Archive for January, 2012

Come and See (4)

Posted in Come And See, Jesus on January 26, 2012 by nmpreach

I love the gospel of John.  Too often, I’ve claimed it to be my favorite gospel.  I say too often because I like things about Matthew.  I like Mark’s servant aspect.  And Luke is great when I’m looking for details.  But John is still my favorite.  This time preaching through John’s version of the gospel has been no less than awesome.  Today, we’ll look at a text in John’s sixth chapter.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.  It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.  The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened.  But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’  Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.  (vs 16-21 ESV)

It’s no coincidence that this text follows John’s version of Jesus feeding the 5000.  He is steadily setting out the evidence that Jesus was more than a Jewish carpenter.  It’s also no coincidence that John records this event happening in the dark.  Have you ever been in the dark places?  Darkness carries a sense of uneasiness, of wondering, and in many cases, despair.  Most of the time, we think of bad things happening in the dark.

In this instance, a storm rose on the sea.  The disciples had reached the middle.  Therefore, there was no going back now.  Things looked grim.  After recognizing their challenge, John records the disciples “…saw Jesus walking…and coming near…and they were frightened.”  Why is it that they were frightened?

I don’t know about you.  But when I’m in the dark places, when chaos is all around and things seem to be hopeless, I want to see Jesus.  But they were frightened.  Let’s not be too quick to judge.  Most people didn’t walk on water.  Most people didn’t just show up in the middle of the “sea.”  But Jesus did!  Jesus did things that no one else could do.  And how could He just walk seemingly without effort?  There was a storm happening!  Jesus turned normal on its head.  Chances are, we’d be deathly afraid too.

May I suggest they were afraid because they recognized divinity?  It’s not unlike Isaiah receiving his commission (Is. 6).  Woe to me.  I am a man of unclean lips.  You see, when you recognize you’re in the presence of God, you should recognize the wonder, power, and awe.  It also makes one recognize their own limits.  I can’t.  But God can.

It’s only then that Jesus reassures.  Do not be afraid.  It’s me.  There’s reassurance that we all need right?  Despite all you see, God is with you.  And catch what John says next.  I love this.  Then they were glad to take him into the boat.  Uh…YEAH!  Hugs.  Kisses.  Grief turned to joy.  Trouble to peace.  Jesus is here!

Maybe you’re going through a storm in your own life right now.  Maybe you know it’s too late to return to “shore”.  That the quicker way now is straight ahead.  But you’ve been on this path for a while.  You’re in the middle of the sea.  And the storm has gotten stronger.  It’s dark.  It’s windy and wet.  And you’d love to just have some peace and quiet.  Look around.  Jesus can walk on water in the storm and bring peace to a dire situation.  Maybe you need to hear, “Don’t be afraid.  It’s me.”  Now rejoice.  And let him in the boat!

 

 

Pray

Posted in Prayer on January 25, 2012 by nmpreach

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve set out this year to grow in my prayer life. I want to pray like Elijah. Like the man of faith in James. Like God desires.

It’s interesting that we’re beginning a study on prayer in a small group tonight. In just a few weeks, another group will study Mark Batterson’s Circle Maker. I’m stoked! I’m excited for my own spiritual growth. But I’m also excited to see what God has in mind for the Church at FCC.

God has amazing things in store. I believe that because it is no coincidence that as one group begins a discussion on prayer, another is about to embark on a study. God is in control! And I look forward to sharing what He has done with the studies.

A praying person is a person of peace. A praying church is right where God wants them to be. Prayer is acknowledging God and His power. As E.M. Bounds writes, “Prayer is the basis of Christian character, the Christian’s business, his life and his living.”

Words Mean Something (2)

Posted in Words on January 24, 2012 by nmpreach

Here’s something I read a few weeks ago. What say you about wisdom or life lessons?

I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But truly it is the spirit in a mortal, the breath of the Almighty, that makes for understanding. It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right. – Elihu son of Barachel (Job 32:6-9 NRSV)

Words Mean Something (1)

Posted in Words on January 12, 2012 by nmpreach

Words mean something. I love words. and quotes. and thoughts. And I want to share some of the blessings I receive with you. From time to time, I’ll post some words. some quotes. some thoughts. And I’ll ask you to share yours. Here we go!

The pastor’s question is, “Who are these particular people, and how can I be with them in such a way that they can become what God is making them?” My job is simply to be there, teaching, preaching Scripture as well as I can, and being honest with them, not doing anything to interfere with what the Spirit is shaping in them. Could God be doing something that I never even thought of? Am I willing to be quiet for a day, a week, a year?”

– Eugene Peterson from The Contemplative Pastor

Thoughts?

The Secret

Posted in Discipleship on January 4, 2012 by nmpreach

Set any goals for this year?

I was watching a New Year’s special that reported a survey stating that 33% of those who make goals fail within the first week.  The number who gave up after one month was in the teens.  22% simply refuse to make goals.  They’ve failed so many times in the past that they no longer have expectations.

It’s a proven fact that for anything to become a habit, you have to do it consecutively for about thirty days.  My experience has been this applies across the board – reading the Word, exercising, good food choices, etc.  Once a habit is set, you’re well on your way to creating lifestyle change.  However, often times we fail because we don’t make it 30 hours much less 30 days.

Here’s my thought:  How much does success have to do with momentum?  In other words, we start strong with something and then quickly fade.  Yo-yo dieting anyone?  Losing momentum is a quick way to boredom which leads to discouragement which leads to self-esteem issues which leads to – okay, you get the point!

But if we were able to maintain momentum…?  Progress is hard to stop.  Setting goals and being disciplined for just 30 days would have the ability to impact the rest of our lives. But again, we all seem to come up with excuses.

Can I throw another challenge at you?  Whatever goal(s) you set, would you consider your momentum?  For example, if your goal was to exercise 4 times a week and you start strong.  But eventually, you begin to rationalize that 3 times is okay.  You rock along for awhile and then decide you’d really like to exercise, but who has the time?  Do you hear a shift in momentum?

It’s the same with your spiritual life and discipleship, the effort you put into relationships, and any other goal you set.  Momentum is key to success.  The more momentum you build, the easier discipline becomes.  Try it and then see if I’m not right!