Fwd: The Lutheran Hour: June 21, 2015 "God's Ballast of Blessing"

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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: June 21, 2015 "God's Ballast of Blessing"

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"God's Ballast of Blessing" #82-42

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on June 21, 2015
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(Should Christians Be Politically, Publically Active?)
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Mark 4:35-41

"And it happened, a great, angry storm of great wind arose and the waves threw themselves into the boat, so that it was already filled! And He, (Jesus) was on the stern, sleeping on the headrest! And they woke Him thoroughly! And said to Him, 'Teacher, is it no great concern to you that we are perishing?' And being awakened, He rebuked the wind, and He said to the sea, 'Silence. Be still!' And He muzzled the wind and there was a great calm. And Jesus said to His disciples, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have not faith?' And they feared a great fear and (the disciples) said to one another, 'Who then is this one, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'"

In the Name of the One who is, who was, and who is coming again! Amen!

Did you catch the question by the disciples in the text? Ready? "Teacher, is it no great concern that we are perishing?"

I find this one of the most astounding and ironic questions in the whole Bible. It's one reason among many that I know the modern skeptical view of the Bible, you know, supposedly that it is a made-up story, one written by the disciples, why it's just plain wrong. Why, who would ask such a foolish question if they had made the Jesus story up themselves? And who would admit to being so foolish if they were to be the leaders of this movement of faith in Him?

You see, in spite of them, the Bible proclaims that the whole point of Jesus' coming to this planet was because He cared that we were perishing. Read the pages and you'll hear, incredibly, that the Lord of the universe leaves His heavenly throne to enter our sinful, destructive, disastrous world. He experiences hunger, want, rejection; He cares for the sick, the poor, and the outcast, and many of them give Him no thanks. The upper-crust of society had no use for Him and they plot to kill Him. And, yes, everyone finally turns against Him, even His followers, as He is hung on a cross for the sins of the world! Why, to rescue those who are perishing!

In view of all that, they ask, "Hey, Jesus, we'd like to know, doesn't it bother You that we are perishing?" "Hey, Jesus, our boat is rocking and it's going down. Don't You care?

How could these disciples ask such a question? Even more incredibly; wasn't He in the same boat as they? How could they not realize that He loved them? Well, that's sinful people for you. Not only does our sin tempt us to doubt God's love, tragedy allows sinners even to cast the blame God's way.

Philip Yancey, in his book "Reaching for the Invisible God," describes the way God gets blamed for things in this way.

"When Princess Diana died," he said, "in an automobile accident, a reporter asked this question of a minister about the tragedy. The question, 'How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?' And I loved his response. He said, 'Could it have something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just how, exactly, was God involved?'"

Years ago, boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini killed a Korean opponent with a hard right to the head. At the press conference after the Korean's death, Mancini said, "Sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does." Nothing to do, of course, with fists and repeated blows to the head, I guess.

In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, "Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, 'Why have you allowed this to happen to me?'"

Then there's Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother, a couple years ago, who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown them and then blamed a fictional carjacker for the deed, she wrote in her confession: "I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, 'Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?'"

Now the question remains, exactly what role did God play in a boxer beating his opponent to death, a teenage couple giving into temptation in the back seat of a car, or a mother drowning her children?

Is God responsible for these acts? To the contrary, they are examples of incredible human free will being exercised on a fallen planet. And, it seems even then our mortal, frail, fallen humanness would rather lash out at our Creator and Redeemer, rather than take responsibility for ourselves. 

When the storms of life come, sadly we often doubt God's love first. When the boat of our life is rocking for whatever reason, instead of trusting in His clear promises of guidance and protection through the storm, our griefs, and terrors, and insecurities, turn us fearfully inward that we fail to see that the Lord of the wind and the waves loves us and is in control of our lives even in the midst of the great, angry storms that may come our way.

Today, Jesus wants you to put your trust in Him, in the middle of the storms you may be facing. He doesn't enjoy the terror. He's the One who can see you through it. He can help you overcome it. If you must face it, He can even make it a blessing to you and to others in spite of it. In fact, He promises that nothing in this life will separate you from Him, from His love, from His life and salvation. 

In the middle of despair, that's when faith in Jesus holds! And that's the power that God wants for your life today; the power of faith in Jesus Christ, the One who is ruler of the wind and the waves, the One who is your Lord and Savior, and mine as well. 

The text says, "And being awakened, He rebuked the wind, He said to the sea, 'Silence, be still!' And He muzzled the wind and there was a great calm. And Jesus said to His disciples, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have not faith?'"

How many of you have ever felt like the disciples in the text; felt the terror that these disciples felt that day? They were experienced fisherman. They had been on rocking boats before. But, this was more than that. This was beyond their best efforts and they were scared to death. They were so frightened that they shook Jesus awake. No self-respecting fisherman would have done something like that unless they were terrified.

Now, I've been on the Sea of Galilee in a boat much like the one that the disciples were in and let me tell you, if the tempest raged, I wouldn't have had much confidence in those boats either. The Sea of Galilee is like a cereal bowl where winds can suddenly whip up and overwhelm, where waves can quickly become killer waves, where your life can be in danger no matter how experienced you are. That's what they were facing. They were overwhelmed, fearing for their life! In spite of all their experience, they were helpless!

How many of you have ever been in the midst of a crisis and felt that it was as though Jesus were unconcerned, even asleep? We all have! That's why this text is so meaningful, so powerful in our lives. Have you ever felt like the ship of your life was going down, that the water was filling up the boat faster than you could bail it out, and there was no hope of staying afloat? 

You see when you face crises in life, a crisis about your life, about its meaning, its purpose, it can overwhelm you. It can unnerve you. When you feel a crisis at work, maybe you've been fired; wow, it feels like you're under water with no hope of getting to the surface for air. When your wife or husband says those cutting words, "I want a divorce," it can feel like the heart in your chest has been ripped out, like you can't make your lungs pull in any more oxygen at all. 

Sin, brokenness, hatred, evil, selfishness, and just the feelings of inadequacy that we all have from time to time, such things can shake us to the core, even "shaking the Savior," wondering if He cares about a life so troubled as yours or mine.

They said to Him, we say to Him, "Teacher, is it no great concern to you that we are perishing?" They said what we all would have said!

Yes, the crisis, the terror, dismay that brought them to the point of a decision; they realized that they'd better do something about the situation. And, you've got to give them some credit here; they were deathly afraid, but they brought that fear to Jesus! They realized they couldn't do anything about it so why not go to God and give Him a shot.

But, let's also not give them too much credit. Sadly, they do what we all do. God only gets their attention when everything else fails. It's as if we think that life is about what we can make it, and when we really screw it up, well, then let's bring it to God. That misses the whole point. Don't you realize how wrong it is, how much of life you are missing even when things are going well?

God is in the life-giving business. He's not the One who brings sin and guilt into our lives, we do. He is the One who brings abundant, joyful life to people. He's the One who brings peace beyond any human understanding. He's the One who seeks your eternal best right now and forever. Why wait? Why wait?

Jesus Himself had already said as much to these guys. He told them that when they got into the boat. He said, "We're going to the other side." Listen, if God tells you that you will make it to the other side, you will! But, they quickly forgot His clear words. 

Notice too, Jesus amidst the terror of the moment. After all, He was on the boat too! He was comfortably asleep. That's a sleep of faith, a sleep of confidence that this temporary trouble is just that, momentary, for a time, not forever! When He rebukes the wind and the waves, He looks, then, at the disciples and says, "Where's your faith? If you think the wind and the waves are a big deal, wait until I tell you about the fact that I'm going to the cross and I'm going to be resurrected on the third day so that you might live forever!"

Jesus is saying it loudly; I'm the only Answer to real crisis!

The Christian faith, then, is faith in this Jesus! It's not some Pollyannish, wishful view of life. It is not grit your teeth and bear it. It is not hang in there buddy, hope it gets better. No, the Christian faith is that there still is another more sure thing in life besides death and taxes. It is the resurrection; the resurrection of the Savior who was Crucified for you and for me! It's His promise that "because He lives, you will live also!" It's the bold, unbridled statement of the ruler of the wind and the waves to trust in Him, now and forever!

Hear Jesus' question, "Why have you no faith? Didn't I just tell you about the power of the Kingdom? Have you not seen demons cast out, people healed, and sins forgiven? Where is your faith?" 

Mine is in the Lord and He is the One who can be counted on in your storms too. Why? First of all, this text tells us that He is with you in the midst of the storm. Let me say it this way, when the wind and waves of this broken world rock your boat, make sure that the Rock of Salvation is in your boat. 

That's the Ballast that blesses. Let me explain that. If you are a sailor, you know the importance of ballast, or counterweight, to ensure smooth sailing or to ensure that the boat remains upright in the midst of a storm. Sometimes when a cargo ship is sailing without any paid cargo, the crew needs to find something to counterweight the boat for the voyage. It matters what's on board. If you don't have the right cargo, the ship is helpless on a stormy sea.

Well, I don't know what the fisherman disciples had on board for ballast that day, but I do know that when Christ is on board, you don't have to worry about the seaworthiness of the vessel. That's the point of this event. No matter what storms break loose, when Christ is in the midst of it, the travelers with Him will get to the other side, to the destination appointed for them with Him. That day especially, He said, "Count on it!"

Even more, though, in the days to come, the disciples would learn that His promises hold then too. Think of it this way, Jesus is the One who can take the often destructive waves of life and use that same water to baptize you and me, wash us in His life-giving water with forgiveness, life, and salvation that holds through the storm.

Robert Morgan tells a story that took place on the Sunday after the Titanic sank. It happened in Belfast, where the great ship was built. Naturally, the townspeople were devastated. Men met on the city's streets, grasped each other's hands, burst into tears, and parted without saying a word.

Morgan told about one church that lost 16 men to the icy waters. All were mechanics on the Titanic. On that dark Sunday, the pastor read the Scripture, the one we're reading today, from Mark, chapter 4.

That Sunday, while the pastor read these words of terror and finally trust, it was as if this text came alive just for them. Finally, with a tear in his eye, the pastor then said to his heartbroken, troubled church that only one vessel in all of history had truly been unsinkable: the little boat occupied by the sleeping Savior. And, the preacher added, "The only hearts that can weather the storms like the ones of today are hearts with Jesus inside."

It is especially during times of despair when our statement of trust in Jesus makes all the difference. The late Andre Crouch once said, "If I never had a problem, I'd never know that God could solve them. It is when we respond to the storms in life with faith, that we see God's power most visibly, and we sense His presence most intensely. I'd never know what faith in God could do." 

It is the power of God for you this day, my friend, then to say, "No, I will not fear, for I trust in Jesus. I am a child of Christ, the One who is the ruler of the wind and the waves. And is now right in the middle of my storm. I know He cares about me. 

If we're going to get the most out of this text, we need to see that it isn't ultimately about wind and waves and a miracle to still a storm. This text is about the power of faith in the midst of the storm, the faith that trusts in Jesus, the One in our life to bless and sustain us no matter what we're facing at the moment. The Bible teaches that faith is the key to life. Not some generic faith. Not some trumped up faith in yourself; no, just a little storm can flatten faith like that. The faith that lasts is the faith to trust in the Savior who died on the cross, who rose again, and lives and reigns to all eternity. Bring your fears to Him, in faith, and live life boldly in His Name.

General Douglas MacArthur wrote: "People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest, wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith and as old as your doubts; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears; as young as your hope, as old as your despair." 

I would add, all that is true when your ideal, no, your ballast of blessing reality, is Christ and your faith is in Him.

The disciples really had no reason to fear because they had the very presence of Christ, the power of Christ, and the promise of Christ at their disposal. And that's what you and I have today too, by faith in Him. Get to know this Jesus, not in fear, but in faith. He is the One that even the wind and waves obey. He is the only One who can conquer sin and the grave, and He does all things well for you and for your life and salvation. 

When the waves of this life rock your boat, make sure that the Rock of Salvation is in your boat. For, when He is in your life, you have His resources to make it through your storms, to live boldly now and forever. Amen.

ACTION IN MINISTRY for June 21, 2015
Guest: Alphonsus Claimett

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action In Ministry, called to action in response to God's love for us in Jesus Christ. The recent Ebola outbreak killed thousands of people in Africa. It spread fear and panic worldwide. The epidemic seems to be subsiding and today we're going to look at how Christians in Liberia are ministering to the ongoing needs in the aftermath of Ebola. We spoke recently with the Director of our Ministry Center in Liberia, Alphonsus Claimett; however, the phone connection was not the best and the audio quality was such that we're not able to use that interview here on the air so we've transcribed what Alphonsus said and our colleague, Eric Gates, the Regional Director for Africa and Middle East, is joining us now to help relay those comments to us. Eric, thanks for joining us.

GATES: Thank you very much.

ANNOUNCER: What did Alphonsus have to say about how the Ebola crisis affected Liberia and what is the current situation? 

GATES: Well, he explained to us, he said, in general in Liberia, going on after nine months, the economy went down. Prices of essential commodities skyrocketed out of sight. Foreign companies shut down and laid off employees. Even agriculture, which is the most important sector of the economy, became unproductive as many roadblocks were put up and roads were closed. The health care system itself was totally unreliable and nurses and doctors were afraid of the disease.

ANNOUNCER: And, I understand, that many health care workers actually came down with Ebola and died as a result.

GATES: That's right. That's correct.

ANNOUNCER: Wow. Wow. What else?

GATES: Well, there was also a total closure of all schools throughout the country. The entire country itself was paralyzed. As Claimett explained to us, we're just grateful to God that people are now trying to pick up their normal lives again since the pronouncement that Liberia has become Ebola free.

ANNOUNCER: Now, Eric, in the middle of this chaos, how has LHM Liberia been responding to the ongoing needs?

GATES: We've been involved by prayerfully reaching out to families whose lives have been hit by the Ebola epidemic assuring them of the love and care in the absence of the loved ones that have gone to be with the Lord as the result of this strange disease. We are continuing to broadcast messages of hope to mend the broken spirits of those families who have been in the path of this nightmare.

ANNOUNCER: Back while the crisis was at its height, our office there organized soccer tournaments and they used that as an opportunity to share information about Ebola and hopefully save some lives as a result of that.

GATES: That's correct. We did hold sporting events and also we did a lot of door-to-door evangelism and teaching. We would take small groups of volunteers and explain to people just real practical health care tips about how to avoid contamination and infection. We also, even, at times, on our national radio program; we invited speakers, medical doctors affiliated there with the U.N., to get on the air and really speak to people again also how to prevent contamination and infection.

ANNOUNCER: And, Eric, what sort of actions could our listeners take that would be a blessing to our staff in Liberia and the people with whom they are ministering? 

GATES: Well, Claimett's asked us. He said first and foremost we ask people in the U.S. for their prayers. The Ebola crisis has really been a tragic situation in the country. There are orphans now out in the streets. We prayerfully look to our listeners, those who support our ministry, to see how they can provide some physical support to be able to help these orphans out of the street, into schools, and into homes where they can, once again, see the love of their family who have left them. We pray that God would keep using us the way He is to bring Christ to the nations and the nations to the church.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Eric. And those are the words of Alphonsus Claimett, our Director in Monrovia, Liberia. And to learn more about LHM's ministry in Liberia, we invite you to go to www.lhm.org, click on the Global Outreach tab, and look for the Liberia link. 

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for June 21, 2015
Topic: Should Christians Be Politically, Publically Active?

ANNOUNCER: Should Christians be politically active in public? That's our question today for Pastor Gregory Seltz. I'm Mark Eischer. A listener says, "It's the summer, but it seems like politics are all over TV and radio. Some friends say we should be totally involved, others not at all. What does the Bible say about Christians and politics, if anything?" 

SELTZ: First of all, Mark, let me say I do think that there is political fatigue in our modern culture. With 24-hour news, minute-by-minute coverage of everything, there are people who think that the politics of whatever is happening is the most important thing in life. They really believe that attention to every political detail is going to save us.

ANNOUNCER: I think the Bible would address that issue pretty directly.

SELTZ: It does. I think I would summarize it this way. If you think that politics, namely the political leadership and policies of sinful people, is what's going to save us, the Bible warns everyone that this would be a big mistake.

ANNOUNCER: And even when our political involvement reflects Biblical principles, that could still be a mistake too.

SELTZ: Yeah, if you are talking about solving the big problems of today, and not just keeping the problems at bay, yeah, that would be a problem. That's not right because if all that was needed to save us from ourselves was merely the right laws and proper enforcement of those laws, there would not have been a need for Jesus' cross and His resurrection. You see, even when human beings know what is right and wrong, this is incredible, we tend to do what we want rather than what we should. Human history has proven that true over and over and over again.

ANNOUNCER: And in our sermon series on "The Footsteps of St. Paul," you spoke directly about that.

SELTZ: I did. Rome was a law and order place; it fell. Greece was a beauty in humanity place and it fell too.

ANNOUNCER: So, is the Bible saying that it is unimportant then, to be involved in such things?

SELTZ: Not at all. It's just putting all these things into perspective. And I think that's what's very much needed today. 


SELTZ: First of all, think about when Jesus was asked such a question. He was asked about taxes.

ANNOUNCER: Now there's a topic that never goes away.

SELTZ: Some things never change, that's for sure. His answer, though, says it all. He says, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's." So, let's get to the point. It's not that our decisions and policies are of no value. 

ANNOUNCER: Right. Politics is a part of life, just like business, family, and leisure. 

SELTZ: Right, and there is a lot of pain in the world due to bad politics, bad leadership, and corruption. Cleaning such things up, voting for what is right, getting involved in one's community, giving people freedom to do what is right, holding them accountable when the public trust has been violated; all that is necessary, it is beneficial.

ANNOUNCER: What's the other side of that?

SELTZ: It doesn't change a person's heart or make the problems ultimately go away. That's why Jesus puts things into perspective for us. While doing those political things might be beneficial for a time, His whole life demonstrates that such things still can't answer our deepest needs, nor solve our deepest problems. That's going to have to be God's business in our lives and in our world. That's where the Church is a radically different organization that God wants all people to be a part of too.

ANNOUNCER: Why is it so different?

SELTZ: The Church isn't merely about challenging people to do things morally right on the outside and then enforcing such things if they are broken. No, it's about calling people's hearts to account before God, calling all people to repentance and faith as the ultimate solution for our brokenness in our families, in our communities, even in our world.

ANNOUNCER: Being put right with God, then, is the most important issue.

SELTZ: Exactly, and there's only way that we're going to be able to start to do that, that's with Him, and by His grace. And that's how we can then also reconcile ourselves with others too. There has got to be an eternal foundation to our temporal issues or the temporal stuff merely is a game to be won, and lost, and won again with no progress or no ultimate hope; (which is one reason I think people are fatigued by all this stuff).

ANNOUNCER: Sounds like you're saying that getting involved in the political banter and discussions is important, but not ultimately so?

SELTZ: I think that's what Jesus says. So, yes, be informed. Vote your conscience especially as it is guided by the Ten Commandments, yes. But even more so, be reconciled to God by grace, immerse yourself in His hope and His power of His Word, and serve your neighbor to glorify Him, not just to win an argument; that will change things, if there is meant to be change this side of heaven.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Evening and Morning" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)


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Benjamin shares his story, "I had taken a trip to eastern Chad, specifically in ADE, the Chad Sudan border. In this city, there is no telephone network…the wife of the missionary that I had followed had been bitten by a snake. We thank God, now she is out of danger, but her foot is still swollen. In my family, my wife had experienced the dislocation in her right foot and lying for one month and it was also during this time thieves stole her goods at the market (she has a shop at the market and that his shop was completely stolen); my eldest son had surgery on his left leg with related diseases like typhoid and malaria. Despite all this, the Lord is wonderful. He supported me, my family, and ministry. I thank Him and told Him thank You for protection. I say also thank you for your support in prayer when I occasionally encouraged by your writings that mention that you pray for me and my family."

Benjamin's story is one of many that take place in every country LeadaChild serves. The trials and setbacks of those we reach are frequent and many. Things we can do so easily in America, are extremely time consuming in these indigenous parts of the world. The financial support you provide through LeadaChild helps in such a big way to alleviate some of the worries and challenges of hundreds of teachers, directors and most importantly thousands of students deal with.

Beginning Sunday, June 21 sixteen riders from the LeadaChild Bike Club are going to begin biking across the entire state of Missouri. The goal? To raise awareness and financial support for children like the ones Benajmin serves. Summer time in any of the countries LeadaChild serves is the busiest time of the school year because classes start in January. Will you consider making a donation to LeadaChild or sponsoring one of our riders? You can do so by clicking the links below. Thank you in advance for your support and prayers as LeadaChild works to continue taking the love of Jesus to children around the world through Christian education. Click Link to donate: