Relaxation – 1 minute read

DSCN1528 (2)While researching for a new novel set in California, Kit and I discovered these sea lions enjoying themselves in the morning sun. We watched while several babies cavorted in the surf and the adults did what sea lions do so well . . . relax. I worried a bit that a killer whale would take one of the babies. We’ve all seen nature shows where the orca lunges onto the beach to grab an unwary young seal or sea lion.

Unlike the hundreds of sea lions infesting the piers in downtown San Francisco, these were purely wild animals in a pristine and secluded spot. Nor did a mob of gawking tourists admire them like in the city, just Kit and me. A moment to remember and cherish.

I found myself envying the sea lions and their relaxed joy. Our lives are hectic, hectic, hectic right now. Opportunities compete with difficult circumstances not of our making. I don’t have all day to relax in the sun. This picture reminds me to deliberately take time to relax a bit in the midst of seemingly endless urgency. Yet I keep an eye open for killer whales or mistakes we could make in our haste to complicate matters further.

Drew

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A Summer of Conflict – 1½ minute read

EPSON MFP imageWe’ll remember 2019 as the summer of corporate conflict. Just a few examples:

1. The power company misread our electric meter in June and sent us a bill 12X normal. After complaining, I found them replacing the meter that proved our case. After many hours on the phone, every time with a different representative, they corrected the bill . . . in late October.

2. A NYSE company gave misleading financial statements. Stock rating agencies didn’t research thoroughly and touted them. The FBI raided their offices. All the culprits pointed fingers at each other. Nobody went to jail. A class action lawsuit made a lot of lawyers rich. We lost a year of living expenses.

3. A roof air conditioner dripped water onto a grocery store floor. Kit slipped and broke her kneecap. Two weeks later the store hadn’t corrected the situation endangering other customers. Their legal representatives have done all they can to minimize culpability.

4. Our phone service tried to charge us for repairs to get the phone working even after we proved that they hadn’t been delivering a signal to our house.

We all know the value of peace. The Bible has much to say about resolving conflict with people. A corporation is not a person you can try to communicate with and reach a biblical resolution. What should a follower of Christ do?

#1 – Don’t take your frustration out on the corporation’s representatives. They are just trying to make a living by following policies designed by executives to maximize profits.

#2 – Don’t confuse a corporation with a friend. Regardless of the “We love our customers,” ads run on TV, the purpose of a corporation is to make money. They see us as a source of revenue or frequently, if one has complained, as an adversary.

#3 – Don’t confuse obstinacy in yourself with principle. If the matter is small, say under $100, just save the trouble and allow yourself to be cheated. This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

#4 – Apply Jesus words, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

Drew Coons

A published article by Drew on responding to injustice

 

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Our Most Embarrassing Moment Followup – 1 minute read

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An event WLFJ promoted for us

Last week we posted “A Dark Secret” revealing our most embarrassing moment in front of a lot of listeners. The story included a kindness extended to us by a friend. Steve Mitchell of South Carolina recognized himself as the kind friend and wrote in:

“I remember it well! Drew gave a heads-up about your appearance to some of his “lunch table gang” at work, so I was able to listen to you guys on the drive home. Now the thing was, in those days, I didn’t have a cell phone, so the “drive time slot” meant I had to speed home and call WLFJ from the house. I think you guys were just about to wrap things up when I called. But I do remember a lot of silence!  ☺ Glad that you guys were willing to step out in faith and bless so many folks over the years. I know you made a difference in our family! – Steve”

Steve and his sweet wife, Freda, played a major role in that 1990s ministry as did many others who may read this. Not only did God use you to touch hearts at that time, but you helped Kit and me get the experience we’ve used to serve God around the world. Steve and others of you also brought the quality of kindness into the ministry.

In literally 50 years of Christian service, I’ve seen many people who speak gently and with a smile. But their words and actions are anything but kind. I’ve been unkind myself on occasions. I’ve come to believe that kindness–which is closely linked to Jesus’ Golden Rule–sets apart followers of Christ from practitioners of religion. Extending kindness is always the right thing to do.

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A Dark Secret – 1½ minute read

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Kit and Drew at the time of the interview

In our early FamilyLife years, Kit and I partnered with WLFJ Christian radio in Greenville, SC. They interviewed us on the air numerous times. We’ve been privileged to do many radio interviews since, including three programs on FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine. WLFJ gave us our first radio experiences and did a wonderful job publicizing our events. But our dark secret was that we didn’t listen to the station very often.

Once the FamilyLife ministry had grown, WLFJ asked for a return favor. Would we go on air during their annual fundraising week to endorse the station? “Of course,” we responded. They gave us the prime drive-time slot following the most prominent Christian leader in our area. There we asked for donations to WLFJ with all our might. But remember that we didn’t listen to the station and weren’t familiar with their fundraising techniques.

After a while the phones weren’t ringing. The DJ said, “Let’s put Kit and Drew on the phones and have their folks call in.” And so, we went on the phones, praying for some friends. No one called. “Aren’t any of the couples from FamilyLife out there?” the DJ repeated. No rings. I’m certain some would have called had we fore-warned them. At that point, I wished I had mailed a $100 bill to everybody I knew with a request to donate. Finally, a kind friend had mercy on us and had his son call in a pledge. We left the station in total embarrassment.

WLFJ never asked us to do fundraising again. But they continued to publicize the ministry. With their help, we had some of the largest marriage conferences in America during those years. God touched many hearts.

We laugh at that experience now. But at the time, it wasn’t funny.  Don’t let the fear of making a mistake keep you from the adventure of trusting God. Even if you do something stupid, you’ll laugh later.

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Influencing Young People – 1 minute read

Jeremy'sChallenge_Rendering2 (3)“Do you have anything for kids?” many asked about our books. With 86% of millennials in America being post-Christian, juveniles and young adults need some positive influence. Therefore we determined that we would create a story for young people. And we’d include the novel in our Challenge series to capitalize on the momentum of our Dave and Katie adventures.

I read a dozen juvenile and young adult novels to understand the genres. The most common plot line is when a young person discovers that they have inherent or accidental powers, frequently magical. Every kid wants to envision themselves as more-than-ordinary. But the theme of our Dave and Katie adventures is regular people becoming more-than-ordinary–not by magical powers–but by the choices they make.

Therefore, we worked extra hard to create Jeremy’s Challenge, an engaging story for new young adult and juvenile readers–while remaining entertaining to Dave and Katie fans. This we did by a first person account by Dave and Katie’s son Jeremy; growing up, making mistakes, trying to establish an identity, and longing for adventure. He then falls under the spell of an alluring and scheming older woman.

Henry David Thoreau wrote that authors, “more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.” I doubt our novel will influence mankind. But what’s the value of positively influencing a handful of kids? Even just one kid?

We’ve priced this novel at only $9.62 and $2.99 by Kindle. How about buying a copy for someone you love? Or just read the story yourself. We believe you’ll enjoy it, regardless of your age.
Description of Jeremy’s Challenge

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A New Era? – 1 minute read

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Kit and Drew during their first visit to FamilyLife

As many of you have heard, a couple of weeks ago FamilyLife made a surprise announcement that they would move from Little Rock to Orlando, Florida. Nearly all the staff need to decide whether they will move or look for a new job. Kit and I–being “full-time volunteers” rather than employees–are less affected than most. We won’t move to Florida. Still we have been dramatically affected. The major training in Little Rock we would have led this fall has been cancelled. Our October trip to Asia had already been cancelled. In an eye blink, we went from 40+ hours a week invested in FamilyLife to much less than 40 minutes a week.

What a difference in our schedule! For the first time in years, I remember how vacation feels. Still some reminiscing is unavoidable. In September of 1989–thirty years ago–we started the ministry of FamilyLife in our area of South Carolina. The picture of us is our first visit to FamilyLife in Little Rock. Since then we’ve been part of many wonderful things God has done. I think our Lord understands a little sadness at the end of the major era of our lives.

But is it an end or the beginning of an era? FamilyLife’s president, David Robbins, has asked us to meet with him. Maybe after all the turmoil has settled down, FamilyLife will still need us to train and coach couples using the lessons we learned in South Carolina and around the world. We’ll see. Regardless we had a meaningful and adventurous thirty years. And we still have plenty to do maintaining our farm and our non-FamilyLife writing career.

We thank God for the ability to embrace change. Maybe it has something to do with faith. Whatever happens, we expect it to be good.

Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?
Isaiah 43:19 (NASB)

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Faith of Our Fathers – 1 minute read

Pioneers (2)I just completed reading Pulitizer Prize winning historian David McCullough’s The Pioneers. I frequently read science and history books and watch documentaries. The great theologian St. Augustine compared secular truth to the valuable gold and silver the Israelites took out of pagan Egypt. He taught appropriation of God’s valuable truth from all sources to correctly interpret scripture.

Most of the prominent pioneers featured in McCullough’s account of the settlement of the Northwest Territory in the early nineteenth century were devout Christians–Congregationalists from New England. Congregationalists of that era are known for their zealousness for God. Striking to me is the contrast between their interpretation of scripture and that of current day evangelicals. The Congregationalists were federalists–advocating use of science by a strong and progressive central government. They would be Democrats in today’s political environment. I’ve read other ideas of very dedicated followers of Christ in previous generations that would differ from most twenty-first century American evangelicals.

My purpose here is to not advocate any stance. Rather I am saying that Congregationalists had the same scriptures and Holy Spirit we do. Any time there are widely differing interpretations of scripture among sincere believers, we would do well to carefully examine our biblical application. Otherwise we could be in danger of a sense of infallibility possibly leading to inaccurate use of scripture.

But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good. I Thessolonians 5:21

Drew

 

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The Advantage of Double Vision – 1 minute read

Goose

The Canada goose’s bill pointed in my direction. That meant it wasn’t watching me. You see, geese have binocular vision with eyes on opposite sides of their head. That means that the two eyes look in opposite directions and provide nearly 360 degrees of vision. Useful for a creature which every predator hopes to catch and eat.

I wondered how geese reconcile two separate eyes and so designed an experiment. I arranged mirrors to direct my eyes to the right and left and expected confusion. Didn’t happen, though. I lost depth perception but my brain could instantaneously switch from eye to eye giving me a broader field of view. If we had tigers in Arkansas, they wouldn’t be able to sneak up on me.

Tigers aside, a lot of people get into trouble by a narrow view of circumstances. They can’t see any other possibilities than a preconceived notion. The most severe conflicts occur when two people can each only see one possibility, and it isn’t the same.

Kit and I teach a marriage principle where we trade sides in an argument. Kit tells my side and I tell hers. We’ve actually found that I can argue better against me than she can. The strategy always defuses emotions and helps us to make the best decision. The first step in solving an argument is to be certain you understand the other person’s perspective.

By wisdom a house is built. And by understanding it is established.

Proverbs 24:3

 

 

 

 

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More Neighbors Than you Thought? – 1½ minute read

pexels-photo-356192The bodily return of Christ can’t be too soon for me. I’m eager to meet Jesus. And not just because I’m facing some dental work. My penalty for sin has been paid and I’d be grateful for Jesus to take charge.

But I think Jesus’ imminent return is unlikely. It’s just a matter of math. Nearly two thousand years have passed since his death. In each year, Christians believed false signs of His coming. The odds of Jesus’ return in my lifetime are thereby low.

But regardless, my responsibility as Jesus’ follower is to live in a godly manner. Fortunately, Jesus left succinct guidelines: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39.

This leaves me with the question, Who is my neighbor? People follow various interpretations of my neighbor–those living on the same street, or community, or country, or all those sharing our planet. Because Jesus’ return probably isn’t imminent and God isn’t limited by the dimension we call time, I think the godly application would be to also love those who will live after me.

Consider the picture of the child above. Barring Jesus’ unlikely return, she is likely to outlive me. I consider the child my neighbor, and not only her, but her potential descendants. This is a reason, I’ve spent the last thirty years trusting God to strengthen families. Godly families will benefit not only the parents, but future generations.

For me, failure to consider the welfare of future generations is failure to love my neighbor. That’s why my values lean toward protecting the environment, reducing government debt, and opportunity for all regardless of race and status of the parents. I’m willing to make sacrifices–including increased taxes–to not burden this child with current day excesses.

Drew Coons

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Trip to Chicago – 1 minute read

Pizza (2)New York pizza connoisseurs look away. Chicago deep-dish pizza–with about an inch of toppings–needs to be eaten with a fork. The photo is from famous Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in the elegant Oak Park section of Chicago.

For FamilyLife, we attended The Changing Face of Evangelism conducted by Cru | City in Chicago. The intent of this training is to mobilize church members to do a conversational form of one-to-one relational sharing. They use the broad concept of well-being from Isaiah 48:17-19 as a form of commonly felt need.

Cru | City started with a compelling perspective on the need for new methods of effective evangelism. 86% of millennials are post-Christian. America has the fourth largest non-Christian population in the world after Russia, India, and China. Cru | City’s technique involves asking questions and listening without judgement then talking about Jesus from a position of understanding. The training challenged practitioners to consider themselves as cojourners on a spiritual journey and thereby avoid barriers to the message.

Kit and I still prefer pursuing the more narrowly focused felt need of relationships. But if your church or group would like an innovative approach to outreach, please check Cru | City’s website at https://churchmovements.com

Drew

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