Fish and Sheep

John 21:1-17

21 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] 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.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows,[c] 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 yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

12 “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. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 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.

17 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.

Peter was a fisherman.

Jesus called Peter to follow Him.

Jesus said He’d teach Peter to become a fisher of men.

Peter followed and got to know & love Jesus.

But when trouble arose, Peters heart monitor revealed a problem; he didn’t love Jesus more than people.

Fortunately, for Peter, his story didn’t end with denying his Lord and Savior three times. After Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, He ate breakfast with Peter by the seashore and monitored Peter’s repentant heart with three questions.

Peter DID love Jesus more than he loved people.

Peter loved Jesus.

Peter loved JESUS with all his heart!

Because of his love for Jesus, and the power of the Spirit he received at Pentecost, Peter became a fisher of men who was able to care for and feed the Lord’s sheep, as commanded.

I wonder:

Do you love Jesus more than people?

Do you love Jesus?

Do you love JESUS with all our heart?

If you’ve read any of my posts you know that I repeatedly sound the alarm on the heart monitor of the American Church. I’ve confronted sin & beckoned believers to repent, not as a high priest who stands in judgement, but as a fellow disciple who’s been convicted, deeply grieved over and repentant for loving people (& myself) more than I love Jesus.

One could assume through my writing that I might be a “negative Nellie”- always pissed off with the Church, constantly tearing down the body of Christ while never building her up. That’s untrue. I love the Church. I love God’s people. I intercede for believers everywhere. I pray for the Bride. And I weep when I see that she is not prepared to meet her Groom. I LOVE the Church. But I want to love Jesus more.

In my last post, Divorcing the Church System, I shared that our family no longer joins a crowd in a building on Sundays for worship & the word. Instead, we gather with a small group of believers each week at home to worship, pray, devote ourselves to biblical teaching, take communion and share a meal.

We began hosting Sunday Meetings last year because God said to. Not because we were angry with our local church family or that we thought we could do things better than our previous leaders. We left the system as a result of continual revelation of Jesus through Scripture and by the Spirit in prayer. We obeyed the Lord when He whispered “host meetings” and “feed the sheep.” What we’re doing is simple; Sunday Meetings are based on Scripture (Acts 2) and are Spirit led.

Catching a load of fish in a day requires lowering a net into the water off the “right side” of the boat. Feeding lambs, taking care of, and feeding sheep every day requires constant, ongoing devotion for years.

Fish.jpgPreaching the gospel catches fish. Living the gospel cares for and feeds the sheep. Both are necessary in the Kingdom. sheep.jpg

The Church needs fishermen and shepherds!!! Let us not forget that the same Spirit is still empowering the body of Christ to do both.

The old system is broken.

God is doing something new.

Do you not see it? (Isaiah 43:19)

It’s time for more.

It’s time to seek the Father more.

It’s time to love Jesus more.

It’s time to be filled with the Spirit more.

Preach the gospel.

Live the gospel.

God is faithful, He will add to the numbers. (Acts 2:47)

 

For those who’ve asked: We follow Acts 2:42-47 for our *Sunday Meetings. We also recommend Jeremiah Johnson’s book, “I See a New Apostolic Generation” & Francis Chan’s book “Letters to the Church.” (*a part of At Home Ministries)

Love AND Hate

 

John 3:16-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[b]

It’s Valentine’s Day. The day of love. The day we receive and give love. The day we remember the One who IS love. The One who loves the world. The One who lovesyou. The One who loves me. The One who commands me to love Him. The One who commands me to loveothers. The One who loved me when I hated Him. The One who loves me and hates my sin.

 

Scripture says there’s a time to love and a time to hate:

love and hate

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

In this season under heaven, a lot of Christians are saying they love God. But only a few are actually loving Him. Scripture is clear: IF we say we love God, THEN our actions will prove we loveHim. IF we say we love God, THEN our actions will also prove we hate what He hates.

What does God hate?

Proverbs 6:16-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil,
    feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies,
    a person who sows discord in a family.

If we, as Christians, the Church, the body of Christ, don’t hate the detestable sin of our eyes, our tongue, our hands, our heart, how can we truly love God?

It’s time to hate our sin.

It’s time to kill it. It’s time to tear it down. It’s time to cry about it. It’s time to grieve about it. It’s time to scatter it. It’s time to turn away from it. It’s time to tear it. It’s time to be quiet (and listen to the Holy Spirit). It’s time for war.

If we do not love God, we cannot love people on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. And without love,we cannot make disciples.

It’s time to hate our sin.

It’s time to repent.

Divorcing the System

 Ephesians 5:25-30 New Living Translation (NLT)

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[a] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.

We left our local church again.

Why?

Short answer: God said.

Long answer: We came to a fork in the narrow road where we had to choose to be loyal to a church system or submit to what Scripture and the Spirit were saying.

divorcing.jpgAfter many months of searching Scripture, praying, sobbing, contemplating,  receiving visions and dreams from the Lord, and wrestling through my selfish desire to remain in fellowship with my friends, we divorced the church system.

We LOVE the church, the body of Christ, His bride. But we can no longer submit to man’s system of doing church. The cry of our heart is to BE THE CHURCH, worshipping the Lord in Spirt and in Truth.

John 4:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Charming and I were raised going to church, long before we became part of the Church. I was part of the Presbyterian system and we have been part of the Methodist system, the non-denominational Baptist system, the non-denominational Pentecostal system, and the non-denominational mega system.

We had fantastic pastors and not so fantastic pastors. We had pastors who shepherded these stupid, stubborn sheep! And we had pastors who became power hungry, prideful dictators that pursued their own empires. Honestly, I don’t think they knew what they were doing. They didn’t realize they were neglecting the sheep because they were too busy managing the system. They didn’t see the enemy sneak in to steal, kill and destroy the flock. They didn’t hear the cries of the wandering sheep who needed to be led back to the safety of the sheepfold. The sheep became just another number. Just another servant of the system.  As my friend said, “just a cog in a wheel.” Just another passenger on a runaway freight train; who’s tracks were already laid, who’s schedules were already made, and who’s conductors weren’t concerned with a few passengers hopping off at the station, because greater numbers would jump on at the next.

I have forgiven those shepherds.

Just as the Great Shepherd has forgiven me.

I’ve never been given the title of pastor, but I understand what it means to pastor people, to shepherd the sheep. Charming and I have led others in service teams and small groups for over two decades in local churches and in ministry through the non-profit we founded in 2010.

I understand wanting to be used by God.

I understand wanting to serve people.

I understand wanting power.

I understand wanting a position.

I understand wanting to please others.

I understand wanting to be on a platform.

I understand wanting the praises of others.

I understand wanting big numbers; people and dollar bills.

And, I understand grieving the Spirit by obeying the system instead of obeying Him.

But I also understand that God’s kindness led me to repent.

Repent for the lust of my eyes, the lust of my flesh and the pride of my life.

And a result of His revelation, He required a response: divorce the church system.

Jesus said, if I love Him I will obey His commands.

I do. And I did.

The divorce has been painful for our family.

But the Lord has been faithful. We are no longer bound to a system. Instead, we are free to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth with other parts of the body. Gathering at home each week, we’ve gone back to the simple way (Acts 2); worshipping, praying, studying Scripture, and sharing communion and meals with one another.

If we believe, receive and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior…

We are His church.

We are His body.

We are His bride.

We believe in the Father.

We believe in the Son.

We believe in the Spirit.

We believe in the baptism of water and fire.

We believe the Father gives good gifts to the church.

We believe the Son gives good gifts to the church.

We believe the Spirit gives good gifts to the church.

We believe the church is to be disciples and make disciples.

We believe Jesus is the head of His church, His body, His bride.

We believe the Spirit is preparing the bride for the Grooms return.

We believe Jesus will present His pure and spotless bride to the Father.

Ephesians 4:1-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

However, he has given each one of us a special gift[a] through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,

“When he ascended to the heights,
    he led a crowd of captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b]

Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world.[c] 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  

Revelation 19:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:

“Praise the Lord!
    For the Lord our God,[a] the Almighty, reigns.
Let us be glad and rejoice,
    and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
    and his bride has prepared herself.