Monthly Archives: January 2009

A TRIBUTE TO A CHAMPION

           By now you know I have the Apostle Peter under surveillance.  Been trying to discover what “makes him tick.”  Trying to figure out how he got into and out of “jams.”  Then, of course, I’m deliberately trying to determine what value the lessons learned from him can bring to my own life.  That study continues, after this brief interruption.  

           The brief pause here is in tribute to departed N.C. State University Coach Kay Yow.  Not given to such, it was my good fortune this afternoon to watch her televised service.  In all my life, I’ve  never seen anything like it.  Nothing!  She planned her entire funeral service herself, and as part of it she gave her personal testimony by video tape.  I wept.  And felt the “cold chills” which often accompany joy.  That, along with the entire service, was as powerful and gripping as any service of any description that I’ve ever witnessed!  It was beautiful!  In my opinion, that is a huge understatement.

              At seven o’clock today (Saturday), there will be a presentation on the Raleigh Television station.  I’m not certain if the entire service will be re-broadcast or when.  But your life will be enriched and your hope and faith will be reinforced if you find it.   I believe I would have been speechless.  The “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah at the conclusion was as eloquently articulate as anything I could imagine.

                I don’t believe I’m given to “gushing.”  This is truly a gift from God for anyone who’s willing to hear His voice.  With thousands watching live in attendance and by television, only Heaven knows how many heard. . . and perhaps will respond to . . . the clear, simple, personal and powerful presentation of the Gospel of Christ.  

                        And now I say farewell … it’s been a

wonderful journey, especially since the time I accepted

Jesus as my lord and savior.”    -Kay Yow

 


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HOOF IN MOUTH


        As I contemplate The Apostle Peter’s life, it’s obvious to me that he had an explosively hot temper with a very short fuse.  He also found himself frequently with his sandaled foot in his mouth up to his knee.  The man is credited with some of the most beautifully profound utterances in Scripture.  And perhaps some of the dumbest.  His brain and his mouth seem disconnected at times and he wasn’t a very good listener when you first met him.  But you don’t dare tell him that!!  With no college training, no executive experience, he’s ready to contradict Jesus, arm-wrestle James and John and anyone and everyone else for Chief Advisor to King Jesus when He sets up His throne!  And, single handedly, he’s prepared to take on the Roman army and their tainted judicial system.  In my distorted imagination, I could almost see and hear him doing his “General Haig” impersonation if a crisis developed:  (“Don’t worry, folks.  I am in charge!”).

        Incidentally, it looks to me as if Peter (perhaps in partnership with Andrew) owned the boat in which Jesus spent right much time.  He and his brother seem to have been in a fishing business right there on the shores of Lake Gennasaret.   Peter and Bro Fishing business must have owned a pretty good-sized fishing craft, since we’re led to believe

          Jesus and His entire delegation of disciples on some occasions were all aboard.  Apparently at the same times.   On some occasions, Jesus anchored just offshore and, from the craft, taught some who came to hear Him.  Any way I view it, they must have owned a pretty good-sized commercial fishing boat.      

        Our boat is just a little 16 foot Mc Kee Craft, and I wouldn’t want more than four of us out on it at a time.  That’s in the peaceful backwaters or the inland waterway on a nice day with only a gentle breeze, Dramamine, lifejackets, ship to shore communication in case we need SEATOW.  And we’re not too far from home and no threatening clouds are on the horizon.  

         Have you seen the painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware?*  That would have scared the living daylight out of me. “The Father of Our Country” may have known a lot about fighting a war; but he for sure didn’t know anything about riding or driving a boat.  How many guys are in there anyhow?  And how much equipment?   First thing I’d have said is:  “Down in front.  Don’t rock the boat.”  The Father of our Country should’ve known better than that!


         While  “away from my desk,” I’ve read accounts of Peter’s life and pondered them  . . . searching specifically for clues to his “downfall.”  Some of those things are fairly obvious, and we’ve discussed them to some extent.  Some of the information here might sound a bit redundant, and I apologize if that seems to be the case.

          In my attempt to clarify this in my own mind, it seems to me that the way he” messed up” had to do with a couple of key factors:   (1.)  He wasn’t clear on the identity of Jesus.  Check me out on this.  One time he burst out in answer to Jesus question about who He was.  With hardly a second’s pause, Peter uttered the profound: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”   Jesus complimented him for that declaration, even though He said it wasn’t something Peter had simply “figgered out on his own.”  It was a Revealed truth.  It seems at the time, Peter didn’t grasp the enormity of the truth he himself had just blurted out. 

         As evidence of the fact that Peter failed to understand what he’d just said, it was only moments later when Jesus rebuked him, saying:  “Get behind me, Satan.  You don’t “savor the things of God.”  

       But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works (Matthew 8:32-33).

         Another time when Jesus appeared with Abraham and Moses, Peter gushed about how great it was to have three such great figures together, and  “maybe we oughta stay right there.  Erect a monument, or something like that.”  (Matthew: 9:2-4 Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus. 

          (Matthew 9:5-6)   Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials- one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.   This deserves a closer look and some thought.  It seems as if Peter is fascinated with the appearance of two Old Testament “Saints,” and ranks them right up there with “Rabbi” Jesus.  Or, is he bringing the Son of God down to the level of other “great men?”  At any rate, when Matthew tells us what happened next, the response comes down directly from Heaven.  (Vs. 7) “Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: ‘This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”

        “Pay attention to what He has to say.”   Jesus is not a mere man.  Not even a ‘Great Man.’ He is uniquely the Son of God.  He does not deserve or need or accept our patronage.  The appropriate approach has Him in a class by Himself.  Peter “blew” that call.  

         The Voice from Heaven set the record straight.  This is not just a “great man.”  “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to Him.”   Jesus brooks no comparison.   If you think He’s simply a great man, you miss the point about His identity.  Even saying He’s the greatest man doesn’t come close to the claims Jesus made about Himself.  Or the Bible says.

         The other place I feel Peter was found to be vulnerable is (2.)  He did not think like Jesus. You see him several times quarreling over who’d be first when the “Kingdom” came. Jockeying for position. Pushing to the head of the line.  Without much effort, you can probably cite several examples that show this was not the way Jesus thought.  Nor the way He was training His leaders.  

         Another time Peter rebuked Jesus when He (who knew more about Messiah’s mission than anyone) told Jesus He really didn’t know what He was talking about.  Peter was self-centered.  Egotistical.  Erupted impulsively and explosively at the slightest provocation.  There are other instances which appear to me to underscore these points at which Peter was vulnerable. 

         Years later, the Apostle Paul wrote to some friends saying:  “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Paul explains in detail what that might mean, but early in his relationship with Jesus Peter certainly did not seem to “get it.”  It was only after his denial at the arrest of Jesus, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and his own restoration that Peter began to understand what Jesus had been trying to show and teach him.  How he should think.  How he should live.  

        It is not within the realm of possibility to live the way Christ wishes us to do, apart from learning how to think as He thinks.  That entails Him actually living in and through us.  Since that often turns our world upside down, many aren’t willing to pay that kind of price.

          A parting comment:  I hope my motives and methods are clear.  Believing each of us faces the same kinds of trials as we seek to know and serve the Lord Christ, I’m simply attempting to discover how some “saints” dealt with their own trials successfully.  Believing we serve the same Lord, it’s my opinion that He will deal faithfully and graciously with  each of us.  JUST AS HE DID with those who’ve gone before. . .  even when we get tripped up and fall.  Or get knocked down and trounced.  Or when we fail disgracefully or deliberately.  He does not throw us off His “team” simply because we “sin and come short of the glory of God.”  He is “longsuffering toward us; not willing that any of us should perish.”  

          I hope you NEVER FORGET THAT.  

      God’s servant, Your friend, brother and fellow student  ~donkimrey

         A parting comment:  I hope my motives and methods are clear.  Believing each of us faces the same kinds of trials as we seek to know and serve the Lord Christ, I’m simply attempting to discover how some “saints” dealt with their own trials successfully.  Believing we serve the same Lord, it’s my opinion that He will deal faithfully and graciously with each of us.  JUST AS HE DID with       those who’ve gone before. . .  even when we get tripped up and fall.  Or get           knocked down and trounced.  Or when we fail disgracefully or deliberately.  He   does not throw us off His “team”  permanently simply because we “sin and come short of the glory of God.”  He is “longsuffering toward us; not willing that any should perish.”  

         

Thank You!

My Mother’s youngest brother, Ralph Swink, has gone “Home.”  As he wished, at the last he was in his home surrounded by his beloved wife and children.  As he also requested, and typical of the kind of humility he displayed, he requested a private “sendoff.”  He wanted no big “to do,” and the family honored that request.  They also are grateful for your expression of concern and your prayers.

           A couple of other things have come up which have kept me occupied and away from the convenience of my study and work area.  Nothing serious, just personal, business, etc.  Also, I’ve discovered that the father of a very dear friend has died and I want to see her before we return to the coast.  Meg Scott Phipps is a dear, dear friend.  She has, in fact, been one of my inspirations for the studies on the “Comeback Kids.”  Her father, Bob Scott, was Governor of North Carolina and one of the most widely respected leaders we’ve had.  Please pray for Meg and her family at this time of loss.

           I have a couple  more studies on the Apostle Peter.  They’ll be up very soon.  Before you read my thoughts, I’d love to hear yours.  Especially, I’d like to know your answers to questions like this:  (1.)  How did Peter fall?   (2.)  How did he happen to get “restored?”  (3.)  How is his situation like ours.  Mine, to be specific?  Yours, to be even more specific and personal?  What do you make of the facts which are recorded about him?  It seems pretty certain that he was a sword-slinging, swash-buckling, red headed , hot-headed rowdy.  And for sure, the “cologne” he wore smelled fishy.  Tell me what you imagine he was really like.

          I’ll be home soon.  Thank you again, so much, for your prayers.  One of the “fringe benefits” of this effort is that I’ve come to know some “mighty fine folks.”  I pray for you, too.        ~dk

THE ROCK. . . or just a pebble?

 ( A study suggestion:  Some of you have taught me so many helpful things.  So, when I “stumble” upon something on my own which I think might be helpful, I’ll share it.  In that case, have you visited www.biblos.com?  I’ve not seen anything like this and will surely use it in my studying.  ~dk)

        While we’re on the subject of “rocks,” I heard there was a move underfoot in France. Some French folks were thinking about a way to recognize and honor their great, if abrasive, World War II hero, General Charles De Gaulle.  In recognition of his accomplishments and his contributions to international diplomacy, it is my understanding they’re planning to change the name of the Rock of Gibraltar to De Gaulle Stone!  (Just kiddin’ folks. Honest).

        “Petros” means “rock” in Greek.  “Petrified” is a word we can easily understand.  “Petrify” and “Peter” are derived from the same Greek word for rock.  Caiphas (another name by which Simon Peter was known) comes from an Aramaic word which means roughly the same thing.  I’m not certain how or when the name was affixed to our fisherman friend, Simon.  At first, I’d have said he should have changed his name or his conduct. They were incongruent.  It was only AFTER Christ dealt with the man that he was changed from tumbleweed to a man rock solid in his faith, unwavering in his commitment to His Lord.

         Accompanying the next couple of posts are several verses/sentences I’ve extracted from Eugene Peterson’s Message.   His translation of the Bible is another good reason why I feel nobody should honestly be able to say: “I don’t understand the Bible.”  (with that said, I doubt anyone will ever replace the majestic eloquence in the King James Version of the Psalms.).

            Early in the course of events, Jesus visited Peter’s parents’ house.    “Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.”  Matthew 8:29-31        

             Can you imagine?  Her son had just brought a friend to visit.  She had no way of knowing who the “Visitor” was, but she went right to work.    Those “boys” simply had to have a bite to eat!  Doesn’t that sound just like a mother?! 

           This happened very soon after Peter got “drafted” as the first of the original twelve.  In the brief time which had passed since he’d been recruited, Peter had been right there for a close up and personal hearing of the “Sermon on the Mount.”’  With his own eyes, he’d seen people get healed and given hope and forgiveness.  During his assignment with his new Friend, and for the next three years, Peter saw what Jesus was doing.  Heard what He said.  Peter had NEVER seen or heard anything like it.  Nor had anyone else.  Nor shall we.

             I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, but that’s all right since we’ve agreed this is an informal, friendly, study and a “work in progress.” The healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law was one of the first of many acts of miraculous compassion Peter observed Jesus performing.   It becomes apparent to me very early on that Peter’s close association with Jesus for those three years of His earthly ministry WAS AN IMPORTANT KEY TO PETER’S COMEBACK.  Perhaps it was THE KEY!  

                  Artists may not have done us a favor when they seem to glorify the “saints.”  With haloes on their heads and beautiful scenic backgrounds, we have a tendency to make them larger in death than they were in life.  If we see Peter as he really was and understand how he became a “hero of faith,” we can relate to that. As we examine Peter’s life, we’ll se him in some “messes,” usually of his own making.  He was a man of flesh and bone, like we are and he was far from perfect.   But through all of that, please keep this in mind:  He knew Jesus. For those months during which they travelled the countryside together, he heard Jesus speak. He may have heard the crowd say in awe and admiration: “Never man spoke like this Man.” (John 7:45-46) Peter ate with Jesus.  Watched Him work.  He was even considered one of the three Disciples often referred to as Jesus’ “Inner Circle.”  

             Once you’ve encountered Someone so extraordinary, so real, you couldn’t possibly forget it.  The influence Christ exerted on Simon Peter was as indelible as it was incredible!  He’d NEVER be able to forget it or discount it’s importance.  These were memories he could never erase.  Three memorable years!  For three years he traveled the countryside with Jesus.  During that time, it was like those “wonderful words of life” were engraved in granite on the walls of his memory.  My take on that intimate association is that it filled a hollow hole in Peter’s life which nothing and no one else could ever fill.  For the remainder of his days, the words and deeds of That Man were the standard, which inspired the best and highest aspirations in Peter’s heart.  

              My Dad was grumpy, grim, prejudiced and unhappy, even into old age. Perhaps his alcoholism helped deaden some of the enormous hurt and disappointment he’d experienced early in his life. He must have masked a lot of pain behind his gruff exterior.  Even after I became a Christian, I can remember his railing at all the “hypocrites” in the Church.  Ministers, especially “Preacher Kirk” (of the little local Pentecostal church my Grandpa and Great Uncle helped found), didn’t escape his sarcasm.  If Dad loved me, he never said so.  When I decided I should study for the ministry, the only reaction I got was his disappointment that I hadn’t decided become a pilot.  I sort of got the impression if I’d died in a dogfight over a Viet Nam jungle he’d have actually been proud of me.

             In one of the very few times when we actually talked and he seemed to be listening to what I was saying, I had just come to his bedside to let him know Mom’s operation was over.  The prognosis was very, very grim.  We talked some about her and her faith and courage, and again the subject of hypocrites arose.  “Dad,” I asked, “do you reckon there’d be any reason for ‘counterfeits’ to exist, if there was no genuine currency anywhere in the world?”

             By his silence, he seemed to consent and agreed such a thing seemed unreasonable.  I told him I felt that “hypocrites” aren’t anything if they aren’t “counterfeit Christians.’  And, Dad,” I said, “You lived for years with ‘the genuine article.’”  Mom was close to Christ and even as she drew her last peaceful breath I sensed she’d just joined the Saviour whom she loved and served.  To the last, she had prayed and hoped Dad would overlook counterfeit distractions and come to genuine knowledge of the Christ.  The influence of Mom’s faith lingers like a sweet fragrance on my life, even to this very moment.  I, for one, could not help but be influenced by her example and the love she lived.  When I surrendered unwisely to the pressures which I allowed to drive me from ministry, and when I sought very foolishly and vainly to fill the spiritual emptiness, there was always that influence.  I KNEW wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, she was praying for me.  You cannot discount the influence of a Godly life.  

            Whatever happened in his life, and no matter what he did after that early meeting, we must remember Peter was a close, almost constant companion of Christ for about three years.   That, I’m confident, was one of the main reasons he couldn’t go away far or stay away for very long.  Can you imagine what an impact such an experience would have on you?  Even now, if you just pause and quietly allow your mind to work, you can probably remember beautiful hymns and songs you heard as a child.  You can remember Bible verses which you memorized, and they come back sometimes when you need them.  Perhaps you can also recall moments when Christ seemed as close to you as our own heartbeat.  And my confident guess is that right now you know somewhere someone who loves you has been praying for you for a long time.  Those beautiful memories and influences make us what we are.  We may go away, but given time I believe we will come back.  Jesus’ influence is that powerful.  His is a love that will not let us go.

            I’ve asked my self this question:  In light of such closeness, how could anyone ever stray and stay away from the presence and influence of Christ?  Certainly not comfortably or permanently, as I discovered personally in my own ‘eclipse of faith.”

             But not everyone chooses to follow Christ or stay close to Him.  Once, when the going got really “tough” and the demands of discipleship were stated unmistakably clearly, some who started a journey began to “desert the ‘team.’).  They went AWOL.   Jesus saw what was happening.  Here’s how John reports the incident in the sixth chapter of his narrative:

 66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  67  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.  68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

            It was Peter who answered that question one of his own: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of Eternal Life.”

          Peter’s question has never been more relevant or important.  It has never deserved a more thoughtful, personal response than at this very moment.

 God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey

 (To Be continued) 

            (A parting note:  Please forgive me if you think I exercise “undue familiarity” with any of the great personalities or truths of Scripture.  In all seriousness, sometimes I feel I’m almost a ‘mystic’ in my reverential awe of Jesus, His Word, and the ‘end product’ when He completed His work of transformation on anyone.  However, if you and I get the full impact, the life-changing power of “The Word,” we probably need to view it in an accurate context.  Those whom Jesus called, transformed, and used, were mere mortals.  Just like you, and I, and everyone we know.                                                                                                                                                             

                In this context, I cannot help remembering a story my art teacher told me once.  She was the widow of a Methodist minister and helped me realize an early ambition to paint. One time she told me of an interesting little “side job” she’d picked up painting Biblical scenes on the satin lining inside of some caskets.  You read right.  Once a relative of the deceased came to commission Mrs. Green to paint something inside the lid of his loved one’s casket.  When she asked for some suggestion, he responded: “Oh, I don’t know . . . How ‘bout that pitcher of Jesus ‘n His buddies havin’ a little snack?                                                                                                   

           Honest.  It happened, and I laughed so hard I hurt. I couldn’t help it. That’s funny!  And I felt like Jesus would have gotten a ‘kick’ out of it, too.  Whatever else He might have been, He definitely was NOT a pompous, grim, stiff, stuffed shirt!) 

    

                                                                                                     

THE ROCK”?????

             Continuing the study of God’s “Comeback Kids,” I’d like now to consider Simon Peter.  The verses below recount his first meeting with Jesus (as far as we know.).  Jesus was beginning His public ministry, and dealing with the important task of selecting a “supporting cast.”  You can draw your own conclusions about the choices He made.  You know them AFTER He’d exerted His influence on them.  Based on what you can see and imagine at the beginning, which of these would  you have picked?  Which would you have chosen FIRST and relied on so heavily to carry out such an important mission?   

             Matthew 4:8And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.  19And He said unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20And they straightway left their nets and followed Him.

               Lately, I’ve gone back to get better acquainted with Simon Peter, the big fisherman.  For someone so “ordinary,” there are lots and lots of things I can learn about the man.  And from the man.                                                    

I’m living now on Topsail Island on the North Carolina Coast.  Our next-door neighbor, just across the high rise bridge and on the mainland (Sneads Ferry), is home to many serious commercial fishermen.  We have, as well, the piers and the surf fishing, clamming, and seasonal “wannabes.”  I see these guys all the time. In fact, I bought myself a pair of their “Sneads Ferry Sneakers” to go get oysters, clams, and mussels. Their efforts to get fresh seafood to your table are demanding, and not always adequately rewarded financially.  They labor in all seasons, always against adversity, as well as the strong currents and the wind and tides.   They struggle for their existence daily as they try to compete with the loosely or totally unregulated foreign industry and try to stay abreast of increasingly difficult government regulations.   They are decent, honest, hard-working, loveable folks.

            That was the kind of man Simon Peter was. When I consider that, I can get a pretty good idea of the kind of person he was.  No pretense.  He was rugged, self-reliant.  Had no degrees.  Didn’t wear cologne and never had a tuxedo.  Just a common man.  Unimpressive, unless you were looking for brute strength and an expert knowledge of tides and weather and the habits of fish.  When you get that picture in your mind, may I suggest that you read the first chapter of the first letter in the New Testament, which bears his name?  And let me know if you know any fisherman (or for that matter, any “intellectual” who handles such profound ideas so skillfully!

            He’d be the first to agree with his friend (Paul the apostle) that his change and his contributions were “not I, but Christ who dwells within me.”

            Now, this isn’t “preaching.”  Really.  In my opinion, it is simply a matter of looking at some facts and drawing some logical conclusions.  In this case, it was Jesus, not Peter, who was responsible for such remarkable change.  Turned him from an impetuous, possibly boastful, blustery blowhard braggart turned coward into a courageous, profound thinker and a Christian leader for the ages.  You can follow the path of his life and see that for yourself.  What I pray you don’t miss is this:  If Christ could take that kind of unimpressive, crude, material and make him into the ROCK which he became…Doesn’t it sound reasonable (and likely) that He could do the same thing with you?  With me?  (That took some effort on my part.). 

The conclusion I’ve drawn is simply: God in Christ can (has done it before with others and will do it again) change your life into one filled with promise.  Power.  Purpose.  Joy.  Victory. Peace.

           

            Consider “Pete’s”strengths.   (Forgive me, my esteemed Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.  I’m speaking of a simple fisherman, long before he was considered “The Rock” upon whose confession of faith the Church was founded.)  He was just a common, ordinary guy.  Like most guys I’ve known, he loved the sea.  He loved to fish and knew how to do that like a pro.  My grandson, Luke, would have loved him and Peter would have loved Luke.  It was the way he earned his living.  Two other brothers (James and John, also fishermen, who were asked to drop their nets and follow Christ) had apparently earned a reputation and were respected and feared by nickname: “Sons of thunder.”   But if that were the case, you could probably call Peter “Lightning.”  With a trigger temper, he’d mix it up with you in a New York minute.  If you ever got mixed up in a bar fight, he was the one guy you wanted on your side!  Toughened by toiling with his nets and boats and oars and the sea, seasoned and tanned by the sun, he wore the look of his vocation.  Red hair blowing in the constant wind, ruddy complexion made and kept that way with a permanent semi-tan, hands calloused by handling the line, you could never have mistaken him for a sweet, soft-handed intellectual.

            It’s worth noting that, when Jesus called him to become a “fisher of men,” Peter immediately dropped his nets, left his career, and accepted the invitation.  Obviously, Peter was very decisive.  That’s a good trait to possess.

           When asked a question, he seems to have answered quickly, directly, sometimes without really completely comprehending the truth of what he was saying. In one case, Jesus asked Peter what other people thought of Him. Then The Lord asked Peter for his own opinion.  His answer, “off the cuff” yet utterly profound, is an utterance which assured him a name engraved like granite in the annals of Church history. * (See the Scripture reference below).

               He was also very impulsive.  That’s putting it mildly.  There was no pretense about him.  You weren’t ever left to wonder what he thought, or how he felt about you.  His impulsiveness was certainly one source of his prideful downfall.  As you read the account of Jesus in agonizing prayer in that Garden, you can probably hear Pete snoring in the background, Peter was only dimly aware of the approaching soldiers led by Judas the traitor.  He was awakened abruptly. Startled, and perhaps only half-awake, with swift, instinctive angry skill he unsheathed his sword and sliced off a Roman soldier’s ear. 

              I’ve apologized for Peter for that act on several occasions.   I feel I now know him well enough to tell you he did not mean to slice off the soldier’s ear.  He meant to split his skull!  Wide open!

            Jesus took control of the situation, corrected it, and commanded Peter to put his sword back in its scabbard. 

            Something I’ve observed which may be worth your further thought:  Sometimes a person’s great strength can also become their greatest point of weakness.  If someone has a “gift of gab,” that “gift” can become the Achilles heel which leads to a downfall.  An above average beautiful lady or “too handsome” guy, has more than once allowed that to lead to unjustified pride which almost always leads to destruction..  Of one sort or another, and sooner or later if allowed to run its course unchecked.  As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west!            

            In this case, Peter’s zeal is obvious and admirable.  It is, indeed, a great trait and one too sadly missing among many current Christians, “Light half-believers of casual creeds who never deeply felt or clearly willed; who hesitate and falter life away and lose tomorrow the ground won today.” **  Even those called to minister are sometimes “Mealy mouthed, mild mannered men telling mild mannered men how to be more mild mannered!”***  Whatever faults Peter may have had, lack of zeal was not one of them. There could be no question about his loyalty at this time.

            Let’s consider briefly how he fell.  Jesus had warned Peter on at least a couple of other occasions.   On the evening when Jesus had his “farewell” supper in the Upper Room, He was aware of the approaching end.  The seriousness of the events weighed so heavily on Jesus’ mind, but the Disciples all were oblivious to his obvious suffering.  In fact, as they’d done before, they were in a wrestling match with words over who’d be “top dog” when Jesus ushered in His new administration.  He was trying to tell them something very important.  With their own selfish agendas, they were “jockeying for position.”   Jesus broke it up before the verbal bout erupted into a fistfight.  Look at what he said to Peter.**** THAT IS ONE OF THE DEFINING MOMENTS IN PETER’S LIFE.  It was a while before the impact of those words which Jesus spoke really registered, but I can assure you Peter heard them many, many times in the days and years ahead.   Evidence which developed later showed The prayer worked.

 As you read Matthew’s accounts of these incidents,  you can almost hear the soldiers as they gather, then make their way with lighted torches to Gethsemane that very night, when Peter had just boasted, “I’ll never betray you.  I don’t know about these other guys, but You can count on me.  For sure.”   Jesus, who knew Peter better than Peter did,  cautioned him against such arrogant pride.  “Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will have denied me three times.”

            You know the rest of the story.  Under pressure, under hostile scrutiny by the “enemy’s campfire,” Peter waffled.   He didn’t simply quietly deny any association, he denied it vehemently.  Three times for emphasis.   In the final denial, when he swore defiantly that he ever even knew Jesus, he successfully convinced everyone there he didn’t even know the Man!  Even back then, people had the notion that a real follower of Jesus of Nazareth wouldn’t blister the air with blue epithets.  Just a casual reading of this makes me sort of feel old Peter had earned a Ph D in cussing during his fishing days!

            AT THAVE VERY MOMENT,  it wasn’t simply a coincidence that the rooster on a fence post somewhere close by cocked its head back and crowed loudly announcing the arrival of dawn.  Instantly Peter remembered what Jesus had said just a few hours earlier.  He was crushed.  His boastful arrogance had set him up for just such a humiliating fall.  And, wouldn’t you know?  At a time when he’d liked to have just disappeared under a rock nearby, his eyes locked with Jesus.  And Peter remembered. It was a memory which he’d never forget.

            Disgusted with himself,  Pete threw his hands up and announced he was “going fishing.”  That’s not just a brief, pleasant way to escape his embarrassment and frustration with himself.  He’s announcing that he’s going back to the “old life.”  So much for his high hopes of a Kingly Messiah. So much for the dreams and hopes that had been raised so high and dashed so cruelly on the rocks of reality.

            I encourage you to read on, but feel I should also warn you:  If you think carefully and deeply about this kind of truth, it can dramatically alter your life! 

            See you again, soon.

God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student ~donkimrey. 

* Matt. 16:13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 And they said, “Some say that Thou art John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” MATT 16:15  He said unto them, “But who say ye that I am?”    16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in Heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” 

** ” A bit more detailed quote: “Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! And we, Light half-believers of our casual creeds, Who never deeply felt, nor clearly willed, Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds, Whose vague resolves never have been fulfilled; For whom each year we see Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new, Who hesitate and falter life away, And lose tomorrow the ground won to-day.” Matthew Arnold  (1822-1888), “The Scholar-Gipsy,”  

*** Dr. Vance Havner, a great old-time evangelist, humorist who’s gone on home.  I had the pleasure of knowing him and once introduced him to a group of ministers as: “The Winston Churchill of Evangelism.  Or perhaps Sir Winston was the Vance Havner of statesmanship.”

****We’ll talk in more detail about this conversation later.  I wish you’d read the entire account in Matthew leading up to the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the arrest of Jesus and the denial by Peter.

Before continuing “Comeback Kids”

           Before we resume the study of God’s “Comeback Kids,”  I wanted you to know more than the  sketchy details I wrote earlier about some who’ve encouraged me by their visits.  Or perhaps in other ways.  

          Robert is the attorney who’s written the book about Job.  I’ll include a brief excerpt in the near future, but if you have interest you can click on the highlighted “thingies” below and go into greater detail.  The book being used in the high schools in the U.S. is awesome (as in ‘tons’ of information and a hefty seventy five bucks price tag on the textbook!) Robert’s work is the primary reference used on the book of Job.  Her writes:

Don: 

          Thank you for your kind words in your latest post.  It was helpful to learn more about other posters.  Here is the information you were thinking of disclosing.  It’s authorized.

          It is currently taught in 262 U.S. high schools in 40  States through a much larger textbook “The Bible and Its Influence” http://www.bibleliteracy.org/bibcdocs/TheBibleAndItsInfluence Sample.pdf  (Bible Literacy Project http://www.bibleliteracy.org/site/index2.htm.

         I’m thinking of submitting the attached resume for the Senior Crown position that opened up here.  Closing date is January 5, 2009.  I ask for your prayers.

                                                                      All the best, Rob

 

          (This is don.  I’m back)  In my experience, occasionally I’ve attempted to contact some of the “biggies” on the religious scene.  For various reasons. None has ever responded, unless you count the form letters appealing for donations.  None has addressed a single issue I ever raised.  It came then, as quite a pleasant surprise when Dr. J .L. Williams responded to some recent correspondence I’d had with one of his associates.  J.L. is as busy as anyone I know, and has a long, unblemished record of service to Christ and His Church.  His ministry is deserving of your prayers, interest, and encouragement (whatever form that may take.). His regular posts are not only about his work in far corners.  He’s an excellent Bible teacher.   Between his globe girdling missionary journeys, he wrote:

Dear Don,                                                                                                                                                                               

            Loving greetings in Christ — and belated “Merry Christmas” to you!  I also wish you a “Happy & Holy New Year” in the Lord Jesus.  And just in case you did not  already receive it, I am sending you our annual “Williams Family Christmas Card” so you can see our children and grandchildren.            I am sorry for being a bit late in responding to your email via my associate Daniel.  I was in Kenya and the Congo for nearly 3 weeks right before Christmas.  Then after I got home, we experienced a “Computer Melt-down” at our office!  So I have not been able to receive, read or respond to emails for all of Christmas week — which has been both a blessing and a curse 🙂                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

            But before leaving the country next week for India and Nepal, I wanted to write and thank you for your blog about John 3:16 and “The Gift.”  Thanks for helping keep people focused on the real meaning of Christmas.   Thanks also for linking your blog to my personal one.  I really appreciate your doing that!  And as we go into ’09, know how much I do appreciate your friendship and partnership…             

  In His Love, J.L.

 

               I would also like to do you a favor in reommending the site begun by my friend Mark Ryman at Grahamfriends.org.  You’ll probably find some useful hints you can use if you have responsibility for helping with your Church’s website.  

 

ME AND MY SHADOW

ME AND MY SHADOW

            My Momma told me never to hang out with strangers.  Yours probably told you the same thing, so allow me to introduce me.  Here I am with LadyLuck, my little much-loved Westy.  Lord Fauntleroy, her Shitsu male companion, is outside at present, busily chasing squirrels I reckon.  Incidentally, the earphones are my way of drowning out distractions.  Providing background for my “thinking” sessions, I enjoy Willie Nelson, Roberta Flack, K.T. Oslin, Louis Armstrong, Bev Shea, The Imperials, The Lettermen, Jim Croce, Janis Ian, hummingbirds and morning glories, little newborn babies and ducks and such.  There’s also something very consoling about hearing the ocean waves lapping gently upon the shore a couple hundred yards away.  And I’m always awed when they get churned up by some storm and slap the beach angrily.   I also love the gentle sound of rain on the roof.

              I was just kidding about being in the “witness protection program.”  Honest.  But if you see my mug shot down at the post office, please don’t tell anyone. 

              My next study is going to be on Simon Peter, the fisherman turned to a “Fisher of Men,” and the unlikely subject some have called “The Rock.”  He acted more like a hothead and a spiritual creampuff early on.  But that was before he had dealings with the risen Christ.  You’ll find mention made of him in many places in Scripture.  What I’m searching for as always, specifically, is how he got into some spiritual debacles. . . and how he came back.  There are some very specific times, some critical, defining moments.  I want to identify them.  Try to understand what happened and what it may have meant.  He surely made some large, impetuous blunders.  I really have come to believe that, if Christ can recover the likes of Peter, there’s a strong possibility He can do it again in my life.   

          I hope you’ll read all you can about Simon Peter, think about what you discover, and then share it with me when you have opportunity.  My prayers and best wishes are for you and those whom you love as you journey through the New Year.

God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student    ><>  donkimrey

 

WHAT’S NEW?

An Old Testament writer said: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

          You know, in a very real sense, that is correct.  Early in science classes, we were taught that “matter/energy is neither created nor destroyed. It merely changes forms.”  That probably means that every molecule that ever was still is.  Somewhere, in some form.  Albert Einstein rocked the scientific world back on its heels in the first decade of the last century when (as a low-level postal clerk) he first posed his “theory of relativity.”  As strange as it may seem, he did not invent or discover anything that was “new.”  Every single thing he talked about had always been here.  All the necessary “ingredients” of his theoretical physics had been here since time began.  The ancient Egyptians with all the wisdom collected in the fabled library at Alexandria, hadn’t a “clue.”  Nor did the Greeks or the Renaissance intellectuals.  It took someone as smart as Einstein, relying heavily on the thought and work of smart people like Isaac Newton and other predecessors, and all the centuries of accumulated wisdom, to figure out what had always been there. All the time.  And it’s taken a lot of very smart people (I’m not one of them!) to figure out what he figured out and they’re still trying to figure out what to do with what Einstein “discovered.”  Once the “atomic” age was ushered in, the implications and applications have dramatically changed civilization forever!  But the reasons for such change were not “new.” 

          We can wait and watch in eager, wide-eyed anticipation as other smart people discover other wonderful, awesome ideas and “things” that have always been there, waiting to be found.  Bill Gates isn’t the last or only such pioneer/entrepreneur.  But you can rest assured that, when another great mind emerges with a “new” discovery, it will not be new at all.  They’ll be pulling back the curtain on  other mysteries that were here at the opening bell!  There is really NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.

          In another sense, though, every day is a new thing.  God’s mercies are renewed to us EVERY MORNING.*  Every single day of our lives.  This is not just an annual occurrence.  We celebrate a “new” year, as a way we measure the passing of time.   Through observation and experience, some very intelligent people discovered that the earth does a complete rotation on its axis every twenty-four hours.  And this little sphere we inhabit makes a complete revolution through four seasons in a complete journey around the sun every  365¼ days.  We use those figures in several significant ways to measure growth and progress, make appointments, take inventory,  and “tally up.” But God doesn’t wear a watch or consult a calendar.  He isn’t confined by our sense of time and space.  At any given moment, in any place, He reserves the right to interrupt and alter the course of events, to confront us and challenge and change each of us!

          As I’ve been reflecting on the coming of another “New Year,” it seemed natural for me to recall times and places where I’ve encountered the word or idea of “newness” in Scripture.  This was one of those times when I found my trusty Concordance to be a valuable tool in helping to locate certain words or ideas.   I also searched my memory of verses I’d memorized years ago,  and one sentence that emerged almost instantly from my subconsciousness was a sentence in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters:  “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away; behold  all things are become New” (II Corinthians 5:17.). 

          Based on what he had experienced personally on the highway to Damasscus was a change is so dramatic, so far reaching, it can only be likened to a new birth. Being “born again.”  Which is exactly the point Jesus made to Nicodemus, as recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.

          Saul of Tarsus confronted the living Christ, and as a result, he developed a  completely new attitude, and turned to pursue entirely different goals.  Almost immediately, he developed new desires.  New ambitions.  And he also got a new name.  He would later declare that nothing in the dramatic change had anything to do with his best efforts.  He declared, in fact, that all the “righteousness” he’d counted on for favor with God was nothing more than a pile of old, dirty, rottten rags.  Regardless of the religious credentials and zeal and fervor he possessed, the great man of God declared that he’d been “saved” “by grace, through faith (in the Living Christ.)”  He went further to say the new life he had was not because of righteous things he’d done himself, but instead it happened by “grace, through faith.”

             Everyone who’d known him before the experience would vouch for the fact that he was a different person.  A new kind of man!

          I don’t mean this as a tired old pep talk.  As in, Rah! Rah!  Sis boom bah!   I’m not waving pom poms or strutting like a drum major trying to get a crowd worked up into a frenzy.  I’m  not talking about dropping a ball in Times Square at midnight and hooting and hollering and swigging champagne getting  schnockered and singing “Auld Ang Zyne” off key and setting off spectacular displays of fireworks.   Let’s call this, instead, a REALITY CHECK. 

          What I’m trying to say as clearly as I can is that God offers you a whole new set of possibilities.   Every day is a chance to start over.  Every new year, every single moment of every day.  Until you run out of days. 

          THE REALITY is that every day we have a  chance to start over.  To Begin again.  What we’ve done in the past does not determine what we can do in the future. Where you’ve been does not have to determine where you’re going.  What you’ve done does not decide what you can do.  The kind of person you’ve been does not dictate the kind of person you can become. . . if Christ is allowed in the equation.,

          I’m not talking about clocks and calendars, and holidays and changing seasons.  I’m talking about the grace of God.  The kind of power that can make a new person.  I’ve seen such changes occur too frequently for me to doubt the beauty and validity of such a possibility.

              While Scripture says there’s really “nothing new under the sun,” it also holds out the real promise and possibility of a “new birth.”  This very notion addresses a change so radical it can only be likened to being “born again.”  Becoming a new person, with new goals, new opportunities, new ambitions.  It speaks of how, through Christ, we can walk in newness of life.”

                So, while we dwell a bit on the passing of another year into history, how can we help being just a bit nostalgic?  And while we reflect, it’s quite natural that we look ahead to a brand New Year. . . filled with dangerous opportunities, exciting possibilities.  

               Who knows?  Perhaps through faith you could become a brand New You?

    You friend, brother and fellow student…and God’s servant, ~donkimrey        

* Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:21-26   “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness.”