Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Who I Am?

I go into a country where I don't have citizenship...

I do work no one in that country really is doing or wants to do....

Sometimes I have temporary documentation to do some types of work, but I do other kinds mostly...

Sometimes I have no documentation but sneak in....

I don't get paid a lot, and what I do get paid I send to family back in my home country...

I try to blend into the background as much as possible and let citizens of the country I'm in arrange transportation, medicine, and sometimes even shopping for me...

I try to do my work as inconspicuously as possible but my accent, skin color, religion and culture are very different than those around me...

I bring contraband into the country....

Many government officials want me gone and would imprison me or at the least deport me if they found out what I was up to....

I am human. I have needs. I have fears here. I miss my family.  I have wants, desires and dreams.

In country, I am an illegal, an alien, and in a very strict sense, a lawbreaker.

Who I am? I am a missionary. Your church funds me. You give money to me through your church.
So that makes it okay, right?


"Judge not, lest you be judged."  Jesus said that. Are our problems political? Then they need a political solution. Are our problems economic? Then they need an economic solution. Are the problems we face about culture, race, or religion? Are the problems arising from a spiritual vacuum where we have forgotten God and thus forgotten how to be human because we don't tie humanity to the image of God?

So tell me, what does it mean to be human, made in God's  image, to everyone not in your family, church, or political party?

Think before you answer.

Every time,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kept From Singing?

Circumstances, which will be another article sometime, caused me to look up a song this week. An old friend, a troubadour, who had passed away a few years ago used to sing it when he toured. I had occasion to hear the song on satellite tv and it reminded me of him. He sang a solid, faith-based, Jesus following version of it. The one I heard on the satellite had changed the words somewhat to make sure God was left out lest anyone be offended. The song has stayed with me all week as I sang it, or at least the parts I could remember.

Then the tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma.

Then I remembered the words of the song again. Read them yourselves, pay close attention to the second  and third verses, though all speak volumes.

                 How Can I Keep From Singing
                                    Robert Lowry
                                     circa @ 1869
My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho' far off hymn that hails a new creation;
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing;
 It finds an echo in my soul---How can I keep from singing?
What though my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night He giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord over heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

 I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin, I see the blue above it;
 And day by day this pathway smooths, since I have learned to love it.
 The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing;
 All things are mine since I am his---How can I keep from singing?  

God is not mad at Moore. His heart breaks this day for human pain and loss. It does every day. I know indirectly some of the faith history of Moore. It is home (or very close) to some huge churches from several different denominations.  They will help their family, friends and  neighbors, loving them through this tragedy.
Many in Moore, especially the parents of children lost cannot sing today, maybe not for a long time--if ever.

Till the new creation is the present reality; till the clouds grow thin; till the peace of Christ makes all hearts fresh---  we will sing for them.                                                                                                                                          


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Little Death

                                               A Little Death

The world will little note and no one outside of family will long remember but something changed last week. It wasn't catastrophic, horrendous, just sad, just a little death. But even the little ones must be grieved.

By any measure seventy-one years is a long time. My father, Lee, turned 88 the last week of April. The first week of May he sold off the last of his cattle. It signaled an end of an era, he was the last of a long line of Cosby's who farmed and ranched. There are probably other distant cousins in and around Milam County or back south in Tennessee and Alabama, but Lee's, V.C.'s, and Thomas' branch of the tree has no farming or ranching with it now. My granddad, V. C. (Virgil Carter) moved his wife and nine sons from Rosebud to Milford about 1941. They rented a farm and set about living off cotton, maize, corn, a garden, chickens and a few head of cattle. Typical for the day and times. My dad was connected to that rented farm from 1941 to 2013. He helped granddaddy farm it and rented it himself when granddad got too old to farm it. It was sold a few times and was divided up but the owners always kept Dad to manage what was left of it. He quit crop farming about seven years ago but he kept a few head of cattle on the pasture. But it was time. Old tractors to maintain for mowing and hay hauling were costly to keep up. Old pick-ups crawling over ruts that passed for roads won't last forever.  Old legs that used to hold up 230 lbs on a 6'4'' frame and  pin 800 lbs cows against a corral fence to vaccinate them were a bit unsteady on uneven ground now supporting only 185 lbs. Seventy-one years is a long time. It passed too quickly. A direct connection to the land becomes an indirect one and in time even that is broken. A part of Dad died last week and a part of me died too when he told me. Were I wealthy I would have just bought the place just to keep us connected to it. But no Cosby will turn a plow this season. No "he-yaw" called out to drive a cow or calf in the right direction. Just memories, good, hard, lasting memories.

Time and decay bring these "little deaths" to us almost from birth. We die a little at the first bleeding cut our child receives then brace ourselves for more. He changes from a baby to a toddler to a little boy to a young man. This happens in about three days and we wonder how it got away from us. Innocence dies a little each day, hope for everything turning out just right takes a beating in the living of life. We see the death of a loved one, a serious illness, a divorce, a financial struggle and a never ending string of things we do for the last time. The last time you visited Uncle___; the last time you went fishing with _____; the last Thanksgiving with all the family; the last time ....  Life becomes filled with last things, some good, some bad, some sad but all "little deaths" of what once was and what will never be again.

When you live long enough you experience way too many ''little deaths" and the list of last things grows longer than the list of "I'm going to.." How do you keep going? When meaningful, fulfilling things die around you or they are taken from you, what do you do? I'll not try to answer for you. I can only tell you what I did.

I grieved the loss. I remembered and smiled. I remembered and cried. I grieved.

I remembered the Promises. The places and people in our lives give way to time. Time picks them off one by one: the joys, the pleasures, the things we did, the experiences and people of our lives. But the good Lord made promises and they weren't mainly about this world. The Promises of Life: eternal, abundant, joyful where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order with its little deaths, last things, last times, and death has passed away.There's the Promise of a special place. The old King James bible calls it a mansion in John 14. The Greek meaning is dwelling place, room. In God's promise there is a place, prepared, special that is ours. Neither sales or the passing of time nor the little deaths will take it away. It's the beautiful and ironic language of Revelation 21:4 that promises death itself will pass away.

And I did and will do one more thing.  I will tell the stories of growing up on a farm to my boys and grandchildren. I will tell of adventures on the creek; chopping and hauling cotton; watching mom's strength of mind and practicality and dad's strength of body and relentless (Mom says stubborn) battle against the land he loved, with nature all the time trying to reclaim its fields. With droughts, floods, boll weevils, and 46 cent cotton, Dad lost a few of those battles. The land, nature, and time lost many more battles for 71 years. They will win the last battles. But they will lose the war for a couple of reasons. The Promise of God the Son guarantees it. The memories of children, grandchildren, the history that shaped us and the stories we share will also see to it.

Standing on the promises,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Evil Generation Seeks a Sign

I think I know what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 12 and Luke 11  when He taught about a wicked generation seeking miraculous signs. It was the "what have you done for me lately" crowd. The Presence of the most high God in their midst was not enough. Proof, temporal relief and amazing demonstrations of power were required to please their discontented hearts. Their hearts couldn't be dented at that point with the holiness and righteousness of God walking with them. Just give us more fish sandwiches and zap the Romans.

Having said that, Jesus didn't have use of digital camera's and cell phones. I wouldn't be surprised if He made use of the technology to advance His Kingdom. I thought with all the bad, tough news people have had to deal with on personal, national and international levels that I'd share a couple of signs that brought smiles to my face and questions to my mind. These were taken on a recent trip to the metroplex.

Hopefully you can enlarge or zoom to read the whole sign. Sadly, it probably generated a little business. I hate their exploitative industry but you have to admit to their creativity. And no, I will not tell you where it is. In fact, hand in the bulletins when you finish with them Sunday!

This second one made me shake my head and made me a little sad at first. "Have we really come to this?'' I asked myself.  On the other hand....  Is a drive thru prayer better than none? Is this a way to attract the "get God quick" crowd and then teach a better way?  Do you pray with a  person, through a speaker, behind a glass? Do you just drop off a request and drive on?

 Prayer is not a quick, drive-in fix but a long, deepening relationship.  It's not just getting an answer but discovering Jesus is there with you in the troubles. It's not asking and receiving what you want but finding in Christ you have all you need. It is about applying His strength to our spiritual battles. And yet, often our  loving Father does answer our prayers in positive, affirming ways. If we are too busy to spend time with Jesus in prayer to discover all these and more, well, then we are indeed too busy. Can you learn all that and the thousand other things prayer teaches with a drive in prayer service? I don't know. I know we can make prayer harder than it is. Can you pour out your heart to God in a drive thru? I sure do while I'm driving. I know we can neglect prayer and its lessons pretty easily. Would a drive thru get you back on track and be a step toward sitting down with Jesus to talk and listen?  I don't know. What do you think?

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign,