Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rain, Titus, and VBS

Rain is a delicate subject around these parts, more so a little down south. I published a prayer for rain last week and within five days it rained. I'm not about to take credit for the recent liquid blessings any more than I'll accept blame for the blast furnace heat of previous days and coming days. However, I, we, need to be thankful and show faith in response to God's faithfulness in sending the showers and yet not insolent enough to publish a prayer for rain every time I think we need one. I'd be "rain writing" about every two weeks or so in Texas were that the case and probably disappointed most of the time.  None of us can control the weather, in fact there are a lot of  things we can't control. So we pray to the One who can and thank-Him when our prayers are answered with a "yes." And when He doesn't answer when and how we want, we ask Him for the strength, endurance, and peace then trust His grace and goodness to provide in His way and His time all it takes to live a life pleasing to Him. You and I will see more drought and we will see more rain. These and other variables we can't control will plague and bless us as we go through life. There is only One in whom there is no shadow of turning who remains the same yesterday, today and forever. In all the variables of life, trust Him.


I am a highly organized being. I like order in the midst of disorder. I seek precision and shun chaos. Before creation began we are told in Genesis (KJV) that chaos ruled over the deep. All one has to do is look at my desk and see the penchant for order I possess. I have precisely ordered stack of books, notepads, scraps, post-its, calendars and drinking vessels at the ready. Just this past week I went looking for five different items and found three of them in quick order.  Any major league batter would kill for that kind of average. My garage is the same way. In the middle are two vehicles. In the thirty-five years of my marriage, when we have been blessed to have a garage, I have never once lost a vehicle in one. The plan is simple and direct: the vehicles go in the middle of the garage, side by side, everything else is to be piled around the interior walls of the garage. This system has worked perfectly. That's why a discovery in Titus (that's a book in the Bible for you Baylor grads) thrilled me this AM. In chapter one, verses five and six, the apostle Paul is helping Titus organize the church. It needed straightening out and some leadership put in place. Going on to read the rest of Titus it is clear Paul thinks these correctives are needed to show God's grace, say "no" to ungodliness, and do good for folks till Jesus appears. (Chapter 2:11-14) For Paul's understanding of God and His church shows a vital relationship of grace and mercy that lives itself out in holiness and service. His church world was not an either\or but a both\and when it comes to doctrine and passion; faith and works; loving devotion and service; working and waiting on Christ's return. All this took time, energy, and organization. Titus is a good book for the unloving, undisciplined, and unprincipled as well as the stuffed shirts, rules saturated, good-works-are-enough folks. In many ways it is a book of divine balance.
      My righteousness may look a little rumpled compared to yours, but I need your organizational skills to put my wacky ideas into working order. You may at some time need my laughter to balance a silly notion that if you looked good, behaved properly, and organized everything, all life would work out. God's grace welcomes us all and then it puts us together in such a way that balance is achieved. In some circles this is also known as peace.

Vacation Bible School is great! Our children's minister, Kay Lea, is a great, and I mean a great VBS director. One of the great things she did was get great people to help her. The teachings are great, the rec is great, the snacks are great( no lame Kool Aid and two Hydrox cookies we got when I was a kid in VBS. no wonder kids quit church after growing up). The organization is great. The crafts are great. But the greatest things about VBS is the kids. They thrill my heart. I'm expecting a baby granddaughter in a few weeks and I've been mesmerized by little girls and the way they act, look and interact. I keep thinking: "I'm going to have one of those in my family." Wow. What will I do? I'll stare a lot at first but I'll learn. We had boys so they are a bit of a mystery to me. I can hardly wait.

One kid, a boy, of course, was looking at the pastor's portraits in the main hall of the church. He was really studying mine and even tracing the dates of my pastorship etched in the nameplate below. (Now understand that I "play" a character called Terrible Terry the Tweenager at VBS. He is kid who never grew up living between being a teen and grown up and he loves comic book super heroes. He is kinda like the comic book guy in the Simpsons without the cigarette. He also knows nothing about Jesus and VBS is teaching him). The kid turns around and sees me standing there in my terrible Terry clothes and turns and looks back at the portrait and in utter amazement declares: Terry Cosby is the PASTOR of this Church?!!!?  He expressed the sentiments of untold dozens. I love VBS kids.

Comic Book Cos

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Prayer for Rain

I've collected a few prayers through the years, most of them I highlight in books or stick in a folder somewhere and can never find. I got lucky this week and actually found one I was looking for and wanted to share it with you. I was written, I believe, sometime forty to sixty years ago. From the internal contents and the defunct magazine from which it originally came I believe it came from an era when Texas wasn't as air conditioned or as urban.  It was written by a man. There was a horrible drought in Texas in the mid 50's. I don't know if it was from then or not but it would fit. I hope it worked then and would love to see it happen now. But do notice how knowledgeable the author is with the names of God and how specifically picturesque, if not downright forward, he is in his requests. We might do well to put as much thought into our prayers. Enjoy.......

O Lord, in thy mercy, grant us rain and by that we don't mean a shower. We want to go out and watch the lightning rip across the southwest sky in hot blue forks as the fat clouds roll in on us. We want to scramble all over the house, just as the first sheets descend, frantically slamming down the windows.

O Lord of Hosts, we want to look out of the windows and watch the regiments of close-packed raindrops march diagonally down. We want to hear the gurgle of gutters under the eaves, and then the spatter of the downpour.

O God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, let it come down so hard, let the drops dance so high that the streets and sidewalks seem covered with a 6-inch fog of spatter drops, then let it just keep up for a while, and then begin to taper off and then turn rights around and get a lot worse: swishing, pounding, splattering, pouring, drenching, the thunder coming Crackity-BAM! And the lightning flashing so fast and furious that you can't tell which flash goes with which peel of thunder---so that all the women will get scared and climb on top of the beds and scream at you not to get too close to that window. And then, O jealous God, repeat the whole act about three times and in the middle of the second time we will climb the attic stairs and put a wash tub under that tiny leak in the roof which you don't usually notice in an ordinary rain. After a couple of hours, kinda taper it on down, O Lord, to a good steady rain...not a drizzle, but a business-like one that keeps on until just about dawn and the spits a few drops occasionally during the morning from a gray sky.

Texas is indeed the Promised Land, O Lord, and if it gets a break, it will flow with milk and honey, but we can't live much longer on promises. So in Thine own way and Thine own time, make up Thy mind, O Lord, and we will bow before Thy judgement and praise Thine everlasting name.
Amen  (from Farm Show Magazine)


Thursday, June 2, 2011


It had been six months since Phil had died and a year since I had moved from being their pastor when I got Rita's letter. Long distance was a bit expensive then and  Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet, so Rita wrote the last pastor she had. She missed Phil badly. "Every night I take one of his shirts from the closet and hold it when I go to bed. I haven't changed his pillowcase either. I can still smell his aftershave so I hang on. The aroma on the shirts is fading and I can't stand it. It is all I have left to hang on to."

It had been four years since our oldest son Matt had left. He'd been working and going to school and wouldn't be coming back except for weekend visits so I began to take over some of the closet and drawer space in his room. But I left an almost empty bottle of Polo Sport aftershave in one drawer. I could still get a mild whiff of it now and then. It caused me to pray to and thank the Lord and remember when Polo Sport was strong in the house.

I have the number 242 in my head. I believe it was the number of paperback books that were in Clay's closet. Some were about the Beatles, some about the Olympics, but most of them were Peanuts by Charles Shultz. You could open Clay's closet and see them. Not many clothes hung there. The shelves had books and the floor was stacked with books. He had started collecting them when we has just old enough to read. About Teenage-ville he took other interests. I would occasionally use them myself for sermon quotes from good ole' Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the gang. Some times, after he left for college, I'd just open his closet and breath deeply. It gave forth a musty, gluey, kinda non-sugary sweet smell. To me it was the aroma of a brown eyed boy saving quarters, going to Half Price Books on Northwest Hwy in Dallas to buy books and reading them in the back of the van or on his bed.

I remember being hit by it when I stepped out of the shower. Out the bathroom door to the left, down the hall with another left and right into nirvana in the kitchen. It was Pam baking an apple pie. The whole house had been enveloped with the scent of buttery crust, cinnamon and sugar poured over our neighbor's fresh picked apples. The pie would never greet my lips with a kiss. It was, alas for another but I was okay with that. I think I had already had the best part.

There are sights that can stop us dead in our tracks. There are people for whom we will go out of our way to feel their touch. There are sounds we are trained to listen for from voices of loved ones, the nursery, the phones, and the ubiquitous electronic devices. So ever present are these that they are easier to miss but the smells, oh, the smell will get us every time. They sneak up from behind like a prankster friend ready to jump us. Aroma's can have such a strong link to our souls that heart rates can change, blood pressure can fluctuate, and real feelings are elicited from just the memories that certain smells evoke. One man can walk into a mechanic shop and be taken back to the childhood he loved by the smell of gas and grease. Another can smell the same and grow ill thinking of the pain his father endured from working too hard, too long as the only mechanic in a busy service station.

Some aromas attract and some repel but few are totally neutral for all people. Maybe that's what Paul had in mind in II Corinthians 2:14-16: But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and to those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

Imagine that, the fragrance of His knowledge, the aroma of Christ himself! The church is that lingering fragrance of love lost that can be regained. The church is that unmistakable aroma of Someone you love, Someone you miss, Someone you need. The church, you, are that whiff on the Wind of the Spirit that reminds and beckons the lonely, the sad, the hurting, the tired, the longing, the lost to remember where home really is.

Breathe deep, O world, and may the fragrance you find in the church, be the sweet smell of Life.