This took place in October in Carlow Bible Church. It was a day where men from many different churches came together for worship, fellowship and Bible teaching. I could comment upon a number of things, for example how great it is to be together with 200 other men, how I knew very few of the songs we sung (and the ones I didn’t know weren’t particularly memorable!), how good it was to have an endless supply of coffee all day…. However, I am going to summarise the teaching we had, because it was really good and helpful.
The speaker was Paul Reid, who is one of the Senior leaders at Christian Fellowship Church in Belfast. He gave 4 talks from the book of Daniel, one from each of the first 4 chapters. He used the strap line “Living in a Second Choice world. Daniel and his companions were living in Babylon, not Jerusalem, in many ways a hostile environment. In the same way, we live in a world which may not be our first choice – we are among people who do not share our beliefs and values.
I have summarised each session in note form below:
Lessons from Chapter 1
1. Take responsibility
2. God renews there. Daniel understands his culture without getting sucked into it.
Jesus passes by in a second choice world.
3. He goes through a second choice with friends – hence church. The church is not there primarily for community, but to bring us close to God.
4. He submits to God in second choice world. Why did Daniel decide some things not others? The Holy Spirit gives guidance. No rule book.
Decide where to draw the line – make a stand early.
Lessons from Chapter 2
1. Daniel has wisdom from God. Daniel asked questions and the right questions. He did NOT ask why ME! That leads to self absorbs ion and self pity. God puts you in a situation so that he can use you.
2. Daniel joins a praying community. Men talk about things external to themselves. Appropriate self disclosure is valuable. To admit life is difficult is NOT masculine, but needed. Community is. BY product. Praying in community keeps you rooted in reality. Keeps focus of yourself.
3. He had an adequate view of God. Our world is temporary, God is eternal. Essential perspective in second choice world. Nothing beyond the power of God. In darkness he brings light.
4. The courage to speak. Too easy to go with the flow. Conversations can be very powerful. Consensus man doesn’t have a chance in second choice world. Create culture, not be shaped by it.
Lessons from Chapter 3
1. God does not give us first choice world – it is an illusion, God shows himself to be God. Most of us come to God in a crisis.
2. Our trust is in God’s character, not the means of his provision.It’s not about YOU! Christian morality works, but only in the long run. If you come to Jesus to get your needs met, you won’t meet Jesus or get your needs met. Don’t become a Christian just because it works. The real issue is JESUS CHRIST IS LORD and true whether it works in the short term or not. It’s NOT if everything goes well I will follow him.
3. A second choice world clarifies your basis of faith. Where does the real power lie? Nebuchadnezzar is not in charge, God IS!
4. The men drew the line where idolatry is concerned.
Christian men need to be passionate about Christ and the church. We must give our EXCLUSIVE worship to God.
Lessons from Chapter 4
1. Where does the true source of power lie? Nebuchadnezzar challenged God. The issue is pride. Daniel had faith in a faithful God. His power is greater than all others. His is the power that really matters. You can’t mock God and get away with it.
2. God does not punish straight away. If you deliberately go against God, something in you dies!
3. God’s power is released through relationship. We need to have a relationship with God. But that will look different for different people. Difference between Jesus’ dealing with woman at well and with his disciples. It also comes through forgiveness.
4. Humility – no one would want to go through what Nebuchadnezar did. Daniel had settled the issue long before – he had proved God being in control. We shouldn’t tell God how big the problem is! Look at growth in Irish Christianity!
Above all he came to a point where he said to God “I trust you.”
I will be writing a reflection upon how this works in the present context soon.