Tag Archives: Daniel

My Favorite Name

This is a post that I wrote the first December that I was blogging. I wasn’t getting nearly the traffic back then that I do now, and since I’m having a little trouble getting anything new written I thought I’d repost this. The timing is perfect because tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It’s the perfect time to ponder Immanuel.

As Christmas is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus is Immanuel. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 regarding Jesus, and in Matthew the writer defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at one of my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But in spite of all His attempts to get through to them, His people didn’t always get it.

So God decided to become one of us, to be with us, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God loves us enough to be willing to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we do, to fully understand how we experience relationships and love. God did this in hopes that we could and would better relate to Him. Because ultimately what He wants is for us to be with Him.

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

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Interesting Sayings

I’ve been thinking about interesting sayings the past week and how we pick them up. Several have come up in conversation with others recently.

One of my favorites my mom used to say. “If I had my druthers . . .” In other words, if I had what I would rather have. I just like that word “druthers” though. I don’t know where this came from, but I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t make it up. She picked it up probably from her mother or it was a popular saying when she was a kid. We don’t always get our druthers, but we think if we just had them (whatever they are) we’d be happy. Of course, that’s not necessarily the case, but we’d like to have our druthers just the same.

Another saying that I remember my mom using was, “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” Now, most ordinary things are, though we do sometimes find ourselves in circumstances where a poke in the eye with a sharp stick would seem preferable. I think the point of this saying is that when we complain about minor inconveniences – like having to stand in a long line at the grocery store or enduring the common cold – it’s good to remember that such problems could be worse. I remember one time several years ago I was talking to an Oregon lawyer who happened to have the last name as my mom’s maiden name (which is not a terribly common name). At some point in the conversation he mentioned that he was originally from Michigan, which is where my mom was born. Then as we talked about something many people had been complaining about he said, “Well, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” I couldn’t believe it – I just started laughing. I had never heard anyone but my mom use that saying. Must have been a Michigan saying.

Another saying is one that has always reminded me of my dad, and I heard it for the first time in a long time at the Third Day concert last week. At one point in the middle of the concert when the band was in the middle of the center aisle two rows behind me, Mac Powell asked a man if he could use his seat to stand one. The man stood up and Mac climbed up on the chair so everyone could see him. He started to talk, then out of the corner of his eye he noticed how tall the guy who had given up his seat was. Even standing on the chair Mac was barely a head taller than the guy (and Mac Powell is not what I would call short). He turned to the guy and said, “Well you’re a tall drink of water, aren’t you?” I’ve always loved that description of a tall person, as a “tall drink of water.” It conjures up images of someone very tall and slender, like my dad who was 6′ 5″ and 172 lbs. I don’t know the origin of this saying, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Southern thing.

There are other sayings that have their origin in scripture, though I think a lot of people have no idea that they are based in God’s Word. One such saying is, “He saw the handwriting on the wall.” This saying means that a person sees that the end or their demise is near and imminent. This saying has its origin in the story in Daniel 5. In this story God gives King Belshazzar a message written on a wall by a disembodied hand. The message, interpreted by Daniel, is that the king had been weighed in the balance by God and found wanting, and that his kingdom would fall. Soon everything told by the handwriting on the wall came to pass as King Belshazzar lost his throne. He didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. We can often be just as stubborn. We can see “the handwriting on the wall” but don’t want to believe that anything bad will happen. But sometimes it is important to heed the handwriting on the wall and change our ways.

Another saying from scripture is that “money is the root of all evil.” At least that is what most people think the saying is. But in fact, the Biblical verse is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV). It is not money itself that is the root of evil. Money is just a tool, a means of facilitating trade of good between people. It is the love of money as an end in itself and putting our desire for money ahead of all else – including brother and sister, friend and co-worker, and even God – that is the root of evil.

Finally, one of my favorite Biblical sayings is a reference to King David. We often hear someone say, “he’s a man after my own heart.” This refers to someone who is like-minded and passionate about the same things as the speaker. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was passionate about the things of God and sought to know God better. In 1 Samuel 13:14, the prophet Samuel told King Saul that God had taken away his throne because of the evil he had done, and that “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people.” Then in the book of Acts, the writer Luke says, “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22 (NIV). I like this saying because it is a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to be a believer after God’s own heart. David certainly was not perfect, but he had a burning desire to know God better. When he did stray, he repented of his sin and returned to the Lord.

So in conclusion, if I had my druthers, I’d make sure that I did not succumb to the temptation to let the love of money consume me, and I’d be a woman after God’s own heart. Long ago I saw the handwriting on the wall if I continued in my sinful ways. I know that not only is following God better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, it’s more refreshing than a tall drink of water.

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To Repent in Ashes and Sackcloth

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. If you are interested in the history of Ash Wednesday, check out the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church website.

The focus of Lent is often on giving up something, of sacrificing something to draw us to a closer understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But this year for Lent, I think I want to focus more on the repentance aspect of the season that is signified by the ashes of Ash Wednesday.

Even in Old Testaments time, ashes were a symbol of repentance before the Lord. The prophet Daniel wrote: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 (NIV). Perhaps this is what we should be doing for Ash Wednesday and during Lent – turning to God and pleading with Him in prayer, fasting, and in repentance. It seems to me this would help us keep our eyes more on Him and less on ourselves and our own sacrifice.

Jesus also spoke of repentance in sackcloth and ashes:

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” Matthew 11:20-24 (NIV).

We have been told of an even greater miracle than the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida. Eye witnesses have told us of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection – the greatest miracle that has ever happened! When we believe, we experience the miracle of having the Holy Spirit come to dwell in our hearts and the regeneration of our hearts that follows.

As we travel through the season of Lent towards the celebration of the miracle of the resurrection, the knowledge of this miracle should lead us to repentance. Dictionary.com defines the verb repent: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” To truly repent, we can’t just feel sorry for the wrong we’ve done, but we must also turn towards God and ask Him to help us do better next time we are faced with temptation.

So during Lent, I want to turn towards God and seek to know Him better. I want to be in awe of the miracle of His grace and love.

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My Weight Loss Efforts for Recipe Friday

For the past few weeks I have been changing my eating habits to try to lose some weight. So far it’s working pretty good. But as a result, I haven’t made a whole lot of new things that could be used for a Recipe Friday post. As I thought about what to post, I decided that I would share the two big things that I changed that I believe have helped me most in my weight loss efforts.

First, I’ve begun writing down everything I eat and how many calories there are in each item. My goal is approximately 1400 calories per day. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but if you choose the right foods you can actually feel pretty full and satisfied on 1400 calories per day. And that is where writing it down helps. You start to get an idea of what things fill you up with fewer calories, and what things don’t make you feel full at all but have a ton of calories. For example, vegetables are very filling but don’t have high calorie counts. Salad dressings, butter, and other sauces, on the other hand, are not filling at all but can be very high in calories.

The other benefit of writing things down is I have to really think about whether I want to eat something, knowing it will be recorded in my food journal. It makes me more mindful of what I eat and helps with combatting my habit of eating when I am stressed or bored, and then not even really remembering that I ate something. If I have to write down each cookie and its calories, I am less likely to eat one at mid-morning, another in the afternoon, and a third and fourth after dinner, each time saying to myself, “It’s just one little cookie.”

Second, I’ve begun eating fewer breads and other starches and more fresh vegetables. My typical lunch consists of a 3 ounce piece of chicken, steak, or pork chop (depending on what we have leftovers of), or a half sandwich without cheese and light Miracle Whip, together with a big pile of vegetables with no dressing. I find that there are quite a few fresh vegetables that I like raw without dressing, as long as there is no lettuce along with them. As soon as you add lettuce and make it a salad, I feel like it needs dressing. But I can happily eat a whole red pepper (25 calories), a half a cucumber (20 calories), and a cup of jicama (46 calories) without a drop of dressing and be totally stuffed.

So you might be wondering how I know the calorie counts for the food I eat. Well, I use a web site called NutritionData for most of my calorie information, but I also consult restaurant web sites for their calorie information before I dine out. The cool thing about NutritionData is that if you register for a free account you can enter your own recipes and it will calculate the nutrition information for you. It also tells you more than just calories. Go here to see the complete nutritional information for jicama. I particularly like the chart showing the overall nutrition and fullness factor of each food.

My biggest challenge in losing weight, though, is dinner. If it was just me, it would be easier, but I have my husband and son to think about, too. But even there it is just a matter of being mindful of what I eat, cooking more vegetables so that the largest portion on my plate is vegetables and not potatoes or pasta.

As I embarked on this plan to change my eating habits (being resolved that this is not just a diet, but a new way to eat for life), I keep thinking of a story in Daniel.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. Daniel 1:8-16 (NIV).

This story is a good reminder that eating more vegetables and fewer starches and rich dressings will not only help me lose weight, but will also help me to feel better over all. I will be healthier and better nourished by fresh vegetables and fruits than by eating lots of cookies and rich foods. And I don’t have to feel like I am starved in the process because the foods I am eating are wonderfully filling and satisfying.

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Christ Is All – My Tuesday Three

Here it is Tuesday morning, and I woke up with no post scheduled and no idea what I was going to write about for My Tuesday Three. I began to lament ever having started this Tuesday theme because it would have been easier to just write a short post this morning, or to have written something short yesterday and scheduled it. It’s been a crazy week, between our cat dying, my birthday on Sunday, and movie plans with friends yesterday, I just never found the time to identify My Tuesday Three and figure out how they could be related.

So this morning, after my son and husband left, I decided that instead of trying to write something first thing, I would shower and spend some time in prayer first. As I prayed, I asked God to help me with my post today because I had nothing on my own. His answer? “They are in your blogroll.” After my prayer time, I went to my blogroll and here are the posts I was led to.

The first post I want to showcase is titled “No Other God Can Deliver” by Ben over at Justified Freely. I’ve been reading Ben’s blog for quite some time, and I love his simple format. He begins with a Bible passage and then includes a short 3 – 5 paragraph observation on the passage. This particular post is part of his series going through the book of Daniel, and is based on the outcome of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace at the order of King Nebuchadnezzar, but emerge unharmed. The passage Ben focused on in this post is Daniel 3: 28-30, where the King orders that no one speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego “because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

He found that zeal because he had seen something beyond the realm of possibility.  He had seen God deliver and deliver completely. . . .  It was one thing for them to come out of the fire alive.  It was another thing for them to come out of the fire with no evidence that they had ever been in the fire!

As I read this, I was reminded of how God will see us on judgment day, as if we had never been through the fire, because we will be clothed in Christ’s robe of Righteousness, washed clean of all our sin.

The second post I want to showcase is titled “All His Benefits (Part Two)” by Theresa Moore over at Moore to Ponder. In this post, she shares about the writings of one of her favorite Christian theologians, C. H. Mackintosh, and provides a link to read more of his writings.

He wrote a wonderful piece titled “Forgiveness of sins: What is it?” In this writing he very effectively explores that subject and presents it under three heads: First, the ground on which God forgives sins; secondly, the extent to which He forgives sins; and, thirdly, the style which He forgives sins.

The passage Theresa chose to share from Mackintosh is absolutely wonderful. It clearly and logically makes the argument that Jesus died for all our sins, past, present, and future. Once we are saved by His grace, we cannot lose that salvation simply because we sin yet again, because Jesus is there to forgive that sin as well. In the passage Theresa quotes, Mackintosh answers the concern that our future sin is not yet forgiven:

But I can imagine my reader exclaiming “What! do you mean to say that my future sins were all atoned for?” To this I reply, that all our sins were future when Christ bore them on the cursed tree. The sins of all believers, for the last eighteen centuries, were future when Christ died for them.

The third post I want to showcase is titled “Why would I be nervous when it’s all for God . . .?” by Rea over at bended spoon. Rea has a wonderfully whimsical way of writing and her wonder at how awesome our God is always shows through. In this post, she encourages us to trust in God to be faithful to bless us when what we do is all for Him. She encourages us that there is no reason to be nervous when He is at the center of what we do for others. 

If you feel that what you are giving is a big portion that eats your budget, know that the seed could grow into tree that will bear fruits and more seeds and more trees… The blessing will come around to you more than treefold — really fruitful!

So what ties these posts together? It is that Christ is all. Christ, the fourth Man in the fire, was all that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego needed to be delivered unscathed from the fiery furnace that took the lives of those who were ordered to throw them into it. Christ, who died on the cross, is all we need for the forgiveness of our sins – past, present, and future – so that we may stand pure and unscathed before God at judgment. Christ is all we need to provide us with the courage to not be nervous when all we do is for Him.

Christ was also all that was necessary to bring these three wonderful bloggers into my life so that I might be encouraged by them, and that I might in turn share their offerings with you so that you might be encouraged, too. So that for you, Christ might be all.

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