Sunday, August 06, 2017

DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALONE: SCS 111


Sunday, August 6, 2017, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 111


THE WAY JESUS TAUGHT US TO PRAY:

The Lord's Prayer

Matthew 6: 5-15 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.




SCRIPTURE LESSON:
Matthew 5:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 5:47 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

SERMONETTE:

There is more to being a Christian than simply saying the words, “I am a Christian.”  When Jesus was on this earth He set a very high standard both in word and deed.  In today’s text He lays out some very tough targets.  He tells us to love our enemies and to be perfect.

The truth is I have not done very well at either one.  I tend to fight back and I certainly am not perfect.  Does He really expect us to be able to do these two things?

The problem here is that people seem to not be able to get the meaning of the text.  In my humble opinion Jesus is not talking about a doctrine of Christian perfection as some would have you believe.  We know that no one who has lived on earth has lived a perfect life other than Jesus.  What did He mean?  He is saying we must have perfect/complete love for our fellow humans just as God does.  He is talking about how we treat others.  That is the context of the statement and the meaning of the statement.

So the question is can I love my enemies?   Can I love all people?  The answer is yes if I let the Holy Spirit guide my inner life.  I cannot do it alone, but I can if I do not try to do it alone.



May God Bless You and Walk Beside You This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, August 6, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is Director of Project Dream Again and an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CAN YOU DREAM AGAIN ISOLATED AND ALONE?(Ed’s Encouraging Epistle No. 1)


In 1989 a church near Atlanta, Georgia sent me out as a special missionary/minister to do ministry with folks with a mental illness label and their families.  They did it based on the fact I felt called to this special ministry and I was an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  Project Dream Again was born out of this ministry.  Because of life circumstances Project Dream Again has expanded beyond its original target population to include the families left behind after suicide and with folks and their families dealing with cancer and other terminal diseases.   

Learning to Dream Again and being Born Again are similar concepts.  Dream Again was not an original concept.  It was stolen right out of the Gospels.  Finding a new starting point to build the you of your dreams is the same concept as being born again to live a new life in the Kingdom. The question I posed was can you learn to Dream Again in isolation and alone?  I will answer that with an unequivocal no.  However, even if you dread human contact with a passion you do not have to be alone.

Romans 8:28 English Standard Version (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
Footnotes:
Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

The Scripture above is often quoted when bad things happen or when someone dies.  I am not sure what the definition of “good” is.  I may not at the time understand God’s “good.”

The thing is if a person has ever felt the presence of the Holy Spirit/Jesus walking with them then if they look deep within they will find they are not alone.  If they have never known the peace He brings, then hopefully they will seek Him.

If your loved one is no longer with you you will begin to Dream Again when you feel Jesus within and know you will see your loved one again.

I wrote the following in 2008 to take stock of my inner being.   We need to look deep within.   Maybe if we followed more closely in the footprints of the Peacemaker we would be more at peace.


FOOTPRINTS of HIS SON /January 17, 2008
It is three in the morning here in Glen Alpine, North Carolina and it is snowing outside. Everything is turning white. How I wish my insides were as white as the outside looks right now, but they are not. Lawrence Wright, a Texan, is the author of the book Saints & Sinners. He also wrote City Children, Country Summer: A Story of Ghetto Children Among the Amish.

I often ask myself am I a saint or a sinner? Good or bad? Growing up with a father who was a minister, missionary, and high school principal among other teaching and educational positions and having a mother who was a school teacher (they are both deceased) does not allow one the luxury of avoiding the question. So I am forced to try to answer the question in some fashion. Let me tell you about three men I wish I was more like in some ways. You may be surprised because they are not very famous, but they are my trifecta.
First, my father Lester J. Cooper (1919-1989) not because he was a minister or missionary or educator, but because he taught me how to learn, to love philosophy, and he loved the dirt. When we got to the mission field in 1960 conditions in southern Africa were dangerous for people of my skin color. Since I am white it was decided that I would have to stay on the mission station 100 miles from the nearest town and that the missionaries would teach me. The other missionary kids seemed to do fine, but I was a problem so Dad taught me. The main thing he taught me was how to learn, and a byproduct of that was a love for philosophy. He grew up in the hills of Kentucky and had dirt in his veins. He had a garden, fruit trees, and grapevines etc. on his little lot in College Park, GA. Until he was no longer able just before his death.

Second, is Will Davis Campbell who was a major supporter of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. Born July 18, 1924, in Amite County, Mississippi, Campbell grew up in Liberty, Mississippi — a town name fitting for what Campbell wanted to find through his work as a Civil Rights activist and a preacher. Campbell earned his A.B. at Wake Forest College and a B.D. from Yale. He was a Baptist preacher in Taylor, Louisiana, for two years before taking the position of Director of Religious Life at the University of Mississippi from 1954 to 1956. Forced to leave the university because of his ardent Civil Rights participation, Campbell served on the National Council of Churches in New York as a race relations consultant. Campbell worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Andrew Young towards bettering race relations. Today, he continues his pursuit of spiritual and racial liberty as a pastor in Tennessee. Campbell's Brother to a Dragonfly earned him the Lillian Smith Prize, the Christopher Award, and a National Book Award nomination. The Glad River won a first-place award from the Friends of American Writers in 1982. His works have also won a Lyndhurst Prize and an Alex Haley Award.

Third, is Don West (1906-1992) In a book review written by Rachel Rubin this native of the North Georgia mountains who worked in in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia is described by her like this, “West is widely viewed as one of the most compelling political and literary figures of the Southern Appalachians during the middle of the twentieth century. She goes on to say, “Don West was a poet, a promoter of mountain music, a minister, a labor organizer, an educator, a leftist activist, an amateur historian and a firm advocate for grass-roots mountain people and traditional regional values.” Could there be any higher praise for a life well lived?

What do these three have in common? They were all three ministers and teachers. They all three believed deeply in their mission.

Am I a saint or a sinner? The truth is someone else gets to decide. For now the folks who watch me live my life can decide for themselves, but ultimately I will be judged by my Creator and on that day I must rely on the hope found in His Grace. Until then all I can do is try to walk in the footprints of His Son.
You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com

©Ed Cooper, June 25, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

All rights reserved

Sunday, March 26, 2017

“THY WILL BE DONE”, but: SCS 110

Grandma and Grandpa Tutt

Sunday, March 26, 2017, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 110

PRAYER for Today:
Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

MORNING WORSHIP MUSIC:

Don Williams - You're my best friend 1982

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:
Matthew 6:5-15 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lord's Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.[d]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 6:9 Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence
  2. Matthew 6:10 Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done
  3. Matthew 6:11 Or our bread for tomorrow
  4. Matthew 6:13 Or the evil one; some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen


SERMON for Today:


My grandpa Tutt always asked. “Have you ever heard of a preacher saying he got a calling from God to go to a smaller church with less pay?”   He was questioning whether or not they were being truly being called.  We pray for God’s will, but we mostly want Him to do what we want.  Grandpa was saying the preachers were going where they wanted.  Are we doing what God wants or what we want?  Are we praying for His will or our desires?


How do we know God’s will?


  1. We study His life and actions while He was on earth in the form of His son Jesus.  We can learn much about what His will for us is by knowing what He did while He was living as a human.  For example He was always approachable by the sick.
  2. We must study His words until they are like our own.
  3. We must be in constant prayer.


1 Thessalonians 5:14-22English Standard Version (ESV)
14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Or disorderly, or undisciplined


May God Bless You and Walk Beside You This Week. Amen


© Ed Cooper, March 26, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is Director of Project Dream Again and an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

IF PRESIDENT TRUMP MET JESUS ON THE WAY TO Mar-a-Lago?: SCS 109

Mouth of Buffalo, Near Salyersville, KY

Sunday, March 19, 2017, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 109

PRAYER for Today:
Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


MORNING WORSHIP MUSIC:

Elvis Presley - Why Me Lord (Live in Memphis 1974)

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:

Matthew 19:13-30 English Standard Version (ESV)

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

SERMON for Today:

I don't know if you care about Appalachia or Eastern Kentucky at all?  My mother, father, two sisters and I were all born and mostly raised in Eastern Kentucky.  I presently live in Appalachia. What President Trump has proposed in his budget is personal to me.  I do not apologize for this sermon taking a personal tone or a political tone.  I can stand in the David M. Cooper Cemetery near Salyersville, KY and stand next to my kin from the Revolutionary War.



“ A baby born today to parents in Wolfe County [KY] can expect to live eight years less than a baby born in Fayette County [KY].
The reason is that while Campton [KY] and Lexington [KY] are just an hour apart, they differ significantly in ways that have an impact on health and how long people live, such as education levels, poverty level, opportunities to be physically active and access to health care, according to a researcher who mapped life expectancy in the state.”
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article81990682.html#storylink=cpy

My imagination is that if President Trump met Jesus on the way to what he calls his winter “white house”  he would change his budget proposal.  Instead of reducing every program that helps children in Appalachia and elsewhere, he would be expanding the programs and trying to find innovating new ones.

“An agency that pumps millions of dollars each year into economic development in Eastern Kentucky and other Appalachian states would lose federal funding if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget prevails.
Trump would help pay for increased military spending and a U.S.-Mexico wall by eliminating money set aside for several independent agencies financed by the government, including the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The agency, which covers all or parts of 13 Appalachian states, has been a conduit for hundreds of millions in aid to Eastern Kentucky since it was founded in 1965, when poverty rates exceeded 50 percent in some counties and much of the region lacked adequate water, highways and health care.”
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article138835108.html#storylink=cpy

The agency targets extra money and services to so-called distressed counties with high unemployment, low incomes and high poverty. Kentucky has the largest concentration of such counties of any Appalachian state — 37 in fiscal year 2017.

I am not making a judgement about the state of President Trump’s soul or of the souls of those who voted for him, but I am making a statement about the soul of the nation I live in.  We cannot call ourselves a Christian nation and turn our backs on children, the elderly, the homeless, the poor and the disabled.  Jesus will not call us his if we do.  That is truth.  The truth He said Himself when He was here on earth.

If you do not believe that the government should take care of needy children, the elderly, the homeless, the poor and the disabled then as a professing Christian you should make sure you and your church do.  The early church did.
Acts 2:42-47 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

May God Bless You and Walk Beside You This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, March 19, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is Director of Project Dream Again and an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)