Perfect ‘Storm’ [v193]

MARCH 2015

Perfect ‘Storm’

A few weeks ago, I was flipping thru the TV channels and came across the movie “The Perfect Storm.” For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a true story, from 1991, about when a Category 5 hurricane combined with a cold front from Canada on the Massachusetts’ coast to form a “100-year storm.” The movie was centered around the captain and the crew of a 90-foot fishing boat.

When the ice machine on board broke, they were forced to stop fishing and head for home. It was just then that they were alerted to the intensity of a storm that was between them and their port.

The captain gave his crew two options. They could safely wait out the storm and let the fish spoil, or they could try to sail through the storm and be honored for their great catch. They decided to ‘take on’ the storm.

Well, the storm pounded them with huge waves, which they fought with all their strength. However, their strength was inadequate, and after awhile, with their battered boat, they tried to exit the storm—but it was too late. Their boat capsized and was ‘surrendered’ to the sea.

It wasn’t a pleasant movie, since it reminded me of all of the ‘storms’ I’ve been going through right now in my life. As I mentioned last month, I’m dealing with another total knee surgery issue after the third surgery; my business is slow; financial pressures are intense; there’s close personal relationship strains; and a few other ‘niggles’ to push it to the ‘limit’.

During a few recent of my prayer times, I ‘felt’ that I was being ‘led’ to read a few stories in the Bible that were similar to the movie, but had very different endings.

 

The first story is from the gospel of Mark, where he tells of the time that Jesus and His disciples were going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A storm came up very quickly, and in no time the boat was full of water and was sinking—they were headed for the bottom of the sea unless the storm ceased. This was one serious crisis confronting them!

“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” [ Mark 4:35-41 ].

As the passage notes, while they were frantically trying to save a sinking boat, Jesus was asleep. Didn’t He care that they were all about to die? Well, after Jesus calmed the storm, He asked a penetrating question, “Why were you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Then they were even more afraid, exclaiming to each other that this is Someone with ‘power’—but was He ‘good’ or ‘evil’?

Jesus allowed this storm to come up so that the disciples would trust Him in the midst of it, not in themselves or in the boat. In the same way God allows ‘storms’ to come in our lives so that we will place our faith in Him, and not in ourselves or our possessions.

 

No one enjoys suffering. But in the hands of almighty God, trials become ‘tools’. He uses hardship to shape His believers into the people He intends them to be. Jesus allowed the disciples to experience the fear and anxiety of being in a boat on a raging sea. He permitted them to suffer because He had something far more important to teach them. He wanted the disciples to recognize their own helplessness, His sufficiency, and their dependence on Him.

Even in a storm God is in control. He hasn’t left you. You may not feel Him. If you feel far from Him, guess who ‘moved’? He hasn’t left you. He’s right there with you in that storm. He’ll help you through it. Just like Jesus with His disciples, God is testing you to see if you’ll trust Him.

 

I was also then ‘prompted’ to read a similar episode that the Apostle Paul went through when he was sailing to Rome to stand trial and be adjudicated by Caesar, the Emperor.

Similarly to the incident on the Sea of Galilee, as the ship Paul was sailing on was passing the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, a violent wind of hurricane force, called “Euraquilo,” drove the ship along out of control, requiring the sailors to throw the cargo overboard. After 14 days of being battered by the storm, they sensed that they were approaching land, so they dropped four anchors for fear they would be ‘dashed’ against the rocks. After seeing land, they cut loose the anchors to try to run the ship aground. But, the bow stuck in a sandbar, and the stern was being broken to pieces—so they all jumped overboard, grabbed what ship debris was floating around and swam to shore. All made it safely to shore. [ Acts 27-28 ].

 

Have you ever been shipwrecked? Perhaps not literally, but maybe you have been figuratively shipwrecked. Have you ever found yourself holding onto the ‘debris’ of what is left of your life while the waves push you to the shore? Has your life ever crashed on a ‘sandbar’ and had the ‘waves’ were smashing it to pieces? Were you on the verge of losing all hope that you would be rescued?

If you have, then you know what these sailors were going through. Sometimes there is no difference between a storm at sea and a storm in your life. Sometimes we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the waves are looming high over our heads, the wind is howling and the sea is roaring in all its fury. We are caught in a storm without seeing any way out and we wonder WHERE GOD IS!

 

During depressing times, you may ask: “God, where are You?,” “Why don’t You help me?;” Have You forgotten me?;” “Have You even heard my prayer?;” “What’s wrong with me?;” “Am I going to make it?;” “I am really confused.” (I have ‘cried out’ to God every one of these!)

 

So then, what should we do while we are waiting for the crisis to end? Well, the same thing the sailors did:

“Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight” [ Acts 27:29 ]. ‘Anchor’ yourself on the truths of God and pray fervently!

No matter how bleak your situation may be, continue to pray. Just as God took care of the Apostle Paul and all the sailors, He will take care of you. He will see you through the storm because He cares about you and He cares for you!

 

Remember, you are not alone either. There are many others who are going through the storm (I’m right there with you!) or who have gone through storms. God also uses ‘storms’ to teach us how to help others who are going through and those who will go through storms.

You know, there will always be times when we may not feel like God is near, but it is in those times when we can’t feel God’s presence that we need to trust Him. God wants us to trust Him no matter what. If we only trusted Him in the good times, we wouldn’t really be trusting Him. He wants us to rely on Him.

 

In the Bible, in the book of Psalms (many are laments to God), God said He will be “our shelter.” Called a “Song of Ascents,” it tells about that security—a place of rest, comfort, and hope:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”

 

Most of us have a tendency to be just like those sailors. We think we see an easy way out of a situation so we try to take it. But, in the story, the easy way out was not God’s way out. God wanted the men to stay on the ship until it crashed against the shore. Paul may or may not have known God’s reasoning, what is important is that he chose to obey. So should we. If we see any easy way out but God does not give us permission to go that way…don’t. God has never yet stopped the earth from spinning just so I could ‘step off’. That would not allow God to shape my character (and I’m not sure what I would do different anyway).

God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now!

 

Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming, and we think we are ‘going under’ for the last time.

God says this to you: You may get ‘drenched’; You may lose the ‘cargo’; You may lose the ‘tackle’ of your ‘ship’; You may lose your ‘ship’—but YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT, because God promises that!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” [ Jeremiah 29:11 ].

Someone said; “To realize the worth of the anchor we need to feel the storm.” That is, for you to know how ‘worthy’ God is, you need to ‘experience’ His leading to get you through some rough ‘storms’!

 

All these ‘storms’ are designed to draw us nearer to our Lord rather then nearer ourselves or what we think is our security.

The thing is, God does not fill in all the details about what will happen to us along the way. Why would we need faith if He did so?

 

Just like there were four anchors the sailors put into the sea to stop the ship, let me suggest that there’s also four keys to weathering the storms of life:

1) Realize God’s PROMISES ‘before’ the storms:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” [ Hebrews 13:5 ].

“Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told” [ Acts 27:25 ].

2) Realize God’s PRESENCE ‘during’ the storms:

“He commands and raises the stormy wind, …and He brings them out of their distresses” [ Psalms 107:25,28 ].

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire” [1 Peter 1:6-7 ].

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” [ Isaiah 43:2 ].

3) Realize God’s PURPOSES ‘behind’ the storms:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

“But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” [ Romans 5:3-5 ].

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” [ James 1:2-4 ].

4) Realize God’s PRESERVATION ‘after’ the storms.

“These little troubles, which are temporary, are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward all out of proportion to our pain” [ 2 Corinthians 4:17 ].

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” [ Proverbs 3:5-6 ].

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [ Matthew 11:28-30 ].

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” [ Revelation 21: 3-4 ].

 

Here is what a ‘storm’ in your life does not mean—that God does not love you, that He is angry with you, or that He is paying you back for something. God is not ‘toying’ with you!

Sometimes the storms that happen in our lives are self-made. But many times it is just that storms happen, and trying to analyze what happened or assign blame is a fruitless activity. We live in a ‘fallen’ world, and as Jesus said, “[God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” [ Matthew 5:45 ].  In other words, good and bad happen to all. The important thing is putting our trust in God that He will ‘see’ us through it.

 

One last story to ‘hammer home’ what I’m saying (about the wise and foolish builders):

“They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete” [ Luke 6:48-49 ].

Jesus was telling the disciples that EVERYONE HAS STORMS, but building a secure foundation, which takes hard work, will be worth it in the long run—because in a storm it will stand strong and secure and nothing shakes it. This is a metaphor for what following Jesus will do for you. Even though you will go through ‘storms’ in life, He will help you to ‘stand up’ to them!

God has taught me—and is teaching me—many things through my current life’s storms. Primarily, He is teaching me how to live out of His strength by ‘walking’ with the Holy Spirit.

None of the storms that I have been through were enjoyable. They have battered me, and caused others and myself much pain.

But, down deep in my heart, I know that God is the ‘Lover of my soul’, and is working all the storms I have been through and their negative effects together for my good by His miraculous might! [ Romans 8:28-29 ].

 

We need to understand that the troubles are only temporary and the rewards are permanent (eternity in Heaven)! The Apostle Paul also said that the problems you have in your life are not going to last forever but the reward of your faithfulness is eternal:

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” [ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ].

 

So, my prayer for you would be that God blesses you and keeps you safe as you go through the ‘storms’ of life. That He will guide you down the path of life according to His will. That you will come into a deeper relationship with Him, and a deeper understanding of His ways. That you will come to obey Him in all situations, and that He will fill you with His love and teach you to love Him the way that He wants you to love Him.

It doesn’t matter where your problem came from; God still has a purpose for it in your life. There is a reason for it all, and you are NOT GOING TO ‘CAPSIZE’ if you ‘surrender’ your life to Jesus—He promises that you will MAKE IT SAFELY to ‘land’!

 

[ Excerpts from: Sheila Walsh; Greg Brezina; Charles Cockroft; Greg Laurie; Dennis Fisher; Our Daily Bread ]

 

RESOURCES:

The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life That Threaten the Soul
By: Gordon MacDonald

In The Life God Blesses, author and pastor Gordon MacDonald asks the question, are we prepared to weather the storms of life? In this book, MacDonald steers us toward the disciplines, convictions, silence, beauty, and spirit that feed and prepare the soul to recognize and recieve God’s blessing.MacDonald reaches into the Bible and into the experiences of godly men and women of history to discover what can be done to lead a blessed life, then leads you through the steps that are necessary to develop a mature soul.

http://www.google.com/shopping/product/4804983416751593127

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Hope for Your Heart: Finding Strength in Life’s Storms
By: June Hunt

Hope is much more than a vague emotion–it has the power to change your life. Counselor June Hunt has built her ministry around helping others discover the power of hope. She writes: “The hope highlighted in the Bible has nothing to do with crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Authentic biblical hope is a powerful, undergirding force–an anchor able to sustain us through the fiercest storms.” If you’re struggling to find hope in the storms of life, this book will show you how to chart a new course to calm waters.

http://www.google.com/shopping/product/15493101722708418072

—————-

“Finding Peace in Life’s Storms”
By: Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon unwraps God’s gift of hope as he presents us with strong encouragement and a powerful tool for surviving daily struggles and temptations. This book will renew and strengthen your walk with Christ as you discover how to weather difficult personal storms, experience God’s secure protection, receive daily strength and encouragement, turn painful memories into blessings, and build a solid foundation of faith and trust. No case is too desperate for God. There is no problem He cannot overcome. Hope in God can see you through your greatest difficulties and meet every longing of your heart.

http://www.google.com/shopping/product/11173506124943589941

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[P.S.: If you would like to investigate what the Bible says about how God helps us thru the ‘storms’ of life here and now, visit the following link:

http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q5_d5_4of10.html

 

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v193) for MARCH 2015

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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CHRIST IN THE STORM
At the age of 27, Rembrandt painted the seascape Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee based on the story in Mark 4. With its distinctive contrast of light and shadow, Rembrandt’s painting shows a small boat threatened with destruction in a furious storm. As the disciples struggle against the wind and waves, Jesus is undisturbed. The most unusual aspect, however, is the presence in the boat of a 13th disciple whom art experts say resembles Rembrandt himself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee

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PRAISE YOU IN THIS STORM
I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with You”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with You”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

[ Casting Crowns – “Listen” album ]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5bLvVjJ4MA

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TURNING A LITTLE SEASICK
(Parody of “Dirty Little Secret” by The All-American Rejects)

Let me know what I’ve done wrong
That You won’t respond at all
I’m going down this time it’s true
If You wait then I am through
Tell me how You are not awake
Right now facing a hurricane
You are the only one asleep You know

Lord please move—I’m turning a little seasick, turning a little seasick
Lord help us at once or we’ll be just another shipwreck
Sitting on the sea bed, I mean you no disrespect
I’m turning a little seasick
You have to know

Lord preserve our fragile lives
If the next wave we survive
I don’t think now’s the time to snooze
Chapter 8 here in Matthew
Help please now or we’ll all be dead
While You lay on a waterbed
You are the only one asleep you know

Lord please move — I’m turning a little seasick, turning a little seasick
Lord tell me now what did You think when You fell asleep and
Did You count Your sheep then?
Hope that You can keep them
From going off the deep end
You have to know

Lord wake up or we’ll die
The water’s getting high
It’s filling up the boat
And You’re our only hope
Please make things all right
Save us Lord Christ

I need you — I’m turning a little seasick
I’m losing my lunch for sure I wish I didn’t eat it

I need You — I’m turning a little seasick, turning a little seasick
Lake Galilee’s wonderful now if the weather’s decent
It hasn’t been of recent, we’re in a stormy season
I’m turning a little seasick, turning a little seasick
Turning a little seasick — You have to know
You have to know

[ ApologetiX – “Future Tense” album ]

http://www.spiritedesign.com/TurningALittleSeasick(ApologetiX).mp3

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THE STORMS OF LIFE
When the storms of life roll in, where does your strength come from? Who do you turn to when everything spins out of control? You will have seasons of life that are stormy; watch this video for a reminder of who gives you your strength.

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/32670/The-Storms-Of-Life

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DEEP THOUGHT(s):

“We all face storms in life. Some are more difficult than others, but we all go through trials and tribulation. That’s why we have the gift of faith.”
[ Joyce Meyer ]

“The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”
[ Epictetus ]

“There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, deep relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry you through any and all turmoil. No matter what storms are raging all around, you’ll stand firm if you stand on His love.”
[ Charles Stanley ]

“Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.”
[ George Hubert ]

“When the storms of life come, if they come to me personally, to my family or to the world, I want to be strong enough to stand and be a strength to somebody else, be shelter for somebody else.”
[ Anne Graham Lotz ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“As evening fell, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took him just as he was and started out, leaving the crowds behind (though other boats followed). But soon a terrible storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water and about to sink. Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

Frantically they wakened him, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?”

Then he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet down!” And the wind fell, and there was a great calm! And he asked them, “Why were you so fearful? Don’t you even yet have confidence in me?”

And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the winds and seas obey him?”
[ Luke 8:22-25 ].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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