Monday, August 31, 2009

The Slippery Slope

A recent survey of 1,871 self-described Christians in the United States produced shocking results. Just the title of the article that reports on this is shocking: “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist.”

As an example of the ground being lost in the Truth War, 40% of these so-called Christians strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but only a symbol of evil.” Another 19% of them said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians disagreed. Twenty-six percent (26%) disagreed strongly, and 9% disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were unsure what they believed about the reality or symbolism of Satan.

The same survey revealed that tens of millions of so-called Christians do not even accept the core teaching of the deity and perfection of Jesus Christ. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat! Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter!

But, beloved, these folks were entertained. Their ears were tickled. They no doubt sat in churches who would not confront issues with Bible truth. They got warm fuzzy feelings about the stories they heard and the dramas that were presented in place of expository teaching. Their churches may have said the Bible was their “only rule for faith and practice,” but they only gave lip service to that creed in their rush to entertain, meet “felt needs,” and gain popularity.


So what are we to do? How are we to survive this onslaught of apostasy? For the preacher, follow Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5: "BUT YOU, BE SOBER IN ALL THINGS, ENDURE HARDSHIP, DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST, FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY." For the parishioner, endure sound doctrine. "Make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding" (Proverbs 2:2). If you do, the Word of God will do its work in those who believe and we will win the Truth War. We will endure to the end.

Oh, the end. It will soon be worth it all!!

Pastor Paul Guay

Friday, August 28, 2009

If Wishes Were Fishes

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Psalm 145:10

I recently helped celebrate my second granddaughter’s birthday with a large group of family and friends. Analiese Marlene had reached the milestone of eleven years, a pinnacle in her eyes. The party consisted of the usual faire: balloons, poppers, gifts and her favorite desert, cheesecake with raspberry topping. And as is the custom, eleven candles adorned the top of the cake, their little flickering flames adding to the glow that spread across her beautiful face. As she prepared to blow out the candles, without thinking, I quickly said, “Make a wish!” She closed her eyes, paused a few seconds, and then blew them out with a single breath. Small wisps of smoke rose from the extinguished candles as we applauded and called out our congratulations and hope for many more years to come.

This time-worn tradition of wishing on candles made me pause and reflect how, as children, we believed that expressing ourselves this way would bring us something we desired. If we were fortunate to see the night sky’s first star, we would recite, “Star light, star bright; first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight!” We believed if we found a penny and put it in our shoe it would bring us good luck. Fingers were crossed in fervid anticipation of the possibility of things to come. And the grass in the yard was scoured for that rare and lucky four-leafed clover.

The title to this piece was dug out of my dusty and cluttered memory. Where I heard it, I can not say, but I just discovered the quote comes from a child's book entitled "Twice Upon a Times" by Rose Impey. What I want to believe is the conclusion to this quote sticks in my mind as clearly as if I had just learned it. “If wishes were fishes, we would all swim the sea!” I have often thought it should say “fish the sea”, and perhaps it did. But whatever is the correct quote, either word implies that to wish upon anything gains us nothing. Wishing on objects is merely foolish superstition created to appease the desire of a child. If wishes were indeed "fishes", the majority of our time would be spent on the water bobbing a pole or dipping a net to see if we could catch the wished for desire. Considering the vastness of the sea, the chances of that happening would be pretty slim and we could just as easily hook a more undesirable fish. Although we innocently continue to hand down these ancient traditions, we would be better served to remember the One from whom all desires and longings are derived.

Jesus Christ taught the Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt 6:8) and that “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor” (2Cor 9:9). The Lord has poured out His Holy Spirit upon this earth and bestowed upon all mankind a “free” (Rev 22:17) and “perfect” gift (James 1:17) - eternal life (Rom 6:23). There is no need to wish for the gift. God has already made it available to anyone who asks (Matt 7:7-11). No wishing upon candles, stars, clovers, or anxiously crossing fingers is required. All you have to do is reach out and take it from His extended hand.

So, if I may use this venue to do so, I would like to rephrase my birthday wish for Ani:

Happy birthday, Goose! I pray as you closed your eyes and made your wish, the wisps of smoke were a fragrant incense to the Lord, that you seek after His perfect gifts, and that He gives you the desires of your heart!

I love you!


Recommended reading:

Ps 37:4; 103:5
Rom 8:5; 13:14
1Cor 12:31
Gal 5:16
Eph 4:22
Col 3:5
1Tim 6:9
2Tim 2:22
1Pt 2:11
2Pt 1:4
1Jn 2:17

Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding The End Of Yourself

“I indeed was this and that; but He came, and a marvelous thing happened.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

August 22

There are few discoveries in the beginning of a child’s life that are more wonderful and exciting than realizing his attributes, talents, and developing a personality. From the beginning we apply these things to our emotional growth, creating a persona of whom and what we are. Indeed, our environment plays a critical role in the health of our development, how we are raised and with what degree guidance and nurturing are applied. But once we reach a certain point in our maturity, the outcome ultimately is of our own choosing and our lives are built upon a foundation we begin to lay.

In the beginning of our new-found independence, we rush out into the world, convinced we are capable of tackling all of life’s inconsistencies and problems. Although we may not do so deliberately, we build our lives upon material desires and gain. We begin relationships that are intended to last a lifetime and start families. The burdens of debt and responsibilities begin to pile upon us, but we maintain that this is an essential part of succeeding in life and proudly wear them as badges of honor. However, when trouble comes, the majority of us rarely learn from the hard lesson. Instead we continue to repeat the mistake. Our solution for trials is to either run from and abandon them, or dig a deeper hole that eventually buries us. We are seeing this more and more in today’s economical climate.

If you are someone who has fallen into this pit, you may wonder if there is an end to it, a bottom, so to speak. You frantically assume all of the weight and try to claw your way out. You think if you can just keeping running you will ultimately reach the end of your troubles and at last be able to breathe. But it is not until you reach the end of yourself that life actually begins and as a newborn babe, take your first breath. The foundation you laid may have crumbled into the sand, but once you have reached the end of yourself and placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the foundation you rebuild will stand on solid rock for all of eternity.

Whether you are like the person described above or a Christian bent on dictating to God when and how you will serve Him, the end is where you will find the beginning. It is only at the end of your self-serving nature that you will find new meaning and direction. Begin there. Cast away all the bulwarks of self that you have built and allow Jesus Christ to lead you. When you do, that is where your life will truly begin.

Recommended reading:

Matthew 3:11; 5-7

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kieran's Mystery Flower

For Mother's Day, my then 5-yr old grandson, Kieran, gave me a little clay pot full of dirt and told me within it there was a flower.  We waited with anticipation for something to grow and when it did, we all wondered what it might be.  Was it a daffodil, a tulip, an Iris?  It struggled in the confined space and didn't appear to be progressing beyond a few slender stalks.  I knew it needed help!

I had a large empty pot that I planted the small mound of dirt holding the foot-long stalks into and added a primrose that managed to survive after bloom for company.  And we continued to wait, all the while pondering what the mystery plant could be.

Almost a full summer went by before it revealed its beauty to us.  My suspicions were correct as it grew into an almost 4-ft tall Gladioli.  I propped it up next to a small bench holding other pots of flowers to keep the stalk from snapping off and waited for it to bloom.

 Our patience and diligent care paid off as we watched the row of buds open into a radiant, sunny, and perfect yellow.  It was all the more perfect  because it came from the heart of my grandson and his love for me.

Because Gladioli must be dug up and kept in storage over the winter or they will perish, I will honor its struggle by trying to preserve it for next year.  Like the love Kieran expressed for me with this simple gift, I will replant it and let it speak of God's eternal beauty and His everlasting love He has so graciously planted in my heart.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How To Find A Good Church

Beyond the obvious things like friendliness, location and opportunities for you to minister your spiritual gifts, there are some core issues which will help you avoid rocky shoals and steer you to safe harbors. If these were my opinions I would not speak them. I am not qualified to counsel on Church hunting. But the Word of God lays down some critically important criteria to guide our quest.

Paul, if he was the author of Hebrews, chided his Jewish readers because they should long-since have outgrown the pabulum stage.

In Hebrews 5:10-14, he mourned the fact that he could not delve into deeper things because of their immaturity in the Word
…and then without hesitation or Hebrews 6:1-9 , Paul immediately launched into some of the deepest waters of Scripture with his warning against apostasy and the impossibility of renewing such folks to repentance. To this day, theologians wrangle over what he meant by that.

Here’s the point: Paul urged the less mature to step up and then he taught them that which they most needed to grow. He did NOT tone down his message to suit their immature appetites; he taught them the wisdom of the ages.

Put another way, Admiral Paul did not set the speed of the early-Church convoy to its slowest ship; that would have spelled vulnerability to the enemy’s torpedoes and disaster for the whole convoy. Paul maintained the speed of the aircraft carriers and finished his course successfully.
Paul was a man on a mission; he had an assignment and carried it out. You can read his job description in his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-32. It included things like risking his own life for the sake of fulfilling his assignment (24), teaching them daily from house to house (20), and declaring to them the whole counsel of God (27). There was no partial, toned-down lesson material for Paul and his disciples. The whole counsel of God was his only curriculum. He was a meat and potatoes kind of guy!! THAT was Paul's recommended diet. So, as you search for the Church God would have you identify and worship with, these things will assure your continued joy and happiness. As eternity is infinitely greater than time, the priority of the Word preached and taught supersedes pleasant surroundings, appealing music or entertaining drama. In the exercise of His will, God brought us forth by that Word of Truth, not by music, drama or any accouterments (James 1:18).

Would you like to be blessed in what you do, in this case, your choice of a Church? Your blessing will involve three things that each amounts to hard work.

It Demands Intensity (James 1:25)

According to James, the blessing is reserved for those who look intently into the perfect Law, the Law of liberty, and abide in it, not having become forgetful hearers. God designs to bless you through your Church and to bless the Church as you exercise your spiritual gifts. He does not keep it a secret how you receive this blessing. James has given the great KEY to experiencing that: Look intently into the Word of God and abide in it. Don’t be a forgetful hearer. Don’t be a superficial looker. Intensity is required.

It Requires Diligence (Hebrews 11:6)

According to the writer of Hebrews, it is impossible to please God without faith. The one who comes to God must also believe that He rewards those who diligently (KJV) seek Him. This echoes James' promise that these—not the forgetful hearer, not the superficial hearers—shall be blessed in what they do. Diligence is required.

It Calls For Endurance (2 Timothy 4:3)

And finally, Paul warned Timothy that a day would come when men would no longer endure sound doctrine, but would seek toned-down, dumbed-down messages to scratch itching ears. By the way, my friend, that day is here! Across America and around the world men no longer have stomachs for enduring sound doctrine; consequently they will die of malnutrition. Avoid such churches like the plague that they are! Endurance is required.

It won’t take long to determine the preeminence of the Word or the lack of it at a given Church. Jesus reiterated the truth that man cannot live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Does the teaching of the Church reflect that priority? Or is it marked by its brevity, story-telling or entertainment? Is it overshadowed by the strength of personality?

Look for a Church that teaches every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God verse-by-verse. Look for these things in a Church: intensity in the preached Word, diligence in the preparation, and enduring, faithful consistency in expository preaching both from the pulpit and in the classrooms.

Finally—and perhaps most importantly: Pray. It is the delight of the Good Shepherd to lead you into green pastures (Psalm 23). May you hear your Shepherd’s voice and follow Him into those pastures and enjoy the banquet He has prepared for you! May God bless you in your search.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Peace Be Upon Israel

“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:7

Bring Your peace, Lord,
Your perfect peace, Almighty God.
Bring Your peace to the nation that cries out for You.
Their enemies are on every side;
they lie in wait at the gate of Your Holy City.
They come to tear down and destroy what Your hand has made; to devour the children of Your covenant.

All day long, Your people look to other ways;
the peace they long for they cannot find
among the schemes and devices of man.
What is built by their hands is torn down in a moment;
their plans are thwarted by the hatred in their enemy’s hearts who covet the land You gave Abraham, and to his seed forevermore.
But You, Oh God, are mighty and Your arm is strong.

The sword that You wield is honed with Your Truth;
You will cut down the wicked and reap what is Yours.
Like a man who reaps and gathers the sheaves of his labor, You will gather Your children and carry them to safety.
In Your arms, You will bear them;
by Your strength, You will protect them.

Who will be able to say on the day You have ordained,
“Where is your God to protect you now?
We have come to take what is ours. He cannot save you.”?
Their hearts will melt like wax; their strength shall fail them when they see You whom they have forsaken.
With the breath of Your mouth and the power of Your Word, You will lay waste those who lie in wait outside the city gate, and they shall be no more.

Rejoice, Oh Israel! Make your hearts glad!
For your God remembers you and the promise He has made.
The Holy One of Israel has gone before you;
by His hand He has defeated the enemy that surrounds you.
He has come to reclaim His throne, His rightful inheritance
in the city of Jerusalem where His sacrifice was made,
and to establish His reign upon the earth.

Peace be upon you, Oh Israel; peace forevermore.
Worship and praise the God of salvation;
bring gifts and bow down before His royal throne.
Give thanks to your God who has delivered you
from the hands of your enemy, for His sake and glory,
for Jehovah will reign forever.

By His hand, peace will be over all the earth, both now and forevermore.


Copyright 2006 Karen L. Brahs

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Looking For Elijah

When we first see our need for Jesus Christ, very often God places before us a mentor to gently guide us in our spiritual growth. Because we are like newborn infants, it is essential that we have someone who can feed us the “milk” of God’s Word (1Corinthians 3:1-2). In the beginning of our new life we are not ready for the solid food of God’s Truths because of our immaturity and the danger of being misled. Thus, like an infant we begin our new birth by craving “pure spiritual milk” that is fed us by spiritually mature men and women whose God-given strengths can help us grow (1Peter2:2)

There comes a time when we must take our first step of faith away from our “Elijah”. The inclination is like that of a toddler who bravely wanders a short distance from his mother, but always keeps her in his sight. If he needs her, he knows she is only a few steps away. Elisha felt this discomfort while being reminded by Elijah’s students that his master would be taken away by God (2Kings 2:3). Elisha stubbornly refused to leave Elijah’s side and followed him to the Jordan (v7). But it was not God’s intention that Elijah be Elisha’s guide forever and like the toddler who grows into maturity, it was time to be separated to further God’s plans.

Our first reaction would be to frantically search for the one upon whom we leaned so heavily. We are apt to say, “I cannot go on without Elijah. I am too weak and afraid.” But God says we must. Elisha suddenly found himself alone on the other side of the Jordan. He obviously grieved because he “took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart” (v12). But because God had granted Elisha his request for a “double portion” of Elijah’s “spirit” (v9; Deuteronomy 21:17), his strength was renewed and his commission fulfilled.

When we reach the banks of our Jordan where separation is essential to service and work for the Lord, we must no longer look for our Elijah. Rather we should cross back over and rely on God to lead us in the direction He desires (v13-14). Like Elisha who was chosen by God to follow after Elijah, we have been commissioned by Christ to give His Gospel to a starving world (Matthew 28:16-20). If we continue to hang onto the apron strings of our Elijah, the lost would remain so and we would never mature beyond the point of an infant who survives solely on milk to sustain him. We should crave solid food and desire the “double portion” God granted Elisha and apply it in faithful service to God.

Who knows? Perhaps someday you, too, will become an Elijah to a newborn infant who will then accept the "mantle" of service and bring further glory to the Lord.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Although it is in our nature to do so, we should never sympathize with those who find themselves in trouble that they, themselves, have created. Sympathy can fuel resentment for those conditions, and possibly God’s discipline. We get in God’s way when we react with sympathy for it is not up to us to decide how He chooses to discipline His children. We are apt to hinder Him when we intervene and attempt to alleviate a Saint’s discomfort. By doing so, the Saint who is suffering often feels God is being unfair and unjust, and sympathy can feed these unhealthy emotions when we apply it. My daughter-in-law, Rachel, summed it up nicely: “[Disobedient Saints] are like children who ask for a cookie. When they are told ‘no’, they come back again and continue to ask for a cookie!”

There are times when God has a Saint right where He wants him to teach him an important lesson. It is most always by the Saint’s own making or choosing that he finds himself in these positions. And the Lord will often allow him to sink to the very depths of despair in order to instruct him on a particular point he refuses to address. But as long as the Saint stubbornly rejects God’s guidance, God will continue to allow him to wallow in discomfort. Because of their continued disobedience, God told the Israelites, “I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished” (Jeremiah 46:28). The Lord punishes His children to draw them back to Himself and to correct and purify them. He disciplines us with the purest form of justice because He loves us and wants our total obedience and allegiance, not merely a part of it.

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” were Christ’s words to the Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:19). They were “lukewarm” towards God (v16). The doors to their hearts were only half open to Him, preventing them from the full benefit of fellowship with their Savior. They had placed their earthly “wealth” and riches above their devotion to God instead of acknowledging they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (v17). Jesus didn't sympathize with them for their disobedience. His words of discipline were a warning to turn from their indifference or suffer His just wrath.

Jesus never sought sympathy from men. He came to complete His work on the cross of Calvary and He knew self-pity was the work of Satan (Matthew 16:23; Luke 3:1-10). Nor should the Saint expect or accept pity from others when they find themselves in turbulence of their own making. It is commendable to feel compassion and empathy for the suffering of others - Jesus Christ was the greatest example of this - but never sympathy. It causes us to want to step in and fix whatever the problem may be and if we mistakenly play the amateur “fixer”, the troubled Saint may miss a vital lesson the Lord is attempting to teach him and continue to repeat his mistakes.

It is never wrong to offer a hand up, to help others get their feet back under them. But we must always step back when it is necessary and allow God’s discipline in the lives of others. He will decide when it is time for the cookie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In My Father's Arms

For Kieran Reed Brahs, who reminded me how often God holds us in His arms.

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1

A stern word of rebuke to a two-year old very often inflicts a multitude of emotions in a grandmother’s heart. After all, we are constantly telling ourselves our grandchildren can do no wrong, and we shower them with far more doting affection than we ever did their parents. My father once said to my mother while gazing upon their first grandson, “There we are!” He saw within the newborn child a part of himself; a continuance, if you will, of his legacy here on earth. Our grandchildren are a precious gift, one that says if we didn’t get it right the first time, we most certainly will with this second chance so graciously given by God.

The day Kieran Reed received the rebuke was a typical day. He had walked the short distance from his house, as usual unbeknownst to his mother. It was a common ritual to visit Granny over a cup of sweetened tea heavily laden with milk. But on that particular day, I was attempting to conduct business over the phone and found him tugging at my pant leg and muttering some unintelligible words over and over again. Struggling to hear the gentleman at the other end, I gave Kieran “the look” and waved a shushing hand over the top of his head. He immediately retreated a few steps away, his face falling in dismay as I finally concluded my business and hung up the phone.

“Kieran,” I admonished. “Granny was trying to talk to that man!”

Now, if you’re a grandparent, you will understand the rush of emotion that washed over me the moment his tear-filled eyes looked up to mine. “Me wanted to talk to that man,” he innocently muttered.

At first, I laughed over the idea of putting a two-year old on the phone with someone I didn’t even know, the absurdity of it tickling me. But as I looked at my grandson and saw that his feelings had genuinely been hurt over the apparent slight, I scooped him into my arms and placed him in my lap. With his small arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and his soft downy cheek laid against mine, he rocked us back and forth as he poured out his disappointment into my ear. The brief interlude of love and compassion being exchanged soon ended with a giggling and once-again happy and content little boy. But, my heart lingered in that moment, and lingers there still.

A flood of memories swept over me that day, of times when my own “feelings” were hurt. There have been many times of standing as if all alone with no arms to run into and pour out my sorrows, and of retreating to a corner of my self in despair. But then, as I look up with tear-filled eyes, a hand reaches out to wipe them from my face, and strong and able arms enfold me in a warm and loving embrace. As I did with my grandson, God also does with us. When we feel that we are alone with no one to understand, He takes us in His arms, and laying His cheek against ours, gently rocks us back and forth while we pour out our despair into His attentive ear. His love and compassion are without depth and height, and His desire for His children to bring their troubles to Him has no boundaries. His soothing voice and comforting words calm our troubled hearts and minds as He consoles us and returns us to peace.

As my grandson was content in my rocking embrace, I, too, am content in my Father’s arms when I am there. It’s a brief glimpse and a small taste of what’s to come.

If you don’t mind, Lord, I’ll linger here for just another moment or two.

Copyright 2006 Karen L. Brahs

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No More To Part

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”
Isaiah 55:6-7

There’s a song that’s sung in heaven,
A sweet, melodic refrain;
From the lips of all creation,
And the tongues of those who confess,
That our Lord, our God, our Saviour,
Has granted eternal rest.

Come ye lost, despairing and broken,
Downtrodden and weary souls;
Lift your voices, join the chorus,
For your Lord will make you whole.

And with the Saints and angels,
Whose voices ring pure and clear;
Sing adoration, praise and worship,
For the Lord your Redeemer is near.

Bow down before His royal throne;
Accept the Grace He gives.
Embrace the proffered gift of love,
For he who does so lives.

Come one, come all into His presence,
Into His glorious light;
Receive the gift of pardon
And your eyes the gift of sight.

And then upon your lips He’ll place
The song that’s in His heart.
You’ll join the chorus and their sweet refrain,
“No more, no more to part.”

Copyright 2006 Karen L. Brahs

Monday, August 3, 2009

Walking The Sea

From my childhood, I have loved music. And I come by it honestly. What I mean by this is that both sides of my ancestral family were blessed with voices, ears, and abilities when it came to expressing themselves with music and song. A box of memories was found which are filled with photos of my father’s unnamed relatives; barefoot and suspendered in the woods of Oklahoma, holding their favored instruments. My mother’s family gatherings more than often ended with all of us assembled around a piano singing Irish ditties and old tunes. Guitars were brought out at BBQ’s and music would swirl around a campfire. But, one of my fondest memories of music was the old hymns that were sung in the little church in which I was raised.

By Biblical standards, the church was extremely legalistic and misguided in its tenets and doctrine. Grace was never mentioned, the cross was never taught, and the efficacy of Christ’s blood was ignored. They believed works and striving to attain salvation by their own merit was the key to the gateway to eternal life, and most still do today. Wrong as they may have been, this small group of people could sing, and each Sunday the rafters in the rickety old building would ring with their voices.

It was the practice of the church that no musical instruments accompanied their singing. As the Spirit led them, someone would either call out a particular hymn, asking for another to start it, or begin to sing it himself. Sitting next to my father on the hard wooden pew, I would often plead with him to start the hymn “Walking The Sea”. I loved to hear his deep and resonating bass voice sing the lines that echoed the melody. It wasn’t often we heard him sing. It would be over sixty years before the Gospel knocked the last chink from his stubborn heart and he would lift his voice in joy. But what is now obvious is that he must have also loved this hymn, for he sang it like no other.

At that time in my life, the song meant only that I got to hear my father sing it. The words simply recalled the story I had read in my childrens illustrated Bible storybook and the image of the man Jesus walking on the water. There was no deeply profound awe or amazement, no reverence and worship of a God capable of doing so. I was just a child who desired to hear a favored song from the lips of her father. And, it would also be a long time before I, too, understood the meaning behind the words.

Oswald Chambers was the encourager behind writing this story. In my tattered and worn daily devotional, “My Utmost For His Highest”, that I faithfully go to each morning, was a lesson based on Christ walking the Sea of Galilee. And as is usually the case, my imagination started running and my passion to write it down took over.

If you can, envision the disciples who struggled to row their boat against the buffeting wind on the high Sea of Galilee. Jesus had stayed behind to pray, telling the men He would catch up to them later. Because they obviously left without Him, they must have expected Him to catch another boat. Each stroke of the oars gained them only inches as they strained to reach the other shore. As Matthew and Mark recount this event, it is obvious they had traversed a great distance and that the wind was fierce and the waves were high. And on the shore they had left, Jesus stood on the bank gazing at the scene that lay before Him. To Jesus, there was no panic wondering how He would get to the boat and the men. He simply decided to walk out to them. Walk out to them? What human was capable of doing such a thing! The Man Who had just fed 5000 men, “besides women and children,” bringing the number closer to 15,000, with five loaves of bread and two fish. THAT was the Man Who simply stepped from solid ground and casually strolled across half the Sea of Galilee!

Now Mark tells us something interesting. As Jesus was walking towards them, “He was about to pass them by.” How long Jesus had spent on the mountain praying isn’t mentioned. The time it took the disciples to row to the middle of the Sea under the circumstances must have been lengthy. But the speed with which Jesus overtook them was astounding. My imagination tells me that the rolling, crashing waves were subdued ahead of His footsteps. There was no struggle up and over the waves for Jesus. Rather, the water recognized His feet and submitted in adoration that such a God would honor it with His presence. As He walked atop the waves, the fish of the sea danced below the waters and kissed the souls of His feet, worshiping their Creator. But in the account, it appears that the Lord was just going to keep on going rather than get in the boat, for His pace defied the disciple’s strength and endurance. It was as if He was saying, “I’ll see you guys on the other side!” and would have kept on going if the situation hadn’t called for a brief lesson in faith.

As Jesus approached the men, their reaction was typical, even to this day. They thought they saw a ghost, an apparition. After all, seeing someone walking on water wasn’t a very common sight. Their superstitious fear crept in, overwhelming them. I can see a smile beginning on Jesus’ lips, amusement bringing a twinkle to His eye. There was no end to the amazement these men felt each time Jesus revealed Himself. This Man Who continued to awe them was walking on water and doing it faster than they could row. It was as if He were saying to them, “Do you want to race? I bet I can beat you!” And to make matters worse, Peter appears to challenge Him!

“Hey, if it’s really You, ‘tell me to come to You,’” he said.

Jesus meets the challenge with his reply, “Okay you’re on. ‘Come.’

With reckless abandon, Peter does the impossible, steps out of the boat, and stands on the water. He takes a few tentative steps, focusing his full attention on his Lord Who stands waiting. What must have crossed Peter’s mind as he met Jesus’ challenge and found himself able to do the impossible?

“Wow! I’m actually walking on water! No man has ever done this!”

That was Peter’s mistake. In the elemental and scientific realm of Creation, it was impossible to accomplish what he was doing. No man had ever done this, so how could he? Peter takes his eyes off Jesus. He sees the wind causing the waves to crash around him. Doubt and “little faith” overtake him and Peter begins to sink. But a hand reaches out to pull him up and as long as Peter holds onto that hand, his feet are firmly planted and he’s able to climb back to where he perceives safety to be.

Peter made the same mistake that I often make; “…he began to reckon with the actual things, and down he went instantly.” (Chambers, June 18) At first, realizing Jesus was no ghost, his reckless abandon made him jump over the side of the boat. Then “self-consideration” entered his mind. Peter knew his limitations. He knew he couldn’t walk on water by his own power. His mind swirled with the realization of what he was doing, his eyes turned from his Lord to more material matters, and down he went.

Oswald Chambers states:

“God is not working toward a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea.” (Chambers, July 28)

All too often in my own life, I think my eyes are firmly fixed on Jesus. I rise to the mountaintop with Him where all is transformed. Peace and joy fill my life; knowledge and trust in my salvation keep me lifted up. But then, I take my eyes off of Him for just one second and down I go. My feet, which I thought were firmly planted with Him, find themselves sinking into doubt, worry over finances, dread over current events, concern over health matters; and the list goes on and on and continues to grow unless I take the hand He offers to pull me back up.

“God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now.” (Chambers, July 28) There is nothing too difficult for Christ, as the old hymn implies. He walked the sea! He walked on water! He can certainly help me overcome life’s difficulties if I just keep my eyes focused on Him and ignore the rogue waves of the world that come crashing down from time to time and threaten to drown me. I strive to keep “God’s end” in sight, not my own. I desire to always keep my eyes fixed on my God Who walked on water and Who is able to help me overcome all things. By doing so, I am assured that as I row through the sea of life, even if buffeted by the winds of trial and trouble, I will safely reach the other shore. And if I do begin to sink into doubt, there is always His hand reaching out to put me back onto my feet and help me back into the boat. That is a guarantee.

I now understand my love for the old hymns that are not often sung in churches today. The message this one contained was planted deep in my heart for another day, far in the future, when I would recall its mystery and revel in its wonder. God revealed to a child, in the simplest of ways, His mighty power and love so that one day I could join my voice with my father’s and sing of our God Who walked on the sea.

Walking The Sea

(Public Domain)

Out upon Galilee one night,
Angry waves dashed in maddening height;
As the disciples sailed in fright,
Over the deep.

Rowing against contrary wind,
Knowing not what might be the end;
Jesus came, He their dearest friend,
Walking the sea.

Walking the sea,
Walking the sea;
Jesus at night came unto to them,
Walking the sea. (Repeat)

Trouble sometimes may round you roll,
While on your voyage to the goal;
Just as they did in days of old,
On Galilee.

Faithfully strive your bark to guide,
Knowing through storm you’ll safely ride;
Jesus is ever at your side,
Walking the sea.


Copyright 2007 Karen L. Brahs