Sunday, March 11, 2007

you are Tobi Vail

Yesterday morning there was a men's breakfast at Centrepoint here in Guildford. Well, it wasn't at Centrepoint, it was at the Methodist church...such are the joys if being a small church in an expensive area of the country. I like it. We look at Daniel 1. I think Daniel is my favourite book of the Bible that i've never actually read. I'd heard it preached on at word alive and Forum, but i don't think i've ever read all of it. I look forward to going there soon. Here are some things i learnt.

It's hard not being at home.
Daniel and his collegues were in exile. They weren't at home. They probably believed they'd get back there again one day but for the time, they were stuck thousands of miles away. They were doing well for themselves, or rather, God was doing them well, but they were given different names, which can't have been much fun, and they weren't free. Now i'm not a fan of picking a charecter in the Bible and saying 'yep, thats me' but there are, i think, direct things we can learn from Daniel. It's hard to not be where we are meant to be. Daniel probably longed for Israel, we should long for Heaven. Our home. We need to keep our eyes on Heaven as Daniel kept his eyes on where he belonged. And this will have an effect.

Stand up speak up
Why do i think that Daniel was focussed on somewhere else? And why did this have an effect? Verse 8 sees Danial refusing to eat and drink the kings food. The Bible doesn't record what this food was, but we can probably reckon that it wasn't kosher, so Daniel didn't want to defile himself. So he spoke up. He didn't say 'just this once' he didn't compromise himself for an easy life, he stood up for what he believed and for the Lord. And the Lord honoured him for it. Daniel was healthier than anyone who ate the Kings food. He stood out, he did well. He knew that whatever delicious food was on offer it wasn't as good as the Lord. The Lord's name is sweeter than honey, it is honey on our lips. Christ calls us to bear our cross and follow Him. We might want to eat, drink and be merry, we might want to jump into bed with whoever we're going out with...but, Daniel was healthier from not eating the food. And i doubtr it was healthier in a weight watchers way...he was better. Inside and out. Christ is good and sweet and excellent. Things that are not Christ are not. Denying ourselves wordly pleasure is hedonism. Choose what's better.

I doubt Daniel made this decision on the hoof. If he's not eating the food, why not complaon about his new name? Why not stand out at the first oppotunity? Because we must be in the culture to save the culture. We can't live in our Christian ghettos, cowering under the lifeboat taurpalin and dashing out every so often to get people to join us. Paul became like a greek to the greeks for the Gospel. So we must be in our culture, watching films, reading books, going to the pub, but we must stand out, like Daniel. And we must decide to stand out. When we're alone in our room before going out, we must draw a line. It must be drawn then. It must be decided on then, because we won't be strong enough there and then. We must be strong when we can, and enforce it when we will. We must resolve to stand out. Standing out on a sunday morning is not enough. Jesus owns every day of the week, and we must respond to that.

[it's lovely to be sitting in my living room with all the windows and doors open, i'm glad winter is over. No blogging for a while because i'm canterbury for mission week, home for mothers' day and southampton for team days. go and read the Bible!]

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