Friday, February 13, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 29

WEEK 5 – Ministry: You Were Shaped For Serving God

[Again, remember that our weeks will be off, since we're working on a five day week instead of seven days.]

Day 29 Accepting Your Assignment

In the beginning God created…. At that moment, an amazing journey began. A difficult journey full of adventure and wonder, discovery and invention, blessing and victory, as well as rejection and discouragement. We call that journey life.

[When I was teaching at my CLB, I frequently used the ocean as an image of life’s journey. God’s new covenant and its community are represented by an amazing aircraft carrier—the HMS HESED. While it is not, um, watertight, I hope that some might find it to be a helpful image in fleshing out this theme. My apologies to my pacifist friends….]

The Bible is full of images used to help us understand our relationship with God and each other.

  • There is the image of a bride and bridegroom—in the Old Testament, it was Israel and God; in the New Testament it is the Church and Christ.

  • There is the image of a shepherd and a flock of sheep—with God as shepherd to Israel in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ as shepherd/Messiah in the New Testament.

  • There is the image of a vine and its fruit-producing branches—Jesus called himself the vine and us the branches. Any vine that wants to produce fruit must remain attached to the vine. Any branch that does not produce fruit is pruned away.

  • There is the image of the church as a body—to show us our interconnectedness. (See chapters 12 and 13 of 1 Corinthians.)

You’re getting the picture, aren’t you? Why are there so many images used to try to say the same thing? Well, God has been telling a single story—a story of covenant relationship. But he has been telling it to many people over a long period of time and in many different cultural settings. God wants to be sure that we get the point, and so he uses images that will help us understand.

One of the most important jobs of those who teach God’s truth is making it real to the listeners. We must teach the truth, but in a way that will grip the hearts and minds of the listeners as the Prophets did in the Old Testament and Jesus (and the Apostles) did in the New Testament.

The Christian life is often referred to as a battle—with weapons and armor—so we’re going to update a number of the images used in the New Testament through our analogy of a battle carrier. For our last few days, we’re going to tour this amazing ship, take a look at its mission and crew, and get a taste of carrier life.

An aircraft carrier is like a small city—up to 5,000 on board! What kinds of activities happen on the HESED? Everything! Carrier life is a huge effort dedicated to accomplishing the mission…and everyone has an assignment!

Let’s look at the following chart, which shows the major areas of activity. Notice is that every area of activity includes every purpose in its activities. The purposes in bold italics are primary.

Carrier Activity/Function

Primary Purposes

Bridge—command center: Captain’s post, with radar, navigation and communications

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Flight deck—where up to 100 aircraft are catapulted off and caught by tail hook wires as they take off and land from their continuous missions defending the fleet and collecting intelligence 24/7/365

The Prayer Warriors:

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

The Front Line of the Battle

Search and Rescue—our fleet of vessels rescuing people from the sea and recruiting them to join our crew (major part of the mission)

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

The Front Line of the Battle

Maintenance Deck and Hangars—where the planes are kept and prepared for their missions

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Engineering/Propulsion—where technical experts keep our technology/tools on the cutting edge

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Materiel—where equipment and supplies are purchased, stored and distributed to meet needs

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Mess Hall—where food service is offered and meals are shared

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Galley—where food is stored and prepared for service in the Mess Hall

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Sick Bay—where sick and wounded crew and civilians are treated and restored to health

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Training Centers/meeting rooms—where crew and civilians receive on-going training for ministry

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Recreation Centers—where crew and civilians work out, relax and refresh themselves

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Living Quarters—where crew and civilians sleep and dress and have personal space: REST

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Laundry—where all the wet and soiled clothes (crew and civilian) are cleaned and repaired

Prayer/Worship/Fellowship/ Discipleship/Ministry/Mission

Today’s Look at 1 John

How is it going—developing the habit of reading the Bible a passage at a time? We hope you will be inspired to use this method for all your Bible study, not just our study of 1 John!

Read 1 John 4:7-21. While you’re reading, think about the amazing, comprehensive mission of the HMS HESED.

Getting In Shape

Week five is here and we’re miles down the road. Stop and take a look back. Can you see how far you’ve come? Have you noticed that, when you are getting into the rider’s seat behind the Holy Spirit every day, you are also spending the day with him and including him in all you do? The level of intimacy in your relationship is growing – your blood is getting more oxygenated – and you can go farther than you have been able to go before. And it’s not as exhausting. You’re building spiritual muscle – habits are beginning to be formed. You are being transformed.

But more than that, have you noticed your life is becoming more of him including you in what he’s doing? You’re starting to let the truth sink in – it’s all about God! Keep it up. You’re doing great!

But we’re not finished yet – and Scripture encourages us to remember that the goal is still ahead of us. Leaving the past in the past, we must continue living (pedaling) in the present moving forward to embrace our future.

When something big happens for you – whether happy or sad – whom do you want right there with you? Your parents or spouse or siblings or friends? Absolutely! Why do you think that is? Because we were not meant to “do life” alone. We were created to be interdependent – to need others. We need to share. But we live in a time and place where we do not always feel free to share. It may not feel safe. Or we may spend too much time “sharing”—especially about other people’s stuff. How do we get the right balance?

Last week we really worked our spiritual muscles. This week, we’re going to stretch them out so we remain limber and not get stiff and risk injury. We are going to do that by taking every joy or concern (for ourselves or for others) to God first, so that he can share the moment, begin to heal the suffering, or encourage steadfastness.

We don’t spend our entire lives on the road. God knows the value of rest. So when you pry yourself off the seat at the end of a long ride, there’s stuff to process:

  • The amazing things you saw and experienced.

  • The saddle soreness that makes you walk a little funny and sit down very gingerly.

  • The questions in your mind: “Did we get as far as we planned?” “What’s for dinner?” “What’s the plan for tomorrow.”

So, before you pick up the phone or walk down the hall to talk with someone else to process your stuff, lean over and let God put his arm around you. Tell him your stuff first. It will mean a lot to God. And then you’ll have a better sense of what stuff to share with the other people in your life – and what stuff to leave with God alone.

No comments: