Roller Coaster


Transcript & Outline

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Roller Coaster : Distance Dilemma


April 21, 2019

By Ed Young


Wow, there’s nothing like the twists and turns and the speed of a Roller Coaster.

I broke my foot yesterday. Oh brutal. I was supposed to see an Orthopedic Surgeon. If there’s one in the house, if you go by the kiosk afterwards, I’d appreciate it. I have the X-rays and everything. You can tell me the next step I need to take. I’ll tell you about this later, but, right now, I don’t want to talk about it, but I will tell you about it.

I have some fond memories of Roller Coasters. I really do. I remember, as a kid, we would vacation at a little place called Myrtle Beach. Have you ever heard of Myrtle Beach, anyone? There’s nothing like Myrtle Beach. There was this Arcade there with all the different games and rides. It was the pavilion, and there’s a little guy. There was this Roller Coaster. I’m talking about old school, wooden Roller Coaster, and it’s name was “The Swamp Fox”. Is that a great name? I used to stand there as a kid and watch people. Click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click. When the cars were going slow, up, up, up, up, the mountain, all the people would have their hands in the air. “Yeah!” All the people in all the cars, “Wow!” Then, all of a sudden, when the bottom would drop out, and “The Swamp Fox” went straight down, all those people who had their hands in the air suddenly had a white knuckle grip on the safety bars of “The Swamp Fox”, and you would hear them scream, grown men like 7th grade girls, “Ah!” There’s nothing like a Roller Coaster. Finally, I was old enough to ride it, and “The Swamp Fox”, I think it’s the last Roller Coaster I’ve ever been on. I have great memories of “The Swamp Fox”.


I would say that Easter was a Roller Coaster experience. If you take the weekend of Easter, think about that experience. Up and down, twist and turns, things were just happening that shocked and surprised everyone. It was like a Roller Coaster. It was like a Roller Coaster in our Savior’s life. It was a Roller Coaster definitely in the disciples’ life, and especially it was a Roller Coaster ride in the life of a guy I’m going to spend just a little bit of time talking about, Simon Peter. You probably heard of him before. You might have heard him called Saint Peter, Simon Peter. He was one of the first chosen by Jesus. He left his fishing business to go into the soul business. Whenever the disciples are mentioned in the gospels, Simon Peter’s name is usually at the first. He was the defacto leader, impetuous, instinctive, intense. He was a Roller Coaster.

It’s sort of humorous because when Jesus saw him early on, He goes, “I’m gonna give you a nickname. I’m gonna call you The Rock,” and I’m sure when He called Simon Peter The Rock, the other disciples were face-palming. They were texting each other, “Are you believing Jesus said that? This guy’s an idiot. He’s not a rock. He’s everywhere. He’s a Roller Coaster, not a rock.” That’s what Jesus called him. I love that about Jesus because when Jesus sees you and me, He sees the potential, He sees what we can be. Isn’t that great?


That’s what He did when He saw Simon Peter. Simon Peter was on this Roller Coaster. Yet, he struggled in so many areas, and he struggled because of distance.

I’ve been in a lot of airports in my life. I’ve been in private airports. I’ve been in public airports. I’ve been in municipal airports. I’ve been in airports around the world. I’ve been in airports. Lisa and I were in Miami International Airport several days ago flying back to Dallas. If you follow me on social media, you would see Lisa with her backpack with our little dog peering out of the backpack. Anyway, I’ll tell you about her in a second. Ava is her name. I just wanted to say that, but airports are really about distance. You’ve got some people, and I mentioned this at airport, some people are creating distance. They’re flying a long way. They’re getting out of town to some destination, and there’s sadness on the other end because distance is created. On the other hand, go to an airport and people watch. Sometimes there’s a celebration because the distance has been closed and people have returned, and some people have made these return trips who’ve been away for months, sometimes years.


Distance. When I say, “Distance,” I think about Simon Peter because, on one hand, he was on track. He was tracking with Jesus. Yet, he got off track and developed some serious distance between himself and the Lord.

Easter is a time of distance. It’s a time where the God of the universe closed the distance between Himself and man. Our distance was created because of our disobedience, because of our sin, because of our depravity. Yet, God, because He loves you and me so much, because God so loved the world, He sent Jesus to make up the distance. Jesus went the distance for you and me on the cross, and while He was dying on the cross, the Bible says, “The sins of the world were poured out on the sinless one.” All of your sins, all of my sin, past, present, and future, poured onto the life of Jesus. While Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, God the Father couldn’t look at Him. God the Father had to create distance because God is holy. He’s righteous. He can’t look at sin. Jesus, though, died on the cross for our sins, and we know on Easter, He rose again. He conquered death and sin.


We have this power on tap called the resurrection power for your marriage. Maybe you’re like, “Man, my marriage is off track.” Well, the resurrection power is out there for you. For your career, I just don’t know which way to go. It’s on tap for you. You’re struggling with a situation that no one really knows about, a habit that’s really messing you up. You can’t seem to shake it. The resurrection power is available.

The reason I love … Well, many reasons I love the Bible is God’s word, but the reason I love reading about someone like Simon Peter is you see his strength and weaknesses, and that’s something that we can all identify with, and if you’ve ever gotten off track … I have before. If you’ve ever disappointed God … I have before. If you’ve ever denied the Lord, which we all have, then we have a lot in common with Simon Peter.

This guy was a part of Christ’s squad, man, his posse. He said, after they rented the upper room restaurant with the Last Supper and all that, he was arguing about who’s going to be the greatest. Simon Peter was. What? Then Jesus talked about His death, burial, and resurrection, and Simon Peter was like, “Oh, no, no.” He got up in Christ’s face, literally, and said, “I’ll never turn my back on you.” Pride.


Whenever you have a distance issue with the Lord, pride will always well up in our lives, every time. Pride is unique. Pride is the forerunner of all sin. You can’t have out of control anger without, first of all, being prideful. You can’t lust without being prideful. You can’t be materialistic without being prideful. We’re just prideful. We’re prideful people, and it’s part of our depravity. Maybe you wrote that on Instagram, maybe you posted that picture just because of pride. Maybe you dropped that name just because of, what? Pride. Maybe you said that humble brag just because of pride. We’ll confess every sin out there, but we will not confess pride. I’ve never heard someone say, “Oh yeah, I’m just prideful. That’s my deal, man.”

We see it Simon Peter’s life. Simon Peter’s, his hands are up in the air, “Whoa, this is awesome. I’m gonna ride this Roller Coaster, Lord. I’m The Rock,” and then all of a sudden, the bottom drops out, “Ah.” He crashes and burns. This is Simon Peter we’re talking about. Jesus has called him The Rock.

I wonder what nickname Jesus has for you, because I can’t bet you cash money, whatever it is, He knows it, and it’s your potential. It’s what you can be when you turn everything over to Him, when you walk in sync with Him, but could it be that you’re off track? Could it be that you are struggling with this DISPOSITION, this pride? You show me somebody who has a disposition issue, and I’ll show you somebody who is following Jesus at a distance because the Bible says that Simon Peter … I’m talking about during crunch time. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, that Simon Peter, after Jesus was arrested, when they frog-marched Jesus from, talking about a Roller Coaster, from, and we were just there a couple of months ago with about 200 people from Fellowship Church, from the Garden of Gethsemane down the Kidron Valley, up Caiaphas’s house, then down again to Jerusalem, then click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, then up Golgotha where he was crucified, then down into the tomb, and then Jesus burst forth with resurrection power. I’m talking about a Roller Coaster. So Simon Peter was off the tracks, he crashed and burned, because here he had said “Oh, Jesus, I’ll never deny you. I’m your boy, I’m the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour, the tower of fishing and discipleship power.” And Jesus said “Hey, before your Apple Watch vibrates on your wrist, you’re gonna deny that you knew me three times.” I just made the Apple Watch up. Jesus said “Before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me.”

So the Bible says when they arrested Jesus, check this out, Luke 22:54, “Then seizing him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at,” say it with me, “a distance.” What’s up with that? How do you follow somebody at a distance? I mean, Jesus doesn’t do distance. Jesus, I’ll say it again, doesn’t do distant discipleship.

I know you know that I have this broken foot, and I know you’re thinking “Man, I would really love to know, Ed, how you broke your foot.” Well, I’ll tell you, even if you don’t want to know. Yesterday our dog, one of our dogs got out, Ava. And I’ve had all sorts of dogs, here’s Ava’s picture. I’ve had all sorts of dogs. Had Dobermans and Bull Mastiffs and Cane Corsos and all these dogs over the years.

We rescued Ava from Hawkins, Texas, and I love her. She weighs 7.2 pounds, she’s maintained that weight for eight years. It’s unbelievable, she eats like a horse. And I don’t know, I don’t know what it is. My family makes fun of me ’cause I love her so much, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue. She’s mean, she is aggressive, I mean, our Dobermans, they would cower. Our Cane Corso, Google a Cane Corso. They’re like Pit Bulls on steroids. Anyway, Ava, she’ll run off like that. She’s a constant hunter. Anyway, she got out yesterday, which she’ll do. I’m like “Oh.” It’s a beautiful day, I look, and across the street, there she is, kind of milling around in my neighbor’s front yard. Which she normally doesn’t do. Normally when Ava runs off she’s like a Greyhound, gone. She’s out.

Well, we have a busy street near our house, and I’m thinking “Oh, my goodness.” And so I call her, “Ava, Ava.” I’m trying to be kind, you know, but you’re mad. Dog owners, you understand, when your dogs disobey you, you’re like … “Ava,” and then I thought okay, I’ll use some canine psychology. Because whenever she travels with us, like to the coffee shop or whatever, you know, I go “Are you ready?” And when I do that, “Are you ready?” she like perks up and runs to the car, whether it’s going to the groomer or whatever. She loves it. “Are you ready?” So I was even trying that, “Are you ready? Are you ready?” Nothing.

It had just rained. You know, it’s been wet around here in Dallas. I watched her dig under my neighbor’s fence, and she was gone. I was like … So I’m trying to look through our neighbor’s fence, and I just walk into their yard. I don’t really know them very well, I met them one time. And wouldn’t you know, they have a padlock on their gate. Wooden fence, couldn’t see, I’m like “Well, okay.” So I walked back to our street, and I didn’t realize this, but our street just drops off. There’s no curb, it drops off like a foot. And so I’m going “Are you ready? Are you ready?” Had my cell phone, and I take a step in these flip-flops, you might call them … what do you call them, flip-flops, sandals? You know, they’re the rubberized things that are supposed to be so cool. They’re demonic. I turn my foot over, I heard a “crack,” I fell on the street, in the yard, blood on my knee, cell phone went flying and wouldn’t you know, right behind me a couple of Millennials were riding their bikes. You might be going “How did you know they were Millennials?” Because my fall was on social media before they even helped me. And then one of them said “Hey, dude, that fall was like on fleek.” Scoop neck, skinny jeans, whatever. I’m like “Man …” You know, I’ve played sports a bunch, I’ve sprained my ankle, it’s okay. So I go in, I tell Lisa, she’s like “Oh, you’re kidding me.” Yeah. “You need to go to Care Now.” I said “I’m not gonna go to Care Now.” She goes “You really need to go to Care Now, it could be broken.” I said “Lisa, it’s not broken, I’m telling you it’s not. Sprained it, sprained my ankle a squillion times. It’s not.” Back and forth, back and forth. Those who are married, you understand that, don’t you? Yeah.

So finally I acquiesce, and she was so sweet, she said “Honey, I’ll take you.” So we drive to Care Now, and the sweet doctor, this young lady, walks in shaking her head after the x-rays. “Sir, your foot is broken and you need to see an orthopedic surgeon.” Wow, so again, if there’s an orthopedic surgeon here, just go by the kiosk, I’ll meet you after this service, because I really … I don’t know. But here’s what I thought. I was following Ava at a distance. And when you follow Jesus at a distance, you’re gonna fall flat on your face every single time, man. Skin your knees, get all busted up. That’s what Simon Peter did. “Hey, I’ll just follow Jesus at a distance.”

So he found himself by the fire pit outside of Caiaphas’s house, and he’s warming his hands by the fire, (DISCERNMENT) and girls ask him “Weren’t you with Jesus? Hey, aren’t you a disciple?” He goes “No.” First denial.

Second denial, he doubles down, lies again. Third denial, he brings God in and lies a third time, the first threepeat, we see. Coach Pat Riley made that phrase up. From the Lakers, remember him? Pat Riley? Okay, okay. That was kind of a shout-out for all the basketball fans here. So three times he denied Jesus, three times. Warming his hands by the fire. So his watch goes off, the Rooster crows, and at that precise moment they’re moving Christ to another trial, and the Bible says Jesus looked at Simon Peter, right after his third denial. Man, can you believe that? I mean, here you’ve committed cosmic treason. You’ve denied Jesus, and you’re the de facto leader of the disciples, and Jesus is looking at you. And he didn’t look at him with a look of judgment, but he gave him a look of disappointment, love, and grace.

And the Bible says Simon DEPARTED, and he went out and wept bitterly. He thought the deal was done. I mean, the rock has crumbled under pressure. I’m not talking about Dwayne Johnson. He melted in at the most important time. I mean, go back to the garden again, Jesus said “Hey, Simon Peter, stay up with me and pray.” He’s going to sleep, I think he had a My Pillow with him. Jesus had to wake him up three times. “Hey, Simon Peter, pray with me.” He’s sleeping. Three times. Said all this stuff about Jesus, and he’s the man, and now a girl confronts him. When you follow Jesus at a distance, you’ll struggle with your attitude, but also you’ll find yourself surrounded by the wrong people. Some of the time? No, all of the time.

What in the world is Simon Peter doing warming his hands by the fire of compromise with these enemies of Jesus? Go figure. And I’m telling you, I’ve seen this so many times. When you follow Jesus at a distance, you’re gonna make poor relational choices. You’re gonna hang out with the wrong “they,” the wrong people, the wrong crowd. And ultimately you’re gonna get burned, man. That’s what happened to him. I mean, could you handle this as bad as Simon Peter did? That’s why I can identify with this so much. Wow, Simon Peter. Peter followed at a distance.


Well, Simon Peter goes back to the only thing he knows, that’s fishing. So he starts fishing again, and he thinks “Well, Jesus, he’s just maybe a young guy with a Messiah complex who had a bag of tricks, who just briefly walked across the stage of history, and I had the opportunity to be with him for 36 months. It’s done, Christianity is over.” I mean, it’s curtains for Christianity. But see, he forgot about what Christ said. He was so into himself he missed what Christ said. It was all about Simon Peter, and he missed what Jesus said. Because we know what happened, Jesus rose again.

He made up the distance. So the death on the cross is just part of the gospel. The full gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection. And I want to let you in on the best DM, direct message, I’ve ever seen. Mark 16:7. Here’s the context. Some people run in, and they think they’re going to put spices on the body of Jesus, some of his followers. The stone had been rolled away, the grave clothes neatly folded, which means “I’ll be back.” That’s a whole ‘nother message. Okay, okay. An angel is just sitting there. And the angel goes … here’s his direct message. And check out what he says. “Go tell His disciples (about the resurrection) …” And let’s read these last two words together. “… and Peter.”, “… and Peter.” and Ed, and Randy, and Pam, and Derek, and Lisa, and Susan, and Jamal, and Chester, we serve a God of a Second Chance. We serve a God who gives us a Mulligan, Golfers. We don’t have very many second chances in the world, do we. Ask the high school student who got cut from the soccer team. Talk to the business person who was released because the company was downsizing. Talk to the person who has just gone through a hellacious divorce. We don’t get very many second chances in life. But God is the God of the second chance. He really is.


I want you to notice something. I’m going to throw out four words to you, and you can research these later. God gave Simon Peter a second chance. So there’s a second chance, first term, that’s possible. Say possible with me. “Possible.”

It’s possible for you. I don’t care what you’re involved in, how far away you are, how far you’ve departed. How many times you’ve denied Jesus with your lifestyle. A second chance is possible. Because of Easter weekend.

Also, notice it’s Personal. What did Jesus do? Jesus met with Simon Peter one-on-one. He’d been out there fishing, he though it was over. And the sun’s coming up, and Simon Peter hadn’t caught one fish. And this young man, as it was still kind of dark, goes, “Hey, you guys caught anything?” They’re like, “No.” He said, “Throw your nets on the other side.” They did. The nets were packed full of fish. And then when Simon heard that, he thought, “That’s Jesus.” And he takes a step to close the distance.

And then over a fire … a fire! You can’t make this up. Over a fire. Here he had denied Christ at the fire-pit outside of Caiaphas’s mansion, and now he is with Jesus by the fire, on the beach, and Jesus reinstates him. And he confesses Jesus one, two, three times.

So it’s personal. Jesus is doing the same thing in your life and mine. He called for Simon Peter, but Simon Peter had the opportunity to close that distance. We have a freedom of choice, don’t we, to take the step to close the distance. God’s done everything, yet that last bit, we take the step of faith, or we don’t. We either keep the distance from God, or we say, “God, I’m going to take a step of faith and close the distance.” So say “possible” with me again.


Say “personal.”


Say “private.”


It was a private setting. And then the fourth thing, public.


Public. Public. Every time someone was challenged to follow Jesus, they were challenged … it was obviously a private decision, but also it went public. And that’s why at Fellowship we baptize. Why do we baptize? Because you’re publicly saying, “The distance has been made up, I’ve taken the step.”

Okay. As we spur the horse to the barn … I know you guys way up there in the balcony are going, “Yeah, what does that mean? Hey, what’s up, guys?” Spurring the horse to the barn means the rides almost done. I want you to look at the change in Simon Peter’s life. All right.

The geological plates of his life have shifted. He crumbled, whatever, now they’ve shifted because of the grace and mercy of God. How in the world could Simon Peter become one of the most courageous men to ever walk on this planet? I’ll tell you why. Because of the resurrection power. I’ll tell you why. Because of the Holy Spirit of God. Check out what he wrote in his writings after this fireside chat with Jesus.

Okay, the first one. Let’s read this first verse. (1 Peter 5:6) It’s about PRIDE. Remember his pride? He’s prancing around, holding his hands out, “Yeah! Woo hoo!” Let’s read it together. “Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” Simon Peter wrote that!

Here’s somebody that dealt with DISOBEDIENCE. Simon Peter did. Let’s see what that says. Oh, well, he wrote this! (1 Peter 2:8) “They stumble (I know a lot about that) because they disobey.”

How about PRAYERLESSNESS? Remember Jesus said, “Please pray with Me. Please pull an all-nighter. You fish all night all the time. At least you can pray with Me.” Let’s go to this one. We’ll say it together. (1 Peter 4:7) “Be alert and of sober mind, so that you may pray.”

How about DENIAL? Well look what he’s saying about denial. Look what he says about denial. (1 Peter 3:15) “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Wow! So that’s in the cards for you and me, if we close the distance.


But again, there’s two groups of people here. Just like when I talked about an airport. Some here, you’ve created distance. And we have distance because of sin, but you’ve never closed the distance. God has, but the step is up to you and you’ve never taken that step. You see, God never sends anybody to hell. Hell, and heaven, for that matter, are about distance. So when I die, and one out of one die, it’s going to be a distance thing. If I have made the step to close the distance between myself and God, I’ll live forever with the Lord.

On the other hand, if I’ve kept my distance from Him, if I’ve followed Him at a distance, then when I die, God’s going to say, “You know what, you kept me at a distance your whole life. And I’m going to simply give you a greater measure of that in eternity.” See, it’s your choice. You determine, I determine, our destiny. You determine your destiny, I determine my destiny. What’s it going to be for you? God’s brought you here for a reason. You’re either one of two camps. You’ve either closed the distance, or there’s distance in your life.


Now seriously. You’re going to tell me you’re a follower of Christ when you only come to His house Christmas and Easter? Are you going to tell me you’re a follower of Christ when … I’m not judging you, I’m just asking you the question. Are you going to tell me you’re a follower of Christ and you don’t read His word? You don’t talk to Him in prayer? You’re not serving in the church? Seriously. There’s no such thing as a distant disciple. It’s not in here.

So I pray that you make the decision to close the deal. “Wait, how do I do it?” First of all, admit that there’s distance caused by your behavior. I made this decision years ago. Caused by my sin. Number two, believe that Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and made the distance up. And number three, take a step of faith, and ask Jesus, the resurrected Lord, to come into your life. Because when you do so, you’ll discover what life is all about. What being on track is all about. You’ll discover it now and for ever and ever and ever, because forever is a long time.


{Closing Prayer}