Creation

The womb of darkness covered me; chaotic darkness prevailed.
The earthquake shook me violently; on rivers red I set my sail–
Tossed to and fro among the swell,
Tossed to and fro.

The light was blinding so I hid, alone and naked in the fray;
Among the many shadows slid, not knowing night from day.
And there bereft and scared I lay–
Oh where to go.

From up above the misty skies grew dark, and then the rain did pour.
It cleansed my weepy, matted eyes; and there at last in violent swirl
I first took notice of the world–
But little did I know.

The land or sea, what would be found? And what would I be taught?
The sea it tossed me to the ground, and I was safe–or so I thought;
I did not know I had been caught,
Nor knew the foe.

The sun and moon and stars above I guessed must be my source.
They bathed me in their cosmic love–and gave me life, of course.
And now I suffered no remorse–
Oh bless my soul!

And down below both great and small were many creatures low and high.
I so adored them one and all, and learned the who and how and why–
And longed to keep them ever nigh,
So we could grow.

Then I took notice of my hands, my feet, my heart, my eyes.
I made and mastered marvelous plans–but oh the time did fly!
And what was born must die.
Oh must it die?

But wait! ’tis just a passing through another realm of glorious light.
Beyond the veil I now can view the final end of hideous night–
The blessed land of pure delight,
Where all is right.
All is right.

Tina Rae Collins
March 3, 2014

Victor Suman and The Widow’s Mites

Mark 12:42  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43  And [Jesus] called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Tears spring to my eyes as I read the words of the passage above, because I have witnessed this behavior in a young Indian man. Twenty-seven-year-old Victor Suman, who lives in the district of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India, has performed a magnificent act in honor of certain deceased people, one of whom is my son Aaron (aaroncollins.org).

This morning Victor and his parents gave fruit to crippled and diseased citizens of their hometown. One of these people lives without hands (Victor also gave him money for breakfast); some have leprosy; all are destitute and live on the streets begging for their daily meals. Victor, a preacher and Bible school teacher, makes very little himself. He saved for months to be able to provide this food. In fact, the fruit cost him an entire month’s salary.

Imagine giving everything you make for the entire month of December to buy food for those less fortunate than you. That, my friends, takes a lot of love and generosity.

I honor Victor for his good heart, for his concern for his fellow man, and for his love and appreciation for Aaron and me. Victor considers me his mother and Aaron his brother.  Indeed we are. If only all of us could view those with whom we come in contact as our mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters.

Mark 3:34  And [Jesus] looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

I pray the Lord will return to Victor a hundredfold for what he has done to help those about him and to honor the loss of my son Aaron and others. And I hope that the rest of us will learn from Victor’s loving example. The world would be a much better place if we had more men like Victor Suman.

Tina Rae Collins

December 16, 2013Image

Under the Dome

If we were told that next week, next month, or next year (or 100 years from now) an alien nation was going to descend upon us and burn us alive, saving only the very best ones of us, what would we do? Praise the aliens because we think WE are part of the very best so we’ll be okay? And too bad for the rest of the poor slobs (our ignorant neighbors, friends, and family members) whose ashes we’re going to be dancing on?

I watch a TV show called “Under the Dome.” Somebody has placed a big dome over a town called Chester’s Mill and the people inside can’t get out. They don’t have the power to remove the dome, but they are at least upset about it. They aren’t ignoring it or pretending it’s a good thing. They certainly aren’t worshiping the one who did it. (Why in the world would they?)

Most Christians think an all-powerful being in the sky created a burning torture chamber where he is going to fling most of us so we can writhe and scream and gnash our teeth forever. And they’re okay with that. They don’t feel that it’s unjust and some actually think it is necessary. In fact, they sometimes become riled when they are told this lake of fire doesn’t exist, and they highly praise the one who devised it and actually bow down and worship him. Now it may be that they think THEY are some of the few that will be his special pets and will be kept alive or it MAY be that they believe he is unconquerable and they are afraid NOT to worship him.

I suppose it is true that we can’t fight the monster in the sky any more than the townspeople of Chester’s Mill can destroy the dome. But it’s the behavior of otherwise rational human beings toward this awful “god” that is shocking. I’m not sure if any Christians are living under the dome in the TV show. If so I wonder how they are seeing it. Perhaps as a blessing–a way of saving the town from total destruction that is coming on the earth. Maybe they believe they are the chosen ones and their god is protecting them. Perhaps they are walking by faith and not by sight and just KNOW that the dome is a good thing although it seems horrible. Maybe. But all the people in the show are not thinking like that. And they for sure wouldn’t think that way if they thought the dome had a mind to harm them or their loved ones. They have better sense.

But does the everyday Christian here in the real world recognize that a being that has it in his mind to burn people for all eternity is not righteous and holy? No! Many proclaim this fiend as their (loving and merciful) god. It seems to me that they ought to at least know that burning people is not GOOD, it’s not HOLY, it’s not RIGHTEOUS, it’s not GODLY! What it is, is cruel and heartless and merciless and insane (with a god like that, who needs a devil?). And the very least Christians ought to be doing is begging constantly to the great ogre to please blow out the burning flames so their fellow human beings (and possibly they themselves) will be spared unfathomable agony.

But that is not what those who believe in this fiery barbeque pit do. Instead of telling the wicked beast how heinous his burning brimstone is and begging him to get rid of it, they spend their time saying things like this about him: “My god is good all the time. All the time my god is good. Yay, my god helped me find the perfect color of carpet to match my drapes. His love never fails. His mercies are new every morning!” And none of that is true, of course, IF their god is going to do what they think he is going to do.

Something is wrong. Something is wrong with many Christians or something is wrong with their god. I am here to tell you that the problem is with the Christians. The God of heaven, the great I AM, is NOT going to torture anyone. I pray for the day when Christians–of all people!–will stop telling lies on our loving Father, making him out to be the absolute most cold-hearted, self-centered, egotistical, arrogant, narcissistic, and unloving being that the human mind ever fabricated.

7.23.13

 

Be Ye Angry and Sin Not

Ephesians 4:26 (BBE) Be angry without doing wrong; let not the sun go down on your wrath;

I have often wondered what adherence to the above passage looks like. Usually when I see someone angry, he or she behaves in ways that I would consider sinful. I include myself in that, of course. I might say something hateful, be sarcastic, or speak unkindly about someone. It has been difficult for me to imagine what anger without sin looks like.

Until the other day when I was visiting my daughter Rachel, that is. We were fixing to go out back to play. Elijah was dressed and Rachel was getting Abby ready. I noticed that Eli’s face was torn up so I asked him what was wrong.

“I’m mad at Mama,” he said. He walked into the hallway where Rachel was working with Abby. He stood there patiently, waiting for Rachel to look at him. When she did, he pulled back his arms, holding them straight, and bent over and gave her an angry look that–well, it was a look that a mother can bear but it would break the heart of a grandmother and send her home crying. Then he walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch.

I was surprised and pleased by his behavior. I said, “I like how you showed your anger, Eli. Very good job.” He hadn’t said an unkind word, he hadn’t thrown a toy, he hadn’t stormed off pouting, and it was all over. Nothing had to be fixed–Rachel didn’t do anything to make him happy nor did she discipline him.

Now, some might say an almost-four-year-old child shouldn’t look angrily at his parents and that even that is wrong. But I was impressed. I hope I can learn from my grandson to make my anger known in a calm and acceptable manner, without any harsh words that tend to make matters worse and without expecting anything from the other person. We have control only over ourselves. We can’t force others to do what we want; we can let them know how we feel, and then we need to do as Eli did and walk away.

6.22.13

Seize the Day!

One day while FaceTiming with my grandson Jonathan, I asked him, “What are you going to do today?”

He replied, “I don’t know what’s going to happen today so I can’t know what I’m going to do.”

I thought that was insightful for a seven-year-old. And it reminded me of the following verse in the Bible.

Proverbs 27:1 (WEB)  Don’t boast about tomorrow; For you don’t know what a day may bring forth.

Jonathan has taken that a step further. He refuses to boast even about today since he realizes that he doesn’t know what so much as a few hours might bring forth. Nor does he know what he might have to do in reaction to unknown events that might occur.

I like Jonathan’s attitude! I think we can learn several lessons from him.

1. Be mentally prepared, aware that change can come at any moment. 

Sometimes we go through life believing it will always be as it is. Of course that is impossible, but it doesn’t keep us from thinking that way. While we can’t always be on the lookout for the next shoe to drop–never able to enjoy life–we can recognize that life does change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse (both of which can cause stress or a feeling of uneasiness or reluctance to roll with the flow). Being prepared mentally helps us not be as disappointed, or perhaps even broken, when the inevitable change comes. Instead we can face it with grace and dignity and a heart to accept whatever is.

2. Be willing to adapt to new circumstances and take on a new task or new way of life.

We must not only prepare ourselves mentally but when the time comes we must take positive action. As the Brady Bunch kids sang, “When it’s time to change then it’s time to change.” We have to get up off the couch and clean up the mess from the ketchup bottle that exploded or take the time to rejoice with our child because he built a ten-block tower, giving him our undivided attention and the praise that he needs. And, yes, if we lose our job or our house or even a loved one, no matter how we feel we have to cope and work to make life tolerable. It’s not easy to be ready for any event, and we can’t always be. But as much as is possible we should try to handle whatever situation faces us each day.

3. Enjoy the moment. 

We never know when a particular “last time” will come, so we can’t know how significant any given moment is, as sometimes events take on new meaning in retrospect. We wouldn’t want to miss the significance of a last day with our loved one nor would we want our last words to be full of whining or gossip or hatefulness. Also, we find peace and contentment in living in the moment. Dwelling on the past can be painful, and looking to the future can be scary. We need to do with all our might what our hand finds to do right now (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. So we ought to “seize the day” (carpe diem!), savoring each smile, each kiss, each hug, each taste of ice cream or each marble that rolls down the marble run. Today is, after all, the only day we have.

I don’t know what Jonathan is doing right now. But whatever it is, I know he’s all up in it! And because of him, I want to be all up in my day too!

Tina Rae Collins

7.8.13

Our Made-Up Rules

Acts 20:7 (WEB) On the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and continued his speech until midnight.

Things we might or might not conclude from this verse:

1. The first day of the week mentioned was Sunday morning.

2. The first day of the week was Saturday night.

3. The disciples always came together on this day.

4. This just happened to be an opportune time to come together (and the last day available with Paul).

5. The disciples always broke bread on this day.

6. The disciples didn’t always pick this day to break bread.

7. This breaking of bread was the Lord’s supper.

8. This breaking of bread was a common meal.

9. Paul, or some preacher, always preached on this day.

10. Paul just happened to take advantage of the opportunity that came up on this day.

11. Paul, and all preachers, should leave the next day after they preach.

12. Paul, and other preachers, can hang around the next day if they want.

13. Paul, and all preachers, should preach till midnight.

14. Paul, and all preachers, can preach as long as they like if people are willing to listen.

15. This is simply the beginning of a story about the raising of a dead man and the incidentals are not significant.

I think I pretty much covered everything that we might make up about this verse. But the question is: What can be proven by it? Only this: One church one first day of the week came together to break bread and Paul preached to them till midnight (and he was leaving the next day). To determine more than that is going beyond what is written.

To declare that this verse states for a fact that this meeting was for the purpose of participating in the Lord’s supper and that these people always did this on Sunday and only on Sunday, and furthermore that all churches at the time and all churches thereafter had/have to do the exact same thing, is not only speaking where the Bible does not speak, but it’s a lie. And, no, we cannot find other passages to piece together to make this verse say what it does not say.

It is one thing to “try to be safe” and quite another to make laws and bind them on others or declare others to be “lost” because they don’t follow our made-up rules. We can’t bind our creeds on others. Let’s truly speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.

6.22.13

Let It Be Me

I do not in any way want to be offensive with what I am about to say. Anybody who knows me at all knows that my heart seeks God. I truly want to be the best person I can possibly be. But some concepts of the traditional view of God just don’t make sense to me.

Most Christians with whom I am acquainted think God is torturing some of their family members right this minute. It may be because their loved ones drank too much alcohol, ate too many brownies, had the audacity to praise God with the use of a piano, or simply lived their lives by their own rules–nothing outrageous.

But these same people, who supposedly love their family as they love themselves (or should, if they follow the Bible), turn around and praise God for little blessings he throws down to them–their car starts on a cold morning, they find the $20 they lost, their baby gets over his cold, their pot roast turns out perfectly. God is torturing their beloved, but he gives them a good hair day so God is great!

Something, surely something, is wrong with that. Seriously, if I am good to my friends and cruel to my enemies, how am I a good person? Even the “publicans” love their friends, right?

Matthew 5:46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

If God is burning a member of my family, my friend, or even my enemy right now, his present blessings to me do not make him good. And I should understand that unless I am completely and totally narcissistic, shouldn’t I? Or perhaps I think I never eat too many brownies; or that God will stop being good to me too once I die, and start torturing me like he is tormenting my loved ones, but, hey, I’ll thank him while he’s being good to me?

Oh, and I’m supposed to spend my life learning to be tenderhearted and compassionate, even toward my enemies, only to unlearn it all after I die so I can rejoice while I dance around on the ashes of my friends and family that weren’t as good as I was in this life (Matthew 5:44, Malachi 4:3). Maybe Hitler was onto something. Maybe he had it right. Maybe he developed his torturous cold heart for a purpose as he warmed up the Jews for God to throw them into the eternal, seven-times-hotter fire. Hitler might truly enjoy the day of judgment if he should happen to be on the good side of God.

Please don’t bother telling me that I just don’t understand how heinous sin is or how holy God is. I have a brain, and, although I have lost my sense of smell, I sniff the rottenness coming out of Denmark. Why is it wonderful to have compassion in this life but empathy is a detriment in the next (1 John 3:17)? Why is it a beautiful trait to be tenderhearted and weep with those that weep in this life but we must harden our hearts in the next life in order not to suffer with those who are being punished (Romans 12:15 )? Why is it godly (godly?) not to seek vengeance in this life while we cry out “how long, O Lord?” as we crave the day when God will destroy anyone who has mistreated us (Revelation 6:10 )? Why is it sinful in this life to seek a place of esteem if we are supposed to, secretly, look forward eagerly to the day when we will be highly exalted above others (Philippians 2:3)?

People obey God, and persuade others to obey God, because God tortures humans when they die if they don’t obey his every command while alive. But it seems to me that if we love God because he has threatened to torture us, God is a monster. If I threatened to burn my own children if they didn’t obey my every little wish, I’d be a monster, wouldn’t I?

Others encourage people to love God because God will reward them when they die–they will be glorified and get to enjoy sliding around on a street of gold and wear a crown on their heads–when they aren’t casting the crowns down at God’s feet (Revelation 21:21, Revelation 4:10). If I love a man because I want a diamond ring or money, I am a prostitute. Doesn’t that make me a prostitute if I love God because I want a golden crown, because I want to be high above others, because I want a life of ease while my fellow human beings are greatly diseased?

These are thoughts I have had for some time and just decided to share them. I have found the emperor to be naked and want to say so. If even one person–even one–is to be cast into a bottomless pit to weep and gnash his teeth for all eternity, then I want to give up my crown and jump into the flames with him (Matthew 8:12).

Why? Because that’s what my Lord has taught me to do. To do otherwise would be disobedience to the command to love my neighbor as myself , to esteem others better than myself, to lay down my life for my brother (James 2:8, Philippians 2:3, 1 John 3:16 ). If only one person must be punished, let it be me. I’ll give myself for the sins of the world–have them all put on me.

But somebody already did that. Didn’t he?

6.19.13