LOL I’m still on a brief break…
Is blogging still a thing?
Maybe it isn’t for me anymore.
LOL I’m still on a brief break…
Is blogging still a thing?
Maybe it isn’t for me anymore.
Hey everyone sorry I haven’t finished up my Experiencing A Do-Over series! Been busy with family stuff and getting a few other projects up and running off the ground.
Be back in a week or two!
My family and I have been through a lot of trials over the years. And during those trials I have had plenty of doubts. I didn’t doubt that God existed or things like that. But I certainly doubted that His plan in those trials was good, faithful or trustworthy. That’s because it can be really hard to have faith in the middle of a trial or storm. Just ask Simon Peter… he faced a pretty significant storm and his doubts got the best of him.
In the movie Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is faced with the perilous task of crossing across a chasm that appears to have no bridge. The clue in his father’s book tells him that, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” After some doubt as the book’s instructions and some self-wrestling with the potential consequences of failure, Indiana Jones takes one big step out into what seems like nothingness, only to land on solid ground. His leap of faith paid off.
Unfortunately our friend Simon Peter had a much different experience.
In Matthew 14 Jesus sends the disciples out onto the Sea of Galilee while He goes up onto a mountain to pray. Later that night a huge storm blows in that scares this group (many of them seasoned fishermen) of men. Suddenly things get a bit spooky.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
Matthew 14:25-27 (ESV)
So here we are again. Another similar situation. The disciples are in a boat. There’s situation brewing and suddenly Jesus shows up but they don’t recognize Him at first. But once they do Simon Peter also does something familiar.
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Matthew 14:28-29 (ESV)
Again, Jesus is over there, Simon Peter is over here UNACCEPTABLE! Simon Peter does something that is crazy in calm weather, but in the middle of a storm? It’s unthinkable. But yet he does it.
And I think Simon Peter starts out how many of us do when a storm has hit. We say, “Okay I can get through this. Jesus tell me to walk on the water and I’ll do it. Even though the wind is blowing and the seas are rough, I’m gonna walk toward you and follow you.” So we get down out of the boat and we start that walk but pretty soon something happens. We take our eyes of Jesus for a moment and get caught up in the storm around us and we begin to sink… just like Simon Peter.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Matthew 14:30 (ESV)
If there was ever a moment Simon Peter needed a do-over it was in that moment as he was sinking into the Sea of Galilee. Waters he had fished from, probably from a very young age, and had been through many storms on before. But now Simon Peter is in over his head (literally) and the only thing that he can do is cry out “Lord, save me.” I’m sure many of us have prayed that in various situations in our lives:
We’re sinking into waves and are buffeted by the gale force winds of life and we’re beginning to doubt that God is good, faithful and trustworthy. And in that moment all we can do is cry out to him, Lord, save me. Because it’s in that moment of crying out for help, that God can show up.
31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:31-33 (ESV)
God sees our doubts. God sees the situation that we’re in and says, “You’ve cried out for me and I’m here to rescue you” just like He did with Simon Peter. That doesn’t meant the storm is immediately over, it doesn’t mean the aftermath won’t be painful. What it does mean is that God not only sees and knows our doubts, but He can save us from them if we cry out to him for help.
In one of my favorite hymns “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” there is a line of the song that says:
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never stay discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve been discouraged. When things have not gone the way I expected them to. Or especially when own stupidity or stubbornness has gotten me into some sort of mess. What does God want us to do when we get discouraged? How do we deal with discouragement?
7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
John 21:7 (ESV)
Over the years I’ve read that over and over again and the same thought hits me every time… It’s no surprise Simon Peter reacts that way because this is Deja Vu for him. You see, before Simon Peter was a disciple, he was a fisherman. And one day he was fishing with his brothers and Jesus asks for some help. Jesus asks Simon Peter to take the boat out into deeper water and to let the nets down. But Simon Peter has a bit of an attitude problem.
5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:5 (ESV)
Don’t you hate it when someone tells you how to do your job? Especially someone that isn’t even necessarily qualified to do your job? I don’t want to read too much into this verse but it seems that once again Simon Peter and his brothers haven’t caught anything and once again Jesus is telling them to try again. And so they do… and something unexpected happens…
6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Luke 5:6-7 (ESV)
Yep. John 21 isn’t the first time that Simon Peter has encountered the situation of fishing all night, catching nothing and then being told to try again. John 21 is Deja Vu for Simon Peter. So his reaction in Luke’s account of the first time it happened is strongly informative to Simon Peter’s actions in John 21, especially when Simon Peter does this:
8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken
Luke 5:8-9 (ESV)
You know people who have really messed up, people who have really blown it in their life sometimes pray a prayer like that. Discouraged people, often find themselves praying something like that. It’s the same kind of remorse that King David felt about the sin in his life. And people who have messed up in their lives don’t always want to pray that. But when you come face to face with the God of second chances you can’t help but pray what Simon Peter prays, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”
And Jesus says, “Yeah I know… I know the state that you’re in and I’ve got plans to help you. Plans the whole human race has been waiting for, for a long, ling time.” And Jesus then tells Simon Peter, “If you’re ready to experience a do-over I want to give you a new life. In fact, staring today I’m gonna have you start fishing for people. I’m gonna chance the whole direction, the whole philosophy of your life.”
It’s because of this encounter with Jesus at the beginning of their relationship that Simon Peter throws himself into the water once he knows it’s Jesus. I think that as Simon Peter hit the water he was instantly transported back to when he had first met Jesus and Jesus had seen Simon Peter’s discouragement and said, “You need a do-over.”
And some of us are just like Simon Peter… we’ve been fishing on the wrong side of the boat. We’ve been fishing for just a glimmer of hope in our families. Just a glimmer of hope in our financial future. Some of us are holding on to just a tiny, tiny bit of hope for our health and that doctor’s appointment we’ve got coming up. And I think Jesus is saying to us, what he said to Simon Peter. “I see your discouragement, but I’m here… keep trying. Keep fishing for hope. Because I can turn things around in an instant.”
12:15PM – Arrived at the the coffee shop.
12:17PM – Ordered my Iced Tea and a Tuna Sandwich. The barista offered to heat up my tuna sandwich. My initial reaction was surprise (it’s not typically heated) and then as she was ringing it up she realized her mistake.
12:18PM – The barista had a name tag on that said “Megan Barista.” As she was handing me my change and my sandwich back I said, “Thank you, Megan Barista. But I can imagine that isn’t your real name?” She laughed and said, “Actually my last name is Pope so you can imagine the things people have said.” To which I replied, “Yes I can your holiness.” As a curtseyed and walked away.
1:25pm – A group of 5-7 women just walked in and ordered drinks. They were all wearing red hats. Red hat society maybe?
1:32PM – Yep it’s confirmed… all from the Ladies Red Hat Society. See you can have clubs for anything… including hats… red hats… red hats worn by women. #mensrednecksociety
3:15PM – A guy in his 20’s just sat at my table. He’s wearing a purple beanie, has a vape machine, a full beard, sleeve tattoos and is reading a book called “True Love”. I love when stereotypes are broken. 🙂
4:29PM – I love that my new Apple Watch reminds me to get up and walk around every few hours! I’ve needed this constant reminder in my life for years and now I finally have it!
5:20PM – For the 10+ time today someone ha left the door to the coffee shop propped wide open. How hard is it to let it close behind you? Answer: NOT THAT HARD!
About This Series
I love going to coffee shops to write and work but frequently I find myself encountering strange and interesting situations and people… so why not share them with you?
Most of of us have seen a sunrise. In a movie, on television, in a picture. And some of us have experienced a sunrise in person. That moment as the sun starts to peak over the horizon and the dawn’s early light begins to fill the sky with colors. It signals the beginning of the day. The start of something new. A fresh start. A much-needed reset from the previous days worries, cares and even failures. I’ve seen a few sunrises in my day and most of them have been spectacular. Some of them have been welcome and some have been dreaded. Whatever the circumstances, a sunrises signals that the day is about to begin and no one knows what it will hold.
John 21 opens with Simon Peter and some of the disciples fishing all night but failing to catch a thing. But now it’s sunrise… and everything is about to change.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.”
John 21:4-5 (ESV)
Let’s look at the first miracle of this passage… a group of fisherman admit they haven’t caught anything.
Here you have the disciples, after a night of fishing, with nothing to show for it. Then there’s this figure on the shore who’s voice they recognize, but they can’t quite figure out who it is. (Of course we know it’s Jesus) And He asks them a question that would have a bit of a sting to it. “Children, do you have any fish?” Of course Jesus softens the blow a bit by addressing them as “children” and their answer is a bit short and concise, “No.” But can you blame them?
My Dad is an avid fisherman and has had some pretty good luck recently. I love hearing from him after a successful fishing trip. Describing the water conditions, temperature, the bait he used and if he used his lucky tackle box. But I don’t hear much about his unsuccessful fishing trips. Because what’s there to talk about? You went out, fished and caught nothing. That’s boring. And for some fisherman that’s embarrassing. No one likes to talk about their failures.
But Jesus asks them this question and I think it’s important not to step past it too quickly. I think that all the Lord wanted, was for them to admit their failure. That things hadn’t gone exactly the way they planned. Because it’s only when you can admit that you’ve failed that you can start to experience a do-over. The disciples acknowledged their failures as fishermen and Jesus gave them a chance for a do-over. He tells them to cast their nets again, but on the right side of the boat. Don’t give up, don’t quit, try again. So the disciples do just that and suddenly the nets are overflowing and they can’t even haul in all of the fish!
6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
John 21:6 (ESV)
They were given a do-over and this time they experienced much different results. But then there’s a realization on the part of one particular disciple. In the passage he’s called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” but we know him to be John the author of the Gospel of John and this passage.
7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
John 21:7-8 (ESV)
The moment Simon Peter realizes that it’s Jesus on the shore he grabs his lucky fishing coat and “throws himself” into the water and starts swimming for the shore. As one preacher I heard put it, “I’m here… Jesus is way over there… UNACCEPTABLE!” You see Peter had a history of making rash decisions and foolish promises. A long history. So over the next few posts we’re going to take a look at a few of those passages and really start getting a grip on why this was not the first time that Peter found himself in deep water.
There are times in our life when we’ve screwed up and wish we could have a do-over. Maybe you were pulled over and received a ticket. Maybe you made a mistake at work that’s cost your company money. Or maybe you’ve said something you wish you could take back. You’ve said something, intentionally or unintentionally, that’s hurt someone you care about. And despite the untruthful phrase, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you,” you know from the look on their face that they are wounded and now wary of your friendship.
Words can be powerful weapons of mass destruction. Or they can be instruments of peace and encouragement.
A situation like that reminds me of one of my favorite stories of the New Testament in John 21. You see there was this guy. He had spoken some words that he regretted. And he desperately needed a do-over. His name was Simon Peter and he was a disciple of Jesus. Simon Peter needed a do-over after renouncing Jesus three times, in public fashion, at the hour Jesus would have needed Simeon Peter as a friend the most.
This series of posts is going to dive in to Peter’s story and how a do-over from Jesus was what he needed, and why it’s sometimes what we need in our lives as well.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched a lot of television. My favorite show growing up was Knight Rider. For you young kids the tag line for the show was:
Knight Rider. A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.
I’ve shared on this blog before that I’ve always been very sensitive to justice and injustice. Knight Rider only served to reinforce that sensitivity. I’ve recently been re-watching the series on Netflix and have been amazed at how well that theme still comes across despite classic 80′s plot devices and cheesy stunt double fist fights.
For me much of the credit can go to Glen A. Larson the shows creator and patriarch. From the books I’ve read and TV specials I’ve seen he made sure that Knight Rider never strayed from the course. No matter what was thrown at Michael Knight and the Foundation For Law and Government (FFLAG) they always held justice up as the center piece of their motivations.
In one particularly moving episode Michael Knight confronts the man who killed Stevie (Michael’s fiancé from his previous identity). It takes every ounce of strength for Michael not to enact justice on the murderer but his partner KITT (the talking wonder-car) reminds him “You’ll never be able to live with yourself.”
There have been many times in my life when injustice has been done to me or to someone I care about. Sometimes it takes every bit of strength to restrain myself from seeking revenge or finding a way to speed up the “what comes around” mantra. Somewhere there is a balance for seeking justice and learning to accept injustice as part of our broken, messy, jacked up world.
Injustice is a product of the fall recorded in Genesis 3 and ever since that dark day in the Garden the only justice that is truly carried out is on God’s terms. Right now justice is partial, hard to come by and often overlooked all together.
It’s sometimes hard to trust that one day all things will be made right.
people love you the most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
this too shall be made right
children cannot learn when children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell
this too shall be made right
the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
this too shall be made right
there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who i choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right
-This To Shall Be Made Right, Derek Webb
Until then I still believe that one man can make a difference and so when I can, and to the best of my ability, I will always fight injustice done to others and check my own heart for wanting my version of justice instead of God’s.
My apologies to anyone that lives in Flint…
I recently have been disentangling myself from a toxic friendship. In addition to emotional manipulation and verbal abuse, this individual took advantage of my financial generosity and contributed directly to the end of the business I had been running for 5 years.
It wasn’t until my life situation changed drastically last month that I realized I needed to finally exclude this person from my life, despite the fact that I felt like I should keep trying to help them. It was a few weeks ago that I noticed the only time I would hear from this person was when they needed something. However, when I would try to communicate there was no response, even when I told them that I was in the ER.
The realization was slow at first but finally it became crystal clear. I had ALLOWED this person to take advantage of me over and over again but did nothing about it. No one needed to point it out to me… No one had to convince me… I had known it all along and yet continued to allow the toxicity into my life.
Imagine knowing that the water you are drinking is poison, but yet you keep drinking it. Can you really blame the water at that point for the consequences and side effects? Not hardly. But you need water to live don’t you? Yes but you can choose the water you drink. Just like you can choose the people that you hang out with and include in your life.
Friendship is a give and take. At times one friend may be doing more giving and the other more taking. But when the taking is consistent, to the point of destroying the givers life, you’re no longer in a friendship… you’re in a toxic friendship.
At the end of the day I hope this person comes to their senses, gets help and is able to turn their life around. But until I see concrete evidence of change and progress I won’t be drinking that water again.
“Why a lamb in his resurrection? Because his innocence is everlasting.”
Saint Augustine – 375
Easter Sunday. It’s one of the two days that are most attended at churches around the world. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Just to cover the obvious implications of the resurrection: without it Christianity is nothing more than a nice story at best and at worst it means millions have lived and are living their life in vain.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17 (ESV)
The resurrection is the pivot point of human history. Everything before it was leading up to it and everything after it is a result of it. No other event in human history, except for creation, is more important. In my last post I talked about the fact that Jesus had to die no matter what. But the resurrection means that eternal death has been defeated. That instead of death and separation, we have death and resurrection available to all who have faith.
Almost 3 months ago my Aunt Becky was ushered into the loving arms of Jesus. I blogged about her a lot on my old blog, especially after my Mom passed away in 2008. As I have been going through the grieving process my faith in the resurrection of Jesus has never been more important. Without that resurrection my Aunt lived out her faith in vain. In fact, my Aunt had a saying to the doctors and nurses that asked her how she was doing.
“God’s been good to me.”
The reason she could not only say that, but believe it each and every day she spent at the hospital or at dialysis or struggling during physical therapy, was because of the resurrection. The resurrection gave my Aunt hope that one day she would be given a new body with no defects, no blemishes and completely healed from pain and suffering.
The resurrection is also the reason that I have been able to walk through the driving process believing that she is safe with Jesus and that one day I will be with her again. There is nothing like the death of a loved one to truly test your faith in the resurrection. When you are standing at the grave of a loved one it can be easy to despair. It can be easy to loose hope. It can be oh so easy to forget that God is good, faithful and trustworthy. But the resurrection gives me the strength to walk through the grief, encourage my family in their grief and to continue to believe that God is good, faithful and trustworthy.
I hope this Easter that the resurrection will be more than just a day you go to church or hunt for eggs. I hope that it will be the day that you realize what the resurrection means for all of us.
“Why a lamb in his passion? Because he underwent death without being guilty of any iniquity.”
Saint Augustine – 375
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of Jesus being the sacrificial lamb. I think part of it is my deep love for the Old Testament especially the Pentateuch.
Good Friday has always been one of those days for me to calm down, reflect and think about just what Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross meant to me. I would always take the day off from work and in a previous life I actually helped to plan Good Friday services for the church I was attending. Most of the time communion was celebrated in remembrance of Jesus broken body and the blood that was shed on that truly horrific day.
Because I have a very vivid imagination my mind is usually drawn to what it must have been like to be there on that day. Most of the crowd were shouting for his execution or mocking him. Others must have been scared they were next. And then of course there is Jesus’ mother, Mary. What she must have felt on that day… To watch your child be murdered in front of you… It’s the part of the scene that my imagination just can’t fathom.
Finally, there is the matter of Jesus’ innocence. Jesus was accused of many things, none of which he was guilty of. Even the pagan Pilate recognized Jesus’ innocence.
4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
John 19:4-6 (ESV) Emphasis added.
An innocent man tried, convicted and executed… all so that eternal salvation could be available to the world. Just as in the Old Testament an innocent spotless lamb would be sacrificed in order that God’s people would be blameless for worship. Two huge things stand out from that concept.
First, Jesus was innocent. Sinless. Blameless. Spotless. During my short time on this earth I’ve had my share of struggles. Heck, even while writing this I’m sure sin is just around the corner. But for Jesus to remain sinless for 33 years? It’s hard to grasp. Not to mention to remain sinless in the midst of being beaten, tortured and murdered. As a young kid I know asked one of my pastors, “Why didn’t Jesus just incinerate, destroy and otherwise demolish those trying to kill him?” The simple is answer is He had to die. And He had to die a blameless man.
The second concept that hits my heart and head is that Jesus did this for me. It’s the part of my salvation I most appreciate yet least understand. I don’t mean understanding on an intellectual level. I mean on a gut, heart, soul level… why did this lamb of God die for me? At my very core this ultimate sacrifice just doesn’t make sense. The often quoted John 3:16 says it was because God loved the world. If that’s the case then maybe it’s the size and scope of God’s love that makes this hard to understand.
In closing, I hope you will take this Good Friday to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice, His innocence and what that means to you.
*Part 2 of this series will be posted on Easter Sunday.
Back in 2005 I began a blog to document the tales and stories I was experiencing in my life and to share those with friends, family and strangers. At the beginning of 2017, due to a technical glitch, I lost the main contents of my WordPress Database and therefore lost 12 years worth of posts. I have slowly been piecing those posts back together in hopes of re-posting them at some point.
However, in going through the archives I noticed a few important things. First, a lot of my posts were just a weekly summary of my Twitter feed where I was more active in actually documenting my day to day activities. The second thing that I noticed was that I posted maybe 4-5 posts of substance between 2014 and 2017 making me keenly aware that my blog was basically dead when I lost it.
This glitch has now given me the opportunity to post regularly as I will be able to curate the best of my past posts as well as post new stories when inspiration strikes. This will be my third re-start of this blog (which is insanely low for a blog that’s 12 years old) but I’m looking forward to this restart more than the others mostly because the pressure to create and post is coming from me and not from anyone, anything or anyone else.
All that being said, I hope you all enjoy this blog, it’s content and I hope that the comments and discussion will slowly return to a low hum as I travel down the Yellow Brick Road of life with you all.
Welcome To Tales From The Yellow Brick Road
I love to tell stories and I have a lot of them to tell. Stories about my life, stories about the lives of my friends and family as well as stories that have an impact on us all.
My goal with this blog is to tell those stories in hopes that as we travel down the Yellow Brick Road of life we’ll have shared experiences and wisdom to make it to the Emerald City.