NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

It was the launch of a new chapter for NAMS; a glorious deepening of bonds between global companions old, new and unfamiliar; a new exciting phase in the global work that God has called us to; a time that will live long in our memories….

NAMS Novena

There are many ways we can describe the NAMS Novena that took place from 19-26 April 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. What is certain was that it was a significant moment in our collective history, marked by laughter, joy and anointed times of worship, sharing, testimony and fellowship around tables and the Table of the Lord.

We were active participants, along with the congregation that met at Khlong Toey Church on 21st April evening, to the passing of the baton from founder/Servant General Jon Shuler to Manik Corea, the new NAMS Global Executive, and his team.

With one voice, 25 Companions and Spousal Companions, including 2 serving bishops, committed as to live and hold each other accountable to the NAMS Rule and Order, to work to fulfill Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:19-20) by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and planting disciple-making churches.

The retreat on the weekend of 22nd April, attended by 28 of us, was an exciting time of clarifying and agreeing to a revised Rule and Order, which outlines the principles governing our global order and their practical outworking around the world. We also had wonderful times of prayer, worship and fellowship over delicious Thai food. We were blessed by the serenity and beauty of the Garden of Gospel Peace, run by Franciscan Friars who looked after us with great care. Surrounded as we were by idyllic rice fields and fish ponds, we felt the sure presence of God’s Spirit calling us to venture further on to greater exploits, working with His faithful Church, till the earth is covered with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14) .

All in all, 13 different nations represented by NAMS companions, spousal companions, 3 bishops, aspirants and friends as far afield as Chile, Congo DRC, Egypt, India, Taiwan and England were present. A number of our other companions and spousal companions were not able to be there and we dearly felt their absence. Still we look forward to the next one in 4 years or so.

We were grateful most of all for the prayers of our Global Prayer/Intercessory Team led by Mary Garisson-Ruiz, and by many of you reading this who thought and prayed for us during those days. We certainly felt their and your prayers.

If there was one song that captured the thrust of the Novena, it was the song ‘If you say go’ – taught to us by our worship leaders – companion Pete Matthews and our new NAMS friend, Susheel John (Manik’s cousin from Singapore). There words are an apt summary of what we pray God will help us do following this Novena:

‘If You say go, we will go.
If You say wait, we will wait.
If You say step out on the water,
And they say it can’t be done;

NAMS Novena sessions

NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

Developing Holy Habits – Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Discipleship is a life-long journey of becoming like Jesus in every way.

A clear outcome of discipleship is the forming of holy habits, which are means of grace by which the Spirit of God brings inner transformation of hearts and minds. These habits must become like well-trodden pathways in our walk with Christ.

What are some of these holy habits, and how can we grow in them while seeking to encourage and share the same with those we are discipling?

Before I continue, let me first provide a disclaimer: the life of faith and these habits are not a matter of religious performances in order to win something from God, but a response to undeserved riches bestowed upon us in Christ. We work, not to be saved, but because we are saved. Our work and holy living follows on completely from what God has done in us, the consequences of the finished work of Christ in saving and redeeming us on the cross. Nevertheless, the rhythms and habits of our outward lives can affect our inward lives.

And because He did, we can do. Consequently, we work out what God works into us with obedience, diligence, and not a little fear of God (as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2:12-13). We do the works that have been prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

In teaching holy habits in the life of discipleship, we expect that their regular practice will help us stay connected to or abide daily in Christ, and to walk with one another as God’s holy people in mission to a lost world.

I have found it immensely helpful to use the acronym PROMISE to capture the main seven habits that I believe we must practice before and teach to those we are discipling. And so we will look at briefly each of them in this series of blogs.

I like the word ‘promise’ because a promise requires trust and commitment. At baptism and confirmation, we make promises to God to reject the way of the world, the devil and sin, and to submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. And if the Christian life is to bear fruit in the promises we have made, then it must show forth consistently in the particular things we say and do, to the glory of God.

The first habit that we must nurture in ourselves and the disciples we make by teaching and modeling is:

P – prayer. What a gift this holy habit is! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have access by faith to the very presence of God, ushered in as we are by His unmerited grace and favor. Prayer is more than mere talking to God, but real relationship with Him.

It has been said that ‘Prayer is like breathing – people who don’t are dead!’ And like breathing, it needs to be an automatic, regular and moment by moment feature of the life of discipleship. How often do we pray, in private and with other believers?

Jesus modeled a life of constant prayer (Mark 1:25, Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23). He taught that He only did what He saw His Father doing and spoke what He heard His Father saying (John 5:19 & 8:28).

In this, as in the other habits, we have a lot to learn from our master disciple, Jesus, who showed and taught often on the importance of all aspects of prayer. For example:

1) prayer as effectual: Mathew 7:7-11; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24;

2) prayer as secret and private: Matt. 6:6; Mark 1:35; Matt. 14:23; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12, 9:18; 22:39-41;

3) prayer as communal: Matt. 18:19; Luke 9:28; Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; and

4) prayer as intercession for others: John 17:9-26.

The model prayer that Jesus left us, the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), teaches us to bring the ingredients of worship, confession, petition, and requests as necessary ingredients of our daily conversation with God, recognizing first and foremost that because of Jesus, we can call him ‘our Father’. Prayer is the language of intimacy in God’s family.

As a baby grows up, she learns both to listen and to speak. So, we who are born again into God’s family, must grow and learn the holy habit of speaking and listening to God daily.

 

 

Developing Holy Habits – Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Last Thoughts: If I was starting over again.

I became deeply aware of the call to become a disciple-making man years after I was converted. That “second call” occurred on February 1st, 1988, and I have been trying to learn to walk in this disciple-making path since that day. When I first surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus in 1968 it was with the intention of never turning back, but there was so much I did not know. What do I wish that someone could have helped me to understand?

First and foremost, I wish that someone would have helped me understand the difference between participating in the ecclesia of God and in the organized Church. By that I mean the difference between sharing my life with those who imply they are the Lord’s by their participation in the institutional forms of church life, and those in whom the Spirit of Jesus is truly living and reigning. All the joy of my walk has come from my fellowship with the latter group of men and women. The ecclesia of God is not invisible.

The second thing I wish is that someone would have helped me focus day by day on the truth that is revealed in the Holy Scriptures alone. Somehow, largely unconsciously, I became convinced that I had to read other books, study other peoples’ ideas about the scriptures, and implement someone else’s idea about how to live the life of Christ Jesus. It is embarrassing to admit how many years I tried to follow Jesus without giving his written word priority in my daily life. Even more, how far from an intimate walk with him I was in those days—even after I began to read the Holy Scriptures day by day. I was focused on reading them, not meeting the Lord Jesus as I read. A true discipling friend would have spotted that. It is possible to be very religious and not a disciple of Jesus.

The third thing I wish is that someone would have helped me understand the nature of a truly Christian marriage. All the examples in my life suggested that the work of serving the organized Church took priority over the responsibility I had—given by the Lord!—of caring for and discipling my wife, and my children when they came along. The implicit message I had received was, “the ordained ministry of the Church comes first, the family comes second.” I now know what a damnable lie that is, but for many years I did not. The institutional Church, as I experienced it, brooked no rivals. It did not teach me that my marriage and family were central to my ministry rather than an afterthought. I believed I had a ministry and a marriage, but my marriage was in truth part of my divine calling to ministry.

My fourth desire would be that someone would have come alongside me when our children were young enough to still be shaped in the ways of the Lord. Someone who could have lovingly helped us see that our children were being discipled by the culture more than by their parents and faith community.

When I look at my own list of things I wish I had known sooner, one thing stands out above all else. I wish I had known a disciple-making elder when I was younger. I knew true believers, but I did not know a discipling Christian.

Till the day I die, this is what I want to help other believers to be: Disciple-makers.

Last Thoughts: If I was starting over again.

2 Things Jesus Wants You to do – Part 2: Make Disciples (By Manik Corea)

Last week, we considered Jesus’ call for his followers to seek His kingdom first. Today, we will look at the second thing Jesus called us to accomplish in His name: making other disciples.

Final orders

Jesus’ last or final command in Matthew 28:18-20, what is commonly known as the Great Commission, sends us in Jesus’ name to all peoples on the holy task of making disciples who were to be baptized into the life and power of the Triune God and taught to obey everything Jesus told us.

Obedience is the fruit of our love for him. In His kingdom, mere talk is cheap! (John 14:23, 1 Corinthians 4:20)

There was a young American engineer who was sent to Ireland for a year. When he left, his fiancée gave him a harmonica. She said, “I want you to learn to play this: it will help to keep your mind off those Irish girls.” He wrote to her often, and told he her that he was practicing his harmonica every night.

After a year, he returned to America and was met at the airport by his fiancée. When he went excitedly to greet her with a hug and a kiss, she pushed him back. “Wait! Before anything else, I want to hear you play the harmonica.”

She wanted to see his proclamations in practice. Similarly, on that last day, would we be able to play the harmonica of our professed obedience to Christ?

The tragedy in our churches today is that while many so-called believers may have knowledge of God’s will and even experience His goodness and love, they are often deficient and complacent when it comes to obeying the clear commands of Jesus. Thus, they prove not to be true citizens and subjects of the Kingdom of God. The chasm between mere profession in words and real obedience in action will ultimately prove indomitable and damnable (Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 6:46).

What characterizes true disciples? Our Lord explicitly uses the indicative phrase ‘my disciples’ in the Gospels to identify those who obey and do his will. In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus states three times that ‘my disciples’ will have him as the first and foremost priority of their lives. Only three other places elsewhere (all in the Gospel of John) is Jesus quoted using the same phrase. Ultimately, disciples that Jesus calls His own are those who abide continually in his word (John 8:31), love one another as He commands (John 14:34-35), and are fruitful in reproducing other disciples (John 15:8).

Committed, Word-abiding, loving and fruitful Christians are called to reproduce themselves in others.

As disciples of Jesus, it behooves us to major on the things that Jesus majored on. Consequently, the seeking of God’s kingdom coming on earth and the making of disciples of all people must be the milieu and context of our mission on earth. Pleasing Jesus by doing these two things must therefore define the shape and scope of our work, till He returns.

2 Things Jesus Wants You to do – Part 2: Make Disciples (By Manik Corea)

Disciple-making Disciple: Step 7

Step #7. You are praying to be reproduced. You are not content until the one being discipled has begun to disciple another. They take up the ministry of being a disciple-making disciple along with you. You want them to soar, not remain dependent on you.

Perhaps the biggest difference between someone who says he is following Jesus, and a disciple-making disciple following Jesus, is that the latter is desirous of becoming part of the spread of the kingdom of God. He or she wants to be actively ensuring that the love of the Savior that has come to them goes to others. They know that means another person following Jesus. Nothing else will satisfy. They have heard the Lord Jesus teaching plainly, that if they “bear much fruit” they will “prove to be his disciples” (John 15:8). They do not want to be tested by the Lord and found to not be proved.

Many at first think this means becoming an evangelist, but this is not so. It only means intentionally finding someone to walk with on the road of discipleship, and then another, and another. This is a universal calling for the Christian. It is the same for a plumber or a school teacher. It is the same for a clergyman or a congressman. It is not about the occupation, but the vocation: the call of all believers. And this ministry path, once begun, is for life. It does not have a season.

With one person it may start when you introduce them to a life changing relationship with the Lord Jesus. With another it may be clarifying the gospel they already say they believe. With another it may be helping with the basic nurture needed after conversion, which if well done will last them a lifetime. With another it may be helping them find the equipping they need to fulfill their calling. With another it may mean helping them find the arena for their particular ministry. But with all, it will mean helping them become a reproducing disciple. There is a goal in discipling. It is that they faithfully reproduce.

The constant prayer of your heart for the one being discipled is for them to begin to disciple another.

Why? Because a disciple who is not making other disciples is not yet fully discipled. It is that simple.

 

Disciple-making Disciple: Step 7

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 6

Step 6: The ministry of the discipling disciple is to be honest and transparent before the Lord Jesus, in the company of the one being discipled. You are not better, you are a brother, you are a servant.

The person discipling another is most of all showing the one being discipled what a life looks like lived in the light of the scriptures. Not a perfect life, but one struggling honestly to allow the Spirit of God to “conform them to Christ.”

The disciple-making disciple is equally as accountable to the Lord as is the one being discipled. Both are accountable under the word of God.

In a very short time, the two will find they are not any longer “one up, one down,” but two on the road side by side. Either may “speak the truth of the Lord” to the other, at any moment. They are listening with the ears of their hearts for the glorious sweet voice of Jesus.

What happens when you meet? The ordinary things of the day, the events of the week, are discussed prayerfully. What does the Word of the Lord have to say about this? What is Jesus speaking to you? Have you heard his voice this week? What has he revealed to your heart?

Then the truth God has revealed in Jesus is brought to bear upon the subjects that you have talked about. It is turned into prayer. That is it. Everything is turned toward the Lord Jesus. His word. His will. His love.

The meeting will not be a burden. It will be a joy! It will be a time of expectation. “Come Lord Jesus” will be the cry of the heart of those who meet.

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Step 6

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Implementing Step 3.

Last week, I said to become a disciple-making disciple we must find someone to help us. A disciple, by definition, is being taught by another. But the principle thing to grasp is not “taught” as in a classroom, or by a curriculum, but by a lived relationship with someone who is further down the road than you are. You must have someone to imitate if you are to learn the first steps. As the apostle said: “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” This is the inner dynamic of all discipleship.

Let us discuss some of the characteristics of the disciple-making man or woman you need to find.

First, they are known to be serious in their desire to follow Jesus. Those who know them best are aware that they are not pretend Christians, or occasional Christians, but devoted to the Lord Jesus and his word. They have a demonstrable maturity, compared to you, in following the Lord Jesus.

Second, they are not confused by the question, “Would you be willing to disciple me?” They will know almost immediately what you are looking for, and will be able to prayerfully decide if they are to say “yes.”

Third, they are in an accountable relationship to their spouse, if married, and their home church. They are not lone rangers, and they are not looking for a relationship that satisfies their God given desires in any other way than God alone wills. They are not needing a relationship with you because they have none at home. Instead, they are able to help you because their home life is stable and holy. They do not function in opposition to a local body of believers, but are properly submitted in the midst of one.

Fourth, they do not have pamphlets and programs to give you. They know that the Word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, is sufficient for the journey. They know that discipling another person is about a relationship of trust and openness lived before God, not about “getting a certificate.” It is about learning to live according to God’s will revealed in Holy Scripture.

And fifth, they have time for you. The depth of a discipling relationship can be absolutely charted by the amount of time spent together. Nothing less than one and a half to two hours a week will suffice for this journey. And even that will not lead to rapid growth. In the discipling journey, slow is good. Good fruit does not grow quickly! Disciple-making can not be rushed. It requires quality time. Lots of it.

 

Disciple-making Disciple Steps: Implementing Step 3.