A Sanctification Journey

By Bob Appleton

Sail On

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.

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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.


James 1:2-8


2 Peter 1:3-6

Philippians 3:12-16

~ 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



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The Journey

“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





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