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.
Recently, a team from Timberlake Church travelled throughout Kenya to work alongside Christian Ministries in Africa, an organization dedicated to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and helping orphans and abandoned children. These children are provided with the safety, nurturing, nutrition, and medical attention they need to have a better future.
The team visited 6 locations throughout Kenya, witnessing handicapped children overcome their disabilities to sing and dance with joy. We sang with the children at the schools and saw the progress God is doing in this incredibly poor area. We also walked from house to house near the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic and witnessed a community devastated by the disease. We prayed with people, both young and old, who have lost the majority of their family and friends. But through fellowship and prayer, God has showed us that He isn't done yet. Great things are in store for the people of Kenya.
Timberlake Church supports the work God is doing in Kenya, not only by sending mission teams, but by providing financial assistance. Thank you for your generosity as we continue to move the mission of Timberlake Church outside our walls.
Click here to watch the Kenya Mission Trip recap video.
This weekend, Pastor Ben will be wrapping up our series, First Dates to Soulmates. We thought we'd leave you with some practical ways you can improve your marriage.
- Deal with all your junk right away.
- Understand your roles and live in them.
- Be intimate, a lot.
- Date night.
- Your relationship is more important than any other relationship (except God).
- Pray together.
- Play together.
- Find a mentor.
- Put the other person first.
- Decide that you will stay married even if it kills you (and it probably will).
- No secrets.
- Work out of your gifting.
- Men, lead.
- Stay pure.
- Set Boundaries.
These tips came from Pastor Joshua Reich's blog post, 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
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.
Middle School Pastor
Few times are as trying as bedtime for most parents! The brush-floss-potty-wash-jammies-storytime routine ends up being a frustration for many of the parents I see at Love and Logic® parenting series. Either the parents end up shouting kids into bedrooms, or using up their last ounce of patience on all the repeat trips to tuck kids in.
If you’re fortunate enough to have mastered this near-Herculean nightly event, good for you! If you want some tips on this and more, we’ll be offering Parenting the Love and Logic WayTM on Thursday nights in Redmond, and Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun!TM on Wednesday nights in Issaquah. Click here to sign up.
No matter how much I use these parenting techniques, or any other, I will still never be a perfect parent. Thank goodness God fills in where I leave off. When my kids were toddlers, I happened upon a book of “bedtime blessings.” Knowing that I would be laying a hand on each child’s head and saying a prayer aloud helped me focus on what was most important at bedtime: to finish each day well, to renew my relationship with each child, and to send them to sleep with the knowledge of God’s great love for them.
What I didn’t anticipate was my kids’ addiction to the blessings I gave! They are teens now, nearly independent, and taller and up later than I. Yet, they still ask for a blessing before I head to bed. As we talk about college visits next month with my oldest, I count myself blessed that he seeks me out to pray over him. The days left are rapidly ticking by.
What to say? I’ll save you the cost of the book: look up Numbers 6:24-26 or Psalm 139:1-16. Print it out, tuck your kids in with scripture and a smooch, and point them to the Perfect Father who will love them better and longer than we parents ever will.
Family Life Pastor
Sometimes I sit back in my chair and look at the pictures of my kids that stand in the corner of my desk. I have some really great kids, if I don’t so say myself. They are beautiful and smart and I consider it an honor to play just a small part in the life that Jesus has laid out for them.
I keep those pictures on my desk not only as a symbol of my pride but as a reminder to pray for them. Because life gets busy and if you’re like me, you need a good reminder every once in a while.
“To be a Christian without prayer,” Martin Luther once wrote, “is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
We serve a big God. And prayer is a great way of feeling connected to Him. In fact, when we don’t pray, we feel disconnected. As if, like Martin Luther wrote, our oxygen is cut off.
Let’s change that.
Here are seven ways we can pray for our children. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the scripture and prayer for your kids in these areas:
1. Pray they would be saved
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. – 2 Peter 3:9
2. Pray they will run from the sin that holds them down
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. - Hebrews 12:1-2
3. Pray their satisfaction would be found only in God
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. – Psalm 16:11
4. Pray they would be kept in peace
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! - Isaiah 26:3
5. Pray they find courage
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9
6. Pray they love the church
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – John 13:34-35
7. Pray they have a heart of love
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Mother Teresa wrote that “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
As we run full steam ahead this Christmas season, let’s make sure that our first priority is fitting in prayer to a God that, not only loves us and cares for us, but wants nothing more than to talk with us through prayer.
In the past year, we've been blown away by God's faithfulness in opening door after door and the generosity of those who committed to give above and beyond their normal tithes and offerings to support Timberlake Church.
We are driven by our mission to make more and better disciples of Jesus Christ, and we believe that launching a new campus in Duvall is our next right step to accomplish that mission.
Duvall is located in the Snoqualmie Valley along highway 203, just north of Redmond. It is one of the fastest growing communities on the greater Eastside. The town of 12,000+ estimates a growth of 76% in the next ten years. Our hope is to share Christ’s love and his message of hope and grace to everyone in the Snoqualmie Valley. Currently there are 200 Timberlake families who reside in the area and our Duvall campus will enable them to invite their friends and further reach the community.
The next steps of our new campus will be critical as we raise funds and form teams of volunteers to help renovate this 97-year-old church building.
Additionally, we're thrilled to become the parent organization for Acres of Diamonds, which is also located in Duvall. Acres of Diamonds is a transitional Christian home that provides a loving, safe and nurturing environment for homeless women and their children. Residents learn how to break the cycle of addiction, poverty and homelessness.
God is doing great things inside and outside the walls of Timberlake. And we’re excited for the opportunity to continue to reach the greater Eastside.
For more information on how you can get involved, visit TimberlakeChurch.com/Duvall.
At Timberlake Church, nothing excites us more than watching people take their next right step in Jesus. And when Perrin, a Timberlake attender, took her faith public by getting baptized a few weeks ago, we celebrated with her.
Please take a few moments and read her story:
Growing up, Jesus wasn't a part of my life. I had no real knowledge of who He was. My father was an atheist and my mother didn't seem interested. I heard about Jesus from some friends in high school, but truly, nothing really sank in.
Without any sort of faith structure in my life, anxiety played a big part of how I functioned. And, although I felt that everything happened for a reason, I never had the feeling that God was looking out for me.
But it when I met my husband, things started to change. Something just seemed to click in my heart and my previous “everything happens for a reason” theory started to make sense. And that’s when I made the decision to follow Jesus.
My faith journey has been a long one but after more than ten years and several moves, we found ourselves at Timberlake Church. And it was at Timberlake where everything in my life really came full circle. For the first time, I actually felt one hundred percent connected with Jesus.
Everything finally made sense.
Life just seems easier now. Days are not perfect and life still presents it's challenges but it all feels manageable, especially knowing that Jesus is always there. I can always count on him, and that's a pretty awesome feeling.
This past January, Pastor Jordan and I took a trip to visit Timberlake's orphanage in Haiti, a few months before our Timberlake missions team took their trip in March.
Our main focus was to scope out the area, capture some footage of the orphanage, and conduct some interviews with the organization’s pastors and leadership.
So I did just that. I took as much footage as I could. I filmed kids playing soccer. I filmed the blue skies. And I shot a few interviews.
For me, it wasn't a vacation. It was all work - technically just a part of my job as the Media Director here at Timberlake – so I didn’t anticipate making an emotional connection since I was behind the camera. That changed, however, when this particular young man came up and introduced himself to me.
We drove through Port-au-Prince, and beyond several small villages and parked our van in an open area. Because our beautiful white van stood out like a sore thumb, kids and adults from the area came from all over to check us out.
I got out of the van with my camera in hand and waited for the other half of our crew to arrive when Darley - a teenage boy, probably 16 or 17 years old, wearing a red t-shirt and long jeans - came up to me.
He spoke mostly good English and stumbled on a word here and there but we ending up talking quite a bit. We talked a little about Jesus. A little about America. And a little about how he just wants one chance at a better life.
Which I know is unlikely for him.
Why? Because he is poor. Because his family has nothing. His country is corrupt. He has no connections. No resources. Nothing.
Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot we can do for Darley or people in similar situations. We want to bring them home, clean them up, send them to a great school, and watch them live a better, more meaningful life. But, also, that’s unlikely.
Some families are an exception though. And my hat is off to those Timberlake families who have adopted kids from struggling countries and have given them a great opportunity. But that’s not something my family, and many families, are able to do right now.
So what can we do?
We can pray. We can share the good news of Jesus Christ to people who may not have heard about him, give some of our abundant resources to those who have next to nothing, and show our love to those who desperately need it. That’s what we can do.
And that’s something we at Timberlake Church care so deeply about. We believe it’s our mission to reach those outside our walls, both near and far. To countless individuals across the oceans and to our friends and neighbors across our streets. That’s the heartbeat of Timberlake Church and I’d invite you to jump in and participate.
Before hopping back in our big white bus, I asked Darley if he could write his name down on a piece of paper so that I could remember him and pray for him. I tucked it away in my wallet and that’s where it has remained ever since.
You know, I’m thankful that Jesus brought me out of my work for a few moments and brought me into the life of a young man named Darley. And I’m thankful to be a part of a church that cares so much about reaching out to those who so desperately need it.
Media Director, Timberlake Church
Yesterday I arrived at church at 8am to check on how things were going with an event set-up. I left at 4:15pm to grab one of my kids from volleyball, arrived home to cook up some chicken legs and potatoes, answered a couple of homework questions, listened to the family debrief over dinner, and went back to work for an evening event. I pulled into our driveway just in time to laugh with my family over the day’s stories before bedtime. The winning vignette involved baby carrots, braces and the Heimlich maneuver. My husband calls this the “new normal" - the balancing of priorities we do, now that we both have full time jobs.
I’ve just passed my one year anniversary in ministry at Timberlake. There have been some amazing moments in which I've seen God’s handiwork. There have been hard times which I can thankfully see God overcoming. This past week has been difficult emotionally and I haven’t slept much.
My friend Cindy and I tried out a new exercise class on Monday followed by coffee that grew cold as we shared our spiritual challenges over the past week. As we talked, she astutely reminded me: the Enemy wants to highlight my failures. I left restored and focused on Jesus. And that night I slept long and deeply.
I am hugely grateful for a handful of girlfriends, my prayer partners, whom I’ve acquired over the years. Most are bible study gals who’ve stuck long after the study ended, and I’ve formed friendships with a few new ladies since joining the team at Timberlake. These are the people I can be real with, people who listen confidentially, offer biblical advice, pray for me (and I for them), and recognize my habit of not giving myself grace. Yet, it would be sad to think that God has nothing more for me. I still need to actively seeking out new relationships. If I’m not moving outward, well … I’m not moving. God has more designed for all of us; we just need to not hold back. Whatever the excuse, it keeps us from the connections that make life better.
It’s time for me to commit to a new Growth Group for fall. I'm signing up today. I need it too much, not to do it. I want this to be my “new normal."
Director of Groups & Care