Peter

Next Level Spirituality

I hear lots of talk about going to the next level in a variety of contexts, such as: exercise, cooking techniques, snowboarding proficiency, work commitments, teenage adventures, etc.  It seems to me that when people use this terminology, it’s to emphasize an improvement,  increase intensity or make something more extreme.

So what could going to the next level look like with spirituality?  Maybe “next level spirituality” first requires an honest assessment of our current level.  Who am I now?  What are my present comfort zones?  What do I naturally gravitate to?  It’s hard to go to the next level if we don’t even know what our current level is.

This makes me think about the first time Jesus met Peter, in Luke 5, when Peter was mending his net after a discouraging night of fruitless fishing.  While Peter was net mending, Jesus borrowed Peter’s boat & preached to a big crowd.  When Jesus finished, He told Peter to put his boat out to catch fish, which Peter did & caught a boatload of fish!!  I think Peter recognized a stark contrast between Jesus’ teaching & his own spirituality because of how he replied to Jesus after the miracle catch of fish.  Peter said to Jesus, “Away from me, for I’m a sinful man.”  And I love that Jesus invited Peter to the next level of spirituality, by answering, “Follow Me & I’ll make you a fisher of men!”

Peter responded to Jesus’ invitation by dropping his net, leaving his boat & following Jesus for almost three years.  I’d venture to say that Peter’s spirituality went into hyper-drive, getting to spend 24/7 with Jesus for these years.  In Peter’s next level spirituality, he had some incredible experiences like walking on water, distributing miracle provision bread & fish, seeing innumerable healings, along with some resurrections and heaps more.  At the same time, Peter’s next level spirituality also included some defeats, such as arguing with Jesus about denying Him, sinking into the water when he was distracted by the winds & waves, falling asleep in Gethsemane when Jesus most needed him, along with cutting of a servants ear when Jesus was arrested.

But I would suggest that the best way we can evaluate our spirituality and go to the next level is seen in Jesus’ conversation with Peter, in John 21, after His resurrection.  This conversation happened within a few days of Peter vehemently denying Jesus, Peter failing to keep watch with Jesus in Gethsemane because of being sleepy & after he cut off somebody’s ear.  Shortly after these failures, Jesus shows up on the shore of Galiee.  When Peter knows it’s Jesus, he  throws himself into this sea, so he can swim to Jesus, who is waiting on the shore with a toasty fire, fresh cooked fish and bread, a ready breakfast for hungry fishermen.  The subsequent  conversation that occurred between Jesus & Peter was all about genuine love.  And in my thinking, the highest level of spirituality is rooted in living genuine love.  I say this because of Jesus’ words in John 13:35, “People will know that you follow Me by your love for one another.”

Let’s be careful to appreciate that miracles are cool, character is vital, but genuine love is essential for next level spirituality.

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Posted by sarahbowling in fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Not Me!!

“I’ll never deny You!”  These are the words Peter used to argue with Jesus about denying Him. Jesus answered by letting peter know that in less than 12 hours Peter would deny Jesus & in Luke 22, Jesus adds some instructional content for Peter after his denial fiasco.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation between Jesus & Peter for a few days now because it demonstrates our ability to deceive ourselves even in God’s presence. Whether we acknowledge or ignore it, we willingly & even joyfully think we are something we are not, or we don’t think we are something when we really are.

Jesus knows this about us & doesn’t withdraw His love nor relationship with us, as we see in His words to Peter.

Let’s take pause & consider that Jesus us knows us better than we know ourselves & that’s an essential demonstration of His genuine love for us!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Need Hope?

Here’s a short video to give hope – feel free to share with your friends!

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, YouTube, 0 comments

Disagreeing with Jesus

I’m deeply in love with Jesus, full stop. There are times, however, that I’m not so whippy on some of the things Jesus says & does. This used to rankle me, until I started thinking about Peter. One day in my prayer time, the Holy Spirit walked me through the various times & ways that Peter disagreed with Jesus: 

  • At the very beginning when he told Jesus to leave him because he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8, after Jesus used Peter’s boat to preach a sermon to a crowd along the lakeshore). 
  • A little later, even though Peter walked on the water to Jesus in Matt 14:30-31, Jesus reprimanded Peter for his doubt from watching the winds & waves & sinking into the water. 
  • In Matt 16:22, Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His upcoming death. This seems pretty audacious to me, considering that Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Christ / Messiah. 
  • Peter again argues with Jesus on the whole betrayal thing at the last supper in Matt 26:33-35. 
  • Peter disagrees with God with the heavenly vision in Acts 10:11-19 about eating unclean animals & preaching Jesus to the Gentiles. 

Seems to me that it doesn’t make Jesus bite His nails when we disagree with Him, but let’s be abundantly clear that no matter what our opinion may be, Jesus has the final say, full stop. So let’s keep loving Jesus, even when we disagree with Him, from time to time 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, missions, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

The Path to Pentecost: Failure

Regardless of our best intentions, all of us fail.  The most encouraging example for me with failure is when I think about Jesus’ disciple, Peter.  I think he majorly failed when he betrayed Jesus & it seems to me that he was more than disappointed with himself with this failure (Luke 22:61-62).

In sharp contrast to Peter’s failure with betraying Jesus, a little more than six weeks after this downfall, Peter is the lead promoter to stand in front of thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost to be Jesus’ lead frontman.  This is quite the reversal in Peter’s life and this encourages us that

no failure that we’ve experienced can exceed Jesus’ power to redeem.

 So rather than hide or run from our failures, let’s sit at Jesus’ feet, be transparent and vulnerable, and yield to the Holy Spirit pouring love into our hearts (Rom 5:5), for redeeming each shortfall to lift up Jesus better than we could without that failure 🙂

Dont’ forget to grab your copy of Heavenly Help & be sure to write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles & Goodreads!

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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, Pentecost, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Success Secret Sauce

  
This is a page of my handwriting, which is possibly the most illegible you’ll ever see in your entire life. But I keep writing – not to make my handwriting better (that might be hopeless) but for a different reason, maybe a little bit like Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples.

Consider that Peter was one of the crowning examples of success on the Day of Pentecost when he stood up to share about Jesus to a massive crowd of curious Jews. From Peter’s message, 3,000 became followers of Jesus & the Christian church was birthed with the power of the Holy Spirit. But if one looks into Peter’s years preceding Pentecost, I wouldn’t really throw him in the “successful category.” From my perspective, he was kind of a loose lipped, impulsive wannabe, not unlike me from time to time. 
But here’s an essential ingredient for the success secret sauce: practice. 

Peter kept practicing even though he had frequent failures, shortfalls & general stupidity. But he kept practicing. Even when Jesus corrected Peter, he didn’t quit practicing. Sometimes Peter got it right, “Jesus, you’re the Son Of God.” Sometimes he needed to keep practicing, like when he tried to forbid Jesus from dying for the sins of the world, whoops. 

Rather than framing our mistakes in the failure or quitting filter, let’s keep the practice mindset & know that the more we practice the more we grow & the better people we become. What are some areas in your life that need more practice?

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, values, watch, 1 comment

lessons for walking on water

I love the story about how Peter walked on the water to Jesus, nevermind that he almost sank because Peter walked on water, unaided, more than any human in all history.  Eleven of Jesus’ followers stayed in the boat at the same time that Peter walked on the water in the middle of a storm.  Here are a few things to consider about walking on water:

  • in order to get out of the boat, Peter needed his fellow disciples to hold the boat steady – let’s hold the boat for the people in our lives who are trying to do the impossible (rather than taking cheap shots & shouting out disparaging & discouraging remarks from the sidelines).
  • keep Jesus front & center: life has enough waves, winds, storms, setbacks & discouragements to make us sink & even tell us not to try & walk on the water;  stay on target
  • if you want to walk with Jesus, being as close as possible, sometimes you have to get out of the boat (what’s known, safe, familiar & comfortable);  do what you’ve never done to get what you’ve never had
  • walking is something very common & mundane;  walking on water is miraculous, combining the mundane with the miraculous is exactly Who Jesus is – the incarnate God;  consider that at some point in your walk with God, you’ll have to get out of the boat & take a stroll ,)
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Posted by sarahbowling in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, India, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, values, watch, 0 comments