Psalm 105:19-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,[a]
    the Lord tested Joseph’s character.


This is my second installment of the “I appreciate the Pastoral Office” series. I’m writing this one because every time I ask Pastor Thomas if he remembers any of this stuff his standard replay is, “nope”. Thomas and I go back to Junior High School so I can poke the bear and get away with it, I think? Once again, I will say Habakkuk 2:3 NAS is a fascinating verse. It says, “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” In the mid 1990’s I started to attend his small Vineyard church in Kennesaw, Ga. When I say small Vineyard church I mean by the late 90’s we were meeting in a Elementary school to save money for our own place. I started taking in upon myself to help look for a suitable piece of land where we could build a church. If I remember correctly we needed at least five acres. I’m not positive but I believe that was the minimum required amount a land for a church. It was the fall of 1997 I believe when I was going through a horrible demonic attack for what I recall was weeks. At the time I did not understand, “through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom”. I did not understand how God loves to “prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies.” All I knew was it sucked! I remember one weekend during that difficult season trying to go to a small home group of a friend who was a part of another church. I typically have a great sense of direction but I vividly remember getting so confused about where I was going I almost gave up and went back home. But I found them. This guy knew we were looking for land for our church. He also knew his church was not able to get financing for the land across from him there in Kennesaw. He told me his church walked that land (8.5 acres) and prayed and claimed it for the Kingdom. Pastor Thomas will tell you he remembers THAT part of the story. The land was over the required 5 acres. I was told exactly where it was and that we could get it for as little as $140,000. There was not even a “for sale” sign up on it. I went straight there after our meeting to check it out. I had recorded a dream in my dream journal where there were “all hardwoods with a steep slope down to a small stream.” I also recorded there were deer on this property. When I got out of my truck to go look at the land I saw all hardwoods. I saw there was a slope going away from me and when I went and looked down the slope there was the little stream. I had seen enough.

I went straight to Pastor Thomas’ house about 1 mile from there. I told him I thought I had found the land close by and we could get it for $140,000. He said he had a ALTA tennis match in about 30 minutes, “LET’S GO!!”. I showed him the land explaining it was exactly what I saw in the dream but there were deer in my dream. Thinking symbolically, I didn’t understand that part. Thomas said, “LOOK!” as he pointed out a rub on a little tree. The male deer (a buck) rubs trees with his antlers, kind of marking his territory. So, there were literally deer on the property. So cool.. We had to get him back for his tennis match but we both felt good about this property. I told him I had seen a door open from the outside. He was sitting in my passenger seat with his window down and said, “like this?” as he reached out to open the door from the outside. I say this because as I went to his house I saw a “Kennesaw City Limits” sign like maybe the land was just outside the city limits. Ironically, I can’t remember the name of the Church who prayerfully gave it to us. Go figure?

The long story short is we bought the land and started building Cobb Vineyard. Kennesaw is in Cobb County Georgia. They have since added another acre of land so they now have 9.5 acres. I always love the story about the clearing of the land. A very large oak tree was taken down and it was full of honey bees and honey. Thomas had someone who made their own honey come get the bees but he kept the honey for his family. I remember one his grown sons recently telling me he remembered eating that honey as a child. Is it a land flowing with milk and honey? Well, of course it is! Deer don’t just mark their territory. They give their babies milk. I’m including the link to Cobb Vineyard above as it is today on main street Kennesaw, Ga.  Again, I would like to use a couple of verses to sum up. 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NLT says, “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” What Thomas Cooley did took tremendous faith. He believed God had surely spoken to him about a church and his God was more than able to bring His word to pass. At creation God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. At some point God said,”Let there be a Cobb Vineyard Church” and somewhere Thomas Cooley was listening. Remembering Isaiah of old, Thomas said,”here am I Lord, send me.” And you can now see the results. Well done, Thomas Cooley.

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