Archive for July, 2013
Knowing what the Bible says about eldership is important for all of us.
It’s important for those who are leading and shepherding as elders, for those who are taking their lead and receiving their care, and for those who aspire to serve formally in this role in the future.
In Sunday’s sermon, “The Shepherding of Christ’s Flock,” we looked at 1 Peter 5:1-5, one of the key passages in the New Testament on eldership. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 would be another go-to passage.
If you are interested in digging around more on this subject, here are a few great books:
- Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership, Alexander Strauch
- Biblical Eldership: Restoring the Eldership to Its Rightful Place in Church, by Alexander Strauch
- Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever
- Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, by Thabiti Anyabwile
- Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry, by Dave Harvey
You’ll notice we linked to two books by Alexander Strauch. The first is a thorough treatment of the breath of the Bible’s teaching on the subject, and the second is more more like a pamphlet than a book. Both of these books, along with the others, are available at the Book Nook. If you’re more of a listener then a reader, check out Strauch’s sessions on Biblical Leadership from his visit to DSC for a Saturday Seminar in 2006.
In Sunday’s sermon, “The Life of the Church in the Last Days,” Ryan unpacked the significance of several words, including self-control, seriousness, love, and hospitality. As those who are living in the last days, these are the qualities that should characterize our life together.
From his article, “Create a Contrast Culture in your Church,” here’s a helpful reflection by Jonathan Leeman on how our citizenship in heaven transforms our life together as God’s people.
Think about the local church as an embassy from the future. It’s a formally constituted gathering of Spirit-indwelt kingdom citizens who proclaim and display Christ’s end-time rule. They gather to declare their king’s warnings and promises, and they gather to formally affirm one another as kingdom citizens through the keys given by their king, which they do with baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Here are the laws, and here are the passport holders.
What’s more, these eschatological embassies on earth, spread out like pins on a map, should be characterized by an unworldly culture. It’s not a culture imported from another place, but from a future age. It’s not defined by sushi, cricket, or burqas, but by the habits of holiness and love and the ambassadorial work of discipling, evangelism, hospitality, and caring for the needy.
Citizenship, mind you, is an office. And activities like discipling, evangelism, and hospitality constitute a Christian’s basic office responsibilities. “Go and make disciples,” Jesus says. “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality,” Paul says. These are what Christians do by virtue of being citizens of Christ’s kingdom. We “live as citizens worthy of the gospel,” which means “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27, my translation; cf. 3:20).
The local church, in short, is the embassy where we show up for work, where we learn to be ambassadors who evangelize and disciple, and where we display an otherworldly culture that shines like stars in the dark night sky (Phil. 2:15).
Leeman continues with 12 ways churches can cultivate such a culture.
On most evenings during the year, DSC’s building is pretty quiet. Last week it was not quiet. Last week we had over 300 children with us each evening to sing songs, play games, and learn about our king, Christ, at Vacation Bible School (VBS).
More than 4,000 hours were invested by more than 200 volunteers, and all of this for the sake of God’s praise in the salvation of children and the encouragement of their faith. And it’s wonderful when our children join us in spreading God’s name as well. The children raised $3,175 for church planting in North Africa. Many thanks to those of you who helped make this happen.
Here’s the VBS recap video we played in yesterday’s service.
Actually, there is no such thing as “Throwback Thursday,” but today we are linking to a sermon preached by Ryan from October 19, 2003 from Ephesians 6:10-24, titled, “Put on Your Armor and Pray.”
The title of this sermon should ring a bell for most of us. If you’ve been up at DSC in the evenings dropping off kids or volunteering in this year’s VBS, you’ll know that this year’s theme comes from Ephesians 6. For those of you who are parents, perhaps this sermon will come in handy as you instruct your children in the Scriptures in follow-up to VBS this year. For all of us, Ephesians 6 is an important text of Scripture and this is a sermon we need. And, of course, it will also be interesting to hear Ryan’s voice from 2003!
Here are some of the verses the kids have been hearing and learning all week at VBS:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance . . .
One answer to this question is because Christianity is falsifiable.
Consider the flurry of sensory verbs in the first two verses of 1 John 1:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us. (emphasis mine)
This kind of language is a reminder of the historical nature of our faith. At the heart of what we believe as Christians are things that happened in real time in history. The incarnation, the death, and the resurrection of Christ happened.
Here are two images from a helpful article, “Christianity, The World’s Most Falsifiable Religion,” illustrating the contrast between how Christianity started and how other religions started:
Read the whole article here.
With VBS around the corner (July 15-19), this is a good month to highlight a few of our favorite resources for children at the Book Nook.
Here are three resources we’ve grown to love at DSC, along with their publisher descriptions, each of them written by Marty Machowski and published by New Growth Press.
Can a Bedtime Story Actually Change Your Life?
It is easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles, and conflicting priorities. But the truth is that he is the hero of every story, including these ordinary ones. This is why Marty Machowski puts God’s plan of salvation in Christ on continuous display in The Gospel Story Bible. The easy-to-read storybook introduces your family to many captivating people, places, and events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, showing how each one ultimately points to Jesus.
As you share these Bible stories together, you and your family will meet Jesus and learn a new, life-changing way of recognizing Christ as the hero of every story. Vibrant illustrations by A. E. Macha, child-friendly discussion questions, and Scripture references accompany each narrative to help you lead your family in exploring the Bible. You will be delighted to discover how easily even a young child can understand the original text of a story that he or she has already come to love.
Christian parents know the importance of passing the gospel story on to their children, yet we live in a busy world filled with distractions. Schedules collide, there is homework and yard work and dishes and laundry, the car’s oil should be changed, there are phone calls to make and before you know it, everyone is getting to bed late again.
The Bible can seem like a long story for an active family to read, but when you break it down into short sections, as Marty Machowski does, family devotions are easy to do. Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won’t find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read.
Filled with adventure, suspense, drama, and mystery the gospel story easily captures the attention of children. Even better, the gospel story give life. We are saved and our children are saved as we review the story of the gospel. So why do so many well-intentioned parents give up on family devotions—deciding that reading the Bible as a family must only be for “super parents.”
The truth is that there are no super parents. We all struggle, and we all need help to stay on course. Old Story New makes it easy for parents to stay on the life-giving course of sharing the gospel with their family. The second volume in Marty Machowski’s family devotional series, Old Story New continues the gospel story that started in Long Story Short. Using the same effective ten-minute a day structure, it walks children through the great truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament. Through 78 New Testament stories, Old Story New does the hard work for parents and caregivers. Simple discussion questions (and answers!) for each day’s devotion help children understand and remember Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church. Old Story New is a family devotional program designed to explain God’s plan of salvation through the New Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.
Each of these books is available at the Book Nook on Sunday morning or through Amazon at the links above.
And don’t forget that VBS is just around the corder, from July 15-19. VBS will involve around 150 volunteers and minister the gospel to several hundred children from our church and, we pray, around the neighborhood. To learn more, or to register your child, click here.