Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A PAINFUL CHOICE

Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.-Proverbs 25:19 NIV 

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.-Proverbs 25:28 ESV 

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.-Proverbs 16:32 ESV 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.-I Cor 13:11 ESV 

Criminal versus crazy. 

That's how I have characterized the 2016 Presidential election. 
This is in sharp contrast to the exciting run up to 1984.  Morning in America. Remember that?   After watching a joyful President with a winsome personality, I was very excited to cast my first Presidential vote for Ronald Reagan in 1984. 
In contrast we now find ourselves reduced to going out to vote for our side's demon to keep the other demon out of the White House.  

You've probably figured out, I am not a fan of either candidate. 
Voting for Hillary Clinton is absolutely out of the question.  Aside for the fact that she is an unindicted criminal, her ideology will certainly push America further from its Constitutional moorings. 

Sadly, the standard bearer for the Republican party is someone I do not trust.  Before even getting into political issues, I have no confidence in Donald Trump's character.  It is true that we are all flawed and imperfect human beings.  But it is another thing to show no demonstrable aspiration to virtue and proclaim that you see no need to ask God for forgiveness.   

Politically, Mr. Trump has spent most of his life as a Democrat.  He is clearly a Progressive.  My concern is that he has simply leveraged hot button issues like immigration and trade to lure a plurality of Republicans.  And in the process his demagoguery on these matters has needlessly alienated people who might otherwise embrace Conservative policies like fair trade and legal immigration.   

Let's be blunt here: the Republican candidate for President has produced a cult of personality.  It has been all about him. If you're in the cult, great!  If you're not, you're subject to all kinds of public shaming and vitriol.  Just days ago Never Trumper Erick Erickson revealed that one reprehensible Trump supporter suggested his wife's cancer is a punishment for not supporting "God's choice, Donald Trump.."  

If you're already skeptical of Republicans, the odious elements of Mr. Trump's personality and behavior can be frankly repulsive.  Sadly too many have not figured out that you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.  A lot of vinegar has flowed from the candidate and his followers... almost as much as the kool-aid that has kept members of the cult drunk with inordinate infatuation to the point of losing all sense of introspection.   Too many have been simply fan boys and girls, refusing to call their candidate to account for behavior that is beneath that we would expect from a Presidential nominee, or any healthy human being for that matter. 

In fact, this campaign has been rife with nastiness from candidate and citizen alike.  As if trying to endure the horrible character flaws of Donald J Trump wasn't enough, there's the issue of many of his supporters. Honestly, it would be all too easy to vote against Mr. Trump out of spite toward those who behave more like an angry mob than civil Americans who know how to govern themselves.  I'm reminded of a documentary "Lord Save Us From Your Followers".   It addresses the fact that they way too many of us Christians have behaved in a way that poorly reflects on our Lord. tians have behaved in a way that poorly reflects on our Lord.  I believe the "in your face" mentality of too many Trump supporters has truly reflected the ethos of the candidate himself.    

Ultimately the corrupt character of  Hillary Clinton helped to sharpen my focus and mute all of the white noise bombarding me.  I believe Mrs. Clinton has used her position for personal profit and her use of private email was beyond irresponsible. Her corrupt activities have already undermined our National Security.   Beyond her extreme leftist policies, a person of this ilk cannot be trusted in the White House... period! 

So on Friday, one of the last days of early voting in North Carolina I walked into the voting booth with a final decision.  I tapped the touch screen for every race except the first one.  With a heavy heart I returned to page one and voted for Donald J Trump. I have chosen the crazy one over the criminal.  I did it for one reason alone:  damage control.   As Mark Levin has brilliantly articulated, Hillary Clinton must be stopped.  That is it.  This is not an expression of confidence in Mr. Trump.  Simply a rejection of the unthinkable alternative.   

If Mr. Trump can pull off a victory Tuesday night, he should fall on his knees and give God the glory.  A win certainly will not be the result of him successfully selling himself to the American people.  He would simply be the last person standing in a battle between two very unlikeable and toxic candidates.  And I hope Mr. Trump will take the opportunity earn the trust of millions of Americans like me. 

I also hope his election might prompt him to deeply humble himself and express a willingness to grow as never before.... first and foremost as a human being.  I pray that he will begin an earnest pursuit of wholeness... to unearth and conquer the demons that drive him to wound people in an effort to "unwound" himself.   That's not me playing psychologist.  He acknowledged this troubling behavior to Megyn Kelly during the primary.  

I will also pray that those who have Mr. Trump's ear will be strong and refuse to be bullied. Frankly, of those in his circle, it is only Newt Gingrich who I have ever heard call out his juvenile behavior publicly.  I especially like his challenge weeks ago that Mr. Trump had to make a choice: whether to become President or whether to be himself.  The same is true for being President.    If he is elected to the nation's highest office, Mr. Trump must seek Divine help to become the man this nation needs at this critical time in history. A 70 year old adolescent simply will not do   

Monday, July 11, 2016

An Open Letter to NewSpring


I write this with a heavy heart, knowing very well the myriad emotions that flood your hearts and minds at this hour. A man you've known and loved is gone... just like that. In many ways it feels like a death in the family, even though Perry Noble is very much alive.

As a brother I'm putting out this appeal to those of you who journeyed with Perry at NewSpring. My heart is to see that this painful experience is maximized for God's glory... that restoration, healing, and fruitfulness would abound.

For those of you who are members, this is a time to freshly assess where you are in Jesus. Are you secure in Him, freely serving with your gifts in the ministry God has for you, or have you been content to be a mere spectator or even a busy religious worker bee serving as an extension of someone else's "ministry"? God created you to be much more than a cheerleader in the stands applauding and building into the "ministry" of a celebrity preacher. Do you even know what your gifts are?

In Ephesians 4, the Lord lays out his plan for the church, for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to build you up for the work of ministry. In reality this rarely happens. Most real ministry does not happen from a pulpit on a Sunday morning. It happens in work places, in neighborhoods, in the streets during everyday life. And God uses people like you to do it, not paid "professionals".

I recently had the privilege of interviewing and getting to know a new friend who has written an awesome book called "Sustainable Church". Walt Russell lays out a vision for churches with every member operating in their gifts. If this resonates with you, a good starting place would be taking the spiritual inventory test available at this link:


There is also an excellent book on leadership that provides much needed adjustment to our understanding of leadership in the Church.


Jesus is building His Church with people growing in mutuality, serving and loving one another. Is this the desire of your heart?

As for NewSpring, my hope and prayer is that no one replaces Perry Noble. Truthfully, we've practiced at least 1700 years of religious dysfunction, building "churches" around "pastors" rather than Jesus. (And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the title of "senior pastor" in the scriptures) I know this is heresy to the modern day church growth movement, but we need to reexamine several irrefutable truths:

-Jesus truly discipled (pastored) only 12 men. He equipped them to serve others relationally, not to build ministries around themselves

-The Church is a living 24/7 organism, not a meeting or an event.

-The American "church" as we know is dying. Membership and attendance are declining across the board, even in megachurches, and if we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge much of what we have done is simply "Christian laundering", moving people from one religious venue to another. For the most part, growth is not happening because we are making new disciples or welcoming new believers in Jesus.

The religious landscape in America is riddled with wounded and damaged believers still recovering from man centered McChurches in Chicago and Seattle, just to name a few. God will not be mocked.


It is too easy to believe in the veracity of our own press releases. At this critical hour I urge the leadership at NewSpring to get objective perspective from outside the church growth echo chamber. There are faithful servants who can provide timely wisdom in how to proceed at in a way that exalts Jesus, the true builder of the Church. (I can recommend several who have deeply enriched my life and others).

For those believers outside NewSpring, in the Upstate and beyond, now is not the time to self righteously look on in judgment at the failures of one man or organization or rejoice in the opportunity to expand our own religious empires... to profit from the likely turmoil at NewSpring. (be honest, for some of you this is an opportunity to get one up on the "competition". If we are wise, we will see that self examination is in order for us all. The same issues and questions apply. The size of the religious institution doesn't matter. For our Father, it’s all about our hearts.
Above all, this is a time for us to look to Him to fulfil the promise to build His church, not to build ours.



1 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Vince Coakley
Greenville Radio Talk Show Host


P.S. Finally, pray for your embattled brother. To the extent you are able; please reach out to love on Perry Noble and his family. His greatest need is not accountability or any of the other religious mumbo jumbo nonsense we've manufactured. Now more than ever he needs to experience the love of our Father directly, and the love of his brothers and sisters in Christ... love detached from the titles, positions, and roles he's embraced, and those imposed on him from others.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Morning Time Slowed Down

The morning of Wednesday April 30, 2015 time slowed down. It started like any other typical day. I usually wake up around 6am visit the bathroom and go back to bed for a little more sleep before starting the day with an hour walk. On this morning an unusual sensation hit me. I frantically sought a way to resolve this feeling? I began pacing. I tried lying down. Nothing worked. It slowly dawned on me: something was seriously wrong. I needed help. I woke my wife up and she called for help.

She was clearly startled by what was happening but quickly grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1. She told the dispatcher about my symptoms: chest pain, and difficulty breathing. She followed his prompting and gave me baby aspirin. Interestingly enough the aspirin was so easily accessible because I had put it close to the bed only days before.

By now it felt like the hands of time had slowed down dramatically. Although the first responders probably arrived within 10 minutes, it seemed like an eternity. Immediately they did an EKG and confirmed what we all suspected: I was having a heart attack. One of the men made a comment about heart surgery. It was at this point that I started a mental countdown to what I thought would be relief in the form of general anesthesia. Not only did that not happen, the journey to treatment was painfully slow. I was hyper conscious of every single moment, every simple movement, and every painstaking step in every process on the way to the treatment that would save my life.

I was taken from my bedroom, in an evacuation stair chair, down the steps to the first floor, and then outside to a waiting stretcher. Again it felt like forever waiting as the Medic administered nitroglycerin and established an IV line. Inside my soul was crying out: “why aren’t we moving yet?”

Then finally! The siren sounded and the ambulance pulled away. I could see a couple of curious bystanders outside the window sporting looks of concern. Though time seemed to creep by, I sensed that this was not the end of my life’s journey. I did wonder how long that awful pain would continue and when I could finally rest.

As the ambulance made its way through early morning traffic, I felt way too aware of every street on the way to the hospital. I noted the roundabout leaving my neighborhood, the boulevard and the exit to the interstate. The speed increased a little more on I-85. Fortunately we were able to zip through, even along areas where traffic had come to a standstill. As we weaved through the heavily congested ramp to I-77 South, we slowed down a little but fortunately never stopped. What seemed like eons later I glanced out the window again: still on 77. I told myself “we’re almost there”. We moved to the collector lane to get on the final freeway. Three more turns and we’re there.

I expected quick preparation for surgery and felt anticipation building for the anesthesiologist to ‘put me under’. Instead I found myself in a strange lab with heart monitors and other equipment. One of the men told me “we’ll have you feeling a lot better in just a few minutes.” Next I was warned to expect a sharp stinging sensation on my wrist. He also mystified me by saying I was about to get a local anesthesia. LOCAL? Isn’t that for the dentist office? Thankfully, that was one of my last conscious thoughts. Sometime later, I woke up in ICU to learn I had had a stent installed to restore circulation to my heart. My crisis was over.

This “adventure” was certainly not what I expected just days away from my 50th birthday. But I am thankful for God’s hand of protection, the quick response from my wife, the first responders and the medical team.


There was never a question in my mind that my assignment on earth is not complete. I will be intrigued to see what unfolds during Act II, as the clock has returned to normal speed.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Love, Strength and Wisdom: The Example from a Grieving Mother


It is a sad routine. Two worlds collide when a black man encounters a white officer. The encounter results in the officer fatally shooting the man.  Race is immediately assumed to be the motivation.  Certain elements in the community express varying levels of rage and anger.  The media turns a local collision of two souls into a national crisis.  The “Grievance Industry’s” troops parachute in to fan the flames of dissension. The end result, more often than not is the generation of much more heat than light.  Race relations continue to slide as mistrust and bitterness are cultivated and regarded as virtues.
In this latest saga, a motorist was shot to death by a North Charleston Police Officer.  Walter Scott was shot in the back.  This time around there is damning video that leaves little doubt about what happened, though the whys and wherefores are yet to be discerned.   Judy Scott, the grieving mother of the dead man is a refreshing presence in this maelstrom.
In an extraordinary interview conducted by CNN’s, Anderson Cooper, Scott quickly made it known that in this dark hour “the Lord is my strength”.  She continued by expressing her hope that God is the reason she has hope for true justice.  Scott also declared that the very presence of the person who shot the video is evidence of divine intervention.
The most strident communication she expressed was about “dirty cops” in the department, which is evidence of her wisdom and restraint.  She did not spew wild and reckless accusations of a racial motive. 
To top it off, Judy Scott described what people would probably expect from a grieving mother in her position: to be “angry, upset and raging.”  She did not say she won’t be. Better yet Ms. Scott said she can’t… because of the love of God in her, “I can’t be like that,” she told Cooper.  Instead she extended forgiveness from her heart, to Michael Slager, the man who gunned down her son.
Judy Scott’s interview was a journey into the supernatural.  She is empowered internally by her relationship with God.  And this stands starkly in contrast to what the modern Civil Rights industry fosters. So called “reverends” profess but clearly do not possess what resides within Ms. Scott.  They project and promote the antithesis of what she is and does.
It did not take long for so called “civil rights leaders” to speak out of step with this exemplary mother.  During a call for the South Carolina legislature to stop “dragging its feet” on a bill which will require all officers to wear cameras on their uniforms, Dot Scott, Charleston’s NAACP President said such legislation will “lessen the chance that any more black men will be used for target practice as Mr. Scott was”.  Really! This kind of rhetoric is a great sound bite for a local television newscast, but it is not helpful in any effort to promote racial harmony.
There is such a thing as righteous indignation and a desire for justice is perfectly appropriate. However, the challenge is walking out these things without the venom, unproven racial allegations, and just pure rage.  We can only hope that people follow the lead of Ms. Scott, a grieving mom, who is suffering the most. This mother’s example can light the way with love, strength, and wisdom.

Vince Coakley is a veteran broadcaster now hosting a daily radio talk show for WORD in Greenville, SC
***You can watch Anderson Cooper's interview with Judy Scott at this link

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wisdom from Across the Pond



In recent months I’ve watched with interest as a growing movement makes an impact on the United Kingdom’s political system.

I was especially thrilled to see the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party invited to CPAC this year.  The insights he shares should strike a chord for those of us who have an unswerving belief in our Founding Documents.

By now it should be clear that devotion to political parties and personalities will lead us through a mindless journey of dead ends. 


I encourage you to take 20 minutes to listen to Nigel Farage.   Then we all need to have a conversation about where we need to go from here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Betrayed


We’ve just passed the ninety day mark since the November elections and by now it should be clear what was sold to Republican voters during the campaign season is out of sync with what is getting delivered.


Any casual observer can see a pattern of behavior that hardly deserves commendation.  In 2010, we start with zero control of 2 branches of government.  We’re promised a certain agenda once we get at least the House of Representatives.  On the wave of the Tea Party and Liberty movements, Republicans take over the lower chamber, putting John Boehner at the helm. 

Then we see bad deal after bad deal, raising the debt ceiling with little or no strings attached and continuing resolutions rather than real budgets to keep a bloated federal government growing.   We’re told that with only one half of one third of government there’s only so much we can do… we must have the Senate as well. 

In 2014 Republican Senate candidates tell us we must elect them so we can fire Harry Reid and stop the President’s destructive agenda.  There was never a unified positive agenda offered to take the country in a wholly different direction… only promises to stop destructive economic policies and a pattern of Executive overreach.  

On election night, there’s celebration.  The Republican Party clearly gets a mandate to do something different by getting control of the Senate.  It would seem this momentum would be enough to empower a bolder approach to promoting Constitutional and fiscally responsible policies.   And it was.   But the hearts of the politicians would soon be revealed during the dreaded Lame Duck session of Congress.

First the Republican Conference convenes.  Rather than taking the opportunity to forge a new direction with new leadership, the status quo is simply affirmed.  John Boehner is nominated and affirmed to continue as the Speaker of the House for the new Congress in 2015.  On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell became Majority Leader, simply because Republicans now outnumber Democrats. Then, we watched the creation of the abomination that came to be known as “Cromnibus”.

No true Liberty lover believes it appropriate to run the government with Continuing Resolutions. And it should be clear by now that there are fewer pieces of legislation more destructive to fiscal discipline and good governance in general than Omnibus bills.  These “everything but the kitchen sink” leviathans are Exhibit “A” for what is wrong with Big Government.  So it can hardly be seen as anything but betrayal that any respectable leader would vote for, much less promote a combination of these misguided legislative concoctions.   Frankenstein’s monster is a friendly children’s cartoon character by comparison.  But the Republican leadership made the deal and most Republican lawmakers complied.  

In all honesty I must say I never expected anything different.  Nor was I surprised to see a repeat of this pathetic display this past week on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.  A good friend who is a member of Congress correctly characterized that vote. It was not about Homeland Security. It was not even about Amnesty.  The foundational issue was Separation of Powers.  On this basis, The Republican legislature voted to affirm its irrelevancy.  Harry Reid remains the de facto leader of the Legislative Branch.
Why, you ask?  The dirty secret is we officially have a One Party system in the United States. There is no real opposition party. 

As a radio talk show host I am guilty of calling Boehner and my former Senator McConnell “cowards”.  That is not completely accurate.  The truth is these politicians have no real Constitutional convictions, and the men and women who follow them into the abyss of intellectual vapidity don’t either.

When I was a Republican candidate for Congress, I reminded people my campaign came under the banner of the party formed to abolish slavery.  I suspect that since Abolition, the Republican Party has no real demonstrable reason to affirm its existence, other than self preservation of a brand. 

Sure, we can point to pockets of successful accomplishments by Presidents and Legislators who advanced some Constitutional principles over the years.  But when looking at the big picture, the so called Progressive agenda has advanced, even with Republicans in power.   The Federal Reserve, the 17th Amendment, and the explosive growth of alphabet government agencies with extra Constitutional authority have proliferated over the 20th century, directly assaulting rights our Founding Document “reserved to the States” and to us as individuals.  And even when Republicans had complete control in the first few years of this century, they affirmed their belief in Big Government, not only by refusing to dismantle it, but by making it even bigger.

Perhaps the most insightful perspectives on our One Party system have come from abroad.  At the recent CPAC 2015 gathering, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage described the reason he stepped out in faith to lead this revolutionary movement to shake up the political system across the pond.  He observed the unholy trinity of Big Government, Big Banks and Big Business.  They create a regulatory environment where small businesses and individuals cannot compete.   Ultimately no one speaks for us.  Now Farage declares that UKIP is the party for aspiration.  In fact, the appeal of this new brand is greatest for those at the lower end of the economic scale: those who “make enough to get by, but can’t seem to get ahead”.   They’ve realized the two parties that ruled the country through Corporatism, overregulation and Big Global politics don’t work for them.  UKIP is successfully cutting across the class divide.  

Back here in America, those of us who don’t operate in the upper echelon of this party need to listen to the counsel from the prophet Haggai:

Consider your ways. jYou have sown much, and harvested little. kYou eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who learns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.  Haggai 1:5-6

Haggai’s divinely inspired to the political leaders is one need to take on today. We must consider our ways.  We’ve voted for this party. Many of us have canvassed, made calls for, and advocated for this party.  And we all know ridiculous amounts of money have been spent in the name of this party.  Let’s be honest: What do we have to show for it?    At best we’ve played a “holding game”, and a pathetic one at that.

I contend it is time to put up or shut up.  Either we fight to uphold the integrity of the Constitution or we don’t.  Most of the labels we hear thrown around mindlessly mean little or nothing.   Here is the end of the matter: our Republic stands on the precipice of collapse in every way and the path of “moderation” is a path of appeasement to those who want to “fundamentally transform” America into what it has never been and was never intended to be. 

Voters in November clearly wanted something that could be categorized as “other”.  But we could all sing in unison the words of a popular 80’s song from U2:“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.   We still supported this party only because it seemed to be the only viable and immediate vehicle to oppose the continued assaults on the very foundations of America. 

I suspect that without a major turnaround between now and 2016, this once highly respected institution will become the new Whig party.  And only the ruling political class will bother to mourn. The people I talk with who are most committed to the values in our Founding Documents are checking out and changing their affiliation to Independent or Unaffiliated.  The Republican Party has betrayed our trust. 


Vince Coakley is a Radio Talk Show Host for WORD in Greenville, SC.  Vince is a former Republican nominee for Congress, and former television news anchor and reporter.