“If God has placed you in Babylon, be a Daniel!”

I simply love this quote. Wow. There’s that nefarious fear. “Everything’s falling apart; going down the tubes; over a cliff into the deep, dark abyss!” What to do with this fear?

Daniel was displaced thousands of miles from home. Lost everything familiar. Separated from his immediate and extended families. He was forced to learn the language of his enemies, study the “wisdom” and laws of his enemies, and prepare for a lifetime of service TO HIS ENEMIES!

It is worthwhile observing how Daniel handled this.

1. He clung to his heritage and inner convictions. 

Normal behavior for captured, displaced young people (as far as I can imagine, anyway) would be to either: 1. Resist and be beat to a pulp, or 2. Say “yes” “yes” “yes” to every instruction. 

Young Daniel navigated a different path.

  • He held onto his background, his beliefs, his loyalty to his people and his God.
  • He determined – against all warnings and advice – to stick to his kosher dietary laws. Dan. 1:8.
  • He trusted that God would enable him to stay pure no matter what the circumstances. Dan. 1:13.

Elderly Daniel, on the other hand, was willing to practice outright disobedience because honoring his Lord meant more to him than life itself. Dan. 6:10.

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people.” Pro. 3:3-4 (all scripture quotations are from NLT unless otherwise stated).

2. He found a way to navigate through the evil and remain untainted.

  • Daniel went directly to the chief of staff to ask permission to abstain from unclean foods. His request was rejected. Dan. 1:8-10.
  • He then went secretly to the attendant directly responsible over him and his three friends. He proposed a 10-day trial-run with the diet. The physical effects of the diet could be weighed, and the official would decide what was next. Dan. 1:11-14.
  • The Lord honored each participant in this secret scheme. Dan. 1:18-19.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Pro. 3:5-6.

3. He developed, even in the oppressive surroundings, his God-given abilities.

Remember! Daniel had been ripped away from his family, his home, his land, the Temple, the holy scrolls, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, all that he knew growing up!

He now found himself surrounded by idol worshippers, amoral leaders, abhorrent foreign practices that directly violated God’s good laws.

Any “normal” person would grow bitter and self-absorbed. He was expected to work hard at learning the foreign language, religion, literature, and laws and customs. And he was to use this knowledge to guide and counsel the destroyer of his people!

The Lord gifted Daniel with a mind that was sharp, a memory that was strong, and a clear understanding of the hearts and minds of people. These gifts set him and his three friends above all the others. Gifts can be ignored or neglected and never become reality, but Daniel added diligence, hard work and discipline, and thereby exceeded all expectations.

“When the training period [three years] was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgement, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.” Dan. 1:18-20.

4. Certain things can be left for later.

Consider what we expect or demand from life. What do you really want?  

Perhaps it is safety, ease and longevity. Perhaps outstanding achievements. Perhaps meaningful relationships. Perhaps leaving a mark or legacy. Or perhaps the greatest desire is to be loved, to be known. No one should be judged for having these desires.

However, these outcomes become far more difficult when uprooted against your will to Babylon.

But Babylon, with all its oppression, calls us to hear anew the “table flipping” words of Jesus. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mar. 8:35. These words are exce!!ent. And it can be easier to follow amidst the oppression of Babylon than in a land of peace and prosperity.

Paul and his co-workers tell us that “sacrificing” for Jesus is an investment with the highest return.

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [imprisoned frequently, flogged severely, exposed to death repeatedly, beaten with rods, pelted with stones … 2 Cor. 11:23-27] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18, NIV.

Daniel shows us how to grapple with waves of fear, how to see through the fog of disappointment, how to weave through opposition, and how to please a Higher Authority.  How successful was he in pleasing God? A literal angel was sent from God’s presence with these words to Daniel.

“Daniel, you are very precious to God.”  Dan. 10:11.

“Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven.” Dan. 10:12.

So yes, If God has placed you in Babylon [or anywhere else for that matter], be a Daniel!

Palpable Tension – Potential verses Actual Outcomes in Life

The book of Jeremiah says tons about the dynamic relationship between Past, Present, and Future. This an essential paradigm to observe and embrace.

1. The ebb and flow of life here on earth is not a matter of randomness and odds.

2. Events are connected. People are connected. And Creator God is actively involved in it all.[1]

The book of Jeremiah boldly displays an underlying tension between the good things that could happen and the bad things that do happen; especially regarding the state of the nation of Israel – past, present, and future. This tension is clear throughout the Bible, but Jeremiah presents it with insight into the causes of this disconnect. And these causes are very instructive.

The Great Beginning

Look at how the Lord describes the early days of the nation of Israel. They were doing well and the Lord had good plans for them:

“I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.  In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty and disaster fell on them [those who sought to harm Israel]. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 2:2-3. (All references are from Jeremiah, unless stated otherwise).

“I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, ‘If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey – the land you live in today.” 11:4-5a.

Jeremiah interjects into the text his full support of God’s good plans.

“Then I replied, ‘Amen, LORD! May it be so.’”  11:5b.

But . . . things fell apart

It turns out, though, that things quickly went sour.

“And when I brought you into a fruitful land to enjoy its bounty and goodness, you defiled my land and corrupted the possession I had promised you.” 2:7.

“But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock– the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?  No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!” 2:21-22.

This is super tragic. The land “flowing with milk and honey” is immediately defiled, corrupted, and ruined. Listen to these questions as the LORD interrogates his people:

“The LORD says: ‘What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves’”. 2:5.

“’Why do you accuse me of doing wrong? You are the ones who have rebelled,’ says the LORD.” 2:29.

“O my people, listen to the words of the LORD! Have I been like a desert to Israel?  Have I been to them a land of darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore!’  Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.”  2:31-32.

“Why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?  Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around.  I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong?  Does anyone say, ‘What a terrible thing I have done’? No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!” 8:5-6.

And . . . there is heartache expressed in many of the LORD’s words.

The Lord’s good plans are constantly frustrated.

“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land – the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me. But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel!” 3:19-20a.

“Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.” 5:25.

“Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, ‘Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.’ But you would not listen to me or obey me.” 35:15 (This is an oft-repeated theme, see also 25:4-6, 26:5, 29:19).

And … the LORD is angry, no, furious!

A majority of the text of Jeremiah is painted in the red of anger. It is not fluffy, uplifting, “heavenly” language. It is severe. It is cutting. It is confrontational. It is this type of language and subject matter that perhaps keeps people away from studying this grand book. Here is a sample:

“I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the LORD’s fierce anger.” 4:26.

“Pack your bags and prepare to leave; the siege is about to begin. For this is what the LORD says: ‘Suddenly, I will fling out all you who live in this land. I will pour great troubles upon you, and at last you will feel my anger.’” 10:17-18.

“I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious!” 21:5.

“Look! The LORD’s anger bursts out like a storm, a driving wind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this.” 30:23-24.

“You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.” 33:5.

“These things happened because of the LORD’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile”. 52:3.

These hardships and disasters were not the LORD’s choice. They resulted from the peoples’ choices. Tension remains over what could have been, what was supposed to have been. But rather than thriving, the people experienced defeat and disaster. The good things God planned did not transpire.

This raises a lot of questions. A close reading and careful evaluation of the text of Jeremiah will lead one to believe the future is contingent;[2] it is conditional, based on people’s behavior and choices. It is not totally predetermined and confined by the creator. Please continue reading.

Summary for now

The book of Jeremiah speaks volumes about the relationship[3] between the Lord and his people. It began well, with the people excited by their privilege and welcoming their closeness to the LORD. But quickly,  distance grew as the people wandered away from their Savior and Provider. This both grieved and angered the LORD and brought grave consequences to their life and welfare. The LORD is deeply invested in his people’s wellbeing. The entire world would be a different place if the utopian relationship could have continued. The LORD called Abram and promised him great things (more than just the wonderful land). The plan was to use Abraham’s descendants to spread the knowledge of God and thereby extend this utopian relationship by fulfilling the promise, “I will bless those who bless you and … All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen. 12:3.


[1] To say that God is “involved” (as used here) does not necessarily state that he “controls” or “dictates” or even “planned” everything in exact detail.

[2] A key word in Jeremiah is the little word “if”. More will be said about this in the pages to come.

[3] Another key term, and a concept that is crucial to understanding the nature of God and his actions in dealing with people. God is above all else a relational being.

That ????? 2020

2020 is a most inexplicable year for members of the human race. Neck deep fighting a world-wide killer. Hearts feeling fears, anxieties and questions – deeper and stronger and longer than ever experienced before. Many have lost loved ones without the closure that comes by being with near as they pass. No gathering for a funeral service. No burial. Human hearts are being bruised and battered – north, south, east and west. What do we do about our hearts?

We are mandated by our Creator to take care of our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Pro. 4:23 (NIV). Such a thing was neither natural nor intuitive with me. “My heart is to be crucified, not fed,” I said, “There is a great commission to fulfil, who cares how I’m doing on the inside!”[1]  So, over some decades I have learned a few things that I want to pass on about “guarding our hearts” during this difficult time.

1. Be honest with yourself. We talk to ourselves all the time, an inner monologue from morning to night. Listen in. Examine it. Look for half-truths, minor twists of reality, or even outright lies within your monologue. Many of us possess a negative bent that is not helpful to ourselves, and not honoring to our Creator and Lord. Time to clean up our inner monologues.

2. Feel what you need to feel. Don’t criticize yourself for how you feel. Hear that? Give yourself a break – a hundred breaks a day. Feelings are human, the mechanisms are built-in by our Creator Himself. They are a result of what is happening within and without. When we find ourselves down, down in the depths, feel it, but don’t take it out on yourself. Own it, but realize that it is temporary. You are not defined by, nor locked into these feelings.

3. Seek help. If you can’t physically be with the people you need, then pick up the phone, get them online, connect with them however you can. Connect with a trusted friend or family member or professional counselor or pastor. It is OK to bawl our heads off with someone on the other end. Do this when the occasion calls for it. But let this be a part of something bigger. Seek help for healing. Listen to ones you trust. Let them help you with your inner monologue. Let them correct your skewed assessment of yourself. Face the fact that you are loved. That some people might be willing to give their lives for you.

4. Let your heart lead you into the arena of the spirit. Feelings of loss, loathing, loneness, and despair might seem to come from the depths of your being. It indeed feels that way. But you are more than body and soul. Everyone is more than a body plus a soul. There is a core nature residing in us, deeper, stronger, and truer than our hearts or souls. Every human is a physical, social and spiritual being. This spirit creates a connection with the Spirit of spirits, the Creator Himself. Let the troubles warring within us lead us to HIM.

How can this happen? How can we “know” an Eternal, Invisible, Spiritual Being? Please consider these following 4 things.

1. He who made us is repeatedly summoning us to meaningful relationship with Himself. This may not make logical sense. It may go against what you have come to believe and how you feel. But perhaps your reading this far is part of His summoning you to come. Can you be open to take a few steps in His direction?

2. The Creator gave humans such great power and responsibility that from the beginning, the health and future of this universe was placed in our hands.  Yep. You read that right. God is a generous delegator. He created the living, breathing, growing masterpiece of our universe and handed over ownership and management to the first humans (Gen. 1,2). Those humans did the absolute worst thing [outright disobedience] and things went downhill from there. But don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

3. Every good thing you see, acts of kindness by yourself and others, acts of forgiveness, people like our health workers who serve above and beyond their occupation. The beauties of our natural world all around us, if we simply take an honest look. See these signposts showing us the original design of the Creator, and what is in His heart. He is a Being of love, imagination, beauty and generosity.  The deepest needs and longings of our hearts will find their answer in Him and His people, but how is this possible?

4. There is something in the Bible called “the mystery of the gospel”, “the mystery of Christ.” It is something everyone needs to hear and consider. If you know some Christians that you trust, please talk with them. Ask them to help you come to Christ. If you would like to respond to this post please feel free to do so. I can be reached directly at ReggieHowardAuthor@Gmail.com.  Let your heart lead you deeper, lead you to discover the Spirit side of life.

There is more to life than we have experienced yet. More to this life on earth that God has planned for us. During these difficult times, listen to your heart, search for the Spirit, come to connect with the True and Living God. I will close with a most popular greeting. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]  


[1] This has been called “worm theology” (based on a misapplication of Ps. 22:6). It denies the effectiveness of Jesus’s death for today. It denies the Fatherhood of our heavenly Father. And it denies the cleansing, renewing and empowering work of God’s Spirit within.

[2] 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phi. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 2 The. 1:2

Start of Journey

I was set on a journey by this message on Twitter. The journey is painful, lonely, costly. I am maybe 1% along and determined to continue to the end.

My ignorance of the background of hundreds of millions of people is shameful. Yes, their history was never taught in school, repressed for whatever reason. But if I said I cared about them, why did it take up to a few days ago for me to ask Google to tell me who Jim Crow was? This is not right.

How I would like to see my relatives, friends, friends of friends also enter this painful but enlightening journey. We will be better people for doing it. How about you?

Blessings everyone.

Beyond Geo-Centrism

Time for a Paradigm shift

1. Pre-science and anti-science earthlings might argue over whether the earth was flat, or round, or something else; but they would be united in the idea that the earth is a fixed point and the sun is the moving object. The sun obviously comes up on one side of earth and goes down on the other side. So, the earth is a fixed point with all the celestial bodies moving accordingly. This is Geo-centrism.

Geo-centrism made sense. It was a convenient and obvious way to envision our universe. It makes us very important.

2. A scientist, Copernicus, after considerable study, and with considerable opposition, “blew-up” this misconception and turned it on its head. He replaced Geo-centrism with Helio-centrism (Helio = Sun).  Astronomy clearly showed that the earth is merely one planet, among several others, that rotates around the center of our “solar system”, our mighty sun!

This understanding makes us humans seem a bit smaller, but at least things remain orderly, and we have a solid, fixed point that our daily routines revolve around. Whew.

Helio-centrism made our planet rather less impressive, but still left us a very easy and convenient way to visualize the universe. Our mighty sun, who welcomes us every moring, is the fixed point, the centerpoint of physical existance.     

This was perhaps the biggest, most famous paradigm shift in science. The movement from Geo-centrism to Helio-centrism was so big that it shook up science, philosophy, religion, and worldviews all over the earth.

A Greater Shift

3. But this obviously isn’t the end of the story. Astronomers continued their research and it became obvious that the Sun is not the almighty, fixed point that we might want it to be. Nope. There is a whole galaxy of suns out there, with uncountable moving parts similar to our mediocre sun and solar system.

There is a whole lot of movement out there. And, our galaxy is just a mediocre galaxy among billions of other galaxies.

What has this knowledge done to us as human beings?

We moved from:

  1. Kings roaming the magnificent center of a Geo-Centric universe. To
  2. Nobles on a great planet orbiting the grand Center of the Helio-centric universe. To
  3. Tiny microbes, clamoring all over each other, on a tiny spec of a planet, orbiting a mediocre star, in the midst of a bland galaxy, moving aimlessly amidst billions of other expansive galaxies. We hang out in the non-nil-nada-centric, incalculable, never-ending “fallout” from a huge, big bang.

This is certainly not ego-building material.

Indeed. Astronomy is a very difficult field of scientific study to live with.

Science tells us about our world, our physical make-up, and the physical ways and laws of this universe. But this is a small part of what us humans really need.

It doesn’t calm our fears. Doesn’t unite our souls. Doesn’t show any future promise.

Science is great, but it doesn’t deal with the biggest issues of life. Why do we exist? Who are we in relation to everything else? How is it that we study and conceptualize so long and hard and yet come up with very different answers? Is it even possible to know what life is all about?

Consider some Ontology

We know within ourselves that certain things are true. Such as, Human life has worth. If a leader wants to sacrifice the life of 40,000 people in order to save 200,000, we want to exhaust every possible way to save all 240,000 lives. We do this when humans are involved, but not if it is ants or fish or camels. This is who we are. We know within ourselves that human life has great, intrinsic value.

We know (whether we admit it or not) that life, in some form or another, continues after the grave. Evidence for this is found in the debate above.

The necessary shift

4. Individuals, families, communities, regions and nations of the world need to move out of the  “non-nil-nada-centric” understanding of the universe into the actual universe. The universe created by the most creative, intelligent, powerful, magnificent Being in existence.

God is GOD

He must be the center, the foundation, the focus… of any paradigm, any understanding of life, the world, the universe, human existence, past, present, future, etc.. We can pretend to live life apart from God, but such actions are the efforts of ignorance (Ps. 14:1).

  • “He is the Creator of everything that exists.” Jer. 51:19.
  • He is everywhere throughout the universe. “’Can anyone hide from me…? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ Says the Lord.” Jer. 23:24.
  • He is active in earth’s affairs. “I am watching, and I will certainly carry out my plans.” Jer. 1:12; “’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.
  • He placed mankind as the center of the created universe, because we have a connection with God that nothing else has. “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign…”.  “’Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,’ says the Lord.” Jer. 2:11-12.

He is a personal being. He is a social being. He exists in dynamic relationship from eternity to eternity. He always has been and always will be magnanimous, loving, and true. He wants you and me and everyone willing to live in dynamic, daily relationship with HIM.

Live and grow and enjoy living every day the GOD centric universe!

Reading the Bible with God at your side

Episode 2[1]

This heading may seem strange, unusual, perhaps irreverent. Yet, reading the Bible while conscious of its Author’s physical presence will make a huge difference to your reading. He becomes the proverbial “elephant in the room.”[2] You can’t ignore Him. He doesn’t go away. You are obligated to relate everything you read to HIM.  You must respond.

Arriving at what we call the second verse of the Bible, some unexpected statements appear.

It’s a murky, confusing scene! “Formless and empty” is the created earth. “Covered with darkness” are the deep waters.  And “hovering” over this darkness is the Spirit of God.  What? How? What?

One’s mind wants to run down many “rabbit trails” with questions and answers and arguments and debates, but Oooops! Almost forgot. The Author is still right here in the room! What now? You look around feeling rather self-conscious.

Stop your racing mind! Realize that minuscule, human minds are no match for Almighty God! It is His Word! Time to at least bow your head, admit confusion, and ask questions humbly!

You are a God of order, not disorder (1 Cor. 14:33), so how does this “new heavens and new earth” begin in such a mess?

Also, you are a God of light, and in you is no darkness at all (1 Jo. 1:5), but why is your earth “covered with darkness?”  I would really like some answers, Divine Author!

Silence. You bow and ask again. Silence still.

Then a thought comes to mind, something to explore. Maybe this thought came from Author Himself.

The Bible doesn’t tell us everything we want to know.

We can’t get answers from the Bible if the answers aren’t there! If the answers aren’t there, then God must consider those questions as not so important! It is actually healthy to have unanswered questions. Questions keep us humble and seeking. Two health-inducing qualities! 

It might be time to get on the ol’ knees again. “Author, I want to trust you, that you both know and do what is best.”

Somehow Deuteronomy 29:29 comes to mind and you look it up.

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” Amen.Leave the questions hanging. Time to move on, tomorrow, to the exciting next 6 days!


[1] Episode #1 happened in relation to Gen. 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And involved stooping to the ground in amazement.

[2] Large, out-of-place, unavoidable, can’t get out of your mind, makes one feel awkward, small, vulnerable,….

Reading the Bible with God at your side

This heading may seem strange, unusual, perhaps irreverent. Yet, reading the Bible while conscious of its Author’s physical presence will make a huge difference to your reading. He becomes the proverbial “elephant in the room.”[1] You can’t ignore Him. He doesn’t go away. You are obligated to relate everything you read to HIM.  You must respond.

An Example

Words that have become so familiar suddenly take on a new light. What is your response to Genesis 1:1 (when the Creator is there in the room with you)?

                “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

You might start with a simple “Thank you Lord, for creating this universe and giving me the opportunity to live in it.” 

But have you really recognized the “elephant in the room”? 

Isn’t the above response rather flippant and casual? 

Fall on the ground before Your/The Creator!  Be in awe! Stay on the ground for a few hours in the presence of such a One! Recognize this Living, Personal Being who created all things and is aware of little-ol’-you, and is there at your side!

This is a taste of what “Reading the Bible with God at your side” is about. The Bible is His book, His message, His truth, His word to you and everyone else on this planet.


[1] Large, out-of-place, unavoidable, can’t get out of your mind, makes one feel awkward, small, vulnerable,….