Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Peter gets a bad rap

Matthew 14:22-33 (New International Version, ©2011)

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter is usually criticized for his moments of doubt but I think he gets a bad rap.

First, notice that the disciples first thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw Him walking on the water. Peter, on the other hand, immediately credited the Jesus he knew for having the power to walk on water. He wants to join Jesus and, in effect, asks Jesus for permission. Jesus says, "Come."

Peter does just fine as long as he trusts his spiritual eyes. It's only when his natural eyes notice the wind that he began to fear.

Jesus nails the problem! "Why did you doubt?" In other words, "Why did you start to trust your natural vision more than you trusted My Power?"

But, what about the other disciples? They never trusted Jesus enough even to stand up in the boat, let alone step out to meet Jesus!

That's why I think Peter gets a bad rap. But, maybe, the real reason is I see so much of Peter in myself. We've all been there. We've started out doing something we really believe the Lord has laid out for us to do. As long as we trust Jesus for our strength and direction, we do great. Things go well. Then, we start to think we're in charge and things start to unravel!

Even so, there is no shame in failing if you have given it your best shot as Peter did. The shame is failing for lack of trying.

Notice what happens after Jesus rebukes Peter's lack of faith. The Scripture says "...when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped Him saying, Truly you are the Son of God." Jesus used Peter's sagging faith to draw the other disciples to worship Jesus and to confess His True Identity! So, He can use the rest of us Peters! There's hope for me in all my Peter moments.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


As I pondered last night, I remembered a Sunday School teacher I had in high school more than fifty years ago. Rayford Hall and his wife had taught teenagers in that church for decades. They each had a gift for bringing The Word into our everyday lives.

Once we studied the nature of God. Rayford taught us that God is lawful, orderly, and rational.

He is lawful in that there is a pattern to His Law. To every action, there is a consequence. Those consequences form a pattern that is concise even when the timing of the consequence to the action is not immediate. A ball tossed into the air will return to the ground as gravity impacts it. A sin will blot the fellowship we have with God. We can change the time it takes the ball to hit the ground by how high and hard we throw it. By the blood of Christ and His Sacrifice for us, we can change the length of time a sin inhibits our fellowship with God by how long it takes us to recognize, confess and repent of it. Nevertheless, the consequence is there and He paid the price. That's true in nature as well as in our fellowship with God.

The orderliness of God can be seen in His Creation. The basic pattern of every part of His Creation remains unchanged across the centuries unless man imposes his will on the creation. The patterns allow us to identify what "family" (species) a plant, animal, or mineral belongs to. The pattern of daisy flowers, for example, is different from the pattern of tulips. Even their leaves, stems, bulbs or roots form a pattern that is distinguishable from others.

God is rational in that He is logical, not capricious. For example, look at the Ten Commandments. They start with "Thou shalt have no other gods before me". God created us with a "God-sized hole" in each of us that only fellowship with Him can fill. The Commandments then progress to the prohibition against worshipping graven images. Interestingly, even pagans who have never heard of Christ have a "God-sized hole" which they try to fill....with images they produce. God then progresses to telling us ways in which we can worship Him, starting with setting aside a particular day (the Sabbath).
From there, He went on to behaviors that affect our relationships with each other.

It is important to recognize the difference between patterns and habits. Patterns are the distinguishing features within habits. Even good habits can have poorly designed patterns. For example, offering the traditional "Good Morning" greeting to someone can become a poor habit if the distinguishing feature is not real concern for them. Attending church regularly without the distinguishing feature of fellowship with God during the week can become corrupted. Obedience to parents to escape punishment does not have the distinguishing feature of respect for authority.

Patterns in our schedules and the activities in those schedules reflect our priorities. They mark us as either belonging to Christ or not. They also reduce our uncertainty in perilous times. I appreciate the time and effort that Rayford and his wife invested in teaching us to examine the patterns of our lives.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daily Consolation

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

There is tremendous consolation during every frustration (from burning supper to losing a job) in knowing God has lovingly made a Divine Plan for my life and that Plan is meant for "good and not for evil" (as one translation phrases it). From the loss of a "best friend" in elementary school to the death of a sweetheart in high school to loss of a child in early adulthood to the massive heart attack of a husband; one thing was certain. God was still in charge and He still had a Plan which would benefit me, drawing me into ever closer fellowship. How incredible!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To God Be the Glory

"To God be the Glory" is one of my favorite songs.

I especially like Andrea Crouch's version (click on below).

Sometimes when we give Glory to God, it's for the things He's done for us in answer to prayer. As I listened tonight to these words, it occurred to me that there are equally as many things I asked for that He chose not to do or chose to do much later in life.

One of the things He chose to delay, for example, was providing me with the opportunity to own a classic Porsche. Most likely, if I had had one when I was young, I would have had a monstrous wreck. I did not have the maturity to handle that much horsepower. By the time I had the opportunity, I was mature enough to realize I didn't need that much horsepower. And, I could walk away from it with gratitude that the Lord had delayed me that opportunity.

He also delayed my opportunity to teach for 17 years. Those years were filled with opportunities to learn humility and the true value of life. He taught me prudence and frugality and stewardship and how to trust His Plan. He delayed motherhood as well and showed me a variety of versions. Then, He held me accountable for my choices of motherhood.

I thought, too, of the prayers He said, "No," to as well. As the psalmist wrote God knew me from my mother's womb and, as Jeremiah wrote, He had a Plan for me and it was for good and not for evil. So, He refused me a number of requests because they did not fit with His Plan for my life, as I currently understand it. I am so grateful that He saved me from myself. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

And, then, there are all the "yeses"....some without my uttering the prayer! He provides food, clothing, shelter, transportation, beauty in so many forms, health and healing, joy and laughter and ever so much more. So, "To God be the Glory. Great things He has done." Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


(as taught in a 1700's poem)

Yesterday, a friend sent me an article from the London Daily Telegraph which presented the English view of our country currently. It was an eye opener. Later in the day, I saw Attorney General Eric Holder's news conference where he announced that the 9/11 defendents will be tried at Gitmo after almost two years of his proclaiming loudly they would be tried in federal court in mainland U.S.A. Later, I heard a variety of opinions on the meaning of his protestations. I was struck anew about how easy it is for us to begin to think (using a young people's phrase) that "It's all about them!" That reminded me of a poem we learned in high school. The last verse says it all!

To a Louse On seeing a louse on a lady's bonnet at church!

by Robert Burns

O Jenny, dinna toss your head,

An' set your beauties a' abread!

Ye little ken what cursed speed

The blastie's makin!

Thae winks and finger-ends, I dread,

Are notice takin!

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us

An' foolish notion:

What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,

And ev'n Devotion!


Yesterday was our 36th wedding anniversary. The entire day we kept reminding each other of all the things we had done since we married, the good and the hard to see as good at the time. It was fun. We were fortunate to have two family members recall that fateful day as well but, what was overwhelming was the outpouring of congratulations from friends (many of whom are not on FB and, so, had not seen my comment). Anniversaries are important. They mark milestones but they also shine a brighter light on relationships.

Morality Stories

In earlier centuries, troups of thespians traveled Europe presenting morality plays teaching life lessons. The Pilgrims and early Americans taught reading using the Bible, both in the home and at school. The McGuffey reader (the earliest reading textbook) also taught morals and manners at school.

As a child, I learned many lessons from simple children's stories. Jesus used stories like The Prodigal Son to teach important Biblical truths. When Josh was young, the Arch book series was a great presentation of these stories as well as character stories presented in rhyme. In my childhood, personal experiences of the older generations were used to teach important life lessons, always with the admonition, "I've already made this mistake so you don't have to."

I still remember the Goops books (Goops and How to Be One and More Goops) which taught manners and courtesy using both humor and rhyme. These were called morality stories and were part of our reading instruction. Unfortunately, many of these stories (such as Stone Soup) are missing from current elementary reading series. I used several of these in my classroom when I taught elementary students. One of my favorite morality stories is from Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The Old Man and His Grandson

by Brothers Grimm from Grimm's Fairy Tales

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son's wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears.

Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they brought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. 'What are you doing there?' asked the father. 'I am making a little trough,' answered the child, 'for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.'

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.

Maybe the reason I like this one so much is the fact that it has a lesson for every generation. The grandpa learns how poorly he taught respect for age to his son. The parents learn that everyone grows old and the foundation for how they are treated in old age is built during childhood years. The grandson learns, eventually, how to treat his elders. What does it say to you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Unsung Heroes...a partial list

This posting originated from someone asking me to "post some of your personal inspiration stories." It caused me to think about some of the unsung heroes in my life...the people whose influence permeates your thinking on a daily basis. Some of their names I remember. Some I do not. But, these people changed my life.
The lady who hired me at age 6 to wash her fruit jars. I got a penny each for those that passed her inspection as she held them up to the sunlight. I learned, "If you have time to redo a task, you had time to do it right the first time."

Two "maiden lady" sisters who, each year on Easter Sunday afternoon, had a "tea party" for the neighborhood children and their mothers. We dressed up in our Easter best, always with gloves for the little girls, and walked over to their house. It was old, needing paint, but the garden was a small jewel and the house was immaculate. They served small two inch squares of pound cake and lemonade. We were strongly admonished (read "our lives were threatened if we dared disobey") never to ask for a second square. One little square was all they could afford and, frankly, was probably a sacrifice. I learned that being elegant of spirit has nothing to do with wealth.

Our widowed neighbor who had to return to work at sixty because, when her husband died, she had insufficient resources. She worked at the information desk of our small hospital, answering the phone and giving directions. Instead of "woe is me", her attitude was "how wonderful that I get paid to help people all day!" She taught me that circumstances do not dictate attitude, attitude alters circumstances.

The drama couch (Sandra Worthington)who first gave me the idea that I was fully capable of college work and arranged for my admission to her alma mater months before I applied and even more months before I paid the application fee. She demonstrated for me the importance of laying cornerstones rather than stumbling blocks.

A coworker (Martha Grant) who showed me the strength of being a gracious giver. She taught me that the hardest part of being a gracious giver is being a gracious recipient! That included compliments as well as tangible gifts.

My husband (David) who taught me I never have to harbor doubts about my ability to do something if I am committed to giving it my best effort to the Glory of God.
These are some of my unsung heroes. Who are yours and what did you learn from them?