Indelible Grace Church

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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Pastor Michael's Sabbatical

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Pastor Michael will be taking a 3-month sabbatical starting June 1.
Here are some questions for Pastor Michael:

Okay, so what is a pastoral sabbatical?
This is a time for me to get away from the day-to-day ministry responsibilities to pursue pastoral growth through study and reflection, and revitalization through prayer and rest. This is both for the sustainability of pastoral life and for the benefit of the church, as I will return, by God's grace, renewed and invigorated. This is a long-term investment in pastoral development and for the health of the church.

What will Pastor Michael do during his sabbatical?
Oh my, where do I start? First, I plan to read a tall stack of books. Do some advance reading on the upcoming sermon series on the Life of David. Work on long-term projects, like develop a deacon training program. Work on research-intensive Sunday school lessons, like a long-planned series on Eschatology; write a Sunday school lesson on homosexuality (as popularly asked); map out the next "Skeptics Night" talk, this time on the supposed conflict between science and Christianity. Read the Bible and pray a lot! But more than that, I’m going to try to get balance in my life. Many of you know I have a tendency towards workaholism (see unrealistic list of work projects above). So I want to practice a healthy life-rhythm. I’m going to exercise. I’m going to spend time with the kids and go on dates with Christina. We’re planning a week-long vacation in San Diego.

Will we be seeing Pastor Michael and his family around?
Yes. First, because of the rules of the PCA, only ordained pastors are permitted to administer the sacraments. So I’ll be around on those Sundays. And second, I genuinely enjoy being around you guys and I would miss you all terribly if I was absent the whole time. But, for the most part, I do plan to take this opportunity to visit other churches, so we’ll be absent then.

What will happen at IGC during the summer?
Pastors Wade and Harry will take over the day-to-day ministry operations, with assistance from Andrew Ong, who will help with the preaching load. We have a full calendar of events coming up: including a church picnic in May, an outing to Muir Woods in June, a missions trip to Honduras in July, and a service project at Marshall in August. God is at work in our church! Please pray for Wade and Harry. Please pray for me as I continue to pray for you.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 14:32
 

Objecting to Predestination

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In the movie, The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays a character who has a chance encounter with a woman played by Emily Blunt. They're immediately attracted to one another and fall in love. But then mysterious agents in fedora hats appear – they work for the all-powerful "Chairman" (read: God). According to the Chairman's "Plan," Matt Damon and Emily Blunt were never supposed to meet. And so the mysterious agents attempt to rewrite history – rearranging memories and separating the two star-crossed lovers. In the movie, there’s a scene where Matt Damon confronts the agents: "if I'm not supposed to be with her, how come I feel this way?" The agent responds coldly, "it doesn’t matter how you feel; what matters is what’s in the Plan."

In the tagline of the movie, it says, "do you believe in the power of free will?" And as we see Matt Damon and Emily Blunt running from the agents, the movie invites us to cheer on the characters as they resist the fate pre-determined by the ominous Chairman.

While the movie is a bit ham-fisted in its protest against the idea of predestination, it nevertheless captures our modern culture's objections against a God who foreordains all things. Starting March 15, Pastor Michael will teach a three-part Sunday school series looking at the biblical teaching on predestination and addressing the following questions:

(1) What about free will? (Class 1)
(2) How can God blame us then? (Class 2)
(3) Doesn't this make God the author of evil? (Class 2)
(4) Doesn't the Bible say God wants all people to be saved? (Class 2)
(5) Isn't predestination is unfair? (Class 3)
(6) What about John 3:16? (Class 3)
(7) What about faith? (Class 3)
(8) So then does God choose randomly? (Class 3)
(9) What about evangelism? (Class 3)

You can also catch the recordings of the lessons here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2015 14:50
 

How can we know the Bible is from God?

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One of the most difficult questions Christians grapple with is how do we know the Bible is from God and not the product of man? This is not a peripheral issue but goes to the heart of Christianity since the gospel is not a set of timeless moral principles but good news of something that happened in history.

The answer is that Jesus himself establishes the authority and truth of the Bible. First, he commissioned the writing of the New Testament through his apostles. Jesus appointed twelve apostles so that they might be with him and learn from him, and then to go out and proclaim his teaching (Mark 3:14-15). Jesus equipped the apostles with the Spirit, so that "he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26). Acts speaks of the apostles as those "chosen by God as witnesses" of Christ (Acts 10:41).

And then second, Jesus everywhere affirms the Old Testament. So, for example, when Jesus cites Genesis that "man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh," he states that this is from God (Matthew 19:4-6). Or when quoting from Psalm 110, Jesus identifies the Holy Spirit as the ultimate source (Mark 12:36). Thus everywhere, Jesus positively affirmed the divine authorship of the Old Testament.

Ultimately, Scripture rests on the authority of Jesus.  He is at the center of the story and the one who establishes its veracity.

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Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 16:00
 

2014 Year-in-review

Our year in photos:

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January – Two new community groups have began this year

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February – Serving our neighbors at Marshall Elementary School

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March – Third "Skeptics Night" held at Bodi’s Java

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July – Church picnic at San Felipe Park

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July – Five church members went to Haiti through Mission of Hope

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August – Thinking about suffering in Job at our annual retreat

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September – 22 women gathered for the Women’s Mentorship kickoff

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October – The men of IGC spending time together at Castro Village Bowl

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November – Packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

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December – IGC Christmas Party held at the Castro Valley Community Center

Last Updated on Monday, 12 January 2015 19:53
 

A Thanksgiving devotional

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It is remarkable how often the Bible speaks about giving thanks. There is one verse that has always impressed me – "give thanks always and for everything to God." (Ephesians 5:20) The Christian life is to be marked by ceaseless thanksgiving. I think this is profound for three reasons. First, it shows that thanksgiving is an orientation of the heart. Rather than complain or grumble about circumstances, which is to give into our self-absorption, we are to continually look upward to God and see his abiding goodness. Second, since we are to give thanks for all things, it means that we see, in faith, the wise and good providence of God, even in our tragedies and suffering. And third, a heart filled with gratitude will produce a life overflowing in praise and adoration, which is the very purpose of our existence. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 


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