Shipwrecked Faith

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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Shipwrecked Faith

Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17 

“Wander from your ways” is powerfully descriptive as we consider how easy it is to move away from a right relationship to God. It doesn’t take effort to drift. You just quit trying. You lose focus. Staying close to God requires effort. We’re not talking about earning our salvation…that is not dependent upon our effort, but upon God’s grace. Maintaining and nurturing the relationship will mean giving ourselves to prayer, the Word, fellowship, and worship.

How many have shipwrecked their faith, not by deliberate rebellion, but by drifting away through inattention? Wandering aimlessly through life, we miss the Lord’s presence and His power to transform. Might that even be a picture of the 21st century church today as we wander away from the firm commitment to daily seek His face?

Oh God, forgive my tendency to wander away from You. I get so caught up in daily activities, that I find myself off doing my own thing and not paying attention to You. Like the hymnist I find myself saying, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

–By David Butts, author of The Devil Goes to Church (Combating the Everyday Attacks of Satan)

Posted 3 Oct 2011

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This recent devotional thought from “Connections” has come at a very timely moment.  Yesterday, my younger boy, Glen, began the first day of his Army Boot Camp training.  Over the next four months, Glen will be subjected to all the brutal rigors, intense discipline and strict authoritarianism that goes with entering into the life of being a soldier.  He will need to be strong and also well-disciplined to keep his spiritual life maintained and healthy.

So am I concerned or worried about Glen?  Naturally!  That is, as a father, I will of course be concerned about his physical well-being and safety as he trains to be a soldier.  But I have committed my son into the hands of the Almighty God.  And I will be sure to pray for him every day, even as I also pray for my older son Eric, and his young bride Esther, every day.  As a Christian man, praying for my wife and all my children each day is as normal and natural as breathing air is, and is just as important.

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What is of greater concern to me is Glen’s emotional / psychological and spiritual health as he starts to enter into this world of the military.  In a number of conversations in the past with Glen, it became clear to me that God had placed this desire within him to walk this path.  I’m sure there will be some trying moments for him in the coming months and years ahead of him, but I do believe that Glen has a solid faith in God and a strong will to hold his ground if and when he is challenged.

But it is not so much the blatant and obvious challenges to his faith that I worry about for Glen.  No, it is more the quiet, subtle, slow drifting away from one’s “first love” for Jesus (as Revelation 2:4-5 puts it) that concerns me and has the possibility of causing a shipwreck to his faith.  But not just to Glen, to any of us who do not choose to place a high priority on our commitment to maintain a regular and healthy relationship with God.

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Let me restate one sentence from the devotional above that I think is the most important one:

“Maintaining and nurturing the relationship [with God] will mean giving ourselves to prayer, the Word, fellowship [with other Christians] and worship.”

This points to the importance of having an inner motivation to be proactive and disciplined about maintaining our relationship with God.  It will not be easy for Glen in some ways, since the Army will in many ways control every aspect of his life at first.  but he will get weekends off at some point, and he will have some personal time he can use to focus on his prayer life and devotional readings once he finishes Boot Camp.

I can say all this, because I once was where Glen is now.  The differences now are that I was a Reservist in the Canadian Navy for a year, while he will be in the Regular Army for the next four years.  But we have an agreement that I can phone him up or email him at any time and ask him if his faith is still “strong” and still “secure”.  (You can read my words to Glen in the article “Strong and Secure For God.”)

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This brings me to a natural concluding point and question here.  It is great when a person publicly declares that he is a Christian.  But is that person’s faith truly grounded well in God and in His Words, so that no external force would have the strength to knock them down in their faith? Or are they hiding in the crowds of people who appear to make them strong but are empty and brittle like the bamboo stalks can get to be.

And now it comes down to you, the reader of this article.  How would you say that your faith is doing?  Is your faith strong;  is it really secure?  Please, please do not drift slowly away from God, and risk the danger that you may experience having your Faith shipwrecked.  Amen!

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Disobedience Wipes Me Out

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Hard Road Journey – Part 4


The last article in this series which looked at Mark Atteberry’s book “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel” was entitled “Trouble Around the Bend“.  That article dealt with the idea in chapter two that it is imperative that we try to “commit to strict obedience”.  Now what exactly is he talking about  when he says this.

Basically, I see this as a call God’s gives to all His people.  And in this call, God is asking us to look to Him and by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, His Son, then we mark out a path that is straight and will not deviate from doing God’s will, doing what we know to be true and right.  It is when we take our eyes off of Jesus and start deviating from the path, and for sure when we start taking side roads which branch off from the one true straight path, that our lack of strict obedience turns into deliberate disobedience, and this ultimately causes us pain, grief and remorse.

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What I want to reflect upon now is the last section of Atteberry’s book in chapter two.  For all of us who are believers in Christ, the question isn’t whether or not we are committed to following Jesus, but rather, how well are we following Him.  We know the Scriptural injunctions of “love God…love your neighbour”, “in everything give thanks”, “don’t worry about what you will eat, or what you will wear”, “rejoice, and again I say rejoice.”

To do all of these well, we would need to follow Atteberry’s advice that we be disciplined to walk in strict obedience, and the hope that he puts before us is that if we can do this, then we will carry a lighter load on our journey.  What he means by this is that we will not need to unnecessarily carry extra weight from regrets, worries, negative self-talk, guilt, etc.  I think his comparison of an undisciplined person to an over-accumulation of junk is a good one.  He says:

Junk accumulates.  And it doesn’t just accumulate in our garages and attics and closets and underneath our car seats.  It also accumulates in our lives.  In our minds and our hearts.  I’m talking about worries and burdens and fears and frustrations.                                 (p. 22)

Let me give you a simple story that can illustrate this point that when we do not commit to strict obedience to follow what we know to be right, then we unnecessarily cause ourselves pain and add a heavy load to the road we are walking.

I still remember the day my mom told me that I needed to be home by 6 p.m. for supper, and “Don’t be late!”  I went for an afternoon bike ride.  And like most kids, I lost track of time and before I knew it, I was much too far away to get home on time.  So now I felt guilt knowing I had disobeyed, and fear for the discipline/punishment that was bound to come.

So I pedaled for all I was worth thinking maybe, just maybe, I would get home on time.  I was one block away from home and I attempted to jump a curb to cut across a little grass area.  But my forward speed was greater than my lift, my front tire hit the curb hard and I and the bike made a tremendous somersault into the air and landed in one bruised and broken pile.

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I managed to carry my bike and limp home but I was 20 minutes late.  I did get my well-deserved lecture for being late.  My supper was cold.  My TV privilege was taken from me.  My bike rim was smashed.  And my body sported nice bruises for days to come.  I was mad.  But I had no one to blame except myself.  If I had been obedient to the simple request to be home on time in the first place, then I would not have added all the extra pain and emotional baggage of guilt, fear, shame and frustration.

The point my dear friends, is that more often than not, the path of obedience that is set before us, whether it is from God, our parents, our employers or anyone in authority over us, is usually not that difficult.  And when we accept the boundaries placed upon us and act responsibly to obey them, then even when the path seems hard, it is usually not unbearable.  But when disobedience is added to the already difficult road we are on, then we find the path unbearable.

Let us then commit to a life of obedience to God and not add to our troubles.  And we will find in the end that the path was in fact easier to bear than we thought.  And God himself, who rewards those who obey Him, will supply the help and strength we need to walk through this difficult journey that we have found ourselves walking along.

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Caught by the Police

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It was a long time ago when I learned an important lesson, “Thou shalt not steal!”

I was in Grade Six, and I was wanting so bad to feel like I belonged somewhere.  That was my big mistake.  Instead of turning to my family or to the friends I did have, I wanted to belong to the “Cool Dudes”.  I found out that the Cool Dudes had formed some kind of club, and so I approached one of the guys in my class and asked if I could join them.  He told me that to belong to their “Cool Club” I would have to steal something from a store to show how brave and tough I was.

The next day, after hastily grabbing a comic book from my corner store, and then meeting with the others, I was provisionally allowed to join the “Cool Club”.  The next step up was to go back and steal a dozen eggs so we could go out and egg some cars that night.  I suddenly had serious misgivings about where this was headed, but because I wanted to be on the “in” group, I agreed to go steal again.

It just so happened that the little corner store I went back to did not carry eggs.  Well, I could not go back to the gang empty-handed, so I stuffed some big bags of candy up my coat.  But before I could get out the door, the manager stopped me and asked me to unzip my coat.  Slowly I opened my coat, and out fell the candy bags.  All I could say was, “Oops!!”

The next thing I knew, I was in the back of the store and the manager had called the police.  I was scared spitless.  And when the policemen came, they looked like 10 foot giants to me, armed to the teeth, and definitely had no smiles on their faces.  I slunk into the back seat of the police cruiser.  I looked around, over, down, anywhere but at the policemen.  Then my day brightened.  I saw some newspaper comic strips so I picked them up to read.

Instantly my mood improved.  But then just as fast, the one policeman snatched the comics away and put his face about 2 inches from my face and snarled, “This aint funny kid!”  I thought I was going to die.  Then he said, “We are going to take you to your parents, and have a long talk with them!”  Now I was hoping I would die before we got there.  First the police!!  Then my parents!!  Yikes!!!

I sat in the cruiser outside our house for a long time.  The policemen came out and gave me a long lecture about the seriousness of stealing and to never do it again.  Very quickly I agreed.  What great wisdom they had shared with me.  But then I had to face my parents.  Now they were good parents, who used time-outs, good lectures, and a few spoon whacks on the bottom when it came to disciplining us.  But I knew I had crossed way over the line on this one.

My father was so angry, he felt it best if he left the house, rather than lay a hand on me.  Wise man.  Then I faced my mother.  She sat me down and gave me an eyeball to eyeball talk about the things that are right, and the things that are wrong.  And then she told me that it was time for her hairbrush to meet my bottom.  It was not anger speaking, it was the voice of loving discipline.

I seem to recall that it was a little hard to sit down for a day or two.  But my bottom did not hurt as much as my sense of guilt over wrong doing, and my sense of letting my parents down.  I was taught a valuable lesson that day.  And I came to appreciate it more as time went on.  The police came to rescue me from going down a path of crime and self-destruction.  And my parents loved me enough to not “beat” me into obedience, but to “educate” me into the right path for living.

I believe the following Scriptures to be very true and still relevant to today:

Proverbs 13:24  “He who spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

Hebrews 12:11  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The best part of this story is that I truly did learn my lesson that day.  From that day until now, I have never (consciously) stolen anything from anyone.  In fact, when they give me too much money back at McDonald’s, I turn around and give them the correct change back.

Thank you God for teaching me honesty, self-respect and obedience.