If You Love Him You will Love The Church (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Totally yanked this from the “Desiring God” blog, but it bears repeating. From the prolific pen of martyr/pastor/spy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a gracious rebuke to us:

If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.

. . . let [the pastor or zealous member] nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.

Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein, (New York: HarperOne, 1954), 29, paragraphing mine.grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Lord, grant to me repentance for all the ungodly griping, rebel rousing, and idle chatter I partake in within the context of your people. Amen

Bryan Daniels

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Why You Probably Won’t See Me Again Until November

Good morning friends of the blog and objective lurkers. And also in some ways, for the next four months anyways, goodbye.

After a steady stream of delectable material (haha) coming from this blog the past summer my online productivity has now come to a screeching halt. I’ve recently entered my busiest portion of the year. Though I will try to remain as prolific as possible with my posts, my blog activity will likely remain sparse in the coming months. I’m not gloating, and I know many maintain much busier schedules than I do, but here are the main reasons for a brief blog vacation:

High School Algebra Class

This past Monday was the first official day with students. There are a host of new standards, EOCs, lesson plans and CAG-friendly guidelines coming down the pike that I’ll have to get more familiar with and learn how to implement in my Algebra 1 classes. The paperwork can get overwhelming with every new documentation, and that is not including the hundreds of tests, quizzes, and projects that will need grading in just the next month.

I love pouring in to young people a thirst for education, but as is the case with any thing worth doing, it will be time-consuming.

High School Football Season

The regular season has started last week and will run through the second week of November. If (or when) we make the playoffs you could add another few weeks to the schedule.

Right after school I change clothes and make a beeline for the practice field. Practice starts at 2:50 on the dot and lasts at least until 5:30. Typically, coaches will meet afterwards which equates to me getting home on Mon-Thurs around 6:30. Just enough time to wash up, eat dinner with the family, and put the boys to sleep. I may have an hour with my wife to just talk, chill, and be married. Game days (Fri) I’m getting home at 11 for home games and 1 AM for away games. In between grading class papers and grading game film on Saturdays I hope to catch a few Nole football games on the tube. On Sunday mornings it’s off to church with the family and then a coaching staff meeting from 1 PM -until (?) to get prepared for next week’s opponent.

Football is all-consuming even at the high school level and I know for a fact our staff hours are more friendly than many other HS staff’s.

We’ve already had one situational game/scrimmage against Walton County last Friday. If we were keeping score Mosley would have won 48-20. One Walton county D-1 DT prospect wreaked havoc on our smallish OL for the first couple series before disappearing afterwards. I wonder what this 6-5 275 lb specimen thought when he heard a 5’11” 185lb Mosley offensive guard say, in drawn-out Southport vernacular: “If you’re D-1 then I’m going to Alabama!”

New College Ministry

The pastor at SUMC has graciously asked if I would be willing to upstart a college/career ministry at our church. He is not asking for many hours and the position guarantees as much flexibility as needed. Preparing a couple of trips and activities shouldn’t take much time, but preparing for a fruitful bible study will necessarily take some prayer and discipline. At SUMC, there seems to be a palatable hunger in this age group for the things of God. It will be a small, but passionate and diverse group of people.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to minister to this age group. When God seems to shut one door the reality is that He is just directing us to the door that He has had opened all along. We just have yet to see it at times.

New Teacher Stuff

I am in the third year of my “New Teacher Induction Program” and I still have a couple of certification tests ($200.00 a piece!) and online courses to take until I am considered a teacher “in field.” Somehow I’ll have to find the time this fall to finish up the program, otherwise I’ll be ineligible for a more permanent teacher contract.

Of course I will continue to strive to make my relationship with God, my wife, and my sons the priority over these four items. Please be in prayer for my family, we have a huge decision to make in the next two weeks that could alter our lives in a mighty way. More details may be forthcoming on that.

A big thank you to my faithful readership. God bless you and keep you.

Bryan Daniels

Blogging And My Dreaded Circle Of Constructive Criticism

In college, as that slippery major declaration alluded me, I was able to opt for some interesting electives. One in particular stands out above the rest. It seemed like an intriguing and risky choice.

Creative Writing was not my natural forte. Most of the class consisted of everyone sitting in a circle and taking turns pot-shotting or praising another’s work. Besides my speech class, this circle of “constructive criticism” was one of the more terrifying classroom experiences of my college career. Turns out, my original works of fiction were altogether unoriginal. My haikus were too “overt.” My short stories were too “incohesive.” Most of the class did find my poems amusing though, if only because of their twisted nature.

To my defense, unlike most of my college classmates, I never was big fan of fiction literature. The scope of my repertoire included RL Stine’s “Goosebumps” in elementary school , and a healthy dose of Michael Crichton and Stephen King in middle school. After that, my passion for fiction waned. In high school, I only read works like “The Great Gatsby” and “Huckleberry Finn” because it was required, not for the sheer pleasure of it. This is not an indictment against my English teachers, but reading a few classics is the only thing I really remember about English classes. The technicalities of grammar and syntax were never a priority to me. As a result, I now probably couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it. The seven parts of speech also remain cloaked in an illusive fog of unknowing.

To exacerbate the issue, my mom recently (and gently) informed me of my constant confusion of”its” and “it’s” in my writing. Must have slept through that portion of class.

I highlight these experiences to bring up this point. There are many reasons I maintain a blog, but one important reason is to keep me accountable, sharp, and, indirectly, humble. Publishing a post is a bit like subjecting oneself to a circle of constructive criticism. And while I enjoy every encouragement I get, I know I need every careful rebuke maybe even more. In many cases I’ve gotten a response from a lone search engine peruser who leaves much for me to chew on and gives perspective on matters I’d never have even considered. As far as I know most of them never even return, but I still have gained insight from their stated view even when I completely disagree with it.

Sometimes when publicly wrestling with difficult theological issues I’m sure my writing can sometimes be too snarky, sloppy or dismissive. Like a Southwest Airlines mechanic, sometimes a few loose screws and bolts need to be tightened down in my opinions. In those cases, I appreciate a little friendly opposition. Because, “better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

When I bristle at constructive criticism that only reveals the remnants of the old nature that still lie latent me. As the first couple was ashamed at their nakedness, I can be ashamed of being proven wrong or not being validated by my peers in every way. What really is at work is a prideful disposition that rises up from the heart with this snooty protest: How dare someone think differently than me!

So I’ll say what sometimes is impossibly hard for me to admit: Thank God people think differently than me. This life would otherwise be incredibly boring and uninspired. And my Creative Writing skills would remain plain awful, other than just moderately awful.

P.S. Please leave me an encouraging comment. Any and all disparaging marks will be moderated and swiftly deleted from my blog queue.

Bryan Daniels

The Persecuted Church: A Widow Married To The Burning Stake

This is an account from the “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”:

Ann Audebert, was an apothecary’s wife and widow, martyred at Orleans, A.D. 1549. She, going to Geneva, was taken and brought to Paris, and by the council there adjudged to be burned at Orleans. When the rope was put about her, she called it her wedding-girdle wherewith she should be married to Christ; and as she should be burned upon a Saturday, upon Michaelmas-even; “Upon a Saturday,” said she, “I was first married, and upon a Saturday I shall be married again.” And seeing the dung-cart brought, wherein she should be carried, she rejoiced thereat, showing such constancy in her martyrdom as made all the beholders to marvel.

A Picture Worth a Thousand Blog Posts

And I gripe about bills, diapers, summer humidity and reruns.

In the world of fast food meals and instant gratification it seems the greatest scourge on our society is personal boredom. Our modern cultural Christian idea of persecution is a “Happy Holidays” ad campaign during Christmastime. But the early church rejecters of Roman paganism and dark age dissenters of Roman Catholicism knew persecution to be a violent bloody affair; just like the cross they confessed with steel resolve. If you look for them in history, there is a staggering host of saints baptized in the sufferings of Jesus. The simplicity and power of the gospel overtook them and made body and goods a light thing to behold.

There are even a staggering number of saints being persecuted unto death across this world right now as you read this. Do we really think a high self esteem sustains them and their families? A hope of coats and boats? Dogmatic moral platitudes? No, they are people who would say with Paul: I exalt alone in the “cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14) The trinkets of the fallen world system no longer fascinate them, rather it is all dead to them. To serve the One worthy Master they had to divorce themselves from all lesser lovers.

May we be like a widow married to a burning stake. And may the eternal hope of the Lamb’s blessed wedding banquet also be our food and drink. Not the fame, fun, fortune, food or drink that will soon perish.

Bryan Daniels