Daniel Highlights

I have been raised in church my whole life and have learned many stories from the Bible, but for me they were all fragmented.  I learned them individually from week to week in Sunday School, and I didn't put them all together until I started studying the bible for myself.  When I did the study of Daniel several years ago, I found the book to be a fascinating.  However, this time when I studied the book, I have a better understanding of the Old Testament, and it had a much different meaning for me.  There is still so much for me to learn, but His Word is life changing!

I don't claim to be a bible scholar, but I am passionate about studying His Word.  I love to talk to others about what I have learned, but I have to reign it in so I don't talk your ear off once I get started.  So, I type it here.  Even if it's only to encourage just one person, I feel compelled to share my thoughts and what God has revealed to me through my own studies.

In this time of studying the book of Daniel, many times I had my Bible out, my Kay Arthur study, my Beth Moore study, my computer for commentaries, history books, and my phone nearby to call my go-to scholar, Wanda Newby.  The book is God's blueprint for prophecy and it can be confusing and complicated.  Daniel is also a man that we can look to for incredible example to pattern our lives after.  He is referred to as "a man of high esteem."

Like I said, when I did this study a few years ago, I didn't understand much of the Old Testament or world history. I didn't realize that Israel was divided into two kingdoms until recently.   I created a brief history in three charts below.  They are brief in detail, but it helped me to understand where the book of Daniel began and how and why they ended up where the were...in captivity.
This is where the book of Daniel begins.  After years of idol worship and many prophets sent by God warning them to repent, God brought forth judgement on Judah.  This was prophesied by Jeremiah but they refused to listen.  Many said that judgement wouldn't come upon them for years to come.  They also put false assurance in the fact that because they had the tabernacle, they felt that God wouldn't allow this to happen to them.  They went into captivity for seventy years.  The number of years they were sent into captivity was also significant. 

God set a model for rest when He created everything in six days and rested on the seventh.  God applied the same pattern in years for them.  They were instructed to rest the land on the seventh year.  They ignored this instruction for 490 years from the time of David's reign onward.  We may think that God is not concerned with areas where we let slide because He doesn't judge us instantly.  However, in this instance, He knew and was going to hold them accountable for their disobedience in this area.  While they were in Babylon the land back in Canaan enjoyed its 70 Sabbath years of rest.

Chapter 1 opens in 606 B.C., in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim.  King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came into Jerusalem and besieged it.  He took with him vessels from the house of God.  He ordered his officials to take with him some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles. 

His criteria of who to take:
-no defect
-showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom
-endowed with understanding
-discerning knowledge
-has the ability to serve in the king's court

Among those who met this criteria were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They were assigned new names in Babylon. 

Hebrew Name and Meaning:                                    Babylonian Name and Meaning:
Daniel (God is my Judge)                                         Belteshazzar (Bel will protect)
Hananiah (Yah has been gracious)                           Shadrach (inspired of Aku)
Michael (who is what God is?)                                 Meshach (belonging to Aku)
Azariah (Yah has helped)                                         Abed-nego (servant of Nego)

Their Hebrew names had different descriptions of God.  Their new Babylonian names were meant to transform them to their new land.  The new names included false gods of Babylon and were trying to disregard the truth of the one and only God.  The king appointed that they should be educated three years, and at the end of the time, they were to enter the king's professional services. 

The young men, ages 15-18, were given daily rations from the king's choice food and from the wine which he drank.  However, this was against the law of the Lord for God's chosen people.  "Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank."  Even though this was permitted in the new land he would be in, he knew it was wrong.  This struck me because even though something is legal in our land, it doesn't mean that it is approved by God.  I can think of several examples that are perfectly legal in our country, however they are despised by God.  We need God's Word as our standard of right and wrong because laws change, and when left for man to decide what is right and wrong can get us into trouble. 

Another thing that I love about this passage is the fact that "he decided beforehand" on what to do.  What an example for us as a young boy around fifteen years old.  In the middle of a situation, peer pressure can sometimes win over our judgements.  It is very important to "decide beforehand" how we are going to react in a situation if possible.  I loved this quote from Beth Moore..."Don't think for a moment he wasn't tested and tempted by the sights and scents of succulent foods.  Had this decision been easy, it wouldn't have demanded resolve...godliness is never accidental.  Neither is victory coincidental.  Both stem from up-front, daily resolve." 

Babylon did everything to indoctrinate them with the new godless culture, but God had his hand on these four young men.  Daniel made the resolve and the other three joined with him.  Daniel asked the commander of the officials if they could just eat vegetables and drink water instead of the king's choice foods.  At the end of the ten days, their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food.  (Talk about depressing if you're on a diet...haha).  Because of their obedience, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom.   Daniel was even able to understand all kinds of visions and dreams. 

At the end of the three years, they were presented to King Nebuchadnezzar and these four stood out.  The king found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.   

Daniel found himself taken captive by a man who was a heathen-a man who didn't know God and who had no respect for the holy vessels of God.  He found himself a hostage in a strange land.  And whatever this 15-year-old had dreamed his future would hold, it was shattered.  He was no longer free.  He was held captive by a man who did not care personally for him or for his God.  And, since Daniel was chosen to serve in the king's court, it is likely that he was made a eunuch (was castrated).

Yet Daniel did not become bitter or question his God; he continued to faithfully serve God.  He did not break God's laws and defile himself with the king's choice food and wine.  It seems that only three of the other captives stood with him in that decision.

Daniel was firm in his faith, but never disrespectful to those who did not share his faith, to those who ruled over him.  And the God who was watching took notice and moved on his behalf.

O Beloved, may we be "Daniels" for the Lord.  No matter the circumstances of our lives, may we be faithful to the One who is over every circumstance-the One who is rightly called the Most High God.
                                                                                 -Kay Arthur, God's Blueprint for Bible Prophecy


Lane's First Birthday

I can't believe Lane is already a year old!  He has been such a blessing and it has been a joyous year with him as a part of our family.  I went back and looked at the blog post of his birth and ended up in tears. 

For Lane's Birthday party, we did a Hungry Caterpillar theme. Here is Lane's invitation:

The food was fun to prepare because it goes right along with the book.
Lucas said plums look like butts.  I'm so proud.
These were individual salads.
Lane's cake.
Little Friends
He loved being sung to.  The morning of his actual birthday, we all sung to him in bed and he was had a huge smile.  When we finished singing he did the "more" sign.  It was so sweet!  Logan used to tell me, "No sing, Mommy!"  Maybe Lane won't do that.  haha. 

He was much cleaner than my other two with the cake.  He wasn't very interested in eating it. 
Click here to see a video/slideshow of Lane's first year.
(you will need to turn off the sound at the bottom of the blog)


FIAR: Clown of God

A few weeks ago, we studied the book The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola.  It was a great story with many teachable opportunities.  I wish I would have done this book before Christmas because I didn't realize that it has a seasonal theme at the end. 
The book takes place in the Italian town of Sorrento, where a young, orphan boy begs for bread.  He has a talent for juggling, and he is soon included in a group of wandering entertainers.  He quickly becomes famous and travels all around the country performing his routine.  During the height of his fame, he has an encounter with two brothers who are monks.  They explain to him how they try to do everything to honor and glorify God and that he can do the same with his juggling.  As time passes and people are less entertained by his performances, he returns to his life as a child, homeless and begging for food.  He goes home and finds himself in the brother's monetary on Christmas Eve.  He doesn't have gifts to lay at the feet of the statue of Mary and her Child, so he performs the routine of his life.  When the juggler finishes his performance, his heart stops beating.  The brothers who come and find him discover that the Christ Child is now pictured with a smiling face, holding one of the juggler's balls.

Of course, we had to try and learn to juggle.  We watched a video on Youtube, but it was harder than it looked. 

At the end of the book, the man goes ends up at a monastery where he juggles his heart out, literally.  We discussed stained glass windows and how many churches, including ours has them.  Some had ornate photos which told bible stories because not everyone had their own copy of the bible.  I found a tutorial on how to make stained glass cookies. 
They had fun with this part of it.  We couldn't find a hammer so we used wrenches??  Is that what those are??

Once the candy was crushed up, we made the borders for the cookies with sugar cookie dough.
Until this point, I thought we were having great success on this project...then I cooked it.
This made me laugh.  It didn't really work out as I planned.  They were all deformed and dripping out...AND they were terrible!!  They would have looked better if I had separated the colors instead of putting them all together, but still, I won't be trying this one again.  haha!
Landon's was the only one that looked somewhat like it was supposed to.

Click  here for a much better turnout on these cookies.
I wanted to take the boys to stained glass making class, but I had no success.  Instead, we painted sun catchers.  Taylor and Mackenzie were over that day and joined in.
The book is set in Sorrento, Italy.  We made a Salt Dough Map of the country in a pizza box.

We used some blue spray paint for the water.
We let it dry for a day then painted it.
Click here to see the instructions I used to make this map.
In our book, the juggler has a particular order of colors that he juggles his balls.  It is in the order of the rainbow.  We did a rainbow math activity.  Lucas did addition and Logan did multiplication.
Mr. Cheese
We made homemade gelato.  I don't have an ice cream maker so Amanda came over to help out.  It was SOOOO good.  It tasted like creme brulee (my favorite dessert in the world) ice cream.
I'm going to get my own ice cream maker!  I want to make it again.  Here's the recipe: homemade gelato.