Diverse

the diverse body.jpg

READ ROMANS 12:3-8

So far in this series from the book of 1 Corinthians, we have seen that the Body (the Church) is to be Unified and Gospel-Centered.  In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul addresses them as Saints, members of the “Church of God that is in Corinth” [1 Cor 1:2].  They were all believers in Jesus Christ, but they had many problems, and Paul admonishes them to act like believers, to be Unified and Gospel-Centered.  The first problem Paul addresses is division in the church, a division created by specific loyalties toward former ministers, resulting in jealousy and strife (1 Cor 3:3).  But their loyalty was unfounded. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” [1 Cor 3:7].  Paul continues, “For we are God’s fellow workers.  You are God’s field…” [vs 9].  There is unity in the purpose of ministry, but diversity in the actions (work).

All of us have work to do in the body.  But our purpose is to Glorify God and our position is as fellow workers.  Romans 12:4,5 states, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”  

Using one of Paul’s illustrations of work in the field, in order to bring seed to harvest there are many processes, and many laborers.  In general, the process is: soil preparation; planting; watering; fertilizing/weeding; pruning; harvesting.  There are many gifted individuals doing this work in your life as well in the lives of many.  And we also have a calling to do “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” [Eph 2:10].  Let us celebrate this diversity of work as we all Glorify God in our good work [actions] as we minister together.

For this 3rd week of Lent, consider the diverse number of people who have done this work in you and praise God for their ministry.  Also, pray for them and others you know to be faithful ministers of the word of God in the lives of those to whom they come in contact both locally and internationally, and that God will continue to prepare hearts (soil) to receive His word.

PRAYER FOCUS - TAKE TIME EVERYDAY THIS WEEK TO PRAY

Monday: For Evangelists who speak the word of truth [Planting]

Tuesday: For Preachers and Teachers who continue to nourish [Watering]

Wednesday: For Wise Leaders to protect from cares and worries [Weeding]

Thursday: For Prophets with firm but kind rebukes to strengthen [Pruning]

Friday: For Faithful Encouragers to bring us to the finish [Harvesting]

Gospel-Centered

gospel centered.jpg

Read Galatians 4

Specific verse: Galatians 4:5

Consider the glory and beautiful character of our All-powerful, All-knowing, Everlasting and Ever-present God, whose love endures forever.  How awesome a God who emptied Himself of His divinity, took on our form, was despised and rejected by His own and bore the sin of all in a death that would be hard to imagine in our darkest nightmare, so that His own could live in His Kingdom forever.  When we fully immerse ourselves in the vision of this, His glory, and seek Him more deeply, it becomes quite obvious in comparison how short we fall of His glory, and how dark and depraved this world is apart from Him. We all experience the pain of life in this depraved world.  But, we, His body in this broken world, have been given good news that keeps this body of Christ unified and intact. God took on human form and came into this world with good news about His Kingdom. Through our belief in Him, who he is as Lord of all, and the death and resurrection of His mortal body when He came, we can become part of His immortal body of believers, inheriting eternal life in His Kingdom. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote what God had revealed to him - that this will be a life that will never end in a Kingdom with no crying or pain, where God himself will dwell with His people, and wipe every tear from their eyes (Chapter 21).  Praise be to God!

With this good news in mind, consider this:  Words are powerful. They can be thought of as ideas communicated one to another. God has given us His ideas - communicated through words.  Consider what Jesus said on the night before He died - “These words I speak to you are not my own; They are the Father living in me doing His work” (from the book of John, Chapter 14, verse 10).  Anytime any of us in the body of Christ talks to others, God can and will give us words to share His ideas - His truth about His Kingdom, His love and grace, His good news we call “gospel”, to share with others.  The words don’t have to be fancy; they have to be true, according to God’s revelation of truth. Jesus reassured the Apostles in the book of Matthew (Chapter 10 verses 19 and 20) with this teaching “At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”  We are called by God to live lives of love. The Bible is filled with a ton of teachings about us being called to live lives of love. Love is the very nature of God. And what better way to love others than to give them God’s ideas through our words, so they too may have an opportunity to believe what they hear and share in His gift of grace - eternal life in His Kingdom.

In this Lenten season, we prepare for a celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord of all, Jesus. As we do, let us find great joy in the good news, the gospel, the promise of eternal life in God’s Kingdom of love and joy by His grace through our belief in Jesus.  Let us also love the Lord and others enough to make His ideas become our words to those whom the Lord brings into our lives.

PRAYER FOCUS - TAKE TIME EVERYDAY THIS WEEK TO PRAY

Monday: Courage for our church congregation to share the gospel

Tuesday: Opportunities for our staff and elders to share the gospel

Wednesday: Opportunities for our ministry and small group leaders to share the gospel

Thursday: Courage and opportunities for us to share the gospel in our homes

Friday: Courage and opportunities for us to share the gospel in our workplaces and schools

Unity

unified body.jpg

Read Acts 3

On the night before He died, Jesus prayed a prayer that is pretty amazing. You will find it in John 17. One of the highlights of that prayer is His request for the Father to help the disciples be unified: 20 “My prayer is not for them alone (meaning the apostles). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Did you notice the power of unity? As the world witnesses the unity of the church, it will be one of the things that helps people believe the message of the Gospel. Think about it: folks of different ethnicities, different political convictions, different socio-economic and educational backgrounds, all coming together in unity around the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, the Gospel is supposed to be that strong, and the reality of Jesus Christ that overwhelming.

The sad truth, though, is that unity has been an elusive thing in the church over the last two millenniums. We seem to divide over just about everything—and seldom does it have to do with actual doctrine. Churches unfortunately are usually marked by their homogenous nature. People just congregate with others that look and think just like them. This is not what Jesus had in mind.

So this Lenten season, can we pray and pursue something better? Can we pray that what would unify us would truly be Jesus, and not anything else? When we catch ourselves having a bad attitude towards a brother or sister in the faith because of some peripheral thing, can we take the time to look at them and remind ourselves—this is a son/daughter of my King. Could we pursue getting to know folks who aren’t anything like us except for the fact that they are totally in love with Jesus?

When it is all said and done, I guess the question is this: is Jesus really where we find our unity? If it is anywhere else, it can fail. But if our brotherhood is found in Christ it can never fail.

Prayer focus - take time everyday this week to pray

Monday: Unity for our church congregation

Tuesday: Unity for our staff and elders

Wednesday: Unity for our ministry and small group leaders

Thursday: Unity in our homes

Friday: Unity in our country

Freemen House Donations

As part of the Advent Season, we have decided to put our faith into action by helping out some brothers in need. The Freemen House in Somersworth is a men's recovery program helping men obtain sobriety and wholeness through an authentic relationship with a loving God. 

They are in need of immediate food items. If you would like to donate you can bring any of these items to our two services this Sunday, December 23rd.

If you would like to know more about the Freemen House click here

Food list
Nonperishable
Flour  wheat, rye, all purpose

Brown sugar

Powdered sugar

Italian seasoning

Chocolate chips and other flavor chips

Molasses

Kethup, mustard, relish

Oil, shortening

Beef base, chicken base, vegetarian base (bouillon cubes)

Egg noodles, macaroni 

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts

Dry navy beans, pinto beans

Hot sauce

Salsa

Parchment paper

Aluminum foil 

Corn bread mix like "jiffy"

Large freezer bags "1 gallon size"

Napkins

Bottled water

Yeast

Dark chocolate, white chocolate

A potato ricer

Pickles

Paper towels
 

Perishable

Butter 4 pounds

Ready made pie dough that you just need to unroll an put in a panBacon

Ground beef, ground pork 

Beef roast, pork roast

Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, Velveeta cheese

Bread crumbs 

Eggs, milk, cream (light and heavy)

Tahini

Corn tortillas

Corn chips

Mozzarella cheese

Cream cheese

Fresh garlic

Shredded Coconut

Taco shells

Fresh tomatoes

Lettuce

Olives black or green

Pastoral Transition Update

ptu.jpg

Dear DEC Members and Attenders,

We, at DEC, have been graced and honored to have had a team of spiritual leaders through whom God has worked to bring the truth of the gospel, the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to Durham, the New Hampshire seacoast, and throughout the world.  And now God is working in the process of leadership change at DEC. We have no doubt that Jesus will continue to build DEC and lead us into new leadership.

As we seek to conform to God’s will, the Elder Board at DEC has prayed about, discussed and taken action towards transitioning our leadership.  To guide and drive this transition, a Pastoral Transition Committee (PTC) will be created as directed by the DEC Constitution (seen as “pulpit committee” in Article X, Section E-1).  The Elder Board has created a Focus Team (FT) to choose and equip the PTC with what is needed to guide the process effectively and with a clear purpose of conforming to God’s will for DEC.  Its members are Governing and Emeritus Elders, currently made up of Pastor Terry, Elder Joe Cheslock, Elder Chris Miller, Emeritus Elder Tom Brink, Emeritus Elder Bill Bryon and Emeritus Elder Mark Valliere.

The Focus Team will be

  1. Seeking God’s will for DEC including counsel and experience-sharing from Christ-centered, Bible-believing sources beyond DEC

    1. The Board, Staff and Leadership Council have been actively engaged in prayer, retreats and meetings specifically devoted to seeking and defining direction for DEC

    2. The Focus Team has already had conversations with staff at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary who have excellent experience and skills in Pastoral Transitioning

  2. Reviewing the present Organizational Structure of DEC and presenting an Organizational Vision of where God wants DEC to have positions to carry out His will for DEC

  3. Creating Ministry and Person descriptions in alignment with God’s will for DEC for the positions to be filled

  4. Selecting the Pastoral Transition Committee (PTC) members to include the Focus Team members that are Elders, DEC Staff and DEC Members

  5. Presenting the PTC with a Charter

  6. Establishing proper communication between the PTC, Elder Board, DEC Staff and DEC congregation

  7. Providing support, encouragement and blessings to the pastors who are transitioning out of their current positions

We are hopeful that the Focus Team will have the PTC in place and equipped by mid-January, and the PTC will have the leadership changes complete in the 2020 timeframe.

Please be in prayer with us as we walk in love and obedience through this transition with Jesus as He leads DEC into the future.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Board of Elders


DEC Members and Attenders

Dear DEC Members and Attenders,

After 21 years of ministry here at DEC Tom & Rebecca Froning feel the Lord is calling them out of full time vocational ministry.  After much prayer and reflection on their part, as well as obtaining confirmation from others, Tom and Rebecca feel God calling Tom to a season of vocational work in the trades. We all are grateful for the love and energy Tom has invested into our body and we will miss his ministry gifts greatly.
 
Tom has agreed to continue working in his current capacity for a period of time to foster an orderly transition of his ministry responsibilities to others. We are estimating this time period to be around 9 months. During this time the Church Board will be working with the staff, ministry leaders, and the wider DEC community to evaluate the pastoral needs of our body. The board encourages you to engage with any of us either directly, or through the board of elders email if you have input that you would like to provide.
 
We know many of you have deep friendships with Tom, and we hope you will take the time to encourage him, and pray for Tom, Rebecca, and Kyle, as they seek to follow God’s leadership in this next phase of life. Pray also for us as a church body -  that we may see what God has in store for us next – for we know that the place he is calling us to is the place we want to be.
 
Faithfully yours in Christ, 
The Board of Elders

Tom Froning

Tom Froning

Week of Fasting

lent devotionals.jpg

Exodus 20: 1-3 reads; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”  Why do you think we need a commandment like this? To love and be devoted to the Lord who saved us? What is it about our heart that can’t find contentment in the Lord alone? The Passion Week is a great opportunity to consider fasting.  Fasting is great way to draw near to God. Below are a number of biblical reasons for fasting.   Begin the week asking God to speak to you about fasting. 

 

Key Verse: Philippians 4:12 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

 

Additional verses for meditation and study:

Biblical reasons for fasting:

·       To humble ourselves before God - Psalm 35:13

·       Distress and grief - Judges 20:26

·       Repentance - 1 Samuel 7:6, Joel 2:12-13, Nehemiah 9:1-2

·       Spiritual strength - Mathew 4:1-11, Ezra 8:23

·       Help making important decisions - Acts 13:2, 14:23

·       Drawing closer to God and separating yourself from the world - James 4:8, Romans 12:1-2

·       Warnings against fasting (not to manipulate favor or works based salvation) - Titus3:5-7

 

Prayer discipline:

·       The practice of fasting is less about what you are giving up and more about what you are replacing it with. In this case make a deliberate effort to spend time reading the word seeking God in prayer listening for his voice and praying for others. Don’t simply not eat, and “will yourself” through it. Fasting is not a diet plan. It’s replacing food with God and experiencing our true dependence on him and his genuine sufficiency in our lives.

·       Ask the Lord this week leading up to Easter to reveal the things in your life that prevent you from finding contentment in Him.  Ask him to show you the way to freedom from those things.  Ask the Lord to give you a change of heart and to find your contentment in him and not in your life’s circumstance.

 

Listen to the DEC | Lent playlist on Spotify

Asking God

lent devotionals.jpg

Have you ever noticed a little toddler interact with their parents? They are so un-abashedly petitioning!  “Dad help me with…” “Mom can I ….”” Can I have a …..” What do you think those kids haven’t learned yet? What fundamental belief about their parents do they have to have in order to ask so willingly? Some of this might illustrate the child like faith that Jesus talks about in Matthew 19:13-15.  What do you think we learn later as adults that might stop us from being so willing to ask God our Father so openly?  What comes more naturally to you, asking for yourself or others? Why do you think that is?

Key Verse: Ephesians 6:18  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

 

Additional verses for meditation and study:

·       Mark 9:14-27, Matthew 11:28-30, Matthew 7:7-12

The Scriptures are more than stories, more than moral lessons. They reveal the Heart of God, his character, and his desire. Ask God to meet you here, in the passages this week. Ask him to open your eyes to see him, to unblock your ears to hear him, and to soften your heart to trust him.

 

Read Mark 9:14-27

·       What do you think prevents the Father from asking out right? Why is Jesus frustrated? In the end, the father says something profound. "I believe, help me in my unbelief."

·       What do you think the relationship is between asking Jesus for something and believing that he will do it? (Mark 9:23)

·        What about Jesus’ heart is revealed here?

 

Read Mathew 11:28-30

·       What are the reasons given for laying our burdens on the Lord? 

·       What about Jesus’ heart is revealed here?

 

Read Matthew 7:7-12

·       What does this passage say about asking God?  What reason does Jesus give? 

·       What does Jesus say about the Fathers heart for his children?

 

Special Prayer discipline:

Find a quiet place without distraction. Ask God to bring to mind your needs, fears, anxieties, and worries. One at a time as they come to mind offer them up to him claiming one of the passages you read above. 

1. Help me believe you can

2. Lord your shoulders are wide and this burden is too heavy for me please carry it

3. You are a father who loves me and has asked me to come to you. So I’m coming to my daddy who loves me…

 

Listen to the DEC | Lent playlist on Spotify

Giving Thanks to God

lent devotionals.jpg

We are constantly teaching our children to say “thank you”. And we may be a little annoyed by those who don't. Why do we do that? Is it so that our kids are polite? Is it because we don’t want people to think we are bad parents? Is there some character quality that we want our children to possess? If we are honest parents it's probably a little bit of all of them. The question we are all faced with in our own lives and that of our children is “How is a thankful heart developed or cultivated?” 

 

Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Additional verses for meditation and study:

·       Luke 17:11-19, Psalm 100

Prayerful time in God’s word:

Ask the Lord to show you the ways he has been good to you. Wait silently and listen for his voice.  When something comes to mind simply thank him for it.

 

Read Luke 17:11-19

·       Look at the request of the ten lepers. What do you think they meant by 'have pity on them'?  Do they seem entitled to you? Why or why not?

·       What was the reaction of the one that returned? How do you think he felt and why? Why did the other nine not return?

 

Special Prayer Discipline:

·       This week ask God to show you the places that he has “healed you” and 'had pity on you'.  Respond in the same heart felt way as the leper in the story. Don’t be bashful or ashamed to be expressive!

·       What are the times that you struggle to be thankful? Ask the lord to help you and give you a thankful heart that responds in action this week.

Here is an Idea:

·       Can we be thankful to God and thankless to people around us?  Ask God to help you see and express thanks to the people he has placed in your life. 

·       On a Pray A-Z prayers of thanks, start with A Example: “Thank you Lord for A-nother day to glorify you, “Thank you Lord for B -eing there for me very day” etc…

 

Listen to the DEC | Lent playlist on Spotify

Confession to God

lent devotionals.jpg

Consider the power of a secret lie. On one hand it’s the ultimate attempt to manipulate another.  Weather that’s an attempt to manipulate or control a situation or an opinion or even an outcome, it’s still a manipulation. Have you ever tried to keep a lie secret? What power did it have over you?  Often it eats at us and it’s not long before we realize that the cost of a secret lie outweighs the consequence we were trying to avoid, or at least we desire peace even if the consequence stinks.

Have you ever considered confession like this; If God already knows my sin then why do I need to confess? I wonder if that is even the right question. I wonder if we see confession as the gift that it is. Confession is the beginning of humbling oneself followed closely by repentance. Confession is the acknowledgement that we've done wrong from a wrong heart and we're in great need of God’s forgiveness and restoration. A restoration that was paid for so dearly with Jesus own blood. Confession cleanses us from the guilt we feel and we can hear the words of forgiveness from the God we've sinned against. Thank God he offers us confession and walks with us in repentance.  It's the gift of freeing us from shame and guilt!

 

Key Verse: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you,  and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”  And you forgave the guilt of my sin."

Additional verses for meditation and study:

·       John 19:15-19, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 103:12

Prayerful time in God’s word:

As you read this passage about Peter’s restoration, ask God to reveal to you your sin, and any relationships in your life that need restoration confession and forgiveness.

 

Read: John 21:15-19 (for important context read John  13:31-38, 18:15-18, 18:25-27)

·       In John 21:15-19; Why do you think Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times?  Why does Peter need to tell Jesus he loves him three times? 

·       Is there a secret shame in your life that you need to confess?  Ask God to reveal it to you? 

·       What is revealed in this passage about the nature and character of Jesus?  What do you think he has to say to you about your sin and shame?

Special Prayer discipline:

This week focus on confession each and every day.  Ask God to reveal to you your sins and be specific, name them before him as they come to your attention and ask for his forgiveness and help with any repentance that is needed.

 

Here’s an Idea: You guessed it! The key verse would make an excellent passage to memorize.  After each sin named and confessed this week repeat the following prayer “Thank you Jesus for dying for me, I don’t deserve your forgiveness but I’m so grateful for it. Thank you for seeing me as your beloved son / daughter. Help me love you as much as you love me.”

 

Listen to the DEC | Lent playlist on Spotify