Photo Credit: Into Weakness
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – Daniel 3:17-18
Any one of us who grew up in church has heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three young Jewish men exiled to Babylon. Three young men who were tasked to serve King Nebuchadnezzar in his palace. Three young men who worshiped the Creator God and Him alone.
In the historical account (Daniel 3), the Babylonian king ordered all in his realm to bow before a golden statue. Anyone who did not bow would be thrown to his death in a fiery furnace. These three would not bow. Their answer to the king (stated above) was a proclamation of their God’s ability to save them from death…and even if he did not save them, it did not matter. He alone would they serve.
This past Sunday morning after the early service at Movement Church, we drove a few blocks away to attend the worship service of Patterson Avenue Baptist Church.Photo Credit: Patterson Ave. Baptist Church, Bill Nieporte
That day we visited with a congregation who would gather two more Sundays and then disband as an organized church. We sat under the inspired and powerful preaching of Dr. Bill Nieporte. Dr. Nieporte didn’t flinch as he talked about their church “dying…but dying well”. He, nor any of the sweet believers we met that day, had been able to turn around the seeming inevitable. As an older congregation, their numbers continued to fall even in the midst of committed ministry to their community. They knew they would too soon get to the place they wouldn’t be able to manage the expenses of the facility itself.
With what Dr. Nieporte called “courageous faith”, they have given this magnificent old church building to Movement Church. Movement is rapidly growing out of our rented space, and you can imagine what an incredibly generous gift this is.
The congregation of Patterson Ave. Baptist Church is essentially passing a torch to our church to continue to be a light of God’s love to the community they have loved for so many years. One dear man we met, in his 70s, had been a part of this church his whole life (since “cradle roll”).
I’ve been so personally overwhelmed by this generous gift of those fellow believers…strangers until this past Sunday. Many shook our hands, some with tears in their eyes…welcoming us to what would become our own church gathering place. How humbling for us and how challenging as well.
As the pastor gently guided his church through their grieving, he talked of how God, throughout history has moved His people. In two Sundays, they would be “moved” from that location. He even soberly spoke of how a time might come, just as it did for them, when Movement Church could also be called by God one day to relinquish that property. The sanctuary was silent in the gravity of his words.
The place where we call home is far less important than the Person with whom we are home.
The most beautiful part of his message was that God moves His people, but He never leaves us. He is always with us wherever we are. Whether a palace or a furnace situation…He is with us.
“The next stage of our journey begins in two weeks. Stay on the path. Remain in the journey. God will walk with you every step of the way.” – Pastor Nieporte
[Your prayers are much appreciated for the dear church family of Patterson Ave. Baptist Church. Also for their pastor, Bill Nieporte, who not only loses his church family, but his work as their pastor, too.]
Now…back to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:
When Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe, wrote the lyrics to Even If, he had to have been inspired by those young men who went through fire, believing God alone was worthy of their worship. That story is riveting because God did save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (in fact, He, in some form, walked with them through the fire). However, God did not save them FROM the fire but THROUGH the fire.Photo Credit: YouTube, MercyMe
Millard’s own life and family experiences have at times been a saving “through the fire”.
“God is worthy long before any of those circumstances even showed up. In fact, what Christ has already done on the cross is probably the only thing we need to get through those circumstances. It’s a foundation that was built long before those difficulties came to be. This song is a declaration to God that even if He went silent and never said another word, He’s still worthy to be praised and that He’s our greatest hope in the midst of the trial.” – Bart Millard
Worship with me, please.
They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now
Right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage
Night after night
Reminding the broken
It’ll be alright
But right now
Oh right now I just can’t
It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
A little faith is all I have right now
But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength
To be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know the sorrow
I know the hurt
Would all go away
If You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can
It is well with my soul*