Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas - Politically Correct vs. Correct

At what point did we decide that we had to be politically correct about December 25th? And at what point did it become more important to be politically correct instead of just plain correct? Frankly, I don't care if you wish me a "Happy Holiday" or a festive "Seasons Greetings", but don't try to remove Jesus from the holiday or play down its importance.

Christmas became a government holiday in 1870. President Grant decided it should be observed by the country as a whole, and congress agreed. It was a time designated to celebrate the birth of Christ - we all know that an exact date is not available, so we picked one, December 25th. Yet, so many people have tried to disprove the validity of Christmas as a Christian holiday and come up with one excuse after another to get Jesus removed from it.

During this same time period, Grant also declared January 1st a holiday. New Years Day. Yet no one ever tries to doubt the validity or meaning of January 1st. No one tells the government that we've misread the stars or the alignment of the solar system and the actual first day of the new rotation of the earth is not really January 1st. The existence of January 1 being established as a holiday to celebrate the New Year has never been questioned.

As well as January 1 being established as a holiday, July 4th was also determined to be an American government holiday by Grant in 1870. A day to honor our independence as a country after the long Revolutionary War was finished. If people with British heritage were to begin an argument with the government saying that their great great grandfathers died at the hands of Americans so they are offended that we would celebrate that victory - would our government declare July 4th should no longer be established because they didn't want to offend those citizens? Absolutely not.

What about Veteran's Day? November 11th. In 2006, an estimated 37.5 million immigrants were now citizens of our country. What if they said, "we fought for the service in our previous country, we're offended that we are not recognized as veterans" - would we change Veteran's Day to include anyone who's ever served in any military any where? No - that would be ridiculous. The service men and women have worked hard to protect our rights and freedoms here in America.

But people will walk on eggshells around those who might get upset if you say Jesus should remain in Christmas. It's okay to offend Christians, those who appreciate the eternal freedom from a Savior who gave His life.

So, as an American Christian - I will continue to celebrate New Years Day - I will toot my paper horn with the excitement of what may come and a remembrance of the year gone by. I will continue to celebrate July 4th. I will fly my flag high and appreciate those men and women who fought in the American Revolution and founded our country and their sacrifice so that we can be a free nation. I will continue to honor Veteran's Day. I will thank my American soldiers for their efforts in the service even when I may not agree with what the government has done, I will uphold our Veteran's holiday. And finally, I will celebrate Christmas in the manner in which it was established - a day to thank God for the gift of His son Jesus. I will display a manger scene and a Christmas tree. I will say Merry Christmas and thank those who wish me a 'Happy Holiday". I will continue to teach my children the reason why we celebrate Christmas and continue to feel sorry for and pray for those who are offended by it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Witch of Endor - It Wasn't Me, I Swear.

1 Samuel 28:9-10 But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?" Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this."

Why is it when you ask a little kid if they've done something wrong, they immediately tell you they haven't? Even though you already know they did. My youngest daughter will deny ev
erything the first time. But when I look her in the eye, ask her again with that serious tone - she comes clean. I guess it's our human nature to avoid a disaster that we perceive may happen if we give an honest answer. However, God requires it. I think, if we look at this realistically, I would rather suffer the consequences of telling the truth - than the strain on my relationship with God from not telling the truth.

Since the woman of Endor had no relationship with God, lying was not a big issue for her. She was lying to save her life. She was in hiding and knew that if someone turned her in - she would be killed. She had to be careful. Here's the irony: Saul promised her "by the Lord" that he wouldn't have her killed. By the Lord???? It's like hearing an atheist say "I swear to God" - really? How can you seek out the things the devil has lured you to and in the same breath use God to justify it?

It's the bar-hopping, unfaithful co-worker that tells you they love Jesus. How can you seek out the things of satan and still claim to have a relationship with God. We all back-slide, but the importance of having a relationship with God is seeing our error and avoiding that temptation. Saul got caught up in this and the example he could've been for the witch of Endor was lost.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Witch of Endor - Is it a Masquerade?

1 Samuel 28:8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name."

Have you ever heard the saying, "nothing good ever happens after midnight"? I suppose in the dark of the night, when very few others are around - people tend to do things they probably shouldn't do because they think no one is watching. . . Someone is always watching.

All the mediums and spiritists in the land would not welcome Saul into their home, because they knew he would punish them if he found out they were still practicing. Saul knew this and so he waited until evening - dressed up like someone other than himself - grabbed a couple of buddies - headed to Endor and asked the witch to do her 'magic'.

Something I tell my kids is that "if you can't do it in front of me or your dad, then you probably shouldn't be doing it". As adults, the question we should ask is "if you don't want God to see you doing it, then you shouldn't be doing it" - the hard truth is - God does see you doing it. No matter what it is - are you embarrassed? ashamed? It doesn't matter if no one else is around, or if you're behind a computer screen where no one knows your identity - God knows who you are and what you're doing. Don't let satan make you think that living outside the authority of God is ever an option.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Witch of Endor - It's October....

1 Samuel 28:3-7 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her." "There is one in Endor," they said.

A little history for this - Samuel was a man of God, respected and sought after. Because the act of seeking out the dead was something God said not to do, all spiritists and mediums were sent out of the land. Now - Samuel has died and Saul is left with an army, the Philistine army, gearing up to attack.

Saul was in a predicament, so he called out to God. This makes me think of those movies where the main character comes into a situation that seems hopeless and he starts making deals with God. "If you get me out of this, I'll go to church every week" or "If you bring my son back, I'll start tithing" - when he hasn't uttered a word to God the entire movie. Now in the movies, they usually have the good ending where everything works out just fine - but for Saul, there was no light that suddenly got brighter, no voice speaking to him from out of nowhere, no dreams from the past or future - Saul got nothing. God remained silent.

This is where Saul made his mistake. If you are crying out to God and don't feel like you're getting a response - be assured, it's not because He's not there or doesn't hear you. This is the time where you need to look at your life and find out what is hindering the relationship between you and God. If you truly can't figure out what it is, ask God to show you what you need to work on. This is not what Saul did. Saul didn't have the time or patience to respect and appreciate a relationship with God - so he tries the other angle - the witch of Endor.

Our communication with God is vital to a strong walk in the Christian faith. When we are not getting the answers we want from God, are we seeking Him out, or are we searching for other solutions? It may not be as ghastly as reading horoscopes or playing with a ouija board. It can be as simple as taking the advice of a non-believing co-worker instead of waiting on God. It can be turning to food for comfort instead of waiting for comfort from God. It can be allowing our own wants to override what God wants for us. This is a good scripture on the importance of having a continual striving for a relationship with God.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jabez - Are you a Cookie Monster for God?

1 Chronicles 4:10d - And God granted his request.

This is the last part of the prayer of Jabez. It is the outcome of the prayer of Jabez. It's not very climactic. In fact, it's completely 'matter of fact'. It's as simple as 2 + 2 = 4 ; Man of faith asked = God of all granted. So why did he have to ask in the first place?

As I studied the prayer of Jabez, how he asked for things and God simply gave them to him - and pondered whether it was a one time occurrence and only meant for Jabez, an analogy came to mind. Many times, I will go to the store and while buying groceries, I will pick up something for the kids. Maybe some cookies or snack cakes, I might even get them some special drink and put it in the refrigerator - simply because I love them. Now when I get home, and put all the groceries away and then get busy doing everything else, I will probably completely forget that I even bought those items for the kids. However, if one of the children comes up to me and says, "Hey Mom, Can I have a couple of cookies" - I will then say - "Yes, I got those for you".

Now God doesn't forget, but I do think He has things for us and He's just waiting for us to ask Him for it. Does that mean whatever we ask for it will be given to us, since God has it waiting? Even though I have cookies for the kids, if they ask me to eat them a half an hour before dinner, I'm going to say "no". But that doesn't mean 'no' forever, it just means they'll have to ask later when it's not going to hinder them by spoiling their appetite. However, like the cartoon, when we start to go after things ourselves that God has said 'no' to, disaster can strike.

God loves His children. Jabez was a faithful and honorable man, one who knew the power of the Almighty. One who wanted to serve God and have a personal relationship with Him. His prayer is truly an example of God's unconditional love for us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jabez - Freedom

1Chronicles 4:10c "and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain."

A couple of years ago, I threw my back out. I wasn't even doing anything strenuous. I was holding a baby - I put the baby down and stood up, and there it went. I'm not one who might be considered an "old" person - I don't have other health issues that would have brought this on - why in the world would my back go out? The pain was intense. I have never felt pain like that before - I was immobilized. It took about two weeks before I could get back up and actually walk around normally - but even then, I was cautious for fear of re-injuring my back.

Jabez asks God to keep him from harm and free from pain. Obviously, physical pain can be such that you are not useful - that you become a burden to those around you - no one wants that. However, I think Jabez was asking for more than just that.

During a time in my life when I was not walking with Christ, sin had gotten a stronghold and I found myself in a very dark place, alone and defeated. This type of 'harm' caused, not only an immobility in daily life - just getting through the day - it also stopped and hurt any work the Lord could've wanted me to do during that time.

Jabez is praying for those things - protection from physical harm and spiritual harm - because the pain that both cause can be debilitating. God wants us to be free from pain, all we have to do is ask - Jabez figured that out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jabez - Take off the Cloak of Invisibility

1 Chronicles 4:10b Let your hand be with me.

I hated school. Hated going to the bus stop. Hated walking into the building. Hated finding my classes. I hated leaving my mom. I knew my mom still loved me when I was at school, I knew it wouldn't matter what I did or what I got on a test, my mom would be waiting for me at home, always happy to see me. But if I had a choice, I would've had her hold my hand all day long - from the time I got onto the bus until the walk home.

Not too much has changed. I still don't like to do new things alone - it's always nice to have someone next to you, supporting you, loving you. Doesn't go over too well to have mommy sitting next to you during your job interview though. It's socially unacceptable to have your best friend come to your business meeting while you're speaking. I think Jabez had these same feelings.

Jabez prays for God to be with him. I don't think he's actually asking God to be with him, because we know that He is always with us - I think Jabez is asking God to let him feel His presence. We all have the knowledge of understanding that God is omnipresent, but emotionally feeling Him beside us is another thing all together. Jabez wanted to feel God there with him.

This is what having a relationship with God is all about. God knows we need a friend - He wants to be our friend. He wants to be the One that goes with us on that job interview, that first college class, that doctors visit - but if we don't ask Him to let us know He's there, we're putting Him in the corner. I want to know God is standing right there beside me and I want Him to know that I want Him to be there. It all happens through prayer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jabez - Can I get fries with that?

1 Chronicles 4:10a Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!

My two daughters were in the bathtub. They were probably 2 and 4 at the time. We had lots of fun splashing and washing hair and playing with bubbles. When I told them it was time to get out - they were fine with that. I had forgotten the towels. In the moment that I had said "sit still", to the time I had gone to the closet for the towels - there was a 'thud'. Then tears. I quickly checked what was going on because they were both crying (when one cried, it spurred the other) - my two year old seemed to be fine - my four year old had somehow punctured herself and had a bloody hole at the top of her nose in-between her eyes. I cried out for my husband, we quickly dressed the girls and gathered the rest of the children and headed to the emergency room.

What reminds me of this story is not the cute little scar that was left on my daughters' face, but the feeling of helplessness. The need to call out for someone (my husband) to come to the rescue.

I don't know what was going on with Jabez at that exact moment - but it says he "cried out to God". The Bible doesn't tell us his situation - we only know that he was a righteous man and something in his life had caused him to seek the immediate help of God. The odd thing is what he was asking of God. Bless me. Bring me happiness. Bring me pleasure. He wasn't dying of an illness and asking to be spared his life, his wife wasn't leaving him and he was going to be alone, his company wasn't being downsized and he was out of a job - his cry was for God to make him happy. THEN, he asked for more responsibility. Asking for enlarged territory was not a cry for more acreage to build his in-ground pool - it was for leadership over a larger group of people, and in essence - more power.

If Jabez can cry out to God for power and happiness and be heard - why are we so hesitant to talk to Him on a daily basis, won't He meet our needs as well?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jabez- What's in a Name?

1 Chronicles 4:9b His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."

There is nothing more painstaking in a mothers' life than to choose the name of the child. It is the first decision we make for our children that will directly affect them the rest of their lives. Should their name be one of the most common names of the day like Jacob or Emma (registered as most popular in 2008) or should you go with a family name like Grace or Charles? Could a nickname be derived from their name that might cause teasing or ridicule? What name might look good on a resume for a doctor or lawyer - certainly Patricia or Jonathan would look better than Breasia or Damontae on that diploma.

I was never thrilled with my name. Not that I didn't like it, I just wasn't thrilled with it. It was old-fashioned and no one else in my school had my name. I was named after my grandmother - whom I loved - but it was her generation that frequently bore the name "Dorothy". The meaning of my name is another matter indeed. Dorothy means - "Gift of God". It certainly does give weight to the feelings my mom held about having a little girl. I was certainly her gift from God. She loved me to pieces, and still does - I can't imagine a childhood in which one does not feel the unconditional love of their parents. I also realize, I am blessed.

Jabez grew up with a different interpretation to his name. The constant reminder of the sacrifice his mom had to make in order for him to be alive. The reminder that everyone with whom he was introduced would know the suffering his mom went through to give birth. Why would someone put that type of a burden on their child? Isn't it nice to know that we have a Father who has called us His own and who does not dwell on the past, but only offers us a better future? That the only reminder we need is that He loves us so much He sent His son to die on a cross - so that we could be with Him forever. No wonder they call Him - Saviour.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jabez - Honor Roll.

1 Chronicles 4:9a Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.

If you could choose one word to describe yourself - what would it be? If you could choose one word to compare yourself against other people - what would it be? Sounds like those awful job interview questions, doesn't it?

The first time Jabez is ever mentioned in the Bible - and let us take note that to even be mentioned in the Bible means we should 'take note' - he is described as "honorable". And not just plain 'honorable', comparatively MORE honorable than his brothers.

I did my Webster search to find out just exactly what this word entails, here it is: characterized by integrity : guided by a high sense of honor and duty.

Today begins my look at Jabez and why God would give such high praise to Jabez - a man who is only shortly mentioned in an obscure area of the Bible amidst the tedious geneology verses.

Final question, if God could choose one word to describe you, what would it be?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

John the Baptist - It's a Boy!

Luke 1:57-58 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

The terms "Crime of Passion", "Hate Crime", "Jealous Rage" - are all very familiar to us today. These words litter police reports, news headlines and court proceedings. We live in a world where our actions are controlled by our envy. A society that has led us to believe that we can not be successful until we match the Jones' and once we've accomplished that, the Johnsons' and so on and so on. What if we went back to the way Elizabeth's friends responded to her joy.

When Elizabeth finally had her baby - there was no backtalk about how old she was, there was no comment under the breath about the struggled marriage with a mute man, no one questioned why God had chosen to speak to her about the birth of John.

It says that her neighbors and relatives 'shared her joy'. When was the last time you were happy simply because someone you knew had experienced a joyous moment. Whether it was a promotion or bonus, a gift or a new relationship - without the undertone of wishing it were you. I wonder what our headlines would read today if we all had neighbors like Elizabeth...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

John the Baptist - Because I Said So.

Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

Raising kids is a difficult task. Ask any parent (or grandparent) who has accepted the responsibility of teaching their child right from wrong. It's a long tedious process of discipline and reward that never seems to end. No loving parent enjoys discipline, but the long-term reward that it produces is beyond measure. And when your child actually comes to you for advice and follows it, the bond that is formed in that moment - one of love and respect, builds that relationship. I think the same is true of God and His children - if we choose to listen and learn, the reward is beyond measure.

When Elizabeth was told that she, a barren woman, would conceive - she could have spent that time doubting and worrying and fussing over what was to happen. When she actually did conceive, she could've spent the next nine months afraid of miscarriage, wondering if what God had promised would actually be fulfilled. But that's not what Elizabeth did - she praised God when she got news she would be pregnant - when she actually conceived, she spent months thanking God alone (wonder how Zechariah felt about this) and when she meets up with Mary she has a realization:

God had blessed them both because they heard and they believed and they never doubted.

Often times I second-guess the choices I make or the ones I'm about to make - but I truly believe it's because I didn't spend enough time in prayer before making it. When we make decisions after we've gone to the Lord and waited for His answer, those are the times to be confident - not only will you be blessed because God's answer will always have a better outcome, but you are blessed because you've been able to grow in your relationship with Him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

John the Baptist - Do A Little Dance. . .

Luke 1:39-44 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

Never has a verse been used more by anti-abortionists to support the fact that life begins at conception. That John could hear and feel Jesus - a fetus - in Mary's voice through his own mothers ear canal. The way we are biologically formed to live as an undeveloped baby fully relying on our mothers for literal survival, is a miracle.

I could list statistics on people who were almost aborted and now have great testimonies. I could tell stories from mother's who live a life of grief because they chose to kill their child and still struggle to get through life. However, there is something different I'd like to pull from these verses.

John knew that he was in the presence of his Savior and he let his mother know by doing the only thing he could - wiggle. Elizabeth didn't pass off John's actions by saying it was indigestion or the baby was just moving around. John let her know she was in the presence of God and she acknowledged it! If we seek God and come into His presence - we need to let people know He's there. Whether it's wiggling or stating that the only way you got through your struggle was because God gave you peace and patience to get through it - we need to let others know God is here. And if it's someone else doing the wiggling - don't excuse it away. Realize that God is in our presence and it's something to be jumping about, just like John did over 2000 years ago.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

John The Baptist - It's a Miracle!

Luke 1:23-25 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

I must say, that while driving on the road, there is one thing that irritates me to no end: the lack of the appreciative hand wave. If I have taken the time to slow down to let someone in, or moved over to another lane to allow room to merge - is it so much to ask for a simple hand gesture of thanks? A wave of the hand to acknowledge the fact that I had done something nice? Not a parade in my honor, not a rolled down window and shout of thanks, not even a gracious horn honk - just a wave in my general direction. And yet, I rarely get it. It certainly makes me think twice whenever I decide to show generosity on the pavement - yet I still do.

In these verses, we are told that Elizabeth up and disappears for the first 5 months of her pregnancy. Now this is not exactly the right way to understand it. As soon as Zechariah was 'with' her, and she found out she was pregnant -she didn't run away - she secluded herself to spend these days in prayer to God. She was thanking Him for the awesome miracle that He had blessed her with. A woman in these days had a lot of weight placed on the fact that they could give their husbands a child. Not only did God bless Elizabeth with a baby, but this baby would be great in the sight of the Lord. She took the next five months to spend time with the Lord giving Him all the thanks for this miracle.

Today, thank yous seem so far and few between with one another, I can't imagine how few 'thank you's actually make it to God. Our Biblical examples show that not only was the length of the thank you inspiring - but the immediacy as well. Elizabeth didn't wait until John was born - she began praising God and thanking Him as soon as she found out she was pregnant. Is there anything - simple or miraculous - that we should be thanking God for right now?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

John the Baptist - Can You Hear Me NOW?

Luke 1:21-22 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

There are 1,596,270,108 people in the world using the internet, in America - internet usage reaches 74% of the population. ( For every 100 people in America, 97 have a cell phone. There are 219,000,000 televisions in the homes of Americans, with the average person watching 28 hours per week. We are only beat out by China. Newspaper circulation in the world today is 157,326,359 - who knew people still read the newspaper?? Communication is the key to keeping up with our way of life. It is considered business suicide to not have a website promoting your company. So, why, when we know how communication spreads information - did Zechariah get shut off from the world when he just witnessed this huge miracle.

When a miracle happened in the Bible - eye witnesses would spread the information. Even churches and missionaries today use communication so that the rest of the world can see how God is still moving amongst His people. Why then, when something so wonderful as the answer to the prayer of a barren couple, would He choose to stifle this information.

My thoughts: This miracle was not about everybody else. This was not about gathering the masses and sharing the gospel with them. This was about Zechariah and his relationship with God. Even though God had punished Zechariah, he was learning a valuable lesson. His whole life he had done what was required of him. He had lived a righteous life and followed the laws - yet, when he came face to face with a situation that required complete faith - he faltered. God was letting Zechariah know that He cared enough to teach Him. Through this experience Zechariah would grow and learn in his relationship with God. God cared enough about Zechariah that He was willing to let this miracle go unseen at the time so that he could see how you cannot contain God.

God will let the word of His miracles get out - He will decide when the news of what He has done should be revealed. But His main focus - what He wants us to understand - is that He loves us. It's all about our relationship with Him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

John The Baptist - NIKE offers spiritual guidance...

Luke 1:18-20 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

There is an old story that has been told. It's about a father and his son - perhaps you've heard your own version of this. The boy was out playing by the tree, laughing and running about when the father suddenly goes out into the yard and tells the boy - "STOP. Don't move another muscle." The boy immediately stops and the father grabs a baseball bat and slowly moves toward the boy. He raises the bat above his head and just as he reaches the boy, he brings the bat down hard on the ground. The boy is a bit stunned, but realization begins to show in his eyes as he sees his father reach down and pick up the now-dead snake in front of the boys' feet that was getting ready to bite his son.

It's a story of obedience. I can tell you right now that my kids - all four of them - would've been rushed to the hospital for venom removal. The minute I hollered to stop, I would've gotten a "why do I have to stop?" or a "but I wasn't done playing yet." Obedience is an important trait - one that has apparently been a struggle for some time.

The angel appeared before Zechariah and told him what was to be done. Did Zechariah just listen and follow instruction? Noooo, he had to ask questions and insinuate the angel was lying. I don't think that was a very smart idea - especially since the angel pulled an Ursula and took away Zechariah's voice.

I wonder if God gets tired of us saying "Why?" I wonder how important it is for God to hear us say - "yes, Lord - I will" - no matter how crazy it sounds. If that son had not listened to his father - surely he would have been bitten. Sometimes the same is true of us - if we do not listen to God's Word and obey (Just Do It) - we are surely bitten.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

John The Baptist - The B-I-B-L-E

Luke 1:13-17 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Scofield, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Rice, Graham - all men who have recently gone forth and shared the gospel. Many lives were changed because of these men and others. Did their fathers know they were chosen for this? As parents, we all want our children to aspire to be great. We want them to be brought up being kind and polite with all the knowledge they can gain. But what if God chose to tell you the great things your child would do? What if he said "Joey" was going to become a missionary in the deepest parts of Indonesia and many people will be saved. Would you train him differently?

God has a purpose for every child - a different purpose - yet the same training is required for all of us. The Bible is our text book. If we are to be skilled in whatever task God will call us to do - we must be familiar with His Word. If we are willing to go where He calls us, to be a servant for Him - our training comes from knowing the scriptures and knowing Jesus Christ.

So the question is - are we ready if He calls?

Monday, May 18, 2009

John The Baptist - Horror Movies Thrive On This Stuff

Luke 1:8-12 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.

The last verse we looked at was a testimony to the righteousness of John The Baptists' parents. Parents that boldly followed God. There are many who cannot relate to this. I was blessed with Christian parents who did their best to raise us in a Godly home. To equip us with what we would need, not only here on earth, but in preparation for what was to come - and that the latter was more important than the former. I remember seeing my dad in the morning reading his Bible at the table, but I don't remember ever seeing him afraid of anything. I'm sure he is afraid of some things, but when I was growing up, he was fearless.

I think it is a good thing to know that we do not need to be afraid when Jesus is in control. However, it is human nature to succumb to the emotion of fear - especially in today's world. Zechariah was an upright man of God - following the laws that were set for him in their entirety - and yet, he knew the power of fear. Zechariah was following his duty as a man of God. Something as routine as
filling the communion plate or setting up the Sunday School classroom, or sitting down to do a devotional. Yet on this day, smack dab in the middle of his duties, an angel appeared. Can you imagine? Carrying on about your daily business, maybe cleaning up the nursery for the Sunday morning service, and a man suddenly appears before you - one that is not supposed to be there?

Zechariah was gripped with fear. This highly praised, law-following, faith believing man of God was afraid of the angel before him. Fear is a powerful emotion - one that in high doses can paralyze us. As we can see from the example of Zechariah - even the best and righteous do not handle situations correctly. It is in these moments, we MUST fall back on God and rely on His strength alone to get us through.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John The Baptist - How Good Are You?

Luke 1:5-7 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

Cancer, AIDS, abortion, abuse, poverty, obesity - the list goes on of the things that plague America today. The question is often asked, "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" While that question is very common today - the truth is - it's been a common question for a long time.

Our first insight into John the Baptist is a look at how he came to be. The first chapter in Luke shares a little about the life of his parents before he was born. Both of his parents were "upright in the sight of God". Now there is something to have written on your resume. If I could have one person stand up on my behalf and be able to truthfully announce - "She is upright in the sight of God" - I would count myself blessed. There is no greater compliment. The Bible further states that they followed God's law - blamelessly. WOW. These were some good people.

However, Elizabeth could not have children. We all know the importance of bearing children during this time in history - and yet, they, these upright people, were barren. Why does God choose to let these things happen? We know the outcome of this story, but the outcome can be true in all of our lives. If we just trust God and step out in faith - there is a greater purpose and one day, we will know Gods plan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John The Baptist - An Introductory Beginning

The best made intentions are nothing without execution. I could make five different lists for every day of the week of the different things I needed to do to keep my time managed, I could make a totally separate stack of lists for the different meals I needed to eat during the week to keep my weight managed, And yet another set of lists of incoming monies and outgoing fees so as to keep my finances managed, lastly, a completely different list of scriptures for the things I would be encountering throughout the week to help keep my spiritual life managed, however, if I set my lists aside on the kitchen counter and never bother to look at them - I've simply wasted a lot of time list-making.

When do we get a break? When does the opportunity come that we can let things slide for a little while and still be able to stay on track? Even if we are following our lists play by play - an unannounced, spur of the moment, going away party can throw every aspect of our lives into a tizzy. We'd then have to rearrange our already scheduled time management list to squeeze in this party. We'd have to adjust our meal list so as to not disrupt our weight management plan. We'd have to buy a gift for this party, which means a refiguring of our finance management. A new set of people and circumstances would certainly be cause for a change in prayer and scriptures for that day - meaning doubling up on devotional time for our spiritual management, causing another time management change. Life is always throwing a curveball.

These past few weeks, for me, have been nothing but curveballs and fastballs and changeups and any other baseball metaphor I can think of. I may have had a few bunts here and there, possibly got to first base on one or two - but am quite certain, by the lack in execution of my lists, that there were no home runs to be had.

How does one stay on track in all aspects of their life when Satan keeps attacking? I believe I will come across some of those answers studying the next person on my list (my OTHER list) - John The Baptist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Falling Off the Wagon

Daniel 3:28-30 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

I'll be honest, I'm not a big football fan. Growing up, while my brother and cousins raved about the Cowboys and Steelers - I stood firm with the Dolphins - their helmets were prettier. But the term 'bandwagon' got thrown around more than a few times. Here are the hard facts: In 1969, The Baltimore Colts were fan favorites with only five losses. The New York Jets, however, were part of the AFL and not looked at too kindly. This all changed when the Jets walloped the Colts with a score of 16 - 7 in Superbowl III. Not only did it change peoples minds about the Jets, but the AFL in general became more respected.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had already chosen the team they wanted to be on. They knew the power of God and had no doubts that He would come out on top. When this happened, King Nebuchadnezzar jumped on that bandwagon and told everyone else they had to serve God or be killed.

We, as Americans, are so spoiled. We live in a country that does not require us to serve a God who loves us. We have that option all on our own. Yet, we tend to be one of those 'bandwagon jumpers'. If God is being relevant in our lives, then we will praise Him and honor Him. If we seem to be doing okay on our own - we start to forget that it is because of Him that we are doing okay. Maybe today we can make that commitment to always honor Him and praise Him - even when it's not the popular opinion.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Silence is Golden!

Daniel 3:26- 27 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Rev. Austin W. Mann of Cleveland, devoted his life to missions work. Born in 1841, he grew up like most kids seeking an education and graduating in Indiana at the age of 17. He continued his education and after began teaching at the Michigan School for 8 years. After this time, he continued private study on his own, but his true labor was missions work. He began preaching in the Episcopal Church and traveled quite a bit. He had written over three hundred journals for other bishops but his real calling was the publishing of over a hundred prayer books and getting them into the hands of the deaf and mute population of the world. At the time of his death, he had helped open over ninety schools for the deaf and mute (close to 10,000 people) and minister to these people. The amazing fact in all this? Rev. Mann was deaf and mute himself. He did all this without ever speaking a word.

When King Nebuchadnezzar called Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego out of the furnace, they didn't utter a word. The king was able to look at them and see how truly Almighty was their God. They didn't throw a "we told you so" in his face or a "what now - big king" - they simply let the Glory of God shine through.

I have actually been struggling with this lately myself. I have been bogged down with so many things going on around me, that my Light might seem hard to see. So the question I have to ask myself is this: If I never spoke a word, would people be able to see Jesus standing beside me? Would His glory shine out of me only through my actions?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego - Singing in the Rain

Daniel 3:23-25 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

I didn't want to go back to work. It had been six years since my last baby was born and I hadn't been in the work force since I'd been pregnant with her. The time had come where, financially, it would be much less stressful if I started working again. It couldn't be a "career" job - my important time would still be with my family. I was still homeschooling and my husband worked full-time, so it couldn't be a day job. Before getting pregnant, I was in management at UPS, the graveyard shift. It looked like, once again, this was the only option for me. I prayed about this and asked God to guide me in this because I really did not enjoy working at UPS - it was physically hard and not a very friendly work environment. Then I saw the ad for FedEx. I reluctantly decided to go in for the 'group' interview. Many people showed up for this job. I thought I'd be hired on the spot - but this was a large group of people. We went through the training videos and paperwork sessions. In the end, they basically told the entire group they were only hiring as needed and they would keep everyone on file as an "on-call" person. I went home a little deflated, it was not what I expected. That evening, I received a call from Fed-Ex. After reading my file, because of my management experience with UPS, they wanted me to start the next evening. Jesus was there, it was all in His hands.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into that furnace, they had to be scared. Wondering what it would feel like, to be burned. But once the initial shock wore off, and they stood up, and they realized they weren't burning to death and that there handcuffs had burned off - what an awesome realization - Jesus was with them. It has been said that the reason the king looked back into the furnace, was because he heard singing. These boys were singing praises to God. The king never would've looked back, the reality was, the minute those boys fell into the furnace they would be dead - the king had no reason to continue hanging around - until he heard the singing. It also says that the king could see Jesus, it doesn't say that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could.

So here's another realization: Jesus is always with us, whether we can see Him or not - we must know that He's always there. BUT, to be truly effective, we must rejoice in having this knowledge so that, like the king, others will look back and be able to see Him standing there with us.

I ended up loving my job at FedEx. They were nice people there and I hope I had an effect on some of them. A year later when I gave my two -weeks notice, they offered me a management position. Hopefully, they were able to see Jesus standing beside me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - What's Up Doc?

Daniel 3:21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

That Wile E. Coyote is such a determined creature. He went to such lengths to get that poor roadrunner. Since his appearance in 1948, Wile E. Coyote has chased and chased after that bird. Here's some interesting facts though: Coyotes mostly feed on rabbits, gophers, mice, prairie dogs, rats, squirrels, antelope, goats, sheep - very rarely any poultry. Also, the roadrunner, while known for it's speed, can reach up to 20 mph - pretty fast for a bird. However, the coyote can get up to 30 mph in a trot - up to 40 mph if he's being chased. HMMMMM. So the question is this, if that Wile E. Coyote doesn't really even eat things like the roadrunner - and could literally outrun it if he so desired - why all the crazy antics?

King Nebuchadnezzar is doing the same thing. He's chasing after these poor boys that he doesn't really even want. He liked these boys earlier and now all of a sudden they've become his target. He's pulled out his ACME guide of how to trap and kill and he set his plan in motion. He turned up the heat of the furnace and called on his strongest guards. And just like the coyote, the beginning of his plan has already failed. The guards that he put in charge of throwing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the furnace were killed by the same heat that he had increased. Shouldn't that have been a sign right there - you're messing with the wrong guys.

We, too, often set our minds on things we really have no business messing around with. Things in our life that God never intended for us to chase after. Sure, we might be physically capable of obtaining these things - but for whatever reason - God has set it outside of our reach for a purpose. If we set our minds on seeking out a relationship with Him, everything else will fall in line. MEEP MEEP. . .

Monday, March 30, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Barbecue Anyone?

Daniel 3:19-20 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.

If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot. ~Korean Proverb

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. ~Chinese Proverb

Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools. ~Albert Einstein

No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched. ~George Jean Nathan

Anger is short-lived madness. ~Horace

Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Spite is never lonely; envy always tags along. ~Mignon McLaughlin,

Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them. ~Lemony Snicket

I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to. ~Author Unknown

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

We have all heard many quotes regarding anger, there's probably a few you're thinking about right now. But even all these famous quotes, all these 'sought after' people of wisdom - the Bible has clearly shown an example - Not too many stories show the idiocy of out-of-control anger as that of King Nebuchadnezzer. The boys did not spit in his face, they did not stomp on his crown, they didn't kick sand in his face - they simply refused to bow down to some gold he had melted. Boy, did that make him mad.

First thing he does - he turns the heat up seven times in the furnace. Which seems a little silly to me. You're going to die from flames at "regular" heat - just like you die from seven times hotter heat. But, anger is not rational. He also calls on his strongest men to throw them into the furnace. Even though Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have already said they accepted the terms of not bowing down and knew they would be going into the furnace, the king felt that the use of his strongest soldiers in this situation was necessary.

Anger + Pride = Bad Combination. Stay tuned to see what happens. . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego - The Game of Life

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Read this story: Sally was one of the older kids. Only by a year, but still bigger than most kids in the neighborhood. As all the kids gathered to play a game, it was decided that they would pair up into threes. Sally stood back and waited while everyone quickly gathered in their group. Two young girls stood a few feet off - looking timid - and Sally went up to them and asked to be on their team. They readily accepted her. Tina yelled over to Sally - "Why are you on their team? You won't win!" Sally responded, "Maybe we will! But even if we don't, it's more important that I let these girls know how much I care about them - even if it means losing the game."

Kelly mentioned the VeggieTales story of Rack, Shack and Benny - which I have heard of, but have not seen. However, I can't help but picture how wonderful those roasted vegetables would be in that fire for a few minutes - isn't that terrible...

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood up to the king. They basically told him, "We don't have to answer you, but we will." "It doesn't matter whether we win or lose - we are not switching teams".

This is the game of life. There are many things that go on in our daily activities. Some we win, some we lose. The important thing is making sure you're on the right team. Even if it seems like another team is winning, you can't switch teams - because you find out in the long run - Only one team wins. It's the team with Jesus as the Captain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - When Stupid Leaders Are in Position...

Daniel 3:13-15 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"

In this post, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego - I'd Like To Order An Attitude To Go, Please, King Nebuchadnezzar is so happy with these boys. He compliments them, he puts them to work for him, he talks with them. What happened from there to here?

Have you ever known people who you talk to that seem to love you and care about you, but the minute you show any disagreement to what they have to say, they don't seem to love you so much anymore. I had a friend that I would talk to in school. We would laugh and tell jokes and pass notes. But as soon as I told her that I didn't think going to a party and getting drunk was a good idea- our friendship dwindled. Such is human nature.

Now Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego weren't just risking a friendship or even a shunning, they were threatened with a brutal death. However, they had some inside knowledge that the king was unaware of at this time. Their God is real. So whether they die a physical death in that fire or not, they would continue their life as a child of God - either on earth or in heaven - King Nebuchadnezzar couldn't change that fact.

What if we lived life with that same attitude? "Our God is real". It doesn't matter what happens to my physical being, my soul lives on forever - I'll just move to a different location. It really is something to think that one day we will walk up to Abednego and be able to say - "Why didn't you just smack that stupid king in the face", and I'm sure his answer will be much more profound than any snide remark I could come up with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego - They Don't Like Us Very Much

Daniel 3:7-12 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."

So all the people in the kingdom are going to bow down to this stupid idol the king had put so much time, effort and money into building. Isn't it ironic how the more foolish something seems to be, the more people seem to fall for it? What benefit does it serve to melt down all that gold to build a nine foot high statue? Surely there were people in the kingdom that could've used that money. Starving children, destitute widows, orphans and more. Nonetheless, when the music started, practically everyone bowed.

Everyone except - those three servant boys that were brought over a few years back. These boys would not bow. They wouldn't bend, wouldn't sway, wouldn't brea
k. I don't believe this was an easy decision for these boys to make. Sure, they knew that God was the only One they would worship, but in making this decision - they put all Jews in jeopardy.

It makes me think of those Jews that were hiding in Nazi Germany. If one person made a move, one sound, the whole family would be found out and this would mean death. What a huge amount of pressure on a young person.

It works the same way with Christianity. If we stand up for what we believe in, Christians - as a whole - may be mocked, mistreated and hated. Many issues lie on the forefront where we must stand up based on our faith in Christ - Marriage of homosexuals, abortion, legalizing prostitution. . . If we waiver, if we do not stand up for what is right according to God, people will continue to bow down to these other idols - never knowing our one true God. We should take that risk - we should accept the consequences for other Christians who take that risk and support them. We should not be angry at those people who agree with the issues that go against what Jesus taught - we should love them and work hard at educating them on the love of Jesus. There is one person behind all of this - Satan, he is our enemy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - The True American Idol

Daniel 3:1-6 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

A stampede of shoppers in a Valley Stream Wal-Mart Stores on Friday morning left one worker dead and at least three patrons injured after an impatient crowd broke down the store doors and trampled the seasonal employee, Nassau police said. Jdimytai Damour of Jamaica, Queens, was pushed to the ground by the 2,000-plus crowd just before 5 a.m. as management was preparing to open the store, which is located across from the main Green Acres Mall building. Hundreds stepped over, around and on the 34-year-old worker as they rushed into the store. "This crowd was out of control," said Nassau Police Det. Lt. Michael Fleming, whose squad is investigating. "Nobody was trying to help him," said shopper Nakea Augustine, who was in the line. "They were rushing in the store, rushing, rushing, rushing."

This story flashed across headlines during the holiday season this past year. What is it that these people were in such a hurry for, that they would shove a man down and kill him and not notice it? It seems almost unbelievable. But then, so did King Nebuchadnezzar's idol.

We look at the story of this king today and say - 'oh, that's an interesting s
tory - but it just doesn't apply today'. The truth is, this story is more relevant today than it has ever been. Our idols don't even have to be 9 feet tall. It's anything that we are so pre-occupied with, that we will stop everything we're doing at a certain time to go to that idol. Does the 'TV' ring a bell? How often will we plan our schedules around what time a particular show comes on? I'm guilty of it - but DVR has helped, ha. What about a concert or show that comes to town that you will do anything to get tickets for - even if it means a debt that you promised to pay gets pushed back again.

Even things that may have once been considered a part of your responsibility can be shoved into that 'idol' category. The mom who takes the overtime hours at her job instead of being at the baseball game to watch her son. Now many may disagree about jobs being idols, but when you're putting the bills and the almighty dollar that is thought of as a 'need' ahead of what God has put us in charge of (family, children) then that is dangerous territory. Maybe there is something that can be pushed away - like the expensive car or the gym membership you don't use or the pay channels on cable, so that the 'things' of the world will seem unimportant when it comes to what God has said should be a priority. Let's not let society tell us what to and when to bow down.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego - I'd Like To Order An Attitude To Go, Please

Daniel 1:18-20 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

Customer Service has certainly gone down in America. It is more likely to expect no customer service than good customer service. The fast-food drive thru is always a good example. They get upset if you don't order fast enough - they get upset if you order too fast. The get upset if you order something special - they get upset if you order too much. They get upset if you use a credit card - they get upset if you give exact change. It almost feels as if you can't win. My theory has always been this - if you can't do the job the way it should be done - then get another job.

The boys were now working for the king. They would go before him and report and be questioned by the king. This was not a job they applied for. They did not complete a resume and wait by the phone for human resources to call. They were forced to do this job and yet they did it so well, the king said he found them 10 times better than those already working for him.

Many times we are stuck in situations we don't want to be in. Whether it's a grueling job with little pay or a house that has a never ending list of repairs. But this example is set very clear for us. As representatives of the King - we are to do everything with Christ in mind. If we have a toilet to scrub, or a diaper to change, or a burger to flip - we should do it to the best of our ability and with a Christ-like attitude.

I can't imagine a worse situation than being forced from your homeland and stuck in a place with people who don't believe the same as you and want you to prove yourself. But Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel took this as an opportunity to be an example for God. To show His power and glory simply by doing what was asked of them to the best of their ability.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - In Your Face Anger Management

Daniel 1:15-17 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

Have you ever made the choice to do the right thing even when you didn't want to? Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, someone had done something to my family that I felt was inexcusable. I harbored anger for that person every day. That anger weighed on me and I would grit my teeth when talking to the Lord about it. As I was in the shower one morning, I began talking to God about this anger. I explained to Him how justified I was in being angry with this person. I went on and on about how good a person I was and how I had tolerated other bad behavior from this person before but that it had gone too far this time. I continued about how I had tried to be nice, tried to be a good friend . . . and then God spoke. He said to me: "Try again!". Now it wasn't really His voice - it was more like my voice - okay - it was my inner voice, but it was definitely God telling me what to do. How do I know? Because I never would have told myself to do that - I was living quite nicely in my anger. After my talk with God, I promised Him that I would do it. I asked Him to grant me some time to figure out a way to do it to be an example, humble example, for Him - but I promised I would. It took a week. A daily praying for wisdom and opportunity, but I did it. The weight was lifted from me and things seemed to clear - and I can't tell you the joy I felt from doing something God told me to do - that I didn't want to do - but I did it anyway because He told me to.

These four boys weren't immune to temptation. I imagine they wouldn't turn their noses up at a nice filet mignon. I think they prayed quite a bit over their situation and maybe justified how tough they'd had it, being kidnapped and all, and how they deserved a little "good" food. And Yet, they went with what they knew God wanted them to do. They were rewarded. They showed up the competition and the 'choice' food was replaced with vegetables and healthy options for everyone.

My story doesn't end there. On the day I made my promise to God that I would let my anger go and make amends, something more happened. We have always struggled financially. Pay to pay with little extra (four kids, it's always something). On this day when I showed up at my teaching job, I was asked if I would also start my class at another location in the fall (this would double that income for an extra hour a week). On the way home from class, I got a call from the WW Corporate office saying that they had a company that wanted to start up a meeting and would I take it. Which I did - and I love this group! God takes care of His people!

The boys didn't just win bragging rights, did you see what God blessed them with: "knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning". What an awesome skill to be blessed with. All because they did what they knew God wanted them to do. The truth is still the same today as it was over 2000 years ago - God takes care of His people!

On a side note: Thank you to those that are praying for Rebecca from the last post. The doctors pulled out a lime-sized tumor and are sending it off to be tested. The doctor did feel that it would be cancerous though, so they are going to start chemotherapy. The survival rate is 70%. We are so grateful to God for guiding the doctor through this dangerous surgery - but will you please continue to pray for her healing and her family during this stressful time?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Part 3:"Friends" have moral obligations.

Daniel 1:5-14 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

We've been talking about the three part process that the king was using to brainwash these boys to his way of thinking. We're on step number 3:

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For the past week, my husband and I took the kids and drove to Kentucky to spend time with my parents. We had a wonderful week, we even went trail hiking up the mountains while we were there. It was nice to get away from everything and have the opportunity to do nothing but visit with my family.

As God always provides - this is part of the process number 3 - hanging out with the wrong people.

The king had made it clear the boys from Judah were to be mixed in with the other boys in training from Babylon. Young teenage boys all mixed in together - it might become difficult to stand your ground and be firm in what you believe when others fight against you. But isn't it amazing how God worked it out to keep them separated. There's nothing like a good ol' competition to keep the teams working together. This is what God used through these boys to keep them safe from the temptation of being around others who do not believe the same way.

We are faced with it on a daily basis. How quick we are to succumb to the office gossip or the violent temper in a basketball game when others actions "started it". If we can steer clear of those we know lead us into temptation, it is so much easier for us to remain a Christ-like example.

Many people don't have the blessing of parents who are Christians. I do. Which is why it was so nice to get away and be surrounded by love and acceptance with a clear vision of what our ultimate goal in life is - to serve Christ.

So to recap:
1: Take care of the body God gave you, when our physical body is weak - it's hard to focus on what our goals should truly be.
2: Know that you are a child of the King and don't let Satan tell you anything different - and make sure you act like it.
3: Surround yourself with your brothers and sisters in Christ to be continually uplifted and encouraged to continue on our mission.

On a side note: My middle-school daughter has a friend who plays the piano in her praise band. She went into the hospital this weekend with severe headaches and they found a brain tumor. The are performing surgery at noon today to take the mass out and analyze it to see what they are dealing with. This is a strong Christian family in our church - and they sure could use your prayers. Her name is Rebecca and she's in 8th grade. If you get a moment - could you say a prayer for her and her family?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Part 2: It's All in a Name.

Daniel 1:5-14 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

We've been talking about the three part process that the king was using to brainwash these boys to his way of thinking. We're on step number 2:

Number 2 is Identity: I enjoyed the Bourne Identity and the sequels that followed it. As I mentioned before, I'm a big - spy helping the good guy - fan. In the beginning of this particular spy movie, Jason Bourne has lost his memory after a mission gone awry. He spends the rest of the movie trying to find out who he was and what his purpose had been. In the end, he realizes that he didn't really like who he was and started a brand new life.

The boys who had been captured by the king were given new names. There is a nice little history behind their original names: Hananiah meaning 'God is gracious', Mishael meaning 'Who is like God?' and Azariah meaning 'God keeps him'. There names were changed to Shadrach (meaning 'Command of the Moon-God'), Meshach (meaning 'Who is like the Moon-God?') and Abednego (meaning 'Servant of Nego'). Wouldn't this be more confusing for the boys, why would the king choose this to be done?

If the king could change their names to that of Babylonians, maybe they would embrace that style of life and become loyal to the Babylonians. It was a good solid plan, one that Satan has used for centuries.

If Satan can convince people to act a certain way online, a different way at work, even change how they act when they're at church, he might be able to confuse them enough that they forget they are the children of the King. We see it all the time. People who act differently at church and then use unethical practices at work or curse at the bank teller while they're running errands. These people are suffering from mistaken identity.

As royalty, as a princess, as a daughter of the King - I know that I am required to behave a certain way. It is my HONOR to make my father proud. Don't let Satan make you forget who you are.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Part 1: New Diet Starts Today

Daniel 1:5-14 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you." Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

There is a three part process in this section - it is a design for the king to brainwash these boys to his way of thinking. We'll divide them out over the next 3 posts.

The first 1 is Food:
Is it just me or does the Bible have so many nutritional lesson
s in it that it beats any weight loss program out there? And I work for one!

Colon Cancer, Heart Disease, risk of bladder, breast, cervical, endometrial, esophageal, glioma, kidney, liver, lung, mouth, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers are all risk factors for eating a diet full of red meat. Does that mean we shouldn't eat red meat? No, it just means that too much - is not good, everything in moderation.

Many people argue that the wine in the Bible is just grape juice. This is just not tru
e and if followed up throughout scripture - it is evident that the wine mentioned in these verses is exactly that - an alcoholic beverage.

According to studies done today: Even modest amounts of alcohol consumption can cause blood pressure to increase. Even in small doses, a
lcohol can inhibit REM sleep, leaving you tired and groggy, and also cause the damaging and death of brain cells and the cells that support them by providing energy and nutrients.

There are six kinds of nutrients our bodies need: Carbohydrates, Protein, Lipids, Vitamins, Minerals and Water. Of these, there is only one nutrient that a healthy body doesn't make on its own and the only place to get it is food - that is
Carbohydrates. Guess where the best place to get Carbohydrates is? Fruits and Vegetables.

These boys have been taught this growing up. Weren't we also taught this? Didn't our parents tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables and everything in moderation? What happened? I'll tell you. All the appetizing things of the world came at us. Society dressed a hamburger up in yellow and red paper, they sang a song and enticed us with cheap prices and convenience - and we bought it hook, line and sinker. The world persuades us with words like 'decadent' , 'rich and creamy' and 'savory' and we eat things that our body never required, needed or can tolerate.

Why wasn't Daniel and his team persuaded? Why didn't the kings delicacies taunt them and call out to them and entice them? Because before they walked in - they had a plan. They made a mental decision that They Would Not Eat That Food. They would not be persuaded, they would not be coerced, they would not be enticed. God provided the will-power.

God still does provide the will-power, we just have to ask Him for it. Next post: Point #2