A Riveting Sacrifice

11-08-11 © traveler1116, courtesy of iStockphoto

The merit of all things lies in their difficulty.

~ Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

 

Rosie the Riveter was a bandana-clad woman who became an inspiring icon of the American spirit. She represented those women who served their roles alongside the soldiers fighting in World War II.

And what image did she display to emphasize her effort? The bared arm.

  • God saw a need for redemption.

Mankind’s war effort against its own sinfulness was a lost cause. The Lord knew this. He didn’t just come alongside our struggle as Rosie did; He assumed all responsibility for winning that war.

This was the most difficult task for an all-powerful God. To demonstrate the sincerity of His effort, Isaiah portrayed God with His arm bared:

 

The Lord has made bare His holy arm


In the eyes of all the nations;

And all the ends of the earth shall see


The salvation of our God.

~ Isaiah 52:10, NKJV

As we focus on this passage, we discover many truths.

  • Redemption required great exertion.

The Judean attire of that day didn’t cover the arms like long-sleeved shirts and jackets of our day do. The outer robes tended to flap and could be disruptive to hard labor for the workman; even more, to a soldier engaged in hand-to-hand combat.

Thus, a person of action rolled up his sleeves to have full use of his extremities in times of exertion or battle. Isaiah’s metaphor helped the people of his day see with what effort God intended to act.

Sin holds a death-grip on all of us. For God to redeem us, He had to perform a feat that only He could. And He did.

  • Redemption required a decisive choice.

Since the clothing didn’t recede naturally on its own, a laborer or soldier had to use his other hand to manage the sleeves on each side. The decision was purposeful; the action followed. Just so, God took the necessary measures to fulfill His desire.

  • Redemption required complete exposure.

The Judean workman exposed his shoulder to perform the work he had to do. The Hebrew term for arm indicated the entire limb, extending from the shoulder to the fingertips. Thus, we see that God gave it His all to save us.

  • Redemption came from the One who judged.

He revealed His holy arm in judgment against our sin so that we could see the salvation He pointed us toward – that which came through the One He judged in our stead: His Son.

The Elevation Worship song, “Raised to Life,” proclaims:

 

Sin was strong

But Jesus is stronger.[1]

Amen!

 

Have you ever considered God’s riveting sacrifice to pay for our sins?



[1]  Steven Furtick, Matt Redman, Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Raised to Life, Elevation Worship, © 2013, by Provident Label Group, LLC, CCLI # 7011534, http://elevationworship.com/onlykingforever/raisedtolife/

 

 

 

What Was God’s Most Difficult Task?

The merit of all things lies in their difficulty.

~ Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

 

07-11-09 © James Brey, courtesy of iStockphoto

 

True followers of Christ believe in an all-powerful God. Among the faithful, there’s nothing He can’t do. But in a moment of crisis, we might sometimes wonder: is there something too difficult for God?

  • What’s the most difficult thing God had to accomplish?

Christians believe that the Lord created the heavens and the earth, the continents and the oceans, the mountains and the plains, the fish and the land animals, the polar bear and the giraffe, the albatross and the salamander. We acknowledge He made mankind in His image – that He’s numbered every hair on our head and the subatomic particles in between our toes.

  • Nothing was too difficult for the Creator.

Not the Milky Way or the rings of Saturn. Not the earth or the sun that warms it. Not the complexities of the human eye. Not the T-Rex or the Dodo. Not El Nino or La Nina. Not the Beluga or the sand dollar. They’re all part of God’s magnificent creation.

  • God didn’t even break a sweat when He spoke them into existence.

Genesis 1 – 2 recounts for us that God willed it, and everything in Nature that we see and that we’ve never seen He created ex nihilo – from nothing. How did He do it? With these words: God said… and there was…

  • David describes God’s effort as mere finger-work.

 

When I observe Your heavens,


the work of Your fingers,


the moon and the stars,


which You set in place…

~ Psalm 8:3, HCSB (emphasis mine)

 

For the above phrase, the psalmist employed the Hebrew term, ‘etsba’  – meaning, that God’s creation of everything around us was mere finger-work. Most would consider such activity as monotonous, not laborious. Most would associate such a task as beneath them – but not God. His creation declared His glory, and it was easy for Him.

  • What then was God’s most difficult task?

Isaiah informed us:

 

The Lord has made bare His holy arm


In the eyes of all the nations;

And all the ends of the earth shall see


The salvation of our God.

~ Isaiah 52:10, NKJV

 

The Lord bared His arm to provide for our salvation. Isaiah employed the Hebrew term, chasaph, for bare, which means: to exert oneself.

Thus, the prophet painted a word picture that indicated when God chose to redeem mankind, He had to roll up His sleeves for an exhausting task.

  • It was the most difficult thing an all-powerful, holy God could do.

It’s the most difficult thing He will ever do. And He did it so all the world could see the salvation He alone provides.

The Hand of God

The heavens declare the glory of God,


And the sky proclaims the work of His hands.

~ Psalm 19:1, HCSB

Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.

 

 

According to Captain Kirk, space is the final frontier to be explored. Great wonders exist throughout its expanse. People search the great unknown for signs of life beyond our own, and all they find screams of a Life far greater than our own.

What they discovered is a beautiful array of debris and gases displayed in our universe.[1] The colorful creation appears suspended against the ebony backdrop of space. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what appears to be a hand reaching out toward the darkness beyond.

This photo captured this heavenly spectacle for the world to see.

  • The exhibition occurred because a star died.

When the star exploded, it scattered gases and rubble in various directions. New x-ray technology enabled NASA astrophysicists to capture the debris field in never-before-seen images.

  • The cosmologists didn’t comprehend how right they were.

In naming this phenomenon The Hand of God, the scientists reminded us of who God is and what He has done for us.

  • The Giver of life is the Bright Morning Star.

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches.

I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”

~ Revelation 22:16, HCSB

 

God sent His Son, the Bright and Morning Star, to die for our sins. Because of our depravity, we nailed Him to a Roman cross, for the whole world to see. Millions witnessed it. Both secular and religious writers discussed it. No legitimate scholar can deny that Jesus died just such a death.

  • His executioners nailed His hands to that cross.

In The Hand of God, we see a remarkable depiction of the likeness of Jesus’ hands that day. In the vicinity where a Roman nail would’ve pierced the Savior’s hand, we see a prominent light formed.

  • The hand of God changed an unbelieving heart.

In just such a wound as depicted in the stellar phenomenon, Thomas placed his finger in the Savior’s hand, losing all doubt to the power of the Risen Savior. In that dark abyss where doubt had cast him, the Light of God’s glory shined anew.

  • The hand of God had reached into the darkness to save him.

This stellar phenomenon reminds me that He did the same for all mankind, but so very few accept His extended hand of saving grace.

 

Have you ever placed your faith in the hand of God?


[1] Tanya Lewis, “’Hand of God’ Spotted by NASA Space Telescope (Photo),”

January 09, 2014, http://www.space.com/24225-hand-of-god-photo-nasa-telescope.html, retrieved 02/02/14.

How Do We Know God’s Will?

Let us know,

Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.

~ Hosea 6:3, NKJV

 

04-25-07 © Kuzma, courtesy of iStockphoto

How do we as Christians obtain knowledge?

This question has plagued theologians, philosophers, and every Christian. Experts debate such queries with verbose and confusing language, while no one provides an answer.  Yet, Scripture notes three important concepts that provide the answer for us.

  • First, we must desire it.

Solomon faced a daunting task: replace the greatest king of Israel’s history. He was but a young man; thus, he knew he couldn’t do it without God’s help. He entreated the Lord:

 

“So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people

and to discern between good and evil.”

~ 1 Kings 3:9, HCSB

 

God gave to Solomon wisdom because he sought the Lord for it. God honored his request for discernment over riches and power. (1 Kings 3:7-28; 4:29-34) And even today we consider Solomon to be one of the wisest of the wise. That’s true only because he desired it of God.

  • Second, we must listen to the Holy Spirit.

God will enlighten those who seek Him in spirit and in truth

Without the Holy Spirit’s influence, all we would know would be what our weak, worldly minds could comprehend. We’d be prisoner to our physical and emotional frailties, and we’d never understand spiritual truths without His inner working.

Paul wrote:

 

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret.

For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvelous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God’s generosity towards us.

~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 (Phillips)

 

  • Third, we must study Scripture.

All of us have sought God’s will on more than one occasion. If we understand what God is up to, then we’ll delight in His work. The way we do that is through applying God’s Word to our lives. That’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to us – through Scripture.

David wrote:

 

I delight to do Thy will, O my God,

Thy Law is within my heart.

~ Psalm 40:8, NASB

In the original Hebrew version, the word is doesn’t appear. English scholars added the word to make a complete sentence, but a more literal reading would suggest that God’s will for our lives comes when His Word is within our hearts.

Study Scripture. Meditate on it – prayerfully, sincerely. That’s how we know God’s will for our lives.

  • God’s will isn’t a secret to those who follow these simple steps.

The Bible is God’s Word spoken to us as intimately as a father who whispers in the ear of his child. The Word of God is necessary if we are to know God’s will for our lives.

 

How has God spoken His will to you through Scripture?

The Great Unknown

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know.

There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.

But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

 ~ Donald Rumsfeld

09-16-12 © Sadeugra, courtesy of iStockphoto

Herbert Spencer gave us his theory of knowing, but the intellectual philosopher admitted he couldn’t know everything. Despite all that we know, there exists the unknown – just as Donald Rumsfeld and others have said.

As much as we’ve learned about our world, there’s so much we don’t know. Even Einstein admitted there was more than he could learn.

This query has puzzled humans for generations. It inspired Columbus in his voyage when he found a new world. It drove Martin Luther to his knees as he struggled to understand God’s righteousness. Hundreds joined NASA to explore the vast unknown – space.

  • Trekkies seek the answers in the last frontier.

William Shatner narrated this purpose before each episode:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Thus, astronomers find new stars and galaxies all the time. As vast as people think the universe is, we know it extends far beyond that. How far? No one knows.

  • Oceanographers delve into the unknown deep abyss.

Newer technologies allow us to go further that we’ve ever been. Odd-looking creatures. Giant squids. Species long-thought extinct. Living in anonymity with us.

  • Zoologists and botanists discover new species daily.

From colorful spiders to poisonous frogs, many new forms of life are found sharing our world. Scientists have reported recent sightings of a dinosaur-like creature lurking in the African jungles.

  • Geneticists seek to map the human genome.

After Watson and Crick reported their findings on DNA, researchers have spent millions of dollars and man-hours poring over this most basic of human structure. Yet, there is still much to be known.

  • Microbiologists seek answers in the smallest crevices.

What started with Louis Pasteur has spawned many scientific disciplines. Pharmaceuticals have become a gazillion-dollar industry pursuing the unknowns through the microscope.

  • Many other disciplines seek the unknown.

Electron microscopy. PET scans. MRIs. We’re constantly trying to understand what we don’t know, but our pursuits demonstrate there’s too much our finite minds cannot understand.

Why? Because we’re looking in all the wrong places for answers.

  • We don’t need a telescope or a microscope to know.

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything…

But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him.

~ Colossians 2:8-10, MSG

 

  • The problem: the Great Savior is unknown to most people.

Those of us who know Him must share Him with others by letting them see Him live through us. The one true God knows what is best even when we don’t, and He enlightens us with all we need to know in each and every situation. Nothing is unknown to Him.

 

Where do you go when you don’t know what to do?

Are We Too Smart for Our Own Good?

He’s too smart for his own good.

~ Anonymous

04-22-09 © MaximShebeko, courtesy of iStockphoto

My grandfather applied this idiom to anyone who boasted about his own intelligence. Granddaddy wasn’t an educated man. He dropped out in the second grade to work alongside his father, but he possessed as much wisdom as some of the most educated people I know.

  • Brainiacs sometimes outsmart themselves.

Herbert Spencer was just such an Einstein. His contemporaries considered him to be one of the most intelligent men of his day. A discipler of know-it-alls. An intellectual’s genius.

  • This nineteenth-century philosopher’s influence persists today.

Even though most don’t know who this man was, we don’t have to look far to see his impact. Among many things, he created the precursor to the paper clip, a little device that still collates all that knowledge in our possession.

Everyone from politicians to attorneys, bankers to educators, doctors to homemakers employ the Gem clip, and Spencer claimed to have birthed this ingenious invention of mankind.

  • Spencer also coined the phrase: survival of the fittest.

We know this expression from our education. Spencer was a contemporary of Darwin and a supporter of his theories. His catchphrase was his summation of Darwinian evolution. Academia parlayed his lingo into the modern classroom.

  • Even Hollywood entertains us with his paradigm.

Take the Jurassic Park series. The fast-paced thrillers are man’s efforts to survive in a hostile world, where only the wisest survive. Books. Movies. Theme parks. Millions upon millions entertained by Spencer’s assessment. His jargon far outlived him.

  • This genius also developed a theory of how we can Know truth.

His premise was simple: for something to be known required certain criteria. He opinioned that we just needed objective evidence of Time, Force, Action, Space, and Matter to know anything.

  • Spencer believed evolution was the key to this knowledge.

By obtaining knowledge of each element in his theory (time, force, action, space, and matter), nothing could elude a human’s capacity to recognize it. Or him. Or her.

  • Of course, science has discredited much of Spencer’s beliefs.

That is, in regards to his faith in evolution. The scientific community’s theories as to how life began continue to evolve – because scientists uncover data that prove previously held beliefs are riddled with fallacies and miscalculations. What evolutionists triumphed as truth a century ago wasn’t fit to survive modern research. Even in Spencer’s lifetime, people recognized errors in what Darwin, he, and others had promoted.

But his theory of how we can know truth still has some merit.

  • Spencer’s supplication argues against atheists and agnostics.

Atheists allege there is no God. Agnostics hem and haw that if God exists He can’t be known. Spencer probably agreed with one of these positions, but he’d have been wrong to do so if he applied his own theory of knowing truth.

  • Let’s put Spencer’s theory to the test:

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

~ Genesis 1:1, NKJV

 

In the beginning … TIME

God … FORCE

Created … ACTION

The heavens … SPACE

And the earth … MATTER

 

  • It’s true that we can know God and His Truth.

It seems Spencer’s theory holds true for how we can know our genesis … and how we can know God. And if we’re smart we’ll agree with God’s assessment of it all, for God called it all good.

I just hope we’re smart enough to recognize His good and don’t try to be too smart for our own good.

 

When it comes to spiritual things, are we too smart for our own good?


An “Oh, God!” Moment

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked.

For whatever a man sows he will also reap.

~ Galatians 6:7, HCSB

09-16-12 © Sadeugra, courtesy of iStockphoto

All of England watched as famed atheist Richard Dawkins riled against the Christian faith. The author of The God Delusion had done this many times before in speeches and in books. And he did no less during this national BBC telecast, attacking followers of Christ as being untruthful about their profession.

  • His claim: Christians didn’t treat the Bible as God’s Word.

He argued most “Christians” couldn’t name the first New Testament book. Even less could they recite other books of the Bible, which he found odd if Christians believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

  • His argument held some truth to it.

Many people who profess to be followers of Christ aren’t true to their claims. While professing Christians should be students of God’s Word, it’s not evidence of God’s inexistence when they’re not. It speaks more to insincere people who are faithless than it does to God’s existence or to the Bible’s Truth.

This is the problem: many who claim to be Christians aren’t. They’re pagans.

  • The smug skeptic thought he’d struck a major blow to Christianity.

The theologian who accompanied him on this program, a self-professed liberal, politely chided the atheist for his reasoning on this matter. Reverend Giles Fraser asked the famous nonbeliever if he could recall the entire title of Darwin’s magnum opus (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life).

  • Dawkins accepted the challenge.

He bragged that he could. The nihilist had always proudly proclaimed Darwin’s prima facie manifesto as his gospel.

  • Of course, he knew the full legend … or so he thought.

When Dawkins began naming the title, he recognized he couldn’t recall it. As he struggled to joggle his gray cells, he uttered the words on live television: Oh, God!

How embarrassing that had to be for an atheist.

  • Of all the words he could’ve said, God’s name just slipped out.

Michael Brown wondered if it could’ve been a Freudian slip. Another apologist assessed of this incident:

 

The ultimate evidence of the sovereignty of God is that even someone who doesn’t believe in Him calls upon Him to remind him of the name of the book that says He doesn’t exist.

~ Ravi Zacharias

 

  • Because an unbelieving world is watching us …

I’d caution all of us about how we use the term Christian. I’d also exhort us to treat God’s Word with the reverent attention He desires.

 

If you claim to be a Christian, do you treat the Bible as the Word of God? 

Rebel with a Cause

Pride … is not in wanting to be noticed but in wanting to be the most noticed.

~ Billy Graham

08-31-11 © Miha Peroša, courtesy of iStockphoto

He no longer attracted the attention he once had, nor did he draw standing-room-only crowds. Most of his fans had sought out another who had eclipsed him.

  • Many thought of him as a washed-out has-been.

But that’s not how he started out. When he arrived on the entertainment scene, he skyrocketed to be #1. No other contemporary could match his tenacious energy, and none could move the audience like he did.

  • Charisma and moxie exuded from him.

He stepped on the establishment’s toes with a brash freshness – at a time when everything seemed so faded and stale. Perhaps, that’s why everyone loved him. He possessed what others dreamed of having, and he used his God-given abilities in ways none had seen among his contemporaries.

  • He even inspired his own clothing line.

Many imitated his attire. Not because they were sincere – people just wanted to be like him. A rebel. A free spirit. A new breed.

  • But that was before people treated him as a one-hit wonder.

Many who looked back on his career as a forerunner of what could be. But now, his protégé eclipsed him. The masses all but forgot him.

  • And he was okay with that – a rebel with a cause.

He had never pandered to the crowds. He never sought the popularity he had achieved. His desire had always been to do his best with what God had given to him.

  • And he did just what he set out to accomplish.

When his disciples approached John the Baptist about his former followers now trekking after Jesus, he made a simple but profound statement that was at the heart of his ministry:

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

~ John 3:30, NKJV

  • It’s the same philosophy every Christian should live out daily.

Or, does our pride require life to be about us?

 

Are we willing to forego our interests to enable people to see Jesus?

ADD: a Christian Malady?

09-19-13 © ArtemSam, courtesy of iStockphoto

My daughter had what the family called a blond moment. She had recently dyed her hair a lighter shade – somewhere between vanilla and gypsum – when she said it. We knew it wasn’t really the hair color that made her proclaim something she wished she hadn’t, but we enjoyed teasing her all the same.

  • My daughter professed that her classmate had ADD.

We knew the friend well, but the revelation was new to us. We were very familiar with this diagnosis since physicians had treated several family members for the disorder.

  • It’s not that her disclosure shocked us.

It’s become chic to say one has ADD. Many parents and school officials push the pediatricians to get medications to improve the kids’ performances and behavior in school; according to experts, too many.

  • But that’s not what surprised us.

What astonished us was what our daughter thought Attention Deficit Disorder was. She misunderstood the condition.

She believed it’s what young people had when they sought to be at the center of attention. In her mind, teenagers doing things to gain popularity lacked for attention, and thus had ADD because they wanted their peers to “like” them the most.

  • If that were true, it’s a malady more common than we admit.

 

Supreme and abiding self-love is a very dwarfish affection, but a giant evil…

We erect the idol self, and not only wish others to worship, but worship it ourselves.

~ Richard Cecil

 

This eighteenth-century philosopher spoke of his observation of human nature. What was true in past generations is on full display today. Whereas such attitudes were limited to local affairs before, modern self-love is broadcast all over social media for the world to see today.

  • Even in Christian circles, it’s prominent.

How many congregations have in-fighting, cliques, and self-centered promotions?

How many of those conflicts occur because certain people are complaining because they have attention-deficit?

How many result because the pastors aren’t seeking their advice on matters?

  • They want their agenda “liked.”

Not only do they think their ways are best, but theirs is the only way they’ll accept. They gauge ministry success based on whether they’re at the center of the decision-making.

  • Just like many, they’re in denial about the real problem.

It’s always someone else’s fault. We hear it when they talk about it being my church. My Sunday school class. This is what I think so-and-so should do.

Maybe that’s the type of attention deficit my daughter was thinking about. For certain, it leads to division and disorder in the work God’s called us to do.

  • Scripture is clear who deserves the attention.

Jesus proclaimed about Peter’s confession that He is Lord:

 

And I also say to you that … on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

 ~ Matthew 16:18, HCSB (emphasis mine)

Instead of seeking favor here on earth, we should focus our attention on the One who deserves our worship instead.

Are we taking attention away from the Lord by focusing on our deficits or the deficiencies of others?

2014: the Year of Global Warming?

Milton has carefully marked, in his Satan,

 the intense selfishness

which would rather reign in hell

than serve in heaven.

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

03-19-04 © gremlin, courtesy of iStockphoto

Coleridge speaks of John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. The angel who was a worship leader in heaven fell from his position because of selfish pride.

2013 was the year of the selfie, but humanity is (and has always been) selfish by nature – following Lucifer’s lead in Eden and ever since. Just as it was in Bethlehem, we see this throughout Christ’s life … and in those who claim to follow Him now.

  • We see those closest to Jesus were selfish in the New Testament.

The Gospel writers portray the disciples as jockeying for positions in God’s kingdom. Everyone wanted to be first. It’s like they were warming up their singing voices by proclaiming: me, me, me.

  • We see selfishness in Gethsemane.

None of the disciples could stay awake even though the Lord pleaded with them to intercede for Him. Even as He agonized to the point of sweating blood, none remained with Him in prayer.

When the soldiers arrested their Messiah, it was each man for himself. They ran as far away from their Savior as they could.

  • We see selfishness in His Passion.

The high priests wanted Him dead so that He wouldn’t threaten their illegal activities. With Jesus out of the way, they’d remain little gods over their enterprise and over the religion they had feigned as the source of their righteousness.

And the formerly bold Peter had to eat his words of not denying the Messiah when he did just that for fearing a servant girl’s identification of him as a follower of Jesus.

  • We see selfishness as Christ agonized on Calvary.

Just as the Bethlehemites turned a deaf ear to Mary’s screaming with birth pangs, the people in Jerusalem did the same to the Suffering Servant’s agony.

If you want to understand the excruciating anguish that Jesus suffered, then I invite you to read Crushed: a Physician Analyzes the Agony of Jesus. This book describes the how, what, and why of Christ’s sacrifice to redeem us.

His anguish wasn’t silent or invisible. Everyone in the city that day heard and saw the brutal torture. But His followers remained mum.

  • Many are still running from Christ.

At a time, when people have come under attack for their Christian worldviews, now is not a time for silence. For those who would rather live in subjection to anti-Christian rhetoric and pressures here are choosing to succumb to the one who’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.

  • The selfless face fiery ordeals.

It’s time we wake up to realize Milton’s devil is alive and well on planet Earth. The true global warming’s coming from the fanning of hell’s flames all around us.

Those who take a stand will be tested by the fire. Take it from Peter who knew of what he wrote:

 

I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience. You should be glad, because it means that you are called to share Christ’s sufferings…

If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a great privilege, for you can be sure that God’s Spirit of glory is resting upon you…

If he suffers as a Christian he has nothing to be ashamed of and may glorify God in Christ’s name.

~ 1 Peter 4:12-16, Phillips