The Simon Peter Lens



Saturdays With Simon Peter—Guide


This is a hermeneutical guide to the series I am writing about Simon Peter.  In other words it is kind of a key for the reader to see the why and how the the general manner of Simon Peter’s maturity is meant for how anyone else may grow.  One of the overarching principles I am taking is that the life of Peter being influenced by Jesus personally and then more via the Holy Spirit is for our benefit. 

Here is the first principle that is a part of the bridge between the Peter’s formation and how Jesus wants to form us individually and as His Body: The New Testament should start in the gospel narratives when Jesus rose from the dead.  Especially as a lifelong Protestant I have seen the Malachi the last writings that are part of the Old Covenant narratives.  Then Matthew is seen as the first book in the New Covenant narratives. 


However the cannon of scriptures affirmed by the early church was referred to as the Books of The New Testament.  The difference in the semantics is significant because they did not see scripture as the change in the kingdom of God but the atonement and resurrection “who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)  Where the lights really turn on with finality in God’s relationship with all mankind is where we are justified by the resurrection.  That is the new timeline.  Hate to ruin anyone’s Christmas but if Jesus being born was and “peace on earth” being declared was enough then everything after would be a meaningless controversial movie for Mel Gibson or anyone else to make.   I say that because we equate with first guess of Jesus birth year to be such a game changer that our calendar is based on it as well as how the pages of the bible.


So what does this have to do with studying Simon Peter?  It matters because Peter’s experience in formation is even more meant for a grand scale application because his spiritual formation is that of a man living in the Old Covenant.  We already see types in the Old Testament that point to Jesus as well as Type experiences that lead us to see an experience with God for His Church that transcends the times in which they take place.  Here is another example. 


I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural[a] food and all drank the same supernatural [b] drink. For they drank from the supernatural[c] Rock, which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-6.). 


“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1)


 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17). 


We know that Jesus does not change so we do the changing.  If we feel distant from God, who moved? 


Okay, but why Simon Peter as a focus?  Why not John? That is where I would go to the primacy of Peter in part of being a model first recipient and respondent of Jesus’ grace. 


To better explain that, I would go to the choir contest.  When I was in my high school choir in Beaverton, Oregon we had a choir concert competition.  Our choir and several others performed for a very esteemed judge and he would give us corrective feedback in our private performances for him.  He would give 1st place and so on to the choirs based on his opinion.  I thought we did pretty well as was my bias for being in the group.  He gave us little corrective feedback.  One of the other choirs received lots of corrective feedback. 


I was excited about our chances but then realized an “uh-oh”.  Our choir director told us that the style of this judge was that the more potential he saw in a choir the more he would compliment it by seeing them on how they could change. 


So to with Peter.  We see him get the most of personal correction from Jesus who is the “Author and Perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:3).  Jesus knew what he was doing.  His instruction, encouragement and, yes, rebukes were a compliment to his calling as the first pope (For my Protestant brothers and sisters that raise their eyebrows like I once did at this, I will expand on that point at a later date). 


But as another part of this spiritual formation flow that follows in these biblical narratives to Peter and applies to us believers corporately and individually I would call Simon Peter the honorary “second-born of the dead”.  Jesus is the firstborn of a new creation but if Peter is then on the inside of God’s Church then partaking of that divine nature can be relatable since there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God.  If he was not too good to know Jesus in the suffering then neither is anyone else that believes they are “called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:38)


Last, on what I hope is not taken with just head knowledge despite the temptation, I encourage the reader to take what is in this blog a renewed ethic of knowing Christ in humility and at times suffering.  An elder Peter said that “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). The Greek word for judgment is actually open for the broader interpretation of crisis since it is krisis and that is where we get crisis from.  But to borrow from the other side of world, the Chinese call crisis an opportunity.  As you see the areas of shaking or even suffering in Peter, allow the Holy Spirit to draw you to the embrace of the Father so you can with fuller knowledge say, “Change me.”  He will. 




Intro to The Journey

My lovely wife and I at my graduation for my bachelors last year.

My lovely wife and I at my graduation for my bachelors last year.

Welcome to my blog.  I thought I would never write one but I always thought I should.  I know there is a cacophony (I’ll try not to use weird words too much) of voices out there.  My hope is to be real here and hopefully offer some encouragement along the way to the reader no matter what their journey looks like.

Every human being is a blend of identities and priorities.  I am no exception and bring a variety.  Here is the jist of what I think it will look like as of this writing.  Catholicism, social work, Protestantism, family, marriage, politics and cults/religion recovery.

The category that I am the most engrossed in right now is Catholicism.  For those of you that have known me for some time this may come as a shock: I will be formally entering the Catholic Church next Saturday night.  I have come to this after several months of prayer and study.

I should probably take a step back and share my background so you can appreciate how I got here.

I was raised in a suburban neighborhood in the Portland, Oregon area in the 70’s and 80’s.  I was not spiritually formed in any formal manner by my parents.  Despite that, my cousin shared with the message of Jesus when I was 11.  I prayed “The Sinners Prayer” with her and in that experienced having Jesus in my heart.  I was glad but had to wait for a few more years before I was in any formal church setting.

From 8th grade to 12th grade I was in the Foursquare Church.  It was a good time of formation about the scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit.  I will always remember the summer that my youth group went through an intensive study of Romans 6,7, and 8. It was great seeing the kingdom of God as a tapestry regarding salvation.  That was a great scene to center myself at times.  I say at times because I had two other sides to me.

One was hellfire and brimstone.  If holiness in God was real to me, then it applied to anyone else I met.  And if my manner of preaching came off too strong then that was their problem (I say this with no pride).  There was even a time where my youth pastor told me that I stabbing people with the Word of God and thinking I was doing God a favor.

Another side was being quite carnal when I would not get my way.  I regularly disrespected my parents and justified it by saying that they did not respect me.  Also, to fill the insecurities of my self-esteem deficit I pursued relationships that were not healthy.

To top it off on the insecurity mix I had learning disabilities growing up that were not addressed holistically by school staff or my parents.  It was a thorn in my flesh that I did not see with grace until far into adulthood.

So along came “Brad”.  In my senior year I was signed up for the army to please my parents.  I was compared to my brother who had demonstrated with his mainstream brain real stability and was ”on the ball” academically.

An older man that came into my life used very spiritual terms about leading a spiritual life and gained a following among several impressionable young men and women like myself.  In the developing years the group moved incrementally to Longview, Washington with a very communal intent.  The movements that we borrowed from included Word of Faith, Toronto Blessing, Discipleship leanings and several home-made doctrines that exalted Brad with Messianic overtones.  During that time I got married and had three kids.  After 7 years as a disciple of Brad it got really weird.  I want this blog to be family friendly so I will spare the reader much of the details but suffice it to say that people were hurt, burnt out, frivolously excommunicated and even compartmentalized from each other on sharing what was said.

Suffice it to say, the weirdness of that last year was not a help for my marriage.  As one of the twelve apostle (yep, weird) I commuted far from Portland since we had moved back so I could be in the meetings.  I knew the marriage was not going well so we went to Brad for marriage counseling.

His advice was as follows.

1: There was too much of the “religious spirit” in my life.  I should “put the bible on the back burner for now.”

2:Stop prayer for my personal needs but step up my prayer life.

3: Stop leaning on others in the Body of Christ.

The overall warning was that if I do not apply these principles I would not fit any longer in this fellowship and could lose my marriage. When my ex left me the second in command told me “you were warned”.  And I believed him fervently.

A month later my then-wife left me for another man.  Taking out children ages 5, 3 and 9-months old.  I was devastated and fell into a deep depression and nearly lost my job due to its symptoms.  Through a good church and several friends both old and new I got my feet back under me.  For a year I carried my bible around with me all the time but made sure that it was not loaded with commentaries.  I wanted to simplify my life.

My church journey for the next several years had a swing on being in touch with God in a holistic sense.  That church that helped me was great for a while but after three years I had a very toxic incident with a pastor that rivaled and maybe in some ways surpassed the spiritual authoritarian abuse of Brad.  I did not want to live impulsively any more about any decisions I made in the Body of Christ.  So I left a year later.  I went to a presbyerian church for a year and then discovered Imago Dei Community.

Since I gave you a spoiler about being Catholic, you may mistakenly think that was my first Catholic experience.  It was not.  It was an Emergent Church style church that had a motto of taking “The whole gospel to the whole person to the whole world.”  It did a good job at that actually.  It avoided being politically partisan, worshipped God with art as well as music, urged people to downsize their Christmas shopping and use the difference to help the poor.  It was good stuff and to this day I would highly recommend them as a protestant church in the Portland area.  And by the way, Imago does lent.

At this point I should share a minute about breadcrumbs.  In relation to where I am now, I can see in the past how the Lord was giving me some hints about the Catholic Church.  In Portland we have The Grotto Monastery.  It is a great place with an upper and lower level to visit.  By the time my ex-wife left me I had visited that place for spiritual reflection with friends ironically including Brad.  But the day that my family was leaving I was drawn there for its tranquility.  In the recent prior years I was getting the Whore of Babylon line fed to me by my cult including even the Protestant expression.  But I went there anyway despite not being really deprogrammed yet because I was too hungry for God.  I saw a wood sculpture that represented Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and felt sensed God’s leading that living in relationship with God comes down to love, trust and respect.  And He still says so today.

So after several years of going to Imago I met Summer.  She was playing a gig with a mutual friend of ours on SE Hawthorne in Portland.  She had an angelic voice and played guitar.  I spoke with her during the break and we hit it off.  It was not until over a year later that we spoke again on the phone due to a ministry she was doing.  It took a while to connect her face with the voice.  By the time I got off of the phone I thought “I wonder what our kids would look like?”  Creepy and cute at the same time on my part I know.

We were married a year later.  She took onto my kids well and I did likewise with her brother, sister and two sets of parents.  Also in these years, with endless thanks to Summer for her encouragement I have earned a Bachelors in Social Work.  I will be starting the advanced standing track for Masters in Social Work in late May at Arizona State University.  Yeah, that’s right.  Sunny Arizona.  Really awesome here.

Another breadcrumb is my twenty- year old daughter Alayna.  She told me she was converting to The Catholic Church.  I thought that was cool since they ascribe to the Council of Nicea like Protestants.  Then several months later two more things happened.  I became obsessed out of nowhere with The Lord’s Prayer.  I came away with a desire for a fuller understanding of God’s kingdom and worship.

Along came Scott Hahn.  I was flipping through the channels one night and found an engaging theologian who pointed to Jesus being the fulfillment of the scriptures like I had not seen in a long time.  He was interesting enough that I bought one of his books.  Then another.  In a month I went to my first mass.  I have been plunging deeper ever since.  I am even praying about a ministry in the Catholic Church called the permanent diaconate. I am really excited to learn.

As for all of what God has for me, God knows. But I am optimistic that in the days ahead where there area challenges and joy that God will continue to be real to Summer, Judah, Meriella and I Those are the two kids we have together.  And hopefully in the walk of faith ahead of me I will see the world through their childish eyes as well.