Reflections…………………………..Prayer

As a young boy, church attendance was a part of life. Attendance at an Evangelical church was the only church and worship style I knew. I vividly remember the Wednesday night service or prayer meeting as it was called. Parishioners would speak their prayer requests to the general audience. Once this process concluded, large numbers of individuals would move toward the altar at the front of the church while others knelt in place at their seats. The church would become a beehive of voices lifting up prayer requests to their Heavenly Father. This would last fifteen to 30 minutes and then members began the process of returning to their seats for a closing hymn and, ‘yes’, a closing prayer. It was as a young boy of four or five years of age that I listened to these ‘prayer meetings’ praying for seven young men from my community who were in battle in the Pacific and Europe during World War II. It was this group of ‘prayer warriors’ who sang the Hallelujah chorus when all seven of these boys returned home safely after the war. This made an immeasurable impact and impression upon me. It was out of this foundation of prayer I entered college and my adult life.

While during my young adult life, I was not a prayer warrior but I never drifted away from church and attendance. I wrote myself notes, as well as notes in the margin of my Bible. Highlighting special verses and sermon notes peppered my Bible and spiral notebook that I carried to church with me. I cannot tell you who said what, only that it impressed me. An example of these notes is “Seek the favor of Him who dwells in the burning bush.” I found myself drawing parallels between Jesus’ culture and the culture I lived in. For example, Jesus hung out at wells, and wells were the natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells. The only difference is that we draw shots of espresso instead of drawing water out of a well.

I have had the privilege to be the Head, Executive Director or President of several large institutions. In all of these positions I made it a custom to begin leadership or general meetings with an invocation or prayer. In retrospect I raise the question, was this a perfunctory exercise. Was it really communing with God? Or was it a process? I often wonder what would have happened at the end of the invocation or prayer if I had announced “today we are going to continue our invocation/prayer and have a prayer meeting. I do firmly believe we need to pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us. I learned we don’t have to be afraid of the enemy’s attacks. They are counterproductive when we counteract them with prayer. The more opposition we experience the harder we have to pray and the harder we have to pray. the more miracles God does.

As the new year begins, I am committed to seeking the ‘Favor of Him Who dwells in the Burning Bush.’ I am going to seek a favorite place to pray, a place where I can get my mind focused. I will plead Psalm 84:1, 1 “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” In today’s language my prayers will be hyperlinked to His promises and will be double-clicked by earnest prayer.

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Reflections…………………The Other Side Of the Storm

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Reflections…………………The Other Side Of the Storm

“Your shoulder is worn out and needs to be replaced”. That was the comment of an orthopedic surgeon after examining my shoulder in February. Off to surgery I go on March 9th and got a completely new shoulder replacement. With my sling around my shoulder and neck, sleeping, what little there was, in my recliner, I said to myself, “I can do this.” I was thinking, in three months I will be good as new and I can return to all my normal activities. What I did not know on the third day after the surgery, four blood clots made their way to the central part of my brain resulting in a stroke of my body and brain.

After four days of intensive care with every conceivable type of test, scan, and body movement, I now not only had this ‘sling’ around my neck, but I also had haltering speech, faulty memory, and a gait that resulted in not being able to lift my leg properly. Home I go to my recliner, how exciting can it get.

Shortly the new shoulder decided not to stay in the new ‘cup’ the surgeon had placed in my shoulder. It dislocated. OOPS! Off we go to the emergency room to have the shoulder put back in place. Not only once did the shoulder dislocate but three times resulting in two more trips to the emergency room in Nashville. The trip to the hospital was 70 miles away from our home, and my faithful wife, who doesn’t like driving in heavy traffic on the expressway, became my chauffeur. After the third trip, the surgeon decided to remove and replace the old ‘new’ shoulder with another shoulder with a larger ‘socket’. By this time I knew all the physical therapists by their first name. But keep in mind, I have a faulty memory as a result of the stroke. Therefore, I was calling Susie- Mary and Mary- Susie. I became the comedy “act” of the physical therapy department, where I went twice weekly for 9 months.

Through all of this ordeal, my three sons, their wives, and 10 grandchildren became my cheering section. Daily and weekly telephone calls and visits. My wife has truly been my helpmate, guiding me through the storm helping me with memory issues, names of people, and every conceivable thing that came my way.

Next week I will graduate from physical therapy. I am able to walk a mile independently and daily I attend morning coffee with a group of senior “guys”. I have registered for my first golf tournament in Florida with over 120 participants in February.

This ordeal has caused seeds of blessings to spring to life. What amazing overwhelming, incredible grace.

Lord, help me recognize the evidence of Your grace in my

Life. Thank you that you have never given me what I

deserve. Instead, you have showered me with your

incredible protection, kindness, and love. Even though

my body is a little guarded, and I am a wee bit warped,

help me keep marching in the sunshine so I might

produce a harvest of fruitfulness for You.

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REFLECTIONS………………………Critical Race Theory

Re-blog by request.

dgcoker

Monroe arrived around 7:30 each morning with responsibilities to the farm animals and preparation for the day. I usually arrived around 8:30 when the dew had begun to dry off the grass. My responsibility was a five-acre yard with several flower beds surrounded by trees and outdoor stone benches. The grass cutting usually took the major portion of three days. There was no riding mower or weed eater. Everything was done by hand.

Emma, Monroe’s wife, was the housekeeper for two homes owned by the McGarity’s. Emma made the world’s best lemonade and Monroe and I on more than one occasion smacked our lips and praised her for her talent. Monroe was a man of color – black and African American were not terms used during this era. I am Caucasian or white. Monroe and I worked, laughed, joked and shared life’s joys and sorrows together. To my knowledge we…

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Reflections…………………. Say it is not so?

My immediate reaction was, “you are kidding me?’ Say it is not so. The Biden administration

has issued a mandate forcing colleges and universities to open their dorms, bathrooms, and showers to members of the opposite sex. This is blatantly unconstitutional unless you believe no one should be discriminated against for their sexual gender. But now, the Biden administration is trying to FORCE colleges to violate their religious beliefs and allow men and women to share dorm rooms …..and even showers.

The directive applies to all colleges where any student can apply—even religious colleges that turn down every cent of federal money. That means there is no way out.

In nearly eight months President Biden has spared no effort in attempting to insert a radical agender and identity ideology into federal policy even if that means disregarding religious freedom—and common sense.

Most colleges with a faith-based philosophy believe sex is unchangeable and operate their dorms accordingly. This is the straw that breaks my back. The government and The President of the United States have waded into the deep end of the pool where this mandate does not belong. You are not going to tell me the government has a right to tell me/us that we can’t honor our deeply held biblical convictions.

It’s time for believers everywhere to send a clear message to the Biden administration. We will not stand by and watch as you trod on our religious freedom…I hope you will join with me and stand strongly on this mandate/philosophy. The ramification for us and all of America is destructive to our way of life and our God-given philosophy/theology…

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Reflections……………………..People of the Cross……………………………………………………dgcoker

The large jet airplane piloted by Samaritan Purse pilots lifted off the runway at Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Aboard the fully loaded plane were a group of United States citizens who had spent the last several days, months, and years introducing and presenting their faith in Jesus Christ to the local citizens. They were now in danger of endless attacks for their faith. Beheading was a common course of action. Each and everyone was identified by the local citizens as: “people of the cross” The local Taliban regime referred to this group as….”the followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” We must remember in this part of the world Christians live and often die at the hands of their neighbors as men and women who have lived under the glorious shadow of the Cross of their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is noteworthy here in America believers wear the symbol of the Cross around their necks. In Roman times the Cross was reserved as a heinous punishment for offenders of Roman law. It was a public spectacle meant to instill fear and dread to onlookers It was symbolic of a brutal execution with death often taking many hours—sometimes days. It was Jesus who turned this instrument of torture and shame into a symbol of life-changing victory

In the days to come, we must remember the American citizens who are still stranded and pray that our country will keep its pledge to leave no one behind. The Bible is very clear. Without the cross, there is no Christianity. It was the apostle Paul who preached the Gospel, the power and pardon of the Cross. I am delighted to be called a person of the Cross.

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Reflections……………………………………Unrecognizable

A few years back June and I were taking our older son to Canada where he was going for a new job in Calgary. At that time people moved freely back and forth across the border every day. But now it is closed and has been for over a year. Recently there was a 30-minute opportunity for people on one side to talk to their friends on the other . “Sad”. I don’t know how this happened, but it is just one indication that America has almost become unrecognizable from what it was not that long ago.

I am sure their is a better explanation than what I call the present situation– politized law. Functioning societies for centuries have borders. America has no southern border and no plans to get one. The official position of our government seems to be that any one of the seven billion persons on this planet has a right to come and stay in the U.S. for three years, until his or her assigned court date comes up. As the number of people with pending cases continues to grow, that three years will extend out to five or seven or 15 years. At that time we will have seven billion new people …………………………go figure.

If that is not enough, I am still trying to figure out what ‘wokeness’ means. Upon inquiry I was told part of this new philosophy involves the abolition of biological sex. I cannot believe the medical profession is in the process of physically mutilating small children in the name of changing the gender of young boys and girls. Think about this. Your daughter has been training since she was a little girl to run in school sports. Now at 17 she is in the state high school track championships and you are forbidden even to notice that she’s competing against a woman who is 6’2″ with a touch of five ‘o’clock shadow on her face and the most muscular bosom you’ve ever seen. Has America gone bonkers?……..and on top of that, transgender restrooms in schools are still a topic. I can assure you none of these topics are on the agenda of the Chinese Government……our greatest adversary.

I could continue to elaborate my frustrations. I would like for everyone to notice what president Macron of France recently did. It is a lesson for not only government officials but for each of us individually. Prime Minister Macron made a stand and announced that no French statue would be taken down and not a single French street name would be changed, because they are all part of French history, And “Bingo”, the statue toppling and street-name changing in France went away. Why can’t we show that kind of strength? My point to American politicians and to the average person on the street, unless we are prepared to surrender everything, don’t surrender anything. Our forefathers came to America with a plan for her to become a “Shining City on a Hill”. Are we instead becoming Rome where Americans are fiddling while our beloved country is burning. If we continue to surrender we will become UNRECOGNIZABLE.

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Reflections…………………………………..Let Kids Play

“Gary, come inside it’s getting dark”. “just a few more minutes, mama”. “Tell Jackie to start home, his mother is expecting him soon”.

I recently read a report from two Long Island University Researchers, Lynn Cohen and Heather Parrott discussing their research on students enrolled in Kindergarten through the fifth grade. Their conclusion of this lengthy research project was; ‘when kids get a chance to play, they are refreshed, better focused, more on task and less disruptive at school’. This does not really surprise me . Aren’t we adults more on task and refreshed when we joke with our co-workers or engage in playful activities and discussion or just visit.

Kids who lack opportunities to play don’t get the feedback that helps them learn how to make friends. The lack of free time for children to play results in children who have a difficult time interacting with other children.

School systems have exchanged ‘recess’ for organized physical education. While Coronavirus has thrown all this up in the air, parents and educators who are worried about ‘lost learning time’ may feel that only more desk time makes sense when children return to school. However, the most crucial lessons that children learn this coming year may be those they learn in ‘play’, i.e., how to make something happen, how to solve problems, and, especially, how to make friends. Once you have friends, you’re going to have a better life at school and at home. School becomes a place where someone you like also likes you. That’s not just pleasant, especially after the social isolation of the pandemic… It’s crucial.

Every school should have some free time where children of all ages, especially kindergarten through grade five get free time in the school yard or gym to ‘play’. Yes, some adults need to be present, but they do not need to organize students’ games or resolve their arguments. Immediately after school is a great time to organize a play club

When your child arrives home after school and gets through with that snack or glass of milk, place all notepads, game books and other electronic devices on the kitchen table and tell him/her to go outside and play. If possible, occasionally invite a friend home after school or invite a neighbor to visit during this after-school time. It’s important to Let Children Play.

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REFLECTIONS………………………Critical Race Theory

Monroe arrived around 7:30 each morning with responsibilities to the farm animals and preparation for the day. I usually arrived around 8:30 when the dew had begun to dry off the grass. My responsibility was a five-acre yard with several flower beds surrounded by trees and outdoor stone benches. The grass cutting usually took the major portion of three days. There was no riding mower or weed eater. Everything was done by hand.

Emma, Monroe’s wife, was the housekeeper for two homes owned by the McGarity’s. Emma made the world’s best lemonade and Monroe and I on more than one occasion smacked our lips and praised her for her talent. Monroe was a man of color – black and African American were not terms used during this era. I am Caucasian or white. Monroe and I worked, laughed, joked and shared life’s joys and sorrows together. To my knowledge we never had a cross word with each other.

If Monroe and I were in school today we would be forced to study Critical Race Theory (CRT). This lockness monster is an overriding controversial issue that is festering within the political minds of officials who want to implement it in our schools with our children before clear knowledge of what it is they are trying to do. On the surface it appears as an extraordinary, divisive idea that is composed of two groups….black victims and whiter oppressors.

Systemic racism, as correctly understood was exemplified by segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It was the wholesale murder of over 6 million Jews by the Nazis in Germany. Systemic racism is NOT a relatively small number of isolated, unrelated incidences over a period of many years. Ask any young person, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers, or who have ever suffered the occasional injustice in school, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks (people of color)in this country since the Civil Rights reforms of the 1960’s. A period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat misrepresentation of our country’s history and adds no understanding to any of today’s societal issues. In fact, let it be noted that longstanding and widespread policies such as Affirmative Action and the promotion of minorities point in precisely the opposite direction. There is more than adequate evidence that America is Not a racist country. There is more than adequate evidence that racism is not the problem but rather a lack of moral character. History is clear, our forefathers came to America and established colonies with a platform of strong character development based upon Judeo-Christian values. You only have to take a walk through our Capital city of Washington, DC to note the reference to Godly principles carved in buildings as a common theme. It is the loss of individual and collective character within our elected officials and throughout the population, not racism, causing the ills we face.

Having said the aforementioned, I am angered at the prospect of school systems requiring young people to sit through lectures and presentations where police officers are described as ‘murderers’ without any context. Such comments are insulting. I recently read the lecture from Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University which included the comment, “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage”

The current direction of higher education and CRT teaching is pitting people of color (blacks) and whites against each other and causing needless divisiveness. CRT is destructive to our school systems and the cohesion and morale of our young people. IT WILL CAUSE IRREPARABLE HARM TO UNITY.

If your school system is or has implemented any form of Critical Race Theory as part of the school curriculum, I encourage you to become informed of this vital issue as quickly as possible and be sure classes in the humanities and social sciences provide lesson of instruction dedicated to teaching the history and writings of ALL people. And in the voice of Martin Luther King……”little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. “

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Reflections…………………………………….Footprints

The two of us, my lifelong friend and myself, got in the car on a Saturday morning with no destination in mind. We were nostalgic and wanted to visit yesteryear.   Where should we start?  Immediately we realized we were brought together by parents who believed in living a Holy life with the church the center of our early years.  It wasn’t just our lives, practically everyone we knew lived lives around activities at the church or in some way related to the church. This was the footprint of our early years.

It was quite interesting as we rode together on the road to nowhere we began to reminisce of those early days with comparisons to today.  We hear reports of increasing alienation in America.  People are separated from their families by thousands of miles.  We no longer pass family histories and  real traditions from generation to generation.  Yet we yearn for a sense of connection as never before. 

My friend and I both agreed that much of the needs expressed by today’s generation are the same as we had  growing up.  We laughed when we were talking about our first date with a girl was sitting in church.  Our first ‘real date” occurred after Sunday night services and “piling” in a car with other couples to go to the ‘tastee freeze”. My friend and I spent the day looking at “footprints” of our lives.  We concluded the day sitting in the town square in the town of Covington, Georgia.  This was a familiar area for the two of us.  As we sat and observed the hustle and bustle of people going into the various restaurants, deli’s, ice cream shops, we noticed two young girls were holding hands with an elderly couple praying together. With tears in our hearts we smiled………………………………………..

As I look at the wealth of information from travels, personal articles, books, presentations and materials, I see footprints from my life. Your life will leave a trail of stories and memories in your wake. Our desire should be that we will be remembered, not for who we were or what we did, but for Whom we lived.

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