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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Filtering by Tag: walking on water

You gotta see this view!


This past week, Traci and I took her parents to see the massive ice blocks on Lake Michigan. The view is hard to describe, but imagine that God has a giant box of building blocks all made out of ice, and that he took that box and dumped it over the 22,394 square miles of Lake Michigan. Of course, if they are God’s building blocks, they are HUGE blocks, and that’s what we took Traci’s parents to see. The amazing ice formations are drawing national attention again (something similar happened last year) and everyone in the area is talking about them. So on a beautiful and sunny Friday afternoon, you’d think the place would be packed. Instead, in the main area of ice block where we visited, I don’t think I saw a dozen people spread out over the miles of ice we could see. Why would so few people get out to the ice?

I have a thought: because it’s so hard to get to them!

It's hard to believe these are "natural" occurrences!

When we parked our van and stepped out into the 20 degree winter air, I warned my in-laws that the wind on the Lake would be significant. We had bundled up before we left the house, but Traci and I started putting on our gloves, cinching down our hats, zipping up coats to the chin and generally preparing for Winter-geddon. I think my in-laws thought we were a little crazy, because where we were standing was actually pleasant. With a 20-degree temp (18 degrees warmer than the previous day’s high!), the sun shining and the breeze just gently blowing, it was hard to imagine that when we stepped out of the tree line, about 100 yards away, we’d be slapped by Old Man Winter!

Then we took the first step onto the shoreline and the wind smacked us from the south. It stung, and we had just stepped on the frozen sand! 30 feet later we were on the frozen waters of Lake Michigan and now we were fully exposed to the gusting wind. And that was only half the problem, because now we were walking in 6-8” snow drifts that were covering the very uneven ice on the shallower parts of the Lake.

It's hard to believe we're standing ON Lake Michigan, on a section of water that is over 100' deep.

While we could see God’s giant ice block collection in front of us, we had to cover a 1/3 mile of this uneven frozen ground to get there! (Basically, think of a small wave rolling into shore, and then freezing while it’s still in wave form, or as it crashes on another wave or on the shore. That’s what the surface of the lake is like in the parts closer to shore that you have to cross in order to get to God’s ice blocks.) About half way out, the wind picked up its intensity and the ground became increasingly difficult to walk on. I’ve never been drunk, but I imagine I looked like a drunk man stumbling around looking for my lost car!

After about 20 minutes of walking/hiking/stumbling we arrived at these beautiful ice structures. The actual view is hard to put into words, and the pictures we took don’t do it justice. The whole area looked like NY City after Godzilla destroyed all the buildings and uprooted the roads. There wasn’t a piece of level ground as far as the eye could see. Ice blocks, the shape and size of airplane wings, stuck out all over. A giant round column, (it looked like God put water in a bucket, froze it, and then tipped it over) probably 10-12’ tall, stood a hundred feet from us. Rectangles, Triangles and just tons of leftover ice parts were strewn about. You could climb up 6-7’ up one ice chunk, and descend 8’ into a little “cave” below it. The whole time you had to keep reminding yourself that you’re standing a 1/2 mile ON Lake Michigan, which has an average depth of 279 feet!!

The ice on Lake Michigan has drawn national attention, and everyone in the area is talking about it. But not many people are actually visiting this Winter Wonder! I’m a little shocked because this isn’t an annual event (although it has happened each of the last two winters), and missing out on it this year could mean missing out for another 20-30 years.

Here are a few thoughts.

  1. The journey is hard, so people settle for the stories of others: Truth is, it wasn’t easy getting out to the ice. The wind was bitterly cold and blisteringly sharp. Walking through the 6-8” snow drifts that covered treacherously uneven ice was hard. More than once I thought I was about to bite it on the ice. Twice we came across open expanses of ice that were clear, and looked straight into the water, giving the sense that it was fragile. (Strangely, there was more comfort in walking on snow-covered ice!) In the same way, so much of what most of us want in life is “out there” and requires a difficult journey to find. How many times have you talked about your future, your dreams, your God-given passions, but when you looked at the journey from here to there, you just settled for the stories of others?
  2. All four of us are glad we made the trek out to ice!

    The destination is so far away, people wonder if it’s really worth it: We could see the ice blocks from the shore, and they already looked impressive. Could the view really be that much better from up close? When the wind slapped us with negative zero wind chills, the distant view seemed like it would be sufficient. Our God-given dreams can have the same appeal, we can let ourselves believe that the view of them from far away will be just as good as the view from directly beneath or over them. It’s like living thru a northern Michigan winter and studying pictures of Hawaii to get your vitamin D fix -- the pictures are great, but there’s nothing like the real thing!

  3. The horror stories of others can keep us in the car: Tons of people talk about how great the ice formations are, and just as many talk about the dangers. News stories of people nearly falling through the ice or slipping into a frozen tomb frequent the local broadcasts and newspapers. Let’s remember, we’re talking about walking on a massive body of water that has a larger area than 9 states and The District, and is just barely smaller than West Virginia! Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people who have chased their God-sized dreams, too. People who have been wrongfully accused, have lost friends, have ended financially ruined because of their pursuit of what they believed God had put in their hearts. They really believed they were following God’s plans, but the outcome was, at least from our finite human perspective, a total loss. The failures of others can keep our own dreams grounded.
  4. Ultimately, getting out on the ice requires quite a bit of work: To walk out on Lake Michigan, you really have to prep. First of all, you have to wait for the right conditions, and the right conditions that can freeze a lake the size of West Virginia involve ultra-freezing temps! You have to own the right gear, you have to know where to research to find the right access points and you have to be willing to drive some less-than-desirable roads to get to a place where you can actually walk on the lake. In the same way, chasing the passions God has given you requires prep, research, patience and a willingness to venture into unchartered (or rarely chartered) waters. The journey is hard (point #1), but preparation for the journey has its own challenges, too.

I’m glad we made the trip to see God’s ice blocks this week. I’m confident we won’t soon forget the amazing formations, and we have a fun story to share with our kids and with others. Even more, I’m glad we’re headed to our next great adventure with God. The journey is hard, but we’re not going to settle for the stories of others. The destination seems like it’s a lifetime away, but we know it will be worth it! The road of faith is littered with stories of those who didn’t get to see their dreams fulfilled in this life, but our our faith is helping us overcome our fears. And yes, it has been a lot of hard work -- and yes, more hard work is in the future -- but being ready when the call comes is worth the work!

What about you? Are you settling for the stories of others? Are you questioning the value of God’s dreams for you? Have you let the horror stories or fears of others derail you? Has the hard work of preparation been overwhelming? “‘I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). Will you trust His plans for you today? “Trust me” God is saying to you, “you’ve gotta see this view!”

Go ahead and take the plunge, the view is always better on the water!

God loves a grand entrance!


I read a book by Mark Batterson this past year. Actually, I’ve read the book a couple of times, and finished it up again toward the end of 2014. In the book, Batterson has this great line about God’s timing. He talks about how God loves to make a grand entrance into our lives, showing up in “just the nick of time...” in order to display His grace, His power and His divine sense of timing. When it comes to our struggles and questions, we usually have a vastly different timeline than God does. We want answers now, we want His provision well-ahead of time, and we usually want miracles in our timing, not His. God sees the big picture, though, and He knows the exact best moment to provide, bless, answer or show up. So as Batterson writes, “Rarely is God early...but He is NEVER late!”

Have you ever found yourself in God’s waiting room? Have you walked thru a health difficulty and wondered if God would step in? Maybe you’re going thru a job change like Traci and I are right now, and you’re wondering how to pay the bills or find a place to live when you don’t have any income? Are you experiencing heartache in your marriage right now, and you’re asking God to step in and “fix” it? Do you have a child that’s making some really poor decisions? Are you worried about your education, wanting God to intervene as you look to the future? Is your job situation lousy and do you find yourself asking God to give you another option so you can leave? Do you have more going out then coming in to your checkbook each month?

We’ve all been there at one time or another, waiting on God to show up and do His thing. Waiting for Him to intervene in our lives and to take a hurt and mend it, turn a wrong into a right or just plain help out when we don’t know where to turn next. I’m there right now, asking Him to clearly reveal the next step in our lives as Traci and I embark on this unexpected new chapter in our lives.

This one thing I know while I wait: God loves a grand entrance.

Overboard Ministries was forged out of a message I prepared for camp, from Matthew 14. After Jesus has preached an all-day message and performed a miraculous feeding of over 5,000 people, he ends the long day by dismissing the crowds, sending his 12 disciples home on a boat, and then heads up a hillside to spend some time praying to the Father.

While He is up there, and while the disciples are lazily crossing the Sea of Galilee, a storm comes charging over the top of the mountains and crashes hard on the water. A reasonably tranquil trip is suddenly thrown into chaos and the 12 disciples become fairly concerned about their own safety.

Think about how God could have handled this:

  1. He could have prevented the storm from the beginning.
  2. He could have stopped the storm shortly after it formed.
  3. He could have made the disciples fall into a deep sleep, and slept through the storm.
  4. He could have teleported them to the shore and boycotted the storm all together.
  5. He could have provided better seats, in-boat food service and a large bucket of ice cream.

Instead, what does God do? He sends His Son to make a rather grand entrance!

When Jesus finishes praying on top of the hill side, He heads down to the water and takes a stroll across the lake to see how the boys are doing. In John’s Gospel we find out that He actually wasn’t going to visit the boys in the boat, He was walking to the other side to meet them at the shore. Suddenly the disciples see a figure walking on the water and their night has just gone from bad to worse, because now there is a ghost walking on the turbulent lake!

Matthew 14 says they “cried out in fear” [translation: screamed like little girls!] believing the end was in sight.

And isn’t that where we sometimes find ourselves? We look around at our circumstances, the storms in our lives are raging at full scale, nothing seems to be going our way, and we’re fairly certain that we’re at the end. We cry out in fear. You ever been there? Are you living there now? Are you living at that point where you’ve hit the end of your rope and you feel like there is nothing left to do but cry out in fear/anger/disappointment/confusion and hold on for dear life?

Suddenly God makes a grand entrance into the Matthew 14 story as Jesus reveals Himself. Peter miraculously walks with Him on water. Jesus calms the storm. He climbs in the boat and then takes it to the other side of the lake. Life continues with the dawn of the next morning.

Hands of GodIf you’re in one of those seasons right now, let me encourage you to keep your faith rooted in the One who loves to make a grand entrance. Let me encourage you to trust the One who says, “All things work together for good, to those who love [me]...” and is quoted as saying, “[I] will supply all your needs according to [my] riches in glory...” and was even once quoted with these words, “[I] can do anything you know, fare more than you could ever imagine, guess or request in your wildest dreams...”

Believe me, I wish God would more frequently show up early (according to my schedule)! But when everything is said and done, I’m always glad He showed up on His schedule because I know, that He knows, the very best timing for me -- the time/place where my faith will be extended, my character will be forged and where I will become more of the man He wants me to be, better prepared for what He wants me to do.

I’m learning to trust Him more and more each day, even as I’m awaiting His grand entrance onto the stage of my story. If you’re in a pinch today, will you reaffirm your trust of God and His timing in your life? Will you pray like crazy for answers/money/miracles/jobs/children/spouse/health but be willing to wait for God to answer on His schedule? It’s not an easy task but the future will be best after God makes His grand entrance!

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

New blog...take 2


A few years back I had a regular blog rolling. I was faithfully putting up new posts (at least annually, sometimes monthly, and for a short season -- 7 days -- weekly) and starting to attract a small following (my mom, wife and almost two or minus two). Then something tragic happened. I took a vacation, I didn't blog the entire time I was gone, and the next time I logged in, 12  months had passed. 12 months?! I discovered what few before me had known: 12 months between posts kills your following, even one has substantial as mine. My own mother wouldn't check back in.

Today I'm turning over a new blog-shaped leaf. I will use this site to update my readers (come on mom...give me another chance!) with the latest information from Overboard Ministries. Overboard Ministries represents the heartbeat that my wife and I try to live by. It comes from a story in Matthew 14 where Jesus is out walking on the water. Peter and the other eleven disciples are in a boat when Jesus comes strolling by and Peter says, "If it's you, tell me to come to you on the water". Jesus confirms his identity and Pete is the only other human being in history to walk on water (sorry folks, Chris Angel's water walking was just a trick!).

As the story goes on, Peter looks around at the wind and waves surrounding him and he loses faith -- he sinks. Jesus saves Peter and when the two get safely into the boat, Jesus rebukes him for taking his eyes off of Christ and putting them onto the storm. Most of the time when I've heard sermons, read commentaries and listened to people speak about this, they focus on Peter's failure. Obviously that's a big part of the story. But I like to remember that PETER WALKED ON WATER! Jesus' rebuke was a reminder that with faith in Him, Peter could accomplish anything and Ol' Pete got a small glimpse of that while walking on water during a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee.

However, it's not Peter that's the focus of Overboard Ministries; it's the other eleven men still in the boat. They sat and watched Peter walk on water while they themselves stayed where life was -- at least for that moment -- comfortable. They knew the boat. They trusted the boat. They felt secure with their friends who were also in the boat. But Jesus wasn't in the boat.

Overboard Ministries exists to help people live their God-designed life out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the waters where Jesus is building His Kingdom. I hope that this blog will serve as a mouthpiece for that message and that through the ramblings, information and general musings of this site, you also my grab the sides of the boat and jump out in faith. You will learn about great resources from Overboard ministries including authors, books, speakers, teachers, curriculum, artists, blogs, musicians, performers, preachers and anyone or anything else that helps promote the Overboard life.

Make sure you subscribe so that you can receive notices when updates occur. If things go well, that should be more than once every 12 months. [polldaddy poll=5113434]