What is it to you?

Earlier this week I was fortunate to be at my home church in Knoxville, a place I hold very dear in my heart and my was instrumental in my faith journey. The Senior Pastor is retiring and to hear Hollie Miller is a treasure and a delight. I am so thankful I was able to sit under his leadership while I lived there. He pointed to a Scripture in his sermon on Sunday that was something I’d forgotten about, and ultimately reminded me of where I’d been for a hot minute myself.

As much as Paul is my Bible boyfriend, Peter is who I am ultimately fashioned after. So much of my faith journey, my life journey is lived out much like Peter’s walk. Never was it truer than at Christ’s return, after Peter’s denial (multiplied by three y’all) while Christ was being taken to the cross. So it’s afterwards, they’ve been out fishing, back to the lives they knew before encountering Christ, when He appears on shore with some wise words on how they should be fishing.

Recently, someone (and by someone, one my beloved sisters in Christ Amy B.) showed a clip of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump seeing Lt. Dan on the dock as his shrimping boat is coming in, and with utter glee and joy Forrest jumps off the boat to swim to the dock to see his friend. That image is liken to how Peter reacts to seeing Christ…and then Peter slips into his old self again. Christ is giving him instruction through the question of “Do you love Me?” and Peter is adamant about that fact, multiplied again by 3. And then he turns to see John, whom Christ loved, and points to him, asking “But what about him??”

It makes me laugh…and then we see Christ’s very direct and pointed response.

“If I will that he remain til I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Not just to Peter, but to me. To you. To each one of us who is really good and going “But God, what about them??!!”

What is that to you?

Ouch. That one hurt. What is it to us what God has given, told, or blessed someone else with? But we do it. We have since before Christ, and we have since His return. But Peter is getting a lesson straight from Christ Himself here just for us. To help us out. To show us too that we are easily susceptible to the comparison trap, even when we are followers of Christ, even an original disciple.

We sling judgement, whether via social media, our friends or internally. But what is someone else’s pursuit of God’s will to us? What is driving our insecurity and our need to compare? What is telling us it’s okay to cut down someone else’s pursuit or gift so that we can pursue ours instead? Check your motives and your direction on why you’d feel the need to make any sort of judgement on how God has asked, directed, willed another to bring His Name glory.

You follow Me.

Are we following Him? Are we keeping our eyes trained solely on Him and what He has for us?

I’m speaking to myself too here, so believe me when I say this is hard to work through…but how easy is it for us to follow someone’s Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, or Facebook and think that’s what we should be doing too? How we slip into social theology rather than the Word? We can scroll and post, and never really dig into Scripture because we just don’t have the time. But yet, we make darn sure we get our workout in, our coffee chat, our three posts on social media that’s flowery and good feeling, but we aren’t doing what He’s asked of us.

Following Christ is hard. Following Christ didn’t promise ease or blessings on demand. It promised being in His will and knowing Him more. It promised goodness and joy, glory that is in Him and not ourselves.

God didn’t restore us through His Son’s death so we could concern ourselves with others’ wills. Nope. He wanted to restore us to Him so we could be in fellowship and relationship with Him, His Son, His Spirit. He wanted our full attention because He is worthy of it, and so is His will for us, individually.

May we learn from Peter, whether it is trusting Him when He calls us out onto the water, loving Him when others are questioning whether we know Him, or when the pull to look to our left and our right at others instead of Him pulls at our hearts, minds and eyes.

Busted Tails and Lame Men

Last week I busted my tail bone. Flat out busted it, purple bruise, couldn’t sit straight for days. Let me tell y’all, it was not fun in the least. Almost a week later and it’s still hard to sit directly on it. I do not recommend busting it, ever.

If you are anything like me, when you are busted up or sick you really don’t want anyone around you or to ask for help. Yo don’t want to be seen as in need. Maybe it is just me, trying to remain independent and not be seen as helpless or in need of anyone but myself.

32926-support-illness-1200.1200w.tnBut what happens when we reach out for help? When we seek healing in the form of others’ assistance? We remind ourselves that we cannot do this alone and we are a dependent being.

In Acts 3 we see Peter coming off the sermon in the temple. The same Peter who weeks before had denied knowing Christ is now the Peter preaching His salvation and our need for Him. I love that…another beautiful picture of redemption. As Peter and John go into prayers at the temple they come across a man at the gate begging for money, unable to walk and dependent upon others to carry him there and others to give money either as they entered the gates or as they left. (The man was smart about where he put himself to ask for money due to his inability to walk)

Peter and John engaged him as they walked by, they wanted him to look them in the eye. Something that he probably thought odd since at that time a disability was a way to not look at someone, to not see them as human-often how many are seen even now. He wasn’t seeking healing but was merely seeking to settle for what had been his lot in life.  But Peter and John recognized the deeper healing that was needed, the healing of his heart, a renewal of his body in the strength of Christ and not money, or men. So not in their own power or authority but fully in Christ’s they tell him to get up, and he does.

I find that in my own times of desperate need I don’t ask for what it truly is I do need because I am blinded by the tangible in front of me. I am praying about this thing when He’s pointing to the deeper root of healing. He’s sending people in His power in my path to point me to the healing I need but I often am so focused on this thing that I miss it. What if this guy had missed it with Peter and John, focusing only on obtaining money from them to exist rather than to receive full restoration for the real hurt to be healed?

What if instead of walking past those hurting we fully see a hurt that we can speak healing into through Christ’s strength and power? Instead of denying others that privilege of helping us heal we allow ourselves the ability to share about our hurts, our wounds, our lame legs and weak hearts? What if we stopped trying to hide our wounds, our hurts and we started living into full healing that comes through Christ and His people?


Devotional Link

Hi y’all…I am over on Journey On Today (a daily devotional series published by Brentwood Baptist Church) sharing about the Transfiguration on the Mount from Peter’s point of view. 

I think we are more Peter than we admit…

You can check that out here. (If you are reading this after November 30th you can still read the devotional by selecting the drop down date for today)

So What? 

You ever worry that maybe God got your plans and someone else’s mixed up? 

Maybe that He got busy with a lot of lives and plans that somehow yours was shuffled into existence in some other person’s life rather than your own? 

I struggled with that for a while, and there are days I think just maybe He flipped my life plan with another’s. Yet I was reminded that my concern is not with someone else’s life (and neither is yours with mine) but it is to be concerned with following Him. Even in that I shouldn’t be worrying over the next thing, the career plan or family plan but should be following Him with full attention. 

His will for me is sure, steadfast and promising. It flows out of Him and embodies every bit of Who He is, and not an ounce of what I think it should be. Yes, He encompasses the personality and gifts that He has given…but ultimately His will for my life is nothing short of obedience to Him. That’s it. It’s not worrying that someone else got that promotion even though they don’t attend church as much as you…or that they seem to be succeeding when you feel like it’s all turning up failures and hiccups. 

I look at Peter, our zealous brother of the Bible. I’m a lot like him some days, and even more so there at the end of John. When I feel like someone else is getting what was meant for me or is favored more than I, I point to them and say, “Hey but what about them??” This is after He’s told me what His will is for me, that He shepherds me and has guided me this entire time I say, but that’s not good enough for me. 

Christ’s response to Peter in at the end of John is the same for you and for me today, when we feel as though our concerns for His plan for others is overtaking us…”What is that to you? You follow me.” 


What if He blesses them and not me? What if they get the thing I desired in my flesh? So what if He does allow that for them? That’s exactly what He’s saying to Peter and to me. So what? I’m to follow Him, period, end of questioning, end of discussion. 

Christ has a mic drop moment with Peter, and if I’m honest, with me. When I heard those words shared by the Vice President of the company I work for, I couldn’t help but feel nudged by God too. Maybe you needed to hear them too today. That so what about them? Just follow Him. Concern yourself with following Him in what He has you in currently, where you’ve found yourself, and not so much about others and where He has them. 

Today may you say So What?  when the pokes of comparison, covetousness or jealousy attempt to sneak in. When concerns try to force their way into your life that are none of your concern, follow Him instead. Make Him the focus rather than the complaint. 

Peter’s Concerns

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”

Mark 8:31-33 (HCSB)

Growing up in the church, this story of Christ talking about His imminent death wasn’t one covered often on the flannelgraph. We’d have the mini-loaves and fishes demonstration, the healing of the blind man, but there wasn’t a discussion on this story that is a turning point in the disciples’ relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t until I was older that I read this story, and was taken aback at how Christ called Peter Satan. I mean, this guy had his issues, for sure, but he was a tad bit mistaken and Christ called him the devil?

For years I struggled with this story, three verses wedged into Mark and the rebuke of Peter. I just couldn’t grasp why Peter’s concerns over Christ’s revelation of His death would be worth such harsh language from the Messiah.

Now I get it though…I see where Christ was frustrated because the disciples were still concerning themselves with the temporary. They were honed in on human concerns, such as bread for their boat trip, than they were for the ministry Christ was revealing throughout their journey. They had been front row for the casting out of demons, the healings of many, the raising of the dead girl, and even the teachings to the multitudes.

And they just weren’t getting it.

They were anxious over food. Over losing Christ.

Yet, don’t we often do the same? Even in our utter dependence on Him, in our valleys and our mountains we concern ourselves with the temporary of this earth. We find ourselves worrying over a test, money, or our marital status, all of which are things to be concerned over in our human thinking. But Christ reminds us here that these aren’t concerns to God. They just aren’t. That’s not to cast off these are trivial or meaningless.

They are temporary. Fleeting. Momentary. Earth-bound.

Christ calls us to the eternal. Being concerned with love, compassion, mercy, justice, patience, redemption, salvation. He calls us beyond bread to Living Water. To have cares and concerns that reflect His heart and His concerns. We know He is sovereign in our temporary, but we must also be diligent to keep the eternal as the priority.

House of Stones

Since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood… (1 Peter 2:3-5 HCSB)

Of all the things to be, a stone would not be what any of us would probably choose for ourselves in imagery. Stones are rough. They are jagged, they are thrown, used as markers, kicked around, and sometimes they roll. I was thinking on this choice by Peter, impressed upon to write by God, about the believers being living stones.

He reiterates the phrase we see from the Old Testament, affirming Christ as the cornerstone. Peter, who is called by Christ, the foundation of the new church after His ascension. I wonder if Peter picked up on that theme for his life. I wonder if he had a builder’s mindset and so naturally the imagery presented itself fully through him. (I digress…and look forward to talking with him on these things in eternity)

Knowing that the Lord is good, we come to Him our cornerstone who binds together the foundation of salvation, IMG_0740laying a straight path to build upon…us living stones. Having taken geology in college I know there are various types of stones, throughout various landscapes across the globe. In order for the stones to be laid and a house to be built, they would naturally have to be shaped and molded…knowing that the various stones are all equal in size and perfectly produced to lay flat. It means that they have to go through a process of refining, sanding and smoothing. Rounded and shaped in order to fit one another, and lay upon the foundation.

That doesn’t happen without friction and it doesn’t happen to just one stone but all the various ones used to build the spiritual house. We, as living stones, know what it means to feel that friction, the tension of the builder sanding away the rough edges, filing down our outward selves in order to fulfill a purpose in building, to be a part of the framework. The builder chooses the ones rejected by others because time and care go into building with stones. It’s labor intensive, and it’s gritty. You don’t expect to be chosen and not refined in the process.

He grabs us by our rough edges that we stumble to Him with, and there are days we see evidence of the rounded corners, a smooth exterior forming after a time of forming. Other times, He chips away at an area we didn’t know was rough, in order for us to be laid wholly and completely alongside of one another in the building of a royal priesthood…a house that will stand whatever weather may come, insulating and holding fast throughout eternity. They are bound up and sealed with Someone far stronger than any binding agent.

It’s interesting to know that those masons who choose stone to build with each have a unique signature to their work. In the midst of the friction, on the days of smooth edges I wonder if the signature of Hands That Form Me are apparent.

A Yes (wo)Man

Do you ever wonder if God is testing your “yes” to something? Do you question that by saying “yes” in blind trust of His calling you out of the boat He will call you somewhere you don’t want to go?

DSCN2505I jumped into a new study of Proverbs this week to find that I am seeing some of my favorite passages in a completely different way on my life. As I was looking over Proverbs 3:5-6 (which has long been a very favorite of mine to pray) Peter came to mind. More specifically Peter and the sea, the story you may have heard or read about in Matthew’s gospel account (You can read the entire passage here).

I put those two passages side by side and then hold them up to my life. I want the confidence of trusting Him with all of my heart, giving Him my yes. However the moment the seas get rough and fear sets in I find that leaning on my own understanding is what will pull me through-not acknowledging Him and His presence there before me.

Peter had just come from the mount where they fed five thousand men (only men were counted in the account, likening the number to upwards of 20K+ present). A miracle of grand proportions orchestrated through Christ. Right in front of him and yet when those storms kicked up as he stepped foot out of the boat, he wavered. His conscious dependence upon Christ in that moment faltered because of circumstance, because of environment. Fear shouted loud and grabbed at his feet…feet that moments before had the confidence as they looked ahead with Christ calling them to “come” to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I am willing to admit I am often Peter…gung-ho in my yes for Him in the moment. The elation and excitement have me amped in His truth but then the environment shifts slightly and fear starts whispering doubt and confusion. It is not in our comfort that we find the call of fear but in the moments of obedience. When we start to wain in our trust in Him and lean on our own is when trouble abounds, fear wins and ultimately we get swallowed up…shouting much like Peter did for the Lord to save him in his own unbelief of Him.

We use Him more as a safety net in those instances, in those moments of doubt in life, rather than fully trusting Him from the moment He says “Come” until we are embraced by Him. We choose to look at where our feet are going, the distractions of life all around us, and find that our footing isn’t as steadfast as we believed…because we do believe more in ourselves when fear trips us up than in Him. The very one who has done a good thing, fulfilled a promise He made to us just the day or moment before. But how easily we forget…we chalk it up to something else or simply choose to think it was our own doing.

But when I acknowledge Him in every bit of my ways, ways that I wouldn’t have orchestrated or imagined…and frankly ways that scare me, I find He is faithful and good at directing me on the path He has me on. He doesn’t have to catch me, as He has done and will continue to do, but He is with me empowering me to walk with Him in this. So that my yes is firm, true and good. It is worshipful to say yes, it is affirming and believing. It is trusting in Him with all of my heart and not wavering in that yes, despite the ocean, the wind, the fear or the doubt.

It’s easier said (or written) than it is done, but I am seeing that my yes carries weight when it’s given to Him and rested there. It’s not snatched back and mangled by my own preoccupations or fears but simply given firmly and followed without question. After all Peter did get out and start the journey, what’s keeping me from charting the course on towards Christ in my own life?