High School Valedictorian Makes News

Paula Hendricks 06/19/13 | Twitter: @PaulaWrites678
Category: Myself ; 11 comments

Earlier this month a high school valedictorian ripped up his approved speech and then proceeded to recite the Lord's Prayer in spite of the school district's ban on prayer. The response was . . . overwhelming. You can watch it here:


Whether you think Roy Costner IV's actions were right or wrong, you've gotta admit it was gutsy. He didn't know if people would cheer or physically remove him from the stage or worse.

Which brings us to Jesus' final—and possibly most mind-blowing—beatitude yet:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:10–12).

Let's break this beatitude down . . .

What It Means to Be Persecuted

"Blessed are those who are persecuted."

To be persecuted means to be pursued, but not the kind of pursuit you want from that cute guy in geometry class. This kind of pursuit is a relentless pestering, abusing, attacking. There seem to be two kinds: verbal persecution and physical persecution (Heb. 11:36).

Right—and Wrong—Reasons for Persecution

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake."

Sorry, but you won't be blessed if you're being persecuted for "talking smack" or acting foolishly. In Dorothy Patterson's words, "To offend the world, you do not have to be unwise in your choices or obnoxious in living your Christian faith. Just to be like Christ will bring persecution."

Why We Can Actually Look Forward to Persecution

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . . Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven."

No one I know wants to be mocked or hated or tortured or killed. But Jesus—who was mocked and hated and tortured and killed so you and I might be saved from God's wrath against our sin—promises us incredible reward to come when we suffer for Him. Not here and now, but for forever. And He would know, because He led the way:

"For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2, emphasis added).

The crowds won't always respond like they did this month to Roy Costner IV's graduation speech. In fact, Jesus tells us to expect just the opposite. Philippians 1:29 tells us salvation and suffering go together—they're a package deal:

"It has been granted [gifted] to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake."

So let's get ready to suffer together for Him. Stay tuned to the blog as we talk more about persecution. And let us know . . . is all this persecution talk new to you? Have you ever been persecuted for righteousness' sake—verbally or physically?

(Read the first beatitude in this series here.)  


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    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:36 am
    This is a really great story. It reminds me of being fruitful.
    I feel as if I am faced with a decision. A decision to choose between being a wife, home maker, a mother, OR, to go out on the mission field and start my ministry like I want to.
    loved it!
    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:29 am
    I actually know someone who knows this guy. Kuddos to him for stepping out of his comfort zone and witnessing for God's glory! I could have never done that but I'm glad he did! May God's name run in triumph!
    Paula Hendricks
    To Anon
    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 11:47 am
    Dear Anon,

    You may not have to choose between the two. All of life can and should be ministry as we seek to follow and love Jesus with all our hearts and love those He puts in our path. Keep following Him and He'll write your life story in a way that will blow your mind. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!


    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm
    This post was so uplifting!
    Last week I had to drop out of a wedding because the dresses they had picked out were not modest. I had to really pray about it and boy it really hurt! (the wedding is only two weeks away)
    Im still so sad because I have lost a friend due to it. I know through that it was the right thing to do, I even had the pastor and his wife backing me on it . Does not make it easy through.
    Paula Hendricks
    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm
    Dear Mist,

    Wow, that's tough. I'm proud of you for praying about it, seeking counsel, and sticking with your conviction, but I'm sad to hear the friendship might be lost.

    I wonder if your friend feels judged. I'm sure that wasn't your intention, but can I encourage you to go out of your way to show her you still love her and value her friendship?

    Praying for complete reconciliation,

    Thank you, Paula!
    on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm
    Thank you, Paula, for posting this video! Wow! What courage! What dedication to the Lord~speaking for Him no matter the cost!
    on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 11:07 am
    Wow, that was amazing! I'm glad someone is standing up for the Lord in the schools! Praise the Lord! :)
    on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:23 am
    Thanks Paula,

    I have been trying to talk with her...but its rough. She says she and her groom to be still love me and have no hard feelings...but whenever you try to say hi or start to talk "something" comes up that makes her busy.
    I know its in the Lord`s hand, but im praying even harder that it would heal soon!
    on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 7:11 am
    This is soo amazing! When the people cheered, for so long and loud, its remarkable.
    Thank you!
    on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm
    Thank you for bringing up this topic! Persecution is something really close to my heart and I support charities such as Open Doors that send out aid (and smuggle bibles!) to the persecuted church, and am trying to start a series on them with my youth group to see how to cope with such suffering etc.

    It is a subject I see often ignored in churches, and because of people outside of Christian circles are unaware of it. When I started to wear wristbands supporting Pakistan a few years ago, I got loads of questions from my Muslim and Atheist friends who had no idea about the persecution, especially aimed at women. I would encourage anyone to go and look up Open Doors or Release International to see how they can support the persecuted church in other countries!
    on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 7:13 am
    Wow....so amazing how tis young man be able to stand up for wat he believes despite the rules. This video encourage me to stand up for wat is true and pleasing in the sight of God. I'm heading on to college and pls pray for me to be of courage despite any temptation awaiting to devour me.

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