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Archive for Failure

Jun
15

The God of Another Chance:: 3

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Peter’s interaction with Jesus on the shore of the lake brings to mind three take-aways about failure and the God of another chance. The first observation is that your failures are not final. Whatever it is you have done, its not the end, because God is not the God of a second chance, he’s the God of another chance.

The second observation is that God never wastes our failure. God is in the business of redeeming our failures and using them to become platforms upon which his grace can be displayed. Failure, when redeemed by God, can become a powerful tool to help others through their dark nights of the soul.

Finally, the 21st chapter of John’s gospel reminds me of Jesus’ fundamental assumption about humanity, and that is that people are more broken than bad. Many times we view people who have failed and are tempted to write them off because they are “bad people.” But Jesus doesn’t write us off as “bad.” He understands that we are broken, and our of that brokenness can make poor decisions, exercise bad judgment, and just plain commit sin. Because he views us through grace colored glasses he understands this about us. Even though Peter did the unthinkable and unspeakable, Jesus didn’t write him off. He gave him another chance. And that’s how He treats each of us when (not if) we fail.

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Jun
14

The God of Another Chance:: 2

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After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17, NLT)

Following breakfast on the beach, Jesus pulled Peter aside for a private conversation. During that exchange, Jesus asked Peter three direct questions. “Peter, do you love me more than these?”

…These boats and nets?
…These other disciples?
…More than these disciples love me?

Peter is understandably troubled that the Lord asked him the same basic question three times. I’m sure that the three questions would have pricked Peter’s conscience because that’s how many times he had denied Christ. All he could muster was, “Lord, you know…”

After Peter got the point, Jesus gave Peter a quick glance into his future. “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” So the rumor spread among the community of believersg that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:18-22, NLT)

In so many words Jesus told Peter two important things. First, Jesus is basically challenging Peter by saying, “Follow me…this time follow through.” Second, “Follow me, as though you’re the only one.” These are important things that Peter needed to hear and they’re not bad things for us to remember when we come to the realization that we need to begin again. Tomorrow I’ll finish this series with three take-aways that will guide us when we need another chance.

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Jun
13

The God of Another Chance

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Have you ever blown it? Peter had. He was a big talker who promised to lay down his life in defense of the Lord. But when it came down to crunch time he choked. He denied Christ not once but three times. And he didn’t stutter when he did it, either. Have you ever blown it so big that you thought you were beyond a second chance? If so, the sixth post resurrection saying of Christ is for you. First, let me set the stage from John 21:1-3:

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

Peter returned to fishing, but not as a recreational get away. The Greek construction of the sentence indicates that Peter was returning to fishing as his vocation. He went back to his roots and his comfort zone. Even though he had seen the risen Lord on two occasions, he (perhaps) assumed that the entire discipleship experience was over. How could the Lord ever use him? But check out what happened next.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yardsd from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead (John 21:4-14, NLT).

I think its important to note that Jesus pursued Peter. That’s where the Lord had found him to begin with. Just a few years earlier, Jesus called to Peter and invited him to leave his career and his capital assets for the opportunity to serve as one of his apprentices (cf. Luke 5:1-11). Peter had given up on himself, but Jesus had not. He was (and continues to be) in relentless pursuit of quitters and giver uppers.

When Peter identified the Lord on the shore, the story reports that he put on his coat and jumped in the water. That’s a strange and often unmentioned part of the plot. Why did Peter put his coat on? Even mediocre swimmers know that you don’t put more clothes on before you jump into the middle of a lake! What is that all about? I wonder if rather than trying to swim to Jesus Peter thought he could walk on water to Jesus. I wonder if Peter was trying to prove his worth and worthiness to Christ, as if he could to some degree atone for his denial. To be honest, there’s no way of knowing if this is what happened, although it is strange that an experienced man of the water would put on a coat before jumping into the lake.

The point I would suggest is that sometimes when we fail and fail miserably we feel the need to prove ourselves, as though we are able to establish our own worthiness or even make up for our miscues. It doesn’t work that way. Jesus pursued Peter, but not to make him jump through hoops as if he were pledging a fraternity. He simply went to Peter because he loved him, and was willing to accept him as he was, denials included.

Tomorrow I’ll post a couple of more thoughts about The God of Another Chance. Thanks for visiting today!

Categories : Discipleship, Failure
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