Meaning What You Say. (by Jon Shuler)

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that we are to let our “Yes be yes” and our “No be no.” A disciple walks in the light of His teaching. How are we doing in this area as followers of Jesus? With regularity over the past few years I have discovered that many in the church are guilty of extreme neglect of this clear word of God. Are we too?

How is this so? Let me cite a few examples.

The first that comes to my mind focuses on the promises that were made at my baptism. I was then charged to never “be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil.”

What then if I meet every week with other Christians, but do not follow Christ in my daily walk? What if I am swept up in behavior Monday to Saturday that is no different from the non believers around me? What if I am either ignorant of, or glibly disobedient to, the clear teaching of Jesus? I said “Yes” to being His follower, but am I following?

In the Anglican world, globally, it is normal to have a service of Confirmation for anyone who is prepared to make their own public Profession of Faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and who was baptized as a child owing to the faith of their parents. In that service, the promises of baptism are renewed and confirmed. Thus we promised: “I will follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”. We accepted the promises made on our behalf. Now we commit to obey Jesus and prove to be a true disciple.

What then if most of my time, treasure, and talents are devoted to following something (or someone) else? What if I am caught up in the cares and concerns of this world, and they regularly get my very best, and I prove to be “ineffective and unfruitful” as a disciple of Jesus? (See II Peter 1:8) I said “Yes” to being His follower, and he clearly commands me to be effective and fruitful, but I am not.

In the local congregation there is always a body, or board, that shares in the governance of the local church. Often their deliberations are far removed from the things of God. Due consideration for temporal matters must of course be given, it is good administration, and that is a gift God from God. It is also part of good stewardship. But the people on such a board have a responsibility to God for their faithfulness to Jesus Christ and His teaching as primary. They are to be faithful to the trust given them.

What then if the discussions at their meetings revolve about old wounds, grievances, disappointments, and unmet expectations. With no clear reference, much of the time, to obeying the clear teaching of Jesus? What if personal agendas, attitudes, and fears dominate the meetings. What if they constrain the godly leadership of the church? They are in office to follow Christ Jesus and help the local body do the same. They said “Yes” to following Him, but often He is not the center of their meetings or lives.

Are we meaning what we say? All the time?

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Meaning What You Say. (by Jon Shuler)

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Last week, we began to look at a few passages from the Old Testament narratives of the journey of the people of Israel under Moses to the Promised Land on how Joshua was being prepared as leader after Moses. Today, we look at the last quality that Joshua needed and indeed, came to display – great faith.

Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. With faith, all things are possible. Without faith, it is impossible to please God or even to do the works He calls us to do by His name and power. Faith is the exercise of trust and obedience to enact divine transactions on earth for the purposes and glory of God.

We see that Joshua had developed a great faith in God from the third passage we looked at in that devotional time we once shared at a NAMS meeting (see last week’s blog).

  1. Numbers 14:6-9 – Faith in God

We read in Numbers 13 of the account of the spies sent out into the promise land. When they returned, the majority of the spies spread a bad report and discouraged the people, saying there were giants in the land and there was no way to they could take over (verses 26-29 and 32-33). Only Caleb and Joshua spoke in faith that God was going to give them the land (verses 30-31 and Numbers 14:6-9). Their faith was not in what they saw and faced but in Whom they had heard and trusted.

How did Joshua come to have such a great faith? Clearly, by walking closely to Moses as his aide, he would have learned and seen time and time again how faithful God was in the midst of all the challenges, opposition and trying times Moses faced as leader of such a rebellious people. He would have witnessed the same miracles that the people saw for themselves, as God constantly provided and protected them. But whilst Joshua kept and exercised his faith in God, the people of Israel choose instead to place their faith in their circumstances and the plans of men.

Joshua’s faith was therefore developing and growing by experience in the school of wilderness testings. Faith, like muscles, can only be grown and strengthened through its exercise.

As a result, Joshua and Caleb became the only two people out of a million or so of the first generation of Israelites who were allowed into the promise land. Faith in God gains us entrance into the land of His promise.

If we are to raise the next generation of leaders who will go further than us to take possessions of lands that we, like Moses, may only glimpse from a distance, then we must do all we can to encourage and help them grow in faith.

Encouragement and exhortations are in order. We see this in God’s instructions to Moses at the edge of the Promised Land, where Moses is instructed in Deuteronomy 3:28 to ‘charge and encourage and strengthen’ Joshua as the new leader. Moses is told by God to make an effort to do all he can to prepare his successor. Eventually, in Numbers 27:16-23, God instructs Moses, in the sight of all Israel, to lay hands on Joshua and to commission him. Joshua is described in verse 18 as ‘a man in whom is the Spirit’.

Finally, in Joshua 1:1-9, God Himself gives Joshua great encouragement and promise as he steps up to being the leader. God reminded him that if he kept on trusting God and remembering His Word, then he would surely be successful in all he was called to do.

Joshua’s relationship to God was enhanced and developed through his relationship with Moses his leader. Because of Moses, Joshua knew what it was to fight and overcome the enemy; he knew what it was to pursue intimacy and closeness with God and he knew to trust what God said over and above what he saw.

Those of us in leadership of God’s mission and Church anywhere in the world need to ask some important questions in the light of all these: Who are you preparing to take over the work God has given you for now? Who is your Joshua? And how well are you preparing him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Who’s Coming after You? — part 1 (By Manik Corea)

“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” So goes an old folk saying.

If leadership as defined by Jesus as the art of modelling obedience to Him and serving, sharing with and influencing others so that they are led to do the same[1], then biblical leadership implicitly affirms the need to raise up other leaders for the work and ministries of the Kingdom of God.

NAMS is in a season of transition as leadership moves from our founder and Servant General Jon Shuler to a succession team of leaders with various roles and levels of responsibility.

I remember one morning a few years ago when we first began the process of praying and talking about this. Jon, another NAMS leader and I were contemplating a few passages in the Pentateuch that described or inferred how Moses, the leader of the people of Israel in their wilderness journeys, was already preparing Joshua, his young aide, to succeed him way in advance. We looked in particular at three passages that illustrated succession preparation in action. I would like to share them in this and next week’s blog.

  1. Exodus 17:8-15 – Trust God to defeat your enemies

This passage records the first recorded battle that Israel ever fought as a nation. Moses was on the mountain with Aaron and Hur, and it was Joshua who was fighting on the ground – and God gave them a wonderful victory. Clearly, this experience was a foretaste of military leadership that Joshua would later use to good effect when leading Israel into the Promised Land.

In verse 14 following the victory, the Lord instructs Moses to write a memorial in the book about His verdict that He will completely remove the Amalek people, their enemy, from under heaven. Interestingly, he also tells Moses to ‘recite it in the ears of Joshua.’ It was important that Joshua remembered and learns that God guarantees victory for them over their enemies. God himself was in on the preparation of Joshua as the next leader.

The same lesson on God’s promise to defeat their enemies is echoed and confirmed after the later defeats of King Sihon and King Og in Deuteronomy 2 and 3, when the Lord instructs Moses to remind Joshua that, as the Lord did to those two kings, so will he do to all the kingdoms in the land they are going in to possess. Joshua is commanded, ‘You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord you God who fights for you.’ (Deuteronomy 3:22).

  1. Exodus 33:11 – Prioritize Intimacy with God

‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”

Joshua learned early on to keep the main thing the main thing. By being often with Moses as his assistant, he no doubt learned to make time with God a priority. He was with Moses when they went up the mountain to for 40 days to receive the commandments of God (Exodus 24:1-18). We see in this passage (Exodus 33:11) how Joshua had developed a familiarity and kept a close proximity to the one place in the camp of Israel where the visible presence of God was to be found – the Tabernacle. It would stand him in good stead for the future when he could confidently declare, ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ (Joshua 24:15).

It is so important for those we are raising up to see and learn from us how to make time with God a priority – an everyday norm. I have been privileged to see in Jon and other influential leaders in my life this same passionate desire for intimacy and practice of the holy habits of prayer, the reading and obedient response to Scripture and a lifestyle of worship.

They taught me well by the example and their exhortation.

Are you doing the same with someone who is walking beside or behind you?

 


[1] Todd Egstrom, well known pastor helpfully describes biblical leadership as ‘meeting someone where they are, and taking them where Jesus wants them to go’. http://toddengstrom.com/2013/11/11/what-is-biblical-leadership/

Who’s Coming after You? — part 1 (By Manik Corea)

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

+Josep and Patrice“Will you come?” This was the phrase that started an unexpected journey. A friend had asked me if I would consider moving from Brazil to England. He saw an urgent need for England to be reached with the Gospel. My immediate answer was, “I will, if it is God’s call.”

A few months later, Patrice and I had the assurance of the Holy Spirit that it was indeed the right decision and that it was time to start preparing to move to England. But why should I leave the amazing work that God lead me to start in Brazil and, then, Venezuela –one that I had invested so much tears, prayers and time into?

Indeed, praise be to God that after nine years of hard-work, from the few people we started out with, we now have 25 missional communities in these 2 countries, and almost 900 people participating. This had all followed from focused seasons of one-on-one discipleship and the raising up and equipping of young leaders to serve the Lord, as was my heart’s desire.

I believe the answer to “why leave now?” is because God had been preparing me all these years to do this next thing.

Now, I am not thinking or saying for a moment that I have all together or, even that I have all the answers. In fact, the opposite is true. It seems that God used our brokenness to teach us His ways, and His Spirit leads us to teach and train others in God’s way from that same place.

As a NAMS Companion, I share a willingness and desire to teach and preach Jesus Christ to all, at any given time, wherever we are. That Christ was crucified, and that He is the risen Lord, is to be proclaimed by His people to all peoples

As I look England and Europe, I see and hear a Macedonian call like Paul did. A voice calling for help, “will you come?” There is no good reason for me to say ‘no.’

We go wherever the Lord opens a door. I will step out and trust the Lord. It will be one small step of faith after another – plant a seed that God will raise to be a new missional community of faith; then, another and another, spreading with the wind that carries the good news of Jesus Christ from England to all over Europe.

I know I am totally incapable of doing what God has called me to do on my own. But God calls us to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is a step of faith that starts His disciples on the journey to make other disciples and share life together. Making disciples is about giving ourselves to others, as we teach the Scripture and learn to follow the Way of the Lord. It is not simply about being members of a church, but it is about following Christ together, as a family.

As I prepare to move my family across the ocean, I sense an urgency to call upon His name and to give myself totally to the Lord. I will be satisfied when I make a disciple who makes another disciple, and raise a leader that makes another leader, and plant a church that plants another church. And never to break God’s word as I do it.

After all, isn’t that what it means to be a NAMS Companion?

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

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.

 

Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea

Strange as it may sound, I was first discipled as a teenager in a Sunday School class! The young man, Daniel who taught us was preparing with his wife, to be missionaries of our local church to Papua New Guinea. The 2 years he spent teaching our weekly small class had a profound effect on my life.

Daniel the missionary shared and opened up his life to us – testimonies, answered prayers, struggles, lessons learned, etc., such that we saw a model of what a true obedient disciple of Jesus looked like at close hand. But he also actively encouraged, challenged and pushed us out to be and become the same – disciples who would trust and obey Jesus with our lives. In many ways, I realize now that Daniel was doing what His Lord did with the first disciples.

Disciple-making is preparation for the future but it engages and involves us in where we are in the present. Last week, we saw that Jesus 1) invited/selected a few to disciple and 2) modeled a way of life and ministry for them to imitate and follow. Here are 3 more things he did to ready them for their life’s work.

Train — Jesus did not only appoint and give a select group to have a first-hand look at his life and ministry; but He actively prepared and trained them to do the same work. (Mark 3:14-15; Luke 9:1-2 and Matthew 10:1 compare with Matthew 4:23 and John 14:12.)

In fact, most of Jesus’ time spent in the Gospels was not simply on doing ministry, but time actually spent developing his disciples to take on the work once He ascended into heaven. It was a practical development and training, with assignments. This was all part of their original calling – ‘so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.’ (Mark 3:14).

He involved them in ministry (Luke 9:12-17; 22:8-13) and allowed them to grow in faith by experience (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 14:28-29). He sent them out on short-term training assignments (see Matthew 10:5-15, Mark 6:7-11). He invested time and energy to instruct and explain to them his teaching and ways (Mark 4:34).

Making disciples is not simply teaching theory or about completing a short course of instruction or class. It is apprenticing alongside, life-on-life, with another disciple so that we/they start to do what God wants us in our lives.

Authorize — When Jesus sent the twelve out on mission in Matthew 10:5-15 and Mark 6:7-11, as well as with the larger group of disciples – the 72 of Luke 10:1-11, they were expected to announce the coming of the kingdom, heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. He gave specific instructions and authority to do the same thing He did. And this is exactly what happened, which they were joyfully were able to report on their return (Luke 9:6; 10:17 and Mark 6:13.)

Finally, in Matthew 28:18-20, in his final command to the disciples, the risen Jesus authorizes them, on the basis of being Lord of Heaven and Earth to ‘make disciples’ of all peoples.

The making of disciples is the high calling and work that Jesus has authorized us to do in His name and by His power. This is not the job of a few ‘professional’ Christian pastors and missionary, but the work of every disciple. So, we must teach and show disciples that they are likewise authorized by Heaven’s King for service and mission in the world.

Release/Send — Finally, Jesus commissioned them in what we in NAMS call the ‘final command’ of Matthew 28:18-20 to reach all peoples of every ethnic group. Before he left them, Jesus promised that they will receive the Holy Spirit to empower them for this witness, and that through Him, Jesus himself will be with us till the ends of the earth and the end of time.

There will come a moment, as with Jesus and Paul (see Acts 14:23; 20:17-38) when we must release disciples that we have made to become disciple-makers in their own right with others. This is a principle Paul establishes for Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.

As we have been discipled, so we must now pass on to others what we received, by making other disciples. We are taken captive by Christ in other to be released to mission in the world. We commend them in prayer to God and move on ourselves to make more disciples.

This is how Jesus begun a world-movement from simply focusing on a few. The ball is now firmly in our court!

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea

No one made disciples like Jesus!

Incredibly, Jesus, who never traveled more than 200 miles from where He was born, launched a global movement from scratch that has no equal in history. And He did it without writing a book, founding a school or university or conquering with an army.

How? He chose twelve men and concentrated most of His time and focus on them.[1] Rather than leveraging the crowds that flocked to Him or taking political advantage of His popularity and the ferment of national aspirations, He refused to bring God’s rule in by force or pander to anything but a heavenly perspective (see Matthew 16:23).

Jesus was instead looking to make disciples and subjects of His one-of-a-kind Kingdom, not raise up a rebel army to fight those of the earth. He was the Suffering Servant come to save us from our sins, not an all-conquering ruler coming to re-assert God’s rightful reign on the earth – that is reserved for His return.

Consider the men He picked – they were not from the high echelons of their society – the ‘Who’s Who?’ of their day. He chose in effect, nobodies – the ‘who?’ of common stock.

Among the twelve were wet, clueless fishermen, a few political zealots and the odd tax collector. They ‘smelled of fish and revolution’ as one writer put it.

Yes, Jesus chose them and gave them front-row seats and back-stage passes for the 3 or so years of His ministry.

In doing so, he gave us principles and a pattern for continuing the same task he now calls us to – of making of disciples after Him.

As I considered the Gospel accounts of Jesus and his method of preparing and raising disciples, 5 things that Jesus did consistently stand out. If we are to make disciples with the same goals, means and mettle as Jesus, then let us consider and imitate how he did it, so that we can do the same.

1) Invitation – at the heart of God’s Gospel to us is an invitation and a call to ‘come to Him’ for salvation: forgiveness, hope and healing. But discipleship is also a call to follow. When Jesus begun His earthy ministry, after a night of prayer, He chose the twelve from among an already a larger group of disciples. In fact, He appointed them to be with Him (see Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1 and Luke 6:12-16).

Likewise, we need to be actively and prayerfully seeking people that we can reach out to and disciple (as well as those who may disciple us). To be a disciple who makes other disciples, you have to be actively looking for someone else to walk with. Invite them to meet and journey with you – once a week at the least, but regularly and as consistently as possible- to pray, read the Word and help each other be and make disciples of others.

I have found in my own life that if I’m not active in finding and meeting with others to disciple, I begin, by default and sinful bent, to stall in my walk with the Lord and to begin to pander to my own needs and desires.

Model – Jesus spent countless days and nights with this group of 12 throughout their apprenticeship. They got to see, hear and experience close up what many of us can only dream of or imagine. Jesus taught by repetition, remark and revelation, through the situations they encountered and amidst challenges that arose. He told unforgettable stories; he demanded their obedience and trust, and he left an indelible pattern on their minds and hearts.

But most of all, he showed them how He wanted them to live, by his life and example. And most people need to be shown, not just to be told. That’s why true discipleship is always a ‘show and tell’ endeavor in the Scriptures.

We are all likewise called to live like Jesus, to model a way of life to those we lead and are discipling. ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ’ was how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 11:1.

As I have learnt, you can teach all you know, but you will reproduce who you are, whether in your child/ren or in those you disciple. More is caught than taught. So, like Jesus, we make disciples best by modelling and living out what we teach and proclaim.

As John Maxwell said, a true leader knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.

Next week, we will explore the next 3 disciple-making principles Jesus consistently followed.

 


[1] While the Gospels are mostly selective accounts excepted out of the life and ministry of Jesus during his adult life, more than 60% of the Gospel of Mark is the record of Jesus being alone with his disciples.

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea