Martin Luther King Jr And The Voices We Snuffed Out (Abortion)

Abortion is a civil rights issue

Sanctity of Life Sunday is followed by Martin Luther King Jr Monday.

Martin Luther King Jr Monday is followed by Roe V. Wade’s 40th anniversary on Tuesday.

To me, the timing of those three successive days seems eerily prophetic.

I don’t presume to know what Dr. King’s view would be in the modern-day debate.

I do know my heart breaks for the souls involved in the tragedy of abortion. For the babies. For the women. For the doctor. Especially for him. A granite heart that has committed slow suicide with a million tiny compromises has found itself charged with murder.

This may sound hollow coming from a middle class white dude who wasn’t even alive during the Civil Rights era: What struck me most about the above video was what one black gentleman said as his group peacefully protested outside of the Philadelphia clinic of horrors:

“Everything that was gained during the Civil Rights movement doesn’t mean a thing to a dead black baby.”

The Dirty History of Abortion

I can’t help but see the racial overtones in the abortion movement’s history. Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s founder, was firmly committed to the pseudoscience of negative eugenics (the same “science” the Nazis used in Germany). She found abortion to be a necessary instrument to contain the growing class of societal “undesirables.” It’s no coincidence Sanger started her movement in the South where she had a wealth of young uneducated poor black women she could easily “educate.”

Unfortunately, Sanger’s racist vision for America has worked better than she ever could have dreamed.

Germany’s racial holocaust ended with World War II. America’s racial holocaust carries on shrouded neatly under the guise of health care.

In New York city 40 % of pregnancies end in abortion. An overwhelming majority of those are African-American babies. According to the CDC, black women are three times more likely to get an abortion than white women. Most shocking: the leading cause of death in the African-American Community since 1973 is not heart disease, cancer, or violent crimes: It’s abortion. Most abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have abandoned rural areas and created a lucrative business by setting up shop in the poorest minority-dominated urban neighborhoods.

I believe without apology: A baby in a mother’s womb deserves as much protection as a baby in a mother’s arms.

What will Change the Infanticide Movement?

But I am also aware that a political shift will not happen until the culture shifts, and the culture will not shift until hearts are shifted by the grace of God towards King Jesus and His Kingdom.

That’s my prayer.

That God supernaturally transforms hearts of mothers and fathers to protect and cherish the precious life they have created. That the thought of an abortion would become anathema to renewed urban minds; and as a result, abortion clinics would close down en masse due to lack of business. That it would get done in such a way no man or political party gets the glory, but only the Father of life who makes dead men and women live.

May another Martin Luther King Jr. rise up in this generation to speak the truth in love to this justice issue. May God’s word to us not be:

“I sent many prophets, and you killed them all before they could speak one word.”

Bryan Daniels

Mass Murder Is Why A Suffering Sovereign Came

“Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did. What kind of Savior do we need when our hearts are shredded by brutal loss?

We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.

The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize.

So he came as who he was: the compassionate King. The crushed Conqueror. The lamb-like Lion. The suffering Sovereign.”

John Piper

Read the rest of the article.

Suffice to say last Friday was the saddest news this nation has faced since 2001. As a father of two sons (1 a year away from kindergarten) and a public school educator the heartache was twofold for me.

I hope this reeling nation doesn’t get too obsessed over tertiary political/social issues in this time.

The only agent that can change the hardest human hearts is not of this world or public policy. Saul, David, and Moses were all once murderers turned servants of the righteous King.

The only agent that can comfort the most shattered human hearts is not of this world either. The perfect hands that were wounded on the cross are strong enough to bind our wounds forevermore.

I pray Sandy Hook turns to the “Suffering Sovereign” alone for comfort.

I pray the other broken on looking souls in America do too.

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

Can’t Pray for A Secularist and Can’t Vote for A Mormon?

Election season seems to bring out the best (sic) in those who profess Christ.

I’ve heard variations of the two following statements:

“I can hardly bring myself to even pray for Obama because of his secular…..”

or

“I can hardly bring myself to vote for Romney because of his Mormon….”

To hold either view, one would have to ignore the thrust of Paul’s argument in Romans 13:1-7. Namely, that God is sovereign over even overtly pagan rulers and He has brought about their rule for our own protection and provision. Whether we like it or not, the one who is in “authority is a servant for your good.”

Ancient Roman reign brought about a terror and totalitarianism that modern American politics has little or no context for. For 250 years Americans haven’t known what is like to be occupied by a foreign nation, much less a nation that ruled according by the whims and fancies of psycho Caesars like Nero or Diocletian. The Roman Christians Paul wrote to were a generation away from being burnt at the stakes and ripped apart by lions for national sport.

And Paul says subject yourselves to…them?!

The overriding issue of the ancient Jews was that an alien Roman bully had conquered and enslaved God’s chosen nation of Israel. And yet the ministry of Jesus virtually ignores that great elephant altogether to focus on loving the scum of society and confronting the hypocrisy of religiolites.

Now.

We are fortunate to live in a First Amendment driven democratic government where free speech is largely valued. If re-elected, I can disagree (vehemently) with the president’s policies on abortion without fear of a Communist shakedown on my family and I. If elected, I can disagree (vehemently) with Romney’s religious leanings without fear of a Mormon Illuminati attack on my personal liberties.

Whomever is elected this year, I can continue to speak out against the infanticide of abortion and the cult of Mormonism in reference to our respective president at the time. Roman Christians of old and Chinese Christians of new could not even imagine such a sacred privilege being thrust upon them. The individual privilege of voting and speaking for or against chief governmental leaders keeps this American experiment ticking.  But with that privilege comes great responsibility. Not to necessarily cast our lots with right or left leaning ideologues, but to vote in a way that both laments and rejoices at such a right.

Yes, I say to both lament and rejoice as a way to honor our right to vote.

We should lament because our only choices on this side of eternity are between two flaw-filled sinful men. Men who will always over promise and under deliver. Men who will say every word and make every action according to a careful diabolical political theory. Men who may have the very best of intentions, yet will undoubtedly fail at bringing the soaring hope of peace and prosperity their rhetoric guarantees.

We should expect as much from, well, men.

Do vote. But vote with a hint of lament and longing gripping your soul.

And we may rightly rejoice as we vote too.

Rejoice that we have an eternal hope in the gospel of Christ Jesus. His is an eternal righteous reign with no end, not a term of four/eight lackluster years (Isaiah 9:7). We haven’t chosen Christ in an election of false promises, He has chosen us with the permanently sealed promise of his own Spirit and blood (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Many men have assumed the office of president. As a subject of another kingdom you must pray for the man who ends up holding that office, even moreso if he doesn’t pray to the one true God revealed in Scripture. And as a responsible and conscientious citizen of a free nation you should vote for the best flawed man available, whether or not he holds your biblical view of God.

But Jesus is the only King.

He is working out his rule and reign within the hearts of His true subjects here on earth (Luke 17:21). This paradoxical rule will not be denied no matter the election results. His Kingdom is here already. So Rejoice! His Kingdom is not here yet. So Lament! Voting may be a small way to honor His Kingdom. But the best way to advance it is by an unwavering commitment to the King’s final commission to us:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

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:

Run This Gospel Race Like You Stole Something

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

I coach the boys track team for the high school I work at (despite being a chubby white dude who only runs to the refrigerator). Other than extremely long meet days, it is a relatively easy sport to coach with short practices and straight forward workouts.

Even at the high school level, students must be self motivated and focused to reap any success in competitions.

I’m always a bit amazed (and perturbed) at the disparity of work ethic in seemingly identical athletes. Sprinters, jumpers or distance runners with the same genetic hand, background, and coaching can yield very different results because of one thing:

Discipline.

Some of my lazier athletes are quite shocked when they go up against another more focused athlete during competition and get flat-out smoked. I wonder:

What did you expect with no effort or discipline during training?!

Some get it now and succeed. Others will get it later in life when circumstances force them to.

But honestly, I have more in common with my lazier athletes than what I would like to admit. Spiritually speaking.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 cuts my non chalant approach to many spiritual matters at the knees.

Paul lived in a day when athletics dominated Greek society. The much-lauded Olympic games were right down the road. Every third year in Corinth, the Corinthians had the Isthmian Games where athletes competed on a more local level. Sometimes the stakes feel even higher when you’re competing in local rivalries. In order to get into the finals at the Isthmian games athletes had to give proof of ten months of training, and the last 30 days before the actual event they all came into the community to partake in intense highly scrutinized daily training.

Only after that preparation were athletes eligible to run. And if they ran and won the victor was awarded a pine wreath crown (along with being immortalized).

These ancient men worked tirelessly for months and years for a crown of weeds that would wither in weeks.

The Prize That Lasts

The context of the verse shows the great prize Paul speaks of is not our own salvation (we could never earn that), rather it is preaching the gospel and seeing men drawn to Christ (9:18, 22). Running is analagous to preaching/sharing the gospel. Paul says in effect: I want to see men won to Christ so I will run (read “preach”) as hard and as diligently as it takes for me to win that prize.

But see the preparation period in this type of preaching. During pre-season, I ran one 100 yard sprint with my team during a workout. I subsequently pulled a hammie in the process. For a couple days, I ended up limping like Jacob did after rasslin’ with God.

Why?

I hadn’t, in the most basic fundamental level, prepared my body for such physical exertion.

There is a crucible every gospel preacher should pass before attempting to set the world on fire. There is no benefit in sprinting ahead of the Holy Spirit when God tells you to sit and be still for a while. Praying, studying and repenting over the God breathed word is not a task taken lightly.

If you do take such weighty preparation lightly, you just may herniate a disc in your spiritual backbone. 

Beating Your Own Body Like A Rented Mule

The language used in this passage is pervasive: The apostle “threw down” in a fisticuff rage with his own sinful flesh on a daily basis (1 Cor 9:27).

By the grace of God, we must first conquer the formidable enemy within, before attempting to conquer the supposed enemy out there.

The weapons of our warfare work on our own flesh too. Intercessory prayer, the testimony of Scriptures, and the blood of the Lamb are too great of foes for any latent sin remaining in us. Paul used these to make his body his own slave instead of being a slave to his fallen fleshly desires (v 27).

We (I) desperately need such spiritual discipline.

The stakes are eternally high.

The prize is eternally worth it.

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

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

Baby Bedtime Prayers and God’s Sovereignty

I sometimes wonder if the Nike Marketing Group has had a hand in influencing the modern American church’s gospel message. There is a certain level of “Just Do It” fervor in the sermons and Sunday school lessons of evangelical churches.

In our zeal to get God’s work done we tend to lead and end with an exhortation for every man, woman and child to go “invite, tell, contextualize, evangelize, and do whatever you can” to get the gospel out. Just do it, just do something, because doing anything with a Christian flavor is better than nothing!

There may not be anything wrong with this.

In a sense this can be a very biblical exhortation (Colossians 3:23). A little bit of Bible study can quickly show us that the Great Commission is the last charge Christ made to all who would claim to be His followers (Matthew 28:19-20).

But a little bit of truth with no context can be a dangerous thing; If we preach the gospel mission as mainly an emphasis on doing, trying, and moving for God, an ungodly deduction could be made in the mind of the listener: “If I don’t move, God can’t. God is dependent on me. God is impotent to get glory if I don’t go get it for Him.”

If we are not careful, in our mind the cosmic tables can be turned. And in a very real sense I can believe with all my heart not that I desperately and daily need God above all else, but that now that I’m a Christian:

“God needs me.”

Jesus is the antidote for this natural man-centered bent of our heart’s. When He spoke and acted, Christ placed the emphasis of evangelism back at His Father’s feet:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

Here is how modern evangelicalism has rendered this verse in so many ways: “The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few; therefore GO! Can’t you see? The lost need you! God needs you! The world needs you now! It’s your destiny!”

But this isn’t how Jesus appeals to the blind and hurting world he saw around him. He was driven to tearful compassion for His shepherdless sheep, and the response He wanted us to have was not to hastily run out and use any means to reel them in (JUST DO IT!). The first compassionate biblical command Jesus gave us for a world going to hell with out a Savior was to

“Therefore, pray.”

This seems so counterintuitive to our über busy lives and the works based gospel we have quietly submitted to in the name of church attendance and behavior modification.

Jesus knew without divine unction and calling, mankind could do nothing of eternal value for mankind. Without the Father first preparing vessels for His glory, the sending out of laborers would be in vain. And as a result, all meaningful evangelism efforts must be rooted in humble fervent prayer before the Father asking Him to graciously give what we can never produce:

A harvest of souls.

Revival doesn’t necessarily begin in big tents or rousing services, it begins with us in our prayer closet on our knees tearfully pleading for the Sovereign Ruler to have mercy on us (2 Chronicles 7:14). It is not first about doing, it is first about depending.

I believe this is true even for those seemingly hum drum daily routine prayers we unload hastily at the end of a busy day.

The way a person prays may betray their true theology.

In my bedtime prayer with my son I don’t appeal directly to his will (or his inherent ability to turn to God), I appeal to the God of Justice and Mercy to make Himself known to him based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In reality, almost every parent I know prays for their child this way, regardless of the theological system they claim.

In a word, I pray God will make him willing (Psalm 110)

Would anyone be motivated to pray for another’s salvation otherwise?

If I am not convinced that God can accomplish my son’s salvation and prepare him for an apprehension of grace, what motivation for prayer is there?

This is a weighty privilege and responsibility for parents. Our supplications can be one of the many tiny levers that has helped set the great wheel of God’s sovereignty into motion for our child’s salvation. In prayer, we place our child’s destiny into the caring hands of the merciful Father, for God forbid these precious ones be left up to their own fallen devices.

I know there is tension and mystery on the subject of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. His sovereignty does not negate our responsibility, but rather should motivate and empower it. The God who can be trusted on as a loving Father, can also be depended on to carry out his purposes as a powerful King.

So I pray over my son every night. Standing on the undying promises of a King who can never be thwarted (Eph 1:11):

“God you make Josiah a man of God, You make him a man after Your own heart…You give him a heart of flesh to know You and fear You, and You save him by Your grace.” (Ezekiel 36:26-36).

I know without the Holy Spirit moving on his little heart he will have no inclination to repent and believe the gospel in his lifetime (Eph 2:3-5).

At the conclusion of our bedtime prayer Josiah looks up at me as I say “In Jesus Name.” And he always responds with a hearty drawn out, “Aaaaamen!!!” or, as the word means, “So be it!”

A three year old knows his utter dependence on the Father’s mercy. Let us find that same childlike dependence in prayer, and our interceding and going and preaching will not be with vain appeals of man-centered movement, but with the Father’s blessing and divine power.

Bryan Daniels