God Can Play Favorites

At nighttime when I put my son, Josiah, to bed I ‘ll whisper into his ear, “You’re my favorite four-year old…” and he’ll finish my sentence with boyish glee,“in the whole wide world!”

My wife and I will sit in the bed at night and conclude together that two boys couldn’t be more cherished than ours. I’m sure it is a common experience for the average parent. Parenting is a beautiful, frustrating, rewarding, costly experience.

I remember seeing the bumper sticker message, “God has many children, but I’m His favorite.” At the time, I thought it was trite and pretentious. But in fatherhood, I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment more.

To the ancient Jew God was a distant, holy, judge with meticulous requirements of strained obedience. To Jesus, much to the disciples shock, God was an all present daddy with a strong tender love (Mark 14:36).

God isn’t constrained in his affections like me. A unique biological bond melds my sons and I together for life. I can’t share that bond with others. But an eternal God who revealed Himself Father can burn with meticulous equal paternal care for many children. If we are “in Christ” then the Father treats us as His own precious begotten Son. The love He has for Christ is shed abroad in our hearts with supernatural efficacy (Romans 5:5). If the Spirit of His Son cries out “Abba!” in us, then the daddy must give His gracious preference to us as His adopted children (Galatians 4:6).

God’s love is so great we can all be His “favorite child.” (1 John 3:1)

And no matter how physically old or theologically wise we become we will never be more than a child.

Our stumbling hardened spoiled rotten hearts can’t violate our position or His affection. Children we are forevermore.

Sometimes Josiah is stingy in sharing toys with Gideon for no discernible reason, sometimes Gideon pitches a hysterical fit when we deny him chocolate kisses. At the end of tough parenting days, I hug them and kiss them and I’m as proud of them as the first day we met in the hospital.

Their position as my sons can never be broken by circumstance or disobedience.

Neither can our positions as His sons and daughters. Forevermore.

God signed the covenant with His own Son’s perfect blood. Christ’s blood is thicker than water, unfaithfulness, addictions, rebellions, selfishness and in the end: death.

Bryan Daniels

That Moment You Lose Your Two Year Old Son

You know that moment when you’re at your in law’s house and you’re laying on the couch recovering from the eight pounds of spicy chili you just ate for lunch and your mother in law and four-year old son come in from working in the garden and your wife asks, “Where’s Gideon?” your two-year old son and your mother in law says in bewilderment “I thought he was with you!” and everyone freezes for one second like they were slapped in the face and then four adults sprint and scatter to separate corners of the large property where ditches and tractors and busy roads are now seen as death traps and they almost leave your four year old behind in the process and the world slows down to a stumbling pace and a fog develops around the corners of your eyes and you ask the neighbors if they’ve seen a two-year old riding on a four-wheeler and they ask, “You let a two-year old ride a four-wheeler?!” and you want to explain that it is battery-powered and slow but you don’t have time so you keep running and scouring the perimeter of the neighborhood in a breathless panic and you scream “Gideon!” what seems like a million times fearing the unspoken worst and knowing your wife is about to pass out about right now and you sprint back to your house two doors down and check the back yard and see nothing but toys and you feel like this moment will change your life forever as a dark cloud approaches your hope and you yell at your next door neighbor standing in his driveway  “Gideon’s lost!” and he looks at you with a puzzled expression and points and says

“He’s right there standing next to your front door”

And you round the corner to see your little red-headed boy playing with the faucet, thirsty, waiting for you to come home, wondering what all the fuss is about

Has that ever happened to you?!

Bryan Daniels

I Have A Blood Brother (or Two)

I have a blood brother.

A ketchup blood brother. When I was five years old, my family hosted an exchange student for a year. He was a seventeen year old from The Netherlands. His name was Jan. He loved Larry King Live, Pop Tarts, and WWF.

Sitting at dinner one night, towards the end of his stay with us, Jan opened up a ketchup bottle. He poured a tad on his wrist, and poured a tad on mine. We clasped hands and rubbed our wrists together. “Now,” he said in his Dutch accent, “we will always be blood brothers.” That tiny condiment made a mark on my five-year-old psyche. A symbol of sworn loyalty.

blood brother

Blood brothers.

Something about shared blood binds people together. A mystical bond that runs deeper than water.  One of the undervalued benefits of redemption, is the beauty that we’re adopted into a family. We’re taken off the dark road to wrath and put into a home as sons and daughters in a divine family.  We have a blood brother in Christ (Hebrews 2:11). Deeper than a red life source or shared genetic code.

We were bought out of our self-imposed slavery with the “precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). This blood is not just smeared on our wrist in a ritualistic display, it covers and cleanses us completely for all eternity (1 John 1:7).

We have a blood brother. We have one who sticks closer than a blood brother (Proverbs 18:24). Ketchup or otherwise.

Jesus. Our elder brother/friend/Bridegroom/King/Savior.

He has sworn His loyalty to us forevermore, and signed that covenant with His blood.

May His mark be on us.

Bryan Daniels

Life Through The Eyes of a 4 Year Old And His Lego Camera

For Christmas, Josiah got a digital Lego Camera. It’s virtually indestructible and the picture quality is circa 1980s Polaroid. I think the pictures kind of have a vintage quality about them. This is home life interpreted through the eyes of a four-year old. The first is a self-portrait. Most of the rest comprise of his favorite subject, his little brother Gideon:

Lego CameraLego Camera Lego Camera Lego Camera Lego Camera Lego CameraLego Camera

Lego Camera

Email me for booking info if you want Josiah and his Leg Camera to capture your family portraits. Between being Spiderman, Bumblebee, and a good big brother his calendar is pretty full these days.

Bryan Daniels

Impossible Love Now

There are some things impossible for God.

Before we whip out Matthew 19:26 like a six-shooter let’s clarify: It should be apparent a God who is holy cannot sin. It should also be clear a God who is logical cannot contradict Himself (though He loves a good paradox).

Let’s take it a step further in a personal direction and say: A God who is Love, cannot love you any more than he does right now.


It would be impossible for God in Christ to love you anymore than He does right at this moment, regardless of where you are right at this moment.

When Paul gropes for words to describe God’s love he starts to sound like a crazy man: The apostle says we need a supernatural divine power to even begin to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesian 3:18).

We may think we’re under a drowning deluge of grace in our understanding, but we’re all really tinkering around in the kiddie pool.

All our mountaintop experiences are foothills.

Or as my Uncle Si once said, “That’s just the icing on the tip of the iceberg!”

This great love is not just for back then when Christ died, or in the future heavenly realm where we’ll live with Him forever, it for the blessed now. He’s applying all those eternal benefits of the gospel to the ever-present now.

A love without condition. Poured out in the present. Greater than our present sin, insecurities, doubts, stumblings and weaknesses. Greater than our ability to comprehend it.

Yes, the Son took away the wrath we deserved, and gave a grace we don’t deserve (2 Cor 5:21). And part of the grace package gifted to us is the ridiculous love the Father loves the precious Son with. It’s lavished on unworthy rebels, sickly kids, prideful hypocrites (1 John 3:1).

Behold this love!

It’s not just a pithy tagline to print on a Christian T-shirt.

It’s a diamond to behold, with every turn and angle revealing another resplendent excellency.

I have a unique love commitment towards my two sons, Josiah and Gideon. We have a deep physical/emotional attachment and bond that penetrates at the soul level. Through the family of God I can love you, but I can’t love you in the exact same way I love my sons. I’m limited in my fatherly affection.

Man’s limitations shouldn’t be projected on God.

The way the Father loves Jesus is the way the Father loves us. If we’re “in Christ” it can be no other way. The affection a tender Father’s heart has toward His only child is mind-boggling. And now in Christ, He has treated us as if we are all His only child.

Like Paul, we can only appeal to hyperbolic language that reaches and grasps at a surface deeper than the Pacific.

That kind of talk gives my brain a crippling charlie horse. Yet it makes my heart flame freedom and life.

It can’t be gripped and digested enough:

God totally approves of you.

God fully accepts you.

God Has sovereignly chosen you.

In Christ: It is impossible for God to love you anymore than He does right now. There is nothing, for all eternity, you could ever do to change that.

Take that, and let it ruin and heal you simultaneously. The first few timid steps into this foothill and kiddie pool will sustain you forevermore.

Bryan Daniels

My Family Crest Can Beat Up Your Family Crest (Unicorn!)

In yesterday’s post I mentioned my Scots-Irish ancestry. After a little prompting from a friend over Facebook about the origin of my family name, “Daniels”, I was pointed towards my Scottish family crest. What I saw delighted me. Behold it in all its glory:

Daniels Family Crest (Glory of the Unicorn)

That’s right.

Look closely to the top center and you will see a certain magical horned creature: The Unicorn. Forget majestic horses or roaring lions or mauling bears. That ancient squirrelly Daniels clan went all out and one upped every other family crest. Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of your enemies like a prancing unicorn. True warriors are we.

William Wallace would be proud.

My family motto is better than yours too.

The Latin words “Nec Timeo Nec Sperno” mean, “I neither fear nor despise.” And I can totally relate. What is there to fear or hate when you’re riding on the bare back of a freakin’ unicorn?! Doesn’t get much better than that, friends.

Peace and grace,

Bryan Daniels

His Laughable Family of Prostitutes and Murderers

Knots in Jesus' Family Tree

We have such a crooked natural disposition towards performance.

While viewing the second installment of The Bible series last Sunday, one truth rose up in crystal clarity above the other muddled scenes (ie: Green Mile Samson Hulk).

The episode started with a deceitful prostitute the Bible calls a hero of the faith (Hebrews 11:31).

It ended with a lying, murdering, adulterer the Bible calls a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

And these wretched scalawags are the royal lineage that leads up to the perfect God Man, King Jesus (Luke 3:23-32). Only God would choose such a laughable line of turds by worldly standards.

The Root of David had a warped family tree.

The Great Shepherd had his share of black sheep in the family fold.

And we honestly think God can’t use our half-hearted, stumbling mess of a life.

Get real.

He only uses half-hearted, stumbling, messes. That’s man’s default posture before Him. All your past, present and future failings were factored into the cross before Adam.

You can’t fear failure when Christ has already proven you’re a failure. It’s the grace that covers and motivates you out of the failure that’s the end of your story.

Not your grave sin.

His great grace.

Bryan Daniels

A Father, a Cul-de-sac, and Chicken Pox

I had a bout of chicken pox.

The childhood sickness that seems to be a rite of passage for elementary age children. After a few days out of school and away from the fort wars of my neighborhood friends I was getting stir crazy. There are only so many He-Man reruns you can reasonably stomach, even as a five-year old.


My childhood neighborhood was a boy’s utopia. Wooded lots to play cowboys and Indians (or in some cases, Germans and Allies). Swimming pools to play Marco Polo. Open front yards to play tackle football. Even a small bayou fishing dock with a resident gator. Plenty of other children to partake in all manner of mischief.

They continued the fun without me.

So I planned my great escape.

Out the door when mom was fixing lunch and on to my bike (my training wheels may have still been on). Down the short road with my adulating friends towards our cul-de-sac. My master minding only took me to our cul-de-sac, I didn’t know what was supposed to happen from there.

Within minutes, Mom caught her prodigal son. She laughed about it.

I wonder what God thinks of His wandering children. Sickly little kids plotting their intricate schemes, to fly out into the world and join the fun. We may be gone for a couple of minutes, impressing the world with our rebellion and mad training wheel skills.

But we’ve never left His cul-de-sac. He’s right there, chasing us down with a smile.

He’s especially a Father to the sickly stumbling schemers. His affections burn unchanged by their fickle changes of heart. It’s never based on their fledgling performance but their free position as His kids.

We can keep imagining Him as an angry mall cop with a mace trigger finger, or see Him as He revealed Himself to be: An intimate Dad who is working the best out for His adopted sons and daughters.

How much does a parent love their sick child?

We can try to run from that love, but we can never hide.

Bryan Daniels

It’s Our Seven Year Anniversary Today….

It’s our seven-year anniversary today.


He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

I’m thankful to God my good thang is a beautiful passionate Jesus-loving red-headed senorita with a killer sense of humor.

She’s a hardworking stay at home mom who gives meticulous care to our two sons, manages and organizes our household, and has successfully started her own business this past year. Because of my lack of mechanical skill she stresses more about household maintenance than any wife should (to my shame I know). I practically have to Google how to replace a light bulb. On top of all this, she has taken on 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 acted like a spoiled rotten little boy for long stretches in our marriage.

We strengthen the theory that opposites attract. She’s short, I’m tall. She leans Wesleyan, I lean Reformed. She’s outgoing, I’m an introvert. She takes the angry bull by the horns, I try to talk the bull out of its anger.

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 5:25-32).

I pray I am much better at cherishing her ten, twenty, and fifty years down the road of matrimony than I am now.

I love you Jessica Lee Daniels. May the only thing that breaks our covenant be death. And even in our stumbling weakness: May we continue to image forth the ancient love affair between the Bridegroom and His bride, as His grace continually enables us.

Bryan Daniels

A Strange Everlasting Love For Bad Guys

My four-year old, Josiah, approached me with his Action Bible last night. Behind his bright brown eyes the wheels of his little inquisitive mind were churning.

Jesus died for bad guys
Jesus died with, and for, bad guys

“Hey daddy, who’s that?” he pointed to a picture of a thorn-crowned man hanging on a cross. (He knew the answer.)

“That’s Jesus”

“But who’s that?” he pointed to the thieves on either side, betraying his real question.

“Two bad guys….Jesus died with bad guys to show that He died for bad guys….because He’s the good guy.”

“Even when we’re bad guys, Jesus died for us and loves us.”

“Oh….I love Jesus,” he said. That little confession from the lips of my child is enough to make a Puritan do the cabbage patch.

At our worst moment, worst sin, worst stumbling, most clumsy tripping and cursing and falling off the cliff of our own foolishness; He loves us in that moment, in the blessed now.

Not what we’ll become when we figure out this religion thing. What we are in the present.

Not when we’ve modified our behavior to appease a cultural Christian standard yoked around our throats. He takes all our hangups and foulups and chokeholds and then crushes the Son with them in an everlasting display of love.

This is an eternal, and to the hardened world, strange love.

Josiah is sometimes illogically mean to his younger brother, Gideon. I am often unfeeling and impatient with my younger weaker “brothers.” Jesus loves us both.

Josiah sometimes doesn’t share his favorite toys with others. I often don’t share my resources and money with the ministries and poor who need it most. Jesus loves us both.

Josiah whines and pitches fits when he has to clean his room. I haven’t washed my car in ages (ever?). My wife can attest to my consistent inability to pick up my shower towels. Jesus loves us both.

Depending on the hour of day, Josiah and I can be cantankerous, immature, unthoughtful, and selfish. We are both grateful for the good guy who loves and died for bad guys.

Like my little boy, I need an undeserving love lavished on me everyday.

A no-strings-attached no-prerequisite-required love new every morning.

The lifelong confession of professional stumblers and bad guys can never be more simple or profound:

Jesus loves me and died for me.

Bryan Daniels

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