We are ones who must…

Church Family,

I pray and hope the last two weeks have been profoundly encouraging to you all as we have been exploring Romans eight.  It has been described this way, “We are not dealing here with mere theology. As Paul wrote, his pen gave evidence that he was caught up in an experience of profound worship and spiritual adoration.”[1]  Others have said that it is “profound in theology, soaring in eloquence, and thrilling in impact.”[2]  It is a great and encouraging word for us in these times that we live.  Last Sunday, we were reminded that our debt is not to the flesh/sin, but Christ, not to repay, but to enjoy all the benefits of His work on the cross.  We are ones who must battle sin, stay hopeful, enjoy God, pour ourselves out, disciple others, and a host of other joys; because we can!

 

Jefferson Elementary School

As many of you know, we have established a long-term partnership with Jefferson Elementary to help in any way.  We’ve asked what they need in light of the unusual beginning to the school year.  They indicated that school supplies would be best because teachers are making up bags to give to the students.  So starting this Sunday, we will be collecting supplies in the foyer.  See the list below:

  • crayons
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpeners
  • spiral notebooks
  • highlighters
  • erasers
  • colored pencils

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

[1]  Robert H. Mounce, Romans (vol. 27; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 174.

[2] From the forward by Sinclair Ferguson for Derek  W. H. Thomas, How The Gospel Brings Us All The Way Home, (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2011), xi.

Biblical Gray Hair

Church Family,

I hope you all are well.  As our series in Proverbs comes to a close, I pray you have been encouraged, strengthened, and convicted.  Proverbs has spoken in direct terms and given us a lot to consider when it comes to everyday life.  This past Sunday was no exception.   Aging is something we all endure and cannot escape.  Get as many surgeries as you like, put on as much product as you can, or work out as often as you like, you simply cannot avoid aging.  Unfortunately, millions of dollars are spent to overcome something the bible says we should embrace with joy.  Aging does bring new realities and complications, but it should not be hated.  Proverbs tells us that aging brings with it an opportunity to see our impact on the lives of those who are close to us (Proverbs 17:6).  It brings with it a moment to pour out the wisdom we have gained (biblical gray hair!) through pursuing righteousness (Proverbs 16:31, 20:29).  As we concluded on Sunday, one thing is clear; aging is a process the Lord uses to create greater dependency in our hearts for him and creates greater strength for others.  Whether you are 20 or 60, age in such a way that you grow in dependence upon the Lord and that you become a spring of strength to others around you.

Members Meeting

If you are a member, mark your calendar for July 26th at 6:30 pm.  We will be having a Members Meeting to receive several new members and update everyone on how COVID-19 has impacted us.  There will be two ways for you to engage, 1) in person at the church building and 2) through Zoom.  I will be sending out a Zoom link next week for those who want to use Zoom.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Sunday (July 12, 2020)

Church Family,

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that we will be on the regular schedule we’ve had for the last several weeks.  We will gather in person at 10 am with all the same restrictions in place.  We will continue to provide a Livestream on Facebook.  If you are more comfortable engaging online, feel free to do so with all our support.  If you do, let us know you are watching by saying hello in the comments feed.  If you feel sick, please make use of the Livestream and stay home and rest up.

 

If you have not checked out our podcast Beyond the Sermon, let me encourage you to click here and check out our latest episode.  It explores justice and mercy and all its complexities.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Justice

Church Family,

I do hope you all are having a great week thus far.  This past Sunday, we explored the complex issue of justice.  Proverbs provide a lot for us to consider when thinking about justice and injustice.  We all have within us a sense of right and wrong, and when that is violated, we desire justice.  We long for the wrong to be put right and for the right to be celebrated and upheld.  That is what Proverbs precisely puts before us; to do right and fight for the rights of others (Pr 1:3, 31:8-9).  The beauty of justice is that when it is guarded and given, mercy results in that evil is dealt with (Pr 20:8), abuse will cease (Pr 22:10), and rights are protected (Pr 29:7, 31:8-9).  We, as God’s people, should be marked by justice and mercy, for this is at the heart of the gospel (1 Jn 2:1-1).

As we stated on Sunday, we will continue with our current modifications for July.  We will also continue to provide a live stream on Facebook for those who are vulnerable and for those who feel more comfortable staying home.

Lastly, with no end in sight and loads of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out.  You are not alone in your fears, frustrations, and weariness.  God’s good gift to us is each other, so reach out to one another and pray, read God’s Word, and spend time catching up.  If you feel particularly overwhelmed with anxiety, let’s chat.  There are excellent resources out there that I would love to put into your hands, and, more than anything, let’s explore God’s Word together and let His truths comfort us most.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Gracious Words

Church Family,

For many of us, these days are best described as a roller coaster.  Each day brings new information that brings new difficulties.  This often causes a weariness that begins to influence our hope and faith.  In times like this, it is essential to listen to the words of God more than news feeds and our anxieties.  Isaiah 40:28-30 reminds us that God does not grow weary and will give strength to his people as they cling tightly to him. As we discussed on Sunday, words are important; not only is it wise for us to use our tongue wisely but also to listen to truthful words from God’s tongue (Proverbs 16:24).

UPDATE:

With how rapidly things change, please stay tuned to our news blog and Facebook for the latest updates.  The Leadership Team and I are wading through the information as we receive it to evaluate our in-person Sunday gathering.

 

Check out episode three below of our Beyond the Sermon Podcast where I talk with Jared Whitehurst about our words.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Honey to Vomit

Church Family,

Sunday was yet another enjoyable time together, though it was full of elements we don’t necessarily like to have in place.  As we continue to make our way through Proverbs, be prepared to have the Lord stir our hearts toward greater depths of holiness in our actions.  The second half of this series will challenge and convict us all as we let God’s Word expose areas in our life that need to be adjusted, such as this past Sunday’s topic of self-control.  As we learned on Sunday, we tend to turn honey into vomit when we lack restraint (Proverbs 25:16).  So it is necessary, at times, to reflect on the places you turn a good thing into a destructive thing.  Immediate gratification is the gold standard around us, but wisdom tells us to put up walls that will help provide restraint; that will impede an immediate fulfillment of a desire.  The beauty of it all is that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit, meaning we can practice restraint, in as much we depend on God the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24).

 

These are crazy days, and with each new day, there seems to be another issue, tragedy, or further uncertainty with COVID-19 that rocks us to our core.  It can feel overwhelming and cause us to wane in our faith and weaken our trust in God’s sovereign care.  This is when prayer becomes essential to bring comfort and renewed trust in God.  Join us this Wednesday, June 24, at 6:30 pm for a prayer gathering through zoom.  We will have several points to pray about and many issues to pray over. If you have not used zoom, simply click on the link provided below, and it should walk you through the necessary steps to get set-up. The link for this gathering is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84139182167

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Gathering This Sunday June 21, 2020

Church Family,

I am looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow morning.  Last week was such an encouragement, and I trust it will be the same this week.  As you look forward to gathering, watch this video about a couple of changes for this week.  All precautions we made last week will still be in place with a couple of adjustments.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Reflections on our Regathering

Church Family,

Sunday was a joyous day as we got to see, interact, and hear each other again.  Nothing is more encouraging than the voices of God’s people declaring His truths with one collective voice.  Here are some reflections from our regathering:

  1. We really missed each other!  There is no doubt that we love each other very much.  Watching us all fight the urge to run up and hug each other was beautiful to see.  It is evident, by God’s grace, that we are a church family that really does care for one another.  It was good to see you all.
  2. The gathered body is way more significant than we often think!  If you are like me, you know that when we gather, it is a significant moment for us.  With that said, this past Sunday reminded me just how important it is to be together.  I was more encouraged and strengthened by our gathering than I anticipated.  It is the place we truly get to, “…taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalms 34:8)  We taste and see that the Lord is good in the praises of God’s people.  That’s actually the context of Psalms 34, and it was evident on Sunday.
  3. Engagement during the restrictions will have big dividends moving forward!  Because of the effort many put into staying connected, it was as if we had not missed a beat.  I am grateful for the things we were able to do while apart, it is going to help us move forward quicker.
  4. Let’s work hard to protect each other!  The desire to be together cannot cause us to soften or forget about healthy practices to protect each other.  Let’s work hard to maintain distance, regularly wash hands, and minimize the things we touch.  If you feel sick or have a fever, don’t worry about coming and simply watch the Livestream.  I know you would prefer to be with us, but these practices are a great way to serve one another well.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

I want to make you all aware of our podcast, Beyond the Sermon. Beyond The Sermon is a podcast designed to take what God does on Sunday, as we come under His word, and move it into our daily lives.  It is a conversation with different people about how God is using the preached word in their lives.  It focuses on the previous sermon and discusses applications from the clear implications of that particular text. You can subscribe to this podcast through iTunes or Spotify.  You can simply click the links in the previous sentence, or search for “Light in the Desert Church Sermons and Podcast” on those apps, then click subscribe.  This week’s podcast is below.  Listen as Freeman Pruett and I discuss this past Sunday’s message.

 

Regathering

Church Family,

I could not be more excited to see you all again face to face this coming Sunday, June 14.  Below is a list of the changes we will have in place for June.  Also, check out Facebook for a video to walk you through the various things that will be different when you arrive on Sunday.  If you feel more comfortable for a couple of weeks to view the gathering by Livestream, there are a couple of options for you.  You can either view it from Facebook or our website.  All you have to do is click the links in the previous sentence for your preferred format.

Let’s start by stating the obvious; it will be weird, awkward, and make us feel uncomfortable!  Though true, we as the body of Christ can sacrifice our opinions and do what is best for the whole.  Here are the changes we will hold in place for June:

  • We will have the doors open to limit the touching of any door handles.
  • Seats in the foyer have been removed to encourage us all to head into the auditorium
  • Seats in the auditorium will be taped off to help create enough space between us
  • Once you get seated, feel free to chat with those close to you or even across the auditorium.
  • Remember to keep a safe distance and respect other people’s space.
  • Let’s hold off on handshakes and hugs for a while and work hard to keep our family unit together.
  • Bathrooms will be open if needed.
  • You will notice tape just past the bathroom doors to limit the number of places we travel in the building.
  • We will collect the offering by having the plates available outside the double doors of the auditorium.
  • On that table will be hand sanitizer as well and masks.
  • Speaking of masks, many of you indicated on the survey that you will be wearing a mask, so don’t hesitate to do that because many others will be wearing them.
  • There will be no refreshments in the foyer to avoid cross-contamination and to help us all move into the auditorium once we get here.
  • The gathering time will be kept under an hour to help limit exposure.
  • There will be no 9 am Sunday Studies for June.
  • There will be no Desert Kids for June to help keep workers and our kiddos safe.
  • We will only have our 10 am gathering for now.
  • For those who fall into the most vulnerable categories and don’t feel comfortable gathering, we completely understand and will continue to Livestream, which can be view on Facebook or our website.
  • All of these things will be reevaluated for July.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

Sunday (6/7/2020)

Church Family,

Thank you so much for your love, support, and prayers for my mom.  If you have not heard we are in Tennessee because last Sunday, she had a severe stroke.  Many of you have encouraged us deeply with your text, emails, and phone calls.  We have experienced God’s kindness beyond what we deserve, and this has created tremendous gratefulness in us.  I can’t tell you the many ways God’s sovereign care has and is evident in this emotional event.

I also wanted to thank you for your patience and understanding regarding the move we had to make in regathering.  The decision was difficult, but the wisdom I received from several was helpful to ease the burden of us all.  With that said, the plan for this Sunday is to be on Facebook at 10 am to gather, Lord willing, one last time online.  See you all then!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan