Riverside Community Church

We Need God

A true story of an unexplored place.

Ferdinand Magellan had been commissioned by the King of Spain, Charles V, in 1520, to find the passage way around the southern tip of South America, Cape Horn, to what was called ‘Mar del Sur’, the south pacific. From there to sail west to the Spice Islands, Indonesia. Ferdinand had been to Spice Islands before but only from sailing from the east around the southern tip of Africa, Cape of Good Hope.

He was given 3 ships, good crews, maps and charts which were guesstimates at best of this unexplored / unknown ocean and of course provisions. But he had a compass and he knew the North Star in the sky.

No one had done this before, just some fragmented attempted trip information was known. But this was about to change.

         He searched for 4 months before he found a west opening in the coastline of southern South America, Cape Horn, and for 38 days sailed west through the most hair-raising, hellish passageway known to man. No charts with routes, no depth charts including shallows, shoals or islands. The constant storm of wind, currents and waves constantly buffeted them and impeded attempts to navigate especially at night.


Only Magellan’s iron will and deft sailing skills kept the crews alive and when they finally broke through into the ‘Mar de Sur’ the South Pacific, Ferdinand wept. Tears of joy over a hard, life threatening adventure realized and joyful tears of the new adventure ahead, the western passageway to the Orient. Magellan wept, the men sang hymns and fired their cannons on November 28, 1520 but they didn’t know that the worst of the journey lay before them in the unchartered, unknown waters.

         The charts Magellan received guessed that in a 100 miles they would reach the Spice Islands, a week long journey, maybe. What a tragic miscalculation, at the time latitude was able to be measured but not longitude. That was a very unpleasant problem. They encountered no storms as they sailed neither did they encounter land. The charts were wrong, deadly wrong. After six weeks past Cape Horn men began to die, supplies became desperate.

         Let me read some of the account to you:

“Such food as the three ships carried began to rot under the tropical soggy airs. The penguins and seals they had killed and salted in Patagonia started to turn putrid; maggots raged through out the ships, eating clothes and supplies and rigging; water supplies turned scummy and rank. Men began to develop the classic symptoms of scurvy: their teeth loosened, their breathed soured, huge boils erupted from their sunken frames, they sank into inconsolable melancholia.


         It got worse, the crew ate rats, ox hides soaked in sea water and finally they ate sawdust. In a fit of rage Magellan threw all the charts given him overboard, useless charts in an unexplored ocean, actually dangerous maps because it was a changing world.

         On March 6, 1521 they reached Guam, by the time the journey was over only 18 of the 238 men survived. Magellan died himself when he was caught in the middle of a tribal war in the Philippines.


Our modern world resembles a vast, unchartered ocean. We are no longer in familiar territory. Huge changes are sweeping across our world and these changes have made our maps and charts obsolete. We have never been here before. A fundamental fact of life in the third millennium is that nothing is as prominent as change.

A major shift has taken place in our culture, radically redefining concepts of truth, morality and spirituality. Public opinion is no longer shaped by Judeo-Christian values. Tolerance reigns supreme and relativism is the only absolute.

Bewildered, frustrated, lost and confused people, Christians, are in the midst of this rapidly changing, unpredictable world, it’s happening. It’s here and upon YOU.


 In this next series of 14 messages entitled, Discovering God’s way in a changing world, you will find tools and skills that can help you navigate this precarious world of the twenty-first century. But today my sole purpose is not just to introduce this to you but to convince you that you need God’s direction now and in the future and that you desperately need it. That the unknown ocean of culture, modern thought, relativism, tolerance, pseudo spirituality is worse than you know or think. This unchartered water is about to drown, consume and overtake many who sail her waters, which is everybody in this room and everybody you know.


FIRST here are three verses to burn into your hearts


Psalm 139:3 Living Bible (TLB)

3 You (God) chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.


Psalm 32:8 Living Bible (TLB)

8 I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide (give you a map) you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.


Jeremiah 29:11 Living Bible (TLB)

11 For I know the plans (the route) I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.


         The image will never leave our minds, the news and picture of the plane that flew into New York’s World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. But then another plane struck the towers and then an attack on the Pentagon itself and finally a fourth attack was thwarted.

         As we watched the events unfold we were stunned, bewildered, angry and confused especially as we watched the towers fall. Ground Zero was created and the landscape changed forever. In an act of incomprehensible evil 1000’s of people lives were cut short, families torn apart and it seems everything changed, turned the corner, all around the world.

         Suddenly leaders faced situations where there were no contingency plans, no emergency plans for this kind of violence. The situation became more and more complicated as rumors ran rampant, Anthrax was laced into mail and there were no maps, plans or previously designated scenarios to follow. We were now in unchartered territory. Our culture changed, our society changed.


         When Senator Moyihan retired from his New York position he was asked what was the biggest change in his forty years of public service. He thoughtfully replied; “The biggest change, in my judgement, is that family structure has come apart all over the Atlantic world. It has happened, in an historical instant. Something that was not imaginable 40 years ago.”


I do believe that the rift and shift in family structure and the massive swing toward pluralism (more than 1 logic) and relativism (truth relates only to culture not absolutes) thinking has undermined our understanding of truth, spiritual reality and moral values.


YOU SAY: Yea, I’m right in the middle of all of this thinking change and culture change, what can I do?


Listen again:

Psalm 139:3 Living Bible (TLB)

3 You (God) chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.


I recently read the true story of a teacher returning to the classroom after a 20 years absence from teaching. She was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, how should she begin with this 7th grade? She thought, I’ll just say like I’ve always said “Good Morning students” and they should reply “Good morning Mrs. Jones”

         So the morning she started she went to the chalk board and wrote her name on it, turned around and said “Good morning students”. A loud voice in the front row responded “Shut up B…_” and the class erupted in laughter.


YOU SAY: Yea, I can see that happening. Me, too, I can see that happening and I’m shocked and fearful as to where we’re heading. What can I do, what can you do in this changing world?


Know this:

Psalm 32:8 Living Bible (TLB)

8 I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide (give you a map) you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.


         This week, I was listening to a New York pastor speak on the growing darkness and changes coming over society, this changing landscape and this new unexplored ocean we’re in. To my surprise he mentioned as proof an Ontario law introduced last year, 2019. THAT -If your eight year boy decides that he wants to be a girl and go to school in a dress and you refuse him, then the government can intervene.


         Society has changed since I was young, I have seen it with my own eyes. Western culture has profoundly changed, a major culture shift has taken place in your lifetime, radically redefining concepts of truth, morality and spiritualty. We are living in a postmodern world and the Christian conscience has been displaced, Christian values are no longer operative.

-diversity rules, tolerance is supreme

-truth is relative to you, you decide what is true, there are no absolutes

-sexual morality has given way to sexual preferences

-the family has been replaced by a bewildering variety of families

-out-of-wedlock births have soared along with absentee fathers

-religion is out, spirituality is in, (spirituality is a journey into one’s inner self or personal truth which makes the living God irrelevant)


We are living, right now, in a new ocean, an unchartered sea.

YOU SAY: how can I navigate my life in this unmapped ocean which has so many dangers?


Listen again to words of a prophet, Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:11 Living Bible (TLB)

11 For I know the plans (the route, the way) I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.


How we need God, desperately, urgently, greatly. We need God to guide, map out, chart out, yes and even be the pilot of our ship. Over the next 14 Sundays we will discover God’s way in a changing world, each week a different navigational tool that God gives us, and we need each and every tool, desperately.


We are living in unchartered territory, the familiar land marks have vanished, the old cultural maps are outdated. We need navigational tools from God to make our way through this fluid, complex, fast-changing ocean.

I am asking each of you to commit to three things:

First, believe we are in new, unchartered territory, we never been this way before

Secondly, that you need God, need God’s help to sail life’s ocean in 2020,

Thirdly, that each week, each topic we introduce as a navigational tool from God, that you will embrace it fully and commit to it. I realize, you don’t even know what they are except they will be from God and by embracing them it may cost you, but it will save you much pain.  I’m asking you to embrace God’s truth.