Reflections…………………………….Start Anew

dgcoker

Reflections………………………………………..Start Anew

Pastor Patricia Ferris tells the story when she was in Mexico with her husband on New Year’s Eve they found themselves in the middle of something they didn’t understand.  It was in the evening, not yet midnight, 20160614_092005 (2)and the central square was full of people, lights, children, old people, and families.  What was interesting was there were tables full of old clay plates.  People were buying the plates and then standing back and throwing them full force against one wall of the great Cathedral in the community square, smashing the plates to smithereens.

According to Mrs. Ferris it was loud, raucous and exciting.  Only later did she learn the tradition grew out of a deep human need to throw out the old, to start the new year free of old resentments, old fears, old prejudices, and old sins.  “Throw them out.” Let them smash against the strong fortress…

View original post 247 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections……………………..Christmas

According to Facebook the attached blog has been seen and ‘liked’ by more readers than any other blog. I repost and thank you for following my blogs and experiences of life. Merry Christmas

dgcoker

20160614_092005 (2)

Merging from Thanksgiving holiday with an expanded waist line and a heart full of gratitude, I look toward the Christmas Holidays with excitement. Several years ago I found that I was succumbing to the busyness of purchasing presents, travel, participating in Christmas pageants and parties, all of which crowded out the quiet anticipation of the season. Too many Christmas mornings I’ve realized that while my presents were wrapped, my heart was completely unprepared to truly take in the Gift. Therefore, I established a strategic plan (can you imagine a strategic plan for Christmas, remember God had one), well I did. For me, without a plan I have tendencies to let things fall through the cracks.

To you the reader, you must keep in mind June and I have Christmas a week prior to the actual date in order for our family (three sons, three daughter-in-laws and nine grandchildren) to spend…

View original post 936 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ramblins…………………………………..Remember the Future

Ramblins………………………………………………….Remember the Future

Living on a college campus has many benefits. There is never a time when some activity, athletic event, performing art, etc. is not occurring. Coupled with the array of activities is also the diversity of ideology, opinions, culture and sometimes personal and political persuasions.
In one of my most recent meetings the discussion of the Democratic debate was front and center, more specifically, when the narrator asked the question, “how many of you would approve late term abortions?” The response was unanimously affirmative.
My ears perked as I remembered my classes in Human Growth and Anatomy where I had memorized the various stages of development for the unborn child. There is ample evidence from research indicating the fetus recognizing human voices, responding to music, and recoiling from any form of pain. There is no question the unborn child has self-awareness and environmental interaction while in utero.
It seems there is a point in our earliest fetal development (or before) when God begins equipping and gifting humans with whatever it is they will need to become the fullest expression of their unique selves.
I had a great deal of difficulty with my fellow ‘coffee drinkers’ wanting to support abortion. I had to wrap my arms around the concept that when God created us, He did the most shocking thing. He gave us the freedom to decide our own destiny. Think about the implications of that truth for a moment. God created us to be free moral agents.
I left the group with a challenge for a later discussion; “Christians do not kill babies.” Therefore…………………………………..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections…………………..Jersey School

Dr. Gary Coker

 

 

Since seeing the burning of the Jersey School building, I have had ‘flashbacks” of yesteryear and of classmates and friends who attended school with me. They are very fond memories

In school we studied the basic classes of English, History, Arithmetic and Science. All teachers were addressed by their first name with a ‘Miz’ in front of it. ‘Miz’ Lessie, ‘Miz’ Ethlene, etc. Students came from rural areas and would be considered out-of-date by today’s standards. The majority of the students could remember ‘outhouses’ most from firsthand experience. We certainly can remember the days of telephone party-lines and 25 cent gasoline and milk and ice being delivered to our house. ‘Fall break’ was not a trip to the beach but rather a trip to the fields to help with harvest, especially cotton. If you were lucky enough and worked hard you could earn money to go to the county fair in Monroe.

There are a few things I would like to remind the current generation about the youth of Jersey and other similar schools . Unfortunately, we are often labeled old ‘fogies’ or country ‘bumpkins.’ We worked hard and worshiped one God. We won World War II, we fought in the Korean War and Viet Nam. We can quote the pledge of Allegiance and know where to put our hand while doing it. We didn’t fight for the “Socialist” States of America we fought for the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’

By the end of the second grade we knew the words to the “Star Spangled Banner,” ‘America,’ and ‘America the Beautiful’. We have lived what many of today’s youth have only read in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize for America. It is noteworthy, if it were not for young men and women like those in Jersey we would all be speaking German today.

It was the basic skills that we were taught that led America into the technological age. We were not bystanders, we were active, hardworking, patriots. A common thread that wove itself in the halls of the school, in the classroom and on the playground was; respect, hard work, and responsibility.

So, as I viewed the fire that consumed my old School in that rural town of Jersey, Ga., a tear rolls down my cheek as I am reminded of the teachers who taught me and the lessons learned in that building that have lasted a lifetime and enabled me to pursue higher educational goals.

Gary Coker Ph.D.

Class of 1956

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Liquid Gold

 

The end of the Month of May came as local farmers had their crops planted and summer approached. Pastures were lush with green grass and the spirit in this small community was very high.
As June and July approached the temperatures hovered around 90 almost every day. Concern began to control the daily conversations with “how are your crops doing?” “I sure wish it would rain!” and a strange phenomenon began to happen as local milk cows “went dry.” When rain is plentiful, it’s an afterthought. During a drought, it’s the only thought.
At the beginning of August local water wells were dry and residents were having to go in search of water. A local spot, fondly known as ‘flat rock’, was a gathering place where grave concern with the lack of drinking water was the topic of the day. It had now been three full months without rain.
Crops had withered away. Harvest time approached and there were no crops to be harvested. Pastures stood brown and cattle had lost weight.
Local churches began to have special ‘prayer’ services where the topic of helping each other during this unusual time and praying for rain was front and center.
As a young boy it was my first time to experience a prayer vigil. Upon arrival, usually on a Wednesday night, the pastor or deacon would share concerns about the community and how families could assist other families having difficulty. After the general discussions several groups gathered in circles and began praying. Most of the prayer was done collectively without one individual leading the prayer. These circles would last ten, twenty minutes or more. Gradually the individuals concluded their prayer time and left. The prayers had been resolute yet humble, confidant yet meek, expectant yet unassuming.
On one particular night, at the conclusion of the prayer session, as we departed the church, flashes of light appeared in the sky. Some of the attendees were elated while others indicated the flashing was ‘heat’ lighting and had no bearing on rain.
However, the following day young children danced in the downpour like it was the first rainfall they’d ever seen. Parents threw back their heads opened their mouths, and caught raindrops. When it had not rain in more than three months raindrops were like liquid gold falling from the sky. It rained like a torrential downpour and gradually turned into a well-proportioned sun shower on a hot and humid August afternoon. It began to rain calmly, peacefully. A rain that didn’t just soak the skin; it soaked the spirit with faith.
It will always be remembered as the day. The day puddle jumping became an act of praise. It had been difficult to believe the day before the day. The day after the day, it was impossible not to believe.

Editor’s note. The blog is taken from a time in the early 1950’s in a rural area of Georgia known as Jersey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections………………………………………Prayer in School

 

Cross on the Campus of the University of the South

Historical documents indicate John Adams, American Statesman, Attorney, Founding Father and Second President of the United States conferred with George Washington, First President of the United States and inquired about having prayer in schools and how prayers should be conducted. George Washington’s reply was “this country was not founded by religionists but by Christians. Not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are talking about prayer to the Bible’s God.” “Prayer in our schools will be a unifying  process.” From that time forward prayer has been an integral part of school. (John Adams-Wikipedia)
In 1962 the supreme court ruled (Engle v Vidtale) it unlawful for schools to promote praying in public schools. I like what one student had to say about this ruling. “As long as we have tests, we will have prayer in school.” Nevertheless, what our Founding Fathers considered as a means to promote citizenship and virtuous living was considered unlawful.

As we look at the changes that have occurred since prayer was outlawed, can we say the conditions on our school campuses are better or worse? Can we say the moral fiber of our youth is better or worse? Can we say our children are less self-absorbed or more self-absorbed? Are reading and achievement scores better or worse? In other words, are our schools better off or worse off than they were in 1962? Regardless of how you answer these questions, our schools have lost a powerful tool for promoting citizenship, virtue, servanthood, and reverence:  Prayer.

During the period since the Supreme Court made the decision to eliminate prayer, we have seen our culture move in a direction of incivility characterized by rude words and behavior. The lack of civil behavior is threatening the greater good. Unequivocally, prayer leads to lives characterized by thankfulness and produces better people as well as better students.

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t post on social media: “Do you want prayer put back into schools?” The answer to that statement is an overwhelming YES, provided it is done in the same manner as what John Adams and George Washington envisioned. But that time has come and gone……………A pluralistic society embracing multiple religions, where classroom teachers worship an array of gods and in some cases, godlessness, is not a place where the majority of parents want a prayer lead by a teacher.

A saying in sports as well as in leadership goes like this…… “the ball is in your court…….” Prayer as we once knew it will not return to our public schools. We are a people of faith. America is a land of hope. Hope is a quality of the soul. It is a consistent characteristic of this country that we have always sought to rise above or move beyond the conditions that are given to us. Parents, grandparents, we have lived in a country where prayer has been the centerpiece of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The ball is in our court. Therefore, instead of your child”s teacher leading with prayer, the home and the parents must keep this vital part of our lives front and center.  You have prayer as a centerpiece of your household. Before the children go to school…have a prayer. Before that ballgame……..have a prayer. Before a meal……. have a prayer. All the places where the school use to provide opportunities for prayer you now step into the void. Without it we perish and our life and thoughts dissolve into a meaningless, unrelated rush of events………. Let’s Pray.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections……………………………………………Values

June and I arrived in Berlin, Ohio with anticipation of returning to a simpler form of life.

The new dress code is as follows, red suspenders and hat

The area and adjacent counties are home to a very large Amish community.  The country side has many working farms and is also the home of numerous industrial corporations operated and staffed by Amish individuals.  The most prominent and visible change to this idyllic community is noticed in the local restaurants and businesses where Amish girls are employed. (Most of the boys are working in the factories or on the farm) The girls wear dresses and their etiquette and politeness is refreshing.  Everything is in the natural order without artificial enhancements. This is equally true of the community where wholesomeness and order permeates both the town and the local countryside……..Behavior is learned therefore it can be taught.

 

Switch with me to a local high school in Nashville, Tennessee where during the last period of the day students are placed into teams with a senior class member serving as the leader of the team.  Their task is to clean the building in preparation for the following day of classes.  The school employs no housekeeping personnel.  After an athletic event the students can be seen picking up debris and other items and placing it into large trash cans.  A visitor to the school would be immediately impressed with the cleanliness and order of the campus.  Students take pride.  Behavior is learned therefore it can be taught.

 

Now switch with me to the nightly news which is highlighting the city of Baltimore where 2.5 Billion dollars have been spent in the last several years in an attempt to rehabilitate a population that has become dependent upon society.  A local councilman addresses the issue by placing the blame on 400 years of racism.  When interviewed, a   pastor indicates more federal funds are needed.  To add fuel to the fire, all of the problems have existed for years.  However, the reporter left no question the present conditions were the result of the President of the United States. A behavior that is positively reinforced will repeat itself.

 

Two outstanding football quarterbacks were recently in the news.  One for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of the football game.  The second for kneeling at the conclusion of a game to thank God for His blessings.  The first was awarded a one million dollar contract by the Nike Company.  The second did not receive any recognition.   A behavior that is positively reinforced will repeat itself.

 

Society, grandparents, parents…….and what will they be doing when they grow old.   They will be doing what we have taught them and what behaviors we have positively reinforced.  Above all remember………Values taught are free .

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reflections………………………………birthdays

It was a sultry July morning when Dr. John Geradine was summoned to come to the Coker household. Not an easy journey from the community of Jersey down the Social Circle highway. Albeit the doctor’s car did not like the dirt roads it had to travel. Nevertheless, he made it just as Magdalene (Maggie) was in the final stages of delivering the largest baby, 12.5 pounds, the doctor had ever delivered or seen.

The oldest of the family, John (Junior), was immediately summoned to begin his pre-ordained journey to tell relatives and friends that ‘baby’ Coker (a name not yet decided upon) had arrived. Fast of foot, even barefooted, Junior delivered the message across pastures and through backyards with the final stop at  Alcovy mountain. Thus began the journey that continues with the latest birthday.

I began writing articles and blogs in my middle twenties  when my picture showed me with lots of hair. Ten years later I had less hair and my complexion began to take on a ‘rugged’ look. And now here I am, an old ‘guy’, with jowls, crows feet at the corners of my eyes, and a modest “wattle” adorning my throat. Several years back I decided it was okay to get old and grey, and that process is well underway. I am looking forward to writing in the future. Maybe something like: ‘reflections………from the nursing home’ or ‘reflections………one foot in the grave.’ Or if I have gone home to Jesus, how about Reflections……How it ends.

Birthdays create trips down memory lane and memories light up the corners of my mind. Starting with the spring of life when innocence was filled with playmates, family events, and learning can it be that all was so simple then, …or has time rewritten every line. Even with time there are special ‘closets’ tucked away in the recesses of our minds where doors stay closed. However, on special days like birthdays, you reach for the key and unlock the door and rushing out are those memories……smiles we gave one another for the way we were……

Reflecting back over the years with the many people and circumstances that have marked the pages of time…. scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind…..I ask myself……If I had the chance to do it all again…..would we….could we.

Meanwhile, time marches on. What everyone exclaims is so true: Life is really short. We don’t have time to waste—-however long you may live, today is the only today you will ever have. When today is over, it will be over, and it will not come again. Don’t waste a moment of it wishing you were younger than you are, or that you looked like you use to look, or had done something other than what you did in life. Take whatever you have to work with and make today as sweet as you can make it. Nobody can do it for you, and nobody will. It is yours alone.

                                                                                           Gary

…..memories may be beautiful and yet……what’s too painful to remember………we simply choose to forget…….

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reflections……………………Mother’s Day

As I left the small rural town of my birth and formative years of elementary and secondary education I left a storehouse of memories. But one thought that stayed in my mind for years to come was, home was always where “Mama” was. My mind has lingered upon this concept and frequently I subconsciously say; “I want to go home.”

The writer Rudyard Kipling puts it this way.

If I were hanged on the highest hill, I know whose love would follow me still. Mother of mine. Mother of mine. If I were drowned in the deepest sea, I know whose tears would come down to me. Mother of mine, Mother of mine. If I were damned by body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole. Mother of mine, mother of mine.

There was an interesting story on CNN many years ago about a twenty-five year old man in San Francisco who was dying of aids.  Because of that his father had completely disowned him. His mother was dead. So there was nobody. The man looked like he could not weigh over a hundred pounds and had the look of death on his face. The reporter asked him how he was able to stand all of the pain, not only of death, but the pain of family rejection. He gave an interesting answer. He said I stand it by closing my eyes and imagining that I will awaken in the arms of my mother. I know that she will never leave my side.

It is appropriate that we single out a day in the year to recognize mothers, but when we really think about it, there ought not to be a day that goes by that we do not rise up and call our mother blessed. The highest tribute that we can give to our mothers is not to praise her, not to give her a gift, not to pay a visit, and not even simply to come to church on her day. The greatest tribute that we can give to our mother is to be the kind of person that she, and our Heavenly Father, want us to be. Amen.

Editor’s note:  For more writings go to dgcoker.com Reflections………Mama May 3, 2016

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections…………….Education 1993-2019

Special note: The following are excerpts taken from a speech given  to a group of educators preparing for the new school year in 1993. The content is as applicable in 2019 as it was in 1993.

Education in general has not been in good favor the past 25 years. This despite large amounts of money spent on public relations and marketing plans. As we look toward the future, what should be the characteristics of a Secondary School graduate?

First, we must look at what the year 2000 will bring.

  • A diversity of religion with each one growing faster than Christianity.

  • We will be able to flash the Encyclopedia Britannica across the ocean six times in a minute.

  • Families will become more disjointed.

How can we have an impact? Who will be our leaders? Who will be teaching our students? Who will sit in our legislature? Who will be our pastors? I will tell you who. It will be the students who sit in our classrooms today. So what will our leaders of the future need, and what should we as parents and educators need to be doing now?

SCHOOL IS THE HOME OF THE MIND! We have fallen victim to expecting too little and organizing around the lowest common denominator. Ask yourself, “what should a (fill in the blank) grader know?” At the current rate we will have to scramble to keep up with world standards. We are not competing against students in our local city or community. Our market place is Stockholm, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, to name only a few. As much as the diversity of our society has taken up ‘watch’ on our educational process, it is imperative that you as educators keep upper most in your minds that discipline, respect, reasonable authority are paramount to the educational process. The movement that places self-esteem in front of these principles of the heart has become misplaced.

We have to do better! Students must have highly developed basic skills. Students who think globally, master international standards of knowledge and skills will be the leaders of the future.  We must establish proficient levels of minimum skills—not just getting by—that are achievable by most students provided they work hard and long enough. Curriculum must emphasize the use of language. Students who read well, master vocabulary and become learners will inherit the earth. In your classrooms, the order of the day should be developing serious essay writing, grammar and spelling. The three R’s will be reading, reasoning and research with a fourth element of writing.  In the home the four R’s will be rules and regulations without relationships will lead to  rebellion.

Let me encourage you to be sure to have your students read and write something of substance. By the time students reach their final years of Secondary School we want them to read 15 to 20 books annually. Yes 15 to 20 and they should be books that stretch the mind.

We must spotlight global studies, world history, geography and foreign language. Our students need to be informed about other countries. How will our children be able to compete with people we know nothing about? It is our goal that by the time the existing kindergarten students graduate, they will be fluent in a second language. Language unlocks doors of commerce and diplomacy.

It is important that as educators and parents we expect a high level of work competence and help students develop ethical work habits while at the same time manage time and resources.

Our schools need to create a climate for learning that is natural, where lessons are  supported and there is time for reflection, inquiry, and debate. Everything has to be fun is a myth.

Godly principles and virtues of work, citizenship, honor, responsibility, trustworthiness and civility will become our responsibility. If we have full employment, great economic growth, if we have cities of gold, but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then we have failed.

I wish for you God’s richest blessings as you prepare society for the future by teaching the children of today.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments