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Tag: Daniel

lion in den

Courage is a Habit

decorated hero

The 1980s knew how to create a feel-good movie. The actors and actresses might have had cheesy hair and strange clothing styles and makeup, but iconic films, like Back to the FutureGoonies, and The Karate Kid, left viewers cheering and feeling on top of the world as they left the theatres. This summer, the movie, Maverick, brought back the same feeling and topped the movie charts because of it.

We love to cheer for the underdog as Daniel-son balanced on his injured leg to take out his opponent with a jumping front snap kick. Our fists pumped when the housekeeper poured out Mouth’s marble bag filled with precious gems and exclaimed in Spanish, no sell, and the contract to redevelop their neighborhood was torn in two. We loved watching our heroes who dug deep and found the courage to overcome their fear and defeat the villain.

In books and movies, there’s a moment when the hero comes to grips with the realization that he is the one who must save the day. He then pulls out the courage to win, and the movie resolves. Courage, however, isn’t a switch that turns on and off, and it isn’t something that strikes us in a moment. Courage is a habit.

lion in den

Like how working out creates muscle, so too must we build our courage. It can start small and build over time. David began with a slingshot in a field against wild animals, like bears and lions, before he versed a giant. Daniel asked his superior if he and his friends could go against regulation and only eat vegetables before progressing to the lion’s den. Peter decided to obey a stranger standing on the shore and toss his fishing net over the side of the boat after a fruitless night of fishing. He later boldly proclaimed Jesus as God’s Son, and religious officials crucified him.

Another crucial component is determining in advance what our reactions will be. Courage is a mindset. We need to decide to stand up and do what is right before we even come across a person in need, see a burning building, or are asked to do something or go somewhere that would be unwise. If we wait until we’re in the heat of the moment when the boyfriend’s hands are moving up the shirt, friends are saying just try it, or a boss asks us to manipulate the numbers, temptation will be whispering, it’s okay, and pressure will draw us down a dark path. If we decide our responses in advance, we’ll be less likely to be led in a direction we don’t want to go.

Start a habit of courage.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Feet hanging off bed

Essential to a Good Night’s Sleep

feet hanging off bed

Per the sleep industry, the key to great night’s rest lies in the proper mattress: foam mattresses that conform to your body supporting it in all the right places, innerspring mattresses for even firmness, or hybrids that have both spring and foam for the best of both worlds. Yet, a new Consumer Report study shows 68 percent of Americans (an estimated 164 million people) struggle to sleep at least one night each week, if not more.

We can have the best mattress, a pillow that puts us in the proper alignment, and sheets made out of cotton from Giza, but if there’s unrest in our thoughts, then we won’t sleep well. Take King Darius, as King of Babylon. He had the best quality of everything. However, the night Daniel spent in the Lion’s Den, the king tossed and turned, probably yanking the silk sheets along with him, and beating the pillow to fluff it up. However, his thoughts kept turning to the awful vision of Daniel being torn to shreds.

Daniel, on the other hand, stayed the night on the hard floor of a cave with pacing lions, yet he sounded well-rested and chipper the following morning. His first words to the king were, “May the king live forever!” He then explains how an angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:21-22).

King Darius might have had all the outer workings for a good night’s sleep, but he didn’t have the inner peace. He relied on his wisdom, power, and abilities, whereas Daniel trusted God. After discovering he’d been tricked into sending his friend to certain death, King Darius made every effort until sundown to find a way to save Daniel. At sunset, when no solution presented itself, he had no choice but to execute the punishment of his decree and lost sleep over it.

Lion with open mouth

I’m guilty of mulling over problems, waking up, and stressing over a solution that I, too, cannot find. I think, like King Darius, that it is my responsibility, and in my power, to fix it. I take on the burden, and my sleep suffers. I worry if my boys will get back home okay. I worry about work and if my projects will get done in time. I worry if the world is going to be okay. And there are plenty more fears waiting next in line.
When will I learn I’m not capable of holding the lion’s mouths closed with my bare hands?

It’s the nights, where instead of worrying, I release my grip and give my problems to God that I find rest. When I allow Him to close the lions’ mouths, I sleep well, leaving it in His control.

There is no problem too big for an all-powerful God, nor a worry too small that He doesn’t notice.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:26-27

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Roller Coaster

Being Prayed Up

When I was eight years old, I went to Six Flaggs Theme Park in Illinois with a friend of mine and her dad. Back then, this Six Flaggs’ held the largest wooden rollercoaster in American called The Great American Eagle. It had broken world

The Great American Eagle Roller Coaster at Six Flaggs

The Great American Eagle Roller Coaster at Six Flaggs

records for being the tallest and fastest coaster. It also had the largest drop, and of course, we were determined to ride on it.  As I peered up at the wooden tracks that towered higher than any building I’d ever seen and listened to the rattling of the cars and the terrified screams of the riders, a sense of unease prickled its fingers up my back. My friend looked at me and said, “You want to go, right?” I looked over at her father and figured there was no way he was going to let a pair of girls, who barely met the height requirements, go on this monstrosity, so I replied, “Of course!”

Next thing I knew, I was led through a labyrinth of zigs and zags and was ushered into a seat in an open car. I American Eagle Roller Coaster at Six Flaggsthought my friend and I were in this together, so I slid over for her to sit beside me. However, there was three of us, so she scooted into the car behind me next to her dad. That left me to ride with a complete stranger. Back then, I was extremely shy. Not only was I petrified of the potential agonizing death that loomed ahead of me, but I was also panicked by the unknown young man buckling his belt beside me. He asked if I’d ever ridden the Eagle before. I remember I couldn’t even form words, so I shook my head.

Then, the car began to roll forward, clicking at a steady pace as we moved up the steep incline at an agonizingly slow pace. My fingers clutched the cold steel of the lap bar in a death grip that turned my knuckles white, and as we crested the top I prayed, “God, please help!”

I don’t remember breathing the entire ride. The stranger raised his hands above his head and screamed his lungs out. I prayed for it to end. When the car finally came to a stop, the stranger smiled at me and said, “You did well for your first time.”

I wanted to laugh, but if I did I probably would have started crying. I didn’t respond just pried my frozen hands from the lap bar and stepped off the ride on legs that wobbled.

How many of us wait until the lap bar is lowered and we’re cresting the hill of life’s roller coaster to then cry out to God for help? What if we learned to pray while we stood in line or before we even got to the park?

“What is God telling you about it?” This is a question I’ve been asked when telling my husband or others about a problem.  This question is perfect because it assumes you’ve already taken it to God and have been praying about your issue. If you haven’t (for which, at times, I can be faulted), then it’s a nice nudge to get you back in the right direction. Daniel from the Bible was great at this. Three times a day he bowed down and prayed to God. He knew God was his source of strength. He made certain he was prayed up and filled with God’s wisdom. So when the unexpected happened and he was tossed into a lion’s den, Daniel was prepared and trusting in God’s protection.

Try it. Pray over your day. Set aside some quality time with God and get prayed up. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.

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