It’s Important to Have a Good Guide When Fishing

This is Especially Important When Fishing for People

When some of my family was on vacation staying in a house on a lake, they hired a guide to take them fishing. They met the guide at the dock at 4:30 in the morning and went fishing. They were back before lunch with a nice catch of fish. Needless to say, they had a fish fry.

This guide knew what time to go so that they would have the best opportunity to catch fish. The guide knew where on the lake to go to find the fish. The guide also knew what to do and how to catch the fish.

As Christians we’re called to fish for people

When fishing for people we need a guide. Someone who knows when to fish, where to fish, and how to fish.

Jesus is our guide when fishing for people.

Last week’s message was about Peter being introduced to Jesus. This week Peter is invited to follow Jesus.

In Matthew 4:18-20 Jesus is walking along the shore and sees Peter and Andrew fishing. He calls to them to follow Him and He will show them how to fish for people.

In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The crowds were pressing in on Him. He stepped into a boat and asked Peter to push Him offshore a little.

“When Jesus had finished speaking, He told Peter to go out to deeper water and let down his net. Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”  And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!  A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they got to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.”

Like Peter, we are invited to follow Jesus and fish for people.

Just like my family met the guide where and when he said, went with him to the right place, fished like he told them, and brought home a catch of fish. Jesus will do the same if we show up when and where He tells us, go where He tells us, and do what He tells us. We too can bring home a catch.

Now go do some fishing!

What Does Being “All In” Mean?

Be Careful to Not Confuse it With Having it All Together

“Close but no cigar” is a saying that is used when someone falls short of their goal or successful outcome and thus gets no reward. It is believed to come from the 1920s when public fairs and events would give out actual cigars as prizes.

Compared to modern-day carnivals, most of the entertainment back then was centered around adults. As you can probably visualize, when someone was shy of winning the prize, the game attendant would probably say, “Close, but no cigar.”

A game similar to carnival games is the popular game Cornhole. This is a lawn game, once known as “sack toss”, in which players or teams take turns throwing fabric bean bags at a raised, angled board with a hole in its far end. The goal of the game is to score points by either landing a bag on the board (one point) or putting a bag through the hole (three points).

So when the bags are tossed and land on the board but don’t go in the hole, it’s “close, but no cigar”.

There are a lot of situations in life that are “close, but no cigar.” Like being an “almost Christian”.

As Pastor Lisa has been taking us through the book of Acts, we’ve seen how Paul has become an “all in” Christian. He’s willing to be mistreated, whipped, and imprisoned for standing up for his beliefs.

In this Sunday’s Scripture, Acts 26:24-32, Paul is speaking before Festus and Agripa defending himself and telling his story. Festus accuses Paul of being mad. But Agripa was a Jewish King, and Paul says to Festus “King Agrippa knows about these things, and I have been speaking openly to him. I’m certain that none of these things have escaped his attention. This didn’t happen secretly or in some out-of-the-way place. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

Agripa was caught in the middle between his worldly power as a king and Christ. He was not “all in”. Like Agripa there were a lot of Sadducees and Pharisees that were having trouble believing in Christ. They were almost Christians, not “all in” Christians.

The world today is full of almost Christians, not “all in” Christians.

Being a Christian requires us to be “all in”

This is more than just doing the right things. Even the demons believe that Jesus is who He said He is, but they aren’t Christians. Being a Christian is more than just believing.

God tells us in Revelation 3:15-16, to not be lukewarm or He will spit us out of His mouth. He wants us to be “all in”.

Being and “all in” Christian, is constantly being in contact with Jesus through prayer and reading the Bible.

Being an “all in” Christian doesn’t mean that we have it all together. Too often, people who aren’t Christians think you have to be perfect to be Christian. This isn’t the case. Christians are like everybody else, except that we have a relationship with Christ.

Do You Hear That? It’s the Sound of Being Called to Serve

It’s Up to You to Open Your Ears and Listen Carefully So You Do the Right Thing

How many Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

That’s a good question, but first…

Once again, this week we were blessed with a message from a guest speaker. Thanks to Sara Pines for her willingness to share God’s message in the absence of Pastor Lee!

Most of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42.

In this passage Martha and Mary welcome Jesus and his disciples into their home. Martha is working hard preparing a meal and setting the table, trying to get everything ready. As she’s working, she gets frustrated with Mary, who is sitting in the other room listening to Jesus while Martha is working.

In her frustration Martha goes to Jesus and says, “Lord, doesn’t it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”

Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha! You’re worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I used to struggle some with this Scripture.  

It seemed to me that Martha’s work to serve Jesus was the more important task. The problem is that Martha had made this decision from her own worldly perspective. She had neglected to open her ears to what Jesus wanted her to do.

This is not to say that what she was doing was wrong or right…It is about partnering with God and getting His input.

Serving isn’t the same as slavery. Slavery is forced. Serving is voluntary.

Serving doesn’t have to be something monumental. It can be as simple as showing kindness by opening a door or simply smiling at people we meet.

Having the heart of a servant includes:

  • Using Jesus as our role model
  • Choosing to be last, not first
  • Showing God’s love by loving others
  • Considering other’s needs before your own
  • Using your God given gifts to serve God

Serving others lights up the world around us. In Matthew 5:14-16, we are told to be the light of the world.

“A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a clay pot. Instead, it is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. 

Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”

Back to the question, how many Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None…As Christians we are the light of the world.

Listen carefully to God and find out how you can serve Him best and light up the world around you.

Living a Christian Life is Like a Game of Tag with a Twist

In This Game, It’s Good to Be Tagged

We’re all familiar with the game of tag and most of us played it as kids. 

It involves two or more players chasing each other in an attempt to “tag” them out of play. When a person is tagged, the tagger says, “Tag, you’re it.” The last one tagged is the loser and is “it” for the next round.

The Christian game of tag works a little differently. Instead of tagging people out of play, in the Christian game, we “tag” them in. Every person we tag joins in the effort to tag others, who then do more tagging. 

The people tagged in this game are the winners.

In Luke 9:28-36, Jesus takes Peter, John and James up on the mountain. While up there with Jesus, they were tagged. They went on to tag others, who tagged others…

This experience, among others, made them want to be like Jesus and “tag” people.

Being like Jesus, sounds relatively easy on the surface, but think about the sacrifices He made. He came to earth and lived like a human. He shared in our sufferings. He loved us that much.

Dr. Maxell Maltz tells a remarkable story of a love like this.

A man had been burned and disfigured in a fire while attempting to save his parents from a burning house, but he couldn’t get to them and they perished. 

He mistakenly interpreted his pain as God’s punishment. The man would not let anyone see him — not even his wife.

She went to Dr. Maltz, a plastic surgeon, for help. He told her not to worry. “I can restore his face.”

The wife was unenthused. Her husband had repeatedly refused any help. She knew he would again.

Then why her visit? “I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share his pain, maybe he’ll let me back in his life.

Dr. Maltz was shocked. He denied her request but was so moved by her love that he went to speak with her husband. Knocking on the man’s bedroom door, he called loudly. “I’m a plastic surgeon, and I can restore your face.” No response. “Please come out.” Again there was no answer.

Still speaking through the door, Dr. Maltz told the man of his wife’s proposal. “She wants me to disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in the hope that you let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you.”

There was a brief moment of silence, and then, ever so slowly, the doorknob began to turn.

The way the woman felt for her husband is the way God feels about us. But He did more than make the offer. He took on our face, our disfigurement. He became like us. 

The places He went to reach us show how far He will go to touch us.

“Tag, you’re it.” Now go and tag someone else.

Extraordinary Things are Done Every Day by Ordinary People

You’ve Been Given Everything You Need to be Extraordinary, It’s Up to You to Use it

This past Sunday was Pentecost. This is the Christian commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. The coming of the Holy Spirit happened suddenly and came in a strong wind and fire, Acts 2:1-21.

The people who were together when this extraordinary thing happened, were just ordinary people. These followers of Jesus were feeling lost and alone after Jesus left. They no longer had their leader. How would they go on?

This small group of ordinary people are the beginning of our Christian faith. They are the core of the Church today.

These ordinary people did extraordinary things.

They didn’t think they had what it took to do the mission before them, but they did. Most of us feel this sense of inadequacy when we look ahead to our own missions.

It is amazing what long-range effect the little things we do, both good and bad can have. We rarely know what long term affect we will have and how those things will affect the future. Seemingly irrelevant things can make a huge impact.

In the book, The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews tells how the decisions you make and the way you treat others impact the world. This short book is a powerful story about a decision one man made over a hundred years ago, and the ripple effect it has on us individually, and in the world, today.

God will not ask you to do anything more than He knows you can.

Just like Jesus’ followers, we’ve been given the things needed to accomplish our mission. –

  • Power – Nothing is impossible with God. We’ve been given the strength needed to do the things we are supposed to. The power has been promised to us. It is available…not delivered. It is up to us to access it and use it.
  • Purpose – Just like the disciples were given their purpose on Pentecost, we’ve been given a purpose. Like power, this doesn’t work without our participation. We need to open our ourselves to God’s vision and do something. Without a vision the people parish, Proverbs 29:18.
  • Presence – The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in our lives. This is us inviting God in, to be an active part of our everyday lives. Once again, we have a responsibility, if we aren’t open to It and accepting of It, we won’t get It.

It is up to you every day to use your gifts and abilities doing ordinary things, letting God turn them into something extraordinary.

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

It’s Up to Us to Decide to be Cheerful or Not

We have limited control over what happens around us. We have complete control of how we respond. We can choose, it’s up to us to decide if we’re going to take control or not.

We all go through things in life that, at the time, seem unbearable. Whatever it is, someone else ‘has gone’, ‘is going’ or ‘will go’ through it. At the time we are, it sure feels like no one has ever suffered this much.

Peace of mind is what we’re looking for.

In John 20:19-31, the disciples were lost, scared and hiding behind locked doors. Their best friend and leader had been killed a few days before. They were anything but cheerful. Then Jesus showed up and said, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His hands and His side and again said, “Peace be with you”.

He had the power to heal His scars, but He left them to show others the proof of His commitment to us. We all have scars of varying forms and degrees. The Christian band, I Am They, shares this in the song, Scars.

Now I’m standing in confidence

With the strength of Your faithfulness

And I’m not who I was before

No, I don’t have to fear anymore

So I’m thankful for the scars

‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart

And I know they’ll always tell of who You are

So forever I am thankful for the scars

Scars are a part of our story and a reminder of who we are.

Next, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In the span of a few minutes the disciple’s attitudes had changed from sad to happy. With Holy Spirt we can change our attitudes as well. The power of Holy Spirt in our lives prevents us from ever having to be alone. This peace makes being cheerful much easier.

Having God’s peace gives me the courage to move forward in times of doubt and fear.

Nabeel Qureshi was born in San Diego to Pakistani Muslim parents who had immigrated to the US. While attending college he engaged in religious discussions with Christian, David Wood. They became friends and through this relationship Qureshi converted to Christianity. Converting to Christianity from being a Muslim requires real commitment. A conversion of this kind can be a death sentence.

In his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel provides an intimate window into the struggle of being raised in a loving Muslim home and the inner turmoil of becoming a Christian. The clash between Islam and Christianity and the peace he finds in Jesus.

Peace is the defining mark of those who follow Jesus.

We get to decide if we want the cheerfulness and peace that come with being Christians. When struggling through all the difficulties that life dishes out, it’s hard to find a better medicine than a cheerful heart.

God Uses Bad News to Share “The Good News”

We Are an Integral Part of the Story Being Told

Life is full of suffering and pain. We are currently experiencing widespread struggles with the corona virus situation. People were suffering before this and will suffer after.

In John 9:1-17, as Jesus’ followers walked past a blind man, they asked Jesus whose sin caused the man to be blind, his or his parents? Jesus answered, “It’s not this man’s or his parents’ sin… This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.” This man’s blindness was not the result of anything he or anyone else had done.

We’ve all heard of stories of people being miraculously healed. There are also stories of people that did miraculous things regardless of their imperfect situation. When things aren’t going well, too often we ask why.

The question we should ask is how, how can I use this for good?

In 1997, Christian author/singer Shelia Walsh shared her struggle with depression in her autobiography, Honestly. It appeared to people on the outside that she had it all together, but as her book reveals…not so much.

We all want to appear that we have everything under control when on the inside we’re constantly battling with our own self-doubt. We falsely think that showing our weakness and mistakes makes us failures. Working through these things with courage shows God’s strength in us.

I have seen, heard and witnessed amazing things happening around the world that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the corona virus. People slowing down and focusing on family, reconnecting with people through social media, helping others who need help, showing kindness and thinking outside the box actions.

God is glorified through our weakness, perseverance, and attitude.

Ask God for a solution and He will give you a story. Share your story with others.

Anticipation Can Be Stressful or Exciting

It’s Up to Us to Decide Which It Will Be

Christmas has come and gone for another year. That’s okay because we will look up in a few days and it will be here again.

Some people find the Holiday season stressful. The busy, rushed and harried pace can get overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

We get to choose how it’s going to be.

I love the anticipation of looking forward to opening presents on Christmas morning. I don’t want to know what I’m getting until I take the paper off and open it. I will be extra careful to not see what’s in boxes and bags around the house leading up to Christmas. The looking forward to the unveiling of the surprise is exciting.

Advent is a season of the liturgical year observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.

This season really is more about waiting than coming. Joseph and Mary both showed great faith and patience waiting for Jesus’ birth. Because they were not married yet and she was pregnant they were looked down on. They had to trust what they had been told by God and believe it to be true.

Look forward to the future possibilities God has for you with excited anticipation!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

What Is Baptism And Why Does It Matter?

Baptism is one of those Christian terms that is used often and consequently can lose its importance and meaning. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary baptism is –

1a : a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community b : a non-Christian rite using water for ritual purification c Christian Science : purification by or submergence in Spirit 2 : an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named

While this definition is accurate it doesn’t address the more important question of why it matters.

There is a lot of discussion around the topic of baptism and the “right or wrong” way it should be done. Believe me I know this first hand. My wife having been raised Baptist is a supporter of immersion. Me having been baptized as an infant through sprinkling, don’t see anything reason this method isn’t as valid. I think the living out our baptism is what matters.

I think the why it matters question is answered well by Crosswalk

What is Baptism?

“Baptism is an outward act that symbolizes the inward phenomenon of coming to and accepting Jesus Christ as real, as God incarnate, as the sacrificial means by which those who believe in him can be forever reconciled to God. The purpose of baptism is to give visual testimony of our commitment to Christ. It is the first step of discipleship (Acts 8:26-39). Baptism is like a wedding ring. We put on a wedding ring as a symbol of our commitment and devotion. In the same way baptism is a picture of devotion and commitment to Christ. A wedding ring reminds us and tells others that we belong to someone special. In the same way, baptism reminds us and others that we are devoted to Christ and belong to Him.”

We can live a good, constructive, happy life without being baptized, but there is so much more to be had if we commit fully to a relationship with Christ.

Baptism is the symbolic action we take to show our being washed clean of our sins. The water washes away our “old, dead, heavy, suffocating life” and is replaced with a “new, fresh purposeful one”. Once we’re baptized we won’t be perfect, but we will belong to God. Pastor Lee told about Sam Houston’s baptism. It is believed that General Houston had lead a rough and wild life so it no surprise that after being baptized when the Pastor said, “Your sins are washed away”, that it is said that Houston replied, “God save the fishes!”

Luke 3:21-22 tells about Jesus’ baptism. If baptism is important enough for Jesus to do then I think “Baptism Matters”…a great deal.