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.


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.

Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

I must be doing something wrong…

Last year, I accepted a position working for the Department of Defense. I had to move to a much higher cost-of-living location, accepted a position for essentially lower pay (once you account for differences in cost of living), have to commute 3 hours everyday just to get to & from work, and have to work harder each day while I’m at work just to keep up than I did in my previous position with a private contractor. Truth be told, the benefits package between the two positions was essentially the same.

Where is this windfall of heavenly pay and benefits I’m supposed to be receiving?  Where are those hours I’m supposed to get to leisurely surf the Internet each day? I’m certainly not going to say that every single day is maximum stress but there are never days where I have the time to just sit & surf for my own entertainment on the government’s dime.

I understand that federal employment crosses into a wide range of private sector fields of work but, for me and many of the professionals I work with, this “fed-bashing” tends to be rather demoralizing. Most of us are doing the best we can to serve those whom we’ve taken an oath to support. We work everyday to provide the best product we can at the lowest possible cost just as we would do if we were working for a private contractor. Work ethic is tied to character and isn’t dependent upon wear you work.

I know that in government service, just as in any other large company, there are people who are overpaid and under-worked. I’ve personally seen them both inside and outside of government service.  The biggest problem I see is that we lump all the different sectors of government service into one big whole and make generalizations that just aren’t true. The different governmental agencies operate differently so, if you want to know the truth, compare the agencies against the public sectors they support.  This will give a better snapshot of how pay and benefits compare between private and public employment.

To my friends who feel that I work too little and get paid too much, I politely say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel I get too many benefits, I also (politely) say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel sequestration is a good idea, I vehemently say you’re wrong. Changes need to be made but this is not the right way to do it. Of all the things our government is sworn to provide its citizens, defense is one that was specifically called out by our founding fathers. Weakening our nation’s defense when the world is so unstable is simply wrong. I pray that (soon) wiser heads will prevail.

Source: Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012 is pretty much complete…only a few more days until the New Year.  Hard to believe that only a few days ago we were all once again anticipating the end of the world.

Anyway, it was an interesting season this year.  For those to whom I have not yet reached out this year I apologize.  During the course of this edition of the Christmas holidays I managed to chip a tooth (and thankfully have it repaired), waged a vicious war against a 101 degree fever while simultaneously fighting an over aggressive sinus infection, and completed an exciting and stimulating 40 hour training session for work.  Considering that I don’t get sick very often this just proves that I have impeccable timing.

Don’t misunderstand, I did have a great holiday…time with the wife and kids, time with the dogs, and days of telework with no commutes.  I know that I am very blessed and have so very many things for which to be thankful in my life.  I’m not so much complaining as I’m acknowledging that, although I feel like I didn’t really accomplish anything over the holidays, I was actually able to work in a few miracles by simply finding time that was special amongst all the challenges.