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Archive for November, 2010


Nov 25

Sermon Follow-Up: “The Guts and Glory of Ministry”

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s message, “The Guts and Glory of Ministry,” Ryan preached from Colossians 1:24-2:5 to show us God’s purpose in the ministry of the apostle Paul, who rejoiced in his sufferings “for the sake of [Christ’s] body.” Paul had a decidedly word-centered ministry focused on the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, and suffering was always a means to more of the same. He was busy planting churches and spreading the gospel, but this section of Colossians shows us just how tirelessly Paul labored to strengthen the church in the gospel. Paul toiled and struggled in order to “make the word of God more fully known” to God’s people, to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:25, 28-29).

Paul’s commitment to strengthen the people of God reminds us that the church’s growth in maturity and number are not separate concerns with separate means. The gospel is extended into the world as the church is strengthened in the gospel by the word.

To make this point, Ryan quoted John Piper from his sermon, “The Role of the Pastor in World Missions,” who expressed well the mingling of these aims:

What then should a pastor do to promote a passion among his people to see God glorified by the in-gathering of his sheep from the thousands of unreached people groups around the world?

My answer: above everything else, be the kind of person and the kind of preacher whose theme and passion is the majesty of God. No church will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause of Christ if they do not feel the magnificence of Christ himself. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others, near or far, into the joy of our worship where there is no passionate joy in worship.

The most important thing I think pastors can do to arouse and sustain a passion for world evangelization is week in and week out to help their people see the crags and peaks and icy cliffs and snowcapped heights of God’s majestic character.

I mean that we should labor in our preaching to clear the mists and fog away from the sharp contours of the character of God. We should let him be seen in his majesty and sovereignty.

…the majestic character of God needs to be seen week in and week out not in the context of casualness and triviality and Sunday morning slapstick, but in the context of exaltation and awe and solemnity and earnestness and intensity.

How will our people ever come to feel in their bones the awful magnitude of what is at stake in the eternal destiny of the unevangelized, if our homiletical maxim is to start with a joke and keep the people entertained with anecdotes along the way. How will the people ever come to know and feel the crags and peaks and snowcapped heights of God’s glory if our preaching and worship services are more like picnics in the valley than thunder on the ice face of Mt. Everest?

It’s Thanksgiving day, and there are many things for which to be thankful. As the people of God, our greatest cause for thanksgiving is this very vision of God in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).  That’s why Paul could give this imperative following immediately after Sunday’s text: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6).

So, let us abound in thanksgiving for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the ministry of those whom God uses to teach us each week, who toil and struggle for our maturity in Christ, who make the word of God more fully knowing in and through the body at Desert Springs Church.

Nov 20

Spreading Christ’s Glory through The Christmas Store

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Mission

Each year DSC puts together several gift stores and provides parents the opportunity to select gifts for their children (in some cases, children select gifts for their parents) who would normally be unable to celebrate Christmas with gifts. By partnering with local churches in areas of greater need, DSC is able to extend and support the work of the gospel in the broader Albuquerque area.

There are several ways to share the love of Christ through The Christmas Store:

  1. Because we have over 3,500 tags, please take several of them and spend between $1.00 – $10.00 for each item specified on the tag, rather than one item worth over $20.00. Bring the items back unwrapped with the tags attached by December 5 and deposit them in the appropriate box in the foyer.
  2. Sign up in the foyer to help in one of the Christmas Stores. There is still room on three different trips: Saturday, December 11, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, Navajo Reservation (Steamboat); Monday, December 13, 3:00 – 8:00 PM, Juntos; Friday, December 17, 3:00 – 8:00 PM, East Central Ministries. Invite a friend, family member, coworker, or neighbor to join you in service to the community as an opportunity to share the gospel with them.
  3. Make a donation to purchase gifts by indicating “The Christmas Store” on your check and envelope. For more information, visit the kiosk in the foyer or contact Carolyn Rush at carolyn@desertspringschurch.org.

Nov 18

Making DSC Safe for Sad People

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

As Christians, we look forward with great hope to a day when suffering will no more, but we look forward to that day through the experience of suffering in this life, even great suffering.

In Romans 8:18, Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That doesn’t mean that the sufferings of this present time are no big deal, but that they will be eclipsed and made nothing one day when our redemption is complete. One day God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Until then, we live with the tears and pain that come with this age.

Collin Hanson recently interviewed Nancy Guthrie at The Gospel Coalition Blog in a post entitled, “Sad People, Safe Churches.” Of course, Nancy Guthrie was our speaker last week at DSC’s Women’s Conference (check back soon for audio from the conference). In the following two questions, Nancy addresses some of the practical needs of those who are hurting.

What’s the most helpful thing we can do for a fellow church member struggling through grief?

Grieving people have four primary needs that the church has a key role in addressing:

  1. They have intense sadness that is lonely and lingering that needs to be respected.
  2. They have significant questions that need to be addressed in light of Scripture.
  3. They have broken relationships that need to be healed and normalized.
  4. They have a deep desire to discover some meaning and purpose in their loss.

While we make room for people to be sad, we want to walk with people in expectation that God will indeed do a work of healing in their lives so that they do not stay stuck in their sadness, but emerge from it strengthened in their confidence in God, deepened in their understanding of the Scriptures, and equipped to serve others.

What are some common errors we make when trying to help someone going through a difficult time?

On a practical level, we say, “Just call me if I can help.” The truth is, when you’re going through a family crisis or grief, you don’t really want to have to keep asking for help or organize all of the help you need. To have someone assume the responsibility for organizing meals and other practical help is a great gift. Even better is the person figures out what is needed and simply says, “I’m coming over Wednesday morning to do your laundry.”

Sometimes we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing to someone who is hurting so we say nothing, adding to his or her hurt by ignoring it. Or we’re afraid that “bringing it up” will make the person sad, not realizing that our “bringing it up” actually allows that person to release some of the sadness they are already feeling.

On a spiritual level, I often hear Christian leaders or counselors say to the person who is grieving something like, “It’s okay to be angry with God. He can handle it.” I know they are trying to encourage authenticity before God and with other people, and that is worthwhile. But a church that is a safe place for sad people brings the truth to bear on the untruths and misunderstandings that serve as grounds for anger toward God rather than giving permission to hold on to or simply vent that anger.

Perhaps another mistake we make is assuming that people have grasped the sovereignty of God that has been preached from the pulpit. Often it is not until believers’ lives are shaken by circumstances or sorrow that they are finally ready to delve into deeper theological truths. As they are struggling to put together their understanding of a loving God with the God who allowed the accident or the illness, we have to be ready to talk through the implications of God’s sovereignty in very real terms. And usually it is not one conversation that settles this, but must be a series of conversations, giving time for these deep truths to settle in.

So, of all the places on this earth, the church should be a place for sad people suffering loss, because we are a people who can be honest with the reality of loss in this life. After all, we have a Savior who lived and suffered a thoroughly human life (Hebrews 5:15). Go here to read the whole article, here for Ryan’s recent sermon from Hebrews 5:15, “A Sympathetic Savior,” and here for a list of Nancy’s books.

Nov 16

Sermon Follow-up: “How God Reconciles All Things”

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon, “How God Reconciles All Things,” Ryan preached from Colossians 1:19-23 to clarify the nature of Christ’s work of reconciliation. At the beginning of his sermon, Ryan brought our attention to two apparent dilemmas in this text which require clarification.

One of those dilemmas has to do with the evidence of reconciliation in the believer. Verses 22 and 23 say that we have been reconciled if indeed we “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” The question follows, Can a Christian truly walk away from the faith? Can a Christian loose their salvation?

This passage is not unlike numerous other warnings throughout the Bible. Hebrews 3:14, for example, says that “we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” But how does this fit with Jesus’ words in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand”? Are we not, “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)?

Into this tension, 1 John 2:19 is a helpful interpretive key. In his short letter about about assurance  John writes about those who leave the faith: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” That is to say, saving faith is not “plain” until that faith perseveres in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, who is the object of true saving faith. Still, the Holy Spirit did not write these things throughout our Bibles in order to cause believers to doubt our salvation, but in order that we might examine ourselves. John, for example, states his purpose in writing this way: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” So, we do not persevere in order to stay in God’s grace. We persevere in order to give evidence of the eternal life that we now possess by God’s grace.

For further study, consider the following resources from Desiring God:

In addition, Tom Schreiner has two helpful lectures on The Pastoral Function of The Warnings in Scripture, and a short book, Run to Win the Prize, which summarizes the Bible’s teaching on perseverance.

Nov 12

Welcome to DSC, Nancy Guthrie!

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Events

We’re pleased to welcome Nancy Guthrie to DSC for our annual Women’s Conference taking place today and tomorrow. This year’s theme, Holding On to Hope, is taken from her important book by that title. Nancy is speaking from the book of Job to explore the meaning and significance of suffering for the Christian. She speaks as one who has experienced great loss, and will help all of us to better understand what Job meant when he said, “The Lord gave, and the Lordhas taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Nancy has worked in the Christian publishing industry for over two decades and is the author of seven books including several important books on the subject of suffering. In, Holding On to Hope, Nancy retells her story of losing a son and a daughter to a metabolic disorder through the lens of the book of Job. Two other books are worth noting as well. Be Still My Soul is a collection of writings from faithful theologians and pastors on the subject of suffering – its causes and how we can know God better in our suffering. In Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, Nancy explores ten things Jesus said to hurting people for own comfort in suffering. We recommend visiting her site for a list of her other books and additional resources.

And, of course, you can purchase any of these books tonight and tomorrow at the conference.

Conference Schedule:

Friday, November 12
6:30 PM  Doors Open
7:00 PM  Session 1
Followed by Dessert and Coffee

Saturday, November 13
8:00 AM  Continental Breakfast
8:45 AM  Session 2
10:20 AM  Q&A
11:15 AM  Box Lunch
1:00 PM  Session 3
2:00 PM  Farewell

Tickets are available at the door for $25.00.