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VIDEO Calming the Storm

John MacArthur Dec 27, 2009

Open your Bible, if you will, to the fourth chapter of the gospel of Mark, and we come to the final paragraph in this fourth chapter, verses 35 through 41; verses 35 through 41. Now, remember that Mark’s purpose in writing the gospel is stated in chapter 1, verse 1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Mark, like all the other writers – Matthew, Luke, and John – has as his goal and his objective to make it clear, unmistakably clear, that Jesus is none other than God. That He is man, to be sure, but that He is God as well, the God-man. That will be demonstrated, magnificently, unforgettably, in the passage that is before us. We will see a beautiful portrait of His humanity, and we will see a staggering demonstration of His deity.

Let’s look at the story, starting in verse 35. “On that day, when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?’ They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’”

Well, the simple answer to that question is, He is God, because only God has such power over wind and waves. We shouldn’t be surprised about that, since we hear the testimony of John, in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word” – meaning Christ – “and the Word was with God, the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” That is to say that Christ, the Word, is the Creator of everything that exists. If He has the power to create it, He has the power to control it.

In Hebrews, chapter 1, it speaks of God’s Son, who is appointed heir of all things, verse 2, “through whom also He made the world.” And then in verse 3, He “upholds all things by the word of His power.” Here, we are told that God made the world through the agency of Christ, and Christ sustains it by His power.

In Colossians, chapter 1, there is a similar testimony from the apostle Paul, where it tells us, in verse 16, “By Him” – that is, by Christ – “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible…all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” He is the Creator and the Sustainer of the creation; that is the testimony of Scripture, and those are only samples of the kind of testimony that is repeated in the New Testament regarding Christ. Another one is 1 Corinthians 8, which tells us, similarly, that He is the one who has made everything that has been made. “There is but one God, one Father, from whom are all things…we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through Him.”

He is the Creator of the universe; all things exist because He made them, and all things are sustained because He sustains them, so that when we come to an occasion like this, what we are seeing anecdotally, what we are seeing in the incident that happens, is this creative power. Creative power is demonstrated in every healing miracle. Whenever Jesus healed someone, it was a creative miracle. He had to give the person new limbs, or new organs; that’s creation. But here, on a grand scale, He demonstrates His power over the inanimate world, the wind and the waves. He has displayed His power over demons; He can control the spiritual world. He has displayed His power over disease; He can control the human world, even in its physicality. And here He has power over the natural creation.

This demonstration is really unique in the New Testament. There are some other physical miracles, like the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand, where He creates food virtually out of nothing, speaks it into existence, clearly, an indication of His creating power.

But this is on a grander, if you will, and more powerful scale, and the Lord couldn’t have picked a better place to demonstrate His power over His creation. This lake that is in view here is the very familiar Sea of Galilee. It isn’t mentioned here, but it doesn’t need to be, because we know the context. Jesus’ ministry is being carried on in Galilee. His basic headquarters is in Capernaum, at the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. He has been moving in that area, and teaching in the villages and towns of Galilee. On this particular day, He has spent the whole day in that area, on the edge of the sea. If you go back to chapter 4, verse 1, “He began to teach again by the sea” – that’s the Sea of Galilee. “Such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things.”

The scene was repeated on a number of occasions. The crowd was so massive that they pressed Him all the way to the water’s edge, and the only way He could get some space between Himself and the crowd, and say what He wanted to say, would be to get in a boat, and get off the shore into the water a little bit. The water would act as a little bit of a reflection of His voice, and the hillsides surround could create very much of an amphitheater, and so it would be easy for Him to be heard in that way.

So, in the very familiar territory of the Sea of Galilee – which isn’t really a sea, it’s a fresh water lake, and today it’s known as Lake Kinneret, in Israel – but it’s, to us, called the Sea of Galilee. It is the lowest fresh water lake on the planet; it is 682 feet below sea level. It isn’t as low as the Dead Sea, but the Dead Sea is not fresh water; it is highly mineralized content, and the salt in the Dead Sea is so thick that you can float on the top of it rather easily. But this is the lowest fresh water lake in the world, and as a result of that, it has been much studied for its unique properties. It has a stratification of water. There are literally three stratifications of the water, that go down a hundred and fifty feet, and those stratifications have a lot to do with the surface of the lake at various times of the year. They have a lot to do with the content of algae, which has a lot to do with the content of fish. In 1896, one fishing boat alone brought in 92 hundred pounds of fish. It is a prolific lake for the production of fish, and having that kind of water and that kind of resource in Galilee was a great blessing to the people who live there.

It is surrounded by mountains. Essentially, on the west and the northwest, the mountains rise to 1,500 feet. On the northeast and the east, they rise to 3,000 feet, to the Golan Heights, which runs 42 miles in length, and the lake is only 13 miles, so it goes far past the lake; the lake is 13 by 8. So, it sits in a bowl, and the water that comes into the lake that comes – comes partly from some hot springs, but primarily from the Jordan River, which flows out of Mount Herman. Mount Herman is up in the north, on the Lebanon border, at 9,200 feet, so the water flows about 10,000 feet down, to fill up this lake in this bowl. It is such pristine, fresh water that it provides, even today, about fifty percent of the water for the nation Israel, so it was a tremendous resource to them, for water as well as for fish.

Now, that’s why so many of the disciples were fishermen; up to seven of them. We know James and John, Peter and Andrew, and there may have been three more who were also fishermen on that lake. Because of its unique location, because it’s only 30 miles from the Mediterranean, and it sinks so low, it has very special properties, because it is surrounded by these mountains. That adds to the uniqueness of the lake, and as a result, scientists have done research on this lake through the years to study it. It is different than all other bodies of water in the world, and what particularly makes it unique is the fact that it is subject to very, very severe winds. And both in the summer and the warm part of the year, and in the winter in the cold part of the year, it experiences these kinds of winds. The winds that come in the summer are the Sirocco winds, from the east; they’d be like our Santa Ana winds, only they typically come every day from noon to six o’clock. They’re pretty predictable. The wind comes down hard off the Golan Heights and a little north of that, and it comes down, and it turns the lake into a boiling caldron, and it’s pretty much the routine every day during the summer. These make it a very treacherous place to be in a boat at the wrong time.

The winter is even worse, because the winter winds are cold winds, that come from the north and the northwest, and when the cold air comes down, and it hits the warm air that naturally sits in the bowl, it creates a turmoil; the cold air goes through the warm air, and causes tremendous turmoil on the lake.

So, whether you’re in the summer or the winter, it is subject to this. I have been there on a number of occasions, and I have seen these kinds of winds come out of nowhere. I remember one time we got in this metal boat, and we were going to go across the Sea of Galilee. And we were up in the bow, standing on the bow and enjoying the ride, and, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the lake began to foam, and the waves began to rise. And pretty soon we had to run to the stern, to avoid the water splashing over the bow, only to be drenched by the water that went over the wheelhouse, and hit us all the way in the stern.

So, it can be a very troublesome place if you’re there at the wrong time; between, I guess, November and April, that is the most dangerous, treacherous time. And in very unexpected ways, those winds can come, those cold winds, and the waves can get anywhere from five to ten feet. And that just doesn’t happen on a lake, but it happens there, and it can be a very terrifying experience. In fact, one historian gives the record of the fact that on one occasion, they were in Tiberias, on the western shore of the lake, and the waters, the waves were coming so high that they were coming two hundred yards into the city of Tiberias, off this little lake. All of this is the basic product of the wind.

So, that’s the place where this happens, and so it couldn’t have been a better place for the Lord to demonstrate His power over nature, and that’s exactly what He does here. Let’s start with a calm before the storm, we’ll call it the calm before the storm, then we’ll look at the calm during the storm, and then we’ll look at the calm after the storm, and then we’ll look at the storm after the calm. Okay? We’ll work our way through the whole deal here.

All right, the calm before the storm, verse 35. “On that day when evening was come” – that day means a very specific day. What day? The very day that started in verse 1, when the Lord went down by the Sea of Galilee, and began to teach, and a huge massive crowd, as always, came, and He had to get in a little boat. And when He taught on the soils, and then pulled the disciples aside, and explained the meaning of the parables to them, while not explaining to the crowd. And then He told the parable, as you remember, of the lamp and the basket. And then He told the parable of the seed planted at night that grows, the farmer knows not how. And then He told the parable of the mustard seed. And it’s been a long day, and those are only representative of the parables that He gave. He most likely gave many more parables than just these, and there was a full day of teaching. We can assume as well that people had brought the sick and the needy to Him, and there was healing going on as well. We would assume, then, that it was a typically exhausting day for the Lord; teaching itself can be very, very exhausting, and He did it day, after day, after day, after day, with tremendous demands being made on Him.

So, we can assume that He’s somewhere on the northwest edge of the Sea of Galilee, off in the little boat, near the town of Capernaum. Evening comes, dusk; the people will kind of dissipate now, and go to their homes. “He said to them” – that would be to His disciples, who are referred to in verse 34, His own disciples. “He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’”

Now, we might assume that He was going over to the other side just to get a bit of a rest, and that would be, to one degree or another, reasonable, to get away. There were many occasions when He did that, when He tried to escape the crushing crowd. We could assume that because there were no large cities on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee – all the large cities and towns were on the western shore – that maybe He was just going over there to get away from things, where He could get a bit of a break, and a little bit of rest.

But if you understand what comes next in the book of Mark, you know that that was not the point, because in chapter 5, verse 1, when “they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him.”

He comes to an encounter, which has been ordained by His Father, with the Gerasene maniac, who is full of demons; and He ends up sending those demons into a herd of pigs, who take a dive off the hill and end up in the sea itself. So, while it may have been assumed that this is a way to get away, and get a bit of a break, it turns out to bring Jesus into one of the most formidable, one of the most dramatic encounters of His entire life, with this demonized maniac on the other side. Jesus always operated on a divine appointment; rest was perhaps somewhat incidental to Him. But nonetheless, at the end of a long, long day, it would be good to get a calm ride in the boat to the other side, and perhaps a few hours’ break.

So, verse 36 says, “Leaving the crowd” – and remember, He’s in a boat already, teaching. May well have been the same boat, because it says, “they took Him along with them in the boat” – that boat perhaps belonged to Peter, or John, or Andrew, or James, one of those fishermen. And they took Him – “just as He was” – which indicates that He didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t go to change, didn’t go to eat; they just took Him the way He was, and headed off in the water, and then “other boats were with Him.”

The word boat, by the way, ploion, doesn’t tell you anything about the size of the boat; it’s a very generic word. It doesn’t say whether it was a large boat or a small boat, but we know it was a relatively small boat, because the kind of boats that were used for fishing on the Sea of Galilee were relatively small boats. In the last month – you may have seen it – they have discovered one of them, which they were able to dig up from the bottom of the lake. And they have – sort of the rib cage of that boat still remains, and from what I could tell in looking at it, it would probably hold, comfortably, 15 to 20 people.

Well, that wasn’t going to transport all the apostles, and Jesus, and all the disciples who were following Him across, so there were other boats. Everybody else who had a boat and was a follower of Jesus joined, and you had this little flotilla going across the north end of the Sea of Galilee, headed to the other side – “other boats were with Him.”

Luke tells us “they were sailing along,” and Luke uses a very specific verb; the verb is pleō, and it means to sail, not elaunō, which means to row. You row when there’s no wind, you sail when there’s wind, so it was an ideal situation. The water was calm, they were sailing along, and those boats had the capability of being rowed; they had oars, but they also had a mast and a sail, and when the breeze came up, they would sail. They launched from the shore, and they were sailing along, with a gentle breeze, in the calm waters of dusk, pushed toward that eastern shore; off they go.

At this point, we check in with Luke, and Luke says as the boat began to sail, Jesus fell asleep – “He fell asleep.” Mark 4:38 says, “He was asleep on the cushion” – literally, the pillow. It contains the word – that word for cushion contains the word kephalē, which is the word for head; something to put your head on. So that’s the kind of cushion it was, it was a pillow for His head, some kind of pillow that sailors used when they needed to lie down and get a bit of a rest.

So, He lay down in the boat, and immediately fell asleep. This is a beautiful picture of the truly human Jesus, who is exhausted, who is weary. He is the very one who created the water. He is the very one who created the sky. He created the wood the boat was made of. He even created sleep. And now, He employs these things for His own benefit, and He goes to sleep in the boat. Trailing along behind that boat are all those who were followers of His.

It turns out they’re not all true followers; some of them are rocky soil, some of them are weedy soil, as we saw in the parable earlier in the chapter, because John 6:66, which comes later, says that many of His disciples “walked no more with Him.” So, they’re not all going to be the real deal, but they were, at least for now, following Him, and this is what we’ll call the calm before the storm. A beautiful picture of Christ, totally exhausted, and asleep in a comfortable place.

Well, the calm before the storm leads to the calm during the storm, because the storm breaks out, according to verse 37. “And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” A fierce gale of wind – fierce gale is a term for hurricane. We’re talking about – we’re talking about a huge wind. We could be talking about a 70-mile-an-hour wind; the word for wind is just that. What kind of wind was it? A fierce gale kind of wind, a wind that could be classified as a hurricane; very descriptive language, very strong language. And Luke says it “descended on the lake” – katabainō – it came down on the lake. It just came racing down the slopes. The language is very, very strong.

The best calculations would put this likely in the winter of the year 29 A.D. This would be the time of the worst winds, cold air furiously funneling down the ravines and the slopes, gaining speed as it descended, colliding with the warm air in the low basin of the lake, creating violent turbulence that began to whip and swirl the water, turning it into foam and very, very high waves. And because the lake is so small – 13 by 8 – once those waves hit the shore, they just explode back and collide again, and again, and again, and again, wreaking havoc.

They all were familiar with storms on the lake; they lived around the lake, and they were in one now that was over the top. Here was a God-ordained storm. We could assume that these were specially-chosen winds to accomplish this miracle, to put our Lord in the position to demonstrate that He is, in fact, the one who controls His creation. This is – this is to be a lesson. What’s it supposed to teach? Look at verse 40. “Why are you afraid? How is it you have no faith?” This is a faith lesson; this is a faith lesson.

The point here is, that our Lord wants to teach His disciples that He can be trusted in the most threatening of circumstances.

Now, Matthew, in his account, in Matthew 8 – this account repeats in Matthew 8 and Luke 8, as well as here in Mark 4. In Matthew 8:24, what happens is described as seismos megas. Seismos we understand; a seismic event of mega proportions. Now, that’s really basically the word for earthquake, seismos, so this like this is of massive proportions, like a violent shaking of the earth, this violent shaking of the water, generated by hurricane-force winds. And it’s so severe, verse 37 says that “the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.” Luke 8:23 puts it this way: “They began to be swamped and to be in danger.” They can’t get the water thrown out, bailed, as fast as it’s pouring in.

Matthew 8:16 says it’s now night, so they’re in the dark, just to add to the terror. Matthew says the boat was covered with the waves; they’re just literally swamping this little boat. They’re breaking so fast that they can’t deal with them. Matthew says that in spite of the storm, Jesus remains asleep.

And now, does that give you some idea of His true humanness? He sleeps through the storm; that’s how weary He was. Verse 38. “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.”

Have you ever been that tired? Man, that is really tired. I can think back to a few times in my life. I can think back to one trip I took to Russia, and they had me speaking – I don’t know – eight hours a day for two weeks, I think, and it was exhausting. And I remember getting on a plane in Moscow, and having someone wake me up to get off the thing when it landed in New York, and not remembering anything between. And I remember then getting on the next plane in New York, and not waking up till the wheels hit in L.A. I think some of us have experienced that, in ways that we would identify as a very human response to being exhausted, worn out, and that’s exactly what our Lord experienced. Again, we see the truth of His humanity, don’t we? He’s a real man, a real human being. He understands weariness, and He’s so tired that He sleeps with water smashing over the boat; sound asleep, peacefully asleep. I call that the calm during the storm. Fatigued, totally calm, in the stern with His head on a pillow, He is the calm one in the midst of the storm, like the eye of the hurricane.

Now, nobody else was calm. Verse 38 says, “They woke Him” – aware of the danger – “and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” “How can You just sleep when we’re going through this? Don’t You care that we’re perishing?” – the word to be destroyed. Now, they understood this was – this was inevitable death. They would not survive this. And there would be on that boat – perhaps His apostles were together on that boat, perhaps there were men and women in the little flotilla, and they were all in the same situation. They were very clear as to the severity of the danger. They knew the situation they were in. They panicked. Panic was a normal human response to that kind of circumstance. They knew Jesus had power over demons, they knew He had power over disease, they knew that He had power over the natural world, as well as the supernatural world. Could He save them in this circumstance? Could He – could He deliver them from a storm?

I don’t think it entered their mind that He could stop the storm, but it probably entered their mind that if they were going to be spared death, He was going to have to be the one that would come through to make some kind of miraculous exit possible. They had nowhere else to turn. It’s pandemonium, by the way, it’s panic. They’re yelling, over the loud wind and the crashing water, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Luke says they said, “Master, Master,” Matthew says – and that’s a word, epistata, which means commander – then Matthew says, “Lord,” So, He’s Master in one thing, Lord in another, and Teacher in another. Somebody says, “Well, that’s scriptural inconsistency.” No, it’s not. Now lookit, this was not a – this was not a one-time statement; this is panic and pandemonium. They used all the words they could come up with. They were – they were firing at Him from every angle. Teacher, Master, Lord – this is not an organized speech, this is the cries of terrified people, and Matthew 8:26 says they were terrified. Of course, they were going to die; that was – that was inevitable, if something didn’t happen. It’s a dark day, you know, when the sailors call on the carpenter to get them out of the storm. Nazareth is a long way from the sea. Jesus wasn’t raised on the sea.

So, they – they’re not looking for a carpenter’s solution to a sailor’s dilemma; they’re looking for a divine solution. By now, they know He has connections with God, and they know that they’re going to have to have some divine intervention; that’s their only hope. They know that. Maybe the one who has divine power over illness, the one who has divine power over demons, maybe God will dispense to Him something that will get them out of this. And you know, they were, after all, raised on the Old Testament, very familiar with the Psalms, so they would have known things like this, Psalm 65, verses 5 to 7: “O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea, who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, The roaring of the waves.” The psalmist had said that God has power to still the roaring sea and the roaring waves. Or they might have remembered Psalm 89:9: “You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, you still them.”

Or perhaps, they remembered that very familiar and beloved 107th Psalm, that in verse 23, it says this: “Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They’ve seen the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed.”

Maybe they remembered Psalm 107, that God is the one who has the power to still the storm and hush the waves. We don’t know what they were thinking about, but they knew that there was no human solution. They knew that Jesus had access to God. They knew that He had access to divine power. They had never seen anything like this; they had never seen Him act in any situation like this. Of all the miracles that He had done, none of them was to deliver them from danger. There had not yet been any miracle in which Jesus had delivered His own from danger and death.

But where else are they going to turn? So, they go to the one that they know has connections with God – and some of them even knew that He was God – and so, they apply their simple, humble, weak, little faith – as it’s called also – to this plea. Which then leads to the calm after the storm, verse 39: “And He got up” – got up off His bench in the stern, up off the pillow that was under His head – “and rebuked the wind…He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’”

Wow. They broke in on Jesus’ sleep – typical of people in distress, in desperation. Maybe they were thinking of Psalm 10:1: “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in the midst of trouble?” Or Psalm 44: “Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Why do You hide Your face?”

And the Lord heard their desperate cries, and He got up, and He rebuked the wind, and then He said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” No theatrics. No effort. He spoke to the wind, and the wind stopped instantaneously; He spoke to the water, and the water stopped instantaneously. The water and the wind recognized the voice of their Creator. Just as He would tell death to release Lazarus, He tells the wind and the waves to obey His will.

Both stopped, and Mark says “it became perfectly calm.” Perfectly is really probably not an accurate translation, although I understand what the translators meant. It’s megalē – mega, something mega is great. Megalē is the greatest calm; the whole lake was as placid as a pond. The wind stopped immediately, and the waves flattened out. That wouldn’t happen; if the wind stopped, the waves would still go, hit the shore, bounce back, collide. That would go on for quite a long time after the winds had stopped. But He stopped the winds, and at the same time stopped the water, simply by speaking. These men had seen the winds come up, and they had seen the water whipped up, and they had seen the winds die down, and the water continue to boil. But here, the wind and the water stops, and there is a perfect, supreme calm.

The supernatural power of Jesus is such that, with a word, millions of horsepower of wind force is halted; millions of gallons of water are stopped, and made placid. And what is Mark telling us by this? That we’re looking at the Creator here; this is the Son of God. He is the Son of God proven by His birth, proven by His victory over Satan, proven by His teaching, proven by His miracle power, and proven by His tremendous control of creation.

Yes, He can bring the new creation. Yes, He can restore the earth to Eden-like characteristics. Yes, He can make the desert blossom like a rose. Yes, He can open a river in Jerusalem that flows out into the desert, turns it into a garden. Yes, He can change nature, so the lion lies down with the lamb, and a child can play in a snake pit. Yes, He has the power over His creation to change life span, so that in the Kingdom, somebody who dies at a hundred dies like an infant. Yes, He has that power. He has complete power over nature, and He controls it. He created it, He sustains it, and He’ll bring it to its recreation in the millennial kingdom in the future, and He will one day eliminate it, in an un-creation where it will melt with a fervent heat. It will have an atomic implosion, and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. I just wish the people in our world who think they can control the future of the planet understood what the Bible says. They’re not in charge of the planet; none of them are, and they aren’t collectively, and they’re not going to make this planet last one split second longer than the Creator has designed for it to last. They have nothing to do with it. All of that is nonsense, absolute nonsense.

First of all, it’s nonsense scientifically, but even more so, it’s nonsense theologically. The Creator is the sustainer and the consummator of His creation. This miraculous demonstration of His power would seem to be enough to convince me who I’m dealing with, and it was a lesson in faith for them, so He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” “I’m looking at your panic and your fear; how is it that you have no faith?” Or, in the words of Matthew, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” And again, He stops the storm, and points out the weakness of their faith. “You didn’t have enough faith to believe that I could care for you. You didn’t need to be in a panic. You didn’t need to be terrified.”

So, there they sit, in the placid silence and the calm after the storm, and Jesus says, “Why such fear? Why such lack of faith? Haven’t I proven that you can trust Me already?”

Well, their faith must have received a big boost that day, must’ve; but their reaction really doesn’t demonstrate that, and we’d like to have them say, “Lord, we’ll never – we will never fear again, as long as You’re around. Hey, we’re not going to worry about anything. We’ve seen enough. We’re convinced.” But that’s not their reaction.

Their reaction is predictable – verse 41, it’s the last point – this is the storm after the calm. “They became very much afraid.” Please notice verse 40. They were afraid during the storm; now, they’re very much afraid. Why? Well, what’s worse than having a storm outside your boat, is having God in your boat; that’s enough to panic you.

They knew what they were dealing with. The living God was in their boat, the Creator, the controller of His creation. Terror set in. Panic set in. You remember, on another occasion on the sea, when Peter couldn’t catch any fish? Luke 5, and Jesus said, “Try this side of the boat.” Peter threw his net over there, and they had so many fish they couldn’t bring them in, and what was Peter’s response? “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.”

Well, what kind of reaction is that? That’s the reaction of somebody who knows that the Creator controls all of the living animals, all the fish in the sea, and they go where He tells them to go. That’s frightening, because if you see God, then God sees you. You see His glory, He sees your sin. That’s a very normal response through Scripture.

Abraham – Genesis 18:27 – had the same reaction, a sort of immediate panic, when he had an encounter with God, and realized the kind of man He was. Manoah, the father of Samson, came home and said to his wife, “We’re going to die. Write the will, we’re done.” And she said, “Well, why?” “I saw the Lord, and if I saw Him, He saw me, and if He saw me, we’re dead.”

Job had the same experience. Isaiah – Isaiah 6:5, he pronounced a curse upon himself: “I’m a man of unclean lips” – he cursed himself. Ezekiel had the same experience, in the vision of chapter 1. Daniel had the same experience, in chapter 10. John the Apostle, in Revelation 1, when he saw the first vision of Christ, says he fell over like a dead person. It’s a terrifying thing to realize that you are in the presence of God; the presence of God.

They – they – there was no other explanation; they knew this was supernatural, and they said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” That’s a rhetorical question; it doesn’t have to have an answer. Mark doesn’t even give an answer. “Where is this person from? Not from around here. This is an alien person. This is a foreign person, from another place, with that kind of power,” and of course, the implication is that they were talking about one who had come from heaven.

Matthew 14 – there’s another occasion of Jesus on the water, and this time He walked on the water, remember that? And when He got in the boat, it says, after walking on the water, he says, “O you of little faith” – same thing – “why do you doubt?” Here we go again – “the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, and said, ‘You are certainly the Son of God.’”

The second time that they saw an incident on the water in which He controlled the water, walked on the water, stopped the storm, they answered their rhetorical question. Here, they say, “He’s not from here.” Next time, they say, “He’s the Son of God.”

I think that was what was in their minds here as well. There’s no reason for Mark to answer that rhetorical question; there’s only one possibility. Only God controls the elements, and He does it at His own discretion, and in this case, for the protection of His own disciples and apostles. They needed to know that the Lord not only was God, but that the Lord was their protector.

Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden on the Lord and He’ll sustain you.” Or, 1 Peter 5:7, as Peter puts it, “cast your care on Him, because He cares for you.” So, the Lord is communicating two things here. He’s communicating His deity, in the expression of power, and He’s communicating His sympathy, His compassion, and His care for his own, in protecting them from premature death. Does that mean that Christians don’t die? No, but they don’t until their time has come, and until that time, the Lord protects, and cares for, and preserves His own, as He did here. This is a story that has no explanation apart from the deity of Jesus Christ. There is no explanation, humanly, for this. Even if you could suggest that the winds stopped on their own, there’s no explanation for the water flattening out. And if they thought it was coincidental, they would never have responded in terror because they knew divine power was present, nor would have they suggested that this was a divine person, not someone from around their neighborhood. And they also said, “The wind and the sea obey Him,” which means that the stopping of the wind and the stopping of the water was directly connected to His words.

Well, it was an interesting trip to get to the other side, and it was equally interesting when they arrived, as we will see next time. Let’s pray.

Your Word is always so fresh to us, Lord, and so encouraging and inviting, and – and that’s because it presents You in all Your majesty and glory. And particularly when we look at the incidents regarding the life of Christ, and the majesty of His person, the wonder of who He is, both as man and as God, and we see that brought together in such a beautiful way here. So weary that He can sleep in a storm, so powerful that He can stop the storm in its tracks. This is our Christ, fully God and fully man, so that He can provide the infinite sacrifice for sin, and die in the place of man.

Thank you again, Lord, for Your Word. We are always enriched by it; we’re always thrilled at its glorious truth and consistency. And may it be that we have come to know this Christ in the true sense, beyond those of little faith or no faith, beyond those that are still asking the questions about who He is. Bring us to the full conviction that Jesus is the God-man, the Christ, Your Son, the Messiah, and the Savior, and may He become the object of our faith, a true and saving faith, we pray for Your glory, and our own eternal blessing. Amen.

VIDEO Why do we look for God in a hurricane?

Will Wellman August 29, 2019


Who will lift this sorrow from our hearts?
Yesterday evening a heavy rain and again today
the covered sky burdens us. Our thoughts —
like the pine needles of yesterday’s downpour
bunched up and useless in front of our doorway —
would build a collapsing tower.

Among these decimated villages
on this promontory, open to the south wind
with the mountain range in front of us hiding you,
who will appraise for us the sentence to oblivion?
Who will accept our offering, at this close of autumn?

— from “Mythistorema,” George Seferis

I am 21 in Trevor’s jacked-up Chevy Silverado crossing the Gandy Bridge from Tampa to St. Pete. We are tossed back and forth by 70-mile-per-hour winds from Hurricane Charley’s outer bands. Trevor is gripping the wheel with all his might, Jones is in the front seat screaming, beer in hand, and I am in the back—no seat belt—staring straight ahead at black sky, screaming, too.

After nearly barreling into the sides of the bridge a hundred times, we arrive at our destination—a small bit of shore on the St. Petersburg side of Tampa Bay, affectionately known as Beer Can Beach. We are young, arrogant, hopelessly brave as we jump out of the truck and confront muscular winds that push back without stop. We dance like idiots behind a news reporter who fights the wind as well, yelling into a clunky microphone. Her cameraman attempts to angle us out.

We are young, arrogant, hopelessly brave as we jump out of the truck and confront muscular winds that push back without stop.

On the way home, my mother calls my cellphone: “What the heck are you doing in St. Pete? Why’d you cross the bridge?” I laugh maniacally, telling her everything is fine. I assure her nothing happened, that we’re almost back. I am 21 and think of nothing but having fun.


Having lived much of my 34 years in Florida, I have faced dozens of hurricanes. In 2004—the year of Charley—we were hit by four major hurricanes, and I came home from college in Gainesville for each one. Tampa became a playground of sorts. I lived through Hurricane Sandy while at seminary in New Jersey. Humongous, wind-knocked trees lay everywhere, and my astounded classmates and I climbed over them, drinking beer, talking theodicy, waiting for the electricity to come on.

Hurricane Irma was different. The normal attitude in Tampa and most of Florida is to buy some water and wait out the storm. Irma, though, brought on the largest emergency evacuation in Florida’s history. Even my most cavalier friends boarded up their windows. I bought five days’ worth of canned food. Grocery stores ran out of water the week before it hit. Gas stations were running out of gas four days before.

The normal attitude in Tampa and most of Florida is to buy some water and wait out the storm. Hurricane Irma was different.

My wife Taylor is from Nashville and had never lived through a hurricane. She became a Floridian quick—knowing the hours the National Hurricane Center put its updates online, following our local weatherman and therapist, Paul Dellegatto, on Facebook for detailed discussions on the path of Irma. She wanted to leave earlier in the week, but I told her the way Irma was tracking we’d be fine. Most of the models had Irma hitting Florida on the East Coast around Miami, then moving northwesterly through the state. So we prepped for what would come, ready to ride it out in the 1926 wood-frame house we had purchased less than a year before.

On Saturday morning, the day before the storm hit, Taylor woke me up, in tears, asking if we could please evacuate. I knew Irma had been tracking west but still felt like we were O.K. Taylor showed me the 8 a.m. National Hurricane Center update: The path was dead-on for Tampa, and Irma was now a Category 5. Tampa is a small peninsula inside of a bay and has been called the worst situated place in the continental United States for a hurricane to hit, worse than Houston or New Orleans.

For the first time in my life, I was evacuating from a hurricane. Taylor and I scrambled to pull inside whatever furniture, bricks, objects in our front and back yard that could become missilized by hurricane winds. We grabbed insurance documents and clothes and toiletries and whatever else came to mind at the time. I was uncharacteristically anxious, yelling are we ready? as I weaved through our suddenly full house—full of outdoor furniture, garden tools, wood, a mower.

On Saturday morning, the day before the storm hit, Taylor woke me up, in tears, asking if we could please evacuate.

I ran across the street to our neighbors to check on their plans. Emily looked at me like I was crazy—You’re going to get on the road? It’ll take you forever to get out of here, and there’s no gas. I told her we’re going to try, we exchanged numbers, and I let her and her husband know they could have some plywood we had bought to board our windows and didn’t have time to put up. We jumped into the car and headed north.

The traffic going north on I-75 wasn’t too bad. Our recently rescued corgi mutt, Lily, was excitedly panting on top of a cooler in the back seat of my Jeep, completely oblivious to what was going on, just excited to be on a car ride. I didn’t know if there would be a house to go back to in a few days. Would it be washed away, would that giant live oak in the backyard fall on it, would those nearly 100-year-old windows just shake till they shattered?

The first hour Taylor and I ran through apocalyptic scenarios and said dammits for the little things we had forgotten. A few miles north of Tampa, Taylor asked if we could pray for our friends and neighbors who stayed, for our house, for our city, for our state.


What brings natural disasters? It seems like a simple question, but visit churches and diners throughout Florida, and you’ll soon overhear folks talking about providence, the hand of God, the evil of man and on and on. We saw this with Katrina (Pat Robertson was quick to blame the hurricane on abortions); we saw it with the earthquake in Haiti; we saw it recently with Hurricane Harvey (Jim Bakker said the flooding was judgment from God).

A few miles north of Tampa, Taylor asked if we could pray for our friends and neighbors who stayed, for our house, for our city, for our state.

While it is easy to dismiss this way of thinking, it has a staying power. Folks from all backgrounds seem to find God’s involvement in disasters to be an explanation they not only can digest but, in some way, need. Is this the tendency in humans to seek out patterns? The need to have some moral structure to the world? The fear that if these events are random, it’s just a quick hop, skip and jump into nihilism?

On our drive to Charlotte, I thought about the reasons why a supernatural explanation for the approaching Irma would be a comforting position. A long history of kidney disease and seminary training had led me to a firm position of being anti-theodicy. I have no doubt in my head and heart that God plays no direct role in any disaster—natural or man-made—and so am disturbed by any talk of God’s involvement in tragedies.

As I imagined a Category 5 sweeping through Tampa, I thought of surging seas drowning the entire city and wondered who would think a benevolent God would want such a thing. Human lives would be lost. Others would be wrecked by the cost of rebuilding and dealing with the lack of flood insurance. And still others would be completely uprooted from their homes. No, God has nothing to do with this—if we were to come home weeks later to a destroyed home or an untouched, still-standing home, God has nothing to do with this.

What brings natural disasters? Visit churches and diners throughout Florida, and you’ll soon overhear folks talking about providence, the hand of God, the evil of man.

So where could God be? I’m no deist, and yet—driving up I-95 through Georgia—I began to wonder if I was. Maybe God just set things in motion billions of years ago and now sits back—an admiring watchmaker. Throughout our many stops to get gas, get food, let Lily pee, Taylor and I discussed these things. She was much more of the mindset that God is involved—not in any malicious way, but in some way, God is involved.


In my first year of seminary I quickly became discouraged with what I found to be the rationalistic approach to theology in the classroom. I came to seminary with no theological training—I had a background in ecology and botany—but a growing fascination with the Christian contemplative tradition. I arrived expecting discussions of Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John Ruysbroeck, and Catherine of Siena, and late-night bar talks around mystery and life and ecstasy.

My unmet expectations quickly turned to sadness and a spiritual slump—everything felt as dark and lifeless as the New Jersey winter. I have always had a problem keeping my eye on the ball, but this time was particularly challenging—I began to wonder what the heck I was doing in seminary. On top of that, a medication I was on had the unintentional side effect of making me clinically depressed.

Luckily, I am stubborn and stuck it out. Things got better and I found my foothold. I also found a mantra from Job—a high point of biblical literature: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (38:4).

God responds to Job from a whirlwind—a tempest, a hurricane.

This is what God says to Job after Job has spent most of the book trying to figure out, alone and with friends, why his life went to rubble. God responds to Job from a whirlwind—a tempest, a hurricane.

The phrase was a snide remark I would say to myself when professors or peers—always males—declared they had figured everything out. More than that, though, it became something that drove me to seek out a path, in and out of the classroom, that sought mystery over rationality, that held paradox as powerful, that knew there were things I did not know.


I do not remember where it was on I-95 when, in my thinking over the supernatural explanations around Irma, I began to wonder why God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind. Of all the things the biblical author could have chosen, a whirlwind. Why? Maybe it is because the author understood the unfathomable depths of God’s mystery. This God was essentially unknowable; of course God would speak from a windy, wet, violent storm.

Driving among the flood of evacuees headed north, I imagined myself inside a hurricane over the sea. The choppy, grey waves like a Winslow Homer painting, the whirling walls of wind and water, the deafening noise. I imagined God within the hurricane—not seen but felt—threshing to life formerly still seas, disturbing the entire water column from surface to sediment, sea life fighting to get away. Amid this blue, grey, white body hovered black clouds fast for the horizon. God in every drop of water that stung my face, in each gust that spun me round, in each cloud that passed.

God is not some petulant deity sending disaster upon those who disobey; God is the God who meets us in disaster.

Throughout the drive, our prayers journeyed geographically further—from Tampa down the coast to Southwest Florida, then past the Everglades and over the Gulf to Key West, and finally out to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands. In some way, Irma broadened my sense of self, my sense of concern. No longer was I simply waving to neighbors but being in a deeper relation of concern and compassion.

God didn’t bring the whirlwind; the whirlwind brought God. God is not some petulant deity sending disaster upon those who disobey; God is the God who meets us in disaster. In these moments we are brought outside ourselves and our own concerns; we are forced to consider the other and, hopefully, help the other just as they help us.

God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind because this is what shakes Job out of his inward theologizing and philosophizing. He is forced to look outward. And what does God do? Give an answer? No. God asks him, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” God then lists a litany of wild animals—none of them domesticated, all outside the bounds of Job’s known world and personal use. Job moves from his singular internal world to the multitudinous external world and so does his concern.


I am 34 in my Jeep, my wife Taylor next to me, escaping Hurricane Irma. Our dog Lily sits atop a cooler in the back, surrounded by our most important belongings and clothes. Taylor grabs my hand, our fingers interlace and squeeze the other’s hand tight. Taylor prays for our escape, our neighbors, our friends and family, for the many strangers south of us in Florida and the Caribbean. My eyes are open to the road and world ahead.

Will Wellman is a poet and essayist based in Tampa, Fla. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a co-founder of The EcoTheo Review. Special thanks to Mike Keeley and Denise Harvey for their permission to include the George Seferis translation as an epigraph.

For A Friend

Carrie Underwood – *** How Great Thou Art *** – featuring Vince Gill [HQ]


AUDIO Hang On! Stormy Weather Is On Its way

Rev Bill Woods

Luke 8:22-25 — One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.
23  As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
24  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!
25  Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Mark tells us this miracle happened after Christ encountered the opposition of His friends and enemies.

Mark 3:20-35 — One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat.
21  When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
22  But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
23  Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked.
24  “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse.
25  Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.
26  And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.
27  Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
28  “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven,
29  but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.”
30  He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
31  Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them.
32  There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
33  Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
34  Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers.
35  Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

There were several other confrontations where He was even accused of being demon-possessed.

He told several parables and warded off several attacks and was exhausted.

This had been a bad day of ceaseless pressure and agonizing responsibility, a day of physical and mental exhaustion.

Jesus told His disciples to go to the other side of the lake — the eastern shore.

He lay down in the boat to rest.

This was between 5 and 7 miles from where they were.  As they made their way across the lake a storm suddenly broke.

Mark 4:35-41 — As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”
36  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).
37  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39  When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
40  Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41  The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

That’s kind of a picture of life.  Not all storms we face are weather related.  Some are of the emotional and spiritual nature.

We start out going where we’re supposed to go and doing what we’re supposed to do and suddenly we’re caught in some turmoil that just about sinks our boat.

All kinds of storms come to all of us in this lifetime.

Often, we think we can’t bear up under the pressures of the storm only to find the weight seems too great and we can’t continue on.  We want to throw in the towel and just quit!

When these stressful times come we must learn to turn to the Lord for His help.

How heavy does something have to be, to be too heavy for us to manage?  When do the circumstances become so severe that we just feel like quitting?

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to her class.

She raised a glass of water; everyone expected her to ask the “half empty or half full” question.

Instead, she asked: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She said, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass hasn’t changed, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

“The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt.

And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses as early as you can–put  your burdens down.

Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV).

Good news! Jesus doesn’t leave us to flounder in the storm alone — He is in the storm with us.  He will share the load we carry.  He says, “His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”

Take a closer look at THE CRISIS ON THE LAKE (V. 23 )— As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

The lake, or Sea of Galilee, was notorious for its horrific storms, which came with shattering and terrifying suddenness.

They were like some of the storms we experienced when we lived in Cheyenne. 

Or like the storm we experienced this week in Sun Valley, with massive lightning and thunder and winds that knocked our power out and left us in the dark for 18 hours. 

If we would’ve had any trees many of them would be down after that storm!

The storm that caught the disciples on the Sea of Galilee was humongous. More than these seasoned fishermen could handle!  They’d been through storms before, but nothing compared with this one! 

The Sea of Galilee lies in a basin 600 feet below sea level.  It is surrounded by high mountains causing cold air to rush down the gorges and meet the warm air in the basin creating severe storms on the lake.

Maybe, like those disciples, you’re caught in a storm today.  One so severe you’re close to panic!

Is your storm a domestic problem — maybe a war within the home — a divided family under one roof?

You’ve reacted in anger and said things that can’t be retracted.

You’ve burned bridges that can never be rebuilt.

There’s animosity and resentment and the atmosphere of your home is charged with cruelty and massive stress.

That storm is in so many homes today.  Christ can ease the storm in your home!

For others it’s the storm of physical problems.

Perhaps the hounding “fear of the unknown” — the unknown future for so many seems totally frightening.

Some are facing a storm of doubt — the old truths no longer seem quite enough.

Thomas had to put his finger in the nail prints.

Some are facing the storm of decision.

They’ve come to a crossroads, there’s no word from Heaven.  Their minds are in turmoil and they’re fearful.

Its night and they’re in the midst of a storm.

As we read this story, it’s important to notice the storm was so severe the ship was being swamped.

These men were seasoned fishermen!  They knew this lake.

Yet here they were in a storm and their boat was sinking.

Not only was the boat getting swamped — they were in great danger. This was a crisis situation!

2. THE CRY OF THE DISCIPLES (V. 24) — The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!

The Galilean fishing boats were very large and hard to handle.  They had one large mast and a large 3-cornered sail.

Jesus was probably asleep on a deck like platform when this storm came up.

The disciples woke Jesus and told Him they were all going to drown!

Jesus responded by getting up and rebuking the raging wind and the rough sea.

Immediately the storm ceased!

Jesus demonstrated His Power to still the storm.

There was a complete calm — a total stillness that descended on the lake.

Christ’s mastery over the elements was complete.

3. THE CHRIST WHO CONFOUNDS (V.25 )— Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Jesus questioned the disciples about their faith.

We get the impression that the disciples shouldn’t have been terrified.  They should’ve trusted Him.

The One who is Lord of history and nature was in the boat — why should they fear?

The disciples were amazed!  They kept asking each other, “Who is this?”

This is a very important question which Luke doesn’t want us to miss.

This is a nature miracle — different because it shows the Lordship of Christ over man and his world. (25b) “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The disciples should’ve known when Jesus got in the boat He said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.”

He didn’t say “Let’s go to the middle of the lake and sink like a rock.”

You know Jesus is in your boat with you today too.

The news about what’s happening in this world is completely unnerving!

All you hear are threats of war, runaway inflation, depression, shortages, coming famine, raising interest, money being devalued, and on and on.

It’s all anyone can do to keep from going into sheer panic.

Let me give you a word of encouragement, Jesus promised He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

Let Him still your storms.

I was remembering the story of Henry J. Taylor, a famous American journalist who wrote about an experience he had as a boy.

His father owned a mine and one time took Henry with him to inspect a new elevator being installed in the mine.

Before the elevator’s safety cage was fitted, someone had to go down the shaft in a barrel dangling on the end of a rope.

Taylor went down in the barrel with his dad.

He was terrified!  The barrel swinging and swaying at the end of the rope, banging against the sides of the shaft.

Henry began to panic!  He was so frightened that his heart was beating like a trip hammer, he thought it was going to beat right out of his chest!

His father put his strong arm around him and kept saying, “Don’t be afraid, son.”

At the bottom of the shaft, they found a strange, dark, frightening underground world.

A miner warned them to be careful of poison gas!

That warning made things worse!  Henry likened the whole experience to a horrible nightmare.

The only thing in the whole terrifying ordeal was that Henry’s dad was right there to comfort and protect him.

A miner asked Henry, “Aren’t you scared?”

“Well,” Henry answered honestly, “I’d really be scared except my father is with me.”

That’s where I am today.  The world seems to be coming apart at the seams and “I’d be awfully scared except my Father is with me!”

I have the hope that Jesus will strengthen me here and has prepared a wonderful place where I will spend Eternity with Him! 

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  — John 14:1–3.

If you don’t have that assurance, you need to accept Him as your Savior too!


There is Still Power in the Blood

Don't believe in the Devil? 

That's exactly where Satin wants you. He and his demonic hosts are working hard to deceive you because he knows his time is running out and he will soon be cast into the bottomless pit. One pastor told me to leave Satin alone because "If we leave him alone will leave us alone." That's dumb because he doesn't intend to leave you or your family alone. You must learn how to stand against him. 

In this book you will find how:

-Demons enter in the first place.

-How to be set free from demonic bondage.

-How to stay free.

-Pit falls Satin hopes you will fall into so he can destroy you and your family.

-How to have a close walk with Jesus Christ and enjoy victory in your life. 


The Delivery Room called Patience

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Our interaction with God is not transactional, but relational. The quicker one realizes that, the better. That is why we pray for days, months, or even years to receive a certain response from God. That is why we search through the Scriptures to find a single truth. We search, linger, and wait for answers that only take but a moment to arrive, and suddenly. We all know that, ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows’ (James 1:17), and so we beseech Him for them. We quickly realize that once we ask for whatever it is we want from God, we have not just opened a door to receive from Him, but a door to relate with Him. And since the latter comes before the former, many walk away and quit asking God because ‘He did not answer me’. Little did they know that God first had to prepare them to receive what they asked for. For before God gives us a thing, He ensures that we first have Him, and no Believer can ever come to a place and say that they have had enough of God. And so every time we go to God to ask for one thing, He first gives us another aspect of Himself. Whatever our circumstances, until we come to a point where we say to God, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing’ (Psalm 16:2), then all that we ask for are idols that we raise before God. Yet, He clearly says, ‘I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols’ (Isaiah 42:8).

In our natural disposition, we would prefer God to be transactional- we ask for whatever and then He gives it to us there and then. We hate the idea of waiting, but see the necessity of changing. Yet, change takes time. It is relational, not transactional. While we were once lost in sin, God had to painstakingly watch us take all the wrong roads and make all the wrong choices. ‘These things you have done and I kept silent’ (Psalm 50:12). But the time came when God was ready to act, and He says, ‘For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant’ (Isaiah 42:14). God waited for us, but we find it impossible to wait on the God who was patient with us all along. We fail to recognize that once we seek a matter from the Courts of God, a seed of inception grows in us. We walk about like a pregnant woman who waits and watches as the belly protrudes to accommodate the growing baby. Unfortunately, some abort the baby before they can even see the light of life by the pretext, ‘God did not answer’. But those who are patient enough wait for a bit, and when the time for delivery comes, the birth pangs begin. ‘As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in pain, so were we in your presence, O Lord’ (26:v17). However, at the moment of birth, some when they sense pain and discomfort throw in the towel and refuse to bring forth the child. Their narrative then becomes, ‘We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to the wind’ (v18).

Many who terminate the child is because of unbelief, love for comfort, or hatred for pain and suffering. Some can wait, while others can wait for as long, but would not reach to a point of endurance. They simply give up at their birthing stage and so give birth to the wind. Whatever the case, such do not ‘let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete, wanting nothing’ (James 1:4). Perfection/maturity can only come through patience, because in the waiting, we build a relationship with God. We do not merely transact with Him, like an addict dealing with a dealer would – swift and prompt, till next time. Patience ensures that we do not merely swipe the tips of our hands with God’s as we receive what we want from Him, but that we have clasped hands with Him enough to feel His palpitations to the point that we never let go. It is at this point that we have built a relationship with Him to see that He is the only good thing we have. We then come to a point of saying like Paul, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:11-13). Clearly, patience is learnt, and it is only learnt when one lingers and builds a relationship with God, our ‘Teacher’ (Job 36:22).

When we learn patience, God gives us strength in order to birth out the seed that He deposited in us while we were waiting. Although this seed is unnoticeable to us, when we experience pain and discomfort it is then that we realize that we were with child all along. The question now becomes; Will you give birth or abort? At this point, we are simply not waiting for what we expected, but for what only God knows He planted. Those who in their groaning, writhing, and discomfort turn to God receive additional strength to birth out what has been in them. In their turning to God, they again build a stronger relationship with Him, then God deposits another seed in them, and so the cycle continues. One enters into a relationship with God, and since this relationship never ends, one only discovers different qualities of God in the delivery phases. The more a Believer goes through this process of refinement, the quicker they align with God who asks, ‘Do I bring the moment of birth and not give delivery? Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ (Isaiah 66:9). Surely not!

Nothing can prepare us enough for our delivery seasons, because not all deliveries are the same. We cannot really know what to expect, and so it is only patience in God that sustains us. That is why David notes, I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry . . . Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust’ (Psalm 40:1,4). Our endurance in birthing out the different and many qualities of God is merely to prepare us for the great reveal. Jesus says, ‘A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has comebut when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world’ (John 16:21). He expounds, ‘So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away you joy’ (v22). What seems like waiting for requests is actually God moulding us to know Him deeper so that we can be perfect and entire when He returns ‘in his glory, and all the angels with him’ (Matthew 25:31). In the meantime, God uses every opportunity to teach us that, ‘In your patience, possess ye your souls’ (Luke 21:19). This is because while patience may bring forth what we had asked for, its ultimate goal is that our souls are intact in God.

So, in the delivery room of patience, we wait and endure, because ‘we know that tribulation produces patience; patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope does not disappoint us; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us’ (Romans 5:3-5). Thus, the final goal of patience for a Believer is not just to receive what we ask and desire, but to deliver the ‘fullness’ (Colossians 2:10) of God in us. But those who abort the baby at whatever stage pay for the consequences themselves.

Even the worst of women can learn from your ways. On your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor; I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. Yet in spite of all this you say, ‘I am innocent; his anger shall turn from me.’ But I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned’ ~ Jeremiah 2:33-35

I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger‘ ~ Ezekiel 16:38

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord‘ ~ Psalm 27:14

AUDIO With Christ In The Vessel You Can Smile At The Storm

Biblical vector illustration series, Jesus calms the storm. Peace Be Still

By Rev Bill Woods

When our girls were little they had a record by a little puppet named Marci who sang, “With Christ in the Vessel You can Smile at the Storm. – They played that song over and over, always reminding me that whatever I  faced I needed to be sure that Christ was in the Vessel!

It’s still that way, John 15:5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

If I don’t have Christ in the Vessel when the storm comes, my boat will get swamped.

Luke 8:22-25

22  One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.
23  As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
24  The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!
25  Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Mark tells us this miracle happened on the day Christ encountered the opposition of His friends and enemies.

The day had been full of ceaseless pressures and agonizing responsibilities.                                                                                                      

-A day of physical and mental exhaustion.

Jesus told His disciples to go to the other side of the lake — the eastern shore. – This was 5 to 7 miles from where they were. – As they made their way across the lake — the storm suddenly broke.

That’s a little like Life’s Storms that come to all of us.-  When they hit we must have help from our Lord.  –  Christ doesn’t leave us to face the storm alone — He’s in the storm with us.

  1. THE CRISIS ON THE LAKE (Luke 8:23)

 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

The lake, or Sea of Galilee, is notorious for its storms, which come with shattering and terrifying suddenness.

  • Like some of the storms I saw in Cheyenne (taking my girls to Vedauwoo in our Mini Moke).
  • I’ve seen temperatures drop 60 degrees in an hour.

A storm on the Sea of Galilee is described in Mark 4:37 — But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Luke 8:23 describes the wind and raging waves during this storm — But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

Matthew 8:24 calls it a fierce storm without warning — Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. 

High cliffs overlook the Sea of Galilee and such storms result from differences in temperatures between the seacoast and the mountains beyond.

The Sea of Galilee lies 680 feet below sea level.

It’s surrounded by hills, especially on the east side where they reach 2000 feet high.

These heights are a source of cool, dry air.

In contrast, directly around the sea, the climate is semi-tropical with warm, moist air.

The large difference in height between surrounding land and the sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. – This causes strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills.

The Sea of Galilee is small, and the winds descend directly to the center of the lake with violent results.

 – When the contrasting air masses meet, a storm can come up quickly and  without warning.

Small boats caught out on the sea are in immediate danger.

The Sea of Galilee is relatively shallow, just 200 feet at its greatest depth. – A shallow lake is “whipped up” by wind more rapidly than deep water, where energy is more readily absorbed.

Maybe you’re like those disciples, are caught in a storm today.

Is yours a storm of domestic problems — of war within the family — a divided family? – You’ve said things you can’t take back. – You’ve burned bridges that can never be rebuilt.

There’s anger and resentment and the very atmosphere of your home is charged with cruelty.

That’s a storm in so many homes today.

For others it’s a storm of physical problems—you’ve got a malady that is eating you and you’re frightened by the unknown — the future seems so frightening.

Maybe it’s a storm of doubt — you don’t feel as close to God as you once did and you’re wondering if you even have a relationship with God anymore. – The old truth just doesn’t seem like enough.

Thomas had doubts and fears until he put his fingers in the nail prints. – Maybe you should ask Jesus to show you the nail prints in His hands that  were put there for you.

Some are facing the storm of decision.                                                                                      – You’re at a crossroads and there’s no word from Heaven giving you direction.

The disciples’ minds are in turmoil and they’re fearful as the boat rocks and rolls. – It’s night — they’re in the midst of a terrible storm and Jesus is asleep!

Notice the storm was so severe the ship was being swamped. – These disciples were fishermen, not novices — they’d been through storms   before, but nothing of this magnitude.

They knew the lake — yet here they were in a storm, and their boat was sinking!  – They felt like they were in great danger!

This was a crisis situation!


Luke 8:24 — The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

The boats of the Galilean fishermen were large and hard to handle.                          –  They had one mast and a large 3 cornered sail.

Jesus was probably asleep on a deck like platform when the storm came up.

The disciples woke Jesus and told Him they were going to drown.

Jesus got up and rebuked the raging wind and rough sea.– Immediately the storm ceased!

Jesus demonstrated His power to still the storm.

I think this was another attempt by Satan to kill Jesus before He could redeem us on the cross.

– You rebuke a spirit, not a wind and waves.

Suddenly there was complete calm — a stillness that descended on the lake.

  – Christ’s mastery over the elements and the enemies was complete.

Now the terror that gripped the disciples was gone and peace reigned for them — Jesus had taken care of the problem!

Henry J. Taylor was a famous American journalist who wrote about an experience he had. 

                                                                                                                                         .   – His father was a mine owner and when he was a boy he went with his dad to inspect a new elevator that was being installed in the mine.  

 – Before the proper cage was fitted, someone had to descend down the shaft in a barrel at the end of a rope.

Taylor went down in the barrel with his dad.


 – It was terrifying with the barrel swinging and swaying at the end of the rope, knocking against the sides of the shaft.

Henry’s heart was beating like a trip hammer because he was so terrified, but his father’s strong arm was around him and his dad kept saying, “Don’t be afraid, son.”

At the bottom of the shaft they emerged into a strange, dark, frightening underground world.

A miner warned them to be careful of gas, and that warning made things worse.

The only thing in the whole terrifying ordeal was Henry Taylor’s dad.

– A miner asked Henry, “Aren’t you scared?” – “Well,” Henry answered honestly, “I’d be awfully scared except my father is  with me.”

That’s where I am in this world today.  “I’d be awfully scared except my Father is with me!”


Luke 8:25 — Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

Jesus questioned the disciples about their faith.  – He leaves the impression that the disciples shouldn’t have been terrified.

They should’ve trusted Him.  – He had told them, “Let’s go to the other side of he lake,” Notice he did not. “Let’s go to the middle of the lake and sink like a rock!”

The One who is Lord of history and nature was present in that boat. – Why should they fear?

The disciples were amazed! – They kept asking each other, “Who is this?”

This is a very important question that Luke didn’t want the readers to miss.

This is a nature miracle—different because it showed the Lordship of Christ over man and his world.   Luke 8:25b — “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

It looks like storm-clouds are gathering in the Middle-East that will affect the whole world. – Don’t worry!  Jesus is in our boat with us today too.

Israel is celebrating their 73rd anniversary since being recognized as a nation (May 14, 1948).

  • The Palestinians have tried to destroy them from their beginning.

Israel is under attack from Hamas, backed by the Arab League, (especially Iran) who have dropped hundreds of rockets on Israel in the last few days destroying property and taking lives.

This started when Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and expeditionary forces from Iraq and Iran entered Palestine. The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements.

Muslims of the Arab League have vowed to annihilate Israel:  Egypt, Transjordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and North Yemen.

The Arabs have tried many times to eliminate Israel.  Probably the most famous effort was the 6-day war in 1967, and then again the Yom Kippur war in 1973.  There have been over 14 attempts to destroy Israel since 1948, and each one has miserably failed!

What’s going on is really a Family Feud dating back to the time of Abraham who sired Ishmael from Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant, and then Isaac, the son of Abraham’s wife Sarah.- God had promised Abraham that he’d have a son as his heir. 

Abraham and Sarah were way beyond child bearing age so they decided to help God with His Plan and Sarah gave Abraham her servant Hagar to produce a son.

They should’ve waited for God’s timing to fulfill His Plan–they would’ve saved the whole world a lot of trouble!                                                                                                    – The lesson we should learn is to wait for God’s timing and not run ahead!

The conflict today is because the Arabs, descendants of Ishmael, think the land promised to Abraham should be theirs because Ishmael was actually the oldest son of Abraham.  They also think Mohammed was a descendant of Ishmael.

The Israelites, also descendants of Abraham think the land is theirs because Isaac was the promised seed.  Hence, thousands of years of conflict that will eventually lead to a war that will destroy the world.

The Bible teaches the Battle of Armageddon will take place at the end of the 7 year tribulation period. All the nations of the world will be gathered in an attempt to defeat and destroy the Jews and the city of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel (prophecy fulfilled by President Trump).

The battle of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38-39 will happen at this time. After the armies of the world have defeated half the city of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ returns (Zechariah 14:1-7).

The return of Christ is the Second Coming of Christ (Not to be confused with the Rapture). Revelation 16:14-16 describes these events.

Revelation 19:11-16 says Christ will bring the Armies of heaven with Him, which will include the saints of the ages (Christians) and the angels. All the nations of the world will be there.

Revelation 19:15-16 says Christ will make war against the armies of the world and they’ll be defeated.

Revelation 19:15-16 (NKJV)
15  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Hebrews 13:5-6bFor God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
6  So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Let Jesus still your storms.

Henry J Taylor said, “I’d be awfully scared except my father is with me.”

That’s how I feel about life — I’d be awfully scared except my Father and my God is with me.”

In fact, He’s right here in the vessel!


With Christ in the vessel
We can smile at the storm
Smile at the storm, smile at the storm
With Christ in the vessel
We can smile at the storm
As we go sailing home

Sailing, sailing home
Sailing, sailing home
With Christ in the vessel
We can smile at the storm
As we go sailing home


The updated version of Rev Bill Woods’ book “There Is Still Power In The Blood” will be available soon.

What is God teaching you in your storms?

October 21, 2020 by Dr. Jack Graham

I vividly remember in 2009 when I found myself in a storm like I’d never experienced before. I had received a cancer diagnosis and was unsure of what the future would hold.   

But what I also remember is what a close friend of mine said to me in the midst of my battle… 

“Jack, I’m praying for you… that you will learn everything you need to learn in the midst of this trial in your life.”  

And God was faithful to do just that. As I prayed, “Lord, teach me what you want to teach me,” He stepped into my storm to do something I never expected. You see, while trials are a painful part of life, they serve to strengthen our faith and build our character.  

That’s what the first chapter of the book of James is all about. James writes in verse 2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” 

The picture James is painting is that we’re walking along, everything is going well, and out of nowhere life hits us like a two-by-four with a trial, test, or storm. 

Now I realize that this is exactly where many of us find ourselves today. Toward the beginning of 2020, we lived blissfully ignorant of the trials that were about to hit us. 

And then over the past several months, we’ve been hit hard.   

We’ve seen sickness and death from a global pandemic. We’ve experienced the isolation that comes with sheltering at home. And we’ve lived through one of the most politically and racially charged climates we’ve seen in decades. 

There’s no escaping it – our world is full of pain and suffering. In Romans 8 we’re told that all creation groans in preparation for the birth of the new earth that is coming when Christ returns. 

But on this side of eternity, we will experience suffering, pain, and heartache. 

And still, James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”  Seriously? Why would James say this – a difficult, almost impossible command to follow? 

Scripture answers that question for us in Psalm 16:11. The psalmist writes, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  

All who are in Christ share in His eternal joy, even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. It is a unique promise and privilege for believers and followers of Jesus.

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