… holding fast the word of life, in order
that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
(Philip. 2:16, RSV and NIV)
The call of God to the Gospel ministry comes with overwhelming responsibilities. It is an awesome assignment that God gives to a messenger to deliver the message of eternal life and warn of eternal death if that message is rejected. The honors of such a calling are unquestionably amazing: the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the promises of the Word of God and the fruit of labors in those who respond.
But the burdens of the call are to be born patiently, humbly and faithfully. Looking back over my 63 years of ministry—44 in pastoring and 19 in renewal and evangelism—I must honestly confess that in the matter of my stewardship of the Gospel I do not feel like boasting of great exploits. But I want to continue my course in the fullness of the Spirit’s power and in that Day trust the One who will judge fairly.
Meanwhile, I am aware that the responsibility of my calling includes accountability. First of all, answering to God: with humble thanksgiving for His presence, power and provisions; with repentance in areas of weakness and failure; with faith to see the fruit of His promises; and with obedience without reservation. But, a messenger of the Gospel is also accountable to those humans in authority over him—the elders, leaders and those who pray for, encourage and support his/her ministry.
As an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, it is a privilege for me to report annually to the Rocky Mountain District Assembly. It seems pleasing to the Lord that the conduct of my moral and spiritual life, as well as the conduct of my ministry, be subjected to a biblical organization for either approval or reproof. As the founder and president of the corporation called Christian Renewal Ministries, I am pleased to report a few times each year to our Board of Directors: Dave & Marilyn Bos, Dr. Paula Butterfield, Greg & Rena Donaldson, Gail & Betty Fremont, Duncan & Susan Hill, Dr. & Mrs. Kyle McMurray. With regret, we recently received the resignations of Ben & Ruth Ann Smith, who because of inconvenience of distance and many business involvements felt the need to withdraw. But we are grateful that the Smiths continue to pray and support this ministry with their finances.
But while it is good to have the approval of the organized church and appropriate to have the scrutiny and supervision of a corporate board regarding finances and events of ministry, I also feel a moral and spiritual obligation to be accountable to you our Prayer Partners, Financial Contributors, Encouragers and Constructive Critics. While we are considered a “small evangelical operation,” I want each and all of you who show an interest in this ministry to know that every dollar received, every prayer prayed, every suggestion made, every note received is a cause for praise and thanksgiving! I consider you as valuable partners in ministry. I realize that I can make a difference in our world only by the grace of God and your prayerful partnership.
Events of the Year
Throughout the year we have held six events: five Schools of Prayer and one Revival Meeting. These took place in five U.S. states—Montana, New Mexico, Arkansas, Indiana and Oklahoma.
On September 29, I completed the first draft of my book, ESTELLE, the story of the great 1946 Arkansas Revival, prayed to pass by my dear mother. The original is 737 pages, so I am now in the process of reducing and refining this work. Please pray with me that I shall find a publisher that will accept it and give it wide distribution. Our purpose in writing it is to cast the vision for revival in our times.
I daily praise the Lord for bringing Shirley into my life. On January 1, 2009, I felt the Lord wanted me to write out the kind of companion I wanted and needed. Now I can thank Him for answering my prayer in a perfect way. Shirley is a delightful companion, a wonderful prayer partner, a helpful travel mate and a loving wife. God is so good to have given me a companion who is such a blessing in the home and out in the ministry as well as on the road.
I am also grateful for my daughter Pris Larsen. I could not ask for a more efficient Executive Assistant for all of the facets of Christian Renewal Ministries.
I’ve already listed our Board of Directors, but I wish to express my appreciation for their devotion to this ministry—their attendance in our called meetings, their prayers, their counsel, their encouragement and their financial giving.
I wish also to express appreciation to my son Steve Tharp for his technical expertise in preparing the journal for publication, maintaining our web site and assisting us with computer problems.
I am grateful to Vanessa McMurray for her leadership as our Director of the Big Sky House of Prayer. She is experiencing new vision and energy for making this important ministry a vital part of what God is doing here in the Gallatin Valley and around the world.
Our Greatest Need is Prayer!
¨ For the events ahead: South Alabama Preachers’ Institute (January 14 and 15); Evangelistic Services at the Temple Hill Community Church near Jamestown, Kentucky (March 25-27). Pray for spiritual anointing and physical strength. Pray for the hunger of the listeners and humility for recognizing the needs the Holy Spirit will reveal.
¨ For the extended influence of the Big Sky House of Prayer in Belgrade, Montana, and divine guidance in seeking to relocate.
¨ For the finishing and publishing of ESTELLE.
¨ For the funds to carry on Christian Renewal Ministries. I believe the Lord wants us to continue to be available to congregations who feel the need of being called to intercessory prayer, of deepening their relationship with the Holy Spirit and hungering for revival. I make no apology in asking people to consult with the Lord as to what He would have you contribute. Whether a one-time contribution or a regular monthly gift, we are grateful for whatever comes in. As long as people feel led to help us, we want to respond to any pastor or church for services, whether they can provide the needed honorarium or not. We do not put a price on our events, but accept whatever the people provide. But were it not for the contributions of our prayer partners and others, we simply could not meet the costs of travel for the meetings we take.
I urge each of you to pray about the enclosed card, mark where appropriate and send it back to us soon. Please do not fail to list your prayer requests on the back of the card. I take these requests seriously and list them in my Prayer Journal for consistent intercession all through the year.
May the entire new year be filled with God’s fullness in your life, making you powerful, faithful and fruitful!
James W. Tharp
Happy New Year!