Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

Emotional Health in Marriage–and All of Life

Here is a statement and two lists:

“It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” A

Top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality:  1. Using God to run from God.  2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear.  3. Dying to the wrong things.  4. Denying the past’s impact on the present.  5. Dividing our lives into “secular” and sacred compartments.  6. Doing for God instead of being with God.  7. Spiritualizing away conflict.  8. Covering our brokenness, weakness, and failure.  9. Living without limits.  10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey. B

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Monday, November 12th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Two Resources on Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation is a common topic of writing and conversation in pastoral circles these days.  This is a good thing, if we understand “spiritual formation” to refer to Christ being formed in us (Gal.

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4:19), or our lives being transformed (Rom. 12:1) from worldliness to be conformed to him (Rom. 8:29).

But there are many differing opinions as to what spiritual formation actually is, not all of which are Biblical.  And among us who try to stay anchored in the Bible, the daily dynamics of just how spiritual formation comes about is a practical and daily concern, often confusing, even frustrating.

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Monday, September 10th, 2012 | No Comments »

Electronic Giving

“On the first day of the week … 
schedule your electronic funds transfer”?

Most of us are familiar with 1 Cor. 16:1-2:

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made (NIV).

Most of us would likely say that this passage teaches us, among other things, that our giving to the Lord’s work should be systematic and regular.

I don’t know just how the early believers “set aside” a sum of money on a regular basis, but one option that 21st-century believers have is electronic funds transfer (EFT): we can have our bank automatically and regularly transfer money to our church.  That’s one way to be systematic and regular.

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Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
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Hidden Treasures

Is the average believer today “spiritually impoverished,” and if so, why?  How does God use “ordinary sufferings” to lead us back to utilizing spiritual muscles?  Can simply serving in holistic ministry provide an antidote to our common “diseases of the soul”?  For simple yet profound insights, join me in reading this brief excerpt from a devotional written to Safe Families for Children staff and volunteers by Dr. Monte Pries, SFFC Family Coach Supervisor, Santa Ana, CA .    –Tom Mouw

The more obvious focus of Safe Families is to look at the population of people we seem to most commonly engage with. We reach out to families living on the outer edges of physical, financial, and relational poverty. But poverty as it relates to you and me is most likely not to be physical, but poverty of spirit. Even for us, as born-again Christians, forgiven by the Blood of the Lamb, we are spiritually impoverished by the lack of the experience of God in our lives. We are saved, and yet we are experientially comatose and forgetful of who we are and who God is, and how we are designed to live in His ways, through His power. Isaiah (Isaiah 53:6) speaks of how we have all turned our backs and gone our own way. We are not trained; we are not devoted to living richly in His Spirit and Presence. We rely on ourselves, our own energy. We live in poverty.

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Monday, May 7th, 2012 | No Comments »

Two Resources that Reach Deep

I want to encourage you to avail yourself of two resources.  I hope to do that by assembling several quotations for you to read.  They come from Paul Tripp, a minister who reaches deep and hits bedrock issues in our lives.  In his life, ministry, and teaching he moves in the deep realities of sin, Christ, God’s word, and the recesses of the human heart.  Listen to some examples.  Then see the end of this article for my bottom line.

In light of the fact (Genesis 1-2) that we were created to be revelation receivers and life interpreters:

If it is true that all human beings are constantly trying to make sense out of life, then all of life is counseling or personal ministry.  Counseling is the stuff of human life!  We are always interpreting and always sharing our interpretations with one another.  This “sharing” ultimately amounts to advice or counsel about how to respond to life (45-46).

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Monday, April 2nd, 2012 | No Comments »

District Conference Speaker and Themes

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” This mission leads Paul to weekly speaking engagements around the world. In addition to being a gifted communicator, Paul is the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written many books on Christian Living that are read and distributed internationally (see below). He resides in Philadelphia with his wife, Luella, and has four grown children. 

Paul possesses a deep and sincere concern for the hearts of those who minister week-in-and-week-out.  He is well acquainted with the struggles of ministry leadership.  Paul has insights into the knowledge and skill of ministry leaders, as well as our heart attitudes and the danger in Western Christianity to “academize” our faith.  

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Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 | No Comments »

Eyes on the Dashboard

Each of us as pastors and church leaders has been clearly called by God to shepherd, lead, and grow His sheep.  How do we know if we are being effective faithful shepherds?  How do we know that we are being intentional and staying on track and on His task?  How do we guard against just doing church instead of being His church on His mission?  These are questions that all of us as pastors struggle with, which is a good thing. 

It is so easy to be sidetracked or derailed by good things that should be done but could be done by others; by  personal and family issues; by this new approach or that new program; by the agendas of others; and by  the ‘tyranny of the urgent.’   It is also so easy to be overwhelmed by the enormous task of reaching all people. 

What can we do to be more intentional as faithful stewards of His mission?

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 | No Comments »

Kingdom Beauty in an Election Year

I’m going to generalize and oversimplify some things in this article, but bear with me. I trust that my main point will hold.

I’ve been following the presidential race with keen interest. If I allow myself (which sometimes I do), I could waste a lot of time on RealClearPolitics.com.

But you don’t have to be a political buff—or cynic—to realize that there are serious problems in our society, that they’re getting worse, and that the divisions over how to address those problems are growing deeper.

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Intimacy With God

Intimacy With God: Drawing Ever Closer to the Almighty, by Dr. Benjamin A. Sawatsky

As is the case with so many of us at this time in history, someone can be acquainted with us on a number of different levels at church or even as colleagues in ministry together without receiving an up-close and personal window into our abiding walk with our Lord.  In the pages of Intimacy With God (IWG) we get the very rare opportunity and privilege to peek with complete transparency into what essentially amounts to a thoughtfully written journal of a FULLY devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  We are granted access to Scriptural insights, personal prayers penned in the margins of Ben’s Bible, and very personal reflections on multiple facets of Christian living and worldview. 

In these pages I unmistakably experienced what I can only describe as being “discipled” and better equipped “for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”  My own first reading of IWG came at a particularly dry time when I was experiencing some overwhelmingly strong cynicism and skepticism about the state of some churches under our care and stewardship.  The Holy Spirit used Ben’s essays and prayers to bring spiritual renewal to my soul. 

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Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 | No Comments »

How do you look at conflict?

How do you look at conflict?   I’m starting to see conflict as an opportunity for God to do a work in me and in those around me as we allow the Holy Spirit to apply Biblical truths to our lives as we work towards reconciliation.

Conflict shows our true colors, who or what is reigning in our hearts (James 4:1-3).  Words, actions and reactions come from the overflow of the heart.  The heart issues must be honestly dealt with to bring full resolution to conflict.  These heart issues can easily be or become idols.   Idols are anything put in the rightful place of our Holy Loving Creator God.  Something or someone we loved more, trusted and depended on more, or allowed to reign in the place of our God.  Idols are very deceptive and subtle.  Many times conflict is not resolved because one or more of the parties to the conflict does not see the idols or will not repent of the idols.

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Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 | 1 Comment »
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