Monthly Archives: October 2013

If You Want to Walk on Water…

6a00d8342086bb53ef0120a62425fe970c-320wiIt’s one of the greatest pictures of extreme discipleship in the Bible. Twelve men out on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the night, being buffeted by the waves. In their distress they see what appears to them to be a ghost. Out of fear, they cry out and in that moment Jesus responds, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” We don’t know how the eleven responded to that voice, but Peter recognizes that God is present, so he blurts out, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

Knowing Peter’s impulsive ways, it’s surprising that he didn’t just plunge right into the water in pursuit of Jesus. Instead he shows restraint and asks Jesus for clarity, in order to discern what God was up to. And by doing so, he is invited to go on the adventure of his life. But in order to walk on water, Peter had to demonstrate faith, get out of the boat and make the commitment to move toward Jesus. However, when Peter’s shifts his focus from Jesus unto the storm, reality begins to sink in, he becomes fearful and plunges into the water.

There are many wonderful lessons in this story. In our lives, God is calling us to commit to him, to join him in life’s adventure, but we often choose the comfort and safety of the boat over joining Jesus on the waves. The choice to follow Jesus takes faith, commitment and determination. To go into uncharted waters with Jesus involves risk, and yet like Peter, we fail to recognize that Jesus is in our midst, so we quickly turn our attention to the storm around us and demonstrate just how little faith we have.

Faith takes trusting in the One who calms the storm and who walks on water!  He has promised to be there and to pick us up. By spending time with the original water walker, our faith muscle grows and we learn to trust him more for the details of our life.

Something More

One man’s life changed the course of history for billions of people across the globe. He is both revered and reviled, famed and feared and you know who he is without a single mention of his name. His name is Jesus! Do you know Him?

Let’s Show Some Respect

cell-phoneCall me the Police of Mobility if you want, but I’ve had enough and I’m beginning to be a big proponent of cell phone etiquette. Yes, I’m guilty of breaking some of these over the years. However, after some recent experiences, I have to say it’s time we really consider how we use our cell phones and realize they are a tool of communication that were never meant to enslave us. So when using your mobile device, please consider these…

8 Ways to Respect Others When Using Your Cell Phone…

1. Let the call go to voice mail! Unless someone is dying, is your call really more important than the person you are talking with? If the call is really that important, they’ll leave a message and you can call them back in a few minutes. Your first priority should be to the person you are with. If you do take a call, be respectful and ask permission of the people with you.

2. Keep your conversations private! Nobody else wants to hear about your private problems and conflicts, so pay attention to the surrounding audience. Go outside to take a call. Create some space between you and others. Find some privacy. If you can’t find a more private situation, use your text or email function to relay messages.

3. Speak softly. You do not have to yell to be heard. Mobile phones are designed for conversation at normal volume levels. Talk as you would talk to other people or on a land line phone. The person you are talking to even has a volume button on his or her phone. You can keep your voice low and discreet by directing your face down and slightly into your chest. If you are not sure if you are too loud, watch the reaction of people near you.

4. Avoid loud and obnoxious ring tones. This is for the lady in the elevator whose cell phone ring tone almost sent me through the roof. Do you really need to have a psycho scream or a police siren to let you know someone’s trying to reach you? Also, keep the ring tone at a reasonable volume, so as not to startle people.

5. Obey cell phone rules. Where there are rules about switching mobile phones off, please obey them. In hospitals and in airplanes, the signals can interfere with equipment. Or so they say. Place your phone in the silent mode or vibrate at church, in libraries, restaurants as well as theaters. And please use hands free Bluetooth devices when driving on the road.

6. Don’t try multi-tasking. Multi-tasking isn’t cool and you really can’t do it properly and safely anyway. Pay attention to what you are doing as multi-tasking can be hazardous, rude and inefficient. The person you are talking to deserves your full attention. So put the phone down, turn off your phone, call back later and concentrate on what you are doing. Your phone conversation can wait, and in doing so you will not inconvenience those around you.

7. Consider your surroundings. Seriously, must you really talk on the phone while in the loo? Especially a public restroom? Not only is this totally inappropriate, it’s an outright invasion of privacy. Be considerate of others who want a little privacy while doing their business.

8. Be present. Don’t prioritize your phone over the people you are with. When we first got Web browsing on our phones, it was fun to answer all questions that emerged during conversation by launching a Google search. The novelty has worn off, and it’s now considered rude. Enjoy the company of those you’re with and let them know they’re more important than your phone or Facebook comments.

In the Name of Jesus

12596_w185Three words best describe Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus, “simple but profound.” Using stories from Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11 and Peter’s call to ministry in John 21:15-19, Nouwen blends the scriptural truths of these passages to discuss the essential qualities for Christian leadership in the 21st century. In the book, Nouwen identifies three temptations facing Christian leaders today, and addresses the disciplines needed within ones life to counter these challenges.

In looking at the temptation account of Jesus in the desert, Nouwen discusses the temptations for relevance, popularity, and power. In defining these, Nouwen relates that leaders are tempted to know if what they are doing is: 1) making a difference (relevant); 2) winning great applause from men (popularity); and 3) influencing people and advancing their agenda to the degree they desire (power).

As a leader in the church, I have to be honest that I often find myself facing the same temptations Jesus faced in the desert. It is a constant struggle to not look to ministry for relevance, popularity and power. I don’t think any of these things influenced my desire to be in the ministry, but I find that I often need to die to my own wants and desires, and realize that ministry is not about me, but about God and His kingdom. I have seen this in my response to the emotional highs and lows of ministry, by sometimes wondering if what I am doing is truly making a difference (relevance. I have seen this in my hesitancy to speak the truth for fear of not being popular. And I have seen it demonstrated in my anger and frustration, when a goal becomes blocked or doesn’t live up to my expectation (power).

While in the text, Jesus dealt with the temptations by quoting truth from the Scriptures, Nouwen suggests that the antidotes to these three temptations are: 1) contemplative prayer; 2) confession and forgiveness; and 3) theological reflection. For those whose temptation is to be relevant, Nouwen advises that we practice the discipline of contemplative prayer, which can keep “us from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own and God’s heart” (p.28), because contemplative prayer keeps us connected with our first love. For those who struggle with the temptation to be popular, Nouwen suggests practicing the discipline of confession and forgiveness within the aspect of community, because this discipline keeps “our ministry communal and mutual” (p.65). And finally for those who wrestle with the desire for power, he suggests the discipline of theological reflection because it “allows us to discern critically where we are being led” (p.65).

If Jesus was tempted in this way, who are we think that we will avoid such temptation? Plain and simple, our biggest temptations as leaders in the church will definitely be the ones Jesus encountered. Therefore we would be wise to be prepared when it comes our way, by embracing and practicing the “simple, but profound” qualities for leadership that Nouwen discusses in his book.

God’s Whisper

imagesA year ago today, God spoke to Jennifer and I through these words in the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young…

October 6

Be willing to follow wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! Some of My richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these gifts, you must walk by faith—not by sight. This doesn’t mean closing your eyes to what is all around you. It means subordinating the visible world to the invisible Shepherd of your soul.

Sometimes I lead you up a high mountain with only My hand to support you. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view becomes; also, the more keenly you sense your separation from the world with all its problems. This frees you to experience exuberantly the joyous reality of My Presence. Give yourself fully to these Glory-moments, awash in dazzling Light. I will eventually lead you down the mountain, back into community with others. Let My Light continue to shine within you as you walk among people again.

We live by faith, not by sight.
—2 Corinthians 5:7

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
—Psalm 96:6

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
—John 8:12

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
—Psalm 36:9

Two days later, I gave notice my notice at SeaCoast Grace Church to accept a call to Adventure Christian Church in Roseville! What a step of faith it was, prompted by these words, which we believe was the whisper of the Holy Spirit confirming His direction and will for our lives. One year later we are grateful that God confirmed His leading through these words, for they were the precise words we needed to hear at that moment. To God be the glory!

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