In this message, we learn that when we walk on the water, that’s when we actually live. Jesus’ church never stops walking on water.
Alright! Good morning. I am so glad that you’re here. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. If this is your first time, we want to welcome you. We want to welcome everybody over at the venue. Will you give them a round of applause and tell them we’re glad they’re here as well?
We love you. We had a great weekend here last weekend. If you weren’t here with us, what we did is we gave everybody one of these shirts and we said that you are Valley Creek Church. That you are a Jesus focused, spirit filled, life-giving people. That Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to a wide life. And when we’re planted in the house of the Lord we will flourish. That’s why this is green. And so we had so many people here last weekend that we ran out of shirts. And unfortunately, you are the 11:15 crowd. So you are some of the ones that we ran out of sizes on. But we’ve got a whole bunch more in this week. So when service is over, if you didn’t get one last weekend or you weren’t here last weekend, go out in the atrium and get one, because every time you wear this shirt what I want you to remember – we talked about it last week – is that you are Valley Creek Church.
You are Valley Creek Church. You are a part of something bigger than yourselves. When you’re planted, you will flourish. And that God wants us to turn the world upside down. And every time you put it on I want you to know, you are accepted, you are wanted, and you are loved. You are Valley Creek Church. Okay? So if you didn’t get one, make sure you get one. I’ve been hearing great stories and seeing pictures of kids wearing them to school and people wearing them out to business and in the supermarkets. It’s just a great conversation. And you can share the gospel with the people. Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to a wide life. Do you want to flourish? Yes. Yes is the answer.
Okay. [Laughs] So that’s where we did give one. Second thing, real quick. When you came in you got one of these cards. Our second live-recording worship album; it releases on September 8th. Okay? September 8th –
It’s amazing. It’s 12 songs, all original, that our guys wrote. And they aren’t just these guys’ songs. They’re our family songs. These songs are our family anthems. They contain the theology of what we believe. It’s really the last two years of journey that we’ve been on together as a church are kind of captured and contained within these songs.
And so I want to make sure – I rarely do this, but I want everybody to make sure you get a copy because you need it washing over your mind, washing it over your heart, bringing you into the presence of God, because there are our family songs. And so here’s what I want to ask you to do. I rarely ever do anything like this, but I want to ask you to do this. Right now you can preorder on iTunes. If you preorder on iTunes, you instantly get one of the songs, and then on September 8th it will auto-populate and will fill up the rest of it. And what I want to ask you to do is, I want to ask everybody to buy one copy on iTunes, because what happens is all of the preorders, all add up and then on September 8th they all come to sales on that day. And what happens is, if you have enough sales, what it will do is that it will chart the album. And when the album gets charted, it will expose it to people who don’t know anything about Valley Creek Church. And they will be exposed to the message that’s contained within our music. Our music will always go farther than our words will ever be able to travel.
And so that’s why we want to expose it to people that know nothing about who we are, because we want them to understand that we are a Jesus focused, spirit filled, life-giving people and that Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to a wide life. Okay? So if you can do that, let’s make it number one. Okay? I think it was like number nine before this service. Let’s make it number one. You can do it. I downloaded one. We had Coleen do one. We did one for the kids. [Laughs] I mean, it’s just worth it.
And here’s the deal. I may or may not already have a copy that my daughter has been listening. May or may have not been listening to at home, running around the house and singing. Okay? I have to have done that, so I can tell you it’s good, because then it’s truth when I tell you it’s amazing and you want to get a copy. Okay?
Alright. If you’ve got a Bible, Matthew Chapter 14 – we are in the series called ‘Upside Down Church.’ And we’re talking about the church that can turn the world upside down. We said last week that before we can turn the world upside down our view or our thinking of the church has to be turned upside down.
And the theme verse for this series is Acts 17:6 – “Those men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” Those men – the disciples, the church – have come here and they’ve turned the world upside down. The only thing the first century world knew about the church was everywhere the church went the world turned upside down. Everywhere the church went, things show and new norms were created and realities were subverted. Things were torn down. Things were built up. People were set free. And when people are set free, everything changes. The world knew that the church was destroying the works of the devil and releasing the kingdom of God, turning the world upside down. And yet if we’re honest, very few of us have ever had an experience with a church like that. To us, church is marginalized, kind of irrelevant. Maybe it’s religion. Off in the corner, very powerless in our minds. Well, what we’re trying to do in this series is change the way we think, so we can change the experience that we have, because the church was created to turn the world upside down.
And so Matthew 14, starting in Verse 22 – familiar story, but we’re going to take a different angle on it. Let’s read it together. It says, “Immediately Jesus made his 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. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” So the disciples are in a boat by themselves, in the lake, and a storm shows up. “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.” Jesus is walking on water. How? Because when you’re the lord of all creation, you don’t have to submit to creation. Creation has to submit to you. He’s the lord of all creation. That means he can walk on water or he can swim in a mountain. He can do whatever he wants. Creation has to submit to him. “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and they 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.” Okay, picture it. Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray. He sends the disciples in a boat. They go out into the lake. A storm shows up. It’s starting to come against the disciples. Jesus comes, walking on the water. And the disciples are in the boat and they see Jesus, and at first they’re afraid. And then Peter cries out. He’s like, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says, “Okay Peter, come. Come, do the impossible. Come, follow me into the supernatural. Come and go where no one else is willing to go. Come.”
So Peter takes one foot over the side of the boat and steps on water. Second foot on water. He takes a third step. Peter is walking on water. And he’s not just walking on water. He’s walking on the storm because, remember, the wind and the waves and the lighting and the thunder, it’s all hell. He’s not just walking on water; he’s walking on a storm. Listen to me. I don’t know what’s happening in your life today, but in a room like this I know there are tons of people sitting here and there’s a whole lot of storms going on in your life. What I want to tell you is that if you will keep your eyes fixed on Jesus you have authority to walk on top of the storm.
You don’t just walk on top of water. You want to walk on top of the storms when your eyes are fixed on Jesus. So he’s walking on the water. He’s walking on the storm, getting towards Jesus. And then it says when he saw the wind and the waves he took his eyes off Jesus. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus comes over and pulls him up. “You of little faith, Peter.” And they walk back together, on the water, on the storm, back in the boat. They get in the boat and everyone worships Jesus.
Amazing moment, profound, incredibly powerful. And yet when we often talk about the story, we often like to talk about how Peter started to sink. Right? I mean, it’s easy to rag on Peter. He’s given us a lot of material to work with in the Bible.
And so we like to talk about Peter and we like to talk about the fact that he sank, and we give him a hard time for that. Okay, but listen to me. He walked on water! I mean, I don’t know about you. I would rather get wet walking on water than be a critic dry in the boat.
I would rather sink a little bit walking on water, get a little bit wet, than be a critic dry in the boat, because there are 11 other guys who are critics that didn’t yet walk on water. They were still dry in the boat [Laughs]. And so this isn’t just this cool experience that happens with Jesus and Peter and the disciples. This was a faith builder. I mean, think of the days and weeks and months to come as they’re walking around with Jesus. The guys walking down, just walking the road, and they’re like, “Peter, you walked on water, man!” Like, “I know! It’s amazing!” [Laughs] It’s like building their faith.
And so fast-forward the story. Jesus goes to the cross, dies, buried in the grave, raises again from the grave, sends the Holy Spirit. First century church is birthed. 3000 people get saved. And here is the disciples and they’re now responsible to do church, and they have no idea what to do. Think about it. They don’t have a Bible yet. They have no church experience. This has never been modeled to them before. There’s no church growth experts they can go and learn from and talk about what to do. They’re sitting there. They’ve got thousands of people. They’ve got to figure out what to do for church. And in my mind I picture them sitting around and one of them standing up and saying, “Guys, I got it. I know what we’re supposed to do. We’re just supposed to keep walking on water. That’s what we did when Jesus was here and that’s what we’re supposed to do now that we’re the church. We’re just supposed to keep walking on water.” And that’s what they did. They never stopped walking on water, and that’s how they turned the world upside down. I mean, think about it.
They kept following Jesus into the impossible. They would follow Jesus into the supernatural. They would go where no one else would go, get out of their comfort zone, face their fears head on, do things that no one else was doing. If you read the book of Acts, they heal the sick. They cast out demons. They raise the dead. They worship their way out of jail. They evangelize nations, make disciples, develop leaders, preach to rulers and kings and authorities. They never stopped walking on water. The book of Acts is a story of a church that turns the world upside down because it was a church that was willing to follow Jesus out onto the water. I mean, in Acts Chapter 3 Peter heals a crippled guy, and the whole crowd starts going nuts. They’re like, “Wow! We’ve never seen this before. This is crazy.” And Peter’s exact words are, “Why does this surprise you?” “Why does this surprise us, Peter? Because we’ve never seen anything like this before.” And Peter kind of laughs back at them. He goes, “Guys, this is the normal Christian life. This is the church, and we walk on water. That’s what we do. This shouldn’t surprise you.”
Acts 17:6 – “Those men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” Those men and women who walk on water just showed up and they’re walking on water in front of us, and we are amazed by that. Jesus’ church never stops walking on water. If we’re going to turn the world upside down, you’ve got to get out of the boat. It’s safe in the boat, but you are alive when you’re on the water. And once you’ve walked on the water you never want to get back in the boat. And so the question that I want to ask you is this. When was the last time you walked on water? No, not our pond out in front, but did the impossible with Jesus, followed him into the supernatural, got out of your comfort zone, out of what it was safe, out of what was convenient, and followed his voice out into the impossible. When was the last time you did that? Because that’s church. We are people who walk on water. Do you believe that? Maybe. By the end of the service maybe you will believe me.
You will say, “Well, what does it look like for the church to walk on water?” A couple of really simple thoughts; first thing is this.
If we’re going to walk on water, we have to risk everything. If you get out of the boat to get on water, you’ve just risked it all. I mean, think of the first century church. Acts Chapter 2 – Holy Spirit comes. Church is birthed. 3000 people get saved. And it’s this amazing moment and the disciples very easily could have just decided to play it safe from that point. I mean, the book of Acts could be written very differently. It could have said something like this. “Man, guys, we’ve got 3000 people. This is amazing! We like each other and we have great community. We’re generous and miracles are happening. Guys, let’s not do anymore. Like, this is really good, so I’ve got a great idea. Let’s form a couple of committees. We need a couple of committees to help us figure some things out. Like, we need a committee to help us build a building and make sure you get subcommittees under that – a committee to make sure we get the right color of carpet, because we want everybody to get a say on what the color of the carpet will be, because that’s really important. And then what we’ll do is we’ll hire a guy to sing to us, because it’s really good in church to have someone sing to you.”
“I’ve got a great idea. We’ll hire someone to watch our kids, because think about how great it will be for an hour a week. We won’t have to be around our kids [Laughs].” “I mean, who wouldn’t want to come to church if we can do that. That will be amazing. And then we will have a couple of men’s events, some women’s events. And then once a year we will give our old sandals to the poor people on the other side of town. And then we’ll have a church growth conference and we’ll teach everybody else how to do it.” No!
That’s not what it reads. They never stopped risking everything. Their lives, their possessions, their comfort – they never stopped risking everything to preach the gospel. Philippians 1:21 – Paul says, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” If that’s your theme verse, you’re not afraid to risk nothing. And what they understood was that they could play it safe or they could set people free, but they couldn’t do both. And so they weren’t concerned with maintaining what they had. They were concerned with the people they had yet to reach, and that’s the difference between religion and church. Religion wants to play it safe. Church wants to walk on water.
In fact, here’s what I think has happened. Here’s what has happened in the church a lot. Religion has crept into the church and masked itself as the church, put a church label on itself, and that’s what’s deceived us. The reason many of us have such a poor or low view of what the church is, is because religion has crept in, told us it’s church, and we believed it. And so we say things like, “We don’t like church. It’s powerless. It’s irrelevant. It’s marginalized.” But really what we’re talking about is religion. I mean, 2nd Timothy 3:5, talking about religion says, “it has a form of godliness, but denies its power.” It’s a form of godliness, so it has the right words, but it has no power. Religion is hollow. It’s hollow. It has no cord. It has some good godly words on the outside, but really it’s powerless and wants to stay in the boat. Church, on the other hand, is godliness with power. It starts from the inside out. It’s solid. It’s full of life. It has godliness and power and always wants to walk on water.
Religion plays it safe. Church wants to walk on water. Does that make sense to you?
We’ve been deceived. In fact, here’s a silly little example that will maybe help you get it. Let’s say, all growing up every time you saw a cat your mom told you it was a dog. Okay? Silly analogy. Every time you see a cat your mom told you it was a dog. Meow! Look at the doggy, honey. You would have a rough childhood, okay?
And we’ll do a series on freedom for you somewhere down the road.
But so you grow up and every time you see a cat, meow, you’re told it’s a dog. And so you grow up believing a cat is a dog. And so you’re 35, 40 years old. You’re hanging out with a friend one day. A cat comes walking by. Meow! And you look at it and you say to your friend, “I really don’t like dogs.” Your friend looks at you and he says, “What?” “Yeah man, I really don’t. See that dog right there? I really don’t like dogs.” And your friend says to you, “That’s not a dog. Man, that’s a cat.” You’re like, “It is?” “Yeah man. Cat’s meow. Dogs bark.”
“Oh! Well, I really like dogs then.” And the light bulb goes off. Okay. Do you realize, as silly as that is, that’s how a lot of us have been with religion and church. We say, “I sure don’t like church”, but we’re talking about religion. We say, “Ah man, I don’t want anything to do with church”, but it’s really religion. We’ve been deceived. We’ve grown up believing that religion is church when it’s not. They couldn’t be any more different. Religion and church are totally different. You have safe or you have power. You have a form of godliness or you have godliness that’s pursuing after Jesus and walking on water. Does that make sense to you?
What I’m trying to say to you is this. It’s religion is a cat and church is a dog. And so for all you cat lovers, I’m sorry. We could reverse it. I don’t have a pet. So I don’t really care either way [Laughs]. But we’ve been deceived. As silly as it is, thinking a cat is a dog. As silly as it is, when we call religion church. It’s that different. Church risks it all to reach people. I mean, I’ve told you this before. The great danger of success is fear of losing that what you have. That’s the danger of success, anything in life. The more established you become in life or in church, the more you resist change. So the more established you become in life, the less you’re willing to risk. And you know it’s true, because when you had nothing you’d risk everything. But all of a sudden you get some possession, some money, a job, a house, credit card bills; all that stuff; all of a sudden you don’t want to risk anything anymore because you have a measure of success. Same is true in church. All of a sudden we have a building and some programs, and we like our seats and we like our sound and we like our stuff. Let’s not risk. This is cool. Let’s not risk anything anymore. So success unintentionally creates apathy in your heart. It makes you pull back because you’re afraid of losing that what you already have. So you want to stay safe in the boat.
We get so concerned with not rocking the boat that we never get out of it. I mean, think about this for a second. It’s about to football season. Is anybody excited for football season to start?
Okay. This is football season and how many times has it happened? It’s the fourth quarter. You’re watching your team. They’re up by a few points. They got the ball. Clock is running down and they go into this defensive posture. They just want to run the clock out, get into the locker room, and get the win. And as that’s happening the announcer almost every time says, “They better not stop playing offense, because if all they do is going to this defensive trying to run the clock out, well the other team is not going to quit playing. And they’re going to get the ball back and drive down the field and score and win the game.” And what happens? The Cowboys lose every time!
Every time! The fourth quarter; I’m getting some boos back there. Hey! You can be hopeful this year. We just sang it. Let hope rise.
Let hope rise, Jesus, that we will not quit in the fourth quarter. [Laughs]
Okay, listen. That’s church, guys. That’s religion, is how I should say it. We’re up by a few points. We’ve got the ball. We want to run the clock out, get the game over, and get into the locker room. But the church never stops playing offense. We never stop risking everything. We keep going no matter what. We are so afraid of failing. You should be afraid of succeeding at that which does not matter. They are very different realities. I mean, why would you go and look all over the place? Why are there church buildings with no people in them all over the place? Go to Europe and see these cathedrals that were once full of people who loved God, and today they’re empty or being used for worldly purposes. You think what on earth happened? Well, at some point man turned God’s movement into a monument. And we’ve decided like, “Man, it’s so good. Let’s stop risking. Let’s just pull back and play it safe because it’s good.” When you stop walking on water you start to die.
We cannot turn the world upside down by being concerned with maintaining that which we already have. And so the question I want to ask you is, what are you willing to risk? Are you willing to risk dignity and pride, tradition, safety? Are you willing to risk finances and convenience and comfort? What are you willing to risk? Actually the better question is, what are you not willing to risk, because that’s the thing you need to take to Jesus and process in your heart with him. We are Valley Creek Church and we will always risk everything to walk on the water with Jesus. Okay? So we risk everything, but the church that walks on water also releases everyone. If you look at the first century church there wasn’t like five people doing ministry. They released everyone. They knew everyone was needed. Everyone was important. Everyone had a gift. Everyone had something to contribute. They all were a part of it. And somewhere along the way, church bought into this lie that ministry is done by professionals.
So in our mind, which is really the truth of religion, religion is done by a few professionals. But what we believed is that the church hires a few people and they do all the ministry, and we’ve sat back and we watch other people do what we were created to do. And when you watch other people walk on water, the flame within you actually begins to die because you weren’t created to watch that. You were created to do that. Now look at this. Ephesians 4 – let me just share this with you. Here’s upside down church, right here. “It was Jesus who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” Why? To prepare – another translation will say ‘equip’ – to prepare or equip God’s people, you, for works of service. For what purpose? So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. So catch this.
Jesus says he gave church leaders to the church for one purpose, to prepare or equip God’s people, you, for works of service. The word prepare or equip in the original language literally means ‘to mend or repair’. Think of an old-time fishing net. It’s kind of what it’s talking about. Think of Peter. He will take a fishing net, throw it out in the water, pull it back in. The net would close and it would catch all the fish. But if a hole got in the net, when he cast it out and pulled it back in, all the fish would swim out of the hole. So they would have to mend it or repair it. Prepare or equip it. Which means when you’re sitting here like today, what we’re doing is we’re mending and repairing the tears in your soul. We’re mending and repairing the tears in your thinking. We’re mending and repairing the tears in your abilities, so that you can be tossed back out into the world and be used by God, to be released into the kingdom, to do the works of service. Because that means you’re the one that’s supposed to do the ministry. I know it’s like, “Surprise!” No, it’s not.
You’re supposed to do it. You’re supposed to baptize people and pray for people and disciple people and develop leaders and counsel people and heal people and share the gospel and share your story. You’re the one created and called to do the work of ministry. And when you are released and you have the courage to walk on water, you know what it says? It says that the body is built, we become unified, we have the knowledge of the Son of God, and we become mature, attaining the full measure of Christ. That’s pretty good news! But if you don’t walk on water and you’re not released, the body is torn down. We become divided, deceived, and start to decay. If you don’t walk on water, you start to be torn down, divided, deceived, and you begin to decay. I mean, think about this. Church is the only environment in the world where people join the team to sit on the sidelines. Think about it.
It’s the only environment in the world where people join the team with an expectation and a hope to sit on the sidelines. I mean, can you imagine taking your kid? You sign him up for football. And you take your kid to practice the first day and you say to the coach, “Hey coach, we’re so excited to be on the team. This is my kid, but here’s the deal. We don’t actually want him to play. He’s going to be on the team and he will come suited up. He will be at every practice. He will be here on time. We just really wanted him to get the jersey. So he’s just going to sit on the side. Don’t put him in the game.” What? Or imagine somebody who worked really hard to make the Cowboys team, and they get a sweet deal from Jerry. They sign the thing. They’re all excited. And after that’s done they’re like, “Hey Jerry, I’m really excited to be on the team. I just want you to know I don’t actually ever want to play in the game.”
Like, “I’m just going to sit on the sidelines. I really just wanted that star on my helmet, and now that I’ve got that I’m good. I’m just going to sit down here at the end of the bench.” What? That’s crazy! And yet for some reason that’s become normal and acceptable in Jesus’ church.
Why? Because we are afraid. We’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of trying. We’re afraid of not having the right knowledge or information. We’re not sure what to do. I don’t want to sink in the water. I don’t want to embarrass myself. I just sit on the boat and I’m good. Listen to me. You have the Holy Spirit of the Living God inside of you. The Bible says, “His divine power has given you everything you need for life and godliness.” You’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing there is in Christ, and every time you’re in this room you are being mended and repaired, equipped and prepared to do what God has called you to do. You don’t have to be afraid to play in the game. Let me give you some encouragement. Luke 9 and Luke 10 – it’s probably the greatest juxtaposition of the disciples in the Bible. Luke 9 – here’s what it says – “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”
So catch it. Jesus takes the disciples. He says, “Guys, the 12.” He says, “Guys, go. Preach the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and heal lepers.” Like, “Go, you guys can do it.” He sends them to walk on water. And I can just picture the disciples being like, “Excuse me, Jesus. This is only Luke Chapter 9. We started following you in Luke Chapter 5. We don’t really feel like four chapters was an adequate preparation to walk on water.”
“We would like to graciously request if we could get it bumped to at least Luke 19. We might feel a little bit better about it. We’re not ready, Jesus.” He says, “Go.” So they go. And you know what happens? They fail miserably! Luke 9 is the worst chapter in the Bible for the disciples. They literally sink. And every moment you just start reading, it’s hysterical. You start reading. They get to the point where a little kid has a demon, a little baby demon. And they can’t even cast out a baby demon. Not even a big one! A baby demon!
The kid’s dad is so mad. He goes to Jesus and he’s like, “Jesus, your disciples are a waste of space. They cannot even get rid of this baby demon. [Laughs] You do it.” You keep reading a few verses later. It says they start arguing about who is going to be the greatest. They’re like, “Who is going to be the greatest?” None of you can even cast out a baby demon. None of you are great. It’s like, “Really? That’s what we’re arguing about.” And a few verses later they see another guy who is casting out demons and they try to stop him. They’re like, “This is our game, man. You’re moving in our turf.” [Laughs] And I can picture that being like, “Yeah, but you can’t do it. So I’m like helping you out, you know?”
A few verses later it says they want to call down fire from heaven and burn up all the Samaritans. Like, “Sure, that’s godliness and power right there.” It’s miserable. It is the worst chapter for the disciples. They fail miserably. And they come back in Luke Chapter 10. If you and I are Jesus, like we would very easily think the story should read something like this. “Man, guys you sure gave it your best effort. Wow! Here’s the deal. This is what I want you to get is that if you want something done right, do it yourself.”
“So why don’t you sit here and watch me, and I’ll go and do all those things.” In fact, make sure you get that – Luke Chapter 10, Verse 1. I want you to write down quotes. “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I want millions of people to memorize that verse for all of eternity. Oh, what does he do? He takes the 12 and he brings 60 more, and now it’s 72, and he sends them out to go do the exact same thing. Like what? They just failed! “I know.” He sends them out to walk on water again. Only this time they do it. And in Luke 10:17 it says, “The seventy-two returned with joy saying, “Jesus, even the demons submitted to us in your name.” They walked on water! Listen to me. If you never walk on water, there is a joy you will never know, an authority you will never walk in, and a revelation you will never have.
It says they returned in joy. They had joy. They said, “Even the demons submitted to us in your name.” They had authority over the storms, and they had a revelation about who Jesus was and what he just did for them. That’s what happens when you walk on water. And Jesus knows that you’re going to fail. He’s okay that we get wet in a little bit in the water. Like, that’s okay. It’s part of the journey. In fact, we should have people failing around here all the time. It’s really comforting to hear in church, isn’t it? Like, you should be failing!
In fact, if we don’t have people failing, trying to follow Jesus out onto the water, then we’re not believing enough in people. We’ve reverted to religion where we’ve removed the ministry of the people to the ministry of professionals, and we’ve become religious. That’s why the world won’t get turned upside down. We have to risk on people. In fact, here’s the deal. If you never fail, if you never get wet, then I would say you’re probably never getting out of the boat.
Which is a really hard truth to grasp, because it’s really easy for us to sit in the boat and criticize people who do fail and do get wet. Listen; if you’re walking on water, you don’t have any time to criticize anybody else getting wet because your eyes are too busy being fixed on Jesus because you’re walking on water [Laughs]. And we don’t fail to quit; we fail to learn. This should be so freeing for you. In our church if you try ministry and you fail, I don’t see that as a cost. I see that as an investment in you. Like, I heard a story one time of a businessman. He hired this guy on his team, new guy and kind of didn’t really know what he was doing. So he made a decision and cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars; hundreds. And so he knew it was over. He wrote up his resignation. He comes in, “Oh sir, I am so sorry. I totally blew it. I know. Here is my resignation. I can’t even believe I did that.” And the boss took the resignation in front of him, ripped it up in front of him. And he said, “You’re not even going to let me resign. You need to fire me. I get it. I totally blew it.”
And he looked at him and he said, “You’re not resigning and I’m not firing you.” He said, “I just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into your education. You’re never going to make that mistake again and you’re going to teach everybody else how not to make that mistake. Now go out and keep believing in this company.” That’s church. That’s the kingdom of God! That’s how it works. “Come”, he says. He is inviting you to go somewhere that forces you to stay fixated on him. Maybe it’s to serve. Maybe it’s to lead. Maybe it’s to give. Maybe it’s to pray. Maybe it’s to countenance. I don’t know. I just know this. We are Valley Creek Church and we will always release everyone to their assignments. Okay? And one last thing that’s really quick. The church that walks on water reaches anyone. If you read about the disciples, the first century church, they reached Jews, gentiles, foreigners, lepers, sick people, demon-possessed people. They reached anyone.
Why? Because that’s what they saw Jesus do, which was a total break from Judaism. Remember, the Jewish people were consumed with being clean. Their whole thing was being clean, so they had to pull away from unclean people, because in Judaism if you were clean and you touched an unclean person, the unclean person made the clean person unclean. Listen to the words. I know it’s a lot. But if you were clean and you touched an unclean person, the clean person became unclean. If I’m the Jewish person and I’m clean and I touch a leper, the one with the flow of blood who is unclean, I know just became unclean because the influence of the unclean was greater than the influence of the clean. So they hid. They pulled away from people. Jesus shows up telling them to reverse the order. With Jesus who is clean, when Jesus touches the unclean, the unclean become clean. When Jesus touches the unclean leper or the unclean woman with the flow of blood, when he touches them they don’t make him unclean. He makes the unclean, clean, because he is the influencer and not the influenced.
And so the disciples understood this. And so they didn’t live with a fear-based pull-away model. They lived with a faith-based love model that forced them to go and find people, because they knew they were the influencers, not the influenced. You see, religion reacts, Faith initiates. Religion, when there’s a Supreme Court decision or someone moves into your neighborhood that has a lifestyle you disagree with, or a politician that gets elected, religion pulls back, judges, shames and isolates. Faith, when those things happen, initiates and runs towards the person because faith believes that in Jesus the clean make the unclean clean. Totally different reversal of perspective. Religion versus church. We are Valley Creek Church and we will always preach anyone. Anyone is always welcome to come and meet with Jesus in this place, because we believe we’re the influencers, not the influenced.
Listen; we are not religious talkers. We are water walkers. Okay?
That is so dorky. Don’t write that down. Just wanted to make sure you were listening.
Let me close with this. Every weekend when I get up here, in my own life I’m walking on water. And I know some of you are thinking, “Bro, the message wasn’t that good.” I’m not talking about the quality.
I know. I’m not talking about the quality. What I’m talking about is, I’m trusting by faith to follow Jesus into the possible in my life. There are a whole lot of weeks when I would rather sit on the front row and watch someone else walk on water. And I know some of you think, “This is easy for you. This is what you do.” You don’t understand. This is the hardest thing in my life.
And every six days I know I’m getting out of the boat to walk on the water again. This is the hardest thing I do. And there are a whole lot of times I literally would rather stay in a safe, comfortable convenience of my boat, but I get out because Jesus is calling me. Not you; he is calling me. And so I walk and sometimes I see the wind and the waves and I lose sight of Jesus, and I start to sink. And I cry out to him and he pulls me up and I get wet, but I’d rather be wet walking on water than be a critic dry in the boat. And if you can tolerate this statement that I’m about to make – I don’t do this for you, but I do this for me, because this isn’t necessarily about you. This is about me just doing what Jesus has asked me to do, to step out onto the water of my life and follow him where he’s asking me to go. And when we walk on water, we turn the world upside down. And the greatest thing about this is, I have only about six days where I could drift away from God, because I know in six days that train is coming and I need to be fixed back on Jesus because I know he’s about to ask me to walk on water again.
So there’s something incredibly healthy about having a rhythm of walking on water because it keeps you grounded with Jesus, because if all you do is sit in the boat, you have no need to look to Jesus. Why would you look to Jesus if you have your nice, safe boat? And some of us have built like these amazing cruise ships. They’re saying to me like, “Walk on water, bro? Man, the food is up here.”
Why? Because you’re safe in the boat, but you’re alive in the water. So the question I would ask you is that are you walking on water? Like, can you go days, weeks, months, years without being desperate to look at Jesus? If the answer is yes, you’re not really walking on water. You’re sitting in the boat.
And so some of you are here and like today is your first day to get out of the boat with Jesus. Like, you’ve never done it and it’s just one step. Some of you, you are walking on water just to come back to church next weekend. Some of you, you are sitting in this room. You used to walk on water with Jesus, but then life happened. You got wet. You sank. Somebody criticized you from the boat. Something happened, whatever, and you’ve gotten off the water and got back in the boat. Today, Jesus is saying it’s time to get back out of the boat and start walking on the water again. And some of you, you’re sitting here and you’re like, “I am walking on the water and I don’t know if I’m going to make it.” Yes, you are. Just keep looking at Jesus. Don’t look at the wind and the waves.
And the truth is, is that your boat is someone else’s water. Your boat is someone else’s water, and what I mean by that is what is safe and convenient for you is someone else’s faith stretch of following God into the impossible. So you can’t compare and criticize. Like, “Well, they do this and they do that. And this is what John says is for his. This is my life.” You have to find your life. Your boat is someone else’s water and someone else’s boat is your water.
And so what does that do? It forces you to listen to Jesus and step out of the boat and walk on the water with him. That’s how we turn the world upside down. The reason the church has become marginalized is because she stopped walking on water. We don’t get together to watch a few people walk on water. We are all released to walk on water. That’s when the world turns upside down. Does that make sense to you?
Okay. Close your eyes. And let me just ask you; what does God want to say to you in the midst of all of that today? What does the Holy Spirit just want to whisper into your heart and into your mind? Here’s what I think. I think for some of us he is saying today is the day to finally trust Jesus and give up your old life and follow him into a new future.
And if that’s you, today is your day to believe by faith and Jesus’ finished work of the Cross and trust that he died so you could live and you can now take that step out of the boat and onto the water with him. Some of you, you used to walk on water. Some of you, you used to do it a lot, but now you’re afraid of losing that what you’ve gained. You’ve got a great life. You’ve got a great situation. You’ve got a great schedule. And you know to get out of the boat means you’re going to have to risk those things, but Jesus is saying, “Come, that you may live.” A hope in my prayer is that our minds would be renewed and we would stop calling religion church and we would start being the people that Jesus died for, that Jesus empowered.
And Jesus says, “If you come with me, the Lord of all creation, you do not have to submit to creation. Creation must submit to you. Come, walk with me on this water. We will turn the world upside down.” So Lord Jesus, we just proclaim and declare that by faith we hear your voice and we say we will come to you. Would you give us the courage and the strength to step out of our boat, onto the water, onto the storm, as scary as it may be? It may be just coming back to church next weekend. It may be becoming a leader, serving somewhere, doing something. Lord, I know Holy Spirit, you’re going to speak to us. And we say that we are Valley Creek Church and we will be a people that risks everything, releases everyone, and will reach anyone for the glory of Jesus Christ, because of who you are and this beautiful thing called the church that you created. Turn our thinking upside down, that we may turn this world upside down for you, Jesus. We love you, and may we get out of the boat as we leave this place today. In your name we pray. Amen.