Christianity Absolutely Is A Crutch For The Weak

Christianity is a crutch for the weak.

Yes.

Absolutely.

Thank God.

With a pinched nerve ravaging the muscles in my right buttocks the past month I’ve been walking with a sizable limp. You know, the kind that makes you walk like a zombie with a gangsta lean. I haven’t thought of crutches to ease the pain but I have thought pretty hard about snatching one of those hoverounds whenever I find myself at Walmart. I didn’t want to garner any dirty looks from the old or obese people I’d have to take it from though. But I’m sure people with maimed or broken legs appreciate the support of crutches.

Have you ever went up to an injured individual and declared smugly: “Crutches are for people who can’t walk on their own!”

“Um OK, your point?”funny crutch

Jesus is for people who can’t walk on their own.

Christianity absolutely is for the weak, diseased, emotionally distraught, broken, and depressed of the children of men. The bottom of the barrel is the cream that rises to the top in God’s upside down Kingdom.

As Jesus said (my paraphrase): “I came for the sick, not those who suppose they’re well.” Jesus came for the embittered Lieutenant Dans, the paraplegics who can’t even go to the bathroom without being humbled by the help of others.

The nervous social introvert who can’t even go to the bank without praying they don’t see anyone they know.

For the foolish.

For the poor.

For the unpopular.

For the weak. Especially the weak. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

If the statue of Liberty will take them how much more will the perfect Father in Heaven open His strong arms for them? His own dear Son limped up to Calvary to show His compassion for the limpers. He rose from the grave to show they wouldn’t limp forever.

If Christianity is a crutch for the weak I say this: Lean hard into this crutch called Christ, and I promise, you will find Him much more than just a crutch.

Bryan Daniels

Lifestyles of the Rich, Young, and Sad (Mark 10)

He did everything right.

He was religious. He was prosperous. He was educated. He was respected.

He was one of Israel’s most eligible bachelors.

But something was missing. Something deep:

Peace with God at the soul level.

It all publicly culminated as he collapsed like a heap before the dirty feet of the one with answers, a good teacher. Like a pauper begging for a lonely morsel he’d go anywhere, give everything, do anything to quench this longing. What a humble posture for a man of his stature. Or so it seems:

Teacher what must I do to have eternal life?!

Pray a prayer? Follow a formula? Give some change to the good teacher’s cause? The answer should be simple enough, thought the young man.

The good teacher answers his question with a question. An enigmatic reply only a Jewish Rabbi could muster. And then He points to the Mosaic Law,

“Just do it.”

This dude must not know me very well, thought the young chap. I’ve kept the law obsessively since pre-K. I’ve tithed out of my spice rack, never touched an unclean woman, and I don’t even beat my servants on the Sabbath!

“Good sir, I kept this Law ever since I was a little boy.”

The most curious look washed across the good teacher’s face. Sadness and compassion at once converged in His deep dark brown eyes. Tears welled up but didn’t roll down as He responded to the boy:

“Then sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow Me for the rest of your life.”

Now

The golden calf is laid bare.

The sword is plunged into the heart of the matter.

It had been the question that had haunted the boy until now, but for the rest of his life the answer will haunt him even more. What mindless audacity from a sweaty carpenter with no pedigree, no land, and no following of consequence?

This couldn’t be.

He stood up slowly, downcast, and turned back to the fields of gold he came from. Rich. Young. Respected. Religious.

Full of sorrow.

Full of pride.

The good teacher watched the young ruler amble away without another word.

Sometimes the questions are complex and the answers are simple.

Sometimes we walk away sorrowful from the only One who can give real lasting joy.

Bryan Daniels

Taking Flight Friday And Jumps That Last

This vid is for any that were curious as to how my athlete did at the Florida Track and Field state finals last Friday. It was taken with my cellphone-quality bloggie so forgive the graininess. The winds didn’t help my hand steadiness either.

You can also hear my all wise and highly technical coachspeak: “Thattaway!” “Walk it off!”

Nat Dixon jumped 6’4″ and finished third overall in the high jump. He’s just a sophomore and spent very little time practicing jumping form because of his strenuous basketball schedule. The jumpers above him were seniors. He’s going to get 6’6″ next year and after that, the sky is the limit (quite literally).

With the Olympics around the corner, I’m always impressed by the accounts and testimonies of training athletes about what they put their bodies and minds through for the gold. They do it for personal goals, country, world records, and maybe sponsorships. It puts me to shame when comparing the inconsistent discipline of my spiritual walk with their physical training: they do it for temporary praise and reward, I do it for the eternal King and crown (souls) that will never perish.

That is why I am daily thankful for the greater reality of grace through Jesus Christ. Fortunately, His mercies are new every morning because I need them desperately every morning (Lamentations 3:23). All jumping, running and throwing done for Him will resound back to us in eternity. As the poem by CT Studd says:

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Peace and grace,

Bryan Daniels

Divine Cage Matches And The Limp Of Love

One of the many benefits of “daddyhood” are the daily ruthless cage matches that turn my living room floor into a carnage filled war of bloody dropkicks and stomach turning armbars.

Ok, not really.

But I can see the mean and hungry gaze of my opponents every evening as I descend down to the living room rug. A little blond three year old jumps off his chair in the kitchen and screeches across the tile like a Scottish warrior. A twelve month old carrot top takes a more subversive attack mode, crawling swiftly across the carpet floor while huffing and puffing in an unintelligibly excited tone.

The three-year old cannonballs onto my stomach, the one year old goes for the face rake, they both giggle hysterically as their big clumsy opponent grunts in fabricated (usually) pain.

This is their favorite time of day.

It’s their father’s too. Amongst the dropkicks and baby armbars he’s usually able to sneak a few hugs and kisses in.

I’m sure in their little imaginative psyche’s they are partaking in a no holds barred rumble of epic proportions. I mean, they are relentless (and could probably go on all night).

I always think about Jacob and the jujitsu smackdown he had with God. Whether it was just an angel, the preincarnate Christ, or some other divine manifestation, Jacob was convinced he had a face to face encounter with The Almighty when it was over (v. 30) The story always had a certain level of humor to me (Genesis 32:24-32).

God humbles Himself in such a way to appear physically before the perplexed man, and not only that, He allows for a wrestling match to ensue for the whole night.

This is the same God who could fling a universe into existence with the flick of a wrist, or drown a massive army with the drops of his bucket. But here we find Him in a grappling stalemate with a sinful man who deeply fears his own human brother, Esau.

Behold the humility of God!

I don’t presume to know God’s emotions, but since He is Father, I wonder if a sheepish grin of delight ever occurred to Him as He wrestled with His child, Jacob.

And just to  remind the kid who was boss, like any good father has to do from time to time, the God-man dislocates Jacob’s hip with the simple brush of the finger. A little tangible battle wound to remind him the cost of wrestling with the Almighty (v. 25).

Despite the pain, Jacob is relentless. Specifically, relentless with his prayer request to God:

“I will NOT let you go until you bless me!” (importunate child!)

God blesses the striving man with a new name and a wiped clean past:” Israel.” For Jacob you have “striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (v. 28) Amazingly, God delights in being bugged by His children (Matthew 7:7)! Keep pestering Him beloved, He has commanded we treat this as a joyful full time occupation (Jeremiah 51:12).

I love the heart of a Father who stoops to His children’s level to communicate and bless them.

I love the relentless grip of the child who knows only the gracious hand of the Father is able to supply all his needs.

I love being a dad. I pray my little boys can see through the flawed picture of their own  earthly father’s limited love, and see the perfect picture of their eternal Father’s everlasting love.

Such a love that cost the death of His own begotten, where the Father’s wrath on the Son wasn’t imaginary, but terrifyingly real and utterly complete (Isaiah 53). Thank God that through Christ we may wrestle with the Holy One in prayer and not be destroyed.

Claiming the precious name of Jesus in incessant prayer to God is serious business.

We may walk away from the encounter with a new limp.

We may walk away from it with a new name.

But let’s always walk away from it with a new-found delight in the Father who delights to wrestle with His kids.

Bryan Daniels

Saint Patrick: Green Beer Has Nothing To Do With Him

Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick’s Day wasn’t founded on creepy leprechauns, cheesy parades, and nasty green beer. The day also originally had nothing to do with getting so incomprehensibly slobber-knocked that even Irish cuisine begins to taste good (Crubeens? Black Pudding?!). Saint Patrick’s Day was actually founded on a real Christian missionary who wasn’t even Irish.

Though much of the life of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has been mythologized, there are a couple solid historical sources that remain about the fifth century saint.

At the ripe young age of sixteen, Patrick was abducted by Irish raiders from his home of Britain and sold as a slave.  After six years of subjection as a slave herdsmen the young Patrick escaped and returned to the Motherland. But he returned to his aristocratic family a changed man. In his Irish enslavement he had found freedom in the

He probably wasn't really a "Snake Whisperer"

renewed faith of his childhood Christianity. And this calling of God wouldn’t keep him away from the hilly Irish countryside for long.

One passage in his work Confessio, St. Patrick’s spiritual autobiography, tells of a dream after his return to Britain, in which he was delivered a letter headed “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, he seemed to hear a certain company of Irish beseeching him to walk once more among them.

“Deeply moved,” he wrote, “I could read no more.”

Being relatively uneducated did not stop him from answering the call and after a short study stint he was ordained by Saint Germanus the Bishop Auxerre. Once he found himself on Irish shores he traveled extensively, zealously preached the gospel, and baptized peasants and political leaders into the Kingdom.

Preaching the gospel in a country steeped in pagan and Druid religion, Patrick was in constant endangerment of martyrdom with local kings, lawgivers and commoners. On top of this, Ecclesiastical powers back in Britain doubted his motives and charged him with seeking ministry “office for the sake of office.”  Despite this, he would many times gain favor with local leaders by bearing gifts, and always refusing gifts in return. For roughly 40 years of traveling poverty he preached incessantly to every Irish ear that would hear him, to the point Catholic history credits St. Patrick with “converting all of Ireland.”

Despite these ministry successes he was a humble man who died in relative obscurity. His autobiography, Confessio, is considered by many to be the most honest soul bearing account of any religious diarist, save St. Augustine. Patrician scholar, D.A. Binchy, has said, “The moral and spiritual greatness of the man shines through every stumbling sentence of his rustic’ Latin.”

So the next time you’re compelled to wear green, eat corn beef and cabbage, or watch the cult classic “The Leprechaun”,

stop and think about this humble bold saint.

Are you relatively uneducated?

Do you have a tragic and abusive past?

Does your speaking or writing have a “stumbling” quality about it?

Do those in high places doubt your calling?

So what.

God wants to turn the eternal destinies of nations and He desires do it with the most humble broken means at His expense. When there is nothing to boast of human ingenuity and power, that is how God will get the most glory.

“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (1 Cor 1:27)

He sovereignly did it in Saint Patrick’s life.

He can do it in ours.

Bryan Daniels

He Delights To Hurl

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

As we saw in the book of Hosea yesterday, God doesn’t mince His words when dealing with our sin in Scripture.

The biblical metaphors in Micah all point to the utter finality of God’s indictment of sin. Through Jesus Christ, God will “tread our iniquities underfoot.” This vivid picture is of God stomping a mud hole in our sin (not us!) and walking it dry. To trample or tread over an enemy is to utterly destroy it and lay waste to it. It’s the image of an army in battle defeating its nemesis in such an absolute way that the enemy army becomes a doormat (Micah 7:10).

But God is not satisfied with just a trampling of the sin that condemns us.

He then picks up our trampled sin and hurls it in disgust overboard to sink forever to the forgotten utter depths of the sea (7:19). This is not a casual dropping of an SOS bottle off the side of the boat, this is the hurl of righteous violence to get rid of a toxic trash heap that would infect the whole ship.

Referencing this verse, Corrie Ten Boom used to say: God put up a sign saying, “No fishing allowed.”

Through the finished work of Christ, God has forgiven and disposed of that sin committed years ago that haunts us, that sin last night that fills us with anguish, and even that future sin that we may fall into. No storm cloud needs to accompany our failings long, God has cast the scourge of our soul like a sunken stone into the unrecoverable ocean floor.

What is endearing and amazing about God is His capacity for complex emotions.

This is a hurl of disgust.

And it is a hurl of delight.

He extinguishes our sin because “He delights in mercy.”

Let that sink into your soul’s sweet spot.

The sacrifice of the Son is of such infinite immeasurable value that the Father delights in applying it to ungrateful sinner. His mercy is more beautifully displayed the more grievous the sinner is who has apprehended it. God is not reluctant to forgive the sin you committed the last hour, He delights to forgive.

It gives Him a high degree of joy. Great pleasure. Deep satisfaction.

Beloved He delights to apply the saving benefits of His dear Son’s gospel for your good and His glory.

The trampling of our sin was actually the trampling of His own son. The casting away our transgressions was actually the rejection of His own Begotten on the cross. And God has delighted to crush the Son in our place to display mercy to His enemies.

I need a renewed vision of this God daily. For I fail Him in sin daily. But what that means is that I also have opportunity to experience the daily delight of the merciful Father.

The sky is not overcast in His kingdom. The brooding storm clouds of guilt have been hurled overboard with our sin.

The beloved Son Has caused the Father to delight over His people, while utterly destroying what has been destroying them.

Amen.

Bryan Daniels

God Wants To Fix Your Transmurner Before You Ask Him

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him…(Matthew 6:8)

I struggle with prayer.

Conceptually and practically.

Most of those struggles are probably because I put unwarranted credence on my feelings at any given prayer moment. If I don’t feel a tangible groaning, or a burning in my chest, or goosebumps on my neck, then my prayers must have been rendered ineffective. Right? If I voice my prayer simply and without a series of major spiritual manifestations then certainly my appeals never made it past the bedroom ceiling. Right?

Wrong.

I am submitting to the awful doctrine that unless my prayer experience “feels” right to me, then God is impotent to answer them. In a twisted way, that is putting emotional subjectivism on the throne and kicking a Sovereign King off of it.

On top of this, Matthew 6:8 raises a different objection in the conscientious Christian:

God already knows what we will ask, so why do we need to ask it?

This verse has helped reveal to me the nature of biblical prayer like no other. God doesn’t desire we put prayer time in a nice little “To do” box we smugly check off each day after 10 mins of mechanical meditation. The whole purpose of prayer to a “Father” is to establish and nurture a relationship. Contrary to popular religious opinion, prayer isn’t about getting things from God, prayer is about getting to know God who is a loving Father.

That was funny. Right as I was typing that last sentence in the previous paragraph my three-year old, Josiah, walked in the living room and exclaimed in his cheery tone “Good morning!” I greeted him back and reminded him to go to the bathroom. After he was done with his business he went in the kitchen. I saw him open the refrigerator door. After staring into it for a few moments he returned to the living room with a request:

“I need juice, daddy.”

Poor little guy couldn’t reach it.

“I got it, baby.”

Now I know my child needs breakfast every morning, and his mom and I ensure that he gets it. But I didn’t put the computer down, get up, and go fix his juice and cereal for him because he had to ask for it. I gladly made him his breakfast because he is my son. And because he is a little boy with short arms, his asking also showed he is completely dependent on his dad for such things.

Right after I handed Josiah his breakfast, another request came out of his tiny three-year old lips:

“Can you fix my Transmurner?” (that’s how he pronounces “Transformer”)

Last night, before he went to sleep Josiah requested his new Transformer toy be his bedmate. Before we agreed, we disassembled the accompanying sword and sharper edges of the toy so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Of course that is semi traumatic for a three-year old, but after assuring him that is how Transformers go night night and I would fix it in the morning he was okay. Even though it was a trivial request compared to breakfast, it was a big deal to my son.

And it was my delight to fix his transformer for him. Not because he asked, but because he is my son. I also had promised it to him. And if I didn’t keep that promise I would be jeopardizing the trust within our father-son relationship.

I think the point is clear. In prayer, God does not want to be known as a genie in a bottle or a sugar daddy. In prayer, God wants us to display how utterly dependent we are on His gracious Fatherly hand. We are the beneficiary, He is the Benefactor. This prayer life all centers around the pure delight of relationship, not trumped-up feelings or requests for coats and boats. On top of all this, the Father has promised He would answer the prayers of His dear children, and He signed that promise in the righteous blood of His only precious Son.

In Christ alone we are accepted, adored, and made precious sons and daughters of God.

And this Son says to His brethren:

“Whatever you ask in my name I will do it, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:13)

Pray away. He is not a begrudging taskmaster, but a joyful loving Father who grants requests on the basis of relationship not rule-keeping.

Sons and daughters don’t have to struggle to be sons and daughters.

Don’t do.

Simply be.

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