Walking With God 1

Posted February 15th, 2016 by Dan Moose

Dan 2015How do you relate to God?  We talk about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Is our personal walk with God and focus on God shown by our treasuring Him, communion with Him and living by faith in God?   I recently read With by Skye Jethany which challenged me regarding my relationship to God.  I wanted to say I walk with God, but was shown how I easily use my relationship with God to try to manipulate Him to do what I want.  Not pretty nor godly!

In the book, the author discusses four ways that we relate to God in our need and desire to be restored to our right relationship of being with God; life under God, life over God, life from God, and life for God.   Each one finds its roots in Biblical teaching, but as people we tend to push it to an extreme for our benefit.  Here is a short synopsis of each…

Life under God is based out Deuteronomy 28 where God calls us to obey and worship Him only and promises that He will bless us for our obedience.  We can focus on obedience to God instead of loving God with our worship and obedience flowing out of our love for Him.  In fact, it is easy to tell God He must bless us because of our obedience or worship.  Obedience becomes an idol.  The Pharisees in Matthew 23 are an example.

Life over God is relating to God by living out His principles and expecting God’s blessing.  It is focusing on the needed knowledge of divine principles and studying Scripture to discover those principles instead of studying the Bible to know God.  We see this in many seminars that promise if you do these three or five principles you will get your desired results.  Biblical principles become an idol.  Moses in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 is an example….he followed the principle but did not listen to or love God. Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Connected to the Frontiers 1

Posted January 11th, 2016 by Dave Linde

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Essential Ingredients to being Disciple-Makers 1

Posted November 18th, 2015 by Tom Mouw

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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What Would Jesus Do with a Bioethical Decision? 0

Posted October 20th, 2015 by Dave Linde

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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Lessons from the Third World 1

Posted September 11th, 2015 by Dan Moose

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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Recalibrating with EFCA Past and Future 0

Posted July 30th, 2015 by Dave Linde

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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Making Hay this Summer 0

Posted June 9th, 2015 by Dan Moose

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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In the Name of Jesus Ministry 1

Posted May 12th, 2015 by Tom Mouw

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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Annual Conference Focuses on Church Multiplication and District Succession 0

Posted March 23rd, 2015 by the NCD Staff

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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Why attend the NCD Conference? 0

Posted February 16th, 2015 by Tom Mouw
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.

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