Captivated By Comfort

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.Matthew 14:28-29

Going through my journal stuff that didn’t make Sunday’s message at Kfirst, a statement stood out in the midst of the mess that is my research notes:

You’ve never gotten uncomfortable “in God” because you’ve never or refuse to leave a spot that was comfortable.

I get it.

Like when I’m in my favorite chair watching a game and I need something. I don’t want to get up so I ask my kids to stop what they’re doing to grab something for me.

I’m comfortable.
I want something I don’t currently possess.
I don’t want to move or expend the effort to get what I want YET I expect to still receive it.

Most likely, you’ve seen this too. Perhaps it isn’t this exact situation, but you’ve seen people, who have huge expectations, but want something with little to no effort.

I want a better relationship, but don’t ask me to change.
I want a better position, but don’t ask me to do more than what is asked.”
I want what others have but won’t steward what I currently have.

And, unfortunately, we do that with God.

I thank the Lord that we are not saved by works (performance) but by grace through faith in Jesus. But our faith may save us, but our obedience changes us. When we walk in step with what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, transformation naturally (or supernaturally for that matter) happens.

The simplicity of Matthew 14:28-29 spoke to me as a child and still challenges me today.

First, the simplicity of what Peter calls out to Jesus, “…command me…” In other words, “Jesus, if it’s you, then give me the ability to step out on what I know can drown me.” This fisherman knew the price that can come from those waters. He knew what he was facing. But that audacious faith to know what he was facing, yet call out to Jesus for the strength and ability to not just to face it but step into it.

There were opportunities in my life that I wanted to abandon because of the size of the task.
There were relationships I wanted to avoid because of the work.
There were challenges I wanted to reject because of the difficulty.

It’s easy to “stay in the boat” of comfort. No change is expected; little to nothing is demanded. But our comfort my feel secure, but comfort zones become the breeding ground for spiritual insecurity. Comfort zones don’t protect us. They decay our passion for Christ and deteriorate us in the shame of “what could have been.”

But I love the resolve of Peter. He didn’t just call out, secondly, he stepped out in response to Jesus. Comfort gets you focused I “why you shouldn’t” instead of “why can’t I?” Quit focusing on what’s wrong with you and start remembering what’s right with Jesus. Be willing to not just call out to the Lord about what to do AND be willing to respond by stepping out in obedience.  The blessing you may be looking for is on the other side of obedience. 

I can’t promise an easy road, but I can promise a blessed one. Following Jesus is full of life and challenge. Yet many who have faith in Jesus, try to live in the safety of their comfort. Faith is where your journey starts with Jesus, obedience is where you realize the potential of that faith.

Today, call out then step out. Totally simple concept; incredibly difficult for our comfort.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: This is the song on repeat today for me…

Turn the Ship Around: 6 Small Actions to See Change Happen in Your Marriage

I was watching a television show and they were discussing an oil tanker that had run aground.  The narrative was building around a man named “Sam” that felt he could’ve done something about the issue long before the ship left the harbor.  He is frustrated and calls First Lieutenant Emily Lowenbrau into his office to ask the question, “why couldn’t they just stop and steer clear of the land?” Here’s the dialogue (I promise there’s a point to this):

Lt. Lowenbrau: “He dropped anchor.”

Sam: “If he dropped anchor, why didn’t he stop?”

Lt. Lowenbrau: “The anchor broke.”

Sam: “Anchor’s break?”

Lt. Lowenbrau: “I want you to guess something: a ship of this size and gross tonnage steaming at 18 knots, how long does it take to come to a complete stop the moment the bridge cuts the engines and throws the props into reverse?”

Sam:”I don’t know…a couple football fields.”

Lt. Lowenbrau: “Six miles. There’s no anchor that stops that boat at 18 knots.”

This has been a scene I have shared with quite a few couples over the past month.  It’s a simple illustration I use to show that, (1) marriages are not the easiest vessel to maneuver and (2) complete turnaround, often, does not happen immediately.

This is why so many couples call it quits.  The issue that didn’t develop overnight is expected to change overnight. You can’t expect the issues that developed over years to go away overnight.  Take purposeful and strategic steps forward. Remember: There are two broken individuals, with all of their habits and hurts, steaming ahead that need to see change in their own lives as well as their marriage.

Here’s some simple actions to see turnaround:

1 – Show the same grace God has given you. Every time I want to be bitter toward ANYONE (including my wife), this is the reminder I need. God’s grace is not based upon how we see people deserving it. It’s based upon the love of that Christ has for us. Ephesians 4:7, says, “…grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

2 – Don’t despise small beginnings. I’ve seen so many spouses that have unrealistic expectations over the immediate progress of their spouse.  Read  Zechariah 4:10.  Don’t look down on the small steps to turnaround.  Is your spouse “there” yet? Nope.  But neither are you.

3 – Stop comparing. So many journey’s are screwed up by looking at the wrong route.  Hebrews 12 says, “fix your eyes on Jesus” not “fix your eyes on your best friends marriage.” I look to others to encourage me.  I lean on mentors to challenge me. But the direction or health of my marriage doesn’t come from fixating on someone else’s journey. It comes from fixing my eyes on Jesus and following His lead. 

4 – Don’t stop fostering hope. How do you do that? Find ways to encourage your spouse. Find people who are encouraging to be around. Shut out the negative voices. The same God that saw a hope for a broken nation (Jeremiah 29:11) sees hope for your future.  But you need to take the necessary steps to foster it.

5 – Celebrate often.  Weight watchers taught me something that I have never forgotten: celebrate every success.  That meant it didn’t matter if I lost 1 pound or 1 ounce. It was all cause for celebration. Philippians 4:4 challenges us to “rejoice always” which indicates that it’s not based upon our circumstances.  It’s a direction you place your mind. Celebrate every step, great or small, and learn to infuse your marriage with joy.

6 – Do what you used to do. In the book of Revelation, Jesus dealt with a church that was going through the motions but didn’t have the love they needed. The simple instructions was to “repent” (turn away from what they were doing) and “do the things you did at first.”  Think about the things you did when you first fell in love…THEN DO THEM!!!  It’s sounds a bit too simple but it’s an amazing way to see “turnaround” develop as well as passion grow in your marriage.

The old cliché says, “The titanic doesn’t turn on a dime.” Marriage is no different. The healthiest marriages I know have not only faced storms but take careful, strategic steps forward.

…And most of those steps are simpler than you realize.  Keep fighting for your marriage.  Keep fostering hope. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

2 Minute Devo #31Days – “Moving forward backwards”

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We started a new series this month called “#31Days.” What “#31Days” means is we are encouraging everyone to take the challenge of encouraging someone via social network for 31 days.  Make sure you use the hashtag!

Today’s scripture: Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

“Are you talking nautical to me?”

Is anyone else a fan of Sig Hanson?  Any Discovery Channel geeks out there?

If you’ve never partaken in this amazing show, “Deadliest Catch” is a documentary series chronicling the real-life high-sea adventures of the Alaskan crab fishermen. It is professed to be the most deadly profession in the world (and for good reason). Sig Hanson is by far my favorite captain to watch on the show.  He commands the Northwestern as one of the more successful crab fisherman.  I’ll admit, his crew is one of the more entertaining crews to watch.

Watching the show pulls me into their world of fishing the Bering Sea. Anne has heard me more than once proudly proclaim that could do that job.   I see myself working for 36 hours straight pulling crab pots.  The reality, for the first few days, I’d be clutching the railing throwing up from sea sickness. One episode in particular, stands out to me. A  “greenhorn” or the newest crewman on a fishing vessel, has a freak-out moment and is ready to jump ship.  The deep, the waves, the intensity of the moment has caused this man to call it quits. He is so consumed with fear that has forgone rational thought.  The boat is forced to abandon its journey to take this greenhorn back to shore.  His final scene is him shamefully leaving the boat and walking down the dock in his Lions jersey (kinda indicative of most Lions seasons).  We all watch and think we’d handle it much better.  How scary can it be?

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19

The words “To pay attention” is a very cool Greek word (prosecho). It literally means, “to have direction toward something”. It was a nautical term used to describe steering a ship on course. In the days when all ships were sailing ships, “prosecho was a very important concept. In the open water, there are no street signs.  There are no exits to pull off to get directions.  If you didn’t know how to set a course, you could easily get lost at sea.

Who is writing this? Simon Peter

What was his “trade” before following Christ? Fisherman. (Maybe he’s the Sig Hanson of Biblical times)

Just like KFirst isn’t surprised when I use a football metaphor, we shouldn’t be alarmed that Peter is reaching back to his roots to help us understand what the Lord is speaking.  He is telling us the something about steering our course in life: Pay attention to the wind and the heavens if you want to stay on course.

God has equipped us with a word from heaven and the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to guide us. But we have to pay attention. I’ll give you a TRUTH to ponder: Reaching your destination won’t happen if you let the currents take you wherever they happen to go.

Before the age of nautical technology, sailing far beyond the site of the shore was a not easy.  It was a scary thing. At one time, there were people who believed the world was flat and if you sailed too far you’d fall off the edge of the earth. Unless you had the proper training and/or you had a compass, without the shore to guide you, it was pretty hard to know which way to go. This is the reason why many trips were done at night. The stars were the guides. Lamps and city lights shining from the shore were easier to see.

This writer…this fishermen knew how important it was to have an illuminated marker when he found himself out on dark waters.  Dark waters have so much potential of driving fear and anxiety because three things:

  1. Their depth.  (they’re dark for a reason)
  2. Their reputation.  Beneath the surface lies dangerous creatures as well as the wreckage of former vessels who did not make it.
  3. No shelter.  Out in the deep. You cannot hide. You have to face whatever comes your way

If there is anyone understood what it was like to go through “deep waters” or dark fearful times, Peter is a prime example. Matthew 8:23-17 is the story of the disciples and Jesus sailing.  Most of us have read the story.  We remember the ending.  What we, many times forget: some of the men freaking out are experienced fishermen. Their reaction speaks of the severity of the storm. It shows the urgency of the moment.  They needed Jesus to stand up in the storm speak to the darkness. More than storms on the sea, Peter knew what it was like to go through dark times. Whether it was his denial of Christ or winding up in jail, he was experienced in going through moments where he needed help.  He needed direction. Simon Peter needed something to guide him.

And now this fisherman tells us that our lives in Christ need the same sort of markers that a ship’s captain would need. Peter knew the sea. He knew its dangers and its deceptions. But he was confident in spite of the turmoil of life because he paid close attention to the beacon of the Word. In the darkest part of our lives, a little light can be seen from a great distance. Be watchful for the light and it will direct your course.

When we start to feel surrounded by dark waters, there is a lamp shining in the darkness. It is the Word of God, the same word that Psalm 119 describes as “a lamp unto my feet“. NOTE:  the Word won’t make any difference to us unless we pay close attention to it.

I’ll end with this: Admit the depth of your need, celebrate the lavish power of grace, and get up and follow by faith.

Thanks for letting me ramble…