ABC Award Ceremony (You love me, you really love me…)

(Visualize an image of an award here)

I usually don’t do these, but lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to connect to the greater blogging community  (particularly Christian bloggers). You should do so also. There are some genuinely creative, God-loving, interesting people out there in the e-community.

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you:

Thank you very much to Real-Life Housewife for the (Awesome Blog Content) nomination. I am married to and in love with my own “Real-Life Housewife” and I have nothing but props for all the women who pull off married life, motherhood, house management, and work life with grace and humor. Props to you and your tribe of Proverbs 31 women!

2. There are no limits for how many fellow bloggers you can nominate:

Here are three I would recommend off hand:

The Ink Slinger-Pretty much a child prodigy writer/blogger who will give you hope that the next generation of young’uns aren’t just a bunch of CoD addicts and basers. He’s sixteen years old, people!

Not for Itching Ears-Jim, the founder, keeps everything Christ/cross centered in his writing. If you just want the simplicity of the cross, read up! If you want to be entertained, well….

Seek the Holy-Chris is a pastor I know personally who has an affinity for Reformed Theology, computer tech, and zombie slaying. Please go spam his site with glowing comments about Arminianism and Henry Blackaby… : )

3. Share some things about yourself alphabetically in just a word or two. (Or alternatively, just write the first word you think of)

A-Aslan-Teaching children to cuddle with hungry ruthless lions…

B-Big Hurt (my middle school nick name)

C-Condoleezza Rice. Great leader and role model. I once named a pet finch after her…

D-Dirk Nowitzki-Da Heat slayer vill Kaput you!

E-E‘s Talk Soup (remember that show? Awesome)

F-“Friends are friends forever, if the Lord’s the Lord of….” (everybody!)

G-Grenada-One of my more entertaining students is from there, claims to be apart of the Jamaican mafia.

H-Hell; that’s just the first thing I thought about….

I-Ignatius, seems like a pretty cool name…

J-Jessica, my beautiful wife. Josiah, my beautiful three year old.

K-Krazy with a capital “K.” It’s one step up on the sociopath scale above “Charlie Sheen.”

L-Los Lonely Boys-Whatever happened to them and did they ever figure out how far heaven is?!

M- Mayonnaise. Delicious condiment and the hilarious nickname of someone I know.

N-Never say Never- Justin Bieber Bible Study (wrote a post about that once)

O-for The Office. Just about the only show I’ll DVR. I’m a Dwight fan.

P-Piper. For my mancrush, John Piper.

Q-Quickbooks. I’ve never quite figured out how to use that software I downloaded on my computer five years ago.

R-Reformation. Thankful for that era in Christian history. Semper Reformanda!

S-Snake. Just killed one yesterday right near my backdoor; sorry, but with two little boys I don’t really care if it was poisonous or not…

T-Tullian Tchividjian. Grandson of Billy Graham, and a heckuva preacher man. Any takers on how to pronounce his name?

U-Unicorns. Yes, I love them too.

V-Vera Wang. My wife watches TV fashion shows (man card intact)

W-Weakling. As in the Weakling formerly known as Saul.

X-X-Files. I used to watch it. I think Chuck Missler did too.

Y-The Young and the Restless. Reminds me of my Nena, and unfortunately, Alzheimer’s.

Z-Zebraska. This was the title of a song I made up in third grade. “Zebraska, the most wonderful place in the world/ Zebraska, it’s for every boy and girl….” Those were the only lyrics…

Bryan Daniels

Chief Of The Least: Brief Year in Review! (2011)

It has been a blessed an eventful year for me personally (thanks to the birth of my second son, Gideon, in March). I’d like to thank all the blog readership and random lurkers who make me feel less lonely (internetally speaking), when I sound off on issues. I enjoy the outlet that this blog serves to post my sometimes inane and ridiculous rants on a variety of topics. Here is a quick blog year in review for you with some highlights sprinkled in:

In 2011, there were 86 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 104 posts. There were 77 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about a picture per week.

The highest viewed overall blog and individual blog-day (May 21st) goes to the same post. Not incidentally, that post was titled “If the Rapture Happens Saturday: A Brief Survival Guide.” If you are an easily offended type, I beseech you, DO NOT FOLLOW THAT LINK. But if you have a slight sense of humor, have at it.

The two other blogs that came closest to the top viewed spot were:

Rob Bell: Does Universalism Really “Win” In The End?

White Guys Who Listen To Christian Rap And The Girl Named World

My top referring sites in 2011 were:

Many visitors came using specific search terms. Here were the most used to find “Chief of The Least” in 2011: 1. Fred Teutenberg 2. Awkward Family Photos Christmas 3. Wedding Wine Poem 4. Justin Bieber Bible Study

Obviously most visitors came from the United States. But Canada and the UK were not too far behind. I was also surprised to find a very small percentage trickle in from places like Nigeria, Chile, Malaysia, Belgium and Pakistan.

My most commented on post in 2011 was “‘Tis the VBS season! (No Sinner’s Prayer Required)”

My top three commenters (thank you guys very much!) of 2011 were:

1. Josh Peacock

2. Stephen Iddison

3. Joel Nelson

Hope you all are found in God’s grace and blessing this new year. Peace.

Bryan Daniels

The Gospel According to Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Look out Lifeway.

Justin Bieber has got his powerful sights set towards you and your corner on the Bible study market. Actually, Justin is not going to bring you down. In reality it’s the only person with more clout than the dreamy eye wonder boy, the one who holds the purse strings to his allowance and the sole curfew enforcer: his mom.

In addition to the mega movie release of “Never Say Never” on February 11, Justin’s mom, Patti Mallette, has co-wrote and released a movie discussion guide that is focused around Justin’s Christian faith. The guide, “Never Say Never: Nothing is Impossible with God,” is meant to complement the movie and introduce the reader to the Christian disciplines behind Justin’s success: Prayer, Godly friends, Hard Work, etc. You may be surprised to hear this from me, but a lot of the material is not bad really; I regret to admit there is more Scripture in this study than many a Sunday School study series I have partaken in during my adult life (yes, I have actually viewed the study, and no, you cannot have my man card). The depth is on par with any study you may observe in the education halls of your typical Southern Baptist or United Methodist Church. Other than a few prominent photos, Bieber is not really made much of or overly exploited (where have you gone Joe Simpson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you?).

So it should come as no wild revelation that this is not an expository study exploring the propitiatory substitutionary atonement in the prophetic depiction of the suffering servant of Isaiah chapter 53. The audience is hyper-hormonal school girls with probably a third grade reading level and the theological background of Spongebob Squarepants. 

I’ve taken into account that the intended audience is pre-teeny boppers and not a fat balding twenty-seven year old white guy with a blog, and yet, there is still one justified gripe: There is no clear biblical gospel presentation anywhere in the literature, an unfortunate fact considering the idol Bieber is in the hearts of adulating middle school chicas everywhere. It would have made this Baptist dance a gig (in a very awkward white sort of way) if the guide had proposed the work and person of Jesus Christ as the only eternal cure for the worldwide outbreak of Bieber fever. But, then again, I would challenge you to find a clear gospel presentation in the Bible studies your church uses on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. Justin Bieber can’t be blamed for the shocking gospel ignorance of the American church. Like the old adage goes: If the tide gets low enough every shrimp has it’s own island.

And, yes, the tactics used do reek of seeker sensitive bait and switch models. Draw the masses in with their flesh (super hott teen idol) and then subversively slip a little Jesus in their juice. I don’t like it, but part of me has come to expect it by now. If the people are drawn in with carnal means, they will have to be kept in with carnal means. When the winds of adversity blow as they surely will, a revelation of the cross of Jesus is gonna keep them in the faith and in church, not a cultural icon.

I’m neither completely encouraged nor discouraged by this recent development. Just because greedy marketers have found a profitable niche in the family values populace, doesn’t mean a third (or second, depending on your view of history) Great Awakening is on the cusp of happening in American Christianity. And yet, through the Holy Spirit you never know what seemingly insignificant bible study points may bring an unsuspecting tweeny bopper to her knees in tearful repentant biblical worship.

For what it’s worth, Patti Mallette, seems to be genuine in her public projection: a young Christian single mom trying to rear her son as best she knows how. She has also constructed some much-needed security walls around her son, and keeps IRS like tabs on his time and relationships. I applaud her for this.

I know. The past is replete with the bones of teen idols who have crashed and burned long before this bright star rose out obscurity. No one can stand for long under the weight of their own worship. Yet because of his mom (read: the grace of God), I think better things of young Justin. Here’s to hoping Jesus gets His glory from this teen idol, and all the false worship will give way to the One with the only lasting fame: Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Bryan Daniels

The Cult of Cam Newton-We Are All Witnesses

We are all witnesses.

At least that is what the Nike marketers for Lebron James want us to believe.  King James has been tailor-made to be the sole heir of the mantle left by Air Jordan and those wishing to be “like Mike.” And with the fervor of a religious crusade, slickly crafted ad campaigns continue to force feed us hero-worship as a viable cure for the longings of our souls.

There is something deep within us, that yearns to admire, anoint, and adulate something or someone. This cult of personality is manifested most in the cases of sports and music.

Look no further than Heisman winner Cam Newton. His astronomical rise to the top of college football folklore is what legends are made of. Here is an amazing observation of this recent heroic cultural icon: The media is already saying Cam Newton is better than Tim Tebow. Would anyone have thought, after the recent media slobberfest over college football’s über darling (Tebow*), that a star would rise so soon that surpasses Tebow’s fame in displays of worship, fanaticism and hyperbole? Nostradamus couldn’t have called that one.

Let’s put it in perspective: These are twenty year old kids who happen to have been dealt a generous genetic hand that includes strength, size, and speed; they haven’t cured cancer, they haven’t solved world hunger, and none have been honored with a Nobel Peace prize (as if that meant anything anymore). They’re kids who play Call of Duty, drink beer (probably) and try to hit on frat girls. Yet the games they play in are a multibillion dollar business that thousands of men with families drink, fight, gamble and cry over.

I happen to be one of those men. And before you ask the answer is Yes, of course I’m jealous of guys like Newton and Tebow.

The cult of celebrity on the music side is even more illogical and silly. Just look at Michael Jackson’s recent funeral spectacle. People wept, worshiped, wailed, and fainted over the King of pop’s passing. After death, his life was so romanticized it had a hint of greek mythological flavor to it; only the denominational adherents of John Lennon and Jim Morrison are so obnoxious in their martyr like verbosity.

Of course, you can witness this at any run of the mill Jonas Brothers or Justin Bieber concert. Thousands of young girls and their mom’s are whipped up into a fever pitch frenzy as they idolize and fawn over boys who can’t even serve in the military yet.

Grown men, little girls, it’s all the same. One thing is undeniably crystal clear about these strange displays: We all were made to worship. (Ecc 3:11)

The question isn’t whether we worship anything; the question is what or who are we worshiping right now?

Instead of big sweaty men in tights, or narcissistic little boys in skinny jeans, our worship should be reserved for the only one it is due: Jesus Christ.

If any man possesses any attractive or praise worthy attribute it comes from Christ (Colossians 1:16). If any man can exalt in anything, it must be Christ (Galatians 6:14). All the awards, crowds and media campaigns will mean nothing in 1000 years. Rome, the once crowning achievement of mankind, is a pile of rubble and tourist traps. 

If we were to be awestruck over anything it should be at how much God loves us in spite of our propensity to chase after such idols (Romans 5:8-12)

If we  are to weep, fall and even faint, the foot of the cross would be a perfect place to do so (Revelation 1:17). After all, that will be our posture for an eternity before the majestic throne of God.

Real heroes don’t play fleeting little games or sing silly little pop songs; the real Hero died on the cross for our sins and won an eternal victory for us through his resurrection. If we are to be struck with anything, let’s be awe-struck with a vision of the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4,6). With that shockingly good news let’s say with tearful amazement, “We are all witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)

* I’m not a bitter FSU fan….promise…

Bryan Daniels

Post Election: The Donkey Wept

A few musings about Election Night 2010:

1. Big props to Steve and Steve. Or Steve squared. Or….whatever. Steve Moss won his local school board seat. Steve Southerland won the Congress seat over an entrenched incumbent, Allen Boyd. Both are stand up Christian family men who will be an asset to their community as public servants.

2. “The events suck for the Democrats tonight,” was Chris Matthews exact somber words last night. That tingly feeling he used have run up his leg seemed to be replaced by a swift kick to the man region. The MSNBC crew displayed snide remarks, sarcastic observations and sore loser syndrome throughout their election broadcast. Brewing bitterness was their food all night long.

3.  Conversely, Fox News was the epicenter of giddy school girls at a Justin Bieber concert. When I turned the channel to “America’s Newsroom”, confetti and silly string literally exploded out of my TV, hit me in the face, and fell into my bowl of cereal. The “Mastermind” Karl Rove and the “Martyr” Juan Williams waxed poetically about the massive conservative shifts in Washington.

That either Fox News or MSNBC would claim objective journalistic integrity is disingenuous at best. Both tend to serve as political lap dogs, one for the left one for the right.

4. God is sovereign (Daniel 4:35-36). We must pray (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We must pray for all our leaders, not just the ones we have a political affinity for. The Obama administration, leftist loons, redneck right, red state and blue state. It doesn’t matter. God is the only wise, loving, powerful KING in the universe. His Son is the only living hope for this nation; not reform, new bills, less taxes, or more populist uprisings. Let’s approach Him boldly, and He will grant the only change that will last in the end (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Bryan Daniels