Translate

Sunday, October 25, 2015

First Time For Everything


There's no telling what I might do. 

Acts 11:1-18

New International Version (NIV)

Peter Explains His Actions

11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
“I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
“The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Here in Chap 11 we see a reiteration of everything that has happened in Chap 10. 

Peter has to come back to Jerusalem and give an account of all that has happened. 
One thing that I'm raking through my mind is - did he really? Or, maybe more accurately, what he intending to? The only reason Peter has to come back to Jerusalem and retell the entire narrative is because there are so many people retelling it themselves. All the commotion is enough that there are people back in Jerusalem that want to here what happened from the man himself. Peter. 

What is their problem? The statement is just the same rhetoric that they heard when Jesus was here walking with them. The Pharisees were always giving Jesus a hard time because of the company that he kept. Jesus ate with "sinners". Jesus kept a relationship going with the poor and downtrodden in society. The religious leaders just didn't understand why in the world he would want to hang around with them. As the world turns and changes after Christ's Resurrection and Ascension, there are believers here who clearly have found salvation in the name of Jesus, but are still clinging to the ways of that have been taught to them as Jewish people. You don't hang around with Gentile people. Those people are outside of our social network. Those people are not a part of our religious community. Those people don't look like us, sound like us, believe like us. That social and religious fragment of their theology and philosophy is a hard thing for some to shake. 

I can't help but make the shift right into our own world.
How many times has a person had to come to board meeting and give an account of why they spent some church funds on this project or why they went to this place and did some kind of ministry? How many times over the years have you heard about someone getting chewed out by some long standing church member because this certain someone did some kind of ministry that long standing church member just doesn't approve of? That's right where the Apostle Peter is in this moment. Criticism is a harsh agent. Criticism has to do with perception. The hardest part about handling criticism is that people don't always have all the facts before that perception is formulated and then dished out through their critique. These leaders back in Jerusalem have stories being throw to them. All they are hearing is enough to stir the pot and get the fires burning. 


Now, Peter has to tell them his side of the story. 
We know how it all goes. We've been reading it over the last month. God spoke to some Roman soldier through a angelic vision. God spoke to Peter through a vision of his own. Some of the men came to find Peter. He goes back to Caesarea and tell them about salvation in the name of Jesus. To the person who is focused on following our Lord, the account doesn't sound disturbing at all. Unless we are harboring some kind of prejudice or bias in our hearts. It's not just as simple as sharing the message of jesus with some people. It's about whom it was shared with.  We have been eluding to it for months. Now, it is here. There is clearly a racial and social issue to deal with in our make-up. It's hard for us to grasp just reading some words off a page. We don't see it as we read. We can't see color or race in these black words on white pages. The reading of this kind of scripture need for our attention to turn to our own world and see the prejudices that are prevalent right before us to fully understand. We need to see the lack of desire to share the message of salvation with those outside of our own immediate circles of race or preference. Only then does the message of our scripture begin to make sense. 


“Race” is a random human term. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mark Schoofs writes, “Not only is our concept of race arbitrary, but it is based on a relatively insignificant difference between people. Skin pigment, eye shape, and hair type are all determined by genes.”
Anthropologist Eugenie C. Scott writes that humans cannot be compartmentalized into racial categories:
However, even if people in different geographic areas differ, it is impossible to draw sharp lines between racial groups. Few if any populations are cut off from others, and even if laws, culture, and/or religion prohibit it, mating does take place. Characteristics of people change gradually from one geographic area to another; where across Central Asia do European ‘whites’ leave off and Asian ‘yellows’ begin? Anthropologists see races as temporary, changing phenomena, products of genetic processes and natural selection. The races we see today are different from those of yesterday and will be different tomorrow.3
“Race” is a random human term. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mark Schoofs writes, “Not only is our concept of race arbitrary, but it is based on a relatively insignificant difference between people. Skin pigment, eye shape, and hair type are all determined by genes.”
- See more at: http://www.exploregod.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-race

In Sept 2014, a California eighth grader was placed in detention for having a good heart. He shared his brown-bagged chicken burrito Tuesday with a classmate who didn’t like what the school cafeteria was offering–cheese sandwiches. Kyle Bradford, a 13-year-old student at Weaverville Elementary School didn’t see the harm in it, according to local ABC affiliate KRCR Channel 7 News. Said the child:
It seemed like he couldn’t get a normal lunch so I just wanted to give mine to him because I wasn’t really that hungry and it was just going to go in the garbage if I didn’t eat it.
It was a variance to the time-honored tradition of comparing and trading school lunches.
But citing hygiene and possible food allergy issues, the sharing of meals at Weaverville is forbidden.
Tom Barnett, the district superintendent, explained:
We have a policy that prohibits students from exchanging meals. Of course if students are concerned about other students not having enough to eat we would definitely want to consider that, but because of safety and liability we cannot allow students to actually exchange meals.
But Bradford believes he did the right thing–and his mother, Sandy Bradford, agrees. She would prefer that the school concentrate its efforts on education:
By all means the school can teach them math and the arithmetic and physical education, but when it comes to morals and manners and compassion, I believe it needs to start at home with the parent.

 If only the issues before us could be so easily resolved.
This matter in Acts 11 seems as if it was just too easy. It should have been harder than this. But, the words the wrap up this section in verse 18 make it sound like everything is peas and carrots.
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Why isn't it that easy in our own world? Why is it that we have to spend 3 hours in a board meeting hashing and rehashing our biases and feelings about issues that truly should be simple to resolve. (Oh, I've sat through some loooong meetings.) When God speaks, when God shows us what we need to do and why & how we need to do it, the response should be to follow. God wants us to share the message with everyone we come into contact with. No one is "unclean". Places where we wouldn't normally find ourselves going, that's exactly where we need to go. People we wouldn't normally find ourselves talking to or sharing a meal with, that's exactly who we should be talking to and sharing what we have. Put the shoes on the other feet. How would you feel if you were excluded because of your skin color or shunned because of your race?

Jesus loves everybody.
You ought love everyone too.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

No Favorites


God has a funny way of making a point.

Acts 10:23-48

New International Version (NIV)

Peter at Cornelius’s House

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[a] and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Previously we saw where God had spoken to Peter in a vision.
A sheet came down from heaven showing him all kinds of animals that would have been considered unclean. In other words, a Jewish person would not have taken them for food. As we covered in previous weeks, the Hebrew religious life centered around the idea that God has set them apart as God's holy people. This viewpoint, though, seems to have warped their idea of the mission to be a light to the world around them. As Peter would say to Cornelius' household - "
You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile." For the Jew, who they associated with and spent time around was very serious business. Even in their own society, the rich did not associate with poor. The religious did not associate with people they considered not pious or unrighteous. Then comes the idea of speaking with or carrying on a conversation with someone outside of their cultural setting. A "gentile" would be anyone outside of the Jewish life. Regardless of their nationality, the idea of associating with someone that did not believe in the Almighty God of the Hebrew faith was expressly forbidden. 

It's time to bust up a comfort zone. 

Let's take this right to the doorstep of application.
Blacks & Whites. The Haves & the Have-nots. Christians & anyone of any other faith. 

Going outside of our own world of culture or social norm or economic status is an unwritten rule that causes more than a few eyebrows to be raised and more a few sweaty palms in the church pew. God intends for believers to cross lines in order to spread the message of what Christ has done. The focus of this Christian faith is not ourselves. It is Christ. The message is about what Christ has done for the world. We are the vessels that carry that message. The real issue for all of us is that of surrender. Are we surrendered so that God could take us and use wherever he wants to take us and use us? Peter has some ideas in his head that have been taught to him since he was young and he has held these ideas as central to his religious life. Then God comes and takes those ideas and break them up. It's still a hard thing to part with in our hearts even after God shines the light down the path we must go. 

Peter comes all the way to Cornelius' house still hanging on to the idea that he probably shouldn't be connecting with these Roman people. But, God has shown him a vision. There is an air reluctance in Peter's words. However, there is enough surrender in Peter's heart that he cannot hang tight to those convictions he has grown up living by. He comes to Caesarea, because he believes that this what he has been directed to do by the Holy Spirit. All convictions and biases go out the window when we realize that God has spoken. "So, when I was sent for I came without raising any objection." What our passage here in Acts shows us is that the need to share the message of Christ supersedes our prejudices. Everyone needs to know about Christ. Everyone needs a chance to hear. Regardless of their religious views. Regardless of the economic standing.  Regardless of what we personally think about them on a racial or social level. "For God so loved the world..." Everyone. That means you. That means the person across the street. That means the black man holding up the cardboard sign on the side of the freeway. God loves everybody. 

The other major issue that is addressed here is that of how God chooses to bless people.
God wants to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us. However, in our religious and theological frameworks, we tend to think that it has to happen in a certain order, in a certain way. I recall again my time with the Nazarenes and how they seemed to have a specific stipulation about where and when salvation and then sanctification had to occur. A person wasn't saved unless that had prayed and accepted Christ at the altar, in the presence of elders of the church and the pastor. Sanctification happened when the group came and laid hands upon you while praying for you to receive the Holy Spirit. If my religious experience has shown me anything it is that God can do whatever God wants to do in whatever order God wants to do it in. That is most certainly what God is showing Peter here. The principal of the Christian faith is belief. It is not order or ritual. We do not put our faith a how we came to the place believing. We put our faith in the One who saves us. 


These people in Cornelius' house have not been formally introduced to Christ. They believe in "God".
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, "God" is a pretty broad subject until we come to hear and understand the name of Jesus Christ. They hear it. They believe what Peter has shown to them. They have not been baptized yet, or made any sign that they have repented and put their sins behind them. God instead pours out his Spirit upon them. God could be showing Peter that he has the freedom to do things out of order. He could also be showing Peter the evidence that these people actually believe his message. The two ideas go hand in hand. I know as a preacher that I would love to see the evidence that what I am saying is getting through to the hearts of the people I am speaking to. Instead of making a big deal about the exact order of things, God pours out the Spirit before these Roman folks have actually made their commitment through the sacrament of baptism. Reading through this passage gives me even more confidence in how we as United Methodists approach baptism with our emphasis upon God's grace reaching down to us making us a child of God. The important part is not our commitment, but that of God's confirmation that we belong to Him. That validation should cause us to want to make a commitment to God in Jesus Christ. 


"Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." Do you know either blessing? Have you been baptized? Do you know what it means to be made a child of the Almighty God? Have you given your life to Christ and asked him to come into your heart and life? Do you know what it is to receive the Holy Spirit? Has God poured out his blessing on you? Have you asked? Have you sought with your heart? Have you knocked on the door? 

Jesus comes to your door. Regardless of your race. Regardless of what society might think of you. Regardless of what you might think of others in society. Regardless of your prejudices and your hardheartedness. God comes to you. He longs to bring you near. He longs to make you his child. 

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

What Have You Been Smoking?


God can speak through the strangest things. 

Acts 10:9-23

New International Version (NIV)

Peter’s Vision

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

When I was a teenager I heard my dad utter these words more than once.
I would rattle off some cockamamie idea or share some plan I had in my head. He would from at me with those wrinkles that lined his forehead. "What in the world are you smoking?" As I read through this passage with Peter and his vision I immediately realize that at some point he will have to tell someone about his vision. If we were his audience and we are hearing about this event afterwards what would go through our mind? Would we embrace his thoughts and words or would we brush him aside and call up a friend? "Hey, you're never going to believe what Peter just told me..."


God has been speaking directly to people these last couple of chapters in Acts.
Jesus shines in a bright light to Saul on the road to Damascus. Cornelius the centurion has a vision of an angel coming to speak to him. Now, the Apostle Peter has a vision. But, it's not a simple direct message. It requires some interpretation. We will dive more into that next week. The questions we should delve into this week is are - What does it take for God to get our attention? What does God have to do in order to get us to listen to what he has to say? 


Check out this story found in a copy of Weavings, an Upper Room publication.
A counselor tells this story.  


A few years ago, a woman I shall call "Catherine," an affluent 67-year-old widow of a local physician, came to me for counseling. She complained that something was not quite right with her life, but she had not been able to determine what was wrong. During our conversation, Catherine spoke of her involvement in those activities we associate with retirement---travel, club functions, volunteer activities, church work, close friendships, control over her own time, and grandchildren who actually sought her company. In addition, she enjoyed excellent health. As she spoke of her travels around the world and her adventures as an importer of antiques, I thought to myself, not a little enviously, "What a lovely life this women has. If she's not happy with all this, she must be clinically depressed." In my mind I proceeded to race ahead of her story to develop a fitting diagnosis and a plan for treatment. But one phrase stopped my thoughts dead in their tracks. In a tone close to desperation she said, "I'm playing 'antique bingo' in the same way that other people play real bingo: just to kill time amusing myself." She claimed that despite the fullness of her life, she was missing something. "You know, I've kept very busy all of my life: I've always had something to do, somewhere to go, somebody to be with. But now I don't want to do any of that; I don't SAVOR anything! Lately I've begun to withdraw from so many activities, and my friends and family are becoming worried about me... To be honest, my daughter is the one who sent me to you.

"I don't really think I'm depressed.. it's just that underneath it all I have a feeling that there's more to life than what I have experienced. I just can't seem to get in touch with what this "something more" is."

I suddenly realized that this vital woman was not depressed according to the usual clinical definition, nor was she still mourning her husband's death. Instead, what Catherine seemed to be experiencing was a loss of the sense of meaning in her life. I asked her about her spiritual life. "I go to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening - have for years. I have taught Sunday school for the past 26 years, and have been president of one church committee or another for my entire adult life. But sometimes church isn't speaking to the way I'm feeling right now. It's just another activity."

"That's your CHURCH life," I said. "What is going on between you and God?" There was a long pause. "Nothing", she replied "and to be perfectly honest, there are times in the middle of the night when I wonder if there really is a God who is concerned with the minutiae of human life. Yet there are other times when I crave God, but I can't seem to make the connection."

She paused, then her eyes widened, as though she had just discovered something. "I know what it is that I want---and nothing else will do. I want to experience God. It seems as though I've been behaving well and working for someone I've read and heard about, but have never actually met."
 Maybe the question isn't so much about what God needs to do to get our attention, but where do we need to be so that we can hear God speak. As I see Peter in this moment in Joppa, God comes to him along lines he would get and understand. The vision comes to Peter not once or twice, but three times. Now where else did "three times" come into play in the story of Peter? 

John 21:15-19

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Reinstates Peter

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

I don't believe God uses this "three times" method as a way to rub anything in with Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times. Peter is also restored through a "three times" method. Jesus wants him to go and feed the sheep. Now, God comes with a unmistakable moment. God will come along the lines we are familiar with in order to get us to here what he is saying. I look back on my own life and realize that God has done this with me. I was 21 at time. Goodness that was a long time ago. I had done something I shouldn't have earlier in the day. I had asked for forgiveness, but the guilt was still riding me. At the time I was working third shift in a 24 hour grocery store. I went into work that night still feeling heavy with shame. As I carried some boxes behind the meat counter and into the back room, I heard a voice. Not audible, like you and I speak to each other. But still, it was there. I heard it in my ears. "Does anyone here condemn you?" I stepped back out of the meat dept door. My arms still full of boxes. I glanced up and down the meat counter. There wasn't a soul around. I know I heard myself say, "No". "Neither do I condemn you." 

Now, why in the world did God have to wait until I was at work to do that?
Why couldn't he have lifted that weight off my shoulders before I even got to work that night? Why did I need to get to work before that could happen? I have no idea. I've pondered that aspects of it all. At work I was dealing with people all night long. Ringing people up at the register, Helping people find things in the aisles. Talking with a co-worker. Then there was a moment when no one was around. That didn't happen very often. Of course nobody was around at home. That would just be too obvious. maybe God needed to get to me in a moment that would make sense. For Peter, this moment would make sense if God came to him in threes. It's something he is familiar with and Peter would know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was God doing the speaking. 


What do you do when you've never had that kind of vision? That's somewhere we should probably go with all this. Maybe you've never really heard God speak or had some amazing revelation about anything. I like the music of Chris Rice. Music is a special way God has spoken to me over the years. There's a particular song that Chris did back in 2000. "Smell the Color 9" is a song that describes what it's like to follow God without having those lofty visions and always feeling the presence all around. Not everybody gets those kinds of signs and wonders in their lives. You might feel challenged as you live your life following Jesus. Why don't I get a have some kind of "calling" or ever feel that God is speaking to me? Check out these lyrics.
I would take no for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I'm wonderin' why I've never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everbody but me?
Maybe I don't truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe

'Cause I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any close to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin'
So I know I'm doin' fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to smell the color 9
Smell the color 9

Now I've never felt the presence
But I know You're always near
And I've never heard the calling
But somehow You've lead me right here
So I'm not looking for burning bushes
Or some divine graffiti to appear
I'm just begging You for Your wisdom
And believe You're putting some here

'Cause I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any close to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin'
So I know I'm doin' fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to smell the color 9
I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin'
So I know I'm doin' fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color 9

Well, 9's not a color
And even if it were you can't smell a color, no
That's my point exactly

God is close. God is near. Whether you can feel it or not. Whether you have great notions or incredible feelings. When it came to sanctification back during my time with the Nazarenes, they used to have a way fo making a person feel inferior because they didn't have an incredible feeling of "How the fire fell" from heaven and made us sanctified. I beat my own head on a wooden altar for a long time before I finally came to the realization that it didn't have to happen that way. I didn't have to have the same experience everyone else did. Most people sitting around me in the pews never had that kind of experience either. Some person back down the road had that experience and wrote a hymn about it. 80, 90 years later, here we were singing it and expecting God to move in exactly that way. Faith isn't a feeling. Faith is something confident that we can hang on to despite what we feel. 

Whether we have some grand vision or whether we have walked through life in some quiet manner, the following is true. The focus must be on God. As people come to find Peter, he has to make sense of what he thinks God wants him to do. If these men had come to find him without some visions about animals and blankets being lifted into the sky, Peter would still have to determine what God wanted him to do. He would still have to trust and follow. It is what we are to do if we intend to follow Jesus in this life. Give all we have to Him and walk. He will be right there with us. No matter what we face. No matter what we go through.

Others might think there is something wrong with us.
Describing a vision or a voice from above might through them for a loop. Simple explaining what Jesus means to us might be enough to make them wrinkle up their brow. They might wonder what we've been smoking. It might make some look at us funny. maybe they won't speak well of us or understand what we are telling them. That's just how it is. Smell the color 9. Trust God and follow.