The Gospel of Peace

The Gospel of Peace as an Ethic from

Judaeo-Christian Roots of Non-Violent Conflict Resolution</p>

 

We can view the amazing contributions of human intelligence to our society.  We can drive our automobiles, fly to other nations 24,000 miles away, and connect instantly with virtually anyone on earth who has internet service, or a phone, and on, and on.  However, since the days mankind tamed the horse, invented the wheel and used the wheel to carry back spoils won in warfare from our perceived enemy, we cannot yet seem to understand how to win the peace. We cannot understand how to implement, not weapons of war, but to implement instruments of peace, such as the simple but complex principle of how we can love our enemy.  We can win the Nobel Peace prize, yet in our acceptance speeches speak of the ethics of preemptive warfare and claim allegiance to them.  Why not explore and discuss preemptive theories of conflict resolution, not preemptive war?  Are we merely slaves to principalities and powers who rule over us in a spiritual realm? Do we serve these powers as a result of our failure to believe in and practice ethics based upon the roots of Judeo-Christian historical evidence?

For Jews, and Christians, it is important to view the Gospel of Peace from the origins of history recorded in Genesis.  At certain other times God apparently made allowances for mankind to attempt to solve problems through the Myth of Redemptive Violence, and parts of Hebrew Scripture appear to even approve of such methods and support them.  God in other cases appears to approve of polygamy, of dashing little babies against rocks, of divorce, and warfare, but for Christians, we must view the Gospel of Peace through the lens of the New Testament firstly, and also recall the origins of mankind recorded in the book of Genesis.  Jesus himself made similar statements when he said:

Matt 19:8-9

 

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 

NIV

In the same vein, although this presents a logical challenge to Biblical inerrancy, just as Jesus challenges divorce as being normative for humanity, I believe that from the beginning mankind (all mankind, not just Christians or Jews, since there were no Christians or Jews from the beginning) was created good, by God, in the image of God, to live peacefully with one another, nonviolently.  To understand the exegetical difficulties of just a few strange and alien Scriptures, and to hold them in tension, we need to view them through the eyes of Jesus.

               Can we imagine that when we eat dinner as a human family in our homes that we should set a place setting for our worst enemy, if we have one?  Can we imagine that we should pray for and love our enemy, that our own egos should die so the ethics of Jesus, a Jewish prophet, could actually live spiritually in us?  It was that prophet, Jesus, who said “blessed are you if you do this…”

 

               We intend to provide fresh insight into generally overlooked, and generally rejected, Judaeo-Christian roots of the Gospel of Peace as a method of conflict resolution firstly between God and man and secondly between man and man, looking to the Old Covenant for those roots and examining the predominant roots of the New Covenant Gospel of Peace revealed by and in Jesus whom Christians believe to be “the image of the invisible God”, (Col. 1:15) and the “exact and complete revelation” of God.

               In our discussion we will be examining the following principles which we will argue will preemptively, if understood, transform human lives into a non-denominational, apolitical, ethic of a peaceful, non-violent proactive lifestyle, which creates the type of human soil in which conflict of nations and conflict of individuals cannot grow.

We will be examining principles revealed millennia ago which, to our knowledge have not been applied by nations, governments, or seldom even religions of this world, or generally speaking by humans living on earth to the problems of conflict and war.

We will firstly list these peaceful and harmonious beliefs before discussing them individually in more detail.

We Believe we are dressers and keepers and that we humans are created to be the most valuable asset in our world for the purpose of taking care of this world and all life, plant, animal, and human, within it.

We Believe and act on the premise that we are our brother’s keepers.

We Believe and act as if we humans are created in the image of God.

We Believe the root principle of the Old Covenant, that we are to love God, and to love man, is applicable to preemptive conflict resolution.

We Believe the root principle of the New Covenant, the new command Jesus gave to transcend the nationalism to the old, “to love one another as I have loved you” will resolve conflict.

We Believe that “love your enemies” will complete our transformation as beings created in God’s image and make us into real, actual, everlasting children of God who have no bones of conflict in our being.

We Believe the old and new roots of resolving to let God Himself be our king, fight our battles, resolve our conflicts (e.g. – Old Testament records of Samuel and establishments of an earthly king and juxtapose with the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6) and our dependence upon God, to deliver us from evil) not ourselves.)

Faith is required just as Faith has always been required.  God Believed Mankind into being and called upon mankind to believe what he commanded for harmonious relationships with himself, and with all those who he created into existence in his image.

In all our discussions we must also recognize that from the origins of mankind in Genesis to the final resolution of conflict in the book of Revelation, which conflict is consummated and dissolved by Jesus riding a white horse dipped in blood (Rev. 19) (which is Jesus own blood,) that from Genesis to Revelation we are urged to war and conflict by fallen powers which must be defeated and transformed before the peaceable kingdom of God is fulfilled and fully established.  Mankind was not created to be warriors.  Being a warrior must be learned from fallen powers proclaiming myths of redemptive violence.  Who taught us to be violent warriors?  It is our understanding that it is God who desires us to be Peacemakers and wants us to call us his children.  Our understanding of the Gospel of Peace will be magnified as we examine ancient Judaeo-Christian principles.

 

This is the end of first section to post on jcooperforpeace.org.  Other installments will follow.

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

You Know Where You Laid Him

You Know Where You Laid Him


I went to the Country Club of Tuscaloosa this past Saturday morning to try to play some golf… It was a beautiful day in the end of May, just right for playing golf… The Country Club of Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa’s oldest country club, is being sold to an investment group for redevelopment as of the end of May. The club has been struggling financially for many years. I have been there many years, having joined shortly before Southern Grass Tennis Academy, where I used to play tennis, closed. I have played a lot of tennis there, having won the open division of the Club Championship, and making many friends there. About 20 years ago, after playing tennis for 20 years, I decided I would take up golf… Golf, like tennis, requires strength in one’s legs. I suffered a torn Patella tendon several months ago, and my legs are still weak. Later in the day I discovered I could not play that day so I went back to work. However, I want to share with you a happening related to this visit to the Tuscaloosa Country Club.

Now don’t take what I say that seriously. Few do that anyway:):)  I am setting on our deck which Wink cleaned today, having a beer, and thinking about some things….

When I drove up today to the Country Club, I was getting my clubs out of the Avalanche truck, and I was greeted by the older black lady know in many parts of town as the “Preacher Lady.” Preacher Lady walks from Alberta City, where I live, to West End, where our business is, and the Country Club of Tuscaloosa is, 12 miles away, preaching in a loud voice as she walks along in a long dress that goes down to her ankles. She preaches in nonsensical phrases as she walks for miles and miles… She must have very strong legs…. She may be homeless… On this day, Preacher Lady came up to me quietly, with an open Bible Cradled in her arms, speaking in a soft voice, with kind eyes, asking me, “Where did you lay him.” I told her, “He is risen.” “I did not lay him anywhere.” She insisted that I did lay him and that I knew where he was, and that she was looking for him and to please tell her where I laid him. I told her again, as we communicated as if we were normal people, that I did not do it… She said that I did do it, and I knew where I laid him and to please tell her. This conversation went on for some time…

Now, those who know me generally think that I am just about as crazy as this crazy Preacher Lady… I used to be an actual preacher once…. I am thinking now, why did I not walk with her to a restaurant and eat together with her, and get to know her better? I think a lot of people are afraid of Preacher Lady, but I am not afraid… Instead, I went ahead and tried to play golf. After attempting to play a few holes, I discovered my legs were too weak and sore from hitting some balls the day before and working in the shop this past week on some prototype coffins, that I could not play and was just reinforcing bad habits… So, I quit. You might say I was on my last legs that day, which in several ways, I appear to be…

Not Preacher Lady though, she is not on her last legs… She can walk, and she can talk, anywhere….

Well, where then, did I lay him? She said I laid him there…

Setting on the deck, in Alberta City, the City with perhaps the largest moon you have ever seen, and a hotel named Moon Winx, with crickets chirping, and an occasional train going by, as I think of the new Pope Francis and his concern for the poor, and for Peace, (one of his sayings I recently shared) it is coming to me where I laid him… I have laid him… I have laid him there… I have laid him somewhere after my concerns for success, somewhere after materialism, somewhere after pride, etc. This Jesus, concerned for the poor, for the rat upon, sat upon, spat upon, as Dallas Willard speaks of in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy,” knows I have laid him there. He knows that often other things are of a higher priority to me than him.

The somewhat nonsensical sentences of Preacher Lady make more sense upon reflection… “Where did you lay him?” “You know where you laid him.” “You laid him there.” “You know where.” “You did it, yes you did.” These phrases make more sense as we review the history of the Christian religious systems post Constantine… Oh, and my own personal history too…

I did it… I laid him there. I crucified him there now upon my own altars… I should know where I laid him… We, who say we are Christians, should know where we laid him,
Did you lay Him there too?

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper
https://jcooperforpeace.org/

Postscript: Before I post this, I was driving to work after church this afternoon and coming over the 15th street viaduct with Stafford Park on the right, there was Preacher Lady half way down the block. I pulled over into the park and waited as she walked slowly toward me. I got out of the park and walked toward her with body language I knew would not scare her. My Uncle, Bill McCulley was so good at this with animals he raised. I learned some of it from him many years ago.. He would often offer his hand out forward, and other things like that so as not to frighten the animals he cared for, who were likely to run away from, or to attack others. I reminded her of our conversation just yesterday and asked her if she had found where he was laid yet. She had not yet, but began another conversation. I listened to her and interjected that I would like to take her to lunch, but she said she did not need to eat. As we talked for perhaps 15 minutes or so, mainly it was her talking, I interjected my offer at least twice more to take her to lunch or drive her where she might need to go, but she declined each time.
What was on her mind today, is that Jesus is coming and he is coming soon…. In the midst of her extended preaching she pulled out her Bible and began looking in in the Book of Revelation around chapter 20 for the passage she was looking for…. I asked her if she meant to find Revelation 19, where Jesus was coming back in robes soaked in blood, his own blood, I said, but she said she knew about that, and fingered forward to Revelation 22 and read some of the Scriptures there, without eyeglasses, in a clear and pleasant and knowledgeable voice, “Behold, I am coming soon!” among other Scriptures.
She preached about many things…. I told her my name, and asked for hers, but she did not want to give it to me, therefore, for now, let’s just say, “Preacher Lady” asked me to tell you about all of this…..

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

The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

The Kingdom of God and Barabbas

I was thinking about the Kingdom of God recently in view of Pope Francis’ desire to serve the poor, and choose St. Francis of Assisi, known to many for his care for the poor, for the environment, and his love of Peace, as his namesake. When I heard of this name choice, I thought of the following Scripture from Luke 4, (NIV):

 

 

“16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” “

 

 

As Jesus began to proclaim the Kingdom of God, choosing this Hebrew Scripture from Isaiah 61, which goes into even more explanation of God’s concern for Social Justice, he seems to be introducing a Gospel of a new type of Kingdom on earth. The earthly Kingdoms and the Powers over those kingdoms seem to be more interested in ruling over humans, not setting them free, and certainly not ruling “under” as servants to humans under their jurisdiction.

 

 

I am writing today not to explain my thinking specifically regarding the Kingdom of God, but to tell you about a connection to Barabbas regarding the proclamation of Jesus quoted above. I am sure many have already thought of this connection before, but it had never really registered with me until today during Grace Church’s Palm Sunday worship service the connection between Luke 4 and Barabbas. We were watching a video where a man was imitating Peter, and said he was so sorry for betraying Jesus, that concerning the cross, it should have been me, (Peter.) Then I thought of Luke 4, and how the release of Barabbas was a also a fulfilling of this Scripture because it was the sinner, Barabbas, who was a captive set free… Then I thought. It should have been me, (John Cooper.) Then I thought, it should have been all of us, the whole world, and how the cross and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection set all of us, captive to sin, free… Not just us though, According to other Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 5, Jesus was reconciling the whole world.

 

 

Speaking of setting people free, let us look at this Scripture from Colossians 1 (NIV):

 

 

“20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

IMG_20130324_115400_525[1]

IMG_20130324_115527_201[1]

So, here we go… Jesus setting Captives free, including Barabbas, you, and me, and reconciling all things to himself, on earth and in heaven, and making Peace too! Could it be finished? Could all we human captives to sin, including our enemies, all things, everyone, be set free? Would that not be good news, if it were true? I believe it is true! Some people, including some Christians, may not believe God is big enough to do things just like that, but I do, and it is my name written on the purple robes on the cross at Grace Church today with the words about setting captives free written on the robe, with many other names too at Grace Church today…. Let’s just imagine your name is there to, and that the whole world will be as one, living life in Peace… I may be a dreamer, but I am not the only one… :):)

 

 

So, thank you Pope Francis, for choosing that name and getting me to thinking about the Kingdom of God, that looks like Jesus, that looks like you, someone who came to serve under, not over others… Assuming that is what you mean to do and mean to continue to do… May we all do the same… Oh, and thank you Barabbas, if you are in heaven already reconciled. It should have been you… It should have been me…. It should have been us..

 

 

John Cooper
Grace & Peace,
https://jcooperforpeace.org/

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/

In Rembrance

In Remembrance

I apologize in advance for being so boring, but the last two articles I have posted on my blog site, “New Covenant”, and “I Cried too, Mr. President.” are still giving me remembrance of the event Jesus instituted in his remembrance. Now I am remembering how I choose to remember others. I am sure this is a common human experience and others use the same methods…. I have in my possession a chest of drawers form my Great Great Grandfather, Alexander Hinkle, as well as 6 of the chairs he made as a cabinet maker in Salem, IN. (He was a farmer and a cabinet maker, as I am a cabinet maker,) and was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Salem, IN.) I have pictures of his and my father’s progeny also. I have items from my mother’s household, items from my Aunt, Gladys Lemeron, and my step Uncle, Kenneth Cooper, the McCulley side of my family, and various other articles of remembrance by which I personally chose to remember my relatives. I am certain you know what I mean and probably also have articles of remembrance from your varied relatives.

These mementos are real… They are physical… We can touch them, we can feel them, we can connect with them and wonder and remember…. (I had in the essays posted to my blog site questioned if we believe the gifts Jesus left us, are real.)

 
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he returns.” (I Cor 11)

 
I wonder why the furniture we can touch and feel, and the pictures we look at and the memories we have personally experienced seem so “real?” Are Spiritual things not real? Maybe Spiritual things are actually more real, and we just do not realize it.

So, now I want to take off on a tangent, if you will allow… Stop right there…. Think about this…

 

 

Stop Right There 2012-12-27_07-26-33_739

This Picture is a remembrance to me of an art auction for our local Tuscaloosa, AL Jewish Synagogue’s building fund for their new temple which has now been constructed. I contributed a Tiger Woods serigraph to the auction which was organized by Toby Whitman, who served on the board of Compassion Coalition with me. I knew at the time that Toby had a terminal disease, cancer of the brain, and would most likely soon die, which she did, but she was as enthusiastic and cheerful as ever, as I always remembered her to be. I bought it, just to remember the event. I also was thinking how diametrically opposite the picture’s  message was to that of Jesus, who was radically inclusive of women in his ministry, allowing them to wash his feet, pour oil over his head, and all those things. Women just seemed to love Jesus…

I purchased another picture at the same Jewish Art auction….

 

 

2012-12-27_07-27-52_793

 

 

I remember bidding directly against Toby on this serigraph in a light hearted and friendly way… Sandy Koufax was Jewish. Toby of course, was Jewish… As a boy I saw Sandy Koufax pitch in the World Series. I also remembered him stand up for his religious beliefs in spite of persecution and refuse to pitch on the Jewish High Sabbath of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which in Biblical terms is the Sabbath of Sabbaths, a day to fast and repent, a day when the High Priest went once per year into the Holy of Holies…

 

I had to make a stand for my Spiritual beliefs in the ethics of Jesus in the late 1960’s myself, choosing to observe the Sabbath and the Biblical Holydays as a Christian, and choosing to refuse to go to war and becoming a conscientious objector to war myself. For perhaps 25 years I observed this same Holydays as Sandy Koufax, and refused to play tournament tennis, which was at that time my passion, on even the weekly Sabbath, the 7th, Day of the week… Since that time, I have found my rest and my Peace in Jesus, not in the observance of days, times, and seasons, but I still hold to the ethics of Jesus regarding Peace and Nonviolence. I explain this because I admired Sandy Koufax even before the beginnings of my conversion experiences.

 

I remember that I won the auction against Toby… It is hanging on our showroom wall… She wanted the picture bad, but I wanted it worser… :):)

 

Now, back to remembrances… What about the remembrances of Jesus, and what Jesus asked us to observe to remember him? “Do this,” Jesus said… But, would Jesus want Toby to do this, to take the “symbols” or the “real” remembrances of him in communion with ALL of mankind? No women may have been aloud (:):)) at the Lord’s supper, way back then, but I can only believe they would be allowed now…. Speaking of the Lord’s Supper, is it just for Christians, and not for all mankind? Would a Jew like Toby be welcomed by Jesus? To me, one can read Scriptures that say yes, and Scriptures that say no, but I ask you….

 

How many Christians were at the Lord’s first Communion? 12? None? I say, none, that they were all Jewish, and not yet True Believers, and that the Holy Spirit did not come upon them until 50 days later, (or, 49 depending upon inclusive or exclusive counting methods)…However, I believe Jesus has included all of mankind in his invitation to the table… If one does not yet believe, Jesus “symbols” are “real” enough to bring about that belief, given enough time and space, which God has plenty of….

 
I have personally taken communion with avowed atheists, such as Rong Li, and Muslims, such as Jamaal, from Yemen. I have taken first communion with new believers, like Mariko. They took it, and they did not just keel over dead, or get sick and die…. I believe Jesus wants all mankind to remember him. Nor do I get sick and die when I take the “real” blood and body of Jesus in communion with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of the rules made up by men. That stated, however, in no way do I take this matter lightly. I believe this is a “real” remembrance, a Spiritual remembrance, more “real” than if it were merely a physical one, and of much more importance and value than placing a picture on a wall, for instance. To me, I am not worthy, no one is worthy, except by the Grace of God which is poured out upon the whole world, all whom God loves, which Grace, not of our own merit, supernaturally makes us worthy. To me, all men are included in this magnanimous love of God. I cannot imagine Jesus would refuse the bread and wine, gifts of remembrance, to any person who wants to receive them. Paul might have excluded unbelievers or Jews, at times in his life, or those danged wommenz :):), and at other times I believe he would have included all… Refer to his advice regarding meat sacrificed to idols… In one place yes, in another place, no. To me, it is all yeses with Jesus. Jesus gave his body and his blood for all, and he gave his symbols of remembrance to as yet unbelieving Jews, including Judas…. Only Judas died… Oh well…. We all have to die sometime, it may as well be right after receiving the body and blood of Jesus. That is the best of times to die…. Also, it is good reason to live again…

 

 

Oh, and one more thing, regarding “believers” who are the only ones to partake of this remembrance, according to the vast majority of “Christian” systems…., where does anyone say that? Does Jesus say it? Does Paul say it? Paul’s advice is to not partake of these remembrances unworthily… If you are not a believer, I believe if you really care about observing this remembrance, these gifts are real enough, and the Spiritual forces behind them are “real” enough to help you to become a believer! If not, you may soon die, and become a believer via other means…. :(:(

 

 

I remember Toby, we remember Jesus, I submit God remembers all of us, every one of use, and our Spirits return to God who gave them. Maybe these symbols of remembrance we are speaking of are leaves of the healings of all peoples, of all nations, of the world, all of it… really?

 

 

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

Do This

Do This

I write this in reflection of my previous two articles, “New Covenant”, and “I Cried too, Mr. President.” After discussions of whether taking communion is “real” or not, and considering the Sandy Hook school massacre of 2012, in which 20 small children and 6 adults were killed, the question on many minds is, “What are we going to “do” about these things?

Are we going to start arming guards to stand at schools as the NRA suggests? Are we going to stop teaching our culture of violence via children’s cartoons, video games, TV programs, and movies? Are we all going to repent and begin going to our churches, temples, and mosques again?

What are we going to do?

I really don’t know what we are going to do; these matters have set off some thinking processes in my mind which are perhaps appropriate at this time of year, the season some Christians appropriate to the Birth of Christ. (Others observe different time frames, such as early January, and some Christians do not observe days, times and seasons at all.) However, there is one observance that Jesus did actually ask us to do. It is an observance, not for a particular time and place, or time and season, but an observance we are asked to do as often as we choose to, which to some, is very often.

23For I have received from the Lord what I have also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the same night that he was handed over, took bread, 24and giving thanks, he broke it, and said: “Take and eat. This is my body, which shall be given up for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”25Similarly also, the cup, after he had eaten supper, saying: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he returns. 27And so, whoever eats this bread, or drinks from the cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be liable of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and, in this way, let him eat from that bread, and drink from that cup. 29For whoever eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks a sentence against himself, not discerning it to be the body of the Lord. 30As a result, many are weak and sick among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31But if we ourselves were discerning, then certainly we would not be judged. 32Yet when we are judged, we are being corrected by the Lord, so that we might not be condemned along with this world. 33And so, my brothers, when you assemble together to eat, be attentive to one another. 34If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you may not assemble together unto judgment. As for the rest, I will set it in order when I arrive. (I Corinthians 11, emphasis mine)

I am reminded of the words of Daniel Berrigan, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Berrigan, a Pacifist Catholic priest active in nonviolence who was at one time vice chairperson of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, whom I quote below:

“At the Pentagon we are dealing with the insane, the spiritually insane. We are dealing with irrational power. ……
For us, mostly Christians, this is also and extension of our normal worship, Our tradition is sacramental. It is full of symbols: human blood, ashes, water, oil.
We look upon this as taking the body and blood from the table of the sacrament to the Pentagon in the same way Christ was taken from table to Calvary, all in one day. At the table Christ announced the breaking of his body and the shedding of his blood, thereby establishing this principle for his followers; you shed your own blood rather than the blood of others; your own body is broken rather than the body of others. This is the heart of the gospel. He said Do this! Do This! Which we understand to mean not only do this with symbols at the table, which can be very safe in the worst of times, but do this with our lives.
It is very interesting that the crimes that we are accused of at the Pentagon are the crimes of the altar. We have done this in obedience to Christ, and many of us have gone to prison for it, including my brother Philip and my sister-in-law Elisabeth.
Our conviction is that the sacraments, properly understood, are not merely a principle of worship but also a command of ethics and conduct.” (PEACE IS THE WAY, Writings on Nonviolence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, edited by Walter Wink, Orbis Books)

Being a believer in the ethics of Jesus, those ethics of Peace and Nonviolence, and Social Justice, or being a Pacifist, Christian, or not, does not mean we do nothing about tragedies and injustices. Our nonviolence is not to be inactive, but active nonviolence. Doing something, doing this, is active.

Tragedies and injustices of war and poverty, and hatred should call Christians together in a bond of unity to do something. Do What?  If Jesus’ memory is real to us, we ought to do this…
Do this:
Come to the table…
Share our love for one another.
Share our love for the world.
Share our love with our children. (Hug them as President Obama advised, a little more tightly…)
Share our love with our enemies.
Share random acts of kindness, committed just because the love of God dwells in you…
Share love for the stranger among you, by telling a person from another nation you love them, even if you do not speak the same language.

  • Love is a language.
  • Love is a power.

Share our food…
Share our clothing…
Share our homes…
Share our time together…
Share a Hug with someone…
Share a Confession of our sins to each other… Ask for forgiveness…

  • I confess mine now… I have sinned in many ways, and still sin, and I am dependent upon the Grace and Forgiveness of God to be counted worthy.

Share Communion with a body of Christ….

It is the doing of such things that we remember Jesus… Do this, he said, in remembrance of me… For Christians, when we are trying to figure out what Jesus wants us to “do” about violence, and human injustices, war, Evil, and sins of commission and omission in our lives, to remember Jesus and what he told us to “do,” that is, “To love one another, as I have loved you,” is a very probable thing we should ”do” about it….
As a Christian, (better said, Christ follower…) (Sometimes one is chagrined by the historic baggage associated with the name, “Christian”) I would think that tragedies are not the time to go out and buy more guns, to lobby for putting guards in schools, but to see the need to confront our culture of violence, to realize we have been True Believers in the Myth of Redemptive Violence, which is the religion of fallen Powers. Our taxes support the crimes of violence we are speaking of, wars, drone strikes, etc., and we cannot help it, so we too are guilty… Before the table let us ask forgiveness, so we can be worthy, because we are forgiven…. by Grace, through Faith. We are sick, and we die, perhaps because we live our lives violently, unworthily, of the one we are to remember, Jesus. We cannot carry a gun and a cross at the same time. Our way is the way of the cross…, to the Cross… The Cross is the Way, Peace is the Way… The Cross resulted in God’s gift of Peace to mankind. God is not angry with man, He is at Peace with us, Jesus left his Peace with us, God loves the world. This should be Good News!
If there is something real about the symbols of communion, the gifts of the altar, if we really believe in the real body and blood of Jesus, if we believe he is in us and we are in him, I really think we will “do” these things in remembrance, real remembrance of Jesus. As we do these things, Jesus will become more real to us… We cannot bring our children back to life, but Jesus can, and said he would… When he returns.. It won’t be long now…. Before the lion dwells with the lamb, it won’t be long now…
Grace and Peace,
John Cooper