Simon Peter, Answering the Call

Centuries ago when Jesus walked out of the wilderness after 40 days and nights, his eye fell upon a man who made his living sailing turbulent seas. Simon, commonly known as Peter, was the son of Jona and by vocation was a fisherman. He and his brother Andrew were partners with James and John in the fishing business. Peter, by no means an untested youth when he met Jesus, was married (Mark 1:30) and had pitted his strength against the sea for many years.

Peter’s early home had been at the fishing village of Bethsaida on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee; about the time of his first association with Jesus he and his family moved to Capernaum. The fishing business was apparently going very well since they owned their own boats and employed other men to work them. When Peter spoke of having “left all” to follow Jesus, the Lord never denied that Peter’s sacrifice of temporal possessions was great.

In temperament Peter was impulsive, stern and, until trained by experience, lacking in firmness. Jesus taught and trained Peter at every opportunity. He walked with him in the hills outside Capernaum and sat with him beside the sea. Jesus stayed in Peter’s home, ate at his table, and gave blessings to his family and friends. Peter watched the Son of God cast out devils, heal the sick, and restore the blind. Like us, Peter had many human weaknesses, yet in spite of them he ultimately overcame the temptations of the Adversary and the frailties of the flesh, and faithfully served his Lord as the appointed leader of the Twelve.

Peter’s faith reached heights essentially unequaled in the New Testament. It so surged within him that upon the Lord’s invitation Peter climbed out of his fishing boat and “walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29) This act of faith has never been recorded of any other mortal man.

Despite the miracles, with such rigorous challenges and “hard sayings” in Jesus’ teachings, many followers simply could not endure “and walked no more with Him.” However, as the number of followers dwindled, Peter was the more conspicuous by his presence. He knew no other way and declared, “Lord, … thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:60–68)

With Jesus leading the way, Peter, James, and John ascended “an high mountain” and there witnessed the transfiguration of the Son of God. His face shone as brightly as the sun at noonday and his raiment was as radiant as sunlight itself. Heavenly messengers appeared, bestowing upon this First Presidency every needful key for their ministry. They heard the voice of God declare, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5)

Peter still had many lessons yet to learn in the days ahead. With his brethren he was to receive the Lord’s supper, to hear Jesus pray for their unity, and to discover that one of their number was “a devil.” (John 6:70) Regardless of what lay before him, the transfer of authority was now complete. Endowed with power from on high and armed with certainty of conviction, he descended with Jesus into the valley of the shadow of death. The supporting circle around Jesus continued to get smaller and smaller.

When men came to take Jesus, Peter was restrained by the Lord himself as he offered a defense. He could not go with him, but neither could he flee. Denying that he knew him, Peter stood in the courtyard of the accusers and saw the indignities his Lord and Savior suffered. Then, he did what all repentant men have cause to do. Silently and alone, he “went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) Peter had been so certain that his strength was sufficient for such times and that, if necessary, he could withstand the evil alone.

The Lord [had] said [to Peter], Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And [Peter] said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (Luke 22:31-33)

Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus [then] said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. (Matthew 26:33-34)

But [Peter] spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. (Mark 14:31)

…and so they came for Jesus and…

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)

Still not fully understanding what was to come, Peter watched as they took Jesus, his dear friend, his beloved Savior, away…

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. (John 18:15-16)

Now Peter sat without the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. (Matthew 26:69-73)

And Peter said, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

In the kingdom of God no man’s strength alone is sufficient. This sobering and sorrowing realization—realization that he was not, of himself, capable of what God required—was likely the final ingredient in Peter’s preparation.

It was Peter who held the keys of presidency in Christ’s church. Peter’s bravery was not perfect at first. Three times in the courtyard of the house where the Lord stood trial for His life, Peter denied that he knew Jesus. Yet this incident shows a strength, for Peter and John were the only apostles seen in the den of their enemies.

Peter must be measured by his success in carrying out the instructions of the Lord. He denied that he knew Jesus, but not the truth of the gospel. Peter’s actions both before and after demonstrate clearly his conviction to the Lord. Christ was his friend. Christ entrusted him to lead after His death. Peter watched his Lord, his Savior, his friend suffer and die resisting every desire to reach out and provide immediate rescue.

Peter learned the truth of all he’d been taught by the Lord. The road itself was clearly difficult. Regardless, he carried out the instructions with which he’d been entrusted and served diligently and faithfully as the Lord expected and knew that he would do.

In our service within our homes, in the church or even elsewhere in the world, Christ doesn’t really call the person whom we are today. As in the example of Peter, He calls the person whom we can and must become on our path to perfection. When He calls, have faith and follow.

References:

Read More

Tolerance, Compassion and Offense

“Tolerance is not the same thing as acceptance, and acceptance is not the same thing as an endorsement.” - Larry Alex Taunton, The Atlantic

Such a simple truth…

In this country do we not have the simple right to be offended? Isn’t it okay? Isn’t it enough? Can’t we simply be offended by something someone says or does without becoming intolerant of their right to an opinion or position? Do we really need to silence and punish those who disagree with us or think differently? I’m not talking about any sort of right to protest on someone’s front lawn but simply the right to have personal beliefs and principles and to share them when appropriate.

Why is this relatively simple concept so difficult for so many to understand? I seem to remember guidance and direction from my childhood that is pertinent even in this day and age. After my feelings had been hurt by something someone said to me I was told, “just don’t pay them any mind, they simply don’t know any better.”

It is entirely possible to abhor sin in all it’s forms without hating the sinners themselves. This is very fortunate since we’re all sinners.  Choose compassion and don’t compromise your morals. As a result you will live a happier life and our society as a whole will benefit.

Read More

Just Another Day at Work…

Very much a day like no other. Everything started like a normal Monday but a little after 8:00 am we were coming out of our regular Monday morning meeting and heard the fire alarm going off in the building next door. Shortly thereafter we heard rumors of a gunman followed by announcements to take cover.

Many of us, being Sailors, were looking for ways to help but the right answer was to stay put regardless of what we wanted to do. There was a tremendous police presence the likes of which I’ve never personally seen before.

I visit the cafeteria in Bldg 197 once or twice on most days. I’m not sure what they will do now because I’m not so sure that people are going to want to sit and socialize there any longer. It will definitely be a tough recovery for all involved.

Personally, I’m fine. Yesterday was a long day but I eventually made it home. I didn’t witness any violence myself but just knowing that people with whom I work everyday were going through the horrible events that transpired is rough for me. I’ll be fine but my heart truly goes out to the families that lost love ones, to those injured, and to those who witnessed what happened.

In the days, weeks, and months ahead there will be no limit to the debate. The problem will be attributed to guns in one interview, security posture in another news article, and mental health among many others. From my perspective, the problem will ultimately come down to issues much closer to home and much more personal.

We cannot let the evil that was made manifest yesterday triumph over all that is good in the world. We can’t stop caring about people and turn this nation into a police state where everyone is treated with an equal level of distrust. Security checkpoints, metal detectors, x-ray machines, and armed security are all great but they are intended to catch people who have already made a decision to do something violent. We need to prevent things like this before they ever get to that level.

Situations like this and others have never caused me to believe that slamming the door in the face of gentleman entering the building behind me is the right answer. Access badge scanners are great for tracking people but they are not security measures. This man most likely came into the Navy Yard with hate and anger in his heart and it’s likely that badge scanners and security guards were nothing more than minor annoyances as he was planning his attack.

We all want to find things that can be changed to make us feel more secure and less threatened. That’s okay and perfectly natural but the technology options and brute muscle already mentioned are not what is going to give us the power to feel safe in the world in which we live.

The world in which I’d like to live offers many a “hello,” “good morning,” “thank you,” and “let me give you a hand.” It’s a world where parents rear children in solid homes with a mom and a dad who love and care about each other. It’s a world where parents hold their children responsible for their own actions so that those same children grow up learning to be responsible citizens in the societies in which we live. Children who learn at home how to give selfless service to those around them are far less likely to fall into the weakness of character that leads to these violent actions.

It’s entirely possible that the events of yesterday could’ve been stopped years ago by someone who simply thought to be kind to a young man who needed some help and guidance. I didn’t personally know the man who committed this terrible crime but I do know that no one is born evil. We come into this world with talents and abilities intended to be used for good purposes, the Lord’s purposes.

Daily we are in a battle of good against evil. This battle has been raging on since before we came to this earth and it will certainly continue. Contrary to popular opinion evil will not ultimately triumph. Jesus Christ has already defeated that evil and we must not allow anger and fear to turn us from that which is good and right. We cannot allow our inner light to turn dark as a result of these terrible events.

As we move forward from here ask yourself what sort of world you’d like to live in. Don’t back yourself into a corner and allow fear and anger to control your thoughts and actions. Don’t be so willing to turn over your rights to the state in the belief that they can make you safer. The state can only make attempts to protect us after parents, home, family, and faith have failed.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, church leaders, scout leaders, youth group leaders, and others form the front lines in this war. We are all responsible in building up our youth to be strong in choosing things that are right and worthy. With careful and thoughtful leadership and meaningful guidance we’ll see those youth who need a helping hand and hopefully be able to give enough of ourselves to help keep them from ever making these terrible choices as adults.

I have faith that this can be done. I know however that regardless of our efforts that somewhere in the world the process will fail and terrible things will happen anyway. We do not need to feel defeated by these events. We must instead double our efforts, reach out to those in need, love our neighbors and draw closer as communities. Our strength lies in overcoming the evils of the world and striving for that celestial standard where we all glory together in goodness and righteousness.

Read More