John the Baptist Eats Bear Grylls Babies For Breakfast

I appreciate the ministry of Paul Washer. He has a cutting way of encouraging young men to…man up. Yet Washer is considered by many in cultural Christianity to be a bit rough around the edges, too extreme, and too passionate in his plea for sinners (like me) to repent and cast themselves on the mercy of Christ.

I submit that those charges sound eerily familiar to a biblical character of the New Testament:

John the Baptist.

John the Baptist called seemingly sincere people seeking to be baptized by him a “brood of vipers.” He exclaimed vehemently the uncompromising message of broken repentance before the Messiah to any one with a functioning ear (Luke 3:7). He caused a curious stir among communities in Israel and garnered radical disciples to his ministry. He resided in desert caves, ate locusts and wild honey for breakfast, and dressed himself in camel-hair. I’m pretty sure he’d make Bear Grylls look like a cake eating mamma’s boy. John the Baptist was the original Chuck Norris, the only difference being that he was actually good at acting (according to Jewish historian, Josephus; )).

Now think of the ministers you know.

I am not suggesting preachers should take their dietary and fashion tips from a first century Nazarite Jew, but think about the ones you know or have seen on television. What strikes you most about them? Clean cut, with an inordinate amount of hair gel? Politically correct? Bleached teeth? Funny jokes? Nice suits and polished shoes? Great story tellers? Agreeable disposition? Typically, the sermon consists of three crisp points with a couple of relevant illustrations thrown in for good measure (maybe a lighthearted anecdote or two). None of these characteristics are bad in and of themselves, but unashamedly displaying them from the pulpit doth not a preacher make.

John was a real man.

A man’s man. A wild man. A real wild man’s man. A…you get the picture. His tone was blood earnest. His conviction unwavering. For the sake of the Bridegroom he chose to tear into his audience instead of tickling them (Luke 3:3). His weighty material directly flowed out of his love for Christ. Without displaying the sinful state of his audience they could never see their need for repentance, and without repentance they would never see their need for grace. He spoke the truth in love. But he spoke the truth. John loved his audience enough to tear their world apart in order for the Bridegroom to come and gently pick up the pieces. It was his prophetic calling.

Docile manners are not a virtue Scripture esteems greatly (neither am I saying niceness is a vice in Scripture).

The perfect man, Jesus, loved deeply, but he never was deemed “nice” by his closest followers. He was a table turning blasphemer to the most religious folk of His day.

The prophets of old loved their Jewish brethren, but none of their hearers would suggest “nice” as being one of their primary attributes. Broken hearted, men of sorrow, who spoke of shocking judgment coming to the unrepentant nation. Not nice. Not safe. Not sanitary.

The mighty blazing seraphim do not fly around the throne of God in exalted worship singing “NICE! NICE! NICE! Is the Lord of Hosts!” (read Isaiah 6:3, just read that whole chapter for a mindblow!)

Political correctness is the not an utmost concern of the Bridegroom’s friends. A tranquil American church currently majoring in manners watches as the world is dying under the weight of its own sin. It’s not nice to allow the winds of culture to dictate the force of our gospel message, especially when eternal life is at stake.

Sometimes a good sermon is like a roundhouse kick to the soul…just ask my boy John.

Bryan Daniels

Get off Facebook! BE A MAN!

Paul Washer is one of my favorite voices in the recent Reformed movement. He’s passionate, radical, sometimes abrasive and frequently offends his audience…probably just as a forerunner to the Bridegroom should do (just look at that rough and tumble wild man John the Baptist!) A healthy 1/3 of the sermons on my IPod are from Paul Washer with Piper, Chandler and Driscoll compiling the rest.

I know it seems hypocritical and a bit ironic to post a video rant about Facebook on a blog, especially when it is likely this will be shared via Facebook. There is more here than just an epic rant I assure you. Biblical manhood is Washer’s main focus, and I believe FB and the social media craze in general has an unhealthy grip on both young men and women. A majority of women age 18-35 check their facebook account’s in the morning before they even pee. That’s some news, folks. I share a generation that values a self-indulgent stalker tool over the basic essential bodily functions and needs.

I probably already have YOU!

Though there is much to lament about our societal fixation with the trivial (Trolololo Man, I regret to indict you), I know the Holy Spirit has the power to break through the self-inflicted distractions of our lives. I hope Washer’s message doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Godly men will not be found until grown boys repent of their wayward consumption of entertainment and social media.

And I’ll admit, I should be the first one in that line.

Bryan Daniels

Why You Should (Maybe) Stay Single

Marriage is a beautiful covenant to be shared with your best friend and children are a blessing from the Lord.

In the Genesis account God creates Adam, the man, first and gives him the freedom to name and have dominion over the animals. When Adam is finished with this great task God turns back to him, the lone man, and creates the perfect woman to complement him, Eve. The account says the two lived “naked and unashamed.”

I don’t know exactly what type of marital bliss the two experienced with one another before the fall but the word “unashamed” assumes a few things: What they experienced as a couple was a guiltless, free, honest, open relationship void of any social constraint or embarrassed self-consciousness. Most importantly this was their posture with God before the inception of sin, total guiltlessness and free from the shame of sin. The Bible is not specific with how long the couple enjoyed this state, and in Genesis 3 we learn of a deceiver that comes in to their life to malign God’s word and destroy their covenant with one another. By their disobedience and taking Satan’s word over God’s the honeymoon comes to an abrupt end and sin’s children of shame, pain, and toil were birthed.

One point of interest is commonly overlooked here. The order of events in the Bible are not inconsequential. Look again at this: Satan did not begin his assault on Adam or Eve until they were a couple under the marriage covenant of God.

Now, I know singleness has its own unique set of challenges and insecurities. But a cursory look at the tabloids, facebook, shows, movies and music reveals a telling indictment on our culture. It’s one of our golden calves, an idol called ” the relationship.” It seems the only thing we fear more than death is loneliness. Everyone, unequivocally, wants to meet “the one.”

As the Genesis 3 account alludes, we run into a problem here. Marriage does not make life emotionally easier for the companionship seeker, in reality it makes life substantially harder. Satan’s greatest delight is in making the institution of marriage a deplorable scandal. If he does that he can also placard the covenant God has with his church in a similar manner (Ephesians 5).

Marriage is under attack, less in the political sense (to the chagrin of radio shock jocks), but rather in the more dangerous spiritual sense. It has always been under vicious attack from the very beginning.

The single person may have been “graced” by God with this singleness for a season. Again, marriage is a beautiful covenant to be shared with your best friend and children are a blessing from the Lord. But marriage is hard. Just as with Adam and Eve, Satan wants to destroy its participants. Men and women who are addicted to porn, facebook, call of duty, shopping and self in general need not apply.

It’s not a question of perfection, but rather projection: where are we going with our life and is Christ leading us there?

Men, if we can barely pay our own bills, have no savings, have an XBox addiction, live with our parents, know more about Steve Jobs than Jesus, and treat women like a hill to be conquered, DO NOT TRY TO GET MARRIED. I’m not saying God cannot purge you of those maladies while you’re married (because He has had to with me), I am saying it will be done with a lot more turmoil and heartache in the context of marriage. Those strongholds in our life don’t just magically dissipate with the signing of a marriage license. They die hard. 

With the prospect of marriage, you are saying you are ready to support financially, spiritually, and emotionally both a wife and children.

If we don’t have our life in some respectable order what makes us think we can add another needy soul (wife) or souls (children) to that mix without disastrous results? Multiply your current weaknesses by at least three when a child is added (as he should be in marriage) into the fray. Marriage with children is not for the faint of heart, it’s really another way to die to the flesh so your partner may flourish and Jesus be glorified.

Marriage is not for those with fanciful illusions of champagne and roses, it’s for those who wish to serve their “other” sacrificially the way Christ served the church. With forgiveness always outstretched even when the heart is wounded.

Twenty five year old Peter Pans with beards aren’t ready for it. Thank God for his grace and your singleness if that may be you.

Again don’t get me wrong:   

I am absolutely in love with my wife, Jessica, and our son, Josiah. Marriage is a beautiful covenant to be shared with your best friend and children are a blessing from the Lord. But before we start thinking seriously about it, let’s first put on our big boy pants (not those emo skinny jeans) and pry the Android out of our hands. Too much is at stake to do otherwise.

Bryan Daniels

“Call of Duty”: A Call to Biblical Manhood

The tension was palpable. But after months of anticipation the much awaited arrival of the ultimate video game has been officially given unto us.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops” is this generations “new Nintendo.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released worldwide on November 9, 2010 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS consoles.

Yes, Nazi Zombies....

Black Ops gives every boy and man-child an opportunity to team up with fellow gamers to fight Cuban armies, communist gulags, and…..Nazi zombies?!

In past generations, young American men spared life and limb to fight actual enemies for their God, family and country. Now young American men spare a meaningful life and relationships to fight virtual enemies in the comfort of their bean bag chair. The disparity is slightly sickening.

Young men are looking for something to fight for. What they have chosen is Bill Gates dream, not God’s. One of the high-school seniors in my class waited outside of a store for hours with many other Call of Duty-ers to be the first to purchase “Black Ops” when the clock hit 12:00 AM on Tuesday. He immediately went home and started playing it until he had to go to school that same morning. He went to school and when he got out he went directly back to playing the game until 12:00 the following morning. On Wednesday morning, he looked like a “Nazi zombie” (minus the ‘Nazi’ I guess) in my math class.

Gaming addictions are some of the worst kind.

Middle and high schoolers are not the only victims of this gaming disease. Unfortunately, a large segment of twenty something college and career aged men have contracted it. They should be finding a career, getting married, rearing children, and at the very least moving out of their parent’s house. Instead they are settling for notoriety of their “thumb skills” and ”E-hard” status.

A whole generation of young women are still waiting for their respective “Peter Pans” to awaken from their self induced Never-land’s.

I am certainly not innocent. Though I haven’t been legitimately addicted to a game since PlayStation’s (the first one) NCAA Football 2000, the fleeting attraction of technology still has its grip on me. I spend too much time watching ESPN and perusing meaningless Websites, instead of actually pursuing the knowledge of God, leading my family, and loving people.

Young men need something to fight for. Young men are even created for something to fight for. And though there is not the same type of “World War global crisis” the men of old were beckoned for, there is a very real war and real global crisis contemporary men have been called to.

There is a spiritual war calling for the enlistment of real men.

In Isaiah 32:2 we see a captivating picture of biblical manhood. It states that the good man will be “like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” The verse shows the man as protector and guardian, as life-giver and as the firm rock for others. Married and single men are made to defend and protect their family, friends, church, community and country from spiritual attacks of all sorts.

Real men don’t fight fake zombies, they cast down real strongholds that stand between them and the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

This is done with the deadly gospel weapons of Scripture and prayer (Eph 6). This is done by cultivating real fellowship that edifies, challenges, and encourages fellow warriors in the battle of life. What is at stake is not a high score or temporary bragging rights, but the fame of God’s holy name and an eternity in heaven and hell (Malachi 1:11).

I am not calling for a moratorium on fun, or a misguided form of fundamentalist separatism. Maybe just an honest evaluation of our values will do. Maybe we all need to take a heart inventory of what (or who) we truly love, and what we truly desire to pour our time and resources into.

Maybe what is gripping us is also what is killing us.

Maybe there really is something to fight for. Maybe it isn’t a “Call of Duty” but a call for the restoration of Biblical Manhood.

Bryan Daniels