Consciousness After Death, Prayers, and the Afterlife

Consciousness After Death, Prayers, and the Afterlife

Preface: I wrote the following as an Appendix to a book, “One Ignatian Journey” which I am writing concerning the St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises.   Having been out of Roman Catholic theological circles for 49 years, I hit a roadblock in the section of the Exercises regarding prayers to the Saints. This roadblock was later challenged by a Homily by my pastor regarding the “Communion of the Saints.”  This is my present attempt to sort it all out… Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Before determining if one should pray “to” or ask saints to pray “for” us, we should attempt to understand if the saints are conscious after their spirit leaves the body and enters into a Mystical Union with God, (or, returns to the God who gave it.)  Death is a Mystery, and cannot be completely understood by humans still alive.  Consciousness after death can be argued several ways from the Scripture, but I submit my views on the matter as they are now, and some reasons for those views.

 

Luke 12:22-30

 

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

NIV

 

Comment: This is NOT a Parable.  Some believe doctrine is not to be established from Parables because of the figurative nature of Parables.  This Scripture views the State of the Dead as being one of consciousness.

 

Luke 23: 39-43

 

43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

NIV

 

Comment: This is NOT a Parable.  This views entering Paradise today, or immediately, (without Purgatory,) and implies there will be consciousness upon the entry into Paradise, although it does not specifically say so.

 

Luke 9:28-36

 

29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.

NIV

 

Comment: This is NOT a Parable.  God is the God of the living, NOT the dead.

 

Luke 16:19-31

 

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

 

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

 

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

NIV

 

This IS a Parable, but if the dead are not conscious, how would Abraham know, having died 450 years before the law, anything about Moses and the Prophets who came much later than him?

 

1 Corinthians 15

 

1 Cor 15:6

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

1 Cor 15:22

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

NIV

 

Comment: This is NOT a Parable, and comes from the Apostle Paul, who according to tradition was taught by Jesus for 3-1/2 years.  Mysteriously, the dead in Christ have been raised to more human life on earth.  These individuals would most likely have shared their after death experiences with the early church, and the writings written of the catacomb walls concerning the state of the dead could have been traditions from these individuals.  How many died in Adam?  ALL.  How many are to be made alive? ALL.  Therefore, the wicked will also be made alive and experience consciousness after death, although most likely in a state without communion with God, having a vast gulf, or another dimension separating them from God.  This is at the same time the dead in Christ, are in Communion with the saints, and in Communion with the Mystical union of One God.  See the next verse:

 

1 Thessalonians 4

 

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

NIV

 

Comment: To me this speaks of the Mystical dimensions of time and space, being that there is NO time in eternity, that we now experience Communion of the Saints, with those who have died, and with those who are alive.  By not precede, somehow, the fulfillment of God’s promises occur mysteriously outside of the parameters of time and space, perhaps in a another dimension.

 

 

 

Finally, see:

 

Revelation 22

 

Rev 22:14-20

 

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

 

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.

NIV

 

Comment: At the end of time, after the New Jerusalem is here, those outside the gates of the city, are alive and conscious.  The Spirit and the Bride call out “Come!”  Is there still hope for the dead in Hades?  Will ALL be saved, as God has Himself indicated is what He hopes for, and none perish?  At least it appears the dead, all who die, are in a state of consciousness after death.

 

Now, given that they are conscious, should we pray “to” the saints, or ask them to pray “for” us?

 

Having examined whether the dead “in” and “outside” of Christ (I actually don’t believe anyone can exist “outside” of Christ.) are conscious or unconscious, or “asleep” or unconscious after the Spirit given by God returns to God who gave it, and promoting the belief that, according to what we think from our very limited knowledge of the state of the dead, that is, that the “dead” (actually they are alive) in and out of Christ are conscious, I believe the next step is to meditate on the following Scripture:

 

Heb 12:1-3

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

NIV

 

If we are surrounded by this great crowd of witnesses, which may imply has reference to the Communion of the Saints, mentioned in the ancient Nicene Creed, how could these dead be witnesses if they are unconscious, or “asleep?”  Could these witnesses be the ones who, In Rev. 4 & 5, have their prayers presented with incense before the throne of God?  Do the prayers submitted to God by the 24 elders include our own prayers, who are “alive?”  After all, we just read in Hebrews 12 that we ARE surrounded by this great crowd of witnesses, the ancient believers, ancient even at the time Hebrews was written 2,00 years ago, who died before Christ, but aren’t these witnesses  “dead?”  NO, apparently not, according to the logic of the Apostle, Paul, or whomever wrote the book of Hebrews.

 

As we examine the Mystical Union with the One, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henosis) spoken of by the Greeks and others attempting to understand our relationship with God, and spoken of by many others in relationship to a Christian understanding of our union in Christ, (see http://www.christianperfection.info/tta102.php) the One, the only, and One True God, we can see from scientific evidence that all material matter, and every human being, in flesh, is doomed to a state of non-existence physically speaking, and our only hope is to enter into communion with this One God, the One, who is Eternal.  It is by Faith, not works, that we enter into this mystical Union.  It is a gift.  It is the Faith of the Ancient ones mentioned in Hebrews that is commended and it may be imagined that it is our Faith, given to us as a gift from the same source as the Ancient ones, that will also be commended.  Therefore it is important to approach our understanding of the Communion of the Saints from a perspective of Faith, realizing that some things will always remain a Mystery.

 

I grew up in the Catholic Church, until about 19 years old, accepting all such matters of heaven and hell, and the state of the dead, purgatory, and nearly everything as a matter of Faith.  I was not a converted person, although I had outward signs of being “religious” when I was 19, and came to a still ongoing conversion experience at about 19 and was drawn into a type of cult which believed in the doctrine of “soul sleep,” where the understanding was that a person is unconscious after death, until one is resurrected on the day everyone else who has ever lived and died is resurrected.  Jesus himself uses the term, as does Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14:

 

1 Thess 4:13-18

 

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

NIV

 

When I was 19, I believed the statement of Jesus, since there was no punctuation in the Greek text, should read concerning the thief on the cross, “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”  Putting the comma in that place allows one to think that sure, the thief will be in Paradise, but after an indeterminate time, and the thief will be asleep until he is resurrected in a general resurrection.  Looking at it now, it makes no sense to put the comma there.  Everyone knew that it was today already.  Jesus had no need to tell anyone that it is today. It is today, I am writing this, but I do not need to tell everybody it is today, they already know it is today.   I have believed for many years that the correct translation should be, “Verily I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

The Book of Revelation speaks of life and time in another dimension different from ours where exact chronology appears to be in flux.  See Rev 5:

 

Rev 5:7-10

8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song:

 

“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased men for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

and they will reign on the earth.”

NIV

 

One can think of the prayers of the saints being the prayers of the saints whose spirits are currently in heaven, or Paradise, and also of our own prayers.  We are assured a resurrection of our bodies here too.  One can think of the Witnesses witnessing to God in prayer, and of our doing so too, continually.  Thus, it makes sense to me, that we do actually pray “with” the saints.  According to whether one should pray “with” the saints, the Ancient ones, with whom we are in communion, and ask the saints to pray “for” us, or if we should pray “to” the saints as part of this Communion, Let’s agree that we can and do pray “with” the saints as they present their continual conscious prayers to God, along with our prayers too.

 

Another reason for our agreeing we pray “with” the Great Cloud of Witnesses, and are in Communion with the Saints, can be found in Rev. 8:

 

Rev 8:3-5

 

3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

NIV

 

With the prayers of all the saints, means, to me, the prayers of ALL of the saints, the Ancient ones, before Christ, all those who  are in Christ since his earthly life, and all of us today who are “in” Christ.  I think the subject of praying “with” the saints, including these Witnesses, is clear, we do it, let’s continue to do it.

 

Again, see Hebrews 12:

 

Heb 12:1-2

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

NIV

 

It appears these witnesses are watching us, watching our life in pursuit of perfection, watching in a state of consciousness, all we do for and “to” each other.  They are witnesses to our lives, also giving testimony as witnesses to the lives they have led, the sufferings they have suffered, to us.  Therefore, if they are conscious, and we sense their communion with us in Christ, it is logical, that in addition to praying “with” them, as we see is Biblically promoted, to take another step, and ask the saints to pray “for” us.  This is a step of Faith, witnessed to by Tradition, those who have gone before us in the Early Church, beginning as early as the third century, witnessed to even earlier by writings on catacomb walls, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christian_inscriptions) allow us to entertain the same precepts as those who wrote on the walls, that of asking the saints to pray “for” us.  Let us also keep in mind the traditions expressed here had a living memory recollection of speaking to those who personally knew Jesus, the apostles, and the 500 or so who were resurrected from the dead mentioned in Matthew 27.

 

Matt 27:50-56

 

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

 

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

 

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

NIV

Let us imagine that these holy people resurrected form the dead, although they were to die again, could tell of their experiences in the state of the dead, in a similar way that those who have had Near Death Experiences can also testify to the afterlife.  Let us imagine they, who are to in Communion with the saints, and are now a part of the Vast Cloud of Witnesses, told the many women present, watching from a distance, who would live even longer, women whom Jesus chose to be his living witnesses, of the Traditions of the afterlife told them by those resurrected at Jesus’ death.

 

Thus, I accept as a matter of Tradition, asking saints, who are alive, and conscious, and witnesses to and for us, to pray “for” us, according to the Tradition of the Early Church, written on the catacomb walls.

 

As to the matter of praying “to” the saints, I do not see it.  I think one should pray “to” God alone, and I refer to Jesus’ instructions about praying “to” the Father, or “to” God.

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I am a Catholic!

Yes, I am a Catholic!

 

I had intended to do some other things today, these thoughts have come upon me…..

 

Per my regular routine, I rose early, today just after 5 AM, to enter into my morning meditations.  I have been using the Catholic Liturgical Calendar as a basis for my morning meditations.  There is an App for that, there are Apps for nearly everything.  The one I use is on my tablet and phone, but here is a link to another: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022116.cfm, except this one is computer based.  You can look up the name, CatholicApp.org on your tablet, I believe.

 

Today’s Liturgy and my meditations were about God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, and also about our imitation of Christ, in so many words, when the heritage of those who have imitated him before us is passed down to us, until the end of time.  Moses and Elijah, even appeared to the Apostles, and God advised them that Jesus is God’s Son, listen to him.  The Apostle Paul wanted his followers to imitate him as he, Paul, followed and imitated Jesus.  In view of my morning meditations, and my admiration of Pope Francis’ comments about Mr. Trump, if he believed in building walls to keep the immigrants out of the United States, not being a Christian, (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/world/americas/pope-francis-donald-trump-christian.html?_r=0) I decided to go to the local Catholic Church.  I happen to be out of town, in Wetumpka, AL and the local Pastor, Fr. Albert Kelly, does not know me.

 

It was a wonderful worship time, and the music was wonderful.  They have a praise and worship band signing the traditional Catholic hymns with a live choir too!  The Homily was great too, and very meaningful, an exposition on the Liturgy for the day, which I just mentioned having meditated and prayed with this morning.  The Homily was about how parents pass on their genes and teaching to their children, just as Abraham’s heritage and genes have been passed down according to God’s promise for generation after generation, until the end of time.  Also mentioned was even if one does not have children, how one’s character and belief is passed down to others who are affected by it.  During the mass, I regularly thought of how I grew up Catholic, and I am in many ways still Catholic, due to my upbringing.  I regularly attended the Catholic Church, receiving all the rites of passage, until I was 18 and began attending another church because of my beliefs at that time in observing the Sabbath on the 7th Day of the week and my beliefs in peace and non-violence, which I did not know were accepted at that time in the late 1960’s to my knowledge. (There were some beliefs in non-violence in Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement, and Thomas Merton was a kindred Spirit to me, but I did not know of these things until much later.)

Being there today, at this mass, even though I do not regularly attend the Catholic Church, I went right up to receive communion.  I was in a little state of contemplation, and apparently I was not holding my hands just quite right, although I know how to, when one receives communion.  Fr. Albert Kelly asked me, “Are you Catholic?”  I realized I was not doing it quite right, too late though, and I said “Yes, I am a Catholic.”  So, he gave me the host, and I drank the wine.  You may say, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” but I say, in the context of the situation, and the liturgy of the day, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.”  It is in the genes.  It is in the heritage of my soul and being.  In many ways, although I also believe in and have a heritage in other sides of the Christian family too, Yes, I am a Catholic.  This happens to be the week I already wrote about our common heritage as human beings created in the image of God, an article, “Cooper White – Cooper Black” which some loved, and some did not appreciate so much…..  https://jcooperforpeace.org/.  I don’t mind a bit if my physical makeup is a little mixed, or my religious heritage somewhat mixed, or if some of my family members were crazy, just like me…  I am who I am!

 

So, after mass, in place of eating doughnuts and coffee, as I have done before when I have been to this church, I spoke to a few people, and left to go about what I had planned to do, which was not to write this article, but I ran directly into Fr. Kelly, having changed his cloths and coming back into the Sanctuary.  I shook his hand and told him I wanted to explain something to him I did not have time to in the communion line.  I told him I grew up Catholic, and this year, for the first time in 49 years, I was observing Lent and that I sometimes do attend a Catholic Church. (This year for Lent I am giving up one drink per day, limiting my lunches to about $5, giving up meat, except for fish on Fridays, and sending the savings to help the refugees, which is the important thing to me, what I can give, not give up.  Also, I am trying to give up more of my conceit and vanity and pride, and other sins…, although I did not tell him all of that.)  He was very kind.  He asked who the priest was in my town when I told him I was not from Wetumpka.  I told him it was Father Deasy, whom he knew and had gone to school with, along with Fr. Deasy’s brother.

 

Anyway, it is good to be a part of one big worldwide family, the human race, or still have in my being the heritage of the Catholic Church, or the Worldwide Church of God, or Grace Church, where I now mostly attend.  It is good to be an American, to be a Christian, but it is not so good, in my view, to build up our walls and exclude the needy from fellowship with us, just because they are different.  Yes, I know the Vatican has a wall around it, but I don’t think Pope Francis built it, it has been there many years before.  Maybe we can tear it down, if it matters so much, which it doesn’t.  Yes, I am Catholic.  It came to me today, just how Catholic I still am..

 

Peace,

 

John Cooper

 

 

 

One Cup

One Cup

In asking for the grace to understand and appreciate the Eucharist’s as Jesus’ self-gift, my meditations today were on Matt. 26: 26-29.  This is where Jesus instituted the symbols that are elements of this observance.

“Take, eat, this is my body”. ..….

“Drink of it, all of you.”…..

Jesus stated “this is the blood of the covenant”.

I thought of ways people are remembered after they die, tombstones, pictures, stories, buildings, etc., but none of these things last like the living symbols and an ordinance or Sacrament Jesus gave us by which to remember Him.  I thought back to Psalm 22, which has been on my mind this week.  The Psalm which starts “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, this Psalm was on Jesus’ mind too as he died on the cross.  Some think, and I have heard Fr. Joseph Tetlow say, that Jesus recited the whole Psalm on the cross.

 

The final verses of this Psalm are (v. 30-31).

“Posterity shall serve Him;
men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,

and proclaim His deliverance to a people yet unborn,

that He has wrought it.”

I do not think these symbols, the Eucharist; this Sacrament should be closed to anyone.  It should be shared with all who want and need Spirituality, and want to hear of this living story.  The Eucharist is exactly how Christians have told Jesus’ story as a living memorial for thousands of years to the coming generations.  Also I think there should be one cup, and we all drink out of it.  I am about tired of those little plastic Protestant types of cups 🙂 🙂      Oh, and for me, make that “real wine” 🙂 🙂

 

In addition to the above, which was a part of my St. Ignatius, 19th Annotation, Exercises today, I think these thoughts fit into the theme of Peace…  I understand that Islam is a religion of Peace, that it is really bad if a Muslim does not show hospitality to a stranger or a friend.  One of my Muslim friends, a Sunni, (one of those Pharisee types,) in fact, came with me to eat at a Hooligan’s , a Mediterranean restaurant here in Tuscaloosa, and brought his own tea, and cups, in a little kit with a thermos to keep it hot, and we drank together, and ate together.  He even attempted to evangelize me to the Muslim way.  I appreciated that he cared for me…    If it were up to me, which mostly it isn’t, but it used to be, and I were serving the Eucharist, I would offer the bread and the wine to him, but warn him first, if you take out of this One Cup, unworthily, you might die…  I think he would respect my beliefs, as I respected his, and we would continue to be friends, not enemies…

 

Love & Peace,

 

John Cooper

Just Jesus

Just Jesus

I just received the inspiration for what I am about to write from a post on the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s (of which I am a member) website http://forusa.org/blogs/tom-morrison/reflections-walter-winks-last-book/12927 written by Tom Morrison, entitled “Reflections on Walter Wink’s latest book, “Just Jesus.”

The term, Just Jesus recalls American Evangelicalism’s creed that Salvation is by Jesus and Jesus alone, and that there is no other way than just Jesus. I quote from John 14 below, versus 1 and 6:

Vs. 1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Vs 6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

At first reading, this seems clear, however some time parameters are not mentioned at the first reading…

What about all those who lived and died before Jesus made this statement? Do they have no eternal future, excepting the holy men of old and the prophets, who envisioned Jesus to come in the future? What about little babies, and aborted fetuses, and those who die before they are baptized, and know any language at all, and have never heard of Jesus and never accepted Jesus as their Savior? We make up all these exceptions because we feel it is just, but is it really just?

I write this in the Passover/Easter season of 2014, having just last night attended the Roman Catholic Holy Thursday service with a Catholic friend, Fran Viselli, and his wife Kathie, and another friend from Grace Church, where I attend worship services, Phil Bishop and his wife, Brenda. It was a wonderful service and I got to sing in Latin for the first time since 1967. However, this is not about the Catholic Church, who appears to be a little more pluralistic than some Evangelicals, or any church, for that matter… I am writing just about Jesus.

What does one mean “just?”

Does one mean just as in only, or just as in fair and equitable, or does one mean both?

I just don’t think it is fair that little babies who die before accepting Jesus are never saved because they have not confessed belief in Jesus. Most religions and Christian belief systems make exceptions for little babies… Why should they? Who made them the judge of it anyway?

What about those I mentioned who lived and died before Jesus? Who were clearly not Christians, and never believed in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? What about those you have never heard the Gospel of Grace and Peace? What about those who know all about the Grace part of the Gospel and little or nothing about the Peace part? Are they too lost and damned for eternal separation from God? And those damned Atheists… :):)  What about those folks?

It just is not fair.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is “just” and that it is just Jesus… Yes, both Jesus is the only way, but also that Jesus is just and has made a just and merciful and gracious provision for all who ever lived and died. I believe Jesus suffered and died to show his love for all mankind. I don’t intend to get religious and quote a whole bunch of Scriptures from the Old and new Testaments, from Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, but I would like to mention a few things that those who know will recognize and those who don’t know Jesus may want to look into sometime.

Let’s consider the end of the book, the book of Revelation, where the crucified and risen Christ is said to come back to claim his church, all of it, who believe in him, or will believe in him. He comes back in robes soaked in his own blood, before the battle, just as they were during the battle of the cross where he overcame evil with good. Jesus will do it again, overcome evil with good. He just seems to never change his purposes and intents. We see a tree of life again, just like in the first garden, for the healing of the nations. We see a new city, whose gates will never be shut. We see a light emanating from inside the city, and there is no need for the sun anymore because of this everlasting light. And we hear a proclamation of the Gospel, for all those who have not yet believed, and are outside the gates, in hell, saying, “Come, Come.” For all those who are resurrected, as is mentioned in this last book, for all who ever lived and died to come to a judgment, (not by us, not by the rules of religious systems, but by Jesus,) I expect a just judgment. I also expect some and I hope all that are outside of the gates of the city to eventually come to the just, just Jesus.

Just thinking…

John Cooper

Taking Sides

Taking Sides

For those who believe in overcoming evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love, of any religion, system, or creed, I wrote the following to one of my friends…  Do we need to “take sides,” or take the side of overcoming evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love, as Peace Pilgrim proclaimed?

“All I am saying is it is just a terrible mess when anyone attempts to overcome evil with more evil, violence with more violence, falsehood with more falsehood, hatred with more hatred… On either side of this, and on all sides of everything, resorting to the Myth of Redemptive Violence is the way of the world since Cain killed Able, and has never “worked,” although mankind keeps trying it over and over and over again and again in place of the clear Godly Gospel message which includes overcoming Evil with Good, as Jesus did on the cross… This message of the cross is the central focus point to solve the world’s problems.

As Christians, we can “DO this” as is indicated in the observance of the remembrance and the reality of Jesus’ death on the cross which we as Christians need to DO often, since we seem to not be able to remember for long Jesus’ core message to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and to overcome Evil with Good, not more Evil. If we as Christians cannot remember it, DO it, BE it, and shine this as a light on the hilltop, not hiding it under bushel baskets, afraid to preach this message of the Gospel of Peace, how can we expect Goodness to arrive magically from any non Christian political system? In Egypt, anywhere, including the NON Christian political system in the United States…

Make sense?

What do you think?”

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

Mother Dogs and Men Who Cry

Mother Dogs and Men Who Cry

We had a mother dog come in our showroom door this week… She had broken loose from her wire like leash obviously to search for food…. She was a dog with a pleasant disposition, although obviously in need on food… Her rib bones where protruding through her skin and her breasts were partially full of milk, as much as could be supplied from her body fat….. Not much fat was left on her…

Wink, my wife, came in to my office crying, saying “there is a dog out here.” You may have heard the puppy stories before… I went out to find the mother dog with her nose to the ground trotting back and forth all over the place, into the back shop, etc. I thought she might be thirsty so I garnered a bucket, put some water in it and offered it to her… She refused the water, but vigorously liked my hands in an appreciative manner and ran back to the showroom where she tipped over Wink’s trash can that had some wrappings from a Jimmie John’s sandwich and tried to open the empty crushed up paperwork. Wink was crying and I began to realize what was really going on…. “It just isn’t right,” Wink whimpered, as she cried with tears streaming down her cheek.

I took out $20 and asked David Jones to go to the Dollar store and purchase some dog food. While he was doing that, I pursued the dog who left the showroom, who ran to a house across the street with her nose to the ground, and I momentarily lost her as she ran around the neighborhood… I checked with the neighbor across the street, whom Wink said had some puppies, but they said it was not their dog… then I saw her, a block away, not far from a lot upon which a policeman had been shot and killed a few years ago… I went to catch her so we could feed her, but she ran up under the crawl space of another house looking for food… I called Flannigan, a truck driver who lives next door to the house asking if this dog belonged to the neighbor. He said it did not, but it belonged to the house next to the lot I knew the policeman had been shot and killed on.

About that time, the mother dog came out licking my hands and I captured her short leash and began to lead her back to our shop to feed her. Then the Animal Control truck wheeled around the corner… Wink had called 311 and the Animal Control Center responded quickly. David came up with the dog food, and I told them the dog was hungry and needed to eat. They advised not to feed her because she would just throw up in their truck… They put her in the truck and they were going to carry her off and I offered the bag of food to them to take with them, but objected that the mother dog had puppies somewhere and the puppies would die if they took the mother dog away… The Control Men began to realize the seriousness of the situation and we all began to search nearby houses…. There was a Pit Bull dog on a heavy chain in the back of one house, barking and lunging at his chain… “He is just a breeder,” the Control Men said, but they saw a dog house just out of reach of the lunging Pit Bull’s chain and went to get a long metal stick with a lasso on it to catch the pit bull it he broke loose… One of them went to the dog house while the other one and I watched close by, keeping our eyes peeled for the Pit Bull… “There are five puppies!) he exclaimed…

The Control Men then got the Mother dog out of the truck, and put a long leash on her collar as I scurried to get an empty and dry dog food bowl from the back yard. I opened the dog food sack David had brought to me and poured out some into the bowl and the Mother Dog desperately gulped up the dog food…. “She isn’t protective of her food,” one of the Control Men said, as I put my hands close to the food in the bowl as the Mother Dog lapped and chewed the food and I poured more out for her as tears dropped from my eyes..… I asked the Control Men how much to give, knowing that one should give only a limited amount to a starving animal, and they told me. I put the rest at the door of the house where apparently no one was home, and left my business card on the door for those who lived there….

We took the Mother Dog to the doghouse and the Control Men said the dog house should have a wood floor, and the puppies should not be on the ground… I told them I had wood, if they needed it, (in our cabinet shop)The little puppies where so happy to see their mother, and vice versa…. In the meantime, Wink had called me at least a couple of times to see what was happening… I went back to briefly tell her what happened, and I am writing in more detail now…. “It just isn’t right,” she murmured as she cried…

After work, I did my regular things, having some popcorn and drinks as I checked my personal email…. One of my Sisters called me, and we talked at length about some family difficulties we are suffering, (about someone we love who is suing the family) and I left work about 7:30, before dusk and saw a whole bunch of new and shiny cars around the house where the Mother Dog lives…. Some of the cars were driven up in the yard, so I stopped at the intersection and took a picture of the scene with the new and shiny cars… I thought to myself, … If the resident’s friends have new and shiny cars, why can’t they afford dog food? So, I drove up in my Avalanche in the yard too, and walked to the back of the house to see the Mother Dog…. The Pit Bull did not make that much of a ruckus, since apparently he knows me a little bit, since our face to face meeting earlier in the day…. Soon the residents came out of the house, the man of the house first… I introduced myself, asking him his name, shaking his hand… He told me he had the dog food and had my business card… I explained how the Mother Dog had gotten loose, and a much shorter version of the story above. He said he worked at Burger King. I told him if he was at work, and that since the dog was apparently starving, since our business was so close, I could come and feed the dog in the middle of the day…. He seemed appreciative, and a little girl, about two years old came out of the house in front of apparently her Mother. I offered my index finger to the little girl, she grasped it; I asked her name, and I listened closely with my hearing aid ear to her name, and nodded to her Mother… We ended the conversation on an amicable note, and I told them that the Animal Control Men were to come to see them the next day to help them keep better care of the Mother Dog, telling them, for instance, that the Mother Dog would need food with more protein while she was nursing…

I drove across the lawn in my pick up, the tires slipping a little bit, since they are slick and are in need of replacing, to the yard of Flannigan, to whom I sold our GMC-White truck tractor on terms… “They just don’t need things like that if they can’t take care of them.” Flannigan said…… After that conversation, I began driving home, crying along the way…. At a couple of points, I pulled doff the road to weep and cry… “It just isn’t right.” I muttered, as Wink had cried also…..

 
Let me clue you in on this…. All the above is written with multiple meanings in mind. The Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse, is written this way… This means there is more to it more than you may imagine at first reading….. For a glimpse of what I mean, check out http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/04/30/apocalypse-now/.

The story I tell is true… I have witnesses that it is true, but I will only partially explain a couple of things…. Other meanings of this story may become evident…. At a later time….

First,
Some men cry….
I am a man…
I cry… I cry often…
John 11:35
35 Jesus wept . (Over Lazurus)
NIV

 
I can imagine the anguish Jesus had:
Luke 13:34-14:1
34 “O Jerusalem , Jerusalem , you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
NIV

 
And Nehemiah:
Neh 1:3-5
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept . For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
NIV

 
And Esau, and Jacob, and Joseph, and the people of Israel, many times, and David, and Kings, just for a few… They wept too….
Real men cry….

 
Back to Mother Dog and puppies… I told Wink and David later that It is just not right, and even worse that it is just not right that in addition to animals, human beings are in the same condition, starving to death too, while we spend enormous funds on the military and killing people… Flesh and blood people whom we mistakenly believe to be our real enemies.

Even the amount we spend on Drones could be put to better use. The amount we spend on sanctions against Iran….. Would that be better spent sending peace delegations, even Civilian Peace Delegations to just drive up on Iranian officials lawns and talk to them? I have asked before… I have asked “high” officials such things…. No response… Dead silence….

Ancient walls such as Nehemiah wept over were walls for the protection of the city of Jerusalem… A Christian is called to be a citizen of a different Kingdom, of a New Jerusalem, one whose light is of a God who cries for us, and runs after us, and whose mayor is a God who pursues us. It is a city whose gates are never closed… Always open….. A Christian is to bear the Armor of God, and have feet shed in the Gospel of Peace…. The Gospel of Peace, another idea just about completely rejected in most of Christianity… Bring that idea up one day. I imagine you will find no response, dead silence…. Other elements of the Armor of God mentioned below are:

 
Eph 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God , so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
NIV

 
Speaking truth to the powers….
righteousness…
gospel of peace…
shields of faith… (not shields of nuclear warheads)
helmets of salvation, swords of Spirit, prayer, awareness that we are not fighting against flesh and blood… such things along with the Gospel of Peace seem to be sought after, not so much….

 
It just isn’t right that we should spend so much money, time, and energy building up walls of defense, using that armament actually for offense, and pre-emptive warfare, while we shed our lives of the Armor of God and ignore the Gospel of Peace and suffering and hungry humans in so many nations, and our own, and our supposed enemies beautiful mothers and children…

Our enemies are not flesh and blood..

 
“It just isn’t right,” cried Wink… Not for Mother Dogs, certainly not for humans…
Mother dogs and men who weep… Some don’t care so much about that idea either…
Maybe the world would be a better place if we did….

 
Oh, I just saw our neighbor who owns the dog again this morning after I finished this article… He waved, and I we walked to meet each other… I shook his hand, asked how the dog was doing and he said fine… I told him there are some people around concerned… He said the Animal Control people had talked to him and advised him the mother dog while nursing needs more protein, like chicken and stuff…. I was thinking of the Mother Church too, while talking to him… Yes, Christians need more protein too… Solid food, the meat of the Word…

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

God, you are just not big enough to handle all my problems:):)

God, you are just not big enough to handle all my problems:):)

I set before my computer just a little dazed, knowing I need to write out my thoughts, knowing I have been thinking about some things I need to get off my chest, the past week or so.., not having a clear and present idea of exactly what it is… Have you ever been there? Have you ever prayed like that also? Help me, God, I do not know how to pray?

 
I and our families, including my personal church family have been going through a lot lately…. Personally, Wink, my wife, has had an exam that seems to indicate something suspicious regarding the occurrence of breast cancer from five years ago we thought was behind us… One of my cousins recently had a Mastectomy…. Our business is struggling for the past several years in an inhospitable housing industry related environment…. I have had a Patella tendon torn in two this past year and am still healing from that… In my church family, one of our members just lost her unborn child… One of my business friends recently lost his family business that had been a pillar of the community for over 60 years, and is selling his home to attempt to pay off more of his creditors.. I cannot pay our business bills in a timely manner as we have always been able to for over 35 years… One of my Great Nephews, only 5 years old, had holes drilled in his head to relieve pressure from fluid building up as a result of brain cancer, just yesterday…. He is scheduled for a craniotomy to take out one of the large masses of cancer from his skull this coming Tuesday…. There is more lurking in the background than even these things…

 

 

Ever been there? Ever done that? That is, you are personally struggling, and it seems so many you know are also personally struggling also? What is one to do? It seems to just pile up….

 

 

Last week, I think it was, Fred Shuckert, pastor of Grace Church, http://www.gracenews.org/index.php, which I am a member of, mentioned in his sermon a quote from Corrie Ten Boom, recalling it something like this, “”When I walked by a mirror I told God, “God, you are just not big enough to handle all my problems.”” I got to thinking about that and could not get up the nerve to say it just like that, but that Sunday afternoon, I emailed another friend, Paul Kurts, a former pastor in the Worldwide Church of God, as I was, the following note regarding an email he had sent to me:

 

 

“The Pastor of Grace Church, Fred Shuckert, in Tuscaloosa, AL where I attend, mentioned a reference from a book written by Corrie Ten Boom something to the general idea of “When I walked by a mirror I told God, “God, your are just not big enough to handle all my problems….” And she laughed….

I tried it out Sunday afternoon three times, but I had to modify it to “Father, someone told me to look into the mirror and tell you that your are just not big enough to handle all my problems.” And, I laughed until I cried….

I went home thinking about it, and had to pull off the road, in front of Your Way Furniture and laugh some more until I cried some more…. It is “Your Way, Jesus!” We are not Furniture, we are all beautiful human beings, each one of us, loved by God before time began, because He gives us a portion of his Eternal Spirit, to live forever into eternity…. This is just hilarious! We should celebrate it! Every communion, we should celebrate, and remember Jesus, and remember we are chosen, and remember Jesus has promised to draw ALL men unto himself…. It is more than funny, it is funny and beautiful….. It is amazing….

We are looking for the original source for Corrie Ten Boom’s idea, but I have found this link that may be a clue: http://rinamarie.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/wednesdays-word-corrie-ten-boom-on-anxiety/

I intend to write some about this and post it to my blog site, https://jcooperforpeace.org/ ASAP….

Personally, Wink and I are facing a lot of personal problems, principally of which is that Wink is going back to the Dr. tomorrow for evaluation of an MRI which shows something suspicious regarding her occurrence of breast cancer originating 5 years ago. Our business is severally struggling, and it seems the more I do Spiritually, the more we are attacked physically… Therefore, when I look into the sky, and see the universe, and read of physical masses in the universe that are billions of light years across in width, depth, and height, and are propelled outward from Divine force, I look into the mirror and say, “Father, someone told me to look into the mirror and tell you that your are just not big enough to handle all my problems.” and… laugh, hilariously…:):)

Jesus, you are worthy, Jesus, you are the way… Your Way, Jesus…”

 

 

Now, your God may not reveal himself to you, as a Triune God, as mine has to me… You may not call him Jesus, you may call God Allah, or Yahweh, or God, or you may not call on him at all, but some day, I really believe, God will call on you, and all of us to believe in the One God of the Universe who created all of mankind and all of creation, and created us “Good,” and loved us, and promised us he has everything under his control, that he has a hope for us, that he has a plan for us, that he knows what is best for us, if we live, if we die, we live and die in the parameters of Eternity he alone can imagine in its fullness….

 

 

OH, by the way, he has promised to resurrect us. He has promised to draw ALL men unto himself, he has promised that EVERY knee will bow, He has said that as in Adam, ALL men die, so in Christ shall ALL men be raised alive.. He has promised he has a hope and a future for us. He has told us he SO loved the world that he gave his only son for us….

 

 

God is FOR us? Who can be against us? Let us Laugh, hilariously, that any enemy can think they are against us, or can do anything to us of an eternal or lasting meaning… Why, who would have thunk it, but maybe we might even consider loving our enemies! A key to peace in one’s personal life, a key to peace in ones national life, and key to peace in the life of the world is to love one’s enemies….
Let us rest in this Peace…

 

John Cooper
https://jcooperforpeace.org/