Thank You, GraceSLO

Gettys at TGC 2011

Modern hymn writers Keith and Kristin Getty have been leading worship here at The Gospel Coalition Conference.   The Gettys are the authors of the popular "In Christ Alone" but have written a whole bunch of other stuff as well.   Their sound this week has been very Irish/Celtic.  It's been awesome worshipping together with 5500 and has made me long for that great gathering that no one will count from every nation, tribe and tongue.

Here's a sample from Thursday morning. . .


Fun fact:  the instrumental intro and conclusion are from the movie, The Mission.  Susie and I included the song as part of our wedding ceremony.  Hearing it today took me back almost 18 years and made me long to see my wife.   Soon.


We had great Thai food together tonight between Tim Keller and Alistair Begg. . . it doesn't get any better than that. 

Keller's message was amazing . . . . as usual. . . it's already posted HERE.  


Gospel Coalition 2011, post #1

While the family of GraceSLO is enjoying our 2011 Missions Conference, several of our staff are together at the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago.  Not ideal timing, but we were committed to the conference before the Missions Conference was moved to accommodate Jossy Chacko.  

The theme of the conference is preaching Christ from the Old Testament, a topic I'm passionate about!   The conference started this afternoon with Al Mohler speaking from John 5, a text I referenced just a few weeks ago when we looked at the doctrine of the Scriptures.   Such good stuff and so great for our young guys to hear.  

We are blessed to be here, to be fed and to fellowship together. Many thanks to the church family for making that possible.   It's encouraging to be among 5500 Gospel-centered pastors to be reminded we are not alone.  

If you'd like to see what we're up to, and even listen along in real time via the live stream, you can go here. . .

Missions Conference 2011

We started thinking together about the spiritual harvest fields in North India a month back (listen here).   Our 2011 Missions Conference is going to take us further.   Our aim is to strategically and passionatly  align our hearts with God's heart for the nations.  Below is a run down of conference events.  Plan to join us. 

Sunday, April 10
9 & 10:45 a.m.
  • Pastor Tom Ferrell, Senior Pastor of Atascadero Bible Church will speak about their church’s involvement with Empart, an organization with the goal of planting 100,000 churches among unreached people by 2030 (Worship Center, both services) 
  • Meet our Missionaries – Twelve of our Grace Church missionaries will be visiting us during the Missions Conference. Join us for a lively, interactive opportunity to meet for the first time or catch up with some of our beloved missionaries. (Founders Hall, both services) 
Sunday, April 10
Between 2 & 5:00 p.m. 
  • Ned Steffens Open House at the home of David and Ceslie Patty in San Luis Obispo; all are welcome; RSVP 543-7047 
Sunday, April 10 to Saturday April 16
  • Visiting missionaries will be joining our Grace Growth Groups

    Sunday April 10th:
    11:00 am:Ladies
    Denise Gimball: 255 Rosita Street / SLO
    Missionary: Jo Ann Ray

    1:00 pm: Career Singles
    Tyler Burns: 1259 W. Newport / SLO
    Missionary: Jim Mock

    5:00 pm: Family
    Chad Theule: 1060 Hidden Springs Road / SLO
    Missionary: Michael Grainger

    5:30 pm: Family
    Tim Arlen : 575 Hill Street / SLO
    Missionary: Ray Albrektson

    5:30 pm: Family
    Mark & Rick Ernstrom: SLO
    Missionaries: Jake & Jen Tarr

    5:30 pm: Family
    Kendall Mattina: 1117 Holly Way / Pismo Beach
    Missionaries: Wayne & Kathy Lidbeck

    6:00 pm: Family
    Ted Malley : 2424 El Dorado Street / Los Osos
    Missionaries: Lloyd & Pamela Goss

    6:30 pm: Adults
    Charlie Herrera: 1750 De Anza Court / SLO
    Misisonary: John Nadolski

    6:30 pm: Adults
    Peter Rynning : 1149 Atascadero Street / SLO
    Missionary: Ned Steffens

    Monday April 11th:
    6:00 pm: Family
    Ryan Caldwell: 1492 Tanglewood Ct. / SLO
    Missionary: Ray Albrektson

    6:30 pm: Family
    Eric Collins & Jonathan Miller : Fireside Room @ Grace
    Missionary: John Nadolski

    8:00 pm: College co-ed
    Steve Leonard: 1523 Eto Circle / SLO
    Missionary: Jim Mock

    Tuesday, April 12
    6:30 pm: Adults
    Mike Ward: 625 Evans Road / SLO
    Missinary: Lloyd & Pamela Goss

    7:00 pm: Adults
    David Leece: 228 Mission Lane / SLO
    Missionary: Michael Grainger

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Matt Weeks: 2232 Bushnell Street / SLO
    Missionary: Jo Ann Ray

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Glenn Oden : 2122 Canvasback Place
    Missionary: Jim Mock

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Matt Gillette: 8615 San Carlos / Atascadero
    Missionaries: Jon & Noonie Fugler

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Steve Potratz: 851 Merced Street / Pismo Beach
    Missionary: Ned Steffens

    7:00 pm: Young marrieds
    Scott Nanninga: 740 Rougeot Place / SLO
    Missionary: Tim Cleath

    7:00 pm: Young Marrieds
    Andrew Smith: 2978 Rockview / SLO
    Missionaries: Wayne & Kathy Lidbeck

    6:55 pm: AWANA
    Erik Ernstrom: Grace CE Building, 2nd floor
    Missionary: John Nadolski

    Wednesday, April 13
    6:00 pm: Adults w/kids
    Ron McCarley: 2616 Adobe Road / Morro Bay
    Missionaries: Jon & Noonie Fugler

    6:45 pm: Adults
    Dennis Petersen: 6088 Marshall Way / SLO
    Missionaries: Fred & Marilyn West

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Colin Lewis: 1312 Aralia Court / SLO
    Missionary: Nancy Pryor

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Roger Moore: Fireside Room @ Grace
    Missionary: Jo Ann Ray

    7:15 pm: Adults
    Danny Edwards: 1716 Lee Ann Court / SLO
    Missionary: Ned Steffens

    7:00 pm: College gals
    Heather McMillan: 314 Corrida Drive / SLO
    Missionaries: Lloyd & Pamela Goss

    Thursday, April 14
    9:00 am: Pearls Of Wisdom
    Debbi Weeks: Founders Hall
    Missionary: Nancy Pryor

    6:00 pm: College guys
    David Haken: 2355 Madrid Court
    Missionaries: Jon & Noonie Fugler

    6:30 pm: Adults
    Jeff Martin: 254 Talley Ho Road / Arroyo Grande
    Misisonary: Ned Steffens

    6:30 pm: Adults
    Korey Carroll & Aaron Barker: 280 Tally Ho Road / Arroyo Grande
    Missionaries: Fred & Marilyn West

    7:00 pm: Adults
    Paul Evangelista: 462 Woodbridge Street / SLO
    Misisonary: Nancy Pryor
Sunday, April 17
9 & 10:45 a.m. 
  • Jossy Chacko, Founder of Empart will share about what God is doing among unreached people groups in Northern India, where approximately 500,000 villages have never heard the gospel message of Jesus (Worship Center, both services) 

Sunday, April 17
Between 2 & 5:00 p.m. 
  • Ned Steffens Open House at the home of Darrel and Sally Andrews in Atascadero; all are welcome; RSVP 461-1270 

Sunday, April 17
5:30 p.m. 
  • Missions Dinner – Our Grace summer mission trips to Nepal and the Czech Republic and the Summer Student Ministries’s trip will be presented.

The Mystery of God's Providence

I preached on the too often neglected topic of God's Providence last Sunday (listen here!), the third message in our "Doctrine Matters" series.   It's a sweet, but challenging topic for sure.  One of our Growth Group Shepherds sent me the following question. . .

How can God be all knowing (including future) if we aren't robots?  If he knows what we are going to do and say and all of our days are numbered and mapped, how is he not controlling our every movement and thought?  I am having a hard time reconciling the omniscient and omnipitent verses with providence not being determinism.  Can you fill that in for me?

Those are great questions and the right questions to be asking in response to Sunday's message.   It's beyond our understanding in some ways, but I think the answer lies in the mystery of concurrence.  Once more I think Wayne Grudem is helpful in providing some understanding. . .

We must guard against misunderstanding.  Here also, as with the lower creation, God's providential direction as an unseen, behind-the-scenes, "primary cause," should not lead us to deny the reality of our choices and actions. Again and again Scripture affirms that we really do cause events to happen. We are significant and we are responsible. We do have choices, and these are real choices that bring about real results.  Scripture repeatedly affirms these truths as well. Just as a rock is really hard because God has made it with the property of hardness, just as water is really wet because God has made it with the property of wetness, just as plants are really alive because God has made them with the property of life, so our choices are real choices and do have significant effects, because Go has made us in such a wonderful way that he has endowed us with the property of willing choice.  

One approach to these passages about God's concurrence is to say that if our choices are real, they cannot be caused by God (see below for further discussion of this viewpoint). But the number of passages that affirm this providential control of God is so considerable, and the difficulties involved in giving them some other interpretation are so formidable, that it does not seem to me that this can be the right approach to them.  It seems better to affirm that God causes all things that happen, but that he does so in such a way that he somehow upholds our ability to make willing, responsible choices, choices that have real and eternal results, and for which we are held accountable. Exactly how God combines his providential control with our willing and significant choices, Scripture dooes not explain to us.  But rather than deny one aspect of the other (simply because we cannot explain how both can be true), we should accept both in an attempt to be faithful to the teaching of all of Scripture.

Here is Grudem's full chapter on Providence, if you want more.  Its excellent.  It will make your head spin and your heart soar. 

Grudem:  Systematic Theology:  Chapter 16:  God's Providence.pdf (16.94 mb)

If you want to hear Grudem lecture through this chapter in a Sunday School Class in his church, you can listen in iTunes here. . . 

God's Providence #1

God's Providence #2

God's Providence #3

Are we willing to surrender to the mystery of God's sovereign providence over all thing? 

Sunday Parking

We blew it in not letting our church family know about the SLO City proposal to start charging for meters and structure parking on Sundays at 11:00 AM.  This came up back in 2006 and we were involved in fighting it.  It didn't pass then, but with city revenues down considerably, the issue has arisen again. 

A couple of weeks ago, we were informed about the proposal.  I wrote and sent the following letter back to the Parking Coordinator and then also sent it to other downtown churches to alert them of the proposal. 


March 28, 2011

Mr. Robert Horch

Parking Services Manager

1260 Chorro St., Suite B

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Dear Mr. Horch,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the proposed changes to the current Sunday parking regulations.  We appreciate our thoughts being represented to the City Council. We understand that parking fees and regulations have been a topic of consideration for a number of years.  Our former Business Administrator, Kathy Borland, served on a parking task-force committee in the past.  We also understand the financial challenges faced by the City of San Luis Obispo in these tough economic times.

The leadership of Grace Church, San Luis Obispo strongly opposes the city’s proposal to begin charging for metered and garage parking on Sunday mornings.    This proposal will have a huge, adverse impact on our community of faith, and, we believe, on the downtown community, as a whole.. 

Between our two Sunday morning services at 9:00 and 10:45 AM, we serve over 1000 people, hundreds of who often stick around downtown for lunch and shopping.  The proposal to charge for parking beginning at 11:00 AM on Sundays will undoubtedly trigger a decline in our Sunday service attendance as well as a decline in downtown activity afterward. If our congregants have to pay for parking, they will likely leave the downtown area and move to another part of town with free parking for lunch.  We’re certain downtown restaurants and other merchants will see a drop in their revenue.  Furthermore, since we are only one of several downtown churches, this decline in revenue and adverse impact on downtown will be compounded   

Since our second service starts at 10:45 AM, if meters turn on at 11:00 AM, our congregants will have to start paying early, or leave during a service to put money in the meters.  That would be the case if meters turned on at noon, as well, since our later service is not out until 12:15 PM.Another factor to consider is that people will be forced to park further out from downtown, creating overflow in the neighborhoods.  We’re certain residents will not look upon that favorably.

It is a pleasure and convenience to be able to eat, shop and enjoy  downtown on Sunday without having to pay to park.  If there are no other options for increasing city revenues, we  recommend a compromise and start charging for parking at 1:00 PM on Sunday.  This would allow our church members, as well as other downtown churches to park for free while attending services.

Thank you for your consideration.  Please keep us updated on this issue and opportunities to express our position before the SLO City Council.   



Tim Theule

Lead Pastor

Grace Church, SLO


Yesterday KSBY did a piece on the issue and asked if they could interview me.  Here's the piece. . . . as usual they edited as desired, but it's neat to see GraceSLO all over the place in the background. . . 

Last night the SLO City Council took up the issue, heard community feedback and then voted.  Our own Phil Gray spoke on behalf of GraceSLO.  In light of the community feedback, the proposal was amended to begin charging for parking at 1:00 PM instead of 11:00 AM.  This is still a bummer, but way better than in the middle of our second service.   The change goes into affect in July. 

Here's the post vote KSBY piece. . .

We are praising the Lord for this around here and consider this an answer to prayer.  Many thanks to Phil Gray for showing up and taking leadership in this matter.  In retrospect, I wish I would have said something last Sunday morning in our services, so that others might have had an opportunity to pray and show up at the council meeting.  I really wanted to be there myself, but just couldn't pull it off.  We were praying as a family throughout the evening. 

Friday Fun | 04.01.11 | Cream the Commander

Erik Ernstrom has got to be the King of Fun.  Not sure how many pies he took in the face that night, but here's two of them.  Not sure I could do it.  He's a stud.  The kids obviously love it.  Thanks Erik and all our great AWANA Leaders. 

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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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