A Church "Put Out Into the Deep"

Last Sunday I preached about Jesus' call to (a very labored) Simon to give it another go and cast his nets into the deep. This time, the only difference was that the Lord had come close to the waters and commanded it. I believe Jesus still calls to his disciples (us!) this way, and even his apostles wave at us from their boat to come over and help with the catch of the Kingdom.

Personally, I was reminded of this in an unexpected way when we took time for healing prayer during our last service. The line of people coming forward was like a net overflowing with fish. A little over a month ago we communicated with you about catching up to our expenses, and again our nets were full of fish, finishing the year with a financial surplus. At our annual meeting, I cast the "nets" of our vision for 2019 "out into the deep" in response to what we sense God is doing. Once again, many of you were caught up with new vigor for ministry, for youth, for our growing community, for new catechists, and new Table Group leaders. Our women's book study group cast a "net" and had to start another group (another "boat") because so many women had been caught in this wonderful discussion and community. Our kid's classrooms are like nets about to bust so we're working to get more classrooms (boats). You get it, I could go on. 

Here's the point I want all of us to notice: what is unmistakably special about Rez is that, by God's gracious help, you are a people eager to hear the command of Jesus and cast our nets together. In fact, from the beginning, we've been a community willing to cast the net into deep waters when Jesus calls and look at how our lives have changed.

If you're not casting your nets with us, you're missing out on the adventure of a lifetime and I want to help you find your place on the boat. I'd love to sit down with each of you and imagine those areas of your life where you are still playing in the shallows, holding back, cautious of casting into the deep. (I'm serious, email me and I'll buy you a cup of coffee. shawn@rezaustin.com) For now, imagine with me for a minute we're sitting down for a visit, here's the tour I would want to take with you:

  1. Are you casting prayers into the deep? Do you pray often? Do you pray big, and with boldness, asking God for help and listening to his call? An easy way to begin is in the middle of your day to say, "Lord, I know you're here." Or pray the Lord's Prayer, and add your own thoughts. I dare you. Watch and pray. 

  2. Are you casting your wealth into the deep to serve the Kingdom? Money is the idol of the age. Resist it. Don't let worry and scarcity keep you from a trusting relationship with God. Instead, (seriously!) go ask God about it and then actually do what He says. Cast your financial nets for the Kingdom!

  3. Are you casting your needs and desires into the deep? Dallas Willard says "Fasting is feasting on God." Free up your will, heart, and hands from controlling how things will turn out. Instead of worrying, live on the timing and resources of the Kingdom. Look to participate with Him where He calls you to serve, where He calls you to meet the needs of others, and where He calls you to put those tyrannical cravings and lusts to death. And if you need a way to serve, I've got 20, just let me know. 

Rez, at the command of the Lord, let's put out into the deep. That's where we will find lifetogether in the goodness of God. Our church was born in the deep, that's where the church thrives, and that's where we will continue to grow in faith, love, and hope. May God disturb us to push off from familiar waters so that we might hear the Lord's command and "put out into the deep" together.  Let's go!

I leave you with a prayer by Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) that I think says it well,

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Fr. Shawn