[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #318 ---- 1/12/04

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From: "Bob Tolliver" <lifeunlimited@...>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 17:39:14 +0200
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to You, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #318 ---- 1/12/04

Title:  "The Bottom Line of Effective Ministry"



My Dear Friend and Pilgrim Partner:

Greetings after an extremely busy week of ministry in the villages and in our own church with a wonderful team of students from a Christian university in Missouri.  My letter is late today because I've been out prayer walking with these kids plus several members of our church.  I finally left them at 4:00 pm and they were still going strong even though darkness was less than an hour away.

Today I have a number of items to send you, so I'm reversing my normal format because I don't want the words of encouragement to be overshadowed by all the other things, even though they are important.  Later in my letter you'll find a challenge to action, some humorous ideas for New Year's resolutions, and a list of special prayer requests.  Please give those your undivided attention when you get to them.

In the meantime, . . . .



THE BOTTOM LINE OF EFFECTIVE MINISTRY:

As far back as I can remember, I have heard preachers debate over what they felt was the most important thing in order to have an effective ministry.  "Preach the Word!"  "Witnessing!"  "Revival!"  "Holiness!"  "Leadership!"  "Inerrancy of Scripture!"  "Doctrine!"

The list goes on and on.

I've been part of some of those debates and "brotherly discussions" in the past.  But, I guess as I've gotten older, I've not been particularly motivated to participate in such activities . . . . partly because it takes up too much time that could be used "doing" the ministry rather than "discussing" it. . . . and partly because I have personally found the answer that satisfies my own call to the ministry.

"So, then", you may ask, "What is the most important thing for effective ministry?"

Without demeaning or minimizing all the things noted above (and any other vital element of ministry), I'd have to say that I believe it is a vital prayer base.

And, here's why I believe it:

If prayer is truly communicating with God about things that are important to him and to you, then  . . . .

  1.  Prayer was here before anything else . . . . before preaching, before witnessing, before revival, before holiness, before leadership, before the debate over inerrancy, before doctrine, before anything.  Adam, Eve, and God enjoyed intimate communication with each other in the Garden.  Prayer existed even before sin had entered the human strain.

  2.  Prayer is the means by which we maintain communication with God today.  You can preach and witness, and communicate to others.  You can lead and influence others.  You can declare revival, holiness, inerrancy, and doctrine, but you're not doing anything other than trying to communicate to others.  Prayer, on the other hand, is a direct communication with the holy and righteous God who saved you and called you to serve Him.

  3.  Prayer is the basis for understanding.  James illustrated that when he suggested that if we need wisdom, we ask . . . . not others, but ask God.  The revelatory gifts of the Spirit are triggered by seeking the face of God in prayer.  Prayer is what opens up the mysteries of scripture to our understanding.  Prayer is the way we should be getting our sermon ideas and our wise counsel to those to whom we minister.

  4.  Prayer is the channel by which power is released for ministry.  While the Holy Spirit delivers the power, it is usually prayer that acknowledges the need and initiates its delivery.  Prayer expresses faith in God's full ability, it explains our confidence and expectancy in God to others, and it serves notice on the enemy that he cannot continue his destructive deeds.

  5.  Prayer is the means by which insight and revelation are expressed.  Church history is filled with the lives of people such as George Mueller, John Hyde, Norman Grubb, C.T. Studd, Martin Luther, Hudson Taylor, and thousands of others who discovered God's revealed will for them and God's revealed answer to situations through lives of prayer.

  6.  Prayer is an act of obedience unlike other things.  You can preach, you can witness, you can defend the Bible, you can lead, you can assemble doctrines and creeds without it necessarily being obedience . . . . but you cannot truly pray without it being an expression of obedience.  To pray disobediently is to not have prayed.  You may have said a prayer, but you didn't really pray.

  7.  Prayer gets results that other things will not get.  In some unexplainable and mysterious way, prayer releases God's presence and power into situations that no sermon, no fervent witness, no defense of the faith, or no example of leadership will ever accomplish.

  8.  Prayer is the only thing Jesus' disciples ever asked Him to teach them.  Somehow they must have understood the imperative importance of prayer.  Apparently they knew something many of us don't know.  He told them to preach, to heal, to evangelize, to work, . . . to do lots of things, and they did them.  But they only asked Him to teach them to pray . . .  not how to pray, . . . but to pray.  Interestingly, they must have seen it demonstrated in His life and that caused them to see its value.  If you notice His earthly ministry, you find that prayer either preceded or followed almost every major event therein.

  9.  Prayer is the only thing Jesus left a model for.  Again, he didn't leave a model for spiritual gifts, for communion, for baptism, for evangelizing.  But He did leave a model for prayer.  We traditionally call it "The Lord's Prayer".

10.  Prayer releases God's personal activity.  It appears that God responds on a personal level more frequently when prayer is exercised than just about anything else.  From the very beginnings of the Church we see this to be the case.  Even as early as Acts chapter one, and constantly throughout the book, we find prayer at the very heart of all they did, whether it was to wait on God, find a replacement for Judas, preach the Gospel, or perform miracles.  Frankly, one of the greatest blessings you can have is to study the book of Acts as a book on prayer.



WHICH LEADS ME TO . . . .

This question:

If prayer is this important in the Bible, if it is so relevant to all other aspects of ministry, and if Jesus taught us to pray, then why is it still, for the most part, an "if all else fails" after thought for most believers?

And, . . . .

Why does it seem to be the most difficult discipline to maintain in our daily lives?

Maybe Satan knows something we don't know.

So, this is why our congregation is making prayer the ground floor for our personal lives and our corporate ministry.

And that's the reason why I believe God has promised us He is going to do another "New Thing" here in Kiev . . . . and International Church is going to be a part of that new thing.

Listen to this promise:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; . . . . Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."  (Isa 43:2,18,19)

It seems that vital and prevailing prayer may be one of the final two things God is restoring to the Church as we come nearer the end times.  Prayer and evangelism ---- what a naturally supernatural combination.  And what a thrilling thought!  Have you ever seen so many ministries today concentrating on prayer?  Do you think that's just coincidence?  It's part of the "New Thing" God is doing in our day.

What's your bottom line for ministry, my friend?  Why have you chosen that particular thing?  Do you have a reason?  Is it's focus on you or on others . . . . or on God?

I'm not asking you to agree with me, or to jump on my bandwagon.

But I am saying that whatever you're doing, a vital, faith-based, aggressive, authoritative, confident, and expectant prayer life better be there in fresh and working form, you you're basically going nowhere.  You may get the praises of men, but you'll not see the glory of God.

Have a great and prayer-filled day, dear friend.  Be encouraged!  God is up to something!

In His Bond and For His Glory,

Bob Tolliver -- Psalm 2:8
Copyright January, 2004
Life Unlimited Ministries
  lifeunlimited@...
   www.peopleteams.org/kiev/team/tollivers.htm (Personal ministry)
   www.peopleteams.org/kiev (General team ministry)
   http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum for our pix albums.

If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.

Please do NOT hit reply to this letter.  This is an automated unmanned system.  If you want to write Bob, send directly to lifeunlimited@.... Replying to "Shoulder To Shoulder" mailer gets you nowhere.


REMEMBER ---- "We will not Work where we have not prayed."  (Todd Golden)




A CALL TO ACTION:

As you know, I seldom promote "causes" and "issues" through this letter; that's not its purpose.  However, I do believe the following matter needs to be addressed.  I feel it's important that media and governmental agencies need to hear from Christians when things such as this are offensive.  I leave it up to you as to any action you might take, but I would hope that you'd join me in writing, and also notify many of your friends and relatives asking them to do the same.

---------------------

"F" word used again! This time by FOX
FCC'S STAND: WE APPROVE IT

We told you what was coming, and we were right. Wednesday night on the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, Fox allowed the use of the "F" word and two uses of "cow sh-t."

Nicole Richey, talking with Paris Hilton, said: "Yea, instead of standing in mud and cow--t. Why do they even call it the simple life? Have you ever tried to get cow sh-t out of a Prada purse? It's not that fu--ing simple."

The FCC's Stand? Basically: We have already ruled, earlier this year, that it is ok to use the "F" word anytime day or night except in sexual situations. (But expect FCC's ok for that soon.) 

The only way the FCC commissioners will change their ruling is by letting them and others know that you want the filth gates closed! Now! Today! Send the email. Then forward this to others. 

It is time to take a stand for the future of our children.

Take Action - Send your letter now! click here or copy and paste the link into your browser: http://mdccc.com/FCC_F_Word_0104.htm

P.S. Please forward this email to at least one friend.

(See FCC Enforcement Bureau Ruling, especially paragraph 5). http://www.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2003/DA-03-3045A1.html

----------------------



SOME READER'S COMMENTS:

In response to last week's "Sleeples Nights" letter, one brother wrote, "I don't know about you but when the Lord really wants to get my attention it's always between 1 and 3 AM.  For me that's a great time to visit with him.  [sic] Your a gifted writer, Bob, and you touch a lot more people than you know with your commentaries.  I've only been on your list for about three months but have been blessed many times reading your letters. . . . . You and JoAnn have a great & glorious day in the Lord and may the Lord truly bless your work there in the Ukraine.  It's good to know of God's faithfulness.  Psalm 127:2 tells us that God gives to us even in our times for sleep.  Psalm 4:7-8 says, "You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."



LOOKING FOR BELATED NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS?

If you are, consider these suggestions provided by our local coordinator to our team in Kiev:

Just in case you need some inspiration for your new years resolutions. . . Here's 10 suggestions to help missionaries in Ukraine become more effective, more indigenous and "blend" better in 2004. . . 
 10. (For women) Make a fashion statement. . . Buy some pointed, curled-toe boots and show them off at this year's [regional conference]. 
  9. (For men) Really learn the layout of Kiev. . . Take an expedition through the city in search of a licensed copy of Microsoft Office.
  8. Take advantage of the long winter nights. . . Read a classic Russian novel by Tolstoy (War and Peace) or Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment). 
  7. (For women) Get a fresh new "look" . . . Ask your hairdresser how she thinks you would look in "red." 
  6. (For men) Practice your language skills. . . Explain to your hairdresser that you want "just a little trim." 
  5. Overcome fear. . . Every morning ask the Lord for courage and an opportunity to share with someone about Christ. . . This works!
  4. Improve your people skills. . . Negotiate a taxi ride from Boryspil airport to the city center for 50 griven or less. 
  3. Become more effective. . . Ask a trusted Ukrainian pastor, "What do American missionaries do wrong?"
  2. Assist missionary colleagues. . . Prepare a presentation on the subject of "Ukrainian Driving Etiquette."
  1. Become a servant. . . Be the very best encourager and most valued supporter for a Ukrainian church planting pastor in Kiev.  



Finally, some . . . .

VERY SPECIAL PRAYER REQUESTS:

I hope it's not presumptuous on my part to share specific prayer requests with you.  While this is certainly not a prayer letter, it does provide a way to enlist hundreds of believers to pray about matters of great importance.  I cannot and will not change it from its intended purpose; however, thanks for letting me use this medium to spread the news about important matters requiring great prayer.

1.  I normally do not forward requests from people I don't know, but this one has prompted me to ask you to join me in prayer for this man and his family.  I'm sure his story is typical of many in our military, but his humility and desperation in asking untold thousands to pray specifically for him and his family I believe warrants our response.  So, pray for this brother and his family.  I have edited the letter to minimize identification and circumstances, but have otherwise kept it as written.

To the Body of Christ,

I am a Christian, who needs your Prayers, I have just returned from Iraq, I served in the Army for 8 months in the sand, and unfortunately the Enemy used that time to try to try to destroy my family, but I believe with your prayers it can be reversed.

My name is Mike My wife is Julie we have 3 young Children (boy) age 8, (girl) age 5, and (girl) age 4, My wife who is a Christian has taken up with somebody else his name is George. I'm asking that you pray and Storm Heaven, to break up this relationship as it is written in Hosea 2:6. (A hedge of thorns around Julie).  Hosea 2:6 "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.  2:7 "She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; And she will seek them, but will not find {them.} Then she will say, ' I will go back to my first husband, For it was better for me then than now!'

And that you would ask our Lord Jesus to reconcile through his life giving blood, the Reconciliation of my wife to himself (Jesus) and our Marriage, Please help me wage war and save my family, and allow my Children to see the power of a praying body, that they may serve the Lord all [sic] there lives, I am indebted to you may God bless you your church and family.

2.  Here is the most recent update on the young woman, Joy Wootton, college-aged daughter to a missionary colleague in Germany.  Please continue praying.  One of our supporters has reported that the same tragic medical treatment error happened to one of their relatives, and God completely restored them in time.

Dear Family and Friends,

Let's go back a couple of days and get you caught up on what is happening. Wednesday the doctors did remove the feeding tube from Joy's nose and did surgically put one directly into her stomach. The procedure went without a hitch and lasted only about 5 minutes. By the time Jean got to the hospital at 10 AM, Wednesday morning, the surgery was already complete and Joy was resting. . . . .

Joy slept most of Wednesday and Thursday. Today (Friday) on the other hand, she has been AWAKE!  Her glasses have been on all day, she has watched two movies, tried to "talk" Jean's ear off (which frustrates everybody, because we still do not read lips very well), and Jean squeezed almost a whole Clementne into Joy's mouth. The doctors came in while Jean was doing the squeezing, and they kept asking...is she swallowing? Our answer....we do not know, but the juice is going somewhere, Joy is moving her mouth in swallowing motions, and not doing her usual "clean out my throat" motion (opeing her mouth, and trying to stick out her tongue). Yesterday, Jean put a Listermint strip on Joy's tongue, and you should have seen the reaction. She made faces, and was moving her tongue in and out, and as Jean said, .... she definitely tasted it. That answered one of the doctor's questions...do you know if she can still taste?  ANSWER - YES!

A web site you should visit to see how spinal column injuries are being treated: www.christopherreeve.org . and some of the treatment possibilities, and how the spinal column is put together and what is controlled where. From this site you can link to other sites that continue the information. . . . I have not found a better site that better describes the latest in spinal column injury treatment and the what and how of the spinal column. . . . Even the doctors here in Germany learn from the research that has been encouraged by Mr. Reeve, as quoted by one of Joy's doctor's this afternoon. . . . 

Have a Heaven blessed 2004, and celebrate Jesus, He loves you very much!!!!!
Blessings,
Jim and Jean and Joy and Gwen

3.  Dalese Stockwell, wife of our area director Mick Stockwell, is finding the damage by Bell's Palsy to be more severe than first thought, and recovery much slower.  Dalese is an integral part of missionary work not only throughout our area of five countries, but actually throughout our region of 30 countries.  She is like a pastor's wife, sister, mother, and friend all rolled into one.  Here is Mick's most recent note:

Dalese is seeing small improvement in her face with her bout with Bell's Palsy.but evidently she has suffered a pretty serious case and it will take a while to return to normal. She is still completely paralyzed on one side of the face and her eye must remain covered with a patch in order stay wet and lubricated. She has only been out of the house twice since the attack to bring the boys to the airport. 

4.  Cliff and Jenny Luckhurst are missionary friends from England who serve in Rijeka, Croatia.  We have known them about five years.  If you have read John Robb's The Peacemaking Power Of Prayer about a prayer strategy in Bosnia the led to the cessation of the wark, you have read a little about the Luckhursts who were part of that effort.  Jenny has been battling cancer for longer than we have known her, and it appears from a human standpoint that she is slowly losing the battle.  Read the following excerpt from Cliff's letter of Saturday, and pray for them both.

Jenny did come out of hospital on 23rd of December. It was very hard for both of us as Jenny was in pain if I moved her at all, . . . . The pain came from the area where her pelvis is broken and from a swollen right knee. . . . 
 
After Christmas Jenny's oncologist called me and asked me to bring him the x-ray of her fractured pelvis from the other hospital. He suspected that Jenny's pelvis broke so easily because of secondary tumors on that bone. After examining the x-ray he confirmed that this was the case and Jenny will go into hospital on Monday 12th of January for a week to have radio treatment on her pelvis which would stabilize the secondarys. He also said that Jenny could not under any circumstances stand up at the moment otherwise pieces of her pelvis could break off.
 
The oncologist also says that Jenny probably fell because of enlarging of the tumors on her brain. Jenny is often in a confused state which seems to confirm this. This of cxourse is s great disappointment to us!
 
. . . . Jenny sometimes breathes drink into her bronchial tubes and does not have enough strength to cough it out. This could easily cause pneumonia . . . . Because Jenny is lying on her back it is not easy to give her drinks safely.  Jenny also is eating very little since her fall, having almost completely lost her appetite. 
 
As you can see the situation is very serious and we need a lot of prayer. Jenny needs constant attention. I have been trying to find someone who would come and care for her a few hours a day, preferably with nursing experience. I have not yet succeeded in finding anyone.
 
Basically Jenny cannot be moved and so lies on the couch in our kitchen all of the time (I have placed a mattress from our bed on it to make it comfortable). I sleep on a mattress on the kitchen floor at night so that Jenny can wake me at any time.
 
Please keep praying for us.

I try to imagine the hardship Cliff and Jenny are enduring just now, but my mind can't take it all in.  I hope you'll pray for these mighty warriors of God.  They have served in the former Yugoslavia for more than 20 years, going there while it was still under Communism.  God has used them powerfully to tear down spiritual strongholds over the years.

5.  Finally, please pray for my wife, Jo Ann.  She is teaching all freshman classes at St. James Bible College for the next two weeks, and will be traveling each day back and forth to the school.  She is teaching Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby as a required class for all freshmen.  This will be her third year to teach at this wonderful school.  She will teach three hours every morning, and we will try to maintain our other regular responsibilities at church.  Pray that God keeps her safe, gives her clarity of mind, and gives her mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual strength and power for the duration.

Bob Tolliver
IBC - Hope4Kyiv
lifeunlimited@...
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Online Resources on Ukraine are . . . .
    www.uazone.net
    www.hope4cee.org
    www.ukraineinfo.us
   www.peopleteams.org/ukrainians
   www.reachukraine.org 

May I Recommend . . . .

If you have a heart for God and would like to be encouraged in your life and ministry, 
    and you have a burden for your church, your community, and the world, 
    then you may want to receive . . .
www.cnsnews.com for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias.
www.worldprayerteam.org ---- A world-wide network for praying together.
www.watchword.org ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions.
www.waymakers.org ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc.
www.operationiraqcare.org ---- To adopt and pray for a special historic city in Iraq.
http://www.nppn.org ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
    email: phil@....  Register your PPG: http://www.nppn.org/ppg/ .
Usprayercenter@... ---- U. S. World Prayer Center.
www.cityreaching.com ---- City Reaching/City Impact Roundtable.
fridayfax-subscribe@... ---- Wolfgang Simpson's "Friday Fax" from New Zealand.
www.LifeAction.org ---- "Life Action Outreach".
www.revivalcsa.co.za ---- "Bulletin On Revival" by Francois Carr in South Africa.
www.yifa.org ---- "Youth Interceding For America".
www.missionamerica.org ---- "Mission America" .
www.lighthousemovement.com ---- "The Lighthouse Movement". Click on "Lighthouses".

Other Great Resources Are:
www.e-sword.net (one of the best free download Bible study site I've ever seen!)
"Christian Communications Toolkit" (using internet wisely) at http://associate.com/camsoc/ctt/
Free software or shareware listings, http://www.associate.com/camsoc/crop/software.html#freewin.
"Christian Computing Magazine", www.ccmag.com.
CCMag discussion newsletter, ccmag-subscribe@....
Thousands of Free Christian graphics at http://www.christiangraphicdesign.com/premierinfo.htm

Secular News on Kiev and Ukraine will give you interesting views at . . .
   www.kyivweekly.com
   www.kievpost.com
   www.kyivpost.com
   www.ukrainenews.com