Conference 2014

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We’re getting ready for the big reveal for the theme of Conference, including the schedule and theme and all of that. In the meantime, it’s important for you to know certain basic facts about it.

EFCC Conference 2014

Guest speaker: Ed Stetzer
Date: 7-10 August 2014
Place: Winnipeg EFC

Mark your calendars!

Humility and the EFCC

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Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (I Peter 5:3-7, NLT)

Well, Happy New Year! Another New Year is upon us! In November I had the privilege of officiating Pastor Dan Byrne’s (Ottawa Chinese Bible Church) ordination service. In preparation, I looked at the handful of classic “ordination service” Bible passages and settled on I Peter 5 as the basis for my message. I have quoted a portion of the passage above – and Peter has once again challenged me regarding my attitude as a minister of Christ, and reaffirmed my love for serving in the EFCC. We speak much about power and authority today, some decrying the abuse of the two, others lamenting the demonization of any leader who seeks to lay a claim to either one. I do not want to deny that all of us – leaders or not – possess various types of power and authority. The reminder to me is that Jesus has mandated a very unique and counter-cultural posture for His children when we use that power and authority to carry out His Kingdom work.

In the first half of the passage you can almost feel Peter thinking back to Jesus’ urgent challenge, His call for Peter (recorded by John, in John 21) to feed and care for the sheep. Peter feels the weight of this call on his life, and he reminds those who have authority to care for the sheep to do so willingly, with servant hearts and with humility, not lording it over the sheep. You have to know that Peter was remembering Jesus’ words regarding the proper “foot washing posture” that Jesus had taught them (John 13). There is a way that leaders behave in the world, but Jesus needed to remind His disciples that it must not be so “among you”. In His Kingdom those that serve are the greatest, while those who demand to be served, to be honoured – well, they are not the greatest. Peter reminds us that there is an appropriate time to expect to be honoured – and that time is not now. It is only once we have humbled ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

We live in a self-serve world. Christ calls us to serve each other. I have always felt at home in the EFCC because we don’t laud leaders; we flinch when someone overly highlights a “family hero”. I like that about us. Yes, sometimes in our total acceptance of local and individual autonomy, we miss Peter’s reminder about younger men “accepting the authority of the elders”. But overall I like the fact that we don’t go seeking glory and honour as ministers in His Kingdom and we really value humble leaders/servants. The one part of this passage that served as an unnerving reminder was Peter’s attaching “casting all your cares on Him” to humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God”. Because as much as we like to keep a humble, low profile as leaders in the EFCC, we do still like “to handle” things on our own. And sometimes that is burdensome – and leads to cares, worries and anxiety. The word “give” (or “casting” in the King James) here is a participle – it modifies the command to “humble yourselves”. Peter is saying that if we worry, we are proud. When we really humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, we trust and cast our cares on the One who really has the power and authority to take care of things. When I worry about things, no matter how self-deprecating I may be, I am assuming that my power and my authority are sufficient to “handle it”. And that friends, is pride. And pride… well, God seems opposed to the proud.

So this year, I am praying that we in the EFCC can enter the year with Peter’s posture. I don’t know what God (or our enemy) has in store for us this year, but I suspect that if we want to see our God show up supernaturally, then we are going to need to proceed with humility. May we see His power, authority and glory this year – and claim our honour at the appropriate time.

Serving with you,

Bill

6 Things That Will Blow Your Mind About Thailand

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This piece is from Graeme. He and his family are serving with the EFCCM in Thailand. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to see more “6 Things That Will Blow You Mind” type posts.

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In my very short time here in Thailand I have been struck by a few things that have blown my mind and will inevitably blow your mind as well. Thailand is a rich cultural landscape with many things that are both beautiful and dangerous. Thai people are very devout to their belief system on the surface. They have many festivals with rich pageantry and diverse rituals and participation goes without saying.

Below the surface, it seems that there is nagging fear of death and retribution for a lifetime of selfish living. This fear drives them to offer themselves to powers that seek to destroy them, because to them there is no other alternative. Insert Jesus. I see a huge opportunity for the church to advance through the power of the Holy Spirit here. God’s message of redemption through Christ and the forgiveness of sins is poised to have a major impact on these people, especially those in desperate need of rescue, both physically and spiritually. Here are some things that I have seen that may blow your mind, as they have mine.

1. The Gospel is going out IN POWER
I have heard many stories and have already witnessed the miraculous. The Gospel is going out in power, as Paul said it does, and this is causing those affected by it to stop and actually examine the claims of the Gospel of Jesus. Many are being healed, restored and released from demonic oppression. This has blown my “Free Church” mind.

2. From young to old, there is a tangible spiritual reality
Although this is usually manifested in idol worship, it does blow my mind to the reality that the Thai people are very aware of their need for something outside of themselves. Connected to number one, this provides a great stage for the Living God to invade their lives. We have a tremendous opportunity to introduce them to the victorious, all powerful, lover of their souls, Jesus Christ.

3. Community and family are essential to life
For me as a western Christian, this is mind blowing because the idea of living in community is more to the Thais then a principal. For someone like me who has grown up as an individualist, this is hard to wrap my head around. Especially when I see people with very little means of survival for themselves, doing all they can to provide for those people in their family and immediate community. There are so many things, in this regard, that I hope to learn from them and I pray will change my worldview about the essential need to live in community.

4. The sheer amount of people who have not heard the Gospel
a. Especially in Chiang Mai, with the great number of missionaries, it is mind blowing that there are so many still who have not heard. This is a major opportunity for the church here. Many have an idea of Christianity and are curious, but have yet to encounter the love of God through Jesus.

5. How intricately linked justice and worship are
In a place like this that is saturated with the poor widows, orphans, and the oppressed it is all too clear the link between justice and worship. It is very hard to sit back and enjoy our rescue for ourselves when there are so many who are in desperate need of it. I am reminded of the kind of worship that God seeks from us. That we would love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with our God. The opportunity for the Gospel to have major impact is linked to our opportunity to show justice and mercy and seek restoration.

6. How the love of Jesus restores even the most broken
As we have connected with various organizations involved in human trafficking I have been amazed at the stories of torture and debasement that these people have gone through. But, at every turn I am confronted with the stark reality that the love of Jesus has the power to restore COMPLETELY. I have been humbled more than once at the faith these people display in the power of God to heal and restore. And I have been amazed to see the powerful men and women of God they have become through Christ.

God longs to see His creation restored and Thailand is part of that plan. God is reconciling the world through Jesus and he is using His Church to get the message out. The church in Thailand has always His Plan A for Thailand. Please pray that the church here in Thailand would receive her mandate with joy and excitement and would continue to capitalize on the opportunities that Holy Spirit is both putting in front of her, and empowering her to accomplish. If you would like to connect with us you can email us at graemerattray@gmail.com or go to our website. (Graeme and Serena have put together a collection of great videos updates!)

The Latest Pulse

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Here is the latest version of the Pulse.

You can read it by clicking on the graphic above or this link below (which will take you to the same place):
Read the Pulse

There’s something that we want to let you in on: The Pulse is changing. A lot!

It’s going from an online publication to an e-mail mailing list. But this isn’t just the same thing delivered a new way. It’s a dramatically new publishing schedule that we’ll send regularly right into your inbox. Every 2nd week we will send news or pertinent information to you from somewhere inside the EFCC/EFCCM movement.

There will be one more edition the way we’ve been making them. And then we’re revamping the whole thing.

If you’re a regular on our website, that’s great — you’ll continue to see all the latest information. (The EFCC website will eventually host all of the information we send out, so you won’t miss anything if you’re here!)

If you’re interested in signing up to the Pulse’s new mailing list, send an e-mail to Home Office and tell us so!