Rwanda Trip 2017 – Day 9

Tuesday, January 20
Ok, I admit it. I’m a sunrise-a-holic. We had another beautiful sunrise today. Then we got ready to leave by 8:15-8:20 to go to the devotional at the Dream Center. Only at 8:15 someone came running to get us because we were late. Things started at 8:00 AM, not 8:30. So…we showed up after the music started. As they sang, I prayed for God to nourish my soul since all but one of the songs were in Kenyarwandan. Even without understanding the language, I could sense the Spirit of God moving among us. 
John Africa, our main liaison on their trip, led the devotional reminding us of the goodness of God. As they were getting ready to close, one of the pastors, Pastor Fred, closed us in prayer. He made a few announcements before he prayed, and Lucy and I both felt for the interpreter as the pastor switched between Kenyrwandan and English. Interpreting is never easy, whatever languages are used. I got to see a friend from our previous trip, Rose, who used to work in the Dream Daycare Center, but now works in the main offices of Africa New Life at the Dream Center.
We got to see a secondary school that’s on the road to the guest house. We had wondered about that school while driving by many times; today we visited. I visited two classes. The first class was a computer training class. The school had gotten the computers in April and kids were still learning how to use them. I had the chance to observe this class with Amanda and we gave him some suggestions on ways that he could use space better and make the class more student directed. (Most of the good ideas were from Amanda, though.) 
The next class I visited was an economics class. I was blown away as I walked into a class of 50 kids in 6 or 7 groups. While the groups were large, they were all working on questions written on the board about price fluctuations. I believe half of the groups worked on one question and the other half worked on the other question. After a short time, the teacher called on a group to present their findings. This group gave their report, and then the floor was open to questions. The group had to defend their positions. After that, groups were asked if anyone had anything to add to the list of responses. Additions were made and defended. I should note that each group had to give an example of their statement. When the second question began, the fireworks started. A student asked a question, the presenter defended, and more questions and defenders came into the debate. Throughout, the debate was orderly and well mannered. I was smiling in awe as I watched the proceedings. The teacher didn’t let anything get out of hand, but he let the kids speak. When questions were asked of him, he directed it towards the class to answer. I had to leave a little before class ended, so I couldn’t tell the teacher how much I appreciated what I saw. 
John Africa joined us for lunch and we got an interesting discussion on Rwandan and Ugandan culture. A number of the teachers in Rwanda, including John, are from Uganda. I asked about this a couple of days ago, and found out that when Rwanda moved from French to English for education, many in Rwanda didn’t speak enough English. So, people recruited in Uganda which had been a British colony. We also learned about cows and their significance in the culture. Then, Lucy and I shared our stories. 
After the long double feature, we went out on a home visit to Amanda’s sponsored child. While we were at the sponsorship office, we saw our daughter’s sponsored child again. The family was big and included two adopted children. One heart-breaking prayer request was when the mother asked for prayers for the finances so that one of the daughter’s could go to school. They kept chasing her away because she couldn’t pay. (That’s one of the reasons to sponsor!) The other heart-breaking prayer request was one that we hear often: prayers that the father will be able to get a full-time job with steady income. So many are unemployed here, not because they aren’t willing to work, but because jobs are not available. They take part time jobs, or do whatever they can to keep their families eating food. The roads are full, every day, with people trying to earn a living. Old, one speed Schwinn’s bikes are often used as packhorses, people pushing them uphill loaded with water containers, or bunches of bananas. If you’re a businessman with money to invest, look into Rwanda!
Then it was home again to relax, watch the effects of the setting sun, and share with family back home. We get about 12 hours of sunlight every day. We pack a lot of work into each day. And then we rest. We continue to love and support each other during our visits. God is good.

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June 20 – Victory is God’s

Mark 5:1-20; 2 Samuel 13; Daniel 7
One of the most amazing views from our location in Rwanda is the sunrise. When you wake up, you see the land shrouded in a haze. Through the mist, off in the east, rows of hills have a deep purple tinge from the beginnings of the light. City lights that shined through the night to guide the inhabitants, start to blink off as a deep orange glow appears at the top of the farthest mountain. As it spreads out, the orange glow is joined by a beautiful purple just beneath. The clouds are highlighted against the brightening sky. A rooster crows to herald the entrance of the sun which starts to peek over the mountain. After a short time, the sun’s orange globe makes a grand entrance, spilling light over the whole countryside.
As amazing as this grand entrance is, Daniel experienced an even greater “grand entrance” in his vision in the seventh chapter. He watched as one like a son of man entered the throne room of heaven and appeared before the ancient of days. Even more important than the entrance, though, was the purpose of the entrance. “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)
It is ironic that, as Daniel thought about the vision, he was disturbed and needed someone else to interpret the dream for him. And what an amazing interpretation it was. In short, it was a grand view of the future of the world. The end result was that God would win. No matter what all the coming kingdoms would do, no matter how great they seemed by the world’s standards, God would be in control. This vision occurred during the reign of Belshazzar. It’s a flashback to a time before Daniel 6. Perhaps, this knowledge gave him the strength to stand up to Belshazzar when God wrote on the wall. Perhaps this knowledge gave Daniel the fortitude to pray when he knew that praying would end up with him playing dances with lions.
It’s also a bit ironic that while I’m the writer in the family, my daughter Elizabeth helped with the wording of the first paragraph. No person holds all the truth and knowledge needed to be successful in the Kingdom of God. Daniel needed help in an area for which he was known to be an expert. There is no shame in consulting with others about God’s direction. At the same time, because we know the end of the story, that God and His people are victorious, we can have strength to face whatever difficulty may come our way. Dare I say that the worst affliction this world can hand out to us is death? What is that death compared to the surpassing joy of our relationship with God. I can walk with God because of the death of Jesus Christ; I have a home in heaven because of God’s grace. If that’s true, then what can any person do to me that could take away that joy? Stay strong today, follower of Christ. Whether the threat against you be minor or great, God wins. If God wins, then those who are “on His team” win also. Victory is ours, not by our might or cleverness, but by the mighty power of God!
Oh Lord, what an amazing promise I have of victory. Remind me of that promise with every sunrise, every person I meet, and every difficulty I face. Thank You for the victory that I have in Jesus Christ. Help me to share that victory with others and invite them to the celebration. 

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Rwanda Trip 2017 – Day 8

Monday, June 19
Our last team member came in last night. She had other commitments which prevented her from being with us last week, but she has seemed to fit right in. We had, of course, another beautiful sunrise, and we had more time to enjoy it today. We got a later start since we were visiting a school in Kigali, which will happen the rest of this week. This school uses a self-paced curriculum from the United States with adjustments for Rwandan life. They also supplement with experiments and projects. This school is where most of the kids of the Africa New Life staff go.
Lucy and I worked in a combined second and third grade classroom. We had the opportunity to check work, help kids do their work, and pray for the kids. The first time a kid came up to me and told me that her leg was hurting, I didn’t even think about praying for her because I forgot about the freedom we have in the Africa New Life schools. The teacher prayed for her, then later, her foot hurt, so Lucy prayed for her, then later, her arm was tired so I prayed for it. We think a few other kids had some needs that they wanted the muzungu to help with. I really liked that the kids set daily goals, and then worked to achieve them. A couple had to add to their goals because they had already done everything on their list. 
When we finished there, we left, reluctantly, and went back to our guest house for lunch. While at lunch, we began telling our stories. Connie led off today after lunch. We plan on telling stories at lunch and dinner every day. It’s amazing how united we are coming from such different backgrounds, teaching different subjects, and teaching different ages. Perhaps, just perhaps, there’s something to this idea of unity in Christ. 
After lunch, we had some down time to go shopping. We began by going to “Threads” which is a store on the Africa New Life Campus. One of the things Africa New Life does is help women learn the trade of sewing. When we went to threads, some people picked out already made items, others got measured for custom made items. This year they had a coffee bar inside the threads, so Lucy and I were able to sit down and enjoy a beverage while we waited for others to finish getting measured. 
After that, we went to an interesting market. Lucy had a few things she was looking for, so we didn’t get too tempted by most of the goods available. We could have decorated a few houses with all of the decorations available in all the little shops that were there. We didn’t get to half of the shops in the market, but we eventually found what Lucy was looking for, or a reasonable facsimile of them, and a few other things besides. 
After that, we came back to the guest house. Some of the team went out walking, but Lucy and I took care of some laundry. Then, it was dinner time. Emma (short for Emmanuel) is our cook and he continues to do an amazing job. After dinner, Mandi told her story. What both stories we heard today had in common was the redemptive love of Jesus

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June 19 – Remaining Faithful

Mark 4:21-41; 2 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 12; Daniel 6
In 1765 the British passed the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act was supposed to be about gaining revenue for Great Britain to pay for the troops the Americas needed for protection. The colonists revolted, calling it “taxation without representation,” among other things, and eventually the British government relented. They didn’t learn. In the 1930s, the British sought to control the production of salt in India. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers began a protest. the British sought to breakup the protests with arrests, but eventually had to negotiate with Gandhi and other Indian leaders. 
Governments can make some pretty stupid laws when they’re trying to maintain power over people, especially economic power. In ancient times, bad advisors could work on kings to enact bad laws for many reasons. Daniel had to deal with some of the effects of those bad laws. After Darius and the Medes overthrew the Babylonians and came into power, some of the leaders thought they had a way to get rid of Daniel. They convinced Darius to make a law that people could only pray to him for 30 days. “So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:9-10)
If you read that whole story, you will note an amazing fact about Daniel: the only way these jealous administrators could find any way to discredit Daniel would be in his faithfulness to God. In business and in his personal life, Daniel’s reputation was flawless. They sought to turn his regular practice of prayer into a club to use against him. They made the preferred punishment so devastating, that Daniel couldn’t escape. Daniel’s response was to continue praying. Naturally the others caught him in the act, and Daniel faced the lion’s den. His faith was so strong that he didn’t even flinch in the face of the law; he disobeyed a stupid law because of obedience to God – willing to face any consequences.
Some people disobey laws, that happens. There is nothing good about disobeying laws just to disobey them. Sometimes laws are inconvenient. God doesn’t allow us to disobey laws just because they’re inconvenient. When laws seek to prohibit us from being obedient to God, then we are justified in being obedient to God and being willing to accept any punishment from the state for being obedient. Daniel realized that he could face the lion’s den when he went and prayed in defiance of the law. He prayed. He prayed because he knew that his life was in God’s hands. It’s easy to make compromises to a world that glorifies sin, because that allows us to keep on living. Life is going to happen today. You will be faced with choices that will allow you to remain faithful to God, or to compromise. You probably won’t face any lions dens; but you may face life changing consequences – loss of job or income; loss of prestige at work. The joy of walking with God will completely outweigh whatever loss you may think you’ll suffer.
Each day I have decisions that will change the course of my life, Lord. Give me wisdom to make the right decisions. Let my decisions reflect a heart of faithfulness so that my life will be a witness to Your love and grace. 

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Rwanda Trip 2017 – Day 7

Sunday, June 18
We got to sleep in today. I was able to sleep until about 5:30. I thought about sleeping a little longer, but…oh yeah, the sunrise! So I got out of bed, found some coffee, and read my Bible to an amazing sunrise. As I heard the rooster crowing, suddenly a change in attitude came over me: before I thought of the rooster as an annoyance; today, it suddenly became God’s way of calling all of us to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise.
Some of us went to the college and career group and helped the teacher, John Africa, teach the class. They have been dealing with important matters of career and training, or college, but he was concerned that they were forgetting to put God first. Our group leader shared some thoughts about where one’s treasure was, their heart was also. Then we broke into groups. Now, a quick backtrack to the beginning of Sunday School: they had a time of singing first. The singing was amazing, and loud! Now, back to the groups. I began by asking them questions.
It took a while for them to begin answering. When they did talk, they were very quiet. Before too long, we worked on a rhythm of me asking a question of them, and then they asked a question of me. The question that really got me going emotionally was when one of the young men asked me what motivated me to keep following Jesus. I thought back to the fact that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eighteen. I pointed out that I had followed Him all these years since then, 42, and that in all that time, He has been more than faithful in protecting me and guiding me. He saw us through so many bad times, and good times. I finished by asking, “How could I not be excited about following Him each day and seeing what He has in store for me.” Ok, I cried in class, ok, one of the students offered me a tissue. But what an amazing God we serve!
Then came worship. In an African church. Really. I mean REALLY!!!! I thought I had taken a short video of one of the songs, but I didn’t do things right. I didn’t want to detract from worship to play around with my phone, but let me tell you that the song part of the worship service was amazing. There is no way I can describe the joy of worship nor the power of the Holy Spirit working through the worship service, so let me just say that you need to start saving money so that you can make this same trip yourself. I’d really love to bring a team back here. The lyrics in one of the songs used the words, “I am rich.” Some of the people singing that were muzungu like our group that was rich enough to fly across the ocean to be there; others were people who lived in dirt houses without electricity or running water. They could sing “I am rich” because of the amazing grace that God has given them. The only complaint that Lucy and I have had about this trip is that we are missing three Sundays at our home church, and only getting one Sunday at church in Kigali. 
We had a guest preacher this Sunday, and while we would really have enjoyed hearing Pastor Charles preach, we didn’t miss a beat with this white preacher. Pastor Charles noted that he could bring it like an East African, and he wasn’t wrong. He did an amazing job of blending his sermon in with upcoming events in the church and his message resonated well with our discussions in Sunday School. 
After experiencing this heavenly worship, we went to Heaven to eat. Well, that was the restaurant’s name. After eating, we shopped there at Heaven, and then two other shops. While at the first shop, I started greying out. I had experienced this in Kageyo just before we met our African daughter. When she came, the feeling disappeared. I originally thought it was low blood pressure, but now wonder if it’s oxygen deprivation. Kigali’s elevation is over a mile high at points and with other medical issues, going up into certain areas might cause that problem. I’ll have to be careful in upcoming days. We bought a few things, and in the one store that i let Lucy go in unsupervised, she picked out something for me!
We got home early because most of us were tired. There was another market we were thinking of going to, butI don’t think I could have handled it. I had a great conversation with Je Je, our guide and translator about how God saw us through Lucy’s cancer battle. Then, back at the guest house, I had the unique opportunity of seeing my writing through the eyes of another person as Mandi, one of our team members read my devotional and trip record. Hearing her laugh at the right parts made me smile. We haven’t had dinner yet, but I’m going to post this a little early today just because I can. Please continue to pray for us!

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June 18 – “Who Ya Gonna Call?”

Mark 4:1-20; 2 Samuel 9; 2 Samuel 10; Daniel 5
You’ve probably heard someone say it if something strange happened: “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Ok, I probably have to apologize for doing that right now because some of you will be singing that song all day long now. They’ve become a cultural phenomenon that comes up in discussion anytime people go through weird events. We might use different parts of the song, because after all, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” Everyone knows, though, that for weird events in your neighborhood, you call Ghostbusters.
Ok, I know that’s fiction and things like that never happen, right? No one really calls anything like a ghostbuster. Unless, maybe you happen to be the king, and you happen to be partying, and you happen to take the goblets that came from the Temple of the Lord and use them to drink and salute the false gods of the land. If that happens, you might have a problem with the Hand of God writing you a message. If that happens, you might not be able to all a ghostbuster, but you might be able to call Daniel. “So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, ‘Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom.’” (Daniel 5:13-14)
Daniel was the go to wise man when things got weird in Babylon. He was the go to guy for one reason: his commitment to God. God did some strange things there. People walking in a fire and not burning up, people getting messages in dreams and needing interpretation, exiling a king for 7 years, and now, handwriting on the wall. Belshazzar was the new king, and he was frightened. He offered Daniel the third spot in the kingdom to read the writing on the wall. I guess that would make him the Vice-Vice-King. The response Daniel gave, though, was not one designed to win friends and influence people. I don’t think Daniel liked the new king: when Nebuchadnezzar got bad news, Daniel wished it was for his enemies; when Belshazzar got the warning from God, it didn’t take him long to let him know what God was trying to say. 
We may not see some of the weird things that Daniel saw in Babylon in our world. At the same time, God speaks to people in different ways. Many times they won’t understand what God is saying. If you are a friend, and you have shown this other person your love for God, they may come to you, seeking wisdom from God in their situation. if you want to be ready to help, and you should be, then you need to be close to God before the weird situation arises. Daniel was known for his prayers, which was used against him later. He was known for his wisdom, which he would freely confess came from God. And, he was known for studying God’s word. If you want to be the one your friends call when trouble comes, you need to be ready to act when the need arises. Draw close to God each and every day.
Oh Lord, so many are experiencing Your presence without realizing the truth. I pray for my friends who are going through those experiences. Give them guidance in who to seek out, and let them that I am ready and able to help. 

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Rwanda Trip 2017 – Day 6

Saturday, June 17
We got to leave a little later today, the sun was beginning to peek over the mountains before we took off. We were short one team member who was sick, so the group presenting today had to adjust their plans. In addition, the devotional time was moved from first thing in the morning until the middle of the day so that we could have a music team and pastor that had played for Friday Night prayers, which run from 9:00 PM to midnight the night before. They did a great job of adjusting and presenting. 
One of the highlights of the conference was our break out times. I had the opportunity to continue working with the secondary science team. I was amazed both days at the intensity of their work and the depth of their questions. They are men of deep faith and had a great desire to improve their skills as teachers and in their ability to transform the lives of their students by sharing their love of Jesus.
I mentioned the music and the devotional time. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to experience worship with my fellow teachers and brothers and sisters in Christ here in Rwanda. I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a teachers conference like this. As the conference finished, we took a group picture, or rather many group pictures. We began with all of the teachers and then took pictures with each group of teachers from each city. The people in charge asked the group from America to sit in chairs with everyone else standing behind. The teachers didn’t always follow the instructions. It was hilarious as they kept moving around and jumping in and out of the picture and sitting down in front of the American team. The leader was getting frustrated but our team was cracking up. 
There was a lot of relief on our team when the conference was over and we were headed back to the guest house. Along the way we saw many large trucks sitting along the side of the road. They were being held back from heading into Kigali until later so that the traffic would not back up so much. We got back to the guest house, had about a ten minute break and headed out to go shopping – mainly for coffee and tea. Lucy stayed back and rested, so I was shopping without adult supervision. Let me just say that I won’t run out of coffee for a week or two after we get back home.

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June 17 – Stop! Look Around…

Mark 3:20-35; 2 Samuel 7; 2 Samuel 8; Daniel 4
Warnings come to us in many different ways. If you’re driving, an orange sign is the official way that you see that there’s trouble ahead. There are a few other ways, also. Sometimes, it may be a person with a flag to let you know that there’s construction in the area. Other times, it may be a person waving cars down, perhaps looking for help. Flashing lights from an oncoming car might be a warning to slow down because a policeman is up ahead waiting for people speeding. 
Sometimes, we listen to those warnings; at other times, people laugh at them. Usually the laughing doesn’t last long as the driver may face extra congestion or get pulled over to the side of the road to have a nice chat with an officer. The officer’s advice to slow down usually comes at a high price. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a warning in a dream. He couldn’t understand the dream, so he called on Daniel to help. As Daniel explained the dream, he gave the king some advice: “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” (Daniel 3:27)
Daniel had developed the kind of relationship with the king that he could be honest about anything. Imagine telling a king to renounce his sins. Most kings had this idea that they were in their position because of their greatness. Some would claim that God had placed them in their position. In any case, kings could be proud and would have the power over life and death, yet Daniel came right out and gave the king this advice while interpreting the dream. In short, the advice can be about anyone: stop doing what’s wrong; start doing what’s right; be kind to the people you’ve been putting down. 
I don’t know if anyone else has the threat against them from God that Nebuchadnezzar had, but the advice of Daniel is still good advice for all people, especially those who are financially prosperous. Often those who are financially prosperous have forgotten those who are struggling and are taking advantage of others to get ahead. The oppression comes not just from direct attacks on people who are in poverty, but many times by thoughtless behavior that allows people to suffer when the oppressor can change the circumstances. The way out of being an oppressor begins by noticing those who are oppressed and working to make a difference. Begin treating all people as God’s children, instead of looking at them as resources to be used. Start finding ways to offer a hand up out of the bad circumstances so that they can become the people that God has called them to be. King, entrepreneur, rich or even poor – the message is the same: give up your sins, start doing what’s right, and practice kindness towards all people, especially the oppressed.
Lord God, how often do I go on through life not even noticing those who are oppressed by the world. Open my eyes to let me see those being oppressed. Change me so that I have a willing heart to be Your servant to them. 

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Rwanda Trip 2017 – Day 5

Friday, June 16
We left before the sunrise again, today. The teacher conference is being held in Kayonza, the city we visited on Wednesday. It’s being held in a hotel on the main road. We had a bit of miscommunication regarding the site, but eventually got there. We had a good chance to fellowship and talk with some of the teachers before things got started. 
Johnson gave the keynote address about the importance of Christian education. Then we broke for tea and a group discussion. Because things were running late, they combined the tea and the discussion. This discussion was not an easy one for anyone and it was hard to get a good conversation going. Near the end of time, my fellow teachers eventually opened up a little more and we kept talking past the time we were supposed to leave, so, I gulped down what was left of my African Tea and rushed back into the conference room. The rushing was probably a good idea since I would be leading off our team’s presentation. 
We presented on Active Participation with the idea of planning for active participation in the classroom. After our presentation, we broke for lunch. After lunch, we broke into subject area groups. I got to work with some amazing secondary science teachers. We began by breaking into groups based on what area of science they worked with most. We had three groups: Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. We talked about the expectations of developing a lesson plan for an upcoming unit that would use at least one of the active participation methods that we had talked about. 
Then I got to model a couple of other techniques by stopping them 5 minutes into the writing to ask how it was going and what they were looking at doing. If they were having problems, I questioned them to bring out some ideas. After about 10 more minutes, I stopped them again to check on their progress and suggest they consider including group work in their plans. That’s when I talked to them about the two informal assessments I had just done. This group worked hard. The country is moving towards competency based standards instead of knowledge based standards. These teachers seemed eager to gain whatever they could from the conference. 
The next group took over and did a fantastic job of getting the teachers involved in some of the participation methods. Janet dancing will be forever remembered. The Rwandan teachers showed a lot of creativity as they worked through these participation methods. Then it was on to tea, again, and group discussion. We were supposed to leave at 5:00. Many of the groups went into overtime – including mine. This time, we didn’t get focused on the work that we were supposed to be doing, but had a great Q & A session about assessment. The idea of informal assessment seems to be a tough concept for them in part because their national assessment is so important, that they have trouble getting a grasp on any other form of assessment.
So, we piled into the van and headed back to the Guest House. We ran into traffic again, but finally made it home to a surprise: Carolyn Davidson. She was part of the team we were on when we first came to Rwanda in 2014. We had a good time catching up with her. She has moved to Rwanda now and is teaching English. All in all, it was a good day. 

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June 16 – “Even If He Doesn’t…”

Mark 3:1-19; 2 Samuel 6; Daniel 3
What’s your “breaking point?” You claim to be a follower of Christ, what would it take for you to deny Him as your Savior and Lord – even if it’s for a short time? What if circumstances got pretty bad, and nothing was going right, for a long period of time? Most true followers of Jesus would scoff at that idea. What if your life was on the line and the only way to save your life was to renounce Jesus? It might make sense to renounce Christ then. After all, how can you praise God when you’re dead? How can you lead others to Christ if you’ve been murdered?
The early Christian martyrs understood the question, and their answer was a resounding “Never!” The martyrs of today, often Christians in the Middle East echo that defiant faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave that same answer when asked to deny their faith by worshiping an idol. The king didn’t really want true worship, he just wanted people to know who was boss and follow his orders. He threatened them with death for refusing to obey his decree. They let the king know that God would save them. “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)
That last statement is an amazing statement of faith. To paraphrase, they told the king, “God will save us, but even if He doesn’t, we’ll go to our deaths knowing that we’ve stayed faithful to Him.” You probably know the rest of the story: the enraged king fired up the furnace seven times hotter than normal; the soldiers commissioned to throw the three faithful men into the furnace died from the heat as they approached it; and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked around in the furnace with God without even getting a suntan. King Nebuchadnezzar changed his tune and after getting the men out of the furnace, proclaimed protection for all who followed their God. How easy it would have been to avoid the issues and the furnace by making a small concession to their faith: “God, we don’t really mean it, so forgive us when we bow down to the idol. Then we can live to praise your name.” 
Most of our decisions about maintaining our faith aren’t life or death. It’s easy to look at this story and admire the courage of Daniel’s three friends knowing that we’d be willing to die for our faith. Then, we run into those little, everyday situations where we have a chance to show people about our love for God – and shrink back from proclaiming our faith. We join in the office gossip; we fail to talk about our love of God when given a chance; or we willingly participate in things we know are wrong, but do so believing that it will help other people come to Christ in the future because they knew a Christian that was a good sport about things. It’s possible that staying faithful to God at all times may cost us friends, business, jobs, or ultimately our life. Our relationship with God is more important than any of those things. In the long run, our faithfulness will draw more people to Him and give us more joy than any compromise will ever do.
Lord, I’ll have many decisions to make today. Some of them will be choices between faith or compromise. Give me the strength to stay faithful no matter what the earthly consequences may be.

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