USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

April 11, 1999: “What’s Jesus Cooking Up Now?”

April 11, 1999: “What’s Jesus Cooking Up Now?”

April 11, 1999: “What’s Jesus Cooking Up Now?”

In this sermon, Rev. Murray poses the question: “Are you doing any good in life or are you just going through the motions?” He encourages his congregation to “claim your blessings and count your blessings,” reminding them that there is more to life than dull routine, and that Jesus encourages his followers to live their lives life more fully.

During his 27 years as the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray transformed a small congregation into a megachurch that brought jobs, housing and corporate investment into South Los Angeles neighborhoods. After the 1992 civil unrest, FAME Renaissance, the economic development arm of the church, brought more than $400 million in investments to L.A.’s minority and low-income neighborhoods. Rev. Murray remains a vibrant force in the Los Angeles faith community through his leadership of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.

The Murray Archive preserves Rev. Murray‘s sermons and interviews in order to inspire the next generation of pastors, activists and scholars.

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Following is a lightly edited transcript of the above sermon. To quote from the sermon, please provide credit to: Rev. Cecil L. Murray, Murray Archives, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

“What’s Jesus Cooking Up Now?”

April 11, 1999

Anybody here ever been in trouble? Anybody here at all? I know we’ve got some trouble-free people. Maybe I should ask, anybody here in trouble right now? They don’t know what they’re talking about. Tell your neighbor, touch the fire. Tell your neighbor, a warm pull from above. That’s what I am talking about, a warm pull from above.

You are in deep water. You in troubled water. You in hot water and you felt that strong pull from above. That warm pull, pulling you up. I was sinking and I felt a warm pull from above. We want the [Schaffer family] to feel it right now. Mom has lost her eldest son, brother has lost a brother. Robbed of a beautiful human being. I want you to feel that warm pull from above.

Whenever you’re sick and down, God will reach down and pull you up. Then when you get to shore, wet, cold, trembling, hungry. Listen to what John tells us in John: 21, beginning at verse 7. “Then I said to Peter, it is the Lord! Then Simon Peter put on his tunic, for he was stripped to the waist.”

Jump into the water–you know Peter–and swam ashore. The rest of us stayed on the boat and pulled the boat in, net to the beach, about 300 feet away. When we got there, we saw that the fire was gentle. Fish were frying over it and there was bread.

That suggests, on Sunday, what’s Jesus cooking up now? What’s Jesus cooking up now? Everybody say, “Blessings.”

Congregation: Blessings!

Blessings, blessings. So, the first thing you want to do now: claim your blessings. Claim your blessings! Not only when your nets are full, but claim your blessings when your nets are empty. Anybody can give praise to God when everything is alright. When your money is fine. When your honey is fine. When their child is fine and when their health is fine. And when they’ve got something to wear to church, anybody can say “Thank you Jesus.” But when you ain’t got none of them things, when your net was empty, you can still claim your blessings!

I don’t know when it’s coming, but I know it’s coming! Claim your blessings! Claim your blessings. Claim, claim, claim your blessings right now.

Nets are empty, remember Jesus. Peter knows they’re going back to business as usual. After the resurrection, you know how they do. Oh, my goodness, my goodness. Easter Sunday means high as a Georgia pine. Then the next Sunday we’re all back to business as usual.

You know how it is, we kneel by the side of our bed early in the morning, say, “God I’m going to be positive today.” And the first time a negative person comes around, it’s back to business as usual. Back to just fishing, that’s just our human nature.

And this stranger on the shore calls out to them: “Catch any fish, children?” Jesus is about 33 years of age, the same age as the others, perhaps younger than some. But he treats them and calls them children. Young lads. He calls each of us here to today children. Whether we are 70 or 80, 90 years of age, because Jesus represents the Father. “Catch any fish, children?” And all the words in the old Hebrew, and asks, “Do you have any needs?”

Ask your neighbor on the right, “Do you have any needs?”

Congregation: Do you have any needs?

Do you have any needs? Needs are your doing, when you’re good. Are you doing any good in life? Or you just going through the motions of fishing as usual? Oh, you fished all night, you’ve been in the church 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. But have you caught any fish? Have you made a difference in your neighborhood? Have you made any difference in your family? Have you caught any fish? Are you doing any good? I know your business here. I know you’ve been baptized. I know you’re pretty tired of thinking, I’m here in the water, but I haven’t caught any fish.

Is anybody’s life any better before you leave? I know you’re here, you walk for a while, you’ll see just like you ought to. I know you sing when we sing and pray when we pray and preach when we preach, but have you caught any fish? Have you said to somebody, “Come roll with me to my Father’s house”? Have you said to somebody who’s down, “Come on, I know where there’s some fish frying. Let’s go”? Have you said to somebody who is hungry, “I know where the [feast is]”? Have you caught any fish?

It ain’t enough to be on the boat. It ain’t enough to be on the boat. It ain’t enough to be in your pews this morning. Your neighbor is down. Your neighbor needs to feel the warmth of your love. Your neighbor needs know where there’s some fish this morning. Your neighbor needs to hear you say, “Praise the Lord.” And everything that happens, say, “Praise the Lord!” Somebody say, “Praise the Lord!”

Congregation: Praise the Lord!

No, stranger. I haven’t caught a thing. I have been fishing all night. I haven’t caught a thing. I haven’t caught enough. If they notice they aren’t hostile in answer, everything in life depends upon your attitude. If you will claim your blessing, you can’t have a bad attitude. What’s Jesus cooking up now? Jesus is cooking up some good attitude. Some of us have some lousy attitudes. We just go through life complaining. Have you caught anything, boys? Have you caught anything, children? Do you have any need?

Who are you asking? Don’t be messing with me, I’ve been out here all night long. I don’t even have no money to get back to home with. I ain’t gonna be able to feed my children. Who are you anyway, out here asking me about fish? Why don’t you mind your own business!

You gotta understand, the person on the shore can see things that people in the boat can’t see. Standing on the shore, you can see where the shoals of fish are. Some are over here, and you can see some over there. In the boat, you cannot always see. Don’t you worry about whether or not there’s some fish out there. Well, if you can’t catch any fish on the left side, cast your nets on the right side. Somebody out here say, “Hey, there’s some fish over there. You’re on the wrong side of the boat. Cast your net on the right side.” Cast your net on the other side.

See what we’re talking about? Attitude. Same boat isn’t it? Same nets. Same fishermen. What makes the difference? Their attitude. You make the difference. Right now, you’re hurting. Who makes the difference, because God is looking to give you some fish. Who makes the difference? You make the difference. You go around here sobbing and mumbling and complaining and griping and cheating and being negative. You oughta cast your net on the right side of the boat. You oughta try the other side. There’s a bright side somewhere.

Don’t you ask for [sympathy] until you find that there’s a bright side somewhere. Ain’t nobody have enough money, so stop complaining about what you ain’t got. Ain’t nobody here haven’t got something wrong with them. For the body starts deteriorating at age 18. Everybody above 18 raise your hand. Something wrong with you right now and [you] go to the doctor to find out what it is. Everybody’s got something wrong with them. But go on and hear the advice of Jesus.

Find a different point of view. Try a different attitude. Cast your net on the right side. Try the right point of view. What’s Jesus cooking up? Blessings. Count your blessings. That’s the saying for today. First, we said “Claim your blessings.” Now we say count your blessings. Anybody here glad to be alive? Oh, don’t take it for granted. If I’m gonna take it for granted, [some] will tell you, you get to the stage in life, you wake up every morning and say “Thank you, Lord! I fooled your plan. I made it again!”

And he’ll give them to you. Take a deep breath and hold it, come on. See you got in there. Let it out. That’s a big [blessing]. Don’t take it for granted. Count your blessings. Don’t take it for granted.

If you got crew at your house tonight, if your house burned down, how many of y’all here know somebody who would take you in and let you sleep in the bedroom or on the couch or somewhere in the kitchen? Raise your hand now. Now look at you there. Look at your there. Look at you there. How many out here, if you needed $100 would somebody be there to front you that $100. Who’s your $100 friend? How many of you got $1,000 friends?

Count your blessings. Count your blessings. One by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has to offer.

The beloved disciple who’s writing this gospel of John, looks on the shore, he says, “Oh, my goodness, it’s Jesus.” That’s what love will do for you. Love will let you see Jesus. Love will let you see Jesus. If you love Jesus, you gonna see Jesus. Whether you’ve been working all night, there ain’t nothing right by the night, like by the daylight. Your love will let you see Jesus. I see Jesus even through my teardrops. I see Jesus even though it’s supposed to rain today. Ain’t no rain gonna keep me from coming to the house of Jesus. I see Jesus. I don’t know where the next meal’s coming from, but I know where Jesus is coming from. I see Jesus. Whether the choir sings good or not, I see Jesus. Whether the preacher preaches good or not, I see Jesus. Whether you say [amen], I see Jesus.

John sees Jesus. So does Peter. You know old impetuous Peter. Peter puts his clothes on, his belt and tunic, because the water is cold and the leather will help to keep him warm. They normally just fish and he jumps in the water and he swims 300 feet to shore. Listen, John sees Jesus and loves Jesus, but some of us love Jesus and we just keep on sitting down. Others of us just can’t keep it to ourselves. No. I just can’t keep it to myself. When the fire begins to burn in my soul, I want to jump out the boat. I want to swim. I gotta get to Jesus. If I could just make it to Jesus.

What would make you jump out of a boat? What would make you jump out of the boat? And swim 300 feet to shore? It’s when you realize, Oh, what he’s done for me! I never shall forget what he’s done for me. I’m just preaching to the sisters. I’m preaching to the brothers, too. Brothers who got here this morning because you remember when you were out of that boat. What he’s done for me. You remember when you deny Jesus. They say, “Weren’t you on the boat?” Followers of Jesus. I don’t know them. I don’t know them.

Everybody here remember when you acted like you didn’t know Jesus? I don’t know him. You went to Las Vegas, with your rent money, and you said, “I’m gonna leave Jesus in Los Angeles.” You experimented with a hip crowd, doing that trouble thing. I’m gonna act like I don’t know Jesus. They talk about one leg rolling over, that’s alright, you know, I don’t know Jesus.

If somebody tells you that Jesus, he said I would not only from 300 feet, I would’ve swam 600 feet. I would have laid in the water until I drowned. Once I say to Peter, who stepped out the boat, remember before, and he was walking the water, coming to Jesus, until he put his eye on the storm. We don’t see until we start looking around at the bad things that can happen to us. I want to tell you there’s some good things that can happen to us. Get out of the boat this morning! Swim to the shore! Count your blessings.

When he gets there, wet, cold, trembling, hungry and there’s a fire. There’s fish cooking. There’s bread cooking. Don’t ask where Jesus got any oil for the fried fish. Don’t ask where Jesus got the frying pan from. That’s superfluous. The point is, the Lord will make a great supper! Oh boy!

I’m sure Peter didn’t just sit down and start eating. Or get by the fire and start drying out. Peter must have run and grabbed Jesus. Peter must have hugged him. Jesus must have hugged Peter and said, “Hey, here it is.” Wow! “Because Peter, you were the first one out here, too, when I was risen.”

It’s alright, I know it’s human to deny the Lord, but it’s divine to accept the fact that you made a mistake and start all over again.

I’m sorry Lord! I accept your apology. Let’s go from here.

And then when they finally reach shore, the rest of the disciples, Peter is so invigorated. He runs out and he grabs the net, and he pulls it ashore. And Peter counts the fish. Count your blessings. One hundred fifty-three fish. One hundred fifty-three different ways Jesus shows his love for us. Somebody right now has an empty net, but by the time that God saw [that], you will have 153 fish in your net. If you think you have a net, then you’re alright. But you oughta leave here with a full net. Alright! Alright! Because Jesus is Lord. One hundred fifty-three different fish. One hundred fifty-three different reasons. I don’t know how lucky I am, but I want to thank you Jesus! I want to thank you Lord! I want to thank you Jesus! You woke me up this morning. You followed me on my way. You gave me hope in my heart. Count your blessings.

Count them! Count them! Just one other thing. One other thing. What’s Jesus cooking up? Blessings. Blessings. Blessings. Plenty of blessings. Count your blessings. Christen your blessings. Do you know it wasn’t your mama who blessed you? It was your mama who blessed you out. It wasn’t your daddy who blessed you. It was your daddy who blessed you out. It wasn’t your boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband, your wife or your children. They blessed you out. Jesus blessed you in.

No way in the world, somebody shouldn’t have to beg you to come to church. No way in the world. Somebody shouldn’t have to beg you, “Will you come to church?” No way in the world. Jesus woke you up this morning. It wasn’t your mama, it was Jesus that woke you up. It was Jesus.

Christen your blessings. Jesus said, “Boys, bring this on over, 153 fish. Bring me some of that money I gave you. Just put $2 a week in a tray. That’s why you’re so broke! But here’s all the blessings I brought you.”

They bring Jesus fish. Jesus fries them. Jesus cooks the bread. Jesus serves us. Just like we did on Easter Sunday when they came to the table Jesus has prepared. Jesus serves us, Jesus feeds us. That’s what he does, lights this campfire, then Jesus teaches us. Jesus teaches us where we may find life. If you don’t have life in you now, you oughta come to the altar afterwards. Y’all kneel 30 seconds and let Jesus tell you where to find life. You need to cast your net on the right side of the boat! The right side is Jesus’ side. The right side is God’s side. Let Jesus tell you where to find life.

Let Jesus teach you how to find life abundantly. Life is more than eating. Life is more than putting on clothes. Life is more than talking on the telephone. Life is waking up every morning shouting. Life is saying when things are all wrong, Jesus is still all right. Life is more than coming to church. Life is letting church come to you. Life is more than sitting here for 90 minutes. Life is letting that 90 minutes change your whole life of your life. Life is going to the fire.

Life is knowing about buddy, you got a buddy in Jesus. Who walks with you.

When you aren’t here this morning, children, you’re out, you’re home–you got Jesus walking with you. And we thank God he’s alive. He’s alive, he’s alive. Jesus does the same thing for you that Grundy does for steel drums. Sometimes he hit them drums so hard and makes them wake up.

Jesus teaches you where you can find abundant life in the prism. In the 18th century, Congress prints an edition of the Thomas Jefferson Bible. Oh, and in the Thomas Jefferson Bible, nothing of the supernatural. Nothing of the miracle. We are angling for the mind. So, he put moral issues here. You know how some people are? We don’t want no Gospels in our church. We don’t want all that shouting in church. We don’t want all the instruments in that church. We don’t want our preacher yelling into the microphone. We want to be sedated. And sophisticated. We want all the crazy folks out.

You better get down. When you hear the Word, you better get out the Word that ain’t a Thomas Jefferson word. Because you know how the Thomas Jefferson Bible ends? They take Jesus to the tomb, lay him inside, then they roll a large stone in front of the door of the tomb. And this is the last word in the Bible. Then they walked away. That’s a bad Jesus. That’s a bad religion. That’s a church religion, but that ain’t no good for beyond the walls of the church.

I’m so glad he came out of the tomb and said to me, “Cast your net.” When you’re hungry, when you’re cold, when you’re angry. When you’re in the hot water. When you’re gonna drown in the water. Look to the shore! You’ll see some stone, you’ll see some fish, you’ll see some bread! And everybody a hundred blessings on you. Who hung on to righteousness? Is anybody here hungry? Jesus has bread! Jesus has fish! Jesus has fed! Jesus has fed! Fed!