God’s Wisdom

Brothers and Sisters,

I do hope you have found 1 Corinthians to be both encouraging and challenging.  Sunday we explored (click here to listen) how God’s wisdom is witnessed in perceived weakness.  What the world perceives is weak and foolish about God is actually the power of God.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).  AMEN!

 

Sunday Studies

This Sunday (Sept 22nd) we will start a new Sunday Study called Our Life Together.  If you have never attended a Sunday Study, let me take this moment to encourage you to mark your calendar and plan on attending.  This particular study will be a great first experience to Sunday Studies and a fantastic way to see what they are designed to accomplish.  If you want to know more about Sunday Studies, click here to read a description and see below for an explanation to this Sunday’s Study.

Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the foundation for unity, not only with God but also with God’s people. This unity is so distinct that Jesus based the credibility of his mission upon it. In this class, we will discuss how to preserve and enjoy harmony in the church, enabling us by God’s grace to be the type of church everyone longs for. 

The “Why” of Disciple-Makers

Brothers and Sisters,

What a beautiful Sunday we shared as a church family.  Our series in 1 Corinthians is providing us with great insight into our lives together as the church; as a local gathering of believers.  Click here to hear yesterday’s sermon.

Last Wednesday, I shared the reason why we will be a church that pushes discipleship through 1-1 bible reading.  So, for those that missed, I have provided that talk below.  Just push play and listen.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

Measures of Health (Part 3)

Church Family,

This post is the final installment on our discussion of measures of a healthy church.  The last measure we use to determine health is a willingness to share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

God has and will always care about all nations (Ps 96).  Our Duty (Matt 9:35-38, Matt 28:16-20, 2 Cor 5:14-15, Rom 1:16, 10:17, 1 Peter 3:15) as Christians is to willingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know him.  We acknowledge that sin must be dealt with for ourselves and others to live fully (John 10:10).  Sin has utterly and entirely ruined man; therefore, humanity needs a Savior (John 6:44-45, Rom 2:29, 3:1-20, 5:12-21, 1 Cor 15:22, Titus 3:5).  It is no small thing to consider the far-reaching effects of sin on the world around us, and we deeply desire to give an adequate response that actually works; Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.  The follower of Jesus will arm themselves with the gospel (Eph 6:17) to go and free sinners who are enslaved; to cut the cords of bondage caused by our sin (Heb 12:1-3)!

We are not only compelled to share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ because of the devastating effects of sin but because the entire storyline of the bible has pointed towards Jesus (Gen 3:15, 12:3, Ps 2, 110, Matt 1:21-23, Gal 3).  He is the common thread throughout all scripture that brings God’s Kingdom on earth, that redeems God’s people, and fulfills all of God’s promises.  Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah who creates peace between us and God (Rom 5:1).  The point of scripture is to exalt Jesus, so we too want to exalt Jesus.

As we have done in previous posts (here and here), though not comprehensive, these are great ways to observe in each other this measure:

  • A growing esteem for Jesus Christ
  • Leverage everything for gospel work
  • Heart focused 
  • Compassion for the nations
  • Sensitivity towards the less fortunate

 

Disciple-Makers

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our informational meeting on September 4th at 6:30 pm.  Click here to read more and to register and let us know you are coming.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Measures of Health (Part 2)

Brothers and Sisters,

This week we will discuss our second measure of health: Love others sacrificially.

In the same conversation (discussed last week) where Jesus was asked to summarize the entire law, he gives a second command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18 /Matt 22:39 / Mark 12:31 / Luke 10:27b / Rom. 13:9 / Gal. 5:14 / James 2:8).  As you can see the multiple references from Old to New Testament, loving others sacrificially should most certainly identify the people of God.  The people of God have been so radically loved that enables them to love radically.  Notice the extent to which we are called to love others; like ourselves.  There is hardly a day that goes by that we do not consider what is best for us; this is how we are to think of others.  

If we are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, then we are, as he did, to love others sacrificially in order to see them love him.  After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).  This sacrificial love does not only extend to the “one another’s” of scripture but those who are outside a relationship with Jesus (Col 3:5-6 / Titus 3:14).

As God’s people become healthy, inevitably it will work its way out into our daily relationships.  Though not comprehensive, here are some ways to see health in a local gathering:

  • Love for our immediate neighbors
  • Frequent time in prayer for others
  • A willingness to extend forgiveness
  • Gracious and generous
  • Involved in discipleship

 

Disciple-Makers

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our informational meeting on September 4th at 6:30 pm.  Click here to read more and to register and let us know you are coming.

Disciple-Makers Class

Church Family,

This past Sunday, we announced that on Wednesday, September 4th we will have an information night about our first ever Disciple-Makers Class. Disciple-Makers is designed to help equip and encourage a follower of Christ to fulfill their responsibility of making disciples.  It is a two-semester course that covers a variety of foundational beliefs, efficient ways to read Scripture with believers and non-believers, and the ins and outs of how we change.  On average, it will require about 30-45 minutes of reading each week before the class.  Then, each Wednesday from 6:30pm-8pm, there will be discussion and practice reading Scripture with others.

If there was anything on our church calendar that better communicates our heart-beat, it is this class.  We are deeply passionate about God’s Word and letting it permeate our life together, especially in discipleship.  Discipleship means helping each other to know and follow God more. We strive to intentionally be in each other’s lives so that we can build healthy, transparent relationships to help one another have greater faith in Christ.  But if we are honest, that is not easy!  There is great anxiety we feel when trying to understand and to communicate the truths of Scripture to one another.  This often paralyzes us to do nothing.  Here at Light in the Desert Church, we want to ease that anxiety by training us all to handle God’s Word well and how to deal with tough issues that will inevitably come up when we open our lives to each other.  Mark your calendars and plan on being here on September 4th at 6:30 pm.

Please register below so we can be prepared with packets and books!

 

Disciple-Makers Class

Measures of Health (Part 1)

Church Family,

Last week we posed the question of, “What are proper measures that a church, primarily the people, are becoming healthy?”  Another way to put it is, “How are we going to measure the mission God has given us to make disciples?”  It is that focus that will drive a series of three posts in the coming weeks.  This week we start with our first measure; Love God Supremely.

When Jesus was asked to summarize the entire law, which was supposed to guide the people of God, he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Deut 6:4-5 / Matt 22:37 / Mark 12:30 / Luke 10:27). Jesus, in essence, is saying that the most important thing about a follower of God is that he/she love God supremely. This threefold love is with mind, soul, and heart—all of oneself is to love God. To be the people of God is be people marked by a deep love and affection for him. (Rom 12:11).

A follower of God is called to find their greatest delight in the Lord (Ps 16:11, 37:4 / Phil 4:4). From the Old Testament to the New Testament, scriptures instruct us to see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit as most enjoyable above all other pursuits. Light in the Desert Church wants to see all who gather here long for God more than earthly pleasures. Much like the parable Jesus told about a man who found a treasure in a field and then in joy went and sold all he had to purchase that field (Matt 13:44). The treasure was Jesus; what he sold was earthly pursuits.

When God becomes our treasure, it radically reorients our lives and places our greatest love and affection on Him.  Though not comprehensive, a love for God supremely will work its way out in our lives through:

  • A growing esteem for Jesus
  • Living a life of repentance
  • Interest in theology and doctrine
  • Deep devotion to the Word of God

Brothers and Sisters, these are great measures that we, the church, are getting healthy!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

Resources for further reading:

Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 53-71.

Jonathan Edwards, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God

Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000)

Slow growth is good growth

Brothers and Sisters,

In a world of drive-thrus and Amazon Prime, we have grown rather impatient.  We can, at times (especially in a replant), believe that growth should only focus on money and numbers, and it should happen quickly.  We are such an impatient people that when things do not work “right away,” we tend to either think something is wrong with us individually, or the leadership is out of touch, or the people who make up the church are unwilling.  Now, there might be a measure of truth in those things, but, more than likely, it is God’s grace.  Slow growth is good growth.  It is sustainable and humbling.  Pride does not get out of hand, and self-reliance is not possible over the long haul.  Much like the Palo Verde tree; it grows quickly, and we enjoy its shade, but when the first burst of wind comes…it is gone!  So we can put out quick shade and have people marvel at its coolness, or we can build a strong foundation that will stand a lifetime.  We want a strong foundation and the measures of that, are often different than what gets the most attention.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will explore the measures of a healthy church in several separate blog post.  Keep your eyes open for them and be in prayer that we would continue to become a healthy church.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Prospective Members Class

We have our quarterly Prospective Members Class coming up this Saturday, August 10, from 8am-12pm. This class is designed to give a thorough look at what we believe, what is a church and why join, and lastly, cover all the nuts and bolts of LIght in the Desert Church.  The class is an informative conversation about the Bible’s perspective on “all things church” and helps us understand how theology meets everyday life.  If you have never attended one (or if you have!), mark your calendar and plan on attending.

To read more about our membership process, click here.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Sunday Studies

 

Brothers and Sisters,

This week we will start a new Sunday Study, so I thought I would take a few minutes and explain them.  Sunday Studies are designed to tackle tough theological and cultural issues with a desire to help us love God supremely, love others sacrificially, and share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples.  They are typically seven weeks in length, and anyone can jump in at any time without hesitation.  So mark your calendar for 9 am every Sunday to join us for thoughtful discussions.  As you come in the foyer, grab a cup of coffee and donut, and meet us in Room 204.

Who Am I? (Aug 4 – Sept 15)

Who am I?  Three simple words, yet many of us spend our entire lives seeking an answer to them.  We tend to think of identity as what we own, what we do, or what’s been done to us, but do those things really represent the essence of identity?  In this series, we will explore identity at its deepest and most significant levels.  An inadequate understanding of identity leads to ruin, but a proper estimation of self inspires a joy-filled, God-honoring life.

Our Life Together (Sept 22 – Nov 3)

Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the foundation for unity, not only with God but also with God’s people. This unity is so distinct that Jesus based the credibility of his mission upon it. In this class, we will discuss how to preserve and enjoy harmony in the church, enabling us by God’s grace to be the type of church everyone longs for. 

Evangelism: Who? What? Why? (Nov 10 – Dec 22)

Evangelism is where God’s people declare the gospel of Jesus Christ with the aim to persuade others.  In this endeavor, many get overwhelmed with the “how” and focus much energy on perfecting the mechanism, that they end up doing nothing. Do we really have the power within ourselves to save people?  Join us as we explore the ins and outs of Evangelism to fuel compassion and urgency.   

Core Values

Brothers and Sisters,

Healthy churches put into succinct statements what they feel are most important to the local gathering. It helps to direct God’s people and maintain health by staying focused on the main things. Take a minute and read the Core Values we hold dearly here at Light in the Desert Church.

Gospel-centered

The gospel is the ‘good news’ that God has graciously provided a way for sinful people to have a right, loving relationship with Him. He left heaven, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died in our place. Miraculously He rose from the dead to demonstrate victory over sin, death, and the devil — all who in repentance turn from their sin and in faith confess Jesus as their Lord are given eternal life. The on-going aspect of salvation will continue for the rest of a person’s life; therefore, the gospel is for every day.

Bible-believing

Scripture is our authoritative guide for all we believe and do. It is the centerpiece of all our gatherings and drives our life together. Because of this core value, we make it a regular habit to teach through books of the Bible during our Sunday gathering.

Discipleship-driven

Discipleship means helping each other to know and follow God more. We strive to intentionally be in each other’s lives so that we can build healthy, transparent relationships to help one another have greater faith in Christ.

Outward focused

As the gospel increasingly changes us, we strive to make an impact on the world around us and share the hope of Jesus that we so desperately depend on, to all peoples. We yearn to engage people in spiritual conversations, demonstrate the love of Christ through acts of mercy, and live in such a way that God will draw people to salvation through our words and deeds. We will leverage all we have to accomplish our mission.

Generationally-diverse

We are a generationally diverse area, and therefore, we should be a generationally diverse local gathering. Not only should we reflect our community, but the Bible places emphasis on all generations investing in each other. We need each other to remain faithful to God. The church needs wisdom from faithful men and women who have weathered the storms of difficulty, and the fresh energy of youth to accomplish the call of Titus 2.