Living in Babylon

We’re beginning a new series this fall at Heights Church called “Living in Babylon.” As we are watching major cultural changes all around us, how do we stay deep in Christ? What are ways we can make adjustments and learn to bless our culture rather than curse the “fall of America?”

This podcast is an interview I did with Missy Hansen, a member of our church. She leads a community Bible study that is studying the Book of Daniel right now and while this interview is longer than my normal podcasts and it is well worth the listen. Take the time to soak this in and begin to process what is ahead for us as the Church in the United States.

Do NOT Quit

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Dan. 10:12-13)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Too many prayers are abandoned far too quickly. We do not know the war that may be going on in spiritual places where if we would just stay at it, victory would come.

The enemy has a vested interest in keeping you from prayer. He battles with discouragement, weakness, fatigue, doubt, and so much more. Anything to keep you from prayer. 

Do NOT quit. One more day. One more hour. You do NOT know… but if you quit, the results may be far too predictable: the answers may not come and the enemy robs the desire of prayer from yet another believer.

Persist in prayer. Heaven hears.

The people who know their God

I’ve been meditating on the thought of the Daniel Generation that started HERE.

The foundation to all of it is we must know God. If we do not truly know God, if we are not grounded in him, the American Church will head into a new “Dark Ages.” 

Not “America.” The American Church. 

As I have tried to prepare people for these huge shifts, my own life becomes exposed. My own spiritual state gets examined deeply by the Holy Spirit. It is needed. But here’s the thing: I’m found wanting. 

Three years ago I began a prayer journey that has radically altered my own life, ministry, and church. But now that we’re at the very threshold of something new and, quite honestly, powerful, I’m stalling.

I’ve stalled in prayer. I’ve stalled in fasting. I’ve stalled in communication. This is my confession.

In the very hour those areas need increase of effort on my part, I’ve stalled it out. Hear my prayer, O Lord. I am not ready for what is ahead… but your Spirit comes and challenges me! “You’re not ready… but you can be. You don’t need to stall out!”

We MUST know God. I must know God!

My prayer life can deepen again… and I know the way.

My discipline of fasting can return… and I know the way.

The Lord can communicate through me his precise vision for what is ahead… and I know the way.

Lord, hear my prayer. Forgive me of my laziness. Forgive me of my trepidation. It is time to step up. The people who know their God take action. We are at that day.

Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.

The Daniel Generation

In our day it’s important to realize we are bridging key cultural shifts. For those my age (somewhere north of 39, you know) it is key we pay attention.

This is a word I think the Lord dropped into my heart as I listened to a great preacher utilize the text from Daniel:

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. (Daniel 11:32)

As I was listening to the message, these seven thoughts came to my mind and I jotted them down:

  1. We will go through the fire.
  2. We may face the lions.
  3. We are called to discern the times.
  4. We are called to BLESS our enemies.
  5. We will not be loved, generally, by this culture.
  6. We must find our depth in God through fasting, prayer, and the Word.
  7. Know God, stand firm, and take action.

Let us live with power and anointing in these days!

It was all because of a diet?

We are beginning a series this Sunday I am calling “Allegiance.” It is a series on the life of Daniel and the three Hebrew friends. My goal is to reflect on the lives of people who lived in a truly hostile environment and still carved out their deep faith in God to not only “live for God” but… hold on to your seats here… bless the hostile culture in which they found themselves. 

Daniel 1 is up first and we will NOT be talking about nutrition!

How Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ended up with incredible wisdom wasn’t reflected in their nutrition package.

20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. (Dan. 1:20)

Let’s talk about what Daniel DID have that set him apart… and how that reflects in our present day.


Daniel’s Prayer of Confession

In this season, it’s not just about “our” sins (on a personal level), but OUR sins as a whole.

When Daniel gave confession for Israel, he didn’t lay it on those who had gone before. He had done nothing wrong in his life to personally bring Israel into captivity, but in this prayer, he inserts himself into the confession. Note how many times he uses “WE.”

In our confessions, we don’t need to blame the other person or group. We need to genuinely realize it’s US… together… that need prayer.

4 As I prayed to the Lord my God, I made this confession:

Please, my Lord—you are the great and awesome God, the one who keeps the covenant, and truly faithful to all who love him and keep his commands: 5 We have sinned and done wrong. We have brought guilt on ourselves and rebelled, ignoring your commands and your laws. 6 We haven’t listened to your servants, the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our parents, and to all the land’s people. 7 Righteousness belongs to you, my Lord! But we are ashamed this day—we, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all Israel whether near or far, in whatever country where you’ve driven them because of their unfaithfulness when they broke faith with you.8 Lord, we are ashamed—we, our kings, our leaders, and our parents who sinned against you. 9 Compassion and deep forgiveness belong to my Lord, our God, because we rebelled against him. 10 We didn’t listen to the voice of the Lordour God by following the teachings he gave us through his servants, the prophets. (Dan. 9:4-10)

It’s so easy for us to pray, “Lord, forgive us (but what I really mean is that group over there)…”

Today… let’s pray with Daniel.

Blessing Those With Whom We Disagree

I butchered that title somehow, so I can’t wait to have the English major jump in and correct me. 😉

The series I have been preaching on Daniel has been incredibly challenging. The continuing thought through this whole study has been how to live in blessing toward those who are “enemies.”

Walter Brueggemann preached a message on Daniel a few years ago and mentioned the attitude of Daniel in aiding Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4 the king had a dream that meant he would fall into insanity for a period of time. Rather than rejoice over the plight of his enemy, Daniel mourned over the interpretation and begged Nebuchadnezzar to take a way out. Daniel had a deep care for the man who brought down his nation.

The way we hear people throw around sarcasm and rhetoric today, you would think we’re all out for the demise of anyone who disagrees with us. I can understand that in the world, especially in the world of politics. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

But when it comes to the church, we’re just as nasty at times. We disagree horribly with each other, then there are certainly streams of Christian ideologies that seem to wish for the death of the “wicked”, etc.

This journey through Daniel challenges me. Am I looking to bless those with whom I disagree? Do I honestly pray for God’s best in their lives?

There can be disagreements all day long with whoever is president. But the level of nastiness seems a bit shameful. When George Bush was president I would listen to “liberal” Christians wish vile things on the man. I listen to “conservative” Christians do the same thing to Barack Obama. When we don’t like someone, we really don’t like someone!

We need a Daniel generation that will understand WHO they are in Christ, be unafraid to take those stands, but also live in blessing to those around them… even those with whom they may disagree.