All In

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I am sure that you have heard of three guys from the Old Testament, Hananiah, Mishael, and Meshach. To quote: “Then the king told Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom there was no impairment, who were good-looking, suitable for instruction in every kind of expertise, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability to serve in the king’s court; and he ordered Ashpenaz to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king also allotted for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and ordered that they be educated for three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service.” So, they were smart, handsome, and something not mentioned in the scripture, wise. They were compelled to forsake the food and riches of the king and remain true to their God. Now these three young men, and the author of the tale, at the end of the training were found to be ten times better than all the others tasked with service to the king. As the years went on, they further distinguished themselves in service to the king by interpreting dreams, sharing sage and wise council, but they drew the line at worshiping the king. That honor was reserved for the One True King and no threat could make them bow before the golden image of the earthy king. This king was a little unstable and he told the three young men that if they did not worship his gods and golden statue, well, they would thrown into a blazing hot furnace. He said they could talk it over and give him their answer. They replied to the king; “Nebuchadnezzar, we are not in need of an answer to give you concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will rescue us from 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 nor worship the golden statue that you have set up.” Now you may recognize their story by the names given to them by the king; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They did not burn up in the fiery furnace, and in fact king Nebuchadnezzar was astounded to see four men in the furnace of blazing fire. After calling the three from the furnace and seeing that not even their clothes were damaged or even smelled of smoke, he decreed that anyone who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-nego would be torn asunder and their property destroyed. These three friends were All-In on serving the Lord. They did not tell the king “IF God protects us, we will praise Him,” they said “even if He does NOT save us, we will serve Him unto death if it comes to that.

I have a friend and mentor, Terry All-In Hamilton, yes, All-In is really his middle name. His dad was a Vegas gambler. Terry himself spent a good portion of his life living up to his dad and his name with sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. But now, and for many years, Terry has been All-In for Christ. I have seen his dedication to serving others and using the avenues and opportunities that God presented to him from boardrooms of the top 1% in the United States to the homeless and the needy. Terry has called me up just to check in and pray for me. He has been an inspiration and blessing many times over.  

In today’s world it seems like many people are All-In but for the wrong things. Things of this world that are going to pass away. Political candidates and policies. Global warming, or cooling, depending on what decade is being referenced. Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. Saving Whales. Saving Owls. Saving money. Garnering ‘Likes,’ ‘Shares,’ Views,’ and comments on social media. These and more are all extracurricular to the truth that we need to be All-In for; God loves us, and we are called to love others. Some All-In’s that have helped me this year are reading and dialoging about God’s word every day. Praying the Lord’s prayer, out loud, every morning. I am a fallen and sinful man, forgiven by Jesus the Christ. I am amazed just how far off track I can get in just 24 hours, but I am blessed by the truth that we all are granted new mercies every morning and I am All-In on receiving that grace and mercy.

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