Archive for August, 2012

Aug 29

What to Think About During the Lord’s Supper

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Lord's Supper

Every last Wednesday of the month, we share in the Lord’s Supper together as a church. Here is a reflection from J.I. Packer on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper for our communion with God, our assurance, and our fellowship with one another.

I don’t think we can ever say too much about the importance of an active exercise of mind and heart at the communion service. . . .

Holy Communion demands us of private preparation of heart before the Lord before we come to the table. We need to prepare ourselves for fellowship with Jesus Christ the Lord, who meets us in this ceremony. We should think of him both as the host of the communion table and as enthroned on the true Mount Zion referred to in Hebrews 12, the city of the living God where the glorified saints and the angels are.

The Lord from his throne catches us up by his Spirit and brings us into fellowship with himself there in glory. He certainly comes down to meet us here, but he then catches us up into fellowship with him and the great host of others who are eternally worshipping him there.

We are also to learn the divinely intended discipline of drawing assurance from the sacrament. We should be saying in our hearts, ‘as sure as I see and touch and taste this bread and this wine, so sure it is that Jesus Christ is not a fancy but a fact, that he is for real, and that he offers himself to be my Saviour, my Bread of Life, and my Guide to glory. He has left me this rite, this gesture, this token, this ritual action as a guarantee of this grace; He instituted it, and it is a sign of life-giving union with him, and I’m taking part in it, and thus I know that I am his and he is mine forever.’ That is the assurance that we should be drawing from our sharing in the Lord’s Supper every time we come to the table.

And then we must realize something of our togetherness in Christ with the rest of the congregation. . . . [We should reject the] strange perverse idea . . . that the Lord’s Supper is a flight of the alone to the Alone: it is my communion I come to make, not our communion in which I come to share. You can’t imagine a more radical denial of the Gospel than that.

The communion table must bring to us a deeper realization of our fellowship together. If I go into a church for a communion service where not too many folk are present, to me it is a matter of conscience to sit beside someone. This togetherness is part of what is involved in sharing in eucharistic worship in a way that edifies.

—J. I. Packer, “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper,” in Serving the People of God, vol. 2 of Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1998), 49-50.

We meet for this month’s Lord’s Supper service tonight at 6:30 PM. If your schedule has hindered you from joining us for our Wednesday Lord’s Supper services, next month we will share in the Lord’s Supper together in both services on Sunday morning, September 30.

HT: Justin Taylor

Aug 23

Programs, Busyness, and Faking God’s Work in the Church

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

Have you ever said to yourself, “Our church should have a program for that!”? Or maybe, “Our church has too many programs!”

Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us an important command: “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This command and others like it mean that we should make plans to be together. Yet programs aren’t ministry, and there are good reasons to guard against over-programming.

In this video from The Gospel Coalition Blog, Ryan Kelly interviews Ray Ortlund and Darrin Patrick about the dangers of over-programming in the church.

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Aug 16

Community Groups, Fall ’12: What Did You Expect?

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Community

This fall, our Community Groups are going through a study called, What Did You Expect: Fighting Sin and It’s Effects on Relationships.

Now, if you’ve hung around DSC long enough, you probably recognize the title of that study. That’s because it is based on a book by Paul Tripp, titled, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

If you’ve read this or heard someone talk about it, you’ll know that it’s not just a book about marriage. It’s really a book about God, our relationships, our sin, and the gospel – all applied to marriage, that one relationship where these things converge in force. But the same heart machinery that is involved in the trouble and glory of our marriages is the same machinery that is at play in any and all of our relationships.

That’s why our Community Group studies will be based on Paul Tripp’s material throughout the fall season.

Here’s a video introduction to Paul Tripp’s book, What Did You Expect?:

[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]

If you aren’t in a Community Group yet, there are a few ways to get plugged in. You can ask a friend at DSC if they’d welcome you to join theirs. The answer is, yes! You can express interest through the Communication Card on Sunday morning. Or, you can email with your interest. Visit the Community Group page to learn more about Community Groups and about this fall’s study.

Aug 15

When God Withdraws the Sense of His Presence

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link,Recommended Resources

If you’ve been around DSC for a while now, you may have heard Ryan address the subject of depression. Of course, there are different kinds of depression, but one often neglected kind of sadness for Christians comes from what could be called, spiritual desertion.

Last week, John Starke posted audio to an interview with Ryan about this subject over at The Gospel Coalition Blog. Here’s the introduction with a link to the interview:

We regularly pray personally and corporately for God to increase the sense of his presence among his people. But what happens when it feels like God has withdrawn his presence? What introspective questions should we ask? What prayers should we pray?

Ryan Kelly, pastor of preaching at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Council member for The Gospel Coalition, talks with Mark Mellinger about the doctrine of desertion. He describes how this doctrine helps us make sense of the psalms and our experience of spiritual dryness. Kelly reflects on a scary time in his life and directs us to Puritan writing on this topic, since so few modern writers address desertion directly.

Click here to download Ryan’s interview with Mark Mellinger.

If the subject of depression and spiritual desertion is of interest to you, you may find several links helpful. This past spring, Ryan preached two sermons on depression from Psalm 42 and 43, “How to Really Talk to Yourself,” and, “Unpacking Depression: Why Are You Downcast?.” In follow up to these sermons, we posted two blogs, including links to books, articles, and other resources helpful for understanding this subject: “Resources for Depression and Spiritual Desertion,” and, “Why Are You Downcast, O My Soul?” Unpacking Depression.”

Then, back in 2006, Ryan conducted a Saturday Seminar on depression that explored the Bible’s teaching on how we should understand and address depression as Christians.

Aug 9

Interview with Dr. Greg Schneeberger, Ph.D.

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

Greg Schneeberger needs no introduction on this blog. Maybe in a few years, but not yet. Just one month ago, Greg finished up six faithful years as our Minister to Youth and Families and moved his dear family to Encinitas, California, where he is serving as a church planting intern.

As some of you know, within the past year, Greg wrapped up a Ph.D.. Greg was kind to take some time out to answer some questions for us about his main writing project for his doctorate.

Greg, thanks for doing this interview for DSC. Of course, we were sad to say goodbye to you about a month ago now. You served faithfully here and we rejoice in your new station in ministry in California. This past year you wrapped up a Ph.D. and we haven’t officially congratulated you here on the blog. So, congratulations! We’d like to hear a bit about what your doctoral dissertation entailed. But first, since you are somewhat famous for unpacking new words and unpacking familiar words in a new way, tell us, what is a dissertation?

Ha. Good question, Trent. According to that most highly regarded academic source, Wikipedia, a dissertation (or thesis) “is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings.”

That’s a solid start. A dissertation is an extended academic work on a very specific topic within a person’s field of study. It’s argument normally presumes to add to the existing body of research in a field. That is, the goal of a dissertation is to make an original contribution to scholarship in some way and persuade the reader (as objectively as possible) concerning the merits of the argument.

What was the topic of your dissertation and how did you arrive at that topic? 

The subject of my dissertation pertains to the overlap of Philosophy, Theology, and the socio-cultural context of 21st century religiosity among American youth and young adults. Basically, I’m exploring various contemporary religious trajectories among generation Y, exposing their philosophical assumptions, and trying to respond from a biblical worldview. It was easy to arrive at this subject, since it was an extension of my work with youth, young adults, and young married folks at Desert Springs. I was very eager to do doctoral work that was not only academic but practical for my ministry as well.

What was your specific thesis, and how did your argument unfold? 

Specifically, that 21st century American youth are deeply entrenched in unbiblical philosophical worldviews. The church must enumerate, analyze, and respond apologetically to these. It does so with a biblical (dare I say reformed) philosophical theology in theory and practice. The practical aspect consists of the church defending the faith, and creating structures which engage and confront the idols of the age. Desert Springs is doing just this, as the church does in every age, through worship, community, and mission.

What was your favorite section to write, and why?

I enjoyed each section in it’s own way, but the more philosophical/apologetical sections were most fun. I suppose this was the case because they were the most challenging and stimulating to me as a writer and thinker.

What was your least favorite section to write, and why?

The literature review . . . for obvious reasons! A dissertation is a like a marathon. It is not a sprint. Certain parts are “fun,” but many parts are just necessary evils. However, it is the totality of running and finishing the race that helps mold the thinker. For example, when I first began writing I asked forbearers for advice. One friend told me, quite bluntly, that I should expect to re-write nearly every word of the 1st draft. He was correct. I spent far more time on re-writing than I did on the original manuscript. That was humbling, as my advisor, although he was encouraging, continually pointed me to sections that needed work.

A writing project like this is a tremendous feat. How has God used this challenge to shape you as a Christian and as a minister? 

Indeed, this project has done just that. I wanted to pursue a degree that would challenge me spiritually and not just academically. Focusing on this area of study allowed that. I got to read as much Bible as I did postmodern philosophers or reformed apologists. I think God used the project to help me understand perseverance, hard work, goal setting, and the value of thinking critically about the culture and it’s deep philosophical structures for local church ministry. Certainly I wouldn’t go into any of the technical aspects with youth or young adults, but the issues I was uncovering fit perfectly with their needs. Thus, through this project, I was better prepared to preach God’s Word, and live out the body life of the church.

Now, let’s talk stats. How long have you been working on this degree, how many pages was your doctoral dissertation, and on a scale of 1-10 how happy are you that it is finished?

Nine chapters including the intro and conclusion, around 450 pages, and an eleven that’s it’s done! Of course, now that it’s done, there are already things I would go back and change, update, and nuance. But we’re human, research progresses, and you have to pull the trigger. All in all, I do think I accomplished my personal and academic goals. I’m glad I had the opportunity to think and write in this way and only pray that it serves to strengthen my future ministry in the church.

Thanks, Greg – and, again, congratulations!

You can learn more about Greg and Caite’s new adventure at their family blog.