Wielding My Sword Tongue Like a Drunken Samurai (Apologies)

I apologize.

I’m coming to the adult realization that if you have personally known me for any significant time at all, then I have probably hurt you in some way with my words (unintentionally I assure you).

In my attempts to appear witty, I can come off as rather snarky. I’m pretty sure people who first meet me have very little clue or context of how to take such poorly formed daggers. I know this because I’ve been bluntly told as much. I once had the opportunity to speak on the holiness of God (Isaiah 6) at my church during the Sunday morning service. One lady friend of the family, a passionate prayer warrior, came to me afterwards with positive feedback. She concluded her gratitude for the message with, “I didn’t know you had it in you…I always thought you were just a punk.” We laughed about it then, but I knew there was some truth in her words.

I wonder how many gospel barriers I’ve constructed with my sharp tongue. And I am proof positive the pithy nature of social media only exacerbates this problem for me.

Such an issue is just a sign of immaturity and undiscipline on my part. It probably comes out of a deep-seated desire to be liked and appear funny to others. To really want to contribute in some way to a given social situation or relationship. I know such an insatiable desire can be relentless and quite insensitive to the spiritual needs of others.

Christianity doesn’t need any Tosh.O impersonators.

Even worse, sometimes I get a twisted satisfaction from making others feel socially awkward. I’m finding what I would laugh at in the movies doesn’t necessarily need to translate into my real world interactions. In reality, I tear others down a little for the ungodly purpose of building myself up.

Fatherhood (and I hope the Holy Spirit) is toning down this natural disposition in me. I see the dire need my two young sons have within them for words of affirmation. Every “Great Job!”, “You’re strong!” “I think you’re awesome!” is soaked up by my three-year old, Josiah, like water into a sponge. Josiah’s moldable and sensitive little psyche is coming to terms with his father’s imperfect love for him, and as a result will set the foundation in his mind for his heavenly Father’s perfect love for him.

As Douglas Wilson says, “Father’s, you are never not speaking about the Heavenly Father to your children. You can never turn that responsibility off.”

With all my relationships, familial and otherwise, the shocking words of Proverbs 18:21 resonates with me:

“The power of life and death is in the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Word-Faith twistings aside, what a weighty and mysterious privilege we have with the very next words that may exit our mouths! If “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” and Matt 5:22 were considered before we uttered the next word our message would be more salty and our recipients would be more blessed. The sheer scope of the biblical exhortation regarding our words is staggering and convicting: John 3:10, Matthew 12:36, Eph 4:15, 29, Colossians 4:6 and more are all a formidable dropkick to the undisciplined wayward tongue.

If I had a manuscript of every word I spoke or typed throughout the day I’m afraid it would look less like those of a disciplined war-time soldier in battle, and more like those of peace time drunken sailor on leave.

Thank God for His grace that not only forgives the sinful speech, but also empowers the speaker to go on and speak better words of truth in love.

So again, I apologize to you if I have ever been too sharp or sarcastic in my conversation (face to face or screen to screen) with you. I’m learning slowly how to edify with words instead of using them as a destructive idle jest. Thank you for allowing me to speak a little in to your life through whatever medium we may interact.

Peace and grace always.

Bryan Daniels

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Massaging Elephants In The Elephant Room

So many people have said what I am about to say so much more thoroughly and clearly. But I just wanted to share four quick observations after reading the manuscripts of  Elephant Room 2. I’m a Johnny-come-lately to the ER2 blog party, partly because I wanted to glean as much info as possible before coming to any conclusions about the parties involved.

I say this as someone who has been impacted greatly by the Walk in the Word radio ministry of James MacDonald. When I was a construction driver for a year I always would look forward to MacDonald’s refreshingly bold expository sermons during the afternoon time slot. They would break up the monotony of Christian-y peptalks and belligerent conservative pundits the air was typically filled with. You can only hear Sean Hannity spew the talking points he stole from Rush Limbaugh so many times before it gets old. I have nothing but respect for James MacDonald and his ministry.

With that in mind, here are four brief observations about ER2 and some of the recent online reactions to it:

TD Jakes Is A Trinitarian And A Modalist?

I still don’t know if TD Jakes is orthodox on the subject of the Trinity. He seems like an amicable guy who was game for the ER2 experience, and as was pointed out, he didn’t have to accept the invitation there. But based on the discussion in question he could be an excellent politician/lawyer/debater in his own right simply because he is masterfully adept at saying much of nothing in a very eloquent manner. At the beginning of the ER2 discussion Jakes initially affirmed the historical biblical understanding of the Trinity, did some fine hermeneutic gymnastics, and then flipped back to modalist language at the closing comments. In the end, he deconstructed the topic so much he was able to practically say (as orthodox pastors nodded approvingly): “Shucks! We’re all just trying to explain the same mystery!” Was it a clear affirmation, a movement towards orthodoxy, or just a play at shady syncretism? I really don’t know. In that regard, I feel ER2 didn’t satisfy the most basic tenet of biblical Christianity: The triune nature of God. Given some of the clear theological minds that were present, that is both unfortunate and a little shocking.

Get off Mark Driscoll’s hairy back

Watchbloggers have jumped on Driscoll like a tick on an inner thigh because of his “association” with the Jakes in the Elephant Room. I watched a closing EP2 video with James MacDonald and a couple notable black pastors summarizing the event. In retrospect, what was most interesting to me is that MacDonald didn’t seem to know, suggest, or really even want Driscoll to bring up the topic of Trinity to Jakes. I am quite certain the topic would have never even been brushed if Driscoll didn’t have the backbone to actually point out the biggest elephant of heresy in the whole room (Jake’s Modalism)…Do you really think Steve Furtick would have broached the subject? Right after Driscoll’s questioning MacDonald almost apologizes on his behalf, gushing over Jakes fruitfulness, stature, and humility to subject himself to such interrogation. Fist bump or not, at least Driscoll brought it up.

Blinded To The Word-Faith Elephant

The other major elephant left unscathed at EP2 was the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel Jakes has propagated numerous times in his preaching ministry. MacDonald assures us it was addressed privately in some back room at some point and Jake’s categorically denied it then and there. That’s nice to know, but most pastors of the Word Faith ilk have shunned the “prosperity gospel” label for some time now (just as new Southern Baptist church plants omit “Baptist” in the title and are named after a body of water or direction instead). Positive confessionism and name-it claim-it type “destiny” preaching is just new lipstick on an old pig (prosperity gospel). Yet again, not a peep or query about it during EP2 from the Evangelical leaders who have been very passionate and bold about preaching the gospel of a bloody Savior, and not a shiny Sedan.

What’s Race Got To Do With It?

Pastor Crawford Loritts pulled the race card pretty quickly after ER2 on all who would question Jakes and his liberal use of false doctrine. Black evangelical leaders who defended orthodoxy were just “jealous” of the mega-church pastor’s success (bet you won’t say that to Voddie Baucham’s face :0), and white leaders needed to be “careful” because they were, well, white afterall. I don’t know how race is relevant to the orthodoxy of a pastor, but it seems we still have a long way to go in race relations when theological discussions turn into race baiting for no good reason whatsoever. As of me writing this, Jakes’ Statement of Faith on his church website still affirms modalistic language. If that is not important enough to confront someone about then the contemporary American church really does know nothing of Scripture, the nature of God, or church history. Getting the nature of God right has eternal implications. Heresy cannot be winked at. The red herring of race has nothing to do with it.

Any thoughts from my dear readers? I’d like to know what you think of the recent turn of events in the Elephant Room 2, the Gospel Coalition, and evangelicalism at large.

Bryan Daniels

Convince Me Who To Vote For (Florida Primary) In 3, 2, 1…GO!

Before you convince me who to vote for let me give some preliminary background info: I’ll be the first to tell you I’m disenchanted with politics in general. If debate fatigue is a transmittable disease then I’ve caught it, and I wish the only cure was more cowbell.

Though I wouldn’t say I’m a Republican fanboy I would say I am an overall conservative guy on most all social and financial issues. I know George W. was a big government politician whose policies aided in the economic downfall we’re all experiencing (Give him some props for beast moments like this though). I know a two-party system will have billionaires and lobbyists on both sides pushing special interests. That said, the Republican candidate has my general election vote tied down for this year at least unless some radical and tangible transformation happens right now in the heart of Obama over the infanticide of millions (60 million since 1973?) of babies in America.

The RNC could prop up a literal Mr. Potato Head for President and as long as he pledged with his cute little removable plastic mouth to protect the unborn my vote would be cast against Obama.

But this Tuesday the Republican primary in Florida is coming down the pike like a runaway Amtrak train upon us, and right now I’m as undecided as a woman buying lipstick. I’ve heard the debates. I’ve heard all the major talking points. The Washington outsider I first had a political interest in bowed out of the race pretty quickly as allegations of marital infidelity became insurmountable.

I’ve been contemplating doing the “Blackaby method” of major decision-making: Just wait until Tuesday and as I walk up to the election booth pray a quick prayer to see if I get a supernatural burning/vision for one of the names on the ballot. That way if my candidate loses I can blame it on God (I kid, I kid).

But seriously, if you would be kind enough to leave a comment, I would like to know my readers reasons for supporting a particular presidential candidate. Keep it pithy and respectful. Please do not spend time on the glaring faults of the other candidates in the field. I already know Newt Gingrich has had more wives than Solomon in his heyday, and RomneyCare wrote the blueprint for Obamacare. I also know Ron Paul used to play in horseshoe tournaments with Abraham Lincoln, and Rick Santorum just has that annoying look on his face a majority of the time (Does anyone else see it? Anyone?!)

Positive argumentation is what will persuade me. Really just the one main reason, at the honest gut level, as to why you are casting your vote for a particular candidate. Thanks.

I’m undecided. Convince me to make a decision.* Ready? Set, GO!

Bryan Daniels

*My vote CAN be bought with free donuts, coffee and/or books by Puritans.

Why You No Laugh At Me No More? (The Married Truth)

From the prestigious e-pages of the novelty weblog “Doghouse Diaries.” Single men, it’s the truth (can I get a married man witness?):

But the real truth is: I  don’t deserve such a caring, passionate, funny, and beautiful woman as my wife, Jessica Lee Daniels. I am daily amazed at how she loves and cares for her three little boys, er, two boys and one man.

I’m proud of her. On top of being my very best friend in the world and the most passionate person I know:

She’s a hardworking stay at home mom who gives meticulous care to our two sons, manages and organizes our household, and works as a booker for an insulation sales company from our home office/bedroom. Because of my lack of mechanical skill she probably stresses more about household maintenance than any wife should (to my shame I know). On top of all this, she has recently helped take on a weekly urban ministry in a rough local neighborhood AND is organizing and revamping the young children’s ministry at our church…and all this WITH dinner duty to boot.

I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to her for every unpicked-up towel, abandoned coffee cup, and loitering pair of shoes I have been responsible for. I have taken for granted her indescribable inherent worth time and time again. I have acted like a spoil rotten little boy more than once for long stretches in our marriage.

So I am thankful for God’s gracious provisional help-meet to me. She is a blessing and a compliment to my many weaknesses as a man. I am learning daily all the practical implications of loving a wife as “Christ loved the church” (Eph 5). I pray I am much better at it ten, twenty, and fifty years down the road of matrimony than I am now.

So men, give your wife a pass if she no longer laughs at your tired middle school level jokes anymore. They were never that funny to begin with and she was just probably giving you a mercy laugh anyways.

But still try to make her smile everyday. She deserves it for putting up with you.

I’m convinced of this: Above every great man is a better woman lifting him up to her level with prayer, service, and unconditional love.

I love you babe.

Bryan Daniels

Time For A Cosmetic Change (Not The Joan Rivers Type)

Just in case you’ve noticed that the website is looking a wee bit different as of late…fear not. Your mind is not playing nasty tricks on you. I’m toying with a new theme. Thankfully, WordPress makes such changes delightfully easy. So if the new car smell wears off this new layout after awhile and I no longer like it I can flip the script back quickly.

This face-lift is entirely reversible…unlike the superficial butcherings of Hollyweird.

I felt a change was needed primarily for two reasons:

1. My son Gideon. He was born just over 10 months ago and I still didn’t have a quality photo up of him on the blog. So as a proud father I changed the “About Bryan” section to reflect the new blessing to our family, and also updated the header pic (which is a picture of Josiah kissing Gideon). The new photos are courtesy of Kansas Pitts. The previous blog header of Josiah was courtesy of Michael Newman. Both are excellent photographers if you are ever in the market for one.

2. User-friendly readability. I can get long-winded on some posts. The previous layout would include each post in its entirety on the home page whether you wanted to read it all or not. The new layout shows you a few teaser sentences and gives you the choice to read the full post. This layout appears more clean to me and makes it easier for frequent readers to quickly track previous posts they may be interested.

Also, the sidebar to the right is more prominently (obnoxiously?) displayed. Some of the links there are the best way to connect and interact with the blog. Please notice the huge “Subscribe” button on top of the right sidebar. I never do this, but let me shamelessly suggest you go ahead subscribe to the blog if you are a longtime unsubscribed lurker or reader. That’s the way to get the quickest blog updates and posts sent directly to your email. I don’t blog everyday so I’m not going to inundate/spam your inbox (promise!)

Hope you enjoy the new look. Peace and Grace.

Bryan Daniels

Love Costs Every Thing-Don’t Buy What The American Church Is Selling

For information on the Love Costs Every Thing Simulcast hosted by Francis Chan visit:incastevents.com/lovecostseverything/

Christ In Youth presents, in association with The Voice of the Martyrs, “Love Costs Every Thing”.

Persecution is a reality for nearly two hundred million Christians around the world. Daily, they risk their lives simply because they believe in Jesus. They could surrender, or convert, or quit but the love of Jesus is worth the sacrifice. For many of them, this road leads to death.

Christ In Youth invites you on a journey around the world. From the jungles of Colombia to the war-torn streets of Baghdad, “Love Costs Every Thing” tells the real-life stories of Christians standing firm in the face of death.

Though persecution is severe, the faithful continue to rise. The church is advancing. God’s people are risking it all in the name of love. And it is worth it, because love costs every thing.

There is more to the Church than the slick marketing campaigns and extravagant buildings of the American sort. Worldwide, our brothers and sisters are suffering for righteousness sake, where whole families are being led like lambs to the slaughter. Jesus promised this to everyone who followed the way of the cross, and the persecuted church is living His words (Matthew 10:16, John 16:33).

This is one reason, of many, I reject the false doctrine of the “Prosperity Gospel” and “Positive Confessionism.” If your theology doesn’t work while your limbs are being lopped of by an angry machete-wielding mob or while your wife is being raped by corrupt government officials then…it…doesn’t…work. And it is patently and biblically untrue. There is only one thing that can happen to “sheep among wolves” and it ain’t pretty.

I’ll defer to the chained apostle, who was well acquainted with being jailed, stoned, whipped, beaten, shipwrecked, hungry, naked, and generally forsaken (2 Cor 11:22-29):

All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Tim 3:12

It is easy for me to write these things from my comfortable living room with a healthy family surrounding me (I thank God for those blessings); God give me the grace to live like a lamb in the face of persecution if called. Amen.

Bryan Daniels

I’m a Winklevoss Twin; God is Faithful

I empathize with the Winklevoss Twins.

No, I’m not born into ridiculous wealth and I have not received ridiculously more wealth riding on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg.

But the sentiments of one of the jaded Winklevoss twins from “The Social Network” resonates with me. Bewildered at the overnight growth of “TheFacebook” (650 people registered the first day) he says, “If I was a drug dealer I couldn’t give free drugs away to six hundred and fifty people in one day!”

I feel him.

When surveying the litany of part-time jobs I held throughout college the one I was probably most ill fitted for was appliance salesman. I couldn’t give free washers and dryers away if I tried. I’m not a closer by any sense of the word and I don’t have that wheelin’ and dealin’ killer instinct. Some people could sell ice to an Eskimo, I’d find it difficult to give away free snuggies to one. On the job, I was there to politely answer any pertinent questions and I tried to stay relatively knowledgable about the product, but employee of the month I was not. In the end, I figured if they really wanted to make a major purchase, they’d do it.

This natural disposition doesn’t necessarily serve me well in the spiritual realm. Mentally I go through a thousand ways a ministry opportunity could fail before I step into it. Too many times, I make baseless assumptions about people’s spiritual state: they’re not ready for the gospel, it’s not God’s timing, it’s not an appropriate situation. I’m not saying I never share the gospel, I am saying my preconceptions get in the way of sharing much more than they should.

This shouldn’t be.

Especially as one called to give free grace away to those who are dead in their sins (Eph 2:3-5). Sharing the gospel is not like talking a dog off a meat truck, it’s more like resuscitating a drown victim with life-giving air.

This is one of the many areas my life doesn’t seem to match up to the biblical reality. And this is where I am thankful that the underlying (and overlying!) thread in biblical reality is not me, but God and His glorious grace through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:6).

I’m reminded of the verse my spiritual mentor shared with me in my early Christian walk. They were the words that had kept him going when the fires of life’s diversity were raging or the fruit of ministry seemed wanting.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. (1 Thess 5:23-24)

Though I am certain there are many areas in my life the Holy Spirit will continue to convict, encourage, and change, I can thank God for this: His mission, His purpose, His calling is not predicated on my impotent ability to muster up faithfulness or boldness, but rather His infinite ability to call and equip whom He pleases while working all things according to how He pleases (Eph 1:11).

My “natural disposition” must bow down to the infinite purposes of a Sovereign King.

Doubt be damned.

And it will be.

And it is.

He is faithful.

He will do it.

Bryan Daniels