|"Manna for Ministry" Communication - MARCH 2003|
Hello - in Jesus Name!
My office read this extract from one of Max Lucado's books and we were just so blessed by our brother's description of how we as the family of God are all sailing on the Gospel ship (not a cruise ship, but a battle ship) and how we have each had a personal encounter with the Captain, our God and each received a personal call.
Most of us are experiencing challenges within our ministry and personal lives on a daily basis and we trust that this portion taken from Max Lucado's book will encourage you (and even give you a smile at some of his delightful and true comments).
LIFE ABOARD THE FELLOW-SHIP
(excerpted from In the Grip of Grace)
Romans 14:1 MSG
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:7 NIV
ROCKING THE BOAT
God has enlisted us in His navy and placed us on His ship.
The boat has one purpose - to carry us safely to the other shore. This is no cruise-ship; it's a battleship. We aren't called to a life of leisure; we are called to a life of service. Each of us has a different task. Some, concerned with those who are drowning, are snatching people from the water. Others are occupied with the enemy, so they man the cannons of prayer and worship. Still others devote themselves to the crew, feeding and training the crew members.
Though different, we are the same. Each can tell of a personal encounter with the Captain, for each has received a personal call. He found us among the shanties of the seaport and invited us to follow him. We each followed him across the gangplank of His grace onto the same boat. There is one Captain and one destination. Though the battle is fierce, the boat is safe, for our Captain is our God. The ship will not sink. For that, there is no concern.
There is concern, however, regarding the disharmony of the crew. When we first boarded we assumed the crew was made up of others like us. But as we've wandered these decks, we've encountered curious converts with curious appearances. Some wear uniforms we've never seen, sporting styles we've never witnessed. "Why do you look the way you do?" we ask them. "Funny", they reply. "We were about to ask the same of you."
The variety of dress is not nearly as disturbing as the variety of opinions.
There is a group, for example, who gets together every morning for serious study. They promote rigid discipline and somber expressions. "Serving the Captain is serious business," they explain. It's no coincidence that they tend to congregate around the stern.
There is another group deeply devoted to prayer. Not only do they believe in prayer, they believe in prayer by kneeling. For that reason you always know where to locate them; they are at the bow of the ship.
And then there are a few who staunchly believe real wine should be used in the Lord's Supper. You will find them on the port side.
Some think once you're on the boat, you can't get off. Others say you'd be foolish to go overboard, but the choice is yours. Some believe you volunteer for service; others believe you were destined for the service before the ship was even built. Some predict a storm of great tribulation will strike before we dock; others say it won't hit until we are safely ashore. There are those who speak to the Captain in a personal language. There are those who think such languages are extinct.
And then there is the issue of the weekly meeting at which the Captain is thanked and his words are read. All agree on its importance, but few agree on its nature. Some want it loud, others quiet. Some want ritual, others spontaneity. Some want to celebrate so they can meditate; others meditate so they can celebrate. Some want a meeting for those who have gone overboard. Others want to reach those overboard without going overboard and neglecting those onboard.
The consequence of all this is a rocky boat. There is trouble on deck and fights even break out. Sailors have refused to speak to each other. There have even been times when one group refused to acknowledge the presence of others on the ship. Most tragically, some who are still adrift at sea have chosen not to board the boat because of the quarreling of the sailors.
"What can we do?" we'd like to ask the Captain. "How can there be harmony on the ship?" We don't have to go far to find the answer.
On the last night of His life, Jesus Christ prayed a prayer that stands out for all Christians:
"I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me." John 17:20.
How precious are these words. Jesus, knowing the end is near, prays one final time for His followers.
Striking isn't it, that He prayed not for their success, their safety, or their happiness. He prayed for their unity. He prayed that they would love each other. As He prayed for them, He also prayed for 'those who will believe because of their teaching.'
That means us! In His last prayer, Jesus prayed that you and I be one.
There is a second part of this particular section of the book called "The Command of Acceptance" - we will continue with this is an upcoming Manna for Ministry!
I trust this has given you 'food for thought' as it did us.
To close - as events unfold around the world, with war on the horizon, there are certain to be storms ahead but together as a family united in prayer, we can walk through them with confidence in God, knowing the peace that only He can give.
"There are really only two ways to approach life and the challenges we face - as a victim or as a gallant fighter!"
Hennie Hanekom and the Regional Office team