Featured Article: Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles Part One

For the next few months, Bro. John O’Malley will be sharing with us from his book, Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles. We know that everyone can use some encouragement to stay in the Word of God on a daily basis, and we hope these articles will be a blessing to you in your walk with the Lord.

Our hearts and minds are bombarded with thousands of messages each day. These messages come from our technology, our work, our children, our academic institutions, our churches, our medical professionals, and our spouse. Those messages are just from the relationships in our lives.

Then we get to the advertisers who spend millions of dollars each year to get us to remember the name of their product when that particular need arises in our lives. We look at our televisions; then we listen to the radio and podcasts. Everyone has a message for us to recall.

The messages that find us each day are not always wrong. Sometimes the words we read bring good news, and other times messages we read do not bring good news. These inbound messages seem to assault us the moment we wake up in the morning until we are lying in bed in the glow of our phones. In a world filled with messages from technology, relationships, and society’s advertisers, what makes those slogans, jingles, and images stick in our mind?

Why is it we go to church and by the time we get to the meal after service, we cannot remember the sermon or even think of the Small Group, Bible Study, or Sunday School lesson? Why is it we can remember the jingle from a fast-food restaurant from two decades ago, but we cannot remember what the Lord showed us that day in His Word?

This devotional obstacle of distraction is common, real, and embarrassing. How do I have meaningful and memorable Devotions when I so easily lose interest or am so easily distracted?

Tip #1: Create an environment of solitude.

You need to create the environment where you can hear God’s Word and listen to His leading.

Tip #2: Choose one or two verses from that day’s Bible reading on which you will mediate.
When I need to work on keeping interest and focus, I settle on one or two verses. I then take advantage of the Bible study methods in the resource section and begin to work through that passage. Take a 3×5 card and write the verse on the card. Write it neatly and deliberately, and add the punctuation marks. Meditate as you write the words.

Tip #3: Write down three thoughts about the passage.

  • Take the same 3×5 card and turn it over. Write down these three words: Inspires. Instructs. Includes.
  • Look at the verse you wrote. What inspires you in this passage?
  • What precept or principle is mentioned in this verse that teaches or is an instruction for you?
  • Read the verse aloud and listen to how your name could be included in the place of the names or pronouns mentioned in the verse. Now, write one sentence beside the word Includes: You could start it with “This verse includes me because…” or “I am included in this verse because…”

Now, read aloud from both sides of the card. This next step is very important. I want you to take that card with you for the next twenty-four hours and set an appointment on your phone to read it over at least four times in the next twenty-four hours. My goal is to give you a tool to overcome the Obstacle of Distraction. Anyone can do this Bible study method. This 3×5 card method keeps you interested and distraction-free because anyone can fill out a 3×5 card with ease.

If these thoughts have been an encouragement to you, you can email Bro. O’Malley here to let him know. If you’d like to purchase the entire Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles book in PDF, Kindle, or iBooks format, click here.

Tax Time Reminders

Tax season is once again upon us! Here are several reminders 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 found in your Missionary Orientation Manual when listing expenses on your financial reports. Thank you!

Tax Paperwork for 2016

Tax related paperwork generated by WWNTBM will be in your SecureCloud folder on February 1st. This includes W-2 forms, MFR Summary Reports, and Estimated Tax letters. Be sure to look at the 2nd page of the MFR Summary, to see if there are any specific notes for you and your tax preparer. If you requested that we submit your tax information directly to your tax preparer, please note that those documents may not be sent until mid- to late February. This is to ensure that there is time for us to include any forms that may arrive in our office from other sources. If you have any questions, please contact Naomi.

The Affordable Care Act and Your Taxes

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) 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 will still need to discuss your Health Insurance plan with your preparer, as it is our understanding this will affect your tax return this year.

It is our understanding that US residents living overseas who have returned to the US for more than 35 days in 2016 may also be subject to specific fees regarding the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision of the ACA. Information about this is available on the IRS website by clicking here.

Questions about this should be directed to your tax preparer.

1099 Forms

If churches issued funds payable to you in excess of $600 during the year 2016, 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 whether 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. We recommend that you ask churches if they could make checks payable to WWNTBM to avoid this issue in the future.

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 to return on furlough, as this could affect how much you are allowed to claim under the foreign tax exclusion.

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.

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 Foreign Bank and Financial Account Form (FBAR) and give it to your tax preparer. This includes all foreign accounts on which you are a signatory, such as a ministry account. 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 Form 8938. Please refer to the IRS website and your tax preparer if you have any questions.

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.

Utilizing a Tax Professional

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 exceeds the amount spent to hire a professional. Many have also found that using tax software does not always compare to the benefits of using a professional either. In many instances it is not that the software or the self-filer is wrong, but that other choices may be better. (Information taken from daveramsey.com.)

It is also good to note that not all professionals are familiar with tax situations that might affect you. We encourage all missionaries to use a certified tax preparer who is familiar with special tax situations that affect missionaries. A list of tax preparers used by other missionaries is available on SecureCloud, under the Forms and Manuals section.

From the Memo Board: February 2017

Dates to Know

February 15 – You should receive the 2017 MFR Template with the new mileage rates.

March 1 – January Financial Reports will be due.

June 19-22 – Family Fellowship Week in Ocala, FL.

Benefits of Financial Reports

The Monthly Financial Report (MFR) is the tool that missionaries can use to become accountable to WWNTBM for their reimbursable expenses, rather than having all funds listed as salary. Over the course of 2016, 80% of those eligible chose to submit MFRs. By doing so, they were able to reduce their W-2 Wages by a combined average of 32.27%. If you are not currently utilizing MFRs and would like information about how to begin, please contact our office.

Financial Status Report

We have uploaded a Financial Status Report to your SecureCloud account. This is meant to show you the financial details that we have on file, such as your support estimate and the average amount of support you received this past quarter. This is information we provide to pastors who may call about your ministry. We ask that you update your support estimate once every four years, or as your lives and ministries change. Please review this information and contact us if you have any questions or changes.

Deputation Meeting Archives

Bro. O’Malley holds weekly meetings with our missionaries on deputation, our office staff, and a different guest speaker every Friday. Audio and notes from these meetings can be found in this Dropbox file.

Communication Tools

Our goal is to communicate with you in the best and easiest way available for you. Many of our missionaries use a variety of apps to communicate easily with those on their field, as well family who are far away. If you have a tool you are using for communication such as WhatsApp or WeChat, and you would like to be able to communicate with the office using this tool, please contact us with your information, and we will connect with you there.

Easter Traditions

Over the Christmas season we featured Christmas traditions from several mission fields on our social media accounts. We would like to do the same thing for Easter this year. If your ministry has a special outreach or your field has an unique tradition for Easter that you’d like to share, please let us know.

Prayer & Dates: February 2017

February Prayer/Praises and Special Dates

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.

From Our President: February 2017

Danny Whetstone

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How patient God has been—and is—with the people of Israel and the Church. Would you take some time today to reflect on the love of God? His love is everlasting. He deals with us in lovingkindness as He draws us to Himself. Paul was so convinced of this reality that he declared that nothing could possibly separate us from God’s love.

Life is often filled with difficulties, challenges, disappointments, and heartbreak. It is easier at times to cave in to these hardships than it is to rise above them to realize that God’s love never fails. We have a spouse whom we love. We are blessed with children whom we love. Friendships are made with those whom we love. There are times when these relationships become strained. We experience the pain of love gone awry in human relationships. However, God’s love is never up or down. It is consistent and can be counted on every day regardless of the circumstances of life.

Because of our relationship with our Lord, we are capable of drinking in this love that the world knows nothing about. How often do we pause to meditate on this amazing truth? The Bible gives us knowledge concerning many things that we would never understand if we did not have a relationship with the Author of this wonderful Book. But nothing is revealed to us more clearly than the love of God. He has every reason not to love us, but He has determined to love us anyway.

Perhaps there is a relationship in your life today that is not as it used to be. Everyone can relate to that reality, but as Christians we have an anchor that is stedfast and sure. God will love you every day throughout eternity. Soak in that for a while!

May each of us have a delightful month serving our loving Lord.

In His Service,
Danny A. Whetstone

If this article has been an encouragement to you, you can email Bro. Whetstone here to let him know.