Monday, April 29, 2013

Celebrating S'mores & Fires & Friends

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Book of Longing

If you're using the Bible reading plan discussed HERE, then you're in the midst of the book of Judges.  Let me tell you right now... don't hold out hope for a happy ending.

This is an era of chaos, lawlessness, violence, and gross immorality---sexual and otherwise.

"In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."  That's how the book of Judges describes itself.  Everyone's doing what's right in his own eyes; no one is concerned about God's eyes.  Sad stuff.

The consequences are disturbing, and the conclusion is obvious: WE NEED A KING!  We need a faithful king, an eternal king---one who will rule over us in wisdom and love.  Because left to ourselves, we fall apart and our entire culture becomes unraveled.

By the way, have you seen today's newspaper?

We still need that king.  And the good news of the gospel is that we have him!  He is King Jesus, the one prefigured and foreshadowed in many wonderful ways throughout the book of Judges, over and over and over again.

This is 21 chapters (618 verses) of a sad tale, full of longing---skillfully told.  Unforgettable stories, unforgettable people.  

Actually, sometimes the stories in this book are downright gruesome.  Why do you think God thought it was important for us to read this?  The point is plain and profound: we need the Bible's king.

There's an important cycle in the book of Judges:

  1. The people of God do evil.  
  2. They are punished for this evil.  
  3. They cry out to God for deliverance.  
  4. He graciously sends a savior / deliverer / rescuer / judge.  Each one of these judges is a picture of Christ in some way.  But, of course, the picture is very limited and the deliverance is very temporary.
  5. When the judge dies, the people generally return to Step 1.  (It's a cycle that every self-aware Christian can identify with.)  
We need a Savior / Deliverer / Rescuer / Judge / King who can somehow establish his righteousness over us forever.  We need a Greater Samson, a Greater Gideon, a Greater Deborah, a Greater Ehud, a Greater Othniel, a Greater Shamgar, a Greater Jephthah, etc.

And in Christ, that's what we're freely given.

He's the Greater Adam (Romans 5), the Greater Moses (Mark 6; John 5), the Greater David (Matthew 12), and the Greater Solomon (Luke 11).  The salvation he brings is the Greater Exodus (Hebrews 12) and the Greater Restoration from Exile (Luke 4).  The church he founds is the Living Temple (1 Peter 2) and the Israel of God (Galatians 6).

And on top of all that, he's also our Greater Judge and our Long-For King.  
"What do these judges have in common?... What they have in common... is their rich diversity.  The book of Judges delights in surprises, in diversity of character and situation, in reversals of expectations. The hand of the Lord falls where it will, often in unexpected places---on a southpaw, on two women, on the youngest son of a poor farmer in a weak clan, on the son of a prostitute, on the son of a barren woman...."
~Kenneth R.R. Gros Lous
"The book of Judges is full of paradox.  It contains some of the most famous of the Bible's stories and some of the least known.  In them there is much that is attractive, perhaps more than is repulsive.  Their lessons are at one simple and difficult.  They show us man's blackest sin, but we see it by the light of God's most luminous grace."
~Michael Wilcock


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Book of Re-Conquest

Following the Bible-reading plan discussed HERE, you recently finished the book of Joshua.

It's not just the book of conquest; it's actually the book of re-conquest.  For "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers" (Psalm 24.1).  The whole earth belongs to God, and he claims it for his own holy and grace-drenched purposes; no one can deprive him of this claim, no matter how many idols they summon to their aid.

This book that begins with God's reassuring commissioning of Joshua (Israel's new leader) and mercy to a Gentile prostitute and a second miraculous crossing of a river boundary and memorial stones and the covenant signs and the appearance of the commander of the army of the Lord quickly moves into the taking of the Promised Land.

There are other things of note as well:  the establishing of the boundary lines that divide the tribes of Israel, the ongoing tension with Canaanites that are tolerated instead of dealt with as God commanded, the last words of Joshua, etc.

But at the center of this book stands the Divine Warrior, the One who intervenes to give his people victory (or give his people discipline---for their sinful disobedience).

And what this book is really about is how this God fulfills all his promises.  He made a great promise to Abraham, and not one word of that promise fell to the ground.  24 chapters, 658 verses of promises fulfilled.  

But here's the kicker... you know what the name "Joshua" means?  It means "Yahweh is Salvation."

And when you translate that name into Greek, you know what you get?  "Jesus."

Jesus is the Greater Joshua, and all of God's promises are actually fulfilled in him.  "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him" (2 Corinthians 1.20).  Jesus is our Ultimate Champion, who defeats our ultimate enemies (sin & death), and leads us into the Ultimate Promised Land.

"Joshua is an important book for many reasons... for the history it records and for its internal teaching.  But what makes the book of Joshua overwhelmingly important is that it stands as a bridge between the Pentateuch (the writings of Moses) and the rest of Scripture."
~Francis Schaeffer
"We see in it much of God, and his providence... his faithfulness to his covenant with the patriarchs, his kindness to his people is real notwithstanding their provocations."
~Matthew Henry
"Joshua is... the story of how God, to whom the whole world belongs, at one stage in the history of redemption reconquered a portion of the earth from the powers of this world that had claimed it for themselves, defending their claims by force of arms and reliance on their false gods.  It tells how God commissioned his people, under his servant Joshua, to take Canaan in his name out of the hands of the idolatrous and dissolute Canaanites.  It tells how he aided them in that enterprise and gave them conditional tenancy in his land in fulfillment of the ancient pledge."
~Arthur Lewis
"Between the book's own beginning and end an important transformation takes place.  Wandering Israel outside the land becomes settled Israel at rest within it."
~L. Daniel Hawk
"The book of Joshua is one of the Bible's greatest testimonies to the mighty acts of God on behalf of Israel."
~Jerome F.D. Creach


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome, Baby Shelton!

"If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle."
Vincent van Gogh

DPC welcomes Shelton, born to Cody & Blakely on Monday, April 22, at 3:00 pm.  She weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 20 & 1/2 inches long.  

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Glory of God

Look at the heart of the picture.  Click & magnify it if you can.

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."
Psalm 19.1

The photo was taken by Robert Boston, who is Abbie Blevins' cousin.

Some see the bird / dove before they see the heart.  One of the coolest pictures of "the heavens" I've seen.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Welcome, Baby Porter!

The Eternal God creates each unique human being in his own image... and that eternal image is still not exhausted.

DPC welcomes Porter, born to Chris & Lauren on Monday night, April 8th, at 5:43 pm.  He weighed in at 7 pounds and was 18 inches long.

"All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children. "
The Prophet Isaiah

Friday, April 12, 2013

Christian Faith & Life Conference

Come Join Us for DPC's 2013 
Christian Faith & Life Conference


Saturday, April 13
6:00 pm:  Church Family Meal
6:30 pm:  Use for the Useless - Judges 7
(nursery & childcare provided)

Sunday, April 14
9:30 am:  Grace-Based Discipleship
10:45 am:  Dying to Live - Colossians 3:1-6
12:15 pm:  Church Family Meal
1:30 pm:  Spring Kick-Off with family fun and games

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Book of Decision

If you're following the Bible-reading plan discussed HERE, then yesterday you finished Deuteronomy.

It adds so much color to this book when you put yourself in the scene:  Moses is now an old man who knows that he will soon die.  God's people stand at the bank of the Jordan River, poised to (finally!) enter Canaan---the promised land.  

But Moses can't go with them.  He will die on this side of the Jordan, and then enter the Eternal Promised Land.

Yet God's people---whom Moses has been pastoring, shepherding, leading for four decades---need to be prepared for the challenges and tests in front of them.  There will be giants, there will be wars, there will be temptations, there will be troubles and trials of every kind...

What will Moses do?  How can he best prepare them?

He essentially preaches a sermon.  The book of Deuteronomy is that sermon.  34 chapters... 958 verses... of one of the greatest sermons of all time.  It's actually God Himself speaking to his people through Moses.

And it's a sermon that calls God's people to a great moment of decision: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." (Deuteronomy 30.19)

Jesus actually quoted Deuteronomy fairly often.  Think of the trial when he was facing down Satan's temptations in his own moment of decision (see Matthew 4.4,7,10).  

It's a moment when this whole generation of people who were born in the wilderness---having not experienced the Exodus or the first giving of law at Mt. Sinai---are about to do that which their parents could not do... what Moses himself could not do... they are about to enter the promised land.

What kind of people will they be?  Who will lead them?  After all, Moses is dying.

Moses calls them to center and re-center all of their lives on God and his Word.  After all, God is the ultimate Pastor, Shepherd, Leader of his people.  "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?" (Deuteronomy 4.7)

This sermon is a constant call to remember your God, who he is, what he has done in the past, what he has promised for the future.  It's a call to worship him alone, "at the place he himself will choose."

There are so many rich treasures in this sermon/book:  the rehearsal of the great covenant acts of God, the 2nd giving of the Ten Commandments, the beautiful summary of what the law means in its essence, the exposition of its details, the "shema," the Song of Moses, the blessing and the curses of the covenant.

"Deuteronomy is a book about a community being prepared for a new life.  Though the scene is set more than three thousand years in the past, Deuteronomy is still a book of considerable contemporary relevance.  Then, as now, the surrounding world was experiencing a time of change, of political tension and military engagement.  But in the midst of world events, a relatively small community was being urged by Moses... to commit itself wholeheartedly to the Lord.... The book provides a paradigm for the kingdom of God in the modern world; it is a time for renewing commitment within a New Covenant and turning to the future with a view to possessing the promise of God."
~Peter Craigie
"At first glance, Deuteronomy has the appearance less of a story than of law or preaching.  However, it is cast in the form of a narrative, with all the components of plot, scene, character and dramatic tension. The reader of Deuteronomy is drawn into its world.... [The Israelites'] immediate situation is outside the land, poised to enter it.  In that pause, the possibility of divine blessing spread before them, lies the dramatic power of the book.  Israel is in a moment of 'decision.'... This is more than covenant renewal; it is the establishment of a pattern of grace after failure that reaches all the way to the resurrection."
~J.G. McConville
"A rhythmic unity is implanted in [Deuteronomy]---rhythmic unity that turns to exultation.  Sweetness of reminiscence and bitterness of rebuke, law and justice, words of confession and words of promise and assurance---a special tenderness bathes it all."
~Jacob Finchman
"The book comes even to the modern reader in much the same way as a challenging sermon, for it is directed towards moving the minds and wills of the hearers to decision: choose life, that you and your descendants may live (30:19).  The work as a whole was evidently intended to give Israel instruction and education in her faith and to press home to her the demands of her faith."
~J.A. Thompson
"Moses speaks like a father who before his death earnestly and in love exhorts, admonishes, and warns his children."
~Jan Ridderbos


Monday, April 8, 2013

DPC Kids

Thanks to Mark & Amanda who invited the DPC Kids & several friends to their farm on the Saturday before Easter.  It was wonderful.  I want to live on a farm like that when I grow up.

Best moment:

Bill (adult leader):  "What connection can we make between the Easter Bunny and Jesus?"

Conner (young boy):  "We could sacrifice the Easter Bunny."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spiritual Depression

Join us tomorrow at DPC as we consider the exciting subject of... depression.


Consider these words from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

I need scarcely explain why I deem it important that we should face this particular question.  I do so partly for the sake of those who are in this condition, in order that they may be delivered from this unhappiness, this disquiet, this lack of ease, this tension, this troubled state which is described so perfectly by the Psalmist in this particular Psalm.  [he's referring to Psalm 42]  
It is very sad to contemplate the fact that there are Christian people who live the greater part of their lives in this world in such a condition.  It does not mean that they are not Christians, but it does mean that they are missing a great deal, missing so much that it is important that we should enquire into the whole condition of spiritual depression outlined so clearly in this psalm, if only for their sake.
But there is another and more important reason, which is that we must face this problem for the sake of the Kingdom of God and for the glory of God.  In a sense a depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation for the gospel.  
We are living in a pragmatic age.  People today are not primarily interested in Truth but they are interested in results.  The one question they ask is: Does it work?  They are frantically seeking and searching for something that can help them.  
Now we believe that God extends His Kingdom partly through His people, and we know that He has oftentimes done some of the most notable things in the history of the Church through the simple Christian living of some quite ordinary people.  
Nothing is more important, therefore, than that we should be delivered from a condition which gives other people, looking at us, the impression that to be a Christian means to be unhappy, to be sad, to be morbid, and that the Christian is one who 'scorns delights and lives laborious days'.  
There are many indeed who give this as a reason for not being Christian, and for giving up all interest they may ever have had in the Christian faith.  They say: Look at Christian people, look at the impression they give!  
And they are very fond of contrasting us with people out in the world, people who seem to be so thrilled by the things they believe in, whatever they may be.  They shout at their football matches, they talk about the films they have seen, they are full of excitement and want everybody to know it; but Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and of lack of freedom and of absence of joy.
There is no question at all but that this is the main reason why large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity.  And, let us be quite frank and admit it, there is a sense in which there is some justification for their attitude, and we have to confess that their criticism is a fair one.
It behooves us, therefore, not only for our own sakes, but also for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the glory of the Christ in Whom we believe, to represent Him and His cause, His message and His power in such a way that men and women, far from being antagonized, will be drawn and attracted as they observe us, whatever our circumstances or condition.  
We must so live that they will be compelled to say: Would to God I could be like that, would to God I could live in this world and go through this world as that person does.  
Obviously, if we are cast down ourselves we are never going to be able to function in that way.

This is from Lloyd-Jones' book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure.

Lloyd-Jones was one of the most influential ministers of the 20th century.  He lived in Europe, in the midst and/or aftermath of two world wars.  He knew the pastoral necessity of dealing with depression firsthand.

Is it still a relevant subject today?  More than 1 in 10 Americans (the most prosperous people in the history of the planet) are on antidepressants.

Here are the stats:  "11% of Americans ages 12 and older take the medication. Antidepressants are the most common prescription drug used by people ages 18 to 44. Almost one-quarter of all women ages 40 to 59 take antidepressants."

Yes, it is still quite relevant.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Church Breakfast!

Join us this Sunday morning at 9:00 am (note the earlier starting time) for a church family breakfast together... bring something to share!

9:00 - 9:40       Breakfast Together
9:45 - 10:15     Special Speaker (a DPC member will be sharing her testimony)
10:15 - 10:45   Break
10:45 - 12:00   Worship

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks
for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The King and I... starts tonight!

At the Princess Theater --- starring some talented DPC members!

King: You will order the finest gold chopsticks.
Anna: Your Majesty, chopsticks? Don't you think knives and forks would be more suitable?
King: I make mistake, the British not scientific enough to know how to use chopsticks.