2012 Chief of the Least Blog Year-In-Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for “Chief of the Least.” I share this because you guys (readers, lurkers, subscribers) are the reason for this blog’s existence.  I am consistently encouraged and grateful for the cloud of e-witnesses I’ve come to know through blogging. Thanks for your involvement, may God bless your pants off (figuratively) this new year…

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Chief of Least Twitter Year-In-Review

A short journal of the year that was for me in pithy sarcastic 140-characters-or-less tweets. As you can see, I can rarely be taken seriously within the bounds of Twitterland. If you can handle the random cheese, follow me up:

Bryan Daniels

A Resolution That Can Never Be Broken….Ever.

Tis the season to make half-hearted resolutions to Hollywood Diets and 90 Day workout programs!

As we embark on a fresh New Year, a chance to call “Do Over!”, and an opportunity to rededicate, we may need to pause a bit before the ball drops and the confetti cleanup ensues.

In my opinion:

The gist of our modern Christianity is akin to a perpetual New Year’s Resolution.

Behavior modification dominates much preaching and teaching in the church. The thrust of so many Christian messages is about doing stuff: Pray longer, Give more money, Witness more, Invite a friend, get an accountability partner, help the poor, get a quiet time, become a leader…Try harder to be a better husband, employee/employer, father, citizen, dog owner, etc. etc. etc.

Do do do, go go go, try try try….and we reduce the beauty of the gospel mission to a Nike commercial.

We have such a propensity to work-related righteousness and commitments we may forget that Christ has made a resolution to us that will never be broken:

In Christ, God has resolved to love us with an eternal commitment. This resolution was not built on the sifting sand of human will but was signed, sealed, and delivered by the blood of His own dear Son before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:13). This commitment to us isn’t just for the New Year, it is new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

The basics of the gospel blows away the minds of mighty angels  (1 Peter 1:12). The blazing seraphim near the throne and Michael the sword-wielding warrior can’t comprehend why such a holy King would condescend to love such weak sinful men. We treat the gospel like a trite prayer tacked on the end of a sermon, or a kiddie pool we have to enter to go on to deeper spiritual waters. The Gospel, which reveals the glory of God in Jesus Christ, is the deepest thing in all the world(s).

Angels aren’t impressed by our great exploits for God, they’re impressed by God’s great exploits for us in the gospel.

The gospel tells us that there is nothing we can ever do to make God love us more than He does right now. It tells us there is nothing we can ever do to make God love us less than He does right now. Over 170 times in the NT the term “in Christ” is used to connote those who have been apprehended by God’s grace. God loves His Son with an unbroken perfect love and if we are IN CHRIST, God must love us in the SAME EXACT WAY (John 17:26).

We bring nothing to the table and yet are given everything.

No wonder angels are so perplexed.

Why would God love fallen broken humanity in the same way He loves His spotless precious obedient Son?

Why would God make a once and for all resolution to such disobedient despondent wretches?

This New Year may we look to Christ and His commitment to us in the gospel with angel-like longing, and may it birth heaven-like worship in our hearts. Let’s resolve to be captivated by God’s curious resolution to love us, in 2013 and forevermore.

Peace and grace this new year.

Bryan Daniels

It’s the end of the world….and I feel fine….

The world 1.

The Mayans 0.

The world is still undefeated against predictions of its apocalyptic end.

funny-mayan-end-of-the-world-quote

Enjoy your weekend and Christmas if I don’t see you around before then.

His peace and grace be upon you and yours.

Bryan Daniels

This Christmas I Want To See Jesus Riding On His Horse

As I sat back in my recliner last night my four-year old son, Josiah, approached me. I was easing the pain of a newly inflamed slipped disc that has seemed to be playing the bongos on my sciatic nerve the past couple days. Almost everyone has noticed I’m walking with a sizable limp, less like a 29-year-old young man and more like an elderly arthritic woman with a plastic hip.

The daily news blared in our living room. As talking heads heralded shootings, fiscal cliffs, and injustices worldwide my little boy approached me. He was holding his “action” bible, an impressive work with DC comic illustrations peppered among Old and New Testament commentary.

Action-Bible-190x290

“Daddy, I want to see Jesus riding on his horse.”

It was from the Revelation portion, the end of story: a conquering warrior King wielding a sword riding atop his white horse while leading an angel army into a fierce battle with a snarling multi-headed red dragon.

“I do too, baby,”

I said as I took the book and strained to lift him up to my lap.

My son doesn’t understand the weight of recent news. And he has been taught the wonder of the incarnation, that Ancient-of-Days-arriving-into-human-flesh-Christmas-mystery (Isaiah 9:6).

But an innocent infant who poops himself and needs his mom doesn’t quite resonate with a wonder filled boy who sleeps with his Transformers and Spider Man toys.

He already has a baby brother.

He wants to know a conquering Cowboy King with a tattoo down His thigh who slays bad guys and dragons (Revelation 19:16).

I do too.

May our baby “Christmas Jesus” never be separated from the Sovereign one who wins forevermore. As we behold the nursing babe in cave, may we also see the horrifying cross, the breathtaking resurrection, and the only King who fights and conquers every injustice on our behalf.

Forget the “war on Christmas”, Christ is a fierce warrior who is well able to defend Himself.

And in a similar way, may our prayer this season be to our heavenly Father:

“Daddy, I want to see Jesus riding on his horse.”

Bryan Daniels

Is Punching Cats The Cure For Manboobs? The Internetz knows….

(Please don’t take any of this seriously)

People are delightfully weird.

I appreciate this.

Because deep down, so am I (as my wife can attest).

Every few months I peruse the “search terms” tab in my dashboard for the sheer enjoyment of basking in other people’s quirky internet search items. For the record, the overwhelming way most people find “Chief of the Least” using the mysterious algorithms of SEO is by looking for “awkward christmas photos.”

Supposed internet anonymity brings out the latent weirdness in folks.

As pointed out in a previous post, many people come to my neck o’ the internet through searching “Rastafarian Polygamous women.” Somehow a post I wrote on Mormonism and a separate post that mentions Rasta music got hopelessly intertwined as they traversed the high-speed internet. I’m sure some Bob Marley lovin’ stoner with a sexual addiction was displeased when he found my blog.

Here are some more recent search term gems I’ve dug up for your pleasure:

“p90x insanity manboobs”

I’ve done both “Insanity” and “P90x” workouts in past. Both regimes have their positives, but I can’t really say either combats the serious heart breaking condition of gynecomastia. The most unfortunate phrase for those suffering from this disease is: “Pool Party!” Seriously, the best anecdote is to eat healthy, stay physically active on a daily basis, and find a girl who likes you for you.

“purple haired lady in old testament”

I don’t recall ever studying a purple haired prophetess in Sunday School. Pretty sure I mentioned a notable TBN female character’s, er, “hair extensions”, during a post about an Old Testament prophet. Who knows: Joseph’s coat of many colors could very well be a foreshadowing of some modern Christian TV personality’s mane of many colors.

“cat punch”

I’m not gonna lie. I have fought the urge to punch a cat before. But I don’t think I’ve ever divulged that information to anymore. Except now. They’re so self-assured. So laid back. So bored with you. And at the same time in a feline fit of rage they may unexpectantly maul the living crap out of your ankles. No thanks.

I’m curious what gems you dug up from the dusty recesses of your dashboard? Do share.*

Bryan Daniels

*Please keep it family friendly as possible…

DOOMSDAY MAYAN PROPHECY!!! and the real end of all things…

This past couple weeks in my Geography class have coincided with a section on Latin America. It’s been pertinent to the students, especially since we’ve been able to naturally bring up the ancient Mayan civilization and their doomsday calendar prophecy (supposedly this Friday, December 21st)

I’ve even heard some students mention their parents aren’t making them go to school that day (probably out of fear of Americans not Mayans).

Obviously, I don’t believe such ridiculous claims. Plenty of scholars have given reason to believe the Mayans actually thought their calendar would reset for another few thousand years cycle instead of ending abruptly. People of actual Mayan/Indian ancestry believe Dec 21st is a cause for celebration not doom.

Over-educated old white dudes from America are the ones who artificially drummed up this wacky prediction.

Regardless, people have a natural fascination with eschatology, whether it be through the book of Revelation, Nostradamus, alien/zombie apocalypse, Mayans, or some great climate change holocaust. Even most hardened skeptics believe the earth isn’t going to keep peacefully revolving as is for an indefinite period of time.

The Mayans were advanced in many ways as their art, architecture and complex writing system displays. But there is no reason to believe their prophetic skill is any better than Harold Camping’s fuzzy mathematical end time calculations. Three reasons why this modern Mayan cultural phenomenon is just dumb:

1. They never saw the Spanish Conquistadors coming. Or, even more devastatingly, they never saw the small pox the Spanish brought with them on the boat, which wiped out over 90% of the Mayans in just a few years. They couldn’t see the soon end of the their own civilization but they could see the future end of all the world civilizations? Yeah…

2. Human sacrifice was the norm. Whether to appease the corn god or to dedicate a newly built temple, archaeology has recently dug up 1 and 2-year-old sacrifice victims from Mayan ruins. A culture that legalistically murders its own in droves (some estimates 50,000 a year) doesn’t really seem to be a culture worth obsessing over now. Whatever cataclysmic tragedy the end of the world brings it can’t be much worse than sacrificing your own children.

3. Most importantly: The Mayans absolutely can’t know the exact date of the end of all things. Jesus, the perfect only Son of God, didn’t even know the specific date for the end of all things (Matt 24:36). Only the Father does. Yet people believe God would reveal these deep secrets to a culture of child murderers? What the Son doesn’t know no one else can know. Not Camping, not Nostradamus, not Jehovah Witnesses, not me, not you.

Yet with the most recent Sandy Hook news still fresh in our collective psyche we should be eagerly anticipating a better eternal city with lasting foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). A city where a righteous King will reign with perfect love and justice (Revelation 21).

It really won’t be the end of anything, but rather a great unimaginable Beginning of truer lasting things.

Every last tear wiped.

Every last wrong righted.

I don’t believe it’s coming December 21st, but it’s one day closer than it was yesterday.

Thank God.

Bryan Daniels

Mass Murder Is Why A Suffering Sovereign Came

“Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did. What kind of Savior do we need when our hearts are shredded by brutal loss?

We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.

The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize.

So he came as who he was: the compassionate King. The crushed Conqueror. The lamb-like Lion. The suffering Sovereign.”

John Piper

Read the rest of the article.

Suffice to say last Friday was the saddest news this nation has faced since 2001. As a father of two sons (1 a year away from kindergarten) and a public school educator the heartache was twofold for me.

I hope this reeling nation doesn’t get too obsessed over tertiary political/social issues in this time.

The only agent that can change the hardest human hearts is not of this world or public policy. Saul, David, and Moses were all once murderers turned servants of the righteous King.

The only agent that can comfort the most shattered human hearts is not of this world either. The perfect hands that were wounded on the cross are strong enough to bind our wounds forevermore.

I pray Sandy Hook turns to the “Suffering Sovereign” alone for comfort.

I pray the other broken on looking souls in America do too.

Bryan Daniels

Orcs, Gunmen, and Bad Guys Like Me

While watching a Lord of The Rings Scene my four-year old son, Josiah, caught a glimpse of an Orc, a miserable snarling subhuman warrior for the “Army of Shadows.”

As his inquiring mind processed the battle scene before him, Josiah asked,

“Why is that guy mean?”

Before I could respond he answered his own question:

“Because he’s bad?”

Sounded like a sufficient reason to me:

“Yes, baby, he’s a bad guy.”

Such a description easily rolls off the tongue when encountering hypothetical terrorists on a movie screen. But when the perpetrators become human and the victims flesh and blood it seems our ability for succinct language becomes squishy and vague.

Whether it is the recent murder-suicide by NFL player Jevon Belcher.

Or the more recent Portland mall killings by a crazed gunman.

The response of many public network pundits has been the same the past few years:

Legal experts and resident psychologists will try to psychoanalyze the mind of the killers: social constraints, political persuasions, chemical reactions, or stunted emotional growth are all posited as the source of the madness. The whole world goes straight Dr. Phil in its obsession with the dark mind(lessness) of these murderers.

I don’t want to neglect the socio-economic, genetic, psychological, etc, factors that make up a person’s character. I don’t have anything meaningful to add to the timeless nature vs. nurture debate. But I believe something unfortunate is lost in our culture when we try to process man-made tragedies while altogether omitting words like “evil”, “bad”, or even “depraved” from our vocabulary.

Some times the “bad guys” aren’t just in a movie script.

Whether the heartless violence happens in Arizona, Norway, Columbine, or a mall, the social commentary in the aftermath shouldn’t always swirl around periphery issues like gun control, childhood upbringing, bullying, and poverty. Not that any of these don’t matter. Just that most of this chatter is to the neglect of personal responsibility for the evil actions of an evil man.

I know the world bristles at any value judgment that has moral overtones but that shouldn’t matter.

I want my son to keep this “bad guy” moniker in his vocabulary.

Not because he is “better” than anyone else, but because he could be much worse than anyone else. I want him to see that apart from the grace of God the natural bad guy that lives within his own nature can also manifest itself in horrifying ways.

I want him to see his daddy as one of the “good guys” not because I have anything inherently noble about me, but because I don’t. What separates any good man from the bad man is nothing but undeserved grace through the God Man.

Sometimes my mind goes places I don’t even begin (or want) to understand. I imagine if our thoughts could be projected for all to see we would be horrified, embarrassed, and left utterly friendless in less than a few hours. If we don’t believe in words like “evil” it may be because we haven’t lifted up the floorboards of our own nature and peered in to see what really lies beneath our daily facades.

There is real evil.

There is real invincible grace that trumps real evil too.

That’s the story we should tell. But if we keep denying with our words the natural-born bent toward wickedness in us all, then we’ve denied the need for the overpowering righteous given at the cross (2 Cor 5:21).

And for bad guys like me, there is no other hope in the world but the gospel of Jesus that saves sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)

Bryan Daniels

God Wants To Be Annoyed

I live with my own personal four year old petitioner/investigative reporter. He asks what seems like a 1000 rapid fire questions throughout the day:

What’s that?

Where are you going?

Can I see?

Can I have arcoons (translation: cartoons)?

Can I go to Mimi’s (grandma)?

Can I go to Mickey’s (other grandma)?

Can I go outside?

Can I have a sandwich?

Can I have juice?

Can I (play) fight with you?

Can you fix my train/car/airplane/transformer/monster truck/etc?

Where’s momma?

Where’s Gid (brother)?

And maybe his favorite default question of all, said with boyish wonder:

What happened?!

I’m sure I’ll miss his little inquiries when he becomes a quiet self-confident teenager who believes his pops is out dated and irrelevant. Questions are the mark of humility: as a small child, Josiah knows he doesn’t know the answer to many questions and he trusts someone else to give it to him (me!).

Unlike this fallen impatient dad, the heavenly Father always loves to have His sleeve tugged on, to be incessantly implored, to be uncompromisingly interrogated by His adopted children. He wants us to keep asking, seeking, knocking, and ringing the doorbell like an overzealous girl scout.

Amazing isn’t it? As a whiny son with trivial requests I take this to heart:

God the Father through the blood of His own Son wants to be annoyed by our prayer requests.

Crazy.

Bryan Daniels