Christmas Lights and Prayer

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our place… not quite up with the neighbors… yet

Our neighborhood made it into the newspaper and channel 13 news this year for our Christmas lights. Here is a link to a video made by a Real Estate Team in the area. Pretty cool.

Shawn, the neighbor directly across from us –  and sitting on the boat in the video – got it all started. His house sits at the corner where our street makes a dog leg. He got with Craig, who is about 4 houses away from us, at 90 degrees, and they strung lights from roof peak to roof peak, across the street. Then we joined in, as did the houses in-between us and Craig, and then it all just went crazy.

And now for the prayer.

I think it was on the 16th, when I was adding some lights trying to keep up with the neighbors, that I heard the sirens. They stopped at Craig’s house. He had had a heart attack. Craig was a believer, well loved, only 46 years old, exercised like crazy, loved the outdoors, and went home to heaven on the 23rd. It just seems crazy. Still, we all wonder if he got Gabriel to add some lights when he arrived.

His memorial service is tomorrow at 11.

Please pray for the family – his wife and two boys, one a HS senior, the other already in college.

Like CS Lewis said, “We have no doubt that God’s will is best. We just wonder how hard His best will turn out to be.”

Thanks

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and I hope lots of other places.

Favorite Christmas Tradition

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Christmas in Tucson (notice the tree with tinsel in the window) the year I became a cowboy.

This is a link to my favorite Christmas tradition. It might become yours as well.

And it has a unique history.

The first Christmas after my dad came home from WWII, in the mid 1940s, he recorded “A Christmas Carol” as broadcast from England, with Alec Guinness in the part of Scrooge.

Who knew Alec Guinness had a life before Obi-wan?

Dad had just purchased a new Wollensak reel-to-reel recorder, and they had an old tall radio for entertainment – those being the days before TV. Dad decided to give the recorder a try, so he threaded in a tape, propped up the mic in front of the big radio speaker, hit the “record” button, and everyone stayed quiet in the background as the broadcast started. This was in the days before plastic tape, so it was recorded on paper tape, a superior recording if not as long lasting.

It came out brilliant. The tradition began.

Every Christmas Eve my family listened to this recording. Being insecure since my blanket was taken away at age five – when I left home in 1975, I didn’t want to be without “Scrooge.” So I got out my cheap mono Craig Philco_A361_frontcassette recorder, Dad set up his reel-to-reel, and we made my copy. A few years later, that cassette was the only copy left, as the paper tape had deteriorated beyond repair. Thanks to the cassette, the tradition could continue.

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine used the old cassette to make a digital recording for me. The digital copy was never very good, as the cassette had pretty much given it’s best over 30 years of use. So, the last decade or so I’ve been forcing my kids to listen to 30 minutes of loud background noise with a faint radio broadcast in the background as they sit bored every Christmas Eve.  Thanks to my obnoxiousness, the tradition continued.

Until this year.

wollensak goodThis year my son-in-law Jon did his digital magic to the 10-year-old digital recording. It is truly magic, sounding like I remember it in my youth.

Here it is, 70 years later, as inspiring as it was that first time my parents heard it.

Now your Christmas is forever changed for the better. And you didn’t have to record the broadcast or fix it or nothing. It’s free!

You owe me.

So buy a book, and say nice things about it in your review.

Merry Christmas!  Dan

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and I hope lots of other places.

7 BEST Christmas Quotes

M_AliceCooper2012ChristmasPudding630_102312What do CS Lewis and Alice Cooper have in common? They both have made terrific, true, Christmas quotes. The quotes then. . .

1. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he though doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more! – Dr. Seuss

2. The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God. – C.S.Lewis (Mere Christianity)

3. In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it “Christmas” and went to church; the Jews called it “Hanukkah” and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukkah!” or (to the atheists) “Look out for the wall!” – Dave Barry

4. He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. – Roy L. Smith

5. The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school. – Alice Cooper

6. As I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog. – Philip Yancey

7. “It seems, then”, said Tirian…”that the Stable seen from within and the Stable seen from without are two different places.” “Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.” “Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and I hope lots of other places.

My 3 Worst Reviews

T+L_hands_1Reviews either make you proud or paranoid. When the first Bizarre book was re-released in 2012, all the reviews started over. Three people seem a bit unhappy with their purchase.

  1. The book looked like a fun, light-hearted read: wrong. I admit I didn’t finish the book and probably won’t–which is unusual for me. It was creepy with undercurrents that had the potential to scare the crap out of a child. Old fairy tales were criticized for being too scary: this is “Hansel and Gretel” go to church?

That reviewer claimed to be a child. I’m not psychic, but they lied. What child complains about being scared in a book? I rather like that last line, it’s funny and Hansel and Gretel are classics for a reason, so I can handle it. But then this one came in. . .

  1. “Bizarre” Is Right. Disliked It. I was expecting something fun and educational for kids, but I saw a lot of undertones there. A lot of room for hatred and intolerance of other religions. I would not recommend this book at all. And to say that these things “really happened”?? Come on, we all know some bible stories are just to teach good lessons. I very much disliked this book.

And then the topper. . .

  1. The contents of this book are complete rubbish! None of these claims are supported by evidence. Why is it ok to produce something fantastical and promote it as fact. Bleh!

So I’m asking, would you be willing to review Bizarre Bible Stories and/or Bizarre Bible Stories 2? Even just one sentence is a HUGE help. Most of the reviews are positive, but when you write to children and present the Bible as true in everything that it teaches, you can get some nasty feedback from  those who disagree. And, the church-challenged world is where we really want the books to go. Bizarre one made it into Wall-mart for a time. I didn’t make any money from it, but that is exactly where we want it.

Below I posted the dedication, and a bit of the beginning and ending of Chapter One from Bizarre Bible Stories 2, in case you haven’t purchased it yet. I can’t publish too much, as the publisher now owns the rights to the book, and of course the formatting becomes possessed when I try to import it anyway.

Thanks for your help!

Dan

Dedication

To Kristina Rae Barrett

Christina (2)Thank you, Kristina, for writing the question for chapter one a few years ago. You wrote, “Dear God, Why did you give me cancer?”

Kristina, I’ve known your dad since he was in my youth group back in ’85. You inherited his spunk, love of life, and incomprehensibly deep faith. Actually, I think you passed us all up, telling your dad at one point, “If this is God’s plan for me, then I accept it.”

Hebrews 11-12 teaches us that those who have died in the faith go on cheering for us as we live out our lives of faith. If they can watch us, maybe God also lets them read what we write.

Kristina, I hope you enjoy Chapter 1.

Kristina Rae Barrett • May 30, 2002 – June 21, 2014 This book is dedicated to you.

STORY 1: The Left-Handed Assassin

The Question: Dear God, “Why did I get cancer?”

The Passage: Judges 3

Would you like to look different? Would you like to be smarter? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Sometimes I wish God had made me different. It’s not that I look disgusting, I’ve seen worse. But, why didn’t He give me shoulders? My arms go down to my knees because they come out of my neck. Was that necessary? In Judges Chapter 3 we have a person who thought he was perfect, but wasn’t. And we have another person who probably wished God had made him differently. But God made him perfect for what God wanted him to do.

N O W L E T ’ S G E T S TA R T E D . . .

The time of the Judges was demanding. When we get to Judges Chapter 3, life in Israel was horrible. Moses had led the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Joshua had led them into the Promised Land. Life should have been good, but when Moses, Joshua, and the previous leaders died, the people did evil in the Lord’s sight.” [Judges 3:12 NLT] The people were poor, their army was weak, and they were little more than slaves to an evil jerk named Eglon, King of Moab.

Through war, Eglon had gained control of Israel. His life was great. He was king and his kingdom was growing. So was he. His name means “male calf,” which was fitting in that the Bible says he was both enormous and callous. His army came into Israel as far as Jericho, where he stopped and bartered a peace treaty to end the war. Israel became Moab’s territory. The Israelites were virtual slaves, giving King Eglon most of the money they made. In return, Eglon stopped the war. For 18 years, Israel belonged to Eglon.

Have you ever felt far from God and then gone to Him for help? What brought you back to God?

Eglon was a pain, and pain has a way of bringing us back to God. Here is what the Bible says happened next. . .

now to the end of the story

. . . Ehud had an unfair advantage. No security forces checked the left-handed man. Nor did they check his right side for a dagger. The king wasn’t afraid to be alone with him. Maybe God did something to eliminate Ehud’s sense of smell too — just to be nice.

A one-handed, left-handed, small, smell-deprived Ehud killed the powerful King of Moab. It’s as if God beat Eglon with one hand tied behind His back.

There is an old Haitian saying, “God’s pencil has no eraser.” God didn’t make a mistake when He made Ehud — or when Ehud lost his right arm. Because of a deformed, one-armed weak person following God, Moab was soon defeated and Israel had peace for 80 years. Not bad. Ehud may have wished God made him differently. God made him perfect. Now if I can just find a use for ape-arms.

So, What Should I Do?  ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE

God created you just right for accomplishing His will in your life. In fact, He created you with an unfair advantage. He created you for this time and this place. You could have been born during the time of Ehud. You weren’t. You could have grown up anywhere else. You didn’t. God could have created you super-model looking. I’m guessing He didn’t. He could have made it where you not only didn’t get cancer, but where you never even became sick. Instead, God made you just right for this time and this place to work out His will in your life.

Where else is this taught?

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
  • Corinthians 1:26-28 (NLT) Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish (left-handed) in order to shame those who think they are wise (kings). And he chose things that are powerless (one-handed) to shame those who are powerful (king’s guards). God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all (Jewish nation), and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important (Moab). (Author’s notes)
  • Philippians 4:13 (NLT) I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
  • Corinthians 3:5 (NLT) It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our Our qualification comes from God.

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and I hope lots of other places.

Gene Getz Endorses Bizarre Bible Stories 2!

renewal-radio-260x195.jpgWhat a gracious guy! I had Gene for a class at Moody.  When a student wouldn’t stop calling him “Dr. Getz,” he stopped teaching the class and told us about his struggles in ministry, his insecurities and perceived failures – and how that led to his desire to just be called  “Gene.”

Other professors seem to ignore their students except to promote their own work. Gene didn’t ignore me when I got in touch with him to ask him to promote my work. Seventeen years after the class he remembered me, and wrote:

“Simply put, author Dan Cooley’s Bizarre Bible Stories and Bizarre Bible Stories 2! utilize a vernacular, contemporary writing style intended to reach an audience of children and youth with solid Christian doctrine and practical application. The discussion questions interspersed throughout the text are thoughtfully designed to promote interaction between parents and their children on numerous topics of interest. Cooley’s books reflect his passion for providing spiritual food to children in a manner they can easily digest. His attention to detail is evident from cover to cover.”

Dr. Gene A. Getz, President of the Center for Church Renewal, and author of over 60 books including The Measure of a Man.

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and Cottonwood Church on Sunday, and I hope lots of other places. Coming to CBD, amazon.ca, and the rest of the online community next week.

Christmas, Christians and Wars

world-peace-1I was asked, “If Jesus came as the Prince of Peace, why has religion been the cause of most of the wars in the world?”

Good question. I was surprised when researching an answer.

Religion isn’t the cause of most of our wars. According to the Encyclopedia of Wars, we have had 1763 recorded wars on this planet to date – that’s wars, not battles. Of those, less than 7% have been in the name of any religion – and 3.7% were in the name of one religion. Islam. Now you are down to just 2-3% of wars caused by all other religions combined.

So, if the followers of Jesus haven’t been killing people for the last 2000 years, what have they been doing? Here is a short list. . .

  1. The church has become the largest single provider of healthcare in the world
    1. It pioneered modern nursing through F. Nightingale 1860 &
    2. started the Almshouses, the forerunner to nursing homes & hospitals &
    3. started the first homes for the elderly & the disabled &
    4. Founded original Red Cross working w/victims of the bubonic plague
  2. The church founded almost all schools before the state, including free schooling for the poor, schools in the slums, education for the deaf, and started the first college for the deaf in 1864. The church educated children through Sunday School in America and Brittan when there was no state education or child labor laws
    1. Started free education for destitute children called the “ragged schools”
    2. Started 100 of the first 110 universities in the US
    3. Became the largest single provider of education in the world
  1. The church was the first to stand up for the rights of women by declaring marriage sacrament,pioneered education for women and even pioneered the study of science through a believe in a Grand Designer.
  2. Churches were the 1st orphanages – children were left at churches during the middle ages, as they are now at our ministry in Haiti &
    1. Pioneered modern Foster Care through Charles Brace &
    2. Started the worlds largest orphanage system &
    3. Wrote the fist laws to protect children from abuse and neglect &
      1. Pioneered education for orphans through George Mueller &
      2. Pioneered international child sponsorship &
      3. Pioneered surgery on infants through C. Everett Koop &
      4. Started the first Children’s Homes through the Methodist church &
  1. The church led the movement to stop the slave trade in England as well as modern social work, &
    1. Prison reform through the Quakers &
    2. Microfinance or poor countries &
    3. Famine Relief &
    4. World Literacy through SIL & Wycliffe
  2. The church Stated AA through the Oxford Group & a Christian developed Braille & even the Magna Carta was written by Archbishop of Canterbury, on which our Constitution & bill of Rights is borrowed.

Without Jesus, the Prince of Peace living in & thru His followers: We would have no Harvard, no Yale, fewer hospitals, no Cottonwood Church, no YMCA, no New Testament, no Christmas Carols. Mary Magdalene would have died possessed, Matthew a cheat, Paul a jerk and we’d be lost. There would be no hope of heaven, no help for living this life, and no check on sin. We would have no Salvation Army or Baptist Relief Fund, both of which doing more to relieve the suffering in this world than most countries. There would be no Amnesty International, Compassion International, Mercy Ministries, Medical Teams International, or Samaritan’s Purse. In Albuquerque, six of the seven free Thanksgiving meals in 2014 would have been closed (Good Shepherd, Joy Junction, La Mesa Pres, St. Felix, St. Martin, Salvation Army). We would have no Albuquerque Rescue Mission, no St. Judes, no Haiti English Camp, no Walk to the Manger or Christmas Shoe Boxes or fresh water in Pierre Brizare Haiti. The Prince of Peace is real. Jesus is living and the church is proof of it.

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Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Now available in your local bookstore, Amazon, and I hope lots of other places.

Worst Christmas Timing Ever

front coverAfter Black Friday,

After the shoppers went home and the gifts were hid,

After the money was wasted, and the hot cocoa drunk,

After the parents went to bed, relieved with yet another year of Christmas shopping behind them,

Bizarre Bible Stories 2! left the printers for the bookstores.

It’s just… me, I think.

So now I pray parents shop late this year and buy books by their covers. What dad doesn’t want to buy a ninja coming out of a toilet book for his kids?

And warriors with their butts showing is a cool back cover.

You can order them online – amazon or whoever – but if you want a signed one you will have to contact the artist directly. I only wrote the inside.