Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday Special: Pastor Dave Arnold #11


The late Arthur Ashe, Jr. is a professional tennis legend. As a black growing up in the south, he lived in a black neighborhood, went to black schools, drank from specific water fountains, and rode in the back of city buses. Entering the world of tennis, there had never been a single, top-caliber, black tennis player. The reason: tennis was then the most segregated of sports. Though exceptionally talented, he played only in black American Tennis Association tournaments. His trainer and coach, Dr. Walter Johnson, wanted him to compete in white U.S. Lawn Tennis Association tournaments, because they were the important ones. Though making application time after time, he was often rejected without explanation. Patiently, he would apply again the next year. Years later, in an article for Readers Digest, Arthur wrote, “At times, I got discouraged and wanted to quit tennis, but Dr. Johnson pointed out that one quality of a champion is the ability to endure.” Arthur Ashe, Jr. did persevere, and became one of the outstanding professionals in tennis. He became a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, from 1965 to 1970, and won a long list of titles, including the U.S. Open, Australian Open, and Paris Indoor Open. He refused to “jump ship.”

In Acts, chapters 27 and 28, Luke the historian records Paul’s journey by sea to Rome. Soon after leaving port, they were engulfed in a raging storm for fourteen days and nights. They lost sight of the sun and stars, and had no charts to guide them. The waves were mammoth in size, the passengers were frightened, the hull cracked, and water was pouring in. They were in a terrible situation. Luke says, “And the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship,” but Paul admonished, “Unless these men stay in the ship, they cannot be saved,” 27:30 and 31. What he meant was, “Don’t Jump Ship.”

Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.”

This story, that Luke has recorded for us, gives us several vital lessons about “jumping ship.”


Fear and panic. “Then fearing,” 27:29. In his book, “Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking,” Robert Schuller quotes the words of Dr. Butler of Baylor University, “When things get tough – don’t move. People and pressures shift, but the soil remains the same no matter where you go.” He then adds, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Confusion. “And we were exceedingly tempest-tossed,” 27:18. Vance Havner wrote, “If you get to a place where you don’t know what to do, give God the benefit of the doubt. He will clear the track.”

Impatience. “And when we had sailed slowly many days,” 27:7. It has been stated, “Storms make a strong tree, testings make a strong Christian.” In a certain university, a student was complaining at the length and difficulty of the curriculum, and questioned whether or not it would be possible for him to take a shorter course. “That all depends,” answered the professor, “on what you intend to make of yourself. When God makes an oak He takes a hundred years, but He can make a melon in a few months.” Hebrews 6:12 teaches us that it is “through faith and patience we inherit the promises.”

Discouragement. “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up,” 27:20b. Numbers 21:4 tells us, “And the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.” Billy Graham wrote, “More people fail through discouragement than for any other reason.”

SECOND: THE BEST OF BELIEVERS GO THROUGH STORMS. Paul was in the will of God, traveling in obedience, when the storm struck. In Acts 23:11 we are told, “But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so must you also bear witness at Rome’.” Obedience to God produces storms. Abraham obeyed God, and reached the Promised Land to find a famine. Jacob obeyed God, and found his family turned against him. David obeyed God and hid in caves, because King Saul sought to kill him. Paul obeyed God, and found himself in prison. He stated, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.

THIRD: HUMAN NATURE IS TO RUN FROM THINGS WE DISLIKE. “And the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship,” 27:30. Teens get upset at home, and they leave. Students get bored at school, and they drop out. Marriages fall apart because of difficulties. Remember, seldom is anyone happy who makes a sudden, irrational decision. It is like the girl who said, “No one is going to tell me what to do,” so she got married. Or the young man who complained, “I’m tired of taking orders,” so he joined the Marines. Question: How will you ever get a miracle if you do not stay where you need the miracle? Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Phillip Brooks testified, “I do not pray for a lighter load but a stronger back.”

FOURTH: HALF THE PRESSURE IN STORMS COME NOT FROM THE STORM ITSELF, BUT FROM THE FEELING YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT OF IT. “Now when neither sun nor stars appeared many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up,” 27:20. Remind yourself that every problem has a lifespan, and the darkest hour has only sixty minutes. “For a little while…you have been grieved by various trials,” 1 Peter 1:6.

FIFTH: IT IS USUALLY IN STORMS WE EXAMINE OURSELVES AND FIND THINGS THAT DRAG US DOWN. “And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day we lightened the ship,” 27:18. We seldom deal with overloads in our lives in smooth waters. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1.

SIXTH: STORMS OFTEN DRIVE US INTO NEW AREAS OF MINISTRY AND USEFULNESS. They can work to our advantage. In chapter 27, three times we have the word “driven.” The storm that threatened them drove them to the Island of Malta, where God worked miracles for the natives through the ministry of Paul, chapter 28. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

In the diary of Christopher Columbus we have these words:

“This day we sailed on.

The storms were buffeting the ships.

This day we sailed on.

The Pinta was breaking apart.

This day we sailed on.

There was hunger and darkness.

This day we sailed on.”

They “sailed on,” and opened up a new world for mankind.

Luke ends the story with, “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land,” 27:44b.


Dave Arnold, Pastor – Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Fl.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

Click on the label link for more of my friend, Pastor Dave sure to check out his book, Discipleship Manual, it is a real treasure...