" 'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.' Now this He said, signifying what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, 'Follow Me!' "
John 21:18-19

The Risen Christ described the life that was in store for Peter. His life would end not according to his will, his way or his wishes, but by the hands of others. John explained the words of Jesus referred not only to Peter's death, but to the way he died. He glorified God.

Jesus told Peter he would be led to the finish line of his life against his will. John affirms Peter glorified God every step of the way down the line. Peter was not a perfect man, but his life had a perfect ending. He glorified God throughout his life, and with his last breath.

My father's life came to an end one year ago today. Carved on his grave marker are Don Miller, the dates 1922-2015, and four little words, TALK LESS! PRAY MORE! To the eyes of the casual observer, these chiseled words provide a brief summary of Dad's long life. In Dad's case, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

If the little dash between Dad's dates could talk, it would tell of many tears, trials and triumphs Dad experienced throughout his life. My oldest brother was privileged to hear Dad's last words spoken on earth. As Dad was stirring restlessly in his bed, trying to get up, my brother asked him, "Dad, where are you going?" Dad responded quietly, "Almost to glory." From a hospice bed, Dad finished his race. He dashed to the finish line. My goal in life is to follow Dad's lead, and to finish the race. Who is with me?

Life has a beginning and an end connected by a dash between the dates. Peter's reunion with Jesus reignited a fire in his heart for a First Love relationship with Jesus. Similarly, the dash on Dad's stone cold marker is a symbol of the red hot flame in his heart that was fueled by his passion for Jesus. Prayer was the air he breathed to fan the flame in his heart.

The Risen Christ called to Peter, "Follow Me!" With these two simple words, Jesus pointed the way to the finish line for Peter, and to every believer. In the Kingdom, the way you come into the Kingdom is the way you continue on in the Kingdom. Fellowship with the King is expressed by following Jesus.

"Prayer is the intimate communication between the Heavenly Father and His child." Don Miller, 1922-2015

NOTE TO SELF: Prayer fuels your following and your fellowship with the King. Make sure the dash between your dates is fueled by your passion for The Savior, not by an obsession with the system. In the end two things matter in your life. Follow Jesus and glorify God. Pray your way through every tear, trial and triumph. Prayer fuels the fire in your heart for a First Love relationship with Jesus. Keep the fire alive. Follow Jesus.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 24

"He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Shepherd My sheep.' "
John 21:16

The Risen Christ confronted Peter with the fundamental relationship every citizen of the Kingdom must settle before they assume the mantle of ministry. Before Peter engaged in ministry in the Kingdom, he must embrace The King.

Leaders in the Kingdom love the King. They check their egos and logos at the door, and embrace Jesus with a total surrender of their personal priorities, prejudices and preferences. The King places His sheep in the care of those who will feed His sheep, not fleece them or devour them.
Christian history is filled with documented evidence of church leaders carrying out the work of the Lord without being in love with the Lord of the work. What the leaders do in moderation, the people do in excess. Eventually, the church bears little resemblance to the Body of Christ.

The story of revival reveals God's willingness and faithfulness to resurrect His church, when people admit their hearts have grown cold to Jesus. They may have a tight grip on the system, but they have lost their First Love for The Savior. Revival reverses the church's white-knuckled grip on the system, and releases a renewed passion for The Savior.

“The Church right now has more fashion than passion."
Leonard Ravenhill

Investing sweat equity into the system glorifies the flesh, and overshadows The Savior. Make no mistake about it, man-made effort releases a pungent body odor, but it is no substitute for the sweet aroma of The Spirit. The Head of The Church can smell the difference. His sheep can too. In the past, Peter's leadership didn't pass the smell test.

The Risen Christ stepped into Peter's life to reignite his passion for The Savior, not to redouble his effort for the system. Jesus called Peter to embrace an intimate relationship with Him, not to engage in more intensified effort for Him.

Spending more time in the work of the Lord, without spending time with the Lord of the work, turns the church into a machine shop, producing toxic smells of sweating flesh and clanging metal. The Spirit of Christ produces the fruit and aroma of a farmer's market. They both require effort, but only one produces an aroma that reminds people of Jesus.

NOTE TO SELF: To pass the smell test of the Kingdom, don't just sling sweat. Bear fruit. Peter would have to die to his prejudices and preferences. So will you. Before the Spirit released the power of the resurrection in Peter's life, he had to identify himself with the power of the cross. Prayer restores intimacy with Jesus,and releases the power of the resurrection. Your death to self precedes resurrection power and releases the Fruit of The Spirit. This only happens...EVERY TIME. Prayer reignites your passion for Jesus. Accept no substitutes.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 21

"He said to him, 'Tend My lambs.' "
John 21:15

Following Peter's expression of love for Jesus, he was commissioned. Jesus transformed a lead fisherman into an under-shepherd with three words.

"Tend My lambs."

In the Kingdom, the mission belongs to Jesus, but the commission belongs to His disciples. Under-shepherds are not owners of the lambs. They are stewards of The Shepherd.

The Shepherd intends for His under-shepherds to tend the lambs that belong to His flock. Those who are most vulnerable are the most valuable. They must be fed, and given over-sight and nourishment. Jesus called a fisherman to step out of his comfort zone and become a herdsman who would bring comfort to His sheep. Peter would never forget his calling.

"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that He revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."
1 Peter 5:1-4

Claiming ownership and tending lambs are two different things. Under-shepherds serve as stewards not owners. Faithful shepherds never confuse the two.

Faithful shepherds avoid feeding any hunger for ownership they may have for the flock of God. Anyone who refers to Christ's flock as "My church" is in danger of claiming ownership, and failing to exhibit stewardship. Jesus delegated stewardship of His lambs to Peter, but He never abdicated the ownership of His flock to any man. They all belong to Him.

Jesus questioned Peter's love for Him because his love for Jesus would influence Peter's treatment of His flock. Peter's admission of his love for Jesus would be tested by a commission from Jesus. The measure of Peter's love for Jesus would be proved by the way Peter tended the lambs who belonged to Jesus. There is a huge difference between tending lambs and pretending to be a shepherd. Jesus knows the difference. Make sure you do too.

NOTE TO SELF: Do you love Jesus? Tend His lambs. If you are not tending His lambs, then you are pretending to be His shepherd. Jesus called you to tend, not to pretend. Prayer brings you into The Presence of the Chief Shepherd. When your heart grows cold to the lambs placed under your care, only the Holy Spirit can warm your heart. Don't pretend to care. Tend the lambs who are precious to Jesus. Prayer thaws your heart to tend His lambs.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 20

"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?' "
John 21:15

Jesus ministered to His weary disciples, preparing and serving them breakfast on the beach after a long night on the boat. Scripture does not record the breakfast conversation, between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus singles out Peter for the most important question of all. "Do you love Me more than these?"

It is not clear if Jesus is referring to the catch He had given Peter, or if He was asking Peter to compare his love for Him with that of the other disciples. Peter wisely responded. "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."

Peter began his conversation with Jesus with the two simple words, "Yes, Lord." They reveal a repentant heart, not a rebellious one. The heart of a rebel always fights for his rights. Peter yielded his.

"This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead."
John 21:14

Peter had experienced the manifest Presence of The Risen Christ on two previous occasions, but he still held onto his own rights and his personal sense of direction for his life. The third time Peter was confronted by The Risen Christ, he was a different man. When he said, "Yes," to the Lord's way of life, he died to his own way of life. Wise disciples still do.

"Yes, Lord!" is the preamble to every fresh act of obedience, and it serves as the pledge of allegiance in the Kingdom. In the Kingdom, it is impossible to say, "No, Lord." Citizens of the Kingdom treat Jesus as the Lord of their lives with every breath they take, and throughout every day they live. In the Kingdom, anything less than complete surrender to Lordship of Jesus Christ is considered utter rebellion. There are no unrepentant rebels in the Kingdom.
Jesus framed the debate about citizenship in The Kingdom, within the context of love. The citizens of the Kingdom love Jesus, and they are not ashamed to declare their love for Him.

When asked of his love for Jesus, Peter did not boast of how much he had. He simple made a simple statement of humility. He no longer put his trust in his own assessment of his love for Jesus. He knew his love for Jesus was real, but also knew his grip on it was weak. He put his trust in Jesus to validate and to value the worth of his love.

Peter's statement remains a comfort to every citizen of the Kingdom who has declared more love for the Lord, than they have delivered to Him. Peter rested in the fact that Jesus knows. He always knows.

When Peter heard, "more than these," he did not rush to compare his love with anyone or anything else. He simply declared his love. Peter had a track record of comparing himself with his peers, and always coming out on top in the assessment of his value in the Kingdom. This time he left the assessment to Jesus. Humble citizens of the Kingdom don't compare their love for Jesus.

They declare it.

My Dad, Don Miller, died April 22, 2015. He was consumed with a personal love for Jesus that seemed to grow with every passing day. I was privileged to sit with him as he waited for Jesus to call him home. One day he recalled his favorite song.

" 'He walks with me, and tells me I am His own.' Just to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, God Almighty."

His voice trailed off at the end of this statement, and he fell asleep. On the last day I saw my father alive, I heard him speak these final words to me.

"Keep preaching pal. Keep preaching. Keep loving. Never run out of love. I love you." I have his words timed at 4:10 PM.

In his hospice room, Dad came to the same place Peter reached on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. Peter loved Jesus, and he longed to be with Jesus. Nothing else mattered. The devil is in the details. Love Jesus.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't compare your love for Jesus. Declare it. It is a comfort to know you love Jesus. The greater comfort is found in discovering Jesus loves you. Begin your day with "Yes, Lord." Throughout the day, declare your love for Jesus. Don't be ashamed to say His name, and to show your love. Prayer provides you with the courage to do both.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 19

"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn."
John 21:11

John describes an amazing scene. When Peter arrived on the beach after his 100 yard swim on the Sea of Galilee, he found Jesus had prepared breakfast for them.

After a long night of futile fishing, the disciples heard Jesus call out to them in the gray light of the early dawn. He urged them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. These experienced fishermen obeyed, and immediately their nets were filled with a catch of 153 fish. Peter jumped into the water and swam to the shore. He found Jesus standing over a fire.

"So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.' "
John 21:9-10

True fishermen, His disciples counted the catch, but John, a man of experience, added the all important detail, "the net was not torn."

"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three and although there were so many, the net was not torn."
John 21:11

The backs of the disciples were weary, but their net was no worse for wear. Fishing on the Sea of

Galilee was a tough job carried out by rougher men. Catching fish was hard. Repairing damaged nets made it harder. John's point is well taken.

Yielding control of the process to the voice of Jesus provided His disciples with a catch, without damage control. Too often the contemporary church does whatever it takes to draw their net, but their catch results in collateral damage. In short, the catch they count can't be counted on, and does more damage than good. Wise fishers of men allow Jesus to be their guide to His catch. He is still calling His disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and to draw their net in the right way. It is foolish to take His catch out of His hands. Taking control of His catch may lead to more fish, but manhandling His catch leads to more damage control. But I digress. Back to breakfast.

"Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' "
John 21:12

The Risen Christ initiated a family reunion with the men who had wandered from His Presence, but were never separated from His love. Jesus invited Peter to bring His catch and add it to what Jesus already had. Peter counted his catch, because he valued it. Any fisherman would have done the same thing. The point? Jesus placed more value on Peter's love for Him, than He valued the catch Peter brought to Him.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't miss the real reason Jesus called you. He called you to have intimate communication with Him. More than He called you to do something for Him, Jesus called you to spend time with Him. Jesus didn't serve breakfast to His disciples to celebrate their catch, but to offer His Presence. Jesus let Peter count his catch, and bring it to Him, but He placed more value on the quality of the love Peter held for Him. Fishers of men count people because people count, but they never fall in love with counting people. Do what counts. Fall in love with Jesus.


"Revival is when the church falls in love with Jesus all over again." Vance Havner

40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 18

"Bring some of the fish which you have now caught."
John 21:10

Peter's denial of Jesus was an epic failure of leadership, and it plagued him in the deepest recesses of his soul. A witness to the empty tomb, and the manifest Presence of the Risen Christ, Peter still did not grasp the power of the resurrection. He had returned to the one thing he knew, fishing. He failed again.

Peter left a huge catch, jumped into the water and swam towards the beach when he heard the words, "It is the Lord." When he came into The Presence of The Risen Christ, Jesus didn't rebuke the weary disciple for his failure. He simply said, "Bring some of the fish which you have now caught."

Obedience to the King is the pledge of allegiance in His Kingdom. Immediate obedience breaks a hardened heart and opens it up to the love of Jesus. Peter didn't need more fish in boat. He needed Jesus in his life.

"Two things break the heart of The Savior. Rebellion and repentance."
Don Miller, 1922-2015

I miss Chuck Colson's prophetic voice. He made an astute observation of Vocational Guidance Counselors who once served the public high schools of this nation. The title of their office was rooted in the Latin word, 'vocere," meaning "to call." This referred to the nature of their work, assisting students in the discovery of their personal calling in life. His point? Every person created by God has a calling. Discover yours.

For 40 days The Risen Christ taught His followers about The Kingdom. He initiated His relationship with His disciples, by calling them with two words, "Follow Me." They were not called to follow a creed, a religion, a tradition, a way of life, or a world view. They were called to accompany Jesus and walk with Him, talk with Him, learn from Him, and obey Him.

The power of the resurrection transformed ordinary people in The Roman Empire into extraordinary citizens of The Kingdom of God. Peter remained an ordinary fisherman without the power of the resurrection. The Risen Christ revealed His power is still found in His Presence.

When Jesus warned His disciples. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing," He was not overstating His case or denying their significance in His Kingdom. He was calling The citizens of His Kingdom to abide in His Presence. Good citizens follow His call and abide where He guides.

The King still calls His citizens to follow Him out of one world and into another. Loyalty in His Kingdom is not expressed by repeating a pledge of allegiance, but by carrying out a fresh act of obedience.
Answering the King's call and obeying His commands are the signs of a loyal citizen and these acts of obedience are always expressed in the present tense. In The Wilderness the children of Israel learned they could not live on yesterday's manna. They could not hoard God's provision or dodge His Presence. Neither can you.
Personal revival begins with a fresh act of obedience. Sustaining revival comes from keeping your obedience up to date. The power of the resurrection is fueled by obedience, but it is quenched by disobedience. When you fail to pray you begin to stray into disobedience.
"Revival is a fresh act of obedience." Charles Finney
When Peter took it upon himself to go fishing on the Sea of Galilee, he drifted from the calling Jesus had placed on his life. Meeting The Risen Christ on the beach must have reminded Peter of the first time he heard Jesus say, "I will make you fishers of men." Peter traded his calling for a career. Don't ever do it.
Satan hates what is good for you, but he is even more of an enemy of the best God has for you. He will allow you to spend your life being consumed with doing something good if it will keep you from experiencing God's best for you.
Fishing on the Sea of Galilee was a good idea. it just wasn't God's idea. Any prayerless idea holds the potential of a careless act. Take a lesson from Peter's learning curve. Learn to tell the difference between a good idea and God's idea. Prayer helps.

The Risen Christ welcomed Peter to sunrise breakfast on the beach. He invited him to bring some of the fish he had caught, and add them to what He had already prepared. Jesus wasn't waiting for Peter to provide what was needed. He already had what Peter needed. He offered this weary disciples the privilege of joining Him in what He was doing for them, and to enjoy His company. He still does.

Jesus never calls His followers to race to Him to meet His needs. He invites His disciples into His Presence to meet their needs. Weary disciples still race to the sound of His voice, embrace His Presence, and obey the first things He commands them to do. Immediate obedience is the pledge of allegiance in His Kingdom. Pray and obey.

NOTE TO SELF: You are called to follow Jesus. Get this right. He leads. You follow. He commands. You obey. Accompany Jesus. Don't race ahead of Him. Embrace Him. When you pray, you enter into His Presence. When you obey you stay in His Presence and you experience the power of His resurrection. Don't delay.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 17

"So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said, 'Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.' Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and there were so many, the net was not torn."
John 21:7-11

When Peter heard John say, "It is the Lord," only 100 yards separated him from Jesus. The distance made no difference. Leaving the catch, Peter rushed to His Presence. The catch that had consumed him the night before, no longer interested him in the morning.

The Risen Christ embodied the power of the resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave, not only to defeat death, hell and the grave. He promised to provide abundant life.

"I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

An abundant life doesn't include being devoured by the work of the Lord. It is a matter of being saturated with The Presence of the Lord of the work. Covered in the sweat of his own effort, Peter plunged into the water and made His way to Jesus. Sweat equity on behalf of the Lord is no substitute for sweet fellowship with the Lord.

"Anything that cools your love for Jesus is sin."
Don Miller, 1922-2015

NOTE TO SELF: Jesus doesn't need what you do for Him in the flesh to accomplish His mission on earth. He invites you into His Presence to share in what He is already doing for you. Jesus is never in your debt. He provides for you. You never provide for Him. He invites you to bring the catch He has given to you, not to brag about it, but to enjoy His Presence. Don't let your perspiration in the work of the Lord lead to your separation from the Lord of the work. Prayer tightens your grip on Jesus, and loosens your grip on the catch. Peter made his way to The Risen Christ. You should too.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 16

" 'Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.' So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.' "
John 21:6-7a

John's account of The Risen Christ reveals a confrontation between Jesus and His wayward and weary disciples. Standing on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus could see into their empty boat. It revealed to Him the results of His disciples' futile, all night effort at fishing. Jesus can still see into your boat.

It was not unusual for fishermen to have spotters on the shore watching for any sign of fish moving on the lake. From a higher point on the land, friends and family would be able to see a school of fish swirling near the surface of the lake. They would often shout to fishermen to row in the right direction.

Jesus was not chiding His disciples for their failure to accomplish what they set out to do. He was offering His help to finish what they set out to do. Without hesitation, they wisely followed His advice. Wise disciples still do.

"Delayed obedience is still disobedience."
Henry Blackaby

Peter left Jerusalem, after Jesus met with him and the rest of the disciples in the Upper Room. Jesus had breathed on them and exhorted them to 'Receive the Holy Spirit." When Peter returned home to the Sea of Galilee, he set out to do the one thing he knew how to do. Focusing on fishing without the filling of the Holy Spirit always results in an empty boat.

These disciples would not be the last followers of Jesus to experience the death of a vision. Their personal plans and dreams had been crushed by the death of Jesus. The Risen Christ had revealed to them the power of the resurrection, but unsure about their future, they sought comfort in resurrecting their past. Jesus revealed Himself to them in the present tense, to bury their past and to give them a future and a hope. The power of the resurrection still does.

"Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said to him, 'We will also come with you.' They went out and got into the boat and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know it was Jesus."
John 21:3-4

When Jesus arrived on the scene, He asked His disciples if they had any fish. Ttey had to admit to Him they had failed at the one thing they knew how to do. Peter was focused on his past, filling a boat with fish. The Risen Christ intended to fill focus Peter the one thing he needed the most, being filled with the Spirit.

When Peter and the disciples cast their nets on the right side of the boat, they discovered the elusive catch. As the morning sun rose over the mountains, it dawned on John that their catch was not a matter of good luck or hard work. He could see the hand-prints of Jesus all over it. In truth, it was not their catch. It was His catch. John gave Jesus all the credit for it. Wise disciples still do.

"The disciple that Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.' "

NOTE TO SELF: There is a huge difference between casting your net on the right side of the boat, and continuing your futile effort to cast it on the wrong side of the boat. The key to the catch is your immediate obedience to the voice of Jesus. He longs to give you the Father's direction, protection and correction. When Jesus prayed He yielded to the Father's will for His life. You should too. When you remain prayerless, you keep taking your own advice, and you keep missing the catch He has for you. Remember. Here's the catch. When Jesus gives it to you, receive it from Him, and give Him all the credit for it.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 12

"Cast your net on the right side of the boat."

Translations differ on the exact wording of the advice Jesus gave to the weary fishermen. Facing the dawn of a new day, they had to admit to Jesus what He knew to be true about them. Their all night efforts had left them with nothing but an empty boat.

On the Sea of Galilee, fishermen did not make a living, by going through the motions. They proved who they were, not by what they did, but by what the caught.

Jesus told the men to cast their nets on the right side of the boat or as some say, the right hand side of the boat. Whatever they heard Him say, they got His message and did what He said. They stopped what they were doing, and started doing what Jesus told them to do. Wise men still do.

NOTE TO SELF: When the horse is dead, dismount & turn the reins over to Jesus. He specializes in breathing new life into what you have ridden into the ground, by your own effort. Prayer loosens your grip on your will, and opens your hands to receive God's will.


40 Days with the Risen Christ: Day 11

"So, Jesus said, 'Children, you do not have any fish, do you?'"
John 21:5

Standing on the beach, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Jesus could see the weary fishermen had rowed their boat and cast their nets throughout the dark of night and they had come up empty. Jesus wasn't asking them a question to seek an answer. He was seeking their admission of failure to supply their need.

Jesus addressed these hardy, leather skinned fishermen with great tenderness, calling them "Children." His disciples had wandered from His Presence and failed at their task. Wandering and working disciples always do. Jesus claimed them as His own, and called out to them. He still does.
Childish people want their voice to be heard. Child-like people desire to hear the voice of Jesus.

The Prayerless are childish. The Prayerful are childlike.

NOTE TO SELF: Are you listening to the voice of Jesus? Praying improves your hearing. Can you hear Him calling you back to His Presence? Stop making so much noise trying to impress Jesus with what you can do for Him on your own. He knows how empty you really are. The Risen Christ can still see into your boat.