When was the last time you were ministered to?
I mean, when was the last time -- and be honest with yourself at least! -- God used other people to build you up, strengthen you, encourage you?
Or is your religious life composed primarily of telling other people how wrong they are, chiding people for incorrect theology, and complaining about how better things could be if only people adopted your view of things?
I help run a Messianic congregation and it can be tiring. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to minister to others, I consider it an honor to lead people in worshiping God, to encourage other people in service to the Lord, to spur people on to have a growing edge of Messiah faith.
But ministry for years and years is draining! And sometimes, you need to be ministered to. Sometimes you need receive ministry. I love leading other people in worshiping God at my congregation, but sometimes I want someone else to lead. Sometimes I want to worry less about what chords I'm playing next, and focus more on performing a full brain- and heart-dump to God. (I'm sure there's a more sophisticated theological term than ‘heart-dump’, but I digress. :-))
Occasionally, I want to not worry about planning music, teachings, sending out congregation emails, planning events and booking guest speakers, handling rent and donations and congregation website and responding to emails and hosting gatherings and all the things that come with running a congregation. Sometimes I want to receive ministry, too.
I was ministered to at Beth Immanuel last night
That's what happened last night. I was ministered to, and it felt great. It was like a refueling of the soul. I visited Beth Immanuel during a Wednesday night service and I was ministered to as my buddies Troy Mitchell and Simon de la Pena sang some old Christian songs for the Lord.
(For the uninitiated, Beth Immanuel is the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) congregation; their leaders work for FFOZ, and FFOZ holds their annual conferences at Beth Immanuel.)
Daniel Lancaster, the leader, spoke about Messiah's ascension – traditionally taking place on this day, the 40th day of counting the omer – encouraging us with the knowledge that Yeshua has ascended to the right hand of God, and we too will be raised up with him and seated with the Lord.
Armed with this knowledge, and knowing that God is causing everything – peoples, theologies, ideas, philosophies, nations – to come under submission to Israel's Messiah per Psalm 110 – with this knowledge, we the disciples of Yeshua have little to fear or be discouraged about. After all, we will be seated with the Maker of All Things, the Creator and Divine Engineer, the Master. From that perspective, the troubles of life are small beans.
After the service, we shared some food and drinks, spoke with a few folks in their community. I got a chance to speak with Aaron Eby, which is always a pleasure. Aaron's a sharp Messianic mind. He explained his upcoming teaching on halachic theory and worldview, the things which drive our Torah practice. We talked about the 10 commandments, Dennis Prager, and congregation life. Aaron and I share a love of technology, so of course we talked some software nerd crap.
Meanwhile Troy Mitchell played some niggunim and old Jewish tunes in the room while we were eating. Soon, the whole room was thumping on tables, clapping, stomping feet, singing loud with one voice. HINEH MAH TOV U'MA NAIM! It was so loud at one point, my ears actually hurt from the loud voices singing in unison in the small side room.
Just then, Aaron stood up and announced a special guest who arrived rather unexpectedly: Rabbi Joshua Brumbach of Ahavat Zion, one of the oldest Messianic congregations in the United States. The rabbi was passing through Minneapolis, his flight was delayed, so he took an Uber ride to join us for the night. Ha! A divine appointment. Brumbach said a few words to the group, and later that night, he asked if anyone could drive him back to his hotel.
I volunteered, as it was on the way home. But really, I wanted a chance to chat him up. We had spoken over our blogs for the last several years – often times, speaking for myself, via barbed discussions over our differences in Messianic theology – but we had never met in person. This would be an interesting car ride.
Well, I drove him back to his hotel and we chatted about life, the ups and downs of running a congregation, our wives, humanitarian efforts, Israel, and even a little technology. Turns out, Rabbi Brumbach is a really down-to-earth sort of guy. I regret wasting so much time arguing with him over the years.
I have come to realize the FFOZ guys and the UMJC guys aren't my competition. They have a different calling, and I don't see eye-to-eye with them, sure. (Particularly regarding gentiles and Torah.) But they aren't my competition. They are my brothers who love Messiah and love Torah. And they're doing the best they can. I can learn from them. They can learn from me. My congregation is not in competition with Beth Immanuel. We are two instruments in an ensemble playing a single holy symphony, each a different sound complementing the other. Together, it brings glory to God. Speaking with Rabbi Brumbach, he agreed there was a need for both our roles and voices in the Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots worlds.
After all of this, I got home around 1am. I should be tired right now, but instead I woke up this morning feeling refreshed. A bit of spiritual renewal is good for the soul. I feel strengthened, built-up, encouraged. It is good to be ministered to. And now, this shabbat, I will pass that ministering and that encouragement on to my congregation.
Being ministered to is good for your spiritual wellbeing. When was the last time you were ministered to?