Sunday, October 25, 2015

LEARNING TO DISCERN SCRIPTURE: SCS No. 59

The Old Pine Grove Community Church, Ezel, KY


Sunday, October 25, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 59

PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and whatever Your will is to give us the strength and wisdom to live Your will till Your Son comes back.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 13:22 King James Version (KJV)

22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

SERMON for Today:

These sermonettes have been very irregular of late.  The explanation is both simple and complicated.  The simple answer is that I have been going through a crisis which is both a spiritual crisis and a mental/physical crisis.  It is easy to state, but very hard to explain.  Therefore I am not going to bore you with the details, but I am going to try harder to be more committed to communicating regularly with those of you who read these.

We will not continue with the Gospel of Mark after today until we get near Easter next year because that is where we are coming to in Mark.  We will pick it up then.

I was trying to put together a conference on Faith Communities and Mental Health for next April 30th.  I mention this because some of you may have read about it on here.  Well I had to cancel the effort because I could not find an appropriate organization in the Tri-Cities area of TN/VA to get behind it with me.  The divisions in the mental health arena are very much like the divisions in the church.  It did not do my personal mental health much good to have to give up on this important endeavor which I had called “The Forgotten People of Appalachia.”  However, it would have done my mental health less good to continue.

The verse for today which was in the Scripture Lesson on September 6, 2015 talks about “false Christs and false prophets.”  We know the church is divided on what they call truth.  Who are the true ones or the false ones?  I am not the one to tell you, but in trying to put together this conference which is now not going to happen I found a friend from years ago when I first started Project Dream Again then called Christian Friends of the Mentally Ill.  His name is the Rev. Dr. John F. Baggett.
Dr. Baggett, Ph.D. had a book published in 2008 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company which when I tell you the title you might say John was reaching pretty high to think he could write such a book.  The book is titled Seeing Through The Eyes Of Jesus: His Revolutionary View of Reality & His Transcendent Significance for Faith. (available at Amazon.com or from the publisher)  He pulls it off.  It might be because of his theological education at Kentucky Wesleyan College and Vanderbilt Divinity School or his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from UNC at Chapel Hill.  I think he pulls it off for the most part from his lived experiences with and without Jesus.  All the academic work is in the book, but there is a deeper underlying stream running through it that only comes from the pain of feeling the loss and the nearness of Jesus.  You cannot write about life from an ivory tower, but the tower can help you explain the pain and confusion of ordinary life if you do not lose touch with your roots while in the tower.  John stayed rooted.  (I have not finished the entire book.  If my opinion changes I will let you know.)

I read the Addendum to Part 1 first because it covered the methodology of how to study the gospels or anything for that matter.  It would help if people trying to understand the verse for today read John’s Addendum.  

Zondervan just published a Bible this year NIV Understanding The Faith Study Bible © by Christianity Today.  In it they use this text to go into a long explanation of free will saying even the “elect” can be turned and pointing to John Wesley as one who believed in free will.  Look the same verse up in the ESV Study Bible and it will tell you “Jesus’ remark that even the elect could be led astray emphasizes the stunning character of the false prophets’ miracles. But God will protect his own, so that they will not believe in a false messiah or prophet.”

If you went to the church in the picture above as I did in my youth you would have heard it both ways at one time or the other.  My point is that each of us needs to understand enough about how to read and understand the Scriptures that we can find our way into the loving arms of Jesus even if we never find a loving community of believers who do not put others down and condemn them to hell for beliefs they themselves do not hold.

May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

  
© Ed Cooper, October 25, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

FOR MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK:JESUS WAS CALLED INSANE


John 10:20 (ESV) Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?”

The question is often asked what should be the response of the church to folks who have been given a psychiatric label?  Many denominations have come up with statements, papers, booklets and training materials on how a congregation should go about reaching out to us.  Yes, I have have a couple of psychiatric diagnoses.  They don’t seem to be handed out one at a time anymore.  They are all good materials.  However, the best materials in my opinion can be found in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.  Jesus reacted to each person as an individual and did not shy away from them no matter their malady, sinfulness or social status.  The early church saw to it that everyone was taken care of “as any had need.” (Acts 2:45 ESV)

The church is the natural home of the hurting.  What is home like?  It is a place where you would be seen as whole even in your brokenness.  The best example of this in literature is the way Jesus treated those He came in contact with.  He did not smile and agree they were angel material, but on the other hand He was always willing to be with them and break bread with them and heal their illnesses and wounded souls.  

Home is where your both your soul and self are embraced.  The church as a healing home does not have to try to be a mental health center, but rather just be itself.  God’s people in community where folks can find love not because of what they can do or have, but because they are one of God’s children.  The greatest tool I have in my daily struggle is knowing God loves me no matter how well I can function in this world.  He walked with me when I lived on the streets and He walked with me when I ran my own company.  He has guided me since 1988 in this ministry called Project Dream Again.  He knows my flaws.  He knows my illnesses.  He loves me anyway.  He helped me find a wife who loves me anyway.  Everybody can’t have a wife like Patty, but everyone could have a home in a community of believers if the shepherds would start looking where the hurting sheep are.

No special programs are needed, but discussing the issues openingly so people know they are welcome and don’t have to hide in shame is one way to show love.  To be inclusive means you may have to do some creative accommodations.  Maybe  a room where folks can hear and see the service, but still move around if they need to.  I can’t always sit still through an entire service.

© Ed Cooper, April 29, 2015, Stoney Creek, TN
All rights reserved
Republished from another blog

Monday, October 05, 2015

Scott Cameron Pelley OWES US AN APOLOGY



I have enough diagnoses from DSM-5 that the letters that represent them could make up a good alphabet soup. However, not a single one of my diagnoses explain or is the causation of a particular action.  All of me goes into determining my behavior or reaction at any given moment in my life.  My genetic makeup, my social and psychological history, my spiritual life or lack of one, my mind and my brain and my body all influence who I am and how I behave.  All of my fellow humans are the same as me.  That is why I am always so astounded when some newscaster like Scott Cameron Pelley, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, immediately says “mental illness” when speaking about the latest mass murder at a college.  He had no idea at the time he spoke the words what the causation of the shooter’s actions were.  No one ever will because the person took his own life when cornered by the police.  All the profiling and theorizing by newscasters and others does not produce anything but more stigma for those of us with a psychiatric diagnosis.  The fact is it does not produce truth.

First, they never even define what they mean when they use the term “mental illness.”  They use it then use the term disturbed.  What do they mean?  They mean the person has done something so abhorrent that there must be something wrong with them so they throw out words like mental illness and disturbed mind.  They never say the person had a shattered soul so they committed an evil act.

Second, there is an agenda by all sides that comes out every time one of these mass murders takes place.  The gun control people take to their bully pulpit.  The people who want no gun control laws take to their mental health bully pulpit wanting more of us locked up and forced treated.  The result is there is never a conversation or dialogue that has a chance of arriving at anything close to the truth.

Third, we have celebrity types like Patrick Kennedy going on shows like 60 Minutes trying to speak for all of us.  Years ago I was in a meeting in Philadelphia when a very nice lady who headed up services there reminded me I only spoke for myself and not for all people with a psychiatric diagnosis.  It embarrassed me at the time, but I have not forgotten it.  Mr. Kennedy needs to remember he speaks only from his own experiences which means he might want to look at some of the methods such as forced treatment he is supporting.

Reporting news is not making statements that no one could support with any shred of evidence.   Scott Cameron Pelley you owe us and our families an apology for making statements that are not only not supported by the research, but that no one can ever know since the man is dead.  You increased the stigma without any science to back your statements and you did it right before Mental Illness Awareness Week.  You along with your fellow reporters sure made the country aware. Is that good reporting Mr. Pelley?

© Ed Cooper, October 5, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
   All rights reserved