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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the BoatIf You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great read! If you want to be motived to serve the Lord and to grow in your faith then this is the book for you. Using the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus Ortberg teaches lots of practical godly lessons for believers today. I have listed several quotes below that spoke to my heart. I hope they will also encourage you!

There is a consistent pattern in Scripture of what happens in a life that God wants to use and improve:
There is always a call. God asks an ordinary person to engage in an act of extraordinary trust, that of getting out of the boat.
There is always fear. God has an inextinguishable habit of asking people to do things that are scary to them. It may be a fear of inadequacy (“I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” Moses said). It may be a fear of failure (“The land we explored devours those who live in it,” cried the spies sent out to the Promised Land). It may even be a fear of God (“For I knew you were a hard man, seeking to reap where you did not sow,” claimed the servant in Jesus’ parable). But one way or another, there will be fear.
There is always reassurance. God promises His presence (“The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior!” an angel assures Gideon who had certainly never been addressed by that title before). God also promises to give whatever gifts are needed to fulfill His assignment (I will help you to speak, and teach you what to say” He tells a stuttering Moses).
There is always a decision. Sometimes, as with Moses and Gideon, people say yes to God’s call. Sometimes, as with the ten frightened spies or the rich young ruler who spoke with Jesus, they say no. But always people must decide.
There is always a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk the walk perfectly – not by a long shot. But because they say yes to God, they learn and grow even from their failures. And they become part of His actions to redeem the world.   ~John Ortberg

David Garland finds a clue in Mark’s version of this story (Peter walking on the water). Mark tells us that Jesus “intended to pass them by” on the water, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost. Why did Jesus want to “pass them by”? Did He decide to race them? Did He want to impress them with a really neat trick?

Garland points out that the verb parerchomai (“to pass by”) is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as a technical term to refer to a theophany – those defining moments when God made “striking and temporary appearances in the earthly realm to a select individual or group for the purpose of communicating a message.”

God put Moses in a cleft in a rock so Moses could see “while my glory passes by.” … The Lord passed before him.

God told Elijah to stand on the mountain “for the LORD is about to pass by.”

There is a pattern to these stories. In each case God had to get people’s attention – through a burning bush, or wind and fire, or walking on the water. With each person God was going to call them to do something extraordinary. In each situation the person that God called felt afraid. But every time that people said, “yes” to their calling, they experienced the power of God in their lives.   ~John Ortberg

So let me ask you a question: What’s your boat?

Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God Himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship.

Want to know what your boat is? Your fear will tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in me – especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith? ~ John Ortberg

Only Peter knew the glory of walking on the water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling the euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it.  ~ John Ortberg

Failure does not shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you.  ~ John Ortberg

Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone will kill us.  ~ John Ortberg

The line between “Thou shalt not be afraid” and Thou shalt not be ridiculous” is often a fine one and not easily located. Knowing when to get out of the boat and take a risk does not only demand courage; it also demands the wisdom to ask the right questions, the discernment to recognize the voice of the Master, and the patience to wait for His command.   ~ John Ortberg

Arthur Miller writes that this what lies at the heart of seven-days-a-week faith: “It is using one’s endowed giftedness to serve the world with excellence and, through that service, to love and honor God! The calling that fully engages what God has given you is a holy task!”

You have a purpose – a design that is central to God’s dream for the human race. We are, first of all, according to Scripture, called to know God, to receive His love and mercy, and to be His children. We are called to live in the reality of His kingdom and to have Christ formed in us.

As a crucial part of your calling, you were given certain gifts, talents, longings, and desires. To identify these with clarity, to develop them with skill, and to use them joyfully and humbly to serve God and His creation is central to why you were created.   ~ John Ortberg

This is your day. If God’s kingdom is to manifest itself right now, it will have to be through you. God Himself will not come to take your place. You are on a mission from God.  ~ John Ortberg


A calling is something you discover, not something you choose. The word vocation comes from the Latin word for voice. Discovering it involves very careful listening.  ~ John Ortberg

“You cannot choose your calling,” Palmer [Parker Palmer, a Quaker educator and writer] says. “You must let your life speak.” By this phrase he means that an enormous part of following our calling is not so much choosing as it is listening.   ~ John Ortberg

It is very important to distinguish what I love doing for its own sake from what I may want to do because of the rewards it may bring me.   ~ John Ortberg on discerning your calling

Receiving a calling from God is not the same thing as falling into your dream career. A dream career generally promises wealth, power, status, security, and great benefits. A calling is often a different story.

God called Moses: Go o Pharaoh – the most powerful man on earth. Tell him to let his labor force leave without compensation to worship a god he doesn’t believe in. Then convince a timid, stiff-necked people to run away into the desert. That’s your calling.

And Moses said: Here am I. Send Aaron.

God called Jonah: God to Nineveh – the most corrupt and violent city in the world. Tell its inhabitants – who don’t know you and won’t acknowledge Me – to repent or die.

And Jonah said: When’s the next whale leaving in the opposite direction?

God called Jeremiah to preach to people who wouldn’t listen. It was so hard and Jeremiah cried so much that he became known as the Weeping Prophet. How would you like to have that job title? Who wants a business card that reads “the sobbing CEO” or “the depressed dermatologist”?

As a rule, the people whom we read about in Scripture who were called by God felt inadequate. When God called Abraham to leave home, or Gideon to lead an army, or Esther to defy the king, or Mary to give birth to the Messiah, their initial response was never: Yes, I’m up to that challenge. I think I can handle that.

The first response to a God-sized calling is generally fear. Henry Blackaby writes,

Some people say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do.” I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, I know it is probably not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because He wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His kindness to His people and to a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know Him.

That doesn’t mean that God calls us in a way that violates our “raw material.” Where God calls, God gifts.

It does mean, though, that natural talent alone is not enough to honor a calling from God. I will need ideas, strength, and creativity beyond my own resources to do what God asks of me. It will have to be God and me doing it together [I like to say God working through me as His instrument]. We are not called just to work for God. We are called to work with God [another way to say this is that we are called of God to work in us and through us as we yield to His Holy Spirit].   ~ John Ortberg

Sometimes, in the providence of God, the end of a career is the beginning of a calling. And you have a calling. You are not a spare part – you are on a mission from God.  ~ John Ortberg

Never try to have more faith – just get to know God better. And because God if faithful, the better you know Him, the more you will trust Him. The way to get to know His trustworthiness is to risk obeying Him.    ~ John Ortberg

What would you guess is the most common command in Scripture?    Fear not.  Lloyd Ogilivie notes there are 366 “fear not” verses in the Bible – one for every day of the year, including one for leap year!     ~ John Ortberg

Peter was willing to risk failure for the adventure of trusting Christ more.   ~ John Ortberg

All of us experience failure, and no one likes it. But for some people it becomes a kind of goad to push on to new learning, deeper persistence, more vigorous commitment, more courageous hearts. For others failure produces utter defeat – a sense of discouragement, a loss of hope, a desire to hide, a secret resolve to never again get out of the boat.    .   ~ John Ortberg

People’s perceptions of and responses to failure make an enormous difference in their lives – more than IQ, physical attractiveness, charm, and financial assets put together. Those who can learn from it, retaining a deep sense of their own value and marshaling the motivation to try again, become masters of failure management.   ~ John Ortberg

Elijah went up the mountain to the cave and was told that the Lord was about to pass by. (This phrase indicates an epiphany – a manifestation of God.) After a great wind, an earthquake, and fire came “a sound of sheer silence.” And then came a still small voice, as God asked Elijah a wonderful question: “What are you doing here?” The best part of the question is that God did not say, “What are you doing there?” God was with Elijah in the cave.   ~ John Ortberg


In the cave David discovered that, more than he wanted to be king, he wanted to belong to God. He would rather please God and live in a cave than displease God and sit on the throne. ~ John Ortberg

Hope got Peter out of the boat.
Trust held him up.
Fear sank him.
Everything hinged on whether he was focused on the Savior or on the storm.  ~ John Ortberg

Hope is the fuel that the human heart runs on. A car crash or a diving accident can paralyze a body, but the death of hope paralyzes the spirit.  ~ John Ortberg

But for one who believes in God, the hinge point is not simply what I’m capable of. The real question is what might God want to do through me.  ~ John Ortberg


It (Phil. 4:13) means I have great confidence that I can face whatever life throws at me, that I never need to give up, that my efforts have potency – because of the One at work within me.  ~ John Ortberg

When I hope, I believe that God is at work to redeem all things regardless of how things happen to be turning out for me today. Hope does not prevent me from expecting the worst – “the worst is what the hopeful are prepared for.” The Christ-follower is to be marked by what we might call vital hope.   ~ John Ortberg

… what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.  ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active, and sometimes painful clinging to God.  ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord is the continual, daily decision to say, “I will trust You, and I will obey You. Even though the circumstances of my life are not turning out the way I want them to, and may never turn out the way I would choose, I am betting everything on You. I have no Plan B.  ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust. Will I trust that God has good reasons for saying “wait”? Will I remember that things look different to God because He views things from an eternal perspective?  ~ John Ortberg


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