Discipline and the Disciple of Jesus

As I begin to formalize my research and study in support of my DMin major project from Knox Theological Seminary, I will be sharing my research and findings here. To begin, I’d like to give a justification or argument for my research.

We live in a frenetic world, our attentions and energies constantly vied for by spouses, families, work, church, sports, television, social media, marketers, ad infinitum. Even typing the list raised my stress level. Amidst all the chaos, we are expected to find time (make time) to spend in Bible study and prayer, not to mention other disciplines like worship, fellowship, service, fasting and the like.

Unfortunately, we often treat these “spiritual” activities as less significant, even optional. We justify their neglect with misapplied biblical doctrines like justification by grace not works and the unconditional love of God. While these doctrines are valid and true, they are primarily about justification and less about ongoing sanctification. We are most certainly saved apart from our deeds. And it is (thankfully) true that God’s love is not diminished or amplified by the depth and length of our quiet times.

In reality, the quality and richness of our lives is directly related to our faithfulness in walking with the Lord. Jesus told us that we are to abide, remain, in Him and that apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Much like the deceptive serpent in the garden planted a seed of doubt in Eve (“surely you won’t die”), experience demonstrates that there is much that we can do apart from Christ. Just as eating the fruit resulted in spiritual death and eventual physical death, our efforts apart from Christ yield nothing significant or substantial.

Even for those in “professional” ministry, established and mature believers, this vital connection is prone to neglect. It could be argued that pastors and missionaries are more susceptible to this tendency by virtue of their ministry. Since they are about the things of God, their day is full of prayer, Bible study, evangelism, etc., and these activities can supplant personal devotional acts. Sustainable service must overflow from a well that is continually refilled through communion with God. When one pours into others without being himself refilled, the well eventually runs dry and burnout occurs.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to emulate our master and obey his commands. A disciple, by definition, is one who practices discipline. To follow Christ, we must discipline ourselves to say no to certain things and yes to others. The Bible prescribes certain activities and practices intended to make us more like our master. The more we engage in these disciplines, the closer we grow to God, the easier we are able to discern his will and the more genuinely we are able to share His love with those around us.

In a world of competing priorities, how do we justify these spiritual activities that seemingly have no tangible, concrete results or rewards? The truth is that God, the creator of the universe, has designed the human being and thus knows the optimum operating conditions for humanity to thrive. In the weeks to come, I will share some of the physiological benefits of the Christian disciplines. Perhaps, once we understand that these “spiritual” practices have physical benefits as well, we can more readily justify prioritizing them in our daily lives.

Choosing to Thrive

This time of quarantine is not one any of us could have prepared for, and certainly meets the definition of adversity. Back up just a few months to the beginning of 2020 and none of us would have imagined the entire world (more or less) would be shut down – no travel, schools are closed, offices are closed. Only essential businesses are open. Now we all need to find a way to not only survive this pandemic, but hopefully to thrive through it. We should use this time to reflect, decide what’s truly important, and determine what parts of “normal” we really want to return to. It’s an opportunity to reset.

Seven people living on a 38’ sailboat for almost 6 years has given us some experience with isolation. Going out to eat or easy access to stores is not something we have. We typically do our own laundry in a bucket, make do with the food we have onboard, I cut everyone’s hair (including my own), and when we do go to the store, we take our dinghy to shore and then we walk. We spend a lot of time sailing and sitting in anchorages, sometimes with very few other people nearby. When we do meet up with other boats and other kids, there’s a chance they may not get along. Thankfully, they often do because boat kids love other boat kids – they instantly have something in common. When we go to shore, it’s usually a new place. We’re learning our way around, finding what’s available, figuring out a new currency, meeting new people (missionaries) and jumping in to their routines, and many times, it’s almost all in another language. 

We intentionally made the decision to downsize and squeeze into 380 square feet during Dennis’ last tour in the Navy. Two years later, after Dennis spent 21 years in the Navy, we felt it was time to for him to retire. Dennis had watched as the kids kept growing and he had been gone more than he had been home. He felt they were starting to drift away. We also felt God was calling us to something else and we wanted this new ministry to be something we did together as a family. The past 6 years haven’t been easy in a small space. We’re always in each other’s way, as one person literally has to move for another to pass. Emotions can run high and tempers can flare, but we also have to know how to resolve those conflicts and how to forgive. Our family is close, physically and emotionally. While we haven’t loved every minute of being in such confined quarters, we are so very glad we’ve had this opportunity to really know our kids – to be their friends, as well as their parents, to laugh together, learn together, and serve together. I hope that you all are seeing the positive aspect of this forced halt in your lives and have taken the opportunity to really get to know your family. 

I’ve been pulling together a list of resources and ideas that are helpful to us and may be helpful to many of you. We normally do not have access to wifi, just the small amount of data on our cell phones (3GB/month) when we are close enough to shore. Sitting in a marina (as the Mexican government has requested boats to limit movement) gives us access to wifi (still only about half the speed available in the US) and opens up a whole new experience for us. In fact, we feel LESS isolated now with the world moving to virtual meetings. Our older 3 are joining in on youth group and getting to do video chats with friends. Our oldest two are taking an online college course – we usually do our schoolwork the old fashioned way, with real books! Dennis and I are working on a course in member care, and we all get to join our churches back in the US for worship services. There are many wonderful things available to us all now, but make sure that you are spending more time together than time alone with a screen.

I divided the resources into four categories – Family Fun, Learning/Homeschooling, Relationships, and Other Resources. I’d love to add a book list too. Send me/comment below with some of your favorite books. Personally, I really enjoy historical fiction.

Family Fun

It’s easy to just sit around, binge watch Netflix, Disney+, or whatever. Eating snacks is easier than making healthy meals. In order to thrive, we must make plans – plan meals, make a schedule, be deliberate. If you need some time to mope (I get it, sometimes I just need a small pity party, do something mindless) then give yourself some time to mope, but then get up off the couch.

So, make some plans. Designate different nights for different activities. It’ll help the days go by and give everyone something to look forward to. We’re not saying spend every waking moment together, but plan some specific family activities. Older kids might balk at first, but they’ll come around.

  • Pick a tv series and watch it once a week: Remember when we could only watch our favorite show once a week and how much we looked forward to that? We just started watching The Dukes of Hazzard with our kids on Mondays. We also watch Little House on the Prairie another night. It’s a lot of fun to reminisce and share some of our childhood favorites with our kids.
  • Educational night: We watched an episode from PBS NOVA on how armor was made for knights. It was great and the kids can’t wait for our next educational night. We also enjoy watching Bear Grylls. You never know when you need some British Special Forces’ survival skills. 
  • Game night: Pick one of those long, time-consuming games, our family favorite is Settlers of Catan. A game of pounce (aka nertz) is great for fast moving, loud and crazy fun.
  • Movie Night: Some friends of ours at are excelling at this! Each of their kids gets to pick a theme, pick a movie, decorate, and they all come in costumes to match the theme. I am so impressed with their creativity! We just watch a movie and eat homemade pizza every Friday night. I’m feeling like a slacker.
  • Dining In: Want to go out to a restaurant? Make one at home! The kids can make a menu, cook (even young ones can put crackers and cheese on a plate or make a peanut butter sandwich), set the table, serve, and even clean up. Dress up and have fun!
  • Dinner: If you’re like me, making dinner every night feels exhausting! If you have older kids, assign them a night. You can help with the basic planning, let them know what you have available or what needs to be consumed soon, but let them look up some recipes and have at it.
  • Listen to a podcast: Here’s our favorite kid-friendly one, Red School Bus. We all love it! Dennis went to high school with James. This is one of our favorite episodes (right after we got to meet them in St. Louis for dinner). 
  • Backyard (or indoor) camping: Set up the tent (or a blanket fort inside), start a campfire, roast some hot dogs or marshmallows and sleep outside. Spend some time outside during the day too. Sunlight is a natural virus killer and great source of Vitamin D. 
  • Go out and stargaze: If you live somewhere without bright street lights, head outside with a telescope and stargazer app. If there are too many outside lights, find an online planetarium. And while you’re at it, check out NASA’s website


Everything can be learning! This is one of the focuses of homeschooling. We make almost everything a learning experience. I keep seeing people say that their “…kids aren’t learning right now. This online school isn’t working. My kids don’t find it challenging.” This is especially true for young children. When Hope was 7, we were a part of an online charter school. They met for an online class 3 times a week. IT WAS AWFUL! They weren’t allowed to turn on their microphones and the teacher expected them to type their answers. Seven year olds typing answers, insert eye roll here. Even math problems were terrible. The teacher never gave them enough time to work out the problem and didn’t teach anything! I had to sit with her the entire time all while dealing with my other 4 (the twins were less than a year old!). Then the one hour online class would drag out to 2 to 3 hours because the teacher felt they didn’t cover enough. I can certainly see how many of you would be frustrated right now. Young kids are not designed to sit still at a computer and try to learn. Kids should be:

  • Moving – get outside if you can or come up with some physical games to play inside. Hullabaloo was one of my kids’ favorite indoor movement games when they were little, and they didn’t even need me! 
  • Reading, reading, reading! This is fundamental. Reading aloud to kids of all ages is so important! Have kids do a video call with grandparents and let them read Grandma a story, or vice versa if they are too young to read. Audio books are great also! Kids can illustrate the book as they listen. 
  • Drawing/coloring – who doesn’t love to draw/color? That’s precisely why they make adult coloring books! Pull out some paints and canvases and paint along with Bob Ross! He can take even the most stressed out person and have him smiling while painting “happy little trees.”
  • Writing (if they are old enough), telling stories, explaining how something works…written and oral communication are so important!
  • Cooking – following recipes includes a lot of math and is delicious quality time.

More resources for learning at home…

  • An adult TCK friend, daughter of missionary friends, and once our babysitter, wrote this set of 3 read-aloud coloring books to help parents explain the current situation with their children. Recommended for ages 4-7. Available for immediate download on etsy.
  • Virtual museum tours – Contrary to what many may think, homeschoolers do not sit at home all day. We go to museums, national parks, libraries, historical sites, and SO many other places. Since we can’t go to an actual museum, check out these two sites with links to virtual tours, Timeout and Travel and Leisure.
  • Learn something new – Find something your children enjoy and learn more about it. We’re all studying marine biology now. We’re learning about the oceans we live on and the animals that surround us. We’ve now added Oceans Initiative’s online marine biology camp to our syllabus. 
  • Check out this list of 1500 online courses. Some of these are available for a fee if you want to receive credit/certification. They have the courses listed by topic. There’s a course for practically anything you can think of. I even saw a course on poker strategy from MIT and another on wine! 
  • Travel virtually – Pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Find it on Google earth. Do some research, look up the top things to do there, find recipes and create a local meal from your chosen place. Read fictional and non-fictional books about that country or place. This book, Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin, has some great ideas and lists books by age and place.  


  • This is a trying time for many as we’re suddenly “stuck” at home with our family. Many are realizing that they don’t know their family or maybe even don’t like them. My parents’ church, Castleview Baptist, in Colorado, has been offering some great advice on those relationships during their online services through a series called, “Better Together.” Topics so far include, Husbands and Wives, Communication, and Cooperation in the Home. They are on live on Facebook every Sunday at 10:30am MDT.
  • Focus on the Family has some fabulous resources for couples, parents, strengthening/growing in your faith, and even ways to stay engaged in our culture. 
  • And one of my all time favorite book series for relationships – the Five Love Languages of…there’s a book for singles, couples, children, teens, and even a military edition. Gary Chapman has many other wonderful books available. 

Other Resources

  • Lindsay Braman put together a simple list to keep ourselves mentally in check while we’re home. Check out her site if you would like to print the checklist.
  • Looking for some good news? These videos are all about the good going on around us. They’re pretty funny too. 
  • TCK Training with Lauren Wells is offering a free 3 part series on helping kids work through Covid-19. She also has a 3 hour seminar coming up on May 2 on Raising Healthy TCKs. I took this seminar in February and learned a lot. It’s currently $49. Try code FEBLIVE for a 50% discount. I’m not sure if it still works, but it’s worth a try.
  • Free Growth in Crisis Series from Birch Rise Coaching (I have not personally watched these so I cannot give a recommendation either way, but wanted to share as it’s only available for a limited time.) 
  • Global Trellis put together a debriefing packet and videos designed to help us work through our experiences with Covid-19. This is aimed at the Christian worker.
  • Self-care for Missionaries during re-entry caused by the Coronavirus – another article by Sarita Hartz aimed specifically at missionaries.

If you’ve found some other sites and resources, please add them in the comment section below.

Feel free to share this list of resources on your Facebook pages and websites. Please use this link: https://ankyrios.org/2020/04/22/choosing-to-thrive/

Confidence in God

Confidence: the quality or state of being certain; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way.

Last month, we had the privilege of assisting TEAM Mexico with their annual conference in Loreto. Brandy and I led the teens as we explored the theme of “Confidence” from Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
We took as the outline of our teaching, the song by Sanctus Real. Rather than just babysitting while the adults worked, we wanted to lead the teens in an in-depth study of confidence in the midst of struggle, trial and suffering.

God created each of us for a specific purpose. He has called each of us to fulfill that purpose in unique ways. In my time in the Navy, it was stressed over and again that the Navy never asks you to do anything you haven’t been trained to do. So it is in our walk with God. The challenges we face today are preparation for those we will face tomorrow. In God’s economy, trials get increasingly difficult the more successful we are. Because we have overcome much in the past, we are able to overcome even more today.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 says:

 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” 

If we put our confidence in created things, man-made things like money, fame, power, comfort, pleasure,  even our “religion” and “good” behavior, we turn away from the Lord and reap the resulting lack of God’s blessing and favor. Does God actively curse us? In most cases, I don’t think so. He simply lets us reap the harvest of our sinful actions. Like a plant in a barren land, when we choose to put our roots down in the wrong place, we will shrivel and die.

When we put our confidence in God and trust his Word to guide our lives, we thrive in good soil with plenty of water. If we follow the path that God has for us, we will be blessed. Ending there, many false teachers promulgate the lie that following God means an easy and prosperous life. But the passage goes on to say “when heat comes.” When difficulty comes, as Jesus promised it would, the one who is blessed draws water from deep roots to stay nourished and to continue to bear fruit.

How does one grow the deep roots? A plant seeks that which is most essential to its life – water. Deep roots mean that the plant has invested precious energy to find what is not available on the surface. Times of dryness, trials, struggling to survive will kill the plant unless it finds deeper water. A plant that bears fruit, even in drought, is remarkable and a stark contrast to the surrounding bleak landscape. So it is with Christians who maintain joy in the midst of trial. They stand as testimony to the love of God and peace that transcends circumstances, peace derived from close communion with the Living Water, Jesus Christ.

Is your life characterized by fruit, peace and confidence? If so, then you are likely on the right path. Stay vigilant, abide in Christ, continue to walk in righteousness and obedience. If you are not experiencing a time of trial or difficulty, use this time to prepare because I am confident that the faithful Christian will not have a life of ease and comfort.

Are you in the middle of a struggle or trial and not feeling the comfort of the presence of God? Are your circumstances overwhelming and your burdens beyond your ability to bear? Are your prayers non-existent or powerless? Then you are in a prime place to experience the freshness of the Living Water. Just as the tree sought deep waters, God is calling you to a deeper and closer relationship with himself. If we call on him, God answers. We can have confidence in his promises.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Calling: Equipped by God

When God Changes Our Plans

Well, we’re still in Puerto Peñasco, at the top of the Sea of Cortez (but not for much longer). *We* thought we’d be heading south in early November (when we left the boat in mid-May we actually planned to be back in mid-October). Between boat prep, lots of small jobs that didn’t go so smoothly, broken bolts, delays in solar panel installation, and the routine engine maintenance that turned into unexpected fuel injector pump and lift pump replacements to the tune of almost $3k, we just haven’t been able to leave. 

We’ve been trying to figure out exactly why God still has us here. What’s the benefit in our delay? We have missionaries waiting for us further south in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. 

A couple of weeks ago, our missionary friends in La Paz reached out to us. They have an annual retreat in mid-January for all the members of their missions agency in the area. The leaders for the youth group can no longer attend. They actually asked us last April if we would consider leading the youth, but we told them we couldn’t as we’d be far south by that point. Hahaha! After some brief discussions and prayer, we’ve decided this is exactly why (at least one of the reasons) that God chose to keep us around here for so long. The retreat is less than a quarter mile from the marina we stayed at in late 2016/early 2017. We’ll be able to stay on our boat while serving the missionary families (specifically the teens) at the retreat at the nearby hotel. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing we strive to do for missionaries. We’re so excited to serve these families! The kids are looking forward to being with “old” friends again. 

Since we were waiting on the new engine parts, we decided to visit our friends in Phoenix for Caleb’s 14th birthday. I’m so glad we did! We attended Bethany Bible Church with our friends, and we were reminded that we aren’t the only ones that experience a change of plans. Two thousand years ago, a young girl named Mary was betrothed to one of the best men in town (I’m making an assumption here because God would want only the best in an adopted father for His Son). Mary had her whole life ahead of her and I’m sure she had made some plans of her own. Then one day, an angel comes and tells her she will have a baby, but not just any baby, God’s Son. Wow, talk about change of plans! What will everyone say? How’s she supposed to tell Joseph?! Will he still even want to marry her? 

And Joseph, he’s engaged to marry the most thoughtful, caring and beautiful girl in Nazareth (again, making an assumption here). He’s building a house for them (Jewish custom). And then he finds out that Mary is pregnant and he knows it’s not his child. Mary has some unbelievable story about an angel. All of his plans and expectations are gone. But then an angel comes to him too. Joseph decides to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, and become the earthly father to the Son of God! 

If this wasn’t enough change, just before Mary reaches the end of her pregnancy, they find out that they must travel to Bethlehem for a census. That’s 100 miles away! I think it would be easy at this point to call out to God and say, “ Uh, remember us? We thought this was going to be easy when we said yes. What’s going on?!”

Now Mary knows she won’t get to have the baby at home, surrounded by her mother, sisters, midwives. She’ll be in a strange town. But Mary goes into labor before they even arrive! Joseph goes door to door, possibly even carrying Mary, begging for a place to stay. They’re finally offered an area in the stable, next to the animals. And no one is there to help. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born in a barn! Not what we would expect at all, but absolutely part of God’s plan. Jesus came to the world to be available to all people. From the shepherds to the Magi and everyone in between. Jesus is the Savior for all! 

God’s plans never changed. This was all part of His plan, prophesied many years before. Sometimes it takes major events for our plans to line up with God’s plans. And just because it’s God’s plan, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. 

We’ll still get to head south eventually and spend time with the other missionaries we are looking forward to meeting in person. We’re trusting that God knows better than we. God hasn’t failed us yet. We all could benefit from a little more faith and trust, and this is exactly how we build it, one step at a time along the path He sets before us. 


Side note: If you haven’t watched the movie The Nativity Story, I recommend it this Christmas season. Yes, some theatrical liberties were taken, but I felt it gave me a better sense of the struggles and realities of Jesus’ birth so long ago. 

The Lord is Our Strong Tower

Dublin Castle, Ireland

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV)

Kelly Motto: The Lord is my Strong Tower

When it seems like the world is in ruins and everything is falling apart around us, we are reminded that there is a place of security and strength to which we can run. Even if we are far away, there is a beacon of hope, a lighthouse in the storm. The Lord stands strong in the midst of our struggles and battles. We can run to safety at his side and trust him to fight against the enemy that would destroy us.

While this summer did not look anything like we expected it to (see Brandy’s posts – France, Switzerland), it has been educational. We were able to visit with a number of missionaries in Europe, which was what we hoped for. We were also able to visit Normandy, France as well as Mont Saint Michel (definitely marked off a couple of lifelong “to-do’s”).  One of the most amazing things about our travels this summer was the number of castles we have seen. The vast majority are ruins, but some have been restored or are in the process of restoration.

Monastery in Glendalough, Ireland

Monastery in Glendalough, Ireland

Doune Castle – AKA French Taunter’s Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I found myself looking at these structures wondering about their history, about who used to live there and what their lives were like. Wondering why they abandoned such a seeming ideal structure. Had there been a family tragedy? A war? Financial ruin? Legal troubles? A move for a job that paid better than farming?

When we visited Nomandy, we saw many structures that had been rebuilt after being bombed and blown up in World War II. The reason for their destruction was obvious, but the fact that they, from their Humpty Dumpty state, had been put back together was remarkable. Restoration is an extensive and expensive process. Undoing years of neglect sometimes involves completely tearing down and rebuilding, often with the original materials. Sometimes, rather than rebuilding, the structures are scavenged for building materials for other structures, such as the Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard near Avignon, France, the largest standing aqueduct that was contemporary with Jesus Christ.

Pont du Gard, France

Why are some structures maintained, some rebuilt, others repurposed and still others abandoned? The difference is in the level to which someone cared about and for them. In a Genesis 3 world, it takes time and effort to maintain anything. Everything is moving toward destruction, degradation or death. This is both a law of physics and a spiritual reality.

The state of Christianity in Europe can be seen literally and symbolically in the bones of churches strewn across the landscape.

Many churches have been “re-purposed” as shops, pubs and museums. I guess I am glad that some of the architecture and art has been maintained, but it is a stark reminder that it is a gravesite of a once worshipping body of Christ.

Monastery in Glendalough, Ireland

These stone and wood structures suffered the ravages of years of neglect. As I pondered the history, I imagined the process of decay. Except for cases like Normandy and the rapid decay brought on by explosive forces, the ruins were the result of small things left unchecked. Water, the universal solvent, leaking through a bit of thatched roof. If the occupants noticed and fixed the leak, further damage was prevented. Uncorrected, water gets into the walls and either begins to wash away plaster or nature begins to encroach. Soon, a stone comes loose allowing in more water or animals seeking a safe home. Fast forward a hundred years and you stand before a ruin.

Hope helping the boys down at St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland – originally built in the 12th century

Spiritually, there are many who have neglected their Christian walk and are little more than crumbled walls where once stood a beautiful cathedral. As the proverb says, “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11) That is not to say that rest is inappropriate, but extended periods of laziness are.

In our spiritual lives, it looks like skipping our time in the Word once in a while so we can catch up on some sleep, followed soon after by sleeping in every morning with the intent to spend our lunch time with the Lord. Then we only read the Bible on Sundays at church, then we forget to take our Bible to church (we have it on our phone after all). Before long we are looking on Amazon because the sermon is boring and it is better to stay awake not listening than fall asleep piously.

So it goes with neglecting prayer, fellowship, giving, evangelism, etc. “Little” sins like a wandering eye, a grumpy attitude, looking out for one’s own interest grow into lust, anger and selfishness. We should not be surprised when our love for the Lord begins to wane and our faith begins to feel stale.

We need not despair when we see cracks in the walls or leaks in the roof. It does not mean that all is lost, it is a prompting from the Lord that we should attend to our house, that we need to pay attention to areas that have been neglected.

Maybe there is someone in your circle that used to be a strong Christ-follower. Have you ever wondered about their history? What happened in their lives that left their faith in ruins? What seeped into a small hole and created a crevice?  A broken relationship? Lost job? Some “small” sin? When things don’t go the way we planned sometimes we assume that God is either powerless, unloving or absent. Discouragement and frustration become footholds that the enemy uses to weaken our faith and eventually breach the walls of our fortress.

Perhaps it isn’t someone else whose faith-walls are crumbling. Many Christians have lost some of the zeal and excitement of their early walk with the Lord. While everyone has days where they are anxious or discouraged, when we notice that we are having more bad days than good that is a prompting from God. When we notice that leak has made a stain, that the stain has developed into a crack, that the crack has become a gap, the Holy Spirit is giving us a glimpse of reality, a moment of clarity.

Unlike all those neglected church buildings reduced to ruins, our God cares enough for us that he will never abandon or forsake us. “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) We can run from God, or rather inch away from God, at the risk of ruining our earthly lives, but we have the promise that God will complete his work in us, working all things (including our rebellion) together for his glory and demonstrating his love for us.


Abide in Christ

“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us”

– 2 Corinthians 1:21 (ESV)

In my reading this morning, I came across this from Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ:

“How many there are who can witness that this faith is just what they need! They continually mourn over the variableness of their spiritual life. Sometimes there are hours and days of deep earnestness, and even blessed experience of the grace of God. But how little is needed to mar their peace, to bring a cloud over their soul! And then, how their faith is shaken! All efforts to regain their standing appear utterly fruitless; and neither solemn vows, nor watching and prayer, avail to restore to them the peace they for a while had tasted. Could they but understand how just their own efforts are the cause of their failure, because it is God alone who can establish us in Christ Jesus. They would see that just as in justification they had to cease from their own working, and to accept in faith the promise that god would give them life in Christ, so now, in the matter of their sanctification, their first need is to cease from striving themselves to establish the connection with Christ more firmly, and to allow God to do it.”

I was just talking about this phenomenon of working hard to restore love for Christ with Doug Steinmetz last night. As we prepare to encourage and equip missionaries, this is first and foremost on our hearts. Many Christians have experienced this discouragement, distance and dryness in their walk. For most of us, help is just down the street in the form of fellowship with our brothers and sisters at church, having coffee, or over a meal. For many missionaries, they feel like they cannot share their struggles with their family and friends back home because it might cause them to struggle personally or doubt their support of the missionary. Missionaries, chaplains, and pastors feel the pressure to be a perfect example for others. Many Christians feel the same pressure as they live their faith in a world that seems to be cheering for their failure. 

So, how do we resolve this strain and restore fellowship and love for God? It seems that the phrase, “let go and let God,” is more than a catchy rhyme. Place your worries and anxieties before God. Confess your efforts to do what God has said he would do and ask for the faith to let him work. Let the faithful God complete the good work that he began in you. 

Don’t Be Anxious

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Every morning for the past several months, I have been startling awake with panicked thoughts of all that needs to be done before our departure on October 31st. My second thought has been to recite this verse as I lay all these anxious thoughts before the Lord. I do receive the peace of God, but it is fleeting. I get out of bed and start to attack as many of those things as I can in the 16 to 18 hours I have today.

I was convicted in church yesterday as I was trying to focus on the sermon and anxious thoughts of leaking blackwater hoses crept in. I thought about Saturday, as raw sewage ran down my leg and my hands were covered in, well, you know. This mental rabbit trail was prompted by something in the message. Ryan Bailey was guest preaching and was speaking about the church’s role in missions. He mentioned that one of our responsibilities is to encourage missionaries in the field who often feel isolated and alone. I thought, “Yeah! That’s exactly what we are going to do!” Then I got anxious about the fact that we are leaving THIS MONTH!!! There is so much to do. I thought about the missionaries who are so busy taking care of others and doing Kingdom work that they neglect their own spiritual care and physical and emotional needs.
The Holy Spirit held up a mirror to me and I realized that we have gotten so busy preparing for this work that we are exhausting ourselves. So, we redoubled our commitment to observe a Sabbath rest and to pray over every project.

 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

– Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

In an effort to share prayer needs, here is a non-exhaustive (but exhausting) list of things that have to be done in the next four weeks:

  • Locate and fix blackwater leak in starboard head (closest alligator to the boat)
  • Repair / Replace potable water pump
  • Repair watermaker
  • Have sails inspected
  • Repair jib sail
  • Make tethers for kids
  • Lifeline netting
  • Replace three bent / broken stanchions
  • Replace all running rigging
  • Inventory gear
  • Stock up on diesel and gasoline
  • Provision food
  • Sell car, truck, van and camper
  • Set up household goods move
  • Finish hard top bimini
  • Install satellite radio
  • Tighten trampoline
  • Sew sheet bags
  • Replace battery bank
  • Repair mainsail cover
  • Sew sun shades / bug netting
  • Purchase life raft
  • Purchase homeschool curriculum
  • Make new dodger
  • Clean out storage unit
  • Cancel cable
  • Cancel cell phone service
  • File VA medical claim
  • Finish checking out of Navy
  • Fix VHF radio
  • Get Mexico TIP and fishing licenses
  • Finish stocking medical kit

Those are some of the things bouncing in our heads right now that constantly get laid before the throne of God in exchange for his surpassing peace. If anyone would like to join us in praying about these things, please, do so. Above all, pray that we would constantly be reminded that we are doing this for the glory of God and to serve his servants around the world.

May we stayed “Anchored in the Lord.”