Shipwrecked!

Have you ever felt shipwrecked? It’s that feeling when we realize that the life we thought we had, or dreamed of, we’ve lost. Yet God’s Word encourages not to lose heart for our inner being is being renewed day by day. This is the miracle of life in the spirit; the essence of what it means when Jesus said; “For whoever wishes to find his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”This endless stirring to create, to love, to live, to give of yourself when there is no self left to give — this comes from the Holy Spirit. 

Read on and be encouraged in the depths of your soul today.

God on the Other Side of a Shipwreck  
by Jonathan Martin, from How to Survive a Shipwreck.

 Devotions from the Front Porch

You’re Still Here
The first things overboard when your ship wrecked were all the reasons you ever had for sailing. And when the life you knew is a life you know no longer, and the ship that took you on a thousand adventures before can no longer even keep you afloat, you are right to wonder if there is anything left worth having.
There used to be so many things that we could not live without! How could you live without this person? How could you live without this job? How could you live without this relationship? How could you live without this house? How could you live without your dignity? How could you live without your good reputation? And then death came to someone you loved, or you lost the job, or you sabotaged the relationship or felt your love sabotaged you, or you suffered public humiliation, or you lost your all-important sense of honor. And you thought you really would die.
There was a part of you, maybe even a really large part of you, that really did. There are some losses that in their way mark you forever, and some things you never get over. And because you loved this person or this life and career you built, or valued your dignity, when the bow broke, everything in you screamed. While the sails were ripping and the boards splitting, you heard the sound of your spirit dying. The life you had was over. But to your own shame, you were not over, as much as you may have wanted to be.
Maybe like a proud samurai, it seemed the best thing you could do on the other side of the shipwreck was to fall on your own sword and stage a protest against anything you once found beautiful. Because you were so sad. Because you were so guilty. Because you were so scared that in the loss of something outside yourself, you lost your own heart to the sea’s black rage.
And then came what might be the worst discovery: You didn’t die — not really. You walked away from the accident, whether or not you think you or God or the devil or the fates are somehow responsible for it. You just knew you would die, and at times it felt like something in you did.
But not you. Not all of you, anyway. The ship may have gone down, but miracle of miracles, you’re still here.
Can you remember the first time after the funeral, after you could not bear to eat or drink, that the pangs of hunger overwhelmed you? Did you feel incredulous at yourself, at the animal part of you that still wanted food after such a thing? What about when there was a particular taste you wanted, because it was a taste that on some level you actually desired? However much fog, however much sorrow, however much grief — the experience of loss may have altered your taste buds forever. But it hardly killed them.
You watched dreams you cradled in your arms with the strength of all your tenderness descend into the sea. All that animated you, all that moved you before, could move you forward in the world no longer. The water filled your mouth and your nostrils, and you choked at the taste of it. But when the grief or the guilt or the loss recedes into the night and your soul sets sail again, you still dream — despite yourself. There is still a kind of music you will hear that stirs within you an unspeakable longing. There is still an ache, not just for all you lost, but to see and know and be seen and known still, to explore and imagine and create.
However much the longing for the past may assault your senses, it is not the only longing that remains. There is still a part of you that wants to make love, to feel yourself somehow connected. There is still a part of you that yearns for something outside yourself. You felt yourself out to sea, and yet some kind of desire, for something or another, bears you along, and you find yourself still somehow here — almost against your own wishes. And even in the moments when anything that felt like conscious desire went out with the tide, there is still some kind of near-morbid curiosity of how your life and story are going to turn out — even if you are lost enough to only behold what’s left of your life as a kind of bystander.
Somewhere between your body’s animal refusal to go down quietly, your mind’s refusal to stop imagining, and your heart’s refusal to stop dreaming, in the tangled mess of synapses and memories and impulses, there lies God.
In whatever remains in you that wants to create, to make, to birth something new, in whatever corner that longs for some kind of resurrection on the other side of death, something divine quietly snaps, fires, clicks, flickers. This is the Spirit of God, lurking in your own broken spirit.
You may find that your grief and sense of loss over the world you once knew seem endless. And yet there are possibilities and potentialities within you that are more endless still.
What is this unseen force that carries you forward despite yourself? Why can you not seem to choke, always and forever, your own irrational yearning, this buried but still breathing hope for more?
This ache is God’s fingerprint.
The stirring to create, to love, to live, to give of yourself when there is no self left to give — this comes from the Spirit.
You were created in the image of God. Before you knew anyone or did anything, everything was in you necessary to live at home in divine love. However buried that image of God is within you, that part of you that knows what it is to be perfectly loved, held, and known — it is still very much there. There is a part of you that does not need anything else, or anyone else in particular, to be alive. There is a part of you that knows this — part of you that has always known this — but has long since forgotten.
The God who sustains all created things with love sustains you. The God who created the world not to be exploited, dominated, or needed, but to love and to enjoy without clinging, is awake in your belly. And so in you is the capacity to love and to live without needing the world to work out a certain way in order for you to be okay. Your life, your existence, is contingent on that Spirit. But it is not contingent on anyone else, or anything else.
This is the liberating, terrifying discovery of life on the other side of the shipwreck. That while you are a creature — humble, dependent, small, in need of love and food and Shelter — you didn’t need anything else as much as you thought you did. That the things you knew would kill you don’t actually kill you. That the fire in you the sea should have drowned out, burns within you yet, if you do not let yourself smother it (and maybe even if you do). So much of the world you have known is no more. But if there is any truth in any of this at all, the shipwreck that threatened to destroy you utterly may be the thing that saves you yet. It may not drown you; it may transfigure you.
And if there is something truthful, something larger, about this irrational lust for life that is forged in the fires of death, it says something too about the people you lost. For if there is a God who not only creates but sustains and resurrects, then there can yet be life on the other side of death for all things. Then there is hope, not only for the yearning in you to drive you into union with God, but to be realized in union with those others. If death is not the final word, and chaos produces creation rather than destroys it, then many of the stories of the life you thought were long over are far from over yet.
Believing this won’t mean you won’t still feel the weight of deep, sharp, piercing grief, or that you should feel guilty when you do. On the contrary, people who don’t experience deep pain have not experienced deep love and are not to be envied. That doesn’t mean they are shallow — all of our souls surely have something of the same depths — they just may not be aware of their own yet. That day will come for them. But when you feel your own deep capacity for passion, compassion, mourning, even rage, you are glimpsing something of your soul’s own infinite capacity to know, to feel, and to become. Within the depths of all you feel the most deeply, something of the Spirit’s own immortal depths is reflected in you.
We have a capacity for love and hope and beauty seemingly too big for our heads and hearts, because we are created in the image of God.
Watch the Video for How To Survive a Shipwreck
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Excerpted with permission from How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin, copyright Jonathan Martin. Published by Zondervan.

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Your Turn
If you’ve survived a shipwreck in your life — a divorce, the death of someone dear, any profound loss — you’ve likely experienced wondering how on earth you can continue on in the face of such grief. Did you discover that there can yet be life on the other side of that death? How did God show Himself to you in that season? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily 
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Life is turbulent. On that, we can all agree. Disappointed dreams, broken relationships, identity crises, vocational hang-ups, wounds from the past—there are so many ways life can send us crashing up against the rocks.
In this deeply personal book, Jonathan Martin draws from his own stories of failure and loss to find the love that can only be discovered on the bottom. How to Survive a Shipwreck is an invitation to trust the goodness of God and the resilience of your soul. Jonathan’s clarion call is this: No matter how hard you’ve fallen, no matter how much you’ve been hurt, help is on the way—just when you need it most.
With visionary artistry and pastoral wisdom, Jonathan Martin reveals what we’ll need to make it through those uncharted waters, how we can use these defining experiences to live out of our depths, and why it will then become impossible to go back to the half-life we once lived.
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Everything changes when you know the pilot. 

 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good. — Psalm 25:7

Devotionals Daily

Lord, You Are Good 
by Max Lucado, from Before Amen

As I boarded a plane last week, the pilot called my name. He was standing in the cockpit entrance, greeting passengers.
“Well, hello, Max.” I looked up. It was my friend Joe. My old friend. He is the Methuselah of the airways. He’s been flying forever. He flew transports in Vietnam and has logged a bookful of hours as a commercial pilot. He’s faced every flight crisis from electrical storms to empty fuel tanks. He is a good pilot.
And he is a friend, a good friend. He’s not my neighbor, but if he were, our property value would increase. If I were in the hospital, he’d keep a bedside vigil. If I were on vacation, he’d keep my dog. If I offended him, he’d keep his cool until we could talk it through. He could no more tell a lie than a mosquito could sing the national anthem. He never swears, gets drunk, cheats, or swindles. He is that good. He is good—good in skill and good in heart.
We chatted for a few minutes, and I went to my seat with a sense of assurance. What more could I request? I thought. The pilot is experienced and proven. Even more, he is my tried-and-true friend. I am in good hands.
The knowledge came in handy. An hour into the flight we hit a wall of winds. People gasped, dentures rattled, and the attendant told us to check our seat belts and rosary beads. I’ve had smoother roller coaster rides.
Unlike the other passengers, however, I stayed calm. I didn’t have a death wish, but I had an advantage. I knew the pilot. I knew Joe. I knew his heart and trusted his skill. Joe can handle this, I told myself. The storm was bad, but the pilot was good. So as much as one can relax in a squall, I did.
Friend, it’s a stormy world out there. Every day brings turbulence. Moody economy. Aging bodies. Declining job market. Increasing street violence. The question during these troubling times is this: Do we have a good pilot?
The resounding response of the Bible is yes!
You are good, Lord. (Psalm 25:7)
Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8)
You, Lord, are forgiving and good. (Psalm 86:5)
God is good – good in skill and good in heart.
Most people suffer from small thoughts about God. In an effort to see Him as our friend, we have lost His immensity. In our desire to understand Him, we have sought to contain Him. The God of the Bible cannot be contained. He brought order out of chaos and created creation. With a word He called Adam out of dust and Eve out of a bone. He consulted no committee. He sought no counsel. He has no peer.
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. – Isaiah 46:9
The greatest kings have surrendered their crowns. Alexander the Great is a mound of dust in a tomb. The queen of England is called Her Majesty, yet she must eat and bathe and rest. The True Majesty, on the other hand, is never hungry. He never sleeps. He has never needed attention or assistance.
From the tiniest microbe to the mightiest mountain,
He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. – Hebrews 1:3
He has authority over the world and…
He has authority over your world. Your sleep patterns.
Your eating habits. Your salary. The traffic of your commute. The arthritis in your joints. God reigns over all these. He’s never surprised. He has never, ever uttered the phrase “How did that happen?”
God’s power is unsurpassed.
And His heart is unblemished.
There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. – James 1:17 MSG
He has no hidden agenda or selfish motive. He loves with a good love and forgives with a good forgiveness. Good as in “beautiful, best… bountiful.”
God’s goodness is a major headline in the Bible. I think I know why. If God were only mighty, we would salute Him. But since He is merciful and mighty, we can approach Him. No wonder the psalmist invited,
Taste and see that the Lord is good. – Psalm 34:8
A glimpse of God’s goodness changes us.
God’s unrivaled goodness undergirds everything else we can say about prayer. If He is like us, only slightly stronger, then why pray? If He grows weary, then why pray? If He has limitations, questions, and hesitations, then you might as well pray to the Wizard of Oz.
However, if God is at once Father and Creator, holy – unlike us – and high above us, then we at any point are only a prayer away from help.
When I was fifteen years old, I inherited a Rambler station wagon from my big brother. Look up the word jalopy in the dictionary, and you might see a picture of the car. Faded paint, standard shift on the column, worn interior. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was mine. My brother was heading off to college in his graduation present, a used Plymouth. And I was entrusted with the Rambler. I remember the passing of the keys.
“You have to keep gas in the tank,” Dad advised.
“I know.”
“Air in the tires.”
“I know.”
“Can you change the oil and keep the car washed?”
“Of course I can,” I lied. Truth be told, I didn’t know the difference between a manifold and a windshield wiper. Which was odd since my dad was a mechanic. He made a living repairing oil field engines. And he made a hobby out of rebuilding car engines. He worked with machines like Monet worked with colors – daily and delightfully. He tried to teach me the trade, and I tried to learn, but when it came to machines, my brain was Teflon. Nothing stuck.
I wasn’t about to tell that to my father though.
My ineptness surfaced the following Saturday. Dad reminded me that it was time to change the oil in the Rambler.
“Do you know how to do it?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“You want me to help you?”
I should have said yes.
I spent an hour beneath the car looking for the oil pan and another hour wrestling with the plug. I finally removed it, drained the oil, crawled out, and poured in five new quarts. Finished at last.
Or so I thought. Dad was waiting for me in the garage.
“All done?”
“All done.”
“You sure?”
“Yessir.”
“Then what is that?”
He pointed to a river of oil running down the driveway – clean oil. I’d forgotten to replace the plug in the oil pan.
“Max,” he said, “we need to talk.” He walked me over to his oil field pickup. He opened the side panel and showed me the trays of tools. He began to describe the purpose of each. “I use this one to remove valves, this one to tighten clamps, this one to attach hoses, this one to…”
He took me tool by tool through his truck. After what seemed like an hour of show-and-tell, he closed the cabinet, locked it, and looked me straight in the eye.
“Son,” he said, “I fix things for a living. What is hard for you is simple to me. I may not be good at everything, but I am good with machines. Let me help you. I’m a mechanic. And, besides, I’m your dad.”
I never spilled another drop of oil. (Of course, now I pay the guy at the lube store to do the work.)
Here is what I think: our toughest challenges are simple oil changes to God.
Here is what else I think: a lot of us make unnecessary messes. But we can change that. May I make a suggestion?
Before you face the world, face your Father.
Here is how it works. It’s a Monday morning. The alarm clock lives up to its name. Clang! Clang! Clang! You groan, roll over, and sit up. In the old days you would have made the coffee, turned on the news, and begun your day with a briefing on the toxic problems in the world.
But today you turn to the Pocket Prayer. Still half asleep you take your coffee, and you lumber toward a chair and take a seat. You don’t look like much: face pillow creased, hair smashed. No matter. You haven’t come to look at you. You have come to look at God.
Father, my Daddy… The words come slowly at first. But you stay at it. You are good. Your heart is good. Your ways are right… The words stir you. Something within begins to awaken. The weather is bad, the economy is bad, but, God, you are awesome.
Don’t underestimate the power of this moment.
You just opened the door to God and welcomed truth to enter your heart. Faith sneaked in while despair was dozing.
Who knows, you might start to worship.
Father, You are good. Good enough to love me, care for me, and come for me. You are good! An arch of Your eyebrow, and a million angels will pivot and salute. Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier-mâché to Yours. You have no questions, second thoughts, or backward glances. You consult no clock. You keep no calendar. You report to no one. You are good!
Is your world different because you prayed? In one sense, no. Wars still rage, traffic still clogs, and heartbreakers still roam the planet. But you are different. You have peace. You’ve spent time with the Pilot. And the Pilot is up to the task.
My friend Joe, as it turns out, got us through the storm just fine. He landed the plane and stood in his cockpit door as we exited the flight.
“Got a bit choppy there, Joe,” I commented.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Were you scared?”
“Not really,” I replied. “Everything changes when you know the pilot.”
Excerpted with permission from Before Amen by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado. Published by Thomas Nelson.

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Your Turn

Lord, You are good… What a powerful prayer! Do you start your day telling God that you know He is good? Do you know that He is good? Even in the storm you are in? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you about the Pocket Prayer! ~ Devotionals Daily 
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About the Book
We all pray . . . some.
We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.
But wouldn’t we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?
Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.
We aren’t the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.
And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn’t we use the same?
In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.
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About the Study
In this four-session video-based study, best-selling author Max Lucado reveals his struggles with prayer and how he discovered that it is not a privilege for the pious or the art of a chosen few but a simple tool everyone has been given to have a conversation with God. He shows you how to let go of uncertainties about prayer, trust that God hears you, and embrace a prayer life that brings peace and rest.
Join Max Lucado on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer and the power unleashed with five simple sentences: “Father, you are good. I need help. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” 
This study guide with DVD includes a DVD with four video sessions from Max Lucado and a study guide with discussion questions, video notes, and in-between studies. 
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