Archive for December, 2010
In December’s e-Newsletter, Ryan published an article explaining DSC’s symbol. In case you missed it, we’re republishing it here on the blog. If you don’t receive the e-Newsletter but would like to, sign up using the Communication Card on Sunday’s bulletin or email email@example.com and indicate your interest. DSC’s e-Newsletter is published each month and sent to your email inbox.
Around the DSC facilities and in printed materials you’ve seen this symbol which represents something about our church’s name, its message, and its mission.
The word picture of springs in the desert is a rich one in Scripture. Three places in Isaiah (35:6-10; 43:19-21; 44:3-5) tell us that we’re a desperate, thirsty, and restless people because of the fall. But these passages also promise a day when life-giving springs will flow in the desert. Then there will be the quench and satisfaction for which we’ve longed and searched. Well, Jesus makes clear that that longed for day has come. He is that “living water” (see John 4 and John 7). He is both salvation and satisfaction.
That’s briefly why we’re called Desert Springs Church. And that word picture is also symbolized in a new-ish logo which you’ve seen on our bulletins, website, and, more recently, on our signage.
There are few things to notice about this symbol:
- The downward drop reminds us that Christ came down to us—we could not get to him. We were born not only thirsty, but senseless. We’ve tried broken cistern after broken cistern, but they hold no water (see Jer. 2). Our only hope is that the living water would come to us. And it did. He did!
- Our salvation and satisfaction comes to us only by the cross. From the cross he said “I thirst” and he died. By so doing, he made a way that we would drink and live.
- The concentric circles are like the ripples or rings that occur when a drop of water hits a watery surface. There is reverberation; it grows; the effects spread. That reminds us that the message of Christ’s saving satisfaction which flows from the cross has to spread in this world. And his plan is that it would spread through us.
In Sunday’s sermon, “Jesus: God Dwells,” Ryan surveyed the storyline of the Bible tracing the theme of God’s presence with his people. The great thing about the garden was that God was with his people. The terrible thing about life outside the garden is that we’re separated from Him. But, as Paul writes, “in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
As a preparation for the coming of Christ, God gave to his people concrete experiences in order to teach them of their standing before Him and what was required for their restoration to His presence. One of these was a temple. When Israel was settled in the land, God gave instruction to build him a house, a temple where He could meet with his people (1 Chronicles 22).
In his book, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, T.D. Alexander explains an important feature of the temple Israel built after returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile:
Although there are clear statements about God’s glory filling the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and the Solomonic temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; cf. 2 Chronicles 7:1-2), no similar event is described in the biblical literature concerning the temple built after the exile.
…the “Second Temple lacked five things which the First Temple possessed, namely, the fire, the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the oil of anointing and the Holy Spirit [of prophecy]” (quote from R.T Beckwith, “The Temple Restored” in Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology). The absence of these ‘visible tokens’ of God’s presence indicates that the Holy of Holies was empty.
So, we should see a connection here when John writes of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). The word he uses for “dwelt” is really, “tabernacled.” And in John 2:18-22, Jesus even refers to himself as the temple of God. The coming of God’s Son into the world fulfills what the tabernacle and temple anticipated both in the revelation of God’s presence in the First Temple and in the absence of His Presence in the Second Temple.
God had a gracious purpose in mind in everything he instructed Israel to do and in every experience that Israel had as a people. And his gracious purpose in not revealing his presence in the Second Temple was to prepare them for the coming of His presence through Christ.
This sermon was second in the Christmas series, “Someone’s Coming”:
On Sunday morning, December 21, 1856, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon to prepare his growing church for the coming Christmas season. He titled it “Going Home,” and the aim of the message was to encourage each member of his congregation to humbly, wisely, and appropriately find opportunities to share their personal testimony with family and friends.
Spurgeon had become the pastor of New Park Street Church in April 1854. At that time the church had 232 members. By Christmas of 1856 the membership had risen quickly to around 4,000. A large number of newly converted Christians needed to be prepared for their return home for Christmas.
Spurgeon’s sermon text was taken from the dramatic account of Jesus healing the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5:1–20. Spurgeon focused his attention on Jesus’s commission to the man after he was healed: “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (v. 19).
After explaining the demoniac’s radical life-transformation by Christ and his commission to go home, Spurgeon commissioned his church to return home. In the remainder of the sermon Spurgeon develops several practical points:
- Christmas is suited for sharing the gospel with family and friends.
- Aim to share the story of God’s grace in your life.
- By sharing we edify believers.
- By sharing we reach lost friends and family.
- Be alert for one-on-one opportunities to share your story.
- Don’t expect this sharing to be easy.
- Overcome this fear by sharing to honor your Savior.
- Share your story with gratitude to God.
- Share your story with humility.
- Share your story truthfully—don’t embellish it.
- Tell your story seriously—don’t share it flippantly.
- Don’t neglect your personal devotions during Christmas.
- Rest upon the Holy Spirit’s help to share.
- Remember that this story you share over the holidays is the story that will be on your lips eternally.
In Sunday’s sermon, “Someone’s Coming,” Ryan surveyed the story of the entire Old Testament, stringing together the narrative by looking for the resolution to God’s promise in Genesis 3:15, when God promised that one of Eve’s sons would crush the head of the serpent. This is why Mary, when she pondered the life insider her womb, rejoiced, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46).
There were a lot of details, names, and promises in Ryan’s sermon. So, in case you weren’t able to jot them down, here’s a list of the promises he mentioned, with the possible “someones” he mentioned along the way:
1) Promise: In Genesis 3:15, God promises a son of Eve who will crush Satan and sin
- Is it Cain?
- Is it Noah?
2) Promise: In Genesis 12, 15, and 17, God makes a promise to Abraham, that his offspring would be many, that he would inherit a great land, and that his offspring would eventually bless the whole world.
- Is it Abraham?
- Is it Isaac?
- Is it Esau?
- Is it Jacob?
- Is it Joseph?
3) Promise: Genesis 49:10 promises a Lion-like ruler from Judah whom the people will obey.
- Is it Moses?
4) Promise: Deuteronomy 18:18-19 promises a prophet like Moses.
- Is it Joshua?
- How about Judges?
5) Promise: In 1 Samuel 2:35 God promises to raise up “a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My
heart and in My soul” and promises to “build him an enduring house…”
- Is it Samuel?
- Is it Saul?
- Is it David?
6) Promise: In 2 Samuel 7, God makes a promise to David, “your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
- Is it Solomon?
7) Promise: Various texts indicate that God himself will be the promised one who comes to save his people.
- Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
- Isaiah 9:6-7 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
- Ezek 34:11 – For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep … I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them … I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest… I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick;
- Ezek 34:23 – Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.
Then, after 400 years of silence, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatian 4:4, 5). And that woman, who was Mary, learned of what the Lord was doing in her own womb, and “treasured up all these things, [and pondered] them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Mary knew the Scriptures and knew that the great Someone of the Old Testament had come.
I want to give you an update on finances, but can we talk about life first?
“Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven … for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)
This reminds me of a sermon by John Piper in 2000, in which he cited a Reader’s Digestarticle about a couple who retired in Florida. In the article the husband only talked about three things: his softball team for seniors, sailing along the coast in his yacht, and seashell collecting. Piper’s comment was, “When this guy gets to heaven, what does he think he will present to God? Look God, my seashell collection?”
Piper contrasted this with a lady, Ruby Eliason. Ruby was almost eighty years old, single, a medical doctor serving the poor in Cameroon, Africa, sent out from Piper’s church. In Piper’s words, her goal was, “to make Jesus known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick.” The brakes on her SUV failed one day and Ruby went over a cliff to her immediate death. What struck Piper was that someone in his church referred to this as a tragedy.
Earlier that same year Piper had read the Reader’s Digest article about the couple in Florida. Piper’s conclusion: come to the end of our life–our one and only life–and it’s all about seashells and a couple other hobbies? Now that’s a tragedy! Ruby’s life … and even death? That is not a tragedy. That is God being glorified.
Someone once said that our giving, whether it be talent, time, or treasure, should be (1) for God’s glory; (2) for others’ good; and (3) for our joy. In short, everybody wins. But this starts with number 1 on the list–God’s glory.
If we put our joy first, we might be tempted to over-invest our time, efforts, and money into our own version of seashells!
With this in mind I’d like to take a minute or two to update you on finances at DSC, as well as remind you of our focus on church planting.
The Tale of The Bulletin
As you’ll notice from the bulletins, through the months of October and November (we started our new fiscal year October 1) we continue to be a little behind. What we do as staff when that happens is fairly simple: we cut back in non-essential areas. Simply put, our goal is to keep expenditures within the monthly giving.
As you know, our country continues to be in an economic downturn that started around 2008. Unemployment continues to be high, and we see the effects of this in our church when people are either unemployed (who were employed a year or two ago), or are in business for themselves and have seen their business drop over 50% in the past two years.
Our response to a congregation that is not able to give quite as much has been to cut over $200,000 of the budget in the past two years. And most of you know that, as a last resort, we laid off two full-time employees in March 2010.
Hunker Down? Just Say No
Presently, with our budget cuts in place, we’re not discussing further cutbacks. And actually the opposite is, as you know, true: the Lord is leading us to plant churches.
How can you help us move toward being active, even pro-active, in this area of spreading the gospel, and not withdraw into a hunker-down, let’s just pay our bills mentality?
Here is a question to consider: Have you taken a recent look at your giving to DSC?
One dynamic here from an administrator’s point of view: It helps a lot to have regular giving, and regular giving spread out evenly over the year. For instance, if it were a choice of one $12.00 check in December, or twelve $1.00 checks each month, I’d take the latter every time. A second dynamic: Please consider setting up your giving using our online service. This saves you the time of writing checks. Also, if you’re like me and can be forgetful at times, it prevents this from happening: “Oh I forgot to make the check out last month, I guess I better do twice the amount this month” (or sometimes you don’t even notice that you forgot last month).
If you would like to change your giving to online giving, click here or fill out a form at the Information Center to have your giving automatically deducted from a bank account.
1 of the 150: Sounds Like a Line from an Ancient Battle!
Here is one more question to consider: Have you considered signing up for the 1 of 150?
That is, those who have signed up have committed to giving an extra dollar a day in 2011 solely for the purpose of church planting. Please keep in mind that if you participate in this, this cannot be just re-allocating your giving. If the past couple years you’ve given $12.00 a year to DSC, it doesn’t help to have you simply say, “OK now we’ll give $10.00 to DSC in general, and $2.00 for church planting.”
Why $1.00 per day? That is just a starting point that we can all understand easily and grab hold of. It’s helpful when trying to tackle a big project to break it up into bite-sized portions so that we can all make sacrifices together and produce, by God’s provision and grace, a huge impact in the world for His glory. Also, keep in mind that this commitment includes prayerfully considering an increase to $2.00 per day in 2012, $3.00 per day in 2013, and so on.
Why $2,500,000 over 10 years? This budget includes establishing four or more families over the next 10 years as global staff at DSC, and sending them to plant churches, Lord willing, in North Africa, among the unreached Muslims there, and sustaining their ministry as long as it takes to establish healthy, indigenously led, sustainable, and reproducing churches. It also includes sending out Carlos and Lauren Griego to plant a church in Rio Rancho in 2012 as well as raising up other church planters to go out after them in years to come.
If just twenty people responded to this email and contacted Clint at clint[at]desertspringschurch[dot]org, our missions director, and said, “Add my name to this list of 150,” that would be a big help in reaching this goal.
I don’t know that there’s ever an opportune time to work on planning and rearranging finances.
So if not now, when? If not here (DSC regular giving, and church planting as extra giving), where? I know the answer for my wife and me, in response to the “when?” and “where?” is a clear “now” and “church.” In fact it’s been so, so exhilarating seeing the changes here at DSC. Musical worship is branching out in new areas, community groups are growing (in numbers and intentionality), and we’re more focused as a church on what the mission is and how we carry it out. And our strengths over the past seven or eight years–preaching and teaching, missions, and children’s ministries–have only deepened.
The thought of Matthew 6:21 is this, “Where your treasure is, your heart follows.” So where is our treasure? Let’s take time, today, and visualize this. Do our thoughts, work, and yes, money, get funneled towards seashells? Stuff that will one day end up in a landfill?
Or, like Ruby and the people that sent her, is our treasure in heaven? In relationships. In that part of Christ that we have a literal and tangible interaction with, His body, the church. In the gospel. In all people groups coming to worship Jesus. In the opposite of a landfill: eternity and our future home, heaven!
Grace and peace,
On Saturday, August 7, over 300 men gathered at Desert Springs Church for a men’s conference, The Man: A Call to Fight for Biblical Manhood. Dave Bruskas, this year’s conference speaker, preached to this group of men from three churches, including Mars Hill Church, Desert Springs Church, and Trinity at the Marketplace.
The audio for this conference is now available for download and includes two panel discussions and three talks with Dave:
- Session 1, Dave Bruskas: “The Man and His Lord“
- Session 2, Dave Bruskas: “The Man and His Woman“
- Panel Discussion 1: Tim Bradley, Dave Bruskas, Daniel Schuman
- Session 3, Dave Bruskas: “The Man and His Church“
- Panel Discussion 2: Dave Bruskas, Ryan Kelly, Michael Kelshaw
In a sentence, Dave’s purpose was to show “everything it means to be a Biblical man has to do with the preeminence of Jesus.” In his third talk, Dave gave three word pictures to describe how men often treat the church:
- Some people treat the church like a waitress. If a waitress brings us enough good stuff, you might even give her a tip.
- Some people treat the church like maid. For instance, let’s say you’re on vacation, and you might think it’s okay for the kids to eat gooey chocolate in bed and leave towels on the floor and the kitchen a mess. You’d never do that stuff at home. This kind of person thinks it’s up to the church to clean up his mess. He’s strictly a “taker.” It’s okay to come to church broken, but it is not okay to stay broken. It’s okay to come deep in sin, but it’s not okay to stay deep in sin.
- Some people treat the church like a porn star. That is, they treat the church like a virtual relationship. If a man has a relationship with an electronic image, he doesn’t have to pay for her dinner, raise kids with her, work through conflict and differences, etc. Some men want to stream a sermon podcast from a church across the country without investing anything in a church in town.
Jesus didn’t show up out of nowhere. Luke 24 records the story of Jesus’ interaction with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus where “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (24:27). And when he did this, the text says, their hearts “burn[ed]” within them (24:32). And so we have much to look forward to in December.
December Sermon Series
Starting this Sunday, Ryan will show us the greatness and the glory of the promised One, Jesus Christ, in a four part series that will culminate on the Sunday following Christmas. Here are the titles and times, so you know what’s ahead:
Sunday, December 12 (9:00 & 10:45 AM): “Someone’s Coming”
Sunday, December 19 (9:00 & 10:45 AM): “Jesus: God Dwells”
Friday, December 24 (4:00 & 6:00 PM): “Jesus: God Redeems”
Sunday, December 26 (9:00 & 10:45 AM): “Jesus: God Reigns”
While we’re on the subject of December and Christmas and Christ, two more things:
Christmas Resources at the Resource Center
In addition to this sermon series, DSC has a number of resources available at the Resource Center to help you see Christ clearly and spread Christ broadly during this month. Cause for Praise CDs are available for pick-up (if you pre-ordered) or purchase for $10. All DSC sermon CDs are 50% off, including past Clarus conferences and special speakers. The Resource Center has also been stocked with a number of books about Christ for adults and children for purchase as gifts. To listen to past Christmas season sermons, visit the Christmas section of the Messages portion of this site.
Remember to Invite Friends to one of DSC’s December Services
For those who don’t know Christ, Scripture says that they are “[without] hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). As those who have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ, we are privileged messengers of the news that Christ has come, and that through Christ God dwells, God redeems, and God reigns. Remember the appropriateness of the season for inviting friends, family and neighbors to church, and let’s be especially hospitable on Sunday mornings knowing that we are joined by visitors who may be hearing the gospel or hearing the gospel savingly for the very first time. And let’s pray faithfully that many would come to know Christ, not only as the baby that he surely was, but as the risen and reigning King that he is.