Monday, September 26, 2005

9/26/05 Monday Musings

• Yesterday was a great first 3 service Sunday, the climax of a long change-managagement process. I heard very little grumbling and everybody seemed to like it and were on board. We had about 800 between the three services which is nearly 100 more than our avaerage last Spring. Most of the increase were new college students, but there were several other new families as well. It was great to hear the choir again after their summer break. Nice to see some new faces up there. Adult Bible Fellowship Leaders reported new folks and faces in their classes. We had a great "College Pizza in the Park," with an estimated 150 out there. My voice is a bit hoarse today after preaching 3 and then shouting at the park. I'll get used to it! The morning moves really fast. I was exhausted but so wired I couldn't sleep during my nap. What was your experience yesterday? Any thoughts or feedback?

• We've been overwhelmed by the love and care shown to our family by the people of Grace during this season of our family's growth. How do folks who are not connected to a church family do it? I do not know. Two weeks of meals every other night is just so helpful. Susie felt warmly loved at her shower yesterday. May it not just be the pastor's family who is cared for in this way.

• Haaken was circumcised this morning by Dr. Bravo. It was man-time thing. Susie stayed in the waiting room, while I went in and held his hand and talked to him. It definitely hurt him more than it hurt me! Bravo and I talked theology a bit.. . . . under the Old Covenant, circumcision was meant to be an outward sign of an inward reality. . . circumcision of the heart. I hope and pray that my son's heart is cut (broken) before God!

• While at Bravo's office, one of the receptionists whom I had never met before said out of the blue, "I feel like I know you from reading your blog. I go to Calvary SLO, where Bryan Stupar pastors." I thought that was so cool that folks from Grace who read Life Together click over to Bryan's blog and vice versa. There is one Lord, one faith, one Church, one God and Father of all. Got to keep blogging.

• We are still trying to rebalance now that Haaken has joined the family. We definitely haven't figured it all out yet, but, so far, the transition from 3 to 4 has been way easier than the transition from 2 to 3. The kids are just loving him. I am trying to embrace the season and accept the chaos. Once again I am reminded of what a control freak I am. I am about ready to make my own doctor's appointment. The next one will have to be adopted.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Terrible and Beautiful

As I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my kids, I have been struck by how Clive always presents Aslan, the Christ-figure as wonderful and terrible. I thought of this when I saw these photos from Katrina. . ..

Monday, September 19, 2005

Who is that Wacky Guy?

Sunday's 2005 Fall Kick-Off at Mitchell Park was such fun. Someone spotted this nut slippin' & slidin'. I thought that thing was for kids?

Here are a few of my "take-aways" and I would love to hear yours. . . .

• Awesome to see the body of Christ at Grace work together as team! Our staff did a great job equipping the body for the work of ministry ala Eph. 4.

• The service was well organized and well timed. I can't believe we ran out of welcome bags! A good problem. Lots and lots of visitors. I hope you took the initiative to meet and welcome a few.

• Pastor Steve and the College Leadership did a good job getting the word out and inviting college students. Did you hear them shout? I understand they handed out 1000+ flyers at the WOW Week SLO Bound on Tuesday. The next three Sundays we'll be extending our welcome to college students with "Pizza in the Park." Be praying some stick around with us!

• Food was fantastic as usual thanks to Dede Leece and her amazing team. The House of Prayer BBQ team was responsible for the tasty chicken.

• Raffle was a big hit. Thanks to Jon & Noonie Fugler from K-Life for MCing all day. Tammy Riley rounded up all those prizes. Everybody wants an iPod. Thanks to Shane Williams, owner of the Mac Superstore and Grace congregant for donating the Grand Prize. If you didn't win it, go buy one!

• Kajabe Can-Can is an attention getter. Stand by and watch people get rocked. Next year, Ken is plotting a Pastor's Round. Yikes.

What was your experience yesterday? Positives? Negatives? Should we do it again next year?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Daniel Schorr's "Intelligent Design and Hard Times"

A commenter on an earlier post, entitled "How Unsearchable are His Judgements. . . .",asked about the source of Daniel Schorr's comments referenced by John Piper. I'm guessing it's this audio commentary. . .

NPR : 'Intelligent Design' and Hard Times

Sunday is the Big One!

My kids are talking all about this Sunday's Fall Kick-Off. Hope you're plannning to be there. Hope you're inviting others to join us. Here's the invite card and email I sent to the congregation earlier this week. . . .

Dear Grace Church Family,

We are just days away from our 2005 Fall Kick-Off this Sunday, September 18. THIS IS THE BIG ONE! Many thanks to all who have made reservations! IF BY CHANCE YOU HAVEN'T RSVP'D, BUT ARE PLANNING TO COME, PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL THE CHURCH OFFICE NOW! We are expectantly planning and praying for 1200 at our big day. It looks to be a great day together.

I thought a few reminders might be helpful. . . .

1. REMEMBER, our one outdoor worship service will begin at 10:00 AM! If you show up at 9:00, you will be happily put to work on last minute set-up details. If you arrive at 10:45, you will have missed most of the service. See you at 10:00!

2. PARKING: I want to encourage you to arrive early and park in the nearby city parking garage on the corner of Morro and Pacific streets. It's free on Sundays. It would be so neat to offer all nearby and available street parking and our parking lot to those from our community who join us as guests. What a great way to welcome and serve our visitors!

3. ARRIVAL: Upon arrival you will be met at our entrances by our Welcome Team who will fill out name tags for you as you walk to our seating area. Please help us by entering at the designated entry points. Guests will have red name tags, while regular attendees will be given gold.

4. SEATING: We have reserved 800 chairs. We're praying it's standing room only on Sunday! Please move as far to the middle and fill in any empty chairs in your row. There will be a designated area for families with young children who prefer to sit on the grass, but please bring your own blanket. Ushers will help seat you and offer you a worship folder for the morning which includes all songs and Scripture readings. Throughout the day be looking around you and warmly welcome any guests within your immediate vicinity. "Welcome to Grace" is a wonderful way to greet new faces! Introduce yourself and your family.

5. LUNCH: Lunch will be served at 11:30, immediately after we worship. Our commitment is to serve our guests first. Planning for food has been an enormous challenge. We have done the best we can, but in the event that we run out of food, we don't want any of our guests to not be fed. All guests will be given guest bags with a yellow meal ticket in them. They will be asked to fill out that ticket and present it for their free lunch. They will be given a raffle ticket to be placed in the raffle box for a chance to win the prize of their choice. (Don't worry, you'll get a ticket for raffle prizes, too! You're going to want to, because the prizes are incredible this year!) While you're waiting for your turn to eat, pick up your chair and bring it to the designated chair area. Also, be looking for, welcoming and helping guests find the food line.

6. FUN: Included in your worship folder will be a map of the park with fun zones clearly designated. Fun (volleyball, face painting, slip 'n slide, sumo wrestling, etc.) officially begins at 12:30 PM. Be listening to the K-Life folks as they make announcements and draw raffle tickets throughout the afternoon. Be looking for, meeting and greeting guests all through the afternoon!

• Be thinking of who you might still invite to join us. Follow up with those you have casually invited and ask them if they think they're going to make it. Are there a few friends and families that you could invite by email? At the bottom of this message we've included of a sample email you might send to friend or two. If you don't like what we've written, create your own message. The title of my message is "Jesus, a New and Living Way" from Hebrews 10:19-25. I will be talking about how the Gospel is all about a new way to approach God, a new way to view and experience the world and a new way to relate and live with others. This Sunday will introduce our Fall Vision series that will focus on Gospel community. . . . who we are and who we're becoming. Let's model true Gospel community this Sunday!

• Pray like crazy in advance of Sunday, that we would be salt and light in our little world. That we would be the church, all that God intends. That God would work among us and through us. That we would faithfully and joyfully celebrate, proclaim and live out the Good News of Jesus Christ. That our Great God would exalt His Name!

One final thought. . . .in the midst of all this excitement and hard work, let's remember it's not by might, not by power, but by God's Spirit that folks are won to Christ. Let's abide in Jesus the true vine. Let's be faithful to do our part and expend ourselves for the glory of our gracious God. Let's make it clear that Jesus is a new and living way! I'll see you on Sunday. I can't wait. . . .

Because of the Gospel. . . Pastor Tim

How Unsearchable are His Judgements. . . .

I've been offline for some time now, first trying to prepare for the baby and now trying to rebalance after the baby, but my mind and heart have been active as I have been watching the devasting impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Last night our Elders read another great article from World Magazine, written, not surprisingly, by John Piper, entitled Who Answers to Whom? I think it's so worth reading, that I have quoted it in full here for your consideration.

Do you believe that God is ever and always judging and that His judgement is mingled with His mercy? What difference does a God-centered view of the universe make in a natural disaster? Are we prepared to give an answer like this to those around us who are asking for explanations?

Read it. . . . think about it. . .. . respond to it.

Who answers to Whom?
The faulty levee of human virtue vs. the high ground of Calvary | by John Piper

On his 89th birthday (Aug. 31) NPR Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr observed that President George Bush had "staked out a non-position" on the debate between evolution and intelligent design by saying that "both sides ought to be properly taught in the schools of America." Then, with manifest scorn, Mr. Schorr linked the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the concept of intelligent design: "[Bush] might well have reflected that, if this was the result of intelligent design, then the designer has something to answer for."

No, Mr. Schorr, you have something to answer for, not God. God answers to no man. Come, Daniel Schorr, take your place with Job and answer your Maker: "The Lord answered Job [and Schorr] out of the whirlwind and said: 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. . . . Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed'?" (Job 38:1-3, 8-11).

Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Shall the pot say to the Potter, "This is an unintelligent way to show your justice and your power? Come, Maker of heaven and earth, sit at my feet—I have lived 89 years and have gotten much wisdom—and I will teach you—the eternal God—how to govern the universe?"

No. Rather let us put our hands on our mouths and weep both for the perishing and for ourselves who will soon follow. Whatever judgment has fallen, it is we who deserve it—all of us. And whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we nor they deserve.

God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of Christ's suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve Katrina—all of us.

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can't see the intelligence in God's design, but that we can't see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they've never committed any.

But God commits no crimes when He brings famine, flood, and pestilence on the earth. "Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?" (Amos 3:6). The answer of the prophet is no. God's own testimony is the same: "I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). And if we ask, is there intelligent design in it all, the Bible answers: "You meant evil . . . but God meant it [designed it] for good" (Genesis 50:20).

This will always be ludicrous to those who put the life of man above the glory of God. Until our hearts are broken, not just for the life-destroying misery of human pain, but for the God-insulting rebellion of human sin, we will not see intelligent design in the way God mingles mercy and judgment in this world. But those who bow before God's sovereign grace and say, "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever," are able to affirm, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!" (Romans 11:36, 33).

And wisdom is another name for intelligent design.

No, Daniel Schorr, God does not answer to us. We answer to Him. And we have only one answer: "Guilty as charged." Every mouth is stopped and the whole world is accountable before God. There is only one hope to escape the flood of God's wrath. It is not the levee of human virtue but the high ground called Calvary. All brokenhearted looters and news analysts and pastors are welcome there

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Haaken Case Theule

Born at 8:30 PM on Thursday, September 8th
8 lbs, 3 oz., 20.5 inches long

After some early complications, mom and boy are doing well and should be coming home tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers!

We are giving thanks and rejoicing in God's goodness and grace!

He's such a handsome dude.