A Jewel

A number of years ago I accepted a position in a government office. As the “newbe” in the office it was my job to answer the phone, direct calls, take messages, and open the mail. A lady who had been around for a while had a private office near my work station. She held a position that was six pay grades above mine! She often had to bring back the documents I typed for her with my mistakes noted. In those days mistakes were not easily erased. One had to use “white out” and line up the document perfectly before typing over the mistake. Never-the-less my co-worker was always forgiving of my mistakes. She told me, “God will help you!”

It wasn’t long before I was attending a noon Bible study in my friend’s office. We ladies came out of her office energized for the afternoon’s work. My friend herself always had an abundance of energy.  She often emerging from her office singing and even danced a few steps. 

As we got to know this lady, we discovered that in spite of her positive demeanor she had trials in her life. One of them was that my friend was a “spirit-filled” Christian who had a prayer language.  However, in the church where she worshiped she was forbidden to ever talk about such things. She asked all of us to pray for openings in her situation.

One night my friend was awakened by a sense of urgency. She felt she must go to the emergency room of our local hospital. Upon arriving, she discovered much to her surprise, her pastor and her pastor’s wife. The woman was weeping. Their daughter had just been involved in an auto accident and was not expected to live. My friend prayed for healing for the girl and for strength for her parents before she returned to her home.

A few days later the daughter was released from the hospital. She was on the way to complete recovery!  This was remarkable, but only the beginning. My friend’s pastor and his wife were profoundly impressed with my friend’s unexpected appearance at the hospital in the middle of the night and with the efficacy of her prayers. They too were filled with the Holy Spirit. And, you guessed it, so eventually was my friend’s entire church! 

God had used my friend in a remarkable way. Not only did she change her pastor’s family, and her church. She also had a huge impact on my life. What an amazing ability to hear from God! What wonderful prayers of faith! She was a true “jewel” which is not surprising since her name was “Jewel”.  Jewel was a precious creation of our Father God:  a beautiful example of a woman of color, a black diamond!  She was a vessel of honor, fit for the Master’s use!

Feeling Special!

All of us at times long to stand out in some way.  How can we feel good about ourselves if we are just a part of the masses.  We feel lonely and insecure.  We strive for attention.  All this is because we are trying to fill our deepest human need:  the need for love.

John, who wrote the Gospel of John and three letters (epistles), identified himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved!   At first glance this may seem egotistical.  How could he dare make this assumption?  In the gospel that John wrote there are many references to God’s love and Jesus’ love.  John clearly highly valued love!

I am certain that John was keenly aware that God (and therefore Jesus) loved all who belonged to Him equally and unconditionally.  Why then would John make such an assertion?  Let’s think of some of the ways that John could not refer to himself.  He could not claim to be the most outspoken disciple.  That was Peter.  He could not claim to be the most prolific writer. That was Paul.  He could not claim to be the disciple who was without deceit.  That was Nathanael. 

John choose to identify himself in a way that is available to all Jesus’ followers today:  the disciple who Jesus loved.  What a wonderful option for all of us to take our feelings of self-worth from the immutable fact that God loves us!  This is valuable because: (a) This is an unshakeable truth.  No one can challenge this identity.  (b) This gives us an increased awareness of what Jesus has done for us and provided for us.  Our identity is based not on what we do or our accomplishments but on what He has already done for us. 

Right now I am feeling special.  I am loved by my God!

Now there was leaning on Jesus bosom one of the disciples whom Jesus loved. 

John 13:23 NKJV

When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman behold your son!”  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother” and from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.  John 19:26,27 NKJV

Storms of Promise

When we look at those towering cumulus clouds that promise to develop into thunderheads, we have learned to expect a storm.  Those cumulonimbus clouds produce hail, thunder, lightning, and needed moisture.  We look at them with anticipation.  Likewise, we can have the same view of the storms in our lives: 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Heb. 12:11 NIV

My own experience is that even though I had invited Jesus to enter my life, over time I lost the reality of His Presence.  While I had experienced fear and disbelief, these bondages were mostly hidden.  Outwardly, at least, I appeared to be living a successful, peaceful Christian life.  Then the attacks of the Enemy (the result of childhood abuse) came.  Because I was a self-focused, performance-driven individual, I began to focus on the embarrassing attacks of the Enemy and my resulting failures instead of God and His Word.  I tried everything including prayer to get rid of these attacks apparently to no avail.  My heart had become hardened; I had become cold in my love for Him; and my belief had changed to disbelief and mental assent.  As I experienced these attacks of the Enemy, I no longer had the faith to effectively fight them. 

However, I also began to experience God’s grace: His unmerited love in my times of wrestling with sin.  God still loved me!  It was this knowledge of His love as expressed through many in my church that ultimately led to my deliverance and the freedom that I am now beginning to enjoy.  I am learning that He can indeed “make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)   The result is that these difficult years are now special because they were instrumental in my drawing closer to Him.

Right now it may seem to some that we are going through a storm of unusual proportions.  The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives.  Some have lost jobs and income.  Others have had the burden of home schooling their children while trying to work from home themselves.  First responders have been exposed to extremely difficult circumstances.  Still others have suffered the ravages of the disease itself.

Many may ask, “Where is God in all this?  I thought He was a good God.”   The Bible seems to indicate that while God clearly does not bring bad things, He does use them to draw us closer to Him and to develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives as the verses included with this article suggest.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV

we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5 NIV

The highlighted words in these verses identify those desirable qualities produced in us by testing and storms.  Our attitude when storms like the present pandemic come, can be one of anticipation and joy.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28  NIV

Of Course, He will…

Justin paced back and forth in the living room.  “Where is Uncle Chris?  He promised to loan us his truck so we could move your piano to your mother’s house this afternoon.  She needs it for the entertainment for her party tonight.  He knows your mom needs it by three pm.  We should have loaded it up by now.  Where is he?”

Cindy smiled.  “Oh, you can depend on Uncle Chris.  Of course, He will keep his promise.  He always keeps his word.”

Justin moaned.  “I remember when we asked to borrow his truck last summer.  Something came up at the last minute, and he had to use his truck for something else.”

“Yes,” chimed in Cindy.  “And he rented a moving van complete with movers and sent it over.  They got the job done in record time.  I know Uncle Chris.  You can absolutely depend on him.”

Justin flopped down in his favorite chair.  “Well, he certainly blew it this time!  He is thirty minutes late.  We will be bringing that piano into your mom’s house in the middle of her party.  I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him.”

Just then Cindy’s phone rang.  “Why, hello, Mom.  I am sorry about the piano…What’s that?  Uncle Chris is there now unloading a couple of keyboards and a guitar!” 

Cindy’s mom continued the phone conversation:  “He says he rented them from the music store in town.  They will work perfectly for my party.  No, we don’t need your piano now.” 

Cindy hung up the phone and turned to Justin:  “Ha!  Didn’t I tell you that you can always count on Uncle Chris?  He is always true to his Word.”

Justin looked at his wife in amazement, “How are you able to put so much faith in Uncle Chris and his promises.”

Cindy smiled.  “It’s because I know him.  I have a relationship with him.  I love him and I know that he loves me and always wants the best for me.”

*******

This is the way that it works in our relationship with our Father God.  As we get to know Him, we begin to realize that He is always faithful–“God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful”   (I Thes 5:24 NLT)  Even when it seems like the promise has failed in the given time frame, God has another plan “up his sleeve” to fulfill the promise in some unforeseen way.  “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”  (Rom 11:33 NLT) 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11 NLT)

When someone asks us during this pandemic, “Will God meet the financial needs of my family?”  we can answer with absolute confidence, “Of, course He will.”

When we are asked, “Will God restore my job?”

We can answer “I don’t know exactly what plans God has for you, but I do know this:  they good plans, only good!”

And when someone complains about being lonely, we can assure them that God is there with them eager to personally supply their needs for companionship, and He may even use us in the process.

We can always depend on our Father God.  He is always true to His Word.

Will God answer our prayers?  Of Course, He will…

Seek first…

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be yours as well. Matt. 6:33  NIV

In this time of the pandemic, we all are faced with new challenges, new issues.  Some of us have lost our jobs or our jobs have been put on hold.  Some have lost relatives and friends to the virus.  Others of us are having to learn to adapt to new work conditions, and/or a new family life where all members of the household are confined to a relatively small space for a prolonged period of time.  Still others may have new health challenges to confront.  It is very easy for all of us to focus on these negative issues.  We become preoccupied with our problems.  We desperately want them to change.

However, this is not the way to receive in God’s economy.  Those of us who have given our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, now belong to God’s kingdom, God’s family, God’s domain.  We now operate under different rules.  While we still need to be subject to those in authority over us in the natural realm, in the spiritual sense we answer to our Father God.

What does He expect from us in these times?  To answer that question, we need to ask another question.  “Why are we here?”  God has created each of us for Himself.  God has given His only Son, Jesus, to die for each of us.  We, as individuals, are special to God.  He knows that the path that leads toward Him is not only the best path for each of us but also the path for which we were designed.  This path includes spending time with Him, learning more about Him, and becoming involved in His kingdom work on our planet.   

God knows that the things of this earth can distract us from our all-important relationships with Him.  When we think that we have everything that we need in the material sense, or in the relational sense, our hearts can grow cold toward Him.  We become self-sufficient and self-focused.  (I am speaking from experience.)  God then may gently remove those things that hinder our relationship with Him, in order to encourage us to turn our eyes back on Him. 

Matthew 6:33 admonishes us to seek Him first!  When we turn our focus on Him rather than on our problems, our faith returns.  Our expectation begins to be in our Father in Heaven rather than in our own circumstances, our employer, our mate, our teacher.  We no longer need to focus on pleasing them since we recognize that they are not our source.  (I am preaching to myself here!)  God has unlimited ways of supplying our needs for food, for shelter, for loving relationships, for personal fulfillment.  When He is in first place in our hearts and lives, something unexpected can happen.  He can fulfill our needs in ways that we never imagined!  What an exciting prospect!!

On the other hand, if we focus on the lack–on our current difficult circumstances, our faith wanes, our worries increase, our state of contentment is demolished, and our relationship with God grows cold.  God’s plan–His order for our lives is:  God first, the needs of others second, our needs last!

In his third epistle John, the apostle, writes in verse two:  Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.  (TPT) When we have drawn close to Him, when our souls are prospering, all that we need to accomplish the purpose for which He created us will be manifested in our lives.

I believe that does not necessarily mean that we spend hours in His Word, and in prayer, although these are extremely beneficial.  Instead, I believe that we can develop a “God-Consciousness” as we go about the work of our daily lives.  We can develop an attitude of gratitude, of constant expectation.  When our focus has been returned to Him, when our Lord once again occupies first place in our lives, we are in the position where He can pour out His blessings on us.  Let’s get into position with Him!

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry…  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Matt. 6:33 (The Message)

Good Intentions, but Undesirable Results!

ThDiscipline that's attachment friendly for children and their parentsere is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8,9

Often we can have the very best of intentions and sincerely desire to do what is right, but without the wisdom of God, we can completely miss the mark.  This thought is well illustrated by the efforts of my mother.  A young mother, she was determined to do the very best job possible raising me, her first child.  As soon as I was born, she put me on a feeding schedule (that was common in those days).  She bottle-fed me every four hours, changed my diaper and put me back down in my crib.  She was careful NOT to ever pick me up unless it was time to do so on the schedule.  The hope was that I would not turn out to be a spoiled brat.

As I grew older both my father and mother avoided ever disciplining me by hitting or spanking me.  Instead when I misbehaved, they locked me in a dark room, or set me on the edge of an overhanging cliff while sitting behind me to make certain I did not fall.  When we misbehaved in the car, our parents put us out of the car and drove off without us.  They returned to pick us up only after making certain that these incidents would be remembered by us, the children, and we would not repeat the behavior that had led to the punishment.

This type of punishment resulted in a huge fear of abandonment in me that I have struggled with in these last days of my life.  Subconsciously, I have felt that I had to do everything exactly right or my parents would withdraw their love from me, and I would be left somewhere that I did not want to be.

Because I developed an eating disorder in my preschool years, my mother got help for me.  The counselor she chose (probably the only one available in my small home town) was a psychic.  Since my mother was religious, but not a Christian, she saw nothing wrong with this plan of action.

Now as I consider these actions of my mother on my behalf, I see how well-intentioned my mother was.  She only wanted the very best for me.  She wanted to be the best possible parent.  But without God’s help, the actions that she took were ill-advised, and did not bring about the behavior that she hoped would result.

I do not blame my mother for any of this, but instead realize how very important it is for us to have the Lord Jesus in our lives in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Only He has the wisdom and guidance that we need to maneuver through the mine fields of parenting and of life.  My mother had not been exposed to the gospel.  Later in life, she did hear the “good news” and immediately received Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

How many homes across our world are negatively impacted because the parents have never heard that there is a God who loves them and who wants to guide them in the best practices of child rearing?  How many children, raised in such godless homes, have their entire lives negatively impacted by faulty parenting?

The good news is that no situation is too difficult for God.  When we invite the Lord Jesus into our hearts and lives, we are brought into His family, and God becomes our perfect Father.   He can take the most severely psychologically-damaged of us and change us into faultless brothers and sisters of Christ.  I know because He is doing that for me!

Freedom from Falling and Failing

Talus rock on a mountain slope

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind’s feet and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. Habakkuk 3:19

Years ago two girl friends and I decided to climb Bald Mountain near Breckenridge.  I was living in the mountain town of Silverthorne at the time.  We choose this mountain because it had a jeep road up to the TV antenna.  From there it was only about 1,000 feet to the ridge line of the 13,000 foot mountain, that would provide marvelous views of the town below and also of all of South Park.  I drove our 4-wheel drive Ford Bronco up the jeep road, and we reached the antenna without difficultly. The thousand-foot assent to the ridge line offered few problems.

Making good time, we reached the ridge line around 9 am and walked carefully along the mountain top.  The ridge line was covered with lots of loose rock.  At times it widened to a few yards across, but most of the time it was so narrow that we had to walk single file. Sloping downward on each side was a steep rocky slope also covered with loose rock. Occasionally, we would kick a rock that tumbled down.  We would watch the rock tumble more than one thousand feet.

We reached the south end of the ridge line around 11:30 and were preparing to eat our lunch when we heard a clap of thunder.  Was the storm headed in our direction?  A second, much louder, clap assured us that we were in danger.

Quickly we packed up our lunch and headed down a grassy slope to the east.  We were about half way down, running in pouring rain, when it occurred to me that we had to get home by way of my Bronco that was parked somewhere above us.  I had no idea how to find the Bronco’s location from the east side of the mountain.  Leaving the other two girls, I started off climbing the side of the increasingly-steep slope.  I needed to get high enough that I could see the vehicle.

The higher I went on the side of this mountain, the more difficult the climb became.  Soon I was lying on the side of the mountain, reaching up with my hands to find rocks that would bear my weight so that I could pull myself up.  The only problem was that I was not finding any rocks that supported me.  Instead they pulled loose and rolled down the slope narrowly missing collisions with my legs and feet.  The rain was loosening the rocks.  What could I do?

That is when I began to pray.  Perhaps prompted by the verse above, my faith that God could get me out of this mess increased.  As I prayed, my feet began to find sure footing that would not give way with my weight.  Each of these outcrops supported my weight and allowed me to climb higher until I once again reached the ridge line and was able to see my vehicle.

To make a long story short, the other two girls also made it off the mountain safely although they choose different routes. God heard my prayer and saved our lives.

A more recent verse that is impacting me this week is: [He] who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory…Jude 24

I see in this reference that my Jesus who once kept me from falling on the side of a mountain can keep me from falling spiritually today.  Even though I may choose some rocks that fall and threaten my footing, my Jesus will ultimately keep me from falling and will one day present me faultless before the Father!!!!

A Lost Sheep Comes Home

Nick scuffled along the darkened street.  He gave a discarded pop can a vicious kick.  His hours at work were being cut again.  He was already having difficulty paying his rent.  What would he do?  What could he do?  And what was the purpose anyway?

Nick cursed to express his frustration.  “What is the _____ use of even trying?  Why am I even on this _______ Earth?”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Nick had graduated from college with honors years ago, but the technology in his area of expertise had changed rapidly.   Soon he was having to compete in the job market with younger, more skilled applicants.  He had taken classes, of course, but there was nothing that he could do about his age.  Some employers were required to pay him for his years of experience, which meant that he was forced to compete with applicants who had less experience and would require a lower salary but had more tec savy than Nick.  Now, at 57, Nick was employed as a custodian and was barely able to make ends meet.  And his hours had been cut!  “What was the use?  Why continue in this rotten life?”

Suddenly, a door opened about half a block up the street.  A beam of light emerged lighting the way for several people to enter the building.  Curious, Max found his way to the open doorway and looked in.  A church!  People were gathering for a Saturday night service.  Max entered and took a seat near the back of the room.

The worship service had begun.  Immediately Nick felt the warmth of love permeate the building.  It was obvious that these people loved God and that He loved them.  Nick remained seated and slumped over, but he let the love envelope his being.  He was so hungry for love.

The pastor began his message with a passage from Luke 15. 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

The pastor continued to address the congregation:  “You may wonder why you are here this evening.  Let me assure you that you are here because God has drawn you here.  You, like the lost sheep, have wandered away from God.  You are struggling to live on your own in the wilderness of sin.  Tonight God has left the ninety-nine to go after you.  He wants you safe in His flock.  Will you acknowledge your sin of trying to live life on your own, and surrender to His love?  He wants to tenderly care for you.”

Nick raised his hand and prayed the heartfelt prayer with the pastor.  Immediately he felt peace, joy, and love engulf his very being.  When he rose from his chair, he truly felt like a new person.  He walked out of the building with the others.  When he reached the street, he raised his fist in the air, gave a “whoop” of victory and did a little dance with his feet.  He was loved by God, Himself!  Of that he was certain.  He didn’t know what the future held, but he know Who held the future.

Love for Unlovely Leann

Leann opened the garage door.  As she had expected, her husband, Roy, was in the garage tinkering with his race car again.  “Can you help me move the sofa,” she called.  “I need to vacuum behind it.”

“Just a moment.  I am almost finished here,” came Roy’s response.

Leanne was still waiting a half an hour later, so she left the vacuum where it was in the living room and went to the kitchen to fix super.  “All he ever thinks about is that car,” she muttered.  “It’s like he’s married to it!  I feel like I am nobody to him.  I feel like Leah in the Old Testament.  Jacob loved his other wife, Rachael, instead of her.  I need love!  I want to be true to my husband, but where can I find the love that I need to feel like my life matters?”  She half prayed, half cried aloud the question.

When Roy finally came in, Leann gave him her usual tongue-lashing, then each sulked until time for bed.  Roy was engaged in his own thoughts:  “She thinks that I don’t love her.  Well, truth be told, maybe I don’t.  Look at her!  What’s to love?   She is still in her sweats.  Her hair looks like she combed it only once this week.  The food she fixes is just a bland as she is.  She ought to be thankful that I haven’t left her.  A guy has to have a little excitement in life.  She is lucky that I have my beautiful, shiny red car.”

A few nights later Leann had a dream.  In the dream she was approaching a man, walking slowly toward him.  Music was playing in the background.  As she got closer she recognized the man.  It was Jesus, but not the Jesus she had seen in the paintings.  This Jesus had closely trimmed hair and beard, and was wearing a modern-day tux.  She realized then that she was wearing a lovely bridal gown.  She was getting married!  And the groom was Jesus!  As she continued to slowly approach Him she saw that He was looking right at her, and He was smiling.  His hands were extended toward her.  But it was His eyes that drew her most!  They were filled with compassion and love!  His gaze seemed to engulf her, to overwhelm her.  It was like nothing she had ever experienced!  Then Leann woke up!

She sat on her bed for a long time, head in her hands, trying to relive every precious moment of her dream.  “Yes,” she thought.  “I am a part of the Bride of Christ.  I have asked Jesus into my heart.  He is my Savior and He is my Lord.   But never before have I experienced His love as I have done in this dream–a life changing experience.  I am loved!  I am not just loved, I am deeply loved by Jesus who is with me all the time even when Roy is in the garage.”

She opened her Bible and her eyes fell on the passage in Colossians 2:10.   “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  Wow!  She thought and checked some other translations:  “When you have Jesus, you have everything that you need!”  She jumped up and did a little dance.  “I don’t have to change Roy.   He doesn’t have to be my source of love.  I have Jesus.”  She danced around a bit more.

Leann dressed carefully and fixed her hair in an attractive manner.  She went about her day with a new enthusiasm and joy.  She was loved!  She was loved by none other than the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!  She was loved!  She was loved!  On line she found a new dish that was simple to prepare and had it steaming on the stove when Roy came home.

Roy noticed the difference immediately.  “Wow!  Leann looks radiant!  She’s beautiful!”   He went over, lifted the lid on the pot, and took a deep breath.  “This smells delicious!”  I can’t wait to taste it.  I guess my car will have to wait tonight!”  He took Leann in his arms and gently kissed her.

Dare to be a Daniel

Image result for picture of a teen praying in his roomDaniel, age 16, and his sister, Sarah, age 10, sat on the first bench in the court room.  This was the day they had both dreaded and eagerly anticipated.  Today they would be adopted.  It had been more than two months since that horrific day when both parents had been killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck.  Both children had been left at a friend’s house while their parents shopped for Christmas presents.  Their parents never returned leaving them without parents, grandparents or any close relatives.  They were truly alone in the world.

Sarah had been quickly placed with a family that had a girl close to her age.  She was excited about the prospect of having a sister for the first time but Daniel, because of his age, had been harder to place.  Finally, a childless, professional couple had come forward.  They had agreed to adopt him because he was a good student and a football player.

Sarah and Daniel quickly embraced and promised to write, then tearfully parted.  As they drove toward Daniel’s new home, his new parents laid out their expectations:  “We expect you to keep your grades up.  We expect you to excel in athletics no matter what it takes, get high ACT scores, etc. etc.  We are willing to keep you until you are ready for college but we are not going to devote any of the family finances toward your college education.  That education, you must get through academic and athletic scholarships and student loans.  We expect you to be a credit to the family name.  We are both lawyers with lucrative practices.”

“What about God,” Daniel asked.  Do you folks believe in God?  Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?”

Daniel’s mother had answered after an awkward pause.  “You may keep your beliefs as long as they do not interfere with your performance.”

The next few months found Daniel doing well in his new school although he was nowhere near the top of his class.  His new father had suggested that he find a copy of last year’s ACT test so that he could study before taking it.  Daniel’s real struggle was in football.  He was not nearly as big or as strong as some of his teammates so he seldom got to play on the junior varsity team.

One day his dad came to him with steroids that he had gotten from a physician.  He insisted that Daniel begin to take these to improve his strength.  Daniel knew that this was wrong.  “Give me another month.  If I don’t get on the first string, I will give them a try.”

Later Daniel’s new mom joined his dad in front of the TV.  “Daniel is up in his room listening to that Christian music again.  He is probably praying in there.  I heard him tell his new friend that he was praying that he would get to play in the next game.  Do you think we should have a talk with him.  This religion stuff could cause him to be less competitive and miss his chance.  We have learned when you see an opportunity you have to go for it regardless of others who may be in your way.”

“No.  Let him alone for a little while.  He will soon see that that religion stuff doesn’t work.  It just isn’t practical in real life.”

His new parents were right about one thing.  Daniel was praying, and he was not only asking God for help with his classes and sports.  He was praying for his new parents:  “Show them the truth, Lord!”

It was at the Friday night game two weeks later that the breakthrough came for Daniel.  The team’s kicker twisted his ankle on the first field goal attempt.  Daniel was put in the game as his substitute for the extra point conversion after a touchdown.  He prayed as was his custom as he walked on the field.  His kick went straight between the goal posts!  His next two attempts to score points for the team were also successful.  When the game was over, his team had won by five points (one field goal and two extra point conversions after touchdowns, the points that Daniel had made for the team.)  The team carried Daniel off the field.

When Daniel showed up at home after the game his mom met him at the door with a letter addressed to Daniel that she had opened reporting an ACT score in the 90th percentile!   His mom said, “Daniel, Dad and I have been thinking that we would like to go to church as a family.  Do you know a good church that we could attend?”

In all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined [Daniel] he found [him] ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.  Thus, Daniel continued   [in the king’s service].  Daniel 1:20,21