2017 Thank Offering for the World Evangelism Fund

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We must fix our sights on places where the church is not yet, engaging in intercessory prayer, sacrificial giving, and physically going to and mobilizing others to go to these places. Each time you give to the World Evangelism Fund, you send the message of the gospel into areas where “the church is not yet.”

For more information and to download the resources visit the official website: nazarene.org/generosity

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In Unexpected Ways

By Scott Armstrong

 
“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy” (2 Kings 5:1 NIV).

(Read 2 Kings 5:1-19)

The commander of the army is at the end of his rope. Leprosy has eaten away at Naaman’s body and soul.  He desperately needs healing, so he goes to the prophet Elisha. The only problem is that Elisha does things a little differently. (Don’t believe me? Check out 2 Kings 4:32-35.)  Naaman expected Elisha to say, “Abra-cadabra” and cure his leprosy with a wave of his hand. But instead Elisha tells him to dip in the Jordan River seven times. The Jordan was a dirty river located in Israel.  Why couldn’t Naaman dunk himself in a cleaner river closer to home?

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Jennifer was a girl in one of the youth groups that we had several years ago.  She was an outstanding singer who had used her talent in the church’s praise team and in many school musicals.  One day, she found out she had nodes on her vocal chords.  The treatment required complete voice rest for 2-3 months.  Needless to say, Jennifer was frustrated.  One of the joys of her life was taken away from her!  Still, she decided that she would use this time to focus on what the Lord wanted to teach her through this experience.  She ended up using her normal rehearsal time at church to start a new prayer ministry for the youth group.  She had wanted to draw closer to God, but He certainly answered that prayer differently than she had expected!

God doesn’t always work the way we’re used to. He knows what’s best for us, even though it makes little sense to us at the time. Naaman eventually decided to try dipping in the Jordan, and his “incurable” disease was cured! What does God want to do in your life? Will you let him work in unexpected ways?

Run to Him

By Scott Armstrong

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me” (Psalm 31:1-2 NIVUK).

(Read Psalm 31:1-5, 19-24)

A while back Chevrolet trucks had a catchy slogan.  They would show some huge 4×4 pickup sliding through mud or towing a trailer three times its size.  Then the song would come on and some guy with a gruff voice would say, “Chevy: Like a Rock.”

Why’d they choose that slogan? Obviously, a rock invokes an image of strength and toughness. So do the words “refuge” and “fortress,” which (along with “rock”) are used several times in the verses we just read. We know that every psalm is a prayer, and this one is no different. David apparently is trying to paint a picture of his God as something more than a flower blown by the wind.

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We don’t know exactly what David was going through when he prayed this prayer.  But his words are powerful: “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge…Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me” (vv. 1-2).  When David can’t depend on anyone else, he can depend on his God, who is steady, unwavering.  Who can he run to when it seems like the world is running after him? His Lord, of course.

We’ve been in situations like that before, right? Situations where we needed the one constant, the tower, the fortress that we can run to and be safe.  I am writing this right now miles away from you. Just as I don’t know what David was going through, I have no idea what you are going through today.  But hear this: God is your refuge.  HE will not let you down.  HE is a safe place.

Read these verses again slowly.  Pray them this time; pray the same prayer that David prayed 3 millennia ago.  And, most importantly, believe the words you’re saying.  They have always proven true.

Be Still and Know

By Scott Armstrong

“Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shield  with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’” (Psalm 46:8-10).

(Read Psalm 46)

Like many of the other psalms, Psalm 46 was written as a song and around 3,000 years ago was sung by an enormous choir.  It is pretty hard to determine how this original song sounded, but many of today’s musicians have written their own interpretations of the incredible lyrics recorded here.  A lot of them have focused on the images of nature and war in these verses.  While singing these lyrics as the guitars and drums play on at a feverish pitch, I can almost feel the earth giving way and mountains quaking and falling into the sea (vv.2-3).

But in the midst of the chaos of this psalm, one verse seems to be misplaced.  “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (v.10).  How did that get in there? How can we be still when there are wars around us and the earth is giving way under our feet?

SILUETA DE PERSONA ORANDO.jpgYou may remember an older chorus that comes from this verse, “Be Still and Know That I am God.”  I have sung that song hundreds of times, but I will always remember singing it in one particular worship service.  I remember the song because of who was singing it and when she was singing it.  Stephanie, a girl in our youth group, had just found out a month earlier her parents were getting a divorce.  She had also experienced some serious health problems in the past year, not to mention the homework and tests she had to make up at school after missing several classes because of her time at the hospital.

I looked over while many of us in the congregation sang the chorus out of ritual.  There she was in the second row, standing with her arms raised.  And in spite of all she was going through—or maybe because of all that—she was singing with tears streaming down her face, “Be still and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10 has never quite been the same for me since.  What mountains are quaking in your life today? What kingdoms have been falling around you? I hope that in the midst of the chaos and turmoil around you, you can proclaim like Stephanie and like millions of Christians down through the ages, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Mission Briefing: Be a Sender

By Howard Culbertson

Not infrequently, people think the only way they can participate in to-the-ends-of-the-earth evangelism is by flying to another country. They are wrong. “Going” is just one avenue of world mission involvement. Indeed, those who leave home to become career missionaries need a cadre of consecrated and zealous supporters back home.

A few years ago, Steven Hawthorne wrote a chapter in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement about those who support the “Go-ers” (as he called missionaries)Hawthorne, who grew up in a Nazarene parsonage, titled his chapter simply, “Senders.” He noted that the Apostle Paul may have been thinking of human Senders as well as God when he rhetorically asked: “How can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15).

The Apostle John was certainly clear in his encouragement to people to become Senders for missionaries.The Amplified Bible renders verse 7 and part of verse 8 in III John as: “For these [traveling missionaries] went out for the sake of the Name [of Christ]. So we ought to support such people.”

How do Senders support and take care of missionaries? Well, the III John passage seems to refer to material support. The same is true of Paul’s words to the Romans about a planned trip to Spain (Romans 15:22-24). To be sure, money – lots of it – is needed in world evangelism. However, Senders can and must do more than give money. As one example, in almost every one of Paul’s letters, he requested prayer for his ministry from his Senders.

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R.A. Torrey, the founding head of Moody Bible Institute, believed that. Torrey once wrote: “The man or woman at home who prays often has as much to do with the effectiveness of the missionary on the field, and consequently with the results of his or her labors, as the missionary.”        

In addition to money and prayer, Senders contribute to Great Commission fulfillment in ways ranging from keeping missions bulletin boards updated to locating and shipping needed equipment and supplies. Indeed, a variety of gifts and talents can be used to facilitate the work of missionaries serving far away.

Here are half a dozen areas in which Senders can support missionaries:

— Emotional support (giving encouragement via emails, cards, Skype conversations, showing up at deputation services and more).

— Mobilization (raising global missions awareness in one’s own local church or district).

— Financial support (giving and encouraging others to give).

— Intercessory prayer for world evangelism (praying and calling others to prayer).

— Logistics help (providing house and transportation for missionaries on home assignment, making arrangements for shipping things, ironing out details for events and more).

— Re-entry assistance (being a “safe” listener, helping returned missionaries find their way around, and more).

Senders have been known to be so passionate about supporting missionaries that they adjust their lifestyles to pray more, serve more and give more.

Be a Sender. Impact the “ends of the Earth” from your own doorstep.

This article was originally posted at: Engage Magazine

 

A Thousand Questions

The following video was published several years ago but still communicates powerfully to our reality. Have you ever had a time when you felt like God was not present? Have you ever questioned if there is hope for our hurting and desperate human race? May your passion be like that of Sharon Irving who performs this spoken word masterpiece.  And may your answer also be “Here am I.”

 

10 Things I’ve Learned From Difficult People

By Steve Dunmire

When I first went into ministry, I was warned that, as a pastor, I would have to deal with difficult people. But I was not prepared for how venomous they could be at times.

I have been on the receiving end of vindictive anonymous letters, berating phone calls and accusing rants. I’ve watched too many difficult people literally storm out of the churches I have served (not to mention their passive aggressive behavior, sarcastic remarks, cutting jokes and backhanded compliments).

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But I’ve also learned a lot from difficult people. Here are a few of the lessons they have taught me:

1. Difficult People Have the Nerve to Say What Everyone Else is Thinking.

Sometimes (not always) difficult people are the people who say to your face what others will only mutter under their breath. They are sometimes the only ones who have the nerve to say what everyone else is thinking. Difficult people can be the pastoral equivalent of when a physician orders blood work for a patient: an efficient way to find out what is going on in the church’s bloodstream.

2. Difficult People Help Me Develop Thick Skin.

Dealing with difficult people is one of the most effective ways to develop the thick skin a pastor needs in order to be fit for ministry. There may be no other substitute. Dealing with difficult people is to our souls what weight training is to our bodies, so I have learned to love difficult people because they make me stronger.

3. Difficult People Reveal My Insecurities.

Difficult people force us to face up to our insecurities and our need to be liked. They force us to choose the need to be firm on some issues over our need for acceptance. Their criticism strikes at the lie that the Enemy has planted in our hearts: “This is who you really are, and all the nice things people say is just them being polite.”

Difficult people and critics in our lives can be like carnival mirrors who criticize an exaggerated and distorted version of ourselves. We recognize immediately that the distorted image is not who we are—and this can provide for us the opportunity to look at our lives and see ourselves as we really are.

4. Difficult People Make Me Clarify What I’m Doing.

Just as one out of tune string on a guitar can force us to retune all six strings, one difficult person in a church can prompt us to clarify everything we do. They force us to make things clearer and more precise because of their complaints and sometimes in anticipation of their complaints. In this way, difficult people make our ministry better because they force us to be clear and precise about what we want to do, and how we are going to do it.

5. Difficult People Show Me I Am Doing Something Right.

There is a common strand running through every major turning point of ministry, every breakthrough, every visible success, every time I could point to measurable results, or even every time I received some level of recognition. The common element in each of those things is the pestering presence of difficult people who opposed me every step along the way. I love people difficult people because they are one of the most reliable indicators I have been able to find to tell me that I am doing something right.

6. Difficult People Create Supporters.

A pastor needs meaningful friendships in order to endure. And in my case, some of my most meaningful partnerships and friendships in the ministry have been forged in response to the difficult people in a church. At times I have seen people become much more vocal supporters of me as a pastor because they have seen a critic’s harsh attack. I am grateful to have several significant friendships that were forged in direct response to difficult people.

7. Difficult People Make Me a Better Boss and a Better Subordinate.

Difficult people have helped me to see how important it is to recognize good work, applaud hard work and express appreciation. They also help me to see that not every opinion needs to be expressed. On the whole, I would like to believe that I am less critical of those who serve above me because of my experiences with difficult people.

8. Difficult People Drive Me To Prayer.

I wish this was not true, but it is. And if difficult people drive me to my knees in prayer, then I know they are a great gift. A.W. Tozer writes, “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other. But let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.” Difficult people drive me nuts, so they drive me to my knees in prayer, and that is one of the reasons I have learned to love them.

9. Difficult People Are Not an Obstacle to Conquer.

I once heard someone give a sermon about Eliab, David’s older brother, who burned with anger against David when he was asking the men about Goliath (1 Samuel 17:28). The pastor pointed out how David had to choose in that moment to press on to defeat Goliath, or stop to fight his critics.

Critics are neither an indicator of success nor failure, so I have chosen in advance to battle giants, not critics. I have learned to love difficult people because loving them is an option. I do not want to be remembered as the man who triumphed over his critics; I want to be remembered as the man who triumphed over giants.

10. I Am Someone’s Difficult Person.

I know I have been a difficult person in someone’s life. Sometimes I appear difficult to another person because of a disagreement, sometimes it is just because of a personality conflict, and sometimes it comes with being a person in leadership. But I have learned to love difficult people because loving them is a way I can do unto others what I would have them to do me.

Learning from difficult people and learning to love them is still a work in progress, but I hope that someday I’ll be able to truly love difficult people as God loves difficult me.

This article was originally posted at SteveDunmire.com.  Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/10-things-i%E2%80%99ve-learned-difficult-people#tUIcsOltP9IqbjMq.99