An Ecumenical Ministry supporting church growth
in the greater Cecil County region.
A Sanctification Journey
By Bob Appleton
We recently celebrated Memorial Day and, in a few months, we will celebrate our nation’s independence. Many of us, the older generations, are well aware of the meaning of both. We are also aware of the forces that are pressing for change, not only our history but the future of our nation.
Many of our traditions that we hold dear have faded into the mist of history. Many of our children and grandchildren are unaware of the history of our country and the sacrifices that were made and are continuing to be made to retain our freedom. Many of us, I’m sure, forget to bow our heads in honor of those who have lost their lives defending our country.
Memorial Day and July 4th, like many of our days of remembrances, have been folded into days that make them more about time off from work, to engage in family picnics, barbeques, sporting events and of course fireworks … if the community is permitted to have them.
We have become a culture that no longer sees the greatness of our country, the how and why it was formed and the commitment it takes to hold our freedom. We have also forgotten that it is not in the nature of man to obtain perfection or to understand absolute truth. Truth has been either erased or changed to suit how one perceives “truth” based on one’s own narrative. Yes, I agree, there have been times that who we have been as a nation, and as a person, have not been to the glory of GOD.
My How Times Have Changed
Passing the Baton
As Christians we realize that individually we have been sanctified and are being sanctified. We are not what we have been nor what we will be as we grow in grace. We should, please note “should”, know that the Bible is “absolute” truth. There are times when we seem to interpret it as it fits our needs or desires, much as when Pilate said to Jesus from our Gospel of John, “What is Truth?” (Note Pilate does not wait for an answer.)
Please realize, Jesus never told his disciples to go build a nation nor did He tell them to destroy nations. Well, yes, God did tell Moses and Joshua to go conquer the land of Canna but that is a story for another time.
But the Church’s mission is altogether different. We are to engage, Jesus told them, in the making of disciples (Matthew 28). He did not tell the Church to engage in social engineering, or address the social fabric of nations; He simply said, ‘Make disciples.’ He never said to instruct them that truth can be defined as you see fit. He never said follow the science as we do today and then come against the very basics of science, and allow one gender to identify themselves as another.
Those who say that one race is superior or inferior to another have not read nor understand the Scriptures, nor the Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights that formed our Nation. The Word of GOD/Truth is straight forward; Galatians 3:25-28 states:
“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (meaning the Law), for in Christ Jesus you are all sons and daughters of GOD, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
How have we come this far as a nation? Again, think of your own faith journey. Are you now who you were? Hold to that thought.
In Deuteronomy Chapter 34, Moses stands on Mount Nebo opposite Jericho. He has guided the Hebrew people for 40 years. In Joshua Chapter 1, GOD tells him to be strong and courageous, don’t deviate from your course, stay in the Word, press in. The baton was passed to Joshua.
What does this mean to us today, you might ask. Read Psalm 78:1-8 (Titled, Tell The Coming Generation). Back to our question, are you now who you were in your faith journey? Have you grown in and by the Grace of GOD and His mercy through the Word as revealed by His Spirit? Are you a “new creation”? If you are a Christian, not just in name only, and you are working on separating yourself from the world and its attractions, you have a story to tell.
We all have a story to tell of what GOD has done in our individual lives, our family and our church. Since you are a Christian; you have a testimony.
Each generation has a story to tell. We have the responsibility to tell about the goodness of God and our country, with all its faults, to warn the next generation of the mess that we make of our world when we turn away from Him. Look at the story of Israel to gain understanding.
Help us Lord, to carry your Gospel to those who follow. Don’t wait for all the pieces to come together, step out, press in, take the step of adventure. Teach from what you have been given. Don’t focus on changing the world, just in sharing the Gospel.
If you’re hesitant, think of Thomas. He had his doubts and he needed physical assurance. We too have the physical connection. Look around you, there is your physical evidence. Look into the history of the nations. Listen to our Pledge of Allegiance. It’s not to the flag but to which it stands … one nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice to all.
Last thought … as we reflect on the history of our country today, go deeper. Reflect not only on our country and what it affords but remember … we stand for the flag but bend the knee to the GOD who frees us from the sin of our old nature. Learn truth and never doubt it and pass the baton to the next generation… a nation under GOD.
Captain Rev. Bob
Saving faith is a gift (Eph 2:8-10). Once given and received into a faithful heart, faith will never be taken back. The issue is, are you growing in faith?
As a coach of the sailor’s skills, I always told the student; Unless you are away from the docks in all kinds of conditions, you will never be defined as a “sailor”. Your skills, confidence, and courage must be tested. So, it is with one’s faith. God uses trials and tribulations, the storms and winds of the World, Flesh and the Devil to enable our faith to mature… for the next events that will come (James 1:2-4) for they surely will. Through it all, we Sail on.
Each “storm” prepares us for the next; our “call” as disciples” will have it no other way. Testing, through trials and tribulations builds in us “trust”, a component of faith as we Sail on. Our Faith is being exercised/tested when;
1. We Experience Doubts – When it is much “easier” to stay at the dock, safely, than to venture into troubled waters. Satan enjoys putting doubts in our minds. (Matthew 28:17) Doubts can drown us in questions, confusion, fear and anxiety all of which produces self-doubt. Excuses abound not to sail on.
2. When Change is Encountered – It is when we have plotted our course; the way we deem things should be, only to find that it’s not going the way of our plans, much as the Hebrew children found in their journey to the Promised Land. Trust develops as we turn our course over to the Navigator of our lives (Proverbs 3:5-7).
3. At Times of Discouragement – At times when things appear to be going well and the unexpected brings hardship. It is when “All is well” that personal troubles bring darkness into our lives and the cry comes; “Why now Lord?” and we flounder in the tumult of the waves and darkness. It is during these times we turn unto Him for relief and understanding and He will see us through (Psalm 119:143, Philippians 4:6, Deuteronomy31:6).
4. We feel Abandoned – those times when you turn and there is no one to hold you and your prayers don’t seem to rise above your head. The wind howls and the waves toss you about and confusion presses in and there is nothing to bring comfort. (Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46)
Faith is a gift and GOD in His way will confirm and strengthen us. His goal? To build Trust in Him and move us in our journey of Sanctification to the day of Resurrection to our glorification and to come along side others who are in their time of need.
The Seafaring Reverend
On the Road to
Recently Pam and I made took a major step into the modern age of technology; we purchased an iPod. I know, I know. This quantum leap into the information age was spun from the desire to carry our favorite tunes with us regardless if at home, in the car or onboard. I’ll not bore you with the two calls with 3½ hours of phone time it took Pam to get the bloody thing to work, only confirming my dislike for the modern age, but in the end, we began to download.
Of the many musical artists, from my younger days, songs by John Denver are remembered with fondness. One song, sung at the end of season seven of Magnum PI, was from his 1975 album “Windsong” entitled, “Looking for Space.” As I played it for the third time my
eyes focused on a picture in my work space. I reflected on that time -- our first family sailboat, a 24-foot Buccaneer; my seven-year-old daughter, Jacki, feeling the helm; and Pam capturing a moment of time on the road to experience (the opening lyrics to Denver’s song).
Time goes by so quickly. Experiences, good, bad, and the ugly bring us to where we are today. In the sailor’s life our times underway are marked by calms, storms, and days of spectacular sailing. One of my students once said that sailing was “fifty-nine minutes of boredom punctuated by one minute of stark terror.” I would break it down differently but we all have our own recounting of experiences.
Denver’s lyrics tell us, “Sometimes I fly like an eagle, sometimes I’m deep in despair.” Experience leads us in and through these peaks and valleys. And it is so easy not to persevere, to keep moving forward, letting the negatives keep us tied in the slip. We should learn from those bad experiences but let them flow in our wake, taking hold and cherishing the good experiences and building on them. Lest we forget, all experience can only be recognized and its wisdom discerned looking over the transom. But I digress.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be engaged with sailors of various ages and aspirations, from small boat daysailors to blue water cruisers, from boat owners to charter only, and their experiences match their diversity of sailing.
One thing is clear, if we persevere through the storms, the system failures, groundings, knockdowns, navigational errors and bad docking approaches, then the rewards will be achieved -- star-studded nights, a full moon rising on a setting sun, dolphins dashing ahead on blue sea, and distant ports of call made.
It takes time to grow from tiller to wheel and in all aspects of seamanship. You can’t cheat the process; the process of experience becomes your “resume.” It enriches your life. The rewards of sailing are great. At the end, “I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams” (John Denver). Look up the lyrics, they have great meaning. These Bible verses below will add to the meaning.
2 Peter 1:3-6
~ Captain Rev. Bob
Growth Requires Application
Scriptures are not just to be read. They are to be learned and what is learned must be applied, leading to wisdom.
If you are like me, repeated application can be elusive even when I know that I must keep applying the Word (Romans Chapter 7). Without repeated application we are destined to stay as infants in Christ (1st Corinthians 3:1-2) and we will see that old lessons will need to be relearned.
Many years ago, before there were “sailing” instructors, what I learned about sailing was learned through sailing books. Reading led to study and study to application and application needed to be applied over and over again to become proficient. This of course was learned through trial and tribulation (John 16:33).
Some years later I became a USCG Licensed Captain and US Certified Sailing Instructor, meaning that I was licensed to teach others the art of sailing. One couple full of aspiration and enthusiasm completed the certification requirements and went off to fulfill their dreams.
Eight years later I received a call. Not only had they not fulfilled their dreams, they were in need of instruction to regain what they had long forgotten.
The title of “Christian” is much more than a label, much as calling oneself a sailor means they are one. Christians are in a process of Sanctification, learning as we apply the teaching of Scripture and walking in the Way of our LORD.
Set your course. In sailor talk this means to set your “destination,” where you desire to arrive. Learn and apply what the Holy Spirit teaches. Do not be content to remain babes in Christ.
1st Peter 2:2, 2nd Peter 3:18, Jeremiah 15:16
~ Captain Rev. Bob
“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Fear is common during a period of uncertainty. It builds anxiety as we project the worst-case outcome to what we face. Eighty-five percent of the things we think will happen never occur. How do you face the fears and uncertainty of life? On wobbly knees? Curled up in a ball under the covers projecting your demise? In whom, in what do you depend? Where do you place your faith, trust and belief?
Watch your answers. Does it include prayer (Psalm 23), reflection (John 16:33) and a stillness before GOD (Psalm 46:10)? The interpretation of this verse should be read as: snap out of it, stop fretting, cease fearing and rest in Me. This does not mean ceasing from activity, it means know the source of your strength (see Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 41:10).
Take it from an old sailor, the journey is never all white puff clouds, good winds and calm seas. Sometimes there are headers and other days lifts. But the Captain of our souls steers us toward home.
~ Bob Appleton