Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is Publishing, Reading and Content Dead?

Here's food for thought if you despair the current rise of social media, the web and much more associated with our postmodern culture...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not the Church's Job

Just read this, the latest edition of The Serious Times by James Emery White. We all need a healthy challenge in this direction...

It’s Not the Church’s Job

I love the church.

I have given my life to the church.

I believe, as is often said, that the church truly is the hope of the world.

But that’s not the church’s job.

Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here you go:
Make me close to Jesus!

It’s not the church’s job.

Save my marriage!

It’s not the church’s job.

Raise my kids!

It’s not the church’s job.

Give me friends! It’s not the church’s job.

Feed me!

It’s not the church’s job.

It is not the church’s job to give you the life you want, or hope for, much less the one that you are expected to forge through a relationship with God through Christ under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The church cannot ensure that all goes well with you. Most of life is your responsibility.

Why do I say this?

To defend the church.

Why do people often come to a church? To get fixed, find friends, renew faith, or strengthen family. All well and good, and the church can obviously be of enormous assistance in all four areas. But the church can’t be held responsible for these four areas of life, nor should you expect it to.

Let’s try and drive this one home:

The parents of a middle-school student drop their child off at a middle-school ministry. The child does not change into a model Christian student. The parents immediately search for a new church with a more effective middle-school ministry.

What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong is the complete absence of any sense that spiritual life is the responsibility of that middle-school student, not to mention that spiritual leadership within the family is the responsibility of her parents.

Instead, we have a mentality of “drop-off parenting,” which is just part of the mentality of a “drop-off church.” We drop our wives off at a women’s ministry to get them to be the wives or mother’s we want; we drop our husband’s off at a men’s Bible study to get them to be spiritual leaders; we drop ourselves off at a service or recovery group to fix our problems, or a Bible study to renew our lukewarm faith.

It reminds me of the sixties and Timothy Leary’s famous line regarding not only the benefits of LSD, but the spirit of the age:

“Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.”

That is not the way to approach the church.

There comes a time when personal responsibility kicks in.
The church exists to coalesce and enrich; to coordinate and inspire; to provide order and leadership. It exists to pull together the collective force and will of those who follow Christ in order to fulfill the Great Commission given it by Jesus Himself. Yes, it serves the family trying to raise a child; it seeks to heal those who are broken; it provides the richest of communities for relationships; it offers the necessary resources for a vibrant relationship with Christ.

But it cannot circumvent the choices and responsibilities of the human will.

It cannot do life for you.

That’s your job.

- James Emery White (

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What the Hell?

Great discussion just now on hell...Think of the Christian
view this way: God has created 2 eternal paradises. 1 for those who love & follow Him and 1 for those who hate, feel indifferent, or at least trust in someone/thing else. God lives in the first one with those who want to spend the rest of eternity with Him. This place is called Heaven. God doesn't live in the second place. After all, teh people there don't want anything to do with God. If you think about it, from the perspective of this life, it's actually paradise for those who want to be free from God. No church. No preaching. No Xns. No Jesus. In other words, it's exactly what the people who live there want--the eternity they would choose for themselves. The absense of God and everything having to do with Him. That place is waht the Bible labels "hell." The Bible says says "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from athe Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17) What we fail to realize is that the source of all love, compassion, mercy, goodness, community, joy, et al. good things is sourced in the person of God Himself. Remove God and you remove all trace of the goodness He gives. The point is that hell is NOT at all about moral behavior. Moral behavior does not factor in at all. Heaven and hell, salvation, our eternal destiny is all about how we relate to the person of the Benevolent Creator God who has soveriegn authority over the earth and those who live in it because He invented it and us. None of this changes the aweful reality of hell, but it does totally change our understanding of why people go there or not.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

the gospel coalition

I have been so delighted to discover a coalition of pastors who are seeking to raise up a generation of pastors committed to Gospel-basaed ministry. The leadership of this group is an amazing gathering of pastors whose books I read and sermons I listen to for encouragment, stimulation and better understanding of God's Word. Here you have the likes of John Piper, Tim Keller, DA Carson, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever and others--men committed to God's Word, historic reformed theology and dynamic and relevant Gospel-ministry in our day.

As they say it...

Our desire is to serve the church we love by inviting all of our brothers and sisters to join us in an effort to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age. We intend to do this through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the fellowship of the saints. We yearn to work with all who, in addition to embracing the confession and vision set out here, seek the lordship of Christ over the whole of life with unabashed hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform individuals, communities, and cultures.

The Gospel Coalition site has documentation on their theological positions and ministry vision, audio and video content, articles--historical and contemporary, recommended resources and more. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

too too long

Lisa says it's been so long since I posted that she's threatening to take my link off her blog. I've been pondering some deep thoughts lately that I keep meaning to post. BUT, what has actually motivated me to post again is the poetic picture below.

Poor little guy--didn't stand a chance against our front window. Matthias keeps telling me "Daddy, I saw the birdie died. He's crash right through the window. He must not to do that otherwise he will get an owie and he will get a tummy ache. He's resting now he died. Right Daddy?"

Part of me marvels at my son's first encounter with death and his processing through it. Such a part of life that we're often more removed from today.

Part of me just resents having to scrape up the remains of this little guy (including the feather scraps he left on the window)--ironic since I've dropped 9 gopher bombs in the last 5 weeks (why do I feel a sudden kinship with Bill Murray?)in the same yard .

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

importance of doctrine

For a long time now I have held what I consider to be a high view of the importance of right doctrine in the life of the believer and the Church. I am one of those people who really believes that right actions flow from right thinking. I believe that ideas matter. They shape the world we live in. They shape the mundane decisions we make day to day that determine our paths and our character.

For all that, I am also convinced that correct doctrine is not the be all end all of the Christian life. I have seen and experienced (yes and led out in) too many bitter disputes over doctrinal issues. I have seen people with fine theology whose spiritual lives are cold. I have talked with too many people hurt by those who see their calling as policing everyone else's doctrine. Even worse, I see in Scripture that correct doctrine, while important, does not a vital Christian life make. How else do you explain James 2:19, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!"

I've recently discovered a wonderful article by Francis Schaeffer on this issue called "The Secret of Power and the Enjoyment of the Lord." In a couple short pages Schaeffer helpfully connects the critical role of pure and correct doctrine with a motive of love as a key component of true Christian spirituality. He says, "Purity of self and purity of the church are not ends in themselves. It will not even do to pursue these merely as loyalty to principle. Purity of self and the purity of the church are only worth while when they are based upon love and lead to love." This type of life is a "battle against flesh all the way" according to Schaeffer.

I continue to believe in the importance of ideas and especially doctrine. At the same time, we cannot disconnect our doctrine from its fruit and motive. If the Gospel is the life-transforming news of God's love for the world expressed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then love must flow forth from our lives--especially those for whom doctrine matters. After all, Jesus Himself told us (and the world around us!) "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

family reading

A little while back Lisa picked us up a new children's Bible to read with the boys. Sorting through the options, she found one with a name she recognized--Lloyd-Jones (one of my pastoral heroes is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones for his committed and skillful preaching of God's Word). It wasn't by Martyn, but Sally Lloyd-Jones called The Jesus Storybook Bible. A daughter perhaps? Some type of relative? It would seem the answer is no. Just one of those happy coincidences of life.

As it turns out, this kids Bible is one of the best I've ever seen! For once, here is a Bible written at a young child's level of understanding that doesn't violate the text to turn the Bible into a Christian collection of morality tales. Instead, the focus is on God and His redemptive plan throughout history as revealed in the person of Jesus. AND it's fun to read! As Sally Lloyd Jones says of her book, "I wrote this so children could know that God is for them and loves them with a Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."

I was recently pleased to discover an endorsement on Amazon from another big influence on my life, Tim Keller (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) and his wife Kathy. Keller says, "I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian." Kathy says, "A unique resource for communicating the gospel to children in all it's fullness."

We try and take a few minutes each evening after bath time to read a section (5 minutes or less, so don't be impressed) and sing a little. It's great time together as a family and I feel I'm understanding Scripture better while David and Matthias are learning the storyline of the Bible and God's Rescue plan in Jesus. I highly recommend this Bible if you're looking for a Bible that "gets" kids and keeps faithful to the intention of the flow of Scripture.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

what is the church?

What is the Church? Theologians' answer to the question runs along the lines of "All true believers in all places throughout history." This is the Church Universal and it's important we recognize this dimension of hte Body of Christ. However, the only way we can experience the Church as embodied persons is through local churches--communities of believers who commit to gathering regularly to worship, hear God's Word, take the Lord's Supper and practice the "one another's" found in the New Testament.

Here's the deal. As college students it's easy to see yourself as a part of the Church Universal because you are displaced from your home church and the Christian community from which you came. It's easy to see involvement on campus or even in a church's college group as fulfilling the place of of the local church. For some it's even seen as enough to experience multiple churches simultaneously.

The reality though is that Scriupture calls us to something more dynamic and more compelling. We are called to gather together as teh "Body of Christ"--a visible, embodied representation of life in Christ. Our committed love for one another is to testify to the power of the Gospel to change human relationships. Our corporate worship (note the "body" language in that word from Latin, corpus; not corporate in terms of a business corporation) is to show how we prize the God of the Bible above all else. Our common life together with people we wouldnt associate with except our family connection though Jesus, is to show the power of the cross to bring about reconciliation.

We can only do these things through gathering, committing, submitting, opening up, serving and praying for each other on a regular basis. Pastor Tim's series on the Church has been a great overview showing us what God's Word says about these things and what this looks like in practice. If you've missed any of htis series, go back and listen online or even subscribe ("Living the Gospel") on iTunes to catch up. You can also make sure you don't miss if you're ever out of town.

Beyond that, if you call Grace Church your home, I encourage you to put this series into practice--make attending worship service your priority on a Sunday. College Group is a great limb of the church, but we can only experience the Body by gathering with those who aren't just like us. Connect in a Growth Group to go deeper in your relationships with other people and with the Lord. (We'll be starting a new round of Growth Groups in Winter Quarter.) Take advantage of opportunities to serve and learn from all the generations at Grace.

candy corn century

I just rode my first century on Saturday with Scott Morton. It was a great ride up the coast and then up the 46 to Templeton and back down to the SLO airport. Lisa and the boys came out to play SAG Wagon, cheer us on and take some pics on the way up the 46 (yes, she IS the best wife ever!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

hoedown 2007

Granted it's been a while since I logged in with everyone here in blog land, but the Hoedown means it's high time! We had a great time once again at this years Hoedown, hosted by the ever faithful and generous Matt & Jean Kokonnen. How can you not have fun with a couple hundred college students Line dancing and Square Dancing with great food, prizes (donated by local businesses) and the incredible pie eating contest.

I love this event every year--kudos to our incredible student leadership team for pulling this thing off with excellence once again and the leadership of Matt Esswein our College Ministry Assistant. Check out the pics to get a flavor of the night!

dancing of course

lots o' friends

dance instructors--our own Gabba & Kaleo

Pie eating contest!

great prizes from local businesses
(Thanks Trader Joe's, Jiffy Lube, Movie Experience, Lisa Leonard Designs, Cold Stone Creamery, Marie Calendars, Albertson's and more!)
is that Jr High Director Ben Collins??

Monday, July 16, 2007

weddings, weddings, weddings

This summer I've performed more weddings than ever before in my pastoral ministry. Any coincidence that I just taught a series on relationships in college group this past Spring?? Unfortunately, I can't take that kind of credit! This past weekend Lisa and the kids joined me in a little road trip up to Sonoma County for Alex and Kristen Lege's wedding. I met Kristen early on in my time at Grace. I rejoice with them that the Lord has brought them together and that I had the privilege of being a small part of their process. The Lord's work is evident in their lives and their relationship. Congrats Alex & Kristen!

Friday, July 13, 2007

what i'm reading

I have turned to 9 Marks Ministries and their excellent leadership interviews for a couple of years now as a source to feed my soul for life and in pastoral ministry. I finally just finished reading Mark Dever's 9 Marks of a Healthy Church and am encouraged and challenged by hte issues Dever puts forth.

He makes clear from the beginning that these marks aren't an exhaustive list of practices that should occur in churches. He choses these because he believes they are hte oens that are falling more and more out of practice in today's church. I can say that I agree with Dever for the most part. I found his chapter on leadership very practical, the chapter on church discipline has done much to improve my undestanding of that practice and I was stirred by way of reminder as I read the first chapter on Expositional Preaching.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand God's calling on the Church.

The 9 Marks are:
  1. Expositional Preaching
  2. Biblical Theology
  3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News
  4. Biblical Understanding of Conversion
  5. Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
  6. Biblical Understanding of Membership
  7. Biblical Church Discipline
  8. Biblical Discipleship and Growth
  9. Biblical Understanding of Leadership

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

meet matt esswein!

Matt Esswein just started this week as our new College Ministry Assistant. He just graduated from Poly this past weekend with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in international management (an impressive mouthful if you ask me!). I'm stoked to have Matt on board this summer and am looking forward to what he'll add to our college ministry here at Grace. This Sunday he'll be teaching in college group at 11:00am, so come by and get to know him. If you want to get in touch with him his email is, or you can call him at 805.543.2358. He's pictured here hard at work in his office. Welcome aboard Matt!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

another one of our own!

I got an email this weekend making fun of me for not posting in while, so I've been shamed back into the blogosphere! Actually, what's really bringing me back out is that one our student's at Grace, Lindsay, blogged about college group this morning. I was greatly encouraged and humbled by Lindsay's reflections. I got to know her as we worked in New Orleans last summer and have enjoyed watching her grow in the Lord this year. In a bit of serendipity I found this photo of Lindsay WITH Jessica in New Orleans last year! (probably Lindsay's favorite pic of herself! check out her blog: On A Balloon Ride) One of my great joys is seeing our students grow in their faith. Thanks for the encouragement Lindsay!

Monday, March 5, 2007

one of our own!

One thing I am passionate about in our college ministry here at Grace is the stewardship we have in training up those who will go out and serve Christ in all kinds of vocations. Just over a week ago, one of our own, Jessica Reed (former Student Leader in our college ministry!), was back in town for her first professional engagement as Papagena in Mozart’s "The Magic Flute." Jessica is currently pursuing her graduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. I regularly get emails from her where she continues to evidence her growing faith and desire to serve the Lord where He calls her. Way to go Jess!

Check out the Tribune's article on Jessica!

Friday, February 23, 2007

slo tour

It's not everyday the world champion of your favorite sport takes a win in your own town. Yesterday Paolo Bettini, the current road race world champion took it right on Monterey Ave in front of the former Hudson's Grill (my family used to eat there when I was a kid coming over here from Fresno). This is my shot of him in the midst of the madness and you can see his distinctive rainbow jersey on the right of the peleton as they prepare to turn form Chorro onto Monterey in the picture below (as a side note I took this picture while simultaneously standing within ten feet of Levi Leipheimer's dad and being kicked by own beloved son who was freaked out by the utter roar of the crowd!)Below are two pictures I'm pretty proud of. On the left you see the picture I lined up and had all focused in on Levi in his gold jersey, when someone 10 yards in front of me put up their camera. I have lots of pics of cameras from yesterday, but none this good! On the right is my follow up picture. I'll probably get a call from VeloNews wondering if they can print this one in their Tour of California issue. What can I say?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

go levi!

The Tour of California is back! My race favorite from last year, Levi Leipheimer, is once again in the lead. With his new place on the Discover Team, there's a pretty good chance he'll stay there until the end. If you have time, the peleton will be rolling into SLO between 3:00 and 4:30 this Thursday. Come by and check it out--this is the biggest international sporting event that comes to SLO town. It's likely the winner of the next Tour de France is among this bunch and the current World Champion will be there. See you downtown!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

retreat reminder!

Spaces are filling up for our College Winter Retreat on Feb 9-11! Nevertheless, I'm throwing out one last chance to register for the early rate. If you can get your registration in before this Thursday (Feb 1) at 2:oopm, you can still get in for $75 (or $95 if Snowboarding). After that, it will be an additional $20.

Details once again:
  • Who: Grace College-Aged Community
  • What: College Winter Retreat 2007--Studying Discipleship in Luke and having fun in the snow!
  • Where: Shaver Lake
  • When: Feb 9-11 Meet in front of the church @ 4:30 a.m. (Snowboard group) / 4:30p.m. (retreat only group) on Friday February 9.
  • Why: Go Deep with God and each other
How to sign up--drop off a check at the church office Mon-Thur, or sign up on Sunday Morning during College Group. Questions? email:

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A number of our college students from Grace went to Urbana over the winter break to explore missions and God's calling on their lives. I've been hearing moving reports of what happened in their lives as a result. One of them, Matt Esswein, sent me this article published in the Wall Street Journal saying, "It was cool for me to here as a business major that one of the nation's top business publications would include an article on the conference. "

Check it out: Meeting in St. Louis

He shared that this conference has been making him think more about doing business for a while and seeing what doors God opened up there. Since we're talking about vocation in college these days I wonder...

Any ways God has been working on your lives specifically with regards to vocation?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

good question george

Check out this column by George F. Will in the most recent issue of Newsweek. A very insightful example of the way Roe v. Wade, genetic disorders, and eugenics come together to discriminate against the very lives of a certain classification of human beings.

Golly, What Did Jon Do?

As a side note, even as I am writing this David (another person offensive to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) is pulling himself to a stand and taking 6-7 independant steps toward Lisa. Check out the pictures!

Friday, January 19, 2007

choosing david

Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday. I always used to think that good Christians should take a pro-life stance and that we should defend the rights of the unborn when it came to abortion and the like. Two influences have since come into my life that have greatly challenged my views on this issue.

In the past few years I have become of devotee of the Mars Hill Audio Journal (a bimonthly audio magazine of contemporary culture and Christian conviction). Ken Myers has, over the years, interviewed many guests who have raised my awareness that abortion is only the beginning of the crisis facing our culture when it comes to the value of life. He has interviewed the likes of Richard John Neuhas, Nigel Cameron (a regular guest), Carlos Gomez, Michael Uhlman, C. Ben Mitchell, Joel James Shuman and others about issues like stem cell research, the relation of God's nature and purposes to our approach to sickness and medicine, the vocation of medicine, the meaning of human life, issues of suicide and euthanasia and many related topics. The take-away that continually resonates in my mind and heart is that the church by and large is behind the times on the variegated issues that surround sanctity of life. In an age of assisted suicide, genetic counseling, eugenics, fertility specialists, a lack of moral moorings, the Church needs to be educated and needs to stand up and fulfill its prophetic role in our culture.

Besides being stirred intellectually regarding these issues, we have faced them personally and deeply in raising a child with special needs. Our oldest son, David, was born with Cornelia deLange Syndrome resulting in small stature, global developmental delay and physical abnormalities. The conventional wisdom in the medical community today seems to be that testing should be performed during pregnancy to investigate the health of the "fetus" (I had a professor at Fresno State who once commented that pregnant soccer moms never have tee shirts that read "Fetus" with an arrow to their tummys!). While it might seem these good people in white lab coats want the best for your "fetus," unfortunately they are more often than not investigating whether they need to counsel termination of a pregnancy gone wrong. "In light of modern medicine, it is ridiculous that anyone should be born today with genetic disorders" is a sentiment I come across often, whether from the likes of Peter Singer or from doctors interviewed in Newsweek and on such programs as 60 Minutes. They don't mean that modern medicine can heal. David and his classmates at Chris Jesperson, in many such people's opinions, should never have been born. They're "quality of life" lacks too much and the financial outlay to our society costs too much. Yet, as I have watched my son over the past 41/2 years, it is offensive that anyone would dare to rob him of his opportunity at life. This kid is full of joy, determination and love. He brings joy to those who get to know him and has challenged many people (including me!) in the way they see others. Beyond that, the Lord, the Creator of life itself, speaks directly to this issue in Psalm 139:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

The God of the Bible revealed in Jesus of Nazareth invented life. He is the giver of life. He sovereignly superintends every dimension of our lives.

There are a ton of great resources out there to learn more about the issues facing our culture on the issue of Sanctity of life. I want to recommend just a couple. After David was born someone gave Lisa a copy of Choosing Naia which she found extremely helpful. It is a book about a couple, Greg and Tierney Fairchild, a happily married, interracial professional couple who went for the usual prenatal screenings and came away with some very bad news: the fetus carried a major heart defect that could signal Down syndrome. The Fairchild's are not believers to my knowledge and begin as a couple who are not particularly pro-life. This is the story of their journey coming face to face with these issues in their daughter Naia.

I would also recommend Bioethics: A Primer For Christians by Gilbert Meilaender. As one review on Amazon puts it, Meilaender comes to the point early: "I have tried to say what we Christians ought to say in order to be faithful to the truth that has claimed us in Jesus." Recommended on Mars Hill, I plan to read this book this year to continue my own education on this issue.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

college winter retreat

Don't miss out on this year's Winter Retreat. February 9-11 Grace College ministry is heading up to Shaver Lake for a weekend of snow, fun and going deeper with God and each other. Last year was our first Winter Retreat and we had a blast. This year it'll be bigger and better than before--including the addition of an optional day of snowboarding @ Sierra Summit! Our spaces are limited and about a third of them are already gone, so sign up this Sunday Morning.

Retreat Info:
  • Option 1: $75 (retreat only)
  • Option 2: $95 (retreat with snowboarding; rentals not included)
  • Register by Sunday, Jan 29 in College Group
  • When do we leave? Meet in front of the church @ 4:30 a.m. (Snowboard group) / 4:30p.m. (retreat only group) on Friday February 9.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

3 years old!

Matthias turned 3 this weekend and we had a fun train party down in Oceano at the Rock & Roll Cafe. This picture captures one of Matty's new expressions that I totally love these days. I think it captures his place in life...just beginning to grasp the significance and excitement of special occasions like Christmas and birthdays!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

fighter verses

I've been wanting to be more intentional about spending time in the Word as a family for a while. A couple years back I met with some guys in our church for breakfast once a week and we memorized a set of verses put out by Desiring God called "Fight Verses." It's great becasue you can get them right off the web sight for free, or you can purchase their resources.

I've been wanting to try it in earnest for so long that I finally bit the bullet and purchased the ESV (my favorite translation for literal/readable combo) set for our family. Lisa and I started memorizing together a couple weeks ago with a verse from the Old Testament that says it all,

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God
who keeps covenant and steadfast love
with those who love him and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations.

Deut. 7.9

I share this, not because I am so great at memorizing, but because I struggle to keep this as a my part of my life. Maybe you do too. We're enjoying the time together and we're talking about Scripture together each evening after dinner. If yo're lookoing for something to help you, I highly recommend Fighter Verses (you can get kids packs and little prizes for your kids too).

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


I admit I don't know a lot about a lot. However, I just poured "fat free half & half" into my coffee. Isn't that called skim milk?? If only Tim Wheeler were a blog guy, he could log in and clear up the confusion for me...

the a.i.d.s. crisis

I mentioned the Hedlt's and their blog a couple posts back as examples of living the Gospel in the world. One issue they are informed about si the crisis of AIDS, especially in Africa. Iam very challenged by them in this area and regret my ignorance in this area. Today in the mailI received some literature on a new book being put out by Intervarsity Press on this very issue. I think for many of us in the Church this is one of our Ninevehs--an area of sin we would rather not touch. Perhaps it's time to see the Gospel is bigger than the AIDS crisis...

From the notice I received...

The Campaign for Life

Deborah Dortzbach and W. Meredith Long (both executives with World Relief) take you to the ground floor of the campaign against AIDS, moving from the devastating global perspective to the hope emerging from the grass roots. You can help the church change the course of hte AIDS Crisis.

How We Can Help

  1. Stop debating whether Christians should repsond to HIV and AIDS. "We must instead repent of our slow response."
  2. Decide how to resond. "The scope of possible invovement is just as broad as the scope of the AIDS disaster."
  3. Know with whom to respond. "The fight agaist AIDS brings together many unlikely organizations...sincere in watign to protect and save lives."
  4. Ask yourself daily: What attitude am I repsoning with? How vulnerable am I willing to become?
Perhaps the Lord would call on some in our midst to read this book and expand our understanding of this issue?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

simply christian

"Simply Christian" goes beyond C.S. Lewis's great classic Mere Christianity. N.T. Wright is simply crucial; his writing can transform one's life. This will become a classic."
-Anne Rice, author of Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt

That's quite a claim for a person to make. In some ways it it strikes me as the Christian version of claiming the hot new band is the next Beatles (Can you believe someone actually claimed that Terrence Trent D'Arby was the next Beatles? If you're asking Who?? my point is made). Nevertheless, as an accomplished author herself and as one whose life was transformed in part by Wright's writing in her journey to faith, I think we can give Rice credit for more than another blurb on the back of a book.

I recently finished reading and enjoying Simply Christian for myself. As a C.S. Lewis fan, I think I fairly say that only a scholar of Wright's stature and broad appeal could even dare to, let alone pull off, the task of writing the Mere Christianity for today's postmodern context. In my opinion, Wright accomplishes his goal. I will say from the start that I don't agree with everything Wright says, while I can only say I'm in process over other issues he raises. (Although, as much as I love Lewis, I don't agree with him on everything either.)

Nevertheless, I would recommend this book as an intriguing introduction to Christianity that leads us into the story of Christianity--the story of Israel and especially of Jesus--through the echoes we hear in life of a voice who tells us there's something more than what we experience. When we examine the world around us and our longings for justice, relationship, spirituality and beauty, we are acknowledging that all is not right with the world. Wright argues this is not because the Christian worldview is false, but rather because it is true! Our world groans because God's good creation has been marred by humanity's rebellion against our creator and needs to be "put to rights." This is where the echoes meet the story and voice of Jesus, come to bring redemption and new creation--to individuals and the world.

Not everyone will resonate with this book, but I think especially those of you in college and into your early 30's will find this book a helpful aid in your own faith and in your conversations with unbelievers.

cal poly grad living the gospel

I saw this article about Andrea Newell on the Tribune website today. I don't know Andrea's denominational ties, etc., but SHe struck me as another example of someone living the Kingdom. Congratulations on your wedding Andrea and Vincent!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

family time

Over the holiday we got some great time together as a family. We even got out with a photographer to get some family photos (a goal for about 18 months!).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

kingdom come

I've been thinking a great deal recently about what it looks like to live the Gospel in real life circumstances. I especially want to point our college age community toward worthy examples of Gospel-life. How do we "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation...appear as lights in the world " (Phil 2:15)? How do we live our future redemption in our lives now? What does it look like to strive toward the kingdom and will of God to be the same on earth as it is in heaven?

These are the questions that are on my mind a great deal of late. Then I thought about some people here at Grace that are lights in the world--examples of this kingdom living--for me. May their lives shine forth as an example for you as much they have for me...
  • Scott Morton--I've had the opportunity to hear Scott cast vision for Grace's upcoming Capital Campaign in a number of forums, both public and private. He's the real deal. His life challenges me to personally re-evaluate if we are truly stewarding our material resources for the Kingdom. That doesn't even get into Scott's personal investment into college men, or as an elder, or the way he uses his dentistry practice for the Kingdom.
  • Tim & Karen Weaver--I've been impressed watching Tim and Karen serve in many behind-the-scenes ways here at Grace. I think many would be surprised to find out how much they do for our Body Life. Beyond that, their love and commitment to their new boys Nick and Bif is amazing. They embody a picture of Romans 8:15.
  • Mike and Katie Allshouse--Generous folks who recently adopted Eli from Ethiopia. They have raised my awareness of ministries such as Engineering Ministries International and Compassion International. They're living life and keeping their eyes open for opportunities to give of themselves to the Kingdom.
  • Kevin and Brianna Heldt--This is a couple who regularly challenge me in a number of areas. Keven & Brianna were the first in our congregation to adopt twin boys from Ethiopia (Josef & Biniam) and to open my eyes to this possibility. Brianna blogs about issues like adoption and HIV in Africa (and lots of regular stuff too!) and they are a couple who looks seriously at how to live lives that promote justice, quality relationships and authentic spirituality.
  • Kirt Collins--Kirt is the backbone of our ministry to the homeless population here at Grace. He's faithful to recruit volunteers for the overflow ministry and to oversee it's operation for two months each year. He also lives out his faith as a local principle and member of the community. Besides that, he's just a neat guy to be around!
This isn't an exhaustive list, but a group of people who are right in front of my eyes who are striving to to see and live in the world in light of the Good News of King Jesus. My guess is that none of these think they're doing anything special--normal people living out the Gospel the best they know how. If you have any examples you know and would be willing to share, I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


We recently had a discussion about age and getting date of birth information in a staff meeting. It raised a question for me, why are people in our culture so sensitive about age? It seems to me to be yet another way we've missed biblical teaching (even in the church at times). In my position at Grace it is not uncommon in any given day that I find myself in a room with college students 10-15 years younger than me. Then in the afternoon I'll find myself at a lunch with someone 10, 20, 30 years my senior. That said, I feel the tensions of Living the Gospel in an intergenerational church like Grace.

That said, I'm surprised how often we in the church seem to be disproportionately concerned with the impressions, opinions and desires of the young. I'm surprised that Christian Believers would feel embarrassed by their age. I think of the Proverbs,

The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

(Prov. 20.29)

Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

(Prov. 23.22)

In fact, Paul had to exhort Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers tan example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. " (1Tim. 4.12). It seems youth was the bigger obstacle in their world. Proverbs begins by citing the lack of wisdom possessed by youth.

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;

to give prudence to the simple,

knowledge and discretion to the youth

(Proverbs 1:1-3)

I wonder, in our media-saturated culture, where body image is such a prevailing issue, and teens and even pre-teens (with their disposable income) are targets for marketing, if we are not swayed into thinking that youth is somehow more valuable than age. Perhaps it's even a by-product of being part of a young country that has always valued social and economic mobility. Perhaps it relates to Hollywood's portrayal of "reality" where the young and beautiful generally reign. I'm not sure what the cause, I do know the seniors in our midst feel the impact of our youth-based culture at times. (As a side note--I had the opportunity to lunch with our Young @ Heart crowd last week. They are a wonderful group of folks! Among other parts of the afternoon, there was an impressive bubble gum blowing contest!) I know the older generations have more life experience, a generally stronger work ethic, and wisdom to offer that I am years from acquiring.

Anyway, these are some thoughts on my mind someone encouraged me to blog about--what do you think about this issue?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

holding fast the word of life?

Last week it was Ted Haggard, this week it's Rev. Brian Moon who "has come up with ideas for his sermons after water-skiing, while watching "My Name Is Earl" on TV and while working on his 1969 Buick muscle car." One of our college students forwarded me this article (originally published in the Wall Street Journal but available here). Two things quickly come to mind when I see this article on the froont page of the one of hte most prestigious papers in the world. 1) Was it a slow news week or what? This is a front page story?? 2) I've seen pastors lose their pastorates over this. May we all take seriously Paul's exhortation to "hold fast the world of life in the world" (Phil 2:16) and all the hard work that comes with preaching the word of life. It is time consuming, hard work to learn the history of the ancient world(s), to grasp the literature of the Bible and to bring to bear an unchanging message to those who live today. Nevertheless, that is the task of those who teach and preach the Bible. Funny stories win crowds. The gospel is foolish to the world we live in. Plagarizing other pastors' sermons is not only foolish, but embarrasing. May we follow the example of Paul the Apostle in these things...

1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Friday, November 17, 2006

turkey bowl II

Don't miss Turkey Bowl II this Sunday, 2:00-4:30pm!