For the Thousandth and One Time, Go Fish – Part 2

Simon's Team Caught Such a Large Number of Fish that their Nets Began to Break

Simon’s Team Caught Such a Large Number of Fish that their Nets Began to Break

These professional fishermen were coping with the logistical problems that come with abundance.  Their nets were breaking.  They were calling for backup help.  The employees were running on exhaustion and adrenalin.  Meanwhile, the boats were filling up.  Then the boats were so full they were starting to sink.  It wasn’t clear they could even make it back to shore.

Simon’s mind was reeling.  He put two and two together and realized he was experiencing a miracle.  He’s already seen several.  This time, this wonder, met Simon in his business. In the face of extreme abundance in his business world, he fell down on his knees, suddenly aware of his unworthiness.

Job had the same experience.  In the face of God’s wonders in nature, Job realized his unworthiness to question or challenge what God was doing to his resources, his family and even his body. What is it, that in the face of God’s wondrous acts, we wake up to our smallness, our unworthiness, and our inadequacies?

Using Simon’s honesty, we too want to tell Jesus to go away.  It was at this moment of human awareness of sin before Jesus that Jesus called Simon into action, and gave Simon his destiny for life.  Sometimes, it is when we feel the least worthy that Jesus calls us into action and gives us our destiny for life.  Often, it is at the lowest point on the performance scale of earning our way to earthly glory that Jesus calls us, and reveals to us our destined plan for life.

God used Simon’s knowledge of fishing to call him into fishing for men. Simon didn’t have to go on a journey to discover his destiny along the way.  Jesus asked Simon to do something he did every day.  Yet it was the thousandth and one time that a wonder unfolded.  It was doing what he already knew how to do every day, at Jesus’ special request, that destiny got defined.

 

“Lord, let me see your wonders, because they transform me.  I want to hear your call and fulfill the destiny that you have planned for me from the beginning of time.”

See the Part 1 of For the Thousandth and One Time, Go Fish

 


For the Thousandth and One Time, Go Fish – Part 1

Jesus Taught the People from Simon's Boat

Jesus Taught the People from Simon’s Boat

Jesus had a day job. He was a carpenter.  His dad was a carpenter.  He grew up building things with wood.  His father Joseph was a Master Carpenter.  Together, they earned a good living.

Jesus began to teach in the synagogues around the lake of Galilee.  His reputation as a healer and teacher were beginning to spread.  He was the people’s teacher. He explained things in terms the everyday man could understand with examples that made sense. People flocked to hear him teach.  “News about him spread throughout the surrounding area.”  Luke 4:16.  Next he went to Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law.  His miracles touched a member of Simon’s family specifically.  Many others were healed in Simon’s home.

One day soon after, the people were crowding Jesus as the lake’s shoreline.  Jesus saw Simon’s fishing boat and asked if he could use it to continue teaching to the masses.  Apparently, there was no problem hearing Jesus from a distance.

After the teaching ended, Jesus told Simon to put out the nets again. Jesus, a professional carpenter, was telling Simon, a professional fisherman, how to run his business.  It might have been clear to Simon that Jesus knew nothing about fishing, since it wasn’t the right time of day to be fishing.  His men had already put in a full day’s work, and would be on overtime.  Simon pointed out the futility of the day’s catch.  Overcoming all business wisdom, Simon went along with the request.  “Okay, because you, Jesus, are asking, we’ll do it.”

Jesus asked Simon to do something Simon knew well how to do.  Simon had done the same thing a thousand times.  Jesus wasn’t asking Simon to do something new.  It was the same old routine a second time in one day.  It didn’t make any sense, but hey, “Whatever…”  Maybe Jesus wanted to see how it was done.  Okay.  Let’s humor the prophet.

They put down their nets and “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”  Luke 5:6.  They signaled for help from their partner’s boat.  “Both boats were so full that they began to sink.”  Luke 5:6.

Prayer “Jesus, come and show me your wonders in my business world.”

See “For the Thousandth and One Time, Go Fish – Part 2


The Newest in Church Clothes

These Are My Church Clothes

These Are My Church Clothes

My husband and I had the privilege of serving the Homeless the Saturday before Easter.  Over 150 men and woman acquainted with street life showed up for BBQ Beef lunch, a free concert, free haircuts, first aid,  port-a-potties, and prayer for healing.  Located in the parking lot of a business in the warehouse district of San Jose, people flocked from many forgotten corners of the city.

Also present were about 75 volunteers to cook the meat, cut hair, bandage wounds, serve food and pray.  Food was brought to every person seated at rented round tables generating conversation.  Appreciating ran high.  Some engaged in conversation, and some just sat in the safe place, enjoying the concert.

I  prayed with a man named Don.  His clothes were stiff.  His deep hacking cough brought up mucus.  I left to find napkins to serve as handkerchiefs.  He nodded his thanks.  He didn’t really want to talk much.  I offered to pray for the cough and his health.  I thanked God for his beautiful eyes, and for the purpose that God had for his life.  I asked for the cough to be healed.  Again, he nodded his thanks.  His hardened eyes were softer.  I noticed the knife mark on his neck and wondered when he had acquired it.  I refrained form asking and smiled instead.  I met several other people, but found myself remembering his face as we drove home to a house.  I prayed once again that Jesus would be allowed to bring him to heaven.

I snapped a photo of one of the fellow volunteers that worked with the sound booth.  He had on a great leather vest.  Underneath the patches that said, “Jesus is Lord” and “Black Sheep,” he had a patch that read, “THESE ARE MY CHURCH CLOTHES.”  Truly this day felt like the heart and spirit of Easter 2014.

 


Prayers for the Parched: A Quilt Square

Sometimes our lives are like Quilt Squares

Sometimes our lives are like Quilt Squares

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Father,

I find it hard to be grateful for my circumstances at this time

But I praise you for what you’re doing with my circumstances

I praise you for what your intentions are

I praise you for your goodness

Even without my understanding II know you will use these circumstances for your perfect purposes

I praise you that I can believe this truth

I believe you ARE in control

I will guard my tongue when I speak to others

I choose to praise you with my words

I don’t know how to thank you yet

I don’t know what to thank you for in this situation

I don’t know what to do with my emotions

I believe you are larger than all my emotions combined

You (as God) are larger than my humanness

Thank yo for my emotions, and even the pain they bring

Send your Comforter – the Holy Spirit to bind these wounds

Send the Holy Spirit to mend my heart

 

 


Steph’s Recipes: CLASSIC RUM CAKE

Classic Rum Cake is delicious in Spring or Autumn

Classic Rum Cake is delicious in Spring or Autumn

CLASSIC RUM CAKE

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 pkg yellow cake mix

1  3 ¾  oz pkg Jello-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

4 eggs

½ cup cold water

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

Glaze

¼ lb butter

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Grease and flour 10” tube or 12 cup Bundt pan.  Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.  Mix all remaining cake ingredients together  Pour batter over nuts.  Bake 1 hour.  Cool.  Invert on serving plate.

Make glaze by melting butter in saucepan.  Stir in water and sugar.  Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly .  Remove from heat.  Stir in rum.

Prick top of cake.  Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides of cake.  Allow cake to absorb glaze.  Repeat till glaze is used up.

Optional:  Decorate with whipped cream.


After Easter, Hope Comes Alive Part 2

The Empty Tomb Gives Hope

The Empty Tomb Gives Hope

The rumors of Jesus being alive quickly spread throughout all of Judea.  Suddenly hope sparked again.  Questions flooded the discussions.  How was this possible?  Time would tell.  Counter rumors ran rampant as well.  The High Priest’s envoys claimed the disciples stole the body.  They said it wasn’t true.  But why would perfectly logical men invent such a story?  What about the contrasting testimonies of normal people.  And what was the buzz about dead people walking again throughout the land.  Time to check it out.

Even before the truth could be determined, hope flowed in the people’s veins.  Ideas flowed.  The possibilities for God to be personal and close came back into focus.  Maybe the last would be the first.  Maybe it wasn’t all about money after all.  What was that part about the meek inheriting the earth?  Maybe God hears my prayers.  Maybe God does notice my heart and unseen actions, even if the priests are oblivious.

Two thousand years later, we have centuries of studied and educated men writing volumes of theological insights.  We have recorded testimonies that continue to this day of lives turned toward God, Slave drivers who became priests, drug addicts who come clean and live a life for God.  Hope comes as we hear lives rising from the ashes.

Hope allows people to dream big dreams.  2014 is the year to bring out our old dreams, dust them off and set them on the desk to put plans of actions alongside.  This is the year to ask God for new dreams, implementation plan, resources.  It is time to hope.  As God answers big prayers, we will wonder if we prayed bold enough prayers to go along with the dreams He gave us.  It is time to dream again.  He is bigger than the obstacles.  He is bigger than the challenge.  He is bigger than the death of our dreams.  Alive.  Rise.  Hope.  Believe. Dream. Plan.  It is time to God and Fulfill all that God has put in your heart.

See After Easter, Hope Comes Alive Part 1


Love Calls for Commitment

Jesus Set His Face to God to Jerusalem

Jesus Set His Face to God to Jerusalem

Revival brings restructure.  Most people have learned to dread the corporate kind of restructure where employees lose jobs, prestige and territory.  God’s restructuring opens logical positions for growth with logic and common sense, rewarding what is honorable.  Whereas the current accepted behavior rational is financial incentive (doesn’t the Bible call it greed?), God’s principles are motivated by love.  God’s love is bigger than a mushy Valentine sentiment.  As a force, love casts out all fear.  Love defends the helpless.  Love trumps death. The God of Love is a warrior God who doesn’t shy from battle.  Make no mistake.  God’s “situation room” contains battle plans.  He knows the root issues and has declared war.  Pick your side wisely.  Spend time learning God’s heart for our time, thoughts and talents.

We choose God individually, but we were designed to fit into God’s Master Plan for community with one another.

Love fights when necessary.  And love rescues it’s own from the clutches of the enemy.  The Archangel Michael’s army trains daily in preparation.  God invites us to partner here on earth. The Bible outlines our preparation part. God says to be aware of the times. We watch. Look for him who comes like a lion, but isn’t a real lion.  Be sober.  Become Christlike.  Make disciples of Jesus.  Heal the sick.  Pray at all times. Give thanks in all things.  Enter into his courts with praise.

Love calls for commitment.  Ruth determined to go with Naomi.  (Ruth 1:16-18) It was an act of love.  Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.  (Luke 9:51)  He knew what fate awaited him.  It was an act of obedience.  Love and obedience go together.  Sometimes we see the obvious link and reason to obey.  Sometimes we are asked to obey before we see the link.  These times stretch our faith.

See After Easter, Hope Comes Alive Part 1


After Easter, Hope Comes Alive Part 1

The Empty Tomb Gives Hope

The Empty Tomb Gives Hope

The day we call “Good Friday”  commemorates the day Jesus was crucified.  Hopes of every Jesus follower sunk to a new nadir.  What happened to Jesus’ talk about the Kingdom of God?  How could people have hope for healing and redemption?  Did his followers have to go back to the restrictive legalistic Jewish law and hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Were politics going to win over justice again?  Was no one going to stop them from killing this innocent man die?  Could no one ever stop the liars from offering testimony for money?  Was no one ever going to be able to stop the Romans from ruling over Judea?  Talk about feeling discouraged.  Now what?

Passover must have felt like a blanket was laid over Jerusalem with the news of Jesus’ death.  Even those who hadn’t rendered an official position had to know that death wasn’t deserved.

No one was prepared for the news of Jesus being alive that Sunday morning.  Even if the people had heard that the temple would rise again after three days and thought it odd, had never considered the “temple” to be Jesus’ body.  Yet the rumors ran rampant.

Jesus is alive?  Really?  The brain cranks over into possibility.  Then maybe everything he said needs to be reconsidered.  Now what was he saying about the Kingdom of God coming near?  What was that part about Jesus being the way to God, His Father?  What is it’s all true?  What did He say about the Father’s love?  Where were those disciples?  I must ask them about my question?

Suddenly hope sparked again.  Ideas flowed.  The possibilities for God to be personal and close came back into focus

See After  Easter, Hope Comes Alive Part 2


Benefiting from Jesus’ Costly Obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus Modeled Obedience Based on Love

Jesus Modeled Obedience Based on Love

When Jesus allowed Himself to be betrayed without escaping….When Jesus didn’t call in the angelic troops to stop the High Priest’s armies…When Jesus didn’t offer a stunning defense of the fallacy of the charges to Pilate…When Jesus didn’t show the perform a miracle to stop the crowd from demanding his death….He submitted to God’s higher plan for all of mankind.

There’s a lot of Christians today who have a faith in God without truly surrendering to all of God’s precepts in the Bible.  The belief is that there’s an individualized plan in which each person agrees to do the parts they like.  It’s sort of like faith without obedience to the traditional ways.  Perhaps it could be summarized as faith with partial obedience.  In these people’s minds, they decide that they know better than outdated church doctrine.  They often compare themselves to the general population and see themselves as more knowledgeable about religion or better than the average person behaviorally. These are the “generally good” people. Further, there are a lot of churches that will defend these beliefs, and welcome these believers.

Another camp agrees to obey, but requires the logic behind the request to be clear before they’re on board.  This becomes a “prove-it-to-me” type of faith that doesn’t want to be duped.  If they can determine the “why” of something, then they wrestle the argument down to the finer points.  Their personal reasons may supersede the need to follow the exact letter of the law.

Obedience without understanding requires faith.  Faith increases when we obey God without knowledge in advance of what the benefit is.  Simply complying with scripture tests our obedience levels.  I usually do not know in advance what the benefits are to fasting.   It’s after fasting that I learn what God wants to say to me, or what He is strengthening me to do.  Sometimes it’s after multiple days of fasting that we see the shift in circumstances, or get the desired breakthrough.

Jesus demonstrated obedience by love. Jesus submitted to God’s plan at every level, overcoming the human reaction to what the divine part of Him knew was about to unfold. No other person saw the redemption plan for mankind in advance. God knew.  God asked.  Jesus showed us obedience based on love.  He loved God by fulfilling His (Jesus’) part of mankind’s salvation.  He loved people in advance of his choice not knowing what each person would decide.  He focused on the joy of the people who would ask for forgiveness of their sins and choose to be with Him in eternity.  Jesus offers a costly love.


Grateful Forever for Good Friday

Jesus was Publicly  Condemned, Judged,Flogged, Tortured, Crucified on Good Friday

Jesus was Publicly Condemned, Judged,Flogged, Tortured, Crucified on Good Friday

Have you ever thought about what’s so good about Good Friday?  What part of Good Friday is good?  It isn’t the usual notion of nice or happy or comfortable when we think of Jesus’ long walk to the cross.

Jesus isn’t to be thought of as someone we delegated the role of “sacrificial lamb” to, as if it were our idea or something we might task to someone else.  God asked Jesus to do it because there was no other alternative.  It was love based request.  And a love based response to the request.  The depth of the request and the cost required a conscience sober decision. Sometimes I think people hear that God loves them with the gooey cherub love notion of a Valentines’ Day card. Rather, Jesus showed us his warrior love.

I wonder if God ever gets upset with people that believe there are many ways to heaven. In various polls, some Christians claim to believe there could be other ways for a “good” person to get to heaven.  Really?  If there was any other way for people to get into heaven, why would God have allowed Jesus to die as “an option.”  Why would Jesus have said “no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). 1 Timothy 2:5 summarizes, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

When scripture says “all,.” It usually means “all.” When scripture says “except through Jesus,” we must be careful not to add in other exceptions.  “My daughter is a really a good person and believes Jesus was a good person.”  The Bible is very clear that goodness alone isn’t enough to get into heaven.  Man’s sins required the sacrifice of a pure human.  No one but Jesus could fulfill this.  Period.  God gave Jesus a choice.  Jesus choose to die for us.

Good Friday was horrible for Jesus and everyone who loved him.  Out of horrible suffering and death came something very good for us humans.  Very good. At a horrible price.  Good Friday is a day to reflect on the “cost” of what God turned for good.  I am deeply grateful.