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In his own words: Out of the darkness and into the light

News | January 18, 2017

Editor’s note: Ben Bruster and two of his classmates stood in front of a packed room of friends and strangers on Wednesday at Augustana College. They were there to present Im-Perfect: Living with Mental Illness. They told their own stories, in hopes of encouraging others who struggle and those who are or wish to be allies. Below are excerpts from Ben’s story.

Beep, beep; beep, beep. It’s 8 o’clock. My alarm clock lets out a strident shrill and then proceeds to blast the local radio station’s obnoxious morning show. Startled, I lifelessly reach across my body and punch the beckoning snooze button. Groaning, I roll over, close my eyes, and continue to lie there—eyes flickering and half asleep. This carousel persists for a while.

Beep, beep. Tap. Beep, beep. Tap. Beep, beep. Tap. And so it goes.

Meanwhile, as the sun rises from its daily slumber, its rays begin to viciously pour in through the small cracks between my blinds and the edge of each windowpane. Reflecting off of my freshly waxed floor, these rays mystically transmute into an intense form of shame as they pass through the air. And like a cup, I fill up. With each passing second, minute, and hour, I near the brim and ultimately overflow; shame envelopes me. Why weren’t you strong enough to get up this morning, Ben? This is the third time this week, I think to myself. With this, as the sun approaches high noon, I force my feeble, shame-filled existence to get up and start another day.

***

I peer into the mirror and am startled. My deep blue eyes, like seas of melancholy, pierce my outer shell, leaving me exposed, wounded, vulnerable. Who am I to wear this pasted-on smile with such frequency? Does anyone actually know the true me? In public, I’m cheerful, strong, and composed; I gift smiles, handshakes, and good conversation. But behind closed doors, I am often a different person: afflicted, restricted, and immersed in sorrow. Hell, too many days I think, “I don’t know if I want to be up tomorrow.” Suicide, of course, is NOT the answer. But it sure would be nice to experience something other than this pain and set back that I experience so often. I remain in this state, slumped over and apathetic, staring blankly into the mirror while also aiming to dodge its vicious glances.

At this moment a frantic message surfaces from inward: distract yourself and keep fighting. Sheepishly changing into my gym clothes, I prepare to engage these forces on two fronts—in my head and with my body. Grabbing my iPhone and earbuds, I begin to browse for today’s exercise anthem. Scrolling through my library, I eventually set my sights on Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” Kendrick is a fighter and always has a way with words, I reckon. The music proceeds to blast as I fiercely churn my limbs to set the elliptical machine into rhythm.

“Do you hear me, do you feel me? We gon’ be alright.”

***

At best, perhaps I’ll become an influential professor, I think to myself. Maybe I’ll improve someone’s life with my words and my heart. Heck, maybe my twisted thoughts will be the key to my career success? I’ll trade a social life, a family, happiness, and overall health for painstaking intrigue, intertwined with obsession, I muse. Or, at worst, I’ll be locked up and deemed “crazy” by society, I continue to think. For years, I lived out this conundrum, feeling that I must choose between these unsatisfactory options.

For the first two years of college and beforehand, this mentality predominated: one or the other. One or the other, the thought echoed between my hemispheres. Gravely out of balance, I violently teetered between extremes. Consequently, at times I ate, drank, watched Netflix, and frivolously planned dream vacations, to escape from the eviscerating pain and obsession that menaced my very being. Of course, as any escapist knows, these efforts proved utterly fruitless in the long term. In fact, emotional and behavioral profligacy only amplified my feelings of loneliness and dejection. Prolonged lows always followed my short-term highs; and the trade off simply wasn’t worth it.

Knowing this, I sought to live differently. But to do this, I first needed to be honest with myself, to face the me that once only existed in the shadows.

“There’s always been something more than depression,” I emotionally responded to my father, as he questioned me. “What do you mean?” he probed with care and concern. “Dad, I’m pretty sure that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” I replied with a quiver. On an unforgettable day in early June last year, I proceeded to illuminate a part of me previously unknown to anyone. For years, I somehow kept the darkest part of me clandestine. Though there were many near breaks, at this point I still enjoyed being perceived as composed, normal, sane. On that day in early June, however, I painfully expended a rare sob, and let it all out.

***

So here I was, stuck in this rat race: anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, poor health, low self-esteem… anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, poor health, low self-esteem…anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, poor health, low self-esteem… and the wheels on the bus go round and round. By June 2016, I had lived with this for more than a decade. This cycle and my faulty management of it had stolen the richness and enjoyment of life away from me time after time again—not to mention that it had negatively impacted those around me for just as long. But I was not about to give in—to remain silent—for one more day. I knew what I needed to do: I must be honest, confront my imperfections, and learn to effectively cope, I thought. And so I did.

Over the course of last summer I became a gym rat, an aspiring writer, a healthy eater, a reserved socialite, and a conversation starter. I could not boast an impressive internship or job. But the fruits of my labor gifted me so much more. I learned to, perhaps for the first time, take care of my essential needs (mental, physical, and emotional). Concurrently, as I had previously suspected, I also learned that my path to “recovery” (as it is so often described in self-help literature) would, from here on out, be an intensive effort to live and adapt to my everyday internal and external environments. Thus, my path to “recovery” would instead become a grand effort to cope and stretch myself beyond what I previously thought imaginable, whereby learning to mitigate the severity and frequency of my afflictions.

***

By definition, my efforts have frequently been accompanied by setbacks and imperfections.

In fact, mid-way through last fall term, while I was on study abroad in China, I developed a three-and-a-half week depression, over which I periodically, and seriously contemplated suicide. But, as I had felt many times before and since, I knew that for some special reason I must live—that the world needs me, Ben Bruster—and only Ben Bruster—for that special reason. Thankfully, with the loving support of some incredible friends, these thoughts and my melancholy subsided.

I was fortunate to experience nearly two months mostly free of depression and obsessive thoughts. Yet, as expected, these forces resurfaced. Family turmoil, wintertime languor, and vigorously revitalized obsessive thoughts bred disaster. Visions of my own death and destruction reached their zenith as I plummeted towards my nadir. Somehow though, with the grace of God and incredible love and support from my parents, friends, professors and others, I survived winter break—and am surviving today.

I continue to feel the effects of this almost-daily depression and obsession. Nevertheless—slowly, ever so slowly, I am learning to how to separate and quiet my cancerous thoughts, how to love myself, and how to live healthy and be happy. Every day I arrive to school early and begin to mentally prepare for another chance, a new day, a wonderful life. While hiking from the Centennial parking to my first class in the Swenson Hall of Geosciences, I am reminded of my experiences on Mt. Fuji. Life is filled plenty of rocks, stumbles, and uphill climbs.  But with the correct support system, tools, and necessary vulnerability, I’m “gon’ be alright.”

18 Comments on “In his own words: Out of the darkness and into the light”

  • Sarah Masterson

    February 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I struggle with anxiety and depression from that anxiety as well. Know that you are not alone in this fight!

  • Eric Bruster

    January 23, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Ben. I stand with you and I am not alone in this regard. You did not put your story on the Internet to please me. I am much too cautious to take such a step. That ship has sailed anyway by your unselfish act. I know you want to help others who also hurt. This is a noble cause. As your dad, however, my sentiments lie first and foremost with your well-being rather than a ’cause’ to get behind. It’s not that causes are bad, it’s just that sometimes they try to reach out to everyone at the expense of reaching out to someone. You are that someone to me. I hope that people reach out to you. Several have already and friendship is a beautiful thing. Being along sucks. Did you like that last part?

  • Jim Case

    January 21, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Proud of you Ben . You are an amazing man. God does have great plans for you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Darla DeVriendt

    January 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

    You are an amazing courageous young man that has survived so many obstacles and never gave up! Continue sharing your story and Words of wisdom to others that may be struggling. Your story has touched me personally as we lost our son! Continue to lean on God! Thank you for sharing Ben.

  • Meredith Bruster

    January 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Your courage to openly share your story and to love others is incredible. You have so many reasons to be proud of yourself. I am so thankful to have you as a brother. Love you to the moon and back

  • Tom Hebbeln

    January 20, 2017 at 9:16 am

    You right Ben…you gonna be alright!

  • Marlene Marolf

    January 20, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Ben I remember so well our Africa trip. We had so much fun but something seem not quit right.
    Just call it a Mom knows. I am so glad you are addressing these issues. Friends in Peace Love Marlene God Bless.

    ber many people love and care for you. we are budd

  • Vicki Hall

    January 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Ben, I am so proud of your honesty and candor. You know, I love you like a son and will always make the time for you to vent a frustration or celebrate a success. You are an exceptional man who I have no doubt will influence the hearts and minds of countless young people should you pursue professorship, but wherever God leads you, you will flourish!!! Count me in as one of your biggest cheerleaders my honorary Son. I could not be more proud of your words this week. You are supported and by us, your loving family, and by your Heavenly Father.

  • Leigh Hoover

    January 19, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Ben for years I have seen and chatted with you at various events at church and school. I would have never guessed you were struggling wiith these issues. You always seem happy, cheerful and outgoing like a bright ray of sunshine. I applaud your courage to tell your story. It not only helps you it will help many others some struggling as yourself and others to open there eyes to understand what some folks are going through. You are a blessing to all of us!! Keep the courage, keep strong in faith and keep fighting!

  • Debbie Case

    January 19, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    What courage and strength you have shown in sharing your story! You are a gift to all who know you. When I see you, I see a young man that God will use to help and serve others. I see a smile that brings joy to the receiver. And on those dark days dear Ben, never forget that you are loved by God and those who believe your life is a life of purpose. I am one of those people. May God bless you with Light that will shine within you and through you.

  • Cindee Schnekloth

    January 19, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Thankful for you and your message! God bless and wishing you a wonderful future!
    Cindee

  • Joan Bruce

    January 19, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Oh, Ben. I was riveted to your story of your courageous journey. You are a wonderful young man, and I am honored to call you my friend. Thank you for so bravely sharing. I know that God, your family, and your friends and acquaintances will continue to be with you. Ben, you are a very gifted writer.

  • K J Rebarcak

    January 19, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Ben, your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for having the courage to share it. The more we bring stories like these out into the light, the more we can use our own experiences to help others. Keep fighting the good fight. Progress is never linear but it is always progress. You are winning the battle and making others winners in the process. May God bless and keep you!

  • Krist Masterson

    January 19, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I really appreciate your honesty and bravery!

  • Bonnie Fox

    January 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much for your remarkable story! You are a very gifted writer and I will remember your courage in sharing. May God continue to bring you peace and happiness as you continue on your journey.

  • Kathy Bucciferro

    January 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Ben you are a wonderful young man with so many opportunities ahead of you! You bring so much joy to others just by being your kind and thoughtful self. Thank you for bravely sharing your struggle and allowing those of us who love you to also carry your burden in prayer. God Bless you Ben.

  • Darlene Schluensen

    January 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    You’re so right…The world needs Ben Bruster! Everyone who loves you, needs you!!! You are a young man filled with courage and so much love to give. The world needs you Ben Bruster!!! You ARE “gon’ be alright.” As God continues to give you His blessings, stay strong and feel His love.

  • Heidi Watkins

    January 19, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to share your journey, Ben. You are amazing…and a gifted writer, I might add! Keep the faith.

Leave a Comment

Proverbs 9:1-6

1Wisdom has built her house,

She has hewn out her seven pillars;

2She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;

She has also set her table;

3She has sent out her maidens, she calls

From the tops of the heights of the city:

4“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!”

To him who lacks understanding she says,

5“Come, eat of my food

And drink of the wine I have mixed.

6“Forsake your folly and live,

And proceed in the way of understanding.”

Psalm 34:9-14

9O fear the LORD, you His saints;

For to those who fear Him there is no want.

10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;

But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

11Come, you children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12Who is the man who desires life

And loves length of days that he may see good?

13Keep your tongue from evil

And your lips from speaking deceit.

14Depart from evil and do good;

Seek peace and pursue it.

Ephesians 5:15-20

15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

John 6:51-58

51“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

52Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.54“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.55“For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.56“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.58“This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

Psalm 34:15-22

15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous

And His ears are open to their cry.

16The face of the LORD is against evildoers,

To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD hears

And delivers them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

20He keeps all his bones,

Not one of them is broken.

21Evil shall slay the wicked,

And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,

And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Ephesians 6:10-20

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVINGPUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,15and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

John 6:56-69

56“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.57“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.58“This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Words to the Disciples

59These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”61But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?62What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?63“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.64“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.65And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Peter’s Confession of Faith

66As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.67So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”68Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69“We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

Psalm 15

1O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?

Who may dwell on Your holy hill?

2He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.

3He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the LORD;

He swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken.

James 1:17-27

17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.18In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

19This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.21Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Isaiah 35:4-7a

4Say to those with anxious heart,

“Take courage, fear not.

Behold, your God will come with vengeance;

The recompense of God will come,

But He will save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened

And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.

6Then the lame will leap like a deer,

And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

For waters will break forth in the wilderness

And streams in the Arabah.

7The scorched land will become a pool

And the thirsty ground springs of water;

In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,

Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

Psalm 146

1Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

2I will praise the LORD while I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3Do not trust in princes,

In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.

4His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;

In that very day his thoughts perish.

5How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

Whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them;

Who keeps faith forever;

7Who executes justice for the oppressed;

Who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free.

8The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;

The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;

The LORD loves the righteous;

9The LORD protects the strangers;

He supports the fatherless and the widow,

But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

10The LORD will reign forever,

Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the LORD!

James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17

Mark 7:24-37

24Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.25But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.26Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.27And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”28But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”29And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”30And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

31Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis.32They *brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they *implored Him to lay His hand on him.33Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva;34and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He *said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!”35And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.36And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.37They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Isaiah 50:4-9a

4The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples,

That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.

He awakens Me morning by morning,

He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

5The Lord GOD has opened My ear;

And I was not disobedient

Nor did I turn back.

6I gave My back to those who strike Me,

And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;

I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.

7For the Lord GOD helps Me,

Therefore, I am not disgraced;

Therefore, I have set My face like flint,

And I know that I will not be ashamed.

8He who vindicates Me is near;

Who will contend with Me?

Let us stand up to each other;

Who has a case against Me?

Let him draw near to Me.

9Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me;

Who is he who condemns Me?

Behold, they will all wear out like a garment;

The moth will eat them.

Psalm 116:1-9

1I love the LORD, because He hears

My voice and my supplications.

2Because He has inclined His ear to me,

Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

3The cords of death encompassed me

And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;

I found distress and sorrow.

4Then I called upon the name of the LORD:

“O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”

5Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;

Yes, our God is compassionate.

6The LORD preserves the simple;

I was brought low, and He saved me.

7Return to your rest, O my soul,

For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

8For You have rescued my soul from death,

My eyes from tears,

My feet from stumbling.

9I shall walk before the LORD

In the land of the living.

James 3:1-12

The Tongue Is a Fire

1Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.3Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Wisdom from Above

Mark 8:27-38

27Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?”28They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.”29And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.”30And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.33But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.35“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?37“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?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.”

Jeremiah 11:18-20

18Moreover, the LORD made it known to me and I knew it;

Then You showed me their deeds.

19But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter;

And I did not know that they had devised plots against me, saying,

“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,

And let us cut him off from the land of the living,

That his name be remembered no more.”

20But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously,

Who tries the feelings and the heart,

Let me see Your vengeance on them,

For to You have I committed my cause.

Psalm 54

1Save me, O God, by Your name,

And vindicate me by Your power.

2Hear my prayer, O God;

Give ear to the words of my mouth.

3For strangers have risen against me

And violent men have sought my life;

They have not set God before them.

Selah.

4Behold, God is my helper;

The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.

5He will recompense the evil to my foes;

Destroy them in Your faithfulness.

6Willingly I will sacrifice to You;

I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good.

7For He has delivered me from all trouble,

And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

30From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it.31For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.”32But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

33They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?”34But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.35Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”36Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,37“Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Dire Warnings

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

Psalm 19:7-14

7The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

8The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;

In keeping them there is great reward.

12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I will be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

James 5:13-20

13Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.14Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

19My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Mark 9:38-50

38John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”39But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.40“For he who is not against us is for us.41“For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

42“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.43“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,44[where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]45“If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,46[where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]47“If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,48where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, ANDTHE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

49“For everyone will be salted with fire.50“Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”