Tuesday, May 27, 2008

fun fox news

This is just a fun little fox news story. . .


HT: Ben Collins

2 spots open

I understand a couple of guys have had to back out of the Men's Getaway coming up this weekend. If you're interested, contact Pastor Ken.

I'm looking forward to the time. . .


A group of women have come together and started a new blog aimed at encouraging the women of Grace . . . looks fun, creative and collaborative. . .

Check it out at http://www.slowomenofgrace.blogspot.com/

I've also added to the Blog's Menu on the right.

Friday, May 23, 2008

preach the Gospel to yourself

I'm not the only one saying these things. . .

Did you know Piper sat in our third service when he was in town awhile back? He's just a man, who puts his pants on like the rest of us, but it was still pretty cool to have him with us.

HT: Walt Behn

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gift for Hunger Awareness Day

As hopefully you are aware, our leadership made the decision to designate last sunday's Benevolence Offering to the SLO County Foodbank's Hunger Awareness Day project.

Their goal is to see the citizen's of SLO County each give one dollar on one day, June 10th.

I posted right here at Life Together about Hunger Awareness Day last year around this time. This year, Jill Talley, directed Maggie Cox our way from the public relations firm, Barnett, Cox and Associates who was spearheading the promo efforts for Hunger Awareness Day.

Maggie and I started chatting via email about 6 weeks ago and I expressed our desire to be involved at some level. Our staff and Financial Trustees came up with the Benevolence Offering idea as a great follow-up to our recent Serve Day. I thought we'd do better than "one dollar" for each of our congregation (I was right!). I didn't tell Maggie what we planned to do.

So last Sunday we made the announcement about the offering designation. Our average monthly benevolence offering is around $2,000. This last Sundays offering was just over $2900! The need and idea obvioulsy resonated with the family of Grace. It was so close, we just decided to round the gift to $3000.

I had the pleasure of emailing Maggie on Monday to share the news. She was floored. I thought her response would encourage your hearts on this Thursday. . . .

WOW!!!!!!!! You and your congregation have just blown us away. Many, many thanks!

Carl Hansen (Food Bank) and I are doing a presentation on Hunger Awareness Day at the Chamber breakfast this Thursday. Since the event is at Grace, I thought it would be fun to announce the donation and surprise Carl with the check as part of my remarks—we can give Grace a public thank you in its own venue, and make a point about the power of giving. Can really help build momentum. Does that sound ok? Possible to get the check by Thursday a.m.? We can pick it up.Thank you so very much.
So that's what happned this morning at the Chamber Breakfast, Good Morning SLO. Maggie just kept thanking us. She said she hoped that we might contribute "a few hundred dollars."

Such a pleasure! Such a blessing to me! One more small way we're striving to be "a church in the community, serving the community." I threw this need and opportunity out to my fellow pastors in the Central Coast Evangelical Pastor's Network. I hope a few other churches jump on board.

Thanks for your generous giving to the work of God through Grace.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've got a problem. . .

If you were around for last week's message, you know that the train sort of jumped the track on Sunday. I went over at least 15 minutes during the first hour, maybe closer to 20. I am often a bit over, but Sunday was unusually long.

For what it's worth I thought I'd give you the back story. . . .

  • I am trying to get through Galatians by the end of the summer.
  • I have to be away several Sundays this summer and our staff made the decision that, given the complexity of the Galatians argument, it's probably most effective if I hold on to Galatians. Ken will be on Sabbatical this summer, so Steve will be doing an interspersed series on the doctrine of the Word on the weeks I am not here.
  • The end result of all these realities is that I have tried to combine some texts I had planned to preach separately. It didn't work too well last Sunday. Clearly that was 2 messages.
  • I think I am a bit tired. It was my fifteenth Sunday in a row. I am ready for a pulpit break and will get one, not this Sunday, but next as I sneak away with the men for the Men's Retreat. I am still speaking 3 times, but it's different and a nice change up. All that to say when I get tired, I tend to get "loose" and undisciplined in my time and content management.
  • In addition, it was a Communion Sunday, which are always "tight" since we have an extra 10-15 minute piece in the service.
  • It was hot and our Sunday School teachers were dying. Not a good Sunday to go over.

So . . . after the first hour, I cut the message in half and preached only through the first point. . . and still went over. Yikes!

So . . the first hour heard a different message than the second and third hours. Radio got the longer message. Web got the shorter message . I am pretty sure that's the first time that's happened in 5 years. I'm still trying to figure out how to straighten out this mess for this Sunday. I think what will happen is that I will change up the content some and just preach it again. After all, repetition is the key to learning.

I still have the challenge of how to get through all this amazing truth before the end of the Summer. I don't want to rush it, but it doesn't make sense to take the Galatians beyond the Fall Kick Off. The Lord will lead. Pray for me!

One more reminder to me and you that I don't have it all figured out. I'm weak. I make mistakes. I get tired. I make poor choices. I'm on journey. I'm still learning.

God's Word is a deep well every time we go it. Its treasures are inexhaustible. There's always more there than we can digest. Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2008 Grace Summer Nights

Children's Ministry Director, Dori Iunker, has been working hard to solidify our Grace Summer Night's schedule. I'm excited about what has come together.

This year, with our facilities being all mixed up due to the Early Childhood Center/Founder's Hall Renewal Project, we've opted for four evenings of total fun.

  • July 8- Family Night at the Mustang Waterslides (Yep, we've rented the whole park!)

  • July 15- Family Beach Night at Port San Luis

  • July 22- Hoedown with Square Dancing and Line Dancing

  • July 29- Wild & Crazy Talent Show
Each evening will cost a mere $2 per person and include a meal. At least a couple of these evenings will include a brief family devotion.

This year we really want to focus on reaching out to and inviting our friends and neighbors. Our challenge will be "everybody brings." We think these evenings are a great way for folks to experience the joy of Life@Grace.

So, put these dates on your calendar. Stay-tuned for the Grace Summer Nights brochure. Be thinking and praying about who you might invite.

Can't wait. . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Encouraging Email of the Week

Got this great email from a gal in our church last Saturday evening. It fired me up to preach after what had already been an exhausting week that had included not one, but two tragic memorial services. . .

Hi Pastor Tim,
I wanted to thank you for all the devotion you are showing your flock by teaching us the gospel every Sunday. I am enlightened by your clarification of the gospel message by embeding it within the context of Old Testament scripture. Just the other day one of the non-believing students I work with asked me to tell him a story from the Bible. By the grace of God, the story of Abraham and Isaac was fresh on my mind from your sermon last Sunday. I told this story emphasizing the message God gave to Abraham of how he would provide the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices. I am wheeping with joy as I tell you how greatful I was for the words God has given me through you and his helping me to remember his story and link it to the good news of the gospel. It was an incredible moment to be able to share the gospel with 6 students in my school who seemed to be hungry for the knowledge of their savior. I wanted to share this with you because you should know that what you are preaching is finding its way to the ears of others who have never set foot in a church before. Be encouraged to keep doing what you are doing despite the resistance of others. My husband and I are proud to call you our pastor and we are praying for you and your family.
This gal is learning to read the bible differently. . . rightly as a story of redemption, rather than as a book of rules. Praise the Lord!

Monday, May 12, 2008

not better, but worse

Several again asked for the quotes referenced in Sunday's message titled, "Why the Law Then?" Hope you'll catch up if you missed it.

How, then, is it possible to create a harmony, between the law and the promise? Only by seeing that men inherit the promise because they cannot keep the law, and that their inability to keep the law makes the promise all the more desirable, indeed indispensable.
--John Stott

The Law with its function does contribute to justification --not because it justifies,
but because it impells one to the promise of grace and makes it sweet and desirable. Therefore, we do not abolish the Law; but we show its true function and use, namely, that is a most useful servant impelling us to Christ. . .
--Martin Luther

The principle point of the law is to make men not better, but worse; that is to say, it shows them their sin, so that by that knowledge they may be humbled, terrified, bruised and broken, and by this means may be driven to seek grace, and so come to that blessed Seed.
--Martin Luther

The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others and beat it into their heads continually.
--Martin Luther
Each week, I'm sharing what I'm learning. I'd love it if you share what you're learning in our Galatians series.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Serve Day Slide Show

Have you filled out the survey yet? What are you waiting for?

Here's a slideshow of Serve Day. If you took your own, email them to us. . .

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Serve Day Survey & Stories

We had such an amazing Serve Day last Saturday. We lived the Gospel here on the Central Coast by. . .

  • visiting 27 locations...
  • with 310 volunteers...
  • in Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, SLO & Atascadero...
  • serving 5 different schools, handicapped infants, seniors in retirement homes, several homeless shelters, an animal shelter, active duty military, AIDS patients, cops, firefighters, and more!!!
Now we're working hard to gather the stories of your experiences and God's work among us. Can you share your story by taking our quick online survey? Our goal is to see at least 100 people take the survey. The more feedback the better for planning the next Serve Day.

To take the survey and share your story, CLICK HERE

To read other's stories as they're added, CLICK HERE

Here's some of the great feedback lifted from the survey results so far, to encourage you to share your own . . .

What did you enjoy most about your Serve Day project?and What was a fun story from your Serve Day experience?

“Folks were just in the right place at the right time to serve. We had a few people less than a week at grace who jumped in and were such a huge help. Another guy was less than a month or two at church and could not wait to get started. He was the first one there and the last one to leave. I really needed his help setting up and that was awesome timing. People really get to know each other when they work together, and that was an unintended consequence of serving that I really enjoyed. I will always have something to joke about with those guys in the courtyard. :)”

I have been looking into volunteering with Choices, and had been coordinating with a friend from JFA to get involved- but it turned out that Maria, our community leader, was the volunteer organizer. I was able to connect with her and set up future dates to work together.

“We had fun working in the kitchen while we were half asleep, with no coffee! It was fun getting to know new friends, but the "fun" kind of stopped when faced with the reality of mental illness and homelessness...”

“I enjoyed being able to serve someone that normally would never have an opportunity to get "waited on"! Seeing their faces when taking coffee refills to them in the far reaches of the yard, or in the dining room was such a blessing. Giving them a few minutes of what most of us take for granted was wonderful!!”

“I felt I got more out of the serve day than the recipients. My friend and I made cookies for one of the firehouses in town and in return we were given a tour of the station and had the opportunity to meet some really neat people who risk there lives daily to protect and serve the community. It was really great!”

“Meeting new people who attend our church and sharing laughs and friendship with them”

Would you encourage your friends to sign up for Serve Day next year?

It's a great way to take the focus off yourself and even though I had things to do at home, this seemed to be more important - my stuff will still be there.

It's a great way to get to know the people in the community you are serving and the people you are serving with.

Huge blessing to serve. Very humbling.

It was a huge blessing for me and my kids


Serve Day is not only a church activity, but also an activity that can ultimately get the community as a whole involved. For each additional person who signs up, THAT much more community outreach can be attained. It is my hope that the next Serve Day will draw a hundred more people than this one.

What did you enjoy most about leading your Serve Day project?

I truly enjoyed the fact that I was involved in serving God's will. How much more exciting can that be?! Just having such positive interactions with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and the volunteers at my specific organization was outstanding.

From a community leader's perspective . . .

What did you enjoy most about your Serve Day project?

The ebullient attitudes of each member of our serve team were just moving. It was truly an honor to be 'graced' with their presence.

What was a fun story from your Serve Day experience?

There isn't one particular stand out moment. Seeing the spark in our residents' eyes watching these eager volunteers organize something that is so sacred to them (their library) meant a great deal to me.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

4 spots left

Only four spots left for the Men's Retreat. . . email Pastor Ken to reserve your spot.

keep your eye simply on Him

Lots of people asked for the Spurgeon quote from Sunday's message, "Performance or Promise?" Here it is. . .

Did you miss Sunday? You really need to get caught up before Sunday. Listen Here

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.

But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Expelled is here. . .

Maybe your phone calls worked. . . Expelled is playing at the SLO Downtown Cinemas beginning today. Times are 1:40, 4:15, 6:45 and 9:10. Go see it if you can.

Trailer was posted last week HERE.

Elders in Action

I'm encouraged by how our elders are going for it in other areas of life. . .

Did you see the article about Rick Ernstrom's SLO High Swim Team in Thursday's paper . . . 8th straight title! That's amazing!

8th Straight Title

And here's Kendall Mattina and the wild turkey he shot recently with his bow. That thing is huge! When you see him, ask him to tell you the story. I was dumbfounded. Kendall is such a man's man. I ride a bike wearing spandex . . . he hunts.

I love these guys and give thanks for the unity we share!