Write This Down: A Tale of Two Fires


“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The following material is from Pastor Matthew’s messages at the men’s retreat for West Park Baptist Church at Fort Bluff Camp in Dayton, Tennessee, October 7-9, 2010:

Too many of us men come to that place in life when the stitching comes out of everything that is comfortable, when what we know as familiar and safe goes awry, and our dreams, expectations, and sense of personal security falls apart. At that point we begin to scramble to make our lives work. And typically we scramble the wrong way.

Peter and his friends are a good example of a group of men who experienced this journey. John 21:2 and following share the story of how Peter and the guys, finding their situation with Jesus to be radically different than what they had previously known, start scrambling to make life work. All of us do this when the stitching comes out of our comfortable lives. For Peter and his friends it was a return to the world of fishing, what they knew, something to help them find purpose and identity. But it wasn’t sufficient for them. In reality their hearts were dark (John 21:3) and they were coming up empty-handed.

But when Jesus confronts them (John 21:4) we see light return to them, and we find that under his direction they begin to find their empty hands made full. And that is typical of the Master. We will always come up empty-handed unless Jesus is allowed to speak into our circumstances. Here he does, and the reward is great. The men catch dozens of fish, proving that with Jesus they may be satisfied.

But that wasn’t enough. Jesus didn’t simply stop there. He went on to deeper things. So it is when Peter runs from the boat, through the water, to the shore, he is confronted by Jesus at a charcoal fire. Of course, the last time Peter was at a charcoal fire he denied Jesus. He failed. But at this charcoal fire we find Jesus wanting to breathe healing into Peter’s heart. And despite Peter’s attempt to curry favor with Jesus (running to get the fish, as if his work might please the Lord), Jesus is unrelenting in simply loving and serving and, by implication, offering grace and forgiveness to Peter.

And the result. Peter discovers that when the stitching in his life comes apart he need not scramble to make his life work and to find identity in old patterns. He simply learns that his purpose is found in being loved by Jesus and in loving Jesus back. And the rich fruit of this love is that the lambs and sheep in Peter’s life benefit from that love, like fresh water pouring over the brim of a large cup. Herein is identity, herein is peace, herein is true purpose.


  1. Michael McFall says:

    It is so wonderful to see such familiar stories illuminated in brand new ways. I have heard lessons on John 21 before but never from the perspective of Peter and his thoughts/reactions/shortcomings as a man. God’s Word is truly amazing and is new every morning!

    Thank you, Matthew for sharing your time with us at our Men’s Retreat. Our class is already making plans to use your sermon on this topic for an upcoming men’s group. Thank you also for your love of Jesus and for sharing that love with us.

  2. John McClellan says:

    Pastor Matthew:
    I really enjoyed Your teaching, You, and the fellowship we had. Thank You for the four messages on John 21, I learned a lot, I also enjoyed hearing about some of the interesting “adventures” You’ve had in Your life. All in All, In my humble, but accurate opinion, I’d say, You shucked the corn right down to the cob. Thanks again for the Great Bible Teaching and Fellowship in our Wonderful Lord!!!
    John McClellan…….Romans 1:16

    P.S. Let’s all agree to pray for Your Dad and Mom’s trip, Their safety and good health.

  3. Pastor Bob says:

    Our great God used you in a powerful way this weekend. Thank you for the work you invested in preparing. We were greatly encouraged. I have talked with several brothers who have applied His truth to their lives. Stay strong and courageous as you share the Living Word.

  4. Kent Galbraith says:

    Praise God for sending us such a wonderful message and an excellent messenger. Pastor Matthew, thank you for joining us for this weekend!

    Rest assured that I will be praying for you, your church, and the prayer warriors you mentioned to us at the retreat. God bless!!

  5. Pete Wright says:

    The teaching from John 21 was just what I needed to hear. The Lord used it to challenge me in several ways. I am thankful for the second charcoal fire and that Jesus offers healing and encouragement at that fire, rather than condemnation.
    Thank you for coming “home to TN” to share what the Lord had put on your heart. Thanks also for sharing your parents with us here at West Park. We love them so much.

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