Archive for the Sermon Preview Category

Dec 13

The Cross, The Crook, The Crown

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up,Sermon Preview

As you know, we’ve been working through the book of Psalms as a church in our series, Pour Out Your Heart to Him.

As Ryan said on Sunday, in God’s good providence, our series has brought us to a set of three psalms that, together, are an especially good fit for Christmas. Psalm 22, 23, and 24 aren’t specifically about Jesus’ incarnation, but they are famous for pointing God’s people forward to Christ. The arrival of Christ in the world inaugurated the fulfillment of each of these Psalms.

  • Psalm 22 points forward to Jesus’ death (The cross)
  • Psalm 23 points forward to Christ, who is the promised Good Shepherd (The shepherd’s crook)
  • Psalms 24 is about the coming King of Glory, who is Jesus (The crown)

So, we’re calling these three messages, The Cross, The Crook, The Crown.

There are some psalms we do well to know well. These are three of them. And each of these psalms and, therefore, each of these sermons will be a good opportunity for bringing a friend or family member to church. For some suggestions on how to take advantage of this season for sharing the gospel, read last week’s post, “Who is Jesus? A Good Time for an Important Question.” And don’t forget to pick up some Invitation Cards for this year’s Christmas weekend services.

In his sermon on Psalm 23, “Has God Forsaken Me?,” Ryan closed his message with a nice summary of what the psalm meant in its original context, how it pointed to and was fulfilled in the event of Christ’s death, and how it can be applied to us:

David felt forsaken by God amidst terrible suffering. He fought against his doubt and despair by recounting God’s ways and faithfulness in the past. He also kept asking God for help. Eventually God answered. But in God’s orchestration David also pointed ahead 1000 years to the coming of the one who would bring the true victory, the final hope, the sure help, and the deepest deliverance. This Jesus, the true Son of David and Righteous King, took on suffering and death by bearing sin. His suffering wasn’t symbolic or hyperbole; it was true and real. He didn’t just feel forsaken by God, but he was forsaken by God because he was bearing sin. But God rescued him; on the third day he rose and now lives forever and ever. Therefore his “gospel” is trustworthy. He did what he came to do, and he did it to the full.

Jesus came to die in our place. He died so that we might live. He was beaten so that we might have peace. He was bloodied so that we might be healed. He was rejected so that we might be accepted. He was despised so that we might be loved. He was forsaken so that we might be received. He suffered so that we might be comforted. He took on judgment so that we might be declared righteous.

He welcomes us to come to him, be saved, be reconciled, to join in worship, and to join him in his plan for spreading his glory in this world. So now when we feel forsaken, when we feel like he doesn’t hear us, we can trust him. He answers prayer, even if in His timing. His timing is perfect. His plan is sure. And one day all suffering and doubt and despair will be wiped away completely, for those who are His. It’s not done yet, so we still grope after Him; we still fight away our doubt and despair. We do that by learning from David’s model in Psalm 22, but also by seeing the fullest reality of Psalm 22 in the cross of Christ.




Oct 19

Zach Nielsen Preaching this Sunday

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

Many of you will remember Zach Nielsen, who served as DSC’s Minister of Music for a number of years, leaving in 2010 to help plant The Vine Church in Madison, WI. Zach preached on a number of occasions during his time here, and this Sunday he will be back at DSC and will preach in both services.

As you may know, Zach blogs regularly at Take Your Vitamin Z. Zach is also a talented jazz pianist and performs around Madison with his group, The Nielsen Trio. Zach is married to Kim and they have four children; Taylor, Autumn, Emery, and Mya.

Come on Sunday and bring a friend to hear faithful preaching from this much loved former DSC leader.

Sep 7

Praises to God, Prayers for Our Friends

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

This coming Sunday we will begin a new series in the Psalms, Pour Out Your Heart to Him: A Study in the Psalms.

In this book of God-inspired prayers, we find mingled together both praises to God and prayers for those who don’t know Him.

In Psalm 67, for example, the writer prays for God to be gracious to His people in order that many from every nation would know of His saving power:

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.

Here we see that joy in God overflows in prayer for others to know that same joy. It’s actually the nature of joy to do this. But this is not just true of the happier Psalms. For example, David does the same thing in his prayer of deep confession in Psalm 51, when he prays, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”

On this side of the cross, we can pray to God boldly because of Christ’s work on our behalf. Our salvation is indeed a salvation of great joy. So, let’s join David and the writer of Psalm 67 in praying for many to know this joy with us.

In fact, given that we are at the start of a new series, this is a great opportunity for you to invite a friend or family member to join us on Sunday. So, bring a friend with you to church and let’s pray for the Lord to answer the prayer of Psalm 67 in the lives of those we love.


Aug 29

What Can Miserable Christians Sing?

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

Last week we published a blog announcing Ryan’s new Sunday sermon series, Pour Out Your Heart to Him: A Study in the Psalms, starting in mid-September.

The Psalms are refreshing to our souls for many reasons, not the least of which because they poetically carry the full range of human emotions. They display a combination of raw human honesty and deep God-dependent trust. We certainly need them for both.

A few years ago, Carl Trueman wrote an article, “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?,” later published in The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism. To this short article, which he wrote briskly in about 30 minutes, Trueman has received more positive feedback than from any other piece he’s written.

So, what can miserable Christians sing? Carl Trueman considers the question:

Having experienced — and generally appreciated — worship across the whole evangelical spectrum, from Charismatic to Reformed — I am myself less concerned here with the form of worship than I am with its content. Thus, I would like to make just one observation: the psalms, the Bible’s own hymnbook, have almost entirely dropped from view in the contemporary Western evangelical scene. I am not certain about why this should be, but I have an instinctive feel that it has more than a little to do with the fact that a high proportion of the psalter is taken up with lamentation, with feeling sad, unhappy, tormented, and broken.

In modern Western culture, these are simply not emotions which have much credibility: sure, people still feel these things, but to admit that they are a normal part of one’s everyday life is tantamount to admitting that one has failed in today’s health, wealth, and happiness society. And, of course, if one does admit to them, one must neither accept them nor take any personal responsibility for them: one must blame one’s parents, sue one’s employer, pop a pill, or check into a clinic in order to have such dysfunctional emotions soothed and one’s self-image restored.

Now, one would not expect the world to have much time for the weakness of the psalmists’ cries. It is very disturbing, however, when these cries of lamentation disappear from the language and worship of the church. Perhaps the Western church feels no need to lament — but then it is sadly deluded about how healthy it really is in terms of numbers, influence and spiritual maturity. Perhaps — and this is more likely — it has drunk so deeply at the well of modern Western materialism that it simply does not know what to do with such cries and regards them as little short of embarrassing. Yet the human condition is a poor one — and Christians who are aware of the deceitfulness of the human heart and are looking for a better country should know this.

A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party — a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals. Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is — or at least should be — all about health, wealth, and happiness silently corrupted the content of our worship? Few Christians in areas where the church has been strongest over recent decades — China, Africa, Eastern Europe – would regard uninterrupted emotional highs as normal Christian experience.

Indeed, the biblical portraits of believers give no room to such a notion. Look at Abraham, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, and the detailed account of the psalmists’ experiences. Much agony, much lamentation, occasional despair — and joy, when it manifests itself — is very different from the frothy triumphalism that has infected so much of our modern Western Christianity. In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship. Does our contemporary language of worship reflect the horizon of expectation regarding the believer’s experience which the psalter proposes as normative? If not, why not? Is it because the comfortable values of Western middle-class consumerism have silently infiltrated the church and made us consider such cries irrelevant, embarrassing, and signs of abject failure?

I did once suggest at a church meeting that the psalms should take a higher priority in evangelical worship than they generally do — and was told in no uncertain terms by one indignant person that such a view betrayed a heart that had no interest in evangelism. On the contrary, I believe it is the exclusion of the experiences and expectations of the psalmists from our worship — and thus from our horizons of expectation — which has in a large part crippled the evangelistic efforts of the church in the West and turned us all into spiritual pixies.

By excluding the cries of loneliness, dispossession, and desolation from its worship, the church has effectively silenced and excluded the voices of those who are themselves lonely, dispossessed, and desolate, both inside and outside the church. By so doing, it has implicitly endorsed the banal aspirations of consumerism, generated an insipid, trivial and unrealistically triumphalist Christianity, and confirmed its impeccable credentials as a club for the complacent. In the last year, I have asked three very different evangelical audiences what miserable Christians can sing in church. On each occasion my question has elicited uproarious laughter, as if the idea of a broken-hearted, lonely, or despairing Christian was so absurd as to be comical — and yet I posed the question in all seriousness. Is it any wonder that British evangelicalism, from the Reformed to the Charismatic, is almost entirely a comfortable, middle-class phenomenon?

If you’d like to read more from Carl Trueman, several of his books are available at our Resource Center, including The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism. Also, Carl Trueman has spoken at DSC now several times. You can find audio from his teaching and preaching here.

Aug 24

Starting in September: A Study in The Psalms

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

In Colossians 3:16, we’re commanded, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (3:16). Written in a fallen world by and for those trusting in the promises of God, the Psalms are for our instruction today. Reading them, praying them, and singing them are all ways in which we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.

Mid-September will begin a new Sunday sermon series, Pour Out Your Heart to Him: A Study in The Psalms. Ryan is looking forward to the conclusion of his writing leave and his return to preaching. In addition, this series will coordinate with the release of a new DSC album of Psalms set to song, Psalterium. More details are forthcoming, but mark your calendar for the release concert on October 21 at 7:00 PM.

Some of the Psalms are written from great distress, either from personal sin or attacks and injustice from without. Some are written from hearts overwhelmed with the greatness of God. All of them are written to help us trust in the faithfulness of a God who makes and keeps promises.

The title for the series comes from Psalm 62:8, where David writes, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him.” The context of verses 3-8 give us a taste of the emotionally dynamic nature of these prayers.

How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

All of that is true. There are great injustices and frustrations in a fallen world. But God alone is our rock and our salvation and he has provided salvation in its fullness in Jesus Christ.

For that reason, we can pour out our hearts to Him.