The Story of When Jesus Calls Peter – Conclusion

Stanley:                      Wait a minute the boat is tipping over! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, you are not going to drown, and we are not all gonna die. Pay attention to what’s going on. Peter is calling to those friends of his with that other boat. They are coming to help us with this huge catch of fish.

Peters net overflowing

Stanley:                      Maybe we can have fish and chips for lunch then.

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley! Pay attention this is important stuff going on here. We’re with Jesus and Peter. Look the other boat is here, and the two boats are hauling the fish in.

Stanley:                      I’ve never seen so many fish in one place in my life. Uh oh! The boat is getting so full of fish that…that. We’re gonna sink! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley! Will you stop that? Listen Peter is talking to Jesus. Now he’s gotten down on his knees right here in the boat.

Peter:                         Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around You.

Mr. Mathisen:          Did you hear that Stanley? Listen! Jesus is answering him.

Jesus:                         Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!

Stanley:                      Look! We’re almost back to the shore. All those other fishermen are coming to help with all these fish!

Mr. Mathisen:          We better get out of the boat and keep out of the way Stanley. Here we are, it’s much better up here on the beach a little ways.

Stanley:                      Can I keep this fish that got into my pocket? I bet my mom can cook it up really good!

Mr. Mathisen:          No Stanley. It doesn’t belong to us. Let’s go back down to where they are spreading the fish out on the beach and put it in with the rest. Wait a minute, Peter and his friends are leaving all these fish and their boats and following Jesus.

Stanley:                      Wow! That’s right. Where are they going? Wait is that Jesus talking again?

Mr. Mathisen:          Yes. I can just make it out He is saying. “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” Wow! It looks like choosing to obey Jesus really changed Peter’s life.

Fisher of men

Stanley:                      It sure did. Look at all these fish! They are just walking away from them. I’ll bet they never did that before.

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, I think that Peter and his friends James and John are going to find themselves doing a lot of things that they never did before, just because they decided to obey Jesus. Sometimes Jesus asks us to do things that may not make much sense, at first. But we need to obey Him anyway because He is God, and He knows what is best for us. You boys and girls need to do the same thing. Obey Jesus and obey your parents and teachers.

The Story of When Jesus Calls Peter – Part 2

Stanley:                       Wait a minute that man is walking backwards!

Mr. Mathisen:             That’s right Stanley. Those people keep crowding in on him and he has to walk backwards to keep from getting trampled by them. Look! He’s turned around and is talking to Peter.

Stanley:                       What’s he saying; I can’t hear over the noise of the crowd?

Mr. Mathisen:             I’m not sure but now he’s getting into one of those boats and he’s talking to that big man. Wait! That must be Peter. Let’s run over and listen.

Stanley:                       Um, OK. You run. I left my legs at home.

Mr. Mathisen:             Oh, Stanley. (Make running sounds) Ok, here we are at the boat. You know I think that we can squeeze into the back of the boat and see and hear everything that goes on. In we go, let’s jump!

Stanley:                       Wait a minute! You landed on me!

Mr. Mathisen:             I did not. Wait a minute! That man is Jesus. This is Peter’s boat and Jesus is asking Peter to push the boat out into the water so that He can continue to preach but not get trampled.

Stanley:                       You know, Peter didn’t look to happy about this to begin with, but he just looked at Jesus for a minute and his whole face changed. Now he’s happy to help. Wow! Talking with Jesus changed his mind!

Mr. Mathisen:             You sure are right Stanley. Peter didn’t want to obey at first, but looking at Jesus and hearing Him ask changed the way that Peter was acting. Now he seems to be really happy to help! And now we can sit in the boat and listen to Jesus teach the people too. Right, Stanley?  Stanley? Stanley, what are you doing?

Jesus-Teaching-From-Simons-Boat

Stanley:                       Vroom! Vroom! Vrooooooom! Huh? Oh, I was playing motor boat with my hand in the water.

Mr. Mathisen:             Shhh! Jesus is done teaching the crowd now and He’s asking Peter to move the boat out into deeper waters. Listen to what he is saying.

Jesus:                          “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

Peter:                          “Master, we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if You say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”

Mr. Mathisen:          Look, Stanley. We’re going out farther into the lake. They’re putting their nets down. Whoa! They caught something already!

Stanley:                      Wait a minute the boat is tipping over! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

The Story of Leaving the Ninety and Nine to Find the One – Part Two – Conclusion

Stanley:                       Well, I sang the song to myself and then I prayed for awhile. I asked Jesus to send someone to find me. I sang the song to myself again a couple of times, and I prayed again. I hollered help a couple of times too, but, mostly I prayed. And you know what happened then?

Mr. Mathisen:             No, I don’t Stanley. What happened then?

Stanley:                       Well, after I prayed, I began to feel really calm and peaceful. It was like Jesus was telling me that He would answer my prayer. Just then, I heard a voice calling my name, and I looked up and there was Mr. Christos. He was kneeling at the top of the cliff and looking down at me. I couldn’t believe it. I had just prayed and sang and there he was.

Mr. Mathisen:             Jesus was really watching out for you wasn’t He?

Stanley:                       He sure was! Mr. Christos yelled down to me to ask if I was all right. I told him that I was, and he told me to not move and that he would be right back.

He went away for a couple of minutes and came back with a rope. He tied one end around a tree and the other around his waist. Then he slowly lowered himself down that cliff until he was beside me. He had me climb onto him in the front. I put my arms around his neck and hung on tight. Then he used his arms and legs and pulled us both back up that cliff. It was really slow, but I was never scared. I knew that Mr. Christos had left all the other kids and came looking for me and then he rescued me. I was so happy that I almost cried.

When we got to the top, we backed up against a tree and just sat up there at the top of the cliff for a few minutes while he got his breath back and I just sat real close to him. He risked his life to save me. He left all the others to come find me. Then he gave me a quick hug and told me to never, ever scare him like that again. I quietly said “Ok”, and then we went to find the others.

He never got mad at me at all.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, did you know that our story today is the Parable of the Lost Sheep?

Stanley:                       No. Are you kidding?

Mr. Mathisen:             Nope. Listen to this. It is from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 4 through 7.

4 “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. 6 When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. 7 In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Stanley:                       That’s just like what happened to me. My legs were a little shaky from being cramped up on the ledge and Mr. Christos carried me until I could walk by myself and then when we got back to the others, he told everyone what happened and how glad he was that he found me and that I was ok and back with my class. Everyone else was happy too. We had a great time the rest of the day. I made real sure that I stayed with everyone else, and I could see Mr. Christos keeping an extra sharp eye on me all the time. That made me feel real good too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well Stanley, what lesson did you learn?

Stanley:                       I learned that whenever I get myself into trouble, the very first thing that I should do is to pray. God will always help me.

Mr. Mathisen: That sounds like a pretty good lesson to learn if you ask me.

Elijah and the Widow – Part 1

Mr. Mathisen:          Boys and girls, this morning we are going to tell the story of Elijah and the Widow. Who can tell me who Elijah was?

Stanley:                      Ooh, Ooh, ooh…I know, I know!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, do you really know who Elijah was?

Stanley:                      Sure, sure, he’s a great big, tall guy that plays basketball. I was watching a game on the TV with my dad the other night. He’s really good. There was this one shot from half court that went swoosh! Nothing but net! It was fantastic! He was great! He won the game for his team.

Mr. Mathisen:          Wow! That sure sounds like fun Stanley, but that is not who we are going to talk about.

Stanley:                      We’re not?

Mr. Mathisen:          Nope.

Stanley:                      Not even a little right?

Mr. Mathisen:          Nope.

Stanley:                      Oh…sorry.

Mr. Mathisen:          No problem Stanley.  Actually, you were a little bit right in that Elijah was great and he won a game for his team.

Stanley:                      Huh?

Mr. Mathisen:          Well let me tell the story and you just ask questions when you don’t understand something ok?

Stanley:                      You mean I can interrupt you? I already do that anyway.

Mr. Mathisen:          That’s right you do and I am going to solve that problem by giving you permission to interrupt me.

Stanley:                      That’s not much fun.

Mr. Mathisen:          Maybe not, but let’s get started anyway.

Stanley:                      Hmmph!

Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1Ki 17:1)

Stanley:                      Wait a second! How did Elijah know there was going to be no rain or dew for the next few years? How could he know that?

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley do you know what a prophet is?

Stanley:                      Sure I do. That’s what you get when your business is making money. (I heard that on the news.)

Mr. Mathisen:          No, a prophet is somebody that God talks to and then he tells the people what God told him. Listen to the next verse and maybe you’ll understand better.

Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” So Elijah did as the LORD told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. (1Ki 17:2-6)

Stanley:                      Ravens? Did you say ravens? Like the big black birds?

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what they were.

Stanley:                      And they were bringing him food? I hope that they didn’t carry it in their mouths. Eew! That would be yucky

Mr. Mathisen:          Yes, that would be yucky. But, I am pretty sure that God had them carry the food with the talons on their feet and dropped it where Elijah could clean it up and eat it.

Stanley:                      That was actually a pretty cool way to get your food. It was Air mail, special delivery.

Mr. Mathisen:          It was pretty cool and God kept it up for nearly a year and then…

* * *

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Kenan and Hagar – Part 3

Resentment took root and began to grow in her young heart.

At the marriage feast the following week, Hagar stood, dressed in finer clothing than she had ever worn before, in the midst of all of the guests feeling honored, but oddly out of place.

There was a line of people each waiting their turn to wish her well. After that was the meal. She was ushered to the head table and seated next to Abram. Sarai sat on the other side.

She saw Kenan eating with the other warriors and hunters. She even caught his eye briefly once, but he immediately looked away. She began to feel very lonesome and alone. She had lost her best friend.

A couple of weeks after the wedding feast, Hagar woke up feeling sick to her stomach. She wanted to throw up and, at first, she didn’t know why.

“Arpa, would you please tell my mistress Sarai that I am ill and will not be able to attend her today?” Hagar asked her friend and fellow slave. Arpa was an older woman that had always treated Hagar as if she were her daughter.

“What is wrong, my child? Are you feeling chilled or achy?” Arpa asked.

“No, it’s something wrong with my stomach. I feel like I want to vomit.”

Arpa walked over to where Hagar slept, knelt down and looked intently at her. Then with a knowing, thoughtful look in her eyes asked, “How many weeks since you were given to Master Abram as his wife?”

Hagar looked up into Arpa’s eyes, “almost three weeks now”.

Arpa rocked back on her heels, touched Hagar’s forehead and said, “I believe that you are fulfilling the role set out for you by your mistress Sarai.” Arpa suppressed a little giggle, “I believe that you are with child, little one.”

Hagar’s heart seemed to both stop and to beat out of her chest. She looked into Arpa’s eyes and said, “Pregnant? But… but… so soon? Oh!”

Hagar rolled back onto her bed holding her stomach first and quickly to her mouth.

“Ummph!”

Arpa stood and smiled, “Do not worry, my child. We will all be here with you during this blessed time. I will go and tell your mistress the joyous news.”

“Oh no, here it comes!” Hagar jumped up and ran out of the tent in a big rush to find someplace to vomit.

The Story of Naaman

Here is a story I wrote to tell in Sunday School. The story of Naaman is instructive for us when we think we know better than God.

The Story of Naaman

By: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

 He was a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies but…he had a problem. The problem that he had was not with an enemy of his country. He could have dealt with that easy enough. The problem was not with an enemy in his own country. It wasn’t someone that was trying to do him harm. You see the king of his country thought very highly of him. Through him, his country had won many mighty victories over their enemies. It says in the Bible that the Lord had given them those victories, so the Lord was on his side. His problem was…with himself.

I could probably be talking about a lot of famous men, but there was one that lived a long time ago in the Kingdom of Aram. We call that country Syria now.

The man’s name was Naaman and he was a leper. The word used for leprosy in 2 Kings 5 could be translated as a “contagious skin disease” and is used to describe a variety of skin diseases, but that doesn’t really matter. What mattered was that “he was a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies but…he had a problem”. It’s hard to be “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies” when you are not welcome at the victory celebrations and your fellow soldiers won’t (or can’t) hang out wth you. It’s very lonely and takes a lot of the fun out being “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies” because you have a problem that no one can fix, except maybe the Lord. And as it turns out, the Lord had a little surprise for him.

It turns out that as Naaman was returning home one day after another victory in battle, one of his young servant girls was thinking about this problem and said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” You see this little girl was captured from the land of Israel by one of the Aramean raiding parties that plagued Israel and had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. But, she was well treated. They had taken her into their home and she was fond enough of her master and mistress to make this suggestion.

Well, Naaman’s wife evidently thought that was a good idea so she told Naaman. Naaman thought it was a good idea and he went to the king and told him what the little girl had said and the king that it was a great idea. After all Naaman was “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies but…he had a problem” and the king wanted to help him with it.  So, the king said, without hesitation, “Go and visit the prophet.” Now you can’t just wander over into a country that you have been raiding and occasionally at war with and go looking for someone, especially when you are “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies”. The local people and the king will start to get real nervous, so the king of Aram said “I will send a letter of introduction for you to carry to the king of Israel.”

So Naaman started out and he took with him some presents for the King of Israel. He took 750 pounds of silver (about $217,200 today), 150 pounds of gold (about $2,220,000 today) and ten sets of clothing (all of this was close to 2.5 million dollars!). The letter to the king of Israel said: “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.”

Well, the king of Israel did not know what to say. He was shocked by this request. He knew who Naaman was and was probably just a little bit nervous having him and his party of soldiers with horses and chariots with him. Not to mention being afraid of a man with leprosy! After he heard this request, he probably had to pick his jaw up off of the floor. The Bible tells us that “When the king of Israel read it, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill and give life? He is only trying to find an excuse to invade us again.”

Fortunately the prophet Elisha heard about the letter and the king’s reaction and sent a message to the king saying “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.”

So Naaman, with all of his soldiers with horses and chariots (and probably the gold and silver and changes of clothing as well) went to see Elisha. They arrived and waited outside of Elisha’s house. But, Elisha did not go out and see him himself. He sent a messenger out with this message. “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of leprosy.”

Naaman was stunned. This was not what he expected at all! I am sure that he expected the great prophet to come out and greet him personally as one would any guest. He expected to be treated as an honored guest! I am also pretty sure that he expected Elisha to come out and pray for him, or put some special medicine on him –or- something grand and spectacular. After all he are “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies”!

Elisha was not impressed. He knew that in God’s eyes even “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies” was just like anybody else and needed to obey the word of the Lord. That was just what Elisha had given him, the word of the Lord and he needed to listen and to obey. That’s not what Naaman did. He got angry and stomped away yelling. The Bible tells us that he said “I thought he would surely come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me! Aren’t the Abana River and Pharpar River of Damascus better than all the rivers of Israel put together? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

Let’s think, for a moment about what just happened. Do you ever ask God to do something or expect Him to do something and He either doesn’t give you what you ask for –or- He gives you something else completely different –or- He doesn’t do what you expect at all? What do you do when that happens? Do you get mad and stomp around yelling, do you get sad and disappointed? Do you stop believing in God just a little bit and thnk that He answers other people but not you?

God doesn’t always fit into our expectations. In fact, He very rarely does. He is much bigger than we can ever imagine and has bigger purposes than we can ever understand. God works on a much grander scale, but still cares about the little things in our lives.

I think that is partly what Naaman was thinking and feeling.  Elisha (God’s man on the scene) was not performing up to his expectations and that disappointed him and it made him angry. Really angry. It’s ok to get angry with God and to tell Him that you are, but you need to listen to that voice of wise counsel too. Let’s see what happens next.

The officers in his army that he brought with him knew him really well and went to reason with him. They said “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply to go and wash and be cured!”

What do you think that Naaman did? I think that he was humbled by what his trusted and loyal officer told him, because the Bible next tells us that he went down to the Jordan and washed seven times. He didn’t just swish his hands around in the water. The Bible tells us that he dipped himself. He got completely immersed in the water. Not just once, but seven times just like Elisha had told him to do. He had become humble and obedient. Even “a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies” needs to be humble and obedient. He needed to put aside his pride.

Naaman then went back to see Elisha and offered all of the silver and gold and changes of clothing, but Elisha would not take anything and refused it all. Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” You can’t pay God for the things that He does for you.

Naaman learned that obedience leads to healing. But, he only learned that after he put aside his pride.

We also learned that Naaman needed someone to tell him about the true prophet in Israel and, in reality, about the one, true God.

So, even though he was a great and mighty warrior, the commander of all the king’s armies …he had a problem, that only God could fix.