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Another Side of Sunday: The Path

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, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 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. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:1-5

The guest preacher Sunday spoke to our church, preparing us to make take the next steps in the Vibrant Church Initiative process.  Let’s take some time this week to reflect on his insights and consider our call to be fishers of men.

On one occasion… an ordinary day, a day like any other, not a holiday or a special event, no potluck luncheon or revival meeting. It was a day like the one before where Peter was fishing and cleaning his nets. Just an ordinary day, but when Jesus shows up He makes the ordinary extraordinary. What does an ordinary Sunday at church look like for you? Do you recognize Jesus in your ordinary?

Getting into one of the boats… When you step into a canoe or boat things move. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your balance in the midst of the rocking and swaying. The preacher said, “When Jesus gets into your boat, it will be rocked.” The reality is we like stability, and tend to resist change. It’s risky. We might just topple right over into deep waters. Change is inevitable. It signifies growth. Are you growing when it comes to being a part of the church? Is God calling you to do something that leaves you shaking? Are you resistant to change? Why?

Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Life seems easier when you’re fishing from the bank. No danger of falling into deep cold water. It’s safe and secure, but the fishing is limited. I told my fifth and sixth graders recently, “Never go fishing without your life jacket. It saves you.” Jesus calls us to put out into the deep, but we never go alone. He is our Life Jacket, our salvation.

Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” In other words, we’ve been fishing and caught nothing. The fish aren’t biting today. Our words and thoughts often echo Peter’s. “We’ve always done it this way. This is our way. We’ve got it mastered. Why do it different?” Is there something in the church you really like, want to do the same way every single time? Is that something working to make disciples, bringing others to Christ?

But at your word I will let down the nets. My friend and I have this saying when we’re feeling called out of our ordinary. When our boats are rolling side to side, and we’re off balance. When we hear God whisper: Go deeper, push harder, do it My way. After we’ve shared our struggle, admitted our fear and hesitancy, we often say, “There is no other way.” In other words, I may be trembling on the inside, but I’ll move forward, take the next step, attempt to do what God is calling me to do. Because His way is always better and good and right.

Consider our church as a whole, the call it has to go and make disciples. How is God calling us to deeper waters? What part is God calling you to do? Will you answer like Peter? Will you say, “Because You say so, I will?”

Jesus, we invite You to come. Get into our boat. Lead us to deep waters. It is our hearts’ desire to serve You, to live out the commission You gave to Your disciples. Forgive us when we hold onto our comfortable things, when we refuse to love our neighbor. When we allow fear to overcome our call. Teach us how to be a church that cries out, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord!”

Another Side of Sunday: The Path

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!” As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!” A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.” At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75

Confessing Jesus and praising him loudly and boldly is very easy among friends and fellow believers. But what will we do when our perception of Jesus’ power and love are rattled and we find all of our dreams shattered like broken shards of glass lying at our feet? Will we confess him as Lord then? Will we serve him because we believe and because he is Lord even when there is no external or readily apparent reason to serve him?

Peter’s rooster has crowed in many lives since Peter heard it and realized what he had done: broken his word to the Lord and broken the Lord’s heart. That rooster crow comes in many forms, but it is that agonizing moment when we personally realize that we have betrayed or denied our Lord—not for thirty pieces of silver like Judas and not for fear of our life like Peter, but for nothing.

The really powerful and beautiful part of this story is that unlike Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s story doesn’t finish here. He returns to serve and glorify the Lord in mighty ways. So for those of us who have failed mightily, there is not only hope, but a proven example that Jesus welcomes back failures to make them strong and call them to his service. In the meantime, let’s keep trying to be strong and not fail with the help of the Lord’s Spirit and the confidence that Peter would not know until Jesus had risen from the dead!

Almighty and holy God, I fully recognize that I make promises that I cannot keep. Please forgive me when I have been hasty with my promises, slow in keeping my vows to you, and weak in fulfilling my commitments. There is a bit of both Peter and Judas in me. This troubles me and shames me, but also reminds me that I need your strength and your Spirit to be strong and to live faithfully. My truest prayer, dear Father, is that I never outlive nor betray my love for you and the grace you have given me in my Savior. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Worship Through Music