Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I first started believing when...

Lately, I've been reading blogs that are asking questions about faith and why we believe. So, I thought it would be interesting if we reconstructed how we all came to believe and perhaps some of the thoughts that convinced us to commit to those beliefs.

But, first, the story of Thomas from John 20:

One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he replied, "I won't believe it unless I see the nail
wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!"

"My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway."

We are those who haven't seen Jesus and believe anyway! How did this happen?

Let's reconstruct our story by finishing this sentence: I first started believing when...

I'll go first, and later (if necessary) add to it. Feel free to comment after you finish the sentence too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's been awhile...

Sorry friends. I haven't been the most faithful blogger over the past several months. I don't know if things will ever change, but today I wanted to share something from the Scriptures I found to be encouraging.

Luke 5:1-11 tells the story of how Jesus called Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him. He says, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!"

Fishers of Men by Adriaen van de Venne, Oil on panel, 1614 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

It can be a scary thing to have the Lord call you to a life of people fishing. These guys were commercial fisherman; established, with money in boats and nets, etc. Their contacts folder was probably full and their livelihood depended on selling the fish to those contacts.

Normally, you just don't up and walk away from a business. But they did.

I was thinking about that. Why call them out of their business? Why not keep them there and have them reach their contacts?

Well, Luke records a miraculous incident just prior to Jesus' call. Jesus had them cast nets into a dead spot that had already been fished all night. When they let the nets down, so many fish were caught that it required another boat and both were on the verge of sinking. Impossible!

And that was the point. Jesus showed them that he could make the impossible possible. Why spend time at the grind when, in a matter of seconds, Jesus could just command the fish into the nets and onto the boats? All the expertise in commercial fishing could never match the ability of the Master fisherman and His voice of command.

Their work would never be the same again. Jesus was beginning to reverse the curse. Once men were cursed to work the ground, sweating to produce food, but someday they would gladly depend on the Lord for all their needs, working only out of pleasure and enjoyment.

Through Christ, God rescues us from the fall. He offers us to cry out to Him and depend on Him and not "need" to work again. If we become fishers of men, our work is eternal, receiving eternal rewards and payoffs. Simon Peter and his partners could not stay in their business, because Jesus was calling them to come and learn from Him; come and catch people; come and understand His unlimited supply and the salvation He was bringing. He needed their full attention so that they could continue the message long after He was gone.

I believe Jesus is still calling people out of their "businesses" today. He offers a switch: They stop "working" out of need - and He provides everything.

Not a bad deal. If you've ever felt the call of God on your life, hear the Lord's words again, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!"