At the very tail end of last year’s Elders Q&A we were asked about the morality of smoking pot should it become legal here in New Mexico.
As elders we might handle a question like this a number of ways. We handle it on the spot when we’re ready to be thoughtful enough on the question. We were all agreed as to our answer, but given that it was the last question of the night and given that it requires some careful handling, we said we’d follow-up with a post on the blog. We didn’t expect it would take us this long, but it’s been a full and fruitful year.
We’re glad now to give some attention to this important question.
First, I’ll mention some of the more helpful reads on the topic. For example, at The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter answers the question, “Is Recreational Marijuana Use a Sin?” Then, at Desiring God, John Piper addresses the issue in his article, “Don’t Let Your Mind Go to Pot.” Ed Welch has a nice piece written from the concern of a biblical counselor. Then, there’s a very important piece at The Heritage Foundation, “Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No.” That piece addresses a slightly different question than the one raised at the Q&A, but one we should consider, and the piece is built on a body of substantial research which shows what Marijuana does to the human body, to a human life, and to society, including especially the urban poor. Then, there are articles like, “Marijuana Is Harmful: Debunking 7 Myths Arguing It’s Fine,” based on a book by a similar title by Kevin Sabet, a former Senior Advisor in President Obama’s drug policy office. All of this is worthy reading for the person who wants a grasp on the matter from several angles.
In the course of all this research it seemed helpful to actually write something on the subject. So, over at Desiring God, you’ll find a piece titled, “Five Questions to Ask Before You Consume Cannabis.” Don’t think of this like a position paper from the elders, or an official statement like the “Statement on Gender, Marriage, and Sexuality” we released about a year ago. Do think of it as the Scriptural counsel we would provide to you in answer to the question, “Is it morally permissible for me to smoke pot?” Do think of it like the kind of reasoning and exhortation you might hear in a sermon where the topic is raised.
Here’s from the beginning and the end of the article.
Recent trends in the direction of the full-scale legalization of marijuana suggest that pot is undergoing a dramatic marketing makeover.
One cannabis branding firm put it this way: “There is a huge untapped market here. It’s about reaching nonconsumers: women, young people, business professionals, grandmothers and soccer moms.” Get ready: if it hasn’t already, your favorite show will probably feature marijuana in a way that makes it feel cool — whether in a joint, a pot-tart, a keefcat, or a pot-brownie.
This means that Christians will need to think more carefully about marijuana than most of us have until now. Not everyone will consume pot, but most everyone will be in a position to advise someone who is considering it.
So, brothers and sisters, don’t be intoxicated with popular culture’s messaging on this issue, and don’t seek the intoxicating artificial peace promised by chemicals like THC. But while life is hard and escapes are tempting, they are not the answer. Thankfully, Christ is our answer, and not only does he fill our hearts with himself but he forgives us for seeking life in the broken cisterns of chemically induced euphoric escapes.
Don’t get drunk with wine, and don’t intoxicate yourself with a plant. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, be sober minded, and stay alert for the coming of Christ — a euphoric experience in deed (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 1:13).
Read the whole thing here.
This is the second in a two-part interview with Tom Adams, DSC’s new Minister to Youth and Families. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Tom’s background, how he met Gina, and his love for students. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about the larger influences on Tom’s life, and some other random things as well.
You recently completed a Master’s of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity Seminary. What role did seminary play in your preparation for your new role at DSC?
Seminary played a vital role as it gave me the tools to do deeper Bible study and helped me to learn to be more gracious when I disagree with someone’s theological viewpoint. I thus strive to present the opposing view in its strongest form before I state the biblical reasons I do not hold to it myself.
What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?
I don’t have a favorite book, though I come back again and again to Genesis and Revelation, as they are the book-ends of redemptive history, and I find OT and NT narrative to be greatly moving and edifying.
What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. It gave me an abiding joy and reverent fear for God’s Holiness. Furthermore, I praise God that He is the perfect, just judge and look forward to when He will fully, rightly judge all evil, wickedness and injustice, until death itself is destroyed and sin is no more for all those in Christ.
Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?
The most influential sermon I have heard was from R.C. Sproul when Gina and I visited the church where he serves in Florida on our honeymoon. He was preaching on the birth of John the Baptist and the evening prior his daughter-in-law had gone to be with the Lord after battling cancer. It was both moving, and honest, yet he preached the word faithfully and with a Joy and peace that only comes from God. The Lord was magnified and praised in the midst of the family’s grief and I saw how even then his commitment to expository preaching stood firm, yet the situation was not ignored but God was honoured through it.
How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?
I greatly enjoy watching/playing football (England and Aston Villa in particular) as well as Cricket. I also like very much to watch classic 80’s movies from our youth with Gina. I love listening to and playing music, including alternative rock amongst other genres. I play rhythm electric guitar left-handed and enjoy learning music and singing/listening to great hymns as well as modern theologically correct and rich sung worship (such as Dustin Kensrue’s wonderful record ‘The Water & the Blood’).
Okay, now a few left fielders. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?
As a 14 year old on a Christian missionary camp in England I tried to retrieve the hat of a girl off another young man (who had playfully stole it from her) and so sprinted after him. Unfortunately, the entire camp (100+ youth) was walking down to the beach this particular evening and the dew had settled on the grass beside the country road we were walking down. Beside the road the grass went down a steep hillside for about 50 feet, so at full sprint I run around a group of girls who wouldn’t move out of the way though I called them to. As I did so my feet went onto the grass and suddenly I saw both my feet up in the air to my left and I proceeded to fall/roll down the steep hill gathering speed as I went until I arrived disheveled at the base covered in grass and dirt. At which point I looked up and the whole camp had stopped to enjoy a laugh at my expense. So yeah that was pretty dumb.
Any odd talents that we should know about up front?
I have a degree of hyper flexibility in my joints and hyper elasticity in my skin – don’t think that is a talent as such (other than at a freak-show I suppose), but there it is.
What’s your favorite animal, and why?
British Stag Beetle, because since a child I have been fascinated by insects and how God has made them to do such specific jobs in nature. This one is very rare (only lives as an adult in late summer), is endangered and I’ve never actually seen one in person.
Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?
Lobo – no idea.
Isotope – Whilst I am not a Chemist I think it is a different type of a Chemical element. Yet also here it is the name of your AAA Baseball team who are so named because of a Simpson’s episode, I believe.
Carne Adovada – I think this is a type of spicy (peppers?/Chilli?) beef.
And, for one last question, red or green?
The church is created and sustained by the Word of God.
There are a variety of ways in which we seek to grow in the Word together as a church. Sunday’s sermon is one way, and Community Groups are another. For the last few years, we’ve also offered a class on Sundays called, Equip. Beginning (or ending!) in August, this class will no longer be offered.
Equip, if you’re newer to the church, is a class we have offered on Sundays during the second service that met each week and rotated through books of the Bible and topics. There’s been some really great fruit from these classes, thanks to hard working and capable teachers. We’ve studied Joshua, Spiritual Disciplines, The Sermon on the Mount, Decision Making and God’s Will, and a variety of other subjects and Bible books. Click here to review notes from previous classes. Right now we’re working through 1 Timothy which concludes at the end of this month and will be our last class.
Equip has been good for our church, but for a variety of reasons we believe now is a good time to discontinue this ministry with plans to try something else later. This fall, we’re going to continue our other normally offered classes: the Parenting class and Baptism class, for example. Then, in the fall of 2017 we’ll try a different way of structuring both class and seminar learning, both on Sundays and outside of Sundays. Over the next year we’ll be preparing for that, so listen out for more specifics in the coming months.
In case this isn’t so obvious, it’s a healthy thing to discontinue a program. We are not wed to our methods. We’re wed to our Lord and to his Word. These are sacred. Our plans are not. Many thanks to all those who helped shepherd this ministry as it started and over the last few years.
Earlier this month, we were pleased to announce that Tom Adams accepted our offer to serve as DSC’s new Minister to Youth and Families.
Tom and Gina were able to move here with time to join Nathan with the students at camp this week. We’re so grateful for the Lord’s answer to our prayers for this kind of timing. Nathan and the rest of those planting Christ Church begin meeting in their core team phase in August.
In the midst of a very busy week in transition from Chicago to Albuquerque, Tom was kind to answer a number of questions for what will be a two-part blog interview.
Part 1, below, explores Tom’s family, marriage to Gina, ministry background, and hopes for his time at DSC. Part 2 will explore some of the influences that have shaped his life. Part 2 will also reveal whether Tom knows what a Lobo is or not.
Before the interview, though, here’s a shot of Tom and Gina they took on the plane as they headed our way only last week.
You’re not from Albuquerque, or even originally from the United States. Where are you from and why did you come to the states?
I come from near Birmingham city in England and I came to the US to attend seminary and learn the biblical languages so I could more faithfully preach God’s word.
Your father and brother are still in England. How are they doing?
My family are doing fine, thanks. My Dad and identical twin brother (whose name is Tim) are back at home in England and though my dad has some health problems and may need a heart operation in the near future, he is still sharing the gospel and ministering the word to many, many people and teaches English to immigrants two days a week. Tim is working for Youth For Christ and is a journalist/writer.
You met your wife, Gina, on a boat. Why were you two on a boat?
We both served as missionaries on the gospel ship called “Logos Hope” with 400 other crew from 50 different nationalities. The ship went round the world, stopping in ports (roughly every 2 weeks we’d move on) and doing gospel ministry with local churches. Gina served as one of the cooks onboard before then becoming a trainer who equipped us crew to share our salvation testimony, do gospel-centered children’s programs, etc. Whereas I joined the ship as a teacher of the four teenage missionary kids onboard, I taught them Science, English, History, Physical Ed, Design and Tech.
We had a chance to meet Gina during your visit with us in May. She’s a marvelous lady. Tell us a funny story from the early stages of your relationship.
When Gina and I were allowed (on the ship one had to wait for 12 months before getting to know someone of the opposite gender better and to be able to spend time talking about marriage) we would sometimes watch a movie/tv show on a portable DVD player in my classroom on the top deck. After a few months of getting to know one another, in the middle of watching a film, with her eyes fixed on the screen, she wiped her mouth and then wiped her hand on my arm. I could scarcely believe this had just happened, and when I said, “What was that?” and explained what she’d just done, she had no recollection of it and proceeded to laugh hysterically for about 20 minutes.
How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?
Gina complements me well by the fact that she helps me to be less blunt, and be more gracious as I interact with people. She helps me by being a fantastic organizer who finds joy in organizing. She also encourages me to be creative and play music, and to rest when I need to but don’t want to. Added to all this she encourages me to trust the Lord and not fret, she affirms my gifts and encourages me to use them whilst giving me the constructive criticism that I need. Most importantly she strengthens me by her faith in the Lord and how she willingly sits under my teaching in our family and submits to my leading of us, even as we walk together through the issues of life. She is simply a joyful person, who is this way because of what Jesus has done and thus is a joy to be married to.
You’ve worked with students in a variety of contexts over the years. Tell us about about how.
I have worked for a number of years with young people as a leader on a missionary camp in the UK and have at the same time always been involved as a lay leader in youth groups in various congregations where I led bible study, street evangelism and even once led sung worship with a band made up entirely of young people from our youth group. Professionally, I then became a high school Science teacher in the public school system in the UK where I taught young people aged from 11-18 years old. I am a biologist (my degree is in designing materials to be used in implants like hip replacements so the implant would be accepted by the human body) but I also taught Chemistry and Physics. I have taught young people the bible, led evangelism seminars, and with Gina led a talk on biblical marriage in different churches whilst at seminary. Lastly, I once taught for a weekend at a youth conference for a number of Chinese Churches on the Wrath of God.
How did you first find out about DSC?
Whilst we were seeking God’s will for a job since graduating, Gina kept a spreadsheet and searched The Gospel Coalition job list and came across DSC. After reading the job description and looking at the church’s website she was so excited she phoned me straight away from her work, and told me I should apply immediately. So I did just that.
You are coming to DSC as a Minister to Youth and Families. During your interview weekend, there was a real sense of unity among the elders and you on the importance of the church’s ministry to youth and to families. How did you arrive at this approach to youth ministry?
I came to this approach due to my understanding that scripture teaches that leaders in the church are to equip the saints for gospel ministry (Ephesians 4), and also specifically due to the influence and example of my parents who led a youth group at our church, did many VBS weeks (we call them “holiday clubs”) and both worked with young people from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds in many different contexts. They loved them, saw them as young people in need of a Saviour and cared for them as they shared the gospel and also then equipped them to minister to others once they had been born-again. My mom (who went to be with the Lord January this year) and dad saw God use their gospel witness to bring parents of our schoolmates to repentance and faith in Jesus, as well as many young people who came to faith in Christ. Indeed these people are still walking closely with the Lord today. They both saw their youth work as reaching young people with the gospel as well as their parents, and spent their spare time equipping and encouraging young people and their parents to be in God’s word continually and to live for God’s glory due to God’s overwhelming Grace to us in Christ Jesus.
What are you most looking forward to about serving DSC’s youth?
I am most looking forward to looking at and going through books of the Bible verse by verse together and thus delighting in the whole counsel of God.
Check back later for Part 2 of our interview with Tom.
In Sunday’s sermon, “Wandering,” Ryan showed us how James writes to warn his readers about wandering from the faith. This isn’t always the word that James uses, but a careful read of James’ letter will turn up this warning time and a gain.
Ryan took us through fifteen occasions when James shows us where and how Christians can go astray.
Here they are:
- Trials (1:2-12)
- Temptations (1:13-16)
- Being hearers of the word but not doers (1:22-25)
- Empty religion (1:26-27)
- Partiality (2:1-13)
- Faith without works is dead (2:14-26)
- The tongue (3:3-12)
- Worldly wisdom (3:13-18)
- Covetousness and quarrels (4:1-12)
- Judging brothers and sisters sinfully (4:11-12)
- Presumptuous plans (4:13-17)
- Rich oppressors are addressed and rebuked (5:1-6)
- Those oppressed and suffering (5:1-11)
- Oaths (5:12)
- Sickness and sin (5:13-16)
With the fullness of James’ multi-dimensional warning in mind, consider again his closing words in James 5:19–20, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
There are a number of milestones in the course of planting a church. Announcing plans to plant is one. The public launch is another. Between those two milestones is another big one: the establishment of the core team.
The following core team members initially expressed interest around January, following the Christ Church info meeting. From there, through a series of meetings, prayer, and discussion among DSC’s elders, the following core team was established.
Each of these people have known for a while, but we are thrilled now to share with everyone else the names of those who are going out. Here they are:
Ben and Jenna Balman
Nando and Isabel Betancur
Michael and Stephanie Bestwaros
Mark and Stephanie Bieniarz
Jason and Dani Brown
Jeremy and Naomi Brown
JR and Feven Bucklew
Adam and Charis Church
Walter and Jody Dehority
Leonard and Astraea Duran
Tim and Angela Englemann
David and Rita Gatt
Ryan and Lesley Gilmore
Mike and Sydney Graczyk
JJ and Danielle Johnson
Kyle and Jessika Junick
Z and Mary Hall
Eric and Shannon Layer
Randy and Eva McElroy
Clint and Joanna Moore
Tim and Cara Ray
Raybeau and Annie Richardson
Matt and Anne Ryals
Chris and Britt Sanchez
Nathan and Marcie Sherman
Marc and Cara Sowers
Kyle and Michelle Stevens
Quinn and Morgan Wingerd
While the public launch of Christ Church is not until November, the core team phase begins in August. This means that these brothers and sisters will begin meeting as a church, and not with Desert Springs Church, starting one month from now.
With that in mind, be sure to offer those you know a hug and a meal as a way of sending them off. No one is moving out of town, of course. But we will miss one another in real ways, and your kind words and hospitality will be a way of sending them in a manner worthy of God.
On April 17 we had the joy of witnessing the baptism of fourteen brothers and sisters between our two Sunday services. In case you missed one or both of the services, here are the video testimonies from those who were baptized.
As we listen to these testimonies, mediate on Paul’s words to baptized Christians in Romans 6:3-4: “. . . all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
9:00 AM Service
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10:45 AM Service
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For more videos like these, click here for DSC’s YouTube Baptism playlist.