The Sound of A Hero Dying (Memorial Day poem)

[I wrote this after my Papa died seven years ago. It’s about his last few days on earth. He was a World War II veteran marine who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima]

Calloused hands that loved little dogs

and showed little boys how to hook a worm

Tremble now, involuntarily and soft

Armchair politician with a dagger wit

and humor more arid than the August Mojave

Forgets now, wets his own bed

Broad hard marine with a bulldog tattoo

and played keyboard for the church of st. waltz

Withered now, Hospice choir sings

First the grandson became nephew

the nephew a Japanese conspirator

The sponge was a razor

the nurse a war criminal

Escaped his cell block while sleeping

He always preferred the back door

No national day of mourning

No brash parade in his name

Just my hold it together sobs

The only sound left of another hero dying

Bryan Daniels

Thumbs Up Everybody for Rock and Roll Mondays

Just a little pick me up and supplement to the caffeine for your Monday morning blues (this vid has made the rounds). Whatever you’re struggling with this week: physical pain, nasty coworkers, financial woes, taking the training wheels off, family drama or just the humdrum routine of another work cycle. This charming little tyke is speaking into your life:

THUMBS UP EVERYBODY FOR ROCK AND ROLL!

You can get better, I know it!

Tony Robbins better watch his back, this kid has the motivational market on lock for the next 60 years if he so chooses to take it. I’m going to go ahead and pre-emptively nominate this young man for US president in 31 years.

The songify version is pretty cute too:

Share the Linkage-Love Saturday

Here’s to diversifying our blog reading palate.

If you just look for them, there are many interesting and creative peeps contributing to our great WordPress blog community. I just wanted to share some blogs I enjoy that may just pique your interest and become a part of your daily reading.

These are regular folk without conference platforms or names on the marquee (as far as I know) who still have a unique voice that should be heard.

Consider this a virtual shout-out to those unsung who are doing good consistent work even though blogging don’t pay the bills:

Everyone has a story-Bird is winsome, self deprecating, honest and really does have an embarrassment of unique personal stories to tell. You may enjoy her brand of humor about family, religion, and the past junk we all hide in the closet. Most all posts do have a good moral, but none of them feel contrived or soapbox-y.

Of Dust and Kings-TE Hanna has a keen theological mind and loves to share it in a variety of ways on his blog. From posts about theoretical physics to Star Wars, this Methodist minister gives the reader ample spiritual meat to chew on throughout. Give his engaging style a read and get challenged.

Arkenaten’s Blog-South African blogger, Douglas Pearce, has a strong affinity for photography, sweets, and atheism. According to the book excerpts he shares he has a pretty nice talent for writing fiction too. He’s a solid guy that won’t bite, but he will challenge you as a Christian, and I believe that is a good thing.

The Atheist Pastor-A former atheist and current pastor who frequently lowers the boom on the spiritually obese lethargic American church with his writing. Only read if you want a healthy dangerous dose of the biblical truth which may convict, challenge and compel you to reconsider your view of the gospel of Christ.

the Ink Slinger– A very bright seventeen year old kid who muses well about theology, literature, movies, music and all things zombie. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m partially basing my summer reading list on his thorough book reviews. Check him out to restore your hope in the young’uns (I need that as a public high school teacher : )).

There are many more worthy candidates of interest, if I left anyone out it is an omission of ignorance I assure you (and feel free to shout out your faves in the comments). Peace and grace and get out and enjoy the beautiful (or bad) weather in your neck o’ woods this Saturday.

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:

Penn On Evangelism (Gift of A Bible)

I’ve heard Penn of Penn and Teller’s comedy routine a few times. He is a talented comedian with a sharp wit. He’s also an outspoken atheist. Though I would disagree with him on some fundamental theological issues, I happened to find this video by him refreshingly good.

I share this vid (which one of my dear readers first shared with me) because Penn speaks a lot of wisdom here Christians should consider.

Be sincerely interested in people. This goes for people from a variety of worldview persuasions. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a unique context from which they draw answers to the biggest questions in life.

Everyone deserves to be heard and valued, if not simply because they are fellow image bearers.

I’m not great at this by any stretch.

A few years back I had an outspoken atheist coworker I worked closely with on a daily basis. Conversations inevitably turned spiritual from time to time. Most of them were respectful but now and then some of the dialogue turned heated. I was as much (probably more) to blame for this as he was.

I remember one day after asking a few questions about the origins of everything he admitted, “Well, we both take some things on faith.”

I appreciated that honesty.

No one has all the answers.

I certainly don’t.

But everyone deserves to be heard, considered, and respected at a basic human level. No one has to be a world class apologist to do this.

In the end we’re not walking trees, we’re souls.

Bryan Daniels

The One Top Secret Blogging Tip You Can’t Live Without (Not Really)

If you look directly above this post (about an inch) you will notice a “Holler at Me!” tab right below the banner photo. Sometimes I’ll get inquiries from site visitors about a wide array of issues.  Usually I’ll answer them briefly and personally over email. But if the same question is asked by different sources I decide to write a post about it.

In sum, this is one persistent question I’ve been asked the past couple months:

I’m new to blogging, what’s the best way to grow readership and reach as many people as possible with my message?

A little historical context.

By relative standards, I’m new to blogging too. My very first post for “Chief of the Least” was October 22, 2010. I shared the blog’s inception with a few good friends and tried to update it with a semi thought-provoking post at least twice a week. I’d share new posts through email and Facebook and would see  minimal traffic trickle in here and there. Every now and then a post struck a chord and generated more hits, but overall growth was very, VERY….slow.

Honestly, just as shortly as two and half months ago the only subscribers to my blog were my immediate family, good friends, and handful of internet acquaintances that found me through search engines I haven’t quite figured out how to successfully manipulate ( : If you’re keeping score, that is roughly 1 year and 3 months of consistent blogging with very little readership. To make it even more specific, let me say this:

Just two months ago I had a total of 16 subscribers. Sixteen precious subscribers I am proud of and indebted to, but sixteen nonetheless.

One of them was my mom. Another was my wife.

Now I’m definitely not of the misguided ilk that says numbers are the only thing that matters. Jesus the Son of God had 12 faithful (er, 11!) disciples on earth, and even most of those punked him out when His cross got too real and horrifying for them to bear.

If your web traffic is a drizzle, be thankful for that drizzle. Be a good steward of that drizzle God has entrusted you with.

But let’s be honest. No one, and I mean NO 1, cuts their wrist open on a computer screen, hits “Publish” and then says,

“Man, I really hope nobody reads this. And if they do I really hope they don’t comment on it….”

We all have a public blog on the great world-wide web because we hope the great world-wide reads it. We have a message to share, and if we didn’t believe it could benefit others we would never have endeavored to share it.

So I’ll share this one practice that I believe is absolutely crucial to blog growth. It is simple, yet not necessarily easy. It is the only thing that I’ve done differently the past two months that I failed to do the 1 year and 3 months previous.

You ready? Here it is in a simple word:

Networking

I got really serious about networking. And not just random networking. Networking with like blogs that have like interests. On this blog, I try to relate everything I write about back to a Christ centered message. So I may write about Tim Tebow, Call of Duty, Lil Wayne, or fatherhood. But I always try to relate everything to Christ, because in the end all that matters for all eternity is our relationship to Jesus Christ.

So when “networking” I try to find blogs like mine, with writers who simply have an invincibly high regard for the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is a large and flourishing Christian community among WordPress bloggers, and it is quite easy to find them through tag surfing and searching titles and keywords. And when I find those blogs I do something equally simple:

I connect.

Whether it be through a short comment, a like, maybe a follow (have to be more conservative with those), or whatever connecting means available. I have found this to be true: People want to connect. They want to be encouraged. They want to know other people are reading, digesting and appreciating their contribution to the e-world. Many times I will connect with people with completely different denominational influences, worldviews, and outlooks on life. I appreciate their content not because I always agree with it, but because I enjoy their writing style or ability to form a compelling story or argument.

You can stay within the comfortable bounds of your Dashboard, keep submitting excellent content, and just cross your fingers and hope the SEO gods are good to you. Or you can connect. Maybe it is the timeless biblical principle of reaping and sowing, but after you reach out and connect then usually the favor is reciprocated.

And people you have connected with will usually then come to your site, maybe read a post, possibly leave a comment, and if your style and subject catch their eye enough: They may just subscribe to you.

This is important to me because I believe a vast majority of my readership are good Christian folk with a gospel-saturated Christ-exalting message to share. A lost world needs what you are writing. And it is perfectly okay to desire to maximize your gospel writing influence to the widest audience possible. It’s not necessarily narcissism (though everyone should check their hearts before God).

It’s okay.

I don’t have an exact equation (even though I am a Math Teacher), but I will say that if you want to have a consistently growing blog, then you need to Network with other blogs about as much time as you spend writing for your own blog. I think a split of 50/50 is about right. But do what you can with the limited time you got. If you have 20 mins to devote to your blog a day, then 10 should go to writing and 10 to networking. 10 mins may not be enough time to write a solid post each day, but quality posts trump quantity of posts anyways in my book.

Don’t worry about your own writing platforms, site stats and getting a mad following. Get out of your Dashboard and make a big deal out of other people’s blogs.

Connect, encourage, and make someone else’s day better.

There’s a good chance the favor might be returned.

Peace and grace,

Bryan Daniels

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

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