Sunday, January 20, 2013

Risk Management

It was twenty below on many thermometers around the region. That did not stop Pastor Shannon from greeting us warmly. "Good morning. How are you? I’m grateful you’re here. I’m going to talk today about risk management. We’ll be looking at the story of Peter when he stepped out of the boat. Do we have the faith to step out?"

1. Brad then drew attention to our bulletin insert. We’re trying to compile as broad of an email list as we can. Also, there is an insert about a Church Assessment Tool…. Go online beginning Friday, January 25, and tell us about your experiences in and priorities for our church. For those without internet access, we will be setting up an Internet CafĂ© here at the church for the next three Sundays. All answers will be strictly confidential. Paper copies of the survey will be available in the church office. This is an assessment of how you feel about the ministry and activities of our church. Last day to complete the survey will be February 10.

Please don’t talk to others about what your thoughts and feelings are. We’d ilke you to not skew the results by unintentionally influencing others. We need to know where we’re at and how we can improve. Holy Cow Consulting will interpret our results and give us feedback on your feedback.

2. Men: Next Saturday will be our second annual trip to Cabela’s. Please let Brad know if you are interested so we can schedule vehicles.

3. Women’s group met yesterday and we’re going to do our Secret Sister exchange again, among other things.

The intro to worship by Darlene was a medley interweaving Open Our Eyes Lord and Be Thou My Vision. After the tithes and offerings we listened to the reading of John 2:1-11. Prayer needs were shared, and lifted up. Before the sermon Brad and Darlene sang a song called Blessing.

 I don’t think Jesus’ highest priority in life is our safety and comfort.

Brad began with a story of a pastor who got a hot air balloon ride for his wife as an anniversary present. He was thrilled, excited, but one more emotion he did not expect was fear. We had placed our lives on the competence and character of the pilot. He asked the man how he got into flying hot air balloons. “Well, dude, it’s like this…” The guy was an unemployed surfer who wasn’t sure he could land the balloon because he’d never been in this kind before.

Can we trust our pilot? Most people put their faith in faith, not in the pilot. We “try” to believe….

But faith is intimately related to risk… and the story for the sermon today comes from Matthew 14. Jesus comes walking on the water to the disciples who were in a boat, struggling to keep it afloat in the midst of a middle of the night storm. These were professional sailors who had a hard time in this night journey across a turbulent lake.

Jesus comes walking to them on the water and the disciples are afraid that it's a ghost. Peter exclaims, "LOrd' if it's You, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus says, "Come," and Peter gets out of the boat… and falls. Did Peter fail?

All of us as Christ-followers are would-be water walkers. The boat is safe, the night is dark, the storm is raging… It’s called the culture we live in. If we get out of the boat, there’s a chance that you might sink. You might fail. Yet something within us calls us to leave the routine, the comfortable, to abandon ourselves to something greater.

Jesus says, “Have no fear. You can trust my character. You can place your life in My hands. Who is more powerful, the storm or Me?”

Peter says, “O.K. tell me where to go.”

And for a moment, Peter is actually walking on water. But suddenly, Peter realizes what he’s doing and loses heart.

There are many stories of famous failures. Jonas Salk failed 200 times at trying to make a vaccine for polio. “My family taught me not to use that word (Fail). I discovered 200 ways how not to make a polio vaccine.”

When Winston Churchill was held back a year in school he was later asked about this failure to pass a grade. He replied, “I didn’t fail. I was given a second chance to get it right.”

Did Peter fail? He sank. But he experienced something the other eleven did not. He momentarily walked on water, and learned something about Jesus that the others did not. A true disciple of Christ says, “It is my ultimate goal in life to live the way Jesus would live if He were in my body.”

Brad then shared the power of taking risks by telling the story of Rosa Parks, a seamstress who on December 1, 1955 refused to go to the back of a bus because a white person needed the seat, one of the most courageous acts in the twentieth century. The next Monday evening 10,000 followers of Christ met at the church to pray and ask God what to do next. This choise led to a revolution that was not easy, but it helped change the conscience of the nation.

I do not know if we can follow Christ without having a re-occurring encounter with fear. When called to get out of the boat we are asked only to take the next step. This was not the last time Peter experienced fear.

Every time you try something new, you will experience fear. Being a disciple means choosing fear and potential failure, embracing risk.

We are not called to be couch potatoes. The eleven other disciples were boat potatoes. Too many Christians are pew potatoes.

Stepping out to come here to New Life Covenant Church was, for Brad, a risky thing. His big fear was this: “What if I fail in front of everyone here?”

Peter stepped out of the boat. When he began to sink, Peter cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus is always adequate to save sinking people.

Interestingly, Peter’s courage, even though he failed, led the other disciples to worship the Lord. Other people see it when we step out.

Brad closed with a story of a man named Bob who stepped out of his own virtual boat and began praying for this African country, and the amazing consequences that followed.

If you get out of the boat, sometimes you will fail, but sometimes you will walk on water.

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