If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat: A 6-Session Journey on Learning to Trust God

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Based on John Ortberg's award-winning best-seller.

You're One Step Away from the Adventure of Your Life

'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.'
—Simon Peter

Peter may have been the first one out of the boat, but Jesus' invitation to walk on water is for us all. But walk on water? What does...

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If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

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Based on John Ortberg's award-winning best-seller.

You're One Step Away from the Adventure of Your Life

'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.'
—Simon Peter

Peter may have been the first one out of the boat, but Jesus' invitation to walk on water is for us all. But walk on water? What does that mean?

Walking on water means
-facing our fears and choosing not to let fear have the last word
-discovering and embracing the unique calling of God on our lives
-experiencing the power of God to accomplish what we would not be capable of doing on our own

This ZondervanGroupware helps you and your group answer Christ's call to greater faith, power-filled deeds, and a new way of knowing him. Relating the story in Matthew 14 to life today, teacher and best-selling author John Ortberg invites you to consider the incredible potential that awaits you outside your comfort zones. Out on the risky waters of faith, Jesus is waiting to meet you in ways that will change you forever, deepening your character and your trust in God. These six remarkable, interactive sessions will teach you how to discern God's call, transcend fear, risk faith, manage failure, and trust God.

What dormant gifts and dreams does God want to revive? What new visions does he want to kindle? What practical acts of obedience does he want to challenge you with? Discover the possibilities! Get to know Jesus as only a water-walker can, aligning yourselves with God's purposes for your lives. There's just one requirement:

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

Sessions include:

1.What's Water-Walking?
2.The Tragedy of the Unopened Gift
3.Find Your Calling and Get Your Feet Wet!
4.Facing Our Challenges, Conquering Our Fears
5.Good News for Cave Dwellers
6.Learning to Wait on Our Big God

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat kit includes:
1 — 90-minute VHS and DVD—use either format
1 — Leader's guide*
1 — Participant's guide*
1 — If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat hardcover book*
*Also sold separately

ZondervanGroupware™ delivers personal spiritual growth through:
-compelling biblical content
-minimal preparation time for both leader and participant
-proven learning techniques using individual participant's guides and a variety of media
-meaningful interaction in groups of any size, in any setting

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Singer, speaker and author Walsh (Stories from the River of Mercy) tenderly gives voice to the unspeakable fears and sorrows that consume even the most stalwart Christians. Walsh advocates bravely confronting the demons of the unknown by opposing fears with faith in the unchanging, dependable character of a God who promises to meet every need. In the midst of fearful emotional and mental wandering, Walsh asserts, searching for reasons for life's tragedies can only compound one's miseries. She suggests a different track for achieving and maintaining courageous peace, by honestly exposing innate human frailties. Then, she says, Christians can surrender to God's plan as the jumping-off place to genuine fearless living. This book's titular premise to live fearlessly is discussed through three converging paths: truth-telling, fear-facing and soulful peace gained by relinquishment. Walsh challenges readers to let go of the illusion of control, embracing God's wisdom through uncertainty and finding freedom in a plan beyond understanding. Through her speaking role with the Women of Faith conferences, Walsh has conversed with many women who have suffered deep pain, and she skillfully recounts their poignant stories of freedom from fear. Walsh says that such stories challenge her to live life with a similar bold trust in God's sovereignty and provision. The author's generous and humorous personal experiences bring balance to an otherwise heavy subject. Walsh's call to a faith-based journey toward courage will inspire Christians to free themselves from fear. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310250531
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Edition description: PACKAGE
  • Product dimensions: 9.84 (w) x 12.56 (h) x 3.32 (d)

Meet the Author

John Ortberg is a pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box; The Life You've Always Wanted; and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. He and his wife Nancy, have three children.

John Ortberg es pastor de la iglesia Presbiteriana de Menlo Park en la ciudad de Menlo Park, California. Es el autor de los exitos de venta: Dios esta mas cerca de lo que crees, La vida que siempre has querido, Todos son normales hasta que los conoces, Si quieres caminar sobre las aguas, tienes que salir de la barca, y Un amor mas alla de la razon. el y su esposa, Nancy, tienen tres hijos.

Stephen and Amanda Sorenson are founders of Sorenson Communications and have co-written many small group curriculum guidebooks, including the entire Faith Lessons series.

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Read an Excerpt

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide

A 6-Session Journey on Learning to Trust God

By John Ortberg Zondervan
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0310250560


Chapter One What's Water-Walking? Session One There is something-Someone-inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more.... There is something inside you that wants to walk on the water-to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God. -John Ortberg Questions to Think About 1. What kinds of things do you trust in, especially when life gets stormy, that help you feel comfortable and secure rather than fearful? Be honest! 2. Explain why you do or do not believe that God calls everyone who follows him to step out in faith and do something extraordinary. What does "stepping out in faith" look like? 3. How would you define failure? 4. Thus far in life, what has been your experience with failure? What has failure kept you from doing? What has failure done for you? Video Observations Images of a balloon ride Following Jesus: choosing between comfort and growth Did Peter fail-or succeed? Discovering the power of Jesus Video Highlights 1. When John Ortberg and his wife took their hot-air balloon ride, the competence of their pilot became very important to them. Why is it so important for us to know thecompetence and trustworthiness of whoever pilots our lives? 2. Jesus invited Peter to step out of the boat and walk with him-to do something Peter could not do on his own-and Peter couldn't resist the opportunity. Jesus is still looking for people who love and trust him enough to step out of the boat. What do you find intriguing about stepping out of the boat? 3. What are your thoughts on John Ortberg's comments about failure, particularly that failure has more to do with the way we view the outcome of an event than what actually happened? Large Group Exploration An Adventure in the Dark Let's take a closer look at what happened when Jesus revealed himself to his disciples as they sailed across the stormy Sea of Galilee, because that event matters a great deal to us today. We too have the opportunity to walk with Jesus in places we wouldn't dream of going on our own. Like each of the disciples, we must choose how we will respond to God. Will we sit in the boat, like the eleven disciples? Or will we, like Peter, leave the security of the boat and give God the opportunity to use us in extraordinary ways? 1. When Jesus told the disciples to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee without him, they obeyed. But what happened as they sailed? (See Matthew 14:22-26; Mark 6:45-50.) 2. What did Jesus say to them, and why is this significant today? (See Matthew 14:27.) 3. From Peter's perspective, recap what happened after Jesus told the disciples who he was. What is significant about Peter's response to Jesus? (See Matthew 14:28-32.) 4. What impact did this event have on the disciples? (See Matthew 14:33; Mark 6:51.) 5. What impact do you think this event had on Peter? Who Deserves the Credit? It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena ... who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt Highlights from the History of Water-Walking For a very long time God has been in the business of inviting people to be water-walkers. Here are a few examples to consider: Person Water-Walking The Result Invitation Abraham Sacrifice his son Isaac. God honored Abraham's (See Genesis 22.) faith and provided a ram for the sacrifice. Moses Lead the Israelites out of God parted the Red Sea, Egypt, which meant allowing the Israelites to crossing the Red Sea cross on dry land, then with the Egyptian army drowned the Egyptian in hot pursuit. (See army. Exodus 3:7-10 and chapter 14.) Joshua Lead the Israelites across As soon as the priests' the flooded Jordan River feet touched the water with the ark of the of the Jordan River, it covenant carried by the stopped flowing and the priests at the front of the people crossed on dry people. (See Joshua 3.) land. Joshua Instead of going into God made the wall of battle, the Israelites were Jericho fall down so that to march around the the Israelites could overtake walled city of Jericho the city-the first with the ark of the key barrier to entering covenant for six days, the Promised Land. then march around the city seven times on the seventh day and blow horns and shout when the trumpet sounded. (See Joshua 6.) Twelve spies Believe that despite the Ten of them refused to frightening obstacles in believe God and his Canaan, God would be promises and perished faithful to give the in the wilderness. Israelites the Promised Land and all of its goodness. (See Numbers 13-14.) Rich young ruler Give up his material He refused and went possessions and follow away saddened. We do Jesus. (See Matthew not know what took 19:16-22.) place in his life. Small Group Exploration Topic A Where Do We Place Our Trust When We Are Afraid? God knows how fearful we are, and he sometimes uses uncomfortable, real-world challenges to cause us to choose where we will place our trust. John Ortberg explains it this way: "The decision to grow [spiritually] always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life." Let's explore what God says about fear and choosing where we place our trust. 1. What happens when we place our trust in "boats" of our own making instead of placing our trust in God? (See Psalm 49:1-13.) 2. What did David realize about finding security in God rather than in things? (See Psalm 20:6-7; 118:6-9.) 3. What do the following verses reveal about God? a. Psalm 18:1-3 b. Psalm 56:3-4 c. Jeremiah 17:7-8 4. What has God said to his people over and over again, and why do you think he repeated it? (See Genesis 15:1; 21:17; Joshua 8:1; Daniel 10:12.) Topic B What Happened When These People Got Out of Their Boats? The Bible records the stories of many people who had to choose whether to trust God and step out in faith. Let's explore what happened to two men who, like Peter, decided to trust God and leave behind the security, comfort, and safety they had tried to provide for themselves. Moses 1. What happened when Moses-the adopted son of the Pharaoh's daughter-took matters into his own hands when he saw an Israelite being mistreated by an Egyptian? (See Exodus 2:10-15; 3:1.) 2. How did God appear to Moses, and what did he want Moses to do? (See Exodus 3:1-4, 9-10.) 3. How did Moses respond when God presented the invitation to step out of the boat? (See Exodus 3:11-13; 4:13.) 4. Finally Moses took the plunge and returned to Egypt to urge Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. What happened as a result of God's power and the shepherd's water-walking obedience? (See Exodus 12:31-37.) Gideon 5. Where was Gideon trying to find comfort and safety when God approached him? (See Judges 6:11.) 6. Gideon was afraid to take the challenge the angel of the Lord presented to him. How did God respond to his fears? (See Judges 6:12-18; 7:9-15.) 7. How did God use this "insignificant" farmer who finally decided to obey and trust him? (See Judges 7:16-24.) The Pluses of Water-Walking It is the only way to real growth. It is the way true faith develops. It is the alternative to boredom and stagnation. It is part of discovering and obeying our calling. The water is where Jesus is! Group Discussion 1. Fear of failure is one reason many of us don't step out of the boat. Some people view Peter's walk on the water as a failure, but John Ortberg points out that there were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. In what ways does our perception of failure affect our willingness to start water-walking? Think about It Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes. -John Ortberg 2. How much does our view of God's character and competence influence the degree to which we are willing to trust him and, in faith, to accept his calling and take risks? 3. Would you agree that sometimes the "boats" we create-whatever gives us an illusion of control, whatever or whomever (besides God) we are tempted to put our trust in when life is stormy-might actually be more dangerous than water-walking with Jesus? Why or why not? 4. If we keep choosing not to step out of our boats, what happens to us? To people around us? To our relationship with God? Personal Journey: To Do Now 1. In If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg writes, "I believe that there is some aspect of your life in which God is calling you to walk with and to him, and that when we say yes to his calling, it sets in motion a divine dynamic far beyond merely human power." In what ways might God be calling you to get out of your "boat" and step out in faith? 2. Usually anyone who begins water-walking has to face personal fear. What deep fears keep you from really walking with and obeying God, from stepping out in faith and with his help doing what you could never do on your own? List fears that are specific to the calling you wrote down for question 1. 3. Looking back on your life so far, when have you said no to God's call? When have you said yes? Why? What happened as a result of those choices? 4. Which small or large steps can you begin taking this week to get out of your boat a little each day? Personal Journey: To Do on Your Own You've learned a few basics about water-walking and have been encouraged to think about your choices, your boats, and the opportunity to water-walk. It's easy to seek comfort and create boats, isn't it? That's why so many people choose that path. But God is calling you, as he calls every believer, to put your faith in him and start getting out of your boat a little more each day. Set aside some quiet time to think about the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers, and nobody needs to know your responses, unless you choose to discuss them with someone. What's important is that you take time to reflect on some issues that you explored today, issues that may cause you to become uncomfortable or even a bit angry-at yourself, God, or someone else.


Excerpted from If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat Participant's Guide by John Ortberg Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 On Water-Walking 8
Chapter 2 Boat Potatoes 13
Chapter 3 Discerning the Call 22
Chapter 4 Walking on the Water 30
Chapter 5 Seeing the Wind 48
Chapter 6 Crying Out in Fear 60
Chapter 7 That Sinking Feeling 77
Chapter 8 Focusing on Jesus 94
Chapter 9 Learning to Wait 105
Chapter 10 How Big Is Your God? 112
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First Chapter

On Water-Walking
Some years ago my wife arranged for us to ride in a hot-air balloon as a birthday gift. We went to the field where the balloons ascended and got into a little basket with one other couple. We introduced ourselves and swapped vocational information. Then our pilot began the ascent. The day had just dawnedclear, crisp, cloudless. We could see the entire Canejo Valley, from craggy canyons to the Pacific Ocean. It was scenic, inspiring, and majestic.
But I also experienced one emotion I had not anticipated. Want to guess?
I had always thought those baskets went about chest high, but this one only came up to our knees. One good lurch would be enough to throw someone over the side. So I held on with grim determination and white knuckles.
I looked over at my wife, who does not care for heights at all, and relaxed a bit, knowing there was someone in the basket more tense than I was. I could tell, because she would not moveat all. During part of our flight there was a horse ranch on the ground directly behind her. I pointed it out because she loves horses, and, without turning around or even pivoting her head, she simply rolled her eyes back as far as she could and said, Yes, its beautiful.
About this time I decided Id like to get to know the kid who was flying this balloon. I realized that I could try to psyche myself up into believing everything would be fine, but the truth was we had placed our lives and destinies in the hands of the pilot. Everything depended on his character and competence.
I asked him what he did for a living and how he got started flying hot-air balloons. I was hoping for his former job to be one full ofresponsibilitiesa neurosurgeon, perhaps, an astronaut who missed going up into space.
I knew we were in trouble when his response to me began, Dude, its like this
He did not even have a job! He mostly surfed.
He said the reason he got started flying hot-air balloons was that he had been driving around in his pickup when hed had too much to drink, crashed the truck, and badly injured his brother. His brother still couldnt get around too well, so watching hot-air balloons gave him something to do.
By the way, he added,if things get a little choppy on the way down, dont be surprised. Ive never flown this particular balloon before, and Im not sure how its going to handle the descent.
My wife looked over at me and said, You mean to tell me we are a thousand feet up in the air with an unemployed surfer who started flying hot-air balloons because he got drunk, crashed a pickup, injured his brother, and has never been in this one before and doesnt know how to bring it down?
Then the wife of the other couple looked at me and spokethe only words either of them were to utter throughout the entire flight.
Youre a pastor. Do something religious.
So I took an offering.
The great question at a moment like that is, Can I trust the pilot?
I could try telling myself that everything would turn out okay. Facing the flight with a positive attitude would certainly make it a more pleasant journey. But the journey would be over soon. And the real issue concerned the dude who was flying this thing. Were his character and competence such that I could confidently place my destiny in his hands?
Or, was it time to do something religious?
Every day you and I take another leg of our journey in this giant balloon thats whirling around a vast universe. We only get one trip. I long to take it with an enormous spirit of adventure and riskand Ill bet you do, too.
But its a pretty uncertain ride sometimes. I wish the walls to my basket went up a little higher. I wish the balloon was a little thicker. I wonder how my little ride will end up. Im not sure how it will handle on the way down.
I can try to psyche myself up for taking chances and believing everything will turn out okay. But the real question is, Is there somebody piloting this thing? And are his character and competence such that he can be trusted? Because if theyre not, I dont want to take a chance. My story, like every human story, is, at least in part, the struggle between faith and fear.
Because of this, I have found myself drawn for many years to the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water with Christ. It is one of the greatest pictures of extreme discipleship in Scripture. In the following chapters we will take a close look at each detail of this story for what it teaches us about water-walking. But for the rest of this chapter, lets get an aerial overview. What goes into the making of a water-walker?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2012

    Pleasant book

    While this was a "pleasant" book to read and the message was quite true, the reader got all they needed to know in the first two chapters. After that, it was a lot of redundancy. I probably wouldn't recommend this to a friend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Oh My God...

    Oh My God....I felt as if this book was written expressly for me! Of course, that is not true...it was written expressly for those of us who are trying to hear God's voice. I wish I could send a copy to everyone I know.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2002

    Don't Be A Pew Potato!

    I've been a John Ortberg fan ever since I heard him speak several years ago. Since then, I've read all his books, but this one really challenged me to stop being a 'pew potato' and go where God is calling me without insisting I know where that is first. Ortberg's style is not at all 'preachy,' and you know he is writing directly from his own experiences. I love that he is so transparent and genuine about his own shortcomings. You know he grapples with every issue himself that he writes about. His writing can make you laugh out loud one minute, then turn and lay something deeply profound on you in the next paragraph. A treasure of a book that I plan to keep and read at least once a year!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2013

    Highly Recommended Christian Study Guide

    Again John Ortberg does not disappoint . A thought provoking message with much to discuss and meditate about . The material is interesting and well written. Good for a group study.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    Makes you think!

    I enjoyed this book, so did our sunday school class!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012


    If there is anything on your heart that GOD is callin you to do, share, be then do it. GET OUT OF THE BOAT AND WALK ON THE WATER, Where is ur FAITH READ THIS. Then step out and see that GOD IS"""""""""""""""""""""" THEN YOU FILL IN THE SPACE_________________.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    Small Group Must Have

    I read this book together with a small group (8 participants) over the course of 3 months on Sunday nights. It's long enough to have good discussions and short enough not to bore anyone in the group. No matter where you are (or aren't) in your faith life, it's appropriate. Lots of thinking and reflection come from reading this book and doing the exercises in it. For each of us in the group, there were "aha!" moments. We also purchased the DVD to go along with this book and sometimes used it in conjunction with the discussion. The author is actually filmed going through the various chapters with a group of his own. I recommend buying both, reading the chapter prior to group discussion and then again with the group and watching at least pieces of the video afterwards. A great find!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good for small group studies.

    This study is good for an intellectual conversation between friends who would like to grow closer to God by improving their walk. Our group consisted of 6 married couples who were committed to help each other get out of the boat and do God's work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2003

    Inspirational and humorous

    John does a good job of inspiring you to take risks while at the same time making sure you understand that there will be difficulties and fear when you do. He shares funny personal events that help you to better understand his points. He also backs up his assertions with other authors and Bible verses. I am not an avid reader and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2003

    Taking the First Step

    This book was truly a turning point in my life. As a non-'for fun' reader, I finished this book in 4 days because I couldn't put it down. The insight and depth Ortberg brings to surface is awesome! You really can get the vision, courage, strength and faith to do what you dream, with the Lord on your side. But, you have to take the first step. That is what our Lord has always shown us. Show Him that you are willing by taking the first step and He will show you things unimaginable that you can attain! You cannot walk in faith and fear at the same time. It is your choice how you walk each day. I am choosing faith!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2003

    Need Changes But No Courage ?

    If you are struggling with your misery life, can't stand it any more and don't know what you miss for the changes, here is the book to tell you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2002

    Thought provoking...

    This book truly opened my eyes and helped me to be saved. What an amazing thing it is to be able to step out of the boat knowing that Jesus commands us and is waiting for us just beyond the storm. A must read for anyone just beginning to explore their faith...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2001

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding

    This is an amazing depiction of Peter's infamous walk on water. I can't say enough about how this book has helped me realize that GOD is with me at all times. This book helps you to discern when GOD is speaking and to learn to Trust GOD with all you heart. We have a tendency to put our Faith in only tangible things. Peter was called by GOD to walk on water. If he had never gotten out of the boat, he never would have experienced Jesus' power. Think about the things that you want to do, but dare not because you are afraid. I'm sure Peter was afraid, but he trusted GOD and probably had the most exciting experience of his life. So grab hold of your Faith, Trust in GOD, and get out of the boat.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2001

    Wet Your Feet

    Wet your feet and get ready to become brave. What is your calling and realtionship with God? Did you give in or stay seated to his word? Wet your feet and show others your strength in God's word. A jewel of a book to keep forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

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