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February 08, 2016

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From what I understand, "Clear the Decks!" is a naval command. To clear the ship decks of all that's unnecessary prepares the ship for engagement in battle or an approaching storm.

A few years ago, one of The Journey elders, Robert Garland, decided to "clear the decks." Robert was in Vietnam, fighting in a Marine platoon, so he's been aboard Navy ships and knows the command to clear the decks. He's entered into battle and knows that only the essential needs carried when you are packing into the jungle.

Over the years, like many of us, Robert Garland became a movie buff and with the advent of cable and satellite, a TV addict, by his own admission. So he decided to go on a TV fast for a given time. In the hours of time he had all of the sudden "discovered," he prayed, read the Bible, other books, enjoyed hobbies like gardening and landscaping, and hosted family and friends in his home with his wife, Karen.

Robert did not know when he began this TV fast that he would be preparing himself for a specific battle and storm ahead. But clearly he had heard the commander's intent to "Clear the Decks!" Over the next two years, Robert faced some of the most difficult adversities in his personal, work, and church life. 

Having watched what happened in Robert's life during this time, I can say with some measure of confidence that, had Robert not prepared himself spiritually, physically, and mentally for the battles and challenges ahead with this "clear the decks" activity, he may have gotten taken out in those battles. 

As it was, Robert weathered those storms not as much as a Marine -- once a Marine, always a Marine, right? -- but as a disciple who is, as Martin Luther used the phrase (translated), "always revising." 

Robert has been a friend to me during those difficult years he faced, and some of those storms I weathered with him. The church and some personal storms were weather pouring down on both of our heads, so together we prayed and sought God's wisdom and courage to face those times.

As we approach what Christians have long called Ash Wednesday, use today and Tuesday as a time to "clear the decks" of all the unnecessary baggage that's going to hold you down in this journey we're embarking on together. 

Does your house need to be cleaned? Do you need to find a Bible, maybe dusty on the shelf or even misplaced for many months? Do you need to shop for some special food to eat on a fast from a specific food such as sugar or meat? Is there a journal book you'd like to buy or find in your house to get ready for the 40 days of Christian training from Ash Wednesday to Easter? Clear the Decks Monday is a great day to do these things! 

Clear the Decks!!