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Saturday, August 18, 2017

Archive for the The Church Category


Oct 31

Reformation Day

2017 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: The Church,Worship

It was 500 years ago.

In the year, 1517, in Wittenberg, Germany, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther had been studying and lecturing on Paul’s letter to the Romans. He became fearfully captivated by one word near the beginning of Romans: “in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed” (1:17). Luther later explained that he hated that phrase “righteousness of God,” for God’s righteousness, he thought, surely meant God’s righteous punishment of all unrighteous sinners. Knowing himself to be a sinner, he wrestled with “a fierce and troubled conscience” and “beat upon” the text to know what Paul meant.

At the same time Luther had another concern, but this one with increasing clarity. The Catholic Church had for many years sold indulgences. For a fee, one could pay-off the guilt and payment of sins. A new salesman of indulgences, Johann Tetzel, was creatively and aggressively making a bad practice worse. Luther had written against Tetzel’s tactics before, but now Tetzel was coming to Luther’s town of Wittenberg. So on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed to the church door Ninety-Five Theses meant to engender academic debate about such indulgences. At the time, no one could have anticipated—not even Luther himself—the reverberating effects of this moment. While many events, documents, and people were used of the Lord to bring about the Protestant Reformation, for 500 years the church has looked back to the nailing of Ninety-Five Theses upon the church door as a pivotal moment towards the recovery of the gospel.

While Luther’s concerns for indulgences grew in conviction and clarity, he continued to struggle with his own guilty conscience and how God’s righteousness could be good news (a gospel) for sinners. The “righteousness of God” in Romans 1:17 was of no comfort to him until the context made it clear: “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Like a lightning bolt, it hit him: God’s just-righteousness was a gift from God to those who believe; God’s just mercy is revealed in the gospel of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice. “Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light,” he wrote. “I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise through its open doors.” That word which Luther once hated—righteousness—had now come to be the source of all his hope and joy. In Romans, he later attested, there is the “very purest gospel; …every Christian should know it…[and] occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”

This is the essence of the Reformation. It’s what we celebrate today.

Aug 23

Programs, Busyness, and Faking God’s Work in the Church

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

Have you ever said to yourself, “Our church should have a program for that!”? Or maybe, “Our church has too many programs!”

Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us an important command: “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This command and others like it mean that we should make plans to be together. Yet programs aren’t ministry, and there are good reasons to guard against over-programming.

In this video from The Gospel Coalition Blog, Ryan Kelly interviews Ray Ortlund and Darrin Patrick about the dangers of over-programming in the church.

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

Jan 18

Why Church Membership?

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Community,The Church

DSC’s membership class, Knowing Christ, Knowing the Church (KCKC), is offered three times a year, and the spring session begins on Wednesday, February 1, from 6:30-8:30 PM.

Perhaps you are not a member at DSC and intentionally so. You aren’t certain membership is important for Christians or important for you specifically. Or maybe you are a member, but you’ve never really thought about what the Scriptures say about the nature of the church and our relationship to one another as Christians.

All of us could take church membership more seriously, and for that reason, Nine Marks ministries has a helpful video and summary in answer to the question, “What is church membership?”

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

In KCKC, we explore the foundation, nature, and purpose of what is at the heart of God, His Word, and God’s plan of salvation: the church of Jesus Christ. She has been purchased by the blood of Christ for a display of God’s glory.

Here are some of the questions we explore in the class:

  • What is the foundation of the church?
  • Why the church?
  • What is the church?
  • What does the church do; what are its purposes?
  • What are the distinctives here?
  • How does DSC operate; how is it led?
  • Why join a church and what does it mean?
  • How do I get involved?

For more information about DSC’s membership class, visit the KCKC Page. To sign up, fill out a Communication Card on Sunday, email info@desertspringschurch.org, or call the church office at 505.797.8700. This class is not just for those pursuing church membership, but for anyone interested in getting better acquainted with DSC or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Feb 11

State of the Communion: 2010 Highlight Video

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

Over the past week, we published a series of posts summarizing some of what God did in and through DSC in 2010. You can read the series on the blog (Part 1Part 2 and Part 3) or download and print out the full report. This was in coordination with Ryan’s series, Worship, Community, Mission.

In conclusion to this series, we showed this 2010 highlight video during last week’s service:

Nov 18

Making DSC Safe for Sad People

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: The Church

As Christians, we look forward with great hope to a day when suffering will no more, but we look forward to that day through the experience of suffering in this life, even great suffering.

In Romans 8:18, Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That doesn’t mean that the sufferings of this present time are no big deal, but that they will be eclipsed and made nothing one day when our redemption is complete. One day God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Until then, we live with the tears and pain that come with this age.

Collin Hanson recently interviewed Nancy Guthrie at The Gospel Coalition Blog in a post entitled, “Sad People, Safe Churches.” Of course, Nancy Guthrie was our speaker last week at DSC’s Women’s Conference (check back soon for audio from the conference). In the following two questions, Nancy addresses some of the practical needs of those who are hurting.

What’s the most helpful thing we can do for a fellow church member struggling through grief?

Grieving people have four primary needs that the church has a key role in addressing:

  1. They have intense sadness that is lonely and lingering that needs to be respected.
  2. They have significant questions that need to be addressed in light of Scripture.
  3. They have broken relationships that need to be healed and normalized.
  4. They have a deep desire to discover some meaning and purpose in their loss.

While we make room for people to be sad, we want to walk with people in expectation that God will indeed do a work of healing in their lives so that they do not stay stuck in their sadness, but emerge from it strengthened in their confidence in God, deepened in their understanding of the Scriptures, and equipped to serve others.

What are some common errors we make when trying to help someone going through a difficult time?

On a practical level, we say, “Just call me if I can help.” The truth is, when you’re going through a family crisis or grief, you don’t really want to have to keep asking for help or organize all of the help you need. To have someone assume the responsibility for organizing meals and other practical help is a great gift. Even better is the person figures out what is needed and simply says, “I’m coming over Wednesday morning to do your laundry.”

Sometimes we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing to someone who is hurting so we say nothing, adding to his or her hurt by ignoring it. Or we’re afraid that “bringing it up” will make the person sad, not realizing that our “bringing it up” actually allows that person to release some of the sadness they are already feeling.

On a spiritual level, I often hear Christian leaders or counselors say to the person who is grieving something like, “It’s okay to be angry with God. He can handle it.” I know they are trying to encourage authenticity before God and with other people, and that is worthwhile. But a church that is a safe place for sad people brings the truth to bear on the untruths and misunderstandings that serve as grounds for anger toward God rather than giving permission to hold on to or simply vent that anger.

Perhaps another mistake we make is assuming that people have grasped the sovereignty of God that has been preached from the pulpit. Often it is not until believers’ lives are shaken by circumstances or sorrow that they are finally ready to delve into deeper theological truths. As they are struggling to put together their understanding of a loving God with the God who allowed the accident or the illness, we have to be ready to talk through the implications of God’s sovereignty in very real terms. And usually it is not one conversation that settles this, but must be a series of conversations, giving time for these deep truths to settle in.

So, of all the places on this earth, the church should be a place for sad people suffering loss, because we are a people who can be honest with the reality of loss in this life. After all, we have a Savior who lived and suffered a thoroughly human life (Hebrews 5:15). Go here to read the whole article, here for Ryan’s recent sermon from Hebrews 5:15, “A Sympathetic Savior,” and here for a list of Nancy’s books.