Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hitchcock Halted; Spiritual Warfare Continues

It was a nice quiet summer's morning at the Chapel. The meditative trance was soon broken by a rap, rap, rapping on our kitchen door. Actually, Mr. Poe, it was more of a hammering, so much so that Glenna and I assumed that John, our saint fixer was hammering something back together.

It wasn't. We were being invaded by crows. Having seen their reflection in the kitchen door they began attacking their image with gusto. They were relentless, mean, determined to extinguish their rivals, who in this case just happened to be them. Running at them and screaming like a banshee had the affect of chasing them off for a period of 7.4 seconds. Before I could walk the length of the hall back to my office they were on their maniacal mission again.

This can't continue. No one can work. No one can study. No one can pray. No one can think. No one can write sermons. No one thinks about anything but the crows. How long before they give up? How many pecks per minute on the door can three crows execute? Will they break their beaks? Will they break their necks? We can only hope....

Action is demanded, action I take. I proceed to place a large trash receptacle in front of the door. They still see their reflection on the side and continue their onslaught even getting behind the trash cart to continue their war on themselves. Round 1 goes to the crows.

Not to deterred I find a trash sack and cut it to the appropriate size and tape over the door\mirror. The crows apparently now determine that the other crows they are trying to dispatch are now behind the black curtain of the trash sack. They begin to tear it to pieces. Round 2 goes to the crows.

 I rescue the trash bag and tape it on the inside of the door. The reflection returns enough for them to see and escalate their battle. Noise, noise, cawing, cawing....oh did I mention their steady, relentless battle is only matched by an equal amount of bowel movements right by the chapel's kitchen door. Round 3--to the crows.

I have now battled the crows for an hour. For the past hour creatures with a brain the size of my thumb joint have bettered me. Glenna doesn't seem surprised. I am insulted on several counts. The rap, rap, rapping on kitchen door continues. Let them kill themselves, no wait, another thought occurs---if they want in church so badly, take church to them.

I search the cupboards and find a boom box. I set it up outside the door and have 2 cds of our worship services ready. I pop one in and the crows leave in a hurry. They stay away as long as the worship recording plays. Round 4--Cos!

A dispute arises within the staff, the chasm may well split the church. I say the crows didn't like the traditional choir music; Tom defensively believes it was the announcements that Betty made that drove off the crows. Betty says it is the sermon that keeps them away. Larry says it is having an effect on them as they are lining up in rows like pews to listen. Mike P. wonders if they are sleeping as they listen. God please save Betty and Mike.

The recordings work but we can't play the worship service 24-7. I bring in the boom box at lunch and when I return after lunch the crows are at it again. Ron W said to try a stuffed cat  or lion positioned looking out the door. I look, we don't have a cat or a lion or a tiger or bear at the chapel. We've got a





                                                                        and a
That's right, the chapel now has an attack sheep and attack camel.  Laugh if you want, but they are cheap and effective and they don't poop by the door.  Round five--sheep and camel. I've named them Walker (as in Walker, Texas Camel) and General Schwarzkoph for his shock that awes the crows.

God often uses the small and seemingly insignificant to accomplish His work so don't ever count yourself out or doubt He can use you. There are spiritual battles taking place right and left of which we have little knowledge but can play a great role. In fact, if Walker and Schwarz lose their touch, you may be called on very soon.

Cos

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Going for the Mold

So I'm eating breakfast this AM and reading the box that my "Breakfast of Champions" has been housed. On the box is an homage to past champions of the Olympics and this box has a picture of Janet Evans, the swimming great from the 80's and early 90's. It lists her records and times and how many world championships and gold medals she won. The bio sheet never actually used the word "Olympics." I learned the International Olympic Committee has copyrighted many terms associated with the Olympics and many media uses are prohibited without paying a fee to the IOC. No wonder that my enthusiasm for the games is not as robust as in past years.

That being said I am watching them but without the enthrallment I once did. I also noticed how quite a number of the past Olympic champs from London ('12) and Bejing ('08) are placing 3rd or 4th or not even making their event's finals. There are exceptions like Ryan Lochte, age 32, and Michael Phelps, age 31, who despite their advanced ages are doing well. No doubt the old man, Usain Bolt, barring injury, at 29 will win most if not all of the sprints in track. Gabby Douglas, the all-round Olympic gymnastics champ in 2012, is just a nicely spoken of cog in the USA machine and a relic at age 20- a relic for female gymnasts anyway.

    It seems that in most, though not all cases, you hit your prime in late teens to late twenties and its downhill after that, which is only okay if you are a skier. Iran has a 56 year old ping pong Olympian ( I know it's table tennis). Uzbekistan has a 41 year old female gymnast and the US has Mary Hanna, a 61 year old Olympic athlete. Truthfully, however, her horse does most of the work on the equestrian course. Time is the enemy and after a certain passing of it, you may still compete and keep the Olympic spirit but in terms of medals you are going for the mold. Like this guy: Oldest Olympian.

He was found in Italy in the late 1950's and not examined till the 80's. They found four "medals" from the Panatheniac Games from 480 BC buried with him. He also had a jar of ointment athletes were known have used then (by his left thigh). It was labeled Benus Gayas.  His bones showed density from working out and wear and tear in the right shoulder bones and sockets. Scientists believe he was a thrower and\or a  Pentathlete.

There are so many good and wonderful experiences and lessons that come, no doubt, from the disciplines, the training, the competition, the losses and the wins that despite their relatively short span, I would encourage anyone with skills, abilities, and desires to pursue those noble sports and see where they take you. Most of us won't have those opportunities, most of us simply lack some key elements to take us to Olympic podiums.

In terms of the Christian walk of faith, time is not the enemy but our friend.  The experiences of life on this planet are the training sessions in trust, obedience, maturing, and love that our Savior uses to equip us for eternity. Some training sessions are hard, maybe even harsh it seems. There is always so much more to enjoy, more to see, more to understand about our King and His Kingdom that we will spend a glorious eternity exploring all the wonders of it all.

 Robert Browing put it this way in his epic poem Rabbi Ben Ezra:

            Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,
            The last of life, for which the first was made: 
             Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned,
             Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

              Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel
              Why times spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
              Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 
              "Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"
                                    
              Fool! all that is, at all, lasts ever, past recall;
              Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
              What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be:
             Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

 Potter and clay (that's us) endure. The Olympic motto shouldn't apply just to teens and twenty years olds. Citius, Altius, Fortius is apropos for the believer in Christ. May as time speeds on we find ourselves moving faster to trust and obey; soaring higher in our aspirations to Christ-like character and hopes for mankind; Living braver (stronger) in our application of the truths of scripture in our culture as we share the gospel with the lost and bring justice to the poor and hurting.

So turn for a few days to watch the Olympics and marvel at the athlete's skill. But all days turn in faith to Christ and marvel at His grace that always takes us Faster, Higher, and Stronger in love and service. Don't just go for the gold in life, remember, in heaven, gold is merely pavement.

Destined for the podium,
Cos






 



Going for the Mold

So I'm eating breakfast this AM and reading the box that my "Breakfast of Champions" has been housed. On the box is an homage to past champions of the Olympics and this box has a picture of Janet Evans, the swimming great from the 80's and early 90's. It lists her records and times and how many world championships and gold medals she won. The bio sheet never actually used the word "Olympics." I learned the International Olympic Committee has copyrighted many terms associated with the Olympics and many media uses are prohibited without paying a fee to the IOC. No wonder that my enthusiasm for the games is not as robust as in past years.

That being said I am watching them but without the enthrallment I once did. I also noticed how quite a number of the past Olympic champs from London ('12) and Bejing ('08) are placing 3rd or 4th or not even making their event's finals. There are exceptions like Ryan Lochte, age 32, and Michael Phelps, age 31, who despite their advanced ages are doing well. No doubt the old man, Usain Bolt, barring injury, at 29 will win most if not all of the sprints in track. Gabby Douglas, the all-round Olympic gymnastics champ in 2012, is just a nicely spoken of cog in the USA machine and a relic at age 20- a relic for female gymnasts anyway.

    It seems that in most, though not all cases, you hit your prime in late teens to late twenties and its downhill after that, which is only okay if you are a skier. Iran has a 56 year old ping pong Olympian ( I know it's table tennis). Uzbekistan has a 41 year old female gymnast and the US has Mary Hanna, a 61 year old Olympic athlete. Truthfully, however, her horse does most of the work on the equestrian course. Time is the enemy and after a certain passing of it, you may still compete and keep the Olympic spirit but in terms of medals you are going for the mold. Like this guy: Oldest Olympian.

He was found in Italy in the late 1950's and not examined till the 80's. They found four "medals" from the Panatheniac Games from 480 BC buried with him. He also had a jar of ointment athletes were known have used then (by his left thigh). It was labeled Benus Gayas.  His bones showed density from working out and wear and tear in the right shoulder bones and sockets. Scientists believe he was a thrower and\or a  Pentathlete.

There are so many good and wonderful experiences and lessons that come, no doubt, from the disciplines, the training, the competition, the losses and the wins that despite their relatively short span, I would encourage anyone with skills, abilities, and desires to pursue those noble sports and see where they take you. Most of us won't have those opportunities, most of us simply lack some key elements to take us to Olympic podiums.

In terms of the Christian walk of faith, time is not the enemy but our friend.  The experiences of life on this planet are the training sessions in trust, obedience, maturing, and love that our Savior uses to equip us for eternity. Some training sessions are hard, maybe even harsh it seems. There is always so much more to enjoy, more to see, more to understand about our King and His Kingdom that we will spend a glorious eternity exploring all the wonders of it all.

 Robert Browing put it this way in his epic poem Rabbi Ben Ezra:

                                         Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,
                                         The last of life, for which the first was made: 
                                         Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned,
                                         Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

                                          Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel
                                          Why times spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
                                          Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 
                                          "Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"
                                    
                                          Fool! all that is, at all, lasts ever, past recall;
                                          Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
                                          What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be:
                                          Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

 Potter and clay (that's us) endure. The Olympic motto shouldn't apply just to teens and twenty years olds. Citius, Altius, Fortius is apropos for the believer in Christ. May as time speeds on we find ourselves moving faster to trust and obey; soaring higher in our aspirations to Christ-like character and hopes for mankind; Living braver (stronger) in our application of the truths of scripture in our culture as we share the gospel with the lost and bring justice to the poor and hurting.

So turn for a few days to watch the Olympics and marvel at the athlete's skill. But all days turn in faith to Christ and marvel at His grace that always takes us Faster, Higher, and Stronger in love and service. Don't just go for the gold in life, remember, in heaven, gold is merely pavement.

Destined for the podium,
Cos






 



Going for the Mold

So I'm eating breakfast this AM and reading the box that my "Breakfast of Champions" has been housed. On the box is an homage to past champions of the Olympics and this box has a picture of Janet Evans, the swimming great from the 80's and early 90's. It lists her records and times and how many world championships and gold medals she won. The bio sheet never actually used the word "Olympics." I learned the International Olympic Committee has copyrighted many terms associated with the Olympics and many media uses are prohibited without paying a fee to the IOC. No wonder that my enthusiasm for the games is not as robust as in past years.

That being said I am watching them but without the enthrallment I once did. I also noticed how quite a number of the past Olympic champs from London ('12) and Bejing ('08) are placing 3rd or 4th or not even making their event's finals. There are exceptions like Ryan Lochte, age 32, and Michael Phelps, age 31, who despite their advanced ages are doing well. No doubt the old man, Usain Bolt, barring injury, at 29 will win most if not all of the sprints in track. Gabby Douglas, the all-round Olympic gymnastics champ in 2012, is just a nicely spoken of cog in the USA machine and a relic at age 20- a relic for female gymnasts anyway.

    It seems that in most, though not all cases, you hit your prime in late teens to late twenties and its downhill after that, which is only okay if you are a skier. Iran has a 56 year old ping pong Olympian ( I know it's table tennis). Uzbekistan has a 41 year old female gymnast and the US has Mary Hanna, a 61 year old Olympic athlete. Truthfully, however, her horse does most of the work on the equestrian course. Time is the enemy and after a certain passing of it, you may still compete and keep the Olympic spirit but in terms of medals you are going for the mold. Like this guy: Oldest Olympian.

He was found in Italy in the late 1950's and not examined till the 80's. They found four "medals" from the Panatheniac Games from 480 BC buried with him. He also had a jar of ointment athletes were known have used then (by his left thigh). It was labeled Benus Gayas.  His bones showed density from working out and wear and tear in the right shoulder bones and sockets. Scientists believe he was a thrower and\or a  Pentathlete.

There are so many good and wonderful experiences and lessons that come, no doubt, from the disciplines, the training, the competition, the losses and the wins that despite their relatively short span, I would encourage anyone with skills, abilities, and desires to pursue those noble sports and see where they take you. Most of us won't have those opportunities, most of us simply lack some key elements to take us to Olympic podiums.

In terms of the Christian walk of faith, time is not the enemy but our friend.  The experiences of life on this planet are the training sessions in trust, obedience, maturing, and love that our Savior uses to equip us for eternity. Some training sessions are hard, maybe even harsh it seems. There is always so much more to enjoy, more to see, more to understand about our King and His Kingdom that we will spend a glorious eternity exploring all the wonders of it all.

 Robert Browing put it this way in his epic poem Rabbi Ben Ezra:

               Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,
               The last of life, for which the first was made: 
               Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned,
               Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

              Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel
              Why times spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
              Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 
              "Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"
                                    
               Fool! all that is, at all, lasts ever, past recall;
               Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
               What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be:
               Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

 Potter and clay (that's us) endure. The Olympic motto shouldn't apply just to teens and twenty years olds. Citius, Altius, Fortius is apropos for the believer in Christ. May as time speeds on we find ourselves moving faster to trust and obey; soaring higher in our aspirations to Christ-like character and hopes for mankind; Living braver (stronger) in our application of the truths of scripture in our culture as we share the gospel with the lost and bring justice to the poor and hurting.

So turn for a few days to watch the Olympics and marvel at the athlete's skill. But all days turn in faith to Christ and marvel at His grace that always takes us Faster, Higher, and Stronger in love and service. Don't just go for the gold in life, remember, in heaven, gold is merely pavement.

Destined for the podium,
Cos






 



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Tree Grows in Cleburne*


So I'm coming out of my fav burger joint in Cleburne and look across the street and see this tree. It's a mesquite tree growing out of a rain gutter two stories up.  I couldn't tell if the tree's roots went all the way down the gutter and through the sidewalk or if its roots are just in the top of the gutter. Either way I thought that was quite an accomplishment. Ideas of tenacity and "bloom where you're planted" themes rushed through my head, except it wasn't planted there.  It was probably just dumb luck, a hard wind, an inconsiderate bird, and poor cleaning of gutters that made it possible for a mesquite tree to grow up there. Still, I kinda admire the little tree. It's a "Little Tree That Could" story I guess.

Life will not be stopped and people can overcome some incredibly harsh conditions. In looking at that tree I was reminded of a line from the original Jurassic Park movie when the geneticists who made the dinosaurs assured a visiting scientist that the creatures where engineered sterile and could not reproduce and overtake paradise. The scientist was skeptical; "Life finds a way."  Yep.

Our world, this nation, our cities and your life have gone through some horrible days, some are recent, some are in the distant past. There will be more of them in days to come-just being honest. But life, when given the chance, finds a way--a way through, a way over, under, or around. The Bible says that Jesus is life, so let Life find your way. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the resurrection and the life. Paul said in Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory." Life finds a way-- follow and embrace it.

Some days the Christian may appear as out of place in this world as a mesquite tree growing on a roof, but you are alive, a living marvel of faith, and your best days in Christ are still to come.

Keep living; hang in there; keep growing in Christ, who is our life!

Cos

*apologies to Betty Smith 1896-1972

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Prayer

Help us O Lord!

We are a hurting, torn and grieving people--
-Our hearts are torn by racial, economic, and religious strife...
-We grieve over the loss of the five Dallas policemen and the men in our nation's cities killed after minor offences.
- We hurt for the officer's families, colleagues, and friends. We should hurt for all those families and communities where fear, anger, and  needless violence leaves widows, orphans, anger and mistrust in their evil wake.

We cry out because in our hurt, torn and grieving heats we are not sure what to do. And yet, maybe the reason we continue to hurt, be torn apart, and grieve is because we know what to do and haven't done it.

       We change policy but not our hearts.
        We seek to control the methods of violence but not our own madness.
          We desire retribution instead of reconciliation.
            We execute vengeance instead of justice, and then we execute each other, and then
             We bury the very ones we should have blessed.

Help us O Lord!

Help us repent and turn from fear, violence and anger to You.
Help each of us take these events personally and determine to be a part of the solution instead of an extension of the problem.
Let us fight for justice for all viewing every life as a life that matters and as Holy and Precious in Your sight. Make us to see the value of every human as made in Your image.
Help us love one another and extend that love across every line of division Satan would draw in our hearts and in our nation.

May we find our unity as a people through faith in your Son, Jesus our Lord. He alone has the power to forgive us, heal us, and form in us His will as He conforms us to His character. Help us love Him supremely and each other faithfully.

 In Him we find our hope, our peace, and our joy.

Help us O Lord.

In Jesus name.
Amen


Prayer written in response to Dallas, Minnesota, Baton Rogue and every city where anger, prejudice, and hate have devastated too, too many. Delivered White Bluff Chapel 7-10-16 
Cos

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The List Grows

Sadly, we add another city to the list. It is a sickening, demonic, maniacal, hate that increases the list of cities and places where terror strikes and kills. I am so sorry Orlando. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.   I feel so helpless in many ways. But my helplessness turns to probing that turns to prayer which turns to anger as I hear so many opinions as to what can be done.

I hear gun control is the issue.
I hear mental health is the issue.
I hear radical Islam is the issue.
I hear religion in general, fundamental religion specifically, is the issue.
I hear law enforcement, anti-terrorism agencies are the issues.
I hear political problems such as immigration and bombing ISIS is the issue.

More guns, less guns.
More mental health care, more facilities for the mentally ill.
More walls. No walls.
More prayer. Even more prayer.
Less surveillance. More surveillance.
Less religion. More religion. No religion.
Less of YOUR religion. More of MY religion. None of either.

None of these opinions and solutions surprise me. It is what I haven't heard from anyone that bothers me.

No one postulates that what is needed is a better race of human beings.  I suppose it would be politically incorrect to suggest that human problems come from flawed humanity. How about a race that doesn't hate but loves instead? How about a sturdy race of humans that doesn't equate agreement with security and doesn't see disagreement as discrimination? How about a race so concerned with justice and fairness for all that no amount of money or power could turn humans against one another? How about having a wise race that desires liberty for every human but knows that liberty is not the same as license? How about a race that is not motivated by anything less than holiness and righteousness that at the same time identifies and spurns unholiness and unrighteousness? How about a race of humans that can feel so deeply the hurt and pain that life and loss can bring that it would never do anything to inflict such pain or loss on another human? How about a human race that is so respectful of life that it holds life and the living as a sacred trust?

Gun laws cannot create this kind of life.
Politics cannot usher in this way of life.
Mental health facilities cannot create this quality of life.
Walls cannot create this life, nor contain it for that matter.
Technology to surveil, spy,  and monitor cannot sustain this type of life.
Even religion cannot bring this abundant and eternal life into existence.

Only Jesus Christ can create, cleanse, sustain, equip, develop, mature and impart such a life. And He does this with people in relationship with Himself and one another. For all who trust in Him, submit in faith and loving obedience to Him, and follow Him, He begins to work into those lives His very life.

Utopian gibberish you say? Nice, sentimental drivel you say? Impractical platitudes that are unreachable and unlivable you say? I say it is possible. I say this is the very race God in Christ is creating. This, and so much more, is the kind of life and living that the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoy among each other. This and so much more is what God intends for His children to enjoy with Him and one another in a life He calls abundant and eternal. The question then essentially becomes not one of whether He can do it but whether we really want Him to.


Tell me now world, how is your way working?

Cos
I John 4:13-21