Archives For blessing

Disturbing

Erik Cooper —  January 13, 2010 — 1 Comment

Some days the Bible is like a warm blanket by a fire, wrapping me in its promise and assurance, comforting me in times of pain and confusion, pointing the way in the tension and unknown of everyday life.

And some days it’s just flat disturbing.

Hey, just keeping it real.  Try this one on for size:

“If you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

I’d like to tell you that “in the original Greek,” or “according to historical context,” that what you read here isn’t really what Jesus meant.  But I can’t.  So I won’t.  It’s there.  It’s disturbing.

Even after all these years of serving God, pursuing His ways, leading His church, I have to confess something:  I still fall victim to thinking this is all about me. Admit it.  You do, too.  We “love me some me.” (thank you Terrell Owens for that amazing addition to the American pop-culture lexicon).

We long for a God who will strain out the ugly realities of our broken world and leave only the ease, comfort and pleasure we desire to consume.  We want a God committed to elevate the good and eliminate the bad in our little self-oriented kingdoms.

But God isn’t seeking to edit your story.  He wants to give you a whole new script.

Some days I can’t wait to embrace that reality.  And some days it’s just flat disturbing.

Peacefully Destabilizing

Erik Cooper —  December 2, 2009 — 2 Comments

“Jesus told them, ‘you’re all going to feel that your world is falling apart and that it’s my fault.'” (Mark 14:27 MSG)

Ever feel that way?  Like the closer you get to God, the more chaos it brings? Not exactly a great church-marketing strategy.  But the reality is our western, capitalistic church mindset wrongly equates God’s peace with ease, and His blessing with comfort, wealth, and the fulfillment of our personal, self-promoting dreams and desires.

The closer Jesus got to fulfilling his ultimate purpose, the less circumstances made sense to those around Him. And we see this reality unfold with uncomfortable clarity through Jesus’ disciples.

These men invested three years following this fascinating, controversial figure.  He added purpose to their normal, everyday lives, set them up with a new life trajectory, with meaning.  And then just as it seemed all their visions and desires were about to be fulfilled, He’s arrested, tried, and crucified. He died.

Chaos. And it almost seemed as if that’s what He wanted, like He willfully allowed it to happen (um, because He did).

Jesus rocks our worldview. He shakes our assumptions and perspectives to the core.  We like power, control, comfort, predictability. Yet we find following Jesus (really following Him, not just making Him part of your culture or weekly schedule or to-do list check-off) requires us to give all that away.  He replaces it with indescribable peace, joy, and purpose, but the cost is everything.  Everything.

And most days I’m just not willing to pay it. Just being honest.

Have I just brought Jesus into the dialog to make my love of self more palatable, justifiable, culturally acceptable, easier to swallow? Or am I really willing to give up control, power, perspectives, my way of seeing the world?

Following Jesus is the most peacefully destabilizing decision you will ever make. He will undoubtedly make you feel like your world is falling apart, and that it’s all His fault.  And although something in you is begging to run away, to keep control, to stay in power, there’s another part of you that longs for the adventure, that wants desperately to surrender to His game plan, that knows stepping into the uncontrollable chaos is actually the way to real life.

Revealing

Erik Cooper —  November 4, 2009 — 1 Comment

If I’m totally honest (and I try to be most of the time…really, I do), I spend a big chunk of my time pursuing what I naturally see inside this head of mine. I can’t help it.

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Rewards

Erik Cooper —  October 29, 2009 — 2 Comments

“Do good and you’ll be rewarded for it.”
Proverbs 28:10 (MSG)

I love verses like this. I could camp-out here (if I didn’t hate camping).  Stay for awhile.  Maybe put down some roots.  That’s good stuff.  I like rewards.  Rewards are good.  Right?

There I go assuming again…

As I pondered this verse over the past few days, a sobering question arose.  Rewards are good for me, but who says that rewards always feel good? Am I making some bad assumptions:

Reward = comfort
Reward = notoriety
Reward = riches
Reward = happiness
Reward = my desired outcome

Woohoo!  Bring it on God!  I’m ready for my reward!

But what if God’s greatest reward is my crushing? What if it’s the systematic disassembling of everything I ever thought I wanted?  The loss of my dream so that His dreams can come alive in me?  What if that reward is a closeness to God that can only be obtained by the complete dismantling of everything I am?  What if that reward is the putting to death of all my self-driven motivation? What if it comes full of pain, questions, uncertainty, and gut-wrenching, sleepless nights?

Well, uh…you can keep that reward God.  Not interested.  I’m happy to leave that one on the table.  Save that one for someone else.  Yeah, in fact I know exactly who you can give that one to.  Want a name?  I’ve got it right here in my iPhone...gimme just a second…

God’s greatest reward is His presence, His love, His deep and ever-pursuing passion to make right everything in me that I can’t make right on my own.  And all it takes to obtain that reward is…

…all of me.

My reward is His life, but the pathway to get there costs me everything.  Some reward?

Yeah, it is.

Amanda Lynn

Erik Cooper —  June 5, 2009 — 2 Comments

I’ve written songs for and about my kids, blogged about my wonderful mom, and told stories of my selfless father over and over again.  But I’ve never shared anything in this kind of context about my wife, maybe subtly due to the fact that I think that’s too private or intimate, but probably because I’m just far too often oblivious to some of the sweetest blessings God has given me.

I married up...way up.  And while Mandy is human just like the rest of us (although some days I wonder), her God-given traits and spirit are life to my bones, a strength I impulsively lean back into far more than I think I even realize.  I know husbands are contractually obligated to say it (but I really, really mean it), she is undeniably gorgeous.  I often find myself secretly staring at her in the quiet moments, thinking how lucky I am to have a wife who’s internal and external beauty blend into such perfection.  I just love to be near her.

I don’t know another woman more qualified to walk the paths God has asked us to walk.  As the daughter of a pastor, she never wanted to marry one…and she didn’t.  She married a business man, who turned into a musician, who became a pastor, who is now a church planter.  If she would have seen that in the contract, I’d undoubtedly still be single.  But she never blinked, never questioned, never feared (even when I did) as we turned our focus from highly controlled, unlimited earthly upside potential, to a life of risk, big questions, and buckets full of unknowns.  I’m still amazed at her steadiness as this journey has unfolded.

But more than anything I love her heart…her heart for others.  It can seem hidden in her somewhat introverted nature, but she derives so much satisfaction in doing things for other people.  Her dream is to one day have a decorating firm that is both a business and a ministry, serving less fortunate people by bringing new life to the interiors of their homes.  (Secretly, I tihnk she just wants her own TLC show!).  If she wasn’t a mom she could be running a Fortune 500 company.  I can’t wait until the time is right to help her get it started.

So here’s to my unbelievable wife.  I love you Mandy.  As I look around, it’s undeniable that I have been blessed in ways I can’t even begin to quantify.  But I would trade them all in for you.  Thank you for being my wife.  Thank you for taking this journey with me.  Can’t wait to see how the rest of it unfolds.

“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.” (Proverbs 31:10 MSG)