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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

May 24, 2010 - Crossword Puzzles

By T. Ray Rachels

On a flight into the Orange County airport recently, I was thumbing through the airline’s magazine, hoping to find something interesting.

Turning to the crossword puzzle section, I noticed it was already totally filled in, that is all but one spot, 32 down. One letter alone, only one, was left out of the mysterious word. A little bead of sweat and a quickened heartbeat told me that I knew the answer. Me, an average, infrequent crossword puzzle doer. I proudly filled in the missing letter that finished 32 down, which also completed 46 across.

“Yes! Yes!” my mind boastfully told the rest of my body. Here, in my seat, on a previous flight, had sat a puzzle genius who had done it all in ink, but had gotten stumped on his last word, 32 down. He couldn’t get it, but I did. “You got it, Rachels. Unbelievable.”

This was a moment to savor, of course, so I held the magazine open for a long time, imperiously looking over the rest of what was now “my” puzzle. A “look at what I have done” attitude was rising. A case of pride, unwarranted, of course, was on my horizon.

Then, though dawning more slowly than it should, I realized that my part to this puzzle drama was so totally insignificant compared to what was already there when I arrived. Somebody far better than I had earlier been on that crossword puzzle page. I was merely bringing up the rear.

It’s something like my relationship with the Lord. At times the feeling comes, “I’ve done so much by all my great work. Just take a look!” The truth is, I’ve done essentially nothing at all but what has been given to me. A spot needs filling, so God says, “Fill the spot.”

The message for me is, “Here’s a place for you, Rachels, an opening that you can handle — go for it!” And I do the best I can. But I need to remember that it is work handed to me, given by a gracious God whose divine mind, strength and ability is a deep well from which He allows me to draw. Without Him, I am in over my head. All my work belongs to Him. And the work I do, little that it is, is made possible by the all-sufficiency of an all-knowing Heavenly Father, whose work it is and Who brings His enlightenment to aspiring, but insignificant minds like mine.

It is also true of my relationship to the body of Christ, the Church. Whenever the 1 Corinthians 12 principle of unity in diversity is forgotten, the Church suffers. When one member pridefully steps out of that unity and high steps into a personal agenda, the whole Body is impacted and impoverished.

In his book Freed to Serve, Michael Green says that “the ordained ministry is a parting gift of the ascending Christ. ‘When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men!’ (Ephesians 4:8, NASB).”

What were these gifts? “He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12, The Message).

Have you ever thought of the local minister as God’s gift to the church? That is what he is meant to be. Then, you will neither undervalue him as if he were nothing, nor overvalue him as if nothing could happen without him. He is a gift to the Body.

And what is he for? Is he there to lead services, validate sacraments for burying, marrying and baptizing? “No,” says Green. “He is there for building up saints for their work of service. He is, as it were, a gas station attendant to get other cars mobile. He is an enabler of other men and women.”

God gifts the church with a large allotment of ministry combinations that complement each other, and those combinations are to be shared within the body of Christ.

“That complementarity in unity,” observes Green, “is one of the aspects of God himself which he intends to see reproduced in the leadership of His people. It is not good for man to be alone in ministry [that is, to act as though one’s own gift is all that’s needed in the Church], any more than it is in marriage.”

The gift of God is not a clergyman, but a partnership of ministry!

All believers — not just some — in Christ’s church are called to minister. And an essential part of New Testament ministry is that an unqualified person is called to do it.

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

— T. Ray Rachels retired in 2010 as superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God after more than 22 years of service.



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