Laila and I did a fishing trip while in Florida. Just the captain and the two of us. The boat was new, custom-made by the captain, age 26. He throttled out of the bay into the open towards the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and then pushed the throttle. I am not an expert about the engineering of boats. However, it was obvious that this boat was exceptional. Even with about three-foot swells we just seemed to float across the water.
The bottom of the boat was made to rise up when going fast. The captain later shared that it was a new invention by a local boat-builder who was a friend of his.
When an administrative bishop asked Laila and me to assume the pastorate of a struggling congregation in Southwest Virginia we assumed the ride would be rough and choppy. We also assumed that given a little time the waters would smooth and the ride would become less challenging.
Five years and four months later with the first pastorate much progress had been made. New property. Old property sold. New location. The congregation grew from 17 to about 110. A strong mission program had been established, including community outreach. Progress was made, but there remained challenges, i.e., great ride but still some choppy waters.
Back to school for the both of us, and three years later we became the lead pastor's family of Covenant Church - 35 years ago. We had learned a lot. We had been forced to think bigger than our denominational box, though we remain loyal to our denomination. We moved into a two-bedroom apartment with three children, ages 12, 11 and 1. The 1,000 SF apartment was attached to a 5,000 SF new first-phase worship building primarily constructed of block and concrete.
We accepted the challenge and working with good people we assumed that in three to five years there would be smooth sailing. We should have learned from the first time. Life is not designed for smooth sailing. Ministry is reflective of life.
In the past few weeks, we have had two sets of beautiful twins born. Healthy. Happy parents, grandparents, extended kin and church family.
During these same weeks, good folks have had surgery, heart attacks, struggles in personal ways and accidents. We as a church body are also trying to keep a focus on our biblical mission during a time when our country is harshly divided, the presidency is in transition, terrorists are being released to countries with less than a stellar record of defending liberty, and harsh weather has impacted millions of Americans. This week we are holding our breath for peace during the inauguration of the new President.
At home in Covenant Church, we are preparing to charter Valley Covenant to independent status. Our building program is progressing. Efforts are in process to ship a forty-foot cargo container to Honduras. A tractor-trailer load of FREE blankets (4,000) for homeless and needy people is scheduled to be delivered to Covenant. This coming Sunday evening, Covenant Church will host the Martin Luther King community celebration at 5 PM.
With joy, I share that the waters are not smooth sailing. With joy, I share that the ship is strong into the current. We are moving forward in spite of resistance. We celebrate victories. Yet there are no dull and boring days. We are face into the wind with spirit and determination to finish the task for Jesus.
There is no expectation that the Ship of Zion (Church) should sail without resistance in a carnal Babylonian spirit environment hurtling toward the Anti-christ one-world system. The Church is counter-culture to the world. Our mission is sharing Christ and pulling souls back from the flames of an eternal hell. Why should we expect smooth waters?
Yes, it is incumbent upon us to administrate and orchestrate our responsibilities. Yes, we must do our homework. Yes, teamwork is essential.
Yes, we are to labor together as ONE in the face of all opposition, working together in unity and demonstrating love in the Body of Christ.
I hear the Captain Jesus saying: "Buckle up. Full speed ahead! Work to be done! We are heading to the other shore where sorrow, sin, and Satan will have NO passport to enter.”
On our way to the other shore let us listen to the cries of souls in distress and never be too busy to rescue them to Christ!
Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5; John 3:16