Thursday, January 29, 2009

how bad is it going to get?

Ripped my heart up today to speak with two in our congregation who have recently lost their jobs. It is news I am hearing on a weekly basis these days. I'm also hearing about hours reductions and pay cuts.

Where's this go? Where's the bottom? How much worse do things get?

And how do we weather this thing together? How do we be the body of Christ in these days in new and meaningful ways? How do we encourage and support one another through these trying times?

I have more questions than answers on this Thursday afternoon. . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

for your review. . . .

As promised here are those quotes from the message last Sunday. . . .

The creation story has stood as a bulwark against a succession of fashionable errors -- polytheism, dualism, the eternity of matter, the evil of matter, astrology -- and not least against the tendency to empty human history of meaning. It resists this nihilism explicitly, in displaying man as God’s image and regent, but also implicitly, in presenting the tremendous acts of creation as a mere curtain raiser to the drama that slowly unfolds throughout the length of the Bible. The prologue is over in a page; there are a thousand to follow.

If every generation has needed this emphasis, perhaps, none has had greater need of it than the age of scientific knowledge. The scientific account of the universe . . . overwhelms us with statistics that reduce our apparent significance to a vanishing-point. Not the prologue, but the human story itself, is now the single page in a thousand, and the whole terrestrial volume is lost among the uncatalogued millions. Through the apparent naivety of this earth-centered and history-centered account, God says to each generation, whether it is burdened with the weight of factual knowledge which our own possesses, or with the misleading fantasies of the ancient religions, “Stand here, on this earth and in this present, to get the meaning of the whole. See this world as my gift and my charge to you with the sun, moon and stars as its lamps and timekeepers, and its creatures under your care.”

--Derek Kidner, Genesis, pp. 57

To the one who lives forever, for whom “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day”, who delights in gradually working out all His purposes over time, perhaps 15 billion years is just the right amount of time to take in preparing the universe for man’s arrival and 4.5 billion years in preparing the earth.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 15, Creation, pp. 297

With respect to the length of days in Genesis 1, the possibility must be left open that God has chosen not to give us enough information to come to a clear decision on this question, and the real test of faithfulness to Him may be the degree to which we can act charitably toward those who in good conscience and full belief in God’s Word hold to a different position on this matter.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 15, Creation, pp. 297

In Genesis, the narrator only tells us that God commands the earth to bring forth life. He does not explain how that bringing forth occurs. . . The narrator of the creation account is not particularly concerned with the questions a scientist asks; rather, he wants to provide answers to the questions science cannot answer--who has created the world and for what purpose.

Bruce Waltke, Genesis, pp. 75

Hope those are helpful. The long Kidner quote is my favorite. . . .

Room in the Tent

In case you've been away the last two Sundays or if you are an out of the area "life together" reader. . . . we've launched into our new Genesis series, "The Gospel According to Genesis: Beginnings."

If you missed either of the last two messages, you can pull them down from iTunes HERE or from our website HERE.

Sunday's message was significant in that we dealt with some elephants in the room including various perspectives on the age of the earth and the length of days in Genesis. My argument is that there is "room in the tent" for various perspectives on these questions. Regardless of our personal beliefs/convictions, we ought to be charitable toward those who hold differing viewpoints. I then went on to layout what I believe are 3 essential, non-negotiable truths taught in Genesis that Christians ought to believe together.

(If you missed it, aren't you intrigued and don't you want to listen?)

Needless to say the emails keep coming . . . from folks on all sides of the issues. In hearing from biologists and nuclear physicists and others, I've been once more reminded that Grace is a very diverse place. By and large the dialogue has been what I hope for and encouraged: civil, charitable, open and humble.

A word about the homework assignment. . .

You may have noticed that the bottom of the outline included an assignment to either watch the movie "Expelled" or to read the Creation chapter from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. After the outlines were printed, we realized that we couldn't figure out how to get that long chapter in PDF form. So instead, we posted four Wayne Grudem lectures on the same material from a Sunday school class that he teaches at Scottsdale Bible Church. For those of you interested in this subject, I really encourage you to make the time to listen to these lectures as they will challenge and broaden your perspective, while taking you further than we were able to go last Sunday together. Again, you can get those HERE.

Several of you asked me post some of the quotes from Sunday's message. I will try and post those later today or tomorrow.

As always, your input is invited and appreciated. Let's keep the dialogue going. . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

a few thoughts on goals

Do you do goals? I'm a big believer. Since I try to not to do much productive stuff on vacation, I've given myself the freedom to firm up and write down my goals throughout the month of January.

I try not to be crazy about it and recognize that I won't hit everything I aim for . . . . . still if I aim, I'm bound to hit a few things. I think guilt sometimes discourages us from the valuable exercise of goal setting. I think we need to face that and work through it.

I think God is honored by goal setting. It fits with the creation mandate to be fruitful, rule and subdue the earth. . . . . in goal setting we are aiming for areas of fruitfulness, we are bringing areas of our bodies and lives into submission.

Likewise I think setting goals recognizes and honors the doctrine of stewardship. All in life has been given to us. Our time, talents, and treasure are a stewardship from Him and we will one day give an account for how we used what God loaned to us.

In Genesis 1, we're seeing that when God acted he acted with intentionality, purpose, focus and with eye on the end result. Seems to me goal setting also strives for these same values.

So I'm working on goals for my personal walk with the Lord, my relationships with Susie and our children, my health and fitness and my ministry at church, among other areas.

So here's an example . . . .

One of my goals in 2009 is to clean up my sermon prep a bit this year. I have let other things crowd this out and as a result I have often found myself preparing on Friday or Saturday, my days off. The Lord has been good in blessing His Word despite my sloppy preparation, but I don't want to live this way. I want to be more disciplined, more focused, more intentional and maintain better boundaries. I discovered this week, it won't be easy. It means saying no to more good things, delegating more, working smarter, wasting time less, and priority living. This week it's meant saying no to this blog.

I appreciate your prayers.

So how about sharing one of your goals? How about setting a few goals before January expires? How about sharing why you refuse to set goals?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

where we're going

I've been hearing great things about the new 8:00 service in the Founder's Hall. I'd love to hear your feedback. It was a little hard for me to be away the first two Sundays, but so healthy for me to let go. This Sunday we're going to try and get the climate control right in that space and try a new lower platform set-up. Again, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts . . .

Speaking of Sunday, this week we're kicking off our new Genesis series. In this first sub series we're calling "Beginnings" we'll look at the first 11 chapters. I expect this will take us through most of the spring. I've been looking forward to our return to the OT. I think this may be the beginning to a much, much larger slow movement through the entire Old Testament, but we'll see. Don't worry. . . we'll break it up into big chunks and take our sweet time. What's the rush? I expect we'll look at Ephesians this summer . . . if the Lord wills.

This Sunday is also Sanctity of Life Sunday, where we'll have the delight to dedicate some little ones to the Lord. If you are interested in dedicating your child or children, and yourselves to the Lord, it's still not too late to jump in. Just call the church office at 805.543.2358.

See you Sunday, maybe in the 8:00 . . .


Our Jr. High Director, Ben Collins, is a country boy! Check out these pics of his recent hunting trip where he and a buddy tagged no less than 18 geese and a couple of ducks . . .

Both the pics and the telling of his tale blew my mind. Seriously. . . another world that I know nothing about. . . . trekking over ice in the dark, lying in boats with geese decoys for hours, staying at an inn with camo sheets, etc.

You gotta ask him about it . . . I had no idea . . .

Monday, January 12, 2009

this week: ABIDE

We're back from a terrific family vacation and ready to charge into a new year. It's prayer week at Grace. Hope you're setting aside some extra time to pray with your nuclear family and others in the Grace family.

Each morning at 6:30 and afternoon at 12:00 noon the pastoral staff are facilitating times of prayer in the Fireside Room. Growth Groups are kicking their quarter off with a prayer focus this week as well and don't forget Drawing Near, our ongoing weekly prayer meeting every Wednesday evening at 6:00 PM.

Even for me as a pastor, I want to be the first to admit that prayer is hard. It's just so easy to neglect it in our non-stop, go-go-go world. I realize it's just not going to happen unless I schedule it and prioritize it. At the same time, prayer is so vital. Not only does prayer change the world because God has ordained to work through the prayers of His people, but as Pastor Steve reminded us on Sunday, this is part of how we abide in Jesus, Our Vine.

Why would we neglect to talk to our Creator and Savior, when He invites us to come to Him? Yet we do. . . . it's crazy.

I think sometimes our past failure in the area of prayers can be a barrier to our prayers today. This misses grace and is opposed to the Gospel. His mercies are new every morning. Let's not be bound to the past, but begin again today. Today is a new opportunity to come to Him.

I'll see you along the way . . .