This Is My 100th Blog Post (And Confetti Explodes)!

According to my WordPress site stats this is my 100th published post for “Chief of the Least.” (Thank you, Thank you, no really stop applauding maniacally) My first published post was October 22nd of last year. In under 11 months, I’ve averaged a little less than 10 posts per month. I’ll take this awe-inspiring crowning achievement to briefly reminisce over a few posts and nuggets of knowledge I have gained in this process.

Here are the top 3 most viewed posts of all time on the site:

1. “Rob Bell: Does Universalism Really Win in The End?”

2. “White Guys Who Listen To Christian Rap and The Girl Named World”

3. “Call of Duty: A Call To Biblical Manhood”

Here are the top 3 most commented on posts all time (admittedly, many of these comments are mine!):

1. “Sister Wives: Neither Nice Nor Biblical”

2. “‘Tis The VBS Season: No Sinner’s Prayer Required”

3. “How Christ Came To Me: And How I Ended Up In The Back Of A Cop Car”

Staying somewhat consistent and disciplined with writing has been a challenging and edifying experience. Here is what I have learned about maintaining a personal blog the past year:

1. Don’t count the stats

I know in the previous section I did just this. But I am talking about obsessive exhaustive bookkeeper type tabs on your blog stats. You will not miss much in a day or even a week if you fail to visit your site stats, especially if you are just getting started. Frequently checking your stats could be the vehicle that steers you away from maintaining your blog. Here’s why: You just spent dozens of minutes ; ) of your valuable time creating a post that will cure cancer and bequeath world happiness…and only two people have viewed it since Tuesday. Bummer.

Internet traffic doesn’t just magically appear in droves until you start putting up consistent content over a period of time. Maintain a blog for the enjoyment of it, not to get a platform or get a message “out there.”

2. Be consistent

You will never compete with Tim Challies, so don’t try. If you attempt to you will get burned out. Though my blogging activity has waned as of recent, during the height of my production last summer I was still only averaging 2.68723 posts a week. Consistency is a key to earn faithful readers. Frequent blog visitors should be able to visit your site 2-3 times a month and every time see some fresh content.

You’re not in a race with those brilliant and prolific Pyromaniacs, you’re on your own journey at your own disciplined pace.

3. Be concise

I’m a sucker for flowery rhetoric. But a blog format is not the place to wax poetically. Internet visitors usually just scan blogs for useful content and rarely ever sit and chew on what they have read. I’m guilty of writing a whole paragraph what could be said in one simple sentence. I rarely get diarrhea of the mouth but I frequently get diarrhea of the type-pad. A post much more over 500 words will induce ADD fuzziness in the most committed readers.

Targeted simplicity is the key to communicating any given message. Ernest Hemingway would have been a successful blogger.

4. Be uniquely personal

If people want to dig deep into lofty theological musings or political commentary they already have their trusted sources. John Piper and John MacArthur have the reformed theological market on lock and will represent biblical Christianity much more succinctly and profoundly than I every could. Don’t get into the habit of saying what an ESV Commentary has already said. Readers would much rather know what your uniquely personal take is on family, culture, church and life in general.

How does God relate to me at home when the babies are screaming, the wife is flustered and I have a million papers to grade for school? Inquiring readers would rather know that than some regurgitated thoughts I have borrowed about the hypostatic union.

Visitors want a refreshing read with real unique perspectives on the actualities of life, not a theological treatise from a random internet source. If you are having a good day, bad day, or blah day let your readers know.

Those main four points are what I have gleaned thus far from my rookie blog experience.

I’m looking forward to what God has in store for this blog in the next year. If you are a frequent lurker, reader, or commenter, thank you for letting “Chief of the Least” be a small part of your life!

Bryan Daniels

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

“Rastafarian Polygamous Women”, and “How Painful Is The Rapture?”

There are some mild surprises associated with maintaining your own blog.

On my WordPress blog stat page it shows how some people find my site (not all). When a person finds my site by typing key words in to a major search engine that information is provided to me. I have seen some interesting search items the past few months. Many have absolutely nothing to do with the article I wrote. Some are amusing, and I wish I could know the story behind those.

Here are three of the more funny/absurd/outrageous search items according to my faltering memory:

“Rastafarian Polygamous Women”

I wrote an article (my very first blog article!) on the Christian rapcore band P.O.D. (Payable On Death). It is titled “A Debt to P.O.D.” In it I happen to state that some of the band’s style and sound seem to be influenced by the “Rastafarian” movement. That is the only time I have ever mentioned anything “Rastafarian” on my blog.

A few weeks after that article I wrote an article on the TLC show “Sister Wives,” that was a biblical critique on their Mormon Polygamous lifestyle. That article titled, “Sister Wives: Neither Nice Nor Biblical” is worth taking a look at if you want to see me get tangled up with an Internet Mormon apologist in the comments section.

I guess the mighty web crawlers paired “Rastafarian” in one article with “Polygamous” in the other, and some dreaded up Jamaican stoner who just converted to Mormonism happened to find my site as a result.

“How Painful Is The Rapture?”

This dude left behind a snazzy suit, perfectly good cup of joe, and an....inhaler?!

This person, presumably a Christian planning on eventually getting “caught up”, found my site right after the Harold Camping countdown craze. Instead of wanting to know how biblical the doctrine of the Rapture was, he/she wanted to know if the Rapture was going to throw his/her back out on the wild ride up.

Well, if the Rapture is anything like that Slingshot ride that used to be out at PC beach I share their concerns. That junk hurt my head.

Instead of a clear answer on the matter, the web gods referred them to my article that provided a brief rapture survival guide for the UNbeliever. They still got some sound advice out of that post, and maybe a chuckle or two if they had a sense of humor.

“Elephant Porn”

This is one of the most recurring search items in my stats. Unlike the others, it is neither funny or mildly amusing, but simply sad and disgusting. If a person does not believe in the depravity, and I mean TOTAL depravity, of mankind I present to you exhibit A.

The article they are referred to is this one: “Porn: The Vile Invisible Elephant In The Church.”

My prayer is that the pervert(s) searching for such an atrocity may actually read the article and have some semblance of conviction or repentance produced in them by the grace of God. Porn is indeed a filthy animal we must not neglect to call out and be honest about within the church. Men, wives and families are dying a slow spiritual death because we are content with keeping this sin a dirty little secret.

So, sometimes perusing my top searches can be an eye-opening heart-piercing experience. From levity to depravity, maintaining a website brings to light both.

My fellow bloggers, any “top searches” to your site you would like to share?

Why I Write/Have a Blog (in no particular order)

1. I enjoy it. I know, not too profound. But for some odd reason, I find writing cathartic. When I get lost in a verse, a thought or a sentence it feels like a natural process, an outworking of some inward stirrings. Some guys golf or hunt to unwind. I write.

I don’t do it because it’s a duty (like grading papers), I do it because it is like throwing a football or drinking a good cup of coffee to me.

I’ve never been into journaling my thoughts by pen, and that is partly because I have the handwriting skill of a drunk five-year old. Seriously, “handwriting” was the only subject I got a “U” in (for Un-satisfactory) during kindergarten. So my blog serves as a functional online journal for me, a record of my weekly musings I would otherwise not keep.

2. It blesses me. Really, if there were no audience or blog platform I would likely still write. In my early college years I once began an essay on “Jesus-The Bridegroom’s” relationship with His “church-bride” from an ancient Jewish cultural perspective. This wasn’t a class assignment but simply an area of interest. About one hundred single spaced typed pages later, my concentration began to taper off. No one has read the paper in full and I probably will never share it with anyone (some of it is poorly written and theologically weak).

But writing sometimes brings a deeper joy than the surface level satisfaction of reason #1.

In my college writing project I learned a lot in my studying about ancient Jewish culture, the book of Song of Solomon and even eschatology. So I was blessed to come to a deeper understanding of the Bridegroom’s radical love for His church (me) and how He desires a deep relationship with us.

As St. Augustine said, “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

3.To bless others. I always hope my sometimes ignorant musings will bless someone somewhere in someway. I don’t want to keep my light under a bushel if anyone may benefit. It can be borderline arrogant to presume I have something to say or that I deserve to speak into another’s life.

I struggle with that sometimes.

But when another gives positive feedback or an encouraging word it does affirm that I am not just speaking to a wall or typing into an inanimate object. And, as CS Lewis once stated, “One compliment can last me a whole month.” It is a sober reminder that there are souls on the other line, and it is a humbling endeavor to communicate a message that may edify them by the grace of God.

I know it sounds unspiritual if I don’t overtly say I write “for the glory of God.”  Though it is true, in my opinion that phrase is beginning to get overworn in contemporary Christian language. I believe when humans delight in the common graces of God (writing, sports, kids, etc.) for what they are, then God’s glory is in view in a distinctly beautiful way. In other words, instead of saying it in an obligatory manner (“for the glory of God!”), it is better to just show it.

So for my own joy and blessing, and for the good of others and glory of God, I try to faithfully maintain a blog.

Besides, it’s much easier on my pride than staring daily at the inebriated scrawlings of a kindergartener.

Bryan Daniels

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