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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A different time–a different place – 1 minute read

Book and Paper Show (2)

Kit and I define non-sexual romantic as “a different time–a different place.” Today we participated in the Arkansas Book and Paper Show. There history and memorabilia enthusiasts displayed and sold rare books, Confederate money, vintage post cards, 19th century photos, and thousands of other reminders of different times and places. “I just like old things,” one booth proprietor explained. This group certainly pursues our idea of romantic.

We fit in with the other participants in respect that nearly all were our age or older. We didn’t fit in with our brand new novels for sale and the technology (tablet and laptop) we brought. Not one other person showed any electronic devices. Yet we couldn’t have been treated any more kindly by a community of gracious people who share a love of items that recall former eras. I assured would-be buyers that our novels are all first editions. Most laughed and a few bought our books which include many historical references and exotic places.

We don’t need to travel through time or board a jetliner to experience different times or places. Little romantic enclaves persist all around us. One source of a more-than-ordinary life is to step off our path and look for reminders of a different time, a different place.

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People are Interested in God – ½ minute read

EPSON MFP image

Falling church attendance and the growing skepticism about religion among younger people would led one to believe that people have lost interest in God.

I’ve read several best selling novels lately that would indicate otherwise. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer and Peace Like a River by Leif Enger are both secular stories that treat God as very real and good. My own novel The Ambassadors attempts to do the same, but falls far short of “best selling.”

Then why is Christianity out of favor with so many? Many conflicting viewpoints would offer ideas. I believe that unfounded dogmatism among some religious leaders is a major factor. The Lookout Magazine featured my article, The Power of Church and Science Together, which could apply to the tragic situation. The links are active, if you are interested.

Note to followers: I’ve not posted many blogs in recent months. Kit and I have been busy doing some very good things. We hope to now resume providing meaningful and thought provoking ideas. Thank you for your interest.

In Our Lord,

Drew

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Space Shuttle Explosion – 1½ minute read

CaptureAs a young engineer, I had the privilege to work on the design of the American Space Shuttle. Among other systems, I designed what became the urine dump system.

Years later the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle brought great sorrow to me. Perhaps you too remember that dreadful day.  If not, you’ve probably see the photos of the great Y in the sky as the pieces separated. But I found out that the morning of the Challenger launch, the engineers who had designed the solid propellant boosters phoned NASA, trying to cancel the launch.

“The seals are not designed for the temperatures on the launch pad this morning. The rocket could explode,” the engineers insisted. “You must postpone the launch.” But the managers at NASA didn’t listen to the engineers; they punched the button anyway. Five, four, three, two, one . . . BOOM!! Exactly what the engineers who designed the rocket said could happen, did happen.

You may think, How could anybody be so foolish as to not listen to the designers? But the NASA managers felt that they knew better, and we all remember the result.

Sometimes people’s lives seem to explode: relationships, finances, health. Trying to make sense of it, they may wonder, Why did this happen? Where did I go wrong? Unfortunately, many times they thought they knew better than God, the designer of life. He knows how to make life worthwhile, meaningful, and purposeful. Failure to listen to God’s warnings is frequently a cause of hardship. The Bible has given us some instructions that can prevent many explosions in life. However, for the Bible to protect us, it must be correctly interpreted. Please checkout our life skills book,  MTO Choices – Making Good Decisions

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Communicating with stories – 1½ minute read

K&D

Kit telling a story

Effective stories like Jesus’ Good Samaritan or Paul’s testimony in Acts 26 have an introduction, crisis, and resolution making a point. The crisis creates suspense and may evoke emotions. A resolution should bring closure to recipients.

We observed one couple tell about a horrific traffic accident and then continue their presentation. But the group mentally stayed right there at the accident scene wondering, “What happened next?” Frequently we hear stories meaningful to the teller or one they enjoy repeating, but without a point. Only stories illustrating spiritual principles communicate to change lives.

Everybody has suffered through long and boring stories. Rarely should a spoken story be longer than 500 words—about three minutes—or you risk losing the listeners’ attention. Jesus’ “Good Samaritan” story is only 179 words. His longest parable, “The Prodigal Son,” contains two stories totaling 487 words. Paul used just 460 words speaking to King Agrippa.

The most effective verbal stories are prepared in advance. To communicate concisely and clearly, eliminate details not needed or relevant to the point. President Woodrow Wilson, known for succinct and effective communication, was asked how long he spent preparing to speak. “It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

Listeners, especially young adults, respond best to verbal stories if you act out the story with exaggerated voices, expressions, and gestures. You may feel foolish. But our purpose is communicating, not feeling good about ourselves.

But the most important audience for our stories is ourselves. God is continually seeking to teach us through our experiences, just as He did to hundreds of men and women documented in the Scriptures. What can we learn by reviewing our own lives? What can our personal stories of faith and folly communicate about God to others?

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Prayer Triggers – 1 minute read

K1 (3)

Drew at about the time he started using prayer triggers.

At Georgia Tech, Christian activities took a lot of my time. One activity I didn’t relish was 5:00 a.m. prayer with other male students on Wednesday mornings. I’ve always been a night person. But lest I appear unspiritual, I showed up every week.

A local church let us pray in their library. Most of the guys sat on chairs or couches. But a few of us stretched out face-down on the plush carpeting. Prostrate before God, we imagined. One morning I woke up from a sound sleep after all the others had gone on to class.

Those prayer times made me aware of different styles of prayer. Some of the guys gave long spiritual sounding prayers using a lot of King James English. At the time, I thought they were posturing. (I’ve already admitted that I attended for appearance sake myself.) I then adopted a simple language and halting style for public prayer that I continue to use.

About that time I also started to use what I call prayer triggers–an occurrence that brings a person or a need to mind. For example, loading paper into a printer reminds me of a friend who first showed me how. I frequently pray for him at that time. Whenever national weather forecasts predict severe weather in a certain area, I usually remember and pray for those I know living there. I know some young Air Force officers, deployed to bases in conflict areas. Jets passing over our house remind me to pray for them.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” I fall short in that admonition. Prayer triggers help.

Drew Coons

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Fishing Invitation – 1 minute read

Teenaged Drew lived for catching fish. Who caught the fish mattered little. Seeing someone else catch a fish almost equaled catching one myself. Bored from a Boy Scout exhibition downtown, I wandered down to the Tennessee River. There I found a man watching his eightCapture (2) year old daughter who hopefully held a rod with a line into the water.

By their appearance, that family had experienced some hard times. “I’d give anything I got to see her tie into a big one,” the man confided.

Fat chance; in this spot, under a hot sun, with the wrong bait, I thought. But the man’s love for his daughter was evident. I too fervently hoped the little girl would catch a fish. That miracle didn’t happen. But God planted in me a dream. Someday I’ll have a place where kids can catch a fish–a big fish.

Seventeen years ago, I achieved that dream. Kit and I nuture a fishing lake where we allow children and international guests to catch a fish–a big fish. Many who read this probably don’t know we offer fishing experiences. If you have school-age children, grandchildren, or mentor a child–perhaps from the city–you can contact us. We supply all the tackle and bait. All you need is a kid and a little hope.

Drew

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