Sent Out Under Jesus’ Authority

Church Family,

This past Sunday we began our new series in the book of Acts. This book covers the earliest days of Christianity as the Holy Spirit moved and worked through the apostles and other believers to spread the Gospel and build the Church. Before we see the mission carried out, though, we had to see the mission given by Jesus. Having been with the risen Christ, the apostles asked him if he would restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus responded by saying the restoration will be for a later time that the Father has appointed, but for now the apostles were to spread the Gospel by Jesus’ authority. That very call stands for us today. We are to continue spreading the Gospel under the authority of Jesus until that day when returns from Heaven just as he ascended.

Life Among the Nations

Next Friday, April 19th at 6:00 p.m. Light in the Desert will help host a dinner for Life Among the Nations. This is a ministry run by Church on Mill in Tempe seeking to minister to international students at the main ASU campus. If you are interested in helping there are two ways you can serve. First, you can help provide some of the food by preparing either a salad or a dessert. Second, you can come to the dinner to help serve the food to the international students. If you are interested in helping in one or both of those ways, please sign up on the sheet at the welcome desk in our foyer.

Church Picnic

We will be having a church picnic at Usery Park on April 28th. We have Ramada C1 reserved from 2-6 p.m. (though there is no obligation to stay that whole time) and will bring some yard games as well as water games for the kids. Food will be potluck style, so please sign up in the foyer. Make sure to bring yourself something to drink and a chair to sit in. Entrance into the park is $7 per vehicle.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral intern

Because He Lives

Church Family,

This past Sunday was Easter, so we as a church made the bold decision to spend our morning considering the events of Resurrection Sunday. After what was surely a devastating Saturday on which it seemed all hope had been lost, Jesus’ followers arose that Sunday to find that the grave was empty, that Jesus had risen and overcome death itself. Now when the chief priests heard the reports of this resurrection they rejected this good news and spread lies that the whole thing was a hoax, as many reject the good news of Jesus today. But Jesus’ followers responded rightly, first with praise, and then by obediently setting out to spread the word of the resurrection. Let us respond likewise by marveling at the salvation secured by Jesus’ resurrection and by going out to share the joy of that salvation with the world.

Life Among the Nations

On April 19th at 6:00 p.m. Light in the Desert will help host a dinner for Life Among the Nations. This is a ministry run by Church on Mill in Tempe seeking to minister to international students at the main ASU campus. If you are interested in helping there are two ways you can serve. First, you can help provide some of the food by preparing either a salad or a dessert. Second, you can come to the dinner to help serve the food to the international students. If you are interested in helping in one or both of those ways, please sign up on the sheet at the welcome desk in our foyer.

New Series

We will be starting a new sermon series this upcoming Sunday in which we will be working our way through Acts. We would encourage you to begin reading ahead to be prepared to engage with the sermons each Sunday. In particular, since this book focuses on the early days of the Church, we encourage you to prayerfully consider the implications of Acts for our church body here at Light in the Desert. The first sermon will be covering Acts 1:1-11, though you are by no means limited to just those first few verses for now.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

Blind To Truth That Is Right Before Us

Church Family,

As we work our way through Matthew’s account of Passion Week, this past Sunday brought us to Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was put on trial and crucified. Two charges were made against Jesus, that he claimed to be the Son of God and that he claimed to be King of the Jews. To both the Roman and Jewish authorities these claims were traitorous and heretical. But Jesus contested neither of these charges, instead answering both with the words “you have said so.” Jesus in fact claimed these things about himself, yet was justified because his claims were true. The authorities, blinded by sin, simply could not see the reality of who Jesus was. Ironically, as they levied charges against him and mocked him, they only served to proclaim the truth of who Jesus is. As we reflect on this passage this week, let us consider how sin can keep us from seeing the truth that God has put right before us, and so grieve the ugliness of our sin. And let us pray that God would open our eyes so we might clearly see Christ our Savior and Lord.

Events in the Valley

Lots of fantastic conferences come to the Phoenix area so we wanted to take a second to highlight two that might be of interest and valuable to our church. First is Holy Sexuality and the Gospel on April 8th. This lecture hosted by Phoenix Seminary will address how to bring the Gospel into the modern conversation around gender and sexuality. The second is Brave in Babylon on April 12th & 13th. This conference put on by The Gospel Coalition will focus on faithful and hopeful Christian living in an increasingly secular age.

Easter Schedule

While we have been studying Passion Week for over a month now, the week itself is finally here. As a quick reminder of the slight schedule changes, on the evening of Good Friday we will be having a service at 5:30, then Easter morning we will have a time of fellowship at 9:00 instead of our usual Sunday Studies, followed by our usual 10:15 worship service.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

God is Sovereign Over Obedience and Rebellion

Church Family,

This past Sunday in our series leading up to Easter we examined the Thursday of Passion Week. Here we found a story in three pieces that speaks of the breadth and the beauty of God’s sovereignty. The first piece of this story used the hospitality of a stranger to demonstrate God’s sovereign rule over our faith and obedience, teaching us to be humble regarding our good works but to pursue them eagerly knowing that God can use them to magnificent ends. The second used Judas’ treachery to demonstrate God’s sovereign rule even over our unbelief and rebellion, teaching us to grieve our sin but also to know that our sin is not beyond the authority of God. The final piece of the story, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, drew together these threads of God’s rule over both righteousness and sin. Here it is made clear that God’s purpose as He reigns is to forgive the sins of all His people and to usher in a new and glorious kingdom, and we can be confident in these purposes because God has proven his sovereign authority time and time again.

Deacon Candidate

Two Sundays ago we announced Curtis Wyatt as a candidate for the deacon of technology. Generally speaking, we believe that the Bible lays out the role of deacon as those who serve the church in a particular and practical area. Deacons are qualified not only on the basis of their aptitude in their particular areas of service, but also on the basis of a consistent godly character. If affirmed as deacon, Curtis would be tasked with handling or delegating various technological needs of the church such as website maintenance and handling audio/video equipment. We believe he is qualified both on the basis of his extensive technological experience as a software engineer and, more importantly, on the basis of his clear love for God and for God’s church. If you have any questions or concerns about bringing Curtis on as a deacon or about the role of deacons in general, we encourage you to reach out to Curtis and to our elders before our vote this upcoming Sunday, March 24th.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

The Immeasurable Worth of Jesus

Church family,

Continuing our slow march towards Easter, this past Sunday we looked at the Wednesday of Passion Week. Here we saw tremendous contrast between two figures: the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus with expensive oils and Judas who betrayed Jesus for thirty silver pieces. The woman rightly saw Jesus as having immeasurable worth and she sacrificed considerable wealth, and even endured undue criticism from the disciples, to recognize and honor Jesus. By contrast, Judas, who had personally witnessed Jesus’ miraculous ministry, decided that Jesus was only worth whatever the chief priests would offer for his arrest. The Gospel of Matthew does not tell us what brought Judas to this decision, nor do any of the other Gospels. At most we read from John that Judas was a thief. Whatever his motives, we know that Judas’ faith had dwindled to nothing, so Jesus became nothing to him. In light of this passage, we should seriously consider whether our faith is growing or dwindling. We should not take our faith for granted and leave it to atrophy but work on our faith in prayer, worship, and reading God’s word, even when it demands personal sacrifice. We should encourage one another in faith so that we never lose sight of the immeasurable worth of Jesus.

Easter Schedule

As we are presently in a sermon series preparing for Easter, it seems wise to prepare ourselves for the slight schedule changes we will have at the church surrounding Easter. First of all,  we will be having an evening Good Friday service on March 29th at 5:30 p.m. Then, on Easter Sunday, March 31, we will have a time of fellowship at 9:00 a.m. in place of our Sunday Studies, followed by our usual worship gathering at 10:15.

Deacon Candidate

This past Sunday we announced Curtis Wyatt as a candidate for the deacon of technology. Generally speaking, we believe that the Bible lays out the role of deacon as those who serve the church in a particular and practical area. Deacons are qualified not only on the basis of their aptitude in their particular areas of service, but also on the basis of a consistent godly character. If affirmed as deacon, Curtis would be tasked with handling or delegating various technological needs of the church such as website maintenance and handling audio/video equipment. We believe he is qualified both on the basis of his extensive technological experience as a software engineer and, more importantly, on the basis of his clear love for God and for God’s church. If you have any questions or concerns about bringing Curtis on as a deacon or about the role of deacons in general, we encourage you to reach out to Curtis and to our elders before our vote on March 24th.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

Wearing Our Tuesday Best

Church Family,

This past Sunday we looked at the Tuesday of Passion Week. Being that this day spans the entirety of Matthew 21:19-25:46 and would likely have taken our entire gathering time simply to read the text, we narrowed in on the parable of the wedding feast in chapter 22 to show us the central message of all Jesus taught that day. This parable teaches us that God has prepared an eternal kingdom and has invited us all to join him, regardless of our worldly status. The way has been made open to us through Christ. Yet only those who place their faith in Christ and are clothed in his righteousness will enter and enjoy this eternal kingdom. Others will reject Christ and rather than entering the eternal kingdom they will face eternal judgment. Some may even appear to have accepted the invitation, to have done all the right things, but if they have not been clothed in the righteousness of Christ they too will face judgement. This is a sobering parable that should push us to strongly consider if we have rejected Christ or if we have taken him upon ourselves as our righteousness.

Easter Schedule

As we are presently in a sermon series preparing for Easter, it seems wise to prepare ourselves for the slight schedule changes we will have at the church surrounding Easter. First of all,  we will be having an evening Good Friday service on March 29th at 5:30 p.m. Then, on Easter Sunday, March 31, we will have a time of fellowship at 9:00 a.m. in place of our Sunday Studies, followed by our usual worship gathering at 10:15.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

More Than Just Another Manic Monday

Church Family,

This past Sunday we considered the Monday of Passion Week as portrayed in Matthew 21:12-22. Here we saw Jesus make repeated use of the Old Testament to commend those who were rightly praising Him as Lord, as well as to demonstrate the evil of false worship. We saw Jesus teach not to be like the fig tree that makes a display of its large green leaves but, upon closer investigation, bears no actual fruit. As we reflect back on the sermon, it would be worthwhile to consider which of our habits of Christian living are sincere acts of worship to God and which are performative acts intended to impress those around us or even simply to impress ourselves.

Following the pattern of our extended lead-up to Easter, we will spend this upcoming Sunday looking at the Tuesday of passion week. Matthew has quite a lot to say about this day in particular, and while the sermon will only cover select passages from chapters 22 and 25, the goal is to really get to the heart of what Jesus taught across that entire day and we encourage you to read the entirety of Matthew 21:19-25:46 over the next few days.

Members’ Meeting

We will have our next members’ meeting this upcoming Sunday, March 3rd at 4:00 p.m. Besides giving general updates about what is happening here at Light in the Desert, we will also be welcoming in new members and hearing their testimonies. Not only is this practice of sharing testimonies a joyous opportunity to hear how the Lord has worked in the lives of our members, it is also a chance to get to know one another better so that we might better care for one another as we are called to do as a church family. If you are a member here at Light in the Desert, we would strongly encourage you to make time in your schedule to participate in this vital aspect of the life of the church.

Sunday Studies: Who am I?

Sunday Studies is our weekly 9:00 a.m. class in which we take up a particular question, subject, or idea and examine it closely over the course of several weeks. We at Light in the Desert find this class of particular value both because it allows for a focused approach to learning and growing, and also because the conversational and discussion-oriented nature of the course gives us a wonderful opportunity to engage with and encourage one another.

We’ll be starting a new Sunday Studies series this week in which we seek to answer the question Who am I? It is a simple question composed of three simple words, yet it is something that many of us fret over and do not feel we have answered satisfactorily. We may try to ground our identities in our possessions, our occupations, or our personal histories, but these things prove too fleeting or utterly defeating to be the foundation of who we are. We encourage you to join us as we look to uncover a biblical understanding of who we are and find out why such an identity is joyous and rich with God-honoring purpose.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

 

Hosanna in the Highest!

This past Sunday we began our long lead-in to Easter by looking at Palm Sunday as it is described in Matthew 21:1-11. Pastor Bryan put particular emphasis on the cry of “hosanna” repeated by the crowd that gathered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. This cry is a recognition that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. It is also a cry for help, not a despairing cry but a cry full of hope and joy, a request to God prayed out boldly with the greatest confidence. The crowd has rightly identified that Jesus is our one sure hope, the culmination of God’s perfect faithfulness.

Members’ Meeting

We will have our next members’ meeting on Sunday, March 3rd at 4:00 p.m. Besides giving general updates about what is happening here at Light in the Desert, we will also be welcoming in new members and hearing their testimonies. Not only is this practice of sharing testimonies a joyous opportunity to hear how the Lord has worked in the lives of our members, it is also a chance to get to know one another better so that we might better care for one another as we are called to do as a church family. If you are a member here at Light in the Desert, we would strongly encourage you to make time in your schedule to participate in this vital aspect of the life of the church.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

Leaders Who Lead Us to Christ

Church Family,

This past Sunday concluded a wonderful sermon series of walking slowly and studiously through the book of Hebrews. In the final verse of this book we see what good and godly leadership looks like, the value of such leadership, and how we should respond to good and godly leaders. Good leaders in the church are not necessarily those who are the most creative and charismatic, but those who are faithful to the Gospel. By this faithfulness they lead us towards endurance in Christ, and so it is to our greatest benefit to obey and submit to good and godly leaders. This may be an uncomfortable message in an age so focused on freedom and individualism, but when healthy leadership, obedience, and submission are practiced the joyous benefits are undeniable.

Here in the valley we tend to get a head-start on Spring weather, as you may already be noticing even in mid-February. Similarly, Light in the Desert will be getting a head-start on one of the most wonderful and iconic parts of Spring, Easter. Starting this upcoming Sunday we will be in the book of Matthew, looking closely at passion week one day at a time. As always, we encourage you to read ahead in preparation for Sunday’s sermon, which will cover Palm Sunday as seen in Matthew 21:1-11.

Senior Lunch

We will be having a senior lunch on Wednesday, February 21st. We have not drawn a hard line regarding who is or is not a senior, but if you consider yourself to be a senior you are welcome to join. If you are familiar with how we have done senior lunches in the past there are a few changes to note. First, we will be meeting at noon. Second, we have changed venues to The Hub just down the road at Baseline and Sossaman. Third, if you are planning on attending, we need you to sign up so we can give the restaurant a heads up on how many people we have coming.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern

Personal Sacrifice for the Glory of God

Church Family,

This past Sunday we looked at Hebrews 13:1-6, in which the author of Hebrews gives instructions regarding five different aspects of the life of the church:

  1. Love for those inside the church
  2. Hospitality for those outside the church
  3. Care for those who are suffering for the Christian faith
  4. Honor for the institution of marriage
  5. Contentment that defies the worldly love of money

Faithfully adhering to these instructions from Hebrews will demand that we all make sacrifices and engage in righteous, but difficult, self-denial. Yet we can pursue these things joyfully as Jesus Christ is our strength and our comfort, and we can rejoice that our sacrifices are for the glory of our Lord.

I encourage you to read Hebrews 13:7-25 to prepare for this upcoming Sunday when we will consider the concluding thoughts of this wonderful letter.

Prospective Members Class

If you have been visiting Light in the Desert Church and are interested in attending a prospective members class, please reach out to Pastor Bryan or sign up at our welcome desk in the foyer. This class is not a commitment to anything, but it is an opportunity to learn more about what Light in the Desert Church believes in and what it means to be a member here. This class is even a great opportunity if you are simply looking to understand more about what church membership is in a general sense.

Senior Lunch

We will be having a senior lunch on Wednesday, February 21st. We have not drawn a hard line regarding who is or is not a senior, but if you consider yourself to be a senior you are welcome to join. If you are familiar with how we have done senior lunches in the past there are a few changes to note. First, we will be meeting at noon. Second, we have changed venues to The Hub just down the road at Baseline and Sossaman. Third, if you are planning on attending, we need you to sign up so we can give the restaurant a heads up on how many people we have coming.

Grace be with you,

Logan Murphy

Pastoral Intern