My Friday morning men’s group is getting ready to start a new study series on the book titled, “Twelve Ordinary Men” by John MacArthur. The book’s back cover really drew me in lately…..so much so, that I’ve even started reading ahead of the group’s timeline to “start”!
The back cover states:
“When you take a fresh look at the disciples, you’ll be faced with a stunning fact: The men the Savior chose were ordinary. Hopelessly human. Remarkably unremarkable. But they were available and obedient to the Master’s call.”
Have you ever read stories in the Bible, especially those involving the disciples, and wondered, “Are these guys the bad news bears of their time”? No disrespect intended…but really, could these guys get it together?
Here’s a couple examples.
Remember when the loaves and fishes story from a few weeks back? You’ll recall that one of the disciples, Phillip, when asked by Jesus “where to buy bread for these people to eat”, he simply responded…almost in panic fashion…”it would take more than a half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite”. (John 6: 5-7).
Test #1 complete. Jesus….1 Disciples….0
Next, there’s the time when Jesus and the disciples were out at sea. Jesus had fallen asleep, when a storm came down upon the lake. The storm was so bad that the boat was taking on water, and the disciples were in full-blown panic mode! (Side note….as a former Army guy, who has never been fond of boats, Navy, etc…..I probably would be in panic mode as well!) The disciples went to Jesus, waking him up saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8: 24). Jesus calmly wakes up, rebukes the wind and raging waters. Then turns to the disciples and says, “Where in your faith…..??”
Test #2 complete. Jesus….2 Disciples….0
Finally, and there are many more, but my last example comes from the make-up of the twelve apostles that Jesus selected. There was a fiery hothead named Simon. A guy with many doubts named Thomas. A nasty, hated tax-collector named Matthew. And let’s not forget a betrayer named Judas. At their peak, most would trust and believe in Him. Still others would deny Him. All would eventually at one point in time, abandon Him. And Jesus knew all of this ahead of time. Regardless, He was will to bestow upon them His power to represent the Kingdom.
Should I still keep score?
Here’s the good news, however. They DO get it together and over 2,000 years later, Christianity is all throughout the world. No bad for a group of “ordinaries”, huh?
The primary purpose of today’s run was to honor a great friend and mentor, Derek Macleod, who has been the Outreach Pastor at Myers Park Presbyterian Church for nearly the past three years. Personally speaking, Derek has been a friend beyond words. Hard working, approachable, funny yet stubborn (at times), and always willing to listen. We’ve spent days in the blistering heat of El Salvador building habitat homes. And other times inside the granite walls of the church here in Charlotte, in Bible study.
Like the author of the book about the 12 ordinary men, Derek has been able to translate our “normal” lives here in Charlotte, and challenged us to go out and live faithful lives as followers of Christ. MacArthur writes in his book:
As you may be surprised to discover, how much like us they (the disciples) truly were:
- They couldn’t comprehend the power of God
- They struggled with their own sins
- They found faith
- They wrestled with the cost of commitment
- They discovered real influence
We are losing a great preacher this month as my friend Derek travels east to Wilmington, NC for his next calling. Many of us, not just me, are grateful for this wonderful man who’s taught us many of the same lessons that the earlier disciples learned from Jesus. And that’s many times easier said than done.
This is never “farewell” for Pastor Derek. Rather, it’s “see you down the road, my friend”. We will keep tight the words that Derek so fondly passed along to many of his flock here in Charlotte:
“Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
With this Great Commission as our charter, and in the walks within our ordinary lives, Pastor Derek, thank you, my friend.