Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Aunt Betty Louise Tutt (March 1, 1927 ~ July 25, 2016)



I could tell many stories about the times I spent in the home of my Aunt Betty, but the first one that came to mind was the time she fried the frog legs Jerry, Harold and I had gigged at their farm pond.  Why this story?  Because it tells how important she made each person feel that ever visited her home and how important her children were to her.  She could have just said to turn them loose, but instead she fried them up for us.

She gave me a lot of encouragement and advice over the years as I was growing up and when I was a young man.  She did not use many words, but the ones she used were practical and profound.  Of course I did not often follow her advice in those days, but some of her wisdom is still ringing in my ears till this day.

Aunt Betty loved the Lord and He loved her.  May the same peace find its way into the hearts of those that loved her and be of some comfort.

©Ed 7/28/2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

SOLACE FOR MY SOUL IS COMING TO THE SANDBOX: SCS No. 91


Sunday, July 17, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 91


PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
Matthew 5:39 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

This is one of the most difficult sayings of Jesus.  Every Bible scholar seems to have a different interpretation of it.   I can’t say I know the correct one, but I do know how it changed some people’s way of life. 

One well known example I will point out is Mahatma Gandhi. He broke with organized Christianity over how he was treated by the church in South Africa, but still left his legal practice in Johannesburg to start the Indian Red Cross during the Boer War before going on to India to lead the Independence Movement there.  The above words of Jesus are credited as the seeds of his nonviolent theories.

Jesus probably did not have a political movement in mind when He spoke the words.  Jesus was really not talking about nonviolence here. He was talking about not letting an evil person pull you into their world of insults and filth.  He was not talking about someone punching you, but a slap to the face as an insult.  Jesus is saying don’t fight with evil people or you are becoming just like them.

If we could learn to follow these words, the result would be a more peaceful community in which to live.  A more peaceful country.  A more peaceful world.  An evil person can’t insult or fight if you refuse to participate.

Maybe the most important benefit a person will receive by following the directions given in this verse is an inner peace.  I was in a discussion with a person the other day about how many books have been written and classes and seminars on how to become happy.  My response was to ask, “Wonder what they mean by that word?”

For some of us who have spent most of our lives trying to figure out how to make it through the day and to come up with a reason to stay until the morn, happiness is an elusive goal we seldom think about.  I guess it is all where you are at on the spectrum from darkness to light.  However, it dawned on me when I read this verse that I might find some solace for my soul if I just stopped playing in the sandbox when someone wanted to throw things at me.  If I stopped throwing them back, sooner or later they would have nothing left in the sandbox to throw at me.

Oh yes, I am still in the sandbox.  The old saying that children are resilient is just a lie to make grownups feel better when kids are abused.  Kids may learn to cope, but look around you at the adults and tell me honestly if you believe children are resilient?  Look the word up.  Resilient means returning to the original form.  What a joke!  I am still in the sandbox, but I am going to stop throwing back what is thrown at me.  Solace for my soul is coming to the sandbox.

© Ed Cooper, July 17, 2016, Stoney Creek, TN, Appalachia

(Ed Cooper is an ordained minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

SUICIDE DOES NOT END PAIN



It has occurred to me that survivors do not want the pain to go away because that would mean they have forsaken their loved ones and did not care they were gone.  I think survivors resist healing and stay in pain also to punish themselves for the sins/wrongs they perceive they committed against their loved ones.  As a survivor one always wonders what part one played in them completing the act.  

If I ever completed the act of suicide it would be on me, but my wife Patty would blame herself just like she is doing now because of the suicide of her only sibling.  I always get criticized when I say it but I consider suicide a selfish act no matter how painful a person's life is and the fact is it does not end pain.  It is only the beginning of pain for others.

Whether we can agree on much about the causes of or the prevention of suicide, we ought to be able to agree on the pain it causes.  I am not going to try to tell you about the pain and suffering of my wife other than to say that watching her is breaking my heart.

I am going to try to give you a tiny glimpse into the soul of a person with a controversial diagnosis trying to deal with the aftermath of a family member completing.  I have the psychiatric labels of bipolar and PTSD, but those are fairly routine compared to the diagnosis of DID.  Dissociative Identity Disorder (300.14: F44.81) is not a diagnosis that all mental health professionals or maybe even the majority accept as reality.  My reality is a we.  There have been times that Ed does not know where his body has been nor does his body recognize his wife.  That is just an example.  I will not bore you further.  What I want you to understand is that as a we, Ed has more than Ed to try to process the suicide of his sister-in-law.  People with a single self have a hard time doing it.  People with multiple people/selves/personalities have a task no one has explained how to do in any literature.

© Ed Cooper, July 15, 2016, Stoney Creek, TN, Appalachia
    All rights reserved 

  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MY QUESTIONS AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER'S SUICIDE?


When Janet, my wife’s only sibling, shot and killed herself the evening before Memorial Day 2016, my entire world was turned into something I cannot describe with words even if I used an entire book much less do so on this blog.  Not only have I had the eruptions in my mind, body and soul to deal with, but I have had to watch and share the tortured pain of my wife, her mother and the rest of her family.  


This is not a poor Ed piece.  In fact, I am not asking you the reader to do anything other than think about a couple of issues.  They have occurred to me as the days have gone slowly by.  Really, they are questions.


  1. Why do people say they will pray for you when God already knows what the hell is going on and will do whatever is God’s will whether you pray for me or not?
  2. Why do people get so mad at me when I say suicide is a self-centered selfish act?  Do they think the people left behind are glad the person is gone?  What is not self-centered about suicide?
  3. Where is a person with major psychiatric labels suppose to go to talk about their real feelings following a suicide of a family member, a friend or someone they knew?  If I go anywhere and say anything real the result will be that they will lock me up on a psychiatric unit and I will not be free until I stop telling the truth.


It will never be the same again.  At one time I was Janet’s pastor and I failed her.  At one time I was Janet’s friend and I failed her.  At one time I was Janet’s brother-in-law and I failed her.  At one time I was Janet’s landlord and I failed her.  Janet Gail Franklin and I are in many ways alike.  Yes I said are.  She lives on even though I failed her I do not believe God failed her.  I believe in the end Jesus found His lost sheep.


© Ed Cooper, July 13, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia

   All rights reserved

Sunday, July 03, 2016

LIVE IN THE KINGDOM GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT: SCS 90

 (Garden Creek Baptist Church (est 1897) continues to hold services seasonally
it is located in Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina)

Sunday, July 3, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 90

PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  

Galatians 5 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

5 1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

The Nature of Christian Freedom

2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. 10 I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

The Works of the Flesh

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Fruit of the Spirit

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.


SERMON for Today:

Tomorrow we celebrate the freedom of our nation.  We may not be as patriotic as we once were, but the idea of freedom still is talked about as something everyone should have.  Most people around the world are not free.  Wars, drought, poverty economic injustice, racism and disease have most of the population of the world bound in their chains.  Freedom is simply a word we speak, but I am not sure we know how anyone is suppose to achieve it in this world in which almost no one controls their own destiny.

Our Scripture lesson talks about a different kind of freedom.  A freedom found in Jesus Christ.  What is the writer speaking of?  There is freedom in living the life Jesus said was the way.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you do that then all the things that have you in chains no longer matter and you become free.

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.

Living in the Spirit frees the soul and a person finds the freedom we all seem to desire.  One is no longer driven by greed, but rather by the overwhelming desire to become a servant to others.  In that service you will find the same freedom Jesus found.  It is not the easiest path, but it is the most profound and peaceful path.

“24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”
 
Declare your freedom today and join those who live in the Kingdom here on earth guided by the Spirit.

God Bless and May God Walk Beside You Each Step You Take This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, July 3, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
  All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is an ordained minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)