New Beginnings with Jesus

The New Beginnings

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On that last day, that great day of the feast of tabernacles, Jesus stood in the temple teaching. It was the autumnal feast, the feast of thanksgiving, and the high priest stood before the altar of sacrifice and poured out of a golden vessel water and wine, emblems of the blood and water soon to be poured forth from Jesus’ side.

This was the last great feast in which Jesus took part and the last that was rightfully celebrated. At the next Passover feast, shadow turned to substance, type to reality, for the long expected Lamb of God was then to be sacrificed. This was the last year of feasts; the next year was to be a real fulfilment of the feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and ingathering.

With this new year, there was to be a new beginning, a new dispensation. The temple of our body was to become the holy of holies, the circumcision of the heart was to take the place of circumcision of the flesh, the substance the place of the type, the spiritual Sabbath of holiness the place of the ceremonial Sabbath, which was a type of holiness.

The first Sabbath, which had been broken off by sin and which was established by God at the completion of the work of creation, was to be restored to us in a new day which would be established by the Lamb of God at the completion of the work of redemption.

Probably while the priest was pouring out the wine and water at the altar of sacrifice, Jesus, whose blood was next to be poured out of the golden vessel of His immaculate body, said as He stood in the temple, ”If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, for the pouring out of my life will further result in the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon all who are my disciples, and rivers of living water shall flow forth from them.” Jesus announced at this closing scene of the old order of things the climax to which the new will rise, the baptism of the Holy Ghost for all believers.

The announcement of this great event was not accidental but of supreme importance.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the preparation for service, the Spirit’s presence sealing the eradication of all sin. It is the essential baptism, the great fact of this dispensation. It is the culminating event in the inspired revelation of our redemption, the climax of all events in the spiritual history of the human race, the advent of the Third Person of the Trinity, the divine provision for the preservation and increase of the spirituality and numerical strength of the Christian Church, for walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, they were multiplied.

The dark ages were brought on because the Church sought to increase its effectiveness by being unequally yoked with the powers of this world; and spiritual darkness always follows such alliances. The baptism with the Holy Ghost makes a refreshing, pure, exhaustless, life-giving, irresistible steady flood of healing water to flow spontaneously from the believer’s heart and keep it clean.

Ben Valjean, The Nazarene Messenger, August 15, 1907

Used with permission from Nazarene Archives for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

Enlarging Compassion’s Territory

Seven years ago*, God dragged John Mohan “kicking and screaming” into a new career.

Mohan, an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, went from being a self-described “typical white suburban pastor, with little awareness of homelessness,” to chief executive officer (CEO) of Siloam Mission, an urban Nazarene Compassionate Ministry Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, arguably the coldest capital city in the world.

The first time Mohan walked into the mission, which at that time was located in a tiny converted restaurant building, he thought, “I guess God is calling me to a ministry of obscurity where I’ll never be seen or heard from again.”

He was wrong.

Mohan is now the very visible CEO of a mission with an annual operating budget of $4.3 million (CAN). He appears regularly on the radio and television, is featured in magazine and newspaper articles, and is tapped as an expert on homelessness. When he arrived at Siloam Mission, an estimated 25 people were helped daily. That number is now between 400 and 500. The mission owns a 58,000-square-foot, four-story, inner city building. It operates a full-sized dining room, a 105-bed emergency shelter, and a 2,100-square-foot health center. “I’m overwhelmed by the size of it,” Mohan said.

Patrons may receive meals, emergency shelter, health and dental care, clothing, pastoral care, referral services, and transitional programs in employment training, computer literacy, and art.

Mohan had no experience in running a compassionate ministry center. It all started because of a simple trust in God.

“I had the absolute conviction that God had my best in mind, and His plan for me was the best plan. If I could trust God with my salvation, I could trust God with my career,” said Mohan.

“If I could trust God with my salvation, I could trust God with my career.”

Submitting His Résumé, and His Heart

In 2001, Mohan and his wife, Brenda, were serving the 100-member Alpine Church of God in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, population 16,000. They had spent 22 years in various ministry assignments. Toward the end of the year, the Swift Current congregation was undergoing a period of conflict, and Mohan was asking God whether they should stay or go.

“I prayed for God to ‘enlarge my territory,’ just like the prayer of Jabez,” said Mohan. “But I was only thinking in regards to church work in that community.”

Then his brother-in-law, a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, invited him to apply to Siloam Mission, which was in search of a CEO.

Mohan submitted his résumé, then immediately withdrew it.

The timing, and his heart, wasn’t right. A few months later, Mohan resigned from his pastoral position. “So I did what all pastors do when they don’t know what to do,” Mohan joked. “I went back to graduate school.”

Still, Siloam pursued him. The chair of the mission’s board of directors called Mohan and asked him to consider the assignment. Mohan laughed to himself, “If he’s asking me, then all the better candidates have already said no.”

Finally, after consulting with his wife, Brenda, Mohan gave in. He may have been a “typical white pastor” with little understanding or concern for the downtrodden, but with one exception, he says. He was raised in a single-parent home by a father who was in the armed forces. His mother was an alcoholic, and often lived in “dismal circumstances.” That planted seeds of compassion that maturity helped to nourish.

Intentional, Accidental, Providential Growth

Every person who would come through our doors, no matter how ragged or dirty or smelly or whatever, I would treat as if Jesus were coming through my door.

From the start, Mohan decided he would emphasize excellence as well as compassion in everything the mission did, striving for the best facilities and services possible.

“Every person who would come through our doors, no matter how ragged or dirty or smelly, or whatever, I would treat as if Jesus was coming through my door,” he said.

The response has been an explosion of growth. He has seen the expansion come through what he describes as intentional, accidental, and providential action.

Intentional. Mohan wanted Siloam Mission to be a household name in the Christian community, so he began recording short commentaries that aired daily on a local Christian radio station. He wanted to help the church community understand three things: 1) the issues of local poverty and homelessness, 2) God’s heart for the poor, and 3) the church’s responsibility and privilege to serve the poor. As churches were informed about the needs, they engaged, resulting in generous financial and volunteer support.

Accidental. In the winter of 2003, as Siloam Mission was running out of winter clothing, they contacted the media to help spread the word. The response was overwhelming, donations more than quadrupled from their usual amount, but that was just the beginning.

“The ‘accident’ was a phone call from a grandmother, whose granddaughter, a first grader, wanted to help homeless people but didn’t know how,” Mohan said.

The little girl, Hannah Taylor, was invited to visit Siloam. Then Mohan offered to speak to her class about homelessness. He talked about the Good Samaritan. Hannah said, “We’re going to raise money for you.”

Several weeks later, Mohan was presented with 137 cans of coffee, warm clothes, and blankets, and a check for $1,200 (CAN), all raised from an art and bake sale held by Hannah’s first grade class. Hannah went on to fight homelessness by starting the Ladybug Foundation, now one of Siloam Mission’s donors. (See www.ladybugfoundation.ca)

Providential. At one point the mission was low on funds. Mohan prayed, “O God, where is the money going to come from?”

Soon after that he received an unsolicited E-mail from the vice president of the Russ Reid Company, a direct-response fundraising firm, which offered to take Siloam on as their Winnipeg client. In January 2004, Mohan provided them with their entire donor list of 780 names, which had previously generated $170,000 (CAN) in annual donations. Now the supporters list contains more than 30,000 people who will fund the 2008-9 operational budget of $4.3 million (CAN).

One recent event was altogether intentional, accidental, and providential: A letter, out of the blue, came in 2006 from attorneys of a late Winnipeg pharmacist, a Jewish man named Saul Sair, who wanted his estate to serve the homeless. They asked for a proposal, which led to a $1 million gift to Siloam Mission to create the Saul Sair Health Center, which opened in August 2007.

Serving the Homeless, Serving Christ

God has indeed enlarged Mohan’s territory-and his heart, his vision, and Siloam Mission’s capacity to serve.

“The homeless give you far more than you give them,” he said. “God calls holiness people to compassionately engage with the poor. When we do, our love for people and for God is enlarged, and we have an increased awareness of Christ’s presence in our own lives.”

Anita K. Palmer is a freelance writer and editor in San Diego.

*Holiness Today, July/August 2008

The Central Message of the Bible

 

The topic of today’s Coffee Break is titled,

“The Central Message of the Bible” …

“Dr. Barth, you are recognized as perhaps the greatest theologian of this century,” one reporter began in an interview. “What is the most profound theological idea you have entertained?” After a moment’s thought the Swiss theologian replied, “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

Please go to http://holinesstoday.org to read the entire article.  All content is available at no cost by the Church of the Nazarene.

We hope that the content of this article will encourage you to think and bless your life.

How You Finish

I am a lifelong baseball fan. My family and I have been to all 30 major league baseball stadiums in the U.S. and Canada, and I have been involved in baseball—either as a player or a coach—since I was 6 years old. For those who are not baseball fans, I will share with you one of the key theological truths we can learn from this game: It is not how you start, but how you finish!

A professional baseball season consists of 162 games. That means that there are more baseball games in a season than in any other professional sport in the U.S. or Canada. A long season provides many opportunities to start fresh, regroup, and have new success. However, a long season also allows opportunities for teams that start strong to lose sight of their goals, become complacent, and experience defeat.

Baseball was not around during New Testament times. However, in the Greco-Roman culture, there were long foot races (similar to marathons) that, like long baseball seasons, required consistency, focus, and endurance.

Paul compares the Christian life to such a race, not in the sense of competition between Christians, but in terms of the need for endurance and consistency in order to spend our lives walking in the ways of Jesus.

Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (I Corinthians 9:23-25, NIV).

This race that we run is not the result of human talent or even our own initiative. Rather, we are invited into running this race—living this new, Christ-centered life—by God Himself. Furthermore, God equips us and prepares us to run the race, to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him and bears witness to His ways. We often call this way of living (of “running the race”) the “way of holiness.”

Living the “way of holiness” is not something we do in order to impress God. Instead, it is a gift from God—a relationship God provides by His Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ—so that we may run with perseverance and victory.

Our response to His leadership makes all the difference. It is not our one-time response that gives us victory in the race. It is, instead, our ongoing focus upon the person and work of Jesus Christ as we are led by His Spirit to the finish line, where, like Paul, we can proclaim: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7, NIV).

Prayer for the Week:

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. —Thomas Aquinas

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

The Good Kind of Deperate

Desperation is not often a good thing.

For instance, we should never fill a position in the church or even in a corporate setting out of sheer desperation. This can lead to a short-term fix that causes great disruption in the long run. Desperation can give way to a fear-based approach that sets a dire tone for the direction of an organization.

However, there is a kind of desperation that is positive and can lead to a sharp focus and a tenacity that seeks to quench spiritual hunger and thirst regardless of the cost.

This kind of desperation is described in the following examples from the Bible:

My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God! When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2, NIV)

My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. (Isaiah 26:9, NIV)

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NIV)

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1, NIV)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6, NIV)

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. (John 6:27, NIV)

The “good” kind of desperation, described in these verses and many others like them, is a desperate desire for God and for God’s ways to be above all else.

It is the kind of healthy desperation that causes fishermen to abandon their nets and follow Jesus. It causes a thirsty woman, drawing water from a well, to run into the village, proclaiming that she met the Savior. It is the kind of desperation that causes distractions from the ways of God to be cast aside so that holy love can become our primary focus.

A worship song penned by Marie Barnett sums up this kind of holy longing:

   This is the air I breathe; Your holy presence living in me;

                This is my daily bread; Your very word spoken to me.

                And I am desperate for you; I am lost without you.

When we are filled with this holy desperation—abandoning our own ways and priorities that compete with the ways of Jesus—we find our thirst quenched and our lives filled with the refreshing leadership of the Spirit of God.

May we be the “good” kind of desperate this week, waiting for God to take His rightful place as the focus of our lives.

Prayer for the week:

O God, forgive me for longing for anything but You. Fill my longing heart with the only water that can quench my thirst: the living water that is Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name, Amen.

Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

Ministry with a cup of coffee

While we may not see our day-to-day jobs as ministry opportunities, people in every context need to hear the message of the Bible.

I found myself somewhat frustrated in accepting yet another position as a barista. I was days away from entering the final semester of my undergraduate career with a degree in Christian ministry, and being a barista was not how I pictured myself ministering.

A few days later, I was angrily wiping down counters when a dear friend reminded me that ministry is all about service. I couldn’t think of a more practical way to serve than in a coffee shop! That day, something changed within me. I had been preaching to the teens in my youth internship about “ministering everywhere you are,” and I realized that the coffee shop was the perfect place to do just that. The message I had been teaching others was becoming real to me. A textbook opportunity presented itself: I was able to practice what I was preaching . . . funny how that happens.

So, I set out to bring my Christian lingo into the workplace.

I began asking guests, “How can I serve you?”

Many customers were taken by surprise at my question.

I started to notice that people tucked into the coffee shop corners were often trying to escape or avoid their current realities.

Real people and real struggles sat before me each day.

One day it was a woman just diagnosed with stage IV cancer who didn’t know how to tell her children. Another day it was a man staring down at the divorce papers on the table in front of him, with a pen in his trembling hand and doubt in his eyes. Another day it was a weary pastor who hadn’t practiced Sabbath in months . . . and the list goes on.

Amazing conversations have happened whenever I stopped to notice these people and intentionally stepped into their reality, holding a cup of coffee and bearing a smile that said, “I’m ready to hold these burdens with you.”

The coffee shop has given me an opportunity to build an incredible relationship with a young man who calls himself a pagan. Slowly but surely, he’s started asking questions about scripture and about why I have chosen a career path in ministry.

One night, in particular, he said, “Ashton, the only reason I trust you and am willing to actually talk to you about my beliefs is that I can tell you care. I don’t believe in your God, but you didn’t stop caring about me when you found out I wasn’t interested in your belief system. If I did believe in your God, it would be because finally someone who calls herself a ‘Christian’ hasn’t written me off because I didn’t fit into her perfect mold.”

I have realized that hurting people are everywhere, just waiting for someone to walk over to the corner and ask, “How can I serve you? What’s going on in your life?”

We all have a place of ministry, even if it is not always the setting we would choose for ourselves. I am so grateful that God is leading me into His mission field over a cup of coffee.

Ashton Mason is a licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene and a recent graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Where the Church Is Not Yet

PRAISE: A pastor of a Ukrainian Church of the Nazarene has been “going where the church is not yet” for four years with a group ministering in a remote mountain village. Because of the climate, the team can only access the village from May to September, on a 3-meter-wide (10-foot-wide) road with no railings. However, “the scariest thing is that, over the history of Christianity, they have never heard of the gospel,” the pastor said. “God has encouraged the people at our church, because they realized that they are part of something much bigger: they are part of God’s big mission.” Give thanks to God for the pastor’s willingness to reach others with the gospel. Please pray for the people to whom they witness, and pray that the congregation in Ukraine will continue to recognize how they can make a difference in others’ lives.

To read the whole story go to:

NMI@nazarene.org for March 28, 2018

Expectations

James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up, and if has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

We are called to pray. EXPECTING God to hear and answer is a critical part of effective prayer. Praying with expectancy in our hearts tells God we truly believe He will do what we are asking.

A passing thought isn’t focused prayer. Take the time (literally STOP whatever you are doing, taking a few seconds out of your day) to get quiet and focus on the un-matchable, incredible power of Our Lord.
Please take a few minutes today and offer a focused prayer for greater expectation in the hearts of all believers. Let’s see what the Lord is willing to do in our church and in our lives!