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Election Results November 2020

I’m one of those who votes for the platform, not the person. I’ve been told that I’m a one-issue voter, and I don’t deny it. The Democratic platform is pro-abortion, and the Republican platform is pro-life. Life matters to me, so you can be assured that I voted for the party of life.

Carrie’s Baby

As of today, life did not win this presidential election. I want to cry, but instead I’m singing a stanza of an old hymn, “This Is My Father’s World.”

“This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King: let the heavens ring! God reigns: let earth be glad!”

With all my being I know that God is the Ruler yet! Don’t be mistaken, I’m not ready to be glad about the results of this election. The assurance of God’s victory is slow to come for me. But I will still fight on the side of what’s right: life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Right now I need to trust God, for He will be victorious in the battle between life and death. Let’s pray.

Friendship with Authors

It dawned on me last night that I actually know authors. I don’t just read their books, but I’ve developed friendships with those who write and get published. It’s a privilege and a joy to be their friend. Reading a book when I’m the author’s friend is something special. Let me introduce you to three authors I know.

 Trinity is not Joyce Long’s first book, but it’s the first of her books I read. When I went to her book signing at a local bookstore, I got a signed copy. I met Joyce at my first meeting with the Heartland Christian Writers. As the new writer of the group, Joyce gave me a warm welcome. At our Christmas party she had a box of her newly published books, and we shared her excitement. The writers group meets monthly (lately on Zoom), and Joyce is a ball of encouragement as we critique each other’s work in progress (WIP). Her background is in education and nonprofit communications. Trinity is not a theological essay but a blend of personal experience and biblical knowledge to help readers discover the fullness of God.

   John Matthew Walker, MD is a one of the fiction writers in the HCW group. He’s our leader, and he developed the website: https://www.heartlandchristianwriters.com/ Visit the site and read our focus statement. I read the latest of John’s books, Moonlight Awakens, a sex-trafficking story. It’s dedicated to “the invisible, the forgotten, the shamed.” John did his research on this horrific yet mysterious world that involves young girls and their trapped condition. John states his writing genre as “suspense that awakens hope,” and he follows through with that in this remarkable story that moves readers to do something about the darkness of sex-trafficking.

   How Callie Daruk and I became friends was a surprise yet a God-thing. She read my blog and sent a message asking to phone me. Her call was an invitation to help me with my “dream job.” Callie offered her skills with transcription. I sent her a series of Bill’s sermons on cassette tapes and she returned them as typed transcripts for me to edit and prepare for publication. Our friendship grew during the time her WIP became a published book, What Does God Want You to Do Before You Die? I pre-ordered it on Amazon, which was not supposed to happen in that time frame, for I had it before the release date. A mistake that proved beneficial, for I was able to send a review early. Callie’s book―30 devotions to help you begin living your purpose―is only 123 pages but packed full of insight and persuasion to follow God’s leading.

While I treasure my books, these and other authors are God’s jewels to me.

Endorsement with History Lesson Guest Blogger: Mallory North

World Gospel Church – artist view

My wife, Sonya, and I have been members of World Gospel Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, since the Spring of 1983. When our former Pastor Dr. Helmut Schultz and his dear wife, Norma Jean, were led of the Lord to return to the Oriental Mission Field in 1989, the Lord led the WGC congregation to extend a call to Dr. William B. Coker, Sr. to come and lead our church forward. Bill, as he preferred to be called, accepted the call and he and his lovely wife, Ann, served our congregation for the next 19 years. During those years under Bill’s leadership the congregation more than doubled in size, requiring additional educational facilities to be built, and moving from one service on Sunday mornings in the sanctuary to two services.

The highlight of each Lord’s Day was Bill’s capable exposition of the Scriptures. Dr. Coker’s educational training, teaching in college and seminary, and hard work made him expert in the biblical languages and history and cultures in which the inspired Bible was written. He was always able to mine the Scriptures for spiritual treasures, presenting and explaining the milk of the Bible to new believers for their understanding, and challenging the mature believers with the solid food required for their continued growth and service. Bill’s sermons were audible banquets to which the congregation gathered eagerly.

If my memory serves me correctly, recording Bill’s sermons on cassette tapes began as a ministry to members who were shut-in and unable to attend live services. That ministry quickly expanded to include essential workers who were prevented by their occupations from attending on Sundays, and later the staff sent tapes to former members who had moved away and could not find a church in their new locations that provided the richness of Bible teaching we were experiencing under Bill’s ministry. When the internet developed, the sermons were recorded and placed on the WGC website for anyone to listen or download for their personal benefit.

When Bill felt the need to retire from the ministry in 2008, he received permission from the board to obtain the recorded sermons. Because of Bill’s dementia, it became impossible for him to be involved in publishing his messages. Ann (who is a capable writer in her own right) stepped up to the task and organized Bill’s sermons and prayers and had them converted from tapes to digital audio files and finally to written forms. The book, Words of Endearment: The Ten Commandments as a Revelation of God’s Love is the first to be published.

Ann graciously provided a draft copy to examine when she asked me to write an endorsement. Bill’s book is a wonderful examination of the Decalogue from God’s point of view. Each commandment given through Moses to Israel (and by extension to all Christendom) is shown to reveal God’s love for His children by setting boundaries within which all can live full and free lives in covenant with the sovereign loving God and each other. The “Words” instruct us how to worship God in spirit and in truth. They teach us that we are His, and He is ours. They show us how to please God and be obedient to His will. Bill’s exposition is deep, yet clear, and filled with applications that help believers make proper choices to bring blessings in their own lives and that of others, while giving us ever deepening fellowship with God. The book will become a treasure to be read and reread by Christians. It will also light the way for the unbeliever who will take the time to read it to experience the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ. ―Charles Mallory North, Jr., PhD

Rhythm of Living

Last week Paul, my son-in-law, said that I ought to take Grandpa (what he calls his father-in-law) out to dinner once a week. He used a phrase that summed up the motive for this suggestion. He has noticed that the Cokers have a “rhythm to life.” We tend to do activities in a consistent way, like scheduled tasks. I like that term “rhythm” for it does describe our routine of living. I’m comfortable with our rhythm. And I’ll demonstrate what Paul has observed.

Mondays I connect with Chad Allen’s Book Camp: “Work Together.” For five Tuesdays I will have classes on Platform. Wednesdays and Thursdays don’t have weekly events. Friday is my laundry day and Saturday is for housecleaning. Sundays we worship, now at church.

Yes, we have gone out for dinner on occasion. Bill enjoys eating out, but he likes best to go inside a restaurant. That limits our choices this season of restrictions.

As for our daily schedule, we watch TV shows or movies after supper. It’s a time when Bill wants me by his side on the couch. It’s not a time for me to finish anything started at the computer. He comes to the study to get me. While sitting next to Bill, I may have a coloring book on my lap, but he wants to know what I’m doing. It’s pay attention time. We head to bed at 10 PM, take our showers, take turns saying a prayer, and sleep about eight hours.  

We’re up around 7 AM and get ready for the day. Bill is in charge of coffee and getting his Cocoa Puffs in the kitchen. I take my yogurt, berries, and granola to the study and eat while reading my Bible and devotional books. Bill’s habit of reading has decreased because of his dementia. He says, “I’ve done that all my life.” The truth is: he doesn’t comprehend what he’s reading. He has read a devotional publication when available, but often needs to be reminded. I’ve had to accept this as part of his disease, for it’s not an issue to be judged.

Bill spends his days with computer games, but has lately been confused by the rules. About mid-afternoon, he turns on the TV to watch old westerns and other shows. He often naps, but he would not admit that. He watches the clock and lets us know when it’s time for a meal.

Bill’s first book will be available this December. It’s titled Words of Endearment: The Ten Commandments as a Revelation of God’s Love. Other books are in process: Pastoral Prayers, Advent, the Church, and Holiness.

My days are mostly filled with writing, editing, and promoting. I tend to spend mornings reading and afternoons writing. I have my book proposal almost completed, so the next step is an agent or publisher. It’s a companion book for The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Title: Journey with Bunyan’s Pilgrim.

I’ve found that I like the process of building a Platform and Marketing, including Beta Readers and a Launch Team who have been invaluable. If you want to keep informed, send me your email address so I can add you as a subscriber.

Is it not obvious that we’re living in a rhythm? I don’t consider myself task-oriented, but I like to know at the end of the day that I’ve been productive. Is that a contradiction? Life is a process of steps, bit by big, moving us to form the big picture of leaving a legacy. Yes, it’s a comfortable rhythm.

Oh, I’ll not apologize for the commercials, for you are part of our community in rhythm.

Sample of Words: Discussion

Bill’s book, Words of Endearment, about the Ten Commandments, is scheduled for the press in a few months. Sermon to Book, the publisher, prepared questions for discussion after each chapter (Bill’s message). Here is a sample of the questions related to the Ten Words.

1st Word: How does your relationship with God define every other relationship in your life?

2nd Word: How are you experiencing both personal and corporate worship in your life and why is each important?

3rd Word: Can God trust you to bear His name?

4th Word: What are the main competitors for your time and attention on Sundays?

5th Word: If your children honored you in the same way that you honor those in authority over you, would they be obeying this commandment?

6th Word: How can you celebrate life—all life—and help to create and cultivate a culture of life in your home, church, and community?

7th Word: What heart issues have already taken place before an affair begins?

8th Word: Do you think of your possessions as your own or as a trust from God?

9th Word: Do you ever lie by your silence, by not speaking the truth when it is needed?

10th Word: How can wrong desires be yielded to God and transformed into godly desires?

Included after each chapter are three sets of questions and an action step to move the reader deeper into the Word as God states it. These questions provide good discussion for individual readers and groups. All this provides further reinforcement for the application of Words of Endearment: the ten commandments as a revelation of God’s love.

If you want to be notified when Words of Endearment is available for ordering, send your email address to Ann: al2.coker@gmail.com Thanks.

What Shall I Do?

This is a sample page of my companion book titled Journey with Bunyan’s Pilgrim. It’s the first day of 13 weeks of a study of  The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. 

Part I: Christian Journeys to the Celestial CityWeek One: Pilgrim Left HomeWeek One Day One

What Shall I Do?”

‟I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a Book in his hand, and a great Burden upon his backˮ (p.1, Barbour, 1998).

“A man clothed in rags and weighed down by a great burden on his back stood facing away from his own house. He opened the Bible he held in his hand, and as he read, he wept and trembled. Finally, no longer able to contain himself, he cried, ‘What shall I do?’” (p. 7 Barbour, 2010)

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6, NIV 2011). Peter replied, ‛Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’ (Acts 2:38).

John Bunyan opened his narrative with a dream. He saw a man reading a Book, weeping because of a great burden on his back. The man cried out, ‟What shall I do?” Although his conviction of sin resulted from reading the book, the book also contained the remedy: ‟Repent.”

Pilgrim wanted neither to die nor face the judgment. But something had to be done. What? Appointed to help him, Evangelist pointed to his way of escape. Ahead lay a gate that doesn’t come into view until light shines upon it. God’s Word is this light (Psalm 119:105).

God’s Word is truly a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), for while it admonishes us about sin, it also shows us the way to be rid of sin (Romans 5:21). Evangelist led Pilgrim to the light. We all need qualified leaders, equipped with biblical truth and a passion to witness to others about God’s truth. Their qualifications put into practice the direct path to God.

My Takeaway: As a teenager I was thankful for a Sunday school teacher who gave opportunity for students to make a personal decision for Christ. She took this seriously, for she even withheld her own pre-teen son from joining the church after attending membership class. Being a Christ-follower is more important than being a church member.

Your Turn: How were you introduced to biblical truth?

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Last Things

C.S. Lewis wrote a small journal titled First Things. Lately I’ve been thinking about “last things.” In my NASB Bible at the end of First Peter, I had handwritten: “Bill’s last sermon at WGC, TH, IN – 7-27-08.”

Leaf droplets.SG

However, that Sunday sermon was not Bill’s last message. Instead, it was a meditation for the unity service on Good Friday of 2017 at Free Life Community Church. Other pastors participated, and Bill’s message was last. He took more time than had been allotted, but from the comments of those in attendance they did not object. After the service, one World Gospel Church member expressed her appreciation for hearing Bill speak. I reminded her that Bill repeated himself several times. She said, “But we needed to hear that again.”

The pattern of repetition is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease that has taken Bill’s memory captive. And it’s the reason we moved from our home on Highway 40 in Terre Haute to Indianapolis where we share a home with our daughter and her husband. We left Terre Haute mid-July 2017, and since then, Bill has no longer been able to preach and teach publicly.

Other last times would include when I saw my dad and mother before their deaths in 1983 and 2006. As Bill and I drove away from their apartment in Mobile, AL, I knew that would be the last time I’d see my daddy. We siblings had been there to plan our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Dad made it only a week past their 49th anniversary, on the same day our first grandchild was born.

For Mother, I had been visiting her in the assisted living facility, and for the first and last time I used my “power of attorney” as I told the medic to take her to the hospital. From there she was transferred to a critical care facility before she died a short while later. Mother was 90½, whereas Daddy died three months before his 74th birthday.

Other last times may be insignificant to some but important to me.  I recall seeing my last client at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, my last time to drive on the Interstate, my last trip on an airplane, and my last visit with friends before they passed on into eternity. Through it all, God has been good to me.

For that last sermon Bill preached at World Gospel Church, he used as his text I Peter 5:5-10. The subject is about clothing oneself with humility. Peter stated, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (v. 6). That’s a beautiful definition for humility, for what better place could we find ourselves than under God’s mighty hand as we experience our last times?

Friends

Through the years I have had the privilege of many friendships in various places and with numerous connections. The name of one childhood friend gave my kids a good laugh. Her name was Florida Holiday, pronounced Flo-ree′-da.

Banker.Morrow.A&B.201904.4Some friends have been life-long, even when we don’t see each other often or live nearby. It’s  been rightly said that as soon as we meet again, we pick up where we left off. Bill and I have two friends in Wilmore, Kentucky, who are in that category.

The term BFF (best friends forever) could be applied to friends we’ve met and kept because of common interests from church, school, and the pro-life ministry. The scripture about a friend who “sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24) describes those friends who have been with us during times when life was tough, when circumstances shook up our world.

Bill has often said that we have found friends in church ministry who have become as close as our own family. We have sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers among members of several churches where we’ve served. They would do anything for us. These connections are strong ties, and we’re grateful.

Those who follow us on Facebook are counted as “friends.” And for most that is a true title, but some are listed under the heading of acquaintances. I’ve sometimes asked myself, “How do I know these people? On what is our relationship based?” Threads are needed to connect friends.

In the last few years, we have been losing friends through death. I’ve put a DOD (date of death) beside their name in church directories. We are no longer able to pay tribute to them, to share how much they contributed to our lives. I send sympathy cards and I’ve given memorial gifts, but that doesn’t say enough. We love them and wish their family and friends well. I pray for the God of all comfort to be near their family.

We must not forget. Friends are our cherished gifts from God.

Why Is The Pilgrim’s Progress Popular?

Books.tied

John Bunyan wrote his allegory while he was in prison. His views were not accepted by the authorities (government and registered church). Since his book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, was first published in 1678, it has never been out of print and has appeared in numerous editions and languages. This classic has been around for a long time, 342 years ago, in fact. So why has its popularity lasted? What’s so important about a story of one man’s journey? For one thing, it’s not your usual travel novel. Even the towns from here to there emphasize the story’s purpose: Christian (the pilgrim) left the City of Destruction and made his way to the Celestial City.

An allegory is a journalistic devise to move the reader into the story―to connect one’s own life with the tale. This particular journey, the destination, the rest stops, and each character in the story reflect how a Christian acts out his daily life.

Bunyan wraps his tale around Scripture and in some editions, the publishers include these original references. Note the names of places that bear out his purpose: The Slough of Despond, the Interpreter’s House, Vanity Fair, and the Hill of Difficulty. Characters’ names reveal their true inner disposition: Faithful, Hopeful, Pliable, Ignorance, and Lord Hate-good. Christian must also deal with his own faults and failings, like pride and doubt.

The Pilgrim’s Progress has become a classic in Christian literature, influencing biblical scholars like Oswald Chambers and J. I. Packer. Because of the book’s saturation with Scripture, Charles Spurgeon commended Bunyan: “Prick him anywhere, . . . the very essence of the Bible flows from him.”

Bunyan’s masterpiece has the potential to be life-changing, but it must be read and applied. Sadly, it often sits on a shelf, unread. Some people find the original language difficult. Others are not fond of allegory. Still others like the story but don’t make personal application. The book’s riches are thus left unmined, which leaves them poor.

I’ve written a companion book, Journey with Bunyan’s Pilgrim, a resource to help readers get as much out of this classic as possible. My book’s format has thirteen six-day weeks. Each day includes a brief commentary on a portion of Bunyan’s book, a devotional thought on how Scripture connects with everyday life, and a question for the readers’ reflection, with an option to respond with journaling. Because both scholars and ordinary people (like me) have discovered spiritual richness in Bunyan’s classic, my passion grew to provide this guide for people to learn and apply what’s in store for our every-day journey with Christ.

2020 Social Distancing

hands with latex gloves holding a globe with a face mask Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

This is an often-talked-about topic, and I’m writing not with a political or medical approach, but more from a personal angle about feelings. That’s harder to express and not get in the way of how others feel.

I miss connecting and being with family and friends. You do too. For several months of Sundays, we have not been able to have the grandsons and their wives over for dinner. Bill and I are the reason for that decision, for we are the old folks, the ones most at risk. Father’s Day was the first time they visited, and we had a happy reunion.

Bill has not understood why we could not go to church. We would explain, but he would ask again. One day Paul showed him a world map to indicate how the virus is worldwide, not only in Indianapolis, not only for our church. That would last only until the question arose the following Sunday. Now for three Sundays we have gone to church, but wearing the masks poses another question of why. And under his mask he doesn’t sing along. We sit for an hour, separated from other worshipers and then return home. Good to be together, but different.

Doctors have begun to keep rescheduled appointments, and we abide by the restrictions. For the first visit, Bill asked why we had to wear a mask. Again I explained about the virus, and he said nothing like this has happened in his lifetime. I agreed. Lately he just puts on the mask.

I emphasize with those who live alone, but I don’t call or write them enough. What do I say? How can I help? It’s all a sad part of the disconnect.

In the midst of this pandemic, I sense the disconnect in my attitude and have to curb my imagination. If I feel left out of an activity or a conversation, what does that say about our relationship? Inviting myself to a pity party is too easy. I beg myself to take reasonable steps back to what’s the truth.

One step that’s proven beneficial involves technology. I have been a part of several Zoom meeting with groups related to writing and volunteer positions. One Zoom meeting with friends in Oregon got me to yearn for more. From Paul I learned how to invite others to a Zoom visit. One visit with my sister in NM made us both happy. Next week we’ll meet with my brother in OK. The three of us are in different time zones, so I had to research that for setting the start time. These visual visits are also good to help Bill connect relationships. I’ll soon plan some time with other family and friends. I’m on to something.