Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Do you get the weekly Praying Together email?

Faithful Gordon Wong coordinates and distributes a weekly prayer letter called "Praying Together." (Sounds like spin-off of "life together" to me!)

Are you on his list? Do you want to be? To receive "Praying Together" weekly email, all you have to do is fire Gordon an email right now at

Here are three requests I sent to Gordon this afternoon. Will you pray with me?

• Please pray for the upcoming 4th of July picnic. There are 460 signed up so far. Pray that the day will be warm and welcoming for new folks, friends and guests. Pray for the preparation and coordination, that we will serve one another will joy!

• Please pray for the upcoming Family Conference in July. Pray that marriages and families will be strengthened. Pray for our speaker, Dan Haakenson, Dori, the elective teachers and for the million details.

• Begin praying now for the Fall at Grace as we anticipate many changes related to the move to 3 services. Pray that the Lord will go before in the preparation of His people for change. Pray that we would see this change as a positive that brings great opportunities, rather than a negative that takes things away. Pray for vision, faith, unity, flexibility and self-sacrifice. In other words, pray we will live the Gospel!

Pastor Bryan Stupar enters the Blogosphere!

UPDATE: Fixed the broken link to Bryan's Blog. Thanks Tom!

I had such an encouraging time at coffee this morning with Bryan Stupar, the senior pastor at CalvarySLO. I always come away encouraged and challenged when I spend time with Bryan. I think those are the marks of a true friend. We are fellow-laborers in the Lord's field! I jokingly call Bryan the "hip pastor" here in SLO. (I am so not hip compared to Bryan!)

I was telling Bryan about my blogging and challenged him to start his own blog. My vision is to see a whole swarm of pastors blogging here on the Central Coast. It looks like he's taken up the challenge. One down, 100+ to go!

So do me a favor, and click over to Bryan's blog at and leave him an encouraging and welcoming comment. Tell him I sent you!

I have added Bryan's blog to my blogroll on the right.

More Thoughts on Human Responsibility & Divine Sovereignty

Do you read the "comments" of life together? Do you know how to read "comments?" At the bottom of each post is a comments counter, which if you click it, will let you read the comments of others. Also, whenever someone leaves a comment, I get an email that includes the comment. Its really quite nifty!

A guy named Kevin left what I thought was a very insightful comment about last week's message on an earlier post. I thought it was so valuable that I wanted to make sure all who are reading along saw it.

I really enjoyed the sermon yesterday -- I liked how the mystery was left intact while still focusing each group in on what should be their focus and application. I think that's so important because all too often we get caught up in focusing on "the other person's" message and that's where the problems come in. It's kind of like with the marriage stuff in Ephesians. It's probably best if husbands never read the section written to wives and vice versa!

I thnk Kevin is right, we need to read our own mail. Fascination and exploration of the EXPLANATION can sometimes distract us from the APPLICATION of a Biblical text.

One more thing I mentioned in the message, but I've been thinking more about. . . . if our belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation kills, squelches, or in anyway diminishes our passion and commitment to evangelism, then we don't yet understand the Gospel of God's grace. Those who have experienced God's grace should be most eager to share it. The Apostle Paul is our great example here, who was willing to endure all things because he was certain of God's sovereign and saving grace. . . .

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. --2 Timothy 10

Finally, here's an additional thought from J.I. Packer. . . .

The sovereignty of God in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism. Some fear that belief in the sovereign grace of God leads to the conclusion that evangelism is pointless, since God will save His elect anyway, whether they hear the gospel or not. . . . .the truth is just the opposite. So far from making evangelism pointless, the sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless. For it creates the possibility -- indeed the certainty -- that evangelism will be fruitful. Apart from it, there is not even the possibility of evangelism being fruitful. Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel. (Packer, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, p. 106)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New iTunes 4.9 with built in Podcasting!

I know that I'm not the only one whose interested in this podcasting thing. I know of at least two others here at Grace. But maybe that will change today. (And maybe it won't!)

Apple just released iTunes 4.9 (which has podcasting (really podcatching) capabiilities built righ in. What this means is that you now you can access and subscribe to a growing list of 3000 podcasts using the podcast button in the iTunes interface. The latest version of iTunes is a FREE download available for Windows and the Mac.

So, I just downloaded the new iTunes, went to the podcast area and punched "Grace Church, San Luis Obispo" into the search field on the left side and BINGO!. . . . the Grace Church Sermon Podcast, entitled "Living the Gospel," popped right up! How cool is that?!

If you are still lost on this whole podcasting thing, maybe Apple can explain it better than I can. Here's a page that explains the coolness of podcasting . . . Apple - iTunes - Podcasting

Have fun and let me know how if you find and subscribe to the Grace Podcast, "Living the Gospel." Let me know what other valuable and interesting podcasts you discover!

Monday, June 27, 2005

6.26.05 Message Now Posted!

Yesterday, we looked at Matthew 13:10-17: "Why does Jesus speak in Parables?" The text threw us into the ineffable mystery and Scriptural tension between our human responsibility in responding to the Gospel and God's sovereignty in saving spiritually dead sinners.

If we are outside the door of the Kingdom, the doctrine of human responsibilty ought to move us to respond in faith to Jesus' invitations to Himself. Come in the door!

If we are already inside the door of the Kingdom, the doctrine of God's sovereignty ought to move us to gratitude, praise and worship for God's sovereign and free grace which saves. Realize how you got in the door!

Anyway, rich practical doctrine for all. An "eat your vegetables" text and message.

Those of you who are still thinking about and struggling with these issues (I am!) and want to study some more, may be interested in a study I wrote/taught a few years back entitled, "Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God." (I took the title from a J.I. Packer book of the same title which I quote throughout the study.) The six part study is available in PDF format, along with a growing list of other written resources on our website at. . .

• If you want to listen to this week's message now, just. . . Click Here!

• If you want to "pull" the message from the website, go to. . . Connecting - Grace Church, San Luis Obispo.

• If you want this message and future messages "pushed" to you each week, subscribe to the podcast using podcast software (ipodder, etc) and this link. . .

This coming week. . . Matthew 13:24-32, 36-43: The Wheat & the Weeds

Monday Fun Day

Since it's a Monday, how about some fun? Have you seen this Honda commercial? It will blow your mind. . .

Click Here!

No CGI or trick photography. It took 606 takes to get it right!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Source & Mission's Blogs coming Alive!

I'm pleased to see the Grace College blog, The Source, coming alive again as Pastor Steve finds his feet and jumps in.

Also, Tom Phillips, the new Grace Mission's Board chairman, is resurrecting the GraceSLO Mission's Blog. His post today is an invite to a DWAP or Dessert with a Purpose where you can meet Mike Grainger and hear what God is doing in and through his ministry with the Navigators in the Ivory Coast. (Maybe that should be DWAM: Dessert with a Missionary)

Check 'em out!

Thoughts on Family Worship, Part 3

How about some weekend reading on this issue of Family Worship? While we continue to dialogue on this issue, let me keep you going thinking about it. . . .

1. Children & Congregational Worship: This is an article written by my good friend, David Hegg, who was last year's Family Conference speaker. David has thought alot about this issue, and I like his balanced and practical approach. David's article is available on the Grace website at

2. Bethlehem Baptist/John Piper Resources: It's easy for me to get "under the pile" when I look at some of the great materials John Piper and his team at Bethlehem Baptist have put together. I must remind myself that he's been at it there at Bethlehem for over 20 years. It takes time to develop this ministry philosophy stuff. Anyway they have put some excellent materials together on this issue of Family Worship. Check them out at

Here are a couple that I think are especially valuable. . . .


Suggestions for Helping Your Child Worship

Intergenerational teaching: Is it a nuisance or a blessing?

The Family: Together in God's Presence

I don't want to overwhelm you, so I'll stop there. Next week, I'll talk about Family Worship and 3 services and a few other issues.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Thoughts on Family Worship, Part 2

Pastor Al recently forwarded a great little article entitled "It Takes a Congregation. . . .to Nurture the Children" by Steve Burger, the Director of Children & Family Ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church. (The article doesn't seem to be available online, but I have emailed Mr. Burger to see if he might let us post an electronic copy on the GraceSLO website. Still waiting to hear from him.)

Anyway, the article was insightful and instructive. Steve affirms these important Scriptural truths about children that lay a foundation for why we at Grace are committed to encouraging Family Worship that welcomes children in worship services. . .

• Children are welcome in God's kingdom (Mt. 18:2-5, Mk. 9:36-37, Lk. 18:15-17). Ought not they to be welcome in worship?

• Children are gift from God (Psalm 127:3). Let's enjoy God's gift!

• Children reflect how we come to God and enter the kingdom (Lk. 18:16). Let's let them model this!

• The Word of God is for children (Deut. 31:10-13).

• The promse of the Gospel is for children (Acts 2:38-39).

• We are called to teach children God's Word (Ps. 78:5-7, Prov. 22:6).

• Parents and the entire faith community (church) are called to be spiritual mentors (Deut. 6:4-9, Prov. 1:8, Eph. 6:1-4, Ti. 1:6, Col. 3:21, I Thes. 2:11-12). Let's be faithful to the task.

A couple of great paragraphs from the article. . . .

Our culture which permeates our churches, is permeated by ideas like these:
• Children should be seen, not heard (or even, Children should be neither seen nor heard).
• Children are a burden (or an embarassment).
• Children are OK as long as I don't have to deal with them.
• Children would be okay if they just grew up and acted like adults.

Even if these thoughts are not spoken aloud, they are often expressed in concrete ways. Children are excluded from worship and other functions of the church simply because they are children. Why? Because it makes attending church easier, or more meaningful, or less distracting for adults. But where is it ever written in God's Word that these are legitimate reasons for excluding children.

Childen are agents of God's unconditional love. Children have a propensity to love God and others without question. Their love for parents is so profound that even in the midst of abuse they continually seek to both love and receive love from the very ones who are hurting them. Likewise, children give parents and the entire church community an opportunity to love unconditionally. Nurturing children toward deepening faith requires a great deal of energy, patience, grace, and ultimately unconditional love. This is both a challenge and a blessing.

First Corinthians 12:14-22 makes it clear that the church is one body made up of many parts. All of these parts are needed, all are chosen by God. Moreover, even those parts that seem to be the weakest are indispensable. The church loses out when we exclude children (the weakest members) from worship. Conversely, when we include children in worship we are blessed by their presence, spontaneity, receptivity, enthusiasm, and self-giving love. And we are blessed by their expressions of thanksgiving, hope and love.

Including children in worship also fosters in worshippers a deeper relationship with God that provides a sense of relatedness to the body of Christ. It communicates acceptance that children are an important part of the body, helps children understand the importance their parents and other significant adults attach to their faith, and enables them to participate in worship and the sacraments.

Inclusive worship runs counter to the direction the church has been headed in the last few generations. . . . Its true that multi-generational worship services require more time and effort to prepare. . . . Nevertheless, worship services that separate children from the gathered body of Christ convey a message to congregations and to the broader community. Because whom and what we choose to exclude from our worship says as much about our community of faith as whom and what we choose to include. Our willingness to wrestle with the commands of God and the challenges of nurturing children to faith within the context of multi-generational worship will bring spiritual blessing not only to children but to the whole church as well.

Amen and amen. At Grace, we are committed to both "age/stage" and "integrated" learning and worship. Not "either/or" but "both/and." As we move forward, our aim is to continue to facilitate settings that cultivate both.

I am eager to hear your thoughts and process. Let's keep the dialogue going. . . .Pastor Tim

Congratulations to Josh & Christine Erdman

New baby Erdman, Nathan Bradley, was born to parents, Josh & Christine and brother Jacob, yesterday morning, June 21 at 9:50 AM.

7lbs. 3 oz, 19.5 inches, and very healthy.

No epidural from what I hear. Josh is calling his wife "superwoman!"

We welcome this new gift from God to our Grace Family!

Behold, children are a gift from the Lord. . . --Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Thoughts on Family Worship, part 1

I have on my desk right now some pencil sketches from three precious little girls in our congregation. They were handed to me after our worship services a couple weeks back when I preached a message from Matthew 12:38-50, entitled "Greater than Jonah."

These girls, ages 6-8, were in the worship service, sitting quietly and drawing, but also listening to the message quite well, as evidenced from their insightful drawings. They drew pictures of Jonah going to the Ninevites and the Ninevites repenting and being saved. There was even one goofy picture of me preaching.

These pictures are dear to me and reminder that its valuable and instructive for children to be worshipping with parents in worship. They aren't getting it all, but they're getting some of it.

More than what is being "taught" is what is being "caught" when we include children in worship. We are affirming the importance of multigenerational worship and affirming the role/place of children in our community of faith. Including children in worship isn't necessarily easy or convenient for harried parents, nor is it the trend in most churches. Adult worship is an acquired taste and most kids won't like or enjoy it at first. But what kids (and parents) want is not necessarily what they need.

We are committed to encouraging (not forcing) family worship here at Grace. In future posts, I'll lay the biblical foundation for family worship and let you know how we'll continue to affirm families worshipping together as we move toward 3 services this Fall.

In the meantime, share with me your thoughts on this matter and the challenges/obstacles you face in moving toward family worship. . . .

Monday, June 20, 2005

Summer Update for GraceSLO Missionaries

Below is a letter I wrote to our extended missionary family. . . something I try to do every couple of months or so in an attempt to keep them tied into all that's happening here at Grace. . . . .--Pastor Tim

Beloved Grace Church Missionaries,

As Summer emerges here in beautiful San Luis Obispo, I am thinking about you all and realizing its been a while since I have dropped you an update. It's been a fantastic and fast Spring. God is at work in our midst and in our community.

Rather than tell you all the details, I thought the most valuable thing I could do is to send you our 25 page 2005 Annual Report, presented at our 2005 Annual Meeting a couple weeks back on May 22. It was a great evening together, where we looked back on God's faithfulness to His people and His work here at Grace. But it was also a time to look forward by faith to what God might be pleased to do in and through us in 05/06. You all are a valuable part of the Grace Church Family. Therefore, it is important that you know where we're headed! I encourage you to take 45 minutes or so to sit down and read the 2005 Annual Report thoroughly! As you do, you might also find it helpful to listen to the audio from the meeting at . . .

To do so click here

I also wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of an important change in our leadership that particularly pertains to you, our extended family of missionaries. After years of faithful service, Tim Cleath has stepped down from the chair of the Grace Missions Board, but will be continuing as an invaluable part of the board in the future. We give thanks for Tim's leadership and passion for the spread of the Gospel around the world.

We are pleased to introduce to you our new Missions Board Chairman, Tom Phillips. Tom, his wife, Paula, and their children Daniel and Sarah, have lived here on the Central Coast for 9 years or so. Tom works in the area of commercial property development and management. Tom and Paula together have been instrumental in starting the vibrant Heritage Builders Adult Bible Fellowship, which meets on Sunday Mornings. Paula serves as our part time Graphic Designer here on our staff. For the past 2 years, Tom has served on the Finance Trustee Board, where he has exhibited a unique knack for administration, but also an unmistakable passion for missions. We're excited about the gifts, skills, experience, and ideas that Tom will bring to the position of Missions Chair.

I commend Tom to you and have encouraged him to reach out and email you all directly. Welcome and encourage Tom when you hear from him.

We are committed to you here at Grace. We are eager to know you and serve you better. We want you to know that we are more committed than ever to our mission of celebrating, proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ here on the Central Coast and beyond (thats you!).

If you are going to be here on the Central Coast at all this summer, please let us know, so we can make arrangements to serve you with transportation, hospitality, service opportunities and fellowship gatherings.

As always, we welcome your feedback and questions. Feel free, at any time, to email me directly or the Missions Board at

We give thanks for you!

Yours for the cause of Christ. . . . Pastor Tim

Tim Theule
Lead Pastor
Grace Church, SLO


6/19/05 Sermon Audio Now Posted

We're getting quicker at posting sermons. Our goal is to post them by 12:30 on Sunday afternoon. We're not there yet.

The audio for this week's message, the Parable of the Soils from Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 is now posted at. . .

The podcast feed has also been updated and is ready for sync at. . .



Father's Day Ramblings

• We had 13 in our home all weekend. Amy & Steve, Susie's sister and brother-in-law, and their four kids, plus Bestefar and Bestemor (Norwegian for g'pa & g'ma). Crazy but fun. We went boating at Naciimiento on Friday, bikeriding and swimming on Saturday and to the park for a BBQ on Father's Day. The cousins have a great time together.

• The reality of working on most holiday weekends hit me this weekend. Part of the gig.

• Mexico send-off is always encouraging to the body. Be praying for those 130 folks who are celebrating, proclaiming and living the gospel beyond the Central Coast this week.

• Child dedications are always a joy. We dedicated 6 on Sunday. Encourage them when you have the opportunity.

• Parables in Matthew 13 are fun. They invite us to think and help us to remember. We jumped into the Parable of the Soils this week.

• If you were out of town, we missed you. Hope you had a great weekend with your loved ones.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Congratulations to Brian Kay

On Sunday evening, our family had a chance to swing by a party for Brian Kay, the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) here in SLO, who recently earned his PhD. from Bristol University. Brian donned his new colorful robe and cap for us all. Nice duds!

It was encouraging to mix and mingle with another "arm" of the body of Christ here on the Central Coast. What a young, hip church!

Brian is a such a neat guy. In addition to pastoring Trinity, he also teaches classes at Poly and Cuesta. He and his wife, Sally, have a beautiful little girl named Willa. He and I have discovered that we drink from many of the same "troughs." We just don't get the chance to spend enough time together.

Congratulations, Brian . . . . A significant accomplishment!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Recommendation: Mars Hill Audio Journal

We are what we read and what we listen to. One of the very best learning resources that I "intake" is called the Mars Hill Audio Journal ( The Journal is a bimonthly audio magazine which focusses on the interface and integration between Christ and contemporary culture. Each volume features 10 - 15 minute interviews with a wide variety of authors, scholars and thinkers. The Journal ALWAYS makes me think, synthesize and reflect. It also regularly adds to my "books I will read" list. (Long list!) I can't wait for the CD to come every other month. I usually rip the CD's and put the tracks on my iPod and then listen while I'm riding my bike up San Luis Mountain or hiking Bishop's Peak.

Is anyone else familiar with the Mars Hill Audio Journal?

I just received Volume 73 in the mail. A few years back, I boldly purchased all back issues and now have the complete set. I have decided that I am going to donate my complete collection of Mars Hill Audio Journal to the Grace Church Library, so that others here at Grace can enjoy them as much as I have. It will probably take a few weeks for the "library ladies" to get them on the shelf, but check them out when you have a chance.

What do you think of their awesome introduction?

MARS HILL AUDIO exists to assist Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of modern culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement.

We believe that fulfilling the commands to love God and neighbor requires that we pay careful attention to the neighborhood: that is, every sphere of human life where God is either glorified or despised, where neighbors are either edified or undermined. Therefore, living as disciples of Christ pertains not just to prayer, evangelism, and Bible study, but also our enjoyment of literature and music, our use of tools and machines, our eating and drinking, our views on government and economics, and so on.

We endeavor to encourage the sensibilities and habits of thoughtful cultural engagement through creative audio resources that we produce at our studio in rural central Virginia. Our primary resource is a bimonthly series of audio programs called the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal. Each program is ninety minutes long, consisting of ten- to fifteen-minute interviews with a variety of guests on a broad array of topics. The MARS HILL AUDIO Journal is currently available on cassette tape for $36 per year, or on CD for $48 per year.

Really, what do you think of that?

Monday, June 13, 2005

6/12/05 Sermon Audio Now Posted

The audio for this weeks message, "Greater than Jonah," is now posted at. . .

The podcast feed has also been updated and is ready for sync at. . .



Reflections on Sunday, 6/12/05

• Sundays' message on Matthew 12:38-50 was a full helping of truth, wasn't it? I looked hard for a way to trim it down a bit, but just couldn't find a way. One of the big questions I always ask when I approach a text is "Why is this here?" I thought that was an even more important question with this particulur text where it wasn't immediately apparent how the three sections fit together. Sometimes you have to "sit" in that question a while. I think its been valuable to take a little larger piece of text each week as we have been doing, because it forces us to ask this question and look at the larger context. Its been a great challenge and delight for me personally. Message will be posted on the website and podcast by early tomorrow for those of you who missed it.

• Communion was, as always, sweet. Seeing and savoring Jesus at the table. I am so glad we partake together once a month in our Sunday morning services. (Do you know how rare this is becoming? More and more, communion is being relegated to midweek services in many churches. Not intended as a criticism, just an observation :))

• I expected a lighter Sunday, with Cal Poly out for the year, but we sure looked pretty full to me. Also, I met at least 5 new families on Sunday. How many did you meet? Who are all these people and where are they coming from? Will they stick around? How do we help them find places to connect and serve. I don't know all the answers, but I do know we've got to work at it together. We've got to continue to lift up our heads and keep reaching out to new folks and faces. Make it your goal to meet at least one new family or individual each Sunday.

What were your thoughts/reflections from Sunday?

People of Grace living the Gospel

Our vision (the "WHAT") at Grace is to see lives, families, our community, and the world transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our mission (the "HOW") at Grace is to celebrate, proclaim and live the Gospel on the Central Coast and beyond.

We fulfill our vision and mission when we gather and when we scatter. We celebrate, proclaim and live the Gospel when we invest in our marriages and families, when we vibrantly love and sacrifice for our neighbors, when live as infomed and active citizens, and when we do our occupational callings with diligence, integrity, passion and excellence. Living the Gospel is a life-encompassing practice and exercise.

That's why I have been so encouraged to see so many Grace folks in the news in recent days. . .

• Dan Matthias was honored as the 2005 Teacher of the Year by the Atascadero School District. Dan also keeps our Grace tech ministry alive and properly functioning, while his wife, Linda, runs the Grace kitchen. Here's an article.. . . .

Atascadero News Online

• Ron Hamley was honored as the San Luis Obispo High School 2005 Teacher of the Year. Ron also teaches our Living Stones Adult Bible Fellowship, while his wife, Cyndie, is actively involved in our Women's Minsitry. Ron looks a little young to be retiring in a few days. (I couldn't find a web article on this one. Help, Cyndie?)

• Dr. Dan Woods was just featured on the front page of the Tribune for his performance of a cutting edge new "Minimally Invasive Surgery that has patients walking the day after knee replacement surgery. Dan and his wife, Leslie, are active with our Youth Ministry. Leslie heads up our Interior Design Team. Here's the article. . . .


• Brett Jones and his coffee house, the Nautical Bean, were also recently featured in a Tribune article because of their excellent food, great coffee and great environment. Brett and his wife, Kristen, have two little ones and have been active in our Growth Group ministry. The Tribune article is archived already and only available for a cost, but check out the Nautical Bean website..

Each of these folks is living the Gospel by doing what they do as well as they can for the glory of God and the good of others. And there are so many more folks doing the same. This is what its all about. Salt and light. Keep it up and to God be the Glory!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sunday Preview: Matthew 12:38-50

Sometimes I look back on our worship and message, but this week, I thought it might be valuable for us to look forward.

Read and meditate on the text, Matthew 12:38-50. Reading the book of Jonah and I Kings 10 would also be valuable. Then review and think in advance about our outline.

A saving relationship with Jesus Christ gives us. . . . .


1. The Pharisees understood the Bible as a book of rules they must
and could keep to earn God’s salvation and blessing.

2. Those who trust Jesus understand the Bible as a book all about
salvation by grace through Jesus, why we need Him, who He is,
what He did, how He saves, and what that means.


1. The Pharisees refused to repent when they met Jesus and his
numerous signs and miracles. They refused to turn from sin and self
to Jesus.

2. Those who trust Jesus are driven to repentance, they see
themselves as more sinful than they ever before imagined, but more
loved than they ever dared hope. In brokenness, they turn from
themselves and their sin toward Jesus.


1. The Pharisees believed they themselves were wise and they could
not see the wisdom of God in the person and work of Jesus. They
were repulsed by Him instead of attracted to Him.

2. Those who trust Jesus become like the Queen of the South. They
are willing to do anything and go anywhere for the chance to sit at
the feet of Jesus and learn from Him, the greater Solomon.


1. The Pharisees refused to bow to the authority of Jesus. They were
obsessed with right moral living, but insisted on leading self-directed

2. Those who trust Jesus bow to the Sovereign Lordship of Jesus, who
in time, brings transformation from the inside out.


1. The Pharisees thought they were in the family of God because of
their pedigree and their obedience, but they were really out of the
family because of their refusal to repent and trust Jesus.

2. Those who trust Jesus “do” the will of God the Father, and therefore
come into an entirely new family relationship with Jesus. Ongoing
obedience is the “fruit” of that “family connection” with Jesus.

It's a communion Sunday and it's never to early to start examining and preparing yourself. I'm looking forward to our sweet time TOGETHER. See you then!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hymnals & Pew Bibles, Part 7

Based on the lackluster response to my last post, either few of you are doing any family reading OR few of you are even reading "life together" any more. But I will plow on. . . .

I know that the folks of Grace are interested and passionate about Hymnals & Pew Bibles since that series generated the most response of any series to date. Some of you have been asking, "What's up with the pew Bibles? Which version and when?"

My goal was to get the Bibles ordered before the end of the fiscal year, May 31, 2005. After a long struggle, much research and much discussion, I was ready to jump to the English Standard Version, having concluded it was an excellent word-for-word translation, but generally considered more readable than the NAS. (Why is a word-for-word translation important? Start here!) Given our ongoing desire to be "missional", this was the unanimous recommendation of our ministry staff.

Just before placing the order, I thought it might be wise to run the decison by the elders one more time. Boy, I'm glad I did! We had discussed the issue at a much earlier meeting and I had come away with the impression that they were fine with whatever the ministry staff recommended. Not so.

Quite a firestorm ensued. As it turns out, several of the others had never even heard of the ESV. (I guess they aren't reading "life together"?) Some were concerned we were hopping on the ESV bandwagon too early. Others were concerned the the congregation was going to be confused with three versions in front of them (NIV in pews, NAS used in services and now the ESV?).

Anyway, we had a fantastic discussion and came to a unified decision and what I think is a great compromise. We are getting good at spirited, open, honest discussions that lead to unified decisions. I love these men and watching them work and God work. So here's what we came up with. . . .

1. We will purchase NAS pew Bibles now, though not as many as we had planned to purhase. We will explain why we chose the NAS at the present time.

2. We will also introduce the ESV as an emerging translation that we are watching with interest and curiousity. We will encourage the congregation to join us in the exploration process. We will share the possibility of moving to the ESV down the road.

3. As a way of exploring the ESV together as a congregation, we will begin using the ESV on certain occasions, in certain places in the worship service (for example in the call to worship, where the Scripture is printed and/or projected).

4. All readings where folks have their Bibles open, will be done from the NAS with referenced page numbers. Yahoo!

5. Oh yeah, we will leave a few hymnals in the pews for the time being. (Some of you are going to be really happy with that decision!)

I think this is a good compromise, because it takes one version (NIV) out of the picture for now. It also gets us on same page now and eliminates the discontinuity that currently exists in our services. But it also leaves us room to keep exploring this issue and sets the table for possible change down the road at a later date.

We hope to order NAS pew Bibles in the next week or so.

So what do you think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Family Reading this Summer

Without a television pipeline into the house (no cable, no reception), one of the things our family has gotten into is "family reading." It doesn't happen every night, but several nights a week we sit down in the living room and read for a half hour or so. Susie and I take turns reading, depending on which one of us is most tired. Lots of fun and lots of snuggling. Among the books we've read together over the last year or so are these. . . .

• The Little House on the Prarie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
• The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
• The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
• Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

(Bunch of girls stuff, huh? Even Dad has enjoyed it all! Don't tell anyone.)

So last night we finally started the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. We didn't start with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but with The Magician's Nephew, which is the true beginning of the story. Those girls loved it and can't get enough.

I am sure most of you have heard about Disney's Chronicles of Narnia film project. We were hoping to get through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by the time the movie is released around Christmas, but I am not sure the movies are going to be suitable for a 9 year old and 7 year old. We'll have to see. But they do look like they are going to be well done!

So what is your family reading this summer?

Podcasting, Part 2

Ok, so there are few, if any, of you out there listening to Podcasts, but let me offer a step by step process for you, just in case you happen to be interested, but don't know how to get started. Whether or not you take your audio on the road using an mp3 player, this should work for you if you use iTunes. Remember what this all about. . . .this is a way for you to subscribe to GraceSLO sermons (and other podcasts) rather than have to download them every week. It's a "push" model, instead of a "pull" model.

Step #1: Find a free podasting aggregator software application (Doppler and ipodder are two of the most popular.)

Step #2: Go to "Add a Podcast" and enter the GraceSLO Podcast web address: Add any other podcast feeds that you want.

Step #3: Sync up your mp3 player OR go to iTunes and search for your new MP3 files. Each time you sync with your aggregator software, it will automatically download the latest MP3 podcast to your iTunes or player. Listen and enjoy.

Here's an article which gives a general introduction to podcasting. . . .

Playlist: Podcasting: Hear What the Buzz Is About

Let me know how it goes. . . .

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

GraceSLO Sermons Podcast Now Available

Who uses an iPod or other MP3 player out there? If you do, are you familiar with podasting?

Podcasting is the latest self-serve audio publishing craze. Instead of going to websites to download mp3 files, mp3 files come to you throught a podcast aggregator. In other words, instead of going to the GraceSLO website each week to give that sermon a second listen (you do this, right?), that sermon would automatically be downloaded to your MP3 player the next time you synced to your computer.

Anyway, if you know what I am talking about, you'll be interested to know that we have just created a podcast for the preaching ministry at Grace Church, SLO at. . .

Just punch that link into your aggregator like iPodderX. Let me know how it works. (Note: I know that the GraceSLO podcast does not work with Pod2Go at this point, though we're not sure why.)

More on podcasting later. But for now, I want to know who listens to podcasts? I know Gordon Wong does. He's the one who asked if we were going to podcast GraceSLO sermons. Thanks for the help, Gordon.

Monday, June 06, 2005

2005 Annual Meeting Audio now posted

Audio of the 2005 Annual Meeting is now posted at

I have lots I want to post, but no time to do it right now.

Things on my mind include. . .

• Sunday Sermon Thoughts: some additional thoughts about Jesus, the Pharisees and us.

• Lord of Rest, part 4 or so: Why Sunday and not Saturday?

• Update on Pew Bibles & Hymnals: Decisions have been made by the Elders!

• Humble Apologetics: Some thoughts from this book I have been reading.

• Heavenly Man: Some thoughts from this book about the church in China that I have been reading.

• What's happening with Growth Groups this summer and next fall?

• Three Services: some thoughts and some questions for you

And lots, lots more. . .

Oh well. Each day has enough trouble of its own. If the Lord wills, we will go there and post here.

Hope you are living by faith in our Lord Jesus today!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Listen Along

For your information, I have just added a "listen to latest sermons" link on the right column of "life together" for easy access to the sermon that is posted each Tuesday morning. Often I make post-sermon comments about the last Sunday's message here. So now you can just click over and hear for yourself!

Also, in case you haven't noticed, I have added a "site feed" link for those who read all your favorite blogs using an aggregator. I hope these things are helpful. Your suggestions are always welcome.

Encouraging Email of the Month

Below is the kind of email that makes my day. . . .week. . . . month! This person understands some of the unique features of Grace that we are pursuing together. She gets it.

Good job, Al, in the area of worship. Good job, Ken & staff, in the youth area. Good job to all for continuing to show hospitality to outsiders.

I pass it on to the congregation at Grace via "life together" for the express purpose of encouraging your hearts and to remind us all that our efforts to create a warm welcome here at Grace make a huge difference in the experience of those who visit. We are doing well in this area, but can excel still more. Our ministry is a team effort and every single piece matters. Together the parts make up a cohesive and compelling whole. Every detail matters. Every conversation in the court yard counts. I hope this feedback motivates you as it does myself. Let's empty ourselves out for the sake of the Gospel and good of others (Phil. 2).

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. --Psalm 115:1.

Dear Members of Grace Church Staff,

I have recently returned to SLO with my family after 25 years away. I grew up in this area and attended Grace Church before heading off to college and beyond. Much has changed, both in the campus and personnel! We have lived all over the country, and have visited many churches as we searched for a church home in each place. We finally made it over to Grace a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share what a great experience we all had. The first visit, my husband, and our 3 kids who are still at home, went to the 9:00 service. It was wonderful. Not only was the music beautiful, it wasn't amplified to the degree that we needed to use the earplugs we've learned to carry with us to church services. We really appreciate that! We also enjoyed the sermon which was solidly Bible-based. Then, we were greeted by several people who a) noticed that we were there and were new, and b) seemed genuinely friendly and warm. I'm sorry to report that this is exceptional among churches we've visited, even in this area. The next visit (this past Sunday), our kids, (13, 15, and 17), visited the Jr. High/High School Sunday school. I was afraid I would hear the usual report: "the kids are unruly and disrespectful to the leaders", "no one said hello to us - it seems they all have their cliques", "the leader was trying to be 'one of the gang' and didn't have anything of substance to say", "the music was so loud it hurt our ears", etc. My kids are used to real Bible study (at home, BSF, through Christian schools they attended in another city, etc.) and have been uniformly disappointed that the youth programs at other churches were so weak. Not at Grace! They came home enthusiastically telling us about the message Mr. Peet had prepared, said the kids in the group were welcoming, and that this was only a subset of the usual group because of a church related outing for the older students. The only thing that was not 100% positive was that the music/voices were amplified a bit too much in a room they felt no microphones/amps were needed. But this is a minor point and something for which we usually come prepared (see above). Obviously, the kids, staff, and members at Grace take reaching out seriously and are doing that beautifully.

I want to commend and thank you for an introduction to your church that fills me with a sense of relief that we have FINALLY found a place that can be our church home, and where our kids feel comfortable and welcome among the established youth. It is clear that all this is "business as usual" at Grace, and is a great blessing to us.

Let's not grow weary! --Pastor Tim

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lord of Rest, take 3

Here's the Marva Dawn book I recommended at the tail end of Sunday's sermon. . . .

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting

Doesn't the cover alone make you want to read it?

Has anyone else read Marva Dawn? What have you read? I have enjoyed much of what I've sampled. I think she would make an excellent Women's Conference speaker here at Grace. Anyone listening?

Lord of Rest, take 2

I think much about how we, the church, are to be a "peculiar people," set apart to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter. 2:9).

What does this mean? What does it look like?

Historically, I think we (or maybe it's just me) have understood that in moralistic terms. . . .a Christian is one who doesn't smoke, drink or dance and doesn't go with girls who do (How does that crazy saying go?).

But this is too easy, too mechanistic. This is a pharisaic, legalistic approach.

True spirituality is more sublime, more nuanced. I think whollistically learning to enter God's rhythm of work and rest, not in a legalistic way, but in a thoughtful, intentional contemplative manner is one way we can be a "peculiar people" in our day. This is one way we can resist conformity to the world and its harried, hurried striving, but instead to transformed by God's Word in the Gospel.

Have we really found rest from the internal machine of self-justification through the cross of Jesus where He was made infinitely restless for us? If we have, shouldn't the Gospel be working itself out in the way we order our lives?

The Gospel establishes our true rest and draws us toward the practice of rest. But we need practice. Our tendency and temptation will be to legalize it and over-structure it and then impose our approach on everyone else around us. Let us resist.

Practicing sabbath rest, entering into God's rhythm, (learning to rely on God's grace, learning to respond to God's grace and learning to be restored by God's grace) seems to me to be a powerful and counter-cultural way to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us .

Don't you think?