Daniel 1:17—God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind.
Daniel, probably in part because of my given name, has always been my hero. In studying his Old Testament prophetic book that contains his story, there are at least five superb applications that ought to inspire us to be like him.
He jumped in too early. A white policeman arrested a prominent black professor, and eager journalists needled President Obama to answer before he knew all the facts. He misspoke. Perhaps a lingering frustration gave birth to an unfortunate vetting. That silence can be golden is an understatement for a man besieged by microphones. Our society is sensitive to racial harmony—and should we be surprised, given that our melting pot is a degree away from a boiling kettle!
Have you ever wondered much about your soul, what it is, it’s purpose, etc.?
There are four common theories as to the soul’s origin. They are:
1. Traducianism—our soul and body come from our parents (Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox Churches).
2. Preexistence of all souls (Origen and Mormons)
3. Reincarnation (Hinduism)
4. Creationism—God creates a fresh soul for each body (Roman Catholics and most reformed theologians)
Charles and I were having a great discussion when I asked him what would happen if a truck came around the bend at a high speed and accidentally struck and killed him? What would he say to God when the Lord asked him why He should let him into heaven? Charles said, “Well the operative answer would be that I believe in Jesus Christ and am sorry for my sins.”
Acts 2:12,13--They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!”
A crumpled gray Saturn blocks the intersection while scores of drivers stuck by the accident sputter at the infuriating delay. Firemen extract the old woman from her car smashed by a young man in a big hurry. She saw a green light and preceded east on Canon Street. He was headed south on Anarchic Avenue. Irritated and in a hurry he ignored the red and sped through the intersection broad siding the hapless woman.
Why is it that the one year you get a flu shot you get the flu? Why does your dog shake off muddy water next to you when you’ve just changed into good clothes? Why does your husband get sick on the day you’re supposed to go on a family vacation? Why is it that the day you’re ready to complete your project the power goes out? Why do microphones work fine in rehearsal but then screech during the play? Why do people get mad at other drivers right after leaving church? Why do camera batteries go dead just when your son takes his first steps? Why does some stranger’s toddler pitch a fit at the climax of your daughter’s recital?
If someone were to ask you what the secret for living a fulfilled life is, what would you say? There are probably a dozen great responses.
Genesis 11:1,4-9--At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary . . . And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
1 Samuel 23:4--Once again, David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him: “Go at once to Keilah, for I will hand the Philistines over to you.”
Psalm 37:23—The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. (NLT)
So this is war. All airline flights were cancelled—an unprecedented occurrence. For days I couldn’t leave Georgia. The worst terrorist strike America has ever experienced induces bewilderment, anger, sadness, vulnerability, fear and a host of other emotions.
September 11, 2001 is our new day of infamy. Across the continent my wife explained to our three children the significance of what they observed on television. This is not some historical aberration, some freakish blow in a new millennium. This is not the isolated work of a depraved band of people. This is the calculated fist of evil and freedom is just one of its targets.
Recently I read a story in the newspaper only to find out that it was far more relevant than I realized. The Oregonianreported a bad car accident after which a woman had to have an emergency cesarean to save the life of her baby. Incredibly, the husband and father, is one of my drill sergeants. He suffered two broken knees, a broken arm and head injuries. The driver of the other car happened to be a diabetic who blacked out. His car crossed the median and two families’ lives were forever altered. By God’s grace no one perished.
The uniform can be a source of great inspiration or it can be the veneer of tyranny it all depends on the heart of the one clothed. There is a man who cannot advance in his job. His ability to move up in his organization is stifled by the hands of a Napoleon-pretender, one with an insecurity complex too radioactive to handle. Perhaps you know the type?
Followers—what thoughts does this word conjure? Are they passive, wimpy, sheep-like figures too meek to do anything but comply with those leading? Are they mature loyalists? In actuality, we cannot rightly answer the question unless we know concrete evidence about who is leading.
Driving Highway 101 from Fort Hunter Liggett to San Jose, I experienced an epiphany. Whoa was it a boat rocker! It came via a clever California license plate in front of me--WIZDUMB. It caused me to reflect on the two kinds of wisdom that exist.
They built a dream-house overlooking the Columbia River. Their blueprint was excellent, their planning they thought complete. Unfortunately, they misunderstood and therefore violated the zoning regulations Skamania county officials insisted be kept. Their structure was too prominent in its profile, marring the scenic Columbia gorge in its natural beauty. Their unfinished home must be moved!
A man walked into his garden distressed. As he bent to water his plants he noticed the pathetic condition of the snail-eaten leaves. Beside the plant grew weeds making it hard to discern friend from predator. What an overwhelming battle he thought. What chance has beauty to blossom against the constant threat of bug and weed? Yet as he looked more closely, he observed strong vibrant shoots emerging from weary stems. Then the Lord spoke to him.
At approximately 3:30 a.m. the bright flashing lights of the police car in his rearview mirror meant pullover time. He stopped and started to get out of his car—not a good move! The stern voice of the policeman ordered him to keep his hands in sight and get back in his car. He noticed with apprehension the lawman holding a flashlight in one hand while unlatching his holster with the other. The agitated officer moved forward checked his license and then searched the contents of his car. Fortunately, he was not charged or ticketed, one of his headlights was not working.
Young Eric made quite an impression. This child from Tigard Oregon gave a church full of people an earful of wisdom. During a time of thanksgiving, Eric bravely stood up and waited for the microphone. The youngster explained that although he was sad his family would be moving away, they would have a special opportunity to be missionaries to the people in the city where his dad now has a new job. As most of us know, leaving friends and the comfort of home to reside in another place is tough. But Eric had a heavenly perspective that didn’t come from reading comic books.
There is a long stretch of freeway between Fayetteville, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, that is mostly flat and lined by lush green pine trees. It’s the kind of drive where hundreds of miles can all look pretty much the same.