Friday, August 24, 2007

Shipbuilding: Formulas in Seaworthiness

Navigation has always been a matter of accurate charts, time-keeping and sun or star sightings! These fundamentals, together with horizon observations to establish longitude or east-west orientation were vital! Further, "basics" of Navigation included one's understanding of wind patterns, the use of 'sand-glasses' and the 'sounding-lead' and together these tools of the trade formed the essentials of navigation. In disciplined hands these tools and skills would accomplish much, that in later times, would depend on new inventions such as the sextant - which only came in the 18th Century.

Another step forward came as minor improvements in shipbuilding methodology would extended the range of sailing ships. Ship-building was evolving with the adoption of the stronger 'carvel planking.' Then this step forward was linked to the fast and maneuverable multiple masts and square-rigged sails! Fifteenth Century sailing moved into a new era!

With these navigational and construction improvements the Cape of Storms would seem to be somehow less threatening and arguably more a Cape of Good Hope. With the simplest changes in planking, the placement of a mast, or even the cut of a sail a ship's overall usefulness, its distance, capabilities, seaworthiness under the challenges of mountainous seas, strong currents and unforgiving gales had been greatly improved.

The captain and navigator's advice, usefulness and abilities are also enhanced as the ship's capabilities, navigational tools and maneuverability improves. Of course, the reverse is also true - poor workmanship, or minor oversights in construction, maintenance, or detail can cripple the navigator's skills and reverse the Captain's best judgment. As a spiritual navigator I have learned to appreciate that the most practical methods and the simplest details can (and usually do) influence our lives more than we often realise.

It is far more important to recognise the relationships between methods and principles - more important than most leaders seem to understand. Many seem quite naive - when they show a readiness to employ methods from others who hold to a different set of principles. Though methods employed and principles applied may seem to be separate issues they are never truly independent of each other. Successful navigation depends upon maintaining a genuine respect for the need to maintain the balances between the various quotients that make formulas effective. For example: when plotting the course, navigation done aright depends upon knowing more than how to use the tools of navigation - navigation calls for the a genuine awareness of the ship's strength, all the variables of weather and the potential dangers of a simple failure of self-discipline, i.e. human error.

Here in Cape Town, it is a real part of our 'Coastal History' that weather conditions have left more than two hundred shipwrecks along our coast primarily due to the ships being forced to attempt "running before" ... the storms! When not sufficiently constructed or rigged for the challenges they faced no response could be sufficient. Even when in harbour, some had their ship's cables pulled apart, or their anchors left dragging!

Though they may well be beautiful, elegant and even equipped for naval battle, when these great "tall ships" are not properly designed or correctly rigged for the conditions they must face, they will learn life's lessons "the hard way" - they will soon discover they were no match for these amazing storms and gales! In the "Great Gale of 1865" the wind came from the Northwest with such severity that no less than seven vessels were left as shattered hulks amidst the rock of Cape Town's shoreline.

In the area of spiritual navigation, we must respect the need to take seriously key Biblical issues such as: "the unity of the faith" and "an accurate Biblically-based knowledge of the Son of God." The storms and gales of our lives will surely test (and often embarrassingly reveal) whether - or - not we are 'complete,' i.e. truly sound, Biblical balanced, men and women of faith. The congregation, like a ship at sea, depends on the leadership and systemic strength that is only available through the effectual working and the spiritual interrelationships that are found in true concern for Biblical Truth, commitment to spiritual faithfulness and to Christlike acts of selfless love.

Ephesians 4:13 clearly teaches us that in the realm of the spiritual, as with the world of the sea, thoroughness and stability is essential! "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a complete man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

Seaworthiness under the stresses of mountainous seas that truly toss a ship to and fro requires genuine mental and spiritual commitment together with a "well fitted" ship. There is simply no alternative means or methods other than the "fellowship" of believers - the local congregation. Just as our compromise of Christian unity and our failures in self-discipline jeopardise the body, so too the effectual working together of every part or member of the congregation equips us and strengthen us to face life's monstrous storms! The local congregation - the church, after all, is Christ own body - his own bride ... his plan and will for our good!

Building a church to ride-out the vociferous seas can be a most complicated task and clearly requires genuine life skills. Teaching people to first balance genuine unity and true knowledge before facing life's storms calls for speaking the truth in love! Rather than joining the world in its fearful attempt to "run ahead" of life's storms though poorly rigged and filled with fear, we call Chrisitan believers to carefully equip their lives "in all things" and to live lives that trust His construction, His "rigging" and the safety of His harbour. Regretfully, our lukewarm and naked Laodicean Evangelicalism is focused on trusting their own senses and successes and miserably fail to understand just how spiritually "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked" they really are!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An Adventurous Crew

The Cape's Crew: is comprised of family, friends and co-workers. Often the crew can gain its identity from their Home Port or flag, as well as, from their vessel's type or name. You've already heard a bit about our family and no doubt more should be said about their role in the crew! {They might want to worry some about that - if they like?] The "sense of ownership," a popular idea today, came - for the sailing crew - from the honour of serving together.

are chosen according to their talents and abilities and are selected from every quarter. Ships need a "cast of hundreds" to sail, to maintain and to keep them provisioned. We are privileged to serve with the Cape Crew.

One example of a ship's crew size is found in the amazing military sailing and school ship, the Gorch Foch, a three-masted barque. This barque has a crew of 12 Officers (+ 65 regular crew and the ability to train some 160 juniors.

The Gorch Foch, Russian Това́рищ IPA [tʌˈvarɪɕɕ] The Gorch Fock I (ex Tovarishch, ex Gorch Fock) was originally built as a school ship for the German Reichsmarine in 1933. She was taken as war reparation by the USSR at the end of World War II and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union sailed under the Ukraine Flag 1992 to 1993 as the Tovarishch. Then, in 1995 she was transferred to Newcastle - upon - Tyne for repairs that were never begun. Finally, she was moved to her home port Stralsund, Germany, where she was re-named Gorch Fock (as in 1958) on November 29, 2003.

As I was explaining. our rather large "crew" includes members from "many ports" and they are all volunteers! The roster includes our own and many other families and individuals. The list includes the Cape Church Ministries Institute and Onafhanklike Baptiste Kweekskool students, interns, the members of churches such as Faith, Paarl Valley, Swartland, Tygerberg, and the Afrikaans & Multilingual Church Planting Teams! Others serve the crew from far away, they've remained behind; which, for some, speaks of months or years apart and, for others, speaks of lifelong separations.

Crewing speaks of the service for the greater-good. Such service succeeds when each crew member individually takes responsibility to advance his or her own level of personal mastery while responding to their own inner sense of self-motavating vision. Crewing's efficiency depends on the collective mastering of the crew's shared and modeled Team Vision. Forming a crew requires the dynamic of fellowship. This fellowship begins, in an all-volunteer crew, by identifying a definite stated purpose or goal for the cruise. The Crew's shared purpose must be carefully maintained by its officers. The navigator, is only one example, of one who must be systemic in his charting the stated course.

Fellowship is the opportunity to renew the focus of all and the shared purpose and goal must be
periodically revisited by all concerned. Such fellowship (more than just "many fellows-in-a-ship" ~ forgive me for this bit of 'fluf,' please.) amidst the crew describes their spirit of serving one another and others to the Glory of the Lord. In the case of the Cape Crew, these are far more than mere words, the Lord has seen fit to truly bless the Cape Crew with a strong grouping of fully committed partners - all fellowshipping and serving out of true Love for Christ.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Judie was born in Blytheville, Arkansas and Marc in Detroit, Michigan. We were married in Peoria where Marc had served as the Assistant Pastor under Judie's dad. Marc's father was an employee of the Air Force. Judie's mom, Julia, and Marc's mom, Pat both reside in small towns in the South.

After our marriage we moved to Florida where we established the Faith Baptist Church. This was the first of many congregations the Lord graciously allowed us to establish or assist in development since 1968.

Over the years the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful children: Marc Jr. and his wife Nancy (Nicole & Matthew), Michael and his wife Heidi (Tyler, Eric, & Natalie), and Michelle (and her fiance' Deon - 15 Dec is their special day).
Greetings from Cape Town:
Judie and I are new "bloggers" and this is our first posting. We are enjoying life and ministry here in Cape Town with family and many friends. We hope to share with you some of the following parts of our lives. There will be blogs about our: (1.) Backgrounds; (2.) Adventures; (3.) Crews; (4.) Shipbuilding Methods; (5.) Navigational Instruments and all about the (6.) 'fleet.'

Join us on deck. It's WINTER here in the Southern Hemisphere and the Cape is currently a cape of storms with its north-wester storms, cold-fronts, gales and heavy rainy weather all joining together for a really good blow!

The ship of life
has its smooth sailing but it's never too long before the storms and calms can make one wish for a harbour. We thank the Lord for His goodness to us and our family.

Ps 107:23... They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!