Monday, October 17, 2011


Peter grew in fearlessness by experiencing a series of victories and failures

One of the greatest victories of my youth ministry life was this summer at Houseboat Camp.  There is a skit competition and the best skit wins a coveted prize, "The Golden Ski" (It's not really golden). The winning team gets to hoist the ski aloft and rejoice in the VICTORY!!!  The Apostle Peter also experienced great victory in his life.  His is one of the greatest stories in the Bible of turnaround, redemption, and freedom.  To help us understand how he became such a victorious leader of the Church let's look at some of his victories and failures. 

1. Victory #1 Calling Jesus the Messiah (Christ) (Mark 8:27-29)
"Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others {say} Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." And He {continued} by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and *said to Him, "You are the Christ." 

2. Failure #1: Walking on water and Falling (Matthew 14:25-33)
"And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"

3. Failure #2: Denying he knew Jesus  (Matthew 26:69-75)
"Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied {it} before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." When he had gone out to the gateway, another {servant-girl} saw him and *said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied {it} with an oath, "I do not know the man." A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are {one} of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly"
I can remember a time in my life when I hurt so deeply that I told God one day, "If this is how bad it is going to hurt, leave me alone I don't want anything to do with you!"  That is one of the worst and awful things I could have said in denying God.  I denied God like Peter .  Thankfully He did not listen to that request, and even that same day God used me to lead a teenager to Christ!  Just like Peter God did not abandon me even though we both denied Him.  God is good and as as Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." Denying us would be like Him Denying Himself...He CANNOT do it!

4. Victory #2: Starting the Church
In Acts 2:23-24 Peter preached his first famous sermon that started the Church.  The conclusion of his sermon was pretty powerful!
"this Man (Jesus) delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." 
Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook almost by accident.  Since it's inception it has easily been the most successful social networking technology. Facebook currently has 500 million users worldwide 50% of those are daily users. Those numbers pale in comparison to those who call themselves Christians.  Those who currently call themselves Christians is nearly 2 billion worldwide! Eat your hear out Mark Zuckerberg!  With Peter's incredible final victory he preached a great sermon full of passion and on that day won 3,000 men to Christ (not including women and children!).  That day was a start of a worldwide movement that is 2 billion strong.  You and I have faced victories, and failures.  Let's take heart that God is controlling and ordaining all things even the "bad stuff" to work toward the glory of his matchless name! we are promised this in Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose." Rest in his great and glorious plan through victories and failures!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

OXYGEN: Christian novel

John B. Olson a good friend of mine and member of Creekside has written this book "Oxygen" several years ago and is now re-releasing it in e-book format. If you have a kindle, or e-book reader then go buy this. I am sure you will love it. oh and it's $0.99. You can't beat that!


Fearless: Jesus
Jesus was fearless in the face of the cross
1. What was the cross?
     Physically the cross was excruciating and we actually get the term 'excruciating' from the word 'crucify'.  The night before the cross Jesus spent the whole night praying and the scripture says his sweat was 'as drops of blood'.  This is actually a physical condition called Hematidrosis. It is a very rare condition in which a human being sweats blood. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. Several historical references have been described; notably by Leonardo da Vinci: describing a soldier who sweated blood before battle, men unexpectedly given a death sentence, as well as descriptions in the Bible, that Jesus experienced hematidrosis when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44).  So before His trial even started He had lost a lot of blood.  So He then was sent to the high priest's palace, later that night. The arresting party brings Jesus to the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court); according to Luke's Gospel, Jesus is beaten up by his Jewish guards prior to his examination. The court then examines him, in the course of which, according to John's Gospel, Jesus is struck in the face by one of the Jewish officials; the court then determines he deserves to die. According to Matthew's Gospel, the court then "spat in his face and struck him with their fists". They then send him to Pontius Pilate. At the governor's palace, early morning. Pilate, the Roman governor, examines Jesus, decides he is innocent; so to try to appease the crowd Pilate flogs Jesus.  This practice was commonly called 40 lashes minus one.  The Romans had perfected a way to torture someone, and leave them at death's door but not kill them.  They would whip or flog a person with a whip called a "cat of nine tails".  This had dried clay, glass, bone, metal, and other sharp objects within it to produce the most severe amount of carnage possible.  Doctors have researched this form of torture and have concluded that much of a persons flesh would be removed during the process (the Journal of the American Medical Association, March 21, 1986, Volume 256, William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E Hosmer, MS, AMI).  Jesus returns to trial, Pilate hoping that the punishment would appease the Jews, but the Jewish leaders and the crowd demand Jesus’ death; Pilate gives them the choice of saving Barabbas, a criminal, or saving Jesus. In response to the screaming mob Pilate sends Jesus out to be crucified.  Jesus then is made to carry his cross to Golgotha (which means 'place of the skull') and there is crucified.  Crucifixion was a slow and painful death.  When hung on a cross you would have to pull yourself up to even catch a breath, and then fall back down, and typically a person would not be able to pull themselves up anymore from the exhaustion and then die a slow death of asphyxiation (not being able to breathe). Jesus is crucified and the same day dies.  This is just a picture of the physical side of the pain of the cross.  I cannot do it justice in a blog. 
     Then came the emotional side of the cross.  Why should there be an emotional side of the cross?  Because God is an emotional being.  It says in John 3:16 "For God so loved..."  Love is an emotion no mater how you want to spin it. So if God is an emotional being than Jesus is as well.  The scripture says that Jesus on the cross cried (shouted, screamed, with tears I imagine), "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me"?  This has to be more painful than even the physical torture of the cross.  He was emotionally stricken as well.  Seperation from a Father that can only be known as the best relationship in the universe must have been emotionally painful.  God at this point must turn his back on his Son because he is carrying our sins.  Which leads me to the spiritual side of the cross.
     If you take the worst thing that you have ever done in your life...Think hard...Think really got it?  Then take the worst thing that everyone in the whole world has done, rapes, murders, torture, molestations, thievery, corruptions, Genocides, abortions, adulteries, etc, etc, and put all those sins into a cup, lets call it the 'cup of wrath' or 'suffering', and Jesus drinks that cup, that is just a fraction of the 'sins of man' and Jesus drank in all the pain and spiritual suffering of all that sin combined.  Just take rape or murder for instance people's lives are ruined from the consequences of these sins, and I am just thinking about the victims and what they go through.  What about drinking a cup of the wrath of God for the sins of the world!  This is too much even to grasp, but he did it for us. To free us from the penalty, power, and persuasiveness of sin for all time!
2. Why the cross?
     So why does Jesus need to die on the cross for us?  because of that great sin that we have committed and that we inherited from Adam, we are separated from God.  We cannot have a relationship with God, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". God cannot relate to us because of our sin.  We need a sin substitute.  Because of the broken relationship we are needy, and God wants to have us back again.  "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9). So God desires a relationship with you through Jesus Christ as seen in John 3:16 "For God so loved...the world that He gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life".  and The eternal life that is described here is a ralationship with Him in unity forever.
3. Why was Jesus fearless in the face of the cross?
     He was fearless in the face of a terrible cross for YOU and for ME!  As it says in Isaiah "Yet it was the lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the lord will prosper in his hand." Isaiah 53:10.  Who is Christ's offspring?  YOU and ME! Put your faith in him today.  Come to the foot of the cross and place your life in Him at His feet, and you will find true life!  Maybe as you watch this video below you can say with the music, "Lead me to the Cross!"