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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Do You Doubt?

Matthew 14:29-31, "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?"

I can't blame Peter.

I mean, after all, I lose my focus so often that sometimes I wonder if I need spiritual glasses. Let's face it. Neither you nor I are stellar examples of steadfast faith.

And we can't blame Peter for being afraid.

I've always wondered though, how many steps did Peter get before he looked down? How long did he last? How far did he walk? A step? A yard? Twenty yards?!?

Sure, he was afraid. Yes, he sank like a stone. I know, He went belly-up, so to speak. Fear gripped him, paralyzing his faith. He could just imagine tomorrow's headlines, "Peter sleeps with the fishes".

Yep, I'm aware. I've heard all the sermons.

There's no denying he did all of that . . . after he walked on water.

I'll say it again . . .

after He walked on water.

The guy walked on water!

Did you ever think about what was going through the mind of Christ?

When I look through the eyes of God incarnate, I feel a huge joy swell up within me. Here is a big fisherman who, after everyone else screams and runs for cover, has the guts to test the Master of the Storm.

"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.

Peter got out of the boat.

I love this verse! He defied fear, doing what nobody else would do. He opened a door between the supernatural and the natural, showing us a reality we could not see before. He performed a miracle of faith in the middle of the worst possible moment, the worst possible scenario, the hardest proving ground in the vicinity. He succeeded where everyone else failed.

He did more with those few seconds than anyone else in history could boast of . . . and that's why I'm impressed; that's why I'm inspired; that's why I love Peter!

And that's precisely why Jesus responded the way he did.

"You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

An accusation? An indictment on Peter? If we go with the age-old consensus, then yes, Peter is the proverbial black sheep of wave walking.

But I think there's more here. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I can't see every one's point. Sure, He failed. He sank. He cried for help.

But if there's an indictment on anyone, it's on the other eleven disciples.

It's an indictment on us.

Peter's the one who got out of the boat. He's the one who had faith, small as it was! More importantly . . . he acted on it.

And Jesus acknowledges that. "You of little faith . . ."

The other disciples had none.

See, the problem wasn't Peter's faith. His faith was just fine, at first.

Three chapters away from this moment, Jesus explains. "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you."

Peter's faith was powerful! He was planting mustard plants with every step! He believed and he acted. At that moment, the impossible became the possible. At that moment, for those few seconds, someone other than the Son of God stood on water. That amazes me.

And it is here that we see Jesus' statement for what it was. "You of little faith". With this, He both acknowledges the power of what Peter's faith was, and chides him for what it became.


Because the problem wasn't his faith. It was actually working quite well for him. The problem was what happened next.

He looked at the waves, at the storm, and he listened to popular sentiment that said, "This shouldn't be happening!!!!".

And he sank.

Jesus asks him a very direct question, "Why did you doubt?".

No beating around the bush. No exasperation. Our Savior had a way of getting right to the heart of the matter, as He always does.

Why are you doubting? Where's the logic in stopping now? You were already living the miracle! You were already doing the impossible!

Why. Did. You. Doubt?

Shakespeare sums it up nicely for us . . . “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win".

Doubt's only purpose is to destroy the miracle.

Why would we allow that?

Why do you doubt?

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

We Are Priceless

Fear does not become us.

We are made to shine, just like a diamond. The pressures of life, even direct attacks from our enemy, can actually work in our favor; molding and shaping us to the desired perfection that is preset to our design.

We are made to be brilliant, and the only substance that is capable of dulling us is fear.

It's so unfortunate and tragic in the truest sense, especially when we catch a glimpse of the situation from God's point of view.

The idea of fear overpowering us is like trying to break into Fort Knox with a spoon. It's preposterous . . .

but that's what happens to us. We are so magnificently made, but we so willingly hand over the keys of our worth, because of fear.

We do it to ourselves. We buy into the facade, and it's so easy for our enemy. All he has to do is present the world's most popular question . . . "What if".

We do the rest to ourselves. We have become masters of internal sabotage; shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak.

And it's so unnecessary.

It's like finding the biggest diamond in the world, then choosing to paint it orange and call it a pumpkin. There's no logic to it.

Fear does not become us.

It doesn't make us more attractive. It doesn't make us happier. It doesn't bring peace to our lives. It doesn't strengthen our ministry. It doesn't repair our marriages. It doesn't help the poor or feed the hungry. It doesn't make us become more selfless. It doesn't bring us closer to God. It doesn't enable our maturity and, regardless of what most of us believe, it doesn't even keep us safe! It doesn't enrich us in anyway.

It's useless . . . unless we give it value.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Monster Under Your Bed

There's a Monster under your bed.

At least that's what I was told at the tender age of five.

My family and I were staying at my cousin's house one summer while we were on vacation. I can still remember it so clearly. My Uncle and Aunt lived in a white parsonage on the side of a hill by a little country church. I think it was in Pennsylvania, or maybe Eastern Ohio. We were visiting from out-of-state, and it was a hot, muggy week.

While the adults visited, my cousins and I played at one end of the house by the stairs going down into the basement.

I can still see the doorway and the brown wooden hand rail leading downward into the gloom, the stairs dropping off into the darkness, lit by a solitary light bulb hanging high over head. I can even smell the familiar aroma of canned vegetables and dusty jars, and remember feeling trepidation because of what the older kids were saying.

They were telling me about the Monster.

They said he lived under the stairs, and every night before we went to sleep he would slither up that hand rail and glide down the hall into our room and under our bed where he would wait for us to come . . .

He wanted a snack. And five-year-old boys are a delicacy, or so they say.

I was more than a little concerned. Yes, we had stairs at home too, but I could stay away from them indefinitely. I was really worried about my bed.

I liked it. My bed was cool and comfortable. I could lie awake at night and create imaginary worlds and scenarios, usually involving me being a cowboy with six-guns that, miraculously, never ran out of bullets and bad guys that were always caught. After my Dad or Mom tucked me in, I was good to go!

But now I had something entirely different to worry about. I was no longer safe. How was I going to get in or out of my bed now, without him grabbing me?

He was under there, and he was waiting. It was horrible.

I tried to forget about him! I pulled the covers over my head, but that didn't work. I sang songs . . . nope, still there. I was stuck.

Forget about getting up in the middle of the night to get a drink or use the restroom! No sir, that wasn't an option at all. If it did get so bad that I couldn't resist the urge to go, then I would line up on one side of my bed to run and jump off as far out of reach as possible. Then I would run back in and jump from as far out as possible to get back in. I didn't want to be grabbed and pulled under.

I took great precautions to stay away from him.

Fortunately, my Dad eventually saw my antics and informed me that there was no Monster! It didn't help much though, because I didn't really believe him. For months after that I would make him look under the bed when he tucked me in, just to make sure . . .

I'm a father now, and yes, I've had to look under the bed for my children several times! But as we grow older, we tend to lose that fear and are able to put the fable to rest in the proper place of mythology and fairy tales of children, and that's fine. We forget the terror we felt, and lock the memory away for good. I guess it's good to be able to put these things in their proper place.

But I've lately been reminded of another Monster who slithers into our lives, and waits for us.

He's hungry.

He's been here a long, long time.

And he's very real.

Revelation 12:7-9 "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

Ephesians 6:12 - "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."

I Peter 5:8 "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

He's here, he's real, and we're on the menu.

But I'm afraid we don't see the danger. In fact, I'm convinced we have placed our true Enemy in the world of myth, fable, and fairy tale. "Legend has it . . ." we say, but we don't really believe there is a Satan, a Dragon, or a Serpent.

And that's extremely dangerous, because he does believe. James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

He does everything in his power to destroy us with our own apathy. Our human condition dictates that we grasp and take advantage of everything good from our Messiah, but we scoff at the Monster. We dismiss him. He's not really that important right? After all, the war has already been won! He was defeated at Calvary! His heyday is over! Right?

Then why are we dropping like flies? Why are there wounded and bleeding warriors all around me? Why does this world look and feel like a war zone?

Because it's not over until it's over.

We call a person who denies the existence of God an atheist. What do we call a person who denies the existence of Satan?

This time, the Monster under our bed is real, but for some reason we keep pulling the covers over our head! Therefore our view of sin has changed, and so has our standard of holiness. We live a prosperity gospel in a world of opinion, fable, and fancy.

And that's when we are the most delicious.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009