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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REFLECTIONS…………………………………EQUALITY

Gary Coker

As I sat and watched the NCAA basketball games I could not help but notice emblazed on the side line was the word “Equality”. I think I know the definition of equality but fail to understand why the word was on the sidelines of a basketball court nor the implications. As I watched the basketball game it was evident that equality does not mean equal distribution. If it did the 10 players on the court would have been equally distributed between ‘white’ players and people of color. Not so, there was only one white player on the court. I can assure you I will not notify Nick Sabin, Alabama football coach, that the team’s offensive line must have equality of race. So, I can dismiss equality as it applies to sports. In sports, performance is the main criteria. What a novel idea. Isn’t that the principle for democracy?

Equally fascinating, as travelers boarded a United Airlines flight, the passenger asked the airline attendant, “did the pilot get his/her position due to gender, color of skin or for being the best applicant for the job”. “WOW! Did he say that?” I immediately had a flash back to the early 1970’s when I was tasked with the job of recruiting new teachers for a state school in Tennessee, and the Superintendent told me our next applicant had to be a person of color—not the most qualified, mind you, but a person of color. At the same time as this employment practice was widely prevalent, SAT and ACT college entrance scores were set at a different level, lower, to allow more diversity in college admissions. This lower score did not apply to Caucasians or people of Asian descent.

Here we are in 2021 and the same issues with which we were previously confronted are before us again. However, this time around equality has expanded. Sexuality is now front and center, and the definition of equality includes gender identity allowing biological males, who identify as female, access to locker rooms, bathrooms and showers. As of this writing, I have not heard or read of any females trying to go inside showers or locker rooms designated for men or boys. If these changes were not enough, EQUALITY now defines what we teach our children as well as the freedom to live out our religious beliefs in society.

The Equality Act before Congress is despicable. Instead of equality it would forever tip the scales of justice against the Judeo-Christian beliefs that have undergirded our nation for centuries. The legislation opens the flood gates to apply federal civil right laws to public schools and church-based ministries including Christian schools and colleges. Can you imagine the impact of a mandated curriculum requiring first, second and third graders to choose to be a boy or a girl, or neither? Can you imagine ‘genderless’ restrooms in public schools. Women’s sports would be devastated. Our society would go over a moral cliff. Every Christian’s understanding of marriage and sexuality will be eradicated.

Beware!!! The pressure to pivot will undoubtedly come. The process will be slow and gradual and will eat away at the moral fiber of who you are. It will be easy to remain silent.

Be prepared!! Be sure you know your beliefs. You are about to be challenged unlike never before. You must decide where you stand. Joshua:24:15

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Reflections…………………………………………………………………Spring

For behold, the winter is past: the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on earth, the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom, they give forth fragrance. ………………………….. Song of Solomon: 2:11-13

The writer of the Song of Solomon makes reference to the transformation that occurs between winter and spring. I would take the passage a step forward and use the symbolism to apply to life in general. There is a transformation that has to occur as we merge from those circumstances that I refer to as the ‘Winter of Life’. As I see it:……”While in the ‘Winter of Life’ I discovered deep inside of me there was a summer”. Whether we speak from a literal transformation of ‘Winter to Spring’, the impact and behavior is the same.

The cold, gray of winter is behind and replaced by blue skies, warm days, bouquets of flowers, yards sprouting life, and trees clothed in green filled with the colors of singing birds.’ Let’s all look at Spring as new life. A new start and renewed optimism.

lf I knew the world would end tomorrow I would still plant my apple tree’

Let’s bloom where we are planted! cheers………………………………………Gary

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Reflections………………………………………………..Naia

Gary Coker

I sat at the kitchen table aware something was happening to my body. June, my wife, became equally aware that something out of the ordinary was happening. My speech had become disjointed and I was unable to talk coherently about the events surrounding me. June immediately noticed something was not right and got me in the car and rushed me to the hospital emergency room whereupon the attending ER physician noticed indications of a stroke and immediately began to administer a “clot-busting” medication, intravenously, designed to dissolve blood clots.

With a great deal of urgency, a decision was made to take me immediately to Nashville and the NeuroCare Unit of Tri-Star Centennial Medical Center. The two hour trip by ambulance was surrounded by flashing lights and sirens as we made our way to the hospital’s emergency room. The room was filled with neurosurgeons and nurses as the team of physicians planned their strategies to address the medical emergency. in the corner of this room, filled with some of the most respected physicians imaginable stood a small girl with her back against the wall. “Mr. Gary, you are going to be okay….”I heard her whisper. I very distinctly remembered tears beginning to flow from my eyes.

In retrospect, I ask myself, “who was this young girl with the ‘olive’ skin tone and the peasant-like appearance. The overwhelming mystery was the fact she addressed me by my middle name ‘Gary’. My first name is Dan, and all the attending staff, as well as all medical records record me as ‘Dan’.

After days of intensive medical treatment, I have been diagnosed as having survived multiple strokes originating in the brain. Upon my dismissal, I asked the staff to locate Naia and let me meet her. Small of stature with a very meek appearance, Naia worked as part of the housekeeping staff. When I asked how she knew my name was ‘Gary’, her only response was, “I just knew”. Her closing comment was “Mr. Gary, I have been praying for you”.

There are moments in all of our lives when something happens to open our eyes or deepen our normal sense of perception, that, if we allow them, they will change our lives forever. Sometimes momentary experiences will carry us for years, if not for the rest of our lives. The Incarnate Lord is present in this world and wants us to meet with Him. The Christ is not in books or history. He is the living Lord, and we will meet Him on our travels often in the most unexpected of disguises.

Grace…………………………………………..Gary

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Reflections……………………………………………………Behavior Management

                                                                                      Gary Coker

It was a cool Friday night in this rural Georgia town, and the local high school basketball team was playing their cross-county rival in a hotly contested game.  The first game between these rivals had been won by a single point by the rival team.  The game was being played before a sold-out crowd, everyone breathing and screaming and pushing the hometown “redskins.” With 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied I committed my fifth foul and had to leave the game. My opponent made both foul shots.

Over twenty fouls are committed in an average high school basketball game.  Fouls that break the rules of the game are called ‘personal’ fouls.  Each player is awarded five personal fouls.  Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’. 

Once a personal foul is called, the referee points at the player committing the foul calling out his number.  The player acknowledges the foul by holding his hand up.  The referee looks at the scorer’s table and gives the player’s number.  The announcer announces the player and the foul. The opposition team gets a free foul shot.   Five fouls disqualify the player from any further play in that game.

Once in a while, referees deem a foul sufficiently violent or dangerous to be called ‘flagrant’.  A flagrant foul receives a severe reprimand from the referee with the opposing team getting two foul shots and possession of the ball. A second flagrant foul disqualifies the player from any further play.

This process is a classic example of behavior management.  The player, child or person, receives immediate feedback as to the ‘foul’ with a clear identification of what the foul involved. A warning is given that future fouls will result in some form of discipline or eventual removal from the game, i.e., time out, loss of privileges, etc.  Level two, a flagrant foul, is very serious in nature and usually involves breaking rules that have been predetermined as ‘not acceptable”. Fouls, i.e., behavior, in this area receive an immediate reprimand with clear understanding the behavior is unacceptable by removing the person (child) from the immediate activity.  As with the basketball player who understands what constitutes a foul, the child or adult has been made aware of the behavior and consequences in advance through the normal instructional process associated with the game or in life.

The game referenced in the opening paragraph was lost by a close margin of two points.   The following day, Saturday, I left my job at the local grocery store, Fred Hale’s, and walked across the street to the local drug store where I was greeted by Kent Studdard. “Hey, Coker, how about a cherry coke….my treat”.  After getting the coke and having a good discussion with Kent, I sat at a small table at the front of the drug store where Roy Malcom, Mayor and Pharmacist, came and sat with me and offered  words of encouragement .

We lost the basketball game but won in the game of life.

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