Friday, March 28, 2008

Is Fishing Your First Love?

Is Fishing Your First Love?
by Fred Alberti, Manager of Communities
"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

The chill is beginning to come off the air and with it I've seen the sudden increase in the number of fishermen on the docks. It seems the fish must be biting rather nicely.
But that wasn't the case in today's story…

The disciples had recently been through some rather traumatic events in the death of their Master. They were excited, and probably a little confused, by the revelation that He was no longer dead. How did they deal with this?

They returned to their first love… fishing.

They got on a boat and set off for a night of fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. But, unlike the fishermen I've been seeing lately, they caught nothing.

Early in the morning a man from shore called to them asking if they had caught anything. When they responded that they hadn't, He instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

I wonder if Peter was thinking back to another fruitless night. Did he think back to that day when they had taken Jesus out on the boat so He could preach to the gathering crowd? The night before had proven to be a waste of time when Jesus told them to put out in deeper water. Peter had lightly objected then saying, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:1-11).

I think John must have been thinking back, for when they cast their net on the other side as the stranger had instructed the results were much like that first account: "When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea (John 21:6-7).

I imagine that Peter's heart skipped a step as he threw on his garment and jumped in the water to swim the 300 feet back to shore. Did he remember Jesus' words from that first time when He said, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men"?

This was the third time that Jesus appeared to them and I think it was probably the first time after His resurrection that Jesus had the chance to have a real heart to heart talk with Peter. He began to question Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Each time that He asked Peter the question Peter would respond in the affirmative. And each time Jesus would replied back, "Feed my lambs," "Take care of my sheep," "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-19).

I've often wondered about the significance of this repeated questioning and have always concluded that it was just Jesus' response to Peter's denying Him three times. I think I've missed something over the years. I think Jesus was also addressing Peter's first love. Jesus had called him to catch men but on this 3rd appearance what did He find Peter doing? Fishing, not for men, rather for something else… sport, hunger, money? I don't know, but it certainly wasn't fishing for men. I wonder if this was serving as a gentle reminder of what He really wanted Peter to be doing.

What sort of fish are we hoping to catch?

Intersecting Faith & Life: Take some Bible tracts and hand them out to the fishermen you find at the local fishing hole.

Further Reading

John 21

Lessons from a Fishing Boat

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Waiting at the Cross

Waiting at the Cross
by Fred Alberti, Manager of Communities

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16

During this time of remembrance of Christ's sacrifice I am prone to wonder about the angels.
I see them standing at attention internally grieving over the suffering of their creator. Jesus was not merely the creator of just mankind. The Bible says that it was by Him that all things were created. This was their creator in the flesh suffering a brutal death.

I imagine more than a few wishing to dispense with the humans who were causing this atrocity. Matthew records Jesus stating, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Read Matthew 26:53). What incredible self-control! What awesome love to bear the punishment of the cross when it could have all ended so easily.

In talking about the prophets, Peter reveals that the angels long to look into this whole business about redemption and the good news of the Gospel (Read 1 Peter 1:12).

They didn't understand why all this was happening. All they knew was their King was being murdered.

Then I hear amongst the mass chaos of the darkness and the rumbling of the earthquake as the Roman Centurion and the witnesses to Jesus death beat their chests proclaiming, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Read Luke 23:47-48 and Matthew 27:54).

It was over. Jesus was dead. Now it was time to bury Him in a borrowed tomb.

Three days later I imagine the angels clamoring to be on the special detail that was posted. Who would get to roll back the stone? Who would get to wait in the empty tomb to deliver the wonderful news?

"He is not here, He has risen" (Read Matthew 28:6).

Oh, what a glorious pronouncement. I wonder just how the angels rejoiced. Were they slapping each other on the back? Were they shouting in victory? Were they beaming with joy over the news that their King was no longer in the grave?

How will we celebrate that day?

How will we honor the death and resurrection of the creator of the universe?

Intersecting Faith & Life: When you make your Easter eggs this year do one with angel wings on it to remember the angel's words, "He is not here, He has risen."

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

God's Secret Agents


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stain on the Brain

Stain on the Brain
by Fred Alberti, Manager of Communities

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

I watched Caleb as he sat there in deep concentration just staring at the book. Finally, I asked him what he was doing. His response was one I had never heard before. He said, "I'm staining it into my brain."

He was memorizing Scripture verses for AWANA Club.

The thing is he knew what he was doing. He knew that he was trying to burn the words into his memory so he could pass on to the next challenge.

I like how today's verse applies to Caleb's staining power. The psalmist gives the reason why he is hiding God's Word. What is it? So that he will not sin against God.

The reason for Bible memorization is to help us to abstain from sinning.

Oftentimes we resist Bible memorization. Instead we choose to stain our brain with TV shows depicting adultery, murder, and obscenity. Then we get ourselves into a moral bind and we wonder how we got into that place. We shouldn't wonder. We should realize that what we choose to watch and/or memorize is what is going to stain into our brain.

"Oh, that sex scene isn't so bad, at least they muted the sounds."

"Why yes, the whole point of the show was that the husband didn't get along with his wife and had an affair. But at least he was able to get a divorce and the mom was able to keep the kids."

"Well, sure there was a lot of swearing but the story was great and the murder scenes were so realistic. Cinematography has really advanced these last few years."

Folks, these are stains. They will stain your conscious and your heart and those of your family.
What are you staining your brain with these days?

Intersecting Faith & Life:
Spend some time this week with your family memorizing key scriptures about salvation, like Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Acts 16:31, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.


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