Join Me In Prayer!

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Dear brothers and sisters,

 

Our annual conference at Grace church in Toledo is a mere 11 days away. This year we will complete our 5-year vision of the path to genuine discipleship:

 

Worship
Community
Outreach
Leadership Development
Marriage and Family Life

 

This year Clay McLean from North Carolina will be our guest speaker for the plenary sessions. As usual we will have an outstanding array of workshops built around our theme.

 

This will also be a year when the MMC (Missions and Ministry Council) will be doing some serious discussion regarding the future and trajectory of the ARC, so please stand with us in prayer

 

And in light of that direction for the MMC would you take a few minutes and take a stab at the following questions? It will genuinely help us in our discussions

 

  1. Who are some people outside the ARC that have been influential in your life?
  2. How has the ARC in general been a help to you on your journey of faith?
  3. What are your hopes for the ARC in the years to come?
  4. What are the 2 or 3 most influential books in your life besides the Bible?

 

Don’t spend too much energy on this but we would like to get a general feel from you about these things. And, please fill this out whether or not you will be attending the conference

 

If you could get this done by Monday, April 4, that would be ideal. Send your reflections to me at nedberube@gmail.com

 

Thanks so much for your help and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the conference.

 

Peace

 

Ned

 

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Worthy of Honor!

I am presently sitting at a restaurant at JFK airport in NYC, headed in a few hours to São Paulo, Brazil (March 9). But as I sit here, my wife is sitting with her 94 year old mother as she probably lives her last few hours on this earth. (She passed away on March 12.) I sat with Sue’s mom 3 days ago when I went up to Spooner (Cornerstone Church) to preach on Sunday. It was a remarkably sweet time, I would never be anyone’s first choice to go and minister at a nursing home. I’m uncomfortable with the depth of primitive needs and the empathy required to serve in a good way. But Granny (Lorraine St. Peter) was aware that I was there and I helped her to eat breakfast. Small bites, making sure they were delivered as desired (“Make sure you dip the cinnamon roll in the coffee.”) Continue reading “Worthy of Honor!”

Nothing Stands Still

change_ahead_signMy mentor/pastor for 18 years (1991-2009) was Ray Nethery, the founder of the ARC. I talked with Ray on a weekly basis for most of those years and we developed a woderful relationship. He cared for me (and still does) as I sorted through the demands of pastoral ministry and personal growth. Early on in that relationship He shared a very short and very real perspective on a particular frustration I was encountering. And though it was not particularly meaningful at the time, his words have returned multiple times and helped to ground me in the reality of ministry in a broken and challenging world.

He said this in response to my exasperation with whatever was bothering me (I can’t recall the issue): “Ned, nothing stands still.”

Okay. Good enough. I know that. You most likely know that as well. But upon further reflection in the swirl of ministry, I began to see my own heart in the matters that challenge all of us. In truth, I deeply wanted everything to “STAND Still !!” Why? Because then I could control what was going on and make clear headed decisions that would solve problems and help people move on in a fixed environment that would yield to my pristine wisdom. Or something close to that.

But what I was hoping for was a reasonable solution that would help either the church or an individual to “get it” and we could keep moving forward to a good conclusion. And then onto the next problem and so forth. Now, in truth, it has never been like that in all of the 40 years that I have been a leader among my people. And, aah, there was the rub. I was largely acting like all of this belonged to me. I would never say that but more often than not I was acting like that. But, you know, nothing stands still. There are so many moving parts in a church or a human life that demand a very present relationship with Jesus. He continues to believe that He alone is the Head of the church, His people for whom He laid down His life.

So really, living well and fruitfully within the calling bequeated to us by Jesus will mean that we sustain an open ear to the One who has the next move or the next response. He is sovereign and gracious and expects that His leaders will learn Him, and learn His ways. And respond accordingly.

Think with me for a moment of the myriad of moving parts that make up your life and ministry:

    *You grow and change.

         How I thought and acted at the age of 26 is profoundly different than my present stately age of 67. I have gone through multiple seasons and challenges that have pushed me rightly back to my dependence on a Savior to make sense of all of this. And He does.

    *Everone else changes as well

         If you’re married, I perhaps need to say no more! You got married with a very clear but insufficient set of hopes and expectations. And then she changed! And you had to adjust. And she to you as well. It’s a bit of a dance, right? And if you dance properly to the music. you have to learn the steps. With a partner who is also learning and growing. And in so many church situations, people come and go, sometimes with very little sense of the values that you hold so dearly. Nothing stands still

    *The circumstances of life and ministry change

         You get older. You get sick. You get depressed. You feel like you should stretch out to a new path. Or fill in the blank. We need for sure a clear sense of the promises of God that never change but the milieu where we must apply them is always moving. And if we don’t have a living relationship with Jesus through His Spirit, we easily get exhausted. This is Paul’s remedy: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit”. And the Spirit alone sees clearly and knows the next steps, the best approach and how to engage what lies before us. But that will always call for waiting, listening and quietly trusting His wisdom that will frequently push against your own conclusions.

    *We are not called to control anything but to respond like a servant, to do the bidding of a Master

         Just before He went to the cross, Jesus said this: “Whoever serves me must follow me. And where I am , there will my servant be also” (John 12:26). This is how I hear these words. You’re not in charge of anything ultimately. Jesus is and He’s very good at this. His expectation is that your service to Him will be a deliberate following to wherever He is in any circumstance or with any person. He’s someplace, thinking something. And serving will always mean following to where He is. This is walking by the Spirit

And of course there are thousands more things to add. But if nothing stands still, I have to move with Him. He’s always right. And being where He is is our greatest motivation. I love David’s heart in Psalm 23. The shepherd gets him beside still water, feeds him in green pastures and out of that place leades him into paths of righteousness. So often we look for that leading but we’re not very quiet or recptive. More often than not we’re trying to control or figure out the dilemma, whatever it is. But He is so keen on leading us. Calling us to follow and get to where He is. And it’s in that place that His will is done and His fruit ensues

So, yes, nothing stands still. But Jesus remains unconfused and not nervous. He does the right thing and says the right words in every circumstance. And is willing to teach all of us His ways. This is our wonderful lot and will remain such until He returns.

May He grant us abundant grace to follow Him in the swirl of everything moving and changing at increasingly rapid movements

More than French Fries

French FriesLast Sunday I was speaking at my home church (St Paul Fellowship) from the passage in John 4, with some emphasis on how Jesus was revealing himself to his disciples through the way he related to the Samaritan woman at the well. Before I actually delivered the sermon I went down to the basement of the church. And in truth, it’s what I always do before I speakto thoroughly empty my bladder so that I am not “uneasy” with emergencies that are difficult to respond to if one is in the middle of public speaking. You get my drift.

 

Upon returning to the sanctuary, I poked my head into the nursery where most of my grandchildren were being nursery attendees. My youngest grandchild, Cora, spotted me , gave me a big smile and said “French fries?”. It was very charming. Part of my grandfatherly commitments is to drive her 5 year old brother, Finn, to school and often to return him home after his 3 hour stint at preschool. And often , at that noon hour I stop by McDonald’s and pick up some chicken nuggets and french fries for lunch. And Cora is a huge fan of french fries. Consequently, whenever she sees me, “french fries” is the first words out of her mouth. I am THE PROVIDER OF FRENCH FRIES to Cora. From her vantage point , that is the key element of our relationship. And I’m good with that. No major emotional struggles on my part.

 

But I thought about our sweet little encounter as I got back to the sanctuary. And as I preached, I wove that example into the sermon. In the early part of their discipleship, the followers of Jesus had a very truncated view of just who he was and what he was up to on this mission and how they were to be part of it. He was the miracle worker, the one who would restore Israel to the greatness of the Davidic kingdom. But here he was in John 4 breaking the rules, talking to a Samaritan woman who was a BAD Samaritan woman. He was pushing them beyond the comfortable bounds that they had constructed in their heart of how the Messiah would behave and what his priorities would be.

 

So back to Cora and her french fries. This is what I might say to this beautiful little 18 month old that I dearly love. “You know, Cora, I’m glad to give you french fries and it is my pleasure indeed. But there is so much more that I want to give you that you will only perceive if you grow up and stay in relationship with me. I want to give you things that will help you live the very best kind of life that a human being can live. Right now you have no real idea of who I am and what I can bring to you. French fries? Sure. But as you grow up you will find that there are an unending series of things that I will give you that will do nothing but help you to live the very fullest kind of life that you were created for. And hopefully you will see me as so much more than french fries”

 

My oldest grandchild, Claire, is almost 12 and when she sees me she usually says something like “Hi Grandpa. I’ve missed you.” She’s the one who is the beneficiary of all the loose change I collect and periodically pass on to her with the stipulation that she gives 10% to the church or someone in need. And she does it. And she doesn’t love me merely for the loose change. She loves me in a healthy 12 year old way. I love it.

 

And here’s the big matter. So many believers in Jesus see him because he’s good for french fries . Or loose change. And there is so much more that he wants to impart to us. And for sure, this all requires growing up in Jesus and in the faith. But if Cora is 12 and all she sees me as is the french fry guy, that will be sad. And when Claire turns 18 and all she sees is the loose change guy, well, I won’t pout. But I want to give her so much more.

 

The story of the development of the disciples is so remarkable. Even at the Ascension in Luke 1, they were still laboring under a very limited view of who Jesus was. They were about to receive the Holy Spirit and that changed so much for them. I love Peter’s heart in his 2nd epistle where he relates that he is about to pass over into eternity. And he says these very wonderful words: “I think it is right as long as I am in this body to stir you up by way of reminder since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:13-14 ). This is the expression of a man who had grown up, and was now understanding the deep value of who this Jesus is. And he’s taking a place of imparting to fellow believers the weight and the value of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was more than french fries.

 

Jesus is so much more than the small dimensions that we tend to put on him. There is so much more that he wants to give to us. So much more that he desires to reveal to us. And to that glorious reality, I will continue to pray for you. And I solicit your prayers for me as well, that I don’t reduce this King to someone who just gives me stuff, but rather the one who constantly seeks to give Himself and the riches of his kingdom to such as us.

 

Peace and blessing to all of you,

 

Ned

Learning to Mourn

It has been a little over a month since our annual ARC conference. And, yes, it was the best ever. Dave Johnson did an excellent job of not only parsing the Beatitudes but applying that spiritual weight into our lives with great skill. Nice work, Mr. Johnson!

This conference was the conclusion of the first step in our plan to undergird a pastoral approach to the call to make disciples. We are addressing 5 main elements in this process:

  • WORSHIP
  • COMMUNITY
  • OUTREACH
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
  • FAMILY LIFE AND MARRIAGE

Continue reading “Learning to Mourn”

“And the winner is…”

Dear Friends,

I have a Valentine’s Day tale for all of you that will probably get me in trouble with some of you. But that’s never stopped me before, so here goes.

Tuesday was the day. Another Hallmark Conspiracy Day, as I like to name them. But romance is good, and I love my wife, so we went out to a movie and dinner. Sue especially likes to see some of the Academy Award nominated films before the big show, so I found that “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close “was playing at 4:30 and we headed out because it was playing in an area where there are a few pretty good restaurants. Perfect, right? Not so quick.

There was a large line at the theater and I thought, “Hmm…this film must be better than I anticipated”. Continue reading ““And the winner is…””

Another Voice on Advent

I’d like to take a fresh path with these ARC monthly updates and introduce and highlight some of the other leaders in the ARC.

I recently read Mike Sares’ newsletter for December and he brought up the church calendar, Advent in particular.

I like his reference to Isaiah and festival keeping and it’s one of the things I like about the church calendar. It presses us to focus on the things that truly shape our worship—–like the Incarnation, and the Resurrection, and the outpouring of the Spirit as the new covenant community is launched on its mission. Continue reading “Another Voice on Advent”

Changes and Updates

Dear friends,

Rick Widener just informed me that I have spent 30 of the past 60 days in Ohio. And though I appreciate many things about the great state of Ohio, I am very glad to be home in Minnesota.

Much of my time in Ohiowas spent with Grace Fellowship Church in Mansfield, which is sorting through a tough season of leadership change. A year ago, GFC had 3 new elders and a new pastor/presiding elder. It would be both improper and impossible to go through all the details here, Continue reading “Changes and Updates”

The 20/20 Vision in Action

Over the past few weeks, I have led the first 3 seminars related to the ARC 20/20 Vision that was conceived last April just before the annual conference. It sounds a bit ambitious, I know, but it has energized me and the call I’ve been given to help lead our churches into good pasture. Over a 10 years period, beginning this year and ending in 2020, we will focus on 5 major elements of what constitutes the making of a disciple. Continue reading “The 20/20 Vision in Action”

A New Ministry in Mexico, and an Immediate Need

Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ:

I would like to take this time to introduce to you a newly established ministry that I have undertaken in our colonia in Mexico.   We continue our work 10 miles outside Tecate, Mexico and have begun working with a group of recovering addicts that have a desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

In April of 2011, I met Humberto, who introduced himself as Robert.  Over the following months we began to meet regularly.  Through this process he gave his life to Christ.  At that time he was serving as the director of a rehabilitation center for the organization El Meson.  El Meson has five other locations between Tecate, Florido, Ensenada, Rosorito and Tijuana, Mexico.  The organization wanted to start a new center in our colonia.  A gentleman in Tecate donated land for the use of establishing this  center.  An adjoining property with housing was also to be used by the members of the rehabilitation center.  A verbal agreement was given that free use of the property was permissible for the time span of five years with the condition that the men completed some major construction projects.  In compliance with this agreement, the members of the center completed numerous projects.

It was later discovered the owner of the property has a negative reputation for his dealings with people.  Beginning in July, the property owner, Miguel, began to raise the subject of possibly selling the property the rehabilitation members were occupying.  This caused a major source of instability for the group.  During this process I had conversations with Robert.  He expressed at that time that he felt God wanted him to remain in this community.  Robert directed the center in the fashion of a half-way house.  Robert invited some other members in the center to attend church, and they also began to come to Christ.  At that I told him if anything should happen at the property of El Meson, I could assist them in relocating to a property of the church, Hosanna.  I also expressed an interest in establishing a Christian half-way house in our colonia.  I believe this type of ministry is greatly needed.

On September 1st, the founder of El Meson met with the property owner, Miguel.  Communication broke down and an agreement was not reached.  The men were ordered to immediately leave.  The founder of El Meson ordered the men to pack and relocate at one of the other centers.  Robert decided in that moment to stay in our colonia.  Six of the other men expressed the same sentiment as Robert.  At 3:00 in the afternoon, the men began to pack and we moved their belongings to one of my properties.  The slept in the House of Prayer that night.  The next morning, Friday, I called the mayor of our colonia, George Cortez, who is also a personal friend.  I asked if he could stop by my house for a meeting.

George came by that morning.  I wanted to find out if the men had any legal recourse to continue occupying the original property.  George informed us that there was very little recourse.  The founder of El Meson would need to contract a lawyer.  When Robert and his men expressed the desire to remain in our colonia, the founder decided to withdraw all support of the group.  Due to permits and legal requirements, George informed us to not refer to the group as a rehabilitation center.  The group was to be referred to as a retreat center.  George volunteered the use of his facilities which included a house equipped with electricity, a kitchen and an outhouse.  The men agreed to relocate once again and moved into George’s property that morning.  (This house requires some immediate repairs such as replacing all of the broken windows, repairing the leaking roof, and rewiring the faulty electric cables.)

On the following Monday, I met with George to ask him how much time we would have to use the property.  He gave us a time frame of 3 to 6 months, depending on the sale of his auto parts business.  He assured us a 3 month notice of eviction would be given regardless the circumstances.  Once the sale of his business was finalized, he planned to tear down the facility in order to build a tire and mechanic shop.  ( Which would never work here in this area.)  I asked him if he was willing to sell us the facility.  He had offered to sell the property at $18,000 to a friend of his earlier in the year.  I asked him what he would take as a down payment and monthly installments.  He said $8,000 down payment and $500 per month.  To raise $500 per month would be very difficult.  I said that over the next six months I plan on raising the entire sum ($18,000) and buy the property.  He was surprised, but agreeable.  He said that if this is what God wants he is all for it.  (George is a Christian and pastors a church in El Florido, Mexico.)

Here I am, needing help to secure this property in order to provide a place to help recovering addicts and alcoholics.  A half-way house is a location that the men come to from a rehabilitation center.  They are reintegrated into society, having rules and regulations to protect them.  This means they have daily meetings, work in the community to help fund living expenses in the house.  I have a list of needs besides buying the property.

In 2007, I established a non-profit  organization in Mexico which cost $2,500.  I had to get caught up on legal documents and I still need to file them with the State and Municipal government.  My current paperwork is established through the federal branch of government.  That will be added cost totaling approximately $700.  This is the time to complete the state and municipal requirements because George, working in the political realm which currently leads the local seat of government, will facilitate my requests being approved very easily.  Attached is a comprehensive list of the immediate needs and photographs.

I am looking for champions who will come along side and help to get out the needs that we have.  If we get a lot of people to help, there will be no great burden on any one individual.   Thank you for your consideration and prayer concerning these needs.  Please, continue to lift up this group of men in your prayers.

If you have any further questions or concerns, you can call me at anytime at (619) 756-3004.  Please be aware of the fact that we are in Pacific Standard time zone.  If I do not answer, please leave a message.  I will call you back the same day.  My phone has limited signal range in our town, but I check messages regularly and return calls faithfully.

Sincerely,

Arthur E. Hackett, Sr.

LaFamily Ministries & Tecate House of Prayer