A King in a Suitcase

total cover w back jpeg-002Another free devotional for your kids – this one from BIZARRE Bible Stories 2! Ch. 4
Scripture Passage: 1 Samuel 10,15
So What? So stay committed to Christ!
For Parents: [Anything in brackets]

What do you do really well? What do you not do well? If God promised to help you do what you are not good at – would you trust Him to do it?

God seems to enjoy asking us to do things we don’t think we can do. Sometimes we’re correct; we can’t do it on our own. God is teaching us that He will equip us to do whatever He asks us to do.

About 1000 years before Jesus was born, Samuel was a prophet. Many people looked to Samuel leadership because Israel didn’t have a king. God told Samuel to find a young man named Saul. Samuel was to tell Saul that he would be the first king of Israel! Then Samuel was to introduce King Saul to the rest of the country. Saul was God’s choice as king, and Samuel was God’s choice to make it happen.

Saul had a lot going for him. His family had a bit of money, and he was bigger and stronger than most people his age. He was a man of action. But Saul had a problem.

It was hard for Saul to trust God.

God wanted to set Saul up for success. God knew Saul could make a brilliant king if he would rely on Him. God, through Samuel, did a number of things in order to give Saul confidence in God. Here is what happened on the day Samuel told Saul he would be king:

1. Samuel poured oil over Saul’s head. Saul knew this meant God had selected him for special service, and the Spirit of God would assist him.
2. Samuel told Saul “God has appointed you to be king over Israel!”
3. Samuel told Saul he would meet two people later that day in Zelzah. He even told Saul what those two people would say!
4. Then Samuel told Saul that he would later meet three men who would be on their way to Bethel. They would have bread, wine, and goats. He also said they would offer him the bread and he should take it.
5. Finally, Samuel told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come on him at a place called Gibeh, where he should wait for a week for further instructions. Samuel told Saul what was going to happen before any of it happened. How cool is that?

ALL those things happened that same day – precisely as Samuel said they would! If that happened to you, would you trust Samuel? Would you trust God?

Have you ever played “Hide and Seek?” Do you have a favorite hiding place?

Later Samuel called all Israel to meet together at Mizpah. The news quickly spread that God had picked Israel’s first king. People from all over traveled to see who it would be. They packed up their wagons and animals and traveled to Mizpah. Once there, they unloaded their wagons, found a place to sleep, and waited for the big announcement.

Samuel got in front of everyone and announced, “God picked the first King of Israel! His name is Saul, son of Kish! Saul, come out!”

The people cheered – they clapped, shouted, waved, and waited to see Saul. But Saul had disappeared! The clapping died down. Everybody was waiting. Awkward!

“Saul?”

“Saul!”

“HEY SAUL, WHERE ARE YOU?”

Samuel asked God, “Where is Saul?” God answered, “Hiding among the baggage!” The great king Saul was hiding in a suitcase on his first day on the job!

Saul knew he didn’t have the ability to be king. Trusting in his own abilities, he was overwhelmed – so he hid. Saul didn’t understand that whatever God calls us to do; He will equip us to do. Saul was still having a difficult time trusting God.

Saul became king in spite of his hiding. As Saul learned to rely on God, he became a better king. He ruled with wisdom, success, and insight – for a time.

Things were going so well that Saul started making decisions on his own.

Have you ever disobeyed your parents because you thought, “Even if I get caught, it’s worth it. They will forgive me anyway?”

God told Saul, through Samuel, to go to war against some particularly wicked people. He was told to destroy everything. God knew that keeping what the wicked people owned would cause problems later. Saul didn’t do what God asked.

Once Saul and his army won the battle, the soldiers wanted to keep some of the stuff for themselves. “Why destroy it?” they asked. “This is good stuff! Let us keep it!” Saul said to himself, “Self,” he said, “I can’t control this entire army. There are 210,000 soldiers of Israel here. I’m just one guy. I’ll let them keep what they want and hope God doesn’t notice. It’s easier to be forgiven by God than to obey Him. I’ll even keep some of the animals to give as a sacrifice to God. Surely then He will understand.” [1 Samuel 15:24]

Saul and his army disobeyed the command of God and kept the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, horses – they kept the best of everything they saw. They only destroyed what seemed worthless to them. [Maybe they kept the best clothes, tents, and jewelry too. If this were happening today, what would you be tempted to keep?]

Have you ever changed your mind? What about?

Because of Saul’s sin, God rejected him as king. 1 Samuel 15:11 says the Lord told Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” [NLT] Does this mean God changed His mind?

Psalms 102:26-27 teaches that God is changeless and perfect. Therefore, it is impossible for God to change His mind. So why was God sorry He made Saul king?

Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us that God knows everything. We can’t give God a surprise birthday party because He always knows what will happen next! Matthew 10:29 says He even knows when a bird dies. So why would God choose Saul to be king if He knew Saul would mess up?

When God said He was sorry He made Saul king, God wasn’t saying He made a mistake. He was explaining His actions in a way we could understand. God often uses human illustrations to explain what He is doing.

[The fancy word for this figure of speech is “Anthropopathism.” It means to ascribe human feelings to something that isn’t human. One example of this is 2 Chronicles 16:9 which says, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (NIV) Can you imagine two eyeballs floating around the planet like space ships looking for devoted followers? It’s an illustration showing us how God is always looking to strengthen His followers. Also see God’s wings in Ruth 2:12, His hand in Ecclesiastes 2:24, etc.]

God knew Saul could follow Him and become a great king. It was Saul’s choice to follow or not. God was “sorry” means God was sorry because Saul didn’t follow Him. Maybe this story will help.

For a moment, pretend your mom can look ahead in time. She sees that tomorrow you will be playing in the street and a car will narrowly miss hitting you. Today she tells you not to play in the street – ever. She tells you again when you get up the next morning. “DO NOT PLAY IN THE STREET!”

Later that day you disobey your mom and play in the street. Yesterday your mom saw you would do it.

Did your mom want you to play in the street? No way, she told you not to! Did she make you play in the street? No, it was entirely your choice. Just because she saw you would make a bad choice doesn’t mean she forced you to do it. In fact telling you not to do it is proof she didn’t want you in the street at all. She did everything she could to help you do what was right. She could then say she was “sorry” you played in the street.

It’s not God who changed in this story, but Saul. God wanted Saul to succeed. Even though God could see ahead in time and knew Saul would mess up, He still gave Saul the chance to do what was right. Saul stopped following God; therefore, God was sorry He made Saul king.

SO, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

STAY COMMITTED TO CHRIST

God wants you to succeed. He will never ask you to do what He will not equip you to do. God is searching the earth to support those who are fully committed to Him. Stay committed to Christ, and He will help, strengthen, and reward you! “May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” [Hebrews 13:21]

REMEMBER: YOU’VE GOT HIS WORD ON IT
2 Chronicles 16:9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Ruth 2:12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
Psalms 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalms 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
Psalms 130:5-6 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
Galatians 6:9 Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

AllBks

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total cover w back jpeg-005A devotional for your kids this week: Chapter 15 from Bizarre Bible Stories 2!


The Madman Chariot Driver

Scripture Passage: 2 Kings 9
So What? So you can overcome fear with obedience!

[anything in brackets are notes for parents]

Do you remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Do you remember who was upset at Elijah for what he had done? Do you remember her name? [Queen Jezebel]

It’s possible to trust and obey God when we’re frightened. Even Jesus was troubled before going to the cross. Being scared isn’t sin. When we conquer our fear and obey God, in spite of our fear, that’s obedience. And obedience results in victory!

LET’S CONQUER OUR FEARS…
Israel was going through an extremely rough time. Queen Jezebel had killed most of the priests, pastors, and prophets of God. The people were worshipping a false God called Baal. Elijah, a prophet of God, challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a showdown. When it was over, Baal hadn’t shown up, but God did and the 450 prophets of Baal died that day. That would be the end of the story except for one person – Queen Jezebel.

Ahab was king, but he wasn’t as powerful as Queen Jezebel. Jezebel worshipped Baal, she loved the prophets who died, and she hated Elijah. She was so powerful and terrifying, that when Elijah heard that she wanted him dead, he ran! He traveled until he was nearly dead. Elijah, who killed 450 prophets of Baal, who believed in God, ran from one woman. [You can read more about that story in the first Bizarre Bible Stories]

Have you ever wanted something someone else had? What was it?

Jezebel scared off God’s greatest prophet of the time – Elijah. She not only knew how to run off whom she didn’t like – she also knew how to get what she wanted. One day King Ahab was pouting. When Queen Jezebel asked what was wrong, Ahab said, “I wanted the farm next to our castle. I tried to buy it; the selfish owner won’t sell it. He said it had been in his family for years and he wants to keep it in the family. But I want it!”

Queen Jezebel said, “Don’t worry about that farm, Ahab. I’ll get it for you.” Do you know what she did? Jezebel had the owner of the farm and his sons all killed so she could steal the farm for her husband. You wouldn’t want her for your neighbor.

Do you have to obey someone you don’t like?

One day God sent a prophet to appoint a new king. The reign of Ahab and Jezebel was finally going to end. Where would God find a person strong enough to go up against Queen Jezebel? Even the great prophet Elijah had run from her. She had killed hundreds of people who believed in God. [1 Kings 18:4] She coveted power and killed all who got in her way. She was a terrifying tyrant. Who would God find to follow Him against her?

God found Jehu. Jehu was a general in the army. God had a prophet pull Jehu aside; pour oil on his head and say, “God wants you to be the next king!” Pouring oil on Jehu’s head was God’s way of showing Jehu that God’s power was going to flow through him. Jehu could now depend on God to protect him from Jezebel – but would he? Would Jehu be brave enough to confront Jezebel?

When the officers in the army heard the prophet had poured oil on his head, they blew their trumpets and yelled, “Jehu is king! Jehu is king!” There would be no backing out for Jehu now.

Do you know anyone who drives too fast? Do you think it would be fun to ride or drive a police car and go as fast as you wanted? [YES!]

Jehu said, “If the army is with me then don’t go to the castle and tell Queen Jezebel what happened. I want to surprise her!” Jehu wasn’t going to run away. He was going to run right at Jezebel.

Jehu got into his chariot, strapped on his seat belt, set the radio for the local Christian rock station, and hit the gas. Actually, his chariot would have looked like a large two-wheeled cart pulled by horses – looking a bit like Santa driving his sleigh on land. Only this was no normal sleigh. Most chariots had one to four horses pulling them. Jehu’s was probably a rare six-horse chariot pulled with three pairs of horses. This was an extremely fast chariot – almost impossible to control. It was like trying to fly a jet down a crowded neighborhood street. [Due to how fast he was driving, they knew it was his chariot. If Jehu lived today, he’d have a Ferrari!]

There was a lookout standing on the castle tower. He yelled down, “Hey, I see troops coming!” A short time later he yelled, “It must be Jehu – the guy in front is driving like a madman!” [2 Kings 9:20]

One of Jezebel’s wicked sons went out to confront Jehu. Someone shot him with an arrow, and he fell and died in the neighbor’s farm. God made certain Jezebel’s son died in the very farm she had stolen.

What do you think will happen to Jezebel?

Jehu rushed up to the castle. He could see Jezebel looking out an upstairs window at him. She was shouting at Jehu, calling him a murderer. Evil people often accuse others of what they have been doing. She had killed more innocent people than anyone alive, and she called Jehu a murderer!

Jehu yelled, “Hey, up in the castle, who is on my side?” A couple people looked out and yelled, “We are!”
“Then throw the Queen out the window!” Jehu yelled.

They did! They threw the wicked witch queen, Jezebel, out the window. Then it got gross.

Jehu rode his six-horse chariot over Jezebel’s dead body. Later, when they went outside to bury her, there was nothing left. Wild dogs had eaten her. Yuck. First the window, then the chariot, then the dogs – why did God make her death so gross?

God had said Jezebel was so wicked she didn’t deserve to be buried. [1 Kings 21:23] God was right.

SO, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

OVERCOME FEAR WITH OBEDIENCE

For some reason, the prophets of Baal didn’t scare Elijah, but Jezebel did. For some reason Jezebel didn’t frighten Jehu, but other things would. Just because we believe in Jesus, and we know God is all-powerful, doesn’t mean we won’t get scared. When someone wants what we have and is willing to hurt us to get it – that’s scary!

It’s possible to trust God, and obey Him, even when we’re frightened. Jonah was scared to go to Nineveh, Daniel was scared to go into the lions’ den, and even Jesus was troubled before going to the cross. Being scared isn’t sin. It’s only when we follow our fear and disobey that it’s sin. [Like when Jonah ran away and ended up in the fish.] When we conquer our fear and obey God, in spite of our fear, that’s obedience. And obedience results in victory!

REMEMBER: YOU’VE GOT HIS WORD ON IT

Deuteronomy 6:2 You and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life.
Deuteronomy 13:4 Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
Psalms 111:10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!
1 Samuel 12:14 “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

AllBks

A Sad, Wonderful, Stolen Blog of Thankfulness

kristinaBookSome Facebook posts should never have been written. Guilty. Some should be engraved in stone – like this one. It was written by Chad Barrett, a friend of around 30 years, whose daughter went home to heaven last year. Here is what he wrote:

I was driving last night, and Caroline (our 9-year-old) was in the passenger seat. I reached over, grabbed her hand, and said, “I love you, Caroline.” She responded, “I love you, too, Daddy.” Then the memory hit me hard…

It was probably 3 or 4 days before Kristina passed. She would call for us during the night when she had to go to the bathroom. We had one of those baby monitors so we could hear her well. She had a portable potty in her room, and we would have to, basically, pick her up and move her onto it. She was in so much pain, and she was so weak. Her little body would shake with weakness–it was difficult for her to sit up straight, so I would hug her and hold her steady while she sat there for a few minutes.

She would try to work up the energy for us to help her up and back into the bed. One time, while Melissa and I were trying to help her up, Kristina whispered into my left ear… “I love you.”

I looked at her and responded with my struggle to remain strong, “I love you, too, Sweetie.” It was a moment I wanted to stare at for a while, but we needed to help her into bed. It is a powerful moment I will never forget.

Last night, as I was remembering, Caroline placed her other hand on mine. And I thanked God for His goodness. I thank God for my daughters… all of them. I thank God for my son who is learning how to express what’s inside. I thank God for my wife who is broken together with me.

It was another moment of surprised memory but followed with surprised peace.

Thank you, Caroline, for the sweet way you comfort my heart. Thank you, God, for this memory. Thank you, God, for my family.

Thanks Chad for your post. He let me dedicate Bizarre 2 to Kristina. I do hope God lets her read a chapter in Heaven.

AllBks

HELP

front coverI need your help to keep my family together. If you have read Bizarre Bible Stories 2!, would you post a review on Amazon? It makes a HUGE difference.

The first Bizarre Bible Stories was marketed by Baker Books, got reviews from kids and adults – then was recommended by The Dallas Morning News, was used by churches for VBS, went to a second printing to sell in Wall-mart, and maybe doubled the population of Heaven.

Bizarre Bible Stories 2! is … quiet. Three reviews on Amazon. This publisher can’t afford marketing and I would hate to sell any more kids to pay for it. If you have read Bizarre 2!, would you Click here and write a review – even just a sentence? It makes a huge difference, and I can keep all my kids.

JoLynn thanks you in advance.

Furious Enough to Kill

obit_thumbnail.htmlA good friend of mine, Chad Barrett, lost his daughter to cancer last year. He has been expressing his pain, and the grace God keeps pouring out to endure it, on social media. I’ve been learning and praying with each post. However the last one had a new twist that I thought needed to be shared. Here it is.

(continued last time)
There is something I am angry at…
Furious…
Enough to kill…

Those last few hours of Kristina’s life–I have images that are engraved in my mind. They shred my heart. Even hard to write about.

Her body was shutting down. We had to bathe her, clean the bed, and redress her and the bed. We did all this without moving her off the bed. I don’t know how we did it.

Those images.

Four hours later, I felt with my right hand her last heartbeat. Her final breath.

I had these images in my mind that troubled me greatly. I couldn’t process them, until I talked with my Dad.

And this is what I’m angry at…

Kristina didn’t commit a certain sin that caused her cancer. Neither did I or her Mom. Kristina got cancer because we live in this screwed up System of Evil. This System of Sin–the whole earth is cursed with it. (Romans 8:20)

It brings only death. (1 Corinthians 15:21)

This System of Sin murdered my daughter.

Sin kills. So here’s the clincher…

Why would I want to participate in something that murdered my daughter? This has caused me to hate my sin. I realize it wasn’t my sin that caused her cancer, but I don’t want to take part in something that produced the death of my loved one.

I don’t wanna hang out with what killed Kristina. I don’t wanna entertain it or be entertained by it. Don’t wanna be friends with it.

I’m furious at it, and yet it still lures me.

I HATE it, but at times I’m still tempted.

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:24-25

Sin kills.

Jesus is life. Real life. Freedom from this System of Evil. Where peace abounds and grace overwhelms. (1 John 5:12)

I can walk in darkness (I have that potential.), but there’s nothing but misery.

I can walk in the light, and ‪#‎ThriveNotJustSurvive‬. (1 John 1:6-7)

P.S. I still have those images. Painful reminders. I’ll never forget.

Chad Barrett's photo.
Bizarre Bible Stories 2! is dedicated to Kristina. I’ve included it before, but it’s my favorite part of the book, and it’s my blog. So, here again is a copy of that dedication:
To Kristina Rae Barrett
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.

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.

Did sprint steal their rotting-flesh-zombie commercial from God?

sprint-zombie

Have you seen the Sprint TV Ad, where the guy claims to be “undead?” The girl responds, “Like a zombie.”

“Whoa,” he says, “Let’s not go putting labels on people.”

Then his ear drops off.

Here it is: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7qGD/sprint-unlimited-my-way-zombie

It’s right out of Zechariah.

Here it is: Zechariah 14:12 (NLT) And the LORD will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

Now that’s not a verse you will find on the First Baptist church marque.

Why not stick the reference on the bottom of your next birthday card and see if anyone looks it up?

Am I reading this wrong, or does the LORD send a zombie plague on a bunch of people who fought against Jerusalem? Is the coming zombie apocalypse something sent from God to stop the bad guys?

This passage in Zechariah is all about the coming of the Messiah to reign on the earth – something that hasn’t happened yet. As a Christian I interpret it as his Second Coming. So, we may yet see zombies. Maybe the lesson is, “Don’t mess with Jerusalem, or your ear may fall off and your eyes rot out.”

If that is true, it would mean that Jesus loves His followers enough to return to rescue all those who believe in Him, that He keeps His promises, and that He is powerful enough to defeat entire modern-day armies with a simple plague.

But who cares? We want zombies. And it sounds like here we have them. But what I want to know is. . .

Did Sprint steal their rotting-flesh-zombie commercial from God?

Was it a Dream, or Not?

Dry-bones1-680x382Have you ever had a dream so real, that when it was over you weren’t sure it was over?

I used to have a reoccurring nightmare in grade school. I was running away from something or someone – zombies? – and trying to get back to the safety of my classroom. And, I kept falling. I’d be outrunning the dark evil pursuing me, and then fall and it would get closer. Every time I fell it would get closer and then right when I fell for the last time and the evil was leaning over me, I’d wake up, breathing heavily, and unsure if I was in my bed or dead.

We have an old recording of “The Christmas Carol” we listen to each Christmas. In it, the narrator paraphrases from Dickens, “Marley’s Ghost bothered Scrooge exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked through all over again, “Was it a dream or not?”

Ezekiel had a dream like that. A nightmare of waking up on Zombie breeding grounds. Even when he writes about it, it reads as if he still doesn’t know if it was real or not.

Here’s how he starts. . . Eze 37:1 (NLT) “The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.”

Now that’s fairly weird – dream or not. Ezekiel was a pastor about 570 years before Jesus was born. God brings Ezekiel to this valley, and they walk through the old bones – human bones we find out later – which were scattered all over the valley. Then God asked Ezekiel a simple question.

“Can these bones live again?”

Was God was playing with Ezekiel? Of course dead decomposed dried out bones won’t live again. But then, God was there, and He seems to enjoy doing the impossible. Ezekiel wisely passed the buck.

He answered, “Well, God, only you know if they can live.”

That’s when things got weird.

God told Ezekiel to “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

I’d love to see that – at the theater. But Ezekiel was right in the middle of the bone valley. Which makes me wonder – where did these bones come from? Was this an ancient battle scene? A mass, shallow graveyard? Who were these bones from? Were they pre-Nazi Philistines, or giant Goliath relatives, or unlucky slow-runners drowned in the valley from the aftermath of a Tsunami?

Not that it matters.

Anyway, Ezekiel was stuck there in the middle of the bones when he heard “a rattling noise all across the valley.” The bones got up and started attaching themselves together. In time an entire skeleton army surrounded him. Then muscles, veins, tendons, and bloody innards started attaching themselves to the bones. Finally they got covered in skin. Even zombies don’t want their innards falling out.

Thankfully, “they still had no breath in them.”

But not for long.

God then told Ezekiel to 9 “Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

At this point Ezekiel may have wanted to stay silent. But God was bigger. . .10 “So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.”

I’m guessing this bothered Ezekiel exceedingly. He had to be wondering, “is it a dream, or not?”

It’s either a zombie nightmare or a zombie reality.

God went on to tell Ezekiel that these bones represented the nation of Israel. God said that the nation looked dead because it was dying in exile. The bones coming to life were a picture of how God would bring the nation back to life. This happened in 539 BC when God brought the nation out of captivity and back to their land – and again in 1948.

But who cares about God watching after His people, keeping His word, redeeming us, protecting us, and never giving up on us? We didn’t read this far for life-changing, sin-removing, problem-solving, eternal hope.

We want zombies.

Was it a dream, or not?

Zombie History

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I think I’ll try to work this up to be the introduction/chapter one – and then take some of the stories out that i was going to use. Just too many resurrection stories in the Bible – about 9 at my count – that really don’t fit anywhere close to being zombies. I do want the book to share the gospel, but don’t want it to become a bate and switch either.

Zombies are history.

There are legends of zombies from Africa, the southern United States, the Caribbean, the French West Indies – and from some accounts the Far East.. There are legends of African trains being run by zombies, of people being zombified by children, and of witches killing people in order to possess them. These aren’t current made-for-TV scripts, they are honest oral histories.

The word ZOM-BIE (Zom/be) is Kimbundu, a language spoken in the Republic of Angloa. In Kimbundu, “zombie” means ghost, or departed spirit. Zombie is also the name of a snake god in West Africa and Haiti and, according to “The Free Dictionary,” the southern United States. I now bring my double-tap shotgun with zombie ammo when traveling to Lake Charles.

Continue reading “Zombie History”