Groan

miracle-on-voodoo-mountain-wide-800x445Read through without groaning.

I can’t.

I was wondering, why would a single, white gal from the states move to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? It’s dangerous. It’s hot. It stinks.

You take one-step off the plane and you groan.

That’s the reason.

In Mk 7:31-37 Jesus is moved by a mans suffering, and groans.

Later in Mark 8:12 when the Pharisees refuse to believe, Jesus groans.

This is the same word used in Romans 8:22 when it says all creation groans under the curse.

We pray, “Thy Kingdom done, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God has given us the power to bring a taste of Heaven to Earth, but we will never be effective in that commission without heartfelt groanings. We have to hate the curse. And we have to want Heaven.

Last week we had Sue who lives in Port-au-Prince come stay with us. I asked why she moved to Haiti on Sunday. The answer?

Groanings.

The article below can help put it in perspective. It is from one of my favorite books, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. It is writing by a 20-something-year-old gal who also moved to Haiti. I cut and pasted some sections of it below – in the hopes that it will get you to purchase it here.

Book Excerpt below [except brackets]

 Deye mon gen mon./ Behind the mountain, there are mountains.–A Haitian proverb

As I sat on the roof and watched the sun go down on my second day in Haiti, I ate another energy bar for dinner. I felt so very alone. Am I crazy? My friends are right. I must be crazy to leave such a great life in the States for a place like this. I don’t even know why I’m here. Oh Lord. Did I make a mistake? Should I just go back home?

 I needed to hear a familiar voice that night, so I made a quick decision to splurge on an expensive two-minute cell phone call to my mom. As soon as I heard her voice, the tears began to well up in my eyes.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I tried hard to keep my voice steady and to sound sure of myself even though I wasn’t. “It’s beautiful here.” As I got off the phone I repeated the same routine as the night before, except this time my sobs and sniffles drowned out the beating drums in the distance as I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke the next day to the same goat-chicken-pig-people sounds and knew if I stayed around the house again all day, I would implode with fear and anxiety. I ate my breakfast energy bar, dried up my tears, and looked at David, the roof boy….

I pointed to myself, then moved two fingers like legs walking uphill and pointed toward the front of the house to show him I wanted to walk to Bellevue Mountain. It was the only place I had a name for in Gressier, and since I had holed myself up in the house for two days, I thought it would be refreshing to get out.

“Okay,” David said with a smile. He got it! I smiled, too, with a little jolt of happiness at having a plan, if only a small one…. Tons of children waited for their turn at the community water pump right outside of my gate. I looked at my feet as we walked, avoiding the gaze of dozens of dark brown eyes on me. As we strolled down the street, people yelled at me in Creole, and children ran up and grabbed my hands and clothes.

I followed close behind as he led me down the uneven brown road. We stepped onto a narrow footpath with clumps of weeds and bushes dotting the sides. We walked through a group of long-horned cows with tiny ropes around their necks, grazing peacefully. The path wound between a few decrepit houses and down into a small valley through a leafy green mango grove where the soil was rich and dark. As the path began to curve upward, we climbed a steep hill and came through some bushes to the top. It was flat and green, and my eyes followed the path that cut through the grass until I saw it. There, just as I remembered, stood the tamarind tree. It was a rich dark green, about twenty feet tall, with a single sturdy trunk and strong, supple branches that curved gracefully down at the ends.

I waved toward the tree and the land around it and asked, “Bellevue Mountain?”

“Wi.”

 …The top of Bellevue Mountain is a beautiful place. A cow relaxed nearby on the lush green grass, and I could see beyond the edge of the mountain all the way out to the turquoise sea. I smiled and took a deep breath, staring off into the distance.

A movement caught my eye, and that’s when I first saw her–a little girl, maybe six or seven years old. She was wearing a raggedy, soiled, yellow tank top that was too big, hanging off one shoulder down to her thin elbow. It must have been a woman’s shirt, and she wore it as a dress.

She was barefoot with matted orange hair, and her bony figure screamed of malnutrition. I watched as she threw a rock at a blackbird.

I felt drawn to her. She was so little. What is she doing out here all alone? I remembered the girls I’d seen earlier that morning, walking to school. They each wore a uniform with their hair neatly braided and tied with bright ribbons. Why isn’t she in school?

 I got close enough to call out, “What are you doing?” I was sure she didn’t understand me, so I glanced at David, and he repeated my question in Creole…

The little girl answered back in Creole. “There are two blackbirds.” David turned toward me to translate… “Yes, I see them. But what are you doing?” I asked again.

As she rocketed off in Creole, I received another loose translation from David. “Throwing rocks at birds.”

“Yes, I see. But why?”

Her beautiful brown eyes widened as she looked up at me. “To eat!”

…Bernard arrived shortly after to help with translation; David had called him when we left the house. Bernard was fluent in Haitian Creole and English, which he’d learned from a group of deportees from Brooklyn.

A few moments later I saw an older woman walking up the mountain toward us. She spoke broken English and told me the little girl’s name was Michaelle (Mick-kay-ell). Then, in an emotionless voice, she explained, “Mother dead. No father. Nobody wants her.” She looked at me, then turned to Bernard and began explaining in Creole that no one wanted Michaelle, so she had taken her in. She called herself Michaelle’s aunt, even though they weren’t related.

…The woman continued, telling Bernard her house had been destroyed in the earthquake and she’d moved from outside of Port-au-Prince to Gressier several months ago. “No one wanted Michaelle, so I brought her here although I can hardly afford to feed her.” Bernard looked at me, his eyes sad as he translated.

“Does Michaelle go to school?” I asked.

“No, she can’t go to school. No money,” she said.

…Early the next day I found the path and climbed Bellevue Mountain again, following the woman’s instructions to find Michaelle in a big blue tent on the side of the mountain with the older woman, four other children, and several adults. The relationship this mishmash family shared was unclear and unsettling.

Michaelle was playing in front of the tent in the same ragged yellow dress she had worn the day before. When she saw me, she ran inside and changed into a blue-and-white princess dress costume with white shoes and ankle socks. Her excitement propelled her ahead of me down the path. I had to walk fast to keep up with her. As I followed her down the mountain, I wondered who she was and why she was living in such a strange situation. Is it because of the earthquake? How did her mom pass away? Why was she trying to eat a bird? Was she really that hungry? Why isn’t she being fed? And why was she wearing that old yellow rag when she had a cute dress to wear? I had lots of questions, and I wanted some answers.

A person’s a person, no matter how small. –Dr. Seuss

 “Non,” she shouted, clinging with all of her strength to the branches of a scrawny little bush in the mango grove. Michaelle was refusing to let go. It was a Sunday morning, and we were halfway up the path to the blue tent on the mountain where she lived. With tears streaming down her face, yelling and screaming hysterically, words poured out of her so fast I couldn’t understand even one syllable. I crept closer and sat down next to her in the dirt. When I got down on her level, I realized I didn’t have to understand any Haitian Creole to know what was going on. I didn’t need to understand a single word to see that her face was filled with fear, fear of returning to her tent. I was rocked by the waves of terror emanating from her tiny seven-year-old body.

My heart ached, and I felt anxiety rising inside because I knew I couldn’t really talk to her, even though I tried. In my most soothing and confident voice, I called her Micha (pronounced “Mee-ka,” my new nickname for her) and told her everything was going to be okay, but it didn’t seem to help. After a few minutes of feeling completely helpless I, too, burst into tears as I stared, transfixed, at her frail body shaking and plastered to the dusty bush. I’d never before felt so helpless, and I begged God to show me what to do. Why is this happening? Please! Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

 …Micha’s aunt and the others in the tent where she lived didn’t seem to love her. At least they didn’t show it when I was around. It was so confusing. Why is Micha so sad all the time? Why is she the one that seems to be doing all of the household chores and all the work? Why doesn’t she want to go back home? The questions and curiosity and confusion swirled around in my brain and wouldn’t stop. My stomach clenched, telling me there was something deeper happening and I needed to find out what it was. After the emotionally exhausting morning I wrenched open the front gate, crossed the front yard, and burst through the front door, frantic to find my cell phone. I needed answers, and I didn’t care how expensive the Internet data charges were going to be.

I turned on my cell phone and pulled up Google. Then I typed in the three words that would forever change my life: Haiti + child + servant.

 A word I’d never heard before popped up in big, black, bold letters: restavek.

I froze, staring at the word on my cell phone screen for a good five minutes before scrolling down. There is actually a name for this way of treating children in Haiti. My mind reeled in confusion. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I continued reading, my head felt as though it would explode with this horrific discovery. The word restavek (sometimes spelled with a c instead of a k) is translated “to stay with” and is a common arrangement in Haiti, where parents force a child to live with another family because they are very poor or because of parental death or illness. Sometimes it includes the child being sold, kidnapped, or borrowed for a period of time.

I read a statement by the United Nations, condemning the restavek system as a “modern form of slavery” where even young children are put to work as laborers and treated as less than human.1 The majority of these restaveks are girls between the ages of four and fifteen, and they are responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and fetching of water for their households. Additionally, restaveks often suffer severe abuse and are very rarely enrolled in school.

There was much more, but I’d seen enough, and I put down  my phone. The room felt as though it was spinning. “Micha,” I gasped. Like an overwhelming rush, everything started to make sense. This is why she wasn’t in school when I met her. This is why I always saw her carrying heavy buckets of water or washing clothes in a tub outside the tent or surrounded by endless piles of dirty dishes. This is why she sleeps under a table on cardboard.

 Like a slideshow, images from the last few weeks popped up in my head as I remembered the many young girls I’d seen around Gressier who seemed to be working constantly. I had wondered why they stared down at the ground, eyes glassy and sad, and shoulders drooping. It was all starting to make sense, and I knew I had just made a life-changing discovery; I was finally able to put a finger on the disturbing feeling that had crawled its way up into my heart every time I passed these children. It was as if I could see the darkness of the situation and the evil behind it. I realized what the Holy Spirit had been stirring up in me the past few weeks, and I felt as though the Lord was igniting a fire inside me.

Children’s faces, one after another, popped into my head as I realized that Bellevue Mountain and much of Gressier were full of restaveks in an epidemic of child slavery. It made me sick to my stomach that I had been walking around this community for the last few weeks, knowing that something was wrong, wanting to question the situation, but not knowing how to begin. And it made me even sicker to know that so many Haitians had accepted and participated in this form of slavery in their own country with their own people.

I couldn’t find any firm statistics, but organizations that had studied the situation estimated that 300,000 to 500,000 children in Haiti are restaveks. I couldn’t get my mind and heart around that number. I still can’t. I never will…

I knew cooking pots of beans and rice or singing songs with kids wasn’t going to be enough.

[Get the book here.

I get to go back to Haiti this summer. What a privilege.]

 Romans  8:26 (NLT)  The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 

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Does Youth Ministry Matter?

I started youth ministry at Camp Peniel. From there I went to church ministry. I still remember wondering what I had gotten into when someone in my first church gave me an article on the horrors of listening to Amy Grant.

Where do you go with that?

Fairly early on in church ministry I met Mark Matlock, who later became the President of Youth Specialties. He has a free book download you can get by clicking on the picture below.

It’s worth the price.

OK, more than that.

If your church is struggling with what to do with youth, how to fit them into the overall ministry, or control their obnoxious flirting,  this book can help. I’m not sure there is a cure for Amy Grant.

Kidding – still love Tennessee Christmas.

Dan

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http://markmatlock.com/why-youth-ministry-really-matters

Surrender, Yes. Sacrifice, No

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The older I get in ministry, the less work it is, and the more of a privilege it becomes. I remember my biggest dread when I started church ministry in 1985.

Hospital visits.

That’s partly because on my first visit I walked into the wrong room.

And, I still have to keep my eyes off the fluids to not faint. God made fluids to be contained.

But in the last couple years I have been at a lot of bedsides – and a lot where someone is dying. It is a huge privilege to be able to be there crying and praying and reading with the family. It isn’t something I wanted to do that day, but there is no place I’d rather be that day. It’s an honor to be asked to be there.

Even preaching has gone from sick, scary, relieved when it is over – to honored God would trust me to speak, and sick, scary, relieved when it is over

I still hate conflict. However, I’m not so sure that is a sacrifice for God as much as a part of life.

A few weeks ago John Piper wrote a blog with the title: “I Never Made a Sacrifice.” It was a great blog, but it typical Piper fashion it was complete and thorough. So, here is the jest of it in simplified Cooley format.

March 19, 1813 was David Livingstone’s birthday. The David of “David Livingstone, I presume?” was the first European to cross Africa. After seeing the slave trade from the perspective of Africa, he devoted himself to ending it. He was a missionary that caught grief because he was also an explorer.

A year before he died, on March 19 1872 he wrote, “My birthday! My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All. I again dedicate my whole self to Thee.”

When addressing Cambridge University in 1857 he said, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice, which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” (Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 1981, 259)

Before Livingston, Paul said, Php 3:8 (NIV2011) “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

 In his typical “say what everyone else is thinking but is too wise to say” fashion, Peter at one point brags “See, we have left everything and followed you” (Mark 10:28). Or maybe he wasn’t bragging, maybe he was rather sad about what he felt he had sacrificed? Either way Jesus had an answer.

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:27–30)

Here is what Piper had to say about what Jesus said. “I cannot escape the impression that this is a rebuke. ‘Peter, you speak of what you have left behind in order to follow me! Really? No, Peter, what you have left behind is as nothing compared to what you gain in following me! Don’t you see, Peter, that if you think of Christian obedience in terms of loss, rather than gain, you dishonor me. I did not call you to me because I am poor and need your sacrifices. I called you to me because I am all-powerful, and all-wise, and own everything in the universe. I have called you into my family as fellow heirs of all I have (1 Corinthians 3:21–23), and I am giving you eternal life — eternal joy with me in the presence of my Father. No, Peter, you have not made a sacrifice to follow me. Not any more than if you sold your house to buy a field of hidden gold, or sold your fishing boat to buy the finest hidden pearl.’ In the bright shadow of David Livingstone’s suffering, I could see the point of Jesus’s words more readily — “Following me, you do not make a sacrifice.”

Piper than leaves us with the piercing question: “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

Love it.

For Piper’s complete blog, click here. Or, you can cut and paste in the below mess if the link doesn’t work.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/i-never-made-a-sacrifice?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=61423705&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9UFXt-xADNQavPXRe7iw2llv3McNUfjch50fuO1lAiiTkJmw1OKcEXE4g2euFT1OAN6qvizjIm5-YQbYl3Tvv9zCsOWQ&_hsmi=61423705

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Frustrated with Facebook

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Sometimes I take a break from Facebook for a while, then go back on and wonder, “Why have I been off for so long?” I enjoy the updates, pictures of kids and grandkids, and learning really useful stuff like, “The Best Cars for Under $100,000 That Can Hit 200mph.”
And then I read some posts that are like a hit in the gut. If some posts I’ve read in the past year are correct, then you can’t be a Christian and vote for Trump, or a Christian and a democrat, or a Christian and drive 200mph.
Lord have mercy.
My non-christian friends don’t bother me. I don’t expect them to follow the example of Jesus. It’s those who profess to follow Christ and at the same time seem to be doing everything possible to make Him look like a jerk that make me frustrated with Facebook. I’m sure I’ve done the same thing – through gossip, lifestyle, and trying to hit 200mph. But today, let me focus on Facebook. Hopefully it will be a good reminder to all of us, me included.
The problem – and the opportunity today is that we can all write for Christ. And we do, every time we write. It wasn’t long ago when it was difficult to get an article in the newspaper or published in a magazine. Now we can all have an audience, and if we claim Christ, then we are writing for Christ.
There was a terrific article on this topic by Greg Morse, who is a content strategist for desiringGod.org. You can read it all here. Here are some snippets….
 

“In Christ, our calling is to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [we will] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14–15). Who will there be to hold out the light of joy if we are known for online grumbling and vainly disputing?  … I invite you to put aside your childishness and steward your analytical giftings. I do not declare war against you; I aim to win you. We need your sharp wit, careful eye, and boldness to speak.

“Some of us, like Saul before Damascus, have been persecutors of the church of God online. Instead of using our comments to sharpen our brothers and sisters, we sharpen our axes to do away with their heads. Our insults and hasty speech refuse to heed our Master’s earnest call: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He who laid his life down for us calls us to model the drama. But too often, we do not lay down our insults — let alone our lives — for our brothers.

“Charles Spurgeon describes the appeased believer as able to fault-find with the apostles themselves,

Nothing can please them, their cavils are dealt out with heedless universality. Cephas is too blunt, Apollos is too flowery, Paul is too argumentative, Timothy is too young, James is too severe, John is too gentle. . . Well then, let each servant of God tell his message in his own way. To his own Master he shall stand or fall.

I really liked this part – some good examples of questions we can ask ourselves before posting.

  • Am I speaking from a soul satisfied in God or from my discontent?
  • Have I prayed for this person to whom I’m about to respond?
  • Have I labored to understand what he is saying?
  • Do I love this person (1 Peter 2:15–17) — even if they feel like an enemy (Matthew 5:43)?
  • Am I merely trying to one-up him?
  • How would I phrase this critique if I had to speak it to him face to face?
  • Can I raise my critique in private instead of in public?
  • How can I say this in a way that aims to build him up as well as the hearers?
  • Is this particular critique needful at this point in time?
  • Could I be wrong?
  • Am I sowing discord or delight?

OK, enough of Facebook. I need to take my new Ferrari out for a drive.

AllBks

 

Back to Haiti

19620963_10212792280577230_6770182231888743032_oOne of my questions when I get to Heaven, if I can get up the nerve to ask, is; “Why, when we were replacing a clutch under a Toyota Hilux, for needy missionaries, in the dirt, in Haitian humidity and heat, after ten hours of work, would You send a dog to mark his territory on the legs sticking out under the truck? It’s a first world excuse for persecution, but it did seem unnecessary.

Who’s going in 2018:

  • Dan – Leading his own mini team of “Mr. Fix its.” Dan’s team will head to Haiti a week before the other travelers to prepare the home and school grounds for English Camp.
  • Megan – IS NOT LEADING A TEAM this year…. and she is very happy about it. She’ll participate with the main missions team and stay for 7 days.
  • Cooley Friend – The Cooley’s have a friend! This friend would like to go to Haiti but due to personal restraints cannot fundraise. We would like to surprise him with the financial support to go. Not only does he already have a love for Haiti, he would be a substantial help in ways many volunteers cannot. He doesn’t mind dogs.

 

Why go?

Maranatha Children’s Ministry (mcmhaiti.org) English Camp is a school program run in the summer months for children of all ages that wouldn’t otherwise get an education or a healthy diet. They teach Bible, English, Science and PE to over 400 kids along with 2 nutritious meals and an opportunity to play and enjoy a safe environment. That is after you get off the motorcycle your dad brought you on.

How can you help?

  • Prayer – we need people to commit to praying for safety, rest, and ways to encourage the missionaries who live in Haiti year round. Just shoot us a note below to let us know you are praying. That way we can keep you updated by email when we are there.
  • Money – We need to raise our own funds to pay for transportation, insurance, and room and board at Maranatha. Simply go to anchorpoint.life
    • Click “giving”
    • Click “continue to give”
    • In the box that says “message” specify “Cooley Haiti Trip”
  • It costs us around $1350 each to go. If we raise that much we aren’t a financial drain to the Maranatha, the mission who is housing us.

Thanks for any help you can give!

Dan for all

AllBks

I Can Only Imagine a Good Christian Movie

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I saw Only Imagine yesterday for two reasons.

  1. Bart, the song’s author that the movie is about, is an old friend, and
  2. I had been up since 3:15am, done church and had a wonderful fish taco lunch, and figured the reclining theater seats would make for a fabulous nap.

I was wrong on both accounts.

First, I am Bart’s old friend like a White House substitute one-day groundskeeper is a friend of Obama. We met once, when I was at a Mark Matlock Youth Conference. Mark and I had run into each other before, and he at least knew my name. I once booked him at our church in Tucson for a weekend conference. Later JoLynn and I moved to Winnipeg, and we brought a youth group down to Fargo to see Mark and this band that was traveling with him, called Mercy Me.

They weren’t bad.

The conference was small and, for Mark / Mercy Me Conference, a little flat. Mark decided to spice things up by escaping from a strait jacket, while suspended 100-ft high from a crane connected only with a fast burning rope tied to one leg, over concrete and hissing cobras. Or something like that. Bert decided that the best way to spice things up was to sing a song he had written for his dad called I Can Only Imagine. It wasn’t released yet except on a CD that Matlock I think had produced.

We heard it first.

I still remember that night, and still have that early release CD of the song. Not sure there is a working CD player left to play it on however.

I also kept the hospital wrist tag that Mark wore later that night.

The lessons are these:

  1. If you ever say you are, “driving down to Fargo,” you are living in the wrong place.
  2. It’s OK to lie in blogs. Mark didn’t go to the ER. But I do remember him escaping from a strait jacket while hanging from church beams over a large organ. Not sure why he didn’t get the movie.
  3. There IS a good Christian move! Well, for anything but a nap.  I missed mine till after I got home.
  4. Go see Only Imagine.

By the way, it came in as the third-biggest movie in America last weekend, behind only Black Panther and Tomb Raider. Not bad for a movie about a guy who has forgotten he once knew Dan Cooley… for a day.

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My 5 Favorite Epitaphs

prepareEarlier this year I attended three memorials in eight days. Death has been on my mind – but in a good way. I’ve seen faith passed down from father to son to grandkids, and heard some amazing testimonies of lives well lived. It helped me remember an old truth.
God determines the dates on your tombstone, but your family writes your epitaph.
Here are five of my favorites, some good, some just fun:
1. From Nova Scotia: Here lies Ezekiel Aikle. Age 102. The good die young. So much for kind Canadians.
2. From England: The children of Israel wanted bread, and the Lord sent them manna. Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife, and the Devil sent him Anna. Ouch.
3. Another from England, probably the saddest: Tom Smith is dead, and here he lies; nobody laughs and nobody cries; where his soul’s gone, or how it fares; nobody knows, and nobody cares.
4. Can you guess who this one was written for? Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last. Beautiful.
Martin Luther King Jr.
5. Can you guess who this one was written for? Jesus Mercy.
Al Capone
I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately, for a future sermon series. It’s not a bizarre bible story, but it is a bizarre truth that we avoid talk of death, even though we are racing towards it. One take-away from the book for me is, it’s time to start living with our epitaph in mind.
At my age, better sooner than later!

What Would You Cut Out of Your Bible?

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Jefferson Bible Source books open to cut-up pages to show the missing pieces

Bizarre Bible Stories sold, in part I think, because the books included some of the Bible stories we would like left out of the Bible.

Did you know Thomas Jefferson made his own cut-and-paste Bible?

Well, not exactly, but close.

In 1819 Jefferson sat down with a bible, some glue, and a pair of scissors. He looked for the teachings of Jesus that he liked, and sliced them out. Then he glued them into a new book he called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. When done, I suppose he trashed the left-over bible, attempting to eliminate all of Christ’s miracles and any signs of His divinity. You can read a complete copy of the Jefferson Bible here (with links to what he took out.)

If you sat down to make a cut-and-paste Bible, what parts would you take out? I certainly have some parts I don’t like. Maybe a bit less about judgment would be nice; a kinder, gentler entrance into the Promised land would be easier to stomach; and was Song of Solomon really necessary?

However…

Cutting truth out of the Bible doesn’t remove the truth. It just removes the Truth from affecting our lives. It cuts truth out of us, not out of reality.

I believe God spoke to us, and He spoke without error, through His Word, the Bible.

God had it written for our benefit, as the means to the end of a relationship with the Author. Removing parts of the book removes its impact. We lose. Truth is unaffected. Unfortunately, we are too.

Paul told Timothy, All scripture is profitable. (2 Timothy 3:15-17) That includes the bizarre stories as well.

 

 

Salvation Baby

My sister Janice is writing poems to go into my Bizarre Christmas Bible Story book for 2018. I LOVE this salvation poem…

How Can I Get to Heaven?

Does it take a village?
Does it take an offering?
Does it take good deeds
like food given to the poor?

Does it take religion?
Does it cost a fortune?
Does it call for auras,
yoga poses on the floor?

You could never do it.
You cannot achieve it.
All it takes is one small sin
to block you from the Gate.

All the good you’re doing
will not gain you entrance.
God demands perfection.
Do not fear, it’s not too late.

Baby in a manger,
in Bethlehem, a stranger,
came to life on earth
so that for you He could die.

He, the perfect Savior,
is your substitution.
He came down to this earth
to raise you up on High.

John 3:16

Janice Cooley Jones

Why Doesn’t God Heal the Right People?

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I know, I need to accept that God knows what He is doing, and I don’t. Somehow that explanation always seemed too simple to me.

Until now.

Ann Voskamp has written a terrific blog on the topic – the best I’ve read.  THIS IS GOOD. I couldn’t find a way to share it, so I cut and pasted it below. If you click on her name above, it should take you directly to her site.

Here we go…

Why, in the name of all things holy, do You cherry pick one person to heal and another person to die?

Why in the world does one baby get to recover and go home to laugh loud and inhale life and another baby gets covered with 6 feet a dirt and hunk of granite gravestone?

You tell us—- Why does this cancer patient get to tout that You heard their prayers and that cancer patient gets a morphine pump for the devouring pain and an unwanted visit from hospice?

When The Picked and The Healed audaciously celebrate: “God heard our prayers!” — are the unpicked and the unhealed really supposed to assume that You plugged Your ears and flat-out refused to hear their wildly begging prayers?

Or when the healed flaunt: “God heard our prayers” — are the unhealed supposed to realize that their prayers were actually flawed? Is healing only granted to the superior, spiritual elites who know the secret launch codes for prayer — and the prayers of the rest of us sorry sops somehow fell short, so our loved ones ended up dead?

Do You not have power to heal? Or do You just choose not to heal?

Is God ultimately impotent— or just plain indifferent?

And God grabs our attention and cups our faces close.

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God is not impotent — He kept a young girl from death and raised a middle age man from the dead and His words gave eyes light and ears reverberation and the Wounded Healer can heal.

And God is not indifferent — He’s wept over a grave and He catches every single one of your tears in a bottle because God can’t bear to waste grief and the way Christ most moves, is to be moved with compassion. (Matt. 9:36) The One who stretched out His hands on a Cross, stretches out His arms to touch us. (Mark 1:41)

God is not impotent. And God is not indifferent. And God hates injury, infirmity and injustice. Jesus came to heal and relieve from suffering, and God calls us to alleviate and decimate suffering. So if God allows suffering — it must be to allow something He loves even more than He hates suffering?

Sometimes God allows what He can hardly stand — to accomplish more than we understand.

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Sometimes God allows what He can hardly stand — to accomplish more than we understand.

“It is what it is” — isn’t the whole story. All is not what it is — it is always more. What seems like your story — is but a line in the wholestory.

In every one happening — Christ is happening to do one million other things.

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In every one happening — Christ is happening to do one million other things.

What ifGod’s purposes are not so much for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is. And He is my Peace.

What if: Prayer isn’t about getting what you desperately want, but about getting more of the One Who desperately wants you.

What if: You discover Jesus is really enough — when you discover Jesus is really all you have left.

Jesus was the only man of perfection — and He was a man of sorrows. He perfectly understands your heartbreaking sorrow — and stands heartbroken with you in it. No one can truly withstand suffering unless they know God truly stands with them.

And — The Wounded Healer always writes a story that offers healing: the healing here or the healing of heaven.

When God gives healing here — all He’s giving is more time here. Healing only gives time.And we already have all of time, because of Jesus. We’re given forever, time without end. Love heals us all — with love that breaks the bonds of time.

Whether we get less time or more time, to receive all time as a love gift. What if we didn’t always want the gift of more time — but appreciated more of time as a gift?

What if we didn’t always want the gift of more time — but appreciated more of time as a gift?

What if instead of asking: “Why did God take her already?” — the awed question was: “Why did we get the grace of her at all?”

What if we bravely lived what we humbly pray:

Your kingdom come —-
not our kingdom.

Your will be done —
not ours.

Your story be written —
not our way, but Your way, because You alone are The Way.

Because you alone are God — and we are not. And when we say we could write the Story better than God — we are saying that we are better than God.

We are always loved with the gift of a tender choice:

We can live bitter — or we can live Beloved.

We can walk away — or we can walk The Way — and let Him who is The Way show us the way through.

We can trust our changing feelings alone — or trust in the unchanging love of God alone.

We can feel abandoned — or we can abandon ourselves to God.

And the kindest truth is: When you feel most abandoned by God, is when you most can just abandon yourself to God.

When you feel most abandoned by God, is when you most can just abandon yourself to God.

You can feel nothing and still be held through everything.

And in everything there is this:

We only think we might write the story different because we don’t know the same things the Storyteller knows.

We only think we might write the story different because we don’t know the same things the Storyteller knows.

Who knows why the Storyteller allows heartbreak, but the answer must be important enough, because the Storyteller allows His heart to break too.

And this heals a bit of our hearts:

There is a Storyteller who writes Himself into the story and makes our souls well, because He walks with us until the story is finished in His perfect time, and His perfect way, for His perfect glory — so our souls are always well.