Aligning Magnetic and True North

Clint Morgan

Aligning Magnetic and True North

In September 2019, a once-in-a-lifetime event occurred. At the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, United Kingdom, the magnetic North pole, as indicated on compasses, pointed directly at the geographic North Pole, or true North, for the first time in 360 years.

A compass, if functioning properly, points toward the Earth’s magnetic north pole, which is generally not the same location as the geographic North Pole. Earth’s magnetic poles exist because of its magnetic field, produced by electric currents in the liquid part of the earth’s core. The location of the magnetic north pole is constantly changing and can move as far as 1,000 km away from the true north pole.

On the other hand, true north is calculated using an imaginary line through the Earth rather than a compass. Outside forces do not cause it to vary. True north is always in precisely the same location.

I see this as a good analogy of us at IM as we align our plans with God’s plans.  He is the true North and we are the magnetic North.  We, as humans, have a propensity to follow the magnetic pulls of this life and its imposing culture.

The IM leadership team (IMLT) is charged with leading the Mission in the right direction, and along the best paths, at all times. We believe our true North is simply God’s will. However, we must deal with the magnetic pulls as we move through our times and the cultural continuum of life. We must keep our eyes fixed on the true North.

As we enter 2020, our vision is guided by one overriding principle: we want to ensure our magnetic north (our plans) is properly and completely aligned with the true North (God’s plans).   As mission leaders, it is imperative we align our plans, strategies, and actions with His plans and strategies, and not attempt the opposite.

We need your prayers as we pursue the path He desires we follow.

Photo: ID 49731568 © Olivier Le Moal | Dreamstime.com

Unshaken

Clint Morgan

Unshaken

Each year, at the IM office, we choose a Scripture verse to serve as a staff motto for the next 12 months. Having a “verse for the year” serves as a constant reminder for us to:

  • Build our lives on the Word of God
  • Focus on Him at all times
  • Work together as a cohesive unit with collective goals and objectives

In the past we have chosen:

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 –Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Ephesians 6:7 –rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.

1 Chronicles 16:11 –Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually

Romans 12:12 –Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Once the verse is chosen, a framed, 5x7copy is given to every staff member. They are asked to place it on their desk as a constant reminder of our united commitment to live by the exhortation of the passage.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is by far one of the clearest passages about embracing the concept of talking about the Word in every situation. One of the directives encourages we “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” as a means of passing the Word on to others.

Here in the National Offices, we aren’t encouraged to write our verses on the ‘doorposts’, but we can keep them constantly before us in a picture frame on our desk.

Our 2020 motto verse is taken from Psalm 16:8: I keep my eyes always on the Lord…I will not be shaken.” Throughout Scripture, many passages speak of God having His eyes on us. We must remember this action must be reciprocal if we are to be pleasing to Him.  We must keep our eyes on Him as He keeps His eyes on us.

This is our prayer at IM—in all things to remain focused on Him. If we do this, we can be assured we will accomplish what He desires of us and will remain stable in our walk with Him and service to others.

Maybe you would like to join us in sharing this motto verse for 2020.  What could be accomplished if all Free Will Baptists, or even better, if all born-again believers made a commitment to keep their eyes solidly fixed on Him in the coming year and live in constant obedience to Him?

Feel free to find this motto verse in your favorite version, frame it, and place it a place in your home or office where you will see it daily. Together, we will “not be shaken.”

Photo: 2019 verse, Romans 12:12 on Clint’s desk

SYMMETRY

Clint Morgan

SYMMETRY

I don’t get bent out of shape over a lot of things. But I can be a bit obsessive about two things. One: I want my lawn cut in straight lines. Two: I prefer Christmas tree ornaments have definite linear patterns. Simply said, I like “symmetry.”

My obsession was kicked off the pedestal one year when one of our granddaughters was all in for decorating the tree. As you can imagine, the lights and ornaments were strung with careless abandon…oops, with lots of care. After a mild panic attack (slightly overstated), and reminder from my dear wife this was my granddaughter’s decorations, I settled down for a long winter’s nap. Life is good when the granddaughter is giggling with joy over the wonderful Christmas tree she decorated.

My Christmas decoration obsession was challenged again and again when our churches were decorated for Christmas in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. Symmetry was not a major concern in preparing the church for the Christmas celebration. Having and using affordable, available, and hangable (probably not a word) items was top priority.

I learned through my years in Africa to not just accept their way of decorating, but sincerely appreciate and admire the creativity and commitment demanded to make something beautiful and God-honoring out of the simplest of available materials. I quickly discovered toilet paper, construction paper, and anything shiny worked just fine as decorations.

Even more so, I learned their focus wasn’t on fancy decorations, high-level play productions, cantatas, parties, fancy-wrapped gifts, elaborately-decorated Christmas trees, and constant hustle and bustle. The main focal points of their celebration were Christ and being with other believers.

Since moving back to the States in 2011, as Christmas comes around each year, I find myself nostalgic for those Christ-focused Christmas seasons in Côte d’Ivoire and less obsessed with the symmetry of the Christmas tree.

May the Christ of Christmas be the focus of your celebrations!

Ivorian Thanksgiving Memories

Clint Morgan

Ivorian Thanksgiving Memories

Turkeys in Côte d’Ivoire do not have a lot to worry about at Thanksgiving. No, they don’t all get a presidential pardon. However, Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Côte d’Ivoire. Nine countries (other than the U.S.) do celebrate this holiday in some form—most around a harvest theme.

For example, the country just west of Côte d’Ivoire, founded by freed American slaves in 1847, has a version of Thanksgiving. Liberian Christians often gather at church for service, then leave to sell their freshly harvested products. Families return home to feast, much like in America. Because turkeys and pumpkins are hard to find in Liberia, roast chicken and mashed cassava generally make up the Thanksgiving meal.

When we lived in Côte d’Ivoire, missionary families within the same area gathered for a big Thanksgiving meal, when possible. Once the gathering date and location were set, the scramble was on to find a turkey. Some traditional items (i.e. potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, and rolls) were relatively easy to find. Cranberry sauce and ingredients for a pumpkin pie presented a challenge.

Leave it to the merchants to find solutions to such dilemmas. A store in the capital city of Abidjan, appropriately called the American Store, catered to the ex-pat community. Around holidays they made good money providing specialty items. Though we often settled for a chicken (bought in Abidjan months in advance and frozen to avoid the scrawny, tough chicken available locally), occasionally, a turkey was acquired and graced our Thanksgiving table.

November in Côte d’Ivoire falls at the beginning of dry season. Generally hot and extremely dusty, it meant the trip to the designated missionary home involved washboard dirt roads. But distance and difficulties did not stop us from making the trek. We absolutely loved sharing a Thanksgiving meal with fellow missionaries. The atmosphere was festive. Laughter rang out as stories were shared. The food became secondary to the joys of fellowship. Out in the yard, MKs (missionary kids) joyfully played, often giggling. Occasionally, one would come in to report the misbehavior of one of the other kids.

We tried to make the meal as much as possible like those we enjoyed in the States. Each family brought their favorite or traditional dish. Cans of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie filling frequently were brought from the States and held for this occasion. Decorations vied for precious luggage space, as well. We wanted our children to know and understand family and American traditions.

Sitting around the table, we carried out the time-honored tradition of sharing things for which we were thankful. Inevitably, someone referred to Thanksgiving festivities back “home” in the States. The tone changed, maybe even a few tears were shed. For a moment, nostalgia ruled as we longed to be with our biological families. Then, we snapped back to reality and festivities cranked up again.

As evening came, one by one the families left to return home. We left with full stomachs, joyful memories of this day with our missionary family, and anticipation of future gatherings to celebrate another Thanksgiving Day.

We certainly had a lot for which to be thankful!

Working in Unity

Clint Morgan

Working in Unity

When I think of Brother David Crowe and the NAM (North American Ministries) staff, one verse comes to mind: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Few things are as detrimental to the advancement of His Kingdom than disunity among believers. God desires His people live and work in harmony. I sense, as never before, NAM and IM are living this out.

Few people exude the spirit of unity and collaboration like Brother David. He travels throughout our Free Will Baptist churches and leaves people knowing he loves them and cares for all Kingdom people.  This is the man God has chosen to lead NAM at this time in our history.  Having David Crowe at the helm makes it easy and joyful to work with him.  Not only is he willing to work with IM, but with all departments of the National Association and its personnel.

He encourages NAM church planters to open their doors to IM missionaries, to back them with prayers and support. I was at a NAM church plant a couple of months ago. They were right in the middle of a building program, but they invited me specifically to challenge the church to get involved in world outreach.

Of course, this church planter is passionate about reaching the lost people in his city, but he clearly let his congregation know missions for every believer includes a Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and uttermost parts of the world. He wants the church to have a large view of the world and its needs…not just their city.

Sunday, November 24, is designated as North American Ministries offering day. I urge you to dig deep in your pockets and not miss an opportunity to give an exceptionally generous offering to assist our church planters and NAM efforts.

BIGGER THAN THE GAME

Clint Morgan

BIGGER THAN THE GAME

Do not forget what it is to be a sailor because of being a captain yourself (Tanzanian proverb).

Today’s world is full of movie stars, athletes, millionaire techies, and billionaire oil tycoons who live so far removed from the real world they cannot relate to the problems of day-to-day existence for the “average Joe.”

I must be careful. We live in such a litigious culture I could open myself for a lawsuit. Nonetheless, you can no doubt think of one of the many prima donna athletes in baseball, soccer, football, golf, basketball, or some other sport. These men or women become so rich and famous, they convince themselves they are in a league of their own. Few, if any, are allowed to enter their small world.

Even in the realm of Christianity this pretentious isolationism exists. It may be as obvious as in the circles of the rich and famous, but it still exists and is disturbing and divisive. Some pastors, televangelists, Christian writers, and Christian performers can easily think more of themselves than they ought because of their success and public recognition.

One of the worse mistakes made by the successful is having an elevated self-image. The African proverb, “Do not forget what it is to be a sailor because of being a captain yourself,” provides pretty solid advice. No matter how high we may climb the economic, entertainment, or ecclesiastical ladder, we should never forget our journey.

The Bible gives sufficient fair warning to the proud and arrogant. Sound biblical teaching and secular wisdom agree in this particular arena. This should bring us to acknowledge the possibility of self-aggrandizement and the need to not look down on, or forget those who have not, and perhaps never will, become a “captain.”

See Romans 12:3, Titus 1:7.

TRUE LEADERS EMERGE

Clint Morgan

TRUE LEADERS EMERGE

As I came to the end of my first term in Africa, a factor haunted me: my first three disciples turned out to be Judases. As a young missionary, I was committed to a Paul-Timothy method of discipleship. However, much to my dismay, this idealistic scenario came crumbling down. One by one, the three young “disciples” chose to live in contradiction to what they were taught.

I shared my consternation with two of my missionary mentors who quickly shed light on the situation. Unfortunately, their insights brought a glaring fault in my missiological practice into focus. One of them asked, “What did you see in these three young men that led you to believe they would be good leaders?”

This seemed to be a fair question, and I had an answer prepared for I had asked myself this very question. I had found these guys to be intelligent, articulate, energetic, creative, and ready to serve.

My response prompted a moment of contemplation; then one of the mentors spoke, receiving full agreement from the other. They said, “We have found, in this context, it is the quiet, reflective people who are respected as leaders.” The power of those words sunk in rapidly, placing my faulty process on full display. I had made two pretty serious errors in judgement: (1) looking for leaders who fit my western cultural patterns, and (2) trying to choose leaders!

A Ugandan proverb came to mind, “He who is destined for power does not have to fight for it.” After taking into consideration the words of my mentors, I moved to a new position on establishing leadership in the church. We do not have, nor should we feel we have, the responsibility to choose ministry leaders. Instead, we should wait upon the Lord to lead us to those He has chosen. There should be no jockeying for position in the Body of Christ.

If God chooses leaders, we can be assured they will be true servants seeking to bring honor to Him and not themselves. I am convinced it is better to not have leaders in a church than to have those who are not biblically qualified. Please note, I did not say, it is better to have those who meet my qualifications. The lesson learned many years ago as a rookie missionary followed me through ministry on the mission field and is still relevant.

See Acts 6:1-7, 1 Timothy 3:1-12

 

Image by Steve Watts on Pixabay

Pastor Appreciation

Clint Morgan

Pastor Appreciation

It’s relatively easy for us to get so bogged down with our own needs we neglect those of others. So specific days are set aside to remind us to honor the sacrifice and ministry of others…like Pastor Appreciation Sunday. We should be able to give the proper attention to our own needs, as well as those of other believers. Scripture admonishes us to honor the needs of others before our own (Romans 12:10).

We have some outstanding men of God serving as pastors and leaders in our churches outside North America. These pastors and leaders have needs just like anyone else in the world. However, sometimes they live under much greater pressure than their congregation can imagine. They often suffer quietly, with a sense no one really cares for them. Sometimes they feel they are all alone, fighting against the continual attacks of Satan. These men need our care, our love, our prayers, and sometimes our help.

The Bible plainly tells us we have a responsibility for those who lead churches. We are called to meet their financial needs.

  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18—Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Our responsibility to meet their needs does not stop with finances. We must do our part in carrying their burdens, or at least sharing in this demand.

  • Galatians 6:2—Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

We can manifest our care of our national leaders in many ways. We must set the example for others to see and, hopefully, to follow.

  • Galatians 6:10—As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith

The men and women who lead our churches overseas need us, their Western brothers and sisters, to encourage, exhort, strengthen, and minister to them. For them to be successful in ministry, we will sometimes need to minister to both their physical and spiritual needs. We can’t adequately picture the hardships some leaders face. Some live in poverty, epidemic disease zones, isolation from other believers, constant risk of being beaten or killed, government resistance to their ministries, and much more.

It is imperative we hold these dear brothers up in prayer and ask God what we can do to minister effectively to them. Honor your pastor this month. Then, make a special effort to pray often for those serving overseas.

Ask Him to make you keenly aware of the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our national leaders and help you find ways to meet those needs. 

A Grasshopper Fight

Clint Morgan

A Grasshopper Fight

An African proverb states: A fight between grasshoppers is a joy to the crow.

Satan loves to see fighting between believers. When we fight among ourselves we become more vulnerable to his attacks. The fact is, Satan is always glad to stir up trouble and then sit back and watch the pot boil. In those moments, we are most vulnerable and become pawns in his guerilla warfare tactics.

Many times (and I do mean many), people have come to me with “important information” (another term for gossip) about another individual. When framed this way, I don’t expect to hear good news. I attempt to patiently listen. If an accusation is hidden in the fog of “concern,” I follow with a series of questions.

The Q & A following such important information from this concerned individual may look like this:

  • Me: Have you talked to ____________ (the accused) about this?
  • Them:
  • Me: Will you go with me to talk to him/her about this?
  • Them:
  • Me: I am going to see this person and tell him/her what you have told me. Can I tell him you were the source of my information?
  • Them: No!
  • Me: Okay, if he says it is not true, I will come back to you. Then you must go tell those who told you, and any others you have told, and give the truth about what happened. Don’t talk about this again.                                          

In most cases, one of two things happens. One, the person will walk back his statement and request we let it drop. Or, things will be validated and we must deal with other issues. The most common scenario is the desire to let things drop.

Let’s do our best to avoid conflict and confrontation with other believers. We (the grasshoppers) must avoid giving Satan (the crow) an opportunity to destroy the unity called for in the Body of Christ. (See Romans 12:16-18, Colossians 3:13-14, Matthew 5:9.)

 

Image: ID 15444265 © Empire331 | Dreamstime.com

Over a Dead Lion’s Body

Clint Morgan

Over a Dead Lion’s Body

Have you ever heard someone talk about someone else in a bold, brash, and sometimes careless manner when that person is not present? I don’t know about you, but this gets under my skin.

The African proverb “What is said over a dead lion’s body could not be said when he is alive” comes to my mind in such circumstances.

Those who do not have the courage to stand up to others will often talk big and boastfully when they believe they have no danger of facing the person they are talking about. This is especially true when it comes to confronting someone who intimidates you, intentionally or not, by his or her presence. It is easier to talk about what you should have done and speak of it as having been done if there is no obvious opportunity to do it.

We often hear people brashly declare what they would do if “so and so” were right in front of them. However, if the person shows up on the scene, the big talk disappears.

When we talk about what we “would do” if given the opportunity, we need to carefully ask ourselves if we are speaking truthfully or just engaging in unnecessary “chest-pounding.”

No, we aren’t talking about “dead lions” but we aren’t talking about dead people either. We need to speak about people as if they are present. We should be willing to speak truth, but it must be done in love and kindness. Scripture gives solid exhortations to guide us when we talk about others. Lord, teach us to confront one another compassionately and to avoid gossip and proud boasting.

Proverbs 16:28—A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Ephesians 4:15-16—Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Philippians 4:8—Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

 

Photo: ID 18673719 © Oliverblum | Dreamstime.com

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