Monday, April 1, 2013

"Stepping Out: To a life on the edge"

by Deb Burma

(Editor's note: I am so happy to be able to print this excerpt from my good friend Deb Burma's just released book, Stepping Out: To a Life on the Edge," based on her keynote speech at the 2011 National LWML Convention. If you would like to order the book, go to Concordia Publishing House, "Stepping Out: To a Life on the Edge"  If you would like to meet Deb Burma and get a personally autographed copy of "Stepping Out", plan to attend the book signing event at Peace Lutheran Church, 2720 28th St., Columbus, NE, on April 14th, from 2:00PM - 4:00 PM. Deb will give a special "stepping out" message (2:00-2:30) and we'll have refreshments and the book signing from 2:30-4:00PM. Books will be available at the special price of $12 for this event only!  
For more information call (402) 750-3496.)

Excerpted from the chapter, “Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone to a Life Filled with New Opportunities”

Fishermen Fishing for Men

Theirs was a lowly occupation, a simple trade. Day after day, they boarded their boats, dragging large fishing nets with them, anticipating their next catch. This day was probably like most. Standing near the shore, preparing their nets, they were probably talking about the weather. Not just idle chit-chat, but important dialog concerning the next catch and the day’s work. Were the skies stormy or clear? Was the water choppy or calm?

Likely, their trade had been handed down from generation to generation. The family business; a way of life. Predictable. Comfortable. Common. They certainly were not nobility, and their lives were far from luxurious, but their simple life was a constant. That is, until one memorable day when Jesus stepped into their world. With perfect purpose and specific intent in every step, Jesus walked along their little portion of the shore of the Sea of Galilee. And as He walked, He called out first to Simon (Peter) and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

Can you picture these fishermen at that moment? Did they stare at each other incredulously, wondering what Jesus’ words meant? With this simple statement, Jesus rocked their world, asking these fishermen to step out of their boats, out of the world they knew, where they fished for fish. And as He did, He asked them to step into the great unknown, where they would fish for people. Did they hesitate? Scripture doesn’t tell us that they did. Mark records that they obeyed; that they abandoned their work and took off after Jesus. The very next verse says, “Immediately [no hesitation!] they left their nets and followed Him” (vs. 1:18). Apparently, James and John were down the shore just a bit, fishing with their father, Zebedee. Again, Jesus called out. Again, there was no hesitation. They left their father, the boat, and the family business. They dropped everything to follow Him.

I am afraid that I would have hesitated. I think I would have asked for clarification, details, an agenda. That is so like me. “Okay, Jesus, but I would like to know a few things first. What is the plan, and where are we going? I’m not sure I am comfortable stepping away from my nets and out into the unknown. And just what do you mean by ‘fishers of men’ anyway? How will this work, exactly?”

These soon-to-be disciples were simply obedient to His call. Even when that meant leaving everything that was comfortable and common to them, even when that meant stepping away from their livelihood and tradition and family. The fact that Jesus chose them at all is amazing in itself. Hardly theologians, not even close to being experts in the Jewish law, they were simple men of trade. And yet He did choose them.

Jesus Steps In

Today, He chooses you and me right where we are. Jesus steps in and says, “Follow me…” He calls us to step out of our collective comfort zones to go where He leads, to be committed – as the first disciples were – to follow Him above all things. While we may remain businesswomen, teachers, homemakers, wives, mothers, and more, we are Christ-followers first.

In our sin, however, some days we hesitate; other days we simply fail to follow altogether. We are not committed. We fail to place Him first. We shrink back and huddle into our nice little comfort zones, content to stay just where we are. But God doesn’t let us stay there, huddled in our zone. He knows we cannot step out on our own, so He comes to us in the midst of our sin.

Through Christ, God forgives us for our hesitation and our failure to follow. He fills us with the Holy Spirit, enabling and empowering us to step out. Because the Holy Spirit has gifted us with faith, we can follow the Lord just as the disciples did – without hesitation, clinging to His every Word, going where He leads, serving each person He places in our path, trying something new, exploring a gift or talent, and reaching out in His name.

Stepping out of our comfort zone and following our Savior to a life on the edge may not require a physical or geographical move on our part. It may not require a step out of America and onto foreign soil. It may not even mean taking a step outside of our community. Maybe our occupations stay the same. Maybe our neighborhoods are the same. And maybe our church home is, too. But our purpose, as Christ reveals it to us with increasing clarity, changes us and permeates every part of our lives. We step out for Him in our workplaces; we courageously cast nets in our neighborhoods; we fish for men and women and children who have yet to meet the Savior; we fish for those who desperately need to know Him and what He has done for them.

The message of grace and salvation Christ shared with His disciples was the same message He led them to share with the world. The disciples’ journey was not an easy one. Each step took them to new people and to different challenges, through many obstacles and into frequent persecution.

Their journey is ours. Oh, sure, today it looks different. The people are different. But challenges are not so different. We also face obstacles in the form of resistance and denial; we may even be persecuted. And Christ’s message of grace and salvation is the very same. In our homes, communities, and places of work, whether we remain in familiar surroundings or make a major move, we serve others and give the Good News of our Savior to them. We may not be theologians or degreed Bible scholars. But simple people like you and me can be emboldened by the Holy Spirit to simply share our faith. And we do so courageously by God’s grace, even when that means overcoming obstacles that may threaten our ability to reach out with His saving love. We are fishers of men!

Stepping out of our comfort zone means yielding our life to Him. It means putting our life in His hands and trusting Him to provide and protect, even as He leads us into uncharted territory. On the back end of the diving board, it seems more comfortable to attempt to retain complete control over our lives (as if that were possible). But out there on the edge, it is incredibly freeing to just let go and let the Lord take over. He gave up His life for us. In response, we can drop everything to place Him first and follow Him. And we pray that others might see our lives yielded to Christ and be drawn to Him as a result.
Read more by Deb at Fragrant Offerings

A is for...Anxieties

By Shelly Burke

“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:1
What are you anxious about today?
·              Finances?
·              A troubled relationship with your spouse or child?
·              Your job?
·              World events that seem to be spiraling out of control?
·              Test results (whether a test as part of a class, or a medical test)?
·              The economy?
                                                      ·              Your future?

Our day-to-day lives are packed with potentially anxiety-producing events and happenings. If we start looking into the future, with the uncertainty of world events—unrest in the Middle East, financial crises in Europe, massacres in Africa—we could, literally, worry ourselves sick.

Anxiety can cause:
·              Sleepless nights
·              Eating too much or too little
·              Inertia—the inability to move or get necessary tasks completed

More important than physical reactions, however, excessive anxiety can cause you to miss:
·              A beautiful sunset
·              A quiet moment with your spouse
·              A hug from your kids
·              A walk on a balmy spring day
·              The endless blessing God gives us every day of our lives!

God does not want us to be anxious; he wants us to enjoy our lives!

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6

So what can you do to combat the anxiety in your life?
·              Read a “Good Word”—His word! Copy verses about anxiety and worry onto notecards, and put those cards where you’ll see them every day—the mirror in your bathroom or on your refrigerator.
·              Pray! Tell God your anxieties (or write them down) and ask Him to take them away. Then…let them go. Shred the piece of paper, if you wrote them down…God has them now.
·              Give thanks! When you start listing the things you have to be thankful for, you’ll immediately see how God is taking care of you and your family.
·              Do something for someone else; it will take your focus off of your worries  and is guaranteed to cheer you up.

Lord, thank You for all the blessings you have given me. I know that You are taking care of me; please take away my anxieties so I can enjoy You and the blessings of every day. Amen.
Would you like a FREE “Casting Cares” verse card, like the one shown at the top of this page? 
If so, e-mail your address to and
 I will get it in the mail to you!

I’m also blogging at Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide Today, read
Suggestions for teaching kids about the “Armor of God.”