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. 


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? 


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?


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!  

Is the traditional family close to death? 4 threats that will flatline the family.


The divorce rate in the United States is at an all time high – 50% and climbing.  For married couples, the busy world around them and the drive to be successful can be both rewarding and detrimental to their relationship.  If that issue were not enough, children within the family structure are facing greater societal pressures and visual/auditory simulations than ever before.  From images and videos on the web to television and online streaming accounts, the standards of moral living and what accepted behavior is, which should be taught by the parents are being contradicted by these outside influences.  

The argument can be made (and rightly so) that it is the parent’s duty to monitor and regulate the “data” consumption of their children yet all too often parents are either too busy working or have little to no interest in correctly parenting their children.  This is just one danger that threatens families today.  A sociological description of this is summed up in the phrase: “if you want to change society tomorrow you must teach the children of today!” The question is, who is teaching our children if the parents are not?  

4 threats that will flatline the family:

1 Societal Pressures: As mentioned above, who is teaching our children and what sort of influences are we allowing to infiltrate our homes?  Sometimes these influences seem innocuous yet just beneath surface there looms a greater threat which could potentially disrupt the teachings of the parents.   I don’t wish to sound like an alarmist or fire the danger flares without a clear sign of danger but parents be aware of what you allow your children to see, hear and do while they live in your home.  You have the greatest power to mold and shape your children, don’t let these outside influences disrupt or distort the godly principles that you are displaying and teaching them!   

2. Busyness: 
Parents, this is a warning to all of us.  Do not let your work and your job become all that you do!  Your first ministry and profession is to be a good parent!  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work, but rather prioritize your schedule where possible in order to be there for your children.  The threat of “busyness” can be translated by your children to mean that they don’t matter to you, they are less important than your work, and this is how they should in turn become parents to their children in the future.  

Do you remember the old song “Cats in the cradle”?  In the chorus there’s that haunting lyric:
When you comin’ home, Dad
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then

You know we’ll have a good time then.”

And the song goes on and the son becomes just like his Dad and never has enough time because he is always busy.  
Spend time with your children.  Don’t let this threat flatline your family and your relationships to your children!  Someday, if we allow the busyness to consume us, we will come to regret all of the broken promises and unfulfilled plans that never happened because we never took the time.  

3.  Materialism: 
This might get personal, am I stepping on anyone’s toes yet?  Good! 
This whole “keeping up with the Jones'” needs to end in our homes!  We run the risk of becoming so “stuff” focused that we lose sight of the precious relationships we have right in front of us.  God gave us these living and breathing miracles to watch over, to teach and to love, and if we are so consumed with “stuff” what will our children see and want to become as well?  There are some things we absolutely need in this life, but then there are those things that we crave and desire and even covet.  Has materialism become an obsession in your household?  There is no doubt that in our media saturated world the “tech craze” has perpetuated our wants over our needs.  It has driven people to spend beyond their means and even at the risk of their families and livelihoods.  If we have become obsessed with stuff, not only do we run the risk of our kids following close behind us in our footsteps but perhaps we have removed God from His rightful place as well.  Does materialism rule you?  Beware of this family threat that could flatline your family.  Perhaps this threat may not flatline you right away, but gradually over time it has the propensity to wreck havoc in your lives and the lives of your children. 

4.  Financial Pressures: 
One of the biggest threats to marriages today falls within the realms of finances.  Some of these financial pressures are interconnected with the third threat of materialism.  Families dream of buying that bigger or better house only to find that they have a bigger and harder mortgage to pay per month.  Financial pressures build and create fissures within the marriage relationship.  Married couples have to then work harder and slave over longer hours to help pay for the financial mess they find themselves in.  Along with the housing pressures come the credit card pressures (I’m beginning to sound like Dave Ramsey now).  Credit cards can be useful at times but it can also perpetuate this never ending cycle of debt in some and the dependence on borrowing money that we do not posses to pay off.  “At the end of the second quarter 2013, there was approximately $850 billion in outstanding revolving debt, mainly credit cards.” (Source: 

Here’s another credit card statistic: “the average credit card balance per consumer was recently reported to be $3,779″ (Source: 

Many families are living from pay check to pay check and at times have become enslaved to their credit card debts because they have overspent and lived without a backup plan and/or financial understanding of realistically “living within their means”.  This isn’t a discussion about poverty or the rich vs. the poor, this is a discussion about understanding how dangerous credit cards and debt in general can be on the family structure.  Financial pressures can be inherited and taught just as moral principles of living can be taught.  This doesn’t mean that all children will emulate their parents all the way into financial woes but certain habitual traits within finances can leave unhealthy blueprints for our children’s future.  

Get out the paddles and jump start the family heart: 


Spend quality time with your family!  Regulate and filter what your children watch and hear in a media saturated world!  You are the parent so take the time, live like it and share your love and passions (those things that matter) with your family!  Don’t let these threats flatline your family, instead jump start your crew by intentional time and care!  Plan creative family events.  Do a family movie night.  Talk around the dinner table.  Invest in your children and in what they love to do.  Go to their school events when you are able!  Show up, don’t merely attend!  The family is your first ministry.  From your home stems all other avenues of God’s love for the world around you!  Don’t let your family flatline, it’s far too valuable to lose!  

-Just another thought to ponder.  




Breaking Bieber



In a court room before a judge the famous man stands in an orange prison jumpsuit.  Cameras flash and pop as the piranhas of the “entertainment” business catch their daily scoop which will be read and seen by millions across the world.  The man looks disheveled, unshaven and in his eyes appears to look like a cornered animal.  The judge asks him if he has anything to say and for a few moments it looks as if he might remain silent as this moment of great embarrassment seems to linger on for what seems like hours.  Finally he coughs and clears his throat and then admits his guilt, “please, don’t send me to jail, I’m an addict and I am so sorry… It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth, my finger on the trigger and I like the taste of gun metal.”  


These words weren’t spoken by Justin Bieber in his recent court appearance in Miami, nor were they the words of troubled actor turned director Shia Labeouf.


 These were the words of famous current A-lister Actor Robert Downey Jr in 1999 when we was sentenced to jail.    He could have easily died from his addiction like Actor Philip Seymor Hoffman did this past weekend (which is horribly sad in and of itself!). 



His life was in ruins and he knew it.  He was fighting to stay out of jail but worse he had demons of addiction attempting to break down the doors.  

Justin Bieber hasn’t risen yet to the raucous, embarrassing spectacle that was Charlie Sheen, but honestly, the never ending slew of one-liner jokes and national punch lines aren’t helping.  The 19 year old,  who is still two years away from being a legal adult (drinking age in the US) is seemingly the butt of every joke.  I cannot begin to imagine the stress that he is under night in and night out to perform at the level his fans around the world are used to seeing.  

Some might remember me slamming Miley Cyrus for her actions in recent months, and I am certainly not condoning or excusing  Bieber for his drunken drag racing incident recently or his near fist-a-cuffs with a reporter…these actions are inexcusable.  But what I am suggesting is that if people like Bieber are going to survive the next five years of their lives then the carrion culture who places such stars on pedestals and then lights the pedestal on fire needs to end.  I’ve slammed production companies and talent scouts who prey on young families of would be television stardom before, but I can’t stress it enough that the parents of out-of-control stars need to step up and set their child straight.  


The pressures must be immense at these levels, I can’t even begin to imagine…but we the public also have a role to play in this.  Sometimes I think we’re like circling vultures who are avidly watching a hurting/dying animal below.  We’re just waiting for the shine to wear off and for the dying animal to keel over.  We’re so blood thirsty at times for the next juicy tidbit of gossip all the while we have celebrity death pool picks online to guess which star is going to self-destruct next.  

Call me a naive fool, but I can’t help but think that our ever increasing fascination with stardom is killing people.  It’s easy to tell or listen to the next Justin Bieber joke (I’m guilty of this, I admit it)…he’s an easy target, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy too.  He’s become the next Michael Jackson of ridicule and idiocy.  

As a Christ-follower I see people like Bieber and many others and I see pain.  I see that despite all of the accolades and fame these are people who have lost or are losing their true identity to a world-wide marketing image of what they should be.  We can continue to rail against clothing designers (big fortune 500 names) who have forced or fired models because they want them thinner, but we forget that the same kind of image market drives teen stars and celebrities.  We forget that these are people too, not just objects of our hopes for the next big movie block buster or platinum album.  

I’m just sick of watching these actors and musicians self-destruct while we watch hungrily from our self-made Roman Coliseums also known as our living rooms.  If God made everyone of us in His image, this means he loves every single person on this planet.  He loves the super star and He loves the common person just the same.  Life is precious, and I’m tired of seeing it devalued day after day coupled with the plight of addictions and worldly pressures.  

I pray for people like Justin Bieber…seriously I do.  I pray for people like Miley Cyrus, and Lindsey Lohan, and Shia Labeouf…and so many more just like them.  I pray answers may be found for each of them.  That they never lose their true identities in the midst of public spectacles and courting fame. Most importantly I pray for Salvation and Restoration in their lives by the One living source of all Hope, Glory, Peace, Love and Healing – Jesus Christ Himself!

 I’m tired of reading about the latest teen sensation or child-turned-adult-actor who has committed suicide or died of a supposed overdose.  

Give em a brake, pray for them, and perhaps something amazing will take place because of it.  

-Just a thought.   


Child Stars -Hollywood’s Role Models of Death


I admit it, I’m in a bad mood.  I’ve just grabbed my soap box and I plan to stand on it for a moment or two.  I have a confession to make.  I hate child stars and child actors.  But let me clarify.  It’s not specifically the person I hate, it’s what these networks which are cash cows hell bent on their endless cravings of greed have done to them. I hate the system.  I hate the build up of these children, as the television, movie and music industries exploit and seemingly pimp out these young stars and bleed them dry of their lives.  These industries commercialize and exploit young children and their families.  Brainwashing happens…not like it’s done in the espionage world but these kids are taught at a young age that appearance is everything.  They are told in so many words “don’t get fat”, “look your best”, and you’ll make us money. Parents and the child stars are sucked into these lifestyles and the industry works these children to either an early grave from drugs or suicide or until they grow up, grow old, get in trouble with the law and lose their ‘shine’.

Far too many of these ‘pop tart’ stars are milled out every year as the ‘next big thing’ and our children are subjected to these standards of acceptance and perception of perfection.  I’m sick and tire of it.  I can’t tell how much it grinds on me to see former child stars like Miley Cyrus and Lindsey Lohan flop around on music videos flaunting their half naked selves in order to break the ‘childhood star perceptions.   I can’t tell you how much it annoys me that some of these stars who have lost the lime light claw and scratch for any sort of media attention even to the extremes of partying, rehab and arrests.

It is a sad, vicious cycle of self deprecation, egotistical flaunts and greed.  What makes it even worse is that our children look up to these stars.  They’re in some ways peers to our children.  Turn on the t.v. and they are there, front and center.  Perhaps it’s time to turn off the television.  To stop supporting these networks that pimp out child stars upon the public stage.

I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the latest childhood star who was found dead.  When will these networks be held responsible for the monsters that they have created?  When will we reach a point where people will wake up and discover the acting lifestyle with its glitz and glamour has a dark and twisted underbelly?

I’m almost ready to come down from my soapbox…almost.  But look at the victims of these industries for a moment with me, and this is just a tip of the iceberg:


Corey Haim: (December 23, 1971 – March 10, 2010)

80’s child actor who starred in many box office hits but struggled with drug addiction and the pressures of performing successfully.  Though his death was ruled accidental overdoes he fought his demons of Hollywood.


River Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) He died on a sidewalk outside a nightclub of a drug overdose.  He also starred in movie hits as a child actor and ironically enough was even a spokesperson for an anti-drug campaign shortly before his death.


Heath Ledger: (4 April 1979 – 22 January 2008) Heath was a child star from Australia who started off on television and became world famous actor.  He wasn’t much of a chronic but drug user but struggled with sickness and sleeplessness and overdosed on medications.


Cory Monteith (May 11, 1982 – July 13, 2013)

Star of t.v.’s hit show ‘Glee’, Cory Died after failing to stay in rehab and overdosed on drugs.

ImageAmy Winehouse: (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)

Drug overdose

ImageJonathan Brandis  (April 13, 1976 – November 12, 2003)

Child star in movies such as Sidekicks, Neverending Story and tv shows like Seaquest.   He discovered acting to be very difficult as an adult, dealt with bouts of depression and heavy drinking.  Gone too soon, died of at his own hand -suicide.

Image Dana Plato (November 7, 1964 – May 8, 1999)


Image Lee Thomas Young

(February 1, 1984 – August 18, 2013) -Suicide.

There so many more that could be listed here.  Some died from drug and alcohol overdoses, others vehicular accidents, and still others suicide and murder.

I recognize there are many choices that people make.  I recognize that not every child actor ends up this way.  But seriously the statistics of drug overdose or suicide are so much higher with former child stars than any other demographic.   What does this teach our children, what does this teach us of our culture today?  We live in a very fickle world where beauty and popularity lasts mere moments and then it’s gone.  Do we allow culture to teach our kids, do we allow it to replace us as the parent or the teacher or the guardian?  We are our children’s parents, our child’s role models, we are their instructors in this life.  Step up and act like it.

Ok…now I’m stepping off of my soapbox for a while.

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