Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Transformational Influence Outside Our Four Walls

Modeling godly character, making good work, ministering grace and love, molding culture, a mouthpiece for truth and justice, and a messenger of the gospel*—six M’s highlighting the significance of each person’s unique contribution to society through vocational and volunteer work.  “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Col 3:23).

Everyone is capable of doing excellent work and making a worthwhile contribution to society.  And, as the Gospel impacts every area of life and its implications are realized, transformation occurs in individual lives, our communities, and the world.  Good work brings health, safety, listening, maintenance, order, provision, and at times, reconciliation and restoration.

One of the most effective ways to contribute to and renew the culture we live in is through our daily contributions vocationally and voluntarily.  God’s people can make the effort to grow together in lives of grace, humility, contrition, love, justice, and hope, admitting our own brokenness and letting others see the gospel at work within us.  Awareness of God’s grace extended to us every day gives us hope and grace toward others. (more…)

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 | No Comments »

Strategically Making Disciples Into the Future

What is your part as a laborer in your corner of the harvest?  What might kingdom fruit look like in your sphere of influence?  We believe these questions are on the hearts of all of us in the district.

In light of this, how do we all think strategically to fulfill the EFCA vision of raising up a million disciple-makers—an undertaking worthy of our best effort together?  Dan Moose, Dave Linde, and I, in consulting with ministry leaders over the years, have found the following five-fold map helpful in giving direction to fruitful, innovative kingdom initiatives in the harvest field.

  1. Think missiologically.  As the culture continues to change rapidly, becoming increasingly dissimilar to our church subculture, we do well to think of our ministry context in the same way missionaries would.  What persons around us are beyond the reach of our current ministry expressions and efforts because of cultural or subcultural differences?  Let’s seek to study, understand, appreciate, and engage a different (sub)culture so that Christ’s glory as Lord of all people—not just of those who are comfortably similar to us—will be displayed. (more…)

Thursday, December 29th, 2016 | No Comments »

Mobilizing for Outreach

Mobilizing for outreach is as essential at home as it is abroad.  In the developing world, outreach might involve agriculture, clean water, education, medical, dental care, or provision of better nutrition to gain access into any community.  The vital element is to meet legitimate needs in a manner to accomplish betterment and development.   Genuine impact gains opportunities to build meaningful relationships and to share the life-transforming power of the gospel in deed and word.

I am so grateful for like-minded individuals from our congregation and others, who choose to gather periodically for prayer, training, and encouragement.  I recently asked this group to express what following Jesus means to them.

-The number one answer was “being available
-Similarly, “my time is not my own
-“Cross-cultural relationships
-“Putting Jesus first
-“He takes me places
-“I’m a learner
-“Uncomfortable
-“Obedience
-“Sacrifice
-“JOYFUL!

(more…)

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

Will Satan Win Because of This?

Last month Dan Moose wrote a post on spiritual warfare.  In connection with that theme, consider afresh these excerpts from a familiar incident in the life of Jesus (Mark 9:17, 17, 28, 29 NIV):

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not”….

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

The tension created by the disciples’ inability to drive out the demon is not resolved until the end of the incident in Jesus’ private instruction to them.  Their question and his answer conclude the incident.  Their words should hang in our hearing as we ponder what happened.  What do we learn from this incident? (more…)

Friday, October 7th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Spiritual Warfare in Our Future Together

Spiritual warfare is a fact of life for followers of Jesus.  We may differ about how we specifically engage in that warfare, but we all agree that we are in a spiritual battle.  As we look ahead to the future of our district, we must keep this reality in mind and be equipped to engage the battle.  It may well grow worse as time goes on.  We can’t look at life and ministry only on the physical-material level.

We are living in this world but are not of this world.  Our citizenship is in heaven, and our Lord and King is Jesus, who defeated Satan the prince and power of this world at Calvary.  It is normal, then, for the prince of this world to be at odds with us as followers of Jesus, but we do not need to fear the spiritual warfare.  We are the children of God who are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit.  God says we are ‘more than conquerors through Him who loves us’ (Rom. 8:37) and ‘greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world’ (1 Jn. 4:4).  We know that in Jesus Christ we are overcomers and we know the promises and power of our God.  So how do we not let spiritual warfare take away our joy and peace or defeat us? (more…)

Monday, September 12th, 2016 | No Comments »

Disciple-Making Apprenticeship

Too often we read about disciple-making and talk about disciple-making without following through and engaging in the actual process of disciple-making.

I’d like to offer you a resource in developing the skills of someone in your church through a hands-on apprenticeship.

Beginning in October 2016, I will be leading a couple groups of disciple-making apprentices through a training regimen that will equip them to envision and create access ministries, to identify potential “persons of peace” (Luke 10) through those ministries, and to facilitate Discovery Bible Study with believers and not-yet-believers alike, introducing them to Jesus Christ directly through the pages of Scripture.

The apprentice groups will meet every other week, with morning and evening options to accommodate different schedules.  During the group meetings, we will become proficient with the discovery process and engage in reporting prayer.  In between meetings, apprentices will practice regular rhythms of spiritual disciplines (prayer & fasting, time in the Word), and invest in outreach through access ministries utilizing betterment strategies, such as adult literacy, job training and life-skill development initiatives. (more…)

Friday, July 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

Staying Connected to the Frontiers

2013--8It’s an ongoing challenge for me to stay connected with the work of frontier missions—taking the gospel to the places and peoples who have not yet heard. Recently I read a book (and have begun re-reading it) that has strengthened that connection in wonderfully unexpected ways.

In Dispatches from the Front, author Tim Keesee takes me along as his companion. He’s a journalist, explorer, culture appreciator, film maker, world wanderer, and gospel lover. The book weaves together his journal reports and reflections written in places from Egypt to Iraq, from Siberia to Albania, from China to Liberia. The places he describes and the fellow-believers he introduces are truly inspiring.

Tim brings me face to face with Christians who are suffering physical deprivation or hostile persecution—or both—yet are full of joy and carrying on a powerful (yes, powerful) witness to the reality of Jesus. I enter out-of-the-way places and meet out-of-the-limelight people and am thoroughly struck and delighted with the unmistakable, New-Testament-like reality, vitality, purpose, and victory that mark their lives. I respond with shakes of the head, laughter, tears, and prayers. I am renewed in my confidence in the power of the gospel. I am humbled by the faithfulness of believers in humble settings around the world. I look at my own circumstances differently. (more…)

Monday, January 11th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Essential Ingredients to being Disciple-Makers

Tom headshot 6-2012As one called to be a disciple-maker, I continue to learn a few essential characteristics which may bear fruit, while also identifying other rather fruitless practices.  I am indebted to many others in various networks and organizations who have gone before me.  I prayerfully pass these thoughts on to you for your consideration, and innovative practice.

Prayer is the starting point of all ministry.  We must know the mind of God and join Him in His work, as we prayerfully initiate relationships and as we pray until something happens.  We must repent of our relative prayerlessness, declare our prayerful dependence upon God for anything of eternal value to occur, and simply take Scripture at its word with regard to “the effectual, fervent prayer” of all those cloaked in the righteousness of Christ.

(more…)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

What Would Jesus Do with a Bioethical Decision?

John Kilner’s short answer to this question is this: Jesus would make the 2013--8decision—whether it’s about birth issues, death issues, or issues in between—based not on autonomy or utility, but on dignity.  This answer Dr. Kilner unpacked in a variety of ways at the bioethics conference earlier this month.  His four plenary talks addressed these themes:

  • Challenges to Human Life and Dignity That Will Rock Your World
  • Life on the Line: The Dangers of Under-treating and Over-treating in End-of-Life Decisions
  • Having a Baby the New-Fashioned Way
  • Closing Reflections: The Revolutionary Significance of Being Created in the Image of God

Human dignity arises from the image of God.  In contrast to autonomy (doing what seems right to and for me) and utility (doing what serves best the greatest number of people), dignity guides bioethical decisions through a respect for human life as created in the image of God.  So we should work for human flourishing, being careful to aim at the flourishing which only God can define.  And we should defend dignity winsomely and constructively, not by mere criticism.

(more…)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

Lessons from the Third World

In my search to understand why the Church is growing in many Dan 2015third-world countries and in places where there is rampant persecution of followers of Jesus, I read two books this summer: Killing Christians by Tom Doyle and Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale.  I highly recommend both.  My two take-away’s were (1) the need for more strategic prayer and (2) disciple-making that focuses on obedience not just teaching.

Strategic prayer is a way of life among Christians in these parts of the world.  They spend hours in prayer: weekly all-night prayer, regular times of prayer during the week, and times of fasting and praying each month.  These followers of Jesus are dependent on God for everything and their prayer life shows it.  They understand the spiritual warfare that is going on and know that only God can be victorious.

(more…)

Friday, September 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment »


©2010 EFCA NCD | Site map