The Pulse: What Fills Your Heart?

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This past week I ran across the phrase, “What fills your heart will lead your life”. The principle stated here is not new or revolutionary by any stretch, but it is worth thinking about.

The implications for followers of Jesus are staggering.

As part of our EFCC theme, Revitalize: Becoming a Gospel Sharing People, I conducted a survey with EFCC churches to see how our gospel sharing endeavors are going. I talked with pastors and a few board chairs from 120 of our churches. There is a general feeling that we have some room to grow in sharing the gospel. One question asked was, “on a scale of 1-10 (low to high) how passionate do you feel your church is to share the gospel?” The answer across the EFCC – 5.6. That answer was often qualified by statements about how there is a passion to share the gospel that does not necessarily translate into intention or action.

When I asked pastors about the obstacles they see people in their churches struggling with, as they try to share the gospel; the top responses fell into these five categories:

  • fear
  • too busy
  • a lack of spiritual passion
  • a lack of relationship with non-Christians
  • a lack of personal experience with, or understanding of, the gospel

As I have mulled over these results, I wonder if what we really have is a “heart” problem. John tells us that “love drives out fear” (I Jh 4:18). Paul seems to indicate that love is the starting point as well. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts…Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives…and whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Col. 3:14-17).

Are we struggling with sharing the gospel because deep down there are other things that compete for the attention of our hearts? Is that the primary reason we feel we are too busy and lack passion? Have our hearts truly been captured by a ravishing vision of the love of Christ and his good news, which is filling every corner of our lives?

Maybe what fills our hearts will actually lead our lives.

These are challenging thoughts for me. As the EFCC National Mission Director, I’m supposed to be encouraging evangelistic efforts, church planting, and mission in Canada. Yet there are days when I have to step back and ask myself “what is filling my heart?” And if it isn’t Christ and his good news, how am I supposed to encourage others along the same path? If we desire to be a gospel sharing people, I believe we first have to be a gospel saturated people.

Let’s pray together toward that goal.

Enchant’s 100th Birthday!

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(Photo by Cory Skretting, used with permission.)

100 Years of the EFCC

Well, as I write this, Canada is getting ready to celebrate its 150th birthday. We will highlight all the things that make Canada unique and a great place to live. We may even think back over our history and reflect on how that has shaped our understanding of Canadian values – but I wouldn’t count on it. Far too often our reading of history takes today’s events, beliefs, realities and values and reads them back into our history – making it say what we want it to say.

I trust I am not about to do that with my reflection on this past weekend’s celebrations in Enchant, Alberta (look it up on a map folks!); the longest serving church in the EFCC.

First of all, kudos to those who did all the work planning the event! It was fun and the reflection on the faithfulness of God and His people was inspiring. This was a huge undertaking for a small church. But this shouldn’t surprise any of us. The list of Christian leaders who have been trained and mentored in the Enchant church is impressive!

As we were served a wonderful meal by our Alberta friends on Saturday night, I was so taken by the list of those God has called into full time ministry from this tiny town! These folks were pioneers who planted churches, became missionaries and sacrificed for the gospel and their Lord. Their lives are convicting – they really did believe that the gospel was the power of God for salvation!

My second impression from the celebration is how powerful the faithful service of those called to lay ministry has been in this church and throughout the EFCC across generations. The Enchant story reminds us that everyone has a calling to follow Jesus! The heroes of the Enchant story are lay and clergy alike! Sam Odlund becomes a believer – he attends the Free Church Bible College in the US – comes home and returns to his calling as a large farmer in the area. Pretty unimpressive, right? Wrong! He and his wife serve the church and the people in the area lovingly, share their home, and lead many to Christ – Carl Fosmark among them! Carl Fosmark and his younger brother Lee eventually become pastors in the fledgling Free Church movement in Canada. Carl later returns from Oregon to pastor in Enchant and is a key leader of the EFC in Canada! Lee the big gentle encourager, plants churches all across the Canadian prairies. Yet neither one of them is used of God unless the Odlunds follow Jesus in a life of hospitality and Christ witness – in farming!

Lastly, I was struck by how the Free Church began in Canada. All of this happened because a preacher from the US came to Canada and preached revival – repentance and commitment to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We in the EFCC are currently focused on “Revitalize: becoming a gospel sharing people”. We want to return to that pioneering spirit where we obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and share our lives and our hope with others. Yet I am reminded that it all begins with personal revival.

I must first have a white hot faith in Jesus, the Messiah, King and Lord of all creation – and my life. I must really believe that he is the Hope of the nations. And I must live as part of His family in such a way that others will ask me to give an account of the “hope that is in me”.

This church has been a community of saints (not perfect, I am sure), but to see the love they had for former pastors and that love those pastors had for these people was inspiring. That kind of Christian community will be key to sharing the gospel in the next 100 years as it was in the last 100! May we be a movement, reflecting the love of Christ, obeying his calling as pioneers who sacrifice so lives will be transformed for eternity.

Serving with you,

Bill

PS — you can see more impressions of Enchant’s 100 year celebration on Facebook and Twitter.

Pulse Podcast 009: Canada Day Edition

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150 Years!

Is it a birthday? Is it an anniversary? Whatever it is, we’re having a hard time remembering back that far for some reason.

It’s a good time to celebrate Canada, and share some of the things we appreciate about our country.

The audio version of this podcast is embedded below.

Prayer Calendar: Team Prayer

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LDCat

Dave Acree is our Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This is a welcome to the monthly Prayer Calendar which we publish to promote prayer throughout the EFCC family. If you would like to receive the Prayer Calendar by e-mail, you can sign up for it on this page, or you can see the latest copy here.


Let’s get to the point right at the start. I have a “big ask” to make. Would you be willing to become part of a team praying for the EFCC, that we would fully enter into Revitalize, asking God to help us all become more and more a Gospel sharing people?

That’s the “ask”, now let me explain. I’ve become convinced that solo praying is not enough. It’s good, even important, but it minimizes the power of community. Right before Pentecost and after, the early church prayed in community. “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” (Acts 1:14) “They raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:24) We seldom do that today.

If you say “yes” to the challenge and “sign on” we will set up an electronic network joining us together across the EFCC through which we will pray regularly “together” for the EFCC to be “Revitalized!”

We will pray for your church and the churches of the EFCC. Read these passages: Matthew 22:37, 39; Acts 1:8; Philippians 2:14-16; Luke 10:2; and Colossians 4:3. We will pray for our churches that we will have love, power, character, harvesters and opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

We will pray for the people of our churches. Read Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:4-6; and
1 Peter 3:15-16. We will pray that our people will be bold, gentle and respectful in sharing the Gospel.

We will pray for your “neighbours”. We will pray together with you that God will reveal himself to them and be involved in their lives in such a way that they will recognize him. We will commit together to seek tangible ways in which to express Christ’s love with them. We will ask God for opportunities to share with them what Jesus means in our lives.

Now the hard part. If all of this resonates with you, email me at dave.acree@efreelethbridge.ca and join the team.

The Pulse: Outside of my Communicator Speciality

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The Pulse is starting a new writing exercise: we’re getting our EFCC Catalysts to offer your perspective and maybe even advice from within their area of experience. Brad serves as the EFCC’s Communications Catalyst.


Clearly, it was time. When our 3 year old son started to exhibit signs of frustration in his inability to get his ideas across, we needed to reach out for help. Apparently, his cute toddler-ish babblings had real intent behind them, and we just weren’t getting it.

With encouragement from caring people in his life, we signed up for a class offering training to specific parents whose children were behind their age-group’s expected ability, and yet who could be reached with relatively minor intervention — there weren’t medical impediments which would require surgery, for example.

For me, in some ways, it was a return to the basics — the beginning was stuff that I learned in the very first course of university Communications.

  • What’s the definition of a word?
  • What are the building blocks of communication?
  • What’s the difference between speech and language?

But quickly we departed from my area of education and experience, and began to ponder how speech interacts with the mystery of communication. Like so many things in life, it’s only when we’ve encountered a glitch in the process that we stop to examine what’s really happening. The physical and mental processes which go into talking are far more complex and intricate than most of us think about on a regular basis, or maybe ever.

For example, the speech therapists explained that to pronounce the word ‘church’ requires 42 different muscle movements. 42!

I was there for a practical reason — to get some resourcing and training for my son. And I did (those speech therapists are pretty special people!). But I also found that it was as amazing for me as a person, as it was for me as a dad.

It was a reminder that not only am I fearfully and wonderfully made, but that each of us is, and together, we are! Our ability to share ideas is a bewildering blessing (even if we sometimes turn it into a curse). How we share perspectives, inspiration and our whole selves with each other in the process of communication is worth considering.

Often.

Maybe even before there’s a crash! :-)

This journey with our son isn’t over. We’re taking time to practice the hard words with him. And there are still times when his speech is indecipherable. But the improvement he’s showing after some directed attention is remarkable. The way his confidence has increased is obvious. And the thrill he gets from us laughing at his jokes is unparalleled.