Archive for November, 2011
In Sunday’s sermon, “God’s Words–Better than Gold,” Ryan unpacked the second half of Psalm 19, which is something like a love song about God’s Word. God’s Word, says David, is perfect, sure, right, pure, and clean. It revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, endures forever. It’s better than much fine gold and sweeter than honey. All of this is true because it is true of the One who gave it to us. The Bible is the “Word of the Lord.”
If the Bible is true and it really is the Word of God, then what it says about itself must be true. It also does what it says it does. The Bible is, as Ryan said on Sunday, self-authenticating. It proves itself true. C.H. Spurgeon put it this way: “Scripture is like a caged lion. I defend the truthfulness of the Bible the same that I would defend a caged lion. I don’t need to defend the lion to prove to others that he is a lion. I simply need to let the lion out of his cage.”
If you’re interested in learning more about what the Bible is and how the Bible works, there are several resources worth checking out. First, a few years ago Ryan conducted a four part Saturday Seminar, The Reliability of the Bible, and the audio is available online.
Additionally, there are now two books at the Resource Center at a super cheap price that are worth picking up:
- Reverberation: How God’s Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People, Jonathan Leeman
- One-to-One Bible Study: A Simple Guide for Every Christian, David Helm
Finally, if you missed Clarus this past April, the theme of the conference was, Scripture: God Speaks. In the course of his talks, G.K. Beale mentioned three things that discourage us from reading our Bibles: 1) Media immersion, 2) Busyness, and 3) Expecting the sensational. These conference talks are full of helpful reflections like this. Here are links to the talks from this year’s conference:
- “The Effects of Meditating on God’s Word,” G.K. Beale
- “The Prophetic Word: What Preaching Is and Is Not,” Carl Trueman
- “How to Guard the Good Deposit of Scripture,” G.K. Beale
- “Scripture’s Authority: An Ancient Doctrine,” Carl Trueman
- “The Centrality of Scripture in Marriage,” G.K. Beale
- “A Clear and Present Word: Luther and the Clarity of Scripture,” Carl Trueman
- “Receiving and Resounding God’s Word,” G.K. Beale
- “Like Sheep without a Shepherd,” Carl Trueman
The Law of the Lord is perfect, and it is perfect because the Lord is perfect. Therefore, it is good for us to make a big deal out of it, to read it, to hear it, to memorize it, and to speak it. It’s also right for us to respond as David did with the kind of prayer David prayed: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Thankfulness is a deeply Christian thing.
We have come to terms with what we deserve: we deserve the just wrath of God. And yet we have come to know this God in a saving way. We deserve death, but we know eternal life. We deserve the curse, but we have every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
And while there is suffering in this life – even very great suffering – we can say with the apostle Paul, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). We can ask the best rhetorical question ever, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). And we can be sure of the boldest promise, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
All of those words are true. We have everything we need if we have the love of Christ, and the Christian life is one of growing in the deep conviction that these precious promises are true (2 Peter 1:3-4).
So what shall we give to God for all of this?
There are many answers to that question. Thankfulness is certainly one of them. Here, the book of Psalms gives us some helpful language for our prayers: “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? . . .I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:12, 17).
As those who belong to Christ, we can pray this prayer, for we have known the the benefits of the Lord.
Ryan touched on this subject in two sermons he preached a little over a year ago at the start of his series through the book of Colossians. In, “Thank God for Gospel Growth,” and “Our Prayers, God’s Priorities,” Ryan preached from Colossians 1:3-8 and 1:9-14, helping us grasp some of the reasons for thankfulness and the importance of thankfulness in the Christian life.
In Sunday’s sermon, “A Picture Worth a Thousand Words,” Ryan unpacked the first six verses of Psalm 19 for us. As Ryan said, Psalm 19 as a whole reflects on God’s communication through both “stars and Scripture,” or, “world and Word.” In verses 1-6, David reflects on that first way that God talks: through what He has made. The opening line is a nice summary for the section: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” In other words, “everything God made declares the glory of God.”
To be sure, creation isn’t all we need. As we will find out next week, God has also spoken specially and specifically with words, and we need those words to know Him, and not because His speech in creation is deficient, but because we’re deficient to receive it as we ought.
As those who have received the Word, who have traded the glory of creation back for the glory of the Creator, we can actually glory in God more fully for a right enjoyment of what He has made. And so we should.
Two resources can help us to this end. First, Old Testament scholar, Mark Futato, has written a helpful reflection on and exposition of the significance of creation, in, Creation: A Witness to the Wonder of God.
Clearly this poet wants us to see and to feel that when the sun pours forth speech about the glory of God, the message is that the glory of God is an overwhelmingly happy thing. Why else would he say it is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber? The point here is not merely that the bridegroom is decked out in the ﬁnest clothes and surrounded by his noble groomsmen. The point is that this is the happiest day of his life. This is the fulﬁllment of dreams. This is the beginning of a whole new kind of joy. That’s what the glory of God is like. That’s the message we should hear when we see the sun rise with lavish red and gold and lavender in the eastern sky. God’s glory is a happy thing—like the happiness of a bridegroom on his wedding day. (190)
The joy poured forth by the sun is the same joy emitted by every good physical thing in this world. Piper sums this up well in his conclusion: “Joy in God is not the same as joy in sex or a sizzling steak or deep ravines or powerful music. But God’s will is that all these—and every part of his good creation—declare the glory of God. All the world, and even the imperfect representations of it in human art, is a witness to the glory of God. That glory is the ultimate ground of all human gladness. Therefore, the created world is a holy weapon in the ﬁght for joy” (206).
As Christians, we have a high view of the goodness of the physical world, because we believe that it was made to reflect and direct us to the One who made it. And as Ryan reminded us on Sunday, where things are not right in this present order, we are reminded that the world itself is “groaning” with us for the day when Christ will make all things new (Romans 8:18-8:23; Revelation 21-22).
In Sunday’s sermon, “The Lord is My Rock,” Ryan showed from Psalm 18 that God’s care, protection, and victory can be rightly seen from two perspectives – one heavenly, the other earthly.
From verses 7-17 David reflected on the heavenly perspective of God’s rescuing work in his life. God cracked open the heavens and came down (9a), the earth reeled and rocked (7), smoke went out from God’s nostrils (8), thick darkness came (9b), God rode on a cherub, on the wings of the wind (10), He thundered (13), He sent hail and coals of fire (13b), He sent lightning like arrows (14), and He exposed the foundations of the earth with a mere breath (15b).
But David didn’t actually see any of that. He believed it all, but his experience of God’s saving goodness was known from an earthly vantage point. In verses 31-49, David reflects on God’s rescue by thinking about what happened to his feet, his hands, and his arms: “He made my feet like the feet of a deer. . .He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (33, 34).
Behind the scenes God is working out His purposes in the world, and even the smallest parts of our lives have their place.
As we reflect on David’s account of God’s saving goodness, we can ponder the divine design of specific moments in our lives leading to salvation in Christ, specific people, and specific difficulties. And we can see God’s saving and sovereign goodness throughout the entirety of our Christian lives, as He works everything together for good for those who love Him, and conforms us into the image of Christ. He loves us, provides for us, and makes us like Christ through the most seemingly mundane things.
So what are some ways in which God has “invisibly” helped, orchestrated, and strengthened you (like vss 7-17), but behind the scenes you know all along it was God cracking the heavens and coming down to intervene powerfully and gloriously in your life (like vss 31-45)?
If you were with us on Sunday you couldn’t miss the three Christmas trees in the foyer decorated with hundreds and hundreds of tags. These tags represent gifts that we plan to purchase as a church for several Christmas Stores hosted by DSC in partnership with area ministries, to help parents and children give gifts to one another who might otherwise not have that blessing.
If you are new to DSC or are just learning about the Christmas Store, check out this video and visit the recently updated Christmas Store page to learn more about this great opportunity for ministry in the surrounding communities.
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In addition to the Christmas Stores we have partnered to host in years past, this December, DSC will host a Christmas Store on our own property. We’re working with a local elementary school to identify and invite families in need from the community around our church.
If you’ve been around DSC for a while, you should know that we are laboring to be a church that plants churches that plant churches. In fact, just this past Monday, Carlos Griego signed the lease on a meeting place for Redemption Rio Rancho, DSC’s first local church plant.
With 2012 just around the corner, now is a good time for a refresher on why and how we’re going about church planting. Clint is DSC’s Missions Director, and he was happy (as you would imagine!) to answer several questions for us on the subject:
Can you explain to us again why we want to be a church planting church?
For the long answer, visit our Church Planting Page, especially the FAQ section, and read Pastor Ryan’s Ten Reasons to Plant Churches Now. The bottom line is this: God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. Once Jesus accomplished this work on the cross, he came back to life and sent his followers out to proclaim the good news. Then Jesus instructed his followers to disciple believers in the context of the local church. We believe that the most Biblical and effective way to reach people and people groups is to plant churches that multiply. In light of this, we want to send folks out to North Africa and across our region to plant churches. We also pray that God will use this spirit of multiplication to awaken DSC to reaching our friends, family, and neighbors with the gospel.
Church planting is obviously a major undertaking and at a number of levels. What are the costs involved for us as a body?
Comfort and coin. It’s going to cost us relationally as well as financially. Folks we love and find deep friendship and fellowship with may uproot from DSC and go with the first church plant (Redemption Rio Rancho), a future local church plant, or even sell all they have to move to North Africa to plant churches. And as a body, we must prayerfully serve them as they count the costs and step out in faith. It is also going to be an expensive endeavor. We hope to send out multiple church planters both locally and globally. Local church planters need temporary financial support from DSC, where as global church planters will likely need perpetual support from DSC. Either way, we are calling all of DSC to prayerfully consider starting by giving $1 per day for a year to church planting above their normal offerings. Then, as each year comes to an end, ask God in faith to provide through you to give another $1 per day to church planting. Our hope is that families and individuals will continue to increase from $1 per day, to $2 per day, to $3 per day, and more. The question shouldn’t be when can we stop, but rather, how much farther will God take us!
Giving is obviously, then, a big part of this. How can I get started or increase my giving?
The absolute best way is to set up both your regular giving and your church planting giving online here. If you’d prefer, you can use a missions envelope to designate your gift to “Church Planting.” Then, once you’ve made the commitment to give to church planting on a regular basis beyond your normal giving, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to receive bimonthly updates on our church planting efforts via email.
For more information about DSC’s church planting strategy or how to set up your online giving, visit DSC’s Church Planting pages.
In Sunday’s sermon, “In Hot Pursuit of His Presence,” Ryan explored Psalm 16 to show us how we can pray with the Psalmist, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you…in your presence there is fullness of joy.”
In the course of his message, Ryan took some time to develop how the Bible relates the presence of God with the people of God. In what sense is God always with us and in what sense is He with us when we meet together on Sunday mornings? How And what is different for us as those who live on this side of Christ’s coming and have received the Spirit of God?
That portion of the message is worth listening to several times, as those are important questions. But if you are particularly interested in this central biblical theme, there are two previous sets of messages that you should consider: Ryan’s Saturday Seminar, Biblical Theology, and Ryan’s Sunday morning series, Mapping Out the Old Testament.
In reflection upon Psalm 16’s call for us to find our delight in God and in His people, Ryan addressed what has become a rather obvious and awkward weakness here at DSC: Some of us are not coming regularly and many of us are coming late to our Sunday services.
Noting the obvious periodic good reasons for being late, Ryan gave us several reasons why we should labor to make showing up early the new normal at DSC:
- Reverence for God
- Respect for others
- To set an example to our children of what’s really important
- To demonstrate to visitors that God is among us (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
- To get as much of what we ultimately need (God) as we can get
Ryan also gave several practical suggestions:
- Prepare on Saturday night
- Plan to be early and take into consideration various predictable interruptions
- Listen for the band when they start playing one minute before the service starts
- Be willing to end your conversations around the building graciously, even if awkwardly, in order to get to the service on time