Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New And Improved

I generally think that it is ridiculous for a company to advertise a product as "New and Improved." Usually, something must be either one or the other. If a product is new, then it hasn't been around to be improved. And if a product has been improved, then it has already been around for a while and must not be new. But in Hebrews 8, God presents us with a covenant that He says is new. But God also contrasts that covenant with an older covenant and shows that the new is an improvement.

The Old Covenant was the law of Moses. It was a deal that God made with the people of Israel that was based on them obeying the 613 laws that were given. When a law was broken, a sacrifice had to be made. But the New Covenant (also made with the people of Israel) is much better because the New Covenant is internal and people want to follow it. People are able to follow the New Covenant, but they were unable to follow the Old. The requirement of the New Covenant is faith in Jesus Christ. HIs perfect sacrfice for sin fulfilled all of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. Therefore, not only is the New Covenant an improvement over the Old Covenant, but Jesus is seen to be the best (and now only) way to approach God.

Since Jesus is the best way to God, we ought to come to God through Jesus. And since Jesus is great, we ought to rely on Him for help in everything that we do. The greatness of Christ can give us a tremendous assurance of God's love. The greatness of Christ can also give us additional reasons to trust Him to guide us through every situation of our lives.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


One of the great things about living in the middle of New Jersey is that all sorts of food is available. The internet phone book for my town of Old Bridge lists around seventy restaurants- and there are pleanty of other towns nearby. We have more types of food available than I even knew existed.

One place to eat that I just recently discovered is called "Harold's Chicken and Grill." Harold's just recently opened their Old Bridge store on Route 516 accross from Wendy's. The owner (Harold maybe? I talked to him, but didn't ask his name) told me that he has had the other Harold's in South River for about five years.

What I like about Harold's is that the menu is extensive and the portions are huge. I fed my family of seven with a cheesesteak and salad. We've tried the place a couple times now and everything has been delicious.

So here is the question for everyone to comment on- What food establishment (restaurant, diner, delivery place, whatever) do you recommend?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Take Advantage of Your Opportunities

I have been preaching through the book of Hebrews. One topic which is prominent in the middle of the book is that Jesus is the greatest High Priest that anyone could ever have. Many evidences are given of the superiority of Jesus' High Priesthood compared to the priests of the law. But what difference should it make in our lives that Jesus is our great high priest?

This past Sunday I suggested four ways that we should take advantage of having Jesus as our great high priest. All of these suggestions are based on the fact that the role of the priest is to represent people before God. The priest goes to God on behalf of the people. And since Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, then He has the greatest opportunity to go to God on our behalf. Here is how I believe we should respond to the priesthood of Christ. First, we should approach God, through Christ for salvation. Second, we should approach God, through Christ, with confession of our sins. Third, we have the privilege of approaching God, through Christ, with our prayers and concerns. Fourth, we should approach God, through Christ, with the worship that He deserves.

Even though our sin disqualifies us from approaching God on our own, the sacrifice which Jesus offered of His own blood gives us the enourmous privilege of talking to God and being heard. Let's take advantage of our opportunities.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Church Assets

We have some accountants in our church. They can easily figure out what our church is worth financially. They would begin by adding up all of our assets, like our bank account balances and the value of our property. Then they would subtract our outstanding bills and the mortgage for our property. They could give us a very good picture of the financial wealth of our particular congregation.

But I was recently thinking of the things of value- the assets- that our congregation possesses. If we are realistic, we will recognize that the financial assets and property assets are actually the least of our wealth.

Our church is enourmously wealthy through the gift of the Triune God. We are children of God the Father. He has made us His heirs and blesses us with every spirtual blessing in Christ.

Through Christ we have forgiveness of sins and a relationship with God the Father. Christ also sent us the Holy Spirit who empowers us for service and illuminates our understanding of yet another gift- the Bible.

In addition, our congregation is rich in love for God and love for each other and love for the outside world. And we have a group of people who are actively serving. We have so many assets that a balance sheet full of numbers simply can't explain our true wealth.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Second Day of School

My daughter Nicole is in seventh grade this year ("grade seven" to you Canadians). On the first day of school she got up at 5:30 a.m. Even though she had just showered the night before, she took another shower to help her wake up. Keep in mind this is my same daughter who hates showers and hates mornings. Throughout the summer she stayed in bed as long as we would let her. One time this summer she complained when I dragged her out of bed at 11:00 a.m. because it was too early. But on the first day of school she was ready bright and early. She came to my bedroom to wake me up. I looked at the clock and told her that she needed to wait at least half an hour before I was going to help her put in her new contacts.

Along with the shower and contacts, preparing for the first day of school involved Nicole getting her hair done by Mom, packing a lunch, eating breakfast, and getting out to the bus very early. The bus driver called the week before to say that she would be picking Nicole up at 7:35. Since it was the same bus driver and the same route as last year, and since Nicole is the last person to be picked up, and since the school is right around corner from our house, and since last year the bus regularly picked her up at 7:50, and since the bus doesn't have to be at the school until 8:05- well, I kind of figured that we would have to wait a while. Of course we got out there at 7:30, but had to wait until 7:55 for the bus to arrive. Nevertheless, Nicole was ready and excited.

When Nicole was going to bed that night, I asked her what time she was going to get up for the second day of school. She said that she was going to get up at 5:30 again. I decided to check on her at 6:30. Guess what? She was still asleep and didn't appreciate having to get up.

Can anyone guess what morning three was like? You might actually be surprised.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Building Update

The Building Committee for Cottrell Corners Community Church in Old Bridge, NJ met last night. Be assured that good progress is being made.

We now know who the architect, site engineer, and builder will be. We have prices for the first two, and a good estimate from the builder. The exact price for the builder will have to wait until the architect does the prelimary drawings. The biggest piece of financial information that we are missing is the price of the site work- things like leveling the ground and paving a parking lot. We should have a very rough estimate for that work sometime next week.

The finances for the building are also progressing. The building fund is approaching $50,000. Another $18,000 has been pleged. And so far, the amounts of un-pledged money that have been given have been more than triple the amount of pledged money that has been given. The finance people on the committee will feel a lot more comfortable if another $50,000 to $100,000 were in the account (anybody have that sitting in their piggy bank or in a mattress?).

Ultimately, this building is a work of God. He must provide the right contractors for the right price. He must give us favor with the township in order to receive the permits. He must provide the finances. And He is the one that we are trying to bring glory to as we attempt this project. Please continue to pray with us that God will indeed be glorified as we pursue our campaign of "Building to Serve."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Playgrounds in Old Bridge, New Jersey

I have five children. They range in age from 5-11. One of the things that they all still enjoy is when I take them to a playground. So far, we have found four playgrounds in our community.

I decided to do the good "dad thing" and take the kids to the playground yesterday. One of the rules before we leave the house to go to a playground is that everyone goes to the bathroom first. (I've included the previous sentence as a piece of literary foreshadowing). The first playground we drove to was Mannino Park. This is a brand new playground in our community. There are new ballfields, a new playground, new dog run areas, and the new YMCA which opens this month is also on the property. We've been to this playground several times over the summer and we have always had the entire place to ourseves. The kids like this park because it is the only one we go to that has enough swings for all five of them to swing at the same time. When we arrived at Mannino Park yesterday it was obvious that our secret park had been revealed to the community. It was overrun with activity. It appeared that the clientele was mothers with 1 and 2 year old toddlers.

My kids didn't like their chances for the swings at Mannino Park, so they asked if we could try another place. Normally I might have encouraged them to make friends and learn to share, but earlier in the afternoon I had seen a park that I had not seen before and I was anxious to check it out. So I drove us over to Veterans Park- just a mile or two away. As we approached it was obvious that there was a shortage of swings and that the slides had a shortage of height. Upon closer inspection, my older children reported to me that there were bad words on the playground equipment. I might have been concerned about the boredom of the older kids; however, it was at this ponit that Charissa, the youngest of the bunch, informed me that she needed to use the restroom. This should not be a problem. We were right next to a building that appeared to be restrooms for the park. I took her over there, but all the doors were locked. But in the opposite direction there was another building. I think that it was on our walk to the second building that I asked Charissa why she had not gone to the bathroom before we left the house. Her response was that she had gone, but now she needed to go again. When we arrived at the second building I was relieved that it was labeled as restrooms. My daughter, however, did not get to be relieved, as this building was also securely locked.

We returned to the playground where the oldest children were playing on what little equipment was there- and to my older kids it really was "little" equipment. They were learning the hard way about sharing. I'm not sure that they were learning to share as much as displaying the selfish sin nature which they inherited from Adam. We stayed a little while later, at which time it became obvious from the "potty dance" that we needed to leave. It was at this time that I was mildly attacked by a swarm of bees. I just swatted them away, but Nicole (my oldest daughter) was pretty freaked out.

We piled back into the Suburban and headed home. But instead of heading home I decided that we could try a third park- a park where I know they have restrooms because I have taken children to those restrooms before. I drove us over to Geick Park (pronounce it as if it ryhmes with "like"). I parked in the parking lot that was closest to the bathrooms. The kids all got out of the car and they all headed down toward the restrooms. They ran ahead of me and came back to report the ominous news- these bathrooms were also locked. By the way, the "potty dance" was still taking place. I finally acknowledged defeat. I drove the children home. As we were pulling into the driveway my son Matt asked, "Daddy, after Charissa goes to the bathroom, can we go to a playground?"

How would you respond? What do you think I did?