It’s the end of the world….and I feel fine….

The world 1.

The Mayans 0.

The world is still undefeated against predictions of its apocalyptic end.

funny-mayan-end-of-the-world-quote

Enjoy your weekend and Christmas if I don’t see you around before then.

His peace and grace be upon you and yours.

Bryan Daniels

DOOMSDAY MAYAN PROPHECY!!! and the real end of all things…

This past couple weeks in my Geography class have coincided with a section on Latin America. It’s been pertinent to the students, especially since we’ve been able to naturally bring up the ancient Mayan civilization and their doomsday calendar prophecy (supposedly this Friday, December 21st)

I’ve even heard some students mention their parents aren’t making them go to school that day (probably out of fear of Americans not Mayans).

Obviously, I don’t believe such ridiculous claims. Plenty of scholars have given reason to believe the Mayans actually thought their calendar would reset for another few thousand years cycle instead of ending abruptly. People of actual Mayan/Indian ancestry believe Dec 21st is a cause for celebration not doom.

Over-educated old white dudes from America are the ones who artificially drummed up this wacky prediction.

Regardless, people have a natural fascination with eschatology, whether it be through the book of Revelation, Nostradamus, alien/zombie apocalypse, Mayans, or some great climate change holocaust. Even most hardened skeptics believe the earth isn’t going to keep peacefully revolving as is for an indefinite period of time.

The Mayans were advanced in many ways as their art, architecture and complex writing system displays. But there is no reason to believe their prophetic skill is any better than Harold Camping’s fuzzy mathematical end time calculations. Three reasons why this modern Mayan cultural phenomenon is just dumb:

1. They never saw the Spanish Conquistadors coming. Or, even more devastatingly, they never saw the small pox the Spanish brought with them on the boat, which wiped out over 90% of the Mayans in just a few years. They couldn’t see the soon end of the their own civilization but they could see the future end of all the world civilizations? Yeah…

2. Human sacrifice was the norm. Whether to appease the corn god or to dedicate a newly built temple, archaeology has recently dug up 1 and 2-year-old sacrifice victims from Mayan ruins. A culture that legalistically murders its own in droves (some estimates 50,000 a year) doesn’t really seem to be a culture worth obsessing over now. Whatever cataclysmic tragedy the end of the world brings it can’t be much worse than sacrificing your own children.

3. Most importantly: The Mayans absolutely can’t know the exact date of the end of all things. Jesus, the perfect only Son of God, didn’t even know the specific date for the end of all things (Matt 24:36). Only the Father does. Yet people believe God would reveal these deep secrets to a culture of child murderers? What the Son doesn’t know no one else can know. Not Camping, not Nostradamus, not Jehovah Witnesses, not me, not you.

Yet with the most recent Sandy Hook news still fresh in our collective psyche we should be eagerly anticipating a better eternal city with lasting foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). A city where a righteous King will reign with perfect love and justice (Revelation 21).

It really won’t be the end of anything, but rather a great unimaginable Beginning of truer lasting things.

Every last tear wiped.

Every last wrong righted.

I don’t believe it’s coming December 21st, but it’s one day closer than it was yesterday.

Thank God.

Bryan Daniels

The Revelation of The Lion Lamb Man (part 2)

5And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,   “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-10)

We left the dejected apostle, stricken with grief, with no hope in our last blog post (Revelation 5:1-4).  But an angelic elder comes to comfort John in the very next verse.

The Lion

The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion (verse 5). A lion is a beast of prey; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.

Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh (Revelation 19). With one swipe of the His just sword He will slay the enemies of the gospel. The devil is only “like a roaring lion” (1Peter 5:8) but Jesus IS a roaring lion. Satan and the demons tremble before His might.

He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The protector of Israel in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Yet He is before Abraham (John 8:58).

He is also the “Root of David” (verse 5). The source of David’s reign. The pre-eminent one above every King or patriarch.

He is a descendant yet He is pre-eminent.

And He is worthy to take the scrolls because He has “conquered” (verse 5)

The Lamb

In an incredible contrast, when John fixes his eyes to behold this “lion,” He in fact sees a Lamb (verse 6). Lambs are preyed upon; they are weak, harmless, lowly, sheared for clothes and killed for food and sacrifice.

These two juxtapositions could not be more shockingly stark. In Christ we have the paradoxical Servant King, the conquering Lion and the lowly Lamb.

In a mysterious peculiar narrative that could only be God-borne, the Lion conquers all His enemies by becoming a Lamb. (Phil. 2:5-11)

The Lord of the Universe becomes a suffering Savior to His covenant children (Isaiah 53:3-12).

The Lamb is standing, alive forevermore, though it appeared for a short time He “had been slain” (verse 6)

Christ’s final cry on the cross “It is finished” was not the surrendering death gurgle of a tortured Jewish man, it was the victorious roar of a Lion that shook foundations of heaven and earth.

This is a lamb-like Lion, and a Lion-like lamb. And he is “standing,” next to throne not slumping or laying down. Not dejected and defeated, but upright and fully alive because the war is won.

Perfect Everything

Seven (perfection) horns protrude from His head– Again seven, the number of perfection or completion. Horns in the Old Testament signified authority. Christ is a Lamb with perfect authority and power, or “omnipotence”  Seven eyes-He sees all and knows all. Seven eyes signify perfect wisdom and knowledge of all. He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 48:9-10). This is Christ’s “omniscience.” Seven Spirits signify God’s presence everywhere at all times. No one can flee from Him, He is always imminent in our lives. This is Christ’s “omnipresence.”

A king with only authority and no wisdom would be a cruel tyrant dictator. A Hitler of sorts. A King with only wisdom and no authority would be helpless to exercise good for his people. A figure-head of sorts (King of England?)

Look how both perfect wisdom and perfect authority dwell in the person of Jesus Christ. These are the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ!

As a father I can be very loving and gentle with my children. But if I were to feel they were in harms way that gentleness would be replaced with a fierce hand of violent protection. I will go straight William Wallace on you and your speeding chick car in my neighborhood.

God in Christ is the same way, only exponentially more loving and powerful. He protects us with a loving soft hand of a father and defends us with a clenched fist of a righteous warrior.

In verse 7 we see Jesus literally take the scroll of history from the very hand of God the Father. This is the Father handing over the keys of the Kingdom to the Son. Christ the sovereign one holds history in his perfect hands from beginning to end! He is working all things out (your life) according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).

The heavenly company falls down to worship the Lamb (verse 8) an adulation that was at one time reserved for God the Father (Revelation 4:10).

They reveal in their song why the Lamb is their sole object of worship: Because of His blood shed for His ransomed people (verse 9).

Or as John the Baptist said “Behold! The lamb who takes away the sins of the world John” (1:29)

The culmination of God’s perfect love, justice, holiness, mercy and glory is found in beholding the God-man suspended between heaven and earth taking the full cup of the Father’s wrath for us.

Behold the worthy one being revealed in Revelation 5. CH Spurgeon concludes:

We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy; we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness; we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God; we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
Even obedience to the cross. Amen.

A Revelation of Jesus Christ-The Lion, The Lamb, The Life Evermore pt 2

5And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,   “Worthy are you to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
   from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
   and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-10)
 
 
The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion (verse 5). A lion preys upon the weak; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.
Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh (Revelation 19). With one swipe of the His just sword He will slay the enemies of the gospel. The devil is only “like a roaring lion” (1Peter 5:8) but Jesus IS a roaring lion. Satan and the demons tremble before His might.
 
He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The protector of Israel in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
 
Yet He is before Abraham (John 8:58).
 
He is also the “Root of David” (verse 5). The source of David’s reign. The pre-eminent one above every King or patriarch.
 
He is a descendant yet He is pre-eminent.
 
And He is worthy to take the scrolls because He has “conquered” (verse 5)
 
In an incredible contrast, when John fixes his eyes to behold this “lion,” He in fact sees a Lamb (verse 6). Lambs are preyed upon; they are weak, harmless, lowly, sheared for clothes and killed for food and sacrifice.
These two juxtapositions could not be more shockingly stark. In Christ we have the paradoxical Servant King, the conquering Lion and the lowly Lamb.
 
In a mysterious peculiar narrative that could only be God-borne, the Lion conquers all His enemies by becoming a Lamb. (Phil. 2:5-11)
The Lord of the Universe becomes a suffering Savior to His covenant children (Isaiah 53:3-12).
 
The Lamb is standing, alive forevermore, though it appeared for a short time He “had been slain” (verse 6)
 
Christ’s final cry on the cross “It is finished” was not the surrendering death gurgle of a tortured Jewish man, it was the victorious roar of a Lion that shook foundations of heaven and earth.
This is a lamb like Lion, and a Lion like lamb. And he is “standing,” next to throne not slumping or laying down. Not dejected and defeated, but upright and fully alive because the war is won.
 
Seven (perfection) horns protrude from His head– Again seven, the number of perfection or completion. Horns in the Old Testament signified authority. Christ is a Lamb with perfect authority and power, or “omnipotence”  Seven eyes-He sees all and knows all. Seven eyes signify perfect wisdom and knowledge of all. He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 48:9-10). This is Christ’s “omniscience.” Seven Spirits signify God’s presence everywhere at all times. No one can flee from Him, He is always imminent in our lives. This is Christ’s “omnipresence.”
 
A king with only authority and no wisdom would be a cruel tyrant dictator. A Hitler of sorts. A King with only wisdom and no authority would be helpless to exercise good for his people. A figure-head of sorts (King of England?)
 
Look how both perfect wisdom and perfect authority dwell in the person of Jesus Christ. These are the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ!
As a father I can be very loving and gentle with my children. But if I were to feel they were in harms way that gentleness would be replaced with a fierce hand (or bullet) of violent protection. As you know, I will go straight William Wallace on you and your speeding chick car in my neighborhood.
God in Christ is the same way, only exponentially more loving and powerful. He protects us with a loving soft hand of a father and defends us with a clenched fist of a righteous warrior.
 
In verse 7 we see Jesus literally take the scroll of history from the very hand of God the Father. This is the Father handing over the keys of the Kingdom to the Son. Christ the sovereign one holds history in his perfect hands from beginning to end! He is working all things out (your life) according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).
 
The heavenly company falls down to worship the Lamb (verse 8) an adulation that was at one time reserved for God the Father (Revelation 4:10).
 
They reveal in their song why the Lamb is their sole object of worship: Because of His blood shed for His ransomed people (verse 9).
Or as John the Baptist said “Behold! The lamb who takes away the sins of the world John” (1:29)
 
The culmination of God’s perfect love, justice, holiness, mercy and glory is found in beholding the God-man suspended between heaven and earth taking the full cup of the Father’s wrath for us.
 
Behold the worthy one being revealed in Revelation 5. CH Spurgeon concludes :
 
We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension; we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy; we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness; we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God; we admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil; we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
Even obedience to the cross. Amen.
 
Bryan Daniels

A Revelation of Jesus Christ-The Scroll, The Seals, And The Sorrow pt 1

(Revelation 5:1-10 )

1Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  

There is a reason the book of Revelation means very little to us. With it’s vivid imagery and striking symbolism we typically leave it up to the prophecy experts and theological doctorates to debate the book’s mysterious meaning. But before we believe this controversial book has anything to do with Kirk Cameron, a European antiChrist, or a pretrib/posttrib debate we better go back to the first verse: “The revelation of Jesus Christ….” (Revelation 1:1)  

Paul displays why we miss the blatant significance of the gospel in his letter to the Corinthian church:

4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.(2 Cor 4:4, 6)

 

We know very little of the far-reaching negative implications of our sin nature. Scripture says we are morally twisted creatures, depraved and sinful to our heart’s core (Romans 3:21-26). But this means that we’re not just bad, we’re blind.

We’re blind to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

You can be involved in church activities and ministry leadership and still have no revelation of the glory God in the face of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many Scriptures lift up the veil in spectacular ways for a moment for us: Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1, John 1, Ezekiel 1. After Ezekiel has his vision of God’s disturbing holiness, the prophet is in a trance for a week! On the surface, it seems these are the babblings of mad men; they search for words as best they can pressing the language with all their mental might.

John, the exiled revelator was one of those blessed mad men.

In Revelation 5:1 of John’s vision we are introduced to The King holding the Scrolls-The scrolls were probably similar to a Roman will or contract deed. The scrolls intimate the God’s purposes for human history:The King’s divine decrees from start to finish. He is in absolute control. From Creation to the fall, from the death of Christ to the return of Christ, it all fits in his mighty right hand. Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, stillborn babies and even a sparrow falling to the ground.  God knows and has some purpose for letting it all come to pass. 

Notice John only sees the throne and the right hand of the one holding the scroll. God’s face can never be seen in its unadulterated light. One of the most shocking testimonies to God’s unapproachable holiness is the fact that the godly men who knew it best could never even begin to describe it. No man may see His face and live.

In v.2-3 an angel asks a provocative question: “Who is worthy to open the scroll? The scroll is sealed with seven seals, the symbol of perfection which suggests they could not be opened by just any candidate. This question is posited by a particularly Strong angel (Michael maybe?) This question begs the question: Why doesn’t Michael or one of the blazing seraphim open it? They can’t.  

Furthermore, why doesn’t the holy King on the throne open it? He needs a mediator (1Tim2:5-6). The only thing God could do to us apart from a worthy mediator is destroy us. One holy man must open it, otherwise every name would be blotted out of history in the King’s just judgment.

 In Verse 4 John comes undone.  There really was no one present that could make right the tragedy that is human history. No mighty angel in heaven, no charismatic leader on earth.

But we need not weep with John just yet.

The most prominent figure of the passage hasn’t been injected into the stirring scene.  We know the end of the story. But let John’s grief make it clear, a Christless heaven is only a prospect to be mourned. The future is hopeless apart from a perfect substitute taking our wrath; that’s why John is a torn man. Only Christ is worthy to unwrap the climactic events of the last days, and every day for that matter.

What John observes next is a shocking illustration of God’s character and glory. It leaves the apostle shaken and stirred; God willing, it will brand us in the same way.

Bryan Daniels

The Final Prophet: Who Has Your Ear?

The ever quotable AW Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”

We can be very religious, but if we are not utterly fascinated with the person of Jesus Christ our worship is base. Scripture says the Glory of God is found in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). If we would be acquainted with God’s glory we must find it in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Christ revealed Himself to be many things. One office He fulfilled was that of prophet; not just any prophet, but in an ultimate everlasting way THE FINAL PROPHET for all peoples and ages. Scripture communicates this in Hebrews 1:1-2:

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

In Hebrews 1:1 we find that God speaks-He is not silent. He reveals Himself. Only a person can speak. Only a person who wants to relate to other persons can speak and communicate.

God is a person, with a personality, with a heart to communicate to us. He is neither stoic nor neutral about communicating truth to us.

Before, in the Old Testament, He spoke through various prophets to Israel. Who was a prophet? Not a purple haired lady or some greasy haired charlatan in a three-piece suit who waxes, “Sow into our ministry and we’ll give you miracle water/prayer cloth/financial anointing!”

The OT prophets words were tough; Forget seeker sensitive, more like seeker abrasive. Their consummate message: Don’t put your trust in the living God for coats and boats, trust Him because His perfect wrath will fall on you if you don’t! Some prophets were subjected to utter rejection while carrying out strange and radical displays of obedience. (read about Hosea here)

John the Baptist, the forerunner prophet of Christ, was a wild man with an uncompromising message of repentance.

A prophet is one who simply speaks for God. They are, in the moment they are prophesying, the mouthpiece of God (2 Peter 1:21). God could have spoken with a thundering voice from the sky, but that would neglect the human incarnational component He was intimating. In an awe-inspiring way God chooses sinful men as His blessed ambassadors.

This speaking happened “in many ways.” (verse 1) Through creation, as Psalm 19 shows, nature speaks praises of her Creator. God speaks now through the recorded lives and words of Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, Samuel and David. God can even speak through the sacrificial system of Leviticus and endless genealogies of Numbers. Though the message is singular, God has diversified the means with which He would speak to man.

For us to say “God has not spoken to me,” is like covering our ears during a concert and saying “I can’t hear anything.” If we aren’t hearing it’s our fault. The problem isn’t with the decibel level of God’s voice, it is with the selective hearing of our own ears.

God’s creation, God’s prophets and Christ’s blood have spoken with clarity, and all who spurn their word will be condemned justly.

Verse 1 says He has spoken in these “Last days through the Son” Usually, in the NT, the “last days” refer to the advent of Christ into the world. I’m not convinced the disciples had a “Left Behind” dispensational understanding of the end times. The beginning of the “last days” started with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So in a real sense the disciples believed they were living in the last days. In the person of Christ, we find God’s final communication to humanity for these last days.

As CS Lewis stated “Christ is the self-expression of the father.” The Father had one thing to say to us, and He breathed out Christ into the world as the message in the flesh. As the final prophet, He is the living Word of God to humanity (John 1;1).

Have we heard God’s voice through the work and person of Jesus Christ? Has the magnitude and beauty of the cross ravaged us? Has the wonder and power of the empty grave captivated us?

Both the Old and the New Testament speak of Him, and thus the whole series of prophets testified to the Person, work, grace and glory of the Son of God. Christ said “You search the Scriptures because in them you seek eternal life. But these Scriptures testify of me!”(John 5:39) Our privilege is to see Christ in it all from Genesis to Maps. Jesus in every bible story, character, prophecy, praise, lament, everything.

He is the center of the story. His words do not reveal information, they reveal Him!

God’s word is “God –breathed” and He continues to speak to us through his word about Jesus. (2 Tim 3:16) The testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10)

What is the final prophet saying to me? This is no ordinary man making unsubstantiated claims. This not just another Mohammed, Joseph Smith or Jim Jones. This is the “heir of all things.”  Christ owns it all, for through Him God made the universe (Hebrews 1:2) Yet this is still a person; through God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit a word is being spoken to us. The Comforter has many things to say. There is a message that is being communicated right now. That is why Jesus and the prophets proclaim again and again, “He who has an ear let him hear!”

Which begs a personal question:

Who has your ear?

Facebook, Fox News, Hollywood, ESPN, Twitter? (I’m wounding my own pride)

Some voices have no right to speak into your life.

You can listen to Snookie. Or you can listen to the one who speaks for God. This one Who speaks is very God of God. Are you listening to Him? He is speaking. In and through Christ. Listen.

Bryan Daniels

Naming Your Child: A Prophetic Declaration?

Names were rich in meaning in the ancient days. You didn’t just name your children wily nily whatever-sounds-good-at-the time names.

A hodge podge assimilation of syllables or fleeting cultural icons would never do for a child’s name way back when (ie I’ve ran across more than one “Nike” or “Mercedes”). A regrettable upward trend in 2010 girl baby names shows that “Kendra” and “Kourtney” with a “K” are becoming more popular among young parents. Why? Because of the notorious reality shows of Kourtney Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson (former playmate).

In the olden days of biblical history, a child’s name held a certain foreshadowing weight to it. Bestowing a name on a child was a prophetic declaration, a visible sign of God fulfilling his covenant promises to the individual families of Israel.

Biblical names revealed much about a person’s past, expected future character, or life in general:

Adam means “man, clay or dust.” Eve means “first woman.”

Abraham means “father of multitude,”; after billions of “children” have come from his seed I would say that prophetic name has rang true. Abraham named his son “Isaac”, which means “laughter” (which is what the elderly Sara did when she found she would be pregnant with him!)

Biblical names didn’t always have endearing overtones attached to them. Look at the tragic names of the children of prophet Hosea for more on this (the boy named “Sue” was lucky compared to them). Isaac’s son, Jacob, name means “trickster or deceiver”, which is what he ended up doing to Esau to obtain his birthright. Jacob later wrestled with the Lord to obtain his new name, Israel, which means “straightened by God” (Genesis 32). So in the case of Jacob, his respective names reflected that a deceitful crook got straightened out by the Holy One of Israel.

“Samuel” means “heard from God” which is what he did as a prophet to Israel.

Peter’s name means “The Rock”, as in one of the foundational apostles the early church would be built on.

So in many cases, biblical characters are given names (prophetically and retroactively) that reflect their personal qualities.

My wife and I are not trying to be hyper-spiritual, but we do believe our son’s names should be meaningful to us, just as a baby’s name was meaningful to the biblical families of old. We decided on the names “Josiah” (our two-year old) and “Gideon” (due March) for various reasons. Though most people complement the uniqueness of the names, we do get some semi-puzzled looks that seem to intimate certain questions such as “Are you Jewish?” or “Are you Amish?” or “Are you weird?”

“Josiah” was one of the few righteous kings in Israel’s history in a long line of royal charlatans and chumps (2 Kings 22:2). “Josiah” means “Jehovah heals/saves” and in the anglicized version of the Hebrew it means “Fire of God.” He became king at the ripe age of eight after his father, Amon, was assassinated. He was the last good thing to happen to the nation of Israel before it was utterly destroyed in 586 B.C by Babylon. At the young age of 20, King Josiah began a building campaign to restore and repair the Temple which was neglected by kings past. During construction the “Book of The Law” was discovered and its commands struck the young king like a knife in the heart. By repenting of idolatry on behalf of his nation, and preaching the newly found word of God, the bold Josiah began a massive reformation in the life of Israel (2 Chron 34:21-33).

"King" Josiah on horseback....with his mom

Gideon was a “mighty man of valor” and a warrior judge for the nation of Israel. “Gideon” literally means “mighty warrior.” By trusting in God he carried out great exploits for his nation even when the odds were stacked ridiculously against him (Judges 7:4-7). Through supernatural means, Gideon led the outnumbered Israelites to victory over the Midianite forces, and purged the Israeli camp of Baal worship. After 40 years of relative prosperity and peace under Gideon Israel tried to coronate him king, but he refused, insisting only God should hold such honor.

We hope and pray our son’s names are like prophetic declarations that bear fruit similar to the lives of the biblical Josiah and Gideon. I hope Josiah is not necessarily political royalty, but rather a zealous repentant leader who preaches the word and longs for revival. I hope Gideon is not necessarily a military leader, but rather a courageous and humble spiritual warrior who fights for the soul of his family and community while violently destroying the idols in his own life.

But more than anything, I want them to fall in love with Jesus (or “the one who saves”), and make it their aim to know Him and make His name known (Matt 1:21). Ultimately, Jesus is the name above every other name, and all who confess Him will find true significance, and most importantly, salvation in His mighty name (Phill 2:9-11).

Bryan Daniels

Lil Wayne’s Incarceration: A Call to Freedom

In case you have been too enamored with election results to actually watch the “real” news, let me fill you in: rapper Lil Wayne is free at last!

Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.), was recently incarcerated for 8 months stemming from an illegal gun possession charge. As he partook in solitary confinement his album sales for I am Not a Human Being soared to No.1 on the Billboard 200.

Jeezy

Behind the mystique lies a heart-rending tale of modern times.

In addition to gun charges, Carter has also had multiple drug charges leveled against him.

To date, Carter has at least four children by three different women.

Even though he was an honor student, Carter dropped out of high school. (To his credit he is currently trying to complete an online degree)

At the age of 13, he accidentally shot himself with a .44 caliber gun.

Most of these events are just symptoms, pointing to a larger sickness. All of these circumstances have an origin in some way to the most tragic fact in Mr. Carter’s bio:

His parents were divorced when he was 2, after which his father permanently abandoned the family.

In a recent interview, Carter explained why he has dropped the “D” from his given name “Dwayne”, opting for “Wayne”:

“I dropped the D because I’m a junior and my father is living and he’s not in my life and he’s never been in my life. So I don’t want to be Dwayne, I’d rather be Wayne”. Asked if his father knew of this and Wayne replied with a smile, “He knows now.”

Behind the smile lies a little boy still needing his father’s affirmation.

The case of Carter is a case against our times. The prevalence of absent fathers is a scourge on our society.

As a father, all I can say is I don’t fully understand this tendency towards abandonment. I’d rather die a thousand deaths than miss my son’s first words, birthdays, football games, and other milestone moments .

I do know there are a litany of factors to consider: socioeconomic, educational, psychological, learned family traits, etc. But the prevailing factor behind it all can get lost sometimes in our philosophizing:

Sin. Sins of the heart.

Sin not only hardens our hearts against God and His revealed will, it hardens our hearts against people, even the people closest to us; our family. One of the first sins ever recorded in the Bible was a family feud that turned into premeditated murder.

It is cases like Carter’s that make me cling to one of the most compelling promises in Scripture. 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 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. It’s a heart issue. All sins are.

Whether by overt acts of abuse, subversive attitudes of disappointment, or the act on trial here: neglectful abandonment. Apart from a turning of heart, all father’s are susceptible to this.

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. Children must have a turning of the heart too.

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, even Lil Wayne’s. I long for the day men like him see freedom not in the context of a prison release, but in the freedom from sin found in Christ. True freedom that breaks every curse, and makes them the fathers, husbands and children that can revive a nation.

Bryan Daniels