Shipwreck

It was a trip for the ages. 

Paul was in prison and had requested a trial before Caesar. That meant he must get to Rome, Italy from Caesarea, Israel. What he didn’t know was that he could have been released from prison if he hadn’t asked for a trial with Caesar. But since he asked, he was sent to Rome.

It was to be a long and dangerous trip over treacherous waters.  On the journey, they met with a huge storm. God spoke to Paul time and again on this journey, so he advised the crew on what to do to survive the trip. The storm lasted 14 days. Imagine. 14 days on a wooden ship in a terrible storm in the middle of the sea. There’s nowhere to go. There’s no chance of escape. They must ride out the storm. Will anyone survive?

When God spoke, Paul listened and shared the message he had been given. God told Paul he would survive the trip and stand in front of Caesar. So Paul was calm. He showed no fear. God was with him. God was for him. Not against him.  Paul listened to God and obeyed. His life was spared. He earned a great reputation on that trip. He stayed true to God during the difficult storm. 

They had started the trip with good intentions. The ship was loaded with provisions and trade merchandise for their stops at different ports. They had even tied a lifeboat and pulled it behind the ship. But when the storm arose and never let up, they had to start throwing items overboard. They had to set priorities on what was most important. In the end, they threw out most everything. Then they realized they were close to land, so they decided to run the ship aground. Their bet didn’t work. The ship hit a sand barge and busted up. 

When the boat began to tear apart, the soldiers thought to kill all the prisoners. But no. The commanding officer wanted Paul alive because he spoke with great wisdom and truth.  So the prisoners were spared.

Everyone had to swim to shore with only the wet clothes on their backs. But everyone survived.

They. Lost. Everything. 

For the full story of Paul’s shipwreck, read Acts 27.


In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 38:23


We may think we’re living in tough times. This past year has been a blur, but yet our eyes have been opened wide. Some people have had the worst year of their lives. They’ve lost much, and there seems to be no end in sight. They struggle to make ends meet. Their kids are still schooling from home. Unemployment has dwindled or dried up. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated. Families have lost loved ones and haven’t been able to say goodbye.

In this life, as believers, we will struggle. But we persevere with God’s help. God is bigger and stronger than all our earthly struggles. He will see us through the best and the worst of times. In this storm of life, God is calling us to go deeper into our relationship with him. Let’s not just serve God on the surface. Let’s not just serve God on Sunday mornings. Let’s be faithful to him when we need him most. He will not waver or falter. Let’s hold onto him.

We will go through rough seasons in our lives. We may stand to lose everything. We may face loss of life and/or livelihood. But we will survive.  In the midst of the storms of life, God is still speaking. He is still guiding us. We must listen closely and do as he says. We must toss aside the things of life that are slowing us down. We must shift our focus on staying close to God and and obeying him.

Do you feel as if you’re in the worst storm of your life? Are waves of doubt and fear crashing in all around you? Do you fear you may not survive this storm? Have you had to toss aside all the extra baggage that you’ve clung to for security and pride? Have you prepared for the storm? Have you dug deep into God’s Word and filled up with His goodness and mercy? Are you ready for the storm that’s brewing?

And just maybe. Maybe it’s time to stop and count the number of times that God has been with us through other storms. Let’s slow down and remember God’s goodness. His faithfulness. Oh. We may not come out of the storm in the same shape we entered it. We may not come out unscathed. But we can survive and move forward one more time. Let’s remember that the God who helped us in the past will help us in the present and in the future. He never changes.

If we listen for God’s voice and obey, we will be safe in the storm. Oh. The waves may roll and the winds may blow. But God is faithful and stronger than any storm we face. We live in confidence of better things to come. We live in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. We don’t have to suffer in shame. We know that on the day of resurrection, Jesus Christ will receive us into his glory. Let’s live with that bold grace and confidence.

This could be your time. That breakthrough could be tomorrow, or it could be next year. But, you have the opportunity to turn however you’re being tested into a testimony. So many heroes were wounded deeply before they were used greatly!

Tim Tebow

Be On Guard

Have you ever read something that just seemed like good practical advice? It was words you could live by without giving much thought or effort? Until something happens and you find those words aren’t as easy to live by as you thought. Then what? What do you do when you find yourself caught in an unexpected situation? How do you handle it?

Sometimes we just have to go back to the basics of living and follow sound advice. It always helps if the advice we look to is solid biblical teaching.

The Bible is full of sound teaching. Plain old good advice. Verse after verse tells us that we must live godly lives. It also tells us how to live a godly life. We must put away childish behavior and grow strong in our faith. Some of the advice will convict us to change our words, behavior and attitudes. There are the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). And the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). The book of Proverbs is full of encouraging, challenging and rewarding words.

Be on guard. Be alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Is evil present? Should you walk away? Be aware of your weaknesses and temptations. When in doubt, don’t. Watch out for the enemy who prowls around watching for someone to devour. Put on the full armor of God, so you can stand against the devil’s plots.

Stand firm in the faith. Don’t budge when tempted to do or say something you know is wrong. Sin will take you down a path you never meant to walk on. So put on that full armor of God every day. Tighten the buckle of faith. Don’t be wishy washy with your beliefs. Know your convictions and hold to them. Don’t be bullied into something without weighing the cost. Don’t fall prey to watered down spiritual teachings. Know the truth and live it.

You have the Host of heaven’s armies on your side. He’s fighting for you. So fight for him. Fight for truth and honor.

If you are a child of God, then you are a soldier. You are fighting an enemy who wants you and all of you. Can you identify the enemy?


Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14


Be courageous. Heroes are bold and strong. They stand for what they believe. Say no to the enemy of your soul. Just be warned. The enemy may look beautiful at times. Or taste very sweet. The enemy may flash dollar signs and promise untold wealth. Speak boldly the words of truth and correction. Don’t be shy about saying hard things. Be speak kindly. Act mature. Don’t be foolish in the things you say and do. Don’t be a wimp when someone insults you. Be bold. Take responsibility for your words and actions. Just grow up in your faith. Don’t become stagnant.

Be strong. Strength takes work and effort. Perseverance. Strength is born through consistent training. Anyone can be weak. Most are. But true strength comes from battling your worst enemy and conquering your temptations. Satan himself is the enemy of your soul. If someone can learn to bench press 250 pounds, then they can learn the word of God. Nothing is impossible with God.

When your faith is tested, stand strong. Speak words of truth. Don’t fall prey to the enemy’s advances. God is an ever present help in times of trouble. Trust him and hold tightly to his mighty hand.

Do everything in love. Treat others like you want to be treated. Be kind. Don’t cause trouble. Speak truth but speak in love. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try walking their road of life. Lend a hand. Smile at a stranger. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but be kind when there are differing opinions. Be respectful. Honor those who have gone before you. Be attentive to those who come behind, for they are watching and listening.

God’s Word is a useful tool for everyday living. Spend time there every day. You will be surprised at some of the historical events. But lessons can be learned from all situations in life. God is faithful. He will direct our lives if only we allow him. But first, we have to know him. We must take the time and effort to build a close relationship with him. Let’s be uncommon people in a common world.

Your Choice

The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had left Egypt in a hurry one night, escaping from Pharaoh who had been holding them in slavery for four hundred years. God delivered them and promised a new home for them. But after they left Egypt, they disobeyed God.

What should have been an eleven day journey took 40 years. Oh. This people didn’t just disobey God once. It became a thing. It wasn’t necessarily that everyone disobeyed God all the time. But there were grumblings in the camp. There was rebellion. Distrust. They broke God’s laws. They were people being selfish people. They made gods out of gold and worshiped them. They didn’t trust God. They trusted themselves more than they trusted God.

So God used that 40 years to humble his people. They were dependent on him for their daily food. Their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t blister and swell. He tested their character to see if they would obey his commands.

Obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:6

God gave the Israelites a choice as they were preparing to enter Canaan.  The promised land. He reminded them of how he had provided for them for the past 40 years. Were those 40 years a waste? After all, it was just a few days journey from Egypt to Canaan. But because the people disobeyed God, their punishment was to wander around in the desert for 40 years. 40 years. That’s an entire generation.

And that generation had to die off before their children were allowed to enter the promised land.

So here they were. Ready to step over into victory. The much awaited and promised land flowing with milk and honey. Ready for the taking. It was theirs.

God reminded them of his miracles and provision and promises. He told them to repeat those stories to their children, because their kids had not lived through those experiences. Those kids had not seen God work mighty miracles. They had heard but they hadn’t seen.

God was faithful to his chosen people. He reminded them that he would continue to be faithful to them if they were faithful to him. They had to choose. A life of obedience to God. Or a life of disobedience. It was their choice.

Read the full story in Deuteronomy 8.


Choose today whom you will serve. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord . Joshua 24:15


God plainly told them what their lives would be like in this new land. Canaan. The promised land. It is a land of plentiful food and a place where nothing is lacking. Did you catch that? Nothing is lacking. They had hit pay dirt. Their ship had come in. The luck of the draw was on their side. But it was all because of God’s provision and mercy that they were entering this new territory.

God told them exactly what to expect and he gave them a warning. These people who hadn’t changed clothes in 40 years were about to become prosperous. They would lack nothing. God warned them to be careful and not forget him and his commands. Oh. He told them straight out that they would want for nothing. They would build fine homes. They would find copper and iron, pomegranates and olive oil. Honey, fig trees and grapevines were theirs for the taking. God warned them that in their time of plenty not to forget him. He told them not to become proud.

It shouldn’t have been a tough decision. He was offering them a lifetime of goodness if they followed his commands. Why would they choose any other way? It seems such a simple decision.

What does a person who’s never had wealth do when all of a sudden it’s laid at their feet?

God warned the Israelites, his chosen people, that they would be destroyed if they disobeyed him. If they followed and worshiped other gods, God would not be on their side.

God won’t honor disobedience. He wants our whole hearts. Our entire lives. Our souls. Our minds. Our strength. He wants all of our being.

But then. As humans, we sometimes think we know better than God does. We think we’re smarter. Our way is better. Or we’re tired of waiting on God, because he is sometimes really slow. And we’re in a hurry. So we make a decision. Or we do the thing. Or we worship a false god. All in the name of free will. We want what we want when we want it and we want it our way. Right now. Do or die, we’re going to get what we want. Just try to stop me. We say. So forget anything or anyone who stands in our way. We become our own god.

That’s what God was trying to keep his favorite people from doing. Because they had walked down that sinful path too many times before. 

I wonder. This year has us at a crossroads. The times are changing. Can’t you feel the tide shifting? Suspense is in the air. We have a choice. Fight for God or fight against him. Now is the time to stand for truth. Biblical truth. It should be a simple choice. God’s way or my way. It’s your choice. What do you choose?

The Gift of Obedience

It’s a comfortable life she has. Money to buy the things she wants. She travels a little. Has a great family. Oh. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. She loves God. She wants to obey him. She has taught her kids to trust God. To depend on him. To call on him in times of need. To thank him for his goodness.

God has gifted her with talents. A love for others. A listening ear. A gentle heart. He has showered her with friends. He has provided for her needs. He has rescued her from difficulties. He loves her.

God has asked certain things of her. She knows it. But she struggles to obey.

I wonder why it’s so hard for her to obey. To do the simple things he’s asking of her. I’m so quick to judge. I think of what he’s asking of me. It’s also simple things.  Trust. Obey. He’s not asking me to move a mountain. Or to move to Timbuktu. He’s asking me to stay put when I look to move. Why can’t I just trust him when he says I’m equipped where I am? Why is it so hard for me? Why do I seek what isn’t best for me?

I know he loves me regardless of what I do or don’t do. He wants more of me than I think I can give.  All or nothing.  Hot or cold. Don’t be lukewarm. 
It sounds so easy. 

When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal? -Mark Batterson

He’s right. You know. God doesn’t ask us to play it safe in our relationship with him. He asks us to go deeper into knowing him. To move out of our comfort zone and really live through him. He wants us to go all in.

When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus. -Corrie ten Boom

Why do I try to twist his request to suit my plans? Why do I stall for time hoping he’ll change his mind? Has God ever said that my ways are better than his?


But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. Luke 11:28


What if Zacchaeus hadn’t climbed down from the tree when Jesus called him by name? Look at what he would have missed. This hated tax collector chose to come clean on the way he acquired his wealth and return money that wasn’t his. He chose to follow the unknown path of obeying Jesus.

What if the rich young man who was asked by Jesus to give up his wealth and comfortable life had actually obeyed? What other riches and blessings would he have received? He was already obeying the laws, but there was one thing he wasn’t doing. He willingly chose to keep his comfortable life instead of surrendering to Jesus. He’ll never know what he lost.

Comfort and complacency are never safe. It’s stagnant. It isn’t growth. I’m preaching to myself here.

Saying yes to God requires a sacrifice on my part. I will have to give up my comfort and convenience. But look what I gain. Perseverance. Growth. Peace. And so much more. I wonder what I’m giving up by choosing the path of comfort and convenience. Is it worth it? If I allow God to stretch me and use me as he wants, what can go wrong with that? Oh. I may be ridiculed. I may be mocked. I may be an outcast. I may be persecuted. But in the end I won’t lose.

Obedience. That’s the name of the game. Trust. That’s the art of letting go. Sounds so simple. So easy. But not knowing what’s ahead. What’s behind the door that’s ready to be opened. It can be daunting. It could be the best time of my life. And I’m willing to miss it just for the sake of playing it safe? Really? But I won’t know what’s on the other side of that door of obedience unless I walk through it.

To Tell the Truth

She’s new on the job. It’s her second week. She’s deep in the throes of training. She got the job because her friend works there. So she’s in. She’s in the cool girls group already. She didn’t have to earn a spot. She just showed up the first day and took her place. Oh. If only life was so easy for everyone.

But I’ve heard rumors. I’ve noticed things. She has a flaw that could prove very harmful down the road. Once she’s on her own doing this job, she’s going to have trouble if she doesn’t pay attention. Literally. She sits in training glued to her phone. Texting. Back and forth with I don’t know who. Sure. She has kids. But I’m sure she doesn’t micromanage them or their sitter all day every day. Does she? So then. Who is she texting? What is more important than paying attention and learning this new job? Beats me.

I mentioned this to a friend. They gave me a good word of advice. Someone needs to set her straight early on. If no one does, then she will think that what she’s doing is acceptable. I agree. I just don’t feel called to share that message with her. So I’m in a quandary. I want to say something to her. I really do. Well. I want someone to say something to her. Just not me. I’m not sure it’s my place to do so. How do I know if I should be the one to break the news that she’s setting herself up for trouble, when I have no authority to say those things?


Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31


Who wants to be the bearer of bad news? Who wants to give criticism to someone else, even if it is constructive? Who ever wants to provide feedback when it isn’t positive? Certainly not me.

But what if the feedback is the truth? Wouldn’t she want to hear it from someone who isn’t going to berate her? Wouldn’t she prefer it to come from a friendly face instead of from someone who might hold it against her for a very long time? Wouldn’t she rather know now than wait until she’s too far in to be told? Wouldn’t she wonder why no one ever said anything?

Wouldn’t I?

Oh. She might be grateful for the advice. Who knows. She may think I’m crazy. She may run to her group of cool girls and throw some shade my way. Should I care? I know those cool girls already talk about others. I’m sure I’m a regular topic of conversation with them.

I think of Jonah. He was in a similar predicament. Only his included eternal circumstances. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and announce God’s judgment on the city. The people of Nineveh were wicked and had turned their backs on God. It was time to repent or die.

That would be a tough message to share with people you didn’t know. How would they respond? Would they kick him out or kill him?

Jonah didn’t want to share the bad news, so he ran in the opposite direction. No way was he going to tell an entire city that they were going to be destroyed. Not Jonah. He was asked to do a very difficult job, and he said no. He was reluctant to obey God, because he didn’t know how his message would be accepted. He also didn’t seem to mind if the city was destroyed or not.

Of course. He did end up going to Nineveh. He took the long way there. He did share God’s message. And the people of Nineveh repented and turned to God.

I have to ask myself. Do I care what happens to my coworker? Do I want her to succeed at her new job? Do I want what’s best for her, instead of what’s easy for me? How would I want to be treated if I were in her place?

The Act of Obedience

Obedience is a long slow path to eternity.  It’s not always easy when I’m asked to do something out of my comfort zone. Or if I’m asked to stop doing something I enjoy. But oh. It should be an easy act. This obedience. When I think of who I’m obeying. And why I’m obeying. 

Oh. I obeyed my parents as a child. I’m a rule follower. I like having boundaries. Call me odd. But that’s when I’m at my best.  I’m at my best until I want my way. I want the discomfort to end. I want the rewards to kick in. I want out of the situation. And God has other plans. Or his timing is slower than mine. 

I always have a choice. Walk my path. Which seems quicker and easier. Or wait for God to move. After all, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. All in God’s timing. But what if my timeline is shorter than a thousand years? Do I continue to wait? Or do I forge ahead on my own?

There’s an old hymn that I love. Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

So I’m waiting. And I’m uncomfortable. And I don’t like it. But I’m at peace. I’m at peace with myself and with God.

Oh. I weigh my options. I may be faced with surprising choices at some point. But for today, I’m where God has placed me. So I sit and wait. Oh. I’m not doing nothing. I’m praying like I’ve never prayed before. I’m reading God’s word. I’m searching for answers. 

He’s telling me to trust and obey. For there’s no other way.


Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7


When I think of the consequences of disobedience, it’s an easy decision. As long as my head and heart stay in God’s word. Listening for his voice. Because if I don’t stay close to the lover of my soul, the hater of my soul will sneak in to catch me unaware.

Obedience is a daily act. A surrender of my will. A relinquishing of my wants to the divine will of God. It’s a bowing in submission and letting go of all I want. Of who I am. It’s a full surrender of all of me. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh. It’s big. It takes all I have at times. But when I consider the cost of disobedience, it’s an easy surrender. 

I have to ask myself. Do I trust God? Do I have confidence in him? Do I believe he will keep his promises? After all, he never lies. He does what is best for me. His timing is perfect. He is with me every step of the way. So I have to trust him, even if I can’t see the path ahead. I have to believe that he will see me through to the end. I do have confidence in Him. Why would I consider doubting Him?

Trust and obey. For there’s no other way.