Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life on the Central Coast

It was an amazing weekend! Such a blessing to have John Piper in our own backyard. Piper clearly is one of a kind. I know many were impacted by the intensive, compacted, challenging Biblical teaching. I know that there was some great sharing that happened in the 2:42 Adult Bible Fellowship yesterday morning that came out of the conference. I'd love to hear some more sharing here. . .

Sunday evening, I thought, was totally different than Friday night and Saturday . . . a no holds barred call to missions, based on John 10:16 and rooted in the sovereign saving grace of God. I'm guessing it was a shock to a few. How about you?

I do think there was something special and powerful about being there live with 1200 others, but if you missed it, couldn't get tickets, were out of town, or just couldn't make it for some reason, you can listen to the audio right here. How cool is that?

The Essence of the Unwasted Life

The Orgin of the Unwasted Life

The Appearance of the Unwasted Life, Part 1

The Appearance of the Unwasted Life, Part 2

Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold (Sunday Night)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Preaching is in the Shadows . . .

Did you see the Trib article on Sunday about pastors and their prep for Easter?

The Easter Spotlight

It kind of made me laugh because Sarah Linn called early in the week, but it wasn't until Thursday that I finally got back to her and then only left her a long voicemail and my mobile number to call if she had any more questions. I was a bit surprised to see my name in the paper and my voicemail quoted.

The article reminded me, yet again, that there are lots of different approaches to this thing called Easter. By and large, our goal here at Grace is to do what we always do, but gear it perhaps just slightly more toward the unbeliever. We want people who might come back the next week to know what to expect. I don't believe in a "bait and switch" approach. It seems to me, the way you bring them in is the way you've got to keep them which leads quickly to a "dog and pony show."

This quote struck me. . .

“People’s attention span is less and less. For me to stand up and speak for 30 minutes may not be the best way of reaching people who aren’t in church normally,” said Ferrell, senior pastor at Atascadero Bible Church."

Tom is a friend and I believe Tom is right that peoples "attention span is less and less." I feel that tension and often question what I'm doing. In fact, Tom's quote and the article in general caused some soul searching after coming home on Sunday afternoon exhausted and worn out . . .

Maybe we should do dramas on Easter Sunday. Maybe we should find a gimmick that will really bring them in. Maybe we can skip the sermon altogether. Why do we do what we do? Is it really working? Who am I and what am I doing with my life?

(Are you surprised that your pastor asks questions like this? Don't be!)

But then I go back to the Word and I am convicted again about the primacy of preaching in the life of the church . . . .

  • Jesus preached. . . He says it's what He came for. When everybody wanted more miracles, he preached. If preaching was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

    Mark 1:38 He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”
  • Jesus makes it clear that the Gospel must be preached to the nations . . .

    Matt. 24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
  • The early church grew because of their commitment to the preaching of God's Word . .

    Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer

    Acts 8:4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

  • The Apostle Paul defined his own mission in terms of preaching, even distinguishing preaching from baptizing. He indicates that there is a way to preach "in cleverness of speech" that can actually render the cross of Christ void. I have pondered that idea for years now. . .

    1Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
    1Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
  • The more I understand about the 1st century world, I'm convinced that even in Paul's day there were other more popular forms of communication and Paul was probably trained in the use of rhetoric, but he chose to proclaim Christ crucified not in "superiority of speech or wisdom" . . .

    1Cor. 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
    1Cor. 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

  • Paul said he was under compulsion to preach the Gospel . . .

    1Cor. 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

  • As Paul instructs Timothy considering leadership in the church, again we see the primacy of preaching . . .

    1Tim. 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.

  • And Paul's dying solemn charge to Timothy is to preach the Word, when people want and when they don't . . . with patience and diligence . . . regardless of what everybody else is doing . . .

    2Tim. 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
    2Tim. 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
    2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
    2Tim. 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
    2Tim. 4:5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

  • Peter said that people are born again through the preaching of God's Word . . .

    1Pet. 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
    1Pet. 1:25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.

I feel the weight of these Biblical passages. My conscience is bound by the Word and to preaching. I, too, am under compulsion. I don't preach because preaching is the best way to communicate in today's world or because people want to hear a talking head for 30 minutes or more (THEY DON'T!), I preach because preaching is God's ordained means of communicating the Gospel. The message is foolishness and the medium is foolishness, too. But God is pleased to use the foolishness of Gospel preaching to save.

I don't dislike dramatic presentations. I actually like them a lot. I just don't think they should displace the centrality of preaching on even Easter morning for the sake of gathering a crowd.

At the Shepherd's Conference a couple weeks back, Al Mohler compared preaching to washing your hair: rinse, lather, repeat. . . but in preaching its: read the text, explain the text, apply the text, repeat.

That's what I do . . . week after week after week. . . that's what I'm called to.

A pastor of an early generation, once said,
Preaching is in the shadows, the world does not believe in it.
I think that's more true than ever. The question for the church today and in every generation is, "Does the church believe in it?"

It really doesn't matter if the world believes in preaching, but it matters greatly if the church believes in it. It matters to me personally that we together at Grace believe in preaching. Fads and methods will continue to come and go, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Faith comes and grows by hearing . . .

Excuse me, I have to go get ready to preach!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Saturday before Sunday

We had a good Easter here at Grace. We skipped a rock across Galatians and looked at three "Resurrection Reverberations."

Our attendance was actually slightly down compared to last year. It surprised our staff, since our attendance has been up a bit throughout the year. Not sure why that was . . .

All weekend, on the homefront, we had a house full of family. It's so fun, but does add a dimension for me. On Saturday, some of my kids and some of the cousins headed out to the Los Osos Skatepark.

I sat watching and coaching the kids for a while, but then couldn't stand it any longer. I spotted that the attendant had a skateboard lying around and I asked if I could ride it. He said, "Sure! And I've got some pads you can borrow, too." So I grabbed my daughter's helmet and went for it.

It's been a long, long time. It was so much fun and a great little diversion the Saturday before a big Easter Sunday. Comes back pretty quick and I didn't even break anything!

I think my kids and their cousins got a kick out of the fact that their 40 year old dad/uncle was out there skating with them. So, now I'm jonesing for my own skateboard and gear. Sage says, "Maybe for Father's Day, Dad!" That's what I'm talking about!

5 year old Zeke. . . he was dropping in by the end of the session

11 year old Sage. . . she was dropping in, too

Dad, finding the old groove and feeling it

Sage, Austen Nelson, Dad, Zeke and Alija

We all can't wait to go back. . .

Room at Piper

Just saw this on the Desiring God Blog in case anyone is still trying to get into Piper this weekend. Didn't know there was still room. Just a few days away. Hope your coming and hope your praying . . .

There's Room at the Conference

March 24, 2008 | By: Scott Anderson
Category: Conferences

If you weren't able to get tickets to our Regional Conference this weekend in San Luis Obispo, California, we have good news. A limited number of tickets are available in an overflow room at the Performing Arts Center (PAC).

This room is adjacent to the main auditorium and features a large screen, great sound, and comfortable seating. Attendees who sit here are able to partake of the same conference amenities as everyone else: access to the Don't Waste Your Life resource center, custom DG tote-bag filled with free resources, resource giveaways, fellowship with other attendees, etc. The ticket price is only $20.00 (half-price).

You can get tickets by calling the Box Office at the PAC: 805.756.2787 (phone number updated).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Weekend

See you tonight?

Beloved Family of Grace,

Here is some vital information as we approach the joy of the Easter weekend together. . .

Good Friday Service, Friday at 7:00 PM
Hope you can join us for this worshipful communion service. It will be a reflective and meaningful way to cap off your work week and prepare your heart for Resurrection Sunday. Childcare will be provided for the little ones to age five, so this will be a sweet time to worship as a family. Invite a friend!

As we've done the last couple of years, communion at this service will be 'come up' style, with four stations situated throughout the Sanctuary. During a time of extended worship, you will be invited to approach the tables when you are ready in small groups of friends and family. Elders and ministry staff will pray for you and administer the elements. When you are finished, return to your seats. If you are unable to come to the table, or would prefer not to, you can raise your hand and servers will come to you. While this approach is a bit more messy, we feel that a change in our routine is helpful and hopefully spiritually meaningful in a fresh way.

Easter Sunday Services at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00 AM
My Easter message is entitled Resurrection Reverberations and will center, not on reasons to believe the resurrection of Jesus, but results of the resurrection. As usual, I will do my best to get into the heads and hearts of both those who believe and those who do not yet believe. I always try to weave in a bit of apologetics on Easter to illustrate that belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not a blind leap in the dark, but reasonable and rational. I very much appreciate your prayers as I prepare my own heart and the message for Sunday. Pray expectantly that Christ will be exalted, that the Gospel will be clear and compelling, that hearts will be moved and souls will be saved!

I encourage you to invite friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and classmates to join us for Easter Services. Offer to pick them up or meet them at the door. Invite them over for Easter brunch or lunch after services. Easter is one of the times of the year, when folks are open and often desire to attend church. Go for it! Be bold and winsome. Let them feel your love and care for them as you invite them to worship. We've attached a PDF version of our Invite Card, so that you might invite folks even by email. You might also print it out and hand it to a friend.

Finally, remember that Easter Sunday is a Family Worship Day which means you are encouraged to worship as a family. We will have Sunday School for nursery through kindergarten. None of our Adult Bible Fellowships will be meeting. The 9:30 service will be jam packed, so if you are able, please serve others and make room for visitors by attending the 8:00 or 11:00 service.

Praise the Lord. He is risen!

I look forward to worshipping with you. See you Friday.

Because of and for the Gospel . . . Pastor Tim

Thursday, March 20, 2008

is sin dead or are we dead in sin?

Last Lord's Day we looked at "Who needs to be justified?" from Galatians 2:16. (If you missed it, catch up here!)

As I was standing at Splash today waiting for my seafood salad to come up, I glanced down at the pile of newspapers on the trash can and noticed this article in this morning's USA Today . . . Has the notion of sin been lost?

Seemed to relate to last week's message and upcoming Easter. Worth the read. Several pastors/theologians that I read, including Michael Horton, Al Mohler, Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll, are quoted in the article.

(In fact, the article contains a great, pretty right on quote by the pope. But in substituting the sacraments, is he not just exchanging one set of merits for another, one works based approach for another?)

Here's some tidbits that jumped out at me. . .

"People are quick to toe the line on traditional thinking" that there is sin "but interpret that reality in a very personal and self-congratulatory manner" — I have to do what's best for me; I am not as sinful as most.

Indeed, 65% of U.S. adults say they will go to heaven, and only 0.05% believe they'll go to hell, according to a 2003 Barna telephone survey of 1,024 adults . . .

"We find a comfort zone of morality, a kind of middle-class middle level where we think we are doing well. We cut the grass. We don't double-park. But we ignore the larger issues of sin.

"Instead of violating the law of the Creator, it becomes more a matter of etiquette. … We want our kids to play well in the sandbox and know their place in line. We want people to do things decently and in order. But it's etiquette of morality without the ethics. The end result is that when we do things we wish people wouldn't do, there's no sense of guilt or shame."

What this means is that, by and large, we are slipping into moralism: "I'm not that bad. God isn't that holy and just. I can please Him. He loves me. I obey, therefore I'm accepted." The primary issue is not that we are not as good any more because we are relativizing sin . . . the issue is in relativizing sin, we will not see our need for Christ.

If we don't sin, then we don't need a Savior. If we don't see ourselves as headed for God's courtroom, then why would we flee to Christ, our Substitute? Christ died for no reason. Easter is meaningless.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good bye, Sam . . . for now

Our friend, Sam McDill, passed from this life and entered into the presence of Jesus last week. I'm going to miss seeing Sam come in the side door with his daughter and sit in the front row. He was always warm and encouraging to this young pastor.

Good bye, Sam . . for now.

Rev. Dr. Samuel McDill
1916 ~ 2008

The Reverend Dr. Samuel McDill, 91, died peacefully of natural causes in San Luis Obispo on Monday, March 10, 2008.

Sam was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., the third of five children. He lived a full and varied life. At the Chicago World Fair, the then 18 year old assisted handling pythons for the film star and wild life adventurer, Frank Buck. Shortly thereafter he enrolled at the Moody Bible Institute in preparation for a life of pastoral service.

In 1941 he married his sweetheart, Lois Tatter of Chicago, who was at his side during a successful life of founding and growing church congregations in Chicago; Hammond, Ind.; Watsonville and Santa Barbara. He also taught at The Moody Bible Institute and helped found and organize the "Youth for Christ" ministry.

Many years later he attended Pepperdine University and The American Institute of Family Relations, became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, developed a successful practice in the Santa Barbara area, and was a contributor to The Ladies Home Journal, having authored the column "Can this marriage be saved?" Sam was member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, The Christian Association of Psychological Studies and the Moody Bible Institute Alumni Association. He studied at Fuller Theological Seminary and earned the D.Min. degree.

Sam will be remembered by his family as a wise and loving parent, who enjoyed family gatherings that were enriched by his fund of stories and tales of his travels. He is fondly remembered by many pastors and laity across the country as a mentor who loved his God with all his heart, and who worked ceaselessly to spread the Good News of the Gospel.

He is survived by his younger brother, Tom; sister, Ruth; daughters Carol (Robert) Misson of San Luis Obispo and Laurel Gephart of Morgan Hill; son, Dr. Brik (Lynn) McDill of Tehachapi; six grandchildren Christine Reed, Andrew Jennings, Steven Gephart, Laura Libby, Erin Weeks and Lindsey McDill; and nine great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 61 years, Lois Tatter McDill.

He bore his long final illness with characteristic grace and fortitude.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, 2008, at Welch Ryce Hader Funeral home in Santa Barbara. He will be interred next to Lois, overlooking the beaches where they walked, hand in hand, in love with each other and with the beauty of Creation.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Moody Bible Institute Counseling Center.
Published in the San Luis Obispo Tribune on 3/16/2008.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm in!

The cycling crew has talked me into racing in the cross country mountain biking race at the Sea Otter Classic on Friday, April 18. Susie has graciously given me the hall pass. I'll be racing in the 40-44 beginner class, which happens to be the largest class of the weekend. Other guys trying to come to grips with aging, I guess!

Other racers from Grace that I know of:

For sures: Chad Theule, Mark Ernstrom, Sean Cheney, Ben Collins, David Leece (road)
Possibles: Jeff Martin, Jason Evangelista, Paul Evangelista

Never done anything like this. Chad's got me on quite the training regimen. About a month to go. Should be fun.

Anybody else racing?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Instead of subscribing in iTunes, we've been watching Lost this season for free at Free is good, but you've got to click after every commercial . . . a bit of a hassle.

But then, this week, I stumbled on to, an emerging video alternative to iTunes featuring NBC content and a limited set of complete movies, all for free, but with embedded commercials. Its super easy to use. If they can get the other networks on board, this will be happening!

Here's a few things I've noticed so far . . .

  • Limited episodes of The Office, the Simpsons, Arrested Development and more

  • Selected Saturday Night Live shorts

  • Complete movies in including Veggie Tale's The Jonah Movie, The Usual Suspects, Ice Age, Master & Commander and more

Again, the content is limited at this point, but I expect they'll be adding more. But even now, there is plenty to play with.

Its clear that content is getting ubiquitous. . . .it feels like a whole new era to me. Having never had a TV pipeline into our home for intentional reasons, its a trip to me that its now more and more available on demand on line anytime. I have mixed feelings about it. One more opportunity for wasted time and mindless distraction.

Check out and tell me what you think . . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

moralism doesn't work

I've been watching the train wreck that is Eliot Spitzer's life today and asking,

"What was this guy thinking?"

This guy looked like he had it all . . . governor of New York, beautiful wife, three daughters, a promising political career . . . and yet he schemed and plotted to throw it all away.

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Resigns Effective Monday

He was known as a "moral crusader" and campaigned on the promise that he would continue to root out graft and crime in New York.

We are all capable of something like this. None of us is beyond this.

I think it's one more sad and poignant demonstration that moralism doesn't work. Sin is so, so powerful in our lives. When we suppress our passions in one area, they pop out in another. Moralism, by itself, nurtures pride in the center of our hearts. Pride goes before a fall. Pride makes us irrational in our reasoning. Sinful passions cannot be suppressed they can only be expelled by greater affections.

I think the pharisees in Jesus' day are another great example of this. They said their prayers, they were meticulous in their religious obervance, they piled rules and tradition on top of God's laws . . but they exploited defenseless widows and the poor. They were pious and proud and plotted the death of Jesus, who they perceived as a threat to their power and position among the people.

But we like moralism. It's measurable. It's quantifiable. It's neat and tidy. It's safe. It makes us feel good about ourselves and better than others.

Beware of the leaven of the pharisees. Beware of moralism.

Only the Gospel can really change our hearts. Only the grace of God can create in us grateful, joyful, humble obedience. Only the Gospel.

Makes me think of the opening section of Thomas Chalmer's "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection:

A Moralist Will be Unsuccessful in Trying to Displace His Love of the World by Reviewing the Ills of the World. Misplaced Affections Need to be Replaced by the Far Greater Power of the Affection of the Gospel.

THERE are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world - either by a demonstration of the world’s vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon not to resign an old affection, which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one.

My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it.

Christ and the Gospel is the only affection strong enough to restrain our sinful passions. Moralism simply does not work over the long haul.

The Gospel is Everything! Part Deux

I received this great email from one of our sharp Women's Ministry teachers and thought I'd post it here with my response so that together we can keep processing the Gospel. I was encouraged by stuff going on in the Growth Group . . .

Dear Pastor Tim,

sunday's message: I don't get what you mean that the gospel is/was the means for Paul's confrontation of Peter. Is it bec. he spoke of grace with grace??? You emphasized it's importance but i didn't get it.

So last night at GG, I didn't bring that up. We did have some rich conversation re:

  • doing things or not doing things because of peer pressure; and,
  • confronting properly (speaking the truth in love)
  • and, in what area do you think your behavior could impact another person (in re: to Peter influencing Barnabas, etc.) . . . and best,
  • what does this statement mean to you: "The Gospel changes everything, grows out and down. God blesses us so we can bless others." What "others" are you blessing by/through God's gospel grace? Look at every encounter as an opportunity. . .

Our question we didn't answer was: How much is our walk in Christ our responsibility and how much is it not? They asked, do we sit and wait bec. it's all "done" ? what is involved practically speaking in "working out our salvation?" I didn't answer it. I wouldn't mind if you would address it.

Have fun studying! . . .

Here's my response . . .

Hey Friend,

Lots of questions there! If you didn't get it, then most didn't get it. So I'll have to keep saying these things. Thanks for the heads up.

Revolutionary for me: Paul wasn't just graceful to Peter. He preached the Gospel to Peter. Peter's problem was he was out of line with the Gospel (2:14). Paul brings him back to the "gospel line" by preaching the Gospel to him in v. 15- 16, not the Mosaic law and not rules and regulations. He takes him back to justification by faith alone and says, in effect, "Peter what about the Gospel in this area of your life? How is the Gospel affecting who you eat with? You're withdrawing from Gentile table fellowship is a sign that you are not working out, not living out the Gospel." You see, he confronts for the sake of the Gospel, but also by means of the Gospel.

The Gospel is how we confront sin in our own lives, too, because my all my sin is really a failure to understand or apply the Gospel in my life. This is true of a hatred of homosexuals, a failure to love my spouse, greed, a neglect of my children for the sake of my work, an addiction to pornography, a dysfunctional need for the approval of others . . . . All of these sins have, at their root, a failure to believe or apply the Gospel.

The Gospel of God's grace, is the means by which we are saved, but also the means by which we grow and change. So think about the pattern of the epistles: indicative, indicative, indicative (Gospel) first, then imperative, imperative, imperative (command or call for obedience) second. . . . And so the imperative sections of Paul's letters begin with statements like: "Therefore walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Gospel . . . " We don't change by getting good at obeying the rules (moralism), but by beholding Jesus and all he's done. . . getting grace. That's what chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians are all about: "Since the Gospel is true, this is where it should lead you . . . "

You see, the Gospel is not just the START of the Christian life, its the CENTER of the Christian life. We keep coming back to it. We keep fixing our eyes on Jesus and in beholding him we become like him. So think about glorification. Glorification is the completion of sanctification. How will it happen? When we see him, we will be like him! (Beholding to Become!) Our process of sanctification now happens in the same way! By grace through faith in Christ (the Gospel!)


Is that helpful at all?

I think all of this is what it means to work out our salvation. We are doing it even now, friend! Salvation = Gospel of God's Free Grace. Working it out involves working it in. If God's grace leads to laziness or licentious living, then we don't understand the Gospel. We are failing to believe it and apply it. What do we need then? More Gospel. Getting Grace leads to maturity, charity, service, obedience, grace toward others, humility. If its not, then we don't get grace yet.

I'll post some of this on the blog so others can keep working out their salvation, too. The Gospel is everything!


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Gospel is Everything!

In yesterday's message, we looked at Peter's Separation, Paul's Confrontation and the Gospel Implications in Galatians 2:11-16. We saw that the Gospel is a "straight edge" against which we measure our lives. We noticed the shocking insight that Paul confronts Peter, not only FOR THE SAKE of the Gospel, but also BY MEANS of the Gospel.

This is modeled for us and demonstrates that the way to confront and overcome sin in our own lives is not by beating ourselves up or by enlisting others to beat us up or by devising more rules and rituals for us to do and keep, but by preaching the Gospel to ourselves. Asking ourselves in our struggle and sin, "What about the Gospel?" It is only by grace that we are saved and it is only by grace that we will

Hope you'll listen and catch up if you missed it!

We've learned so much about the Gospel of God's free grace in our Galatians series so far. Here's just a partial list in review:

  • The Gospel is Historical (1:4): Jesus gave Himself for our sins in real space and time

  • The Gospel is Personal (1:4): Jesus gave Himself for OUR sins and to rescue US

  • The Gospel is Cosmic (1:4): It involves us, but it's bigger than us. A new creation and an entirely new age

  • The Gospel is God's (1:4-5): It is according to His will and for His Glory

  • The Gospel is Experiential (1:3): It is grace and peace to us

  • The Gospel is Revelational (1:11-12): not man made, but God revealed

  • The Gospel is Transformational (1:13-16): it changes us from self-centered (I, I, I) living to God-centered living (God, God, God)

  • The Gospel is Missional (1:16, 24): it gives us a new purpose and direction for the glory of God

  • The Gospel is Trans-Cultural (2:3-4): it is not bound to any one culture, but enters all and challenges all

  • The Gospel is a whole new way of living (2:10): not just a cold creed, but truth to be lived

  • The Gospel is One Message (2:7-10): there is only one Gospel message, but lots of Gospel ministries

  • The Gospel creates an entirely new community (2:12): people from every nation, tribe and tongue

  • The Gospel is the way to confront sin (2:15-16): only by grace are we saved, only by grace will we grow

  • The Gospel changes everything (2:14): from who we eat with to how we age. Everything!
Isn't that cool? And there's still lots more to come in our Galatians series.

Here's a GREAT recent article from Christianity Today entitled, "The 8 Marks of a Robust Gospel" that touches on some of these same Gospel dimensions.

And to end this monster post, here's a quote from the article that ties in well with last Sunday's message:

A robust gospel has a grand vision. The little gospel promises me personal salvation and eternal life. But the robust gospel doesn't stop there. It also promises a new society and a new creation. When Jesus stood up to read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue at Nazareth, then sat down and declared that this prophetic vision was now coming to pass through him, there was more than personal redemption at work. God's kingdom, the society where God's will is established and lived, was now officially at work in his followers. That society was overturning the injustices and exclusions of the empire and establishing an inclusive and just alternative. We find this in Jesus' opening words (Luke 4:18–19), the Beatitudes (6:20–26), and in his response to John (Mark 7:22–23). This vision for a just society led to the radical practices of generosity and hospitality in the Jerusalem churches (Acts 2:42–47). Any gospel that is not announcing a new society at work in the world, what the apostle Paul called the church, is simply not a robust gospel.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

asking great questions

On our first week of Galatians I was introduced to a young man. . . we'll call him Mic here on the blog. Mic has a Roman Catholic background and was invited to Grace by a friend. Mic hasn't missed a Sunday since and came last Sunday by himself, since his friends were out of town. God is at work in Mic's life. This week, Mic and I have been chatting via email. I asked Mic if I could share our dialogue, because I thought it might be both an encouragement and help to others. Its been a great encouragement to me. Mic is "getting grace." Are you?

Dear Pastor Theule, I had a few questions about your service today. You said " I am accepted, there I obey ". Sometimes I understand God better when I compare him to my parents. Is that saying like my parents love me and give me so much, so I obey them out of love for them? Secondly I was wondering who made it go to the next slide on the projection? I saw the two guys in back by all the sound stuff so I think them. I appreciate your time and helping me understand this topic.



Hey Mic,

Good to hear from you. . .
Let me take the second question first. . . I give the guys a manuscript that has the slides embeded in it. They follow along and switch the slides when I come to them as I am preaching through the manuscript. I tried switching the slides myself and it just messed me up. . . This system seems to work pretty good for us all. I'm accepted therefore I obey VS I obey, therefore I'm accepted. The issue is are we obeying to try and earn God's acceptance or because we already have it. Ideally, as you describe, parents love their children not because of what they do, but unconditionally just because they are their kids. (Unfortunately it doesn't work that way in all families!) Children, then should not have to earn their parents love and acceptance, but obey because out of joyful gratitude. An important issue in all this is why and how God accepts us. That's where Jesus comes in. . . .God loves and accepts us not the basis of what we do, but on the basis of what Jesus has done. . . lived the perfect life and died the perfect death in our place. As a holy God, demands perfection, but only Jesus pulls that off. In him all the demands of God's holiness are met. Through faith in Him, all his perfection and righteousness becomes ours. Check out 2 Corinthians 5:21 and see if that makes sense to you. I don't know what God is doing in your life Mic, but it sure seems to me that he's doing something. Hang in there and keep asking those good questions. . . Because of and for the Gospel. . . Pastor Tim

Hey Pastor Theule,

I just had some more questions. Does God accept us
without Jesus? How about in the old testament?

2 Corinthians 5:21 Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.

If I got the girls right they said through Jesus we can have a relationship with God. Also they talked about animal sacrifices in the old testament and Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices. I am kind of all over the place with this email but I was just wondering what you had to say on this. I hope your week is going great. Talk to you soon. Mic

Mic. . . We're going to get to some of this stuff in the coming weeks in our Galatians study, but let me give you a preview . . . Everything in the Old Testament looks forward to and is preparatory for Jesus, everything in the New Testament looks back on and explains Jesus. In the Old Testament, immediately and throughout there are promises about a Savior and Lord who would come. People were saved by grace alone through faith alone in the promises of Jesus Christ who was coming . . . ALONE. God gave the law to reveal sin and the holy character of God. God gave to the sacrificial system to temporarily cover sin and show the need for a once for all time, once for all peoples sacrifice for sin until that final sacrifice came. . . Jesus! The Bible is made up of a whole bunch of little stories all pointing to ONE BIG STORY, which is Jesus. Jesus is the center of the Bible and the center of human history. All the promises of God are fulfilled or will be fulfilled in Jesus. God's way of salvation has always been the Gospel: salvation from sin and a right relationship with God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. In the Old Testament it was the Gospel promised and anticipated, in the New Testament it is the Gospel come and realized. Your next assignment is to read Isaiah 53 and think about Jesus. . . Hope that makes sense. Keep those questions coming. Tim

Hey Pastor Theule,

Thanks for your response, that makes sense. Ill read
Isaiah tonight. I like the assignments, it guides my bible reading. Again I really appreciate you sharing your time and your faith with me.


Pray for Mic and others like him who are grappling with the Gospel of God's free grace and all its implications.

caught up?

I'll keep asking . . . are you caught up on the messages of our Galatians series, "Getting Grace"?

Last Sunday, we looked at Paul's visit to Jerusalem and worked in the three ways to live. Here's an image that will jog your memory if you were there and provide some guidance if you were not there, but you can (and it's important to) catch up via audio. (on site OR itunes podcast)

This week we'll look at Paul's confrontation of Peter in Galatians 2:11-16 under the title, "Who's invited to dinner?" See you there?

rick rocks

I think Rick Holland just stole the show . . . so far. . . down here at the Shepherd's Conference. His message on the dangers of spiritual leadership from Leviticus 10 brought a stilled silence over the crowd. First time I've ever heard Rick. Dude has got the stuff. . . . that message alone was worth the price of admission for me.

Al Mohler is up tonight. I've got to do a bit of studying today, since I'm preaching on Sunday. I'll probably skip out on afternoon seminars. They are serving In & Out for lunch today.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Shepherd's Conference this week

Here's a pic of Scott Morton hamming it up today at the Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church down in L.A., where a few of us are hanging out till Friday. . . . Pastor Steve, Pastor Todd and Elders Scott Morton and Wayne Peterson. College Ministry Assistant Matt Esswein is coming down tonight.

The teaching has been good, but the fellowship has been even better. Being around 3500 pastors from all over the country and world makes me appreciate even more our community, the direction of our ministry, and our leadership. I am so, so, so blessed to do what I do, where I do it. Thanks to be God!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I just got an email saying that there are only 90 seats left in the whole PAC for the Friday/Saturday Piper Don't Waste You Life Conference on March 28-29.

That's nuts! If you want one, better call the PAC ASAP!

I think we maybe have just a few left this coming Sunday. . . maybe.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lifewater in the News

Here's a Tribune article spotlighting Lifewater International, with whom several of our folks have gone on missions trips. Tim Cleath is Zambia with Lifewater right now in fact. Dan Stevens spoke at our Missions Conference a couple years back. . .