Archive for November, 2010
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
- They have intense sadness that is lonely and lingering that needs to be respected.
- They have significant questions that need to be addressed in light of Scripture.
- They have broken relationships that need to be healed and normalized.
- 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.
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:
- Is Your Doctrine of Perseverance a Contradiction?
- The Full Assurance of Hope
- The Full Assurance of Hope to the End
- God Abides in the One Who Loves and the One Who Confesses
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.
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.
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.
Over the last two months we’ve sprinkled the blog with videos from Ryan Kelly’s question and answer session with Randy Alcorn and Wayne Grudem from Clarus 2010. Below are links to the videos under the major headings we used for our recent Clarus 2010 Q&A blog series.
Questions about Creating Money
- How does the doctrine of depravity fit with an optimistic view of human productivity?
- Are we responsible for the potential use of what we create?
- How should the Christian think about marketing?
- How did previous generations speak about the nobility of work? How do we instruct the coming generation?
Questions about Spending Money
- Do Christians have a responsibility to avoid certain businesses?
- How should Christians spend money on entertainment and leisure?
Questions about Giving Money
- Where can we go to learn about radical sacrificial love? How much should Christians give?
- How should Christians speak with one another about giving habits?
Questions about Investing Money
- How should Christians think about investing? Can money management become a distraction?
- How can young people plan for the future?
- What is the nature of heavenly treasures and rewards?
Questions about Slavery, Poverty, and Evangelicalism
- Does the Bible implicitly endorse slavery?
- Randy, What are your thoughts about Wayne’s lecture on the economics of poverty?
- What is encouraging and concerning in American evangelicalism?
- What do you think about Boyd’s, The Myth of a Christian Nation?
Questions about Gender Issues, Dividing Issues, and Parenting
- What has been the effect of your writing on Gender issues?
- What issues should Christians divide over?
- What would you say to young families about parenting?
- What is your typical day like?
As the body of Christ, we mean to be with one another at various times and in various ways to do the kinds of things that “make the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). But how and when to get connected is not necessarily intuitive. If a family of two has a central calendar and rhythms of communication, how much more important is clear and purposeful communication for the family of God.
What follows is a list of the various channels and contexts for connecting with the body at DSC. Some of these are less obvious than others. For example, the Calendar Card, Prayer Force email, E-Newsletter, and Facebook Page are useful but not as obvious as the Sunday Bulletin or the DSC Website.
Connecting on Sunday:
- The Sunday Bulletin communicates the church’s vision, a welcome to visitors, the current week’s schedule, and critical information about upcoming ministry opportunities.
- The Communication Card attached to the bulletin gives you an opportunity to communicate your need for prayer or an interest in getting involved.
- The Calendar Card helps you plan your month and year around important DSC dates, including Lord’s Suppers, membership classes, conferences, retreats, camps, Saturday Seminars, and mission trips.
- The Kiosks and Information Center located in the foyer are primary ways to learn about and express interest in the various ministries at DSC.
- The DSC Directory is available for $5 at the Information Center and helps us connect with one another throughout the week and pray for one another by name.
- The Newcomers Reception is hosted on the last Sunday of each month in the West Wing as an opportunity for newcomers to connect with DSC’s leadership and learn more about the church.
Connecting on the Web:
- The DSC Website is our online home for ministry information, announcements, sermon audio, online giving, recommended web links, and books.
- The DSC Blog includes follow-up posts to Sunday sermons, ministry spotlights, videos from our annual Clarus conference, quotes, etc.
- Sign up for the Prayer Force Email list by emailing email@example.com to submit prayer requests and subscribe to the prayer email.
- Sign up for the E-Newsletter through the bulletin Communication Card to receive a monthly summary of what’s happening at DSC.
- DSC’s Facebook Page and Twitter Feed stream DSC announcements and links.
- Of course, Email is always a good way to connect with staff and leaders and these are available on DSC’s website. Email the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Knowing Christ, Knowing the Church (KCKC) is DSC’s membership class offered three times annually. Sign up for KCKC at the Information Center on Sunday mornings or by emailing email@example.com.
- Community Groups meet weekly in homes throughout the Albuquerque area and are DSC’s main vehicle for discipleship at DSC outside of our Sunday worship services.
- Lord’s Supper gatherings take place at 6:30 PM on the last Wednesday of every month. At 5:30 PM the youth ministry hosts a church-wide meal in the youth room.
- Leadership Seminars are offered twice a year for those interested in serving in leadership roles throughout DSC.
- Women’s Bible Studies meet for thirteen week sessions in the Fall, Spring and Summer to Study and encourage one another in the Word.
- Men’s Huddles meet on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings at 6 AM to study Scripture and pray.
- Paradox Student Ministry is a ministry for students 6-12th grade and their parents every Wednesday night in the youth room, and Sunday mornings during the second service.