11/28/2017

QUESTION: Who was a mentor for you in your practice of giving? What did they teach you or show you?

Brave Women Manifesto: “I will yield my financial resources to the Lord’s work.”


Generosity is 
a way of seeing,
a way of thinking,
a way of living. 

Again today Lord, we surrender ourselves to you. Shape us gently, as you always do, to have your generous mind and heart. Show us your way for us O Lord.  

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers.... The Lord’s message rang out...—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8  

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also...teach others.” 1 Timothy 2:2


One day I found my dad in the garage at his workbench. 

"What are you doing?" I asked. 

His answer forever changed the way I thought about giving.

I'm not sure if i remember this perfectly, but the impact has stayed with me. 

I grew up solidly middle-class. Two working parents; homeowners, mom a teacher and dad a Manufacturing Plant Manager. We had annual vacations and birthday parties. We went out to eat on the weekends. We were not poor. 

Both were always serving in our church with the kids/youth (so they could be around us more and know our friends). Dad helped in church leadership and administration. After my brother and I were out of the house, my dad mentored and "discipled" other men. He has the spiritual gift of helps. When mom retired from teaching she became a women's ministry director. 

Growing up I assumed that all Christians practiced "tithing," setting aside 10% of their income as a gift to the Lord's kingdom. I learned later that historically, this "tithe" was actually a Jewish tax in a theocratic government. A new testament view of giving was not bound by a percentage. 

I knew my parents "tithed" to their church. They also supported a few individual missionaries and ministries that share our "good news" Gospel. Then one day I found my dad in the garage at his workbench. I must have been around 7th or 8th grade.

"What are you doing?" I asked as I walked up to see him with one of his shoes in his hand, and a piece of an old belt in the other.

"I'm fixing a hole in my shoe."

"Dad. You can't afford new shoes?"

"I can, I'd just rather spend my money in other ways."

I knew what he meant without asking. I watched him working with the glue and the shoe for a moment, and then asked, "Do you ever find it hard to give 10% away?"

"Ten percent is easy." He said and I watched forming my next question, daring myself to ask.

"How much to you actually give dad?"

"This year we're aiming for one-third." He said. "But I dont' think we'll make it. We're not legalistic about it."

"A THIRD!??!"

"There's just so much work to be done." he answered. "Can you think of a better way to spend money?" 

We never talked about it again. I'm guessing it wasn't always that much. Especially when he switched to Real Estate and the market went south (Helping them out with "their affairs," I now know their "net worth"). It's not nearly as much as their value to others. They are surrounded by Christians who love them. Meals come to the house every week, and more than that I'm sure. They have been faithful and God has always provided for them. He always will.


GOT TIME FOR A COMMENT? 
Who was a mentor for you in your practice of giving? What did they teach you or show you?




This was also posted at theriverhopes.blogspot.com where Lyn Woodruff left a comment:

LynNovember 27, 2017 at 1:03 PM

The taboo about talking about money and in particular, charitable giving, in our culture (does anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George argue about finding out what each of them is leaving for a tip so as not to look stingy)???....left me utterly without a mentor as to how to create a generous spirit. It was not until I was awakened from transactional Christianity (doing, saying the right things to stamp my passport to a place called heaven) to transformational Christianity (understanding that Jesus came in the flesh not just for my personal salvation, but to move the WHOLE world forward in His resurrected power) that my spirit was moved to see just HOW MUCH there is in the world for each of us to bring THIS HOPE INTO HISTORY....to teach and heal as Jesus did!!! As His disciples, Jesus taught the parables of the Unwise Steward, Talents, and Poor Widow to show us how to move the world forward.....and reconcile it all to Him, by giving volume (generously), value (our best), variety (our treasure, talents, and time) and vigorously (enthusiastically). That has changed everything for me!!


11/18/2017

Why this boring infographic? Come on Creasmans! It’s the HOLIDAYS!!!



Why this boring infographic?? 

Because I want you to take in the information. 

It will probably surprise you.

Continent by continent, it shows how likely a person in 2010 was to have personal contact with a follower of Jesus

What are the chances 
a person who doesn’t know a Christian 
will hear the gospel?

While Jim has gone to Vietnam numerous times this year, I have been learning more about local outreach in the LA area and studying the values of my home culture. 

In 2017, what do American (Californian) Christians care about when it comes to Mission & Outreach?
Answer: It seems we’re pretty overwhelmed by all the needs close to home. Then there are huge problems of human trafficking and war and natural disasters which all require relief efforts. 
For the most part 21st century American Christians are most concerned about causes that help people in their temporal suffering. 
The kind of suffering that good people everywhere (and of any belief system) want to help with.

As Christians, we have a worldview that we are eternal beingsLife as we know it here in this messed up world is an immeasurably small part of our existence. Depending on each individuals’ response to Jesus’ invitation to follow him, eternal suffering or abundant life - happily ever after - follows. 

Or do we still believe that?

We do.

The infographic here shows precisely why Jim and I chose this path of strengthening the church in Asia (It's not because we like Chinese food). 

Also consider: ASIA's population is greater than the other five combined (not just 1/6 of the world's population).

Take a look at the odds of a person knowing that “God so loved the world that he sent his only son."

You know the rest of the verst. "Whoever believes on him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jesus’ words, John 3:16) 

Compared to other places in the world, those who live in Asia are still the least likely to have a chance to know Christ through contact with a Christian.

Jesus’ last words were, “Go…to the ends of the earth and make disciples,” Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19. 

At Thanksgiving, we are grateful for those who partner with us to strengthen the leaders of churches in Asia, so that we’ll improve their odds of knowing Jesus.

Thank you to our donors who have desired to invest in the growth and health of Christs’ church in Asia. For those who have felt like anything overseas is just too far away; that the needs here are so great, won’t you please consider contributing somehow in sharing the Gospel to those who are not likely to meet a Christian?


www.crmleaders.org/teams/ethne-asiamentors



Added 11/29: Encouraging women in our church to share with each other who their favorite ministries are I wrote down ours. 


As missionaries ourselves, who do we give to? 

For Jim and I, our priorities for our larger gifts each year are toward work that  focuses primarily on this "Great Commission" of Jesus. Especially in places where people are not likely to hear about him. 

We have six friends on a team in Turkey. I can't write down their names for security reasons. Since 1997 they've been making friends and sharing about ISA (Jesus) that they know of in their Koran. Because of the refugee immigration rocking that country (and some political reasons as weel), what has been "hard soil" for centuries is now "ripe for the harvest."  www.frontiersusa.org

Two missionaries we admire most are Bill & Robin Harris. They are more humble and Christlike than any two people we know. And they are both brilliant, productive world changers. They teach around the world, and are based at the Global Institute for Applied Linguistics. (Dallas, a school associated with Wycliffe Bible Translators). Their work inspires and teaches missionaries how to foster worship music that reflects local culture and hearts. How to use local art forms to communicate/express our good news: salvation and abundant life through Jesus. Around the world, and since the beginning of the church it is always a struggle for the missionary to put aside their own culture, to help the people they serve and know Jesus. At the River, we're learning about that in our study through Acts. Jewish believers had to embrace new freedom from the law and not expect Gentiles to follow their ways. When it comes to worship style, we've exported our culture in translating and importing our styles  www.worldofworship.org is making a huge difference in changing that.

11/17/2017

News from Jim in Vietnam: “What training do you need?” “Everything!”


October was a very fruitful month in Vietnam. The groups I work with are all so appreciative for, and many times moved by, the training and things we learn together. That is what drew me most to Vietnam - the lack of leadership development resources and their eagerness to learn and grow.
In 2017 I arranged and took 4 trips of 3-4 weeks each. Every time I come to Vietnam, I lead training for Christian leaders.
I give them exercises for personal reflection and for small group discussion. As they grow spiritually, their community of peers grows closer. This teaches them to listen to the Lord and learn from one another, and guards them from depending too much on my input and on their individual experience.
When we talk about challenges and solutions for reaching lost people and growing disciples in their faith, invariably the primary answer to every problem is
We need training!
What training do you need?
Everything!
What training have you received?
Nothing!
Training Topics and Training Groups
As I delve deeper about specific needs, these are the things that are most frequently mentioned:
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Discipleship
  • Teamwork
  • Conflict resolution
  • Counseling
  • Organization
  • Communication
Christian leaders repeatedly tell me that the Vietnamese Church is strongest in education and evangelism. Most people go to sunday school where they are taught the Bible, and many people are making decisions for Christ.
However, many practical skills like counseling, management, and leadership are weakest. 
So growth in discipleship and service is lagging.
Bible school only teaches bible and history, not skills.  Leaders are asking me for practical help in these areas, starting with the pastors, but also for the volunteer leaders.
Here are some of the groups I have visited repeatedly over the years, normally with 2-3 day retreats/seminars during my visits.  I hope to visit with each group twice in the next year, and with leaders of each group individually on each of my planned four trips.
  • Senior pastors
  • House church pastors
  • Marketplace ministry leaders
  • Denominational committee
  • Nationwide youth ministry leaders
  • Provincial church planting leaders
  • Mid-career pastors
  • Deacons of large churches
  • Specialized ministry leaders like media, children, bible school, and community service
Looking for partners for 2018 trips
It was tremendously helpful having two missionary colleagues with me for part of the time, bringing their expertise in the training and sharing the load for teaching and for interacting with all the Vietnamese leaders.
For my trips in 2018, I'm looking forchurch leaders, and ministry leaders to join me. It has been humbling and exciting to have such an influence over these dear Vietnamese leaders. But I need help! Through relationships with key leaders over the past 6 years, we are strengthening the Church in Vietnam.
If you have a training area of expertise, or a particular interst in one of the training groups in Vietnam I mentioned, please email me to talk about the possibility of joining me on a future trip.
I appreciate your prayers for my trips, for partners to join me, and for the many faithful and earnest Vietnamese Christian leaders who want to see their followers and churches grow in their faith and witness.
2018 trips: January, April, September, November
Thank you and may God bless you for investing in the true hope of the world: The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Jim & Kimberly Creasman
Click on this link to join us financially in our ministry!  https://staff.crmleaders.org/Creasman
All of our salary and benefits (like medical insurance), as well as our ministry expenses (like my plane tickets), comes from donations, and 90% of the donations come from individuals like you.
Without your support, we could not be serving to develop churches and leaders in Asia as we have been for these past 20 years.  THANK YOU!

Church Resource Ministries:
1240 N Lakeview Ave, Ste. 120, Anaheim, CA 92807. You may sign up for EFT, or designate on a check: "preferenced for Creasman-acct 5651" (800) 777-6658 ext. 122
Reunited after a month apart! Kimberly is blogging at charminfullbloom
Thanking God for you and wishing you and family a blessed Thanksgiving!
Tyler and Cameron come home for the holidays. December 20-26 will be a happy reunion in San Pedro!

10/15/2017

A taste of heaven...

I love to raise my voice and hands with a couple thousand equally passionate followers of Jesus. #expectation2017 @jonathanhesler


10/14/2017

#carepackage 1 to a special Co-ed



#carepackage 1 was a Notebook to store the snail mailed “Letters to College.” 

Have you received any to store in the “from boys” category yet? I wont # S L O and embarrass you 🙃1 week till #parentsweekend #familyweekend !!!! 

#fairygodmother K!M

10/11/2017

Ok. Decided: Last sad episode tonight.


via Instagram

Binging #13reasonswhy while @asiabruin is away and I’m missing @cameron.creasman @tcreas and other “adopted” young adults* who have made my life full and interesting. #stillalive #finish2017 #teenangstforever #emptynest *Yes, you know who you all are!

10/10/2017

News from Jim in Vietnam...for the month of October!


Forward icon
“After last training, very excited! Many, many new!” 
In Vietnam last Thursday, I was having dinner with pastor Neil and his wife Christy, after a week of training.  They had a happy glow. It came from gaining new ideas and skills and vision. Pastor Neil had been with me for two other trainings this year. His wife had asked if she could come this time too, because he was so motivated by what he had learned.
They had traveled with two others on a 10 hour bus ride from their province. The majority of the two dozen participants had traveled 4-10 hours, some by bus, some by car.  Those who lived closer came by motorbike. Three quarters were pastors, some were lay leaders. This was the third training we have done together this year.
I asked Christy what the role of the pastor’s wife was in the church.
"All the women come to me for counseling,"  she answered.
She has no training for this.  She has taken online Bible training, but she has not found any counseling training in Vietnam. She asked me if I could arrange some counseling training. She would love to bring together pastors’ wives for the training. 
Anybody able and willing to join me next year and lead a training like that?
Training Topic: Teamwork and Listening
The month of October has me back in Vietnam again. Two CRM Asia colleagues joined me on this trip. We are training in teamwork, and the coaching skills of listening and asking questions.
Leaders too often rely on one way communication: talking. We often miss the opportunity to develop our people and develop greater trust with them.
Being a better listener is an important skill for a good leader.
One pastor / 48,000 people!
In Pastor Neil’s province, there are 42 churches and 25 pastors among a population of 1.2 million people. This means one pastor for every 48,000 people. Pastor Neil pastors two churcheswith a combined 7,300 people. He alternates weeks preaching in these churches.
Another participant this week is Pastor Moe. He and three other pastors came from a province with 200 churches and 50,000 Christians, but only 67 pastors.  Pastor Moe rotates between three churches, going to one each week.
These dear brothers and sisters love the training opportunity. They show us tremendous affection and appreciation for what we bring to help equip them for leading a growing church!
  • This week I received so many invitations to visit various provinces and speak in churches.
  • One invited me to travel to Cambodia. They want me to meet with denominational leaders of Vietnamese churches in Cambodia. They also want training for youth ministry leadership.
  • Another invitation was to start a new mentoring group for mid-career pastors in Vietnam. Current denominational leaders believe these pastors may be the nation's key Christian leaders in the next 5-10 years.
Please pray for continued growing relationships and wisdom in bringing training. Also pray for the Lord to give me strength and discernment in which opportunities to pursue.
I will be here until the end of October.  And please pray for Kimberly while I am away, and for our parents in Orange County.
Thank you and may God bless you for investing in the true hope of the world: The Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Jim & Kimberly Creasman
If you would like to donate to our ministry, please click here: https://give.crmleaders.org/staff
All of our salary and benefits (like medical insurance), as well as our ministry expenses (like my plane tickets), comes from donations, and 85% of the donations come from individuals like you. Without your support, we could not be serving to develop churches and leaders in Asia as we have been for these past 20 years.
Church Resource Ministries:
1240 Lakeview Ave, Ste. 120, Anaheim, CA 92807 USA. You may sign up for EFT, or designate on a check: "preferenced for Creasman-acct 5651" (800) 777-6658 ext. 122
Kimberly has always been a cheerleader. She's encouraging, connecting people, writing & mobilizing. Not for sports, but for outreach & ministry. She's blogging at charminfullbloom and helping theriverhopes. She's missing all THREE of her men in October!
Jim and Cameron recently met up in Tennessee to attend a UCLA football game. Hosted in the parents section for the Memphis Tigers. Football player Zane was one of Cameron's teammates in High School Football at King's Academy.
K's mom the retired PE teacher and Women's Ministry director still loves watching sports and reading the Word of God! Dad Chuck took a trip to visit family in GA, so Kim and Sue had 5 days alone together!

10/09/2017

Hearing from God and How Sin Affects Us

(Written for The River Women Prayer Prompt Text Devotional)


John 14:26, 27 Jesus said:
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
We've had a week of lament after the tragedy in Las Vegas. It brought us to our knees, and caused us to grieve so many of things wrong with our world. 

On this Sunday, a new week has begun, and we had a wonderful morning of worship both at the beach and Norris. Happy kids and families experienced "the conservatory," our new venue for them.

Yesterday we know of 31 in our community were involved in outreach (because that's how many were at the LA Mission and Young Life Great LA training Summit). 

My guess is that many others were elsewhere bringing hope, being a light for the truth of new (meaningful & eternal) life in Jesus Christ.

We know that the Holy Spirit is at work in and through us!

Lynn and Denise told me this week: Three of our women's Bible studies INDEPENDENTLY chose to focus on the topic of hearing from God. 

Hmmm…
I'm not in any of these Bible studies right now. But, Susan Litwiller (another prayer prompter) and I are reading a book on this topic. Anyone else reading/studying hearing from God?

We have united hearts in desiring to be so intimate with God that we can "hear" him speak - or know when he is leading/guiding!

Here's some more about hearing from God…

Psalm 66:18 says,

"If I had cherished sin in my heart the Lord would not have listened."

If we are living in a way where our thoughts and actions are contrary to God's ways (made clear for us in his word and through our conscience), 

all we will "hear" from God is his prompting to give up those things which have entangled us. 

Sin keeps us from hearing. 

The last couple years I've been doing a lot research about spiritual strongholds of sin. That's why Lyn asked me to write prayer prompts to reveal and lead us to confess different ways we may be sinning.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:8-10 ESV


The Brave Woman Manifesto* addresses confession and being transformed and renewed by his cleansing power:
  • I will allow God to transform my life through renewing my mind in the Word each day. (Romans 12:2) (#7)
  • I will confess my sin before God daily before bringing my requests before Him. (Hosea 14:2; Psalm 5:3, 66:18) (#8)
  • I will be honest about my issues with God and seek His help (and counseling when needed) for
    overcoming sin, strongholds, and addictons. (Psalm 51, Romans 12:3) (#11)
  • I will seek God for a changed heart before trying to change my circumstances. (Ezekiel 36:26) (#18)
  • I will allow God's power to be made perfect in my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:19) (#40)
  • I will put on the full armor of God as I fight against the enemy of God and not the people of God. (Ephesians 6:10-19) (#51)
*Our recent prayer prompts have been inspired by The Brave Woman Manifesto. You can download the 52 "I will…" statements from "The Brave Woman Manifesto" (Elisa Pullman) @ www.moretobe.com/brave-woman/" #putoffputon