We Are The Hope for the World

Do you realize that we the church have within our power the ability to change our world.  We are the hope for the world!  A lot of times we forget that as we are overwhelmed by the craziness of the world and the busyness of our own lives.  We have the good news that God loves mankind and He desires to bring us into a life changing relationship with Him.  It is our privilege and responsibility as Christ-followers to do whatever we can to share the good news with the people around us.  We can do it individually and together as a church family.  As a church family we can join forces together to be more effective in proclaiming the good news to people so I want to encourage you to join together as the church family.

Invite someone who does not know Christ to attend church with you especially on special Sundays like Mother’s day and now Father’s day coming up where we will have a tailgate party in the parking lot.  It is easy to say, “Come hang out with us at our Father’s day tailgate party.”

On June 2 we are having a Date night.  It is for married couples to have a date together.  We are having dinner (tacos), some games together and we will take some time to help couples work through expectations in their marriage.  There will also be some exciting activities for their kids as well.  Let’s face it, this is a perfect way for couples who are not yet Christ-followers to catch a glimpse of the power of God working in their marriage.  Will you take time to join forces as the Desert Streams Church family and invite a few of your non-Christian friends to attend with you.  Make an investment in the lives of others, partner with the church family to help spread the gospel and infuse some life back into your own marriage…it is a win on a lot of fronts.

When we join forces as the church family we can accomplish so much more.  It is easy to brush things off and think only about how something affects you but will you look up and see the people of SCV so much in need of a Savior? 

Will you say yes to sharing the good news by joining together with the church family.

We the church are the hope for the world…let’s start right here in our neighborhoods. 
 


Be On The Lookout…

One of the passages in our SOUL Journal reading today was Acts 6.  I was struck by the unceasing work of Satan to try and destroy God’s church.  First he tried persecution, as we read in chapters four and five, but instead of destroying the believers it only had the effect of encouraging them and the church grew faster.  So Satan tried a different tactic, he looked to destroy the church by introducing sin into the body through Ananias and Sapphira, but God, through the Holy Spirit dealt with the sin quickly and decisively.  In chapter 6 we see another of the tactics Satan uses to divide, he stirred up dissension within the church.  He used perceived offenses to cause division. 

Truth is Satan uses these tactics still today.  Persecution, corruption and dissension are all ways today that cause God’s people to be distracted and lose heart.  A church that is filled with internal conflict spend all their time and emotional energy on that rather than on the mission at hand because any church focused on itself will not be focused on reaching lost people and even when people become Christ-followers what kind of family will they find themselves in – certainly not one that would help them become fully devoted followers of Christ.

May I encourage you this week to be on the lookout for these tactics of the enemy.  He desires to distract us and deter us from fulfilling our mission of multiplying Christ-followers everywhere.  Whether you fully believe it or not, this is your highest mission priority as a child of God.  Don’t let hard times, sinful decisions and dissension derail you. 

Speaking of mission, will you partner with the family at Desert Streams and plan on attending our Good Friday and Easter services and do everything within your power to bring someone with you who needs to hear the Good News of the gospel.
 
Pastor Gary


Family Gatherings

Every Saturday morning growing up, my family would wake up later than usual and come to the kitchen, where we had breakfast and spent a leisurely time around the table catching up as a family.  We would talk and laugh, we would tell stories about what happened during the week, and poke fun at each other.  Most times my father would take out his Bible and read a passage and we would talk about it, my mother would insist that we sing a couple of choruses and then we would talk about the upcoming week and the chores for the day.  Those are some of my fondest memories.  When I started a family of my own I did my best to incorporate the same thing and the fond memories continue.  Teaching the kids to make pancakes, SOUL journal discussions, bread flying off of fans and so much more. 

I love family gatherings. 

I hear from so many people how they dread family gatherings and that is so sad.  Truthfully, our family gatherings were also filled with arguments, hurt feelings and not being able to stand someone in the moment, but in the end we became a stronger family unit because we chose to work through those things.  Healthy family gatherings are amazing experiences.

Did I mention that I love family gatherings? 

I want to invite you to join us for the first of our Desert Streams Family Gatherings.  It will be a time to grow together, to connect with one another, to communicate about the family, to eat together, to pray together and sometimes even sing together.  We will deal with family business – you know the stuff that you can’t talk about when all the guests are around and we will celebrate together.

 

Join me next Monday March 5th at 6:30pm for our Family Gathering.  Childcare is provided.  Let’s make some good memories together.



Time For a Spiritual Checkup

As I have gotten older I have been quite religious about going to the doctor for my yearly checkups.  Honestly, I don’t want to go but I have come to recognize that I am not as invincible as I originally thought I was in my twenties and thirties. 

Why is it that so many of us hate checkups?

“Well,” I say to DeLaine each time, “I feel fine so why do I need to go in?”  It feels like a waste of good and precious time that I could use for other more important activities such as watching TV or taking a nap.  Can I get an amen?  For some they don’t want to go for a check up because they sense something is not too right in their bodies but they don’t really want to deal with it, it is more of the ignorance is bliss life philosophy. 

Yet going for a checkup is such an important investment of time and energy especially if our goal in life is to be healthy.  I am not sure it is anyone’s goal in life to be sick and in a great deal of pain till they die.  Someone defines success as the progressive realization of a pre-determined goal and if I have a goal of being healthy and hale then I need to have some kind of tool that measures if I am being successful.  That’s where checkups come in.  We go to the doctor and they run tests on us and we get to find out what is good, what is not, what looks like something we should be paying attention and what mid-course adjustments we may need to make so that we can continue on the road of good health.  Of course I also get advice from my doctor and a form of accountability to my health regimen.

Right about now you are thinking, “PG why in the world this long discourse on checkups?”  Well I am so glad you asked.  You see just as we need physical checkups we also need spiritual checkups.  Our spiritual goal is to become more like Jesus and if we are going to be successful in this really important life goal then we need to have some regular checkups along the way.  We need to have regular times of evaluation so that we can find out what is good, what is not and what mid-course adjustments I need to make.

If you have a goal of being more like Jesus then we encourage you to be growing in three broad categories:  your relationship with God, your relationship with God’s people and your commitment to fulfilling God’s mission He has called us to.  At DSC we have provided you with an evaluation tool that we call The Spiritual Self-Assessment (SSA) test.  For those truly serious about spiritual growth we encourage you to fill it out every three months.  We provide you with the link and all you do is take about 5 minutes to answer the questions.  When you submit it, the evaluation is sent to us here at the church and then passed along to the main ministry leader that you are serving with.  Those ministry leaders then connect with you to encourage you and to help resource you so that you can grow in the areas where you are needing a little push.  They also provide a level of accountability for you as well.

Over the next few weeks we are going to ask everyone at the church to take some time to fill out the SSA and it is my deepest hope and desire that you will take the time to utilize this tool to help you grow up in your walk with God.

Let’s grow and be healthy together,

Pastor Gary

 
Here is the link, click on it and take a few minutes to do your spiritual check up…

https://goo.gl/forms/QmvMgtPf8JLc4jtL2



628 Is Now The Family Gathering

I love our church family!  And as a family we have so many strengths that make us unique and special, but I think what I am coming to love most is that we are a family; a group of God’s kids who live in biblical community.  We choose to care for one another, to love one another, to encourage one another, to spur each other on to love and good deeds, and the list goes on.  I want to capitalize on that family feel as we walk by faith into the new season God has spoken over us, so you may notice some changes in the following months. 

For one we really want to make Sundays a welcoming place where guests can join the family and feel at home, so we are really going to be working on a welcome home feeling.  From guest to family members alike we want them to feel like they walked in the door to home.  Think of how you would want to be welcomed home after a long week away – we want to do that with all who enter.

Along the same lines we are changing the name and format of 628 to reflect some of that family understanding.  We will now call 628 meetings The Family Gathering.  These meetings will be quarterly and will contain specific elements to help us connect with the family on a few different levels.

  • First of all there will be food provided. Every good family event has food.
  • We will also be providing childcare.
  • This gathering is for everyone who considers Desert Streams their church home.
  • When we get together we will be taking time to celebrate what God is doing in the lives of people and in the life of the church family.
  • We will have some time for accountability in the form of doing our Spiritual Self Assessments.
  • There will be time to catch up on what family activities are coming up and we will also set aside time to take communion.

It is our goal that the family of DSC will be encouraged and refreshed as we spend some time together at our Family Gathering and that we will grow closer to each other in the process.  Mark your calendars for the first one which will be March 5th at 6:30pm.  Dinner will be ready by 6:15pm.  Come and join us.  This is your family.



28 Days: Day 26

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of intercessory worship at the church.

SCRIPTURE

  • Matthew 4:23 (NIV) 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
  • Mark 6:34 (NIV) 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
  • Mark 9:30-31 (NIV) 30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31  because he was teaching his disciples.
  • Luke 11:1 (NIV) 1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
  • Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

OBSERVATION

Jesus came to earth and everywhere He went He taught people.  He taught them how to act like God followers, He taught them about the kingdom of heaven, He taught them about the nature and character of the Father.  When He ascended into heaven He told us what we needed to do with all that knowledge…it must be allowed to transform the way we live and it was to be passed on to new believers who could then pass it on to other new believers.   

UNDERSTANDING

  • 2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV) 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

The New Testament clearly teaches that the gospel is to be taught from generation to generation. Jesus, of course, was the Master Teacher. He taught the apostles, who then taught others, who taught others, who are still teaching others, and so on throughout the church age. In every generation, God has raised up new links in this living chain of faithful men to pass on the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of their day.

The apostles, some for only a brief time before they were martyred, proclaimed the gospel they had received from Christ to other faithful men—prophets, elders, deacons, and many others—among whom was Timothy. It was now Timothy’s turn to entrust the gospel, and all other divinely revealed truths, to others.

In a state invitational track meet during my college years, I represented my team as the second man in the mile relay. The first man ran a fast first leg, and I did well on the second. But soon after I passed off the baton to the third man, one of our best runners, he stopped, walked onto the infield, and sat down. Our first horrified thought was that he had pulled a hamstring or twisted an ankle. I ran across the field and asked, “What happened?” “I don’t know,” he replied, “I just didn’t feel like running anymore.” Understandably, his teammates, the coach, and everyone else from our college were sickened and disgusted. “How could you do that?” we asked. “Don’t you know you’re not just representing yourself, but your team and your school? Have you forgotten all the time the coach has invested in you and that your teammates have invested to get where we are? How could you, in one brief, selfish second, destroy all of that?”

On an infinitely more important level, countless leaders in the church have simply dropped out of the Lord’s service, some with no better reason than the apathy of that collegiate runner.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – 2 Timothy.

LIFE APPLICATION

Have you been faithful with the knowledge you have been given?  How are you teaching others the truths you have learned?  What are you going to do about it?


28 Days: Day 25

70 Hour prayer vigil begins today. http://signup.com/go/SbLkgzS 

Join us this evening @ 7 for a time of intercessory worship at the church.

SCRIPTURE

  • Luke 9:1-6 (NIV) 1  When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2  and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3  He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4  Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5  If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” 6  So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

OBSERVATION

The Twelve’s mission had a single purpose: they were to proclaim the kingdom of GodProclaim refers to a herald’s formal, authoritative, public announcement of important truth. In an era before mass media, that was how important messages were communicated to the public, just as town criers would do in later times. In town after town, the apostles publicly proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand because the Lord, Savior, and King had arrived. They also announced that entrance to the kingdom was through repentance, with confession of sin, and faith in the Messiah.

The preaching of the Twelve followed the pattern set by Jesus. In Luke 4:43 He announced, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” At the beginning of chapter 8, Luke recorded that “He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God”.   As Luke noted in that same verse, “the twelve were with Him,” learning from His example. When He sent them out, the Twelve preached the same message that Jesus did. The church today has that same responsibility to preach exactly what Jesus did without altering it. The church’s message is not a social, political, philanthropic, or moral one. It is a message of sin, salvation, and forgiveness, which without being changed has been explained and enriched in the New Testament epistles.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The – MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10. 

UNDERSTANDING

Jesus gathered up His disciples and sent them out to the nations.  The word is apostello or sent ones.  That is exactly what He commissioned us to when He gave us the Great Commission. 

We are sent ones to the world.

Two very simple thoughts about sent ones. 
A sent one makes the message of Jesus very simple and understandable.  Our message as disciples does not have to be complicated.  It is not about literally having better morals.  The message of Christ is not meant to be a feel good, or a positive thinking message.  It is a very, very simple message that we, as sinful people, are separated from a holy God.  God loved us so much that Jesus went on the very first Heavenly mission trip in order to give Himself for us, so that we should live.  We could be made right with Him, not by religion, not by works, but only by faith through the grace of God, believing in Jesus Christ.  It is a very, very simple message, and we are called to take that message into all of the world very, very aggressively. 

Number two, a sent one makes compassion central.  As disciples of Jesus, we should be the most compassionate, caring, and generous people on planet earth. 

LIFE APPLICATION

 Have you gotten the message yet?  We are Great Commission people and GC people are called to be missionaries – across the street, at our jobs, in foreign lands.  Will you go?



28 Days: Day 24

SCRIPTURE

  • Matthew 20:26-28 (NIV) 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– 28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

OBSERVATION

 It is not wrong to desire great usefulness for God, but we need to remember that God’s picture of success is not the same picture that the world has.  Too often we want to do God’s work and but we want to frame it in a worldly mindset. 

UNDERSTANDING

This servant mentality just flies in the face of everything we know in our culture.  Think about the language that we use to be the greatest in our culture.  You’re to climb to the top.  You’ve got to climb the corporate ladder.  If you want to be great, you rise to greatness, but in the culture of the kingdom, Jesus flips it around.  He says, “You really want to be the greatest?  You descend to greatness, serve others!” 

LIFE APPLICATION

So are you here at Desert Streams to serve or to be served?  Are you here to really be a part of what God is doing in people’s lives every week, or is it sort of a spiritual consumer idea where you get in, you watch the message, and then you are on with life?  A disciple of Jesus is a servant. 

So where are you serving?  How are you washing the feet of those in the family at DSC?  Are you a consumer or a contributor?  If you are not being a servant today is as good a day as any to start, ask God to show you where you can use your time, talents, treasures and testimony to serve.



28 Days: Day 22

SCRIPTURE

  • Mark 10:17-22
  • Luke 9:23-25 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

OBSERVATION

The thing about being a disciple is that it will cost us.  There is a difference between being a believer and being a disciple…there are many believers today in the church – they confess that Jesus is God and have asked God to forgive them of their sins, but that is where they stop.  A disciple goes further – he/she has submitted themselves to God and given Him the right to tell them what to do, where to go and what to say.  In other words, they have allowed God to change them from the inside out.  That change does not come easy, it hurts, but it is worth it if we stick it out. 

Being a disciple costs us our time, it costs us surrendering our agenda and plans and being willing to follow Jesus’ agenda and plan for us.  Being a disciple is a covenant relationship not just good intention.  Understand that a covenant relationship is a binding contract that cannot be broken, and when we covenant with God to be His disciple we mean to see it through to the end. 

UNDERSTANDING

Sunday we talked about three responses to when God calls us to be about His business…

  • Here I am, I am not going.
  • Here I am, send someone else.
  • Here I am, send me.
I believe that in order for us to live the surrendered life of the disciple who says, “Here I am, send me!” we must be pursuing God in such a way that we have ongoing encounters with Him in His presence.  Are you pursuing God?  A disciple pursues the Master. 

I also believe that when we recognize our sin and God’s holiness and come to realize how much He has showered His grace on us then we find our hearts changing from I have to give up my life to “I get to give up my life for the one who has given all for me!”

LIFE APPLICATION

Who are you?  Are you a believer or a disciple?  Obviously, God’s desire is for you to be a disciple.  Are you willing to pay the cost?

God I pray that your people will say yes to following you.  I pray that their answer will be yes before they even know the question.  God may they trust you in such a way that they discover your best is better than anything could ever imagine and think for themselves.



28 Days: Day 23

Remember to sign up to pray for an hour during our 70 Hour Prayer Time

SCRIPTURE

  • Luke 5:10-11 (NIV) 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

OBSERVATION

When Jesus calls He inducts us into the union of fishermen.  Now, some people might say, “Well, I don’t even know where to start.  What do I do?  How do I go fishing?”  The beauty of this is that even if you don’t know about fishing Jesus will equip you to be a great fisherman. 

UNDERSTANDING

There are two pointers we can glean from our reading today that can help us be great fishermen – here is all you need to know to be a great fisherman. 

First, go into the fishing trade with the decision to have unquestioning obedience to God.  Peter followed the advice given and threw the net on the other side, even though there was no sensible reason to do so, but the catch was great because of his obedience to the Master Fisherman. 

The second thing is that we need to fish with absolute abandonment.  Peter became a “fisher of men” because he abandoned everything and followed Jesus.   

LIFE APPLICATION

A disciple goes fishing.  A disciple makes disciples.  A disciple leaves everything to be like Him, follow Him, and do what He’s been doing.  Take some time today to commit to following Jesus with absolute abandonment and unquestioning obedience.