Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Spiritual Implications Of Rain Gutters

Saturday Rex and Donald teased me about having no sense of humor.

I do have a sense of humor.

But we were dealing with a serious situation.

Over the past several weeks I have painted our house. One major thing remained to be done — attaching rain gutters. I could not do this by myself. Last week in lifting a heavy lawnmower onto a work table to repair it I pulled a muscle in my side and that injury combined with my arthritis, prostate cancer and quiver tremors leave me in such pain that I have trouble bending over or lifting my right hand as high as my head.

So I had to ask my friend Rex and my son Donald for help.

I hate asking anybody for help.

I’m proud of doing things my self.

Too damn proud.

Rex and Donald responded willingly. But they found my afflictions funny as I’d grunt and groan whenever I tried to lift anything. They laughed at my pain and accused me of having no sense of humor.

Here’s a photo of them riveting rain gutter sections together:

Now, before they began, I’d painted the house to perfection. No drips. No spills. All lines crisp and straight. Then Rex and Donald showed up. Here’s a photo of them just getting started:

They leaned ladders against my perfect paint job and swung like monkeys from my roof. No I did not find their riveting and caulking and drilling and grinding and chopping and leveling and snapping the chalk line at all funny. And they said I have no sense of humor. I felt they were in dire need of adult supervision — which I, pipe of wisdom in hand, supplied:

Rex is an experienced contractor. He took Saturday away from building his own new home to put up these rain gutters for me. We’d agreed that I would ride to the hardware store with him and buy the materials with my credit card but before he came to my house Rex went to the store and bought all the materials out of his own pocket as an act of charity. He also brought over professional tools for the job: several different kinds of ladders and drills and grinders and cutters and riveting tools.

Here he is on a ladder attaching rain gutter:

And here is a photo of Rex and Donald smudging my newly painted walls while they accused me of having no sense of humor:

Is it any wonder that I have no sense of humor?

The photos show what a nice paint job I did while working by myself before these two showed up to help.

Here is what my house looks like after the two of them finished showing off their own skill, precision and craftsmanship:

Who says I don’t have a sense of humor?

Now I turn to the serious spiritual implications of installing rain gutters.

And this proved indeed serious for me.

I’m ashamed at what I’m about to write.

As well I should be!

This is so squalid.

I should be a better Christian than this — but I’m not.

This next reveals the way I am, not the way I should be.

The bottom line is that instead of feeling grateful to Rex and Donald for their help, I feel resentful.

The did a beautiful job for me, but I resent having to ask for help in the first place, I resent that the job did not start when it was supposed to and will take another week to complete. I resent that they did things in a different manner that I would have done it had I been able to. I resent feeling helpless and dependant on the charity of my friend and son. I resent the prospect of having construction clutter around for another week. I resent lacking the skill or the tools or the strength to finish this job myself.

Isn’t that pathetic?

Here Rex and Donald gave up a huge chunk of their weekend. Each paid cash out of their own pockets for materials and food and cokes. They went to a great deal of inconvenience to help me. They coped with my lack of humor and bitching and armchair supervision.

And instead of appreciating their sacrifices, I grow bitter.


But typical.

As my grandfather used to say, “Some folks would complain if you was to hang ‘em with a brand new rope”.

That’s me.

When I talked over my spiritual darkness with Ginny, she said that I resent God because He is answering my prayer for help, but doing it in a different manner than the way I envisioned it. I want Him to do it the way I want Him to do it!

She said I’m resentful because I’m not in total control.

She said that everything in life is a spiritual test.

Even installing rain gutters — or watching someone else install them — carries spiritual implications

Both giving help, and receiving it, measures our devotion to Christ.

When it comes to getting a job done, the process matters more than the outcome.

The building Rex, Donald and I have been working on will not last forever, the relationship I build with my friend, with my son, and with my wife will.

The only thing in the world that lasts forever is people.

All that may be true — But, I do too have a sense of humor!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:57 AM

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Boats & Scripture

One day earlier this week, (I forget which day because all this house painting and home repair blend my past two months into one long day), anyhow maybe Tuesday my friend Barbara White happily interrupted my painting to take me to breakfast at Dave’s Diner.

As usual our conversation ranged over a wide variety of topics from activities of children to recently-read books.

At one point she made a telling remark that has stayed with me.

I told her about a 700+ page book I’ve been reading, a survey of the Old Testament. The authors examine various theories of inspiration. They critique Wellhausen’s theory about J, E, P and Q sources, and they compare biblical chapters with ancient Ugarit texts. They delve into possible sources Bible writers and editors may have used in transmitting God’s Word.

Years ago I wrote a light newspaper column about Bible transmission so I’m a bit familiar with the scholars’ approach to Scripture. And I find their speculations interesting but curious.

It’s good to know that such scientists as archaeologists, paleographers, papyrologists, translators and textual critics devote such intense study to the Bible. Their researches are far beyond my understanding but it’s good to know that such scholars exist.

Saint Peter said, “Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.

And Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”

The interesting thing is that both Peter and Paul use nautical terms for the words moved and inspiration. It’s as though they were talking about a breath of wind filling the sails of a ship to push it through the sea.

I’ve read in my ponderous Old Testament Survey up to the book of the prophet Amos, a man who claimed to be no prophet nor the son of a prophet. Yet he was moved by the Spirit to write.

I think of the biblical writers as different kinds of boats moved by the wind to the same port. Some books like John’s three letters seem like windsurfers darting over the waves on a surfboard with a sail attached. Others like Paul’s letters remind me of oil tankers heavy-laden with crude to be refined into energy for running our daily lives with gas for electricity, cars and lawnmowers. James and Peter’s letters resemble fishing boats bringing in a practical catch. Isaiah is a container ship plowing through rough seas carrying the treasures of the Orient. The Psalms are a runabout with a leisure fishermen lounging while dangling a line in the water. Canticles is a pleasure yacht and the Pentateuch is a tug — all moved across the water by the breath of God and all sailing to and from the same port.

And on every boat, there’s some poor glob crawling around on hands and knees chipping paint.

That’s me.

Hey, it all can’t be pretty imagery.

Anyhow, as I enthused to my friend Barbara about Ugaritic texts and papyrology, she related how she was touched to tears by the Good Friday service at her church.

“John,” she said, “I don’t believe in God because of the Bible; I believe the Bible because of God”.

She’s way ahead of me in understanding Scripture.

Oh, the Four Gospels?

What kind of ship are they?

I picture a brilliant white cruise ship with the Captain welcoming passengers at the head of the gangplank and saying, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:26 AM

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Staring At The Walls

Back on January 17th when I began the project of repairing and painting our home, in my mind’s eye I envisioned the project as looking something like this:

Yesterday when I finished painting, except for minor touchup spots, I see that in reality our home actually looks like this:

Also, back on January 17th when I began this project, in my mind’s eye I envisioned my self as looking something like this:

Yes, James Bond bares an uncanny resemblance to me in my own mind’s eye. However, yesterday when I finished painting, except for minor touchup spots, I see that in reality I actually look like this:

These reality checks tip me off to the fact that recently I’ve spent too much time staring at the walls.


When you paint a house using brush and roller, you spend a lot of time staring at the walls. For two months now I’ve examined the walls of our house again and again for signs of termites or wood rot. I looked for protruding nail heads, for cracks, for crevasses, for warped wood, for grooves, for uneven spots, and for misplaced drips of tar or paint.

I’ve looked at the walls so closely that I lost sight of the home.

I’ve avoided friends, skipped church, stopped blogging, growled at Ginny, alienated my children, slighted neighbors, neglected reading, forgotten God — all in the name of repairing our home.

That’s a problem I have with undertaking any BIG project; it becomes the be-all, end-all of life, a life we were meant to enjoy. The project lures us into living for it.

Yes it is nice to have the house painted and looking crisp.

But the price has been costly — and I don’t mean the money we’ve spent at Home Depot, although they greet me by name there now.

Incidentally speaking of money, while I’ve been painting, this past weekend, Ginny brought her computer out to the living room and hooked up it to mine and calculated our taxes for last year. Here’s a photo of her smiling and celebrating over the tax return (you can guess which computer is mine):

Have I been saying that we should never undertake BIG projects?

Not at all.

But I need to pick more important projects than house painting to obsess over, to focus on.

The Scripture says, “Thou, Lord, wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee”.

Even while doing other things, important things, it is possible to keep our minds stayed on Him. The sentence prayer. The quick, “I love you, Lord”. The whispered intercession. The hymn beneath our breath. The unspoken question. The thought of Christ. The remembered need. The prick of conscience. The second of repentance. The surge of thanksgiving. — These are true heart worship.

And we can do them with a paintbrush in hand.

Or a steering wheel.

Or a stethoscope

Or a spatula

Or a shovel.

Or even with a computer mouse in hand. Because worship is not so much what your hand does, but where your heart is.

Yes, the wise man does indeed build his house upon the rock.

But me?. I live in Florida where there is nothing but sand to build on. The next hurricane may mar the paint I’ve lathered on these walls so painstakingly. In fact it may take away the walls themselves.

It takes more than paint to build a home.

Building my relationship with Ginny, with our kids, and with our friends and neighbors ranks higher in priority than any amount of nailing, tarring or painting.

I tend to loose sight of that.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a forgiving God, a forgiving wife, forgiving kids and forgiving neighbors

Do you suppose that’s because of my uncanny resemblance to James Bond?

You mean you fail to see the resemblance?

Well then, I ask you this — just how many houses has James Bond ever painted!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:23 AM

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Healthy Boy

Last Friday while Ginny visited her doctor, I sat alone in the waiting area midway along a long hall, a long wide hall which stretches for at least 40 yards.

The outside door opened and a grandfather entered dragging a protesting little boy. The kid looked to be between six and nine years old and he did not want to go to a doctor’s appointment.

“I don’t want to go in there! I don’t want to go in there,” he screamed.

The unrelenting grandfather tugged the kid by the arm to the registration desk to sign in. The kid struggled. He refused to move his feet and his grandfather pulled him across the slick floor, his heels sliding and leaving scuff marks.

“I don’t want to go in there! I don’t want to go in there,” the kid screamed.

As they passed me, the kid screamed, “Don’t make me go in there. I don’t need to go in there! I’m a Healthy Boy”!

The unmerciful grandfather ignored the healthy boy’s protests and carried him through some double doors to a pediatric area behind me. I could still hear the boy protesting at top volume.

Soon a loud commotion broke out.

The double doors burst open.

Here ran the boy down the hall racing for the outside door with a nurse in hot pursuit and the grandfather panting in a distant third.

The kid almost made the 40 yards to the door before the nurse collared him. She held the fugitive till the grandfather arrived and the two of them dragged the boy stiff legged back down the corridor.

At the top of his lungs the boy screamed, “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die”!

They passed through the double doors out of my sight.

Silence reigned.

Up till then I’d been the only person in the waiting area, but now various people wandered in to take a seat. One family arrived with two little girls, six or seven by the look of them; they settled in to look at magazines while waiting their turn in pediatrics.

The double doors opened and out came the disheveled nurse, and the harried grandfather.

The healthy boy marched smugly in a straight line a few paces behind them.

As he passed the two little girls, the healthy boy turned his head sharply and said in a conspiratorial aside to them, “It doesn’t hurt a bit”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 2:15 AM

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jesus Rose or Rotted

Easter approaches and I hope to finish painting before Sunday.

The problem with Easter is that it comes but once a year.

The root foundation of the Christian faith is that Jesus is Lord of life proven by His resurrection from the dead.

He rose or He rotted.

If He rotted, nothing He said or did counts for anything.

If He rose, nothing except for what He said or did counts for anything.

If He’s dead, he’s dead. He’s just another 180 pounds of worm food — Like the rest of us.

But if He lives, then not only does He live for ever, but He lives each and every day and is with us as much on Groundhog Day as on Easter.

Anyhow, with Easter approaching and painting still to be done, I’ve been around and around our house on a ladder painting odd crannies. And I’ve crawled around and around our house on my hands and knees clearing roots and painting foundation brickwork. Now it’s time for the walls.

This job proved harder than I expected. My hands cramp, my back aches, my knees hurt. My arms grow stiff…

I’ll swear, I feel like a 70-year-old man!

But I’m still young yet; I won’t even be 69 for another four months.

My beloved Ginny is taking a few days off work to enjoy a long weekend together — not painting! To focus on time with her, I plan on not making journal entries again till one day toward the middle of next week.

Jesus will still be the living Lord of Life then too.

Yes, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We can relish His presence and enjoy His comfort and wonder at His will and rejoice in His springtime, and we can experience love.

Unless, of course, He rotted in the grave.

Then we can eat hard-boiled eggs.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:59 AM

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Missed A ... BANG!

Over the past three weeks, I have concluded that the words “You missed a spot” constitute grounds for justifiable homicide.

Want to know anything else about how my paint the house project is going?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:49 AM

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Voices From The Blue

Over the weekend Ginny and I joined other volunteers from our MED Neighborhood Crime Watch group and hundreds of other volunteers from Jacksonville’s Green It Up/Clean It Up Division in their 13th annual river Spring cleaning project.

That means we chopped weeds and picked up trash along our Adopt A Road stretch of Willow Branch Avenue.

For our efforts we each got a tee shirt with the River Celebration logo:

That's a picture of an otter, not one of our celebrated river rats (which are much larger).

I continued painting our house and fretting that I’m not getting any writing done.

Last night Ginny said that if I really wanted to write, I’d be writing.

She’s right.

That’s discouraging and I got to sulking about how my writing has no value.

What a downer.

Now, years ago I wrote a profile of St. Patrick of Ireland; it’s a chapter in my book Strangers On The Earth. And at 4 this morning when I turned on my computer to start work, I received the following e-mail:

Dear John,

About 28 years ago, you wrote a great short story on St. Patrick in HIS magazine (IVP). And that article so fascinated me, that I wrote you and asked you if you would mind if I photocopied it and sent it to family, friends, fiends and even the local newspaper and you sent me a nice note saying something to the effect that you were flattered that anyone would care. Anyhow, I continue to send it out to my family, friends and have substituted fiends for neighbors.

In my early days, I went to St. Patrick’s grade school and church and was an altar boy for the priests and bishop when he was in town (Walla Walla-if you can believe that). And during those 16 years, I (and everyone around me) was completely uninformed about St. Patrick even tho we had lots of statues of him, said prayers to him and even my Uncle was named Patrick…and the whole bunch of us were clueless as to who he was.

It has not been since becoming a “protest-ant”, that I learned from your article and others, what a godly, focused, grateful, caring, in-your-face, kind of guy he was. So again, thanks.

So Friday, I was trying to send my son , Colin … a copy of your story and I got fouled up on the transfer of files. My daughter, Shannon, found your website and I have been cruising through it… And I am looking forward to hearing from you and reading some of your other works.

Thanks again for bringing St. Patrick out of obscurity … and for bringing joy to many others. I have given the article to bartenders, saints, sinners, relatives, Greeks, Jews, even Catholics. And of course, I still enjoy the looks on the Irish faces when I tell them….he was English.. Ha, what irony God bestows on us..

Just about every year for the last 25+ years, our tradition on St. Paddy’s Day is to cook up some potatoes in some fashion, maybe have corn beef and cabbage (tho the origins of all that is dubious) and read your article to family and friends gathered around the table. Thanks for being part of our family and our history.

Have a memorable St. Patrick’s Day…… and may we participate in getting the “Good News” out to our “pagan Picts” compelled in love, just like Patrick.


That e-mail certainly gave me a lift.

From 28 years ago!

Maybe when I finish painting the house in another two or three days, I’ll find spirit, energy and time to start writing again.

My history of the Jacksonville Fire Department still simmers on the back burner awaiting my attention. But at the moment, I’m spending as much time on top of a ladder as any fireman in Jacksonville!

Yes, instead of going to church, I spent Palm Sunday painting.

Is painting a sin?

Must be.

The only place in the Bible I recall anyone painting anything was when Jesus compared some hypocrites to sepulchres which had been whitewashed outside but inside were filled with rot.

Jesus never whitewashed anything.

That reminds me of a joke:

Wayne was a painter, a sly one. He discovered that he can stretch his water-based latex paint and make it go farther by thinning it with more water.

And he thinned his paint a lot.

One day he got a contract from a little country church to paint their white clapboard building. So he got out his scaffolding and began painting, adding water to the paint again and again.

As he neared the end of the job, there came a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened and rain poured down.

It washed the thinned paint from the church walls.

The thinned useless paint ran down the walls and puddled on the ground.

Conviction of sin overcame Wayne.

He fell to his knees and cried out: "Dear God, forgive me! What should I do?"

From the thunder, a voice rang out: "Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:54 AM

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Preparations For Things To Come

I’m still painting.

Actually, I’m getting ready to paint.

Most of my work for the past two weeks has been preparing the walls of our house rather than actually applying paint to them.

The preparations to work consume more time than the actual work.

For instance, I’ve removed the rain gutters so I’ll be able to paint the wood behind them. And, I’ve uprooted plants growing against the foundations so I can paint the tier of cinderblock at ground level; yesterday alone this last project generated eight garbage cans overflowing with old leaves and mulch and plant clippings.

As part of our home security system, years ago I planted vicious thorn bushes under each window. That’s a great deterrent for would-be burglars — and for housepainters.

To prove it, scores of gnashes and slashes puncture my hands and forearms.

As I’ve worked, it occurs to me that before I lay hands on a paintbrush, most of the work of house painting involves preparation. And I look at my spiritual life of which I so often despair because I’m so shallow and waffle in my dedication to Christ.

I wonder if I expect too much of myself.

Maybe most of my life is preparation too.

No wonder God has spent the past 68 years preparing John Cowart.

Look at the raw material He has to work with!

His hands got scared too.

During off moments, for pleasure I’ve been reading a 696-page book, a survey of the complete Old Testament. The authors come across as mealy-mouthed about many things but they capture my attention with the scope and grandeur of God’s actions in history.

The Lord God is not distant.

In Him we live and move and have our very being.

The authors’ evaluation of Samson particularly touched me the other day:

The story of Samson has been told and retold both in expurgated form and in lurid detail. What is to be made of a man who cavorted with Philistine women… The story becomes somewhat bizarre… By Samson’s folly of stupidity, the secret of his great strength is discovered….The Philistines are able to bind him, put out his eyes, and imprison him… In a final burst of strength accompanied by a cry to Yahweh, Samson collapses a Philistine temple by pulling away the pillars that support the roof, killing a large number of Philistines.

The story of Samson certainly illustrates no New Testament ethic!

He was selfish and showed little or no control of his passions… a negative religious hero—an example of what God’s charismatic individual should NOT be…

Yet, Samson trusts in Yahweh and is put in situations precisely for the purpose of punishing Philistines. In Hebrews, Samson is named as one of the great herons of faith (Heb.11:32ff).

The lesson of the Judges is, above all, that those who are dedicated to Yahweh can be used by Yahweh.

Elements in their lives may not be in keeping with the Lord’s will.

Their methods may not stand up as exemplary…

Again and again God’s servants fall short in their private and public thoughts and acts… Nonetheless, because of their dedication, Yahweh could use them to deliver Israel from its oppressors and to keep the tribal federation alive until Israel was ready for the next stage in His great redemptive purpose.

I find that statement comforting.

In spite of folly, stupidity, negatives, unrestrained passions, lack of control…

Samson didn’t do anything right.

In every situation he goofed and had to bully his way out.

Yet, God found him usable and he’s numbered as a hero of faith.

Yes indeed, I find that comforting.

A Historic Note For The Kid In The Attic:

Last night’s tv news mentioned off hand an upturn in the number of flu cases in Jacksonville.

I find this intriguing because back in the 70s when I dug graves at Evergreen Cemetery, I stumbled across row upon row graves where whole families died within a day or two of each other during the Spanish Lady flu epidemic which swept the world at the end of World War I.

Then this morning I read a New York Times report that schools in Hong Kong, with out prior notice, abruptly closed yesterday because of a flu outbreak.

Over 500,000 students were dismissed.

The abrupt closing of the schools, announced late Wednesday night, prompted considerable alarm,” the Times said.

“As the closing of the schools reminded investors of the last lengthy school closing during the SARS outbreak, the Hong Kong stock market plunged 4.79 percent on Thursday, performing worse than any other Asian stock market except India’s as stock markets across Asia declined…”

In all 184 cases of flu have been reported in recent days.

The Hong Kong government assures everyone that this outbreak is seasonal flu — not Bird Flu.

The Times said, “Avian influenza is flu infection in birds. The disease is of concern to humans, who have no immunity against it. The virus that causes this infection in birds can mutate (change) to easily infect humans. Such mutation can start a deadly worldwide epidemic”.

Some officials object to the sudden school closing saying there is no need. “The government is telling people not to panic, but on the other hand is acting in panic,” one said.

“School systems in the United States sometimes close during seasonal influenza outbreaks, but typically wait until so many children and teachers have fallen ill that absenteeism is chronic and every child has already been exposed to the virus”, said Dr. Arnold S. Monto, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan.

Hong Kong may be acting responsibly in closing schools earlier, he said. Malik Peiris, a Hong Kong University microbiologist, said that three common strains of influenza viruses are now circulating in Hong Kong: A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and influenza B. But he said there was no sign of bird flu, which is A(H5N1).

“Is it H5N1? Definitely not,” Mr. Peiris said.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:34 AM

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fun With Hamartiology

My friend Wes and I have remained good friends for so many years because we disagree about so many things.

We enjoy playfully butting heads over life, prayer, politics, practice, and theology. And on some level we regard each other with great love, respect and admiration — even though he’s always wrong.

Yesterday he came over early and treated me to breakfast at Dave’s Dinner (I ought to own stock in that place) where our conversation ranged from personal issues to global corporate corruption.

We returned to my house where we puffed our pipes and talked for another three hours.

I’m trying to convince Wes, who is a Greek geek, to translate the Bible into modern English; he resists saying the King James Bible is clear enough to be understood by anyone who wants to.

But mainly our conversation focused on sin.

Wes pointed out a phrase often found in Ezekiel and Jeremiah about how mankind sins to provoke God to wrath. If I understand him correctly, Wes feels sin is deliberate, active, and intentional. Hatred of God and rebellion against Him.

I think Wes gives mankind too much credit for thought beforehand.

I think we blunder into sin without thought more than as a result of deliberate action. We live in an atmosphere so sin-laden that we seldom realize that things are sin. We just see them as the way things are and the normal way things are done. We live no more aware of sin than a fish is aware of water.

Wes pointed out the Scripture in Ezekiel where God says to the prophet:

Hast thou seen this, O son of man?
Is it a light thing to the house of Judah
that they commit abominations which they commit here?
For they have filled the land with violence,
and have returned to provoke Me to anger;
and lo, they put the branch to their nose.

At this point I veered away from the doctrine of sin to question the phrase “they put the branch to their nose”. I have no idea what that means. On one hand, I think of the phrase, “Wake up and smell the roses” and on the other hand, I envision a dog sniffing out a bush to pee on. I’m not sure which way Ezekiel meant it when he said sinners put the branch to their nose.

After Wes and I discussed corporate sin (gas companies, mortgage lenders and CEO profits) we moved on to political sins.

This week New York governor Eliot Spitzer got caught paying $5,500 to a prostitute. That’s one wicked price to pay! Now many, including Wes, feel Spitzer should be put out of office for moral turpitude.

I contend that the man’s sex life, while wrong as a sin against God and his wife, has no bearing on his ability to govern and he should remain in office. After King David screwed Bath-Sheba, Uriah’s wife, God still allowed him to govern and blessed him.

“Spoken like a true Clinton defender,” Wes said.

Wes teases me about being a Democrat while he remains unenlightened.

After we disagreed about sin on global, corporate, and political levels, we talked about personal sin and personal temptations.

No reason to reveal the stuff Wes said, but we got a hardy laugh about a sin I’m struggling with at the moment — I want to steal an ashtray.

Yes, the lure of petty theft tempts me continually. Has all my life.

And even though I have a cabinet full of ashtrays, since I saw a unique one at a neighbor’s home last week, I’ve been obsessed with ways I can steal it.

“But you haven’t given in to that temptation,” Wes said.

“Yes, but I still may. I’m trying to figure out how to steal it,” I said.

Isn’t that pathetic?

I don’t need that ashtray. I have plenty of my own ashtrays. But I’m still lured by that one. I’d bet that if I were to ask, my neighbor would even give the thing to me, but I want to steal it without her knowing that I took it!

Isn’t that pathetic?

Rebellion against God or unthinking stupidity. Either way sin makes little sense.

But soon our conversation turned to happier things; we left off talking about the nature of sin and began talking about personal redemption.

We talked about the magnificence of Christ in dying for the two of us personally and for people in general.

We talked about the wonderment we each feel at God’s love.

We talked about how we often question the love of God as we see bitter life circumstances all around us daily.

Yes, God’s love is not always evident, in fact it is often obscure or downright invisible, which makes His love all the more an object of splendor and wonder at those rare times we are aware of it.

This morning I came across a quote from the 19th Century British preacher Charles Spurgeon where he said, “We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found”.

I think Wes and I agreed that the love of Christ resembles the Spurgeon quote. That for us the Lord God came down into the worst filthy mire of sin. He came of His own accord. We nailed Him down like a bug on a card and let Him wiggle there on naked display till He died. But the Lord of Life, by His resurrection, raises us up too.

No sin, even that one, is greater than God’s love.

Whether we drifted thoughtlessly into sin or whether we deliberately provoked God, makes for an interesting conversation about hamartiology, but the greatness and splendor of God Almighty remains beyond words.

Beyond wonder.

Well, enough about Christian fellowship!

This week I’ve done nothing but enjoy food and conversations with Ginny, Donald, Helen, Maggie, Marlin, Jennifer, neighborhood watch folks, Officer Grant, Barbara, and Wes.

It’s time for me to finish painting our house.

It would be a sin not to.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:38 AM

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Last Trump

Years ago on returning from a trip to Israel, my friend Barbara White brought me a shophar — what the King James Bible refers to as a trumpet.

In ancient times, warriors sounded this musical instrument (made from the horn of a ram) to warn of approaching enemies, to sound battle charges, to call people to worship the Lord, to celebrate new moons, to herald the king, to make announcements — to tell everyone everywhere, “Pay Attention — You’ve Got Mail”.

The unique haunting sound of the Trumpet of the Lord certainly commands attention.

I remembered my shophar, (which I had stored away) yesterday when Barbara came over and took me to breakfast at Dave’s Dinner.

Barbara is Bluefish Books’ best selling author of her Along The Way series and we discussed some fan feedback she got recently; two different sources used the same phrase about Barbara’s books. Each said, “Reading this book set me free me from a heavy burden I’ve been carrying for years”.

It’s feedback like that that makes writing books worthwhile.

Barbara and I also discussed Ezekiel’s experience in the valley of dry bones. The prophet preached to these crumbling relics and succeeded in bringing together flesh and tendons, but he still had a bunch of dead men before him. It was not until the Spirit of the Lord breathed on them that life appeared.

We talked about how we arrange and manipulate and finagle the dry things of our life circumstances to bring about the desired order, but until God breathes on our efforts, they remain dead, crumbling things.

We concluded that the essence of faith is the constant acknowledgement that, “The Lord, He is God. It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves”.

Every incident of faith tells me that He is God — and I’m not.

We also talked about small group dynamics; in her case a Bible study group, in mine, a neighborhood watch meeting which I chaired Monday night.

In our final meeting last Fall, the neighborhood watch suddenly, abruptly and unexpectedly elected me as this year’s coordinator. Monday night’s meeting was the first I was to chair and I felt extremely nervous about appearing before this group.

I carried along the shophar pictured above to talk about watchmen and warnings and the need for clear signals. We passed the shophar around the group as we planned our activities for the coming year.

Various people tried their hand at blowing the shophar.

Reminded me of the farting contests back when I was a Boy Scout.

But Jamie and Rick succeeded in blowing a blast on the shophar — much to the amusement and laughter of us all.

And I quoted the Scripture where Saint Paul said, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, then who shall arm himself for the day of battle”.

All this got our group off to a good start. Among anticipated events is for some of us to take training in Jacksonville’s Office of Emergency Management’s CERT program.

The initials stand for Civilian Emergency Response Teams. It’s based on the premise that in a major catastrophe (hurricane, tornado, terrorist attack, etc.) , each neighborhood may have to stand alone without outside help from three to ten days.

The CERT training would prepare us to rescue people trapped under debris, render first aid, fight fires, set up temporary morgues, etc.

Heavy stuff.

But practical.

As the high point of the Watch meeting, I told one of my great jokes!

(Did I hear my beloved Ginny moan?)

Three healthcare professionals, an ophthalmologist, a cardiologist, and the chief executive officer of a health maintenance organization, a died in an accident and appeared at the Pearly Gates.

The Admitting Angel greeted them saying, “Welcome, gentlemen. Welcome! I’m glad to see you here. But before I can admit you, each must give an account of his life and reasons you should get into Heaven. Who wants to start?”

The first man spoke up. “I was an ophthalmologist. I helped people better see the glories of God’s creation.”

“That’s wonderful,” exclaimed the Angel. “That’s really something. You go right on inside”.

The second man said, “In life I was a cardiologist. I repaired weak hearts, extended people’s lives, I even did a few heart transplants greatly improving my patients’ quality of life”.

That’s wonderful. How impressive,” said the Angel. “You go right on inside. Now, what about you?

“I was the CEO of an HMO. In my executive capacity I helped provide low-cost health care for thousands of clients who might not have otherwise had access to hospital care. At the same time I provided optimum profits for our shareholders”.

“That’s wonderful,” exclaimed the Angel. ”You go right on inside… But…”

“BUT! What do you mean But’” demanded the CEO.

“Well, you are admitted to Heaven, but you’re only allowed to stay for three days”.

Did I just hear somebody blow that shophar again?

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:47 AM

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Quick Weekend Notes

During the violent storm Friday, a thief broke into our next-door neighbor’s home and stole some stuff.

Then on Saturday, a cedar tree in that neighbor’s front yard split and fell ripping out their electric, phone and tv cable lines as well as tearing some shingles off their roof.

Tough weekend for our neighbors.

Saturday night Ginny used her superior mechanical skills to repair our DVD player which stopped working during an episode of Ginny’s favorite program. She skinned her knuckles pounding the machine. We bought a new DVD Player on Sunday.

I printed and handed out some neighborhood watch flyers for Monday’s meeting.

Over the weekend also Donald bought a motorcycle, and Helen bought a motor scooter which will scoot faster than 90 mph!

I got to try out Helen’s scooter.


Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:55 AM

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Some Spiritual Implications Of Tar

This continues yesterday’s diary entry:

Lightening strikes and tornado alerts forced me to shut down my computer Friday. During the storm I huddled in a hallway sipping hot tea, smoking my pipe, eating peppermint sticks, and reading a book on the archeology of London — a great way to weather the storm.

Weather authorities say between six and ten tornados raged across north Florida. Many homes were damaged and two people killed in Lake City a few miles west of here.

Between two and four in the afternoon, using the cover of the storm, a thief broke into my next door neighbor’s home and stole some stuff. I did not see or hear a thing so I could be of no help at all to the police.

When the storm broke, I’d been blogging about my adventures with tar and I was just getting ready to write a transition about the spiritual implications I find about tar.

So here goes.

Three things strike me about getting stuck in tar:

First, thank God tar is the only thing I’m stuck in. All around me I see folks mired in sticky stuff and struggling like that mastodon in the La Brea Tar Pits. Stuck in dead-end jobs. Stuck in unhealthy relationships. Stuck with bills. Stuck in life.

All I have to complain about is a bit of tar in my hair.

While I painted Thursday, Warren, a concerned neighbor, came over to tell me about an 80+ year old man down the street. The bank is foreclosing on the old man’s home. He has a deadline to be out of the place where he has lived for many, many years.


I thought his home was paid for.

It was.

But then his grown son wanted cash to start a trucking business, the old man took out an adjustable rate mortgage on his home to give money to the son, the son defaulted, the bank is foreclosing and putting the old man on the street.

The son moved to another state.

Warren asked what we and our neighborhood watch group can do to help. We discussed this strategy and that, including taking up a collection around the neighborhood (A few years ago that worked to keep a family of renters down the block from being evicted). We began to devise a plan to help the old man.

But when Warren went down to talk about it, the old man turned down any help. He’s so sick of the whole mess he’s ready to give up his house and move to an apartment across town. He’s just weary and wants to get away.

He feels stuck in his situation.

The tv news talks all the time about America’s mortgage crisis where thousands and thousands of people are losing their homes daily, but this is the first time that I know of that it has stricken anyone in our immediate neighborhood.

What does that have to do with tar?

While Warren told me about the old man’s problem, he watched me work. “What you should have done, John,” he said, explaining about undercoating.

He gave me a bucked of tar.

Before I even started painting, I should have coated under the lower boards with tar.

But I didn’t.

So I had to go back and start from scratch again..

I’d jumped right in with cosmetic painting to pretty things up, while neglecting the basic cause of our wood rot.

That’s something I do all the time spiritually.

I want to look good.

I don’t want to fix basic problems.

Jesus speaks of tombs filled with putrefying flesh breeding maggots — but with pretty whitewashed walls on the outside.

Is that what I’m doing with my life?

Do I really want to live so hypocritically?

The New Testament Letter To the Hebrews speaks to me saying, John Cowart, “For when the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God…”

Instead of prettying things up, I need to go back to the foot of the Cross, to remember the foundational things of faith.

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Such facts seal the wood rot of my soul.

No need to whitewash myself till the tar of God has been applied.

This brings me to the testimony of Saint Patrick of Ireland; there was a man who knew all about being stuck.

As I crawled on hands and knees in the dirt around my house applying tar to the baseboards I’ve been remembering that every year in early March I begin to get requests from teachers and students about information on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th.

Back in 1979 I wrote a magazine article profile of St. Patrick; it’s been reprinted numerous times and now forms a chapter in my book Strangers On The Earth.

As I wallowed in tar, I remembered a passage from my own book:

Patrick’s sense of gratitude to God for creating and saving him permeates his writings. “I was an illiterate slave, as ignorant as one who neglects to provide for his future. And I am certain of this: that although I was as a dumb stone lying squashed in the mire, the Mighty and Merciful God came, dug me out and set me on top of the wall. Therefore, I praise Him and ought to render Him something for His wonderful benefits to me both now and in eternity,” he wrote.

In my working on my house and thinking about Patrick, I equated mire with tar.

So I get my hands and hair and glasses and arms a little dirty, sticky and gooey. So I learn the taste of tar. So I wallow like a mastodon stuck in a tar pit. So I have to bathe in paint thinner to get cleaned up physically and have to go back to the very first principles spiritually.

No big deal.

My situation is not hopeless.

I’m not stuck.

Among other things, the blood of Christ acts as a great paint thinner.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 7:56 AM

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Friday, March 07, 2008

On My Knees

I spent Thursday on my knees.

No, not praying.

I crawled around the outside walls of our house on my knees with a trowel and a bucket dabbing thick black tar on the lower edges of wall boards near the ground. This tar coating provides a sealant so that when rain water splashes back from the ground, it should not seep up underneath the edges of the wood causing wood rot.

Remember the Southern folk tale of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby?

The Tar Baby — that’s me.

Tar sticks.

Because some carpenter of the 1950s when our house was built nailed unpainted lumber within an eighth of an inch from the bare dirt, to get the sealant up underneath behind the wood, I had to crawl on my knees, and to see what I was doing, I had to press my ear to the ground and peek…

Tar dribbles.

Globs of tar stuck in my hair, beneath my fingernails, on my hands, on my shoes…What’s that spot on my glasses?

Did you know tar tastes salty?

Years ago Ginny and I visited the La Brea Tar Pits where Pleistocene animals got stuck in the tar and their fossil bones are still there.

Years from now, when paleontologists excavate the Jacksonville Tar Pits they will find this big lump and exclaim, “We didn’t know they were so fat and ugly”!

Yes, I can see a museum exhibit in my future.

I want to type more about the spiritual implications of being stuck in tar, but a lightening storm with tornado threats approaches and I need to shut down my computer.

Besides that, for some reason my fingers keep sticking to the keyboard.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 8:54 AM

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Ghost At My Shoulder

First, the happy news:

Yes, at a state-wide kick-off meeting Wednesday Ginny won the coveted Stuffed Celery Award.

She works with a team of people who feed about 200,000 hungry children a year. This semi-charitable held an organizational meeting yesterday and Ginny won this token of recognition for her superior knowledge of efficient procedures.

Yaah! Ginny

Then, on the other hand, there’s me.

Every time I make a mistake, I mentally kick the shit out of myself. I call myself vile names and berate myself unmercifully. Every mistake I make churns up a thousand other mistakes from my past. In a flash, 68 years worth of mistakes, faux pas, blunders, missed opportunities, sins, stupidities, failures — all burst forth with their accompanying pain as though they happened just an hour ago.

I rage and curse and accuse myself. And as one 16th Century Puritan said, “I mislike my self right well”.

Today this perverse talent of mine exercised itself to the extreme.

I’m painting our house.

It’s light gray with dark charcoal trim.

The eaves are boxed with white soffit.

I use a thin metal masking board so the lines between trim and walls and soffit are sharp and crisp…

Most of the time.

But since my hands shake after a few hours work, I began to bleed paint from one color to another. When I tried to correct my mistake with a damp rag, I smeared the paint even worse.

And I flew into a rage at me.

I am unbelievably harsh on myself.

About this time a helpful neighbor came over to tell me what I was doing wrong and how I should have done it.

Gee, thanks.

I happened to be painting an area over where we store the garbage cans when he approached. For a while he watched me trying to delineate sharp crisp lines in that cramped area then he said, “John, why take so much trouble back there? Who’s to see”?

“My mother,” I snapped immediately without thinking.

I realized I was right.

I’ve been mad at me for offending my mother even though she’s been dead and buried for more than twenty years.!

Once I painted her home — actually, I refurbished the whole place from plumbing to window screens. I painted with meticulous care, just as I’ve been doing on my home today, because I knew she was a perfectionist. Yet, I heard her complain to her sister, “Johnny’s out there just slopping paint around”.

Mother, God rest her, was a fault finder.

In fact, she never found anything else.

Once I won a huge sterling silver loving cup with my name engraved in a scroll between the handles. My parents had not been at the awards banquet and when I proudly brought the 18-inch high trophy into the house, my mother accused me of stealing it.

She would not believe that I could have won such a thing till she saw what the jeweler had engraved.

Even then she viewed it with suspicion.

Kind of soured me on awards — not that I’ve won all that many of them.

Like a fool, I proudly carried my first published article to show her.

Before reading it, she said, “Johnny, you’d better not have written anything in there to make me ashamed”.

But she was ashamed.

The one refrain I heard a thousand thousand times while growing up was, “Johnny, I’m so disappointed in you”.

Anyhow, I try to paint exact sharp, crisp lines, and I curse and berate myself when I smear paint or even spill a drop. I feel as though my mother is watching over my shoulder, standing there accusing me of slovenliness.

Immediately when I realized that I wanted the paint lines in the garbage can storage area to be perfect, I then worried about what I may have done to my own children, how I may have warped them through lack of praise, how I may have belittled their achievements, how I may have spoiled their joy and squelched their spirits.

That grieves me.

I never meant harm.

I’m just passing it on.

I’m sorry.

However, I can think of one hopeful note in all this mental regurgitating.

In Psalm 27:10, King David says, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up”.

And here is a verse I can identify with; one of my teenaged cousins had a baby and she threw it in a dumpster behind the old Pic’nSave on Eighth Street. A store employee heard the baby cry and fished it out.

Fuel for much family gossip.

But, the promise God Himself makes in Isaiah 49:15 says:

Can a woman forget her sucking child —
That she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Yea, they may forget.
Yet, will I not forget thee.

Bad parents beget bad parents. From generation to generation we pass on the unconscious mind-set we have seen acted out in our predecessors.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

My touch of creativity, which I see displayed also in my children, I saw first in my mother’s handicrafts.

Yet, when it all does go haywire, when the ghost of an accusing parent stands over my shoulder while I paint above the garbage cans, when I’m harder on myself than any responsible adult would ever be on a child, when the haunts and taunts of 60 years ago still plague me and make me hate myself, Even then, the Lord will take me up.

Even then, Jesus loves.


It’s hard for me to add that last word. I’m one of those miserable souls who mentally amend Scripture. You know, “The Lord is the Shepherd of everyone except John Cowart… For God so loved the world, except for John Cowart, that He gave His only begotten Son…”

Yes, even though I’m a Christian, that’s the way I really feel. For me it is an act of raw faith to put aside my background and gut feelings to root-believe God’s word that in spite of my self-image and the ghost continually at my shoulder that Jesus loves me.

Even me.

And I don’t even have to color inside the lines.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:05 AM

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pizza & Tee Shirts

After I’d spent the day housepainting (got about a third of the place done now) Monday night my son Donald and his wife Helen invited us to join them for dinner at Moon River Pizza.

This place serves a great salad and what we consider the best pizza in Jacksonville. They cater to a younger crowd. By that I mean, I look around and wonder what these people do during daylight hours.

Our conversation centered around poverty (their income’s dropped to half what it was last year) and computers and art and gas prices. Ginny and Helen say my idea of executing oil company executives for treason is undemocratic — but I’ll bet it would work.

And we talked about tee shirts.

Helen runs a tee shirt business and she’s busy silk screening a huge order of shirts for a marching band. She also designs shirts and a comic strip featuring CC & Perl, two of her five cats.

The shirts can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/ccandperl ;her comic strips are at http://www.ccandperl.com/?page_id=5

Here is a shirt design Helen created to celebrate Chinese New Year last month:

As we talked about tee shirts, a group of young people entered the restaurant. None of the guys sported orange or green spiked hair and the girls’ breasts were actually all the way inside their halter tops so I knew right off that they didn’t look like Moon River Pizza regulars.

But as they approached the counter to order, I noticed one young man’s tee shirt. It was gray with huge block letters saying:


How strange, I thought, that someone would need to proclaim something like that. Perhaps it’s merely youthful defiance. He and the crowd he was with definitely fell into that age category more likely to die from traffic accidents than from any other cause.

I wondered if he sported that slogan to generate conversation. Maybe it was a challenge for Christians to witness to him. Maybe it was an invitation to argue.

(Once in Wal-Mart I saw a guy wearing a black shirt on which white letters proclaimed: The Voices In My Head Tell Me To Kill People. That shirt was not an invitation to conversation).

Perhaps the young man ordering pizza liked to wear support for his faith — or lack thereof — by the slogan on his chest, the way some people feel so unsure of their own faith that they need bumper stickers to affirm it.

How would anybody know I’m a Christian if I don’t wear a lapel pin or a bumper sticker. Would they ever guess it from the way I act?.

I’ve noticed that the deeper a person’s commitment is to Christ, the less they feel compelled to make public displays of it or to sport religious symbols. Their faith is so rock solid that it needs no external self-affirmations.

The conformation of their belief is internal. They have nothing to prove to themselves. They do not NEED for me to know their beliefs. My confirmation is unnecessary.

Maybe I’m reading too much into seeing the young man’s tee shirt.

Got tee shirts on the brain.

Here’s why:

Saturday for house painting, Ginny wore my favorite tee shirt so she would not get paint on her lovely skin. My favorite tee shirt, so faded that you can’t read the design on the chest any more, the one with holes from pipe ashes burned in it, the one with the frayed collar, the one with the seams tattered to ribbons.

My favorite tee shirt.

She says she’s sick of seeing me in that rag. She refuses to ever put it in the washing machine again. She says she’s going to throw it in the garbage when she’s finished painting.

Don’t tell her, but I’ll fish it out again and keep right on wearing it.

My shirt is an outward sign of my inward condition.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:21 AM

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Guess How We Spent Our Weekend

On Top of our world

Higher than the giraffe's head.


We painted the house to match Ginny’s hair.

Fashion model for house painting.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 5:29 AM

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Her Next Husband

Friday as I prepared our house for painting, Jennifer, Barbara and Rick came over for a visit. Also an e-mail appeared in my inbox from a gentleman in another country.

He’s concerned about his wife’s next husband.

Here are some excerpts from his letter along with my reply:

John, During the early hours of this day I undertook to enhance my young Christian wife’s understanding. My question for this present occasion was: “M., I am concerned that after I have left you to be with the Lord that you will know and practice Colossians 2:8. Tell me now how can you tell the difference between a man who professes to be a Christian but in reality is a philosopher?

The passage he refers to (Colossians 2:8-10) says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Fir in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the God head bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power”.

She read and carefully studied Colossians 2:8 in both her native tongue and her Authorized Version English Bible. I worked at my desk and awaited her response. In a short while she said “I would not know how to tell the difference between a philosopher and a true preacher of the Word.”

He told her to read the website of a noted evangelical preacher’s “Notes On Hell”.

After some thirty or forty minutes my wife turned and said that he has written about “God’s grace”, “punishment” and “the lost in hell” and added “I hear television and radio preachers talking about his use of ‘rebellion’ also. Aren’t those terms biblical?”

I answered her with a conditional affirmative, “Yes, those words you have quoted from his writings are Christian concepts yet it is his overall philosophical deviation from the force and meaning of the original autographa – the Hebrew and the Koine Greek Scriptures – which raises my eyebrows.”

My wife is highly literate in both of her daily languages grammar but the syntax of (the preacher’s) use of her noticed terms did not seem to relate to the admonition of the Apostle Paul.

She inquired, “Would you please write this up and send it to John Cowart and others and ask him to make comment also for me?”

I told her that this is a good suggestion and that I would ask the Christian brothers to consider and return comment on what she had excerpted… in the light of the Apostle Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8.

“Great!”, she said and added “For you yourself have often said that wisdom wouldn’t die with you!”

My reply:

Dear M & K,

I’m busy painting our house so my answer needs to be short and quick.

Your concern for M.’s well-being after your death is commendable.

I too am married to a woman much younger than I am. And since I have prostate cancer, in the natural run of things, she will out live me. As loving husbands it behooves us to provide for our wives as well as possible.

And you and I are doing such acts of love right now.

In your case, preparing her intellectually; in my case painting the house so Ginny will not have such worries after my own death.

However, her choice of a next husband is none of my business.

In Matthew 22, some men asked Jesus about a woman who married in turn seven brothers who died one after the other. The questioners wanted to know whose property she would be in the resurrection.

Jesus rebuked them affirming that she was not anyone’s property. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage”. They are as free as the angels.

Saint Paul said, “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (II Corinthians 7:39).

Ginny and I are to remain faithful to eachother so long as we live but once I’m dead, even though I’m a control freak, she’s free to marry philosopher or football player.

That’s her choice.

Now the important thing for my peace of mind about such matters is found in the very passage you refer to, Col. 2:10: “Ye are complete in Him”.

No, wisdom does not die with you or me.

Our wives also have the spirit of Christ and are complete in Him.

They must have been divinely guided to marry us in the first place, so they can rely on that same guidance to lead them in choosing an even better husband next time.

You can relax. M. has already proven herself to be a woman of exquisite taste and superior good judgment — she married you didn’t she!

As to the famous preacher you mention: Sorry, but I’ve never heard of the man before.

As to the difference between a worldly philosopher and a true Christian?

“Hereby know ye the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist” (I John 4:2-3).

As to your concerns about Heaven and Hell:

Our family dog Sheba lived with us for 17 years.

If you were to take me into a huge hotel and hide me behind any closed door there, Sheba could find me.

She would not know anything else about what lay behind the closed door, she would not know if it were a bathroom or a ball room.

All she would know or care about is that her beloved master stood behind that door.

And when that door opened she would jump on me and lick my face.

What lies behind the closed door of death?

What is Heaven like? What is Hell like?

Who cares?

The Beloved Master stands behind that door.

What else matters?

If you’re interested in my further thoughts on this matter, you may enjoy reading a newspaper column I wrote, The Party At The End Of The World.

Now, I have a house to paint.

Surely there are easier ways to love Ginny than this.

Maybe we ought to buy these women candy and flowers.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:28 AM

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