New Year

Church Family,

I do hope the holidays were enjoyable, refreshing, and a time of deep reflection upon Christ.  I heard from many of you that our season of Advent was a fruitful time of considering all that God the Father has done through God the Son.  I trust you are still finding God’s grace as sweet as you did then.

With the New Year upon us and our emphasis on prayer, I am excited about what 2020 will hold for us here at Light in the Desert Church.  We all long to see the Lord move in tremendous ways in our life together and in gospel impact in the community.  Though exciting, it will at times be clouded with discouragement.  This is natural as we all desire to be used by God for His glory, so when things are not where we want them to be, it can bring our souls down.  So, below is an article I think will help give each of us a good focus when those times come; when the church is not turned around as quickly as we like.  Read, reflect, and pick one of the eight things to do this week.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

8 Ways to Turn Your Church Around

Was your church meeting disappointing this week? Do you find that there seems to be little life in the church? Are there troubles stirring? Are there way too many parking lot conversations? What can you do as a member to make things better?

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Have you considered what prayer might do? Divide up the church names and pray for some of the members each day. Pray diligently, begging God for the needs that you can detect. Don’t underestimate prayer. God can do what you will never be able to accomplish on your own.

2. Be hospitable. Ask people each Sunday to come to your home for a meal. Let these couple of families bring some of the food to make it possible. Don’t try to be fancy, but just provide an outlet for people to show love to each other. Encourage other people to do the same. Bring families and singles together who don’t normally spend time with each other.

3. Arrive early to greet everyone there. Don’t sit down until each person has been greeted warmly. Try to have some meaningful discussion with some. I’m always amazed at what just a few people can do by taking responsibility in this way.

4. Meet with the pastor(s) and find out how you can help the church become what God wants it to be. Be eager to help. Offer your time.

5. If someone comes to you to point out the weaknesses of others, don’t listen. Rather, lovingly encourage that person to go to the offending party to get things talked out. Unresolved friction is alike an arctic blast to a church.

6. Don’t quit until you’re dead. Never say, “I’ll let the young people do it.” God may shift you to another responsibility, but don’t let it be because you are slowing down. Continue to play an active part. If some of the parts of your body still work, use them to serve God and His church.

7. Don’t wait until some leader assigns you a ministry; rather, create your ministry and get to work. Don’t expect everyone to take up your cause, but do something that will help the church or reach out to others that doesn’t compete with other regular ministries. Go to the nursing home, disciple younger people, start a prayer group, start a Bible reading group, begin a Bible study at work or at the local hangout. You get the idea.

8. Finally, replace gossip with the giving of thanks. Be a person who always has something wonderful to thank God for. Speak well of your church.

I have observed the effects one or two people can have on their church. It always stuns me, but it is true that just a few can make such a difference.

Jim Elliff is President of Christian Communicators Worldwide (ccwtoday.org) and a pastor of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City (christfellowshipkc.org).

Advent Thinking

Church Family,

With the second Sunday of Advent behind us (listen here), I would like to encourage us all not to get swept up in the season as to miss its formative impact.  If you are like me, you love the sights, sounds, get-togethers, food, and songs that fill the air during this month.  Though wonderful, those things can capture our attention more than intended and keep us from experiencing the full person of Christ and miss his work on the cross. So, to encourage us to have thoughtful “Advent Thinking,” below is a beautiful article written in the style of C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.  This captures our tendencies to make this season about unhelpful, and in the end, distracting things.  Click the title below, read it and reflect on its sobering exposure of our habit of making a good thing less good.

 

A Lost Screwtape Letter (Dated in December)

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Advent Readings

Brothers and Sisters,

I do hope your Thanksgiving holiday was full of joy and rest!  We started our season of Advent last Sunday (listen here).  It was an encouraging time of reminding ourselves through the Gospel of Matthew that God had been orchestrating all of human history towards the first Christmas morning.  In doing so, He generates an unshakeable hope rooted in the God-man.  Glorious indeed!

Alongside our Sunday Gathering, we are encouraging everyone to read a little devotional thought each day of December (click here to see and download the resource for free).  The readings are extremely helpful in leveraging this time of the year to consider the good news of Christmas.  So read, reflect, pray, and rejoice!  But if you have kiddos, you might find that the readings are hard to understand for them.  As we read the focus for December 1, my son said, “Dad, I am only seven, so I don’t understand what you are saying.”  I so appreciated the honesty!  We talked through the devotion and broke it down into tangible pieces that he and his sister could digest.  It took a little extra time, but it was worth it!  Be encouraged parents, as the old saying goes, “more is caught than taught.”  So keep at it, and in doing so, you are instilling in your child a love for the Word of God.  As the reading pointed out, “If you are excited about Christ, they will be too.”[1]

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

[1] John Piper, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2013), p 10

Advent

Church Family,

Yesterday was a glorious day of reflecting upon God’s grace that is so evident in our individual lives and certainly in our life together here at Light in the Desert Church.  From our Sunday Gathering (listen here) to our Thanksgiving Meal, the Lord truly encouraged us all!  I often think of Philippians 1:3-6 when I think about LITDC.  I am confident the Lord will continue to do great work in our midst.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 

Advent

We will begin this coming Sunday, December 1, a season of reflection called “Advent.”  With that said, perhaps it would be wise to explain what the purpose of Advent is and why we are participating.

As a church family, we want to leverage the month of December, which can quickly turn hectic, to think and reflect on the coming of Christ.  That is what “Advent” means; to come.  So Advent is the season, taken up by the four Sundays before Christmas, we reflect upon Christ’s first coming and anticipate his second coming.  So as we wait, we prepare our hearts and become thankful for his coming in a manger and anticipate his coming on the clouds.  

Each Sunday will take up a theme (see schedule below) that defines the people of God that is only possible through the God-man’s birth.  Along with our Sunday gathering, we are encouraging daily readings together with your families that will center your thoughts on Christ.  If you did not receive that resource this past Sunday, we have a few more, but here is a link to a free downloadable PDF.  Advent will build each Sunday and culminate at our Christmas Eve Gathering.  Imagine what the Lord can do when his people center their affections upon Christ and give him an undivided devotion.

  • December 1 – Hope | Matt 1-4, 2:13-14
  • December 8 – Peace | Luke 1:26-38
  • December 15 – Joy | Luke 1:39-55
  • December 22 – Love | Luke 2:1-7
  • December 24 – Christ | Luke 2:8-20 (Christmas Eve Gathering 4pm-5pm)

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Christmas Help

Church Family,

What a great Sunday together as we gathered around God’s Word.  I do hope that 1 Corinthians has been encouraging to you all.  If you missed yesterday, click here to listen.  Remember, brothers and sisters, our status in Christ is far greater than our external circumstances!

 

Christmas Help

Yesterday we made everyone aware of an incredible opportunity to provide for a family who is in need.  Traditionally, Light in the Desert Church has adopted families from Jefferson Elementary School to purchase gifts for them during Christmas.  This year we have been asked to go beyond gifts.  We have been asked to help a family who was homeless with essentials for their new home.  Below is a list of the bigger items that you might have at home, and still in good working order, that you might consider donating to the family.  If you have any of these items, fill out the form below and let us know what you have.

  • Dresser to store clothes
  • Dining Table with chairs
  • Plates (different sizes)
  • Cups and glasses
  • Cutlery
  • Pots and pans
  • Beds for Kids (bunk beds)
  • Television

 

Christmas Help Donation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Life Groups

Church Family,

I want to take a few minutes to explain and encourage you to consider Life Groups.  To fulfill the mission of the church, which is to make disciples, we need to be strategic and straightforward in our approach.  That is why we have simplified our discipleship process by thinking through three crucial areas in the life of the church; large gatherings, small gatherings, and 1-1.  This simple discipleship process captures all the various relationships one should pursue in the church.  We believe that if an individual any given week were to be a part of our Sunday Gathering, a Life Group, and at different times 1-1 bible reading, then our chances of fulfilling the mission of the church is much more likely.  We must ensure all those areas are adequately resourced so that discipleship can and does happen. This might be new to many who have experienced a more program-driven approach; and, therefore, make the transitions as we implement new things a little bumpy.  In light of that, It is wise to give as much clarity on the “why” of different ministry efforts.  Let me give you a few details on Life Groups and hopefully show its effectiveness in making disciples.

What?

A smaller gathering of our church family in a home to share a meal with the aim of letting God’s Word change us.

Why?

“Why” is a crucial question to consider in any ministry effort.  Ministry often focuses on one of the following: head, heart, and hands.  Head knowledge about God, the Bible, Jesus, our Salvation, etc. is crucial for any disciple of Jesus to pursue a life of joy and holiness.  Though true, that knowledge must change us.  It is not intended to stay in our minds but move towards our hearts to change us at our very core.  Therefore, changing our actions, our hands.  We believe the best way to take our head knowledge (the typical focus of the Sunday Gathering) and let it work on our hearts and hands, is in smaller gatherings, hench Life Groups.  A Life Group does more than impart knowledge and establish community; it aims to apply the gospel to our lives and help other believers do the same.

How?

We believe the most strategic way to structure these groups is simply by making them generationally diverse.  Being generationally diverse helps us accomplish what Paul asked Titus to do in Titus 2, and not to mention the wealth of knowledge and experience different generations can learn from one another.

Next Step

If you are interested, let us know…really, that’s it!

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Good Bible Reading Resources

Church Family,

As we become more and more dependent on God’s Word to be our authoritative guide, there is a need to “study well” to mine the gold that exists in God’s very word to us.  By God’s grace, there are wonderful resources that we can use to be drawn into the living and active scriptures (Heb 4:12).  Below is a list of resources I have found extremely helpful over the years.  I have separated them into resources that are geared towards head knowledge (understanding the text and all its technical aspects), and heart knowledge (taking the understanding into our hearts for transformation).

Head

Gordon Fee, Reading the Bible for all its Worth

ESV Study Bible

New Bible Dictionary (to look up key theological terms)

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (to look up key theological themes)

There are many online resources and programs for diving into specific words

Heart

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading: an ancient way of reading scripture to aid transformation)

One-to-One Bible Reading

Seven Arrows

Prayer Team

Church Family,

Sunday was yet another great day of reading God’s Word, singing God’s Word, praying God’s Word, and preaching God’s Word.  1 Corinthians reminded us that maturity makes us mindful of the cross in all of life.  We must never lose sight of the cross of Christ; it is for all of life.  If you missed this past Sunday, click here to listen to the message.  Also, click here to read the article I referenced during Sunday’s message.

Prayer Team

Calling all prayer warriors!  We want to strengthen our prayers for one another and provide a good avenue for you to make us aware of your needs.  We intend to continue using the Connection Cards to gather prayer needs and then pass them along to a team of individuals who will saturate those needs in prayer.  Let me know if you are interested in being a part of this team or sign up in the foyer at the welcome desk.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

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