Thursday, May 19, 2016

But if not, He is still good.

Daniel 3:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 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.

I love this passage because I believe it shows where our hearts should be.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into a furnace to burn to death. If it were me, I'd probably be in a state of fear, panic and tears. I'd most likely be incapable of functioning, and begging God to get me out of the situation...
But instead of panicking and begging, these men had the utmost confidence in God. They knew that if it was God's purpose, He would deliver them and save them from this mess. They trusted him to do so - but their faith didn't stop there! These men also trusted God enough to say, "even if He doesn't save us from this, we will still serve him." They knew that their God was right and holy, and if He chose to leave them in the situation, they trusted that He knew what he was doing. Their trust in Him was not conditional.
How often is our trust in God conditional?
How often do we think "God, if you don't get me out of this, you must hate me..."

How often do we push God away when pain comes into our lives?

How often do we panic when financial difficulties come, believing the lie that He won't- or can't- make a way for provision?

How often, when things are going on in our lives, is our first reaction to believe that God doesn't care, that He doesn't see, that He won't take care of us?

I know I do, and I'm sure I'm not the only one!
Exodus 14:12: It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
This verse in Exodus is where the Israelites have given into fear, and believe the lie that God is going to leave them in the desert to die. Even after seeing all of His miracles, his provision, His rescuing them from Pharaoh, parting the red sea- they panicked over something as silly as food.

So many times when we read about the Israelites, our reaction is "what is wrong with those people? How could they NOT TRUST GOD after seeing all that He had done?"

But if we really look at it, we do the same thing. I know that I act like the Israelites more often than I would like to admit. I have seen the miracles. I have seen the provision. I have seen God show up and show out when I saw no way. Yet, many times, when things go wrong, my first reaction is to panic instead of trusting God.

When my husband and I left Milwaukee to come to Marshfield, we had nothing. We had no idea how we were going to survive, get furniture, feed ourselves, get a vehicle. But God made a way, and just a few short years later, we have everything we need and more than we could have ever dreamed. There was a time when, early in our marriage, my husband got laid off from work. I was pregnant, and we had no idea how we were going to pay the bills. Our first reaction was to panic and scramble to plan what we were going to do to fix the situation. We were planning on leaving and going back to Milwaukee.

Then I opened the mail one day. Inside was a $3,000 check from my school, for a grant that they were supposed to have given me months earlier, but for some reason they hadn't. We took it as a sign that God was telling us to stay right where we are, and that He would take care of us. And He did.

We are in a situation now where we are badly in need of another vehicle so we can continue to do our ministry work. We have an opportunity this weekend to purchase a car at a very good price, yet we have no idea where the money will come from. I am doing my best to not be an Israelite and panic. To try and figure out a way on my own. To not let myself get in the mindset that if God doesn't provide a way for us to buy it, He doesn't care.  
The thing is, God is always good. Always. He is perfect, so all that He does is perfect, regardless of what we think.

If we can't get this vehicle, I have to trust that it wasn't meant for us, and that God has something better. I have to trust that if it's meant to be, He will provide. I have to trust that if not, He is still good.

I can't let myself become an Israelite through this situation. I know God's character. I know He is good. I know He cares. I know He provides what we need, not necessarily what we want. Having an Israelite mentality only pushes us away from God, and wrecks our faith. I look back on my life and all of the ways He has protected, provided, and set divine appointments for us to meet the people we needed to meet, and I can see His hand in all of it, unfolding His plan. God stays the same, and He will continue to have a good plan for my life, no matter what the circumstances look like.
If God had left Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo in the flames and let them die, He would still be holy, He would still be right, and He would still be good!
In the same way, if my countless prayers for protection for my family had not been answered, God would still be good. If my friends all abandoned me, my husband was taken away, and I lost all I had, God would still be good. If we aren't able to get a vehicle for awhile, He is still good, and He will always make a way.

His plans are always good, even if they don't look like we think they should. I really believe that a lot of times when our circumstances are dire, God will use them to show His power in them. He will make a way that could ONLY be made by Him. He will show Himself strong, and people will know that He is real. Our faith will also be strengthened, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that it was God who turned the situation around. We can recall these moments in future situations when our instincts are to panic, and remember His faithfulness- and that He will be faithful again.
Thank God that He gives us even more than we need! I am so thankful for my wonderful, my wonderful little boys, and all of my family. I am thankful for my friends, our church family, our ministry, and everything that He has given.
But if He took that all away or never blessed me again, He is still good. And I should still praise Him!

In Job 10:2, after his wife tells him to curse God and die because of all the hardship and loss they are experiencing, Job answers:" Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” I opened my bible up to that verse the other day, totally by accident. What an eye opening verse.

Job's reaction was totally opposite of the Israelite's. It  reminded me to remember that God is God, and that sometimes hardships are a part of His plan. Who am I to question Him? We have to trust that God is good when things are going really real for us, and also when things (from our perspective) are going totally wrong. He has a plan in all of it.
Job 23: 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

God promises to use all of the tests, trials, and desperate situations in our lives for good (Romans 8:28). He is refining us through them. He is burning off the junk that we carry like fear, anxiety, pride, and doubt. We just have to hold onto His promises, and trust that He is still good and still God, even in the furnace or desert, and that we will come out better and stronger on the other side as long as we hold onto Him.

God, give me the strength to not be an Israelite today. Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Photos from the second annual CROSSroads To Recovery tattoo fundraiser at New Life Ink!

This past Saturday, we had our second annual tattoo benefit for CROSSroads to Recovery. We had an absoluely fabulous time. We would like to thank New Life Ink in Schofield and the AMAZING artists that work there for their generosity in holding this benefit. We would also like to thank everyone for coming out. There was an AMAZING show of support. God bless all of you for sowing into a great cause- and helping drug addicts find healing from addiction through the power of Jesus Christ!