Grace Church of Philly – University City Update

We continue to experience God's blessing at Grace Church. Next March will be the 3rd anniversary of Grace Church – University City site in West Philly. We have pretty much outgrown the hall we are renting. We use the same space for our worship services and our fellowship meal each week (see photos). So after the service we tear down the chairs and set up tables. It's a little chaotic but it works out okay. We are looking at another rental space a few blocks away at a Lutheran Church. We would appreciate the prayers of God's people.

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Mission Tourism Season Begins

Mission tourism continues to boom even in times of economic crisis. Almost daily I receive emails or hear appeals from individuals, churches, and schools that are preparing for summer “missions trips” to send summer “missionaries” to far flung places to minister to those to whom they cannot speak without an interpreter, to build relationships with those they will never see again, and to do for others what they often can or should do for themselves. What seems to be most important is the experience of the mission tourist. What seems to be missing is asking about outcomes for the recipients of mission trips and whether the hosts were confirmed more deeply in their dependence on naively generous Americans.

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Leakey will be history first

Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey has predicted the end of skepticism regarding evolution. According to news articles his “family claims to have unearthed ‘much of the existing fossil evidence for human evolution.’" The account of Mark Twain's premature obituary comes to mind. He allegedly commented – "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Since we’re doing predictions, I predict Leakey will be history long before skepticism about evolution disappears. And I hope he changes his mind before then. Let's see. Believe the Bible or believe Leakey?  Believe Leakey or 40 biblical authors? I decided long ago to believe someone who lived, died, and rose again rather than men who died and are dead. No doubt Leakey’s a brilliant man. But he’s no prophet.

Homosexual and More

A recent imbroglio in North Carolina has set the blogosphere on fire. The video of a Baptist pastor's solution to getting rid of sexual deviants was applauded by his church and now defended by some church members. His solution was fence them, feed them, forget them. This is a great case for not needing to say everything that's on your mind especially when the camera is rolling. But apart from being incredibly stupid, it is clearly non-Christian. The Jesus I follow castigated religious leaders for their hypocrisy yet he demonstrated compassion for sinners. Where in the video do we see Jesus? What we see is pandering and bluster!

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Why I continue to evangelize other “Christians”

Wherever the gospel is blurred, diluted, or rejected I will continue to evangelize. I will evangelize ‘Christians’ who depend upon the church and its sacraments to gradually infuse God’s saving grace into them; I will evangelize those whose clearest understanding of being a Christian is “I was baptized’ or ‘I go to Church’ or ‘I receive Jesus every week in communion’ or ‘I try to live by the ten commandments or the golden rule.’  Read more at thegospelfirst by John Davis

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)

I am coming to the end of 9 months of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Last night I gave a final presentation to my peer group on how I viewed the experience. I read a paper which expressed my beliefs concerning Christ, the gospel, and the authority of Scripture as the foundation of my ministerial philosophy. It has been challenging to minister in a pluralistic context. I was one of the few evangelical Christians in the program. Last night my supervisor, a former Roman Catholic priest now married to a United Methodist woman pastor, expressed his appreciation for my presence even though he said most would not agree with many of my beliefs. And that's okay. I learned that even in this context I could be who I am while respectfully disagreeing with others – respect for people while refusing to accept the parity and/or validity of all belief systems.

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Clarifying the ‘Means of Grace’

My schedule hasn't left me much time to write recently. So once more I would like to direct you to my brother John's blog on "Clarifying the Means of Grace."

Ordinary Pastors – Our Decision to Join the Evangelical Free Church

My brother John explains on his blog part of the reasoning that went into the decision for Grace Church of Philly’s two sites to affiliate with the Evangelical Free Church of America. We are looking forward to good fellowship and genuine partnership in seeing God raise up churches in the City of Brotherly Love (or "Shove" as some would have it).

Drug Addiction: Disease or Moral Failure?

          My work with drug addicts in a prison setting has allowed me to think and study more about addiction, its causes and its remedies. Daily I have the opportunity to interview and work with scores of men who have been incarcerated due to drug-related criminal activity. One of the questions often asked, both by drug abusers and by family members affected by their abuse and resultant behavioral consequences, is this: Is drug addiction primarily a disease or a result of moral failure and weak will? Or is it both/and? It seems to me that the science of addiction clearly favors the former as seen in this common definition. "Addiction is a primary, chronic illness with genetic factors that influence it and it is also progressive and fatal."

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Grace Church of Philly – North Philly Replant Update

God has been gracious at the replant of Grace Church – Feltonville which began two months ago. This church is in the neighborhood where my I grew up in North Philly and where I became a Christian in 1973. As you will see in this music video from last Sunday the Lord is bringing together people to worship. The diversity is encouraging and representative of the community. Almost every week we are seeing guests and are asking God to establish the church for His glory and send co-laborers into the city.  We would ask you to pray that God would provide a church planting pastor to move into that neighborhood to provide leadership for the church in His time.

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