Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life Together has moved!

I am thrilled to announce that Life Together has moved
to its new home at our redesigned website at

Thanks for clicking over, giving it a look
and telling me what you think.

Please update your blogrolls.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do you know?

This shocking billboard, sponsored by American Athiests, showed up this season at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in New York.

You may not think its a myth, but do you know how to converse with someone who does?

Every Thursday morning at 6:00 AM, 30 men and I have been grappling with how to do that using Tim Keller's The Reason for God as a guide.

(I wish I could get every person in our church to thoughtfully read this book from cover to cover!)

In chapter 9, entitled "The Knowledge of God", Keller argues that any discussion of human rights (and everyone argues for human rights) is based on an assumed knowledge of God. . . .

All of nature is based on violence. Yet we inescapably believe it is wrong for stronger human individuals or groups to kill weaker ones. If violence is totally natural, why would it be wrong for strong humans to trample weak ones? There is no basis for moral obligation unless we argue that nature is in some part unnatural. We can't know that nature is broken in some way unless there is some supernatural standard of normalcy apart from nature by which we can judge right and wrong. That means there would have to be heaven or God or some kind of divine order outside of nature in order to make that judgment.

There is only one way out of this conundrum. We can pick up the Biblical account of things and see if it explains our moral sense better that a secular view. If the world was made by a God of peace, justice and love, then that is why we know that violence, oppression, and hate are wrong. If the world is fallen, broken, and needs to be redeemed, that explains the violence and disorder we see.

If you believe human rights are a reality, then it makes much more sense that God exists than that he does not. If you insist on a secular view of the world and yet you continue to pronounce some things right and wrong, then I hope you see the deep disharmony between the world your intellect has devised and the real world (and God) that your heart knows exists. This leads to a crucial question. If a premise ("There is no God") leads to a conclusion you know isn't true ("Napalming babies is culturally relative) then why not change the premise?

Man, I dig that! We've somehow got to learn to have conversations like this with folks we know and love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

7 reasons to RSVP for GraceSLO events online

We've just enabled folks to RSVP for select events on our newly redesigned website. For example, currently you can RSVP for these events. . .

Night of Caroling on Sunday, December 19

Men's Huddle on Saturday, January 15

Here are 7 reasons we're committed to this new process and why we think you should register online for these events now and all future events, when given the opportunity:

  1. It saves money. It's one less piece of paper our administrative assistants have to handle and transfer to a spreadsheet. When you RSVP online, it drops your registration right into a spreadsheet. That saves time, which, in turn, saves money. The wonder of google docs.

  2. It's convenient. You can register anytime, 24 hours, 7 days a week. You don't have to take the time to find a sign-up table or remember to stick your tab in an offering bag.

  3. It cuts down on worship service clutter. It potentially cuts down on the need to say "rip off your tab, fill it out now and put it in the offering bag or take it to a "welcome center". At times, we actually altar the arrangement of the service, so folks can hear the announcement and then can stick the tab in the bag as it comes around.

  4. It cuts down on courtyard clutter. That courtyard square footage is precious real estate. We want as much room for comfortable movement and face to face fellowship as possible. Sign-up tables clutter up the courtyard and make it tough to move around.

  5. It's informative. It allows you to see and experience the wealth of other helpful information on the website, so you better know what's going and feel more connected.

  6. It's helpful for our planning. Boy it's helpful to know in advance who is coming to what. It allows us to plan and prepare better. It allows us to do what we do with excellence and not be anxious about the unknowns as an events gets close.

  7. Its fun. You're likely on the web all the time anyway. On our end, it's like magic. You probably don't think so, but we definitely do. It's so easy to make happen and it just works. It's exciting and encouraging to see people RSVPing, engaging and getting involved.

So, thanks for coming along with us as we experiment with this new technology.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

revamped website now live

The big news of the day is that our new website is now live at Check it out!

We think the site is going to be useful for our life together. Our vision is that the site becomes the hub of our communication as a church family.

Here are 3 new features our Ministry Staff is really excited about and we think you might be too. . . .

  1. A full GraceSLO calendar of Upcoming Events organized by ministry with everything you need to know on an daily basis.

  2. Online event sign-up and registration. Go ahead and register for the upcoming Night of Caroling on December 19 RIGHT HERE. We're even going to try and do some Winter Growth Group enrollment

  3. A sermon Resource Library that is browseable by date, Scripture, series and speaker. (By topic is coming soon.)

We owe GraceSLO congregant, Aaron Barker and his company, Tap Consulting (, a huge thanks for their hard work, incredible insight and amazing expertise. Aaron has been a joy to work with. If you know him, thank him when you see him.

Paula Phillips, Christina Carroll, Debbie Johnston, and Trevor Miller have also been working like crazy to get the site ready. Many thanks to them as well.

The plan is to move Life Together within to the site after the first of the year. Stay tuned.

Hope you like the site. If you'd like to send some encouraging or constructive feedback, send it directly to me at I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

He shall reign

My wife sent me this with the tag line . . .

"Why we shouldn't get rid of choirs : )"

She's right, as usual. Tell me if you're heart isn't warmed and your eyes aren't just a little wet by the time you get to the end of it.

Its a known fact in our home that I love Handel's Messiah. My kids blessed me by playing it as we were getting ready for the day on the Monday after thanksgiving.

Christmas is here. Christ is come. He shall reign. Let your heart rejoice today.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Orphan Sunday

November 7 is Orphan Sunday. The care of orphans, foster kids and adoption . . . . these are really sanctity of life issues, and therefore, issues of great concern to us as the people of God.

I'm looking forward to interviewing Jim & Kathy Smith, on Sunday, about their recent trip to an orphanage in Honduras.

To spur our thinking on these issues here are a couple of helpful resources. The first is a Wall Street Journal column entitled "Adoption Season for Evangelicals" that highlights the movement toward adoption that is happening across the evangelical landscape and our church.

It's a great, thought provoking article. . . . so good that I don't want to make you click. Here it is in its entirety . . .

The Wall Street Journal

Adoption Season for Evangelicals

A biblical mandate to help children, especially those in foster care.


Last Saturday at Grace Chapel in Denver, Focus on the Family (in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Human Services) hosted an information session for parents interested in adopting children out of the foster-care system. More than 150 families were represented and 55 of those have already begun the process. It was a successful and fitting end for the summer of 2010, which turned into a season of adoption for evangelicals.

In May, megachurch pastor Rick Warren held a "civil forum" on the subject. An audience of 800 attended and thousands more watched the webcast from their homes. "Orphans and vulnerable children are not a cause," said Warren. "They are a biblical and social mandate we can't ignore. A country half the size of the U.S—that's how many orphans there are in the world. We're not talking about a small problem."

Adoption was the cover story of Christianity Today in July. It included a feature by Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in which he described in heart-wrenching terms the circumstances of his own adoption of two brothers from a Russian orphanage.

Mr. Moore, the author of a book called "Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches," has become a sort of go-to person for evangelicals on the issue of adoption. In trying to explain why Christians have a particular duty to adopt, he told me that "every one of us who follows Christ was adopted into an already existing family."

Which is to say that unlike Judaism or Islam, faiths that one is born into, Christianity requires each member to have an individual relationship with Christ. And so, in that sense, it is as if each Christian is adopted.

Yet it is the efforts of Focus on the Family, a group which has previously been most known for its political involvement on issues like abortion and gay marriage, that have produced the most striking results so far. The group announced two years ago that it would be devoting a considerable amount of its resources to a new initiative called "Wait No More." Focus is partnering with different state governments—six so far—to reduce the number of children on foster-care roles.

In Colorado alone, Focus has moved about 500 of the 800 kids in foster care into permanent homes over the course of less than two years. The group has had success helping infertile couples desperate for families, but also in placing children with couples who are older, some of whose children have already grown up and left home.

The Focus efforts are particularly interesting because foster kids are typically not young, and often have emotional or even physical problems as a result of a lack of prenatal care, or neglectful birth or foster parents. Sometimes they can only be adopted with siblings, and so a family must take on two or more children at the same time.

Foster children are also likely to be of a different race from their new adoptive parents. As more and more evangelical churches take up the cause of adoption on a large scale, their congregations have begun to look like the multiracial sea of faces that Christian leaders often talk about wanting. But it does involve parents giving up on having children who look like them.

All of this makes the growing evangelical interest in adoption seem particularly countercultural. With the widespread availability of artificial reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization, many couples who previously would have chosen adoption can now use surrogates, donor sperm or donor eggs to have a baby who shares their DNA (or whose DNA they have carefully chosen), and whose prenatal care they can closely monitor. Taking a child as he or she comes to you may be a difficult choice for some parents to make these days.

The contemporary cultural message that we can have complete control over our children goes beyond making sure our babies are healthy and our children are given good moral direction. We take yoga classes with our infants, we attach GPS devices to children's backpacks and we call our kids in college on a daily, if not hourly, basis. There is no doubt that the world can seem a more dangerous place, with too many other influences, particularly new media, trying to exert control over our children. Now that Americans are having fewer children, we fret more over each one, too.

But how much control can we have? A Christianity Today cover story earlier this year on "The Myth of the Perfect Parent" discussed the sense many religious parents have that they've failed if their child strays from the church. Given this backdrop and the wider cultural messages about parenting, one wonders how these evangelical adoptive parents overcome their own desire for control, bring a stranger into their home, and then take responsibility for raising him.

The most persuasive explanation comes from the author of that article, Leslie Leyland Fields, who exhorts her readers: "We are not sovereign over our children—only God is. Children are not tomatoes to stake out or mules to train, nor are they numbers to plug into an equation. They are full human beings wondrously and fearfully made. Parenting, like all tasks under the sun, is intended as an endeavor of love, risk, perseverance, and, above all, faith."

Ms. Riley is an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values.

The second resource is a 7 minute video put together by Todd and Jill Talley made for use by the adoption agency they went through in adopting their Daniel from Ethiopia.

Adoption Advocates International encourages each of the families adopting through their agency to give back and do something to spread the word about adoption and the plight of the orphan. The Talleys took that request seriously. One of the primary goals of this video is to communicate the need to find homes for older orphans. And while the intent of the video is to promote Ethiopian adoption in particular, this goal of promoting the adoption of orphans, esp. older ones, is one that our Grace Adoption and Foster Care Team is looking to encourage, regardless of whether it is through international channels, foster care, foster adoption or private domestic adoption.

The next two Sundays, November 7 and 14, during the 10:45 hour in the Founder's Hall, the Grace Adoption & Foster Care Team is hosting a pair courses for those interested.

November 7 will focus Foster Care, Foster Adoption

November 14 will focus on International Adoption
I've been encouraged by the many in our church who have responded to the call to adoption. I'm praying that God will stir the hearts of others.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Here's a pic of our Elders and Min Staff in deep discussion and contemplation last weekend at our retreat . . .

It was a pleasure to have Jeff Mundorf, Todd Talley and Steve Leonard also join us for our time. Each of these guys is somewhere along in the elder candidate process. Wayne Brown was ill.

Great fellowship but too much heavy business and not enough personal sharing. I give thanks for these men . . . our plurality, our diversity and our unity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Culture of Poverty

Fascinating New York Times Article on the sources and causes of poverty. . . .

Implications for ministry are many. . . . there are no simple fixes . . . We have to think long view and generationally. . . we need to look deeper at structures, values and family systems. . . .the Gospel speaks to all these issues, and, therefore is the only real and true fix.

The Gospel challenges and speaks to every culture, valuing and embodying each cultures strenths and, while, at the same time, exposing and transforming each culture's sin and weaknesses.

How can we address, with the Gospel, the pockets of our community where a culture of poverty persists?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Join the Elders in Grudem

For the last several years, our elders have been so very slowly working our way through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Grudem's volume has become a standard text in many seminaries across the country.

Its been an excellent time together that has deepened our understanding and awe of who God is and His Big Story in Jesus. It has been a delight to see the men grapple with and be humbled by familiar and some unfamiliar Biblical doctrines and how they fit together.

As we near the turn of the calendar year, I wanted to encourage you to join us in our study.

Get yourself a copy of Systematic Theology and make a commitment to start reading it in 2011. (Don't worry, its super easy to read!) It will not only deepen your own understanding of Scripture and the Lord, but it will give you insight into what our elders are thinking about and processing.

Let's go a little deeper together next year.

1010th post!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

humility, thankfulness, peace & assurance

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord
or of me His prisoner,

but join with me in suffering for the gospel
according to the power of God,

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works,

but according to His own purpose and grace
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. . .
-2 Timothy 1:8-9

Because some of have asked, here's the John Stott quote referenced in the message on Sunday where he asserts the purpose of all references to the wonderful and mysterious doctrine of election like the one in 2 Timothy 1:9 are to form in us humility, thankfulness, peace and assurance, not "to arouse or baffle our carnal curiosity" . . .

We have to confess that the doctrine of election is difficult to finite minds. But it is incontrovertibly a biblical doctrine. It emphasizes that salvation is due to God's grace alone, not to man's merit; not to our works performed in time, but to God's purpose conceived in eternity, 'that purpose', as Bishop Ellicott expressed it, 'which was suggested by nothing outward, but arose only from the innermost depths of the divine eudokis'. Or in E. K. Simpson's words, 'the Lord's choices have their unfathomable grounds, but they are not founded on the innate eligibility of the chosen'. Thus understood, God's purpose of election is bound to be mysterious to men, for we cannot aspire to an understanding of the secret thoughts and decisions of the mind of God. However, the doctrine of election is never introduced in Scripture either to arouse or to baffle our carnal curiosity, but always for a practical purpose. On the one hand, it engenders deep humility and gratitude, for it excludes all boasting. On the other, it brings both peace and assurance, for nothing can quieten our fears for our own stability like the knowledge that our safety depends ultimately not on ourselves but on God's own purpose of grace.

Let's let 2 Timothy 1:9 do what God intends in us!

Here also is the slide deck from Sunday because some have requested to see and think about those circles some more. . . .

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Gospel=something greater than healing

Yesterday I preached on 2 Timothy 1:8-10 and "Why the Gospel is worth suffering for" (Listen here!) We talked about "Sacrificial Suffering" and "Life Circumstance Suffering" and how both can push forward the Gospel in the world.

I referenced Joni Erickson Tada and her October 2010 Christianity Today interview. Here's that article in its entirety. . . awesome, challenging, Biblical perspective. . . . .

Joni Eareckson Tada might be mistaken for a modern-day Job. The disabilities advocate was severely paralyzed in a diving accident at age 17. For the past ten years, she has endured chronic pain. Now, at age 60, she confronts breast cancer. Sounding upbeat and confident after surgery, she spoke with Christianity Today about her latest book, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty (David C. Cook), where she outlines her theology of suffering.

How has your perspective on suffering and healing changed since your breast cancer diagnosis?

Thankfully, it hasn't changed at all. You examine Scripture again and follow every passage regarding healing. I did that with my quadriplegia, and I did that again 10 years ago, when I embarked on a whole new life of chronic pain. Just a month ago, getting diagnosed with breast cancer, I looked at those same Scriptures, and God's words do not change.

Even though it seems like a lot is being piled on, I keep thinking about 1 Peter 2:21: "To these hardships you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps." Those steps most often lead Christians not to miraculous, divine interventions but directly into the fellowship of suffering. In a way, I've been drawn closer to the Savior, even with this breast cancer. There are things about his character that I wasn't seeing a year ago or even six months ago. That tells me that I'm still growing and being transformed. First Peter 2:21 is a good rule of thumb for any Christian struggling to understand God's purposes in hardship.

Can you elaborate on new ways you think about God's character?

In John 14, Jesus says, "Anyone who has faith in me will do … even greater things than these." We tend to think Jesus was talking about miracles, as if Jesus were saying, "Hey guys, look at these miracles! One day, you'll do many more miracles than me!"

The thing that Jesus was doing wasn't necessarily the miracles. He was giving the gospel; he was advancing his kingdom; he was reclaiming the earth as rightfully his. When Jesus gave that promise, he was saying, "I'm giving you a job to do, my Father and I want the gospel to go forth, and I promise you'll have everything you need to get that job done, and you'll do an even better job than me." Jesus ministered for three years, and at the end, he had a handful of disciples who half-believed in him. After Jesus went to heaven and the Holy Spirit came down—my goodness, Peter preaches one sermon and thousands believe. That's the greater thing that God wants us to do.

That's what I have been seeing this past month. Every x-ray technician, every nurse, every doctor's secretary, every clinician, every person I meet in nuclear medicine and at the MRI—it's amazing how many opportunities I've been given to see people hungry and thirsty for Christ. I knew that was true before, but there seems to be something special that is accompanying this diagnosis. I'm just so amazed by people asking me, "How can you approach this breast cancer with such confidence in a God who allows it?" And I'm being given the chance to answer.

The greater thing is not the miracle; it's the advancement of the gospel, it's the giving of the kingdom, reclaiming what is rightfully Christ's.

You have hinted at a classic question: How can a good God allow such suffering in the world? How does your latest book, on God's sovereignty, address that?

When people ask that question—even I struggle with that question—we aren't accepting the fact that this earth is wired to be difficult. The rule of thumb is that we experience much suffering because we live in a fallen world, and it is groaning under the weight of a heavy curse. If God being good means he has to get rid of sin, it means he would have to get rid of sinners. God is a God of great generosity and great mercy, so he is keeping the execution of suffering. He's not closing the curtain on suffering until there is more time to gather more people into the fold of Christ's fellowship.

That answer suits me, and I think it would suit others if they stop and think: Suffering is connected to sin; if God were to get rid of suffering, he'd have to get rid of sin, and then he'd have to get rid of sinners—and God is too merciful to do that.

Is it different when the cause of suffering is natural? For instance, you might not have control over getting breast cancer. Do you cope differently from someone who has something done to her by another person?

Certainly I could have controlled this one; I should have gotten a mammogram five years ago. I have no one to blame but myself. I can't point the finger at secondhand smoke in restaurants. I should've gotten a mammogram, and I did not. I failed to do it, and I regret that. (If I were to tell your female readers anything, I'd say, "Get a mammogram.")

Whether hardship is brought on by our own negligence or through the direct assault of the hand of a wicked person, or our own ignorance and misinformed decisions, or our lack of awareness or misdoings, or some catastrophe of nature—these things fall under the purview of God's overarching decree. A close look at the New Testament shows that God's sovereignty extends over all these things. God permits all sorts of things that he doesn't approve of. He doesn't approve of my spinal-cord injury or my cancer, but in his sovereign decree he has allowed them. I don't care if you use permit, allow, or ordained; it's all the same thing. Ultimately it goes back to God being in charge. I don't think there is a real difference.
The greater thing Jesus promises we can do is not the miracle, but the advancement of the gospel, reclaiming what is rightfully his.

Suffering is hardship and heartache. It's one package. Yes, God could have prevented it. He could prevent a thief from breaking in and stealing, he could prevent a wicked man with a gun from firing it, and he could have prevented my cancer. He could have put in my heart: Go get a mammogram. If he chooses to allow these things to occur, it doesn't mean he's any less caring or compassionate. His will, purpose, and sovereign design may be a bit more ob-scure and enigmatic on this side of eternity.

When you discovered you had breast cancer, was your reaction different from all your previous experiences of suffering?

I don't fall apart emotionally. There's a lump. Wow, okay, let's get this taken care of. I broke my neck. Yikes. What is this going to mean? Okay, let's buckle down and move forward. I'm the kind of person who cannot allow those emotions to go down the grim path of despair. It's too deep of a miry pit. I'd rather face life head-on and with full force and take things as they come, learn from those things, and move forward.

How should we respond to someone who is suffering?

It's important to follow injunctions from God's Word: Go to the elders, be anointed with oil, and confess sin. If you feel you need to go to a special prayer service, by all means attend it. Have a pastor anoint you with oil and lay hands on you. After you do, you have to keep on living. That's what happened to me when I was first injured. I confessed sin and was anointed with oil. Do I sit around for my hands and feet to get the message? I have to live in the meantime. If you feel led to, pray and seek healing, but keep living while you're looking for the healing.

Even if the focus is on living, shouldn't Christians prepare themselves for further suffering and death?

None of us, in our culture of comfort, know how to prepare ourselves for dying, but that's what we should do every day. Every single day, we die a thousand deaths. We don't just walk through the valley of the shadow of death when we get a medical report or when we survive a stroke. We go through the valley of the shadow of death every time we say no to our selfish desires. When we say yes to the grace of God, we are learning how to die.

This past weekend, I was singing hymns with friends. One of my favorites is "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," but the words in the hymnal we were using had been changed. They took out the verse on death: (singing) "Death of death and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side." They exchanged the wonderfully rich, pithy, deep, hard words with something vague like, "Help me through until the other side." They extricated those words about death and hell's destruction. Why do that? We need to learn how to die every day. Suffering does that. It prepares us. Every time we go to sleep, it's a rehearsal of the day when our eyes will ultimately close and we wake up on the side of eternity.

What teachings of Jesus especially help you understand suffering?

There's the portion of Scripture in Matthew 18 where Jesus says, "If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out." Here Jesus, the one who delighted in healing hands that could not work, restoring feet that could not walk, giving sight to eyes that could not see—here he is, saying cut off your hand, gouge out your eyes, if these things are causing you to sin. Jesus underscores his priority that yes, the physical body counts, but it does not trump the health of the soul.

When people ask about healing, I'm less interested in the physical and more interested in healing in my heart. Pray that I get rid of my lazy attitude about God's Word and prayer, of brute pride—set me free from self-centeredness. Those are more important, because Jesus thought they were more important.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

anybody ready?

So we've got folks driving to GraceSLO from as far away as San Miguel and Santa Maria.

Check out this awesome conversation between Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever and James MacDonald on the pros and cons of multi-site churches and church planting.

Might this work on the Central Coast? Should it work on the Central Coast? Maybe we're thinking too small?

It challenges me and overwhelms me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2 Timothy Mind Map

Sunday we kicked off our Fall Preaching Series, The Gospel is Worth It: Studies in 2 Timothy. (listen here!) As a fun intro, we worked on a "mind map". Here's a quick run through of the slide deck, for those of you who missed it . . . .especially helpful for missing Growth Group Shepherds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Call for Growth Group Shepherds

The GOOD NEWS is people are understanding the priority of Growth Groups in our life together. So many who have never been involved before are jumping into Growth Groups this fall. It's exciting and encouraging.

The BAD NEWS is we don't have enough Shepherds. Groups are too full and there aren't enough of them. Here's a slice of our reality.

  • We have lots of people expressing an interest in groups, but our current times and locations don't work for them.

  • Despite our concerted efforts, we have only one North County Group that just got added this week. We see that as a major loss for many who live in the North, but call GraceSLO their home.

  • We need more SLO Growth Groups. Many of our groups are busting at the seams and are too big. When a group gets too big, connection breaks down and connection is a top priority in our church right now.

  • We need at least one more South County Group. We've got 4 vibrant and healthy groups down south, but simply need more.

Some of you have told us "maybe", but we haven't heard from you. Some of you have said "no" this quarter. We want to respect you and don't want to pressure you, but we do want to challenge you by letting you know we have a real need and there is a great opportunity to impact some lives, help some folks grow in grace, and help folks connect in our church.

Believe me, I know how busy life is, but Susie and I are making time to lead a Growth Group this fall, because we're convinced sharing our lives with others is essential and what the Christian life is all about!

Thanks for considering my challenge. Please know, our love and commitment to you is sure and unwavering, whether or not you are able to pull it off. We're just trying to do the best we can to shepherd, care and connect the family here at GraceSLO.

If you'e interested or want to talk about it a bit, contact Tim Arlen at 543.2358 or

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. --Matthew 9:37

Connect 09.23.10

Here's my email today to the list of men on Thursday Morning Men's Study list. . . . Consider it an invite for all men at GraceSLO. I'm dying to see some older men join me in investing their lives in some younger men. Now is the time for men to step up into the roles to which God calls them! . . . .

Hey Men,

I'm looking forward to being with you Thursday morning.

Its a transitional morning, as we both wrap up our "Spiritual Leadership" study and lean into our new book, "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller. If you took the summer off and you're still getting these emails, I want to encourage you to jump back in for the spiritual encouragement, the accountability and the leadership challenge. I need it and so do you.

A reminder for the consistent crew: Finish those remaining Spiritual Leadership chapters and come ready to share 3 crisp takeaways from the those chapters or the book as a whole. We'll spend the first half sharing what we've learned and capping off Spiritual Leadership and spend the second half reading the intro to The Reason for God.

I know of at least one new guy who will be there. I hope there will be others. If you think of others who need the fellowship of men (who doesn't?) forward this email or give them a call and invite them.

See you tomorrow. . . . Tim

Friday, September 17, 2010

use the image to invite a friend

Life @ Grace Fall Kick Off Edition!

1001st post here! Wow! Here's all info you need to know about this Sunday's Fall Kick-Off in case it didn't show up in your inbox. See you Sunday!

Celebrating, proclaiming & Living the Gospel together

Dear Friends,

Our 2010 Fall Kickoff is here and happening this Sunday, September 19 at 10:00 AM! Its going to be great to turn "the inside out to bring the outside in." Here are a few reminders as we look forward to the day together . . .

  • PRAY for safety, all the logistics, a warm welcome for visitors and, most of all, for the unleashing of the Gospel.

  • SPREAD the news about the event by boldly posting to your blogs, twitter and facebook accounts. Grab the image and text copy on my blog and post it on your stuff. They tell me EVERYONE is using Facebook, so let's use it, too, for the Lord.

    You can link to GraceSLO's new Facebook page HERE.
    You can link to GraceSLO's new Twitter account HERE.

  • INVITE personally your own circle of friends. Bring them if you can. Offer to meet them if you must. Remember, guests eat free. Here's an invite card, email it to a friend.
  • BRING chairs and blankets, if you prefer to sit under the trees rather than in provided seating. I'm not sure what the weather will be like, but come prepared. We'll have lots of water.

  • PARK in the Parking Structure to leave park close spots for visitors.

  • REACH OUT on Sunday to any and all you don't know to help us create a warm, friendly welcome.

Our theme and sermon series this Fall will be "The Gospel is Worth It" rooted in 2 Timothy and this Sunday I'll aim to show the wonder and awe of the Gospel claim from 1 Timothy 1:15-18 in a message I've titled, "Christ Jesus came into the World." As always, I will work hard to respect, but also challenge all who are present with us. Join me in praying expectantly and come ready to be the church "in the the community, serving the community" in Jesus' name.
If my chance you signed up to help and you haven't been contact yet, email Pastor Ken and let him know. Its come to our attention that some of our sign-up tabs have been lost and we can use all the help we can get.
If you happened to miss last Sunday's message, "Soul Thirst" from Psalm 63, I want to urge you to listen HERE. In the message, I addressed the delicate and divisive topic of praise and the current state of praise at GraceSLO.
Below are a few other reminders . . .

See you Sunday!

Because the Gospel changes everything. . . . Pastor Tim

  • Growth Group Open Enrollment, Sundays in the Courtyard: We're reaching for 40 vibrant, alive, warm, relational groups this quarter. Groups begin meeting the week of September 26. Enrollment is happening Sundays in the Courtyard.

  • Pizza in the Park, Sunday, September 26 & October 3: If you are a college student, you are invited for free pizza in Mitchell Park right after the 10:45 service. Come and connect with our college leadership and other college students. For more info email Tim Fox.
  • Open-to-All Sunday Adult Seminars & Bible Fellowships starting Sunday, Sept. 26
  1. Financial Peace University, September 26, 10:45 AM, Founders Hall B: We are once again hosting Dave Ramsey's 13 week Financial Peace University. Cost is $100 and space is limited, so register in the Courtyard on Sunday.

  2. Effective Parenting in a Defective World, 9:00 AM, Fireside Room: Hosted by our 2:42 ABF and facilitated by Donny & Stephanie Valliere, this 12 week class, utilizing a Chip Ingram film series, will tackle the ins and outs of Gospel-centered parenting in a busy, broken world.

  3. Living Out Loud, 9:00 AM Founder's Hall B: We all know we should share our faith in Jesus with others around us, but most of us are scared to death and don't know where to begin. Hosted by the Harvesters ABFs, this seminar co-lead by Ted Malley and Tim Arlen, will provide Biblical training and practical help for effectively sharing your faith in your God-given circle of influence. . . and with perfect strangers.

  4. Living Stones Adult Bible Fellowship, 9:00 AM, Founders Hall A: As the fall gets going, the Living Stones invite you to jump into their ongoing study of Acts. Living Stones are a warm, caring fellowship of adults, between the ages of 40 and 65.

  5. Bereans Senior Adult Bible Fellowship, 10:45 AM, Fireside Room: We love our senior adults here at GraceSLO! If you're a senior adult looking to connect with others your age, the Bereans is the class for you. Join them this fall as they continue in their study of Revelation and Proverbs.
  • Daughters of the King Brunch, Saturday, October 9, 9:00: We'll be celebrating our place as women in God's Kingdom. Come enjoy a delicious breakfast, fun crafts, sweet fellowship and an inspirational talk. Cost is $5/person with a $10/family maximum. Sign up in the Courtyard on Sunday. For more information call Debbi Weeks at 543-2358.
Link to GraceSLO on Facebook
Link to GraceSLO on Twitter
Listen to last week's message, "Psalm 63: Soul Thirst"
Read Pastor Tim's blog
See Grace event pictures
Sign on to our online congregational directory

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Life Together Fall Preview Special Edition

In case you don't read email anymore or it went to junk, here is yesterday's all church email. It contains vital information about the Fall here at GraceSLO. Holler if you have any questions. . . T.

Celebrating, Proclaiming & Living the Gospel Together

WARNING: This one's a bit long, but contains vital info!

Beloved Family of Grace,

Ready or not, the Fall is here! I don't know about you and your family, but we've realized that this quarter is going to be more full and more busy than any we've ever experienced as a family. It's a hard sprint to Thanksgiving for us. How about you?

Because our family is so busy, we've recognized it's even more important to prioritize our spiritual lives and our gathering together with God's people for worship and fellowship. We need to hear the Gospel EVERY WEEK and be with others who believe the Gospel EVERY WEEK. That's why we're committed to worship on Sundays. That's why we're committing to a Growth Group this Fall. That's why we're committed to getting our jr. high student to mid-week youth group. We need these anchors in our lives. We want these rhythms and practices to shape our lives.

We've taken time as a family to sit down and talk about these priorities and our busy schedules. I want to encourage you to do the same as soon as you can. (If it would be helpful to hear what this looks like and how we do this, email me!)

The Fall is always an exciting and vibrant time here at GraceSLO. It's a time when new folks drop in and new things get going. Amidst all the activity, events, ministries and opportunities, we want to help you prioritize your involvement at GraceSLO this Fall. . . .

Priority #1: Come to the Sunday Worship Service. If you've only got time for one thing this fall, choose this. Our worship service is the center of our life as a church, and the thing that drives everything else we do. It's in the worship service, where our diverse inter-generational family of Grace comes to unite and worship the Lord together, hear the preaching of His Word, partake of the Lord's Supper, and cheerfully give to the work of the Lord. These things don't happen anywhere else in our church, like they do in our worship service.

Priority #2: Jump into a Growth Group. Remember, this is our "Big Rock Priority" that we want to stick in our life jars first! (If that doesn't make any sense, listen to this message.) This is where we connect and care for one another. This is where we grapple with and apply the Gospel together. This is where we really can practice all those "one another" commands. . . . not in a group of 400 people on a Sunday morning, or even a group of 40 people, but in a group of 6 - 12 people where we can open up and share our lives. Growth Groups make a big church feel like a small church.

Priority #3: Get Your Students to Wednesday Evening Jr. High and High School stuff. In today's world, we believe Christian students need to be together regularly and often for mutual spiritual encouragement.

Priority #4: Take Your Pick. . . . . from our wide variety of other ministries including Tuesday Evening AWANA Kid's Program, Adult Sunday Seminars and Bible Fellowships, Thursday Morning Pearls of Wisdom Women's Study, Wednesday Evening Prayer Meeting, early morning Men's Studies throughout the week and a continual stream of special events.

With those priorities in mind, here are more specifics regarding a number of opportunities starting up in the next couple of weeks. . . .

  • Fall Kick Off, Sunday, September 19, 10:00 AM: Our annual Fall Kick Off in Mitchell Park is a week from this Sunday! We can still use helpers, so email our church office right now, if you can help with set up, food, fun booths, welcome, food or park clean-up. Let us know on the tab this Sunday how many will be joining us for lunch. Please, for the safety and enjoyment of others, do not bring your pets to the park that day. Invite your friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members to join us for this great day. This is the best, most open, inviting, non-threatening event we do every year. So let's make the most of the opportunity!
  • Pearls of Wisdom Women's Bible Study kicks off Tomorrow, Sept. 9, 9:00 AM: All women are welcome to join us as we study, "Meditations on the Person of God." You may register at the first meeting.

  • Growth Group Open Enrollment, Sundays in the Courtyard: We're reaching for 40 vibrant, alive, warm, relational groups this quarter. Groups begin meeting the week of September 26. Enrollment is happening Sundays in the Courtyard.
  • Open-to-All Sunday Adult Seminars & Bible Fellowships starting Sunday, Sept. 26
  1. Financial Peace University, September 26, 10:45 AM, Founders Hall B: We are once again hosting Dave Ramsey's 13 week Financial Peace University. Cost is $100 and space is limited, so register in the Courtyard on Sunday.

  2. Effective Parenting in a Defective World, 9:00 AM, Fireside Room: Hosted by our 2:42 ABF and facilitated by Donny & Stephanie Valliere, this 12 week class, utilizing a Chip Ingram film series, will tackle the ins and outs of Gospel-centered parenting in a busy, broken world.

  3. Living Out Loud, 9:00 AM Founder's Hall B: We all know we should share our faith in Jesus with others around us, but most of us are scared to death and don't know where to begin. Hosted by the Harvesters ABFs, this seminar co-lead by Ted Malley and Tim Arlen, will provide Biblical training and practical help for effectively sharing your faith in your God-given circle of influence. . . and with perfect strangers.

  4. Living Stones Adult Bible Fellowship, 9:00 AM, Founders Hall A: As the fall gets going, the Living Stones invite you to jump into their ongoing study of Acts. Living Stones are a warm, caring fellowship of adults, between the ages of 40 and 65.

  5. Bereans Senior Adult Bible Fellowship, 10:45 AM, Fireside Room: We love our senior adults here at GraceSLO! If you're a senior adult looking to connect with others your age, the Bereans is the class for you. Join them this fall as they continue in their study of Revelation and Proverbs.
  • Daughters of the King Brunch, Saturday, October 9, 9:00: We'll be celebrating our place as women in God's Kingdom. Come enjoy a delicious breakfast, fun crafts, sweet fellowship and an inspirational talk. Cost is $5/person with a $10/family maximum. Sign up in the Courtyard on Sunday. For more information call Debbi Weeks at 543-2358.
It's going to be great Fall together. Let's prioritize and sprint hard toward Thanksgiving together.

I just don't have time or space in this email to tell you about our leadership's Big 5 Priorities this Fall, but I want to and you need to hear them. So I'll save them for a future email. Stay tuned!

Oh yeah. . . also. . . after a few weeks away from preaching, I've got a "burning in my bosom" and I'm fired up to preach the Gospel from Psalm 63 this Sunday morning. A bunch will be away at the Grace Family Campout at Lake San Antonio, but also a number of families will be visiting our church as they drop off their incoming Cal Poly Students. Let's look for them and reach out to them.

Thanks for reading. Hope to see you Sunday.

Because of and for the Gospel . . . Pastor Tim

Listen to last week's message, "A Solitary Savior in the Midst of Misery"
Read Pastor Tim's blog (see what Haaken got for his 5th birthday this week!)
See Grace event pictures
Sign on to our online congregational directory

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Haak turns 5 today. Precious boy, fearfully and wonderfully made by God in His image.

Since he is absolutely obsessed with farms & animals, he got some bantam chicks for his birthday. . . and that cool hat made by his sister Sage. . . .

One of the neatest things for me to watch is how our 4 kids interact with and care for each other. I never thought about that before we had kids. I thought about the parent-child relationships, but not about their sibling relationships with one another. It brings me much joy to see how they love one another. . . most of the time! Haak loves his brother and sisters and they so love him.

It's a special time in our family. I'm wondering what trials lie around the next corner. . . . Some of you know better than I. I'm trying not to fear, but to trust God today and for tomorrow.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

let's not become a museum

Sent to me by a friend and co-leader in our church. Love it. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


We were in desperate need of an updated congregational directory . . . . Thanks to the hard work of Sharon Ernstrom it's here . . . . finally.

If you haven't picked one up in the Courtyard, get 'em while they're hot!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mayor Dave

I was pretty humbled and intimidated 7 years ago when I learned that the mayor of the city attended the church I was called to pastor.

I was humbled and intimidated again this morning when I read this New Times article noting Mayor Dave's contribution to our community over the years and his retirement announcement.

There he and Mary Belle sit every Sunday morning. Faithful, quiet, unassuming, approachable, personable and always, always encouraging to me. They both love God's Word and coming under its hearing. He calls me "Pastor." I call him "Mayor."

He's practiced his Christian faith in the faithful fulfillment of his family and civic callings. He's invested his life in our community and his impact and influence will be felt for many years to come. I respect that. Like all men, Dave Romero is not perfect, but he's loved and served our city with integrity for so many years and, in so doing, has served the Lord.

I respect and give thanks to the Lord for Dave Romero and wish him the best as he begins to serve the Lord in a new season of life.