Saturday, January 31, 2015

ROWING INTO DEEP WATERS

IN LUKE CHAPTER FIVE WE FIND JESUS PREACHING from Simon Peter’s boat. After Jesus finishes he asks Simon Peter to do something that Peter finds rather ridiculous, here’s the conversation from Luke 5:4-11,

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

I like Peter’s first response, we’ve been fishing with no luck, but “Because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Something in Jesus moved Peter to do something he normally wouldn’t have done. He was tired having fished all night with no luck. He was most likely weary from keeping his boat steady and in one place so this traveling rabbi could preach to the crowd. He was probably just waiting for Jesus to finish so he could clean up the boat and nets and head home for the day, when Jesus says, “let push out to deeper water.”

It didn’t make sense to Peter and the others, but they did it anyway and the results almost sunk the boat!  It was then that Simon Peter and the others realized they were dealing with not just another some itinerant preacher. Something about Jesus and a boatload of fish moved Simon Peter to come face to face with his own sinfulness and even more amazing it would also move Simon Peter and his fellow fishermen to leave their boats and follow Jesus in a new adventure of fishing for people.

Pushing out into deeper water can be a fearful experience. One must row farther and the seas can be rougher and the work of brining up the nets from the depths more tiring, but the extra work, as these new followers of Jesus discovered, can produce amazing results. But catch this, they worked so hard at getting to the fish and bringing the overabundance of fish into boat, but once they got to shore they left it behind! Now, that’s what I can sold-out following, and I believe it is that kind of following to which Jesus calls each of us.

I believe that Jesus is calling His disciples at Felton Bible Church to push out into deeper water. Yes, it may require more work and at times seems fearful or foolish, but I can assure you that the rewards are worth the effort.  Not the rewards of catching more fish, though that is a great possibility, but the reward of seeing Jesus at work.

My new focus as Pastor of Spiritual Formation is to encourage us and help us push out into deeper water. To go to that place where trusting Jesus is paramount. Some may be wondering just what is spiritual formation anyway? M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., has written a book entitled, Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. In his book Mulholland gives this definition:

“Spiritual Formation
 is process of being conformed
to the image of Christ
for the sake of others.”

It is a process of being conformed; that means we are being acted upon, we are called to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit. The goal of spiritual formation is to be conformed to the image of Christ, to return to that original condition for which God created us in the Garden of Eden. (See: Romans 8:29 and Romans 12:1-2) This transformation is not just so that we would be as God desires us to be, but also it is for the sake of those around us, whether they be followers of Christ or still standing on the shore.


As one of the shepherds here at Felton Bible Church I call you to join me in the boat as we push out into deeper waters in order to experience the life-altering transformation that the Lord desires to do in each of our lives, for His glory and the sake of the world. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

USING THE RIGHT LIMBS

TRUTH IS I’M AFRAID OF HIGH PLACES or maybe it’s a fear of falling. I suppose in reality it’s a combination of the two. I’ve not been one for crossing suspension bridges, climbing ladders, or sitting on the edge of a roof, not even very crazy about roller coasters, though I do love the Giant Dipper at the Boardwalk.

A number of years ago, while attending a Family Camp at Mount Hermon, a good friend of mine, Steve Karney, was working the climbing wall. He assured me that he could get me to the top safely, and given the fact that I trusted Steve immensely and that he was as strong as an ox, I decided to give the wall a go.

Steve harnessed me in, pointed out a relatively easy route and then set the ropes and up I went, ever so slowly. When I was about eight feet up my legs started to shake and my arms were too weak to pull any of my bulk up the face of the wall. All of a sudden from what seemed miles below me (eight feet is miles to those fearful of heights) I heard Steve’s voice encouraging me, “Use your legs, they’re the strongest muscle you’ve got!” You see I had been endeavoring to pull myself from hand hold to foothold and could go no further, when once again Steve’s simple direction came, “Stand-up.”

So, I did, and yes, you guessed it I reached the next peg and then the next until I reached the top! Climbing El Capitan it wasn’t, but it was a victory nonetheless.

That day I learned an important lesson in climbing the rock wall; use the right limbs. It’s the old adage, “the right tool for the right job.”


Too often the same is true for the journey of following Jesus. We rely on our weaker muscles, rather than the Holy Spirit’s stronger ones. God, in Christ, has supplied us that which will get us up the wall. We just need to learn how to climb better. Rather than shaking with fear, we just need to stand up in Christ, our firm foundation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

FREEWAY DRIVING

RECENTLY, I WAS RACING DOWN THE 101 in Los Angeles, well, maybe racing is not the operative word, as I was not going over 15mph! While slowly progressing in the “fast lane” I began to watch the cars approaching at a high rate of speed on the opposite side of the K-rail. I was struck by a couple of thoughts. First, am thankful for the people who designed those concrete barriers lovingly referred to as K-rails. Second I realized that there was absolutely no way to communicate with those driving on the other side.  Even if I needed to warn them of oncoming danger we were both moving too fast, and well, stopping on the freeway to chat is not smiled upon by the local CHP.
It got me thinking about our journey through life, especially our spiritual journey. If we desire to interact with people along the way, even those going the opposite direction, we need to get off the freeway and onto the well-beaten path. Sure, it’s a lot slower going, but it can be the path to interacting with God, His creation and with others along the path.
Our culture drives us to move quickly along the roads of life, encouraged even to drive faster than the speed limit. I would like to encourage us to pull over and choose the path that demands a slower pace; a pace which allows for interaction and a pace that allows for peace and rest. I would call it to travel at the pace of prayer.
Personally, I am seeking this year to linger longer with the Lord. I may not be covering a lot of ground at a high rate of speed, but I do sense it is the speed to which the Lord calls us.  I encourage you to linger longer with the Lord this year as well.
God bless you on the journey.

Monday, January 12, 2015

MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL

A COUPLE MONTHS BACK I joined Toadal Fitness, still not quite sure about the name, but it’s a nice place to work up a sweat. I’m hoping (or should that be hopping?) to lose a few unwanted pounds and keep myself healthy. But my progress is not the theme of this little tome.

I just want to know what is it with gyms and gigantic mirrors? For those of us not in the best shape the last thing we really want to see is MORE of ourselves, and give other people more angles to look at our out-of-shape-ness. For those who are in shape they really don’t need to look at themselves; that’s rather narcissistic in my book.

There’s even this huge mirror in the dressing room. I can understand a mirror over a sink so you can see if your part is straight (not a problem for me!) or if your tie is tied nicely (that is a problem for me!), but this mirror must be 8 feet by 8 feet! And it’s right where everybody gets dressed!  You get the picture? Sorry, T.M.I.!!

So, here’s my point, I think I’m troubled by these huge mirrors because of what they reflect back to me and those around me. There’s no hiding. Our lives are like mirrors, thus, the question is, “What does my life reflect when it comes to my relationship with God and my life as a Christian?”

Most of us are afraid of what people will think or say . . . “He’s not in very good shape!”, and so we just keep covered up. But what we need to realize is, it’s ok for people to see us how we are, in fact most people would rather see the “regular guy” than the one so puffed-up with muscles that he can’t even bend over to tie his shoes.

Don’t worry about what other people think, just keep showing up at God’s Gym and work out your salvation with fear and trembling and let the mirror tell the story.  It’s better than sitting on the couch at home eating bon-bons!


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

THE SHORTEST ROUTE TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY

BECOMING SPIRITUALLY MATURE, is a long, a life-long process. It is the journey of spiritual formation. For many of us, at least those who desire to become spiritually mature, we want to get there as quick as possible.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 8:29, reminds us that one of the goals of the Christian life is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  I would say that this is a call to return to our original purpose, implanted in us in creation, in the Garden of Eden.  It is there that we were created in the Image of God, to be His Image bearers in the world He created.

The work of conformation entials the work of renewal and transformation, as once again the Apostle Paul commends us to in Romans 12:1-2. It is in this renewal and transformation by the Spirit of God of our hearts and minds that we can once again return to the purpose for which we were created; to be God worshiping image bearers for the LORD's glory and for His Kingdom.

The frustrating part for many of us is we want the shortest distance of spiritual formation to spiritual maturity. But the greater truth is the shortest way is not the best way.  We cannot rush through spiritual formation and if we try to we shall miss the true beauty God has for us.

I watched this TED Talk and was drawn to it's truth and application to the journey of spiritual formation.  I pray it will be an encouragement to you on your journey.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

RUBBING YOUR EYES

I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S UNIVERSAL, but I have noticed that you don’t have to teach an infant to rub their eyes when they’re getting tired and sleepy.  They just seem to get it naturally.  I can’t offer an explanation why, but I can offer that we rub our eyes at different times to express different things.

As I see it there a few different reasons we rub our eyes, besides when we are sleepy. Consider:

  • when we’re waking up,
  •  when we’re crying,
  •  when they’re irritated,
  •  when we’re in unbelief and it’s close cousin,
  •  when we’re in awe.

 I would like to suggest that as we begin this new year we seek to rub our eyes in wonder at the things God has done and that He continues to do. Spiritually, I believe we are too often moving toward slumber than toward the sublime. We tend to rub our eyes as if life has left us exhausted, and maybe it has, but we can choose to keep our eyes peeled for the works of God in creation, in His Word, in His church, and in the people around us.

It’s difficult to see those things if we are fatigued, worn-out, and otherwise pooped and that it is in God’s wisdom that He has given us the call to Sabbath. It’s not a command to make our life difficult, rather a grace to give us the blessed rest we need so we can be more observant of the blessings which the LORD has lavished upon us.

Therefore, in 2015, let us renew the covenant of Sabbath. Let us rest and linger longer with the Lord, so that we will be able to perceive the presence of the Lord in our very midst and rub our eyes in wonder at the greatness of our God