Wednesday, April 20, 2016


JUST ACT! Justice is the theme that will permeate the North Central Annual Conference 2016. AC16 is held at Sky Lodge Christian Camp in Montello, Wisconsin June 2-4.

This year we will informally BEGIN conference with a special dinner to HONOR PASTORS & SPOUSES Thursday, June 2. Superintendent MARK ADAMS will deliver his “Farewell Address” following the meal, and will not give a “State of the Work” during the conference proceedings. We encourage all to make an effort to be together for dinner on Thursday night. While we are honoring pastors and spouses, EVERYONE is encouraged to be part of the dinner and events which follow.
Two FANTASTIC contributors to AC16 this year will equip and encourage us as a movement to engage the work of modern ABOLITION.
Keynote speaker KEVIN AUSTIN, Director of the Set Free Movement, will deliver the keynote address. Special musical guests REMEDY DRIVE will do an outdoor concert (weather permitting) on Friday night. Remedy Drive is a premier contemporary Christian band engaged on the front lines of the battle against human trafficking.

Kidz Konference will not only provide wonderful activities for the children who attend AC16 but will also be themed along Just Act!

We believe all YOUTH DELEGATES will be moved and encouraged to find practical ways to advocate for JUSTICE through every element of the conference this year. There is a breakout for youth delegates with members of Remedy Drive.

Other workshops include Welcome Immigrants with Alma Jasinski and Prevent Suicide with Marie Rose.

We will ORDAIN new leaders and formally install SUPERINTENDENT HOPPER on Saturday morning, providing a RECEPTION BRUNCH afterward.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Thy Kingdom Come!

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” What is God’s kingdom like? Assuming the eternal aspects of heaven (where Jesus locates the Kingdom in this prayer) we see a few key things. Heaven has no more pain, sorrow or death. Heaven has no more sin, evil or demonic presence. Heaven is where together people of every nation, language and tribe worship the God who is in their midst. So, praying for the kingdom is praying for health and wholeness, purity and goodness, justice and harmony. Thy wholeness, thy goodness and thy justice come to earth as it is in heaven.

Knowing this makes clear why Jesus gave as evidence of his Lordship three primary signs (Luke 7:18-23). He healed the sick (wholeness), cast out demons and forgave sins (goodness) and preached the gospel to the poor (justice). Jesus, when commissioning his disciples, gave them these three commands – drive out demons, cure diseases and preach the gospel [to the poor] (Luke 9:1,2). This is our commission today.

Here are a few samples from your recent NCC church monthly reports. Woman healed of cancer in Beloit WI. Demon cast from woman in Wataga IL. 80,000 destitute people fed last year in Evanston, IL. Man raised from death on a hospital bed in LaFarge WI. Addict set free in Alexandria MN. 1000s of homeless housed in Chicago IL. Blind woman’s sight restored in Mason City IA. Man healed of scoliosis in Waterloo IA.  THIS LIST CAN GO ON AND ON AND ON!!! We saw hundreds and close to 1000s of first time decisions to follow Jesus this year, hundreds who have prayed for (and we trust received) fullness of the Holy Spirit and a myriad of “serendipitous coincidences” that lead to hope, healing and happiness upon people praising, repenting, asking and yielding to God.

Keep praying – thy kingdom come to earth as in heaven! Keep seeking to be used of God to bring about healing, goodness and justice. Jesus has commissioned you to do this very thing! And you are doing it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Power Play

Power Play

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Lk.9.1,2

Hockey players are a rough and tumble bunch who understand the “power play” – when your team has more players on the ice than the opponent you have the power and are more likely to score. Whether Christians play hockey or not, we ought to understand the power play as well. God is with us (Mtw:1.23), and assuming we are with him (united in faith and purpose through Jesus Christ), every day is a power play. Frederick Douglass, the great African-American abolitionist declared boldly, “One and God make a majority.” That’s the ultimate power play.

Paul writes “I pray that you know…His incomparably great power for us who believe which … is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph.1:19;3:20). We often neglect to tap into God’s power, or may even – despite having the label “believers” – not actually believe in God’s power. Yet, Jesus empowered his disciples to drive out demons, heal the sick and preach the kingdom of God, especially to the poor. Jesus declared that any gate hell erects around a heart or a community will crumble when faced with the power of God’s kingdom expressed through the church (Mtw.16:18).
John Wesley, an eminently rational man, an Oxford educator, practitioner of medicine and inventor, was used of God to reconnect the church to the Spirit’s power and launch the Methodist movement. He recounts many stories of apparent miraculous healing, exorcism and overcoming impossible obstacles. Methodism was birthed by the Holy Spirit and God’s power play. Free Methodists have sometimes struggled with embracing powerful expressions of the Holy Spirit – perhaps fearing being “too charismatic” or appearing just plain silly to believe outdated things like miracles in our day.
I think we should fear instead considering Jesus as his Nazarene brethren did, a prophet without honor, and through our disbelief limit the miraculous outpouring of kingdom power (Mk.6:4,5) which Jesus actually commissioned us to grasp and deploy (Lk.9:1,2).
What if in 2016 we purposed to rely more readily upon God’s power through the Holy Spirit? What if we prayed for miracles, healing, conversions, and more leaders to enter the spiritual harvest? What if we sought God sized-vision and God-imbued power to overcome the obstacles that we face? What if we took Jesus at his word? What if we really believed?
I think we’d see a real power-play. Hell’s gates would crumble. The good news would be preached to the poor. Prisoners would be set free. The blind would see. The oppressed would be liberated. The Lord’s favor would be experienced (Lk.4.18-21).
So stop right now and pray! Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Fill me Holy Spirit! Let’s get more players on the ice! "God and one are a majority!”

Monday, December 7, 2015

From a Grateful Fellow Pastor

This is a season of Thanksgiving, and my heart is full of abundant joy because of you, pastor.

Most people in your congregation will never really know that depths of longing you have for each one to draw nearer still to Jesus, how you have wept in prayer over the suffering and sometimes confusion of your members, the too many times you were required to miss meals and special moments with your family because you tended to the crises and needs of your flock.  Few will understand the decisions you have made to take less in order to serve more, to give sacrificially not only to set an example but because you love God and care for those suffering in the world.  You have chosen a simple lifestyle to honor the King who had no place to lay his head so that the gospel may be proclaimed without hindrance.

I know that this Thanksgiving there are lonely elderly in your community who will have companionship, confused teens who will know they are loved, hungry men who will have a meal, homeless women who will not be on the street, stressed marriages that will find points of agreeable joy, refugees and immigrants who will find friends in a hostile world – BECAUSE OF YOU and how you have led.

And only God truly knows, but I am sure the number is larger than you suspect, all of the people who have crossed from death to eternal life and will join you in angel song before the throne of the King of Kings when the mortal coil is shed - because of your witness and ministry.

This world is a better place because you said yes to Jesus Christ, and to the divine call to shepherd or prophesy or teach or evangelize or break new ground in a hard community – or all of this.  
I am so thankful for you. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Refugee Jesus, A Christmas Story

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt… for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13

Mary and Joseph fled nearly certain death in Bethlehem for the insecurity of Egypt and a chance to live. How long did young Jesus and his refugee parents live in Africa? Tatian puts a seven year span on the event, Baronius says eight, Athanasius thought four and Josephus believed it to be one year. There are plenty of ancient, apocryphal tales of young Jesus in Egypt, celebrated yet today by the Egyptian Coptic believers.

No one knows how long Jesus was a refugee before being gathered by Joseph, daring to return to obscure Nazareth. No one really knows what Christ’s earthly parents or even young Jesus himself did while separated from family, friends, occupation and home. We simply know that core to the Christmas story is the bleak and bloody tale of terror, shed blood, and fleeing with the hope of life and little but the promise of God.

Was Joseph hungry and harassed? Mary afraid? Did her baby cry? Most refugees are hungry, afraid, harassed and weep over deep losses.  

From the depths of this agonizing portion of the Christmas tale emerges a carpenter’s son whose entire life and legacy can be summarized by the action verb -- LOVE. Pressed by terror the diamond of hope emerged. Surrounded by death, the Prince of Peace smashed the mortal coil and prepared the path toward eternal life. The tragedy ends well. But the story continues to be written anew today.

I imagine Christ, at the side of His Father in heaven, is heartbroken over the weeping, harassed, hungry streams of refugees that flee from today’s Herods and seek some help from today’s wise men and hope for some place to lay their heads in today’s Egypts. What a wonderful Christmas gift it would be if Christ’s people, children of the Refugee King, might supply the warmth of prayers, assistance of financial support, and not without applying the wisdom of security, nonetheless offer a place for the least of these to lay their weary heads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pastors Love. Love Pastors.

Pastors love.

That is all that really explains their existence, perhaps at any time, but certainly in the modern world. Pastors proclaim a message of hope in the resurrected Jesus and an eternal truth discovered in an ancient text and through hearing from the Holy Spirit. This pastor’s message is often mocked, this text is often viewed as a relic, and being thought of as eccentric at best or pathological at worse if she actually admits to hearing from God. Because there are too many pastors who have not lived according to the profession of their faith, creating dark news sensations, a shadow has been cast upon all who seek to servant-lead congregations and merit in the general public a trustworthiness rating below that of used-car-salesmen.

Nationally, only teachers and pastors are paid less for their level of education and training as professionals. The average teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns about $42,000; the average pastor with a bachelor’s degree earns $28,000. Most pastors have expensive Master’s Degrees, with extensive training in languages, theology, counseling, administration, communications, community development and leadership. At least one of five pastors must work an additional job outside of the church in order to support their family. In the NCC, over 60% of our lead pastors are bi-vocational (including 3 Assistant Superintendents). The stress this places on a family over time – working between two jobs often 70 hours per week with very few days off despite the biblical admonition to Sabbath – takes a toll. Pastors are rarely compensated adequately and find it difficult to provide the basics for their families, including health care.

Guaranteed: your pastor does what she does out of deep commitment to a call from God and an abiding love for you and the community of service.

Love your pastor. The reason they are with you is love for God and you.

Keep your eye on the NCC Facebook page (fb/nccfmc) for daily reminders of ways you can show appreciation to your pastor during October – Pastor Appreciation Month.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

General Conference Update

The Spirit of Christ spoke to and through the Free Methodist Church at General Conference 2015. Organized around nine priorities which in fact flowed from the work of the Holy Spirit through the church at GC2011. At least one of your NCC elected delegates participated in being resourced and contributing to each of the nine FMC priorities. These priorities are:

Embrace All ● Disciple Deeply ● Cultivate Health
Develop Leaders ● Multiply Ministries ● Honor Fruitfulness
Engage Urban ● Partner Strong ● Go Global

Your delegates (pictured) say….

General Conference was a wonderful time of inspiration – through worship music, messages from our bishops and leaders, strategic priorities training, fellowship with 2,000 of our Free Methodist family from across the nation and around the world, and the confirmation of our denominational stand on the Biblical definition of marriage. I came away from the conference being spiritually renewed and refreshed, and have returned to the Fillmore Church with a greater passion to multiply the church through making disciples for Christ. (Mike Hopper)

I was so moved when Bishop Roller said, “Love your neighbor as yourself… I would just be glad if we would love our neighbor as much as we love our pets." Likewise, I resonated with Bishop Thomas when he referenced how all through the Old Testament God is the maker. Then Jesus invites us to be a partner with him as we "make" disciples. What a privilege, honor and responsibility we have to share in God’s work of re-creation. (Shawn Morrison)

I was impacted by the general feeling of action that transpired through every activity, more than ruling and dictating, a strong spirit of support and partnership with very defined strategies is what I got from GC15. (Alma Jasinksi)