Monday, April 19, 2010

Exile - more thoughts!

How much would it take for God to put us on the naughty step?

I spent some time with another local church working on the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, (Daniel 1 & Daniel 3 & Daniel 6).

I was pondering about these men of faith trapped in a country that didn't understand them, that sought to enforce a religous worldview that was contrary to their deeply held faith, that used the force of law to insist that they comply with the latest cultural religous shift. They were in Exile and they were called to stand firm in their faith and not sucumb. The words of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego ring in my ears...

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Then I began to wonder about the Christians in our nation being told that they cannot wear crosses, that they have to approve of lifestyle choices that the Bible speaks against, that they must accept the new "secular" religion of Diversity without question... or else. And I being to wonder - Are we IN Exile already? Are we the Daniels, Shadrach's Mesach's and Abednegos, called to stand firm, called to say we will not serve you and even if God doesn't deliver us still we will not serve anyone else?

Are we as a nation reaping the rewards of lifestyles which God warned againt - the love of money, the love of self, the love of things rather than people? Are we ON God's naughty step?

And then I remember the words that God spoke to Solomon as the first Temple was dedicated - "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chron 7:14) - and I know what I have to do, what I think we have to do - Humble ourselves, Pray, Seek his face, Turn from our wicked ways and wait for His mercy and His grace to flood our land!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I've been thinking a lot recently about Exile. In the Old Testament - the first part of the Bible written before Jesus was born - God's people end up in exile. First the nothern tribes known as Israel and then the Southern tribe Judah.

I've been reading the books written by two prophets - Isaiah and now Jeremiah, and we spent a lot of time in church thinking about Isaiah in particular.

One image just won't go away. When Jacquie was preaching she compared God sending the nation into exile because it had fallen away from Him and betrayed His trust to a paretn putting their children onto "the naughty step".

I know, I know, we're not allowed to call it a Naughty step any more - a "Thinking Step" then.

God, having called a nation for His own, puts up with a lot of hassle. He sends preacher after preacher, prophet after prophet, sign after sign. He's counting 1...... 2......

And when He get's to three the people are off, onto the Naughty Step of exile for 70 years. He lets them be taken away from the land He has given them because they have failed him.

It got me thinking - What would it take for God to put us on the naughty step? At what point will Jesus say, "Enough!" Is it enough that we live in a time of Grace rather than Law? Because of what Jesus did on the Cross God's love and mercy are now the standards by which we are called to live, not the demands of the Law. Surely "Exile" is not part of God's plan?

And then a disturbing thought comes to me. I love my children, yet I will send them to the "Naughty", sorry, the "Thinking Step", even though I will forgive them when they say sorry, even though I will hug them when the time of "Thinking" and "Repenting" (saying sorry), is over. Even though I use Love and Mercy and Grace in trying to bring them up (or at least I try to), sometimes some "time out" is needed to help them understand what they have done.

How close are WE to God's naughty step?