Create in me a clean heart or unicorn

You might have guessed from the title that Dad is having a guest poster today.  This is Eve, John’s middle daughter.  His journey home is coming to a close so I volunteered  to write up a post. The title is from Psalm 51 with a small edit : )

A couple of weeks ago, Dad and I were visiting and he asked me if there were any things from around the house that I would want.  He’d already been putting things in large paper bags to set aside for us but he asked for my input for my stuff.  Mom had had a small collection of unicorns.  Mom and Dad had given me a unicorn music box that once was Mom’s several years ago and I have always loved it and wanted to add to my collection. So when Dad asked, I knew immediately what my answers was to be.  The unicorns!  A while ago, I had given to Mom a pair of unicorns.   Dad had me take them down and take them home that night.

But after living in a smoke filled home for years, what had started as white unicorns were now brown.  I rinsed them off at first but that didn’t get rid of anything but the dust.  I could have given up on them but I treasured them and the idea of the pleasure they had given my parents for so many years.  So I pulled out the whitening toothpaste, my q-tips and rubbed the toothpaste into every nook and cranny.  I hoped it would work and with a lot of scrubbing, q-tips and one final rinse, they turned out like this:

What was stained was now as beautiful as when first given….rather like Dad or me or you.

Sin stains us.  It could be a thin layer of dust or smoke stains down to the core.  You might think that makes us unworthy or beyond saving.  Something for the trash heap.  But so loved and blessed are we that God gives us the incredible offer of salvation.  How can I be certain of God’s love?  Because of my Dad.  My Dad loved us so well and fully that it gives me a hint at how much our heavenly Father loves us and how he treasures us.  It is only through God’s amazing grace that we can be made clean.  Amazing is a great word for it and that possibility is a better gift than anything, even a pair of snow white unicorns.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Updates on a rainy day.

John is  happy and singing/humming as he drifts in and out of awareness. He is surrounded by his family and friends, comfortable in his recliner.

It’s amazing that even now, he is a witness to others. In the midst of a painful procedure this afternoon, he thanked the nurse for helping him. His social worker was touched by his holding his adult children in his lap to comfort them, even as he is confined to his recliner.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. It probably won’t be too much longer until he joins his bride, Ginny, though I wouldn’t put it past him to surprise us and bless us here a little longer.

— Helen

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Two Stout Monks

Friday, February 13, 2015

Last night I read an e-mail from a former minister of Christ Church Jacksonville Anglican, the church I attend.

In November, 2013, the Rev Gary Blaylock accepted a call to become pastor of St. Francis Anglican Church in Fairhope, Alabama.

Over the last four days he has attended a spiritual retreat at Saint Joseph Abbey in Louisiana.

St Joe Abby
This monastery was founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks and serves as a seminary and a retreat facility for those seeking spiritual renewal.

Visitors are welcome…

However, Rev. Blaylock included this sign of instructions for visitors—it’s well worth clicking to enlarge and reading to the end:

Benedictine welcom

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Basket Case

Wednesday. February 11, 2015

Thank God I feel little pain so far; the most obvious symptom from my cancer is near overwhelming weakness.

Some days just making it from my recliner to the bathroom feels liked an Olympic challenge. So far I’ve managed to win the gold metal in that event. But it bothers me that someday I’ll not be able to make it.

flatYesterday I felt so weak that I could not stand for a shower and Jennifer, my eldest daughter, had to bathe me like a baby.

expectingAnother symptom demands that I drift in and out of sleep all the time with waking dreams that blend the dream world with reality. I’m having trouble distinguishing the two.

I’ll reach for a cup of coffee on the nightstand, a cup I’m sure I see there, but there is no coffee there.

But it seemed so real!

The other day—maybe it was yesterday—I was dozing off and on in my recliner lighting my pipe and casually praying for a friend when Jesus walked out of the kitchen to my left carrying a basket.

At first I thought it contained hot bread rolls because a white napkin enfolded the contents.

Jesus set the basket on the table and sat down beside me to chat.

I didn’t pay attention to what He was saying because, out of the corner of my eye I could see that napkin move a little bit. I asked Him if there were something alive in the basket.

The Lord folded back the napkin to reveal a beautiful white puppy with cold black eyes and nose. The puppy wiggled free of the napkin and basket to jump in my lap and lick my face.

The Lord Christ laughed at my delight, picked up His basket, and left me—my puppy snuggled in my arms.

I woke up with the pipe still smoldering in my hand so the waking dream must have only lasted seconds, but it sure made me happy.

The Prophet Joel speaks of a day in which young men and maidens shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams.

And the Bible is full of baskets—Baby Moses floating on the Nile, Paul being let down from the wall in a basket. 12 baskets of left-overs from feeding the 5,000…

So the imagery of my dream may not be too far fetched. This was no great theological revelation or beatific vision—it was just an old man’s dream.

olderAnd I have no problem about falling asleep while praying—you do not go to sleep in the presence of an enemy. You only drift off when you feel safe and comfortable with the trusted person you’re sleeping with.

So, while physically I feel as weak as a basket case, that’s ok. Jesus holds the basket.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Unexpected Requests

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yesterday, a 14-year-old boy who lives in a nearby town came by to visit me. He used to live in my neighborhood and his father drove him back to see me.

While his dad worked on some outside chores, the young man stayed inside to talk with me about my health and the prospects of my death.

Although I don’t recall ever doing anything special with him, the boy apparently thinks the world of me.

He made three unexpected requests which surprised me.

He asked if I’d allow him to be present in the room when I die.

He asked that he be allowed to speak at my memorial service.

And he asked if I’d allow him to write a posting on my blog after I die. “I want it to be something inspirational to carry on your legacy,” he said.

He said he admired my confidence in the face of death and I assured him that my only confidence is in the goodness of the Lord Christ.

Since it’s customary for various people to speak at a memorial service, and since I’ve had guests post things on my blog now and then, I readily granted those requests.

As to being present in the room when I die, I’m not sure about that. First, I’ll check with his mom and dad to see it that would be ok with them.

Spiritually, I’m at peace with what is happening to me. But physically, let’s face it, things may get messy. I may go out kicking, cursing, and screaming with shit, piss, vomit, blood and gore.

That might be too intense for a 14-year-old.

But both spiritual things and physical things are reality in God’s world, I think my young friend is mature enough to handle both aspects.

There is nothing pretense in the death of a Christian. Christ is nothing if not real.

Anyhow, I’m touched and honored that the young man wants to do these things for me—his requests are just another evidence to me of God’s love.

Getting ready to die brings me one surprise after another.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Celia

Saturday, February 7, 2015

At this stage of my life I never again expected to sit holding a pretty girl snuggled on my lap. But thats’ what happened yesterday.

And as the young lady and I got acquainted, we discovered we have much in common.

For instance, I can’t drive anymore; neither can Celia. Her mother drove her to my house to meet me.

Then there’s the matter of hair. Mine is falling out, hers is just growing in.

Same with teeth. At the moment I have four more teeth than Celia has, but that’s soon to change.

She found my lack of teeth fascinating.

20150206_112826_resized

I told her my age with that old couplet:

I’m as old as my nose
And my two big toes,
And a little bit older
than my teeth.

20150206_112859_resized

We also have diapers in common. But as Celia grows out of her Pampers, I’m growing into my Depends.

Another thing Celia and I share in common is our closeness to Eternity.

The Bible speaks of aged men like me as being, Old and full of days, soon to be gathered to his fathers.

I like that term gathered, not lost to cancer and death but gathered into the loving arms of Christ.

While I’m headed to Eternity, Celia just qrrived frdom there seven months ago. Amd as the poet Wordsworth said:

Trailing clouds of Glory do we come
From God Who is our home.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy.

Biologicly, glory is not the only cloud we trail. As I cuddled Celia in my arms—as is common to old men and babies—one of us cut a loud fart.

So, I told her about the little skunk that went to church—He had to sit in his own pew.

DSCF0671

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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My Binocular Trick

My Binocular Trick

As I review my life wondering how it will all turn out, I’ve revived my life-long binocular trick. As many friends visit me to encourage me about my dealing with cancer, they often compliment me on my contributions to their life.

I tend to blow them off.

I have a hard time accepting compliments, praise, or love. I’ve been trained to view such things with suspicion.

I’m wrong.

I’ve been writing off the good things of reality and substituting the drab world of my own distorted imagination.

I even do this with God. His word says “to an many as receive Him, He gave…” And here I am too proud to receive good even at God’s nail-pierced hands.

Here follows an old entry from my diary written on November 4, 2011; it comes from apge 365 of my book A Dirty Old Man Tells All:

My Binocular Trick

Years ago I mastered the binocular trick.

Now, I’ve got that sucker down to perfection.

It’s proved one of the most destructive, hurtful things in my life.

Ginny and I use binoculars practically every weekend as we watch birds in our backyard. We have this pair of binoculars some wildlife organization sent us because we’d made a donation to save birds, seals, whales—some varmint, I forget just what.

Our binoculars were designed to be a sleek, precision tool to enable us to watch wildlife close up. One problem: Ginny is left handed; I am right handed. So when she looks at a bird through the viewfinder, she sees it enlarged. But, naturally as she passes the binoculars to me, they end up in my hands reversed. I slap them to my eyes and that bird looks tiny and a mile away. By the time I get them turned around, the bird has flown. Stupid bird.

You get the picture? Look through one end and things are magnified; look through the other end and things are smallified.

Yesterday, as I talked with Michael Swanhart, the counselor I’ve been seeing recently about writer’s block, our conversation touched on the binocular trick I use in my mental and spiritual life that causes me so much misery and frustration.

What I do is view my sins and faults and social blunders through one end of my brain’s binoculars so that I magnify anything bad. Bad stuff appears huge and right on top of me. Then, when I think of anything good in my life, I reverse my brain binoculars to smallify and discount the good. Good stuff appears tiny, insignificant, and far away.

For instance, when I think of my experiences as a Boy Scout, the first thing that pops into my mind is that time by the campfire I insulted my Scoutmaster. Never mind that for five years he was my best friend and role-model, the one moment that looms large in my mind is that insult.

On the other hand, once as a Scout, I won a trophy, a silver loving cup about 18-inches tall with scrolled handles and the Scout emblem engraved and the words, John Cowart, Most Outstanding Scout Of 1951. I felt so proud of winning that trophy.

My parents had not attended the awards ceremony. When I walked in the house they were drinking coffee at the kitchen table. I placed my silver (real silver back in those days) cup on the table, my mother gasped and accused me of stealing it.

She would not believe I’d won it till I showed her my name engraved on the surface.

That’s when I noticed my cup was empty.

Binocular vision. Ever since then, I view every award, every compliment, every good thing I’ve done as empty. Hollow. Of no account.

Thus my brain learned to belittle my accomplishments and to magnify my faults, flubs and sins.

Dr. David Burns, author of Feeling Good, a cognitive therapy handbook, speaks of this reverse vision saying, “A spectacular mental illusion is the persistent tendency of some depressed individuals to transform neutral or even positive experiences into negative ones… I call this reverse alchemy, you can turn golden joy into emotional lead… When someone praises you, you mentally disqualify their compliment “Oh, it was really nothing,” you say. If you constantly throw cold water on the good things that happen, no wonder life seems damp and chilly to you.

“Disqualifying the positive is one of the most destructive forms of cognitive distortion… The price you pay for this tendency is intense misery and an inability to appreciate the good things that happen… It can also form the basis for some of the most extreme and intractable forms of depression.”.

Wow, does he have me pegged.

And to make matters worse, I’m a Christian.

That can falsely exacerbate the befuddled mindset of a Reverse Alchemist—Being predisposed to binocular vision, I grind my own lenses.

There is a religious tradition which appeals to my distorted view of the Lord God, of other people, and of myself. It glories in binocular trick. And plenty of Scripture backs this mindset up. “I am a worm and no man… In sin was I conceived… There is none that doeth good, no, not one”.

A bleak view through that magnifying end of my binoculars.

Then, looking through the other end, we see we are “Accepted in the Beloved… Now are we the children of God… We love Him because He first loved us… A peculiar people, a royal priesthood… I have called you friends… This day you shall be with me in Paradise”.

And I have this mental tendency to discount, to smallify, those Bible verses and make the Word Of God less than it really is.

The thing I’m trying to realize is that looking through either end of my mental binoculars never gives me a true picture; one end makes things look big, the other makes everything look small…. Neither view shows the real size or quality of what I am looking at. Viewing the world through the binocular trick always gives a distorted vision.

Jesus realistically put down hypocrites big time, “You brood of snakes! Who told you to flee the wrath to come?”

One the other hand, He handed out realistic compliments to many people. Meeting Nathaniel for the first time, Jesus praised him saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

And when He cured people, Jesus never said, “Behold, I zap you with my divine super-power”. No. He gave the afflicted person praise, credit even, saying, “Your faith has made you whole, Go and sin no more”.

Jesus is nothing if not a realist.

He sees the thoughts and intents of the heart.

He sees reality.

He sees clearly.

Yet, He never held a pair of binoculars in His life.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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The Nicest Guy In Hell

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Visitors filled my past week. Yesterday alone, eight kind friends stopped by to see about my well-being’ Conversations ranged far and wide as I face terminal cancer.

I tried to put folks at ease, but some felt awkward. What is there to talk about with a dieing guy?

Well, there is SuperBowl, but that seems hardly important at the moment.

Some conversations turned to Heaven and Hell—subjects I have cause to think about recently. I remembered my diary entry from May 2, 2010; this comes from page 256 of my book A Dirty Old Man VS The Coons:

The Nicest Guy In Hell

I have no problem believing in Hell, it’s Heaven that I question.

For the past couple of days I’ve been moving trees around in my yard; uprooting them from one spot, transplanting them in another. That’s what I do to avoid working on the manuscript of a book I hate. While I gardened, I thought about Hell and Heaven.

How a loving God can send anyone to Hell, especially when there are so many nice people in the world who do not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior?

That’s a problem in theodicy.

First, let’s agree that you and I and everybody we know will spend all eternity somewhere?

Where?

Some say, Heaven; Some say, Hell; Some say we get recycled; And some say when you die, you die forever, only oblivion lies ahead, and that we spend eternity rotting in a grave.

The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die , but after this the judgment”.

That doesn’t leave Christans much wiggle room.

Not only that, but the Scripture narrows it down even more, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”.

And this Last Judgement hinges on belief in Jesus Christ.

Here’s a detail, Remorse, from Michelangelo’s painting of The Last Judgment.

remorse2-754380-199x300

Jesus once told some listeners, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”.

Why would a God of love allow people to die in sin and go to Hell? Isn’t that unjust? Isn’t He responsible?

Not necessarily.

Why not?

Say you give $50 to a poor family down the street so they can buy food. But mom and dad load the kids in the backseat, drive to the liquor store, get tanked up, wreck the car, and the kids in the backseat get mutilated and mangled—What did you do wrong?

Not a thing!

That’s the picture I get thinking of God, Daddy Adam and Mamma Eve. God gave ‘em Paradise, they wrecked the whole thing. And heck, you and I weren’t even born yet, but we got mangled in their wreck and suffer for what they did. I think that’s what theologians call “original sin”. What did God do wrong there?

The way things are is the way things are.

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We are our father’s kids. We take after Mama Eve and Daddy Adam. Individually, we do the same sort of thing they did—with bells on.

Cause and effect.

We have all borne consequences of something we did ourselves; and we have all suffered the consequences of something somebody else did.

That’s the way the world works.

One problem about Hell revolves around who is bad enough to end up there.

Say a bully beats a girl, tortures her with a burning cigar, rapes her, and cuts her throat. Say neither the bully nor the girl are believers in Jesus Christ. Is God in any way just in consigning the slayer and the slain to the same Hell?

“If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”.

Does belief play a bigger role in eternity than actions?

Shouldn’t nice people get a break?

By nice people, I mean people I like.

That’s what we all mean when we say the word nice—it means people or things that we find agreeable or pleasant. It’s a subjective term, a personal evaluation. It just means how someone strikes me. Hitler’s buddies thought he was a nice man.

Hitler

I think of myself as a nice man. In his own eyes no man is an asshole. And you may think I’m nice because of what you don’t know about me.

Saint Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after . Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid”.

We don’t know who is naughty or who is nice—yet, like Santa Clause, we evaluate. We assign people value then compare ourselves with those evaluations.

Picture five guys in a rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic when the boat sinks and all are drowning.

Let’s say the five guys are me and Billy Graham and the Pope and Hitler and Dracula. We all five sink beneath the waves. Hitler and Dracula sink 50 feet under, The Pope and Billy Graham sink ten feet under, and I sink 30 feet under the water.

I look beneath my feet and see Hitler and Dracula, and I say, “Look at those miserable sinners; they are drowning 50 feet lower than I am”.

I look up and see Billy Graham and the Pope drowning in only ten feet of water and I say, “Those lucky bastards! They are so much better off than I am. They’re only ten feet under”.

A ridiculous picture?

Yes, but by and large that’s what we get when we evaluate people as nice or not nice.

And the Scripture says that there is none righteous; no, not one.

We are all under sin.

We all are drowning in our own septic tank.

There is no one who does not deserve Hell. The amazing thing is that God redeems anybody; He’s not obligated to. When it comes to Hell, we’ve earned our place there. We qualify.

That’s why we all need a Savior.

Desperately.

I don’t like that.

I don’t know about you, but I’m quick to claim ownership of “nice” portions of Scripture. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”. That’s nice.

Yet the Scripture also says, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone into his own way…”

I want to have a Shepherd, but I don’t want to be thought of as a sheep.

I’m not a sheep.

I’m a nice guy.

That’s how I think of myself: not a super Christian like Billy Graham or the Pope, and certainly not as a wicked, nasty sinner like Hitler or Vald—just a nice, fair-to-middling Christian with a fault or two, but nothing serious.

And we all know that Christ died for nice guys… Isn’t that what the Bible says?

Really?

It doesn’t?

Jesus said that He came to seek and to save the lost. He observed that the sick call for a physician, not the healthy.

The Scripture says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”.

The ungodly, not the nice.

The Bible also says that the love of God is shown towards us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So, was Jesus a nice guy?

He once called His listeners snakes. A lady came to Him asking for help for her daughter and He called her a dog. When some guys complimented Him, He told them they were like a grave vault, white outside but filled with putrefying green meat inside. He platted a whip and chased legitimate businessmen out of the Temple. He claimed to be the one and only God Almighty come in the flesh and the only way to escape Hell.

That’s what He said—I am the way and the truth and the life, no man commeth unto the Father except by Me.

He said He came from above everybody and everything else.

“Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”.

Well, we put a stop to that kind of talk.

Nailed Him down.

Hand and foot.

Killed Him dead.

Wrapped Him up.

Sprinkled spice on the package so He won’t smell bad when He rots.

Let Him see what a whitewashed tomb looks like from the inside.

Buried Him underground. Put a rock on it. Out of sight, out of mind

Now we’re ready to go back about our business, nice guys one and all.

Problem—The Lord of Life would not stay dead.

Here we thought we’d seen the end of Him and then He rose again from the grave.

Would a nice guy do that?

Yet the Bible says Jesus is “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”.

From Above (wherever that is) to here, then back to Above.

Curious.

Several guys wrote books about Him. They had so much material they couldn’t get everything down on paper but John said, “But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name”

Believing in Jesus Christ—not believing John Cowart to be nice—is the ticket to life.

That leaves me with two prospects.

I can reject Christ. Or, I can believe in my heart that God raised Christ from the dead as my Savior and Lord and I can confess that fact in the way I live and speak.

I stand destined to become the nicest guy in Hell.

Or, on the other hand, I can chose to ride into Heaven on the coattails of Jesus as the most miserable, filthy, dirty old man ever to clear the gates.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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An Umbrella For The Dieing

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On rare occasions in my long life a sense of God’s love overwhelmed me as I thought about His nature and actions.

More often I’ve caught glimpses of God’s caring through the kindness of people around me.

This week the postman delivered eight Thinking-Of-You cards to my front door. These came from South Florida, California, South Carolina, New York, Texas, West Virginia, and even from Australia.

All came from strangers I’d never heard of before, but when these folks had read in my blog about my cancer, they felt moved to express concern for my well-being.

I’m touched.

So often I’ve felt that I’m typing on air when I write blog postings. I wonder of anybody anywhere ever reads my musings.

I see these cards of good wishes as reflections of God’s love for me—love which I’m normally too dense to recognize.

photo(18)

I also think of God’s love in the care my family shows for me in their care-giving at great inconvenience to themselves. Daily they visit, bring coffee and treats, clean my house, dispense my medicine, share happy memories, give advice, and see to my comfort.

I feel so grateful for them.

Yes, the love of God is shown towards in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… But sometimes that seems so long ago and so far away.

I think the most immediate evidences of Gods love come through human hands.

And, yes, in my life I have known human cruelty, scorn, and contempt, bitterness, and back-biting.

Yet, I am convinced that no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, that God cares about you.

This world ain’t all there is.

Maybe that’s why Saint John urged followers of Christ to love one another because love is of God. When we act in love, live in love, we act as minor conducts of God’s own magnificent love

Last week, my friend Rex brought me a late Christmas present—an umbrella.

Why in the world would he bring an umbrella to a cancer patient whose days of romping in the rain are over?

Well, Rex knows that for 40+ years I have collected local history books and memorabilia—this umbrella was once a promotional item given out by the local newspaper featuring cartoons bordered by the paper’s banner logo.

I had not known it even existed.

I got such a kick out of my new umbrella. Maybe I’ll insert a codicil in ,my will establishing a new charity, Umbrella’s For The Dieing…. or maybe not.

Anyhow, I’m thrilled to add it to my artifact collection.

Here’s a photo of me showing my treasure off to my daughter-in-love:

right umbrellaWednesday, when my friend Wes came over, we talked for three hours about the merits and faults of form criticism as related n to the synoptic Gospels; we discussed the glory of God, and the mystery of sinful men like us trying to live a Christian life.

When news of my cancer began to sink in, I wondered if I ought to cram ford my finals. Should I begin to pray more, study Scripture, do goody-goody stuff before I die.

As I thought about undertaking a crash course in godliness, I found the idea ludicrous.

Doesn’t boning up on prayer and Bible reading smell of death-bed, prison-house repentance?

While last-minute conversion is possible, what do I have to depend on in live or death short of the mercy and goodness of Christ.

As the hymn says, “Just as I am without one plea, save that Thy blood was shed for me.

Who would I be trying to fool with desperate acts of devotion at this late date?

Doesn’t the Lord Christ already know me inside and out?

After living with me all these years, doesn’t my family know more about my sins and faults than I do?

Methodist founder John Wesley once said, “It’s hard to live a goat and die a lamb”.

I decided that my own best course is to live out my final days doing and being the same as I’ve been most of my life—no frantic last-minute house-cleaning because Company is coming.

Croczilla 2
A bit late to iron a shirt, polish my shoes, and get a haircut before meeting the Lord of Glory.

So, instead if intense pretense at devotions and prayer last night, I edified my soul by watching an up-lifting movie on Netflix—Croczilla!

It was good for my soul.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Dividing Vultures

Monday, January 26, 2015

Preparing for my death is like preparing for Christmas.

On one level, I wonder what I am going to get. Will I get a new bike? Or will I find socks and underwear under the tree?

On another level, I ponder what to give to others. It is like making a Christmas list. I want to give something that each of my children likes, something that would be good for them, something I can afford to give. If I give Eve this, then do I need to give Jennifer something of equal value? So it is fun making a list of what I will give to divide the spoils. I anticipate their delight in getting this or that.

It is prudent to make such preparations. For instance, I bought a small burial policy. But when it is divided among six children, it doesn’t amount to very much. I have already transferred ownership of my home to my son Johnny and the title to my car to my daughter Jennifer. I have tried to make sure that each of the six get some heirloom that their grandfather made. The kids have all read m y will and they know each of them gets and what the other kid gets. They are all in harmony about how the loot will be divided. There should be no bickering or squabbling that I have seen in other families.

Unfortunately, two areas of contention have arisen. One involves my neckties. Back when I worked in an office, I prided myself in wearing a different necktie everyday. These colorful decorations expressed my personality. When I asked my three sons who wanted my box of 100 plus neckties, they looked at each other in dismay and said “Nobody wanted these things!”. One suggested that when I die, they will wind the neckties around and around me like an Egyptian mummy.

They finally decided to give my ties to Goodwill because there is nothing the poor needs more than gaudy neckties.

Another source of contention are the two rubber vultures perked on a high shelf in my living room. They add charm and sophistication to my décor. And everyone wants to inherit them.

Vultures_3

It’s good to know that my sons have inherited my innate good taste. I do not know how to divide two vultures among three people. This sounds like a problem in new math. We decided to leave the vultures where they sit until they disintegrate.

We laughed a lot about how to divide the vultures.

But when a man came to Jesus in Luke 12, the scripture records:

“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus refused to get caught in the middle of dividing up stuff.

 “And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?”

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”.

Jesus is smarter than I am.

• 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. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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