Sunday, May 25, 2014


Scott Dannemiller is a Corporate Business man who, along with his wife. left the corporate scene a few years back and became Missionaries in Southwestern Guatemala. Scott is now a leadership trainer and in the corporate world again with a new perspective. He writes a blog entitled "The Accidental Missionary." This is a post on that blog worth reading by all who visit here. Enjoy!

FEBRUARY 20, 2014 · 11:38 PM

One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day.  After covering important topics, like disparaging each other and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane. "So how's the work going?" he asked.

For those of you who don’t know, I make money by teaching leadership skills and helping people learn to get along in corporate America.  My wife says it’s all a clever disguise so I can get up in front of large groups and tell stories.

I plead the fifth.

I answered my buddy’s question with, “Definitely feeling blessed.  Last year was the best year yet for my business.  And it looks like this year will be just as busy.”

The words rolled off my tongue without a second thought.  Like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or placing my usual lunch order at McDonald’s.

But it was a lie.

Now, before you start taking up a collection for the “Feed the Dannemillers” fund, allow me to explain.  Based on last year’s quest to go twelve months without buying anything, you may have the impression that our family is subsisting on Ramen noodles and free chips and salsa at the local Mexican restaurant.  Not to worry, we are not in dire straits.

Last year was the best year yet for my business.

Things are looking busy in 2014.

But [the lie is] that is not a blessing.

I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed.  Like the “amen” at the end of a prayer.

“This new car is such a blessing.”

“Finally closed on the house.  Feeling blessed.”

“Just got back from a mission trip.  Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.”

On the surface, the phrase seems harmless.  Faithful even.  Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have?  Isn’t that the right thing to do?


As I reflected on my “feeling blessed” comment, two thoughts came to mind.  I realize I’m splitting hairs here, creating an argument over semantics.  But bear with me, because I believe it is critically important.  It’s one of those things we can’t see because it’s so culturally ingrained that it has become normal.

But it has to stop.  And here’s why.

First, when I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers.  I can’t help but draw parallels to how I handed out M&M’s to my own kids when they followed my directions and chose to poop in the toilet rather than in their pants.

Sure, God wants us to continually seek His will, and it’s for our own good.  But positive reinforcement?

God is not a behavioral psychologist.

Second, and more importantly, calling myself blessed because of material good fortune is just plain wrong. 

For starters, it can be offensive to the hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who live on less than $10 per day.  You read that right.  Hundreds of millions who receive a single-digit dollar “blessing” per day.

During our year in Guatemala, Gabby and I witnessed first-hand the damage done by the theology of prosperity, where faithful people scraping by to feed their families were simply told they must not be faithful enough.  If they were, God would pull them out of their nightmare.  Just try harder, and God will show favor.

The problem?  Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith.  In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

I’ll take door number three, please.

If we’re looking for the definition of blessing, Jesus spells it out clearly.

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach
them, saying:
     3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
     5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
     6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
     7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
     8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
     9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
     12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt 5: 1-12)

I have a sneaking suspicion something was omitted from the text. That’s where the disciples responded by saying,

12a Waitest thou for one second , Lord. What about “blessed art thou comfortable”, or  12b “blessed art thou which havest good jobs, a modest house in the suburbs, and a yearly vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast?”

12c And Jesus said unto them, “Apologies, my brothers, but those did not maketh the cut.”

So there it is.  Written in red.  Plain as day. Even still, we ignore it all when we hijack the word “blessed” to make it fit neatly into our modern American ideals, creating a cosmic lottery where every sincere prayer buys us another scratch-off ticket.   In the process, we stand the risk of alienating those we are hoping to bring to the faith.

And we have to stop playing that game.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have.  It’s beyond comprehension.  But I certainly don’t believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way.  It’s not guaranteed.  But if it does happen, I don’t believe Jesus will call me blessed. He will call me “burdened.”

He will ask,

“What will you do with it?”

“Will you use it for yourself?”
“Will you use it to help?”
“Will you hold it close for comfort?”
“Will you share it?”

So many hard choices.  So few easy answers.

So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing.  It’s not my house. Or my job.  Or my standard of living.


My blessing is this.  I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless.  I know a God who loves the unlovable.  I know a God who comforts the sorrowful.  And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us.

And for this blessing, may our response always be,

“Use me.”

* Writers note:  Since I had this conversation, my new response is simply, “I’m grateful.”

You will find Scott's blog here...

Paul speaking here...

I'm not asking that anyone agree one hundred percent with what Scott has said. But I must confess that on a scale of balance, my thoughts would weigh heavily on the agreement side. I'm grateful for this testimony and challenge. I've been taught much here. Thanks Scott!

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


At least 95%? My hand's up.

I've spent many hours with Christians who had heard, and believed, prosperity preachers, and were despondent because of their apparent "failure to have enough faith".

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

It is SO GOOD to get new definitions for old words like "blessing." This definition...."So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living.


My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us."....

And that says it ALL.says it ALL.

Rex Ray said...


Sorry to say I didn’t learn a thing by this post…because you might say Scott was preaching to the choir. I believe we’re blessed most by having the parents we had in leading us to Jesus and our values in life.

I grew up like so many others in being financially poor without knowing it, but was happy in a family of six. Comparing now to then, I’m rich in money but wish for that happiness since my wife traded me to live with Jesus.

I pass out the story, “When is My Daddy Coming Home” by the hundreds, and to prevent sounding like a ‘Jehovah Witness’, I say I’m advertising a free slide ride and show a picture and directions that are at the end of the story.

It was from that story a family of four came this week to go down the slide. They liked a ‘special’ swing the best. They sat on a mattress in the back of a pickup to ride in a pasture with cows to see a nine acre lake with a floating deck where they watched fish and got turtles from a turtle trap. They stood together on a 12 foot tower to watch the waves. What made my day was a 9 year old girl saying, “Mama, we got to come here every day.”

Paul Burleson said...


I hear what you're saying, but I learn much from what other people communicate, the way they say things, the language they use to express ideas, their journey, their passion, just being able to say an "amen" about certain things and being reminded of the need for gratitude is always a learning experience for me.

But I do admit to a bit of "weirdness" on my part. ;)

Aussie John said...


Oh, for more of that "weirdness"!

" but I learn much from what other people etc." - absolutely!

I read some sound words once, that went like this,"The wise never stop learning and unlearning. To stop would mean death or delusion."

Paul! I'm certain of your acquiescence here; As important it is to learn, it is, at least as important to UNLEARN many things.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Truer words than your final sentence have never been spoken. Well said!

Rodney Sprayberry said...

I am just thinking out loud here but it seems to be that there is a place in our faith-lanquage for the word "blessing" or the feeling of being "blessed"

In reading you recent Facebook commnets and posts on this blog it seems to me that you stumbled across what i am thinking about maybe without even recognizing it...( or maybe you just accepts it it to be true and I am late to the party)

Because I believe that "nothing good in the Christian experience happens outside the context of relationships" and because I believe that whatever crowns, rewards, and treasures that are available to us in this life and in the next are relational in nature...I think it is appropriate and even biblical to think of being blessed by the relationships ( With God and others) in our lives.

As I said...just thinking out loud.

Paul Burleson said...


I tend to think that your thoughts...."I think it is appropriate and even biblical to think of being blessed by the relationships ( With God and others) in our lives."....are also valid as I understand scripture.

Jesus said to NOT lay up treasure where things can destroy it, but rather lay up treasure where nothing can destroy it. I'm thinking relationships are the only THING here that we have which will be THERE.

The significant thing often forgotten is that whatever is precious [treasure] to us will be what DRAWS OUR HEART. "There will your heart be also."

Only what we believe is a blessing draws our heart. So...I figure what you said is spot on.