Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

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?


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

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.


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. 


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.


Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 | 1 Comment »
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The Three Opportunities

“As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict.  We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ.”  From THE PEACEMAKER’S PLEDGE, Peacemaker Ministries  

Let’s acknowledge that “opportunity” is not the first word that comes to mind when confronted with a conflicted situation, especially if we ourselves are one of the parties in that conflict.  However, after further, prayerful consideration, we may properly conclude that biblical resolution to the matter does hold great potential.  Let’s briefly examine the three opportunities mentioned in the pledge above. 


Saturday, October 8th, 2011 | No Comments »

God’s Command to Multiply

Bob Nieuwendorp was the church planting director for the NCD from 1999 to 2008.  For the past 4 months Bob has been struggling with cancer.  Since going back into the pastorate in 2008, multiplying disciples and churches has grown.  I would like to share with you Bob’s summarization of God’s command to multiply.

“When God created the universe, world, and all living creatures He issued a command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.  And rule over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the face of the earth.”  (Underline mine)  In Gen. 1:22 He had previously verbalized His intention for the sea creatures, monsters, as well as the birds to multiply.  Thus, Gen. 1:28 is the first command that God gave to our first parents.


Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 | No Comments »

Church Health in the Old Testament?

Here in the NCD we talk a lot about healthy churches.  More recently we’ve been talking a lot about emotionally healthy spirituality, a main root of church health.  Are these concepts Biblical?

One Biblical place we can find them is the book of Proverbs.  Wisdom is the theme of this book.  Wisdom is skill—skill for living.  It refers to the ability to function well in life, navigating the realities of life (such as relationships, values, and work) with God at the center (the fear of the Lord) and his instruction (the law, Scripture) guiding our steps.   In this light I think we can regard wisdom as roughly equivalent to “church health” or “emotionally healthy spirituality.”  Proverbs thus offers us Biblical footing for understanding and cultivating “health” in our inner man, our families, and our churches.


Friday, July 8th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Being a Steward of Our Master’s Interests

“A steward is not supposed to manage things for his own pleasure, convenience, or benefit.  Instead, he is expected to follow his master’s instructions and look out for his master’s interests, even if they conflict with his own personal desires or convenience….

“The concept of stewardship is especially relevant to peacemaking.  Whenever you are involved in a conflict, God has given you a management opportunity.  He has empowered you through the gospel and entrusted you with abilities and spiritual resources.  His Word clearly explains how he wants you to manage the situation.  The more faithfully you draw on his grace and follow his instructions, the more likely you are to see a constructive solution and genuine reconciliation.” 1 (more…)

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 | No Comments »

Helping Pastors with Sexual Purity

Sexual compromise + fear + silence = growing trouble.  This is true for any Christian.  It is true for pastors.  Maybe you and I are stumbling on the internet (for example), viewing sexually explicit material.  We tell no one about it because we are afraid of the consequences to our families or to our ministries.  So we continue in the bondage of guilt and shame and loss of power.  And we feed a growing reservoir of trouble that will eventually burst a dam.

Yet this enslaving cycle—sin, guilt, confession, resolve, sin, guilt, confession, resolve—within the self-perpetuating shroud of silence may be a reality for as many as half of the men in our congregations and as many as a third of the pastors.  (This according to various studies.)


Thursday, April 28th, 2011 | No Comments »

Equipping Leaders for the Harvest

What “game-changing” impact would you make in your own life and the lives of your congregants, if it was within your power to do so?   Mine would look something like EQUIPPING laborers and leaders for greater, sanctified OBEDIENCE and for maximum MULTIPLICATION (“100-60-30-Fold Harvest” Matt 13).  Aren’t we all cultivating, planting, and reaping in our Master’s field toward that very end? 


Monday, April 4th, 2011 | No Comments »
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