Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Thank You" from the Graumans

Some of you have asked for some more information about the ministry of The Expositor’s Institute and Josiah Grauman. Below are some questions and answers for your benefit, as you pray and care for the Graumans. More information can be found at www.grauman.com.

What is The Expositor’s Institute?
The Expositor’s Institute is a training center for Spanish-speaking pastors. The institute offers three programs: 1) A two-year certificate in Bible and Theology for all Christians desiring to learn more about the Bible, 2) a two-year diploma in Pastoral Ministry and Expository Preaching for men who are, or desire to be, pastors and 3) a two-year program in Greek and Hebrew for men who desire to deepen their study of Scripture through a study of the original languages. The Institute is scheduled to begin September 14, 2009.

How can you help support The Expositor’s Institute?
Please pray for Josiah and the students! You may also consider personally supporting the ministry of The Expositor’s Institute. Information regarding the scholarship fund can be found by clicking here.

A thank-you note from the Graumans...
To the brethren at Grace of the Valley:

Grace and peace. We have been overflowing with thankfulness to the Lord for you in these past few days. Your generosity manifested itself both in your kindness and your giving. Praise the Lord! Though I had been wondering and praying about how I was going to both raise support for the institute and prepare for classes, your gift has completely freed me up to study and minister to our incoming students. Thank you. And may God repay you according to the riches of His abundant grace.

Grateful partners in His gospel with you,
Josiah, Crystal, Abigail & Noah
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Scripture's Authority vs. Society's Norms

On Sunday, Adam mentioned this week's disturbing decision that allows for ordaining homosexual "ministers" and lays the groundwork for accepting same-sex marriages in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. For a stellar commentary from the well-read, articulate, and doctrinally sound president of Southern Seminary, read this article as well.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Word from the Graumans

We are thrilled to announce the support of our first Grace Church supported global missionary. Josiah, his wife Crystal, and his daughter Abigail are a family whose ongoing legacy is the furthering of our Christ’s Kingdom mission. I know you will enjoy hearing from Josiah about the Lord’s direction in their lives as he answers the question, “Why are you leaving Mexico?”

The Lord’s sovereign, directing hand has always been unmistakable in my life. After open-heart surgery and a couple of strokes, 2 Cor. 1:3-5 drove me to the hospital chaplaincy. It was my overwhelming joy for almost five years to share the hope that Christ had given me, to the thousands that were dying without it. Another big factor was my own racial prejudice. To fight my sin head on, I decided to work at LA County Hospital, where over 90% of the patients were minorities. Yet the impossibility of reaching the multitudes was a constant burden. So when my own physical weakness prevented me from continuing as a chaplain, 2 Tim. 2:2 provided the direction I needed: if you want to reach thousands, train twelve.

One year after marriage, Crystal and I headed to Mexico City. For the past two years I have been pastoring in the local church and training men at Word of Grace Bible Seminary. By His grace, my students are reaching the multitudes that I as a weak/white American would have no chance of reaching. However, Mexico City is also rapidly becoming intolerable to my health condition (it’s at 7,500 feet with severe pollution).

Though we looked at a number of other places we could minister in Latin America as missionaries, it appears that the place where we would be most useful to the Lord’s Kingdom for the moment, is right back at home. As many of you might remember, during my years as a hospital chaplain in Los Angeles, one of the things that burdened me most was the spiritual weakness of the Spanish speaking churches in LA. Thus we have agreed to return to LA to help begin The Expositor’s Institute, which seems to be the most effective way to strengthen Christ’s Church in LA. The Expositor’s Institute is a training center for Spanish speaking pastors located at Grace Community Church. The institute offers three programs: 1) A two year certificate in Bible and Theology for all christians desiring to learn more about the Bible, 2) a two year diploma in 
Pastoral Ministry and Expository Preaching for men who are, or desire to be pastors, and 3) a two year program in Greek and Hebrew for those men who desire to deepen their study of Scripture through a study of the original languages.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Your Highest Concern: the Gospel or America?

by David Morris

Responses to last week’s message have been varied, from conviction to questions to slight disagreement. One recurring question has been: Is it fair to link racism to a dislike of Spanish becoming a prominent language in our valley and nation? Can’t we just dislike a system that is failing to help people integrate into American culture?

It seems to me that we often cloak our preference for our own culture and ethnicity, including language, behind concern for “America.” As believers, our identity is not in America, or black, or white, or rich, or poor. So it seems counter-Gospel to me that challenges to those distinctions should bother us. Our highest concern is the progress of the Gospel, not the language on our billboards. What I’m arguing is that helping people integrate into the American culture is a sub-Christian activity. Maybe that’s fine for political systems or social programs, but how does that fit into God’s plan for the Church? We need our Hispanic neighbors to become Christian, not American.

When it comes to global missionaries, we expect them to surrender English as their primary language, American food for their new culture’s, the kind of houses we have, etc. But for us to give up our claim to having “our” language predominant, or to fear our big houses “losing value” because certain ethnicities begin moving in, or to see our schools start to become integrated–that seems to run across the American Christian grain. However, since we are all missionaries (Matt. 10), shouldn’t we be just as quick to surrender our preferences, language, and surroundings? And if we are not willing, could it be because we value our own ethnicity or culture over the Gospel?

I realize there are complexities in how ethnicities relate to one another. But Scripture emphasizes a level playing field, one great similarity among us all: sin-sickness and Gospel need. We can undermine our Gospel efforts if our concern is maintaining ethnic or even American distinctions. The Kingdom demands our every effort. The nations have come to America and our valley, and as stewards we must be faithful to make disciples of them all. How can we effectively do that if we resent their language and impact on our society?
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Responses to "What about Christians and racism?"

Discussion continues from last Sunday's message, and I pray application does as well. Thought I'd share (with permission) one email I received, and would love to hear your thoughts, disagreements, or confusion over the message.

"I guess the conviction I have had since Sunday though is to ask myself...what is most profitable with regard to furthering the Gospel? Is my attitude with regard to language, welfare, culture, etc. getting in the way of me being a minister of the Gospel to what amounts to 50% of the people in Fresno County? I need to look deep within myself, ask God to reveal sin to me, whatever the source. What is getting in the way of me obeying God...fear, indifference, or racism? I need Gospel centered adjustments."
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

God, help! This land stuff is boring me!

by David Morris

I recently read through Joshua and, as is sadly often the case in the Old Testament, began to get bogged down. Joshua 1-12 was pretty exciting. There were plenty of battles, drama, intrigue and excitement. But then I hit chapters 14-21, and the going got a bit rougher.

Chapter after chapter, verse after verse dealt in excruciating detail with cities and borders and land allotments. The first 12 chapters had talked a lot about the land too, but in exciting war narratives of conquest and adventure. 14-21 reads more like an ancient surveyors guide, like a great big Platt book of places few know or really care about today.

Thankfully, then it hit me. I’d been reading through the Pentateuch before I got to Joshua, so I should have expected it all along. The Land was central to God’s promises and to everything He was doing with the Israelites. Those chapters about division of the land are the detailing of the gracious and faithful character of God. Every border that was established and tribe that got their allotment is a testament to a promise-keeping God. Nothing could prevent God from keeping His word about the Land.

What a privilege to see those promises worked out in detail, and to know we have the same Yahweh today. God will keep every promise He has ever made, and even a quick scan of our Bibles reveals He’s made a lot of them. These promises aren’t just for anyone, however. They’re for God’s people. We have no right in ourselves to claim the promises of God. We have access to all the great and precious promises of God because of our Christ. In Christ, all God’s promises are yes to us.

Christ has elevated us beyond the status of enemies or even lowly slaves. He’s made us sons and daughters, with all the entailing rights and privileges. The book of Joshua clearly reveals a promise-keeping God, and in Christ that God and His promises are ours.
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