Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Question For The Church

   At this point in my state (Texas) it is still illegal for same-sex marriages.  That will probably not be the case in the near future.  I believe the courts will rule that it our law stating marriage is between a man and a woman is unconstitutional, and, although I disagree with them, same-sex couples will be able to get married in arguably the  most conservative state in the Union.  At this point I do not know how long it will be, and neither does anyone else.
 
   Frankly, I think it is quite the wrong thing on which the church should focus.  Here’s what I believe—as long as Satan can keep us occupied with such things as homosexuality, we are not focused on our real  mission, which is reaching people for Jesus and making disciples of them.   I know a lot of people in Baptist churches.  And I know as lot about Baptists churches, and not so much about other denominations.  It is my considered opinion that most of the churches in my denomination believe homosexuality is a sin and an abhorrence to God.  My question for my church and all other churches is this;  “Do sinners have a place in the church?”
  One might answer that all church members are sinners, and I would agree wholeheartedly.  So, then, the issue must come down to the degree of sin.  Christians have a way of making some sins greater in their own eyes than other sins.  So, we have come to the place where we place homosexuality on the level of sin that does not merit church affiliation.  I ask you, “Do you think God agrees?”
   Here is our dilemma.  If we say it is O.K. for sinners to come into the church, then we must allow ALL sinners.  It is not our prerogative to categorize sin.  It is the warmth of the church that leads people to a deeper commitment to Christ, not the opposite.  So, which sinners will we keep out?  It appears we have liars, cheaters, adulterers, child predators, etc. in the church already, so what is the rationale for excluding one category of sinners just because we do not agree with them.
   The only answer I have heard anyone make to this questions is that most people who come into the church, while they may be sinners, we do not know about their sin.  That leads me to believe that we reason that we would not knowingly receive into membership anyone who was any of the above.  But, you and I both know that isn’t so.  We also know that we have homosexuals in our churches, but they are still in the closet, so to speak. 
   All of this is to bring us to the conclusion that the main reason we do not want homosexuals in the church is that they do not keep their sin hidden.  You know what that means, don’t you?  Church membership is only for those who are adept at keeping their sins hidden from others.
   That may not be what we believe, but sure is what we practice.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The End Is Nearing

    Since I have been writing a blog or administering a web site almost since the internet became viable, it is natural to receive many questions about why I do what I do.  Age and physical limitations have severely curtailed my ability to travel and/or consult as I once did.  So, the only outlet I have for my thoughts and ideas is this blog and my work with Christian Unity Ministries.  I have been a board member with that organization since its incorporation, having served as chairman of the board for several years.
 
   At the end of this year my service to Christian Unity Ministries will come to an end, as I leave my board position.  My place on that fine board will be taken by another generation of Coffees, my granddaughter Elizabeth.  What this shows is the ministry is interested in the infusion of new ideas, and perspective.   Elizabeth will bring youthful energy to the ministry, which is led by her dad.  When my son decided to add this ministry to his workload as an attorney, we thought it would be a great part time outlet for his own ideas and skills.
  He, along with an outstanding group of leaders, has developed that multi-denominational ministry into an international work.  Both here in the continental USA and in countries on virtually all other continents, Christian Unity Ministries has reached into so many churches with their message of relationship building and reconciliation. 
   My son’s ministry, which he now leads full time, has a couple of web sites, which are administered by members of the Board of Directors, as well as the Executive Director.  The web sites are (www.christianunityministries.org) and www.fiveprinciples.net.   In addition, Blake has a blog at www.churchwhisperer.com.   We receive inquiries from all over the world.  As a result of these web sites, we have had the joy of ministering from Texas to California, to the east coast and as far north as Connecticut, as well as on three continents.  Activity on these webs sites is international in scope and breathtaking in their reach.  We love it when a friend sends our web address to a friend or loved one in a far off place. 
   Alas, however, my personal involvement in that work will come to an end this year, although my prayers and my interest will continue.  I will continue as Chairman of the Board of the Baptist Credit Union, headquartered in San Antonio, and the advisory Committee of Wayland Baptist University San Antonio, and teaching my Sunday school class in my church, but that will be the extent of my involvement in kingdom work. 
   Finally, I see the end for this blog.  I now find that I am prone to repeating myself, and if I continued this blog, I am afraid that is what I would be doing.  I have just about said all I know and it is time to give it up.  I will likely do a Sunday school lesson blog for my class, which I plan to continue teaching.  That having been said, when Christmas gets here, this blog will cease to exist.  I will miss the remarks I have been getting from friends who faithfully read what I post.  I am so thankful for the readership we have built over the years. 
   So, look for three or four more posts, after which we will end this blog posting.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two World Sometimes Confuse us (Remix from August, 2012)

To begin with, I want to share a little story with you that appeared in our church bulletin.  It was in response to a sermon our pastor, Dr. Don Guthrie,  preached.  When he told the story, people were so moved that he decided to reprint it in the bulletin.  Here it is:

   “In 1930 Arthur Stace attended a meeting for men at St. Barnabas Church in Sydney, Australia.  As he heard the gospel, he found the strength to give up drinking.  Six months later he heard Rev. John Ridley say, “I wish I could shout ‘Eternity!’ through the streets of Sydney”.  Arthur felt called to do exactly that. 
   So, he began to get up at 5:00 A.M. every day and he would go where he believed God directed him and write ETERNITY on the sidewalk in white or yellow chalk…fifty times a day for nearly 30 years.
   The one-word sermon became part of the conscience of the city.  On New Year’s Eve, 1999 (32 years after Arthur’s death, at the end of the New Millennium fireworks spectacular, there it was again, in letters fifty feet high on a bridge over Sydney HarborArthur’s word--ETERNITY!” 
    As one who, in the natural course of events, is closer to eternity than many of my readers, this subject is of increasing importance.  From now on, this blog will be my chalk.  I want everyone who reads these words from now on to be aware of eternity, and the absolute need for each of us to preach about it, and teach about it as long as the Lord gives us breath.  Not one of the hundreds of millions of people living on this planet will escape eternity.  Every one of us will one day be there.  In which world will we live?  As we walk the streets of our world today we anticipate the world to come in eternity.  We are often confused about this.  The world as we know it today is not our final destination.  The world of eternity is.  Let’s do all we can to clear up the confusion.
   This blog is dedicated to the proposition that our Lord Jesus desires that none perish, that is live the eternal death of hell.  In fact, He wants all people to live with Him in Heaven, if only they would choose to do so.  So, from this day forward the material seen on this blog will be designed to provide preachers and teachers with a little bit of information they can use to propagate the idea that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  It’s a simple proposition, but an eternally important one.
 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Trust the Bible

   Sometimes it is difficult to trust the Word of God.  Take the case of government…the Bible tells us that governments are allowed by God and rulers are appointed by God.  In that case, most of my readers and myself need to adjust our thinking regarding our current government.  With President Obama’s approval ratings at all-time low, it is apparent most Americans do not believe that Obama’s government is of God.  In other words, we do not trust God’s word.
   This has always been a difficult principle for me to understand.  Am I to believe that it is sinful for me to criticize our government or refuse to bow to its mandates?  Is the president always “God’s choice?”  Does anyone ever get elected that is not a servant of God?
   These and other questions are what come to mind when I read in the Bible that God ordains government.  Does that mean our government…our present government…or does it mean something else?
   This is another place when our faith comes into conflict with our politics.  I believe very much in the permissive will of God, that is that God sometimes permits things to happen that may not necessarily be what He wants.  I do think there are situations where God simply says, “O.K., have it your own way.”  In such situations, things happen that do not necessarily reflect the will of God.
   We often pray for God’s will to be done in elections, hoping that the man or woman God wants in a position gets elected.  The truth is, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.  I doubt that God interferes in our elections, even though he could determine the outcome of every election.
   So, no I do not believe God’s choice always gets elected.  However, I do believe God permits certain outcomes in order that we may experience the consequences of bucking His will.
   It is not my place to make judgments about whether or not “God’s candidate” was actually elected.  I have my opinions, but that’s all they are.  They are not provable theorems.  I may think the president is not the person God would have chosen, but that does not make it so.  What is true is that I am failing God if I fail to pray for the president, who is leading the one country that is a shining light for the Christian faith on the planet.  Efforts by some to take down that flag are certainly moving against the will of God, and should be opposed by every Christian.
   “God bless America, land that I love.  Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above.  From the mountains, to the prairie, to the oceans, white with foam.  God bless America, my home sweet home.”  If you would like to hear the first singing of that great song, click here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Am So Very Thankful

   At this very special season of the year, as we express our gratitude to the Father, I have given a lot of thought to the many things for which I am thankful.  First and foremost, I am thankful to still be here.  I never imagined living to be 80 years of age.  Now that I have been blessed to do so, I am now looking forward to 100 and expect  to make it.  Thanks be to God.
 
   Thankfulness is also sent to the Father for those of you who read this blog.  I have made so many new friends through this blog, and am very grateful for each of them.
   God has blessed me with the best family any man could imagine wanting.  I have a longsuffering wife of more than 60 years, now.  We have two children, both professionals in ministry, two children-in-law, who are the best we could ever want.  If we had gone out shopping for a wife for our son and a husband for our daughter, we would have brought home exactly what we have today. 
   Our family is also blessed with six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.  They have all been great blessings to us.
   We are blessed to have a wonderful relationship with our son’s mother-in-law.  She is like a sister to both my wife and I.  We could not love her more.  We felt the same way about her husband before he went home to be with the Lord.
   Thank you, Lord, for every one of these blessings, given us by Your mighty hand.
   Martha and I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving holidays.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Faith vs. Politics

   In our world there are always going to be issues where our faith and our politics come into conflict.  We serve the Prince of Peace, but sometimes find ourselves warring against other nations and ideologies.  We find our conservative politics comes into conflict with the admonition of Jesus to “let the little children come unto me.”  We are admonished by our faith to treat strangers with love and concern, but our politics tells us to stop them from coming to my house (country).
 
   Frankly, I am not sure how to answer the dilemma I am confronted with when I hear my conservative friends railing against illegal immigrants.  Yes, I know they have broken the law, but I am not responsible for upholding the law. I am responsible for how I treat the “stranger within our gates.” 
   It is easy for me to criticize the president for what he has done regarding about 5 million illegal immigrants. Let’s look at who these people are.  The vast majority of them are the parents of children born in the USA.  Others are young people who have never lived anywhere but the USA.  Some do not even speak any other language but English.  That’s how long they have been here.  They were brought to this country, illegally, years ago, just so they can have a better life and get a better education.
   Yes, I can see that “ILLEGAL” sign flashing and I understand there are thousands waiting in line to come here legally.  The vast majority of these illegal adults in the USA would never be able to get legal status by waiting in the line at a consulate, because they had no particular skills for which they could be granted entry.  However, some of these youngsters who were brought here when they were babies or small children, are now in possession of great skills, learned in the schools of America.  They are capable of making a living, paying taxes, etc. 
   The questions that come to me are, 1. How can we ever round up and deport millions of illegal immigrants?  2.  Why should a wage earning, tax-paying person who has been here for five, ten, or even twenty years be uprooted from the home they have made and sent back to a country they hardly even know?  3.  How in the name of Jesus can I turn my back on the needs many of these people have?
   So far, not one of my conservative Republican friends (of whom I am one) has come up with an answer to question # 1. 
   As much as I dislike the fact that the president took what I believe to be unlawful action, I agree with him when he says, “If you don’t like my actions, pass a law to make it irrelevant.  Do something about this horde of illegal immigrants.” That is a fair challenge.  So far, all I have heard is criticism, and not a single one of my Republican heroes has stated what he would do with these people.  It should also be noted that the president’s action does not make these 5 million people voting citizens.  As far as I can tell, there is not even a pathway to citizenship, just a green card that allows them to work  without fear of being the subject of an immigration raid.  So, in that regard they are not “jumping the line.”
   My faith tells me to treat the stranger within our gates with courtesy and a sense of hospitality.  My politics says, “Kick ‘em out.”  I think I will follow my faith.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Need To Wake Up

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.  (2 Timothy 2:7 NASB)

   Whatever your belief is about the Mormon faith, and I know many of my readers believe theirs is a man-made religion, you have to hand it to them when it comes to spreading the word about their faith.  One could say the same about another religion that many believe is man-made, the religion of Islam.  Muslims are adept at spreading their faith.  Large numbers of prisoners in the incarceration units of our country have converted to Islam.  Untold millions of poor and down and out people across the globe have converted to Islam.  People who have been born into the Islamic faith rarely leave it.  Are we able to say the same things about Christianity in our time?  Whether it be by intimidation, encouragement or persuasion, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet.
   The verse at the head of this post comes from, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a struggling young pastor who was dealing with lots of issues in his church.  He was dealing with people who doubted core beliefs of Christianity, people who thought it was cool to tell people that if they became a Christian God would make them rich, people who could not leave the practices of their old religion when they came to Christ, and others who were just such babies in Christ that they had little ability to contribute intelligent conversation during the church troubles.
   The verse above reminded me that as a young pastor I was bold and unafraid to go knock on every door and present the claims of Christ.  In fact, the very first person I ever baptized was a professional wrestler who stood about 6’ 5” and weighed 350 pounds.  I was out knocking on doors one Sunday afternoon (that was before we had a T.V. set and the Dallas Cowboys did not yet exist).  I was a brash young pastor, still in co9llege, but I knew the Lord wanted me to knock on doors in Floydada, Texas and witness to whomever answered my knock, and invite them to drive out in the country six  miles to attend the little country church that had called me to be their shepherd.
   When that big ol’ wrestler answered the door I looked up at him, told him my name, and said, “I have come to talk to you about Jesus.  Do you have a minute or two?”  Immediately, my work was confirmed and I understood why on that Sunday afternoon I was supposed to be at that house in Floydada, Texas.  The big wrestler said, “Please come in.  My wife and I were just talking about needing to be in church.”  In less time than it took for me to  write this post, I invited both of them to bow their heads and ask Jesus into their lives.  Both did and both were baptized into Christ and our church.  The lesson I learned that day was that wherever the Lord leads, He precedes.
   I often think about that time in my life and how though the years I have somehow lost my zeal to go out door to door and, with boldness, proclaim Jesus.   Oh, sure, I get that things are very different now than they were in 1956.  I know all the reasons why that kind of thing is not done today.  Somehow, though, those reasons sound a lot like excuses. 
   I am convinced that the church should be encouraging this kind of witness.  We need to be putting ourselves in situations where we can speak up for Jesus.  Whether it is by inviting people to neighborhood gatherings, or by bringing people to events, it is imperative that the modern church rediscover what it means to be a witness.  We need to be sensitized to listening for opportunities to share Jesus, and our faith in Him.  Look again at the promise embedded in 2 Timothy 6:7.  It is a promise of power, love and discipline.
   Are you willing to do for your faith what others are willing to do for their?