Praying the Psalms

Brothers and Sisters,

When I first became a Christian at the age of 13, I found myself drawn to the Psalms for comfort and direction. One of the reasons I found myself there, often, was that I could see every heart emotion in its pages and how God’s people respond to those emotions. It captures the prayer life of God’s people in every season of their emotional life, good or bad. The Psalms give direction on how to cry out to God in any season. With that said, it is wise for God’s people to use this ancient prayer book for our prayers today. Click on the link below to read a sample of how to pray the Psalms.

How to Pray a Psalm

Grace and Peace, Pastor Bryan

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.

Prayer | A Necessity

Prayer | A Necessity

Over the past couple of weeks, God has been directing us toward and encouraging us to pray.  This is not surprising if you consider our time in Mark–week after week we sense Jesus calling us to deeper waters of faith.  Even more specifically, calling us towards prayers of faith that produce fruit pleasing in His sight (see sermon from Mark 11:20-25).

Prayer is significant in the life of God’s people and neglecting it would prove disastrous.  Consider this analogy taken from Tim Keller’s book on prayer:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine—a pill every night before going to sleep.  Imagine that you were told that you could never miss it or you would die.  Would you forget? Would you not get around to it some nights?  No—it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss…We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.[1]

Brothers and Sisters, Light in the Desert Church must pray and pray often.  As we continue the work of replanting, we must seek God through prayer to grow more and more dependent on Him.

We are not alone believing that prayer is essential for the work God has called us to do here at Light in the Desert Church.  The wisdom of many others consistently suggests that prayer is the essential element that continued the work and fueled the passion behind their efforts of replanting.  One such pastor said, “If you don’t cry out to God in consistent, passionate prayer, you won’t replant a church.”[2]

These points and God’s word compels us to be in focused prayer for Light in the Desert Church.  Prayer is the means by which we experience God and grow in intimacy.  It does not neglect our pursuit of right theology but helps us “experience [our] theology.”[3]  In the end we want to be a people familiar with our God who have a deep intimacy with Him.  This is the only way forward in seeing Light in the Desert Church become a place used by God to display His glory.

How do you get involved?  We’ve created a simple prayer guidea monthly cycle of focused prayer, one for each week of the month, on things we sense God is doing here in our midst.  Click the link, download the prayer guide, and pray…it’s that easy!

 

[1]Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, (New York: Penguin Group, 2014), 9-10.

[2]Mark Clifton, Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2016), 55.

[3]Keller, Prayer, 17.

The Membership Process

The Membership Process

We are excited about what God is doing and celebrate his grace in our lives at Light in the Desert. Lately, I’ve had many, deeply encouraging conversations with individuals pursuing membership.  Many have asked what the membership process is and why it is a process? Please take a few minutes to read the answer to that question below.

Membership within a local body of believers is essential to help us grow into mature followers of Christ. The bible is vocal on these issues offering us insight on the who and what of the church.  Here at LITD, we have worked hard to let scripture guide our understanding of church and then let it drive our practice in becoming a member.  Therefore, we ask that an individual interested in membership would:

First, attend a Prospective Members Class.  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 LITD.  This class usually runs once a quarter on a Saturday from 8-12.  The class is an informative conversation about the Bible’s perspective on “all things church” and helps us understand how theology meets everyday life.

Second, someone pursuing membership would need to set up a Membership Talk with a leader.  Though this might sound intimidating, it is one of the more fruitful things we do around here.  This is a casual conversation designed to:

  • Hear your conversion story and rejoice with you
  • Answer any questions you have about the church
  • State agreement with our Statement of Faith and Church Covenant
  • Make you aware of service opportunities
  • See how we can better serve you

Third, the individual would prepare their testimony to share at the next members’ meeting.  This is designed to encourage the body by seeing God’s grace on display and help us serve each other better by understanding what each individual has endured throughout life.  We deeply desire to be a local gathering that consistently practices the “one another’s” of scripture and sharing our testimonies is our best effort in accomplishing the ongoing help we all need from one another. Once the testimony is prepared, then it would be shared at a members’ meeting to be formally received into membership.

It is our desire that this process would reflect a biblical perspective of the local gathering and, most importantly, bring a body of believers together who glorify God by making disciples who love God supremely, love others sacrificially, and share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

Membership

Membership

Our first every Prospective Members Class was a huge success.  We had an incredible time discussing our beliefs about God and the Church and then looking at a biblical perspective of membership.  The conversation was fruitful and deeply encouraging.  I trust that all who attended left with a sense of joy at what God is doing in our midst.

Though the Bible never specifically uses the term membership, there is still a strong emphasis in scripture on identifying with God through a local gathering of believers.  As one scholar put it, “The case for church membership is nowhere argued in the New Testament but everywhere assumed.”*  Since the scriptures place so much emphasis on the gathering of believers and our life together, then we here at LITD want to do the same.  This is why we rejoice at the many individuals who attended the Prospective Members Class.

If you are interested in becoming a member please contact any of our leaders.

 

*John Hammett, “The Why and Who of Church Membership” in Baptist Foundations ed. Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2015), 169.

Next Step

Next Step

It was exciting to see everyone this past Sunday at our Vision Meeting as we celebrated God’s grace.  Much has occurred since our initial meeting in January where we discussed the potential of partnering with the North American Mission Board.  We hope it was encouraging to all who attended to hear the latest update on that partnership.

Alongside the many joyous things God has already done the past three months, there is much more excitement ahead as we take next steps in our replant.  The most crucial and first next step is for all current members, and anyone who is interested, to attend our first every Prospective Members Class.  This class will be offered on May 19th at 8:30 am to 12 noon.  Breakfast, lunch, and childcare will be provided.  We are encouraging everyone to mark their calendars and make time to attend this class.

Attending the Prospective Members Class is our most crucial step because it will build a more healthy and unified LITD.  Unity will be critical as we continue to push forward in reaching our surrounding community.  Churches for centuries have always set out to unify themselves in Christ through agreed upon statements of faith, expectations for believers, and establishing how they can serve each other.  These things breed unity among diverse people and keep the attention upon Christ rather than human means.  One cannot overestimate the importance of the next few months for us, so do make plans to attend the Prospective Members Class on May 19th!  Click here to sign up.

 

Replanting

Replanting

Light in the Desert (LITD) is a church that still exists by God’s grace alone. It has been his good pleasure to sustain us over the years during some tough and tumultuous times. There have been many days that the doors should have been shut and the church left to die. But God would not allow it to happen. He, despite the church’s lack of gospel growth, simply sustained us. Now it is time to join him in what he has been calling LITD to become; a church that thrives and is deeply committed to loving him supremely, loving others sacrificially, and sharing hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why the members of LITD have with joy decided to become a replant. This decision is driven by a sense of God’s movement here and throughout the entire United States to revive dying churches; to resurrect churches to a new life of gospel growth. Every Sunday 17 churches close their doors to never reopen (info). LITD refuses, by God’s grace, to let that happen and through surrendering to God’s authoritative word, He is beginning to breathe new life into us.

A replant is simply a decision to reclaim LITD for God’s glory by putting everything on the table to evaluate its biblical precedent and usefulness in making disciples. Replanting is about God’s glory being seen in something dead becoming alive. It positions our hearts back on Him asking what He wants for us and then radically committing to it. It inevitably means change.

LITD is not pushing forward in this replant alone. We are partnering with North American Mission Board (NAMB) for financial support and wisdom. NAMB is an extremely important and helpful partnership that has years of experience in planting and replanting local churches. But our partnerships don’t end there. Church on Mill in Tempe, AZ. has agreed to be our sending church. This partnership brings with it a commitment to pray, help, and provide encouragement and guidance to us along the way (more info here). LITD is overwhelmed with God’s grace in leading us towards replanting and supplying the necessary partnership to ensure our success.

These are exciting times, and we celebrate the work God is doing and will continue to do. Keep an eye on future post as we discuss our replant, the vision God is giving us here in Mesa, AZ., and the changes we sense God is leading us towards.