reports and items were discussed. The meeting adjourned at 10:12 after a time of intercessory prayer and the unison praying of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Westminster Larger Catechism
That thorough-going assembly of Presbyterians that met at Westminster in the 1640s took their time working through the Ten Commandments. We think they must have included a lot of lawyers and insurance guys given their penchant for extreme detail! Nonetheless, lots of good insights and cause for conviction in their words. This month we read what they taught concerning the 9th commandment. Notice mention is made of undue silence in a just cause, of speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves, among other forbidden sins!
What the Scriptures Principally Require as the Duty of Man
Question 143: Which is the ninth commandment?
Answer: The ninth commandment is, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Question 144: What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
Answer: The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requires; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
Question 145: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
Answer: The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, out-facing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting; thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.
Usher Captains: Matt Harris, Peter Martindell
Ushers: Andy Damiani, Doug Elliott, Alex Hager, Bob Hager, Owen Lockman, Jonathan Parfitt, Christian Rau, John Rittenhouse, Lucas VanDerbeek, Drew Weiss.
The Emergency Committee for June is Brian Shoemaker, Melinda Ziegler.