In this final Advent blog, we look at the quality of peace – what it is and how it marks us out as Jesus’ disciples in the world. Peace, as this season of Advent reminds us, is a gift of God like love, faith and hope. May you and I revel in the peace that God brings through Christ this Christmas.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” (Luke 2:14).
An old chorus I sang growing up, based on an African-American spiritual, spoke of having ‘peace like a river.’  Recently, my wife and I were wondering where that phrase came from, since we didn’t generally think of rivers as peaceful bodies of water. We thought rather of waters in constant motion.
At points indeed, rivers could be terrifying – raging and foaming rapids that cascade over treacherous, bone-wrenching rocks, often culminating in tumbling waterfalls.
Shortly afterwards, in an evening devotion, we were reading together in Isaiah 48, in which God accused Israel of being obstinate in their rebellion against him. He called them back, as He often did, to repentance. Isaiah records God’s plea in these terms:
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your profit, who leads you in the way you should go. Oh, that you had listened to my commandments; then your peace would be like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” 
Now we got the point. Peace is like a river in that it brings life. Rivers in Israel were a real source of security, sustenance and abundance. The great Jordan River and her tributaries, as they cut across the thirsty, arid landscape, gave rise to fertile banks. The rivers of peace and her righteous waves were meant to carry us along God’s holy ways – a means of great blessing and rule that come from following in the way of God.
Our sinful world however, like stubborn Israel, wants peace on its own terms.
According to popular culture, peace is often (and only) thought of as the absence of conflict, war, trouble or stress. They picture a world devoid of struggle – that lets then be as they want.
The Scriptures, by contrast, root ‘peace’ not in the absence of danger about us, but in the presence of God with us, no matter the outward circumstance.
True peace is God’s gift. It can only be found as we submit to the will and ways of God. The poet Dante captured it well: ‘In his will is our peace.’ 
C.S. Lewis agrees: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” 
Peace then, that the angels sang about to the lowly shepherds at Christmas, is peace that is given through the favor and blessing of God. We cannot manufacture it, nor earn it ourselves. It is instead a dynamic by-product of the Gospel transformation that comes by grace through faith in the salvation of Christ alone, for God’s glory.
Didn’t Jesus promise such a genuine peace – unlike the world’s type – in John 14:27? So we need not be afraid at all, even though a little later in John 16:33, he tells us that we will have trouble in the world. There again, he reiterates that in him, we have peace.
May the peace of God that is yours in Christ therefore, rule your heart this Christmas.
As disciples of Jesus called to ‘know nothing except Christ and Him crucified’ and to make disciples after Him, may that peace also be a source of blessing to many around you, this time and always. From Him, springs life everlasting and peace unending.
Oh cross that liftest up my head
I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust’s life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be. 
Can $10 make a difference? We believe it can. We are looking for partners that will help us to spread the gospel of Jesus to all the peoples of the world. We are currently working in 9 of the 16 Global Regions of the world. We need partners like you in this mission. Are you able to join us by investing $10 a month to allow NAMS to continue the work we are doing in over 40 countries. If you can please go to the address below.
 In the same vein, the opening line of Horatio Spafford’s well-loved hymn ‘It is Well with My Soul’ carries the same image: “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way…”
 Isaiah 48:17-18, ESV. The passage ends with a solemn warning in verse 22: “There is no peace, says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
 Dante Alighieri, translated from Paradiso, Canto III, line 85.
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), page 50.
 Final verse of Hymn “O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go” by George Matheson. https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/432
As it has no doubt been for you, 2020 has been a strange year for us as well. Many things we had planned have been put on hold. Too many people dear to members of our network have suffered as a result of the pandemic—the disease itself and its devastating impact on economies and culture. Yet through it all we have seen God at work, and we have been blessed because of it.
We have seen disciples made, churches planted and new mission fields open in India, Peru and the US. Our Global Apprentice Program expanded into Africa this year. We now have (or are poised for) Global Apprentice in Asia (Thailand) and Europe (England). Generous donors made COVID relief through NAMS possible in five major regions. The work goes on because the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ carries us onward.
To those who have already given this year, we say “thank you.” To all of you who pray for us so faithfully, we again say “thank you.” As the calendar year draws to a close and our brothers and sisters in the USA enter a season focused on giving thanks, we ask you to consider showing your thanks to God by making a gift to NAMS and so partnering with us in the spread of the gospel around the globe. We cannot continue to answer the Lord’s call to pioneering global church planting through disciple-making discipleship without your generous support. Thanks be to God, who is able to do far more than we are able to ask or imagine!
Or, you can mail a check (or use your bank’s online bill pay feature to send a payment) to:
2820 Selwyn Ave, Suite 694
Charlotte, NC 28209
Announcing ‘Jesus-Shaped Leadership’ a new small group Leadership Development Course by NAMS.
“To learn to be a disciple-making leader means to help people enter deeper into dependence upon the Lord Jesus, not ourselves.”
(NAMS Founder, Revd Canon Dr Jon Shuler)
In NAMS, we have always believed that the holy tasks of spreading the good news of Jesus and planting new churches are intimately related to the making of disciples who make disciples AND the raising up of faithful and fruitful leaders who believe and practice this passionately.
Indeed, we believe it is self-evident that the work of God’s church and kingdom cannot be accomplished without called, prepared and consecrated new leadership – who have learned to be utterly dependent on Jesus
The Jesus-Shaped Leadership course is a 7-week small group course on Jesus’ method for raising disciple-making leaders. It calls attention to the kind of leaders he modeled, incubated, trained and sent into the world.
Two free resources (A Participant course book and a Leaders/Facilitators Guide) have just been published on the resource page of our website:
(under the heading ‘Jesus-Shaped Leadership’)
Our prayer is that this short course will bring focus on the vision, values and godly methods of kingdom leadership development.
Each week’s lesson will focus on a different facet of leadership as the Scriptures and our Lord Jesus taught or instructed. It is hoped that the teaching from Scripture, personal sharing, mentoring and practical application will catalyze a culture of learning, encouragement and accountability for new and seasoned leaders alike. (The Leaders/Facilitator’s Guide will give additional information on how to run each session).
We have also released a new e-book in conjunction with the Jesus-Shaped Leadership course, also available on our resource page. It is called ‘4 Things Kingdom Leaders Do.’ You can access it directly from this link:
Please feel free to download, share and use these resources.
Dear NAMS Network and Friends,
The Anglican Bishop of South Carolina has asked me to step in, temporarily, to lead a parish here in my hometown called Christ the King/Grace Anglican Church. We will upload our Easter service to Youtube at 7:00am Sunday morning, US Eastern Standard Time. We would love to have you and your family join us. May the Spirit of God bless you and yours throughout this extraordinary Easter Season.
Servant General (NAMS)
The service can be accessed via this Facebook link:
5) The Principle of Serving.
There is no part of the human body that was not created for a purpose. Each limb, each organ, every major system, indeed every cell has a purpose. It is possible to live after the loss of some, but each of the manifold parts was created to be supportive of the whole. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. As it is in the human body, so it is in the church. The constituent living cell is a believer, and every healthy cell in the body has a purpose.
The Apostle Paul writes of the church as the body of Christ, and the Apostle Peter gives us the image of a living temple. Whether we think organically of the body, or more structurally of the temple (though remember it is a “living” temple), each believer has a part to play. None are to be passive, even if hidden, because each is needed for the common good. To serve the Lord means not only to serve among his people, but also to serve his people.
We argued in an earlier post in this series that every believer is to find the work that the Lord has created them to do, that is their unique and particular ministry. As the journey of faith unfolds, this early work, or ministry, often becomes the primary calling of their life. But here we are describing a different element of the healthy church, not vocation. We are describing a willingness to be used, even outside of ones gifting. This serving is the readiness to do whatever needs to be done. This serving posture is for all.
To begin the journey of a Christian is to learn that we are to be stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Central to this is to begin to exercise the common grace of serving others. We discover that Sunday worship is vital and normal, but we also learn to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God. When we learn to tithe, that is to return a tenth of our financial resources to the Lord, we are serving the body. When we begin to take part in daily intercession for the mission and ministry of the local church, we are serving the body. If we agree to do some simple act of service for a member in need, we are serving the body. In such ways we learn not to hold back from the needs of the church. We offer ourselves to fill a gap. We serve the body of Christ.
And to what end? Why does it matter that all learn the principle of serving? Because the Lord who created us calls us to this. We are part of the family of God, and we share in the common life. We have received so we can give. We have been blessed so we can be a blessing. Our model for this way of life is Jesus Christ our Lord.The one who came down from heaven to save us, gave himself for us. We are servants of the servant Lord. The whole body of Christ is to grow up into the head, into Christ. It cannot do so unless every part is working together for the common good. All are called to be a serving disciples.
Used with permission, https://joncshuler.wordpress.com/
‘Disciple’ is the word most commonly used for a follower and believer in the risen Jesus in the book of Acts. Jesus instructed us in his final command of Matthew 28:18-20 to ‘make disciples’ as the overarching focus and mission of his post-resurrection church, as told to his appointed pioneers of that universal church. And we know from Acts and the rapid spread of the Gospel in the Roman world in the first few centuries that this was certainly their practice.
Yet, being a disciple today may mean something entirely different. How often it is in churches around the world as I’ve traveled, that I have found discipleship to be reduced and redacted to something less than it should be. It is often seen only as a short-term follow-up course or program for new believers or a description for adult Sunday school classed or bible studies for serious believers. At worse, it is seen as synonymous with other popular words like mentoring and coaching. John Ortberg, Christian pastor and teacher comments thus:
“Words pick up baggage, so disciple, a great New Testament word, has come to mean a time-limited process that you can finish. Growing up, I’d hear people say, “I’m discipling him.” They meant, we’ll meet for a while and then we’ll finish and he’ll be discipled. That usually involved getting together at Denny’s at 6:30 in the morning and working through some kind of curriculum. The New Testament never uses disciple in that way. To be a disciple of Jesus was something all followers did in community, and did their whole lives long.”
He is of course right – Discipleship that is not life-long and reproducing is neither biblical nor Jesus-pleasing. God has taught us at NAMS that we must call the Church of Jesus Christ back to an understanding of discipleship as Jesus and his apostles taught and lived it.
The good news is that we are living in days when the word ‘disciple’ and the work of ‘disciple-making’ is being recovered and reclaimed through the sovereign work of God’s Spirit around the world by missionaries, pastors and leaders as never before.
There is a greater realization today that being and making disciples is a fundamental call and work for all obedient followers of Jesus. We live in days when disciple-making movements around the world are paving the way for new church-planting and Gospel transformation in previously unreached people groups.
In the same vein, NAMS as a missionary society was founded in 1994 to model, train and call the church and all Christians to obedience to Jesus’ final command to make disciples of all peoples. We do this by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and seeking to plant disciple-making churches.
In this new year, it is our prayer and hope that together, we can be growing and reproducing disciples of Jesus, so that his Kingdom may come on earth and His Gospel reach the ends of the earth.
 See for example Acts 6:1-2, Acts 6:1-2,6:7; Acts 9:1, Acts 9:1,9:10, Acts 9:10,9:19, Acts 9:19, 9:26, Acts 9:26, 9:38; Acts 11:26, Acts 11:26. Butler, Trent C. Editor. From entry for ‘Disciples’. Holman Bible Dictionary. Accessed at http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/d/disciples.html. 1991.
 John Ortberg in ‘Holy Tension’ – interview with Leadership Magazine. Accessed at http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2004/winter/1.22.html
If you would like to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, you can find the following resources on our website that can help you be obedient to Jesus’ final command:
www.namsnetwork.com/assets/dmdsteps.pdf An e-book clearly outlining a 7-step process to become a disciple who makes disciples by Canon Revd Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General.
Praxis is a 4-week small group training course on how to be a disciple-making disciple. The workbook for this course can be found at:
with a facilitators/leaders guide at:
You can also watch our 7-part YouTube video series on being and making disciples: go to www.youtube.com and type ‘NAMS Disciple Making Discipleship Course’ in the search bar.
This resource is an offering to the Church universal to begin to apprentice, learn and practice the ‘family business’ that is the vocation and inheritance of all true Christians.
Advent is a season of celebration and preparation. It calls us to look back with gratitude for the incarnation of our Lord, and to godly repentance and active readiness for his second coming. It is the yearly reminder to the people of God of the ultimate destiny we are called into, a kingdom we must all seek, work for and proclaim, as we await its consummation in the return of Christ.
Against the three-fold enemy of God’s people – sin, the world and the devil, it calls us against despair and doubt, to renewed hope and faith in His plans, purposes and power to bring about His transformative purposes in our world.
The following words from poet Roger Spiller is a prayer for us to seek to partner and participate with God in His mission and advent hope for our world today. May it be your prayer and mine today….
Lord, you call us to be story-tellers:
planting your explosive news into our defended lives;
locating us in the script of your human history.
You call us to be trailblazers:
living in your future that we receive only as gift;
subverting the fixed, fated world of low horizons.
You call us to be weavers: tracing, stretching, connecting the knotted threads;
gathering up unravelling, disconnected lives.
You call us to be fools – for Christ’s sake:
bearing life’s absurdities and incongruities;
puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.
You call us to be hosts:
welcomers of the sacred, intimate, transfiguring;
lavish celebrants of our communities and homecomings.
You call us to be poets: artists and illuminators of inner space; naming, invoking, heralding your ineffable presence.
You call us to be gardeners: sowers, cultivators, nurturers of fragile lives;
benefactors of your gratuitous harvest.
You call us to be conductors celebrating polyphony, coaxing symphony; orchestrating the praise of your inhabited creation;
Lord, you lavish gifts on all whom you call. Strengthen and sustain us and all ministers of your church, that in the range and diversity of our vocation, we may be catalysts of your kingdom in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen