More than just another lakeside chat.

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Luke 5

1 “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Dapper

  1. More than a lakeside chat

The town of Capernaum was near Bethsaida and framed the backdrop for many of the Gospel stories and miracles of Jesus and His ministry. It was a small town with a trading economy as it was situated by a lake on a major trade route. It was also an outpost for the empire of Rome and had tax collection duties for the region. As a result, the city was small but significant and shared many cultures with the traders and travelers who came through it. It had peaceful Roman and Jewish relations without tension or strife like Jerusalem. The primary trade commerce was related to the lake or Sea of Gennesaret aka Galilee.

Here (Capernaum/ Bethsaida) is where Jesus called Matthew (tax collector) and performed many early miracles in the area. In this passage Jesus called Simon (Peter) and brothers James & John – and Andrew.

  1. More than another religious teacher

The region of Israel was full of various teachers and religious zealots – many sought to gain influence by building a core of disciples and followers. This Jesus was different. He wasn’t seeking to grow a following – as we see in the text, he was only seeking out 12 specific men to become his personal band of brothers.

Jesus was yet to be fully revealed as Messiah, and had a growing company of followers who were curious about who he was and what he would do next.  The guys in the boats were just minding their own business, not active in the pursuit of Jesus.

Jesus just ‘seemed’ to stop by the lake-shore where they were… by sheer coincidence. We know better. There are no coincidences with God. 

  1. More than a suggestion

“Put out into the deep….. and let down your nets”.

When God asks us to do something there is always more than what meets the eye. Much more beneath the surface.

For these fishermen, they have no idea what God is asking of them, or of the multiple blessings offered in this commandment. They have listened to him speaking to the crowds and have seen some of his miracles around town, but this is the closest they have come to him for themselves.

Jesus is engaging them where they live and in what they do, he’s about to teach them a critical lesson on fishing and the power of living a life of obedience.

When God seeks us out to “ask” us to obey him, he approaches us where we live. Not waiting for us to reach some glamorous or prestigious position or place in our life or careers , but right where we live. For these men, he comes to their place of work and asks them to trust him with their livelihood.

He asks them and in illumination… all men, to “put out into the deep”! To trust he knows more about their business than they do. That He knows where the fish are and when to catch them. This would have been contrary to all their considerable skill and long experience had taught them to do.

They were being more than “polite” to Jesus – they were responding to his request in faith. Not knowing the details and being exhausted from their all night efforts, they were frustrated and irritated, but eventually they trusted and obeyed. “Master we have toiled all night and took nothing.”

  1. More than plenty

But at your word, I will let down the nets.”

These are the words of faith. Marion (a parishioner at St. Margaret’s Anglican)  says it all the time….”But GOD”.

The very foundation of our faith is firmly settled in the belief that God has the ability to change any circumstance or situation he is allowed to enter.

  • The first key is to hear his voice for ourselves.

That when we listen for His voice we can respond in faith and expect Him to exceed our best efforts.

But how do we know it’s Gods voice ?  – (at His Word) – how do we “hear” his words for ourselves? It’s a process of learning to be ‘still’ and waiting for His confirmation. (Sermons, Scripture, Prayer, Words of Knowledge, Affirmation of faith)

  • The 2nd key is a surrender of our way and accepting of His way to fish. Means we can’t rely on our own vast depth of wisdom and practicality. (AKA control)
  • The 3rd key is to recognize the absurdity of the request. He works in mysterious ways unlike our own, and that odd style is consistent with divine methods and helps to reveal the “way” in which God works and moves among us.

The results of trusting God are always bigger and more extravagant than we can imagine. The fishing is “grand” with Him. The principle isn’t to turn to God for our financial blessings, but to recognize Him as the “source” of our provision and like the exhausted fisherman – learn to believe and trust his advice for our labors, especially after we’re worn down from the all night efforts that seem to bear no fruit.

The conclusion is this… Jesus is calling to us all. Not randomly, not generically, but specifically. His call is unique to each of us, a personal request for our services as His precisely picked ‘fishermen’. He’s asking us each to respond to His personal invitation. 

The question is… will we trust Him enough to ‘put out into the deep” or will we decide we’re too exhausted for a miracle?

Pastor B.

the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”

brad.

Transplant Theology

The Christian faith has to be more than a list of what not’s. More than a set of higher ideals and noble pursuits… the faith of those who follow Christ must have a bit of the supernatural. The mystic and mysterious nature of God and man intermingling and re-engineering our very souls has to be way more than just a tradition or practice of piety.

galleryhip.com

galleryhip.com

Our basic beliefs hinge on some radical concepts... the violation of known physical and scientific law (Virgin Birth, Resurrection of a dead man, elemental control of the weather, gravity, etc..), as well as the most impossible evidence of all, the regular and repeated transformation of one’s desire’s.

As Christians we are supposed to serve a God of the impossible and improbable.

Why do we tend to retreat to the safe-zone of scientific reason and rational logic when defending our faith and beliefs? Is it to protect ourselves from public ridicule and the private smirk of cynics and realists, embarrassed to be counted as one of the radical Christian ‘fringe’?

Are we uncomfortable being lumped in as part of the emotionally unstable… a sensational and unpredictable ‘charismatic’ Christian, always claiming to see and experience dynamic movements of the Holy Spirit?

So what are we comfortable with?

justacatholic.blogspot.com

justacatholic.blogspot.com

Safe church services where we can easily predict what comes next? Do we enjoy the elevated discussions on theology, doctrine and bible semantics, careful consideration of the latest Christian best-sellers and media… maybe it’s the social predictability of seeing ‘normal’ and safe people with healthy personal boundaries and a familiar mindset. These can be quite reassuring, but are they what we need ?

Our most essential truth is the power of God expressed on a cross to raise the dead.

The very man who claimed to be “THE” son of God… an example of supernatural power and uncomfortable custom – breaking behaviors. He talked with prostitutes, drank in the local pubs, taught without a seminary degree, challenged the ‘heart ‘of the law and revealed the differences between hypocrisy and authentic faith.

Jesus transcended the history and influence of all holy men, prophets, and religious leaders who ever lived in 3 brief years. His message of new life still vibrant over two thousand years later. So what validated what He claimed was the truth?

Miracles validated Christ’s claims.

What is going to validate our faith to this generation…?

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

For me, it’s the miracle of a heart transplant. That I could give up my old broken heart for a new – pure true one. The spontaneous regeneration of my character, morality and compassion from the ravages of sin and compromise. God re-arranged me from the inside out. Every atom realigned to become something ‘different‘ than I had been. Like a flash of lightning, my life was turned inside out and from wrong to right.

A legitimate miracle.

Since that day… my life has been one transformational moment after another. First in me, then my family and now in the church I help lead.

The Holy Spirit untamed as ever, has pushed me from all things comfortable and familiar as I follow…. seeking to just keep up.

I believe we need more of the miraculous and less of the safe stuff we call Christianity. We need some transplant theology to radically revive our collective hearts and to show a watching world that God is still very much alive.

Peace out,  Pastor B.

 

 

Celebrating the “Heroes” in our Lives!

It’s easy to go through life stuck on survival mode, constantly looking for trouble, resolved to avoid any more unwanted entanglements and wary of those who would seek to deceive or mislead us. We stumble and we fall, often alone. Fearful of trusting, fearful of ever letting anyone else back into our hearts deep enough to matter, fearful of allowing them to have enough of our trust to make us vulnerable again.

We guard ourselves diligently from being too transparent, from being too honest with those we live around or with, we build a wall out of our fears and past betrayals. A wall that invisibly holds others at a safe distance and keeps us from ever being in danger of getting too close, becoming too weak, of having to rely on others for anything.

image courtesy of launchfish.com

What if we had the courage to get up off our proverbial cynical knees and stand on our own two feet again? What if we were willing but unsure of how to risk our hearts in friendship, in love and in trust? We would need a hero to show us the way, a Clark Kent in anonymous attire who becomes Superman at the last-minute when the world is about to collapse, and saves us all.

Heronoun, a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

The obvious parallel for Christians remains… Jesus the Christ is our ultimate hero. The God who became man to save us all, the humble and heroic mixed into one, a savior, a king and a carpenter. We can always look to Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame...” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We can always look to Him as an inspiration of our ultimate faith in God’s character and in God’s strength to save man from himself. But what about everyday hero’s?

What about the lives of those God has redeemed, of the hearts that have been restored, and the families renewed because someone allowed God to be God in their lives. Because someone trusted one more time, believed one more time that maybe Jesus really was able to fix their mess, that maybe Jesus really could heal their wounded hearts and set them free from the chains of fear and anxiety and moral failures.

I have a friend like that…maybe you do too? Someone who has been wounded desperately inside their heart, so broken and battered by the past, so familiar with the chill of isolating pain, that no one would have faulted them for staying down. For not daring to stand back up. Someone who had every right to be bitter, defensive and cynical for the rest of their days, but decided to trust one more time in their faith and really truly trust that Jesus was able to be everything…again.

A person who would do that, might even be considered an everyday Hero. A Clark Kent kind of guy, someone we might find we work with and around everyday. I know a guy just like that…a man who as a busy dad has had no extra time for himself, but always makes the time for his wife and kids, yet never complains. A visionary who has risked his professional reputation to see an idea become a ministry and a concern become a movement for pre-teen kids to find purpose in their lives. A man who has failed as visibility as he succeeded, in work, in ministry and in marriage, yet he decided to get back up and continues to try again. (Proverbs 24:16)

He stays behind the scenes whenever possible, content to let others get the credit, happy to see the idea he planted become the catalyst for change in another’s name. A man who has learned to humble himself and wait on God for things, after learning first hand of the pain of pushing ahead. Open, honest and transparent, his life is a reflection of dramatic personal change, of transformation. A man who now walks with a “limp”, like a Jacob who wrestled with the angel… never to be the same again.

A man whose life is now a rich testament to the grace and power of God to change and renew and restore those of us who will dare to surrender. He’s a Hero. I’ve watched him from up close now for over three years, I’ve seen the good and the bad days come and go. I’ve watched the tragedies and the triumphs rise and fall, but inside the core of him… an extraordinary strength remains. Strength that comes from having Jesus as your anchor, from trusting in someone and something greater than yourself.

Robert Beeson - Everyday HERO !

Robert Beeson – Everyday HERO !

So, Happy birthday to my dear comrade, friend and amigo, Robert Beeson. If you didn’t know from the hints above, he’s the minor “Hero” of this story… A man of integrity, a faithful father, husband, and visionary heart of i-Shine  and above all… a genuine Man of God.

He’s the everyday Hero I choose to Celebrate today. How about you?

HBD Robert, we love you and hope your day is full of adventure and joy !

Brad.

PS – I chose not to display any personal pictures which might embarrass you 🙂 at least for this year…

Are you a happy parent?

“Are you happy ?”

If you’re struggling on this one… just to be sure… ask your family.

If the answer is “NO”, then it may be time to seriously & honestly reflect. It may be time to make some changes in your life…. Work Less, Play More / or Work More and Play Less…?

Sometimes it’s more subtle than that.

Sometimes its internal change we really need. A shift in our understanding of life and the role we’re actually playing in it. We can feel adrift…lost and out of control, or we can choose to trust there is a guiding hand along the way. That’s a change in our attitude and it can make a HUGE difference in our Happiness.

Choices need to be made. Decisions arrived at and courage called upon to make those changes. Otherwise, you and I will be exactly the same next year as we are right now. Guaranteed.

grmays.com

grmays.com

Be careful though…. happiness can’t simply be created by swapping out for a new spouse, better job or thicker bank account. Happiness comes from within… never from without. Don’t buy into the ageless lie… “if only _________, then I would be happy”.

Remember that we alone have the power to be happy or not.

Our kids are watching… waiting, hoping to find some happiness in their parents. If they can’t find it in our homes or in us, where the heck do you think they’re going to go in search of it?

Something to think about.

Something to act on.

Something to leave behind.

Happiness and Hope. They give our lives richness… and beautiful context for faith to flourish. Without it, we’re dry bones.

Jesus as described in scripture; wasn’t always happy.

He was always purposeful, filled with hope and confident in His father’s plan for his life. He’s offering ALL of that to ANYONE who sincerely places their trust in Him. That’s supposed to be us… cropped-castle-mountain.jpg

Don’t over-think your faith.

Don’t under-estimate your role in the grand master plan of life.

Live on parents… Live on!

Pastor B.

PS – and a Road trip is a great way to break a slump. Fresh air, fragrant beauty and awe-inspiring views can revive even the driest soul. Trust me… I KNOW 🙂

Ebb and Flow…

From time to time our lives get insane with activity… stuff we can’t get out of, things we MUST do. Life rages around us and carries us along, driving us forward as if we’re a twig sucked into a class IV rapid. We feel the helplessness of being “caught” in something so enormous and so powerful that our only hope is to survive.

wardgossip.blogspot.com

wardgossip.blogspot.com

and then sometimes we find ourselves gently bobbing along in some back-water eddy, calm and serene… peaceful and restive. The ebb and flow of our lives can be crazy – un-predictable and sudden, full and empty…  crazy!

How do we maintain any form of stability in the middle of our un-controllable lives ? Are we even supposed to?

Does our Christian faith provide us a way to live our lives without exhaustion… Do we have the option to live life only at peace and in contentment, or are we just as “out of control” as any other soul, swept along the powerful waves of life’s ocean ?

Couple of thoughts…

Jesus didn’t avoid the ebb and flow of his life on earth… He rolled with them. In a storm or in moments of serenity Jesus was completely aware and yet un-affected by his surroundings. From crossing a stormy sea fast asleep to walking directly into an upper room for his last supper, Jesus lived a life that never drifted away from his calling, from his purpose.

It gives us “hint’s” as to the reality Christian believers can walk in… believe in and overcome.

I say “hint’s” because the truth is… if we’re honest, we rarely feel like we’re living like Jesus did. Life seems to hit us hard and low, knocking the air out of us and then kicking us in the guts as we writhe in agony in the gutter, flattened from the latest tragic moment or personal betrayal we’ve encountered.

Jesus is supposed to be in us. He’s supposed to be God and able to deliver us from death, our souls from sin… and our hearts from despair.

But how?

Surrender…. I believe is the “magic” ingredient so many of us miss or forget. We’re so caught up with “FIXING” our lives, or “FIXING” everyone else… we forget that God is GOD, we’re not. Our lives are going to ebb and flow, get crazy and calm down… the one thing that never changes is GOD.

Our faith in Christ anchors us to so much more than what we can handle or figure out. Our trust is deep and eternal, fixing us to the ONE person who ever lived out life the way we’re supposed to. With Love and Joy and Courage and purpose and eternal destiny. As a Christian we are able to tap into His strength and draw on that power during our darkest day or brightest dawn. Steel-Serenity- lakeside pic

We’re not alone and we have a savior… not just a reprieve from death and hell and fear, but from a life of hopelessness and anger and frustration.

His presence frees us from living life at redline & provides us with the power of peace in any circumstance, a living source of love and patience and understanding.

That’s a powerful solution to a life that ebbs and flows beyond our control.

Peace out Pastor B.

Looking for answers…

Listening to Rush Limbaugh on Fox News on the drive to work this am… He was pragmatically reviewing how messed up our world is  with the show host and said something like this; “I’ve been on radio for over 25 years now….and I’m starting to discuss the same exact problems for the second time in my career… it’s all meaningless to debate this stuff. It keeps happening over and over and stays the same. It’s really pointless.” (Fox Morning News – 7-02-13)

WOW, His comments reminded me almost verbatim of the words of Solomon; King of Israel over three thousand years ago. In the book of Ecclesiastes he wrote these words…

 ” All things are wearisome,more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

(Ecclesiastes 1: 8-10 NIV)

It reminded me of the temptation to exhaust ourselves trying to “fix” or solve the flaws in our world, we can comprehensively study, prepare and diligently implement brilliant cutting edge solutions to age old issues and in the end it seems we will find ourselves right back where we began.

sci.gallaudet.edu - source

sci.gallaudet.edu – source

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve our world, our lives or help our neighbors in need… but it does mean we should be careful to understand those efforts only “relieve” the problems, they don’t solve them.

It would take a GOD to fix the enormous mess that we are making of our world .

Yes… Exactly.

Cliche’ – I admit, but as I age and live and learn… it’s that simple statement that makes EVERY difference for me. When I invite “Jesus” into my life, my family… my world, things change. Not just superficially – but from the core to the exterior, made different, made new.

I’m trusting that one day God will return to our broken planet… and re-set our world back into a proper balance, restoring life to it’s intended state, existence as it was meant to be for the entire world, but until that time… I’ll focus on remembering to invite the ultimate solution of Jesus  into my life’s difficulties whenever I can.

Until the day that Jesus is re-instated as the rightful ruler of my heart, my home and our planet… things are not really going to change much, but the Christian believes that day will come and all our questions will be answered.

ALL of them.

Peace out and Happy “Freedom” Week from RTP !