Bible Study, Blog, Daily Devotional

An Acquired Taste – Pt. 6

This is Part 6 of our study/devotional series on the book of Daniel, “An Awkward Stance.”

Good morning, peeps!

I will try to pick this back up where I left off.  Let’s see how well I do.  The last thing I was talking about was the importance of knowing who you are.  This principle stems from what I said several blogs ago about Daniel’s choice to refuse – excuse me, “piously refuse” – to eat the king’s meat.  People have said that what Daniel did was take a stand.  I’ve said that, too.  As a matter of fact, that is the whole reason I titled this series “An Awkward Stance“.  Then God was like, “Uhn uh”.  I wish He would’ve said something before I made that jpeg.  Talk about awkward.   It was a choice: the stand happened long before that.  Long before.  Note how old Daniel was at the time.  Bibilical scholars have put him at age 16 when this happened.  So, if the stand happened long before this sitch, when was the stand made?  When he was two…or did someone before him make the stand?

Someone else did.

My mommy is the most beautiful woman I have ever known. You may “beg to differ”, but I truly do not care one bit.  And I’m not talking about her outward appearance, even though the woman is BAD, with a capital B-A-D.  Her skin is flawless and without someone telling you, you can’t tell that she will be 70 at the end of this month.  Like I said, the sista is BAD.  So, yes, her outsides are beautiful, but I’m talking about her innards.  Not her intestines and gall bladder, but her heart.  And not her physical h–…do I really have to explain this??

Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Back to her turning 70… We’re the type of family that does fun and crazy stuff to celebrate the milestones of our lives, and this will be no different.  We’re having a small dinner with just her lineage and I thought it would be cool to present her with fun gifts that represent each decade of her life.  For the first decade, she’s getting a mudpie-making kit because that is something she loved to do as a kid.  Why she ate them, I have no idea.  For the second decade, I thought of baby shoes because that’s when she birthed my bigheaded brother.  I didn’t remember that she also had my sister and myself, too.  Duh.  Other than getting married to my dad, I couldn’t think of anything else that she did that was significant during her twenties…until my sister said it.  “Remember, she got saved.”

Ahhh.   Now there’s the stand.

—d.

Bible Study, Blog, Daily Devotional

An Acquired Taste – Pt. 2

Good morning, peeps!

Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday.  I ended the blog talking about the Daniel Fast and all of the things one cannot eat while on it.  Allow me to refresh your memory:

  • Iodized salt
  • Sweeteners
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Breads, pasta, flour, crackers (unless made from sprouted ancient grains)
  • Cookies and other baked goods
  • Oils
  • Juices
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Gum
  • Mints
  • Candy

Like I said before: joy.  You are not to consume joy during this fast.   Salt.  Dairy.  Coffee.  Cookies.  Things that once had a pulse.  Oh, but you can eat pulse. Mmmhmm.   So, basically, whomever came up with this doesn’t like me.   Why dontcha just string “do not enter” tape across the doorway of my kitchen?!  All of my favorites are on that list.  I personally think that gum and mints should get a pass because those are essential…for eh-ver-ree-body.  Let me count the items.  There are 1, 2, 3…13.  Thirteen things on this list that I cannot eat if I want to do the Daniel Fast.   It may not seem like a lot, but it is to me…because they are my favorites.


By the way, I don’t know if I can do a scheduled bible study / devotional series thing.  I’ll just talk to y’all every day and you can call that day’s blog whatever you want: a bible study or a devotional.  It doesn’t matter to me.  You all will get it as it comes.  We good?  Good.


As I sulked over the intentional, unprovoked, and vicious attack on the things I love, nothing inside of me thought, “Well, what do you get to eat?”  Nope.  All I saw was the food that was being taken away from me. And let me make something clear while I’m fussing: God is not telling me to do this fast.  Uhn-uh.  He is probably looking at me and wondering, “What is this girl’s problem??  She’s getting all upset like I’ve actually told her to do this.”  I really am perturbed.  Somewhere in my holiest of holys – my pride – I am offended.  Why can’t we boycott sauerkraut? Huh??  So, here is the list of common foods you can consume while on this fast:

Vegetables (preferably organic and fresh or frozen)

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yams
  • Zucchini

Fruits (preferably organic and fresh or frozen)

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconuts
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon

Legumes (preferably organic)

  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Mung beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas

Nuts & Seeds (preferably organic, raw, unsalted and soaked/sprouted)

Whole Grains (preferable organic)

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (groats soaked)

Liquids

That list is like a Dead Sea scroll, isn’t it? I’m not even going to bother counting those items.  And the site I went to listed the benefits of fasting as well (this is straight copy/paste, by the way):

Spiritual Benefits of Fasting

Spiritual benefits are a top reason for fasting and may include:

  • Fasting brings you closer to God
  • Fasting makes you more sensitive to God’s voice
  • Fasting helps break bad habits or even addictions
  • Fasting shows us our weakness and allows us to rely on God’s strength

Mental & Emotional Benefits of Fasting

Fasting benefits are different from person to person, but the following have been known to occur: 

  • Fasting relieves anxiety and nervousness
  • Fasting can increase peace and shalom
  • Fasting clears your mind of negative thoughts and feelings
  • Fasting can help heal relationships in your life that have been stressful
  • Fasting decreases brain fog
  • Fasting helps increase your ability to trust God
  • Fasting clears out toxins that can make you feel sluggish or depressed

Physical Benefits of Fasting

Some benefits to the physical body have been known to include: (9)

  • Fasting helps break addictions to sugar
  • Fasting supports the body’s detoxification
  • Fasting promotes healthy weight loss
  • Fasting promoted healthy energy levels
  • Fasting improves skin health
  • Fasting promotes healthy digestion and elimination
  • Fasting supports healthy inflammation response and promotes joint comfort
  • Fasting promotes healthy hormonal balance

As soon as I reached to turn off my alarm clock (aka, my raggedy phone) this morning, God spoke to me, “You are so focused on the little bit you can’t have that you don’t even see the abundance you still have or what you’ve gained.”

OH.  MY.  GOSH.

DO I REALLY NEED TO SAY MORE??

Y’all.  Just so you know, there was a 2-minute pause between that last sentence and this one because I am still over here like, wow.  Oh my goodness.  I’m sitting here stuck.  Whenever you take a stand for God, you will lose.  I can guarantee it.  There’s no maybe – you will.  And that is what keeps most people from standing.  They think about the possible loss of money, family, friends or – and this is the most common – the loss of the approval of others.  So we stay seated.  Or we only stand on one foot. That is going to be a devotional all by itself.  OR, we do take a stand…but then we mourn and pine over what we’ve lost.  That has been my state of mind for the past month.  I had not been able to shake it for nothing.  I’ve prayed and I even fasted, but nothing has helped me more than God’s words this morning.

“You are so focused on the little bit you can’t have that you don’t even see the abundance you still have or what you’ve gained.”

This is how the enemy of our souls gets us to balk at taking a stand or change our mind once we do.  He gets us to concentrate on the wrong thing.   I promise you, this little stuff we lose for the sake of the Kingdom ain’t nothing.  Oh, I feel like preaching this morning!!  Hebrews 12:2 reads, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Jesus lost his life, y’all.  I’d say that was something.  It was, but it was nothing – WHEW! – compared to what HE/we gained because of it.  For the joy….he endured…and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Loss compared to gain?  I’d say Jesus had a come-up.

Y’all just don’t know!!  This monkey of shame and regret has been riding my back for a month now.  I took a stand.  It was a stand I hesitated to take.  It was a stand I had to take.  For myself and for the Kingdom.  And God’s words to me this morning have just sent that monkey running back to the zoo of hell that it came from.  I could run through this house right now!  Let me encourage you this morning, peeps: stand.  If God is telling you to take a stand, STAND.  It may be for the Kingdom and then again, it may just be for you.  He does want you to stand up for yourself, you know.  Be real with yourself before you do and admit that, yes, you will lose something, but it will be nothing – and I mean nothing – compared to what you gain.  Or the abundance you have left.  Stand strong and be encouraged.  Find friends that encourage you.  And if it’s a stance you had to take by yourself, look to Scripture.  Flood your mind with verses that fortify your decision to stand.  I know God telling you to do something is actually enough, but sometimes you need to see a couple of Post-It notes stuck to your walls with verses on them.  Even if you have to edit Hebrew 12:2 and put your situation/name in it to encourage yourself, do it.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of MY faith, I, for the joy that was set before ME endured _____________, despising the shame (because I am NOT ashamed of the stand I took), WILL stand before the right hand of the throne of God…and I will hear ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant’.” – De-brew 1:1

–d.

 

Bible Study, Blog

An Acquired Taste.

This is the first installment of our new bible study series on the book of Daniel.

Good morning, peeps!

I hope you’ve prepped for this study by at least reading Chapter 1 of this book. If I were standing in front of you teaching this, I would read parts of it and then we’d work it out together. I guess I can do a copy/paste thing of the passages as I go along. I guess. Just a reminder: I am a KJV girl. As complex as that translation can be this early in the morning…who am I kidding?? That translation can be challenging at any time of the day, not just in the wee hours as you’re typing a blog to your peeps. So, as complex as that translation can be, it is what I was raised on so it is the most comfortable clear for me to use.

Aww, man! I can already see that this study is not going to go the way I thought it was. *sigh* Let us begin. Daniel 1:1-17 reads,

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.

2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
3 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

The children of Israel had been warned by earlier prophets that if they were not going to live according to God’s Will, He would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. This could be point 1 of our lesson, but I’m not going there just yet. I will say this, though: if you don’t allow God to rule in your life, He will overrule it. Yeah. Just veto everythang you’ve got going on. Your life IS your story, however: HE WROTE IT. I know I said I was not going to go there just yet, but I got vetoed. What’s that “if you want to make God laugh” saying? Oh, yeah: “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I wonder if He laughs the way I do when my children try to tell me that they are going to do something that I’m totally against. BWAAAHAAAHAAAHAAA! Whew! You think so, do you? Oh. Okay.

When I re-read these verses yesterday, I became incredibly hungry. I almost got up and cooked something. Almost. I had already eaten, but I was suddenly famished. Oh! Remember my post yesterday about being thirsty? Maaan! I was thirsty all day long! Oh my goodness! No joke. I have never drank so much water in one day. It was almost like God was trying to drive a point home. And, yes, I got the water myself. Back to what I was saying: I became incredibly hungry. Let’s revisit verses 5-8, 12-17:
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

I’ll break down our four boys later.

I am not much of a fad follower. That stuff comes and goes weekly, and I don’t feel like adjusting my life at that frequency. Especially when it comes to food. I don’t care what the latest fad is: if it means taking something off my plate, I ain’t doin’ it. I don’t care what y’all say. No sir, no ma’am. I am not going to name the different things my friends are trying right now because I don’t want to offend anyone, but I just don’t understand. Help me to understand. What’s wrong with calories from saturated fats, which are basically little cholesterol-filled globs of joy?? I don’t understand. On the real, I need my food to have calories and flavor. Have you heard of the Daniel Fast? So, here’s the deal. It is based off of two verses in the book of Daniel:

  • Daniel 1:12, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink.”
  • Daniel 10: 2-3, “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

I’m about to end today’s study. I know, I know. I’m foul, but here’s what’s up: I got vetoed. Y’all think I’m playing. I was just about to go in, but God shut me down. Y’all know how He does me…

stiffarmed

Just now. Like, just this instant God changed it up on me. This is what I want you to do. I want you to do exactly what I did when I looked up the Daniel Fast: I focused on what they said NOT to eat. This is truly what caught my eye first.

  • Iodized salt
  • Sweeteners
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Breads, pasta, flour, crackers (unless made from sprouted ancient grains)
  • Cookies and other baked goods
  • Oils
  • Juices
  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Gum
  • Mints
  • Candy

So, joy.  Now.  Hmm. This is why I have to stop here because I noticed something else before I closed the search tab: the list of what I could consume was much longer.

–d.

Bible Study, Blog, Spiritual Walk

Birthin

“He’s birthing an anointing.  He’s birthing an anointing.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.” – from “Something New” by The Clark Sisters

I woke up with this song. This usually comes to me whenever I’m particularly stressed about having a lot on my plate or being asked to do something while I’m “can’t you see I’m already” doing something.   It is always that one line on repeat: “He’s birthing an anointing.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  He’s birthing an anointing.”

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

It’s one thing to be pregnant.  It’s a whole ‘nother UGH when you’re pregnant and caring for an infant at the same time.  Alex and Shae are 12 months apart.  That was the Great Tribulation of ’97.  Do you know that Alex didn’t walk until the day after I had Shae?  I almost jumped out of the hospital bed when her cousin came in with her proclaiming, “Look who’s walking!”  Whaaat??!  You rode me for 9…oooohhh!!!  I don’t know why no one has made a documentary about my sufferings.   What’s the number to PBS?

Multitasking must be a spiritual gift.  It has to be.  The way I see it, if you can juggle several things at once without snapping people’s heads off – that’s God.

Here’s the deal: that’s how I feel right now.  As I’m just now getting my bearings on one thing, I’m feeling the movement (and possibly indigestion) from another thing I guess I’m being prepared for.  Y’all get my drift?   Here’s what I learned during GT97: I was built for it.  Now, there was nothing cute about not being able to put Alex on my hip because her legs couldn’t stretch across my belly or having to sit down to pick her up because I couldn’t see past my belly when I bent over.  It was hard and there were plenty of nights where both Alex and I were crying, but I did it and now I have two of the most amazing and beautiful women for daughters.  I was supposed to be Alex and Shae’s mama – I was built for it.  Everything I needed to care for a 4-month-old baby while being pregnant with another was there.

This is the place I am now.  I’m nurturing something new and God’s working something else new in my life.   I’m built for this.  And you are built for “this”.  If you’re believing this is the “year of  <insert your thing>”, get ready.  Some of your talents, gifts, and abilities are about to be engaged at the same time.  You may think, “One thing at a time, sweet Jesus!  That’s all I’m asking of You!”  If God’s giving it to you, He knows you can handle it.

This is not a “say yes to everything” post.  Not even close.  Use wisdom.  This is just my encouragement to you as you see the hand of God moving in your life.  Get ready.  It may hurt.  It may be a lot.  It may be a lot all at once.  It may even take some ninja maneuvering to make it happen.  No one said “birthin’” was easy…but you’re built for it.

Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.

Bible Study, Blog, Long Read, Uncategorized

Perfect People

I love printed tees.

No, really.  If you look in my closets, you will find the top shelves lined with stacks and stacks of printed tees in almost every color.  The sayings vary from the super corny, to inspirational and overtly sarcastic.  I think I’ve even collected a few related to fitness.  I don’t know how those got in there…must’ve been freebies.

Printed tees are a fun way to reveal your personality without saying a word – they make great first impressions.  Don’t believe me? (I know you do.  JUST LET ME MAKE MY ILLUSTRATION!)  Okay, let’s say someone is walking towards you and you notice that they have a large C with a baby bear on their shirt.  You’d think, “Ah.  That person is a Chicago Cubs fan.”  That would most likely be the case unless they were a St. Louis Cardinals fan who lost a bet.  If you don’t know a thing about baseball, you’ll probably think, “Yes, wise stranger, ‘cub’ does begin with the letter ‘C’.”  Speaking of those little birdies, what if you saw someone wearing a t-shirt that had a dead cardinal on it?  Well, if you were from Illinois, you might think, “Ah.  That person is a Cubs fan.”  You’re probably right.  Or not.  That person could be a fan of the Brewers or Pirates or Reds. Or they could be wearing a shirt whose sole purpose is to let everyone know that “cub” begins with the letter “C”.

I know, different shirt, but I didn’t have a snappy comeback for the dead bird one.

There’s a saying going around, we’ve all heard it, that you only get one chance to make a first impression.  That’s cool, but then again it can really bite…especially if that first impression is wrong.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to revisit a series I taught last year on Hebrews 11.  If you come from a traditional church community, you may have heard this chapter referred to as “The Hall of Faith”.  This book is chock-full of account after account of great men and women who did great acts of faith.  It is inspiring and intimidating at the same time.  On one hand, you read about the things people like Abraham, Noah, and Moses did and think, “Man!  If they could do that, I can do that too!”  On the other hand, you read about the things they and others accomplished and think, “Man.  Look at how awesome and great…and perfect they were.  I don’t even compare.  I can’t do that.”

It all depends on how you look at it.

If you hang with me for a while, we’ll dig into the deets behind a few of the characters from Hebrews 11.  I said that these were great men and women who did great acts of faith.  Well, that’s the impression I got when I first read this years ago.  That is wrong.  They are not great and men and women who did great acts of faith: they are men and women who had great faith and acted upon it.  Just real people. Messy people.  Really messy people.  No angels in this bunch.  See, you can’t always go with the first impression.

Join me for a bible study series entitled “Faith & Messy Humans” and together we’ll discover how walking in faith has nothing to do with how great you are.

Let’s dig in.

P.S. I added Peter.  BECAUSE I CAN.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“Let’s talk about Peter.  He’s not even mentioned in Hebrews 11 – I just threw him in because, well, I’m the teacher.  So, there.  You wanna talk about a “ride or die”??  This was the guy!  I want him on my team! He walked and talked with Jesus, cut folks for Jesus, said he would die for Jesus.  That’s love, bruh.  But when he was backed into a corner, he failed Jesus in a major way.  I can relate to this. Can you?  He may have failed big time…”