Covid Setback – 1 minute read

virus-graphicWashington State’s county-by-county protocol for covid reopening specifies that more than five hospitalizations per 100,000 persons within a seven-day period sends a county back to Phase 2 shutdown. We’ve edged up to 5.7.

Kit and I, having recently enjoyed dining out and visiting museums, are disappointed. We’re reluctant to resume stringent precautions. But I think doing so is the right thing. A friend, Bill Hunt, sent us the following quote from Martin Luther during a sixteenth century plague. His words summerize what I consider to be my responsibility as a follower of Christ.

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I will fumigate, purify the air, administer medicine and take medicine. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order to not become contaminated, and thus perchance inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me. But, I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely. This is a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God.” Martin Luther

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New Neighbors – ½ minute read

Owls

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;”   Job 12:7

We have new neighbors. A pair of barred owls have claimed our yard and woods as their home. Informally known as the “hoot owl,” barred owls are quite vocal both day and night. Hearing an owl used to be considered bad luck even a harbinger of death. Bad luck and death are true for some creatures. Our owls hoot in celebration when they catch dinner. Otherwise, they hoot to designate territory, attract a mate, or apparently just for the joy of making noise.

The Bible says that wild creatures can teach us. “Teach us what?” you may ask. According to verse nine of Job 12, their lives indicate “the hand of the Lord.” I can see God in the uniqueness and wonder of His creatures. And I admire their God-given resourcefulness. Wildlife’s unpredictable independence adds variety and even humor to my life. Owls and other wild neighbors can be a gift of joy from God.  

Drew Coons  

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No Expiration Date – A Miracle?  1 minute read

 

Carotid with LabelsSix years ago, I suffered a serious stroke due to plaque blockage in both carotid arteries. Doctors gave me probability of four years without surgery and recommended immediate surgery to my left carotid. That surgery—which itself added significant risk—and care could extend my probability to ten years. But they warned that the right side, also with significant blockage, would not improve on its own, even with medication. Regular monitoring would determine when I needed additional surgery on the right carotid. After success of the first surgery, I accepted the hope of ten probable years with gratitude. I joked about 2025 as my expiration date.

A few weeks ago, I reported for my annual doppler scan. The vascular surgeon after reviewing the results said, “You look fine. I don’t need to see you again.”

 “You mean until next year?” I asked.

 “No, I mean you don’t need to come back, ever.”

 I reminded her about the right-side blockage.

“Well, both carotids are completely clear now. Chance of any difficulty in your lifetime is remote. You never have to come back.”

“Except for checkups?”

The doctor showed some frustration. “Occasionally these things happen. No more checkups. I never want to see you again!”  I left before she called security.

Immediately, I realized, No more expiration date! At least none due to my carotids.  I hope you’ve received such good news sometime in your lifetime.

Afterwards, being Drew, I wondered what had happened. Has God miraculously healed me? Do I have a God-given quirk of genetics that caused my body to correct itself? Did God-motivated change of eating and exercise habits make a difference?

I don’t have those answers. But I’m certain God was involved somehow. And I believe that God guided me to take the steps I could; the surgery, satin drugs to prevent further plaque buildup, plenty of exercise, and avoiding saturated fats. Maybe God wants to do miracles more often than we realize but expects us to do our part first. That includes preventative medicine.

Drew

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Our Library is Open – a 1 minute read and an offer

DSCN3004 (3)

Our Kitsap County, having strictly complied with Covid protocols based on new cases, is in Phase 3 of reopening safely. Libraries, museums, theaters, and restaurants are now open. Coincidently, spring has spung under cloudless blue skies. Rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs grow wild in profusion in western Washington. Reopening as spring blossoms seems appropriate.

Our winter was mild compared to the one most of you experienced. An “about normal” number of rainy days wasn’t much different than Arkansas. Still, we spent most of the winter quarantined and writing. Although having enjoyed writing it, we decided not to publish our seventh novel. Who wants to read math-fiction?  But we also wrote wholesome short stories designed for use in literary periodicals. Because publications want “First Rights” we cannot post the stories on our website. But we can allow individual reviewers to read and critique the stories.

Therefore, the  Coons’ library is open too. If you would like to review some—we think good—stories, we can provide them to you. Just ask us for stories you would review at kitndrew@comcast.net or kitanddrew@gmail.com. Please give us a little feedback after reading a story.

Village Magic (999 words) A fairytale village discovers real magic.

A Pet Owner’s Heaven (2,496 words) A man is reunited with deceased pets. He finds they can speak and have quirky personalities.

The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything  (3,002 words)  A teacher who bases his identity on knowledge learns that wisdom is more important.

The Hustlers (10,342 words) Aliens establish communication with Earth through quantum entanglement—a real principle of physics. The aliens call themselves Mentors but have ulterior motives.

Drew

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Scripture and Science – The Case for Evidence (part 3 of 3)

Honest Bible teachers will admit, “You can make the Bible say anything you want.” Churchmen sometimes inappropriately interpret verses to justify what they want to believe. Scientists likewise desire to believe their own ideas, but they have a system of looking at evidence to verify or deny those ideas. The great theologian Augustine compared secular truth to the valuable gold and silver the Israelites took out of pagan Egypt.1 He taught churchmen to appropriate God’s valuable truth from any source and use it understanding scripture. This would include evidence and science.

My first experience with faith and evidence came in engineering school. I studied a lot hoping that high grades would lead to the best job. Then I became a follower of Christ and got involved in Christian activities on campus. My involvement kept me from doing my homework before an important exam. As the professor distributed the tests, I was terrified. “God, please save me!” I prayed. To my joy, the questions were just the things I knew. When I got my graded paper back with an A, I thought, “This is wonderful. Now that I’m a Christian, I won’t need to study anymore.”

I went back to my Christian activities. At the next exam, I wasn’t worried. Matthew 21:22 promised, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” I remember praying, “Okay Lord, I’m believing and asking.” Opening that exam, I learned that God is not a genie. Evidence showed that my biblical interpretation, influenced by self-interest, wasn’t accurate. Although the Holy Spirit can help us, God expects Christians to do our homework. 1Thessalonians 5:21 specifically related to wisdom from God says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Especially when there are conflicting biblical interpretations within the church, we should look for evidence to verify or deny. The Bible is never wrong. But our interpretations can be inaccurate.

Inaccurate biblical interpretations can have consequences. I once observed a conman take money from Bible-believing churchmen. I warned them that the inflated promises, secrecy, and story inconsistencies evidenced fraud. But wanting to believe the conman, they misinterpreted verses and went ahead. Many thousands of dollars were lost. By contrast, in Acts 10, early Christians believed the message of Christ to be only for the Jewish people. After seeing evidence of Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, they changed their minds. I believe that those who seek God’s truth will allow evidence to change their minds.

1   De doctrina christiana, Chapter 2.40.20.60, St Augustine

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Scripture and Science – The Case for Faith (2 of 3 parts)

“Doubting Thomas” was not present when Jesus first appeared after the Resurrection. Thomas insisted that unless he could see and touch, he would not believe. Eight days later Jesus reappeared with Thomas present. When Thomas professed belief, Jesus mildly rebuked him for not believing previously. Expecting evidence was not Thomas’ shortfall. Evidence had already been provided by the empty tomb and the eyewitness testimonies. Thomas’ mistake was demanding absolute proof. Similarly, many scientists dismiss God by demanding absolute proof. Proof negates the faith necessary to make a choice for God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God . . .” (Hebrews 11:6)

Jesus said, “… at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14:11) God has provided plenty of evidence for faith within the universe scientists investigate. For example, behavioral scientists have shown that anger, hatred, and even poor neighbor relations are bad for our health. Jesus taught against these 2,000 years ago. According to the big bang theory, everything suddenly appeared from nothing. Does this not shout out “God?” Interestingly, the big bang was first recognized in 1927 by MIT educated Georges Lemaitre, an ordained priest.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made . . .” (Romans 1:20) I personally believe that mathematics can provide strong evidence of God and His goodness. However, the math is complex and involves high probabilities not the absolute proof demanded by Thomas and some scientists.

Fortunately, churchmen can help scientists to faith in Christ. Several years ago, my wife and I led a Bible-based marriage seminar near Cape Canaveral in Florida. Most of the audience were scientists or engineers at NASA. As a man of science, I carefully explained and gave evidence for my biblical interpretations. They loved the seminar and several trusted Christ. The event went so well that they asked us to repeat it later for other scientists.

Future Blog Post

Scripture and Science – The Case for Evidence

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Scripture and Science – In Conflict? (1 of 3 parts) 2 minute read  

“All truth is God’s truth.” Although a cliché, this is accurate. Scripture and science cannot contradict because both belong to God. But some churchmen and scientists do have conflict, even animosity, primarily rooted in methodology. Churchmen emphasize faith. Scientists look for evidence. However, both faith and evidence are biblical and contribute to God’s truth.

Conflict between churchmen and scientists related to faith versus evidence is nothing new. In the 15th century, new technology shed light on the prevailing Aristotelian worldview by which the church interpreted Scripture. The most famous incident was Galileo’s heresy trial and conviction. Galileo, observing through a telescope, had asserted that the Earth revolved around the sun, contrary to church teaching. More recently, extremists among both scientists and churchmen have given each group ample reasons for distrust of the other.

Science can rely on extraordinarily complex mathematics which yield non-intuitive answers. Results reported by scientists are thereby impossible for non-scientists to verify and can even vary over time. Medical researchers, for example, can’t seem to settle on whether certain foods are good or bad for our health. No wonder some churchmen are skeptical of science.

Many scientists observe that there are conflicting beliefs within the modern church and that aspects of church teaching have greatly varied over the centuries. Churchmen who claim to get unsubstantiated and perhaps self-serving messages directly from God make scientists scoff. A few within the church are hostile to science even to the point of refusing medical care.

However, faith and evidence together in God’s hands are amazingly powerful. For example, Scotsman James Clerk Maxwell experienced an evangelical conversion at age twenty-two and remained devout all his life. Albert Einstein later credited Maxwell for identifying the foundation on which all modern physics is based. Many other important scientists have been dedicated Christians. The two are not incompatible.

Both churchmen and scientists seek God’s truth. And each can learn from the other. Romans 12:17 admonishes, “… live at peace with everyone.” Let us not allow different methodologies or extremists to cause conflict. Churchmen and scientists working together with faith and evidence will benefit everyone. Remember that all truth is God’s truth.

Future Blog Posts

Scripture and Science – The Case for Faith

Scripture and Science – The Case for Evidence

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Beating the Dachshund  – 1 minute read

When Kit started running consistently and entering road races, waiting among the non-runners for her to finish embarrassed me. I contemplated buying a leg brace as a silent, albeit false, excuse for my inactivity. Eventually embarrassment forced me to don expensive shoes and hit the track.

My first race turned into a disaster. Running shorts that I had practiced in decided to slip down to my knees. Using both hands to hold up your pants does not add to your running form or speed. Eventually, I removed the safety pins holding on my number and attached my pants to my T-shirt. I barely managed to finish before everybody went home.

At 170 pounds in the 1990s, I qualified for the “Clydesdale” division. That division gave larger runners like me a chance of winning something in a race. I never managed to finish better than lower-to-middle even in that relatively slow grouping.

I beat the dachshund once though. Many entered their dogs in races to run with them. A dachshund in our area was famous for turning seven-minute miles over long distances. For the start of one race, I edged my way to the front to get a lead on the short-legged  dog. Then imagining the pitter-patter of his little feet passing me in front of all, I ran my heart out. With tremendous relief, I staggered over the finish line a minute or two before the fresh-looking dachshund.

While recuperating, I sidled over to the dog and his owner. “Your dog is pretty fast on those short legs,” I complimented.

“He can be,” the young woman answered. “Right now, he’s recovering from hip-replacement surgery.”

Beating a crippled dog with six-inch legs was my best race. Sciatic pain made me give up running. I wish I could run one race again, even if slower than a dachshund. Enjoy each moment while you can.

Drew Coons

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A faith reinforcing true story – 1½ minute read

Some animals we saw

Kit and I had lived and met in Nigeria and learned to love aspects of Africa. Some years later we delighted to lead a short-term evangelism team to Kenya.

We were both runners in those days and thereby full of energy. One day we played hooky—or so we intended—by leaving everybody and with our translators trekking  under a beautiful blue sky deep (maybe eight miles) into the Kenyan countryside. We loved passing farms, picturesque villages, and occasionally large wild animals following the dirt road then took a winding path.

At the end of the path, we noticed a cluster of thatched mud huts, the home of an extended family. “We should at least try talking to with someone today,” I said as we approached.

Inside the circle, a communal fire smoldered. At the fire, the family patriarch, a man of perhaps fifty sat on a log by the embers. Seeing me, the man visibly startled like he had seen an apparition. I politely asked permission to talk about God. He nodded and  followed with intense concentration. When offered an opportunity to receive Christ, the man quickly agreed.

After praying, the patriarch immediately gave us his tobacco and alcohol which we interpreted as sincerity. After I thanked him, our translators invited the man to an open-air meeting that afternoon sponsored by a Kenyan church. We started the long walk back.

Back in relative civilization, Kit and I attended the meeting. To my surprise, the patriarch had walked the eight miles to join us. He asked to speak and told all present that for years he had resisted becoming a Christian. He had told God that he would become a Christian on one designated day only if God provided a messenger. That day, not wanting to become a Christian, he had remained close to home. Then a white man had appeared at his fire to tell him about Jesus.

Think God won’t go to extremes to save someone? God can even use a desire to play hooky. Or maybe God plants desires. Years later I received a report on this man. He had joined the church and remained faithful.

Drew Coons

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Fact and Falsehood – 1½ minute read

Decades ago, my godly pastor preached a strong message with political implications. I then taught the message to my Sunday School class and others. Later events proved that biblical interpretation to be undeniably false. I do not believe my pastor deliberately deceived me. Like me, he had taught what he heard from others.

I do not believe passing on information from a presumably reliable source absolves my pastor or me for teaching falsehood in the name of God. James 3:1 warns that teachers will incur a stricter judgment. The stricter judgement concerns me less than deep sorrow for having misrepresented God.

The root of my error was that I believed God would not allow believers to teach falsehood in His name. Many conflicting biblical interpretations come from the contemporary American church, the worldwide church, and the historical church. All can’t be accurate. Clearly God does allow error to be taught in His name. Moreover, the Bible itself recognizes that there will be distortions of scripture.

His (Paul’s) letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16 NIV)

Today the Internet and social media allow for rapid transfer of distorted teaching. Forwarding or sharing can be a form of teaching. I recently received a strongly worded message, riddled with falsehoods, opposing wearing face masks during the pandemic. Another message emphatically stated that Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates had deliberately created the Covid virus and unleashed it for political reasons. Both messages had been passed on by Christians from sources presumed trustworthy.

Please join me refraining from passing on information in a Christian context unless the content can be verified as factual. And be careful about believing unsubstantiated materials you receive.

Drew Coons

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