Midwest District Review

May, 2019

For a Mess of Pottage (by Pastor Andy Petro)

Most of us are probably familiar with the story of Esau’s birthright (Gen. 25:19-34). Esau, you might recall, came from the fields one day absolutely famished. His brother Jacob had prepared a pot of lentil stew and Esau, in his haste to eat, agreed to exchange his rights as firstborn for his mess of pottage.

The story might leave us scratching our heads. Surely no stew—especially not lentil stew!—is worth such a price. The Scriptures say that “Esau despised his birthright” (v. 34), and we concur. Something he sold for so little he could never have valued too much.

But let us not rush to judgment. Let us not hurriedly seek to cast the first stone. Perhaps we will find ourselves tarred with our own brush. Haven’t we likewise offered to trade our own birthright for paltry fare? I began asking myself this question recently as I read through the book of Hebrews. The writer gives us stern warning: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.” (Heb. 12:15-16). It got me thinking that our flirtations with immorality (sexual or otherwise) are tantamount to despising our spiritual birthright, something akin to Esau’s contemptuous act.

Whatever else we may conclude about sin, we need to recognize that it’s a bad bargain. It appears to offer so much—instant gratification, self-fulfillment, pleasure on demand—but it delivers so little. Its offers prove to be as empty as the most grandiose boasts of advertisers hawking their wares. Sin simply cannot make good on what it promises.

Look at what we trade for our ephemeral “fix,” for sin’s seasonal pleasures. At the very least, we exchange intimacy with God, peace of mind, and a clear conscience. Often, we sacrifice much more: our reputations, our ministries, our families, our friends, our self-respect. And for what? A bowl of lentil stew!

C.S. Lewis, in a wonderful essay entitled “The Weight of Glory,” writes: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Isn’t that precisely the case? We dabble in our petty vices when God offers to immerse us in His glory. We toy with the pathetic baubles of pride and greed and sensuality when God offers us a life of unsurpassed joy and fulfillment in his service. We are like the bedazzled Indians who sold Manhattan for a few dollars worth of glass beads.

Let’s treasure our inheritance as children of God, not squandering it like Esau. God offers us unimaginable joy in Himself. We should never settle for anything less.

Pictures from the 2019 Midwest District Conference

Ordination in Bedford

On Sunday, April 14th, Pastor Andy Petro was in Bedford, IA where he conducted the ordination service for Bedford's associate pastor, Ben Roed.

Ben grew up in Clarinda, IA, where he attended Hillside Missionary Church and where he was introduced to Jesus Christ. When he moved to eastern Iowa he found his interest in the Lord fluctuating between hot and cold. After graduation from high school, Ben decided to give up on Christianity and become an agnostic. That decision had drastic consequences on his behaviors.

While on Christmas break in 2006, Ben attended a Christmas Eve service with his family and in that service God broke his heart and he repented of his sin and surrendered to Jesus. Returning to college, Ben got involved in a local church and began growing in his walk with the Lord. He yielded his life to the Holy Spirit and experienced a growing desire for God to consume his life.

In 2008 Ben sensed God saying to him, "Ben, lead my people." Although somewhat hesitant at first, Ben talked with his pastor and was encouraged to get involved in ministry. Over the years, Ben has developed a philosophy of ministry that centers on servant leadership, and that is increasingly clear as he serves as associate pastor at New Life Missionary Church in Bedford, and as he leads the district's men's ministry.

Ben married his wife, Peggy, in 2009 and together they have two children, Gabe, age 6, and Natalie, who will be 4 in June.

New District Website

At the 2019 District Conference, Pastor Bryan Conrad introduced the newly launched district website (www.themidwestdistrict.com) which features news and notes from across the district plus a number of district and denominational resources. In addition to registration information for district events, effort is being made to post recordings from district events like men's and women's retreats and district conference. Check it out and check it often!

Spotlight on Newton, KS (by Dan Quinlin)

This has been an exciting season for our church family in Newton as we have seen many lives transformed by the power of the gospel! Over the past few years there has been a renewed emphasis on discipleship, and God is giving the increase with people being saved and growing in their walk with the Lord. We are thankful for growth and unity in the body!

While Pastor Ray Adams and Pastor Dan Quinlin have served together for over 27 years, it has been their prayer to raise up godly men and women and to equip them for works of service (Ephesians 4). God has answered this prayer in wonderful ways over the years. Pastor Anthony Adams joined the pastoral team in 2017, and we have seen many other men raised up for ministry over the years in an effort to reach our present and future generations: Nathan Schmidt (Bolivia), Brent Guthrie (Wisconsin), Daniel Asher (Rejoice Ministries), Enrique Martinez (Hispanic Ministries), Ryan Adams (Himalayas), and Marshall Hoberecht (Newton). Partnering together with Global University, we have two other young men who are currently preparing for licensing in the Missionary Church. It is our prayer that God will help us continue to train and send out workers into the harvest field!

The blessing of having several men who can share in the ministry and preaching responsibilities has also allowed Pastor Ray to serve as the E3 leader for the Kansas region of the district, and in the last couple of years he has also begun “Clear Call Ministries” in order to help strengthen, encourage, and equip people to have a clear understanding of God's purpose for their lives (www.CCM.team). This ministry has allowed him and Cheryl numerous opportunities to minister in Kansas and other states through special services, personal biblical counseling, consultation in church development, discipleship, and leadership training. Our church has had the privilege of hosting a variety of E3 and Clear Call trainings and conferences including: “The Heart of Worship” (worship) with Pastor Scott Denham, “You and Me Forever” (marriage) with our District Superintendent, Andy Petro, Pastor Tim Bauer, and Pastor Daniel Asher, and most recently “Be Strong in the Lord” (spiritual warfare) with Pastor Brian Bontrager.

After years of planning and praying for God’s perfect leading and timing, we are thrilled to be breaking ground for a new sanctuary on May 19th! Our last building project, completed almost 25 years ago, was a multi-purpose room. Initially it was used for a variety of outreach events, but over time it became our current sanctuary. We are excitedly looking forward to having a new worship and training center and being able to use our multi-purpose room for its intended outreach and fellowship purposes again.

Report from Women's Retreat (by Briana Shultz)

"The theme of this years Women's Retreat was “Authentic Heart.” We were challenged that having an authentic heart means we need to guard/keep our hearts by filling them with God's truth. That equips us as we battle the forces of evil. We also keep our hearts authentic by following God’s commands and living within the boundaries that have been set for us by God. That means we must align with God’s word and keep our hearts humbly set on our Father in heaven. For me, this retreat was an encouragement as God seemed to be telling me I am on the right path to “authenticating” my heart."

Coming Events

June 10-14, 2019 - Junior Camp for kids age 9-12 ("Wanted" with Sam Petro speaking).

July 8-12, 2019 - Youth Camp for teens ("Relentless" with Matt Miles speaking)

July 23-28, 2019 - Family Camp with Sean Azzaro sharing from the Word ("US and THEM" - Learning to see people as Jesus does)

There's still time to register for any of these camps. Go to the district website for more details and for registration information.