Tag Archives: apostle peter

Only Broken Disciples Find Grace to Be Whole

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” said the servant girl.

Peter, standing near the fire, startled, began backtracking. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and slinked over out into the entryway.

But the girl is speaking again, not keeping her opinion to herself: “This fellow is one of them.” Again Peter denies it, but the meddlesome girl has struck the match, and the flames are spreading. Others chime in, “Of course, you’re one of them, for you’re a Galilean.”

Yes, a Galilean fisherman, to be exact. He certainly knew some knots, and he didn’t have to reach all that far back to pull up some “nautical” terms. He cursed and swore, “I do not know the man!”

When his Lord needed him the most, Rocky crumbled, and he thundered about the man he loved more than anyone else in the world, “I tell you, I don’t even know who this man is!”

Then the sound of a rooster crowing struck his ears for the second time, even as the words attesting to his cowardice hung in the air, and he was assailed by the memory of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “You will all deny me.”

As the whole bunch indignantly protested, one loud voice had rung out above the rest. “Lord,” Peter had opined, “even if all the rest of these deny you, I never will!”

Oh, be careful, Peter! Tread lightly, disciples then and now! We are never more dangerous or more in danger than when we’re feeling more “spiritual” than others nearby.

In that courtyard, Peter remembered Jesus’ words to him: “I tell you the truth, today—this very night—before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”

As the rooster’s raucous call echoed away, another sound replaced it. Peter’s own sobbing. Tears rolled down his cheeks, and the rock was crushed.

On the miserable scale of human foul-ups and faithlessness, this was no small failure.  But Christ does his best work not when we’re fat and sassy and so “spiritual” we have to tie rocks to our feet to keep from ascending prematurely. No, he lifts us up when we’re broken, and we know it.

After the resurrection, Peter and crew have gone back to fishing. The risen Lord has given them a miraculous catch and cooked breakfast for them.

Then Jesus gazes at Peter. Three times he asks, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Three denials by the fire in that wretched courtyard. Three affirmations by the campfire by the sea. And three times Jesus tells Peter, “Feed my sheep.” And, yes, Peter would.

Jesus loves this broken disciple far too much to let him wallow in his woundedness. Healed with a kind of wholeness he could never know when he was cocksure of his own strength, he was filled with new gratitude, new love, new wisdom, and mercy enough to share.

Now rolling down his cheeks are tears of joy as his Lord has lifted him higher than he could ever rise when he was sure he’d never fall.

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! And special news: An amazing, exciting, and inspirational story written by Capt. Red McDaniel, Scars and Stripes: The True Story of One Man’s Courage Facing Death as a POW in Vietnam, has now been narrated by Curtis as an audiobook. You can purchase and download the book, or listen to free sample, on Audible.com, Amazon.com, or iTunes.com. 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Even If Fidgeting Is Genetic, a Little Rest Is Divine

clicking-pen

Scientists have discovered, I’m told, a gene for “fidgeting.” I guess I’ve got it.

When sitting down with your legs crossed, do you find your in-the-air foot speed-wiggling for no apparent reason?

Has your spouse surprised you by suddenly erupting in your presence, “Will you STOP clicking that blasted pen!”? You didn’t realize you’d committed any crime—well, at least, not that one—but there you were, guilty as sin, nailed for incessantly and quite unconsciously rapid-fire firing off a pen-clicking mechanism.

Answer yes to those questions and, yes, you, too, carry the fidgeting gene.

I suppose fidgeters should form a victims’ group. Our society loves victims. There could be money in this. Surely our fidgeting is not our own fault. Who to sue?

If you’re a fidgeter, I guess you could try to overcome genetics by cutting down on your coffee intake. I’ve thought about cutting back to one pot. But that approach seems fraught with danger. I can’t imagine how anyone could expect to write anything coherent or, for that matter, think two logical thoughts in a row, without the beneficent aid of a cup or a few of dark-roasted brew.

How many sermons have crashed on take-off even at the composition stage, long before they reached the pulpit, because the reckless sermonizer was short of coffee? How many columns and essays have decomposed even as they were being composed, simply because the writer was so undisciplined and lax in his craft, so criminally careless with the precious words entrusted to his care, that he tried, without the aid of coffee, to send them down the runway and expect them to fly?

One wonders.

Besides that, the list of the health benefits of coffee-drinking just keep piling up. Google it. (By the way, did you notice that butter has now been pardoned by the food police? Cheesecake will surely be next!)

Ah, but how to deal with fidgeting?

I’m told that some fidgeters, trying to bravely bear up under the weight of their affliction, enter the ministry. That way they rarely have to sit through an entire sermon.

For about two nanoseconds, I thought I had the answer: “Fidgeters Anonymous.” But that’ll never work. Not the anonymous part. Everyone around us already knows who we are.

But it would be a great club! (We could meet at Starbucks.) I couldn’t prove it, but I’ll betcha dollars to java-dunked donuts that both the Apostles Peter (jumping out of a boat to water-walk) and Paul (rapid-fire, take-no-prisoners prose) would be honored posthumous members.

God created, and loves, both fidgeters and non-fidgeters. Both groups have inherent strengths and weaknesses. But in the not-so-anonymous Fidgeters’ Club, we probably should post prominently a framed copy of God’s Fourth Commandment. The Almighty seems to think we all need to take some time to be still.

Fidgeters need to, even if it’s genetically difficult. And non-fidgeters desperately deserve a break from fidgeters.

 

      Some new stuff is on the website! You’re invited to visit at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Christ’s Unfailing Love Is Still His Gift Whenever We Fail

The Apostle Peter was about to foul up. And not just a little.

Any Christian with an ounce of spiritual sensitivity knows that we all “deny” Christ whenever we choose for self and not for God, hurt others, live selfishly, make poor choices, commit sin, etc. We all have, and we all do. In some way, we “deny” him every day by some poor attitude, word, or deed.

But Peter, the first to confess out loud that Jesus is “the very Son of God,” Peter of “rock-like” faith fame, Peter who would later see visions, preach the Good News to the Gentiles, write Scripture, perform miracles, die an “extreme faith” death, is about to loudly deny his Lord three times (“I don’t even know the man!”), and cut and run, at the very time Jesus needs him the most.

It was world-class BIG on the scale of human foul-ups. Few people ever mess up in a way any worse, larger, blacker, fouler, than this one.

And yet what I find most amazing is not that Peter was weak or that the mess was rotten and real. What is most amazing is not the way Christ will deal with Peter and the “train wreck,” as impressive and instructive as that is: three times Peter denied his Lord, and three times Jesus will, for Peter’s sake, have him verbally affirm what Jesus already knows, that Peter does love him.

What I find most remarkable is the way Jesus deals with the situation and his friend and disciple even before the denial.

At that “last supper,” Jesus says that the hand of the one who would betray him was there present. But he wasn’t talking about the hand of the one who would deny him. One disciple would betray and then wallow in a sick sorrow that leads to despair and death. One disciple would deny terribly and then weep bitter and genuine tears but allow the Lord’s hand to lift him up and lead him through.

On that same amazing night at that table, Jesus will tell Peter three things—first, that Satan has asked to “sift” him like wheat, which is no fun at all.

But, second, Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Amazing! Imagine Jesus the Lord praying for his friend. And then realize that the same Lord prays for you. Notice also that, though Jesus knows Peter will indeed fall and deny him, that Peter will in a very real sense “fail,” Jesus does not consider Peter’s failure the same thing as Peter’s faith failing. Jesus’ prayer will be answered. Even in the midst of failure and tears, Peter’s love for Christ and Christ’s love for him will still be real. And Jesus will not let him forget that.

Ah, and then comes a third amazing reality. Jesus tells Peter the “end of the story.” Christ’s love will lead Peter through. He will not despair. And that warm assurance is wrapped up as a beautiful gift, love’s “action plan,” in these simple words: “When you have turned back [repented, gotten back up after the fall], strengthen your brothers.” God always uses those who know they are wounded far more mightily than those who think they are whole.

Forgiveness. Hope. Power. Those are Christ’s gifts to the one he loves—before, during, and after the messes we make.

 

 

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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