Burn the Ships - Happy, Healthy & Prosperous (2023)

Burn the Ships - Happy, Healthy & Prosperous (1)

A couple months ago I heard a song for the first time called “Burn the Ships”, by for KING & COUNTRY (video below). I got really excited to show my son the song because he had just told me the story about the Spanish explorer and conquistador, Hernán Cortés, who burned his ships to give his men motivation to fight. I never remembered learning about this story before.

He had actually learned it from his baseball coach this year. In fact, it’s one of the team’s mantras this year. You see, last year the team made the state playoffs but just missed making it to the championship game. This year their coach didn’t want that to hold them back. He said they need motivation just like Cortés’ men did in order to conquer the new land. They have to fight in order to survive.

For the baseball team, the metaphorical ships are their past (the past losses, being an ordinary team, almost winning, etc.). They needed to burn them down, get out of their shell, and fight as a team this year. To symbolize this, the team huddles up and shouts “1-2-3-BTS!” (BTS=Burn the ships) The back of their hoodies this year also say “Burn the Ships”.

Hernán Cortés-Burn the Ships

Cortés was said to have burned his own ships upon arrival in Veracruz, Mexico in 1519 to prevent the retreat of his men. This would send a clear message—that there was no turning back! After doing a little bit of research I discovered that Cortés, in fact, may not have actually burned the ships. There is some dispute about whether or not he burned the ships or instead sank, scuttled, or ran them aground. Additionally it is debated whether or not he actually spared one ship to send to King Charles V in Spain with a portion of the treasure from his conquest.

Regardless of the “how”, it is evident from history that the ships were indeed destroyed. Thus, the result and reasoning remain the same…to prevent retreat and ensure his men were committed to their mission. Cortés knew one thing: retreat is easy when you have the option. Therefore, to burn the ships is to cut all sources of retreat. Consequently he removed any obstacles that could potentially hold his men back from giving their full effort. The message? “Succeed or die. We are not leaving this place alive unless we win.”

A reminder to me

This reminded me of a particular time that I too had to burn the ships at one time. 10 years ago our marriage was in a deep and dark place, to the point of separation and divorce papers. It was very broken—beyond any repair that we could humanly do. Only by God’s grace, forgiveness, and power was our marriage restored.

We symbolically burned the ships when we literally burned our divorce papers. (I had a picture I was going to post of us burning them with fireworks on the 4th of July, but I can’t seem to find it.) My “ship” was divorce, and by burning that it took that option off of the table forever. Then on our 15 year anniversary, five years later, we re-committed with another symbolic (yet quite permanent!) declaration by getting tattoos on our wedding ring fingers as a reaffirmation of our vows.

Last month (December 2019) we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. The traditional “gift” for 20 years is china, so I made Eric a mosaic out of a broken piece of china of my grandmother’s. This mosaic represented how God made something new and beautiful out of something very broken. This was only possible because we committed to burn the ships and decided to look ahead to the possibility and promise of something new.

Burn the Ships - Happy, Healthy & Prosperous (3)

Burn the Ships - Happy, Healthy & Prosperous (4)

Still need reminders on occasion

In verse 2 of the “Burn the Ships” song, there’s a line that says “Don’t let it arrest you, this fear, this fear of fallin’ again”[1]. That line resonated with me because unfortunately there are still times that I have triggers of pain or have paralyzing fears about the past resurfacing again. Therefore, even now, I need reminders not to think about the past, and like the lyrics of the song say I need to step into a new day and don’t look back[2].

When the hurt of the past and some of those scars try to resurface, I have to remind myself to look ahead and press on. It’s been a long and ongoing road of healing and restoration…one where I’ve had to occasionally battle not looking back. However, God always reminds me of a promise which has become somewhat of a life verse for me in many ways:

“The Lordsays, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)

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About this same time of hearing the song, I was also getting reminders from God about not looking back. In a journal entry dated November 23, 2019, I had written:

Repeated theme: Don’t look at the past. Don’t look back. Look ahead. God is preparing me for something new. He’s making a new path. He’s doing something new in me. Move forward. New perspectives…new streams…new roads. It’s now springing forth. God is making a way. He is the way maker.

Related scriptures also resurfacing:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV)

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditionsand the former order of things have passed away. And He Who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. Also He said, Record this, for these sayings are faithful (accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy) and true (genuine).” Revelation 21:4-5 (AMPC)

“Burn the Ships” by for KING & COUNTRY

Take Some Practical Steps to Burn the Ships:

  • First, identify if you need to burn any ships.

Consider the following questions: What are your ships? What are you afraid to let go of? What keeps you looking back? Do you need to step into a new day? Are you leaving an option for retreat open in any area of your life? Are you fully, 100% committed to whatever God is calling, asking, or telling what’s possible for you to do? What’s preventing you from moving forward in any area of your life?

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What are your ships? What’s preventing you from moving forward in any area of your life? #burntheships

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  • Secondly, realize what’s at stake. Ask yourself…

What if I acted as if this were my last and only hope? What if I worked toward that end, putting in my all—all my heart, soul, and mind—as if I needed to win or succeed in order to survive?

  • Then, burn the ships and force yourself to move forward!

Take an action—whether it’s symbolic or literally burning something (i.e. write it down on a piece of paper, then burn it). Tell yourself, “Don’t dwell on the past. It’s a new day; God is doing a new thing! He’s making a road in the desert and making rivers in dry land. He’s making all things new.” Sing the chorus of “Burn the Ships”:

Chorus Lyrics:

Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon the heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don’t you look back[3]

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  • Next, don’t look back.

Remember, your option of retreat is now burned. If you look back you might see the enemy bearing down on you like the Egyptians coming after the Israelites at the Red Sea. On the other hand, if you look ahead you can realize that you’re not alone and that God is going before you.

“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.” Exodus 14:10 (NIV)

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

  • Finally, realize that you’re not moving forward alone.

In the song, when I hear another line in verse 2 I feel like it’s God speaking directly to me: “And if you need a refuge, I will be right here until the end.”[4] God will never leave you either.

“…For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail younor give you upnor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsakenor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”Hebrews 13:5(AMP)

What ships do you need to burn? How are you going to do it? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, disrespectful, sarcastic, offensive, or off-topic. By posting on this site you agree to my Comment Policy.

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If you know anyone that could benefit from this, please pay it forward! Share this post via the sharing links below.“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”2 Corinthians 1:3-4(NIV)

  1. For KING & COUNTRY. Lyrics to “Burn the Ships.” Burn the Ships. Word Entertainment, 2018.
  2. For KING & COUNTRY. Lyrics to “Burn the Ships.” Burn the Ships. Word Entertainment, 2018.
  3. For KING & COUNTRY. Lyrics to “Burn the Ships.” Burn the Ships. Word Entertainment, 2018.
  4. For KING & COUNTRY. Lyrics to “Burn the Ships.” Burn the Ships. Word Entertainment, 2018.

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What does burn the ships mean in the Bible? ›

Burn our hope in ourselves, our careers, and in anything else but Christ. Burning our ships means that we give ourselves COMPLETELY to Christ. We live His Word.

Where does the quote burn the ships come from? ›

The phrase “burning your ships” dates from 1519, when a Spanish expedition led by Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico. Cortés knew his crew was already exhausted after the long sea journey, but he had to motivate them to succeed in the new land. So he ordered the scuttling of the ships they arrived in. The ships burned.

What does the saying burn the ships mean? ›

"Burning the/your ships/boats" means doing something that makes it impossible for yourself to turn back, especially if it is done willfully and without necessity. The figure of speech derives from legends about conquerors who supposedly, upon landing their army in enemy country, ordered the invasion fleet to be burnt.

Who said burn the ships? ›

In 1519, Spanish Captain, Hernán Cortés landed on the shores of the new world, Mexico, and gave the order to “burn the boats”. We may not agree with the invaders but the act of burning the ships/boats is as relevant today as it was in ancient times.

What does the ship symbolize in Christianity? ›

The ship (bark or barque, barchetta) was an ancient Christian symbol. Its is the Church tossed on the sea of disbelief, worldliness, and persecution but finally reaching safe harbor with its cargo of human souls. Part of the imagery comes from the ark saving Noah's family during the Flood (1 Peter 3:20-21).

What is the story of burning the boats? ›

Approximately 1,000 years before Cortez's Aztec conquest, Alexander the Great also burned his vessels when he and his army arrived on Persian shores. By burning the boats, the great general committed his army to winning over the Persians who greatly surpassed Alexander's army of men.

What is the burnt ship poem about? ›

In “A Burnt Ship,” Donne displays this modernist-like thinking as he rejects logic and instead embraces an ironic and nonsensical viewpoint of men involved in a maritime battle. When a nearby enemy ship attacks, the men must choose between dying by burning alive or drowning.

Is the burn the ships story true? ›

Many people think that Cortez actually burned his ships – he didn't – he sank them. This is a misconception that has made its way into history due to a reference made by the Spanish writer Cervantes de Salazar in 1546.

Why did Caesar burn his own ships? ›

He did not intend to sail away from the island without conquering the land. And if his men and he were unable to do so, they would rather die there than go back. The burning of the ships clearly suggested that he had left himself and his men no option but to give all they had.

What is the ship a metaphor for? ›

The Ship of State is an ancient and oft-cited metaphor, famously expounded by Plato in the Republic (Book 6, 488a–489d), which likens the governance of a city-state to the command of a vessel.

What is the saying ships in the night? ›

Noun. ships that pass in the night pl (plural only) (simile) Two or more people who encounter one another in a transitory, incidental manner and whose relationship is without lasting significance; two or more people who almost encounter one another, but do not do so.

Who said the famous quote don't give up the ship? ›

As the mortally wounded Captain James Lawrence of the US frigate Chesapeake lay dying in his cabin, his crew locked in hand-to-hand combat on the quarterdeck above, he is alleged to have uttered the memorable words: “Don't give up the ship!”

Did the Romans burn their ships? ›

Upon landing at the coast, his soldiers soon realized the Celts had way more men, which caused Caesar's men to panic with fear and start preparing their boats for a quick exit. Caesar burnt all the boats, forcing the men to fight, gaining 100% commitment from his men.

What does the sea symbolize in life? ›

The ocean is the beginning of life on Earth, and symbolizes formlessness, the unfathomable, and chaos. The ocean can also be seen as a symbol of stability, as it can exist largely unchanged for centuries.

Why is the church like a ship? ›

The metaphor of the church as a ship has many symbolic connections. We speak of the Christian life as a journey over the sea and we talk about a pilot that guides us.

What is the spirit of a ship called? ›

The figureheads were a carved representation of the spirit of the ship, in the form of people, beasts or mythological figure.

What is the moral of the story the three boats? ›

There is no moral in the story per se as the novel is not didactic in nature. It is a comic novel that humorously narrates an adventurous account of the boating holiday taken up by the three friends. It is a series of incidents that occur during their journey along with the speculations of the narrator on them.

What do you understand by fire boat? ›

: a ship equipped with firefighting apparatus.

What does burn the boats mean sports? ›

He told the story of Cortés telling his men to "burn the boats", meaning there would be no turning back as they forged ahead with their conquest of Mexico. Smart and the staff used that message with the Bulldogs leading up to Monday's national championship.

What is the message of the poem after the Sea ship? ›

After the Sea-Ship is taken from Whitman's Leaves of Grass collection, and is deeply in tune with the politics of the time of its composition. Whitman explores the nature of people's individuality when united within a new and ideal democracy, towards which it seemed America was progressing.

Who wrote the poem the ship? ›

The Ship by William Logan - Poems | Academy of American Poets.

What is the message of the poem island fire? ›

There is a poem called “Island Fire” by Konai Helu Thaman. It likens our traditional practices and cultural values to a once-raging bonfire, which is presently weakening and fading. An accurate reference for it isn't just the cultural aspect of us that's vanishing. We're losing our very own people!

Who burned his ships to motivate his men? ›

If you are a history buff, you may know the story of Cortés and the burning of his ships. In the year 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in the New World with six hundred men and, upon arrival, made history by destroying his ships.

Why did the Spanish burn their ships? ›

Those of his men still loyal to the Governor of Cuba conspired to seize a ship and escape to Cuba, but Cortés moved swiftly to quash their plans. To make sure such a mutiny did not happen again, he decided to sink his ships, on the pretext that they were not seaworthy.

Which ship was burned down because there was not enough men to handle the three ships? ›

After Magellan's death, Sebastian del Cano took command of the two remaining ships, the Trinidad and the Victoria (the Conception was burned because there were not enough men left to operate it).

Did Julius Caesar burn the ships? ›

In 48 BC, Caesar was pursuing Pompey into Egypt when he was suddenly cut off by an Egyptian fleet at Alexandria. Greatly outnumbered and in enemy territory, Caesar ordered the ships in the harbor to be set on fire. The fire spread and destroyed the Egyptian fleet.

Who was the cruelest Caesar? ›

Q: Why is Roman Emperor Caligula remembered as the cruelest Emperor? Shortly into Emperor Caligula's rule, he fell ill from what many suggest was syphilis. He never recovered mentally and became a ruthless, wanton killer of Roman citizens, including even his family. No one was safe.

Why did Caesar crucify the pirates? ›

Caesar had decided that he would crucify the pirates after he was free. After the money was paid and he was released he assembled a small army and a fleet, after which he captured the pirates and crucified them as he had promised while in captivity – a promise that the pirates had taken as a joke.

What is the real meaning of ship? ›

: a large seagoing vessel. : a sailing vessel having a bowsprit and usually three masts each composed of a lower mast, a topmast, and a topgallant mast. : boat. especially : one propelled by power or sail.

Why is a ship referred to as a female? ›

Another tradition is to consider ships as female, referring to them as 'she'. Although it may sound strange referring to an inanimate object as 'she', this tradition relates to the idea of a female figure such as a mother or goddess guiding and protecting a ship and crew.

What are 3 famous metaphors? ›

Famous metaphors
  • “The Big Bang.” ...
  • “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. ...
  • “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ...
  • “I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep.” ...
  • “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” ...
  • “Chaos is a friend of mine.”

What is the meaning of loose lips sink ships? ›

Loose lips sink ships is an American English idiom meaning "beware of unguarded talk". The phrase originated on propaganda posters during World War II.

What a ship is quote? ›

Wherever we want to go, we go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and hull and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs.

What does it mean when a ship blows its horn three times? ›

Two short blasts will show intention to direct course of vessel to own port (left). Three short blasts will indicate the vessel's engines are going astern (in reverse).

What is the most famous line? ›

Famous Movie Quotes
  • “ May the Force be with you.” - Star Wars, 1977.
  • “ There's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
  • “ I'm the king of the world!” - ...
  • “ Carpe diem. ...
  • “ Elementary, my dear Watson.” - ...
  • “ It's alive! ...
  • “ My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. ...
  • “ I'll be back.” -
21 Sept 2018

What is the famous line from Titanic? ›

I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.

Who said friendship is the best ship? ›

“There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, and may they always be,” is an old Irish proverb that says a lot about the importance of a friend.

What caused Rome to burn? ›

Ancient historians blamed Rome's infamous emperor, Nero, for the fire. One historian said Nero was playing the fiddle while his city went up in flames. Other historians say Nero wanted to raze the city so he could build a new palace. Nero himself blamed a rebellious new cult—the Christians.

Who burned the ships to prevent retreat? ›

To motivate his army as they embarked on the march inland, Cortés is rumored to have ordered his army to "burn the boats" upon which they had arrived. The move was meant to eliminate the army's ability to retreat, which meant that the men had two options: victory or death.

When did Rome burn and why? ›

The great fire of Rome breaks out and destroys much of the city beginning on July 18 in the year 64. Despite the well-known stories, there is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, either started the fire or played the fiddle while it burned. Still, he did use the disaster to further his political agenda.

Why did Vikings burn their ships? ›

The Viking ritual of burning their longships generally only takes place on special occasions such as; to celebrate the forthcoming New Year by burning away old spirits and welcoming in the new spirits or to honour the death of a Viking Warrior.

What does it mean to burn in the Bible? ›

the punishment of burning in the Hebrew Bible appears in cases of. illicit sex, sacrilege, and as a threat. In addition we will demon- strate that burning people to death was a bad omen and that it. meant total obliteration of the dead.

Why would the English burn their own ships? ›

The idea of burning one's ships is to dissuade your own forces from being able to use them. If you have 10 ships you could not disable them all fast enough to stop forces from using the remainders. Wasn't the Bounty burnt to avoid discovery rather than prevent retreat? There was nobody on Pitcairn.

How did Vikings view death? ›

When Vikings died they believed they would go to Valhalla, where they would spend their afterlife. Before Christianity, Valhalla was the Viking eternal paradise, like Heaven. Valkyries were warrior-women goddesses who searched battlefields for dead heroes.

Who burned the ships at Troy? ›

By burning his ships, Alexander hoped to galvanize and motivate his troops. They knew that they had to fight in order to survive. There was no other way. To borrow from Ed Harris's line in Apollo 13, failure was not an option.

What is a famous Viking saying? ›

Viking (Norse Mythology)

Better to fight and fall than to live without hope. Travel far and wide and you should possess the secrets of man. There is more honor in accumulating little by little than in reaching for the sky and ending up flat on your face. The error is the result of letting fear rule your actions.

How do you keep the fire burning for God? ›

To sustain the fire, fasting and prayer should be observed regularly. Prayer is what sustains the fire and makes it burn always. Prayer is the oxygen that keeps the fire of God in our spirit burning with unprecedented flames.

What does fire mean spiritually? ›

Fire is viewed by Christians, the Chinese, and the Hebrews as being a symbol of divinity (Cooper, 1978). In Christianity, fire can also be symbolic of religious zeal and martyrdom. In Egypt it represents a sense of superiority and control. Many cultures view fire as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

Why does God put us in the fire? ›

God uses FIRE to chasten us when we stray away from him (Heb. 12:5-11); and then God uses fire to keep us on our knees, to bring us to a place in him where He can use us for His glory.

How did the English use fire ships? ›

On 27 July 1588, after the Armada had anchored off Calais, the English decided to send in eight 'fireships'. These were vessels packed with flammable material, deliberately set alight and left to drift towards enemy ships. At midnight, the fireships approached the Spanish Armada.

Why ship gets rusted? ›

As mentioned previously, the materials being transported in the cargo tanks can cause corrosion. Ballast tanks, which are critical to the life of the vessel, are constantly emptying and refilling with seawater, and this will increase the rate of corrosion. Changes in temperature will affect the corrosion rate as well.


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