Days – Even in This Place? (a Poem)

There are days when I feel like Elijah after the fire…
afraid for his life even in the face of victory.
racked with fear and mortality.
loaded down with concerns of his enemies and
what they thought about him.

There are days when I feel like Jonah after the big fish…
when he told the wicked people of God’s wrath…
and they turned from their ways
but Jonah did not…
and so, there he sat in self-pity and lamented.
“just let me die”
But God would not have any of that.

There are days when I feel like Paul in chains…
having done all I can do for ‘the cause’ but…
there’s still a thorn in my side
and it’s hurting me so – “Lord please take it away”
But He doesn’t, so here I sit here thorn and all.

There are days when I feel like Jesus overlooking Jerusalem
and I weep for the blindless of people
and I’ve done all that I can do,
and still it rends my heart because the ignorance lingers on.
and then I face my own cross and I beg for the cup to be lifted
but God does not lift it, and I must drink.

Still there are dark days that plague my heart
when storms threaten to overtake me and wash me away.
when in my strength I am completely helpless
and alone.
Have I been forsaken?
Have you left me God?
It feels as if I have no friends
no where to turn…
or run.

Lord, are you here
even in this place?

Fear the Walking Faith…It’s a journey!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Oh how our faith can waver sometimes.
It seems that the gusting of a slight breeze of discord or worry can shake our quivering feet of faith.

Have you ever come to a moment of realization that your faith is not as deep as you once thought it was? We all encounter times, while on this journey, where the feel as though we have entered into the desert and we are found lacking in our resolve and fortitude. This journey will take us into places that require us to dig a little deeper and to endure the dry and thirsty places – where we find ourselves questioning everything and reaching further for God…who seems to have gone silent.

Have you been to this place?

I remember when I first learned to swim.
My parents would take me into the deeper part of the waters where my feet couldn’t touch and then let go of me, and as they let go of me they step back out of my reach. I remember there was a momentary panic. The saving hands were no longer on me and I found myself struggling to keep my head above the waters. I remember having to reach out my arms while kicking my feet so that I could reach the safety again. As I did this, without realizing, I began to swim by myself for the first time.

My intentions were not to swim. My intention was to reach the safe arms of my parents who were just out of reach.

There is growth within the tension and fear.
Growth that can only take place when we are left to our own devices.
Growth that can only transpire within the turmoil and desert places of our faith journey.

It is as if God steps back from us, and we are faced with the seemingly terrifying notion that we must step into the deep alone. The truth is that we are most certainly not alone, but rather there is growth that is only found in desert. And so we step out, unsure of ourselves…unsure if we can reach those safe arms of Christ again.

Remember Peter on the waters before Jesus?
He is asked to step out into a turbulent, uncertain space.
Peter takes a couple of steps, loses sight of the arms of Christ and begins to sink.
He takes his eyes off of Jesus.
He considers the impossibilities of such a journey.
He must have recalled his inability to do this feat, and as the doubt sinks in so does Peter.

We often chastise Peter for his lack of faith.
We often sermonize this passage to implicate the lack of resolve that ‘the Rock’ had…
But where were the other disciples?
Do we read about their steps of faith on the waters? No.
They were still in the boat watching it all go down.

We have to get out of our boats.
We will encounter dry and thirsty times in our faith journey.
It will feel as if we are all alone out in the wilderness, but we are not alone.
God steps back and watches us within the tension of deeper waters.
And it is within those deeper spaces that we grow.
It is through perseverance that our character and the very image of Christ becomes clearer in us.

Some have turned back and returned to the safe places.
Some have given up because they have felt abandoned.
Others have persevered and they have grown.
The Lord desires all of us to deepen our faith, and so these times of dryness should be seen as opportunities to grow up into this amazing faith.

Being like Jesus isn’t easy.
It takes determination and desire on our part.
Are you prepared to allow God to deepen your faith?
Is it your desire to get off of spiritual baby formula and begin to feast on more sustainable spiritual nourishment?

Take that next step…don’t be afraid, He’s got you, and He isn’t far from you right now!

Something more to ponder today.

Putting Jesus Back

Monday after Easter, and the Easter dress is on the floor in the laundry room, as are the Easter suits and carelessly tossed ties and shoes.  Easter is over.  The Celebration party had its curtain call.  Everyone went home.  So…what now?

What impact does the Resurrection have on us the day after?  The week after?  The month after?   Understandably we can say “Well there’s always next year…”  or “I go to church every Sunday anyway.”  These are all valid points, but what kind of impact does Christ’s resurrection have on you and me in our daily lives?

All too often we want to put Jesus back.
We put Him back into those boxes for next year.
We put Him back on the hanger as we hang up that Easter dress or suit.  dress
We close our Bibles to that story until next year rolls back around.
We put Jesus back into our preconceived, compartmentalized places.

But should we put it all back like that?
Is there a trace of Him in our work places, social events, friendships, relationships, families?  Or does He get put away just like the seasonal stuff in our closets?
I have to wonder what the answer is even for me sometimes.
I can accept a risen Savior, but what does it mean in my habits, and in my faith walk and my desire to become more and more like Him?  How does this Resurrected Christ fit into my overly complicated life?  Am I secretly compartmentalizing Jesus?  Am I packing Him away for another year?  Am I checking that season off on my calendar  and moving on without Him there?

box2

 

What a tragedy it would be for any of us to progress past the cross and the empty tomb without it affecting the entirety of who we are as His creation!  Essentially when we put Him back on the shelf, in the box, on a hanger – we are selectively accepting who He is and who He can be in our lives.   We are, subconsciously putting limits on the Almighty…we are also putting limits on our own spiritual growth.

 

A New Creation: 
A friend of mine on Facebook posted this comment that sparked my heart and ignited some intrinsic truth deep within me.  Have you ever had one of those “A-ha” moments?  Where the light bulb flickers on, and it’s bright and it shines on truth.  Perhaps this will spark something within you too in terms of re-framing  who Jesus is, which will undoubtedly make us second guess putting Jesus back…here it is:

One could suggest that the ‘tetelestai’ (it is finished) saying refers not to atonement but to creation; it is the creation that is completed on the cross. On the cross, the true human is created, creation is now complete.” (Cameron Horsburgh/Michael Hardin)

                                                      -Mind. Blown. –

How can you ever go back to putting Jesus on the shelf?
How can you not have a life changing event take place in your heart when you consider ALL of creation is now complete in this Messiah atonement?  That we can’t put God in a box and only bring Him out once a year in light of creation becoming complete in Him.  There’s nowhere else to move besides forward in our relationship to the One who has made EVERYTHING complete!

It’s like buying a new suit, wearing it only one time just to put it on a hanger and stare at it while wearing the same old dingy ripped up, dirty outfit you’ve always worn.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  So…why do we do this sometimes with Jesus?

Unwrapping It.
Take Jesus off the shelf.   box3
Throw the old outfit away – you have a new suit to wear!
Throw away the old title for yourself – “Sinner”
Because you’ve been saved by this amazing grace found only in Jesus, and you’ve been given a new title – “Child of God.”
You can’t compartmentalize Jesus.
You can’t “seasonalize” Him either.
He can’t be contained.
He wants to transform you!
He has already completed creation – which can include YOU!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

May you find an ever present Christ with you today!
May our hearts be compelled to live for Him and reside with Him every moment of every day!  May we experience this new creation every time we utter His name on our breath.
May this transformation of the new, complete creation be in us EVERY day.

Something more to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

(Another fitting article for today from Steve Simms entitled: “Why Put Jesus In A Box?” check it out too!)

I Don’t Want A “Grown-up” Kind Of Faith!

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5)

When I look back at my childhood, it is with a sense of joy and regret.  Joy in the fact that I live it, regret in the fact that I grew up.  How simpler life seemed as a child.  Children aren’t weighed down by the complications of life.  Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to have friends as you grow older?  As a child you could be in a new neighborhood and make friends all in the same afternoon…but now it could take months even years to gravitate to a few close friendships.  As a child, everything seemed possible, tangible realistic..as an adult things are much more complicated, some things have become impossible, immovable and life has its boundaries.

knewwI believe the same can be said about our faith as well.
As a child, faith is as vast as the galaxy around us.  Everything is possible.
There are no limits to it.  Child-like faith breathes life everlasting into our lungs.
Child-like faith returns the impossible into the possible, the unrealistic into the realistic.  Child-like faith turns the up close view of our problems back into the grand scheme of God’s plan and assures us that we are not alone!   With child-like faith, the God of the Universe IS capable of ALL things once more…and He cares for you and for me.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t want a “grown-up” kind of faith any longer.
Grown-up faith has to boil everything down.
Grown-up faith has to see before believing.
Grown-up faith has to complicate everything more than it was ever meant to be.
Grown-up faith comes with its own set of filters, ambiguities and personal discrimination.
Grown-up faith places self into the equation when selflessness is really what is needed.

Grown-up faith shouldn’t be confused with “maturity” of our faith, rather it is the over complication of this thing we call faith.

Photo Apr 16, 11 26 12 AMI regret losing that child-like faith when I grew up.
I regret allowing the world around to seep into my perception of God and His relationship to me.
I regret taking that child-like faith for granted.
I regret…regretting what used to be.

BUT…
I know that it is not too late.
I…
We…
can begin again with Child-like faith, but first we have to release all of those Grown-up complications that we have associated with our faith.  We have to release the baggage of guilt and regret.  We have to let go of the wrongs this world has inflicted upon us.  We have to move past ourselves as we embrace Christ for all He is in and through us.  When we can begin to live only for Him instead of us, so too begins this path of Child-like faith once more.

FaithSomething more to ponder today.
May we run with child-like abandon after Christ and in so doing embrace that child-like faith once more.
To God be the glory!

The Beauty of Faith And Fear Living Together.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?Psalm 27:1 

fear1The truth is, we DO face fear in this life.
The truth is, we DO suffer from paralysis from time to time because of fear.
If we allow fear to take up a permanent place within our hearts, we rob ourselves of experiencing the joys of life that God offers to us.  Fear can only have power if we allow it to have power in us.

That is easier said than done when all of a sudden a moment of crisis takes place and our hearts plummet over that jagged cliff of trepidation and dread.  It is easier said than done when we come to the end of our ropes and we have nothing else to cling to.  It is easier said than done when we exhaust all hope and resource and still we can’t afford to make ends meet.

Fear is real.
But so is faith.

Questions to ponder today: 
Is fear ALWAYS bad?
Is there ever a place for fear?
Does fear ever coexist with faith?

I once heard a phrase that I still struggle with.fear
The phrase was spoken to a group of us in a church meeting once.
It goes like this:  “Faith and fear can’t exist in the same space”
I’m not sure I agree.
Sure, it sounds good on paper and all.
It’s a good mantra to utter in the face of adversity.
But is this saying really true?
I just don’t think it is.
It could be an awesome “battle cry” to rally the troops and help encourage the discouraged…but I think faith and fear sometimes go hand in hand.

I suppose the word fear has to be defined in this conversation.
I think there are varying degrees of fear to think about when we talk about “faith AND fear”.
We don’t want to generalize fear to mean something all encompassing when it comes to “what we are afraid of”, rather I believe the kind of fear that is present within faith is a trepidation rather than a full blown paralyzing fear.  I like one of the definitions of the word “trepidation” because it sort of crystallizes to me how faith and fear can coexist together in us.
The definition I think that fits is this:

‘Trepidation’ – a trembling motion.

To me this means that although we do not know what the future has in store for us, there IS STILL MOTION in us.
It sort of sums up that coined phrase “stepping out in faith” for me.
Although we have said “yes” to Christ and we have made that proclamation to the world around us, there is still the motion that is needed…and within that motion is a trembling.

Perhaps some of us dig deep and that trembling isn’t ever noticeable.
While in the rest of us that trembling aspect of faith is extremely evident.
It is more than mere nervousness of the unknown, it is a moving fear that propels faith to action.
It is more than reverence for God “fear and trembling”, it is an action verb that puts fuel on the fire of our faith.
faith
Do you have fear today? 
If you do have fear, I want to tell you that it is okay.
Don’t ever think that just because you’re fearful that there is something wrong with your faith walk.
Fear CAN exist within faith, and if understood and utilized correctly, it can help us to put feet and movement to our faith!

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, 5 Wrong Ways To Disciple (part 1)

Discipleship is important.
Jesus lived with His disciples for 3 years, and in those three years He taught them through both words and deed.  They were not mere students in a classroom learning some “concept”, they engaged humanity and encountered the Divine as He loved and led.  Our prime example of discipleship should Christ and how He instructed His followers.

Some within the The Salvation Army, as well as other denominations, have never been properly discipled.
One might contend that soldiership classes count as discipling, but I believe it is only a drop in the bucket and is not enough. Others might contend that youth classes like junior soldiers and corps cadets are a form of discipling, again, a good start but not enough.

Discipleship is more than a passing grade.
Discipleship is more than completing a work book with a mentor.
Discipleship is SO much more than these things.

We begin this two part series on discipleship with the wrong ways to disciple.
Some of these might be obvious to you, but it never hurts to put these down in writing…so here goes:

5 Wrong Ways To Disciple:

1.  “Do as I say, not as I do!”  lead
This is can be a very slippery slope.  Mentors and Disciplers want to be good leaders of others, but sometimes putting into practice what is preached (even to the leader) is easier said than done.  We all find it much easier to tell others how to live while experiencing the same struggles of daily temptations of old habits that haven’t quite passed away.  If we live by this principle within our leadership model, we could very well be leading people astray because they will inevitably watch us closely in how we conduct ourselves and they WILL notice our inconsistencies in faith and practice.

Photo Mar 09, 11 37 10 AM2.  “Fake it”
“I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice...  (2 Timothy 1:5a)

This is inexplicably linked to the above “wrong way” of discipling.
Discipleship is vital to our pathway of holiness.  What I mean by that is: we cannot become like Christ if we do not first long to emulate Him in every way…we cannot simply fake it!    A true disciple of Christ is willing to place the great commission of Christ and the needs of others above them self.  If we, as leaders, mentors and instructors don’t first walk with Christ in every way how can we expect those that we disciple to walk with Christ?  Faking it is not an option.  For a time we can fool others, but we again, will not fool God!

Secondly, and quite obviously, we cannot either by word of action teach disciples to simply plod through and fake it.  “If you don’t know the answers, just fake it.”,  “If you have no faith, just fake it!”, “If you don’t like that person, just fake it!”

Perhaps you think this sets the bar too high, and maybe unobtainable to everyone.
Jesus isn’t asking for our human perfection, just our faithfulness and authenticity.

3.  Abuse Scripture biblethumping
not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock...” (1 Peter 5:3)
Disciplers and Leaders, be mindful that although you have authority over those you lead that you yourself are also being held accountable to God!  Do not utilize scripture for the purpose of making the disciples your servants.  It sounds funny saying this, but in placing these disciple under you the temptation is there for you to make them do things for you or by forcing them to lead things in church when perhaps they are not ready to do so.

Another way in which we might abuse scripture is through plucking out specific verses in order to fit our needs.  Be aware of the this!  Look at the context of verses in scripture.  Do not try to force scripture verses to imply something that they were never intended to imply.  Also, do not use scripture as weapons against those you disciple.  Isn’t it interesting how scripture can be weaponized sometimes?  Please don’t do this.  It not only serves to make scripture become something its not, but it can and will drive people away from the faith!

4.  It’s all about the uniform (Outward Appearances)  cup
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.(Matthew 23:25) 

Please know that I am not calling you Pharisees today, that is not my intention with the above verse.
What I am implying is that we in the Army can become so “uniform” focused that we can run the risk of being outwardly focused on appearances than about the internal cleanliness of the “cup”.  We want to be one Army strong and focused on the battle to win souls for Jesus, but if we skip the sacred step of consecration in lieu of appearances and numbers we will have already lost the war.  The uniform, like baptism and communion are merely (or should be) an outward evidence of an inward change.  Sometimes we might get the cart before the horse.  Many times is this deeply personal and at the same time extremely corporate.  If we strive as leaders to just those we disciple into uniforms for the sake of numbers (I hope this doesn’t happen very often) we will have done true discipleship a great disservice.

classroom5.  It (Discipleship) should only be taught in a classroom with a book.
Please turn to chapter six in your work books and let’s finish this fill in the blank section…
Discipleship isn’t only some class you might take part in.
Discipleship isn’t about filling out sections of a book.
These things can certainly help, and I am not discounting these as elements or tools for discipleship, but discipleship is SO much more than the classroom setting!  If there is no challenge outside the walls of the classroom to actively engage and put into practice in daily life what was learned, then it is all for naught.

Jesus took His disciples out into the field.  He didn’t do everything for them.  He had them put into practice all that they had learned.  They (the disciples) were still a work in progress, but Jesus lovingly pushed them along in hands on training with real life situations.

Disciplers, mentors, how do we do this for those that we train to become disciples of Christ?

These are just five wrong ways to disciple, I am sure there could be more to discuss.
The key is to recognize what a privilege and responsibility that we have been given.
Let us disciple with sober intentions, love, compassion and grace…
Something more for Army to ponder today.

To God be the glory!

Being Joyful In Hope…A Way Of Living

hopeThe List Of “Maybes”
Maybe:
<You are going through a tough time right now.
            <You are just having a bad day.
            <You have been in this dry, barren desert from some time now. 
            <You are on the brink of giving up.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” -Romans 12:12
Here is some encouragement for you today, and let me unpack it for you.Romans

Hope:
Hope isn’t some wish that is granted by rubbing a genie bottle.
Hope is not about “Wishing” my day would get better.
Hope isn’t about dreaming a “better you” either.
Hope isn’t found by fully relying on one’s self.  Hope is provided. It is bestowed upon us.  Hope, like grace is a characteristic of God.  He gave us life, and now He is providing us a way to live it to its fullest.  Faith has a way of stretching us.  It propels us far beyond our comprehension of “what’s possible and available” to us.  Faith, not in ourselves, but in Christ plants the seeds of hope in our heart.  When we have this rootedness in Christ, we will begin to finally see beyond the temporalness of life.  We can begin to see a bigger picture.  We can start to scratch the surface of a hope that comes from God.

hope1

Patient in Affliction: 
Joy isn’t about being happy.  Sure, happiness is great…but sometimes it’s a limited time run.
We do go through difficulties in life.
We will not always be happy.
It is a myth that Christians MUST be happy all the time.
How is that even possible?  It would look awfully strange at sad events like funerals to be laughing with happiness in the corner wouldn’t it?
Truths:
We will experience sadness as Christians.
We will endure afflictions too.
Happiness is not the same thing as joy.
Joy, like Hope is provided to us by the source of joy – God himself.
So that despite the situation, both good or bad, we might still retain joy within our souls.

simplicity-1-728The Heart of the Pondering Today:
I do not know what you are going through today, but I do know that despite the turbulence of life, despite the upheaval that happens from time to time – Hoping in the Almighty provides us joy and endurance through it all.  Can you trust in a God who is overall?  Can you hope in an everlasting joy instead of a temporary fix of happiness?  I’m not saying don’t be happy ever again, but we can tap into something so much more powerful and lasting than short bursts of a disappointing type of instant gratification happiness.

To begin, we have to be willing to let go of the things we cannot control.
It isn’t easy to let go of anything, let a lone a perceived type of control in life, yet, through prayer, through faith we will begin to see a hope that will restore our souls and place us completely submitted to God…in everything, every area of our lives.  This is probably the hardest thing for any of us to do, but when we do let go and when we submit to His purposes for our lives, the dynamic changes and we can experience this  joyfulness in hope.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray for so many today who are experiencing doubt, despair and depression.  I pray for strength in my own life today.  Please provide us endurance as we place our all before you in complete submission.  Teach us what being joyful in hope looks like.  Reveal to us Your joy even in the midst of our dark valleys, Lord.  Be near us, and help us to live this life that you have called us to.  -Amen.

Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, The Walking Dead…

worn
Are you disillusioned?
Are you worn out?
Have you found yourself hanging by a thread at the end of your rope?

Are you the walking dead?
I’m not talking about a television show about Zombies…I’m talking about real life…real people…real issues…real hurts…real burdens…real walking dead.

There are moments when we are not able to provide the salve of healing for others because we ourselves are in need of healing.

There are moments when we need the saving instead of us donning our uniforms and reaching out to save others.

There are moments when we must go back to the well of refreshing and allow the Holy Spirit to replenish our dry and empty reserves.

Are you there today?
Are you the walking dead?  worn1
Are you in need of that well?
Are you in need of that salve for a burdened, hurting heart?

Don’t feel guilty…this isn’t selfish…this is necessary for you to carry on.
We cannot be self-sufficient apart from Him.
We cannot rely on our own sources of strength and power to carry us through the pathways of ministry that we are called to.  We need help.  We need to recharge.  We need to recognize that we were never meant to become super soldier in this Army of Salvation.  We were called to be faithful…and in this faithfulness we must rely on His strength and His direction.

Is this easy? No!
Do we constantly want to go our own direction, take the reins back, fight tooth and nail on the pathway He has led us?  Yes!

Dear Salvation Army Soldier,
If you are the walking dead today…be resurrected!   The Almighty  can restore your life and give you hope in the midst of even the most hopeless of situations. Do we trust Him with everything?

If you feel all alone on your pathway in ministry…be assured you are not alone!
His holy presence longs to fellowship with you every mile of the path.  He desires your fellowship and your conversations…even the most mundane.  We come from all walks of life and yet we are bound together by this cause which is to meet human needs in His name and to live and desire Christ’s likeness in our lives.
resurrected
Dear Soldier,
If you are the walking dead today be encouraged!   You can be restored, reconciled to Him and your strength renewed!  I do not know the struggles that you are facing right now but rest assured the Lord does.  That may sound like a simple answer but it is no less the truth!  He can bring you back to life.  He can restore your ministry when you feel that it has flat-lined.   He can rescue your passion and sense of purpose once again.  Walk close to the Savior.  Seek Him out.  Be prepared to move from a place of death and barrenness to a place of fertile fields and rushing waters of rejuvenation of ministry, love, compassion and joy.

Be encouraged dear walking dead, our lives will be restored if we seek His face and run to Him!

Just something more for our Army world to ponder today!

Devotional Pondering: Death, Lions, Stinky Dark Pits & Prayer.

Don’t mess with nature.”  This phrase is so true.  Many people have gone out into nature, whether on the plains of the Serengeti or in the vast expanse of the ocean or else where, without respect for the elements and the wildness of nature and have paid for it.  Nature is wild.  Nature is fierce.  Nature is hungry.  

…so are lions. 

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We all know the story of “Daniel and the Lion’s den’.  We’ve heard it in Sunday School or at a Vacation Bible School some where (maybe long ago) in our childhood.  I want to re-examine that story today.  I’ve been pondering something in my heart, and I feel the Lord has led me to this passage once more.  

The narrative is found in Daniel chapter 6.  Perhaps you would like to take some time and read it again for yourself.  

Here’s the context: Daniel (a prophet and servant of God) is an official in the Persian empire under King Darius.  In those days Kings of Persia were considered gods.  No one would dare defy an edict of the king, for to do so would mean that they defied the very gods the Persians worshiped.  

But…Daniel served God, the only God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.  Despite the tricks of others who had been appointed to serve under the king to trap Daniel, Daniel never wavered or faltered.  Daniel chapter six describes what kind of man Daniel was –

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

Did you catch that?  
Despite outward pressure to conform, Daniel did what he always did – He prayed.  He went upstairs, faced Jerusalem and prayed to God.  

How Serious Is Prayer to Us? 

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Daniel, despite a death sentence, continued to talk to his heavenly Father.  Our conversations with God ought to be like breathing to us.  It is vital.  It is imperative.  It connects us to the only certain, consistent, true power in the universe.  God loves it when we talk to Him.  In fact in the very beginning of time scripture records that He would physically come down and walk with Adam and Eve in the evenings…He wants to fellowship with us.  Prayer connects us to His fellowship and His love.  Prayer is serious business.  It ought not be taken lightly.  God doesn’t need a lot of “religious jargon” or flowery words to accompany our prayers.  They can be simple.  They should be honest.  They should be sincere.  Our prayers to Him are not prayers to a Genie in a bottle, or a litany of wish lists that we want from God.  He wants us to share with Him our lives, our concerns – both the large and small concerns…even the lions prowling around us ready to consume us.  

What are your Lions?

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Daniel was thrown into a dark, smelly pit that contained wild, blood thirsty lions.  He was all alone in that frightening situation.  All around him, in the inky darkness, prowled a fierce predator of nature.  Scripture doesn’t record Daniel screaming for his life.  The bible doesn’t record Daniel confessing his regret for defying King Darius’ edict – no!  Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions (a death sentence) and despite all odds, he continued to pray to God.  

What kind of lions are you facing today in your life?  What kind of pressures are you under?  Many within our world want Christians to buckle under these pressures, the father of lies Satan himself would love nothing more than for people of God to disobey and turn away from God.  The easy path in the midst of our lions is to conform to the world around us.  The easy path is to look, dress and act like everyone else around us…to fit in, to party it up, to do whatever pleases us.  But if we do, we will be consumed by the lions and we will be lost.  

That night, in the blood thirsty lion pit, a miracle happened.  God closed the mouths of the lions because a faithful servant of His needed saving.   

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”  The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” -Daniel 6:22-23

Whatever lions you may be facing right now in your life, God says to us – “have faith in Me and have no fear!”  
1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”  
Are you facing wild, fierce pressures around you today?  Be bold, be strong and stand firm!  God will always be with you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me today to face my lions.  Forgive me when I have wavered and have given into the pressures of the world. Strength and equip me for today and help me to be Your faithful servant despite the prowling lions and looming pressures.  I long to be Yours and Yours alone!  -Amen.  

Something else to ponder today!  

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