Daniel’s Testimony on Trial

I’m somewhat fascinated with the story of Daniel. This guy is oft forgotten in our Heroes of the Faith lists. I guess what I like about him is that everything was against him and he didn’t turn from God. I’m not sure, if in the same circumstances, I could’ve done the same.

First off, he was captured and taken to a country he was entirely unfamiliar with. He was torn away from his family and cast into a pagan culture that defiled everything his culture held sacred. Daniel and his friends were then expected to embrace this system, so violently against their own, under the watchful eye of the reigning king. Talk about a high pressure situation!

But Daniel knew something that had been ingrained in him from his earliest memories. God doesn’t leave us in the midst of hardship. Job, Joseph, and David all give testimony to God being with them at their lowest low and exalting them to big successes. (No, I’m not starting a new health and wealth program…)

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

Despite the heartache and loss he surely felt, Daniel clung to God. God knew he could use Daniel in a big way in a world so ignorant of its true Creator. So he prospered and became a high-up government official. He had the King’s favor.

Daniel was doing everything right. Honoring the king. Honoring God. Staying true to who he really was. And sure as rain in springtime, enemies are made when we follow after righteousness.

So you know the story- because of a law created specifically against Daniel, he was thrown into a den of lions, albeit hesitantly, by his friend King Darius.

I’m sure a part of him was terrified. The certainty of being torn to pieces- literally- seems like something from a nightmare. And the mental anguish building up to being tossed into a pit of starving lions… I’m starting to sweat just imagining it.

I’m sure Daniel was also hopeful. Remember, this guy saw his friends saved from a fiery furnace. He knew of God’s deliverance. He experienced firsthand His blessing when he flourished on little as a child, and then throughout his life to that point.

Photo by Wade Lambert on Unsplash

God was with Daniel through the most terrifying moment of his life. We see it obviously in the fact that he survived. How would you be after sitting in a lion filled pit all night? Edgy? Insane? Sleep deprived?

King Darius races over and asks the question that is burned into my brain: “Did your God save you?”

That is the defining moment in the account of Daniel. He went through a horrendous trial. One that we can hardly fathom. And he was able to declare before the king that His God delivered him.

Daniel was able to come out of that trial not being jaded or angry at God. He proclaimed God’s faithfulness and glorified His name.

That testimony turned the heart of the king towards the true God.

Part of the test in a trial is whether we will curse God or bless His name. The words may not form on our lips, but can be spoken through our attitude and actions as well.

Trials come. This is as certain as death and taxes. In a life fixed on God, we can see his hand in everything and point the ability to overcome back to Himself. And the world is watching Christians. They have an expectation. They are waiting for failure to cope or our faith to flounder.

Photo by Wade Lambert on Unsplash

I don’t say this to put unhealthy or insincere pressure on you, or me. But it would be foolish to forget that we bear the name of our King wherever we go. We are his ambassadors, proclaiming his message throughout the world.

I’ve known Christians get bent out of shape over bad service in a restaurant. People in leadership who are rude to nurses in triage scenarios. Young men who forget who they really are when confronted with ungodly behavior from peers.

None of these things is like being left to die in lion’s den.

And don’t mistake me- in stressful scenarios we are not at our best. Understandably so. But when we are constantly mindful- not of ourselves, but our God- when these trials come, the Spirit can work through us.

Let’s not sit and wallow in weakness, but use that trial to propel our eyes to Christ. He can and does deliver us. It may not be deliverance from the pain of our circumstance, like Daniel, but He will surely give us the strength to endure.

**Read it for yourself! Daniel chapters 1, 3 and 6 were mentioned in this post.

The One Crucial Thing

This looked like a great book to read. A book about adoption. Something uplifting and challenging. Instead, it was a book about an unfulfilled life. And I felt great pity for this woman. My heart grew so heavy.

You see, she bought in to every humanistic lie that was fed to her. Follow your heart. There is no one “right way.” If it feels good, do it. Truth is relative. Humans are just another part of the ecosystem.

And, my “favorite”: all religion is a conglomeration of literature. Jesus is “superfluous.”

Superfluous means unnecessary. I knew that, but wanted to confirm it, so I looked it up.

I can take you to Scripture and show you why this is all untrue. But I realize for the unbeliever that it means absolutely nothing to them. It is simply a document used to enslave and brainwash me.

I see a pattern loud and clear in the lives of those following the religion of humanism. It takes a lifetime to show out sometimes. Other times it is evident early on. Dissatisfaction. A knowing that life isn’t going as it should, but entirely uncertain why or how.

A “searching for one’s self” is usually involved. Strings of ruined relationships. A self-absorption that is desperate in nature because if you can’t find love with someone else, you find it in yourself.

Vanity of vanities all is vanity. Sound familiar? This is what I think Jesus saw as He wept with compassion for the people wandering about “as a sheep with no shepherd.” His Creation looking to itself to find solutions to its own brokenness.

I think about how different my life would be without Christ. I would spend this life wandering with no real direction because none would be found. Searching and never finding. Longing, but unsure of exactly what that was.

I don’t do any of those things or feel any of those things. Or if I do, it is when I shift my focus off of Christ and onto myself. Self introspection is good and encouraged in the Christian life, but the result is sure actions leading to a sure goal.

Last night I was thinking about my life and how much joy it has. Oh, there is trial. We are in the midst of one presently. But we are happy. We are confident in a sure future. We are content and fulfilled.

How many people can say that? I am not a world-renown author. My husband is nowhere close to owning a Fortune 500 company. We have over half a dozen children, a mortgage on a house constantly needing repairs, and stay close to home out of necessity.

We know the secret, Christians. We have it and yet lose sight of “it” so often. Christ is all I need. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gives us peace and joy that nothing else can. Fame, fortune, adventure, relationships never fully satisfy. Only He does.

When we realize and seek the satisfaction Christ offers, we will find it. And then all those other things? They do fall into place. Or else we fall in to place. And the freedom in following Christ is unparalleled.

My marriage? Happy. My kids? Thriving with my imperfect parenting. My self-worth? Not an issue. My circumstances? Always purposeful-even when difficult. The world is broken. I am still in a broken state. But my soul, the real me? It is well regardless of my fleeting emotions.

Christ is not superfluous. He is crucial. Crucial to my salvation from my sin and myself. Crucial for abundant life here on earth and in the eternal life to follow. And, though they don’t get it, Christ is the very One that humanists need but cast off.

Open their eyes, Lord.

A Ministry of Realness

I was in a gym, surrounded by people who seemed to have it all together. Curled hair, makeup flawless and outfit on point. With older children, these moms get to sit and watch their kids play sports without carrying two bags of necessities, a beast of a stroller, or a preschooler who dead sailors every time the moment requires legs.

I was a hot mess.

Oh, I dressed to impress. Made myself all purdy. Did my best to be prepared for keeping Evie and the twins preoccupied and fed. Got to the game early to get set up.

And yet, it all fell apart.

Car rides have become a given in this stage of the game. We spend around two hours a day toting kids. So the moment my babes are out of a car seat, they are ready to roam. Not conducive with volleyballs flying about. Add to that a reclusive preschooler and you’ve got yourself a hostile situation.

And I get it. This is just a moment in time that will eventually pass. I know that all too well as I watch my teenage daughter in this tournament whilst holding a one year old. Or two one year olds.

But that moment across the court. That is fleeting too. And once again, as a mom of many, I’m wrestling with how I split my time with seven.

In the midst of this, I have to pick up the other three kids from school. Fortunately my grandparents show up at the game and offer to keep an eye on a baby so I don’t have to lug my monstrosity of a stroller all over campus again. They are angels, I tell ya!

So on goes this day in a chaotic fashion. I am in no way trying to be in the way with all the kids, but it is kinda hard not to be.

And as I try to listen to my boy talk about school, while pulling my 4 year old off the ground for the 237th time, in the midst of a building with the acoustics of an airplane hangar, filled with screaming girls and projectiles going all over- the thoughts and feelings rise from their crypt.

“You are just a nuisance. Take your insanity and go home.”

“I’m just certain these people are thinking that you are a mess.”

“Could you not pull off perfection for one day?”

Now, before I get a bunch of messages confirming the opposite, let me make some thing clear: these are thoughts. Thoughts that cross my mind in the heat of a stressful situation. And I share them here because I know- I KNOW that there are others reading this who get the same feelings. We are human. They happen, and if you say they don’t come to you, you are not being honest.

I tell you these stories to say you are not alone. We all need confirmation that our struggles are not abnormal. There is nothing new under the sun. I also share to say don’t let feelings dictate your actions and your thoughts about you or others for that matter. Feelings are not a good indicator of truth, they simply are your expressions about any given situation.

What really happens after these thoughts enter your cerebral cortex is entirely up to you. The Bible tells us that our thoughts need to be taken captive. Feelings and thoughts need to be evaluated under the microscope of truth.

“I am loved by God. That same God gave me these children and these opportunities. He also gives me the wisdom to know when to do something and the strength to do it.”

“No one in this gym is perfect. Everyone has their own problems and burdens. They are too busy to worry about mine. And if they are judging, they will stand before God to give an account. That is on them, not me.”

“Perfection is unattainable-like chasing the wind. God doesn’t give me merit for being perfect. He gives me favor because I am His child. Besides, the Bible tells us to confess our faults one to another. I’m confessing without having to say a word. That’s great multitasking.”

And even if I’m still not feeling it, I tell myself the truth and eventually my stubborn heart falls into line.

The world needs real Christians. Not people who put on a perfect persona. I can be harried and joyful. I can be struggling and hopeful. I can be grieving yet grateful. The Christian life isn’t a formula for perfection. It’s the way to travel though this life of ups and downs with joy and peace, giving glory to our Maker.

As I recounted my day and my thoughts to my husband, he said to me, “Maybe that is our ministry. To be the realest people in the bunch.”

A ministry of realness? I can get behind that.

Thanksgiving List 2009

This year I have so much to thank God for – His provision, His protection, His Word and His love – just to name a few. He blesses me daily despite my unfaithfulness to Him. Today though, I would like to do a video essay to show you some of the most wonderful blessings that God has given me on this earth.

Natalie
My little girl is growing so fast! She is a tremendous helper and a wonderful big sister. She loves to learn new things and enjoys caring for her younger siblings. She is a big fan of Patch the Pirate, and has just started taking piano lessons.

Meredith
She is a silly little thing, who is always looking for a way to make others laugh. Mere is often found singing her heart out and trying to do whatever her big sister is doing. She likes to go to the shop to visit Daddy and Grandma and do some work too!

Sophie
She is notoriously spunky. She is a paradox – she loves to wrestle, yet she loves to wear dresses. She is a petite girl who loves babies, but she can play cars with the big boys. What you see is not what you get with this little one!

Ethan
He is such a joy to us – born just 4 months ago, yet he has grown by leaps and bounds. He is 16 pounds of bundled energy – already rolling and desperate to crawl! You’d be hard pressed to find him not smiling, and I dare you to not smile when looking at him.

We are busy, sleep-deprived, often hungry, and challenged continually. Our arms may be full, but so are our hearts!

Thanksgiving List 2008

A woman in our church last night gave a testimony about how counting one’s blessings really does make a person remember what is really important. I agree. Every year, I intend to write them out on this blog for the whole world to see what I am thankful for. They may not all make sense to you, but hold great value to me. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and if you have time, share your Thanksgiving List in the comments section below.

What I am thankful for….

God’s glorious Word – it is my guide, the answer to every question about life, a love letter, my single source of comfort, and truly more necessary than food.
My gracious heavenly Father – He still hasn’t given up on me, a year later. I have given Him much grief and not always been the obedient child, but He still daily loadeth me with benefits.
My incredible husband, Stephen – We celebrated 5 years of marriage this year. He has always sought to lead our family in God’s ways, and not man’s. He’s a great father to our girls, and really my greatest earthly friend.
My 3 beautiful girls – Natalie is my little helper, Meredith is my little snuggler, and Sophia is my little sunbeam. They are happy, healthy, and love to sing and learn about God.
My church – We have gone through some heartache this year, but I know that God is in control of this flock. We have grown to become more of a family and source of accountability this year, not worried about the praise of men, but the smile of God.
My parents – They are not just my folks, but our business partners, and do a tremendous job of it. My children love their grandma and grandpa, and I am glad that they have this opportunity to know them.
My in-laws – Rachel (my sister-in-law) and I were just telling someone that our mother-in-law is our greatest advocate. 🙂 Despite being far away, they really stay in touch with us and are involved in our lives. Their godly example is still being felt in our family, even with the distance.
My sister – I know two things about talking to my sister: 1- she will not judge me when I am discouraged 2- she always seeks to give me Biblical advice. You would be hard pressed to find two sisters who are as close as we are.
My brother – Mitch has spent the better part of the year getting trained to protect our country. I am proud of our Marine, and grateful for the work that God is doing in his life.
Grandparents, both Stephen’s and mine – We love that our children get to know their great-grandparents. Mine live close by, and the girls love to be with them and I am thrilled they get to watch their wonderful example as I do too!
God’s Timing – Sophia’s birth, the purchase of our home, and so many other instances remind me of how perfect God’s timing really is!
God’s Provision – It doesn’t make sense, this very minute, why our needs are still being met. But they are being abundantly met! Jehovah Jireh is the only answer I can give.
A fun extended family – We may be quirky, but it is a blast to be together.
My brothers and sisters in laws – They are all great to be around, godly people, and we are all pretty like-minded. I am thankful for each and everyone of them that God has placed in our family.

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