Christian ministry is a series of interruptions. And it’s our attitude toward and our selfless service in those interruptions that define our ministries.
My outlook on time and my control over my time was radically altered almost 20 years ago, the very first time I read C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape, the affectionate devil, tells his protege nephew in chapter 11 that “man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift.”
Screwtape goes on to say that if in our “total service of the Enemy (God)” he demanded one day for us to do nothing more than listen for a half hour to the “conversation of a foolish woman,” we would be much relieved and happy to serve. If, one day, that’s all God wanted, just for you to pay attention for a little while to this person who needs you to listen, we’d be thrilled to obey. We’d be honored that God would choose us to be used by him in that way, that day. And then Screwtape concludes his thought by telling Wormwood, “if the man thinks about this assumption for a moment, even he is bound to realize that he is actually in this situation every day.”
Jesus, the Christ, is our perfect example of selfless service. And, apart from the cross, that service is best seen in the interruptions to his schedule. Jesus washed feet, hugged lepers, and called tax collectors down out of trees. Despite the strain on his schedule and the personal risk to his reputation and his position, people always came first to the Son of God. When a blind man or a beggar or a lonely woman called out to Jesus, he didn’t reschedule them or avoid them because it wasn’t in his plans that day. He healed them. He taught them. He served them.
Christian ministry is not in the things we schedule as much as in the interruptions to those schedules.
Speaking of schedules, there are several big items on the calendar this week. Here at Legacy we’re honored to host the annual National Deaf Christian Workshop. Over 500 deaf Christians from all over the country are meeting here tonight through Thursday for a series of sessions revolving around the Texas-inspired theme “Deep in the Heart of God.” The lectures and classes focus on spiritual matters and deaf ministry issues and include such topics as “Improving Church Interpreting,” “Facial Expression in Interpreting,” and “A Heart for Interpreting.” This place has been buzzing with activity since before 7:00 this morning. And the unmistakable energy and enthusiasm in the air will only build through the week up to Tom Ramey’s message “Hearts That Are Heaven Bound” Thursday night. Congratulations to our own deaf minister Terry Heidecker and his wife Cindy, Bill and Katie Baker, and the dozens of others who’ve worked so hard to pull this off. May our God bless the workshop and use the workshop to spread the borders of the Kingdom!
Nevermind. More on that Friday.
And this Saturday night is the annual Medina Children’s Home Dinner and Auction at the Fairmont in downtown Dallas. I’ve been privileged in the past to work with my good friends David & Linda Cause in gathering autographed items from the Rangers and Stars and Mavericks to be auctioned off at the dinner. But this year I’m honored to be leading the invocation. Mavericks coach Avery Johnson is the guest speaker. And I’m looking forward to a wonderful night with dear friends to support a great cause.
The resource page is beginning to take some kind of shape. Check it out for bulletin articles, book reviews, exegetical papers, and essays I’ve written in the past. And feel free to use them anywhere and anytime you’d like.
Finally, there are 66 days until football season. And #66 in the countdown is the Packers long-time Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Nitschke. Nitschke was the core of the Green Bay defense during their dynasty days of the ’60s. They won five NFL titles in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls with Nitschke wreaking havoc for opposing quarterbacks and enforcing his will on opposing running backs. He kept his teeth on a shelf in his locker. His autobiography was entitled “Mean on Sunday.” In 1969 he was named the best linebacker in the history of the NFL. He was the first Packers defender from the ’60s to get into the Hall of Fame. And it’s amazing to me that he only played in one Pro Bowl. And of course, in that one Pro Bowl, in 1964, he returned an interception for a TD. Ray Nitschke is, without doubt, the best player to ever wear #66.
Catching up from the weekend (there’s gotta be a better way to do this): Russell Maryland is my #67. Maryland won two national championships and the Outland Trophy at the University of Miami, he won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys as their #1 draft pick in ’91, and finished his career with the Raiders and Packers. He was a great football player on great teams. His timing was impeccable. But more than that, he’s a really great guy. I had the pleasure of working with Russell at a benefit golf tournament three years ago for Athletes in Action and listened to him at dinner passionately tell the golfers about his conversion to Christ and his life as a disciple. God bless him and John Weber, John Wetteland, and Sean Payton for the work they’re doing for our Lord.
And #68 is old Cowboys nemesis L. C. Greenwood. Out of little bitty Arkansas Pine Bluff, he was a 10th round pick of the Steelers, but became the team’s all-time leading sack man with 73-1/2. On the famed Steel Curtain defense he played left defensive end next to Mean Joe Green, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White; a defensive line that posted five shutouts in the last eight games of 1976. He wore those awful gold high top cleats, remember? And the NFL fined the team after every single game for the uniform violation. And Art Rooney wrote the checks with a smile. Greenwood sacked Roger Staubach three times in Super Bowl X. He was 6’6″, super quick, and unstoppable coming around that corner. Cowboys offensive lineman Herb Scott gets my #68 honorable mention. But Greenwood’s the best.