Archive for February, 2012

Feb 29

Biblical Church Leadership, Sheep, and the Blood of Christ

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12

Mark Dever, pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church, has published a fine little book, A Display of God’s Glory: The Basics of Church Structure, which unfolds the Bible’s teaching on how the church should be organized and led. Dever also founded 9Marks Ministries, a ministry devoted to helping churches pursue biblical priorities and so reflect the glory of Christ.

9Marks Ministries has published numerous books to this end. A new book by Thabiti Anyabwile, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, will be our third free book for those who attend Clarus (Book 1, Book 2). Anyabwile helps churches reflect the saving wonder of the cross in the selection of biblically qualified leaders who faithfully shepherd God’s blood-bought flock.

Do you like the smell of sheep?

I don’t mean the smell of lamb chops roasting in the oven. And by “Sheep” I don’t mean the imaginary animals conjured and counted by insomniacs. I mean the living, bleating, woolly animals roaming in green pastures. . . .[On a visit to Scotland] I learned that it is not really the snell of sheep that need concern you. It is what sheep indiscriminately drop around the pasture tha tposes the greater threat!@ With vistas as breathtaking as those in the Scottish highlands, the sheep-herding nvice has a tough time keeping his eyes down to watch his step. But you should. Sheep are messy and shepherds need either good work bookts or careful footing!

Repeatedly the Bible describes Christians as sheep. It is not a flattering description. But it is an accurate one. Christians are messy people. Our lives are filled with brokenness, waste, trouble, and sticky situations. We are timid, and we sometimes wander. . . .This is why we need shepherds, men who know what to do with sheep, how to care for us, lead us, and navigate our mess.

And here’s the really good news: in the Bible God reveals himself as our Shepherd. . . .[And], as a gift to his flock, the Chief Shepherd appoints godly men as under-shepherds to tend the flock that he purchased with his blood (Acts 20:28). We know these under-shepherds by various titles used interchangeably, including: pastors, overseers, bishops, and elders. Like the Chief Shepherd, elders or pastors watch over the flock entrusted to their care (1 Pet. 5:1-3) by leading, feeding, and protecting the sheep.

Visit the 9Marks website for more helpful reading on the subject of biblical leadership and church life, and look forward to conference discounts on numerous 9Marks titles in the Clarus Books and Resources Room.

Clarus is a Regional Conference of The Gospel Coalition taking place March 9-11 with speakers D.A. Carson and Fred G. Zaspel. Visit the Clarus page for more information or to register for this year’s conference.

Feb 28

Jonah, A Big Fish, and The Gospel

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12

When we think of the book of Jonah, we don’t usually think of the gospel. Actually, our first thought is usually a thought about Jonah getting swallowed by a fish, and our second thought is about Jonah getting spit out by a fish. Of course, though, the story of Jonah and the fish is really a story of God’s relentless pursuit of sinners.

Last week we posted a blog with quotes from our first free book for those who attend Clarus. Our second book giveaway, compliments of Christian Focus Publishing, is a book about Jonah by Collin Smith, Jonah: Navigating the God Centered Life.

Here’s the book description and an endorsement by Clarus speaker, D.A. Carson:

Facing an assignment equivalent to being sent to warn notorious terrorists of God’s anger with them, perhaps it was no wonder that Jonah ran away – certainly portrayed in Scripture as no “super saint”, he avoided God and His call on his life. Yet God turned the situation around as pagan sailors encountered the living God who made the land and sea and the entire population of a city realised that although they deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth, there was a God of compassion and mercy who forgave them. God’s mercy is greater than our failures and through adverse circumstances and pain, a character of Christ-like compassion is chiselled out.

“Here is a pastor reading the book of Jonah and finding a preacher who wants settled ministry, not challenges; who wants to see his enemies crushed, not converted; who longs for God’s grace in his own life, but not in the lives of others; who knows how to speak God’s words with faithfulness, but who wants to see only the component of judgment worked out in reality; a preacher who is angry and who wants God to be angry too; a man who wallows in self-pity and hates it when God exposes that self-pity for the idolatrous arrogance it is. It is not difficult to see the relevance of such portraits in our own day. And what does it say of God, that he keeps working away at Jonah as he keeps working away at the Ninevites?”

– D. A. Carson

Clarus is a Regional Conference of The Gospel Coalition taking place March 9-11 with speakers D.A. Carson and Fred G. Zaspel. Visit the Clarus page for more information or to register for this year’s conference.

Feb 27

Getting to Know Fred G. Zaspel, Clarus ’12

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12

This is the second of two posts introducing this year’s Clarus speakers. Read about Dr. Carson here.

Like Dr. Carson, this is not Dr. Zaspel’s first time to DSC.

In 2010, Dr. Zaspel  joined us for a weekend to speak on, Romans 9 and the wonder of God’s sovereignty in salvation and in suffering. This past July, Dr. Zaspel joined us for a Parenting Seminar weekend, “The Word on Parenting,” in which he addressed three critical aspects of Christian parenting: Parenting with a Goal, Saving our Children, Directing and Disciplining our Children. These are all memorable and helpful messages.

But even if you weren’t with us for these seminars, you’ve still felt the reach of Dr. Zaspel’s shepherding love for God’s people, a he is one of Ryan’s closest friends in the ministry. In Ryan’s own words, “he’s really been a long-distance Paul to this Timothy.” Over a dozen years or so, Ryan and Dr. Zaspel have shared hundreds of emails and hours of conversation about the decisions and struggles of life and ministry.

Here’s a short biography on Dr. Zaspel with links to his various writings:

Dr. Zaspel (Ph.D., The Free University of Amsterdam) is a pastor on staff at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA and is the interim Senior Pastor at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on New York’s Long Island. He is an instructor in Bible and theology at To Every Tribe missions, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA.

His recent book, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary is the fruit of his Ph.D. dissertation and has received high acclaim. Another work on this important American theologian will soon be published: Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel. He also co-authored (with Tom Wells) New Covenant Theology. Hundreds of Fred’s sermons, articles, and booklets are online at He is also a regular contributor to Credo Magazine.

Dr. Zaspel and his wife, Kimberly, were married in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio and have two children. In his spare time, Dr. Zaspel enjoys motorcycles, playing guitar, and boating.

Clarus is a Regional Conference of The Gospel Coalition taking place March 9-11 with speakers D.A. Carson and Fred G. Zaspel. Visit the Clarus page for more information or to register for this year’s conference.

Feb 22

Two Visits to DSC by Peacemaker Ministries

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12,Events

If you’ve known conflict in any relationship and you believe the Bible, Peacemaker Ministries is a ministry worth knowing about. Ken Sande, the organization’s founder, has written several helpful books, including, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, Peacemaking for Families, and The Peacemaker, Student Edition: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away. These have become first go-to books for conflict resolution in the world of Christian publishing. In addition to publishing, Peacemaker Ministries helps churches mediate conflict and settle disputes that might otherwise go to the courts.

Peacemaker Ministries also has a number of fine conference speakers that speak around the country. Two of them will be with us in the next several weeks.

Women’s Seminar: “Fear Not: Finding God’s Comfort For My Fearful Soul,” February 25

Tara Barthel, author of Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict, will speak at the Women’s Seminar this Saturday at DSC, hosted by The Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Rio Rancho. The event is $25 and will go from 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM.

Tara Klena Barthel formerly worked as an attorney and director at Peacemaker Ministries. Currently, Tara serves her family as a homemaker while regularly mediating and teaching on biblical peacemaking. To learn more about her speaking and conciliating services, friend her on Facebook or visit her blog at

Here’s a description of the topic of this seminar:

Peace and rest are great concepts in the abstract—biblical, Christ-centered, even pleasant and healthy. But if we are honest, most Christian women do not experience much peace in their day-to-day lives. What hope is there for us to find true comfort in the midst of our worries? Join us and see how common your fears are—you are not alone! Be encouraged by biblical and practical ways to experience God’s rest even in the busyness of your life.

Visit the Women’s Seminar page to learn more about this conference and how to register.

Clarus Saturday Special Session: “Resolving Everyday Conflict,” March 10

Rick Friesen will be with us for a special Saturday afternoon session at Clarus, from 1:30 – 3:00 PM.

Rick serves Peacemaker Ministries as Director of Ministry Relations. He works with non-profit and denominational leaders around the country, assisting them in developing a culture of peace within their respective areas. He also does consulting and assists individuals and churches in conflict. Rick is passionate about helping people live out the gospel in their everyday lives and learn to treat others as God treats them.

Here’s a description of this session:

Are you weary of the conflicts and “difficult people” in your life? Every day is filled with conflict because ours is a fallen world. But through Christ, God has made peace with us and He’s making a people who know how to make peace. In this session, we will learn how to apply the Bible’s teaching to the challenges of everyday situations and so reflect the glory of our redemptive God. 

Visit the Clarus page for more information or to register for this year’s conference.


Feb 21

Reading the Bible to Pray

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon from Psalm 40, “The Building Blocks of Prayer,” Ron encouraged us to read the Bible through and to do so with a view to prayer.

He suggested we keep a notepad handy to write down word pictures for God, for salvation, and for us. The Psalms, of course, are rich with these. Psalm 40:2, for example, speaks of salvation in this way: “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock.” Collecting imagery like this as we read the Bible can provide a great help in prayer.

Ahead of January 1, we posted two blogs (here and here) with suggestions for Bible reading plans in 2012. But, of course, January 1 isn’t the only time to start reading the Bible. Here are a few Bible reading plans, any of which you can adapt for starting later in the year. The first plan, however, is specifically date neutral, so if you are starting now, that may be the best way to go. Also, being in the Bible regularly and even daily is important, but there’s no rule that says you have to read the Bible through in a year. So, perhaps one of these resources would be helpful simply for keeping track of where you are at at whatever pace you plan to read.

  • Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, George Guthrie:
    This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework and includes a reading plan. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, “Read the Bible for Life,” available in Pdf form here.
  • The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. The M’Cheyne plan takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
  • Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a Pdf form to print out as a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily.
  • Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.

For encouragement in prayer, consider listening to several messages by Jerram Barrs from Prizing the Privilege of Prayer weekend, 2009.

For encouragement in grasping the importance of the Word in your life, consider listening to Ryan’s sermon on Psalm 1, “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life…” delivered at the front of our current series, Pour Out Your Heart to Him: A Study Through The Psalms.