Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yee Ha!

So last weekend, my son Zeke and I had such a great weekend together. Thanks for the many suggestions of fun stuff to do. We went rock throwing at Montana De Oro (more than once). We watched the skateboarders at the Los Osos Skate Park. We picked fruit at the Cal Poly U Pick. We went to the Cal Poly Men's Basketball Game. And we went and got a great tour at the Cal Poly Dairy.

Jay and Vivian Wheeler, are fairly new here at Grace and in the community. Jay is the new Cal Poly Dairy Manager. Great people. Huge job.

My Dutch heritage means that some of our extended family have been involved in dairy farming. But it's been awhile. It all came back to me last Saturday. The smell, but especially the work. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year something is happening on the dairy. Here are some fun facts:

• The Cal Poly Dairy is the only remaining milking dairy in the entire county.

• The Cal Poly Dairy is one of the premier university dairies on the West Coast and probably nationwide.

• The Cal Poly Dairy employs 30 part time employee students every quarter.

• On the Cal Poly Dairy, there are 250 cows that have to be milked twice daily. It takes 3 hours to milk all 250 cows. While the cows are not milked by hand, applying the milking machine and the other steps in the complicated process require a personal touch. It's not an automated process.

• Besides the milking cows, there's approximately another 200 to 250 cattle on the dairy, including calves born almost daily. The day before we were there, 3 calves were born.

Zeke loved walking around and touching the baby cows. It's beautiful out there. It's always valuable for me to get out and see the wide variety of callings that the people of Grace are involved in. It's pretty awesome living in a university town.

Meet the Wheelers and tell them you want to bring your family out to see the dairy. I'm sure you'll be welcome!

Monday, December 19, 2005 updates

Have you checked out the church website lately at We've recently added some new functionality to the menus which reduces the amount of clicking necessary to get where you need to go and greatly simplifies navigation. We've also added a sitemap link in the footer that lets you see an overview of the site. Finally, we've been creating a series of ministry-specific pages for college, youth and children's ministries.

Check it out and give us some feedback. What else would make the site more usable for you? What else would you like to see? What's missing?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Man Time"

Susie pulled off the major surprise this morning. Sage and Eden both have birthdays right around Christmas and it's always crazy trying to do parties in addition to all the other activities surrounding Christmas. So months ago she talked them into doing something besides parties this year, but she didn't tell them what it was going to be. She said she'd surprise them. So for months, working with her mom ("Bestemor" to the girls) and her sister Joni in Cincinnati, she planned a trip to the American Girl Store in Chicago, using frequent flyer miles.

She kept a good secret. She got the girls all the way to the SLO airport before they learned that they, (and not my assistant, Debbie Johnston) were the ones getting on the plane. But still she hasn't told them their ulimate destination. . . one piece at time. So I guess the girls are prety excited about their little adventure, as you can see from the pic above. Haaken, apparently, is ambivalent about spending a weekend with the ladies. Can't say that I blame him.

So . . . . I've rearranged my work hours a bit so that Zeke and I can have some serious "Man Time" between now and Sunday. I've been coming up with some things we can do. I'm thinking about the Farmer's Market on Thursday and his first Cal Poly basketball game on Friday. But I'm looking for some more ideas. Got any?

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Gospel Brings Reversal

Yesterday, we looked at Mary's Magnificat where we saw that the Christmas Gospel is Covenental. It brings Reversal. And it's Personal. (Message is now posted in all the usual places.)

Speaking of the reversal that the Gospel brings. . . have you heard about the recent coming to faith of Anne Rice, the auhor of Interview with a Vampire and other dark stuff for over 30 years? The Gospel is grabbing this lady and bringing a great reversal to her values, ambitions and life.

In contrast to Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code (which we mentioned a few posts ago) who mocks the historicity and reliability of the Gospel accounts, Anne Rice painstakingly examined the New Testament historical data and became convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

Here's an excerpt from a World Magazine article detailing Mrs. Rice's conversion entitled, Into the Light. . .

Mrs. Rice's research took her through the literature written by those she calls "the skeptical critics," beginning with the New Testament scholars of the Enlightenment. "I expected to discover that their arguments would be frighteningly strong, and that Christianity was, at heart, a kind of fraud," she writes in an author's note in her new book.

But she plowed on, "ready to risk everything," particularly her newly recovered faith: "The skeptical New Testament scholarship tries to prove to you that the Gospels don't hold up. It takes great fortitude to subject yourself to that kind of literature, to seriously take notes, to follow the arguments, to draw conclusions. You could come out destroyed." But she came out concluding that the skeptics were wrong, perpetrators and victims of some of the worst scholarship she'd ever seen, built with poor research and reasoning on a foundation that presumed the Gospels weren't true. . . .

She continued scouring the Gospels herself, not only to absorb the unfolding life of Christ, but to delve into the how of Christianity itself: "I could see that this was a great mystery. How could Christianity bust into the Roman Empire and take over the world in only 200 years? I was looking to see how this thing worked itself out, day by day, month by month, year by year." She came to understand that Christianity achieved what it did because Jesus rose from the dead: That was what made sense of Christianity's spread.

Understanding this, for Mrs. Rice, was a turning point, and there were others, such as the dawning in her mind of the Gospels' "unique coherence, their personalities—the inevitable stamp of individual authorship."

So where are you seeing Gospel reversal happen in your own life, in the lives of others or in the community?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Aslan is on the Move!

The long awaited first installment of Narnia opens today! Who's going? I'm not going to make it today, so leave some comments about what you thought. Can they really sustain this thing over seven years? It would a shame to see them make a couple and then quit.

Can I take my 8 year old Sage to see it? It would be a great one on one date. I know my brother is taking his 6 year old son, Kyle, but boys are different.

I read in World Magazine that the filmakers inserted a line at a crucial moment in the movie that wasn't in Lewis' original. The line was "It is finished!" Guy claims he didn't know the Biblical significance of that phrase. A happy providence!

Here's World's review!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Da Vinci Deception

I had a chance to finally read the Da Vinci Code a couple weeks ago over my vacation. The reason I made time to read this silly book is because this Spring The Da Vinci Code movie will be released and could cause quite a stir.

Every year the Central Coast Evangelical Pastor's Network tries to do something together to demonstrate our unity and to reach our community. A couple years back we all preached a series related to the Passion movie. Last year, we all did a series on Heaven rooted in Randy Alcorn's book. In 2006, we decided to do something related to answering questions that have arisen from the Da Vinci Code.

So, we've arranged to bring to the Central Coast Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who is the Senior Pastor at Moody Bible Church, outside of Chicago and the author of The Da Vinci Deception. Dr. Lutzer will be addressing misconceptions that arise from the Da Vinci Code regarding the reliability and historicity of the New Testament documents. He'll be speaking on three nights, once in the North County, once in the South County and once right here at Grace in downtown SLO. We hope and pray these evenings will be helpful in equipping believers to answer and address questions/issues raised by the Da Vinci Code book and movie.

By the way, I thought the book was a real page turner. Fun conspiracy theory stuff like the movie National Treasure. The scandalous chapter that directly challenges the historicity and reliability of the New Testament documents is chapter 55, but I guess there is an implicit challenge throughout. I thought Mr. Brown was just parrotting the standard higher criticism liberal intellectualism of most secular univesities. This is standard Jesus Seminar stuff that we see on the newstand periodicals every Christmas and Easter. Anyone who actually examines the historical data shouldn't fall for these lies. Dr. Lutzer should help us do just that.

I also have taught a series on the reliability of the New Testament documents. We'll post the written notes in PDF format soon on the website.

Anybody else read the book? What did you think?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

12.4.05 Message Now Posted

Sunday we looked at Gabriel's Good News in Luke 1:26-38 where we saw Mary's Surprise and Mary's Submission. We saw that Mary shows us how to respond to the Christmas Gospel. . . by Receiving, by Risking, by Resigning, by Reflecting and by Rejoicing. I've been trying to practice these responses this week, how about you?

Sunday's Message is now posted in all the usual places.

Someone emailed me and let me know they had a hard time locating the "Athanian Creed" on the internet. Sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant the Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed is one of the "Big Three" universal creeds embraced by most traditions of Christianity along with the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. The Athanasian Creed was not actually written by Athanasius (293-373), but was named after him because he was so zealous for the doctrine of the Trinity. The creed uses the word "catholic" which simply means "universal." This is not a word referring the Roman Catholic Church but the "church universal" which includes true believers in Jesus Christ in all places and times. Here, then, is the Athanasian Creed in its entirety for your SLOW meditation and devotion. The part I read on Sunday is bolded.

Why are creeds important? What doctrines is the Athanasian Creed trying to explain and protect? There is one line in particular that tends to raise questions for modern evangelical Christians. Can you figure out which one?

Athanasian Creed

Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith.

Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith:

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.

And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

Similarly, the Father is almighty,
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.

Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God,
the Holy Spirit is God.
Yet there are not three gods;
there is but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord,
the Son is Lord,
the Holy Spirit is Lord.
Yet there are not three lords;
there is but one Lord.

Just as Christian truth compels us
to confess each person individually
as both God and Lord,
so catholic religion forbids us
to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;
there is one Son, not three sons;
there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.

So in everything, as was said earlier,
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.

Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith:

That we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,
is both God and human, equally.

He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.

Although he is God and human,
yet Christ is not two, but one.

He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God's taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.
For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.

He suffered for our salvation;
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father's right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.