The Raging Sea
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:35-41 gives the account of Jesus calming the wind and the waves on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus told the disciples in verse 35 “Let’s go across to the other side.”(ESV) While Jesus was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat, the wind began to blow furiously. As a result, the waves grew so high the boat began to take on water. The disciples were terrified!
I have a deep appreciation for this kind of terror. Several years ago, we took our 21’ fishing boat to the Florida Keys for the weekend. We were novice boaters, with less than 20 boat rides under our belt. To add to our inexperience, the Gulf of Mexico was the only water we had ever navigated. That weekend we discovered there is a BIG difference between a windy day on the Gulf and a windy day on the Atlantic Ocean.
We planned an all-day fishing trip on a reef about six miles from shore on the Atlantic side of the Keys. We woke up that morning to 18mph winds (not ideal boating conditions but we only had a few days to spend on the water). We knew it would be a bumpy day, but we had experienced windy days on the gulf and thought we could tough it out.
After a long, bumpy ride, we finally arrived at the reef. But the waves were so high we decided to head back to shore. This is when things got worse. The waves grew so large, and our boat was so small that as it crested on the top of a wave, we sat there for a couple seconds with the propeller exposed. The engine was at full throttle, but the boat was going so slowly it felt like we were standing still. Between the sound of the crashing waves and the exposed propeller the sound was deafening.
In Mark’s gospel account of the stormy boat ride, the disciples woke Jesus in the middle of the raging sea and asked, “Don’t you care we are perishing?” Jesus replied, “Why are you so afraid?” Jesus seemed to be asking, “Don’t you trust me yet?” Jesus had already said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” Every word that Jesus says is true, so when he said this He was telling them “we are going to the other side of this lake.” But in the middle of the raging sea they forgot what he said.
What is it about the storms of life that causes me to forget what His Word tells me? He promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:8) But when I walk in something God has called me to do, and it becomes difficult or doesn’t look like I thought it would, I become fearful and think “this time He is going to leave me, and I will fall flat on my face.” The promise of Proverbs 3:5-6, tells us that when you trust the Lord instead of yourself, He will make your path straight. Unfortunately, when I have been insulted or upset, I will turn to what I see and feel instead of what I know God’s word says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”(Proverbs 15:1)
In the middle of the raging sea, Jesus said three words, “Peace be still,” and creation immediately obeyed. Jesus is the One who is for us, not against us. Jesus is the One who died so we might come to know and love Him. Jesus is the One who asks us, to trust Him in the middle of the raging storms of life and whispers to our hearts “Peace be still.”
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
My three-year-old grandson is visiting at my house. He is a busy boy with an active imagination. From the time he awakens in the morning and comes into our bedroom to say, “Good morning,” he is already role-playing as one of his favorite cartoon show characters. He quickly reminds me that he is not “Joseph,” the name given him by his parents, he is “Poli”.
The character, Poli, is a car who transforms into a robot when help is needed. Of course, this transforming car has helpful friends who also transform to assist any of the vehicles in their imaginary community who might find themselves in desperate situations and need help.
Pretending to be Poli is very real to my grandson; he often remains in character for an entire day. He acts as he thinks Poli would act. He also asks his grandparents to play along. Our Joseph, or rather, Poli, wants his Papa and me to transform into other members of the imaginary rescue team as well.
His play has made me think about Romans 12:2. In this verse, the Apostle Paul tells his readers, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (NIV)
The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
Jesus desires to transform His followers into like-minded friends. Jesus didn’t think the way others thought when He lived on this earth. He thought like His Heavenly Father. Jesus amazed the common people and frustrated the Jewish religious leaders with the truths He taught and the authority with which He taught them. He turned people’s views upside-down by saying things like, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!”
A few verses later Jesus told His listeners, “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:21, 27-28) Jesus’ words were revolutionary; the ways of heaven invading earth.
As followers of Jesus, we cannot think or act in ways that imitate the ways of the world. We have to let God transform our thinking to be like His. To know the way God thinks, we have to get to know Him through the reading of His Word and listening to His Holy Spirit who lives within us.
Tomorrow morning, my Joseph “Poli” will invade my bedroom and transform into a robot superhero. Tomorrow morning, God is wanting to transform my thinking and make me a new person who loves more freely, surrenders more easily and desires His will above my own.
Worry Disguised as Wisdom
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
My toddler boys love it when they get to sit up on the kitchen counter. They get busy right away taking all of the spices off of the spice rack and cheerfully testing the durability of nearly every cooking utensil that they can get their hands on. As the boys sit there playing, they look carefree, happily mixing up imaginary cookies and periodically pretending that the large spoons are swords.
Meanwhile, I am perched behind them, ready to pounce at whatever fall, mess or fight that may occur. My mom-brain is busy calculating a response to every possible scenario that could lead to the need for an ice pack, a vacuum or an emergency room visit. In the middle of their fun, I am exhausting myself with “what if’s”, anxiously waiting for trouble to ensue.
I don’t typically hover over my children awaiting disaster, but there is just something about my boys being up so high and being too young to recognize the possible dangers, that sends me into a frenzy of over-analyzation, and, alright, I’ll say it, worry.
What is worry? Worry is the lack of faith in God’s perfect provision. It causes us to make bad choices or paralyzes us from being able to make choices at all. It brings God's sovereignty into question and leaves no room for faith. Ultimately, worry is the foolish thing that we do when we are afraid that life won’t go our way.
Are there times when it is wise to worry?
No. But, sometimes worry can disguise itself as wisdom. A good example of this is my reaction to the boys sitting up on the counter. Since the boys are so young, it is wise for me to be cautious, to stand close by and to supervise, but it is unwise for me to let that caution turn into a spirit of fear; which 2 Timothy 1:7 says, is not from God.
In this scenario, I was wearing a mask that looked an awful lot like a concerned mom, but in reality, it was just my fear playing dress-up. Not only was I exhausting myself with all of the “what if’s”, but I was also missing out on the sweetness of the moment with my children. Worry deceived me; it caused me to react foolishly and prevented me from enjoying the happiness that was right in front of my face.
Worry will steal our joy if we let it, so we must choose to trust in the Lord at all times. The wisdom that He provides us will never lead us into fear. Instead, as we read in Psalm 94:19, when we are anxious, the Lord will comfort us and restore our joy.
Today, there are many things that have the power to cause us to worry, but we must never allow ourselves to be fooled by this counterfeit wisdom. Instead, we must cling to Godly wisdom; relying on His sovereignty and the truth of His word, which beckons us to not be afraid!
I've Got This
“He does not value the power of a man. The LORD values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.”
I have never been someone that is good at accepting help. I could have my hands full of things, while holding one of my children, and trying to open my car door, and still reject help if someone offered. I may look like a crazed Mom but, by golly, I did it all by myself. Accepting help is difficult for me because I feel like I am putting someone out. However, deep down behind that excuse, the issue is pride. I want to know that I did “it” on my own. As God often does, to purify us into His likeness, He forced me to face this issue head on about 2 years ago.
In October of 2018, the miscarriage of our third baby was the result of an ectopic pregnancy. The ectopic pregnancy was causing internal bleeding, so throughout the course of two weeks, I had multiple trips to the hospital and ultimately ended up having an impromptu surgery to stop the bleeding. Our nearest family was hours away, and the thought of asking my friends to watch our two children was so uncomfortable to me. Obviously, my husband and I could not be in two places at once, so we had to accept the help that was so generously offered. Even though they were all more than willing to help, it was a struggle for me to let go of my pride. It was amazing to see how God used our church, the body of Christ, to take on the role of “family” and shower us with love and support. He also provided ways for some of our family to come be with us as well.
Not only is God teaching me how to accept help from other people, He’s also teaching me how to accept help from Him. Whether I realize it or not, I often find myself operating in my own strength, even if it’s unintentional. When an issue arises, my first step should be to ask for His wisdom and help, yet I tend to draw from my own strength to figure out how to solve the problem. Even in the mundane things of life, like laundry, I could ask for His motivation and thankfulness to do them, instead of grumbling.
He alone is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (existing everywhere), and omniscient (all knowing). God never intended for any of us to strive to be these things and He makes that very clear in His Word. Psalm 147:10-11 says, “He does not value the power of a man. The LORD values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.” This verse is so profound because it reminds us that God does not deem us valuable because of what we do in our own strength. Instead, He values a humble heart that is in awe of and totally reliant on Him. Whether it’s relying on His equipping and understanding instead of our own, or accepting help from other people that God has placed in our lives.
“For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
I am drawn to Simon Peter. This is probably because I am short tempered, just as flawed as he was, and would rather grab the sword to defend my Savior then gently discuss the matter. So, oddly enough, Peter brings me comfort. Why? Because no matter how much of a loose cannon Peter was, he was still chosen to be in Jesus’ inner circle, one of the three.
As I have been reading God’s word lately, I have noticed that Jesus invited Peter to be a part of His story on several occasions. Take the miraculous catch of fish, the time when Jesus called Peter to be His disciple. Jesus could have performed this miracle all on His own. Instead, He intentionally got into Peter’s boat and asked him to throw his net into the water. This was Peter’s first invitation to join Jesus’ story. Then there was the time that Jesus took Peter to the mountain where He was transfigured before him. Peter was invited to see Jesus in His heavenly form, only one of a few people who were given this honor. What about the time that Jesus invited Peter to come out of the boat and walk on the water with him? This account is often looked upon as Peter being weak when he went under water because he took his eyes off Jesus. But what about the courage it took Peter to take Jesus at His word, accept His invitation and join Him on such an adventure of faith and trust?
And let us not forget the feeding of the 5,000. Again, Jesus did not need anyone’s assistance in feeding the crowd, but He invited Peter and the other disciples to be a part of the dialogue anyways. Why? Because I believe that it has always been Jesus’ intention to allow us to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Jesus has planted in our hearts the desire to follow Him, to do great things for His glory, and to make His name famous. Jesus beckons us with His invitation to join Him as He moves mountains here on earth. What a privilege and honor that He would ask me…short tempered, flawed me. Ahh, but that is the beauty. It is through my imperfections that Jesus is glorified because only God could work that miracle in my life, move that mountain, or close that lion’s mouth.
Jesus wants us to take part in furthering His kingdom and displaying His glory as well. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Before you were born, God created a plan for your life that points others to Jesus. He has given you gifts and talents that help to display the glory of Jesus and lead others to a saving relationship with Him. Will you accept Jesus’ offer to play an active role in His story, just like Peter did?
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.