Pushing through the Pain

This weekend we celebrated graduates. Given the chance, I took some time to offer a bit of advice on how to survive a college experience in an environmental that is increasingly openly hostile to orthodox expressions of the Christian faith with that faith in tact. Thanks for reading and congratulations to the graduates!

Pushing through the Pain

Although the number of years between now and then is getting larger all the time, I still remember my first few days at college. I don’t remember every single detail, but I remember some key events and the way I felt during the week. I was excited like any incoming freshman is, but mostly I remember wondering what I was supposed to do now. Fortunately, I met some really great people early on and made some connections that are still paying dividends. 

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Morning Musing: Mark 8:38

“For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been really ashamed of something? When I was in seventh grade math class one time I passed gas. Loudly. There was really no denying where the sound came from. It was like something out of a middle school coming of age movie. I could have been Greg Heffley from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. I wanted to crawl inside my backpack and hide. Fortunately, I had befriended one of the kids in the class who everybody else thought was kind of weird. He spoke up loudly and said, “Man, I’ve done that before,” and somehow that held back the wave of ridicule that was building and nothing ever came of it. I’m still not sure how I managed to escape a month’s worth of ribbing over it. Let’s change the question a bit: Have you ever been ashamed of someone? That’s a different animal, but one to which Jesus draws our attention here. Let’s listen in because what He says here matters.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 8:34

“Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the lessons in English class that was always a bit more challenging than the rest for me was identifying various figures of speech. The reason for this is that there are so many different kinds of figurative language and the difference between some of them can seem pretty slight. The real trick, too, is that all of the different categories of figurative language are simply multiple ways of saying the same thing: the author didn’t mean what he wrote and he wrote it that way to more effectively and creatively make his point. Does it really matter if this sentence functions more like a simile or is a metaphor being slapped down on the table for you to understand what I’m saying? (Did you see what I did there?) Well, while naming various kinds of figurative language is good to be able to do, recognizing them when we see them is better. And in this verse, Jesus is using figurative language…or is He? Whether He is or not, He certainly got the attention of His audience. He should have ours as well.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 12:2-3

“Look, I will make Jerusalem a cup that causes staggering for the peoples who surround the city. The siege against Jerusalem will also involve Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who try to lift it will injure themselves severely when all the nations of the earth gather against her.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

I want you to imagine something for me for a minute. Imagine that you are part of a people who have known persecution. No, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been able to get a good parking spot at the mall in ages. It means that you have been regularly and intentionally made the victim of injustice and prejudice for a long period of time. Victimhood is part of your psyche in a way people who don’t think through a lens of persecution can’t understand. It was taught to you by your parents—even if unintentionally—and you have taught it to your own children because your people are victims so often that you simply assume you’ll be a victim at some point even if it hasn’t happened yet. Got it in your mind? Depending on the color of your skin or the country in which you were born that may not take much work to imagine. Now, here’s my question: What is it that you want? Zechariah here gives us one answer.

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Digging in Deeper: Acts 19:20

“In this way the word of the Lord flourished and prevailed.” (CSB – Read the chapter

Have you ever watched a movie, gotten to the “and they lived happily ever after” part, and thought, “There’s got to be more to that story”? So often, when a movie ends—especially a romantic comedy—it ends at a point where there is still a whole lot left to sort out between the characters. We’re just to assume love will work everything out. The fact is, in the real world, life keeps going. Here in Acts, we see this incredible victory by the believers in the city of Ephesus and for me at least, it gets me thinking there has to be more to the story. Well, there is. 

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