Here's a Daniel and the lion's den coloring sheet. Enjoy! :D

Catchin’ Feelings: A Man Named Daniel

I’ve been in a love affair with a guy named Daniel for years. He’s accompanied me to church, bible study, Sunday school, and small groups. He’s been my shoulder to cry on when life’s kitchen had the heat on hell and reminded me that there was always a “fourth man” standing in the “furnace” with me. It was his life’s story that reminded me that even in the mouth of the lion, God will save me, redeem me, and elevate me.

All of his heroic stories shaped who I am. I believed what every preacher has ever said about him and I never questioned whether or not the miraculous things that occurred in the book of Daniel were really legit.

Today, I found out that they were not — they’re fictional.

Yep. Fictional, fake, made up, fabricated, imagined.

I sat in the lobby of Candler this morning with my mouth agape and my heart tormented.

“What do you mean, book of historical commentary on Daniel, that the stories of heroism that I’ve held so dearly is fictional?” I asked myself.

I flipped through my bible’s commentary to find some kind of solace, some explanation that would solve this crisis: how could these stories I’ve held on to for so long be fictional? How could something that mattered so much be historically and literally inaccurate?

I took to Facebook and threatened to jump off a classroom table if I had to really accept the idea that the stories in Daniel chapters 1-6 were fictional (Chapters 7-12 are considered Apocalyptic Literature and requires its own discussion!) My embedded theology had been challenged, and though it wasn’t the first time, it surely hit me like a ton of bricks.

I got a little pushback from friends and associates on Facebook, of course.

The entire bible is made up!”

“Today, it feels like I just learned Santa isn’t real. Why even teach it?”

Another said, “What is the point of seminary? To teach you that the Bible is farcical?”

I had to figure out what was making this break up with Daniel’s heroic stories so tough and where I would go from here — as a seminarian and as a Christian.

The running joke with many seminarians and their friends/families/church community is that seminary admits a Christian and graduates an atheist. “You lose your Jesus in there!”, they say. We gain insight to the historical and literal contexts, so much so, that in some way, what was once an infallible now becomes… questionable.

What, then, do we do? I came to this conclusion (because losing my Jesus ain’t an option) — whether the stories are factual or not does not matter.

The truth remains: God’s sovereignty, power, and desire to have relationship with us is a consistent, irrevocable force.

When we read scripture, we have to learn to separate the facts from the truth. The fact of the matter is, the stories told in Daniel chapters 1-6 may not have happened. Historians don’t even know who authored the book and, as the stories of Daniel take its course, there are some quirky things happening within those aforementioned chapter (like the text switching from Hebrew to Aramaic then back to Hebrew).

The truth is, however, that God’s power is real, that He will go to great lengths to save His (or Her) people, and that no matter where we are and under what circumstances, we can rest in the fact that God is there to save us. Through Daniel, we learn how to live/act in a world that may expect us to live contrary to what our God tells us to do — be and remain faithful to Yahweh is a key theme of the book.

Someone asked me, “If some of the stories in the bible aren’t factual, then what’s the proof that God can do anything at all?”

That, my friends, is a personal thing — what YOU believe God can do based on what you’ve read and understand is your own personal discernment. Knowing the history behind the story doesn’t change what I believe about God; if anything, it enhances it.

It helps me to see God in a new way; it complicates yet simplifies, narrows yet expands, empties yet fills.

In a lot of ways, I feel like knowing that sometimes the story and even the characters are totally made up moves our loving affections away from these biblical personas and to the one who really matters: God.

I know it won’t be the last time that I read something in scripture that really challenges what I’ve thought to be true (I’ll write about my disappointment in Job and my tears shed over Genesis in another post) and it is this level of questioning and critical thinking that I hope will help make me into a really awesome minister/writer/pop culture commentator/praise and worship leader/dancing machine.

I’m still working on what to do with these feelings about my man Daniel; like any love affair gone awry it takes a minute to settle into things. I am glad, however, that God walks us through this process of getting over what doesn’t matter and getting to the root of what does.

On the Chase,

Alisha L.

Here's a Daniel and the lion's den coloring sheet. Enjoy! :D

Here’s a Daniel and the lion’s den coloring sheet. Enjoy! 😀

Sometimes.

Just a quick post about “sometimes.”

Many times we go before God praying, fasting, interceding for particular things.

When we get our answer, if we are brave enough, we’ll go forward in obedience to what He’s told us to do.

We give God a lip-quivering “yes”.

Then, as we go forward, we hit a road block. Something doesn’t work out right. Someone doesn’t do their part. Some glitch in the matrix keeps us from doing what He’s told us to do.

Sometimes we’re confused, perplexed, wondering “did I really hear God correctly? Maybe I was wrong?”

Sometimes we begin questioning God, thinking that maybe He’s changed His mind about the original plan.

Or maybe, just maybe, that “sometimes” was just an opportunity for God to prove us out. Continue reading

A Desperate God Part Deux

Last week, I wrote about God’s desperation to have a relationship with us on this blog and the Huffington Post.

As I read I Samuel for my Old Testament class, I’m seeing this recurring theme of God wanting to stay in relationship with us, even when we don’t want the relationship with Him. In I Samuel 9, the Israelites have a hissy fit about not having a king. Though they’ve been led by the spirit of God through the wilderness, through intercessors like Moses and judges like Deborah, the Israelites wanted to be like the nations around them and have a monarchy.

After all their pleading and begging, God finally gave it to them. Having a king, however, would come with a cost.

“‘…appoint for us, then, a king to govern us like other nations,” Israel cried. Samuel prayed to the Lord and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them… you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’” I Samuel 8:4-9 NSRV (paraphrased)

As we all know, Saul was appointed king over Israel and he got caught up in all kinds of mess, but what I’d like to point out is God’s heart toward the Israelites in I Samuel 9. Even though God didn’t want Israel to rule under a king, and even though He let them have their desires, He still took ownership of them. Speaking of Saul to Samuel, God says, “[Saul] shall save my people… he it is who shall rule over my people.” God still takes ownership of Israel even though they didn’t want Him. They still belonged to Him in spite of a natural ruler being in place. He still wanted to have them as His own in spite of that same love and commitment not being reciprocated.

Wow.

How this speaks to our own desires that may pull us away from God! Even while we fight to have what we think we should (and God forbid He lets us actually have it!) He’s still wanting us, desiring us, hoping that we’ll choose Him over this world and what the world says we should have.

This makes me want to break myself even further for Him — let loose of what I think should be and take hold of His heart and hand. Having those two things is what matters most.

So how can we shift our hearts towards God’s desires over our own?  I think it’s time we try to reciprocate His love back to Him. Though we’ll turn to dust before we could even give back one thousandth of His love for us, knowing that we are putting His desires before our own can only result in a life full of peace and contentment.

On the Chase,

Alisha L.

Talk that Talk, Honey!

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Romans 4:17

(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

We have to be mindful of the WORDS that come out of our mouths. God says that we have the power to speak those things into existence that are not as if they were! Want an increase in business, say it as if it’s already happened! “I have more clients than I can handle.” Looking for a new job, say it as if it’s already happened! “I have a job that meets my every need.” Want God to give you the desires of your heart, say it as if it’s already happened! “God has given me everything I could ever want.”

God used His words to shape this world into existence. If we’re made in His image, why would it be any different?

We have power through our words and must speak God’s truth even when we SEE (with our natural eyes) something different. It’s imperative that you realize how you must trick yourself to get your mind (reality) to catch up with truth (God’s reality).

The other day, I went to a friends house because she spent the night in the ER after having a migraine attack. She needed someone to come over and pick up her prescriptions to get them filled. When I walked into her house, almost immediately my head started hurting, I began seeing stars, all signs of a migraine coming on. Out of my mouth I said to myself, “Devil you are a liar. I do NOT have a migraine.” Almost immediately the stars went away and the pain stopped. It was amazing. God reminded me that I can have anything I want — anything that’s entitled to me as a believer, if I simply speak it.

Be cognizant and aware of your words today, tomorrow, and forever. It is through your words that you shape the course of your life!

On the Chase,

Alisha L.

No Frills, No Thrills.

Not much frill, excitement, or lyrical genius in this post. Just pure, unadulterated teaching. Ready? Read.

In my quest to learn more about God and myself during this time in my life, I’ve knocked myself in the head with a brick a few times. What I thought to be patience really wasn’t. What I believed to be faith wasn’t even close.

After earning another knot on my head for being impatient, I really wanted to get an understanding on what it meant to believe in, trust in, and have patience in God. I did a “plop and flop” (when I just plop the bible down and flop the pages open to an arbitrary place) and landed on Psalm 131. My bible gave a cross-reference to Psalm 62.

Now I’m going to break down some key words in these verses so if you’re ready to learn what I learned, pay attention.  Continue reading

Wayment.

In the quiet crevices of my social circle, my girls have a way of saying the phrase “wait a minute”.

Sounds like “wayment”.

Anyway.

Today I learned something about waiting.

Many times we get tired of this invisible force field that requires us to wait things out. I am a naturally impatient person, so having to wait for others to do things…well, usually results in me doing them myself. Ion like waitin’, ya’ll.  Continue reading