Dear friends I would like to just encourage you all with your endurance and steadfastness. I am reminded of the famous words of the courageous and intrepid sailor who said, “don’t give up the ship.” No I am not talking about CAPT James Lawrence, during the War of 1812, of the USS Chesapeake after he was mortally wounded, but of MM1 Andrew Kreiss of Dunellen, New Jersey, Karen’s wonderful father.  Time and time again Karen would say, “my father always says, “don’t give up the ship” and that is great advice for us today.  It seems many in the Lord today are just giving up.  I cannot believe the number of people I know who are just walking away from God, well now my friend is not the time to give up, we must continue no matter the problems we face have they be perceived or real. I am not sure if it is because of unfulfillment or the many things we daily must suffer for God’s kingdom (“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17) to be established in our hearts. Or maybe they are just tired of walking with the Lord, maybe the novelty has worn off. You know we perceive so many things that are not true and we worry and worry over things that are not reality in our lives. I can remember almost convincing myself I had HIV from getting blood drawn in India. Worry has torment for us and others around us. All of this in reality is a lack of faith in God and to His words in our lives on our part.  It is not time to give up the ship, oh no my friend it is our time to be the men and women of God that the people in this lost and dying world needs. It is our time to stand for the truth, no matter the cost, of the Gospel message and become the manifestation of the living God among the people of the earth. Time is strange in our lives; time always adds a different perspective to our understanding of things, especially of truth. Now knowing truth is eternal (same yesterday, today, and forever), progressive, and always from God’s perspective in our lives, in time truth changes our understanding. In times past I thought I would go to heaven by way of the grave, but now I am convinced I will see the second coming of Jesus Christ. Through time (as I get older) and with a better understanding of God and His ways I now can make a better judgment of things in the Bible. Now please let me stop here and ask you not to get involved with all of the guessing and selling of what many Christians call end-time Bible prophesy, but just live your life second by second according to the revelation you have allowed God to give you and for the glory of God, not looking for a date,  time, or even a cause to throw your life whole heartily into but, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand (a place of honor and authority) of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3) Did you know the revelation we have of God depends on us? The more dedication, sacrifice, and separation from this world on our part the deeper the revelation we will have of God. He wants to give us all of Him, but we (oh Lord me too) often draw back when we see the price we must pay to know more and be used of Him. I wonder what the “great cloud of witnesses” are witnesses of? I am sure of what they have experienced and sacrificed for the Gospel message, but what about now?  I think those that have gone on before us may be watching us to see what we will do with the baton they passed on and the sacrifice they have made. They are up in heaven saying please do not give up, please keep the faith. Just keep, ”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Please notice to be able to, “set down at the right hand of the throne of God” we must be able to endure and be steadfast in bearing the cross and shame. They are the requirement to be seated with God.  Samuel Logan Brengle, a truly great spiritual leader of the Salvation Army outlined the road to spiritual authority in these challenging words:  “It is not won by promotion but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and much heart searching and humbling before God; by self surrender, a courageous and uncomplaining embracing of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but rather, like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. That is a great price. but it must it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be not merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell. My friend, the highest positions are reserved for those who have qualified in secret. It is that element of sovereignty that begets awe and a great humility in those to whom leadership is entrusted. The Church is painfully in need of leaders. I wait to hear a voice and no voice comes.  I love the back seat in conferences. I would always rather listen than speak, but there is no clarion voice to listen to.”

Now the Bible is full of people who have given up the ship and walked away from God and the ministry God has asked them to do.  One who comes to mind readily is Judas, “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.”  (Matthew 26:14-16) Someone most people do not think about is the Rich Young Ruler, how great is that? Rich, Young, and a Ruler, things we all seem to strive for today to be rich – much money and wealth, young – how much money do we spend on trying to retain our youthful looks, and a Ruler – no one wants to be a servant everyone today seems to want be waited on hand and foot. We see in Mark, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:21-22) Many Christian scholars say the Rich Young Ruler was being groomed by Jesus to replace Judas, but in the end, he gave up the ship because he could not totally sell out to God. Or how about, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1Timothy 1:19-20) and “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.” (2 Timothy 4:9-10) Later in Timothy we read, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 14Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  (2 Timothy 4:13-18) What a wonderful statement, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” Now when the Bible says “all” it means “all” not some (oh I know we read “all,” but we really think some), but “all” means “all.” “All men forsook” Paul, but God will never forsake us if we do not give up the ship and forsake Him. I wonder how we would feel knowing our names were listed (like Alexander, Demas, Hymenaeus, and others) in the Bible for all eternity and all to hear as one who gave up, who turned backed, who gave in, who walked no more with the Lord, or who forsook all.  Oh Lord may this never be said of me and the ones I hold dear in my life.  Did you know God is to us what we are to Him?  Never expect God to be gracious and bless us beyond measure, if we have measured out our love for and to Him.  But if we love Him beyond measure and endure His dealings and judgments in our lives God will then in turn because of our faithfulness to Him bless us.  Now this is not a salvation issue, God loved us first (Romans 5:8) while we were still enemies of Him, but I am talking about after our sins are forgiven when we are to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The complete statement of CAPT James Lawrence on that fateful day was, “tell the men to fire faster and tell them don’t give up the ship.”  My friend that is what the Lord is saying to us today, stay on the firing line and do not give up the ship.  Endure life’s sufferings, carry on, go forth in my power and strength, allow me to strengthen you in the inward parts so that you will be able to withstand until the end.  Peter ends his first Epistle with these words, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10) All of the words, “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” speaks of our need for steadfastness to be built into our character, if not then these characteristics will never be a part of our lives.  How can they? They have not been worked into our lives through suffering. Many say, why does a loving God allow suffering in our lives, well suffering builds in us a softness and understanding for mercy and forgiveness.  Those who have suffered are not quick to speak or act, but reserve their thoughts, words, and judgment on the important things of life, on the weightier matters (Matthew 23:23) of life; the law, judgment, mercy, and faith:  My friend let us not give up the ship even though it seems as if she will flounder or the enemy will board her and take her, let us keep the faith (by staying on the firing line) and enduring until the ends.  James too encourages us with his words when he said, Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:10-11)  When is “the end of the Lord?”  Fear not, walk with the Lord long enough and with the right heart condition and the Lord will answer this question for you.  And in the words of MM1 Andy Kreiss, “don’t give up the ship.”