Friday, July 31, 2009


I'm always curious to see who comes out to dance! I think a great time was had by all at our last 09 GSN Tuesday night. As usual Amy-Lynne captured it all on camera for us. . . .

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Divorce=very UNwise

Not only is divorce, in most cases, unbiblical, wrong and damaging to kids . . . . it's also unhealthy according to recent research and this recent CNN article. . .

Divorce Takes a Health Toll

As a pastor, I'm committed to doing whatever I can to preserve and grow marriages and prevent divorce. My experience is that couples tend to seek help too little and too late. Trust has already been broken to the point that it is almost beyond repair. Often one or both spouses have been internally toying with the idea of divorce. I beg and I plead and I try desperately to show them the devastating impact of divorce in every area of life, but more often than not, they keep plowing toward divorce anyway.

I think one of the things that needs to happen is that we need to work to remove the stigma of marital struggles in the Christian community. Because we think we're the only ones struggling, we tend to hide our struggle and present a false picture of reality to those around us. We look great in church together, but then fight all the way home. Somehow we've got to more willing to open up and share our struggles with friends and with church leadership and deeply cares and wants to help.


Susie and I have, do, and will struggle in marriage. Our marriage has been anything but smooth sailing and struggle free. We've had to and are still fighting for our relationship amidst crazy schedules and "pressure cooker" lives, not to mention a culture that cares less about marriage. You are not alone.

If you are married, your marriage is worth fighting for. Beyond a relationship with God through Christ, your marriage the most valuable thing you've got in life. It's worth your time, your money, and whatever else it takes to address your struggles in marriage. Believe me, divorce is going to cost you far, far more than even 5 years of weekly marriage counseling. Do not even let divorce be an option in your mind and heart. I believe the Gospel is the secret to a loving and life-long marriage. (But you're not surprised by that, are you?)

To not fight for your marriage is among the most UNwise things you can do in your life. Just read the first 9 chapters of Proverbs, if you don't believe me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

come dance with us. . .

Our 4th and final Grace Summer Night is tonight. Join us for some chili, strawberry shortcake and fun family dancing.

Here are some pics from last week at Port San Luis.

Monday, July 27, 2009

on the apparent contradiction in Proverbs 26:4-5

A buddy emailed me the following question last evening. . . .


Reading Proverbs 26 tonight, I came across a couple of verses that
confused me.

Four and Five seem to contradict one another, and even after checking the context and consulting a few different translations, I was lost.

When you have a minute, could you clarify.

Thanks brother!
Needless to say, I was just encouraged that he was reading along with me in the Proverbs. . . . but its true. . . . those two verses do seem to contradict one another. Take a look. . .

(26:4) Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.

(26:5) Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.
So what do we do with that? Here's my answer followed by a few additional thoughts by commentator Tremper Longman. . .
Great question! Some of the Proverbs do seem to contradict each other reminding us that wisdom is often situational. What is wise in a given situation varies. There are times when answering a fool according to his folly can suck us into his folly, depending on the question that's being asked by the fool or the situation in which he is asking. There are other times, when a fool should be answered according to his folly, to show him his folly and put him in his place and to help him along.

After taking my own shot at your question, I checked to see what commentator Tremper Longman thought. Here's his perspective. . . .

This proverb pair is prime evidence leading toward the proper understanding of the proverb genre. Proverbs are not universally true laws but circumstancially relevant principles. In short, the answer depends on the nature of the fool with whom one is engaged in conversation. In other words, the wise person must assess whether this is a fool who will simply drain one's energy with no positive results or whether an answer will prove fruitful to the fool or perhaps to those who everhear. The wise not only know the proverb, but also can read the circumstances and the people with whom they dialogue.

Hope that helps. Let me know what you think.
So what do you think? Did you catch the apparent contradiction? Did you just rush over it and not even try to reconcile it? Or did you reconcile it in another way?

Are you reading along in Proverbs with me, a proverb a day corresponding to the day of the month? Maybe you've missed a day or two and are on the verge of throwing in the towel. Don't do it!

If you miss a day, don't give up and don't beat yourself up, just start again today reading the chapter that corresponds to that day. (I've even missed a couple of days. . . its not a big deal!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

wisdom vs. science

Here's the C.S. Lewis quote from last week's message entitled "Wisdom & the Heart," since Janice asked. . .

For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality...

For applied science the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men...
--C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Which are we more interested in? Which drives our culture? This week we'll look at Wisdom & Your Friends. Can't wait to worship with you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Things were crazy for our family around graduation time back in June, but I've had so many people mention to me our own Daniel Phillips' SLO High valedictorian graduation speech. Wish I could have been there.

Daniel took full advantage of his public platform to boldly proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ and encourage the same in others. In this he reminds me of another Daniel who did the same. Where is the Lord calling you to be a "Daniel"?

Here is the text of his speech for your own encouragement this week. . . .

Hello class of 2009! It is my distinct pleasure to address you today – a good group of friends, some of whom I have known for 13 years all the way back to kindergarten at Los Ranchos. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and will always treasure the memories we’ve made.

Well, here we are: transitioning from 1 stage of life to the next. It’s an exciting time, but also, I believe, a good time for reflection. I do have some advice to give you that, if you choose to take it, I know will fundamentally impact your lives for the better. But mine is quite different from the advice given last year on this stage, in which the class of 2008 was advised that they love above all themselves. Those words puzzled me when I heard them, because what about us is so worth loving? Take myself, for example. You might not think it, but I’m a wretched, awful failure when it comes to living a moral life. Often I am prideful, covet what I don’t have, judge others before myself, struggle with fleshy desires, and put my wants and needs above others’. I, you, we all fall short of how we’re supposed to live and treat one another.

So how could we love ourselves above all when the almighty God of the universe has not only created and provided for us, but took on human form in the person of Jesus to die a brutal, humiliating death on our behalf as an atoning sacrifice for us? He died in our place so that the numerous sins we’ve committed, only a few of which I just owned up to myself, might be justly paid for and wiped off our slate so that the holy, blameless Lord might see us as holy and blameless and worthy of entering unto His presence should we but return His love.

This is love: that He who deserved all love loved us who did not love Him and deserved no love. Love God above all!!!! I can think of no better advice to give you than this, because following it will not only give you meaning and purpose for the remainder of your earthly lives, but ensure that you do live after your time in this world is finished. Above all love yourselves? No, above all love God, because above all He loves you. Thank you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

GSN #2 Pics Now Posted

Here are some fun pics from GSN #2, the Kodak Klassic Car Rally. GSN #3 will be a beach night at Port San Luis. Hope you can make it. . . .

Created with Admarket's

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mexico Mission Trip

Here are some great pics from the recent Mexico Missions Trip a few weeks back. Praise the Lord for a safe, productive, unified trip . . .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pray today for our Short Termers (Updated)

Just receive this updated list of Grace short-term missionaries. Let's storm the throne on their behalf today. . . .

  • Rachel Valliere – 06/04/09-08/04/09 - serving with SIM in Ethiopia – orphanage and sports camps
  • Stephanie Johnson – 06/10/09-08/15/09 – serving with Campus Crusade for Christ in Lake Tahoe
  • Rebekah Weeks – 07/13/09-08/01/09 – serving with YWAM in Uganda – orphanage
  • Bethany Donaldson – 07/15/09-08/24/09 – serving with Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea – assisting teachers and translators
  • Robin Burns - 7/15/09 - 07/28/09 -- serving with Orpan response in Siping, China (UPDDATE: I didn't have Robin in my list. My apologies!)
  • Ron & Cyndie Hamley – 07/23/09-08/09/09 – serving with Campus Crusade for Christ (ISP) in Guatemala training teachers in Biblical ethics
  • Timothy Steffens – 07/27/09-08/07/09 – serving with Eastern European Outreach in Armenia – children’s youth camp
May God use Grace Church to do a mighty work in order to build His church and bring glory to His name!

Gospel-Driven Sanctification

You gotta read these outstanding thoughts on Gospel-driven sanctification . . . how the "fear of the Lord" (faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ) can keep us away from evil (Proverbs 16:6) . . . . from a post at the Gospel-driven blog entitled. . .

"Gospel Driven vs. Resolution Driven" . . . .

This is not to say we should not seek to pursue holiness or lead disciplined, orderly lives. Rather, it is to say that we should seek to pursue holiness in the proper manner (i.e., we should be Gospel-driven rather than resolution- [law] driven). The Gospel, not resolutions, is what motivates a believer to pursue a life of holiness. The fact is the enemy of our faith will tempt us and encourage us to make resolution after resolution so long as he can keep us from seeing Christ and trusting in Him alone for our righteousness before God.

“The devil will urge you to make a vow, and then break it, so he may frustrate you and torment your conscience all the more.”

Resolutions, if not carefully kept in check, subtly take the place of Christ and His Gospel and begin dictate our thinking and decision-making, they shape our outlook on the Christian life, and begin to distort our understanding of our Heavenly Father, they corrupt our affections and ultimately destroy the peace our souls. As Marshall insightfully pointed out above, “The devil will urge you to make a vow, and then break it, so he may frustrate you and torment your conscience all the more.” Legalism stirs up and enrages the sleeping lion of our sinful flesh. Apart from the mercy and grace of God coming to us in the Gospel, believers will increasingly grow cold toward God because their consciences continually torment them for their failure. Such is the awful effects of legalistic doctrine upon fleshly hearts.

The god of resolutions is a harsh, unyielding, guilt-inducing task master. There is no mercy for failure only a reminder of failure. Their is no wind for the sail only a loud speaker yelling, “Row!” The Lord never intends for any of His people to place themselves under any unlawful expectations or obligations. Rather, the Lord’s invitation is, “28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The whole post is great. I don't know who this guy is (his name is Jon Fonville and his current blog is HERE), but he and I are coming from the same place on this. . . . . The Gospel is not just power of God for justification, but also for sanctification.

Only the love of God in Christ can constrain us and keep us from sin.

In what ways are you seeking to sanctify yourself today?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

let's try this again . . .

Deb Weeks, our Women's Ministry Director, was kind enough to inform me that the article links in yesterday's God is Back post were broken.

Does that mean, the rest of you didn't even try to read those articles?

Come on! You've got to tell me these things, if you see them. I need your help here . . . . . :)

So not only were the links in the original post fixed, but here here are those links again at the top of the stream for your easy access and reading pleasure!

  • Ready to Compete is an interview with two non-believing editors from the Economist
  • The Sixth Wind is a broader survey of the evangelical and athiest landscapes . . .

Sunday Deleted Scenes

I was trimming my message on the fly on Sunday (listen here!), but there were a couple of things more I really wanted to say regarding the fear of the Lord in light of Christ. . . . so I thought I would post them here. . . .

Look again at Proverbs 16:6. . . . look at the second half of the verse. . . . .

That second half of the verse is as curious as the first. . . . . here’s why. . . . Do you remember how Pastor Ken defined the fear of the Lord?

I think that’s a great and a right definition. . . .. but I think the coming of Jesus, enlightens and transforms it. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. . . His final and fullest revelation. . . . .. so now we can, we should, we must say this. . . .

The fear of the Lord is now the fear of the Christ. . . . Now look again at Proverbs 16:6. . . . .

The first half tells how our past sins are dealt with, but the second half tells us how to deal with our future temptations to sin. . . . So let’s take the second half of the verse and tweak it just a bit. . . . what I want to do is just swap the “fear of the Lord” with how we defined it. . . . like this. . .

How do you get forgiveness of past sins? By believing the Gospel.

How can you keep away from temptation and sin tomorrow? How can you gain victory over your besetting and habitual sins that you always fall into? How can you face the daily struggle of sin that we all do?

By believing the Gospel. . . . Not first and foremost by trying harder. . . . not by only trying harder. . . . . .not by beating yourself up or by running off to the monastery. . .. you will take your sins with you. . . .. but by the fear of the Lord. . . . by an active, awareness of, dependence on and humble submission to Jesus Christ . . . . one keeps away from evil.

You need to see His love. . . . you need to take His love and bury it in your own heart. . . .. you need to do whatever it takes so that all that He has done for you, becomes real to you and alive for you. . . . .meditate on it. .. .memorize verses like Proverbs 16:6 and 1 John 4:9-10. . . .. You need others in your life who will remind you and tell you of only the love of Christ can constrain us. . . . only the grace of God and teach us to say no to ungodliness.

What happens if you’ve got a radio and a television on in the same room? Which wins the battle for your attention? Audio or video?

So many of us have the love of Christ, the Gospel, on audio. . . its playing in the background of our lives somewhere, assumed. . . . . sectioned off. . . .we tune in a bit on Sundays.

But the temptations we face come to us in living color video. . . ..

And its video that wins the battle for our attention all the time. . . . Somehow we’ve got to get Christ and His love on video. The Lord's Table is just one way do that.

What we're talking about here is Gospel-driven sanctification. More on that tomorrow. . .

Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

09 GSN #2: Kodak Klassic Kar Rally

Join us tomorrow evening for a great pasta dinner and a fun family evening. Bring a camera and a big car, $2 / person, and some friends.

Here are some pics that show the fun of last week. . . .

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Life at Grace for the week of 07.09.09

67 of your emails are bouncing so here's last week's all church email. . . .

Celebrating, proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus on the Central Coast and beyond . . .

Beloved Family of Grace,

Mexico, VBS, 4th of July Picnic, Hume Lake, Grace Summer Nights . . . . clearly summer is in full swing around here at Grace. I've been fired up to see so many new folks among us. Keep inviting your neighbors, friends and co-workers all summer. Here are a couple of reminders and things you need to know this week. . . .
  1. Dr. Robert Cleath Memorial: The father of Tim Cleath went to be with the Lord on Monday, July 6th. You are invited to join the Cleath Family at a memorial service at 2:00 PM, Saturday, July 11 at Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande.

  2. Worship with us this Sunday, 9:00 & 10:45: Summer is an easy time to sleep in, get lazy, and get out of the rhythm of worship. Don't let it happen. Join us this Sunday as we explore how the Proverbs can and doees lead us to Jesus and His table.

  3. KODAK KLASSIK KAR RALLY, Tuesday, July 14, 5:30 - 8:00 PM: (Can you tell Pastor Ken named this event?) Our second 09 GSN is going to be great. A pasta dinner will be served in the Grace Ministry Center and then we're going to hit the cars.Bring digital camera or phone camera (one per family) and the largest vehicle you've got. ONLY $2/person – those under 2 and friends come FREE!! Use the tab on the worship folder to let us know you're coming.

  4. Dessert with a Purpose, Thursday, July 16, 7:00 PM. Jim & Donna Jeffrey will be sharing about their 4 month mission to the middle east. Jim & Laurie Katekaru will be sharing about their work with international students. Happening at the Donaldson Home.
Finally, I wanted to challenge you to join me in reading Proverbs this summer. There are 31 chapters, so let's read one chapter on each day corresponding with the day of the month. So today jump in and read chapter 9. By October we will have read through the book 3 times. Leave a comment on the blog, twitter me, or fire me an email if you're in!
Have you seen the 09 Mexico Missions Music Video? Classic!
Because of and for the Gospel. . . Pastor Tim

  • Listen to last week's message.
  • See pics from GSN #1 at Mustang Water Slides
  • Read the blog
  • Follow on Twitter
  • View the website

God is Back

Is Christianity in sharp decline? What are we to make of these recent neo-athiesm best sellers?

These two must read World Magazine Articles provide some helpful perspective . . .

  • Ready to Compete is an interview with two non-believing editors from the Economist

    On the double standard of neo-athiests. . .

    Two things really annoy me about the neo-atheist position. One is that they write about evangelical Christians in much the same way and in much the same tone as white supremacists used to talk about blacks. And the second thing is that there's a notion of unilateral moral disarmament where the other side is expected to disarm. If you're arguing about gay marriage, people who are liberals and who support gay marriage are allowed to bring their most profound moral beliefs to that argument, as they should be, but then they say, "You can't base your contrary arguments on religious beliefs, because that shouldn't be part of the public square." That's nonsense. Everybody should be allowed to bring their most profound beliefs; for many, many people, their most profound beliefs are based on their faith, and no one should question their right to bring those arguments and to engage in political organization on the basis of those arguments.

  • The Sixth Wind is a broader survey of the evangelical and athiest landscapes . . .

    Loved the admission of recent athiest turned Christian, A.N. Wilson . . . .

    "Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti. To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy."
The links will be good for the next 7 days, so read them soon and let me know what you think. I was encouraged.

Gibson Girls

Got to swing by, see and hold Jillian and Lucy Gibson yesterday after church, born earlier that morning around 6:15. One of the many blessings of pastoral ministry is holding and praying for these little gifts. I don't get to the hospital every time, but I sure try.

Mom is recovering after a long labor, but seems to be doing well. As I picked one up, I immediately saw the challenge of trying to pick the other one up at the same time. So fun, but obviously an aweful lot of work in front of these guys, too.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

"a chapter a day keeps the devil away"

That's Brendan Clark's "proverb" of the day in response to my twitter invitation to join me in reading the book of proverbs this summer. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so let's read the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month. (Start today by reading chapter 9) By the time we get to October, we will have read Proverbs almost 3 times.

Let's dip our cups in the stream of God's wisdom together. Who's in?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

09 Mexico Music Video

I missed the Mexico Report Night. Maybe you did, too. Here's a hilarious vid that captures well the joy and spirit of service of our Mexico Missions Team, compliments, once more, of the very talented Josh Ernstrom. . . .

Makes me want to get down there, now that I've got a jr high student (freaking about that just a bit!) . . .

(There's also a longer video and we'll try to get that uploaded in the next couple of days.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Come Slide with Us

Hey Friends. . . . I've enjoyed the blog break, but its time to get back on it. The first of our July 09 Grace Summer Nights is happening tonight at the Mustang Waterslides at Lopez Lake.

Invite some friends, bring the family and come and join our family. The sliding & pizza is only $2 per person, but it costs $7 to get into the park, so carpool if you can.

See you tonight!