Stud Studebaker for Christmas

Before 3/4 ton pickups with Cummings diesel engines, there were Studebakers. They had no AC, broke down more often, came with no cup holders, and had limited ground clearance – but a man with a Studebaker was a man who could go anywhere and do most anything.

At least he thought he could.

It may be good that I have no memories of this vacation. Here is another picture of our studly Stude, this one hauling down a Christmas Tree from the mountains around Tucson. I’m sure all five of us kids were crammed in there with Mom and Dad. It’s amazing how many people a station wagon could hold before seat belts, shoulder straps, car seats, and air bags. I believe the average lifespan back in the 60s was 12.

studebaker christmas tree

My favorite Studebaker pic comes at the end of  the blog. First I am pasting in our Christmas letter for those who missed it. Scroll past the letter if you have already read it.

Yeah, it’s late. You can’t rush perfection. Here is the mostly true update on the Cooley’s.

JoLynn is working full time for a few months or a few years for Presbyterian Hospital. She’s piloting a Patient

Advocate program at a new hospital. The job is assisting patients in pain and their families in crisis who are attempting to work through a maze of medical misunderstandings while hoping and praying for healing.

It really is a great ministry where Jo gets to help many people on some of their most difficult days.

She can have it. It’s easier to write Christmas letters.

Megan, Jon, and mighty Memphis live here in Albuquerque, and as of October 11 have Indigo Rose to keep them up at night. We appreciate their kindness in giving us our first granddaughter. Memphis is my cookie-making buddy. Indigo is my nap buddy – who often naps when I get to hold her. Lucky Indi even has a daily naptime! I’m jealous.

Amanda, Jake, Oliver, Emerson, and Harrison (or Oli, Emmy, and Harry as we call them), live in Marble Falls TX. Amanda runs Camp Peniel’s weekend camping program, and Jake works for Overhead Door in Austin. After 7 summers and hundreds of weekends there, I always thought I’d work for Peniel, but the opportunity got passed down to Amanda. Not that I’m jealous. They were able to come in for Christmas, and we had enough snow to take the boys sledding in the back yard – my Christmas highlight.

Yes, that means we have a new back yard. We moved last January to a smaller one-story house on a half-acre with an amazing view and a perfect little sled hill in back. It’s beautiful. JoLynn is a sledding goddess, so that was the real reason for the move. Our new address is: 2112 San Pablo Rd NE, Rio Rancho NM 87144.

Micah has been with Air Guard Intelligence for over six years, and went full-time with them a couple months ago. They paid him well to go back full time, so he is the one with the nice new red Miata. Not that I’m jealous. We’re not sure how his English degree helps him to blow things up. I guess you wouldn’t want to miscommunicate. He comes to church with Starbucks for his sister – it’s great to have even half the family with us for worship.

Caleb is three semesters short of graduating from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He spent the summer taking European Reformation classes in … Europe. Not that I’m jealous. He too was home for Christmas, so we had the entire clan here. It was great fun. A line by the bathroom door is such a good memory of old times.

Dan – Our new house is 20 years old, so it has plenty of fun projects to keep me out of trouble. I still enjoy a week or two in Haiti in the summer, and the church is rolling right along – the merger was a great move, the staff is terrific. The New City Catechism is our current study – great stuff. My sister Janice and I wrote a small stocking stuffer book, Bizarre Christmas Bible Stories, to hit store shelves in September 2019.

Mostly I’m just jealous of Indigo’s naps and Amanda’s camp and Micah’s Miata and Caleb’s summer and not at all of JoLynn’s job. God really has been gracious to us, and we are most grateful. My favorite verse for 2018 came from Ecclesiastes 12:13 in the Message.

Fear God. Do what he tells you. That’s it.

Happy 2019,

Dan for all

And my favorite for last. My dad the stud working on his Studebaker. Notice the lush Arizona grass. I believe the license plate says 64. I you have a spare Studebaker you want to sell, let me know. I’d love to surprise JoLynn with one for Valentines.

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2 Christmas Thoughts

scientific 16x20The picture is from Bizarre Christmas Bible Stories, unfortunately not being released till 2019. It’s our take on a Magi, and has nothing to do with 2 thoughts from 2 very different writers.

The first, from Caleb Cooley

This day we celebrate the Lord of creation taking on flesh without division, separation, confusion, or change. This day we celebrate the Logos, who willingly and vulnerably enters into the creation that He Himself spoke into being. This day we celebrate the very purpose and end of the whole cosmos, intimacy with God our father. We worship a good and powerful God. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This is a Merry Christmas indeed.

The second, a poem from Meredith at AnchorPoint Church,

And the Word Became Flesh

And the Word became flesh showing us what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy
He did this so we could see and could know and could dwell upon these things

And the Word became flesh leaving a realm that was free from the limits of time
He entered our time in a cursed world that He did not cause, to free us from the worries of tomorrow

And the Word became flesh, blessing us with each new day as a gift to enjoy everything good from Him
Lavishing us with gift upon gift and the ability to enjoy each perfect gift from above

And the Word became flesh to take upon sin and know us in every way
Therefor hearing every prayer and petition, working everything for our good, the Good, causing thanksgiving for each redemption

And the Word became flesh, to overcome death for us, to restore us to Him
For we do not need to be afraid or discouraged, we are strong and courageous, for You are with us always

And the Word became flesh because what was once glorious and perfect was broken
He came to remake it anew for He who began a good work in us will surely carry it on to completion

7 Reasons to Start Christmas TODAY

 

christmas-in-october

  1. American Thanksgiving is on the wrong date.

The Canadians have it right, and celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of OCTOBER, as the Pilgrims intended. President Lincoln got many things right, but was allowed by God to make this one glaring error to prove to the world that even he wasn’t omniscient.

Now you know the truth. The stores have it right.

Besides, there just isn’t enough time to enjoy the season if all your shopping, decorating, family meals, traveling, college exams, parties, and Christmas movie watching have to be done in a few weeks. That’s no fun. Start today and enjoy a slow, mellow, long, shockingly long Christmas season, as Costco intended.

 

  1. The music is better, so you can enjoy it longer

OK, it isn’t all better

 

music, Frosty the Snowman could gag a Shepherd. Still, after 10 months of Country divorces, Rap killings, Pop romance and Hillsongs oceans, aren’t you ready for a change?

 

  1. It’s easier on the budget, so you can ret 

    ire 10 years early.

If you wait to shop till December, when you are also paying for travel and party gifts and eating out, you will still be paying it off in July. Buying now will help keep you out of debt, allowing you to retire years early. Maybe.

santa pumpkin

  1. The life you save may be your own

How many kids are in danger of a tripping injury because they can’t find the way from the street to your house on Halloween? Could you be sued? GET THOSE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UP NOW. Besides, better for kids to see an early Christmas tree than a pumpkin carved like a wormy skull with a spider crawling out.

 

  1. The decorations are better, so let’s just go with Christmas and skip the rest.

Easter has pastel colors. Yuck. Halloween is black and orange, great if you work for UHaul. The best Thanksgiving table will have a centerpiece of plastic pilgrims standing around vegetables you can’t eat. But Christmas? Christmas is deep red, green, gold, nativity scenes, camels, and reindeer. How does a plastic pilgrim compete?

 

  1. The food is best.

Thanksgiving has turkey. The reason we don’t eat it the rest of the year is that it isn’t that good. Christmas has eggnog, cookies, and Chex party mix. It’s no competition, really.

 

  1. Because putting lights on your snow-covered roof on November 30 is foolish.

And the only thing worse is NOT having lights on your roof for Christmas. That’s just wrong.

 

If you are shopping early, Bizarre Christmas Bible Stories comes out in November.

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A Dad’s Dilemma

DadCastWhat do you do when your kids are grown and gone, but you still hope to speak into their lives?

DadCast.

Clay Holderman, a dad from our church came up with this cool idea. He would get a question from one of his adulting kids. Then he would ask the dads in his small group Bible study to record their honest thoughts. Then he would ask a pastor to get a Biblical perspective.

After recording, he would cut and paste and edit the mess into a thoughtful, helpful, 15-minute DadCast, and send it back to his kids.

Brilliant.

Or it will be if any of our kids listen to it.

The first question came from his oldest son, Cole. Could he ever become someone his parents couldn’t love? What if he became the worst of the worst of humanity?

Listen to the first DadCast on an app below and sign up or share if you like it.

RadioPublic https://radiopublic.com/dadcast-6rOord

Breaker  https://www.breaker.audio/dadcast

Apple Podcasts https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dadcast/id1437549968

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/0aztVwmk8Uo0mMzIAs215i

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Why Cancer?

child-cancer

In July of 2012 I was speaking at a 5th – 6th grade summer camp. The first night I asked all the kids to write down a question for God and to hand it in. One girl, Kristina Rae Barrett wrote, “Dear God, Why did you give me cancer?”

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

Kristina Rae Barrett, May 30, 2002 – June 21, 2014.

The book was also completed in June, 2014. Her question was the motivating factor for the book, and the focus of the first story. All profit (billions, I’m sure) from Bizarre Bible Stories 2! Go to the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation – Helping Hands Fund. this fund. The fund was her dad’s suggestion, as it had helped them over the years.

There are endless names connected to childhood cancer, but I can’t leave this blog without also mentioning Macen Holderman, who went to be with Jesus on September 27, 2016, at the age of 17. He was a ton of fun, I am sure he still is, but one of my favorite stories is when he was waiting in the hospital. One of his legs had been amputated, and as usual he was playing with his prosthetic. A shocked younger kid came up and asked him what happened. Macen answered something like, “I can’t tell you. But I can tell you,  NEVER disobey your parents.”

Why Cancer? I don’t know. I do know the attack on children and their parents seems to be especially brutal.  I know it is the result of sin, and as such we need to fight it. I hope you can help.

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Wrong Worship

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What is wrong with this chart?

Last week Ryan Prieb, our Youth Guru drew this illustration for me.

We go to a football game, a play, a concert, and there is a director, the participants playing on the field or on stage, and us in the stands.

So, we go to worship, and we feel like we are the audience, the people on stage  the performers, and God, of course is the director.

But what if we are wrong?

What is God is real the audience?

Then it would look like this.

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That makes us in the congregation the participants.

Then the music is no longer picked for me to enjoy, but for God. The sermon length isn’t about my convenience, but about His glory. The parking space size and service time may no longer be the determining factor of a church that God loves.

It reminds me of a friend who was a worship leader at a small church in another town. She told me about the end of service one week, when someone leaving told her, “I got nothing out of that worship today.”

She shot back with, “That’s alright. We weren’t worshiping you today.”

He had the wrong chart. Sometimes I do too.

Hey – we were under 90 degrees here in New Mexico this week. It must be almost Christmas! If God is gracious, our below book comes out in October.

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Kids Devotion Idea

SavedbyaDonkeyLGI recently received this email from someone and thought it could be helpful.

Hello, I thought I would tell you that we got Bizarre Bible Stories, and I started doing our family devotions with it yesterday morning. The first story was about Balaam and the donkey, and after we read the devotion the kids asked if they could act it out. Our son Luke played the part of Balaam, and the girls took turns being the Angel of the Lord and the donkey. (Both girls wanted to be the donkey, so we did our little skit twice.) Luke enjoyed telling the girls that they would be supper if they didn’t straighten up, and the girls enjoyed playing the part of the donkey that talks. As a mom who sometimes gets the deer in the headlights look, when I am trying to do family Bible time with my young children, I wanted to share that I appreciate this resource…

Skit time for devotions, not a bad idea!

Harry the Angel below for the upcoming Christmas book. I love the artwork, hope they print it in color!

Harry the Angel

Playing Pastor: Canada vs the USA

Attach3600_20180702_131531 (1)Culture Matters. I grew up and went to college in the Southwest USA, got married in Dallas, and later moved to Winnipeg Canada with four kids and stayed for seven winters. Things were different there.

Winnipeg is a tad cooler than Tucson. Actually, Tucson may have hellish heat, but January in Winnipeg makes a Tucson summer seem like heaven. The politicians in the US take turns when they debate, in Canada they rudely interrupt, making it way more fun to watch. In the Southwest, we speak two languages but claim only English. In Winnipeg we claimed two languages but spoke only English. The countries have different movie rating systems – but we were shocked as to what offends and doesn’t in Canada. One night we rented the equivalent to a PG movie in Winnipeg, and suddenly saw WAY more than we bargained for. Seeing more skin doesn’t seem to offend much north of the 49th parallel. However kill a few people and an “adult” rating is imminent. One culture is squeamish about skin, the other about blood.

But nothing is as different between Canada and the USA as playing pastor.

When I was new in Winnipeg I used the illustration of a friend of mine, who was trying out for the police department in Tucson, who took me target shooting. After using that illustration I was met at the door after church by a young man, who said, “I think I will have to leave this church. I just don’t think I can follow a pastor who would shoot a handgun.”

We now live in New Mexico, and I was reminded of what happened in Winnipeg today. A friend from church took me out to show me what he does at work – in defense of our country. He let me pull the trigger on stuff way more fun than a handgun.

What fun!

Attach3601_20180702_131531Southwest American fun, not Canadian fun. That would have been mauling people in a hockey rink.

All this to say, culture matters. I quit using gun illustrations in Winnipeg, and the young man stayed and became a good friend. Our family learned about Parliament, a 5-party political system, and became dual citizens. I went from helping to bring in DC Talk and Newsboys for concerts in Tucson to learning to appreciate a pipe organ, stained glass, and a church with 100-year history in Winnipeg. I got rid of my gun before moving North, and got a 100-lb possessed dog to take it’s place. He was way more scary anyway.

But one thing about me didn’t change and never would no matter how long I had lived in Winnipeg.  I’d still be squeamish about skin.

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Bizarre Christmas – coming out this Fall, 2018!

 

Christian Bourbon?

81rsS8+B3XL._SL1500_This week I got a 100-word email after my sermon that had an 8-word line in it I’d like to memorize. Our sermon topic was Awkward Church, which got this individual thinking. I hope you like his email as much as I did.

When I was about 11, we stayed with my grandparents for about a month when we were between homes. My father liked a glass of bourbon before dinner. Although he never drank himself, my grandfather kept a bottle of bourbon in a cabinet in his living room and invited my dad to have a drink each evening.

 A couple of years later, I asked my grandfather why he did this, believing as he did in abstinence from alcohol. His answer was short and concise: “Abstinence is a choice, hospitality is a commandment.”

It’s important for us to make sure we don’t treat our preferences like commandments.

God bless …

 

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Awkward Church

awkward-moment-in-churchWhat is your dream church? What kind of music, kids program, messages do you most like?

If we found our dream church, would it be good for us–or would it limit us?

I know what my dad would have liked. His dream would have been the Blackwood Brothers leading hymns, George Beverly Shea singing the special music, and fire-and-brimstone Billy Sunday doing the message.

I’m still more of a DC Talk, Josh Garrels, and Tony Evans kind of guy.

But, is getting what we want best for any of us? Does God divide Heaven up into contemporary and traditional services, Gregorian chants and hip hop? Will the Anglicans have a different service than the Baptists, or are all of us going to have to learn when to stand, sit, and repeat?

Let’s admit it. We are all somewhat selfish consumers when we choose a church. Maybe it is because of my job, but every time I attend another church, I can’t help but evaluate it. I end up asking myself deep theological questions like…

  1. Do they have close visitors parking? Surely if they cared about the unsaved and lazy visitors like me, they would provide guest parking.
  2. Is it going to be good coffee; or church coffee?
  3. After sitting down, I look at the stage. That way I know if I need hearing aids, earplugs, or if it gets my eternal approval and hitting that perfect balance between the two.
  4. Please no “greet the visitor” time. I’m shy already. Let me hide.
  5. After the service, what are they giving away? Coffee doesn’t count. I want a hat, a mug, a new iPad might even bring me back next week.

OK, I’m not that bad. But this week, as I look at what Scripture says about church, I have started to wonder…

Was growing up in a church not my style more healthy for me than if it had been one of my making? This study made me glad our church combined with Wellspring Anglican on Good Friday. It was awkward, I never knew if I was suppose to be sitting or standing, but a picture of Heaven nonetheless.

Here’s my thesis: I believe God made church awkward on purpose – so that we would mature.

Now that I think of it, Dad is in his dream church now. I wonder if learning when to stand and sit in Heaven was awkward.