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Timberlake Blog

When Jesus Could Have Calmed the Storm

[fa icon="calendar'] Mon, Mar 31, 2014 @ 06:30 AM / by Bo Lane posted in storm, help, jesus, calm, seasons, need

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In walking with Jesus, often we walk through difficult experiences, or what some describe as a storm. Sometimes these storms occur in our relational life, spiritual life, or to our physical bodies. Sometimes these storms are the result of our own decisions and other times they occur simply as part of living in what Scripture describes as a "fallen world."

If you're reading this, my guess is you've experienced something resembling a storm in your life. In those seasons of life, my hope is that you've seen God step in and bring peace, comfort, and clarity. But maybe, as you're reading this, you haven't experienced God intervening in a real way in your life and maybe, to make matters worse, you had really hoped He would have. Maybe you're reading this and you're new this whole faith and Jesus thing. You heard that God would never leave you or give up on you but as soon as you hit a rough patch, it sort of feels like that's exactly what's happened.

If that's something you've recently experienced, consider the story in the Bible where Jesus walks on water, and rescues his friend Peter from drowning as he attempts to do the same. As I read this story the other week, I noticed some things I hadn't noticed before.

But let's first get some background on Peter: He had recently left his profession (something that was likely his only skill set) to follow Jesus. The ramifications of his decision were undoubtedly significant, potentially including the alienation of his closest family and friends, but these were yet to be seen. He probably had a lot of questions, and wondered if he had made the right decision. He had emerged as a natural leader in the group of Jesus' followers. And he was willing, eager, and prone to snap decisions, sometimes leading him off-track.

So, here we find Peter - Jesus' ardent follower - eager, yet undoubtedly unsure. Jesus performs a miracle and then sends his disciples on a boat so that he could get some time by himself for spiritual refreshment. 

You may be familiar with the story: A storm comes. The disciples are afraid. They see Jesus walking toward them on the water. And, if that wasn't extraordinary enough, something weird happens. Here's what the scripture says in Matthew 14:

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, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (MATT 14:29-30) 

I've read, heard, and thought about this interesting series of events many of times. In fact, growing up in and around church, I've heard a number of sermons and devotions on this passage - probably more than I can count. I've heard that Peter wasn't actually walking on water but that he was walking on faith and that it's important for us to step out of our comfort zones into the unknown to follow Jesus. And so on. Good, encouraging, and challenging thoughts I've heard over the years that have helped move the ball forward in my faith.

But, as I read this again, I thought of something I hadn't before. It actually involves a different story but a similar situation. Here's what Mark accounts in Mark 4:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (MARK 4:35-39)

I'm sure you noticed, like I did, a lot of similarities in both passages. However, something jumped out at me in Mark's account - something I hadn't noticed before. Jesus offered a solution. He gets in the boat, calms the storm, says a few words, and just like that the wind and the waves die down and his friends in the boat feel safe and secure. They're blown away. They're absolutely astounded. And, as the Gospel notes, they ask one another, "Who is this guy?"

There was something else I noticed as I read this passage: Jesus has the power to conquer storms! I know, it's nothing especially profound. Unless, however, you apply this idea to Peter's life.

Let me explain.

Going back to Peter's story, we find him watching as Jesus approaches from a distance and shouts out, "If its really you, tell me to walk out to you!" Behind Peter's statement, I believe, is the implicit doubt we all go through. Peter is saying, "God, are you really everything you say you are? Can I really trust you? Was this decision to follow you just a huge mistake?"

Its a series of questions that, inevitably, all followers of Jesus ask. More often we ask these questions at a point in our life and faith when things get a little rocky - at a point when things didn't quite turn out the way we thought. Perhaps this is Peter's experience and so he calls out to Jesus to prove himself. And Peter gets afraid, as do we, and has a moment of doubt and fear and takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. And Jesus reaches down and pulls Peter up out of the water.

But here's where it gets interesting: Jesus could have calmed the storm.

In Mark's account, its clear that the wind and waves and the forces of nature obey Jesus. He could have spoken one word to calm the storm and maybe Peter would have been fine. But Jesus doesn't do this. Instead, he chooses to reach down right into Peter's situation - in the middle of his mess - and pull him out.

When I read this, it lined up with how God often works in my life. In seasons that could be described as a "storm," I've often asked, even begged God, to step in and calm the storm. But often he doesn't. And that's something that we may never understand. But what Jesus does in these seasons is engage us right where we're at and when we ask for help He always seems to pull us out.

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Camp, Caffeine and Decisions for Christ

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Feb 14, 2014 @ 12:03 PM / by Timberlake Church posted in camp, christ, jesus, decisions, follow

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Great things are happening in Timberlake's Middle School Ministry. Recently we took a number of students to Great Wolf Lodge for our RUSH Winter Camp 2014. We had a great time and I wanted to share just a small glimpse into the incredible life change that happened that weekend.

I think it’s important to hear about how God interacts with middle school students because we can easily label our young students as spiritually immature or incapable of encountering God. Maybe it's all the sugar! However, I can confidently say this weekend revolutionized not only the Middle School Ministry but the future of Timberlake Student Ministries as a whole.

120 caffeinated and crazy students rolled out to camp, excited for water slides, arcade games, food, and social interaction with their friends, but returned Sunday with so much more than they expected.

We challenged our students to identify if they were living in God’s light or in the world’s darkness. We thought we were in over our heads with this challenge because many of the students didn’t even know how to pray. But God answered our prayers and pursued these young people, relentlessly, all weekend.

I wasn't sure what to expect during the final service because we tried something we hadn’t done before. Instead of watching our students make an emotional decision to follow Jesus, we simply asked them to sit back and think if living a life devoted to God was for them. We placed glow sticks on the stage for each student to come up and grab when they felt like they were ready to make a decision. The idea was that they had to be broken in order to shine for Jesus. So, if they desired to surrender their lives to Jesus, they would break their glow stick, making their declaration. I stood in the back of the room and watched as almost all of our students decided to be broken to shine for Jesus. We also encouraged the rest to take their glow sticks home, take some time, and make the decision if Jesus was for them.

We watched as our students as they worshipped Jesus in reckless abandonment. I was a great sight to see. We finished off the night with student testimonies from the stage and a whole lot of prayer.

37 students gave their lives to Christ that night and many more made the decision to take their next right step and get baptized. 

I can’t take any credit for success of this camp. It comes down to our amazing adult leaders who were there to pastor these students and God being as faithful as he is.

Matt Castro
Middle School Pastor

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What Matters Most

[fa icon="calendar'] Fri, Sep 13, 2013 @ 10:55 AM / by Timberlake Church posted in faith, Timberlake, jesus, Loving others, relationships, what matters, trust

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The world we live in values money, power, and success.  Many people spend each day striving to get a better job, a better house, or a better car.  Yet, none of this stuff matters from an eternal perspective.  They are just things we may have for a while but can’t take with us after death.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

What really matters in life?  People matter.  Relationships matter.  From God’s perspective, relationships are what matters most of all.  Why?  People are eternal beings.  Death is not the end.  When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is, he said to love God and love people (Matthew 22:36-40).  That is what we were designed for.  That is the purpose of life – to be in relationship with Jesus and to be in authentic and meaningful relationships with other people.

Of course this is easy to say, but hard to live out.  People can be difficult to deal with.  We all have people in our life that push our buttons and make us crazy.  And we are the person that drives someone else crazy too!  People are imperfect.  Relationships are messy.  Everyone – you and me – could use a little help as we navigate the many relationships in our lives.  Starting this weekend, and in the coming weeks ahead, Timberlake will be doing a message series about relationships and the people that “make us crazy.”  We would love for you to join us.  You will be challenged, encouraged, and there will be a few laughs.  We look forward to seeing you at church!

 

Jordan Lee
Senior Associate Pastor – Redmond Campus  

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Summer Camp Changes Everything

[fa icon="calendar'] Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 05:00 PM / by Timberlake Church posted in Timberlake, students, camp, summer, life, jesus, Family, salvation

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When I was 15 years old, a new youth pastor at our church invited me to a week at "summer camp". At the time, I responded as any 15 year old considering giving up a week of summer would-- "No thanks, I'm not interested." Then, a girl I liked from church decided to go to camp. I was interested. 

I walked into a week of summer camp expecting to have some fun, make some memories, and work my best freshman-in-high-school moves on my love interest. But here's what happened: God met me at that summer camp. If we had the time, I could take you to the exact spot where I remember committing my life to Jesus forever, and deciding my life was going to look different from that day forward. I can't really remember what the messages were about, or how fun the games were, but I can remember knowing so clearly in my heart and mind that Jesus Christ is who he said he is, and wanted so badly to have a relationship with me. 

Flash forward a decade, and I can't remember who the love interest was, but I can tell you that the decision to fall in love with Jesus has stuck with me, and its by his grace that I'm walking with Him today.

The past couple weeks, we had a chance to provide this opportunity for a bunch of students at Timberlake, both at the middle school and high school level. During these two weeks, it was truly amazing to see students connect in brand new friendships, play crazy games and make lifelong memories. But more than anything, it was amazing to watch them make decisions of faith; decisions that I know firsthand can last a lifetime.  


So, thank you for being a church committed to creating this environment for students. I know that, for so many students, summer camp changes everything. 

Nick Wallsteadt

High School Pastor
Timberlake Church

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