Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Blessed Family

One of our greatest blessings of 2006 was having the opportunity to spend a week out at Family Camp out at Catalina's Campus by the Sea. Looks like registration is now open for this summer.

Campus by the Sea: Family Camp 2007 - InterVarsity.org

I know of at least one family from Grace who's joining us for our week, June 24-30. It would be great to have some others. If you can't make our week, do another week. This year's theme is "The Blessed Family" based on Psalm 1. I'm confident you will be!

We can't wait!

Ever heard of William Wilberforce?

"How many people at Grace have ever heard the name, 'William Wilberforce?"

Pastor Steve asked that question as we were chatting a few minutes ago.

You've heard about John Newton. Now it's time to learn something about William Wilberforce and about the relationship between the two men.

John Newton will be featured as a character in an upcoming movie, set to be released February 23rd, entitled, "Amazing Grace" about the story of William Wilberforce and his fight against the English slave trade. John Newton was a primary influence on Wilberforce, believing that Wilberforce was called and sent by God for the purpose of bringing down the slave trade in England. I hope the movie shows the transforming power of of a Gospel-centered worldview.

Amazing Grace: The Official Movie Website

Here's the trailer. . .

Newton's voice to speak to the issue of slavery came from personal experience as both a slave trader and as a slave. His story is nothing short of extradinary. Maybe Amazing Grace The Movie will bring this out, but until then, read about his story here .

HT: Gordon Wong

Monday, January 29, 2007

help with the podcast

Something's gone haywire with the podcast and I can't get the messages posted to iTunes. I am trying to unravel this mess. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Any podcasting/iTunes experts out there that might have some suggestions?

Blasted Gourds

Yesterday's message wrapped up our series in Jonah. In the message I referenced John Newton's 1779 hymn, "I asked the Lord that I Might Grow" one of two hymns he wrote about Jonah's plant.

Several folks requested a copy of the hymn as well as the closing Sinclair Ferguson quote. So here they are and as an added bonus for you "life together" readers, I've tossed in the second Newton "Gourd" hymn.

First the Ferguson quote with a little more tossed in that wouldn't fit on one PPT slide . . .

The book of Jonah carries no conclusion because it summons us to write the final paragaph. It remains unfinished, in order that we may provide our own conclusion to its message. For you are Jonah; I am Jonah. We recognize ourselves in the story of this man’s life. We stand together in need of the mercy of God to enable us, from this day on to be obedient to his commands, and to live to the praise of His glorious grace.
I Asked the Lord that I might Grow by John Newton (1779)
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.
’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
Newton's second "Gourd" song, reminds us of our tendency to make idols of the Lord's gifts and forget the Giver. It is actually titled, "The Gourd" . . .

As once for Jonah, so the Lord
To soothe and cheer my mournful hours,
Prepared for me a pleasing gourd,
Cool was its shade, and sweet its flow'rs.

To prize his gift was surely right;
But through the folly of my heart,
It hid the Giver from my sight,
And soon my joy was changed to smart.

While I admired its beauteous form,
Its pleasant shade and graceful fruit;
The Lord, displeased, sent forth a worm,
Unseen, to prey upon the root.

I trembled when I saw it fade,
But guilt restrained the murm'ring word;
My folly I confessed, and prayed,
Forgive my sin, and spare my gourd.

His wondrous love can ne'er be told,
He heard me and relieved my pain;
His word the threat'ning worm controlled,
And bid my gourd revive again.

Now, Lord, my gourd is mine no more,
'Tis thine, who only couldst it raise;
The idol of my heart before,
Henceforth shall flourish to thy praise.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Choosing Tomorrow

Yesterday's post featured several books by Nigel Cameron. Nigel is a committed evangelical Christian, but also a significant player in the fields of bioethics and emerging technologies.

Here's a brief bio . . .

Nigel Cameron is Director of the Center on Nanotechnology and Society at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and President of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future. His chief interest lies in the implications of emerging technologies for policy and human values. He is a member of the United States National Commission for UNESCO, and of the advisory boards of the Converging Technologies Bar Association, the Nano Law and Business Journal, and 2020Health (UK). Cameron has been Scholar-in-Residence at UBS Wolfsberg, and given expert testimony to committees of the US Congress and the European Parliament. He has been a featured speaker at the Aspen Ideas Festival and the World Healthcare Innovation and Technology Congress. His co-edited book, Nanoscale: Issues and Perspectives for the Nano Century, is in press with John Wiley, and he is currently working on his next book Choosing Tomorrow.
I just discovered that Cameron has started a blog called ChoosingTomorrow. It's obvious that Cameron is trying to create a platform for cultural engagement. His faith is not in the forefront of his blog, but rather informs completely how he sees the world. (I've added it to my blogroll on the right.)

As I referenced, I have heard Nigel speak about these areas on Mars Hill Audio Journal, of which he is a frequent guest. (You can hear him, too, by checking out some Mars Hill CDs from the church library!) The guy is always informative and challenging.

To give you a feel for Cameron's blog, here's a great sample post, entitled "The Death of Down's Syndrome (People)", which relates to much of what I said in last Sunday's message. This stuff is real and I'm not making it up . . .
A striking op-ed in the Washington Post offers a chilling comment on the eugenicism that continues to drive uses of pre-natal (and indeed pre-implantation) testing. Patricia Bauer's sad reflection on the new recommendation that every pregnant woman be "screened" for Down's is potent not least for its setting this discussion outside the parameters of the "pro-life v. pro-choice" context in which it is more typically found. I shall just let her speak for herself:

The ACOG news release notes that the recommendations are based on consistent scientific evidence and will allow obstetricians and gynecologists to best meet their patients' needs. Until now, women 35 or older were automatically offered genetic testing for Down syndrome; under the new guidelines, less invasive and earlier screening options will be extended much more broadly.

What's gone undiscussed in the news coverage of the guidelines seems to be a general assumption that reasonable people would want to screen for Down syndrome. And since nothing can be done to mitigate the effects of an extra 21st chromosome in utero, the further assumption is that people would be reasonable to terminate pregnancies that are so diagnosed.

Certainly, these recommendations will have the effect of accelerating a weeding out of fetuses with Down syndrome that is well underway. There's an estimated 85 to 90 percent termination rate among prenatally diagnosed cases of Down syndrome in this country. With universal screening, the number of terminations will rise. Early screening will allow people to terminate earlier in their pregnancies when it's safer and when their medical status may be unapparent to friends and colleagues.

I understand that some people very much want this, but I have to ask: Why? Among the reasons, I believe, is a fundamental societal misperception that the lives of people with intellectual disabilities have no value -- that less able somehow equates to less worthy. Like the woman in the park, we're assigning one trait more importance than all the others and making critical decisions based on that judgment.

In so doing, we're causing a broad social effect. We're embarking on the elimination of an entire class of people who have a history of oppression, discrimination and exclusion.
Tell me that's not scary and so sad.

Finally, here's some audio of Cameron for your listening pleasure. . . .

Therapeutic Cloning: Why we need a global ban?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thirteen Bioethics Books

Lifted fom Bill Muehlenberg's blog, "Culture Watch", here's a list of Top Twelve Bioethics Books plus a brand new one at the top of the list that I've heard a bunch about.

  1. Cameron, Nigel and Tada, Joni Erickson, How to be a Christian in a Brave New World, Zondervan, 2006.

  2. Cameron, Nigel de S., The New Medicine: Life and Death After Hippocrates. Crossway, 2001.

  3. Cameron, Nigel de S., ed., Bioengagement. Eerdmans, 2000.

  4. Colson, Charles and Nigel de S. Cameron, eds., Human Dignity in the Biotech Century. InterVarsity Press, 2004.

  5. Foreman, Mark, Christianity and Bioethics. College Press Publishing, 1999.

  6. Kass, Leon, Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. Encounter Books, 2002.

  7. Kass, Leon, Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs. The Free Press, 1985.

  8. Kilner, John, et.al, eds., Cutting-Edge Bioethics. Eerdmans 2002.

  9. Meilander, Gilbert, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Eerdmans, 1996.

  10. Peterson, James, Genetic Turning Points. Eerdmans, 2001.

  11. Rae, Scott and Paul Cox, Bioethics. Eerdmans, 1999.

  12. Smith, Wesley, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World. Encounter Books, 2004.

  13. Wyatt, John, Matters of Life and Death. InterVarsity Press, 1998.

I don't know much about Bill, but I do know several of these books and recognize some of the other authors, so I feel pretty confident in referring you to the whole list.

On #1, #2, #3 and #4. I have listened to Nigel Cameron on this subject on Mars Hill Audio Journal and have been challenged by his thoughts. Colson is always good.

#9 I have in cassette tape format. I'll try and put it in the church library. I think Pastor Steve mentioned it also on the college blog this week.

#11 Both these guys are professors at Talbot School of Theology, the seminary I attended. I called Scott Rae to speak on Sanctity of Life Sunday, but he was unavailable. Another time.

How about reading just one in 2007? I'd recommend #1 as a starting point.

in the womb

In last Sunday's message focussed on the Sanctity of Life, I mentioned the use of ultrasound machines in helping convince undecided mothers to keep their babies.

Matt Esswein, one of our bright, passionate college students sent me this referral to Colson's Breakpoint Ministry which did a spot yesterday on the Sanctity of Life which touches on in the womb viewing technology and refers to a new National Geographic resource entitled "In the Womb."

It's just a couple of minutes long and worth a listen/read. (Thanks, Matt!)

Here's the audio version. Publish

Here's the text version. (In case you're at work and can't listen!)

Here's a teaser paragraph.. . .

Today, thirty-four years after Roe v. Wade, we can see into the womb with detail that was unimaginable in 1973. Now, 3-D and 4-D scans—scans that literally piece together images to show a baby in motion in the womb—have brought the miracle of life into new focus. In the Womb author, Peter Tallack, calls this new technology the medical equivalent of the Hubble Space Telescope. And the images it zooms in on during the odyssey of pregnancy may change the minds of women contemplating abortion and ordinary men and women who have not reflected deeply on abortion’s horrors.

Thanks, Dr. Ferguson

In the course of my study of the book of Jonah, I kept running across references to Sinclair Ferguson's commentary entitled, "Man Overboard."

I've always really enjoyed Sinclair Ferguson's preaching and writing. He's a Scotsman who pastored at St. George's Tron in Glasgow for many years, but is now pastoring the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

I decided to purchase "Man Overboard," only to discover it had been out of print for more than 25 years. Then I decided to try and find a used copy. Surely someone somewhere on the internet would have a used copy for sale. No luck. So then I checked with all my mentors who all value and collect classic commentaries. Nope. Pretty soon, they were all searching for it, too. I had my assistant, Debbie Johnston, start calling some of the great theological bookstores throughout the country. Nothing.

I had kind of given up hope in finding it, when Debbie came to me and said, "I have a surprise for you! I located Sinclair Ferguson on the internet and I took the initiative to email him directly to see if he could help us get a copy of this book. I just received an email from his assistant saying that they'd photocopy the book and send it to you."

I received the book yesterday. How cool is that? Thanks, Debbie. You are amazing. Thanks, Dr. Ferguson. You are so gracious.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Pastoral Thoughts

I had an opportunity recently to serve on a credentialling team which was responsible to examine a local pastor seeking a ministerial license. I love this kind of stuff. It's a joy to see and hear from those who God is calling to the ministry.

As we began, the chair of the council, Dave Sotelo, shared this great quote from John Calvin reminding us all of our call to ministry and all that involves. . .

Let the pastors boldly dare all things
by the Word of God,
of which they are constituted administrators.
Let them constrain all the power, glory,
and excellence of the world
to give place to and to obey
the divine majesty of this Word.
Let them enjoin everyone by it,
from the highest to the lowest.
Let them edify the body of Christ.
Let them devastate Satan's reign.
Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves,
instruct and exhort the rebellious.
Let them bind and loose,
thunder and lightening, if necessary,
but let them do all according to the Word of God.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

must-see wife appreciation dinner promo

Josh Ernstrom and the gang are at it again . . .this time they've created a promo for the upcoming annual Wife Appreciation Dinner on Saturday, February 17. Hope you can make it.

The Sunday before, February 11, we are also pleased to have Paul and Virginia Friesen here for a special evening of marriage enrichment. The Friesens are the couple who have run the Family Camp out at Campus By the Sea on Catalina Island that I spoke at last summer. Susie and I fell in love with them immediately and have been wanting to have them do something at Grace. Two of their daughters, Lisa and Julie, live here in SLO and attend Grace.

Make a commitment to invest in your marriage with us here at Grace that Valentines week. Both events are designed to build and grow your most important relationship.

The video is so well done and very funny. You can find more of their shorts at youtube. Here's a sneak preview for you "life together" readers:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

are you sick?

Pete Secord sent me this memorable quote from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity in response to Sunday's message on Jonah 3. Good stuff.

God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger – according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.

……Christianity simply does not make sense until you have faced the sort of facts I have been describing. Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power – it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. When you have realized that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about.

…They tell you how the demands of this moral law, which you and I cannot meet, have been met on our behalf, how God Himself becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Puritan Prayer #6: A Pastor's Prayer

This one is personal and powerful for me on this and every Monday.

Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in Thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear Thy Word,
that seed sown in weakness may be raised in power;
Cause me and those that hear me
to behold Thee here in the light of special faith,
and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
and help me to experience the power of Thy dying love,
for Thy blood is balm,
Thy presence bliss,
Thy smile heaven,
Thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragements of my ministry
and keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions, infirmities,
as a man, as a minister;
Command Thy blessing on my weak, unworthy labours,
and on the message of salvation given;
Stay with Thy people,
and may Thy presence be their portion and mine.
When I preach to others let not my words be merely elegant and
my reasoning polished and refined,
my performance powerless and tasteless,
but may I exalt Thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
all hearts are in Thy hands, all events at Thy disposal,
set the seal of thy almighty will upon my ministry.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Puritan Prayer #5: Power by My Frailty

I bolded my favorite lines in this one . . . good thoughts on a Saturday evening.

I know that I often do thy work without thy power,
and sin by my dead, heartless, blind service,
my lack of inward light, love, delight,
my mind, heart, tongue moving without thy help.
I see sin in my heart in seeking the approbiation of others;
This is my vileness, to make men's opinion my rule, whereas
I should see what good I have done,
and give thee glory,
consider what sin I have committed and mourn for that.
It is my deceit to preach, and pray,
and to stir up others' spiritual affections
in order to beget commendations,
whereas my rule should be daily to consider myself more vile
than any man in my own eyes.
But thou dost show thy power by my frailty,
so that the more feeble I am, the more fit to be used,
for thou dost pitch a tent of grace in my weakness.
Help me to rejoice in my infirmities and give thee praise,
to acknowledge my deficiencies before others
and not be discouraged by them,
that they may see thy glory more clearly.
Teach me that I must act by a power supenatural,
whereby I can attempt things above my strength,
and bear evils beyond my strength,
acting for Christ in all, and
having his superior power to help me.
Let me learn of Paul
whose presence was mean,
his weakness great,
his utterance contemptible,
yet thou didst account him faithful and blessed.
Lord, let me lean on thee as he did,
and find my ministry thine.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Puritan Prayer #4: For Renewal

help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there my be
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervour in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the workd,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
what can be found only in the creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Puritan Prayer #3: Vain Service

Are you praying? If you are, don't let up. If you're not, it's not too late to start. Immerse yourself in Jonah and pray the text. Cry out to the Lord. Be broken before Him. Pray though the circumstances of your life. Bare your soul to Him.

Forgive me for serving thee in sinful ways-
by glorying in my own strength,
by forcing myself to minister through necessity,
by accepting the applause of others,
by trusting in assumed grace and spiritual affection,
by a faith that rests upon my hold on Christ, not on him
by having another foundation to stand upon beside thee;
for thus I make flesh my arm.
Help me to see
that it is faith stirred by grace that does the deed,
that faith brings a man nearer to thee,
raising him above mere man,
that thou dost act upon the soul when thus elevated
and lifted out of itself,
that faith centres in thee as God all-sufficient,
Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
as God efficient,
mediately, as in thy commands and promises,
immediately, in all the hidden power
that faith sees and knows to be in thee,
abundantly, with omnipotent effect,
in the revelation of thy will.
If I have not such faith I am nothing.

It is my duty to set thee above all others in mind and eye;
But it is my sin that I place myself above thee.
Lord, it is the special evil of sin
that every breach of thy law arises
from contempt of thy person,
from despising thee and thy glory,
from preferring things before thee.
Help me to abhor myself in comparison of thee,
and keep me in a faith that works by love, and serves by grace.

Tarshish . . . the edge of the world

Rona Lee who has been serving as a nanny for a missionary family all Fall (I think with Mission Nannys) sent me an email that included the following paragraph. . .

I'm just returning from a few days on the Mediterranean coast of Spain where we visited the city of Tarragona, which many believe is the ancient city of Tarshish, so I was fascinated to see that you have started a 4-week series on the book of Jonah. Lord willing I'll be in SLO to hear your last two messages in the series.
Isn't that awesome? She's listening over the internet from Spain where she recently visited Tarshish. How cool is that? The world is flat.

Rona also sent this great background info on the city of Tarshish. . . not sure where she dug it up. For the sake of time, I didn't do much with Tarshish in the message, so I thought I'd post it here.

Some associate the country of Tarshish, as mentioned in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, I Kings, and Jonah, with a locale in southern Spain. In generally describing Tyre's empire from west to east, Tarshish is listed first (Ezekiel 27.12-14), and in Jonah 1.3 it is the place to which Jonah sought to flee from the Lord; evidently it represents the westernmost place to which one could sail. If Tarshish was indeed Spain, Jewish contact with Iberia may date back to the time of Solomon. The relationship would likely have been one based on trade. Ezekiel 27.12 describes such a connection: "Tarshish did business with you out of the abundance of your great wealth; silver, iron, tin, and lead they exchanged with you for your wares", and as much is demonstrated in I Kings 10.22: "For the king had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks." The link between Jews and Tarshish is clear. One might speculate that commerce conducted by Jewish emissaries, merchants, craftsmen, or other tradesmen among the Semitic Tyrean Phoenicians might have brought them to Tarshish. Although the notion of Tarshish as Spain is merely based on suggestive material, it leaves open the possibility of a very early, although perhaps limited, Jewish presence in the Iberian Peninsula.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Puritan Prayer #2: God's Cause

Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart,
and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom
to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns;
Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice,
for to bring honour to thy name is my sole desire.
I adore thee that thou art God,
and long that others should know it, feel it,
and rejoice in it.
O that all men might love and praise thee,
that thou mightest have all glory from the intelligent world!
Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name!
To the eye of reason everything respecting the conversion of others
is a dark as midnight,
But thou canst accomplish great things;
the cause is thine,
and is to thy glory that men should be saved.
Lord, use me as thou wilt,
do with me what thou wilt;
but, O, promote thy cause,
let thy kingdom come,
let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world!
O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus!
let me see that glorious day,
and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls;
let me be willing to die to that end;
and while I live let me labour for thee
to the utmost of my strength,
spending time profitaby in this work,
both in health and in weakness.
It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own.

O, answer thou my request!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Puritan Prayer #1

Many, many thanks to Pastor Steve for jumping in to preach yesterday as I recovered from the flu. I'm feeling better. This week is our 2007 Grace Week of Prayer. I just came out of a sweet time of morning prayer with Jessica, Kayla, Amy, Armand and Tim.

I hope that you've made a commitment to pray with your family and with others in the church family in a special way this week. This week at "life together" I thought I'd highlight some Puritan prayers from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.

Here's the first which touches on some of the themes of Steve's message yesterday. . . . our condition apart from God's grace, our continuing need for God's grace . . .

Incomprehensible, great and glorious God, I adore Thee and abase myself.
I approach thee mindful that I am worse than nothing, a creature worse than nothing. My thoughts are not screened from Thy gaze, my secret sins blaze in the light of Thy countenance.

Enable me to remember that blood which cleanseth all sin, to believe in that grace which subdues all my iniquities, to resign myself to that agency which can deliver me from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

Thou hast begun a good work in me and canst alone continue and complete it.
Give me an increasing conviction of my tendency to err, and of my exposure to sin.
Help me to feel more of the purifying, softening influence of religion, its compassion, love, pity courtesy and employ me as Thy instrument in blessing others.

Give me to distinguish between the mere form of godliness and its power, between life and a name to live, between guile and truth, between hypocrisy and a religion that will bear Thy eye.

If I am not right, set me right, keep me right;
And may I at last come to Thy house in peace. Amen.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Theule Family Photos of the Week

Last week Susie and the kids were down in Escondido. I went down for a few days and then took the train up on Saturday. On Thursday we went to Legoland. Susie bought the tickets for cheap off of Ebay. It was super crowded. We ran into the Van Doren Family. What are the chances?

Here are the boys. . . Our knight, Zeke . . .

Our racecar driver, Haaken . . .

January 2nd was Sage's birthday. She turned 10 and calls herself a "preteen." I asked, "What's a preteen?" She said, "Double digits, but without the "teen." I'm in trouble.

For her birthday, as a sort of right of passage, Susie took her to get her ears pierced. . .

Oh my, is that a Frappacino in her hand?

Afterwards, we met the other Theules at CPK. The picture doesn't quite catch the sight of the 7 kids lined up on one side of the table. How people stare!

Word is there is a new saying around church . . . "There are Theule kids everywhere." We feel very blessed!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

cleaning up

I'm digging the new blogger. It's so easy to quickly change colors, add links and move design elements.

Along with a few other things. I just created two new link categories along the right side. . .

  1. Other Graceslo Blogs . . . where I've listed the other official Grace blogs.

  2. Blogs by Others in the GraceSLO Community . . . where I've listed the links to other blogs authored by those who currently attend Grace (or who very recently used to. . . like our beloved Gordon).
If you attend Grace and would like me to list your blog, drop me an email at tim@graceslo.org. It would be fun to gather a list of all the bloggers at Grace. Help me out.

If you'd like me to remove a link to your blog, do the same.

(My brother hasn't posted since summer. Hassle him for me.)

a strange new year's resolution

This article in Tuesday's Tribune fascinated me. Did anyone one else catch it?

S.F. group enjoys shopping sabbatical - Yahoo! News

It's about a group of friends in S.F. who, in order to challenge the consumerism of their own lives, make a "Compact" together to avoid buying anything new in 2006 except food, essential toiletries and health and safety products. I guess they pulled it off and some of them are going for it again in 2007.

I saved the article and read it to my kids this evening at the tail end of our family reading time. I said, "I'd like to try this for a week or a month." Susie said, "I think we should try it for 3 months!" We agreed to discuss it more this week and then make a decision and draw up some guidelines and start date next weekend. Anyone want to join us?

As we talked about it, I thought again about my idea of a "Grace Beg, Borrow & Buy Network" . . . a place within the church family to off load (give them away or sell them at a fair price) your unwanted items to others who might need them. You know. . . sort of an internal Craig's List. I'm serious about this and I'm looking for someone to make this happen. There's got to be a google app or some other social networking site that can help us pull this off. Maybe a simple forums app would work.

There would have to be a disclaimer. . . "Grace SLO is not responsible for deals gone awry. Please use responsibly and at your own risk, etc. etc.

There would have to be rules of use.

Acts 2:44-45 could be the theme verse . . .

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Here are some broad categories:
  • Freebies: for good stuff you're looking to offload to a good home.

  • Perfectly Good & Cheap: for good stuff you're willing to sell . . . cheap.

  • Looking to Borrow: for those who need to borrow a power tool or something.

  • Willing to Lend: I've got one of those luggage racks that fits in the back of your trailer hitch. You can't break it and I'd love to loan it. For stuff like that . . .
  • Help Needed: for those home projects where you could use a few extra hands.

  • Services for Sale: for business owners in the church to inform others of the services/products they sell.
We'd have to password protect or something, but there's got to be a way.

We need this. This is a great and creative way to practice and model "life together" . . . vibrant Christian community. I think it would be an awesome means to meet some needs of others outside the church community as well. . . friends, neighbors and folks we know.

Susie said I can spend 1 hour vision casting but I am forbidden from getting involved in the nuts & bolts. She's right. . . again! I figure I have about 45 minutes left on that clock after this post.

Until someone gets it going, I'm going to start listing all our unwanted stuff right here. Bloggers privilege . . .

We've got a double breast pump for $100 OBO (talk about offensive!) and a baby exersaucer for $50 OBO. Anybody looking for these things? Drop me an email. I'll try and post some pictures in the next week.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Serving Children of Kenya

Anybody see this story on the front page of the local section of the Tribune yesterday? Very cool. Very inspiring. This gal has attended Calvary SLO for a long time. James Rey is a pastor there and a great guy.


Check out the slideshow of her work among the children in Kenya. Took me back to my summer in Kenya in 1987 with Campus Crusade. I spent a couple of weeks in Nairobi.

So neat that the Tribune prints and posts stuff like this.

Who's your Ninevehite?

Happy New Year Friends.

It's been a wild and wonderful holiday season for the Theules and we we're still trying to find our new year groove. But it's been too long . . .

Sunday we kicked off the New Year with the start of a new teaching series at Grace entited "The Gospel according to Jonah." 4 chapters in 4 weeks. I explained that my passion to teach the book of Jonah is rooted in 3 realizations. . .

  1. First, it's become apparent to me that we have more and more folks among us who don’t know the stories the Bible and especially not the Big Story of the Bible. I love it that these folks are among us and I hope that more and more show up. But what that means is that we've got to tell the story.

  2. Second, I’ve been wanting to do more in the Old Testament in the coming years than we’ve done over the last 4 years. Many of us don’t know what to do with the mass of pages at the front of our Bibles. There’s a continuity of the Gospel the Scriptures that many of us don’t understand. I'm eager to show that continuity.

  3. Third, I think that Jonah provides an excellent way for us to begin the New Year. Jonah is about the relationship between God, the Church and the World. Jonah reminds us what God is doing the World and where we fit in to what God is doing in the World.
I struggled with whether to begin on New Years Eve Sunday with so many away and college students still not returned from Christmas break, but I decided for other reasons to jump in. So if you missed last Sunday, can I beg you to listen before next Sunday? This series, unlike others, is going to be more tightly bound together with each week building on and depending on the ones before it.

On New Years Eve, I was hanging out with a few church families and someone was sharing about their struggle with their sister, who is so different and opposite from them. I said, "She's your Ninevehite." This woman replied, "You're right. I want to withdraw and separate, but I need to run toward and serve."

So who is/are the Ninevehite/s in your world? Chances are there some individuals who you really struggle with. . . . your liberal brother, your rebellious child, your overbearing boss, etc, etc, etc. Chances are there are whole groups of people you dislike (hate?) and want to run away from instead of toward . .. homeless people, homosexuals, those of a different political persuasion, etc, etc, etc.

So who is/are the Ninevehites in your world? How do you become a "sign of the Gospel" to them? How do you serve them instead of separate from them?

I can't remember the last time a text has grabbed me like the book of Jonah. I hope it grabs some of you as well.