Holy Interruptions


As we began Week 4 of our 2017 WESTPAC Deployment, we dug into Mark’s Gospel in a sermon series called Surprised by Jesus. We were challenged to see interruptions in life, in a new Kingdom Way, as something that may be even holy. Designed by God for our Good.

Today’s Replenishment at Sea (RAS) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) were a  surprise for all of us. Not originally scheduled for Sunday, our “Holiday Routine” as we call it, Somehow they also coincided with the exact hours we normally have worship services on the ship. Causing us to reschedule.  Last night XO even said, “Chaps, I’m sorry, I think we’re throwing a hand grenade into your Sunday Worship Schedule.”

It was a challenge for the Command Religious Program Specialist (RP2) and I! Kinda broke to pieces our plans a, b and c for potential worship times, as schedule kept shifting.

But, I think the VERTREP AND RAS underscore a message, friends, that God wants us to hear, “How do we respond when the unexpected happens?”

Do we think,

“God may be at work!” , “This is a person, I may be blessed by or need to bless” or do you charge on stressed and annoyed?

Honestly, how does it feel when we’re already busy and something else gets added to the plate? Someone comes and says I need “this” now! Or the Facebook message comes from home, “the car broke down”

Payment’s late ‘cause credit card expired. “Your child’s misbehaving, and is considered being expelled!”

It’s that feeling that too many days are being crammed into one hour? Maybe even at times like God is into trashing our perfectly good plan. A cosmic “recalculating” reverberates just when you thought you were getting in the groove.

So what do we do? Throw an adult tantrum?

Go drink hard that weekend.
Smoke a pack of cigarettes in an hour or two.
Cuss out a subordinate for their failure—you know crap just travels downhill right?
Save up frustration to expend in compromising ways at a port visit?
Or maybe even suspend COMMs with God for an undetermined amount of time until we’re ready –nurse a grudge.

OR do we take it in, then gulp down some big exhilarating, wild-breath-of life-kind-of-air, and in FAITH say, “God you are up to something in this, it’s a DIVINE interruption I believe, its going to be a holy interruption for good, I know it”

This is how Jesus lived. We see it on display in the book of Mark. Let’s take a look.

MARK 5:21-36

  1. 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.
  2. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet.
  3. And implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”
  4. And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.
  5. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,
  6. And who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse
  7. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.
  8. For she said, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.”
  9. And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
  10. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”
  11. And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
  12. And He looked around to see who had done it
  13. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told the whole truth.
  14. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
  15. 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?
  16. But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Here in the passage, even in the midst of His great authority, power, foreknowledge and momentum– In this movement that was steadily revealing the kingdom of the living God– We see orchestrated what seems an operational pause diverting the plan that was unfolding (with force) in Mark’s Gospel.

And Why?

To show those closest to Him—the Twelve,
To show a tormented broken woman,
And a frightened Dad,

That God is SOVEREIGN IN THE STOPS! That He is actually, not only in control of them, BUT IN THE MIDST OF THEM.

These interruptions become opportunities for some of our most beautiful demonstrations of trusting faith when we don’t know what’s going to happen but we trust Him.

The interruptions also reveal His intervening power on our behalf.

Let’s shift gears and talk about our walk with Christ, and how it really is going for us following Him. Have you felt, maybe, yourself not quite alive, not excited to know Him as you used to? Stagnant? Dormant?

A good question to ask, then, may be—”Am I living a moment-by-moment obedience which is receptive to Divine Interruption?”

For this is actually the Kingdom Way and could explain why your faith is not being challenged or pushed.

We need to put “interruption” back on the “Menu” of our lives, not as nuisances but as critical to Christian obedience.

You may question this saying, “It’s easy to seem open to Divine Interruptions, if it’s a Spirit thing, but how do I know it’s God?”

Especially considering how extended high stress begins to change us in life.

Before, perhaps, you were open to the leading of His Spirit but now such holy interruptions aren’t so welcome…

-after the third flat tire.
-Or news that your child needs special surgery.
-Or that your orders have been canceled
-Or you’re on a deployment separated from your loved ones and you just don’t feel like it that day.


Studying Our Passage

V. 24

The Synagogue Ruler, Jairus, is likely a Pharisee with some wealth. But we meet him here in desperate need. His daughter’s grave illness opened his heart to Jesus.

So a Primary Truth we can internalize here is that we need to take the opportunity to introduce people to Jesus in their pain. C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s Megaphone to Rouse a Deaf and Dying World.”

V. 25 Divine Interruption of His Mission to Help Jairus.

Often the most special ministry happens in the unexpected moments, interruptions, when we feel we’re too busy.  We already have an agenda…set. I mean doesn’t Jesus have a pretty important “customer” here in this synagogue ruler?

This is some “STRATEGIC MINISTRY” right? Maybe Jairus can help turn the tide of Negative Opinion these leaders have formed of Jesus.

We need to notice how intentional God was, to strike Peter, and his mentee Mark, with the circumstances that unfold here. Mark’s description of the woman with the issue of blood is very detailed compared to the people we see healed in this Gospel. Most of the them anonymous.

Her story. Her look. Her need, Her faith, captured Peter and the Disciples…It’s moving. We’ll come back to this.

V. 30 Jesus is teaching something about Himself; and about His Kingdom DNA, that we’re to live out.

HE STOPPED and then engaged the situation and the person with much tender care and intentionality.

Not a Nuisance or frustrating diversion! She is not an interruption to Jesus. She is a priority.

Do you feel the momentum of Mark…Miracle after Miracle, Just Deed after Just Deed, True Word after True Word.  Who is this man…

PETER will soon say in Chapter 8, “I believe you are Messiah, the Christ of the Living God”

There’s Inevitability, a sense of the unstoppable reality of Jesus’ coming revelation of glory and authority –you can feel the Kingdom that’s spoken of and glimpsed, will soon be seen in its sweeping immensity… the story is moving forward here with Jairus!!


How often do you need to stop, and ask, “Lord what is happening? Are you saying something to me? Are you up to something here?”

Through life,

Through unexpected circumstances that compound one upon another.

Through His Holy Spirit’s nudges to us.  And through God’s Word.  I want to be listening. Do you feel that challenge too?


V. 28 “She (just) touched his garment”

Desperate. Humble. Demonstrates quiet faith…belief in him

And we know, there was compassion in His eyes. And throughout God’s Word it’s there. Look for it. Expect it.  And when you talk to friends or those who see our Lord as hard.  Remember how he Stopped for a woman who desperately reached up at the end of her hope to touch the hem of His garment.

V. 29: “She had suffered much at the hand of ‘physicians’ and ‘quack doctors’

Likely I imagine, experimental therapies…or new wave spiritual remedies from local “new age” village ‘doctors’

Certainly at the hands of whomever, even upstanding Doctors of the day, it was uncomfortable. The procedures embarrassing.

Think of now and then.  Chemo. Multiple surgeries. Former practices debunked, like blood-letting. AND

She “had spent all she had.”

Expensive medical bills apparently aren’t just a 21st century American problem.

V. 29 “She had heard reports”

May I ask, “How did you first hear about Jesus?”

And for her do you wonder what the reports sounded like…? I do,

Let’s call the woman with the issue of blood, ‘Sarai’

Imagine with me the first report she heard.

“Sarai, there’s a man, a rabbi, a prophet from Nazareth who is casting out demons, healing the lame, and many, many other sicknesses…You should go see Him?  What if God still has a cure for you?”

Or, maybe, as she sweeps the entrance to her home, she overhears people moving by pushing their cart piled high with vegetables and fresh baked cakes for the local convenience mart…

“Did you hear about what Yeshua did for the Cohens? Young Itzahk is now so active his parents barely know what to do!!

Just last month he was his usual mopey, hobble around self, — never could use that left leg for support …

But now they can’t keep him from climbing trees, and tousling with the boys playing touch roundball…

When was the last time we saw such a move of God in Israel?”

V. 31 The Disciples were like, “Come’on Jesus let’s keep moving…these crowds are thick.

Imagine the Beatles trying to get from the chauffeured car and walk the red carpet into Radio City Hall …Everyone crushing in around and they’re just trying to get to the door.  How many must have wanted Jesus’ attention? Even called out for Him. So the Disciples THOUGHT they were doing what was best, because they were doing what was GOOD. JUST MAKE A BEE-LINE to Jairus’ home miles away, the thought. But what they didn’t know, as they questioned Jesus sensitivity to this interruption, is that so often, we must expect in our Christ-Following obedience that You will be questioned when you Embrace Holy Interruptions

V. 33

Why is she afraid?  The ESV Study Bible Notes explain that perhaps because she’s ceremonially unclean, having touched all these people to get to Jesus, she may have become a potential target for public anger and abuse

V. 34

And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

A Divine interruption saved the most vulnerable person in this true story…

And a Divine interruption also occasioned our salvation my friends

We may ask, “Jesus you love me, even me??”

“Yes, I do.”  Hear him say.

Just as His actions said to the woman with the issue of blood.
Thank you Jesus that you chose to stop, not to pass by our pain, our loss, our crippling shock at the COLD and BRUTAL nature of this fallen world.

But You saw me, each of us, and lifted us up!

Do you remember when you felt it?  When the Savior drew you gently? And said, “I love you, I choose You. Follow me, and I will make you a “Fisher of Men.”

Yes He gave purpose beyond what you hoped for. Life brighter than you’d ever known, and salvation forever rich, free and not accidental.

It cost Him, the Son of God, His very life on Calvary. He gave His life to give you Yours.

Let’s open our hearts to Him today. We’ll be, forever interrupted. And forever loved we’ll stand.


These sermons are written in the push and pull of operational service aboard CG-52, USS Bunker Hill. Preached for God’s glory and shared in Chapel each week to build up the believers aboard. Each one called by God and being equipped for remarkable things beyond our present understanding in the military and afterward.

Forgive the hum of nearly 100,000 Horsepower from the Gas Turbine Engines spinning ship’s shafts and propeller. It’s our background for worship from the deep.

Night Ops With 2-D Jesus


Aboard ship, plastic and metal are sorted and sent off-ship to be disposed of, but due to limited space we cast the bio-degradable excess food and paper waste overboard.

It’s kind of a cathartic heave that we call “Night Ops.” It has a finality to it, and is often done under the cover of darkness.

The Jesus Christ we meet in the book of Mark is so compelling that we must cast overboard the oversimplified Jesus we may have come to hold on to. The real 3-D Jesus, means to do away, lightning fast, with our misconceptions of Him and His kingdom. It’s not to shock us, but there’s fire in His eyes. It flows from the purity of His love that will not be muted, redirected or dampened. He must be for us the true Savior. There’s no domesticating Him, no making Him docile. For Jesus knows that such a 2-D Savior can’t save.

A 2-D conception of Jesus may come from Christmas and Easter stories we know.

The Miracle Baby in Bethlehem…
Or the picture of the Suffering Jewish Messiah we see on the cover of Time and Newsweek every Easter.

If we grew up in Sunday School or have read the Gospels, our conception is fuller.
He fed 5000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
He walked on water!
He healed the blind…
Was betrayed by Judas one of His most trusted friends.

But, I have a feeling, that over the years, our understanding of Jesus has flattened, become more comfortable than the true “Jesus”…he’s 2 dimensional. Not quite real-life.

So, my friends, you know those habits we want to kick during deployment?

carrying high debt on plastic,
living over-weight,
reversing animosity or coldness that’s come to harm our love relationships…

Let’s consider kicking another even more destructive pattern. Let’s do night-ops with the 2-D Jesus! Throw him far, and fast over the side for good.

Now’s the time to do it! As we get into the groove of early Deployment, we can recalibrate and correct. If we don’t, the sinful patterns in our lives that harm us and our loved ones will remain unreached.

But if we “night-ops” the 2-D Jesus, we’ll truly say hello to the real Jesus,
powerful, active,
even revolutionary and surprising…and be met by Him, in the pages of Mark as we study. Then experienced in real life, worshiped and obeyed, known intimately by us as God’s revealed only Son.

2-D Jesus can’t save me, or you. He’s too pliable, soft, conventional to be trusted as CO of your life, but the real Jesus is worthy to be Master. He’s Lord of Eternity. Let’s look for Him friends, and not settle till we do. If we do I’m convinced our faith will spring to life—

3-D Jesus will come to visit us and bring His Kingdom Life to the passageways, workspaces, ladder wells and berthing of this 567 foot warship that for over half a year of our lives is now home. He’s here. Present to change our lives for eternity.


As we set out studying Mark, here’s some background.

John-Mark wrote between 55-65 CE, most likely from Rome where he was a respected Church leader. He is describing the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that took place just 20-30 years before in Ancient Palestine.

Mark was a mentee of Peter’s, and a relative of Barnabas, a critical leader of the early church who was a close associate of the Apostle Paul.

Mark was bilingual, comfortable in Greek and Hebrew language and culture. His name reflects that, John being Hebrew and Mark, of Greek origin.

His Gospel often explains Jewish backgrounds to events, and translates the Aramaic words that Jews would have known. In this, we can sense that Mark wants to translate to his Roman audience who Jesus is.

Rome had a warrior culture based on ethics and law. Commoners could rise to great levels of leadership. You’ll notice in the book of Mark there are no genealogies pointing out Jesus’ pedigree to show a well-connected heritage. Jesus is the humble Son of Man.

Jesus, Mark wants us to see, is full of action. 18 miracles are recorded, while the parables mentioned are only 4.

This Jesus speaks and means it.
He confronts the powers that be.
Stirs the pot.

Awes his disciples and the crowds. He would have impressed many Romans too. John-Mark writes assured of this.
Some themes of Mark are how the cost of discipleship will involve suffering but lead to victory and freedom.

When we observe Jesus’s surprising authoritative actions we should ask “Who is this man?” And…as we find ourselves surprised by His actions or reactions, also ask, “did I know this about Jesus?”

Our Text for Today: Mark 1:21-28

Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—The Holy One of God!”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”

And when the unclean Spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.

Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him.”

And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.”

As we meet Jesus, early on we find–He’s got guts! Jesus didn’t go into the Synagogue the way the establishment might expect a bright new teacher to break the ice, methodically and respectfully building a name for himself, quoting lots of great Rabbis and giving his own unique spin. No, the Jesus, Mark introduces us to, went in to smash tablets!

Here in the synagogue, in his first public appearances, He’s not the soft spoken, gentlemen scholar…

Don’t picture Jesus pushin’ up rounded glasses on his nose, wearing a long robe and nasally offering up some words hesitatingly:

“I think maybe we’ve begun to stretch just a little too far our understanding of Sabbath requirements…

You know, why don’t we, ahem (nervously)

Consider a slight, ahem,

Course correction to our theology…and remember its, uh,

important to do good on this date, the Sabbath, too.

And remember, ahem,

(clears throat searching for approval from the prying eyes of the encircling Scribal Lawyers and impassioned towering Pharisaic Rabbinical Teachers)

Why the Good Lord made this day in the first place.

But NO. This won’t be Jesus’ way. He’s not political. The Real Jesus, 3-D Jesus is forthright.

With a few words and big deeds, Jesus upends these debaters–Scholars and legal geniuses, steeped in Judaism’s ever expanding oral tradition. He knows how to get his point across and he does it boldly, fearlessly. It’s love. But in a love-way we’ve never known.

Pure as fire.

Pure as the gaze of One who has no ill-intention, whatsoever. But who will not be derailed, distracted, moved even an inch from the truth, the surgical seismic shift that the Kingdom brings.

No, with a SHOT across the bow he speaks out!

STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND! Healing done. (Mark 3:1-6)

DEMON. OUT! And QUIET! Unclean Spirit tears outta there. (Mark 1:21-28)

Nope, this is not the Swedish Jesus with the Beauty Sash that Pastor Rob Bell warned us about. This is the Jesus who can save lives, even Yours and mine.

     NOTE: ‘A shot across the bows’ derives from the naval practice of firing a cannon shot
    across the bows of an opponent’s ship to show them that you are prepared to do battle. A
warning shot, either real or metaphorical.

One Scholar says that there’s such fast movement to Mark, from scene to scene; immediately this, then THAT happened…(42x “immediately—euthus” in Greek is used) it’s as if Mark is breathless and can barely contain the news. Because it’s not meant just for Him, for Jerusalem and Israel who first heard it, or just for Rome…it’s news of the in breaking of the Savior for everyone. The Heaven’s are rent. All is changed. The Lord has come down. (Isaiah 64 and Mark 1:9-11.)


The next 4 weeks we’ll look at the 16 chapters of Mark’s Gospel. Four each week. We’ll get close up to Jesus, where His troubling and surprising actions can force us to consider who He really is. And what His Lordship in our own lives, aboard Bunker Hill, are to mean.

From the first four chapters I encourage you to think about the following surprises of Jesus’ Kingdom way and Kingdom message.

-His Confrontational Lordship

(Mark 3:20-30 Searing, Fearless Return of Fire to the Powerful Opposition)

-His Unlikely Choice of Followers

(Mark 1:16-20 the Four Fishermen, Mark 2:13-17 The Tax Collector)

-His Rare Determination and Intentionality

(Mark 1:35-39) I must go to other towns…

-His Willingness to Break with Tradition

(Mark 3:1-6, Healing on Sabbath)

(Mark 2:23-27 Picking Heads of Grain on the Sabbath)

-His 3-D Humanness & Personality

        (One of the Key Functions of God giving us 4 Gospels…is we receive not four ancient
        “photos”of Jesus but four Holy Spirit-breathed portraits, supernaturally designed to                  bring out the texture in the personality of our Lord. )

-Surprised by Indignation:

(Mark 1:40-41) (NIV)

-His righteous Anger:

(Mark 3:1-6)   (Pharisees’ Stubborn Lack of Mercy, Hardened view of God’s Torah)

-His Being Impressed by others’ Faith:

(Mark 2:1-12)

-The Wide Inclusion of All in His Message

(Mark 2:13-17 Eating with Tax Collectors and Sinner)

-His Culminating Messianic Entrance –Rejected though Perfect in Time and Space

          (Mark 1:9-11)

         At His baptism, the scene perfectly portrays God’s prophetic promise fulfilled. He
has come down to rend the heavens (Isaiah 64:1-5)

        We also encounter a suffering servant to lead Israel (Isaiah 40:3) (Malachi 3:1)

Challenge: Read through the first 4 chapters of Mark this week.

Prayer: Lord, I’m doing some Night-Ops as I begin deployment (or whatever new faith-demanding venture you’ve begun). I’m chucking the 2-D Jesus that can’t change my life or save me. That 2-D Jesus is going deep down with a cannon-ball crash into the South Pacific. Instead, I’m getting on my knees, imploring you to reveal to me the Real Jesus Christ, revealed by John-Mark in Your Word. This Jesus, though I’m frightened to commit to it, I will serve and obey, if only You’ll reveal Him to me by your loving, HOLY, ever-present Spirit. Amen.


9/11’s Song

Roommates told me, “Plane hit the Towers!”
College Chaplain led us in 46th Psalm next hour.
Couldn’t stay put. America attacked??
Took to Chicago’s Metro praying on that.

On the steps of Sears Tower,
We grieved. We wondered, and rocked.
Jumping. Jumping!? The horror.
Stew lost his friend… & 2996 lights went out.

In Bryant Park–Manhattan–next summer,
A little girl recited, memorializing, in Pain.
Her youth assaulted forever again.
16 years later hope she writes & loves on.

To all Warriors who took up arms,
To all who lost loved ones and mourn,
To Americans who became neighbors that day–
The Message resounds.

May favor touch the lost in New York.
Flames can’t reach our Founder’s Work.
Flight 93… your Courage roll beats
Fear from Somerset’s fields and me.

North and South Tower forged heroes
of Husbands, Sisters, Sons & Mothers Gone.
Sacrifice bore a new tune from an old song,
“We Though Many Are One.”