Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Are We Home Yet?

In my Father’s house are many rooms … John 14:2

It has often been said that life is a journey, not just a destination, and that getting there is half the fun.  We have been told to slow down, stop and smell the roses.  All that may be true, but many of us can remember those long childhood family car trips we took with our parents.  That pesky little brother would repeatedly whine from the back seat, “How much farther is it?  Are we almost there?”  How irritating!  I recall it well, because I was that pesky little brother.

Fast forward to the present.  On December 28, 2011, we left our 12-year home in Florence, Alabama, and headed for Keller, Texas, with nothing but the stuff we could fit in our cars.  We brought no furniture, lawn mowers, tool boxes, or major appliances.  Yes, we took the coffee maker.  You know us better than to ask that!  There was an unexpected sense of relief and peace as we left behind most of what we own.  At least for a while, we no longer had to carry it, clean it, protect it, maintain it, or repair it.

We moved into a 750-square-foot apartment that we sublet from a young lady who was stuck in a lease.  We could have it until May, and it was furnished!  She put out towels and scented candles for us.  She even left her dishes and her vacuum cleaner for us to use.  There was something so carefree about staying there.  We could focus on the church ministry we had come to do, then come in at any hour and take it easy.  We felt no stress, no hassle, and no pressure.  Well, almost.  We did have to buy a washer and a dryer, but at least they were clean and lint-free!

Then another change came.  Our landlady needed her place back!  The Collinses were about to be homeless once more!  We began checking out options, including extended-stay places and houses for rent.  Our best choice, however, was to lease another apartment, which was much bigger.  (It has six additional square feet.)  We again loaded our cars and made the change.  It was so easy!  Now we had access to an onsite swimming pool, pool table, fitness center, and more.

Next thing we knew friends from church moved and connected our washer and dryer.  They brought us a dining table and four chairs, a complete bedroom suite, and a sofa, loveseat, and chair for the living room.  We have a roof over our heads and a clean, comfortable place with all the room and features we need.

Are we home yet?  Maybe not, but we are at peace.  We’ll have more options when our house in Alabama sells, but we’re content right where we are.  Like the old song says, “Anywhere is home, if Christ my Lord is there.”  Tanya and I feel less attached to stuff, more liberated to enjoy life, and more flexible with changing circumstances.  We also realize, more than we ever have before, that our real home is not on earth anyway.  Our citizenship is in heaven.

We just want to be ready when that moving day comes.  “Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.”

Cory Collins

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Finding My Fortune

Tanya and I recently enjoyed lunch with an elder and his wife (precious new friends) at a Chinese restaurant in Watauga, Texas.  I had some Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken; Tanya ate the Ginger Broccoli Chicken.  Near the end of the meal I played my customary game with her, sliding the fortune cookies in circles across the table, as if to make the outcome more mysterious.  Just as she reached for one, I pulled it back and moved the other toward her a couple of times.  Then each of us took one.

Ironically, I opened the fortune that should have belonged to my youthful, energetic, and creative wife.  It said, “It’s fun being a kid.  It’s high time for one of your most promising ideas.”  Believe it or not, her fortune read, “Many will travel to hear you speak!”  If I could only have had that one instead!  Ha!

You know I’m just having fun with a silly custom.  The truth is, my fortune and yours are not dependent upon a cookie, a horoscope, or fate.  There is not some Luck Goddess who bestows her favor on some but not others.  Drawing straws, playing the lottery, or waiting for my ship to come in is not the secret to success.

Instead, my reward will come as the result of obedient faith in Jesus Christ.

I want one day to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8).

It’s not the cookie that I pick, but the seed that I plant, that leads to the future that I want.   
If I will focus on sowing what pleases the Lord, the harvest will take care of itself.

The Scripture says in Gal 6:7-9, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

Hmmm.  Maybe I should stop swapping cookies …

Cory Collins

Sunday, February 05, 2012

"Get the Leaven Out!"

Jas 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Jas 1:21
Tanya and I tried several different HVAC service providers, and their answers were always the same.  “Mr. and Mrs. Collins, there is no need to replace your upstairs air conditioning system.  The compressor is working, no refrigerant gas is leaking, and the unit is putting out cool air.  It’s better to leave it alone and wait until it completely gives up the ghost.  Then we can talk about installing new equipment.”  They were right … well, somewhat.
When you need wise counsel about such matters, whom can you call?  He or she has to be knowledgeable, experienced, and economical.  I called my best friend.  He knew an excellent company, based on his own personal experience.
First the technician found that the main capacitor, which stores and discharges electricity in large amounts to operate the compressor, was only functioning at 95% of the specs. In its weaker moments it was failing, and we were sometimes getting less-than-cool air as a result.  He installed the new part. We asked for a service agreement and gave him a check.
A few days later a second man came to clean.  He dared to go where no man had gone before, at least not for long: into the sweltering high-temperature attic!  There he remained, taking that unit apart and cleaning the individual pieces.  The water drainage line was plugged up; he cleared it out.  The fins and blades were filthy; he wiped off the gunk.  The coils were surrounded by dirt and dust; he removed all that had accumulated.
When he came down, he said, “It’s going to run cleaner, cooler, and healthier.”
The unit did not need replacing.  It just needed cleaning.  So it is with you, child of God.  You are not broken, worthless, or obsolete.  But you will be a much more effective, efficient servant of Christ if you clean out whatever is polluting your spiritual life.  The Hebrews’ eating bread without leaven (Ex 12:14-20) provides a powerful metaphor for Christians.
… a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  1 Cor 5:6-8
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.  2 Cor 7:1
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (cleans), that it may bear more fruit.  John 15:2                        -- Cory Collins