The Strength of His Presence

The actions (or inaction, actually) of three Hebrew friends led to a confrontation with Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. They did not prostrate themselves in front of a huge golden image, so Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be thrown into the furnace.

We started this story last week.

Daniel 3.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s calm response to Nebuchadnezzar infuriated him even further than before the confrontation, and his attitude toward them changed (Daniel 3:19). I think he stopped seeing them as employees who made a mistake and began seeing them as subversives, intent on undermining his authority. I can imagine an “after all I’ve done for you!” attitude. He turned to some workmen nearby and ordered them to heat the furnace as hot as it could possibly go. Continue reading

Integrity Doesn’t Yell

The statue was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. It was big, and they set it up in a wide plain. This thing was meant to be noticed, meant to be respected, meant to be worshipped. (Ninety feet is the distance between bases on an official MLB diamond. Nine feet is the length of a good-sized couch.) It wasn’t easy to make, and it wasn’t easy to erect. Think what it weighed! Continue reading

When It Rains

We had a lot of rain in East Tennessee this week. It reminded me of something Jesus said…

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  –Matthew 5:45b

When I was younger, rain meant we couldn’t play outside, so I thought Jesus’ comment about rain was a negative example, as in, bad things happen to both good and bad people. Later, I learned that in the ancient Near East, the sun and the rain were good things. Thus the application for us goes like this: “God gives out gifts of wisdom, talent, beauty, and skill according to his grace—that is, in a completely unmerited way.  He casts them across the human race like seed, in order to enrich, brighten, and preserve the world” (Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor, Penguin: New York, 2012. 191).  Without disputing this truth, I think the negative perspective is also true.  Consider this example… Continue reading