The Best Day Ever (Almost)

Yesterday was almost the best day ever.

Here are my three reasons. I’ll start with the trivialities first and then work my way up the ladder of importance.

1. Mosley football won. No, more accurately, we dominated. We beat Tallahassee Rickards 24-0 for our homecoming game. Special teams and D-line had a great game, both of which I have a particularly vested coaching interest in. We have been on a three game losing skid against flat out bigger and talented teams but our kids have been resilient. The shutout was huge for the defense because after starting the season solid the last three teams we have played have hung an average of 46 points on us.

We improved to 5-3 (6-3 including kickoff classic) on the season and we have a decent chance to go 7-3 and win the county over arch rival Arnold.

2. God healed me. Around second period my stomach had become a contentious wad of knots and churnings. It felt like the beginnings of a similar 12 hour episode of less than a year ago that left me light headed and violently dry heaving. I saw it fit to pray to God for a few minutes specifically for the healing of any sickness that was coming upon me. I am not saying I felt a lightning bolt hit my bowels or some warm glow come over me, but I do know after a couple minutes the nausea had completely subsided. So much so I was able to fully partake in “Chicken Thursday” in the cafeteria right afterwards (trust me, “Chicken Thursday” is the one day you don’t want to miss).

You can either chalk it up as the God given ability of our body to heal itself, or as a unique supernatural instantaneous healing from the hand of God. I don’t care. I just know God healed me. The importance of this healing is highlighted by #3.

3. We are having a baby boy! Yes, by all accounts a healthy baby boy. Right after school ended yesterday I had a doctor appointment with my beautiful pregnant wife, Jessica, to find out the sex of our child. A nasty stomach bug would have kept me from that milestone moment. With our two year old, Josiah, sitting in my lap we discovered together as a family he was going to be a big brother.

All doubt was was done away with when Dr. Jackson pointed to a spot on the 2D image and said, “Yep, there’s the ‘turtle’!” I guess “turtle” is medical jargon for baby boyhood.

Gideon will be his name.

Do you see the turtle?

My wife will be outnumbered 3 to 1 in the testosterone department. It’s a good thing she likes boys. I look forward to adding another tag team wrestling partner to our Saturday morning octagon (bed) free for alls.

God has been extremely gracious to us as a family, and His mercies truly are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

So it was a great day, indeed.

Of course, every silver lining has a touch of grey. After arriving at Chili’s late last night for our weekly post game “coaches meeting” I was met with a bit of bad news. My beloved Florida State Seminoles had just lost to NC State 28-24 in the waning seconds with a freak fumble on the goal line. Oh well, I guess I won’t be watching that game on Tivo after all.

I’m sure it’s the least of his worries, but because of a poor play action fake, Mr. Christian Ponder had kept me from celebrating the hands down best day ever. : )

God bless!

Bryan Daniels

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Paranormal Activity 2: Good or Bad for the Christian Soul?

What should Christians make of a movie that may be the highest grossing horror film of all time? Partake and engage, or turn tail and run?

There are some serious reservations any biblically minded Christian should have when approaching a spiritual “horror” film. We know our flesh and blood is not the only reality of this world (Eph 6:18). Satan, demons, and spiritual darkness are real and are nothing to trifle with or take lightly.

For those who would be more given to feelings of terror and overwhelming fear during and after such a film, abstinence should be the wisest choice. Yet we must also gird ourselves with truth: there really is nothing to fear in Christ our eternal Protector. Those with faith in Christ have no cause for fear when approaching fabricated evil or even hell itself, for there is no torment in perfect love (1 John 4:8).

You’ve probably heard the secular definition of “Puritanism”, you know: “That sneaking suspicion someone, somewhere is having fun.” Christians don’t run campaigns against fun, they embark on missions for freedom in Christ. It is the mark of spiritual maturity to acknowledge that some forms of media avert our eyes from King Jesus and His liberty from every form of darkness.

But I do believe there is some subversive truth that can be dug out of exploding box office sales of this spiritual thriller. Movies like “Paranormal Activity” presuppose real “evil” in the world, even “spiritual evil.” People, even unbelieving ones, have physiological and emotional responses to many such films. You don’t scream, sweat and shake from watching a twisted Fairy Tale; you respond in those ways only if you truly believe what you are watching has some ground in reality.

To be honest, I’m still a bit freaked out by the slobbering trolls in that all time classic horror movie “Ernest Scared Stupid”. I’m pretty sure I spent much of that movie with my head in the chair and my butt in the air. My mom should have known that such a movie was not eight-year old friendly.

Some scars never heal.

But Paranormal Activity (and Ernest Scared Stupid), in a strange way affirms the biblical stance of spiritual darkness. Relativism, postmodernism, and secular humanism have very few coherent explanations for our inherent fascination and fear of the ethereal.

Films like Paranormal Activity 3 can bring up some provocative questions, and someone needs to be there to answer them with gospel truth.

Now certainly, Hollywood horror flicks leave the biblical worldview half undone. In these films, the gospel of Jesus Christ is never offered as the only blazing light to pierce the disturbing demonic darkness. But I wouldn’t expect Hollywood to be in the business of evangelism or spiritual warfare in the first place. That’s where we should come in. The gaping void left by insufficient worldly wisdom must filled with the other-wordly supremely sufficient gospel (1Cor 15:1-4).

I’ll forgo the opportunity to partake in Paranormalmania. I haven’t watched (much of) the previous two. My wife and I tried to watch the sequel after it came out on Redbox, but after the first 15 minutes we both felt weirded out enough to shut it down.  This is a personal conviction, not a sweeping mandate I would put on anyone else. If I want to come face to face with disturbing levels of evil, I need to look no further than my own heart and motives. My selfishness, self righteousness, and general bent towards hypocrisy are much more scarier than a trumped up faux story line with average effects and below average acting.

The evil on the screen is Hollywood. The evil within is real. Praise God the victory over my evil is equally real and realized in the cross of Christ (Colossians 2).

I doubt a new law can be constructed here for the Christian. Some should certainly forgo the opportunity to sow into a horror film that will gross enough to put a sizable dent in the Ethiopian hunger crisis. All who watch it need to honestly ask themselves as ambassadors of the kingdom of light: Is the best way to pierce the eternal darkness by investing our time and money into commercialized darkness?

Bryan Daniels

A Debt to P.O.D.

I owe a debt to “Payable On Death.” They helped lift me out of the miry (and grungy) clay of  late ’90s alternative and rapcore.

In my early to mid-teens I was a sucker for bands like Soundgarden, Deftones, Beastie Boys, and, I’m afraid to admit: Limp Bizkit. I was a “good” church kid that didn’t miss a Sunday or Wednesday service thanks to my mom, but I wouldn’t categorize myself as much more than a spectator among Christian festivities back then. And though I assimilated much about cultural Christianity into my life during that time, I had a serious aversion to the Christian music industry.

With all due respect to Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and dc Talk, I couldn’t shake the notion that the only thing that Christian music had to offer was, well, cheese.

Then along came P.O.D. Their “Southtown” release helped ignite the beginning of the short lived “rapcore” rage. At the end of my 9th grade year I happened to stumble upon a $1.99 demo that featured their song “Lie Down” (still have it memorized). I was shocked and hooked at once.

A bold and refreshing new world of Christian music opened up to me. It didn’t include keyboard solos and “Jesus is my boyfriend” sentiments. It had nasty guitar riffs, timely screaming, Rastafarian undertones, and contrarian rap lyrics like:

They feed us lies, dress up my King in false disguise

Behind those eyes, soul of Savior I recognize

No compromise, while the whole world becomes corrupt

Tonight we break the surface for lives, we comin’ up

There’s probably a lot more that can be said about P.O.D.’s choices for collaborations and album cover art, but not here.

I owe them more than that.

They helped me find my two choices were not limited to Nine Inch Nails or Steven Curtis Chapman in the musical style spectrum. There possibly was a righteous middle ground.

My passion for the group has waned significantly in my adulthood but my appreciation for them has not. The band God used to spark my formative spiritual years still finds itself caught in a cultural rock and religious hard spot. P.O.D. is still somewhat too hardcore for the Christian music scene and too Christian for the hardcore music scene.

But I remember a time when listening to their heavy handed riffs and Christological lyrics was like a desert traveler drinking from a fire hydrant.

It's tricky to rock and rhyme. It's even trickier for a Christian to rock and rhyme

In a CCM land of cookie cutter music styles, cliche chorus lines, spray tans, and self conscious image projections, a gritty movement arose. That movement included a dreadlocked, tatted up, metal cover band with a passion for the youth of a nation.

One misguided youth caught their vision and hasn’t quite been the same.

I couldn’t tell you one song on the latest P.O.D. album. But for old times sake, and as a tribute to the first Christian band I ever liked, I’ll conclude with this:

Tribal Warriors unite!

Bryan