Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

Don’t Misunderstand Grace

Grace is what every person needs.  Without grace, no one can be saved, nor can anyone walk in the fullness of a transformed life in Jesus Christ.Dan cropped 4.13

Many times grace is misunderstood.  Grace misunderstood teaches us easy-believism for salvation (prayer of accepting Jesus and going on my way) and gives us license to do what I want instead of obediently following Jesus.  On the other hand, grace misunderstood causes many to buy into the idea that we are saved by grace, but must work out our salvation in our own strength.   But Titus 2:11-14 says:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, who are zealous for good works (ESV).

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Thursday, March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

Tests of the Fire

These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.  So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

The following is excerpted from the introductory chapter titled Tests of the Fire, from the book, Hope for Tough Times, by Mary J. Nelson. I am very grateful to Mary for how she has Tom headshot 6-2012ministered to our family, personally and through her gift for writing.  I pass this along for the sake of a number of key ministry leaders I am working with at this time, and perpetually, who are in the midst of tests of the fire, and may need a little more hope for tough times.  Trusting this will minister to many.
–Tom Mouw

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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 | No Comments »

Significant Changes in EFCA Ministerial Credentials

2013--8Recently the EFCA national Board of Ministerial Standing approved a number of revisions to the ministerial credentialing policy.  Among the changes are the following.  Take note, because they might have significant implications for you.

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First, there is no longer a full-time (30 hours per week) requirement.  Persons engaged in a qualifying ministry that is part-time or bi-vocational are now eligible.  The rationale for this change is a desire to provide credentials for a growing number of pastors, such as church planters, whose ministries require a part-time or bi-vocational arrangement.

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Thursday, January 9th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

A Credentialing Annoyance Leading to a Christmas Greeting

I am a little annoyed by a classic question that is asked of licensing and ordination candidates in the EFCA.  2013--8The question springs from a passage that can easily be seen as a “Christmas text.”  In Philippians 2 Paul refers to

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (ESV).

The classic theological question from this passage is, What did Christ empty himself of?  It’s a question about his incarnation, so it’s fitting to think about it in this Christmas season.

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Monday, December 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

Lessons from Leith Anderson

2013--8Last month we were privileged to have Leith Anderson as our speaker at Pastors Teaching Conference.  Leith’s thirty-plus years as lead pastor of Wooddale Church, his fruitful track record, and his present perspective as evangelical statesman and worldwide observer made him a rich source of wisdom. He shared a number of principles of ministry and leadership.  Here are some that especially caught my attention.

Yesterday’s successes can be a major barrier to today’s innovation.  What we have succeeded at in the past is what we will tend to keep doing.  But that may not be meeting today’s need.  Beware of refusing to change something that was successful in the past.

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Friday, November 1st, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Facing distress?

Many times over the years, in times of challenge and difficulty, whether in ministry or my personal life, I have reached for these quotes from the book WhenTom headshot 6-2012 God Interrupts: Finding New Life Through Unwanted Change.

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From the first to the last, as I reflect upon these nuggets of Biblical insight and wisdom, the Spirit of the Living God has lent helpful perspective to situations that otherwise defy explanation or reason. I share them with you now, in hopes that you too, will be helped through degrees of “impossibility,” or at the very least, “unmanageability.”  For the Glory of God.

Excerpts from When God Interrupts: Finding New Life Through Unwanted Change (M. Craig Barnes, IVP, 1996)

Friday, October 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

Pastoral Leadership: A Challenging Role in a Changing Church & Culture

2013--8Pastors Teaching Conference,              Oct. 7-8, 2013

Here’s an invitation to join us for next month’s Pastors Teaching Conference.  Our speaker this year is Leith Anderson, former lead pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, and currently president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

We are really pleased that Leith will be us.  He brings a wealth of wisdom to the conference.  His many years as local-church pastor, his familiarity with the evangelical sub-culture in the USA, and his grasp of the secular culture have equipped him well to equip us well.  Leith’s faithful tenure at Wooddale—spanning more than thirty years—was characterized by church health, cultural engagement, fruitful evangelism, and productive church-planting.  He led the congregation through numerous changes and has seen most of what there is to see in local-church ministry.  His wisdom, expressed in his weekly ministry, his speaking, and his writing, is respected across the evangelical landscape.

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Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 | No Comments »

Am I a Good Christ?

Tom headshot 6-2012Twice within a week’s time I was admonished to consider, “to what extent others might experience walking with Christ as they spend time with me?”  The first occasion was in reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s latest book, Joni & Ken, An Untold Love Story.  In it, she relates one of she and her husband’s lowest points in their journey with cancer 2-3 years ago.  In chapter nine, which is entitled UNFATHOMABLE DEPTHS, Joni is on the brink of succumbing to pneumonia, and she becomes impressed by a thought that Ken has actually incarnated Christ to her, as he intervenes over and over for her, to physically ward off the life-threatening effects of that infirmity, as an answer to her unspoken, desperate prayers for the Lord’s intervention.

The second occasion was when a friend and mentor sent me the following article.

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Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 | No Comments »

Counting that Helps

Dan cropped 4.13Everyone has things they count and keep track of.  Why?  We usually count so we can know how we are progressing in our plans and what we need to adjust to meet our goals.  In the church, is what we are counting truly helping the church reach her ministry goals? Or is it hindering the church?

The purpose of most evangelical churches is to glorify God through a growing body of Christ-followers who are reaching their world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As part of its purpose statement, a church often describes how they plan to make disciples, do mission, multiply, and advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Does what we count help us meet these goals?

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Friday, June 7th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

The Role the Body Plays in Our Personal Growth

I have been challenged this past year or so to re-think some of my previous patterns of personal growth and my walk with God.  Very simply, I am a bit of a “morning person” and I enjoy reading Scripture, along with a broad spectrum of theology, leadership, the church, etc.  So, my pursuit of intimacy with God and my slow, steady progress toward greater spiritual maturity has included rather little involvement by others.  This has been more out of practice than out of conviction.

Sure, I have several great groups and teams of ministry leaders around me on a regular basis, and I love to “mix it up” with various gatherings of ministry leaders and pastors.  However, I haven’t really “leaned on” fellow members of the Body in ways that might otherwise have been quite profitable.  Candidly, it was only as I began to struggle with some cynicism that I reached out to a handful of men who, to my great benefit, consistently over time, have come alongside of me with their wisdom, insights, and most importantly, their genuine care.

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Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 | 2 Comments »


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