Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ur of Chaldees

(Written Easter of 2009, Tallil AFB, Cob Adder, Iraq)

I really am having a difficult time expressing myself about this. So I will just explain the only way I know how.

I am living on Tallil Air Force Base, Iraq. It's Easter Sunday and we had a sunrise service.

The service was held at the archaeological digs where they have excavated the home of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.

To tell you the truth, I was skeptical at first about the authenticity of the claim that it is actually the home of Abraham.

When I had visited the site a couple of weeks ago, I questioned our tour guide about the validity of that claim. He reassured me that tablets and other artifacts had been found to verify their findings. When I got back to my room I was reading in Genesis about Abraham, and there in my Bible's study notes were remarks about this very site and the archaeologists who discovered it in the 1930's.

Anyway, when the chaplain posted the schedule for this holy week of Easter, a sunrise service was planned at Abraham's home. About half of our shop signed up to go including me.

In a few weeks, the U.S. government is going to hand this piece of property back to the Iraqi government. The opportunity to tour the site will be gone. (at least for the time being) Possibly the opportunity to worship the LORD at this site will not occur again this side of Jesus' return.

I don't have the words to express how honored and humble I feel that out of all the people in the world and out of all the people in time, I was able to participate in what could be a once in a lifetime (once in history) event.

I know I haven't done anything to deserve such a thing. But I am so grateful that God included me.

There were maybe 200 people attending. A praise team was playing acoustic guitars and leading us in worship and then one of the chaplains stepped up to a podium and opened his Bible and read Holy Scripture there on those grounds. We sang more songs which are listed in the program and I could not keep from crying as I sang along with the others praising God. And then I thought that you could possibly be praising with some of these same songs in your service today and how all of us are joined in praise.

Then one of the chaplains stood on the reconstructed wall of Abraham's home and presented the Word of God. He took us from Adam and  Eve to Noah to Abraham all the way down to Jesus. He explained the covenant God made with Abraham and how we are a part of that covenant. And He shared about the resurrection of Jesus.

The chaplain asked us to respond to him when he proclaimed "He is risen!" and the congregation would respond "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" It became the theme for his message.

All day long the Holy Spirit has been pounding inside of me so strongly. I can't explain how filled I am right now. What words could I use?

I just wanted to share this with you and with my church family. I love you and miss you all so much and I know that you pray for me. I can feel the prayer covering me at times. Thank you so much. Please continue to be in prayer for me and my family while I'm here.

In Christ alone,


I sent the above message through Kelly to my church... there was no way I could share everything, but I had to put it down in words as best I could.

When I got back to the shop after the service, I was talking with one of the young women that works there for another company. She was asking questions about the Christian faith. I had given her a tract and she was curious. She is not quite sure what she believes, but she thinks that believing in God is a cop out in some ways.

Anyway, I had the opportunity to share with her that the Christian faith is not about religion, but about a relationship with God.

I stood on a spiritual mountain today and God touched my heart. I haven't felt this in so long. I am glad I could feel His touch again.

He is the healer of broken hearts.

Friendship and Faith

Be anxious for nothing , but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God . And the peace of God , which surpasses all comprehension , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus .
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Stop worrying! Quit thinking about it. You can’t do anything to change it. Worrying never gets you anywhere. Worry and anxiety keeps us up at night. It distracts us from family and friends and work. It sends us to the doctor for a pill or even to the emergency room with a heart attack. Worry and Anxiety are not our friends. They may even change our personalities so much that we drive away our friends.

But there is a friend. A friend that wants to help when we can’t cope with life’s problems on our own.

What more can we ask? We have a God that wants to get so personal with us that He tells us to not worry or fret or be upset, but to just ask Him for what we want or need. He says to be specific… to make our desires known to Him. Just like we would with a close friend. When we are worried about anything; whether it is money or relationships, a broken life or a fractured heart, we should lift it up to Him in prayer and let Him know about our situation. It is not as though He does not already know our circumstance or our need. But He asks us to speak it directly to Him and to be specific about it; tell Him the smallest detail. He wants us to interact with Him; to be in a real relationship with Him. To show Him that we believe He is Who He says He is. The Great I AM. Our Friend. Speaking our heart’s needs to Him is a demonstration of our faith in Him and His ability to deliver on His promise. That we will ask… that we will actually EXPECT and trust Him to respond in some manner is like stepping off a cliff and expecting to fly. And then… amazing as it may seem, He provides us with peace. We can’t explain it. We don’t understand it. But we experience peace. Peace in our turmoil. Peace in our pain. Peace in knowing that our incomprehensible and amazing God will act on our behalf and in our best interest.

Prayer: Amazing God, please remind me to trust You and truly believe that You always answer the prayers and requests of Your children. Lord, bless me with Your peace today. Thank You for being a faithful Friend. Amen.

Just Do It

Have you ever been to a wedding or a celebration? Of course! We all have been to parties and celebrations and special events.

We love to, love to, LOVE to celebrate! And celebration always includes good food and good things to drink. Whether your favorite is iced tea, a mocha latte, a refreshing punch or a glass of wine, it seems that there is an unending supply of some kind of beverage for all the guests.

Except for a particular wedding at Cana. This wedding was different. I don't know if the host just didn't plan well. Or if every invited guest brought an extra guest. Maybe the party goers were having such a good time that they all overstayed their welcome and the supplies ran low. But regardless of the circumstance, at this famous wedding, the drink ran dry. The wine was gone. Consumed by all the bride and groom's well wishers.

What a dilemma! What a disgrace! How would the bridegroom face his family and friends? He would lose face with them all. The bride and her family would be so embarrassed and the celebration marred by this turn of events. In those days, this would have been a devastating social faux pas.

Fortunately for the bridegroom, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in attendance at this wedding. And she had brought her son along. Jesus, the man that people were already whispering about and telling tales that there was just something different about Him. Jesus, who had already created a bit of a stir at His baptism. Jesus, who had already developed somewhat of a following. He was almost famous!

Apparently, Mary must have been close to someone in charge of this celebration. She found out about the situation with the wine and her mind started working out a solution. You know how us women are. We have to fix things. Her way of fixing this thing was to let her son know that she expected some assistance from Him.

She had birthed Him and raised Him to be a man. She knew Him as no other human being on earth knew Him. Mary knew exactly who Jesus was and she knew exactly what He was capable of doing. Shoot! She may have even secretly been hoping to show Him off. You know how you are when you are just bursting with pride in your kid. You want other people to know how special and wonderful he is.

So like any mother would have done, she said to her son "They have no wine." Just a simple statement of the situation. She could have only been commenting about it or feeling some compassion for the bride and groom. But, of course, Jesus knew that in 'motherspeak' this meant she expected Him to be the One to do something about it. Kind of like telling your kid "The garbage can is full." He knows you expect him to bag it up and take it out. No questions asked.

Mary knew that He would do what she wanted. So, like any mother, she disregarded His quiet protest. She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

What an incredible statement! “Whatever He says to you, do it.”


Do it.

I mean, really! What did she expect Him to do about it anyway?

This is a statement that can only be made when you KNOW without a doubt that something is going to happen.

If He says “pat your head and rub your belly”, then DO IT. If He says “do 15 jumping jacks”, then DO IT. If He says “fill those empty water pots to the brim“, then DO IT. Don’t ask questions. Don’t make excuses. Don’t wait. Don’t try to rationalize the situation. To borrow from the Nike commercials, Just Do It.

Her command to the servants showed extreme faith. Faith that grew from living day in and day out with this once baby, once child, and now a man. This Jesus. Faith that came from knowing Jesus intimately inside and out.

Faith from seeing Him in action.

Faith from knowing His heart.

Jesus tells the servants “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. (John 2: 7-8 NKJV)

They did what He told them to do. They were servants. They did as they were told. They may have had some doubts. They may have laughed. They might have thought this lady and her son were half a bubble off. But they did what they were told.

Then the impossible happened. A dramatic and impossible transformation took place in those water pots.

The water became wine.

But not just any wine. The master of the feast proclaimed that this was the “good” wine. (John 2: 10 NKJV)

The word “good” used in the Bible is from the Greek word “Kalos”. Kalos is defined as: excellent, precious, magnificent, praiseworthy, noble, beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy; morally good, noble, honourable, conferring honour, affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming.

All this to praise a bit of water turned to wine.

All this to describe an impossible transformation of nature’s elements.

“Whatever He says to you, do it.” Such a simple request. Such a simple command from a mother’s heart of love and pride in her son.

Just do it. Then wait and see what kind of impossible and miraculous transformation takes place.

Your water may not turn to wine. But your heart of stone might become soft and pliable.

Your circumstance might not change, but your attitude could be altered.

Your favorite drink may run dry, but your dry and thirsty spirit could be quenched with Living Water.

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Then EXPECT a miracle! Expect a ‘kalos’ miracle.

Don't Panic

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.
John 1:3-4

It's comforting to know that there is a plan.

Jesus the Creator.

Jesus the Light of the World.

He stepped into His own creation and became more than a creator. He became part of the Creation. He is the axis of all of creation. Not only that, Jesus shed light on the Ultimate Question of why we exist. Contrary to Douglas Adam's answer to the Ultimate Question in the sci-fi comedy "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the answer is NOT   '42'.

The answer is Jesus.

We are here because of Jesus. We are here for Jesus. We were created and exist to live lives that implement and carry out His plan.

We are living, breathing, thinking entities and were created to ask the big questions of Who am I? Why am I here?

There is something inside each of us that seeks those answers.

We were MADE through Jesus. He is the Ultimate Answer to our big questions.

In Acts 17, Paul makes the statement that " we are here in this time and in this place so that we will seek the Lord and in seeking Him find Him.... For in Him we live and move and have our being."

Our express purpose in life is to find Him. He's not far... so you don't have to search too long or too hard. He's not playing "Hide and Seek" with us. He wants us to find Him. He longs for us to reach out to Him. He's waiting with open arms.

Douglas Adams did have one good piece of advice: "DON'T PANIC!"

My advice is "Don't panic, but trust in the Lord with all your heart". The road might be a little bumpy and difficult, but the Light is always on.

Father, help me to always remember that I am here because of You and to always look to you for answers to my questions. Thank you for sending Jesus into my life. Amen.

True Story

This really is a true story.

In the last few years, I have gone through several stages and changes in my life. God changed my life drastically! For 2 years it was like a honeymoon with Jesus and then...My church family fell apart, My children had consequential situations to deal with and my prayers for them went up continuously. My marriage of 34 years fell apart and I am now divorced. I've been single for almost 3 years now.

These are not unusual circumstances. It happens to everyone in every walk of life. It's life. Jesus said "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."

But it is my life. Personal. Intimate. Affecting me. Tearing me apart. Breaking my heart and mind and spirit.

Through all of it, I have believed God's promises and trusted Him. Asked Him to intervene. Asked Him to change things. Asked and begged Him to restore things. Asked Him to use the tribulations in my life in some manner.

Right now, I am at peace. I am at a place where there is nothing drastic or traumatic or earth shattering going on. And I am glad of it. Hopefully, it is a place where God will help me to learn and understand the things I have been through. A friend recently told me that I was on the Injured Reserve list. A place of healing where God can call me up from at any moment.

And I think He is doing that.

God blessed me so tremendously last week by allowing me to share with someone who is going through similar life shattering circumstances. I won't disclose details or names, but someone that I would never have dreamed that I could have ministered to in any way. When asked, "is there hope?" I was able to say YES. When asked "what did you do? how did you deal with it?" I was able to share how I trusted God and how God has come through over and over again.

I am not super christian. I have had my days of doubt and my days of unbelief. But through it all, I have never once questioned if God was working in it. I have just questioned the reason, the method, the seemingly undeserved pain. The delay of the vision God gave to me of a ministry.

God is always at work. And He is more interested in helping us discover who He is in us than who we are in Him. When we start trying to figure out who "I am in Christ" we put ourselves first and make ourselves the I AM and we lose out.. God is the great I AM. We are not. We need to figure out who HE IS in us. The power that He can work in us. The fruits of the spirit that only HE plants and grows and harvests. In His time. His season.

The Obedient Son

At the wedding at Cana, when Mary mentions to Jesus that "they have no wine", He responds to her insinuation that He do something about it with a seemingly insolent question.

Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

As only a mother can, Mary knew her son. She knew every innuendo of voice and body language. She knew that He was not reprimanding her. Jesus loved and honored His earthly mother as no other Son before or since. She had been the recipient of her child's unconditional love for 30 years.

As a child, He had answered her concerned questions with "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2: 49)

In the ensuing years, the Bible tells us that "He was subject to His parents and that He increased in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man."

Although He was God in the flesh, He was obedient to His earthly parents.

As an adult, He was once again gently reminding His mother of His purpose.

Here He is at the very beginning of His public ministry and she was asking Him for something that only He could give. No one else could provide wine for the wedding feast. At least, no one else could provide it without going to some considerable trouble and expense to obtain it. The wine was needed now. Not later.

The 6 water pots were dry and empty. These were vessels that were used in purification of the Jews. They were set aside to be used only for a special ritual and purpose. (Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. John 2: 6)

When He tells the servants to fill the water pots, they obediently do so. In fact , they fill them to the brim... almost overflowing. When it was poured into the cups, the water had turned to wine. The best wine. Wine meant to be shared with all the guests. They all drank of it.

The wedding guests had been in need.... looking for something more than what they had.

Now the wedding feast was saved... the celebration could continue!

Like these wedding guests, in the middle of our lives ... sometimes even in the middle of a celebration, we run dry. Nothing and no one satisfies our longing. When our hearts and lives are shattered and empty, we reach a place where we finally say..."there has got to be something more." Jesus offers "have a drink.... fill yourself .. quench your thirst." When we accept His offer we are transformed by His grace and it pours out on us. Jesus fills our emptiness and parched souls with His living water and then asks us to pour it out into our families, friends, co workers, etc...

When He said to Mary, "My hour has not yet come", was Jesus thinking of the future and of the bitter cup He would drink? Did He look ahead and see Himself on the cross?

He knew that this miracle at the wedding was the first of many miracles. The first miracle on the road leading up to His ultimate sacrifice when His hour would come and He would be tortured and slain like a murderer or a thief.

The first step in the sanctification of His creation began with the richest of wine miraculously filling and then being poured out of sanctified vessels.

Jesus knew that once He took this step, there was no turning back.

When the wine was drawn out of the water pots, did He think of the blood that would run from His head and hands and feet? Did Jesus, the only pure and sinless vessel, wince at the thought of the cross? Had he already begun to feel the pain and shame of being filled and covered and smeared with the filth of all our sin? Was He preparing Himself for the day when His heart would literally burst with love for us as He took on our sin.

Did He think about the night when another cup of wine would be poured and He would share the Passover with His disciples saying "Do this... in remembrance of Me." " And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mar 14:22-25)."

Or later on, during the night that He was praying in the garden before His arrest, did His thoughts go back to this wedding day and the miracle of the wine when He prayed "Abba, Father, all things [are] possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."

While He sweat drops of blood praying for His Father's will to be done, did He remember His obedience to Mary's request on that long ago wedding day when the wine flowed freely?

Maybe He thought past the cross to a future wedding day when He would return as the Bridegroom and take His bride home. Maybe he smiled and laughed at the thought of that coming celebration!

Wherever His thoughts wandered that day, this was His first recorded miracle. It was indicative of what He came to do. It was a picture of His entire ministry. An act of obedience. He was and is the vessel of purification. He filled Himself with all our sin.. all our base ugliness... and transformed it into righteousness like a fine wine... a sweet fragrance. He filled our empty lives and spirits with His Living Water and His Holy Spirit to save us from sin and to teach us how to pour Him out to others. Now that is a miracle!

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. John 2: 11"

Jesus begins His ministry with an act of obedience to His mother. It is finished with His ultimate act of obedience to His Father. He became sin who knew no sin. He did it all because He loves us.

Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for Your love. Please fill us as only You can and use us to to reach others for Your glory. In Jesus' precious and glorious Name. Amen.

Not My Cross

(To clarify... I am posting some stories that I wrote a while back.   So don't be alarmed by this one.)

When someone you love is hurting, you want to help. You want to say or do something that will make it better. You feel helpless to make a difference.

My sister's husband, Larry, passed away this week. He was only 53. We all love him so much. He didn't die because of an extended illness. His death was sudden and unexpected and overwhelming to his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. It was overwhelming to me. Nobody had time to mentally prepare themselves for it.

It was an accident. But not.

It was God's decision. God does not have accidents. It was Larry's time to go and be with our Lord.

It is the time for his loved ones to grieve and mourn for him.

And we are grieving and mourning greatly.

But we do not mourn as those without hope. We know that one day we will see him again in the presence of Jesus.

In the meantime, we still hurt. My sister's heart is shattered. And I feel helpless.

I prayed this morning and told God that I would take my sister's hurt from her if I could. Just give it to me, not her. I can't bear to see her pain.

And He said to me, "will you sacrifice your son or daughter? A grandchild?"

What a question! It set me back and made me think about what I had prayed. To take her hurt and loss on myself.

Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than this, to lay down his life for another."

Would I lay down my life for my sister? I think that I would. I like to think that I would. I love her so much.

But would I lay down the life of my child for her? If by doing so it would bring Larry back to life?

NO. Emphatically NO! I love my children too much. Losing one of my children would be more than I could do. The pain would be unbelievable.

God knew that would be my answer.

And the enormity of God's gift to man in the sacrifice of His Son washed over me. The sacrifice that gives us life. The pain and incredible heart rending torture He willingly and willfully accepted is hard to believe.

In order for God to give her heartbreak to me, I would have to sacrifice one I love. Feel the pain that she feels.

He said, "Kathy... this is not your cross to bear. It is your sister's. It is My plan for her. You can not carry it for her."

So I learned a lesson about the vastness of God's willingness to endure the anguish of a broken heart in order to love and save His creation. He laid down the life of His only Son to give us life. He suffered terribly as He watched His Son die a hideous death. For me... for you. I would never do that.

I also learned that I can not assume His plan and purpose for another person. No matter how much I want to. It is His plan for them. Not for me. It is their mountain to climb or valley to cross. It will be their mountaintop experience. Or pit of despair. Their ultimate victory in Christ. How could I ever dare to take that from them?

Oh... one more thing I learned. I am not helpless. I have a mighty and loving God and He hears and answers my prayers for those I love.

I am not helpless.

On the contrary, my prayers are powerful and effective. I lift my sister, her children, and grandchildren to Him. The One who loves. The One who heals. The One who hears. The One who restores. The One who gives life.

My God is mighty to save. He is compassionate and loving beyond all understanding. He has already made the necessary sacrifice that results in the healing and restoration of our hearts and souls.

Thank you God.. Thank you for sending Jesus.

And please loving Father, please speed the healing of my sister's heart and soul. I love her so much. And I know that You love her more.


No Expectations

We bring our requests to God. Lord, do this... do that. In faith, we expect Him to respond to us in some manner..solve our problems like some magical Santa Claus bringing gifts.

In truth, what are our expectations of God? What can we expect about Him or from Him?

These are truths about God: He is Creator. He holds the world in place with a Word. He is good. He is loving. He is Wise. He is Mercy. He is Grace. He is Power. He is Truth. He is Faithful. He keeps His Promise.

These are just a few of the basic expectations we have.

So when we approach Him with our list, what should we expect? That He will change to suit our needs and wants and desires?

If there is one thing true about God, it is that He is unchanging. So why would we expect Him to change for us?

Then again... why do we expect anything from Him at all?

He has proven Himself to us over and over. He has given us sign after sign of His power and faithfulness. We fully expect Him to continue to do so.

But we reach a point where we must come to a decision. An emotion free and intelligent decision based on our experience with God. Based on the knowledge of who He is or has been to us. A choice to be the person He created us to be and expects us to be.

What are His expectations of us (me)?

He is the light of the world. When He resides in us, we become that light. So we should live as creatures of light. But we don't. Why? because we have not made a conscious free will choice to live that way. We are still drawn by the darkness of this world to participate in dark.

Sure, we may have made a choice to believe in Him, to accept His salvation through Christ. But does that mean that we have made a choice to live our lives in His light? To serve Him with our lives?

We may even be serving Him in some capacity, but other than that service, are we living for Him? Are we, like the disciples, willing to exchange our lives for His light? Are we willing that every breath allowed to us be breathed in Him? Or are we too concerned with our expectations of Him for ourselves? Our expectations for our lives, our stuff, our happiness.

If God is who he says he is, and we choose to live mediocre lives skipping from dark to light to dark to light, then we are doing Him and ourselves a huge disservice.

Make a choice. What has God done for you? Who is He to you? What signs has He given to you? Make a choice based on your answers to those questions.

What right do we have to come to him with any expectation for ourselves?

We should have no expectation of God other than that He is. He said "I am that I am." Why should we expect anything else?

We should have no expectation of God other than that in His "I AM" He has a plan for us. His will for us. His will and His plan for us is for our good and it is perfect. A perfect plan for our lives given to us by a perfect God.

Our will should be set aside. Given over to Him. Consciously. Purposefully. With complete and utter understanding that what we think is right or wrong for us is inconsequential. Only what God wants for us is important or carries any meaning at all.

Give Him a chance to prove that His plan works. To show that every thing He ever said is true. That every promise He ever made will come to pass. Have no other expectation of Him. And be prepared to be amazed.

We Are His

In my family, we have a saying:  "Remember Who You Are!"     It started with my grandfather years ago.   He would tell it to  his children as they grew.    When they left home to begin their own families, his words were  passed down through the generations.    It is a banner over our house. 

What my grandfather meant was that his children should remember that they belong to a family,.  They belong to him.    He meant that they should behave themselves and live with personal integrity and honor.  He meant... You are mine!  You carry my  name.     You are mine!   I love you.   You are mine!  You represent me in the world.    You are mine!   I am here for you always.

These are the foundational truths of our family.    Truths that give us a basis for living lives of  integrity.
Integrity defined:   The quality of being honest and morally upright.  The state of being whole or unified.   Soundness of construction.   These are some definitions of integrity.

If you read the Bible, then  you are familiar with the story of  Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah from the book of Daniel.

What?   You're not familiar with those names?   Well, maybe you recognize the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.   Does that ring a bell?

These three young men from Jerusalem were taken captive by an evil king  Nebuchadnezzar  and forced into his service in Babylon.    They were in training and were told what to eat and drink.    But they refused to eat the king's rich food and instead lived on a diet of healthy fare.  

Nebuchadnezzar, being the all powerful evil king,  decided to change their names to suit his fancy.    Hananiah which means "Yah has been gracious." was changed to Shadrach - which means "inspired of Aku".    Mishael which means "Who is what God is?" was changed to Meshach - "belonging to Aku".    Azariah, which means "Yah has helped."  was changed to Abednego - "servant of Nego".   
Their Godly names... names that spoke not only of their God, but of who they are in God's sight, were changed to names that venerated the pagan gods being worshipped in Babylon.   He  must have thought that calling them by these pagan names would change the foundation of who they were. 

They exhibited excellence in their character and were promoted to high positions in the land with power and authority.     They were hated by some and those that hated them sought to bring them down.  

When the king declared that all in his land would worship his idol or die, these three men continued to worship their one true God.   Their detractors rushed to the king with the news! 

They were told to worship the pagan gods, but they refused to bow down.  They were given ample opportunity to repent of their stubbornness and foolishness.    Just bow down and and everything will be alright.   Go along with it.  Agree.  Blend in.   Make us happy.   Make us feel better.  Your lives will be all cushy and wonderful.  Every one will love you.   Aw come on.  Just bow down.  What's it gonna hurt?
Then things took a serious turn.    Look!   They are stoking the fire in the furnace right now!    If you don't bow down to this idol, you are going to die a horrible death.

In the face of a threat to their lives, to their faith and belief, to the very essence of who they were, they made a choice.

These three refused to be intimidated by threats or to capitulate to  worldly reasoning.   They refused to become what the evil king had named for them.   They remembered their God and the Godly names that they had been given at birth.    They chose to live up to His expectations and His original names for them.  They were upright and unified in their faith.   They trusted the soundness of God's design for them.

As a result of their faith and personal integrity, their story has  become a legacy of the power  and faithfulness of God to save His people in even the worst circumstance.  

In the middle of the conflagration, God saved them.    The king of Babylon and the people of Babylon witnessed the hand of God  move to save His children.   

Nebuchadnezzar was so overwhelmed by the display of God's power that he not only promoted and praised  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he instructed the entire land to respect  their God.

What about  us?   As we are living in what some call a modern day Babylon, do we exhibit any integrity in our lives?     Who are we?   Who does God say that we are?  

He calls us His creation, His children, the Joint Heirs of Jesus, His Bride,  His Chosen Ones, His Forgiven Ones, His Disciples.   This list goes on and on, but it boils down to one thing.   We are His.   We are named by Him.   We are  His.   He loves us.   We are His.  We represent Him in the world.   We are His.   He is there for us always.   He is the banner over us.

The world may call us by other names, but God sees and knows our hearts and our secret places.   They world may try to deceive us  with promises and subtle threats, but God gives us His truth.  The world may choose to hate us and try to destroy us, but God has proven over and over that He will keep us from destruction.     We are not perfect.   We are forgiven.   We are His. 
God calls us to remember who we are in Him  and  to live our lives in that truth.   God  has not changed.  He has not forgotten.    He will do for us what He did for these three men.    And He will be glorified and praised even by those that deny Him.

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel  and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 

 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this." 

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.  (Daniel 3: 28-30)