Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

VBS 2018 Day 4 <3 The gift we bring out of the fire of our battles

Good morning! 

I was doing fairly well getting these posts up in a timely manner, but we have come to the end of the ones I worked ahead on and we are back to me writing fresh from my quiet time and based on thoughts I have in the notes section of my brain…

so here we go, campers and let me say…

I much prefer the more organized and well-planned method, but we get what we get…from my heart to yours <3

We have talked about battles involving large armies this week, but most likely the battles you and I will face tend to be on a smaller and more personal level in our daily lives.

They don’t involve physical swords and weaponry.

But they are no less real and they are no less threatening.

And we may not even realize we are about to be engaged in a skirmish that could inflict devastating harm until we are in the midst of the heat of it.

Pun possibly intended.

Today, as you may have guessed by all the fire references, we will be looking at three men who were thrust into a battle simply because they would not conform to the pressure of their peers, their bosses or their culture.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are three characters familiar on flannel boards from our childhood.

Friends of Daniel who made the journey from Jerusalem to Babylon to be indoctrinated into all things pagan and yet had determined in their hearts to remain faithful to God, these men were tested time and again because of a decision made early and never compromised over.

In Daniel 3 we read the familiar story of the 90 foot statue of gold, most likely forged from the plunder of the Temple treasury vaults.

Commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to bow before this self-styled god man, the three refused and were reported to the King by a whole list of officials that you could probably recite with me because they are named numerous times throughout the twenty-five verses of this portion of the book of Daniel.

Say it with me since it’s VBS and we do this repetition thing when sitting cross legged around story time…

and it’s just fun to repeat big words when you are a kid…

“…the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the province…”

There now…don’t you feel accomplished?

So all those guys reported to King Nebuchadnezzar that our three friends:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were not following his order and refused to bow…

are you ready for another list?

“…whenever they heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music…”

I personally think this sing-song repetition of phrases makes a contrasting background for one of the most powerful portions of battle scriptures ever.

Because these three are pretty much destined to be incinerated in the very furnace from which the statue of gold had been formed.

But God.

God showed up in the furnace.

And the three men who had declared Him able to deliver were seen dancing through the flames with Him.

They celebrated the victory in the midst of what should have been the war because they had prepared themselves before they ever were thrown into the battle.

Like Tozer said on Monday, the outcome was determined before the first shot was fired.

Along with Daniel, they had set a purpose in their hearts from the start to not defile themselves in Babylon.

They knew God could deliver and yet had surrendered to the “even if He doesn’t.”

Whatever God did, they would bow only to Him.

Have you walked through the fire with a heart purposed to remain faithful “even if”?

Oh you will feel the heat, but you won’t be burned.

He may deliver or He may not.

But I can assure you, He will be with you.

And when you have danced in the fire of the hottest of trials with Jesus, you will never, ever be the same.

Let’s celebrate with something toasted…maybe a nice S’more?

May you savor His sweet presence with every bite and I will see you tomorrow <3

When it is all said and done <3

I finished Jeremiah today and it’s been a roller coaster.

I ponder the big push in Christian literature to find your calling and join God’s big adventure for your life…but I wonder.

How eager would we be to seek the “call” if the call was to be a weeping prophet?

But the call is irrevocable and whether Jeremiah was wired to weep or was God-shaped into what He needed to be…it was God who called him…at a young age…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations.   Jeremiah 1:4,5

While I have read through the Bible a number of times during the course of a year, and have certainly read parts and all of Jeremiah before, I have seen new things this time.

As I try and identify with the obedience of this prophet, I have been convicted in my own prone-to-compromise-to-avoid-conflict-ways.

Since my current text of the Chronological Bible puts everything in time line fashion, I discovered the ending of Jeremiah’s life is very different than I might have gleaned from my NKJV.

In my every day Bible, the ending chapters of the book are actually an addition to the end of the story. Scholars debate if it was written by Jeremiah or by one of his scribes. There is consensus for it as an historical record of the fall of Jerusalem.

They occurred before the end of Jeremiah’s story.

Jeremiah’s story ended in Egypt.

Where he was carried off by a rebellious remnant of Jews who hoped to flee from Nebuchadnezzar and the discipline of God for their idol worship.

And even in Egypt, as they blinked away  the smoke of incense burning in their homes to the gods of that land…they continued to ask Jeremiah for a word from the Lord.

He continued to say the same word, because God’s Word doesn’t change no matter how much we would like it to so that we can continue doing what we want to do.

In defiance, they shouted him down with the affirmation that they LIKED what they were doing…and they weren’t going to stop.

The women pointed to how things were so much better when they did the wrong thing.

They were happy and well-fed and prospering.

And so Jeremiah speaks one more prophesy regarding the inevitable fall of Babylon and we are left with this passage…

The words of Jeremiah end here. Jeremiah 51:64

How can so few words carry such a heavy message?

He spoke all God called him to speak and then he ceased.

Whether anyone listened or cared or changed, he fulfilled the call of God and then he ceased.

It is believed he was stoned to death by the stubborn people he tried to warn.

But his voice is not silent.

It speaks God’s heart to us now.

Whatever you are called to do or say…do it…until you are silenced.

Fulfill the call of God on your life, trusting in Him alone  <3

Sometimes you won’t get a lot of likes…and that’s ok <3

Pinch me because I actually had to put a jacket on when I was sitting outside to do my devotions this morning! 

We have had a beautiful week of mild summer temperatures. 

What a delight that is in the Midwest in late July!

While the weather and birds chirping was pleasant, though, the reading was hard. 

As I continue on with the passages detailing the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon; my heart aches. 

God had warned His people repeatedly about their ultimate demise if they did not turn back to Him…but they repeatedly did not listen.

So as the armies of Babylon are building siege ramps around the city of Jerusalem and gathering strength to annihilate the people and burn everything held dear inside the walls right down to the ground…they decide to seek the face of God. 

I read with such sadness this morning these words of the men King Zedekiah sends to Jeremiah…

“Please inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon makes war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all His wonderful works, that the king may go away from us.”   Jeremiah 21:2


Is this not heart-wrenching?

And not just for the recording of the actual event, but even as we look around us every day.

Whether it is a disobedient child who places himself in danger…or a group or government…or our own poor choices.

The sad story of having gone past all the warnings and all the good instruction and done what was right in our own eyes…and then when the consequences are falling down hard and fast…

to check in with God and see if maybe He will do one of those amazing and miraculous rescues.

It makes me fall to my knees. 

Jeremiah does deliver an answer from God. 

And the leaders of Judah don’t like it. 

They want Jeremiah to say what they want to hear.

Let’s not make that mistake. 

Lord, help us to be faithful like Jeremiah. Help us to not change the message to please the hearer but instead, help us to be faithful to Your word at work in us. 

Help us, O Lord, to not be dissuaded from speaking Your counsel, but give us strength and boldness to continue to testify to Your Word. Give us Your heart and mind, give us grace and mercy and humility. Make us steadfast and obedient. 

This one’s for Bud <3

We started a new series on the Holy Spirit in our class on Sunday and at the end of the lesson one of our members asked me a question. 

It’s so tempting to try and come up with an answer when you are sitting in front of a group of people who showed up to hear what you have to say. But I learned a looooonnnngggg time ago that it is perfectly fine to answer questions about Scripture, God, Jesus and life with an honest “I am not sure.”

I promised to try and find an answer and because the question was so intriguing to me, I jumped right in Sunday night and yesterday morning with a word search and chasing rabbits. Because…me…

So since I need to be ready in one hour to run a timed errand, I am condensing the three pages of notes and reining in all my thoughts and sharing the question and the answer uncovered thus far.

The question centered on the phrase about Jesus giving up or commending His spirit just before He died on the cross and did that mean the Holy Spirit or something else. 

So basically my understanding of the question was – Did Jesus somehow release the Holy Spirit just before He died.

Two gospels record this:

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.

(It should be noted this is the same expression used in Psalm 31:5…but that is for another day.)


John 19:30 So when He had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Here are some of the things I found regarding these passages and the word “spirit.”

In both of these passages the Greek word is “pneuma”; Strong’s 4154 to breathe hard, current of air; breath blast or breathe by analogy or figuratively; a spirit ie (human) the rational soul

Thus we can see, while it does have to do with the physical mechanics of taking in air and letting it out through the biology of our lungs, there is tied to it the concept of the soul/life of the being who is breathing.

We can see that more clearly by comparing to another word psuche; Strong’s 5590 with is the physical intake of air as compared to 4154 pneuma – the rational and immortal soul.

As I pondered this, I concentrated on my own breathing. 

Without thinking or reminding myself, I take in and release air unless I consciously attempt to hold my breath in. And even then there comes a point where I can not overcome my need to breathe and unless I were to somehow force the blockage, I will eventually either have to burst out the air being held and take in fresh or I will pass out and thus my pneuma will take over while I am unconscious. 

But beyond that I am more than my physical properties. 

Anyone who has stood over the body of a loved one who has ceased to breathe knows that the physical intake of air was not the essence of the person. 

That soul could not be held in the shell of a human body. 

And when we meditate on that and then go back to the passages above, we need to breathe in the truth of the passage deep, deep and deeper still into our minds, souls, bodies and spirits…because…

What Jesus gave up. 

What He willingly placed into the hands of the Father. 

Was not the intake and outflow of His lungs. 

It was His very life force. 

Jesus did not die by an involuntary and inevitable response to the suffocation of His lungs on the Cross.

By His will…by His determination…by His obedience…He pushed up one more time to say…




Death and sin have lost.

I have done what You sent Me to do.

And then He, Himself, fully God and fully man…the One who spoke and His breath formed all of Creation…this ONE…

bowed His head in worship to God…

gave up in surrender His essence of being…

into the hands of His Father.

He breathed out His soul to God. 

They didn’t kill Him.

He chose to die.

I laid awake much in the night thinking about the impact of this.

As my breath continued in and out, I thought how little I am in touch sometimes with the essence of who I am. 

I think a lot about myself…trust me.

I think about my physical and emotional and spiritual and mental needs…my space…my time…how I look…what I will wear.

But little to nothing about my soul..the essence of who I am…surrendered…worshipfully bowing my head and committing that life force to the One who showed me the way. 

Good question, Bud.

Thank you for making me think. 

How about you?

Will you stop today and just breathe in and out for a while and then imagine Christ voluntarily breathing out one last burst of air to say…

It is finished.

And would you also bow your head in worship and commit all that is the fullness of your life to Him? 

When Monday’s got you like…

I almost skipped posting today because I didn’t really feel like I had anything to add to anyone’s day.

But In the pouring out of my words and the pouring in of The Word over coffee with God this morning…I do have a word of encouragement in case one of you soldiers stops by for some kind of refreshment on your march today.

I marked up quite a few pages of prayer and mediation over the passages I am on in my Bible read through.

They opened up more of me where God is at work and true to the nature of His Word and character…reading and mediation led to confession and prayer and some more revealing, removing, cleansing and healing.

And as I finished my time and went to lay my pen down, the Spirit reminded me of a prayer of King David that I needed to utter to finish well the work He did in me this morning.

I don’t want to get up from a time with Him and go back to what I was.

I want to always be moving forward in His newest transforming work in my heart.

After reading Psalm 139 and 145, I pray for myself and anyone who would want to agree…

Oh LORD, You made me and You know me. I lay wide open all of my heart…all the deep places where life and sin and faulty wiring have left corrosion and I ask you to search it out.

Cleanse it with Your purifying fire, Your forgiving blood and Your healing waters.

Flood me with Your Holy Presence until all that is not of You is washed away.

Renew me in Your love today, O LORD.

Help me to seek Your face in all that I do.

Make me to be a vessel of Your light and Your life and Your love poured out and overflowing.

Lead me in the ways of Your righteousness, mercy and truth. Show me how to be in the world, but not of it.

Teach me how to look beyond what I can only see with my eyes, feel with my hands, hear with my ears.

Impress on my spirit those things that can only be known when I make You my reality.

All that You do is kind and good and right and true.

Help me to live knowing You are nearer to me than my own skin.

Let my cry come before You and LORD, let knowing this be more than enough <3

Thanks for stopping by… I hope you will be renewed and refreshed from God’s transforming and powerful love in all you do today <3