Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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Friday, September 11th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Recalibrating with EFCA Past and Future

EFCA One, the biennial national conference, was
very meaningful to me 2013--8this year.  Not that other national conferences haven’t been, but there was something extra special about this year’s.  The presidential transition, of course, was historic, and the training sessions that I attended were excellent.  But the plenary-session speakers were particularly challenging to heart and ministry.

Bill Hamel’s final address, coupled with Kevin Kompelien’s vision as the new president, are a good way to recalibrate your alignment with EFCA mission and vision.  I’m grateful for Bill and his legacy and I’m pleased with Kevin’s election.  Among other things, he will bring to the table a cross-cultural sensitivity that will help us with the changing face of American culture.

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Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Making Hay this Summer

Many of you have heard the old farm idiom “make hay while the sun is shining.” Dan 2015 Most Minnesotans practice making hay while the sun is shining very well.  In fact, from Memorial Day till after Labor Day there are several ministries in every church that are put on hold because our people are out enjoying the results of the sun—extended daylight and warmth.  And it is very easy to understand after our long winters where we only see our neighbors driving into their garages and we don’t have much outdoor interactions with others.  Summer then becomes a time of recreating and getting together with our friends.  But how do we as followers of Jesus make kingdom hay while the sun is shining?  How do we take advantage of the summer as individuals and churches?

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

In the Name of Jesus Ministry

I found myself quoting this brief little book AGAIN last night with a friend, so I’m dropping you a brief summary, more as a devotional thought than a book report, or even a commendation to read it …

May these brief thoughts stimulate you today, in your genuine desire to minister in the name of Jesus, to be compelled and empowered by His transforming love, and whenever possible, to minister together with another fellow laborer in the harvest.  –Tom M

This very short  book is entitled In the Name of Jesus, by the late Henri Nouwen.

Seciton I.   From relevance to prayer (on intimacy with God)
According to Nouwen, he was, and we can be, praying poorly, isolated from people, preoccupied with issues, and suppressing the Holy Spirit.  If you can relate to that at some level, his counsel was to Live among the poor in spirit; they will heal you.”  I have applied his counsel to my own life many times and would echo it as good medicine for my own soul and ministry.

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Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Annual Conference Focuses on Church Multiplication and District Succession

The 2015 district conference featured Jan David Hettinga speaking on multiplication.  Drawing on his own experience in leading a church that has produced a network of 20 churches, Jan talked about multiplying followers, leaders, and churches.  This multiplication arises from four values in the church: the supremacy of Christ, community, transformation, and multiplication.  Multiplication flows from the other three values; if they are not in place, multiplication will stall.

Jan led a workshop on pastoral succession, while his wife, Scharme, led one on a woman’s identity in Christ as foundational to ministry.  Other workshops touched on themes that included disciplemaking, family nurture, justice issues, young leaders, and practical community involvement.

The conference also heard from EFCA president Bill Hamel and presidential nominee Kevin Kompelien.  These men reminded us of where the EFCA has been over the last two decades and where it’s headed in the future—themes related to the overall conference focus on multiplication.

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

Why attend the NCD Conference?

Hettinga-Jan & Shareme croppedSeveral reasons to come to the district conference March 16-17
You will hear from Dr Jan Hettinga with a wealth of pastoral experience, a practitioner who God has bless with a 20 church network of daughter and granddaughter churches, all shared humbly.  It was said of him after our 2008 conference, “You can bring him back next year, and it won’t be too soon!”  Both he and his wife, Scharme, make themselves available to interact in a large-hearted way with pastors and wives.

Monday, February 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

How do your preconceived ideas affect the way you follow Jesus?

Those ideas that you accepted from others or you formed Dan cropped 4.13beforehand without all or at least adequate information.   We all have them.  Jesus shows us how he dealt with some of Peter’s preconceived
ideas.   Look at Matthew 16:15-23,

He (Jesus) said to them,“But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it  …… 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

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Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 | No Comments »


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