Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Suffering. Joy.

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Pastor David was out of town, Sunday, and our sermon was delivered by Mike Drewry, whom I'll admit to liking, in part, because he reminds me of my brother.  His mannerisms aren't quite as similar to my brother's as the Peter Krause "Adam" character on Parenthood, but Mike looks more like my brother than Peter Krause, and--since NBC doesn't bring Peter Krause to me in the summertime--I was happy enough to have my brother's lookalike.

Not to mention: Mike Drewry can come on with the Word!  He preached, once, on the scene in which Jesus flips over the moneychangers' tables, but--instead of focusing on Jesus's righteous anger, as most are wont to do--Mike brought out Jesus's words: "My house shall be a house of prayer," and how no other activity within the church surpasses prayer in importance.  He went on to remind us: our very bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that, as such, we should make ourselves houses of prayer.  It was a beautiful sermon; I didn't take notes that day, but I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Anyway, this past Sunday, Mike preached out of Hebrews 10:32-36.  Now, Jim's and my small group recently studied Hebrews, and--as stoked as I was, going into the study--I didn't really enjoy Hebrews until the end (Chapters 11-13).  Most of Hebrews is repetitive...and not particularly "feel good."  Mike's sermon wasn't feel good, either, but I knew it wouldn't be (coming out of Hebrews 10), and he gave us fair warning.

Mike preached about suffering and how we should "be willing and ready to let it all go for the sake of Christ and His Word."  He talked about how we tend to embrace Christianity only so far as it improves our lives.  For example, he noted that giving up illicit sex and alcohol in excess makes our lives better.  Being thrifty and kind makes our lives better.

But we tend to pause when living out our faith brings about affliction, pain, loss, suffering.  Death.

I wish I'd been quick enough--with the stubby, eraserless pencil I borrowed from the pew--to jot down all of Mike's scripture references and quotes  ('Twas a very meaty sermon!), but I got the main idea, I think.  Mike said he found jolting the joy of those losing their property in Hebrews 10:34, and he talked about affliction as being the means to working out joy because we know something better awaits.  He reminded us: Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  Mike also shared a meaningful quote from Christian martyr Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Not a feel-good sermon, but a call for action, and God had prepared my heart and mind to respond.  I'm in the questioning stage, now, and spending some time in the Word.  My kicking off point?  Nehemiah 8:10b: "The joy of the Lord is your strength."  I'm looking forward to sharing with you, later, some of what I learn.  Pray for me, as I pray for you.

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