Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE LAST DAYS ARE COMING SOMEDAY


Matthew 24:35-37  (NASB)

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 
37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

I quote this scripture from the Gospel of Matthew because of the exchange I had the other day with my wife's grandson on Facebook.

Yes, the end of time as we know it will come someday, but as Jesus pointed out no one other than God knows when.  Since we don't know when, what should we be doing?

Note the mention of the days of Noah in the Scripture passage. Did Noah make any headway by trying to warn people of what was coming?  That is why in the Facebook discussion I kept saying Christians should be about the business of Kingdom building which was the mission Christ started while on earth.

Telling people the Good News of the Gospel makes more sense to me than failing as Noah did trying to warn people of the coming disasters. 

Tell someone today what Jesus means to you.

© Ed Cooper, July 29, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


Sunday, July 27, 2014

GOOD ENOUGH FOR JESUS: SCS No. 12



(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 

Scripture Lesson: Matthew 26:31

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
Footnotes:
Matthew 26:31 Zech. 13:7
New International Version (NIV)


Prayer:

Father, Creator of all, may we this day decide to seek you so we might find peace within as there is harmony between the three of thee. Amen.

Sermonette:

It never ceases to amaze me how many theologians today while claiming to be explaining Jesus to us use postmodernism and its assertion that there isn’t any reliable religious truth to be known or documents to be believed.     

Someone said this about postmodernism. "Postmodernism is post because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody - a characteristic of the so-called modern mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning." (Barry Burke?)  

In our Scripture Lesson Jesus quotes scripture.  If there were no reliable documents why would Jesus be quoting from what Christians now call the Old Testament?  Jesus must have thought they were reliable.

You can think yourself so far away from God that you can no longer feel Him.  I know because for years I did just that.  I wanted to be able to prove there was a personal God.  I told my wife Patty that for me to believe God was going to have to show His face.  He did.

William Howard Franklin (July 20, 1919-May 21, 2006) is my wife’s father.  A veteran of World War II who served with distinction and received the purple heart along with many other honors for his service in the Pacific.  I was in the room when the family had been called to his bedside.  I was asked to say a prayer.  I did and as soon as I said amen Mr. Franklin took his last breathe, but I felt like the Holy Spirit had come in the room to get his soul.  I felt the presence of God like I never had before in my life.        

I had started preaching as a young teen on the mission field in Zimbabwe in the early 60’s and had my first church here in the States by age 18, but it was not until May 21, 2006 in a room at the VA Hospice in Asheville, North Carolina that I was certain that God was real and here among us.

My hope for all of you who read this is that you will not intellectualize God out of your life, but open your heart to the hope Jesus brings for a soul to be soothed and find rest at the foot of the cross with a risen Shepherd.

© Ed Cooper, July 27, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


William Howard Franklin (1919-2006)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

IF YOU COME TO THE CAVE




It is never far away
the call of the distant way
to see if I will come
to their appealing cave
and stay with them
on the mountain
away from all of you.

I do not belong among
the normal people
without a label
because they do not
want me next to them
and I don’t want to be
anyplace I am not welcome.

If you come to the cave
you will find folks
from your family
and your neighbors
even people you
went to church with
and went on vacation with.

The cave is full
of just plain people.

© Ed Cooper, July 24, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FREER WHEN RAPED THAN LOCKED ON A PSYCH UNIT

DREAM of FREEDOM

A few days ago, I opened up my email to find I had been copied on an email sent out by Mary Annecelli of Winston-Salem, NC (a longtime advocate) to about 30 legislators and other people in the mental health arena in North Carolina.  I was copied because she had sent a copy of my poem When Even the Devil Deserts You to them and a link to a page on Project Dream Again’s website.  I was honored, but I doubt that very many if any of the legislators read what she sent them.  Legislators don’t listen.

I use this to illustrate how hard people try to get their legislators to listen to them on mental health issues.  However, I predict that the committee in Virginia that has been given birth by the tragedy in Sen. Creigh Deeds’, D-Bath County, family will not listen just like I do not think the legislators in North Carolina read what Mary Annecelli sent them. 

The committee in Virginia is called The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century.  The following is a quote I found on www.roanoke.com. “Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, one of 12 legislators on the subcommittee, hopes the panel’s work over the next four years will put Virginia at the forefront of states’ efforts to improve how they treat people who are mentally ill.”

They will not meet the goal because they are starting with the premise if you just lock up more people sooner then the system will be better.  Also, they are using folks from the Treatment Advocacy Center as their experts which means forced treatment will be reinforced in the minds of the committee by the experts they have chosen.

This business of me getting too sick to know what is good for me and the state and the system having to step in and act in my best interest is just plain nonsense.  Edward M. Podvoll, M.D. wrote in The Seduction of Madness about there being “islands of clarity” in every episode of madness and maybe many periods of lucidity during a psychotic episode depending on the length of the episode.  There have been many places around the world including here in this country where a locked unit was not the response to madness and people came out just fine.

I have been on the streets more times than I care to remember and can’t remember what happened during all of them.  When I knew I was going mad/manic, I went away to be free.  Even when I ended up in a Salvation Army center in Brooklyn and was ganged raped, I was freer than I would have been locked away on a psych unit. (Please read the preceding sentence again and think about it.)

Whoever reads this needs to try to place themselves in the shoes of a person locked up without committing a crime and not knowing when they will get out.  Why would anyone ever trust a system that would do that?  How can they build a system that will be at the “forefront” if the system can’t be trusted?


© Ed Cooper, July 22, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee   
    All rights reserved 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

GOD’S POINT OF VIEW MATTERS: SCS No. 11

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

(This is part of a series of sermonettes started Sunday May 11, 2014.  It is the hope of the author that each Sunday morning the readers might find something within these few words which help them in some small way to take on the new week with a bit more energy and hope.)  

It is important what point of view a writer uses when telling a story.  For the most part, I like first-person better than third-person because it seems much more intimate.  However, some authors can make third-person very intimate by the way they use the particular narrative voice telling the story.  Third-person omniscient is the most used and is like God telling the story while third-person objective is just the facts without the reader knowing anything going on in the hearts or minds of the people doing the actions.  Why does point of view matter?  In a story it determines from whom you hear the story, but in life it determines who writes the story of your life.

You will be most miserable if you let the people around you determine your point of view.  People pleasers never end up with a happy ending to their life’s story.  The simple fact is you can’t please most people.  The more you give in to them the more they want from you.  They become addicted to your servitude and you become addicted to never having to decide anything for yourself.

Contrary to much of what you hear today, a self-centered point of view will not produce the wonders of all the claims made about it.  Building self-esteem and having a life coach may be post-modernism’s way of destroying what community this country had at one time and it did not have much. 

You have read, and it has been said, that our country pulls together during time of war, but don’t ask certain people like the Japanese and Germans during World War II or anyone in Appalachia during the Civil War.  We are not one community under God, but rather a nation of communities that don’t understand each other and even to varying degrees hate each other.  Looking at the world through the viewpoint of others would help, but it is not the place to start anymore than a starting with a self-centered viewpoint.

The only place a person can find peace is by starting with God’s point of view.  The Samaritan woman (I have included the text below) found out when she met Jesus at the well that it was a life changing experience.  First, the fact He talked to her was amazing, but second of all His claim was even more astonishing. He told her that if she would believe in Him that for her whole life and into eternity she would never be thirsty again.  In other words her soul would never feel empty again. The reason that we must start with God’s point of view is because He made us.

I think that point of view is more feminine than masculine.  Why do I say that?  Because I believe God made us out of loneliness and Jesus came to save us out of a need of the Creator to protect us.  My experience is that only mothers have the irrational need to save their children no matter what they do. (Don’t yell at me about exceptions.)  Humankind had turned their back on the Creator so many times and in so many ways that to understand the coming of Jesus and His sacrifice I decided the Creator had to have major mother traits. Why is this important in a discussion of point of view?  Because it makes for a more peaceful, loving and communal point of view which is what we see Jesus demonstrate in the story we refer to as the Samaritan woman at the well.

Start with God’s point of view and you will write a life story for yourself that will take you peacefully into eternity.    

© Ed Cooper, July 20, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved

John 4:7-26New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

I AM NOT A FOOL ANYMORE

Color Spectrum Of The Mind by Meggie LaFey

I am tired of my lived experience being dismissed as some social or spiritual problem that I could overcome if only I were willing to pick a program from the smorgasbord designed by mental health professionals or by folks who have had or still do have psychiatric labels who have gone into the business of providing services.   
   
Recovery seems to be defined by a measuring stick I can never reach.  They talk about how person-centered they are and their services are, but their yardstick is one they manufactured for their own purposes.  Who would want to buy anything measured by a yardstick someone else got to say how many inches was on the yardstick?   

I don't remember when I first got a copy of this book and read it (it was first published on January 1, 1984),but it answered all my questions.  That was then.  Since then, I have come up with a million more.  I know I believe there is a biological component to my bipolar disorder.  As I have stated many times I think we are bio-psycho-social-spiritual (eternal soul could be inserted for spiritual)  beings, but I have no clear idea how much each part plays in my bipolar disorder and the truth is not a damn soul on this planet does either no matter what they may say.

That means I am left to figure this out by myself.  Me and my group who were formed when I was sexually abused as a child.  When you add DID to Bipolar, you get a real mix.  Someone in this body is always wanting to die while someone else is wanting a sexual adventure while someone else is wanting to take a world tour.  

This is not about poor me.  This is about don't try to sell people with a psychiatric label on a cookie cutter yardstick with a time limit on services and a destination you decided was what would be in our best interest .  People with lived experience deserve better.  We deserve more than a good definition of what providers are suppose to do.  We deserve respect and results.  Not just great words on paper. 

I am not a fool anymore.

© Ed Cooper, July 17, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee    
CONTACT ME HERE

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WHY AM I ADDICTED TO THE WRONG THINGS?


Why am I addicted to the wrong things? I just won an award on iRacing.com Motorsports Simulations for being an addicted racer because I raced at least one race 20 days out of the last 28 days. I am absolutely addicted to chocolate. I am addicted to nicotine. In primary care the other day my provider prodded me to quit by gently saying, “If you continue to smoke and find you can’t breathe well I can write you a script for an inhaler.”

Why am I addicted only to those things that seem to have no real value?

Maybe that is not the whole truth.  I may have some good addictions.  I may not be all bad.  When we do something that others look down on with scorn, it tends to make us look at ourselves as all bad.  It is true I have some very bad habits and I have not confessed the worst of them here.  To be perfectly honest, I am not as big a fan of public confession as some in this world seem to be.  Talking about what I need to try to change within a group or with a special person is one thing, but to expose your inner most darkness to the world has no value I can comprehend.

Flip the coin and I see no real value in public praise either.  No award or public honor has ever done anything to heal the wounds of my soul or helped me overcome a single addiction.  Public praise is like a zircon.  A zircon can fool most people, but a zircon is not a genuine diamond.

What really matters is what you think of yourself and if you are in a relationship what your partner thinks of how you treat them.  You and I have the right to tell our own story and to define ourselves.  We help our partners by learning how to be supportive and how to treat them like a full partner in our journey of life-an equal on the road with us.

I need to be addicted to my personhood and the right to define myself.  I need to be addicted to my partner’s wellbeing.  Then, and only then, can I be addicted to community which is a worthy addiction.

© Ed Cooper, July 15, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Sunday, July 13, 2014

PREACHER WHEN I DIE SAY: SCS No. 10


(This is part of a series of sermonettes started Sunday May 11, 2014.  It is the hope of the author that each Sunday morning the readers might find something within these few words which help them in some small way to take on the new week with a bit more energy and hope.)   

Preacher
don’t tell my wife
how bad I’ve been
because she already knows
only God knows more than her
about how many sins
I’ve commited on this earth
and the last words
over my decaying body
need not be your attempt
to save the world
or preach your best
evangelistic message
because it may be
just Patty sitting there
and she doesn’t need saving
she needs reminding
that He is sitting
there beside her.

So Preacher
tell her about
how close Jesus
will hold her
don’t lie and tell her
how soon it will be better
instead tell her
how close Jesus
will hold her.

Preacher
can you do that one thing?

Just tell her
Patty,
Jesus has you
in His arms
like a little lamb.

Most of you have never heard me preach, but be assured I might open a sermon this way to make sure people were listening and to make my point.  Jesus got the attention of the world with His death and resurrection, but we have a hard time feeling Him beside us when we go through tough times.  The many different ways He said “I am with you always, to the end of the age” should leave no doubt He walks with anyone who will let Him.  


© Ed Cooper, 7/13/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Thursday, July 10, 2014

STIGMA vs. PSEUDO SCIENCE

People with a psychiatric label are facing stigma like never before in our society.  With all the media attention being given to the mass killings and them being linked to mental illness, the stigma of having a diagnosis has risen with each media story.  Stigma keeps people from even attempting to seek help, but there is a greater problem than stigma.  The problem of the pseudo science that much of the mental health care offered is based on is a bigger problem than the stigma is to those of us with a label.

You may believe that mental health care is based on solid science, but mental health care is not even about health it only focuses on a person’s disabilities as defined by observation and not any concrete medical testing.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5™) put out by the American Psychiatric Association does not claim to have any real science to base their diagnostic categories on. (Page 19)  That is why for almost every one of them they have something they call “other specified/unspecified.”

If you went to your family doctor and he/she just started treating you with no real proof of what illness you had or if you were even ill at all for that matter, do you think you could expect a good outcome?  That is precisely what we face each time we visit a mental health professional.  They are simply guessing.  You may claim they are making what is called an “educated” guess, but I am saying since almost all their information comes from what I tell them their guess is no better than the truth of my statements and what agenda I have when I am in their office.

All this would matter little if the government did not think it had the right to take this pseudo science and lock us away without us having committed a crime or keeping us locked up for years on minor charges saying we are not mentally fit to stand trial. The state then is endorsing and giving its stamp of approval to the DSM-5™ that has no basis in hard science or even soft science.

I will take stigma over pseudo science any day.


© Ed Cooper, July 10, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

STAY IN YOUR PLACE; WE DON'T WANT YOU NEXT DOOR



In the absence of a crime
they slammed the door
in my shocked face,
and it locked tighter
than the jaws of an alligator.   
     
Which meant the outside world
was now beyond my reach.

I could not imagine
what I did
to make my community
turn like rabid dogs on me
until it dawned on me
they had never included
me in their circle;
so locking me away
was an easy way
to say to me
stay in your place
we don't want you next door.

So the door never opened
and my soul slowly died
and they buried me
on the grounds the state hospital.
My grave is not marked,
but you can still find me
I am in your community
hidden away in fear of you.
Afraid to ask for help
because people who ask
are locked away
and die
and are buried 
in unmarked cemetery graves. 

© Ed Cooper, July 8, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Sunday, July 06, 2014

IS SAYING “the Bible says” BAD?: SCS No. 9



(This is part of a series of sermonettes started Sunday May 11, 2014.  It is the hope of the author that each Sunday morning the readers might find something within these few words which help them in some small way to take on the new week with a bit more energy and hope.)  
   
Christianity Today, the magazine, was founded in 1956 by Billy Graham.  I did not start reading it then, but I have read it for over fifty years.  It is now down to coming out in a print edition only ten times a year.  The last issue was a combined issue of July/August (they also combine the January/February issues).  They send stuff to my inbox, but getting email from them is not like the old days when you could not even get it read before another one showed up.  I guess I better get back to the subject of this blog entry.  The subject was brought up in an article in the last issue.    
   
The article says Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, says pastors should stop using the phrase ‘the Bible says’ and instead use the name of the person speaking because people don’t “have to believe Noah built an ark and put animals on it to get there…” if you use phrases like ‘Jesus says’ or ‘Paul says’ instead.  Stanley made his case for this in his 2012 book Deep & Wide.  
   
Will Willimon, professor of Christian ministry, Duke Divinity School replied to Andy Stanley with these words, “Personal experience is the only revelation many people trust these days. For Christians, however, there is no ‘Paul says’ apart from what Scripture says.”

Will Willimon was a bishop in the Methodist church before going to Duke University.  He has had years of experience.  Andy Stanley worked beside his famous dad, Charles Stanley at First Baptist, Atlanta, Georgia before going out on his own and starting a church which is now bigger than the one he left.  My point is both men are well qualified to speak on the issues of being a pastor.

This is not really an issue just for pastors.  This is an issue for all of us. I think what Will Willimon says points that out.  It may be more appealing to some people if you don’t remind them in a sermon that there is the God of the Old Testament to deal with and all the stories of the Old Testament to go along with that angry destructive just God. However, Jesus never stopped quoting the Old Testament and neither did Paul.  I guess we have to take the whole thing or leave the whole thing.

You can take a scissors to your Bible and cut out what you don’t like, but it will not change one bit of the truth found in the pages of it.  You can say it in the sweetest terms you know and sugar coat all the parts you think will offend the tender ears of those you are trying to get into your pews, but by doing so you may be closing the doors of heaven right in their faces.        

The Bible is the Bible.  Knowing what it says. Saying what it says. Doing what it says. That is the simple way to salvation and a safe way to keep your soul soothed.

© Ed Cooper, July 6, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee  
     All rights reserved  

                   

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

MOTHER EARTH WILL OUTLAST HUMANS




Mother earth will remain
well past the time
when there are humans
to observe 
what we have done
to the home
we were given
but did not love 
enough 
to care for it
in a manner
to survive on it.

God forgive us
for this grave sin.

© Ed Cooper, 6/30/2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee