The #1 Reason We Don’t See Miracles

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Simple answer: WE JUDGE.

Even though Jesus stated very succinctly, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others and the standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

Yet we still judge.
What kind of lifestyle do they have?
What political party do they belong to?
What kind of responsibility have they taken in their life?
What kind of faith do they cling to?
What theology do they hold?

WE JUDGE and often times, very subtly and smugly, we decide who should receive a miracle.

The prophets never said, “Love, serve and defend if you approve of the way they are living”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they deserve it”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they will appreciate it.”

They just declared, “LOVE, SERVE, DEFEND!”

Judging might help justify not getting involved.

In the ninth chapter of John, the disciples ask Jesus whose fault was it that a man was born blind.

They inquired, “Was it his fault or his parents?”

2000 years later we could ask, “Jesus, why was this little boy born HIV positive? Whose fault is it? Why was this young girl born in a dangerous, drug infested no hope neighborhood? Whose fault is it? Why have these kids, on the border of Mexico, been orphaned? Whose fault is it anyway? Why are people addicted? Why are people homeless? Why are people lonely? Whose fault is it?”

Nothing wrong with asking why, but we can get stuck on the why and justify our lack of involvement by judging.
They were promiscuous.
They were lazy.
They were sinful.

We can get so theologically convoluted, we can miss the whole point and more tragically we can miss the miracle.

Jesus answered his disciples, “It was not anyone’s fault. This man was born blind, so that God’s mercy could be demonstrated.”
And a miracle happened. The blind man’s eyes were opened.

I don’t know the answers to all the “whys” of this world but I do know this:

When a baby born HIV positive is offered God’s mercy by being given an antiretroviral drug, a miracle happens.

When a prostitute is offered God’s mercy by being loved by a local church and given support, resources and life skills to change her life, a miracle happens.

When a homeless person is offered God’s mercy by being given shelter, food and transportation, a miracle happens.

When a foster child is offered God’s mercy by being given a healthy home and support system, a miracle happens.

When a person far from faith is offered God’s mercy in a grace-filled church service, a miracle happens.

There are a lot of dark places of judging in our world today.
There are a lot of hopeless people who have been judged.
There are a lot of people who don’t know where to turn for help and the church has too often judged “who” they are and “why” they are where they are at, to decide if they are worthy of being offered God’s mercies and miracles.

Jesus asks people of faith to not judge. It’s that simple.
The book of James in the New Testament reminds us, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

It is important to remember what the scriptures DO NOT say:

Treat those that work for you fairly and give them what they earn…if the economy is good.

Share your food with the hungry…if they are thankful.

Shelter those who are helpless, poor and destitute…if it wasn’t their fault.

Clothe those who are cold…if they are working on their issues.

Don’t hide from relatives who need your help…if they will pay you back.

Love those who are hurting…as long as you approve of their lifestyle.

Make sure those who are in prison know they are not alone…as long as they say they are sorry.

The scriptures are very clear:
Care for the orphan.
Defend the widow.
Rescue the girl that has been sex-trafficked.
Love the foreigner.
Invite into your home the alien.
Visit the prisoner.
Accept the rejected.
Lift off the burdens of people who have been crushed by religion.

No caveats. Just do it.
Offer mercy so miracles can happen.

We have all been created equal so I have a question for you. What race, socioeconomic, political, religious, lifestyle or age group do you struggle with judging?

A gay person?
A democrat?
A homeless person?
A drunk?
A republican?
A Muslim?
A relative?
A neighbor?
A co-worker?

I challenge you to offer them mercy, let God break your heart and prepare for a miracle.

Sometimes the greatest way we can start to offer mercy is to pray!

One of the most powerful prayers I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women.
Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis.
Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote “The Hiding Place”, was imprisoned there too.

The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says: “Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”

Wow! That last line gives me chills and brings with it a deep conviction to my heart.

I really do believe the #1 reason we do not see miracles is because we judge instead of offer mercy.

Luckily, God did not let the “who” or the “why” get in the way of his mercy.

The words of Brennan Manning share with us the gracious mercy of God that led to the ultimate miracle that reverberates throughout the infinity of time.

“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. (see Revelation 7:9)

I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son.

I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives.

I shall see the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions.

I shall see the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love.

I shall see the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask. Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There ‘we’ are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”

Funny How People Are

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Funny how people are
They talk with force yet live in fear
They laugh in public yet cry private tears

They ask for truth yet avoid the light
They teach abundance yet hold on tight

Funny how people are
They walk with confidence yet are deceivingly unsure
They offer weak opinions yet hoping others concur

They care when others are watching yet their love is calculating
They are addicted to admiration yet their self-esteem is fleeting

“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.” ― George Orwell

Funny how people are
They say let’s change the world yet are frozen in comfort
They lecture struggle and sweat yet their efforts fall short

They read the statistics yet their hearts stay cold
They see the pictures yet their habits remain old

Funny how people are
They make people feel good yet it’s not what they need
They agree to aid yet vanity wins over deed

They convince their peers yet fool themselves
They betray their minds yet deceive no one else

“A mask can hide you from others, but not from yourself.”
― Marty Rubin

Funny how I am
I create caste-systems of wrongdoing, while self-pride rules
I ignore my own deception while pointing out fools

While judging other people, my eyes lose sight
My transgressions are unfathomable and my sin dark as night

Funny how I am
My plank is seemingly invisible, their speck obvious and huge
Hypocricy has become my identity, my ignorance is my refuge

I love mercy for me and judgment for their evil times
I want revenge for my enemies and acquittal for my crimes

“The fierce words of Jesus addressed to the Pharisees of His day stretch across the bands of time. Today they are directed not only to fallen televangelists but to each of us. We miss Jesus’ point entirely when we use His words as weapons against others. They are to be taken personally by each of us. This is the form and shape of Christian Pharisee-ism in our time. Hypocrisy is not the prerogative of people in high places. The most impoverished among us is capable of it. Hypocrisy is the natural expression of what is meanest in us all.” ― Brennan Manning

5 Things Every Church Should Do (Part 2)

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

And I am not talking about occasionally doing something nice for people who do not have shelter.

I am not talking about dabbling in niceness with a yearly thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Though, that is a good start.

I am not talking about doing flybys where the homeless live.

I am not talking about waiting to see what the local government is going to do for those who are homeless and then complain that they are not doing enough.

I AM talking about fully engaging in discovering what the true needs are for those without shelter.

I AM talking about building long term relationships with people who for many diverse reasons have found themselves in this difficult situation.

I AM talking about the church leading the way, by example, in investing in people who God has mandated us to take care of, by providing food, clothing, shelter, life skill classes and more.

I AM talking about the church inviting the homeless into their church services, treating them like the very brother and sisters they are.

God instructed the church in Isaiah 58 to:

”Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

Then God gives us amazing promises and blessings to us if we do those things:

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal.”

”Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.”

“Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.”

“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.”

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

Pretty cool promises and blessings if we get involved in the things God is passionate about.

Over the years God has blessed the church I go to, not because we are more holy than others, and not because we are smarter or better than anyone else.

I think God has blessed my church because it tries to take the words from Isaiah 58 seriously.

Every Saturday morning there is a service held in our Café, where a lesson is given, a free breakfast is served, groceries and fresh vegetables from our organic garden are given and clothes are offered to those who are in need.

On average, each Saturday morning, around 250 breakfasts are served, 150 bags of groceries are taken and around 1500 articles of clothing are given away.

This happens while relationships are being built and volunteer pastoral partners pray with families who are going through difficult times.

Focusing on others needs also allows our faith to grow and our priorities to change.

On one weekend, during the middle of winter, our clothing director told me that they needed men’s shoes to give to men who were spending a lot of time out in the elements with inadequate protection for their feet.

I announced at our 4 weekend services that we needed men’s shoes and not the stinky, worn out shoes that we eventually get rid of. I told them we need nice shoes that will bring warmth and dignity for our guests.

It was one of the most memorable weekends I have been a part of.

Men, as they were leaving the services, were taking off their shoes, their nice shoes, many worth over $100, and leaving them in our lobby and walking out to their cars in the pouring rain.

Over 200 pairs of shoes were left that day. One man told me that as he drove home in his wet socks it helped him have greater compassion for those who live out in cold, wet conditions.

He told me it challenged him to simplify his life and to be more thankful for how blessed he was.

One family, after one of the services, drove to a local sporting goods store and bought a couple dozen pairs of tennis shoes and brought them back quietly and left not wanting to get the credit.

Not all the people attending our Saturday morning breakfast are homeless, but these resources help people prioritize their finances keeping them in their homes.

But for those who are homeless, it allows them to eat a warm meal, hear a hope-filled message and begin to build healthy relationships.

It helps them make connections to resources, people and classes that will help them get back on their feet and find shelter.

Steve and Kelly Stockwell and Tom and Janice Carney are leading the way in how the church should respond to the plight of the homeless.

They have helped put a face to the reality of homelessness and have helped us understand the complexity, challenges and even the prejudices and wrong stereotyping that those without shelter face.

This last year during the winter season, several churches in our area created a rotating shelter, where those who wanted shelter could stay at the designated church for the evening.

Our church hosted our guests on Thursday and Friday nights. What a blessing it was for us. I think it was a blessing for them also.

Thursday nights worked well because we have Celebrate Recovery on those nights, so those who struggle with hurts, habits and hang-ups could show up to the service, learn, grow, heal and overcome, and then stay on campus and have a warm, dry place to sleep.

Friday nights worked well because our guests would spend the night and then wake up to our Saturday morning service, which we call “Common Ground” where they would receive that warm breakfast, groceries, clothing, prayer and love.

One man, this last winter, had found himself homeless because of addictions. He was a self-proclaimed agnostic, and then he began to watch how churches were opening their doors to him and praying for him, and he was blown away.

By spring, attending Celebrate Recovery he became a follower of Jesus and is now making amends with those he had burned bridges with.

One of my concerns about having a central shelter in a community is that many times it gives the local church an out.

I have talked to people in other communities who run shelters and they have trouble getting churches to get involved.

And if they do, they have a few people come to the shelter, but they do not have the homeless come to the church.

I think the power of community, healing and hope will happen when the church begins to open its doors and services to those that have been marginalized and forgotten.

This is just my opinion right now, but I don’t think we need to spend millions on a shelter when in every community, shelter and hundreds of thousands of square feet have already been built.

It is called the local church.

How many square feet in local churches sit there empty 90% of the time?

Don’t get me going on this one, but we don’t need more shelters, we need to open the doors of the shelters we already have.

It is time for the church to truly be the hands, feet and shelter that God has asked us to be.

It is time to reintroduce the meaning of “sanctuary.”

We have enough square feet.
We have enough shelter.
We have enough resources.

But do we have enough faith and guts to invite these precious people into the places we worship?

It is time the church leads the way.
It will be messy.
It will be blessed.
It is where we meet Jesus.

“Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

The second thing every church should and must do is to lead the way in caring for the homeless.

Check out tomorrow as I will write about the third thing every church should do.

There Are Voices In My Head

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Everyday there are voices screaming in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

One person said it like this, “I have voices in my head, but they’re all speaking Spanish, and I have NO idea what they’re saying.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The psalmist wrote, “I will listen to you, Lord God, because you promise peace.”
Proverbs states that, “A smart person will listen to God and increase wisdom.”
It goes on to say that, “Whoever listens to God’s voice has security and has no reason to be afraid.”
It continues, “Listen to me and you will find happiness.”
Jeremiah wrote, “Call to God and listen to him and he will tell you things you don’t know anything about.”

It seems like a no-brainer to listen to God’s voice with those promises, but the problem is, there are other voices competing in our heads every day.

The truth is we will hear the voice of what we love and focus on the most.

At home, my T.V. can be on, with no one really paying attention until George Clooney’s voice comes on and my wife stops dead in her tracks and runs toward the screen.
There can be a lot of noise in the house, but if hunky George comes on the T.V. she will somehow hear his voice and stop everything else she is doing.

Why does my wife hear Georges voice above every one else?

Because we hear the voice of who and what we love and focus on the most.

I hate George Clooney.

What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is the VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

The voices of our culture tell us to worry, hoard, don’t forgive and climb over people to get to the top

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

Our culture shouts out very clearly who is valuable.

These voices lead to the death of dreams, joy, hope, relationships and many times the death of our spirit.

Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is the VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is the VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is the VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The accuser will use whatever voice he can to lie to you.

He will use the voices of the culture to lower your self-esteem and cause discontentment.
He will use the voices of your past to make you lose hope for the future.
He will use the voice of others to keep you from dreaming big.
And he will use his voice to condemn, judge and tell you are unforgivable and it is too late.

I was just recently talking to a 19 year old young lady, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.
She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.
She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.
She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

I talked to her about changing the voices she listened to in her head.

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

I asked her, “Will you hear God’s voice?”
And then I said, “What is really amazing is that God will hear your voice…”
I read her Psalm 116:1, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to.
Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful young ladies life.

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, God says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

For those who have been abandoned, God says,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

For those living with shame, God says,
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For those searching for significance, God says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

For those seeking salvation, God says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

For those needing wisdom for the future, God says,
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3 (GNT)

For those figuring out what success is, God says,
“If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, God says,
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

For those needing financial wisdom, God says,
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, God says,
“Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17 (CEV)

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, God says,
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25 (GNT)

For those sorting out their priorities in life, God says,
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

For those who are looking for good investments, God says,
“Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

For those who are looking to be blessed, God says,
“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

For those who are feeling weak, God says
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV)

For those who are wanting to be productive, God says,
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

For those who are discouraged, God says,
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

For those who need refreshing, God says,
“The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)

For those who want to be great, God says,
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 (CEV)

For those who love to worship, God says,
“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the
Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)

For those who want to meet Jesus, God says,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

For those who need God to narrow it down to what is most important, God says,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NCV)

And to all of those who have lost someone close to them and need the hope of heaven, God says,
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The Upside of Failure

Believe it or not failure can be a launching pad to great things.

Winston Churchill was a huge failure. Even though he is known as one of the leaders that saved Europe in World War II, he was actually dismissed from leadership in World War I.

One of his famous sayings was, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Can you relate to that one?

Failure can teach us far more than success can.

Mark Twain said, “A person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned sixty or seventy times as much as the person who hasn’t.”

Failure also teaches us about grace and forgiveness. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again.”

In this life, we will not always do things perfectly.

We will fail.
We will be tempted to quit.
Our journey towards maturity will seem longer than necessary.
We will have good days and bad days.
Life is filled with both.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly a good day can become a bad one?

I went from a good day to a bad day very quickly once.

It was January 2005 and my wife and I were in Hawaii for our anniversary.

The fourth day we were there started out like it should.

We walked the beach, swam with some sea turtles, ate some pineapples, hung out at the pool, did some people watching, and observed some of the most talented surfers in the world ride 20 foot waves.

It was 78 degrees, perfect weather, and we were carefree and in love.

IT WAS A GOOD DAY.

Then, I became stupid.

We are in Hawaii. It’s just my wife and I. It’s perfect, and then I suggest that we not go out that night because the college football championship game was on and it would be fun to watch it together.

I will admit right up front, that I’m not very bright.
We are in Hawaii. It’s our anniversary. My wife hates football. And I make that suggestion.

She says, “You can watch football all the rest of the year.”

I say, “You don’t understand, this is a very important game.”

She says, “It’s always a very important game.”

I say, “C’mon, let’s do something that I want to do.”

She says, “What? Have we not been doing stuff you want to do? Like being with me!”

I say, “Yes, it has been great, but I WANT TO WATCH FOOTBALL!”
(Aren’t you impressed by my intelligence?)

Quickly everything became ugly. I lost my mind and my competition strength kicked in and it was no longer about doing the right thing, but rather it was about winning.

Winning in this situation was about watching the football game that night.
I could go on but you probably can guess the rest of the story.

A GOOD DAY became a very BAD DAY!

I was thinking about a character in history whose life was the epitome of good days and bad days.

His name was Simon Peter.

He was one of Jesus’ first disciples.

These are the events of his life:

Peter is a fisherman and Jesus comes along one day and says, “Simon, I want you to follow me. I want you to learn about my forgiveness and Grace. I want you to love a love-starved world. I’m going to make you fisher of men. You are going to change people’s lives.”

All of a sudden Simon Peter’s life goes from the mundane to a life of following the one who raised the dead, healed the sick and forgave sins.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you are become a follower of Jesus!

Instantly Peter puts his foot in his mouth. He gets into an argument with some of the disciples about who the greatest was and Jesus rebukes him.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you are rebuked by Jesus.

But then Peter walks on water. Ever walk on water? If you have, you probably do not need to keep reading this.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you walk on water.

Peter sees Jesus out on the water, he’s in the boat and he gets out and he takes a couple steps and then looks down and realizes what he is actually doing and he sinks.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you sink.

Now Peter sunk, but at least he got out of the boat. His buddies were sitting in the boat with their floaties on playing it safe. Simon Peter sort of failed, but he walked.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you take a step of faith, even when it is not perfect faith.

Then Jesus says, “I’m going to build the church on you Peter. Peter, you are the man! You’re going to be the foundation of the church, and not even the gates of hell will be able to prevail.”

IT’S A GOOD DAY when Jesus calls you to a higher purpose.

Jesus goes on to say, “And I’m going to die on the cross. I’m going to be sacrificed.” And Peter interrupts, “Well if I’m the head of the church, that’s not going to happen to you.” And Jesus calls Peter, Satan.

IT’S A BAD DAY when Jesus calls you Satan.

Peter then says, “Jesus I’m here for you. If you’re going to be crucified then I’m there to the very end. I’ve got your back, you and me. Let’s walk down this difficult path together.”

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you tell your friend that they will not be alone during tough times.

Jesus gets arrested and Peter denies ever knowing Jesus. “I don’t know the man” he ends up yelling at some girl scouts around a camp fire. He betrays Jesus three times, and at his friends worst moment on the cross he doesn’t show up.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you fail a friend.
IT’S A BAD DAY when you fail God.

Not being there for Jesus was devastating to Peter. The guilt and shame was almost too much to bear. Peter is thinking, “This is it. I’m a failure. I blew it. I know I’ve blown it before, but this is too big to recover from. This will be my identity. I’ll go back to being a fisherman. I guess I wasn’t cut out for what Jesus wanted me to be..”

IT’S A VERY BAD DAY when you lose all hope.

A few days later Peter is fishing and Jesus has resurrected and he sees Peter and he says,“Peter I’m not done with you yet. I still have plans for you. You have made some mistakes. It would have been nice for you to have been around when I was going to the cross, but I’m not done with you yet. You’re still going to be the leader of the church, I want you to love and serve and share with people the hope of salvation. Tell them about the cross and my resurrection and about eternal life.”

IT’S A VERY GOOD DAY when we get to experience forgiveness and second chances.

Then Jesus tell Peter that he will die for his faith and even though Peter doesn’t struggle with that revelation, he does struggle not knowing what’s going to happen to his friend John.
So Peter gets nosy and asks Jesus, “What about John? Is John going to suffer too?”
Jesus’ response is, “What’s that to you? Mind your own business!”
IT’S A BAD DAY when Jesus tells you to mind your own business.

But then something miraculous happens.
It’s recorded in Acts Chapter 2.
Peter stands up before the very people who killed Jesus and he preaches grace and forgiveness.

Peter confidently proclaims, “The one you crucified, you can now have a relationship with. Your failures and sins do not have to have the last word and you can enter into eternal life. Turn back to God and trust Jesus.”

Peter who denied Jesus and was afraid to even show up at the crucifixion shows up and preaches. And the Bible says that over 3,000 people, just in that one message, became followers of Jesus.

IT’S A GREAT DAY when we overcome our fears, when we take risks and we don’t let our failures have the last word.

PETER HAD A GREAT DAY!

Just like Simon Peter, we all have GREAT DAYS and we all have BAD DAYS.

But just like Peter, God does not give up on us.

So we should not give up on ourselves.

The scriptures tell us that “God’s mercies are new every morning!”

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

What Kind of Church Do You Go To?

I had the privilege of hearing this story first hand. It is a story that inspires me to get out of my comfort zone and to love more boldly.

It’s a story Tony Campolo tells about a trip he and his wife took to Hawaii several years ago. Because of the time change, he couldn’t get to sleep, so he decided to take a walk down the streets of Honolulu during the middle of the night.

At about 3am, he walked into a little coffee shop to get a coffee and doughnut, and as he was sitting in this empty shop, four prostitutes came walking in, talking loudly, and ordering something to eat after a night of prostituting.

They seemed to know the guy working behind the counter, and they talked to him and to each other, and as they talked, they were teasing one of the prostitutes named Agnes.

Apparently her birthday was the next day and they were making jokes about her age, and wondering how long she could keep prostituting.

Tony was sitting close and listening and even though Agnes was laughing on the outside, he could tell by her voice and her tired face that the teasing hurt and that there was an emptiness in her soul.

They eventually got up and left, and Tony got an idea.

He went to the gentlemen working behind the counter and asked if these ladies came in here every night about this time. The man said that they usually came in around 3am after turning tricks.

So Tony asks the man, “Would you help me throw a birthday party for Agnes the next morning? My wife and I will bring the decorations and the cake, if you can supply the dishes and silverware.”

The man looked stunned but said he would go along with it, since there wasn’t anything else to do at 3am in the morning. So Tony said, “It’s a plan. See you here tomorrow, same time.”

Early the next morning, Tony and his wife set up the decorations and brought a cake that said, “Happy Birthday Agnes!” and they waited impatiently.

At 3am sharp the door opens and in comes the ladies and Tony and his wife yell out, “Surprise!” and sing happy birthday to Agnes.

Agnes was stunned. She didn’t know what to say. She began to cry. Then she laugh.

Before they could cut the cake, Agnes asked if she could take the cake home and show her children. She had never been given a birthday cake before. Tony said, “Of course you can take it home.”

Agnes grabbed the cake and left the diner.

So here was Tony and his wife, sitting around with three prostitutes they did not know and the guy behind counter who seemed irritated by it all, and Tony didn’t know what to do.

And then it hit him. He announced to everyone in the room, “Let’s pray for Agnes.”

So Tony, his wife, three prostitutes and the guy behind the counter formed a little circle and Tony prayed that Agnes would have a great birthday and that she would experience God’s Grace and that she would understand how much God loved her.

When Tony said “Amen”, the guy behind the counter belted out, “I didn’t know this was some kind of religious gesture! If I would have known, I don’t think I would have gotten involved. What kind of church do you go to anyway?”

And Tony said the famous words that challenge my heart to this day.

He said, “I go to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3am in the morning.”

The guy behind the counter then said, “No you don’t. Because if you did, I think I would go to that kind of church.”

I think more people would go to church if there was more love, practical action and greater compassion.

I pray that there will be a new epidemic of “Churches throwing birthday parties for prostitutes at 3am in the morning.”