Indelible Grace Church

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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Letter from Andrew Ong

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Dear Indelible Grace Church,

Grace and peace to you.  I thank God that He has blessed me with a church that I can call my own "home church" when I’m back in the Bay Area.  Thank you for taking me in as more than just "that summer intern," but as a brother, a friend, and a partner in the gospel ministry.  Joining the fellowship of the IGC community has refreshed and revitalized my soul over these past 3 months in more ways than you know.

It was an absolute joy and pleasure to serve and worship with all of you.  Thank you also for serving me as well with all the kind words of affirmation, the sweet and thoughtful community group send off, and the incredibly generous, undeserved, and unexpected financial support.  I looked forward to coming home this summer to be a blessing to IGC, but had no idea how much more I would be blessed by the whole church community.  Serving and worshiping at IGC was never an unwanted burden, but always such a delight to me and made me all the more excited to become a pastor.

Thank you also for being such a gospel-saturated community.  Maybe I’m just emo, but never have I been brought to tears on a weekly basis as I came to sing God’s praises with His people.  It was such a beautiful thing to praise Him corporately within a community that was so keenly aware of the love of God poured out for sinners and demonstrated at the cross of Christ.  Not only was Sunday worship a blessing, but so also were the community group meetings, which I eagerly anticipated every week.  Sharing with one another, praying for one another, serving each other, and even joking with each other was such a blessing and refreshment to me as I often get very lonely in Philly.  I already can’t wait to come back and join you all!

Lastly, I wanted to thank Pastor Michael, Wade, Harry, and Sammy for leading our church with such underappreciated and unnoticed love, diligence, and wisdom.  You guys are truly blessed to be led by such men who love Christ and His gospel, and are working harder than you know to make sure that our church is continually moving in the direction of Christ’s likeness.  Witnessing their tireless efforts towards tedious administration, teaching preparation, and compassionately caring for members of the church has shown me what ministry is like in all of its ugliness, and yet has lifted my eyes to see that only Christ is the perfect leader of the church.  Thankfully the Good Shepherd works through His imperfect under-shepherds for the good of His bride, the church, and I got to witness that firsthand here at IGC, this summer.

Again, thank you for taking me into your fellowship, and I can’t wait to come back!

Love,
Andrew Ong

P.S. - Please take good care of my special friend while I’m gone! :)

Andrew is currently a third-year student at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 09:56
 

2013 Men's Retreat

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This blog post was written by Pastor Wade.

More than twenty men of IGC participated in our first Men's Retreat earlier this month.  It was a good two days for the brothers to connect, with some coming from as far away as Sacramento and Los Angeles to attend.  Some of the attendees met each other for the first time and all were able to spend quality time with their brothers.  Three things from the weekend stuck out to me:

(1) The call to manhood.  Our speaker, Pastor Jeff Bruce, shared with us what it means to be a true man.  The biblical definition of a man is vastly different from that of popular culture.  Contrary to the the message of manhood that is pushed on us today, we were reminded that men are to be initiators, servants, self-controlled, selfless, learners, disciplined and godly.  However, it was more than mere advice for being a man.  We were pointed to Jesus Christ as the only person who has ever truly fulfilled the role of a man.  And it's because he fulfilled the role that we've failed at that we can pursue manhood as God intended.

(2) Building friendships.  The attendees had a good amount of time to get to know each other.  Board games, card games and group games were played. Conversations were had over burgers, Mediterranean food, cups of coffee and bowls of kimchi-ramen.  And discussions were had in the small group times as we talked about manhood.

(3) Learning from each other.  There was a discussion panel consisting of four men who shared their experiences in pursuit of manhood.  These brothers shared their wisdom about marriage, singleness, careers, transitions and trusting God.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 August 2013 16:26
 

2013 Women's Retreat

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This blog post was written by Ashley Kim.

This past weekend, the ladies of IGC embarked on our first ever Women's Retreat!  After stuffing ourselves at Sweet Tomatoes on Friday night, we trekked over to Larkspur Landing Hotel in Pleasanton, CA where we “roughed it” in air-conditioned suites, encountered thoughtful sweets on our plush pillows, slept on queen-sized fluffy beds, and looked out our windows at the sweltering sun.

Yes, the retreat may not have been at the typical, rugged campground setting, but the weekend was filled with great conversation, plenty of laughs, the beautiful sound of sisters singing during worship, and the essential retreat kimchi noodle bowl.

Pastor Dave Lee gave two great messages from Genesis focusing on God’s restoring grace and constant love for Abraham despite his lapses in judgment and trust.  These messages were great reminders of God’s sovereignty and devotion to us during both times of famine and plenty, as well as a realization of how often we hold too closely to our material possessions and grasp control over our life situations.  It was such a blessing to process these messages with each other and to share our struggles and praises during our small group discussions.

We capped off the retreat with fun icebreaker questions, a hilarious round of charades, shaved ice at Snowflake, and a delicious meal at Amakara (yes, we did dessert before dinner!).   In the end, despite the short duration of the retreat, we were so thankful to have this opportunity to spend time with fellow sisters away from our busy schedules.  We’ll be praying for the brothers’ retreat and we look forward to growing more in our relationships with each other and glorifying God!

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 August 2013 16:31
 

Social Justice in the Old Testament

"The LORD executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing."  Deuteronomy 10:18

It's interesting that the passage above speaks about engagement with the poor as a matter, not simply of mercy, but of justice and equity.  Why?  Because the world, as God intended it, was not supposed to have wide disparities of wealth.  We can see this in the very structure of the civil laws of Israel.

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For example:

(1) Land was evenly distributed in Israel. Numbers 26:52-56
(2) Land ownership could never be permanently transferred or lost. Leviticus 25:23-28
(3) Every 50 years, the original equitable distribution of land was restored. Leviticus 25:8-17
(4) Every seven years, the entire produce of the land was for the poor. Exodus 23:10-11
(5) Each year, a portion of the harvest was set aside for the poor. Leviticus 19:9-10
(6) When the poor needed a loan, it was to be given interest-free. Exodus 22:25-27
(7) Every seven years, the debts of the poor were cancelled. Deuteronomy 15:1-2
(8) The tithe was to support the poor. Deuteronomy 14:28-29

It’s easy to gloss over how radical these laws were.  There was no such thing as private property (since all the land belonged to God and everyone was only stewards of the land).  No one could accumulate vast amounts of wealth since land could never be permanently bought and sold.   No family would ever suffer permanent destitution since all debts were to be forgiven and all land holdings would eventually be returned.

Moreover, the requirements to share with the poor are breathtaking.  We often think of only the tithe (10% of earnings) being for the poor.  But if you also take into account the various gleaning laws, debt-forgiveness laws, etc., the actual percentage that was to be shared with the poor was probably closer to 20% of earnings.  This is the society God intended, and Israel, as the people of God, was to be a unique community of social justice – so that the Bible can boldly proclaim, "there will be no poor among you; if only you will obey and do all that I command." Deuteronomy 15:4-5

But tragically, Israel failed to obey and one of the major themes of the prophets is a scathing indictment of Israel's neglect for the poor.  As we turn to the New Testament, what’s fascinating about the gospel is that Jesus rescues us by reenacting the very compassion to the poor commanded in the Old Testament – while he was infinitely wealthy and we were spiritually destitute, on the cross, he impoverished himself for our enrichment. 2 Corinthians 8:9  And now, as the redeemed people of God, we are to reenact this gospel love through social justice as the early church did – "they had everything in common and there was not a needy person among them." Acts 4:32-35  Notice the deliberate echo of Deuteronomy 15:4, cited above.  This is the hope of the gospel.

(We covered this topic in Sunday school, which you can listen to here.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 July 2013 12:59
 

Christian Marriage

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On the radio program, This American Life (you can click to hear the actual story), there is an amusing tale of a woman who in a moment of romantic despair, decided to write her name “Esther” on a dollar bill with the idea that if some guy should give it back to her, it would be a cosmic sign that he was the one she was destined to marry.  A few weeks afterwards it actually happened.  She was dating a guy, Paul Grachan, who by the most remarkable coincidence, happened to find Esther’s dollar while receiving change at a deli and, not knowing the story behind it, thought it would be fun to present it to Esther in a frame.

Years later, they were married.  And the dollar has been the source of much commitment and strength in the relationship.  As Esther explained it, whenever she and Paul experienced difficulties, whereas she might have ordinarily just broken up with him, she would go into her room, take out the framed dollar, and remind herself, “how can I break up with him if he’s the one who gave me this dollar?  How can I walk out on my cosmic soul-mate?”

There is something so very charming about this story.  We can all relate to Esther wanting certainty about who to marry.  But that certainty does not come from some cosmic sign but it comes from a promise – the marriage vow.   How do I know this person is the one God intended for me to marry?  In truth, we don’t know until we’ve made the promise on our wedding day.  And from that day forward, we know this is the one we’re supposed to be with.  So that whenever we experience marriage difficulties (and they will happen), whenever we encounter someone else who seems more intriguing, whenever the love feelings ebb and flow, we can go back to the promise and remind ourselves, “how can I leave him if he’s the one I’ve promised myself to?”  Marriage is ultimately not based on romantic feelings or situational happiness.  Marriage is based on a covenant – a life-long promise to be faithful and true.

You can listen to the two-part Sunday school series on Marriage this blog post is based on here.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 09:44
 


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