Step Out

I wonder if Peter really expected Jesus to call him out of the boat?

In Matthew 14 we read a story of Jesus walking on the water.  His disciples were in a boat and while it was still dark, Jesus went out to meet them – walking on top of the water.  I tend to picture the scene by thinking Jesus would have been content to keep on walking, but the disciples saw him and got scared.  Since it was still dark – and of course since there was a man standing on top of the water – they assumed he was a ghost.

Walking On WaterBut Peter finally recognized Jesus.  Still a little unsure of himself he said, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come out on the water.”  That makes sense.  Peter is trying to make sure that he is right – that this really is Jesus.  But I am not sure he expected Jesus to say, “Come.”

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever asked God to clarify his calling?  “God, if this is what you want me to do, show me a sign.”  Has that statement, or something similar, ever been part of your prayer?

Peter wanted proof that Jesus was really standing there before him but I am not sure he expected Jesus to say, “come on in, the water is fine.”

Here’s the thing.  Jesus really is with us – walking with us.  And Jesus really does call us to do things that may seem impossible to us.  But just like Peter, as long as we trust him fully and keep our eyes on him only, he will do amazing things through us.

How is Jesus calling you today?

Answer that call and step out.

Come And See

I started a new sermon series this past Sunday that will continue for two more weeks.  The series title is Living Out Loud.  I pray that this series will inspire each of us to really live out our faith.  This confidence that we have – or profess to have – in Jesus as our eternal savior should make a difference in the way we live our lives.

People should be able to see that we are serious about following Jesus in the decisions we make and the way we relate to others.  This past Sunday the sermon title was Faith Unleashed.  The faith we profess is not for our benefit – not for our own security.  This faith is given to us so that we can share it with others.  Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace; it is nothing we deserve or earn.  But itleading also says that we were created for good works in the same passage.  This faith we have should be turned loose on the world.

As I have been preparing for this coming Sunday, I have been focusing on Jesus’ calling of some of his disciples recorded in John 1:43-46.  In this passage, we find Jesus saying, “Follow me.”  Then we see Phillip going to Nathanael in excitement and telling him that the one Moses talked about has come.  Nathanael was a little skeptical.  But in three short words Phillip persuaded him – “Come and see.”  

Our striving for faith lived out begins with following Jesus and should have one primary focus – to illustrate him to others.  These three words should become a part of our everyday vocabulary – COME AND SEE.

Show others Jesus today!

Loved By God

My reading this morning was out of Isaiah 43.  In this poetic discourse from the prophet, he reminded Israel – and us – that we are important to God.  He spoke God’s words, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah reminds us that God knows us personally – he calls us by name.  And he cares about us.  He not only knows our needs, he actually cares about them.  Isaiah goes on to say, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;  when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Heart and CrossGod promises to be with us through all that life hurls our way – why?  Isaiah records the words of God saying, “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

Let these words sink in for a moment.

Whatever Monday has brought your way – remember – God has promised to see you through it.  If you are wondering why God would be with you or how God could possibly care for a person like you, remember – God offers his redemption and salvation to each of us because we are precious to him – he loves you.

Live as one loved by God today!

Present and Awake

Sunday GatheringGod is with us each and every day.  Jesus’ promise is dependable – he will never leave us nor forsake us.  But so often, we live our lives unaware.  We pass through our days marking time but oblivious to God’s presence and interaction in our lives.

But every once in a while, we get a glimpse.  In a moment of clarity, we come face to face with the creator and we find ourselves overwhelmed with God’s grace and grandeur.

For me, this past Sunday morning was that way (and I was not alone in that experience).  Every Sunday is special.  The gathering of God’s people to worship and just enjoy being together is always a blessing.  But Sunday was different for many.  God’s spirit was moving in the hearts of our family and it was obvious.

As I headed to lunch, I prayed, thanking God for reaching into my life and for moving in the hearts of so many.  As I prayed and reflected on the morning, I asked – “Why can’t church be like that every week?”  I have continued to reflect on that question.  What I keep coming back to is sensitivity.  We don’t manipulate God, so it is not anything we can do to duplicate the experience.

But if we truly believe that Jesus never leaves us.  And if we accept the reality that where two or three are gathered together to honor God, God is in their midst, then we must acknowledge that God is always present when we gather.  If that is the case, then the issue is not God’s presence but rather our awareness.  We need to remember today that God is always present and at work, we just need to wake up and be more sensitive to what he is doing.

I pray that God’s presence will be just as visible this coming Sunday in our church.

But why wait until Sunday?

God, wake us to your presence and love this day – in this moment!

Sunday was an amazing day in the life of our church.  We started the day with worship – thinking about the privilege of prayer.  We also celebrated with four different families as decisions were made to plug into what God is doing here in our midst and become members of our church.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 9.33.33 AMThen we gathered out on the island in the afternoon to celebrate baptism.  We celebrated with 16 people who had made commitments to follow Jesus and were baptized in the surf on that evening.  It was a glorious time of testimony.  Many of our church family gathered to celebrate and of course, the regular beach goers were there too.

As I have reflected on the day, I have been reminded of the importance of sharing our faith openly.  Our world has become more hostile toward those who live their faith openly, but if our faith is real, it should show in the way we live.  That is hard to do when we try and go it alone.

But when we do it in community – together as family – we can lean on one another as we live out loud.

Seek only God’s approval, lean on other believers and live out loud today!

Press On!

I have mentioned the Town and Country Restaurant before.  This morning I arrived early to my breakfast gathering with some of the deacons in our church.  I meet with our deacons of the week each Thursday morning at the T & C just to share a meal and a little bit of life with them.  This morning as I read a little scripture and reflected, my eyes wandered around the restaurant.  

I was close enough to an older gentlemen to overhear a phone conversation he was having.  I intentionally did not eavesdrop but it was easy to determine that someone he is close to had made an emergency trip to the hospital last night.

When he got off the phone, I witnessed his waitress stop by the table and based on her facial expression, I could tell he was relaying the story to her.  In just a few moments, I watched the hostess come and sit with the man for several minutes.Sharing Coffee

As I observed all this, last night’s Bible study content from Mark 3 began to make its way through my mind.  Jesus called the twelve with specific intentions.  The point we talked about last night is that God calls each of us for specific reasons – some to minister in business, some to lead companies in a Godly manner, some to serve the sick in the name of Jesus, some to minister in churches – but all are called.

I watched that truth lived out right in front of me.  The early shift hostess of the restaurant did not have to make her way to the older gentleman’s table.  But she did.  She sat with compassion and listened to his story.  Patrons entered the door and seated themselves because she was not there to seat them.  But what she was doing was more important.  God used her to offer comfort to someone she hardly knew.

The verse of the day today on Biblegateway.com is Philippians 3:14. But if you back up and include the two verses just before, it says this:

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

We may not have it all figured out – we may not have “arrived,” but we must press on to what God called us to.  I love the picture that Paul creates for us when he said, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

If you have allowed Jesus to take hold of you, you need to understand, he has done so for a reason.  Define that reason and press on to take hold of it!

That is what the hostess did this morning.  We can too!

Be a blessing today.

Still Secure

BurglarYesterday, I awoke to discover we had been burglarized – always a great way to start a Monday (or any other day for that matter).  Somehow, our garage door was opened and the burglars made off  with some fishing gear and two sets of golf clubs (they really knew how to hurt a guy).

So the morning was spent making phone calls – to the police, to neighbors and to the insurance company – and the evening was spent visiting local pawn shops.

This is not the first time this has happened to us – and the feelings are the same each time – frustration, anger, vulnerability.  We like to think we are safe and that what we work for is secure.  But then something like this happens and we are reminded that we are always susceptible.  We lose faith in our security.  We lose faith in mankind.

But I was reminded of at least two other things yesterday through this process.  The first is that we will never find security in this world apart from God.  We are aliens in a foreign land – this is not our home.  So we would be foolish to put our trust in things.  All our possessions and even our own physical well being can be taken from us but our relationship with the Father cannot be touched.  As long as our trust is in God we will be secure.

The second thing that I was reminded of is that there are still good people in the world.  From the neighbors to my long time friend and insurance agent to the police officer that was dispatched to our home, God has put good people in our lives.  So even though the temptation would be to give up on the human race, the reality is there are a lot of good people out there.  In fact, I believe there is more good than bad in the world – it is just the bad that gets the press.

Take heart – God is at work!


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