Gifted

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Read Ephesians 4:1-16

Do you remember the first gift that you were ever given?  Probably not, considering you weren't even born yet!  What a strange thing to ponder - that everything about you was determined by God before you ever even took a breath. The scriptures tell us that He conceived of you before He even created the world! (Eph 1) He ordained your days on earth before you were even born (Ps 139). And as the Apostle told the church at Corinth, God also determined how He would gift each and every one of us according to His own purposes (1 Cor 12). So if God alone is responsible for who we are made to be and what gifts we have to offer in this life, what does this mean for us?

In Ephesians 4, Paul urges the church to be a unified body that makes full use of all of its parts. He explains that God gifted the church "to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."  So in other words, God intentionally gave you and I different gifts so that he could bring us together to mature one another into becoming more like Christ!

Let's look at this in the context of our own church body. DEC is a church with a great diversity of gifts. But no matter what our individual gifts are or how we view the church, the one thing each of us have in common is this... God alone determines what gifts we have and how those gifts ought to be used. If we, as the body, are going to function in a way that brings glory to our head (that is Christ), we must seek His guidance together on how we best use our gifts for His purposes. Please join us in this pursuit of unity and maturity by praying over our collective use of gifts as a church body.


Prayer Focus - Take Time Everyday this week to Pray

Monday:  Thank God for the measure and diversity of His gifts to our body

Tuesday:  Ask God to reveal to you ways in which you might be discounting other people or gifts within the body

Wednesday: Ask God for discernment on how He has uniquely gifted you for His purposes

Thursday: Ask God for wisdom on how your gifts can be best used for the building up of the body.

Friday: Pray for the leadership of our church to engage the diversity of people and gifts in our body in a way that honors Christ and matures the church

Sacrificial

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Read Matthew 5:38-48
Scripture: Matthew 5:40

Every missionary knows a great truth: their mission is to bring Jesus and His saving work to a land not their own. It isn’t their job to try to impose a foreign culture upon people. The missionary’s homeland has certain foods they eat, songs they sing, ways they dress, etc. But these aren’t the things that one brings to the new land. No, you bring a message of salvation that is way bigger than any cultural distinctives.

Now if missionaries know this…….how about us? Let’s be honest, we live in a land made up of a whole bunch of “mini” cultures. Some of it is age related; some educationally related; and some is economically related. We differ quite a bit one from another. The struggle churches often have is they pick a “mini” culture they like, and basically say to the world around them—you need to become like us (because we really have little interest in becoming like you). Seldom do we look around and ask the question, “what would be the most effective way to reach the world into which God has placed us?” 

This has nothing to do with diving into sin, or tolerating that which God deems intolerable. This is about learning how to invest oneself into the world in which they live in a way that allows them to freely share the good news of Jesus with those around them. The apostle Paul said it something like this: “to the Greeks I become a Greek; to the Jews I become a Jew. I become all things to win as many as possible for the Gospel.” For us the statement would look like this: “to those on the Seacoast, I become like a Seacoaster (I know, that isn’t really a word), to win those on the Seacoast to Jesus.” 

What does that mean? It means getting involved in my community, schools, etc. It means investing time in my neighborhood getting to know these folks. It means standing up for the things of God in the public square (that one isn’t easy, is it). I become part of my world to win my world for the Gospel. And yes, this will be a sacrifice.

If you wonder what would motivate us to do this….just look to Jesus. He is the one who left the beauty of heaven to come to earth. He exchanged a throne for a manger. He gave up life in the heavenlies for a cross. And He did it all for us. He became a man of the earth to win those on the earth. And He says to us, “go and do likewise”.

PRAYER FOCUS - TAKE TIME EVERYDAY THIS WEEK TO PRAY

Tuesday: Ask God to reveal to you ways in which you are comfortable

Wednesday: Ask God to reveal to you ways in which He may want you to be sacrificial

Thursday: Pray for your community, school, place of work, and ask God to reveal to you how you could “become like them to win them to Jesus”

Friday: Pray for our congregation and leaders to have the courage to live sacrificially in order for the Gospel to go into all of the world

Holy

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Read Ephesians 1:3-14

Take a look around you the next time you are seated in church.  Do you know who is sitting near?  Do you know their stories?  I suspect that if you don’t, you would be surprised to know them.  Most likely you would hear stories ranging from substance abuse to neglect to physical abuse to abandonment and on and on.  And what would be most surprising would be how many of the stories would come not from the vantage point of the victim but of the perpetrator.  How can this be?

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he lists all manner of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But then he finishes with the statement, “And that is what some of you were.”  In Corinth, Jesus had taken some of the worst of the population and re-birthed them into new creations.  They went from the dregs of society to a community striving to be what God had intended them to be from the beginning.  The Corinthian church was made up of what the world would see as the most unlikely gathering of individuals.

And we see this over and over throughout history.  Saul of Tarsus was killing Christians for sport.  John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was a slave ship captain.  David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, converted in prison and is now actively involved in prison ministry.  Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, is the founder of Roe No More, a pro-life ministry.  The stories go on and on.  Jesus takes what we would consider the worst of humanity and turns them into powerful tools for His glory.  And that includes you and me.

Who are you now?  Who were you before you met Jesus?

I don’t know everyone’s backstory, but I know Jesus.  If you are reading this, it is because of His irresistible tug on your heart that you have come to a place where you want to know Him more.  You and I used to be “those kind of people,” but by God’s grace, we have been washed clean of all our sin, sanctified by the Spirit, and justified to stand before the Judge of all the earth without fear.  And now we are being called to participate in God’s reclamation of the fallen world.  As you go through this fourth week of Lent, spend some time praising God for His grace in reclaiming you

 

As you pray, write down 3 different ways God has transformed you from “that kind of person” into a new creation.  After that, ask God where He would like to grow you next and write those down.  Now, as an act of worship, go act on one or more of those.  If you feel that God is calling you to be more generous, then give more.  If you sense He is calling you to be more loving, find a way to sacrifice of yourself.  Then, after you have done so, let someone know so they can celebrate with you.

PRAYER FOCUS - TAKE TIME EVERYDAY THIS WEEK TO PRAY

Monday: Thank God for his power in transforming you into a new creation

Tuesday: Ask God how he would like you to grow in your walk with Him

Wednesday: Ask God to give you strength and courage to act on one of those growth areas

Thursday: Pray for those in our congregation to follow the Lord’s leading in their lives

Friday: Pray for the leadership of our church and future leaders of our church to lead in Christ-likeness and to shepherd the people of DEC into righteousness

Diverse

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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