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Debbie McDaniel Christian Blog and Commentary

Debbie McDaniel blogspot for Debbie McDaniel of Fresh Day Ahead

As a minister, leader, civil rights activist, and effective communicator, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired many by his words of wisdom and life. He helped to change the mindset of generations with his challenge to live free.

But his life was also characterized by hardship and struggle, obstacles and trials. Though his life was not perfect, it's said that he was most influenced by the words and teachings of Jesus. Through opposition and even through death, Dr. King overcame because of the power of Christ. Through peaceful means, choosing love and forgiveness, willing to stand courageously for what was right, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. still challenges us today.

20 Things You May Not Know:

  1.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929 and named Michael King, Jr. But after his dad, inspired by a trip to Germany and the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther, changed his own name to Martin Luther King, he also changed his son’s name to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the age of 5.
  2. At the age of 12, King’s grandmother died of a heart attack. He blamed himself for her death and even attempted suicide afterwards by jumping out of a second story window.
  3. King wrestled with bouts of depression during his growing up years. Though his father was a preacher, he was originally very skeptical about Christianity and struggled with doubt. It’s known that he later concluded the Bible has "many profound truths which one cannot escape" and decided to further his learning at seminary.
  4. He skipped both the 9th and 12th grades of high school but was able to begin college at the age of 15 after passing the entrance exam. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree at the age of 19.
  5. Dr. King went on from there to study theology at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he became the student body president. It is said that he made the choice to enter the ministry after deciding that the church offered the most assuring way to answer "an inner urge to serve humanity".
  6. He and new wife Coretta Scott King married in 1953 and spent their first wedding night in a funeral parlor owned by a friend, because honeymoon suites were not available for African Americans at that time in history.
  7. Martin Luther King, Jr. first became a pastor at age 25 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Then in 1959, five years later, he went on to co-pastor alongside his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
  8. 1956, the King’s home was bombed, in response to his involvement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott the year before. Though his wife and first born daughter were home at the time, no one, thankfully, was injured.
  9. In 1958, Dr. King was attacked at a Harlem book signing by a mentally ill woman. Reports say, “The stabbing nearly cost Dr. King his life, requiring hours of delicate surgery to remove Ms. Curry’s blade, a seven-inch ivory-handled steel letter opener, which had lodged near his heart. If he had so much as sneezed, his doctors later told him, he would not have survived.”
  10. He was arrested 30 times during his lifetime.
  11. He was under surveillance by the FBI for years though no ties to alleged communist influence were ever found or validated.
  12. He had many close friends and strong supporters through life such as Dr. Billy Graham, Maya Angelou, and Dr. Ralph Abernathy. He traveled to India and greatly respected the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi. He was influenced by the writings and beliefs of Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau. He was a huge Star Trek fan. But most notably of all, it’s said that his greatest influences in life came from the teachings of Jesus Christ through the gospels.
  13. Dr. King’s final words were to his long-time friend and musician Ben Branch, “Ben, make sure you play 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” Moments later, on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room.
  14. Though he died at only age 39, medical autopsy revealed that his heart was like a 60 yr. old, thought mostly to be due to stress.
  15. Dr. King’s own mother, Mrs. Alberta Williams King, was also shot and killed in 1974, years after his own death, as she sat at the organ to play in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
  16. According to, “At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.”
  17. It’s said that the fight to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday took 32 yrs. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in November 1983. The first federal holiday was celebrated in 1986.
  18. He is one of only two Americans who has a federal holiday named after him, the other is George Washington.
  19. Dr. King was the author of many books and famous speeches. He is known as one of the greatest communicators of all time. It is known that one of his most memorable speeches, I Have a Dream, was improvised at the end when he left the prepared text in response to gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s cry, “Tell them about the dream Martin!”
  20. Though he had received many honors and awards through his life, and even after his tragic death, he asked that at the end of his life, he only be remembered for other things.

“I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others… And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity…all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”

Indeed, he did just that. His great legacy of love, strength, and freedom remain powerful, still to this day.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36


Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page,, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at and


Some days can seem hurried, pressured, and tense. We know God’s truth, we believe His goodness, and yet we still find ourselves struggling, minds racing, before our feet even touch the floor in the morning.

Our focus gets blurred. We start listening to the lies of other voices that do more harm than good. The constant media headlines tell us how dark and broken our world is. Images and reminders all around us shout that we’re “not enough.” The enemy’s great at heaping on guilt, condemnation, and fear. The problems we face seem more like giants of impossibility than anything good that God can ever bring from it.

The truth is, some days we don’t feel like much of a strong warrior for God’s purposes. We just feel really weak. Afraid. Alone. Defeated.

But often, out of His goodness and grace, when we find ourselves right smack in the middle of huge feelings of defeat, God shows up strong.

"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Judges 6:12

Gideon certainly had no reason to feel strong, mighty, or anything like a warrior at that moment. He and his people were facing great suffering and defeat at the hand of the enemy. He doubted God was even with him. In fact, when the angel showed up, he was threshing his wheat in the pit of a winepress, not up on a hilltop where this was usually done. He was fearful and trying to keep hidden from view of the enemy who’d been raiding their land. Gideon questioned, "If God was with us, then why did this happen?"

Sounds familiar...

Ever been there?

If God is really here, then why?

If God is really good, then when?

If God really cares, then how?

I love how God is so gracious, patient, loving, and kind - even with the questions, even after His people had turned their backs on Him. God still sends an angel to encourage, to strengthen, to remind Gideon and all of the Israelites that He is surely with them.

And yet even while staring straight into a heavenly messenger, Gideon continues to persist in defeated thoughts. He still questions, "But I am the weakest, I am the can God save Israel?"

“And the Lord answered, ‘I will be with you...’" Judges 6:16

Five powerful words. That can see us through anything we face in this life.

“I will be with you.”

God's Presence is real. He gives us strength for every day. The battle can be intense.  And some days especially, the enemy seems really strong, and we feel really weary. We can find ourselves wrestling again with the same defeated thoughts that we thought we'd finally laid to rest just the night before. Disappointments come. We struggle with feeling like we haven't measured up, we listen to the lies that we are "less than..."

But God still answers us. Just like He did for Gideon.

He sees "mighty" when we see "weak."

He sees victory when we see defeat.

He gives hope, when we're filled with disappointment.

He's still with us, no matter how we might feel, or what struggles flood our thoughts. He is filling us with the power and grace of His Spirit, just enough for the day.

For this day.

A reminder for your heart, in whatever you might be facing,

"The Lord is with you...mighty warrior."


7 Verses of Strength:

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Cor. 12:9

"But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior..." Jer. 20:11

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Is. 41:10

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Josh. 1:9

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps. 27:1

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph. 3:17

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page,, for daily encouragement in living strong, hope-filled lives. Find her also at and

Recently in a Bible Study, we talked about this story from Acts 3, when Peter healed the crippled man who sat beside the Gate called Beautiful. And ever since then, I've kept thinking of it again and again. It seems to be such a personal reminder. Because at times in life, we can all possibly relate to this man who sat by the gate.
Maybe because there have been times when we too have felt crippled in this defeat. 

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John..." Acts 3:1-4 

Maybe there are times that we've sat in our state and have stopped moving forward. We've become content just to sit in our condition, thinking it'll never change anyway. Or we just really don't know what to do, or even how to pray. Maybe we even start thinking that we're somehow destined to remain in a hopeless state.

But God's truth breaks through. His reminder comes...bringing hope, and healing.

Peter said to this man who was crippled, stuck in despair, 3 things that may help us today:

- "Then Peter said, Look at us!" v. 4 - There's power in lifting up our eyes and looking to the strength and Might of the One who can truly set free. Let's get our eyes off the obstacles and tough situations, focusing on Him who says "Nothing is impossible with God..." Matt. 19:26

- "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you..." v. 6 - God often wants to give us so much more than what we're asking for. He sees the big picture, He sees way beyond our current situation and what seems to be our biggest need. He works in ways we can't always understand, but it's always with our best in mind. Often we ask only for blessing or enough to get us through, yet God has the power to answer in much bigger ways. And we can know He is with us, He cares, He knows our needs, and will never ignore our cries for help.

- "...In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." v. 6 - His reminder comes, get up and move. Through the power of His name. Even if it's just a step. Even if it's a crawl. Just do the next thing we know to do. We may not have everything figured out, we may not be able to see the whole path moving forward, but God never wants us to stay stuck in our circumstance, no matter how hard it may be, crippled in defeat, fear, or hopelessness. He has so much more ahead.

"Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." Acts 3:7-10

Christ Himself is the Gate called Beautiful. Acts 3:1 reminds us that this story took place at 3:00 pm in the afternoon, the very same hour that Jesus had died on the cross some days before, opening the way for us to receive forgiveness and healing. Coincidence? I think not. For God's timing is perfect. Temple veil torn in two from top to bottom, when our Savior breathed his last. Death and sin defeated, new hope offered. He made a way for life, for freedom. In our deepest needs, in our most crippling moments of life, we can come and sit at His feet, knowing that the Gate is open.

He is Restorer. Redeemer. Healer. Counselor. Friend. 

And He has good in store.

May His huge grace cover us all today.

There is Power in the Name of Jesus. 

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page,, for daily encouragement in living strong, hope-filled lives. Find her also at and