The Role the Body Plays in Our Personal Growth 2

Posted May 8th, 2013 by Tom Mouw

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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A Timely Word on Legalism 0

Posted March 13th, 2013 by Dave Linde

I once read a wise word about the human heart from a wise pastor (I think it was the old Anglican preacher, Charles Simeon).  He said that the human heart is incurably legal.  That is, we all have an insistent bent toward relating to God in a legal arrangement:

     If I do this, God will do that.  
     I must do this if God is to do that. 
     If God is doing that, then I must have done this.

From this outlook it’s a short and inevitable step to including others:

     They must do this (just like me) if God is to do that.

This way of relating to God—legalism—has been around from the start and has taken many forms through the centuries.  The Pharisees who opposed Jesus were some of the most notable legalists.  One of the reasons the gospel writers wrote so vividly about the Pharisees was to prompt their readers to examine their own lives to see where Pharisaism was lurking.

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How is your heart? 0

Posted February 18th, 2013 by Dan Moose

How is your heart?  We don’t think about it much do we?  It usually takes a sickness or something not working right with our bodies before we even stop to consider our heart.   I have two friends who found out that their heart has an irregular heartbeat.   They have “a-fib,” atrial fibrillation.  Because their hearts are not properly functioning, they lack energy, which affects their whole lifestyle.  This condition is not fatal, but it does put them at risk for other medical complications and clearly hampers their productivity.  Both are receiving medical treatment, but at the current time their hearts are not in proper rhythm.  So how is your physical heart?  When is the last time you had it checked out?

The harder question is, how is your spiritual heart doing?  We know that our hearts are created to worship.  God wants us to love and worship him with all our hearts.  Though our hearts have been redeemed and transformed by the completed work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, they are still deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and are idol factories.  Our hearts are always seeking someone or something to worship.  “Worship is like a fire hose that has gotten stuck in the ‘on’ position and is endlessly shooting water out with great force.  We must decide where to aim the hose.  That is choosing the focus of our worship” (Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, Gospel Coach, Zondervan, 2012, p. 83).

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A Timely Book for a Timely Topic 0

Posted January 8th, 2013 by Dave Linde

An important book has appeared in the midst of the cultural and theological discussions about homosexuality and the gay movement.  Although published in 2010, Washed and Waiting  did not come to my attention until recently.  In this vivid and poignant account, Wesley Hill takes his readers on a personal journey in response to the question:  What do you do when…

  • from your earliest recollections as a boy you have had same-sex attraction;
  • you grew up in a secure Christian home, trusting in Christ and following him from childhood, and there is no environmental cause—such as a troubled relationship with your father or sexual assault by an adult—for your homosexual orientation;
  • you find interpretations of the Bible that justify homosexuality unsound; rather, you believe the Bible teaches that homosexual practice is contrary to God’s design and will;
  • you rejoice at how reparative therapy has helped many homosexuals become heterosexual, but in your own experience therapy has never produced that change?

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Emotional Health in Marriage–and All of Life 1

Posted November 12th, 2012 by Tom Mouw

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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Two Resources on Spiritual Formation 0

Posted September 10th, 2012 by Dave Linde

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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Electronic Giving 1

Posted June 6th, 2012 by Dave Linde

“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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Hidden Treasures 0

Posted May 7th, 2012 by Tom Mouw

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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Two Resources that Reach Deep 0

Posted April 2nd, 2012 by Dave Linde

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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District Conference Speaker and Themes 0

Posted March 6th, 2012 by Tom Mouw

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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