Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Grace Blog & Website: Sue Donaldson

Our own Biblical teacher and humorist, Sue Donaldson, is trying to break into the speaking circuit. She's created a new website and blog .

Click over, check it out and leave Sue an encouraging note.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Sue!

in a thousand faces and forms

Recently finished "The Celtic Way of Evangelism." I was challenged to the end.

Now I have plunged into N.T. Wright's Simply Christian. I have to tell you I didn't want to like this guy. . . you know, he's an Anglican Bishop and I'm not sure he dots every "i" and crosses every "t" like I think he should . . . but I can't help it.

I've only read the first 4 chapters, but so far this is very much like a modern "Mere Christianity." Great writer with that English flair. Pretty captivating and compelling.

Chapters 1-4 talk about 4 echoes of the voice of God in our experience:
our desire for justice, our yearning for spirituality, the fact that we were built for relationships, and our experience of beauty.

I happened to read the fourth chapter, "For the Beauty of the Earth" Sunday evening after preaching Psalm 19 that morning. I was so moved by the chapter that I insisted on sitting Susie down last night and reading it out loud to her. Here's a couple of paragraphs . . .

The Christian tradition has said, and indeed sung, that the glory belongs to God the creator. It is his voice we hear echoing off the crags, murmuring in the sunset. It is his power we feel in the crashing of the waves and the roar of the lion. It is his beauty we see reflected in a thousand faces and forms. And when the cynic reminds us that people fall off crags, get lost after sunset, and are drowned by waves and eaten by lions; when the cynic cautions that faces get old and lined and forms get pudgy and sick--then we Christians do not declare that it was all a mistake. We do not avail ourselves of Plato's safety latch and say that the real world is not a thing of space, time and matter but another world into which we can escape. We say the present world is the real one, and that its in bad shape but expecting to be repaired. . . . We tell the story of a God who does the two things which, some of the time at least, we know we all want and need: a God who completes what he has begun, a God who comes to the rescue of those who seem lost and enslaved in the world the way it now is.
a bit later in the chapter. . .
The present world really is a signpost to a larger beauty, a deeper truth. It really is an authentic manuscript of one part of a masterpiece. The question is, What is the whole masterpiece like, and how can we begin to hear the music in the way it was intended? The point of the story is that the masterpiece already exists--in the mind of the composer. At the moment, neither the instruments or the players are ready to perform it. But when they are, the manuscript we already have--the present world with all its beauty and puzzlement--will turn out to be truly part of it. The deficiencies in the one part we possess will be made good. The things that don't make sense at the moment will display a harmony and a perfection we hadn't dreamed of. The points at which the music seems almost perfect, lacking just one small thing, will be completed. That is the promise held out in the story. . . . the beauty of this world will be enfolded into the beauty of God --and not just the beauty of God himself, but the beauty which, because God is the creator par excellence, he will create with the present world is rescued, healed, restored, and completed.
Any thoughts? Who else has read N.T. Wright?

Monday, July 30, 2007

day to day pours for fourth speech

Looked at Psalm 19 in Sunday's message. (listen here!) Amazing text!

Josh Erdman said the message reminded of this 1977 video he'd seen. I had seen it, too. Of course it was on youtube. Worth 9 minutes of your time. I was thinking this thing needs to be remade today. What are your thoughts?

Friday, July 27, 2007

wild week. . .

It's been a busy week . . . .

• Graveside Service for one of the founding generation, Ralph Vanderberg, last Thursday, July 19. Awesome man who's motto was "saved to serve" and he did. I learned he lath and plastered our Sanctuary and laid most of the brick of the Annex. Pure joy and privilege to stand at his grave and offer words of encouragement.

• Preached last Sunday at Christ Community Church, formerly known as the Evangelical Free Church of Laguna Hills. Great to go back to the "incubator" after 4 1/2 years and see so many old friends. Much spiritual formation happened there for me. Got a chance to go to San Onofre for some dinner and surf last Sunday evening. First time I'd surfed since Haaken was born. (Don't tell anybody!) Watched Sage stand up on three waves. So fun.

• Memorial Service on Monday morning in San Pedro for dear Anne Schwab, friend, Grace congregant, and Lisa Lewis' mom. Had the chance to share with 100 or so educators from the LA Unified School District the foundation of faith which bore much fruit in Anne's life and in the lives of others. Funerals are wonderful and unique opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.

• Prepared and presented an Early Childhood Parenting seminar with Susie at our 3rd Grace Summer Night. What a great evening! The El Ninos were great. I've heard great stuff about all the seminars. CLICK HERE to listen to our seminar and also Pastor Steve's Seminar "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth." Pics from GSN #3 are also now available HERE. Next week is the Potluck and Talent Show. Hope you're coming.

• Susie and the kids packed it up again today and headed down to Escondido to join a big family gathering happening there. But I'm here to try and find the top of my desk and get a few other things done. There's even talk of an afternoon of surf at the Ranch on Sunday. That's what I call a Lord's Day.

• This Sunday I get to preach Psalm 19 and share a pretty exciting announcement. Some of you may have heard about the special congregation meeting called for this Sunday. We're going to push it off until next Sunday. Plan on being there if you can.

Great busy summer. Little time for blogging. Hope you're enjoying it, too!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

GSN #2 and Hume Lake pics on Flickr.

The church that has fun together, stays together. Or something like that. . . .

Our 2nd Grace Summer Night at Port San Luis was going off! Many thanks to the Youth Board for letting us crash their party and for hosting an incredible evening of food, fun and fellowship. There had to be at least 400 there. Rockin' ! And the Lord provided a warm, beautiful evening!

This picture says it all! Have I told you how much I like s'mores? With almond chocloate bars or Peanut Butter Cups. When we lived in San Clemente, we used to do an informal family beach night every Tuesday during the Summer. I would get so used to my weekly s'more fix that when the summer was over, I would make them over our gas stove.

We've posted 27 pics from last night on the Grace Flickr site and we're looking for more. Click here to view the slideshow.

Also, we just uploaded nearly 200 pics from last week's Hume Lake trip. Click here to view that slideshow.

Bye, Bye Parking

Did you see this Trib article about the development of our Osos Parking lot?

SanLuisObispo.com 07/17/2007 Biz Buzz: Developer envisions homes, offices on downtown SLO block

Our 25 year parking agreement ends in December.

On a related note, Tim Ronda recently told me that his family parks on the top of the Pacific/Morro Parking structure every Sunday. The lot is virtually empty and he says it takes his family about 3 minutes to walk to the church.

The parking structure is closer than we realize, but we don't think about it. Did I mention that it's free on Sundays? I bet there are many who are driving around for more than three minutes and then still having to walk further than 3 minutes. How about you?

I'm convinced this is the best parking option for our future, even if we have to provide a shuttle. Let's start to shift our thinking now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Man's Beastliness

Man without God is a beast, and never more beastly
than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness.

--Whittaker Chambers--

In yesterday's message I talked about the extreme and extremely influential views of Peter Singer. Brothers and sisters, I think we've got a moral responsibility to know what this guy is up to since the New Yorker has called him "the most influential philosopher alive." So here's an acticle from World Magazine. . .

Peter Singer

And an assignment . . . after reading the article, comment on which of Singer's extreme views is most troubling to you and why.

asleep atop a skyscraper

In yesterday's message on Psalm 8 I mentioned this favorite photo, "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper."

Here's what Wikipedia says about the photo. . .

Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam) is a famous photograph taken by Charles C. Ebbets during construction of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center in 1932.

The photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling hundreds of feet above the New York City streets. Ebbets took the photo on September 29, 1932, and it appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in its Sunday photo supplement on October 2. Taken on the 69th floor of the GE Building during the last several months of construction, the photo Resting on a Girder shows the same workers napping on the beam.
I had no idea that Resting on a Girder existed. Here's what it looks like. That's crazy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

unlimited lifespans

I referenced The Immortality Institute in today's exposition of Psalm 8. Here's the video I mentioned.

I'm only partially through it, but the first 3 minutes were pretty disturbing to me. . . . "Maybe we will choose to transcend our humanness, and become cyborgs." Yikes!

What happens when we all start living forever? Talk about a population problem!

Is this not just the Tower of Babel all over again. . . humankind's latest attempt to build a tower to the heavens. . . . one more form of self salvation independent from God?

What are your reactions and thoughts? What does it mean to be human?

(BTW, I had no idea that Google Video had 1 hr 45 min videos. I think YouTube has a 10 minute limit!)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Grace Summer Nights Photos now posted

We, like the Ernstroms, had a great time on Wednesday at our first Grace Summer Night. Terry Kohlenberg was our host for a night of family fun and fellowship. I was encouraged to see folks of all ages and stages come out. I think we all had a good time. . . .

We did some crazy stuff. Here's the slide show to prove it. . .


(More photos will be posted soon. We've also added another 50 or so to the 4th of July set, so give that another look.)

Our next Grace Summer Night is a Family Beach Night happening Wednesday, July 18 at
Port San Luis. Hope you can join us. The fun starts at 6:00 PM.

By the way, Mark Owen can boogie down!

Friday Fun. . . I mean. . . Pain

Some of you will love this. . . . I won't say anymore. . . just watch it.

Hat Tip: Josh Erdman

Thursday, July 12, 2007

2007 Mozart Festival Chamber Concert Series @ Grace

Grace is delighted to host the 2007 Mozart Festival Chamber Concert Series beginning this Friday and continuing week nights through next Thursday evening.

Here's a link to the concerts that will be held here at Grace.

This is one of our many forms of community ministry. . . showcasing the lovely, the excellent and the good!

Be praying for all those who attend that they would think about the place where they sit, that they'd consider that cross they will be staring at and that just maybe they'll pick up the latest Life@Grace stuff in the pew back or better yet, the Bible there in front of them. Pray that the music will draw them toward the
Eternal Author of all music.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

see you there?

You coming tomorrow to our official kick-off of Grace Summer Nights? Things begin with a potato bar dinner at 5:30. This week Terry Kohlenberg will be our guest. I guarantee you'll have a good time.

If you've forgotten to sign up, give Dori a call right now at 543.2358 and let her know you're coming. People have been calling yesterday and today.

I glanced at the list and I was encouraged to see a wide variety of ages and life stages coming along. As we've said all along, this is for families and the entire church family. . . just a chance to be together and enjoy the Summer.

See you there. . .

The Pat Little Band

In Sunday's message, we looked at Psalm 1 and talked about meditating and delighting on God's Word. Listen now. . .

One of the best ways to do that is, as Pastor Al illustrated the week before, is through music. Just as Oingo Boingo's "Who do you want to be today?" has been sadly embedded in my heart for 20 years, God's Word can be embedded in our hearts through music.

So yesterday afternoon I was trying to practice my preaching on my run up and down up Bishop's Peak (thats right, RUN! . . . . up and down in an hour. . . hurt so bad, but felt so good). I listened to the new CD from The Pat Little Band, who all attend Grace.

Good stuff! So God-centered. So Biblically based. Delight and meditation on Scripture if you ask me.

They've made 4 or 5 songs available on their my space page at . . .


This summer, Pat and the boyz are leading worship for the Ponderosa High School camp up at Mount Hermon. I hear from Pastor Al that they are locked in to lead this year's Fall Kick Off service on Sunday, September 16.

Click over, listen up and leave them an encouraging comment. . . . let them know I sent you.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Where is this?

Somewhere on the Central Coast. . . . Any guesses?

Good Dialogue

In case you missed it last week, the good thought-provoking dialogue about evangelism is continuing in the comments section of the post entitled "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" three posts back.

Your participation is encouraged and invited . . .

New Blog: Arijaan Bulk

Arijaan Bulk, one of my Dutch and Christian sisters, has started a blog. You'll have to click over and discover why she has titled it. . .

No Fool

Arijaan is one of our graduated college students, sticking around next year to serve as an intern with Campus Crusade at Cal Poly. She's raising support and would appreciate financial partners!

If you've met Arijaan, then you've encountered her bright smile and encouragement.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July Picnic pics now posted


Great picnic yesterday. . . what we prayed for. . . a great spirit of fellowship, togetherness and connection. Many thanks to the ACE team and all who helped make it possible.

So many were snapping pictures. We'd love to get copies. So far we've uploaded the 97 that Dori snapped. I'm sure more will be added to the collection soon.

CLICK HERE to see the slideshow!

The Celtic Way of Evangelism

Years ago I read Thomas Cahill's fascinating "How the Irish Saved Civilization." A little while back I heard Tim Nugent mention that he was reading "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" by George Hunter which examines some of themes that Cahill introduced. Whenever I hear somebody mention I book, I try and write it down.

Anyway I picked "The Celtic Way" up the other day because it looked short and interesting. This morning I was challenged by these thoughts . . .

Roman model of Evangelism:
  1. Presentation
  2. Decision
  3. Assimilation/Fellowship

In contrast to the Celtic model:

  1. Fellowship
  2. Ministry and Conversations
  3. Belief, Invitation to Commitment

The Celtic model reflects the adage that for most people "Christianity is more caught than taught."

Recent study the United Bible Society. . ."most people experience the faith through relationships, that they encounter the gospel through a community of faith, that becoming a Christian involves a process that takes time. . . for most people "belonging comes before believing."

The ongoing contagious common life of the congregation that permits people to discover faith for themselves, at their own pace, now appears to be much more influential that special event-preaching evangelism.

Typical journey of faith that most people experience today:

1. X is introduced to the church through a member of their family, through friendship with some Christians or through a minister;

2. They begin to ask questions

3. They are invited to explore further and come to a knowledge and practice of the faith (often this is through a nurture group or some of form of catechism).

4. They discover they have become a Christian, and mark it publicly through baptism or confirmation or whatever is appropriate to their denomination.

Evangelism is now about "helping people to belong so that they can believe."

As I have contemplated these thoughts, I've thought about the ministry of Jesus. It seems that Jesus utilized a wide variety of evangelism approaches, including this sort of "process" approach. For example, to the disciples he first says "come and see" and "follow me." It's very evident that they didn't get the Gospel or Him at first. Their coming to faith took some time.

It strikes me that, in some ways, it's easier to tell someone the Gospel than it is to create a community where someone consistently experiences the Gospel. Do you know what I mean by that?

I'm just curious how this grabs you?

(My own defensiveness and resistance, I think, is a result of my Western/Roman conditioning!)

I think Grace has begun to become a place of spiritual process where non-believers feel welcome and free to ask questions, because I've had some wonderful and exciting conversations this last year with a few who have come to faith through the process of being here and experiencing community. Their belonging has led to their believing. But we've got so much room to grow in this area. We can do better. How can we as a church continue growing in this area?

Do you feel comfortable inviting a friend to a worship service at Grace? What about to yesterday's 4th of July Picnic? If not, is there something that Grace could do (without compromising the Gospel) that would make you more comfortable? Do you even have anybody in your sphere of influence that you could invite?

(BTW, this is one of the main aims of this blog, "life together." I believe that our "life together" as we live the Gospel is part of what God wants to use to draw others to Himself.)

Oh yeah, I'm just telling you now that I'm going to be really disappointed and frustrated if no one comments on this topic!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mexico Pics Now Posted

80 or so pics for the recent Mexico Trip are now posted at . . .


CLICK HERE to just jump straight to the slideshow.

LT Conversation: "The Centrality of the Gospel"
now available

We've posted our second Life Together Conversation. Our topic in this edition is "The Centrality of the Gospel."

Listen up and then leave us some feedback. . . .

Back from Camp


We're back from Family Camp out at Campus by the Sea on Catalina Island. It was a great week of family fun and learning. Highlights of the week included line dancing, talent show night, 8 mile hike to Avalon with Sage, Eden and Zeke, boat race, Zeke catching his first fish, snorkeling with the kids, great creative family devotions and so much more. . .

It was such a blessing to have the Lyons, Weavers and Kardels with us. Wish you could have been there.

We've posted lots of pics on our flickr site, so you can see the fun and the beautiful setting. Click here to see a slide show.