Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

What You Thought About Samson Might be Wrong

I remember thinking while reading Judges that God was using Samson’s strength to conquer the Philistines. Brad Gray tells us we may be looking at Samson’s story wrong.

The stories of people in the Old Testament often showed how people’s lives were without endorsing all of the things they did.

In fact, the New Testament in Romans 15:4 (HCSB) teaches:

For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.

Mr. Gray reminds the readers (if they forgot) or tells them (if they don’t know) that Samson was a Nazarite from birth. He tells the significance of this:

Numbers 6 lists three restrictions a Nazarite must adhere to. First, a Nazarite must not consume anything from the grapevine, including wine, or any other alcoholic drink. Therefore, no grapes and definitely no wine. Second, a Nazarite must not cut their hair. Their long hair is a visible identifier of the vow taken before God. And third, a Nazarite is not allowed to be in the vicinity of a dead body. (Page 6 in paperback edition)

If you recall the stories if you went to Sunday School, it seemed that Samson was killing people – a lot. And the Bible mentions God’s Spirit coming over Samson a couple of times before he did it. So, I assumed it was God’s intention that he conquer the Philistines.

Mr. Gray says he believes that because of Samson’s calling, it was actually the Spirit warning him not to do it, and Samson refused to heed the warning.

In fact, the entire story of Samson in Judges tells one after another things that Samson does that breaks his Nazarite calling.

The book, though it focuses on Samson’s miserable failures, uses them as a jumping off point to teach how our lives should be instead. He talks about humility, what it is is and isn’t, and about revenge.

The book gives background information of word meanings in the original language, fascinating facts about the layout of the land, and the paperback version includes maps throughout the book. He uses these to show why some of the things Samson did were outrageous.

The author also explains the significance of letting the hair grow long in Nazarites, background history of the culture. It is a very researched book.

Mr. Gray points out that with all of the failures that Samson had in his life, he appears in a list of people who are used as an illustration of faith.

Perhaps this is why we can get hope and encouragement from the stories of people’s lives in the Old Testament. The Bible doesn’t leave out the sins of people who were great men of faith (or even those with little faith).

We can learn a lot from Samson’s life, and I learned a lot from Brad Gray.

Here is a link below to the book at Christian Book if you want to purchase the book. It is also available as an ebook:

Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

Note: The above link is not an affiliate link.

Answering the Call, The Doctor Who Made Africa His Life

Ken Gire has written a very interesting book about the life of Albert Schweitzer.

The book tells of a man who was extremely intelligent, and would be considered a success in multiple areas. He had degrees and knowledge of philosophy, music, and medicine.

He used his knowledge to help those who did not have the health services they needed to survive in a rough environment: Africa.

Albert Schweitzer lived through World War 1 and World War 2. He was considered a prisoner of war during the First War and he had to leave his work at the hospital to be imprisoned.

He also had to leave his work to raise money to continue the hospital’s work several times.

In addition to working in establishing the hospital, playing concerts, lecturing at universities, he also was a writer.

Albert Schweitzer not only helped people during his lifetime, his life continues to inspire people today through foundations named for him, the hospital he established, and his influence on others that was profound.

This book can be purchased at: – at least at the time of this writing. It is not an affiliate link.

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron

Anything with the mysterious CIA in it tends to get your attention. This book did. It does tell about some of the mysteries of his dad’s life and how that added to his confusion growing up.

Mr. Cron’s story is somewhat of a coming-to-age book with extreme honesty. He tells stories of events that happened in his life that were very painful, laugh-till-you-cry, and all in between.

He tells stories of his mother taking the children on a roller coaster ride, a car ride with his family in a beat-up junker, and so many absolutely funny stories that it had me laughing so hard I was crying.

Then there were stories that had me just crying. Ones of growing up that were very painful, the relationship he wanted so very much from a father who couldn’t give it to him, and how he dealt with that.

This book is not for young children. It is too honest for that. You’ll have to read it to decide. He is clear about things he did that weren’t too great, things others did that weren’t too great, and things he learned from all of that. It might be an interesting book for a teen who likes biographies.

He also tells his journey through to parenthood and how his life growing up affected that, as it always does in some way.

This is a spiritual journey. So, it does talk about spiritual things. It is not only a journey of growing up and the relationship he wished he had with his father, it is also a journey of growing up and into his relationship with Jesus. The thoughts he shares in this category are raw and honest as well.

If you want to read a story that makes you feel like you found someone’s diary and are reading it without permission, you will enjoy this book. It does make you feel like you’re getting insight into a person that is deeper than perhaps even your friends.

The author goes deep, and I think you will appreciate his story if you had a difficult time growing up, or if you want to understand someone who did, and if you want to see someone’s spiritual journey from a very unusual point of view.

The book’s chapters begin with quotes that are interesting, sometimes funny. One I liked a lot was:

If God wanted a world filled with saints, he never would have created adolescence –Susan Beth Pfeffer

These added to the book’s chapters and helped to introduce the next phase as he went along.

I purchased this book at a local bookstore.



The Insanity of God by “Nik Ripken”

The Insanity of God is written under a pseudonym to protect people whose stories are told in the book.

The book is a story told of Nik Ripken’s journey of faith after feeling like he was unsuccessful in reaching people for Jesus, and a faith crisis of losing his son as well.

Several things led to him taking a journey to speak with people who have, or are still, lived with persecution.

This book was encouraging to know that God is working all over the world whether we do anything or not, although he likes us to be involved. It also told stories of people who lived under horrible circumstances and yet continued to thrive in their belief of God, although not all did (as is always the case).

The book spoke of one unusual common theme that the author discovered. He found that people who were living in these difficult situations used singing of spiritual songs that were special to them to make it through.

This was spoken of in the Bible when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, put into stocks, after they had been beaten. They sung songs of praise and prayed through it:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25 HCSB)

The book told stories of people who experienced similar things that happened during Bible days such as seeing visions and dreams of God, experiencing miracles, seeing a person die the next day after being told they were interfering with God’s work.

The author stated that his experience of interviewing these people was uplifting to him and strengthened his faith. It also gave him a new definition of a miracle: Being able to see a family be baptized in public, worshiping in public, and no authority coming to do something to the people.

I would recommend this book if you would like to see persecution from a different point of view: God’s.

Note: Unless I specifically mention it in my blog posts, I did not receive this book from the publisher. I purchased it myself and read it after seeing it mentioned in another place (can’t recall where, though.) I am currently reading his follow-up book, The Insanity of ObedienceIt looks very good so far.

Atlas of the World Coloring Book by Amber Books, Ltd. 2017

Sometimes the way a book is marketed isn’t necessarily the only way you can use the book.

I visited Barnes & Noble in Greensboro, NC recently. They place books in the entrance foyer to grab your attention. One of the stacks of books was an Atlas of the World Coloring Book. On the inside front cover it says:

Atlas of the World Coloring Book is both an excellent reference guide and a relaxing learning tool.

However, when I saw the book, I saw it could fulfill needs I had that weren’t mentioned.

I had been praying through the countries of the world, but then I stopped praying for them.

Honestly, prayer sometimes can get mundane, repetitious, even boring when trying to pray through lists of countries, people, etc. So, if you want to keep up your prayer life, I’ve found you have to look for new ways to continue praying through these lists.

This book answered my prayer in two ways.

One, I was looking for updated maps of the world. The world is constantly changing. Countries that were one, split into two such as Sudan. Sometimes they change names. This book was published in 2017. So, it is current.

Two, it gave me an interesting way to continue my goal of praying through the countries of the world.

The atlas shows the topographical layout of countries on some maps. It shows the divisions of countries on other maps. It gives tidbits of information about countries on the pages. In other words, lots of things to add to my prayer as I go through the countries.

This is a fascinating book that could be used for children to learn more about the world. It could be used in home schools or public schools for extra outside work.

Look for ways to enhance your prayer life. Maybe a coloring book can help you. Besides, it’s fun to be a kid again at times!