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Archive for the Miscellaneous Category


Oct 3

2014 Elders Q&A Recap

2014 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

On September 24 we hosted this year’s Elders Q&A. This is a way of facilitating and encouraging meaningful communication between the church’s leadership and the congregation. In a church as large as ours, this does require some thoughtful planning and care.

Ryan opened the evening with an explanation of why we do this each year and interacted with Scripture to give some context for the role of elders in God’s plan for his church. Then, for he first half Ryan moderated pre-submitted questions among the elders, and for the second half Trent fielded questions from the floor.

Here’s a list of questions we addressed with time stamps for the audio, which is available here.

Missions

  • 8:00  DSC has sent out one family as missionaries and will send another out in the new year. What are the contingency plans should the missions giving dip below support levels?
  • 10:47  There was a big push in 2011 and 2012 for local church planting as a part of the overall vision, but not much since then about what is next locally. Is local church planting still part of our strategy?
  • 12:04  Other churches, even some locally, seem to have had some success with planting campuses instead of churches, would DSC leadership ever consider doing a satellite campus in Albuquerque or beyond?

Eldership

  • 14:41  How do the elders hold each other accountable in their personal spiritual lives and in regard to responsibilities at church?
  • 19:26  Have you considered whether the makeup of the current eldership isn’t “elderly” enough? In other words, is it too young? Related, what about the balance (or imbalance) of staff elders and non-staff elders?

Church Life: Lord’s Supper, Church Discipline, Membership, Etc.

  • 22:21  Why is our communion service on Wednesday night? Is it possible to have this communion service on Sunday mornings more often? Why do we do it when we do it?
  • 25:14  Is there a place in church discipline for shunning? Paul tells the Corinthians that one of their sinning members should “be removed from among you” and to “purge the evil person” from their midst. Is this shunning?
  • 28:04  How can members, under the elders, be more proactive about shepherding each other?
  • 30:46  Why do we have a Sunday school or adult Sun classes? Why do we have age graded Sunday School or classes?
  • 32:15  What does it mean to be a member of DSC? Is that in the Bible?
  • 35:53  With our new Equip classes starting in the fall, are there any thoughts to expanding the building to allow more classrooms for adult education?

Doctrine

  • 37:14  Is DSC cessationist or continuationist in belief? How does that work out in what we practice?
  • 40:08  How should Christians think about and relate to a government that is increasingly antagonistic to Christians and restrictive of Christian freedoms?

Questions From the Floor

  • 45:14  As elders you go to the sick in the body and pray for them. How often do you do that and how does that work?
  • 47:47  Is there a possibly legalistic reason behind the gender separation between a Women’s Bible Study, Men’s Huddle, etc. Is there a reason there isn’t a corporate Bible study?
  • 50:58  There’s a lot of excitement with the annual thrust for missions during Missions Emphasis Week. As far as church planting, what are your thoughts about that, how often it should be done, and our strategy?
  • 55:04  In years past we had a ministry called The Well for young adults. Do we have any plans to reinitiate that type of ministry? If so, how would we go about that?
  • 1:00:32  We’re all excited about our missionaries going to West Africa. Some organizations are calling their missionaries back because of Ebola. Whose decision will it be to protect our missionaries not only from health issues but other potential harms throughout their career?
  • 1:03:12  What are the strengths of the pastors and the congregation at our church?
  • 1:06:59  Israel has been in the news a lot lately. A lot of Christians think it’s biblically required to stand behind them. What’s the church’s position?
  • 1:12:23 Praises to God from each of the elders

For audio from past Elders Q&A gatherings, click here.

May 7

20 Diagnostic Questions to Ask About Technology, Devices, and Social Media

2014 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

This past Sunday, Sandy Beauchamp, Tim Bradley, Ryan Kelly, and Nathan Sherman hosted a panel discussion with parents of youth on the topic of our engagement with technology, devices, and social media. In proportion to how much we engage with tech, our thinking about that engagement is actually quite small. For Christians, this is an important context in which to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

To that end, after Sunday’s panel, Ryan drafted the following 20 questions to help us evaluate our use of technology.

  1. Is this device/app a tool or an idol? Is it serving me or am I serving it? Am I exercising dominion over it, or does it have dominion over me?
  2. What happens when I give up _________ (device/app) for a day? Do I even know?
  3. Does it serve/promote God or self? What’s the %?
  4. Does it serve others or me? What’s the %?
  5. Am I mindlessly following the world’s trends or am I thoughtfully analyzing, monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting my usage? Simply put, am I asking enough questions?
  6. Am I often living life through a device or an app (live-tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking) rather than enjoying life through human eyes?
  7. Have my relationships becoming more shallow (even if I have more of them because of social media)?
  8. Am I growing less comfortable and/or less capable with face-to-face communication?
  9. Is my phone a crutch in more socially challenging environments?
  10. Am I doing confrontation or otherwise hard conversations through email or another electronic medium?
  11. Am I growing in true knowledge, wisdom, and discernment more than just bits of information, headlines, factoids? In other words, is my concentration, interest, and pursuit of “substance” growing or waning?
  12. Has picking up my phone, opening it, checking apps, etc, become thoughtless or merely instinctual?
  13. Am I setting purposeful limitations and boundaries on my tech use, or am I approaching tech-use with sheer pragmatism and/or hedonism?
  14. Does the fear of “missing out” on what’s going on socially significantly drive my use of tech? What’s behind that fear emotionally and spiritually?
  15. Am I confusing my true identity with the public identity I portray through social media? (Note: Our real lives are often uglier than the idyllic life we portray, but our identity in Christ is far greater than anything we could capture with social media.)
  16. Am I making public things that should be kept private? What parameters have I determined for what not to share?
  17. What does the biblical virtue of modesty look like on ___________ (app)? (Note: modesty relates to skin and clothes, but also to speech and attitude.)
  18. How might 1 Thes. 4:11-12 (“…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, …so that you may walk properly before outsiders…”) apply to my use of social media?
  19. Am I evaluating my “need” for and time on social media in relation to my need for and time in Bible and prayer?
  20. Will this next tweet, photo, text, or post demonstrate love for my God and love for my neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40)?

Apr 8

Why Expository Preaching Is Important

2014 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

Expository preaching is what we do at DSC. We mean to expose and expound the meaning of the Bible according to its own shape and agenda. That’s why, when Ryan designs a sermon series, he works through one side of a book of the Bible to the other.

Here’s a helpful video from Kevin DeYoung reflecting on the nature of expository preaching. Enjoy!

[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]

Nov 15

Why are we against abortion?

2013 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

On November 19 a very important ordinance will be brought to ballot in Albuquerque. It’s called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance.” It does not represent everything we might desire for the protection of the unborn, but it appears to be a significant and politically achievable next step in the direction of justice.

That’s the specific occasion for this blog. But let’s back up a bit first and consider a Christian framework for thinking about abortion and acting in behalf of the unborn.

And lest this step be thought unnecessary, let us remember that as with many things that we can take for granted, if we do not self-consciously rehearse the deepest reasons for our opposition to abortion, we will grow vulnerable to bad arguments, unimpassioned indifference, and even quieted embarrassment for our position. There is even a term coined to describe those with pro-life convictions who have grown weary of speaking and acting for the unborn: “fetus fatigue.” Clearly, the question, “Why are we against abortion?,” is a question we need to answer with persevering conviction and persuasive clarity.

So, why are we against abortion?

First, we love babies and believe that abortion is the murder of an infinitely valuable human being. 

There are two questions that every person has to answer in determining the moral acceptability of abortion. We do well to ask them and answer them for ourselves and those we seek to persuade. These two questions make the issue of abortion surprisingly simple.

The first question is this: when do human beings begin? The answer is straightforward from the Bible and it is clear in nature. In Psalm 139, David reflected on God’s intimate knowledge of every part of his life, even his life in the womb. With David each of us can say, God has “knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (139:13). Biology teaches us that Homo sapiens begin at the meeting of egg and sperm with the creation of an entirely new organism, unique with its own DNA. Given a proper environment and time, that organism contains within itself all that is needed to direct its own growth from that moment until death. In other words, embryos are human beings. Standard biology text books agree, and even many in the pro-choice community are happy to grant this view of human life.

But if many in the pro-choice community are happy to grant the basic humanity of unborn life, then how can they also be for abortion?

It is for this reason that a second question is especially important: What makes human beings special? We step on ants and we eat cows. Why not human beings? One view says that human beings are valuable for the kind of thing we are as human beings. This is what Christians hold, and we believe it to be so because, as Genesis 1:27 reads, “God created man in his own image.” A two-year-old girl, a handicapped boy, and an accomplished violinist share the same humanity and, thus, the same human dignity. To understand the alternative view, the acronym, “SLED,” will come in handy. This view holds that human beings are more or less valuable depending on their sizelevel of developmentenvironment, and degree of dependency. When an argument for abortion is made on the basis of viability, for example, the logic of dependence is at work. An argument for partial birth abortion will assume an argument from environment. These are what separate a human being in the womb from a human being outside the womb. But there’s a problem that must be acknowledged. It’s precisely this logic that leads Princeton Professor of Bioethics, Peter Singer, to advocate for the infanticide of young children. Thankfully, most abortion advocates do not live according to the logic required by their position. And that is precisely why a conversation about the nature of humanity and human dignity is a good place to start in persuading our neighbors concerning the status of unborn human life.

But not only is abortion the murder of an infinitely valuable human being, abortion is the violent murder of an infinitely valuable and defenseless human being. For Christians, the utter dependence of a human being in the womb is actually a cause for a special measure of care.

We are against abortion because we are for human life, and especially human life in its most vulnerable stage.

Second, we fear God and are captivated with his life-knitting glory in the womb.

Listen to what David believed and how David felt about the scope of God’s sovereignty over his life:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
—Psalm 138:14-18

That human beings are made in the image of God is one of the Bible’s especially significant doctrines and one of the most practical realities in the world, as we have considered. But it also represents how God has chosen to reveal his glory in the world. Meditation on God’s pervasive knowledge and care for us is a reason for wonder and praise. And so it should be no surprise that across the story of the Bible we find the violent death of children standard fare for God’s enemy, the Devil. We can’t help but think of Pharaoh’s order for the Hebrew sons to be thrown into the Nile (Exodus 1:22). Yet, as the story goes, “the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them” (Exodus 1:17).

What happens in the womb of a woman isn’t just about her. It’s not even just about her and the baby. It’s about her and the baby and the hand of God. When our hearts are in the right place, we revel at God’s masterpiece in humanity and revile the assault of abortion on his handiwork.

We are against abortion because we fear God, and we are for the display of his life-knitting glory.

Finally, we love our neighbors and long for sinners to come to repentance.

Yes, this is an important and not a peripheral reason to be against abortion.

Heaven will be populated with abortionists, with those who aborted their children, and with people like you and me who looked to Christ for forgiveness and for righteousness. But no one will be there who did not first see and confess the reality their sin and guilt before God. So, telling the truth about abortion is about repentance.

We do not help our unbelieving neighbors by speaking only of sins most decent people are comfortable denouncing: lying, cheating, spousal abuse, and child trafficking, for example. Just read some of the stories of 26 women who committed abortions, published this week in New York Magazine. Some of these women have been hardened. Many of them are haunted. All of them, we know, need the grace of God, grace which is greater than all of our sin. Satan assaults the glory of God through abortion, and through abortion he tortures those whom he has enslaved. Being honest about the evil of abortion is an important first step toward knowing the love of Christ for those who would commit an abortion.

Yes, preaching against abortion will mean that some—even many—will harden in their opposition to our cause for the unborn, and even our Savior. But such is the case with any sin, no matter how gracious our presentation. Jesus’ own preaching blinded some while it gave sight to others. That’s God’s way.

We are against abortion because we are for babies, we are for the glory of God, and we are for the salvation of sinners.

So, how does this look practically in our lives as Christians?

It looks like many things. We pray for the unborn. We organize ourselves for strategic practical and gospel ministry through the establishment of crisis pregnancy centers. We start adoption agencies and open our arms, our hearts, and our homes to children through adoption. We befriend our neighbors and love them with truth and help when they are in a crisis pregnancy. We seek to persuade our neighbors by writing, speaking, educating, and engaging in the public square, in the academy, and in our little spheres of influence wherever we find ourselves. And, of course, as the Lord grants us children, we love them, protect them, sacrifice for them, and enjoy them as gifts.

We also vote.

Which brings us to the occasion for this article.

Human government is an indispensable God-given means to human flourishing and voting is a means by which we help to bring our leaders and our laws into alignment with what is just and good and true. It’s a way we love our neighbors, born and unborn. While politics and our part in it can never meet our ultimate needs, it does meet truly significant needs and is an expression of our worldview as Christians.

Writing for the elders at Desert Springs Church, we encourage you to read up on the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance” and participate in the political process by voting on November 19.

Fatigue, Faithfulness, and the Faithfulness of God

Thankfully, as evangelical Christians, we aren’t the only people who are for life and, therefore, against abortion. As an evidence of God’s common grace in humanity, still forty years after Roe there is in our own nation a broad and persistent resistance to abortion, of which this ordinance is a part. But as Christians who seek to defend the unborn, we should want to answer the question, “Why are we against abortion?,” in a way that reflects the mind and heart of God and in a way that promotes his gospel.

Yes, there are reasons to be exhausted, but there are reasons also to be encouraged. And there are even better reasons to keep speaking and acting for the unborn: Human life is precious, God’s glory is great, and God’s grace saves sinners like us to love life instead of death.

Nov 3

Response to Hurricane Sandy – Helping Local Churches

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Miscellaneous

The following was posted to the DSC Missions Blog earlier this week. Click here to subscribe to the Missions Blog. 

***

As you know, Hurricane Sandy has made a devastating impact on the Northeastern part of the U.S.  Relief is already being mobilized by organizations like Red Cross and World Vision, and we would encourage folks in our body to contribute to those organizations as you are willing and able.

However, when it comes to DSC Missions funds, the elders have decided to focus designated funds given to DSC to sister churches in the immediate area impacted by this natural disaster. Our hope and prayer is that as these churches, who likely won’t have denominational support to help them out, will be able to minister to their own body of believers, as well as those in their area who are in need. We are already working to contact churches we know about in the area to see how they have been impacted.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  (Galatians 6:10 ESV)

If you feel compelled to give, please do so using a missions envelope at the church and designating it “Disaster Relief.” Or, you can also give via the church’s online giving here listed under “Disaster Relief.”

Please especially be in prayer for believers in this area that God will use them and the church to rise up after this disaster with hope amid certain despair. May the believers cry out with Paul as he says:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)