Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

There was a lovely picture shared among some of us yesterday which showed our dear NAMS brother from Egypt, Tamer, with a group of young Kenyan children he organized to play soccer, while he was attending a NAMS training event in that country. Wonderful picture, wonderful children, wonderful ministry. Tamer uses soccer (football to most of the world) to share his faith in Jesus Christ, as the only hope of the world. That is his ministry in Egypt, and he exercised it while visiting Kenya. He is a fine brother and Companion. May his work flourish and grow, as one by one young men and women give their lives to Christ Jesus.

But something in the picture gave me chills, and raised a serious question in my heart. It was the presence of over a dozen Adidas jerseys.

My question is this: Why is a global seller of shoes “evangelizing” it’s brand so aggressively in the majority world, and the church of Jesus Christ in the West, and Westernized church world, is so unaware of what is happening? Do “they have eyes to see but see not?” The organized church in the West is barely noticing, let alone working with tenacity and courage to spread the glorious truth of the gospel of Jesus to all nations.

The marketing forces of the world are aggressively and effectively conveying to the children of the world that owning the right “stuff” is what makes life really satisfying. Indeed they have very successfully done the same with most of their elders. And that is not something that has happened just in the majority world, it has been very effectively accomplished in my own country (the USA). But this is not the gospel. It is a deception from the enemy of our souls. The good news is not that we can wear the right clothes, it is that we can be clothed for eternity, if we surrender our lives in to the hands of Jesus.

This is the heart of Tamer’s ministry, but is it ours?

Reading recently in I Peter, I have been struck by the clarity of his understanding that the church is a holy nation, made up of those who are truly “born anew” of the Spirit of God. Because this is so, they are lights in the world of untruth, and always living so as to be ‘a living testimony’ of another way. Indeed, they are also to be on alert – ready at all times – to give an account of the hope that is within them. It is not enough to live as a Christian, but they must be ready to speak up as a Christian.

In much of what was once called “the Christian world” the forces of darkness have made it more and more unacceptable to speak up for the truth as it is in Jesus. But we must not let this deter us! We are the called of God to speak of and bring light into the darkness. The forces of global marketing are very strong, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger – for those who are the elect of God.

Pray with me for boldness to speak up where you live. Pray for the boldness to challenge your local church to be bold for the spread of the gospel to all nations. Pray that those who say they belong to Jesus may be as committed as Tamer is to sharing the glorious truth with those who have never heard.

 

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Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

The Next Companion? ( by Jon Shuler)

One of the central commitments of a NAMS Companion is to pray and labor in the Lord so that other men and women become Companions. We believe that Companions are called to change the world. How are we doing?

My years with NAMS have taught me that finding new Companions takes intentionality. We must look for signs that someone is being called to join us. But “seeing” them is not enough, we must ask them to join us. But first we need to recognize that God leads most of us through stages to a life calling, and we must be sensitive to where people are in their journey. It can take years to find God’s unique call for a lifetime.

These stages always begin when we meet someone who desires to be a disciple-making disciple of Christ Jesus, and we begin to disciple them. Many will go on to fruitful and faithful lives according to other specific ministries and callings, as the Lord directs, but some may be called to NAMS. What else do we look for?

Most of all we look to see if their heart for the Lord includes a growing awareness of the centrality of the Final Command (Mt 28:19)? Do they believe that they are obeying it where they now live, worship, and serve, or has the Holy Spirit lifted their “eyes up to the harvest” beyond them? For these ones, we have a special calling to pursue.

I have learned that the best next step is usually to explain the NAMS Centurion Project www.namscenturion.com and invite them to pray about joining us. This project is building an extended network of NAMS coworkers, who specifically undertake to be part of the wider community of Companions by beginning to live a simple “rule of life” derived from the NAMS Rule for Companions. There are divisions for men, women, and couples, but all start to walk a simple path of giving, praying and serving alongside NAMS Companions right where they live. These NAMS Centurions are becoming the very backbone of our global mission and ministry.

Another path, for younger and generally single disciples, is to join the NAMS Global Apprentice Program (GAP), and agree to serve for a year, or even two, in some part of the global NAMS mission field. This is an intense commitment, of course, but is sometimes the clearest sign God will give that we have found a future NAMS Companion, who will serve with us for life. Is GAP for you?

Perhaps the next most critical step, however, is that which leads someone to help us to found a base community somewhere in the world. A NAMS Base Community (NBC) is an intentional Christian community dedicated to modeling, incubating, training, and sending church planting missionaries into the harvest fields of the Lord Jesus. Led always by a small band of Companions,we pray daily to first have one of these NBCs in the fifteen mission mega regions of the world, and someday, in every nation on earth. We believe our NBCs are helping fulfill God’s plan to bring in the kingdom.

Are you called to be one of us? Will you help us change the world?

The Next Companion? ( by Jon Shuler)

50 Years And Counting (by Jon Shuler)

It was a Sunday. The third week of Lent that year. I was sitting not too far from the pulpit, to the right of Cynthia my wife, in the little Church of the Advent in Cynthiana, Kentucky. It was the 17th of March. Then I heard a “voice” inside my self. It spoke to me with an authority that was absolute. “You are meant to be a priest.”

Had I been a member of any other tradition, I might have heard the appropriate title: pastor, preacher, minister. But what I heard I heard. I knew instantly that my calling was to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a leader in his church.

It seems almost impossible to me to be reflecting on that day fifty years later, but I am. I have just finished a wonderful prayer retreat with seven other men, and God has graciously used the time to encourage and teach me (as he did us all) of his love and grace. And I am as eager to follow where he leads now as I was on that day so many years ago, perhaps more eager. The Lord Jesus has taught me that “in quiet and rest is my strength,” but it is not so I may be permanently still, resting in his grace, but to be renewed for service. To go where he needs me, to be available when he needs me, to do what he asks me.

When my late departed mother heard of my calling so many years ago, she spontaneously uttered a Prayer Book phrase she had prayed since she was a child: “his service is perfect freedom.” A lifetime has taught me that truth. To know God’s will and to begin to walk in it is the most wonderful freedom. It is not always easy, but it is most wonderfully free.

Yet how does this freedom to serve work out in the eighth decade of ones life? How are we to continue to be of use when the world begins to need us less and less, and our bodies begin their inevitable decay?

Long ago I heard an old missionary pastor say: “As long as God has work for me to do, I cannot die.” How I have cherished that saying. If I am alive, there is work for me to do that the Lord requires of me. Not someone else, me. It may be only to live a life of hidden prayer for one person, it may be to write and teach for another, to love and care for an incapacitated spouse, or to simply cooperate with the Lord in the disciple-making journey with a few friends for yet another. But there is always an assignment. A unique and personal one.

Are you seeking to hear the Lord’s voice for the rest of your days? Do you know what he has asked of you, in your uniqueness? Not “then”, but “now”?

Only the Lord Jesus knows our days, but know them he does. We are his workmanship, created for his glory.

How beautiful to hear him still saying: “Follow me.”

— Revd. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

50 Years And Counting (by Jon Shuler)

WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)

There were 40 people in the classroom for the fifth and final session. There had been 40 in the room for the first one. It had never happened in my years as a leader before, the numbers never declined, and I took it as a good sign. But I was wrong.

 I was trying, again, to impart to a group of adult church goers that the number one responsibility of a Christian, who has grown up, is to be a disciple-maker. I had taught only the words of Jesus. Nothing else. No other books than the Holy Scriptures. No videos. No other program than the clear words of Jesus.

Three months later I returned to the parish, and found that 5 of the 40 had actually done “something” with the teaching. One was reading daily only from one of the four gospels – for the first time. A chapter a day. He was trying to learn to “abide in my word,” as Jesus said a true disciple would. Another was meditating on a small portion of the gospel each day. Two others had begun to disciple another person since the class. One had reoriented the emphasis of his weekly bible study group to being more focused on discipling than study. Five out of forty beginning to make a change. Five out of forty. Only 12 &1/2 %.

For those five my heart was glad.

The amazing thing was, all 40 said: “It was a great class.” Many of them said: “I really learned something.”

But what I found was 35 Christians who are – apparently – used to learning things, but doing nothing with the learning. Changing nothing. Hearing Jesus words, but NOT taking them as from the Lord to be obeyed. And I ask myself: “Why not?”

Since 1988 I have been trying to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, and a disciple-making leader. I have grown much through these 30 years. I am grateful to God for all that he has shown me. But I find very few other ordained leaders who are engaged in the same quest. And I ask myself: Why not?”

I wonder if you who are reading this have ever asked this question? How is it that the church of Jesus Christ could be filled with people and leaders who have steadfastly ignored the Final Command, yet continue to think of themselves as good Christian people?

Today some you who are reading could make a decision to change how you use your time in obedience to the Lord, and do so. You could resolve to find someone to help you become a disciple-making disciple. But if you read this and do not, I ask you: “Why not?”

— Revd. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)

God’s Results in 2018?

I am persuaded that all those who are used by God to accomplish His will pay attention to the outcome of their effort. They are focused on results. What did God ask me to do?What has come to pass because of my efforts? What is different because of last year’s ministry? Is anything improved because of my contribution? Did the outcome I worked for get achieved or not? Is the community I serve built up by my contribution? Are there any results evident because of my stewardship? Am I focused on the right things?

For those, like me, raised up in the old faithful church, a measure of our faithfulness to Jesus Christ is to be found in the results of our effort to spread the kingdom of God. Indeed the catechism of my youth taught me that I was to “work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” To not do so was to fail in my Christian duty. But what if I worked, prayed, and gave last year, but there was no tangible evidence that the kingdom was spread? What if there were no real results?

You might say to me: “How can we know?” I would have to admit that many of the advances of the kingdom are hidden from our eyes. Only God sees them all. But God uses human beings to accomplish His will. In general, there is no human effort we ever engage in that cannot be measured. If we decide to lose weight this year, we will weigh ourselves regularly, and at the end of the year we will know if our resolve produced results. Results will mean we lost weight. If we set out to learn a new language, the year end will reveal our progress. We have learned to speak it, at least a little. What then are we to look for when we are thinking about the results that advance the kingdom? What are the results God is looking for?

For many years I was complicit in a great deal of organized church activity that did not even ask this question, but no longer. The Lord of the Church interrupted the path of my ministry career, in 1988, by challenging me to the primacy of making disciples. He showed me that there was one absolutely clear evidence of kingdom advance: you will see men and women you have poured your life into, those you have helped become faithful followers of Jesus, pouring their lives into others. You will see them reproducing new faithful followers of Jesus. This is the result that you are praying to see. These are the results that alone give you joy. This is what you are working for. This is the will of God for you.

In the Final Command of the Risen Lord the outcome is declared to be “disciples of all nations.” This is measurable. No vast amount of money in a church budget, no striking new buildings, no attractive new program, no fine preaching, no wonderful youth program, no great worship, no big conference, no wonderful music team, nothing can substitute for what God wants. The only result that matters is another disciple. Are you getting this result from your efforts? Is this not the result God wants?

As we begin this New Year, can we all pray to make this our desire. To want the results that God wants?

— Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

God’s Results in 2018?

Come and Join Us In 2018? (By Revd Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General)

Why wouldn’t you want to join the community of NAMS in 2018? Seriously?

I find myself asking this question after experiencing the most wonderful retreat earlier
this month with eight of our global society who live in North America. We met in the
beauty of holiness at the Christian Retreat Center known as The Close, nestled in the
midst of the Daniel Boone National Forest in the state of Kentucky. Of all that we did,
just being together again as friends and fellow Companions of Jesus was central. We
laughed and sang, we worshipped and wept for joy, we ate and drank, we prayed
together and in silence, we brainstormed and planned for the New Year, but most of all we listened for the “still small voice” of the Lord together. And then we all headed
back to the “place of our assignment” to serve the Lord and his church.

The relational connection that comes to us in this community of gospel servants is a gift from God. So too is the encouragement and support we find as men and women who are obeying the command of the Lord Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.” Also a gift from God is the accountability that it places in our lives, to the Lord and his Word, and to the covenanted life we have promised to pursue together.

I for one would not know how to carry on without this band of brothers and sisters in
Christ that he has given me in the global family of NAMS. We are serving on every
continent. We are a hidden “clan” within the wider church of Jesus, bound together to
“work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God” in the particular calling of new church planting. It is a wonderful gift to belong to such a religious order.

Would it possibly be true that you who are reading this may be called to join us in some concrete way in 2018? Would you pray about this and seek the Lord for his will in the matter?

How can you join us? There are many ways, but here are five, in ascending order of
commitment:

1) Join us as regular contributing NAMS Partner. Even a starting gift of $25 per
month will help the gospel go to the nations. Go to ‘www.namsnetwork.com/be-involved.html’ to begin doing so.

2) Become a dedicated praying NAMS Intercessor. Set you phone to remind you
to pray for us at 10:02 am each day. Ask the Lord of the Harvest to raise up laborers to go into the harvest, as Jesus commanded in Luke 10:2.
Contact Mary Garrison at ‘mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com’, our NAMS Global Prayer/Intercessor Co-ordinator, to become a prayer partner with us

3) Become a NAMS Centurion. Be one of the men and women who are taking up
the call to help spread the gospel right where you live, in covenanted partnership with
NAMS. Sign up to be a NAMS Centurion. Go to ‘www.NAMScenturion.com’.

4) Volunteer to be a NAMS Global Apprentice. Give a year or two to the Lord to
serve in the mission field of his choosing for you. In North America, Nepal, or Norway. Wherever he needs you. Go to ‘www.namsgap.com’ for more information.

5) Decide to become a NAMS Companion. Begin the journey of discovery that
leads to a life under rule in our global missionary society. Write to us today at
info@namsnetwork.com.

Will you join us this coming year?

— Jon Shuler

Servant General (NAMS)

Come and Join Us In 2018? (By Revd Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General)

Seeding The Faith

Will you who are reading this make a regular contribution to the spread of the kingdom of God, right now, through NAMS? Right now, will you help us as we seek to seed the faith among the nations of the world?

NAMS needs to raise $75,000 by year end, in order to remain in the black and continue the good work it is doing among the nations. Our Companions are serving the gospel with passion and zeal for the Lord and his church on every continent, but we need more praying and giving supporters.

Can you make a generous one time gift? Could you become a regular giver?

DONATE NOW!

 

I have been trying to raise support for global mission for nearly forty years. I do not know why it is so hard for Christians in North America to understand this need, but at the heart of it is a failure to understand the depth of the love of God for the lost, or so it seems to me.

This morning in my time with the Lord I read II Corinthians 9. I was struck again by the Apostle’s absolute conviction that giving must be without compulsion, and must come from the free willingness of the giver. I also noticed for the first time two things: 1) not all were “stirred up” to give, only “most” (v. 2); and 2) Paul was clear that those who gave to the needs of the saints were giving a gift that was going to “overflow” to “others” (v.13).

Raising funds for concrete needs after disasters is never difficult. Good people are moved by the suffering of others, and they are often quite generous. They help rebuild a burned house, they send blankets and food, they help to house the homeless after an earthquake. All these are wonderful signs of compassion and care.

But what about the overflow?

When unbelievers are helped, God is pleased. But when those who were lost are found, God is glorified. Gifts that glorify God produce an overflow to others. The spread of the kingdom of God is not an afterthought for true believers. It is at the heart of their desire.

When financial gifts are channeled to those who are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is an overflow of grace that lasts for eternity.

If those reading this blog would help NAMS with a small financial gift every month, the overflow will be to the nations. The prisoners in Thailand, the orphans in Nepal, the poor in Myanmar, the despised in the slums of Egypt, the persecuted in India, the poor in the Congo, the illiterate in Peru, the widows in Chile, the prisoners in Cuba, to mention only a few.

Will you click on the donate button now? Will you give $100/month for the mission of Jesus to all people? $50/month? $25/month? Some other amount? If you do, I am sure it will “glorify God” because it will be “flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ” (II Cor 9:13).

To those of you who respond, my heartfelt thanks goes to you and up to God.

DONATE NOW!

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

 

Seeding The Faith