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Who is Dan Anyway

  Dan is just an ordinary boy who gets himself into all sorts of...

access_time 12:00AM 01 October 2015

Up a Gum Tree

  Pictures below are © Henry Martin.Free use for ministry purposes. Not to be...

access_time 12:00AM 02 October 2015

Having a whale of a time

"Oh, no!" shouted Dan as he and Suzie were sitting at breakfast. His...

access_time 12:00AM 03 October 2015

Building a Winning Team

(The Semi Final) “Here we go, here we go, here we go!” Dan sang...

access_time 12:00AM 05 October 2015

Dan & Naaman take a dive

(The Final) The semi final was over and Dan had scored the winning goal...

access_time 12:00AM 06 October 2015

The Story of Daniel Begins

....since Noah and his family left the ark. There was a scary moment...

access_time 12:50PM 01 November 2015

20 Large Pepperoni Pizzas to go, please

...had a very long, hard-to-spell name!He also happened to be a rich and...

access_time 01:50PM 01 November 2015

The Mysterious Dream

It woke him up in the middle of the night for several nights...

access_time 01:55PM 01 November 2015

The Fiery Furnace

King Nebuchadnezzar was at it again.This time he had a giant statue set...

access_time 02:50PM 01 November 2015

The King Finally Get's It

No matter what happens, God is in control.We have a hard time believing...

access_time 02:50PM 01 November 2015

The Writings on the Wall

    Just think, even the most mighty king is nothing compared to God. King...

access_time 03:35PM 01 November 2015

The Lions' Den

....when you always do what is good and right. I guess it's because...

access_time 03:35PM 01 November 2015

Dan's Amazing Discoveries

Dan's Amazing Discoveries

Who is Dan Anyway

Who is dan anyway 

Dan is just an ordinary boy who gets himself into all sorts of scrapes and adventures and along the way he makes a few “Amazing Discoveries!”

Dan is nine and a bit, he loves football and climbing trees. School is OK especially when he can play football with his friends, but holidays are even better. Unless of course you end up getting stuck in a tree or have to spend your holiday with Aunty Do and Uncle Paul! Dan loves burgers and chips but isn’t very keen on cabbage, but then again who is?!

Dan has two good friends Joseph and William and of course he has an “alien” for a sister! Well she’s not really an alien but sometimes Dan does wish she would fly away and never come back! Her name is Suzie and she is seven going on sixteen, and she thinks she knows everything.

Dan lives with his Mum and Dad and Sister Suzie in Newtown. It’s probably quite like where you live and some of the things he gets up to are probably what you do too - so you never know, when you read about Dan you too could make some “Amazing Discoveries!”

Copyright Steve Harris

Up a Gum Tree

 Up a gum tree

Pictures below are © Henry Martin.
Free use for ministry purposes. Not to be used for publication or profit.

"Aaaaaaaahh, Aaaahaaaaahh." It was half term holiday and Dan was doing his Tarzan impression in the tree house which he and his friends had made in the small wood near his house. The problem with a tree house is once you have made it everyone else wants to use it too!

"Get out of my tree house!" Dan yelled when he saw three younger boys trying to play in it. After all why should he let them enjoy it when he and his friends had built it?

Dan used to sit in the tree house with Joseph and William pretending they were in the heart of Africa surrounded by wild animals. It was a shame they could see the back of the sweet shop from where they were sitting as it did spoil the effect a bit! But come what may, they were going to defend their tree house from all attackers.... unless of course they were bigger and stronger! The good thing was that most of the older boys used to hang out in the park where Dan played football so their tree house was pretty safe.

When Dan arrived at the tree house one day after his tea, he could tell there had been visitors. Their treasure store had been stolen. OK, so their “treasure” was only a few bits of metal but to them it was the remains of an alien space ship which had crash landed, although they were yet to find the alien survivors. It did cross Dan's mind that the visitors to the tree house could have been the aliens trying to retrieve the missing pieces of their space ship but he decided that was pretty unlikely! After all the visitors had left some chewing gum wrappers with price stickers from the local sweet shop. It would be pretty difficult for aliens to get past the sweet shop owner, Mr Jones, without him noticing a green ugly creature. Although thinking about it, he did serve Dan's sister Suzie without too much problem!

Dan decided to make it a bit more difficult to get into the tree which would, he hoped keep the younger boys out. The tree house was already quite high up but Dan managed to break off a few branches below him with his feet so it would be even more difficult to get up. He kicked and twisted and pulled until the branches fell to the ground.

However there was one major problem with Dan's plan. It was certainly more difficult to get up to the tree house but it was now impossible to get down. Talk about “burning your bridges”, Dan was stuck! He didn't want to risk jumping more than twenty feet to the ground below. He had already had a broken leg in the past and didn't fancy another one.

Zac in treeAs he sat there stranded in the tree he thought about school that week and the assembly Mr Cresswell had given. He had told them about Zacchaeus in the Bible and how he had done some tree climbing too.

His mind wandered as he lay back in the tree house trying to work out how he was going to get down. What had Zacchaeus done? He remembered why Zacchaeus had climbed the tree in the first place. It was because he was pretty unpopular with the people in his town. Mr Cresswell had said that not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector, not a very popular job, he was also collecting extra money for himself, Zac Tax. This made Zacchaeus very unpopular indeed.

Dan’s day dream was interrupted by the sound of voices. Help at last? But when he looked down, it was the younger boys, the same ones he had chased away from the tree house a few days earlier. Dan was a bit embarrassed to ask for help, after all it wasn't that 'cool' to be stuck in your own tree house!

When he did eventually ask then to try and find Joseph for him, they just laughed and walked off and I suppose in one way Dan deserved it.

Dan couldn't help thinking it was a bit like Zacchaeus with his problem. He wanted to see Jesus but because of the way he had treated everyone else no one wanted to let Zacchaeus go to the front of the crowd and as Zacchaeus was short as well, up a tree is where he needed to be if he wanted a glimpse of Jesus.

Then Dan heard another noise. This time it was girls’ voices. Oh, no it was “the green aliens”, his sister Suzie and her three friends. Dan felt really embarrassed now. Now he knew how Zacchaeus must have felt when Jesus and all the others had seen him up the tree.

How could he admit to his little sister that he was stuck? He would never live it down but he had no option. He didn't fancy being stuck up the tree all night.

He tried to sound 'cool' as he shouted down to his sister, "Hi Suzie."

"What's wrong little brother? Stuck are we?" She said.

Dan wasn't going to admit that to his little sister. Zacchaeus may have been short but Dan felt about a metre shorter as he tried to think of what to say to his sister, as her friends started to giggle. "Can you ask Dad to give me a hand please, Suzie?" Unfortunately for Dan that was a bit of a give away. Saying "please" to his sister was a pretty rare occurrence.

Suzanne and her three friends ran off towards the house chanting "Dan's stuck up a tree-ee, Dan's stuck up a tree-ee!"

Zac and JesusDan sat back in the tree house and wished an alien spaceship would come and take him to a far flung planet. He knew that his sister would never let him forget this day. Then Dan remembered Zacchaeus and how Jesus, in front of everyone, had asked him to come down and had invited himself to Zacchaeus house for tea! Zacchaeus may not have been stuck but he was probably pretty embarrassed, even if he was pleased to have Jesus as a guest.

Dan remembered how the people were not too pleased with Jesus, going off to have dinner with a thief like Zacchaeus. But that was typical of Jesus. He wasn't as concerned about what people thought about him, as he was about helping people like Zacchaeus who needed it. Dan thought to about the change that Jesus’ visit had made in Zacchaeus life. Zacchaeus had promised Jesus and all the people that he was going to give back all that he had stolen and that he was going to give half his money to the poor. Now that was real change!

Zac crowd

Dan looked round at the tree house. How stupid he had been in not wanting anyone else to share it. After all it wasn’t even his tree!

Pretty soon Dan's Dad arrived with a ladder. Dan tried to play it down saying he had hurt his leg a bit and that was why he was stuck.. His Dad just smiled and said nothing. Suzie, who had returned to watch the fun, continued to chant "Dan's stuck up the tree-ee!" Dan felt like pulling the tree up by the roots and putting it in her mouth sideways but he had to admit, to himself at least, that without her help he might have been stuck up there all night.

Later as Dan lay in his bed, he thought of how silly he had been. This had been a 'not so Amazing Discovery' but he had learned a lesson. What had Jesus said to Zacchaeus and all the people? "Today salvation has come to this house." Dan had needed saving from his tree house, but he also needed to be reminded that he needed God's help in his life to learn how to let others share the things which, after all, God had given him in the first place.

Zacchaeus had needed Jesus’ help to come out of the tree and Jesus had changed his life and Dan too had learned a lesson about coming down a level or two and changing the way that he thought about others, even “green aliens” or did he mean sisters!

Copyright Steve Harris

Having a whale of a time

having a whale of a time

"Oh, no!" shouted Dan as he and Suzie were sitting at breakfast. His Dad had just broken the news. Dad and Mum had to go and visit their uncle in Yorkshire who was very ill and there was no alternative but Dan and Suzie should  go and stay with Aunty Do and Uncle Paul in Wales.

To listen to the story instead Click Here

"Why can't I stay at William's house?" Dan complained. But Dan's Mum explained that William's Mum couldn't have them as William’s sister had chicken pox.  So there was no escape. A whole weekend with Aunty Do and Uncle Paul in Wales. Nightmare!

The days dragged that week as Dan and Suzie waited for the weekend. The plan was that they would set out for Wales early on Saturday morning. Dan was getting more and more angry about the whole thing and by the time Friday came he was fit to burst! There was no way that he was going to go to stay with Do and Paul, Anyway they weren't his real Aunty and Uncle, just Mum and Dad’s boring friends. He didn't care what his Mum and Dad said. Although he hadn't seen them for a few years now, he had never really forgiven them for the time when they had come to stay and everything that he did was wrong and everything that Suzie did was right. "Don't touch that .... Don't hurt your sister....Let her watch her video"  There was no way he was going to stand a whole weekend of that.

So Dan began to form a plan. If he could hide somewhere on Friday night then they would have to leave him behind and then he could go and stay with William after all. The boy in "Home Alone" had survived OK without his parents! It was a really stupid idea but he wasn't thinking  straight.

So on Friday when Dan had finished his supper, he told his mum he was tired and that he was going to go to bed. The truth was he wanted to make his get away. He thought that he could sleep the night in the tree house and then hide until the car had gone. It never crossed his mind that once his Mum and Dad realised he had disappeared they would send out a search party to find him!

So Dan said good night, throwing in a few yawns for good measure, and headed off to his room. He got together a few things in a backpack including his sleeping bag and waited till everyone else was occupied. Then he sneaked out the front door. It was as easy as falling off a bike and soon  he had disappeared into the woods opposite the house. It wasn't quite dark so he decided to stash his stuff in the tree house and go for a walk up the shopping street. Of course all the shops, except the chip shop, were shut and it was a bit spooky really but Dan pulled his hood over his head and walked down the street. After all he didn't want to be recognised and have his cover blown.

As he stood looking into a travel agents shop, he started to think about what he was doing. What would happen if his Mum or Dad went into his room tonight? What would happen when they found him gone in the morning? As he looked in the shop window he saw the sign. "Get away from it all". This reminded him of the story of Jonah in the Bible.

Jonah, was a prophet, one of God's special messengers, and he had been told by God to go and give a very important message to some people in Nineveh. Dan remembered how Jonah was so annoyed about being told to talk to the Ninevites that he decided to catch a ride on a ship going in the other direction to Tarshish, a town in Spain. After all Jonah didn't fancy taking to some of his arch enemies. It would have been like a Liverpool supporter having to cheer for Man United!

Running away was the start of big problems for Jonah. You see God wanted Jonah to do what he had said but Jonah thought he could run away from God. As Jonah tried to sleep it off in the bottom of the ship and forget what God had asked him to do, God sent a storm to wake him up. In the end the sailors were so afraid of the storm they had everyone praying, and that’s when they asked themselves: "Where's Jonah?".

Dan thought again about what he was doing. What would his Mum and Dad think? What was God thinking? After all it wasn't Dan's Mum and Dad's fault that they had to go off to Yorkshire, and Aunty Do and Uncle Paul probably weren't all that bad. Then Dan looked in the window of the shop. He could see his own reflection in the glass.

He saw another advert, this time for Wales. "Special offer. Three days in Wales." Looking at the advert reminded him of what had happened to Jonah, how he had been thrown off the ship and ended up in a huge fish. Dan started to laugh "Oh, no Jonah ended up in Whales for three days too!".

Then Dan realised how foolish it was to try and run away. In fact not only was he foolish, it could have been really dangerous. He turned away from the shop window and started to hurry back to the tree house. He remembered how when Jonah was inside the whale he had thought about how foolish he had been and had said sorry to God for trying to 'do a runner'. Dan too felt a bit ashamed and sorry for thinking about running away.

As he passed the fish and chip shop the smell of fish and chips was wafting out the door. He thought about Jonah when God made the fish cough him up on the sea shore. Jonah must have smelt a bit fishy after his three day stay. It's funny, Dan thought, but running away can often leave marks on people. He remembered how in the local high school, one of the boys there had run away and got into all sorts of trouble. Dan thought he had better get back home quickly.

After getting his stuff out the tree house Dan wondered how he was going to get in to the house again! He could try and climb through the window. But Jonah had learnt to say sorry so Dan thought he might as well knock on the door and try to explain. But when his Dad answered the door he was on the phone. In fact Dan had only been out about an hour and his Dad just thought he had been out playing football! So Dan simply said "Hi" and went off to bed!

Next day they set off  for Wales. Dan kept having pictures in his mind of his Aunty and Uncle dressed as Ninevites and Dan being “spat” out of the car on his arrival smelling rather fishy. He also imagined that when he got there he would spend the whole weekend telling them to stop doing the terrible things they were doing!

His Mum noticed he was a bit quiet and said "What are you doing Dan?"

He just replied "Thinking of  Whales, Mum." Of course she thought he meant W ALES not WHALES!

When they arrived,  Dan tried to put on his best smile as he got to the door. But when it opened he couldn't believe his eyes. The people who answered the door were the wrong people! Well they were the right people but they weren't the ones Dan had expected. Dan had been thinking of the wrong Aunty and Uncle!

When they went inside Dan was taken to his room for the weekend. It was full of football posters, some of them really old ones. It was amazing! As Dan found himself alone for a minute, his mind went to Jonah and Nineveh again. Jonah had expected no one to listen to the message he had to bring but when he arrived he got a big surprise. Not only did the people listen, they were even prepared to change and do as God said. Dan thought about how he had expected the weekend to be awful and how different it was turning out! Like Jonah he had totally misjudged them. Dan found himself saying "Sorry God and thank you" quietly to himself. He was really glad that God was far more patient with him that he was with others.

Dan ran down the stairs and was greeted by his Mum and Dad and Do and Paul and the "sea monster", his sister Suzie.

Paul started to tell Dan how he planned to take him to see a football match in the afternoon while the girls went shopping. Paul’s son was in university and Dan was using his old room while he was away.

Dan walked round the garden while his Mum and Dad chatted. He had certainly had made another of his Amazing Discoveries!  How silly he'd been, just like Jonah, first all thinking he could run away, especially from God and secondly about his view of what it was going to be like doing what he had been asked. Dan remembered that even after all God had done Jonah was still miserable, but Dan was going to learn his lesson and enjoy a great weekend.

Then he heard Paul calling for him to come in for dinner. Dan couldn't believe it when he sat down and found it was fish and chips!

Copyright Steve Harris

Dan & Naaman take a dive

Dan and Naaman
(The Final)

The semi final was over and Dan had scored the winning goal. He felt like a real hero as he walked into school the next day. Even some of the girls in year 6 who would have ignored him the day before were saying "Well done Dan!" as he walked through the school yard. It was all Dan could do to keep himself from blushing when his name was read out in assembly that morning.

But, as Mr Williams said as they met for their first practice to prepare for the final, "The semi final is history now boys, and the final will soon be upon us. You did well, but let’s not get too big headed we nearly lost the semi final and the final is likely to be even tougher."

"Let's not get a big head”, The words flew around Dan mind like a bee stuck in a jam jar. It was pretty easy for him to get carried away with his own ability when the truth was he really had Mr Williams and the rest of the team to thank for his winning goal, and any way without the strength that came from God he wouldn't even have been on the pitch. It was so easy for him to forget that he needed God's help every day.

It was only a week to the final and Mr Williams had so many things he wanted to remind the team of before then.

After the Wednesday night practice Dan came home really muddy and pretty cold so while his Mum got his tea ready he went upstairs to have good soak in the bath. As he started to take off his football kit he couldn't help thinking about the story of Naaman in the Old Testament, the first half of the Bible.

Dan had been called 'a hero' by a few of his friends in school and Naaman too had been a great hero. Of course he wasn't a footballer, he was a general in an army. In the days of horses and chariot and swords and spears.

Dan looked at the mud which covered him from almost head to toe. Naaman too had been covered, but not with mud, with a terrible skin disease. Dan remembered what it had been like to have chicken pox, but the sad thing for Naaman was that his skin disease wasn't getting better, but year after year it got worse.

Dan picked up the flannel and rubbed off some of the mud. Naaman had tried everything to get rid of his skin disease but no matter what he tried nothing worked, until one day his wife's little servant girl had an idea. She came for Israel and in her country there was a man named Elisha. He wasn't a Doctor, he was a prophet. But God had used Elisha to do some incredible things.

The servant girl had told her mistress about Elisha and suggested that Naaman should go and see him and perhaps God would help Elisha to make Naaman well again.

Dan slid into the bath and the bubbles covered his muddy body. “Poor old Naaman” he though. “What had happened when he went to see Elisha?” Then Dan remembered that by the time Naaman had reached Elisha's house he was expecting him and he had sent his servant to the door to tell Naaman what he should do. "Go wash yourself seven time in the river Jordan." is what the servant had said. Naaman had been furious. He had though "What a cheek, Elisha hasn't even come to talk to me and he wants me to go and wash in the smelly river Jordan."

That reminded Dan that Naaman had another problem which really was worse than his skin disease. It was his pride. In fact Naaman was so proud he had almost gone back home without doing what Elisha, well actually God, was asking him to do!

Dan started to rub the dirt off in the water and saw how the water was gradually changing colour. Naaman pride had almost stopped him doing what God had asked. But Dan knew that eventually Naaman men had managed to persuade him to do the right thing. Dan knew there were many times then his stubbiness had stopped him doing what he knew was right.

As Dan soaked in the bath he thought how Naaman must have felt as he began to wash himself in the river Jordan. Dan held his nose as he dipped his head again and again under the bath water and counted as he did it, "Once, and nothing happened, twice and nothing happened, three time and nothing happened, four times and nothing happened, five times and nothing happened, six times and nothing happened, seven times and...." Dan jumped up in the bath and grabbed the clean towel. On the seventh time Naaman had been healed. Dan tried to imagine what it must have felt like. I bet Naaman was glad he had swallowed his pride.

Dan dried himself off  and put on some clean cloths. Then he ran down stairs for his tea. “You look as clean as a whistle Dan”, said his Mum.

Dan started eating his tea, he was starving. “Clean as a whistle” he thought. “Just like Naaman.” Dan tried to remember a verse about that from the Bible, then he remembered one from another story. It was something about  “People look at the outside but God looks at the heart”. Everyone had seen Naaman's spots but God had seen the problem of his pride on the inside as well.

The days coming up to the final whizzed by and soon the day arrived. Everyone had been invited to the big match. The whole school was aloud to watch and all the teachers. Even Dan's Mum and Dad  had taken the afternoon off to come and see him play.

Mr Williams gave the boys a really good team talk and everyone went on the pitch ready to do their best, win or lose.

The first half was 'end to end' play but it didn't matter how many chances both teams had they just couldn't seem to score. At times Dan thought both goal keepers must have had super glue on their gloves!

The half time whistle blew and both teams had a few minutes of well earned rest. Mr Williams said “Its really important that you concentrate in the second half as the first goal could well be the winner.”

The second half started and after about ten minutes Dan couldn't believe it! It was almost like an action replay of the semi final as the ball landed a few metres in front of him. He was already running flat out towards the ball, and for the first time in the match the goal keeper was out of position.  It looked like it was going to be a certain goal. There was only one problem. There was one other player also running as fast as he could towards the ball but Dan hadn't seen him. As Dan got closer to the ball it was obvious that Dan would reach the ball first, but only just. As Dan swung his leg back to kick the ball the defended realised Dan was certain to score, so he dived feet first at Dan's leg. It was like two express trains hitting each other and Dan went flying and crashed to the floor in a heap.

Dan didn't hear the referees whistle blow. He didn't see the other player being sent off for dangerous play. Dan just lay on the ground holding his leg. It was more than he could do to hold back the tears.

Everyone crowded around him and his Mum shouted "Oh, Dan!" Normally Dan would have been embarrassed but he was hurting too much to care! Mr Williams took control and realised that Dan needed to go to hospital. In a few minutes the ambulance was there and Dan was put on stretcher and bundled off the pitch. That was the last he was to see of the final!

In Hospital things calmed down a bit and his Mum and Dad wheeled him along to the X Ray department so they could find out what the problem was.

The X Ray machine was amazing. It took an picture of Dan's leg. The person taking the X Ray tried to get Dan to smile by saying “Smile please” as she took the X Ray, but Dan wasn't really in the mood for smiling. A little later they returned and put the X ray picture on a special screen. As they looked at the bone they could see the reason for the pain. The leg was broken!

Dan sat and looked at the picture of his leg. As he did it reminded him of the Naaman story he had thought about earlier in the week as he had been lying in the bath and then about the verse “People look at the outside, but God looks at the heart”. As Dan looked at the outside of his leg all he could see was a few bruises but the X ray machine could see inside to the real problem. God like a heavenly X ray machine had seen Naaman's real problem. His pride on the inside.

Dan though how amazing it was that the X ray machine could see inside Dan's leg to the broken bones but even more amazing God could see inside Naaman's life, and for that matter Dan's life as well, and see the real person!

Once the Doctors knew the problem they could do something about it and so they gave Dan something to ease the pain and gave Dan’s leg a new shinny white football boot! They put his leg in a plaster cast!

When Dan got home he was pretty stiff as he lay on the settee in the living room. Just as he was getting comfortable his Dad came running in.

“Guess what Dan?” Dan wasn't really in the mood for guessing so his Dad continued, “Mr Williams has just been on the phone. He wanted to know how you were. He was really sorry about the broken leg but thought you would want to know what happened in the rest of the match.”

Dan looked a bit sad, he thought it might be bad news, after all Bushby Primary had lost their star player! Dan's Dad kept explaining. “When you were injured you were fouled and the good news is you were in the penalty area. So Bushby primary had a penalty kick.” Dans eyes started to sparkle again. “And Joseph took the penalty and scored what turned out to be the winning goal!”

Dan felt like jumping round the room he was so happy but it was a bit difficult with a broken leg! But then as he thought about it he started to laugh.

His Dad looked at him, “Dan why are you laughing?”

“Well Dad it's like this a few days ago I was in the bath thinking about the story of Naaman in the Bible and how he was healed. Well in the story he had to take a dive in the river Jordan, and he didn't want to do it  but when he did he got a new skin. Today, I had to take a dive on the football pitch, and I didn't want to do it either, but when I did we got the winning goal! So I suppose we both got what we were looking for in the end.” Dan's Dad just looked at him with a puzzled look on his face and smiled.

As Dan though about the day he couldn't help remembering what he had thought as he looked at the X ray and remembered the story. God could see into Dan's life. He knew how Dan felt that moment as he sat in his chair. It was great to know that God had a heavenly “X ray machine” and could see everything, good and bad, and still loved Dan enough to care.

Even thought the match had resulted in a broken leg Dan knew he wouldn't forget that days "Amazing Discovery". Although with the plaster cast he had on his leg it would be a little while before he’d be able to take another dive!

Copyright Steve Harris

Building a Winning Team

Building a winning team
(The Semi Final)

“Here we go, here we go, here we go!” Dan sang as he walked home from the football match with his Grandfather. Newtown United, Dan’s local team, had been playing and they had won again. They were only a few points off the top of the division now. OK, so it wasn’t the Premier League but it was Dan’s local side and Dan’s teacher was their star player.

Dan was football crazy and not only did he enjoy watching it, he loved playing it. In fact at nine and a half, he was one of the best in his school.  He was on the school team and he never missed the Wednesday afternoon practice.

Well, there was one practice he had missed that season. He’d been sick all week but on Wednesday morning he was up, trotting downstairs with his boots over his shoulder and ready to go. OK, so he had a streaming cold and a high temperature but that wasn’t going to stop him. His mum had other ideas. She took one look at him and ordered “Bed!”

“But Mum I’m fine” (Cough, sniff) “I feel much better. Remember we prayed about it last night?”

But Dan’s mum just smiled and told him to get back to bed with the comment “Dan, I may believe in miracles but this is not one of them!” This was one match Dan was not going to win no matter how many times he tried to twist and turn!

As Dan thought about the team, he remembered how they had been pretty rubbish at the beginning of the season! But that was “BMW”, Before Mr Williams. You see not only was Mr Williams star player for Newtown United and one of Dan’s teachers, he was also in charge of the school football team and that had made all the difference. All the players on the team had soon realised that if they were going to play well they had to listen to what Mr Williams had to say and learn to play by the rules.

Kicking the ball around in the lunch times was one thing but if they wanted to be good, then they had to learn to play as a team. It was funny really because when Dan read stories in the Bible he often thought it was a bit like his football playing. There were so many characters in the Bible who thought they could live by their own rules without taking any notice of God’s, only to find that they were in a right mess in the end.  And that is just how Dan’s school team had been before they started listening to Mr Williams.

For the first time in years Dan’s school, Bushby Primary, were winning matches, and it wasn’t the players who were better, it was the fact that the team were listening to Mr Williams’ instructions.

Bushby Primary had reached the Semi Final for the first time ever and if they won, then they would have a chance to be in the final of the Schools Cup. You can imagine how excited Dan was about it.

The weekend before the match came and on Saturday morning at the crack of dawn Dan was out in the back garden practising his football skills. When Monday came Dan was determined to be at his peak! He was kicking the ball against the back wall so hard that he woke up his Mum, who couldn’t believe it when she looked out the window to see Dan playing football at quarter to seven in the morning! “Your son is football mad” she moaned to Dan’s Dad who was lying in bed with the pillow over his head to keep out the noise.

After breakfast Dan went off the park with William and Joseph, yes you guessed it, to play football. But not before his Mum warned him against going off on his own. “Typical Mum” he thought, but deep down he knew she was only thinking of his safety.

Next morning, Sunday, Dan woke up with football on his mind again. But then he remembered he had to go to Church. The truth was, normally he really enjoyed church but this particular morning the thought of having to go to church instead of playing football was not exactly what he called fun.

Soon the whole family was ready to go. Even the “pest” was coming with them. The “pest” was one of the better names Dan had for his little sister. Dan looked longingly at the football pitches as they went past in the car on the way to church. “I wish,” he sighed.

Actually once he got to church it was OK. Although most of his friends from school didn’t go to Church, William did so he sat with him behind his Mum and Dad.

The story that morning was really good. The Minster, Paul was telling one of Jesus’ parable. He began “Imagine two builders. They both had the same job to do but, boy, did they end up with different results.”

Dan could think of a few people like that in his school, like Andrew. He was always in trouble. Andrew had two ears just like everyone else but he never seemed to listen. Like the time when they had a “lecture” in assembly  about using the subway to cross the road. That same night Dan had walked home with Andrew. Do you think Andrew was going to use the subway? Not him. He thought he knew better! But the car that hit him as he crossed the road had other ideas. and the doctor said he was lucky to be alive. But six months later he was doing the same thing. Some people never learn.

Pastor Paul continued the story “The two builders both started building. Their tools and materials were pretty much the same. The big difference was what they built their houses on. The foolish man built his house on the sand and that is where his problems began”

Dan could guess what was going to happen next. He knew that sand just wasn’t strong enough for building things that last. It didn’t matter how good the materials were if the foundations weren’t strong enough.

Paul said “The foolish man’s house looked fine from a distance but when the bad weather came the problems started. It wasn’t long before the cracks appeared and then ‘‘Splat!’” Paul disappeared behind the lectern he was using for his notes. He slowly stood up putting his glasses back on straight. “Disaster had struck and the house had come down flat as a pancake. The foolish man had found that when it came to the crunch foundations mattered a lot.”

Paul then went on to tell them about the wise man. “He had the same job and pretty much the same materials to work with. The big difference was what he built his house on. He chose to build on a big firm rock. When the bad weather came and the wind blew and the rain fell, the house took a bit of a beating but it still stood firm. It wasn’t because the wise man was a great builder.  It was what he had chosen to build on that had made all the difference.”

Dan couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for the foolish man. After all they had both worked hard. But as Pastor Paul went on to say; “Jesus  said that we all were either like the wise builder or the foolish one. We either choose to build our lives on God’s ways and command, which would never fail or do our own thing which often ended in disaster.”

Church was soon over and as Dan ate his Sunday lunch he thought about the story. Dan was pretty sure that he wanted God to be the boss in his life and that living by Gods rules would be the best way but it was not always easy to do. He thought it was easy for Jesus to tell these stories but much harder for Dan to live that way.

After dinner though, Dan forgot about the story and started thinking again about the match next day. He got his football boots out and decided to give them a really good polish or “spit and polish” as his Grandfather called it . By the time he had finished, they were so shiny you could use them as a mirror for combing your hair, which wasn’t that useful as Dan hated combing his hair!

On Sunday night Dan could hardly sleep as he was so excited. And next day in school he found it very hard to concentrate, especially in the maths lesson as. he was dreaming of Bushby Primary playing against Man United at Wembley in the in Cup final.

“Daniel what are you doing?” demanded his maths teacher who had caught him gazing out the window.

“Sorry sir,” said Dan as he tried hard to look like he was really working.

At last the afternoon came and the team were in the dressing room waiting for the game to begin. Mr Williams was reminding them of team tactics. “Don’t forget to listen to me boys. I’ll be shouting instructions from the side of the pitch and don’t forget all the things we have been practising.”

One of the boys pointed out that the other team looked a lot bigger than them. Mr Williams just said “It must be the breakfast cereal they eat!” The team laughed but they were feeling a bit nervous.

When they started to play, their game went to pieces. It seemed like the other team were bigger, faster, and better. But the main problem was Bushby Primary weren’t playing as a team and they certainly weren’t listening to Mr Williams instructions. At the end of the first half they were a goal down and the truth was they were lucky not to be three goals down.

As they came off the pitch the team were all blaming each other and even the referee for their poor performance. But it was their own fault. Mr Williams gathered them all together. He was calm but a bit cross because they hadn’t done as he had asked. He told them; “Boys, you were just not playing properly.”

He was about to explain why, when Andrew interrupted him shouting. “That’s easy for you to say sir, but you’re not on the pitch!”  You could have cut the air with a knife. Andrew had really blown it now. You don’t interrupt teachers and you certainly don’t shout at them. Not if you want to live that is!

Mr Williams gave Andrew a stern look and said “Andrew, I may not be on the pitch with you now but I have played the game for more years than you’ve had hot dinners and it is because you have learnt to listen to me this season that we have been winning games and have got this far in the cup.”

The boys looked at him and had to admit that what he said was true. At the beginning of the season Dan’s sister, Suzie, might have scored against them, but now here they were in the semi final.

As Dan listened to Mr Williams his mind went back to the day before and the story in church of the wise and foolish builders. He remembered how at Sunday lunch he had thought how it was easy for Jesus to talk about living by God’s rules but much harder to actually live by them. But as he thought again he realised that Jesus had lived by God’s rules. In fact he had not only lived his life by them but had died, and come back to life again to make it possible for Dan and people like him to have the strength to live by them too! Dan could ask for Jesus help in every’ situation... including this football match.

The boys took what Mr Williams had said to heart and when they went out for the second half, they were like a different team. They started to play the way Mr Williams had taught them and were listening as he shouted instructions from the side of the pitch.

It wasn’t long before Joseph, Dan’s best friend scored a goal. It was a cracking header from a corner kick. But were they going to have enough time to score another goal? Time was running out.

There were only a few minutes of the match left when Mr Williams shouted to Dan to move up the pitch and closer to the goal. Mr Williams had noticed that the other side were getting tired and were not coming so far up the pitch. Dan hadn’t noticed but he listened to Mr Williams instructions. It wasn’t long after that when Andrew kicked the ball right up the field. If Dan had been in his normal position he never would have reached it but now he was in a great position. He ran as fast as he could,  got the ball past a player, saw a gap and kicked it as hard as he could. The goal keeper  made a great dive but the ball was too fast and too hard for him to reach and it flew into the back of the net. Dan couldn’t believe his eyes. He had scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the schools cup semi final! As he ran back up the pitch he couldn’t help saying “Thanks Jesus” under his breath and then gave a big thumbs up to Mr Williams who had a huge grin on his face.

A few minutes later the whistle blew and Bushby Primary were through to the final of the schools’ cup. and they all knew one thing, it was Mr Williams they had to thank, although Dan was sure Jesus had answered his prayers too.

As Dan walked home with his Dad, his boots over his shoulder he couldn’t help thinking that there had been someone else on the edge of the pitch cheering him on that day - that was Jesus! Dan thought about Mr Williams smile as he had given him the thumbs up and Dan wondered if Jesus too had been smiling when the ball flew into the net.

Dan had learned a very important lesson: Just as when it came to playing football he needed to hear and obey Mr Williams’ voice, so when it came to life he needed to learn to recognise God’s voice as he wanted to be a guide and a friend. Dan knew he had to be prepared not only to listen, but to obey and do what Jesus said.

That day Dan had made another of his Amazing Discoveries. Together in life, Dan and Jesus could build a winning team because what is most important is was what you build your life on, and not what you have for breakfast!

Copyright Steve Harris