Thursday, April 30, 2009

Serve Day

Here's that Serve Day video from a couple weeks back. . . Hope you're comin' on Saturday, May 16!

now what?

Did you see the cover of Newsweek a couple week's ago with the headline article, The End of Christian America?

Worth the read. Al Mohler is quoted extensively and offers great insights. . .

While the post-Christian days that confront us are a challenge, I'm convinced that they also offer Christ-followers abundant opportunities. Politics has failed to produce for the church the much-longed for power and influence. Politics has failed to prevent the cultural slide toward secularism. Even as Americans at large now look to the government as their Provider and Savior, it is time for the church to give up its politics idol. So now what?

Now is the time for the church to return to the only thing we really have to offer the world. . . . the good news of Jesus Christ. Let's belief it. Let's talk about it. Let's live it out through humble service.

Our way forward is through service. . . . so come serve with us at our 2nd Annual Serve Day on Saturday, May 16. (Contact Pastor Ken to get involved!)

Christians should and must serve in every area of cultural engagement and profession, including politics, but let us not put our hope and trust in politics, but in the Lord and His kingdom that transcends all earthly kingdoms. Let us not despair. Jesus is the victor. The Gospel wins. The end is sure.

Its a well attested fact that the church is best when she is against the ropes and suffering persecution. That may well be our future lot. There is much in Scripture to sustain our souls when the suffering comes.

National Day of Prayer is next Thursday, May 7. As usual there will be a gathering at the flagpole at City Hall. If you can, come on over and let us pray for our community and country together with other Christians throughout SLO County.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gospel Coalition Conference Audio/Video

Some of you have mentioned that its not easy to locate the Gospel Coalition Conference message links. . . . .

Looks like they've made it easier. . .

Start at the top. . . . If you don't have time for all, I'd highly recommend Keller, Piper, Driscoll, Harris (in workshop section below) and Carson.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

God @ Work at Grace . . . 6th grade girls

As a great follow-up to the last post, check out what God is doing in some of the young gals at Grace . . . on Lindsey Iunker's blog . . .

Monday, April 27, 2009

no wonder. . .

As the father of two young girls, I loved the powerful message of this Dove commercial. . . . a deconstruction of our cultures beauty/perfection idol . . .

my "shoot from the hip" reasons to
believe the Gospel

I love doing ministry in a college town! It's fresh and dynamic. Regularly students come to me with their assignments, needing questions answered. They usually come a bit late and close to the due date. I do what I can to make time for these divine interruptions, seeing them as opportunities to give a reason for my hope and let the Gospel "sound forth."

A student named Kevin sent me an email last Friday on behalf of a friend and his assignment that was due early this week. While I sat on the plane last Friday, I fired off some quick and rough "shoot from the hip" answers to the following 10 questions. And then I had an opportunity to interact with Kevin and his friend on Sunday. I think the conversation will continue in person down the road.

I thought my answers might benefit others who are in the game of engaging with those who do not yet believe (and I hope you are!). Once more, I believe a Gospel worldview is reasonable and defensible to today's post-Christian world. This is really how I try to talk to people when I have the opportunity to open my mouth for the sake of Christ. What you've heard me say on Sunday morning again and again is exactly what I look to say with any unbeliever . . . .

1. Why did you choose to become a pastor? Do you think it was a calling from God?

Yes, I believe it was a calling from God. I was a business economics major planning on pursuing a career in business, when God redirected my future. Essentially, I realized I wanted to invest my life in things of lasting and eternal significance.

2. Did you grow up in a Christian family? If so, did you have any doubts when you were growing up? If not, what triggered you to believe in the Christian Religion?

I did grow up in a Christian family. I experienced a period of doubt and deconstruction of my beliefs in high school after the tragic death of an uncle. Reading and exploration of other worldviews lead me back to Christianity, as I recognized the person and cross of Christ as the best fit hypothesis to explain the world as we know and experience it. I continue to have my doubts and have embraced doubt as a dimension of faith.

3. What is your view on Christian agnostics?

I am not sure what a Christian agnostic is. An agnostic is someone who believes that God exists, but that he cannot be known in a personal way. I am not sure how someone might legitimately be a "Christian agnostic."

4. What is your view on the comparison on the God of the Old and the New Testament?

The God the Bible is the same in both Testaments who makes himself and his plan of redemption known progressively through history and climactically in the person of Jesus Christ. The OT God of wrath and NT God of grace and love is a false dichotomy, a charicature and an inaccurate reading of the Bible. God is holy and just, so He is angry toward and punishes sin. At the same time He is graceful and loving toward sinners. The promise of God to redeem a fallen world and humanity begins on page 3 (Genesis 3:15) of the Bible and is finally realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, looking forward to a full consummation at the return of Jesus. At the cross, God's holiness and love meet. At the cross, God is just, but also justifies sinners.

5. What is your view on subjective morality, is it plausible?

Subjective morality is non-sensical. Apart from a creator, all morality is a human construct and there is no defensible basis for it. . . neither majority or might. And yet everyone admits that certain acts are wrong. . .we know it, we feel it. . . . .acutely when a daughter is raped or a spouse is murdered . . . . . morality inevitably lead us back to God, the moral-maker.

6. How would you define purpose?

Our purpose or the word "purpose"? I believe the Bible teaches that humanity exists to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

7. What is your view on the origin of the human mind?

I believe and the Bible teaches that humankind is uniquely and specially made in "the image of God." The human mind is just one part of the human person. . . one part of this image-bearing package.

8. Catholics believe in purgatory, but why don't the Protestants believe in purgatory?

Protestants do not believe in purgatory, because they are unconvinced that purgatory is taught in the Bible. For protestants, the Bible is the final authority and arbiter of Christian belief and practice.

9. Is there a possibility that God does not exist?

Yes, there is a possibility that God does not exist. My own view is that it takes more faith to believe that God does not exist than to believe that He does exist. Beauty, love, simplicity/complexity, intelligent design everywhere we look, our deep human longings and feelings, our human brokenness and the implicit morality of the universe all point to the existence of God. I, personally, am not prepared to abandon these realities and embrace an accidental, purely material universe hurling toward an unknown trajectory.

10. Salvation according to some Christians comes from taking Jesus as your god and accepting the claimed blood sacrifice, while on the other hand, Jesus seems to be saying the opposite. Why is that? Aren't Christians supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus', why would Jesus contradict today's Christians?

There are two ways to know God.

1. Live a perfect, sinless life the holiness of God requires. (Go ahead and try!)

2. Trust Jesus, the substitute that God provides who lives the life that we should live and dies the death that we deserve.

Jesus, throughout his ministry is continually erecting way #1 before the people who come to him, because they think they can "DO" something to inherit eternal life. He does so in in in order to lead them to way #2, faith in himself. He is saying. . . go ahead and try to save yourself .. . . in order to bring show their own inability and need for a Savior. I believe this is what the entire OT and history of Israel demonstrates. . . humankind's inability to DO what God actually requires. This is the beauty of the Gospel . . . Christ lives the life that God requires which uniquely qualifies him to die in the place of sinners.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Life @ Grace for the week beginning Sunday, April 26

Did you get the this week's all church email? If not, check your junk box. If it's not there, call the church office and confirm that we've got your correct email.

Beloved Family of Grace,

Greetings from the windy city of Chicago! It’s been a refreshing and renewing week for our pastoral staff attending the Gospel Coalition Conference. Thank you all for the opportunity to be fed in this nourishing way.

Here's a few things before us as a Gospel community, opportunities to connect, grow and encourage one another together . . .

1. This Sunday, April 26: I am delighted to have my former pastor and mentor, Pastor Don Smith, open God's Word from Genesis 4 & 5 with us and for us.

2. Baptism Sunday, May 3, 9:30 & 11:00 AM: Please note . . . there is no 8:00 service on this Sunday. It’s not too late to obey the Lord and get baptized, so contact Pastor Ken for more info. Baptism services are vital services for our Grace family and for your family. Plan to join us. Better yet, invite a friend to join us.

3. Mexico Dinner, Sunday, May 3, 6:00 PM, $5/ person: Once more we're stepping out to send our students to Mexico to build houses for the needy. It’s a whole church thing, so come out and have a burrito, learn about the project and support our students through the cost of your meal. I'm bringing my kids! Contact Pastor Todd for more information.

4. Ladies Salad Supper, Monday, May 4, 6:30 PM: Always a sweet time of fellowship for the women of the church and community. Husbands, step up, encourage and make it possible for your wife to be there. Contact Women's Ministry Director, Debbi Weeks to RSVP.

5. Child Dedication, Mother's Day, May 10: Children are a gift from the Lord . . . to the parents and to our Gospel community. On these vital Sundays we recognize and rejoice in these precious gifts as parents commit themselves to the privilege of Biblical parenting. Contact our church office to dedicate your own children.

On the blog . . .

Access to resources and reflections from our time at The Gospel Coalition Conference.

Did you know . . .

Our goal is to see 400+ of our Grace community actively involved in our 2nd annual Serve Day on May 16, as we live the Gospel and serve our community in Jesus' name. Sign-up this Sunday at the Serve Day table in the Courtyard. I can't wait!

After being away this week, I'm looking forward to worshiping and being together with you!

Because of and for the Gospel . . . Pastor Tim

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

GCC reflections

Here are a few random reflections from our time away this week at the Gospel Coalition Conference . . .

  • It was a delight to see 3300 men gather to be encouraged to center their lives and ministries around the Gospel. We are not alone in our focus at Grace.

  • It is awesome to worship together with so many. Heaven is going to be great. Can't wait.
  • I was encouraged in our mission as a church. . . to celebrate, proclaim and live the Gospel on the Central Coast and beyond. We are moving in the right direction. Proclamation and incarnation! Both most happen. Our way forward is service.

  • It was exciting to see so many great expositors breaking the bread of God's Word, each with a different and unique personality and preaching style. There is only one Piper. One Keller. One Carson. There is not one way to preach God's Word. Preaching is truth through personality. I and our guys each need to be who God created and is shaping us to be.

  • Keller really made me think about idolatry. The idols of my life, the idols of our Central Coast community, the idols of Grace Church. Idolotry is alive and well in our lives and culture. The Gospel discerns, exposes, and intends to destroy our idols.

  • I was challenged to keep thinking out how we might be "all things to all men" to win the lost and unbelieving. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 shook me up. How do we keep contextualizing the Gospel here on the Central Coast. How do "participate in the Gospel" by giving up our own tastes, interests, traditions, and fixations for the sake of those who do not yet believe? I think we've got some work to do.

  • Its all about team ministry. We have a great team of faithful gifted guys who love the Lord and you his people. Its exciting to see Matt and Ben, who they're becoming and how the Lord might use them as they head off to seminary next fall. We need to keep gathering and investing in young men who will give themselves to Gospel ministry. Faithful men who will teach others also . . . . ala 2 Timothy 2:2. Strategic, multiplying ministry.
  • It is so valuable and challenging to visit other churches and meet with other ministry teams. Different churches do things different ways. There is more than one way to structure and do Gospel ministry. Systems and organization are important shepherding tools. Programs are not the goal, but shepherding. I want our pastors, elders and leaders to shepherd the flock of God among us with eagerness and passion.

  • I really want to see unsaved people meet and come to faith in Jesus. I want the Lord to pour out His Spirit on our community for the salvation of men and women. I desire to see conversion growth, not transfer growth.

  • I want my flame to BURN for the Lord . . . . ala 2 Timothy 1:6. Lord, kindle it afresh. I'm still holding back. I'm still constrained. I'm still fearful to let it all out.

  • It is a joy to serve the Lord here at Grace. We have a healthy and growing church. Not a perfect church . . . far from it. . . . This is a really exciting, strategic, fun place to do ministry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gospel Coaltion Conference

We're having an amazing time together at the Gospel Coalition Conference back in Chicago this week. There has been no viable internet access at the conference center, so I've been Twittering the event on my phone. You can read my short updates along the way here or in the right sidebar.

Here's a pic of the crew at dinner taken by Scott Anderson, one of the guys with who we met last Spring when the hosted the regional conference in SLO. . . .

If you want to sample what we're enjoying, all messages are being both live streamed and uploaded to

I've been reflecting on the difference of coming and enjoying a conference like this live vs. just downloading and listening online. While it's sure a lot cheaper to listen for free online, there is something powerful about traveling together, eating together, processing, thinking and working through what we've heard together, and just getting away from all our normal responsibilities together.

We gotta keep doing this. Not necessarily every year, but regularly. We've got a great team.

Tonight we had a chance to share dinner with the executive pastoral team from Covenant Life Church, CJ Mahaney's former church and Josh Harris' present church. It was a thought-provoking and challenging discussion of shepherding, structure and church membership. Those are sharp guys, working hard to shepherd the flock of their Lord's people . . . . 4000 of them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

sleepy boy

4.15 today posting one handed

Monday, April 13, 2009

bunch of blogs

Thanks to those who have been kind enough to alert me of new and emerging blogs. Here's what I know:

  • Sage Theule, one of my 5 favorite people in the world, at sagetheule@blogspot.comblogging under the title Good Things.

All of these blogs have been added to the blog roll. Deanna Peek's blog and Lisa Leonard's blog have also been updated.

Keep 'em coming!

dividing & conquering

Susie is headed to Washington D.C. with Sage for the week, so I'm juggling the other three, pastoral and sermon prep responsibilities. Should be interesting . . . . appreciate your prayers.

A week from now, our 5 pastors and two pastoral ministry assistants (Ben and Matt) are heading out the Gospel Coalition Pastor's Conference in Chicago. It will be the only pastors conference that all of us have had the opportunity to attend together. Can't wait! It's going to be great time of connection, instruction and fun. Matt has even arranged for us to catch a Cubs game. Most of us will be staying with some of Susie's relatives, but Pastor Al will be staying with his folks (both Al and Susie grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.)

Tim Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson are all part of the speaking line-up. To give you a taste of these guys and what we'll be experiencing here is a conversation between them where they are discussing one of my very favorite topics. . . deconstructing legalism . . .

To listen to the entire 10 part conversation (this is part 4), GO HERE.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

updated blog roll

I just updated the "Other Blogs of the GraceSLO community because I noticed that blogger now offers a widget that gives you an option to see when the featured blogs have been updated last. Most recent blogs are then pushed to the top of that list. I think that's pretty cool.

I believe I've got the most comprehensive list of GraceSLO related blogs that's out there. Now instead of clicking to each one, you can use Life Together to see who is updating and when.

If you or someone you know in the GraceSLO community has a blog, let me know and I'll add them to the growing list. . . .I'm happy to mention them in a post when I add them to the blogroll.

Blogs are one way for us to connect and keep up with one another's lives.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

thievery & vandalism

Sadly, we've had two recent incidents of theft of cash from different locations on our campus. We are investigating and reviewing/revising all cash processing procedures. It's possible this is an "inside job", which really grieves my heart.

And then this week, I came cruising down Pismo on my bike to meet elder chairman Scott Morton for our weekly 6:30 am coffee only to discover that vandals had broken one of our new pots outside the Osos entrance. and ripped out a couple of plants along Pismo. I noticed that other homes along Pismo also had broken pots, so I am guessing this is more random and not spectifically targeted toward the church.

Our desire is to be as open as we can be. For 6 years I've complained about the myriad of locked doors on our campus. It's hard to maintain an open posture when stuff like this happens.

Pray for these theives and vandals today. Pray for our leadership that we won't over-react to these incidents, but find a Gospel balance between security/stewardship and open service.

tools I use: dropbox

Between home and office, it is not unusual for me to do service planning/message prep on up to 4 different computers. In addition, my assistant, Deb Johnston, also accesses and edits service/message files. The results of all this is multiple versions of the same file spread over multiple computers where it's a pain to determine which is the current, file or proofed copy.

Enter Dropbox. Dropbox is an easy and secure way to share and sync files across multiple computers and platforms. What I love about Dropbox is that syncing happens in the background. You save to your computer, Dropbox "feels" when you save, then automatically updates the files on your web account and then on any other computers where Dropbox is enabled and open. I don't have to manually update the web. I don't have to go through 5 steps to log into VPN. I just save in the file in my Dropbox on the computer I'm working on and then it's available on any other computer where I might need it.

After working with Dropbox, all I can say is it works terrific and has greatly simplified and streamlined my workflow.

Here's an introductory video . . .

Dropbox is free, but if you sign up, use this link and you and I will both get some additional storage space.

Check it out and tell me what you think . . . .

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Augustine on the Two Humanities

Augustine's City of God is the first and massive Christian view of history undertaken to address the sack of Rome by the barbarian King Aleric, in 410 A.D.. The Roman Empire had been Christianized after the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D.. When Rome was sacked, Christians of the day asked the same sorts of questions we are apt to ask. . . "How could God let this happen? What now that the Roman Empire will be run over with barbarians? Where is God in all this?"

Augustine takes up his pen to show how the kingdom of God is not of this world and how it transcends the kingdoms of this world and eventually overcomes all other kingdoms. His argument begins by going all the way back to the beginning, all the way back to Genesis. The basis of his argument is that beginning with Genesis 3:15 there are . . . .

  • 2 humanities (those who live by faith in God and those who live for themselves),
  • 2 cities (i.e kingdoms, the city of man = symbolized by Babylon and the city of God=symbolized by Jerusalem)
  • 2 loves (those who love themselves and man's glory and those who love God and His glory)
That's enough of an introduction. Here are a few quotes. . .

And thus it has come to pass, that though there are very many and great nations all over the earth, whose rites and customs, speech, arms, and dress, are distinguished by marked differences, yet there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, according to the language of our Scriptures. The one consists of those who wish to live after the flesh, the other of those who wish to live after the spirit; and when they severally achieve what they wish, they live in peace, each after their kind. . . .

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” . . .

This race we have distributed into two parts, the one consisting of those who live according to man, the other of those who live according to God. And these we also mystically call the two cities, or the two communities of men, of which the one is predestined to reign eternally with God, and the other to suffer eternal punishment with the devil. This, however, is their end, and of it we are to speak afterwards. At present, as we have said enough about their origin, whether among the angels, whose numbers we know not, or in the two first human beings, it seems suitable to attempt an account of their career, from the time when our two first parents began to propagate the race until all human generation shall cease. For this whole time or world-age, in which the dying give place and those who are born succeed, is the career of these two cities concerning which we treat . . .

Of these two first parents of the human race, then, Cain was the first-born, and he belonged to the city of men; after him was born Abel, who belonged to the city of God. For as in the individual the truth of the apostle’s statement is discerned, “that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual,”whence it comes to pass that each man, being derived from a condemned stock, is first of all born of Adam evil and carnal, and becomes good and spiritual only afterwards, when he is grafted into Christ by regeneration: so was it in the human race as a whole. When these two cities began to run their course by a series of deaths and births, the citizen of this world was the first-born, and after him the stranger in this world, the citizen of the city of God, predestinated by grace, elected by grace, by grace a stranger below, and by grace a citizen above. By grace,—for so far as regards himself he is sprung from the same mass, all of which is condemned in its origin; but God, like a potter (for this comparison is introduced by the apostle judiciously, and not without thought), of the same lump made one vessel to honor, another to dishonor. But first the vessel to dishonor was made, and after it another to honor. For in each individual, as I have already said, there is first of all that which is reprobate, that from which we must begin, but in which we need not necessarily remain; afterwards is that which is well-approved, to which we may by advancing attain, and in which, when we have reached it we may abide. Not, indeed, that every wicked man shall be good, but that no one will be good who was not first of all wicked; but the sooner any one becomes a good man, the more speedily does he receive this title, and abolish the old name in the new. Accordingly, it is recorded of Cain that he built a city, but Abel, being a sojourner, built none. For the city of the saints is above, although here below it begets citizens, in whom it sojourns till the time of its reign arrives, when it shall gather together all in the day of the resurrection; and then shall the promised kingdom be given to them, in which they shall reign with their Prince, the King of the ages, time without end.

Battle of the Peets

Check out Pastor Ken, doing what he does with excellence, effectiveness and passion. . . . and beating his bro when necessary. . .

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bible 101

Last Sunday's message was really Bible 101! We looked at how Genesis shapes how we read and understand the Bible. I tried to give a brief, but sweeping, overview of the structure of the Bible, its acts, sections, chapters and episodes. So fun. . . .

If you missed, listen and catch up.

I didn't have time to highlight some major themes in the Bible and promised I would post those here. Be aware and watch for these themes throughout the Bible. . . .

  1. The sovereign rule and power of the Lord God, who promises the Seed. In the garden at the Fall, God's sovereignty is challenged. The rest of the Bible serves as an assertion of God's Sovereign rule and a demonstration of His awesome power. God must and will show that He is the true Sovereign. Even our lost, blind, dead hearts must be turned by Him to Him. What God requires we cannot do ourselves. Salvation is a work of God's sovereign grace.

  2. The character of the Lord God, who promises the Seed. The Bible is an ongoing display of God's manifold character. His holiness and justice appear counterbalanced against his grace and mercy. How will these be reconciled and preserved? The cross is the ultimate and final answer. The Bible reveals who God is. Look for it as you read.

  3. The scope, impact and ongoing consequences of sin and our universal and deep need for the Seed. The ravaging effects of sin are seen throughout the bible in the lives of just about every character. Even the heroes of the faith are marked by brokenness and often gross sin. See through the gloss, get past the idealism. Don't put any of these characters on a pedastal. Though sometimes examples of faith, the story really isn't about any of the individual characters, but about the Lord God who is acting in history to accomplish His sovereign saving, plan and purposes. God must intervene to bring us back. Someone must live the life that we should be living and die the death that we deserve.

  4. The necessity of faith in receiving the seed promise personally and living out of the Seed promise practically. Those who lived before the coming of the Seed, Jesus, looked forward to His coming by faith. We who live after the coming of the Seed, look back on His coming by faith. The righteous live, not by and because of their own righteousness, but by faith in God's righteousness. Faith is the only way to a relationship with God. We cannot earn it and we don't deserve it. We can only receive the salvation that God offers in Christ . . . .by faith. Every page of the Bible challenges us with the question, "Do I believe and trust the Lord God? Am I living by faith in Him?" Salvation is and has always been by grace alone through faith alone in the Seed (Christ) alone. Our faith need not be perfect, but it must be in the right direction and in the right object. There are two humanities in the world: those who trust themselves and live for themselves and those who trust the Lord God and live for Him. Faith is the defining mark of the people of God.
I believe these are some of the dominant themes of the Bible. There are many, many other themes, but I believe these are among the most dominant and therefore can provide a helpful guide for understanding and navigating the Creation, Fall, Redemption, New Creation drama of the Bible.

Open your Bible this week and read it afresh. If you lack desire, ask the Lord vigilantly for it and listen to last week's message one more time. Enjoy and know that I'm praying for you this week!

Life@Grace for Easter Week beginning 04.06.09

Beloved Family of Grace,

Christ is Risen! Hope and rejoice in that world-changing Truth this week as we move toward Easter Sunday together. Here are your life @ grace reminders for this week. . .

  • Invite a Friend to our 8:00 AM, 9:30 or 11:00 Easter Services: Here are 3 great ways you might break the ice. . .

    1. In Person: Hey, what are you doing Easter Sunday? Want to come to church with me/us?

    2. Via Email: I was thinking about you and wanted to invite you to join us at our church on Easter Sunday. The attached card has all the details. Let me know if you are interested. (Invite card is attached to this email below!)

    3. Via Blogs, Facebook, Twitter or other Social Networks: I'm looking forward to celebrating Easter at Grace. Come along with me. Check out for service times and all the info.

  • Don't forget about Good Friday’s Christ in the Passover Service this Friday, 7:00 PM: One of my favorite services of the year! Christ in the Passover format is back by popular demand

  • April Life @ Grace is now available! Pick up a copy at the doors after worship, or at the Welcome Centers. Or you can download it and print it yourself right now and save the church a little $$. I just posted mine on our refrigerator!

On the Blog . . .

• As promised in last week's message, I'll post a what I believe are critical Big Picture Biblical Themes to look for in your personal Bible reading and a few thoughts on the two humanities from Augustine's City of God.

• Check out
last week's reflections and a great video on the dignity of work.

Did You Know . . .

. . . buying Scrip for the stuff you buy anyway, like groceries and gas, can help support our Student Ministries? Go to the Student Ministries in the Courtyard any Sunday for more details or download the info sheet.

I can't wait to celebrate the Gospel with you!

Pastor Tim

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

super heros & super thoughts

Haaken went to a friend's "Super Hero" birthday party at Mustang Lanes last Sunday after church. . . . I missed him rolling his ball down the lane, but did get to see this great pic of he and Lily Cheney. Haaken LOVED his super hero gear and has been wearing it ever since. I love it when he wears it without shirt and his robust, stout little tummy hangs out. Kills me!

And then my friend, Roger, sent me this great piece from Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest, entitled Gracious Uncertainty . . .

Gracious Uncertainty

" . . . it has not yet been revealed what we shall be . . . "

—1 John 3:2

Our natural inclination is to be so precise— trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next— that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, "Well, what if I were in that circumstance?" We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life— gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, ". . . unless you . . . become as little children . . ." (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, ". . . believe also in Me" (John 14:1 ), not, "Believe certain things about Me". Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

That's awesome! While I definitely want to guard and defend the truth, I want to be and do so much more. I want to believe Jesus, not just certain things about Jesus. . . . not passively, but actively, passionately, expectantly. My favorite line. . .

We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled.
That is really insightful and I've seen it over and over again in 15 years of pastoral ministry. . . that creeping-in self righteous, smug, legalism and dogmatism. Grace and daily trust in a certain God, who does uncertain things, must and will grow in us a humble, open, free grace toward others and ourselves.

Amen! Let it be in me, Lord!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Little Fun from Fall Forward Films

HT: proud mom, Sharon Ernstrom!

Revisiting Grace Connections & iPhone App.

P. Steve and I were having a conversation the other day about next steps in implementing and encouraging use of Grace Connections, our online directory and congregational database.

The reality is our Growth Group leaders and a few others are accessing and using it regularly, but congregational usage is pretty limited at this point. We'd like to see that and usage of our website grow in the coming days.

What's in it for you? Why should you use Grace Connections? Here are some neat things you can do right now . . .

  1. While we are talking about a new printed congregational directory, Grace Connections gives you access to a real time, current, searchable pictorial directory. You can update your own families profile and picture anytime.

  2. Grace Connections gives you current access to your YTD contributions to Grace, SLO. (Don't worry, you and our bookkeeper, who enters the information, are the only people who have access to your giving records. Neither I or any of our staff have access or ever see personal giving records. That's between you and the Lord.)

  3. Grace Connections gives you access to all open service opportunties at Grace and lets you know who to contact to get involved in serving others and meeting needs here at Grace. You can tell us when and where you'd like to serve and fill out a little profile that gives us information about your gifts, experience and heart. (Click on image below to see a larger pic!)

We're planning on doing more with Grace Connections down the road, so we want to nudge you in that direction, so you get increasingly familiar with using it.

Anyway, so Steve and were talking the other day, and I said, "They need to have an App for the iPhone, so that I can access the latest congregational directory wherever I am, when I need to visit an elderly person, or call someoone in need, or just contact someone who goes to the church. I happened to just quickly search the App Store and they've already got one.

It's not perfect yet, but it's a start. It only gives you default address, phone and email. Clicking on any of these address initiates a corresponding action . . . address pulls up a map and directions, clicking phone number, makes the call, and clicking email initiates a new email. I want all alternate numbers and emails, but it's a very helpful beginning. Though I think the graphics are bit corny, I'm digging the functionality. Grace Connections is now way more accessible and useful to me.

So all you iPhone friends out there, here's the App Store link . . .

You will need to punch our site number (110828), your username and password (which means you've got to register first, if you haven't).

Here's some other links that can get you started using Grace Connections:

Set up a new user account

Online User Guide

PDF User Guide

Email link if your having problems or need help

I've added a link to Grace Connections again in my sidebar, since I'm not sure how or when it disappeared. You can now enter Grace Connections right here at Life Together and also at the front page of our website.

Sign up, log in and click around and stay tuned for much more . . .