Tuesday, August 31, 2010

faith to death

Set the scene:
King Nebuchadnezzar has built a statue of gold that stands 90 feet tall.
This is to represent his god.
He makes a decree that all those in his kingdom must bow before and worship this statue when they hear the music played.
Because King Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful king at this time no one refuses.
It doesn't hurt that he threatened those who refused to be thrown into a blazing furnace.
With that, no one refuses.
So he thinks...
99% of the kingdom followed this decree.
the 1% was brought before the king.

the king in all his power and might stood confidently and was willing to give these rebels another chance.
if they fell down before the idol at the next hearing of the music then all things would be fine and well.
if not, it was to the blazing furnace.
these rebels: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
outweighing the confidence of the king they stood before him and replied to his offer:

"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."

now this would be a bold statement coming from anyone but there is a major factor in play here:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are exiles.
so they are not speaking boldly to just any king.
these men are not the King's people so disposing of them is not a matter at all.

these three men basically looked at the king and said without saying
"You know what king, we appreciate all the great things you've done for us and all but the way of life we had back at home...well, we prefer it. We aren't going to follow your rules to worship a different god than ours even though you have the authority to kill us. So go ahead, throw us in the fire and see what happens."

that's what I hear when I read this story.
they were not consumed with the threat.
rather, their consumption was God.

they saw that it was more important to stand for the One True God rather than fear death.
think about it, all they needed to do was bow down to a statue to live.
music plays, bow down, continue on with life.
refuse to bow before a false god and be thrown into a blazing furnace.

as the story goes,
they were thrown in the furnace but God saved them. Because of their faith the King praised their God.
I encourage you to read the story in Daniel. read chapter 1-3 to get the big picture.

Set the Scene:


we went over this story in class the other day and it had my mind turning.
do we have this same faith today?
chances of us even being threatened with a blazing furnace are pretty low.
but we all know that there are many things that can bring out or hide our faith today.

here's what I was really thinking about the most:
how is it that a blazing furnace didn't stop those men from standing with faith in the One True God
and today we let so many simple things put our faith into hiding.

people don't even have to threaten us. they don't even have to make fun.
to be honest we don't usually get to the point of being threatened because we don't stand up against anything.

"but Ashley there aren't things like in that story to stand up against"
 don't overlook the work of the enemy.
anything and everything that affect our ethics and morals.

here is how we have to look at it:
in any situation we have the opportunity to either reflect God or reflect the world.
and yes it takes faith.
because when we reflect God we are going to stand out.
but isn't it worth it?

I don't know about you but I would much rather stand out in this world as different instead of just being another Christian that cares more about my reputation than the Lord of Lord's glory.

those 3 men were radical.
it was obvious.
we don't have to be faced with death to be radical.

tell me it wouldn't be radical to live a life that stood for Jesus no matter what.
in small things.
in big things.
in all things Jesus.

it could be a small conversation to you but it could be a huge seed of God for the other person.
it could just become your lifestyle.

but the question does remain:
would you stand in faith even to the point of death?
could you look the enemy in the eyes and tell them that it doesn't matter what they do because your God is Lord of all and He will be glorified in this place?

"we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter"

can you say that?

"we want you to know"

will you tell them who God is?

so the challenge is to face the furnace,
whether you are saved from the fire or not.
stand for God in all matters.
everywhere you go.

I want to live by this: 
to live a radical life doesn't mean you do one great thing for God that everyone hears about. rather, it means everything you do adds up to a radical difference between you and the world. everything adds up to a God sized difference of faith.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

a glimpse of reality

I stumbled across this in The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne:
"I remember hearing about an old comic strip back in the days of St. Ed's. Two guys are talking to each other, and one of them says he has a question for God. He wants to ask why God allows all of this poverty and war and suffering to exist in the world. And his friend says.'Well, why don't you ask?' The fellow shakes his head and says he is scared. When his friend asks why, he mutters.'I'm scared God will ask me the same question.' Over and over, when I ask God why all of these injustices are allowed to exist in the world, I can feel the Spirit whisper to me,'You tell me why we allow this to happen. You are my body, my hands, my feet."

punch to the gut.

imagine this:
you have the chance to walk up to God. your heart and mind seem to be in the right place. you have only the best intentions in life. you are simply worried about others and you want things to be just and right in the world. so you go to the source. with a childlike heart you walk up to God with much confusion. you look Him straight in the eyes and say,"God I just don't get it. Why do these things happen? People are getting sick, robbed, murdered, persecuted, mocked, raped, going hungry, being abandoned. You're a good and just God. Why do you let this happen?" Then God does His wise thing and answers you with a question. "You accepted my son Jesus Christ, right? OK. You claim to be His hands and feet, right? OK. So you tell me why these things are happening. Why do YOU let it happen?"
the weight of the world
dropped on your lap

so often i find people asking "why God, why God" and yet they sit around and do nothing. people ask how a good God can allow horrible things to happen in this world, but every time they ask, they forget to take a look at themselves and the rest of the world.

when Jesus was here God was physically here.
when Jesus left we were given the Holy Spirit in place of Him.
so we are here physically with the Holy Spirit living in us.
we are His hands.
we are His feet.
the reality is that once Jesus left, is hands and feet actually multiplied.

we were not left without.
the resources, the talents, the authority.
it has all been given. it is in our hands. it is in our grasp. it is part of us.
it is the Body of Christ.

God has every reason to look at us and ask why?
Jesus told His disciples that once He left they would do what He has been doing, but not just that
greater things than these

we ask



and while we sit and ask

people are dying due to our laziness
not a lack of God's goodness.

instead of asking why, let's start saying why not

why not  feed the hungry
why not clothe the naked
why not love the abandoned
why not tend to the sick and hurting

why not live into the divine calling that God has placed on us

it's not just a calling.
it is an amazing opportunity to let the One True God work through us!
He is letting us be a part of something Holy!

i am challenged probably more than any of you reading this so please don't think that i am trying to call you out. i simply want to wake up the Body and ask everyone to do their part. use what God has given you
anything and everything

even though we might not be able to change every physical thing for someone.
and it might seem like they are still in a rough situation.
and it may be hell on earth for them.
if they accept the gift of Life from Jesus then they are headed to a better place.
but if we don't

not only will they have hell on earth
they will eternally be separated from their Father God.

we need to stop asking why and start taking up our responsibility.
after all
even use small, weak humans to establish an eternal kingdom.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I justed needed a click.

I fell into the ever so common place where I know many Christians  have fallen.
It's not so much a place as it is a mindset.
A mindset that is heavily shaped by culture.
Christian culture to be exact.
Not necessarily the Bible, but rather that Christian culture that we allow ourselves to follow.
That we allow ourselves to be shaped by.
Shaped without turning to scripture to either back it up, clarify it, or shine light on the falsity.

We get stuck with these beliefs or ideas that we think are right because it's what we are always told or taught but something about it doesn't always click. For some reason we profess it but we can't fully back it up. Not with scripture. Not with our own experiences. Maybe you know what I am talking about. Maybe you don't.

Well this mindset issue I had. The one that I didn't really know I was in until it clicked one day.


The mindset I was in was holding me back. I was taught time after time to wait on God's Will. To not push my own agenda. To simply sit back and pray about it. Wait until I hear God's voice. Wait until I hear the exact details to my next step.
Because of this mindset I had, I kept myself back from too many opportunities. Now I am not saying don't wait on God. Please don't get me wrong. But I am saying that something clicked one day and I realized that alot of times God has opened the doors, given us the tools, and prepared us for the opportunity but because we haven't heard the "go get 'em!" we sit and wait.

We are called to action!

This book I recently read helped me with my click.
(this is a long quote but it needs to be in here)

the naked GOSPEL
"Having gone through such a stressful decision-making process, I was determined to find out the truth about the will of God. As I consulted Scripture, I discovered that the will of God boils down to the following:
  • that none perish but all believe (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)
  • that salvation come to the Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 1:5-2:22)
  • that we present our bodies to him every day (Romans 12:1-2)
  • that we bear much fruit (John 15:8; Colossians 1:9-12)
  • that we pray throughout our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
God's will is essentially that Christ live in us and express himself through us as we are transparent before him.
The scriptural view of God's will turned out to be dramatically different from what I had heard. This put an end to my perpetual wondering about whether or not I was "in God's will" with regard to daily decision making.
In discovering that God's will is Christ in me and Christ through me, I could see that God was behind every door, even the door of sin. I'm not saying that sinning is OK or that God wants us to sin. Of course not! What I mean is that whether or not I choose a particular door in life, God will always be there. He will be there because he's in me. He's not just with me, but he's in me. So wherever I go, there he is!"
-Andrew Farley, the naked GOSPEL (pages 210-211)

God allowed me to read this at the exact time that I needed it, my last plane ride home from Haiti. It gave me reassurance in my pursuit of returning to Haiti next year. That's a whole nother blog with a new set of thoughts though. Knowing what I now know, I am pursuing life with a new mindset.

Thank you Jesus.