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

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

Camping With Captain America

We kissed his little brother good night,

ate our chicken sticks and juice,

and practiced writing our name…along with drawing jets, rocket-ships, and volnados (mix between a volcano and tornado)

Last night I camped out with a cowboy, a Power Ranger, and Captain America, all perfectly wrapped up in one little four year old boy’s body.

We pitched the tiny red tent in the darkened living room, my head resting on a Thomas the Train pillow as the lower half of my body was exposed to the harsh winds of a ceiling fan. An assortment of monster trucks and race cars protected the perimeter. We shot a snake and a werewolf with a bubble blowing handgun.

Evenings like this go too fast. This freckle faced, mama’s brown eyes, bundle of wonder will be a pimple faced hairy teen tomorrow. The next day he’ll be a dashing young man, moving out and moving on to his own harrowing journey of limitless possibilities.

A journey into a real world that needs a real hero to rise up and conquer real werewolves and snakes, especially those that lie latent within.

Maybe one day a nurse will hand him his own beautiful crying child, wet and wrapped in hospital blankets; and at that moment he’ll be altogether convinced of his own limits as a man and father, and altogether grateful for a heavenly Father that cares for this child infinitely more than he ever could.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to thank a great Father who inexplicably continues to give the gift of fatherhood to fallen men like me.

Bryan Daniels

A Father’s Day Prophecy and Freestylin’ Dads

The very last written OT promise to the nation of Israel is found in the book of Malachi. It is followed by roughly 400 years of prophetic silence, until a carpenter’s son shows up on the scene to turn the world upside down. It’s kind of a “Father’s Day” prophecy for us today.

It says:

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:5-6)

In the NT, we learn John the Baptist came as a fulfillment of this prophecy (Luke 1:17). But there are also compelling reasons to believe there is a final “end times” Elijah that will be the complete fulfillment of this prophecy (Revelation 11:3-12).

Regardless, this prophecy hits at the root of the matter with an axe hammer. Our current  cultural issues (or you could say “curse”) with absent parenting, abandonment, and child abuse all stem from the same fount: It’s a heart issue. All sins are.

Whether by overt acts of abuse, subversive attitudes of disappointment, or neglectful abandonment. Apart from a turning of heart, all father’s are susceptible to these sins.

Children are not entirely innocent. This promise would apply to rebellious younger children, neglectful older children and children embittered by what they perceived as a rough childhood. Malachi states children must have a turning of the heart too towards their parents, regardless of the parents past sins toward them.

If we want to see a revival in this nation, we must start with a reviving of families. It will start with broken families being broken and repentant before one another.

I long for the day when God fully restores broken families. I long for the day when boys with beards see freedom not in the context of abandoning their family, but only in the freedom found in Christ and abandoning their sinful proclivity to not “man up”. True freedom that breaks every curse, and makes them the fathers, husbands, and children that can revive a nation.

Do it in my family, Lord, start with me first and my two little boys, Josiah and Gideon.

Bryan Daniels

God Is Younger Than We Are….

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

-GK Chesterton

Dragons Are Real, Parents Are Stupid

Some adults just don’t get it.

I remember a recent movie excursion with my wife, where we viewed the adapted CS Lewis novel “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” in 3D. There was a certain prude in attendance with his wife and two very young children; he must have gotten time off from his busy schedule of joy-killing to stoop to his kid’s level to watch this movie.

After a satisfactory viewing experience, my wife and I headed to the restroom facilities to unload about eight gallons of the carbonated syrup we accumulated in the past two hours. As I was waiting outside the bathrooms for my wife to finish (a common universal posture for any man with any wife) I overheard the JK (joy-killer) speaking with a fellow adult he happened to know within earshot of his children. The convo went like this:

“How was the Narnia movie?” fellow adult

With a snarky tone, “It was a bit farfetched,” said JK. “Extreme.”

My mouth dropped wide open. The only response my bewildered mind could conjure up was, “Really? Ya think?”

It is a movie based on a fantasy children’s book for mother Mary’s sake! I thought boys who turn into dragons, sword dueling mice and a talking lion were all based on living historical characters. But seriously, why don’t you just go ahead rip the imagination and innocence right out of your children’s little formative souls? While you’re at it tell them Santa is just your drunk great-uncle and all dogs go to hell.

It brings to mind one of my favorite GK Chesterton quotes:

“Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children dragons can be killed.”

I feel a bit sympathetic for the JK, because some parental injustice must have been done to him in his early childhood, and as a result his ability to process allegory and wonder has been greatly diminished. In this rationalistic materialistic indoctrination maybe he missed the forest for the trees, and the redemption themes behind nearly every movie are (possibly) lost on him. The adult qualities of dignity and pretension has made JK a dull boy.

Metaphor, allegory, and the like, reveal deeper realer truths. If the stirring apocalyptic visions of apostle John’s crystal sea and blazing throned Majestic One are wonderful, the reality is much more so.

No wonder the lion of Judah, Jesus, told adults, “Unless you are converted and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Hopefully, this childlike wonder will give us a fresh unction to see and worship Christ more, even in 3D movie events. And possibly then a mole cricket or blade of grass may bring us to our knees in curious delight.

I guess the moral of this story is: Don’t be a joy-killer; God loves to challenge the comfortable traditions and long-held presuppositions of our hardened humanity. Don’t scoff too hard at a fanciful land of mermaids and giant sea snakes, the truth just maybe more far-fetched and stranger than such “fiction.”

Bryan Daniels

The Daniels Family Irish

The Daniels Family

There are my only earthly treasures in the world.

As the adage goes, a father is a man who has pictures of kids in the wallet where his money used to be. Parenthood is very strange and unique: the very moment you first meet that little wet ball of crying beauty face to face you instantly know you would kill or die for them if need be. Jess and I are very blessed beyond anything we deserve to have two healthy happy boys to share life with. This above picture bring out the ginger in everyone’s hair (except for Mr Clean there) for some reason. Josiah is twisting his tie and Gideon is in a milk induced trance on the hip of his mom. Needless to say there are plenty of ruthless rasslin’ matches and spitfire Irish pub brawls between the four of us.

Family is a precious gift. Hug, kiss, or just give a word of love to the respective loved ones in your life today. At the end of the day (and life) I don’t think anyone has ever said, “Man, I wish I would have spent less time playing with my kids, hugging my wife, and visiting with my parents.”

Oh yeah, and Lord I want to thank you for my smoking hot wife:

Bam Bam says “Thank You”

Gideon wants to sincerely thank you all for the gracious birthday wishes last Sunday.

Bedroom eyes much?

His parents thought it would be a good idea to meet some family at a local park to celebrate the little boy’s birthday. We didn’t factor in the gale force wind and brooding thunderclouds. Trying to pick up windblown flying pieces of wrapping paper with a herniated disc is about as fun as a Russian root canal. (The disc is feeling better thank you Jesus)

We met under a half built park pavilion that kept us half dry from the intermittent sprinkles. It was certainly kite flying weather as evidenced by this photo of Gideon with his brother, Josiah. The awesome old people scattered about this photo are his Mimi, Papa Jack, Uncle Gene, and Pa.

Mama was particularly proud of the cake design. Not of typical one year old birthday variety. Our nickname for the tyke is “Bam Bam.” Seriously, the kid has a kung fu action grip on him that rivals a medium size orangutan. If he gets a hold of a cookie you’ll have to pry it out of his cold dead hands (Charlton Heston voice).

As always, I am a proud and thankful husband and daddy. The common consistent graces of family, food, and fun should never be lost on us.

Peace and Grace,

Bryan Daniels

One Year Ago Today….Happy Birthday, Gideon

One year ago today

A mighty warrior born

With eyes wide open

And flame on his head

the hope of enemies torn

One year ago today

the fruit of covenant born

A king at his side

A gavel in hand

Old wisdom battled and worn

One year ago today

A blessed baby born

I beamed all the day

She laughed til she cried

Deep blue stones calm as the morn

One year ago today my second son, Gideon Bryce Daniels, was born. My wife and I are so blessed to have two healthy beautiful boys and a wealth of extended family around us. When I say “wealth” I mean it in the better sense: We are very “wealthy” people. And trust me, it has nothing to do with my teacher pay (Rick Scott will make certain of that). It has everything to do with the abundance of God’s gracious blessings to our family.

If some of the imagery in the little poem above is not registering for you, this article may help. It’s a post I wrote about “Naming A Child” that explains the reasons we chose “Josiah” and “Gideon” as our sons’ names.

God bless you and keep you this Lord’s Day,

Bryan Daniels