thoughts on a Wednesday…

Ever have one of those days/series of days, where it seems like you hear about the same thing from 10 different & totally unrelated sources? Me too. Last weeks accountability post was birthed out of a long series of interactions with people on the idea of ‘men’s ministry…’ something that has been about as attractive to me as playing in a Sani-Hut – I’ve not identified in the slightest with the Promise Keepers type man events… & the very thought of going to a stereotypical ‘men’s meeting’ has never appealed to me – & hasn’t been something that I’d want to be a part of.

I know that there are those that think, “Hey, you’re a pastor. You should (or at least your church should) have a Men’s Ministry.” I don’t agree – doing something just because its expected or because “this is what churches do” isn’t valid reasoning to me – if I didn’t believe in it, why would I fake it?

Yesterday, I was given a book by a friend – called Samson & The Pirate Monks. I ended up finishing it last night, & I would heartily recommend it to you – esp. if you’re a guy who hates (translation: isn’t “INTO” mens stuff.) I think what the author has created & is living out is do-able & even transferable from location to location… & sounds like something that I would want to go to, to prioritize, to evangelize about…

Friendship is a two-way street… It used to bug me when it seemed like I was carrying both sides of a relationship…. & it never occurred to me that if I was the only one calling, writing, trying to get together/keep in touch, that maybe, just maybe what we had wasn’t actual friendship. And when I came to that realization, rather than getting bugged or worked up, I had my epiphany & embraced it.

On that note, I’m ‘reminiscing’ about the Guy who came to our house for a College Group meeting… musta been about 5 years ago now. He came with his girl, & sat down at our kitchen table. He stood out because instead of facing the people in the room, he faced the wall. At least 3 people attempted to talk to him at various points in the meal, but its a hard thing to A) have a 1-way conversation, & B) to talk to someone who won’t look at you & is facing the wall. It was weird.

We moved from the kitchen to the living room, & the Guy, with his girl, left. Walked out. Hmm. More strange things afoot at the Circle K, but hey, there are all kinds of people in the world, & I just met one.

After the meeting, I checked my email, & lo & behold! I had received an email from the Guy. It was a long one; so long that I printed it out to be able to read the whole thing. He was writing to upbraid me & our clique of ‘so-called Christians’ – because he hadn’t been made to feel welcome. (Why it took 3 pages of vitriol & venom to say that, I don’t know, but it did.) It fired me up – because I saw what had happened that evening… normally, I would have just let it go, let it lie, but not this time. I wrote back a short response – & told him that I had a different perception of that evening, of the people in attendance, & also the responsibility that every single one of us has to ‘engage’ at some level.

Its a hard thing to watch.

I think that the christianity that I grew up on doesn’t reflect Biblical Christ-following, in that a large part of the emphasis has been on one’s “personal relationship with God through Jesus,” which has morphed into a “private” relationship with Jesus… as though we can work on & through a ‘relationship with God & Jesus” apart from interacting with people.

In actuality, my relationship with Christ is SHOWN by how I interact with others – how I treat my family. The way I value & show respect to others, even when (especially when?) they don’t agree with me. Its a farce to think that I can go read my Bible, pray, & then treat the humanity around me like crap, all the while thinking, “I’m growing as a christian.”

I think there’s a few posts in there.

My stomach hurts & I’m a little frustrated… or maybe disappointed. Not sure I can put a finger on it, or even if I need to.


My last post (more of a “sentence” than a post,) was penned late at night while I was pondering something – rejection – something I know that I’m not alone in having experienced. I even have probably dished out a bit of it myself, albeit unknowingly. Anyhow, I was thinking about rejection, both from the aspect of experiencing a recent & fresh dose of it, & also from the standpoint of Jesus Christ being intimately familiar with it Himself.

When I think about the sufferings of Christ, the first thing that comes to mind is His suffering leading up to the cross – being scourged by the Roman soldiers, beaten with sticks & fists, forcibly being fitted with a crown of Jerusalem thorns… & finally being nailed to the cross.

But Jesus’ suffering wasn’t limited to the cross… in doing a little digging, you can see that His suffering was something that was experienced in every area of life. I re-read Isaiah 53 the well known prophecy about the ‘suffering servant’, a passage that foretold the suffering of Christ on the cross. However, something else in the passage caught my eye:

My servant grew up in the LORD’S presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. vv2,3

He was despised and rejected? Acquainted with the bitterest grief? I dug some more – & read through the gospels doing a word search for “rejection” & “suffering” – what I found was:

  • Matthew 10:24-26 – on the subject of suffering – if/since Jesus (the master) suffered, all of His followers will suffer as well.
  • Matthew 21:42 – Jesus was the ‘stone that the builders rejected,’ the One who has since become the Cornerstone (the main stone of a building, upon which all of the walls are based…)
  • Mark 6:1-5 – upon returning to His hometown of Nazareth, & revealing Himself as the Messiah, it says that Jesus was rejected at Nazareth – by the people who knew Him best.
  • Mark 9:12 – Jesus prophesied to His disciples that He, the Son of Man would go through sufferings & be treated with contempt
  • You can see more on this if you check out Luke 2:34; 9:22; 17:25…
  • Other thoughts race through my mind – Jesus’ family thought He was crazy, out of His mind, & came to Him while He was teaching in order to “put Him away…”

    After pouring His life out for 3 years to His disciples, one of them, Judas Iscariot, betrays Him to the Jewish leaders/Roman soldiers for 30 pieces of silver, the going price for an ox. An ox! The Son of God sold for the price of livestock. On top of that, when He was arrested, every one of His disciples ran away from Him, abandoning Him. Worse, when confronted with the opportunity to be associated with Jesus, Simon Peter denied that he even knew Jesus, 3 separate times. To a servant girl.

    In Romans 5, we’re encouraged that we should “rejoice in our sufferings, because they produce in us endurance…” And Paul, a man well acquainted with suffering & rejection, reminds us in 8:18 that the sufferings of this present time, any & everything we go through, is not even worth comparing with the glory that is awaiting us in Christ… He even says:

    I want to know Christ & the power of His resurrection & the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like Him in His death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead… Philippians 3:10

    He wants to know Christ – even if… WHEN it means the sharing of the same sufferings Christ endured.

    Later, Peter, the same Peter who betrayed Jesus Christ, writes to Christ-followers going through life’s wringer, saying:

    Do not be surprised at the fiery trial taking place – to test you– as though something strange were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so you may be glad & shout for joy when His glory is revealed. If you are rejected & hated for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you… if you suffer as a Christ-follower, rejoice, because you bear His name…

    The rejection & suffering that Christ endured went far beyond the cross – & often came at the hands of those He knew best, those closest to Him – His family & the people in His hometown.

    It gives me great courage & encouragement, peace & faith, to know that Christ endured this type of rejection as well, being hated, & reviled, abandoned, & denied… & He endured to the end, through it all, & gives us an example to follow – one filled with grace, healing, restoration, & life.

    Rejection hurts -& we’re promised suffering if/since we follow Christ… yet in the middle of all of it, God gives us grace to endure; to persevere. To bring glory to Him.