A Christian Response to Beheading

“A Christian Response to Beheading”

What have I done to you?

I love you…

I believe there is good in you…

Eli, Eli, Allah, Abba, Father, what have I done to this person..

Please forgive their sin…

We will meet again…

I am just a seed that will grow,

My blood, out of the ground, again…

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My Yoke

My Yoke

Today, as I come to understand Christ’s way of living for and in me, and to discern what I am to do in the face of a life transition, my prayers were focused upon Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentile and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”

As a former Sabbath keeper, on the 7th day of the week, Saturday, that is, for many years, I finally came about 20 years ago, to understand the spiritual meaning of this text from a New Covenant perspective. In my St. Ignatian spiritual exercises today, I believe I understand even more of its spiritual meaning. I do not criticize anyone who is a literal Sabbath keeper but I find deep meaning in this text and deeper meaning for those trying to discern God’s will for our lives.

I feel it is not so much that we select Saturday, the Sabbath, as a day in which to rest only for ourselves,,, but that we actually come to Jesus to find our rest from the burdens and desolations placed upon us by this world’s system, not to do just nothing for a particular 24 hour period of time, but to put on a light yoke, which is meant for us to work with, not rest and do nothing with for the sake of the Kingdom of God. From Jesus’ example we do actual work on the Sabbath, good works, as we do every day of our lives. For that matter, doing bad works is never prescribed for us to do at any time.

A part of pouring out our lives is to discern what Jesus is teaching us, what Jesus wants us to learn from him for the purpose of becoming his disciple and becoming his apprentice, meaning we are actually to practice and to exercise in the work he calls us to do. We find Jesus is gentile, and Jesus is humble in spirit. I think as we discern spirits we should expect to work in the parameters of this gentleness, nonviolence, and peacefulness which is a part of our rest in Jesus. I think we should expect to have some of Jesus’ humility also rub upon us, so to speak, as we do our work in companionship on the other side of the yoke; that is, Jesus on one side of the yoke, working with us, and we on the other side, working with him.

I think each of us working together are working in a double yoke, not a single yoke. As we figuratively go down the field, plowing just a small furrow, not necessarily any great and wonderful work, others with less spiritual eyes can see us on just one side of this yoke, while the other side stays, against the laws of physics, at 90 degrees, perpendicular to the path in which we walk. I think the reason for this, as we do what is humanly impossible in our lives as we work in the Kingdom of God and the fields of that Kingdom in which we are given the Grace of discernment to plow, is that there is an invisible man on the other side of our yoke, a hidden man, that physical eyes cannot see, that can be seen only with spiritual eyes of Faith. It is Jesus on the other side who keeps our yokes straight. It is that hidden man in us, Jesus, who lives in us, the king of that Kingdom within us. Wherever Jesus lives, there is a Kingdom, but not of this world. Not a Kingdom that can be seen…. Yet…. But that Kingdom can be discerned, felt, experienced, and enjoyed today.

It is not the great things we are to that would wear us out, but the light loads, maybe just looking up into the eyes of another, in place of looking down, as we walk along the paths we are called to walk in our lives, looking into the eyes of a downcast person, a poor person, a mourning person, a person who is poor in spirit, and perhaps adding just words, like Good Morning, or I love you… That is enough of a load to carry sometimes….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

Look Up

I have been in operation on one of my  St. Ignatian pledges for the day for a couple of days, basically the same one, which is this:

Seek, Identify, and feel God’s presence in myself and in others, and share it….

This is a step in self-trancendence, as I see it…

I came upon this link today:  http://go.sojo.net/site/R?i=kGXv9bb2-_pkyJzTcM6w_w

Just to think… Whatever tragedies hit our lives, just to pick up our eyes to look into the eyes of another beautiful human being created in God’s Image, is one step to Eternity.. It is a step outside of ourselves, into the I Am of another..

Love & Peace,

John Cooper

Brother’s Blood

Brother’s Blood

In this terrible world of the past month and a half, let us not let Evil creep up on us and invite us to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

Accepting what is evilly inspired…

Let us hear the cry of our brother’s blood rising up from the earth,

Let us be aware that a major culprit of the violence and killing of the past few weeks is religion…

Let us walk in the Garden with God, as did Adam, and Eve, before religion…

Let us believe in God, as did Abraham, before religion…

Religion is a temporary phenomenon in this world’s history…

Religion is created by man in his own image as a bridge to reach the One God whose Kingdom already lives in us, and we in Him…

Relationships with God, and each other, and the supernatural ability to hear our brother’s blood cry from the ground are primal gifts we should strive to possess….

Not to strive against each other,

I think we are our brother’s keeper, all of our brothers…

Listen to your brother’s blood, and the survivors of our brothers’ blood who have bled under the altar of Evil, and have gone before us…..

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Kingdom Come

KINGDOM COME

In the process of forming my thoughts, in mid-July, 2014, regarding the Gaza – Israel conflict, I believe we should be concerned, very concerned, about the state of ethics in today’s world. Is it possible for mankind to look beyond its own little kingdoms to a greater kingdom than one that serves our own particular selfish ambitious and conceitful needs as individuals, as families, as tribes, and nations?

Some believe the mantra for peace in the world is to overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. The much more predominate view has historically been to overcome evil with force, or more evil, not with good. This view is known in some circles as the “Myth of Redemptive violence”. It is known by thinking people as a “myth” because it has never worked and has never been proven in thousands of years.

Likewise, the myth of the “Just War” theory, developed over thousands of years of Roman Catholic thinking processes has never been proved, has never worked, and even more amazingly, even though proclaimed and sacrificed for, and died for, has never been followed. Just one of the tenants of the “Just War” theory is the ethic of proportionality, meaning if your enemy pulls out your fingernail on one thumb for instance, you do not have a right to cut off your enemies’ hand. Another tenant of the “Just War” theory is that non-combatant civilians are to be protected and not attacked and killed for militaristic purposes.

As we think back through history, including and especially including the history of the Americas, and Medieval Christianity, including the carpet bombing of Europe, and the vaporization of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the decimation of the American Indians, etc. We can readily see that proportionality and protection of non-combatants do not apply at all to so called “Christian” militiamen who may subscribe to the “just war” theory. I do not subscribe to this theory at all, nor did the early martyrs of the real Christian Church.

There are other rules mankind has adopted of a similar nature s in the “Rules of War”. The “Rules of War” are also not followed. I do not subscribe to the “Rules of War” either. But both the “Just War” theory and the “Rules of War” theories offer some less than totally barbaric principles that are better than having no principles at all. However, these principles are not followed either. Israel is definitely not following them in the current crisis and should be Internationally sanctioned, in my view for the disproportional, unjust devastation of innocent lives of men, women, and children.

Concerning the Gaza-Israel conflict today, is it okay for Israel to bomb civilian targets if they give prior warning for Palestinians to leave? Where are the Palestinians going to go, anyway, since they are fenced in? Is it okay for Hamas to launch rockets into Israel not knowing where they will land and who they will kill? Hamas is guilty too, and so is the United States for supplying Israel with weapons of mass destruction, and so is Iran for supplying Hamas with lesser weapons of mass destruction. It is also unconscionable for Israel to possess nuclear weapons, as well as the United States, Russia, and all others who possess them.

I am thinking of all these kingdoms and how all these kingdoms fight and war against one another, all of them whose citizens consist of precious human flesh and blood, including the precious flesh and blood of the Americans, British, German, Russian, Japanese, etc. Flesh and blood beautiful people have died with their women and children. Likewise, American Indians, Black slaves, Chinese, Syrians, Iraqis, and Somali’s, Sudanese, Nigerians, Colombians, etc. have died, due to brutal and inhumane force.

Kingdoms of the world fight against each other, which is just the way it is, the way it has always been. However, is that the way it will always be? I can think of one human being, at least one, who said NO! That is not the way it will always be. There is a Kingdom to come that will not be like the other kingdoms. This Kingdom was mentioned in Hebrew scripture (and rejected by Jews). This Kingdom was mentioned in Christian scripture (and rejected by Christians). This Kingdom was mentioned in Islamic scriptures (and rejected by Muslims).

It is a Kingdom NOT of this world. It is a Kingdom that comes after the laws and the prophets, including what some view as the final prophet. Yet, it is a Kingdom here now, which we can join. It is a Kingdom of God, which we, all human beings, need to become citizens of, a Kingdom of grace and peace. A Kingdom of religion without compulsion, without forcing laws because we willingly love and care for one another, and care for our beautiful earth. Anybody can join this Kingdom now, from any religion, or final religion. It is a Kingdom to be ruled by self- governance, which is ruling over ourselves internally, firstly. and loving others externally, including our enemies.

Here is a link of the Christian Theologian, N.T. Wright being interviewed by Gary Deddo, an official of Grace Communion International, the old Worldwide Church of God, which I was a member of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MblLTC75KOc. I believe this video will give all of us a broader perspective of the Kingdom of God. In the interview, please notice how references to nonviolence are spoken of as being signatory of the Kingdom of God. I hope you will watch and listen…..

The Christian Church, Militant and Triumphant, the Jewish religion, Militant and Triumphant, and Islamic religion, Militant and Triumphant, are not exemplary of the Kingdom of God as God, NOT of this world, God intends his Kingdom to be. To me, the Kingdom of God consists of

One Human Family

One God

One Kingdom

We are members of each, all of us, and all of us members of each other, brothers and sisters, in One human family, created by One God, and members of One Kingdom of God. To be in submission to this threefold principle of being one with each other, one with God, and each, regardless of our religion at this time, participants in one Divine Kingdom, to me, is a key of Peace.

Our enemy is our neighbor. Believe it – love him. This is the Kingdom in you and in Him, and in me.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

Pray for Peace

Friends who pray,

I am sending this link that we may be able to view on the U.S. Internet…  I copied it off my VPN server.  I cannot imagine how Christians cannot be very concerned about this turn of events in the world.  In addition to innocent Islamic families and children, and innocent Christin families and Children who live in Palestine and will be affected by this dis-proportional escalation of conflict and violence, it seems we are all frogs in the frying pan, unconcerned about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Gospel of Peace.  If the heart of the Biblical message is to Love God with our whole heart and mind, and to love our neighbor, obviously 7 Billon of them including Israel and Israel’s neighbors, the Palestinians, how can we not all cry out for peaceful solutions to conflict and violence…  The link I sent you before was apparently taken down by our government’s authorities…  Let’s try this link concerning Pope Francis’ silent prayer for peace, and see if it works.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/pope-francis-leads-thousands-prayer-ro-warfare-middle-east-article-1.1864957

Although I was raised Catholic, I cannot imagine there is anything such as a “just war” and if we even think to go by that unproven theory, let us examine the condition of proportionality, and let us examine Jesus’ hope for all mankind, that we should love one another, ALL of us, and pray for one another.  We are fighting NOT against flesh and blood, but against unseen powers of the universe.  To me, to fight the good fight of faith, we need to at least know who we are fighting against…  If we fight against each other humans, obviously we are in a condition of mortal sin.

Wherever we pray, let all mankind pray together, for Peace and for Justice, and for a Kingdom NOT of this world.

I invite all who are at least a little concerned to join me in prayer, where ever you suggest, whenever you suggest, to pray for Peace in the world… I copy to Friends of Circles of Peace…  Suggest a time and a place, any time and place, and let us join one another in prayer for Peace.

YBIC,

John Cooper

Submission

SUBMISSION

As I reflect upon the world situation today, having had an extended conversation with one of my Catholic friends just yesterday, about the world situation, its wars, the danger presented to ancient Iraqi Christians presented by Islamic infighting in ancient lands around the city of Mosel, (near the foundational city of Nineveh) and Pope Francis and his efforts to make a difference in the world, I am reminded of the scripture below:

 

James 4:1-10
4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
NIV

It is not my intention to give an in depth exegesis of the text above, but what I am thinking about is the topic of submission.

 
The text above specifically addresses the cause of fighting and wars among a specific group of people, Christians, and I do not put the word Christian in quotes this time. these are real foundational Christians that were at war with one another. The text mentions also an inner battle, a battle that is within us, within Christians, that is, and I personally believe a battle that is within all human beings. The text mentions the proper way to resist the forces of Evil which seem to plague the world and estrange Christians, and I believe all mankind from the closeness and nearness to God which God desires for us. Although the text is specifically written to Christians at war with one another, I can only imagine that submission to God, and a recognition of the fallen nature within us, and the nascent seed or spark of God within us that enables mankind to interface with God, is a solution to this world’s war and overcoming Evil, whether or not we are Christians at this time.

 
Before going any farther, I need to state that I am a committed Christian, and attempt to express my views from within this Christian culture, not to the exclusion of other cultures and belief systems which may also have important and valuable contributions to the Kingdom of God, such as the Islamic sect of Sufism, whose leader was Rumi, or Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad, or others. If I am wrong in any way, please feel free to offer your comments from whatever belief system you frequent.

 
Submit yourselves…. (plural) indicates we live in community with each other. Specifically we are speaking in context of Christian community, but I believe the principle may be applied to all mankind as a method of overcoming Evil. Also, firstly, I believe we should submit our self, singular in this quest of overcoming Evil.

 
Most of us in any belief system want to overcome Evil. In overcoming Evil, from my viewpoint, Nonviolence “works” but it does not always “win” or work if we use it to overcome others externally. Our focus in nonviolence should be to overcome firstly the selfish self within us and to submit to the image of God or seed of God within us.

 
The softening and nurturing of the inner seed within us and the realization that we are delivered from evil within ourselves firstly is crucial before we can nonviolently resist external evils in society or internal evils in others. We cannot deliver ourselves. It takes, a village, as in the Lord’s prayer, “Deliver us from evil” a trust and submission to God to deliver “us” from our internal selfishness.

 
Some call this a conversion experience. Some call this inner blooming of the seed of the Kingdom of God within us being “Born Again. Others call it being infected by the spirit of Jesus.

 
As we submit ourselves to one another, in love for one another, this blossoming of our spirits can result in radical transformation, not just of ourselves, or, our self, but the internal softening of other selves, and self, as the nonviolent, peaceful inner submission and infection interfaces and joins other like minds or selves created in God’s image.

 

I quote from http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/we-are-all-connected

 
“Albert Einstein once observed, “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”

 
All people, even from a scientific perspective, are really one entity. And so, yes, it makes perfect sense that the actions of one affect us all. Just as a problem with our foot affects our entire body, toxic fumes in China can disrupt the atmosphere around the globe. Judaism says this principle holds true spiritually as well. The sins of one person impact us all.”

 
Albert Einstein, a fellow member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, by the way, seems to have thought, that if we, as human beings are thinking that our self is not connected and accountable to others and perhaps should be in submission to others, we are suffering from delusionary thoughts that are outside of the universe of reality. Let us then, submit ourselves to one another.

 
The Book of Romans is about submission. Submission to authority is just one point. The major point before submission to external forces (have you ever met authority as a person? I have not.) is to submit to God and offer ourselves in submission to God first, as in the text from James 4 above, and above all, and if needed, and nonviolently submit to authority and in some cases resist that authority because we have submitted to God firstly. If the authority is motivated by Evil intents, perhaps it will actually be afraid, and flee from us. But, we must keep in mind, perhaps Evil will not immediately flee, and our desire is to continue submission to God, regardless of the consequences.

 
Before we can be effective in this submission, it is necessary we are in relationship with “others” even the “others” we may believe we “resist” such as policemen with dogs, military people with tanks, political people not telling the complete truth, people who make nuclear weapons, people who seem to be in opposition to us, or otherwise we might term as “enemies.”

 
An often overlooked tool of nonviolence and submission, and never used as an exhaustion of the “all means” tenant of the “just” war theory is that we “love our enemies.” Sometimes the enemy can be us, and inside our own selves if we are not in submission to the seed of inner love in ourselves, planted by a Divine source, waiting upon fruition. By developing some kind of dialog, some kind of relationship, and some kind of love for the “enemy” we embark upon a journey of overcoming evil with good.

 
I like the idea Pope Francis had just this week as I begin to write this, to invite opposing parties such as Israel and Palestinian leaders to pray together with him and the leader of the Orthodox Church. This has been termed “ineffective” by some, but to me, it has had an internal effect upon those involved and an internal effect upon all who hear of the matter. Concerning the Pope, as I edit this article, today, June 22, 2014, just yesterday the Pope issued excommunication orders for the Italian Mafia whom he termed glorifies violence and Evil. Let us all pray for Pope Francis and his protection, as he wrestles with Evil forces who would like to see him dead.

 
It is not just our own selves, but our own Nations, and the entire world that is seems, according to Christian tradition God desires to be in submission:

 

Rev 7:9-10

9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
Rev 7:11-12

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”
NIV

The above Scripture, seems to me, to be the nexus of the Kingdom of God and the original intent of the creation of the good earth. The Kingdom of God is not just intended for American culture, but for all of mankind. I think it is a narrow view if we include only our own nation, our own denomination, or the Roman Catholic Church only, or the Eastern Orthodox Church only, of even the Christian religion only, and attempt to exclude Jewish folk, Islamic folk, Atheist folk, or any folk, for that matter, who can imagine this kinder and gentler vision of the internal seed of God planted within us, and submit to it.

In the end we must conclude that our inner submission is about finding and joining the Kingdom of God that is within us, which is a Kingdom proclaimed by a Gospel of Peace, Good News that is told about in Hebrew scriptures as a Kingdom of Grace and Peace beginning with God walking with us in our gardens, internal gardens, that is, and envisioned as the beating of our swords into plowshares, and envisioned as the child playing at the hole of the asp, with a lion and a lamb and no more hurt or pain. Also this peaceable Kingdom of God was promoted by Jesus whose inner being reveals to us the image of God who asks us to begin loving our enemies, NOW, TODAY, including defeating any enemies we have within us, such as hatred, jealousy, and selfishness and overcoming the Evil within us with the divine Love He has placed in us via the image of God, the foretaste of the fulfilled Kingdom of God within every man regardless of race, religion, or nationality.

We are all asked by God to be members of this Kingdom and all be our brother’s keepers, and by Jesus to love one another, as he loved us. However, there are requirements of membership like believing in the Kingdom within us, and submitting to it. We have eternity to submit, and I believe we can submit to it out of the depths of hell, whatever, hell may be to us, but I also believe for us, and for you, that today is the day to do it. It is better to do it now. The invitation from Christian sources for your inner submission to a Kingdom that is within you, and is coming soon, an invitation that is continual, from God who comes to us internally, to whom we ought to submit internally, is recited below:

Rev 22:17-21

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
NIV

Grace and Peace forever,
John Cooper

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