Featured Article: War of Words

Andy Bonikowsky“They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaketh proud things:” (Psalm 12:2-3)

This twelfth psalm presents a real war of words. The opening statement is a cry for help from the author, describing a desperate situation. As he looked at the culture around him it appeared that true believers were rapidly becoming extinct. Godly people were harder and harder to find, and the company of faithful men was simply disappearing.

David chose to describe the conflict in the colorful arena of speech.

The early verses set the stage and define the two sides. The first protagonists were “every neighbor,” and their weapons, the flexible members inside and outside their mouths. Lips and tongue, each so vital to physical health and intelligent communication, were their supposed instruments of victory. With them they yelled, “Who is lord over us?”

In blatant provocation towards God, they proceeded in jesting, in boasting, and in flattering one another. As often happens, those who had the position and opportunity to do so, ultimately turned their tongues on the poor and needy. Society became one chaotic competition of proud human beings, venting their frustrations at one another and towards heaven.

Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? It is at that point in the song where the Lord breaks in with the words, “Now will I arise.” Then comes a beautiful definition of the other side. God’s words are pure, like the purest silver man can produce.

At first it may sound like odd language to bring into a battle scene, but the logic is as solid as it is eternal. This universe was brought into being and is maintained by the pristine Word of its Creator. There is nothing dirty about it nor does it ever lose control. The Word of God has always been and always will be characterized by beauty and almighty power.

We should not be surprised then, to see that when the incarnation happened the war reached a climactic level. As the Lord moved among enemies, bystanders, and followers, the battle raged with ferocious intensity. And yet, under a depth of pressures we cannot fathom, His speech was always the perfect mix of authority and grace.

What does all this mean for us? As tiny warriors in this same battle, our weapons are of the same nature. The words that shoot out through our lips should be like silver arrows as well. They should reflect the character of our Captain.

Most likely, you and I will converse with someone today. What we say and how we say it will come together to create a message. Every conversation will be part of this age old war between truth and error, a war that first started for us about the time Eve talked with the Snake.

So when we speak, what side of this conflict will we appear to be on?

Dear Father, thank you for making clear the nature of your Word. Thank you for the perfect consistency of your Son when He spoke among men. Help me keep a close watch on my speech today, so I can honor you like I want to, with pure and gracious words.

Prayers & Dates: February 2015

Click the link above to download a PDF of prayer requests and praises as well as the birthdays and anniversaries for February. Note: You will need to login to SecureCloud in order to view this document.  Once you have logged in, click on Files Shared, then Headquarter Happenings, then scroll to the month you would like to view. This step protects people with WWNTBM in restricted access fields.

Tax Time Reminders

Calculator with TAXES text  with calculation sheet backgroundTax season is once again upon us! Following are several reminders for our missionaries concerning tax issues that you may face. We trust that this information will be useful to you both in giving you a better understanding of your reports and helping you to be aware of items that may affect your personal taxes. Please be sure that you are following published guidelines when listing expenses on your financial reports. Thank you!

The Affordable Care Act and Your Taxes

This is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will affect your taxes in regards to your Health Insurance coverage. If you are enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should expect to receive a Form 1095-A from the Marketplace, which you will need to submit to your tax preparer. If you were not enrolled in the Marketplace, you may still need to discuss your Health Insurance plan with your preparer, as it is our understanding this will affect your tax return this year. Questions about this should be directed to your tax preparer.

Estimated Tax Payments

Missionaries are considered to be self-employed, and are therefore subject to self-employment taxes. Submitting quarterly estimated tax payments throughout the year will help to prevent having a large tax payment due each April. Estimated tax payments can be submitted on your own, or, if you are interested, you may contact our office for information on how we can submit them for you.

1099 Forms

If churches issued funds payable to you in excess of $600 during the year 2014, they may issue you a 1099 form. If those funds were either mailed to the office, or included on Line 2 of your MFR as extra income, they are already included in the total of your W-2. Our office can assist you in verifying if the funds were included on your W-2. Your tax preparer can assist you on your return in recording this so that you are not taxed twice on the same income.

Foreign Tax Exclusion

In order to claim the foreign tax exclusion, you must be out of the US for 330 days over a 12 month period of time; however, these days do not have to be in the same calendar year. In order to gain the full benefit of the foreign tax exclusion, your tax preparer may be able to revise your returns based on the actual time you have spent overseas. Because of this, it is vital to provide your tax preparer with all of your travel dates to and from the US. You may also wish to discuss with your tax preparer what dates would be the best travel dates when planning to leave for the field or return on furlough, as this could affect how much you are allowed to claim under the foreign tax exclusion.

Ministry Bank Accounts

If your ministry has been chartered and established as a non-profit organization, we recommend having your ministry get a bank account in its name. Funds for purchases such as land may be able to be sent directly to your ministry, thus eliminating your personal tax liability. Please note that there are limitations to this option. Of course, regular support could never be sent this way. Please contact our office for more information.

Tax Paperwork for those with Foreign Bank Accounts

US Treasury Dept. regulations require that if you have any foreign bank accounts, and if the sum total of all of your foreign accounts has ever been $10,000 at any given time during the past year, you must complete the IRS Form TD-F90-22.1, and give it to your tax preparer. This form, and further information about it, is available on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. It is our understanding that there have been several changes to these requirements in recent years, and you may also need to complete the new Form 8938. Please refer to the IRS website and your tax preparer if you have any questions.

The True Cost of Doing Your Own Taxes

Studies have shown that the average person who uses a tax professional, instead of filing their own taxes, receives a much greater tax return. When comparing the returns of those who self file vs. those who use a tax professional, it is estimated that a self-filer loses between $297 and $791 in missed refunds. The savings far exceed the amount spent to hire a professional. (Statistics taken from daveramsey.com.) We strongly recommend that all missionaries use a certified tax preparer who is familiar with special tax situations that affect missionaries. Contact the Office for a listing of tax preparers used by other missionaries.

From the Memo Board: February 2015

Upcoming Dates

March 1
January financial reports will be due. We will be sending out the 2015 Excel spreadsheet soon. however, you are welcome to submit reports on the 2014 spreadsheet if you wish to turn yours in sooner.

March 2
Adjusted pay date for those who usually receive funds on the 29th.

March 30
Adjusted pay date for those who usually receive funds on the 29th.

June 15-18
Family Fellowship Week in Greensboro, NC


New Equipment Information

Our Office maintains a database of depreciable equipment purchased by missionaries and included as an expense on their monthly financial reports. Our CPA has informed us that we no longer need to track purchases that are less than $500. Starting with January 2015 financial reports, please use Line 15 of the report to record depreciable equipment of $500 or more. Less expensive equipment can continue to be listed on Line 17 of the report. Thank you for your help with this!


Life Insurance

Did you know that most life insurance companies can automatically deny applicants who intend to move outside of the United States? However, most cannot drop you for foreign travel if you have had a policy in place for at least 2 years. Therefore, we encourage all missionaries to obtain a life insurance policy as soon as possible while you are on deputation, so that you will have one in place before leaving for the field.

From Our President: February 2015

Danny Whetstone“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:” 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6

The gospel came to Thessalonica when Paul on his second missionary journey was led of the Lord to take the gospel to regions beyond Troas.  When the gospel came it was not “in word only.” It came in word, power, the Holy Ghost, and much assurance. We have been called to deliver the gospel of our Lord to every creature. However, we do a disservice to those that He has sent us to if we deliver it in “word only.”  We need the power of God. This power is available to us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit as promised in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that he was delivering the absolute truth. These early missionaries were full of assurance concerning the eternal truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We must exercise great caution that our ministries are not reduced to only words that are not taken forward by the ministry of the Holy Spirit through us. Our labor for the Lord deserves a professional presentation, but as Paul did not depend on his amazing training and education, neither can we lean entirely on ours. Electronic libraries make it easier than ever before for us to put together a “sermon.” Sermons can become messages when breathed on by the power of God.

Paul said, “And ye became followers of us….” It is not likely that we will have much success in bringing others to Christ if they cannot see Him in us. No man is worthy of worship, but long before we deliver the message verbally it is more than likely that they will have opportunities to see Him in our lives, “as ye know what manner of men we were among you….”  Now that he had their attention he could point them toward the Lord, and they became followers of Christ. It is foolish to believe that we can convince others to follow Christ if we have not committed ourselves to do the same. We have been sent out by the Lord to do a work that can be blessed by Him. If we fail to present our faith in a Christ honoring way how difficult will it be for the servants of Christ that follow us?

It is not unusual for us to face hardships, discouragement and temptations. Let’s be vigilant to maintain a testimony before the world that will not hinder the work that we have been sent to do.

In His Service,
Danny A. Whetstone