My Siblings

Laird Kids.NO2

I am the oldest of four siblings. My sister Minnie is two years younger. My sister Martha is eight years my younger. Our brother Tom is ten years younger than I am. Mother had a miscarriage between Minnie and Martha, and the doctor told her not to get pregnant again. But Mother and Dad wanted a son. Martha was born next, and two years to the month Tom was born. We siblings seemed to be in two sets. Minnie and I often babysat for Martha and Tom.

I called Martha my “little bit” when she arrived for she looked so small. Soon her crib was moved into my room. In at least two different houses all three of us girls shared a bedroom. At one house our bedroom had a bunk bed and a double bed. In another we had three single beds, called ‟Hollywood” beds because they had no headboards. Of course, we had lots of talks and plenty of giggles, often late into the night, and we had to be shushed. If I would read too long after the required time for lights out, Minnie would start yawning to get me to stop reading so she could sleep. She forced the yawning, but it got results.

Martha, being so much younger, became a tag-along when Minnie and I would play together or with friends. For a while Martha was more like our child than a sister, for we were responsible for her well-being. We had to watch out for her, but that was fine with us.

One incident stands out. Mother was whipping something in the electric mixer and Martha was watching. She got too close and the beaters caught and pulled her hair. Mother screamed and cut off the current, but not before some of Martha’s hair had been pulled out and the beaters cut her scalp. This traumatic accident left us all wary of watching too closely.

Tom was the darling of us siblings, for after all he was the youngest and the only boy. We liked pampering him, even using baby talk when helping him at meals and such. Once while he was eating I gave him another helping, and as usual I told him to say, ‟Ta Ta.” He immediately corrected me, ‟No.” Then he said, ‟Thank you.” Surprised, I laughed, and that pleased him.

Pilgrim’s Progress — Pliable

2 Roads Converge

Two neighbors, Obstinate and Pliable, decided to follow Pilgrim with the intent to force him to return home. As with all of Bunyan’s characters, names reveal their inner nature. Up to this point we know Pilgrim only as ‟the Man,” but when he answered their inquiry, his true name is used—Christian. Bunyan explained that Christian sought an incorruptible inheritance. Obstinate would have none of it, and he pulled in the opposite direction, begging Pliable to return with him. Curious enough, Pliable went a little further with Christian, attracted by the pleasantries of a kingdom, crowns, and shining garments.

Distracted while talking, the two travelers fell heedlessly into the Slough of Despond. Ah, this became the dividing of wills, for Pliable this way brought no quick and easy happiness. He got out of the slough (deep bog, marsh) on the side next to his house and left.

While Obstinate was set in his way, unwilling even to listen to Christian’s resolve, Pliable was without any root, much like the seed planted in rocky soil. He saw joy at first, but when trouble came, he was neither ready nor able to learn and grow. I find in my desire to have a consistent devotional life that it takes a resolve of intentional living. Being rooted in the Word results in negatives being weeded out and positive nutrients added on a daily basis.

What does ‟Slough of Despond” mean to you personally?

Foundation of Hope


During free time at a conference in Chicago, Illinois, a group of us toured the Sears Tower, now renamed the Willis Tower. This 1450-foot skyscraper has 110 stories, at one time the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Up on the observation deck, a model structure explained the massive construction. Although not visible, the tower’s strong foundation makes it possible to withstand the strong winds in Chicago. The 100-foot cement foundation also includes embedded cylinders for added strength. This is indeed a strong foundation.

Bill Mansell, a life coach, recorded on video his impression of the Sears Tower. He made application to our lives—that we need character-building values for a strong foundation to support our daily lives. I’m reminded of Jesus’ story about houses built on either rock or sand. (See Luke 6:46-49.) Only those houses built on a strong foundation will withstand the winds of change in our lives. All other support is sand. Since Christ is the foundation of faith, we have hope in no other.

We have a sure hope in the foundation of Christ’s “precious blood” (1 Peter 1:19). We are born anew by the imperishable seed “through the living and enduring word of God” (v. 23). That is the sure foundation of our hope. Praise Jesus!

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come. Be thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home! –Isaac Watts 

The Rock is Jesus. Build life on His firm foundation.

–The major part of this was first published in Opening the Word, Herald and Banner Press, Saturday, April 6, 2019, based on 1 Peter 1:17-21

God’s Will – Pastor Bill Coker

This will give you an idea of the format of Bill’s sermons (with a bit of change due to copy and paste). ~AC



Acts 22:14 (1-16)

In Paul’s testimony about being confronted by the risen Christ, two questions:

      Who are you, Lord?What shall I do, Lord?

Important, because they are equally significant for us:

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? ║ What does God want us to do?

There is an inseparable relationship between believing and living. As we noted last week in commenting on Paul’s differentiation between external religious practice and internal spiritual reality, we are genuinely Christian only if that relationship is maintained and is actually working in our lives.

We want to focus today on Paul’s second question, What shall I do, Lord?

  • and on the statement which Ananias made to him in Damascus: The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will.

Not hard to believe, because we know that God chose Paul to be the “apostle to the Gentiles.” God sometimes has specific tasks for specific people, and He makes known to those people His purposes for their lives.

But, CAN WE KNOW THE WILL OF GOD? Are we also appointed to know God’s will? In a sense, this is more difficult for us than the idea of a personal encounter with God. (Because we tend to equate experience = emotion; whereas knowing = reason.) Maybe in a general sense, but can we know in particular?

FIRST, we need to settle the relationship between God’s will and what happens to us.

> Common explanation of both tragedies and blessings. But is everything that happens to us the will of God? Leslie Weatherhead, The Will of God.

  1. What God Purposes

> Does God order tragedies for which we would put a person in jail or in an institution for the criminally insane?

–As Weatherhead asks, do we resist the will of God in attempts to save the dying?

> What about sin and the effects of sin?

–Did God command Adam & Eve not to eat and then will them to do it?

> Clearly, God’s sovereignty does not negate human freedom

–John Calvin, who argued strongly for predestination, also argues that people sin of their own free choice.

> Some things have happened to you and will happen to you that are not God’s purpose for your life.

  1. What God Permits

> Not all that happens is God’s will; yet nothing happens outside of His will

–Tragedy and injustice are permitted to happen.

–Horns of the “Great Dilemma”: God’s omnipotence ║ love

> Price of human freedom. We are not just victims!

–How often we see people who are bitter toward God for their own consequences.

> God’s restrictive activity

–Case in point is found in Job’s life. God restricts Satan’s power to test

Job: Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself do not put forth your hand. .   . . . Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life.

–Similarly, Paul’s promise to the Corinthians:

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (I Cor. 10:13).

> God’s miraculous intervention

–Two errors into which people fall:

  1. Some have trouble believing that God ever intrudes into life
  2. Others want to make God’s intrusion a promise to everyone

–Placing ourselves in His will to make the most out of whatever He allows

  1. What God Promises

> Two promises which every Christian can hold onto:

–Ultimate purposes of God are never defeated by present circumstances.

The will of God must not be considered apart from eternity.

The meaning of Romans 8:28. God weaves everything into His design:

  1. Our mistakes, our sins

2.  What others may do against us

Here is how we learn to handle what we view as tragedies

–The presence of God is in every place and the provision of God is in every situation:

I will not leave you, nor forsake you (Jos 1:5)

Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

> One of John Newton’s hymns:

                  Though troubles assail, and dangers affright,

                   Though friends should all fail, and foes all unite,

                  Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,

                   The promise secures us, –The Lord will provide.

                   The birds, without barn or storehouse, are fed;

                   From them let us learn to trust for our bread:

                  His saints what is fitting shall ne’er be denied,

                   So long as ’tis written, –The Lord will provide.

                   When Satan appears to stop up our path,

                   And fills us with fears, we triumph by faith;

                  He cannot take from us (though oft he has tried)

                   The heart-cheering promise, –The Lord will provide.

                   No strength of our own, nor goodness we claim:

                   Our trust is all thrown on Jesus’s Name;

                  In this our strong tower for safety we hid;

                   The Lord is our power, –The Lord will provide.


Perhaps I’ve told this story before, but it’s a foundation for what’s on my mind today. When my siblings and I were young, we’d find out about an invitation to a party when Mother started to get us ready to go. She had already purchased the birthday gift, so all we had to do was get cleaned up and dressed in our party clothes. We were not allowed to anticipate the party. Why? Mother did not want to hear us ask (numerous times over): ‟When is it time to go?” As a mom myself, I can understand her reasoning. But anticipation is part of the fun. Don’t you agree?

Yesterday we anticipated the arrival of Chrissa and Leo from North Carolina. On Becky’s smartphone she saw text messages as to their ETA. This soon alerted us that their car broke down near Knoxville, TN. Bad news: transmission needed and costly. Good news: it had not happened while driving through the mountain range, but near a big city with a dealership. More good news: a car rental place ‟happened to be” across from the dealership. They decided to leave their car with the dealers until the return trip. A good rental car was made available for the rest of the journey to Indianapolis. Now they anticipate a decision whether to have the car fixed in Knoxville. Throughout their troubles, Leo decided not to get frustrated but to stay in control, to trust God for the answers. Their ‟detour” added about five hours to their trip and to our anticipation time.

Tomorrow our friends Bonnie and Mary Jo are coming here from Wilmore, Kentucky. We’ve not seen them since May 2015 when we attended Bill’s ATS Golden Grads celebration. We anticipate a good time together, playing catch-up on our lives’ journeys. We’ll also have the traditional chicken curry dinner on Monday.

Bloody Crown of Thorns

The grandest anticipation happens during this season of Lent. We look forward to celebrating Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and Easter Sunday in our church and with our family. Yes, even the crucifixion of Christ is worthy of celebration. He died for us. Jesus suffered as the sacrifice for our sins, so that we may celebrate His salvation. And after that is the big rejoicing day: He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose! That’s something to anticipate each year. In fact, every Sunday.

My Writing Life


I do not call myself an author because I’ve not published a book. That’s the distinction I make. I am a writer; that’s what I do. So what’s it all about – the why and the how?

The reason should come first. I’ve been motivated to write a mission statement. That sounds like a business term, and yet that’s what my writing is, a career, even though somewhat faulty. I write because I enjoy the struggle of writing. It’s not easy for me; the words don’t flow. But I write anyway. I want to write – to put my thoughts on paper (whether that’s in a journal or on the computer). Pages fill up with my thoughts. And then I share; I don’t write to be published. Yet it’s not enough to write for myself. I want others to know what I’m thinking, what moves me, what demands my attention. Editing is also a joy, getting it right – the proper grammar and the best words for relating and reacting. Writing demands re-writes; making sure it’s my best work.

Does that cover why I write? Not hardly. Pleasing God with my writing is important, whether that’s for my private journal or in a published devotional, article, or book. My writing must be acceptable to God, to honor Him and give Him due praise. God must shine through my writing.

How do I write? My day begins with reading God’s Word and writing reflections in a journal. Sometimes what I select is seasonal, like now during Lent, I’m reading the Gospels. I started with John because the major portion of his book is about Jesus’ last days. I even edit my journals, looking back over the day’s entry to make corrections. I keep white-out handy.

I have several writing projects going at the same time and choose one to work on most days of the week. I post a to-do list on my calendar: it may be starting an assignment for a devotional, adding to an incomplete article, or working on those two books in process. It’s not a strict discipline as to what I write, only that I do write. I don’t wait until I’m “inspired.” It’s a simple strategy, for writers write. Making time is now not a problem because I have the time. The problem is sticking to what’s a priority and eliminating distraction.

Writing includes the learning process, so I read about writing and also take courses. Taking notes (that’s also writing) is my way of collecting and connecting what I learn. An author and an agency are my favorite teachers: Jerry Jenkins and Steve Laube Agency’s Christian Writers Institute. Writers Conferences also help to contact publishers, agents, and other writers.

Looking over this piece there are a lot of “I’s” and yet it’s a personal work. Most sentences start with the subject, and that subject is me. So I went back and edited. As to how I put words together to complete a project, that depends on the purpose of the work. Devotionals are quite different from a magazine article. So is this blog. Thanks for reading what I write.

What do you see?


What we see:

  • Yields attitudes and actions
  • Understands it may or may not be true
  • What is not + What is + What can be

What does a University or Church see?

  • Past – “Hold the fort” mentality

Tradition – Pleases our forbearers

Orthodox, but not opportune

  • Present – “Status Quo” mentality

Don’t rock the boat – Pleases our constituency

Secure, but not satisfying

  • Future – “Visionary” mentality

Serves our age best by always becoming

Risky, but not rancid

We need the past – the value of tradition (as long as it serves).

We need the present – the value of continuity (as long as it works).

We need the future – the value of anticipation (as long as it’s true).

Bill Coker’s outline notes for a message (1991). You fill in the application.