Yesterday I had a lunch meeting with a brother and close friend. We were talking about a mission we are both passionate about: Disaster Response! We live a considerable distance apart, so I chose for us to meet in Russellville, about half way between us. I also chose to ride because…well you need to be a biker to understand.
There are few earthly things that compare to riding in the open air on a bike–the smell of fresh cut grass, the coolness of passing through a hollow (or hollar if you are from the South), in season smell of honeysuckles. But yesterday…well, it was 98 degrees plus and there was the occasional smell of road kill baking in the hot sun…and then the smell of commercial chicken houses. I could have (notice I said “could have”) complained–but I made a choice. I made this choice before I fired her up. I made the choice to enjoy the ride.
And do you know what? I had a blast! Sure, there were some unpleasant aromas wafting about. So what? I wasn’t seeing God’s beautiful creation from the inside of an air-conditioned car. Nope! I was in the middle of God’s beautiful creation–and the wind in my face reminded me that the wind of the Holy Spirit was all around me–and I was getting to breath it all in.
But…you knew there was going to be a “but”…I’m reflecting now on our current culture. One of the way too often seen characteristics of this culture is the ability to WHINE! I can think of a number of people I know who would have experienced that ride yesterday with much disdain. The wafting aroma of road kill and chicken houses…the heat…well at the end of the ride that would have been their closing remarks…and they would have been in misery.
Look, misery is a choice that YOU can make! But…so is Joy! In Luke 7, verses 31 through 35 Jesus described the culture around Him at that moment…and it is an on target description of today’s culture. He said they were like this bunch of kids trying to play. One side wanted to play “wedding” but the others didn’t join in. They wanted to play “funeral”…so they whined and bickered AT each other.
Living in misery…or…living in joy…it is your choice. It is the choice you make BEFORE anything happens. Before the ride began, I chose joy and it was a joyful thing in me; even with the unpleasant aromas and searing heat. Because of my choice to be joyful, my heart looked for, leaned into, ALL the many reasons I have to be joyful. The unpleasantness of a few things were not able to dispel the joy! Why? Simply because I chose JOY!
Some who read this may think, “Look, it’s not all that simple!” My response comes from something I learned and am continuing to learn from writer and speaker Andy Andrews. It’s not all that complicated, either! I have a choice–to be miserable or to be joyful; it’s a choice to make BEFORE my day begins…and it’s the choice I make throughout the day. (For more on Andy Andrews, visit his website www.andyandrews.com)
You have a choice–at the beginning of each time–in every situation and circumstance–Misery…or…Joy! What’s your choice?
Today we are going to talk about the elephant in the room. It’s the one thing that was in The Boat that we haven’t focused on. Without exception, every person in The Boat had this because The Boat was full of it. I’m sure you know what it was, so let’s look again at our story for this series from Matthew 14:25-32 (NLT)
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking
on the water.” 29 “Yes,
come,” Jesus said. So Peter went
over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But
when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to
sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
What would you guess would be the most common command in Scripture? It is not to be more loving. That is at the core of God’s desire for us, but that is not His most frequent command.
It is not about don’t worship other gods, even though
He wants our undivided devotion. The
single command that occurs most often is this:
Don’t Be Afraid! We are all probably familiar with FDR’s
famous quote after Dec. 7, 1941: “We have
nothing to fear but fear itself.” It was
actually a paraphrase from a much earlier quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”
If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, it is critical that you remember this:
Fear Is The Demon That Keeps You From The Life God Is Giving To You.
Life inside the boat isn’t the normal life for a
follower of Jesus. Water-Walking isn’t
for the elite or the few. It’s the life
that God gives to every Disciple, every Follower of Jesus.
When Jesus came in human flesh, it was an all-out Declaration
Of War against the Evil One who took
control of God’s Image Bearers by deception.
And in This War,
and it is a War, God has
chosen to recruit those who will engage The Enemy. His recruits?
His Image Bearers! That’s Us!
And the way to engage in this Spiritual War is to get out of the boat. But…
Fear is the number 1 reason why people refuse to get
out of the boat. So we need this command
all the time. Lloyd Ogilvie notes there
are 366 “fear not” verses in the KJV Bible—1 for every day of the year,
including one for leap year.
Now these disciples experienced fear twice—first in
the face of the storm, and then in the face of Jesus walking on the water. Peter faced fear a third time, when he turned
his attention back on the storm.
Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle
to trusting and obeying God. Fear will
sink us faster than anything else, even the threat of death.
Why does God command us not to be afraid? Fear doesn’t seem like the most serious vice
in the world. It never made the list of
the 7 Deadly Sins. No one ever receives
church discipline for being afraid. So
why does God tell us to stop being afraid more often than he tells us anything
I strongly suspect that the reason isn’t that God
wants to spare us emotional discomfort.
In fact, He usually He says it when He wants people to do something that
will lead them into greater fear. I
think God says, “Don’t be afraid” so often because fear is the Number 1 reason
human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.
At its simplest form, fear is an internal warning cry
that danger is nearby and we had better do something about it. It motivates us to take action and remove
ourselves from whatever is threatening us.
Fear can be a good thing—it keeps us from stepping out into heavy
traffic, or touching live electrical lines.
I’m not talking about that kind of fear.
I’m talking about the fear that makes our spirit a prisoner and keeps us
from the design God has for our lives.
It is the kind of fear that hurts us by keeping us
from trusting God. Trust and fear have
been battling each other for the human heart—and your heart—for a long
time. Eventually one or the other will
Think about your life.
Where is Jesus calling you to jump to Him with reckless abandon? And at this very moment, which is winning the
battle? Where are you? In or out?
When we allow fear to win the battle, the losses are high. First of all, let’s look at what you lose
when fear wins out over trust.
1. There Is The Loss Of Worth!
Why are so many people who claim the name of Christ lack that sense of self-worth when we have every reason to have that sense of self-worth? When you face a difficult situation, do you approach it, take action, and face it head on; or do you avoid it, wimp out, and run and hide? The Enemy want us to take the easy way out.
Away Your Dignity And Without Dignity There Is No Self-Worth And When There Is
No Self-Worth There Is No Confidence In Us To Face That Fear. Living in fear
kills our inner sense of confidence.
2. There Is The Loss Of Destiny!
If you live in fear, you will never experience the
potential that God has placed in you.
Remember, Growth Always Involves Risk, And Risk Always Involves
If you are waiting for some ironclad guarantee that everything will work
out perfectly, if you are waiting for all the risk to be removed, you will stay
where you are—and stagnate.
of failure holds us like a prison. You
have a Divine Destiny; a potential
God has in you. But it’s your choice on
what to do with it
If fear holds you captive, you will lose that Divine
Destiny—and that is a price that is
too high to pay.
3. There Is Also A Loss of Joy!
Have You Ever Met A Deeply Joyful, Chronically Worried
Person? Fear destroys joy! Live in fear, and you will know the pain of constant,
chronic anxiety. Giving in to fear is a
joy-killer. It will make your
imagination run toward the negative:
“What if bad things happen? What
if I’m misunderstood? What if I don’t
succeed? What if I preach a bad sermon?”
When You Live
With A Fear-Perspective, You Give Those Things The Power To Rob You Of Joy
Right Now. You and you alone give fear its power. When you live in fear, the power of “what-if”
becomes overwhelming., and you go through life without joy. And finally,
4. There Is A Loss Of The Sense Of God’s
Fear whispers to us that God is not going to take care
of us. It tells us we are not really
safe in his hands. Simply put, Fear Says
That God Isn’t Available FOR You. He’s too busy or you’re too weak, too
worthless for God to take an interest in you.
When you believe that God isn’t available to you—you will not draw from
His presence the strength and power you need.
Fear causes us to distort the way we think about God, and makes us
unavailable to God. Fear makes us live
as though we serve a semi-competent god.
Fear dominates our need for security, and herein lies
the problem. Fear Cannot, By Its Very Nature, Will
Ever Give Us A Single Shred Of Security. Fear holds us tighter than any rope or
chains. It will flood your heart and
mind with doubts and anxieties. There
will never be any peace in your life, and no real security, until you hear the
voice of Jesus say: “Come on!” and then,
get your feet wet.
So, how do we overcome this demon of fear? Let me share with you 3 things you can do so that God can defeat your demons of fear:
1. Rehearse God’s Presence Every Day
This is something you do BEFORE you find yourself in the boat in a storm. Rehearsal is what you do before the start. This is what you do at the beginning of your day. And do it more often if you need it:
Acknowledge Who He Is! Revelation 1:8
Remember That God Is Always With You!
Remember The Moments Full Of His Love, Grace And Mercy. Psalm 77:11
Affirm Who You Are! Romans 8:16
Ask God To Search Your Heart! Psalm 139:23-24
2. Renew Your Mind All Day Through The Holy Spirit
Focus on your thinking. Your thinking influences how you see your circumstances, your culture and people you encounter. That’s why Paul said in Romans 12:2—“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Changing your thinking is an intentional and continual decision on your part. Here are some things that can help:
Read or listen to the Bible throughout the day.
Listen to or sing in your heart some of your favorite music about God’s faithfulness, grace, mercy and love.
Read or listen to writers who inspire and challenge you.
Before you made a choice, act or speak, ask God to help you see the moment the way HE sees it.
Have Conversations With God all day long—we call it prayer.
3. Re-Focus Your Heart In That Moment
If you haven’t been doing the previous 2 things, this will likely be impossible for you. Now, look at Peter’s third encounter with fear—he saw the waves and felt the wind. That became his new focus. But…but when he realized what was happening because of that new focus—he calls out to Jesus. He was afraid in the boat—but he overcame that fear by calling out to Jesus. And the fear from the storm?
He Overcame That Fear By Calling Out To Jesus.
Later on Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:18—So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
So, Here Are
Your Next Steps:
Frightens You The Most.
Ask Jesus To
Take It Away—He Will, You Know.
Thing You Would Try To Do For God’s Kingdom If Fear Wasn’t An Issue—Because
Remember, you will never be totally free from fearful
thoughts, but you do not have to give that fear any power—God will always be
with you. Even if you sink, the Original
Water-Walker will be there to lift you up in love and without condemnation.
Today we’re going to talk about Leverage. But before we do, let’s look at our theme
passage again from Matthew 14:25-32, but this time I want to share it
with you from The Passion Translation:
four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the
waves! 26 When the disciples saw him
walking on top of the water, they were terrified and screamed, “A ghost!” 27 Then Jesus said, “Be brave
and don’t be afraid. I am here!”
shouted out, “Lord, if it’s really you, then have me join you on the water!” 29 “Come and join me,” Jesus replied. So Peter stepped out onto the water and began
to walk toward Jesus. 30 But when he realized how high
the waves were, he became frightened and started to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he cried out.
immediately stretched out his hand and lifted him up and said, “What
little faith you have! Why would you let
doubt win?” 32 And
the very moment they both stepped into the boat, the raging wind ceased.
Before we dive into looking at the principle of Leverage, let’s back up and do a quick review from last week. We talked about that process of discovering and uncovering your giftedness for the Mission of The Kingdom. Here’s what the process looks like:
God’s Gift Produces Great Joy.
God’s Gift Requires Gritty Determination To Use It.God’s Gift Produces Great Joy.
Your Gift Will Far Exceed Your Abilities.
Surround Yourself With People Who Have Godly Wisdom.
Align Yourself With People Who Pray.
Start Using The Scientific Method of Trial And Error
OK, on to Leverage. I know I just heard some of you thinking, “What does Leverage have to do with being a Water-Walker?” Good for you thinking like this—I’m glad you asked because it’s the next step in overcoming fear and getting out on the water with Jesus.
Let’s start with a definition of Leverage. This word is used in a lot of different
contexts, but let’s go back to the scientific principle of Leverage and
move from here: “Leverage changes the
amount of force needed to move an object. It reduces the strength required to move a
much heavier object.” This principle
is applied in finance, business and politics.
But there is a spiritual application to the concept of leverage that
needs to be explored.
Like most things in The Kingdom Of God, spiritual applications and principles work in Backwards Logic. Here’s a few:
In Order To Live, You Must Die;
In Order To Find, You Must Lose;
In Order To Receive, You Must Give;
In Order To Rise Above The Crowd, You Must Serve The Crowd.
Now let’s apply the
Backwards Logic of The Kingdom to Leverage.Spiritual
Leverage Reduces The Influence Of The Stronger Object. Think about moving a rock that weighs 3 times
more than you. You take a lever, find
the right pivot point and even though you weigh 3 times less, you can move that
rock. Your weight and the weight of the
rock remains the same.
In Spiritual Leverage, the weaker you become, the weaker the object becomes, until you are stronger. What I’m trying to say is that whatever is in the way of you stepping out of the boat to become a Water-Walker, becomes weaker as you become weaker. Insane! Am I right? Does this really make Logical Sense to us?
And this leads me to The One Thing You Need To Remember From This Message, And It’s Not My Idea, But the Apostle Paul’s: God’s Power Works Best In Our Weaknesses.
In case you forgot, Paul had been pleading with God to
take away some unknown “thorn in the flesh”.
It didn’t happen—instead God revealed something more powerful that Paul
needed—and so do we. 2 Corinthians
12:9—“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” This was God’s
Most people love the hear stories about the powerful
God we serve. But herein lies the
problem: That information alone is not
enough to create courageous human beings.
I can receive tons of information designed to assure me that God’s power
is sufficient. But the information alone
does not transform my human heart.
In order for such a transformation to take place, we
need to learn how to apply Leverage—using one force to move what seems to be
an immovable object. If you want to
know if you are living outside the boat, then ask yourself this question, and
ask it often: What am I doing now
that I could not do apart from the power of God? It’s clear, the only way Peter could stay
afloat was if God took over.
When we risk using our Spiritual Giftedness, we
can know the joy of being used by God. But
we have to trust before we act. We see
this over and over again in scripture.
Moses had to trust that God would part the Red Sea. Gideon had to reduce his army from 32,000 to
300 before God would bring the victory. Naaman
had to wash 7 times in the water before he was cured of leprosy. The loaves and fish had to be relinquished
before they were multiplied. The seed
has to be planted in the soil and die before the harvest can happen.
Most of us have an area that might be called our “Spiritual
Comfort Zone,” which is the area we feel most comfortable trusting
God. When God calls us to go beyond our
spiritual comfort zone, we begin to feel nervous or uncomfortable. We would prefer not to go outside that zone
until we feel better about it.
You have to follow the Path of God, which requires us
to admit our weaknesses and inabilities.
Pay close attention to Peter’s Statement: “Lord,
if it’s really you, then have me join you on the water!” It’s
those 5 words: “have me join you”—it’s the words of weakness and
inability. Most folks don’t have the
problem of being too weak—though that is what they say.
The problem is many are often Too Strong. What God told Paul is the same thing He wants us to hear: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Where do we need to Leverage our weaknesses so that God’s Power works the best? There are a lot of points and places, but think about these as a start in your life.
1. Leverage Our
Points Of Our Fear!
Step out of the boat at the point of your fears. Why?
Because He wants us to overcome them through His Power, and not
be intimidated and defeated by them.
For example, one of the most exciting adventures in
life is helping another person find God.
What keeps us from getting out of the boat evangelistically? Fear!
But on the other hand, look at the upside potential. We might actually be part of God’s redemptive
purpose on earth. But if I wait until I
feel like I’ll be 100% effective, I will never step out of the boat to help
someone surrender to Jesus.
What, exactly are you afraid of, spiritually? Bring those fears to God and God will provide His Power. But, if you never admit your weakness of fear, you will never know His Power. Secondly,
2. Leverage Our
Points Of Frustration!
Sometimes people in Scripture get motivated to trust
God in remarkable ways when they become frustrated with the brokenness of a
fallen world. We see it in David when he
couldn’t stand any longer the insults of Goliath. We see it in Elijah when he could stand the
idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel.
In the world today, it is at the point where we are
frustrated by the mess our culture is in and that sense of what God desires. To fix that gap between what is and what God
desires should motivate us to action for a cause that is greater than
ourselves. It may be your frustration
with political systems that abuse people.
It may be your sense of frustration that there are so many homeless
people. It may be your frustration with
the loneliness the elderly often feel when placed in a skilled nursing
facility. Whatever it is that makes you
feel frustrated, take your weaknesses to bring about change and allow Him to
fill you with His Power. Thirdly,
3. Leverage Our
Points Of Compassion!
Being A Water-Walker Means We Move Towards What Breaks
Our Heart. Compassion is expressed in our actions. Jesus certainly modeled this for us. Scripture says that many times when Jesus
looked at the crowds, seeing their deepest needs, He was filled with
When was the last time you took a serious compassion
risk? Jesus did it all the time. He touched lepers, ate with tax collectors,
associated with prostitutes; all these were a part of His calling—they were why
He came! For you it is working with Christian
Center of Concern, Delivering meals on the Third Saturday, or coming up with an
idea that Shows Compassion To Those Who Need It, Not Those We Think Deserve
4. Leverage Our
Points Of Prayer!
Real-life stories of Water-Walkers are always
stories about prayer. There is something
about getting out of the boat that turns people into Intense Pray-Ers. They live each moment of each day with the
conviction that they cannot accomplish things without God’s help.
Paul prayed—3 times—about his thorn in the flesh. And all 3 times, God’s answer was the same—“My strength works through your weaknesses.” Peter’s Prayer Request Was To Join Jesus On The Water. So tell me this: What’s Your Prayer Request For Yourself? Is it about yourself? Is it complaining about the shape of our culture? Is it wanting Jesus to come back now to get you out of this miserable culture?
Well, I’m down to your Next Step. For some of you, this Next Step may
well be the most painful moment of your life.
It’s a moment you’ve been putting off—or you’ve been living in
Tell God Your Weakness.
It could be pride that is keeping you from getting out of the boat and into a relationship with Jesus. You’ve been playing the church game, and you don’t want anyone else to know.
It may be fear that is holding you in the boat—fear of failure—or just maybe your fear is the fear of Truth—that if the truth of your life becomes public knowledge, you’re afraid that those closest to you will be ashamed of you and turn away from you.
It may be shame that’s keeping you in the boat. It may be a private shame of something you once did—or a public shame that everyone knows about. It may be a lifetime of shame—of doing the wrong thing—making the wrong choices.
It may be doubt that keeps you off of the water. You don’t want to admit it, but you seriously doubt you could ever be a Water-Walker because, well because Jesus couldn’t help you be that Water-Walker you’ve been hearing about.
Or it may be the worst weakness of all—You Have No Weaknesses. Arrogance is your weakness and you don’t even know it.
Here is what I’m asking you to do this morning. Leverage Your Weakness. If one of these, or any of an infinite number
of weaknesses is yours—take that weakness to the right place.
Bring it to The Father—tell Him all about it. Then listen…listen to what HE says about your
weaknesses—“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
I’ve asked you not to focus on Peter’s sinking—but think about it now. When Peter started sinking what did he do? He Leveraged His Weakness By Crying Out To Jesus. And Immediately—Immediately Jesus Saved Him! Leverage Your Weakness By Bringing It To God, And The Grace Of God Becomes Stronger Than That Thing That Is Keeping YOU In The Boat
Let’s read the story again for this series from Matthew 14:25-32
three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the
water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water,
they were terrified. In their fear, they
cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But
Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take
courage. I am here!”
Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking
on the water.” 29 “Yes,
come,” Jesus said. So Peter went
over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But
when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to
sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little
faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back
into the boat, the wind stopped.
Sometimes, in our desire to serve God, we make rash
judgments. We rush into action rather
than seeking permission. Even though
I’ve been challenging you to get out of the boat, we don’t engage in Water-Walking for the sake of Water-Walking. We are
talking about choosing Extreme DiscipleshipOver The Desire For Comfort. We have to understand something from
Matthew’s account. Peter is not in
charge of this Water-Walking Experience. Jesus Is In
Even though he looks before he leaps, when he gets
permission, he takes his leap of faith. That Leap Of
Faith Was One Of The Defining Moments In Peter’s Life.
Sometimes when we feel life is boring, or we feel like
life is passing us by, we can make a rash decision that is not in line with
God’s call for our lives. We can make risky
decisions that are short-sighted and absolutely dumb. But When Jesus Calls Us By Name, It’s To Join In
Walking With Him On The Water.
In this Series, I hate to say this is the most
important one of all—because it’s not the most important one. But today’s message is the Pivotal
Message; your notes are on the front
and back. Miss this one and the previous
2 mean nothing; and the remainder will not help you become The Water-Walker God
empowers you to be!
This leads us to the one thing you need to remember
from this message: It Isn’t The
Emotional High Of Being A Water-Walker That Motivates Us—It’s The Desire To
Engage The World For The Kingdom Of God Using His Spiritual Gifts.
For The Mission Only Work While We Walk On The Water. Every person
is gifted by God, through the Holy Spirit for The Mission of the Church. The Mission of the Church is to do exactly
what Jesus did: To engage
the world for the Kingdom of God. Jesus did that with His Words, Attitude, and
One morning after a daylong session in Capernaum of
healing and casting out demons, Jesus left.
But the people looked for him until they found him and begged him to
stay. But Jesus told them, “Look, The
Father sent me to tell the world about The Kingdom, and that’s what I’m going
to do!” (Luke 4:43)
The way we join in The Mission is through the use of the
Spiritual Gifts God gives to everyone. Question: Do you believe the Bible is God’s Inspired Word? It’s what Paul said in 1
Corinthians 12:7—“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each
other.” Help each other do what? To Engage The World FOR The Kingdom Of God.
Sometimes we try to barter with God by saying we want
to know what the gift is before we make up our mind to become a
Water-Walker. But it doesn’t work that
way. You have to unconditionally trust
Of The Gift.
At this point we should lay out a principle that is to be understood and accepted: Everyone Is Gifted To A Mission And Ministry. It’s not just pastors and missionaries and teachers and exceptional people. God Gifts us all in different ways. You need to be able to recognize The Gift that God has given you. Here’s some easy ways to recognize The Gift:
1. Your Gift Reflects God’s Image.
Let’s begin with a profound theological question: What Does God Do All Day? If we were to answer this question with one word, what would that word be? A great insight into this question is found in the very first book of the Bible, in the very first chapter. The word would be: Work! God is at Work. For 6 days, God is at Work. And On The 7th Day, He Only RESTS, Not Retires. God forms us with His very own hands to join Him in the Work. When Jesus came to earth, he Worked. First as a carpenter, then as the Messiah, God’s anointed one! And then as The Conqueror Of Sin and Death.
You Are A
Piece Of Work By God. You were made in God’s image. You are created to Work, to create, to lead, to study, to organize, to heal,
to cultivate—to do something that engages the world for The Kingdom Of God.
In Discovering Your Gift, It Will Say Something About God By Reflecting God’s Image. This means that you must get to know Him personally and deeply. Knowing God more deeply helps you know Your Gift. You experience God for yourself. Your Gift will reflect God’s image. Here’s a second way to recognize Your Gift:
2. Your Gift Is Essential To The Work Of The Kingdom Of God.
When my kids and grandkids were little we bought them
gifts, and the 3 words I dreaded most were:
Some Assembly Required. Inevitably, there would be a few parts left
over, lying alone and not in the finished project. I always thought the factory just put some
extra parts in there because someone just slipped up and put useless parts in
there—parts not needed for completion of the project.
But this is not how God works. He does not make spare parts. You are not spare parts. You Have A Purpose—A Design That Is Central To God’s Dream To Engage The World For His Kingdom. God has given you talents, longings, and passions. God knows how to use those talents, longings and passion along with your Gift in order to engage this culture for The Kingdom.
In the movie “Blues Brothers,” John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd were ex-convicts on a trip. They were trying to raise money for an orphanage. Anytime they were asked about their work, their standard response was: “We’re on a mission from God!”Here Is The Story Of Your Life: You Are On A Mission From God. And your mission is essential to the vitality of the Kingdom and key to God’s purpose for creation. And the third way to recognize Your Gifts is this:
3. Your Gift Is Something You Discover, Not Something You Choose.
You did not arrive on earth with your Gifts pre-developed. You arrived with a little warning: Some Assembly Required. The word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin word ‘vocatio’ meaning ‘a calling, a being called.’ Discovering your mission involves careful listening. God is the Call-ER and we are the Call-EE.
So how can we discover this Gift, this call? I’m not going to give you a magic formula to discover your gift—because there is no magic formula. But, as Nick Saban is fond of saying, there is a process that we have to buy into or it doesn’t work. Let me share what this process involves, in no particular order—but you will go through all of them: Let’s consider these your Next Steps:
God’s Gift Produces Great Joy. Think about it this way: have you ever received a gift from someone where you smiled and said, “That is exactly what I’ve been wanting!”? But inside your mind you’re thinking, “What a hideous gift! What were they thinking?” Don’t say anything in case that person is in this room. You hide it in the back of a closet and only get it out if you know they are coming to your house or you’re going to see them. But God’s Gift for you always brings feelings of great enjoyment. But there’s more.
God’s Gift Requires Gritty Determination To Use It. Here’s why: The Enemy doesn’t want you to use that Gift and will try to prevent you from using it. Why? Because He Fears You When You Operate Out Of Your Gift Rather Than Out Of Your Ability. If Satan doesn’t fear you, it’s because you’re still in the boat.
God’s Gift Fills You With That Sense Of Urgency And Necessity. The word “necessity” comes from 2 Greek words that mean “intensity” and “ache”. When You Discover Your Gift, There Will Be An Intense Ache Inside You When You Are Not Faithfully Using Your Gift.
Your Gift will far exceed your abilities. Remember that Gifts are about what God does through you rather than what you do for God. Your Gift is Spiritual not natural. Use your abilities for the Kingdom, but do not neglect your Gift.
Surround Yourself With People Who Have Godly Wisdom. These people will help you identify your Gift because they are also in tune to listening to God. They can help you name your Gift and help you use your Gift.
Align Yourself With People Who Pray. In discovering your Gift and in using your Gift, you need to be surrounded by Prayer Warriors. People who frequently pray are in frequent conversation with God. Remember, Satan is afraid of you when you use your Gift—so we need the Hosts of Heaven’s Armies all around us.
Start Using The Scientific Method. I know that sounds so unspiritual. But if you are still having difficulty identifying your Gift, the Scientific Method helps. In case you may have forgotten, the Scientific Method is Trial And Error. Try using a Gift to see if it works in you; try more than once. If it doesn’t work, try something else. According to a legend, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Did Peter know he had the Gift to Walk On Water? I don’t think so. But he had to try, otherwise he would have never known—and neither will you.
Your Gift Is Found By Listening. When you have truly listened to God, you heart will drive you to use that Gift and step out of the boat. Spiritual Gifts Are Designed To Work On The Water, NOT In The Boat.
different from abilities, skills, and your wheelhouse. You need to use Your abilities, skills and
wheelhouse here. But Giftedness is different.
It Originates From Outside Us—Works Its Way IN Us—So That THROUGH Us We
Engage The World For The Sake Of The Kingdom Of God. But it takes a surrender of what you know—in
order to find out what God knows.
Peter knows, at least he should know—that this is
outside his abilities, skills and definitely not in his wheelhouse. The Gift God gives you is to make you into
more than you could ever become—to do more than you ever thought you could
do. But it is never beyond what God can
We’re Not Gifted To Work FOR God, But We Are Gifted To Work WITH God. Remember, you are on a mission from God. And it’s yours—yours to discover—yours to claim—and yours to live!
We’re Not Gifted To Work FOR God, But We Are Gifted To Work WITH God.
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
Matthew 14:25-32 (NLT)
Today we are in the 2nd week of our series
on being a Water-Walker. Last week we
discovered that the first step is to get out of the boat. And the way to do this is to recognize God’s
presence, live in extreme discipleship, and actually step out of the boat. Remember, your fears will tell you what you
This is a great story, but we’ve mistreated Peter’s
part, especially us preachers, me included.
We tend to focus on Peter’s sinking a bit too much sometimes. But it really hit me as I was preparing for
this series, that phrase In The Boat.
Those guys in the boat praised Jesus, for calming the
storm, Because They Missed The Point. The Theophany Wasn’t In The Calming Of The Storm; It
Was In The Walking On The Water! We criticize Peter for sinking, but don’t
forget that the rest of them were still In The Boat.
Water-Walkers sometimes sink. Occasionally we fall flat on our faces. Listen, I am convinced that our greatest
obstacle to Extreme Discipleship is found in our fear of failure.
If you never want to fail at anything, then do nothing at all.But even at
that, you’re still a failure because you’re not living up to the potential God
sees in your life.
As I said last week, Water-Walking is risky business,
and we had better make sure we enter this journey with both eyes open. Let’s look at the Attitude Of Water-Walkers. First of all:
1. Water-Walkers Expect Problems!
So, Peter goes to the side of the boat. The other disciples are watching closely, In
The Boat. They’ve seen Peter shoot
off at the mouth before. They wonder how
far he’ll take this thing. He puts 1
foot over the side. I imagine he’s
gripping the side of the boat with white knuckles. Then he slides the other foot over. Now what?
Something Spiritual. He Lets Go Of The
He completely gives himself up to the power of Jesus. For a moment, it seems like there’s no one
there but Peter and Jesus. Peter is
delighted! Jesus is thrilled with his
disciple: Like Master, Like Disciple. Then it
Peter saw the wind and the waves. Reality sets in, and Peter asks himself,
“What was I thinking?” He realized he
was on the water in the middle of the storm without a boat—it terrified
him! But nothing has really changed. The storm should have come as no
surprise. It’s been there all along.
What happened was, Peter’s focus shifted from the Savior to the Storm. But we all understand that, don’t we? We set out with high expectations, but them wham! The storm comes. Opposition, setbacks, obstacles—they should have been expected because face it, this world’s a pretty stormy place. When Peter started sinking, who did he call out to? The guys in the boat or Jesus? We Can Get Out On The Water Because We Know That If We Start Sinking, Jesus Is There To Help Us.
Some people will never get out of the boat because of
the storm. But if we know ahead of time
there will be a storm, we can brace ourselves for it. Prepare for it by keeping our focus on the
Savior and not the Storm! If you get out
of the boat, you will face the Storm. But
we have to remember: We Never
Face The Storm Alone!
There’s always another Water-Walker with us, the Original Water-Walker! Everything
worthwhile in life is risky! But if you
don’t take the risk, you slowly die of boredom and stagnation.
2. Water-Walkers Accept Challenges As The Price
Now we come to a part of the story you may not like
very much; I don’t care for it much myself.
The Choice To Follow Jesus—The Choice To Grow—Is The Choice For The
Constant Recurrence Of Challenges—Difficult Challenges. You’ve got to get out of the boat a little
every day. Let me explain.
The disciples get into the boat, face the storm, see
the Water-Walker, and are afraid. Jesus
said, “Don’t be afraid.” Peter braces
himself, asks permission to go overboard, sees the wind, and is afraid all over
again. Do you think that’s the last time
in Peter’s life that he will experience a challenge?
Here is a deep truth about Water-Walking: The Challenges Will Never Go Away. Why? Because Each
Time I Want To Grow, It Will Involve Going Into New Territory, Taking On New
Challenges.Each Time I Do That, I Am Going To Be Stretched, And
So Will You. The challenges will never go away as long as
we continue to grow. That’s great news,
You don’t have to worry about those challenges. Challenges and growth go together like
macaroni and cheese. It’s a package
deal. The Decision To Grow Always Involves A
Choice Between Risk Or Comfort. This means to be a follower of Jesus you have
to renounce comfort as the ultimate value in your life. It’s human nature to value comfort over
risk. Do you know the name of the bestselling
chair in America? La-Z-Boy!
Not Risk-E-Boy, not Work-R-Boy, but La-Z-Boy. We have a name for people who vegetate in
front of the TV: Couch Potatoes. The other
disciples could be called “Boat Potatoes.” They didn’t mind watching, but they didn’t
want to actually do anything.
And today, Millions Of People Could Be Called “Pew Potatoes.” They want the
comfort associated with a shallow spirituality, but they don’t want the risk
and challenge that go along with truly following Jesus. Jesus is still looking for people who will
get out of the boat.
Between Risk Or Comfort Grow Into A Habit. Every time you get out of the
boat, you become a little more likely to get out the next time. It’s not that the fear goes away. You realize that it does not have the power
to destroy you. And finally:
3. Water-Walkers Master Failure Management!
As a result of seeing the wind and giving in to fear,
Peter began to sink into the water. So
here is the question: Did Peter
Before you answer that question, allow me to share some insights I have
been discovering about failure, because we will be talking a lot about that in
the coming weeks.
Not An Event, But Rather A Judgment About An Event. Failure is NOT
something that happens to us, or a label we attach to things. It Is A Way We Think About Outcomes. Here’s good
example. Jonas Salk is credited with
discovering the polio vaccine. Are you
aware that it took him over 200 attempts before he successfully discovered the
polio vaccine? 200 attempts without
success, would you dare call Dr. Jonas Salk a failure? Would you say he failed 200 times? I think not.
There Were 11 Bigger Failures Sitting In The Boat. They Failed Quietly, Privately, Unnoticed,
Unobserved, And Uncriticized. Only Peter knew the shame of public
failure. But Peter knew two other
things, things the 11 did not experience:
One: Only Peter Knew The Glory Of Actually Walking
On The Water. Be it ever so brief a moment—but he knew what
it felt like to do something that was made possible only by the power of
God. Peter Knew He Didn’t Do; It Was A God Moment. It was a
defining moment that went with him for the rest of his life.
Number Two:Only Peter Knew
Glory Of Being Lifted Up By Jesus In A Moment Of Desperate Need. Peter knew in
a way that the others could never have known, that when he sank, Jesus would be
there and was completely adequate to save him.
Notice carefully in the story, Jesus spoke to Peter
BEFORE they go back into the boat. His
words to Peter were between just the 2 of them (and if that’s the way Jesus
handled it, who are we to criticize someone in front of others?). They couldn’t know that, because they never
got out of the boat! Failure Occurs
When We Choose To Stay In The Boat—To Choose Our Comfort Over The Risk!
Now, let’s tie all this together. It was Peter’s attitude to risk failure that helped
him to grow. When he was out of the boat, as long as he
looked at Jesus, he was a Water-Walker.
When he looked at the storm, he was a water-sinker.
But Peter learned an invaluable lesson—He
Understood His Dependence On Faith Much More Deeply Than He Would Have If He
Had Never Left The Boat. This is what those In The Boat missed.
Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of
the boat. Why risk it? Here’s why:
It Is The Only Way To Real Growth.
It Is The Way True Faith Develops.
It Is The Only Alternative To Boredom And Stagnation
That Causes People To Wither Up And Die.
The Water Is Where Jesus Is At!
may be dark, wet, and dangerous. But
Jesus is not in the boat. What about you? When was the last time you got out of your
boat? God uses real-world challenges to
develop our ability to trust in Him, not reading great books or listening to
We tend to seek a world of comfort where we can
maintain the illusion of control. But
then, God passes us by, and shakes up everything. The call to get out of the boat involves
crisis; at times failure; that call is made in the presence of fear; and
sometimes it leads to suffering—but that calling is always to a task too big for us. But there is
no other way to grow faith and to partner with God.
It’s risky getting out of the boat, and you can do it
with the right attitude. But to have
this right attitude, You Have To Take These Next Steps.
Pray Right Now, This Prayer: “Jesus, I Have Complete and Unconditional
Confidence In You And None In Me.” Pray this prayer right now. Don’t close your eyes. Look up and imagine you are looking God right
in His eyes as you pray it. Now make
this your attitude. If you fail, then
you’re not worried because you will count on Jesus, just like Peter. Jesus will always be in the water with you.
Do Something Spiritual—Get Out Of Your Boat And Help
Another Person See Jesus In You. This is the only way you will ever be known
like Peter—and like Jesus—A Water Walker.
OK, the level of….of….of….I’m trying to think of a nicer word, but I can’t. So here goes. The level of stupidity is going off the scale. The latest involves…you know…Washington D.C. and the U.S. Congress. This latest level of stupidity is being led by U.S. Representative William “Lacy” Clay of Missouri with help from U.S. Representative Ro Khanna of Cauliflower, excuse, California.
They are writing a bill to present to Congress called The PEACE Act. Sounds innocuous. Who wouldn’t want peace? Well, here’s the full title: Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone. It redefines when Federal Law Enforcement can use lethal force. It would also require states to comply with the same standards or lose federal funds.
Here is the bill in a nutshell: It would require law enforcement officers to ask a suspect NOT to kill them BEFORE they could use lethal force. It would require the following scenario: Law Enforcement Officer: “I see you with a lethal weapon, would you put in down and not use it to kill me?” OK, now the other side. Suspect: (The sound of his gun). Law Enforcement Officer is injured or dead. And the family will need to be notified. Here’s the link to the whole article: PEACE ACT
I live in a “Stand Your Ground” state, meaning I can defend my property, family, friends and self including but not limited to the use of deadly force. I would have more legal authority than my local law enforcement officers. More than my son who is a Deputy in the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheer lunacy of this proposal shows how out of touch those in our nation’s capitol are with reality. I would like to ask you, my readers, to contact your U.S. Representative and ask them NOT to support this bill. You can find your Representative at this Website.
With proposed legislation like this, we are going to see that Darwin’s theory wasn’t about the past, but the future. This is leading to nothing but chaos and anarchy, where only the strongest which seems to be the criminal element, will survive. Let’s end the lunacy in D.C. and bring back common sense.
Do your circumstances feel like you are living in exile? You work at a job that under-appreciates your work, and under-pays you for overworking you. You have been terminated from work and the pile of bills is now a mountain of bills. Your spouse has left you for more excitement that you were able to provide. You wish your spouse WOULD leave because all they do is belittle you and tell you all that you do wrong. You look in the mirror with great disgust at the person looking back at you because you hate what you see. The doctor prescribes a series of chemo and radiation treatments because of your cancer. The church you attend is embroiled in political and in-house bickering and fighting. Your parents lament on a daily basis on how you could have done better. The air conditioner, refrigerator, and hot water heater all died the same day. The Sheriff’s Department just posted an eviction notice on your door.
Now, add to all of that the cultural and political wars going on in the good old U.S. of A. The news channels blaring away at all the upheaval, and the violence that is happening every day, all day long. I don’t know about you, but there have been many moments where I felt like I was in exile.
Feelings of exile have a long history. In many cases, it was more than a feeling, it was a national reality. Jeremiah lived in such a time–a literal time of exile. And Jeremiah has something to tell them–something God wanted them to know.
4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Jeremiah 29:2-7 (NLT)
They are living in a foreign land, under foreign rule, with foreign customs and a pagan culture. Pagan Culture–does that resonant with you? It resonates with me as a Kingdom Citizen. And I hear a lot of voices that seem to echo the same sentiments. Face it, as Followers of Jesus our culture neither likes nor embraces Kingdom Truth. This time has been appropriately called “The Post Christian Era”. Values of the Kingdom of God are considered outdated. And add to this, that many who professed to be Followers of Jesus looked nothing at all like Jesus. In fighting and self righteousness turned many away from becoming Followers of Jesus.
So, how do we live in a time and place that feels like exile? It seems to me, that the words of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies spoken to Jeremiah still apply today. Look carefully again at what God instructs those exiles to do:
Build homes, and plan to stay
Establish your allegiance and loyalty to Jesus and God’s Kingdom. Be that city on a hill, that candle on the candlestand.
Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce.
Be a producer of the positive wherever you are. Do not lower yourself to engage in the bitter fighting that is so entrenched in this culture. Bring good things into your part of this dysfunctional culture.
Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!
Reproduce Kingdom Values within your family, your circle of close friends, at work–wherever you happen to be. Be the example and encourage others to be that example. You reproduce those Kingdom Values as you teach others–and they see them verified in your daily life.
So far so good, right? Challenging, yes–but doable. But there’s more–and it’s going to be a lot more difficult.
And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile.
Did you just see that? Work for the peace and prosperity of those people who make us feel like we are in exile. It’s simple, really simple. If you are on the left–help and pray that the right would be at peace and experience prosperity. For you on the right–help and pray that the left would be at peace and experience peace. If you are a centrist, then do the same for both the left and the right.
It doesn’t seem fair or just that God would tell us to do that. But…don’t miss that next line from the passage: “the city where I sent you into exile.” God sent Judah into exile because of their disobedience. And for us today? God sends us into the places of exile because they need to be reclaimed and restored to the Kingdom of God. Their reason for exile was disobedience–and our reason is Obedience–obedience to God’s call to wage spiritual warfare against Satan.
Oh, and that last line: “Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” OK, do you want to see our culture transformed? The pray for their Shalom. That is the Hebrew word used. It means, among many things, peace. Pray for the opposite side from you to do well, be strong and have inner peace. If you don’t, well, God said what the outcome will be: You will NOT be strong or be well or have peace.
Your welfare rests upon what you want for others, even those on the opposite side. Followers of Jesus, we are in exile–but we are in exile for a purpose and a reason–to bring The Kingdom Of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” If you want some practical advice on how to accomplish this, well…listen to Paul in Romans 12:21
As long as you are agitated and mad at your culture, nothing will change and you will be miserable. It’s not easy to do–it’s not meant to be easy. It’s meant to cause you to turn to God, seek His Holy Spirit and rely on The Spirit. It doesn’t make sense to do it this way. But…it does work!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him…and it does when you pray for the peace of your enemies.
For the next several weeks,
we are going to be looking at this story from Matthew. Turn in your Bibles or your phones to Matthew 14:25-32. As you are turning, I want to
ask you for a big favor. I’m asking you,
at least through this series, to forget everything you know or have heard about
this story, and use this season to ponder some things you may have either
forgotten, or never thought about. Let’s
25About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on
the water. 26When the disciples saw him
walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus
spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take
courage. I am here!”
28Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to
you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So
Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward
Jesus. 30But when he saw the
strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me,
Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little
faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they
climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
This Is More Than Just A How-To Series; It’s
About Questioning Ourselves On Which Side Of The Boat Are We Living Our Lives. Are we inside the boat or are we outside the
boat? And if we are in the boat, are we
really safer? Is it really safer holding onto what we think makes us safe?
You see, We are all on a journey—it’s called Life. And we get only 1 trip, one opportunity at this thing called Life. Will We Seek To Make This Journey Of Life Inside The Supposed Safety Of The Boat, Or Will We Take The Risk To Step Out Of The Boat And Walk On Water?
Will We Seek To Make This Journey Of Life Inside The Supposed Safety Of The Boat, Or Will We Take The Risk To Step Out Of The Boat And Walk On Water?
Please, make no mistake
about it; it’s risky outside the confines and comfort of the boat. But let me share something with you about
life inside the boat: It’s Boring, Mundane, And It Drains The Life Right Out Of Us. The question of the hour is this: Which is stronger in your life? The so-called safety of the comfortable and
predictable? Or, the desire to live a life that makes a difference?
We will be looking at several issues that we must deal with if we are going to be Water-Walkers. And the very first principle that we must address is so simple, it must be stated and it is the one thing you need to remember: Water-Walkers Have To Get Outta The Boat Or You Will Never Walk With Jesus!
Water-Walkers are not dreamers; they are people of action. They don’t focus on developing great ideas or
thinking lofty thoughts. They are not
interested in how much they can know—but they want to know how much they can
do. Water-Walkers are not interested in
getting the credit, or being on the front page.
They are in the deepest
sense of the word—servants, for they are the greatest risk takers. For them consensus is nice, but they won’t
wait long for it to happen, unless they know that waiting is a part of God’s
Let’s look at what goes into the making of a Water-Walker.
1. Water-Walkers Recognize God’s Presence.
Peter and his friends got
into the boat late one afternoon. Jesus needed
to be alone with The Father. Peter
didn’t mind being in the boat. This is
where he is most comfortable and at ease.
This he can handle, much better than the stuff Jesus has been doing.
But this boat trip was different;
this time this time it was a storm so violent that it was all the disciples
could do to keep the boat upright and floating.
By 3 a.m., they weren’t interested in getting to the other side; they
just wanted to stay alive. It was then
it happened—a shadowy figure appeared through the storm. Mark’s Gospel adds a twist on this
story. He says, “Jesus was about to pass them by.”
This doesn’t mean Jesus was
trying to sneak pass them. The Greek
word for “to go past them,” is the Greek translation of
an Old Testament technical term—Theophany. A Theophany is a defining moment when
God makes an extraordinary appearance for the purpose of revealing a
message. This is an Intentional Act of
Jesus—not sneaking by them—but Revealing Himself To Them!
It’s like when God sent
Moses to a cleft in the rock so God’s glory could pass by him, or when God sent
Elijah to stand on the mountain because he was about to pass by. With each person God was going to call them
to do something extraordinary. In each
situation the person that God called felt afraid.
And every time those people
said yes to their calling, they experienced the power of God in their lives. Jesus was waiting to see if they would
recognize him or not. Before God speaks
to us, he has to get our attention.
Understand, that it’s in our crisis moments where we most frequently encounter God. Those Divinely Appointed Defining Moments Will Come To You And Me. And If You’re Not Looking For Him, You Might Just Miss Him. Of those in the boat, it was Peter who recognizes the moment. He recognized that God was present—even in the most unlikely place. He realized that this was an extraordinary opportunity for spiritual adventure and growth. The second thing you need to know is this:
Divinely Appointed Defining Moments Will Come To You And Me. And If You’re Not Looking For Him, You Might Just Miss Him.
2. Water-Walkers Discern Between Faith And Foolishness.
In an instance where some
would call Peter foolish, again, he calls out to this other Water-Walker, “If it is you Jesus, command me to come to you on the water.” Why does Matthew include this detail? Why doesn’t Peter just plunge into the water? I think it’s for a very important
This Is Not Just A Story About Risk-Taking; It Is Primarily A Story About Obedience. That means I have to discern between an authentic call from God and what might simply be a foolish impulse on my part. Courage alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment.
I have to discern between an authentic call from God and what might simply be a foolish impulse on my part. Courage alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment.
Matthew is not glorifying
risk-taking for its own sake. Jesus is
not looking for bungee jumping, hang-gliding, day-trading, tornado-chasing
drivers in Smart Cars. Water-Walking is
not something Peter does for recreational purposes.
This is not a story about extreme sports. It’s About Extreme Discipleship! Before Peter gets out of the boat, he had better make sure Jesus thinks it’s a good idea. So he asks for clarity: “If it’s really you, call me!” Asking for clarity is a good thing.
I’m almost sure Jesus smiled
a bit, because one person in the boat got it.
Peter had some inkling of what it is that the Master is doing. I don’t see the other 11 lining up for their
opportunity! Not only that, Peter had
enough faith to believe that he too, could have the adventure. And the third thing I want you to know is
3. Water-walkers Get Out Of The Boat.
Right now, I want you to put
yourself in the story. Imagine in your
mind how violent the storm must have been if even seasoned professionals were
afraid. Imagine the size of the waves,
the strength of the wind, the darkness of that night—and no Dramamine!
These were the conditions
under which Peter was going to get out of the boat. It would be tough enough to try to walk on
the water when the water is calm, the sun is bright, and the air is still. Imagine trying to do it when the waves are
crashing, the wind is at hurricane force, it’s 3:00 in the morning—and you’re
Put yourself in Peter’s
place for a moment. You have a sudden
insight into what Jesus is doing—The Lord Is Passing By. He’s inviting you to go on the adventure of
your life. But at the same time, you’re
scared to death. What would you
choose—the water or the boat? The boat is
familiar. You know the boat.
On the other hand, the water is rough, the wind is strong; there’s a storm out there. And if you get out of the boat—whatever your boat might happen to be— Reason And Logic Says You Will Sink And Drown. But if you don’t get out of the boat, there’s a guaranteed certainty that you will never walk on the water.
I believe there is something—Someone—inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more than merely avoiding failure. There exists inside you the desire To Walk On The Water—to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God.
There exists inside you the desire To Walk On The Water—to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God.
Look, a lot of folks point
at the Sinking Peter and say, “Just look at you! Shame on you, Peter! Why didn’t you keep you eyes on Jesus instead
of the storm? You’re pathetic, Peter.”
Let me ask you a
question: Where Were The
Other 11? They were in the boat—the boat that was about
to sink. And this leads me to: Your Next Step:
Identify Your Boat. Your boat is whatever
represents safety and security to you apart from God Himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put
your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so
comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from
joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is
whatever pulls you away from The High Adventure Of
Want to know what your boat
is? Your fear will
tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in
me—especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?
Now, what area of your life
do you need to call out to Jesus with the words of Peter: “If it’s you, call me out!”? What is one risk you can take in your life
that could help your faith to grow?
I believe that right now, that a Theophany is happening in your life. Jesus is about to pass by. Can you recognize Him? And if so, are you using discernment in discovering his will for you? Jesus is passing by, right now. Will you become aWater-Walker? Will you today, right now, engage in extreme discipleship? Jesus is passing by—are you going to stay in the boat, or will you experience your own Theophany, and hear Him calling you, “If you want to walk on water, get out of the boat!”
Tragedy–“an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress”. The past 2 weeks we have seen this definition of tragedy intensified to the nth degree. My heart aches for all of the victims, friends and communities. And the rallying cry of our culture is to fix it so it won’t happen again, or at the very least, make it more difficult to happen again. On this we can all agree. I am tired of seeing these tragedies happening over and over. And please, do not forget that these tragedies happen every day in other places. Last weekend there were 7 killed and 46 injured in Chicago, alone. The cause of these tragedies has a label: “gun violence”. So, what is the “solution”?
Let’s use our imaginations right now and not hold them back. Let’s imagine for a season that suddenly all lawmakers agree 100% to pass every proposed law that is believed would limit, even eliminate the next tragedy from happening. Not a single dissenting vote. I know, some of you are thinking that this is fantasy not imagination. Just humor me, OK?
Imagine that those on the left, who for decades have insisted you cannot legislate morality, change their minds and say, “Yes! We can legislate morality! We’re so sorry we said you couldn’t.” And imagine those on the right saying, “You know, we never saw gun control as a morality issue, and we’re sorry for that.” So, the left, the right, and the middle vote unanimously in favor of those laws. The POTUS signs the bills. Imagine now how different our culture will be because of the legislation.
That very evening, sporting good business, gun dealers, ALL immediately take the banned guns off the shelves and walls. The new background check system is implemented that night. Coders and programmers work diligently throughout the night to make it happen. The very next morning, it is a new dawn and a new day. There are no banned guns anywhere. All people line up at local law enforcement agencies and turn in all banned guns. This senseless “gun violence” is a thing of the past. After all, this is the purpose of all that new legislation. Right? Few, if any tragedies to read about, right?
This “solution” is based upon the premise that the presence of such guns is the true “cause” of these horrible tragedies. Eliminate this “cause” and these types of tragedies will cease to be so prevalent. Thus, we see the word: Gun Violence.
While this “Solution” seems to be logical, it leaves out one element; an overlooked component of these recent tragedies. A man from long ago, noted for his wisdom, describes the missing component this way:
This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all.The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
Ecclesiastes 9:3 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
The Supposition Of This Legislative Solution is elimination of the object equates elimination of the tragedy. The real cause of these recent (and all other) tragedies is what lies not on the shelves, but in the heart. The prophet Jeremiah, sharing what God revealed to him put it this way:
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
The Wisdom from Heaven embodied in Jesus, gets us to the crux of this matter when He said:
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Mark 7:20-23 (NIV)
If Jesus had waited until our current culture to arrive in human form, he would have put it this way: “Look, it’s not what’s on the shelves that is hurting everyone. It is all that stuff, that evil stuff that is coming from the heart that’s the source and cause of what is happening. These kinds of evil tragedies come out of the heart, not the store.”
Out of the evil in the heart of Santino William Legan, he would have found another way. The evil in Patrick Crusius’s heart would have led him to another way. Even Connor Betts would have found a different way. And of the 53 casualties in Chicago last weekend, I doubt any of the guns used were purchased legally. Chicago has some of the strictest laws concerning gun purchases and ownership.
But…it’s so much easier to blame an inanimate object that to admit the current Ethos of our culture has led us to this…this way too frequent tragedies. Some say our Ethos is broken–not so fast, my friend. Every culture has an Ethos –some good, some not so good, and others are down right evil.
it’s so much easier to blame an inanimate object that to admit the current Ethos of our culture has led us to this…this way too frequent tragedies
ThisEthos is what determines what is right and acceptable and what is wrong and unacceptable. Only Ethos of the Kingdom of God can prevent more of these tragedies from occurring. The current Ethos did not happen overnight. It was a journey, a step by step journey away of the Ethos of God’s Kingdom. Our current Ethos began with rejecting 1 part of the Ethos of God, and like dominoes strategically lined up, the entire Ethos of The Kingdom was traded away for an Ethos that cheapens human lives.
Only Ethos of the Kingdom of God can prevent more of these tragedies from occurring.
So how do we stop such tragedies? By committing our hearts to The Kingdom Ethos that is tethered to a life of loving God with all our heart, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and pursuing with everything in us a life of holiness. These most recent tragedies, the past tragedies, are fueled by the Current Ethos. And without a change of Ethos there will be more tragedies.
These most recent tragedies, the past tragedies, are fueled by the Current Ethos. And without a change of Ethos there will be more tragedies
One immediate change will help transform the current Ethos. And that is to stop the hate. Hate produces hate. Hate spewed by the right produces hate spewed by the left; a different hate but hate nonetheless. Hate spewed by the left produces hate spewed by the right; a different hate but hate nonetheless. Hate diminishes the value of human life and is a horrible degradation of human dignity–the dignity of the person being hated and the dignity of the person doing the hating. The thing about hate being spewed is that it covers both the hater and the object of their hatred.
The thing about hate being spewed is that it covers both the hater and the object of their hatred.
Without a doubt, there needs to be an upgrade to the current system of background checks. But emptying the shelves of certain types of guns…well, those empty shelves will not change the Ethos but become a symbol of the hearts empty of God’s love but full of evil. Call it what it is: #HumanViolence and perhaps we can begin to move away from this mess.