What happens when you start them young?

Daniel

The story of Daniel reveals the secret of campus ministry. You want to reach out to campuses because of the powerful impact it has not only on the lives of individual students, but also on the worlds they will enter after their formal education is completed. These students have the ability to influence not only the world as we know it today, but also the society of the future and future generations.

David

David’s story began with a study of human learning. Following that, he was given the gift of divine visions. The Babylonian army captured David and other members of the “seed-royal.” Daniel and his friends were educated in Chaldean literature while in Babylon so that they could serve the government.

Why capture the youth?

Let’s take a break right there. What was the first thing they did after seizing these Jerusalem youth? Were the young men tortured? No. They mentioned them in Chaldean literature. The goal was for them to learn about Babylonian culture through education. They hoped that by educating these captives, they would be able to change their loyalties. The Babylonian rulers recognized the significance of this power pillar.

The young men of Jerusalem were taken away by King Nebuchadnezzar to be trained for service under him. These young men were chosen using stringent criteria. They were not to have any physical flaws. They should have a pleasing countenance, be wise in all things, be well-read in knowledge, understand science, be quick and sharp, and be able to give a ready account of their country.

Why did Nebuchadnezzar select such young men? The king decided to train these young captives because they would be pliable and tractable, forgetting their people and assimilating with the Chaldeans. The king knew what he would use them for; they had to be capable of standing in the king’s palace, not only to attend to his royal person but also to preside over his affairs.

The best time to teach

They are supposed to be wise and knowledgeable young men, but they need to be taught more. It is important to note that those who want to do good in the world when they grow up must learn while they are young. That is the learning age; if that time is lost, it will be difficult to recover. It does not appear that Nebuchadnezzar intended for them to learn the forbidden arts of the Chaldeans, such as magic and divination. If he did, Daniel and his companions would not defile themselves with them. If men were skilled, faithful, and fit for his business, it didn’t matter what religion they practiced as long as they had some faith.

They must be educated in the language and laws of the country, as well as in history, philosophy, and mathematics, as well as in the arts of husbandry, war, and navigation, in order to be qualified to serve their generation. We can see the Babylonians’ regard for education. We also see how education can be a genuine public service by providing an excellent education to the youth.

Solid foundations

Daniel and his friends were well-versed in the Lord’s Law. They would not be swayed by Chaldean education. These young men had already established themselves in the world. They even politely refused to eat the king’s meat and were determined to survive on vegetables and water (Daniel 1:8-16).

After a while, the eunuchs’ master noticed that they were healthier than the other captives he looked after. They were also found to be ten times wiser and more knowledgeable than the kingdom’s magicians and enchanters.

God endowed these four young men with knowledge and comprehension of all types of literature and learning. And Daniel could comprehend all kinds of visions and dreams.

 

The chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar at the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service. The king spoke with them and discovered that none were equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, so they joined the king’s service. The king tested them in all areas of wisdom and understanding, and found them to be ten times better than all of his kingdom’s magicians and enchanters. Daniel 1:17–20

The next generation

When you begin reaching out to young people for the Lord as soon as possible, they will be rooted in His Word until they reach adulthood. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it,” King Solomon says (Proverbs 22:6). Daniel and his friends were living examples of this proverb. Despite being brought to a foreign land and exposed to a different culture, they did not deviate from the ways they were taught. They clung to their faith even at the risk of their lives.

We are bombarded with messages that mix the truth with lies, both on campus and in the culture around us. The news comes from information channels such as schools and the media system, which have been powerfully advancing the enemy’s kingdom. What are the Christians doing about it?

The sacred-secular divide has grown wider as secular culture has moved further away from Christianity, almost impenetrable.

The traditional evangelistic approach to communicating the Lord’s message to the world is being challenged. The point we’re trying to make here is that before we can deliver the news, we need a platform for it to be heard and received with open hearts.

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EMOTIONAL CRAVING 

Deep-seated desire to be accepted

Emotional craving is the deep-seated need to feel loved, accepted, and wanted. We all need love, acceptance, and affection, but some people want it in a way that goes beyond what is normal for humans. These people may not have had much emotional closeness from their parents when they were young. These people may also have been through so much pain that they would use love and affection from anywhere to heal their wounds. Even though emotional needs are important, people with unhealthy emotional cravings replace the forgiveness, healing, love, and acceptance that they can only get from God with the limited affection of those around them. Even though it’s okay to want love from other people, it’s a problem when people with unquenchable emotional needs that come from pain and hurt demand healing and unconditional love from other people when they can only get that from God.

Unhealthy Emotional Desires

People who are crippled by unhealthy and excessive emotional cravings show certain signs. They can be dishonest, self-centered, and hard to trust. When they are being manipulative, they can be possessive and in charge. Because they haven’t had much affection, love, or acceptance, they demand what they want from the people around them. Then, everything is about them. They expect that every request and demand they make will be met. This is how they get the affection, love, and acceptance they can’t find on their own from other people. When they don’t get what they want, they might even change the story to make it seem like the other person doesn’t care about them. This is because they see things very clearly and in black and white. If someone doesn’t give them what they want, they think the other person must not love them. They might say something like, “I really needed you to be there, so I guess you don’t really love me.”

People with strong emotional needs also have a hard time trusting other people. They are always suspicious of other people because they are still hurting. They are always afraid that someone will leave them and hurt them again. This thought is what makes them lose sight of things. Everyone wants them dead. Always, everyone leaves. They will get hurt by everyone. So, here is the contradiction. People with strong emotional needs often don’t get the affection and love they want because they are always suspicious and distrustful.

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PHYSICAL CRAVINGS

Physical cravings as physiologic needs  

Our bodies have physical cravings too. These cravings are better known as physiologic needs. For example, whenever we are hungry, we need to eat. Whenever we are thirsty, we need to drink water. When we are cold, we need to keep our bodies warm. When we are tired, we need to sleep. These physiologic needs or physical cravings are necessary for survival. The body signals to us what it needs to keep us alive. Resist the biological urge, and we die. Problems arise when we give over and beyond what our bodies need. 

Making wiser and Godly decisions  

In Proverbs 3, the Bible says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Prov. 3:7-8). How often have we made poor decisions concerning our physical cravings that have led to adverse outcomes? God made us consume food—not the other way around. We were created to have control over food rather than have food destroy us. However, we allow food to consume us when we cannot refrain from greed and gluttony. Obesity is a genuine problem, and many of us battle it, not knowing it is also a spiritual issue. We make foolish food decisions rather than choose to honor God with our bodies.  

Another way that we go over and beyond what our physical body needs is whenever we turn to resort to food, drinks, and physical comfort as a temporary fix. Have you ever sought to numb yourself with drugs or alcohol? Perhaps, you have been overeating because you are “stressed out”? Have you ever found yourself sleeping too much because you are too unmotivated? These are examples of how giving our body more than it needs can negatively impact us and even be dishonoring to God. Remember that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Besides, to take care of ourselves is to honor God with our bodies as a form of worship (Rom. 12:1). 

Physical craving is a yearning for physical touch 

Physical cravings can also refer to the yearning for physical touch and sensate pleasure. Several studies have strongly linked physical contact with our psychological well-being. Humans, after all, are social animals.1 We have always existed and will live in sociality with one another. Part of the reality of sociality is the inevitability and necessity of physical human contact. Physical touch constitutes hugging another person or feeling another’s a touch on our arm or shoulder, or simply feeling the presence of another when we’re in an elevator, exiting a train, or falling in line.  

 Sensate pleasure can feel that warm relief of entering a heated room in the middle of winter or drinking an ice-cold drink in the summer heat. Sensate pleasure is also that soothing feeling we get when we go for a massage after a long tiring day or the calming effect of the scent of peppermint oil in the middle of a stressful time. The capacity to feel physical pleasure through touch and our senses is a gift. It is a craving that, if satisfied through God-pleasing ways, can give us a sense of calm, peace, and joy. However, the need to meet such wants can stem from a much deeper desire, such as the need to feel secure and affirmed. When these physical pleasures begin to replace our hope and security in God, this is when these natural cravings become distorted and displeasing to God.  

Touch Deprivation  

Distorted physical cravings can come from illicit affairs, sexual harassment, and even mental health issues like depression. The heart and center of many distorted physical desires have to do with the concept of touch deprivation. Touch deprivation occurs when an individual has had minimal contact with others that they suddenly have a massive surge of craving for it. This is why while touch is an innate human need, people who have been deprived of it can crave it far too much resulting in aggression, inappropriate sexual behavior, depression, body image issues, and an ungrounded fear of attachment and commitment.  Touch-deprived individuals can also resort to self-harm, like self-cutting. This is because they desire so much to feel something because they have felt numbed by all the painful and traumatic situations they have experienced.  

For those of us who experience behavioral problems because of the depravities we have experienced, it is important to turn to God. Turning to God can be in the form of seeking psychological and behavioral help, for God uses doctors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals in caring for us and in empowering us to live an abundant life.  

 

MATERIAL CRAVING 

The want for “more” to be “more.” 

Material cravings are anything that makes us feel and become more. More what? More secure, beautiful, successful, and essential—and the list goes on and on. Material cravings are predicated on the unfounded thought that we are not enough; hence, in our attempt to prove our adequacy, we use material objections to prove our value, worth, status, and standing before man.  

Have you ever craved a new set of shoes or clothes, a new watch, phone, or gadget just because you imagined it would make people respect you more? Have you ever wanted a lot of money to tell yourself that you are more successful than the people around you? That is material craving to satisfy the longing for “more.”  

The heart of the issue  

Do note that this is not to say that we are not supposed to want material things. Remember that every good and perfect gift is from God. However, we need to be willing to look deep into ourselves and identify why we have such a material craving. Why are we longing for this material object? Why are we seeking for this material to be in our possession? The answer to that determines whether our material craving is pleasing to God or not.  

When Satan tempted Jesus, he knew that material possessions were one of the human beings’ legitimate needs. This is because the desire to accumulate more is a gift from God. This gift, however, can be distorted when our hearts are not in the right place.  

In Matthew 4:5-6, the Bible tells us that Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor. Here, the devil made Jesus long for material possessions to gain power and authority. Jesus, however, rebuked Satan. Why? Because he knew full well that mere material things could not give power and control. One gains power and authority through the Holy Spirit of God. So, Jesus’ heart remained in God and for God.  

Thus, it is a heart issue. God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. But the question is, is our soul in the right place? Remember, God sees our hearts (1 Sa. 6:7). The nature of the issue is an issue of the heart.  

Money does not buy everything.  

The craving for material things sometimes has the unexamined assumption that everything has a price; that is, everything we need can be bought. The gospel of Mark has a very important teaching: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mrk. 8:36). Not everything is beneficial for us. More so, not every gain is to be celebrated, for it may bring us a step closer away from God. If you think about it, not every material object we achieve matters. After all, as written in the book of Ecclesiastes, everything we have in our possession can be meaningless and just mere vanity. The same could be true about us. Finding contentment, pleasure, value, and worth in the material things we possess are like chasing after the wind (Ecc. 2:11).  

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Three Big Cravings 

WHAT ARE OUR THREE BIG CRAVINGS?                       

Have you ever had a craving that was so strong you didn’t know what to do? Maybe the harder you tried to stay away from it, the more it drew you in.

People have said that not getting what they want is one of the most uncomfortable things that can happen to them. As they are, cravings demand to be satisfied; they demand to be taken care of. All cravings are the same, no matter if they are for food, something physical, or even an emotional need. “Something you long for, want a lot, desire a lot, and beg for” is how the dictionary defines craving. ix Given this, it’s easy to see why people can feel very uneasy when they don’t get what they want.

Think about itchy skin. When you have an itch, you have to scratch it! The more you tell yourself not to scratch it, the more you will want to. The more you try not to think about it, the more it keeps coming back to you. In the same way, our wants are like this. It is a desire you can’t just ignore. But just like scratching an itch too much can hurt the skin, giving in to a craving too much and without thinking can hurt you emotionally and spiritually.

The Bible warns us repeatedly not to satisfy our cravings in a way that goes against God. 1 John 2:16, it says that our desires for things against God come not from God but from this world. The only way to keep them under control and make sure they still please God is to understand them better and look at them.

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3 Ways We Honor God with Our Wealth

God gives us what we want and need when we treat our possessions with respect. If we don’t use our money in a way that honors God, we are acting out of greed and using our money to satisfy our desires. God can be honored with our possessions in three ways: 1) good stewardship, 2) growth-orientedness, and 3) purposefulness. 

Good Stewardship     

When we give God the best of what we have, God gives us what we want and need. If we refuse to use our money in a way that honors God, we are acting out of greed and using our money to satisfy our wants. We can honor God with our possessions in three ways:

Growth-Orientedness 

It’s not enough to care about God’s world. One way to honor God is to try to make everything He has given us grow. Matthew 25:14–30 tells the story of the talents, which you should remember. The Master gave his money to three servants to take care of. When their Master came back, he called those who were able to double the money he gave them “good” and “faithful.” But the third servant was called lazy and evil because all he did with the money given to him was bury it.

We show God how much we value what He has given us by making more money.

Purposefulness  

The way we take care of God’s wealth and help it grow must be in line with what God wants. So, what does God want to do? They are: to help our families, to help the poor and needy, and to move God’s Kingdom forward. When we use God’s money and resources for these things, we really do what He wants and honor Him.

Renunciation is a good trait we learn by ensuring that our money and possessions are only in line with God’s will and not ours. It teaches us not to be greedy and to give up what we already have. Why? Because we don’t own the things we have. They belong to God in the end.

 

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TAMING OUR CRAVINGS  

Finding Satisfaction in God

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” Jesus says in Luke 12:15. However, why do so many of us place our self-worth in the type of car we drive or the type of house we live in? Why do we feel more important when we have the most recent gadget in our hands? Why do we feel secure having a certain amount of money in our bank account? We frequently act as if our sense of self is dependent on the things we own. We must, however, learn to find satisfaction in God rather than in our possessions.

Do You Trust God?

Putting our trust in God is evident in how we manage our finances and material possessions. We read in Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Why do you believe God promised us overflowing barns and overflowing vats? This is because God understands and respects our desires and cravings. God gave us the natural desire for satisfaction. It’s how we can enjoy the things He blesses us this.

God’s promise to fulfill our needs, longings, and desires is accompanied by a command. The fulfillment of the promise is not automatic. The prerequisite for this is to first honor God. This is consistent with Jesus’ command to seek God’s kingdom first, and everything else will be added to us.
Honoring God with our possessions results in God satisfying our longings and desires. If we refuse to use our wealth to honor God, we are acting greedily and using our worldly wealth to satisfy our cravings. We can honor God with our possessions in three ways: good stewardship, growth-orientedness, and purposefulness.

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OUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS AND DESIRES  

Our Emotional Cravings Relationally  

Everyone needs to be loved, cared for, and affirmed by another person. Such yearning is natural. God created human beings to be in a relationship. He did not, after all, let Adam exist alone. God sought to find him a suitable partner. Hence, human beings are never meant to live in isolation but in sociality with each other. 

The Enemy’s schemes can distort this natural state of being in a relationship with other people if we are not careful. Our need to be loved, cared for, and affirmed can make us manipulative and demanding to others. Such happens when we seek to find satisfaction from the insatiable desires of our hearts and souls in another person—this may be a significant other, a close friend, a parent, or even a son or daughter. When we start to move from saying “I love you” to things like “I can’t live without you” or “You are everything to me,” it can be a sign that the Enemy has started to distort our natural relational cravings and desires.  

What are you looking for in your relationships?

To enter a relationship with the mindset that the other person will satisfy or complete us is to set it up for failure. Living in sociality with one another demands that we give rather than take. This is the ultimate Christian virtue. We love others because God loved us first (1 Jn. 4:19). And the kind of love that God showed us is a giving kind of love. God gave us His only begotten Son, and Jesus gave up his life for his friends (Jn. 3:16; 15:13). If we are to exist relationally with others, it must always be with the posture of giving rather than taking.  

Giving rather than taking requires us to find our affirmation, strength, and sense of worth from God rather than the other person. Otherwise, when we depend on another person for the things only God can give us, it is like drinking from a cup with holes. The water will always run out. We will never be satisfied.  

What is more, depending on other people for emotional satisfaction can lead to manipulation. We can start saying things like, “If you don’t do this for me, then you don’t love me,” or “If you loved me, you would never do this to me.” Such love seeks to satisfy one’s cravings emotionally by wringing the other person dry. The other person will end up disappointing you, and you will end up being broken. Why? Because only God can fill the void that is within us.  

The same could be true if it were the other way around. We can go such extraordinary lengths to please others. We may agree to whatever another person is asking of us, thinking that it is them who will satisfy our sense of affirmation and self-worth. Doing this will only cause us to settle for less, unable to recognize that we were made for so much more.  

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God’s Discipline vs. Satan’s Schemes

Knowing God’s Discipline and Satan’s Schemes 

To satisfy our cravings and longings in a way that is pleasing to God, we must be sensitive to whether what we are going through is a discipline from God (a trial) or a scheming from the Enemy (a temptation). Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the distinction between a temptation and a trial. However, we must be fully aware of how a temptation differs from a trial. Knowing this helps us better understand how to respond to our longings and cravings.  

A trial is a time of testing. Times of testing are to be considered with joy. Why? Because problems are from God. They are a way to strengthen our character and fortify our faith. We rejoice amid our trials because they enable us to experience steadfastness and create in us a perfect and complete trust (Jas. 1:4).  

A temptation, on the other hand, is an enticement from the devil. It is not from God. As James 1:13-15 tells us, God does not tempt anyone. Instead, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his desires and enticed.  This is the work of the Enemy.  The devil seeks nothing but to destroy us, create a victim out of us, and trap us in a cycle of defeat. This is why temptations are typically preceded by thoughts of self-doubt, self-pity, and despair, which give birth to irrational and sinful desires.  

Trials From God

Think about it this way. Losing your job can be a trial from God. It can reveal some areas of weakness in your personality or character, which can be strengthened. This will allow you to lean on God and trust Him to make you grow. After all, the Lord disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:6). On the other hand, losing your job can result in temptation when you wallow in self-pity and self-doubt because this self-pity and self-doubt compel you to resort to sinful cravings. Engaging in ungodly activities, taking shortcuts, and resorting to alcohol to gratify ourselves can appear enticing—and this is precisely what the devil does. Moreover, he makes the ungodly things seem worthwhile. Apparently, Satan makes us settle for counterfeit pleasures. He makes sin alluring. 

We must remember that as much as God works in our lives, Satan does too. If God, through Jesus, gives us an abundance of energy and fullness of joy, Satan works in our lives by stealing, killing, and destroying everything that God has in store for us. He distorts our different desires and makes us resort to things outside of God.  

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FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS

Recall that our cravings come from emotional desires and needs. All these are natural; it is part of being human. Have you ever met someone who had no emotions? Have you ever encountered a person who has no feelings whatsoever? Likely not. This is because emotions are a part of God’s design for humankind. God specifically created human beings not only to think and act but to feel. Therefore, our capacity to feel must be honored.  

Indeed, the cravings and longings we have are God-given and thus, can only be satisfied by God. However, many of us seek the things of this world to help these God-given cravings and longings. This is when we begin settling for less; we let our emotions get the better of us. In other words, rather than being in control of our feelings, emotions, and cravings, they begin to control us. We let them reign over us rather than allowing wisdom and God’s lordship to direct our lives. This is what is not pleasing to God.  

Honoring our emotions  

There is a big difference between honoring our emotions and prioritizing or worshiping them. Honoring our feelings means listening to them, allowing God to speak through them, and worshiping our feelings points to acting as if nothing else mattered but our need to console and respond to how we feel.  

It is therefore essential to recognize that emotions must be controlled. We must rein to them so that they do not reign and rule over us. How then do we control our emotions and yearnings? We act in wisdom, work in authenticity, and act by God’s will.  

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The field was not the church. Jesus said, “The field is the world.” 

God is Looking for an Insider

God says, “Give me one person in the arena, and I will shake an entire city.” Put one person inside the arena, and I will topple all the odds against that one and bring the victory home. What does God want? One person in the hall is worth more than thousands on the bandstand.  

In politics, we saw how Joseph is one man, but he’s in the arena. He’s worth all the others spectating and watching put together and more. 

In the arena

Esther was a woman in the arena. Who is Nehemiah? One man in the hall. Who is Daniel? One man in where the action is. Who is Moses? He is one man raised as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter for the first 40 years of his life. Paul is being schooled. Wasn’t he working to grow? That’s why he is in the arena. What arena are you in?  

Some people hate their work. “I’m not game to work. I hate work.” There’s a battle, isn’t there? There’s an arena. You need to slightly ignore the comments that people not in your field make about your area. They don’t know what they’re talking about. You mustn’t feel judged by people commenting. These are the “could have, would have, should have” people.  They will only tell you what you could have, would have, or should have done without being the ones to enter the arena. 

What can we say to these people? You’re not in my field. I have grace for my space. There’s a different set of rules for me in this space. The area was not the church. Jesus said, “The field is the world.” In the world, the best of us grow together with the worst of us. We aren’t usually the ones who decide who the worst or the best of us are. Because sometimes you think you’re cutting down a tare when cutting down wheat. You think you’re cutting down a weed, but sorry, you’re cutting down wheat.  

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Be Where the Action Is

Let us be painfully honest here. We are engaged in a war, and it will not help anyone by sugarcoating everything. Most of the time, our reservations about Christians in secular spaces are based on total, 100% absolute, undiluted hypocrisy. We act as if we are above the fame and the wealth they have, but the moment they visit the church, would we question whatever this person has been doing in his life or the compromises he has made? When they make money, some of you will become their best friend and say, “Oh yeah, I know him.” 

And then some criticize everyone who goes into mainstream entertainment until it is their cousin or their child who pursues this career, and then they are beaming with pride at the success their family or friend has reached. God is funny sometimes, isn’t He? What will He do?  

Usually, God is going to make the son or daughter of the most religious and legalistic believers the most prominent icon on MTV and force them into a position wherein it is either condemn them and don’t take a penny, or you’re going to pray for them and graciously receive the tithe and the offering.  

Paul placed himself where the action is

Paul is at the university. He’s in college. Paul placed himself where the action was. He created a space within the university wherein the students would know the Lord’s Word. He’s surrounded by all of Ephesus’s philosophical, theological, cultural, and sociological diversity, but he’s teaching the concepts of God. People are hearing him. They’re being persuaded. It’s now affecting the culture.  

Specific battles we’ll never win until we are in education, which is why we say to parents, “You should be a school governor. You should apply for it. Get involved in your children’s education.” It goes beyond that. This is true for you, every facet through which information is disseminated through society. As Insiders, our job is to create open doors for the people to know the gospel. This is about sharing information or opening channels through which the data can flow.  

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