Monday, July 30, 2018

Sermon July 28-29, 2018

Title: Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!
Text: Mark 6:45-56

50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

“The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock.”

These are the words of St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, from a sermon preached around 400 AD. He was sent into exile for his faith … which led ultimately to his death.

He continues:

“Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise; they cannot sink the boat … of Jesus. What are we to fear … Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile … ‘The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods … We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats; I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death or do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.”

Fear can consume us all whether it is financial, personal, or medical. The Rock upon which our faith is built is Christ.

He is the rock of refuge.
He is the place of comfort.
He is the pavilion of rest.
He is the gift of mercy.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:18

That rock … is Christ Jesus our Lord!

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat [Luther sees the boat as a metaphor for the church] and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.

Jesus compels the disciples to leave. Maybe there was unwillingness on their part but Jesus made them get into the boat. He dismisses the crowds and then as is consistent with Jesus, no matter the crowds or the work or the distractions … Jesus prays.

47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, [also seen as a metaphor for the chaos of the world broken in sin, death and the devil]

and [Jesus] was alone on the land.

By this time … the boat was a far way off.

The wind and waves were against the boat and the disciples … as life at times can be.


The storms can come, and at times it is with wind, rain, and hail. Tree limbs can break, homes and cars can be damaged, and power for some … can be lost.

You have experienced storms and so have I. Storms can come without warning and fear can be greatest … when we least expect it.

Jesus spent almost the entire night, after the disciples departed, in prayer.

The fourth watch would be late, between 3 AM and 6 AM. It can be the darkest part of the night or just before the grayness of dawn gives way to morning, and the disciples were fighting against the waves of the sea and the wind which were against them.

[Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. Mark 6:48b

If you’ve ever been up most of the night you might understand the disciple’s distress. The wind, the waves … 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified.

Christ calms the storms of life!


As a pastor, I get to visit quite a few people at the hospitals, care facilities and in their homes. Some are dealing with minor procedures while others have grave and serious concerns. Some just deal with the problems of age and the uncertainty of life. It is always a joy though to be asked to pray for those who need a comforting word at a time of great worry and fear.

Christ brings that type of peace.

This past Monday all seemed normal for the beginning of the work week. I went in to church, started my sermon preparation and work on things for my Elders meeting and confirmation this fall. I went hope at to feed my dogs and have lunch. While I was putting my plate in the dishwasher I thought I should call Trudy and see if I could make a visit. Her phone didn’t pick up it just beeped. It seemed odd to me. I thought I’d go back to church but something caused me to think … I’ll just drive to her apartment. If she is not there I’ll call her daughter and see what’s up.

Trudy is about 4 miles from me si it didn’t take long to get there. As I walked to her home her window blinds were drawn which is not normal. I peeked in the crack in the blind and could see the TV on. I banged a bit harder on the door and then heard a voice … “Help me.”

The door was locked so I called 911. I gave them the apartment number but couldn’t remember the street and wrestled with the dispatcher who was asking many questions for clarification and it was becoming frustrating to me. Fear was coming upon me as I only wanted to get the door open so I could check on Trudy.

I told the lady on the phone, “Look, I’m getting a bit frustrated and I’m about ready to bust this door down.” To which she calmly said, “You can do that and we even encourage it but just make sure she isn’t behind the door.”

Just then a young man from another apartment came out side. I asked him if he could call and get a security person to open the door. He did, but there was no answer and he asked … did you try the back door? I forgot about the door wall and ran around the back of the complex. When I reached Trudy’s door I pulled. It opened! There was Trudy on the floor. She was sitting and in some pain but looked clear headed and stable.

She said to me “I have been sitting and praying. Thank you so much for coming. I heard you on the phone but I couldn’t get up.”

For it is Jesus who says: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

I’ve told many of you that it is such a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I get to bring the Lord’s word and gifts to those in need who can’t get to church. Last Monday God brought Trudy’s prayers directly to me in a special way so that her need and her prayers could be answered immediately.

Apart from God’s word of forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit we all would be consumed with fear at the despair and trials of life and weight of our sins.

Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!

The trials of life and the storms that attack us can’t diminish the Love of God for you his beloved redeemed children.

51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,

Jesus is the peace beyond all understanding.

54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard [Jesus] was.

The needs of body and soul are always at peace in Christ because he loves you and has given his life so that you might live.

56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Take heart, in Christ your sickness is healed!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit


Sermon July 21-22, 2018

Title: Our Lord Christ feeds you life in his name!
Text: Mark 6:30-44

37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass.

Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor had complete trust in God's faithfulness. In his journal he wrote:

Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning... He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all... Depend on it; God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.

Our Daily Bread, May 16, 1992.

31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31

The news that His disciples brought to Jesus in the verses preceding this text was the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod. Hard news for anyone to hear especially if the news involves someone we know or are close to as John was to Jesus who had lost their life.

Jesus needed to get away and be away from the people. So He gets into a boat with his disciples and goes across the lake to a place that is quite – to a place that is desolate.

32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:32

When you think of desolate you might think of a place devoid of inhabitants and deserted. A place that is joyless and sorrowful - as if separated from a loved one. A place showing signs of abandonment, dilapidated, devoid of warmth, comfort or hope.

But what does Jesus find?

33 Now many saw them going and recognized them and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, Mark 6:33-34a

He went to get away; to be by Himself; to collect His thoughts; to pray and here he finds not a desolate place at all, but one filled with a very large crowd of followers. I believe that even this crowd would have given Jesus a pass had he became agitated and told them to go away. But what does Jesus do?

… and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34b

Our Lord Christ feeds you life in his name!

We all fail to see and reflect God’s compassion in our daily lives. Many times agitation - seen through the eyes of sin - become the first reaction we have before – by the power of the Holy Spirit – we see through the compassionate eyes of faith given to us by our loving savior Jesus.

Compassion would show for a Christian the wonderful evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. To think of someone else and their needs first and foremost – this is a Christ-like virtue.


Compassion for children draws many to help at Vacation Bible School.

Compassion for those who are sick causes some to visit, send cards, or help with their needs.

Compassion is a response to God’s compassion for us.

Jesus’ showed compassion to the crowd of people gathered at this place and His compassion extended to their physical need as well. These five thousand men, women and children hungered and were fed in a miraculous way by Jesus, but the miracle was probably not even something they were aware of. 

God’s great blessing filled their hunger, showed the disciples the compassion and power with which Jesus was sending them out. Each had a basketful of leftovers [12] to testify to what Jesus has done and will continue to do through them.

God would be with them as they went forth. His miraculous work would be worked through them.

They would speak … but Jesus’ words would be heard.

All that Jesus is and does would be with them as they walked in His place with His word, bringing freedom to those in need of the saving knowledge of Christ in a fallen world. The compassion that Jesus has would be the compassion they share with sinners so that they are healed of their sin, fed by our precious Lord’s word and satisfied of all their wants and needs.

Jesus has compassion. 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)

Jesus has compassion. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

Jesus has compassion. 8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

Jesus has compassion. 9 Because, by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom. 10:9-10)

Jesus has compassion. 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom. 10:13)

Jesus has compassion … on you!

Because, He heals your sin and covers you with His righteousness so that you are by faith, free of your bondage to sin, fed by his holy word as well as His very Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper that is given and shed for you! And all who are satisfied and found in Him … Christ gives you simply out of His compassionate grace, mercy and love for you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit


Monday, July 2, 2018

Sermon June 30-July 1, 2018

Title: Your faith has made you well!
Text: Mark 5:21-43

41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. (And many of us love our pets.)

Wrap love carefully around your hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock love up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness.

But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable ... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love … is Hell.

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1960, p.169.

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea.

Jesus did not stay put he went among the people and they followed him.

22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death.[my heart is wrung and nearly broken] Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

One of the rulers of the synagogue comes to Jesus because his daughter is at the point of death. He knows that if he does nothing she will die and be lost to him forever. He has obviously heard about Jesus … the healings that he has done and is convinced that Jesus can heal her and can make her well, so he seeks him out and falls at his feet to implore him to come, so that she may be made well and live.
Jairus has faith in Jesus and trusts Christ Jesus to give his daughter life.

35 [But] while he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

This is truly devastating news? Jairus learns from these people that his daughter has died and he is told “don’t bother [Jesus] any longer.”

Life, death, love, and faith all at work and all connected to Jesus.

Your faith has made you well!
I would like to share a story from my friend Paul Ruehl. It is also a story connected to my past as we have been friends for over 50 years.


My friend Paul Ruehl had a life changing encounter that built his faith regarding his two daughters, Diana and Michelle.

Paul writes:

Diana was born June 8, 1979, nearly 3 months premature. She was perfectly formed and the most beautiful baby I have yet to ever see. She was a fighter. She was a preemie but she had a lot of spunk. The doctors put gauze around her ankles and wrists and pinned them to the sheet so she wouldn't pull the various monitors off or the tube that breathed air into her lungs. I was told that the first 48 hours were the most critical. At almost exactly 48 hours of life on June 10, 1979, Diana had a brain aneurysm and, literally, died in my arms. I could sense the life leave her as she died. I was 24 years old and absolutely devastated.

We fast forward one year. On June 9, 1980, my second daughter, Michelle was born, also nearly 3 months premature, but appearing in much worse shape than Diana had been. Michelle had absolutely no response to external stimuli. She did not respond to needle pricks as nurses drew her blood every hour, her eyes did not dilate when light was shined in them, she had no suck reflex and she could not breathe. A ventilator pumped 100% pure oxygen into her lungs. Room air is about 21% oxygen. I was told on June 10, 1980, the doctors did not think Michelle would make it through the night; that she would die on the same day one year after Diana had died. By this time I had been up nearly two days straight and went home to rest. The nice thing about Children's Hospital in Detroit is parents of the babies in the NICU can come and go at any time. I intended to sleep a few hours and come back and spend whatever time I could with Michelle. As I lay down to sleep, I cried out to God like I had never done before. I prayed a silly prayer asking God to allow her to live past midnight so she wouldn't die on June 10.

Then at 10:13 PM, June 10, 1980, I had a vision.

I had never had a vision before nor have I had one since. It was a vision and not a dream for I was clearly awake. In my vision, I saw Abraham laying Isaac on the altar, crying as he did so. I assumed God wanted Michelle's life so I cried out in a loud voice, "take her Lord, she's yours". I then fell into a deep sleep and slept at least 8 hours. When I awoke I was quite angry with myself for sleeping so long. I drove quickly to the hospital and ran up to the NICU. I scrubbed and put on a gown and literally ran to where I had last seen Michelle; her crib was gone. I was devastated and began to weep in sorrow. The nurse who had been taking care of Michelle the previous day asked me what was wrong. I said, "Where’s my baby". The nurse said, "We moved her, one of the other children needed her life support". I asked, "Why did you move her, did you give up on her?" The nurse spoke the sweetest words I have ever heard. She said, "Give up on her? She doesn't need it anymore." She proceeded to explain what the night shift nurse had told her when she reported for duty. She showed me the medical chart for Michelle from the night before and these charts literally record anything the babies do in NICU. There was a brief notation at 10:13 PM the night before. It stated, "baby extubated self". This means Michelle reached up with her own hand and pulled the tube out of her nose that was breathing for her. When Michelle did this, it set off all sorts of alarms which brought the doctors and nurses to her bedside. As one of the nurses was about to put the tube back in her nose, the doctor said to wait and see how she does. They watched in awe when she seemed to come alive and squirm and respond to ALL stimuli. She was ravenously hungry.

She was healed.

I was told that since Michelle had been on pure oxygen, she was likely brain damaged and blind. Michelle came home more than a month before she was due to be born. At about her original due date I took her to see a pediatric ophthalmologist to have her eyes checked. As the doctor evaluated her, he looked at the hospital report and he looked at Michelle then at me. He repeated this a couple times then asked me, "Why is she here?" I explained her start to life and what the doctors at the hospital had been concerned about. He told me, "this child has the eye sight of a one year old … I don't need to see her until she's ready for school." So much for being blind! As for being brain damaged, Michelle graduated third in her high school class and graduated from the US Air Force Academy. [At the time of this writing] Michelle is now a retired Major and pilot in the Air Force having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our joke is … if she was brain damaged, the Air Force would have made her a general!

The final chapter to this amazing story occurred only a few months after Michelle was born … at home, and doing very well.

In prayer, asked God what the vision meant. I knew I had seen it and obviously missed the point; I thought Michelle would die. To this day, I would swear I heard the voice of God chuckle and say "read the story, did Isaac die?" God wanted me to yield her life to him - he didn't want her to die. God heals today like he did when Jesus was walking the earth, in his way and his timing. That truth, this experience, has sustained me as much as anything I have experienced in my walk of faith. God can raise the dead to life, spiritually and physically. Praise His name forever.

Michelle’s Story: Paul Ruehl

Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

[And taking] the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was.41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

By faith, Jairus trusted his daughter to Jesus and she was raised from death to life. By faith my friend Paul commended his daughter to the Lord and she was removed from life support and given life. It is hard for me to believe that was already 38 years ago … because it seems like yesterday as I too lived with my friend through that experience.

And also by faith parents bring their children to the waters of Holy Baptism so that they too might be brought from death to life. Here they receive God’s mercy as they are buried with Christ and raised to newness of life in Baptism.

The apostle Paul articulates this in his letter to the Ephesians in chapter 2 when he writes:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit