A Book Review: The Fifty Years’ Ministry of an Ordinary But Remarkable Man: Called, Chosen, Faithful

Outlining and a Book Review

Outlining a biography provides practice of this important pre-writing, comprehension and study skill. Marilyn Alexander wrote of her husband, Jeffrey Alexander’s Fifty Years of Ministry with the purpose of informing his family, friends and others of how God has used this man for fifty years.

When teaching students to outline include an introduction to MS Word or other word processor’s outlining feature. For beginners using the chapter titles and other headings provide a great introduction. Later, you should require more detailed information. Also, at some point a student should experience using parallel structure in the outline. Marilyn Alexander provided examples of parallel structure in her headings as the same parts of speech appear in a pattern. Repeating words and phrases work in outlines.

The Fifty Years’ Ministry of an Ordinary but Remarkable Man:

Called, Chosen, Faithful

By Marilyn Alexander

I. Part One – Called

A. Chapter One – Called to Salvation Through “Call-ege” # 1 1943-1962

1. Born on October 25, 1943 in Denver, Colorado to Alex and Verdonna Alexander.

2. Called to Salvation – at age 6 in an American Sunday School Union Sunday School held at an elementary school in what is now Lakewood, Colorado.

3. Called to Conviction – His father showed conviction when comparing the teaching of God’s word with what he heard at a denominational church. His father led the family to South Sheridan Baptist Church (SSBC). Under the ministry of Ed Nelson, God called Jeff to preach.

4. Called to “Call-ege” #1 – Ed Nelson encouraged Jeff to attend Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. God provided the finances for the first semester through his work at a supermarket and a warehouse man for the summer. Further, God supplied for the second semester with a gift from a family that had saved a sum of money and had given it to the Lord.

5. Called to Serve Servicemen – Jeff took every opportunity for ministry during his college days and beyond. On one occasion he went to the Christian Servicemen’s Center in Augusta, Georgia. Here he preached his second sermon and God protected them from a probable fatal collision with a train on their way back to campus.

6. Called to Preach – Jeff received his first license to preach on June 1, 1962 for a three month summer ministry with Gospel Fellowship Mission.

B. Chapter Two – Called to “Call-ege” # 2 – 1962-1963

1. Encouraged to study at Baptist Bible College -Summer Ministry did not provide finances for another year at BJU. New leadership added to Jeff’s interest in BBC – New president – Jack Hyles and new vice president – Ed Nelson. This leadership lasted only one year.

2. Called to the Candy Kitchen – Jeff worked at night at Russel Stover Candies and attended classes at Baptist Bible College during the day. He lived at home.

3. Called to Artistry – Jeff began to use his artistic abilities at area churches doing chalk art and preaching.

4. Called to Sugar City – SSBC licensed Jeff for a summer ministry.

C. Chapter Three – Called to Sugar City – 1963

1. Called to a small town in southeastern Colorado – Jeff attended services in Crowley and preached in Sugar City on Sunday afternoons. People came from Crowley and Ordway.

2. Called to trust God for provisions – a place to stay, a refrigerator, food, help with the vehicle.

D. Chapter Four – Called to “Call-ege” # 3

1. Called to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (PBBC) in Minnesota – encouraged to go by Ed Nelson and Dr. Monroe Parker (from PBBC) – small school, plenty of opportunities to serve the Lord.

2. Called and Using His Car – Jeff sold his old car to pay for college expenses. His dad gave him the family car. Soon God was using that car to get Jeff and others to ministry assignments.

3. Called to More Preaching – Chicago and other cities in Illinois, other area churches.

4. Called to Do More Art Work – In his preaching opportunities as well as for school drama productions.

5. Called to Use Other Talents – parts in plays and humorous monologues.

6. Called to Date His Wife-to-Be – Marilyn and Jeff, merely aware of each other during their junior year, began to date during their senior year. Jeff’s credit count fell short so he had to take summer school and wait a year to graduate. After summer school, Jeff returned to Colorado, their future uncertain.

E. Chapter Five – Called to Pastor At Galeton, Colorado – 1965-1968

1. Galeton, Colorado, located 14 miles northeast of Greeley with barely a population of 100. This calling marks the beginning of Jeff’s 50 years of ministry.

2. Pastor Ed Nelson invited Jeff to his office where two deacons from Galeton Baptist Church waited. They wanted him to preach until they had a pastor. After a couple of months, they wanted him to be the pastor even though he intended to go to seminary eventually.

3. Called to Ordination – March 17, 1966

4. Called to Reunite – Graduation at PBBC

a. Marilyn, teaching music at PBBC, received advice – write to tell him that she looked forward to seeing him at graduation.

b. Jeff arrived in a brand new red mustang – that did it for Marilyn.

c. Marilyn visited Colorado and Jeff’s family in July, 1966.

d. While driving back to Denver having done some sightseeing Jeff said, “I want to marry you.”

She asked, “Are you asking me?

After a moment, evaluating whether this was the time and place, he said, “Yes, will you marry me?”

Marilyn said, “Yes!”

On the way back they planned the wedding.

e. His salary of $50.00 per week would not provide for a wife. He continued preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays, moved back to Denver to live with his grandmother and worked at a shoe store.

5. Called to Small Town – well treated by all, especially by servers at a café until he went with Marilyn. No more special treatment.

6. Called to Marry – June 10, 1967 – Plymouth Baptist Church, Plymouth, Minnesota.

7. Called to a Busy First Month of Marriage – after a short trip home / honeymoon, they had to get back so that Jeff could officiate at a wedding- 8 days after their own. Jeff’s parents celebrated 25 years of marriage 13 days after they Jeff and Marilyn were married.

8. Called to Enjoy Ministry -Music and Fellowship and Punctuality lessons.

9. Called to More Education -Marilyn taught piano and organ lessons at PBBC in Denver. Jeff took a class at BBC during that time.

10. Called to Even More Education – Symptoms of pregnancy in 1968 prompted the Alexanders to move to Minnesota for seminary before children started coming. Jeff sold his mustang and purchased a car that could haul a U Haul.

F. Called to Central Seminary and White Bear Lake, Minnesota – 1968-1976

1. Called to Secular Work – to provide for family – shoe salesman and fabric warehouse driver.

2. Called to White Bear Lake, Minnesota – Pastor of Bellaire Baptist Church

3. Called to Lead Others – Many people associated with Central Seminary and PBBC ministered in the church.

4. Called to Support Missions – Jeff and Marilyn participated in monthly meetings of Twin City Association of the Minnesota Baptist Convention and Jeff held positions. During this time he learned of “Faith Promise” and it ignited a desire to support missions that never died.

5. Called to Good Training – At Central Seminary, Jeff learned of expository preaching and going first to the Word and then later to commentaries.

6. Called to Be Tested Sometimes -God provided the Alexander’s needs, often “in the nick of time.”

7. Called to Grow – Church grew so they had to vacate the attached “parsonage.”

8. Called into Association with Others – Minnesota Baptist Association

9. Called Elsewhere- Bible Baptist Church, Terre Haute, IN

G. Called to Terre Haute, Indiana – 1976-1978

1. Called to Assist – Jeff wanted more experience learning from a more experienced Pastor. His job included Sunday School promotions and fundraising.

2. Called to Some Productive Fun – Fossil collecting -family fun and future rewards for Sunday School children.

3. Called to Loyalty – Pastoral staff resigned; Jeff was asked to consider to stay, but did not out of loyalty to the godly pastor.

H. Called to Evangelism and Lay Ministry – 1979-1990

1. Called to evangelism – January, 1990

2. Called to Trust God -When salary from Bible Baptist Church ceased, the Alexanders trusted God to provide through offerings. Marilyn wrote in a journal regarding those occasions when God supplied.

3. Called to Live in a “Hallway -”the 32 foot trailer that God provided for the growing family.

4. Called to Laugh with God at “What we don’t need is another kid.”

5. Called to Help -Helped Jeff’s mom after the death of her second husband and worked in the family construction company for several weeks.

6. Called to Remember the Good and Hard Times – Parking in a Pastor’s driveway between meetings caused some neighbor problems.

7. Called to Close Living – Children were growing up and needed some roots.

8. Called to Spacious Living – Jeff’s brothers were building a house for them in Lakewood, Colorado.

9. Called to Transition – Problems with the truck that hauled the trailer.

10. Called to Lay Ministry – Jeff and Marilyn led the senior citizens’ ministry at SSBC. Jeff became involved in the Colorado Association of Christian Schools.

II. Part Two / Chapter Nine- Chosen – 1979-1986

A. Turning Point – Jeff came to a turning point in his understanding of God’s Word.

B. Turning Point Topic covered in Jeff’s book: Predestined for Heaven? Yes!

C. Chosen as in Calvinism -

1. Total Depravity

2. Unconditional Election

3. Limited Atonement

4. Irresistible Grace

5. Perseverance of the Saints

D. Chosen in Spite of Self – “We love Him, because He first loved us.” I John 4:19

E. Chosen to Understand Through John 3:16 “God loved the world in this way (so)… ”

F. Chosen, Like Puritans – Arthur Pink, John Owen, Joseph Carroll

G. Chosen to Bless Others with Understanding – First, Marilyn, then daughter Karen and many more.

H. Chosen to Restraint -Teaching Sunday School at his church – though anxious to tell others (as are most new Calvinists), he didn’t want to cause trouble.

I. Chosen Amid General Misunderstanding – Most modern Baptists are unaware of their theological heritage.

J. Chosen to Give Out the Gospel – Since we do not know who God has chosen, we must declare the Gospel to all, trusting God with the rest.

K. Chosen to Give Forth the Gospel -Jeff wrote a gospel track following this outline:

1. God created us for His glory. Isaiah 43: 6,7

2. We are required to live for His glory. I Corinthians 10:31

3. We have failed to live for His glory. Romans 3:23

4. We are subjects of God’s just condemnation. II Thessalonians 1:9

5. God gave His only Son to provide salvation from this condemnation. I Timothy 1:15, 1 Peter 3:18

6. The benefits purchased by the death of Jesus Christ belong to only to those who repent of their sin and trust Christ for their salvation. Acts 3:19

III. Part Three – Faithful -It is God who is faithful.

A. Faithful in Lamar, Colorado: The First Few Years- 1990-1994

1. Faithful in Candidating – did not hide position, but that information did not get to all individuals on committee.

2. Faithful through the “Honeymoon.”

3. Faithful When Criticized

4. Faithful Though Maligned

5. Why did all the people leave?

6. Faithful by God’s Grace

7. Faithful with Humor

B. Faithful in Preaching and Writing – 1994-1999

1. Faithful: Preaching Style and Character

2. Faithful When Criticized and When Encouraged

3. Faithful in Studying Out Issues

4. Faithful in a New Position – Principal and Teacher at Lamar Christian School

5. Faithful Although Disfellowshipped -Eschatology

6. Faithful With the Faithful

C. Faithful as Attendance Declined – 2000-2003

1. Faithful in Debate with a National Figure – Robert L. Sumner – The Biblical Evangelist

2. Faithful in the Face of Criticism

3. Faithful in Subsidiary Ministries – cooking, men’s community Bible study

4. Faithful to His Philosophy of Ministry.

D. Faithful in New Pursuits – 2004-2009

1. Faithful with Additions to the Family – through foster care.

2. Faithful Despite Decline -moving to smaller building to save expenses.

3. Faithful in Working at a Church Plant – Garden City, Kansas.

4. Faithful in Missions – missionaries connected with Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals

E. Faithful to the Fifty Year Mark – 2010-2015

1. Faithful to the Garden City Church – had to discontinue, hopeful for future work.

2. Faithful in More Personal Wrestling – “I think sometimes God brings to the brink in order to show us ourselves and our need for Him. Being discouraged motivated my study of the Word.” P. 175

3. Faithful When God Encouraged

4. Faithful With the Faithful in Lamar

5. God Is Faithful!

This book provides great encouragement for every called and chosen one (i.e. Christian) to be faithful during times of encouragement and discouragement. God is faithful!

Maggie Dail offers online services through the Center for Neuro Development and Family Academy Online. She and her husband, Ronnie, make their home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Center is affiliated with Academy Northwest and Family Academy. They home schooled two foster sons and have worked with home schooling families for over 20 years. Maggie earned her M.A. in Special Education in 1989 and has taught for nearly 40 years.

Bi-Vocational Ministry – Some Thoughts on Full-Time Ministry and Secular Employment

Any discussion of full-time ministry in the early centuries of the Church will sooner or later have to touch on the biblical precedent of Paul’s practice. It seems to challenge much of the current understanding in the church about full-time ministry. Before we come to look specifically at Paul’s practice, let me make some introductory remarks.

What is Full-time Ministry?

The New Testament understanding of ministry is that all followers of Jesus are now ministers of the gospel of the Kingdom. In addition, the biblical worldview does not make a distinction between the spiritual and what we describe as secular. At Creation, God sanctified work and gave our ancestors the task of tending the earth and looking after it. As followers of Jesus, all work is spiritual and all that we do is committed to extending the Kingdom of God here on earth. If you are a full-time follower of Jesus, then you are a full-time minister of the gospel.

It is interesting to note that when Jesus ‘called’ Peter and Andrew and then John and James, as they were fishing, they left their nets and followed him. (cf. Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20) He said to them that he would now make them fishers of men. Did they now become full-time ministers? The answer is – YES. However that did not mean that they gave up fishing for we find soon after that they were back fishing together with Jesus in the boat. The only aspect that probably had changed was their priorities – it had changed from fishing for fish to fishing for people but they still fished for fish. When Jesus returned to his disciples after his resurrection, he found a group of them fishing and his response was again to redirect their priorities and specifically Peter’s priorities. (cf. John 21) We do not have evidence one way or the other as to whether they continued to fish after that; all we do know is that Paul does comment that Peter and James did receive support from the church. (cf. I Corinthians 9:7)

The implication of all this was that “normal” work is never seen as ‘second-best’. The opposite in fact is true – “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (cf. II Thessalonians 3:6-10)

Supported Ministry

We know very little of how Jesus was supported during his 3 years of ministry. Consistent with his Jewish background he would have probably followed into Joseph’s profession as a carpenter until he was 30 years old. We do know that on an occasion he was miraculously provided for in terms of paying the temple tax but besides that, we know nothing else. We learn that he did not have a home and in all likelihood, he was provided for the people with whom he worked e.g. his fishermen disciples, and we often find him eating meals with various people.

When Jesus sent his disciples out on a mission into Galilee, he said to them – “Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.”(cf. Mark 6:8; see also Matthew 10:9f and Luke 10:7) This tells us that they were to rely on those with whom they worked to supply for their needs, whether it is food, clothing or accommodation. In this context Jesus told them that a worker deserves his wages. It is however interesting to note that at the end of his time here on earth, as he prepared his disciples for the world-wide mission of the Church, Jesus said to them – ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it and also a bag [with other provisions]‘, (cf. Luke 22:36) This seems to suggest that from this point onwards the disciples must be self-sufficient financially. They needed to be prepared for every eventuality, one of which was lack of finances and dependence on others’ generosity. A study of early church history seems to conclude that as a general practice that for the first four centuries, the church prospered with a self-supporting ministry. It only changed with the Constantine era when all manner of destructive practices entered the organised church.

When we come to Paul’s writings, he does teach that Christian workers are to be supported. So he writes at some length on this in I Corinthians 9:7-18, getting to the kernel of the matter in verses 14 – “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” He however is quick to add what we find in verse 15 – “But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.”

We also find Paul teaching on the supported ministry in I Timothy 5:17,18 – “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain, and The worker deserves his wages.”

Thus supported ministry is a reality but it is not the consistent pattern of the New Testament church. Peter, Andrew, James & John remained fisherman after Jesus called them. Paul remained a tentmaker.

Paul’s Practice

Let us consider the following passages regarding what Paul taught various groups:%uF0B7 Acts 20:33-35 → I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.%uF0B7 Acts 18:3 → Paul went to see Aquila and Priscilla, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.%uF0B7 I Thessalonians 2:9 → Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

We know from Paul’s own words that throughout his missionary journeys he was determined, as a matter of deliberate strategy, to be self-supporting. Thus writing from Ephesus to Corinth he says: ‘To the present hour … we labour, working with our own hands.’ * Likewise, he reminded the Christians in Thessalonica in the passage quoted above: ‘You remember our toil and labour, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you while we preached to you the gospel of God.’

In both cases, Paul speaks in the plural (‘we’), thus implying that his companions (Timothy, Titus, Silas and the others) also engaged in manual work. Quite specifically, he cites Barnabas as ‘working for a living’ with him. This consistent apostolic strategy was to cause much misunderstanding and criticism, quite apart from its physical demands – as the Corinthian correspondence bears vivid testimony. Why did Paul so obdurately stick to this practice? – Particularly as there existed a well-accepted ‘command of the Lord’ that ‘those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel’.

This question can be answered in several complementary ways, especially in the light of a number of recent studies into early church history. Current interest in the economic and social status of the first Christians has resulted in a great deal of attention being paid to Paul’s means of support. All this has revolutionized our perception of the significance of Paul’s manual labour.

At one level, the question can be answered on purely pragmatic grounds: it was futile to hope to win converts and to found a church if the church planter expected to be kept at the hearers’ expense. All the signs are that Paul’s earliest converts were largely from amongst the urban poor. If he had insisted on his right to financial support, the church in Corinth might never have been founded – so great would have been the financial obstacle to his message being received. As he remarks

“We have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ … in my preaching I make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.” (cf. I Corinthians 9:12,18)

If the bulk of Paul’s prospective 1st Century congregation were the urban poor, how much more so is this in the 21st Century, and this particularly so in South Africa, where urbanisation is rapidly on the increase. If the support of full-time Christian workers is going to be the need in order to get the gospel preached, we are going to be severely limited in our impact. To expect the ‘urban poor’ to finance this is unrealistic if not downright immoral, especially considering the means used to extract finances from such people.

I make mention of Paul’s practice being a deliberate strategy in terms of not allowing finances to hinder the presentation of the gospel. In Acts 18:1-4, another aspect of this strategy becomes evident – After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

With this contextual evidence, it is therefore no flight of fancy to suppose that Paul used his workshop as a focal point for evangelism – literally gossiping the gospel while he worked. That at least is a sense allowed (though not required) by his conjunction of the two phrases, ‘We worked night and day … while we preached to you.’ Should we think of Paul busily stitching his leather seams while he expounded the Christian gospel? His silent craft certainly permitted that! Patrick Vaughan makes a pertinent point when he writes – Indeed the fact that ‘handkerchiefs’ and ‘aprons’ were ‘carried from his body’ to heal the sick seems to imply that people were with him while he worked in his workshop at Ephesus. (cf. Acts19:12) In passing we may note what hard manual work was involved: as he gossiped with them, Paul’s forehead may have been glistening with sweat – for the word so politely translated ‘handkerchief’ really means’ sweat-band’!

The report of Paul going first to the tentmakers when he arrived in Corinth may well have been a consistent strategy for him in gaining access to other people. After all he was able to offer a professional service where he was in regular contact with the townsfolk. To a great extent his preaching was more in the form of dialoguing rather than our limited understanding of that term. He was able to communicate in the ‘language’ of the tentmakers thereby overcoming one the major hindrances to the gospel’s presentation.

The Keys of the Kingdom

In Matthew 16:18 and 19, Jesus outlines his strategy for kingdom extension – On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you [my followers] the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” What we know is that Jesus is committed to building his church he will do that, we have no doubt about.

However he has given us a task as well, a calling if you like. That calling to take the keys of the kingdom and to use them to open doors in our lives that will bind and loose things on earth. There are people and situations that only I have access to – I have been given the kingdom keys – and God is looking to me to open these doors. You may be a teacher in a school – you have a mission field among learners and educators that no one else has. Another may be an accountant in a firm – you speak their ‘language’ and that enables you to communicate accurately and effectively in bringing the gospel first in deed and then if necessary in word.

A Question of Calling

Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 7:17 – each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. What are the implications of that? Calling is whatever God has given you to do. No calling is greater or less than another is – it all depends on whether God is in what you are doing. Whatever work you may do requires the power of the Holy Spirit to perform whether you are the CEO of a major company or the admin clerk in a small office. Calling is far greater than being a pastor, in the sense that ‘pastor’ is understood in the modern era.

In Acts 13:2,3 we read – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. To what work was Paul called? It was more than getting on a ship and sailing around the then known world and preaching – it involved this but much more like making tents.

Called to Business

For many the role of business people in the church is to provide finances for various church-based projects. That is a very limited understanding. A friend of mine is the CEO of a large company and as such he has a large group of people who, to some degree or the other, rely on him for their welfare. He relates how he is so conscious of the need to rely on the Holy Spirit to empower him to make right decisions so that his employees benefit. Many church organisations would probably do no worse than to support him financially as he extends the boundaries of God’s kingdom.

The Bible tells that to equip others for works of service and to set aside people for the work to which God has called them. We need to be commissioning business people to go out to ‘regions beyond’ to extend the kingdom in business and that these businesses may prosper so that more business-based church communities are birthed. A recent survey by George Barna in the USA, reveals that %2B22% of the population attend some sort of ‘spiritual’ gathering in their place of work each week. At the same time there is a 15% annual decrease in people attending ‘church’ in a recognised place of worship on a Sunday in the USA. For many who do no longer go to ‘church’ it is not because they have lost their faith in Jesus but it has been expressed – so that I can preserve my faith in Jesus. Churches (or other words, communities of Jesus-followers) needed to be birthed in company boardrooms, factory tea-rooms, school staffrooms, hospital wards.

Some Concluding Thoughts – Adapted from Patrick Vaughan

Within the first generation of Christian history, there were divergent views about apostolic support. There is ample evidence that some unscrupulous Christian teachers took improper personal advantage of hospitality customs and scrounged off their hearers. Paul and his associates therefore sought to avoid the possibility of this happening in their churches; so they determined to earn their own livelihood, rather than put any obstacle in the way of the gospel.

As the long story of Christian workers’ support unfolds, similar instances recur with them refusing to accept a salary and choosing the inconvenience of earning a living. Always the reason is the same: the missionary motive, sharpened by the nagging question ‘if we abide by the received financial structures, will the gospel ever be heard in some circles?’

Seen against this cultural background, Paul’s references to his manual work take on a number of entirely new significance. He chose to continue to tent-make, which for Paul became significant in a number of ways. First, his very self-understanding as an apostle is bound up with his work: ‘Am I not free? Am I not an apostle?’ he asks – and proceeds to answer with a discussion centring on his work (1 Corinthians 9). Secondly, his refusal of subsisting through free hospitality caused him much personal hardship. But this he willingly accepted, because this life-style embodied the ‘foolishness’ of the cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 4.8-16). Thirdly, he invited believers to imitate his practice: ‘Work with your hands, as we charged you’. (I Thessalonians 4:11) He demonstrated through his own life-style an application of the ideas he believed in – and was bold enough to invite imitators (1 Corinthians 4.16). Fourthly, his very trade and the workshop it required became a context for evangelism. Fifthly, although he never enunciated this, his work as an artisan posed a Christian challenge to the social divisions of Roman society.

Until recently Paul was chiefly studied and discussed for his ideas, his theology – without reference to his mode of subsistence (which was regarded as a peripheral matter!), But now, it has become clear that the one thing which holds discussion of Paul together is his work. Many earlier studies fell into the common trap of separating thinking from living, ideas from life, as it has to be lived out. But Paul’s thinking shaped his life-style, and conversely his life-style, and conversely his life-style helped shape his ideas. As an aside, one may ask how far Christians allow their work and their faith to dialogue with each other. The story of Paul suggests that work itself can be the integrating element in a life of ministry.

It was because of his trade, rather than his travels, that he constantly suffered hardship. And the hardship was not always physical. Much of it arose from verbal abuse and slander. For to many the work of an artisan was to be dismissed as ‘slavish’, beneath the dignity of any free man. Thus it was on account of his espoused artisan status that he was accused of being a false apostle!

To judge from his written reply to this accusation, it seems that Paul’s opponents criticised him for being ‘weak’, ‘foolish’, and ‘disreputable’ (1 Cor. 4.10). What precisely was being referred to by these terms? It now seems very likely that these critical rival leaders were referring to Paul’s scruffy appearance as a working artisan. For in the very next sentence, he refers to his labour, and acknowledges that he is ill-fed, ill-clad and homeless, indeed like ‘refuse’ or ‘offscourings’ (1 Corinthians 4.11-13).

So it was that central to Paul’s defence of his status as a true apostle was his defence of his practice of manual work. The arguments focused on the question of freedom: was he free or enslaved by his work? Paul admits that he could have taken a ‘reward.’ This would, of course, have freed him from the necessity of manual labour. But he argues that in not accepting support he was free. It can be concluded:

Paul’s affirmation of freedom is thus an unmistakable indication that he understood the issue of apostolic support in terms of the debate among intellectuals generally over the appropriate means of support … In reflecting on the nature of his apostolic commission, Paul brought in the matter of his means of support. Consequently he formulated his self-understanding as an apostle in such a way that his tentmaking was a constitutive part of it. That is, his trade allowed him to boast that he offered the gospel ‘free of charge’. This boast is thoroughly Pauline, a boast in his ‘weakness’ as an artisan, and very much in terms of the debate over the means of support befitting someone like him. This boast was sufficient ‘reward’ (i.e. salary) for Paul.

Many aspects of these bitter accusations and refutations have a familiar sound about them. Claims that self-supporting workers are ‘second-class’, that they do not have proper time to devote to ministry, that they are not real [pastors] at all – each sounds remarkable like the arguments of those who considered Paul a false apostle!

STAR – An Initiative by Indian Finance Ministry to Skill 10 Lakh Youth

Introduction -

Standard Training & Assessment Reward (STAR) Scheme has been proposed by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India to encourage the youth to voluntarily join the skill development programmes.

National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) has been entrusted with the task to implement the scheme through Public-Private, and Public-Public partnerships.

NSDC Star Scheme provides monetary incentives to the youth on the successful completion of market-driven skills development programmes. The scheme is likely to benefit more than 10 lakh youth.

Skill development courses -

The courses are designed & developed to train the selected youth on :

Industry recognized courses for diverse job roles across priority employment sectors such as Sales in Telecom and Organized Retail, Customer Service skills in BPO, Telecom Installation & Fault Repair, Telecom Tower Equipment Operations & Maintenance, Gems & Jewellery, etc. Many other courses have been recognized under NSDC Star Scheme.

These courses will enable the youth to take up the priority job-roles almost instantly and thus companies will no longer have to struggle with the growing shortage of skilled manpower.

Training providers -

NSDC along with its training partners – many of them are top-notch corporate training companies of the country – set-up the infrastructure, pick the candidates for the courses, and deliver high-impact training courses to enhance the employability quotient of the selected candidates. By the time candidates finish the programs successfully, they become job-ready and take up diverse job roles almost instantly. Some of the industries that absorb the skilled manpower include retail, insurance, and automobile.

Monetary rewards are passed on to the candidates on the successful completion of the programmes and certification thereafter. And it is the Ministry of Finance that funds these rewards.

Possible advantages -

For decades, India has not been able to take advantage of its growing young population. As of now, India is one of those very few countries which are blessed with a great number of workable youth; the irony, however, is that majority of the Indian youth do not possess the right skill sets to enter the job market.

Now that a stable government is in place, Indian economy has increased its pace. And thus, it’d need all the more manpower skilled enough to take up the diverse job roles across the employment priority sectors such as retail and telecom.

Financing Your Investment Properties

An investment property is a property (land, house, flat, apartment, building etc.) that you buy with the purpose of producing monetary returns. Financing your investment property can be a great way to earn some steady income. Many people buy homes with the aim of renting them and thereby bringing in a considerable amount of monthly income. Similarly, several real estate investors are there who pay for multiple properties, get them renovated and then sell them for a higher profit.

To start on the road to successful journey, there are three best ways to finance your investment on property. While you use them correctly, they can help you get a substantial amount of money from your property investments:

1. Self Financing:

It is much viable to make use of your own resources to buy the property. You will have to meet all the expenses yourself. Similarly, you will be liable for all profits and losses. Self finance is the easiest and reliable source of investing because this way you lower your accountability. This prevents you from going through lots of paperwork, adhering to the strict rules of financing companies and having to discuss your every move with your partner. You can do things liberally but it will be risky if you do not stay careful. However, by seeking advice from qualified experts, it is possible to use your resources properly and maximize the benefits.

2. Loan and Mortgages:

Normally banks, building societies and credit unions offer bank loans or mortgages as a way to finance your investment on property. Such institutions offer loan for a percentage of the purchase-price whereby keeping the property secured as guarantee for the loan. Depending on the interest rates fixed by the finance ministry or central bank, the loans or mortgages are held with either fixed interest rates or variable interest rates.

This way to finance a property investment really is the most established, safe and well-known. Not only you can make down payments but also meet other capital requirements. In addition, you can repay the bank from the amount you earn from rent or sales of properties.

3. Partnership:

Partnership with other investor is a great way to finance your investment on property.It is a win-win relationship for both parties whereby you divide the cost and share with other partners. Utilizing the assets of your helping hand will make your credit rating sky-rocket. Although you get restricted in decision-making process but there is less risk factor if you have the good business chemistry with your partner. Being able to master the art of partnership gives you the ability to finance as many property investments as you want.

Remember, a safe and reliable financing strategy affects your investment venture in the long run. Carefully consider all your options before you decide how to finance your property investments. Choose the right option that keeps your risks low, ensures a high rate of profit and works best for your interest.

The Future of Finance – A PhD in Mathematics With Focus on Computational Finance

The PhD in Mathematics with focus on Computational Finance does not have many degrees attached to it but rather combines into a vast field dealing in computational finance. Specialization is only possible with degrees in Finance, financial management, statistics, mathematics or business administration. The course itself involves learning mathematics, finance, statistics, business administration, financial management, which all form the fundamental basics.

A PhD in Mathematics with focus on Computational Finance holder can work as a financial adviser to major organization. They can also work as a policy maker for organization and businesses or as chief financial managers. Other outlets where lucrative jobs with a doctorate degree in this field is guaranteed is the banking sector, science related outfits like NASA, research centers, finance ministries, stock markets, etc.

The private and public sectors are always looking for the prospects that specialize in financial areas. In fact, a PhD in Mathematics with focus on Computational Finance is the best bet for anyone that is interested in guiding and directing the future of finance.

For working professionals, the amount of time needed to complete the requirement for a doctorate in this field does not always work with their busy schedule. With the ability to control the timing of the pace and completion time, the option to pursue the doctorate online seems to beat the traditional method.

An online doctorate in Mathematics with focus requires approximately 6 years of study; this includes research and preparation of a dissertation. While the dissertation and research can optionally be completed in absentia, the coursework requires a significant amount of time spent in a classroom. Regardless, very many accredited schools that offer PhD in Mathematics with focus on Computational Finance still reach out to gain the attention of those that are seeking to improve their ability to shape the future of finance on a global level. This is because the program provides any business leaders with the tools needed to change the old methods in financial field and provide leadership and education to those who follow them in the course of meeting their business needs.

It is never too late to start or pursue a dream. Find out how you can be actively involved in shaping the future of finance.