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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Daniel 4)

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages that live throughout the earth: May you have abundant prosperity! The signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me I am pleased to recount.

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living at ease in my home and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that frightened me; my fantasies in bed and the visions of my head terrified me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, in order that they might tell me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not tell me its interpretation. At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods —and I told him the dream: “O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods and that no mystery is too difficult for you. Hear the dream that I saw; tell me its interpretation.

Upon my bed this is what I saw; there was a tree at the center of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all. The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed.

“I continued looking, in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and there was a holy watcher, coming down from heaven. He cried aloud and said:

‘Cut down the tree and chop off its branches, strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from beneath it and the birds from its branches. But leave its stump and roots in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let him be bathed with the dew of heaven, and let his lot be with the animals of the field in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a human, and let the mind of an animal be given to him. And let seven times pass over him. The sentence is rendered by decree of the watchers, the decision is given by order of the holy ones, in order that all who live may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdom of mortals; he gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of human beings.’

“This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are unable to tell me the interpretation. You are able, however, for you are endowed with a spirit of the holy gods.”

Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was severely distressed for a while. His thoughts terrified him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or the interpretation terrify you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you, and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree that you saw, which grew great and strong, so that its top reached to heaven and was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and which provided food for all, under which animals of the field lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air had nests— it is you, O king! You have grown great and strong. Your greatness has increased and reaches to heaven, and your sovereignty to the ends of the earth. And whereas the king saw a holy watcher coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the ground, with a band of iron and bronze, in the grass of the field; and let him be bathed with the dew of heaven, and let his lot be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him’— this is the interpretation, O king, and it is a decree of the Most High that has come upon my lord the king: You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the wild animals. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, you shall be bathed with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals, and gives it to whom he will. As it was commanded to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be re-established for you from the time that you learn that Heaven is sovereign. Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged.”

All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king said, “Is this not magnificent Babylon, which I have built as a royal capital by my mighty power and for my glorious majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the sentence was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven away from human society, ate grass like oxen, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails became like birds’ claws.

When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me.

I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored the one who lives forever. For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does what he wills with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to him, “What are you doing?”

At that time my reason returned to me; and my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My counselors and my lords sought me out, I was re-established over my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are truth, and his ways are justice; and he is able to bring low those who walk in pride.

New Revised Standard Version: Daniel 4:1-37 –

Related posts:

Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: John 1)

Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Psalm 19)

Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 6)

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[A rebuke from the Lord]

Where is your hospitality?
What happened to your love?
Your charity? Your kindness?
Why are you growing weary?
Did I not promise to keep you?
Refresh you? Restore you?
Are you not certain that you will overcome your current trials?
Have you noticed how hardhearted you’ve become?
Why did you allow that to happen?
Where is your tenderness?
Your mercy? Your understanding and appreciation?
Why have you given up on Me?
Have I not promised to never forsake you?
Have I not given you My strength?
Have I not assured you of victory in every test?
What have you to fear?
When you call, do I not answer?
When you seek, do you not find Me?
When you cry, do I not comfort you?
By what right do you withhold My Charity?
By what right do you withhold My Hospitality?
Who are you to focus only on yourself?
Have you gotten up from your surrender?
Have you decided to go another way?
You are My chosen and I am yours.
There is no agreeable time to forget that you are not your own.
You are mine.
Those who are called by Me,
For My purposes
Are not free to forget
Whom they serve.
You are not free to forget
That your life is an offering.
That your blessings are not solely for your comfort;
They are for the benefit of My Kingdom.
You are not free to forget
Humbleness, graciousness, gratitude…
You denied Me when you denied her.
Did you realize that?
What you do for the least of My people 
You do unto Me.
What you withhold from My people
You withhold from Me.
Nothing you own is yours.
Everything you have belongs to Me.
Who are you to deny My hospitality?
Where is your defense?

[Response from my contrite heart.]

Abba. Father, I have no defense for myself.
My only saving grace is You.
I am sincerely sorry for thinking only of myself;
For allowing the seed of selfishness to bloom in me.
I repent of being absorbed in my own
Sadness, melancholy, hurts and fears,
Of seeing only my own disappointments.
I sincerely ask Your forgiveness for causing offense to one of Your children.
I thank You for your light and insight. I thank You for Your rod of correction and the training You provide.
I thank You for the opportunity to right my behavior and change my reaction.
I thank You for the ability to serve You.
I thank You, Father God, for Your hospitality and Your Spirit in me.
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Pride is all about self

Yoda-Launch-300x298There is nothing of God in your pride or self-professed righteousness. Pride is all about what you want for yourself, what you like for yourself, what you do for yourself and any other self-seeking pleasures you decide to pursue (for yourself). There is no room for God in this scenario because there is no room for the needs of other people.

Today’s lesson: Get over yourself. It’s an easy process once you commit to it and it’s far more fulfilling than anything you can ever do for yourself in your own power.

Step 1: Look at someone else. Really see them.

Step 2: Ask someone about their life. Really hear them.

Step 3: Fill a need. There is always a way to be helpful to others. You simply have to be present and willing to be of service.

Step 4: Repeat often.

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Ethel: A Special Treat on HBO

I was so moved by the historical, social, political, and familial contexts of this documentary, I don’t really have my own words to describe it. I took notes throughout the documentary, so I will simply share my notes/quotes here. At the bottom of the post, I shared the link to Ethel’s HBO page. But, all in all what stood out most to me was the commitment to family and the commitment to serving one’s country.

“Today, over the objection of the governor of Alabama, two Negroes were allowed into the university. I hope these events are long past when you get your pretty little head to college.” ~ Robert Kennedy wrote a letter to his then 3 year old daughter Kerry, dated June 11, 1963. At the time, Robert had sent his Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to the University of Alabama to persuade Gov. George Wallace to literally remove himself from the schoolhouse door and allow African American students James Hood and Vivian  Malone to enroll. (Read more at

“Be kind to others and work for your country.” Robert Kennedy in a letter to his oldest daughter Kathleen, dated November 24, 1963, two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“He was not as comfortable [running his first election campaign without his brother]. Where as Jack was a born orator, nothing came naturally to Daddy. He really had to struggle for everything.” ~ Ethel speaking of her late husband Robert Kennedy to their filmmaker daughter Rory.

“I always felt having been a campaign manager, that 90% of the talk was done by men and 90% of the work was done by women.” ~ Robert Kennedy speaking during his campaign for Senator in New York.

“Frank as it is, and maybe difficult as it is to understand in the state of New York, I’d like to be a great United States senator. I like to serve.” Robert Kennedy answering the question of why he was running for senator in New York.

After winning his senate seat, he was asked what he attributed his success to. He responded, “Just the effort we made in the campaign. And to Ethel.”

“I’ve just been to Mississippi. Do you know how lucky you are? Do you know how lucky you are? You have to do something for our country. You have to give back.” His daughter Kathleen retells the story of Robert Kennedy’s words to his family after a visit to poor, starving black families in the Mississippi Delta in 1967.

“I run for the presidency because I want the United States of America to stand for hope…instead of despair. To stand for the reconciliation of man instead of the growing risk of world war.” ~ Robert Kennedy announcing his candidacy in the Senate Caucus room in March 1968.

“Why did I lose? Because I didn’t do well enough.” ~ RFK on losing the Oregon Primary.

Robert Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan shortly after winning the California Primary. He died on June 6, 1968. He was 42 years old.

“Then we lost Daddy.” Rory Kennedy narrates in this surprisingly gripping documentary about her mother Ethel that turns out to be an amazing story of a loving and supportive marriage partnership, as well as intelligent and inclusive parenting.

“My brother need not be idealized or be enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. Be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it; saw suffering and tried to heal it; saw war and tried to stop it.” ~ the late Senator Ted Kennedy eulogized his brother Robert.

Rory Kennedy was born six months after her father died on December 12, 1968. Ethel says of her, “That was the joy of my life….Rory, the last of the Irish kings.”

“Although I think they were equal partners, my mother took a step behind and she was supporting Daddy. And after we lost him, I think she felt the need to become more of a leader.” ~ Daughter Kathleen

“Seeing our mother walk, in his absence, along that same path really impacted all of us. That gave us, not the obligation, but the gift of a contributory life.” ~ Son Max

“When my father was alive, my mother was always there for him. Her love lifted him up. And after, when my mother was left to raise us and to carry on his fight, he was there for her too…His love still lifting her up.” ~ Rory, daughter and filmmaker

Link to documentary site:

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The Joy of Volunteering

Tamara and Misty bundling donated coats after church service.

volunteer: a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking; a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

There’s something about giving of yourself with no expectation of recompense. Just freely offering yourself with the understanding that your offering is an act of service that will multiply to bless those on the receiving end in ways you cannot fathom.

Hurricane Sandy has decimated the East Coast. There are parts of New York City that survived unscathed, then there are parts that look like a war zone. The images of New Jersey are devastating and what I’ve heard from people in Connecticut, they fared only slightly better. I haven’t yet been to the tragic areas of New York City, I really haven’t ventured further than four miles from home, but I have been able to contribute my time in a meaningful way. To that end, I am writing to encourage you, rather you’re near to or far from this particular recovery effort or you see a need where you are: show your heart, lend a hand, share your time, give of yourself to someone in need and/or an organization with an infrastructure to assist a community in need.

Today’s lesson: Every little bit helps. When you combine your little bit with the little bit of others, you all can make a huge difference. Go out and be a blessing. 

Uli and Jeffrey congratulating themselves for their packing and heavy lifting skills.

My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  ~ Galatians 5:13-14

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Unconditional is a lovely story about a woman’s recovery from hopelessness, a young girl finding her voice after trauma took it from her and a community of children claiming a man as their Papa Joe. It’s also a story of a man who remained a friend and a warrior for those under his care.

If you’re looking for a movie with a good story and message, you’ll enjoy Unconditional.

Two of my favorite quotes from the film are today’s lesson:

Bring hope and change into the life of a child. ~ Papa Joe

No storm can take the sun away. The sun is always shining. You just have to take a walk on the clouds. ~ Sam

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Just do it – You Are Duty-Bound!

“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”  ~ Luke 17:7-10

*I’m raising my hand* I’m guilty of expecting appreciation for what I do. A simple word of thanks goes a long way with me. Yes, I want to hear a “thank you.” Yes, it would be nice if reciprocal giving was sprinkled throughout a relationship (even an employer/employee relationship). One of my struggles has been to not be so stingy with myself to seemingly ungrateful people. But it’s hard. It’s like a law of nature: someone smiles at you, you smile back; someone greets you, you greet them back; someone does something for you, you show gratitude. So it’s hard to hear that I should consider all the work that I do as my duty – what I’m expected to do, therefore unworthy of thanks. Ouch!!

In my mind, if my actions don’t illicit responses, then I haven’t made an impression – so I begin to think I am better off saving my energy for someone who will reciprocate in some form. 

However, Jesus’s instruction in Luke 17:10 is that we should just do as we are instructed with no expectation of gratitude because it is our duty as the Lord’s servant to do His will.

Still difficult to hear.

I’m trying to imagine giving my all day in and day out with no acknowledgement of my effort at all. Sounds like a dark place. It’s a selfless place, to be sure. A necessary place for a humble servant in committed service to their Lord.

It is important to know that yes, as individuals, we need to be grateful, but as servants we need to be humble. A humble servant is lowly in self-estimation. There is no pride or ego that needs the flattery of gratitude. Humbleness is modesty, but it’s not weakness. A great deal of strength is required to completely set your self aside in service to another.  

  1. something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation.
  2. the binding or obligatory force of something that is morally or legally right; moral or legal obligation.
  3. an action or task required by a person’s position or occupation; function

Believers are expected to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). We have an obligation to our Lord to mimic His selflessness. We are required to do for one another, to help and support each other, to fill in the gaps in each other’s daily lives. What my brother or sister in Christ can’t do by themselves, they can perhaps accomplish with my assistance. I am then duty-bound to offer and to serve. Look to Jesus as the primary example for that thought train. We couldn’t achieve forgiveness for our sin alone, but Jesus was able to do it for us. He came to serve. He humbled Himself for our benefit and became the first of God’s great harvest (1 Corinthians 15:20).

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  ~ Mark 10:41-45

I have not found a statement of gratitude from God for Jesus’s service or sacrifice. Jesus performed His duty. However, at the outset of His ministry, He was validated by God’s voice from Heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)  

It I important to realize that when God has set you on a path of service, you have already been validated – simply by His selection. You need to know that He loves you and is pleased with you even before you perform, because nothing you do will earn worldly accolades from the God who is greater than the world. And we are in service to God in all we do.