You can’t walk on water until you get out of the boat!

by The Mad Preacher

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:25-31 NIV)

“Faith is spelled RISK.” — Graham Cook

I believe that the number one failing that local churches have is their unwillingness to take a risk, to venture out into uncharted territory. I know of pastors who were booted out by a church because he wanted change. These types of go-nowhere churches want to just maintain the status quo. They’ve been around for a hundred years or more and the only change they want to see is a new coat of paint on the building or maybe, dare I say it, pew pastors-compromisecushions.

Many calling themselves “Christian” are like these types of churches. They don’t want to be challenged from the pulpit. “Pastor, just tell me how to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Don’t make me feel uncomfortable!”

Of the increase [expansion] of his [Jesus] government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal [burning passion] of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7 NIV)

If the first Christian church, which was just beginning in Jerusalem, had the same attitude as many of these 21st century go-nowhere churches they would have never left the upper room.

You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” — Jesus

In Matthew 25 Jesus said this about the Kingdom of God, 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. (Each bag was worth about 20 years wages of a average  laborer) Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30 NIV)

“Faith is spelled RISK.”

I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a casual Christian
I don’t wanna live, I don’t wanna live a lukewarm life
But I wanna light up the night
With an everlasting light
I don’t wanna live the casual Christian life*

Footnotes:

* Casual Christian by DeGarmo & Key from their album entitled, Commander Sozo 1990 Label: EMI Christian Music Group

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Only the Dead can Possess the Land

by The Mad Preacher

I’ve often pictured the Israelites wandering aimlessly around the wilderness for 40 years. promised-land-closedThen, I think, “I wonder how many times they went past the Jordan River in all of those years.” Moses left Egypt with an estimated two and a half million people or more. It was only about a three-day journey on foot from the Red Sea to Canaan. So, with that many people they must have passed the Jordan often, maybe hundreds of times. So close to the Promised Land that they could have spit and hit a Canaanite in the eye.

Then I think of the old song that goes, “One more lap around Mount Sinai ‘til you’ve learned your lesson.”[1] I think of the times in my own life when God kept me in the wilderness until I learned my lesson―until I learned to trust Him in some area of my life, or until I learned to repent of bitterness, anger or some other sin.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t like the wilderness! There’s pain and death in the wilderness! However, I wouldn’t take all the gold in California for what I’ve learned there. The wilderness is a place for purging, reflection and… death. It’s a place where God puts you in a holding pattern until you either learn how to fly or run out of gas―whichever comes first. It’s a place that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls, but those who survive its intense testing will go in to possess the land.

God parts rivers and pulls down strongholds for those who willingly put to death the sinful flesh while they’re in the wilderness. You see, pride and willfulness will never possess the promises of God. Bitterness and unforgiveness will never let us possess the land.

In fact, only dead people walk out of the wilderness. For one must be dead before one can be resurrected! Therefore, it’s only those who have submitted their lives completely to God, laying aside personal agendas and counting all things as loss will experience the surpassing excellence of intimately knowing Christ, that will march triumphantly into the Promised Land and possess it.

I look for you in the middle of the night
Savior and guardian of my soul
From highest heaven You hear my call
And in my trouble You comfort and hold me
I long for You when I cannot hear Your voice
And my heart is dry as the dust
Oh Lord, be near me if I should fall
And show me how to believe and to trust
You alone

There is no one else beside you
In the darkest night
In the wilderness
There is no one else beside you
At Your feet I cry
In Your arms I rest [2]

[1] Words and music by Thomas Steven “Moose” Smith copyright unknown

[2] No One Else words and music by Fernando Ortega and John Andrew Schreiner from Fernando Ortega’ album, Home  © 2000 Word Music, Inc.