Greetings from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City!
I believe that God is faithful to provide our needs. The challenge for many of us may be to learn the difference between needs and desires. This is not an easy task for people who live in a society constantly working to entice our appetites. As God’s people we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” What can this prayer mean in a society where it is so easy for most of us to acquire bread? Perhaps for many of us the heart of this prayer is, “Lord, teach me to be satisfied with what you provide.”
Some years ago, I took a group of pastors to a nearby Abbey for prayer retreat. The monk who hosted us was so kind and gracious. The accommodations were simple but sufficient. After giving orienting instructions, the brother said, “Now, if you discover that you have forgotten to bring something please let one of us know … and we will teach you how to get along without it.” He was offering us some perspective on the difference between need and desire.
My assignment as president of NTS includes the responsibility to lead us in gathering financial resources for the execution of our mission. Looking at the big picture, it is a daunting task. Yet, the Lord continues to assure me that this task can be entrusted to a God who is willing and able to provide. One recent experience was a powerful reminder of this.
While waiting to speak to a group of pastors and their spouses, the district superintendent invited us to share prayer request around our tables and then pray for one another. When it came to me, the request I articulated was that God would help me to trust Him for these resources and not become fearful or anxious. We prayed around the circle. When we said “Amen” and I was preparing to stand up to preach, I noticed a note had come to my phone from a friend. He was telling me that he had been asked to steward a gift from an elderly lady whom I had the privilege to pastor many years ago. It was a gift of long-held stock that turned into a substantial endowed scholarship for seminary students.
Can you understand the connection I made between that note and our prayer? It is as if I heard the Lord say to me, “Trust me, I will provide what is needed.” I am grateful for the Spirit’s gift of peace and assurance. And, I am grateful for the obedient generosity of God’s people. At NTS, we are witnessing God’s provision through God’s people and we are working hard to steward these resources faithfully. I was able to report to our Board recently that our financial position is stable and balanced as we live within our means and trust God for the ability to grow.
Thank you for your support in conversation, in prayer, and in giving. We are grateful for your partnership in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The peace of our Lord,
Jeren Rowell, President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry
Nazarene Theological Seminary