“In the church there is the bond of family, yet room for variety. The devil tries to disrupt unity. Two chickens tied at the legs and thrown over a clothes-line may be united, but they do not have unity. - Leslie Flynn, Great Church Fights.
“In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity. - Phillip Melanchthon
Since Sunday, I have been quite occupied with thoughts and prayers of and for unity. I pray for it often for our church. It’s a much bigger deal, and far more fragile than many, if not most of us realize. Over my years of life and ministry, I have witnessed far too many occasions where there was little or no unity… and my reflections on those memories are always sad. I know of churches, even denominations where there was little or no unity, or where unity was perverted.
Consider again the verse I shared on Sunday: Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Phil. 2:1-2 NASB emphasis added)
So… let me ask you; do these verses describe East Shore Baptist? If not, why not? If it does, how? Maybe it’s a little bit of both? Now it’s time to get personal; what are you going to do about it? How can you serve Christ in obedience to being an agent of unity among our body? Why am I making this personal? Because God does; and He holds each and everyone of us responsible for unity in the church.
Way back when I encouraged our leadership to engage our church in the Transformational Church Assessment, it wasn’t to launch another “program”; it wasn’t to get the church busy; and it sure wasn’t for kicks-and-giggles. Seeing our need for prayer, evangelism (making our Jesus known to others), growing in grace (discipleship), identifying and engaging our community, and to communicate more effectively are all components to the formation and engagement of a healthy church that is committed to and obedient to our our biblical purpose and reason for being.
Many of you will remember that Pastor Bryan closed most of his correspondence with these words: “Pulling on an oar.” I loved it. It spoke to his heart and passion for our church. It also serves as a wonderful word picture of what unity should look like. Have you ever watched Olympic Rowing? Typically you will have 4-8 rowers and a coxswain (someone who steers and sets speed and rhythm). Imagine yourself in a race. The goal is to win… to cross the finish line at the fastest possible speed. But…
Rower #1 believes that we should put all of our resources in Children’s ministry; Rower #2 believes the church should be solely focused on prayer; Rower #3… well… they have no clue, and don’t really want one; and Rower #4 thinks that doing stuff “in” the church is a complete waste of time beyond Sunday worship - it’s all about doing ministry among the “lost”… I could use any number of examples, but you get the idea. How well do you think the church would function… what prayer would we have of crossing the “finish line” so-to-speak?
Please don’t take lightly my plea for you to pray for me and our church’s leadership. In the above illustration, we are the coxswains. It is our calling to take the disparate passions and interests and ideas of what ministry should look like in our church, to recognize and engage people who each have unique spiritual gifts and talents, and set a course and a rhythm that has our church moving in God’s direction… according to His will and design for our body. I once heard John Maxwell quote a pastor who stated that pastoring a church is like trying to herd cats. But if you read your bible, we’re typically referred to as sheep. See… I’m thinking there’s hope! LOL!
Please keep Pastor John in your prayers. He returns from his mission trip in Moldova on the 15th.
I thought I’d close by sharing a recent devotion from Jean. I miss her posting to “Heads or Tails”.
Love you all! Pastor Brian
He Gave Me a Gift
Who doesn't enjoy receiving a gift? They are given throughout the year on birthdays, Christmas, and on those "Hallmark" inspired occasions. Presents are thoughtfully wrapped in homemade or store-bought paper and tied up with ribbons and bows. Sometimes you just know what the gift is going to be and, other times, it's quite a surprise. What about those times when choosing a gift just boggles the mind and takes way too much energy? How about factoring in how much money to spend on the gift?
Heavenly gifts have occupied my mind for awhile. These are the custom-made ones that my Father sometimes gives me. It is not wrapped in a handsome package. The gift is bound with my suffering, tears, and pain. Layer upon layer of carnal tissue is torn away in order for my eyes to see what my LORD wants to reveal to me. Only my Father can bring a gift like this to me. The card on this one reads "Trust me like never before........I got this" ----- God.
2 Cor 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness".