Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

Will You Join Us at the Fall Teaching Conference?

If you teach the Bible as part of your ministry responsibilities, the upcoming Fall Teaching Conference is for you.  You may teach formally or informally, in front of a large gathering or one-on-one over coffee.  Either way, the Fall Teaching Conference is for you.  Or you may be a church leader who rarely teaches, but you hunger to know and apply The Book of Acts to your life and ministry.  The Fall Teaching Conference is for you.

On October 3-4, in the casual and relaxed atmosphere of Camp Shamineau, men and women, lay and staff, pastors and ministry leaders, singles and marrieds will join for fellowship around Jesus Christ and what he teaches us in The Book of Acts.

The Book of Acts—probably a favorite of us all.  We are rightly drawn to its vigor, its courage, its hope, its Christ-centeredness, its Holy Spirit power, its advance of the gospel, its heroes and anti-heroes.  There are so many things to aspire to in this book, and so many perils to avoid.  No wonder it’s a frequent focus of our sermons, lessons, personal meditation, and strategic methods.

Yet do we know how to read Acts well?  We tend to read portions of it with great care, extracting principles for this or that aspect of following Jesus.  But do we read it as a whole?  Do we understand its unfolding message from beginning to end?  Do we read it in light of Luke’s first volume, The Gospel of Luke?  And what about our pick-and-choose method of applying Acts?  We seem to be quick to use it to support such things as deacons, disciple-making, regional gospel influence, team ministry, and missions.  But we are slow to use it to support choosing of leaders by lot, speaking in tongues, pooling of personal possessions, healing, and visions.  On what basis do we choose?  How can we know if we are applying Acts soundly? (more…)

Monday, July 17th, 2017 | No Comments »

Why Move 2068 Miles?

moving mapAccording to Google Maps, it is 2068 miles from our old house in California to our new home in Minnesota. That. Is. A. Long. Way! 2068 miles…the drive alone sounds exhausting. (And our commute will actually be a bit longer, since our family is taking the scenic route through Austin, TX, so we can join other EFCA pastors and church leaders from around the world at EFCA One). Over the last few months, many people have asked me why we would make this move. Let me take a few moments, here at the beginning of my ministry, to share why we are moving from there to here.

Because God Has Called Us to the North Central District
First, our decision to move to Minnesota is the result of a deep conviction that God has called us to serve Him by serving the North Central District. A significant part of this conviction comes from an internal sense of calling, God’s leading in our hearts. More than that, our calling has been confirmed by those who know us best and solidified through the vote of the gathered pastors and church leaders at our recent NCD conference. These things come together to give us a strong, resilient belief that we are called to serve the pastors, church leaders, and churches of the NCD. I am thankful for this, since I imagine sometime in mid-January I will wake up on an icy morning and wonder, “What have we done?” (more…)

Monday, June 12th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Gratefully Bidding Farewell to One Call, Eagerly Engaging the Next Call

The stories coming out of East Africa are heartbreaking, as parents are forced to leave children behind, too emaciated to continue with other siblings to receive the food and water that are part of the current relief from the devastating famine.  We have an unprecedented opportunity to join with a broad cross-section of people of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith working side-by-side to pack meals destined for the hardest hit areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan.

Click here to make a difference.

Please sign up to invest a few hours June 2-5 to show up, join in, and reach out with kindness and the love of God to vulnerable people here at home and in East Africa.  As I have gathered with leaders from diverse faith communities in recent weeks, I have assured them of the willingness of an army of people of peace to mobilize together from our Free Church association of churches, and Lord willing, all backgrounds to work together to feed the famished.

As I prepare to bid ‘farewell’ to the NCD after 27 years of service, I am convinced there has never been an opportunity comparable to this to demonstrate the compassion of Christ to other members of our community by responding to a crisis of this scope and magnitude.  And in so doing, we can get outside the four walls, build bridges with hundreds of foreign-born friends and neighbors, and make a gospel impact.
(more…)

Friday, May 12th, 2017 | No Comments »

Greetings From Brian Farone

Brothers and Sisters of the NCD,

First, I want thank you for a conference we will never forget. We were overwhelmed by your warm welcome, gracious spirit and enthusiastic support. I want to say a special word of thanks to DS Search Team for all they invested in Teri and me. Likewise, I am so grateful to the NCD Board of Directors for their heart for this district, for their thorough and sometimes challenging questions, and for their candor throughout this process. Thanks, too, to the NCD staff, and especially Tom Mouw, for the warm reception they gave our family. I can’t wait to work with the NCD Team!

In case you weren’t at the conference, I want to take a moment to summarize what I shared in my conference message.

-I shared about our journey over the last five months leading up to the NCD conference and my nomination as the next DS.

-I spoke of my sense that the district is not asking me to bring in a “bolt-on, artificial, slap-on-top, got-it-in-a-book” kind of vision. Rather, I hear you asking me to listen, gather, clarify, and champion a new, shared vision for how the NCD serves pastors, church leaders, and churches, both now and into the future.

-The heart of my message focused on five passages that shape how I serve pastors, church leaders, and churches. These passages are at the very heart of my ministry values. They are:

  1. Our Mission (Matthew 28:18-20)
  2. Speaking Truth and Hearing Truth (Proverbs 27:6)
  3. The Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
  4. Sharing Life Together (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
  5. Calling Leaders to Rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

(more…)

Friday, April 7th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

Praise for a Nominee in Answer to Prayer

Over these many months, we have all declared our prayerful dependence upon the Father to raise up a leader to serve the purposes of God for this generation.  We rejoice that Brian Farone has answered God’s call, “Here am I Lord, send me.”  God has been gracious to us, answered our prayers in an extraordinary way, and demonstrated His powerful presence in the midst of our circumstances.

I am taking this opportunity to offer my enthusiastic commendation of Brian as the next Superintendent of the North Central District, pending confirmation at the district conference.  Each of us on the District Directional Team has interacted with Brian in various dimensions of EFCA National ministries, and all of us have a high regard for him as a gifted servant-leader raised up by God from within our movement.  We extend heartfelt appreciation to the search committee and our board of directors for their discernment and wisdom throughout the process. (more…)

Friday, March 10th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

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 »


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