– Welcome to the NCLF Network Site!!

August 20, 2016 - Leave a Response

Native Christian Leadership is one of the greatest needs within our Native communities today.  Individuals who will be Godly examples impacting their communities on all levels  in life: in their faith communities, on the tribal council, in their homes and on the job.  We need Native Christian men, women and youth who reflect the excellencies of their Creator, God!

The purpose of this site is to encourage, equip and empower  Native Christian leaders of today and the generations to come.  It is also with this intent that we want to keep you informed of training opportunities,  updated of current Christian Native resources, and engaged in networking opportunities with other like minded Christian leaders.

Welcome to the Native Christian Leadership Forum Network!!!

Happy blogging!

6 Common Perspectives on Native Americans

June 6, 2016 - Leave a Response

Caricatures, Perspectives, and Reflections

 

I have met a lot of people with various perspectives on Native Americans. After a life-time of living among non-Indian Americans, and being one myself, I feel somewhat confident in my knowledge of what non-Indian Americans believe. Although not exhaustive, the list below provides a good cross-section of perspectives I have encountered during this past year in particular. I would like to say that they all are exaggerated caricatures, but I would have to cross my fingers behind my back. The reality is that many of us hold to a combination of these perspectives. The challenge for all of us is to read through the list and see where we find our reflection, and ask the Lord to give us His perspective through the lens of the gospel.

 

Six Common Perspectives on Native Americans

 

    1. Relatively Oblivious – This person has little to no knowledge of Native Americans today. This person has never met a Native or at least has no knowledge of meeting one. This person doesn’t not know that reservations still exist, yet when they learn of that fact wonder if Indians still live in tipis. I have even met people who thought the Indians were all gone.
    2.  

    3. History buff/antagonist perspective – This person read a lot of American history and is very eager to point out the sins of Native Americans by educating you on Indian attacks on white settlers. Recent court cases ruling in favor of a particular tribe that resulted in restitution are often cited.
    4.  

    5. Hollywood-informed, sympathetic perspective – You generally cheer for the underdog. You saw some movies like Indian in the Cupboard and Dances with Wolves. You have actually memorized the epic scene with Wind in His Hair’s emotional farewell to Dances with Wolves. Just thinking about it, you really want to watch it again. Go ahead and watch it here.
    6.  

    7. Hollywood-informed, unsympathetic perspective – This person saw a lot of John Wayne-type westerns and believes the narrative that the Indians were irrational, blood-thirsty savages who were getting in the way of the progress of American civilization. “The only good Injuns are dead.”
    8.  

      Blue lenses seem to create an overwhelming sense of the proverbial “white guilt,” which can only be relieved by creating new tenants of political correctness enforced by yet more big government solutions. Oddly, the blue-lens perspective is just as paternalistic as our forefathers on both sides of the aisle in Washington, which has caused most of our problems today.

       

      Red lenses have a tendency to reject anything that smacks of political correctness. Typical mantras in this camp include: “Disband the reservations, tribes are socialistic anyway. Tax the casinos. Build that oil pipeline through their land, and frack, baby, frack! It’s all about jobs. Make them assimilate! Go Redskins!” The red-lens view often sees reservations as welfare states attributing all the social ills such as high addiction, crime, and suicide rates to the dependence on government subsidies. Although it recognizes the tragedies of the past, it believes that the best thing to do for Native Americans is to disband the reservations and take them off government “hand-outs.”

       

    9. Politically-driven perspectives – This person sees life mostly through political goggles, which usually have either red or blue lenses.
    10.  

    11. Problem solved.Pro-Western, seemingly biblically Reformed perspective – This perspective is related to the politically driven perspective, but now mixed with just enough theology to sound biblical.
    12.  

Foundational tenets include:

  1. God ordains whatsoever comes to pass,
  2. This is a nation based on Judeo-Christian principles, and
  3.  Providence has shown that God judged the Indians using a Christian/Western nation. Therefore, the U.S. was justified in its conquering the land and Natives. There are multiple variations of this view.

 

More can be added to the list, but these common perspectives are the most frequent I encounter when talking with people about our mission to Native America.

 

Two Views and the Truth about Native Americans

 

We should not subscribe to nor defend the romanticized “noble savage” caricature that is still in vogue today. That in itself is still another a stereotype that is not helping anyone. Nor should we accept to the blanket term ‘savage’ for the clear majority of Native American tribes throughout history. Most Indian nations were civil and had highly structured societies (ask Benjamin Franklin where he got the idea for our Constitution) and were known for their hospitality by many Europeans. Regardless of the most noble things Native Americans have achieved, they, like the rest of us, are sinners – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). They still are in need of the saving power of Jesus and the love of our heavenly Father, not the paternalistic control of earthly kingdoms cloaked in a robe of self-righteousness.

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What Do Women Want?

October 19, 2015 - Leave a Response

In a cartoon by David Sipress, a man goes to the perfume counter and says to the lady clear, “I’d like to buy my wife a present. What do women want?”

Like this man, you have chosen to live with a women.  She has placed you in the center of her hopes, her dreams, and her heart’s desires.

Do you know your wife’s hopes, dreams, and heart’s desires?  Do you know what women want?

A wise man of old wrote a list of things women want.  It is not really a list.  Is is a song in praise of “a noble wife” found in Proverbs 31 in the Bible.  The wife in this song is not only noble, but also happy, because she is doing the things most women want to do.

Women want to be valued and respected.  “Her worth is far above rubies” (31:10).  She is not only good; she is “good for something.”

Women want to be trusted.  “The heart of her husband safely trusts her” (31:11).  No amount of perfume can restore the spirit of a woman who receives jealousy or mistrust from her husband, boss, or other significant people in her life.

Women want to help others be successful, especially their husbands.  “She does him good and not evil…her husband is known in the gates” (31:12,23). She feels good when the people she cares about are respected and valued.

Women want to work with their hands.  “She…willingly works with her hands” (31:12,17).  This is no reflection on a woman’s mind.   A Woman’s hands are also marvelous instruments, created to work wonders with fabric, food, paint, music, healing arts, and other useful things.

Women want to feed and nurture their families.  “She…provides food for her household” (31:14-15).  She will starve herself if necessary to feed her children and husband.  She also loves to give freely to others from the emotional and spiritual abundance of her own soul.

Women want to spend, earn, and manage money.  “She considers a field and buys it..She makes linen garments and sells them” (31:16, 24).  Women who are creative and resourceful want to receive fair compensation for their work.

Women want to be help the needy.  “She…reaches out her hands to the needy”  (31:20).  Her naturally tender heart is touched by the needs of those less fortunate.  It is not by chance that Mother Theresa, the world’s best-known humanitarian was a woman.

Women want to be pretty.  “Her clothing is fine linen and purple” (31:21-22).  Her clothing makes a statement about her character.  Perhaps this is why the fashion industry makes more mony from women that from men.

Women want to display strength and dignity.  “Strength and honor are her clothing.” (31:25).  She wants to be poised to handle whatever life sends her.

Women want to hear and be heard.  “She opens her mouth with wisdom”  (31:26).  Our world needs a woman’s feminine intuition to balance masculine logic.  A woman is wounded when people sneer at what she says or when they question her intelligence.

Women want to be recognized and praised for their inner qualities.  “Her husband…he praises her”  (31:28-30).  The ancient Greeks and Romans wrote that women lacked the excellence of soul that men had.  The wise man who wrote this son in Proverbs 31 was clearly not a Greek or Roman.

So this woman is happy.  Is it because of her own good choices and efforts?  Partly, but it also has something to do with the significant men in her life.  Likely she had a father who encouraged her finer qualities and provided resources for their development.  Now she has a husband who is providing the same care.

But women who have been crushed and wounded in spirit may be very unlike this noble woman.  What can you do if you are married to one like this?

Why not start giving her what other men may have withheld from her: admiration, praise, trust, and kindness.  Give unconditionally.  Be patient: change takes time.  Keep trusting God, from who all noble qualities come.  Like a flower bud, your wife will bloom in due season as she receives the care she needs.

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Taken from Today’s Native Father. ( http://www.nymministries.org )

 

2010 US Census AIAN Statistics

June 4, 2015 - Leave a Response

American Indian Alaska Native

Population Statistics

 
 

5.2 million

As of the 2010 Census, the nation’s population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race. They made up 1.7 percent of the total population. Of this total, 2.9 million were American Indian and Alaska Native only, and 2.3 million were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.
 
 
8.6 million

The projected population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, on July 1, 2050. They would comprise 2 percent of the total population.
 
 
1.1 million

Increase in the nation’s American Indian and Alaska Native population between the 2000 Census and 2010 Census. The population of this group increased by 26.7 percent during this period compared with the overall population growth of 9.7 percent.
 
 
723,225

The American Indian and Alaska Native population in California as of the 2010 Census. California was followed by Oklahoma (482,760) and Arizona (353,386).
 
 
15

Number of states with more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents as of the 2010 Census. These states were California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Washington, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota and Illinois.
 
 
19.5%

The proportion of Alaska’s population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native as of the 2010 Census, the highest rate for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (12.9 percent), New Mexico (10.7 percent) and South Dakota (10.1 percent).
 
 
29.0 Median Age

Median age as of April 1, 2010, in years, for those who are American Indian and Alaska Native, and no other race. This compares with a median age of 37.2 for the population as a whole.
 
 

Discipleship Advice

June 10, 2012 - Leave a Response

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples (a mature and disciplined Christian) of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

The following suggestions are designed to enable you to help in fulfilling His command:

 

1. Make yourself (your time, talents, and treasures) available to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).

 

2. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to fill and control your own life. (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18)

 

3. Prepare yourself in God’s Word. (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17).

 

4. Have a preliminary meeting with your disciple to discuss the commitments involved, reviewing
the materials, establishing a time and quiet place to meet, etc. Once a week for 1 1/2 hours
generally is ideal.

 

5. In your first Discipling meeting, share the two-fold goal of discipling. Have them memorize these
with the verses:

A. Spiritual growth and maturity (Colossians 2:6-7)

 

B. Spiritual multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2)

 

 

6. Remember to always keep Jesus Christ pre-eminent in your times of fellowship and discussion.

 

7. Be willing and available to become involved in the lives of others (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12;
Colossians 1:28-29).

 

8. Develop a genuine friendship with those whom you are discipling (phone, invite to dinner,
fellowships, activities, hobbies, etc.). Remember, relationship is more important than content.

 

9. Be sure they have a modern translation New Testament or Bible. Encourage them to start
reading the Gospel of John (three times) then the entire New Testament (three times).

 

10. Take them through Life Builder’s four-part “Foundations” lessons or other bible study guide.

 

11. Review scriptural assurance of eternal life and a personal relationship with Christ.
(1 John 5:11-13, John 1:12).

 

12. Review the “Four Talks” for spiritual growth and have them memorize the entire “Wheel” with the
verses. (See next sheet)

 

A. I talk with God by prayer and praise (Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 13:15)

 

B. God talks with me by His Word (2 Timothy 2:15; I Peter 2:2)

 

C. I talk with the other Christians by fellowship (1John 1:3; Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

D. I talk with non-Christians by witnessing (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20)

 

13. Take them through one of Life Builders “Destined” study guides, “Real Faith” or some more
thorough Bible Study Guide.

 

14. Give them other Christ-centered materials to study (Bible study guides, books, videos, CD’s).

 

15. Encourage them to memorize God’s Word. (Psalm 119:9-11).

 

16. Pray with them and for them to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit, their family needs,
work, ministry, finances, etc.

 

17. Encourage them to share Christ with others (Luke 8:39).

A. Teach them how to prepare and present their personal testimony (use the Testimony
sheets on pages 4-5).

 

B. Teach them how to share the 4 Spiritual Laws or other gospel booklet.

 

C. Teach them to use this Discipling sheet with their disciples.

 

18. Bring them to church, Bible study group, a fellowship or a discipling group.

 

19. If possible, network them into a local or international mission activity or other ministry
opportunity.

 

20. Finally, continue to fellowship and to study God’s Word together on topics such as husband-wife
relationships, raising children, obedience, finances, character qualities, etc.

 

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You may purchase additional copies from  Wayne Shuart • 3017 E. Stella Lane • Phoenix, AZ 85016

wayne@PowerPackInfo.com

http://www.PowerPackInfo.com

© 2006 Shuart Development Company

In God’s Waiting Room

June 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

How to survive when you and God are in different time zones.

 
 
“I can’t figure out why you keep having these headaches, Mrs. Carpenter. I think we need to rule out the possibility of a brain tumor. I’d like to schedule you for an MRI.”

Those words from our doctor ushered my wife, Dionne, and me into a period of intense stress and outright fear. She cried out in her sleep one night, demanding, “Am I going to die?” I lay awake next to her, praying.

More than anything else, we simply waited.

First we waited for the MRI appointment. Less than a week away, it still felt like forever. We slept very little the night before, rose early that morning, and drove 20 minutes to the hospital. A maze of hallways brought us to the x-ray lab. The nurse led Dionne to a room housing the sophisticated equipment that would take a picture of the curves and convolutions of her brain and reveal any intrusive growth.

She lay there for an hour, her head and torso swallowed by the machine, waiting.

I waited outside. In the waiting room.

Then we drove home to wait for the results. We were limp with relief when we heard hours later that there was no tumor.

During this same week my friend Mike was dying of cancer. Eighteen months of waiting, of praying and hoping, of chemotherapy and radiation, finally came down to a few days, and then a few hours. I sat by his hospital bed, held his hand, told him I loved him. I hugged his wife, talked to his teenaged son. We waited.

Finally, Mike woke from his pain in the presence of God.

 God’s Waiting Room

That same month Dionne and I came to a decision. We had prayed for God’s guidance for nearly a year. Finally we were sure: He was calling us from the pastorate to a church-planting ministry. And that would mean a move, resigning from the church we had started four years before, selling our home, buying a new one, uprooting the kids. It would also mean raising a substantial portion of my salary. And the logical timetable was to do all of this in six months. Six months of frenetic activity. But also, six months of waiting.

During this half-year period, I came to realize that all the experiences of waiting that piled upon us were not just waiting for doctors or lab techs or realtors or potential supporters. We were really in God’s waiting room.

Scripture says a lot about waiting on the Lord.

There is encouragement for the present:

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield” (Ps. 33:20). “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Ps. 40:1).

There is instruction about what to do, or not do, while you’re waiting:

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart” (Ps. 27:14). “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Ps. 37:34). “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you” (Prov. 20:22).

Other promises point to the future:

“In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation'” (Is. 25:9). “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Is. 40:31, NASB).

Waiting on God is a lot like other kinds of waiting. As such, it is often difficult. The psalmist said, “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Ps. 69:3, NASB). I have felt that way, too.

In Hebrew, wait comes from a root word meaning to be taut, like a stretched-out rope. It’s probably related to the verb “to be in labor”!

What makes waiting such labor is not having control. Waiting is about uncertainty, about the unknown. It’s easy to be fearful, stressed, when you don’t know what’s coming next.

Maybe that’s why waiting usually has negative associations. What is a “waiting room” but a place where you languish before the doctor or dentist will see you? Frustration and fear are built into the idea.

If you’ve ever waited to get the results of a lab test, or to hear whether you passed an exam, or were granted a loan, or were accepted to college, or got the job, you know that waiting can be nerve-wracking.

Nowhere do we see so clearly the disparity between God’s ways and ours as when we are waiting on Him. Waiting is mysterious, just as God Himself is mysterious. His timing is not our timing, His ways not our ways.

God’s Timetable

As we planned our move, a timetable emerged. I would finish my pastorate on August 31 and begin in the new community on September 1.

It seemed obvious we would need to sell our home by the end of June, giving us time and some equity money to find a new home by fall. Then our two boys could begin their new school on time, Dionne could search for a local job, and I would avoid a 300-mile commute.

It also seemed obvious our fund-raising efforts should be completed by summer’s end, since by September my salary would depend upon a team of supporters.

Our house went on the market in early April. Fresh in our minds were stories of friends who had sold their homes within a week or two. One man told us, “God is the best realtor you’ll ever have.”

I also began to seek the financial undergirding for our church-planting ministry from individuals, churches, and institutions.

Weeks passed, and then months. The end of May came and our house had not sold. June, July, August, September, and October passed, still with no sale.

Our support began to trickle in. I applied to a Christian foundation for a grant. All the signs were positive for receiving major financial help. At the end of an interview, I was led to believe approval of our request was only a formality. The interviewer promised to contact me within a few days.

He never called. Many weeks later I discovered that our request had been denied. I was never totally sure of the reason.

Our home finally sold in November, five months after the “obvious” deadline. And our support finally was underwritten. But not in my timing.

Why did God delay? I don’t know.

I do know that waiting showed me, more clearly than ever, how dependent I am upon Him. I was humbled by the glaring truth that no plan of mine can succeed apart from His will. When our timetable went out the window, I saw God continue to provide for us. He remained faithful, and at the same time proved He didn’t need to do it my way.

Waiting on God exposes our true relationship with Him. Times of blessing make it easy to be spiritual, grateful, at peace.

But when we wait on Him, when He upends our plans, rearranges our schedules, and seems not to have heeded our complaints or taken notice of our needs, we begin to see how deep, or how shallow, our faith really is.

Waiting then becomes a great opportunity to grow. It is one of God’s tools to shape us into the image of Jesus.

How to Cooperate

The discipline of waiting is not easy, but there are some things we can do to aid the growth process. Here are some suggestions about how best to cooperate with God as you wait:

First, realize that waiting and worship overlap. Keep expressing trust and praise. At the heart of worship is forgetting about your circumstances and focusing on the character of God. And that’s what waiting is about, too.

It does enormous good to praise the Lord as you wait for Him. Not to butter Him up, or to try to hasten His answers to your prayers, but because He deserves it.

Second, be honest about expressing your emotions to God. But remember, God doesn’t owe you an explanation.

Honesty is essential to any relationship. If you don’t express your feelings to your spouse, your marriage can become artificial or distant.

Without honesty, your walk with God can degenerate into hypocritical pretending. So if you’re angry with God, don’t be afraid to tell Him. If you’re scared or confused, tell Him. Obviously God knows the truth anyway.

But remember that usually He does not tell us why He has chosen one course, or one timetable, over another. Years later we may understand the wisdom of it. But there is still a mystery as we stand in the shadow of His sovereignty.

Third, choose to think of waiting in images of anticipation, rather than images of dread.

Consider two events: Christmas Day and dental surgery. You have to wait for both. One you anticipate, the other you dread.

Too often we place waiting on God in the “dread” category.

Remember that the One on whom you are waiting is your Heavenly Father, who has your best interest at heart. Then your impatience should become anticipation: you are excited to see what He will do!

Then waiting for Him is like looking forward to the visit of a loved one you haven’t seen for a while. It’s like waiting for the birth of a baby. It’s like waiting for Christmas Day, when you unwrap the presents given by those who love you.

Fourth, be proactive, but beware of the “Ishmael” syndrome.

Remember Sarah and Abraham, and their attempt to help God accomplish His will. Their headstrong action brought Hagar into the picture, Ishmael was born, and heartache was the result for everyone.

Run from the idea that you have to take matters into your own hands. But waiting need not be passive. Your waiting on God is an opportunity for faithfulness and service. Make sure you are obeying Him to the best of your knowledge and ability.

Finally, place your expectations in God’s character, rather than in specific circumstances.

My most discouraging times have been when I was sure I knew God’s will. I prayed, believed, expected . . . and was bewildered when God did not do it my way.

Our hope must not be in circumstances, individuals, or institutions. Our hope must be in God.

Remember to focus your expectations on His character. He is a God of faithfulness, wisdom, kindness, and power. So you can always expect His dealings with you to be faithful, wise, kind, and powerful.

And you can confidently hope in His promises to provide, guide, and bless. But as you claim those promises, you must still allow Him to choose how and when He will keep them.

The End Result

Our period in God’s waiting room has given us a deeper confidence in His provision. The delay in selling our home led, months later, to a surprise blessing: we were able to purchase a bigger, better home in the new area. Had the Lord followed our timetable, we would have received less than His best.

He continues to surprise us. He provided a job for Dionne two miles from our new home. The foundation that had denied our application for a grant awarded us one a year later—without our asking for it!

We know, now more than ever, that God’s waiting room leads to the blessing of knowing Him more intimately, trusting Him more completely, and serving Him more humbly.

“The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:25–26).


Article written by Jim Carpenter, Church Planter, writer for Navigator’s Discipleship Journal. His favorite verse is 2 Cor. 2:14 because, “it describes God’s perfect leadership of our lives as we seek to follow Him and influence others for the Kingdom.”

Freedom From Worry:

June 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus


 
 
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
 
 
What is the most frequent topic Jesus spoke about during His ministry? What was the number one thing that He addressed more than anything? Was it heaven, was it hell, maybe it was sin? No, the number one thing Jesus spoke about to his disciples and to us is that of worry. We are more like the disciples than we might care to think. Remember the storm on the Sea of Galilee? The men were experienced fishermen. They had seen many storms during their lifetime. They knew that storms could suddenly come up unexpectedly and that they were dangerous and in some cases, life threatening. Suddenly and without warning, a fierce storm arose and the waves began crashing over their boat and they thought that they were all going to drown. But this storm was the worst that they had ever seen. Yet at the end of the boat or the stern, there was Jesus fast asleep. They thought how could he sleep when they were about to perish in the storm? They were out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee and there was no way that they could swim back to shore.
 
 
Matthew 8:24-27 describes the event: “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
 
 
Just before this event, the disciples had seen Jesus heal a paralyzed and suffering Centurion’s servant from a distance, seen Him cure a man of leprosy, cast out many demons from several people, and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Already they were terrified and worried that they were about to perish. Yet Jesus is fast asleep at the stern of the boat. The stern is the area of the ship where the boat is steered which indicates that he was in control of where that boat was going. When they woke Jesus up, He then rebuked the storm including the winds and the waves and immediately it was calm. During the fierce storms on the Sea of Galilee, often it took hours for the wind and waves to calm, yet at Jesus’ command, at that split second, all was calm. Jesus rebuked the disciples too for their lack of faith. And the disciples were terrified because they had not imagined that someone could make even the winds and waves obey Him. The disciples had taken their eyes off of Jesus and were looking only at their circumstances.
 
 
 
Jesus Walks on Water, Peter Sinks
 
 
 
In Matthew 14, Jesus walked on water and Peter thought, hey if Jesus could do it, perhaps he could too but there was yet another storm with winds and waves and the little boat was being tossed about. Read what happened in Matthew 14:22-32:
 
 
“Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. 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!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
 
 
Once again, the disciples and Peter in particular, had doubts to Jesus’ ability. Peter walked on water; truly a miracle but it only happened when Peter kept his eyes on Jesus. The moment Peter looked at the circumstances; the winds, the waves, and the water, he began to sink and had to cry out to Jesus. The lesson is that when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus he began to have doubts and he let circumstances terrify him. But when he kept his focus on Jesus, he could do miraculous things.
 
 
 
 Freedom From Worry
 
 
 
When we keep our eyes on Jesus we have nothing to worry about for He knows our every need. During such times of uncertainty like job losses, home mortgage failures, stock market drops, recessions, droughts, floods, and sickness, Jesus is never caught off guard or caught by surprise. He knows humans propensity to worry about things. When we worry about the future we are borrowing trouble from tomorrow and ruining today. Remember that I said Jesus spoke more about worry than heaven, hell, or sin than anything else? It is because He knew that we look more at our circumstances than we look at Him. But when we keep our eyes of Jesus, we know that we can depend upon Him for He is the God of nature, natural events, and yes, our circumstances too. Matthew 6:25-35 should give us all the reassurance we need to know that He is always in control no matter what things look like.
 
 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
 
 
Tomorrow is what keeps people awake at night. We just can’t turn it off sometimes because we are simply not keeping our eyes of Jesus. This may be because we are trusting in our own resources, our own money, and our own portfolio. But there is no one who has more resources that the God of the universe. Psalm 50:10 should remind us of Who has the most resources of all: “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” When Jesus said in John 3:16b that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” the word “believe” means to trust upon, to rely on, to depend upon. That’s what “believe in” means. He has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5) and will never, ever caste us away (John 6:37), we must believe Him at His word. The strength of your faith is only as strong as the object of your faith and since Jesus is God and God can not lie, He will not leave you orphans (John 14:8).