Monday, February 27, 2006

Congratulations to the Heldts!

Kevin & Brianna Heldt have just returned from Ethiopia where they picked up their two new boys, Isaiah Biniam and Ezra Yosef. It was awesome to see them bouncing in the back during the 11:00 AM service! Welcome home and congratulations!

These guys are my heroes! They are so going for it.

Glad they've started a blog. Check it out at

what God has joined together

Yesterday we looked at Matthew 19:1-12 together. . . one of the BIG marriage/divorce passages in the Scriptures. (Audio Posted Here!)

Those tough texts just keep coming. Jesus definitely rachets it up here in the second half of Matthew. I've received many encouraging emails on this Monday morning. It's evident that people are hungry to hear God's Word.

But I feel tension in a message like yesterday's for these reasons:

  • because of the wide spectrum of folks present on a Sunday morning. . . married, single, divorced, bereaved, young, etc. It's a continual challenge to speak to such a broad audience.
  • because of the breadth and depth of the subject. It's impossible to teach exhaustively on this topic in 40 minutes (I'm shooting for 35!). Yet, we're trying to get through Matthew! I can't do mini-series on every topic that comes up. It's simply impossible to address every scenario.
  • because of my desire to be true to the Biblical text and rightly divide it, yet at the same time be pastoral, gentle and apply the grace of the Gospel to hurting people and hard-hearted people.

Anyway, all of this is part of my "back-end" experience. The Lord knows!

I received one email that asked a question that I knew would be asked and that I wish I would've had time to address in the message. Here's a snippet...

Hi Pastor Tim,

I've really been enjoying the Matthew Series, even if it has been going my entire college career! :o) I just had a few questions about the sermon on marriage and divorce. Does the bible say anything about physical abuse, or what are your opinions? Is it biblical for a woman who is being physically abused, to divorce her husband? I have an aunt who is kind of using this argument to stay in the relationship. I was just wondering about your thoughts on it. Great sermon, even for us youngens!

And my response...
The case of physical abuse is such a sad situation. A woman should not stay in a setting where she is being physically abused or is in harm's way. However, she need not rush to divorce either. My counsel to a woman in that situation would be to separate from her husband until he sought professional help for his physical aggression and repented for his sin toward the Lord and toward her. This may push him to divorce her. If so, based on I Corinthians 7:15, then she is free. On the other hand, this may be part of what God uses to soften his heart toward her. Along the way, the woman should keep her own heart soft toward the Lord and toward her husband. Its possible that this situation might persist for years, in which case I would encourage a legal separation, so that the abused wife is financially protected and can go about the other dimensions of her life.

I know a woman in our church who has taken just such an approach and the Lord used it in a mighty way to bring reconciliation and healing to her marriage. I think this approach has application in a wide variety of other situations as well.

I hope that's helpful. I don't have it all figured out, but I think this approach is in line with and a good application of the Scriptures.
This is real life. We want to be true to the Scriptures and wise in our application of them. It's hardly ever easy. Hope this is helpful for others dealing with similar situations.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

God @ Work in Growth Groups

Here are some very encouraging testimonies of God @ work in Growth Groups from our Growth Group Leaders. Are you in a Growth Group yet? If not, why not?

College girls want to go deeper with other college girls and with their God. This is evidenced by how they want to pray with one another and hold up one another. Recently they held me up (their leader) as they graciously wanted to hear me tell the story of my Dad’s death. I cried, they cried. The closeness was indescribable. The group ministered to me. This wasn’t fully planned.

The Lord is moving among the men on our group (college men) gradually, but continually. I can see the Lord get a hold of their hearts. I believe the guys will reveal their hearts more in the coming months – more & more comfortable with each other.

My group has just really expressed a gratitude for being in the presence of other believers. One out of 7 girls has grown up in a Christian home and has Christian roommates while the rest became believers in college and have non-believing roommates. They just expressed that they feel like they’re with a Christian family.

We were blessed in our group by being able to pray for, encourage and lighten the burden of one of our members with a serious physical need. Even though she intended to not come first and then intended to not share, once she did come, we were all blessed to be able to minister to her!

A couple who felt “disconnected” from Grace church is now in their second growth group. They are connecting with people in the group and, as a result, are feeling a part of the church!

As a leader-getting to know your people well enough to know how to change a questions so that a quiet person will want to answer. God is allowing me and other believers in our group to be genuinely transparent enough to draw in the one non -believer and make him feel relaxed.

We are seeing life change in our growth group that is increasing from week to week. The life change is evident to all!

Mutual care is taking place. Others in the group are inquiring about someone in the group they were concerned about. A retired couple who had attended another church in SLO for 35 years and had never attended a small group before. The wife said “I feel as though I have been re-born”

God has forged a safe, loving environment that is encouraging transparency and honest sharing. For two older women members, it could be their only such sharing of the week.

I’m beginning to understand the value and blessing of community.

It is really cool watching people connecting with each other. Just getting 10-12 people together gives opportunity for love to be shown in words and deeds. I have seen one-on-one conversations where someone’s need was being met and this had nothing to do with my leading.

It is encouraging to me to see the whole spectrum of maturity of faith in our growth group. We have a new believer as well as others mature in their faith. The interaction is wonderful to watch and encourage.

Our Growth Group has enabled an intimacy to develop within our group. Specifically when we share during our prayer time, I have been blessed in knowing that person (who had shared) that much more.

Each week, relationships are continually developing/growing in a spiritual “church body” centered way.

Those not attending a Sunday School class get connected on a deeper level with fellow believers.

There are two couples in our growth group that are older and serve at the core of Grace Church. At first I felt intimidated but now I am greatly enjoying their fellowship and their example. I am feeling more challenged in my faith, to give more of myself to God. I am thankful to have Christian brothers and sisters that I can look up to.

We are “rallying” around one another. Perhaps to say that we are bearing one another’s burdens, not only in prayer but physically is a better way to put it. “Can I do this for you?” “How can we help you?”…that sort of thing. We are a family. The Lord is making us a family.

"Evening with the Elders" . . . Thoughts

Its been almost 2 weeks since our "Evening with Elders" and I haven't posted about it. I wanted to make sure I did.

The PowerPoint Presentation and Audio from the evening are available here.

(The PowerPoint Presentation requires PowerPoint in order to view. On the audio, it sounds like the "record" button was pushed a little late. First 10 minutes or so seems to be missing, but I think it's still worth listening to.)

The Evening with the Elders was a great evening with 250 or so in attendance, but it didn't unfold quite like we had planned and hoped. We really intended to have more time with Elders sharing and fielding questions, but we also needed to share other important vision info related to the Annex Renewal Project. All that to say, we probably tried to do too much.

It's very clear that the congregation is eager to get to know the Elders. That's an encouraging thing for us. Our commitment is to try and do one or two "Evenings with the Elders" per year. We're kind of thinking about Fall and Winter, with our Annual Business Meeting in May/June. So stay tuned. We'll take another crack at it!

Your feedback on the evening is welcome! Hope you get a chance to review the PowerPoint Presentation if you missed it. It contains vital info and some fun facts about God's work at Grace that you really won't hear/see anywhere else.

Free Parking!, Part 2

Sure enough! Here's the parking article in today's tribune!
San Luis Obispo Tribune 02/23/2006 Parking meters still get Sundays off, but decision will cost SLO $162,000

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Free Parking!

The parking initiative to charge for metered parking on Sundays that went before the SLO city council DID NOT PASS last night. Yahoo! You heard it here at "life together" first.

Our own business administrator, Kathy Borland, was one of 18 who offered public comment to the council last night. Thanks, Kathy, for your hard work and active involvement on this issue.

Though it wouldn't have been the end of the world if we had to start paying for parking or walking from the nearby structure, it's a blessing that we won't have to for the near future at least. So give thanks to the Lord!

Here's the article from Sunday's Tribune, in case you missed it. I expect there will be a follow-up article in tomorrow's paper!

San Luis Obispo Tribune 02/19/2006 Meters' day of rest threatened

Snow Getaway

Last weekend our family had a chance to getaway to Shaver Lake for the weekend. We arrived on Saturday afternoon to 10 inches of fresh snow. It dumped another 8 inches or so the next day. Cabin where we stayed had a sliding/sledding track right outside the door. Couldn't have been a better set-up for our family!

I had to buy and install chains. Give me a holler if anyone wants to borrow them. (I've been thinking we need to set-up a Grace Borrow/Barter network. Who wants to take on that project?)

I heard Pastor Ken did a great job on Sunday. Thanks, Ken!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"End of the Spear" playing in SLO

I've heard from multiple people now that "End of the Spear" is playing this week at the Downtown Cinemas here in SLO. Each of these folks has recommended the film strongly. Don't know about taking the little ones. We need to support these quality films produced by Christian film makers. Hopefully it will make it past Friday. Check it out.

If you've seen it, share a take.

I remember reading "Through the Gates of Splendor" as a high school student. God used it along with Bruchko, Peace Child and other missionary stories to nudge me toward ministry. I'd recommend all these books.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How is God using Growth Groups?

Help me out. As I prepare for our Evening with the Elders, one of the things I'm looking for is 4 or 5 Growth Group testimonies from folks involved in a Growth Group.
How has God used the Growth Groups to grow you spiritually?
Why are you committed to your Growth Group?
What's happening in your Growth Group?
Why should others commit to a Growth Group?

So give God the glory and encourage others in the body by sending me an email or leaving a comment about your Growth Group experience. It would be a big help!

Monday, February 06, 2006

February 12th "Evening with the Elders"

I hope you're planning on joining us this Sunday evening, February 12th for our "Evening with Elders." Our agenda will focus on three areas. . .

1. Where have we seen God at work among us in 2005?
2. How are we trusting Him in 2006?
3. Questions & Answers for the Elders

We hope the evening has a fun and casual feel, where we gather and just have a good time connecting. We really don't want this to be the typical business meeting, but more a celebration of all that God is doing here at Grace.

I've been a little disappointed to see the negative tone of some of the worship tab questions for the Elders from yesterday's service. I suppose we ask for it when we open it up like this, but it's discouraging to learn what some people are really stewing on. (One question we received was, "Has the egos of the Elders clouded the true mission of Christ?" Unsigned of course. Nice to walk into that on a Monday morning!)

We didn't receive very many questions, so I wanted to invite you "Life Together" readers to submit a few questions, either through the comments forum or via email. Just sign them, please!

How was the 2006 Grace Women's Conference?

I'd love to hear about the 2006 Grace Women's Conference from some gals who attended. I really didn't hear much at all yesterday.

How was it?
What did you learn?
How many were there?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Join us at Campus by the Sea

I've been asked to speak at the Campus by the Sea Family Camp on Catalina Island the week of June 25-July 1. The theme of the camp is "Find Us Faithful" centered in the book of Joshua.

Our family is looking forward to it. It would be nice to see some familiar faces in the audience, so why don't some of you come along? Doesn't a week on the backside of Catalina Island sound relaxing? Check out the Campus by the Sea: Family Camp 2006 website for a bit more info. But if you're really interested, you'll have to call 310.510.0015 and request a brochure.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

time to play. . . now time to pay


That last post was supposed to be posted on Monday night. Today's Wednesday. We got back last night about 10:30. What a great group of guys. What a great time to play. Now it's time to pay!

The picture was taken at the top of the mountain. Yesterday was unbelievable. As good as it gets. Boarding through the trees in fresh powder all day. Now it's time to dig out!