Sermon Notes 2.2.2020

2-2-20            Sermon Notes        “Love Lifted Me (and put me back in the boat)                   #Connect2020
Several years back, John Ortberg wrote a book entitled, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.  I love that book!  It’s about stepping out of the comfort zone – taking risks…  He tells a great story in this book about a time he and his wife took a ride in a hot-air balloon.  The balloon party consisted of the Ortbergs, the pilot, and another couple.
Well John had always assumed that the baskets hanging below the hot-air balloons were about “chest high.”  No sweat.  HOWEVER – the basket on this particular balloon came up only to their knees.  Yikes!  Some of you are starting to sweat even now!  One good lurch would be enough to throw someone over the side!  So John says that he held on with “grim determination and white knuckles.”  His wife was even more afraid than he was.  She doesn’t like heights in the first place.  So she kept a death grip on the sides of the basket and would not look down for any reason.  I can just imagine what she was feeling!
About this time, John decided he would like to get to know the kid who was flying the balloon.  He asked the young man how he got started flying hot-air balloons.  He knew they were in trouble when the young man started to speak. 
“Dude,” he said, “It’s like this… I used to spend most of my time surfing (they were in California) and I totally got into hot-air balloon flying by accident.  One day I was driving around in my truck, ok? And, like, I’d had waaaaayyyy too much to drink the night before…so I crashed my truck.  My brother was in the truck with me, and like, he got injured and stuff.  He still limps a little.  Anyways…  So to give my brother something to do while he was recovering from the crash, we would, like, watch these balloons, and I thought ‘Whoa…no way!’ so I thought it would be gnarly to fly one…and here I am!  Oh, and if things get a little choppy on the way down, don’t be surprised.  I’ve never flown this particular balloon before, so I’m not exactly sure how it’s gonna handle the descent.”
John’s wife leaned over to him and whispered in his ear (with feeling), “You mean to tell me we are a thousand feet up in the air with an unemployed surfer who started flying hot-air balloons because he got drunk, crashed a pickup, injured his brother, and has never been in this one before and doesn’t know how to bring it down?!”
Then the wife of the other couple looked at John Ortberg and spoke the only words either of them were to utter throughout the entire flight.  “You’re a pastor,” she said.  “Do something religious!” 
“So,” Ortberg writes, “I took up an offering.”
But seriously… we have all probably felt what it is like to be totally out of our comfort zone, and wondering how it is going to turn out.  Maybe the disciples felt that way when they were in a boat…in a storm…thinking they were seeing a ghost!  Here’s the story from Matthew’s gospel…
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  (Matt. 14: 22-33  NRSV)
Jesus calls us away from the shore…and sometimes out on the water, right?  Sometimes a step of faith is the only step we can take!  Peter took that step.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t have problems.  Wind…waves…storm.  He started to sink.  “Lord, save me!”  And Love lifted him!
There’s a lesson to be learned here about stepping out…having faith…water-walking.  There’s a lesson to be learned about becoming distracted by the “winds and waves” and “taking our eyes off the Lord.”  For sure.  But don’t miss the often-overlooked lesson from v. 32.  “When they got into the boat…”  After Peter walked on water, sank, and was lifted up…  Jesus led him back to the boat and they got in it…with the other disciples…

During the month of February, we will be celebrating how LOVE LIFTS US!  We will approach this from the angle of what LOVE does with us after it lifts us.  We not only need to connect with God, but also to connect with each other! 
See you Sunday,
Pastor Sam

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