September 9, 2017 “Through the Storm”

Since we will not have services tomorrow and I am not sure if we will have connectivity I wanted to go ahead and post something for us as we pray for those already affected and those who will be affected which may be us. The track is still uncertain but God is certain.

 

It may seem corny but I am reminded of a recent Christian song by Ryan Stevenson called “In the Eye of the Storm”. It says, “in the eye of the storm, You remain in control”. Now most of us would say that but when push comes to shove and we are looking at a wall of a storm all around us with no escape will we have the faith to live and to die? But will we? We can learn a lesson from the disciples in Mark 4.35-41: “

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

After an extremely full day of ministry full of awesome teaching by the greatest teacher (Mark 4.1-34) they get in a boat to go to the other side of the lake. One purpose, to allow time to rest and reflect… nothing like sailing on the calm waters to take your mind off the crowds and reflect upon what was taught, natures water bed, and this would give Jesus a chance to rest which He does… how proud the disciples must have been to be the chosen ones to escort Jesus across the lake, after all it is likely 7 of them were fisherman, who lived on this part of the Sea of Galilee and since they could walk they were sailing and fishing. Jesus slept and they disciples talked, slept, ate and sailed, on autopilot, everything is great, they are on a spiritual high. When the sailors / fisherman in the group smell it and feel it. The hairs stand up on their arms and neck, they get chills, a familiar wind is blowing and they know a storm is coming. This was no unique circumstance, this was a common occurrence the cool winds would swoop down from the higher elevations on the mountain into the bowl in which the Sea of Galilee was fixed and would meet the warm waters and moisture and create disturbances… as the wind blew the majority of those in the boat knew what it meant a cyclone, literally describe as a mini hurricane on the water was coming, they didn’t have long, they had to act, it was instinct, Peter, James, John, Andrew, would spring into action, steer the boat into the storm, drop the sail, grab an oar, hand out the bailing buckets and listen for the command of Peter, the eldest on board and leader.

 

But what happens next is not ordinary. Was this storm different than others? It is possible, but I believe it was just like any other “furious squall” they faced only now they were the chosen few so after battling for a few moments they look around and wonder wait a minute, Jesus had already taught more convincingly and more powerfully than any one and continually outwitted the Pharisees, raised a man from the dead (Luke 8), healed the centurion’s servant (Luke 7), and healed a paralyzed man (Luke 5). What are we doing, we are the chosen 12, why are we in this situation when Jesus is in the boat? He’s on our team, we shouldn’t have this kind of adversity… in fact some of the non-fisherman we are told by Luke some felt their lives were danger! We must assume it was a pretty fierce storm but again was it different than they had faced before? Were they unprepared? Did they not know what to do? From what we know about Peter he is probably thinking something like, “Hey this is ridiculous, wake up Jesus…” We are suffering and working unnecessarily and Jesus doesn’t care, He cares for others and we might die out here on the water playing taxi service before we even get to do anything great. So they woke Him asking, “Don’t you care?” That’s quite a question for the Lord of the Universe, pretty insulting, but be honest we’ve asked it too. Notice Jesus slept through the storm, calm and peaceful in the care of the Father. He was in any captain’s quarter’s either, just a 30’ fishing boat with a single cushion and the back platform where men would stand to bring in the cast nets. But now He is awake, what to do? What do the disciples need at this moment? A lecture? A brow-beating? Help rowing? They need an unforgettable lesson about following Jesus, a lesson about discipleship! So to teach it Jesus in this instances needs their attention… so He speaks, sternly to the wind and waves. Notice we do not know how loud He spoke, it may have been His normal volume, after all the wind and the waves were only doing what they do. He said, “Silence, hold still” and the wind ceased and the waves stopped and in a moment they went from the fight of their lives to a serene and peaceful lake.

 

Then Jesus met them where they were, He looked at them with His tender teaching eyes and asked them two questions: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Let’s take the second question first, Jesus did not say your faith is weakened or small, but its non-existent… you see there is no middle ground for faith. It’s all in or nothing. Storm, no storm, sickness, persecution, wealth, the good, the bad and the ugly faith is faith regardless. The first question however speaks to their state of being after the storm and this is vital… they weren’t afraid in the storm (well maybe a couple of the rookies but not the group as a whole they were all at least familiar with the storms, remember it was normal to fish all night and sell you catch in the morning so they were fresh). Mark is pretty clear that Peter, who is his source for the gospel he wrote, is afraid now. Verse 41 bears repeating, “

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Peter told Mark I have been fishing since I was in diapers, it was not the storm but the Power of the Living God which struck fear into the heart of Peter! The Bible says the were scared to death now after the storm, fearing with great fear. Oh yeah, and don’t forget there were other boats with them who saw what happened but may not have heard the conversations, I wonder what they were thinking?

 

Finally, I would like you to think about the demeanor on the boat on the way to where they were going, they still had up to 10 miles to row… remember there is no wind now. Did they say anything? Who dares speak first? That would have been some serious time for soul-searching and reflection. So I implore you to reflect and prepare your heart (not just your property) now before the storm. Remember they were on there way to pagan territory, the Decapolis, the area of the Gerasenes to do evangelism. So be ready to display the faith we say we have and to declare to the world there is a savior who has conquered death, a far greater storm, than Harvey or Irma!

 

Prayers Through Your Storm and the Storm,

 

Chris

Recommended Reading From Spiritual Habits Week 1

 
These are in no particular order and cover a variety of areas to help us grow in our Christian lives:
 
Crazy Love (Francis Chan)
 
Embracing Obscurity (Anonymous)
 
His Needs, Her Needs (Harley) 
 
Insanity of God (Nik Ripken)
 
Radical (David Platt)
 
The Christian Family (Larry Christenson)
 
Love Does (Bob Goff)
 
Not a Fan (Kyle Idleman)
 
Adventures in Saying Yes (Carl Medearis)
 
Bringing Up Boys / Bringing Up Girls (James Dobson)
 
The Pursuit of God (A.W. Tozer)
 
You and Me Forever (Francis Chan)
 
Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend)
 
Seven, A Mutiny Against Excess (Jen Hatmaker)
 


Blog Post

Worship Guide Article Week of 7.2.17

 

Last week we looked at the roots of atheistic thought in America and this week right in front of us our two world views collided, literally! In Arkansas on Tuesday a new 6-foot-tall stone monument of the Ten Commandments was placed in a small ceremony on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol. Less than 24 hours later, the monument came crumbling down after a Dodge Dart plowed into it. The violence was captured in a Facebook Live video by the man charged with ramming the monument, Michael Tate Reed. In the video, Reed can be heard yelling, “Oh, my goodness — freedom!” as his car slams into the 6,000 pound granite slab. This is the second time Mr. Reed has driven his car into a Ten Commandments monument the first one in Oklahoma in 2014. Senator Jason Rapert, who in 2015 sponsored the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which called for erecting the monument on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock, citing a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the Ten Commandments monument on state grounds in Texas did not violate the 1st Amendment. “Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “resorting to property destruction is never the answer to a policy disagreement. Very troubling that a Capitol monument is destroyed.”

 

The Ten Commandments’ monument which was donated by and an outside organization and not erected with state funding had pending litigation against its placement by the ACLU. “I didn’t want it there, and I still definitely don’t want it there,” Anne Orsi, president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, said Wednesday. “With that being said, I don’t agree with the monument’s destruction…. There needs to be more discussion on the issue.” One thing scholars, lawyers, theologians and proponents on both sides agree upon is this battle will rage on especially in the political climate in the US right now.

 

The commandments are one of the oldest records of its kind historically and are the foundation of almost every nation and within every person. Both sides agree there must be civil order, we can’t go around killing people, there needs to be truth, we shouldn’t steal other people’s stuff. It is intriguing that placing historical monuments with the guiding laws of civilization is such a divisive issue, but Satan is the author of division. Atheism is indeed on the rise, bestselling books, regular articles, and airtime for the proponents of Atheism like Stpehen Hawking, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Nye the Science guy are reaching millions of people every year. Never has Atheism in its current forms reached such a large variety of people world-wide as it is right now. They have a missional plan and they are following it to the “T”. They are getting a lot of attention and as Jesus followers we must give them our attention so that we may be prepared, because kids are learning it in school from the youngest age. We didn’t even have a word for “atheism” until the 1600’s and now people can define Atheism more accurately than they can “Christianity”. How can we fight the good fight and push back lovingly against this challenge? First, we must realize we have an issue which will not go away in our culture and it is coming and has come to an address near you. Secondly, we must engage society, we must individually and as a community of believer’s in individual churches and our churches together get involved. In fact, let’s pray and contact our legislators about one way of combatting this problem which just passed in Kentucky. Once again Kentucky Governor Matt Blevins is on point! He officially signed House Bill 128, which was passed in April, at the state’s Capitol on Tuesday. The bill grants schools the ability to establish elective social studies courses on the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament of the Bible. An elective course in public school on the Bible!

 

The bill requires the course cover biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives which are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, oratory, debate and the development of public policy, like the Constitution and human rights.” Of course, the ACLU is ready, Kate Miller said, “We and our allies will work diligently with students and their parents to make sure they know they understand their rights under the U.S. and Kentucky Constitutions. We will encourage students to document instances where they feel their rights have been violated.” The Bible can be taught in public schools, Miller said, “but only for its historical, cultural or literary value and never in a devotional, celebratory or doctrinal manner, or in such a way that encourages acceptance of the Bible as a religious document.” No problem! All you have to do is present the historical context and say what the Bible says it says, it will not return void! What an awesome idea! If the right people teach that class like some I can think of in our community who know their Bible and have a gift for teaching and make it the class everyone wants to take what an impact we could have! Let’s start by contacting our representatives today!

In reality, it is the conviction behind the commandments which drives the debate… the conviction there is one true God because this statement drives everything. When you take the thesis statements of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, He created them male and female, I am the Lord God you shall have no other God before Me,” and Jesus saying, “I am the only way, the only truth and the only life no one come to the Father except through me;” you have the focus of the major attacks against the Bible and Christianity. Atheism’s primary attacks are against creation with evolution, the natural, logical and God given family, the law of God which points out sin, and the exclusivity of Jesus which says there is only one way to believe.