Twenty-Six

One would like to think that a place of worship would provide a safe environment for people. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case. 

Not long ago, the largest mass shooting in the history of the state of Texas took place on a Sunday morning at a relatively small church in a small town. According to one report I read, every person who was in attendance that Sunday was either killed or wounded. As the news began to spread, it was widely reported that a total of twenty-six people lost their lives that day. 

I was intrigued by the wording of a report posted a week later on nytimes.com. I found one portion of that report to be especially interesting:

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the victims included 10 women, eight children, seven men and the fetus of one victim, Crystal M. Holcombe

The reason I find that wording interesting is that Crystal M. Holcombe was in her eighth month of pregnancy when the shooting took place. Both she and her unborn child (and other members of her family) lost their lives that day.

In the week between the shooting and the report I read, it seems that The New York Times found a “workaround” in order to suggest that a child who had been in the mother’s womb for eight months was only a fetus. If they had given the total number that had been widely reported, they would have included this unborn child among that number. Their worldview apparently would not let them do that, so they broke the numbers down in order to let their readers “do the math” and draw their own conclusions.   

Some may wonder why the original reports used the number twenty-six as the total of people killed on that Sunday morning. The answer may lie in the laws of the state of Texas. 

According to thehuffingtonpost.com:

Texas was among the first states to pass a fetal homicide law. The state’s penal code includes a definition of ‘an individual’ as ‘a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.’

I will not take the time or space here to delve into all of the scriptural, moral, and/or legal arguments that may help to explain why I am opposed to the evil of abortion. I think that the state of Texas did a pretty good job of that in their fetal homicide law.

Until the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which was handed down in 1973, one of the safest environments for an unborn child was in the womb of his/her mother. Since that decision legalized abortion, that is no longer the case.

Since the decision in that case was handed down, a huge number of unborn children have never been blessed with the opportunity to worship or to do anything else. Their lives have ended before they ever left the safety and security of the womb of the mother.

That number of abortions is significantly more than one (the unborn child whose life was ended in Texas recently). It is significantly more than the total of twenty-six who lost their lives on that day. 

It is significantly more than the total current population of the entire state of Texas. In fact, it is a little more than twice that number. According to the latest figures I can find, the population of Texas is 28,797,290.

As I type these words, the current number of abortions performed in this country since 1973 is 59, 937,525 – and counting! (There is actually a website – www.numberofabortions.com – that has an “abortion clock” which allows you see that the number change every few seconds.)

It is my prayer that the “creative reporting” of some segments of the news media will not somehow obscure the fact that every soul is precious; including the souls of the unborn. May we never forget that the number of people who lost their lives in a small church in Texas was –

twenty-six!


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Photo background credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick on Creative Commons

What Makes a Day Good?

Do you ever have one of those days where you just realize all is going well and things are good in the world? I had one of those today and as I sit here tonight trying to reflect, it makes me wonder: what was so special about today?

What made today so good compared to yesterday or tomorrow? Nothing spectacular really happened. I did manage to get up on time, which is always a nice start for me. It was a normal day at school with a positive start celebrating a recent success of some of my kids. I still had lessons to teach and paperwork to complete. Some of my students were good; others were challenging. I dropped my ranch dressing and made a mess in the floor, but I also had a student find a welded sound without even being asked! My sweet husband brought me a diet soda because I had a faculty meeting straight to a band concert and finally got home after over 12 hours away.

I think, as I sit and reflect on why today was one of the “good ones,” I have realized that my reaction to events and my attitude were a large part of what made the day good. I didn’t take every event – good or bad – and make it all about me. I just let the day happen and was thankful.

In this very busy season, where it is all too easy to let small frustrations ruin a day, don’t miss the gifts God is giving you in each day: the smile of a child, the warmth of a hug, a sincere compliment, air to breathe, people to love. Those things are around us every day, but sometimes we miss them.

As I looked for a Biblical thought to put with what I am trying to express, I was thinking about attitude. And the best example of that (and everything else) is – of course – Jesus, our Savior. In Philippians 2, we read about His attitude of always giving, always emptying Himself on our behalf. That will go a long way in helping you have good days!

Continue reading the book of Philippians and you find another simple, yet powerful, thought that can help you as you seek good days:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

How Titus 2 Will Transform a Church (and Save a Bundle of Money in the Process)

Families are struggling. Even in the church, families are going through rough times. We can act like it isn’t happening, or we can face it head-on.

While there is nothing wrong with this approach, for many congregations the default response is to hire someone. “Let’s get a younger preacher who can relate to these families.” (Never mind the fact that, since he’s young, he’s probably struggling, too!) “Let’s add a family minister to our staff.” “We need to add a counseling center.”

Trust me, none of these are necessarily bad things, and in many cases, they can provide a great help to a congregation.

But in our rush to think of staffing as the solution, are we forgetting a Biblical (oh, and far less expensive) method? It’s found right in the middle of the book of Titus, and it might just transform a congregation.

Interestingly, chapter 2 begins by introducing us to the phrase “sound doctrine” (which just means “healthy teaching”). Typically, when we think of “sound doctrine,” we think of issues like the plan of salvation or pure worship. Those things are true, but what is interesting is this: that’s not the subject under consideration in Titus 2. What is? What is the “sound doctrine” Titus is supposed to preach and hold to? The relationship between older Christians and younger Christians!

For example:

Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2)

Don’t you think there might be some younger men who would see that type of example and understand what it means to be a godly Christian man? What if these older men were willing to teach some classes or even just take a younger man under their wings and show them what it means to walk in the faith?

What about our Christian ladies? Paul had that covered as well, and it didn’t take bringing on another staff member:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (verses 3-5)

It’s simply about living the right way and being willing to pour that into the next generation.

Here’s what I often see as a problem, though. Younger men and women (and I’ll let you decide what is “younger” and “older”) have some issue and, instead of the church asking a wise older person to teach or help, they simply go to their peers for advice or (more often) validation.

Of course, we need peers as friends. They can provide a sounding board and a place where we can know we are not alone.

But God’s Book says the older ones are to be teaching the younger ones how to do things in this life God’s way!

Older Christians, that means it is time for you to step up to the plate and do what God has commanded you to do! Instead of seeing an issue and helping to pay for another staff member, you roll up your sleeves and help that struggling dad or that hurting mother! You show them what God’s Word says and you share your immense wisdom with them.

But younger Christians, that also means you have to swallow your pride, not think you or your generation has it all figured out, and actually listen to the wisdom of these wonderful saints! Instead of trying to seek out a hired hand who is more “relevant” and in the same boat, why not listen to someone who has been there and still carries himself or herself with Christian grace?

You want to transform a church and help your families? I’ll take God’s plan any day of the week!


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

3 Ways to Stay Positive When You Are Depressed

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….It’s the hap..happiest season of all.” That’s what the song says anyway. It would be great if this were truly the case in every situation.

But in reality, the holidays can be stressful. There are so many things to get done, and the weather turns dark and dreary and cold. People are more depressed from December to February than during any other time of the year. And if there have been major disappointments or if there has been recent loss of life, Christmas can be far from cheerful. So here are a few tips on how to stay positive when all of the circumstances around you are trying to get you down.

1. Remember Your Pit. This week was the 13th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I can tell you I have vivid memories of events and emotions back when I was first thrown into the pit. But I am not in that place today. Level ground sure does feel pretty decent when you remember what it was like to be in deep despair. I think of Joseph, who was cast into a pit by his brothers. I imagine getting out of that pit was his salvation. Even though he became a slave, and even though he was the victim of a terrible lie, and even though he was thrown into prison, eventually he was delivered and became second in the kingdom. Any difficult days Joseph experienced along the way were probably never as bad as the pit. If you want to stay positive and content with today, remember your darkest hours, compare those hours to the salvation of today, and give thanks!

2. Remember Your People. We have all had people and do have people that mean a great deal to us. If we have done anything well, or significant, or if our lives have amounted to anything at all it is probably because of the people who were present long before we had matured enough to accomplish anything. There is a reason Hebrews 11 was written to early Christians. It was a reminder for them to not be discouraged and to press on based on the examples of those who had already endured and won the victory. “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us – looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2). If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Elijah was told by God when he thought he was the only one that there were 7,000 more people just like him. You have people! You have them in the past, you have them in the future, and you have them today! Press on with them! Press on for them!

3. Remember Your Propitiation. “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). To be forgiven, to be redeemed, to be blood-bought, and to be heaven-bound is truly amazing! Jesus has done that for us. He is our propitiation. The word “propitiation” is similar to the word “atonement” or “appeasement” and it basically reminds us that because of Jesus, everything is going to be ok. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful for the grace of God. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that I am truly loved and worth dying for.  When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that this moment of darkness is only temporary. When I remember Jesus I can be thankful that anytime now he is coming back to take me home to eternal glory.

I want you to know it is ok to be depressed sometimes. You are a human being and that means you are beset by weakness. Things in life happen and you will be hurt and disappointed from time to time by people and circumstances and just plain old living. But God is above the clouds. Your pit is temporary. Your people are nearby.  And your propitiation is in heaven – watching, guiding, and interceding on your behalf every single day.

There’s more to be glad about than sad about. He was born. He was here. He is risen!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Huge Leadership Principles in One Short Verse

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the unusual tactics employed by Gideon to win a battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. We are given this information in Judges 7 about the size of the opposition to Gideon and his men:

…the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance (Judges 7:12).

As the events recorded in Judges 7 progress, we learn how Gideon’s army shrank from 32,000 to 300. Those of us who are familiar with this material are aware of how that “winnowing’ was done. It is not our purpose here to comment on that.

Our purpose here is to consider some leadership principles suggested by one verse in this inspired account. It seems that these principles would be helpful for any who, like Gideon, are called upon to lead. They would be especially helpful for those, again like Gideon, who are called upon to lead God’s people and to lead them as they deal with what seem to be overwhelming odds.

The verse I have in mind is Judges 7:17:

And he (Gideon) said to them (the 300 men), “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do.”

Did you notice some very important principles in those few words? Gideon then (and godly leaders now) will encourage people to –

  • Look at me

The religious leaders during the days when our Lord was on the earth loved for people to look at them. They wore special clothing and publicly performed various “religious acts” in order to be seen. 

Jesus was not favorably impressed by them, though. He said, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matt. 23:5).

This is not the kind of leadership exemplified by Gideon. It is not the kind exhibited by godly leaders today. It most certainly was not the kind exhibited by the greatest Leader who was ever on the earth.

People need somebody to whom they can look for guidance, confidence, and security. This is especially true when we are engaged in a great spiritual battle. Those who lead God’s people today need to be those who have complete confidence in God, His Word, and His promises. 

Would you voluntarily follow a military leader who told you that there is no chance of winning, but that “We’re going to fight anyway?” Would you play for a coach who told you that the game was already lost before it ever started?

When people looked at Jesus, they saw One whose trust was so complete that He was willing to suffer in terrible ways in order to fulfill God’s plan. He knew that, even though it might look like some battles might be lost, the war would ultimately be won. 

Godly leaders today should follow the example of Paul, who was inspired to write:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

  • and do likewise

Jesus was not only critical of the pride and arrogance that characterized the religious leaders of the Jews. He was also critical of them because “…they preach, but do not practice” (Matt. 23:3).

This, of course, is in stark contrast with His ministry. Consider the opening verse of the book of Acts. Luke begins his second book with these words: “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1, emphasis added).

There is an old adage that suggests that one cannot push a string. A string must be pulled. That illustration is used to drive home the point that leaders, by definition, lead!

If leaders of God’s people want those under their oversight to be more loving, the leaders need to be more loving. If the desire is to be more evangelistic, they need to be more evangelistic. If there is a need for more commitment, devotion, etc., all of that should start with the leadership. 

  • When I come to the outskirts of the camp

Have you ever noticed where the head coach of a football team is during a game? I can tell you from some very limited experience as a coach that standing along the sidelines is one of the worst places in the world to “see the big picture” of a football game. 

The assistant coaches and others who are positioned high above the action have a much better view and can get a lot better perspective than the head coach who is standing along the sidelines. They may also be sheltered from some inclement weather that the head coach is having to endure with his team along the sidelines.

Did you catch three important words in that last sentence? Those words are with his team! His team needs a sense from the coach that “we are in this together.” One way to do that is to be physically with them during “the heat of the battle.”

It might work to yell “sic ‘em” to a dog, stand back, and watch the dog take care of whatever situation needs to be taken care of. That doesn’t work with people. Effective leaders don’t just shout orders; they roll up their sleeves and get involved.

  • do as I do

In some ways, this phrase may be seen as a repetition of some of what has already been discussed. In at least one way, though, I believe that there is a slight difference. What has been discussed thus far does not necessarily involve action.

At least, it does not have to involve action of a positive nature. It might have been possible for Gideon to have been telling his men to watch him for a sign to retreat or to do a host of other things that would not have been productive.

However, as we learn as we keep reading Judges 7, Gideon had a definite plan in mind. In order for that plan to be successful, it had to be implemented. In order for the plan to be implemented, action had to be taken – by Gideon and by those three hundred men.

Effective leaders lead by example. Effective leaders lead by action. Effective leaders can, with confidence in God and the support of others, accomplish great things for the Lord. 

The most effective Leader the world has ever known did not choose three hundred to carry out His plan. He chose only twelve to be His apostles. After the defection of one of them, He gave only eleven men an almost unbelievable task to “…teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19) and to “…preach the gospel to every creature… Mark 16:15). He also promised to be with them as they carried out what we know as “The Great Commission” (cf. Matt. 28:20).

It is my prayer that those today who lead the people of God in any way will realize that those “marching orders” are still in force. It is also my prayer that godly leaders today will follow leadership principles found in a variety of places in God’s Word.

Hopefully, these thoughts about the principles practiced by Gideon will be helpful in some way.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 94: Family Book Recommendations from 2017 [Podcast]

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On this episode of the podcast, Adam is joined by Mary Carol and Turner. The kids share a couple of books they’ve enjoyed reading lately, then Adam shares his 10 favorite books of the year. We hope this encourages you to read more, and–who knows?–maybe even gives you a Christmas idea.

Links to all the books below.

The Book List (all links are affiliate links with Amazon)

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel (Lois Gladys Leppard)

Buffalo Before Breakfast (from “Magic Tree House” series; Mary Pope Osborne)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Roald Dahl)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum)

The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership (James C. Hunter)

3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice (Les Parrott)

Fight: Winning the Battles that Matter Most (Craig Groeschel)

How to Lose a Kingdom in 400 Years (Michael Whitworth)

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller)

For Better or For Kids (Patrick and Ruth Schwenk)

Boys Should be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons (Dr. Meg Meeker)

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport (Matthew Algeo)

Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the Wild West (Stephen Fried)

The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (James Oakes)

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Is Thanksgiving Over?

The turkey is all gone. The other left-overs have all been eaten or are growing fuzz in their containers in the refrigerator. The blow-up mattresses have all been deflated and put back in their containers. The blankets and extra pillows are back on the closet shelf. The sheets, towels, and tablecloths are all washed and back in the linen closets. Games and songbooks are neatly stored in the cabinet and basket in which they live. 

The noise and laughter of eleven people being under one roof is gone and the house is very quiet again. The memories of funny stories and actions live on in our minds, but Thanksgiving 2017 is over.

Those of you posting on Facebook something for which you are thankful are finally finished since today is the last day of November. When you wake up tomorrow you won’t have to come up with something to post. Yay!

But, for the Christian, should thanksgiving ever be over? Consider, if you will, the following verses from God’s word:

  • David, after being delivered from his enemies, said: “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name” (Psalm 18:49).
  • “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1).
  • “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” And again, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:1,8).
  • The apostle Paul was a firm believer in giving thanks to God. In both of his letters to the Corinthians, he referenced thankfulness. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57), and, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15)
  • He was also thankful for those who were close to him in heart: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15,16), and “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
  • And then his all-encompassing statement concerning thankfulness: “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

This list could go on and on, but you surely get my point. Every day we live should be full of thanksgiving to the One who created us and continues to bless us. Even in those tough times we all face, God should be thanked. Did you miss that last reference I included in my list? “…In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (emphasis added).

Let’s work together to change how we view thanksgiving. Let’s change our everyday focus from looking for the bad things that are going on in our lives, to seeing the good all around us. When something negative comes your way, search for that glimmer of good that is somewhere in it. I promise, it’s there!

How different our lives would be if we would just focus on that with which God has blessed us and convey our gratitude to Him. Those around us will notice – at home, in your congregation, in your neighborhood, at Wal Mart, or wherever you happen to be.

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100)


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

What is Your Identity?

We live in a time of labels. Everyone has to have an identity and we seem to want to group together with people based on certain labels. More than that, we live in times where we are continually standing for “rights” or “privileges” based on those labels.

Some are gender-based.

Some are based on ethnicity or skin color.

Many in our modern culture base their identity on their sexuality.

We describe ourselves by our jobs, or marital status, teams we root for, and more.

It seems that, unless we fit into a certain category, we aren’t accepted by today’s world. It’s almost as if you have to check just the right boxes or you aren’t part of the groups that really matter in modern America.

Here’s my problem, though: I see too many Christians standing for these labels and failing to remember a vital fact. What’s the vital fact?

If you are a Christian, that is your identity!

It is not that I stop being male when I become a Christian, but that’s no longer what defines me. Christ is my identity. (By the way, that means that, while there are different roles that men and women play in both the home and the church, there is zero difference in their worth before the heavenly Father.)

It’s not that I no longer am married; but Christ defines all that I do in that role as a husband, because He is my life. (By the way, that means that I will follow what Christ says and love my wife as He loved the Church, being sacrificial for her in all that I do and not seeking my own way all the time.)

It is not that issues of sexuality do not matter anymore, but I will follow what Christ has to say about even that area of life, because He is my Lord and Master. (By the way, that means that only monogamous heterosexual relations between a husband and wife are acceptable to the one who follows Jesus.)

When Christians start identifying themselves by other things first, those things begin to cloud their thinking. I start to think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I start to identify first as an American or a person of another nationality.

But when I remember that I put Christ on in baptism, that I wear His name, and that He is my Lord, that must become the only primary identity I wear.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

The Peacemaker

Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 4th century. He went to Rome and found chaos in the streets. The commotion was over the gladiators. He was amazed that four centuries after Christ had come people were still killing each other for sport. When he arrived at the Coliseum the gladiators were shouting, “Hail Caesar, we will die for Caesar.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said: “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd protested and began to shout, “Run him through, Run him through.” A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, “In the name of Christ, forbear.” The crowd continued to chant, “Run him through.” One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monk’s stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, “In the name of Christ forbear.” A hush came over the 80,000 people in the Coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and more, and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.

What does it take for there to be peace? It takes sacrifice. It takes humility. It takes someone who will do what is right regardless of the cost.

Consider all the sources of conflict in life: There are wars over land and property. There are divorces over “irreconcilable differences.” Sometimes relationships become strained by pride. And most of all, there is the conflict between God and ourselves because of our own foolishness and sin.

What motivates us to peace? A man standing in the middle of the conflict. A man who loves us so much that he will not allow us to continue in our sin and death. A man who himself is willing to give his life to save our own. A man who will help us to see what we are doing to ourselves and to others. A man who took a sword and cried, “Father, forgive!”

God has called us to peace. He has called us to peace through the death of His own Son. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Praise God for His love and compassion in the midst of our foolishness!

“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9
—————————————————————–

But Daniel — Then Daniel

Most of us will never be in a place of prominence like Daniel. I have no illusions about ever being “…the third ruler in the kingdom…” (Dan. 5:29). I don’t have any expectations about my words or actions ever being reported by the national news media. 

While our “sphere of influence” may not be as large as his, our Lord expects that influence to be positive (cf. Matt. 5:13-16). It seems to me that there are a couple of things learned from Daniel that can help us to do that.

In the opening verses of the book that bears his name, we learn about a number of young men who were taken from their homeland into a foreign country. We learn that they were exceptional young men and that they were to be trained in the language and customs of that country. Of course, Daniel was one of those young men.

Along with that training, there were certain expectations. Daniel understood that some of those expectations were in conflict with the will of God. Specifically, Daniel knew that some of the expectations would have an impact on his diet 

Daniel also knew a couple of other things. He also knew that he was far from home. He also knew he was in a very definite minority.

So, what did this young man do when the “odds were stacked against him?” What did he do when he was presented with the opportunity to “go along in order to get along?”

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank…” (Dan. 1:8, ESV).

“But Daniel” – those two words say a lot. They say that Daniel knew he was different. They say that he knew that there were things he could not do because of his devotion to God.

Those of us who at least claim to follow Jesus understand that there are some things we cannot do in order to live up to that claim. It has never been the case that God’s people can “blend in” with ungodly people and/or lifestyles. 

We are to be distinctive. We need to live up to the “but Daniel” portions of scripture. Those portions can be a real challenge.

However, there are two other words in the passage that also present a challenge.

“Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, test your servants for ten days…” (Dan. 1:11-12, ESV).

His resolve led to action! 

I’m concerned that Christians are often only known for what we refuse to do. We may focus a little too much on the “but Daniel” portions of scripture and not give much thought to those “then Daniel” portions. 

I would like to challenge all of us (starting with me) to also consider the “then Daniel” portions. “But Daniel” does little good without “then Daniel.” Salt does no good when it is left in a salt shaker and light does no good when it is covered up. 

It is significant that, after our Lord washed the feet of His apostles, He said:

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17, ESV).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn