Eavesdrop at the Gospel Coalition Conference with us

Several of our staff are enjoying the Gospel Coalition National Conference in Orlando, Florida this week.  It is such a blessing to be here. Many thanks to the family of GraceSLO for graciously enabling us to be here. So far we've enjoyed expositions in the Gospel of Luke from John Piper, Colin Smith, Crawford Lorrits, D.A. Carson and Kevin DeYoung.  Great stuff still to come over the next day.

I just learned that the audio and video from the sessions will not be posted for a while, but you can watch and listen to the live feed in real time here. . .

The Gospel Coalition Conference Live Stream


Resurrection Resources

How glorious to worship the Risen Christ in our Easter services yesterday. In my message I shared 7 reasons why I believe the resurrection of Jesus and why I think you should, too.

If you missed the message, here are my 7 reasons, but you're really going to have to listen to the message HERE to understand them . . .

1. The early dating of 1 Corinthians & Mark within 20-25 years after the death of Jesus.

2. No one - neither Greco-Romans nor Jews - in the first century was expecting the resurrection of Jesus, but His folllowers somehow embraced and believed it.

3. The empty tomb, along with the early existence of a concocted alternative explanation.

4. The women as first witnesses of the resurrection.

5. The credibility of the post-resurrection appearances:  different people, different places, different times.

6. The initial disbelief of the apostles, their changed lives and their death as martyrs.

7. The explosive growth and impact of the Christian movement.

I also promised I'd post some addition resources here at Life Together.  As promised, here they are.

4 great articles

Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by Matt Perman

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ by Peter Kreeft

The Resurrection of Jesus by William Lane Craig

A Case for Resurrection by Tim Keller

2 great sites

A gaggle of apologetics resources from William Lane Craig

Apologetics resources from Mice Licona

1 Free E-book

Raised?: Doubting the Resurrection

1 great video

Evidence that Jesus Rose from the Dead (William Lane Craig)


2013 GraceSLO Missions Trips

GraceSLO is taking the Gospel to the world. Below are upcoming mission's opportunities.  There are ways for us all to be involved.  All can pray.  Many can financially support.  Some will go.

Once again, I'm leading a trip back to India in November.  It's the last trip listed.  I can't wait and I'm praying for God to build His team.

Mexico Missions Family Trip: June 10th - 15th
The Family Ministry of GraceSLO will be working with AMOR Ministries, whose main focus is to support and strengthen the local church in Mexico. We will be building homes for needy families in the Tijuana area that are in some way connected to a local church. We will also have an opportunity for evangelistic outreach in the community in which we will be building. This trip will allow you to be a servant to people who have no way of repaying you, except through their gratitude.
Team Leader: Pastor Ken Peet Contact: ken@graceslo.org
Age Group: Adults/Families with kids 10+ Status: Open Cost: $365
World Impact LA June 17th- 21st
The High School Ministry will be taking a group of students and staff to the inner-city of Los Angeles this summer to do service projects. They will serve in homeless outreaches, VBS with kids, and work projects for Impact missionaries. The team would appreciate prayer for unity and safety during travel and work projects, that God would use them to be an encouragement to the people they serve with and that God would advance the Gospel among those who hear the good news through the team’s actions and words.
Team Leader: Pastor Brandon Hall  Contact: 805.543.2358 or brandon@graceslo.org
Age Group: High School Status: Open Cost: $250
Czech Republic July 22nd - August 7th
We will be reaching out to young people in the Czech Republic through an evangelical English camp. We will use our native English language as a bridge to build relationships and share Christ!  We work with a ministry called Josiah Venture, whose vision is to be part of a movement of God among the youth of Eastern Europe that finds its home in the local church and transforms society. We will partner with a local church to reach the students in the town of Litvinov.  It’s an amazing and growing experience as you share your testimonies of Christ’s love in real, fun, lasting way with students who often have never come in contact with the Gospel.
Team Leaders: Dave & Sharon Cumberland Contact: dcumberl@gmail.com
Age Group: College Status: Open Cost: $2,000
India October 13th- November 10th
We will be gathering in Delhi with teams from all over the world who are in partnership with Empart Ministries for the Encounter Conference. There will be 3 days in Delhi of prayer and fasting for Empart's work in India along with worship and teaching by Jossy Chacko, Founder & International Director. From there, teams will scatter across northern India to see Empart's various ministries first-hand. Our team will travel to Varanasi & Patna to support and encourage the church planters in training in the two transformation centers in these cities. We will have an extended time of ministry with our church planters in Patna.
Team Leader: Pastor Tim Theule Contact: tim@graceslo.org 
Age Group: 18+ & High School students with parents
Status: Open, limited to 12 persons  Cost: $3,100 commitment by May 1

Max McClean speaking Mark 1

Have you heard of Max McClean?  He's a uniquely gifted guy who travels around quoting Scripture and other worthy stuff.  He's currently doing a one man stage presentation of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters.  I've heard it's incredble.    I'd love to bring McClean to GraceSLO or the Pac for this or any show. 

One of the things McClean has done is memorize and speak the whole Gospel of Mark.  Since we've just jumped into our Meeting Jesus series in Mark, I thought you'd enjoy seeing and hearing it.  I'd love to hear your impressions . . .


Update:  Pastor Al just informed me (again) that Max McClean did an Easter Service back back in 1999 when GraceSLO was hosting Easter services at the Pac.  I think I'd known this, but forgot.   Before my time.  So, lots of you have heard and seen Max.  Share some impressions.  


Mark 1:1-13

This last Sunday, we began our Spring series in Mark, entitled Meeting Jesus, with a look at Mark 1:1-13.  In case you missed it you can LISTEN HERE

And here's a couple of slides. . . . 

This first one shows a quick pic of the structure of Mark. . . . 


The second slide shows how the Mark 1:1-13 centers around the theme of the coming of the God-King/Suffering Servant . . . 


Hope you can make a commitment to study God's Word in Mark's Gospel with us.  This week we'll look at "His Call" in Mark 1:14-20.  


guess where?

We have a great Ministry Staff team.   We think together and strive together with one purpose:   to see lives, families and our community transformed by the Gospel.   I love these friends and feel so fortunate to serve the Lord and His people with them.  

On the 2nd Tuesday of each month our Ministry Staff team enjoys lunch together.   This Spring, we're letting our new Events Director, Julianna Cementina, pick the places.   This is where she took us today.  Any guesses where this is?  


a new way to think about elders at GraceSLO


There's always a ton happening behind the scenes here at GraceSLO.  I always love to share some of it when I have opportunity.  

One of the things we've been working on recently is a new way to think about and classify elders at GraceSLO.   After a history of "life-time elders", over the last couple of years, we've had several guys  step off the governing team for different reasons . . . 

  • After 45+ years of elder involvement, Leon Maksoudian asked to "retire" active and ongoing involvement in elder meetings.  We've bestowed on him the title "Elder Emeritus."  
  • Jim Jeffrey stepped aside from the governing team to focus his energies on missions as our Missions Team Chair.  
  • Rick Ernstrom and Ron Johnston both stepped aside from the governing team for conflict of interest reasons as both men have family members who serve on our paid staff.   We aim to avoid any appearance of nepotism, so we no longer allow elders to govern when familiy members serve on staff. 
  • Ted Malley and Kendall Matina who have both enjoyed a sabbath rest this year after more than 6 years of active service on our governing team just informed us they are not ready to return to the governing team in order to give more time to their families at this time.   

These situations have raised questions for us, . . . 

What's the status and role of these guys who are
no longer serving on the governing team?

Are they still "elders" here at GraceSLO?   

After months of process, discussion and prayer we believe we've answered these questions in a way that honors the history of GraceSLO, the teaching of the Bible and the Godliness of these faithful men. 

From this point forward, we will recognize two classifications/categories of Elders here at GraceSLO . . . . 

Governing Elders:  board-sitting and invovled in the day to day business and shepherding decisions of the church

Non-Governing Elders:  those who serve and shepherd the congregation in non-governing ways and roles 

Non-Governing Elders will be recognized as Elders, be involved in worship services and other areas of the church as they desire and are available.   All Elders will meet together at least a couple of times of year for fellowship and a discussion of GraceSLO vision.  Elders will be considered elders at GraceSLO as long as they continue to meet the Biblical qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  

We believe and hope this new way of thinking about Elders will foster and stimulate more leadership development here at GraceSLO.   Our vision is that we might grow our elder team to 25+ where 10-12 serve as Governing Elders at any given time.  After all. . . 

It is a trustworthy statement:
if any man aspires to the office of overseer,
it is a fine work he desires to do. 
--1 Timothy 3:1

We've also shortened the term for service on the governing team  to 4-6 years with a required 1 year sabbatical sometime in the 4-6 year range.  The Lead Pastor is an exception to this guideline and is considered a Governing Elder as long as he serves the church.  

So, here's where we stand currently with Governing Elders and Non-Governing Elders. . . . 

Non-Governing Elders

Jim Jeffrey 
Ron Johnston 
Leon Maksoudian
Ted Malley
Kenall Mattina
Rick Ernstrom

Governing Elders

Wayne Brown
Dave Burns
Scott Morton 
Wayne Peterson
Steve Potratz
Todd Talley
Tim Theule
Donny Valliere

There are also two guys who are in our "elder pipeline" in the middle of our elder selection process and we hope to introduce them to the church family by late Spring.  All new elders will serve on the governing team as their initiation into elder service at GraceSLO. 

We're excited about these new developments and are committed to growing our leadership at GraceSLO wilth a healthy intergenerational mix of Godly men.   We hope, over the next couple of years, that the GraceSLO family comes to understand and fully embrace our elder categories and how the plurality of leadership functions at GraceSLO. 

making Hume Lake affordable

Our leadership believes that God has and does use a week at Hume Lake to change students' lives.  We've seen the impact over many years.   However, the price of Hume has risen considerably over recent years to the point where the the real cost to get a kid to a week of camp this year is $550. 

We know that's cost prohibitive for many families and especially for families with multiple kids. 

The Elders have a heart to do what we can to get as many kids as possible to Hume this year and every year.  Because God is financially blessing GraceSLO right now, we have the ability to help. 

Here are the 3 things we've done to make Hume more affordable for all . . .

  1. We designated our February Benevolent Fund offering (around $2500) for Hume Scholarships.  A few times a year we designate this once-a-month offering to a special project or need.  This seemed like an appropriate designation. 
  2. We designated $10k of surplus funds (a result of your faithful giving) to subsidize the cost of transportation and counselors for Hume.   This effectively brought the cost of Hume down from $550 to $500 across the board for all families. 
  3. We developed the following discount and scholarship opportunities . . .

Scripture Memory Discount:  $50 off
Memorize 1 John 4

  • Students will have three tries to say it.
  • Any translation may be used and you must say it in one sitting.
  • Only open to the first 50 people who memorize the scripture before May 5th.

*Scripture memory is required in order to apply for the other scholarships.

Multi-Sibling Discount: $50 off each additional student beyond the first (if needed)
2 Siblings -$50 (discount)
3 Siblings -$100 (discount)

Financial Need Scholarship: $50 - $200 off
You will need to fill out TWO financial aid forms: One to be submitted to Hume Lake and one to GraceSLO. Both are due by May 5th. We will let you know by June 5th.

Here's what all this means . . .

  • Any student can go to Hume for $450 instead of $550 this year, if they get on it and memorize some Scripture. 
  • Families can send 2 kids to camp for $850 instead of $1000, or 3 kids for $1250, instead of $1500. 
  • Families in need can get kids to camp for $250 to $400. 

Why make discounts and scholarships dependent on Scipture memory?  

This is the most frequently asked question that's come up as we've been communicating our Hume vision.   It's a reasonable question.  Here's why . . . we firmly believe that having a student memorize Scripture to earn a portion of the their camp cost provides at least 4 benefits for students . . .

  1. It affirm's human dignity.  Hand outs don't affirm human dignity.  We believe providing dignity is important in all our helping ministries here at GraceSLO.
  2. It teaches students the value of money and hard work.  The REAL cost of camp is $550 for every student to get to camp.  The congregation is shaing some of that burden.  We think it's appropriate for students to also share some of that burden. 
  3. It's in-line with Gospel principles that encourage us to take responsibility, work hard and bear our own load (like 2 Thes. 3:6-13 for example). 
  4. It provides an opportunity for students to "hide God's Word in their hearts," which is always a good thing. 

Keep in mind . . . we are not forcing students to memorize Scripture.  They are, of course, free to pay full price for camp if they and their parents desire to do so.  We are simply providing students an opportunity to earn a discount off the cost of camp. 

(A personal note:  When our kids go to any camp or costly church event (and they don't get to go to everything!), they are required to pay for at least 1/3 of the cost.   When possible, we try to provide them opportunities to work around home, for which we will pay them a fair wage, when they are trying to get to camp.  If we are not able to provide work and/or pay them, then they have to drum up work and funds in other ways.  Why do we do this?  The above "benefits" explain our rationale.  Getting to camp, then, becomes a multi-dimensional developmental/training opportunity.  Our kids really appreciate camp even more because they've had to shell out some of their own hard-earned cash.  We highly recommend a similar approach for all GraceSLO families!)

We're totally excited about these ways to bring the cost of camp down for all and for those in need.  We hope you are, too.  Your faithful generous giving to the General Fund is making it possible.  Every year is different and there are no guarantees that we'll be able to provide similar discounts and scholarships in future years.  We'd like to, but that will depend on God's provision and blessing.  

We're praying ahead for God to work in deep and life-changing ways in the lives of lots of students at Hume this year.  Start praying with us. 

And get your kids signed up for Hume ASAP!

Religious Liberty

If you are like me you have not thought near enough about religious liberty.   Well, you and I better start! Because we are living in days when these freedoms which we've largely taken for granted are being increasingly challenged and undermined.  

I confess I've not always been a huge Rick Warren fan, but I was pretty challenged by his recent comments regarding religious liberty which I heard on last week's edition of "The World and Everything in It".  His comments were excerpted from a 90 minute interview at Georgetown University. 

Please take a few minutes and at least listen to the shorter version.    

Here's a link to the shorter audio, which I couldn't figure out how to embed. . . 

March 2 World and Everything in It:  Rick Warren on Religious Liberty 


And here's the longer video . . . 




60 years of faithful service

If you missed Sunday's 2013 Missions Dinner, you missed out.  Among other things, we honored Ruth Salvador for 60 years of faithful service as a GraceSLO missionary.  Ruth shared some reflections that moved all who were present.  I was touched by Ruth's obvious commitment to the Scriptures and her clear clinging to the promises of God throughout her life and now in her present season.  She was candid about her struggles and the challenge of aging. 

To put this in perspective, Ruth Salvador has been serving as a GraceSLO missionary 16 years longer than I've been alive!  That's totally humbling and inspiring. 

Eric Flores, Lorraine Maksoudian, Jill Talley and others did an OUTSTANDING job creating this amazing vid celebrating Ruth's long service.  She was totally surprised. . . and so was I!  It captures some of the rich history and legacy of GraceSLO. . .



We also honored Ruth with a gift with which she can purchase a new computer to continue her ministry.  A dear, Godly woman who demonstrates faithfulness to the end.  She's not retiring, but finding new creative ways to serve the Lord and His people.  I'm so grateful for Ruth's example in this flighty, non-committal world.

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  • Life Together is the ongoing contemplation of our life together at Grace Church, San Luis Obispo, through the eyes of current Lead Pastor Tim Theule. 
  • Tim and his wife, Susie, are the delighted parents of four great kids, Sage (17), Eden (16), Zeke (12) and Haaken (9).  They have lived here on the Central Coast of California since early 2003. 

  • The title "Life Together" is borrowed from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's excellent little book concerning the joys and challenges of real Christian community, which bears the same title.

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