A Stranger in Babylon

This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

The book of Zechariah was written during the close of the seventy-year captivity of Israel and Judah. In the year 538 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia ordered that the people of Israel be returned to their land. God’s chosen people were not only liberated but were also given back the temple vessels that had been stolen from them prior to their captivity to the now-defeated King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In addition, they were given permission to rebuild their temple with funds from the Persian Empire (Ezra 6:3-5).

The task of rebuilding the temple was given to a man named Zerubbabel. It was to him that the Lord had proclaimed through the prophet Zechariah, “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit…” (Zechariah 4:6).

Not much is known about Zerubbabel prior to his commission to the great work of rebuilding the temple. Having a Babylonian name, he had likely spent most of his life in captivity. Born into slavery, he had probably spent every day fulfilling the wishes of his captors. Though not much can be said of his life during his captivity in Babylon, one thing is clear: If his name is any indication of his reality as a slave, he was not at home in the humiliating position of his past. His name means a stranger at Babylon.

Somehow, I just don’t feel at home in discouragement and defeat anymore. The adversary’s attacks are not as effective as they used to be. In my life right now, there is a calmness and assurance within my spirit that God is right here with me. I am a stranger at Babylon. So are you.



The Unfiltered Truth

Sometimes people get to the point where the unfiltered truth must come out, regardless of how people feel about it. Such is the case of Julian Assange, who has leaked over 500,000 classified US documents to the public. Within those documents are damaging, and even embarrassing statements that have been made about world leaders – information that could in many ways, harm diplomatic relationships between nations. These classified documents tell the real truth about these leaders, and what they really think, unfiltered. What would happen if your classified data was leaked?

There are many people who are embarrassed at being themselves. So as a result, they suppress the treasure of who they are as “classified,” and present to the world an edited version of their personality. I am convinced that many people have become so used to hiding the truth about themselves, that they don’t even realize they are doing it – until they are exposed. Then, when the true person is revealed, they fight back, or hide in shame.

What if we could live life, unfiltered? I don’t mean to say that we should live life in a rude, offensive manner, not bridling our tongue when necessary. I mean to say, a life where our personal issues no longer determine what we can, and cannot do; where fear no longer determines our ability to speak up, when necessary; a life where there is real laughter, and tears of joy; where our yes, is yes, and our no, is no! Then when we are exposed, what the world sees is a surprise to no one because they know well, the true, you.

Imagine being free to be the true, you, in public. This life is possible if we choose not to put our true character into “classified” status, and present to the world, the unfiltered truth about ourselves. Can you be brave enough to be your truest self?

Still becoming,

Niral Russell Burnett


Becoming: Knowing What to Do by Finding Who You Are

I am Niral Russell Burnett

A few years ago, I decided to stop writing, and publishing my material. I had already worked on a few moderately successful projects, but still, I felt the need to dig a deeper well in my life. For a time, I lost my desire to know God at least, the God that was demonstrated to me in church. He represented to me someone who made many promises, but did very little so, I thought. Therefore, it became hard to feel at home at church because it did not seem that anyone saw what I saw. I felt God was distant, leaving me to fend for myself in this world. While this may sound theologically wrong, everything in my life seemed to tell me that I was alone. Still, I went through the motions of church services, even preaching and teaching, only to go home from church, wondering if all of this religiosity represented anything that was real.

I spent years wondering what to do with my life. After multiple personal battles, and more failures than anyone can count, I began asking the hard questions, the hardest of all being, Lord, who am I?I didnt want Bible verses about promises, as I secretly wasnt convinced they would happen for me. I also did not want a general answer that was true for everyone else on the planet or everyone else in church. If it was true that God made me unique, I wanted to know exactly who I was. After many difficult sessions of mentally overcomplicating issues in my life, God gave me a simple answer I am Niral Russell Burnett, and God wants me to love this person.

Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. When I actually started to take this verse of scripture seriously, I realized that I did not truly love myself neither did I know myself. By this time, I had lived out my young life as a stranger to who I really was. The ancient Greek philosophers used to say,Know thyself. They were on to something, as it is impossible to truly love to fully give yourself to another person, or even, God, without knowing who you are. If you understand the weight and measure of how glorious you really are in Him, and are then capable of laying it all down before God, you have done something worthwhile. You have given a priceless treasure that only you possess. But, what if you don t love yourself?

Thats the problem for many. They have lost the joy and wonder of knowing this wonderfully madeperson God has created, even after repeated encounters. Its as though they get glimpses of their real selves, but never resolve themselves to live as this triumphant individual. Some have even taken a self-loathing approach, where nothing they do is good enough. Not knowing who they are, they go through life indifferent towards themselves because of their appearance, or their life circumstances even their weight. They never gain a healthy relationship with who they really are, and therefore, never begin the process of walking in the power of this glorious human being their truest selves. This is the person the world needs to see — the triumphant you; the glorious you; the truest you.

Still becoming,

Niral Russell Burnett


Becoming: Knowing What to Do by Finding Who You Are (2011)