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Words that Define the Disciple's life
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:5
Track 10 of 11 in the Life-Changing Words series
Running time: 25 minutes, 38 seconds.

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Keith Ehresman Speaker: Keith Ehresman
Keith is the Family Minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

6/12/05 Words that Define the Discipleís Life

It was the summer of 1970, and that summer was one of those summers where my mom had signed me up for those wonderful Red Cross swimming lessons. I was eight years old, and growing up on the farm, we played in the creek, and sometimes where the culvert would come out, when it would rain really good, weíd have a big enough puddle to swim a little bit. But for this eight year old, I didnít know how to swim very well at all. So my mom signed me up, and she drove me and two of my brothers down into Morley, which, if you donít know where Morley, Iowa is, Iím not surprisedóprobably a population of 50 or 55 total. They loaded us on a school bus and took us into Anamosa, a big town of 3,000, and they dumped us off there at the public pool. And all of us gathered together and went in. We got these little wire baskets, and we took our clothes off, and we put our trunks on. And itís about 7:30 in the morning in June, and Iím thinking, this is absolutely absurd.
Well, we walk out by the pool, and there she is. Sheís gonna be my teacher for the next two weeks for beginner swim lessons, and she looks like sheís probably as old as my grandma. She has on these great big sunglasses, and she has this floppy sun hat, and sheís like, ok, kids, ok, kids, everybody into the pool, do some bobs, get used to the water. Itís gonna be a great two weeks together. And she just stood there and watched us all in the pool, doing our bobs, doing our thing. This continued day after day, every day same routineóget on the bus, go to the pool, come out, and she would be standing there on the edge. What was incredible was, every once in a while she would get close enough to lean over and help us and tell us what to do and work together in partners. But she was never willing to get into the pool. So the final day came. It was that day when you had to jump in the eleven foot; you had to swim across, come back with a backstroke, flip over, swim the rest of the way home, and you had it made. So one by one some of my buddies did it, and Iím standing back here; I think I was probably maybe second or maybe even last in line. Iím thinking thereís absolutely no way Iím gonna do this. But it was my turn and I had to step up. And she said, ok, you gotta step up on the box, and when you step up on the box, you just look out there in that water and you look at the other side, and you just jump in and you go for it.

Well, Iím up on the box and Iím eight years old and Iím looking at lots of distractions around me. I see my wonderful teacher standing there with this aluminum pole, sunglasses, her floppy hat, and Iím thinking there is absolutely no way sheís gonna save me. She hasnít gotten in the pool for two weeks! Iím thinking, number two, this water is deep and Iíve not ever been in anything above here. And so I remember stepping off that box, and I remember walking back against the chain link fence. And I remember going home and telling my mom, I didnít pass beginner swim lessons today. I was too afraid, Mom, to jump into the deep water. I was too afraid to go. So my mom did what all good moms would doónext summer she signs me up once again for Red Cross swimming lessons. I mean, she says, if youíre gonna be one of my sons, you have to pass beginner swim lessons, because you never know what might happen. I at least want you to be able to save yourself.

This year was a little bit different. We did the same routineóIíd put my little basket away and come out, and all of a sudden I know in my mind, this year is absolutely going to be incredible. Not just because now Iím nine years old and everybody else is eight, but because Iím nine years old and there she is and sheís already in the water. Sheís splashing it and saying, come on, guys, itís gonna be a great two weeks together. The water is wonderful; come on! And we all jumped in. Number two, she was absolutely beautiful! She went to my church. We didnít have a real big country church, but she went to my church, but I donít think she ever noticed me in my entire life, but Iíd noticed her. She was probably 18 or 19 years old, and Iím thinking, Paulaís my teacher! Those two weeks were really great. She was always in the water with us; she was always teaching us. I can remember the back float. Remember when you learned how to back float and they tell you to arch the back? Well, I can remember just laying there and she would tuck her hands under and just---it took me a little bit longer to learn how to back float. But I did it; I learned how to back float and I learned that stroke. And the next thing we know, two weeks, theyíre gone just like that. Every day I anticipated getting up, getting on that bus, and getting to the pool. So itís the final day, and instead of Paula getting out of the ladder and walking over to the deep end to tell us all to get up on our box, this time she said, you guys walk over, but Iím gonna swim around and meet you over there. Iím thinking, this is incredible. So I walked over and got right up on the box. And there she was, treading water, sheís beautiful. Iím only nine, but sheís beautiful. And she says, come on in, Keith, jump; you can do it. The same distractions were there; Iím looking and seeing the metal pole, now wired against the fence. And Iím thinking of the deep water and thinking I might drown. But Iím thinking, she believes I can do this. So Iím gonna do it. And I remember jumping, and I remember coming up out of the water. And as soon as I came out of the water, she was right beside me, and she said, now swim. And I swam. And I got to the other side and she said, now flip over and do that backstroke like I taught you. And I did the backstroke, and we got halfway back across the pool and she said, now flip over and swim all the way home. And I passed beginner swim lessons that day. It was an incredible experience because, you see, it was the difference of two different personalities; it was the difference of the words. Both of them gave me words that said, come on, jump; get in, the waterís great. You can do this. And yet I listened to the one who I trusted, and I listened to the one who believed in me and I believed in them.

This morning weíre looking at words that caused the disciples to take action. Itís what weíre talking about as we go to Matthew 14; weíre looking at the text this morning beginning in verse 22. Itís a passage where Jesus has just finished the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. You remember it, where he took the five loaves and the two fish and he fed the 5,000 and there were 12 baskets left over. If we look over at Johnís account in chapter six, weíd have a little more of a picture of whatís happening here, because the people, because of that miracle, are wanting to make Jesus a literal earthly king. Theyíre rallying around him, and his immediate words are here beginning in this passage, where heís going to tell the disciples to get in the boat and get away. Matthew 14 beginning in verse 22: Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side. While he dismissed the crowd after he had dismissed them, he went up on the mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
The first thing Jesus told them to do was to get in. His words were not words that said, hey, if you guys want to, go ahead and get in the boat and Iíll see you on the other side. Jesusí words, as it says in the original, were that of an order, that of a command that said, get in the boat, guys, and go. He withdraws from them and yet they trust him enough to take action because of what he had asked them to do. So we know now theyíre out here a distance from the land, and the wind is coming, and the waves are buffeting up against the boat, and we know somethingís taking place. Jesus has retreated, and perhaps these guys are now feeling like, why did we listen to this guy? But each of youódo you remember when you got in the boat? When you had that sense within you when Jesus allowed you to come into a relationship with him? We donít make him our Lord; he is our Lord, and we have to simply submit to him. I can remember doing that at the age of 10 years old. I got in that boat with Jesus, and I said, I donít know what this life is gonna be like, but eternity in heaven, eternity in hellóIím choosing you, Jesus. And I absolutely love the boat that Iím in as a Christian, as a follower of God. It does not mean that thereís not storms, it does not mean that there arenít times when youíd rather turn away and run away and walk away. But it means that when youíre in the boat and when youíre in a relationship with Jesus, he will take you farther than you ever imagined going. And we can trust him in those difficult times in our lives that he is gonna be the one that will see us on the other side.

Thereís a book written Ė All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten Ė and thereís a sequel to that book that was written in 1998 that said All I Really Needed to Know I Learned from Noah. I just want to give you the top ten of these because sometimes we forget that itís been the same principle with our God all the time, since the beginning of creation itself. Those of us who have chosen to get in have to keep a perspective and focus on the one who has told us to get in the boat.
Plan ahead; it wasnít raining when Noah built the ark.

Stay fit -- when youíre 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something really big.
Donít listen to the critics; do what has to be done.
Build on high ground.
For safetyís sake, travel in pairs.
Speed isnít always an advantage. The cheetahs were on board, but so were the snails.
When the do-do gets really deep, donít just sit there and complain Ė shovel.
Remember that the ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals.
Remember that the woodpeckers inside are often a bigger threat than the storm on the outside.
And number ten: No matter how bleak it looks, there is always a rainbow on the other side.

You see thereís gonna be a lot of storms, a lot of things that are gonna distract us. And we know from this first part of the text that the disciples are out there a distance from the land and Jesus has retreated. But now letís pick up in verse 25 and letís go on, because now weíre gonna see that heís gonna allow Peter to get out. Matthew 14, beginning in verse 25: During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. Itís a ghost, they said. And they cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them, take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. Lord, if itís you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said.
You see, not only did these disciples get in the boat, but now heís saying, get out, walk, have faith. It is I; itís not a ghost, itís the one that is willing to risk everything, and to prove his power. And now you men who are along side of me, you have been given that same authority to walk on water.

Iím amazed by this passage because itís not all of the disciples standing on the edge of the boat saying hey, Lord, tell all of us to come and weíll all come out, but itís Peter. There are only two things that I think Iím gonna have to do in life solo flight, and one of those was entering into this world, and one is gonna be leaving this world. The rest of the time, if I have anything to do with it, I want to surround myself with people; I want collaboration, I want people who are like-minded, who have a faith in Jesus Christ, who are disciples, who are followers of him, who have purpose and identity in him and want to get out and simply, basically, walk on water. Even when the rest of the world is drowning, we have a different perspective.

Peter was willing to get out of the boat. Thereís an illustration of a lifesaving station. That lifesaving station was on a rough coastal area of the ocean. It began with a small little building, and what this one man did was, every time there would be a large ship that would hit the rocks or get too close to shore, he would take a little rowboat out and he would bring as many people in as he could. What happened was that it began a community of people, because these people were from other countries and other places, and they began to basically set up a larger and larger lifesaving station. They got more boats and they were all part of it. They were saving peoples lives, as many as they could, and they were bringing them in. But all of a sudden they got big enough and they got happy enough that they were sharing together and remembering this wonderful man and this wonderful boat that had saved them, that they got distracted. So they put their money together and they built this really, really nice club. They brought the boat in that had saved them and they set it in the club and they would come together and share meals and have these great opportunities. But what theyíd forgotten was to look out the window and remember that on the coastline there were still ships passing by. And there were still shipwrecks, and there were still people who were needing someone to come to their aid. So this one man who had started the lifesaving station moved on up. And little by little the lifesaving station turned into a club. And the people forgot that they were challenged to get out and to bring the people in, and to be the ones to save others as they themselves had been saved.
Itís been twenty years, I guess, that Iíve been able to be here in this boat; and yet at the same time, Iíve had the opportunity to get out of the boat and go on short-term mission projects. Youíve allowed me to get out of the boat and go over and teach part-time at Central Christian College of the Bible, and invest in these students lives, who they themselves have said, Iím willing to go wherever God will lead me. Itís allowing me to be able to be who I am called of God, according to my giftedness. You see, we all look different. And basically what we have to do is get up to the edge of the boat in the midst of the storm no matter how difficult it seems, and instead of retreating and huddling in the back of the boat, we say, ok, Lord, I donít know what youíre teaching me, but Iíll get out and Iíll walk.

Now to make the third point of this message this morning Ė I wish I could say that Peter got out of that boat and that he had faith and he started walking and pretty soon heís just running across the lake and he gets over to Gennesaret and he starts performing miracles in Jesusí name and people are coming in throngs --- but thatís not what happens. Letís look at the passage, beginning in Matthew 24:29, Jesusí words to him, come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began sinking. He cried out, Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said; why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him saying, truly you are the son of God. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret, and when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak. And all who touched him were healed.
You see, when you take on his challenge, it will build the core of who you are. When you take on his challenge, it will build the core of who you are. And you will be willing to get into the boat, and you will be willing to be a Peter and get out of the boat. But what happens here to Peter is that as soon as he gets out of the boat and heís walking, literally heís walking on water, but he gets distracted again and he doesnít have the faith, and he starts looking at the waves and the wind, and his eyes start going inward, and he goes, I donít have the ability to do this. Yet the scripture is clear that Jesus didnít let him go down one, two, and before he goes down for the third time, reaches out and save the guy. The scripture teaches us something about our Master, that, immediately, the scripture says, he reaches out his hand and grabs him and helps him back into the boat. When the disciples realize who this man is that they thought was a ghost, itís the Lord, and they worship him. Together, collaboration, together there has been a lesson learned, and they go across that lake and they get to Gennesaret, and what happens but the people hear the message Ė that now this Jesus who just performed the miracle over here is over here. And the people are coming to him and the power of our living God that we are able to worship and to live for is the power that lives inside of us, is the power that was transforming lives because they simply were able to touch the edge of his cloak and they were healed.

Jesus wants us to take him seriously. Jesus wants us to be the type of people that will climb back in the boat at times, and as the scripture talks about, the wind dies down and thereís calm, and there is time to be able to just simply worship. But he also guarantees us that in this life there will be times when we have to get in the water and we have to go alongside people. And especially for those of us who have talents and abilities and have been blessed with resources, Godís expectation for us is that we will go and that we will get busy.

Weíve had an incredible week of camp this past week. We had 89 campers and there were, I think, around 30 of us from here at Madison Park that were on faculty. An incredible week of camp, challenging our young people to be fishermen, to go fish. Itís that principle out of Matthew 28:19 & 20, Jesusí commands, those words that cause the disciples to take action. What weíre looking at today out of this passage in a very simple way is that what heís asking us is basically, I want you to go; I want you to follow and go. Heís blessed us with resources to the point that he says, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you, and surely I will be with you to the very end of the age.

Leonard Sweet writes in one of his books about our earthís population. He puts it in a format that makes me as a Christian realize how blessed I am to be here in the United States of America, and perhaps even convicts me of the expectation that God has upon us as a people to take action and to go for God. If we were to take the earthís 5.7 billion population, 5.7 billion people, which is hard to comprehend that number, but if we bring it down to a village of 100 people, that village would look like this: 57 of the 100 would be Asians, 21 would be Europeans, 14 North and South Americans, and 8 Africans. Seventy out of the 100 would be nonwhite, 70 out of the 100 would be non-Christian, 50% of the entire worldís wealth would be in the hands of six people; all six of those people would be citizens of the United States of America. Seventy would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 80 would live in substandard housing. Only one out of the hundred would have a college education. All of a sudden I realized how blessed I am to have been able to get in the boat as a 10-year-old boy and follow God, and at the same time, I grew up in a family and I served with you and alongside of you in a place where God asks us to take the next step and to get going. Because there is purpose. And he asks us to have faith and to be obedient to the call, that we will truly go wherever he would lead us to go, and that we will be what he has asked us to be.

So this morning weíre gonna stand and weíre gonna sing, and I want you to be thinking in your mind, what is it that you need to be committing your heart and your life to? Are there distractions and are there fears that wonít let you get into the water, like there was to an eight-year-old boy, or are there other people Ė or maybe youíre the person -- that simply needs to be in the water when I was nine and say, come on in, itís gonna be ok, Iíll swim alongside of you. And after we sing and after you have time to kind of process this text this morning in your way, Steve Hill is gonna come and heís gonna share how we, as a body, can apply this. So stand with me and letís sing together.

[Transcribed by SM]