LIFE SHAPE: OUT
Pastor Terry Inman
We have been sharing a user-friendly tool we call a Life-Shape, a simple triangle for making and maintaining good connections. UP is not a dial-up it’s a wireless connection with God. Stay connected! IN is our face time with the folks closest too us. Stay linked-IN! OUT is not outsourcing evangelism. It’s obeying our great commission to disciple people. (rescue)
We need a simple tool like this to remind us because life has a way of pushing us out of shape. The last few weeks have been overwhelming for several of our Harbor Light staff and a significant number of our church family. It would suffice to say some are in an intensely personal storm.
A few weeks ago my son Jason from Convoy of Hope talked about disasters. He said personal disasters happen to all of us. We have ether been in one, we are now in one or we will face one in the future.
It’s challenging to reach OUT when you are hurting yourself. However, our pain can powerfully equip us to rescue those around us.
In the gospel of Mark chapter 6, Jesus and his disciples encounter a storm raging on several fronts. The chapter ends with some freaked out fishermen who are trying to follow Jesus. Following his directions nearly gets them drowned in the middle of the night in the middle of the lake.
The events of this whole chapter are actually centered around boats. Many of us are in the same boat. We are trying to do what Jesus has called us to do. We want to reach out and rescue the lost but life just keeps crashing in and capsizing our best intentions.
It reminds me of the time my son Jesse introduced me to ocean kayaking outside the Newport Beach Harbor. It looked calm when we stared out. But just about the time we got about a half-mile off shore some large swells started coming our way.
Jesse says, “Dad I think we better turn around and head back in it looks like the weather and the tide is changing.” So just as I was navigating my turn, a wave slammed me. I went upside down in the very cold water like a duck looking for lunch. The only problem; I was a 60 year-old quack!
When I emerged spitting out sea-weed and gasping for air Jesse says “Dad this might be a good time to get a lesson is deep water recovery. So just be calm. Get your kayak upright. Dump out the water.” Never mind that you’re in way over your head and the waves keep crashing.
“Now” he says, “move to the center put your arms over the sides and hoist yourself up out of the water and over the top.” I am supposed to form a perfect red-cross symbol. Keep the kayak straight while you lay your big white body, belly down, perpendicular across mid-ship while you lurch up and down like a giant bobber. I was all tangled up in seaweed and running perilously short of air and energy?
After a few un-successful attempts, while Jesse is sitting calmly on his kayak barking out instructions, I came to the realization that I had enough strength left for one final life or death breach for survival.
Success, I did it! I’m now stretched diagonally over the plastic hull. Then he tells me that I must very gently spin a 180 and parallel park belly down then quickly and carefully do a push up to get my rear back in the saddle.
Even though this felt like a near death experience my whole life did not pass in front of me but I did, under my short breath, pray for a divine rescue. I somehow survived. That might have been an angel I felt under my armpits but I won’t know until I see the replay in heaven.
Now you may think this is funny but drowning is one of the most frightening ways to leave this life and that’s exactly what Jesus disciples thought was about to happen to them. Then what made matters worse, Jesus shows up surfing in the middle the night without a board. According to Mark’s gospel they thought He was the fabled water phantom. (v.49)
You may be wondering what this has to do with UP, IN and OUT! This LIFE-SHAPE can be a life-savor especially when life goes upside down.
So let’s follow Marks story. Because it’s lengthy I am going to summarize the highlights but trust me you can follow along in Mark 6 for the detail.
One of the unique themes in Mark’s gospel is the training of the disciples. They were his small group of IN people. I have already mentioned this a couple times. “He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them OUT.” Mark 3.14
In MK 6 they “accompany” him to visit his hometown. He comments on some prophetic scriptures in the local synagogue and does a few miracles. The homefolks are amazed but not impressed with his Messianic claims.
They say he is just one of us. He’s just Mary’s son. Who does he really think he is? His brothers and sisters were smart enough to stay here on the farm. The very fact that they call him Mary’s son and not Joseph’s son is probably a reference to his illegitimate reputation. Mark says they took “offense” at him. Matthew says, they tried to toss him off a cliff.
Jesus responded with a proverbial saying, “A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (v.4) People want to drag you down to their level. That’s why the bible says to share your faith with gentleness and respect.
Mark says, Jesus was also amazed at their lack of faith, and consequently did very few healings and miracles there. That may explain why we don’t see as many miracles in America. Have we lost our simple faith in Him?
So Jesus moves on and sends his disciples OUT to other small villages. The verb for sent is apostellein it carries the idea of an official representation. He made them apostles, sent ones. They were authorized to speak his words and do his works.
Jesus sent them OUT in pairs for mutual support but also as confirming witnesses to the reality of Jesus Christ. He told them to travel very light, no cash, no bread, one staff, one coat and one pair of sandals. He wanted them to be entirely dependent on him and their willing hosts. (vs. 6-8)
He told them to stay put where they were welcomed. If they were not received, shake off the dust and move on. (v. 11) The Jews would dust off any soil they may have gathered from foreign travel. Jesus was using that gesture to say that there are consequences for the people who reject the good news, so move on to people who are more receptive.
Luke’s account of this mission is where we get the OUT pattern for what we call PRAYER CARE SHARE.
First they were to pray for peace over the household. OUT begins with blessing people. Luke 10.5 Next according to Luke they were to stay in one house eating and drinking. They were to really get to know them and show them in tangible ways how much they really care. Luke 10.6-8
Jesus’ final instruction is to share. “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, The kingdom of God is near you.” Luke 10.9
We are to share both the works and words of Jesus!
We all have different talents and temperaments. Some us reach, “OUT” verbally. We like to share our story and His story. Some of us are more comfortable with sharing practically. We like to give or serve. Paul said, some of us plant, some of us water, but God makes it grow. 1Cor. 3.6
The disciples were very successful, on this road trip OUT. Mark says, “They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Mark 6:12-13
So here’s what we do with OUT. We influence people through our own story to repent or turn around. We also help them find freedom and healing. Here’s my paraphrase of what Jesus said in (John 14.12), “you will do even greater works than this because I’m UP with the Father and we are sending you OUT !”
Jesus’ small group of followers were so successful that Herod the regional ruler heard about it and got paranoid that John the Baptist who he beheaded had come back to haunt him. Mark goes into a long diversion here in Mark 6 to describe John’s beheading at a drunken dance party.
Right after Jesus’ disciples report all their successes. John’s disciples bury the body and tell Jesus about this untimely killing. Jesus, as he often did, took his disciples UP a secluded mountainside to deal with the incredible loss. He said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (v. 30) They went for a boat ride to the other side.
Can you imagine the pain that he couldn’t really explain. Then just when he really needed to be alone with a few close friends to quietly grieve, crowds of people found out where they were going and ran ahead. They were waiting for their arrival.
Jesus spent the rest of the day teaching and healing. (v.34) says “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Our English word “compassion” comes from a compound Latin expression, com-pati meaning “suffer with”. It’s more than the ability to feel what someone else feels. It is to actually be present to come together with their pain. Jesus has plenty of his own pain, but here he was able to focus on the needs of these shepherdess sheep.
Mathews describes them as “helpless and hurting”. He uses a vivid Greek metaphor to describe the masses coming to Jesus as sheep that had been attacked and left for dead. In Mathews account Jesus tells his small group of disciples this is a ripe harvest and they are to pray for the Lord to send OUT workers into this harvest field of broken and battered sheep.
After a very long day the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowds home to get something to eat. Jesus says, “you feed them”. They helped him with the math. It would take eight months of wages for that much pita bread. Jesus asked, “what do we have?”
John tells us they scrounged up a boy’s lunch with five biscuits and two dried fish. Jesus had them all set in groups while he prayed the biscuits into baskets. After the distribution to over 5000 men and their families the disciples had a basket each.
Then Jesus sent them OUT again to the other side of the lake in a boat while he went UP a mountainside for an all-nighter alone with His father. I’m not sure what he prayed. I know he was very tired and hurting deeply.
Mark says just before dawn he could see they were in a nasty dark storm. “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” Jesus went up and stayed up walking on water!
They were screaming with fear. Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” He climbed into the boat and the wind and the waves died down. Mark says, “they were completely amazed for they did not understand about the loaves and fishes, and their hearts were hardened.” (v. 52).
They had just participated in a phenomenal miracle. They helped Jesus pass out the bread. They even had leftovers.
But just a few hours later in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm they couldn’t make the connection that this compassionate miracle worker was the Lord of the storm.
Hardship can be heart hardening if you don’t go UP & IN.
Mark concludes the chapter with this. “When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Mark 6.53-55
That’s transforming pain into power!
We can’t reach OUT on our own. We are too immobilized by our own hurt and fear. But if we go UP and stay connected with our Father. If we check IN with our close friends and share life together we will have the passion and the power to go OUT and reach the lost.
Jesus continually reached UP to his Father. He shared life IN relationship with a small group of friends and He reached OUT to His world with these friends. This year we are encouraging our small groups to find ways to reach out and rescue.
The motto of our church is “guiding people through storms into safe harbor”. You may be in a storm of your own right now. Your pain can be transformed into His power. This year each one can rescue one!
Listen to this…Love came down and rescued me