Archive for the Miscellaneous Category

Jul 24

So What Have I Been Doing All Month?

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Miscellaneous,Sermons,This Sunday

Four weeks off from preaching? Are you enjoying your time off? What have you been doing all this time? 

Since my main responsibility at DSC is preaching, it’s not surprising that I get those kind of questions whenever I’m not preaching, and especially when it’s several weeks in a row. Well, here’s the big picture, if you’re interested to know:

  • About 12 weeks a year, someone else gives the Sunday AM sermon.
  • A couple of those weeks a year are truly vacation.
  • Another half-dozen weeks, I’m not preaching but the week is still filled with busy office/admin, planning, counseling, discipleship stuff. It’s not at all “time off” — it’s really catch-up time for a lot of extra things that pile up.
  • Another four to six weeks per year I’m doing research and writing for a PhD.

These last four weeks of pulpit absence are of that last category: working hard on writing/revising chapters of my dissertation.

Let me give a quick explanation, especially for those who are fairly new to DSC. This degree is something I started before I came to DSC six years ago. It’s been slow-going — partly because of my very average intelligence and partly because attention to the dissertation has to go in spurts. Pastoring is more than a full-time job (anywhere from 55-75 hours/week) even without the dissertation. So sometimes, several months (as many as 10 months at a time) go by without me being able to give any attention to the degree. I simply haven’t found a way to make progress on the PhD within a normal work week. And I’m fine with that — I’m a pastor first and hopefully forever. I have no intention of finishing the degree and going off to teach in a college or seminary. I’d just like to finish what I started since a lot of time has already gone into the degree. I also think that the research and writing is hugely beneficial to my pastoral ministry. 

So, for the last several summers now, the elders have graciously given me a four-week block to intensely focus on the dissertation. Hence, my absence from preaching, blogging, etc., for the last four weeks. It’s definitely not been “time off.” It’s pretending that I’m a pressured grad student once again — a lot less sleep, a little less hygiene, and a lot more caffeine. Most days are 12-14 hours of research and writing, and maybe only a couple days off in the whole month. 

This education sabbatical was once again productive and encouraging. I have only one chapter (out of seven) to write completely from scratch. Another five are written but will need some significant revision before they’re in their final form. I’m hoping (and praying!) to have the final draft done by Christmas this year. After that, it’ll take several more months (maybe another five) before all the little hoops are jumped through and I defend the dissertation. Then the dissertation will get revised for a book version that will be published by Crossway in late 2011.

As with previous education sabbaticals, so it has been this last month: I enjoy the research and mostly enjoy the writing, but it nevertheless confirms my real love for preaching, for people, for the church, and for pastoring. I love where I am and what I do. I love our church. 

All that to say, thanks so much for your patience while I was reclusively holed up in my study for a month. 

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday as we get back to our series on Luke, specifically the first half of chapter 10, where we see Jesus’ disciples described as “Happy, Humble Harvesters.”

May 28

Should We Use Twitter during Church?

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Funny,Miscellaneous,Recommended Link

Josh Harris makes a good case for resisting the temptation to tweet during the worship service … further proving the connection between the words twitter and twit (Merriam-Webster: \twit\ noun: a silly annoying person).

May 11

Twitter? Not Me

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Funny,Miscellaneous

My, how the Twitter thing has caught on. I keep being asked if I’m on it, or when I’m going to start. There are many reasons I don’t want to “tweet”:

1) I already think about myself and what I am doing (or not doing but should be) too much. Definitely don’t need to further facilitate it; even publicize it.

2) The only interesting thing I do is for the government, and I can’t tell you about it.

3) My name is already taken by this guy (no, not me).

the other ryan kelly

UPDATE: Here’s another, more lengthy and more substantial, reason by Seth Word: Blog is Dead. And Twitter killed it.


Apr 22

Lord’s Supper Tonight

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Miscellaneous

Just a reminder that, though we normally have our Lord’s Supper on the last Wednesday of every month, this month it is one week earlier. We do this in April so as to avoid an overloaded week with our Clarus weekend.

So, that means that the next Lord’s Supper is tonight (at the usual time, 6:30 PM). Zach Nielsen will be switching hats,preaching on and leading in Communion. Hope you can make it!

Apr 20

Weep with Those Who Weep

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Miscellaneous,Recommended Link

Today, we weep with Steffan and Rachel Brown who lost their newly adopted son, Matthew, on Sunday.

Zach gives an account on his blog of the remarkable, grace-filled story (quoted in full below):

Today we lost a member of our church family. His name was Matt. He had a very unique and amazing story.

Matt was born in January to a 15 year old girl at the University of New Mexico hospital. The doctor who performed the delivery was Steffen Brown. He and his wife Rachael are friends of ours at Desert Springs Church.

Being so young and single, the birth mom immediately decided that she was going to put the baby up for adoption. Steffen and Rachael quickly decided that they would try to adopt this baby. A very courageous and beautiful decision quickly turned very scary.

After about 24 hours they found out that Matt had a rare condition known as hydranencephaly. This is a brain disorder where the brain fails to develop correctly. The front part of the brain is fluid instead of functioning tissue. The disease is terminal, which gave Matt roughly 4-12 months to live. This condition technically deemed him unadoptable; normally one with this condition would become the property of the state where he would be institutionalized and made comfortable until he passed.

This placed the Browns in a very difficult situation. Do they go the hard road of the cross, knowing the gut-wrenching pain that would soon ensue from having to watch this child die or should they turn him back over to the state? They chose the former and I know today they can joyfully say with tears in their eyes that without a doubt the phrase “it was worth it” doesn’t do justice. It was beyond “worth it.” It was true Christianity in action and provides a bittersweet joy that is beyond words.

My wife and I have learned much from the Browns. Oh how I long for more families like them! What would it look like in our culture of death for more Christians to be willing to take the hard road of the cross and lay down their lives for the poor, weak, and defenseless?! This is not to say that all are called to adoption, but all are called to lay down their lives by taking up their cross and following Jesus on the road to Golgotha. We know that Golgotha is not the final stop! The resurrection is true, for Jesus and for us. There is a “joy set before us” that can move radical obedience to a place where it is no longer seen as “radical,” but rather, “normal.”

I am so glad that the Browns were willing to take this courageous step. Make no mistake, this was not an easy road for them. Among other challenges, Matt did not sleep well at all and they have two other older (but still young) children. Any parent knows that sleep deprivation can drive a person completely nuts while you try to care for the needs of your other children. Steffen is also a very busy OB resident and his very demanding schedule was also a challenge. Toward the end of Matt’s life he suffered greatly as his body began to shut down. I can think of nothing worse that watching one of your children die and knowing there was nothing you could do about it.

Yet I am convinced that when Christians take courageous, faith-filled steps like this, the positive ripple effect throughout the kingdom of God continues to radiate out beyond our comprehension. This ripple will be seen by believers and unbelievers alike with corresponding impact in different ways for each group. Unbelievers are perplexed as to why one would do such a thing and believers are challenged to do similar acts of loving sacrifice. We need more of this.

And what an opportunity for the Church to step up! When a family bears a cross such as this, do we not all bear this cross together (Gal. 6:2)? This bonds us together as one. This is what we are called to be. I know that DSC exhibited this oneness with the Browns. I am very proud of our church today.

Would you remember the Browns in prayer? Maybe stop and pray for them now. Also, I think we should pray for ourselves that when faced with a situation such at they did, we would joyfully say yes to the hard path knowing that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). May we seek a real, lasting blessing!

This section from one of their blog posts was especially moving for me. I think it will encourage you as well:

Matt doesn’t respond positively to all the love and care we shower on him, and despite the fact that I knew in my head he wouldn’t, I still want him to smile back at me. Instead of smiling, he either stares at me blankly or screams in response to my best efforts to communicate with him. The discouragement I feel at his failure to thrive only evidences the selfishness of my endeavors. Before Matt, I was tempted to believe I loved my children with at least an inkling of selflessness. I now know that I expect at least some return for my investment. At the very least, I would like a two-month smile and a 3-month squeal of delight in response for the long nights and endless feedings. I am humbled further to think of the earthly reward I am tempted to expect from my older children. Each day with Matt, it looks more and more like all of our reward is being deposited in heaven (or not, because God loves a cheerful giver, and sometimes, I am just not). Frankly, I am not all that happy about the choice of accounts. While I may have previously thought I wanted to deposit all of my treasure in heaven, I now know I am more or a 50/50 or even 75/25 kind of girl; I would like some treasure in heaven and most of it here.

It may be this very realization of further indwelling sin that God seeks to remedy in part through our love of Matt. I once thought we were called to care for orphans and widows in their distress because by caring for them, we would see buckets of fruit in our own lives. I now believe, we are called to selfless acts because in our attempt to selflessness, our selfishness is exposed. I am utterly incapable of selfless love apart from Christ at work in me. So, exposed and helpless in the wake of selfishness, we have no choice but to rest completely in Christ for salvation. By faith alone, we are saved. Through our attempts at “good” works, we become all the more aware of our need for salvation. Praise God that His grace and love cover us completely and instill in us the hope of heaven!

It is sin to seek self above the good that God has willed for our lives. Sin separates us from the love that Christ has for us. It is this very separation–the separation that death embodies–that Christ died to overcome. Death stinks. We all hate it, but God more than hated death. He did something about it. Jesus came to overcome death once and for all at the cross. Our hope isn’t in life now. Our hope, like it or not, is in heaven. Our hope is not in miracle cures, our hope is in a sound doctrine of suffering that begins and ends in the cross.

So, I am thankful for Matt because he has further exposed the blackness in my heart and my need for the forgiveness found in Jesus. I am sick because I seek physical healing, signs and wonders, rather than the One to whom the signs point. Jesus is our hope. Spiritual healing is our calling and our destiny in Christ. Someday I will watch Matt run and play and laugh. Until we finally make it home, we rest in His finished work and long for its realization in heaven.

For those of you from DSC or otherwise, in lieu of sending flowers or something of that sort, the family wishes that a donation be giving to the Desert Springs Church adoption fund. This fund exists to help families attain interest-free loans to be used toward adoption costs. If you would be interested in giving toward this end on behalf of the family, please click here and then hit the button in the top sidebar to donate.