There's Something About Peter

Tertullian (A.D. 155-250), the early Christian historian, wrote that “Peter endured a passion like that of the Lord.” Peter’s name is mentioned roughly 200 times in the New Testament. He began his vocational career as a small business owner along with his brother Andrew and their associates, James and John. His fishing enterprise was abruptly cut short, perhaps in a mid-career sort of crisis, when he met Jesus. That encounter changed everything for Peter.Peter became one of only a handful of important eyewitnesses to the life and legacy of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only did Peter’s passion change from fishing for food to shaping and discipling men and women, but Peter’s own life was transformed—changed from the inside out.  Perhaps this is precisely why Peter is so concerned with the inner-traits of a would-be leader and outlines for us the important inner-markers that are necessary to living successfully and finishing well. Peter knows about the work before the work.Luke, the medical doctor and 1st church historian, tells us that Peter was the leader, second to none, of the rapidly spreading church.  It was Peter, not Paul, who first realized that the message of Jesus was intended for people outside of the Jewish faith.[1] He was a persuasive preacher par excellence; a formidable thinker about life, faith, and leadership; and a passionate defender of the faith against the criticisms and persecution that threatened the expanding church. In the end, Peter was martyred for his participation in the greatest movement the world has ever known. According to legend, he was crucified upside down. The world’s final assessment of him was that he got it all backwards.On the practical side Peter was married and his wife even accompanied him on some of his journeys.[2] Peter was a family man caring for his mother-in-law[3] and brother Andrew. He knew well the attempts of seeking to balance a life with the pressures of a small business against the competing demands from a family. Peter’s proximity to Jesus is clearly seen as he was present during many of Jesus’ major miracles, including Jesus walking on water, and what is known as the Transfiguration. Peter was witness to Jesus’ remarkable ability to perform miracles thus foreshadowing the miracles he himself would be doing later as seen in the book of Acts. Luke tells us that Peter had such power that people scrambled to stand in his literal shadow as he walked by.[4] This kind of charisma, influence, and leadership make Peter worthy of our examination. It ought to tell us something.[1] See Acts 10.[2] I Cor. 9:5; I Peter 5:13[3] Mark 1:29[4] See Acts 5 for this story.From my latest book Inside Job: Doing The Work Within The Work (Due for release June, 2015 by InterVarsity Press)

The Life and Death of Marriage

We are about ready to lead 85 couples into the greatest mystery of life and that is the relationship between a man and woman in marriage.  Marriage is a sacred tool used by God to revolutionize the human heart--the heart of two people who join together in marriage.  There are issues for the single person to work through, but the issues of marriage brings to single souls together and in the mystery of the journey, the two become one.Tonight, we will give a talk focusing on this theme:  Closing the Gap. In every marriage gaps form which widen and separate the two thirsty souls and there are no exceptions. I'm going to outline five forces which seem determined to push couples apart rather than bring them together. The five I will explore are:

  1. The busyness of life and the residual affect on marriages.
  2. The unresolved issues of the past. Every person in the marriage brings dirty laundry to the marriage and when the baggage is big, the problems are bigger!
  3. A common but profound mis-understanding about what authentic intimacy is and looks like. True intimacy is defined this way: INTO-ME-See. And because of our fear of letting this happen. We live isolated, disconnected and alone in the marriage.
  4. The fact that most couples live out their marriage only with a horizontal understanding of each other and void of a vertical one. Marriage is sacred and their is no secular space within any marriage.
  5. Our tendency in marriage is to forget that the human heart has four chambers and all four chambers need to be opened in marriage. The fourth chamber is where the secrets of the past, the lies of the present and the longings of the future reside. As my mentor poet, Mary Oliver has told us, "The Heart has many dungeons. Bring the light. Bring the light!"  How  we need the light of Jesus to help a marriage really function the way that God intended.

We'd appreciate the prayers of our all of our readers and friends as we lead these 85 couples into the great mystery of their relationships and as we descend into the fourth chamber of the husband's heart and the wife's soul.It's an noble task we're about to undertake and it's not an easy assignment at all!We are in Baltimore, MD at Central Presbyterian Church.