The Fruit of Being a Servant
October 22, 2017
(Martha) We’re gathered here to announce that the book (Altogether Forgiven) is on the way to the printers. And I know some people may be glad when we quit talking about the book, but I want to talk about it as a corporate production. I’ve been studying, because I was going to speak on the Lamb nature of Jesus. I’ve been reading the scriptures about being a servant and am just blown away by the scriptures that call for us to take the lowest place. And it made me so aware of the servants of the Lord about this book. Jennifer has spent almost as many hours as I spent writing it on working with the manuscript. It’s been no small task, unending hours. And her enthusiasm – her body has kind of sunk at times – but her enthusiasm has never waned, and her willingness to work until it’s right, until it expresses what the Spirit wants to say. It’s just amazing. I have had, let’s see, three editors. So, I know how valuable she is, and what a servant she is. She’s a servant to the message of Christ in this woman here. She’s a servant to Him and not to me. I just don’t have words to say, but I just know from reading the scriptures the reward for the one who’s behind the scenes is greater than the one out front. And I can’t wait, because of the enormous work and faithfulness you’ve had, Jennifer, just to spend your life. You’ve given your life for months for this. And then there’s Carole, who is, for me the quintessential Stephen. A servant, she will do anything that needs to be done. Her place in this has been prayer, and we have needed prayer more desperately than I think we’ve ever needed it. And she has just… There’s no telling how many hours that she has prayed and prayed and prayed, just by herself. And we would alert her of this and that and she would have to bear the load of prayer. And then John, who has been the shepherd of us all and the shepherd of this book. And the hours he spent in prayer, no one knows but Jesus. And how we’ve had to withstand a lot of onslaughts. Thankfully no division between us at all. We were one in it all the way through, which is just precious to me. But, I don’t remember the nature of the attacks, but it was unending really kind of. And I know the issue of forgiveness is the centrality of Jesus’ Cross. And so, it would be under attack. So, the greater ones are sitting around the table here. My name, the Lord will let my name go on it, but it is an effort of these people at this table plus Lori proofreading and finding my mistakes in scriptures and quoting one scripture in a different translation. And Jennifer having to put in fifteen translations in the book, copyright, because I kept running around looking at different translations. And John, the steady, also master of the boat as it hits a storm and all his many, many, deeply, deeply humble servant tasks John does. Enormous, humble tasks. And that’s what I’m impressed with about you all: the many, many, very humble, thankless, unexciting tasks that you have all performed with the greatest of His grace and beauty. And you have made the way for me so very smooth by your work. You’ve done things to enable me to be able to be uninterrupted and many other things. There’s just no way to tell it. But everybody’s going to see it in heaven. And I’m going to be so happy. So…
(Jennifer) I have to interrupt you right here, because I know intellectually, I understand that what I was doing is not exciting, but it didn’t make it from my head down to my heart or to my spirit, because for me it was exciting. And it wasn’t dull, and it wasn’t mundane even when it was. And I would have a moment where I’d be like… you know. You know! And I’d have mini-melt downs. But within minutes of that, once I got into it, then it was really, with a couple of exceptions – and there were attacks. You’re right. There were attacks – But those attacks were evidently attacks, and it wasn’t boredom or just being like, “Ugh, so tedious.” That, it was literal, you know, frustration and shaking my fist at Satan and, you know, being like, “Jesus, help!” you know. And that was a very different thing. It was not unexciting to me. It was by and large joyful and an adventure. So, I need to make that clear. And Carole was there on so many days when I was just a little bit crack-headed about everything. And she was, first of all, steady, but second of all, she’s just fun, you know. In the midst of my drama, it’s really nice to have someone who’s just, who will say something (laughs) that is ridiculous and let you laugh. And, you know, and be goofy with you and take you out of the seriousness of yourself, you know. And Carole was just priceless in that. And so, I want to say that too. And she and Lori split the scriptures and double-checked the beautiful scriptures that the Lord gave you throughout the whole entire book. Yeah. So, it really is every single person. One with John’s surprise and rich afterword, his epilogue, his epic epilogue. (laughs) I don’t know. I just… Maybe people are tired of it, but when they see it, they’ll understand. And so, I don’t mind us talking about it. It is amazing!
(John) Well, I do want to let everybody know that at the bottom of this page, that you can pre-order it (Altogether Forgiven) if you have not pre-ordered it. We’ll actually be starting the pre-orders last week. But, you know, this is the first announcement of the pre-orders of it on the podcast. And you can actually go pre-order it, and it looks like it’s going to be available mid to third week of November we’ll be shipping out. So, this is all exciting. We haven’t got the final date yet. That will hopefully come in tomorrow from the printers. And then we’ll know, but you can order your copy of this 412-page monolith of wonderful! (laughs)
(Martha) I kept being embarrassed and willing to chop and cut, and Jennifer and John wouldn’t let me. So, they’re to blame for it too. (laughs) They share the blame for it. But we are excited. And I’ve had notes from ones that I know have prayed a lot, and I know one friend has fasted and prayed for us. And the sweet thing that people did for me was they wouldn’t write me or call me during the intense hours and days of having just to be so concentrated and so focused and so listening and so intent on the Lord. While I missed, you know, being in touch with people, it was such a gift of kindness and love. And they didn’t have to be told.
(Jennifer) I had the exact same experience. I have some people that I talk to probably like once a month I would say. And they call in and, you know, the Lord gives us grace to have a little mini-church on the phone. And these are dear friends, and I love them. And for the last two months, I mean, they have been completely gracious when, you know, I have no grace to talk to them, because I have been so on this. The Lord has had me completely and totally focused on it. And you’re right, Martha, it is an enormous gift, because the last thing that is needed is to feel someone’s demand and their expectation and their grabbing at you in the spirit. Then you’re fighting natural distractions as well as spiritual – guilt, manipulation, all these things. You know what I mean? Which would just be horrible, because then you’re like, you know, “I should have a few minutes where I can stop this and go call. Of course they matter and I love them and it and blah, blah, blah…” And it’s a horrible, it’s a horrible thing. And I have, I am so glad that you remembered to say that, because that has been one of the greatest gifts to me too. And to have the Lord so settle my heart about it and say, “This is where I want you to be. This is what I want you to be on and there’s not a problem.” And it’s been amazing to me, Him in that, because I have never really been able to be somebody who has been kind of immunized from that pull, from that draw, from that demand. I’ve always been very susceptible to it. And He has… It’s been a whole new world with Him in this and understanding that there has been kind of an uncompromised, “No, this is where you are. You’re Mine. I have you here. That’s all there is to it, and everything else will be dealt with later in My time.” And it’s, I’ve never, but I’ve heard Him, you know. It’s not like the Holy Spirit hasn’t spoken to me like that before. (chuckles) He speaks to me like that all the time. But this was the first real time that I just slid into that and just said yes, and didn’t wrestle with it and didn’t… It didn’t make it any further than that, you know? It didn’t come back to haunt me. So, I join you in that, Martha, and I bless all of these beautiful people who I love, who did that, and who gave me the grace and the space really, the quiet that I needed.
(Martha) It’s hard to describe how hard work writing is, and the hard work is the discipline of focus. We have the grace, we have the grace to do that, totally. But it is… To sit and write for eight hours is a very intense labor. It’s not… And though it was, it fell in place, and the back cover fell in place amazingly. Though there was grace and there was flow, there was still work.
(Martha) We had to stay to the task, didn’t we? And we knew we did. We knew we did. There were so many pages and so much work to go over. It was not like a booklet or even a regular book. It was three times, three times Adoration in size, isn’t it?
(Jennifer) More or less.
(Martha) More or less.
(John) I had to leave, and I had to go by the river to do my proofing. You know, I had to unplug completely, because… So I just drove my car down by the river and just sat in my car and read for a couple of days, because I just couldn’t be around the computer. I couldn’t be around the people with emails. I couldn’t be around the phone. I couldn’t be around anything. I had to just focus. And so, I’m very grateful that people have understood as well, you know, that I’ve just had to pull that cord and say, “I’m not available,” because it is such an epic. I mean this is, we said that it was an epic voyage for The Mystery of Discipleship. This is the epic book.
(Martha) This is a round the world tour, isn’t it? (laughs)