James 5: 13-20
MARK 9: 38-50

September 30, 2018


Look around … every person; each of us; those on the street and those you never actually meet …  but all of us who exist in the human condition carry scars, battle wounds, hurt, and pain.  Different levels perhaps but if you are honest you’ll know what yours are.

At times we are able to pick up signs of the other person’s struggles; at times they open up to reveal some or most of what’s aching inside but at the end of the day most of us … I would hasten to argue almost all of us … do all we can to hide the scars, the wounds, and anything that might leave us open to be viewed as weak … that would leave us open to examination … that would leave us open for others to critique us in our weakness and some who have attempted to be open only found that those who heard the story have  unleashed scorn, disbelief or even at times rejection.

You see its difficult to fully understand … its difficult to accept that others may hurt in ways that we can’t understand … and at times we are so in need of healing from our own hurts, aches and struggles that we find it easy to reject the truth that almost every other person we know has … almost all of us are struggling; hurting; to one degree or another.

The cure … we know where the cure begins because we heard the words from God’s Holy Word this morning … we know where the cure rests because we are in church or watching church this morning.  The Living Water … Jesus Christ

But are we living as people always ready to provide the living water to those who are hurting?  Are we the ones offering what is needed by the hurting?  Jesus said “whoever gives you a cup or water to drink … will be rewarded?”  Are you at the ready to accept that some are hurting; some are aching; and some have stories that they are desperate to have heard that will release some of their pain … do you have the cup of water to refresh them?  Do you have the listening ear of patience filled with love?  Are you ready to hug with abandon just as my daughter has hugged with innocence and love those who walk the street for profit, those who place needles in their arms, and those who have spent more time behind bars than drinking in front of them … are you ready to love without criticism?  Are you ready to be part of the CURE … are you?  Because look around … those in your circles of life have scars, pain, and suffering that perhaps you don’t understand but they need someone with a glass of water to refresh them; they need to not hear words of criticism and attack; and like me … so like me and I am assuming also like you … they need to sense that the healing grace of God through Jesus Christ is not a myth but the reality of faith … the truth since the first human walked … the absolute solution heard by the thief on the cross who declared that he was deserving of the pain but Jesus did not attack him, point out his faults, lump him into the group who are deemed worthy of condemnation … no Jesus declared in those moments of pain and suffering “I tell you the truth, today, you will be with me in paradise.”  Jesus provided that refreshing cup … a cup we can provide to others.

It’s so easy to use our words; our actions; and our attitudes to extend our legs out to trip others … isn’t it … rather than refresh those who might have stories we don’t want to hear; have skin tones that don’t match ours; have accents that cause us to strain to listen; or who think in ways we don’t agree with in the least?  We are human … we live in human circles in this life … but brothers and sisters I am hear to remind you that today you are amongst the blessed; you are amongst the living; you are one of those living in this world who actually has heard the words of Jesus Christ; who has acknowledged that there is a difference but today … today I am hear to declare that you can and need to be part of the cure; the healing; the change makers who revolutionize society by standing up for those who hurt; walking with those who are different; and embracing those rejected by the powerful; the loud and boastful, and those who thrive on hate and separation but to do that you too must be cured … you need to be healed.   God has provided Jesus Christ … teacher and Savior … last week at the baptism of Greyson and Charlotte this church declared your faith but have you taken on Jesus?  God’s love?  Made it the essence of you?

Timing … have you ever wondered why in the moments we live you do certain things at a certain time when you could have done the same thing earlier or later?  Well, last night I knew why I waited … why I waited to watch the DVD of I Can Only Imagine; the story of Bart Millard’s life.  Mary Ann had lent the DVD to me over a month ago but last night was the time.  If you don’t know the story … it’s about Millard who is the lead singer of the Christian band MERCY ME.   They continue to be one of the most successful Christian recording artists of all time and their one song is the most popular contemporary Christian songs.

Truthfully, the movie is not about Millard as much as it is about God and Jesus Christ’s impact on lives.  Millard lived in hurt, pain and struggle in a way he couldn’t tell anyone about because the source was his abusive father.  From the time he was 9 or 10 Millard was beaten with regularity and verbally abused … his mother ran leaving Bart alone and more than likely afraid to tell anyone what was happening.  You’ll have to rent, buy, or borrow the DVD to get the entire story but Bart’s dad found Christ … Bart found the capability in his dad’s last days to understand his need to forgive his dad but more importantly Bart knew he had to be part of the cure.  When his dad died … Bart Millard found that in his note pads through the years he had written the words I can only imagine .. imagine … imagine … over and over again and in less than an hour the song I Can Only Imagine came to him.


Just this past week … my friend Maddie; an incredible woman of faith whom I met at what I call KESWICK but others call the MidWinter Advance when she preached to 200 teenagers while she was a student in college; a woman of incredible faith who showcases Jesus each day … Maddie opened up publicly how she was sexually assaulted and when she attempted to tell others they blamed her because the male who attacked her was a good boy; he couldn’t do it and frankly why didn’t she speak up after it happened rather than waiting weeks … well she was hurting; still is hurting and no nothing was done to the man who may have attacked others in addition to Maddie.  Jesus and God she says has helped her but she still hurts.

My friend Pastor well I can’t share her name … a woman called by God to pastor and preach was attacked by a leader of a church she served.  She was threatened by him that no one would believe her; that he would use his wealth to ruin her; and that the church would be ruined so with the exception of a small prayer group of clergy friends who have promised to allow her to decide … she remains silent; is hurting; and this week posted words on social media that those of us in the know understood were about her hurt so some of us called but she didn’t answer … I know she can relate to the news and is torn.  Thankfully she was able to move onto a new wonderful church filled with healing but they do not know how much their pastor is hurting.  She is another #METOO story all too true and filled with hurt each day behind her smile.

James writes, “If any of you are suffering … they should pray.”  But, James also writes, “If any of you are happy … they should sing.” 

God is the ultimate healer … God’s love is the source of Salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ.  But, here on earth … each person who claims the name of Jesus has a choice we can join in the world’s attempt to trip up others or … we can be part of the cure.  We can hug, we can listen, we can pray, and through our words, our actions, and even our thoughts because all too often what we are thinking shows up in our faces … we have within ourselves to help bring sinners back from the wrong path but we most definitely can offer a cup of water in love bringing someone in rather than pushing them away.  The FIRST STEP is love … simple and complete and we each know what love is.

So, one day will you be bowing before Jesus?  Dancing?  Singing hallelujahs if are able sing at all?  Can you imagine that day?  Well until we reach glory … Jesus has told us what to do and it is to pick up our cross and follow Jesus by rejecting the world and being part of the cure for God. AMEN

Watch a video of today’s worship service:


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