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Archive for July, 2009

Jul 31

Piper Poem on Luke 10:20

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Quote,Sermon Follow-Up

In light of last Sunday’s message on Luke 10:1-24, this post from John Piper is timely for us. He writes:

On vacation I was meditating on Luke 10:17-20 where Jesus tells us not to be overly excited about our ability to do feats of triumph in defeating the devil. Rather he says, fix the root of your joy in this: Your names are written in heaven. Amazing.

Most of us are moved more by the fireworks of miracles than by the mere assurance of salvation. Something is amiss. So I lingered long enough here to put my heart right. And in the process wrote a poem.

Rejoice! Your Names Are Written in Heaven

Luke 10:17-20 –
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

How quickly does a lightening bolt

Fall from the blackened clouds and strike the forest fair!

How powerful the fleeting volt

That vanishes at once and leaves a cinder there!

So quickly falls the ancient Snake

From his condemning height with all his cruel pangs,

When in Your name and for Your sake

We wield your mighty word and break his deadly fangs.

And as we leap to celebrate

This triumph in our hands, this best of mountain peaks,

Your voice, so calm and full of weight,

Cuts through our ecstasy, our festival, and speaks:

“Do not rejoice in this, dear ones,

That Satan and his hordes are subject to your voice,

But that, in heav’n as treasured sons,

Your names are written down. In this, in this, rejoice!

Rejoice, rejoice, my friends, my prize!

Your names are written there, in blood with my own hand.

Rejoice and sing, rejoice, arise

And leap for this: before the world, your name was planned.

Rejoice, your name is written there

Secure, and by this Lamb it is forever placed.

And thus by my own blood I swear:
Your name will never be, no never be, erased.”

Jul 29

A Shocking Thing to Forget Him

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Lord's Supper,Quote

In light of our Lord’s Supper service tonight (6:30 PM), below is a modern hymn by D.A. Carson on how shocking it is that we would forget the Savior and need to remember him as we do in the communion meal. Let’s come together tonight in song, scripture, and symbol for the much-needed remembrance of Christ.

A shocking thing, this, that we should forget
The Savior who gave up his life –
To turn from the cross, indifferent, and let
Our minds veer toward self-love and strife.
The table, this rite, is habit – and yet
Christ’s words pierce our shame like a knife:

While breaking the bread, the Lord Jesus said,
“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Enamored with power, surrounded with praise,
We set out our ecclesial plans.
Efficiency hums, and we spend our days
Defending, promoting our stands.
Techniques multiply, our structures amaze –
The gospel slips out of our hands.

While breaking the bread, the Lord Jesus said,
“Do this in remembrance of me.
O remember, remember the cross.
From my side issued water and blood,
This was no accident,
I bore the wrath of my God.”

“Remember my bed, the dank cattle shed,
Though glory was all my domain.
Remember the years of service and tears
That climaxed in lashings of pain.
By God’s own decree, your guilt fell on me,
And all of my loss is your gain.”

While breaking the bread, the Lord Jesus said,
“Do this in remembrance of me.”

“Remember my tears, Gethsemene’s fears;
Recall that my followers fled,
That I was betrayed, disowned and arraigned –
The Prince of Life crucified, dead.
Remember your shame, your sin and your blame;
Remember the blood that I shed.”

While lifting the cup, the Savior spoke up,
“Do this in remembrance of me.”

So now when we eat this feast simply spread
I blush I forget to recall.
For this quiet rite means once more I have fed
On bread that gave life once for all;
Memorial feast—just wine, broken bread—
And time to reflect on Christ’s call:

While breaking the bread, the Lord Jesus said,
“Do this in remembrance of me.”

From the album, Shout with Delight.

Jul 29

Masculinity Regained Series

2009 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Recommended Link

The Resurgence has a new helpful five-part series of short blog posts on biblical masculinity. Men, check it before you wreck it.

Also fairly new to the site is a new book by Mark Driscoll, Pastor Dad: Scriptural Insights on Fatherhood, which you can download for free.

Jul 28

What Is the Theme of the Bible?

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

From Fred Zaspel:

What is the Bible all about? What is its primary purpose in writing and its leading theme? We find the answer to our question when we examine the beginning and the end of Scripture. At the beginning God creates the world and all that is in it. We may be sure that he did this for his own glory, for this is his purpose in all he does. His creation is designed to reflect his glory. Humanity in particular was created for God’s glory, and this is our whole reason for being — to glorify God.
But we have fallen from our created purpose. With the entrance of sin through our father Adam (Genesis 3), humanity and all the created order has fallen under a divine curse. The whole created order is out of sorts — there is pain and suffering and injustice and death. And there is sin, rebellion against our creator. The curse of God upon the human race is evident in each broadcast of the evening news and in the experiences of our own lives. Through sin we are out of sorts with our creator, and as a result our world has been plunged into chaos and misery of every kind.
But at the entrance of sin God not only spoke in judgment. He also spoke in grace and in promise. He promised that a champion would come to defeat the tempter and reconcile us to God. The root problem — our sin — would be corrected, and all of creation would be restored to its created purpose. All this we find at the beginning of our Bible.
The end of our Bible (the book of Revelation) records end of the story. History climaxes in a new heaven and a new earth, a new world in which God dwells with his people and his people bask in the glorious presence of God their creator. This blessedness is secured for us, we read, by that promised champion, who by now we know is the Lord Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, he is the theme.
Reading our Bible from the perspective of the beginning and the end enables us to gain a right perspective of the whole and all its parts. Throughout the Old Testament the redeemer is anticipated. The promise given and expanded. At the same time the world at large and God’s people in particular (Israel) demonstrate continuously their need for this redeemer. Kings, princes, the people at large, and even prophets fail. Humanity is so given over to its sin that it cannot stop. There is universal abandonment to sin and universal enmity with God. And no king is powerful enough or faithful enough to bring even God’s people — let alone the world at large — to cease from their sinning or into fellowship with God. So the promise is that God will send his servant to fix the entire mess. The whole, overall theme of the first half of the Bible is this — “He is coming!” Over and again the promise is reiterated — “He is coming! God has promised a redeemer! In fact, God has promised that he will himself come to our rescue!” And the Old Testament ends with the promise outstanding. The need for a redeemer remains, but the promise is left unfulfilled — “He is coming!”
The New Testament, in turn, makes the happy announcement, “He is here!” — from promise to fulfillment. Matthew and the other Evangelists (the Gospel writers, Matthew-John), introduce Jesus Christ to us as the redeemer whom God had long promised. And so they tell us about his arrival and his life and teachings and miracles, but they tell us particularly of his death and resurrection. They are careful to tell us that Jesus Christ died as the redeemer in place of sinners and has for his people exhausted the curse of God against their sin. Accordingly, he was raised from the dead in triumph and in glory. He has successfully accomplished his assigned saving work. In Acts this message is taken to the world, and the epistles spell out the significance of all this for us in more detail. And in Revelation, as we have seen, it all comes to climax in Christ’s glorious return as judge and as savior, when his redeeming work is brought to final completion and all his people stand in glory with him in the presence of the Triune God.
And so in the end, creation reaches its original design — the glory of God the creator. Humanity is saved, and with it the whole created order is rescued from the divine curse against sin and restored to fellowship with God. The divine purpose is accomplished, and all the redeemed will be gathered to sing his eternal praise. God our redeemer has come and will come again to complete his promised saving work in Jesus Christ — this is the whole centerpiece and theme of the Bible.

Many of Fred’s other articles are online at biblicalstudies.com. I recommend them highly!

Jul 24

D.A. Carson Messages on Prayer and Mission

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

Three messages by Don Carson on “Prayer and Mission,” recently preached at Evangelical Ministry Assembly conference in London:

If you’re not aware, practically all of Dr. Carson’s sermon audio is now on The Gospel Coalition website (thanks to the hard work of Andy Naselli). There are even some French sermons there, for all of you Francophones!

Somewhat related, I recently confirmed with Dr. Carson that he will back at DSC for Clarus 2012 (yes, that was the soonest we could get him back!).

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.”

Jul 19

Understanding Micah

2009 | by Parker Landis | Category: Gospel

Preaching through Micah was a blessing and a challenge to me.  The most encouraging comment (which I heard repeatedly) was that people were reading through Micah during the week and loving it.  However, I know that it can be quite difficult to understand Micah, so I wanted to share a few resources.

The first book (which Ryan has mentioned before) is called God’s Big Picture, by Vaughn Roberts.  This book explains how we fit the Old Testament and New Testament stories together.  Beginning with Eden and moving through the exodus, the kingdom of Israel, Jesus Christ, and his eventual return, this book surveys the major events in the Bible and shows how God was establishing His people, in His place, under His rule and blessing.  At 150 pages, it is a simple and short introduction, but still very helpful.  You can purchase it online through the link above, or at DSC’s resource center.

One resource that I mentioned during the first message is the ESV Study Bible.  Like most study bibles, it includes explanatory footnotes on difficult texts and helpful background material (historical, cultural, literary) on each book.  However, two things set this study bible apart from all others.  First, the ESV Study Bible has nearly 200 extra pages (in small print, nonetheless!) of practical, beneficial, and timely articles, including such topics as the reliability of the old and new testaments, Reading the Bible for Personal Application, and The Bible and Other World Religions (Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, etc.).  The second reason that I choose this study bible is because I think they have drawn from the best group of scholars and pastors available today.  This is a very trustworthy group of authors.  Again, you can purchase a copy at DSC’s resource center or at the link above.

The final set of resources are commentaries which are more narrowly focused on Micah.  The first one is a short, non-technical, practical commentary from “The Bible Speaks Today” series.  It is written by by David Prior and includes commentary on Joel and Habakkuk as well as Micah.  You can purchase it here.

The commentary that I used while studying through Micah is slightly more technical (although you don’t have to know Hebrew) but is still very pastoral and has some extremely insightful application points weaved in with the rest of the commentary.  Like the previous book, this one also includes commentary on two other books.  It is from the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series, and you can purchase a copy here.