Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

How good are you at listening to your Lord?

Writer and pastor Chuck Swindoll tells of a particularly frantic time in his life when he was flustered and hurried by many appointments and commitments. He was gulping down his food at family meal-times, being short-tempted and irritated with his family and getting annoyed by unplanned interruptions. His family members began to get affected by his increased stress.

One evening, his youngest daughter said she wanted to tell him about something that happened at school that day, but said she would tell him ‘really fast.’ Realizing her frustration, he calmed her down and said, ‘Honey, you don’t have to rush. You can say it slowly.’ Swindoll says he’ll never forget her retort: ‘Then listen slowly.”

Are we listening ‘slowly’ to God?

Being a disciple of Jesus involves developing a keen sense of hearing – giving our undivided attention to the voice of God.

The listening ear is a door for faith to enter.

Thus Paul wrote ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). The Gospel must first be told us and heard and understood, to have effect.

But listening to God in Scripture must be a precursor to actual obedience and submission, or we will be condemned as many a Scripture warns (see Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; John 14:24; James 2:26; etc). Thus hearing and obedience are intimately linked in the Scripture.

I was surprised to learn recently that there is no Hebrew word that translates directly to the English word ‘obey’. The Hebrew word that most often equates to our English ‘obey’ is the word ‘shema’ which literally means to ‘hear’. However, this means more than just audibly receiving communication, but most often carries the meaning of ‘paying attention to’ and especially, ‘responding to what is heard.’[1]

Hebrew words typically stress concrete action, as opposed to Greek works which are more abstract. Thus, we understand ‘hearing’ as understanding or receiving a communication, whereas the Hebrews immediately made the link to obedience and action.

In a similar way, when a mother says to her child ‘You’re not really listening!’ she typically doesn’t mean her child has not heard her, but has not obeyed her.

To Jesus and then Jews, having ears is not simply a matter of being able to hear. It is a matter of being able to also understand and obey what is heard. Hence, Jesus so very often ended his sermons with the Hebraism, ‘to him who has ears, let him hear.’[2] He was looking for a right response.

As James so clearly and pithily instructs in James 1:22, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.’

And so, a simple definition of discipleship could be as follows: ‘A disciple is one who seeks everyday of his life to hear and obey Jesus’ words.’

To do what Jesus wants, we must truly ‘shema’ His Words.

Often. Carefully. Slowly.

 


[1] See this enlightening Word Study video on the word ‘Shema’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=6KQLOuIKaRA

[2] Matthew 11:5; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35 cf Deuteronomy 29:4; Ezekiel 12:2).

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Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

NAMS Cuban Leadership training event

P and T are Cubans who have spent some time in our NAMS Base Community (NBC) in Temuco, Chile. There, they learned how to become disciple-making disciples. Now they are back in Cuba and have started reaching others. So far, they have gathered 17 people in their homes – people of different backgrounds, professions and ages, but all being drawn to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

TheHabanaCuba
Base community in The Habana, Cuba

Consequently, at the end of June this year, 4 NAMS leaders from Chile will be in Cuba to offer further training to P and T, and to around 40 other local leaders and pastors, on how to effectively make disciples, raise leaders and plant fruitful churches.

The estimated total cost that for the 3-day training event in this impoverished nation totals US$7,800 which includes flights to take our team there, local transportation cost for participants (some will travel from a long way), food and accommodation for 3 days and video/materials to record training sessions and to continue to resource them.

PLEASE will you PRAY for this event AND consider GIVING specifically towards it. You will be partnering with us to invest in God’s mission in a very specific way this June in Cuba. We will be able to send you a follow-up report after the meetings to let you know how it went.

To join us in supporting this exciting event, click on this link

https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/campaign/313066

and you can indicate your gift. To send a check direct or make a bank transfer to our NAMS account (USA only), please contact us at info@namsnetwork.com for details.

You can also check the progress of this fundraising campaign at

https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/progress/313066

Thank you,
Rev Manik Corea
NAMS Global Executive

NAMS Cuban Leadership training event

On the (Gospel) Road to Mandalay (By Revd Manik Corea)

Mandalay boatsAt the beginning of this month, 3 NAMS Companions and one NAMS Global Apprentice from Jacksonville, Florida, USA and Bangkok, Thailand left for Myanmar. Our destination was the 2nd largest city in Myanmar, the old royal capital of Mandalay with its iconic Mandalay Palace surrounded by a moat and multi-cultural influence.

This was the second NAMS team to visit Mandalay at the invitation of Anglican Bishop David Nyi Nyi Naing, who is also a NAMS Guardian Bishop, following our first trip in August 2016. This time, we shared and taught most of the clergy from the Archdeaconry of Mandalay, along with a few ordinands and the heads of the various Diocesan departments.

Our aim on this visit was to lay the foundation for a new NAMS Base Community (NBC) out of which to partner with the Diocese to make disciple-making disciples, raise disciple-making leaders and help them ultimately plant more disciple-making congregations in the unreached people groups and regions of their Diocese.

P1020755

We taught on topics like ‘the kind of disciples Jesus wants’ (after John 8:31; 13:34,35 and 15:8); ‘obeying the final command of Jesus’ (Matthew 28:18-20) and how to mobilize the local church to join in the Mission of God, to reach a lost world. We did practical sharing and training on how to disciple and reach young people through community outreach like sports ministry, the arts and education.

There was also some very practical teaching by NAMS Trainer Clay Hamrick on how to tell your story of faith or testimony in under 3 minutes and how to share the Gospel using the 3 circle diagram method.[1] Additionally, we had participants go out on the streets of Mandalay to prayer-walk one evening, something most of the clergy and lay-leaders had never done. This led to some encouraging feedback the next morning.

An outcome of this visit was that we have identified and will be working with a number of key clergy and lay-leaders to lay the foundation for a new NAMS base in Mandalay in partnership with the Diocese of Mandalay. We thank God for the welcome and partnership in the Gospel that we are building with these brothers and sisters.

This envisioning trip to Mandalay is an example of the kind of pioneering mission work that all NAMS Companions are called to. Years ago, God gave us a charge through the retired Anglican Archbishop of South-East Asia Moses Tay that has guided our work ever since. He called us to attend to 4 things primarily. NAMS Companions are always to:

‘Preach and teach ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified’;
‘Plant churches wherever God opens the door’;
‘Obey the Holy Spirit’ and
‘Never break the Word of God.’

Our primary strategy then is to send or raise up NAMS Companions in a given location to establish a NAMS Base Community where God opens the door. From there, we model, grow, train and send disciple-makers and church-planters in partnership with other churches.

To do this, we need your help and partnership to pray with us to be faithful and for more laborers, for work God has called us to in Mandalay and in many parts of the world. If you would like to be a NAMS Global Intercessor and receive once-a-month prayer updates, please write to Mary Garrison at mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com

If you would like to give a dedicated and exclusive gift towards our the establishing of a new NAMS Base Community in Mandalay, please use this link:

https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/campaign/311251

Thank you

 

 


[1] You can watch Clay teach the 3 circles method here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOtaVvCZBGE

On the (Gospel) Road to Mandalay (By Revd Manik Corea)

As long as it is called ‘Today’… (By Manik Corea)

There is always time to do what we truly want to do.

Occasionally, as my wife will testify, I have been known to rouse myself from sleep in the wee hours of the morning – not to pray or seek the Lord I am ashamed to confess – but to watch a game of football (soccer) that is being telecasted ‘live’ from the UK or somewhere in Europe to where I am based here in Bangkok, Thailand.

This takes determination and preparedness. I set the alarm, get up, make a cup of coffee and follow the game excited and wide awake, while all else in the house and around is quiet and dark.

All because I want to.

But ask me to do some other thing or stay up for some other event, and I may decline and claim I am too busy or simply don’t have the time.

We make time for the things that are most important to us.

What about the things of God? Any sane Christian will confess the highest place and priority of God in our lives. We sing lustily and wax lyrical about our love for him, like a fawning Peter before his tragic night of self-preserving denials.

No wonder A.W. Tozer once remarked, ‘Christians don’t lie – they just go to church and sing them!’

How often though we let other priorities and concerns hustle, steal away and hinder us from pursuing Jesus’ call and obeying His clear commands.

We live in an intrusive world brimming with distraction and temptation. A technological, sensual age provides rich soil for building a life based on convenience, self-concern and instant gratification.

We are also busy with so many things. Who among us have not been so occupied with temporary and urgent concerns as to put off till some further day, ultimate matters and that still small Voice?

We put off till tomorrow what He has called us to attend to today.

This is a prime tactic of the devil – to make us complacent and compromising towards the high cost and calling of being Kingdom-seeking disciples of Jesus.

There is an apocryphal story of a meeting in hell between the devil and 4 of his leading demons. They were discussing the best strategy to draw people away from God.

The first demon suggested denying the existence of God. Satan insisted that people who look at creation will find ample proof for God’s existence in the wonder, order and design of the universe.

The next demon suggested convincing people there was no heaven. Again, Satan suggested that most people have a suspicion and inner sense they cannot shake off that there must be life after death. They also have a longing for a place like heaven.

The third demon suggested that they convince people there is no hell. Satan countered that God has given every human being a conscience that tells them their sins will be judged. ‘We need a better lie’ said the devil.

The final demon said, ‘I’ve got it. We’ll just convince people there is no hurry.’

Complacency easily breeds a procrastinating proxy-faith of comfort and self-gratification and makes barren the womb of obedient acts.

Jesus once said to a dithering would-be disciple: ‘‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ (Luke 9:62)

That surely is the cure – the stark, unrelenting demand of God’s truth and claim upon us that will not let us have our easy way out at the expense of His glory, plan and purpose.

May God make us disciples who hear and obey without question or delay.

‘Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ (Hebrews 3:15).

 

As long as it is called ‘Today’… (By Manik Corea)

On Your Marks, Get Set…. (By Manik Corea)

“So (Mary Magdalene) ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple….So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were both running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” (John 20:2-4).

An epidemic of running breaks out in the immediate aftermath of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene tells Peter and John and they both race away to the tomb. John wins, but Peter stoops first to cross the line. Going in after Peter into the inner sanctum of the empty cave-tomb, John sees and believes (verse 8).

Matthew, in his resurrection account (Matthew 28:1-10) tells us that when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to morn at the tomb, the only ‘dead’ bodies they found were those of the guards, made comatose by the sight of a glorious angel. Fueled by a mixture of fear and great joy and at the command of said angel, they likewise run to tell the disciples.

How fast can you run? That probably depends on what you’re running from or for!

But what if God speaks to you?

‘He is not here, for He has risen, as he said.’ (Matthew 28: 6).

What if, like those first witnesses, you were given this startling, unexpected, mind-boggling news.

What if, like Philip, you were sent as a messenger to a leader of an unreached people group (Acts 8:29-30)?

Would you drop all and run like they did?

Or hesitate? Rationalize your situation? Think of a way to send someone else instead?

Would you drag your feet back to your normal routines, distracted and busy as you can be with the usual business of your day?

The good news of the resurrection ought to likewise set us running to rouse each other and hurry to proclaim to a lost and cruel world this greatest news.

Why should we let the wonder and death-shattering reality of His resurrection stay the treasured secret of a few, cloistered in the confines of our inner lives and gatherings?

Why not with haste, broadcast far and wide? Why indeed not?

This year, let us run to tell those far and wide the startling life-changing news of an empty tomb and a risen Savior.

Go!

 

Read our free e-booklet ‘Holy Transformation – 7 short reflections for Easter’ by Revd Canon Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General. Click on this link.

On Your Marks, Get Set…. (By Manik Corea)

The Way of the Cross (by Manik Corea)

We are in the midst of Holy Week, that yearly reminder of the greatest lengths God went to rescue us from sin and death. Two startling events bookend these most pivotal moments in human history: Jesus made a triumphant but hardly regal entrance into Jerusalem on someone else’s donkey one weekend; He rises from the dead the next from someone else’s tomb, following a tortuous execution reserved for criminals of the worse sort.

This week of weeks constitutes the ‘real stuff’ of our Gospel, the veritable news and life-saving kyregma transmitted to us, individuals in a many-linked chain of hope, by faithful people through the ages. Their message we likewise believed on in faith and are now responsible to live by and pass on (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).

It is a history of epic proportions that stops all heaven in her wake. This great saga of God’s making is worth pondering about often, worth singing about daily, worth sharing about regularly and with urgent intent, to people we meet, near and wide who don’t yet know it (or may not yet care).

It is of first importance for you and me. It is good news with eternal ramifications for all, believers or not.

Yet, if we have ears to listen, we would be awe-struck again and again at the wonder of it all. Jesus, whose very word created everything, divested himself of heaven’s glory to become one of us.

He wandered all over Israel hounded and homeless (Luke 9:58). He was misunderstood and rejected by those closest to him – his own family and home-town (Mark 3:21; 6:4). He and his disciples depended on the generosity of others (Luke 8:3). This was not the life that Heaven’s King deserved.

He was, as the old prophesy had said he would be, ‘despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…’ (Isaiah 53:3).

J.C. Ryle, the great Bishop of Liverpool and theologian wrote: ‘When (Jesus) crossed the sea of Galilee, it was in a borrowed boat. When He rode into the holy city, it was on a borrowed beast. When He was buried, it was in a borrowed tomb…Who that reads the Gospels carefully can fail to observe that he who could feed thousands with a few loaves, was himself sometimes hungry; and he who could heal the sick and infirm, was himself sometimes weary; that he who could cast out devils with a word, was himself tempted; and he who could raise the dead, could himself submit to die?”[1]

Yes, far more mind boggling that his humanity is this: God in Jesus submitted himself on our behalf, to a first-hand experience of unimaginable pain and a shameful death on a Roman cross. He left heaven for earth and went to hell to keep us from it. And He has the scars to show for it.

This Holy Week, let us be challenged anew to walk the way of the cross, to choose to live and die as Jesus did, for a purpose and a glory far greater than this world could ever supply.

Let us sing again, amidst the sacredness, silence and hope of a bloody cross and empty tomb, His song of love in sublime concert with His glorious purpose.

One which will ultimately overcome the syncopated rhythms and discordant melodies of our off-beat world, and call it to order, drowning it with an anthem far lovelier that earth could compose, transporting us to a kingdom far greater than history’s pretenders could build, at the feet of a King far nobler than earth’s famed academies could ever produce.

Let us fall down and worship our crucified, risen King.

 


[1] https://gracegems.org/Ryle/mark11.htm

The Way of the Cross (by Manik Corea)

NAMS Blog – Sold out for Jesus (by Manik Corea)

Recently, when teaching in our NAMS Latin America meetings, I shared a cogent definition of discipleship by the late Dallas Willard:

“A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do.” [1]

The late, great Christian singer Keith Green likewise gave a simple and memorable description of a genuine Christian: ‘One who is bananas for Jesus’.

Both definitions were true to Jesus’ words (Luke 6:46, 14:25-33, Matthew 28:20).

The highest place in our lives must belong to Jesus. This means He gets the first and final call over what we do with our money, time, possession and energies and over every life critical issue, opportunity, relationship and circumstance that is ours.

He demands that all our dreams and ambitions be laid at His feet in total surrender. The call to discipleship is not, and has never been, a popular message. Sinners after all prefer their way to God’s, and sin is essentially civil war against the rule and reign of God over us.

What is truly heart-breaking, though, is how very few of us who call ourselves Christians are likewise willing to accede full control to Jesus in the same way. We want Him to save us from hell in the next world, but to pander and be subservient to our wants and desires in this. If you’re like me, we easily hold back the more precious parts of our lives from Him.

But we cannot have it both ways. Jesus didn’t come so the ‘faithful’ could simply be comfortable and fed.

There are so very many people – some live across your street, others across the oceans – that remain ignorant, apathetic or simply have no access to the message of God’s love and salvation in Christ Jesus.[ii]

John Wesley famously said, ‘the world is my parish.’ Today, for most faithful Christians, the parish has become their world.

Despite ostentatious talk about missions, many evangelical churches spend more money, time and effort on their own buildings, staff, programs and services to meet the needs of their members or attendees than they do on reaching the unreached, making disciples or helping to plant new mission-centered churches. Global mission is hardly a concern for the average Christian in most parts of the globe.

This is borne out by damning statistics like the following:

A meager 0.1% of the estimated US$53 trillion that Christians the world over will earn this year will be given towards Christian mission.[iii]

Christians make up 33% of the world’s population, receive 53% of the world’s annual income but spend 98% of it on themselves.[iv]

It is patently clear to us in NAMS that God has called us to play our part in awakening His sleeping Church to obedience to Jesus’ final command to make disciples of all nations.

To do that, we must ourselves be sold out to Jesus. There can be no compromise.

My prayer and passionate hope as Global Executive of NAMS is that every NAMS Companion will be a bona-fide all-out, disciple-making, Spirit-filled, Jesus-pleasing Word-abiding, rabid seeker of the lost, like our Master. And that we would find and raise others to be the same.

It is enough, as Jesus said, for the disciple to become like his master. (Matthew 10:25).

Will you pray, support and join us in this glorious, all-or-nothing endeavor?

 


[1] Dallas Willard, ‘Rethinking Evangelism’, Cutting Edge Magazine, Vol 5, No. 1 (Winter 2001)

[ii] Globally, it is estimated that a staggering 80% of all non-Christians (i.e. majority of which are Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims) in our world do not personally know another Christian. http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/1IBMR2015.pdf – see section on ‘Personal Contact’ for how this figure was derived.

[iii] https://factsandtrends.net/2016/12/12/10-key-trends-in-global-christianity-for-2017/ based on http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/StatusofGlobalChristianity2017.pdf

[iv] David Barret and Todd Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30- AD 2200, (William Carey Library:Pasadena, 2001), 656.

 

 

 

 

NAMS Blog – Sold out for Jesus (by Manik Corea)